How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Marketing Lead Generation

If your sales team often complains about the leads they receive from your direct marketing campaigns – or if you’re frustrated with lackluster lead follow-up and low conversion rates – you may be unwittingly committing one of the seven deadly sins of direct marketing lead generation.

Here are the common mistakes business-to-business marketers make with lead generation and tips on how to avoid them:

1. Leads are not qualified.

Problem: All responses are sent to the sales force regardless of their potential value. Sales reps waste time chasing weak prospects because they don’t have the information to distinguish good leads from bad.

Solution: Ask questions on the direct mail reply form, the web response form, or via your call center to qualify prospects by their level of interest and authority to purchase. Share this information to help sales reps prioritize their efforts.

2. Leads are from the wrong prospects.

Problem: The mailing lists you used in your direct marketing campaign didn’t reach the right decision-makers, so responses came from people who probably can’t or won’t become buyers.

Solution: As you develop your direct marketing strategy, ask the sales team to pinpoint the demographics of an ideal buyer. Choose mailing lists to reach these decision-makers and add selection criteria to narrow the list down to people who most closely resemble your best customers.

3. Leads are too old.

Problem: It takes so long to forward leads to sales that prospects lose interest in the offer or forget they responded. By the time the sales rep reaches the prospect, the lead has gone cold.

Solution: Assess your lead distribution process from top to bottom to find out what’s slowing things down. Eliminate unnecessary steps or revamp the system to get leads to reps as fast as possible.

4. Lead data is sloppy.

Problem: The lead data you send to reps is incomplete or riddled with errors.

Solution: Set stricter guidelines about what information must be required before a lead is sent to a rep and review the data input process to assure data quality.

5. Too many leads are sent at once.

Problem: The sales force is overwhelmed with a large volume of leads they can’t efficiently handle in a reasonable timeframe.

Solution: Test your direct mail to a smaller list to gauge likely response. Plan the execution of the direct marketing campaign in stages to create a steady flow of leads rather than a flood.

6. Sales reps don’t know about the promotion.

Problem: Leads are sent to the sales team from a direct marketing campaign they know nothing about.

Solution: Get reps on board early in the process by alerting them to your upcoming direct marketing initiative. Seed them on the mailing list so they receive samples when the direct mail drops.

7. The sales team doesn’t have the right tools to follow up.

Problem: Responses come in before the proper sales demonstration materials have been created or sent to the sales team. While sales reps wait for product samples, sales collateral, or sales presentation kits, prospects may be hearing from your competitors.

Solution: Plan for the development of sales demonstration materials when creating your direct marketing strategy and don’t drop the mailing until reps have the tools they need to convert leads to sales.

How Keeping Up With Industry News Can Help Any Business – Even Direct Marketers

Last night after a good meal and some pleasant family time I found myself with a spare and very rare hour to myself. As I debated between taking a nice aromatic bath or reading my backlog of industry newsletters, my thirst for knowledge won out.

For someone who has spent more than twenty years in marketing and client services, I never turn away the chance to find out more about direct marketing. It never ceases to amaze me how companies and advertisers are able to find new and unique marketing methods to directly market to both businesses and consumers. That is why spending time reading industry news is part of my daily job.

Industry articles, newsletters and whitepapers are wonderful tools. Anyone in business can benefit from reading them. Remaining stagnant with your industry knowledge only serves to allow your clients to look elsewhere for the help they need. And you would have only yourself to blame. You expect your doctor to constantly keep abreast of new and cutting edge procedures and medicines. Why not do the same yourself?

Recently I was reading a paper by Robert Bly entitled “Secrets of Successful Business to Business Direct Marketing”. He makes some interesting and thought provoking testaments thanks to his many years in marketing. In one section he expounds:

“The business buyer is an information seeker, constantly on the lookout for information and advice that can help the buyer do the job better, increase profits, or advance his career.”

I cannot disagree with that. Direct marketing business to business is very different from direct marketing business to consumer. Drip marketing is very effective when marketing to a business as most will purchase a product or service after a long period of research. Consumers however are impulse buyers and one offer is all they need to see before whipping out the credit card. Where we disagree however is when he states:

“Don’t be afraid to write long copy in mailers, ads, and fulfillment brochures. Prospects will read your message – if it is interesting, important, and relevant to their needs.”

