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Sell to the Right Audience
by Ray Jutkins

At a session of Direct Marketing Days in Singapore, a friend of mine made a presentation that included the statement that there are really only five things you do with direct response:

  1. Get new customers.
  2. Keep the customers you now have.
  3. Get those customers to upgrade.
  4. Cross sell to your customers.
  5. Encourage your customers to come back for more!

If you believe this (and I do), it quickly becomes obvious that your message must be sent to the right audience -- that is, the list you use for direct mail, the magazine or newspaper selection, the right audience for broadcast, the best possible list for telemarketing.

Selecting the right audience is the most important part of the direct response marketing program. Dull creative, a weak offer and sloppy production don't help. But even with these strikes against you, if you get your message to the right people-business or consumer -- at least it has a chance of working.

Vice versa is not true. Award winning creative, a strong offer, the best you can make-superior production all goes for naught if you aim your message to the wrong target. Target marketing-direct marketing-is like diving 75 feet into a bucket of water. It hurts when you miss!

To help you hit your target, here's a laundry list of 11 thoughts to remember, select from and use them as fitting. They are not ideas for you to adopt, rather they are for you to adapt for your particular and special needs:

1. Clearly define and refine your market, your audience, before you begin your creative processes. Define all the geographic areas (belts) and "graphics" in the beginning. Make certain your reference materials and statistics are no more than 12 months old. Know your audience.

2. Occupational segmentation to a target audience can work many times. Categories should be specific, such as electrical engineers vs. just engineers; fast food restaurants vs. all restaurants; trial lawyers vs. all lawyers; home builders vs. general contractors; dentists vs. the health care field, and independent insurance agents vs. those company specific.

The same goes for departments within companies. If you want to communicate with a personnel department, make certain your message indicates that is your audience.

3. Understand that business marketing and consumer marketing are different. Also, remember that in both you are talking to people individuals-not companies. Talk to your audiences, all of them, as people. Talk to them "one-on-one."

4. Without a doubt, a name is better than a title-but only if it is the right name! If you do not have a name, or are unsure of the accuracy, use a title. Title addressing can and does work, for both business and consumer marketing.

5. Change titles when you change industry or level of contact. Talk to your audiences in their own languages. Don't talk down; don't talk up. Talk to them eye-to-eye. Using the correct titles for a specific industry group will let your audience know you took time enough to care.

6. Know that you have scores of selections and options. Be innovative in your selection of best audiences. Go to more than one source. Mix and match until you are comfortable that you have the best combination. Then roll it out and keep on testing!

7. Buy the best list, not the biggest or the least expensive. The best list will get you the best results Anything less won't work as well. Your successes will come because you talked to the right audience, not because you talked to lots of people.

8. Don't be concerned about duplication on your mailing list. In most situations duplication won't hurt. In fact, it might help. Your audience will grow because your package will be routed to others. This is not always true for consumer marketing, but it most certainly is for business. Measure results in orders, not numbers of packages mailed, nor number of dupes. Only orders count.

9. Know who does not respond and find out why. If you can, change, correct, enhance and hit that group again. And again. If not, drop them and go on with others where your success ratio is higher. You will not get a hit every time.

10. In the beginning, plan to track your results in the end. Make it measurable from Day One. Make certain all the research you've done up front gets measured on the back-end. Know what you want and need to know to assure a profitable program ... and then measure against those goals.

11. Try old ideas now ... save new ideas and try them in the future. There is no such thing as a bad idea, just ideas whose time haven't come. Bring back the old audience ideas you've had in the past but haven't tested, and try them. Re-test those that came close to working. See if you can get them on track. And don't throw away ideas you have now just because they don't fit today.

Add color. Salt and pepper. Turn it inside-out. Upside-down. Backwards. Over. Add, subtract, multiply, divide. Give your "new" idea the old college try Do it again. Mix 'em Match 'em. And do it again.

By selecting from these 11 "rules," you'll do a better job of selecting the right audience. Good Marketing!
###

About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005. Ray was one of the NMOA’s most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of many. Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa. Keep an eye out for more of Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of Direct Marketing Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.

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