Get ready now for your new year marketing campaigns

More and more businesses are facing an uncertain future due to the current economic situation, so growing numbers are looking for cost effective ways to drum up new business.

Running a direct marketing campaign is one way of attracting new customers to help protect your business in 2010. The New Year is always a popular time to run a direct marketing or mailing campaign, but it’s never too soon to start your planning and preparations. So here’s a checklist of everything you should do to ensure success:

1. Decide on your offer.

Think carefully about what your direct marketing campaign is going to promote, and who you want to target. The most successful mailings contain some kind of offer or incentive as a spur to action, so see if you have a product line you can offer at a discount, a sales promotion available, or even a freebie you can offer.

Whatever your offer, make sure it’s going to appeal to the people you are going to target. They could be enquirers who have never ordered, customers who’ve not ordered for a long time, small customers who you want to upsell, or even prospects you’ve never contacted before. Link your offer to the action you want your audience to carry out.

2. If you’ve got your own mailing list, get it cleaned.

Mailing inaccurate data is wasteful, costly and unprofessional. It doesn’t matter if it’s a list of businesses or consumers, there are a range of regularly updated suppression files against which your list can be compared and cleaned. You can screen for recent registrations with the Telephone Preference Service or Mailing Preference Service, identify changes of address or even people who have deceased. There are many data cleansing services available ranging from full bureau for larger lists to easy desktop solutions like Easycheck.

3. If your list is incomplete, fill the gaps.

Incomplete data can cause delivery problems which increases wastage. Data records can often be incomplete due to data entry errors, and may lack fields like postcode, contact name, telephone or email address. If you have a fairly small list, then try contacting people on the list to verify that their details are accurate. If you have a larger list or don’t have complete contact details, then it is sometimes possible to have your data enhanced by cross referencing it with other files.

4. If you don’t have a list, find a good one.

A good quality list is at the heart of every successful direct marketing campaign. If you don’t have your own, there are literally hundreds of lists available, from large consumer and business lists covering the whole of the UK, to locally targeted lists of new business start ups in your area from New B2B, or local consumers about to celebrate a birthday from the Birthday Mailings list. Whatever list you choose, look at the source of the data and how it was collected, how often it’s cleaned, the selection criteria available, usage restrictions, and of course pricing or single for multiple use. And it goes without saying that you should only ever buy a list from a reputable supplier who is a member of the Direct Marketing Association.

5. Don’t let your mailer let you down.

It’s surprising how many businesses fall at the last hurdle by sending out a mailshot that looks unprofessional and gets little response. Sometimes a mailing can be seen as a good opportunity to use up old literature or last year’s brochure, or what’s going in the envelope can be completely overlooked until the very last minute. There’s plenty of advice available about what to include in a good mailer, and plenty of creative design agencies ready to help you create something stunning. But generally speaking you can’t go wrong with a well written and personally addressed letter with a clear call to action on it, an accompanying professionally designed leaflet, and a nice quality overprinted envelope to send it all in.

6. Don’t be a one hit wonder.

Sometimes you need to repeat your message several times to get a response. One big mailing followed by nothing may mean you miss out on additional business. That’s why direct marketing campaigns are often staggered into teaser, offer and follow up mailings. Better still, reinforce your mailing by repeating your offer or message through other promotional channels at the same time. Change your website home page and pay per click advertising, carry out email marketing, get editorial coverage or place advertising in industry or regional press, and brief your field sales staff, reps or engineers. Then when that’s all done, plan to follow up the mailing by telephone (as long as your leads aren’t registered with the TPS or CTPS of course).

7. Plan for a good response.

Don’t let your valuable enquiries go to waste, just because your switchboard can’t cope with the sudden influx of calls, or you’ve run out of stock. Brief all your staff on the campaign, and what information they need to give if they should answer an enquiry. Ensure any follow-up literature or samples are ready to be sent, and that you’ve got plenty of stocks of the product line you’ve just put on offer.

8. Measure, measure and measure again.

Keep records of all enquiries and leads from your direct marketing campaign, ideally on a daily basis. Next to this data make a note of when key events took place like when different mailings hit or follow ups took place. With this invaluable data to hand you’ll be able to analyse to your heart’s content, identifying key measures like conversion rates, cost per acquisition and cost per order. After a while you’ll start to spot important trends like a certain combination of offers or mailings working particularly well, or a peak time of the week for responses. Then you can keep your campaign going for longer or plan better campaigns in the future by further mining these seams of success.