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.

Why Use Direct Marketing for Your Marketing Campaign?

Well, the good news is, you now have the opportunity to plan a really great marketing campaign. The bad news is, your boss actually expects to see results!

Let’s take a look at your budget. You have $20,000 to spend? That’s a big budget! Really cool! Now… let’s see what kind of campaign we can come up with. To start, we need a really great Creative Concept. What self respecting marketing campaign goes without a creative concept? Then of course, we just have to have that huge full page advertisement in the most prominent daily. Maybe a short burst on the radio or television would be good.

With $20,000? You could not even get out of the door with that campaign. Let us put things into perspective. You have a marketing campaign to run, and you need to see results. So, you need to have a solid marketing concept, then you need to have a great marketing plan to execute that marketing concept. So, besides the creative concept (it ain’t free!), the marketing plan and the execution, then you have to create the visuals and get down to the actual print work, online stuff and so on. Now, if you want to know the RESULTS, you will also need to budget some kind of market survey. This is needed to see a before/after scenario. Otherwise, your marketing campaign is over, how do you know what the results are?

As a small marketer, you need to be aware that you are constrained by budgets. You do not have the hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on an elaborate marketing campaign. Just to raise consumer awareness using a traditional advertising campaign will require a frequency of exposure that will likely make it beyond the reach of most small to medium sized companies.

But all is not lost. Direct Marketing is a very powerful and often over-looked tool in the marketer’s arsenal. Your marketing campaign can be made so much more targeted and results more grounded by employing direct marketing in the campaign.

A quick definition, direct marketing as we are talking about here, refers to any kind of direct response marketing that is targeted to an individual (as much as it is possible to do so). Examples of direct marketing would be

– Flyers mailed to a customer

– Email campaign

– Coupons

Of course, there are other direct marketing methods, and the above is just a sampling. Why would you want to add direct marketing to your marketing campaign? On the surface, it always looks like direct marketing is much more expensive than a general advertising above-the-line program. Your $20,000 above can easily translate to a few advertisements in several local print media and reach hundreds of thousands of people.

But consider this:

– direct marketing is highly targeted, noise (wastage) is extremely low

– direct marketing allows a direct response

– direct marketing is easily tracked (from a returned coupon, a phone call, a form…)

Your $20,000 can be well spent if you set aside a portion of it to create a flyer with a simple discount coupon and mail it to your customer base. This simple action, would have increased the power of your marketing campaign at many levels. While your print advertisements will reach its hundreds of thousands, the flyer will reach your existing customers. They will USE the coupons, get a discount and actually buy something from you. Therein lies the “results” that your boss is so hungry for!

Better yet, the side effect is that for everyone who has seen the advertisement, but is not a customer, they have no discount coupon! Now THAT will surely spur them to try to get on your mailing list. Suddenly, it becomes important.

Word of mouth now comes into play. OK, before we get too carried away by how exciting a simple direct marketing campaign can become, let’s get back on track.

Your simple print advertising campaign, supplemented with a small direct marketing campaign can yield results for your marketing campaign that would be significant. Don’t get me wrong, it is doubtful that a $20,000 marketing campaign can beat a $2 million advertising blitz, but working within your means, the addition of direct marketing will add a measure of impact that is more than worth its cut of your budget.

Think on it. Happy marketing!

Direct Marketing And How To Make It Profitable During Tough Economic Times

Hi, I am a direct marketing specialist that has helped hundreds of direct marketers grow their businesses. You do not know me, but after reading my views on direct marketing during an economic slowdown, I believe it can give you business an edge in taking market share from your competitors.

Today the consumer is being financially squeezed by many economic realities. Soaring gas prices a slowing economy, and job insecurities, just to highlight a few. All this is currently having a very negative impact of the consumer’s mindset for spending. Odds are your company is also feeling the consumer’s anxiety about the future. When I talk to some of the clients I do work for, they have told me that their web sales and response rates have declined, or at best are treading water. The same holds true for the traditional mailers. They are also experiencing consumer pessimism that is reflected in lower response rates.

OK, so does this mean that you have to hunker down and accept all this as the reality of the times for doing business? Absolutely not …But most direct marketers unfortunately will. The enlightened few will view it differently and become proactive, and embrace the challenges.

“Keep on doing what your doing in direct marketing and you’ll keep on getting what your getting in declining sales and profits”

Today savvy direct marketer realizes that the status quo of what worked during the good times isn’t working so well anymore. Hundreds of thousand of companies are competing on the web and via traditional direct mail for the consumer’s discretionary income. Many are destined to fail. Survival of the fittest is being played out, and the marketers who DO NOT make direct marketing refinements will become extinct.

So exactly what can you do to help guarantee that our company not only survives, but also takes market share from the competition?

To begin with you must make absolutely sure that your direct marketing efforts utilize all the responsive techniques that have prove to drive sales. Direct marketing is paying explicit attention to the details of the business, especially now. The day of “lets run it up the flag pole and see how it flies” is long gone. Today it is making positively sure that you have the three basic RIGHTS of direct response in place, or your company is destined to fail.

