Archive for November, 2012

Why Your Direct Mail is Really Being Thrown Away

If your last several direct mail campaigns didn’t pull the results you wanted, perhaps it wasn’t because your competition one-upped you. Perhaps it was because your execution stunk (or deserved a thumbs down).

Direct mail works every time when executed correctly, as you will learn in our Behold the Power of Postcard article.

Pat McGraw, experienced marketer and adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University, agrees. “Yes, direct marketing works. It works in any industry when properly executed. Direct marketing is an interactive system of marketing which uses one or more advertising media to affect a measurable response and/or transaction at any location.”

According to the recently released 2012 Marketing-GAP report, fewer than 2% of people are “happy” to get marketing messages via text messaging and social media. In fact, marketers continue to “massively overestimate” the popularity of these channels.

Before you plan another Twitter, Facebook, SMS, or mobile media campaign, check out these additional findings from the eighth annual survey.

2012 marketing, direct mail, direct marketing,

Source: fast.MAP Marketing-GAP

  • One in 5 throw away direct mailings pieces without opening them.  Direct mail gets tossed unopened most often because:
    • 55% are not interested in the product
    • Not interested in the company (49%)
    • Object to being marketed to (44%).
  • 32% do not open mail that is not addressed to them (up from 23% just one year ago). Design and color was only noted by 2% and 4%, respectively, as a reason for not opening a marketing piece.
  • When asked why consumers toss their direct mailings without reading it, marketers overestimate by more than 300% the importance of lack of time (40% v. 11% as reported by consumers surveyed), by 600% the design; (17% v. 2%) and by 300% the envelope’s color (13% v. 4%).  Marketers’ estimations of two of the three most important reasons for disposal – “no interest in product” and “object to being sent marketing” – are more accurate, within 6% and 3% respectively.
  • The top direct mail pieces that are opened almost immediately: grocery stores (40%), travel/holiday (24%), credit card offers (23%).

The report states: “Marketers remain deaf to consumer demands and preferences by overestimating, frequently by hundreds of percent, people’s desire to be contacted via mobile, social media and Twitter. In fact, a sure way to alienate customers and prospects is to only provide information and offers through these routes. Only a minority of consumers can imagine a purely virtual retail world where real shops no longer exist and most think such a world would be a worse place.”

About: Conducted in August 2012. fast.Map partnered with The Institute of Promotional Marketing and The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). The research was sponsored by the Royal Mail. The consumer panel comprised 1,140 adults recruited from the 30,000 fast.MAP wholly-owned, closed panel whose profile echoes that of the UK’s population profile in age and gender.  Only people who are both mail and Internet responsive were selected for the panel. The marketers panel comprised 353 marketers, drawn from the fast.MAP marketing professionals’ panel and the IPM and IDM’s membership.

Source:, 2012 fast.Map Marketing GAP report, accessed October 10, 2012.


Study Confirms Direct Mail and Email Remain Preferred Channels

direct mail, mail, social, media

Results from study reveal why receiving “properly executed” direct mail still brings smiles to recipients and results to your company.

Social and mobile media are fast, popular and fairly inexpensive marketing channels, but your customers say they’re not keen on receiving marketing messages via these channels, according to the latest Marketing-GAP report by UK’s fast-MAP.

According to the 2012 GAP report, fewer than 2% of people are “happy” to get marketing messages via text messaging and social media. In fact, marketers continue to “massively overestimate” the popularity of these channels.

Before you plan another Twitter, Facebook, SMS or mobile media campaign, check out these additional findings from the eighth annual survey.

  • Eight out of 10 participants open direct mail. The percentage of consumers surveyed who open direct mail is 80%, a little above 2010 levels. A third (34%) state they open all direct mail, 45% only open messages from companies they use and 20% say they don’t open direct mailing.
  • Marketers underestimate the number of people who open mail. This year, marketers thought 24% of households would open all mail — 10% less than what consumers reported.
  • The top reasons consumers open their direct mail: it is from a known company/brand (55%), it is personalized (51%) and an interest in the product or service being promoted (44%). Marketers correctly identified the top five mail-opening criteria, but significantly underestimate the importance of a personal address while over-estimating the importance of criteria such as the package, its design, the look of the envelope and color.
  • SMS messaging and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, doubled in popularity over the past year–from 1% to 2%–as a means to receive marketing messages. Regardless, these numbers remain proportionally low compared to traditional means. While approximately 3 in 10 people “are happy to receive” marketing information by mail and email, overall fewer than 1 in 50 welcome contacts via the newer digital media, such as text messaging and social media.

