Mailshots are very powerful tools for
promoting your products. The idea is to find potential customers
by posting letters or postcards to their homes or workplaces.
Alternatively they can be placed where potential customers will see
Although many network marketers
achieve great results using mailshots it is not without hard work and
careful preparation. This section runs through the key stages in
a mailshot campaign - and includes suggestions and questions to
consider when designing your particular approach.
Step Or Two?
One Step Or Two?
First you must decide what kind of
campaign you want to run - one step or two.
In a one-step campaign your mailshot
asks your customers to buy your product immediately. So the
envelope has to contain all the information to persuade them to buy -
and place their order.
In a two-step campaign the mailshot
is only intended to attract the customer's attention - and persuade
them to phone or write requesting more information. You capture
their contact details and send them a brochure or information pack.
This then contains the material to persuade them to buy, and place
The telesales variant of the two-step
campaign asks the customer to phone for more information. When
they phone in, you answer their questions and try to clinch the sale
there and then. It can work well but requires good telephone
So who are you going to write to?
By far the best option is to write to
your existing customers. People who have bought from you before.
If they liked what you sold them the last time they'll probably take
the time to read your letter. You can ask them to buy more of
the same - or offer them something new. Either way, they're much
more likely to buy from you than people you've never contacted before.
However, sooner or later you'll have
to find some new customers. So who do you write to now?
Think about the product you're trying
to sell - and more importantly - think about the kind of people who
are likely to buy it. And what else do they buy?
Who is already mailing your target
customers? Use your imagination. Suppliers of related
products? Do they sell their mailing lists? Would they
include something from you in their mailings? What about clubs
and special interest groups? Do they publish their membership
lists? (Surprisingly, some do!) Would they mailshot their
members if you paid the postage?
Failing that, you're going to have to
look at list sellers and brokers.
There are lots of these - and quality
varies enormously - so how do you pick out the good ones? You're
going to have to do some research.
Pick out a few promising candidates,
phone each one, and ask a few pointed questions. Like: How
many names do they have on their database? How can they select
people who might be interested in your product? (As distinct
from randomly picking names out of their hat?) Where did they
get the names from? Have the named people bought related
products, or something unrelated? On average, how long have the
names been in the database? (Some may have moved. Others
may be dead.) How much will you have to pay for the names?
Work out the Value For Money rating -
our transatlantic cousins charmingly call this the "bang for a
buck". How many "warm" names do you get for each
Take the number of names they can
offer - and adjust it by your guess at the percentage interested in
your product. Then divide this figure by the cost of the mailing
Value For Money
= Number of Names x % Interested ÷ Cost
To get the most out of your hard-won
cash, use the lists that offer the best Value For Money. But
don't let this crude calculation overrule your judgement. Your
gut feeling is probably more reliable than this formula.
Ultimately, you have to
decide. Do you believe what they're telling you. Do you
think they can really give you a list of your target customers?
At their prices, can you really make money? (See the Sanity
Remember: It's worth taking your time
to get your planning right because it's easy to waste a lot of money
and effort on unsuccessful mailshots.
The great advantages of mailshots
are: (1) they can be very personal so they're great for attracting the
reader's attention, (2) they put across your sales message very
powerfully, and (3) you can put several items in the same envelope.
The main disadvantages are: (1) they
have to read well and look good so you may have to pay someone to
write and print them, (2) printing can take time so you have to plan
ahead, and (3) the costs can mount as you put more in the envelope.
There are some basic rules for
designing mailshots - but there is also great scope for literary and
artistic inspiration. Like most things, the more you do the
better you get. Start by being clear what your mailshot is
intended to achieve.
Many mailshots are part of a two-step
campaign - where the object is to persuade the reader to phone, write,
fax or email for more information. If you want them to write or
fax, include an information request form for the reader to fill in and
send to you. This makes life easier for them. And you can
make sure they fill in all information you need. You can also
put a code on the form so you know which campaign produced the
One-step campaigns - where the object
of the mailshot is to persuade the reader to buy your product
immediately - are less common. You'll need to describe the
product, persuade readers to buy, and tell them where to send their
order and payment. Include an order form for the reader to fill
in and post to you. This makes life easier for them. And
you can make sure they fill in all information you need. You can
also put a code on the form so you know which campaign produced the
The big advantage of mailshots is
that you can enclose several items in the same envelope. So
which are appropriate for your particular mailshot? Letter?
Product leaflet? Information request form (or postcard)?
Order form? Reply envelope? Postage paid envelope?
Check with your company. They
may already have well-designed letters, leaflets and forms that you
can copy or modify. Also they may have restrictions about what
you can mail out. They may insist on approving your
modifications. You'll definitely need permission to use their
trade names, photos and logos.
Generally, the more information and
help you give your customers - the better the response you can expect.
