Direct Marketing Systems For Business Success

If you are not getting the sales you want, effective direct marketing systems are probably not part of your marketing toolkit.

Marketing Effectiveness

Mass marketing methods used to work, but these days, traditional marketing to mass audiences is very wasteful. In his book, Permission Marketing, Seth Godin claims that, on average, we are subjected to around 3,000 marketing messages each day. The message we need to understand from this situation, as marketers, is that it is becoming far more difficult to get our message through to our market, because the clutter of marketing messages makes it almost impossible to attract attention.

With the effectiveness of mass marketing methods having deteriorated over the years to the point of relative ineffectiveness that they have now reached, the most important strategy for us in marketing has become identifying and targeting our most receptive audience. Marketing now needs to be up close and personal to be effective. It does not matter how good our message is and what media we use, if we are not directing our communication to someone who is desperately hungry for our product we stand little chance of success.

Target Market

Can you describe your ideal customer? To effectively target your customers you need to be able to describe the ideal customer in intimate detail. To more effectively communicate with your target market, you need to know the physical and geographic elements that describe your ideal customer, what makes them tick and why they like your product. Having identified our target market, we now need to find out how to communicate our message. This element has two aspects: what is our message and what media we use to deliver it.

Message

Our message to our market must achieve a five things:
1. Attract the attention of our target market by addressing a specific need
2. Present an attractive solution to satisfy the particular need
3. Present proof that our solution is the best
4. Create an urgency to seek the solution now, and
5. Motivate action to obtain the solution.

Our message need not necessarily be delivered in a single communication, although if it can be effectively done in one hit, only use one hit. However, for many products or services, a series of communications may be required to effectively deliver the message. Our direct marketing system is what we need to design to deliver our message appropriately. Our direct marketing system will comprise as many steps and methods as we need to work our way through these five stages of acceptance.

Our initial direct marketing messages must be directed towards generating leads by attracting the attention of the people in our market who have the need our product addresses. It will depend on the maturity of our market as to how much work we need to do at this point. For new products, lead generation may require considerable work to educate the market about the existence of the problem before you can present your solution. For more mature products, a need is often very apparent.

Once we have attracted attention, our aim is to get those people to identify themselves as having the particular need, so that we can turn our efforts towards lead conversion. This is achieved through the final four steps of our direct marketing system. The scepticism that exists in the world today means that you have to work hard to get your market to accept your product is the best solution to meet their need. You must be careful how you make this claim. It must be believable and acceptable.

We all tend to procrastinate and put off taking action to the last minute. You need to overcome this inertia by creatively communicating reasons to “do it now.” Using the concept of impending loss is the most effective method to achieve urgency. This can often be achieved through communicating scarcity and the risk of missing out if immediate action is not taken. This could also be achieved with the risk of a price rise leading to a perceived loss of the price difference if the purchase is left to after the price rise. However, there are many other ways to communicate urgency and it is best to be creative rather than use tired and unimaginative methods that customers may see through and regard as mere techniques to get them to buy now.

The most important element after getting this far is to motivate action to buy. Many marketing communications are weak at this point. Many ads we see promote a product and do everything else right, but leave out the call to action. Subtlety is an ineffective marketing tool. You need to tell your customers what you want them to do to buy your product.

Media

The final step in developing our direct marketing system is to determine the appropriate media to use. Many people make the mistake of thinking about media first and then developing the message. This often happens when you have an advertising sales person pressuring you to buy space in their media. This approach leads to poor or worse, zero results. When you have identified your target market and developed the appropriate messages, the decision about media is much easy to work out. Often, it will depend on how easy your target market is to reach. You need to use the most efficient means of attracting the attention of the people most ready to buy. In lead conversion processes, you may use a combination of direct mail, internet (email and web sites), or personal selling approaches, again depending upon the ease of reach.

