If you are not getting the sales you want, effective direct marketing systems are probably not part of your marketing toolkit.
Mass marketing methods used to work, but these days, traditional marketing to mass audiences is very wasteful. In his book, Permission Marketing, Seth Godin claims that, on average, we are subjected to around 3,000 marketing messages each day. The message we need to understand from this situation, as marketers, is that it is becoming far more difficult to get our message through to our market, because the clutter of marketing messages makes it almost impossible to attract attention.
With the effectiveness of mass marketing methods having deteriorated over the years to the point of relative ineffectiveness that they have now reached, the most important strategy for us in marketing has become identifying and targeting our most receptive audience. Marketing now needs to be up close and personal to be effective. It does not matter how good our message is and what media we use, if we are not directing our communication to someone who is desperately hungry for our product we stand little chance of success.
Can you describe your ideal customer? To effectively target your customers you need to be able to describe the ideal customer in intimate detail. To more effectively communicate with your target market, you need to know the physical and geographic elements that describe your ideal customer, what makes them tick and why they like your product. Having identified our target market, we now need to find out how to communicate our message. This element has two aspects: what is our message and what media we use to deliver it.
Our message to our market must achieve a five things:
1. Attract the attention of our target market by addressing a specific need
2. Present an attractive solution to satisfy the particular need
3. Present proof that our solution is the best
4. Create an urgency to seek the solution now, and
5. Motivate action to obtain the solution.
Our message need not necessarily be delivered in a single communication, although if it can be effectively done in one hit, only use one hit. However, for many products or services, a series of communications may be required to effectively deliver the message. Our direct marketing system is what we need to design to deliver our message appropriately. Our direct marketing system will comprise as many steps and methods as we need to work our way through these five stages of acceptance.
Our initial direct marketing messages must be directed towards generating leads by attracting the attention of the people in our market who have the need our product addresses. It will depend on the maturity of our market as to how much work we need to do at this point. For new products, lead generation may require considerable work to educate the market about the existence of the problem before you can present your solution. For more mature products, a need is often very apparent.
Once we have attracted attention, our aim is to get those people to identify themselves as having the particular need, so that we can turn our efforts towards lead conversion. This is achieved through the final four steps of our direct marketing system. The scepticism that exists in the world today means that you have to work hard to get your market to accept your product is the best solution to meet their need. You must be careful how you make this claim. It must be believable and acceptable.
We all tend to procrastinate and put off taking action to the last minute. You need to overcome this inertia by creatively communicating reasons to “do it now.” Using the concept of impending loss is the most effective method to achieve urgency. This can often be achieved through communicating scarcity and the risk of missing out if immediate action is not taken. This could also be achieved with the risk of a price rise leading to a perceived loss of the price difference if the purchase is left to after the price rise. However, there are many other ways to communicate urgency and it is best to be creative rather than use tired and unimaginative methods that customers may see through and regard as mere techniques to get them to buy now.
The most important element after getting this far is to motivate action to buy. Many marketing communications are weak at this point. Many ads we see promote a product and do everything else right, but leave out the call to action. Subtlety is an ineffective marketing tool. You need to tell your customers what you want them to do to buy your product.
The final step in developing our direct marketing system is to determine the appropriate media to use. Many people make the mistake of thinking about media first and then developing the message. This often happens when you have an advertising sales person pressuring you to buy space in their media. This approach leads to poor or worse, zero results. When you have identified your target market and developed the appropriate messages, the decision about media is much easy to work out. Often, it will depend on how easy your target market is to reach. You need to use the most efficient means of attracting the attention of the people most ready to buy. In lead conversion processes, you may use a combination of direct mail, internet (email and web sites), or personal selling approaches, again depending upon the ease of reach.