The Latest in Direct mail and Response Advertising

By: JUSTINE P. CASTELLON 

There was a time when direct mail was considered the poor stepchild of more sophisticated forms of advertising, and upscale businesses did not regard it as a viable, elegant solution to their marketing problems. Direct mail ranges from the catalog that arrives along with your letters and the advertisement inside your billing statement to the flyer slipped under your windshield and even to the salesman knocking at your door.

Savvy marketers soon realized, however, that mass direct mail could provide immediate sales results, create a personal connection with customers, is more cost effective than billboard or display advertising when the object is to get immediate results, not just to create awareness. Perhaps most importantly, direct mail lends itself to greater measurability and to testing variations in form and content to determine the best approach. Today it is universally regarded as one of the most effective forms of advertising especially with its latest approach in the new economy . . .

THE FIRST LEAD GENERATION MEDIA
Catalogue Marketing Catalogue marketing is the most common and the first in-line for direct mail. Catalogue marketing occurs when companies mail one or more product catalogues to selected addresses. They may send full-line merchandise catalogues, specialty catalogues or business catalogues, usually in print form. Catalogue marketing is the popular medium because it permits target market selectivity, can be personalized, is flexible, and allows early testing and response measurement. In most cases, this means moving that customer from the education and consideration stage to the purchase stage. The distinguishing characteristic, of course, is the call to action. Usually this call takes the form of a telephone number, Web site address or mailing address – often a combination of the three.

The most common catalogue marketers are Avon, who regularly mails consumers the latest in its product line including the best-value offers. Gerber, on the other hand educates its target audience by way of sending “The How to Feed Me Handbook”. And of course, Del Monte Kitchenomics’ best recipes. Some companies distinguish their catalogs by adding literary or information features, sending swatches of materials, operating and special hot line, and answer questions, ending gifts to their best customers and donating a percentage of profits to good causes. The editorial contents surely set apart your catalog from your competitor. Catalogue marketing aim to receive an order from the prospects.

VIRTUAL CALL CENTER TECHNOLOGY
Telemarketing
Telemarketing describes the use of telephone operators to attract new customers, to contact existing customers to ascertain satisfaction levels , or take orders. In the case of routinely taking orders, it is called telesales. Most telemarketing systems are fully automated. Automatic –dialing and recorded-message player (ADRMPs) can dial numbers, place a voice activated advertising message, and take orders from interested customers on an answering machine device or by forwarding the call on the operator. Telemarketing is increasingly used in business as well as consumer marketing. Companies like Globe, Smart, PLDT and Bayantel use telemarketing to reduce the amount of personal selling needed for contacting its dealers. Telemarketing, as it improves with the use of videophones (in some more advanced countries) will increasingly replace, though never eliminate, more expensive field sales calls. Today, a remote agent and telecommuting workforce is made possible and more reliable because of the growth contact centers as well as for call centers of the future (virtual call centers).

FLEXIBLE, INNOVATIVE OPTIONS
Kiosk Marketing
Some companies have designed “customer-order-placing machines” called kiosks (in contrast to vending machines, which dispense actual products) and placed them in stores, airports, and other locations. Although it is not yet fully implemented in the Philippines but some are already enjoying the real time transactions to their customers . Globe Autoload Advantage is an exciting member-get-member program for both Globe Handyphone Prepaid and Touch Mobile subscribers. It is a convenient over-the-air reloading of subscriber through authorized retail outlets or kiosk. Autoloading works just like it sounds: no dialing, no scratching of call cards, no keying in of PINS. It’s hassle-free reloading for your prepaid account anytime, anywhere.

VIRTUAL TV
At-Home Shopping Channels
Some television channels are dedicated to selling goods and services. Mostly, these home-shopping channels, which broadcasts 24-hours a day, consists of program hosts offering bargain prices on such products as, collectible dolls, jewelry, cosmetics, and power tools. Viewers call in their orders on a toll-free number and receive delivery within 48-hours.

