Most businesses send out some sort of mailshot several times a year. It may be a large-scale mailing or small batches of personalised letters to a dozen, or so, key customers at a time. If the targetting and theoffer are right you will get a positive response. If you get them wrong - you are wasting your, and your recipients time.
But you won’t get the targetting and offer right for everybody, so you will have to decide what is a good response for your business. If, for example, you are marketing high value goods like cars, one sale per 10,000 fax’s may be a good response. For lower value items, much higher response rates would be required to give a satisfactory return.
Then again, if you are promoting a service, such as cleaning and valeting and one fax produces a lucrative ten year contract, it would be difficult to put a value on the response.
Remember that there are two types of response - there will be companies who will respond immediately to your fax and there others whose responses come trickling in over a period of time. It is not unknown for fax advertisers to get responses back months, even years, after the original fax went out. So it is always worthwhile to consider what will make the recipient keep your fax for future reference.
To achieve this satisfactory response rate what do you have to do?
Basically, it boils down to four things. You need a good list of potential customers, a proven product to promote and a strong offer embodied in a compelling fax flyer. Writing this compelling flyer is really not too difficult if you set about it the right way.
To create GREAT COPY that responds to your prospects burning questions, the fax flyer should be split into the following parts.
It should start with an eye-catching HEADLINE.
The HEADLINE, or even better the following line, should include a PROMISE, This can be in the form of - WE WILL SAVE YOU "MONEY", or "TIME", or "EFFORT". Or WE WILL ENABLE YOU TO SELL MORE, or WE WILL HELP YOU GIVE BETTER SERVICE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS, etc.
Then list the many BENEFITS that your product/service will bestow on your potential customer.
Give PROOF of these BENEFITS - such as testimonials.
Highlight to your readerThe CONSEQUENCES of not having this product or service
Then have A brief SUMMARY, along with as many means of contacting you as possible - phone/fax/email/web. The easier that you make it to contact you, the more responses you will get !!
End with a strong CALL TO ACTION. The flyer should shout - Do THIS - Do This NOW!!
Points to bear in mind while writing your flyer
1 - Know what objectives you want your fax flyer to achieve. You may want it to sell a product or to generate sales leads. You may want it to launch a new product or service, or to break into new markets. You may be test marketing to try out new products, or ideas. You may want it to enhance your service to existing customers by giving them right up-to- date information.
2 - Identify your likely potential customers so that you have an idea of what sort of approach is likely to work best with them. What prior knowledge do they have about your product? Why do they need what you are offering? What would they want to hear about your product? What are their likely objections?
3 - Be sure that you have choosen the right media. Fax is much more cost effective than mailing but it is limited to black and white. It will only be welcomed by people who are keen to hear what you have to say. Faxshots need powerful content and generally, should not go beyond a single page. They are very quick to set up and can be sent out in stages as the response rate justifies.
4 - Work out how to get the reader's attention. The person who first reads your flyer may not be the one who has specifying/buying powers. Remember that some fax machines are located in general offices and the recipient, having read the first part of the fax, must be encouaged to pass it on the person who can take action. Offer a tangible and quickly-realised benefit for an obviously reasonable price. Ask for it to be passed on to a specified person, or posted on the office notice board. Other approaches include highlighting unusual product features, emphasising low prices, launching special offers & competitions or using startling headlines. Offer a free product sample of small gift, a voucher or a cheap, unexpected gimmick. Good gimmicks can get attention, even from serious corporate customers. Remember, this is often the hardest part. Think of what grabs your attention when a fax comes in, or in a newspaper or other advert. What prompts you to open junk mail or take action over a TV advert. Think of the psychology of why prospects consider buying opportunities. Remember that it is twice as likely that a buying decision will be made for emotional reasons - feelings, moods, desires, than for strictly logical ones - like just needing your product or service.
1 - The first step is to write yourself a brief. The brief should be detailed and specific - the who, what, when, where & why? Write all five of these as a list on a sheet of paper and give general answers. Consider the needs of different audiences and different market sectors. You could plan to write separate versions of the flyer for different groups of businesses.
2 - Take a typical customer and identify one major benefit that he/she would get from buying your product/service and lead with that. Other reasons can come later, but start by backing your most likely winner. Forget trying to be too clever, you don’t need a really smart idea. Finding a simple, powerful way to say what benefits your product or service gives people will always be the best approach. But if your product is truly unique, or exclusive, say so.
3 - Find something new to say. Even if the product has been around since Adam discovered apples. Brainstorm ideas. For example, think about new or unexpected uses. Look at it again as if you had never seen it before.
4 - Be aware of links that you can make to outside events and marketing activities. Examples include exhibitions and other trade advertisings, current and world events. Plan your copy to take advantage of seasonal factors and known buying patterns.
5 - Try out your ideas on other people. Ask others, if possible existing or potential customers, to read your draft copy and tell you what the words mean to them.
1 - Make your offer sound credible. Be direct, enthusiastic and, above all, honest. Explain the good reasons for buying. Anticipate objections and counter them. Make all the facts and figures you quote accurate and specific. KISS - Keep It Short and Simple. Make the facts and figures speak for themselves.
2 - Use language your potential customers will feel comfortable with. Tailor your wording to your audience. Match your tone to your company's image and your industry.
3 - Offer plausible trade-offs. 'Buy two and get the next one free' is attractive. Buyers can see you are trading off price against volume.
4 - Exploit third-party material that backs up your claims. Testimonials will always boost your success rate while reprints of press cuttings give credibility. Quote scientific studies that support your arguments, or else refer to the popularity established by previous sales. eg. 'A million housewives every day...' or 'Already Britain's Number One scanner'. Give guarantees. This can be important if you are targeting new customers.
