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In a recent blog post at BrandRepublic, Simon Kershaw identifies some interesting examples of sales and marketing incentives.

His suggestions of incentives are well worth repeating here:

  • A reward for doing something.
  • The potential to lose out if you don’t act.
  • A pleasant surprise for responding.
He describes these incentives as "Carrots, sticks and chocolates" respectively.

In our view the incentives are also ranked in order of the most commonly used, and so raise interesting ideas for using some of the less common forms of incentives.

For example how often do marketing campaigns remember to include an incentive for responding now, and how often do businesses go so far as providing a surprise incentive just for responding or ordering?

A recent article over at The Marketing Donut gives advice on how to <a title="write slogan for your business" href="" target="_blank">write an effective slogan for your business</a>. A good slogan can help you stand out from the crowd, and can be widely used on all your marketing materials including direct marketing tools.

<!--more-->The article suggests you should construct a slogan which doesn't exaggerate or make unfounded claims, and which accurately describes the benefits of your product or service - all good advice.

We'd also suggest another way to construct a slogan is to start by addressing three key questions; who are you serving, what do you give them and how do you provide it? So for Selectabase we could maybe describe our service as:

"<em>Selectabase provides businesses with simple ways to increase sales using direct marketing data</em>."

From there you can inject some more creativity to prepare a more catchy slogan, like our own of "Simple, Selective, Selectabase".

For more help on this you can use our <a title="free direct mail letter writing advice" href="" target="_self">free direct marketing letter writing tool</a> which gives advice on constructing a catchy heading and also a full sales letter to go with it.

A new system of digital watermarking has been launched by Royal Mail, which could help mailings of the future improve response rates and acheive greater integration between online and offline marketing.

<!--more-->According to <a title="Brand Republic" href="" target="_blank">Brand Republic</a>, the system uses triggers contained within a mailers art and design, which when viewed with a smartphone app give access to rich online media such as a Facebook page or video. Consumers must download the free Digital Space app to see the rich media, and the service is intended as an alternative to quick response codes.

We have blogged before about what <a href="" target="_self">digital and direct marketing can learn from each other</a> and in particular how close integration can be used to <a href="" target="_self">improve CRM</a>.

This latest advance in technology builds on these techniques and may also present opportunities for delivering more targeted online content via direct mail, although what's not clear yet is if the digital watermarking technology can be tailored to each recipient.

To coincide with the latest series of The Apprentice, a recent survey has shown that marketing is one of the least likely professions to be interested in appearing on the hit TV show.

The survey released by recruitment agency EMR, showed that 73% of marketers were inclined to refuse an opportunity to appear on the show, but it was a different story in other professions with 68% of accountants similarly reluctant, 64% of lawyers, 55% of HR professionals and 53% of those working in IT.

EMR managing director commented that “it’s possible those in the marketing and communications are particularly committed to their current roles. But I fear the results may reflect that, while people in other professions are becoming more confident about the future again, marketers are still worried – unnecessarily, in my view – about their prospects if they were to go on the show and fail to win the series. Maybe marketers are just naturally more wary about the potential damage to their personal brand than other professions.”

Or perhaps marketing professionals see The Apprentice as the search for a 'super salesperson' rather than a marketer equipped with creativity, finesse and insight?

This afternoon see's the launch of an exclusive offer on the New B2B direct marketing service for followers of Selectabase on Twitter.

Between 2.00pm and 4.00pm Twitter followers will be able to claim a special one month trial of New B2B marketing leads for just £50 instead of the usual 12 month contract.

The offer allows businesses looking to get more B2B clients from their local area to receive details of new business start ups, replacing businesses and changes in ownership - all proven to need a wide range of b2b products and services.

To claim the special deal, simply follow Selectabase on Twitter and then send a Direct Message via Twitter - the Selectabase team will then be in touch to set up the trial.

Sometimes customers tell us they’ve been offered a one off database of businesses or consumers at a ridiculously low price, and ask whether the list is worth it? Our advice is to only ever buy a mailing list from a reputable source as the risks of doing otherwise are simply too great.

A good example of the many ‘dodgy’ lists doing the rounds is an email we recently received ourselves from a company in the US offering over 32 million names and addresses for lists of mobile phone users, CEO’s, debt leads and loan leads. The cost of all this data – just $425. Sounds too good to be true? Well that’s because it is.

  • First off the data is from the US and being pitched to UK companies. An inexperienced data buyer may not realize this and end up with data for the wrong country.
  • Secondly, look more closely at the lists and it appears that the most recent is at least 12 months old and some are even older than that. Data is constantly changing as people move home or move jobs. For example we rebuild our larger databases every month and always screen against the latest suppression files before releasing any list.
  • Next, the data is probably likely to be extremely inaccurate. At that price there won’t have been any data cleansing or enhancing carried out and so a good proportion of your mailings will probably never reach their destination. Those that do could go straight in the bin because the recipients name is spelt incorrectly.
  • Talking of wastage, you’re not likely to get much of a response from a list of this type because the source is unknown and it’s going to be so inaccurate. Pretty much any mailing you send is going to be a fruitless exercise and wasted money.
  • Finally and most importantly, there are legal implications in buying data when you don’t know how it was obtained. Have the people on the list opted in to receive mailings from third parties? If you go ahead and mail them you could be flouting the law.
Always buy your data from a reputable and known source, even if you are offered an incredible deal. Whatever money you think you might be saving on your list will be exceeded by the cost of mailing unresponsive and inaccurate data.

Top tips on growing your business and getting more sales by using cost effective direct marketing techniques.

1.    Identify and contact your key existing customers. Put in place an ongoing CRM program designed to retain and grow your key clients, who often account for the majority of your sales. Schedule regular telemarketing calls, and send quality mailshots targeted to individual customers.

2.    Keep in regular contact with your remaining customers. Use direct marketing as a cost effective way to stay in touch with the majority of customers outside your top clients. Send regular newsletters about your business and direct mailshots with exclusive customer offers.

3.    Follow up your leads. Make sure that the sales leads and enquiries you receive from emails, website enquiries, events, phone enquiries and so on are logged into a database and then followed up on a regular basis using direct mail.

4.    Find more prospects like your existing customers. Profile who your best existing customers are and what they have in common, then set out to find more leads like them based on their type of business, location, lifestyle, age and so on. Source a mailing list that matches these criteria and send them a mailing.

5.    Identify and target new markets for your existing products. Work out who else your product or service could be sold to, then source a mailing list of these prospects. Send a mailing which includes testimonials from your current customers.

6.    Launch new products for your existing markets. If you can identify simple add-on’s and product extensions which are cost effective to produce, then launch them to your existing customers first using a mailing. They’ll be more receptive and give you valuable feedback. But be careful not to split your current sales.

7.    Find and target new markets for new products. Research potential markets for your new products and then source mailing lists of potential customers, to contact using direct mail and/or telemarketing ( but make sure phone numbers are screened against the TPS or CTPS).

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