Increase Repeat Business and Referrals with Direct Mail

So you have been writing mortgages like crazy now for the last few years. You have a pretty big database of customers and hopefully you have been getting and keeping full contact information for them. An organized database is the first key to customer retention.

The next step is to put together a direct mail campaign to keep these customers thinking about you when they think about mortgages. It is often years between times when each customer needs a mortgage professional, and it takes far less than that for them to forget your name. As well as fighting time, you are fighting indifference. Customers who get great service are often reluctant to pass that information along, while customers who feel they have gotten poor service will tell everyone. Most of the time good customers need to be reminded of their
experience. By following up with each customer on a regular basis you will not only stay in the front of their mind but you will also start to build a reputation as a solid and responsible business.

So how do you get started? Below are a couple of the most frequently asked questions when starting a campaign to keep in touch with past clients.

What Type of Direct Mail Piece Works Best?

There is a great debate amongst Mortgage Professionals about what type of direct mail will work best for getting new business. Many swear by letters for their appearance of professionalism, while others like the low cost and high visibility of postcards. Overall, both seem to work
adequately for bringing in new business. You just need to find which works best for you personally.

For keeping in contact with past customers, however, the way to go is postcards. This is due to the fact that if your customers are not currently looking for a mortgage for themselves, they are far less likely to take the time to open a letter. That causes most of your “keep in touch” promo that is in envelopes to get thrown out before it ever gets read.

Since the goal is recognition and not direct action you only need to get them to read the message. Postcards have the message visible when mailed, which means that while your customers are deciding what to read and what to throw out, they are already being exposed to your message.

How Often Should I Send Promo?

You will want to mail a piece to your database every 30-60 days. Any longer than that and they may have already forgotten you when their friends are looking for a mortgage. Since you will want to send promo out often, you will need to keep your costs down. With postcards there are no envelope costs, no assembly costs and the postage is 30% less than letters. When using a mail house to send your postcards you can often get postage rates as low as 18ยข per piece.

What Should Be On My Brand Recognition Pieces?

There are some basic rules for the design of a brand recognition direct mail piece.

Rule #1: Keep color consistent.

Many times people fall into the trap of changing the look of their promo for the seasons or for the holidays. The thought is that people are thinking about Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day so they will respond better to promo with those colors. The truth is exactly opposite. Their senses are so flooded by those images that they actually start to skip right over them. Pick a color for your company and stick with it. You will do much better in building recognition.

Rule #2: Make a logo and use it on every piece.

Having a clean, professional logo is best. It may be a little pricey to have designed but in the end it is well worth the money. Experienced designers can often charge up to $2000 for a corporate identity package including logo, letterhead and business cards. If you aren’t looking to make that type of investment simply pick a type style for your company
name and use it every time. Consistency is key because your logo is your main identification point.

Rule #3: Make it Informative.

Every piece should have something useful for your customers. Whether it is new information about the mortgage industry or even possible investment properties in their area, it can even be completely unrelated to the mortgage industry. A calendar or list of emergency numbers, even the old recipe card trick still works pretty well. Anything that is likely to be kept around will help to build recognition in the minds of your past customers.

The mortgage industry has experienced a huge amount of growth over the past few years. Unfortunately this growth cannot last forever. At some point it is going slow down and the only way to keep your income in the range that you have become accustomed to is to ensure that you retain as many past customers as you possibly can.

A direct mail campaign is the best way to do this, but remember, this type of program is a long term process. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t directly calculate the amount of money that you bring in right off the bat. What you are doing is burning your name into the minds of your customers. Eventually it will work out to you seeing less attrition and
far more referrals.

A Direct Marketer’s Best Category of New Business

For years sophisticated major mailers have utilized new mover names for their direct mail programs for one very good reason… because new move lists work!

New move lists that are currently on the market usually offer between 1 million and 1.5 million new move names a month. Many of the more well-schooled companies are getting and mailing these names weekly.

When one thinks about it, the reasons are obvious.

Almost like a new year’s resolution, a new move often triggers a sense of wanting “a fresh start”. Often even a short distance move will make people rethink their current relationships with others. The very act of moving can trigger looking for everything from a new church to a new dentist… to new Chinese restaurant.

It is also common to see people buying new sheets, towels, furniture, draperies, shower curtains,… anything and everything to make the new house their new home.

