Since ancient times when mankind first discovered that you could make money on the internet, the battle has raged as to whether it’s better to do your marketing online or offline. After all, email is free to send, right? Google or FaceBook can send you thousands of prospects a day at no cost. And people are so much more used to doing stuff on the internet, gathering information, buying products, even looking for local services.
Yeah, I know, you’re already thinking “Do Both”…but should you?
I recently sent a mailing to local businesses in my city offering a free report, aiming to get copywriting clients. Got the list, slapped up a 2 page sales letter, stuck their newspaper ad at the top and let fly. From a tiny list of just over 100, got 4 responses, and the marketing funnel is swinging into action. Those of you who have been around for a while will realize that’s a good result, for a blind mailing.
If I’d sent them all an email, you think I might have had a spam complaint or two? Probably. But even from the interested parties, I wouldn’t expect much of a response from 100 names. In fact, I never prospect via email, not just because of spam laws, but because of the positioning and the clutter.
The positioning aspect is a valuable lesson. Any bozo can sit down and send out an email. But if you’re prepared to invest in postage, paper and ink, time and effort, it really stands out. This leads right into the other aspect…
There Is Far Less Clutter In The Mailbox Outside Their House
Sure, there’s the odd mailer from an insurance company, the local real estate folks, various catalogs, etc. But there is hardly anything worth mentioning here, let alone proper direct response pieces.
It’s true that people sort their mail over the bin. But where I live, it only takes a minute to dump the catalogs, minus the one I might have a quick look at later. Bills, go in a pile to open later. Personal mail? Never get any. I get emails and FaceBook messages and phone calls from family and friends.
So If I Get A Personal-Looking Letter…It Sticks Out Like A Sore Thumb
Online, well, everybody and their dog is online. And believe me, if they’re on your email list, they’re on everyone else’s list as well. A sales letter in the hand is worth two in the bush (the internet) and they’re much more likely to at least flick through it, if the headline doesn’t immediately get them reading. On a web page, if the headline doesn’t work it’s magic, they won’t even scroll down to see how much it is.
The Best Direct Mail Piece I Ever Saw
A few months back I got a letter from a well known charity. It was unstamped, unaddressed, just looked like an envelope some kid had grabbed and written a note on the back. I still haven’t figured out how they got that font to look so much like a child’s pencil handwriting. Inside was a letter asking for a donation. But the envelope is one of my favorite swipe file pieces. I am going to swipe that one for sure.
But I’ve always found it difficult to get on to offline mailing lists. The problem is persistence – most companies, big or small, have all the stamina of an 89 year old arthritis patient, when it comes to mailings. Even some people who start out with really good direct response mailings eventually give up the ghost.
Of course most mailings companies do are just a crappy flyer or brochure, they’re looking to save costs. What they don’t know and probably never will is that direct mail can give you a huge bang for your buck.
See, I love to get things in my hands, sit down and read them. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I find this much more comfy than reading something on a computer screen. If I wasn’t addicted to the delete key due to typing faster than I should, I would be writing this on a good old fashioned typewriter. Seriously.
I Have The Answer To The Offline Vs Online Argument
It’s a 2 part answer. Firstly, assuming you realize you should be using ALL media to get customers, not just one or two, try integrating both medias. To generate leads, send out a postcard, driving people to register online for a webinar. This works. Put your URL in your display ads, sales letters, business cards, on coffee cups, on bumper stickers, everywhere.
You can also coax your online leads into the offline world. I haven’t found a consistently effective way to get online visitors to call a toll free number, but from your existing list, offer them some free gift if they will give you their offline details. Instead of uploading a video, offer to send it to their home or office for free. If they spend any kind of decent money with you, send them a welcome pack or gift in the mail. How many websites do that?
I would walk naked over hot coals wearing a beard of bees for a good offline lead. Come to think of it, it’s time to create another mailing for my offline list. See ya next time.
Brian Cassingena is Australia’s #1 Copywriting Strategy Expert, direct response copywriter and digital nomad. He runs Cassingena Copy, the 14 Day eBook Factory and other businesses while traveling the world.