It's a common marketing tactic for companies and organizations to reach out to those who have recently been through life-changing events, such as divorce, bankruptcy, or buying a house.
If you're ever in a car accident, for example, you may be contacted by attorneys who can't legally solicit clients directly, but can offer you a "complimentary police accident report."
And if you move, you may get a letter like this:
I'm not Baptist and have no desire to attend a Baptist church, so this wasn't exactly the kind of thing I'd normally open. Strangely enough though, I'd recently attended an event by Jon Acuff at this very church, so that got my curiosity up.
In this article, I'm going to analyze the good, bad, and ugly of this letter and show you how you can better use direct mail to get more listeners (and attention) for your podcast.
An Opportunity For Podcasters
The majority of podcasters completely neglect offline marketing opportunities. As a result, these podcasters completely miss a large segment of potential listeners who, because they're never online, will never know these podcasts exist.
People want to hear your message, but in order to hear it, they first need to know it's there to listen to.
As a podcaster, you can do the same thing attorneys, banks, and churches do by reaching out to people who have recently been through life-changing events.
Have a podcast on divorce recovery or dating after divorce? People who could use this information are easy to find.
Have a podcast on building credit or another element or personal finance? People who could use this information are easy to find.
Have a podcast on that shares a certain political or social belief? People who share those beliefs are easy to find.
You can find these people online, but that's where all the other podcasters are doing their outreach. If you want to up your odds of getting new people to take a chance on your podcast, your best bet may be connecting with them offline.
Where do you find the names and addresses of people to reach out to? A mailing list broker can help you. Depending on your podcast though, a better (and cheaper) option may be for you to work in conjunction with a company or organization that has an in-house mailing list you can access.
Direct Mail For Podcasters - The Basics
Below are some basic things you can do to get a better response from your postal mailings.
I like to keep things positive. I like to share ideas I think will help your podcast. But this time around, I'm going to start with things you shouldn't do before getting into what you should.
I'm going to break this into two parts:
- the envelope (my first impression)
- the letter inside (the offer)
The Envelope - A Big Ass Mess
Let's take another look:
It's a mess, it's not going to get you the response you want, and here is why:
1. The Address Label - In the world of direct marketing, there are few things less personal than a typed, stick-on address label with "Or Current Resident" under your name. It's the kind of thing that makes you think, "These guys don't care about me - any warm body with the ability to open up this envelope and respond to the offer will do."
But that's just what I received.
If you're looking for maximum response on a direct mail piece, especially for something as personal as a church (or your podcast), when it comes to the addressing the envelope, you'll be much better off writing everything by hand and sending it directly to the person you're trying to reach instead of the one-size-fits-all "Or Current Resident." This will also get your letter opened more often (even by "current residents") as people will be less likely to think of it as a business solicitation.
Basically, if you want a letter opened, you want it to look like it came from your friend. Use blue ink and write addresses by hand.
Which brings up the next problem...
2. The Postage - Who uses a postage meter to send a personal letter? Nobody!
Always use a "live" stamp on mailings you send. Always. And for best results, unless your message is political in nature, stay away from flags. Instead, use something bright and personal, such as cartoons.
A stamp builds a lot more curiosity than the red ink at the top right of this envelope, which screams business. Using a postage meter makes the envelope look like there's an invoice inside. Not very exciting.
You know what else isn't exciting?
3. The Envelope - Black on white. It's been done and it looks like every other letter I got that day. On a positive note, at least it wasn't a "window envelope."
The Letter Inside - It Only Gets Worse
1. The Greeting - "Welcome to Nashville!" is nice, but it's generic…and it's wrong. I've been here since 1999 – I just moved down the street!
What do you do when something doesn't apply to you? You stop reading. This is great if you're looking to be exclusive and attract a very specific type of person, but nothing about this offer so far has made me think that's their approach. And even if it is, there are better ways to do this.
Look, I get it that this church purchased a mailing list of people who had just moved, but working in the marketing business, I also know that mailing houses have the technology to get a lot more personal when it comes to a greeting. A simple, "Welcome to your new home, David!" would have been a lot more effective. This isn't a technology issue – it's a laziness issue.
Podcasting is personal and the letters you send to potential listeners should be personal as well.
2. The "One-Size-Fits-All" Message - "Transitions can be challenging." What does that mean? It sounds like they think I've just gotten divorced. Or had gender reassignment surgery. Or both.
And is this a letter for a "young adult' ministry? That's what the stationery says and that's the site they link to. But the letter also mentions coming whether I'm single or married, whether I'm in college, whether I'm 40, or "somewhere in-between."
Yeah, "somewhere-in-between." The gender reassignment references keep on coming… Kudos to a Baptist church for being so open-minded though!
The problem is that all of this sounds like a big, "one-size-fits-all" cesspool. Also, it's worth noting that this church is nowhere near me – it's in a different county. Do I really want to put in the effort to be part of that?
Your podcast isn't for everybody. Don't make your marketing like a huge net that catches anything and everything. You're looking for people who will love and benefit from your episodes and share them with their friends.
"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
Did Jesus didn't ask for everybody to come to him? No! He requested little children only. So listen to Jesus and get specific in your marketing!
Final Thoughts - The Biggest Mistake
Probably the biggest screwup in this whole thing is the "generic" feel it gives off. It's signed by a single person, but he talks about "us" and gives an email address that starts with "info" along with a phone number that's for the main office.
Don't do this when you market your podcast, whether marketing online or offline.
I know if you went to this church, you'd probably see something different. Aaron is probably ultra-hip, shaves his head, and wears a soul patch. Does he work out? Probably. Maybe you'd see him and wonder to yourself, "Is this a church or a gym?"
Whether or not I'm right about Aaron, this is the personal vibe you want to come through in any of your podcast marketing. Don't give an "info" email address or the main office number – give your personal contact info. You want to make people feel like it's just you and them and you're going to personally take care of any needs they might have.