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Week 4

Week 4: Direct mail, email, public relations, and more

  • To understand a variety of promotional marketing tools
  • To analyze which tools might be most effective for your enterprise
  • Week 4 page
  • eMarketing: The Essential Guide to Online Marketing - CC BY NC ND - chapters 2, 3, 6, 7, 4, and/or 16 (Choose the chapter(s) that are most relevant given your previous experience and enterprise objectives.)
  • Promotional marketing pieces of your choice
  • Make-your-own-case study: Choose a promotional piece of your choice (junk mail, email marketing, a press release, web advertisement, etc.) that you think is EFFECTIVE and APPLICABLE to your enterprise. Tell why it is effective and how your own enterprise might adapt  and use the idea. Post your work under the appropriate prompt for this week in the forum.
  • Choose one promotional tool and think about how it could be used for your own enterprise. Develop a detailed strategy for how you would use this tool and/or write a draft of the actual copy for others' response. Post your work under the appropriate prompt for this week in the forum. Then review and respond to at least one other participant's post. (Note: This assignment could be expanded to be your final project for weeks 6-9.)

This week we're going to look at promotion or lead generation techniques -- how you get potential customers to know about your enterprise in the first place.

First, to maximize the benefits of any of these tools, you may want to consider some kind of customer database. Depending on your business, this could be as simple as list of customers in Outlook, a spreadsheet, or even on paper, or as complex as a full-blown contact and customers relation management system. While this might seem overblown for a start-up enterprise, it is very useful for a variety of purposes including measuring the effectiveness of various marketing efforts, lead tracking, on-going marketing, tracking repeat business and referrals, managing support, etc.

Whatever promotion tools you use, try to focus on adding value to the customer. Most people don't love in-your-face advertising, but we all like good solutions to real problems we have. Try to frame your promotional marketing in terms of solutions. For all marketing communications, KNOWING YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE is critical.

Here are some options for promotion. Which work best for you will depend largely on your enterprise.

Direct mail
Direct mail can be expensive, and most think of it as a tool for larger enterprises. However, targeted direct mail can be enormouslly successful for small enterprises. Examples of targeted direct mail campaigns might be letters to very large or very influential potential customers.

Email is free, making it very appealing to small enterprises, but has lost some of its effectivesness recently because of the proliferation of spam, which now makes up the majority of all email. Spamming is sending unsolicited mass emails. Not only is spam discourteouus but it will ultimately harm your enterprise's reputation and should be avoided at all costs.

Productive approaches to email marketing include:
  • Send targeted one-to-one emails rather than mass mailings when possible - Not only is this less likely to be screened out by spam filters, but it sends a mesesage that you value the recipient.
  • Build an opt-in email list - This is not as hard as it sounds, and it is a key to email marketing success. Collect email addresses everywhere you go. Include a "subscribe"  link on web site and anywere you promote yourself.
  • Include an "unsubscribe" option on all mass email communications (which is another reason you need a customer database)
  • Always include valuable content for your target audience in every email communication. Examples could include articles or links on topics of interest, support tips, discounts, contests, success stories, etc.
Also keep in mind that there are occasions when you may email your customer that are not explicitly designed for marketing (such as to provide order information, to answer questions, or to provide information), but that can include marketing information as well. Oftentimes this is more palatable to customers than receiving a purely promotional email.

Public relations
Public relations (PR) has the advantages of being basically free, not annoying to anyone, and very effective. The keys to good PR are putting together a solid list of well-targeted publications, cultivating relationships with publication editors, producing periodic interesting press releases, and following up.

There are many venues for advertising, such as print, radio, television, billboards, online etc., and again this is typically a technique used by larger enterprises with big budgets. However, like direct mail, advertising can be effective if it can be very targeted. For example, if you have a very local business, advertising in local newspapers may make sense. Or if you have a very specific target audience (e.g. oil rig workers) and there is a publication that is very targeted to that audience, advertising may be worthwhile.

A subset of  advertising is Google AdWords, which can be purchased to tie your promotion in to searches people do on Google.

For all of these promotion options, analyze which makes sense for your business based on the cost compared to the business they bring in. Do your best to track specific business that comes in to what generated the lead. Ask new contacts how they heard about you. Set up specialized tracking mechanisms, such as customized landing pages, Google Analytics, etc. (For example, mark different direct mail pieces with codes or use customized URLs or shortened URLs such as through to track impressions.)

Task Discussion