August 2012 Archives

It’s 2012, and the media landscape is more fractured than ever. More than 900 million people are using Facebook, including your grandmother. It’s also an age of Twitter and LinkedIn, texting and mobile apps. Even personal computers suddenly have become yesterday’s news. Now, lives revolve around smartphones and tablets. Yet, as crowded as the media space has become, direct mail still manages to not only fit, but remain a focal point for smart CMOs everywhere. Through it all, the staying power of direct mail remains undiminished.

A recent study by ExactTarget, an international company that specializes in interactive marketing, helps illustrate direct mail’s continued relevance. The survey asked consumers to indicate how they would like to receive 11 different types of messages. A headline in ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey screams the results: “DIRECT MAIL LIVES!”

Survey Echoes Recent Research

The ExactTarget study gathered detailed input from 1,481 consumers of all ages on how they prefer to receive various types of information. The choices:

• E-mail • Direct mail • Telephone • Text messaging • Mobile app • Social media

Out of 11 different categories of marketing messages, direct mail was chosen as the most acceptable means of communication in four categories, tied with e-mail as most acceptable in two others, and came in a close second behind e-mail in another four categories.

According to the survey, 65 percent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of a direct mail piece. The survey report provided the following analysis: “In the face of always-on channels like e-mail, SMS and social networks, consumers appreciate direct mail’s tangibility, flexibility and once-a-day pace. It also remains the only channel where unsolicited messages are acceptable to a majority of consumers.”

Other recent surveys on consumer preference provided similar results:

• In 2011, Epsilon, a multichannel marketing service, surveyed nearly 5,000 consumers, including more than 2,200 in the United States. More than one-third expressed a preference for direct mail over the multitude of other channels. Of those surveyed, 60 percent said going to the mailbox and receiving a piece of mail provided an emotional boost. Consumers said they found mail to be more trustworthy than other forms of communication. The study found that the preference for mail extended to the 18- to 34-year-old demographic as well.

• In 2010, a Durham+Company survey found direct mail to be twice as effective as e-mail for soliciting donations online. Further underlining the importance of direct mail to motivate online giving, 37 percent who give online say that when they receive a direct mail appeal from a charity, they use the charity’s website to give the donation.

So what is the reason for direct mail’s staying power? We sought the views of seven experts, including the author of the ExactTarget study: Jeffrey Rohrs, vice president, Marketing Research and Education of the Indianapolis-based company. Here’s what they told us …

Denver-based Heinrich Marketing likes to think of itself as the CSI of the marketing world, asking the tough questions before getting the creative department involved. Heinrich managing director Laura Sonderup says the research has shown that mail continues to be one of the most cost-effective methods for targeting that any marketer can deploy: “In many instances, mail allows us to localize lead generation far more efficiently than other marketing channels — down to the census tract and neighborhood level when necessary. Our largest clients insist that direct mail be included in their marketing plans as a means of maximizing budgets and increasing return on investment.”

1. Mail Is Tangible

Direct mail, says Jeffrey Rohrs of ExactTarget, “provides a tangible experience that digital media does not replicate. And in a world of hyper-fragmentation of communication channels, where you can get a phone call, text, e-mail, post on Facebook, message on Twitter, message on apps, there’s something about mail and how it cuts through the digital clutter that remains attractive to consumers.”

Jamie Matusek, marketing director of Austin, Texas–based QuantumDigital, echoes that view: “From a consumer perspective, yes, the majority of us have mobile device in hand 24/7 — but there is something to be said about a targeted mail piece and offer from a company I do business with. It’s a great way to help in making bigger decisions like home improvement projects, or even just getting an invitation to try a new restaurant in my local neighborhood. Mail tends to break through the digital noise for a bit and offers a moment for a targeted message to resonate. Plus, it offers a great way for businesses to focus on local neighborhood marketing, hitting potential customers who are close to home.”

2. Mail Integrates Well

Says Jeffrey Rohrs of ExactTarget: “As I look at our 2012 survey compared to our 2008 survey, the real story is that we have multichannel consumers due to the explosion of devices, so you’d better have cross-channel communication strategies. You need to be integrating your channels so that you can influence your consumers in different ways. This is where direct mail can work hand-in-glove with e-mail and social media. There will always be a place for channels that break the mold and pleasantly surprise consumers.”

3. People Like Opening Mail

Part of the power of mail, adds ExactTarget’s Jeffrey Rohrs, lies in the mundane consumer ceremony of padding to the mailbox each day: “There’s a moment every day where folks go to the mailbox, and they take that brief respite and they look at what they’ve received. It is a ritual. It goes beyond habit. It is part of what people do. And those marketers who can get there cost-effectively and creatively will continue to have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and their brand in interesting ways that will produce a return on investment.”

