Archive for February, 2013

Two QR Code Advertisements Hooked Me in Six Words or Less

If you follow this blog, you know I criticize advertisers that cram too much copy or too many visual elements into their ads. This week’s advertisers do neither.

Sleep Number Bed and demonstrate how to execute a clean ad with a simple six-word hook as a headline and appropriately placed QR Code® that does a nice job of luring prospects into the next buying or emotional chamber of the sales process.


Sleep Number Bed Gets in Reader’s Head in Order to Get Them Into Their Bed

The headline, “This Is Not Just a Bed” begs to be answered. Then what more is it? The photograph of the bed in a reading or TV watching formation re-emphasizes that it truly is not just a bed because my bed at home doesn’t conform to that position. My traditional bed (mattress and box springs) has only one position: horizontal.

Sleep Number’s ad gives readers several options. They can read the headline, initial copy and scan the QR Code if they’re skimmers or they can do all of the above, plus read the next two copy sections on Sleep Number bedding accessories and how to avoid buying a knock off. This gives detail-driven shoppers more facts to absorb without overwhelming them.

I love the way the QR code sits temptingly to the left, not overwhelming the layout, but simply begging to be scanned so prospects can enjoy a video explaining the patented dual air technology that Sleep Number uses to ensure each person in bed gets a restful sleep because their side is adjusted to exactly their preference and pressure points.

bed Two QR Code Advertisements Hooked Me in Six Words or Less’s Ad Opens the Door & Gets You to Take a Seat and Listen

Hurrah for for getting my attention with six mere but mighty words – “Your Story Can Change Someone Else’s.”

drug free3 Two QR Code Advertisements Hooked Me in Six Words or Less then reeled me in to watch and hear from addicts who got clean after I scanned its QR Code and was directed to videos and testimonials galore.

There is not a more effective or budget conscious ad than a type-based ad that is well done and puts the QR Code in a quote bubble, which indicates there are stories waiting behind QR Code.

These poignant stories were worth my scan and can be read at “The Hope Share” campaign URL. aims to share these stories of addiction and recovery to break through the stigma often associated with drug and alcohol, which some 13 year olds are now victims of.

The marketing campaign is multi-channel in nature with six billboard spaces secured pro bono in Times Square. What a great effort to reach a huge population (around 500,000 people on foot walk through Times Square each day).  Keep in mind that addiction is prevalent; statistics indicate that each person is connected to someone through six degrees of separation that is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

time square Two QR Code Advertisements Hooked Me in Six Words or Less

With the successful execution of these two ad campaigns by this retail and nonprofit giant, I’m surprised more entities aren’t including a QR Code as a measurement and sales funnel mechanism in their ads. After all, a QR Code just takes up a very small portion of your ad. Yet it can convert, trace, inspire, and depending on the landing page — change lives and give hope.

QR Code is a registered trademark of Densowave.


Predictive Personalization Essential for Casinos

analytics, predictive, decisionCasino operators have cued in to the importance of analytics because as little as one percent of casino customers can drive as much as 20 percent of the company’s revenue.

This fact alone has spurred casinos into building sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track and reward customer loyalty to increase the returns from select customers and retain them for the long term.

One tool being used by casinos is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is using statistics to analyze current and historical facts to make future predictions about a customer’s behavior.

For some casinos, as little as a five percent improvement in customer retention can lead to a fifty percent gain in profitability. Author Clive Pearson explains in Double Down on Your Data that by using predictive analytics, Harrah’s was able to identify a small group of customers who accounted for 30 percent of their overall customers.

They then learned that these particular customers spent between $100 and $499 per trip but actually accounted for about 80 percent of the casino’s revenue and 100 percent of its profits.

By using data mining and predictive analytics, casinos keep their highest value customers happier longer and take high-value customers away from the competition. Furthermore, predictive analytics can help casinos pinpoint customers who are most likely to “defect” from the competition with enough lead time to allow casino employees to intervene and possibly retain these highly valuable, hard to recapture customers.


Which of the Three Predictive Analytics is Your Casino Using?

The world of data has evolved. In the beginning companies would look at past events to predict future activity as gleaned from information management systems from the 1970s. Then drill-down technology of the 1980s led to data warehousing, which allowed more complex data querying. Then predictive modeling and optimization rang in the new millennium.
Now you can use one of three types of data analytics:

  1. Predictive – using past performance to predict future customer behavior.
  2. Descriptive – identifying different relationships between customers or groups.
  3. Decision – using the above information to predict outcomes or complex decisions, relationships, products or processes.

