a detailed description of how to carry out a low-cost targeted marketing
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Targeted marketing: how to do it
Here's a detailed description of how to carry out a low-cost targeted marketing campaign, using telephone selling and direct mail. The end result is to get sales appointments to gain new customers.
In Part 1 of this Targeted Marketing series of articles, we presented an overview of a highly successful way of getting new customers. (If you want to read Part 1 you can do so now). In Part 2 we cover in practical detail how to carry out each stage of the process.
When can this targeted marketing approach be used?This particular approach works when:
If all of these apply to you, then read on...
The 7 stages,
involving a mixture of tele-research, direct mail and telesales, are listed
below. Each stage will be described in more detail later in this article:
Stage 1: Selection of target market sectorsThe chances are that your product or service can be sold into a wide variety of businesses - or it may be that geographical areas are a more important way of defining your markets.
So, sit down and think of, say, 6 market sectors - types of organisations - which could contain good potential customers. And don't say "we can sell to anyone". This is targeted marketing, remember. Some of the criteria you could use to select the key targets might be:
Stage 2: List researchWhat you need now are lists of prospective customers in your chosen market sectors. There are many sources of lists, some being better than others. If you are reasonably computerised in your operations (e.g. you can use databases or contact tracking software with mailmerge facilities) try to get lists which are available on disk (or, increasingly, on CD-ROM).
Here are a few sources to try (there's a bit of a UK bias here :-) )
Stage 3: Telephone researchDon't believe that the lists you have compiled are accurate! The chances are that they will not be up to date. In particular, people will have changed and, since you will be writing to them personally it is vital that you get the right name.
So the purpose of this stage is to check the name and position of the decision maker - or decision influencer - who is most likely to be in a position to buy, or authorise the buying of your product or service.
At the same time, you can check that the company hasn't moved (they do, you know!) and perhaps get other useful information to let you know if they are a real prospect.
At this point, let me say that you will not be mailing out thousands, or even hundreds of letters a week. Only enough that you can comfortably follow up by telephone within a week or so of sending out the mailshot (the next stage). So, having selected which your first target market sector is going to be, research 50 - 60 at the most to check that your information is correct. Remember, what you are aiming to do each week is to:
So.. you get through to the switchboard of one of your target companies. What's the first question you ask? "I need to write to your company. Can you tell me your post code please?" Note the word "need" - it puts the switchboard operator in the position of having to tell you! And it's an innocuous question - s/he doesn't feel threatened. Also, it enables you to check that the address is right (assuming you have the post code anyway - remember, companies can still move, but retain the same phone number).
Next, get the name of the decision maker / decision influencer that you want to contact. Say "And can you tell me the name of your Managing Director, please? .. or whatever is the appropriate title of the guy. Check very carefully the initials and the spelling of the surname - and, if there's any doubt, whether it's a Mr or a Ms. Remember, a person's name, to them, is the sweetest sound in the world!
After that, you could gently probe for any other info that might help you to qualify the prospect as a real potential customer. Eg. "Do you know if your company actually uses 'xyz'? Chances are that s/he doesn't, but it's surprising what you can learn from a switchboard operator! I know; I've done it
That's Stage 3. The next one is shorter...
Stage 4: Prospect selectionThis one is relatively easy. Based on what you have learnt from your telephone research, you can now start to refine the list that you are going to mail out to in a few days time. And because of your careful research, you're going to hit some highly qualified prospects.
Two key points:
Stage 5: Sending out the mailshotIf you've got doubts about direct mail (i.e. you think of it as 'junk' mail), don't take our word for it. Look at who's using it. In the UK, over GBP 1,000 million every year is spent on this medium, most of it by large corporations. They wouldn't keep spending this sort of money if it were wasted. Maybe your view is coloured by the fact that you throw most of your 'junk' mail away. Quite right.. because most of it is not targeted; you are not interested in it. But you are doing better. Because you have taken the trouble to research and qualify prospects, your direct mail will be more effective!
The sales letter: National and international research has shown that if you can afford to send out either a sales letter or sales literature (but not both), then send out the letter. People like reading letters!
The purpose of the letter is two-fold:
Just a few quick pointers about the mailout:
Stage 6: The telephone follow-upSo... the letter has gone out, with a strong message addressed directly to the right decision maker / influencer, at the right address. Up to this point, you probably feel comfortable. But now comes the crunch.. you are going to have to face REJECTION!
Yes, that's right. When you start to telephone all of these carefully targeted, carefully researched folks who have had just the right message aimed at them, a lot of people are going to say (in so many words): "NO, I AM NOT INTERESTED IN WHAT YOU ARE OFFERING." (Sorry to have shouted at you, but sometimes that's what it will feel like). So many sales people are happy about the 'pitch' but when it comes to asking for the order, it's like someone is about to shoot them rather than say 'no'. So a lot of people don't like 'asking for the order'. You've got to get through this psychological barrier or - to put it bluntly - your business is dead! You are playing the numbers game here, despite all of your careful researching. But that's why I put a price constraint on the minimum size of order for which this technique will work. If it's too small, this method is not time-effective. But if you can stand a 90 per cent rejection rate, then just focus on the ten per cent of 'yes' responses.
OK, that's the 'psyche-up' message over. Back to the practicalities.
Be absolutely clear in your mind what you expect from this telephone call. Do you want a sales meeting? An opportunity to quote? A trial order? Or just that the prospect keeps your literature on file (more than this, I hope!). Most of our clients tell us "If I can get face-to-face with the prospects, I can sell to them." And this probably applies to you (if not, wait for a future article on how to manage the face-to-face sales meeting). Be CLEAR on what you want from this call. If you're not, then forget it.
Some practical pointers..
Stage 7: Recording, measuring and monitoringMarketing is not a precise science, so the results of any actions cannot be predicted. Targeted marketing will require some experimenting to find just the right approach that works for your business. And if you are experimenting, it's important that you keep records of what you do and what the results were. Also, it can help to motivate you (or whoever you have delegated the work to) if you know what sort of success rate to expect. If you hit a 2 per cent conversion rate this week, you might feel disappointed - unless you realise that in the previous two weeks it was only 1 per cent.
If you are using a database or some sort of contact management software, then this recording can be seamlessly integrated into your targeted marketing process. Ideally, you should be recording and retaining the following for each batch of letters you send out: