Boost Your Direct Mail Response Rates with Mapping Technology

On Superbowl Sunday, Domino’s Pizza delivered more than 900,000 pizzas–and mapping technology helped. How do 60,000 pizza outlets serving 3 billion pizzas per year compete in an industry where reputations and dollars are dependent on “fast, hot and delivered to the door?” Global Positioning System (GPS) technology!

Here’s how you can use this great invention to increase your direct mail results–even if you’ve only got one store with local customers.

GPS may be mapping from outer space, but desktop mapping technology can be a “weapon of mass destruction” for competitive marketers. With it, you can visualize your database information to see patterns that have a geographic component. For retailers and service businesses, that translates into “Which locations or neighborhoods am I best positioned in to serve my customers?”

Retailers typically serve a trade area of up to 10 miles. Service companies like to set up “routes” to maximize their travel time. By seeing a visual of your customer data, it’s easy to see where you should bulk up your marketing efforts and where you should scale back–neighborhood by neighborhood–instead of by zip code, which is the way most companies think of their target area.

Rather than sending mail to “everyone in a 3-mile radius,” marketers can use mapping to analyze demographic trade areas at a finer level, such as carrier routes, zip+4′s or Census Block Groups, to monitor their return on investment. Eliminate underserved areas, and you’ll decrease advertising costs and increase results!

Future mailings can suppress weaker or non-responsive neighborhoods and increase mailing quantity to “like” demographic areas, resulting in a mailer’s dream: Fewer mail pieces, more results. You can even overlay demographic information, such as home value, income, business population, etc., onto these newly mapped areas for an additional layer of intelligence.

Competitive Analysis

Mapping is also a solution for competitive analysis. By plotting yours and the competition’s store locations, then profiling the markets for age, income, home value, zip code penetration, etc., you’ll find kernels of truth that can lead you to an offensive marketing strategy or better site selection.

Mapping can be a valuable tool even when the business’s only marketing asset is a customer list of names and addresses without transaction (purchasing) information or anything else because critical geographical information can be appended and then analyzed. Franchisors and chain stores rely heavily on mapping technology to assign territories and drive customer traffic based on natural and man-made barriers (highways, rivers, bridges, etc.). Business marketers can improve “inquiry to closing” rates, plan sales calls more effectively, realign sales territories and measure sales force activities.

Mapping projects can be performed “in-house” with a relatively inexpensive software purchase of approximately $300-$400 or projects can be hired out for more sophisticated results that link back to spreadsheet or database information for ongoing analysis and can cost from $50 – $2,500. Whether your business delivers pizzas or manages a dealer network of 1,000 HVAC technicians, mapping technology can add a visual dimension to data analysis that is often more understandable than spreadsheets and graphs.

Direct Marketing – The Future of Advertisement

In large part because of the ever-evolving internet, direct marketing has become an increasingly popular sales method. This form of marketing is essentially an alternative to traditional advertisement strategies. Most of the companies that utilize these traditional methods pay for mass exposure in the form of television and radio commercials, newspaper ads, and by constantly running widespread internet advertisements.

When executing traditional marketing strategies, companies are simply appealing to the masses and hoping enough potential customers see their advertisements. Direct Sales Marketers operate in a vastly different manner than the aforementioned.

I’m Still Not Sure What Direct Marketing Is…

This strategy of marketing involves a salesman that brings their product right to you. Instead of hoping that the right demographic of customers is exposed to their massive advertisement campaigns, direct salesmen target specific customers and their specific needs. For example, if a direct marketer is representing a sugar loaded energy drink, he first determines who in the market is most likely to purchase the product and then targets those specific individuals.

Trying to sell a group of elderly woman at a Red Hat Club meeting a case of energy drinks is more than likely a waste of your valuable time and theirs. If the marketer sets up sales meetings with college students or young adults, he is far more likely to succeed in the selling of the product. If executed correctly, direct marketing has proven to be a fruitful industry time and time again.

It Sounds Like a Fun Career. How Can I Get In?

Direct marketing is a very unique career choice. Those involved in this industry are usually independent from the companies they represent and are self-employed. Self-employed marketers enjoy freedoms that most other members of our workforce dream of. When you don’t have a boss, guess who determines work hours? You do! People that have chosen this form of employment do a considerable amount of their work online and are able to work from home in the comfort of their furry robe. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this sector, there are a myriad of different products you can represent.

Does This Form of Marketing Pay Well?

Independent direct marketers are in complete control of their financial destiny. These entrepreneurs aren’t held hostage by a salary cap like other sales positions. Having access to a sales career with unlimited earning potential is close to unheard of. Product dependent, direct salesman are generally compensated well for their work. As in any entrepreneurial leap, a direct marketers income is entirely dependent on his quality and frequency of work. There is a phenomenal amount of money to be made in this industry.

A quick way to rise amongst the ranks of successful direct marketers is to establish a strong online presence. By blogging daily and running marketing and ad campaigns, you can gain validity in the eyes of your constituents and, more importantly, the eyes of your potential customers. This form of marketing offers a rare opportunity for self-employment and limitless mobility.

If you’re an entrepreneur or salesman at heart, direct marketing may be just the career you’re looking for.

Why Direct Mail Marketing?

Direct mail has long been used as an effective marketing tool for various products and services. If you target your audience well, you may have an excellent return on your direct mail investment. Therefore, it is very important to send mailings to only the correct demographic of potential customers. One way you can target your direct mail campaign is to purchase a list of names and addresses of people who have purchased a product or service similar to the one you are advertising. This ensures you have a warm and receptive market. Be sure the list is fresh. You do not want leads that are too old.

However, if you are selling something the customer might not need or want very often, such as automobiles or computers or other major durable goods, you might want to select leads that are a bit older to target folks who both have interest in what you are offering and who may be ready to upgrade or replace their previous purchase. There are other ways to collect leads.

If you already have a customer base, you have warm leads already to which you can send your direct mail piece. Ask your existing customers for referrals. You might be surprised at the new customers you can acquire. Direct mail is a good technique because it places something tangible in a potential buyer’s mailbox. The prospect will at least have to handle the mail piece and make a decision to read, toss, or act upon the offer. It is all too easy to ignore flashing banner ads on the Internet, which are not tangible and are often annoying.

Another benefit of direct mail marketing is that it is possible to get a bulk mail rate which is cheaper than regular postage rates if you are sending a large enough quantity of mail pieces. Even with all these possible benefits, be aware that the majority of your prospects, no matter how carefully you select them, will simply toss or recycle your direct mail piece. That is okay. Remember to target your leads, create attractive mail pieces that people will want to open, and mail in quantity to get good results.