By Harvey Hirsch April 12, 2004 -- In his text on fighting, The Five Rings, Musashi explains which weapons he recommends for each different fighting scenario. Musashi worked with two swords and a lance and described how each was best suited for the five different fighting techniques. The same is true with marketing. Depending on your budget and what you want to accomplish you must select your media communications weapons carefully. Let's analyze them. Choosing your weapon Ideal for mass marketing to the most people at a reasonable CPM are: broadcast TV, broadcast radio, newspaper advertising, cable TV, billboard and transit, Internet and direct mail (see Media Options & Budgeting). Of all of these, only direct mail affords you the opportunity to bond with your prospects. Cost of generating a lead (converting a suspect to a prospect) can be lowest when using direct mail and if you are targeting a specific industry or level of person, only direct mail will be your weapon of choice. Media Options & Budgeting Estimates are based on regional media buys and average costs of creative development at rates polled by members of the Graphic Artists Guild. Broadcast TV: Ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly • cost of commercial from $60k including creative • running charges from $5k per spot with contract • call center for fulfillment $5k per week from 800# in message • ideal for business to consumer marketing • you need about a month to produce a commercial Cable : Ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly • cost of 1 minute commercial $1,500 including creative • running charges from $25 per spot with contract • limited targeting capabilities • you need about a week to produce a commercial Broadcast Radio : Ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly • cost of commercial from $1,500 including creative • running charges from $350 per minute with contract • mostly used for business to consumer • unable to target your prospect precisely • you need about a week to produce a commercial Billboards : Ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly • cost of average billboard design and production- $1,500 • monthly per board costs from $2,200 • need to order at least a month in advance • you may be able to handle calls internally Newspaper : Ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly • cost of black & white 1/2 page ad from $1,500 • running charges from $40 per column inch open rate • minimal targeting capabilities by section • you need about a week to produce an ad Direct Mail : Ideal for targeted markets and getting attention quickly • cost ranges from a personal letter at $5 to gift boxes at $100. • you can target as few as one person • you can be in the mail today • you can test your pitch, offers and prices * you can control responses internally Now, there are many different forms of direct mail. There's the shotgun approach where you mail to everybody in the database a static offer, the rifle approach where you segment your list and mail selective prospects a different but static offer and, for the experienced mailer, the grenade launcher approach, where you target your prospects individually with all of the information they need in order to make a guided decision. Key traits of a successful warrior Oh, there is one more, but it involves stealth, creativity, responsiveness, fearlessness, chutzpah--and access to digital printing devices. This is called one-to-one marketing, and this technique will out-produce every other form of media communication--if you do it right. If you're in a business-to-business environment and your targets are in one vertical market, then your preferred choice of weapons would be either a trade publication or direct mail. Depending on your budget, and the need for sales conversions direct mail offers you the best vehicle for contacting your prospects to initiate the sales cycle. Here's why. If you run an ad in a publication and your competition does too, your message can become comparative to theirs: color vs. black and white, size, headline, price, etc. Similarly, if prospects receive your direct mail piece along with those of your competitors', you run the same risk of comparison. If, however, you utilize data merging, variable data placement and on-demand digital color printing, you can specifically target each prospect with customized and personalized products, pitches and most of all, pricing. This technology allows you to test your presentations one at a time, and testing, which as every expert in direct marketing knows, is the best way to refine you “control package.” Here are a few suggestions to make your “control package” receive more attention: If you have to use an envelope, use an outsized (9x12) brightly colored one as this will help you stand out and be remembered If you are testing a postcard, make it 6x9 with a bright color background If at all possible, print the prospect's name in color in a unique typeface that is at least 24 point (1.4”) high Add the person's name and a teaser somewhere else on the front of the envelope Add the person's name and a teaser somewhere else on the front of the envelope again and even a third time, changing the color and the teasers If you are using a letter format, make sure that your prospect's name and their company name stands out several times in the pitch In your pitch, sell the benefits of your product or service for their particular business and try not to mention any competitors Give them several "calls to action" like special offers, deadlines, special pricing Give them many ways to take advantage of your offer 800#, your website, a BRC Set them up for receiving a follow-up phone call If at all possible, and if the sale is worth it, send them something that stands out of the normal 6” stack of mail the average executive receives, a box of some sort containing a small gift (or large one depending) examples If it is in your budget, have your “control” created by a professional, experienced direct mail copywriter and designed by a graphic artist with direct mail experience Keep in mind that the national response for direct mail is approximately 1/2 of 1 percent, and if you follow some or all of these tips you should increase your responses dramatically. This figure is based on the lowest responding industry (insurance) and the highest responding industries (sweepstakes and giveaways) and that you have to make every shot count. One more important thing to remember when building relationships with your prospects is that you make them feel special. Capture as much data as you can, i.e., birthdays, favorite hobbies, sports preferences, etc. This information will help you craft a CRM (customer relationship marketing) program that will keep your clients buying from you over and over again. And that is what you are in business to achieve. Sayonara.