Archive for March, 2013

How to Serve Up QR Codes That Don’t Disappoint

A QR Code® can either be the cherry or the sour grape on the top of your marketing sundae.  When it comes to prospects interacting with your marketing materials, newsletter, or advertisement, they’re either going to swallow and smile or spit it out.

By including a QR Code, and a teaser foreshadowing where it will lead, you illicit engagement. Two companies engaged me this week by delivering the cherry on top by giving me something I didn’t expect or know. I like that.

A third company that ran an ad for migraine relief, used a QR Code that made me disengage rather than find relief for what ailed me.


AARP Gives Members the Banana Split of Information

AARP knows its audience. It knows seniors are still cutting corners in the challenging economy because of their income concerns. AARP addresses this key concern in its member magazine it published, “Can You Really Save $10,000 a Year?”  The article summarizes eight steps excerpted from How to Retire the Cheapskate Way.

save How to Serve Up QR Codes That Don’t Disappoint

mow How to Serve Up QR Codes That Don’t Disappoint

Obviously the article is a home-run content wise, and AARP takes it one step further by including an infographic that illustrates the eight steps in play. AARP takes it two steps further by including a QR Code with directions: SCAN THIS NOW. Below this call to action, AARP includes a TEASER:  How Cheap Are You?  See Jeff find some new uses for aluminum foil.

The QR Code takes readers to an entertaining and educational video about great re-uses of aluminum that seniors who like to squeeze every nickel out of products will love.


Infiniti Hands Prospect the Tiramisu Tutorial

In Infiniti’s advertisement for its backup collision intervention system, it includes a custom QR Code that leads to a YouTube video. I expected to see an accident being prevented by the technology, which I did. What I didn’t expect was to learn how advanced this technology is. The video demonstrates a lighting system on the sides of the interior of the car that would begin flashing on the side of the “threat.” It also demonstrates how the car automatically backs off the gas and applies the brakes.

car How to Serve Up QR Codes That Don’t Disappoint

I’m not trying to sell you an Infiniti, but to open your mind to how you can deliver more with your QR Codes and make that extra step the consumer is taking a worthwhile one.  It does a great deal to enhance your organizational image with that consumer.


MyChronicMigraine’s QR Code is Vanilla in a Chocolate World

While has an engaging visual on its advertisement (a woman asleep on a red couch on a beachfront), its QR Code leads the customer to a zip-code search page. There is no instruction above or below the QR Code and no “teaser” to make the reader want to scan.

beach How to Serve Up QR Codes That Don’t Disappoint

If by chance they do engage and scan, it takes them to a screen to search for an office, which seems abrupt and non-helpful to someone seeking answers, research, solutions or justification they are among healers not spammers.

Because the ad talks about finding out if you have chronic migraines, it would seem a quiz or information packet link would be more appropriate in the sales funnel than trying to drive them into a franchisee’s office.  Frankly, it seems pretty sales like and not helpful.

If you use a QR Code, be sure to take the extra step and do it right

If there is anything you gain from reading our QR Code reviews it is the hope that you understand that when using a QR Code in your marketing you make it a worthwhile experience for the consumer.  Failing to do so, can mean more ill will than good vibrations.

QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.


Use Narrowcasting to Maximize Your Marketing Results

narrowcasting 250x250 Use Narrowcasting to Maximize Your Marketing ResultsIt’s tempting to skimp on segmenting because of the focus on results. Don’t. In a tight economy, or any economy, casting a bigger net doesn’t mean you’ll bring in more fish. It just means you’ll use more energy and use your resources ineffectively to cast that net.

Blanket broadcasting or mass marketing are gone, but companies still waste approximately 37% of their annual marketing budgets, according to a research study that analyzed one billion dollars in advertising spending.

SOURCE:Tim Suther, Dec. 2010, “From Broadcast to Narrowcast,” Direct Marketing News

Narrowcasting is about narrowly defining an audience and engaging them in a discussion that’s emotional and persuasive over time.

Chief Content Marketing Officer at Avaya, Mark Wilson, says narrowcasting works in the noisy environment to make your B2B programs work.

He suggests you narrow your audience to about 10,000 people who look similar. He says 10,000 is a round number that’s affordable to reach and manageable to physically and digitally communicate. You will see results with your marketing communications as long as the people you’ve selected are passionate about the topic.

