Posts tagged marketing

8 Ways to Improvise Your Way to Success

meeting 250x166 8 Ways to Improvise Your Way to Success

Guest post by Michael J. Pallerino, taken from the April/May issue of our bi-monthly magazine, Connect.

So, how do the worlds of improvisation and business compare? Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Communications (SCC), shows you eight improvisation techniques that can help your business.

No. 1: Seek Those “Yes, and …’ Moments

Improvisation is about affirmation, creation and mutual support. Its training is built on the concept of what it calls “yes, and” moments. That’s when other members of the group put an idea or proposition forward, the group affirms the proposition, and then additional information is added. This allows the team to reach its full potential before objections derail an idea.

No. 2: Follow Your Fears

Fear usually is an indication that something important is at stake.

People feel fear because they care about an outcome. In improv, actors are taught to “lean into” conflict, not walk away from it. This practice likely reveals something new.

No. 3: Plan Less and Discover More

The less you plan, the more you’ll discover; the more you plan, the less you’ll discover. Every organization wants to be known as innovative and creative. Yet,

most conditions that allow for innovation and creativity seldom are present. Standard routines and processes govern most daily work experiences. In improvisation, the absence of a plan allows room for discovery.

No. 4: Start in the Middle

Improv actors know that a linear, orderly progression makes for a boring scene. In business, people take great pains to lay things out in logical progressions. There is comfort in following the flow. But when there’s a crisis or need to innovate, success sometimes comes from taking leaps and making creative connections in the absence of perfect information and thoughtful preparation.

No. 5: ‘Bring a Brick, Not a Cathedral’

Employees don’t like to feel small and insignificant. This causes them to hold back ideas and feedback. In improvisation, seemingly small contributions are important to the whole. If each ensemble member brings something, the collective energy is greater than one person carrying the load. When your contribution matters, you’re obligated to bring something to the game.

No. 6: If One Idea Doesn’t Work, Try Another

In improvisation people move quickly. There’s little time to analyze or assess only time to listen and react. Consequently, ideas and inspiration come and go fluidly. Improv actors know that right and wrong usually is a false dichotomy; there are only possibilities and choices. Performers are rewarded by their willingness to support the ensemble and adapt on the fly to new ideas.

No. 7: Try Not to Top Someone …

…at least until you’ve equaled him. Because business usually is a competitive endeavor, people always are trying to one-up each other. This comes out of a fear of looking bad and falling behind in an internal competition. Someone else’s gain means your loss, which creates a stifling environment. In improvisation, the best way to “get fed” is to do some feeding of your own.

No. 8: Make Accidents Work

The world has a tendency to throw curveballs. The key is how you respond to it. In improvisation, the axiom “make accidents work” describes much of its existence. Unlike in variable data printing where every outcome is tightly planned, there is no such thing as a preordained outcome in improvisation. It’s about living in the moment. Learn to embrace the possibilities that “accidents” offer.



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.


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.


Can You Recover from Major Marketing Gaffes?

mistakes, errors, marketing, businessPolitical gaffes follow a candidate from one campaign to the next. The campaigns of Romney, Biden, Clinton, Quail and Bush all confirm this. Remember Bush’s premature use of the phrase “Mission Accomplished”, Quail’s misspelling of “potato?” or even Clinton’s more famous situation that isn’t appropriate for this posting. A misspoken word or an entire scandal can take an entire mission off focus.

The same can be said for the million dollar blunders made by the five marketing giants below.

Turner Broadcasting

One of Turner’s cartoon networks launched a guerrilla marketing campaign in 2007 that involved putting LED signs throughout the city of the flashing cartoon man. A Boston resident thought it was a bomb and called the police, which resulted in the shutdown of public transportation system and a $2 million fine requiring Turner Broadcasting to compensate the city for its emergency response time.

Gap & Coke

In 2010 Gap updated its logo design in an effort to appeal to a hipper audience. Gap switched back to its original logo within two days because of the backlash from its true audience of people who love their basics and aren’t trendy people. Who knows what the logo change and change-back cost Gap, but it probably was at least a million-dollar lesson to stay true to its loyal customers.

Gap’s gaffe proves that history does repeat itself. Remember Coca-Cola’s similar gaffe in 1985? Coca-Cola launched New Coke in an effort to keep Pepsi from gaining market share, only to enrage its loyal customers who began hoarding the original Coke formula and selling it on the black market for hefty prices.

