When looking for business in your area, start with mailshots. You can use a combination of postcards, letters and emails.
Postcards are effective, because they can attract more attention, but can be more time consuming. They can be addressed by hand, unless you can get hold of good address labels. Don’t be distracted by the need to get all set up with a database and a pc and labels; better to get stuck in by writing out a few hundred addresses by hand. If you are already equipped with the right stuff on your pc, all well and good.
Your postcard can say something simple like this:
are a same day courier company offering direct deliveries locally and all over the country. We have smart and professional couriers operating in and throughout the UK right now.
Friendly people, sensible prices. For further details call …
You can get these printed very cheaply using an on-line printer, or even print them out on your home pc on card, and trimming them with an office guillotine. Put a simple logo, or black and white photo, on the front. If it’s a photo, make sure it’s a good one, with nothing embarrassing in the background. Modern offices on your local trading estate are a good background.
(You can also use the same format for an email shot. Make sure you’re familiar with any anti-spam regulations which apply, though these are quite slack in the UK).
These postcards and emails are a cheap way to:
Establish your business’ brand name and logo in your area.
Give the relevant phone number for enquiring or booking jobs on a card which can easily be attached to an office noticeboard.
Here are three suggestions on distributing the postcards:
Send off about 100 in one go in the mail. Post them on a Wednesday, so they arrive towards the end of the working week, when demand for couriers is higher.
Send your emails out the next day, if you have the relevant email addresses.
Keep a file of who you have sent them to. Repeat to the same addresses one month later. This will jog the potential customer’s memory and help create awareness of the presence of a your business operation in their area.
You can then phone each one to try to get an appointment. Getting an appointment is always easier when the target has heard of you. The postcards and the follow-up emails help with this. Don’t say you’re new; it’s the last thing they want to hear. Local is what they want to hear.
The reason these cards, emails and phone calls work is simple. Eventually, almost everyone wants to change courier. This might be because they have fallen out with their existing supplier, or because their needs have changed, or because staff have changed, or one of many other reasons. You just have to be there for them, and be known to them and liked by them when this happens. Don’t expect them to change suppliers if they are completely happy. The best you can hope for is to be put on their reserve list.
To get an appointment, you have to phone them as well as sending them cards. Don’t kid yourself; just sending out any kind of mailshot on its own doesn’t achieve anything. So you have to phone them.
Phoning them means you may have to be rejected 100’s of times until you get one result. Eventually someone will say “You’ve called at just the right time, as we’re looking to change our courier”. No rejections, no result. So don’t see rejection as a reason to stop phoning. Every rejection is one step closer to success. You may have to phone a prospect once every two months for a year before you get any interest from them.
If you have some couriers working for you already, give extra postcards to your couriers to distribute. If work is slack, it is easy to persuade couriers to do simple selling in between collecting and delivering. Explain the target markets to them, though they will probably know already, and ask them to bring you details of any firms they visit who sound interested. Add these details to your phoning list.
Hand them out yourself, either on your delivery rounds, or by just visiting local industrial estates and offices and “carding up”, ie making sure that every receptionist or transport manager has one of your cards. Walking around your local industrial estates, handing out cards and making friends with people, is likely to be the single most effective use of your sales time.
If you’re just starting out, obviously you should strictly and carefully avoid directly targeting the customers of any courier business who currently gives you work. This kind of thing gets you a bad name, and will come back to bite you in the future. It’s generally important that your competitors respect you, as customers often listen to what they say about you.
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