The Art of Creating and Maintaining Relationships Through Direct Marketing

If executed well, a direct marketing campaign can be a highly successful way to create and maintain relationships with both current and potential customers. The aim of building a relationship is to encourage loyalty towards your brand and products amongst your target market. In today’s highly competitive market place, the need to always consider more direct ways to contact your customers has never been more relevant.

A realistic definition of direct marketing might be:

‘Contacting current and potential customers via unsolicited means to increase sales and/or awareness of your brand and products’

Direct marketing does have plenty of benefits for the smaller business, mainly the reduced cost involved with this form of marketing compared to many of the other avenues available. However, the key downfall of direct marketing, especially when we’re talking about mail or telephone marketing is the cynicism of the people you’re likely to be contacting. The challenge of direct marketing is to get your customers to sit up and listen and take the next step towards a purchase.

To execute a good direct marketing campaign some things to consider include:

Does your database directly relate to your market segment?

Regardless of your contact method i.e. telephone, mail or e-mail you have to be sure that the people you’re going to send your information to are likely to be interested. Obviously, you can’t guarantee interest but you should research your market first to gain some information on the sex, age, gender, social group etc. of the key buyers of the products you are selling. You could easily do this by yourself from information you’ve gathered from past and present customers, or alternatively you could look into getting some professional research done. If you get this right you will immediately increase the success of your campaign; direct marketing isn’t about reaching a mass audience, it’s about reaching the right audience.

Is your message clear and concise?

Once your database accurately reflects your target market, you then have to think about your message. Here are some key elements to think about when writing copy for a direct marketing campaign:

Think about the buying process – what information does the buyer need to be able to move from thinking about buying to actually purchasing
Address their need, consumers won’t buy a product unless they can convince themselves that they have a need for it – your message has to create or address a need and offer a solution
How are you going to appeal to the customer? Are you going to use humour or are you going to try to stir emotions?
What’s going to make your message stand out more than all the others? You have to cut through the clutter and noise of all other advertising going on around your potential customers to make them remember your message
Try to provide a guarantee or reduce the risk involved in the purchase. If the time, money or effort lost on buying your product or service is going to be reduced somehow the decision to buy instantly becomes easier.
Offer the customer a way to contact you before you contact them.
How are you going to follow up your initial contact?
So, your potential customers have received your direct mail. They may be thinking about getting in touch with you, or they may be shopping around to make sure they get the best deal. You need to follow up your initial contact with a telephone call or e-mail. Things to consider for the follow up call include:

Provide the customer with reasons why your product and service is better than others in the market
What are the added benefits of buying with you? Do you have a competitive advantage that stands out from your competitors?
Settle the customers mind and answer their questions confidently
Reiterate the ways in which your product or service could solve their problem.
The prime aim is to make a sale, but as we all know this is easier said than done, the secondary aim is to build on your relationship. Try to build some rapport so that at the very least you get the chance to call them back again or meet with them. Finally, if you have a good customer base you should make the most of it. Use the contact forms to ask your customers if they would like to receive further information on your products and services. ‘Yes’ responses can be put into a database. Obviously we would recommend that you are careful about sending promotional information to your customers, you must allow your customers the option to opt in/out of any promotions regardless of how you intend on sending the information to them.

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How to Choose the Best Direct Marketing List Broker

Whether you are looking to do a mail out, a telemarketing campaign or wanting to reach prospects by email, direct marketing is an effective and affordable way to reach out to potential customers.

The lists you use will determine the success of your direct marketing campaign. Determining who to target the list is a crucial process and establishing your criteria will help you get the best results.

You may want to find a list of consumers or businesses who have purchased products or services similar to yours, or who fall into the demographic profile or income range you are trying to reach.

With thousands of direct marketing lists to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. Evaluating list suppliers and finding the right direct marketing lists for your particular campaign can be over whelming.

A direct marketing list broker represents all available lists in the direct marketing industry. they will help you find the best list by understanding your target market. The brokers serve as your guide, providing list recommendations for your marketing efforts.

If possible, look for a list broker who has experience working with clients who target the same type of customer you’re trying to reach. If you are trying to fund raise look for a broker with experience with working with non-profit organisations, or if you are looking for to market to other businesses, look for a brokers with B2B experience.

Is the list broker accessible: Do they call you back? Do they answer your emails in a timely fashion? Do you feel they are trying to build a relationship for future business endeavors? Good brokers realize that relationship building offers other opportunities down the road.

You should ask how the data is compiled and how often it is updated. Ask to see a sample of the data. Before buying the list you should make sure how it looks like, what information is included.

Be aware that good data comes with a cost. Give your budget for the campaign up front so the broker will know if he can accommodate you and your needs.

Also, ask the broker about their customer service and satisfaction policies. A good list broker will stand behind their services, should you get anything other than the list that you ordered, the broker should do whatever it takes to replace it immediately or provide a full or partial refund.

You can search for reviews of the list broker, the internet has no shortage of places to post reviews of customer service. Don’t be afraid to ask for previous customer’s testimonies.

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