Targeted, Relevant, Timely: Direct Marketing Success Is About Doing It Right

I’ve been asked just about every question related to using the mail stream better, smarter and with a greater degree of success. I always lean back on three reactions a direct marketer must trigger, simply to gain opportunities: An action of “Yes, I’ll buy” or “I’m interested in more” or “Not now, but maybe later”… each are about hitting the key emotions to move the mail recipient to act. Yes, action! A.C.T.I.O.N… just like the cheer often witnessed at a sporting event, but for the DM’ers of the world… it’s bliss.

DM euphoria can be achieved by putting timely efforts into a succinct package that compels the recipient to act. So, you might ask yourself, “How can I ensure that I’m covering these elements correctly?” Thanks for asking, I’ll do my best to help you understand its importance and provide benchmarks to set your mind at ease. For starters, pay attention to the things that matter; meaning, those elements you can measure. Doing this ensures you never undermine your hunt for greater ROI.

I usually give a few descriptions of good DM. Let me begin with the one we can all relate to. Okay – you accomplish your morning rituals, shower, brush your teeth, use the restroom, and as you complete this last task you are concerned you won’t have enough bathroom tissue (“TP”, in my house) to satisfy your personal hygiene requirements.

Get my drift? Move ahead a few hours. You make the trip to the mailbox (a daily ritual that is as sacred as, well, apple-pie and Chevrolet) and low and behold there is a coupon for a free roll of TP when another of same value is purchased. Now, you happen to be a non-brand loyal who is a fairly conscience shopper and you are going to the grocery to acquire this toiletry along with some other, hmm, less important items.

The previous example is one every household can understand; whether we loathe the direct marketer or are amazed of “how did they do that?” the business of direct marketing greatly influences our buying patterns and is becoming increasingly refined and more capable of “wowing” the consumer and business mindset.

There are over 100 ways to qualify, mend or create direct marketing segmentation. Each of them extends worthy time and energy in pursuit of the DM holy land: ROI that rocks. Let’s look at some key methods:

o Targeted DM. It’s making sure the list of folks with whom you are communicating is a properly profiled audience. Not an easy feat, but obtainable through either painstaking soul searching or simple business intelligence. We should all know who our best prospects are but sometimes we don’t. There are many ways to validate, but be sure to test all theories and never stop second-guessing yourself.

Dig, dig and dig deeper to ensure that your audience is either profiled to match your existing house file or you have studied your direct competition enough and realize your selling horse products to a list of horse owners will work. Hint: Think about targeting down to the minutia. How about, age of the horse, will that help you? I Bet it will. Or, maybe household income of the owner, or, zip codes where you’re having more success than others will enhance results.

o Relevant DM. It’s knowing when the last piece of “TP” is coming off the roll. How do we know such details? Well, my example is extreme, but really not too. For example, now that POS (point of sale) data is captured at the grocery store, marketers can begin to forecast consumption of product based on the last time of purchase, time before that, and where you purchased the unit. Thus, giving the marketers a fairly good idea of when you’ll be looking to acquire more.

On the other hand, relevant DM’ers know that the household of sedan vehicles might be interested in an SUV or minivan. Why? Because our households are ever changing; everyday, each of the 220 million US consumers changes… they get rich, they get poor, they expand and they contract. And as a result, they need to buy new things and that… is… relevant.

How do we capitalize on relevance in the household to motivate a purchase for our product or service? We test hypothesis of relevance based on demographic and psychographic shifting. We look for Hotline information- not necessarily from data but from propensity or profiling.

o Timely DM. It’s being instinctual about the art. Now, how can I get timely to figure into a decision? Timely is sometimes the hardest thing to know. How can we predict the trends of a household? Much easier when we know the baby is coming and they’ve registered with everyone and everywhere, giving us delivery dates and sex details.

Timely knows that those of a multi-family dwelling unit, who earn high incomes, could or should be able to afford a house and a mortgage. So, it makes sense that new home solicitation targeted to the aforementioned market is timely. And given the right, compelling offer they will ACT.

Direct Marketing Success is about capturing the rhythm of interest by instinct & skill. It’s the nose of the DM expert or CMO who understand that he or she must use the senses of observation combined with any and all analytical information that can be added to the formula.