This topic was inspired by a comment from Bestscubatrainer. Don’t like it? Blame him/her.
In a previous life, I worked for a title and escrow company as their Director of Marketing and Technology, Associate Vice President (long title, I negotiated for it). Shortly after starting, I was informed that one of my monthly tasks was to create a series of templates for postcards for real estate professionals to mail out to their “sphere”.
My jaw dropped. “Postcards?! Direct mail?!” I proclaimed loudly.
I was informed that real estate professionals believed that consumers would keep their postcards, attach them to their refrigerator and they would come calling just as soon as they had some real estate needs.
It was my job to crush that dream
Admittedly, I belong to a younger generation that does everything online. But I observed my older family members checking mail once a week and recycling 99% of what came, especially anything that was a solicitation.
These days, 80% of people in the US with internet access do their banking online. People send emails instead of letters. Catalogs have moved online. The USPS is even considering dropping a delivery day because volume is so low.
Many people only check their mail if they’re already expecting something, like a package or a check.
Can you track that postcard?
One of my degrees is in finance, where return on investment (ROI) rules. How do you track the ROI of a postcard or other piece of direct mail?
You can get a bounce rate based on how many came back to you.
There’s no way to track an open rate.
The only ways you can track response rate is using special phone numbers, offering promotion codes or making sure your entire staff asks “how’d you hear about us?” and actually tracks it somewhere.
I watched real estate professionals spend upwards of a thousand dollars per month throwing their money down the drain.
When Direct Mail is Appropriate for Your SCUBA Business
There are becoming fewer and fewer instances when direct mail is appropriate. Here are a few examples:
- Birthday/holiday cards. For some reason, people still like to get cards on these days.
- Special VIP events. Make sure you send these out fairly early because some people might not check their mail for a couple of weeks at a time.
- For the <5% of your customer base that refuses to use email. They’re out there.
If you’re going to go the direct mail route, from my years of experience, I would recommend ExpressCopy. They’re inexpensive and have access to demographic information so they can provide a list based on your targeting. At the time of this writing, they’re even doing a promo for 20% off.
If Not Direct Mail, What?
If you use MailChimp like I do, most SCUBA instructors and dive centers won’t pay a dime for the service. You can easily track the success. Your customers can reply quickly and easily. It’s amazingly fast to create and send a campaign.
Just don’t spam.
Direct Mail is Dead
If you want to spend money, damage the environment and have no way of tracking your marketing success, use direct mail.
If you want to save money, minimize your impact in the environment and track the most minute detail of your marketing, use MailChimp.