Direct Marketing

Too many organisations perceive direct marketing as just direct mail. This is not the case. Direct marketing is a marketing method and direct mail is just one of the initiatives available. It may well form over 50% of what is done under the direct marketing heading, but it is slowly being overtaken by the increasing number of press and TV ads with some sort of direct response devise –  e.g “Text Tell me more to 12345.”49936-on_target_direct_marketing

To me direct marketing could also come under the bracket of “pull marketing” where prospects are
being directly targeted and enticed in a companies’ marketing activity to respond; they are being “pulled.”

Anyway, no matter what heading or category direct marketing  is put under, each marketing initiative must have some sort of response mechanism which identifies the prospect and allows him or her to start a conversation with your organisation which could well lead to an appointment and (hopefully!) a problem-solving discussion and a business relationship.

But, don’t forget existing clients when you are looking at direct marketing. If you have got something new to say or are about to launch a new product or service, then existing clients should be given priority and should hear about this first!

There are loads of direct marketing companies and agencies out there who will tell you how to do mass mailings, but identify your market and tailor your  messaging. I’m not a fan of “buy now while stocks last” or “BOGOF” campaigns, but the underlying idea could be adapted. For example, target those people with a relevant need for your product or service and have the response go to a named and labelled person within your organisation; maybe even configure a new email address or phone number purely for direct marketing purposes?

Put yourself in the position of the receivers of your offer message – “How can I get hold of this?” – ……….and make it easy for them!

Do not Forget About Offline Marketing

Even if you do business entirely online, that is no reason to ignore valuable offline marketing methods. Order signs or bumper stickers and put them on your vehicles. Consider advertising in free and inexpensive classifieds such as local directories. b6430-marketing2binitiatives

Use business cards, fliers, promotional materials, thank you notes and other printed items. Consider going to meet-ups or live events. If you do, give people you meet something interesting to remember you by.

Promotional products that have a useful purpose can keep your business name in front of your clients a long time.

  • 85% say they do business with the advertiser
  • 88% remember the name on their products
  • 91% have promotional products in their kitchen
  • 74% keep products in their work areas
  • 83% say they want to receive promotional products
  • 53% use their promotional products weekly
  • 47% keep them for more than a year

Might be a good time to speak to Bath Marketing Consultancy?!

 

 

Time your sales call

Making a direct sales call to a prospect is still something that may well play a major part in the way you facilitate sales and as such you want to catch your prospect at their desk, in a receptive mood, and without a secretary or voicemail barriers. To do this it is likely that before or after official office hours (9am-5pm) is most likely. Not only are these times the most productive for a lot of decision makers, but they might be more open to having a discussion.

I’ve yet to find any data regarding the best day to make the call however, some claim that Monday mornings and Friday evenings are not ideal. I would disagree! From my experience is that both these days can work well if you play the game!

i.e At such moments, prospects are indeed likely to be concerned with other matters, but that pressure makes them want to get rid of you quickly and since the general rule is that they are not rude, the quickest and easiest route “out” for them is to give you what you want; an appointment. Try it!

On a more serious note, I would avoid making prospecting phone calls in the central part of the day as people may well be harder to reach as they might be out of the office, at lunch etc. You might well reach the dreaded answerphone so have a strategy to decide on about how to overcome it. I’ve written some advice on the answerphone in a previous post if you need some advice.

Whatever times and days you trial, you may well find your own pattern that works for you and to give yourself the best chance of getting that meeting, always be courteous, friendly, professional and honest.

What sometimes really helps this type of call is having something to discuss like a brochure or a sales aid that you have sent in advance of the call as you can use this as a bit of an ice breaker, but what form should a brochure take?

This could open a can of worms, but I’ve written about how to get the best from a company brochure in a previous article. if you need some tips.

 

Internet Marketing – 3 eras.

Do you have a website?
Of course you do; you couldn’t resist it eh?!!!
After all everybody has a website these days so you had to have one too. How did you go about finding someone to help you? Yellow Pages? Google? Find a friend? Either way, one of the main problems with a lot of websites is that they fall into the “About Us” category……they all look the same and say the same thing.

To make your website stand out, you must do something different. Remember the rule – “be helpful” – and that means offering interest and/or value. For example, a website that offers advice, tips, free data, training, instruction or even has a game of some sort is more likely to illicit some sort of response which ideally takes the form of someone identifying themselves and/or giving up their details.

We feel that Internet Marketing could be grouped into 3 “eras:”

Yesterday – the first era of Internet Marketing
This was the online brochure era. If you “were on the web” you were cool! Just being able to show your company there lead to an immediate increase in status! Then came the hip design side of the web usually created in “Flash” with lots of whizzy bits, colours and design bits. This then lead to all sites looking the same – the About Us syndrome.