Timothy’s Coffee

To extend their social reach, Timothy’s offered a coupon or a free sample for following them on Facebook or Twitter. The campaign was so successful, Timothy’s ran out of k-pak cups and later posted that free samples would be given out on a first come first serve basis. This went over like a cup of truck-stop coffee and despite an apology video; they were unable to recover from the gaffe of not being prepared to fulfill their published offer.


When Pepsi chose to pursue the International market of China, it failed to check the translation of its tagline, “Pepsi brings you back to life.”  The phrase translates to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” You may be laughing, but the marketing department and CEO of Pepsi weren’t. They were humiliated for not pre-flighting the phrase with native speaking Chinese customers. The cost of reprinting point of sale banners, signage and advertising cost just a hair more than the disgrace of Pepsi’s international gaffe.


Marketing Gaffe Prevention

While to err is human, there’s plenty of ways to reduce the margin for error. Here are a few suggestions to implement before you make history with a mega-marketing blunder.

Check your list twice

Don’t hit “send,” until you’ve checked your send-to list two or three times. Remember the agency employee who accidently dropped the F-bomb on Chrysler’s Twitter channel, thinking he was sending to his own peeps. Whoops.

Engage more eyes

Despite spell check and proofing, mistakes slip into marketing pieces because the individuals working on the piece go blind to their copy over time. Put a multi-tiered proofing team in place, as well as a pre-flight process for all your printed pieces and posts.

Take people out of the process

The beauty of print automation, is you do all the testing and proofing upfront (perhaps even for six months), but after that, all the data is pulled directly from your CRM or database and goes directly into the brochure, catalog, coupon, or direct mail piece, which eliminates the chance of human error. Print errors can cost a company millions. Verify your data, and partner with a company well versed in print automation if you need the assurance of 100% accuracy in your mailings.

In Philip B. Crosby’s book, Quality Is Free, Crosby estimates that the cost of quality for any company is 25 percent of revenue. Certainly far from free, but his book led to the “zero defects” movement that later was replaced by the Six Sigma movement because companies realized perfection was impossible. Six Sigma organizations are a bit more realistic, allowing an error rate of one in 1 million or less.

Whatever movement you’re following or quality assurance practices and systems you have in place, an error is costly to a company’s profits and reputation. Share your marketing blunders and any that you’ve headed off at the pass in the comments below. We’re all in this together.

Source:  Hubspot


Keep Your Marketing Strategy Alive as B2B is Proclaimed Dead

B2B, Business to Business, Business to Consumer, B2C, business, marketingWhen marketing icon Rick Segal argued B2B marketing is “dead” in his speech at a B2B conference in Berlin over a year ago, those in the industry were stunned. How could the president of the global marketing firm gyro make this statement? After all, his entire business of the past 30 years has been founded on business-to-business (B2B) marketing, a concept he’s helped cultivate since 1981.

But if B2B is dead, does this mean businesses will no longer do transactions with each other?

“It’s not that salespeople or sales support have become irrelevant, it’s that so many of the messages they are carrying to the marketplace are humanly irrelevant,” Segal says. “The myth that has been busted is that business decision making is entirely rational. It’s not. It’s exceedingly emotional, and as living, breathing human beings have been empowered with computing and telecommunications technology on their persons, their emotional needs matter more than ever.”

The view of B2B being based on logic and selling to a faceless company is dead; instead, B2B is shifting to be more about selling products to the people in a company, seeing the company as not one uniform entity, but as a being comprised of individuals with individual needs and emotions. Segal’s approach emphasizes tapping into the human need, igniting emotions in the business decision makers, to create effective marketing.

B2B Revived with a B2C Approach

B2C (business-to-consumer) has always focused on the human relevance aspect of marketing, especially understanding testimonial selling, to keep up with a fast-paced market and keep consumers engaged. The B2B world also is moving with network velocity, and to keep its professional consumers engaged, it needs to integrate B2C concepts.

Billy Mitchell, president and senior creative director for B2B marketing agency MLT Creative, believes B2B marketers can gain a lot by utilizing B2C marketing tools, including design standards, production values, storytelling techniques, creativity, and smart examples of social media marketing. So should B2B marketers transform into B2C marketers? Mitchell says no: “I don’t think a company should do that. In fact, they should embrace an enthusiasm and passion for B2B marketing. B2B can be just as creative and engaging as B2C.”

