Marketing is the process of promoting services or products to customers. In other words, where your business website is concerned, marketing is how you get people to come to your website and buy your products. We’ll take a look at the two main types of market next: image marketing and direct marketing.
Image Marketing vs. Direct Marketing
When you think of marketing, you probably think of the most famous advertising campaigns. After all, possibly as many people watch the Super Bowl each year for the funny and innovative commercials as for the actual sport.
Television commercials, magazine ads, business cards, and billboards are all examples of “image branding.” This is the type of marketing most people are familiar with and is one of the more common methods of marketing.
Although image branding works very well for big corporations like Pepsi and Geico, it tends not to be a feasible option for people who own small businesses. After all, you don’t quite have the resources at your disposal that those big corporations do. You have less than millions of dollars and not as much time as those big businesses either!
Most image branding that is out there does nothing besides let you know the company name, slogan, and logo. While these things are important when it comes to creating a professionally attractive business that people will remember, they aren’t exactly compelling reasons to do business with one company over another. For example, you wouldn’t say, “I would rather drink Pepsi than Coke because Pepsi has a better catch phrase.”
Image based marketing really only gets your name out there. It doesn’t make a compelling argument for the superiority of your products over those of your competitors. It also does not present any reason to a consumer to buy your product over another.
Direct marketing, on the other hand, is more assertive than image marketing. It is designed to get a response from a customer immediately, whether it is a negative one or a sale.
Because of the nature of direct marketing, you can make money for your product right away, instead of hoping that your commercials work and possibly getting a ripple effect weeks or months later. Direct marketing presents your company information in a way that paints a complete picture, including a description of the products you offer and why they are better than other people’s.
When your potential customers read your direct response marketing materials, they will go to the phone and call you. You won’t have to depend on them simply happening to remember the name of your company more than others when they need the services you offer.
Direct marketing presents a message that benefits your targeted customer. It communicates something that will help your customer either to avoid some sort of loss or solve a problem he might be having. These are the genuine reasons why a customer will hire you, not because you have a pretty model in a shiny ad or a slogan that makes people laugh.
Also, because you will be able to keep track of your direct marketing better than if you did image marketing, you will be able to know exactly how much extra money your marketing is earning you in business. This will help you know what you need to do to advance the customer base of your company.
You can see that direct marketing should yield much better results than image branding. If you want to be able to make money on your website now, use direct marketing. If you don’t mind waiting for profit, while spending a lot of the profit you are already making, you should go with image based marketing. Image marketing really only pays any dividends for companies with a lot of money and time to invest. Wouldn’t it be better for you to direct market, which will let you track your results and reach your customers in a way they will appreciate?
If direct response marketing sounds like the way you want to go, you now need to know what exactly it is and how to do it. Let’s find out now!
What is Direct Marketing?
We have already looked at the differences between direct marketing and image based marketing. What would set your direct marketing campaign apart from an image based one?
When you look at image marketing, in a magazine ad for example, you’ll see an ad that is smooth and shiny, but does not include a lot of information. Most of the ads in a magazine look basically the same. They have a lot of nice pictures with very few words and no headlines. They will also have a lot of blank space.
A lot of people think that this negative space in an ad is unusable because most people will just flip over it and not read a lot of words that are printed there. However, if something in the ad catches their eye and they are interested in the product being marketed, they will then want to know as much as possible about the product before spending any money on it.
Remember, the more information you give to your customers, the better your chance that they will buy what you are selling. So don’t waste any “white space” in your ads. That is where you will make money!
Your direct response marketing ad would look much different than the image-based one. It would have several features that are dissimilar. Your ad would stand out because it would:
Include a lot of words, whether in small print or otherwise.
Have a headline at the top of the page that draws in the person viewing the advertisement.
Stay away from generalities about a product and have specific benefits instead.
Include some sort of promise, guarantee, or reference.
Have at least one offer for your customer, but preferably two.
State exactly how a customer can buy your product. In other words, it will tell him what to do next now that he has seen and appreciated your ad.
Include extra incentive to act right away.
Direct marketing can also be defined as marketing by means of direct communication with your customers. If you chose to use it, you will have many types of media available to you.
Any advertisement you see that asks you to take some sort of action, like visiting a website, calling an 800 number, placing an order, returning some sort of response card, or completing a survey, is considered to be direct marketing. Besides magazines and newspapers, direct marketing can include:
Mail. From postcards to those inserts in your credit card bill, you can use many means of mail as a marketing tool. We will discuss mailing methods again later.
Door hangers. Just print them up and put them on the doors of potential clients.
Package inserts. If you customer orders a product from you, include something in the shipping package offering extra discounts to ensure repeat business.
Radio. Those long radio ads with lots of information actually work as a good direct marketing tool. People listen to what they say.
E-mail. This method is cheap but may be hard to use due to heightened spam filters available today. However, just a click or two could make the effort pay off for your business.
Internet banner ads. Because a person can click on them to get to your website from other sites, banner ads are considered direct marketing.
Billboards and transit ads. When people are bored because they are stuck in traffic on their morning commutes, if they are interested in your product they’ll call the number on the ad.
Telemarketing. You can hire a firm to call people for you and try to direct them to your website or product.
Infomercials. These include a lot of information for the viewer and prompt him to call an 800 number to order your product. If you include your website, many people will visit it before ordering your product to get more information. Customers also might prefer ordering from your website because they might feel their credit card information is more secure.
