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!

Who Else Wants to Know the Pros and Cons of a Direct Marketing Campaign?

Starting Your Own Business

I got to tell you that whether you are in the network marketing business or are building another home based business, marketing is a very important factor. How else can your business succeed if nobody knows it even exists? How would anybody be able to find you and your business? Continue reading and I’ll share some of the advantages and disadvantages of running a direct marketing campaign.

Marketing Campaigns

There are a few different ways to run a marketing campaign. Direct bulk mailings, email campaigns, telemarketing and even purchasing television or radio commercial time are all ways that small businesses get the word out about their products or services.

For most of us, these methods can be cost prohibitive. Many home based business owners take their business’ budget right out of their household income. Because of this, it becomes very important to weight out the pros and cons of direct marketing before making the investment.

The Pros and the Cons

Direct marketing is driven straight to the potential customer or lead. This removes the need to raise prices to cover a middle-man. Some methods of marketing, including emails and bulk snail mail, can even further target your desired consumer by determining what demographic your market consists of and gathering or buying mailing lists specifically for that market.

Direct marketing also allows you to more accurately track the success or failure of specific campaigns. This information is very valuable moving forward as you fine tune and adjust your marketing strategy.

One of the most obvious disadvantages to direct marketing is people’s tendency to not only get annoyed by these campaigns but even to prevent you from reaching them in the future. For example, I tend to mark as “spam” any direct email marketing that I did not specifically request, hopefully to never be heard from again.

Another clear disadvantage is the costs involved. For most of these strategies, market research, mailing lists and delivery costs are all factors. If you’re considering putting together a radio or TV ad, production costs must also be considered.

Word of Mouth

Perhaps the greatest and most overlooked direct marketing campaign strategy is simple customer satisfaction. If you go out of your way to provide your customers or leads exactly what they are looking for at a reasonable cost, their word of mouth advertising can be the most direct, not to mention least expensive, form of marketing available.