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Integrated Direct Marketing programs...
can help you build market share - even in this economy.

It is surprising how even well established companies are overlooked or become invisible to buyers in the marketplace overtime. Purchasing managers, for one reason or another actually loose sight of your company. One of the main reasons is personnel turnover. New buyers that are not as knowledgeable as they should be about the marketplace may not be familiar with your company. Some purchasing managers forget you because they have been doing business with your competition for so long. You become truly invisible. Then there is the unwillingness of buyers to make an effort to change. Some are just plain asleep at the switch. All these factors can contribute to a loss of market share and stagnant sales.

Changes taking place in today’s shrinking economy can create tremendous opportunities for your company. Under the pressure of slumping sales, many companies review and reconsider their previous buying choices. The pressure of decreasing revenues can stimulate a lot of attention on budgets and the way buyers spend their company’s revenues. Some companies may find that one or more of their suppliers has become unreliable or are in financial trouble and unable to meet their needs. There are many possible reasons why companies change vendors -- and now is a good time to refocus your marketing efforts to become visible to potential prospects.

Integrated direct marketing techniques and programs can be a cost-effective way to develop new customers. Using a combination of inexpensive promotional activities, you can increase your visibility and open new doors. Techniques like “response compression” can communicate the benefits of your company’s products and services to targeted prospects more effectively and help you attain the threshold of recognition necessary to generate plus business.

If you haven’t read Ernan Roman’s book Integrated Direct Marketing – Techniques and Strategies for Success published by McGraw Hill, I suggest you obtain a copy. Roman, as part of the Citicorp marketing team of the 1980’s (probably the best marketing assembly of that time) developed hard data to demonstrate the power of integrated direct marketing which he explains in his book. While president of the New York based Ernan Roman Direct Marketing Corporation, Roman developed integrated marketing programs for clients such as AT&T, IBM, Avis, Johnson & Johnson and Xerox to name a few.

These techniques not only work for larger companies but can be very successful for smaller firms in virtually any industry. A telesales program, undertaken by your support staff (not your sales force) can be a very productive and effective way to contact new prospects. It can also help to clean your existing customer list and gather new leads. An accurate and expanded database of customers and leads provides you a platform to launch low cost direct mailings that get results. A telesales program also provides an opportunity to gather strategic market information that can help guide your efforts.

For example, Clifford Marketing developed a telemarketing program for a client in the communications equipment business. They had an excellent reputation and did fine work. We set up a database program called ACT. We tested and purchased a prospect list, developed a script for calling, and hired and trained a telemarketer. Several weeks into our efforts, the owner asked me to come into his office. I was there for my weekly review and to work on building the promotional plan. The owner explained to me that the telemarketer had called a prospect. The prospect had a problem. They had been waiting several weeks for some equipment that they needed badly. Their vendor (one of our prime competitors) had told them that the manufacturer of the equipment was out of stock and that heir equipment was back ordered. My client had several of the units that the prospect was looking for and we made the sale. My client called the manufacturer to be sure we got on the list to buy additional stock and discovered that they weren’t out of stock at all. Our competitor was on credit hold with the manufacturer and wasn’t telling the customer. My client then said something very interesting to me, he said, “you know Herb every time I come up against this competitor on a bid I usually win the job. In fact, I have gotten other customers of his over the years which I have become friendly with who later told me they never liked doing business with this company because they could never get a straight answer but they weren’t sure who else to call. I then said to my client, “well we have been collecting a lot of competitive information when calling prospects. We have asked, what kind of equipment they have been using and who their present vendor was. Many of the prospects gave us that information because of the professional way our script was delivered. I suggested to my client that we do a database search. I sorted the database for prospects and found that 14 of them used this particular competitor. We divided the list among the sales force and called them. We discovered that several of them were waiting for equipment which we had in stock. Within 2 weeks we had five new customers beside the original sale.  

With the information we gathered over time, we were able to do low cost mailings directly to the key decision-makers and buyers of our type of products and services. We learned who our major competitors were and how the buying cycle worked for different industries. Motorola, one of our primary suppliers was so excited about our program that they supplied an abundance of materials and support completely free.

Companies don’t stop buying products and services even in a down economy, but they look more closely at who they are buying from. As Michael Dell of Dell Computer has said, this is a great time to build market share and position your company for significant growth.


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