Questions to Ask Yourself Before Launching a Direct Mail Campaign

Thinking about launching a direct mail (DM) marketing campaign to promote your business? Before you get started, here are some questions to ask to help you be more prepared.

Who is my target audience?

Who are you going to be sending your DM out to? Do you have a mailing list? What kind of customers are you targeting? Make a list of their characteristics and demographics. How much money do they make? How old are they? Where do they live? Male or female? What interests do they have?

The better you understand your target audience, the more personalized you can make your DM pieces, leading to higher response rates.

What action do I want them to take?

Direct mail marketing success depends on your ability to get your audience to take action. For some ads, you will want the reader to take action by making a purchase right now. Other DM ads might encourage the consumer to go to a web address listed on the ad to learn more about your offer.

Every ad needs a call to action. If you’re not encouraging the recipient to take action, they’re not going to do anything and your ad will be wasted. You may as well just flush your money down the toilet.

Identify the action you want people to take, and make sure your call to action is clear and jumps off the page.

What’s my budget?

You need to know exactly how much you can afford to spend on DM before launching your campaign. If you have a marketing budget, how much of it will you set aside for direct mail marketing? Are you going to spread out your spending throughout the year or dump it into a single campaign right now?

Once you set your budget, stick to it. Figure out how can get the most from that budget without sacrificing the quality of your DM marketing.

How will I track results?

If you’re not tracking the results of your direct mail marketing, you’re wasting your money because you have no way of knowing what’s working and what needs to be improved. You have to set goals, test different adjustments to your marketing materials, and track your results.

Over time, you’ll collect more and more data on your DM marketing campaigns, providing you with valuable information that helps you optimize your efforts to get a better return on your investment.

Which direct mail company should I use?

Finding the right DM company is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your campaign. Not all direct mail companies are the same. The services they offer, fees they charge, and level of satisfaction they provide varies.

Spend time researching the different direct mail companies by performing a simple search online. Look for companies with years of experience, a wide portfolio of services, and competitive prices. You also want to look at examples of their work to make sure it’s professional and will reflect your brand in a positive way.

By asking yourself these questions before starting your direct mail campaign, you’ll have a great plan for success.

The Sales and Marketing Relationship

Sales and marketing, two parts of business that are so different yet need to be connected to each other and some point or end. Sales people and marketing people are always in different worlds, it’s like the jocks and the nerds (I wont say which is which, that’s up to you). The school isn’t going to be complete without either one missing and your business won’t be either.

The job of the marketing people is seen as serious and analytical, they are the people always talking amongst each other, planning and playing with statistics and campaigns. Marketing is the path taken to get to the customers. There are many activities involved in marketing; cold canvassing, brand or corporate advertising, or more targeted types of marketing like direct response advertising and referrals. This is where the particular benefits of the product is explained to the customers. So all these different kinds of marketing are what get to the people, and these people are your leads. Leads are the connection between sales and marketing. Without leads, there is no connection, sales and marketing will never meet and business won’t work out.

The sales people now are always on the run, going here and there, on the phone with customers or meeting them somewhere, always trying to grab some big deal that’s going to bring the company to greater heights. What get’s them moving is the leads they acquire from marketing. Now this doesn’t mean sales is under marketing and is less important or is the department that needs a smaller budget. Marketing has no purpose with sales and sales can’t occur without marketing. Both need to work together in order to reach maximum advantage.

This all looks so simple, but the bumps occur at the same place where sales and marketing meet. Leads are not all the same, you have good and bad leads. Depending on the leads, sometimes the marketing or the sales approach needs to be different. That’s why sales and marketing departments or people always need to be in constant contact with each other. The more you understand the way the other team is working, the more you can use the knowledge to your advantage when getting to the lead.

Following up is an essential part of sales and marketing as well. It can be following up on a potential lead or following up on a previous customer, the communication should not stop after one transaction, it’s a continuous process that requires sales and marketing to always be working hand in hand. Here’s to your Success!

Direct Traffic is Golden, SEO Traffic is a Bonus

In a website statistics tool like Google Analytics, direct traffic, literally, refers to website visitors who actually typed your website or blog address right into the address bar of their Internet browser.

Direct traffic is pretty special. It means someone remembered the URL of my website and used it specifically when they were looking for help with writing or editing.

Next, Google Analytics tracks traffic from referring sites, which is also very special. When a visitor has come from a referring site, it means that someone thinks enough of my work to include a link to my site from their website or blog, or maybe they’ve even sent the link in a direct email message to a client, colleague, friend or family member.

Or maybe the referral came out of my article marketing efforts at sites like Ezine Articles. Someone read one of my articles and liked my ideas enough to find out more about what I offer.

Direct traffic and traffic from referral sites both represent people who have already warmed up to the idea of finding out more about you. That’s much different from just having your website pop up in a list of search results.

I really like what Rick Spence writes in the June 2008 issues of Profit magazine, “… the Web isn’t always about the masses. For many niche businesses, Web marketing means drawing your best customers closer and closer.”

So do what you can to keep search engine optimization (SEO) on your side – write a lot of fresh content, and write for your niche by using the language they’ll use when they’re looking for information and help.

Then, turn your attention back to cultivating your relationships, because that’s what will send direct traffic and referring site traffic your way.

Writing Prompt: How can you greet your website visitors as if they’ve all come as direct traffic or from referral sites? How can you treat strangers (search engine traffic) like friends?

P.S. There are also such things as human search engines (Mahalo) and social bookmarking sites (del.icio.us), both of which allow Web users to access search results that are based on human entries versus computer-generated ones.