Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

13 Platinum Audience Ideas to Forever Remember

Talking audience is truly old hat. "Everyone" knows the most important element in any advertising, marketing, merchandising, sales promotion, public relations, and "yes" direct marketing campaign is the audience.

Aim your arrow at the right person and you've got a chance for a bulls-eye. Toss your message in the air as if it's confetti, and chances are you will miss the mark. Meaning, not get the traffic, the leads, the response, the sales you need.

Being on target is not a casual process. The necessity crosses all media. Radio stations play to a select crowd. Newspapers have different sections for different people. Magazines and newsletters are vertical by definition.

In direct telemarketing calls, fax broadcasts, E-mail marketing efforts and direct mail shots are examples which specifically present to an audience who can buy what you sell. And, that is clearly not everyone.

Still, almost daily, there are campaigns way off the mark. The ones I "enjoy" the most are those presenting vanity affinity credit cards. They address me as a dog owner (I have never owned a dog). Or a gardener (stopped mowing lawns, raking leaves, trimming rose bushes the minute I got out of college. In my opinion, that's why we have the Yellow Pages!).

And when they talk to me as if I'm a fisherman I really laugh. I eat fish - I do not catch them. Yet, these guys are persistent; 3-4-5 times a year they come at me with an offer tied to fishing.

So, being on target, even in this 21st Century, is still the key element in being successful. Here are 13 Platinum Audience Ideas to Forever Remember. Which also means never forget!

#1). Clearly define & refine your market

And please do this before you begin your creative processes. It is impossible for your copywriters and art directors to do their thing until they know who they are talking to.

Define "belts" ... sections of geography either kind or not to your offer. When you look at demographics (yes, this old fashion collection of characteristics works ... as it is all about people!) use the most current data. If psycho graphics enter into the mix, use what you know.

Refine, too. Meaning, look at what you did in previous marketing efforts and learn from that experience. Add, subtract, divide, multiple your knowledge to your advantage.

#2). Segmentation by occupation & title can work

Although we all like personalization - our name surely is "sweet" to us - it is not always necessary to address your marketplace by name. A title can work. For home and office.

Still, you need to make your title as exact as possible. i.e.,

... electrical engineers vs. all engineers

... fast food restaurants vs. all restaurants

... trial lawyers vs. all lawyers

... home builders vs. all contractors

... grade school teachers vs. all teachers

... new home owners vs. all home owners

... young mothers vs. all mothers

With the definition clear, then be creative. "To the person in charge of shipping to & from Puerto Rico" is a very exact title. "Dear New Golf Professional" is clearly aimed at a specific audience. As is "Dear First Time Mom". And "To the new home owner!"

Make every effort to clearly identify the audience who can buy what you sell. Who is most likely to need what you offer. And want to do business with you.

#3). Business Marketing is different

At the company level certain buying decisions must be made. Office products are a necessity. Supplies for manufacturing must arrive on time. Specific health and safety conditions must be met. Financial standards are expected by employees, customers, the marketplace.

Still, people are making these decisions - not "companies". I've never sold anything to a company ... only a person.

A while back I enjoyed a several year relationship with a major corporation. Every month they sent a check. Suddenly it came to an end when the person who hired me quit. And the new person went another direction. You see, I never really worked for the company at all ... it was always for that one person.

What's the moral; build relationships with people. People are your audience. People will buy what you sell. When your audience is a business, know it is really people within the business.

#4). Consumer Marketing is different

Although at home and in the office we are the same person physically, we frequently do not act in the same way.

Sure, for some their life is their business. Maybe they turn a passion or hobby into a business. For most this is not the case. Most people have an "on" /"off" button. At home they perform one way - in their job, another.

However you define "family", today family is "in". Again. People schedule their lives around their family and the things the family does. The kids school, a sports practice, a piano lesson, a field trip, a night at the ball game, a week-end canoe trip, a day at a theme park, a visit to the grandparents. i.e., people are putting themselves first, ahead of others ... certainly ahead of their business.

So, marketing to people at home, vs. marketing to them in their office or plant or store, is certainly different. When you truly know your marketplace, and play to this almost religious revival in family and home, it makes your marketing message stronger.

#5). A name is better if ... ... if it is the right name.

Meaning, to begin, the true, right person. Not a guess. Most of the market place has received enough "personal" messages to smell one that is not. Nonsense like this hurts all of us; "I've been trying to reach you ... please Ray, call 1+800+555-5555 for your free trip to Iran". Boo. Hiss. Not a good use of my name. And I know it.

Next, a name is better if ... it is spelled correctly. Way back in my family history I think my name was spelled J U D K I N S. Somewhere along the line it was written sloppily, the D got crossed and turned into a T. For at least 2 centuries my name has been spelled J U T K I N S.

Yet, every week, I get at least one piece of mail, most often more, with my name spelled wrong. It is always amusing when a database marketing firm makes the error.

A friend likes to be addressed by her nick name - Liz. She tells me she knows the person writing or calling does not know her when they address her as Elizabeth.

A name is better ... only when it is the right name.

#6). Change titles when you change industries

Doctors have patients. Retail stores have customers. Attorneys have clients.

These are small differences. As in every case it could be the same person. You! You could have a strong relationship with your doctor, a specific retailer, and your lawyer. First name basis. Yet, for business purposes you are a patient, a customer, a client. That's how it is.

So, since that is how it is, you may need to change your language when you change industries. And talk to your audiences in their language. I'm not suggesting you talk 'down' or 'up' ... I am recommending you talk as if you were 1:1 with your marketplace.

In a recent B-2-B mailing we had 14 variations of the same direct mail package. Different words, different graphics. To reflect to each audience we knew how important they were. That we'd taken the time to care. In each case the message and offer were the same. The words and illustrations were changed to make it specific and personal.

