The Art of Creating and Maintaining Relationships Through Direct Marketing

If executed well, a direct marketing campaign can be a highly successful way to create and maintain relationships with both current and potential customers. The aim of building a relationship is to encourage loyalty towards your brand and products amongst your target market. In today’s highly competitive market place, the need to always consider more direct ways to contact your customers has never been more relevant.

A realistic definition of direct marketing might be:

‘Contacting current and potential customers via unsolicited means to increase sales and/or awareness of your brand and products’

Direct marketing does have plenty of benefits for the smaller business, mainly the reduced cost involved with this form of marketing compared to many of the other avenues available. However, the key downfall of direct marketing, especially when we’re talking about mail or telephone marketing is the cynicism of the people you’re likely to be contacting. The challenge of direct marketing is to get your customers to sit up and listen and take the next step towards a purchase.

To execute a good direct marketing campaign some things to consider include:

Does your database directly relate to your market segment?

Regardless of your contact method i.e. telephone, mail or e-mail you have to be sure that the people you’re going to send your information to are likely to be interested. Obviously, you can’t guarantee interest but you should research your market first to gain some information on the sex, age, gender, social group etc. of the key buyers of the products you are selling. You could easily do this by yourself from information you’ve gathered from past and present customers, or alternatively you could look into getting some professional research done. If you get this right you will immediately increase the success of your campaign; direct marketing isn’t about reaching a mass audience, it’s about reaching the right audience.

Is your message clear and concise?

Once your database accurately reflects your target market, you then have to think about your message. Here are some key elements to think about when writing copy for a direct marketing campaign:

  • Think about the buying process – what information does the buyer need to be able to move from thinking about buying to actually purchasing
  • Address their need, consumers won’t buy a product unless they can convince themselves that they have a need for it – your message has to create or address a need and offer a solution
  • How are you going to appeal to the customer? Are you going to use humour or are you going to try to stir emotions?
  • What’s going to make your message stand out more than all the others? You have to cut through the clutter and noise of all other advertising going on around your potential customers to make them remember your message
  • Try to provide a guarantee or reduce the risk involved in the purchase. If the time, money or effort lost on buying your product or service is going to be reduced somehow the decision to buy instantly becomes easier.
  • Offer the customer a way to contact you before you contact them.

How are you going to follow up your initial contact?

So, your potential customers have received your direct mail. They may be thinking about getting in touch with you, or they may be shopping around to make sure they get the best deal. You need to follow up your initial contact with a telephone call or e-mail. Things to consider for the follow up call include:

  • Provide the customer with reasons why your product and service is better than others in the market
  • What are the added benefits of buying with you? Do you have a competitive advantage that stands out from your competitors?
  • Settle the customers mind and answer their questions confidently
  • Reiterate the ways in which your product or service could solve their problem.

The prime aim is to make a sale, but as we all know this is easier said than done, the secondary aim is to build on your relationship. Try to build some rapport so that at the very least you get the chance to call them back again or meet with them. Finally, if you have a good customer base you should make the most of it. Use the contact forms to ask your customers if they would like to receive further information on your products and services. ‘Yes’ responses can be put into a database. Obviously we would recommend that you are careful about sending promotional information to your customers, you must allow your customers the option to opt in/out of any promotions regardless of how you intend on sending the information to them.