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Posts by Chris Lakin
Catalogs have survived the ages by changing along side the needs of consumers. Today 20,000 catalogs mail annually, but you might be surprised to learn who reads them, buys from them, tosses them or references them on their trip to the retail store or bedroom to get online and make the long awaited purchase.
Here are some revealing stats and facts about catalogs that might spur a marketing campaign or catalog mailing for your business:
- Women open up and look at a higher percentage of catalogs than men.
- Men buy from catalogs more frequently than women (44% more than six times a year, compared with only 36% of female catalog shoppers).
SOURCE:Consumer Catalog Shopping Survey, Catalog Age
- 20 billion catalogs are mailed annually
- Catalogs mailings make up 10% of USPS volume
- Percentage of sales for B2C averages 17% and 7% for B2B
- Effect of the Internet has been positive as most catalogers have a substantial web presence and gather 20% to 50% of their orders from the Internet.
- Baby boomers are vigorous catalog buyers, making up the largest demographic sector with 40,000 boomers buying regularly from catalogs.
- However, more women than men shop catalogs during the holidays.
- Catalogs are considered useful by 46% of those who receive them.
- The most used and preferred method for purchases from a company whose catalog was received was to look at the catalog and then purchase through their website. This method is preferred twice as much as using the toll-free number.
- If catalogs become too expensive to produce, more than 1 in 7 consumers would actually pay to receive catalogs.
- On average consumers who receive catalogs spend $850 per year on catalog purchases.
- Catalogs remain one of the four mediums that influence purchases most (see graph below).
SOURCE: American Catalog Mailers Association
Don’t complain about the rising costs of postage if your company didn’t register for last year’s USPS business discount by using QR Codes® (deadline was August 12, 2012). This is the third year in a row the U.S. Postal Service is offering discounts to encourage businesses to use new technology such as QR Codes to improve their mailing results.
This year the USPS is upping the ante by including a scan-to-call component to its QR Code promo. This means when a prospect scans the QR Code with their smartphone that they will be connected by phone to the business that did the mailing. And that business will get a 2% postage discount, which could mean hundreds of dollars in savings per mailing.
For example, a business that normally would have paid $14,750 for mailing 25,000 bounce-back coupons with QR Codes that cost .59 each would only pay $14,250 for postage with the 2% postal service discount.
That 2% would equate to $500 in postage savings. This is more than enough to pay for a celebration dinner for a marketing department when the mailing brings in $652,000 in sales by generating 1,000 purchases (4% of mailing) of a $652 product.
September 30 is the deadline to register your business to receive a 2% discount on mailings you send using one of three emerging technologies shown below:
Augmented Reality Component: Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.
Authentication Component: Authentication describes the process of verifying a unique customer using a combination of authentication factors (at least two).
Near Field Communication (NFC): Near Field Communication creates a two-way communication link between two devices with Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) capabilities.
Want a Deeper Understanding of Postal Changes and Discounts?
Pitney Bowes has produced a series of great webinars and slideshows that summarize the myriad of changes and rewards the postal service has to soften the pain of change.
I recommend starting by reading Pitney Bowes overview slideshow: Understanding the USPS: The Rewards for Change.
I hope by embracing the new technology and the discounts available to your business for doing so. If so you’ll be even more prosperous in 2013.
* QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Look around the next time you’re in a coffee shop, airport, bookstore or public area and you’ll see Millennials (often called Gen Ys) pecking away on their smart phones or iPads like there wasn’t another human being around for miles.
However, just because Generation Ys are completely absorbed in technology that doesn’t mean the only way to reach them is through social media or integrated email campaigns.
Lamont Swittenberg, managing director at Luminosity Marketing, says, “Sending something by direct mail is a way of breaking through the clutter because they receive so much communication that comes digitally, and you still can’t replace the personal touch from direct mail.”
To engage Gen Ys most effectively, marketers should recognize that Gen Ys read printed materials with a different “lens” than baby boomers.
Jason Ryan Dorsey, author of “Y-Size Your Business,” explains that Gen Ys (born between 1977 and 1995) prefer pictures and directions to an online video rather than long blocks of text or explanation or background info.
10 Ways to Engage Gen Ys with Print:
- Personalize it. Use variable data printing to ensure you’re speaking to Gen Ys personally.
- Keep it visual (infographics are received well among Gen Ys).
- Treat them like a VIP.
- Make them feel deserving.
- Connect them to a cause or part of a community for the greater good
- Believe in them.
- Add a QR Code® or drive them to your social media sites.
- Make it interactive.
