Marketing Your Catering Business – Using Direct Mail As a Conversion Tool

As prospects call your catering business, visit your website, or visit your restaurant, how are you collecting their information and re-targeting these individuals who have yet to become customers?

Whether you’re using a tool like ACT! or some other Customer Resource Management (CRM) software, you need to have the ability to keep a database of customers and prospects. This will give you the ability to know whom you have sold to in the past so you can retarget them and who has expressed interest, but have yet to purchase. This will be key as you plan your direct mail campaign because you’ll have the ability to export a list prospects that you’d like to send the piece to.

It’s a great practice to send a mailing to this group on a regular basis as you’re competing with a number of caterers and you want to keep your business fresh in their minds when it comes time to have an event catered. We recommend sending a mailer once a month. There are a number of options when it comes to the type of mailing, however a 6″x8.5″ postcard is a great size. It’s larger than a typical 4.25″x6″ postcard and therefore is less likely to get lost amongst the recipient’s mail and gives you additional space for your messaging.

On your postcard, be sure to include the following elements:

– Headline: Your headline needs to get the attention of the recipient. There are a number of techniques for writing a powerful headline.

- Ask a question: “Can you believe the Holidays are only a month away?” or “Who’s going to cater your company’s Holiday party this year?”

- Begin your headline with “How to”: “How to lower the catering costs for your next event”

- Feature a testimonial in your headline: “Acme Catering helped the Smiths make their party unforgettable”

-Imagery: Your direct mail piece should be targeted to the recipient and a key to this targeting is imagery. If one prospect is a corporate client and another is targeted to a personal event, the appropriate imagery should be used.

-Call to Action: Your postcard should feature a call to action. In other words; what do you want the recipient to do next? Do you want them to call you? Visit your website? If you’d like the recipient to call you, it would be a great idea to ask them to mention that they received the postcard to receive a discount or special offer. This will help you track the results of the mailing. If you’re sending them to your website, create a landing page that speaks to this audience and send them to a separate page. On this dedicated landing page include a form they can complete to inquire about your services. This will allow you to track the number of people who complete this form and calculate the success of the campaign.

-Contact Information: As mentioned under “call to action” be sure to include your contact information on the postcard. Think about the action you’d like the recipient to take. Do you want the recipient to call you? Would you rather send them to your website? Just be sure that if you include multiple ways of contacting you, you can accurately track how they found your business. You want to ensure you can track the customer back to the direct mail campaign that you sent to prospects.

We recommend PostcardMania or ModernPostcard. They provide design and mailing services and can help you get up and running quickly. We hope this article has been helpful in demonstrating how direct mail can help you increase conversions for your catering business. Be sure to visit us at CateringResults.com where you’ll find additional resources for marketing your catering business effectively.

Basic Elements in Measuring E-Mini Market Strength

There are very few e-mini trading sources that don’t, at some point, emphasize the importance of trading with the trend. This article is no different; I highly recommend focusing on trading with the trend. However, not all trends are created equal and every trend begins to falter and finally reverse. Obviously, the best time to be trading the trend is when it is peaking and not when it is declining and strength.

But how do you know when and e-mini trend is especially strong and when it is entering a weak phase?

Interestingly enough, I generally show a high level of disdain for indicators and oscillators as primary tools for entering and exiting e-mini trades. On the other hand, indicators and oscillators are especially useful in developing an understanding of the underlying strength of a trend. As a trend lengthens, I tend to look to my indicators to see if there are any divergences in trend indications and price movement. For example, if the price has been rising in a trend and been confirmed throughout the course of the trend but began to show divergence (divergence would be an oscillator moving in a direction opposite the price movement, in this case) I start to become suspicious about the strength of the trend. While divergence signals may not point to the exact bar where the trend will in end, it should put any competent trader on notice that the trend is weakening.

When divergences begin to develop, there are two possible outcomes; the trend will resume in direction and strength or the trend will continue to falter and decay. Of course, repeated divergences in succession and on different indicators or oscillators would certainly put me on notice that the possibility for a trend change could be in the offing.

Additionally, I think it is important to keep an eye on volume during a trend. When I see a marked change in volume, especially with an increase in volume, my suspicions become even more pronounced.

A simple observation of the price action as the trend progresses can also yield significant clues as to the strength of a trend. Usually the end of a trend is marked by ragged price action and deeper retracements. You will often see the divergence of price action and an indicator as the price action becomes more ragged. A trend line will emphasize the weakening price movement, especially when the retracements stop at closer and closer intervals to the trend line, or temporarily violate the trend line.

