Direct Mail: An Old Marketing Tool With New Power

Looking for a better way to connect with customers and prospects in this technology-rich, multi-channel environment? Would you think I was crazy if I suggested using a channel that was developed in the early 20th century?

That channel is direct mail. And while many of today's marketers may dismiss it as a quaint relic of days gone by, it's actually more powerful than ever before. Surprised? If you understand the factors behind the effectiveness of direct mail, you will not be.

There are two reasons direct mail is a wise choice in today's market. First, fewer companies are using it, so the competent that know how to employ it effectively has a much larger opportunity to be noticed. Three decades ago, your mailbox may have been full of letters on any given day, but how many do you receive now? Finding a letter (especially one with a real stamp) is something of a novelty these days, so instead of simply tossing it away, people are more likely to read it.

“Well, I do not read junk mail,” you insist. Neither do I. But effective direct mail and junk mail are two entirely different animals, and that's where reason number two enters the picture. The key to effective direct mail is making sure you put the right message into the right hands, and today's combination of powerful technology and big data makes that easier to do than ever before.

Junk mail is the stuff you do not want. You're not interested in doing business with the sender, or it's a product you've never bought, so you chuck it into the recycling bin. If you're sending the wrong messages to people who have no need or interest, you're wasting your money on junk mail.

But if you're sending relevant messages and offers to a tightly targeted group of recipients that meets specific criteria, you're engaging in effective direct mail. You have the opportunity to “talk” directly to someone who is likely to be interested in what you have to say or offer. Even better, you're doing it in a place where they're comfortable at a time when they're comfortable. Many forms of marketing communications are interruptive. For example, phone calls always come when you're doing something else. But most people have some sort of routine when it comes to reading their mail.

Now, about that tightly targeted group I mentioned. I've written a lot of effective direct mail packages over the years, but I'll be the first to admit that my brilliant words are not the primary reason those efforts achieved success. Direct mail experts will tell you that the writing and design of a direct mail piece or package accounts for less than 10 percent of its effectiveness. How do they know that? They've tested millions of pieces of mail over the years, making slight modifications to pinpoint what works best.

Those experts will also tell that your offer accounts for about 20 percent of a direct mail effort's success. So what's the factor behind the remaining 70 percent? It's the quality of the list.

In other words, you can develop the most beautiful direct mail package with the most poetic word promoting a truly irresistible offer, and if you mail it to a crummy list, it's going to fail. The list is the single most important element.

A good list is focused completely on one type of recipient. The more clearly you can define your target audience and obtain a list of those targets, the more effective it will be. The list should also be accurate, and it's important to make sure your vendor or whoever is producing the letter merges the right fields. Otherwise, you could embarrass yourself.

The other element that's important in effective direct mail is making sure your message is personal. Even if you're sending your marketing message to 100,000 people, it's being read by one at a time. You want each recipient to feel as though they're having a conversation with someone at your company, not being subjected to advertising. Copy that's friendly and conversational will go a long way toward accomplishing that.

Direct mail may actually be an ancient technique, but that does not mean it's obsolescent or ineffective. Use today's tools to refine and boost it, and that old standby may be the source of your newest success!

Won’t Turn Pink In The Can

Once upon a time

There's an apocryphal story about a tuna cannery at the turn of the 20th century. Canned salmon was the dominant fish sold over most of the US. An exec with the tuna cannery compared all the features of his tuna with the features of canned salmon. One of the biggest differences was the color. Tuna was white, and salmon was pink.

Rather than try to convince prospects why they should buy tuna instead of salmon, he simply added a large headline to all his ads for tuna: “Will Not Turn Pink In The Can.”

Tell the truth

The beauty of this phrase was that the ad exec was making a factual statement. He left the reasoning as to why it was actual to prospective consumers. Salmon was pink when the can was opened – did that mean there was something wrong with the fish? The can? The whole process of getting salmon to consumers?

This story has been told in many different ways: tuna vs salmon, white salmon vs red salmon, even white tuna vs pink tuna. It does not matter which version you've heard, or which version you tell. While the actuality of this story has been debunked a number of times, the truth of it remains. So much that in the past couple of decades, real marketing executables have used phrases like “A non-fat food” on packaged loaded with sugar and carbs (the human body stores these as fat), or “No added sugar” or ” No added salt “on foods naturally loaded with those ingredients.

These are easy examples – ones well within reach that I can pluck down and show you. However, not every example has to have the negative potential that these phrases have.

Be assertive

I'm bringing this up because I have a prospective client who's looking for a way to differentiate her products from her competitors. You do not have to craft sentences starting with “We're different because …” or “We're better because …”

Find something positive to say about your product or service – something that sets it apart from your competition – and trumpet it loudly and proudly. Pick something irrefutable, something that can not be proven false. Use this as your positioning statement, and make sure it's truth sets you apart from the competition. After that, it's up to you to tell prospects why that position is better than, or superior to, the competition.

3 Ways to Improve Your Networking Image

Did you know that you have a networking image? Many savvy networkers do not have a clue and do not take advantage of this extraordinary branding mechanism. What is a networking image? It is the tangible and / or intangible impression or form which a person reflects. It can help to build credibility, trust, professionalism, likeability etc. On the other hand, a bad image can create the opposite.

Below are effective ways of establishing a networking worthy impression for big success.

