A highlight of my recent trip to Paris was stumbling across an amazing shop selling a stunning array of traditional kitchen ware. It looked like a museum piece; jammed full of every conceivable item from copper pots to pastry cutters. The stock levels were immense, the pricing system idiosyncratic, the staff plentiful and the trade brisk. But I found myself wondering how successful the business was.
Granted, the shop was aimed at the serious chef and restaurateur, yet they tolerated our presence good-naturedly despite the fact that we were obviously tourists. Have they just cleverly found their niche in a city that puts so much emphasis on good food and eating? Or are they simply living in the past?
On my return home I googled ‘Restaurant suppliers in Paris’ and up popped: E.Dehillerin Le specialiste du materiel de cuisine; I recognised the shop in an instant. OK, so their website could be better and the on-line ordering is a little basic, but somehow the business has survived from 1820 – 2012. Not bad going.
I wonder if E. Dehillerin have a social media strategy or are planning on launching an app any day soon? Probably not. Yet they do seem to have an enviable reputation amongst their target market and I found plenty of enthusiastic blog posts about them. They have clearly found their niche and are obviously supplying the right product range and service to keep generations of restauranteurs returning.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m happy to see that applying the basic foundations of marketing – knowing your customer, supplying the right product and providing good customer service – can still sustain a business in our high-tech world. Yes of course marketing methods have changed over the years, and will continue to do so at a rapid pace, yet the fundamental principles are still relevant.
It was with some relief that I opened the sixth, and final, direct mail piece from a certain Scandinavian book printing company today. You may be wondering why I have received no less than half a dozen different mailing packs from a seemingly unrelated business over the last two months – I certainly am!
I can at least take an educated guess. Though I have never had the need for a book printer, I did publish a magazine (until I sold the business some 6 months ago). My details have obviously been captured and ‘plonked’ into the generic category of ‘publishing’ and the data sold on to some poor unsuspecting marketer hoping for a list of relevant prospects!
Here are some of the questions you should ask before agreeing to rent or buy, what looks like, a relevant database?
- Where has the data come from and how is it kept up to date? Has the data originated from a legitimate source, has it been verified and on what basis is it kept up to date?
- Can you buy the relevant portion of the data and how can it be segmented? If you are looking to target businesses in a particular sector can they be easily identified?
- What level of detail does the database contain? It is essential that you have a named contact and you may also want a ‘phone number and email address.
- On what basis can you use the data? You can rent lists for one-off use or multiple use or you can buy the data outright. Be clear about what you need and what you are getting.
- How will the data be sent to you? The format in which you will receive the data is particularly important if you are using an outsourced mailing house. Make sure it is compatible.
There are lots of good databases out there – by asking the right questions you can make sure you choose the one that will work for you.
I had a ‘phone call today. The caller simply made me a, very kind, offer of 90 litres of spring water and 100 cups delivered to my door… absolutely free. I hesitated before giving a polite ‘no thank you’, not because it wasn’t a compelling offer, but because it was totally inappropriate.
I had visions of trying to cram an enormous bottle of water into my, already pretty ‘spatially challenged’ home office. I mused at the idea of chatting (to myself) around my new water cooler. I wondered how long it would take me to use up 100 cups. And still my answer was no.
I should never have received that call. Surely given a couple of simple facts about me and my business someone could have worked out that I probably wasn’t in the target market? And even if I had slipped through that particular net, shouldn’t the caller have qualified who I was? Even the… ‘can I speak to the person responsible for purchasing 90 litres of spring water and 100 cups please’ … introduction would have been better than nothing.
Granted it’s not always easy to identify and reach your market. But it’s certainly worth a try. Identify your target audience as precisely as possible, talk to them in their language, make them an appropriate and compelling offer and, you never know, they might just say yes.
A small business client passed me a piece of direct mail they had received a couple of days ago. A good quality piece, strong message, clear call to action. So what made it so utterly fruitless as a marketing communication?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of direct mail – I’ve seen it rise and fall in popularity over the years and have always maintained that the label ‘junk mail’ is not altogether fair (though I admit that in far too many cases it is perfectly justified). It’s not enough though to have a well designed mailing piece, as with any marketing communication, it needs hit the right audience – your target market. Those potential customers that need or want your product.
So why send a nicely crafted mailing piece about commercial waste services to a small service business which is likely to have no more ‘commercial waste’ than a few bent paperclips?
Direct mail can work as part of a well thought through business to business marketing campaign but will only be effective if all the elements are right. Defining and understanding you target audience in detail is fundamental to developing any good marketing communication and is well worth taking the time to analyse and articulate as part of your marketing plan.