- Create a daring but relevant appeal. Read Gen Y targeted whitepaper, No Guts, No Glory, for bold ideas from Joeri Van den Bergh, Gen Y expert.
Chances are your office is at least half filled with Gen Ys. So run the copy by an associate before finalizing your multi-channel campaign. Believe me, they will tell you exactly how they feel about your message and if it resonates with them or not.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
In his new book Digital Disruption, James McQuivey, a Forrester principal analyst, explains that technological advances are creating opportunities for more people to meet more customer needs than ever before at lower costs– and that is the essence of digital disruption.
While some businesses have been digitally disrupted, the ones listed below have been completely transformed by the digital age of media that has evolved over the past 20 years.
- The music business (YouTube, iTunes)
- Banking and insurance (online banking, photo deposits, digital signatures)
- Photography (film is nearly extinct)
- Retailing (bricks and mortar are now optional)
- Travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak)
- Newspaper and magazine publishing (online subscriptions)
- Telecoms (home phones are going extinct, VOIP)
According to McQuivey, digital disruption is about to completely change how companies do business. Digital tools and digital platforms are driving the cost of innovation down to nearly zero, causing at least 10 times as many innovators to rush into your market while operating at one-tenth the cost that you do.
This is one reason companies are hiring or stealing the brightest digital innovators in the marketplace like Jeff Hammerbacher, data entrepreneur, who was one of Facebook’s first employees and who is now the co-founder of Cloudera (a Silicon Valley software start-up).
IT, app and software geniuses are in demand today because of the need for companies to protect themselves against digital disruption. Companies needed the brightest and future-forward thinkers on board to retool their businesses to stay ahead of the just-in-time needs of their customers.
3 Ways Your Company Can Stay Ahead of Digital Disruption
Ever-advancing technology forces any company from a lube shop to an international airline to leverage technology to speak one-on-one with its customers and deliver competitive costs, convenient services and products that exceed their expectations.
Personalize Your Interactions. Using well-oiled and captured data enables you as a savvy marketer to send customer communications that are relevant and personalized. Whether you use highly personalized email or variable data print pieces your marketing can be extremely targeted. Consumers welcome personalized offers. They love that you know their likes and market accordingly. Are you using data-driven marketing to optimize your appeal to individual customers?
The Need for Speed. Real-time interactions separate the amateur from the pros in marketing and product delivery. Just look at Oreo’s response to the Super Bowl blackout as lesson #1.
Integrate and Automate. If you haven’t already integrated your marketing channels and platforms, you’re already at risk of digital disruption. Get all your customer contact points talking to one another seamlessly and then tap the power of marketing automation to extend your reach and shorten the time to market. Using sales force automation tools and your CRM (customer relationship management) system you can marketing in a trigger based fashion for maximum customer engagement.
If this post frightens you, perhaps it should. Talk to any CEO or CMO and ask them about their top concerns with the business and chances are disruption and marketing effectiveness will be in the top five. The good news is there are industry experts and talent on hand to help you transform and deliver. Unfortunately this is an endless process.
Guest post by Michael J. Pallerino, taken from the April/May issue of our bi-monthly magazine, Connect.
So, how do the worlds of improvisation and business compare? Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications (SCC), shows you eight improvisation techniques that can help your business.
No. 1: Seek Those “Yes, and …’ Moments
Improvisation is about affirmation, creation and mutual support. Its training is built on the concept of what it calls “yes, and” moments. That’s when other members of the group put an idea or proposition forward, the group affirms the proposition, and then additional information is added. This allows the team to reach its full potential before objections derail an idea.
No. 2: Follow Your Fears
Fear usually is an indication that something important is at stake.
People feel fear because they care about an outcome. In improv, actors are taught to “lean into” conflict, not walk away from it. This practice likely reveals something new.
No. 3: Plan Less and Discover More
The less you plan, the more you’ll discover; the more you plan, the less you’ll discover. Every organization wants to be known as innovative and creative. Yet,
most conditions that allow for innovation and creativity seldom are present. Standard routines and processes govern most daily work experiences. In improvisation, the absence of a plan allows room for discovery.
No. 4: Start in the Middle
Improv actors know that a linear, orderly progression makes for a boring scene. In business, people take great pains to lay things out in logical progressions. There is comfort in following the flow. But when there’s a crisis or need to innovate, success sometimes comes from taking leaps and making creative connections in the absence of perfect information and thoughtful preparation.