More responses - and more interested in buying. The snag is that
every piece of paper adds to your costs - especially if it bumps you
up to the next level of postage charges.
A letter with the address neatly
typed or handwritten on a good quality envelope is more likely to be
opened than a brown envelope with a sticky label. A letter
starting "Dear Mr Bloggs is more likely to be read than one
starting "Dear Sir/Madam". An order form with the name
and address details already filled in is more likely to be completed
than a blank one.
The snag with all these ideas is they
take time, or add cost, or both. You'll have to make your own
judgement about which to use for your mailshot. Try to think of
it from your customers' point of view. What will they
appreciate? And is it enough to offset the time and cost
Remember not to exceed the weight
limit for the stamps you intend to stick on the envelope. Your
customer won't be well-disposed to buy from you if they've had the
postman knocking on their door to demand excess postage!
Get the latest postage rates from the
Mail website or pick up a leaflet at your local Post Office.
Check the weight of the filled envelope on your kitchen scales - or
pop it on the scales at your local Post Office.
So you've decided what you're going
to put in the envelope. Now you've got to the crunch! What
are you going to say in the letter?
Your customers get bombarded with
lots of mailshots. Most get thrown straight in the bin.
So, if you don't want your message to end up in landfill, you'll have
to use your literary and artistic ingenuity to make your letter stand
out from the crowd.
All letters should follow the
tried and tested AIDA
the reader's Attention
the reader in the product
excite the reader's Desire
ask for Action
from the reader
Make the letterhead look impressive.
Logos are very good for this, especially if the brand name is well
known. The company's name will carry more weight than yours.
Don't try anything too flashy.
Or it won't be seen as a personal letter to the reader. If you
want lots of pictures, just send a leaflet without a covering letter.
The headline - just after the "Dear ..."
salutation line - is critical. It should be written in large
bold type, possibly capital letters, and separated from the rest of
the text. Set it in large
print or special
typefaces so it stands out on the
Use the headline to attract the
reader's attention - and make your letter stand out from the rest of
the day's post. Take some time thinking of alternative headlines
and picking out the best. You want people to stop and read your
letter - not other things that arrived in the same post.
This is the reader's first indication
of what you're writing about. So your headline should probably
specify your product, eg. Rare Books!. This will only
attract the attention of people who are genuinely interested in rare
books. Everyone else will throw the letter away.
Another powerful approach, especially
suitable for business opportunities, is to forget the product and lead
with the benefit to the customer. For example: Be your own
boss! Earn in your spare time! Improve your sex life!
Or you can use blatant attention
grabbers like: Free! Brand New! Only £2! Two
for the price of one!
The opening paragraph is critical.
If you capture the reader's interest with this, they'll read through
to the end. Lose them and you're in the bin!
Focus on a few strong selling points
of your product. Tell your readers what the product will do for
them - not the product's characteristics. If you can build their
curiosity without revealing what you're selling - so much the better.
But don't overdo this - you'll have to tell them what you're selling
The middle wording needs to interest
the reader and build up their desire. Where possible, emphasise
the benefits for them. Give enough information about the product
so they understand what you're offering. But, don't duplicate
details covered by your enclosures. If you're two-stepping,
don't attempt to do the job of your brochure or your telephone sales
Make good use of "power
words" - words that make the reader sit up and take notice.
These include: avoid, bargain, bonus, discover, earn, easy, enjoy,
exciting, exclusive, extra, fast, fortune, free, how to, learn, money,
more, mystery, new, now, profit, save, special, win. Don't force
these words into your letter - but use them rather than weaker
The end of the letter must
tell the reader what to do next. For example: Phone 01234
567890 for details. Complete the order form and post it with
your payment to ... Visit our website at www.downline.co.uk.
Proof read this bit especially carefully. It would be a crying
shame to excite your customers' desire and not be able to receive
Print your letters on good quality
paper. It doesn't have to be expensive bond paper - but it must
look smart and feel nice to the touch.
Only use "wholemeal"
recycled paper if that's likely to be well-received by your target
customers. Remember it's what they think that counts - not your
You can produce perfectly acceptable
print quality using your PC with a good laser or inkjet printer.
But watch out for the toner or ink costs if you're printing lots of
letters. If you're doing a long run, or you don't have the
expertise or the facilities you may have to pay someone else to print
If you're posting an original to a
printshop for photocopying - don't fold it! It won't photograph
cleanly with a fold line down the middle. And put a stiffener or
some padding in the envelope so your precious original doesn't get
mangled by the postman.
If you're including a leaflet, check
out our guidance about designing
If you're one-stepping, include an
order form for the reader to fill in and post to you with their
payment. This makes life easier for them. And prompts them
to fill in all information you need. Put a code on the form so
you know which mailshot produced the response. Make sure it
tells them who to make out their cheque to, and clearly shows your
postal address (or enclose an addressed reply envelope).
