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7 Tips for Successful Direct Marketing

By: William J. Lynott
Posted: January 28, 2011, from the February 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Marketing is an essential ingredient in the recipe for growth—even survival—in today’s tough economy. Yet, many spa owners shy away from all but the most obvious ways to promote their businesses. For some, their entire marketing program, if they have one at all, consists of an expensive ad in the telephone book. Curiously, one of the most neglected marketing techniques especially suited to spa owners is also one of the least costly and potentially most profitable: direct mail.

Here are the main reasons why direct mail can be a profitable advertising medium for you.

  • Direct mail is a targeted medium. It’s easy to aim your advertising dollars exclusively at legitimate prospects.
  • If your direct mail piece features an offer, its results can be tracked easily.
  • Desktop computers and inexpensive software have made it easier than ever to design and produce professional quality direct mail packages. Although it is always preferable to seek professional help, it is not an absolute requirement in basic direct mail campaigns.

Following are seven tips to use in order to improve your spa’s direct mail promotions.

  1. Target your direct mail dollars to your best prospects—your own client list. People who have done business with you in the past are your best prospects for additional business. So, if you have maintained your client list, congratulations; you’re all set to enjoy the benefits of direct mail marketing. If you haven’t, now’s the time to start refining your client data. Of all the variables in direct mail campaigns, the most important by far is the mailing list itself. This is referred to as the 60-30-10 rule; that is, 60% of the success of a mailing depends on the list used, 30% on the offer put forth and only 10% on the creative design.
  2. Don’t forget the important care and feeding of a direct mail list. People move away from your market area in numbers that may surprise you. According to government statistics, one in five Americans change their address each year. That means that a list untended for two or three years will suffer serious deterioration in quality. An easy way to keep your list up-to-date is to request address corrections from your post office on at least one mailing a year. There’s a small expense for this service, but it’s money well spent.
  3. Spend lots of time developing an attention-grabbing headline. With today’s short attention spans, your headline must give the reader an instant reason to continue reading. If your headline doesn’t do its job, the rest of your package won’t matter.
  4. Try to work in one or more power words in your headline or the body of your main copy. These include: free, new, you, value, yes, discover, introducing, announcing, fast, benefits, money, security, safety, save, results, proven, guaranteed, facts, now, solution and amazing. They work.
  5. Resist the temptation to make your spa name the most prominent element in your package. Your offer and how it will benefit the client is the most important part of a successful direct mail promotion.
  6. Sell benefits, not features. You must give the reader a reason to respond. Tell clients how they will benefit by doing business with your spa. Keep the following reminder in front of you when you are preparing your direct mail copy: Tell me about my lawn, not your grass seed.
  7. You can’t sell if you don’t tell. You must tell your readers exactly what you want them to do. If you want them to telephone for information, tell them to do it, and then tell them again. If you want them to visit your spa, tell them to do it. Clients have more reasons for postponing a decision than you can imagine. Your job is to convince them to act ... now.

William J. Lynott is a veteran freelance writer who specializes in business management, as well as personal and business finance. His work appears regularly in leading trade publications and newspapers, in addition to consumer magazines such as Reader’s Digest, AARP Bulletin and Family Circle.