The Perfect Marketing Plan in Seven Easy Steps


My all time favorite marketing strategy is Marketing Lagniappe  and I want to share with you an extremely clever strategy and story about a commercial real estate mortgage broker  who integrated clever lagniappe tied into a lumpy mail strategy, which when understood clearly is actually a very important lesson in full funnel engagement with content marketing as well.

To bring you up to speed, Marketing Lagniappe is defined by Stan Phelps, the guy who wrote the book on the strategy as…

Giving Little Unexpected Extras (GLUE) to drive differentiation, improve retention, and promote positive word of mouth. “

These little extras send the message that you care enough to go above and beyond what’s required to meet and exceed your customers needs. Simply put, It shows YOU CARE!

Lumpy mail is a direct mail strategy where you include an odd shape piece of mail in your direct mail strategy to force the recipient to recognize and open it. As Gary Halbert explained, “People sort their mail into groups of importance. You want your mail to be shaped oddly enough that it can’t be placed on the bottom of the pile but rather rests on the top.”

If you read through the lumpy or 3d mail swipe files you will see that they always cleverly tie their message into the direct mail piece, and tie multiple pieces in a direct mail sequence to each other. For example, if you sent out two letters that were ignored, you can send the third in a little plastic garbage can, just slap postage right on the can, and stuff the third letter crumbled up inside, and mail it with a message along the lines of, ” You threw out my last two letters so I figured I would save you the trouble.”

I once received a direct mail piece with an actual bullet in it from Dan Kennedy with a letter that stated, “You are probably wondering why we sent you this bullet, it’s because if you miss this opportunity you will be shooting yourself in the foot…”

On to content marketing and full funnel engagement, the trick is to fully understand the journey your customer takes from when they first start thinking about solving the problem you solve up until after they buy, and engage them with relevant and helpful content they cant get anywhere else to help them along the way.

“Those Who Don’t Engage Customers At The Top of The Funnel, Won’t Be Able To  Afford Advertising At The Bottom of The Funnel!” 


So, back to our story, this fellow Al Williams wrote a guest chapter in Dan Kennedy’s book No B.S. Direct Marketing, which for future reference and a future post is  a strategy that produces the highest quality traffic possible…Even better than search traffic with high commercial intent.

Anyway, Al Williams is a commercial real estate mortgage broker who created a seven step strategy for engaging prospects with clever lagniappe tied nicely into a lumpy mail strategy, engaging his customers throughout their sales cycle, and not only differentiating himself, but also certainly driving word of mouth.

Step 1: The Flashlight Letter


Within a day or two of someone submitting a loan application they would send them in the mail a Mag-Lite flashlight engraved with their brand name and a message that says, “Congratulations, You’ve Seen The Light.”  The letter includes an outline of everything the customer can expect from Al in terms of efficiency and communication. The letter of course includes  a big hand written thank you for choosing us note.

Step 2: The Clock Letter


A big piece of the puzzle with a loan application is the importance that the borrower provides all the information they need in a timely fashion. This mailing was sent to both the borrower and the real estate brokers including a round desk clock, again with the company name and phone number engraved on it, along with a $5.00 starbucks gift card, with another thank you letter mentioned that the loan processor already requested a list of items needed from them, and a clock to let them know that time is important to the transaction, and saying, we value your time and ours. The letter also includes a headline that states, “Sit Back, Relax, and Have a Latte on Us!” The letter ends by suggesting that the loan process will be as painless as possible, but just in case it gets stressful, use the starbucks gift card to enjoy a a nice soothing latte on them. 

Step 3: The “StressCheck Ruler” Letter


The next step in the loan process is the file gets shipped to the underwriting department. The day the file leaves the office to the banks underwriting department, another starbucks card is sent out to the customer, pointing out this milestone in the process. The letter includes a headline that states, “Warning-Waiting for formal loan approval may be stressful!” This of course is important insight into the mindset of the borrower as they eagerly await approval. The letter includes a little plastic ruler that changes colors based on your stress level when you press your thumb on it. The letter continues, “Stress Relief Enclosed!”  encouraging the customer to get another latte on them.

