"Win a free cruise". . ."Lock in this low rate". . ."Here's today's lunch specials". . . these are just some of the offers that come across the fax machine. Many marketers fax advertisements to reach out to existing and prospective clients.
Fax marketing can take the same approach as telemarketing, sending out a large number of ads to fax machines in a given market in hopes of finding clients. In other cases, businesses use fax marketing to maintain and strengthen existing relationships with their clients.
While at one time a leading advertising approach, fax marketing services are becoming old hat in many ways, as fax technology gives way to newer forms of digital communication.
Newer approaches, such as e-mail marketing, are picking up where fax marketing left off. E-mail marketing offers additional avenues of placing a business pitch in front of prospective customers in better, faster and cheaper ways.
Often, the recipients of fax marketing pitches look at such ads as an irritant, tossing them into the trash without a second thought, or even a glance.
The users of fax marketing services also must make sure they don't run afoul of fax marketing laws, which mirror anti-telemarketing "no call" legislation and prohibit sending unsolicited fax advertisements to numbers registered with the Fax Preference Service.
Fax marketing, while an older strategy, still remains in use, however, and provides opportunities that other approaches can't. In some limited cases, it remains a viable method of advertising, both on a mass and targeted basis.
What are the specific benefits of fax marketing? How do the laws govern fax marketing? Read on to find out.
Benefits of Fax Marketing
Fax marketing may be old, but it's still relevant if used in the correct way. Even though the Internet and e-mail have become the top form of instant business communication, the fax machine and fax marketing services continue to hold their own because of its somewhat low-tech, "old school" ease of use.
Fax marketing has several benefits, including cost, versatility and personalization. For instance, sending a single fax may be free or only cost pennies (if it's a local telephone call), as opposed to 42 cents for a first class stamp. Even many long-distance fax calls can be completed cheaper than traditional direct mail.
Fax machines are also versatile, making it easy to send hard copies of existing materials, such as brochures, ads, pamphlets and other printed material. Despite our high-tech advances, many business people are more comfortable with this hard copy, tactile approach. Fax machines have been a normal part of business for decades, and some tend to trust such an old friend more than new technology. And fax machines have improved over the years, with some offering 200 dpi (dots per inch) resolution or higher.
That personalized touch is also easier to convey with fax marketing. Instead of receiving an e-mail -- with its typed messages -- a fax can easily send a hand-written note to a client or potential customer, adding a human touch to the message.
Besides these highly personalized approaches, fax marketing can cover wide areas, as well. If you don't have time to send a large number of faxes, fax marketing services can help. These companies have the machine and data handling capacities to handle big jobs and hiring one can free you up for other business tasks. Some will send out faxes for as low as 20 cents each [source: Evan Carmichael].
As always, you'll want to make sure to abide by fax marketing laws before embarking on a fax marketing campaign. Hiring a reputable fax marketing service can be a good way to ensure such laws are followed.
But what laws govern fax marketing? Check out the next page to find out.
Laws Restricting Fax Marketing
If you want to use fax marketing for your business, you'll need to educate yourself on the laws restricting this practice. These laws have expanded in recent years as a result of public outcry over telemarketing in general, the growth of privacy and solicitation laws and advertising regulations. Not adhering to these laws will not only open you to sanctions from law enforcement, but could also risk offending your potential customers.
Unmitigated fax marketing campaign onslaughts have been compared to e-mail SPAM barrages. They clog up a communication systems and make it difficult for their owners to use the system for its intended purpose. It's easy to see how this could breed ill will among the public.
At the federal level, many restrictions are written into The Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In general, the law prohibits business from using the fax machine to advertise products and services. The law includes an exception to this prohibition, however, in cases where a prior or existing relationship has existed. Such a relationship -- sometimes called an "existing business relationship" or "EBR" -- isn't restricted only to money changing hands. It can include an inquiry, application, purchase or other transactions or contact.
The Junk Fax Protection Act contains parameters governing how businesses send even routine faxes to customers. "Junk" faxes are defined as any message containing advertisements of goods or services. Along with requiring an EBR, the law requires fax cover sheets to include an "opt out" box that customers can use to terminate the EBR and thereby take them off the fax list.
These federal laws apply to both in-state and out-of-state faxes, but are subject to state laws. Many states have their own laws governing telemarketing and fax marketing. Many are based on the federal law, but not all include the same exception for existing relationships. Before embarking on a fax marketing campaign, check your state laws to make sure where you stand.
For lots more information about fax marketing and related fax topics, check out the links on the next page.