A direct marketing list is a great option to when it comes to growing your business. It is proven that purchasing a direct marketing mailing list will increase your company’s sales. This form of marketing allows you to target your message to people that will have an interest in your product or service. It also allows you to easily focus your marketing efforts to the audience of your choice, whether you are using direct mail, telemarketing and/or email marketing. You can purchase your direct marketing list from any list broker or compiler.Prior to purchasing a direct marketing list, you will want to gather exact who you want to target and where you want your target to be. You can supply zip codes, counties, states or have a distance radius ran from your location. Along with your geography, you need to come up with your ideal customer. Even if your ideal customer is very specific, it is good to start as specific as possible and work backwards from there.There are quite a few different direct marketing lists available. These include:Business Mailing List – this list is able to be targeted by industry, sales volume, employee sizes, and more. It also allows you to target specific decision makers by title within each organization. The database can include business name, address, phone number, contact name and title and more.Residential Consumer List – this file would be targeting people at their home address. There are many ways to create a targeted consumer list including age, income, gender, and more. You also have the option of simply targeting everyone within a specific geography.Home Owner Mortgage List- this database would include all individuals that own there home. The majority of this file comes from county tax offices and is selectable by mortgage information including year home was purchased, home value, interest rate, interest rate type and more.New Movers List – this file is comprised of people that have newly move into an area. This is selectable by anyone moving into an area and can be further segmented into new home owners and new mover renters.Specialty List – these records would include magazine subscribers, specific professional titles, and other databases created through online surveys and more.
Direct marketing connects you directly with your customers. When customers receive a piece of mail addressed to them, take a phone call, get an email from you or see you or your sales representative in person, they connect with you and your business on a personal level.Let’s look at three aspects of the benefits of direct marketing.Building RelationshipsWhen you market directly, you build relationships. No matter what day or age, or how much technology we have, the core of all successful business strategies is building on a rock-solid foundation of interpersonal connection. Customers like to deal with a familiar face, a trusted brand, a known quantity. Contacting customers repeatedly reminds customers of your quality and lets them know you care.Keeping Track of the MetricsDirect marketing allows you to track your numbers easily. When you use different types of direct marketing, you can efficiently compile statistics and measure several different parameters, including response percentage rates, geography, demographics, psychographics, and timing. With this kind of specific information, you can reap the benefits of direct marketing more fully in the future by having a scientific, mathematically based way of selecting targets and gauging your timing more specifically.Minimizing CompetitionBy marketing directly, you avoid immediate competitor response or counter-offers. Competitors may, of course, get wind of your materials, but they cannot respond as rapidly or effectively as they can to online campaigns, for example. Thus, your deals are likely to be the best ones around. When your customers are accustomed to hearing from you directly, they are less likely to shop around and more likely to keep coming back.These are three major benefits of marketing directly, but there are many more. To find out for yourself how beneficial it can be, set up your marketing campaign today!
