Disciplined direct marketing.

 Many businesses are finding that direct marketing offers a productive alternative to other channels of distribution.  Many of the guidelines for direct marketing are the same as those for any other successful sales effort, but there’s one cardinal rule the direct marketer shouldn’t ignore:  Develop one winning product at a time and focus on it.  The best direct marketing doesn’t confuse the prospect with various alternatives.  It spotlights one product and concentrates on its benefit to the customer.

Don’t restrict your direct marketing efforts to gaining new customers.  In fact, the customers who have already bought your product are your best bet for direct marketing.  You can go back to them again and again.  And when you choose the focus for your initial direct marketing effort, you should be thinking about a followup – additional products that will appeal to those who have already responded to your first offer.

In short, it’s OK to promote a group of related products, but sell them one at a time.

Conduct your own focus group.

Market researches know that one of the best ways to get actionable marketing information is through a focus group – a forum in which a professional researcher poses questions to a group of potential buyers, distributors, or consumers.  The questions asked in a focus group are usually different from those asked in a survey, where “yes/no” or multiple-choice answers are the norm.  In focus groups the questions are open-ended.  The person conducting the research doesn’t look for specific responses, but asks for general opinions.

You don’t need a costly formal focus group facility to do this kind of research.  There’s no reason, for instance, why you can’t gather a group of your customers over lunch or late afternoon wine and cheese.  In this informal setting you can invite, for example, suggestions about improvements or get reactions to ideas for new products.  Your customers will probably be flattered that you’ve asked their opinion and you’ll get a perspective on your business that may surprise you.