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Tough times! That's when Direct Marketing works

Direct Marketing

What mediums do you use to promote your products and services when business is tough? We direct marketers know that when times are tough, you need to get more efficient and more accountable. And the tools and techniques of direct and database marketing will help.

Ruth Stevens who consults on customer acquisition and retention and teaches in the graduate program in direct marketing at New York University shows us some of the ways to make your direct marketing efforts more effective in the current economic environment.

Sound advice for effective marketing

  • Generate better qualified leads. Use direct marketing campaigns to target high-potential prospects, qualify and look after the leads and pass them along to your sales team. Make sure every lead passed to sales is fully qualified and ensure that each lead is accompanied by all the information they need to make a successful call.

  • Clean up your database. Make sure that the customer details are reconfirmed at every point of contact. Talk to your service providers about the data hygiene options they offer. Also, contact your best customers to gather changes to their records; keep this function in marketing, rather than imposing it on sales.

  • Target and personalise. The power of a direct response communication is in its ability to speak to an individual and establish a personal connection. Personalise your messages, and speak in a natural "me to you'' voice.

  • Test, and test some more. It can be hard to persuade anybody to invest in testing, but it's worth the fight. Everyone has an opinion on what's good, but only testing will reveal what really works in the marketplace.

  • Make data analytics your competitive advantage. Profile your in-house file so you can prospect for same or similar people. Invest in statistical models to support campaign selection. Explore the data fields that are available for attaching to your database.

  • Be sensible about privacy. The rule is clear. Get permission to talk to your customers, irrespective of which medium you use.

  • Get noticed in the in-box. Dimensional packages are expensive, but for a high-margin product competing for attention from high-level decision-makers, can more than pay for themselves.

  • Develop retention programs for your best customers. Treat your best customers with special service levels, such as a dedicated telephone number or an event with your management team. Offer incentives to your good customers to do more business with you and migrate them upwards.

  • Set up automated communications streams. Much of your outbound communication is triggered by events, such as an order, a shipment or a seasonal sales opportunity. Take advantage of this predictability by automating the process with decision rules applied to e-mail, telephone or postal mail communications.

What you already should be doing in your business according to Lester Wunderman
Here are 10 steps you should take in response to current trends:

  1. Make direct marketing your strategy, not just a tactic. Direct marketing is a commitment to direct communication with the customer in everything you do.

  2. Focus on the consumer, not the product. The focus of all marketing should be on the consumer's need that has to be satisfied-not on the product that's for sale.

  3. Understand and Implement the true meaning of one-to-one advertising. The point of one-to-one, the idea behind it, "is that we should address the consumer with relevancy."

  4. Recognise that advertising and media have changed. "Now you have the ability to focus and to target your products to the right people. To choose the right mix of media, marketers have to know their own objectives.

  5. Use brand to your advantage. "Your brand is part of the overall product experience that you want to sell to your customer and it has to touch everything from advertising to packaging to customer service communications - and in every medium you're working in."

  6. Build relationships to build loyalty and lifetime value. The type of relationship is about an ongoing continuity of satisfaction.

  7. Treat media as a contact strategy. Whichever medium you're using, "Treat me as an audience that is respected." Wherever possible, every advert ought to have a way for the consumer to communicate back to you.

  8. Don't forget 'when.' Only customers know when they're ready to buy. And the great thing about direct marketing is that you often can find out when somebody is going to be ready to buy your product or service.

  9. Aim for share of customer, not share of market. 90% of most companies' profits come from repeat buyers. Spend more on keeping those customers.

  10. Use your database strategically. "If there's been any change in the past decade it's the knowledge we now can have about our customers." Strategically, the most essential tool is our customer base.

Lester Wunderman says: "Our ability as direct marketers to retain, understand and use that information is what will set us apart. There have been no radical changes in communication. Creativity is creativity. What has changed is the level of information we now have available."

The most valuable person any business can employ right now is one who can understand database technology and how to use it for marketing, because, as Wunderman points out, "A company is no better than what it knows."

For a comprehensive and informative guide on direct and interactive marketing, focusing on how to select, reach and retain the right customers, go to our Marketing Store for the brand new book, The Definitive Guide to Direct and Interactive Marketing.

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