Join us later this week when we reveal the other half of the study, which provides you with possible reasons your direct mail campaigns may or may not be pulling the numbers you desire.

About: Conducted in August 2012. fast.Map partnered with The Institute of Promotional Marketing and The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). The research was sponsored by the Royal Mail. The consumer panel comprised 1,140 adults recruited from the 30,000 fast.MAP wholly-owned, closed panel whose profile echoes that of the UK’s population profile in age and gender.  Only people who are both mail and internet responsive were selected for the panel. The marketers panel comprised 353 marketers, drawn from the fast.MAP marketing professionals’ panel and the IPM and IDM’s membership.

Source:, 2012 fast.Map Marketing GAP report, accessed October 10, 2012.


Variable Data Campaign Speaks Direct to Soy Bean Farmers

Mailbox, mail, data, inform, personalizeWith today’s technology, marketers don’t just get to personalize their message; they can personally tailor those messages. The technology is so slick, according to Dave Ward author of Variable Dating Integration – Taking You Wherever You Want to Go, your targeted messages don’t look like highly targeted messages, but like magic.

This magic worked well for PRO Seeds who turned an average farm journal into a marketing vehicle that spoke directly to their farm prospects – literally. Imagine that you run a 1,000-acre soybean operation in Canada. You come in after a hard day of chores, sit back in your recliner, put your feet up and start thumbing through your favorite agricultural magazine.

When you flip to page 12, something jumps right out and grabs your attention. There’s a postcard that is die-cut to look like a bag of soybean seeds – and it has your name on it. You can’t resist peeling the card off the page and finding on the back of the card three soybean seed varieties that are best suited specifically for your farming operation. (If you aren’t a farmer you may not realize that seed selection is specifically tailored to location, climate and soil.  All seeds are not created equal.)

You’re stunned. How could they know which seed varieties would work specifically for you; especially when you raise crops in five different heat zones? Behold the power of Variable Data Printing (VDP) or Variable Data Integration.

This is a true marketing campaign that worked wonderfully for PRO Seeds, who faced fierce competition for acres in Ontario where they only had 4% market share in 2011.

The campaign was a hit with farmers who loved the tailored messages specific to their farm, focus and heat zone. PRO Seeds experienced a lift in sales in regions where they had little penetration prior to this effort.


Ready to Harvest Your Clients Using VDP?

The challenge experienced by many marketers who want to execute a highly personalized campaign is the access to and quality of their database. Before executing a VDP campaign such as the one PRO Seeds conducted, you will need the following:

  • You must have the right data in the right fields.
  • Data must be properly and consistently formatted.
  • Data must be accurate.
  • Data must be useable in all of the required contexts.

Take the time to analyze your data to ensure the acceptability and accuracy of all substitutions. Don’t let bad data waterlog your campaign.

Variable Data Printing is a powerful tool that allows us to do some remarkable things, and the PRO Seeds card is really only one example of what can be done to tailor powerful messages for your customers.

In our 24 years of experience, Mail Print has found that VDP projects, should have the following elements:

  • The client or business must be open minded to delve deep into looking at all possible ways to pull the data available or gather the data needed to truly customize the marketing piece to address the customer or prospect on a knowledgeable, and in some cases an almost intimate, basis.
  • The client or business must want to innovate and lead with technology and be prepared for the work and rewards to ensure a successful campaign.
  • The client, agency or business must grasp the full scope – and magic – of what can be done with variable data.  Some campaigns we’ve executed include:
    • making covers of publications specific to each person or market segment;
    • making the tables, graphs, and figures in an insurance explanation brochure specific to that employee based on age, marital status, and worker class;
    • making a plastic surgery image brochure speak directly to the prospect who called in asking about a facelift, not lipo suction.

Like so many other endeavors, the success of any VDP project is as much in the details of the execution as it is in the creativity that inspired it.

