Several months ago, one of my favorite clients asked me to create a web-based promotion for a new investment advisory. The service would give daily mutual fund trading advice to investors for the princely sum of about $1,000 per year.
By the time the dust had settled, we had generated an eye-popping $5 million in sales!
Here’s how the promotion worked …
STEP #1. We picked the low-hanging fruit – cheap.
A respectable chunk of my client’s customers love him to death and will buy just about any product he recommends. For these wonderful customers, I created an extremely low-cost, multi-step e-mail campaign: A series of short, daily blasts announcing the new product and the reasons why the customer should jump on board right away … re-announcing the new product … asking them why we hadn’t heard from them … etc.
Important point: The e-mail medium itself is, in a very real way, a big part of the message. By its very nature – the fact that it is an instant communication – the e-mail medium screams “Urgency!”
And it also raises key questions in your prospect’s mind:
“Why is this communication urgent?
“Is it because you urgently need to sell me something?
“Or is it because I urgently need a piece of information in order to bring value to my life?”
I knew that if my prospects perceived that my e-mail messages were just crass attempts to sell them something, my e-mails might be instantly deleted. If, on the other hand, my e-mails were perceived as a timely and sincere offering to help the recipient in some way, my sales messages would be far more likely to be read and responded to.
And so, for urgency and readership, I began each e-mail with valuable information or advice relating to a fast-breaking piece of news from the investment world. The subject line and opening copy of each blast was new each day – as fresh as each day’s headlines – and rewarded prospects for reading my sales message.
Next, I made the connection between the breaking news and the new investment service – and demonstrated how the service could use this new event to generate huge profits for the reader in the days ahead.
And, finally, I inserted copy justifying my price and asking for the order.
RESULT: A constant stream of $1,000 orders poured in from these e-mails every day for five full weeks.
STEP #2. We got fence-sitters to a “tipping point” website.
While a significant group of loyal customers could be counted on to buy in response to a short e-mail, I reasoned that the short copy would leave at least 90% of my prospects sitting on the fence. To sell them, I’d need longer copy – more reasons to buy now – than could be presented in a five- or six-paragraph e-mail.
To tip these prospects off of their perch, I used about half the long direct-mail copy I had written about the product (12 pages of 12-point type, single-spaced) to create an “Urgent Special Report” online: a small, cheap website. And in Week 2 of my campaign, I began sending e-mails to the client’s customers urging them to click a link in order to read the free report immediately.
RESULT: Order volume increased dramatically as a significant number of my client’s customers responded to the simple website.
STEP #3. We exploited other low-cost or free media.
Though my client’s Web-based products are extremely successful, he also publishes and mails a monthly print newsletter to some 120,000 active subscribers every month.
Taking my client’s urgent recommendation to his customers in print would position this new product in my prospects’ minds as being something special – not just another run-of-the-mill product promoted exclusively on the Internet.
So, I simply took the 12 pages of copy from the little website I’d created … wrote a new headline and opening… turned it into a printed special report … and had it inserted in the next issue of my client’s print newsletter.
At the same time, I asked the client’s phone operators to include a pitch for the product on all inbound calls from customers.
And I included an insert offering the free online report in my client’s outbound welcome packages that new subscribers received.
RESULT: Once again, sales spiked nicely.
STEP #4. We showed up where they least expected us to.
Two weeks after the newsletter insert hit my prospects’ mailboxes, I hit them again – with the full 24-page direct-mail package I had initially created to promote the product. This time, it was formatted as a free special report or “thank-you” bonus for loyal customers.
After years of receiving ONLY e-mail promotions for these high-priced trading services, my prospects suddenly realized that this must really be different than – and therefore better than – anything my client had recommended before.
Reasoning that anyone who hadn’t bought probably hadn’t read past the headline and lead-in copy, I made sure the first three pages were fresh. Beyond that, the copy was pretty much unchanged.
RESULT: Money was positively rolling in.
STEP #5. We got tenacious.
Two weeks after the 24-pager hit their mailboxes, we stuffed it into an envelope, added a one-page letter from my client asking “Why haven’t I heard from you?” … and dropped it into the mail.
Again – the phone rang off the hook.
The Final Result: The combined effect of e-mail, the website, the inserts in the print newsletter, and two direct mailings had a multiplying effect on response.
In the end, our multi-channel marketing campaign had sold more than $5 million worth of subscriptions to the new service in just five weeks – about five times more than we would have sold through an e-mail promotion alone!
Lessons learned …
1. E-mail marketing and mini-websites are merely two of the marketing channels available to you. Challenge yourself to come up with other non-Web-based, low-cost ways to deliver your sales message. This will position your product as being head and shoulders above all the others your prospects have seen.
2. Picking the low-hanging fruit on a house file with ultra-cheap e-mail campaigns first is a smart way to get the ball rolling. But adding promotions in other media – the newsletter inserts, direct-mail packages, welcome package inserts, inbound telemarketing scripts – can make hundreds of sales that are normally lost with Web-based marketing alone.
3. Compelling “reason-why” sales copy at every step of each campaign is absolutely essential for maximizing response and minimizing cost per sale – and can send ROI soaring at every step of your online marketing process. Using anything less than the strongest sales copy that could possibly be written means you’re leaving big bucks on the table.[Ed. Note: Clayton Makepeace helps entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketing execs reap maximum profits through the Internet, direct mail, and print advertising every week in his e-zine The Total Package.]