Why Direct Marketing Campaigns Fail: 7 Common Mistakes

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Why Direct Marketing Campaigns Fail: 7 Common Mistakes

Direct marketing can be one of the most powerful elements of a smart marketing strategy, especially if you need to generate leads for a field sales force.

But strategic errors can doom your direct marketing campaign to failure.  Here are seven common mistakes in direct marketing strategy and ways to avoid them:

  1. Targeting the wrong prospects. The single most important rule for successful direct marketing is to target people who look most like your best customers. They’re the ones who will understand your value proposition and be most likely to want what you’re selling.  Marketing to people who don’t have a strong interest in your product or service, or the authority to purchase, is like throwing money away.
  2. Treating customers like prospects. Customers expect you to acknowledge their relationship with your company when you send them marketing messages. That’s why it’s essential to treat customers differently than prospects in your direct marketing strategy. Send customers highly personalized email or direct mail that demonstrates your knowledge of their needs and their value to you.
  3. Telling instead of engaging. The recipients of your direct marketing campaign don’t really care about you—they care about what you can do for them. Unless your catalog, direct mail, or email campaign engages people immediately with messages relevant to their needs, it’s bound for the trash can.  Talk to people about what they care about and show them how your product or service improves their lives.
  4. Failing to test. The ability to test is one of the great benefits of direct marketing and if you don’t take advantage of it, you’re missing an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge for future marketing campaigns. Test something every time you mail or email, such as price, offer, format, premium, or lists, to see if you can increase response or reduce the cost of acquiring a new customer.
  5. Focusing on the creative approach instead of the list and the offer. Picking formats, colors, images, and creative approaches is exciting and fun, but research consistently shows that the creative approach of a direct marketing campaign is much less important to making the sale than the list and the offer. Focus your energies on targeting the right people and developing a compelling offer.
  6. Poor lead follow-up. Even the most successful lead generation direct marketing campaign will be a failure if lead follow-up is botched. Establish your lead qualification, fulfillment, and sales conversion plan up front, prepare the sales team to act when leads come in, and get leads out fast.
  7. Isolating direct marketing from the rest of your marketing strategy. Direct marketing campaigns should be developed as elements of a comprehensive marketing communications plan that supports your marketing strategy and integrates your messaging and branding across all media. Direct marketing that doesn’t align with your other marketing initiatives confuses prospects, weakens your brand, and wastes valuable marketing resources.

Learn more about how to develop a successful direct marketing strategy in our free guide.

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