There are direct marketing opportunities right under your nose - here is a list of questions to help you identify them:
Do you have a website? If not, consider building one. A website offers a 24 hour, 7 day a week opportunity to attract new prospects and customers from around the world.
Do you keep a list of each of your customers and your sales history with them? This might seem like stating the obvious, but many companies only keep accounting records of their dealings with their various customers. Make sure you at least keep your customer's name and contact details on file.
Do you operate a retail store(s)? If so, you interact with your customers every time they buy, or even when they're just browsing. This gives you the opportunity to capture relevant data about each of your customers, including what they purchase, when they purchase, how often they purchase, how much they spend, their method of payment and much more. Or you may just invite them to join your mailing list, while paying for their goods.
Do you have a sales team? Each rep carries with them (either in their head or in a filing system) the history of their relationship with each customer and prospect. Use this information.
Do you issue warranty cards or on-line warranty services? These offer you the opportunity to capture relevant data about your customers, including where they purchased your product and the other products they own. Offering customers an incentive to return the warranty card or complete an on-line warranty usually boosts response.
Do you conduct customer satisfaction surveys? These give you the opportunity to learn what your customers think of your products and service, and to gather knowledge about how you might improve them. Surveys also offer an opportunity to increase sales, and enhance your customer relationships by making your customers feel more involved.
Do you take orders or inquiries over the telephone, or have a customer service hotline? The telephone allows you to talk direct to your customers and gather relevant data for improving your business with them or increasing your sales. You can always follow up an inbound phone call with a letter or an e-mail with information or an offer.
Do you provide an e-mail inquiry service or feedback system on your website? Any service that allows a prospect or customer to contact you automatically gives you a reason to start a relationship if it is suitable. If you provide FAQ's on your website they can give you insight to the content people are most interested in and also provide a place for prospects and customers to contact you.
Do you advertise in an e-mail newsletter to prospects who have opted-in to receive information about your type of products or service? You can direct responses to your own site and encourage them to opt-in to your information services.
Do you fulfil orders through the postal system? Each time you deliver a product to a customer you have the opportunity to make them another offer or to gain relevant data.
Do you have technical reps servicing your customers? These people are at the front line of your business, often dealing with your customers when they have a problem. They have the opportunity to add value through the way they service and can capture relevant data for marketing purposes.
Do your advertisements include at least one way for your customers and prospects to respond to you? Use one or a combination of telephone, fax, e-mail, website or mail response devices. Remember to put a system in place to process the inquiries.
Do you distribute through a wholesaler or a separate retail network? Your wholesalers and retailers can be just as important as the people who ultimately buy and use your products. Use direct marketing to develop relationships with these customers or to replace or enhance your sales force.
Do your customers buy regularly from you? The frequency with which customers purchase often dictates the way you communicate with them. Those who purchase more frequently may require a different level of communication than those who are only occasional buyers.
Do you deal with influencers, users and decision-makers when trying to close a sale? All of these people need to be dealt with differently and can require difference types of communication mediums to reach them.
Could you sell companion products with the products you supply? For example, a car dealer may offer customers a driver training course, a security system, insurance and finance.
Could you rent your list of customers to a non-competing organisation or make a special offer to your customers from a third party on your behalf (assuming of course you have the list member's permission to do so)? Malcolm, is this still legal/do you want to amend slightly?
Do you ever ask your current customers for referrals to colleagues of theirs?
A brand is a very powerful thing. It is the difference between image and reality. And it allows you to charge a premium for a product that is identical to your competitor's product. A brand is emotional, often intangible. It grows through the way it influences people to feel about a product or service. A brand only exists in the mind of a customer. It is your reputation - built not by what you say about yourself, but by what others say about you.
It's nice to achieve high awareness of your brand, but high repeat business from the small percentage of satisfied customers who give you most your business is far more important.
Customers view marketing communications in a very different way to marketers. For example, they haven't a clue what the mysterious line that allegedly exists between above or below the line advertising or marketing. They view every communication - whether it be a brand-building television commercial, a retail catalogue or a personalised mailpack - as a brand message.
What is the difference between a brand advertisement and a direct response advertisement?
Nothing - according to consumers. They don't differentiate between advertisements like marketers and their agencies. A brand advertisement is designed to make a consumer feel something about a brand, in the hope that you may buy it one day. A direct response advertisement has a much tougher job to do. It not only has to make a consumer feel something about a brand, but get them to act immediately and respond to the proposition in the advertisement.
Direct response advertisements are much harder to create than brand advertisements and require a great deal more creative and technical skills to craft.
What is the difference between above- and below-the-line advertising?
Nothing - there is no line. Consumers certainly have no idea about a line and don't view advertisements with emotions driven by whether the execution derives from above or below a mythical line.
To consumers, all communications are brand communications. A consumer doesn't for example, view a television ad and feel something about a brand, but receive a personalised mailing and feel nothing about a brand, just because one message is more sales oriented than another.