Leveraging New Technology to Cut Costs in 2002
Prepare a Strategic Marketing and Technology Plan Geared to Improve
Operations and Increase Revenue
By Aeron Stedmann
Managing Director, SONUSS Communication Systems
While many companies reorganized, downsized, and closed their doors in the last quarter
of 2001, others are investing in innovative marketing and database technology combined
with strategic technology-planning to ensure survival and maximize revenues. To stay
ahead of the competition, you need to analyze whether your marketing strategies and
technology solutions help your company achieve its goals in three main areas: customer
acquisition, customer retention, and market niches for your products and services.
In your analysis, evaluate the benefits of multiple direct-marketing channels: Using email
and/or telemarketing to alert customers that mail or catalogs are coming may offset
potential drops in direct-mail response rates due to security concerns, economic
slowdowns, or major distractions from current events. The following guidelines will help
you strategize more efficient, less expensive solutions to acquire and retain customers
and increase market share.
Get Ready for the Big Game:
Think of the marketing process as if you’re a football coach preparing for the
championship game against the cross-town rival, especially in today’s increasingly
competitive marketplace. To go up against the competition, you need to prepare by
having a thorough strategy and all your key resources available and fully operational. Part
of your pre-game preparation involves scouting out your competition and analyzing your
strengths and weaknesses in comparison. Organize your strategy to align with your
resources, and create individual goals for each player or department in your organization:
sales, marketing, administration, processing units, technology, and recruiting.
Prepare for the Two-Minute Drill:
Begin building your marketing plan by organizing it into fundamental elements that you
can analyze quickly, just as a championship team does in a two-minute, game-winning
drive. Assess your company’s current marketing successes and flaws, then leverage the
strengths and weaknesses in your company's products or strategies to ensure a better
functioning team with the ability to instantly adjust staffing or technology resources.
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Ask the Right Questions:
In any business you need answers to these questions: How many sales do you have to
close to reach your goal? How many leads do you want to generate per day to generate
that many closings? How much marketing, and what kind, do you require to generate that
many leads? What percentage of your business is now coming from referrals? If you want
to work with high net-worth customers and you are not getting them from referrals, then
it’s time to find new ways to get the clients you want. What external resources are
available in your area? Perhaps you have a Web solution you can utilize to create links to
and from high-volume sites in your community, or sites offered by other professionals or
organizations in your industry.
Evaluate Human Resources:
Take an inventory of your current staff and see how they fit together. Where are the gaps
in your current marketing plan that you’d like to fill in? Where will you locate staff in
order to make your marketing plan a reality? Do you have a database of contacts to
recruit from? Determine how you’ll develop your recruiting strategy for 2002 to account
for staff turnover and to pull in top producers.
Your Technology Game Plan:
The next step in developing a comprehensive marketing plan is determining the
technology that enables you to be efficient in today's market. Take a look at these areas:
- What software and hardware technology is available to streamline your business and
increase your leads?
- What types of new information and e-commerce technology will help your business
- How can you automate your lead-generation process and maintain customer retention
efforts to bring back customers?
Multimedia Direct Marketing Solutions:
Consider that an easier way to combine all of your outbound marketing strategies is to
migrate towards an e-commerce solution. This seems to be the major trend in 2002 as we
move toward Web-based models which not only cut hardware and software maintenance
costs, but allow for more universal access and improve communication among users with
online account-based systems.
The key with integrated technology solutions for voice, email, fax, and direct mail
campaigns is the artificial intelligence behind the scenes which makes rule-based
marketing less labor-intensive and complex than traditional marketing. Campaigns that
might have taken a team of marketing and database specialists several weeks to
implement, can now be set up in a few hours by one person, thereby reducing not only
technology costs but also staffing expenses at the same time.
Multimedia marketing technology allows you to send any number of voice, email, fax, or
direct mail messages to a designated contact group. With the flexibility to include
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customized and personalized information such as special events, customer-related
information, or even weekly tips on topics of interest multimedia marketing is the
most effective communication and marketing channel available. Once you identify a
consumer’s behavioral pattern and level of interest in certain sets of products, you can
easily customize your marketing campaigns through specific niche marketing. This could
include an announcement of a new service or an offer on a product discount.
Direct marketers can now plan and execute a complete marketing campaign with these
Web-based solutions: SONUSS Global Connection enables you to schedule and execute
a personalized voice message broadcast to customers or prospects, then you can follow
up with a custom-designed direct mail piece delivered through Zairmail Express Direct,
or vice versa. Response rates will increase tremendously with an attractive return on
investment and instant, real-time results available for analysis.