Executed correctly predictive analytics can determine how much a customer is worth today and for his lifetime, which customers come together in groups, and which customer might abuse an incentive offer by using the free room and not gambling at all.

Pearson so eloquently puts it this way. “Do you want to lead the analytics horse to profitability…or follow it with a shovel?” The choice is clear.

How to Use the Pain Funnel to Drive Greater Direct Mail Response

When your product closely resembles another company’s product, the difference in which company earns the prospect’s business is often the company that can make the prospect feel enough pain to switch services to their company.

While many salespeople are trained to find pain, copywriters, account executives, and corporate marketers aren’t.  This is demonstrated when you flip through a stack of direct mail or magazine of ads. You’ll notice very few direct mail pieces that move prospects to the next level of the pain funnel.

pain funnel1 How to Use the Pain Funnel to Drive Greater Direct Mail Response


Understanding how to push the “pain” buttons of prospects in your direct mail copy and other marketing or sales materials will help you better position your offer drive towards a sale, according to sales trainer Jason Dixon of Neuberger and Company.


Words that Describe Feeling of Pain

When trying to make a prospect remember just how many headaches, annoyances, and dollars a problem is causing them, use these words in your marketing messages:

Aggravated Exasperated Left Out Spiteful
Alarmed Fed Up Lost Struggling
Angry Flustered Mad Stunned
Annoyed Foggy Miserable Stupid
Anxious Frantic Mixed-up Tense
Apprehensive Frightened Muddled Terrible
Baffled Frustrated Nervous Terrified
Betrayed Furious On Edge Thwarted
Bewildered Guilty Outraged Timid
Blue Helpless Overwhelmed Tired
Burdened Horrible Panicky Trapped
Cheated Horrified Perturbed Troubled
Confused Hurt Powerless Unclear
Crushed Ignored Pressured Undecided
Defeated Imposed Upon Put Out Unqualified
Despairing Ineffective Put Upon Unsure
Desperate Inept Revengeful Victimized
Dissatisfied Infuriated Sad Vulnerable
Distraught Intimidated Scared Washed Up
Disturbed Irritated Shocked Worried
Enraged Isolated Seething


Headlines, Callouts, and Subheads that Bring the Pain

Flip through a newspaper, trade journal, magazine or direct mail piece and see how many companies are pushing pain well. I did and estimate that one in 35 headlines or advertisements appeal to a pain point.

These are the ones I found in a thirty-minute search. Just think how your company could improve your marketing and sales conversations or clickthroughs on your landing pages by being one of 35 companies in your niche to leverage the pain funnel.right channel2 How to Use the Pain Funnel to Drive Greater Direct Mail Response

generations more How to Use the Pain Funnel to Drive Greater Direct Mail Response

the silent cry How to Use the Pain Funnel to Drive Greater Direct Mail Responseyour laptop How to Use the Pain Funnel to Drive Greater Direct Mail Response

Fear-based or pain-based advertising is one of the most effective forms available. People are either motivated by fear or desire.  There is LOTS of research that points to the fact that people will move away from pain faster than they will move towards pleasure.  Broadview Security uses fear-based advertising very effectively in this TV spot below.

Review your last few campaigns and if they aren’t focused on pain, you may be missing prospect engagement.  Pull your team together and brainstorm about the downside of not using your product or buying an inferior product or service than yours. Describe in detail the type of pain or frustration your prospect will experience by not using your service at all. Let us know your results.


Quit Pitting Digital against Print – Cross Pollination is the Only Win-Win

tatoo boxing2 250x166 Quit Pitting Digital against Print – Cross Pollination is the Only Win WinNo customer wants to hear all messages via email; via direct mail; via social; via traditional media. You get the gist.

Today’s preferred channels for communication have created new consumer behaviors. And consumers prefer different channels of communication depending on personal preferences. This means to effectively communicate one-on-one with any customer you need print plus digital communications.

According to Barbara Pellow, Director of InfoTrends, 2013 is the year of print plus. And though print spending is expected to decrease 6.2% over the next two years, it still makes up 30% of the marketing spending. Meanwhile it’s no surprise mobile spending is predicted to increase 8.8% and online/web communication spending to rise 4.9% over the next two years.

Pellow says these spending shifts present an opportunity for printers and chief marketing officers (CMOs) to become trusted advisors in helping clients or companies understand how to best spend and blend their available marketing dollars.

While survey after survey confirms that most marketers are shifting funds out of their print and mail budgets to online or out of their direct mail budgets into email, you don’t see the cross-marketing or multi-channel marketing blending that’s occurring in the marketplace.