The mathematics of direct marketing primarily rests on three key elements:
Contribution Costs (e.g. Overheads)
Now there is no clear-cut balance for these elements as any direct marketing activity needs to be tailored and fine tuned according to each business. This is why I will never state off-the-cuff a direct marketing response rate for any business or industry type as there are significant variables involved such as the product itself, the demand for it, market preference and the nature of the offer.Another point to highlight is that the mathematics used is underpinned by the belief that the future will be similar to the past. Hence if any variable within the equation changes significantly (e.g. magazine circulation significantly declines), then you have to expect a different response rate.So to dive straight into it, I’ve listed below a few essential calculations which every small business should use:Calculating the Allowable Using Your DM BudgetThis equation lets you calculate the amount of money you need in order to make one sale. This is really important to know!Revenue Selling Price: $1000Minus Costs Production: $500Overheads: $150Postage & Handling: $50The Breakeven allowance is $300 (the money you are allowed to spend to acquire a customer).NOTE: If your business requires 10% profit, then your allowable would effectively be reduced to $200.Using the Allowable to calculate your DM budgetSo using our allowable recruitment spend per customer x target No. of Sales = $200 x 100Marketing Budget = $20,000What happens if you don’t make the sales required?It is essential to test the market first using a small quantity before rolling out the entire campaign. Typically your allowable is based on what resources are required to acquire a customer already, plus I would expect some form of marketing research carried out in order to understand the size of your potential market. It is also important to include contingencies within your marketing activities if you don’t make the required sales. I always save 10% of my budget if something goes wrong. Or better still, if a potential list I’m targeting returns a huge ROI, then I have a bit left over to chase the money and market these top prospects again.Measuring Costs, Responses and SalesHere are a few very simple, yet essential equations to help measure costs, response and sales:Cost per Unit:Total cost / Total Quantity = Unit Coste.g. $20,000 / 4,000 = $5Response Rate:(Total Responses / Total Mailed) x 100% = % Responsee.g. (200 / 1,000) x 100% = 20%This equation is exactly the same as measuring the Conversion Rate which would be Converted Leads / Total Leads ContactedCost per Sale:Total Cost / Total Sales = Cost per Salee.g. 20,000 / 500 = $40Example: Let’s say you were a travel insurance broker wanting to advertise in the local newspaper to sell premium travel insurance for $500 per person. I’ve listed some assumed sales and marketing costs to acquire a customer:Advertising Cost: $7,800Newspaper Circulation: 150,000Promotional Cost: $5 per lead (e.g. Call centre costs)Revenue per sale: $500Total Marketing Cost for 100 leads is therefore: $8,300The Cost per Inquiry or Sale will vary depending on the response rate, which you won’t know until you advertise. But the main focus on advertising is to achieve a required level of profitability in order to justify the expense. I like to refer to it as measuring the Profit Index. (This is exactly the same as using your allowable to calculate the number of sales you require in order to justify any marketing spend).Profit Index (%) = Total Marketing Cost / Total RevenueProfit Index (%) = 8,300 / 10,500In this instance the Travel Insurance company requires 20% profit from print advertising. If my profit Index falls below 20%, then the advertising is deemed unprofitable. I’m so harsh!Hence, 21 travel insurance premiums need to be sold to meet a profit index of 21%.In other words, the allowable DM Budget would be set at $8,300 for advertising in the Local Newspaper.Using Spreadsheets to Negotiate SpendIf you’ve seen the spreadsheet then you’ll wonder why I’ve highlighted the following cost fields – Ad Cost and Promotional Costs. Promotional Costs are harder to change in the short term, but negotiating advertising costs can be extremely effective. You’d be amazed to discover that by saving 10% of advertising you drive down your Profit Index, which means your advertising dollar doesn’t have to work as hard to acquire customers or sales. In the example used, you would only have to sell 19 Travel Premiums in order to meet the minimum profitability requirements. It also does hurt asking for a trial advertising rate to test the viability of a product in a publication. Some account managers will assist if it means you become a regular advertiser.There are a couple of examples which the above calculations can be applied to in order to gain some further perspective for your next lead generation campaign.Lead Generation Conversion Programs1. Generally the more time you have to qualify an enquiry, the more it costs to generate. For example, if your telesales representative took 15 minutes to convert a prospect, while others may take only 5 minutes, then this will drive your overall costs to acquire a customer, and must be factored into your overheads or marketing costs.2. Lead generation lists (Prospect Lists) can also support repeat conversion contacts, but you’ll always get a reduced response rate with each effort. For example, if you mailed 1,000 prospects, it may generate 250 leads. The second time you mail the list (minus the 250 leads you generated the first time round), you might get another 100 leads. This means you have generated a total of 350 leads from the prospect list. But we wary that if you use the list too many times then it will get to the point of being unprofitable.As a general rule of thumb, you should change a portion of the DM piece the next time you mail (e.g. The offer, or a larger discount), as customers may respond to varying aspects of your direct marketing campaign, which is why it is always important to test.You may hear direct marketing consultants talking about list building, and how much of their time is dedicated to developing a database of qualified prospects and customers. These lists are in fact a key ingredient which differentiate direct marketing from traditional marketing.But I will say that typically, a list of present customers will respond much better or at a higher rate to a new product compared to non-qualified, or “cold” prospects.It is also important to point out that while companies always depreciate their expenses over time such as equipment, machinery and inventory, they almost never capitalise what could be their most important asset, their customer. Therefore, small business owners should view their customers as investments and be able to measure and monitor customer data, and capitalise on it for the future.Just remember that the maths of direct marketing sets it apart from all other marketing disciplines!
