Fax Machine

To many people, fax advertising may seem like an archaic form of advertising. So many people turn to other forms of media for their new entertainment and information about what to buy and what not to buy that receiving an ad via fax may be ineffective. For this very reason fax advertising must be made that much more outstanding to the average consumer when they walk by the fax machine.

When creating a fax advertisement it is important to always keep the customer in mind. Think of things that they would like to see, like pictures and words that will get their attention and come right off the page at them. Making sure that they are able to get there attention and at least read the advertisement is half the battle.

The next step in that strategy is to make sure that the fax advertisement has something that will keep them reading. Incentives are the golden rule for fax advertising. Without something that will keep the customer reading they are most likely going to take the advertisement out of the tray, grumble about it being a waste of their paper and then crumble it into a ball and throw it into the garbage. Everyone likes a deal whether it be a discount coupon or a new low rate the customer will want to see something being offered to them for the use of that valued ink and paper.

The final most important note about fax advertising is to make sure that they know how to contact you. Whether it be by phone, fax or website. They need to contact you to take advantage of that great deal that you are offering to them. It would be a complete travesty if they wanted to take up the incentive that was offered through the fax advertisement and then had no way to contact your business. That would be money down the tubes or just nonchalantly given to another competing business that did leave their contact information.

Fax advertising does not have to be a relic from the prehistoric era. There is still life in those fax machines and a great opportunity to spread the greatness of your business. It can be used to its full potential gaining business for your company by keeping customers on their toes so to speak.

No discussion on the fax would be complete without mentioning fax-broadcasting, which, by the mid 90's had became a mainstream tool of direct-response marketers.

Fax broadcasting involved the mass faxing of a direct-response advertisement, usually with a fax-back, lead generation form attached. The 'fax-ads' were sent to lists of targeted (and often untargeted) businesses. The method was most successfully used in Business to Business marketing.

In 1991, Canadian Benny Traub developed one of the first fax broadcasting technology platforms designed for enterprise level distribution. The platform consisted of computer hardware, faxing hardware, telephone lines and specialized software that itegrated the various bits of hardware and managed the distribution process. An administrator could initiate huge lists of fax numbers and schedule personalized fax messages to tens of thousands of businesses. It was entirely automated. Traub's advertising agency, Imagenation Media, used the platform extensively in its arsenol of inexpensive lead generation methods on behalf of his clients, which included the Canadian Federal Government and companies in the telecommunications industry.

Other than telco, the cost to distribute faxes was free, yet response levels were similar to direct mail. Cost-per-lead was lower than many other lead generation methods and clients flocked to Traub's company to take advantage of this new source of business development. Traub had discovered a gold-mine. Yet results were highly dependant upon the crafting of well sculpted direct-response messages. Traub's company employed sophisticated split-run testing, with a high level of accountability to determine best ROI, comparing response levels of various creatives before rolling out to entire markets. His campaigns were so successfuly that some of his clients kept the faxing going almost continuously, with Traub's creative team churning out and testing hundreds of creative treatments, with winning combinations of message and offers being rolled out to massive direct-response fax lists. Traub reported "tens of millions of dollars of business are being generated".

The word was out. The idea quickly caught on and within a few short years similar systems were being deployed across North America. Fax broadcasting as a lead gen tool became so extensive that laws were eventually enacted to limit when/how the fax machine could be used as a marketing tool.