What Does Acting and a Successful Direct Marketing Campaign Have in Common?

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Notice all the great actors. They all have a certain quality about them. They all know exactly when to deliver that next line. You may be the most talented actor in the world, but if you don’t know when to deliver your next line, you’ll fall flat on your face.

While this is true for any actor, the one who specializes in comedy is especially aware of this. Offer a hilarious retort too early and your audience may not only lose the full effect of your delivery, it may get drowned in the laughter triggered by the previous line. Wait too long – and it loses its punch.

Delivering your line in direct mail.

If you’re at all familiar with direct mail, you know that the first requirement is a strong, convincing – dare I say, enthusiastic? – sales letter.

And, if you know a little bit more about direct mail advertising, then you know this needs to be coupled with a mailing list of potential customers who are eager to buy your product – even if they don’t realize it yet.

But there’s still one aspect – oftentimes overlooked – of an outrageously successful direct mail advertising campaign. And that’s timing.

Just like an actor, if you deliver your sales line too soon or too late it’ll get lost or pushed aside. Let me give you an obvious example. Let’s say you’re selling personally engraved Christmas tree ornaments. For maximum sales effect, you wouldn’t mail your ad during the Fourth of July holiday.

Oh, sure, you’ll get some grandmother in Nebraska or Ohio to buy one or two so she can proudly announce to her family, “I’ve finished my Christmas shopping for this year!”

But for the most part, people are busy with..well, summer events. Christmas is pretty much the last thing on their minds. Your mailing in fact may backfire on you. It just might stir up some hostile feelings, creeping Christmas commercialism and all that!

No, the most effective time for that mailing is much closer to Christmas. In fact, your final mailing (yes, you need to do several!) should be as close to the holiday as possible and still ensure on-time delivery (But you knew all that!).

Now, let’s take a not-so-obvious example. Imagine a very successful nutritional supplement company developing direct mail campaigns for several years. But as successful as they are, they may experience even greater sales once they realize the amazing power of the timing of their mailings.

Their target customer, you see, may be the older individual, many of whom are on a fixed income. Mailing in mid-month produced some results, but once they study and learn the habits of their customers, their mailing can be pulled tremendously.

Elderly individuals on a fixed income usually receive a check only once a month – and usually it’s on the first day of the month. If you mail mid-month, as the company was doing, many eager, potential customers were unable to take advantage of it because their resources were already allotted for the month.

Once the company timed their mailing so that it would reach their customers several days before they received their checks, the response was much greater. You could even envision what happened when the mailing hit the house. They would read it, realize they wanted to try it and then place it on the pile of utility bills they had to pay for the month. In effect, they would budget the supplement into their monthly income.

The priority of the purchase suddenly went from “It’s a wonderful idea if only I could afford it!” to “I’m setting aside money to buy it.”

And there you have it! Timing is, indeed, everything!

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