A recent example of engaging B2B with B2C flair was General Electric’s 2012 Super Bowl Ad.  GE boasts, “We make the power that makes the beer.” The commercial speaks to both consumers (the beer lovers) and businesses (the beer brewers), as both benefit from GE’s services. By saying we’re all in this together, GE shows the human relevance to their business.

“B2B marketers can certainly learn from and be inspired by B2C, but they must deeply understand B2B,” Mitchell says. “If you don’t enjoy meeting with your inside and field sales teams, understanding your customers’ businesses and your customers’ customers, etc., you may not belong in B2B marketing.”

B2B + B2C = H2H

The key element in both B2B and B2C marketing is connecting and building relationships with both current and prospective customers. Again, it comes down to selling to a person with a unique face rather than just a company name.

At many social media conferences, Mitchells says the current word is that it’s not about B2B or B2C, it’s about H2H, human-to-human.

“It seems that world-class marketers everywhere have awakened to the fact that, today, we are communicating with living, breathing human beings with aspirations, spirits and emotions,” Segal, president of gyro, says. “We’ve always known that business-to-business, at the end of the day, was person-to-person.”

This is where marketing tools such as direct mail, email, and variable data printing come into play, personalizing messages that will speak on a professional level but include the needs of the individual business buyer. Or perhaps creating pURLs or QR codes designed specifically for the B2B customers, using elements of the ones created for B2C audience but with different elements, which customize the interaction to be specifically B2B.

Or tell a story, like GE’s commercial, showing how our company helps your company helps the customer. By showing how each business positively affects the other, how each contributes to a bigger picture to help the consumer, the focus is on the human aspect, not just making a sale. Combine both B2B and B2C perspectives in your social media content, and your marketing will be more effective.

Segal agrees, “…what the world’s savviest marketers seem to have appreciated quickly is that personalization was the last best practice. No longer is it enough to understand the requirements of a person in a job title to be successful in influencing him to make a purchase consideration. No longer is it enough for an advertising planner to get into the head of a business decision-maker. With the amplified voices and the new organizational empowerment of these humans at work, successful marketers must get into their hearts.”

B2B Reborn

Whether or not you agree B2B is dead, it’s critical to note that the industry and its consumers are changing – and so are their needs.

“Change brings unexpected opportunities. With so many tools now available from B2B marketers, I can’t imagine why any business wouldn’t always be looking for opportunities to improve their marketing,” advises Mitchell. B2B marketers must adapt a “never quit learning, always be testing” mindset to keep up with an industry that never sleeps.


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.

How One Print Error Can Cost a Company or Country Billions (or more)

Reducing Print Mistakes through Print AutomationTo err is human. For the Federal Reserve to err when printing 1.1 billion in redesigned $100 bills led to $110 billion in unusable dollars, which is the equivalent to a tenth of the worldwide U.S. currency.

Of course these botch bills can be destroyed over the course of many years, but they still cost the government 12 cents a piece to print, which means the Federal Reserve spent about $120 million printing bills with errors that must be pitched.

Cutting Printing Mistakes Can Save a Business Thousands

Once the ink hits the paper, there’s no turning back. Printers site that they lose one to 20 percent of annual sales because of spoilage (projects that get tossed because of typos, misplaced decimal points, and errors that slip into print).  InfoTrends reports that businesses generally toss 31% of all printed material due to errors and obsolescence.

By putting stringent pre-press and proofing processes in place, a company can reduce waste. For example, if a company purchases $2 million in paper each year, saving one copy out of every 100 will yield an annual paper savings of $20,000. Remakes and waste can be measured using the same method.

Switching to print automation drastically reduces errors by removing the human interim step and going straight from database to digital press without the manual need to hand off files (potentially the wrong file).

Slowing down and putting a couple extra proofing passes into your process can mean the difference in tossing millions of brochures instead of gaining millions in new business.

One online business entrepreneur calculated that a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half for Internet based businesses. Not only do sales drop, so does a company’s credibility.

Errors Are a Costly Signs of the Times

We live in a rushed, multi-tasking society. Unless we slow down and concentrate on the moment, we’re very likely to let errors slip through showing up in our print and digital communications.

