Selling Direct Marketing Services

Your question: The company that I represent is a leading, minority-owned, digital marketing service provider of one-to-one communications which lifts response rates. We provide:

  • Four-color variable data printing
  • On-line and on-demand marketing solutions that help franchises and retailers manage, personalize, distribute and fulfill advertising and marketing materials at the local store level.
  • Personalized URLs
  • Point of Sale materials
  • Co-op marketing and advertising solutions which includes are AdBuilder technology which allows local retailers to customize and place print media. Our solution also tracks co-op spending for each retail/franchise location.

I would like to know:

  • What is the title of the person I should be contacting at advertising agencies, direct marketing companies and at national retailers?
  • What could I say in my cold calling endeavors that would make you as a potential prospect want to meet with me?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

My answer: First of all, it sounds like you offer some excellent services, especially for retailers. Of course, the challenge always is to get in the door-get that first appointment-the opportunity to tell your story to the right person.

I’ll start off with your first question about who to target for your services. You mentioned that you are interested in reaching ad agencies, direct marketing companies and national retailers, and I believe that the target for each segment is different.

  1. Ad agencies: First off, I’d do the research to understand which ad agencies are working with top retail clients. Don’t waste your time cultivating agencies that are not a fit for your services. Once I’ve narrowed down the list to the appropriate agencies, I’d attempt to figure out who is working on the account you’re interested in. The titles I would target would be in the Client Services area, looking for people responsible for helping set marketing strategies. Specifically, I’d look for Account Supervisors, Account Directors and Account Executives. If the agency is on the small side, I would approach the head of the agency (president or owner) with your offerings.
  2. In regards to targeting direct marketing companies, I’m assuming that you’d offer your services as a complement to what they’re offering and that there is something in it for the DM firm (such as commission!). If this is the case, I would focus my sales efforts on high level officers in the company. Titles such as Owner, President, Partner, CEO, CMO, Vice President of Sales, VP of Operations, VP Planning would be appropriate. My thinking is that a high level leader might understand the benefits of partnering with your firms and see how your service might complement their product offerings and allow them to offer a broader spectrum of solutions to their clients and prospects. With that said, make sure that you are only talking to firms that offer complementary services. You definitely don’t want to approach direct competitors J
  3. In regards to targeting national retailers, I would seek to speak with the following titles: VP of Marketing, Director of retail marketing and any direct marketing title. All of these should be good prospects for you.

Now on to the hard part of your question-and that is-how to get these people to take and/or return your calls. Cold calling is never fun, is it? To make it easier on yourself, take the time to develop a script that you can follow when you actually get someone live. Make it benefit-oriented, as opposed to ‘product-speak’ Make sure you’re clear about how their lives will improve if they work with you.

Develop another script to be used for voice messages. Try to think of something unique about your solutions-something that will pique their interest just enough to get your prospect to return your call. Be human and have fun with these calls. Remember that people buy from people they like.

In the cold-calling game, I believe that the secret to success is persistence combined with a methodical approach. Set goals (such as number of people called or reached) and keep to a pre-determined sequence of activities (such as call one time/leave message, wait one week, call again/no message, call a 3rd time with a 2nd message, etc.).

Best of luck to you as you market and sell your direct marketing solutions!


November 21, 2008 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Setting B2B Marketing Strategies

Your question: In our freight forwarding business, we have just set up our marketing department. What would be our first step after recruiting sales executives?

My answer: What an excellent position to find yourself in! You’re starting up sales and marketing strategies from the ground up. It’s your opportunity now to set yourself up for success. Here are some of the first things I would consider:

  • Align your sales and marketing teams immediately. I’ve seen so many instances where sales and marketing are not aligned, and it really hurts both marketing and sales. Since you’re starting from scratch, this is your opportunity to build a sales/marketing team that works together; one that shares common goals and actually communicates with each other. For example, you can let both teams determine when a lead should be passed along to sales—where marketing’s activities end and sales begins. They can build a system from the ground up that determines where Marketing’s expertise should be used and where sales skills should be maximized. This alignment of sales and marketing will reap you huge benefits down the road when you see sales exceed their goals and marketing truly supporting the sales effort with solid lead generation activities.
  • Develop sound lead generation strategies: A key first step would be to develop marketing strategies focused on generating qualified leads so your new sales folks can hit the ground running.   Some tactics I would consider would be:
    a.  Generation of interesting content: White Papers, How-to documents, Case Studies—any type of information that your prospects would find interesting. And, it needs to be interesting enough that they will give you their contact info in order to receive it.
    b.  Make sure that your website is optimized so that your prospects can find you. Work with a search engine specialist and make sure that you are easy to find in your product/service category. Of course, once the prospect is visiting your website, make it easy to find your white papers and other give-aways so that you can start collecting prospect information and start programs to turn those prospects into leads for sales.
    c. Along these lines, you’ll need to reach key prospects to tell them about your services. Depending on your marketing budget, consider the various channels that make sense for your business. Consider direct mail programs, print advertising, industry online newsletter sponsorships, outbound teleprospecting etc. Develop a multi-channel strategy that allows you to cost-effectively reach your target audience. Plus it sets the stage for continuous learning so that you can refine strategies over time.

