Powerful PR Lessons from Successful Direct Marketing Techniques

Direct marketing–including catalogs and Internet sales–is a $1.85 trillion industry in the U.S. that accounts for 7 percent of total U.S. sales, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Direct marketers make their money by understanding exactly what customers want and giving it to them. Here are five key public relations lessons to learn from direct marketing:

Target your message

Successful direct marketing is targeted. It gets the right offer in the right format to the right people who have an interest in or a need for a manufacturer’s product. Direct marketers spend millions of dollars creating and refining mailing lists and subscriber profiles to find just the right consumers to buy their product.

Direct marketers don’t try to be everything to everybody. They use their budget wisely to reach only the people who are their best prospects and reach them frequently enough to encourage new sales and spur repeat sales.

How targeted is your message?

Do you write your brochures, advertisements and radio commercials with your typical customer in mind? Is your message telling them how they can solve their problems, achieve their dreams, or meet their needs? Direct marketers know that customer benefits outsell product features. Targeting your message to your most likely buyers will make the best use of your budget and yield the most sales.

Test your message

Direct marketers base their ad copy, list purchase, media buys and graphic design on research and industry information. Testing is a basic part of successful direct marketing. Direct marketers will take two versions of an ad–one with slightly different copy from the other–or two different lists, or two different regional versions of the same magazine–and run their campaign tests. All the research in the world can’t substitute for testing. Research gives you a theoretical answer. Testing validates your theories in the real world.

Many business owners give up on marketing if their first ads don’t send customers flooding into their stores. Or they abandon advertising in a magazine if one ad doesn’t make the phone ring. Direct marketers know that it is often the message–not the medium–that needs to be adjusted to speak more persuasively to the customer. Don’t be too hasty to give up on a whole type of advertising because one effort did not bring a crowd. Change your ad, re-write your mailing piece, adjust your list and try again. When the right message reaches a receptive potential customer, sales happen.

Change your definition of success

Direct marketers are patient. They understand that testing is essential to capture sales. But they also have a realistic idea of success. Depending on the size of the campaign, the type of product and the break-even cost, some direct marketers consider a response of 1 – 5 percent to be very successful. They know that large percentages aren’t realistic.

A campaign’s success also depends on its purpose. Some offers are made just to generate leads in order to build a better mailing list for the next offer. Those campaigns are focused on screening out non-buyers, not necessarily on selling product. Getting 1,000 names of people who are interested out of a mailing of 10,000 people on a list might be very successful under those conditions.

Make sure you have defined success in a way that is realistic and based on solid criteria.

Tailor your offer

Direct marketers know that the magic is in the way the product is offered. Are you selling closet shelving–or an organization system? Is your product an air cleaner–or a way to reduce indoor air pollution?

Even the way the price is stated makes a difference. If you’re having a sale, is the price half off, fifty-percent reduced or two for one? Direct marketers know that different ways to say the same thing get different responses. Make sure that your offers are tailored to what encourages your customers to take action.

Know your customer

The most important lesson is to understand your customer. Find out what the customer is really purchasing when he buys your product. Direct marketing success happens when in-depth customer knowledge is used to tailor an offer, create a targeted, customer-oriented message that is tweaked and perfected through testing, and that produces profitable results.

Even if your business doesn’t currently use direct marketing, you can apply its wisdom to your public relations process to increase your business success.

Direct Marketing: The Business of the 21st Century

Direct marketing is truly the preferred business of the 21st century. Why? We are quickly discovering that we cannot rely on the standard of working for someone else, so it only makes sense that we would look to other resources to change our life. I am going to share with you more about direct marketing, how it works, and why people are turning to it for their livelihood.

What is it?

So, what is direct marketing? This type of marketing is no doubt different from what you are used to. The reality is that direct sales are what make a difference in the lives of others, from the perspective that you can sell to folks directly. People love being served and they like knowing that if there is a challenge with something they have purchased, that they can come to you directly for help.

Direct marketing is simply marketing something directly to an individual, and in some cases it can be a business. It doesn’t matter what the product is as long as it’s something that is needed by whomever you are marketing to. Over the years, this has been referred to as network marketing and even MLM, or multi-level marketing, which receives criticism from many people due to how it works, and how folks get paid.

The reality is that there isn’t anything wrong with direct marketing, and the truth is that if you are marketing a real, viable product that people need, then you have a business. Those who are encouraging you to recruit others without a product or service of value, are involved in pyramid schemes and should be avoided.

How it Works

Now that you know more about what direct marketing is, how does it really work? This type of marketing is actually rather simple, in that it includes a personal decision to sign up, get training for the product and service you are providing, make sales and also recruit other people to do the same. The more sales you make and the more people you recruit, the more you will get paid.

Direct marketing means that you yourself are marketing to the public. This can be done by traditional methods such as advertisement via radio, newspaper, or television. In these current times these advertising strategies are known as offline methods. Now that we are in the 21st century, marketing is changing, meaning that most of it is now online. This not only makes it easier to market to those you already know and have as customers, but you are also going to be able to market to those you don’t know more effectively by using the internet.

Imagine that now you have all of the opportunity in the world before you, and you don’t do anything with it. Shame on you, because this is why most folks who get involved in direct marketing DON’T make any money. Because you can now use the internet to make yourself known, you will be able to market to billions of people versus only a handful.

What’s Next?

Now that you know how you can make direct marketing work for you, are you ready to get involved? You can make good money in direct marketing, and it’s very satisfying.

Now that you know what direct marketing is and how to make it work effectively, you can get involved. It gives you the opportunity to earn money which is proportional to your efforts and build a rewarding and profitable business.

Reach More Customers With Direct Marketing

Direct marketing, including direct mail, telemarketing and email marketing, is the most traditional and cost effective form of advertising. While television and radio advertisements have the ability to bring in a lot of business, they are expensive and cannot target an ultra-specific audience. Direct marketing, however, has the ability to focus on a specific group of people and present them messages tailored distinctively for them.

Direct marketing encompasses the traditional method of direct mail, as well as telemarketing. Email marketing is also a very low cost method of advertising that is sent to consumers directly. In an effort to cut down on waste and build a customer base, direct marketing requires a significant amount of research. Defining your target audience will help you streamline your message and send materials directly to those folks, instead of blanketing a region with the same, generic message. This research is an ongoing process, and should be constantly tweaked as a result of the response you receive.

The goal of direct marketing is simple: Turn people into customers through a series of advertisements that peak their interest. Peaking their interest can be a challenging task. Direct mail can be seen as “junk mail” and thrown out before it is even fully read. How often have you received “junk mail” and thrown it out before reading it? Think about what it would take for a piece of direct mail to grab your attention and cause you to read it. Put those characteristics into your direct mail. In order to grab the attention of a perspective customer, you must make your direct mail stand out. Use a simplistic, yet eye-catching, design and copy that is compelling and inspires the reader to take action.

It is easy to send out a mass email or mass direct mail campaign that encompasses a wide area of people with a picture of your product and it’s price. However, this is not the most effective way of direct marketing. Research must be done to tailor your advertisements to a select group of people. Let’s say you’re in the electronics business. About 150 of your clients and people who give feedback either in-store or online are people who regularly buy surround sound speakers. Shouldn’t your message to them specifically target their interest in surround sound speakers? Finding a group of people who show interest in a particular product makes it easy to craft a direct mail or email advertisement that peaks interest and inspires people to become either first-time or repeat customers.

The next time you are trying to figure out how to reach more people and increase your bottom line, consider the proven effective strategies of direct marketing. Putting time and effort into the proper research to craft an advertisement that is compelling will surely pay off in the long run and significantly increase your profit margin.