Certain direct marketing campaigns have included some of the industry's most masterful hard sells, and others have featured some of its worst flubs. What's the "special sauce" that puts you in that first category? If you want to go from a cold contact to a sale, there are many elements to help you control the process. People spend an exorbitant amount of money to educate themselves on marketing tactics, but if you can keep these things in mind and apply them easily to your direct marketing campaign, you'll be using the same tools as the pros. Use these direct marketing techniques to complete more customer cycles and create a more successful campaign.

1. First of all, understand that you're not selling a product to your audience; you're selling them "better versions of themselves."

You've probably heard things like "focus on emotions rather than features" or "tell stories," but concepts like these all stem from one thing: People want to improve themselves or their business, and to do that, they'll use you and your product. Your benefits should fit the vision of what they see for themselves or their company. For example, a company that sells a piece of software might not list all of the capabilities and compatibilities but say something like, "Organize your entire team from anywhere." You're informing a manager that your product can do what they want to be able to do.

This level of empathy is honestly the most difficult part of marketing to understand and often what most people get wrong about the process. If you are to really understand this first process, you'll likely need to invest in focus groups, surveys, and other studies to really ensure that you know what the audience wants and what they want to do with your product or service. It's not about what your product can do but what they like about it.

2. Actually create a map of your sales funnel.

Don't operate under assumptions. Lead your customers by the hand down your sales funnel or through your buying cycle. Everyone has different terminology for it: Some people call it the awareness stage, for instance, and others call it a prospect stage. You should understand at the very least that sometimes, direct marketing won't lead to a sale immediately but may lead to a conversion to another part of the process. What are you doing about that list of emails of people who've looked at your website but not bought anything? What about the people who bought something but didn't come back? Completely take care of your customer throughout every stage of this process. Physically drawing it out can truly help.

3. Keep the writing and overall design clean and easy to understand.

Even great, knowledgeable professionals who have been doing marketing for many years occasionally send out direct emails or mailings that have a muddied message. If your campaign and your call to action can't be understood by someone of average intelligence, then you should consider revising it. It's true that people are generally smarter than most marketers think, but at the same time, don't let your message get lost. People have to consume a great deal of media on a day-to-day basis, so if your email takes a few more seconds to be understood, it probably won't be.

4. Access your audience using the most logical medium. (And don't forget about mobile.)

Build your direct marketing campaign around the medium that is most likely to result in engagement. For many businesses, it's direct email. For some, it's cold calling. For others, a direct mailing campaign can be useful. But don't forget about optimizing your emails for mobile reading, as more and more users are leaning toward mobile usage. Again, this may take research to find which one is optimal.

5. Encourage action and make moving on to the next step easy.

Use classic sales techniques like urgency to help them move along. Urgency can be created by setting deadlines and dates, offering time-sensitive sales or coupons, or promising some other type of reward within a time frame. Adding on more features or benefits to encourage the final purchase will make the customer feel like they've won at haggling, even though they haven't. (That's sometimes called the "and that's not all" approach.)

Then, make your emails foolproof so that when someone does spring from an interest to a consideration stage (or from a consideration stage closer to a purchase stage), they won't have to jump through hoops. Make sure your online form is short, your social buttons are visible, or your contact information is ready for them to use. Don't make them siphon, find, dig, or wait. (They won't.)