Real Marketing – Regular Mail

Though many of us are trying to make a certain amount of money online, our hopes being that it’s enough to work on, some of us who work for ourselves acknowledge that it’s not always the only way we can go, especially if we have a client audience that’s not quite savvy when it comes to being online.

by Chris Lott via Flickr

In real life I’m a health care finance consultant (you probably have no idea what that is), and I mainly work with hospitals. I can pretty much guarantee that few are looking for my consulting services via social media. I get lucky every once in a while when someone finds my LinkedIn profile, but since I’ve set it up so it’s non-searchable on search engines, it means only people on Linked In can find me.

The majority of people these days talk about email marketing. It sounds like a panacea for marketing that’s easy, but it’s not. Not only is it not easy, but it doesn’t work for every endeavor.

Sometimes you have to use regular mail, aka snail mail. No matter how you look at it, this is one of the most expensive ways of trying to market yourself and your business. Even if all you do it create a letter, put it in an envelope, buy stamps and send it out, it’s not inexpensive. Let’s look at why.

Statistics say that per 100 items mailed out, you have a 1% chance that someone will even look at it. After that you have a 16% chance of there being any action taken other than someone throwing it away. I don’t know about you but with numbers like that the odds of my getting much via regular mail don’t look so good.

Some people create flyers. Some people send their information out in one of those special postal envelopes to make things look more official. They probably get opened more often but for what it costs and that 16% chance of action, that’s an expensive gamble if you ask me.

What else does it take? It takes time in writing a letter that gets your points across and yet stays under a page. Like almost anything else, people don’t have a lot of time to read long letters. So you want to try to get everything on one page. If you decide to attach a report of some kind to the letter later that’s okay; your letter still has to be one page.

It takes times in finding all the names and addresses of the people you want to send things to. Addresses are easy; names and positions aren’t always the same. If you’re lucky enough to have a directory for certain organizations that will speed things up a lot.

In my case there’s a lot of internet research I have to do to find the right names, and sometimes I find that internet information is really only as good at the IT departments of the facilities I’m hoping to reach. For instance, just because the hospital’s domain might be something like “”, that doesn’t necessarily mean email addresses us the same domain info. Many organizations have long internet names for branding purposes yet have shorter email addresses for internal use.

It takes time to print everything out. I can create one letter for everyone, but I have to change the person I’m sending it to all the time. It takes longer printing envelopes because my printer hates envelopes, so I have to hand feed them through one at a time. Then it takes time to fold, stuff, peel individual stamps from the stamps paper and put it on the envelope and finally seal the envelopes.

Finally it’s all in the mail and you wait for a hoped for response, but only so long. If you have the will to do it, you have to try to contact the people you’ve written to within 3-5 days after you’ve sent the letter. Even then, based on the first statistic I mentioned above, most of them won’t remember or know that they received a letter from you.

I’ve tried changing things up. I’ve gone with different colored envelopes from time to time. I don’t buy standard stamp, instead going for whatever designer stamp they have at the time to hope catch the eye. Every once in a while I buy colored paper, but its impact depends on someone opening the envelope.

Regular mail is the most calming and the most frustrating marketing you can do. It’s calming because the process of putting the entire letter together, and then putting it in the mail, gives you a great sense of accomplishment. The anxiety begins a couple of days later because you’re wondering if the letter’s been delivered and opened. You figure that the mail might be there in two days but you really don’t want to call people the same day they get your letter unless they’re expecting it… and they’re probably not expecting it.

If you’re trying affiliate marketing or only marketing online this is a marketing process you’re not going to do. But if you have a product or service, it’s something you might consider. If you have the chutzpah or are willing to pay a virtual assistant to do it for you, you could easily send 3 letters a week… well, maybe not easily. Whenever I start a regular mail campaign, I have 3 separate letters to send, one after another. Truthfully, I rarely get to the second letter; if I don’t call, I’m not bothering.

For some of you, this might be something to consider. If you’re selling digital products… don’t bother.

2 thoughts on “Real Marketing – Regular Mail”

  1. Great post Mitch! I think that the reason snail mail works best in this case is mainly because of the novelty as almost no one uses them these days. So, if someone sends you a snail mail, you are kind of caught off guard and are tempted to open it. When emails were not that ubiquitous, lets say 30 years ago and if you had a computer in your home and you got an email, you would have been much more excited to open it than a snail mail. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Shelby. I remember back in the day when email was new I was compelled to respond to it. These days, unless it’s business, I’ve been known to wait as long as a week before I get to it. That’s shameful, but I figure as long as it’s in the inbox I’ll get to it, since I delete all the junk I don’t want before it hits my inbox.

      As for letters… at best, I know that if the person I’m sending it to has a secretary, that person will open it up and hopefully put it in the inbox pile, but it’s not always a guarantee. If it gets directly to the person I’m sending it to, I’d probably have better luck if I left my business name off the letter… that idea just hit me so it’s something to explore. 🙂

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