Businesses like home improvement stores find new residents important customers. They’re buying new toilet seats and door locks, door knobs and faucets. And they need nails and screws and tools and picture hangers.

Every type of contractor generates business from new residents including painters, plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, alarm companies. New lawn service and pool service and pest control are frequently required.

Depending on the distance of the move, every type of retail and local service relationship must also be reestablished.

That includes where someone buys pizza, get your hair done, gets their clothes cleaned, and gets their car serviced.

All new professional relationships also need to be secured as well. Doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, pharmacists… all get new business from new residents.

If your business falls into any of the categories listed above, speed is critical. Why?

Because if another pizzeria sends out a welcome to the neighborhood, free meal coupon mailing before you do, you may have lost your opportunity to become their new supplier in that category.

New residents fall into two broad categories, home owners or renters. New renter names just cannot work for some mailers, and the reasons why are pretty obvious. On the other hand we have found that renters are equally or even more responsive than homeowners to many direct mail offers.

I believe there is no category of names that is mailed by more direct marketers than new residents. With a constant supply of between 300,000 and 400,000 weekly names to mail, every marketer needs to explore mailing to this audience. The upside is too great to ignore.

That’s why the savviest of smart marketers mail their best offer to new movers on an ongoing basis.

The Importance of a Marketing Plan

There aren’t many things in life that you would get into with out a plan. Marketing is no different. Your overall marketing plan should cover about a six month period, and should be made up of weekly and monthly marketing schedules.

This is how you do it:

1. Figure out how much money is in your budget.

As we all know, marketing of any kind costs money. How much money you are willing to commit to the cause is going to determine some key factors about how that money can be best spent. Remember, you want to be economical but you also need to be realistic on what it will take to pull in the leads you need to close new and repeat business.

2. Determine your target market.

Who is most likely to buy your product? Are they married? Are they business owners? What is their income level? These are the people that you want to target. One of the most common mistakes in marketing is answering “Everyone” to the question “Who is your target market?” It may be that you have more than one target market, but there is no product in the world that appeals to each and every person. Even Coca-Cola targets different people with different messages. Decide who is MOST LIKELY to buy what you have to sell and target them. Your message to teenagers will be different than your message to housewives even if the product is exactly the same. Different markets may require different mail pieces or advertisements.

2a. Using the Right Mailing List.

In making sure that your message is getting across to the right people – people who are in the market for what you’re offering usually comes down to finding the right mailing list.

There is a great deal to know about mailing lists. There are pointers you could follow when buying a mailing list that tell you what to watch for in a mailing list company to make sure they’re reputable. They are:

i) Get references. Talk to other people that have purchased mailing lists from that company.

ii) Do they guarantee on delivery? That means due to the inevitable number of bad addresses there are in a list, can they still guarantee a high percentage of deliverable addresses. That number should be 90% or better. People move all the time so a mailing list company cannot guarantee 100% deliverability – but they should guarantee at least 90%.

iii) How often do they update their information? They should be able to answer this question and should be updating their information monthly.

You can get burnt on mailing lists – it is the most expensive part of your campaign. Ask friends who own businesses. Don’t just purchase from the first person that tries to sell you mailing lists. Do your research.

3. Select what media to use. (i.e., Direct Mail, Television, Radio, etc.)

This decision will depend on both your budget and your target market. If you have not done a good deal of marketing in the past we recommend picking one media to start. This is much easier to keep track of and you will better be able to tell whether or not it is working. Also, since repetition is the key to marketing success, using one media to begin with will help you reach the same people multiple times. If you run a
newspaper ad and send out a postcard, you run the risk of the majority of the people only seeing your ad once. However, if you send out the postcard twice you can guarantee that you get your message to the same people twice and you will start to build recognition.

Once you are getting the returns that you want from the first media, or if you decide that it is not working for you, you can branch out into another form of advertising. Over time you will build up a very diverse marketing plan.

4. Make a Schedule and Stick with It.

Figure out how many people you have in your target market. For this example we will use Direct Mail Marketing. If you have a mailing list of people in your target market that has 1500 names, figure out how many times per month you can mail a postcard to them and still stay within your monthly budget. Once you come up with this number, do it!

The importance of having a marketing plan cannot be stressed enough. Create one and follow it and you’ll start seeing the benefits.