Thomas Edison said “âGood fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.â Sadly, I’ve seen too many people who wonder why things never work for them, when they never take time to get organized and HAVE a plan. The marketing efforts of most small businesses…and even many larger ones are pretty haphazard, they get an idea or hear about the latest fad, get excited and then rush and poorly execute it, and then wonder why it didn’t work as well as they were sure it would.
As our competitive environment becomes more intense, both from the pressure of our faltering economy, increased government regulation and taxes and more saavy consumers, you cannot afford to make careless mistakes in your marketing. Of course it’s NOT a mistake if you are analyzing it and keeping track of what isn’t working, but many businesses don’t even do that, and keep repeating the same mistakes!
With that being said, there is a simple planning process that will help your efforts have more impact and an ability to adjust and improve! Some of my previous blog entries have built up to this point. Follow the Direct Marketing Process – and then start it again. It’s simply a series of steps to follow and repeat:Â
1- Set Goals and Objectives:
“We need to do more marketing” is not a goal, it’s a cry for help. Sit down and analyze what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing. Do you need to increase sales?Â Are you trying to reactivate customers? Increase Loyalty? Â One good place to start is with a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). You can also reference a previous blog entry on Direct Marketing Objectives here.
2- Identify Your Audience or Target Demographic: If you have set specific goals, you should be able to zero in on the customers or prospects that are most likely to buy. This will enable you to be specific with your message and reduce your cost by targeting a smaller group. It is more effective to have several direct messages to smaller groups, than a generic message to a large one. Consumers are bombarded with 3000 to 5000 marketing messages a day, the more relevent you make your communication with them, the better!
3- Choose the Delivery Channel(s): Internet, Social Networking, Direct Mail, Television, Radio, E-mail. There are many choices, the key is to think about sales process can and does start nearly anywhere now! An online search, a postcard with an offer, a referral from a friend. Do you use several or a combination. Where does your customer WANT to hear from you? Then consider the offer and message that will prompt them to respond.
4- Select the Type of Responses That You Are Looking For: You MUST have a call to action! Are you asking them to buy? To request more information? You may just want to get them to sign up for a newsletter so that they are aware of you when you need their service. Do you want them to call a “800” number. Besides the initial offer,Â do you have the other elements in place to help you follow up?Â Â You should be ready in more than just one place, 70% of consumers will research online before they contact you, are you ready for them? That’s the purpose of this blog! To help my customer understand our expertise and be confident in calling us when they are ready for help with their marketing! Then when they do request information, are you ready with a sales process to follow up with? If you are generating leads, don’t drop the ball after you have their interest! Sometimes the focus is all on the offer and the creative, with little thought for the response and the follow up.
5- Execute Your Promotion:Get the creative done, organize or purchase your list, set up the response channels and let it go! You may find that you’ve got it all planned out and you’re not sure it’s the best idea and if it will work. You are right, it might not. There is no way to know for sure if something will work until you try it, and that’s what you have to do, there are no guarantees.Â That takes us to the next step.
6- Review Results and Continue: Many companies will execute test campaigns with groups of 2500 or more to see how the response goes. If you are a small company, 2500 may be your full campaign! The key is to make sure you measure the response so that you can learn from it. No campaign is a failure if you take the knowledge gained and start planning your next effort.
It’s not easy, planning always takes time and effort, but one of my favorite quotes sums it up “Preparation Proceeds Power” and your sales and marketing efforts are no exception.