SOURCE: Carla Johnson, Feb, 28, 2013, “B2B Content Marketing: “Create Intimate Conversations with Narrowcasting.” Johnson is a consultant to Content Marketing Institute, which published this article on its blog.


Segment, Segment, Segment

Do you really know your audience inside and out? It goes far beyond surface demographics. Do you know what makes this person tick as well as your spouse? What they think? Their behaviors, patterns, shopping inclinations, biases?

Wilson says at Avaya they target contact center businesses and know whom to contact down to every possible business title. They build a highly targeted, narrow prospect list using LinkedIn or Dunn & Bradstreet. Then Avaya crafts thought-provoking, compelling content that resonates with the prospect.

Anyone who has purchased pay per click (PPC) advertising knows narrowcasting versus broadcasting. Rather than broadcast your message across multiple websites much like you would by posting a corporate news release on 100 news syndicates, you only send the information to the specific websites that publish content relevant to your product or service (maybe The Motley Fool, Kiplinger, or the Money blog for a finance type message or product).


Building a Better Direct Mail Campaign

Narrowcasting works in direct mail campaigns, too. By using prospect modeling services such as Snapshot® or VisualIQ®, you can refine your mailing list to the tightest possible scope– shaving mailing costs and reaching only your most ideal prospects in your particular segment.

The days of spray and pray mailing are over. So if you’re still basing your direct mail programs on age, gender and income, you’re missing the mark. Go deeper by sorting with additional indicators such as psychographic, lifestyle, brand loyalty, etc.

No audience is static. So narrowcast and rerun your modeling reports frequently to capture the ideal prospects for your business.

Alo Uses QR Code Like a Cracker Jack’s Surprise

alo1 Alo Uses QR Code Like a Cracker Jack’s SurpriseRemember how fun it was as a kid to dig into a box of Cracker Jacks® caramel popcorn and get that treasured prize inside the box? Well history repeats itself with Alo’s Free Music in Every Bottle campaign.

Alo, makers of an aloe vera health drink, have a marketing tagline — Goodness From Inside Out ™.  I like their juice drinks and occasionally pay the premium price of $2.50 a bottle to treat my taste buds to something “pure” for a change.

Now Alo has developed a multi-channel marketing campaign to enhance the user experience by adding a QR Code® on each bottle that allows you to download an MP3 compatible song that they deem as music made for the flavor.

After downloading the song off my bottle, I received this email from the company:

Hello friend!

Goodness has arrived. Download your ALOtone track to your desktop and drag it into your iTunes. You can also take it on-the-go by syncing your iTunes with your iPhone. We think music is best enjoyed with friends, so share it with everyone and press play.

Download your free ALOtone™ here:

Always feel free to contact us or say hi at or

Free Music in Every Bottle

Surprisingly, I believe the company has nailed this one. When I purchased a bottle of Alo Enrich, the pomegranate and cranberry flavored Alo, I was compelled to download the free music “for my mind.” The iTunes compatible song, Optimistic Bloom, was a new age bubbly rendition that really did remind me of drinking the Alo juice that contains small, round alovera pulp that bursts on your tongue when your drink the beverage.

Alo is milking its campaign for all its worth with a PR and media blitz and goes the extra mile by including marketing copy on its bottles that promote the campaign and drink-specific song.

The ALOtones are marketed as “taking you to another place combined with an enhancing mix of pomegranate, cranberry and aloe vera. Together, they’re crafted to promote positive thinking and take on free radicals with a fresh boost of musical Optimism.”

The company describes its new multi-channel marketing combination of QR Codes, packaging and song as the  “Free Music in Every Bottle” campaign. I call it pure brilliance and one of the first QR Code campaigns that makes sense, rewards the consumer with a true treat of value, and in addition to keeping them purchasing the premium drink, they probably will chat it up among their friends, fellow yogis, runners, or health nuts in their circles.

Congrats to Alo for its innovative marketing and award for the Best Functional Drink Consumer Campaign at the Beverage Innovation Functional Drinks Awards last year.

QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.

Cracker Jacks® is a registered trademark of Frito-Lay



Seven Part Nonprofit Multi-Channel Campaign Touches 7 Million Donors

mission 250x110 Seven Part Nonprofit Multi Channel Campaign Touches 7 Million DonorsTwo years ago in April, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission saw a dramatic drop in donations simultaneously with seeing a dramatic increase in homeless cases.

