Direct Marketing Tips in a Tight Economy
Successfully delivering your message to current and prospective customers
In tough economic times, businesses often struggle to discover ways to effectively and economically reach out to existing customers or clients while simultaneously working to generate new business.
One of the best methods around is still direct marketing, which involves sending your message directly to your customers and prospective customers without intervening media such as radio or TV. Direct marketing, which usually takes place through traditional mail, e-mail or over the phone, also includes an explicit call-to-action.
Proven direct marketing methods continue to provide positive results. The foundation of success in any direct marketing campaign is the capacity to maintain a strong database of clients and prospects.
Databases can range from simple—containing only basic information such as name and address—to sophisticated, which might include purchasing history and more detailed demographic data as well as any other pertinent identifying info.
Continually adding new records while updating your customer information is crucial to maintaining the accuracy and currency of your database. A number of data quality solutions exist to help you update and maintain your client information at a reasonable cost.
When employing direct marketing via the U.S. Mail, you may want to consider using CASS™ certified ZIP + 4® processing, a system that increases the quality of your address data and standardizes your delivery addresses. Ultimately, ZIP + 4 improves the deliverability of your direct marketing mailings.
Michael Harris, a direct marketing specialist with Aldata Corporation in Apple Valley, recommends a range of USPS options to help reduce mailing costs by correcting, checking and validating the information you have in your existing database. Four of Harris’ top recommendations are:
- Address Element Correction (AEC)
- National Change of Address (NCOA)
- Delivery Sequence File Second Generation (DSF2)
- Duplicate Data Elimination (DDE)
“These options allow you to mail out at the lowest possible rate charged by the U.S. Postal Service and eliminate duplicate mailings,” says Harris.
One extremely effective and inexpensive strategy involves setting up a continuity mailing program, which gets your message out on schedule on a monthly, bimonthly or quarterly basis. Program mailings can take the form of a simple postcard or newsletter—or a more formal business letter. Continuity mailing keeps your name in front of your customers and prospects while reminding them that you appreciate their business.
Customer profiling is another way to add value to your database. By matching your database records against a regional or national data file, you can pinpoint unique data characteristics and identify important traits regarding your clients. With more customized data, you can target-market your existing client base and have an easier time finding new business in your prospecting records.
Harris is all for augmenting your database with new information from outside databases, a move that will give you the marketing tools to better determine your best customers and prospects. You can then craft specific offers to select market segments with pre-qualifying criteria, deriving additional business from your current customers.
“Superior data will also assist with client retention,” adds Harris.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” This old saying still rings true in sales. If your clients and prospects do not hear from you on a regular basis, chances are someone else will come knocking on their doors.
The strategies listed above are just a few of the ways to utilize effective direct marketing, increase response levels, ensure better delivery standards of your direct mail and help you manage the tide of a difficult economy.