Why Not Use the Humble Fax in Your Advertising Strategy?

When my daughter complained recently about the prohibitive cost of news media advertising, we had a discussion about the ways in which she could sell her range of body products (hand creams, lip balms etc). I explained to her that huge firms like K Mart wouldn't spend millions of dollars annually for advertising if it wasn't necessary. But every week, a K Mart catalogue arrives in our mail box. Every week, like clockwork, ads appear on television for K Mart specials ... there are always specials.

All of us in business, whatever our size, need to have an effective, efficient advertising strategy. If you can afford an all bells and whistles television advert and run it in prime time like K Mart, that's great. Most of us however, can't afford that type of advertising and have to find alternatives that are cheap, but still bring home the bacon.

A few years ago email looked like being a cure-all for those of us without huge budgets. Unfortunately, spammers killed the golden goose; it is now only effective for selling to those who have agreed to receive our messages. And even then, there's no guarantee that the messages we send will not be deleted by overactive spam filters long before they reach their intended destination. Adding to our misery is the anti-spam legislation in the US, AUS and various other countries that makes the task of legitimate marketers unnecessarily difficult when it comes to email marketing.

Fortunately, the "Spam Act 2003", at least in Australia doesn't outlaw sending commercial fax messages*. So suddenly, the fax has fallen back into favour because it has several additional advantages:

  • It's cheap. Not as cheap as email and some pay-for-click advertising, but much cheaper than advertising in news media.
  • You can target specific markets
  • You can send as many pages as you like (but don't irritate recipients)
  • It's quick and simple
  • You don't need a fax machine
  • While it's true recipients can discard faxes, most arrive and at least have a chance of being read
  • You don't have brochures left over when a product or price changes

    There are many service providers out there in cyberspace who provide a comprehensive faxing service. I pay my provider up front and can do a broadcast message to as many fax numbers as I please by clicking one button ... Send! When the broadcast has finished I receive an email message telling me how many were successful and unsuccessful and the cost for the transmissions. It beats hell out of doing it manually. The last transmission I sent involved 58 destinations that cost me $10.44 AU or $0.18 per A4 page. Of the 58 sent, all arrived.

    Here's how I run my campaigns.

    First I decide on a strategy eg, the first part of my current strategy targets real estate agents across the Australian continent to whom I'm selling a marketing package. I look up real estate firms using the Google search engine and almost without exception, each agency is listed with phone and fax numbers. I use a great little program called Web Data Extractor to extract the fax numbers from each of the addresses. It takes a couple of minutes to collect them and save them in a data file. When I import the data file into the list management section of my fax service provider, I'm ready to broadcast.

    Automatically extracting fax numbers in Australia, unlike extracting URLs is not illegal.

    After the broadcast, sales and queries flow in up to a week or so later. So far, sales have far exceeded the expense for faxing and I've just completed faxing to real estate agencies in one Australian State. There are still thousands more to go in the remaining five States and two Territories.

    My sales message consists of a standard A4 page that I created and saved as an Adobe PDF file.

    It is worth noting that many target markets do not have their fax numbers displayed on the Internet. This being the case, do a little research as you design your strategy to determine whether getting fax numbers will be problematical. If so, find another target market. Once you've found one with fax numbers, the rest is fairly easy, provided your products or services fit their range of needs.

    Another benefit I receive from the fax provider I use is a free fax number whereby people can fax me and the fax arrives as an email. This suits me perfectly as I only print those faxes for which I need a hardcopy. The rest I file in a relevant folder on my hard drive.

    You should now be thinking about some opportunities to use broadcast faxing in your business. If you're in doubt, spend a few bucks to give faxing a test run. If it works as well for you as it does me, I'm sure you'll take to it like a duck to water.

    Here's to many successful fax campaigns.

    * - You need to check out the spam laws in your own country before embarking on a fax advertising campaign

    Published June 2005. Copyright Robin Henry 2005.

    Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet marketer whose firm, Desert Wave Enterprises, helps individuals and businesses improve their performance by using smart processes, smart technology and personal development. He has a number of tertiary qualifications including a Master of Education degree majoring in education technology and online learning. He lives at Alice Springs In Central Australia. Visit Desert Wave Enterprises

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