It's all Drew's fault if I'm thinking about this.
In his 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, Drew McLellan reminded me that many of the things I've been doing well over the years are still worth doing. Even in this new age of social media.
"You know too much", he writes in one of his short articles; "you get tired of your message much quicker than your audience does," he says somewhere else. The book is easy to read, a must for recent graduates and young marketers, and a very good refresher for those of us who have been at it for years. For several days after I read it I was buzzing with ideas.
Because direct has been a staple in our marketing mix for years, we tend to forget how valuable a tool it can be, when harnessed properly. But before I delve into my experience with this tactic, a short paragraph on definition. What does direct mean? Larry Kimmel, CEO of G2 Direct & Digital says that:
Direct marketing is a method that seeks to implement the most efficient and effective marketing communications initiatives. It's not a channel, or even a series of channels, but rather an approach: accountable communications that are designed to measure return on investment (ROI).
This according to Kimmel includes many of the people who are in interactive marketing and those who work in search. What response does your communication drive? What percentage or number of sales? What is the lifetime value of those sales? These are some the questions you can answer to qualify the contribution that direct makes to the company's profit. There are many kinds of direct marketing initiatives.
- The branding campaign -- Back in December, I shared first the genesis and then the results of a customer gift campaign we ran. It was designed to thank our customers for a good year of business together and to continue building on our reputation of sharing expertise. Another example of that is our yearly wall calendar. We produce one designed by us for customers of a specific line of products -- fun stickers with anniversaries, trade conferences and fishing days included.
- The announcement mailer -- we have done several over the years. Our latest one was a dimensional piece that had a fishing lure included with it. Because the audience was people who enjoy recreational outdoors activities, that was very appropriate. The lures generated great buzz about the anticipated changes in our products' use and was coordinated with a press release on trade publications. We projected a conservative growth of between 10-20%.
- The in-season product or service reminders -- we design these with our audience in mind. Depending on the needs of the buyers of our products, we share data and information on benefits that is timely to our customers. We are a B2B company, and we have used direct mailers as tactics to build conversations around our products with our customers' customers. It reads like a riddle, but it works. By supporting the sales of our customers, we strengthen our relationship. And that is good for top line growth.
These are just some examples, of course. Direct means getting into the hands and minds of your prospects and customers. There is an element of permission you should consider. Whenever I work with lists, I incorporate the feedback of the people who receive our mail into my thinking. If someone wrote to me asking to change their address, or to opt out of the list, I do what they ask.
When I can talk with the addressee I am very lucky, as I often gather invaluable information about how they see our mailers and why they do not want to receive them. Feedback is good. We rent our lists, so I take great care to develop relationships with the people who do that with us: publications and database companies get my help to clean up their files every time we measure the results of a mailing and campaign.
As for our customers, they usually can't wait for the next year to see what we come up with for a gift. They give us their new mailing address in anticipation. I thank Drew for sending me a free copy of his book: this was indeed a benefit. What types of direct marketing have you used successfully?