It’s Marketing Month on the COATS blog! This month, we’re looking at the many ways you can grow your business by growing your market share.

Although companies have made sales directly to customers since their beginning, the term “direct marketing” wasn’t coined until 1967. This type of marketing involves speaking directly to potential customers, whether in person, over the phone or via mailed items, in the hopes of spurring a purchase or other action. Unfortunately, direct marketing mail pieces are more often known by the term “junk mail.”

How do you help your direct marketing campaign stay out of the junk pile and become a money-making endeavor for your company? As with so many things in life and business, it’s all about planning.

Know what you want to accomplish from your campaign. Note the use of the word “campaign;” that means an organized, multi-step approach to achieve a large-scale goal. You can’t just throw a postcard together and send it out—well, you can, but you should keep your expectations pretty low for the outcome.

To maximize your chances of success, start with a goal. If possible, make it a numerical objective: to set 30 appointments with prospects and turn those into 15 new clients within 6 months.

Then select your target list. You can buy mailing or calling lists, but the quality of leads in those lists can vary greatly,  plus the information might be out-of-date. The best way to develop a target list is to use your own database of prospects you’ve wanted to convert as well as clients you haven’t worked with in a while.

Your target list will determine your budget. Obviously, it will cost more overall to send direct marketing pieces to 500 targets than to 200 targets, but given the economies of scale available for custom printing, the per-target cost for the 500 list will be lower than the 200 list. So be sure to get accurate pricing info from printers, and consider looking into an automatic postage machine rather than buying hundreds of 15-cent stamps.

Devote adequate time to fine-tune your messages. We’re going to repeat this throughout this blog series: “We exist” is not a compelling message; it’s noise, and it’s a one-way ticket to the junk mail pile. What specific messages do you want your targets to receive about the benefits of working with you? And more importantly, what do you want them to do with those messages? Every marketing piece must have a call to action that your targets can respond to.

And ideally, you’ll have a way to track the results of those calls to action. If you have a unique phone number or URL to send recipients to, you can easily track the responses to your direct marketing. This step is essential, because you can have all the confidence and faith in the world in your direct marketing campaign, but without empirical data showing the actual performance of the campaign, you won’t be able to tell what works and what doesn’t.

Finally, devise a schedule for your campaign. The best direct marketing campaigns have a combination of points of contact: direct mail, phone calls and even face-to-face sales meetings. Be sure to allow enough time for each round of contact p0ints to occur, but try to have no more than 10 days elapse between contact points. You don’t want to pester your targets, but you do want to stay in their minds.

Our Integrated Partner Haley Marketing offers a number of direct marketing campaigns that can be customized for your business, your targets and your niche, and their programs include just about all the steps listed above. Contact them if you’d like to learn more about it.

What’s the best direct marketing campaign you’ve ever seen? What made those marketing contacts something engaging rather than junk mail/junk calls? Let us know in the comments!

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