13 Platinum Ways to Ensure
You Get Your Message to the Right Audience
Many of you have heard me speak of the 40-30-20-10 "rule".
It is based on a principle taught by the grandfather of all direct mail
education - Ed Maher. For 21st Century direct marketing this is how it
- 40% of the success of your DM campaign is dictated by your audience
... getting your message to the right person
- 30% is the result of your offer to that very select target
- 20% is your creative - the copy and art and layout and design and
- 10% is the media you select; mail, fax, the web, broadcast, print,
It is quickly obvious your audience is key to your success. Recently
I participated in a "failure". The program goal was to gain
new customers, using a new product as bait. I should have seen from the
beginning it was going to be an uphill battle. Trying to do 2 things at
once . First, get someone to buy who has never bought. And to get that
same person to buy a product that was "new". The program had
far too many opportunities for problems. And we had them!
The hind-sight evaluation pointed this out. We were all comfortable the
audience matched the clients current customer base. Yet, they had never
bought before. So, we thought, maybe something "new" will push
them over. On the surface the idea seemed sound enough to make a chase
worth the effort. It proved to be otherwise.
The lesson; You must get your message to those who can buy what you have
to sell. And still, you must do everything else right!
Yes, this list of 13 Platinum Ways to insure You Get Your
Message to the Right Audience is valid. Yet, this doesn't mean you ignore
everything else. It does mean you spend the necessary up front time to
be absolutely certain you are talking to the right people. For, if you
do all else well, and fail to get to the right people, you are bound to
be less than successful.
One more point; please note I said "...you are talking to the right
people". Not companies, or groups, or committees, not even families
if you have a consumer product. It is "people" you talk to.
And most often 1:1 is how you talk to them.
Never have I sold anything to an organization, an association, a corporation.
It has always been a person.
At one time my largest client was Canada Post. They sent money every
month. Until "the man" who hired me left. I followed his steps
out soon thereafter. As I did not work for Canada Post ... I worked for
Here are the 13 most important things to know and do to make certain
you are talking to those who can buy what you sell;
Audience Idea #1. Your House List will always out pull all others
On the surface this is obvious. And not so obvious. Why both?
Because those who know you best are most likely to listen to your message.
To read what you send. To visit your web site. To take your demonstration.
To accept your offer. Because they know what to expect, based on their
history with you.
On the opposite side they have heard it all before. They weren't interested
last time - they aren't interested now. This group will look - and make
a quick "yes" or "no" decision.
And, far too frequently, those of us selling present our message once
... and wait. We sometimes think that's all it takes. Because these are
They'll come to us when they're ready.
This "wait" concept died in the 1970s. Want proof? Look no
further than banks. Who learned if they wanted to get - and keep! - customers,
they had to reach out and touch. And do it over and over, again and again.
Even your most likely audience - your current customers - must hear from
Audience Idea #2. A Response List will out pull a compiled list
This idea is no surprise. Those who are most likely to respond to you
are those who responded previously to others. They like the direct marketing
concept of hearing, learning, buying. Vs. other people, who do not.
Sometimes you can select "hot-line" buyers. Those most active
and most recent prospects. As those who have bought multiple times in
the past are most likely to buy again. And the data on these folks is
most often the most up to date, the most accurate. Now, what about compiled
data? Nothing wrong with it. Many times it is not only very accurate,
it is very useful. You can learn a lot about these people.
What makes compiled vs. response "different" is there is no
history on the compiled buying habits. Which, of course, is key to making
Audience Idea #3. Different age groups give different results
Baby boomers are not Generation "X" or "Y". Or today
"D" - digital.
They are different people, who grew up in a different time. And thus
"think" - and act - different, too.
Your product line self-selects your buyers. Still, history says those
35+ are more likely to buy direct from print and direct mail. Younger
are more likely to buy from broadcast and electronic media.
When your product/service has a broad age range, you may need to create
separate messages for each. As men in their 40's are most certainly different
than 20 something ladies.
Advertising discovered this decades ago. Newspapers, magazines, radio
and television each offer different audiences in different sections, or
different programming. Direct must use this same concept in audience selection.
Audience Idea #4. Geography does matter
This idea is personal. As I live on a ranch, at the end of a dirt road.
As some have said, at the end of the earth. I know the geography concept
to be true.
Rural areas will most often out pull urban. Why? Because they are remote,
and truly have less choice. Sparsely populated countries are frequently
heavy mail-order responsive. Because they don't have at home what they
find across the border.
And ... all postal codes and census tracts are not equal. North is not
south. Each state or province is different. That's why there are lines
Where you are does not matter as much as it did in the past. As long
as your customer service and attention to detail is "local".
Yet, where your customer is does matter - to your customer.
Audience Idea #5. Season does matter
All things have a season. Some have 2 or 3 seasons. Some seasons go on
for months. Like books, music, telephone equipment.
Yet, seasons do matter. Even if it is nothing more than a state of mind.
In the summer you buy certain things - during winter, other. The month
end or year end can be a "season".
