If you run or participate in your company’s direct marketing campaigns, look for these major areas of opportunity.
1. Poor understanding of the company’s customer and prospecting databases
The lifeblood of a company’s future income rests in the quality of their relational database. Yet many CMOs, and CEOs rarely master their understanding of their database.
Why? Because they don’t view it as critical to the company’s future.
How can you project your longer-term sales potential or ability to grow your business without knowing the size and share of wallet your database represents?
Ask these questions to see if you are in danger of losing major selling opportunities.
- How many names represent your target market?
- How much does this market fluctuate from month to month?
- What is your percentage of penetration in terms of one time versus multiple sales?
If your marketing team does not know the answers to these basic questions, then you are not maximizing your selling opportunities.
2. Little to no testing in multichannel activities
Why is this critical?
Your target market universe is limited regardless of the type of business you are in. You can expand internationally to grow your business. But ultimately you will run out of prospects (or circulation).
So what can you do when creaming sales off the top no longer works?
This leaves you with several options such as creating new products that allow you to maintain your margins. But most direct marketers know that the most profitable key strategy lies in increasing your penetration.
This means selling deeper into your prospect databases and increasing repeat sales with existing customers.
Increasing the advertising budget represents the most common way to penetrate your market. But direct marketers have found a better way to do this.
Test various channel combinations to increase market penetration. We call this multichannel marketing.
Many companies can do this without increasing their budgets.
For example, support direct mail lead generation by overlaying outbound telemarketing. This often increasing lead response from .5% to 3-5% on those names selected to receive a follow-up call.
Increase website visits by sending direct mail to qualified prospects and email to existing customers. Create a special landing page that rewards those who click through with a special offer.
The multimedia combinations are endless and testable. When properly tested, multichannel efforts yield lower costs per sale than single channel campaigns.
3. Companies throw up response barriers when they don’t put the customer first
You could spend your entire marketing career addressing this one area alone.
What causes companies to raise sales barriers?
I think this is a symptom of focusing on internal problems rather than an outward focus on the customer.
Your first question when looking at your selling processes should never be “How can we make this process easier for the company?” But rather “How can we make this process easier and more convenient for the customer?”
You will get every excuse under the sun to making the application process three page affair rather than one half of a page because this is legally required. Never mind that the lawyer is trying to protect himself as much as he is trying to protect the company.
Challenge every statement. Show how competitors skip these overkill requirements. Make it clear that operational decisions that reduce response or customer sales need to be backed up to the hilt. Don’t accept “No” for an answer.
Push for your customers because the bureaucracy is looking out for itself and not the customer.As the marketer, you are above all else the customer’s advocate.
Another excuse you will hear is “Our systems cannot handle this yet?”
Wait a minute. The company has been in business for 55 years and our systems still can’t handle this! Again, challenge the bureaucracy. If you don’t, your company begins to look like a stagnant monolith.
And we have plenty of those already. Just take a look at any government entity.
If you’re sending emails to prospects, make sure that any form within the email is fillable so they don’t have to print it out, sign it and then fax it. Eliminate these scales barriers.
In fact, let them click through to a landing page that they can respond to immediately. If they need to purchase, offer them every major credit card available. If they need to sign something, set up the page for a digital signature.
When a customer calls in desiring a quote or to buy something, make sure the operator can pull up the full customer/prospect file. Don’t make the customer repeat information you should already know (except for security questions, of course).
Remember, meet your customer’s expectations and respect their time more than your own by never asking the same questions twice. And this includes forwarding a customer’s call to another department.
Don’t irritate the customer by going through the security questions again and again.
The worst offense of all is to put prospects or customers through the torture of multiple options when making a call. Customers will punish companies that treat them this way. If you can’t answer your phone calls and offer a live person early in the process, then you should simply go out of business.
In the end… All three of the areas revolve around treating your customer as if the company’s prosperity, and very survival depended upon it. Remember. If you aren’t watching out for your customers, then nobody else in the company will.