The risks of poorly chosen content and audience

On November 15, 2016

A direct marketing campaign is made up of many pieces, and you need to get each of them right to make it work. Making sure you reach the right target audience is critical, and it's equally important that your promotional material is well thought out and appropriate for that audience.

Identify the right audience

Make sure your target audience matches not only your business, but this particular campaign as well.

Whatever you're trying to sell, if the people who receive your mailer aren't in the market for it then it isn't going to help your sales. CRMTrends recommends identifying your target audience as accurately as possible as part of direct marketing best practices. It also cites not knowing your target audience as a key mistake in both B2B and B2C direct marketing. A misguided campaign fails to target the right audience or address their particular needs and wants.

American marketers PsPrint give the example of Father's Day. A common mistake businesses make for Father's Day campaigns is aiming their material at fathers. While this seems logical enough, the people who actually buy things for Father's Day generally aren't the fathers themselves – a much better target audience is partners and older children.

You need to make sure that your target audience matches not only with your business in general, but with this campaign in particular. Even if you have a large customer base over the age of 50, trying to sell them a product bought predominantly by under-twenties isn't going to work. This is where the strength of a good mailing list becomes clear: Matching your campaign to an audience of like-minded potential customers is made so much easier when you can simply access a list that's already been assembled and curated for you.

Identify your target audience to make sure you're talking to the right people.
Identify your target audience to make sure you're talking to the right people.

Get the tone right

Even when you've nailed down the ideal target audience and the right product to push towards them, there's still a question of your mailer's tone and style. A perfect example of where ill-thought-out content ruined a direct marketing campaign is the 1994 attempt to generate interest in the Fiat Cinquecento in Spain.

Fiat mailed out personally addressed love letters to 50,000 Spanish women, written in the voice of an anonymous romantic interest (who would later be revealed to be the new Fiat, inviting them for a test drive). However, the women who received the letters didn't read it as a romantic invitation – instead they thought they were being threatened by a creepy stalker. The Independent reported that Fiat dropped the campaign and were eventually taken to court and fined for the blunder.

While this is an example of marketing material being designed specifically for the mailing list audience, and perhaps a good marriage of target audience and mailing list, the backlash and legal action show how misguided Fiat were with their tone and delivery. They may have targeted the female audience they wanted, but they hadn't done it in a way that would win that audience over – in fact the end result was quite the opposite.

Your tone should invite potential customers - not scare them off.
Your tone should invite potential customers – not scare them off.

The benefit of using a mailing list from The Prospect Shop

A successful direct marketing campaign needs to click at every step of the process. Making sure your promotional material is well written and appropriate to the audience and message is an important way to avoid failure. So too is ensuring you target the right demographic. This is where The Prospect Shop can help you out. We supply a huge range of mailing lists that cover whatever audience you need to reach, and we can advise you on the ones that will best suit your campaign.

Whether or not you write love letters to your potential customers is up to you, but if you think that's what you need, we can at least make sure they get to the right people

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