Direct Marketing VS Radio Advertising

Direct marketing works well for many types of small businesses, but how does it work compared to radio advertising? Well let us look that the very different advertising venues and consider each of them on their own merits first.

Radio is fairly immediate and goes out to a large area and it costs very little per each listener. Radio is not listened by everyone only certain types of people that enjoy what that station is playing generally. People have peak times they listen to certain radio stations, such as the commute to work or the drive home. Some stations are listened to at the office, while others in the home. Some play songs in Spanish, some all English and each radio station has a target audience to be considered and you as a business person have to decide if their listeners match your target audience.

Direct mail advertising is target to areas or groups of people in certain zip codes and districts. Only some people ever open advertising direct mail pieces. Generally a business can target an exact area, which is in a 10-mile radius of their business. Direct mail is not very expensive per unit mailed.

Now then back to the question, which is better direct mail marketing or radio. Well, we really cannot compare these to. It depends on far too many more details. Each has its place and reason. Perhaps you should not compare them at all? Consider all this in 2006.

Small Business Marketing Strategy – Create a Great Package

Package is the most overlooked of the three key small business marketing elements of Brand, Package and People. If Brand is who you are to the customer, then Package is where and how you present your company to the customer.

Brand is the gift, and Package is the wrapping paper. And–whether they’ll admit it or not–every one of your customers was once a kid who was overjoyed with the anticipation of opening a birthday present. This anticipation, rooted in all humans, is almost as delightful as the present itself. As Wordsworth wrote: “The child is father of the man”, and that’s true for your clients whether they are fifteen or fifty. (OK, just amend the wording a bit for your female clients…)

But most small businesses don’t realize the vital importance of this simple concept. Most small businesses–including many of your competitors–don’t understand that delivering the superior product to the customer is just one among many steps in truly satisfying that customer.

But your small business can be different. You can learn to look at your business through your customer’s eyes. It’s not easy, and it takes some practice, but with a few simple exercises it’s possible to step into those shoes on the other side of the counter and view just what your customer sees when she looks at your business.

Oh, and did we say it takes courage, too?

Businesses meet and sell to their customers via three different arenas:

On Our Turf. This is the Retail Arena many small businesses operate in. When thinking of Package here, you’ll want to evaluate your signage, parking, entryway, aisles, ceilings, shopping carts, restrooms (massively overlooked), and sidewalk. Basically you are looking at everything the customer sees during the shopping experience. All of this, the total presentation to your customer, is the essence of Package for a retailer.

On Their Turf. From the Girl Scout selling cookies door-to-door to the suited-up salesman selling IBM mainframes, there are a thousand variations of people out peddling on their customer’s home field and loving it. This includes companies selling B-B as well as B-C. Part of a lawn service company’s Package would be a consideration of how clean and presentable their pickup trucks are. From you and your salespeople’s clothing to presentation materials to your business cards, Package in the field demands that the owner pay attention.

Distance. This is selling without the face-to-face interaction of a person, either in a store or at the customer’s home or business. Think of companies like Dell or Lands’ End or Amazon.com that have successfully created strong customer relationships without retail stores or in-home visits. Yet this channel, sometime called direct selling or remote selling, has proven to be extremely profitable for many small businesses. Here Package is paramount–and whether it’s a website, a direct mail piece or a thirty second direct response TV ad, the marketer behind distance selling has thoroughly examined and tested each component of the package.

Most businesses stay firmly planted within one of the above three areas. However, you can realize some valuable business intelligence from studying the methods outside your own area of customer contact. But a necessary first step is to view your business through your customer’s eyes.

Business Direct Marketing – Top 10 Must Do’s For a Successful Program

Let’s face it. Companies spend a big portion of their budgets on print and online advertising. And, we all know that we still get a bunch of “junk” mail. Why? Because it works. While inventing new ways to market your business can sometimes pay off, let’s make sure we do not drop the ball and overlook the ground rules for direct marketing.

Small business owners can effectively use direct marketing to grow their business and build relationships with their current and prospective clients. But, a poorly executed direct marketing program will hurt you where it counts! Here are a few tips to give you a great shot at putting together a successful direct marketing campaign.

1. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Create a marketing plan. Set goals for your direct marketing effort and put it in writing. Share it with key employees and have clear-cut objectives that reflect your marketing research and intuition.

2. Get “personal” with your target audience. Sending a marketing letter to “The Manager” is the best way to get your message ignored and thrown directly into the garbage or virtual trash. Get personal by using and creating marketing databases that have detailed information on the businesses you are trying to reach. Do not be afraid to use this information in your message. This conveys to the recipient that you have done your homework and have a value offering that relates to their business.

3. Test before rolling out your promotion. You have done your research, crafted the look and content of your sales message, and prepared your database. That is a lot of work done to get to that point but do not waste your time and efforts by sending your message out to your list without testing it first. Take a smaller nth name test from your database to see the response to your message. Get a feel for turnaround times, inquiries and general receptiveness to your offer. If you like the reaction, roll it out. If not, change something and test again until you get an acceptable response.

4. Include a “call to action” in your message. Putting your address or phone number is not enough. Stay away from creating open-ended offerings. Reinforce your compelling sales message by telling the recipient of your marketing letter exactly what to do and when.

5. Consider a multiple step direct marketing strategy. With the investment of time and money, it is easy to understand why small business marketers want to make the sale on the first pass of a marketing effort. The ability to do that will depend on your product or service offerings. But, two-step direct marketing has some valuable upsides. It allows you to collect a larger pool of potential customers and build a relationship with this market. In many instances, it provides an opportunity to increase the unit sale and introduce additional products and services.

6. Be a Copycat. Do not resist what is working in your market. Understand what your competitors are doing to get business. Pay special attention to what the market leaders are doing and what promotions are repeated. Other companies have done their market research and testing and, sometimes, you can benefit from their investment by implementing a similar strategy.

7. Follow up with a vengeance. Do not let your direct marketing effort fizzle on the back end. Just like in sales, the weakest link is usually in the follow-up.

8. Perceptions are important. We all want to work with quality people. We all want to deal with quality companies. Make sure your message does not make claims you cannot back up or seems deceptive in any way.

9. Niche out your products and services. Packaging a product or service for a particular group can sell more of your business offerings than if you tried to sell to a general market. If you are a specialized business already, look for sub-markets to sell to. It is more work for sure but, you may find a gold mine. Following tip #2, people respond positively to messages that they can relate to.

10. Make sure you analyze your results. You can easily tell if a direct marketing effort was successful in generating sales. But, be sure you note the qualities of both the positive and negative responses because you can miss valuable sales and marketing information if you do not. Things such as response times, geographical disbursement, respondent job titles, inquiries that turn into sales, and actual client feedback, can help you roll out a more effective direct marketing campaign next time around.

Okay, here is one more bonus tip for you. Make your sales message compelling. Be creative and use your instincts. Remember, every sentence you put on your marketing piece should have a purpose. Leave out extraneous information and be clear with your sales message. Now, go ahead and use these tips, along with your business savvy, to form a successful direct marketing program.