I hear on a daily basis that social media is the only way to win business, get new customers and get found. Which is all well an good if your ideal client is online, uses a search engine and can happily sift the wheat from the chaff. There are other marketing methods that get results, and I’m not talking advertising… well I am in a roundabout way.
Direct marketing is possibly the oldest marketing method known to human beings. I’m sure Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone just to make sakes pitches but it’s an invaluable tool when direct marketing. Direct marketing is sometimes seen as old fashioned and time intensive, but let me put it another way – businesses don’t invest money in things that don’t work. That’s the fast track to bankruptcy.
Direct marketing involves
- phone calls
- mail shots
These communicate directly with your target market to make your offer and raise awareness of who you are and what your business is about. Direct marketing costs more than social media marketing, so a well co-ordinated campaign may be out of the reach of some small businesses / solo entrepreneurs.
A direct marketing campaign starts with laser-focused research on the target market to develop a product line and delivery method. You need a long list of leads to contact before you can start.
When Should You Use Direct Marketing?
Direct marketing works incredibly well for very specific niches such as local businesses – carpet / oven cleaners, local mechanics, tuition services etc. Like most marketing methods, you need a narrow target market that you understand well, hence the geographic boundary working very well.
The people on your list should be looking for products or services that help them solve their actual problems and not the problems you think they have… That’s why you need a long list of leads when you start out with your campaign and you should always do your research before picking up the phone.
The direct method works best with products that are simple and straightforward. Think Einstein and his “if you can’t explain it to a 6 year old you don’t understand it yourself”. If you can explain your product or service simply, you’ll get better results.
Direct marketing methods don’t give you a lot of time to communicate your message when compared to online methods, such as content marketing. You can’t afford to be subtle, that will come across badly. You have to drive home your message in a concise but firm manner. If you tried to market this way via social media, people would run for the hills screaming… The easier your products are to understand, the better.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Direct Marketing
The best thing about direct marketing is that you can get quick results. You can find out whether or not your market is receptive almost instantly. It’s a great way to collect the facts /hard data about your target market. Yesterday I visited a local town festival, and someone was selling websites from a stall covered with just a tablecloth and cups of tea. I’d say they would know very quickly what their target market is looking for.
Another advantage is that direct marketing is a tried and true method that’s been used successfully for years. There are proven techniques you can learn from direct marketing veterans which are known to get results. Unlike more recent marketing methods, direct marketing will probably always be around in one form or another, people are not ready to through out their TV sets and radios just yet!
Why do people hate direct marketing? People are annoyed by phone calls and junk mail, and they’ve started to screen them out. There are no-call lists and increasingly strict regulations about what marketers can and can’t do. Many people see direct tactics as an invasion of privacy especially if they are the ideal client but not interested in the product or service. This is why the softer approach of content marketing is so appealing.
Direct marketing also requires more of an investment of time and money. Printed marketing materials can get expensive and it takes a larger sales force to collect prospects by phone, although this can be outsourced efficiently.
The Keys to Direct Marketing Success
- Detailed knowledge about your target market and what they’re looking for. The most successful direct marketing campaigns are those that carry out painstaking research and gather lots of data.
- A clear message that emphasizes the benefits of your product. The most important things you want your prospects to know need to be stated clearly up front with no guesswork involved.
- The ability to get people’s attention. The exact same tactics that make direct marketing annoying to some people are also what bring its success. There’s no room for subtlety and the very best marketers are great at grabbing attention.
Many marketers believe that the direct approach is old hat. Inbound marketing techniques that can be done online on a shoestring budget are preferred. However, this doesn’t mean that direct marketing is finished. Its techniques change with the times and it still gets results.
Howe have you used this type of marketing in your business?
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