Archive for June, 2012

Hunter’s Association Uses Direct Mail to Target License Renewals

Hunter, Aim, TargetA trade association for hunting enthusiasts and gun manufacturers is helping states ramp up license renewals through direct mail and social media. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) gave the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation a $35,000 grant to design and mail a black and white postcard to outdoorsmen to renew their hunting licenses.

License renewals are important revenue generators for states that depend on renewal dollars to underwrite conservation efforts. So the State of New York was thrilled when its mailing received a 2.3% response rate, bringing in 777 renewals at $61.50 a license for a revenue influx of $47,786.

The Director of Industry Research and Analysis Jim Curcuruto attributes the plainness and official look of the postcards to the mailing’s success. Fancier-looking direct mail pieces are more likely to be discarded, Curcuruto says, whereas the official government looking ones they mail pulled well when measured against a control group of 331,854 license holders.


Kentucky Hunters Get the Renewal Nudge via Direct Mail

hunters, wildlife, kentuckyThe Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resource (KDFWR) put a $75,000 grant from NSSF to good use by building a Facebook page. KDFWR’s Facebook page builds a bond among hunters who enjoy a venue for posting their prize catches or kills and learning about Kentucky fish and wildlife. It doesn’t hurt that the KDFWR Facebook page incorporates sweepstakes, video and a place to renew or purchase hunting and fishing licenses.

The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resource Facebook page went from 5,422 active users in November 2011 to 11,503 in February 2012 and is now up to 32,444 “likes” as of Memorial Day 2012. The sales of Kentucky state temporary hunter education exemption permits rose 12.9% when the social channel was added.

Facebook is a nice addition to Kentucky Wildlife’s communications channels, but direct mail has been its driving force behind its license renewals for the past 14 years, according to Michael Gray, Public Affairs Manager at FDFWR.

Gray says it mails between 300,000 and 500,000 pieces of direct mail per year to its prospects and members. The direct mail contains one call to action – renew or buy your license – that drive members to three resources to do so (1) 940 vendor sites such as Walmart (2) the state’s website or (3) a call center that handles payment processing.

Kentucky Wildlife gets a 2% to15% response rate on its direct mail with its Elk Hunt renewals always scoring in the double digits. “It’s all about cross selling and repetition,” says Gray who credits the organization’s success to sending multiple requests and cross promoting a call to action that gives recipients multiple ways to respond.

Only 20% of Kentucky Wildlife members choose to renew on its website. Adding Facebook as a social media channel gives members an additional option other than telephone and walk-in payments. Additional options only help to increase the organization’s revenues.

Both New York Game and Kentucky Department of Wildlife show cross media marketing gets the job done and the hunter out of the house and into the field or stream.


Facts and statistics from May 2012 issue of Chief Marketer


QR Code Lead Future Generations to Content and Historical Information

Qr Code, 2d barcode, mobile marketing QR Codes® are now being placed on tombstones. There are even smart phone apps that read tombstone QR codes and allow family members to read biographies, see family photo albums and a family tree showing which trunk the deceased resided followed.

If your company is currently using QR Codes to take prospects to instant gratification such as a time-sensitive coupon or seasonal offer, terrific. However, consider the long-term as well as short-term ROI?

Imagine it is 2112 and your company is celebrating its centennial anniversary. As part of the big day your public relations agency sponsors a citywide geocaching treasure hunt to unearth a time capsule that can only be unlocked with a QR Code that will lead the winner to corporate prizes of historic value tied to your products or services.

Levi Strauss could use QR Codes to lead geocachers to 100-year old jeans worth up to $17,000 according to some recent eBay bids or a bank or investment firm could lead treasure hunters with QR Codes to buried collectible coins dated the same year as the anniversary of their company.

The beauty of QR Codes is the landing page or microsite you lead your customer to can be updated and changed as often as needed over time making your campaign timeless.

Is the founder of your company forward thinking enough to be followed, quoted, and covered in the media through the decades? If so consider building a microsite you can lead admirers and analysts to through a quick response (QR) code that summarizes the high points of those business beliefs.

Print QR Codes on bookmarks that can be given away in the biography section of local libraries or bookstores near your headquarters, franchises or stores. Are you thinking strategically in your use of QR Codes as they can be used in public relations campaigns, not just in direct mail, multi-channel campaigns, and integrated marketing? Think about QR usages in 5, 10, and 100 year increments for product or corporate anniversaries.


Timeless Uses of QR Codes

Qr Code, 2d Barcode, mobile marketing

While QR Codes are great to illicit a quick response, what applications can you imagine to unharness a huge response – even if it’s planning years ahead? Below is a possible list of timeless uses you can incorporate with the use of two-dimensional bar codes.

  • Mapping for scavenger hunts and geocaching events
  • Marketing of museum exhibits
  • Commissioning of artwork, murals, new logo announcements
  • Announcing of corporate time capsules
  • Releasing of corporate anthologies, biographies
  • Showcasing of info on headquarter rooftops, (like Phillips in Austin did below)
  • Unveiling of leadership bronze statues or corporate headquarter signage

Yes QR Codes can pay dividends in your cross media marketing right here, right now, but what are you doing to land your company on the cover of Deliver, Fast Company or in marketing history books for forward thinking integrated marketing or out of the ballpark PR? Wouldn’t it be a coup for your company to be referred to every time QR strategy is mentioned 50 years from now just like Steve Jobs is in every innovation lecture?

Look into the future and build the ultimate content campaign for generations to enjoy and talk about. The potential of QR Codes in your business’ future is immense; far bigger than a one by one square on a postcard.


QR Codes are a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

Small Businesses Look Big and Get Huge Results with VDP

Small, Mighty, Effective, AntsVariable Data Printing (VDP), a printing method which allows the printed content to change within a single press run, is no longer cutting edge. So if you’re not using it now, then when?

With the ability to drive return on investment up to 30 to 40 percent, why not take advantage of printing different impressions on each piece without having to stop or slow down the press?

VDP Makes Your Small Business, Mighty

Gone are the days when only major mailers and Fortune 500 companies have the budget, staff and ability to leverage the personalization powers of variable printing. Today smaller businesses and online catalogers such as Big Dee’s, an online equine and canine catalog company, use VDP (variable data printing) as a tool for smarter campaigns.

Postcard, variable data printing, vdp, big dees, dog, house, direct mail, direct marketingWhen Big Dee’s wanted to launch a monthly mailing campaign to generate subsequent purchases from current customers, it decided to use purchase history to craft a VDP campaign.

Though Big Dee’s hadn’t previously used direct mail, it decided direct mail was the ideal medium to both thank customers for recent orders and create special offers on similar merchandise. Big Dee’s identified “people who bought this item also bought at that time.” With a database of more than 35,000 households, the cataloger hired a consultant to match individual purchase histories with a forecast of what else that individual might purchase.

Big Dee’s mailed an oversized postcard for the first cross-sell. The front of the postcard featured six products and their prices. The back of the card showed three more products and prices, and offered a discount for placing another order. A promo code on the postcard was required to get the discount—a process that also allowed Big Dee’s to track results.

After just one mailing, tentative results produced $40,000 in additional sales.

Here are the data points that fueled Big Dee’s VDP direct mail campaign:

  • Name data: The customer’s name was used prominently in the “thank you” on the front of the postcard and to lead off the message on the back.
  • Previous purchase data: The product purchased previously and its price point was used to drive the other featured products, making the up sell attempt more powerful and effective.

Getting Started with VDP

If the whole process of pulling together a variable data project has you overwhelmed, start by segmenting what you’ve already captured in your customer database or customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you think you don’t have data, consider segmenting your list by information that is almost certainly in your database:

  • Geographic location
  • Membership segment or donor contribution history
  • Name
  • Purchase history
  • Social media participation

After you segment, think what message you should craft to each target segment.  Craft a personal message in a way that is sure to boost your results. Proper targeting added with proper messaging and enhanced with powerful personalization equals better response results.