In an InfoTrends study, Understanding Vertical Markets: Enterprise Communication Requirements, more than 1,000 companies and 500 employees were surveyed. In the chart below, you’ll see the strategy behind blending print and digital channels.

try this one Quit Pitting Digital against Print – Cross Pollination is the Only Win WinSOURCE: Understanding Vertical Markets; Enterprise Communications Requirements, Info Trends, 2013.

Digital + Traditional = Unified Marketing

Unified Marketing,™, coined by Dr. Augustine Fou, helps to visualize customer touchpoints across all marketing channels and across all stages of the customers’ purchase funnel to identify redundancies or gaps and thus optimize the mix of media and tactics.

Dr. Fou illustrates how marketing has evolved from push to pull (outbound to inbound marketing) in his ecosystem and touchpoints slideshare. He consults with CMOs on how to reallocate dollars across both traditional and digital channels to most efficiently impact business goals. Actually he’s made a science of doing so.

Dr. Fou’s scientific approach to identifying gaps in the sales funnel and then selecting the right tactics across all channels enables CMOs to visualize where they are overspending and then reallocate dollars rather than just arbitrarily moving marketing dollars from traditional to digital media.

“This is not just a ‘digital thing’ or a ‘traditional thing’ any more,” says Fou. “The right tactics are chosen based on insights about what bits of information customers need – their missing links – and what channels and tactics would be most effective in addressing these missing links.”

SOURCE: 2013 Really is the Year of Print Plus, What They Think, Barbara Pellow, January, 31, 2013.

6 Tips to Make Sure Your Variable Marketing Project Doesn’t Crash and Burn

148132648 250x166 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Variable Marketing Project Doesn’t Crash and BurnIf your business wasn’t part of the early adopters of variable data printing, this blog post is for you. This piece will keep you far from the technical grenades that can burn you if you don’t prepare your database or file correctly for hand off to your variable partner for execution.

Data First, Creative Second

Start with the data, which seems counter intuitive to agency people and small businesses. According to Kristen Miller, of Mail Print’s Client Implementation Team, successful VDP projects begin with data and then move into the creative process.

Ideally you’ll start with an accurate customer or prospect database/mail list. Ideally the dataset has more than name and address, like age, income, presence of children in the home, purchase history, or frequency of purchases.  Next you can decide what you want to communicate and pick which data fields you’re going to drop into your communication to personalize the marketing piece.

Dear {Name}, We hope this note finds you well.  Since you recently bought {Gift #1}, we thought you would be interested in {Gift #2}.

Prospecting vs. Retaining

Often times mailing lists purchased from list providers can be a great solution when you are prospecting for new clients beyond wanting to personalize a piece simply with someone’s first name. If your marketing strategy is to get St. Louis based, women, 40 years old and older, with household incomes of at least $100,000 to come to a plastic surgery seminar, purchasing a list may make sense.

If you are a plastic surgeon who wants to get existing patients to consider a second procedure or new aesthetic service, using your customer data makes sense. Choose your segment and write your marketing copy and select your graphics to truly speak to that particular group of people.

Maximize the Power of Variable

It can be very profitable to build a marketing piece that uses different images, colors, and messages to match the targeted segment.  The true value of variable data printing comes in being able to tailor a piece to engage a particular segment of your target audience.  Simply playing the “name game” is somewhat passé.  Your goal is to create a highly relevant mail piece so the prospect can envision using your product or service in a particular way.

Beware of Capital Letter Land Mines

If you had a single person input your CRM data, you are probably in good shape consistency wise. However, if multiple people in multiple states have added to the database, you may be plagued with names that should be spelled DeAnna, but may appear as Deanna (first letter capped only) or DEANNA, which often happens off purchased mailing lists.

Fixes for Common Field Land Mines

Miller says she sees several other common “field” related problems with the two dozen large variable projects she produces for clients each month. “Some clients will want to address the prospect by the first name, but their data field is set up as a full name field. There is no clean way to segment out Mr. Glenn Smith vs. Glenn Smith versus F. Glenn Smith.”

Rosanne Kirn, who works on Miller’s team, says another common problem occurs with the company field name. If a data entry person has put Sudsy Soap LLC in the company name but the client wants the marketing piece to mail to Sudsy Soap, you have an immediate problem.

The solution is to build an extra field and name it “Pretty Company Name” or “Variable Company Name” and key in the name of the company without all the window dressing of LLC, Inc, etc.

Don’t Send Unneeded Fields in Your File

Variable data projects can quickly come to a screeching halt if too much data is sent – enough to crash a system.