Conclusion

One vital aspect of developing an effective direct marketing system and a huge advantage over traditional marketing approaches, is the ability to test your system before you commit enormous amounts of money to it. Mass media marketing is expensive and unaccountable. Direct marketing systems give you the ability to measure results and track your return on investment. You can trial your system in small quantities before you roll it out to a larger audience. Eventually, with the right fine tuning, your direct marketing system will deliver predictable results. You will be able to plan your expenditure and schedule your marketing program to deliver the sales volumes you need at any time. Ultimately, your direct marketing system should deliver you all the sales from the most preferable and profitable customers that you would ever want.

Reach More Customers With Direct Marketing

Direct marketing, including direct mail, telemarketing and email marketing, is the most traditional and cost effective form of advertising. While television and radio advertisements have the ability to bring in a lot of business, they are expensive and cannot target an ultra-specific audience. Direct marketing, however, has the ability to focus on a specific group of people and present them messages tailored distinctively for them.

Direct marketing encompasses the traditional method of direct mail, as well as telemarketing. Email marketing is also a very low cost method of advertising that is sent to consumers directly. In an effort to cut down on waste and build a customer base, direct marketing requires a significant amount of research. Defining your target audience will help you streamline your message and send materials directly to those folks, instead of blanketing a region with the same, generic message. This research is an ongoing process, and should be constantly tweaked as a result of the response you receive.

The goal of direct marketing is simple: Turn people into customers through a series of advertisements that peak their interest. Peaking their interest can be a challenging task. Direct mail can be seen as “junk mail” and thrown out before it is even fully read. How often have you received “junk mail” and thrown it out before reading it? Think about what it would take for a piece of direct mail to grab your attention and cause you to read it. Put those characteristics into your direct mail. In order to grab the attention of a perspective customer, you must make your direct mail stand out. Use a simplistic, yet eye-catching, design and copy that is compelling and inspires the reader to take action.

It is easy to send out a mass email or mass direct mail campaign that encompasses a wide area of people with a picture of your product and it’s price. However, this is not the most effective way of direct marketing. Research must be done to tailor your advertisements to a select group of people. Let’s say you’re in the electronics business. About 150 of your clients and people who give feedback either in-store or online are people who regularly buy surround sound speakers. Shouldn’t your message to them specifically target their interest in surround sound speakers? Finding a group of people who show interest in a particular product makes it easy to craft a direct mail or email advertisement that peaks interest and inspires people to become either first-time or repeat customers.

The next time you are trying to figure out how to reach more people and increase your bottom line, consider the proven effective strategies of direct marketing. Putting time and effort into the proper research to craft an advertisement that is compelling will surely pay off in the long run and significantly increase your profit margin.

The Significance of Direct Marketing KPI

When you are developing direct marketing KPI, there are inevitably a lot of factors to consider here. First of all, you have to remember that the number of KPI to use should be limited, to avoid further confusion when it comes to the interpretation and analysis of collected data. As with KPIs that are used in other industries and for some other purpose, less is actually more.

With that being said, let us move on to direct marketing, more specifically, direct mail marketing. Now, it is a common practice for direct mail marketers to collect marketing response data. This is essential towards the objective and effective comparison of the different direct mail design and content. Collecting marketing response data is also needed when you aim to assess the different creative approaches, offers, templates, and other aspects that have strong influence on the success of your marketing campaign itself. This way, whatever campaign you hold in the future, you will have real-time results and conclusions that you can use as basis for whatever move you make.

Now, more often than not, direct mail marketing companies also prefer to use benchmarks that are just of the average in the industry. But why not go for broke here? Why go for just the average? Just think about it for a second here: the average benchmarks would actually be the ones that are commonly used by the many companies in the industry. Thus, you are able to get a more objective point of view here. The average should then be used when you aim to analyze just how effective and efficient your marketing program is.

However, you also have to remember that there are certain factors that have strong influence on benchmarking statistics. Take for example the direct mail medium or type that you are using. There are actually different types that you can choose from, which include brochures, booklets, newsletters, and even business cards! Even the relationship that the company has with its customers can also be a factor of strong influence here. The very profile of the company itself is also on the list. Thus, it is an imperative to use benchmarks that are of the average in the industry in establishing direct marketing key performance indicators.

