For Direct Mail Lead Generation Success, Clone Your Best Customers

Alan Sharpe
 


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I don't relish being proven wrong. But a while back I sat down to discover who my best clients were. I wanted to increase my revenues. I figured that the best way to do that was to discover who my best clients were and to then go after more firms that were like them.

I had hunches about who my best clients were, but my hunches were proven wrong. So I adjusted my marketing plan accordingly. And doubled my income that year over the previous year.

If you want to increase your revenues and lower your cost of acquiring new customers using direct mail, then I invite you to learn from my mistakes.

Measure your gross sales by client
The first thing I did was look at my books for the previous three years, and break out my income by client. I wanted to know which clients had given me the most business in dollar volume. I had a hunch that my most lucrative clients were businesses that sold their products and services using direct mail, or used direct mail to generate sales leads. I was wrong. The clients who added the most to my bottom line were marketing communications companies who did not have an in-house direct mail copywriter.

Measure your gross sales by region
Another hunch that I had was that my best-paying customers were from outside my city. The majority of my clients are. Yet when I added up the column for revenue by client, I discovered that the two clients who gave me the most money last year were located within a half-hour walk of my office! I was startled.

I had assumed that, because most of my clients were located outside my city and province, then most of my revenue came from those sources. What I did not take into account was the volume of well-paying business that I received from two local clients.

Measure your gross sales by country
Another assumption I had was that at least 75% of my clients were located outside Canada (I am located in Canada). Wrong again! The figure was more like 30%.

Measure gross sales by deliverable
One hunch of mine that was on target was how I earned most of my income. I suspected that the majority of my revenue came from writing direct mail packages for my clients. I was correct. The numbers proved it. In previous years I had written ads, websites, brochures, radio and television commercials, scripts for corporate capabilities presentations, packaging, factsheets, white papers, case studies and slogans. But they did not compare with the volume of business I earned writing direct mail copy.

What I learned
1. Your numbers never lie. The safest way to invest in direct mail lead generation is to study your books to discover where your revenue comes from.

2. Your most frequent buyers are not necessarily your most lucrative. Studying your books, as I did, shows you who buys from you most often and who gives you the most money. If you have products and services that differ widely in price, then your most lucrative clients may actually be the ones who buy least often, but who buy your higher-priced offerings.

3. Sometimes your best customers are closer than you think. Sort your most lucrative customers by zip code or postal code, as I did, and you may be surprised by what you find.

4. You can't know for sure unless you measure your results. Enough said.

How I profited from what I learned
1. I narrowed my focus to writing direct mail letters only. That's what my best clients were hiring me to write.

2. I increased my marketing efforts in the United States to increase the portion of my revenue that comes from that huge market.

3. I started giving better customer service to my local clients, stopped taking them for granted, and stopped acting like a hotshot who could afford to lose their business (since I couldn't, and since no one likes dealing with an arrogant supplier).

4. I narrowed my focus to business-to-business clients only because that's who my best clients were, and that's who I liked working with.

5. I prepared a year-long marketing plan for reaching direct marketing firms and marketing communications firms who met the profile of my ideal client (based in Ontario, no in-house copywriter, 15 employees or fewer, business-to-business clients).

Conclusion
The greatest benefit that I gained from analyzing my client base was that I narrowed my focus to a niche market. The result? I doubled my income within 12 months. And started saving money by only promoting my services to a narrow slice of the market. You can, too.

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About the author
Alan Sharpe is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation specialist who helps business owners and marketing managers generate leads, close sales and retain customers using business-to-business direct mail marketing . Learn more about his creative direct mail writing services and sign up for free weekly tips like this at http://www.sharpecopy.com .

© 2005 Sharpe Copy Inc. You may reprint this article online and in print provided the links remain live and the content remains unaltered (including the “About the author" message).

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