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Direct Marketing: A step-by-step guide to getting started


In these cash-strapped times, all businesses are trying to find the most efficient way to win new customers and to retain their existing customer base. Many are turning to direct marketing, which has many benefits particularly in this kind of financial climate. Most notably, it is targeted at individuals or businesses who are likely to be interested in what you have to say, and it has results that you can track and measure, meaning you can determine whether your resources are being well used or if further refinements need to be made.
If you're reading this article, chances are you're new to direct marketing. Maybe a colleague suggested you give it a go, or you read an article online outlining its advantages. Realistically, you will probably achieve the best results by calling in a direct marketing professional, but if this isn't an option for you, or you'd rather go it alone, the most important thing is, don't panic! If you use common sense and go about creating your campaign in a logical, step-by-step manner, then you should see big returns on your effort. Here's a handy guide to get you started.
  1. Figure out exactly who you want to reach. The major advantage of direct marketing over other forms of advertising is that it is targeted. It's not an aspirational billboard on the motorway verge or a catalogue jammed into every letterbox in the neighbourhood, it's a way of communicating with people who are predisposed to listen to what you have to say. This may be because they're existing customers, or have shown an interest in similar products in the past; it may be because they fit the right demographic; or maybe they work in a particular niche industry.
  2. How are you going to identify these people? Do you have a company database of existing customers, and are you confident that it is up-to-date? Consider buying a mailing list. It will contain contact details of new people it is worth your while targeting. At mailinglists.com.au for example, you can buy a list tailored specifically to your business, and be guaranteed that all the information  in it is up-to-date.
  3. Decide on precisely what you want to say. You need to be addressing the demographic that you have identified directly: what will appeal to them? If you come up with a great offer, and tell the right people, then it will generate interest.
  4. How are you going to communicate this message? You need to grab your audience's attention. Will email be most effective, or SMS, or direct mail? If the format allows it, use striking, interesting design. Think about your use of language: be concise and hard-hitting.
  5. This is a call to action. You want your audience to respond to your offer, so be absolutely clear what it is that they have to do next. Should they fill in an order form, or ring a hotline, or visit a website? Who should they contact if they have any questions?
  6. Measure the response. This stage is crucial if you want to develop an effective long-term direct marketing strategy. How much do enquiries and sales increase as a result of the campaign? Consider building in a method that will allow you to track the response exactly: perhaps the campaign directs people to a new website landing page, or asks them to email a specially-set-up address, or call a certain number. This will allow you to continue improving in the future.
If you follow these simple steps then direct marketing can help you maintain and grow your business, and become a leaner and more efficient organisation in keeping with these tricky times. Good luck!


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