Businesses tend to use marketing as a way to generate new business by acquiring new customers yet neglect the customers they have served in the past. Marketing can be an effective tool to reach new customers yet it’s even more powerful when used to develop relationships with existing customers, maximising their loyalty to your business.

The truth is, your customer who purchases “Widget A” may have loved your product and services yet they are not aware you also provide “Widget B”. It’s your responsibility to let them know how you can help them without looking likely a slimy, used car salesman.

The key is to build a database of existing customers that is complied in a useful way so the right people get the right messages. If you get it right, marketing becomes less annoying to the recipient and ideally will be perceived as beneficial. If I purchase that latest model, black BMW every 5 years, receiving a postcard with images and information of the latest black BMW after 4 years would be appreciated.

Direct marketing basics

Direct marketing is where the business deals directly with their database. While we have very limited understanding of our prospective customers, even with the sophisticated targeting strategies we now have available, we have a growing understand of our clients and customers buying habits.

There are many marketing strategies being promoted these days, to help you build a list of prospective customers. The rise of online funnels to acquire contact details, then offer an entry-level product or service, then a high-end option has grown in popularity. This type of ascension model has been powerful yet we’ve seen an increased concern in privacy in recent times so people are less inclined to provide there contact details unless the offer is highly appealing. The basic ebook or whitepaper probably won’t cut it these days because people are reluctant to give their details away and also understand the information in your ebook can probably be found elsewhere for free.

In the past, before online marketing had evolved to what it is today, the marketing guru’s would suggest purchasing a database to market to by snail-mail and including a strong Call-to-Action to generate as many leads as possible for your business. While it’s possible to still purchase lists in this way, it’s becoming risky these days with the privacy issues we are seeing around the world. It’s also likely to be far less efficient and effective that years gone by. The ideal database is one that focuses on existing and past customers – your tribe. Your tribe already has a relationship with you. The concern is often the quantity of people you can reach focusing only on your tribe. If your list is quite small, build the relationships deep. Your best marketing tool is your phone – call them. Nothing beats a personal touch in the digital age.

If you have a substantial list, picking up the phone and calling them may not be efficient. Direct marketing is attractive to many businesses because, in many cases its effectiveness can be easily measured. It can also produce quick results, so it is easy to identify whether a campaign has been successful. For example, if a company sends 10,000 brochures by mail, and 1,000 prospects responded to the promotion, resulting in 100 sales, the business owner can quickly measure the campaigns success. You won’t get this by advertising in your local phone directory.

Direct marketing is without doubt a cost-effective solution for many companies to get its message to a large group of people fast. If you are marketing to your tribe, you’ll be far more targeted and therefore your printing costs and waste will be reduced. You will only be produced the required quantity, according to the size of your database. To the other extreme, mass-marketing via letterbox drops produces excessive waste making it a less desirable marketing strategy for many industries.

Not all direct marketing is aimed at closing a sale, particularly when you are reaching out to your tribe. Some direct mail is purely to generate interest and recognition for your business and brand. It could be about creating another measurable response of interest and build relationships; this in term will generate long term, loyal customers.

Direct marketing differs from regular advertising in that it does not place its messages in the public marketplace, as a broadcast marketing campaign does. Direct marketing is a form of marketing that attempts to send the right message, to the right person at the right time. While email marketing is less expensive than printed material, the response rates can sometimes be significantly less so it’s worthwhile testing and measuring a variety of strategies to see what’s the best fit for your business. It really is a numbers game. The content and design of your material can also greater improve your response rates. Most business owners today understand we must create a relationship with customers to ensure our businesses get the long term results we all desire. Direct marketing has the potential to be extremely profitable if done correctly, since you don’t need to pay third party advertising costs.

Direct Marketing to your tribe can be a great way of staying front of mind with customers. It will really depend on your business and industry, how often you send information, what kind of information you send and what design best communicates your intended message. Contacting customers too often can frustrate your customers while not contacting them enough could be perceived that you don’t care. You won’t be able to please everyone with your frequency however your goal should be to please the bulk of your ideal customers.

Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) options

In recent times there has been a flood of online CRM and Business Management systems. A good quality CRM will provides core business information for the relevant people within your organisation. Most CRM solutions are now in the cloud so the can quickly and effectively streamlines and integrates key business information. Integration between customer CRM and other business related systems is where it’s at these days. A good CRM in the cloud makes it easy for those on the move or businesses with many offices to access information anywhere, anytime as the information is available online. They can be used wherever there is an internet connection.

Sales, service, marketing, and dispatch are just some of the CRM areas where performance is critical. Your systems should allow you to get an overall view of your business and identify the areas that are working and what needs improvement. Reporting features should provide the information your business needs when you need it. In terms of direct marleting, a good CRM should help you increase conversions and maximise sales by allowing you build stronger relationships with customers. You should also be able to document and automated the process between marketing and sales so your business operates seamlessly.

