Marching Orders Using One Voice Over All Media
Whenever I teach a seminar or workshop on the basics of direct marketing, we talk about the fact that direct marketing uses a variety of types of media—not just direct mail lists. It's interesting how often businesses overlook the opportunity to send "one message"—no matter which medium they're using—whether it's broadcast, space, package inserts, direct mail or online advertising. One observation I'll make is that direct marketers tend to be better about sending the same message and using the same voice in all their advertising efforts than do traditional marketers who are crossing over into direct.
Here are some elements of your advertising message that can work together to support your marketing efforts:
Drive home key differentiating points, repeat them in all your advertising. For example, whether you're a customer or a first-time "window shopper" with Lands' End, they consistently remind you of their company's two-word pledge: Guaranteed. Period. You see this in their catalog, at their Web site, on their order form, in their space ads and on their package inserts. Even their telephone Specialty Shopper will remind you of the guarantee when they sense you're concerned about making a buying decison. If you have any reservations abut ordering because of size, fit, color, quality, match, whatever ... Lands' End wants to make sure know you can send it back for a full refund. At any time. For any reason. Poof! Objection neutralized.
Use the same "voice" in all your advertising messages, all media. The "voice" of your advertisng is what distinguishes you from your competition and solidifies your relationship with your customer. Lands' End and L.L. Bean may sell many of the same products, but the voice in their advertising is not the same. You can tell by reading their copy. While L.L. Bean's is factual and straightforward, Lands' End's is candidly conversational in everything from product to promotional copy: "A gift certificate lets them choose. Don't want to guess their size? A gift certificate in any amount, along with our latest catalog should do the trick. We even tuck in a handsome folder free of charge."
Whether it's a space ad, Web page or direct mail letter, remind your customers and prospects of all the ways you do business. Put your phone number, fax number, Web site, retail store location and mailing address in all your marketing and sales materials. You never know which will turn out to be the most convenient for a particular customer on any given day.
The image that you've established for your company through the use of graphic design elements and type should be consistent throughout your advertising, as well. Unless you're using inconsistency to draw special attention to an event such as a sale or new product introduction, keep it consistent. One voice, one look equals instant recognition.
Don't be afraid to test other types of media. If you've used direct mail to build your business and it makes strategic sense to try prospecting through space ads or cable TV—test it! Changing technology and emerging markets (e.g., teenagers) are reasons you should not assume anything—no matter how well (or poorly) different types of media have worked for you in the past. At the same time, don't stop doing what you've done to build your business—without testing first. For example, online shopping may tantalize some segments of your market and not others.
Be creative ... create your own media. Walter Drake did when he created the first stamp folder program selling return address labels for $1 via direct response ads printed on the inside of the stamp folders dispensed from stamp machines in hotel lobbies. Look for your own new opportunities for communicating your message to your targeted audience(s) most effectively and efficiently.
Last but not least, remember that effective direct response advertising uses the same basic elements whether it's a space ad in The Wall Street Journal, a postcard generating traffic to your store in a mall, or a 60-second TV spot. To be successful, you need to include an offer (reason to respond), response mechanism (phone number, fax number, Web site, mailing address or store locations), along with a method for tracking and measuring response (key-coded coupon, unique phone number, bar code, etc.).