Self Storage University Podcast: Episode 95

Dare To Be Different In Direct Mail

One great way to find a self-storage facility to buy is a simple direct mail piece. But with so much mail landing in mailboxes across America, how can you stand out from the pack? On this Self-Storage University podcast we’re going to explore some of the options and theory behind making your direct mail piece a more effective tool.

Episode 95: Dare To Be Different In Direct Mail Transcript

There are many ways to find a self storage facility to buy. You've got brokers, you've got online listings, you have cold calling, but then another important tool in your arsenal is direct mail. So how do we stand out for the crowd with our direct mail, attack plan to find a self storage facility to buy? This is Frank Rolfe for the Self Storage University podcast. We're gonna talk about daring to be different in your direct mail. Let's first start off the conversation by noting that the success rate on a typical direct mail piece is merely 1%. Now, in almost everything else in life, if you fail 99% of the time you believe you're a failure. If you went and took a math test and you scored a 1%, well then you know you flunked. But in the direct mail portion of finding a self storage facility or any kind of direct mail, LL Bean catalog, it doesn't really matter, a 1% response rate is considered very, very good. That's kind of the gold standard of direct mail, that lowly 1%.

So what are some of the ways that you have a better shot of getting 1% response on your self storage mailer? Well, the first thing is the physicality. If you wanna stand out from the crowd with your direct mail piece, let's do things a little bigger than other people do. A lot of people like to send out postcards over letters. We found they're both effective, but postcards typically are more effective because many people can spot a direct mail piece and they'll throw it in the trash. Many moms and pops will not even open it up because they sense it is not being legitimate. But with a postcard, you don't open it up. It's already opened. It's right there in your face, and people who might toss the letter will still read the postcard if it's interesting and colorful enough to get their attention. And one good way to get their attention is to make it extra big. In today's direct mail world, all postcards are not the typical size of what they were all the way from about the 1920s on. Today you can get an even larger postcard. Of course, it's a little more expensive to do, but I know myself, when I get these larger postcards, I definitely am gonna take more note of them. I'm definitely gonna read them a little bit more.

So going with a different size than everyone else is using typically is a good idea. And often in this case, a bigger size will get more attention. Also be sure to use more color and graphics. When you do a direct mail print, it costs you the same. If I get a four color and I only use one of the four colors, I still pay just as much. So if you're gonna do color, let's use lots of color, because we are all like Pavlov's dog, we've been trained whenever we see lots of color to read it because we find it interesting and exciting. That's why most of the signage you see driving around America has lots of bright colors, reds and yellows and greens and purples and blues. Just because we know the human eye tends to look at colorful things more. If we went out bird watching, I'm certain you'd be looking for a cardinal or a blue jay or some other brightly colored bird over one that's just brown in appearance. So let's use more color and graphics on it.

Also, don't be afraid to tell more about your personal life in the direct mail piece, many times moms and pops are not just looking for a buyer for their storage facility, they're looking for somebody that they feel somehow personally connected to. Some minor items, for example, if you look like a friend of theirs from the olden days or their long lost cousin who died in the Korean War, that may definitely give you an advantage. And since we're only going for a 1% success ratio, you can go ahead and gamble. You can go ahead and dare to be different because if that person doesn't call you that might have called you, you're still probably gonna have maybe one that wasn't gonna call you call because your thing is more personalized. You could have your picture on there, or you could have your whole family's picture on there. I know someone who did a postcard with the whole family on a picnic cloth having a picnic, and it did very well for them. So don't hold back. Go ahead and get more involved in your direct mail piece, give it a little more personality.

Also, if you're in the military or law enforcement, wouldn't be bad to put those things on there. We all have an affinity as a nation these days after all kinds of trying conflicts to tend to want to give extra help to people who have served either in the military, law enforcement, fire, whatever the case may be. So if you fit that category, sure, put it on there. I can't see how it wouldn't help you out. Now also, you might wanna mix up your direct mail. Postcards are great and we feel postcards are more effective than writing a letter, but it doesn't hurt to also write the letter. You could do one direct mail piece of a postcard, but then you might want to change over after that and make the next one more of a personalized letter. If you're gonna do it in a letter format, you need to make sure it's probably personally written. Those are the only letters that get opened, are when mom and pops believe you actually wrote it yourself. If they think it's printed, then they just throw it in the trash, thinking it's just someone trying to hawk something. But if you personally wrote it, even though they don't know the topic, they tend to open it and read it 'cause it's just human nature.

Also, don't forget that the whole point of the direct mail piece is it's a tool to get your foot in the door. No one ever sent a direct mail piece and suddenly has someone call and say, "Okay, I'll sell it". Instead, you're just trying to start the conversation off. You're wanting them to respond, and then you can start talking to them and maybe they'd want to sell their self storage facility. But another good way to amplify your direct mail piece is to then do a cold call to the same person starting off with, "Just calling to follow up on that direct mail piece I sent you, just wanted to follow up on that letter, follow up on that postcard. What do you think? Would you be a player? Would you want to sell?" For many people, that makes it much easier to make that cold call because now it's not truly cold. You have a lead off in which it's not just your typical, "Hi, I wanna sell you something". In this case it's, "Hi, I wanted to follow up on something I sent you". It's a little more confusing. It makes you seem a lot more legitimate.

Also makes it feel, look like you put a lot more effort in. You're not just smiling and dialing, going down a long list of people, but instead you've actually taken some degree of effort and work before you've reached out to them. And many, many sellers will in fact appreciate that. Some of our best direct mail results have come from a direct mail piece that's followed up with cold calling. It just pretty much makes complete sense, why if you start off with the lead that you're following up on something that you mailed somebody, then in fact that would make them feel you're more legitimate and be more interested in it. The bottom line to it is that direct mail is the strangest thing. The failure rate is so staggeringly large, and because it is so large, you can dare to be different. You can stand out from the pack. If you do a direct mail piece and you don't hit the desired level of attention, then instead of saying, well, I must get more conservative; no, I would get a little less conservative and really start to get out there more with your personality, larger things, more colorful things, because again, when you're different, often you draw attention and attention in direct mail is a good thing.

This is Frank Rolfe, the Self Storage University podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.