Local Businesses Raise Direct Mail Standards
The Who's Mailing What! Archive recently received, from a local heating-oil company, a mailing that was about as sophisticated as Homer Simpson. Primitive graphics (on a sheet of 20 lb paper) showed a cartoonish image of Saddam Hussein alongside a missile, with the how'd-they-ever-think-of-it messaging: "Don't get bombed by skyrocketing oil prices."
It's unlikely this flier-style mailing pulled record response, especially in today's local marketplace, where many businesses are using more advanced direct mail strategies than ever.
Several good examples of the improving quality of local efforts we've been seeing arrived in the Archive in December.
A 51/2" x 81/2" self-mailer from Tony & Lenny's Mobil in Cinnaminson, NJ (361TOLEMO1203), may leave a little to be desired design-wise, but its offer and letter to new residents overshadow any aesthetic shortcomings.
The letter opens:
"Dear Neighbor, I would like to ... welcome you to the neighborhood and introduce our services to you by offering your vehicle a FREE oil change and safety inspection. There are no strings attached, just a chance to greet the new families in the community ..."
After noting the shop's location and service capabilities, the letter closes by addressing consumers' concerns of being taken for a ride on car repair costs. Then, another incentive is given to come in not just once, not twice, but five times: The fifth oil change also is free, with the attached coupon.
A mailing from the Fort Washington Fire Company in Pennsylvania (611FOWAFC1203), was equally impressive. A three-fold, four-color brochure opens to a spread showing what it costs to outfit a firefighter, from his $350 helmet to $250 boots. On the back, costs are shown for various fire-fighting equipment, from rescue ropes to fire trucks, perhaps inspiring prospects to donate more than they would have had they not known the extensive equipment costs. In 2002, the mailing drew a 23 percent response, and 41 percent of those who had donated the year before increased their donations.
The fire company relies on an agency called Choice Marketing to create and distribute its direct mail. But it isn't the only local organization to enlist Choice Marketing's services. The agency handles direct mail for a number of other fire companies, as well as police benevolent associations. "The fund drives are very specifically geared to what each company needs," says Teresa Thompson, a sales rep for Choice One and member of the Fort Washington Fire Company.
Thompson says she has seen rising interest from local organizations, as they learn that a more professional, targeted approach is what works.
Another business that raises some standards is the Delran Auto Wash (361DEAUWA1203) in Delran, NJ, which also sent a mailing to new residents. The #9 outer teases a "Free Gift, Especially for This New Neighbor." Inside is a gift certificate for a free "Best 'Works Wash.'"
The letter is complete with a Johnson box and body copy that spells out what the prospect will receive with her free gift. And, like Tony & Lenny's Mobil, the Delran Auto Wash promises "the customer always comes first." Everything the prospect needs to take advantage of the offer is included: directions, operating hours and a phone number.
With many local businesses stepping up their marketing efforts, perhaps others who haven't yet done so will follow suitor they just might get bombed by skyrocketing competition.