Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What Channels Are Your Customers On?

I've been reviewing some direct marketing vehicles from a couple of companies recently... in both cases these companies have been using print pieces to reach out to their targets. The pieces are nicely designed and reasonably effective.

I've always maintained that any and all marketing channels (including print DM, it's not necessarily a dinosaur) can and should be used to interact with your prospects and customers. I've done highly-qualified, high impact dimensional and print pieces that have delivered response rates in excess of 70%! A multi-channel campaign ensures that you are using all available communication highways to your target.

But what channels do they prefer to be messaged to and communicate back to you? Have you asked them? Think of the channels now available to marketers - digital, print/dimensional, mobile, telemarketing, personal, broadcast. Remember you want to engage a prospect or customer on their terms, not what's best for you. It's entirely possible that a percentage of your target audience may not have as readily adopted online communication so perhaps email campaigns are not as effective. Or print pieces rarely if ever make it to their desk as they go through numerous gatekeepers. Or they are impossible to reach via the telephone. Or they don't attend trade shows.

What's important to recognize is the answer to the question -- what are the most effective channels in which to communicate w/my prospects and customers? -- is sitting on your desk. Pick up your telephone and call your loyal customers and simply ask them. You probably (hopefully) have a number of customers who love your product and service and want to see your company continue to succeed and grow. They would love to be a part of that success. And they would most certainly share their likes and preferences about how they like to be communicated with, the types of marketing vehicles and channels that they prefer. How often do they wish to be contacted? What type of offers appeal to them? Do they take the time to read white papers? Are they Internet savvy and do all their research online? Do they ever see print pieces? What types of media (on and offline) do they read? Why did they buy from you originally? What types of marketing don't they like?

You can take just a handful of customers and reach out to them via the telephone, or online survey or print survey. Design 8-10-12 primary questions that will provide you with the answers that will help you to better understand how to engage with your customers, how to give them what they want.

From the types of offers you build, to the channels you use to communicate to the design of your products, your customers and prospects are an untapped goldmine of information and data that should be shaping your entire marketing strategy. Remember, these are the people who chose your company over all others. Whatever you did with them worked (or didn't work). Go ahead. Pick up the phone.

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