Category Archives: Direct Marketing

Race to 1,000,000…


Wouldn’t we all like our businesses to hit 1,000,000 followers, fans, or subscribers, quickly? You’ve seen all sorts of promotions both online and offline to get to 1MM fans for different businesses. Whether it’s getting a free Bloomin’ Onion or joining something bigger than yourself, companies and organizations have been successful getting their fan base built, quickly.

As social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube level the playing field for the little guys, able to compete with the big guys, its easy to build your fan base quickly.

But let me rattle the cages a bit…
Do I really need 1,000,000 fans and followers?

When I help people with their social marketing strategy (online or offline, folks), I am always sensitive to the audience that they are trying to reach.  Just as with direct marketing, our social media tactics should be targeted, deliberate, and consistent.  I would rather have 1,000 community members than 1,000,000 fans.  As marketers, we always have to be in the customer’s shoes and assume they ask–what’s in it for me?  Well, I say to you, it’s not a one way street.  As an organization, you should be asking–what does my fan base do for me?  Note: that answer doesn’t necessarily have to do with top-line revenue either. 

So with that said remeber this:  you’re not building a fan base, you’re building a community.

Stay Social,
-{AP}

Are You S.M.A.R.T.?


 Well…are you?! 

I should know better by now, but I always ask the same stupid question when people come to me to talk about their marketing initiatives or campaigns.  What do I ask them, you wonder?  “What are your goals for this campaign?”  Every time I ask this I wish I could take it back, because the same answer is always, “Increase sales and make more money!”

No kidding…that’s what we all want but its not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  So let’s get smart about S.M.A.R.T. goals and talk about how to develop them and increase your market share.

What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?  They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.  These 5 elements are crucial to set up a S.M.A.R.T. goal; each campaign or marketing task that you take on should go through an analysis of these 5 elements.  The best part is, IT’S EASY!!!  OK, let’s go…

Craig is a lawn care service provider looking to take his business to the next level.  Let’s go through this process of establishing a S.M.A.R.T. goal with Craig.

  • Specific – We all have goals of increasing revenue, gaining more customers/members and increase awareness.  A specific goal pertains to one item that can be focus of the campaign.
  • Measurable – It’s important to make sure that any marketing initiative that takes place can be trackable and analyzed to enhance the ongoing or future campaigns.  Most importantly, if your goal was asked as a question, can you answer it?  “Did you hit ‘$X’ in new revenue, or gain ‘X’ new members?”
  • Attainable – Can we truly reach the goal we set?  We would all like to gain an exponential  amount of money or new customers; but if we don’t set an reachable goal, success is hard to reach.
  • Relevant – Does this goal directly pertain to the marketing campaign?  This is where you think about your clientele or prospects; does your product fulfill a need that will be best suited for your clients?
  • Timely – Delivery is key.  Hitting the market can be tricky at times, but this is an important element in the process to develop our goals.  No matter how great our concept is, if it’s not hitting the market when the buyer wants your product, your campaign won’t be successful. 

So lets take Craig’s business to help him establish a goal.  He’s looking to expand his customer base with a sales increase of 25% over his current earnings for basic lawn care services: mowing, fertilizing, debris removal.  For arguments sake, it’s February. 

Example:  Craig’s goal is to increase his customer base by 10 homes within the next 3 months which is equal to about 25% increase in revenue, to homeowners in the suburbs, 1-mile radius around his office, to people age 55+.

  • Is this goal Specific?  Yes, he’s looking for increase is client base by 10 homes and has set a time frame of 3 months with a certain demographic.  Whereas he did not say, “I want more customers this year…”
  • Is this goal Measureable?  Absolutely.  With each new client acquisition he can tell how far he is from meeting or exceeding his goal at any given time throughout the 3 months.  Moreover, since he is also great with numbers, he knows when he is on meeting revenue goals or not.
  • Is this goal Attainable?  Craig thinks so.  This element is a bit more subjective and requires a good self-evaluation of your business and YOUR selling ability.  Craig feels that his current client base would be willing to refer him to neighbors or friends; 10 new homes should be attainable for sure.
  • Is this goal Relevant?  His target audience are those that probably can afford to have lawn care done for them, or are people who may be looking to hire someone to do the manual labor.  Moreover, he is looking for homeowners, as they decide on the purchasing decisions for the home.  Renters, for example, do not.
  • Is this goal Timely?  Yes.  You have to think about your product and its market.  Lawn care starts early Spring and goes through the Fall.  Because it’s February (remember, for arguments sake), now is the time to start to build interest around your brand.  When Spring comes, people will already have your name on their minds.  If Craig started in June, it would be too late.  You may pick up a few clients, but will be no where near meeting his S.M.A.R.T. goal.

It may take you and extra 5-10 minutes to develop a S.M.A.R.T. goal, but you will be smarter for doing so.  You will start to see that when you meet these goals, you will know exactly how you compared to your original plan.  On the other hand, if you do not meet your goals, you are intelligent enough to know where you may have lost focus and can track back to the problem.  You can then fix it for next time.  At least now you know.

Be S.M.A.R.T.
-{AP}

‘L.O.C.’ Down your Direct Marketing Campaign with 3 Elements


When I talk to people about their direct marketing campaigns, the big question I always get it, “what makes a successful direct marketing campaign?”  My answer…”Everything!”

