Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How to Double (Even Triple) Client Response Rates

Marketing is the bane of every freelancer's existence (in fact, EVERY business owner's existence). Most of us hate it, but it must be done.

So, how do you get the most out of it? By making it personal. Following the steps outlined below, you should easily double -- maybe even triple -- response rates on your next campaign.

1. DECREASE the number of mailings/campaigns: "Huh?!" you may be thinking. "How is that supposed to increase my response rate?" Quite simply by doing some background work. You can't possibly review/read about/research a thousand companies in a week's time.

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BUT, you could make a concerted effort to spend a solid week doing 250. Visit websites, make notes of company accomplishments, call to get a name, etc. Mention something in your correspondence that proves you've done your homework. Rigth off the bat, you stand out b/c you're not just another marketer.

MARKETING GOLD! As mentioned in yesterday's post, finding out who to send your correspondence to serves three purposes: 1) saves on postage; 2) has a greater chance of being opened; and 3) creates a clean database.

Getting personal takes time, so you will be able to make contact with fewer prospects, but the contact you do make has a lot better chance of paying dividends because it stands out.

2. Send out a reasonable number each time you e-mail/mail. No, this does not contradict the first point.

I like to send mailings of at least 250 because you can get an idea of how well a campaign worked with this number. Anything smaller doesn't give you enough data to make an educated judgement about whether a mailer/email campaign was effective, or not.

Does your market respond to humor, sarcasm, a serious tone, folksy bits and pieces, etc. You always want to get an idea of why one campaign pulls better than another to judge what's working and what's not.

Doing 8 or 10 campaigns a year of 250 or more should allow you to get a really good feel for what's working -- and perhaps more importantly, what's not.

3. Be Kind to the Gatekeeper: When you call a company, try to get the name of the person who answered the phone. This person is likely the one who handles all incoming mail, phone calls, packages, etc. They really can make or break your business.

I always record the name of this person and send them a thank you card, saying something to the effect of:

"Thank you for the assistance when I called on 12/18 to inquire about the name of the Creative Director. I'm sure you get bombarded with requests on a daily basis and I appreciate the time you took to help me out."

I always include a business card.

Now, do you think this person is more, or less, likely to make sure my message/package gets to the appropriate party when it comes? More, of course!

I don't schmooze the help only to get something though. I'm a great believer in karma -- eg, what you put out comes back to you. And, I think as a society we underappreciate those who aren't a direct help to us. I always keep a box of thank you cards on hand -- I usually buy them in bulk at my local dollar store.

The most important reason I send thank you cards though is because my mom was big on manners -- after all, we are southern and to do otherwise would be, well, unnatural (said with a drawl)!

Although these steps may seem like common sense, as my grandmother used to say, "Most of us have it, but many of us refuse to use it."

As always, good luck in your marketing efforts.

Creatively yours,
Y. Black, Publisher
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