Is direct marketing effective for the small start-up?

2015-09-29 08.57.54
(Copyright © 2015 by Rayne Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

I’ve spent a lot of time in the traffic and at almost every four-way stop people thrust pamphlets at your side window. Are these pamphlets effective? They’ve slipped ones through the top of my window for storage facilities, vehicle repairs and maintenance, beauty products, gyms and even for retirement accommodation.

Pamphlets are such a hit-and-miss thing. Traffic consists of drivers representing such a broad market that the chances of targeting your market and hitting the right customers are slim. Why do it then? Because everybody else is doing it? It’s not a good enough reason.

You see, if you are unable to call out a specific target group such as, for example, young parents with children, then what’s the point? Some small business owners really don’t know how much money they are wasting by using pamphlets. I know of one human resources coach and consultant who tried to promote his business, can you believe it, through standing at a four-way stop and handing out pamphlets detailing his service. Pamphlets don’t work, he told me. He was just desperate to do something. Far better for this coach and consultant would be to try find ways to communicate more directly with his specific target audience.

One nursery I know of ran a successful pamphlet campaign but with a twist. Their spring promotion involved giving motorists actual seedlings with a pamphlet attached. The twist was that potential customers could come to the nursery to buy more seedlings but at a discount. This special promotion called out all gardeners because quite frankly anyone not interesting gardening wouldn’t want to receive the seedlings. This direct marketing exercise was successful because potential customers could see the quality of the seedlings and were also attracted by the special discount. Results were measurable because the nursery merely had to compute the number of discount coupons that came in against purchases.

Direct marketing takes many forms. One tends to think of direct mail when it comes to direct marketing but this is only one form of direct marketing. These days direct mail can stand out because so few are doing it or even doing it well but the problem is that everyone has been bitten by the unreliable postal services. With an unreliable postal service, direct mail marketing merely consists of throwing money down the drain.

It’s far better to build up an email customer list where a small business or start-up can communicate directly with an interested customer segment. Besides, it’s far cheaper – not for nothing because if you are sending out bulk mailings you need to do it through a bulk email provider which will cost you (in dollars). I also know of one business that relies mainly on cell phone text messages or SMSs to communicate with their target market. This method works for the small business and reduces costs because they don’t need to spend money on any other direct marketing or advertising.

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