Surprising? Impressive? Or Just Plain Smart?
What qualifies as a breakthrough in direct marketing this year, especially in light of today’s troubled economy?
At the recent NEMOA Fall Conference in Burlington, Vt., I presented a session highlighting the direct marketing efforts that broke through the clutter this past year and proved to be highly effective, in spite of the difficult economy.
I chose examples from a wide variety of media — direct mail, e-mail, catalog and Internet — and noticed a common theme across all of the campaigns: a boldness and compassion for the situation or life lived by the audience being approached.
Getting Attention Isn’t Easy These Days
Consumers are chronically distracted by today’s information overload. Between world events and the massive blasts of messaging they get, your prospects’ first inclination is to switch you, and your message, off.
OK then, how do we meet this challenge and successfully get our message to them? And then, how can we get them to respond? It all starts with getting to know our customers better. Knowing this, we can write copy and develop concepts that really touch the prospect or customer in a more personal way. And it makes you very different than most of your competitors.
A Powerful Message Pays If Well-Targeted
Boldness is essential when seeking a breakthrough. When you understand your customer’s psychographic traits better, you discover the barriers you need to break down. This gives you the power to create concepts that are truly meaningful to your prospect.
Looking too much like your competition or trying to please too many people waters down your message. It doesn’t have the impact it would if it were well-targeted.
Some say our media (i.e., direct mail) just doesn’t work anymore. But those who claim this simply don’t understand that the media is only the carrier of our message. The media’s not broken — it’s better than ever. The problem lies in ineffective and unfocused creative and marketing direction. It’s not providing the results you need, and that is to get attention and drive sales.
How Do We Understand a Customer Better?
Learn more about your prospects and customers through research (not all works, so do your homework), listening to customer service conversations and reading blogs. If you don’t have a blog, start one. You can even invite answers to questions via e-mail or on your Web site and offer a gift certificate if they help you out.
Reinventing your creative and redefining your brand to better reflect your understanding of your prospect is a big job, but it can pay off handsomely. This past year, using this approach, we saw a direct mail piece beat an old control by more than 40 percent and double order sizes. This speaks to the power of knowing your customers and using intelligent creative to communicate with them.
Don’t Move Forward Without a Plan
The steps and work I’ve described are applicable for direct mail, e-mail, Internet, catalog and even space advertising. I’ve seen it used to create streaming video that sells online as well as any salesman. But you can’t just expect that it will fit into your day-to-day plans. It will only be achieved if you plan an initiative internally with a deadline and goal.
This may seem daunting, but if you choose a smaller project first, such as an e-mail campaign, it can get you started. So don’t wait! Ready … set … brainstorm, and go for the gold!
Carol Worthington-Levy is partner, creative services, for LENSER, a catalog consultancy. You can reach her at (408) 269-6871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.