Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing

According to the American Marketing Association  Direct Marketing is “The total of activities by which the seller, in effecting the exchange of goods and services with the buyer, directs efforts to a target audience using one or more media (direct selling, direct mail, telemarketing, direct-action advertising, catalogue selling, cable selling, etc.) for the purpose of soliciting a response by phone, mail, or personal visit from a prospect or customer.”

For many years, Direct Marketing (DM) has been used as a low cost way for companies to contact new or existing customers to raise awareness or generate sales dating back to 1872 according to Brandweek .

Examples include:
• Direct postal mail
• Email campaigns
• Leaflet drops
• Text Messaging
• Telemarketing
• Sending coupons or vouchers
• In-store product sampling
• In-store & Point-of-sale posters etc
• Issuing Catalogues
• Sending free gifts
• Use of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+)

A great DM campaign must be carefully planned and can be improved by adding creativity & uniqueness to the campaign. The method most appropriate for your business will depend on whom you are targeting, the message you want get across and response you want to generate. You can increase the effectiveness and reduce the cost of your campaign by only sending it to people who you think will buy your product/service, this is know as customer targeting. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
Brandweek 50,no.36.D1-D4 "The Next Generation of DIRECT MARKETING." Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, 2009,p.6.
Postal mail packs are still used and can prove highly effective among certain audiences. Postal mailing can take longer and be more expensive than online or email communications but can be used to communicate a sense of value around your company. By including a small piece of branded merchandise such as a USB stick or pen, you can increase the likelihood that your brand will be visible.

What you can include in a mailing pack:
• Cover letter
• Product sample (if small)
• Branded merchandise
• Posters
• Leaflets
• Brochures
• Promotional stationary with your logo (pens, rules, note pad)
• Photographs

Tips for a successful direct-mail campaign:
• Respect customers; don’t send them too many mailings.
• If you receive a rush or orders, ensure you can meet them without losing profit
• Maximise your response rate with an incentive such as a discount voucher.
• Include an expiry date on coupons & vouchers.
• Target customer most likely to purchase from you.
• When your campaign is over, record its costs, returns and rates of response.

Using your database
It is easier to sell to existing customers than to generate new customers. Your current customer database is a key asset to your business and must be updated & maintained regularly. If you do not currently have a customer database, start one in an excel document and record the main information about your customer such as name, address, telephone, email, website, company, position, age, gender, interest, past purchases. The information will differ depending on the type of business you are and they type of customer you have. You can also use a customer relationship management system (CRM) to store your customer details and track your interactions with them. Protect your database and remember to abide by legislation on storing and using customer data. Further information can be found on the Irish Direct Marketing Association’s website in the guidelines section . Retrieved 2012-03-25 

If you have a good database system you can track information about your customers and your business performance such as:
• Customer ordering behaviour - dates, frequency and timing of orders
• Customer order types – type, quantity & price of goods or services ordered
• Your total annual sales - the margin on these sales and their payment history
• Distribution details - postcode, type of area (e.g. urban or rural)
• Customer demographics - age, gender and details of their lifestyle or socio-economic status

With this information you can segment your customer audience by their demographics and target specific customers such as customers living within 10 kilometres of your business that purchase regularly but have decreased their purchases within the past 4 weeks.

Contacting consumers by telephone can be seen as an unwelcome interruption but it allows you to:
• Gauge the customer's interest immediately.
• Uncover customer perceptions toward your business.
• Ask questions to assess the customer's needs.
• Explain technical or complex messages more effectively.

In business-to-business  (B2B) marketing, telemarketing can be a way of:
• Building your database
• Generate leads and appointments
• Follow up responses to direct-mail campaigns
• Keep in touch with customers and renew relationships with lapsed customers
• Find out about industry developments and the activities of competitors

Again, refer to the Direct Marketing Association of Ireland for best practice guidelines.

Email marketing
Email is an extremely cheap form of direct marketing. If it is done using a system such as Newsweaver, you can track how many customer opened your mail, which parts they clicked on and which parts of the mail they liked the most. Email marketing allows you to send more information than postal mail and recipients can forward your mail to their friends or associates. You can include links to your website, order homepage, social media, online product catalogue and regular newsletters etc.

However, there are disadvantages to email marketing. Email contacts go out of date faster than either addresses or telephone numbers, so you need to be particularly active in updating your database. Email spam filters may prevent your message getting through.

SMS/Text marketing
According to Fleishman-Hillard, mobile phone penetration stands at 112% in Ireland .  Broadband, smart phone and iPad penetration are increasing. The growth in mobile technology has given rise to text message marketing which can include a text script of your choice along with graphics & links to your website (for certain models of phone). In 2012, companies such as Delta Force Paintball, SpecSavers and Xtravision have used campaigns. These campaigns include information about the product and price discounts.

This method has advantages:
• Messages can be sent out to groups of people quickly and relatively cheaply.
• Mobile phone users tend to take their phone with them for most of the day.
• Text message have a very high open rate compared to email marketing.
• The personal nature of mobile phones makes it a powerful marketing tool.

There are points to note with text marketing:
• Text message marketing can be an interruption to customers.
• You are limited by the amount of information you can send via text message.
• Check the Irish Direct Marketing Association for guidelines.
• Customers may be cautious of your message due to the rise in fraudulent text messaging.
• It is advisable to work with a professional agency to manage the cost and legal adherence of a text message campaign.

Get help with a direct-marketing campaign
Depending on the size of you business and its resources available, you may need to seek help with preparing your direct marketing campaign. Your campaign must be planned and implemented well to ensure its maxim effect for you. Consider using specialist assistance in these areas:
• Graphic Design and product of print materials.
• Use of third party to use their customer database.
• Distributor of mail, leaflets etc.
• Agency to assist with text message marketing.
• An Post for postal mailings.
• Copywriter.

Http:// Retrieved 2010-03-25

Robert Farrell