Physical Image

The most notable image is your physical image. Research shows that the way in which a person carries themselves is judged in a few seconds of them meeting someone. In regards, to your physical image, you want to be neat, proper and respectable. Appear in a way which aligns with your career, industry, etc. Develop an impression which compliments your personality. Keep an image that is true and consistent to your brand.

Written Image

Your written appearance involves your business cards, written correspondences, marketing material and online presence. All of these aspects should be similar and constant with your personality traits, skills, abilities, profession, etc. Whether on paper or online, make sure that you are being represented in a clear, professional and polished manner.

Verbal Image

Last but not least is your verbal exchange. This is the way you introduce yourself, your elevator pitch and the way in engage in conversations. Your verbal interactions, similar to your other images, should reflect your expertise and professionalism. It should also be culturally sound.

Utilize these techniques to create a dynamic networking profile. Make sure that your images align with one another and adds value and credibility.

Different Types of Direct Marketing Lists

Direct marketing deliveries your marketing message directly to a group consumers or businesses on a personalized level (such as a telephone call or via a personal email message). It's a form of marketing that provides the recipient with a direct call to action. The following are the three main types of direct marketing.

Mailing Lists
Direct mail is one of the most common forms of direct marketing and an essential part of an integrated marketing campaign. Companies promote their products and services with a provocative mailer. Direct mail campaigns provide your prospects with a tangible piece of mail to read at their leisure. Direct mail campaigns are extremely effective and when they are personalized and customized to a specific target audience can have great response rates.

Telemarketing Lists
Telemarketing is the process of calling prospects on the phone to promote your products or services. This can be done using your own sales staff or by subcontracting out to a call center. Telemarketing is vital in creating brand recognition, building customer relationships, nurturing leads and of course, closing sales.

Even with its bad reputation, telemarketing still plays an important part of any direct marketing campaign. Telemarketing is personal and interactive, and capable of providing an immediate response. As effective as telemarketing is, you need to be sensitive to your prospects' willingness to receiving unsolicited phone calls.

Telemarketing campaigns work best when the telemarketing lists are highly targeted, with accurate data that matches your current customer's profiles.

Email Lists
Email marketing is an effective way of reaching out to new prospects or following up with existing customers. Email marketing is extremely versatile, and you can easily customize your marketing messages to various market segments, or for prospects in different stages of the sales funnel.

Email marketing can be used to nurture customer relationships, provide company and product information, drive website traffic and to promote direct sales. The emails can be asaborate or as simple as needed.

Most people check their emails on a daily basis, making email a very effective marketing method for your business. However, email marketing should be used responsibly, and it is extremely important to have your customers' consent before sending emails.

The most successful direct marketing campaign will use a mix of marketing methods. Repetition is very important in any type of marketing efforts. The more you can get yourself out in front of prospects, the greater the chance of being remembered. Try a direct mail campaign with a telemarketing follow-up or an email blast in conjunction with a direct mail campaign. A Multi-Channel campaign also allows your prospects multiple ways to communicate back to you.

Regardless of the method, the key aspect in any direct marketing campaign is the ability to target the marketing message to a specific audience. With a properly defined target market, you can deliver your message directly to those who have a greater probability of purchasing from your business. This allows businesses of all sizes focus their marketing budget and resources where they're most likely to get results.

It's very important, before starting any direct marketing campaign, that you understand the different regulations governing each method of communication. The responsibility is yours to make sure you are compliant. Legitimate list brokers and managers should be able to confirm that the lists that are providing compliance to the various rules and regulations. If you are certain, do not hesitate to ask.

Customers: Love Your BRAND

Customers are looking for companies that can keep purchasing from and brands they can become advocates of. In other words … while you are searching for customers to love your brand, customers are also looking for companies and brands to LOVE.

Think about it: with all the choices in the market customers currently have (with limited time) to make their purchase decisions quickly. it's much easier for them to find a brand and company they love and stick with them.

So what does it take to attract customers to like and ever love your brand? The key is to understand your customers needs, keep them engaged, and build relationships with them.

1. Understand them – understand what your customer needs and wants. How do you go about doing this? It's simple: better customer experiences start with data. As customers interact with your brand through purchases, online browsing, opening emails and clicking links, they leave behind a trail of behavioral data. You can analyze your customer data and that will provide a deeper understanding so you can respond to their needs. Knowledge is power. Data accrued can assist you in a better understanding of your customer.

2. Build Relationships – go beyond looking at your customer as a single transaction. Build trusting relationships with your customers by being attentive to their needs. Track customers through their life-cycle and deliver relevant communications at each stage. Sometimes you need to walk away and go back to better understand what is going on. Create campaigns to keep them engaged. Track purchases.With a gap in purchasing, analyze and put together a Win-Back Campaign.

3. Stay Relevant – with an abundance of emails, offers and retailers selling comparable products, customers are looking for an easy way to do business with you. Sending relevant product recommendations, based on purchase history and online behavior is the most effective way to give customers what they want. Studies show that 39% of US consumers buy more when products are suggested based on past browsing or buying behavior.

The envy of every brand strategist: brands who have a community of die-hard cult followers – you know, the people who go out of their way way to evangelize and share the brand with everyone they know.

Branding is the process of forming memories, emotions and a relationship around your brand in the consumer's brain. The goal is to build such a strong connection and such strong belief that the consumer take on your brand identity as their own.

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