Kim Gans enjoyed six years of success baking cookies at her bakery, Sweet Flour Bake Shop in Toronto’s Bloor West Village. While she enjoyed interacting with her customers, her online marketing efforts were eclipsing storefront sales, so she decided to make a tough call to close the storefront and switch to a business model that focused on online sales, catering, and third-party sales.
“Our storefront was famous for featuring two-minute cookies that we could offer hot and on the spot,” says Gans. “But our real brand was providing a baked good that would allow you to enjoy a simple moment with yourself and friends. That includes cookies, cupcakes, and bars of every iteration, including holiday varieties.”
Changing your business means changing tools
Rising rents accelerated the move to a much larger commercial kitchen in 2012, and the closure of the retail store in October 2015. While the company continued its two-minute cookie tradition in pop-up stores, Gans used a two-pronged approach to maintain a close connection with customers and potential customers. A sophisticated social media presence satisfied one side of the equation, while direct mail promotions through Canada Post Snap Admail — an online tool that provides demographic targeting in unaddressed mail — satisfied the other.
An accessible, targeted approach
“We know who our customers are, so we try to find neighbourhoods that have demographic profiles similar to those of existing customers,” says Gans. “We offer a premium product, and we tend to do better with customers who are better educated, have families, and who are closest to our production kitchen, where our brand awareness is greatest and where it will be easiest to convert them to delivery. What’s beautiful about Snap Admail is that it allows you to budget to a super-narrow area within a few blocks of where you want to be, and provides you with rich information that you wouldn’t traditionally be able to access outside of using an agency.”
A recent study, conducted by Harris/Decima, found 67% of consumers will read direct mail delivered to their homes. A study by Swiss Post shows receiving direct mail inspires consumer action — 64% of recipients followed up by visiting a website, and 47% visited a store.
Fitting into a digital strategy
Gans says a combination of social media and direct mail, prior to major holidays, helps prime customers to make advance orders. She tracks the success of each mailing by including different offers or promotion codes unique to each campaign.
“We’re still very much a small company. Traditionally, small companies don’t have unlimited marketing budgets,” says Gans. “This is one tactic that’s within easy reach of a small business. However, you can’t measure return on investment in one mail campaign. It takes time to build a relationship across several campaigns. You have to look at the lifetime value of converting a prospect into a regular customer.”
Snap Admail — a user’s guide
Launched by Canada Post in 2014, Snap Admail is an online tool that lets businesses achieve demographic targeting with unaddressed mail. Customers can create a mail campaign from scratch by targeting desired neighbourhoods, designing a postcard or flyer, then launching the campaign from within the tool. While Snap Admail offers a predesigned template for mailings, about half of users develop and submit their own creative for printing. Snap Admail orders start at 500 mail pieces, with unit price reductions as the scope of the campaign increases.
“The tool lets you plan a campaign around a geography as specific as a letter carrier’s route,” says Omar Rajani, Senior Manager, Small and Medium Business Marketing at Canada Post. “You can run target addresses through key demographic filters, like age and income, and even some granular filters, like presence of children and building type. All of this creates a heat map of your target area.”
He says the mailers that generate the greatest success are those offering customers a discount or coupon.
“Getting your message into your customers’ hands is step one,” he says. “But giving them a coupon with an offer is a great vehicle to convert and complete the purchasing pathway.