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A Direct Hit

Using direct mail to promote your business from home.

Georganne Fiumara rented her first post-office box on a rainy day 14 years ago, and has received more than 250,000 letters since then. In 1983, Fiumara created Mothers' Home Business Network, a national networking organization for work-at-home mothers. She believes direct mail is a tried and true marketing method, enhanced by technological advances that allow you to build your business quicker and more extensively than ever before.

In his book, Mail Order Selling (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945), Irving Burstiner, Ph.D, a marketing and business management professor at Baruch College in New York City, cites the advantages of using direct mail to promote your homebased business. They are:

  • Selectivity--the ability to send your advertising only to people and organizations who can use and pay for your product or service.

  • Flexibility--the freedom to use either the simplest or the most elaborate presentation, ranging from a single-sheet mailer to an entire package, and the flexibility to test all sorts of minor changes in your mailing pieces.

  • Control--unlike the random placement of a newspaper ad, your mailer stands alone, and you have room to tell the entire story with illustrations, testimonials and guarantees.

  • Knowledge of results--by coding every mailing, you can identify the source of each order as it arrives.

The one drawback all experts cite, however, is cost, particularly in light of rising postal rates. The following suggestions will help you capitalize on the advantages and offset the costs of using direct mail to build your own homebased business.

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This article was originally published in the August 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Direct Hit.

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