Thursday, March 6, 2008

Direct Marketing Message

It is very interesting to see how our world is changing in terms of what resonates with the consumers or businesses that receive our marketing messages. In fact, there is a growing school of thought that believes that you can't push out DM messaging very effectively at all anymore. Nope, it's all about customers getting involved with the conversation about your product and providing their feedback to other "would-be" customers. The world of Social Marketing is proving this to be true.

So, are our traditional direct marketing efforts a waste of time? Happily for us, the answer is no. However, there are definitely some important factors to consider when creating your message. One author, Clayton Makepeace, thinks that one of the main reasons why this shift is occurring is that the Gen-X generation is one of the largest purchasing audiences today. Gen-Xers are between the ages of 26 and 46 years-old and are, as a group, highly skeptical and cynical. Hence, they are going to be highly skeptical of anything that "smells" salesy. Makepeace recommends taking a look at your messaging -- as well as the marketing strategy around that message. Here are three areas that he thinks this inherent skepticism has on our DM efforts today:

1. One-shot customer-acquisition promotions are going the way of the dinosaurs.

Today, it’s all about the relationship between your company and your customer… and building credibility and friendship over time. While marketers who deliver value, invite involvement, and create a sense of community among prospective customers before expecting a sale are growing by leaps and bounds, those who cling to the old models are losing ground.

2. Bombastic "big promise" headlines are not working as well.

Today’s prospects are more likely to ignore sales communications that look and sound like sales communications. Instead, topical, newsy, and intrigue leads that key on something they are already thinking about often work best.

3. High-octane sales copy is losing its power.

Today, lower-key, value-added advertising copy (advertorials) that reward prospects for reading by delivering valuable, helpful, actionable information is leaving the language of the high-energy carnival barker in the dust.

Very interesting -- Makepeace makes some great points. Old-school DM just isn't cutting it anymore. And, as the economy decides what sort of state it is currently in (recession, slow-down, etc.), this becomes even more important. We've got to create campaigns that best resonate with our audiences. And, we simply have to embrace those channels that our customer segments are insisting that we utilize in order for them to buy from us. By understanding customer preferences, you'll stay ahead of the game. And, now, more than ever before, customers are willing to share with us exactly what they are looking for and how to improve on what you do. It's empowering and scary at the same time. I guess the net-net of this is that you have to be willing to truly listen to customer desires and then react to their feedback to keep them coming back for more!

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