By Sharon A.M. MacLean
I’ve always loved direct response marketing for its hard core results. We were never flummoxed by vague outcomes like in mass media advertising.
Direct marketing designed to make sales and raise cash has been around from the time of Canadian Confederation—earlier in the States. Churches began sending letters to patrons asking for money. Easter Seals, created to fight polio, started mailing unaddressed householders in the 30s. I was a fundraiser during the mid -80s for the nonprofit when we launched the Ability Fund with a direct mail/telemarketing campaign. Every single postal code in Alberta was analyzed manually based on a cost analysis of envelopes going out against net revenues. You can imagine the reams of white tape eaten up for those early calculations.
Today’s version of direct response is database marketing. I call it the Smart List. The first time I heard someone talk about upgraded tactics was in 2008 at a conference in Houston which forced me to study the new language of online marketing; it came as culture shock. Next came Mike Koenigs of Instant Customer in 2010 when he took the stage in San Francisco to explain how we could send video to hundreds of thousands of people on his personal database. Koenigs is an entrepreneur and best-selling author who simplifies online marketing for business people, authors, coaches, and speakers; famous clients include Debbie Ford, Tony Robbins, and Dan Kennedy.
I was hooked. It all made complete sense to me.
You see, in direct response, we want to find new customers and renew relationships with existing clients to foster an entire lifescyle with our contacts. Donors, too. In the UK they call them “cold” and “warm” campaigns.” But the bottom line is we want to create an ongoing dialogue with customers.
Here’s what the 10-Step Lifecyle looks like.
- First connection—perhaps through social media or sign up for a newsletter.
- Thanks and welcome message.
- Second connection—a complementary book, evaluation or training service.
- Monthly connection through a blog or special seasonal offer.
- Special occasion engagement—At Christmas, for vacation time, tax season, medical appointments or peak season offers.
- Major annual campaign with a special announcement.
- Lapsed connection with people you haven’t heard from for a while.
- Higher level relationships that might include in-depth training.
- Higher level of involvement such as site tours, VIP receptions.
- Major involvement—invitations to form partnerships or sponsorship.
Creating the Smart List—today’s version of direct response marketing—is a way for you to nurture relationships with your customers.