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As a creative, you might consider marketing to be a chore (or a pain) and would rather spend your timing improving and producing your creative product. But if you want to make money with your creative passion, marketing is a necessary evil. Just having a great product is not enough, especially in competitive markets.
If you want to maximize your marketing budget and employ a tool that you can execute from your laptop, direct marketing is a perfect fit for a creative professional.
Direct marketing, as the name implies, is a form of marketing where you communicate straight with your client, customer or consumer. It is an aggressive marketing tactic that requires you to hunt for leads and clients. Among its practitioners, it is also referred to as Direct Response Advertising.
While traditionally, direct marketing refers to sending snail mail (physical mailers), you can now send customized emails to targeted prospects.
Characteristics of direct marketing are:
- A targeted database of potential clients or prospects along with their contact info
- Targeted marketing messages that are addressed directly to the potential clients or prospects
- Direct marketing seeks to drive a specific “call to action.” For example, a call to action is for them to request for more info, watch a video or click on a link to a website.
Here are four steps for a successful simple direct marketing campaign for creatives:
Step 1 – Build a Prospect Email Database
The first step in mounting a direct marketing effort is to identify your target prospects and put together an email database or list.
Using Internet searches is the most cost effective way for you to develop your prospect email list. It can be a time consuming process but you are almost guaranteed of qualified leads, especially in niche markets. You will be able to build a decent database by typing in specific keyword searches and searching industry-specific online directories.
For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you might want to look for “wedding planners in Western Europe”. Specify for the freelancer to search for contacts of 100 prospects; including the email, website, contact number and contact person. Subsequently, you will filter through the contact list and qualify the list even further. That means, you make an educated informed guess if you think there is potential to sell to a contact.
You can also identify businesses or associations you think your creative product will benefit and do online searches to find contact information. At times, you will have to make a call to find out the name and email address of a specific person in charge.
Do not worry about building a huge database. A smaller but qualified list will likely convert (make a sale or booking) than a large random list. Start with a list of 50 and then build up the numbers.
Step 2 – Communicating Your Message
Choose how you want to market or communicate your message to your database of prospects. The two most popular methods are to email or to call.
I personally prefer to email as I find it less intrusive and I can communicate more information succinctly and effectively in a short email than a phone call.
However, it really depends on your specific market and geographical region. In some markets, a phone call and setting up a meeting may be much more effective than sending an email.
Regardless of whether you are emailing or calling, you need to write an email or a script. For purposes of discussion, I will focus on email direct marketing. But the same general points will apply to your telephone script.
Here are some tips:
- Keep the email simple, short and strong. You have only have seconds to grab the reader’s interest. Get to the point, from the subject line to the headlines to the message of your email. I recommend an email between ½ – ¾ of a page long or 400 words or less.
- Make your message easy to “scan”. Don’t overwhelm readers with long paragraphs and lots of copy. Breaking up your email-marketing copy with punchy subheads, numbered and bulleted lists, and small bites of information will allow readers to quickly read it and grasp your main message.
- Injecting personalized comments and information into marketing emails is very strong personal communication. So, personalize the email whenever possible. Address the prospect by their name and make it clear you are familiar with their work by complementing their success on a recent project. This is all information that you can find on the prospect’s social media or website.
- Avoid using text, phrases, underlines, bolds and upper case fonts that will make your email look like spam.
- Communicate a single message and a single call to action. As a creative, you will likely be introducing yourself as well as your product or service. The single message should be what makes you different or why the prospect should buy from you or engage you. Your call to action should be for the prospect to visit your website or watch a promotional video.
- Proofread, and proofread again. Although this may seem obvious, proofreading is often overlooked. And typos and inaccuracies in your email-marketing copy can hurt your credibility with prospects.
- If you are emailing to a database of prospects, you can also use a mass email program such as A-webber, Mail Chimp or Mail Blaster that can be customized individually to recipients.
Step 3 – Following Up
This step is very important and often neglected. Following up with an email or a call will increase your chances of booking a show significantly. 90% of your targeted prospects will see your email. However, if you are lucky, about 40% will actually click to open it. And, about half of those people may actually read your message in its entirety.
Following up adds direct personal contact and reminds them of the email or gives them more incentive to read the email again. Sometimes, you can offer to email them again so they will really read the email.
In my experience, most people are quite happy to receive a follow up email or call as sometimes they were legitimately busy and overlooked the email. The follow-up gives them a mental note to look at your message properly.
Step 4 – Tracking Results
Every time you execute an email blast or direct marketing campaign, you also should take note of your conversions.
You should track how many leads you generate from your email and how many leads actually result in the booking of shows. For such niche markets that creatives target, expect a 5% – 10% conversion rate (which is considered good).
Based on your results, modify your campaign to see if you get better results. Here are some tips:
- Change the subject of your email. Sometimes, certain words or phrasing can make a difference to encourage a prospect to open your email.
- Change the time you send out your emails. Most marketers agree that Mondays and Fridays are the worst days in the week send out emails. Avoid holiday or festive periods as well.
- Relook at the email text and content as well. Are you sending attachments that are too big? Is the email too long or not formatted for easy reading? Is your call to action clear enough?