But whatever you’re trying to promote or sell, you’ll need to tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want. Writing good, clear concise copy that effectively persuades readers to take some sort of action requires significant skill, time and attention to detail.So if your up for the writing challenge, I have included 12 Wonder Words which copywriters use to turn prospects into customers, plus I’ve outlined some guidelines to create better mailings.Wonder Words That Grab AttentionBefore you start rolling up your sleeves, you should write the following words down on a post-it note and stick it on your computer or fridge to remember:They appear in no particular order:
MoneySo why are these wonder words so important?Well, did you know that Yale University Researches have identified them as the 12 most powerful words in the human language?These words just so happen to attract readers attention more than any other words, while working on a very powerful, emotional level.But it is important to remember that these words should only be used as tools when integrating them within your copy. If your copy is poor, particularly your grammar, then these words will not win over a new customer. But they will make your communication so much more enticing.Here’s how easy it is to include them within your copy:Discover how you can generate more money by using this easy copywriting method, saving you thousands of dollars with proven results. Guaranteed!Empathise with your target marketThe main purpose of copywriting within a direct mail context, is not used to inspire admiration, it is there to get people to do something. The entire design and conception of direct mail piece, for example, must be built around this simple but vital necessity: Get Action!So when writing your copy, you have to start with understanding your target market. You will need to ask relevant questions and genuinely empathise with your customers. This may involve talking to your current and past customers, studying testimonials, even talking to customer service staff, who usually provide some very interesting vies.You should try and identify what type of person they are. What is really motivating them to respond? Is it:
Power?It could be any of these reasons or combination, but I believe that only a few motives are ever at work.To view this in a more simplistic way, it has been identified that everything functions for either pain or gain in this world, and it’s the same for every person. Although every marketer would agree that people will always try to avoid pain over pleasure or gain.In other words, in order to get your customers to take action and buy from you, your product or service needs to overcome the pain and suffering associated with their problems.You need to stop talking about yourself and how wonderful your business is, and start addressing your customers problems by outlining the benefits associated with the product or service you’re trying to sell.For example, if you have a massage chair that is equipped with all the latest technology, you’re not going to start by mentioning that it has 12 multi-function settings, but rather focus on reducing back pain and restoring circulation.After fully understanding the person you are talking to, you now need to consider what format you want to write in and the critical elements needed given the overall proposition. In fact, until the format and the elements are satisfactory, you should not write a word.Creating Better MailingsFocusing on direct mail in particular, the key ingredients to include for a successful mail-out would typically include the outer envelope, the letter, the order form, the reply envelope, the brochure, and the flyer.It is far better for a writer and designer to sort out the overall plan before undertaking the specifics. Plus the function and message of each item becomes clearer as you start to develop them. Writing too early will be a waste, as ideas change and thoughts change.But for the purpose of this article, I am only going to concentrate on the three key elements of the direct mail package where effective copywriting is absolutely critical and the main points you need to consider before you start writing:The letterIn studies, the majority of people look for a letter first when the open their mail. But many businesses fail to use them in their mailings. There are some absolutes when it comes to direct mail – you must always include a letter and you must have a very strong reason for not making it a long one.Why does it have to be long? Well if you want tell compelling stories that grab attention and connect with people so that they’ll respond in the way you want, you need to be prepared to write some enticing copy. And I doubt if you can provide enough detail or a compelling reason in a cover letter only containing 2 to 3 paragraphs.To write a letter that is going to entice your customers you need to structure it in a format that will keep the reader moving down the page by incorporating the following key elements:
Attention Grabbing title – Used to get people to focus on you, your products and how you can benefit them. I normally write 30 different titles or more before I come up with a winner. You should even consider doing A/B split testing to track the best response.
Introduction – After capturing your readers’ interest, now direct their attention to your introduction. Write a brief paragraph about your product or service to let them know exactly what you have to offer them. Keep it brief and to the point with no fluff. You need to capture the promise made in the title in only a few seconds before the reader loses interest.
Identify the Problem – This goes back to empathising with your customers and help overcoming their problems. Providing a ‘reason why’ you’re writing the letter is also critical when making an offer to your customers, and it is best relayed in the form of a story. In fact, good copywriters and marketers often use stories the reader can relate to.
Provide a Solution – Tangible benefits, not features that can help your customers. After identifying your customers greatest fears and concerns, show them how other people, just like them, have overcome these problems and discovered there was nothing to worry about.
Details of what you are trying to sell – This contains all the pertinent information such as what’s on offer, what brands, what service your providing? You need to deliver on the promise made by the title.
Testimonials – Provide evidence of happy customers. Please ensure they are the original letters for them to carry any authority at all.
Endorsements – Whether they be from a celebrity, or an official organisation, an endorsement will help bring credibility to your product or service.
Use an enticing marketing offer – An additional offer is used over and above what you are trying to sell. It could be a free gift, free information or a free consultation. It helps to overcome BUYERS INERTIA and gets the reader to take action.
Contact information – How do you want your customers to contact you?
Your signature -….and not a digital one that has been scanned onto the page.
Use a P.S. to reiterate the offer and even another P.S.S. to outline any other important information. E.g. A deadline or, advising the product is only available to first 100 callers. These help the reader to ‘take action’ now.What is your copywriting style?Now that you have the right layout to use for your letter, you also need to be aware of the tone and style of your writing, and what is the best way to lay out the copy to make it easier to understand? Here are a few tips to consider:
Most letters are written in a compassionate, informal style to provide a more human touch to help the writer relate better to the reader.
The approach you should take is to let the customer know that you are talking to him or her as a person and not some random number or customer. Always personalise your letter where possible.
Use bullet points and sub headings to break up information and make it easier for the reader digest. Your subheadings should provide highlights of each section of your sales letter and be displayed in a larger, bold font.
Bold important information, titles, sub headings and key points
Change the colour to broadcast your offer. Colour can be used to draw the reader’s attention to get something for FREE!
Use italics and underline for greater emphasis on a word.
Use a handwriting font to express your testimonials as they provide more credibility.The brochureIf you have a budget, then a brochure of some form is always useful. It will improve response but it isn’t always critical to include in a mail pack. It should be seen as complimentary to the other items rather than the hero.What I mean by brochure, however, doesn’t necessarily have to be high cost and a lavish 4-colour production. It can indeed be in black and white. Usually its role is to provide credibility to the rest of the mailing with pictures, charts and other informative items.In this role, the brochure shares the selling task with the other items, so what you say in the letter copy may be replicated in the brochure, but said differently of course. The tone of the brochure copy is completely different. The letter is typically writing using a chattier, more colloquial style, while the official brochure is more formal.Never fall into the trap of leaving things out of the letter, as if you were going to save it for the brochure. Both items have to stand on their own feet but also contain the entire selling message. Only the tone and style is different, which provides excellent practice to developing your flexibility with different copy styles.The flyerThe flyer is basically any other piece of paper you want to add to your direct mail pack.You may think that your letter and brochure have provided your prospective customer with all the information they need. But it is primarily used as a stand-out piece. It sticks out and draws the reader’s attention while reinforcing the message.The flyer mainly comes in two forms, the testimonials letter, or ‘third voice’ letter, and the free gift flyer.A variation of the testimonial letter is the ‘third voice’ because it appears to come in the form from someone other than the writer of the main letter. An example of this letter can be applied to fundraising: The state government will have credibility in signing an appeals letter, but you can’t really have them asking for cash. Therefore, we would write a separate letter from the Leader talking about politics, but with a little bit at the end talking about the need for funds.The free gift flyer has two jobs to perform. First, it has to focus the readers mind on the free gift, then it has to be able to ‘sell it’. All too often the free gift flyers end up as a photograph of a watch with a paragraph underneath stating ‘FREE’ in bold. This is hardly going to give you the results you want. Many other types of flyer can be devised. In fact, don’t limit yourself to just one – I’ve seen successful mail packs use as many as 50 flyers!To sum upSo that is a brief overview of how to create better mailing using effective copywriting. By now I think you will agree that if you use the right words, the right tone and style, and the right format, while focusing on the primary needs of your customers – you can’t go wrong.It may be easier said than done, which is why you may have to consider using an experienced copywriter to get the most out of your next direct marketing initiatives.