SOURCE:  May 2012, Direct Marketing Magazine of Canada


U.S. Postal Service Adds Six Programs to Aid and Reward Marketers

104247545 250x166 U.S. Postal Service Adds Six Programs to Aid and Reward MarketersDid you know that the U.S. Postal Service is the only organization in the country that has the manpower, network and capacity to deliver mail to every residence and business in the United States? It is the mega force behind a $900 billion industry that drives commerce and connects every American.

Last year alone the Postal Service delivered 168 billion pieces of mail and conducted $10 trillion in commerce. However because it employs more than 8 million people, paying out 1.9 billion in salary and benefits every two weeks, it has had to re-examine its business model and make adjustments due to the five-year recession just like any other business.

Much to my hopeful expectations, the Postal Service has gathered some innovative minds to do just this. During the first quarter of 2013, the Postal Service is rolling out an impressive list of six new services that will reward and encourage businesses to mail first class, mail product samples, incorporate mobile coupons, and step up their successes by using picture permits on the exterior of a mail piece and more.

Specifically, six degrees of savings becomes available to postal customers in a few months. With the right promotion and education, these mailing promotions will reward businesses of all sizes, direct mail companies and advertising agencies to leverage savings, technologies and incentives finally embraced by the once stagnant Postal Service. Hard times have led to concrete programs meant to help businesses instead of pricing postage out of reach for large-scale or first-class mailings.


Six Postal Mailing Programs to Earn Your 2013 Direct Mail Spend

  • Mobile Coupon/Click-to-Call: This promotion provides businesses upfront postage discounts for combining mail with mobile technology. The promotion raises the value of direct mail in two ways (1) it encourages customers to integrate printed coupons in the mail with mobile platforms for redemption (2) it drove consumer awareness by persuading them to scan mobile barcodes that provide click-to-call incentives and information. Customer registration begins Jan. 15, 2013.
  • Earned Value Reply Mail Promotion: Why send bulk rate, when the Postal Service will give you a postage credit for every First-Class Mail Business Reply and Courtesy Reply envelope that a customer returns and that is scanned in the postal network? This promotion is designed to reward mailers who promote First-Class Mail as a primary reply mechanism for their customers and who keep the Business Reply Mail (BRM) and Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) envelopes in their marketing programs. Customer registration begins Jan. 1, 2013.
  • Emerging Technologies: Building on the successes of past mobile barcode promotions, this promotion provides an upfront 2 percent postage discount for customers who integrate specific emerging technologies into their mail campaigns. Such technologies include near-field communication, augmented reality and mobile-enabled authentication or QR Code® technologies. This promotion is designed to elevate awareness of how innovative technologies can be integrated with a direct mail strategy to enhance the value of direct mail. Customer registration begins June 15, 2013.
  • Picture Permit: The Picture Permit promotion helps businesses grab attention and drive home their brand by being able to customize their permit indicia by adding a logo, brand image or trademarks. During this promotion businesses or customers that mail First-Class or Standard Mail letters and cards, will not have to pay the permit fee. Customer registration begins June 15, 2013.
  • Product Samples: Designed to re-invigorate product sampling via the mail, the Product Samples promotion will provide mailers with an upfront postage discount on qualifying mail that contains product samples. The promotion will raise awareness of the effectiveness and value of having samples delivered to the home and highlight the new proposed “Simple Samples” pricing in Standard Mail, effective Jan. 27, 2013. Customer registration begins May 1, 2013.
  • Mobile Buy-it-Now: Mailers will receive an upfront 2 percent postage discount for building in customer interaction and engagement.  Combining direct mail with mobile technology, especially during the holiday season, will be a win/win for businesses and consumers. Customer registration begins Sept. 15, 2013.

For additional information simply visit RIBBS. The Postal Service has stepped it up by posting user guides and just in time webinars to walk you through the programs. Need help interpreting or applying these new programs? Contact us directly.

*QR Code is a licensed trademark of DensoWave.


What This Year’s Top 50 Mailers List Teaches Us

147709964 250x166 What This Year’s Top 50 Mailers List Teaches Us

When the student is ready the teacher appears. This year’s direct mail teacher is the 2012 Top 50 Mailers List. While Direct TV, Suarez Corp and Habitat for Humanity fell off the list, eight huge companies topped the list that weren’t on it in 2011. The list is determined by sales volumes, as opposed to mailing volumes, as well as data provided by ALC, Who Mails What, Hovers, Charity Navigator, and SRDS.

