Simple Formulas

A 5-step plan to win business

1. Put together a mailing list

This is not hard. All you have to do is give people a reason to give you their names and addresses.

This could be as easy as a notebook on your counter with a sign that invites customers to "Join our mailing list." Or a fishbowl that says "Enter to win a luxury cruise."

If you have a service business, one where items are brought in for repair or cleaning, or if you issue invoices, you have a natural opportunity to ask for names and addresses. Don't squander it. Collect that information.

You might also consider renting a mailing list. Professional list brokers can help you identify the characteristics of people who are most likely to become customers, and provide mailing lists of people who fit that profile.

2. Devise an offer

Once you have a list of names and addresses, you have to give people on that list a reason to do business with you. Or better yet, a reason to do business with you now.

Discounts and sales are among the most common offers because they steer business your way that might otherwise go to competitors.

But anyone can have a sale. Make it a private sale only for people on your mailing list and you gain loyalty and sales. If your business thrives on repeat customers, a well-timed reminder is as much customer service as it is a traffic builder. A dog groomer, for instance, can remind pet owners when their pet is due for a bath. A window washer can remind customers that it's time for a visit.

Professionals seeking new customers can offer anything from a free consultation to a get-acquainted cup of coffee. Anything that might get the attention and interest of a prospect can do the trick.

3. Create and mail the offer

Now it's time to present your offer to the list. You can create the mailing yourself with a personal computer and templates that come with many word-processing programs. Or you can get help. There may be local freelance artists and writers who have the experience you need. Ask a printer or colleague for referrals.

The mailings themselves can be very easy to produce and manage. Most word-processing programs come with a mail-merge feature that can automatically turn mailing lists into personalized letters, postcards, brochures and catalogs.

Some programs can be very low tech. A children's shoe store, for example, can put twelve dividers into an index card file-one for each month of the year. Then print postcards that remind parents to check their growing child's shoe size. Every time a customer leaves the store, the clerk can address one of these postcards to the customer.

4. Look at your results

Mail is measurable. You know right away if it works because people come in or call right away. Count the coupons that come in. See how many customers come back. Ask your customers for feedback. The fact is, you can calculate the profitability of every mailing you send out. Then adjust your program for the next step.

5. Repeat

A successful mail program is just that, a program. To be successful, you need to mail consistently and frequently. If you have a good list and good offers, and mail consistently, you can build your business through the mail.

The U.S. Postal Service™ can help your business grow. You don't have to be a "Direct Mail" expert with big computers and even bigger budgets to build your business with the mail. Bakeries get traffic, boutiques move inventory, and service providers from mechanics to consultants get repeat business through simple, inexpensive Direct Mail strategies. Sometimes businesses use technology that's no more complicated than paper, pencils and postcards.

If you know your business, you can use the mail to win and keep customers. Simply:

1) Put together a mailing list
2) Devise an offer
3) Create and mail the offer
4) Look at your results
5) Repeat


Zairmail is an Authorized Affiliate Merchant with the U.S. Postal Service

Simple Formulas is a series of publications offered by the United States Postal Service and sponsored by Zairmail. Zairmail is an authorized online affiliate of the United States Postal Service.



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