If you're two-stepping, include an
information request form for the reader to fill in and post to you.
This makes life easier for them. And prompts them to fill in all
information you need. Put a code on the form so you know which
mailshot produced the response. Make sure it clearly shows your
postal address (or enclose an addressed postcard or reply envelope).
Make sure you proof read everything
you send out. Spelling errors and nonsense wording make you look
an idiot. Incorrect contact details will lose you business and
annoy your customers.
Good telephone manner is vitally
important. Speak clearly and at a comfortable speed - not too
fast - not too slow. Try to sound keen and interested in what
the customer is saying. But be yourself. If you try to put
on airs it will sound false.
Work out a standard greeting and use
it whenever you answer an incoming call. This should include
your trading name - so the caller knows they've got through to the
right number - and your name - so they know who they're dealing with.
For example: "Fred's Sheds - Harry speaking".
You should also get an answering
machine to field your calls when you're out, or otherwise unavailable.
Murphy's Law says that the phone only rings when you're in the toilet.
Work out a standard message along the
lines of: "Thank you for calling Fred's Sheds. I'm sorry we
can't take your call right now. If you'd like to leave your name
and number after the tone, we'll get back to you". Note
this doesn't say you're out (which might give a hint to burglars) and
it doesn't say when you'll call back (which might raise false hopes).
Your friends and family may think
you're a bit odd - but the only alternative is a separate phone
number. Answering with "Ullo?" will make your
customers wonder just what kind of business they are dealing with.
You'll also have to train the family
to answer the phone properly too. Stroppy teenagers often baulk
at this - it doesn't help their street cred. Explaining that new
clothes or computer games depend on business success may tip the
Modern telephones are very good at
picking up background noises - even with your hand over the
mouthpiece. For some reason the television, the kids
fighting, and the toilet flushing - all sound much louder over the
phone than they do in the room. So try to find somewhere quiet
for your business calls. Never, ever, make remarks about the
caller! Assume they can hear everything.
If you just want to capture the
callers details and send them an information pack then keep the call
short and business-like. Capture the bare minimum of
information: name, address, postcode, phone number, what product
they're interested in, and where they saw the mailshot. Write it
all down - there and then. Keep a notepad and pen by the phone.
Human memory is notoriously unreliable - so don't rely on it!
If you want to clinch the sale over
the phone then make sure you're well prepared. Work out the key
points of your sales pitch and rehearse how you're going to say them.
Emphasis and intonation can be quite important here. Prepare
counters for objections they might raise. For example: "It
costs more than brand X", "Yes, but you use less each time
so it lasts longer".
Try to establish a personal
relationship with the caller. Make sure you get their name early
on and use it occasionally. If they mention their family, or
their job, or where they live - show an interest, or tell them
something similar about yourself. But don't overdo this or
you'll spend all the time gossiping rather than selling. Make a
note of key points. They'll come in handy the next time you talk
Listen carefully to what the caller
is saying. Ask them open questions (ones that can't be answered
yes or no) so you're clear what they're looking / hoping for.
This should be a conversation - with them speaking as much as you.
Don't let it degenerate into a monologue. Try to tune your
comments to fit in with their train of thought. Find ways to
agree with them. Simply dropping in the occasional
"Yes" helps build a rapport. Even if you have to
disagree with them try to say "Yes, but ...".
When you've told them about the
product and its benefits, and they seem to be interested, you come to
the crunch point - asking them to buy. Sales people call this
"closing the sale". Don't approach this head on.
"Do you want to buy one?" comes across as aggressive - and
allows them to answer "No".
Much better to ask them a question
that implies they have decided to buy. Like: "How many
would you like", "Which colour would you like?",
"When do you want us to deliver it?", or "How would you
like to pay?". Usually they'll just answer the question and
you can move swiftly on to capturing their order details.
Even if they baulk at this question
all is not lost. They'll probably say "I don't know"
or "I haven't decided". You just switch back into your
sales pitch and try to close the sale when they've had a bit more
If you don't have the enough time to
make the sales pitch - eg. you have to get the kids out of school -
explain the problem, take the caller's name and phone number, and sort
out a mutually convenient time to call them back. You should
call them (and pay the call charges) because you're the one causing
the problem. Whatever you promise to do - do it! This is
essential to build up their trust.
At the end, thank them for their call
- and say goodbye. Then wait for a second so they can hang up
first (otherwise they may think you're glad to be rid of them).
You'd be surprised how many people forget these simple courtesies.
If you've promised to send the caller
an information pack then get it on its way today! Follow the
guidance below about replying to letters, faxes and emails.
If you've taken an order from the
caller then move it on to payment collection and delivery promptly.