4. There’s Less Competition in Direct Mail

Jon Yokogawa, vice president of consumer engagement for interTrend, a full-service communications agency in Long Beach, Calif., contends that the technology age has actually boosted the impact of direct mail. “Your e-mail inbox is the new mailbox, filled with bills, letters from friends, family and work,” he says. “So the amount of paper in your mailbox is less. Therefore, you would be more inclined to look more carefully at any type of mail that you do receive from the Postal Service.™”

Content marketing expert Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Cleveland, and the largest content marketing event, Content Marketing World, warns marketers against becoming too “infatuated” with other channels, as mail continues to get the job done. “For certain goals like getting immediate attention, direct mail is perfect,” says Pulizzi. “There’s so much less competition in the print channel these days, the opportunity to get noticed is probably as great as it’s been in decades.”

5. Mail Builds Loyalty

Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute by underscores the value that mail has in cultivating loyalty and brand evangelism among consumers. “We know from our research at the Content Marketing Institute that only about 30 percent of our customers create and distribute a custom magazine, but we think there’s great opportunity in that channel to build loyalty,” he says. “Social media is selective. It’s hard to get on that must-read list. If you just go through any airport and walk around, you’ll see all the electronic devices and, at the same time, you’ll still see younger Millennials who are holding magazines, especially females, because it’s still such a visual, tactile media.”

6. Mail Is More Sophisticated Now

Jon Yokogawa of interTrend points out that the evolution of mail messaging — from the refinement of offers to new personalization tools — has also buoyed the channel and confirmed its ongoing relevance: “The sophistication of mail messaging has greatly improved over the years. Top companies use the platform, and that builds credibility. Nowadays, direct mail is not just for the remnant budgets of smaller clients. Many industries see this form of marketing as a proven medium, having better and actual measurements (ROI) than traditional TV, print, outdoor advertising or radio.”

Louis Maldonado, managing director of New York-based d expósito & partners, an agency specializing in integrated communications, including direct mail, points out how the digital age has added to mail’s power, introducing elements such as QR Codes, augmented reality and SnapTags to mail marketing: “Direct marketing has experienced a resurgence of excitement given the new technologies and tools available now. The increased targetability of e-mail and mobile channels, as well as the enhanced engagement and dialogue opportunities afforded through social media, serve to complement and fuel response rates to the tried-and-true channels, like direct mail and DRTV.”

7. Mail Helps You Target

Denver-based Heinrich Marketing likes to think of itself as the CSI of the marketing world, asking the tough questions before getting the creative department involved. Heinrich managing director Laura Sonderup says the research has shown that mail continues to be one of the most cost-effective methods for targeting that any marketer can deploy: “In many instances, mail allows us to localize lead generation far more efficiently than other marketing channels — down to the census tract and neighborhood level when necessary. Our largest clients insist that direct mail be included in their marketing plans as a means of maximizing budgets and increasing return on investment.”

8. Mail Delivers Results

Whatever its evolution, direct mail ultimately continues to resonate with marketers for one primary reason: It gets results. Robert Salta, owner of Maryland-based and a 30-year direct marketing veteran, has strong views about mail’s staying power: “It’s all about results. Direct mail works,” he says. “The majority of people will open and read direct mail, but often will choose to ignore e-mail solicitations. The fundamentals of direct mail haven’t changed, partly because their efficacy has been proven time after time. What has changed is the advent of data and digital print technology, and both have benefited direct mail immeasurably.”


Creating a 3-D mailer that looks and feels like an old-school circus ring did the trick for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The challenge of marketing the circus is making the familiar and well-loved feel fresh and new, says John Frazee, vice president of marketing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey® at Feld Entertainment.

As Frazee explains, these days the general public is bombarded by unsolicited e-mails, regular mail and phone calls. So the flyer had to be eye catching and sent not just to a general audience, but to people who in the past have attended the circus and would most likely have interest and enjoy going to a new show.

The flyer sent through the mail was the best way to reach this select group. It was meant to get people to gain interest in the show and to get them energized that they would help spread the word via word of mouth to others.

The mailer, designed and created by Structural Graphics, a firm based in Essex, Conn., was sent to a carefully targeted group of 2,000 loyal fans in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. “These were people who were existing customers and loyal circus arts enthusiasts,” Frazee explains.

To make clear to them that the event in question was something new and different — the 200th anniversary of P.T. Barnum’s birthday — meant signaling this with an extraordinary piece of direct mail.

