I know a lot of entrepreneurs who don't get terribly excited about direct marketing. Some of them just don't think it's very interesting, probably envisioning postcards that end up in the trash. Others think it's intrusive, thinking about telemarketers calling during dinnertime. And still other entrepreneurs think direct marketing is something they can't afford. The fact is, though, that some types of direct marketing can be exciting, effective and affordable.
The whole idea of marketing is to find a way to stand out, to try something that cements your company in the minds of consumers. Here are a few of my favorite types of direct marketing that may change your mind about this tactic.
1. Attend a consumer show.
I've had people roll their eyes when I've recommended this strategy, but hear me out.
Find a local consumer event—think bridal extravaganza or a home and garden show—and sign up for a space. You'll have to invest in the space rental and spend a little on your display, but when you compare show costs to radio or print advertising, the prices may seem much more reasonable.
It doesn't matter if your industry isn't the first one that comes to mind for people attending the show. Being different is good! A friend of mine owns a wine shop and was invited to participate in a bridal show. He nearly blew it off but decided to go ahead with it. He had more wedding business than he could handle that year, and now he's the preferred vendor for a number of wedding planners and caterers. It doesn't hurt to think outside the box!
2. Customize something useful.
Yes, lots of direct mail advertisements end up in the trash. And sure, people delete lots of emails without ever reading them. But people love free stuff, especially if it's useful.
Consider exploring the wide array of items you can customize with your company name—you may discover just how many different ways you can touch potential customers.
These types of direct marketing strategies can effectively keep you company front and center. And you don't have to spend a fortune. Ballpoint pens can cost pennies. Customizable coffee mugs can cost less than a dollar. Baseball hats can cost less than two dollars.
Whether you keep your logo-branded pens at the cash register or you hand out water bottles at your kid's soccer match, you may find that people are delighted to tote your logo around when it's on something they find useful.
3. Use the buddy system and partner with another business.
Another way you can initiate a successful direct marketing campaign is to partner with another company in your area.
And again, consider pairing up with someone unexpected. If you're an accountant, maybe you partner with a lawn care company. You share your mailing lists and you send out a double offer—a discount on tax preparation and a discount on the first lawn treatment. Your partnership may be memorable because it's unusual, and you'll have a buddy to help defray the expense. Oh—and you're both reaching new customers!
Book store and hair salon… Sporting goods and pizza shop… The pairings for this type of direct marketing are limitless.
4. Send lumpy mail.
As we increasingly shift toward more cost-effective digital marketing, real-live snail mail can become even more of a standout, whether its for consumers or B2B clients. And when there's something inside an envelope or box—an actual object—we're like children on Christmas morning.
If you want a higher percentage of people to open your direct mail piece, then think about making it lumpy. What's inside needn't be terribly costly. You can also limit your mailing list to a certain demographic—a new neighborhood or a specific group of potential clients you're wanting to land.
While lumpy mail may be one of the pricier types of direct marketing, it can certainly be memorable and effective.
These types of direct marketing strategies can be powerful. Being face-to-face with a slew of new potential customers at a consumer event can be a big opportunity. Imagine how many impressions you can make, how many people could meet you, see your passion and have a reason to seek you and your company out. Imagine all the people who could see your company name on the pens or coffee mugs you give to your best customers and ask, "Who's that?"
Reaching out and making positive and memorable impressions is what direct marketing is all about. And these types of direct marketing strategies can help you do just that
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