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners launch direct marketing campaigns through email marketing, direct mail or other methods, then forget the most important aspect of a direct marketing campaign: tracking the results. One of the advantages of direct marketing is that is trackable and measurable. You can tell, for example, how much every dollar spent on direct marketing made back in sales. But you won’t be able to analyze your data if you fail to collect it.You can test many aspects of a direct marketing campaign from the creative presentation to the offer. Each yields different insights that add valuable data to the marketing manager or business owner’s understanding of what drives sales. Tracking elements that you are testing in a direct marketing campaign offers the critical data points necessary for good decision-making about marketing campaigns.Depending upon your campaign, the media, and the budget, there are many ways you can track responses to each direct marketing promotion. The following three methods are the lowest cost methods to track results from campaigns online or offline. Be sure to track only one element you’re testing at a time, or else you won’t be able to tell which element boosted the response rate.Unique Campaign Response URL URLs are so inexpensive these days, and it’s so easy to create a landing page for a campaign that using a unique URL to track different lists or tests within an online or direct mailing effort makes sense. You can place the unique tracking URL on direct mail pieces or include links in email campaigns. Choose URLs that are directly related to the campaign name, theme or the product or company name. Keep them short and easy to type if you are including them on direct mail pieces. Make sure that the landing pages are identical; if you include different text or graphics on the landing page, you are mixing too many elements into the test matrix.Different Response Phone NumbersA unique toll free number, phone number, or phone extension can also track responses in a direct marketing campaign, especially direct mail campaigns. Many companies use this method to track responses by promotional channel. Another variation on this theme is to list different “staff” in the marketing piece. Jane’s name may be on piece one, while Ann’s name on piece two. If the call center or operator is given a list of names, and knows to tick off the number of calls next to the names, you can get a good idea of the responsiveness of a promotion by tallying how many times Jane or Ann was requested.Special Response CodesYou may be familiar with the codes on the back of catalogs in the colored boxes. These correspond to various tests or factors the catalog marketer wishes to track. Special codes may also be included on order forms to track responses. Sometimes customers find typing response codes into online forms onerous. Try rewarding customers who include their response codes with a free gift with purchase or another bonus to encourage them to reveal their response or source codes.Testing ConceptsThese three methods of tracking results from direct marketing campaigns work well with many types of tests. Whether you’re conducting a split test or a test with many variables, be sure to use tracking methods such as a unique landing page and URL, unique phone number or source codes so that you can analyze the response data later and make informed decisions about your marketing methods.
