Direct Marketing: The Business of the 21st Century

Direct marketing is truly the preferred business of the 21st century. Why? We are quickly discovering that we cannot rely on the standard of working for someone else, so it only makes sense that we would look to other resources to change our life. I am going to share with you more about direct marketing, how it works, and why people are turning to it for their livelihood.

What is it?

So, what is direct marketing? This type of marketing is no doubt different from what you are used to. The reality is that direct sales are what make a difference in the lives of others, from the perspective that you can sell to folks directly. People love being served and they like knowing that if there is a challenge with something they have purchased, that they can come to you directly for help.

Direct marketing is simply marketing something directly to an individual, and in some cases it can be a business. It doesn’t matter what the product is as long as it’s something that is needed by whomever you are marketing to. Over the years, this has been referred to as network marketing and even MLM, or multi-level marketing, which receives criticism from many people due to how it works, and how folks get paid.

The reality is that there isn’t anything wrong with direct marketing, and the truth is that if you are marketing a real, viable product that people need, then you have a business. Those who are encouraging you to recruit others without a product or service of value, are involved in pyramid schemes and should be avoided.

How it Works

Now that you know more about what direct marketing is, how does it really work? This type of marketing is actually rather simple, in that it includes a personal decision to sign up, get training for the product and service you are providing, make sales and also recruit other people to do the same. The more sales you make and the more people you recruit, the more you will get paid.

Direct marketing means that you yourself are marketing to the public. This can be done by traditional methods such as advertisement via radio, newspaper, or television. In these current times these advertising strategies are known as offline methods. Now that we are in the 21st century, marketing is changing, meaning that most of it is now online. This not only makes it easier to market to those you already know and have as customers, but you are also going to be able to market to those you don’t know more effectively by using the internet.

Imagine that now you have all of the opportunity in the world before you, and you don’t do anything with it. Shame on you, because this is why most folks who get involved in direct marketing DON’T make any money. Because you can now use the internet to make yourself known, you will be able to market to billions of people versus only a handful.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how you can make direct marketing work for you, are you ready to get involved? You can make good money in direct marketing, and it’s very satisfying.

Now that you know what direct marketing is and how to make it work effectively, you can get involved. It gives you the opportunity to earn money which is proportional to your efforts and build a rewarding and profitable business.

Powerful PR Lessons from Successful Direct Marketing Techniques

Direct marketing–including catalogs and Internet sales–is a $1.85 trillion industry in the U.S. that accounts for 7 percent of total U.S. sales, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Direct marketers make their money by understanding exactly what customers want and giving it to them. Here are five key public relations lessons to learn from direct marketing:

Target your message

Successful direct marketing is targeted. It gets the right offer in the right format to the right people who have an interest in or a need for a manufacturer’s product. Direct marketers spend millions of dollars creating and refining mailing lists and subscriber profiles to find just the right consumers to buy their product.

Direct marketers don’t try to be everything to everybody. They use their budget wisely to reach only the people who are their best prospects and reach them frequently enough to encourage new sales and spur repeat sales.

How targeted is your message?

Do you write your brochures, advertisements and radio commercials with your typical customer in mind? Is your message telling them how they can solve their problems, achieve their dreams, or meet their needs? Direct marketers know that customer benefits outsell product features. Targeting your message to your most likely buyers will make the best use of your budget and yield the most sales.

Test your message

Direct marketers base their ad copy, list purchase, media buys and graphic design on research and industry information. Testing is a basic part of successful direct marketing. Direct marketers will take two versions of an ad–one with slightly different copy from the other–or two different lists, or two different regional versions of the same magazine–and run their campaign tests. All the research in the world can’t substitute for testing. Research gives you a theoretical answer. Testing validates your theories in the real world.

Many business owners give up on marketing if their first ads don’t send customers flooding into their stores. Or they abandon advertising in a magazine if one ad doesn’t make the phone ring. Direct marketers know that it is often the message–not the medium–that needs to be adjusted to speak more persuasively to the customer. Don’t be too hasty to give up on a whole type of advertising because one effort did not bring a crowd. Change your ad, re-write your mailing piece, adjust your list and try again. When the right message reaches a receptive potential customer, sales happen.