But if you want to go for the more effective method, then you should consider going with email marketing instead of the traditional form of direct mail marketing. When it comes to postal direct mail, your response rate is actually a bit limited here. This would depend on the percentage of people or recipients who respond to your marketing campaign by calling the number that you leave, or by physically visiting your store, or by sending back a business reply card of some sort. However, with email marketing, the response rate is not that limited at all. With email marketing, the recipient or the potential customer need not physically visit your store at all. This is already a huge plus in terms of convenience. Also, all the recipient has to do is just reply to the email itself, or better yet, join the mailing list or the very service that you are offering.

Still, direct mail marketing remains very cost-effective in terms of attracting new customers. And if you have the proper direct marketing KPI implanted for your system, the figures will certainly become more promising for your marketing campaign.

A Brief History of Direct Marketing and Its Application For Business Owners

Most people think they know what direct response marketing is all about. When you say the words ‘direct marketing’, most people don’t even heard the word marketing. Instead, they hear the word mail, as in direct mail, junk mail, or just plain old mail marketing. But direct marketing is much more than the tangible material used to make the marketing piece. It’s a way of marketing that’s measurable, accountable, and trackable.

Direct mail has been the workhorse of the marketing world since Montgomery Ward launched its first catalog in 1872. Back then, the idea of offering a world of goods through the U.S. Postal Service was revolutionary. To our farm dwelling ancestors, for whom shopping was a three-day trip with wooden cart and horse over rough terrain, ordering coal burning stoves, ice boxes, dresses and harnesses through the Montgomery Ward, Sears, and other catalogs was a blessing.

What helped the start of the direct mail industry? The U.S. Postal system, with its ability to reach nearly anyone, anywhere, was the catalyst for the direct mail surge. The growth of mass-produced items, America’s rapid expansion and reconstruction period after the Civil War also helped fuel the rising middle class and their appetite for newer, better and more fashionable things.

Direct mail continues to rise in prominence, supported by the famous catalogs. Direct response print ads soon joined the world of direct response. Print ads captured the imagination, attention and wallets of people for decades. Direct mail letters, with their classic Johnson boxes, postscripts, and multiple inserts also made their debut in the 20th century, followed by the ubiquitous donation requests and credit card offers of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Direct response television, in the form of infomercials and commercials for products, added demonstrations of products to the direct marketing world. With the advent of cable and satellite television, channels solely devoted to direct marketing products, such as HSN (Home Shopping Network), QVC and others bring beautiful, useful products into our homes and follow all the basics of direct response marketing.

Today, the growth is online. Although initially getting a bad rap thanks to spammers worldwide who send us such gems as advertisements for medications, drugs, and sexual enhancements, email marketing is now a respected player in the world of direct response. Display advertising, surging ahead of the older banner advertising, remains a prominent means of capturing attention and click throughs, especially when it’s placed next to relevant articles and content.

The latest tool added to our direct marketing toolkit is the use of keyword searches, both natural and paid, to enhances responses and online marketing. Measurable, accountable and trackable, keyword marketing is the latest interactive marketing technique to help businesses worldwide acquire, retain and create loyal customers.

Some marketers lump social media marketing and web 2.0 technologies in with direct response marketing. While these are valid forms of online marketing and can prove quite effective, they are not pure direct response marketing. It is difficult to quantify the exact return on investment (ROI) of Twitter, Facebook, and other social marketing campaigns. It’s also nearly impossible to track responses from each so-called campaign. Social networking is more about making connections and fostering relationships. Like trade show and event marketing, it is about reaching people and starting or cultivating relationships rather than marketing activities with measurable outcomes.

Key Takeaways

This brief history of direct marketing and its current status clarifies the changing world of direct marketing. Examining the marketing mix, managers need to ask the following questions to determine if a direct response campaign is the right tool for the job:

o Will we gain by understanding exactly where our responses come from?

o Will it benefit my company more by cultivating relationships with many, or dialogues with a few?

o How will we use customer data Secure it? Manage it?

o If we gather the data from the campaigns, will we use it?

The marketing mix is often a blend of various tactics to reach many and converse with a few. Direct marketing of one type or another is usually part of the marketing mix. Deciding how much of a part is predicated upon how much one needs to cultivate actionable, measurable transactions with customers.