Direct Mail or Social Media: Which Marketing Channel Is Right For Your Small Business?

Imagine this scenario.

One of your salesmen comes into your office to give you his weekly sales update.

“It was a great week” he said. “I had conversations with 138 prospects.”

“Sounds good” you say. “How many of those prospects actually became customers?”

The salesman smiles nervously. “Well… none of them, but if they ever need our services, I’m sure they’ll choose us.”

As unlikely as that scenario sounds, it’s essentially what’s happening with many small businesses when they choose to discontinue their direct mail campaigns in favor of social media marketing.

However, it’s really not the small business owner’s fault.

Some self-proclaimed social media experts have led them to believe that they have to “put all their eggs” in this marketing basket or they’ll be eclipsed by their technologically advanced, media-savvy competitors.

And it’s just not true.

In 2007 many of these same experts predicted the decline of “interrupt marketing” which included broadcast commercials, print ads and direct mail.

They pointed to a growing number of consumers who were either purchasing products on line or seeking useful internet content to aid in their purchasing decisions.

We were told that these new consumers avoided all forms of interrupt marketing in favor of having “conversations” with their favorite companies and brands via social media.

In that same year direct mail accounted for over $58 billion in sales. So you would think that after almost eight years of social media, content marketing and the proliferation of smart phones that direct mail would be almost dead.

If that’s what you think then these facts may surprise you:

• 2013 annual sales in traditional off-line marketing, which includes direct mail, were $93 billion, while online marketing accounted for $62 billion. (Source: Experian)

• Direct mail is still the preferred channel for prospects who receive marketing from local businesses. (Source: Direct Marketing Association)

• The top three actions for people who received a direct mail piece included, 44% visiting the company’s website, 34% searching online and 26% who keep the direct mail piece for future reference. (Source: Direct Marketing Association)

Direct mail is different than social media marketing because most postcards or sales letters contain a specific call to action.

With direct mail you can ask them to buy something or at very least, visit your website, opt in to your newsletter or call to ask about your products and services.

Direct mail marketing also has the advantage of being measurable.

With the right metrics in place you’ll always know how many marketing pieces were sent, how many prospects responded and how many become customers.

Your company may see some return on their social media investment with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but since social media is more of a communication platform than a sales tool, it takes time.

By “time” I mean that it takes time for social media to work and it also takes time for the staff member you’ve chosen to complete the on-going task to update content and engage with prospects.

When it comes to social media many small businesses also start with a big disadvantage, because most of their prospects simply have no interest in following them on any social media platforms.

Which is why many of their “fans” are actually family, friends and fake followers. (And you wondered why more of your followers weren’t becoming customers ;>)

To engage on social media you also have to provide compelling content for your prospective customers. If you don’t have anyone on your staff with the skills to write content that people actually want to read, your followers will quickly tune you out.

If you have the time, energy and the skills necessary to create content for social media marketing, I would encourage your small business to do so.

However, if you want to do more than just communicate with your prospects in the hope that they’ll buy from you when they’re ready, don’t forget that old-fashioned marketing channel that can still make your cash register ring…

Direct mail marketing.

MLM Or Top Tier Direct Network Marketing? Part 4 of 4

Interested in MLM or Top Tier Direct Network Marketing and want to know about compensation plans?

Multilevel marketing varies depending on the company. For the most part, you receive commissions when you sell products. If you sign up a consultant, you receive residuals on everything they do if you’re in a good company.

The amount of the commissions is going to be the kicker. In MLM, you are probably selling skin care, vitamins, energy drinks, household items or maybe a discount furniture store membership. All of these are going to be pretty inexpensive for the end user so what do you think the commissions are going to be like?

Low Investment, Low Commissions

When investing in MLM, if you’re not putting a lot in, you can’t expect a lot in return. There are a few cases where people have made a killing in MLM, but these are a selected few that started near the beginning.

In Top Tier, as mentioned in part 3, it is a much greater start up cost. Fortunately that means you have great commissions. You also don’t have to have nearly as many transactions to make great money. Instead of selling 5 people a line of skin care, you would need a single modest sale to equate the commission of the skin care.

Once you sell to that one person, you receive residuals on everything they do. Their membership fees as well as their sales.

No Extreme Downline

You won’t have the extreme downline with Top Tier because first of all, the start up cost narrows down the target market. MLM is for anyone who may want to “give it a try”. Top Tier is for serious entrepreneurs. Unless someone has a tone of money to throw around, they are usually going to give it their best shot.

My background prior to MLM and Network Marketing was medical sales to the aesthetic market. When describing to my friends the difference, I tell them its like your skin care rep. versus your laser rep. The skin care rep is going to have far more transactions and doing a lot of “busy work”, while the laser rep does far fewer demonstrations and has very specific offices to call on. Not everyone has money for a laser, but most can find a way to buy skin care.

Direct Sales Tips – What is Direct Sales?

Direct sales is a method of selling a consumer product or a service, person-to-person and away from a fixed retail location. These consumer products are sold through in-home product demonstrations, “home parties” and one-on-one selling by salespeople. Such products or services are usually marketed to customers by independent salespeople or teams of salespeople. Depending on the sales company structure, the salespeople may be called consultants, distributors, representatives, or a number of other different titles. Direct selling can be a part time job or a full time business, depending on the needs and wants of the salesperson. Direct sales is one of the oldest sales methods still going strong today.

Industry representative, the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA), reported that its 59 regional member associations had accounted for over US$114 Billion in retail sales in 2007, through the activities of over 62 million independent sales representatives.

According to the WFDSA, consumers and customers benefit from direct selling and sales because of the high quality of service, convenience, delivery method, and the satisfaction guarantees provided. A major benefit to an individual that wants to begin a career in the independent direct selling business is the usually low startup costs. Most companies require little or no required inventory or other cash commitments to begin. If a company you are interested in joining does require high costs for inventory and startups, be very careful. These companies may actually be pyramid schemes, not direct selling or sales companies.

Research by the United States Direct Selling Association (DSA) reported that in the year 2000, 55% of adult Americans had at some time purchased items or services from a direct sales consultant and 20% reported that they were currently(6%) or had been in the past(14%) a direct sales consultant.

Direct selling is different from direct marketing because it is focused on individual sales agents contacting, networking, and dealing directly with clients and customers. Direct marketing is business organizations more focused on seeking a relationship with their customers without going through a salesperson or retail outlet.

Direct sales companies also usually offer a multi-level compensation plan that greatly benefits the individual consultants. Not only does the company pay commission to the salesperson for their own individual sales, but they will also pay bonuses on sales of other salespersons that were introduced and trained by that particular salesperson. Not only can someone make decent income by networking and selling the services or products, but by building and training a large successful team of individual consultants.

Direct selling can be the key to running your own business and being able to control your income. With a successful direct sales company and a well thought out plan of attack, Direct Selling can be your ticket to freedom from bosses, commutes, and time restraints.