by Jeffrey Dobkin
Don’t give me any of your whining. I have aches and pains too. Oh, my back hurts. Oh, I just dislocated my shoulder. Hey, my appendix just burst . . . You don’t hear me complaining, do you?
Tough it out, baby—and get back in the direct-marketing driver’s seat. I don’t think the plan really was for the meek to inherit the earth.
My Top 10 Direct-Marketing Recommendations
10. Market harder. Spending additional marketing dollars when others are pulling back propels you onto higher ground and into higher visibility, way past others—to the top of the “Hi! I’m over here!” visibility peak.
9. Market smarter. This means marketing with greater precision. Take careful aim at your best targets. Spend the necessary time up front, and don’t waste resources on going after people on the edge who may possibly buy if they are in the right mood and if they feel like it that day. Dig deep. Aim for the low-hanging fruit: solid targets that need your stuff.
Specific technique here: Send letters every six weeks to your top 100 prospects. Mailing costs: 100 × 42¢ = $42 × 9 times a year = $378. Best $378 you can spend in marketing—guaranteed. Have an extra $378? Mail to your next 100 top prospects.
8. Take advantage of the better deals. For example, now that the giant media-buying machinery of the automotive industry is pulling back, it has left great media, ad space, direct mail, and cut-sheet paper deals on the table for the rest of us. Look around. Great deals abound. Find them . . .
7. Negotiate. Make your own deals. Lots of firms that were so, so steadfast on price will now negotiate. Make them.
6. Go ahead, make a ridiculous offer. Don’t be afraid to call up and make a lowball offer. You might not get that price, but you may wind up paying much less than list.
5. Remember—not everyone is in a recession. Not every industry suffers. Some industries flourish during economic downturns. Head over to those markets. “Studying the markets” has meaning beyond the traditional incantations of the stock market—where, you know, your investments have tanked.
4. Enjoy the fact that some firms you dislike are in the blender. I don’t want to get off subject here, but remember the Ford dealer that changed your oil for $87.50 and replaced all your fan belts for $300 when only one was failing? Now, that dealer’s all moaning about how no one’s buying cars, so it has to reduce its profit margin. And how about others that fit that same pattern? I bet you have your own list.
3. Hang in there. Keep shortening that list of receivables. Keep marketing with greater accuracy and effectiveness to reduce costs. Test-mail smaller cells, and read and interpret results more closely.
2. Mail more frequently to your current customers. They already know you and like you, so they’re A-1 prospects.
1. Stay cheerful. Reminds me of a sign I saw once: “They told me, ‘Cheer up—things could be worse!’ So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.” Seriously, if you’re not having any fun, do something else. Life’s too short.
Jeffrey Dobkin has written five books on direct marketing, and specializes in “making your phone ring through effective direct response copy.” To order his books or speak with him, email Jeff@Dobkin.com; call 610/642-1000; or visit danielleadams.com.