Direct marketing has been an advertising mainstay for decades, and with good reason. Direct marketing enables small-business owners to achieve their ultimate goal — a true one-on-one conversation with customers and potential leads. It’s a personal and highly targeted form of marketing; and when done correctly, direct marketing can provide tremendous returns in terms of revenue and customer loyalty.
On the other hand, when direct marketing isn’t done right, it’s a disaster. It results in wasted company resources, but more importantly, it alienates consumers. When that one-on-one window gets shut, it doesn’t merely mean that your current offer is rejected. Instead, that customer is turning on your company as a whole. It takes a lot to restore trust in that situation, and if the customer finds his/her way to a competitor, he/she may be lost forever.
With this in mind, here are some best practices for your startup’s direct marketing efforts. As is the case with all modern-day marketing, the more personalized you can make your direct marketing, the higher your small business’s success rate will be.
Nobody wants a formal letter addressed: “Dear valued customer.” Those days are long gone. Today’s technology enables you to make every communication as personal as you want. Why not use that ability to your advantage?
Personalize all of your direct marketing mailers as much as possible (without crossing the line of creepiness). At a minimum, you should open with the recipient’s name and a little information about why this specific customer should care about what you have to say. This will increase the reader’s trust, and it’ll hook him/her into reading more.
Because digital communication is so simple and cost-effective, it may be tempting to reach out to customers more often than necessary. Although you may have good intentions — after all, staying in the minds of your customers isn’t a terrible idea — you may do more harm than good by sending marketing materials a little too frequently.
All of your marketing communication should have a purpose. If you don’t have something going on that would interest the person you’re communicating with, you don’t need to send him/her anything. Remember, quality trumps quantity. If you spam your customer base, they’ll be quick to unsubscribe from your mailing list. However, if your direct mail pieces are timely and relevant, recipients will look forward to reading them.
It’s virtually impossible to get without giving. It’s true in life, and it’s also true in direct marketing. If you want the business of your leads, you’re going to have to make it worth their while.
Ultimately, the crux of direct marketing is the offer you present to your customers and leads. It should be an offer that doesn’t waste the time of readers. If it does, they won’t give your future mailings a second thought. However, if you have something substantial that will really encourage readers to consider their lives with your product or service, you’re on the right track.
All small-business owners aim to have a profitable direct marketing campaign, but there’s more to your offer than simply money. Your offer should also have a finite time limit that encourages people to act now. This combination of relevant content, real value and a limited time for action will give your startup its best chance at conversion.
An effective approach can quickly be undone if it never changes. As much as people value familiarity, they also want to be wowed by advertisers. If you’re not constantly striving to wow your customers, you may be missing the boat.
Changing your advertising approach is a great way to ensure that your company’s image never gets stale. It also keeps customers excited and interested in what you have to say. Consider the alternative: sending the same content with the same graphics, and the same calls to action. People would get sick of your message quickly.
Yet, if you make the effort to spice up your presentation, you’ll make greater inroads with your customers and leads. If your direct marketing is mostly email based, send a hardcopy letter via traditional mail every once in a while. Send videos via email or social media. Anything that’s a little different, but still adheres to the principles of direct marketing, is fair game. Use your imagination!
While it’s true that direct marketing can irritate customers, it doesn’t have to. By sticking to the fundamentals of direct marketing — personalization, relevant offers and trackability — you can achieve some great things while delighting your customer base at the same time.
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