Change your definition of success

Direct marketers are patient. They understand that testing is essential to capture sales. But they also have a realistic idea of success. Depending on the size of the campaign, the type of product and the break-even cost, some direct marketers consider a response of 1 – 5 percent to be very successful. They know that large percentages aren’t realistic.

A campaign’s success also depends on its purpose. Some offers are made just to generate leads in order to build a better mailing list for the next offer. Those campaigns are focused on screening out non-buyers, not necessarily on selling product. Getting 1,000 names of people who are interested out of a mailing of 10,000 people on a list might be very successful under those conditions.

Make sure you have defined success in a way that is realistic and based on solid criteria.

Tailor your offer

Direct marketers know that the magic is in the way the product is offered. Are you selling closet shelving–or an organization system? Is your product an air cleaner–or a way to reduce indoor air pollution?

Even the way the price is stated makes a difference. If you’re having a sale, is the price half off, fifty-percent reduced or two for one? Direct marketers know that different ways to say the same thing get different responses. Make sure that your offers are tailored to what encourages your customers to take action.

Know your customer

The most important lesson is to understand your customer. Find out what the customer is really purchasing when he buys your product. Direct marketing success happens when in-depth customer knowledge is used to tailor an offer, create a targeted, customer-oriented message that is tweaked and perfected through testing, and that produces profitable results.

Even if your business doesn’t currently use direct marketing, you can apply its wisdom to your public relations process to increase your business success.

Direct Marketing Vs Direct Sales – How to Leverage Your Selling Power

Direct Marketing – is simply marketing that goes straight to the consumer. This can be done through direct mail, flyer distribution, email etc. as these are all forms of direct marketing. However this method should not be confused with direct sales.

Direct marketing delivers your message right to the consumer directly unlike other forms of brand advertising like radio and television etc.

Direct sales on the other hand delivers the message to your consumer also but through personal interaction. While this can be a very confusing concept to understand a rule of thumb for separating the two is when there is actual personal human interaction between you and the customer then it is direct sales not direct marketing.

Conversely many companies hire a sales force to deliver their marketing message to the marketplace via telemarketing and knocking on doors. In that case its direct marketing for the company and its executives but its direct sales for those talking to the customers.

This confusion of direct marketing vs direct sales causes two major problems. If you are the sales person your trying to make sales with no marketing and if your the owner of the business your sales reps are going to have a harder time making sales simply because you are not following the proper process.

Direct Marketing Drives Direct Sales

Picture yourself driving a manual stick shift car with 6 gears. It would be quite difficult to start a car in 3rd gear and if even if you did it would drive improperly the whole way because the original process was incorrect.

Compare this example: you send out a postcard or a flyer with your offer on it that’s first gear. Your customer responds and you collect their information that’s second gear. You or your sales reps call them back to schedule an appointment that’s third gear. They see or hear the presentation that’s fourth gear. They buy that’s fifth gear. Getting the referrals is 6th gear.

In essence direct marketing should handle at least the first 2 or 3 steps in your marketing process. The direct sales process should pick up where your direct marketing left off. What marketing medium you use is not only up to you but it’s dependent upon what audience you are trying to reach different consumer markets will receive information through different mediums.

A Buyers Guide to Direct Marketing Services

There is a tremendous growth and change occurring in the sphere of business marketing across the world today. This is largely due to the unprecedented pace of change in technology, entrepreneurial tactics and an open attitude towards new theories and concepts in marketing itself.

Direct Marketing is a subsection of marketing that focuses on planned recording, analysis and tracking of individual customers’ responses and transactions for the purpose of developing and prolonging mutually profitable customer relationships. Direct marketing can be aimed either at the individual consumer or on a business-to-business (B2B) level. This form of marketing attempts to send messages directly to the intended client by means of addressable media such as mail and email. In this way direct marketing differs from regular advertising in that it does not place its messages in the public market such as radio, billboards and magazines etc.

A distinction has to be drawn between direct marketing and what is known as junk mail or spam. Whilst direct marketing is very often criticised for generating unwanted solicitations, spam and bulk mail drops are not true forms of direct marketing as recipients are not identified as prospects by any form of selective criteria. Direct marketing on the other hand is a form of advertising based on a very selective process by which potential clients are screened according to certain levels of eligibility in accordance with the product being promoted. Direct marketing makes use of addressable as well as non-addressable media. Addressable media entails such forms as email, telemarketing and short message service (SMS) on mobile phones, although face-to-face contact is not considered a form of addressable media. Non-addressable media takes the form of mail outs and flyers, where no immediate user input is required. The important thing is that both these forms of direct marketing seek a response, and it is this which the marketer bases their future actions, or contact strategy on.

