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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
5 Tips to Get your Direct Marketing Message Right
By Martha Guidry

Before you put pencil to paper and start crafting your direct marketing pitch, it is imperative that you lay a foundation to communicate the appropriate message. Often you only have a few minutes to capture the mind and interest of your target audience, thus you want to ensure that you have done your "homework" to create the best chance to resonate with your target customer/consumer.

1. Know your target audience - A thorough understanding of your target audience is essential to messaging. Understanding the reason for their current choices will provide information that you will may need to embrace simply as a cost of entry to the market. In addition, it's important to know, their level of satisfaction with their current products or substitutes and whether they feel like their needs are being met or if they are frustrated. If dissatisfaction exists, what their ideal or perfect solution might look like may provide you an area worthy of exploration assuming your product/service (identified as "product" throughout for simplicity) can deliver.

2. Understand current perceptions of your business/brand - You need to understand how your customer thinks about your product. Understanding the level of engagement with your product may also materially impact your ability to develop compelling messaging. If you are trying to sell to a low engagement category (rug cleaning solution, disability insurance, etc.) you may find it more difficult to identify a meaningful hook to engage the customer. If the customer is not familiar with your brand, you have blue sky for development of your messaging, but understand that it will take more effort (and money) to educate to convert that potential buyer.

3. Gain thorough knowledge of the competition - The competitive context is another piece of essential information. You need to understand the current marketplace, how various competitors are positioned, and any barriers to entry. It is impossible to create meaningful traction in a category if you look and sound like a "me too" offering. The only way to find the opportunity in the market is to determine your point of difference from the other choices - regardless of whether they are near identical offerings or reasonable substitutes. In addition, most business don't want to be the "cheap" or "value" player in a category because there is less opportunity to profit in the long term, so low price is not generally a valuable long-term strategy (unless, of course, you are Walmart with huge buying leverage with suppliers).

4. Be true to your brand equity - If you are an established business or brand in the marketplace, perceptions exist. These may or may not be the equity you desire, but it is a starting place. Think about Apple computer. Their brand is all about innovative design and technology, which is marketed through a youthful, hip lifestyle. It would probably be very difficult for Apple to develop new products that look like everyone else - instead, they set the new benchmark for cell phones, mp3 players and tablets. They've stayed very true to their equity. You need to do the same to prevent confusing your customer.

5. Develop a compelling positioning concept - Armed with the above-mentioned information, you are now ready to craft your positioning concept. A positioning concept, as defined by Procter and Gamble, is a promise a product/services makes to resolve an unmet customer need, the reason why it will satisfy the need, and a description or portrayal of any key element(s) that will affect the perception of the product. Creating a unique positioning concept takes time and effort; it is not something that you sit down at your desk and pick out of thin air. It requires information exchange with your target audience to get the right information communicated as simply and straightforward as possible. Positioning concept development takes time, but is a critical investment or your message will fall flat.

Armed with your winning marketing concept, you can now create a communications strategy with the right elements that will resonate with your target audience. The better focused your concept; the more likely you are to get your messaging on target. It takes some time and work, but your efforts will be rewarded.

About the Author:
Martha Guidry of The Rite Concept helps marketers, product developers, and market researchers win in the marketplace. She partners with teams to identify, create and optimize winning concepts as the linchpin for a successful communication strategy. Guidry is the author of the new book Marketing Concept that Win! Save Time, Money and Work Crafting Concepts Right the First Time, helping readers to understand more about positioning their products and services with their target market. For more information, please visit


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