Sorry Robert, but most purchasing agents and company owners that I have dealt with over the years are consumers at heart. They purchase needed materials and services the same way a consumer would: what gives me the best value for my money. Directly marketing to them with an overload of information will have them tossing that mailer in the trash or deleting your email with the click of a button.

Whether a company uses direct marketing to attract another business or a consumer, always make sure your advertising makes the recipient want to know more. Show them where they can find out by directing them to a website, opting in through an email or responding with a return reply card. THEN send your brochure or booklet full of information.

When using direct marketing to a business, always be professional, knowledgeable and concise. Grab the buyer’s attention and lure them into finding out more. Your bottom line will thank you for it.

There are many more pieces of information in Robert’s report that have me thinking. Direct marketing experts like him are a wealth of knowledge. I have many more articles yet to read too. Who knows what I might still learn. If I do I will be sure to share.

Direct Marketing Copywriters in Ireland Take Heed – Why You Should Keep Your Message Simple

Direct marketing copywriters and advertising copywriters who depend on the written word to sell their clients’ products or services, take heed. An ERSI study conducted by the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) has shown that aa many as 55% of adults in Ireland are below Level 3 literacy, the minimal level of literacy “necessary for the demands of modern society”. This means that the majority of people in Ireland may be unable to read direct marketing text that is in any way complex or not laid out in a clear, straightforward manner. This doesn’t just mean that they may not get all the subtleties and complex details of written direct marketing promotional material and communications like these, this means that they may not understand direct marketing offers at all!

Of those surveyed, 25% are at what is called Level 1 literacy. This means very low literacy skills, where even short, simple instructions can’t be understood easily. Another 30% of people are at Level 2. At this level they can follow step by step instructions and basic prose but anything more complicated gives them difficulty. These are the people who adopted just enough literacy skills to get them through day to day life but could have difficulty with complex sentences or text and writing styles that they are not used to, including direct marketing buzz words and jargon.

It’s important to understand that people in these groups are certainly not stupid; a variety of reasons could be behind their poor reading ability. Often it can be as simple as bad eyesight or hearing difficulties. In other cases it could be due to sporadic school attendance or a lack of money for textbooks and materials. Whatever the reason people in this category are the majority in Ireland so direct marketing copywriters better take their needs into account when writing!

So what can be done? How can a direct marketing copywriter ensure that their words can be understood by the widest possible audience in Ireland? Well really the best thing to keep it simple. Short, snappy sentences work best, both to make the direct marketing message clear and to keep people interested. This is not only relevant to people at lower literacy levels but for everyone in Ireland.

Long drawn-out sentences can bore the average direct mail reader, even if they understand what you’re saying, and might make them skip on to something else, especially if they’re only marginally interested in your offer in the first place.

Titles in marketing brochures are especially in need of this kind of treatment. A title sets the tone for the piece and mentally prepares the reader for what’s to come. If a title is confusing or irrelevant then the reader may be bewildered when reading the marketing offer, wondering what exactly they are reading and how the product/service on offer relates to them.

Wonderfully clever, pun-filled titles, so loved by marketing copywriters in Ireland, may be great for the readers who actually get it but for the rest it’s just another source of frustration. Keep your direct marketing message in Ireland simple and keep it loud, that way everybody knows what you are saying and your message has the widest reach.

Literacy skills are not just about reading prose however; many people in Ireland have difficulty reading more technical information such as forms, diagrams and tables. Others have difficulties with basic numeracy skills such as adding figures or understanding percentages.

Finally, relevance is also a key to people understanding your direct marketing offer. The average Irish reader assumes that all information provided to them in a direct marketing offer is important. Going off on a tangent into another unrelated or unimportant topic for a short while is likely to cause great problems. People reading it will wonder how this connects with what they have read previously and are liable to become confused as to what you are trying to sell them.

This applies not only to text but to diagrams and pictures in direct marketing material too: if it’s not connected with the promotional message you are trying to give people then it should not be there! It may look very nice and add wonderfully to the feel of the page but if you’re trying to talk about healthcare, for example, and you use a picture of a yacht then your marketing message can get lost along the way.

For direct marketing offers in Ireland the best advice is to keep your message simple and keep it to the point. Short words, short sentences and short paragraphs work best; and remember: if it’s not adding something to the reader’s understanding of your offer then there’s a very good chance it’s taking something away.