Some of the advantages of direct marketing are listed below:

Specific targeting

Clearly, the most important aspect of direct mail is that it can be targeted ‘exactly’ at the specific, individual, customer.

Personalization

Direct mail can address the customer personally. If the full benefits of precision marketing are exploited, it can be directly tailored to his or her needs (interactively based upon prior experience, as recorded on the database).

Optimization

Because of its direct response nature, the marketing campaign can be tested and varied to obtain the optimal results.

Accumulation

Responses can be added to the database, allowing future mailings to be even better targeted.

Flexibility

A direct mail campaign can be mounted quickly on a wide variety of topics within an overall promotional campaign.

When searching for potential services to assist you in your campaign of direct marketing, there are various aspects which need to be taken into consideration in order to gain the most out of your promotion.

At the core of any direct marketing campaign is the customer database. Most direct marketing services will offer recourse to their databases. For this reason it is necessary to choose the marketing service that will be able most accurately cater to your specific needs. Different service providers specialise in different market areas, for instance consumer marketing, or B2B marketing, as well as group variables, such as income, age, and lifestyle. The solution to this target audience will most likely come from your own database of customers or prospects. On the other hand, being selective by choosing only those who will be susceptible to the mailing saves on cost and also protects the investment in the database, by not exposing recipients to volumes of unwanted and irrelevant mail.

The most important question to ask when investing in an external list is how accurate it actually is. The source of many lists may be suspect as they are frequently derived from subscribers to magazines or respondents to free offers. This audience may not be the ideal prospects to your campaign, but then again this may be the only way in which you can reach your target market. Lists may also be out of date, for instance 12 per cent of the UK population changes address every year, which means they may need ‘cleaning’ (for example, to remove duplicate entries or to update contacts within organisations). Usually the only adequate way of finding out how useful a list really is, is to run a test mailing, even though it might represent an investment of time and money.

As mentioned above, the most productive mailing list is one that you have compiled yourself. Unfortunately, these lists are often the most neglected. For most direct marketing companies, such lists are their single most precious asset. Even in organisations with more general fields of operation, the data obtained as a result of those operations (enquiries, face-to-face selling, exhibitions, direct mail, etc.) should all be regarded as highly valuable. Data should be consolidated and protected so that they are usable, and useful, as a direct input to all marketing activities – especially for precision marketing.

When approaching prospective direct marketing companies, it is good to know what kind of products and services to expect, and how these can help you in your campaign. Generally speaking, marketing companies should be able to offer access to a specified name database, made up of prospective clients as set out by your needs. You have to consider that different companies have varying databases that cater for differing needs. It is thus up to you to find the one most suited to your requirements. Furthermore, direct marketing companies should offer services such as:

– Databases specified to cover various forms of media, i.e. mailing data, telemarketing and email data.

– Segmentation of data into areas such as job title, geographical location and industry classification.

– Data cleansing and verification services

– Data enhancement as well as analytic and strategic consulting.

Some emerging channels which hold interesting possibilities in the future include:

Digital Cable:

Cable television has never enabled highly targeted direct marketing to become successful. Digital cable is seen as the solution that will make the delivery of personalised marketing content via television possible.

Wireless:

To date, the majority of wireless marketing was constrained to text based SMS services, but with the advent of 3G, the promise of delivering richer content has gained more interest from marketers.

Internet:

Banner advertisements are often considered indirect advertising, but in many cases, companies like Google and Yahoo serve advertisements on their websites for their own purposes.

Political campaigns:

Recently, political campaigns have begun to appropriate the methods of direct marketers (or to employ direct marketing companies) to raise money and create activism.

Once you have acquired all the relevant data regarding your target audience, factors such as the channels you choose and the timing of the delivery (e.g. time of year or even day of the week) can play a major role in the effectiveness of your campaign. The correct marketing service will be well equipped to assist you through all these areas.