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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Direct mail, email, and faxing

In a previous posting, Gordon Clotworthy, CEO and President of The Information Refinery, speaks about the advantages of direct mail and the dangers of both email and faxing. His business of course offers a list brokerage, so he is selling the data for direct mail (and phone solicitation) marketing. I have no doubt about his integrity, however, if the context is purchasing or renting list data from a broker or other third-party. In these cases, you must not even consider using the fax, and email will be of limited value and effectiveness.
The circumstances are however entirely different if the list is yours and you have permission to market to your audience. In other words, you can use emailing and faxing to great effectiveness and value if your readers want your materials. Then your cost per lead drops to an impressively low level, and your response rate will skyrocket.
The challenge is building the list -- of course, you can start with current and former clients. Inbound inquiries from your website are also useful. Effective Internet promotion however requires patience and lots of 'give' before you can expect anything in return. It took almost eight months for this blog to start 'working' from a marketing perspective -- generating some inbound inquiries that can go onto our newsletter and (where appropriate) to the sales team. I sense the real value of this list -- and it is now growing rapidly because of high Google keyword rankings -- will be measured in the next six months to year; and its true potential will only emerge in about two to three years.
We also use the fax and email when we are working with highly qualified referred leads -- and our message is specifically relevant to the referral.
For example, in Canada, we use the fax effectively to sell advertising to clients on referred supplier lists for feature reports. These lists are customized, small, and used only for the specific feature/project. (U.S. fax rules are challenging, however. In these cases, while we are satisfied we are in compliance with the 'prior business relationship' provisions in U.S advertising fax control legislation, we always call ahead and invite anyone receiving our call to opt out of receiving the fax before we send it.)
Obviously, fax and email permission marketing are not instant solutions or quick fixes. And that is why they are both effective for businesses with patience and a good reputation, and perhaps frustrating for people seeking instant relief to their marketing problems who want to see clients once, take their money, and be done.
So, essentially, I'm advocating that email and fax will far outperform direct mail (and at much lower cost) if you have earned the right to use these powerful marketing tools -- but you will only earn that right by delivering real, proven value, and build relationships founded on trust and integrity. If you don't have these yet want to build your list 'fast', call or email Gordon Clotworthy. You'll pay more far more per communication (allowing for postage, printing, mail preparation and list brokerage costs) but you will comply with the law and Gordon should be able to guide you about what is the best strategy for your business.

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