7). Mix & Match by testing

There was a time "testing" was considered the middle name of Direct Marketing. Sadly, in more recent times, testing is being tossed aside in the name of time and money. "I don't have the time ... I don't have the budget."

This attitude reminds me of the axiom ... "how come you have time to do it over when you didn't have time to do it right the first time?" More often than not, testing will help you do it right.

Know you have literally thousands of list selections. And hundreds of offer options. There is more than a single source for just about everything. Look around, "test" and get comfortable you are on the best path. Test until you find what works best for you.

And know there is no one best way. It is possible 2-3-4-10-20-100 combinations will all work for you. Some better than others ... sure. Still, they each work. So, mix & match by testing ... and then roll our your successes.

8). Buy the best - not the biggest

The largest circulation magazine may not be your best buy. Nor the most listened to radio program.

The opt-in E-mail marketing list with the biggest numbers may not be your first choice. The biggest direct mail list not where you want to be.

It's okay to be big ... it's much better to "best". The best will give you the best bottom line profitable results. Anything that doesn't work as well as "best" is suspect.

If it's free and it's wrong, it costs you big time. If it's big and it's wrong, it costs you just that much more. Your successes will come when you talk to the right people - the right audience. Not because you talk to lots of people.

9). Know duplication is NOT the issue!

There is an honest worry about sending the same message multiple times to the same person. i.e., you get 2 or 3 of the same E-mail or same direct mail or same fax, all within the same 24 hours.

Is this good? On the surface, "no". And I would never suggest you plan to do this. Yet, it is going to happen.

How, and why? Well, a contact I work with, on purpose, mis-spells his name when he registers for a service or subscribes to a magazine. He uses this mis-spelling as his tracking tool. To "see" what happens.

This, of course, affects duplication. As Ralph Elliot (or is it Ralf Eliott, or Ralph Eliot, or Raul Elliotte, or . . .) will show up on many different files as a different person. Toss in a business address with a summer cottage address with a post office box and a regular street address, each in different postal codes, and your chances of a dupe go up. And up!

Duplication, in fact, may improve response. Your audience will grow because your message gets passed along to others. This is not as true for consumer marketing ... it certainly is for B-2-B.

Your measure should always be results - orders. Not number of contacts. Or even number of responses. Certainly not number of dupes. Only money counts.

#10). Know who responds ... and why

On the surface, this appears basic. And it is.

You should know who responds. Hey, it's not that much trouble to count, to look at the data and to learn who your audience is. This is downtown fundamental stuff.

The "why" part is a bit more difficult. Why did this person raise their hand to your offer? Why did they buy-in to your deal? Why did they accept this opportunity? Why did they visit your trade show stand? Take your demo? Ask for a trial? Write a check? And "why" did they do it at this time?

Yes, this is tougher. And it takes a bit of doing on your part to find out. You can do it with a simple survey. By phone, mail, fax, E-mail. In person, if the ticket is big enough now, or has the potential to be.

Okay, why is "why" important? So next time you're out the door with a new marketing campaign you know more than you do now. You will turn the answers to "why" into reasons for the next audience to say "yes" to you.

Which means "why" is almost as important as "who"!

#11). Know who does NOT respond ... and why

Ditto. See #10.

Yet, of course, it is a tad more difficult with non-responders. Yet, it is equally important, if not more so. Because there will always be more "no" answers than "yes" replies.

Still, when you turn the question around to "why did you not respond?", you will learn something. Most often something you did not know. Something that will be helpful to you next time.

You'll learn what to keep, what to toss away. What to change, alter, correct, enhance, explain better ... and then, when you go back to this same audience, you'll be ready. With your revised, updated, better message.

And know, no matter how thorough you are with "why" and "why not", you will not always win. Or even get a hit. That's just how it is. Yet, unless you try and test, you'll never know how much money you're leaving on the table.

#12). Track everything that happens

Measurement and analysis is another DM basic.

Yet, except for raw counts it is rare that further tracking is done. Sure, the fund raisers and pure mail-order houses are good at knowing to the smallest denominator what's in, what's out. What works - what does not. For most of the rest a good guess becomes good enough.

Well, it is NOT good enough! To be truly successful in Direct Marketing you need to plan to track results from Day One. You should make certain all the planning and research you've done gets factored in. i.e., you know what's important before you go out the door with our campaign. And measurement on the back-end is in place ... your team knows what to look for. What's important.

Have specific objectives, and measure against those goals. You'll enjoy much more success when you do.

#13). ... and Then try old ideas as new

Sometimes the "ole timers" had it right.

It is fun to listen to my granddaughters talk about some of the "new' music. Much of it from decades before they were born. Brought back for another generation. Sure, "updated" to the times ... still, an old tune presented as new.

You can do the same with your marketing programs. First, try again those programs that work and you dropped. For whatever reason, you're not doing now what worked at an earlier time. Try the old as new.

And ... try the concept that didn't make it the first time, too. There is no such thing as a bad idea ... just one whose time hasn't come. So, how about those ideas that never got out the door? Maybe it's time to look at them another time.

No matter, never throw anything away. Just because it doesn't fit today, doesn't mean it won't fit tomorrow. Maybe all it needs is another look.

Maybe ... a dash of salt & pepper,

... a tick of color,

... upside down will be better,

... or backwards,

... or inside out,

... a different size - smaller or larger,

... a different shape - square, a circle, a triangle, a cube,

... meshed with another good idea,

... or separated to run on its own.

If it was good at one time, it will be good again. If it was not good the first go 'round, it still has hope. Give every idea "the ole college try".

And take these 13 Platinum Audience Ideas to Forever Remember ... and try each of them.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

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