If possible despatch the order today. Fast delivery is always
very impressive and makes them well-disposed towards further
Letters, Faxes and Emails
First rule - strike while the iron is
hot! Your customer has seen your mailshot and taken the time to
ask for more information about your product. It's vitally
important to reply quickly while they're still keen. Aim to
post, fax or email your reply the same day. If illness or
absence delays your response then apologise!
Keep an accurate record of who has
responded and what you have sent to them - with dates. Store
their personal details securely - and don't give this information away
to anyone else.
What are you going to put in the
reply? Make sure it includes everything the customer needs to
make their purchase decision and return their order.
Where possible, use the standard
brochures, price lists and order forms produced by the company who
supplies your products. They're usually well printed on glossy
paper with nice pictures. And the wording has usually been
carefully crafted to present the product in a good light, explain the
offer accurately, and comply with the law. Substitute your own
material at your peril.
Make sure your name and contact
details appear on the material you send out - even if you have to add
a sticky label to each item. Adding a short personalised letter
or note is a nice touch that can endear you to the customer. But
write it neatly (or type it) on quality paper - or you can undo all
that goodwill at a stroke. The same goes for the envelope.
Appearances really matter a lot.
If you're replying by fax or email
then take your time to get the wording right. Also lay out the
text so it's easy to read and the page looks visually attractive.
You'll only get this one chance to make your pitch so prepare it with
the same care as you lavished on the original mailshot.
You can use graphics on faxes to
improve their appearance but check what they look like after faxing.
Shades of grey get changed to black or white which can have some
If you have a PC with a modem, try
sending your faxes direct from the PC. The appearance at the
receiving end is often much better than if you send from a low-cost
If you're replying by letter, make
sure you put enough stamps on it. Having the postman knock on
their door to demand excess postage will put a customer right off you.
Check the weight of the sealed envelope on your kitchen scales if
you're in any doubt.
If you can afford it, use first class
postage for replies. Second class may be cheaper but it allows
the customer 24 hours longer to cool off and gives the impression
you're less serious about wanting their business.
With some schemes, the
customer sends their payment to the company and orders are delivered
direct to the customer. This is the quickest, cheapest, and
least error-prone approach.
With other schemes the
network marketer has to collect payment from the customer and then pay
the company. The company delivers the order to the networker who
forwards it to the customer. If your scheme involves you in
payments and deliveries then here are a few points to remember.
When you receive a
cheque, make sure it's completed correctly. The right date.
The right payee (the company or you depending on the scheme).
The right amount (in words and in figures). Signed (with the
right name). Make sure the customer has put their cheque
guarantee card number on the back of the cheque.
If you receive a payment
by credit card or debit card (and your company accepts them) make sure
you have all the necessary details. Cardholder name? Card
number? Expiry date? Issue number (Switch cards only)?
Amount to be charged to the account? Cardholder's address (as
recorded by the card company)? Delivery address (if different)?
Cardholder signature (not possible for telephone orders)?
Don't delay! Send
cheques and card payments to the company (or your bank) as soon as
possible. Send the order paperwork to the company at the same
time together with any payment due.
As soon as you receive
the goods, check the contents against the customer's order.
Chase the company immediately if there is anything wrong or missing.
Despatch the goods to the customer or call them to arrange a
convenient time for personal delivery. Your customers will be
more inclined to buy again if you get the goods to them promptly.
Finally, remember to put
a new order form in with the delivery so it's easy for your customer
to order again.
Your campaign will have
given you the names and contact details of paying customers (even if
you didn't recover your costs). Record these people in your
customer list and guard it jealously.
Once you've captured a
customer, follow up every few weeks/months. Send them the latest
brochure when it's updated. Or phone them for a brief chat (but
back off if they don't seem keen to be called). Your aim is to
encourage them to buy again. Remember, it's much easier to get
further orders than to find new customers.
OK. You've now
worked out what mailshots to distribute where - and what to do with
the responses. However, it's possible to design a mailshot
campaign that successfully sells products to customers - but ends up
losing you money! So, before you leap into action, take a short
breather and conduct a Sanity
Check on your plans.
At the end of your
campaign you should review how well it worked so you can learn how to
do better in future. Count up how many responses your mailshot
produced (and, if you're two stepping, how many orders). Work
out the value of the orders taken and your commission / profit.
Then take away your costs. Did you recover your costs?
Earn a bit of extra cash?
Were the response rate,
order rate and average order value what you predicted before you
started? If they were higher - well done, your campaign design
worked better than expected. Remember the mailing list you used
- and the key elements of your letter. They're probably worth
If your campaign didn't
do as well as you hoped, have you any clues as to why it went wrong?
Should you use that mailing list again? Was there something
wrong with the letter? Or the other enclosures? Keep a
note of what happened, and bear this hard-won learning in mind for