  1. JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  2. Sprint/Nextel
  3. Dish Network
  4. Discover Financial Services
  5. Smithsonian Institute
  6. American Cancer Society
  7. American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  8. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee


Top Mailer Trends

Regardless of a roller coaster economy, some companies stayed the course.

  • Nonprofits continue to make up 50% of the top 50 mailers, which shows the power of “the letter” to bring in donations (25 nonprofits as compared to 23 in 2011).
  • The presidential and congressional elections and Special Olympics drove up the number of nonprofits on the list.
  • Catalogers were included this year because digital technologies and multichannel marketing are leveling the playing field when compared to other mailers.
  • The unprecedented economy and postal reform impacted marketers’ decisions to mail or not. Now that the U.S. Postal Service has hit its $15 billion borrowing limit, time will tell if they choose to implement more extreme measures other than cutting staff and closing postal offices like the thought of charging more to direct mail companies.
  • National disasters such as Hurricane Irene (and probably Sandy) increased mail volumes.
  • Technology is allowing marketers to truly marry their on- and offline marketing efforts.
  • Of the top 26 on the list, there are no banks or credit cards.


Lessons Learned

Susan Rappaport, president and CEO of ALC, a leading data provider, said she saw much more integration of offline and online marketing during the compilation of this year’s list. “And that’s allowing marketers to truly understand that direct mail, despite its expense, is still one of the most powerful mediums in driving online traffic,” said Rappaport.

SOURCE:  Target Marketing Magazine, Sept. 2012.

20 Pivotal Questions to Ask to Build Your Ideal Customer Profile

tailor, building, profileIf your boss asked you to build a thorough customer profile, would it take you an hour, a day, or a week? More importantly how would you go about building this profile? Below is a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

It sounds simple, but do you REALLY know who your ideal customers are?  You should have a customer profile for each one of your products and services because it gives you a clear picture of who you’re selling to and allows you to develop strategies to communicate more effectively.

This is a vital exercise for all businesses.

20 Questions: Who Is Your Key Customer?

  1. What would a customer buy from you?
  2. What advantages do you want to sell them specifically? (Ex: If you sell air conditioning units, you are really selling comfort, cost savings, air purification, humidity control, no sweat stains, comfortable sleeping)
  3. Describe your typical customer.
  4. What is their age?
  5. Are they male or female?
  6. Where do your ideal customers live geographically?
  7. How do they earn a living?
  8. Describe your ideal customers’ likes and dislikes.
  9. Why would this person be interested in your product, company or service?
  10. Why would they buy from you as opposed to someone else?
  11. What does a customer want from your product or service?
  12. What makes your product or service more suitable to them than your competitors’ products or services?
  13. What are the most common specifications or types of orders your customers request?
  14. What factors are your customers likely to consider before making a purchase?
  15. What do they tell you they value about your deliverables?
  16. How will your ideal customer find out about your product or service?  What sites do they visit, what stores do they shop in, where do they get their coffee?
  17. What have your most recent ideal customers said about your product or service?
  18. How does the cost of your product/service influence your customer’s decision to buy?
  19. List all the ways you currently contact your potential ideal customers.  What is their preferred method of being contacted?
  20. What does your ideal customer tell you they value in your product or service?

Now you have a clearer view of your ideal customer (both hard and soft characteristics). Don’t go outside this target market.


Build Your Customer Profile Electronically in 5 Steps

Once you have answers to your customer profile questionnaire, it’s time to get your data into working order. If you don’t have an IT manager in-house, find a reputable vendor with strong service and tech background to assist.

