We see it every day, the stack shows up in our mailbox and on our desks at work, Direct Mail. Despite a decline in mailing overall, it is still the greatest used Direct Marketing channel according to a 2009 Communications Industry Forecast. It is followed by Telesales, Catalogs, E-Mail Marketing, Direct Response TV along with other forms of direct marketing. The way it is being used has changed however, forever gone are the massively huge blanked mailings of the past. Our current business environment is forcing companies to run lean, and they can’t afford the shotgun approach.
Direct Mailis being sent out in smaller, better targeted groups. Today’s detailed databases make it possible to zero in on your likely prospects and avoid wasting money on the least or never likely to buy (don’t send me Pamper’s coupons…my youngest is 9). We can also target by radius around a central point. By number around a central point (i.e. the first 2500 families around a point with incomes over $50,000, own their home and have children under 12). Targeting the right prospect is the biggest part of making your mailing successful.
The next is your objective and messaging. Make sure you have a goal in mind for a campaign, just spewing information about your business and services is not likely to move people. Some common objectives for Direct Marketing Campaigns are:
1- To generate in inquiry for product or service information. Often the best goal is to get your prospect to confirm that they are a prospect! If they respond to you you can then continue the selling process with follow up. Often you will direct them to a web “landing page” to capture information that can help you in this process and build a mailing list.
2- To purchase a product or service direct. Sometimes this is the goal, to get the purchase right now! Best practices say don’t offer multiple items, you want to target your prospect well with a “Yes” or “No” on the buy, if you confuse the decision with “…Do I want this one or that one?” you delay the sale and possibly the purchase.
3-To create a customer, member or subscriber. Getting a target interested in a newsletter or to opt in for a membership benefit helps you create a captive audience. Just remember CONTENT IS KING! Provide value consistently, or your prospect will leave you.
4- To generate qualified leads. Similar to #1 & #3, the difference is that the consumer is saying “Yes, I’m interested in this product, please tell me more”, giving you the opportunity to assign limited resources to the sales process.
5-To up-sell or cross-sell products or services. Once a customer has bought from you and had a good experience, you are leaving money on the table if you don’t follow up with another offer to the same prospect! This is a golden contact to take advantage of (and I don’t mean take advantage in the “rip-off” sense, make sure you continue to provide value).
6- To make a second third or additional purpose.Sometimes this can be years later. Successful car dealerships will begin contacting you a couple of years after the purchase. The really good ones stay in contact with you through that time, often almost creating a “family” like feeling, or of belonging to a club (Just ask people who have owned a Saturn)
7- To activate a new or dormant customer. We want you back! It’s easier to reactivate a customer than to find a new one! (and usually cheaper too)
8- To drive traffic to a retail store, website or event. Smart convention marketers will send out information BEFORE the event, to encourage people to come by their booth. 70% of buyers these days will research a purchase before they buy, tell them where to go to get the information about your product or service. And everyone likes getting a special invitation…especially when it actually looks like one!
9- To create customer loyalty. I personally love it when I buy something and a few days to weeks later I receive a follow up card or phone call to confirm that I am happy with my purchase and who to call if I’m not!
It’s an old saying “Those that fail to plan, plan to fail” and it’s true with your direct marketing. If you don’t have a purpose in mind, with a good message and call to action, it will likely produce little if any results for your success.