As the year 2014 hits the mid-point, I wanted to give readers some forward thinking, rather than reviewing the past year’s events – we all know what happened, and we can’t change it anyway. So, here’s a few basic things to keep in mind as you move forward through the new year:
10) A “Market” Never Bought Anything – people buy things and services and ideas. When you think about or talk about your “Target Market” keep in mind that a market is actually a group of people, with ideas, moods and feelings of their own. If you can conjure up a visual image of a representative of that group, it can help focus your ideas and your copy.
9) It’s The List, Stupid! All the creative design, top quality printing, conscientious mail services or hot offer in your direct marketing fails miserably in the wake of a bad list. Do your homework, check all the possible angles, find lists that make sense, that are fresh and accurate, and that have a recognizable reason to buy your product.
8) Sheep Get Slaughtered, eventually. If you’re trying a new technique, a new media, a new idea or trend that’s being touted as the next big thing, ask yourself “How does this help me reach my stated goals, and how will I measure its impact?” If you can’t answer those honestly, you really don’t have a good reason for doing whatever it is. Just because a competitor is doing it, or “everyone’s” doing it, doesn’t make it right for you.
7) Be True To Your Brand. Period. When you get ready to launch a new campaign, or start a new service, dust off your brand characteristics inventory (you have one of those, right?) and review those traits, and see how well your new idea matches up or illustrates those attributes. If you miss more than 25% of them, rethink the idea. You’ll do more damage putting out off-brand stuff than you can make up in incoming revenue or awareness.
6) Test, Test, Test – You can’t do enough research, you can’t know enough about your customers, but their buying behavior in a real situation tells the strongest tale. Test as many variables in your mail campaign as you can, and trust the response data. When it comes time to review your results, the data will back you up a lot better than your “gut”.
5) The Harder You Work, The Luckier You’ll Get – Ideas are like those tempera paints you used in grade school – the more you throw at the wall, the more color you get to stick. Keep churning out ideas and executing them as best you can with your time constraints and budget – if you throw out ten ideas and three of them bomb, that means the other seven were good enough and made up for the three duds. You win.
4) Strive for “Works Well With Others” comments – the more people you involve and get ideas from, the better those ideas will become. It spreads the workload, spreads the blame, and takes advantage of cooperative vibe that really generates the good stuff. Don’t try to be Superman and do it all yourself.
3) Lead By Example – Show buyers why you have great products or a superior service, don’t tell them. Don’t talk about features, illustrate benefits. Demonstrate, don’t describe – you’ll be surprised how much more powerful your approach becomes.
2) Good Enough In the Mail is Better than Perfect On the Drawing Board – You can massage copy all day long, try different shades of blue until you’re blue in the face, but it’s not making you any money if its not in the mail. That doesn’t mean hurry through it, it just means don’t worry it to death.
1) Trust The Data, Listen to Your Gut, Value Others’ Ideas – It all comes down to pushing more work out the door and having it be productive, effective and impactful. Don’t let ego make you an impediment to your own success. Keep fueling the idea machine with every resource you have, and you’ll succeed in spite of yourself!
Now, go forth and market effectively in the balance of 2014!
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