5- Above all, avoid making your flyer or offer look, or sound like a scam. Nothing turns people off as quickly or generates negative feelings like a whiff of a scam.
Write a straightforward headline, featuring your main benefit to start the reader off on the right track.
You have only seconds to make an impact. Get to the point immediately and avoid waffle in your opening sentence.
Explain your offer. Make sure your reader sees the big benefits in the first paragraph.
Show how your product solves the customer's problem.
Be clear - Be simple - Be convincing.
Use short words. short sentences and short paragraphs.
Focus on the reader and the readers needs. When you are writing, talk to the reader directly, as you would if he/she was standing in front of you.
Use the tried and tested attention-getting-words, like bargain; big; bright; easy; first; free; improved; love; money; new; now; safe; save; want; and, above all, you.
Avoid sounding self-important in the hope of sounding serious.
By ending a paragraph with a question, or ending a page in mid-sentence. you can tap into the cliffhanger effect and attract readers to read on.
Check through what you have written. Then ask someone who does not know the product to check through it again.
Read everything out loud. If it sounds strange or forced, you need to modify it.
1 - Make the faxshot as long, or as short, as it needs to be to say what you have to say. Research shows that even the busiest people will read on if they get a whiff of a worthwhile benefit. Response levels confirm this.
2 - Look at the formats that are successful for other people's faxshots. Formatting devices like italics, bold, underlining, indenting and subheadings can break up slabs of text. But beware, however of making your copy look messy. Generally, sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Lucida Sans will give a crisper, more readable fax than more curly fonts like Times Roman or Garamond.
3 - Finish on a call to action. The copy should end with an exhortation to act: ' do this, do it now'!!
4 - A PostScript can sometimes be very useful to re-state your main point. A ps can often be the most read sentence.
5 - When you have finished, proof read everything you have written twice. Spelling mistakes and glaring errors of grammar will distract readers from your message.
1 - Encourage immediate buying decisions. Offering a free gift with all orders by a certain closing date is a reliable way of boosting response. However, be aware that some business customers and most government departments will disregard any offer that comes with a free personal gift. Contact the Copy Advice Service (020 75804100) to check the rules affecting free gifts and special offers.
2 - Make it as easy as possible to reply and find out more with absolutely no obligation. Give a telephone contact point, ideally a freephone (eg 0800) or lo-call (eg 0845) number, to encourage spontaneous enquiries. Include your email and website addresses on your flyer. If you want your customer to respond by giving you their contact information, have an order or response panel on your flyer that is attractive and allows your prospective customer to give their details as unambiguously as possible. Remember KISS. Keep your reply panel as Short & Simple as possible.
3 - Do not assume that by sending your flyer to a company, it has reached all of the potential customers, or the buyer/specifier. Successful advertising campaigns rely heavily upon repitition of your message.
4 - The mood of the potential customer when he/she reads the fax is also very important. Consider yourself. How different is your buying mood when you have just has a contract cancelled as against your mood when you get a big, new sale?? Suddenly that nice new car that you were promising yourself is attainable and the first fax to promise immediate delivery at just the right price arrives!!! Some recipients may be interested enough to file your flyer for future reference, but most will rely on another fax arriving when they are in a buying mood.
5 - Offer as many payment methods as possible. If possible, provide details to encourage people to buy instantly by credit card, Arrange to accept cheques, bank transfers, credit, debit and charge cards . Consider giving interest-free credit, or longer payment terms for order placed before a fixed deadline.
Your flyer did not get to the person making the buying/specifying decision.
You write the right faxshot, but send it to the wrong people.
You decide to try your first fax to a minimal sample and are discouraged with the replies. Fax marketing works best when a campaign is planned and seen through to the end.
You fail to give customers one overriding reason to buy.
Your copy forgets to deal with the obvious objections to a sale.
You lead with a very witty headline that does not sell your product.
The copy makes claims that potential customers do not believe.
You havn’t thought out your brief, so you get vague copy that does not know who it is selling to.
Your flyer fails to explain your product/service clearly.
You turn people off by making them feel patronised.
Your excellent flyer fails to make up for a product selling at the wrong price.
You did not plan your campaign properly and are overwhelmed by the replies, losing potential customers.
1 - Should you go to an agency? Agency fees will usually be prohibitive unless you are planning to move towards large-scale fax mailings.
2 - Should you write the copy yourself or invest in a freelance copywriter? If you have a good knowledge of your product and the sort of people who buy it, you can probably write a compelling flyer yourself.
3 - Test your flyer on collegues/family/friends to find out quickly and cheaply if you can afford to take the DIY approach. If their combined reaction is nil or negative take the hint and get help from a professional. A good freelance should be able to work with you to write a well-thought-out flyer quite reasonably.
4 - Your local Business Link may be a useful source of independent advice and expertise. Try 0845 6009006 or www.businesslink.gov.uk.
Finally... Some comments from expert marketers that may be useful.
|"I find that the best approach is to list all the questions that people would ask me if I was talking to them face to face. List then in order of importance and then answer them all. By doing this, the flyer writes itself. "||"The 'one-shot wonder' doesn't often happen in the real world of fax broadcasting. Often you need a series of fax’s to get to the stage of an appointment or order"
|"It is tempting to think from your products and your companys point of view. Instead, think from the recipient's point of view. Focus on his or her needs and use 'you' and 'yours', rather than 'we' and 'ours'."
||"There is only one rule about the amount of information on your flyer. You should say everything that needs to be said to give people reasons for buying and to overcome any objections that might hold them back."
|"Carry your themes through. If you are planning a sustained marketing program try to develop a series of faxings each with something new to say but all with a consistent theme."
||If you keep contact data, you must comply with the Data Protection Act, info available HERE.