As you can see, there is no single factor that I use in determining the strength of a trend line. I use a constellation of factors that relate similar information to determine the underlying strength of a market trend.

In summary, we have had a very brief look at market strength and trends and identified some factors that may indicate the weakening of a trend. Those factors are divergent indications, volume fluctuations, and erratic price action. Once the directional movement has slowed it may form a channel or reverse direction. Only observation will give you, as the trader, the proper information on which to act. Don’t trust any one indication of a weakening trend, but look for concerted indications of a change in price direction.

Big Changes In Recruiting Practices For Network Marketers

Three conditions now exist which will change the way we solicit and recruit new MLM downlines forever…

ONE- CANSPAM ACT

The CanSpam Act will bring mass email based recruiting efforts to a screaming halt. The risk, frankly, of being accused of sending spam is just too great. Violators of the Act can be subject to stiff criminal penalties, which include fines and up to five years in prison. Civil damages can amount to as much as $250 per spam e-mail. Aggravated violations can cause civil damages to be tripled The days when we could buy a list of thousands of “opt-in” business opportunity seekers, plug them into an autoresponder follow-up system, and wait for the system to do its magic are drying up fast.

If you are currently using a system of buying bulk business opportunity leads from anyone… and loading them to your autoresponder system… you are playing a game of Russian Roulette. The only way to insulate yourself from the very real risk of being charged under the Can-Spam Act is to generate your own double opt-in leads. There are too many unscrupulous lead vendors who will promise you that the leads they sell are “opt-in” or “double opt-in”… when in fact they are neither. You have no way of knowing… so why risk bankruptcy or jail.

Some of the major lead generation companies are already leaving the business. Those who remain, are forced to restructure how they generate and qualify leads. Most are necessarily turning to a telephone verification system…which drives the price (and the quality)of the lead much higher.

TWO- AGGRESSIVE ISP’S:

The growing aggressiveness on the part of ISP’s to use very restrictive filtering systems that toss out huge amounts of legitimate mail. Messages, which do not pass some arbitrary screening process for words and phrases, are summarily discarded or thrown into some “bulk mail” file. Time Magazine estimates between 40% to 70% of all email is dumped (filtered) BEFORE anyone receives it. 27% of all permission- based email never arrives in the recipient’s mail box. The undelivered rate of email today is staggering…and getting worse.

Even legitimate newsletter publishers, with sophisticated “double opt-in” subscription systems, are complaining about non-delivered mail that is filtered out by a third party (ISP’s). They are paying for a service that they are not getting (email delivery), and I fully expect some lawsuits to be filed on this issue soon.

THREE- REDUCED OPEN RATES:

Plummeting “open” rates. Tons of email that is delivered is simply discarded by the person receiving it because they are getting so much mail that it is overwhelming them. The very real fear of computer viruses also has played a major role in reducing the “open” rate. According to eMarketer.com and Opt-in News the 2003 open rate for ezines in the business-to-consumer category was a shocking 31%. This means that 69% did NOT open something that they opted-in to receive. The result… effectiveness of email marketing systems… measured by sales, profits, and conversions, are dropping like a rock.

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“This is not about divorcing ourselves from technology, and all the benefits it has to offer… it is about building a comprehensive and synergistic approach to recruiting and downline building which recognizes, and uses, the proven methods of multi-media direct-response advertising.”

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What’s the answer???

Well, one solution, in addition to refining our web based recruiting efforts, is a return to the old “tried & proven” offline methods, that many of us have gotten away from for the past few years,to generate our own lead base…

* Targeted direct mail

* Offline classified advertising

* Offline display advertising

* Coop post card decks

* Publicity

* Other effective direct-response advertising.

NOTE: All of these methods can be either “stand-alone” recruiting systems… or involve driving qualified traffic to a presentation website which has a lead capture mechanism built-in. This allows for an interested prospect to educate and identify themselves and request information and follow-up.

DIRECT MAIL

Targeted Direct Mail especially, is a wonderful tool for MLM distributors to both sell product and recruit and train new team members.

A common complaint, among those who are interested in using direct mail, is the learning curve involved in creating effective copy and offers, list selection, etc. In other words… direct mail requires some expertise to be effective.

It’s amazing that, whenever a problem or a need exists… someone comes along to fill that need. Such is the case with producing high quality, MLM focused, direct mail…

Here is a claim made by a new downloadable product which promises: “Now, in only 3 ½ Minutes You Can Quickly and Easily Create a Sales Letter Guaranteed To Recruit More Distributors and Explode Your Business… Without Writing!

Click here for additional information- [ http://tinyurl.com/4qem4 ] .

