Keep Your Customers! (written April, 2005)

If you even hope to be successful in mail order you need customers. You need them to stay with you – to keep coming back with orders. Below are a few things you need to do to get and keep customers.

Let’s talk a little about your direct mail packet. The outside envelope in which you send your offers to potential customers needs to be clean and have your return address on it. The person’s address should be neatly hand-written or typed. (In our “hurry-up” world of today a neatly printed label will work.) Nothing else should be on the envelope except the postage stamp. All of the stickers and “attention getters” (as they are called) will probably only get your envelope tossed into the trash without ever being opened. Those things on your envelope only make your mailing piece look “trashy” and sometimes immature.

Now let’s go to the inside – the contents – of your envelope. The copies or printed materials should be clear, crisp and clean. You can’t expect to get orders if your materials are dirty, ink smudged, or have coffee or food spills on them. Always be sure the print is large enough to be read easily! There are a lot of older folks in mail order and it is too hard for them to read the smaller print. I have seen offers that have been shrunk so tiny it can’t even be read with a magnifying glass! No one will order from you if they can’t read what you have to offer. Do all you can think of to make it easier for your potential customer to order? You may even want to include a reply envelope with your offers to a make it easier for your customer.

You should always fold your mailing piece neatly – not just “wadded” up and crammed into the envelope. The “z” shaped fold is best. Fold your piece with the heading of your best offer showing. Stuff them into your envelopes so that heading is the first thing they see when they open your envelope.

When you get orders, if at all possible, process them the same day. Your customer wants his order yesterday, so never wait longer than 3 days to get the order out. You want to keep your customers happy! Happy customers come back again and again! The same goes for inquiries. Get the information right back to them. After all that inquirer could become a customer, so don’t keep him waiting!

Stay in contact with your customers. Send “follow-up” mailings every 2-4 weeks for those “back-end” sales. Mail to a customer 3-5 times over a 6 month span, then wait for as long as 1 1/2 to 2 years. You may be surprised how many of them keep coming back.

To get your customers to keep coming back it is a good idea to promote a variety of offers. Have some “low-cost” offers and some at “higher” costs. This way you will have something to offer to everyone. Also everyone is different and everyone likes different things. They also get tired of seeing the same old things. After a while another great way to keep customers coming back to you is to give them something free now and then, like a calendar. Everyone loves free stuff! You could also offer them a “special” discount. Make them feel special. Let them know you care. Treat them fairly and honestly!! Promote only honest, legal offers. Don’t push the chain letters and other scams and rip-offs at your customers and expect them to order from you.

Follow these simple guidelines and you will get and keep customers. You will succeed!

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.