The hot new thing, PPM, gets the press ink these days, but "mailed ballots" still are the survey method in both the U.S. and Canada in the vast majority of radio marketplaces.
As a result, ARB, Nielsen and BBM constantly assess and update their diary packaging and appearance in an effort to improve response rates.
Social networking and emails are indeed virtually free - except for the time it takes to maintain them, which is not inconsequential - so a lot of radio's marketing is moving to these media, but as long as thousands of diaries are being mailed to listeners week after week, direct mail remains a powerful marketing force to drive recall that results in reported listening.
Direct marketing consultants have been suggesting ways to be sure that the diary wasn't tossed away as so much more junk mail for many years.
The diary as direct mail is nothing new, and that is a reason why direct marketing can still be so effective for marketing radio stations.
The ratings firms employ sophisticated techniques to get more diaries back.
As you plan direct mail for your next book, it's wise to learn what the survey companies know from their long experience in direct mail. Why is it that one direct mail package will move large numbers of people to act, while an apparently similar package for the same station is ignored?
IT STARTS WITH THE ENVELOPE
Make sure your envelope or the outside of your flier communicates a sense of urgency and importance:
1. Promise a benefit - a problem solved, a meaningful savings, something free.
2. Create curiosity about the contents.
3. Establish recognition of the sender's name: 'why does WWWW want to talk to me?'
4. Involve the recipient with a short quiz or several questions.
YOUR LETTER/FLIER IS THE CENTERPIECE
1. Speak directly to the prospect. The more you know about their needs, the better.
2. Intrigue. Excite.
3. Concentrate on the word "you." That is key to achieving engagement.
4. In the salutation, target the prospect as specifically as possible.
5. Put a headline above the salutation to pull prospects into the letter.
6. Try placing your letterhead or logo at the bottom instead of the top of the first page.
7. Use a typewriter typeface for letters, or handwriting. It looks more personal.
8. Indent paragraphs. It makes letters easier to read.
9. Underline important words or phrases. But, do not overdo it or it loses effectiveness.
10. Use subheads and bullets to break up large copy blocks.
11. Keep margins wide. Don't run copy to the edge of the paper, it's intimidating.
12. Use a blue or black signature to make the letter appear individually signed.
13. Ask for help. "We need your ideas and suggestions...your opinion counts..."
14. Handwritten margins notes get high readership. Don't use too many. Be sure the handwriting is the same as the signature.
15. A second color makes the letter more appealing.
16. Use a P.S. People often read a P.S. first. Reinforce your offer or benefit in the P.S.
DRAW THEM A PICTURE
Use graphics. Demonstrate your music variety by showing a picture of hot CD covers by great-testing artists. Be sure the songs and artists represent you correctly, perfectly. Show them that you know who the 'right' artists are by using artist photos.
Show a radio dial, with your frequency highlighted. Don't take for granted that they know that you are a radio station.
Enclose a music calendar or something else that respondents may see as helpful or valuable: a brochure highlighting your strategic benefits, a radio dial with 'helpful' (fun) comments on each station that places your station in an especially good light, a key chain, a refrigerator magnet, a station decal, etc.
CLOSE THE SALE
Build a database by including a bounce-back.
Ask their name, home address, work address, zip + block code, phone and work phones, at work fax, birth date, dayparts - "( ) early morning, ( ) midday, ( ) late afternoon, ( ) evening, ( ) night" where and when they listen to your station, other radio stations listened to in an average week.
Since THE motivation for diarykeepers is the fun of giving their opinions because their input COUNTS, ask for their ideas and suggestions for improvement.
Computerize this information and develop future direct marketing campaigns based on it.
Restate your "offer," "contest," "prize" or "creative" on the bounce back coupon.
Create involvement by including anything you can afford in your promotion - coupon savings from local retailers, a DVD or CD containing a message from the morning team and samples of the station's programming, a second smaller letter that re-stresses your points, add a buckslip - a piece of paper about the size of a dollar that restates one important selling point or benefit.
THE GOLDEN RULE
If your direct mail is full of hyperbole, potential listeners will feel skeptical. When something seems too good to be true, prospects refuse to respond. Always keep in mind your reputation and your credibility. If you don't want listeners to feel your station is cluttered, don't send a cluttered mail piece. Nothing you do should ever jeopardize your good name.
The golden rule of direct marketing: every word you write and every picture you show must be scrupulously honest. Don't say FREE unless it IS. Never make a promise in your copy unless you know you can deliver on it. But, DO use a guarantee that is strong and lets people know that you stand behind what you say.
Integrate your direct marketing efforts with your overall advertising and marketing plan. If there are other media involved, involve them from the outset. If you are on TV or outdoor, mention your mail piece or use similar graphics/creative. If you are doing telemarketing, be sure that lead generation is a team effort. Direct mail gets the lead, telemarketing handles the close. Or, telemarketing generates the list and direct mail generates involvement and loyalty. Keep every subcontractor, supplier and department involved in the promotion informed.
And, finally: follow-up leads immediately. Follow-up materials should be mailed or faxed immediately. Every day you wait to follow-up a hot lead, the colder it becomes.
Ask your ARB, BBM or Nielsen rep to show you their mailing packages. You'll see all of these strategies in action, which is why very few direct mail campaigns get the response rates the ratings firms do.
When you contemplate using direct mail, there's a lot to learn from studying their tactics.
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