The beauty of VDP is allowing businesses of all sizes to speak to their customers one-on-one again rather than the less effective, highly wasteful method of mass marketing.

Source: Inside Direct Mail, November 2009


Use QR Codes to Be More Likable

likeable, facebook, qr codeOne of the most powerful social media tools available to marketers today is the Facebook “like” button. The “like” button instantly updates people who have liked you and your business. Now you can more easily accomplish the desirable action of requesting someone to “like” your Facebook page after scanning a QR Code®. It’s a natural bridge to transport a customer from a direct mail piece or variable data print (VDP) piece to your fan page.

Linking offline business and social engagement with QR Codes is extremely lucrative. And somehow incorporating mobile marketing into your integrated marketing is important given mobile phones outnumber televisions sets four to one today. According to the value of social for an e-commerce store or business is:

Facebook Share: $14

Facebook Like:  $8

Twitter Tweet:  $5

Twitter Follow: $2

With these values in mind the top three most popular Facebook pages are pulling in the money through the sales that accompany their “likes.” Here are what Texas Hold ‘em Poker, Facebook, and Eminem “likes” are worth according to

MOST LIKED on FB             # OF LIKES                            VALUE OF LIKES

Texas Hold’em Poker           41, 979,027                            $335,832, 216

Facebook                            39,367,404                             $314, 939,232

Eminem                               35,044,405                             $272,355,240

So how do you use QR Codes to drive more likes to your business’ fan page? Likify is a free service that not only allows you to create a QR Code for liking your Facebook Page, but to also insert an image above the code that clearly identifies your business via a video, logo, or product shot.


Back to the LIKE Basics

Focusing on driving your prospect or customer to take one action is powerful. Mobile marketers know that the KISS principal is important. Using QR Codes directed to Facebook Fan Pages with an offline call to action such as “Like us!” can greatly increases social follows and engagement.

Increasing brand loyalty is a doable objective as opposed to getting someone to purchase your product after scanning a QR Code. Remember it’s the power of social engagement that can take your company far. Many marketers aren’t making the connection to social media when their print or direct mail campaigns integrate a QR Code.  62% of the time those codes lead a user to a website and only 8% to something shareable via social media.

Often directing prospects to a website may be a “one and done” solution. Maybe they will scan the code, go to your site, click off, and remember your brand later. Maybe not. However if you get the prospect to “like” your company’s Facebook page, they will be constantly updated on everything you have to engage around. This is a simple concept that is too often overlooked.

Don’t over complicated things. Instead, let get back to the basics of proving to customers we are likable and showing we have respectable products and services that may be of interest. Perhaps Sally Fields said it best in her 1995 acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.

I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

*QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave

Two Fitness Centers Exercise Direct Mail to Drive in New Members

Health clubs have withstood tough economic times. Since 1992 the number of health clubs has increased 40 percent and membership has grown by almost 60 percent from 20.8 million to 32.8 million, according to a Trends Report published by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

So what’s the downside if the number of healthclubs and its members have grown to this extent? The Achilles tendon is for health center operators not to fall into the lazy thinking common in the boom of the 80s – a build it and they will come mentality.

The clubs that failed to build direct marketing campaigns with a firm understanding of the dynamic nature of their consumers, saw their membership numbers decrease and soon thereafter, their doors close. The same can happen today if such lazy thinking creeps in again.

Title Boxing, Postcard, Direct Mail, Direct Marketing, Print Mail













Title Boxing Club Throws a One-Two Punch with Direct Mail

Title Boxing’s aggressive workout and marketing program are far from lazy. Title Boxing promotes an intense body workout and 1,000 calorie an hour burn with its total boxing program. The boxing chain is piggybacking on the “extreme” workout craze made popular by Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo® Fitness and Tony Horton’s P90X home program.

