Your direct client marketing campaign didn’t work, what went wrong?

Your direct client marketing campaign didn’t work, what went wrong?

How to avoid the five most common direct marketing mistakes

While you might think it’s a bad time for many things at the moment, it’s never a bad time for marketing. But what if you’ve been there, done that and it didn’t work? A translator colleague had the same problem and wanted to check they weren’t making any direct marketing mistakes to make sure the next time was more successful.

I’ve tried direct marketing in the past and it didn’t work so I need to know what I’m doing wrong!

To answer that, I needed more details but if you’re in a similar situation, I suspect the problem might be linked to one of these five common direct marketing mistakes:

1. Your audience

Are you marketing to the right person in the company and do they want your services? Start with the right list of contacts and you’ve increased your chances of success exponentially.

The more refined your list of direct client prospects is, the easier it is to market to them. 

A group of 12 people gathered casually in a living room. Just about the right amount for a personalised direct marketing campaign.
A highly targeted list of contacts can be small but perfectly formed

Once you’ve narrowed down your chosen sector, size of company, past clients, people who have attended the same events, whoever you’re going for – make sure you send your marketing to the right person. If you have an existing relationship with someone, go ahead and tailor your marketing to them. Otherwise there’s no point sending marketing to technicians if all the translations are commissioned by the communications department.

2. Being impersonal 

There are two aspects to this. First, as in #1 you need a select group of prospects because then it’s easier to talk specifically about their problems and customise your marketing. Even if you work for multiple sectors and don’t have a niche, choose a few specific people to target in one campaign. Tweak your marketing to a second group in a separate direct marketing campaign.

Second, write to the reader directly. Use “you” and their name. It makes it easier for you to write your marketing, imagining a single person across the table from you in a café. And it’s much more flattering to your potential client to receive a letter with their name on it that talks specifically about them, their industry, and how you can help them. 

3. Lack of a compelling offer

You need a reason for your contact to respond to your offer. Without some kind of benefit to the reader, the only reason for them to respond is if you’ve struck lucky and they are in the middle of a translation crisis! If you’re asking your reader to “get in touch” or “contact you if they need translation”, you’ve just put yourself at the bottom of their to-do list. Make an offer – a free consultation call, sample translation, guide, useful tips document or whatever you identify as being valuable to their situation and sector. 

4. Zero urgency

Your offer should be time limited to encourage a response. Be clear about how long your reader has to respond to take advantage of your offer. Without this urgency you risk them setting your marketing aside and never hearing from them again. Setting a deadline also helps you becuase it gives you the opportunity and a valid reason to follow up – all of which can easily be done without being salesy or pushy.

Don't make the mistake of not following up with a reminder for your potential direct clients. Set a deadline.
Setting a deadline means you can follow-up with a friendly reminder

5. No follow-up

The follow-up isn’t just to persuade your contact to make a decision. It’s also to gain valuable feedback and insights into your target market. Rather than worry about being pushy and striving to get a new client at every stage of the process, consider your campaign to be a fact-finding mission. Whatever you discover will help you provide a better service, create more relevant marketing and improve your chances of success the next time you contact a potential client.

A ‘no thanks’ response often comes with an explanation – this company has in-house translators or they use a translation agency, the boss spent ten years abroad and can speak your language fluently, they might need some help for a future project but not right now. Whatever you find out, take note and see if you can spot an opportunity rather than writing this company off straight away. Perhaps they could use support during busy periods? Ask more about that future project they mentioned. Hasn’t the boss got better things to do than translate? Keep the conversation going naturally.

Who are your favourite people to deal with? I bet they’re those who take an interest in you. If you don’t follow up your initial marketing, your potential clients will feel like they were one of many. Perhaps you didn’t want to work with them that much after all. Everyone likes to feel special so by keeping in touch you demonstrate your interest in building a long-term relationship.

Pinpoint your direct marketing mistakes and fix them

Have you spotted any of these errors in your past marketing? If so, great – now you know what to fix!

If you did all the right things and would like more specific help, send me an email with the details to [email protected]. I answer marketing challenges in my weekly newsletter (make sure to subscribe here for marketing tips specifically for translators) and won’t share any identifying details.

Avoid direct marketing mistakes and run a multi-step marketing campaign with me

Destination Direct Clients is a 12-week course in which I take you through everything you need to know to move from working with translation agencies to building relationships with direct clients. We cover strategy and implementation.

Destination Direct Clients course cover image

During the course you’ll be sending out your highly targeted marketing that you’ve created with guidance and received personalised feedback on. I’ll be there to help you handle the responses and follow-up.

Strategy: We’ll look at how to market to direct clients as a serious business partner and what your potential clients really want. You’ll discover how to create compelling offers, write sales letters and encourage responses to win new clients and gain a deeper understanding of your target market.

Take action: Send out your marketing materials and put theory into practice as you handle different responses and follow up effectively with your contacts. We look at long-term relationship building to keep in touch with your dream clients so that you’re the person they contact for their next translation project.

If that sounds like the perfect mix of strategy and action for your next campaign, find all the details here.


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