As a kid getting mail was one of the most exciting things ever. It was never a pesky utility bill or jury duty summons – it was a flyer for summer camp, or a toy catalog you could flip through, or a letter from grandma with a $2 bill! Whatever the mystery mailer was, there was always something magical about running out to the mailbox and seeing that you had mail.
That magical feeling is exactly why we as a society are so persuaded by direct mail. Whether it’s because of our psychological attachment to tangible mail or a cultural history that fostered an appreciation for receiving mail, people of all ages are stuck on the postal system. No matter where our appreciation for mail started, the reason for the long-standing direct mail love affair is rooted in the science of persuasion.
If you’ve ever read Dr. Robert Cialdini’s excellent book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” then you know there are six principles of persuasion that you can use to get consumers to get consumers to say yes. For those of you who haven’t read the book, it essentially states that people do not use reason in order to make decisions. We use six shortcuts that give our brains a quick and easy decision every time we say “yes!” to a service or product. Those shortcuts are reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, liking, and consensus. As marketers and consumers it’s important to understand these, because these are the tools that businesses use to persuade us to click, to reply, to fill in a form, to call, and even to “buy now!”
It may be hard to believe that six tiny words can sum up years and years of marketing research, but it’s been proven to be true. For example, many restaurants use the concept of reciprocity when it’s time to pay the bill. They have found that when servers give a mint with the check, the tip goes up by 3 percent. The principle is proven again, when servers give two mints per person with the bill. Their tips increased 14 percent. The key here is that the gift given was personalized and unexpected. Now, you probably aren’t working for tips, but the same rule applies when selling a product. If you can give your customers some sort of personalized and unexpected gift upfront, then they will be much more likely to buy whatever you are trying to sell.
Here we see the true value of direct mail. Unlike email or social media, physical mail is highly personal – in the same way receiving a handwritten letter from a loved one is more special than getting a text message. The mail itself becomes the initial gift and establishes a relationship. From there you can start to offer discounts and offers to really increase tips – or rather, sales.
One of the most popular examples of these principles in the real world is the idea of authority. Because the brain cannot possibly be fully informed on everything, we often look to authorities as educated decision-makers. This is the reason that many people will try fad diets endorsed by celebrities, or pay brokers to manage their stocks – we simply cannot do it all on our own. For marketers, the biggest challenge is how to become an authority, and direct mail provides the way. Building expert or celebrity status is actually one of the top 8 reasons for publishing a monthly newsletter. The affluence and influence necessary to publish a professional newsletter instantly translates into expert status in the mind of many consumers.
It’s easy to see how all of these principles can lead to higher sales and a stronger relationship with your customers, and the best part is that every single one of these laws of persuasion are achieved with direct mail. Personalized mailers give people a sense of consistency, authority and liking, while embedded offers give them the valuable urgency of reciprocity and scarcity. The last of these principles, consensus, means that people look to actions of others before making their own. This is not only a benefit of print media, but an opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing. Using this principle, people are likely to share their mailers with friends and family. In order to encourage participation, many newsletters will include a patient or client spotlight that demonstrates a satisfied customer, illustrating how potential buyers can be in the “in group” by becoming involved with your business.
The psychology of these principles has been proven time and again, so don’t miss out! Check out the research yourself and see how direct mail can persuade customers and build relationships today.
About Stacey Riska
Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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