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Startups Authors: Dan Blacharski, Harry Trott, Liz McMillan, Rolando Kahn, Jnan Dash

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How To Reach Out To Businesses Over Fax

Top 10 Fax Marketing Tips

Marketing by fax is very similar to any other form of marketing in some ways.  It is very different in other ways.  It is similar to email in that you'll get into legal trouble by hitting on strangers, but it is different in that you can get their attention much easier. Today if you are waiting for a fax, it's just as likely to show up in your email in-basket as on a "telex" machine. In fact, there's pretty stiff competition between the top internet fax services for your business.

Here are some top tips to fax market like a pro.

Call to action

Before designing your fax, before writing the headline, define the exact action you want recipients to take.  "Pick up the phone and call" is not exact.  Why would they call?  What do you want them to say or ask when they call?  Know the exact action you want them to take, then design and write your fax to achieve that goal. Make the call to action really simple.  Don't give two or three options.  Make the phone number big and bold, so they can't miss it.  Give them a reason to call immediately.  A one-day sale.  They'll lose their reserved V.I.P. seating.  The price is going up tomorrow.  Make them feel the urgency.

Choose your message carefully

Some messages that work well by fax:

 

  • Event reminders or notices
  • This week's sale
  • New product arrived
  • A free offer

 

Make your title clear and laser-focused

If you've spent any time in newsrooms, watching press releases come in by fax, you would see how little attention they each get.  If a reporter can't instantly see the value, into the round file it goes. Journalists are busy.  So is everybody else.  Your headline has to communicate value.  Your first paragraph has to explain what it's all about, and make it sound good.  Otherwise, you've lost your prospects.

Personalize it

Some things just can't be done to scale.   And some products are worth promoting only if you can do it to scale.  But if you have a high-value product and a short list of targets, you have a golden opportunity.  Include a hand-written note to the target.  Watch your conversion rate skyrocket overnight. Personalizing is almost too obvious, as you should never fax to somebody you don't already know in some way.  In the United States, there are strict laws against fax spam; you have to have some existing business relationship.  Here is a good summary of the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 (but don't take a Wikipedia article as legal advice). Since you know who these people are, that's an advantage in your favor.  A hand-written note trumps block text any time. That's something you can't do by email!

P.S.

Just as with email marketing, online sales pages and direct marketing, it's all about the P.S. That's the final push to pick up the phone and call.

Design like a billboard

Sure, you can fill the page with tons of information that looks like a mess.  I've seen faxes like that.  Yuck.  Into the round file it goes. Or, you can design your fax sheet like a billboard.  Include just enough information for your target to pick up the phone to find out more.

Like a zebra

Use black and white.  Colors will show up as gray, and gray doesn't show up that well.  Stick to simple lines, rather than complex images that take longer to print and can get easily distorted. Make sure to be black stripes on a white zebra, not white stripes on a black zebra. Black zebras annoy their recipients by using up so much of their ink.  Plus the fax takes longer to transmit, and is not necessarily any clearer.

The more white space the better.

Try to design your fax to look best in regular resolution.  Fine is finer, to be sure, but it takes twice as long to deliver.

Simple fonts

Choose non-serif fonts that will display well even if print quality is not ideal.  And make sure they are big enough.  No smaller than 12 point Arial, for example.

No cover letter

Yes, business faxes always have a cover letter, but marketing faxes don't.  Do not add anything that will distract from your message.  In fact, stick to a single page.  It's a flyer.  Don't get tempted into adding a page.  Stick to one.  One!

Prepare a series of fax messages

Send a new fax each day, carefully planning them at first to arouse interest.  Then to inform just a little and finally to provide social proof - testimonials, and finally a call to action with an offer they can't refuse.

Time your delivery

Late in the day doesn't usually work, because most people are already swamped by them.  Early morning is usually best. If you do it right, you can grab attention much better than with email.  A fax has a look, a layout.  It just looks more professional.  In many cases, the fax will be received printed on a sheet of paper. It is much less likely to be deleted than an email. And while the competition is duking it out by email, you can walk through the open back door with your faxing.

More Stories By Harry Trott

Harry Trott is an IT consultant from Perth, WA. He is currently working on a long term project in Bangalore, India. Harry has over 7 years of work experience on cloud and networking based projects. He is also working on a SaaS based startup which is currently in stealth mode.