Basic Direct Marketing

I was talking the other day to a close friend who has a successful business in the service sector. Because of my background in direct marketing, she was asking my advice on a mailing she was planning.

She was intending to send out a tri-fold leaflet with a covering letter. Pretty standard practice among SMEs. I asked her what she would be testing, and she looked blank.

“What is there to test?” she wanted to know. “I have an established ‘product’, a good reputation in my market, and I just want to stimulate a few more sales.”

“Who will you approach?” I asked.

She said she was going after people who had not yet used her kind of service, whether provided by her or her competitors. New blood. I replied that her pockets were not deep enough to convert non-users, and she’d go broke before she succeeded.

Concentrate on users, and convert them to your brand, was my advice. But test.

Again she asked what she should test.

In direct marketing (mailshots, if you like) you always need to test to be sure you are using the most effective marketing elements.

There are six elements you should always test:

1. The market: find out which section of the population is most interested in your offering.
2. The product: is it right for the market in today’s circumstances?
3. The offering: is it offered or packaged in the most accessible way?
4. Price. Are you charging enough? Or can you stimulate a big increase in sales if you drop your price a bit?
5. The creative: can you dress up your offering differently? Can you offer some incentive to buy, some bonus or ‘extra’ to sweeten the deal?
6. The material: letter plus leaflet, or letter alone? Long copy or short copy?

She wanted to know more, but we ran out of time …