In direct marketing terms the OFFER may include free information, incentives, or rewards for loyalty and continuing to purchase from you. Basically it can be anything that helps drives your target market to purchase.So even if you have the best product on the market, you can achieve better results by developing a RELEVANT offer to make your small business stand out from the crowd.So what are the main considerations when developing the offer?Offers should be designed to be relevant to your target market and to the product or service you are providing. They should also be timed well to help position your product effectively.If the direct marketing offer you’re providing doesn’t complement or add value to what you are trying to sell, then your prospects won’t commit. In most cases, the offer is the difference between success and failure.I’ve found that the biggest motivator is prospects’ perception of the value of the offer you provide relative to cost of the actual product. Further still, most people are motivated by something for free or any special privileges associated with the purchase of a product.But I think it’s important to discuss some of the pros and cons for all the various offers out there, plus some of their associated hurdles before you start discussing options with your designers, printers or mailhouse.Free Offer: Buy a newspaper and get a free CD! Offers like this helps to increase short term sales. On the other hand, if you provide free information in an offer-package then you encourage customers with a higher commitment potential. E.g. Get the first lesson free!Samples: If you include a free sample in a direct mail piece then you need to account for cost considerations. If you ask for a nominal price then it encourages commitment and a bit more interest.Free Gifts: This must be appropriate to the product or service sold or your prospects won’t commit. The FREE set of steak knives would only be of value if you were selling other kitchen appliances…..or an abattoir perhaps?Free Trial: This is fairly standard with most direct mail pieces. The good news is that it can double orders when compared to offering just a money back guarantee.Free Shipping: Spend more than $100 and we’ll post it to you for free! If your product is available internationally, then you may want to revisit your cost margins and breakeven point before going to market with this type of offer.Sweepstakes: This is great at commanding attention and causing excitement. Sweepstakes always boost sales, but these days it is better to offer a prize everyday of the month to keep your prospects interested, rather than offering one big lofty prize. Just make sure the sweepstakes doesn’t cast a shadow on what you’re actually trying to sell.Time Limited: You can further overcome buyers inertia by making your direct marketing offer time limited, as everyone hates to miss out! If you give a reason for your prospect to act immediately then you will have a greater chance of making more sales in the short term.Exclusive Membership: Subscribe for a fee and receive exclusive discounts, benefits and experiences which aren’t offered to the general public. Just make sure the membership has the right mix of benefits to get your prospects lining up at the door.A lifetime membership could also be used as it offers no commitment to ongoing purchases required.Discount Offer: Always be careful offering discounts as your primary goal is to make a profit and not to cannibalise sales you would have made anyway. Just because you get a great response, doesn’t mean you will have healthy margins. Plus, if you always offer a discount then you are teaching your target market that your prices are too high.The only time you should discount is when you believe you can gain an incremental purchase. For example, if you have a new visitor who becomes a repeat visitor a certain number of times but doesn’t buy, then perhaps a discount will help overcome this.Invitations: We invite you to attend a free seminar to learn more about XYZ! Invitations are used primarily for business to business direct marketing. Just make sure that you get enough attendees showing up on the day or it may be detrimental to your product or service.How you can add value to your offer to increase response?As an expert marketing consultant, I recommend four ways to add value and help lift the number of responses to your direct marketing efforts. I always tend to include at least three of these in every Direct Mail piece to help further overcome buyers inertia.1. Payment Terms: You should give as many options for payment as possible, and pay particular attention to the age group of your target market. Baby Boomers and beyond like the option of paying using bank cheques and many elderly buyers still do not know how to use the internet compared with younger generations who were brought up on computers. Other payment terms to consider include credit card purchases, BPAY, EFT Transfer, Cost on Delivery (COD), part payments revolving credit and offering open accounts.2. Response Methods: Some people like to pick up the phone while others prefer email contact. Either way, you need to ensure response options stand out from the remainder of the DM piece. These include Freecalls, 1300 numbers, switch numbers, coupons, faxes, email. I’d also like to point out that 1800 numbers (Freecall) are only free when you call form a landline. Many mobile plans charge for 1800 numbers over and above your monthly cap, which has recently aggravated many users in Australia. So beware!3. Endorsement Letters: These always prove effective provided they are legitimate! Testimonials and publishers letters are great to help endorse a product and overcome buyers inertia. I generally use three testimonials as a minimum to help sell a product or service.4. Money Back Guarantee: This is standard practice these days. If you believe in your product or service then you should include this anyway. Plus it helps reassure purchases without the need of viewing the product.