Miller and Kirn once dealt with more than one million data records from a local retailer. This isn’t a huge number of records until you multiply that by the number of fields, (over 1,000 in this case) attached to that record. Then things can get ugly quick.

Miller recommends reviewing your file and only sending the data fields that are needed to produce the marketing piece. This will keep the tab delimited, .CSV, or .TXT file size manageable and prevent unnecessary delays in your project.

Will Proposed Postal Cuts of Saturday Service Hurt Businesses?

No Mailing 250x249 Will Proposed Postal Cuts of Saturday Service Hurt Businesses?Discontinuing Saturday delivery of first-class mail has been discussed as a means to cut postal service costs for years. Now that five-day delivery has been officially announced and scheduled to start this August, what are the implications on businesses?

Not as much as one might think (at first glance at least).

Market research conducted by the Postal Service and independent research by major news organizations indicates that nearly 70% of Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce its costs.

According to an article that ran in a Pennsylvania paper, the Observer-Reporter, the candy operation and local hospital didn’t foresee problems for their operations with the USPS moving to five-day delivery.


Candy Firm and Hospital Foresee No Problem with Change

Sarris is a midsize firm, with 550 employees at its store and warehouse in Canonsburg, and in the Gardner’s Candies operations it owns in Central Pennsylvania. Sarris Owners say the postal service moves won’t change things for them one way or another.

About 95 percent of Sarris packages are transported by FedEx or UPS, adding that FedEx also delivers on Saturdays and UPS will do so for an additional charge.  As a reminder, the Postal service does plan to continue package delivery on Saturday.

Monongahela Valley Hospital is a much larger operation with 1,235 employees. But Corinne Laboon, vice president of marketing and community relations, said the postal changes should have little — if any — effect on operations at the Carroll Township facility.

“From a patient perspective, I don’t think it’s going to have a significant impact,” said Laboon, whose hospital is the third-largest employer in Washington County.

SOURCE: Businesses Say End of Saturday Service Will Have Minimal Impact, by Rick Shrum of the Observer-Reporter, Feb. 6, 2013.


Businesses with Bigger Beefs Concerning No Saturday Delivery

Netflix, a DVD by mail firm, has six months to rework its movie delivery model for its non-streaming customers. Though Saturday is a huge movie-watching day, Netflix has been encouraging streaming service memberships and therefore has seen its DVD memberships decrease quarter by quarter.

SOURCE: Publishers, Ad Mailers Assess No Saturday Delivery by Tim Mullaney of, Feb. 7, 2013

Time Magazine has been historically delivered to customer mailboxes on Saturday. The Wall Street Journal, delivers to certain customers on Saturday, but has been decreasing its dependency on the USPS over the years, according to Tim Mullaney of RGI.

SOURCE: Publishers, Ad Mailers Assess No Saturday Delivery by Tim Mullaney of, Feb. 7, 2013

Small newspaper publishers might face some obstacles with the reduction in delivery times. Many daily and weekly newspapers had already omitted home delivery contractors because of the rising cost of gas only to return to mailing their papers. Now it appears they’ll need to reinforce quality content over timely content.


The Real Issue

It’s important to note that the real issue facing the post office is its inability to be fluid with its business model.  Imagine running a business that required you to PREFUND pensions.  When the Postal Service hires an employee they must estimate the amount of pension that employee will earn from day one to their anticipated retirement.  Then the USPS must prefund that employee’s pension fund. It cannot make annual contributions.  The Postal Service is the only organization, public or private, that has this burden.

It is estimated that the mailing industry is in excess of a trillion dollars.  Congressional reform is needed.

Neuroscientists Confirm Direct Mail is Alive and Kicking

neuromarketingDirect Mail is alive and kicking even if your original cell phone is not.

Despite the attraction toward digital marketing, direct mail is far from extinct. According to a study conducted by Millward Brown, Using Neuroscience to Understand the Role of Direct Mail, physical marketing materials vs. virtual marketing materials engage customers far better and trigger more emotional responses deepening brand engagement.


A Deeper Footprint

Regular Forbes contributor, Steve Olenski educates marketers that direct mail is not dead, but more relevant than ever in his article, In the Land of Digital, Let’s Not Forget the Physical and Direct Mail: Alive and Kicking.

Olenski also sites Millward Brown’s study of direct mail as it excels in the areas of neuroscientific engagement of customers as you can see in the video below.


Brown’s study states that physical media (direct mail) leaves a deeper footprint on the brain. In other words, content or marketing materials that consumers can touch and resonate with will engage more emotions than digital marketing messages.

