In direct marketing, the biggest mistake you can make is launching a campaign without a plan. Many inexperienced marketers will send out a direct mail piece just to “get something out there.” While direct mail is an extremely effective marketing tool, going into it without a purpose or any background knowledge is a recipe for disaster. There are many elements that should be addressed before you officially launch a direct marketing campaign. By going through these seven elements step-by-step, you will create a direct marketing plan that is focused, effective, and most importantly, achievable.
Step 1) Objective – Your direct marketing objective sets the tone for the whole campaign because it explicitly states what you are trying to accomplish. Your objective needs to be quantifiable, measurable, and specific. Often, objectives use some kind of number in order to quantify it and easily measure its success, such as “Acquire 100 new customers in two months.” The objective is specific in what it’s trying to accomplish, as well as its time frame. By choosing a specific objective that you can easily quantify and measure, not only will you be more likely to achieve your objective, you will also be able to prove that you achieved it.
Step 2) Background – Also known as a situation analysis, the background is an assessment of the environment that you’re going to be marketing in. Anything that will affect how you’ll achieve your objective should be addressed in the background stage of your direct marketing plan. Some key things to look at include:
- Past results – What has worked in the past? What hasn’t?
- Product/service offerings – Are there any changes in your offerings? Prices?
- Competition – What are they doing differently? How are they marketing their products/services?
- What’s going on in your other sales channels? How are those products/services being sold and how are they finding success.
Step 3) Target Audience – Another extremely important element of your direct marketing plan is the audience; who you’re directing your marketing message to. Direct marketing is meant to be an individual, one-to-one experience. This means that the more you know about your target audience, the more you will understand them, the more relevant your message will be, and the more likely they will be to respond.
Step 4) Strategy – This is how you’re going to achieve your objective. The main component of your direct marketing strategy is your offer. By knowing your objective, your background, and your target audience, you should be equipped with the information you need to create an offer that will compel response. You need to figure out what you can offer your target audience that will get them over that hump into a purchasing position. The other component of the strategy is testing. Different offers should be tested among your target audience so you can gain more knowledge on what it is your audience responds to. Some examples of offers include price discounts, product giveaways, contests, and free content.
Step 5) Tactics – While direct marketing plans typically have only one strategy, they can have multiple tactics. That is, how you’re actually going to distribute your marketing message, to who, and at what times. Will it be with a post card? A letter? A brochure? Will you send different direct mail pieces to different audiences? When will they be receiving your direct mail piece? Every tactic you use in your direct marketing plan should add up to prove you are going to be able to achieve your objective.
Step 6) Budget & Forecast – The budget and forecast is typically very specific to the individual tactics and helps to determine whether your tactics will collectively achieve your objective. Each tactic should be forecasted in terms of the response it will get, the number of sales it will drive, and the cost of making those sales. When all of the tactics are added up, you should be achieving your objective. The best forecasts are based on results of marketing you’ve done in the past. It gives you the rationale as to why you think you can achieve your objective.
Step 7) Measurement Strategy – The final element of your direct marketing plan is your measurement strategy. Because direct marketing is measurable and quantifiable, there needs to be a strategy in place that tells you exactly how you’re going to measure your results. The things that need to be in the measurement strategy:
- What metrics are you measuring? What’s important to you? Is it number of new customers? Sales?
- Where are you going to get the information for those metrics? Call centre? Online? Sales reports? Work with your data team to figure out where you’re going to get the information you need.
- How and when are you going to analyze and report on the results? One week after the campaign? One month? One quarter?
If you need assistance launching your direct marketing campaign, contact your sales representative to book a free consultation today!