Mobile direct marketing is more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and has response rates that will blow your socks off. Here’s how mobile direct marketing differs from traditional direct marketing.1. A mobile direct marketing campaign is a piece of cake to implement. However, while traditional direct marketing can start with simply buying a list of prospects or buyers for your product or service, mobile is 100% opt-in. You cannot buy a list of mobile phone numbers and blast out your message.2. While traditional marketing typically starts with a list, an SMS marketing campaign starts with a campaign offering something your target audience would find valuable. This could be updates about your product or service, alerts or a coupon giving purchasers a discount.There are a number of ways to publicize the existence of your campaign; many simply are integrated with traditional advertising channels with a call to action to text a keyword to a short code. Acting on your call to action, your SMS message requires the person to opt-in to your database in order to take advantage of your offer. This is the basis of SMS marketing and how your mobile list is built.3. Mobile direct marketing is both efficient and eco-friendly. Traditionally, a company would spend money having flyers or mailers printed only to have 90%+ travel directly from the mailbox to the trash can.Since a mobile list is built with opt-ins, any marketing message subsequently sent is to people who have requested information on your product or service. In many cases, the consumer is actively waiting to hear from you. And, of course, since marketing messages are delivered via text messaging in most cases, there are no design, printing or mailing costs.With regard to coupons, how many times have you been at the checkout counter rummaging through your pockets or purse for that coupon you just know you have? Since a mobile coupon lives in a mobile device that is usually never more than three feet away from its owner, it’s kind of hard to misplace.4. One of the biggest differences between traditional marketing and mobile direct marketing is the conversion rate. Usually if a direct marketing campaign gets better than a tenth of one percent conversion rate, it’s cause to break out the pizza and beer. It is not unusual for a mobile SMS campaign to have a 20% conversion rate.5. Traditional marketing campaigns can put a web address in print, on TV or mention it on the radio as well as on many other advertising channels. However, there is a time lag between the consumer receiving the message and their ability to take the next step. More times than not, the initial message is forgotten or never acted upon.A mobile direct marketing campaign, by contrast, provides the means for the SMS advertising recipient to immediately take action and respond to the message. With this ability, response rates are much higher.
Every business has a vast array of media options available, which includes both Traditional Media such as TV, magazines, radio and magazines and New Media which includes the internet, emails, search engine marketing, viral campaigns and link building strategies.But no matter what product or service you offer, you must do a decent amount of research to determine how best to spend your advertising budget. This includes researching the target market and understanding what type of medium will work best to reach the largest amount of customers using the most effective method.But as this blog is part of a direct marketing series, I am only going to concentrate on effective media buying from the most popular direct marketing channels which tend to fall under the ‘traditional media’ umbrella. But due to the importance of the internet marketing nowadays, I’ll have to dedicate a separate blog to this essential marketing medium down the track.Direct MailI would have to say that direct mail is the most important DM medium. The reason why it’s so good, is that unlike other forms of marketing channels, you don’t have another medium carrying your message for you. With direct mail, you have total control over the branding and communication of your message.Direct Mail is the perfect blend of both advertising and sales. It allows you to present your product and service in a non-competing landscape, communicate directly with your target market while making an attractive offer, which helps to close the sale, all in one convenient envelope or package.The key aspects to remember before you spend too much on your direct mail campaign are as follows:
Match your existing customer profile as closely as possible before you rent a list. These include psychometric, geographic and demographic factors. If you don’t have any customers, then you need to undertake some basic marketing research.
Always rent your marketing lists before purchasing them outright. This allows you to test and measure the effectiveness of the list before roll-out. There is also no harm in asking for a discount when trialling a list. Many list rental companies may even waiver the set-up fee as a once-off.
Make sure you only select the most important criteria for testing the campaign. Don’t just test for the sake of testing, but look at key factors which provide the most effective means of getting a sale from your target market.Magazines and NewspapersHere are some general guidelines for choosing and buying the right magazine for your business:
Overall, I believe that frequency is a key driver in generating direct sales. Expect a good discount if you ran multiple ads in a publication.For newspapers, you need to consider the ad size and section of the newspaper. For example, an obvious choice of a travel product would be to go into the travel section. Although I have had previous success advertising a travel product in the business section of The Age, as there is no other competition to consider in this space.
You should test to establish the best publication. A scenario has been outlined for a Travel Insurance product in the attached spreadsheet so you can follow the calculations used to ascertain how much profit you can obtain from a publication: Measuring the Profit Index. You can even use this as a negotiating tool when buying advertising space in similar publications based on past results.
Measure the success by the response generated from the magazine circulation, not by the people reached. I feel that a publications reach can be somewhat over inflated, but circulation is exact.