Step 4: The Portfolio Pouch Letter


The most enjoyable part of this process is delivering the good news that the loan has been approved. Immediately upon approval they would send the customer another gift with a letter congratulating them. The gift is a leather pouch with the company info and logo on it, with the letter encouraging the borrower to store the onslaught of paperwork coming his way in the pouch as they move through the process to closing.

Step 5: The Personalized Thank-You Card


The day after a loan closes a personalized thank you card is sent to everyone involved in the deal including the brokers, lawyers, borrower, etc… and mentions they should keep their eye on the mail for another gift they will be receiving from them shortly.

Step 6: The Gift Basket


Within a week of the loan closing they send a gift basket of fruit, cheeses, wines, etc… and a small card thanking them again.

Step 7: The Testimonial Request Letter


About two to three days after they get the gift basket, a letter goes out to the borrower and agents encouraging them to write a testimonial letter for them. Al writes, “To make it as easy for them to respond as possible, we outline the type of questions that we would like them to address in their letters AND provide them with a stamped and addressed envelope in which to mail the letter back in. Also included with the letter is another starbucks gift card as a token of appreciation for them taking the time to forward their comments to us and also make sure to mention the card is theirs to use even if they don’t respond to our request. These letters produce a 50% conversion rate, and produces over 100 testimonials a year.”

If this strategy seems too expensive to implement, if you do the math, they spend roughly $125 including postage to implement this entire strategy. In commercial real estate, a closed customer can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, so investing a few hundred bucks should be a no brainer.

This strategy has so many brilliant nuances in it I don’t have time to enumerate them, but needless to say it is a brilliant strategy well worth implementing.

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, if you can map out a sales process and surprise and delight customers along the way, you will rise to the top very quickly!

Good Luck! 

About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


  1. Hi David,
    Came here after reading a comment of yours on HN, and am glad I did. This is a very interesting strategy. Do you think ( or know if anyone has tried to) it could be applied in the software startup world?

    • David Melamed says


      Glad you like my blog. This strategy can definitely be adapted to Software startup sales, but the implementation might be different.
      Before I get to how to do it, remember two key things. 1. surprise your customers with unexpected gifts, even something as small as a box of mike and ikes, or a starbucks gift card… Also, never underestimate the the value of personalized, hand written, thoughtful thank you notes. They work wonders.
      Finally, make sure to ask for referrals and testimonials from everyone who likes you and your product.

      First, you need to know your numbers. How much money can you invest in acquiring a new customer, and how many referrals come from satisfied customers…
      In fact, some people say there is no such thing as meeting a clients expectations. you either exceed them or fall short… so always try to exceed their expectations.

      The first step is mapping out the customer journey as best as you can. IF there are different types of customers, create personas representing the most common or highest value prospects and map out their customer journey. This journey starts from when they realize they have a problem to solve or an itch to scratch, all the way until they purchase a solution to their problem.
      Once you know their journey, you can start empathizing with their needs and desires, and better understand what emotions drive them. Once you have that figured out, you can find milestones in the sales funnel or process and engage them each step of the way.. If you genuinely care about solving their problem, you should easily be able to figure out how to best relate to them, empathize with them, and ultimately win them over.

      Two last points to keep in mind. 1. The sale is made or lost long before you start closing. 2. If you lose a customer on price, you lost them long beforehand.

      Good luck.

  2. “You are probably wondering why we sent you this bullet, it’s because if you miss this opportunity you will be shooting yourself in the foot…” This had me laughing, but it would have honestly gotten my interest if it was something I got in the mail. It actually reminds me a little of the time I was shopping and someone getting donations for a charity called out to me about getting five minutes of their time if they could guess what coffee I was drinking from Starbucks. I was actually drinking a chai tea latte so I agreed, thinking he wouldn’t guess (and I seriously hate coffee) but one of them did. Usually I try and avoid these people as much as possible but they had really humored me so I gave them my time and even did end up donating a little. It’s not exactly the same as the suggestions you gave, but it had the same effect on me that they would have.

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