There is a ton of factors that you need to think about before diving into any marketing campaign, and the same rules apply to direct marketing. We can spend all day on the nitty-gritty of a sound direct marketing campaign, but there are 3 main items that you need to focus on to be successful with your DM campaign.

  1. The List (L):  DO NOT SEND A MARKETING MESSAGE UNLESS YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE SENDING IT TO.  Sorry for yelling, but this is the most overlooked, yet most important aspect of the direct marketing campaign.  Think about the product that you are promoting and think about who buys that product, who can’t live without that product, and who needs your product but just doesn’t know it yet.  First place to turn is your own house list.  Second would be to purchase a list, but I would not go this task alone, you may be penetraing your market deep enough.  9 of 10 times the house list is not up to par at all!  This is a problem, but there is a solution.-  Identify a few top clients that are currently buying and enjoying your product and would potentially talk great things about your product. 
    –  Go to your list broker, marketing service provider, or printer and have them mimic the profile of your top clients in a purchased list.  This will be a strong base of the type of client you would like to have more of, in your business. 

    You may find that this list isn’t your normal 10,000 record list, and that is OK.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the money to buy, print, and mail to 10,000 records when I could get the some or better results with 2,000.  Your time spent with your MSP at this phase should be high quality time; think about who your recipients are and what they mean to your business.

  2. The Offer (O):  Often called the call-to-action, the offer is something that needs to tell the recipient that if they DO something and react to your DM campaign, they will get something of VALUE out of it, not just some THING.  Believe it or not, people love to be educated; white papers or other industry specific information that could help the recipient make an educated purchase of your products will help you with a possible buyer’s remorse situation.  Make sure that the offer is lucrative enough to make an impact and worth the time to interact with your campaign.  But looking too good to be true can have an adverse affect on the campaign as well.  Keep it simple and clear.  If a recipient has to go the Alice’s Wonderland to get their free thing of value, they won’t bother.  I’ve often said to myself, “Boy, that would be nice to have or take advantage of.”  But if it’s too much work, its not going to work.
  3. The Creative (C):  This is where people spend most of their time, ignore the other 2, and then blame their designer or agency when the campaign doesn’t work.  The creative must be engaging and pleasing to the eye; it should be simple and clear, like your offer.  The creative should fit the product you are selling and should be personalized to the audience in which you are sending the piece to.  However, it should not be the basis of where you are spending your valuable time.  If you think about the people on your list and the offer first, the message and design will come naturally.  Moreover, with the technology of variable data printing, literally each mail piece can be different for each recipient.

These three elements are extremely important to carry out when developing a direct marketing campaign.  Each has a degree of detail that you may be able to execute, but the concept is still the same. 

L.O.C. down these tactics for a very successful campaign.

Happy Marketing,
-{AP}

direct mail to communicate…dead?!


There’s one thing that we all can agree on, direct mail is not what it is used to be.  But ‘dead’ it is not. 

What is true is how we use direct mail in our marketing efforts and how it integrates with our other traditional and progressive marketing techniques.  Believe it or not, consumers are pretty smart, and can see right through the advertiser.  There is no need to try to trick them or play with their head.  Just talk to them.  You’ll be better off for it.

So how can we talk to all of our customers and prospects all at once?  That seems pretty daunting, right?  Not true.

Marketing was always thought to be a game of numbers, and many will argue that it still is.  Or is it; I’ll let you decide.  We must engage this smart consumer or business executive in a way that speaks to them, engages them in the solution that you are offering and hits a nerve that keeps them up at night.  Your whole campaign must be targeted to your audience.  They key is the database.  Whether you have a house list or a purchased list, be sure the leverage the information that you have.  If you buy a list, talk to your list provider about your campaign and who you are looking to attract (a good list broker should ask you too).  Many providers have access to different selections when it comes to lists whehter it’s age, income level, or the type of credit card they use.  Leverage that information!

Let’s take savings and investments, as an example.  Sam is a Financial Advisor and is looking to build his database of prospects and bring on 10 new clients this year.  In the past, he’s spent long hours cold calling, attending trade shows, begging for referrals, and sending 1,000’s of direct mail letters/cards (the ‘spray n’ pray’ method).  He’s been able to stay afloat but feels that he is working harder than he needs to get the same results.  He’s getting ready for a new DM campaign and looks to buy a list of 1,000 people within a 1 mile radius of his office with a message helping people to save for retirement.  STOP.  Let’s think.

  • Who is in this list?
    1. singles,
    2. young married couples,
    3. middle market with school age children, or
    4. near retired empty-nesters
  • What are there needs?
    1. Start to save for the future
    2. Establish a base for your spouse and soon-to-be family
    3. Save for your kids’ college fund
    4. Ensure that you will be taken care of in retirement

What I see here is not a list of 1,000 people who should receive 1 message, but 4 segments to receive 4 very different marketing messages that Sam needs to get across.  Don’t talk about starting a plan for retirement to the 3rd and 4th market above.  That message is not relevant.  Moreover, each call to action should be different as well as the means to connect back with Sam.  The first three markets may be heavy on utilizing the web to connect (social media, personalized website response channel, etc.); the last demographic may prefer to connect via phone call, snail mail, or even email. 

Direct Mail as we know it is changing.  Consumers and business solution providers need to collaborate and discuss the changes of how we market the brand.  Gone are the days of spraying and praying, we need to think about our prospects and clients as people not a record on a list.  Talk TO them, and they just might talk back…

Market Smart,
– {AP}