A solid, effective business plan includes a summary of your goals and objectives as well as an overview of exactly what kinds of direct marketing you’ll engage in – whether it’s printed postcards, electronic email marketing or intricate solicitations. You need to include research you’ve completed on your target market and list the positions you’ll create within the company. A complete business plan includes where your funding is coming from and what your projections are for the future. As a direct marketing company, you have additional elements to consider that pertain specifically to your industry.
During slow economic times, direct marketing companies, like many other businesses, usually cut back on staffing and reduce hiring. You must maintain a core staff to service your current clients, and your business plan should reflect your plans on how to increase business in both good and bad times. According to Direct Marketing News, among the most important positions you need to keep filled with competent employees are those that provide analytics for you and your clients. Analytics professionals are your main source of information, analyzing the market data changes you rely so heavily upon for successful marketing campaigns. Include a line item in your budget plan for top-notch analytic pros as well as plans on how to replace them when you lose key employees. Include plans for recruiting and retaining top sales, creative and IT employees as well.
Rapid changes are occurring in the direct marketing industry, and your strategic business plan must make plans to deal with the changes when they occur. For example, the United States Postal Service has been undergoing massive reductions and price increases that have a direct impact on your profits and your abilities to provide your services. According to Chief Marketer, from 2007 to 2009, mail volume declined by 36 billion pieces, and between 2008 and 2009, the government agency accrued $3.8 billion in operating losses. Your plan should include strategies to deliver your direct mail should the post office continue to reduce services or, as some predict, go out of business completely.
An effective strategic plan for a direct marketing company just starting out should provide a diverse range of delivery options for your marketing campaigns. While direct mail has always been the mainstay of the industry, in the 21st century you need to build a comprehensive digital and electronic plan for providing clients with state-of-the art marketing services that include social media and cell phone technology. You cannot afford to leave out strategic plans for alternative delivery of printed material such as using private mail delivery services or by ramping up your telemarketing programs.
As you design your strategic plan to include more extensive electronic delivery systems, you also must make arrangements to follow and uphold federal privacy regulations as they, too, evolve. “Do not call” telephone lists made a big dent in direct telemarketing efforts and potential “do not email” laws and privacy regulations could provide stiffer requirements for direct marketers. As of 2012, all your direct email products must include an opt-out option for your targets. Your strategic plan should include a job description for one of your employees that includes consistent regulatory updates to make sure your business models remain within the scope of changing rules.
- Turbo Online Business: Direct Marketing Business Model
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Essential Elements of a Good Business Plan
- Chief Marketer: The Biggest Threat to Direct Mail
- Direct Marketing News: Fewer Direct Digital Marketers Plan on Increasing Staff
- Information Management: Balancing the Art and Science of Marketing
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."