It was back in 2009 (blimey almost 7 years ago now) when I blogged about right person, right message and right time.
The post largely focused on direct mail – and the fact that many of our clients were challenged by the fact that they were getting low response rates to their one hit wonder marketing attempts.
Of course, in the past 7 years – everything has changed and yet nothing has changed. The sentiment in the blog post I wrote almost 7 years ago remains the same – it’s just that tools, channels and technologies enable us even more with our endeavours to get the right message to the right person at the right time.
However, whilst the tactics haven’t changed, the playing field has. There’s now more content delivered to consumers daily than ever before.
As Eric Schmidt famously said in 2010 ‘Every 2 days we create as much content as we did up to 2003!‘
With an abundance of content around – and technology at our 24/7 fingertips making whatever we need accessible to us – then there’s real skill required to get into the hearts and minds of your audience.
However, the practical tactics I talked about in 2009 remain:
1) A clear understanding of the purpose of the mailing (what need is it fulfilling).
2) Accurate and relevant targeting (the benefits may be great but if they’re not relevant to your audience – you’ve missed the point).
3) A way to compel and involve the reader to take action and respond.
So let’s take a look at the winning combination: Right message, right person and the right time.
Targeting is the first step in any campaign. Question your logic: who are you trying to attract? Who do you want to reach? Targeting is easier these days, but you still have to have systems in place to learn as much as possible. You need to have some knowledge of your audience, in order to be able to target effectively.
A great start to targeting is utilising existing customer information, their user behaviours, the journey they’ve taken to reach you and where possible, ask questions during your purchase processes where relevant to find out more about them. Such information should enable you to identify with them – understand what motivates them. The more you have the more you are able to profile them into segments that focus on them as real people rather than ‘batches of behaviour’. The more your know, the closer you can get, the more personalised you can be – the more authentic the relationship you can build.
There are many tactics and ideas for making your communications ‘stand out’. And indeed some businesses spend enormous amounts of money on gimmicks, creative and incentives both online and offline.
It’s worth remembering that what customers (aka people) are really looking for is relevance – they are far more likely to respond to a mailing which has an offer they are interested in, than to one which has a great design or gimmick, but is of no relevance to them.
Indeed, it’s easy to get carried away with the ‘attention grabbing gimmicks’ – this is the fun stuff. And whilst the ‘whacky’ designs may catch attention – what all communication experts agree on is the importance of ‘relevance of message’. In a time strapped world, if you’re going to ‘show up’ and be useful, then you need to be as relevant as possible.
Experts agree that the creation of the ‘message’ needs research and planning.
The focus of the message is to win attention and encourage your readers to take action. Some key tips to consider when crafting your message:
- Be yourself – personalise communications as much as you can and demonstrate a sound knowledge of your audience’s business dynamics (if relevant) and a clear understanding of the obstacles they face. If the reader believes you have empathy with their situation – they are far more likely to engage with your message.
- Don’t talk too much about yourself – readers are interested in what you can do for them – not what you do. Focus on the opportunities your products and services present for them. A good mantra is to uncover the ‘benefits of the benefits’. If you’re too ‘feature’ focused – you’re missing the critical element of what’s in it for them.
- Use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ as much as possible and minimise the ‘we’s’. This will warm up your messaging considerably.
- If there is an offer in your message – then be direct about it – and get the value proposition or the offer in early on in the communication. If you can save them £500 immediately (and if that’s a relevant message to them) – then tell them this in the headline. And of course, repeat the offer again at other points – don’t let them miss the opportunity.
- Make it easy for people to buy/engage/take action. So often I read communications where I’m thinking – ‘what do they want me to do’. Be sure you have clear instruction of how to take action.
- Be sure to keep any response mechanisms (in order for people to engage and take action) as simple as possible and where relevant provide a few response options. Don’t stipulate that orders must be done ‘online’ – as that may present an obstruction to buy.
A key aspect to all effective communication is ‘timing’. It’s very difficult to know exactly when your target customer is ‘ready to buy / engage or take action’. Of course, there may be some seasonal opportunities which determine an opportune time – and so consider this when planning. But remind yourself, that it still doesn’t provide any guarantees.
Timing is exactly why ‘one hit wonders’ are extremely rare – if evident at all. More often than not – deciding when to communicate, email, target – is more of a case of what you can internally manage and resource.
And that’s fine – provided that you don’t plan on doing communications or campaigns in ‘isolation’. By this I mean – that you do not attempt to attain the elusive ‘one hit wonder’ – but instead plan an integrated marketing campaign of which direct messaging is one component.
Regular communication is the only solution to the ‘right time’ problem. Even with sophisticated consumer behaviourial profiling, knowing just ‘when’ a customer is ready to buy – requires skills beyond the realms of our 5 senses. Of course, marketing automation helps us to keep moving those interested in what we’ve shared forward – but again, be sure all communications are as ‘human’ and personable as possible. Often – automated communications are obvious. I know I’m being marched through a funnel – albeit a sophisticated one. So make the experience as personable and personalised as possible.
Having continuous conversations with your audience is key as even if your offer is amazingly compelling – for many of the people you target, it may simply be a case that now is just not the right time for them. However, 6 months down the line – it may be the perfect time for them. And so – regular communication, providing genuine value with each message, allows you to build ‘share of mind’, loyalty, and eventually ‘hit the mark’.
Let’s think about it this way. Research in ‘sales activity’ tells us that the optimum number of times you need to ask the customer to buy in order to gain a positive result is 7. This tells us that regular communication is necessary to achieve the end objective.
So – right time, right person, right message, six simple words – yet a whole load of complexity in getting it right.
In a sea of sameness and overload of marketing messages, consumer offers and choice – making your marketing activity authentically personable and meaningful has never been more important. So taken on the challenge of complexity, commit to getting close to your audience so you genuinely understand their needs – and you’ve got a whole lot more chance of getting the right message, to the right person at the right time.
My message to you is that if you’re not investing time in learning – then you’re just ‘churning’. And my guess is, that’s not proving to be very effective.
Michelle Carvill, best selling business author, speaker, founder and Director at Carvill - the social media marketing agency. For information about how the team at Carvill can help you - simply get in touch or visit our website for more information.