Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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Making Your Direct Mail Work

How to make sale circulars a more profitable advertising method

Without question, direct mail can be the most effective and best value for the advertising dollar spent. Our concern today is to find and maximize all of the advantages that direct mail can provide to your business.

Our first of six steps is to review where and when you distribute these flyers. As compared to simply ordering more flyers, utilizing a pin map is the most effective way to find your customers. Before, during, and after your sale, a pin map is created by mounting a street map of your trade area on a bulletin board near your checkouts. As customers pay for their selections, you give them a straight pin with a colored head, asking them to indicate on the map where they live.

You may want to utilize several colors of pins to gather additional information about your customers; those who rent or own their home, purchases of less than or more than $20, or any other possible combination of answers which will help you to better understand your customers. As you collect this information, you will see where you need to be sending your direct mail. You will want to increase the quantities of flyers in these areas as you work to find the outer boundaries of where your customers live.

The second step is educating your staff. If you are not already having bi-weekly staff meetings, my experience is that staff meetings are one of the best investments you can make in your business.

In the staff meeting before your next flyer, take the time to review each item, and where it is located on the sales floor. Be sure to talk about the sale prices, and what items lead to selling up to a more expensive item.

Step number three is the timing of your event. As compared to distributing all of your flyers on one day, you should spread the distribution over several dates. The first reason for multiple distributions is to eliminate the possibility of weather diminishing your sales returns. The second argument for multiple distributions is the ability to reorder items, which have had exceptional sales. A third advantage of the split distribution is having a preview sale for customers who frequently shop with you. A preview sale is a great way to build customer loyalty. You can create the list of names for your preview sale using the next step.

Throughout this sale, and all others you have, utilize contests to gather names for your mailing list. As compared to traditional forms of advertising which are viewed, heard, or read by the general public, a list of names of people who have shopped in your business provide you with those which are most likely to return to your business to shop again. Remember the old business adage of, "Never forget a customer, and never let a customer forget you”.

The last two steps work together as we are discussing the appearance of your store. Even during time periods when you are not having a sale, you should work to give the store a new appearance every three days. When you are ordering the merchandise to support a direct mail event, you should also order additional sign kits and plenty of crepe paper. As the first customers walk into your store as you begin your preview sale, you want them to get the feel of excitement and that of a party atmosphere.

Speaking of parties, refreshments throughout the sale are surely in order. Tie this in with the contests we have already mentioned, and the message you are conveying is festive as compared to being "just another direct mail sale" like the competition has.

While we are decorating the store to make it fun for everyone, let's not forget to strategically place the items in the sale circular about the store. To make sure the customers see everything you sell, make sure the items in the direct mail are not grouped together. Again using the signs in the direct mail kit, the items should be shown with non-sale items you want the customer to see and buy.

The end caps should also be an important part of your merchandising strategy. Items, which are featured on the front and back covers of the direct mail piece, are excellent choices to build a power end cap. A well-built end cap can sell as much merchandise as half of one side of the adjoining counter.

Add together these six steps, and you have the necessary ingredients for a successful and profitable direct mail event. And after all, increased profits and sales; aren't those the reasons why you chose to use direct mail?

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars, Profits Plus Solutions coaching, books authored, and articles written. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his web site:

Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179