With lockdown coming to an end, and the business world slowly returning to ‘some version of normality’, what happens now?
With lockdown coming to an end, and the business world slowly returning to ‘some version of normality’, what happens now? This feature attempts to predict the future and what may have changed as you search for new customers, improved sales, while making sense of the ever-changing data rules and guidelines.
Customers and clients
All companies, whether they have continued to trade during the pandemic or not, will be hoping that business returns to pre-Covid levels. Yet all businesses are different and will face unique challenges when operations resume. In the end, most will need to re-energise their sales quickly. However, they may soon discover that customers have changed their habits and priorities. Some former clients may have found new ways to solve their issues, and may even have re-designed their business models.
Not all existing customers will operate as they did previously. Some may not need the same goods or services as before, or may need them presented differently. And despite Government help and guidance, some businesses will not survive anyway. No one knows how long it will take for trade to return to normal, if it does at all. One thing is pretty certain, and that’s businesses will need to find new customers.
Time is short
Almost every company constantly augments existing sales with new business. That’s a fact. But, on this occasion, there is a very real time pressure. Government support schemes will gradually be removed, over the coming months, so sales growth will need to keep pace, otherwise there will be a serious reduction in income.
Finding new business is therefore the key. Many companies will fall back on using tried and tested techniques. These will include advertising, online campaigns, and word-of-mouth promotions, as businesses attempt to generate revenue from existing customers. But there is a weakness: It is impossible to predict when sales will actually take place. This is beyond the control of all companies.
Sales when you need them
Direct marketing, sometimes viewed as ‘old-school’, can often be used to generate sales on demand. By emailing, phoning or posting your promotional message – at a volume you desire – it helps to influence the volume of enquiries and sales you receive. Direct marketing isn’t a panacea, but remains a useful tool. Realistically, businesses should include a number of techniques within their ‘marketing mix’.
Direct marketing is relatively easy to implement. Organisations use this method to describe the features and benefits of their products and services. Many use existing customer data, but there are other ways to identify suitable targets, such as hiring the expertise of a professional data company.
By using this method, it’s relatively quick and easy to get results. You can use these data companies to help refine your target or modify volumes, and it helps the business to retain control. Direct marketing maybe a powerful tool, but must also be used respectfully in order to protect the rights and freedoms of the recipients.
Marketing and data protection
Data protection is an important consideration, yet complying with the law is not difficult. It merely requires some planning and an ethical approach. Laws are enforced by the Information Commissioner and its website ico.org.uk includes useful information about data protection, and how best to comply with the rules. Other companies and organisations can also help. For example, the Data and Marketing Association, dma.org.uk (formerly the Direct Marketing Association) offers plenty of material on this topic.
Professional data companies, such as Corpdata (corpdata.co.uk), offer specific information, free of charge, to help businesses comply with the law.
Direct marketing is a good medium for getting rapid feedback. If the phone doesn’t ring as often as you want, or the website doesn’t get enough hits, then your campaign may need tweaking. Most experienced direct marketers are constantly monitoring results and developing their message. It can be tempting to focus entirely on the message, but direct marketing is a combination of two factors: Quality of the message and quality of the data being used to deliver it.
Checking on data quality
Internal data sources, including customer lists, are often not actively maintained. This leads to reduction in accuracy of data, as well as a watering down in the relevance of the message. These concerns are likely to be exaggerated by the pandemic. From a compliance perspective, older data will typically be less likely to meet the legal requirements. Often it was not collected with the current rules in mind and this increases the chance of complaints being made against a company. If there are doubts about the data you possess, it is normally wise to clean and update it.
Assuming all the data used is compliant, then its ‘quality’ is best measured by the results it produces. By comparing the results of data sources, using the same marketing material, it is possible to develop a clear picture of which source of data and which targeting method works best.
Eventually, it is possible to understand response rates. This means direct marketing volumes can be adjusted to meet the requirements of the business. If you have any questions about data, data cleaning, compliance or direct marketing, please contact Corpdata whose data consultants are happy to talk with you and find a solution to meet your specific needs.
This article comes courtesy of Corpdata, the leading supplier of accurate and GDPR safe to use B2B marketing lists.