That’s right. You can make almost anything work for you in direct marketing, although the one most widely used is by sending materials through the postal system. How do you use that channel?
Direct Marketing Using Mail
Although any means that lets you communicate with potential customers can be used as direct marketing, the most common one is by using the mail system. If you want to get people to your website, maybe you should consider using the postal service to spread your message for you! Best of all, if you fit into the guidelines of the postal service, you will be able to take advantage of bulk mailing rates, so you can advertise without breaking the bank.
Direct mail alone gives you a lot of different choices with your marketing. Besides the obvious catalog you could send out that promotes ordering products from your website, you could use these common formats:
Postcards. These simple, two-sided cards have your information on one side and the customer’s address on the other. They are affordable to print and send but a little limited in scope due to their size.
Self-Mailers. These have your promotional business information printed on a sheet of paper that is then folded in half or in thirds to be sent. The outside of the paper will need to have the customer’s address on it and some sort of message that will entice the customer to open the flyer.
Envelope Mailers. These are more like standard letters received in the mail. You can put more than one insert in an envelope and might even find other businesses to split the cost of postage with you if they can be included in the envelope.
Snap Mailers. These fold down and seal when you put pressure on them. The recipient will open it by tearing off the sides to show the message.
Poly-bag Packages. Although very effective, they are very expensive to send. It consists of full-color marketing materials sealed in a clear plastic bag that lets the recipient see the contents. This almost always guarantees that the recipient will open it to see what is inside.
As you can see, direct marketing through the mail has many advantages. If you have already had success with customers in the past, you can target them with your direct mail and save some money not having to “stab in the dark”. If you are going after previous customers to get them back to your website, you’ll be able to personalize your direct mail to them.
Since direct marketing through mail has obviously recorded results, you can through trial and error eventually find the best time frame and the best area of people to send your information to. You can also keep track of who responded and who didn’t to find out what sort of people might be more likely to respond. That way you can focus on them and get the most bang for your buck!
Disadvantages of direct mailing are relatively few compared to the benefits you can get. They might include:
Waste. A lot of your unsolicited material will probably be thrown away, even if it is read and responded to by a customer. This in the long run of course has a negative effect on the environment.
Every year, over one hundred million trees are used to produce direct mail. Americans alone receive four million tons of it a year. And two hundred fifty thousand homes could be heated with only one day’s supply of direct mail.
You can see this concern is not one to be taken lightly!
Cost. Although your results from direct marketing through the mail might be very good, the cost is generally more than other media you might use. You must do some research in your area to find out whether the higher cost compared to other marketing will be balanced out by better results.
Estrangement. Yes, it sounds drastic, but if you unwittingly mail out materials that some people find offensive, your company might be viewed with hostility. Many people don’t like having advertisements forced upon them anyway, so some may have short tempers when it comes to receiving direct marketing through the mail.
We now come to the biggest disadvantage you might face when it comes to direct mail, and that is the negative stigma that is attached to it. If you send out materials to recipients who find them immaterial for their needs, then you will be said to have sent out the dreaded “junk mail” or “spam.”
Many advertising circulars, credit card applications, free internet service provider CDs, or car dealer promotional fliers go right into the trash because they are not considered relevant by the recipient. So if you are thinking about direct marketing through mail, you should consider targeting your audience, perhaps buying a list from someone who caters to certain interests. For example, if your website sells horse tack and supplies, perhaps you could buy a list of subscribers to a horse magazine or newsletter. In that way the people you mail to will actually have some previous interest in what you are selling.
If you are careful to target your audience, many people might even find your direct mail to be convenient to their goals or purposes. In that way both you and your customers will come out on top. So don’t be intimated by the ins and outs of direct response marketing through the mail. It is a time honored system that has worked for many others and can work for you too!
Direct Marketing for a Response
Remember, one of the biggest advantages you’ll have with direct marketing is that you will be able to gauge the success or failure of your marketing strategy right away!
For example, say you have a pizza business. If you send fifteen thousand mailers out into the community with a discount coupon on each one, within the next couple of weeks you will be able to tell how many people actually responded based on how many coupons you take in.
Direct marketing can then be said to be measured directly. You will be able to tell easily what percentage of success you had with your mailers, because you will be able to figure out how many customers responded. You will also have relatively few variables to take into account.
This is much better than image branding, the results of which can only be measured indirectly and must take into account a lot of different factors. With image marketing you would only really be able to guess whether your advertising has been successful. After all, maybe more people are eating your pizza just because it happens to be football season and they need something hot to munch on while watching the game.
Since you will be able to tell exactly what results you are getting with your direct marketing campaign, in the future you will be able to tailor your marketing to the people who will be the most likely to respond.
Just keep track of the demographics and location of people most interested in your product, and target the marketing at them. Eventually you will be able to reach a high rate of efficiency with your direct marketing and that just makes good business sense. Not only will you get to spend less in advertising, but what you do spend will be doing a good job of working for you.
You too can play the direct marketing game and succeed. Even though it might seem daunting at first, you should certainly never be afraid of making a profit! Your business website will thrive if you just put in the effort to market it.
Something else that will help you to get the most out of your website and marketing tools is tracking the traffic that goes to your website. We’ll look at how to do that now.