Once we had our greeting cards and wrapping paper in the production phase, we started focusing on marketing. The first step we took was compiling a list of stores we wanted to target with our marketing campaign. The organizers of the Stationery Show offer a list of last year’s show attendees that you can buy according to category (gift shop, stationery store, online retailer, etc.), however you don’t get a physical copy of the list. This makes sense for the show organizers, since they obviously want you to keep buying their list each year, but it didn’t make much sense for us. We wouldn’t know who our mailing was sent to, so we wouldn’t know whether or not they visited our booth, and therefore wouldn’t know how successful our campaign was in generating visits and orders.
So we, like many of the other first-time exhibitors we spoke with, compiled our own list. It seems that we all went about this in a similar way, by first listing the stores we knew and liked in our own area, then asking family and friends to recommend stores in their respective areas, and then researching what stores our competitors were in. This approach definitely takes a lot more time and effort than just buying the NSS list, but in the end you have a much more refined list of contacts.
The next step was deciding what exactly to send to this list of stores, and the quantity. We decided even though it would be a little more expensive, we needed to send a physical sample of our product to potential stores. So we chose two card designs, 150 of each, to send out. We fed all the cards through my desktop printer, and printed a little blurb about our company, our product offering, the show discount we were offering (more about that in the next post!), and of course our booth number.
The thing to keep in mind with a direct mailing is that the response rate can be anywhere from .5 to 2%, and anything above 1% is considered a successful campaign! So from the 300 cards we sent out, a response of 3-6 stores would be considered a success.
We got one order right after sending out the mailing, and one buyer made an appointment to meet with us at the show. Other than that, we didn’t get much feedback before the show, and were feeling pretty disappointed. However, after the show, we realized that 85% of the orders we received were from people who received a card, and 25% of the people who visited our booth were people who received a card. Not as bad as we thought!
We were afraid we had spent too much money on the mailing, but it definitely paid for itself through the orders and visits we received. I think the more targeted your list of contacts, and the higher the quality of your mailing, the better your response rate will be.