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D2D – Door to door marketing effective today?

June 7, 2012

 

Larry Grayson image

Shut that Door! Focus, dialogue and discipline are the key to effective D2D marketing

Door to door marketing (D2D) is often seen as the poor relation of direct marketing yet, despite the lack of end-reader precision, D2D flyers offer real potential in terms of generating brand reach. The key to success lies in a combination of ACORN (or equivalent) targeting, tight message, brand contiguity and a good dose of Siegfried Vogele…

Dodgy flyers for dodgy products?

Sadly, D2D has a much-maligned reputation: local or franchise restaurants; poorly-designed collateral and limited sophistication. To overcome this, “to the occupier” packs are often produced by the larger players but even here, they often have difficulty in arousing the recipient above the apathy necessary to pick up the pack and toss it in the nearest bin. D2D implies waves of corporate indolence battering against the granite cliffs of consumer ennui…

Yet, to cite the old adage, would companies still do it if it didn’t work? Clearly, like all forms of direct marketing, it’s a percentage game: volume driving a response sufficient to create a profitable return (either as a one off purchase or in terms of life time value (LTV)).  This is why D2D is effective when in the right hands and why, with the right brand and written in the right way, door to door initiatives can be favourable to profitability and brand reach.

ACORN 

ACORN – A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods –  is a sophisticated recipient profiling tool reflecting the changing nature of people and their lifestyles. Knowing who you are targeting and with what message is crucial to success. Target audience has a profound bearing on pack “look and feel”, writing style and on the call to action. In D2D, where end-reader personal data may be missing, to know the most likely demographic personality of the recipient is crucial to brand message.

The importance of message in marketing

Message consistency is crucial to success; this is why many D2D flyers fail. A brochure must be like a brand – exude the promise, credibly. It is surprising just how many door-step efforts fail due to poor presentation, poor syntax and grammar and total visual confusion.

D2D relies on the same assets as direct mail and digital marketing to be successful: a total understanding by the sender of the product’s (or company’s) values. Price, desire and willingness to pay are all defined by the messenger: get this wrong and your effort falls flat. Response drops, ROI drops, the campaign is a likely failure.

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is the mantra of every good direct marketing messenger where, in the absence of a personal presentation, a good piece of direct marketing is the next best thing. But what makes a good piece of DM, whether D2D or list-generated B2B or B2C?

 Siegfried Vogele – and why the “Dialogue Method” matters

Siegfried Vogele is the author of a now largely forgotten text written in 1982: Handbook of Direct Mail – the Dialogue Method of Direct Written Sales Communication. Despite its singular and somewhat Germanic titular verbosity, this work should be read still by anyone working in direct marketing – whether crafting mail pieces or working in digital.

A profitable campaign response means that dialogue has been effective; it is therefore imperative that creative is developed to prompt response. According to Vogele, response is driven by visual cues of differing levels of importance: initial scan; secondary reading and then the full absorption. Messengers – copywriters – need to understand the visual nature of what they are writing in order to create, with their designer, a brochure dialogue architecture.

Many brochures fail because they do not understand information absorption. They do not permit AIDA. Tired marketing, tired design creates a tired response. No company can afford to let itself become tired in its marketing; marketers and marketing heads must accept that they keep their ideas fresh (but relevant) if campaigns are to be successful.

Brand – don’t allow it to fail through lack of perception

As we have said before on A Brand Day Out, a brand is a promise fulfilled. D2D pieces are no different to sophisticated websites, direct mail brochures or even a visit from a sales executive. All elements of a company’s marketing output need to reflect the same values as each other.

The disintegration of brand through lack of control can destroy brand perception. Faulty brand perception means that price and positioning are at risk. Consumers begin to seek what Nagle and Holden (The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing) call “the Perceived Substitute” – or, to put it simply, I know I can get this somewhere else, I’m just not sure where.

It is the duty of every marketer to ensure that the brand is perceived in the most credible way. If a marketing piece serves only to prompt the desire of a customer to purchase the solution – but not necessarily your solution – then the marketing has failed. The marketing piece needs absolutely to convince the customer that your product is the solution they need.

Is door-to-door marketing effective?

Is any marketing effective? This comes down to measurement against objective KPI criteria but, most typically, response rate, volume, campaign ROI and consumer lifetime value (LTV). Data drives the decision-making at every stage – and the ability to learn from the results.

So it is that door-to-door marketing remains effective but only for those who measure and test. Some of the largest companies in the UK and elsewhere rely on D2D to give them brand and product exposure beyond what they can commonly achieve through other direct marketing methods.

But  it’s not for everyone; the question for every marketer considering its use is “how will this further the growth of my brand”? For example, luxury brands will probably have little to benefit from un-targeted initiatives dropped through the door on a “we’ve tried everything else to convince you” basis. Like all marketing, you must have a fundamental understanding of the nuances of what you are trying to achieve if you seek to deliver strong financial and strategic results.

 

Image of Larry Grayson courtesy of Explow

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