How to Win A New Customer for Less Than $3

Posted on Aug 18, 2010 by Kerry O'Malley

The Simple Letter Still Works!


Social media marketing, email marketing, print advertising, trade shows, promotional events . . . billions of dollars spent on marketing communications every year, and marketers forget that one of the most tried and true, powerful marketing tactics can be created without the assistance of an expensive agency and can be implemented for under $3.00 a prospect.  That’s right:  $3.00.  It may not be as cool or WOW inspiring as some of the more dramatic marketing tactics, but it has proven in studies over time to be one of the most effective. The most effective marketing campaign you can create is a series of letters.

I’m not talking about mass marketing letters.  You know, the highly stylized ad that’s about as personal as the automated government phone system?  No, I’m talking about a strategic series of well crafted, personalized letters that may be going to hundreds, but appear to be sent directly to one individual.

Yes, we live in an age when most people communicate more through email than postal mail.  However, there is still a slightly different perception regarding a personal letter and an email.  Perhaps because emails are easier to send and more casual forms of communication, the mailed letter is perceived as a communication that was given more thought, that is more important and meaningful, and that took more effort.  Think about the difference in receiving a birthday e-card or a Facebook birthday wish, versus a “real” card that was personally signed and sent through the mail.  (I know I’m more impressed with the mailed card!)

This strategy works best when the prospect has already made contact with your company: they called for information; sent an email through your website; spoke to someone at a trade show; or were actually called on by someone from your sales team.   These are all future customers in the making.  They just need to be cultivated and developed.  The best way to move someone from prospect to customer is by repeatedly putting your message in front of them.  The best way to do that is an integrated strategy of communications. I’m only talking about one element of that strategy, but it’s a powerful one.  It just so happens that the simple, humble, letter remains the most effective direct marketing campaign in terms of ROI.  If you don’t believe me, ask any politician or fund raiser!

To make your letter campaign truly easy to implement, it should all happen fairly automatically.  Having everything set up and ready to go on your computer or your assistant’s computer will make the whole process a snap.  Here’s a formula for the most cost effective direct marketing campaign there is:

1.  Determine the scheduling of your mailings.  It’s best to send the letters at consistent intervals, 2 to 3 weeks apart.  Consistent communication will not only prove your diligence, it will say to the prospect that your company cares about customer service.

2.  Create your series of letters at one time.  Think about a logical sequence of information that you want to send a prospect and break it up into six letters (cost of postage under $3.)

3.  Decide whom the letter will be from.  If your company has inside or outside sales people, the letter should probably be signed by whoever covers the territory the prospective customer is in.  If the prospect has already spoken to someone from your company – either on the phone or at a trade show – and there are no sales commission or territory conflicts, the letters should be from that person.  Your series of letters will contain the same information, but may require multiple sets, signed by different individuals.

4.  The first letter is simply to state that it was a pleasure speaking with (or meeting) the person, or that you are pleased they requested more information about your company if their request came through your website or email.  Of course thank them for the inquiry.  If they requested a brochure and you have one, send it with the first letter and tell them you are including it.  The first letter could contain slightly different text, depending on how you received the inquiry and whether or not the prospect spoke to someone in your company.  It should be the most personal, and a reflection of the contact they had or inquiry they made.  It can be written in such a way that all someone has to do is fill in the blank in certain areas, such as “It was a pleasure speaking with you recently at “X TRADE SHOW.”

5.  In the first letter, briefly mention your product/service/company’s greatest benefits to the prospect.  Key:  keep it brief.  Remember, they don’t know you are going to send them five more letters.

6.  In your second letter, you can begin by saying something like “The first letter I sent you was so brief it didn’t allow me to elaborate on “X product’s” other benefits,” or “it didn’t allow me to mention the other, complimentary services we offer our customers” . . . something along those lines.  Then elaborate.  Letter two will say the exact same thing to each prospect, regardless of who signs it.

7.  The following four letters should be written to continue stressing the benefits of your products and services and perhaps new, additional reasons to do business with your company.  They can get progressively more hard selling.

8.  If they haven’t called you again by the time they’re received the 4’th or 5’th letter, this is the time to pick up the phone and make the sales call (which is not my favorite thing to do.)  However, it is usually easier at this point since they should now have a pretty good idea of who you are and what your company does.  If your letters were well written, they have hopefully paved the way for a positive response to your phone call.

Other letter writing tips:[list style=”checked”]

  • Use a conservative, letter type font, such as Times New Roman or Ariel.
  • Make sure your letters LOOK like letters – no graphics or pictures!
  • Left align all text, and whatever you do, don’t CENTER it!
  • No paragraph should contain more than 5 or 6 sentences.
  • Underline occasionally, but BOLD sparingly.
  • Show lots of white space around the type to make it easier to read.
  • Ask for a specific action at the end of each letter (typically, you will ask that they call you.)
  • With mail merge features available in almost any software you would use, there is absolutely no reason why each letter cannot address the prospect BY NAME.
  • A real person needs to sign the letter (no computer generated signatures) and it should be clear and legible.[/list]


After your next trade show, why don’t you give the letter campaign a try?  Aren’t six letters going to be six times as effective as one mailed brochure?  For less than $3 a prospect, there’s really no reason not to!

Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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