Just Checkin’ In

I have a longtime client who keeps having to learn the same lesson over and over again.

It’s simple: Don’t mail to people who aren’t home.

There’s a critcial “response frame” for direct response mail. After the first day, if you take phone calls, you should be able to guess at how well the mailing will do. If you’re mailing to a qualified list, or a house list, you should be able to nail final response numbers within a percentage point or so.

But that’s only for around 40 weeks out of the year. There are certain times where almost all markets are “down” — holidays, severe storms that interupt mail service, the beginning of wars. Some of these bad mailing periods are unpredictable, so you cannot plan around them. You just take your best shot.

But holidays… dude, you got a calendar, you know what’s coming up. People are distracted by the big holidays, at best, and just plain gone, at worst.

We just passed a big one, spring break. Next up is Memorial Day, then Fourth of July. In your particular market, there may be other bad mailing times — if you’re marketing to Harley owners, forget about August. They’re all headed to Hollister to raise hell.

Online, it’s similar. Logically, you might think that “old” email, checked days after received, would still pull. But it doesn’t always work that way. Especially when you have deadlines for responding.

It’s a small lesson, yes, but one that will murder your bottom line if you make a habit of trying to contact your list while they ain’t home.

But you don’t have to just sit on your hands, either. These down times are great for doing something “extra” for your house list. Tending to the herd, so to speak. Send out real content, for free, either by posting it and emailing an alert, or dropping something in the snail-mail.

Don’t ask for a sale. Just reach out and touch your best customers with a real gift. No ulterior motives. No hidden catches.

That kind of contact is still good even if they get it long after you’ve sent it. It leaves a good taste in the mouth, too. After hitting them up for multiple pitches, pull your punch a few times every year and just give ’em a little kiss. Free stuff.

It might help to think of your list as a difficult spouse. A little romance is required now and then, with no expectations.

Keeps the fire burning.

You know what I mean?

John Carlton

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