Direct marketing is used by organisations to communicate intermediary-free with their target audiences.
Communication channels can include mail, telemarketing, mobile/SMS messaging and email.
Why is direct marketing relevant to law firms?
The benefits of direct marketing are:
- Maintaining contact and dialogue with existing clients. This is particularly useful between instructions when you would otherwise not be in contact.
- Generating responses when promoting a specific legal service.
- Appealing to an individual recipient via customised communications. Target audiences can be segmented or categorised, either by buying in a database list or by using an organisation’s own database of contacts. Communications can be personalised to appeal to the recipient for maximum relevance and impact.
- Target interested audiences. Individuals who have subscribed to your mailing list are by definition, interested in your services.
- Keep testing to see which approaches elicit the best responses.
- Activity is less visible to competitors given they are not recipients of it.
- Impact is measurable.
- High level of control means communications can be sent out either according to a pre-defined schedule or without notice if the need arises.
Using direct marketing as a marketing tactic
Target markets and prospects
The impact of a direct marketing programme will depend on the quality of your mailing list. The challenge is to identify relevant characteristics of your organisation’s target audience. Remember that in business to business (B2B) direct marketing the target is often not an individual but a group of people or a committee that may include decision makers and multiple decision influencers.
Hints and tips
If you are promoting a specialist redundancy advisory service for employers, you could segment your target list by the following job titles/positions: HR directors, HR managers, finance directors, managing directors and office managers, all depending on the size of organisation. Segmentation could also be based on size of organisation, location of head and satellite offices, and their market sector.
Companies such as Dun & Bradstreet offer sophisticated information services providing a wealth of this sort of data.
Once the target market is defined, you need to source specific names. The best prospects are clients who have bought services from you before in the past. Additional names can be obtained by advertising a free offer, such as a whitepaper for free download. You can also buy in lists from list brokers. Be wary however, these lists can often have problems, such as duplication of fields, incomplete data, and obsolete addresses. It is sensible to buy and test a sample before buying more names from the same list.
The next step is to decide which form of direct marketing to take. Within the legal services market, the two most popular forms of direct marketing are direct mail and telemarketing.
Direct mail marketing involves sending a communication to a person or business that details an offer, announcement or reminder. This could take the form of letters, flyers, brochures, audiotapes, CDs or USB pens.
Direct mail is popular because it is targeted and flexible. Content can be personalised, and response measurement is easy. Direct mail is usually in a paper-based form.
Why use direct mail?
Most law firms use direct mail to generate an enquiry or lead from a target. The response rate is used to measure impact. If two per cent of mailing results in a lead then that is normally considered good, although this varies with price and the legal service lines offered.
Direct mail can achieve other communication objectives as well, such as strengthening client relationships, informing and educating clients about legal services, reminding clients of changes in the law, and reinforcing recent client purchase decisions.
Writing your direct mail piece
Second only in importance to the quality of the mailing list is the content of the direct mail. A tried and tested approach is AIDA:
- Attention – win the target’s attention with a bold but valid statement or brief story
- Interest – raise interest by focusing on the advantages and benefits of the service you are promoting
- Desire – convince the target that they need the service to satisfy their need
- Action – lead the target to taking appropriate action such as making a purchase
If you know what your clients want, use this insight to get their attention. Think about the benefits your legal services can provide and dramatise them. You could open the piece with a brief inspiring story about how your organisation has helped a client, or how the specific benefits your service apply to the client.. Ensure this element is credible and in some way familiar and relevant. The recipient needs to associate or connect with it in order to move on to the next stage.
If you have the reader’s attention then you must hold it with important, relevant details about what you are selling. Write in plain English and avoid jargon.
Now move on to the desire element, which means convincing the recipient that your service offering is the answer to their need. Help the target imagine what it would be like for them to use your service.
Close the piece with a clear call to action. That should guide the recipient to call, and/or visit a webpage and/or your office.
The role of the database
Your organisation’s database is an essential tool in direct marketing. The data relating to clients and target clients should be sufficiently detailed and current to allow your organisation to identify appropriate segments and target markets, and to record activities such as responses to communications from the organisation.
A database therefore plays various roles: it is a storage, sorting and administrative device to assist direct and personalised communications.
Telephone marketing or telemarketing uses the telephone to sell directly to prospective and existing clients, to receive enquiries and answer questions, and to provide client services.
Law firms use outbound telemarketing (initiating calls to prospects and customers) to:
- generate appointments
- generate and qualify sales leads
- sell directly to clients
- research, test and collate data
- follow-up a previous contact
They use inbound telemarketing (receiving calls from clients) to:
- receive enquiries from advertisements (eg radio, television and print ads) or direct mail
- receive client enquiries and complaints
To achieve successful telemarketing it is essential to integrate it into the broader marketing strategy.