  • Greater emotional processing is facilitated by consumers interacting with physical materials as opposed to virtual.
  • The “real” experience means the message becomes a better part of the recipient’s memory.
  • Brain scans showed print vs. digital material is internalized more deeply, meaning the materials had more of a personal effect that should aid in motivation or responding to a good call to action.[1]

Source: Millward Brown Neuroscience Marketing Study: Understanding Direct Mail with Neuroscience

Mail Me An Offer

Consumers that are affected by physical media are not just the older demographics such as busters and boomers, which is contrary to some marketers’ assumptions. According to Lisa Formica, president of FMI, a direct mail marketing and advertising firm, direct mail is not specific to a certain age group. Younger consumers (the 18- to 32-year old group) prefer to communicate with business and receive their offers via postal mail. And that preference doesn’t take into account the power and increased response rate when you send a dimensional mailing (3D or “lumpy mail”).

Of course there is still an art and science to creating powerful direct mail and poorly executed direct mail still risks being tossed (read Why Your Direct Mail Is Really Being Thrown Away.)

According to The Kern Organization, killer direct marketers, direct mail designers, and direct mail copywriters are becoming harder to find and it may be a matter of lack of training. In its Vlog post, Is There Still a Place for Direct Mail in This Digital Age?, Russell Kern says marketers lack the experience and confidence needed to design and test a direct mail strategy.

Isn’t it funny how keeping your skills up is different among the generations? While senior marketers are constantly teaching themselves mobile and digital media,  junior marketers must remember to keep their direct mail skills polished by attending Direct Marketing conferences, reading Deliver magazine and perhaps getting a senior direct mail mentor or learning from direct mail legends, including David Ogilvy, Bob Stone and Lester Wunderman.


Has Your Ad Agency Made These 5 Shifts to Stay with the Times?

1557864251 250x375 Has Your Ad Agency Made These 5 Shifts to Stay with the Times?During the Mad Men era of advertising in the 60s, an agency wouldn’t work on an account that didn’t have several million dollars in mass media spending power.

Then in the 90s, an agency wouldn’t work with a client that didn’t have huge budgets to build out an integrated marketing plan that included many expensive components, perhaps an annual report, image brochure, corporate video, and a website with static info that got updated once or twice a year.

Flash forward to 2013 where advertising agencies have divided into niche boutiques to deliver creative to specific industries like nonprofits, associations, environmental focused organizations, municipalities, school districts, or entrepreneurs wishing to launch a national direct mail campaign or international social media campaign.

Swings and changes in agency formation, focus, specialty and preferred client size or niche have been driven by four factors.

  • No agency can serve everyone, because no agency can be an expert in all channels and all industries.
  • Clients want to work with experts.
  • Clients want to work with partners not slick “ad men”.
  • Clients need quantifiable measurements every hour of every day, not award-winning creative.

If you’re on the agency side, how has your agency evolved? If you’re on the client side how have your needs changed and are you getting the right partnership you need to succeed in today’s collaborative environment?

SOURCE: Alexander “Al” DiGuido is an innovator in the direct response industry and in e-mail marketing methods. As of December, 2011, he is the former CEO of direct marketing company Zeta Interactive.


Here is what the future of marketing, direct mail, PR, and advertising will look like by 2015, according to Al DiGuido in Ad Age, Feb. 23, 2010.

1. Agencies Shrink and Coin Futuristic Titles

The smaller production fees of digital along with thinner margins are already driving the size of agencies down with the best and brightest not exceeding 100 employees.
New top tier job titles such as “chief choreographer” or “convergence experts” could replace creative directors and programmers, according to DiGuido.

2. Analytic Reports Replace Image Award Trophies

Soon results and ROI will be the only measures of success that matter, putting Plexiglas® trophy companies in search of new business beyond ad agencies.
Data will dominate all agency activity and analysis will drive strategy, not vice versa.

3. Technology Will Be Owned Not Leased

Further into the digital age, it will be necessary to own proprietary technology instead of partnering with third-party vendors, which dilutes margins.

4. Good Agencies Will Package Content and Make it Go Viral

Since content is king and the client must be a thought leader, the best agencies will help clients create content, market that content, then measure and even monetize it.

5. Agencies Will Form Relationships with Bloggers and Other Non Traditional Media Sources

Agencies of the future will help clients nail their target audience and omit the waste of a spot on a network or in the paper by introducing them to blogger sponsorships or guest column opportunities, according to David Siteman Garland author of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper, Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business.

Plexiglas® is a registered trademark of Altuglass International

SOURCE: 5 Predictions On the Future of Marketing, PR and Advertising from