In the Kansas City marketplace, one Title Boxing Club is becoming the heavy weight champion of marketing – direct mail via oversized postcards. By mailing 6×11 four-color postcards regularly to around 30,000 homes near its gym, it only needed a handful of new members to sign up at $60 a month for a year membership to breakeven. It received 70 new members from its last mailing that offered a complimentary workout, ½ off enrollment and a free pair of boxing gloves with a membership agreement.


Ballys 11 1024x238 Two Fitness Centers Exercise Direct Mail to Drive in New MembersBallys 21 1024x238 Two Fitness Centers Exercise Direct Mail to Drive in New MembersBally’s Tests Variable Dating Printing for Extraordinary Return in Ethnic Markets

Bally’s Total Fitness provides total fitness through fitness, nutrition, and all a person could want for wellness under one roof. However, it was approached by a variable data evangelist urging them to allow him to guide them through a test of one-to-one direct marketing to increase its membership among Hispanic, Korean, and African Americans.

Bally’s said yes to producing the variable data print piece, which included a six-panel, mailer with perforated membership cards on the inside fold shown below. Both the images and the text were triggered by the recipient’s gender and ethnicity. Even the language was variable from piece to piece, based on a trigger in the data. If the acquired data indicated the prospect was a native speaker of Spanish or Korean then the language on their mail piece reflected that information.

The test mailing of 15,000 pieces was divided between three New Jersey Bally’s locations with low membership rates. The mailer instructed the recipient to punch out the trial membership card and bring it in to Bally’s for a free two-week trial membership. The trial membership number, barcode and recipient name were printed on an image of a hand holding a Bally’s membership card (see image above).

The test mailing produced $18,000 in new membership revenue at just one of the three locations. Similar new membership applications later came in at the other two locations.

What is your company doing to keep its new business numbers healthy? Are you using variable data printing for the ultimate knock-out in ROI results or falling back on a less strategic methodology that’s leaving your results anorexic.

Fast Company Advertisers Accelerate Engagement with QR Codes

Fast Company, magazineFast Company is the gospel for entrepreneurs wanting to learn success secrets from entrepreneurial greats such as Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Crumpacker of Chipotle. Dorsey was featured on the front cover of Fast Company’s March 2012 issue, which covered the 50 most innovative companies in the world.

In that same March issue you can do a quick flip through 150 pages of “fast” companies on the leading edge and see who is hunting, who is skinning, and who is showing marketing moxie using QR Codes® that make Fast Company readers want to scan, engage, and perhaps buy.

I loved the advertisement by Manta in this Fast Company issue.  And, at first I didn’t want to read the text-heavy advertisement by PNC bank, but found myself reading every word of Eric Abbey’s story (Eric is a fast growing manufacturer of pet products).

QR Code, direct marketing, 2-d barcode, scanManta Drives Sales with QR Code

Manta is an online directory geared to small businesses that want to increase Internet-driven sales.  Manta’s ad features Larry, owner of Grandma’s Italian Cheesecake, smiling with a scrumptious cake in hand and QR Code cleverly placed on the oven’s dial begging prospects to turn up the heat on their business by hearing Larry’s success story.

Manta’s QR Code leads to a terrific one-minute testimonial from small business owner Larry positioned by the waterside sharing how sales have jumped from 10 to 50 orders a week because of Manta. It doesn’t hurt that they sprinkle in that Larry went from banker to baker in part of a layoff and has hit the kitchen running thanks to Manta’s jump-start.

Until next week, happy skimming, planning, testing, and engaging your prospects with great content and QR Codes that seamlessly take your prospect from curious to customer.

QR Code, Direct Marketing, 2-d barcode, scanPNC Bank Engages Readers with Good Story and QR Code

PNC Bank takes a similar advertising approach by showcasing an existing customer who has overcome an obstacle.

In this copy heavy but thoroughly engaging ad, PNC shares how Loving Pet’s owner Eric Abbey was enjoying astronomical growth accompanied by the need for more cash to fill orders for fast selling products like the 330,000 Bella Bowls ordered that month.