Position telemarketing strategically to ensure that when you call prospects or clients, they are ‘warm’ and receptive to the messages you are providing – if they have seen an advertisement or press article or some direct marketing material that supports the telemarketing messages then they will be far more likely to both understand the reason for the call and respond favourably to the request for an appointment.
Hints and tips
For effective telemarketing, position it within other marketing tactics. For example:
- Design and develop sales brochure
- Issue press release
- Send out direct marketing materials
- Telemarketing to drive appointments
- Follow up direct marketing as appropriate
- Secure business
- After sales support and testimonial stories for website, press release and sales materials
Setting telemarketing objectives
Timing is crucial for telemarketing. Most organisations in almost every market sector see seasonal variations in business enquiry patterns. Plan telemarketing in advance to boost those peaks and perhaps to also fill the troughs when business is hard to come by and telemarketing will become an integral and cost effective part of the growth of your organisation.
If you can include telemarketing to support the generation of business appointments around or just before the key buying times for your legal services to ensure that your business pipeline is full at those important times.
Setting achievable telemarketing objectives that can demonstrate a true return on your investment is important to retain focus for everyone involved in the process.
Work backwards from the number of sales you need to achieve:
- Our plan requires us to achieve business value = £ ‘a’
- This is achieved (on average) by business volume = ‘b’ sales
- We achieve new business (on average) every ‘c’ appointments
- We can create 1 appointment every 30 telemarketing calls
- 60 telemarketing calls can be made every day
- We have ‘d’ number of people to call in our database
- This equates to ‘e’ number of days of calling
- At £ ‘f’ per day our telemarketing will therefore cost us £ ‘g’
- Our return on our investment is therefore £ ‘a’ – ‘g’ = £ X
This doesn’t include other elements in the cost of sale, such as marketing materials and sales personnel or account management time, but is an example of how you can set objectives for your telemarketing at the outset that genuinely feed into your sales value targets.
In-house or agency?
It is often worth considering using a professional telemarketing company and especially one that is willing and able to get into the heart of your organisation and really understand the strategic objectives and style of how you work.
Writing a strong brief will help such an agency to get things right first time, so work through this step by step guide to make sure you have everything covered.
Your selected agency should challenge you about the strength of your marketing messages and work with you to ensure they are as strong as they can be. They will also write a clear and succinct ‘script’ that will help the callers to deliver these messages and secure a high proportion of appointments. Make sure you are fully comfortable with the script before the agency starts to make the calls.
Whether you decide to run your telemarketing in-house or use an agency, make sure you set clear and measurable objectives at the outset and have regular reviews and updates. Most importantly, make sure you tell everyone in your organisation what’s happening so that any enquiries that come in are effectively and professionally handled, by whomever receives the call.
A standard call process
Telemarketers should use their first name to introduce themselves. The call opening should contain the following information briefly but clearly:
- Who is calling
- Where they are calling from or on whose behalf they are calling
- The reason for the call
- The caller should ask, “Is this a convenient time to speak?”, perhaps adding that the call will take just X minutes and be sure it takes no longer
Structure of call
The telemarketer should have a clear structure for the call that is designed to draw the customer into a dialogue quickly. Once a customer is talking they become ‘involved’ in the call and the call becomes less likely to abort.
The structure of the call should aim to establish early on whether there is a ‘need’ or ‘relevance’ for the particular product or service as far as that particular customer is involved. In other words, is there a propensity to convert that call to a sale, and is it relevant for that call to continue? Typically this would involve some kind of question technique e.g. “We’d be keen to know if you currently subscribe to X?”
A good call structure will usually resemble the following blueprint:
- Establishing a ‘need’ or ‘desire’ which the caller aims to meet with the particular product or service
- Explaining in greater depth how something meets their needs
- Dealing with any questions or resistance without pushing or embellishment
- Discussing any additional up-sell or cross-sell opportunities if appropriate
- Closing the call with the suitable conclusion – Summarising
It’s key to remember at stage b. of this process that if a need or desire is not apparent, the call must be concluded professionally and politely respecting that where no ‘market-share’ as such is generated with these calls, good customer experience (i.e. ‘mind share’) will eventually lead to more customers and therefore market share long term.
- Direct marketing is used by organisations to communicate intermediary-free with their target audiences.
- The most common offline channels are mail and telemarketing,
- The impact of a direct marketing programme will depend on the quality of your contact list. The challenge is to identify relevant characteristics of your organisation’s target audience.