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The Follow-up Letter - Part 1

Hi all, I read an article written by Joe Garcia which I thought is most informative. A follow-up letter needs a special way of writing to your customer. These letters are normally sent by email without the marketing department having a look at it before it's sent.

I would like to share this with you over the next 2 newsletters. I know it's a bit long but it's worth it!

Case Study - Follow-up Letters - Part 1

direct marketing Reds TipsHere's a case study from my files that I thought you might find interesting.
A few years ago I was asked by Dan (not his real name) to critique his follow-up letter to his newest customers.

His business, Acme Screens (not the real name) sold a special screen for open doorways that would allow you to enjoy a cool breeze and let you walk in and out of the doorway without letting bugs in. It was a unique idea and a quality product.

He was very disappointed in the results he was getting from his follow-up letter to his recent new customers.

He wanted the letter to accomplish three things:
help him sell backend replacement screens,
get some referrals from these recent customers
and get some testimonials
There were a number of problems with the letter that were preventing him from getting the kinds of results he was hoping for.

Here's what I told him.

Problem 1: Too much WE-ME. Not enough YOU-YOUR
People get bored and distracted VERY easily. If you talk about your product, your company, your services in the beginning of your letter, very often your customers will stop reading immediately.

The first page and a half of your letter are all about you, your product and your company. It's filled with 'WE-ME' writing, -- as in, WE installed, WE'RE #1, WE'VE been in business since 1937, etc. It's also loaded with variations of 'WE-ME' like OUR Staff, OUR customers, OUR company, Acme Screens, etc.

It's all about You, You, You when it should be all about Them, Them, Them.

Solution 1: Focus on what your customers want.

You don't get and hold someone's attention by talking about you. You get and hold it by talking about them. You need to use phrases as YOU get, YOU will receive, YOUR problem, YOUR benefits, YOUR solution, YOUR savings, YOUR gift, etc.

Your prospects and customers don't care about your company, and your successes, they only care about themselves. They want to know 'What's In It For Me?' and they want to know that immediately -- or they will stop reading.

This can sometimes be a hard lesson to learn, because some business owners are so close to their products and services, that they mistakenly believe that their prospects/customers will be just as interested in their products/services as they are. Not true. Of course, there is a point when you must tell them what is so special about your product/service and your company. But you do that from their perspective--in terms of what it will do for them.

You must describe how your product solves their problems. You must describe how much better their lives will be once they are using your product/service. Every positive thing you want to say about your product/service or company can be said in terms of how those things will affect them.

But let's think about this for a second.
You've already 'sold' these customers. They already own your product. So it's not necessary to write them a follow-up letter that sounds like a sales pitch. You're beyond that point now.
You don't start talking about what your customer will get until the middle of page two --

You say:
'Enclosed you will find a Gift Certificate...'
Great. That's something they should be interested in.
That's where you should begin your letter. The solution is to eliminate the first page and a half of the WE-ME copy.

Now let's see what the real purpose of this letter should be.
Problem 2. Too many thoughts and offers for one letter
People can only hold ONE thought in their heads at any one moment. It's tough enough to get a prospect or customer's attention to begin with, but to expect them to grasp and hold more than one thought or offer at a time is expecting a lot. Once they have gotten to your second thought, they have erased the first one from their minds.
You have presented a total of FOUR thoughts for your customers to retain, and three of them require action on their part:

First Thought: Acme Screens Are Versatile: This isn't an offer, it's a selling point meant to get your customer thinking about the many uses of your product. As I said above, they have already purchased your product--they already know all of this.

Second Thought: R250 Discount Certificate:
This is your first offer - a R250 Discount Certificate for future replacement screens.

Third Thought: R250 Referral Gift:
This is your second offer.

Fourth Thought: Testimonial:
This is a request, and your fourth thought they have to remember, consider and act on.

Whew! By the time they read about all four of those (and many won't), they will tune out and move on.

Solution 2: Focus on only one offer at a time
When you are prospecting, focus 100% of your marketing piece on your prospecting offer -- nothing else.

If you are trying to convert to a sale, focus 100% of your message on that conversion.

If you want to make a backend sale (more sales after the first one) then focus your marketing piece 100% on that backend sale.  Don't try to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It rarely works.
If you want them to consider purchasing replacement screens with the R250 off certificate, then that is all you should be doing in this marketing effort.

If you want a referral, then focus only on getting the referral.
If you want a testimonial, then focus 100% on getting the testimonial, etc. Most people want to kill 6 birds with one stone - it can't be done. One stone - one bird.

(Yes, catalogues sell more than one product at a time. There are always exceptions to the rule, but they don't apply in this case.)

I have a few more recommendations in this case study, but we'll cover those in Part 2 in our next issue.

by Joe Garcia

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The Follow-up Letter - Part 2
7 Highly Effective Marketing Tips