Competitors who consistently appear in the same publications give a good indication that the publication is working for them. You can learn from your competitor’s experience.
Think about getting some bonus space to run a phone number or call to action message within the same publication to help lift response rates.
Consider audience lifestyle and the reading habits. For example, you don’t want to put a coupon into a magazine that people are going to keep – it just ruins it!Inserts vs On-page AdvertisingOnce you’ve chosen the media, this opens up the door for you to consider the different executions for your product or service. It would be worth your while to test stitched inserts vs loose inserts vs on-page advertising. Just remember the following key points beforehand:
Inserts are intrusive. You have to be fairly tactile and you would expect the reader to do something with them. i.e. coupons are generally used on inserts.
Loose inserts automatically fall out of magazines and can get thrown straight into the bin. But magazines automatically fall open at stitched inserts. So you have to make it stand out!
Inserts are more expensive, but they generally convert better than on-page advertising. This is because the pass-on value is higher, plus people can hold onto an insert longer than the publication.
For on-page advertising, you may wish to test right vs left page, or multiple vs single page advertising. It is important to measure the cost per call, and the cost per sale to help improve advertising efficiencies.TelevisionTelevision can definitely work for direct response marketing. Here are a few tips to get you started:
The key point is to be flexible with placement and to have the opportunity to test at different times.
Prime time viewing is great for branding and awareness and off-peak is better for direct response. Although if you can negotiate off-peak rates for prime time then I’d definitely test it.
Often fringe spots pull in a greater response than prime time, as consumers are generally engrossed in a high rating program.
Sometimes you will be able to negotiate your TV advertising on a per inquiry basis. This means that you only pay on a response basis.
By introducing top and tail commercial breaks. This means you run an awareness ad at the beginning of the break followed by a response generator towards the end of the end of the same break.
TV advertorials are considered an inexpensive way to provide a detailed message with call to action.
A well known personality endorsing your product or service will add credibility, as long as your personality is relevant to the product/service you’re trying to sell.Household DropsMany small businesses still include household mailbox drops as part of their overall marketing activity. Unfortunately you can’t judge how many people are going to put stuff in the mailbox on a day-to-day basis, which makes it very difficult to plan effectively. But here are a few tips to consider before you head down this path:
Planning your distribution is essential. Generally household drops result in lower response rates, which is why targeting the correct audience is absolutely imperative.
Don’t let your branding slide with this medium. Ensure your brand image is maintained and your product/service is positioned correctly.
You could even use radio or press as pointers to alert your target audience to the household drop to help boost response.Leveraging the MediaNow that you have an idea of some of the planning considerations and what type of deals you could negotiate for traditional media, I’d like to wrap up with some over-arching guidelines on how to leverage all media from the outset.Knowledge is Power: Your buying power and negotiating skills will increase once you start testing the market and dealing with account managers. You know what works for your business. The media doesn’t! So ensure you are hard-nosed when negotiating with all media. If you have trouble negotiating, then here are some pointers to get you started:
What we’re doing is working already, why should I go with you?
We’ll test for free. If it works then we’ll commit to a longer term campaign.
Advise the media that you have ‘distress’ funds available for testing.
Try to secure a royalty deal and only pay for the number of inquiries.
Get the media competing with each other for the best deal, while keeping the majority of your budget fluid all year.Contingency Planning For All EventsEvery small business marketing campaign should have a back-up plan for when the unexpected arises out of nowhere. If, for example, Australia Post decides to go on strike for three months, then you may have to utilise telemarketing to help achieve your sales targets. In turn, you will have to revise your marketing budget and revenue forecasts to cater for the additional expense of telemarketing.Planning also involves considerations when response rates exceed your expectations. This can be overcome if you incorporate some of the following practices:
Be flexible with your media buying. Buy on a short-term basis and increase media frequency if the ROI is good.
Make your campaign time limited.
Set limits for your customers. E.g. Offer limited to the first 200 callers.
Keep your database clean and up-to-date and avoid costly dead mail. Your database should be no more than 6 months old.
Plan your budget to increase activity if required. Sometimes it’s better to get extra brochures printed in the event your direct mail campaign takes off!