Archive for December, 2011

Ring in the New Year by Conducting a Marketing Audit

direct marketing solutions

Over lunch my friend described the duress his associates were going through because of a switch from a fixed- to zero-based budgeting. In essence, department heads could no longer use last year’s budget adjusted for inflation. They instead had to cost justify each expenditure line item by line item. These are the signs of tighter times where ideally every dime spent brings in a return.

Regardless of which accounting system your company uses, be a good corporate citizen this year by conducting a marketing audit. December is a great month to reflect and plan given business-as-usual stalls due to the holidays, vacations, and in some cases inclement weather.

In a financial audit an accountant or analyst tears the books apart and helps the company put things back together in a more systemized order. In a marketing audit, chief marketing officers, and preferably an independent consultant, evaluate your company’s marketing assets, programs, and results. An audit answers the question, “ Have marketing goals been met?” “Why or why not?” “Which marketing channels are working best for us and why?” “Where do we need to put the bulk of our budget next year in direct mail or variable dating printing?”


“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.

Thomas Edison


My recommendation is to secure a conference room and pin each piece of each multi-channel campaign around the room with index cards pinned beneath with the results of that campaign, advertising push, PR blitz, or cause marketing piece.

The immediate visual of seeing your work pasted on four walls will tell you:

  • if you were consistent with style and brand
  • if you built in ample lead pull into your campaigns
  • if the call to action hits you between the eyes or was weak
  • if the drop and delivery dates made for a cohesive story or diluted your efforts
  • if your direct mail pulled more than your email or vice versa
  • if your PURL copy clinched the sale or fell flat
  • if you could combine campaigns for more oomph or if you are running so few campaigns it’s a wonder that you can generate any calls or sales

I guarantee you will see things you missed during the campaign. Then invite some friends and colleagues in to review your work – feel free to call me, I’m happy to review your campaigns – no charge and no strings.  With the help of outside perspective you will definitely gain views you can use next year. The single best way to spend wisely and increase ROI is by doing a marketing audit and revamping your 2012 budget with the lessons learned. May you have a Happy New Year filled with rocking marketing campaigns.

From Bartering, to Blabbering, to the Little Bluebird that Revived Conversation

Meaningful Customer Conversation is What It’s All About

Conversation 250x201 From Bartering, to Blabbering, to the Little Bluebird that Revived ConversationIn the beginning, there were corner grocery stores where proprietors talked face to face with their customers about their goods. Then individual stores became national chains and managed by far away corporate offices where marketing messages were scripted and passed down to be passed on unaltered.

The result. Conversations dried up. Communication became one-way, controlled, and void of all authenticity. Remote marketing officers fell into the illusion that they were managing and maintaining customer relationships. Far from it.

Then social media shifted everything back to one great big small town. A new generation of communicators stepped in insisting their companies engage customers in real-time conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Four Square, Live Chat, and more.

Thanks to social media, customer-driven relationships are back, according to Gary Vaynerchuk, author of the Thank You Economy. Good marketers talk to their customers about life and how their passions or needs are impacted by their products. Less enlightened marketers continue to try to shove products down their customers’ throats with as little to no conversation.

Social media corporate stars such as V8, NY Jets, Martell Home Builders, Zappos, Southwest Airlines are succeeding despite the economy. Lagging companies such as AT&T, Zagat, Nestle that are not adapting to Web 2.0 fast enough or are screwing up their social media as evidenced by their shrinking marketshare.

To win at social media, Print 2.0 Vaynerchuck suggests:

  • Commit to social media
  • Set the tone by being real and throwing away the scripts
  • Invest in employees
  • Empower your people by opening a “Give a Crap” Department
  • Get back to the basics using today’s technology to maintain one-on-one customer touch points (email, Twitter, white papers, Facebook, electronic coupons)
  • Speak with passion and be truly interested. Customers can sniff out companies who try to fake it
  • Talk to your customers as people vs. trying to pick their pockets
  • Make your customers feel like royalty by responding to their every email

To humanize your company when using social media, use these five tips:

  1. Use Your Name. Putting a name (that’s a real, human name) on your blog posts, tweets or status updates shows your audience that you’re not a robot or an automated stream of sales pitches and company news.
  2. Add a Face. By putting a blogger’s photo or the picture of the communication team on your accounts you give followers an idea about whom they’re working with and who is behind the keyboard.  If you prefer to use the company or product logo, you can still add real photos elsewhere under the meet the team or about us page.
  3. Connect with People Through Your Writing Voice.  Now that they know your name and what you look like, let them get a sense of who you really are by your personality through your writing, posts, or tweets.
  4. Listen. Interact with your audience in the right way by really listening to what they have to say and how they say it. How do they interact with you? How do they interact with each other? Listening, as opposed to talking (or selling), allows you to connect with your customers.
  5. Remember Why You’re There.  Participating in social media is a must, but have a clear objective as to why you’re doing it. Otherwise you’re just adding to the noise.

You’re on social media to listen, monitor, respond, fix problems, and build relationships with your customers. Don’t let the channel confuse you. Social media channels are just tools to get us back in pleasant conversation with our customers even though we may be continents away.


How Would You Like to Send That?

98032319 250x374 How Would You Like to Send That?

Paper or plastic? Both are possible with direct mail.

First Class,standard class, or Fed X? Again all three and more are possible with direct mail, which is scalable to your budget depending on the overall strategy and of course the budget.

What’s my point? That direct mail is relevant. In fact, it’s thriving despite increases in postal rates, despite social media popularity, despite a growing number of other marketing channel choices.

In the July 2011 issue of Journal of Marketing, the results of a research project on multi-channel marketing (telephone calls, email, direct mail) for the service department of a large auto dealership was reported. Research found that customers accepted about twice as much direct mail, compared to phone calls and email, before spending levels started to decrease. The researchers hypothesized that “customers view physical mail as less intrusive than telephone calls or email—they can view such messages at their own convenience.”

We’ve pulled these facts that show direct mail is alive and being ripped open and read despite all the hype about consumers clicking and tweeting away on their digital devices instead:

  • 61% of consumers prefer direct mail over other types of direct marketing
  • 85% – say they open, sort, process and read selected pieces from their mail everyday. 15% let it accumulate unopened for 2 or more days
  • 75% of consumers say they are examining their mail more closely in recent months for coupons and special offers that save them money
  • 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct mail from that business
  • 70% report renewing a relationship with a business they previously ceased patronizing, as a result of receiving direct mail from the business inviting them back

SOURCE:  DMNews Survey Conducted by Pitney Bowes, 2008

It’s funny, and a reminder of staying power, to look back on some of our modern day advancements. Below are five examples of products that have become obsolete and five that have stood the test of time, including direct mail which has been around since at least 1872.

Stood Test of Time
Beepers or Pagers Newspapers (since 1620)
Car phones. Land Lines Direct Mail (since 1872 with Montgomery Ward catalogs)
Camera Film Ice Cream Trucks (1936)
Printed Yellow Page Directories Parades (1924 with Macy’s Thanksgiving parade)
Records, VHS, CD players Town Hall Meetings (since 1633)

clip image002 250x283 How Would You Like to Send That?Perhaps direct mail’s staying power and sales-conversation impact is why direct mail is Google’s best-kept marketing secret. Yes the king of online, mails for sales. It regularly mails to business people to sign up new customers for its PPC (pay for click) program.

So harness the power of direct mail in 2012. It’s the best-kept secret for companies who are surveying, fundraising, launching, re-launching, expanding, moving, publishing, cataloging, and staying relevant and in the black in their business sector today.