ADVENT OF E- MARKETING SERVICES
Email and Internet Advertising
The rise of the Internet produced a gold rush not only in commerce, but in new expectations for online marketing. Many of those expectations were inflated: not all Internet marketing has proven to be created equal. Although successful while still a novelty, Internet marketing response rates are quickly eroding. Users are inundated with banner ads everywhere they go on the Internet.
While it is true that advertising on vertically targeted portals can produce better than average click-through rates, banner ads can be a difficult medium to achieve marketing goals. Marketers looking for an effective way to reach customers online are turning to e-mail. E-mail has quickly become a communication standard and the Internet’s most popular application. Both the number of e-mail users and the usage rates are continuing to grow exponentially.

FAST TIMES ON THE MINUTE EXCHANGE
SMS Advertising in Mobile Marketing

Recently, the focus seems to be on mobile marketing services in the Philippine marketplace. Realizing the significance of this mode of marketing, marketers are increasingly opting for mobile marketing techniques to connect with their target audience—directly. And with around more than 20 million subscribers in the country, the concept of mobile marketing services is rapidly gaining momentum,
The rise of the text messaging in the Philippines produced a gold rush not only in commerce, but in new expectations for mobile marketing. The Philippines could be the world’s text messaging capital, with reportedly 50 million text messages sent out every day. Even the crippled economy got a boost from text messaging.

When you hear your mobile phone beep these days, it’s more likely to be a mobile marketing service. It could be new movies, concerts, freebies, you name it! The phenomenon of mobile marketing is, of course, the age-old practice of direct mail remade in modern dress. Mobile Marketing is one of those things that’s easy to do in response advertising— but hard to do well. When it is done right, though, mobile marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools available to businesses, regardless of the industry.

RESPONSE OBJECTIVES
Digital delivery might be rewriting business rules and redefining direct marketing. And the advent of electronic forms of communication such as e-mail, the Internet, and the SMS (short message service) have given marketers new and even more cost effective ways to become more focused and granular in their marketing efforts. But still, creating and managing a direct response advertising campaign whether it is from the traditional direct mail or the technologically-driven mobile marketing services, is about three quarters science and one quarter art. That’s what makes it so much fun.
The key measure of any direct response campaign is the term “effective”. To be effective, a direct response campaign must have a clearly defined core objective – and that objective must be set before doing any creative or media planning work. Direct mail campaigns have four possible objectives:

  • Generating Qualified Responses Potential customers either call into a toll-free number or register at a Web site. When people call in, operators can collect contact information and get more data about that person’s particular needs. This information can either be used to mail an information packet, or salespeople can follow-up directly.
  • Converting Prospects Through this objective, companies can convert prospects into customers directly. Rather than just collecting data for follow-up, operators can take orders. Generally, this objective works better for more intuitive products and services. Anything requiring extensive customization, such as the installation of a complex piece of software, would probably be better handled through a follow-up call by a salesperson.
  • Building Customer Relationships Direct response campaigns can be used for existing customers as well. For example, if a company were was set to launch an upgraded version of its software package, a direct response mailing to current customers would help generate upgrade sales. Or, the customers could call in to learn how to use a new feature in the existing software.
  • Developing a Customer Database This is closely related to the first objective, but focused on current customers rather than prospects. Often, as companies grow they start using more sophisticated database software to manage customer accounts. When transferring data from an old system to the new one, there may be gaps in the data about certain customers such as a lack of e-mail addresses. The direct response campaign would encourage those customers to call in and update their account information, perhaps in exchange for a premium.

Direct Mail offers several advantages over a more traditional advertising strategy. The most obvious, of course, is that it encourages customers and potential customers to pick up the phone and call. As a result, the return on investment is more tangible, and more immediate. When managed properly, a direct response campaign can effectively generate leads and sales while at the same time enabling marketers to get the most from their marketing spending.

(published January 2005 Ad Edge Magazine)

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