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Marketing Concepts
Minimizing Expenses and Maximizing Revenue from Marketing Programs
By Chris Nelson, Managing Director, Advanced Marketing Solutions

Minimize your expenses and make the most of what you have by taking smaller, more measured steps. A mix of smaller harvesting and hunting programs, using accurate data sources, will increase your revenue and profit from marketing programs.

Minimizing Expenses

We'll review three strategic elements which can immediately reduce costs; (1) Starting Points, (2) Sample Sizing, and (3) Contact Vehicle Progression.

Starting Points
Starting Points refers to existing or acquired data sources; they are the most important part of any direct marketing effort.

The first question to ask is "how current and targeted is our database?" Most companies gather data throughout the year but rarely remove or update information. The result, an increasing expense in material and postage attempting to reach people who've been gone for months or even years.

The cost of updating the company prospect database bi-annually is typically far less than the expense of using an out-of-date starting point. There are considerable expenses hiding within your data source. Several hundred dollars spent to clean a data source can easily translate into saving several thousand dollars.

Many companies acquire new data sources to drive marketing programs. Consider several factors when buying or renting data sources. First, how often is the information updated? Data providers should update quarterly or monthly. Data older than three months begins to rapidly decrease in value. When will you use the data source? If the information was last updated three months earlier, and you won't use it for two or three weeks, could you wait for the next update?

Lastly, since most data vendors have minimums (typically 5,000 records regardless of the number of matches to your criteria), consider building the list that you need, and marketing along the way. This provides several benefits, smaller upfront expense (which can be staggered over a period of weeks or months), more targeted sales prospects, and immediate sales opportunities.

Sample Sizing
Many marketing campaigns are large-scale, with a large one-time expense up front, and a high risk factor. Despite the economies of scale, once the program is launched, even minor changes can be extremely expensive. Consider smaller efforts, or test launches, to gather sample data on your return-on-investment. Establish break points (to stop and evaluate programs, in effect you create smaller efforts with increased control over expenses. After 100 electronic communications or follow-up telemarketing calls, how many sales opportunities do you have?

If the marketing campaign is not having the desired effect, you should be able to turn it off almost immediately and not incur additional expense.

Vehicle Progression
The most cost effective way to gather or receive marketing and sales information is electronic, followed by mail, and then personal communication such as telemarketing. The cost differences are dramatic. An email could cost $0.15-$0.20 and a phone call could cost $4.00 or more. A planned progression from electronic to personal can drastically reduce expenses.

Even an email can be personalized, and contain very specific and valuable information. If inquiries or prospects have provided their email information, it isn't Spam. Providing a web site link within the email will improve your ROI. Just make sure that your web site has the top 5-specific questions to determine how hot or cold the sales lead.

Wherever and whenever possible, allow your inquiries and sales prospects to qualify themselves. Very targeted email, fax, or standard mail messages with small incentives will encourage prospects to introduce themselves. To minimize expenses, use a building block approach with your response vehicles.

Maximizing Revenue

There are several strategies for maximizing your revenue from marketing programs. We will explore three elements that can increase your sales revenue; (1) Harvesting, (2) Hunting, and (3) Increasing Visibility.

Marketing programs often generate a large number of unqualified responses. These inquiries are not ready for the sales channel and often remain untouched. However, there are immediate sales opportunites available. People who were not ready to purchase three months ago, may be ready today. And trade show attendees often provide little information, even when they are evaluating a purchase decision. Many companies often purchase or rent new data sources rather than update and harvest data that they've acquired within the same year.

How do you harvest these data sources? Targeted email blasts specific to industry, application or geography, and telemarketing to follow-up literature is very effective. As mentioned earlier, set-up small, pilot efforts to minimize the expense and look for immediate results.

It is sometimes necessary to generate sales opportunities with very little marketing support. Building data sources in key market segments, gathering information on contacts, and introducing your company and presenting key benefits to these people can be an effective sales tool. This has been called "cold calling" but it is possible to research firms and provide a warmer approach. Sending a simple letter with 5 benefit statements and a follow-up phone call is typically a successful approach.

Hunting is an effective supplemental revenue generation method, and it is an excellent method of building an effective prospect database. Effective methods include; telemarketing to identify companies and contacts, small letter campaigns, and follow-up telemarketing to generate qualified sales opportunities.

Increasing Visibility
There are people currently looking for your products and services. Why haven't they found you? Advertising is the most commonly used and most expensive method of increasing visibility. Targeted Internet key word searches on engines yield excellent results. Most search engines count the number of times the key words appear in a web site. Regardless of your site content, you can add invisible key words on certain pages that will be counted. Additionally, email and postcards (with register-to-win promotions) are effective methods of increasing visibility.

The bottom line is that the most cost effective way to maximize your revenue is to be found by people who are seeking your solutions.

A Balanced Approach

Minimize your expenses and make the most of what you have by taking smaller, more measured steps. A mix of smaller harvesting and hunting programs, using accurate data sources, will increase your revenue and profit from marketing programs. Adopting a building block approach will enable you to start small and scale up your efforts as you succeed. If you don't have the resources, consider outsourcing for cost-effective flexibility, to avoid increasing head count and provide results-oriented experience.

Chris Nelson is the Managing Director of Advanced Marketing Solutions, a marketing/sales support and lead management firm that implements programs to maximize client revenue and profit impact. For a free consultation to see how your marketing programs could yield a greater ROI, visit or call Chris at 508-486-9700.

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