Direct marketing is a tried and tested method for engaging current customers or converting potential ones. With low relative costs and a good return on investment, direct marketing is a great choice for start-ups and small businesses that may be working with a minimal marketing budget.
What is direct marketing?
Direct marketing involves unsolicited contact with potential customers, using a variety of mediums such as email, in order to secure future sales or raise awareness of the brand or particular product/service. Large audiences are generally utilised in direct marketing in order to bolster the chance of making an impact. The recipients chosen may be found in a variety of different ways; contact details may be bulk bought or can be searched for and found due a particular quality e.g. close geographic proximity or group affiliation.
Why use direct marketing?
Direct marketing offers a higher return on investment than many other forms of marketing. Because the numbers contacted are often considerable there’s a good chance of gaining benefit, and the hike in campaign costs is generally minimal as numbers increase. Direct marketing also allows you to test campaigns by targeting fewer recipients then analysing the results and improving your materials for the next run. For companies with limited resources, such as entrepreneurs and start-ups, direct marketing is a classic and proven technique for gaining momentum without the high costs of more modern forms of advertising.
Email marketing fell out of favour due its unfavourable reputation with spam, but is regaining acceptance as a genuine marketing technique. It is particularly popular due to its extremely low cost; sending emails is free. Typically companies will purchase a database of email addresses that may or may not be industry-specific, and then send all recipients a carefully-crafted message. Another option is to sponsor someone else’s mailing list in your niche with a commercial message, which can help your services reach a wider audience without the cost of running your own campaign.
Leaflets are a very cheap way to promote your businesses, both in terms of production and distribution. They typically have one of the lowest response rates of any form of direct marketing; you may get 1 response per 100 leaflets or similar. The right design, size, method of distribution and language used will all influence the response rate. If in doubt, contact an experienced direct marketing agency who can provide both graphic designers and copywriters to help you produce the most effective material.
Telephone marketing is a more personable form of direct marketing, allowing you to engage customers, convey the benefits of your products more passionately, and answer any concerns immediately. However, many people feel telemarketing is innately intrusive and will be non-responsive to engagement. Always be polite, friendly and non-aggressive. You may wish to use a professional telemarketing firm who will be experienced dealing with customers. Business-to-business (B2B) telemarketing has higher response rates as recipients are used to being contacted. B2B calls can offer a host of benefits including new professional relationships and lead generation. You must be aware of certain regulations, however - the Telephone Preference Service was introduced so that callers could prevent unwanted marketing calls.
Direct mail involves using traditional ‘snail mail’ to deliver commercial messages to potential customers. Like telephone marketing, it often gets a bad press as ‘junk mail’ so you must consider both the pros and potential cons to your business. In terms of recipients, you can either buy mailing addresses from specialist providers or generate your own database based on select criteria e.g. geographic location. Make sure you include plenty of supporting materials in your mail shot including order forms, prepaid envelopes and testimonials. Make it as easy as possible for potential customers to become customers. Like the Telephone Preference Service, there is a Mail Preference Service so that people can stop marketers from sending them direct mail.