The QR Code leads to a full menu of customer videos, including Eric’s. The ad’s successful formula problem/solution was accentuated with a small move clip sharing that month’s happy ending about fulfilling those huge orders thanks to the help of PNC bank.

The moral of the Manta and PNC ads are the power of a well crafted consumer experience.  Give readers the opportunity to relate to the characters in the ad, how those characters had a problem and how the advertiser solved that problem.  It is simply an ad that becomes a case study – or vice versa.

Until next week, happy skimming, planning, testing, and engaging your prospects with great content and QR Codes that seamlessly take your prospect from curious to customer.

QR Code® is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

Retire Your 1980s Marketing Practices Along Side Your INXS Album

record, outdated, marketingThe 1980s Australian band, INXS (pronounced “in excess”) has yet to retire though critics plea that they reconsider.  The band’s name summarizes the excesses of that period, which include plenty of waste in the marketing industry — mass mailings, print overruns, static, soon-to-be-tossed collateral pieces, and one-way, non-triggered communication.

The spoilage and fallout of living to extremes or marketing to the masses has led us to today’s fine-tuned world of print on demand, variable data printing (VDP), and print automation. The pendulum has swung toward tighter controls, two-way communications, well-timed incentives, and just enough materials to get the job done and the results needed. Are you working smart or stuck in the world of give me 5,000 pieces instead of the 4,500 pieces really needed because it only costs me another $50 printing, one-way conversations, all delivered through one-channel vs. highly engaging multi-media campaigns?

When executed with tightly refined parameters and a laser-focused prospect list, VDP with multi-channel marketing is the new sensation because it generates higher results despite the smaller reach in most instances. Today’s marketing tools and digital print pieces reduce the cost of print communication by as much as 90% —shaving off the bottom half of the pyramid below.

With print on demand, there is no need to warehouse materials and no inventory obsolescence. Supplement print on demand with print automation and you also omit the last three line items at the base of the pyramid: external creative, internal creative, and fulfillment/distribution.

Printing, Communication, Marketing cost, obsolescence, cost of communication
Just in Time Printing Omits Waste

If you’ve ever had to throw away 7,000 image brochures because of a change in leadership, you’ve felt the pain of offset printing in today’s fast moving, ever-changing business climate.  It is Murphy’s Law that as soon as the annual report or other key piece gets printed, something will already be out of date.

Refine Your List, Blanketing Populations is So 80s

If you haven’t determined who your customer is, you can spend a lot of money blanketing populations of people and be missing those potential customers who are actually interested in your business.

If you’re pulling data from your internal database for your mailings, make sure your data is scrubbed and solid. A data quality survey revealed:

  • While 96.2 percent of organizations view data accuracy as an essential issue, nearly one-third of them don’t enforce it.
  • More than half of the respondents claim that at least 6 percent or more of the important information in their database is inaccurate or completely missing.
  • 63 percent of respondents say that five to thirty percent of their marketing budget is wasted as a result of bad data.

If you’re using an outside list company or broker for your marketing project, make sure it’s been cleaned or scrubbed (the process of detecting and removing or correcting any information in a database that has some sort of error).

Errors can be the result of human data entry error, merging of two databases, a lack of company-wide or industry-wide data coding standards, or due to old systems that contain inaccurate or outdated information.

When in doubt about the accuracy and deliverability of your list, hire a mailing expert or partner with a reputable mail house to provide:

  • Data Normalization
  • Data Migration
  • USPS CASS-Certified Address Cleaning, Parsing (Splitting)
  • USPS NCOA Processing, Duplicate Record Removal (AKA: “De-Dupe” or “Purge”), Data Standardization & Reformat
  • Genderization
  • Casing

Finally, make sure you’re using the tools of the 21st century in your marketing practices today and have retired the shotgun approach of the 80s. This is a period of refinement, not excess.