The Direct Marketing Star of 2009

Direct mail and websites must be consistent. Especially if the consumer receives direct mail and decides to go online to respond.

But in 2009, I think you have to identify whether it’s direct mail, or your website, that plays the starring role. Only a few years ago there was little question that direct mail was the “center of the direct marketing universe.” But I think that is rapidly changing. Online is rapidly becoming the “direct marketing center of the universe” with its unique ability to support inbound marketing efforts. Not long ago, I would have said that a website supports direct mail. Today I think direct mail supports a website. I’m not sure you can “integrate” direct mail and your website, but there certainly must be continuity and consistency of offers.

That having been said, demographics of your customers must be considered. The parents of Baby Boomers tend to be readers and, I believe, will continue to read direct mail. They aren’t known to be web-savvy so they may rarely consider using the web to conduct additional research and transact business.

Baby Boomers are more likely to blend direct mail and the online experience. But I think there should be a huge concern to anyone using direct mail who is pushing response to a website. When a consumer reads direct mail, and you point her to your website, she might research other offers for identical products using keywords and key phrases that organically bring up competitive offers. If the direct mail offer didn’t sell her on doing business with you, she might find a competitor online, who has optimized their website, and get a better deal than you were offering. Which begs the question: if you are using direct mail, do you really want your customer to go online when they can be so easily distracted, and through organic search easily find and buy from your competition?

And the younger the individual, in their 20s and 30s, the more likely the web is where they go for community, social interaction, shopping, and entertainment, and research before they buy something offline. Any of us with teenagers or twenty-somethings see them mostly ignoring direct mail-and even e-mail solicitations. All they need comes from a computer screen, speaker and keyboard or, more and more, their cell phone they’re using for texting and surfing the Web.

Online search, cutting across most age groups, is where the marketing action is to find your website. If your website isn’t optimized, you might as well not exist. If you’re not capturing email addresses for email marketing, you’re leaving money on the table. If you’re not adding content every week, your organic website rankings will slowly sink. If you’re not thinking mobile technology, you’re missing lots of young people. If you want to keep your customer or donor plugged into your company, you need to do so with blogs and social media. And by all means, get Google Analytics tracking what’s happening on your website so you can see your results. It’s amazingly sophisticated and useful in its reporting, and it’s free.

The rules of direct marketing engagement have shifted. While direct mail and websites can, and must, co-exist, their roles are different today as consumers migrate more and more online. The economics of marketing online, and the desire of consumers to do business online, have, in my opinion, permanently shifted how we will market this year and beyond. It’s less and less of us pushing our wares to consumers and businesses. It’s more and more consumers and business searching for what they want, and that means as marketers it’s essential to get smart quickly about inbound marketing methods-positioning ourselves to be found-and the online experience.

Direct marketers that don’t recognize this fundamental shift now risk lagging behind when the economy perks back up. It takes months, even years, for search engine optimization techniques to grab a foothold. And, tomorrow’s strategies may be different from today’s, as that world is evolving quickly. So your challenge as a direct marketer is how to manage that shift so you retain your position in the marketplace and not let it be eroded by some smart Internet-savvy upstart who outmaneuvers you.

Direct Marketing – Brand Identity Guru Tips

If your company doesn’t have a direct marketing program in place, a direct marketing agency can create one for you. A direct marketing company provides small to very large customizable ranges of business-to-business and business-to-consumer direct marketing options sure to fit your needs. From database creation and maintenance to data analysis and creative program execution, a direct marketing company can take any existing direct marketing program, or a lack of one, and develop a highly efficient direct sales machine for your company.

A good direct marketing company employs experts in each aspect of direct marketing who have proven time and time again they have what it takes to create a successful direct mail campaign and turn your existing unorganized data into a powerful computer-readable customer database.

The goal of any successful direct marketing program is ultimately a positive effect on your bottom line. Good direct marketing programs are proven performers that will give you an edge over your competition. The direct marketing expertise and capabilities that a good direct marketing company offers will turn your direct marketing expenditures into successful investments.

Look for a company that has years of target market research experience ready to work for you. They will uncover who your best customers are and develop a direct marketing campaign that will get them to respond.

They should know how to impact behavior, get results and form the basis for long-term relationships with your customers and prospects.

Direct marketing abilities should include:

– Direct response advertising

– Customer relation’s management

– Data management services and data analysis

– Media planning, media buying and complete direct marketing campaign management

Seven HUGE Tips to Direct Marketing that gets results

Successful direct marketing takes planning and strategic thought…

1. Know your goal: What do you want your direct marketing to accomplish? What kind of impression do you wish to leave? Do you wish to inform your prospects about your product or just make them aware? Recently, Brand Identity Guru was asked by a client to expand its direct marketing efforts, so we created a direct marketing piece to showcase our client’s most attractive points. That direct marketing piece now accounts for 30 percent of the client’s new business.

2. Research: Don’t just have a list. Learn something about your customers so you can speak to them better. Discover their hot buttons, so you can push them.

3. Plan properly: The best direct marketing campaigns work along with PR, traditional advertising, brand strategy and efforts by your sales force. Ultimately, each piece is part of a larger total company campaign and should work together.

4. Be relevant: Direct marketing efforts should offer something your clients might want to buy.

5. Be conscious of details: Find the name of your primary contacts, and make sure you spell them right in the items you send to them. Even the best direct marketing piece is useless in the trash.

6. Be consistent: Use a series of pieces that speak to your customer’s needs. Don’t know what they are? Ask. Usually, December is not a good time because mailboxes are already overcrowded. Brand Identity Guru suggests waiting until February or another month.

7. Follow up: If you don’t follow up, the results of your direct marketing efforts could crash to a halt. Initiate a conversation with people on your list. A phone call a week or two after your mailing is a great idea.

Direct marketing is a powerful tool to capture your prospects’ attention and orders. If your direct marketing includes an attractive offer, imagine what the results will be. Throw in a brand-centric foundation and you have a direct marketing effort even more powerful than the sum of its parts.

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.

Direct Marketing Tools

In business, whenever you identify a new market that you know is going to be receptive and fruitful for your product and service then you also are soon faced with the problem that advertising in that market is not easy to obtain. This is due to the fact that most of the best publications are terribly expensive and it is possible that your advertisement might not appear for at least a few months.

In the face of such issues, direct marketing tools can come to your rescue. Direct marketing tools provide you with an effective way to carry out a test of the market relatively fast, at a much more reasonable cost and with convincing certainty. It would help you to determine whether this market was indeed the goldmine that you hoped it to be. You can use direct marketing tools like marketing databases that help you to generate a target list for a campaign of direct mailing. Obviously direct mail also works with the use of purchased lists. Direct marketing tools provide large companies with the capacity to go after defined markets with offers that are specialized. Apart from that, for smaller companies too using direct marketing tool has a variety of attractive advantages.

Direct marketing tool allow you to target recipients in a very precise manner. You can study your responses in far more accurate way and thus get better results that you can rely on. Direct marketing tools also give you the flexibility to build campaigns that fit your budget comfortably. Tools for direct marketing give you the edge of prompt results. In times today when marketing is becoming more and more competitive direct marketing tools can help your business get the edge that is required to realize success.