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.

Timing Is a Key to Stock Market Success

After the 1929 crash, it took the stock market about 27 years to get back to its high of 1929. The bear market that started in early 2000 crushed the NASDAQ 100. As of this writing in late 2010, the index isn’t even close to its high, achieved in early 2000. Amazingly, you are better off owning the wrong stock at the right time than the right stock at the wrong time. This is because about 75% of all stocks follow the general market direction or trend. What does this tell us? It tells us, timing is crucial to overall success. It makes a big difference when you buy and sell a stock at the right time. The very best stock market participants own the right stocks at the right time. That is how they achieve stock market success, and make fortunes.

A successful strategy is to buy the best stocks at the best time. The best time to buy stocks is when the general market is in an uptrend. Look for stronger volume as the general market moves up, and lighter volume when the market corrects. This will tell you the stock market is in a healthy uptrend. Watch out if during a 2 or 3 week period, the market has a number of down days on heavy volume. These are called distribution days, and a sign the market is ripe for a correction, or possibly the beginning of a bear market.

When the general market is in an uptrend, look for fundamentally strong stocks that are breaking out of technically sound base patterns. You want volume to be much heavier than normal, as the stock breaks through a key resistance area. Heavy volume tells you that big institutions such as mutual funds and pension funds are buying your stock. This is important, as these big buyers are the fuel that can carry a stock to very high price levels. Another important factor is to make sure your stock is a leader, in a better performing industry group. Stocks tend to move in packs or groups. This will also help your stock move up in price.

In my opinion, buy and hold is for the most part, a flawed strategy. Unless you are able to buy fundamentally strong stocks near the end of a major bear market, or at the beginning of a major bull market, it simply is not worth it to buy and hold. You are much better off buying the best stocks at the right time, and implementing solid money management. This is the key to stock market success, and the way to make a fortune.

Advantages of Email Marketing – Why Is It the Answer for Your Business?

The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) tells us that 90% of companies use email marketing and they describe email marketing as the new hero for troubled financial times. Their research shows that more than half of companies surveyed expect to increase their spend on direct email this year, many of them cutting back on traditional direct mail in order to do so. It all sounds great, but why is email marketing the answer for your business?

There are three massive advantages to email marketing compared to traditional marketing techniques:

Its inexpensive, the cost of email marketing campaigns is significantly less than other marketing strategy. As the medium is so scalable, you also have the ability to commit as much or as little as you want to email marketing.

Great Return on Investment, no other type of direct marketing will offer the same sort of ROI as email. This is partly because of cost; you aren’t spending as much in the first place, but the flexibility of the medium also has an impact. Targeted email marketing allows you to personalise campaigns to your customers. It is also a great way to maintain the relationship with your existing customers and to make them aware of offers. When done right, there a great return on investment, but you can still get it wrong. If you don’t have any in-house experience of email marketing campaigns, then it can be wise to take expert advice.

Measurable, an email campaign allows you to measure effectiveness more than any other type of direct marketing. You are able to track every opened email, every click, every email shared right through to the sale. This differs massively from a direct mail shot where no one can tell you how many went straight into the bin.

With email you can see if your campaign has worked, but perhaps more importantly you can see where it didn’t work and what didn’t work. This allows you to learn from experience and use that feedback to tailor your email activity to your customers needs.

Nobody will tell you they like spam, but what do we actually mean by that term? At the moment opinion is shifting towards the idea of spam as an email that is irrelevant to the user. Beware of allowing this to lull you into a false sense of security though. A recent DMA survey showed that 75% of consumers found less than 20% of emails they received to be relevant to them.

There are still many people who class spam as something they didn’t sign up for. Another study asked consumers to rate acceptability of promotional emails out of 5 (5 is most acceptable, 1 is least acceptable.) Permission clearly made marketing emails more acceptable, where the consumer had given permission for ongoing communication participants rated it as 4.1 out of 5. When the consumer had interacted with a company, but had not given permission for contact, the score dropped significantly to 2.5. The worst score was for marketing material from companies who had not been given permission and with whom the consumer had never interacted. This scored 1.7 out of 5.

The moral of the story seems clear; concentrate on targeted email marketing campaigns to make your email more relevant to your customers and focus on marketing to opt in lists. This seems like the surest recipe to ensure your emails are not classed as spam by any user definition.