Good luck with your new marketing department!

November 19, 2008 at 8:02 pm 1 comment

California Political Mail Regulations

Your Question: Is there a law in California that restricts the use of Direct Mail (snail mail) by politicians?

My Answer:  I spent quite a bit of time researching this question, and had a hard time finding a summary of California law.  And, while I’m not an attorney, my conclusion at the end of this research is that there may not be regulations specific to California that govern political direct mail.

With that said, there are federal rules that govern campaign spending, and marketing spend in particular.  Specifically, the Bi Partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), enacted in 2002 provides specifics.  Here’s a link to the complete act, including all regulations that govern “Electioneering communications.”

And, for a little more info on this Act, I found this link to be pretty useful. Written in plain English, it helps interpret the Act.

Finally, I thought it might be helpful to search through some sites that specifically cover California politics.  I really liked this site, that is an excellent resource for information on San Francisco politics, and (perhaps even more valuable for your research) also includes an archive of political direct mail.

I hope that this information is helpful to you.  And, if any readers have more input on California laws governing direct mail, please do comment.

November 17, 2008 at 6:56 pm 2 comments

What degree should I achieve?

Your question: I’m wondering what is the name of the perfect degree for me?

I’m interested in Design and advertising. For example if I was asked to design the poster for a new mascara I would be good at choosing her dress, location, colour schemes and fonts used etc. I wouldn’t mind pitching these sorts of ideas in meetings. I like making things look pretty. I quite like using computers.
I am studying the International Baccaleaureate in the UK and my higher subjects are Theatre, Psychology and Spanish.

What I’m trying to figure out is what job I am looking for and which degree is suitabl for my ambitions.

Our Answer: Well, it sounds like you have a good idea of what you’re looking for (direction is a great thing!) and I appreciate your diverse studies. I have two opinions about the best direction for you and will list them both, along with my rationale.  I would  love to hear from those in the UK (I’m from USA) who might give you better insight, as it applies to the UK job market.

In any event, here are two options, in regards to your choice of degree.

1.  Study what you love and then look for the right career post-graduation.  For example, I think that understanding the psychology of people will help you no matter what career you choose. In the US, many times for marketing jobs, it’s not the undergrad degree you’ve achieved, it’s actually the fact that you’ve graduated that will get that interview for an entry-level position.  So, if you’re interested in a psychology, or in a theatre, degree, I believe that this will help you in life, and will not stop you from getting the first interview.  You’ll be a well-rounded individual and can learn specific marketing tasks on the job.  Just remember that you’ll be starting at the bottom. My first job out of college was as a secretary for a direct marketing firm.

2.  Focus your studies on marketing, advertising, design or communications.  This option means that you’ll spend your time in school learning as much as possible about the field you’d like to enter. I would recommend taking courses in all of these disciplines (marketing, advertising and design) and then decide which you’re best at, and what you enjoy.  Basic courses will help you define which area you’d like to specialize in.

In regards to the job you’re looking for, this really will depend on which area you’d like to focus on.  For example, if you’ve decided to become a designer, you may work for an advertising agency or at an in-house creative team for a firm.  It will become clear when you start looking what positions may be available for a new graduate.  One idea would be to focus your search efforts on those companies that you’re most interested in.  So, if you’d like to work at an ad agency, compile a list of the leading firms in your area and continually check out their websites for the right position for you.  Also, make a habit of checking out the job boards on marketing associations–a great place to find positions and internships.

As a final note–none of these decisions can’t be reversed.  I imagine that you’ll enjoy a variety of jobs and industries throughout your career, and that’s a really positive thing, isn’t it?

Good luck to you!

October 28, 2008 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

Back-to-School Marketing Spend

Your Question: Do you know what is the amount of Direct Marketing spend (in the US) on back to school activities?

Our Answer: Wow. This was a tough one to answer, and, in fact, although I searched with a vengeance, and referenced many research materials, I could not find the definitive answer…

I did, however find several related articles that may shed some insight on back-to-school marketing activities.

The first two articles talk about how much students are anticipated to spend going back to school (hint–it’s a lot: $47 billion for college students and $18 billion for other families!).

College Link: College Back-to-School Spending to Surpass $47 Billion
Family link: Back-to-School Spending to Top $18 Billion

For information on marketing strategies and tactics that retailers will be using in their back-to-school campaigns, check out this article, from USA Today.