Finding and correcting errors in public signage across the country turned Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson into national heroes as well as well-known authors. In their book. The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time, Deck and Herson unearthed 400 spelling and grammar errors in storefront signage. Mistakes include cappuccino spelled, cappachino and capucino, and shipping spelled with one “p” or dining room spelled with two “n’s.”

The traveling proofreading friends also flagged menus with “crap-stuffed sole” instead of “crab-stuffed sole.”

History Making Typos

While some typos create a stir and fade from memory in short order, some have endured the test of time and even changed history.


The iron content of spinach became misrepresented because a decimal was placed to far to the right in an 1870 German study. The typo that endured 140 years in print showed spinach having 10 times the iron content of what was actually in the vegetable.


NASA’s ill-fated launch of America’s first inner-planetary problem, Mariner 1, was caused by someone who neglected to put a dot over an “R” in the space formula. Because of the error the $80 million space shuttle had to be detonated when it came flying back to earth.

Mizuho Securities

In 1995 Mizuho Securities tried to recruit J-Com Co.  employees to work for them by offering 610,000 yen per share ($5,041). A typo made the offer appear to be significantly below that at one yen per share. It also had offered 41 times the number of J-Com Co. shares actually in existence – the equivalent of trying to sell more then 40 times something you don’t have and being forced to back it up to any dissatisfied customers.

The error resulted in a $225 million loss for Mizuho Securities.

Life Plus Parole

In the 80s a man named Bruce Wayne Morris was convicted of robbing and killing a man. At sentencing the jury had to decide between execution or being imprisoned without parole, which was worded, “Bruce Wayne would not have the possibility of making parole.”

The typo occurred when the “not” was left out of the sentence. Therefore the jury mistakenly thought they had to pick between death and letting Wayne out to roam the streets so they picked death.

It took 10 years of federal appeals to reverse the decision and cost the state of California millions of dollars.

The magnitude of a misplaced decimal, dash, symbol, or word can cost a company dearly. Here are three specific examples where a typo cost companies millions:

  • A missing comma and zeros in a lender’s lien changed $93 million to $93,000, causing U.S. insurance company Prudential to lose the difference in 1978.
  • A misprinted date caused New York real estate developers to lose tens of millions in revenue.
  • A misprinted phone number in an L.L. Bean catalog caused the retailer to pay a six-figure sum to purchase the erroneous phone number — the exact amount was not disclosed — in an effort to avoid losing customers.

Typos in Numbers

While a misspelled world can be embarrassing and reputation damaging, a misplaced number or decimal point can cost you millions and your career. This is why printed pieces disclosing corporate numbers are highly scrutinized and under the supervision of CPAs, attorneys, and security exchange personnel.

Accuracy counts in financials. Can you imagine a management team releasing their annual report with this disclaimer:

“Some of the figures might be wrong, there’s a few decimal points in the wrong place and some of the calculations are off but you’ll get the general idea.”

Beyond annual reports, the printing of coupons, particularly in the gaming industry, is ripe for errors. Some casinos print millions of dollar worth of gaming coupons per month. One misplaced decimal point could shake the foundation of the house. Here are some ways to make sure your corporation’s printed pieces are error free with its words and numbers.

Staffing & Selecting Outside Vendors

Both your internal staff as well as your print and marketing partners must understand your numbers and financials. They must be in the know to spot something in a headline, graph or coupon that doesn’t make sense. The gaming industry, and in most industries, is not a place for amateurs. Screen and stringently test the grammar and spelling among all your employees not just those in your communication area, and never pick a vendor just because of price. Select based on a quality track record.

Security and Quality Assurance

Make sure data security and confidentiality are on your list of requirements for staff and vendors touching your data. Ensure system security measures are in place before transferring, storing, or printing your data.

Make sure your marketing partner has a model of campaign design with built-in quality checks, from conception to execution. If your vendor doesn’t have a plan, or looks to you for a plan, you may need to choose another vendor.


When Customer Profiling and Stereotyping Are All in the Line of Duty

Variable Data and Database Marketing is Key to Customer ProfilingAirport security guards are warned not to violate civil rights by profiling passengers. Human Resource recruiters are under watch by the EEOC so they don’t racially profile candidates. And police officers are under constant watchdog scrutiny to prevent future criminal, predictive, or racial profiling.

