RE: Mailing critique
1. �You can now obtain the comprehensive services of a licensed designer for your interior design needs� is a weak lead for several reasons.
2. To begin with, there is no benefit. You do not explain WHY it is advantageous to hire a designer even though most people do their own interior decorating. So if I have never considered hiring a pro, you have given me no reason to do so now.
3. The fact that I can �now obtain the services� is of no interest. I could ALWAYS obtain such services just by looking in the Yellow Pages. You are not offering me anything new or exciting, or that I thought was exclusive and beyond my reach or knowledge.
4. A better approach might be to overcome the myth that interior decorators are for the rich only and beyond the reach of the people you are mailing to. For instance: �Did you know that, for a limited time, you can now have your home�s interior design needs assessed by a top professional designer -- absolutely FREE?� This would work if your initial consultation is free.
5. A similar approach: �Did you know that you can now hire a top interior designer to make your home beautiful, for much less than you would ever have thought possible?� This could explain how the fees are based on individual needs, or how you charge a nominal fee for actual design services, because you make your money on the furniture and art you sell.
6. The rest of the first paragraph is weak because it is all about you and your firm, and not at all about the client or her home. The prospect is interested in making her dreams of a stunning home come true, not �uncompromising quality� and other cliches. You must rewrite the lead to focus on the prospect -- her dreams, desired, fears, and needs -- and not you, your company, your 29 years, your innovation. For instance: �Have you ever walked into someone�s home -- and become instantly awed by the grandeur, scope, and beauty? And have you ever wished people had the same reaction when walking into YOUR home? Well, you can make that dream come true -- for a tiny fraction of what you think it would cost....� (That is not copy,� just an example of a tone and direction.)
7. The second paragraph is great and would tie in nicely with suggested lead #5 above. I think you could start with lead #5, then go to paragraph #2 and build on it for a very effective letter.
8. Paragraph #3 is adapted from my copywriting letter which works great for copywriting but, I think, is not applicable to your business. Advertising is a deadline-oriented business with my clients always on deadlines for ad insertions and mailings. I do not think interior design is similarly time-pressured (it is rarely urgent) and therefore this paragraph is not applicable. Delete.
9. I would replace the current paragraph #3 with a description of the free initial consultation, making it sound really valuable and helpful. Tell the reader that whether she uses you or not, she will get some inspiration and ideas during this session that she can use ... and that it is FREE, with no obligation or sales pressure of any kind. Make it seem really valuable, so that I would want to schedule it even if I am not sure I want to go ahead and hire you.
10. Add a business reply card the prospect can send back and ask you to call her to arrange the initial consultation.
11. Your 2-page profile has 3 nice photos. If you enclose it with the letter (optional, in my opinion), you might consider this outer envelope teaser: �FREE interior design ideas enclosed for your review.�
12. I actually think you do NOT need to include this and instead should offer an expanded version to people who respond to your mailing. See point #16 below.
13. The description of you and your services in the profile sheet are adequate, although they could be rewritten to be stronger and you should proofread to eliminate the typos. The headings (Introduction, Objectives, Conclusion) sound like a term paper or lab report, not a sales piece, and could be much stronger. You can expand this existing 2-page profile into a 4-page guide using the suggestions in points #16-17 below.
14. Another problem: I think a big reason you are getting a low response to your mailing is that very few people are actually at the stage where they are thinking seriously of redecorating when your letter reaches them.
15. Therefore your mailing should have both a �hard� and �soft� offer. The �hard� offer is the meeting -- a free initial consultation -- which only serious and somewhat serious prospects will spend the time on.
16. What about people who might want your services down the road but are not ready to sit down with a designer now? You need something to get them to respond. You can offer a more detailed color brochure with more photos of your work. Give it a value added title like �Design Ideas for Gracious Living.� Put captions that highlight the unique design idea in each job.
17. Add some copy that is not just about your firm but that presents your design approach and philosophy. Break it up into 10 or so numbered points, and write it in a style that one would see in a home magazine article. Title the list �10 Great Design Tips for Your Home.�
18. Most people are clueless about how to furnish or arrange furnishing and artwork in a room. They don�t know how to get the look they want, and many cannot even say what that look is without your help. They do not understand that a designer can do anything from completely redecorating a home or room, to rearranging existing furniture, to working with an architect to design a new home. Offer to help them solve these problems and they will be interested.
19. Add a P.S. in the letter that encourages the reader to send for this brochure or guide. Describe its contents -- the photos (before and after preferable), the useful advice. Offer a free copy. Urge them to get it �even if you�re not now thinking about redecorating or interior design now.��
20. If you do this, the reply card should have two boxes: �[ ] Call me to arrange a free initial consultation,� �[ ] Please send me your FREE 10 Design Ideas for Gracious Living guide with color photos and design tips.�
21. Fern mentioned that you get most of your business from referrals and that you are concerned that this letter may not work. I think you will maximize your response by following the advice above, especially points #19 and 20.
22. However, you might want to develop a program of referral marketing. For example, make up certificates good for a free initial consultation. Give the certificates a cash value (e.g., $100). Send a small supply of certificates to architects, builders, contractors, carpenters, and other professionals who serve the same markets you do. Encourage them to give the certificates to their customers as a valuable free gift.
23. The customer gets a free design consultation worth $100. The professional making the referral builds goodwill by giving their customer a valuable free gift that costs them nothing. You can further encourage referrals by offering a small gift, such as dinner for two in a great restaurant in your area, as a thank-you for all referrals that turn into work for you.
24. You might also consider creating a small quarterly newsletter (printed or online) that you send to prospects who have inquired but not yet bought. That way, when they ARE ready to talk to a designer, they have top-of-mind awareness of you and your firm. A quarterly postcard mailing would work just as well.