Direct Marketing Offers Flexibility Plus Support

Hundreds of thousands of people in North America work either part or full time for some type of direct marketing company. “Direct marketing” refers to selling something, either a product or a service, directly to consumers. This kind of selling “by-passes” the typical retail venues, like a physical store. Direct marketing companies also rely most heavily on word-of-mouth to promote its products rather than commercials, newspaper/magazine ads, etc.

These companies recruit independent sales representatives to promote and sell their products. This kind of selling typically occurs within the home of a customer who agrees to hold a “show” or a “party”. The party host/hostess then invites a group of friends and acquaintances to hear about the product or service. The independent sales representative describes and demonstrates the product or service that he/she is trying to sell to guests.

The independent sales representative usually earns a commission, or percentage of the total amount of sales for a show or shows. Every direct marketing company is different, but typically an independent sales representative earns somewhere between 15 and 25 percent of the total amount of sales that he/she generates.

The goal of direct marketing, aside from making sales, is to keep the chain of sales going. Independent sales representatives try to generate new business during these in-home shows. They may offer the host/hostess a bonus product or a small commission for any new shows that are booked by guests at the party.

The biggest benefit joining up with a direct marketing company is that independent sales representatives are able to choose their own work schedules. They are almost always free to sell as little or as much as they want to (although the parent company may offer strong incentives to reach certain sales targets). There may be a minimum monthly sales quota to meet in order to remain “active” with the company, though there are many companies that don’t have a monthly quota.

Direct marketing is one of the most popular and simplest ways to work at home. Independent sales representatives have the benefit of a parent company which offers training and sales advice. They also have opportunities to work for extra rewards over and above the commission check for meeting sales targets. Cruises, trips and cars are commonly offered to top sales representatives.

You don’t necessarily have to be the world’s best sales person to be successful at direct marketing. You probably have what it takes if:

* You enjoy socializing and meeting new people.

* You are self-motivated.

* You really like the product(s) or service(s) that a particular company offers. “Avid customers make the best sales representatives” is a very common mantra in direct marketing. If you already enjoy and believe in the product, you won’t have to worry about sounding like you’re making a phony or contrived sales pitch.

* You like to challenge yourself.

Direct marketing allows the independent sales representative to be his or her own boss, yet still have the support of more experienced mentors. Some people choose this kind of work as a part time or supplementary income. Others work it into a full time, sustainable and livable income. Either way, direct marketing is an excellent way to make money at home.

Benefits of Direct Marketing: The Personal Touch!

Direct marketing connects you directly with your customers. When customers receive a piece of mail addressed to them, take a phone call, get an email from you or see you or your sales representative in person, they connect with you and your business on a personal level.

Let’s look at three aspects of the benefits of direct marketing.

Building Relationships

When you market directly, you build relationships. No matter what day or age, or how much technology we have, the core of all successful business strategies is building on a rock-solid foundation of interpersonal connection. Customers like to deal with a familiar face, a trusted brand, a known quantity. Contacting customers repeatedly reminds customers of your quality and lets them know you care.

Keeping Track of the Metrics

Direct marketing allows you to track your numbers easily. When you use different types of direct marketing, you can efficiently compile statistics and measure several different parameters, including response percentage rates, geography, demographics, psychographics, and timing. With this kind of specific information, you can reap the benefits of direct marketing more fully in the future by having a scientific, mathematically based way of selecting targets and gauging your timing more specifically.

Minimizing Competition

By marketing directly, you avoid immediate competitor response or counter-offers. Competitors may, of course, get wind of your materials, but they cannot respond as rapidly or effectively as they can to online campaigns, for example. Thus, your deals are likely to be the best ones around. When your customers are accustomed to hearing from you directly, they are less likely to shop around and more likely to keep coming back.

These are three major benefits of marketing directly, but there are many more. To find out for yourself how beneficial it can be, set up your marketing campaign today!

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.

Offline Businesses – The Most Effective Online Marketing Uses Direct Marketing Strategies

Direct marketing in the offline world has grown to huge proportions, becoming a very professional industry in which the biggest players are immensely successful. And these same direct marketing strategies and techniques are the hallmark of the most successful Internet marketing businesses, etc. In fact, every direct marketing professional should consider Internet marketing as a career or at least a sideline for additional income streams.

Direct mail pieces in the offline business world become email blasts online – and with more and more email programs now HTML capable, can be just as glossy and heavily designed as their offline counterpart. And just as direct marketers buy targeted leads or use location-based mail drops, Internet marketing pros rent email lists, buy solo ads and buy leads.

Direct marketing techniques also include classified ads and TV infomercials – online there are a number of classified-ad sites, some international and many based on certain locals. And video sharing sites are perfect for displaying TV-style commercials, infomercials, product demonstrations, etc.

And the ‘golden lists’ or the big Direct Mail houses, those lists of targeted leads that buy from them regularly, are no different than the customer lists online. Just as direct marketers have a pre-written series of e-mails and offers that go out to their previous customers on a regular basis, so too do online marketers who use pre-written autoresponder series to follow up with each purchaser.

If you own and/or operate an offline business in direct marketing, learn all you can about the strategies, tools and techniques being used by successful Internet marketing pros and use that knowledge to increase bottom line profits considerably. While some online regulations, like the anti-spam laws, make parts a little trickier in compliance, it’s more than made up for by the low cost of email blasts, the lack of lead time required for printing, and the free video hosting the video sharing sites provide. Start by putting every commercial and infomercial in your current library online at sites like YouTube, Viddler and Daily Motion and you’re already well on your way.

And if you’re currently working in the direct marketing industry with no equity in the company that employs you, consider starting a part-time job in online marketing and building it into your own full-time Internet marketing or affiliate marketing business. You have the skills so start investigating this low-startup-costs online industry for your own future today!