However, Chief Marketing Officers are one of the few professionals who must profile people as part of their jobs. Of course they must follow privacy and disclosure laws, but a successful marketing manager can and should profile customers with the intent of selling them appropriate products and services.

Customer profiling in the marketing world is defined as finding new prospects just like your best customers by comparing the demographic profiles of these individuals with your prospect population.

During what I’ll call the lazy years of marketing, marketers might describe who they believed to be their best customers to a list broker and that list broker would sell them a list of prospects based on a few pieces of business or consumer criteria (revenue, location, number of employees or age, income, education).

Fast forward to today and multiple overlays (one option includes 44 different overlay tools of variable data) can be applied to your customer database to pinpoint with laser accuracy what your prime customer profile is and how to duplicate it. Just turn over your customer file to be matched against a comprehensive dataset of U.S. business and/or consumers to create a customized market penetration analysis. The strength of customer profiling lies in its ability to provide up to 28 consumer and 16 business demographic overlays, revealing your true customer.

Using data to drive your business decisions, you can then take your marketing (and your business) to a whole new level and construct marketing models to squeeze even more sales out of your budget.


Healthcare Company Finetunes It Marketing Spend through Profiling and Analysis

A $20 billion healthcare company used analytics to optimize its marketing spend. Client marketing was geared towards direct to consumer advertising, with TV accounting for more than 50% of the budget. The seven-brand portfolio had a high spend-to-sales ratio of 25%, and management wanted to increase efficiency.

Using data sources such as the client’s internal data, financial and government records, models were built to measure sales by marketing tools targeting  to pharmacists and other audiences.

The models found that 13% of sales were due to direct marketing programs, TV commercials, pharmacy displays, and sales calls. However, this was unprofitable relative to the 25% spending-to-sales ratio.

As a result, this healthcare company reduced spending 10% and held the savings to optimize its current budget. The reduced spend scenario increased profits while maintaining sales


How You Can Apply Data and Profiling

Don’t let the analytics or terminology stop you from profiling, analyzing your data and conducting data mining. There are plenty of companies on standby to assist you with creating a snap shot of your best customers and best marketing approach to reach them. The best data is data that is put into use finding more great customers.


Recovering Your Marketing Budget with an Optimized Marketing Supply Chain

Wastebasket full of dollar bills on desk

Throwing away marketing budget on obsolete or wasted materials? Optimizing your marketing supply chain allows you to save and redeploy those dollars.

There is an epidemic that threatens the Marketing Supply Chain. The CMO Council’s recent report “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain” paints a clear picture of inefficiency and waste in marketing operations.

As marketers seek to provide the most timely and fresh content to customers and prospects, old, over-ordered or un-utilized marketing and sales materials tend to be stored, destroyed or ignored, left to occupy costly space in offices and warehouses. As the CMO Council discovered, high levels of waste can generally be attributed to limited access to material usage information, a lack of visibility into the process used to create the materials, and a general lack of forecasting and managing current and future material usage. All of these factors are creating an epidemic of waste that can be summed up most accurately as obsolescence.

Obsolescence Threatens Both Marketing Budgets and Customer Interactions

There are two key aspects to investigate while discussing impact of obsolescence: the impact on budget and the impact on customer or prospect experience. Marketers admit to the importance of communicating with relevant, timely messaging, yet 51 percent also admit to having sent out old materials containing out of date content. Why? According to the CMO Council study, 61 percent did not have new materials ready in time, and 23 percent of marketers did not know that irrelevant, old material was sent.

This seems to indicate that while marketers care about the customer or prospect experience, they are likely without the tools and processes they need to eliminate marketing obsolescence.

Why Aren’t Marketers Reacting Faster?

We know most marketers are highly focused on both protecting their budget and the prospect/customer experience.  So why are marketers not applying more rigor to managing the flow of their critical marketing materials and sales collateral within the supply chain? As the study found, most simply do not view the reduction of obsolescence as a key priority (50 percent). As one marketer stated, “Waste is just taboo and a can of worms. To open it holds little reward and no compensation, so there is little motivation to start down this road.”

However in the current business climate, where organizations are cutting budgets and trying to run more lean and nimble, savvy marketers are seeing opportunities to redeploy budget that was once wasted on over-produced, out-of-date materials.  Let’s look at four elements of putting in place your optimized marketing supply chain.