Still, in most cases, the difference between the best and worst season
is less than 20%. Your audience will buy if you will but ask.
So, although season is important, it does not always matter to your clients.
If they need what you sell now - sell it now!
Audience Idea #6. The universe does matter
The universe is simply how many opportunities are available to you.
It matters for planning. Planning your test. Planning your role-out,
when it works. Planning more testing when it doesn't work.
When your select audience is small, your tactics will be greatly different
than if it is large. My experience has included an audience as small as
79. And as large as 22 million! Obviously, everything about those 2 campaigns
was greatly different.
It matters with your creative approach. What you invest per contact when
selling a US/$500. item will not be the same when the product lists for
Audience Idea #7. Selections do matter
Demographics ... psychographics ... they matter.
Sex, age, race, income, family size, religious preference, type of housing,
car driven, hobbies, job title and responsibility and a countless array
of similar selections do matter.
Behavior - even in the 21st Century! - is the biggest single indicator
of what people will do in the immediate future ...based on what they've
done in the immediate past.
Todays' younger audience "changes" more than baby boomers do.
Part of this change is impatience. The speed at which business and life
Another part of this change is options. There are many more opportunities
today to be different from our grandparents or parents.
So, selections are important. It is important to carefully select.
Audience Idea #8. Quality does matter
Vs. quantity. Sure, as stated earlier, size does matters. Still, it is
the quality of who you are talking to that turns ideas into cash.
When you're looking for 1000 qualified leads a month to feed your sales
team, the key word is "qualified". Not 1000. If you go for pure
numbers, you will soon learn your sales team is deep sixing ALL leads
... because they feel you don't understand.
If your response is big and wrong, it is still wrong. If it is free and
wrong it costs too much. If your select audience has a big price tag and
earns you a big profit, it could be a bargain.
Make your audience selection based on quality - those that can buy what
Audience Idea #9. Test - test - test
And do it often.
Always be searching for "new" audiences. With E-mail, fax marketing,
direct mail, newspapers or magazines, radio or television or a web test,
continue to look for sources. i.e., "test" to learn, test to
Busy? Well, I hope so. Yet, I do not know anyone who has too much business.
They may have too much business the first week of every month.
Or at tax time. Or during the holidays. Or when new products are announced.
Yet, no one has too much business.
So, you must always be searching for "new". Test-test-test
... only frequency will earn you continuing and on-going results.
Audience Idea #10. Test segments as well as the whole
Idea #9 talks testing. Because testing is so, so important to your success,
here is another testing idea; Test segments as well as the whole.
Test for the golden niches within your current sources. Many times
you'll find a small segment that is giving you outstanding results. The
80 / 20 rule at work.
Countless times I've seen an entire audience tossed, because, as a whole
it did not give a positive return. And many, many times, when we look
at that same group a second time, we find within it a smaller unit that
is very, very profitable.
Databases allow us this luxury - analysis within. There is no magic to
this - there is no right way, or wrong. Look at your audiences to find
the truly profitable bites within.
Audience Idea #11. LOOK at what you're doing
"Mailing" lists are guaranteed to give you trouble. Sometime,
if not every time.
Certainly this is true with direct mail. E-mail, fax marketing, phone
marketing are equally affected.
So, what do you do? You LOOK at what you're buying! Sounds simple, yet,
frequently we're on such a fast pace we don't take the time to really
look at what our prospect audience is.
Not long ago I was doing a traffic building program for a restaurant
We had a problem when the mailing lists for 2 stands in the group were
reversed. "A" got "B", and "B" got "A".
A pair of friends had a similar problem with a seminar offering. Doctors
were invited to a marketing day, and the marketing folks to learn more
about a new medical procedure. A total loss.
What is equally horrid is addressing everyone as equal. My company is
small ... yet, at least once a month I receive an invitation to a high
level corporate seminar. Offering something far and away more than my
company could swallow
Before you contact your prospects, make certain they are your prospects.
Look at what you're doing.
Audience Idea #12. Time does matter
Plan enough time to do everything you need to do. Rushing with the most
important element in your marketing program - finding and reaching the
right audience - is silly, if not stupid.
Yes, you're under staffed. And have too much to do. And not enough money.
The database isn't as flexible - nor complete - as you'd like it. Your
special event is less than 30 days away. The sales staff is "screaming"
for action. Still ... take time. Take time to think, to plan, to organize.
When you do you may do less - you will do what you do do, right. Getting
your message to the right audience is the key element in meeting your
corporate objectives. In feeding quality leads to the field. In converting
prospects to customers. Take time to do it right.
Audience Idea #13. Keep everyone in the loop
Whatever your results, share them with everyone. This means your database
group, your creative team, your sales force, your production team, upper
management - everyone and anyone involved with marketing. You've undoubtedly
heard we learn more from programs that don't work than we do from successes.
Well, that may or may not be the case.
Still, no matter your results, do share them. As all those affected do
need to know. For next time.
So, 13 Platinum Ways to Ensure You Get Your Message to
the Right Audience. Use them and enjoy better marketing results. Ignore
them at your peril.