Your online as well as offline activities can be combined into a single system. With the right integrations in place for your business, quotes can be prepared quickly and easily and afterwards, converted into sales orders or invoices at the click of a button. Incoming and outgoing payments can be tracked against purchased orders and bills that need to be entered. When all your business information is in one place, marketing to your tribe in a meaningful way becomes a lot easier.

Marketing to your tribe is all about building trust so your back-office mustbe running efficiently and effectively for this strategy to be successful. Otherwise you may as well run a ‘churn-and-burn’ marketing strategy know you’re business is a running like a leaky bucket that continually needs filling up. Does your business have a need to track support cases or projects more effectively? What about tracking the products that have been sold by you and their support contracts? A good CRM with the right integrations can track all this information. With the help of this information, cases can be created in the system and resolutions can be tracked. These cases and their resolutions can be integrated with your workflow and whenever a case is updated, customers can be notified automatically. With the right systems in place for your business, your customers will feel cared for and want to work with you for the long-term.

How to use customer segmentation

The goal of customer segmentation is to know your tribe better, and use this knowledge to improve customer satisfaction and sales. At its most basic level, customer segmentation is to classify customers with similar characteristics in groups (known as “segments”), then deal with the segments instead of marketing the same way to everyone in your tribe. This is especially important in organisations with large customer bases, where a broad range of products and services are offered.

Ideally, customer segmentation will make use of various statistics to help determine the attributes that could significantly impact on the customer relationship. Along with buying habits, customer segmentation can deal with demographics such as sex, location, age, etc. When having marketing material produced, this information can often play a key role in guiding the direction of a campaign. This information helps you create material that will best communicate with a specific type of person. It helps you develop a clearly defined design strategy with your objective at the forefront. When you understand clearly who you are trying to attract, you can ensure your marketing material is designed specifically for your intended audience using the colours, fonts and shapes that best communicate your message on a concious and sub-concious level.

Customer segmentation is often essential to the success of direct mail. By using segments of customers with similar interests you are more likely to make a strong connection and influence their buying behaviour. In addition, a major goal of customer segmentation is customer loyalty. It can be time consuming to prepare your customer segmentation however it will allows for more cost-effective marketing solutions in the long run. You will be able to send the right message to the right customer. Instead of having one company brochure that covers every product you sell, every service you provide and every option you have, you may have a series of brochures that better communicate more specific messages to a particular kind of person.

Safeguarding your business for the future

During periods of weakness in the global economy, customer satisfaction is one of the key factors to the ongoing success of your business. When the economy is strong you can possibly survive with less attention on customer satisfaction. More people are prepared to shop around in a down-turn which is great for new businesses looking to expand and have well designed marketing material to attract the right kind of customer. New and small businesses are likely to stay focused on customer satisfaction because they understand the value of the customer, where larger businesses often don’t show as much care for customers.

There are many ways to determine customer satisfaction, the best way to gain this information is to ask customers directly. This is usually done through a survey which can be printed or online, whatever is better suited to your customers. Make the process look as simple and professional as possible. When you make customer satisfaction a long term strategy of your business and continue to review the results you can establish what areas are improving and what needs more attention. You may also see trends that you can use to your advantage. Customer satisfaction is essential in building long-term, profitable relationships which lead to customer loyalty, turning them into raving fans. It is well known that customer acquisition is much more expensive than keeping an existing customer. Once you know who your customers are and what makes them tick, you are ready to have material designed to best communicate to your target market and grow your business strategically.

What should they do next?

Your tribes understanding of your business is built over time, based on the experiences they have. How you communicate and how often, plays a huge part in your clients perception of who you are. When creating direct mail you need a goal or purpose for the promotion. It starts by understanding your clients and understanding their buying habits. What is important to them? With this information you can develop a powerful campaign yet there’s one key ingredient you must establish for your campaign – Your Call-to-Action!

I would encourage you to be benefits focused in your campaigns yet every benefit should lead to the decision you want your tribe to make. How will your offer help your customers? Too often we can get bogged down with the features of our products and services when the customers really only cares about how it will benefit them. Keep your message simple and to the point and your Call-to-Action, rock solid and compelling! Clarity in content and design are critical in getting people to connect with and respond to your information.

The formula for success is a strong message and good design but to close the deal you need a Call-to-Action. What do you want your tribe to do with the information you give them? This doesn’t always need to be the hard sell. It could be a free introductory offer or to create interest by getting people to ask for more information.

This content was originally published on Omnific Design before we rebranded as Uplift 360.