Taking Conversation Marketing Offline


Conversation Marketing is abut targeting more than anything else. It’s about talking to the right people at the right time. Clearly, I’m promoting social media, and especially Facebook as a great way to do this, but is it the only way?

Well no, it’s not. In fact, Conversation Marketing techniques can be applied in a lot of ways both online and offline. Let’s look at just one way of doing that, shall we? In this case, let’s talk about direct mail. That’s right, the original spam. The one kind of mail everybody complains about, but frankly, makes too damn much money for the post office to ever really be curtailed. Does the USPS actually deliver anything else these days?

At any rate, the USPS has a great product called Every Door Direct Mail. I’m a huge fan, and by applying Conversation Marketing methodology, I’ve gotten as high as a 10% return rate using this product. To put that in perspective, most direct mail campaigns will generate something more on the order of 1%, on a good day. 10% isn’t just extraordinary, it’s stratospheric.

Here’s the key, you have to remember two of the most important underlying principles of Conversation Marketing:

  1. It’s better to talk to 100 people who care, than 100,000 who don’t;
  2. People tend to cluster with people like them. My neighbors tend to be demographically similar to me. Our houses are worth about the same, we have the same kind of jobs, and we buy the same kinds of goods and services.

I have a client who is an automotive retail, specifically he’s a Buy Here Pay Here dealership with six rooftops in southwest Michigan. So the first thing we did was take his customer list from the last 10-years and chart it using Google Maps. This gave us what I call a penetration Index. How many sales were clustered within a given zip code and then drilled down further to find the carrier route Using the USPS supplied tools. From there we cross-referenced the data with census information to determine income levels, ethnic makeup, and other determining demographics. The resulting list of carrier routes gave us more than 50,000 households that were likely customers. That is, they resembled the company’s customers demographically.

As a result of applying conversation marketing techniques offline, we generate about an 8% response rate on that mailing across all stores. The most well established (oldest) stores did better than the newer stores, but we averaged increased walk in traffic (x2), and increased applications (x3). In fact, applications achieved record levels at several of the stores.

So what made the difference? EDDM is certainly a good product, very affordable and with a high rate of return on investment. I believe that the real difference is in the targeted approach, however. Applying Conversation Marketing methods to off-line advertising opportunities enhances the result many times over.