Today – the second era of Internet Marketing
People have started to include something of value to their site visitors. About YOU vs About Us! These sites build traffic and relationships by giving the visitor access to information. The hoped-for payoff is that they then navigate around the site clocking up page views and possibly enquiring.

Tomorrow – the third era of Internet Marketing
The purpose of the website has shifted full scale in this era. The purpose is now to crystalise the company’s personality – to provide a rich and interactive experience; to make the company seem like an old friend before you’ve met the people behind it. The stylistic effects used are not for self indulgence, but for the identity of the company.

Need any help? Email Bath Marketing Consultancy

Public Relations for Purpose

Over the last few months a number of clients have asked me about PR and whether it is an area to explore as part of the marketing mix. Yes, I replied, but are we both clear on exactly what PR is?!

Although not a core service offered by Bath Marketing Consultancy, PR can prove very fruitful. Let’s start by clarifying what it actually stands for. In my opinion, PR stands for press relations as well as public relations and, when implemented correctly and strategically it can effectively contribute to winning new business both directly and indirectly.

PR is not just about column inches in the local press. PR should address attitudes and consumer perception. It should be used

to tantalize your public into following up on your stories and so revealing themselves as prospects and press relations are a good way of achieving the above.

PR can be used for a number of purposes (managing a reputation, dealing with a disaster, promoting a new product etc etc), but one clear objective could very well be the opening of new doors. This is done by actively targeting your public to contact you rather than simply raising awareness of your organisation and/or products. PR can generate leads and can provide great support to a new business drive, but the message you use must be in harmony with the other marketing activity you do.

While you cannot force the media to feature you or your press releases, always supplying a contact name and phone number as an integral part of your actions is a must. Keep your organisation’s name consistent across your releases and ensure your colleagues do so e.g decide whether to use the full name, initials etc.

You will find that PR will generate its own “atmosphere” within which new business activities can flourish as PR often softens the actual selling process.

But what stories do we submit to the media??

Always aim for stories of interest.
Research – maybe research based either on behalf of an external client or bespoke research.
Reports – maybe on an industry or a market on which the company has a view
Trends – maybe predictions or influences trends have had to your organisation
Compelling stories – maybe a marketing success and/or a human interest story
Client generated stories – maybe a new business win, a case study on how the results were achieved
News – maybe a new appointment, some industry gossip or extracts from a diary

Whatever you decide to submit, try not to give the whole story away in one article. Ideally, you should look to tease and tempt so that the media come back to you for updates + the prospects will enquire direct to you to find out more!

The Company Brochure

Yes, of course you need some sort of “company brochure.” It will frequently be requested by outsiders and often be left behind by you or your staff as a calling card. Your own staff, any new recruits as well as potential staff will all expect you to have a brochure of some sort, but I feel it is unlikely to be the means to winning new business. I very much doubt that potential clients will make their selection of who to work with on the basis of the company brochure and I suspect that they will have a low probability of reading it. It is likely that it will be seen as a calling card at best which is filed for reference or as junk and filed in the recycling bin at worst.

The process of putting together a brochure is not an easy one. It can take months or even years and evoke all sorts of passions within a company (it can also bring out company rifts too!). Not forgetting the expense incurred by the company – the hours in discussion re the design, the arguments re the budget, the quality of the print, the presentation format and even the actual quantity required!

At the end of this massive process when the numerous boxes of brochures do finally arrive in their hundreds at your office, one question that can arise is………..”what do we do with them now!?” This is because more often that not no thought has been given to this as the focus was given solely to the look and content forgetting the actual application!

What tends to happen is that someone decides to just send them out and or give them out willy nilly to avoid the boxes cluttering up the office so these expensive documents are mass mailed to all and sundry, and guess what…….nothing happens! Not a thank you. Not a congratulatory note and not a whisper of new business.

Another common problem with the company brochure in my experience is that they tend to be written in house and contain lots of “we do…..” and “the team does…..” showcasing what the organisation does rather than show what help and benefit the organisation brings.

I’m not meaning to come across as some sort of grumpy old man here. I’m just passing on my experience in the hope that this article might help you sit back before rushing in and spending thousands on something that could go to waste!

