Why one-shot direct mail is marketing suicide

Here’s how most people do marketing, particularly their direct mail.

They get a list, such as our tax lien lists. They print a flyer, brochure, postcard, coupon, etc. They send it to this list ONCE. Then, no matter what happens, good, bad, or ugly, they never touch this list again.

I received an email last week from a reader saying that direct mail doesn’t work. He went on to explain that last year, he had obtained 2,000 tax liens from us, then sent them all a letter. He got ZERO responses.

For one, getting absolutely zero responses out of 2,000 letters definitely tells me there was something wrong with whatever he sent them (which I happily would have critiqued for him at no cost if he had attached a copy to his email). But secondly, the biggest problem was that he only sent them something ONCE. It simply doesn’t work like that. You can’t send something to a group of people one time and one time only and then say, “Direct mail doesn’t work.” Direct mail DOES work…you’re just doing it wrong (sorry to be blunt, but the truth hurts sometimes).

Woody Allen is quoted as saying that “80% of success is showing up”. This is just as true for marketing as it is for performing artists. Statistically speaking, study after study shows that over 3/4 of all customers buy a product or service after the 5th contact from the salesperson or company they buy from.

Here are some other statistics: About 48% of sales people never make a follow up contact with a prospect. Less than 25% of sales professionals make two follow up contacts, and less than 12% make a third follow up attempt (e.g., a 4th contact).

If less than 12% of people make a 4th contact, and over 3/4 of sales are made after the 5th contact, then guess who’s getting those 3/4 of all sales?

That’s right: The company getting all those clients are the ones making the multiple contacts!

Let me phrase that another way: The secret to success in marketing is repetition.

I’m sure that you are fully aware of what battery company uses a cute little bunny rabbit banging on drums to sell their product. However, did you make that association the very first time you ever saw their commercial? Highly doubtful. Chances are, it took dozens of repetitions for you to make the mental association chain of “rabbit -> drums -> Energizer batteries”.

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The same is true for your services. The first time somebody hears from you, it barely registers. The 20th time they hear from you, they not only know who you are, but recognize your photo, can repeat your slogan, know your dog’s name, etc.

Why does this work, and why is it so important? Quite simply, it’s because different people are ready to buy your tax services at different points in time, and by keeping in contact with prospects for a greater period of time, you are going to be putting your marketing materials in their hands on the day that they finally decide to spend money.

This is especially important if your specialty is tax resolution, and here’s why: You are competing with the giant, national tax resolution firms that create a telemarketing tidal wave when tax liens are first filed. Those companies pick off the first 25% or so of the tax resolution market – the low hanging fruit. But then their closers give up on those prospects that received proposals, generally after only a couple weeks and a few more contacts.

And by the way, if you are a firm that is doing telemarketing, then you need to have a serious conversation with your closers regarding their follow up habits, because I’m willing to bet you that, quite frankly, their follow up habits straight up suck.

Every prospect you send a proposal to should be hearing from you EVERY WEEK, either by mail or telephone (alternate these for best results), for at least 3 months. Then, they should be hearing from you at least every two weeks for a YEAR. If you aren’t doing this, and you don’t have systems in place for doing this, then you are missing out on the largest group of clients that exist, period.

If you are considering doing a one-shot marketing test, either because you read something I wrote or got fired up at a seminar or by a new book, then stop. Don’t do it. You’d be better off taking that cash and giving it to people on the street, because at that way you’d be making eyeball to eyeball contact with other people. If you’re going to do any form of marketing, do it right from the beginning, or don’t do it at all.