The 10 Essentials of a Successful Direct Marketing Strategy

Becky Morehouse

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While everyone seems to be into direct marketing, it’s pretty clear that not everyone knows what they are doing. Not convinced? Take a look at your inbox. How many times do you wondered aloud, “Why am I getting this,” or “Who are these people?” Or worse yet, “Why don’t they leave me alone?” or “Where is the block sender button?”

To save you the embarrassment, frustration, and even the economic and political cost of a failed direct marketing strategy, here are 10 essential steps to put you on the path to direct marketing success.

1. Build Brand Awareness

Build brand awareness ahead of your direct marketing campaign. People will almost never open, read, or respond to something without at least some prior sense of who is sending the message. If they don’t know you ahead of time, your campaign will likely fail.

2. Keep It Simple

Keep your campaign simple, especially at the beginning. When you have too many moving parts, too many segments, too many offers, and too many channels, you will lose your ability to track and monitor. When designing your campaign, think Cessna and not space shuttle.

3. Focus on Target Audience

Identify and then focus on a singular target audience. Once that is done, learn everything you can about the audience. Conduct a deep dive. Learn its proclivities. Understand its wants and needs. Gauge its motivations. Be aware of its fears. Identify its behaviors. Get inside the audience’s heads and hearts.

4. Design a Truly Compelling Offer

Remember, it’s not what you want, but what they want. If your market is adult students, you are not selling an education, but the opportunities that arise after the student has earned the degree or certificate. The goal is an engaging offer that immediately compels the prospective student to act.

5. Test. Test. Test.

In your rush to launch the campaign, don’t overlook the need to test your offer (and other campaign components) on a subset of a target audience. Over the years I have learned that every campaign, no matter how carefully conceived and artfully executed, can be improved. Take the time to test.

6. Understand All Components of your Campaign

This is especially important as the technology gets more complicated and the number of channels grows. If you don’t understand every facet of your campaign, you will be powerless, at a later date, to know with certainty what works (do more of this) and what didn’t (do less of this).

Keep this in mind when working with partners. Good partners carefully explain everything they do and why. Their goal is your understanding. Poor partners mystify things and keep you in the dark. Most importantly, this diminishes your ability to learn. It also keeps you from having influence and input on your marketing program.

7. Overall Design

Design the campaign in toto rather than piecemeal. Your goal is seamless integration and synergy. Design the follow up at the same time you design the initial offer. Anticipate how the campaign will be monitored before you launch the campaign.

8. Follow-Up

Make sure your campaign includes a follow-up offer. Too often, our carefully designed campaigns are sideswiped by inattentive and overly distracted target audiences. Anticipate that your first message will not get noticed, much less read. Follow up with a second message and even a third, and watch your response rate build.

9. Monitor Responses

Monitor responses, especially early responses. Every campaign will benefit from a mid-course correction. You might discover that your brand campaign didn’t build the necessary awareness or that your offer, no matter how much pre-testing you did, is not understood or is poorly timed. Pausing the campaign and doing a little finetuning might result in a save.

10. Post-Campaign Plan

Make sure you have a post-campaign plan. If your campaign is successful (and we hope it is) are you prepared to respond swiftly and coherently? I well remember being contacted by a college that had just launched a very successful campaign and were then scrambling to respond. They needed our help managing all the inquiries.

If you would like to discuss how we might help you with your next direct marketing campaign, please let me know. I’d be glad to set up a call. Thank you! Becky Morehouse – becky.morehouse@stamats.com

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