Show & Tell: Effective Direct Communications Strategies for Marketers

Direct Communications

Direct communications pertains to any communications which occurs directly between a consumer and the company. Unlike advertising, there is no media channel separating the business from the consumer. Unlike publicity, it is not used to drive conversations customers have with each other. Unlike digital communications, direct communications does not need to occur through the use of technologies. Direct communications is thus any interaction that an employee, ambassador, or salesman has directly with an outside audience. A friendly lunchtime chat between your IT support and the janitor about your brand could be considered direct communications. A more official form could also include a conversation between a salesman and a purchaser.

Marketing Atom Framework Peng Tiong: Direct Communications

Topics typically associated with Direct Communications includes:

  • Email Marketing
  • Telephone Marketing
  • Brand Ambassadors
  • Door-to-door Sales
  • Mall & Street Sales
  • Letter & Physical Mailing

Direct communications is annoying, frustrating, and leaves customers seething in rage… when it is done badly. Done well, and this is the singular highest conversion tool in the marketing toolkit.

Pitfalls of Direct Communication

Signs depicting the quote above are common for door-to-door salesmen, and while I was working door-to-door sales in Melbourne, I have encountered much worse. The wittier ones listed their previous frustrations: “No surveys, no energy salesmen, no magazine subscriptions, we have insurance, we have found Jesus- unless you’re a girl scout, go away!”. While others were direct and honest. The reason these direct encounters are hated are because of three things: firstly, it is an intrusion on their life. Secondly, nobody likes being sold to. Finally, the salesmen failed to add value for the owner.

While the example provided pertains to door-to-door sales specifically, these three failures apply to all direct communications. I am taking a bit of my time to listen to what you insist that I need, even though I tell you that I don’t. The secret to direct communications, in this case, it to flip these three things around.

First, minimise the intrusion. Ideally, try to get permission first. This is the idea behind permission marketing. Get someone to say “yes, I would like you to call me, email me, or visit me.” If someone gives you permission to communicate, it is no longer an intrusion. You are a guest.

Second, don’t sell. Listen. Likely, you believe that your product is going to cure every problem in the world and bring world peace. If not, perhaps you believe that one of your products from your range is exactly what the customer needs. If you don’t believe either of these, perhaps review the “product” section of this book. The truth is that even though your product is very beneficial, customers do not want to hear about what features it has. They want to tell you their problem, and want you to tell them the best way to fix it. If participating in direct communication, being a problem-solver rather than a salesman is a small attitude shift that can go a long way. Realise that sometimes, your product is really not the right match for the customer. Maybe they do not have enough money, time, energy, or need for it. Use this to either improve your product, or better target who you are speaking to. Other times, the customer is a right fit. Find out exactly how you can help. Don’t sell. Listen.

Third, add value. While the final goal is to have a product which benefits the customer, don’t wait until the sale to add value. You should be adding value all the time. Talking to you should either entertain the customer, inform the customer, or both. Always think about how you are adding value, and make sure that whatever outcome occurs, the customer has gone away with a little more than they had before. Do this step correctly, and not only will customers not slam doors, hang up, or complain- they will thank you.

The key to direct communications is to change the way we think about sales. It is not about pushing the most products out there as we can. It is about interacting with the customer in a meaningful way. The most important qualities to garner is trust and rapport. Without these two, no matter how amazing your product is, customers will never listen.

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