8 Rules for Direct Marketing Success

Direct marketing is more science than art

Planning and implementing direct marketing programs for start ups and Fortune 100 companies teaches many things. But these 8 rules for success emerge after working with Microsoft, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Sherwin-Williams, American Airlines (among many others) as well as numerous small and medium sized companies.

1. Direct marketing is mostly science and partly art. But the science leads the way.

2. Think of your long-term success by prioritizing in this manner.

- Put customers first. Your customers fund future marketing activities. So focus on their needs above all.

- Create products and services that present and future customers need and will generate the margins you need.

- Hire the best talent available for your creative work. Copy is still king in direct response. But don't neglect graphics talent that promptly communicates the meaning of the words.

- Know your market. This includes their demographics and psychographics. This means knowing your customers first and targeting like people in your ongoing promotions. Do you know the size of your target market, how many customers have purchased from you in the last 12 months, how many fell by the wayside and so on? If you don't, then you don't know your customers.

3. Make the most of your time because the market changes quickly.

4. Numbers drive everything in direct marketing. You start with numbers and in the end, make decisions based on numbers.

5. Seasonality is more important than repetition. Spend minimally during your down cycle.

6. If the results aren't there to begin with, then try something totally new. Tweaking things will not get you to where you need to be.

7. Focus on the discipline of direct marketing testing and evaluation. Rely upon hard facts.

8. Treat your channels like your customers do. They use multiple channels to gather product information and respond through several channels. So make sure you integrate your channels with the proper timing and message consistency.

Is there a number 9? If so, what is it?