Setting up as a small pizza delivery service, I didn’t see any reason why a needed direct mailing lists. My strategy was basically to canvass various neighborhoods with coupons, fliers, and other advertisements for our service. We made our own direct marketing lists… it was pretty obvious who would buy what we were selling. It was a college town, you see, so we canvassed the student neighborhoods. When six months later business had not picked up, however, we had to reconsider our strategies. Nothing seemed to be working, you see.
We didn’t think that our direct mail lists were the problem. We hit different student neighborhoods every month, so one way or another we should have been getting everyone. The problem was that we were using so much money printing up thousands and thousands of fliers that we were not making enough on pizza sales to cover expenses. Finally, we hit a wall. We knew that we had to hire a direct marketing company to boost sales or we would go under in the next 18 months or so.
I was pleased to find out that our direct marketing lists were not the problem. The company that we hired, in fact, advocated expanding our turf even further. They came up with a novel solution: rather than using direct marketing lists with targeted advertisements to try to nail just the right customers, they wanted to take coupon books door-to-door and try to sell them off as a way of getting more business in the pizza joint. At that point, I was willing to try anything. I had expected them to use scientifically targeted direct marketing lists, but I was open for any new strategy. As long as it was something that we hadn’t tried before, it might be worth a shot.
It turned out to be the best thing that we had tried! People throw out free coupons all the time, but if you have good salesman selling them a coupon book at the door they will do their best to use every coupon up on your product. At the prices we were selling pizzas, we would not make much money off of each new customer, but it didn’t really matter any bit there were so many new people coming in that we didn’t know what to do with them! It turns out that direct marketing lists aren’t the solution. Good door-to-door salesman are!
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