SONUSS Global Connection (www.sonuss.com) will broadcast your voice message to
thousands of people within minutes, whether it's an invitation for customers and
prospects to a seminar, or an informative note or special offer to potential clients. The
SONUSS Web-based system, accessible from any desktop or laptop, enables executives
and managers to initiate personalized one-on-one communications among clients,
employees, or prospects. With only one phone call to record the message and an easy
scheduling of the broadcasting date(s) and time(s) online, everything is ready to go and
only a click away.
SONUSS' rule-based voice mail broadcasting solution will automatically search out the
answering machines and voice mails of your prospect database nationwide or in a
selected geographical area, and leave a consistent sales message from your company. All
voice broadcasting messages are sent automatically during the day on weekdays when
most of your prospects will not be at home and will terminate automatically upon live
answers. Calling times are restricted by direct marketing laws (see The Direct Marketing
Association) and depend on whether you are calling upon businesses or consumers.
Using professional broadcasters and proven scripts, a clear and concise message from
your company will be developed for you at no cost. Alternatively, you can have a
member of your staff - or even more powerful - your CEO record the digital message
using your own scripts. Because the voice broadcasting message is a digital recording
(unlike predictive dialing) you will create the perception in each call that a member of
your staff personally called each prospect with your sales message. With voice
broadcasting, you’ll harness telemarketing's effectiveness, eliminate its resistance, and
minimize its cost: There is typically no setup or equipment cost when using voice
broadcasting, compared to predictive dialers with an upfront and fixed cost of several
One industry leader in the mortgage lead-generation and customer acquisition business,
Flagship Capital Services, has been producing up to an 8% response with targeted voice
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marketing to generate low-cost, pre-qualified mortgage leads at one of the lowest costs
per contact in the industry.
On-Demand Direct Mail:
Combining direct mail with voice broadcasting is one of the most effective ways of
promoting a business to customers and prospects, and online services can offer the
quickest and most cost-effective means to take direct mail from proof to postal service in
a matter of hours.
Through its Web site (www.zairmail.com), Zairmail offers fast and convenient solutions
for conducting direct mail campaigns and electronic-to-postal mail correspondence:
Zairmail Express Direct™ is the direct mail service built on Zairmail's proprietary
software architecture and distributed network of high-volume regional printing and
mailing facilities. The end result is a solution that allows business users to quickly and
easily launch direct mail programs right from their desktop for delivery in one to two
business days. With a turnaround time of days, not weeks as is typical with the average
direct mail program, companies can target customers and close deals faster than with
traditional direct mail processes.
An online direct mail service saves time and expense because it doesn’t require the
expertise and lead time of traditional mailings for designing the document and sending it
to a commercial printer. Zairmail provides templates on their Web site that allow you to
use Microsoft Word to generate custom, professional-looking postcards, letters, and fliers
that are ready to upload and mail. The cost savings mean using an online direct mail
service can be particularly cost-effective for short and medium print runs. Another
benefit for businesses without mailing lists is that it’s possible to try different attributes
and preview your results before downloading the address lists you need from Zairmail’s
Simplify and Integrate Your Technology
Whether your company is Fortune 500 or a small business, Web-based solutions such as
voice broadcasting and on-demand direct mail provide an easier and more cost-effective
method for automating marketing campaigns in today’s industry. Your staff will spend
less time on administrative tasks and more time on marketing; even single-person
concerns can act like a fully staffed business. As technology continues to advance we will
see more integrated solutions that provide easier ways for companies to acquire and
retain customers and increase market share.
About the Author
Aeron Stedmann, SONUSS Managing Director, is a nationally known speaker and author
on database marketing technology who was named 2001 Author of the Year by National
Mortgage Broker Magazine. Aeron can be reached at 707-942-1469 or by e-mail at
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[[SIDEBAR TO MAIN ARTICLE:]]
The DMA's Suggestions for Direct Mail Marketing
(Originally released by The DMA on October 15, 2001)
To help maintain consumer confidence in the security of the mails, The Direct Marketing
Association (DMA) encourages all member firms and organizations to consider
following these guidelines for direct mailing in the current climate.
1. Avoid using plain envelopes. Printed envelopes, especially those using color
are less likely to appear like the hand-prepared envelopes involved in the
incidents so far.
2. Use a clear and identifiable return address. Consider including your company
logo in the address.
3. Consider including a toll-free phone number and/or URL address on envelopes.
4. Utilize an e-mail and/or telemarketing campaign in conjunction with a letter
drop to notify consumers that mail will be coming.
5. Utilize the DMA Member logo to demonstrate your company’s credibility.
6. Contact your lettershop and other production services to stress the importance
7. Consider performing a security audit throughout your operation.
8. Evaluate your campaign approach and consider that personalization is
temporarily less likely to increase response rates.
9. If you are involved in production services, know who your customers are.
10. Reinforce your existing internal guidelines about forwarding press and
consumer calls to appropriate internal channels.
11. Educate mailroom employees about identifying and dealing with possible
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