Four Elements For Obliterating Obsolescence

1) Leverage Digital Printing Strategies:

Digital printing technology has come of age, enabling economic production of all quantity ranges. Smaller production runs result in a lower total cost of ownership for your marketing and sales materials by reducing your investment in inventory, storage charges, and waste. A Print On Demand (POD) strategy can further reduce costs by eliminating inventory and storage costs completely. POD also enables more current and customizable content through the application of variable data printing (VDP).  Marketers can send personalized messages with up-to-date content, and eliminate the fear of materials with out of date or off-strategy content being stockpiled in inventory.

CASE STUDY: See how Ferrellgas reduced marketing costs by $80,000 using marketing and print management >>

2) Cross-Functional Collaboration:

Marketers are working more closely with cross functional teams in finance, sales, procurement, warehousing and operations to better forecast and eliminate over-ordering. Far too many marketers indicate that orders tend to revolve around a “cost per piece” target or guesses at utilization levels. Through collaboration across various functional areas, marketing will be able to better forecast, monitor and manage Marketing Supply Chain operations.

3) Go-Green to Gain-Green:

When it comes to the reduction of obsolescence, the more impact made on waste reduction, the greater the green-gains. Obsolescence creates an environmental impact that goes beyond paper.  A lack of process, visibility and measurement in the Marketing Supply Chain often necessitates rush ordering which creates additional shipping, handling and logistical demands that all impact emissions, natural resources and carbon footprint. By applying a clear strategy that is focused on reducing obsolescence, marketers can transform the Marketing Supply Chain into a greener operation that optimizes spend and reduces environmental impact.

4) Start With a Self-Assessment:

When you’re ready to move forward with optimizing your company’s marketing supply chain, the first step is taking a good hard look in the mirror. Check out Rhonda Basler’s post It’s Time to Engineer the Marketing Process for a great list of questions you can ask yourself to quickly identify issues with your current marketing supply chain.

Finally, there’s good news: optimizing your marketing supply chain doesn’t have to be a one-person gig; it may be a great idea to bring in a partner or business process consultant to work with you on analysis and implementation.

What challenges are you experiencing? How are you improving your marketing management? Join the conversation by adding a comment.

Seth Godin Dishes on Direct Marketing Vs. Mass Marketing

In a recent post from Seth Godin, the influential author and speaker divulges a main difference between mass marketers and direct marketers: the process they follow in creating and scaling their message to reach their audiences.

The comparison below is based on Godin’s main points:

Mass Marketing:

Direct Marketing:

Bets on large-scale deployment to achieve success. Relies on initial small-scale testing to achieve success.
Needs heavy initial resource allocation to push message to entire audience, across multiple channels, simultaneously. Needs low initial resource allocation; deployment scaled  to entire audience as results are proven.
Relies on achieving results on the first attempt. Continually improves results by tracking, measuring, and revising.
Success (brand awareness, “buzz,” and sometimes conversion rate) not determined until end of campaign. Success (conversion rate) is determined at beginning, based on test results.

With tighter budgets and continued pressure to produce measurable results, the safer, predictable direct marketing process would seem a no-brainer. However, everyone from small business owners dabbling in marketing to seasoned advertising veterans are tempted to rely on their personal taste and gut instinct to determine what will appeal to and motivate the masses. This temptation is natural, but not justifiable, according to Godin:

“The key distinction [between direct marketing and mass marketing] is when you know it’s going to work. The mass marketer doesn’t know until the end. The direct marketer knows in the beginning. The mass marketer is betting on thousands of tiny cues, little clues, and unrecorded (but vital) conversations. The direct marketer is measuring conversion rates from the first day.

“That’s the reason we often default to acting like mass marketers. We’re putting off the day of reckoning, betting on the miracle around the corner, spending our time and energy on the early steps without the downside of admitting failure to the boss.

“Of course, just because it’s our default doesn’t mean it’s right. Business to business marketing is almost always better if you treat it like direct marketing. Most websites that do conversion as well. Same with non-profit fundraising.”

So, as it turns out, the distinction between mass and direct marketing is less about the size of your audience, and more about the process you follow to determine the right messaging for them. Are you willing to devote the time needed to test your message, and do you have the humility and persistence needed to acknowledge a failed test and try again? If so, then you’re on your way to achieving more powerful, scalable marketing.

You can read Godin’s complete post here.