The three basic RIGHTS that must be in place are:

RIGHT #1: You must have the right copy that talks to the customer NOT at them. It must emotionally engage them and give them compelling benefits of your products and how it will help THEM. Does your copy utilize “YOU” or “YOUR” as much as is feasible? Does each product have a benefit headline? Do you utilize words (under seven letters is best) that the customer will actually understand? Do you answer all the questions in the customer’s mind that could be a potential roadblock to a sale? It’s your job to remove all the roadblocks that would deter a response.

RIGHT #2: The right creative, teamed with the right colors and graphics are essential to getting a response. Does your creative and graphics actually help to sell the product, or do they detract from it? Do the photos you use reflect you’re demographic, and do they add to the enhancement of the copy in obtaining a response? Do the colors you use on your site, or in your mail pieces turn on response emotions or do they turn them off? Certain colors evoke specific feelings; this should not be left to chance. The type you use, and how it is displayed directly affects sales. Type that is NOT black, or that is reversing out of a background has statistically proven in tests to be harder to read, and slower to comprehend which is a roadblock to a sale. Are you using Sans Serif type in your electronic marketing? It is easier to read on a computer screen. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to click away because they can’t read your type or it is to small in point size.

RIGHT#3: The right product with the right prices is vital. Customers are like a peregrine falcons. They scan multiple sites and catalogs to find the right product that is priced right, with the right shipping charge, and right guarantee. 30% (or more!) of the customers on your file are on your competitors files. Products priced right? Do you offer two for pricing? If you have exclusive proprietary products do you note it? Do you offer incentives for large orders, for example like free shipping, a free gift, or bonus coupons for future orders? Do you use testimonials about your products or company to melt away the customer’s cynicism?

If you get all three of the RIGHTS listed above right your chances of getting the response is almost guaranteed. If you miss just one of the RIGHTS it can be a no sale and your clicked away, or your mail piece is resigned to the circular file.

Hey I do not have all the answers, but I have been totally involved in the direct marketing for over three decades. I have helped hundreds of direct marketers grow their businesses and profits. I know how to write responsive copy that moves people, and in turn moves sales. I know how to make sure all the RIGHTS are in place, so as to help guarantee a response. I know what is needed creatively from a direct marketing standpoint to move a customer to take action and respond.
Questions for YOU?

Are your sales at this time where you want them to be? Are you happy with your direct response results? Are you 100% sure your have done everything to employ proven direct marketing principles to grow your business and assure it’s future?

If you cannot definitely say “YES” to these questions, they maybe we should have a chat.

Direct Marketing Vs Affiliate Marketing

Direct marketing and affiliate marketing are two of the most lucrative sources of income for many people who take advantage of the Internet. Direct marketing involves selling your own product or service directly to your target customers.

Affiliate marketing is more like retailing, which involves selling a product or service you do not own and receiving commissions on every sale you make. Choosing which one to get involved with depends on you, but in terms of advantages, direct marketing can give you the upper hand.

Why Choose This Type of Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a very profitable online business, and there are many instances where the affiliates earn more than the product owners or service providers.

However, that is not usually the case. While super affiliates can easily make money promoting other people’s products, probably because they have bigger email lists or advertising funds, small affiliates only make a handful.

In contrast, direct marketing makes it easier for online marketers to build their own customer base and sell more of their existing and future products.

Affiliates can actually create their own customer base as well, by generating leads through email marketing. While this is true, the product owners also generate their own email lists, often gaining the trust of most customers, especially if their products are top-notch.

Hence, when it comes to gaining repeat customers, it is the product owners make more money by bypassing the affiliates.

What’s Involved

Affiliates only need to find a product to sell, and promote it through various means online. However, direct marketers have to make their own products or offer their own services.

This is necessary, because without a product or service to provide, there can never be any sales to make.

If you want to get involved in direct marketing, you need to make the product or service accessible through a website, and should have a merchant account to deal with payments.

If you sell a physical product, make sure to hire a reliable company to handle the shipping. It also involves providing customer support.

Direct marketers have to ensure that their customers have access to technical and sales representatives. This is crucial to the success of any online business.

After the business website has been setup, you can use direct marketing strategies to attract new customers. There are many ways to do this. You can employ search engine marketing, email marketing, telemarketing, social media marketing, and the many more.

The Bottom Line

While affiliate marketing is a good way to earn money online, direct marketing can offer better chances of online success.

First> of all, you earn 100% from sales if you sell your products directly to your customers.

Second, you can create your own customer base, which allows you to generate repeat sales and pre-sell your future products.

Third, you can track and record useful customer data, which can be used to predict future sales trends and the like.

Fourth, you have the option to offer an affiliate program, which makes it easier for you to generate more sales with less effort.

Hopefully this article will help you decide what methods you want to you use (whether it be direct marketing or affiliate marketing – or both) to make money online and grow a stable and profitable business.