I was recently at a credit union marketing conference at the MGM Grand Casino in Connecticut. The conference was smaller in size and it gave me the opportunity to meet some really great people, listen to their concerns for 2012, get some great ideas and hopefully helped some people out. The questions were the same; does direct mail work? How can I measure campaigns effectiveness? Should I pay for pre-approved lists? Am I getting a return on my investment? With spreads shrinking and budgets getting tighter it seemed most were concerned with being able to stretch their budget and make returns on their marketing dollars.
Speaking from experience I can tell you direct mail does work; however, for a true return on investment it must be strategically targeted, planned out, and have a follow up. You need to decide what type or types of campaigns you want to run. Once that decision is made, and before you start speaking to list brokers, look at your own membership first. Who are the people you are currently doing business with that do not have said product or service; those people should be at the top of your list. Think of it this way, it does not cost you any of your budget to access information you already have. Do not do a blanket campaign to all members for the same thing; you are just wasting your money on print and postage. The more you pinpoint your members needs the higher the success rate will be. Make sure to call your members after they receive the direct mail piece. Calling them achieves a few things. It allows you to start building a relationship and at the same time will give you a gage on the effectiveness of the mail piece. Do they even remember receiving the direct mail? Speaking with your members also allows you to “close” the sale. After the conversation you will either have them in the sold spot or not interested. Next time you are at your marketing meeting and the board of directors asks what your return on this campaign was you can say it was this.
Non-member campaigns can get costly; you need to pinpoint your audience as much as you can. There is the option of pre- approved lists that will end up costing you thousands of dollars. If you have it to spend go for it. If you are going to spend that kind of money make sure you are achieving the results necessary to pay for the campaign. It all goes back to following up! How else will you know if the message you just paid handsomely for is being received if you do not ask them?
When all is said and done you are going to have better luck with your own members. The costs are limited, the audience you are reaching already does business with you, and it’s easy to measure. As you prepare your budgets for 2012 consider that before going out, look within.