If you wanted a textbook definition, it might be: “direct marketing is the interactive use of advertising media, to stimulate an immediate behavior modification in such a way that this behavior can be tracked, recorded, analyzed and stored on a database for future retrieval and use.” But let’s examine the concept in a real-world setting to better illustrate.
In the past, an advertiser would design a marketing piece for print and then print as many as needed to saturate a given market by address. Everyone in that target area would receive a copy of the piece in their mailbox. Result – large numbers of unopened pieces upon receipt, or in other words, direct-to-trash. I do this myself. My mailbox and trashcan work as a team. Unless a piece that arrives in my mailbox catches my attention or interest, it immediately gets filed in the Big Blue Box on my curb. The advertising dollars that might have been recouped are lost at that point. Imagine the sheer tonnage in landfill waste and the burden on recycling facilities when you multiply this behavior one thousand fold, ten thousand fold, or even by the millions. Saturation marketing is wasteful to all involved. Your expensive message is lost and no one benefits.
Enter Direct Marketing; the smart way to get your message to your customers. Instead of printing thousands or millions of pieces and seeing a tiny fraction of a return on your investment, you plan ahead and aim your message at the people who are most likely to be interested. Think of it in terms of broadcasting versus pod casting. The former is aimed at everyone and reaches only a small fraction of your intended audience. The latter reaches a much smaller audience but those it does reach are far more likely to listen as you have aimed your message precisely at them.
Some points to keep in mind when designing a direct marketing campaign:
• It’s Interactive: One-on-one communication between a marketer and prospect/customer is communication that initiates that all-important 2-way dialogue.
• Multimedia Approach: Direct marketing is not limited to any one media. In fact, direct marketers have realized increased success when using multiple channels to deliver a message. Target your message, but broadcast it on all available channels.
• Achieve Measurable Results: Track, record, analyze: Measurability is fundamental in direct marketing. Every form of direct marketing should be measurable.
• Stored in a database for future use: Direct marketing is used to build databases in an effort to make future marketing efforts more efficient and effective. In fact, the more you use a list, the more effective it becomes as non-responders are weeded out.
The 40/40/20 Rule for Direct Marketing Success
40% of success is the list:
You must have a highly targeted, clean list. Mailing lists help marketers target businesses or customers, sell products or services, generate leads, drive traffic, sell subscriptions/memberships or persuade contributors. Having a clean, segmented mailing list is critical to the success of any direct marketing campaign.
There are many different types of lists and many resources available to help you become an expert in world of lists. While this can be done on your own or through your own resources, consider relying upon AlphaGraphics West End to provide expert handling of your next direct mail campaign. We can help you fine-tune your existing list or assist you in locating a new one tailored to your needs. Remember, the list is the most powerful piece of the direct marketing puzzle.
40% of success is the offer:
You must give your audience a compelling reason to act. There is an old saying in the world of direct marketing that a compelling offer can succeed even if selling copy is fair to poor. However, the most dynamic copy can not succeed if it is accompanied by a poor offer. It is recommended that you test offers to find the one that is most compelling for your target audience.
20% of success is everything else:
Don’t get hung up on creative. Offer and list are the most important elements. We need to be smarter marketers. Creative designs are less important than most think. Make sure that the message and the offer are compelling to your audience. A glitzy, glossy marketing piece means nothing if the substance of the offer doesn’t call your customer to action.