THREE KEY FACTORS…

Remember that the three key factors that affect the profitability of any direct mail effort are:

==> List

==> Price

==> Offer

To be sure…there are other variables and factors that are important to the success or failure of a direct mail effort… but the key three are list, price, and offer.

If you need to polish up your skills in the area of direct response marketing you would do well to subscribe to several of the major publications in the field: i.e. Target Marketing Magazine, DM News, Direct, etc. Also, the Direct Marketing Association provides tons of great information. You’ll find them easily by doing a search on your favorite search engine.

TARGETED CLASSIFIED AND DISPLAY ADVERTISING

Note the use of the word “targeted”… it is a very important word. Make sure the publications you consider running your advertising in are specific to your desired audience.

To achieve that you’ll need to do a couple of things:

(1) carefully profile your best potential customer or prospects, and

(2) carefully select media whose subscribers closely matches the profile of your best customers and/or prospects.

Two terms that you will want to be aware of are:

(1) demographics

(2) psychographics

Demographics refers to such factors as age, gender, income, family size, marital status, etc.

Psychographics refers to “life style” factors such as travel habits, credit card use, hobbies, etc. The combination of these two areas help you define or “profile” your best potential customers and prospects.

You’ll find these categories of market information covered in any “media kit” provided to potential advertisers by print publications. Mailing list brokers will outline this type of data in their “data cards” which define the charactistics of individual mailing lists.

The internet search engines can be lots of help to you here… run searches on such terms as: “media directory”, “magazine directory”, “business opportunity magazines”, “mailing list brokers”… you get the idea. The more specific your search stream the better your results will usually be. Also, look on some of the major web sites that serve your market. You’ll often find links to magazines, newsletters, list brokers, etc which target your market. Also, don’t forget your local library. Ask the reference librarian to see a copy of “Ulrich’s Directory” or any other publications directory they may have.
For additional information on creating specific advertising you should look to your MLM corporate marketing department for approved copy and ads. For additional information on how you can create your own ads you will find an article titled: “How YOU Can Create Advertising That SELLS! at: [ [http://www.e-comprofits.com/advarticle.html] ]

A number of advertising and copywriting articles, targeted at the MLM industry are available at the Network Marketing University site at: e-comprofits.com/swsarticles.html

DIRECT RESPONSE POST CARD DECKS…

Direct response post card decks are one of the best offline means of generating qualified sales leads and prospects. The MLM industry has a number of post card decks targeted specifically to “business opportunity seekers” and these are all good choices. Don’t forget that, in any given product niche, there are card decks which mail to prospects in that market. For example, there are many card decks which target health product buyers, chiropractors, nurses, massage therapists, etc. For a complete list of card decks you can refer to the SRDS publications (Standard Rate & Data Service) or visit your local library to examine the latest SRDS books.

PUBLICITY

Publicity is, perhaps, one of the most underutilized sources of promotion and recruiting of MLM distributors. Why? I think it is just simply not stressed enough. Any MLM distributor can get free publicity for his product or service. There are any number of online press releases services available for distribution of your news releases… some are free. PRWEB for example will distribute your release online free… and your release will probably be posted on the Yahoo site as well.

As with all other methods of promotion and recruiting… there are tricks to gaining free publicity. An article that may help you get the basics down is: “How To Generate Free Publicity For Your Business, Service, or Cause!” at: EzineArticles.com

A SIMPLE FORMULA FOR RECRUITING SUCCESS…

The recruiting formula in the internet age is pretty simple:

* Build a content-rich website which informs and sells..

* Drive qualified traffic to that site from multi-media efforts…(explore ad coops to keep your costs down)

* Entice and Invite the visitor/prospect to request additional details…

* Capture that visitors complete contact information… in a “double opt-in” process…

* Follow-up in a systematic way…

SUMMATION: The lesson to be learned here is that, even though there are profound changes taking place in the email marketing arena, which affect all mlm recruiting efforts, there are also plenty of both offline and online opportunities and tools available. In the rush to adapt internet marketing and recruiting technology… we have forgotten that some of the oldest stand-by’s are still great ways to get our message out.

This is not about divorcing ourselves from technology, and all the benefits it has to offer… it is about building a comprehensive and synergistic approach to recruiting and downline building which recognizes, and uses, the proven methods of multi-media direct-response advertising.

The internet and email still have a profoundly important role to play in the building and management of our mlm distributorship businesses. Using offline media and methods to drive quality traffic to our information websites… capturing the follow-up information of people who ask for additional details… and then following-up with those people in a systematic and helpful way, will result in your mlm business growing with both speed and strength.

© Copyright 2005 Thom Reece All Rights Reserved