Based on advice from its marketing agency, it learned that the days of single-channel marketing were over. Donors now function in a multi-channel mode. Even if a direct mail acquisition piece is sent with a response mechanism, 40% to 60% of donors will elect to do further research online, according to Masterworks.

According to a 2010 study by Convio, most nonprofits continue to apply a traditional direct mail centric acquisition model to target Baby Boomers and other younger donors who make it onto available rental lists. For many, the answer has been to augment their direct mail with an online push. Internet fundraising has grown strongly, but most major mailing nonprofits have reported almost a 20% decline in new donor acquisition over the last five years. “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”

Reversing Dwindling Donations by Pulling Out All the Stops

Union Gospel Mission built a multi-channel campaign to reverse the trend of declining donations. By building a campaign that included radio, direct mail, print (posters and press releases), promotional items, telemarketing, email, and landing pages, Union Gospel Mission grew donations by 2% and has continued this increase year after year.

The campaign slogan Union Gospel Mission crafted was “One Meal…One Hope.” One meal spoke to the needs of the poor and homeless while one hope offered the outcome donors wanted – a promise of a future through the mission’s work rebuilding broken lives.

SOURCE:Masterworks, Seattle-based integrated marketing firm

SOURCE:The Next Generation of American Giving, Convio, Edge Research, Sea Change Strategies, March 2010

The direct mail letter solicitation spelled out clearly how far the donor’s dollars would go in helping the homeless – $1.98 would feed one person and $19.20 would feed 10 people.

meal Seven Part Nonprofit Multi Channel Campaign Touches 7 Million Donors

The landing page you see below helped put a face to the cause by thanking the donor for feeding Don and turning his life around by getting him off the streets and back into society and into church.


Multi-Channel Campaign Generates Huge Lift

Union Gospel Mission’s campaign exceeded expectations by making 7 million impressions. Website traffic to the mission grew 57% at a time when other missions were losing traffic and seeing income declines. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission grew its donation by 2% and continues to see this upward trend now that it’s using multi-channel campaigns.

hippie Seven Part Nonprofit Multi Channel Campaign Touches 7 Million Donors


Six Rules of Multi-Channel Marketing

Are you implementing multi-channel marketing programs in your organization or nonprofit? If so are you sticking to these six requirements outlined by The Nonprofit Times below?

  1. The optimal deployment of media should be driven by voice of the customer (VOC) learning to ensure both relevance and effectiveness.
  2. Key elements of the multi-channel mix must be deployed according to the individual opt-in preferences of customers and prospects.
  3. The multi-channel mix must provide customers and prospects with choices so they can communicate with the marketer via the media mix of their choice.
  4. The channel mix must meet requirements 1 through 3 in accordance with the timing and frequency determined by that individual’s opt-in preference.
  5. The channel mix must offer a completely integrated experience. All the elements must complement each other, support each other, and send coordinated messages to customers and prospects.
  6. The channel mix must be responsive. If the organization alienates or abuses a consumer, we can expect to hear about it in a public forum if we do not resolve it privately.

Shifting Demographics and Incorrect Assumptions Can Lead to Bad Mailings

change 250x376 Shifting Demographics and Incorrect Assumptions Can Lead to Bad MailingsThe demographic profile of America is vastly different today than it was in 1980 and certainly 1960. So much so that the shifting demographics of our nation, and many of the traditional assumptions, we often make as marketers lead to off target mailings and results.  I don’t know of a time when this reality was ever more evident than in the results of the 2012 Presidential election.

As of 2010 the state of California had minority populations that exceeded 57% and Texas, Hawaii, New Mexico and District of Columbia had minority populations of 50%.

What does this mean to you and your product marketing? It means you need to have a true understanding of who is using your product vs. who has used it in the past. Marketers looking to restart or enhance their prospecting efforts will find changes in customer behavior that make traditional methods for identifying audiences less effective.

