Direct marketing works in the opposite way to indirect marketing, such as social media posts and advertising. Rather than encouraging prospects to come to you, you are going to them. Aim for quality rather than quantity – focus on the prospects who have the most potential to be great customers. You should have a database that helps you find and keep track of all the potential customers in your area – at ActionCOACH, we use Hubspot. What you do with this knowledge depends on what form of direct marketing you use. There are four main types to choose from: email, direct mail, phone and walk-ins.
Email – the tool we use every day
Email marketing is possibly the quickest way to target your prospects. Aim for a personal style. People won’t want to read something that looks like yet another automated message; they will only be interested if it is relevant and relatable to them. To get them to open an email, you need a strong subject headline. You can test a few different headlines for the same email by sending to a small sample of prospects, then monitoring the open rate. Alternatively, you can test and measure by using different headlines in Google ads and monitoring the click through rate (CTR) for each one.
In the body of the email itself, include an offer, e.g. a voucher or freebie, prospects will then have something to gain by getting involved with you. This is particularly important if this is the first time you have emailed them (please be aware of GDPR rules). Depending on the exact nature of the email, you may also need to include links to other sources. These should be trackable links so you can test and measure. If you’re using a CRM system like Hubspot or Zoho, the software will do this for you.
Direct mail – who doesn’t love a hand-written postcard?
Direct mail comes in several forms – flyers, letters, catalogues, postcards etc. These may not be as widely used in the digital era, yet they can still be an effective way of reaching out to your prospects directly. As with emails, you have to communicate on a personal level that shows your reader what’s in it for them.
You also have to make direct mail memorable. One way to do this is to use what ActionCOACH founder Brad Sugars describes as “lumpy mail” – that is, a letter or small package containing a small freebie or souvenir that is relevant to your message. The more original, the better – you really want the reader to remember who you are.
Phone – get them talking!
This method is often known as telemarketing. The aim here is not to sell right away, but to establish a rapport and make progress towards a sale. You need to start with open questions that get to the point and establish how your business is of interest to the other person. This is why you need a script – not so that you are mechanically reading everything word for word, but so you have an idea of what you need to say when.
If you are aiming to call prospects, you need to know how to present yourself on the phone. You need to speak with a confident tone and a familiar approach in order to put them at ease and establish trust. Remember, you are not trying to force your business on them; you are simply making the first step towards establishing their loyalty.
Walk in – speaking in person
Walk In selling works in a similar way to telemarketing. It’s a great strategy for B2B businesses. You need to be good at talking to people in a way that gets to the point and gains their interest. Start by asking “Is the business owner in?” and if they are, “Can I see them?”
Start by introducing yourself and explaining a bit about your business, e.g. “Hi, I’m [name]. I’m running [brief explanation of service] and I was wondering if you’d like to get involved?”
Remember, the other person could give any number of responses, so try and prepare for as many as possible when planning your script. Although you don’t want to sound too scripted and robotic, it is important to know roughly what you are going to say and how you can handle different responses.
The most common objection to a walk in sale… ‘HAVE YOU GOT AN APPOINTMENT?’
You can easily respond with something like: “No, I [brief explanation of service] and I wondered if they’d like to be involved, can I just quickly introduce myself and ask them?”
You also need to be mindful of who it is worth pursuing. Don’t keep persisting with people who clearly aren’t relevant to your demographic. The idea is to form valuable connections with like-minded people in a way that will benefit both parties.
To learn more about how to make direct marketing work for you, please take our Business Marketing Test here.