Postcard Marketing beating out email marketing?
by Lisa Shaw
I woke up the other day and read another article proving what many real estate agents are finding to be true in real estate marketing, in particular real estate postcard marketing. Read for yourself, this article from the Wall Street Journal:
Author: Teri Evans
Source: The Wall Street Journal (wsj.com) (visit article)
Looking to cut costs amid the recession, Alicia Settle initially thought it would be a good idea to eliminate her company’s™s annual direct mailing.
Spending about $20,000 on the personally signed letters, which offered customers a discount on early orders, seemed indulgent for Per Annum Inc., which sells city diaries, albums, and planners in the struggling corporate gift market. But after swapping snail mail for email last year, Ms. Settle saw a 25% drop in early orders compared with the same period the previous year.
“We realized we had made a huge mistake,” says Ms. Settle, president of the New York firm.
The affordability of e-marketing, along with the explosion of social media and the desire to trim costs in the recession, has prompted many small companies like Per Annum to slash traditional direct-mail budgets. U.S. consumers received about 5.2 billion pieces of direct mail in the third quarter of 2009, a 27% decline compared with 7.1 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a research firm that tracks direct-mail marketing.
However, some entrepreneurs who were quick to write off direct mail as too pricey or passe are finding itâ€™s not so easy to dismiss.
Ms. Settle says that at first she blamed the economy for the dropoff, until she â€œstarted hearing from customers that they never got their â€˜reminderâ€™ in the mail.â€ Ms. Settle quickly sent a postcard mailing in June, which recouped the 25% loss, she says.
Costs are still taken into account. Many entrepreneurs find that the boiler-plate methods of the past â€“ such as purchasing mailing lists and sending fliers or coupons to a mass audience â€“ often arenâ€™t cost effective. Instead, business owners are creating personalized mailings, which may include special offers or other valuable information, and sending them to a hand-picked list of current and prospective customers.
The idea is to send something thatâ€™s more appealing than â€œjunkâ€ mail and potentially more noticeable than an email message, says Eric Anderson, a professor of marketing at Northwestern Universityâ€™s Kellogg School of Management. That allows business owners â€œto offer a personal touch the larger firms may not be able to have,â€ he says.
To save money, Peter Taffae, founder of ExecutivePerils, a Los Angeles wholesale insurance broker, stopped his small firmâ€™s humorous postcard mailings last year. The colorful marketing pieces showcase the insurance brokerâ€™s offerings through satirical movie themes, such as â€œFull Metal Policy,â€ a parody of â€œFull Metal Jacketâ€ and Singinâ€™ in the Renewal,â€ from the classic film â€œSinginâ€™ in the Rain.â€ About 2,000 current and potential clients received the postcards, which cost the company $4,000 to send out every four to six weeks.
â€œWe would visit some clients and notice they were hanging the postcards on the wall, collecting them,â€ says Mr. Taffae, who says he secured $270,000 from a new client who chose to do business with the firm in late 2008 after receiving the postcards.
â€œAfter two or three months [of no postcards], we got a lot of emails and phone calls asking us, â€˜Did you take me off your list?â€™ I figured if even 1% complained, then a much larger percentage were thinking about it,â€ says Mr. Taffae, who restarted the postcard mailings in November.
William Kapas, president of J.C. Kapas Real Estate Co. in Rochelle Park, N.J., says he has secured clients as a result of his high-gloss, four-color monthly mailings that list who has bought or sold restaurant properties through the firm.
â€œOur clients look forward to knowing, and itâ€™s a little bit of gossip, too,â€ says Mr. Kapas, who exclusively uses traditional mail to reach clients. â€œI think itâ€™s easier to delete the electronic junk mail without taking a second look.â€
Mr. Kapas spends about $1 a piece for the monthly mailings, sent to about 2,200 current and prospective customers.
Prof. Anderson says other business owners are trying to figure out how to integrate Web marketing â€“ such as email campaigns, banner ads and social networking sites â€“ with direct mail. â€œThe introduction of new media has forced [business owners] to go back and revisit the whole playbook on whatâ€™s the best way to communicate with customers,â€ Mr. Anderson says.
Ms. Settle, for instance, plans to use e-marketing to complement the hand-signed direct-mail piece, not replace it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Taffae is starting to take his satirical approach to YouTube; heâ€™s created a parody of F Troop, the 1960s sitcom, to promote his firm online.
January 19th 2010