No. 5: ‘Bring a Brick, Not a Cathedral’
Employees don’t like to feel small and insignificant. This causes them to hold back ideas and feedback. In improvisation, seemingly small contributions are important to the whole. If each ensemble member brings something, the collective energy is greater than one person carrying the load. When your contribution matters, you’re obligated to bring something to the game.
No. 6: If One Idea Doesn’t Work, Try Another
In improvisation people move quickly. There’s little time to analyze or assess only time to listen and react. Consequently, ideas and inspiration come and go fluidly. Improv actors know that right and wrong usually is a false dichotomy; there are only possibilities and choices. Performers are rewarded by their willingness to support the ensemble and adapt on the fly to new ideas.
No. 7: Try Not to Top Someone …
…at least until you’ve equaled him. Because business usually is a competitive endeavor, people always are trying to one-up each other. This comes out of a fear of looking bad and falling behind in an internal competition. Someone else’s gain means your loss, which creates a stifling environment. In improvisation, the best way to “get fed” is to do some feeding of your own.
No. 8: Make Accidents Work
The world has a tendency to throw curveballs. The key is how you respond to it. In improvisation, the axiom “make accidents work” describes much of its existence. Unlike in variable data printing where every outcome is tightly planned, there is no such thing as a preordained outcome in improvisation. It’s about living in the moment. Learn to embrace the possibilities that “accidents” offer.
Mark McGuinness of Lateral Action guest posted a terrific blog at Copyblogger: Are You a Marketing Artist or Scientist? In it he describes two distinct tribes that most marketers fall into (1) the right-brain types that like to create and find inspiration in coffee shops journaling and brainstorming about their next blog, podcast, video or creation or (2) the left-brain types that are most on fire when they get to use gadgets to crunch numbers, run split tests or compare data sets.
McGuinness explains it matters not which camp you fall into. What matters is that both camps work closely together to achieve optimum marketing outcomes for your organization. While ethereal writers can create magnetic content in itself it isn’t marketing until the scientists optimize it to be found and shared on the web.
And while marketing scientists are terrific at setting up variable data projects,analysis models and optimizing content to be keyword and SEO rich and for capturing names and IP addresses via landing pages and micro sites, they aren’t good at creating copy or content that screams read me, share me, and use me to make your buying decision right now!
You Need Both Disciplines to Succeed
McGuinness goes on to say that while at one time you could succeed with just killer content or killer PPC, now you need a mixture of the art and science to succeed. Dave Reibstein, co-author of Marketing Metrics, agrees.
Read Reibstein’s full excerpt here about blending the art and science of marketing.
Allen Weiner of Gartner for Marketing Leaders shares three companies that he feels is blending the art and science of content marketing marvelously well. In his blog post, Understanding the Art and Science of Content Marketing, Weiner gives the thumbs up to Home Depot, Nike’s Better World micro-site and The Waffle Shop.
He says all three think like publishers in blending their content with proper workflow and outcomes. Home Depot succeeded by driving 29 million DIY-ers to a YouTube video on the forgotten art of whiskey barrel making. Many showed up in the store to buy materials and give it a go.
Nike’s Better World succeeded with its content by using HTML5 to present a scrolling storyboard explaining its company’s green initiatives and The Waffle Shop doubled connects with its customers through a live stream of customers sharing comments good or bad live at a Pittsburgh restaurant.
Is your marketing organization set up so the scientists can teach the artists and vice versus? Tell us in the comments section below.
This is the second part of a blog post series gleaning lessons from the direct marketing successes of four casinos that won the Romero Awards in 2012. Romero Awards recognize outstanding, accountable, measurable casino marketing.
In this post you can learn takeaways from Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs, Ark., and Seminole Casino, Coconut Creek, Fla.
A Scratch-and-Win Promo with an Anticipation Twist
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming learned there is emotional currency in creating anticipation. The casino had past success with scratch-and-win direct mail pieces and decided to play off of that by asking customers to not scratch their card at home but to bring that card into the casino on Saturday to scratch and redeem.
The response rate was more than previous efforts and the coin-in rate (money put through the slots and machines) was more than double the average of the previous four Saturdays.
SOURCE: Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine.
According to Deliver Magazine, Oaklawn’s cost of the promotion was $34,894. The coin-in total grew by more than $1 million over the previous year and there was a visitor increase of 68%.
Penny Players Prove Direct Mail Test a Success
Seminole Casino wanted to learn if targeting specific denominational players would deliver better results than not factoring in which denominations players prefer to play. So they developed a list with all of their active players with more than 50% of penny play and added players who hadn’t played for up to 24 months.
