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Getting Back to Basics

Keeping things simple is usually the best strategy when planning or building anything. Whether you’re developing a marketing campaign, designing a car, or traveling into space – the fewer factors there are to contend with the more stable and effective the operation will be.

If one were planning an operation into space, let’s say to drop a rover on Mars, the more complicated the rover functions are or deployment operation is, the more likely it is for the mission to fail. For as many things that must go right for an operation to be successful, there is an equal amount of opportunity for things to go wrong.

For the same reasons, if one were to design a car, the more bells and whistles there are, the more opportunity there is for one of them to have a problem. Granted, both of these operations are complicated and there are plenty of successful space missions and highly intelligent computers on four wheels driving around. But, the principle still holds true in relation to success rates. The more seams there are on a roof, the more opportunity there is for leaks; the more people there are in a quality-check process, the more likely one of them is having a bad day; the more components there are in the assembly of a product, the more likely one of the components will fail.

When applying this same principle to marketing we can relate the complexity of the message to the number of things that the recipient must figure out. Consider a direct mail piece for a home improvement business that has several pages worth of information. On the front of the piece a headline reads “Your number one source for all of your home improvement and home repair needs.” On the inside of the piece each page lists the company’s various services from flooring to painting to appliance repair to roofs to masonry, and so on. Although a piece like this would indeed present the company’s services to the recipient, it also presents a lot of information for them to sift through and decipher. This would likely overload the reader with so much information that they are likely to miss information that is relevant to them, or possibly take in none of it. In addition, a person that may be in the market for a new roof is not very likely to also be in the market for a new floor.

A more effective approach for this type of business would be to split up the marketing of different services into multiple direct mail pieces. A direct mail piece that is just focused on roof repair would have a much better chance of success, and not just in response rate but closure. By not forcing the recipient to pick out the part of the message that is relevant to them we are doing some of the work for them. This increases the chance that the full message is read because there is less information to sift through. By focusing on a single service the company would also be able to target a more specific demographic. This increases the chance that the message will be relevant to the recipient. Simply put, a single piece with a simple message has a much better chance of being read, being relevant, and being retained by the recipient. The company can then apply that approach to each service they offer. With each piece they have the opportunity to highlight a service with a more focused message and target a more relevant market.

Although the cost of a multi-piece campaign would certainly be more than a single all-in-one marketing approach, the justification for the increased marketing expense should be based on the campaign’s effectiveness. This effectiveness is typically measured as ROI (return on investment). As any marketer knows though, ROI is often not easily calculated when it comes to how much each marketing channel is contributing to the bottom line. What made a customer ultimately decide to place an order is usually not very clear or even the result of any one thing. It can often be due to multiple touches, be that direct mail, web advertising, phone calls, emails, or a mixture.

A marketer often must trust in the basics, where presenting a clear message in front of the right person is the best one can hope for. There are basic rules and practices that can help achieve this goal. The first is a clear message. A message that clearly and quickly describes your product or service is key. As discussed above, do not hide your message among other services or offers that force the customer to read between the lines. The message should also be presented from the viewpoint of how the product or service helps the customer. Do not preach how experienced your company is or how your product is the best. Instead, try to focus on presenting how that expertise or superior product can make your customer’s life better. What does it do for them? What are your customer’s fears and challenges and how will your company help solve them. A customer must be able to see how your product or service will help them achieve their goal. This is what will make the connection between the customer’s need and your message, and hopefully result in success for all.

The second basic principle is repetition. Repetition helps maximize retention. People usually need to be presented with a message several times before they remember it. This is just the nature of the human brain. It often takes multiple touches for the mind to take note of what’s important. Another reason for low retention could be the timing of the message. A customer may not be in the market for a new roof this year, but could be considering it next year. It is best to maintain constant presence in your customer’s mind, so when they’re ready to buy you’re their first call. In relation, one reason it is often difficult to calculate ROI is partly due to multiple marketing channels, and with repetition within each marketing channel the calculation is compounded.

Lastly, your message can be clear and presented multiple times, but if it is going to the wrong person none of that matters. Data is one of the most important factors in determining the success of any marketing effort. You can advertise roof replacement service to someone living in an apartment all day long, but the chance of a sale there is pretty close to zero. There is a huge selection of filters available when purchasing data for a mailing list. Data can be filtered by location, homeowner and family demographics, financial information, property information, and much more. Existing customer information can also be used to analyze what a relevant customer may look like. By using existing data and information available with purchased data one can very specifically target a market that is most likely to contain potential customers.

If you are questioning your marketing efforts don’t worry, you are not alone. Many marketers struggle with trying to educate prospects about their products or services and wonder if they are being understood. Just remember, keeping it simple is usually best. Trust in the basics of marketing repeatedly with a clear message to the most relevant prospects you can attain.