Along those same lines, here are two links that talk about the importance of incorporating social marketing in your back-to-school campaign mix:

Social Media is Key Component of Back-to-School Marketing Supply List
JupiterResearch Finds That Social Media Has Emerged as Important Marketing Platform for Retailers During Back-to-School Shopping Season

I do apologize for not being able to answer your specific question (this was actually the first time I’ve been stumped!), but hope that you’ll find my links to be helpful.  I also urge any readers with further info on this topic to pipe in and comment with your insight.

October 9, 2008 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

Sales and Marketing – Differences Defined

Your question: Selling and marketing are used similarly–they’re interexchangable terms in many people’s minds.  Can you explain the difference?

Our answer: In a perfect world, sales and marketing are aligned so well, that it truly is hard to understand where marketing ends and where sales begins. At its most basic, Marketing develops sales leads, by a combination of some of the following disciplines:

  • Creating a reputable brand. Creating the right product perception.
  • Nurturing leads that are not quite ready to buy.
  • Understanding the life-cycle of a prospect, so that sales can close the lead once they are ready to buy.
  • Maximizing channels such as advertising, public relations, branding, social marketing and direct response techniques.

Then, sales is responsible for closing the sale–getting that contract signed. The sales process relies on one-on-one relationships. Sales relies on meetings, cold calls, and networking. Sales engages with the prospect or customer on a personal level rather than at a distance.

Personal selling is the process of putting a human being in contact with customers and allowing the relationship that develops to result in a sale for the business. A good salesperson is an excellent listener and always attempts to meet client needs, and match their company’s capabilities to those needs.

When sales and marketing work together, you’ll see the best results. Too often, we see a huge gap between marketing and sales, and oftentimes it’s only a communications issue. Marketing believes that sales are lazy because they’re not working the leads that Marketing worked so hard to acquire. Conversely, sales thinks that marketing’s leads are junk–that they’re not qualified and not nearly ready to buy.

It truly is key to get sales and marketing on the same page. Hold meetings so that each group understands what the others’ goals are. Marketing really needs to listen to sales because they’re closest to the customer. Sales needs to understand what the corporate objectives and overall strategies are so that they can drive to the same strategies. When you can get your sales and marketing teams to work together, you’ll win by having a better pipeline and more closed sales.

September 15, 2008 at 4:31 pm 4 comments

Top Beauty Brands Using Direct Marketing

Your question: What are the top direct marketing beauty brands?

My answer: Great question, and a pretty tough one, too. I’ve tackled your question by quantifying the overall marketplace. I’ve also found some data on media spend by cosmetics and other personal care brands in several direct marketing channels: Direct response television, catalogs and radio.

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) estimates that approx. 3.5 million people shop and order cosmetics and toiletries via the phone or by mail, over the course of a year. This equates to about 1.6% of all cosmetics/toiletries purchases. So, it’s a pretty large market. These direct marketers are using a combination of long and short-form infomercials, catalogs and other direct response channels such as direct response TV.

Response Magazine does an excellent job of reporting on media spend, by category and by company. I urge you to check out their research, but I’ve highlighted some key findings here:

  • In Q1 2008, Cosmetics, Hair and Personal Care firms spent $73,460,100 in long-form infomercials (30 minutes). Sadly, the research did not report on media spending by individual firm/brand.
  • In Q4 2007, Drug and Toiletries firms spent $2,337,600 in direct response television.
  • The two leading advertisers in this category were Media Power (marketers of vitamins and other health/beauty products) and NAC Vitamin Company–who made the top 10 list of leading direct response tv advertisers.
  • In Q1 2008, Drug and Toiletries firms spend $351,519,700 in short form direct response television.
  • The two leading advertisers in this category were: Proactiv Solutions that spent $47,669,300 and Nutrisystem that spent $42,657,800.
  • See the following chart that lists the top short form advertisers.
Response Magazine

Another excellent resource I found is Infomercial Monitoring Service. This firm keeps track of which companies are advertising on TV–how often, etc. Their services are subscription-based, so for the skinny on what beauty brands are up to in regards to television ads, you might consider purchasing their data. I have access to 2004 data that lists the following Beauty brands in the Top 50 Infomercials (based on frequency of ads aired on national cable networks):

  • bareMinerals
  • Proactiv
  • Youthful Essence
  • Sheer Cover
  • Principal Secret
  • Murad
  • FirmaLift

In regards to catalogers, note that there are only three “Personal Care Products” firms that made the DMA’s list of the top 100 catalogers, in terms of customer growth (2005 data–sorry–that’s the most current I could find…).

  1. Yves Rocher
  2. Healthy Living
  3. Caswell Massey

I welcome additional comments with more information. While I did my best to provide as much information as I could gather on this topic, I know that there are experts out there who can flesh out the answer in greater detail.

September 3, 2008 at 7:44 pm 4 comments

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