When you run a small business, particular attention has to be given to properly managing and allocating your resources. You must understand who your customers are and how you can attract them to your business. In the retail sector, small businesses do not have the budget to try to compete against the Walmarts and Home Depots of the world. Those corporate giants can have multi-million dollar websites and a huge marketing budget. If you cannot afford expensive television advertising or a high-tech online marketing campaign, a good alternative is to turn your attention to print media.
Yes, that’s right. Contrary to what many people think, direct mail is still a very affordable and effective means of reaching people who fit into a specific demographic group. Nearly 20 percent of every dollar spent on advertising in the United States is direct mail. When you open your mailbox and see an offer from a local restaurant or a flyer for specials at the grocery store, you are more apt to read it than if you saw that same ad on the internet.
Direct mail has the highest response rate of all media forms. You can control the cost by limiting the number of pieces mailed and by developing a very focused mailing list that pinpoints those who are most likely to respond. A properly conducted direct mail campaign works.
Five Reasons Why Direct Mail Works
- You can personalize each piece to the recipient.
- You can save money by only targeting those most likely to respond positively.
- You can avoid getting lost in the clutter of all other marketing channels.
- You can see your results and use them to make adjustments on future mailings.
- Your printed material is more permanent than an online ad or email.
Cost of Direct Mail
The U.S. Postal Service is actually a very good resource for small businesses who want to conduct a direct mail campaign. You can take advantage of the special business rate on first-class mail. If you want to target people living in your local zipcode, you can send direct mail weighing up to two ounces for just $0.36 per piece. That compares favorably to the standard $0.46 per piece for just one ounce of first class mail.
As an example of how direct mail can be the best way to attract the right customers to your store, consider the following scenario. You run a small business that sells cribs, diapers and other items for infants. If you develop a list of new or expectant mothers in a ten-mile radius of your location, you can send each of those households an attractive invitation to visit your store. You can include an incentive (coupon) on the mailing to increase the response rate.
Another very affordable way to get your message out is to design and print flyers. You can do this on your own computer or bring it to a local printing services shop. You can post the flyers in public places, hire someone to stick them on the windshields of cars in parking lots near your location, or distribute them right inside your store.
A small cardboard placard that hangs from a doorknob can be a real attention-getter. When someone arrives home from work and sees a cardboard hangar or bright orange plastic bag on their front door, they are always curious about what it is and who it is from. This is an effective way to get people interested in what you have to sell. You can use these printed ads to announce a big sale, special event or anything else that you want to say.
Whether you are forced to operate on a shoestring budget or you have set aside a sizeable sum for marketing, print media is a good option for many small businesses. If your target audience is only the local community, it does not make sense to try to get your message out on the internet to people living 500 miles away. There is always the opportunity to combine print advertising with other forms of advertising as your company grows and has more money to spend.