The marketing piece had a dual message: that Seminole had increased the number of penny machines by 33% and were offering 1,001 spins on them. The promotion was basically the equivalent a $10.01 free-play offer.
Seminole then sent a press release and ran ads in newspapers and on billboards reinforcing the abundance of penny machines. A total of 49,882 pieces were mailed that earned a 33% response rate, including 18.8% from disengaged players.
Players appreciated the increased number of penny slot machines and the mailed offer.
This blog post is for you if you run a casino or similar business– hotel, entertainment venue, restaurant or a retail store. You can learn something from Gold River Casino in Anadarko, Okla., and Prairie Band Casino & Resort in Mayetta, Kan., if you need people in your establishment to earn revenue.
Turning a Slow Day into a Hay Day
Gold River Casino employees used to dread Sundays because the floor was barren and therefore food and beverage sales were slow, too. To increase Sunday play, Gold River put a reusable coupon into its monthly direct mail piece.
The additional free-play offer increased revenues more than $200,000 in just one month. After three months, revenues climbed to $300,000. This translated into an increase of 30% more visitors who drove food and beverage sales up nearly 50%.
SOURCE: Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine
Sunday is now one of the property’s strongest days thanks to adding a food-and-beverage offer. The food piece draws in families who encourage their friends to come with them to catch up on life on Sundays.
Reengaging Disengaged Customers
Prairie Band Casino & Resort used a total escape package to lure guests back into the casino who hadn’t been in to play in up to three months. The package included a free night’s stay and free-play offer.
To promote the package, Prairie Band mailed a printed luggage tag as the direct mail piece and attention grabber. The results were a 19.1% response rate, an 80.8% lift in incremental guests, and a return on investment of 670.1%.
SOURCE:Casinos Hit the Jackpot with Direct Mail, March 2012. Deliver Magazine
Is there a group of your customers you need to reengage? How about a day of the month you could use a spike in customers? Direct mail works – when executed properly.
When Savvi Formalwear, a group of 35 independent formal wear retailers, wanted to connect with more soon-to-be brides, it chose the print and digital trifecta — direct mail, email and personalized landing pages.
All of Savvi Formalwear’s direct mail pieces were personalized using variable data printing (VDP), with coupons or incentives such as the two free airline tickets shown in the postcard in this post and a PURL that drives brides to a landing page with a store locator and Savvi Formalwear branding.
Savvi Formalwear is using the campaign to capture more of the $1 billion formal wear industry, that like other industries, has suffered because of the 2009-2011 recession.
Not coincidentally the majority of Savvi Formalwear stores are located on the west coast where nearly 20% of the formal wear transactions occur. In these 35 stores, Savvi Formalwear is trying to lure as many of the two million brides that get married every year to their stores and services as possible.
SOURCE: IBIS World Report, Formal Wear and Costume Rental in the U.S., May 2012
Savvi Formalwear’s campaign, named SavviOne, included weekly mail drops across the U.S. and Canada to promote formal wear to couples planning their weddings. Using the power of personalization, Savvi Formalwear significantly increased the engagement and conversions in its multi-channel promotional campaign, according to Mark Morrow, president of Savvi Formalwear.
SOURCE: Case Studies, www.montagedigital.com
Bride Puts Money Toward Print Pieces Not Cake or Dress
While most brides can spend the majority of their wedding budget on elaborate centerpieces, cakes and designer dresses, bride Robin Nelson, who works in the printing industry, invested her wedding dollars in a cross-media wedding campaign.
Nelson said the campaign enabled her to gather more information about each of her guests to organizing the wedding to taking advantage of technologies that count RSVPs and help brides budget for dinner, drinks, the rehearsal dinner and after-ceremony reception.
SOURCE: “Happily Ever After: A Cross-Media Wedding Campaign” by Robin Nelson, XMPie Blog, Oct. 12, 2011
With the use of variable data printing, there was no confusion on head count at Nelson’s wedding. Nelson attributes this to her guests who updated their RURL (Response URL also called PURL for personalized URL) especially in regards to how many children who would be coming with them).
The information Nelson got from her guests through the landing page they responded to allowed her to stay within budget, update her guest list and create a seating chart.
Nelson also downloaded the XMPie Marketing Console iPhone app that allowed her to provide final head counts and meal preferences to her caterer and vendors through report on-the-fly report technology.
So while some brides like the visual trimmings (cakes, bridesmaid’s gifts, etc.), savvy brides are tapping into VDP and digital technology to make their wedding planning less stressful and more personalized to all involved.
*QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.