So what does Bath Marketing Consultancy suggest you do when it comes to the company brochure? Well, to be honest the answer to this is something that might be better discussed over a coffee, but I feel that the planning and production of the company brochure should be seen as a necessary starting point in a process of producing a range of print material for the company. The thinking should be extended maybe to the corporate ID and general design issues like signage and stationery. Once the decision process about the brochure has been got out of the way, the real creative thinking can start which is where you aim at producing genuinely client orientated, helpful marketing material that will be collectable rather than binable!

Preparation

How do you set about getting “leads?” How do you qualify them? How do you quantify them?
There is an equation that can help you in the decision process – Q x 2 – Qualify = ensure that they are in the target group to buy from you; Quantify = has their organisation the budget? i.e i the suspect a proper prospect?

If you are a new business then you might be able to draw up a lengthy and detailed list of companies you want to talk to. Constructing your “wish list” should be relatively simple in the early stages after all, you know your market, you read the local and trade press etc. But, remember the list can be long; 100 + names as a minimum so as to give yourself a broad target to aim for and to allow for the contacts who may well be unresponsive at the first attempt.

I don’t think it is possible to have too many leads. In my experience when working for News International and Miller Freeman, leads were aplenty. The stumbling block was actually having enough leads as your list will shrink!

So, consider purchasing a database. Many are available for sale, of variable quality. Then there are platforms like online and paper directories where you can research possible leads. Having said that, leads can come from anywhere. Networking, the press, sign boards, sponsorship of events and even job listings. The key thing is that you find out as much information as you can before you commence your marketing activity.

But what activity to undertake? Have a read of these other posts as they might help you decide……

Sell the benefit NOT the features or techniques

When dealing with prospects, there is often an overwhelming temptation to talk about what interests you, i.e the features of what you are “selling” or the mechanics, rather than the benefits that should accrue to the prospect as a result of working with you. As a professional, features will interest you. As a potential buyer, the prospect may share your interests, but equally may well be solely interested in the end result. It is your job therefore, to make sure that your message outlines those benefits in a clear and concise way….a sort of “and this is what you can get” rather than a “and this is what it will do.”

For a number of clients, going into detail about the actual mechanics of what you do could work against you so I suggest you keep them in a black box only to be opened if requested. If you follow this type of approach, it will allow you to adopt a sort of “laddering” approach with your marketing; moving from feature to benefit with transitions such as:

“..and this provides you with….”
“….which means you’ll be able to ….”
“….allowing your company to….”

My suggestion is that you try this out; practice it when running marketing initiatives and always remember to use the word “you” or “your company” which are words for that personal focus. Your marketing should be about reassurance and keeping things simple!

If you need any help, get in touch with Bath Marketing Consultancy…..

Don’t be afraid to test

As the title says, don’t be afraid to test new ideas when it comes to marketing. Marketing theory is all built around the principle of pre testing especially since the financial commitment and risks involved in mass marketing can be large. Therefore, why not look at small scale evidence as a precursor to anything larger?

Many of your proposed initiatives may well be accessible to small-scale, toe-in-the-water trials which could be evaluated before a full commitment of that initiative is made.

For example, mail shots. These can be pre tested on a small section of your database or a mailing list and the reactions monitored. By keeping the postage cost and print run small, anything negative could be restricted to a few tens of clients/prospects. Similarly, if you wanted to use a new presentation or creds document, why not test it with existing clients initially?

For advertising, company identity and literature, unfortunately the commitment is likely to be all or nothing. This doesn’t however, stop you approaching to a sample of clients with something rough or unfinished to test the concept. But…….you must be prepared to act on this feedback even if it halts your creative juices!

When it comes to testing your marketing, remember the customer is always king; accept their verdict and go back to the drawing board if necessary – your next idea will be even better for doing so!

Remember the competitive framework

Yes, I know I’ve said it before, but…..I do think it deserves repeating.
Everything you do in your business is very likely going to be released into a noisy world; a world full of competition and a world where some people will have more money than you. So, to be successful and to give yourself the best chance possible, be creative, be loud, be professional and, above all, try and be different. This is not Bath Marketing Consultancy trying to scaremonger you or us trying to make a plea for you to make an appointment to see us – it is a must. If not adhered to, your message will drown and you marketing budget will likely drown too.

Also, please consider professional help. You cannot be an expert at everything. We outsource our accounts, some of the legals and contract work that needs doing when running your own company as well as some of the initiatives we advocate such as print and media.

It really is a false economy to try and do things on the cheap and in house, especially when it comes to marketing. Yes, you may be able to write a good line or you may even be able to draw a bit, but his doesn’t make you a creative or a marketing professional. Nor, to be honest, does it make you objective. An outsider really can reveal new insights and create a revolutionary approach that will really impact and shake up the market.

Good luck and I hope this helps.