Direct Marketing is any unsolicited contact your business makes with existing or potential customer in order to generate sales or raise awareness. This article has been written to assist small businesses consider and successfully execute a direct marketing campaign, discussing different types of direct marketing and outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each. It also covers details of current legislation and industry best practice.
For many small businesses, direct marketing is the most effective way of generating new business. From direct mail and leaflet drops to telemarketing and email marketing, it allows businesses to target customers with greater accuracy than any other method.
Vigilant preparation is essential if you are to make the most of your investment, get the response rates you have set to achieve and also ensuring that you do not contact individuals who opted not to receive direct marketing mailings.
Direct marketing allows you to generate a specific response from targeted groups of customers. It’s a particularly useful tool for small businesses because it allows you to:
- measure the success of campaigns accurately by analysing responses
- test your marketing – you can target a representative sample of your target market and review the best response rates before developing a full campaign
A direct marketing campaign can help you to achieve the following key objectives:
- increasing sales to existing customers
- developing customer loyalty
- re-establishing lapsed customer relationships
- generating new business
There are many different approaches to direct marketing. These include traditional methods such as mailshots and telemarketing, and electronic methods such as email marketing, SMS (short message service) and social media. The method most appropriate for your business will depend on who you are targeting, the message you want communicate and the response you want to generate.
Small businesses without the technical expertise or resources to utilise e-marketing methods, mailshots remain a popular option. Mailshots can take the form of personalised, direct mail or unaddressed door drops. When well planned, mailshots are a cost effective option, generating a better response than some other direct marketing methods.
Direct mail is a great way to communicate information about your products and services directly into the hands of people who may be interested in it. Although often thought of as junk mail, it can be highly effective in both business and consumer markets if it’s correctly planned and researched.
The key component for a successful direct-mail campaign is a high-quality mailing list. The most effective lists are those sourced in-house from a well-managed database.
Advice for a successful direct-mail campaign:
- Draw up a budget which sees your business profiting at a realistic level of response.
- Consider incentives such as prizes or discounts to maximise response – and make sure you have included these in your budget.
- Source a mailing list that’s appropriate to your objectives.
- Source a local supplier for flyer printing, good suppliers can offer you a range of options of materials, assist with graphic design and layout as well as customised print options.
- Make sure you have the resources to run the campaign, follow it up and cope with the response.
When your campaign is over, quantify the costs, returns and rates of response. If you started with clear objectives, you should be able to learn a lot about what you achieved and how.
Leafleting is probably the simplest and cheapest form of direct marketing. It may be worth considering unaddressed leaflet drops and street handouts if you want to promote your business in your local area, particularly to consumers. For example, if you:
- offer services locally – such as takeaway food, handy-man, gardening, taxi drivers or double-glazing
- want to attract people to your shop’s sale or the opening of your new restaurant
This method often generates significantly lower response rates than direct mail. It’s less targeted – you don’t know the characteristics of the recipients of your leaflet and you can’t personalise your message. As a result it’s often best to use leaflets for products or services of universal appeal, or when you need a large number of leads. It is also difficult to monitor the success rate and return on investment.
If you want a return on your investment, you need to prepare your materials carefully. Ensure materials look professional, reflect your brand and consist of all the information a customer will require to make a decision. Clear contact details are imperative and where possible your leaflet printing should be personalised for maximum impact. Feedback is important and offering an incentive like a discount or special offer can prove a successful way to monitor your campaign.