SOURCE: Deliver Magazine Case Study Statistical Modeling and U.S. Census Bureau, Pew Research Center


Facts That Can Skew Your Prospect Mailings

  1. Diversity is Booming. Minorities now make up about 35% of the U.S. population and well over 50% in certain regions.
  2. Married Couples Aren’t the Ones Having Children. A record 41% of births were to unmarried women in 2008, up from 28% in 1900.
  3. Head of Households are Changing. Only 21% of households were headed by a married couple who had children under 18 living at home in 2010. Now 27% of households had just one resident, a rise of 13% from 1960.
  4. Retirement Isn’t a Given. About 15% of people over 65 or older are still working. This number is projected to rise to 19.7% in 2014.
  5. The Person Receiving the Product Isn’t the One Actually Paying the Bill (i.e., healthcare and public education). Sometimes this requires removing the middleman and sometimes it requires inserting a new middleman.
  6. Women Are the New Brains. Of young adults 25-29, women represent 58% of those who hold an advanced degree.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Pew Research Center

SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics

SOURCE:, A New Business Model for a New Generation of Consumers

How to Refine Your Data Search

Many marketers are using new criteria and more robust data to redefine their existing customers and build a more accurate and statistically sound customer model. Among data and tools being used to flesh out existing models:

  • Purchasing Behavior. More than age and income, actual purchasing behavior is more predictive.
  • Social Media Engagement. Knowing about the number of friends a person has on a social networking platform is a very predictive variable to take into account for certain businesses.

SOURCE: Brad Rukstales, president and founder of CAC Group, analytic consulting

  • Data Appending. Data appending services range from simple postal, phone and/or email appends to sophisticated services like appending geographic, demographic, psychographic, lifestyle, interest, behavioral and syncographic data from a combination of on-line and off line resources. One credit union achieved a 10% lift on auto loans after appending its “in-the-market” data.

SOURCE: Deliver Magazine Case Study Statistical Modeling

  • Marketing Maps. Turn to demographic marketing maps or companies who can provide map overlays to show you the races, ethnicities, and languages of customers in your area so you can communicate directly with them in the languages they speak and according to the cultural backgrounds that influences them.
  • Purchase More Data. You already know a lot about your customers, but you can strengthen a customer profile by adding other lifestyle or demographic information into the mix.
  • Employ ZIP+4. The first five digits of the ZIP code indicate the geographic area, but the last four help you pinpoint prospects within that specific location. It can also help you identify who lives in an apartment and who lives in a house.  Many data models allow you to analyze to “block groups” for more accurate targeting.
  • Study Your Customer Database. Analyze every interaction and you’ll likely learn new opportunities such as who really responds to buy-one-get-one-free offers.  Or perhaps those who shop infrequently but spend huge amounts on your products might respond to a different offer.
  • Personalize Your Mailer. Go beyond printing your prospect’s or customer’s first name on the marketing piece. Show them that you understand their needs, interests, and position in the buying process. Variable data printing lets you do this by greeting them by name and creating offers you know they’ll respond to because they have in the past and including messages and images that address their specific needs.

Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?

The article below is admittedly a personal review of some direct mail I received.  I am not privy to the strategies of any of these pieces or to the metrics associated with the return on investment for these campaigns. As a direct marketer I know that all that really matters is the testing matrix and campaign ROI; neither of which do I have any knowledge of.  With that said, let’s critique!

After sorting through a huge box of direct mail I collect, I was amazed to find such poor use of the outer envelope for pain-filled call to actions (CTAs). Out of this 20-pound box of direct mail, I only found one organization that was nailing pain-focused CTAs while dozens of others were missing the mark completely – most failing to have a CTA on the envelope at all.

You can see by the two outer envelopes below that the Salvation Army clearly understands driving response through pain and strong CTAs. Pella Windows and JCP on the other hand, do not. These for-profit giants neglected to include anything on the outer envelops to persuade the recipient to take the next step and open the envelope. No CTA, no compelling photograph, no pain. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Many organizations have found that raising the level of a pain surrounding a problem to the point that the inflicted one wants a solution and is willing to act on it is a viable messaging tool.

With all the pain in today’s trauma filled world and with overfilled email boxes, getting to the pain via an envelope with a strong call to action may be the best route to new customers or donors.

Cutting-edge marketing technology company, Dukky says, “There’s no better time to spend dollars in direct mail, especially since everyone is saturated with e-mail marketing campaigns.”

no address salvation army1 Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?


Pella’s Envelope Is Void of Pain

We are certain that Pella Window’s marketing department has tested their envelope copy strategy to the hilt, but we spent a little time playing with possible headlines… Tell us if you think these are strong:

  • Did you know windows can leak 25% of your heat during the winter? That’s a lot of heat.
  • Daddy always complained about heating the outside.
  • Might as well just leave the window open, don’t you think?

no address pella Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?