  1. Hold a Scope of Work Meeting. Layout your core needs, including understanding your customer(s) and aligning your budget and goals. Discuss challenges like not having enough buyers or taking in orders far beneath set quotas.
  2. Hand off Your Customer Information. Give your IT manager or mail list processing partner all your customer information for the past 18 to 24 months. Provide everything, including name, title, phone numbers, email, mailing addresses and purchase history if available.
  3. Get a Snapshot Report or X-ray Report created of Your Ideal Customers. Partner with an outside mail list processing partner, and compare your file against a national database of businesses or consumers.  They will identify key characteristics of your current customer list. There are a lot of vendors out there, so if you need help picking a partner, call us, and we can help with the process. There are a lot of nuances in the variety of reports.  Be sure you understand why one type of report is better than another before selecting.
  4. Identify Key Data Elements in Your File. Pinpoint the common characteristics of your current customers, and use that information when you search for leads.  Now that you have a better understanding of who your ideal customers are, it should be easy to purchase a list of leads that match your customer profile.
  5. Reap the Rewards of Your Work. The end result is a perfectly clear image of your ideal customer profile from the database your customers were matched against. This becomes your target prospect pool, which is by far more rich and apt to bear fruit than any list you would buy based on simple selections of income/sales revenue or any of the various al a carte demographic characteristics available from a list broker.

Defining your ideal customer profile is Direct Marketing 101, and it will save you lots of time and money in the long run.

Source:  Reach Marketing


Creating Meaningful Relationships with Small Business

This post, originally entitled B2-SmallB : A Perspective, was written by Judy Rudolph Begehr, Senior Vice President of Account Planning for Gyro, and was featured in our June/July 2012 issue of Connect Magazine.


B2-SmallB : A Perspective

small business, insight, business to consumer, b2cAs a member of the Enterprise Council on Small Business (ECSB) for the last three years, Gyro has access to a wealth of proprietary research and has developed substantial institutional knowledge on the art and science of creating meaningful engagement with the SMB (small and medium sized businesses). In general terms, the following insights reflect common attitudes and behaviors of the SMB decision maker.

The entrepreneur’s go-to location for information on products and services is the seller’s website, followed closely by word-of-mouth from other business owners. To deliver a positive online media experience, marketers should focus on the elements of experience that matter – not only to drive purchases but also positive word-of-mouth. According to recent research by ECSB, two tiers of elements in the online experience matter most.

The “tier 1” elements that matter include: being efficient (responds quickly, anticipates my needs, provides backup communication options), and being customer oriented (understanding my business and respecting my time). The “tier 2” elements provide greater specificity around building a good online experience.

In general, the SMB is a loyal group that identifies most with other owners in their industry, suggesting that vertical segmentation is an ideal approach to targeting small businesses. But market shifts can reverse the small business owner’s predisposition to loyalty, causing him to re-evaluate established vendor relationships, often in favor of local suppliers.

An important insight into the small business owner psyche was uncovered by ECSB around the desire to buy local. Seems it’s less about an affinity for local providers, and more about an aversion for national providers. Behind this predisposition are two critical drivers: convenience and relationship. Messaging to the small business owner will have greater impact if it’s crafted to directly address these drivers. It should clearly demonstrate how your offering provides positive business impact, while providing assurance of prompt, readily available service by an organization that not only knows their industry but also understands their business.

Most small business owners are worried about holding on to their own customers and keeping their businesses afloat. Business-to-business purchase decisions often are propelled on an emotional level by risk avoidance. It’s important to gather insights on your audiences’ specific pain points and, particularly, their fears. It’s emotional selling 101.

According to ECSB, solving the small business owner’s fears drives trust. Trust can lead to a sense of control. The greatest source of power in building trust is reliably delivering on your brand promise and providing an experience that makes the small business owner feel certain that you understand what they need and that you’ll deliver what they need fast.

Because budgets are smaller, there’s greater scrutiny over every expense. The SMB owner makes purchase decisions through the goggles of an internal “success filter” – if they see the product or service will help them succeed, they’re more likely to make the purchase. Audience insights should be used to communicate with SMB audiences in ways that clearly, and, if possible, tangibly demonstrate the value of your offering based on their business needs.

According to ECSB research, at the highest level, many small business owners measure their success based on mastery of their trade. Beneath this level, small business owners cluster by their success driver, each with unique profiles and messaging hot buttons.

ECSB research suggests that additional things can be done through messaging to enhance the perception of value and to expand relationships with local small business customers. These include: personalize your communications, highlight length of relationships (example: American Express’s “Member Since”) and your historical quality, and tailor your messaging to resonate not only with the persona, but also the geographic region.

It is critical to nurture and protect all existing relationships to leverage the small business owner’s tendency to stick with those they trust. Shore up your loyal local customers, reinforce their decision to work with your brand and, as ECSB says, “make your customers your local presence by mobilizing your local advocates.”