It takes a good, usable mailing list to achieve positive direct mail and marketing results. That goes without question. But, what type of data do you need? To answer that question, you must start every direct mail and marketing effort with a realistic, workable strategy. Good data is essential - but it's not enough to optimize results. With a pre-defined strategy, it will be much easier to acquire the right data, and to then see that data used to fulfill your ultimate goals.
Marketing Strategy Basics
Within the world of community association marketing, strategic approaches are based on five (5) key factors:
- Association Type: What type of associations do you want to reach? (e.g. HOA, COA, co-op, time-share and/or mobile home park). In fact, your product or service may be more suited to one or more association types, and that would be where your focus belongs.
- Property Characteristics: What type of properties do you want to reach? Your product or service may be more suited properties of certain types (single-family, multi-family, low-rise, mid-rise, high-rise or townhome), certain sizes (based on number of homes or units) or demographic characteristics (market value).
- Property Age: Are you looking to market to associations and properties of a certain age? Your product or service may be particularly appropriate for associations and properties of specific ages. For example, roofers might be interested in older properties more likely in need of roof repairs. Age can be a good indicator of current and upcoming service (or product) needs.
- Board Position: Are you looking to reach out to specific Board members? The position held (President, Treasurer, etc.) is certainly an indicator of "interest and influence" for that individual, and is therefore a defining characteristic for developing marketing strategies.
- Location: What is your target geographic area? Depending on your product and service capabilities, you may choose association, property and/or board members within specific geopgraphic areas as defined by county, region (combining multiple counties) or zip code. Geographic criteria are closely linked to property-type (i.e. urban areas will likely have a higher concentration of high-end, high rise properties)
Picking a Relevant Approach
The first step in picking a community association marketing strategy is to set your primary goals - what are you looking to accomplish? You might be looking to find the most likely prospects, to promote a specific product or service, to just get your name "out there" or to test out a specific direct mail campaign.
Whatever your specific goals may be, your next step is to take those goals and formulate a suitably relevant marketing approach:
The saturation approach to community association marketing "casts the widest net", where you look to capture the broadest demographic possible. This lets you reach out to a diverse audience (as defined by multiple factors) and is particularly useful for promotional offers and to "get your name out there". As this approach is considered, costs must be analyzed for the appropriate return on investment. In this case, "costs" are not just monetary -- but is also a cost to "success" (i.e. you must be prepared to handle a positive response).
The refined approach to community association marketing provides "more focus" based on narrower goals. Using this approach, prospects would be selected to fit specific subject matter criteria (considering the key factors listed above). For example, the refined approach would involve selecting Board member prospects by "key" positions (President and Treasurer) in order to focus on decision makers with executive and financial interests and influences. In the refined approach, data acquisition and direct mail costs may be lowered and the "message" can be more tailored,
The precision approach to community association marketing casts the "smallest net", targeted to very specific formative factors (as listed above). This approach allows for maximum control over potential results and lowers up-front costs, although there is always the risk that opportunity will be missed. Precision marketing is particularly useful for a very targeted message, such as a congratulations to new board members, "scheduled maintenance" offers based on property age, or limiting outreach to only Board Presidents (having the highest interest and influence potential).
In summary, to maximize the value of data acquisition and direct mail campaigns, it's wise to set a working strategy in advance. Once the data is collected, it can then be used to execute the strategy and fulfill established goals.