When we look at Pella Window’s letter we also feel like we want more.  We would love to see some content on a replacement cost vs. return on investment calculation to demonstrate how quickly a homeowner can recoup his costs over time just through energy efficiencies throughout all seasons.

coffee girl Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?Not sure it would work, but it might be worth a test, but imagine retrieving an envelope out of your mailbox with the photograph above on it if you just got an extremely high gas bill earlier that month and the thought of new windows was in the back of your mind. What if the envelope had, “Quit making your family wear down vests and stocking caps to watch a movie in your drafty house.”  Would you open the envelope to read more?


JCP Counts CEO Clout to Earn the Open

Lucky me, I received a letter from JCP’s CEO Ron Johnson! I wondered what’s up. Opening this generic, highly digitized very personalized letter, I learn that JCP is making changes in their store to bring back the fun of shopping.  If you know me, you know I don’t really enjoy shopping.

no address JCP Do Your Direct Mail Envelopes Bring the Pain Home?

Fun of shopping, huh.  Funny, this envelope and letter aren’t very fun. In fact, they’re kind of boring.

Johnson goes on to say he doesn’t want me to have to wait for a sale or coupon so I’ll now find low prices every day, which sounds a lot like Wal-mart, but wait. There’s a $10 coupon at the bottom of the letter if I get to JCP in the next few days. Isn’t that kind of a mixed message? No more coupons but here is a coupon?

And here’s another kicker, the letter from the desk of Ron Johnson is signed Ron – now not really. It’s just his typed name. No signature blue ink, cursive writing. Just a corporate looking letter, with a convoluted message and a non-personalized signature at the bottom and no pain or CTA on the outer envelope.

Come on JCP – if you’re trying to be warm, value driven, fun and shift from a couponing strategy to every day value you are delivering numerous conflicting messages.

Now keep in mind, they did send me this letter to my work address.  I wonder was the appeal of one more formal letter supposed to get through to me and entice me to use a $10 coupon because I absolutely had to run out in the next four days and buy something.

Add to the confusion.  I’m not a JCP shopper.  Frankly, I don’t remember the last time I walked in to a JCP.  I don’t have kids so I’m not in that “holy grail” of consumers.  I rarely use coupons.  Heck, I rarely even remember to use the gift cards I get for presents.  Bigger problem for JCP – they are spending money with a strange message to try and lure me to their store.

With all these comments I’ll admit the marketer in me is uncomfortable sharing my anecdotal observations. I would love to see the data.  I would love to see the testing matrix. I would love to see the ROI and consumer analytics reports, but alas I get to sit back and observe my experience with a mail piece.

I guess this is what a Monday morning quarterback feels like.

Have you received anything from an organization that made you want to take action because it had a great CTA, personalized URL, or magnified some pain that drove you to take action? Let me know in comments.


Social Media Goals – What are yours and who is responsible?

Social Media1 250x257 Social Media Goals – What are yours and who is responsible?A recent survey by Ragan/NASDA QMX Corporate Solutions reported that 65% of organizations add social media duties on top of all the other duties an individual already holds. 27% have a social media team and 3% outsource their social media efforts.

Other important findings:

  • 69% are dissatisfied or only “somewhat satisfied” with how they measure social media. Only 31% are satisfied or very satisfied. And many say they lack the time to track data or aren’t even sure what to measure.
  • Only 28% saw their budget increase this year, while 69% stayed the same. Prospects were only slightly better for 2013 with 62% of budgets remaining static.
  • 23% describe themselves as “newbies.”
  • Facebook is by far the most popular platform with 91% of respondents maintaining a page there. Twitter follows closely with 88%, and 69% use LinkedIn.
  • “Ownership” of social media is murky, and the question may even become passé as numerous departments within organizations jump in. 70% of respondents say marketing is involved with 69% reporting that public relations played a role. Corporate communications trailed with 49%.

As we all continue to “figure out” what type of goals are appropriate for monitoring the social media investment, 87% of respondents indicated that their goal is brand awareness, 62% indicate increasing web traffic and 40% of the companies surveyed indicate that an increase in sales was one of their social media goals.

This survey points to the continued efforts around “how to monetize social media.”