Unleash Your Direct Marketing Potential: The 10 Essential Commandments for Guaranteed Success

10 commandments of direct marketing

David Ogilvie. “Secrets of the advertising yard”

There is only one way to find a solution to your problems in advertising – ask your buyer. This is the ultimate truth.

Claude Hopkins

Commandment One: Use the Term “Direct Marketing” Properly

When it comes to direct marketing, the name itself can often cause confusion. Many people mix up direct marketing with direct mail advertising, while others mistake it for immediate feedback advertising. Some even refer to it as “dialogue marketing” or “database marketing.”

To be clear, direct marketing, also known as email distribution, is a method of marketing that directly reaches out to the consumer or potential customer, or vice versa. The goal is to establish direct personal relationships with customers, as a strong relationship is crucial for success. It’s important to avoid short-term strategies without a clear purpose, as they will ultimately lead to failure.

Commandment Two: Build Your Customer Database

Some experts believe that direct marketing is all about building a database of customers. Although this may seem oversimplified, a database of reliable information is crucial for success. A database is simply an ordered list of your customers’ names and professions, along with related information stored on your computer. This information can include the customer’s age, place of residence, purchase history, amount spent, and investment details.

For instance, if you know that a client has a family of six, including four children, you might offer them a car like a Range Rover, instead of a Porsche. Once you have established a relationship with the client and know that they have a large enough income, you can then offer both options.

Commandment Three: Pay Attention to Positioning

Positioning is a vital factor in determining the success of your direct marketing efforts. Take the credit card, for example. Before it was introduced to the market, it was positioned as a prestigious tool in commerce and entertainment. This was reflected in a world-wide advertising letter that began with the words “to be honest, this card is not affordable for everyone,” which remained unchanged for 13 years.

In a travel campaign, the initial focus was on luxury and comfort. However, after studying how potential and actual consumers perceive services, it was discovered that future tourists were more interested in the places of stay, rather than the comfort offered. This discovery led to a change in positioning and the advertising message.

Commandment Four. Determine the True Value of the Consumer and Invest Appropriately.

We once had the opportunity to host the marketing director of a well-known company and show him one of our client’s advertisements. The ad was for a highly sought-after handbag with multiple pockets. However, the guest himself soon began selling a similar product, but at half the price. He quickly out-competed our client’s product due to his understanding of the customer’s worth and his focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term gains.

To effectively develop a marketing strategy, it is important to understand the amount a consumer is willing to pay over a certain period of time. Without this knowledge, your efforts may be in vain.

Commandment Five. Show Respect for Your Customers.

When asked about his success, Joe Gird, the world’s most successful car salesman, stated that he realized the value of maintaining a relationship with his clients. He realized that he could not only make a sale, but also secure future deals by building a strong connection with each customer.

Research in the US has shown that the majority of customers leave due to a perceived lack of interest and attention from the seller. In fact, only 15% leave due to dissatisfaction with the product quality, while 68% depart because of a lack of contact and indifference from the seller.

Maintaining a relationship with customers is crucial in retaining their loyalty. A simple way to do this is by communicating with them regularly, such as sending out letters at least twice a year. If you have something new or relevant to share, let them know.

Commandment Six. Embrace Testing Unfailingly.

If you don’t have the time or resources to conduct tests, or believe that you already know everything, then marketing may not be for you. Choosing a new name for a product or service may seem like a tedious task, but testing can increase business results by 30%. Through testing and research, you can:

  • Determine the relationship between sales of new products and advertising costs.
  • Assess the customer’s reaction to a new product during its development phase.
  • Evaluate how the product is perceived by the buyer, including factors such as taste, color, aroma, and packaging design.
  • Identify the optimal positioning for the product.
  • Develop a compelling argument, as appeal is the essence of advertising.
  • Measure the success of an advertisement by calculating the number of people who read and remember it.

A simple testing technique is to create two different advertisements for a product, each with a different message in the title. Offer a free sample at the end of each advertisement and publish it in a newspaper or magazine. The ad that generates the most requests for a free sample will be the most successful. Tests have proven that advertisements with headlines that promise a benefit are read four times more often than ads without such a promise.

Commandment Seven: Stay Ahead of the Game with Cutting-Edge Technology.

In the past, targeted mailings helped boost sales by as much as 100% and brought an increase of 50% in response rates. Today, technology has made it easier for everyone to send letters with ease. Since the 1960s, the amount of memory in computer operating systems has grown 20,000-fold, and the speed has increased 1,000,000-fold. This demonstrates the incredible impact of technology and technique. For instance, in the US, the Farm Journal, a magazine for farmers, is published in a segmented edition, which enables farmers on different sides of the road to receive different issues based on their specific interests, thanks to database technology.

As a tech-savvy person, I may not understand everything about even the most basic devices such as switches and computers, but I strive to understand what my clients need. The new techniques and technologies continue to push the boundaries of knowledge.

Commandment Eight: Seize Opportunities with a Flexible Budget.

Once you have a rough idea of how much you can earn from a customer over a certain period and the cost of attracting new customers, you can set your budget accordingly. If you have sufficient funds, don’t limit yourself to a pre-determined budget, but rather spend what you need to, especially if you can attract new customers at a cost-effective rate of 50/50.

Commandment Nine: Know Your Target Audience Through Research.

Jerry Hassinger, an expert on new fund creation, once said, “I don’t know why people respond to calls for a new fund, and I don’t want to know.” I used to share this sentiment, but my perspective has changed. It’s crucial to understand why people respond to a particular offer, and even more so, why they don’t respond. To gain this deep understanding, I have invested in a research department and put a significant amount of resources into it.

Frequently, direct mail advertising may fail to engage the target audience, resulting in letters being discarded without a second glance. This lack of interest is due to a lack of understanding about the recipient, including their interests, lifestyle, and thought processes. Without this information, our letters become nothing more than unwanted guests, annoying rather than interesting.

So, what should you do? Explore, and continue with research after receiving feedback. If you received a response rate of only 12%, it’s important to focus your efforts on the remaining 88% of people who did not respond to your offer.

The yes/no principle was created by the experts at Reader’s Digest to understand why some readers respond and others do not, and to determine if it was possible to convert non-responders into customers. How did they do it? By giving the readers the power of choice! By allowing the customers to make their own decisions, you’ll start thinking about them, and research will help turn your thoughts into action.

Commandment ten. Incorporate Direct Marketing in Every Aspect of Your Business.

There is a common misconception that direct internet marketing is a separate entity and should not be blended with other areas of business. This perspective is outdated and lacks insight.

Many businesses invest heavily in building a strong brand reputation, but when it comes to direct mail advertising, they tend to take a more relaxed approach, sending out poorly written, low-quality letters. This is not an effective use of resources.

However, consumers view things differently. They see direct mail advertisements as a reflection of the company, and the impact can be lasting. Research has shown that about 70% of email recipients of email advertisements remember the content for nearly nine months, a significantly longer period than that of television advertisements. Furthermore, three months after receiving email advertisements, people were 248% more likely to opt for the expensive services being offered than those who did not receive the email.

The persuasive power of direct marketing should not be underestimated. To fully utilize its potential, you should strive to build trust and confidence in your business and incorporate direct marketing into every aspect of it, not just with consumers, but also with suppliers and employees. This includes both small and large deals.

Success in business can only be achieved when you understand that direct marketing is interlinked with all aspects of your business and should be a key consideration in all that you do.