Five Fatal Direct Marketing Mistakes

Direct marketing is a science, there's no doubt about it; and attempts to circumvent the natural sales process are by and large rewarded with little to show. Certain tenets dictate direct marketing success, no matter the medium, the audience or the venue; and just as certainly there are mistakes you can make that spell disaster for any campaign. The following five fatal direct marketing mistakes must be avoided at all costs.

1. Marketing directly ... to no one

Think a mass postcard campaign is a great idea? Perhaps if you're a politician, but otherwise you're wasting money (and it could be argued that politicians are wasting money if they do anything more than try to get those who already support their ideas to get out and vote - but that's another story). You absolutely, positively, 100 percent must know without a doubt who your audience is, what they value, what they want and how you can solve their problems before you do anything at all. That's how you design a successful campaign, and those are the people you market to.

2. Introducing new campaigns

Now, introducing new campaigns is not a bad thing - unless, of course, your current campaign is working. Never, ever, ever - ever - scrap a successful campaign in favor of something new. Yes, you can try to run concurrent campaigns to test the waters, but as the adage says: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

3. Failing to track

Do you know where your prospects are going after they see your direct marketing materials? Do you know where your customers come from, or how they get there? Do you know your return rate, your sales rate, your return on investment, and your gross and net profits? If not, you might already be dead in the water. Track, test, tweak and repeat.

4. Expecting a sale

If you're ponying up your entire budget and hinging this year's success on one giant postcard campaign, and expect to send it out and sit back waiting for the sales ... well, you'll be waiting a long time, my friend. Your direct marketing efforts should be a means to an end, not a closer. Intrigue customers, generate interest and open a channel of communications. That's when you can close.

5. Thinking customers care about you

Think your customers care that you've been in business for 10 years, or that you've won a few awards, or that you went to Harvard? They don't. Sorry, but that degree of yours really is meaningless if you're a small business owner. Customers care about what you can do for them. Period. Your background can certainly be used as supporting evidence, but it does not solve your customers' problems. Focus on solving your customers' problems, and you'll earn business.

BONUS TIP: Use the right tools! As a direct marketer, your marketing materials should carry weight in terms of credibility and image. Never settle for inferior direct marketing materials when you can get premium materials on the cheap.