“Every year, we have a new circus,” he explains. But because circus fans tend to assume things never change, when in fact the show is all-new, the brand works to design distinctive ways to signal that something different is coming to town, and well worth another visit.

Getting the Message Out

Another reason for going all-out on that mailer’s design is that the event was being held at Madison Square Garden, in the heart of Manhattan, attracting significant media attention. “Madison Square Garden has traditionally attracted heightened media coverage, and so the types of materials we produce become a media focus in themselves,” Frazee says.

He notes news releases were sent to the media, and the fact it was an anniversary show made the performance even more newsworthy. To ensure as much interest and attendance in the show as possible, the direct mail flyer was used as an integral part of a multifaceted advertising and public relations campaign.

Frazee says the brand chose mail because they knew they had to reach a specific audience of loyal circus patrons.

“It was a beautiful piece and an expense we undertook to make our target audience feel special. It really was a collector’s piece. We want people to get things that are unique, and we wanted to make this piece a special invitation.”

“Loyal circus customers are important to us, as loyal customers are to any brand, and we always try to cater to them because they deserve special attention,” Frazee says. “Our loyalists are treated with perks, as in any loyalist program. Loyalists generally attend the circus three to five times in a five-year period. Many have consistently gone to the circus over their lifetime, maybe 12–15 times or more in 30 years.”

The mailer fit the campaign as part of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s overall portal and served as a keepsake for the event.

Frazee says the mailer helps the circus retain a great deal of its fan base from year to year, while there are also many new customers every year.

“We did get a tremendous amount of response to the piece itself, people calling and writing and coming up to staff at the show. People told us ‘This was phenomenal!’ It really had a great feel to it, and we got lots of e-mails thanking us for it.”

          What Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Sent

The piece, a shadowbox that mailed flat but became three dimensional by pulling on two side tabs, “was unique like most of the work we do,” said Michael Dambra, vice president of creative services at Structural Graphics.

“It’s very engaging. When we’re looking at mailings we always look for something that will mail flat, but perform in some way and will offer a ‘Wow!’ factor.”

“What we really try to do is create surprise and some form of engagement. With online marketing you don’t have tactile engagement, something you can hold.”

When customers opened the circus mailer, “a childlike fantasy takes place,” Dambra explains.

“The charm was already built into this. When we decide whether to use movement or electronics, we try not to make the mechanism a gimmick.”

Using pieces that are an unusual shape or size is often enough to grab a busy customer’s attention, he says.

“I know that our work can stop a reader. It’s always the first thing to get opened.”

 Attention-Grabbing Mailers

Grabbing your customers’ attention with a well-designed and highly memorable piece of direct mail means making a few decisions, advises Dambra. “It’s not either or when you choose paper versus electronic. It’s both. Smart marketers are using integrated plans. A lot of what we do is meant to drive traffic to a website.”

Dambra evangelizes for paper, especially in a time when customers’ attention is so often focused on a computer, television or phone screen.

“With a paper marketing piece, you stop. You engage with it. You move to the call to action. It gets attention because it stops the reader.”

The added value of using a mailed piece is that it’s not something that oversaturates. As with any marketing material, “it has to make sense, it has to have a good visual, headline and copy message,” Dambra says.

Smart marketers — as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey demonstrated with their 3-D circus — can choose to use a well-designed and eye-catching paper piece to speak directly and specifically to valued niche customers.

“You can now target three-dimensional pieces to your highest-value prospects,” Dambra says.

This week had a real eye opening theme for me.   It amazed me, meeting after meeting, how few of my clients truly knew their demographic and how to reach them.

We work with our clients to market from a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional approach,  understanding that different audiences need to be communicated with differently in different ways.     The brand is the brand, but how the value of that brand is communicated depends not only on the medium but the intended audience.

A few weeks back, Mashable published an article “Women Win Facebook, Twitter, Zynga; Men Get LinkedIn, Reddit ” with an attached infographic.   I believe it is well worth a look.

Yes, it does only delve into one arena in the marketing sphere, but I believe it tells a very vivid story about how men and women look at the world.   Women, through looking at these stats, tend to be far more visual and willing to engage with those who market to them in the manner in which they want to be spoken to.

This is a great thing to think about in terms of overall marketing as women still control the majority of how disposable income is allocated.

Communicating the brand message is becoming ever more complex.   Technology dictates that we develop messaging that not only penetrates different mediums, but now we have to look at the mediums itself and see who is viewing your message and if you are speaking to them in a style that they can relate to.

Use your analytics to your advantage.     Find out who your clients are, where they feel comfortable being marketed to and let us help you develop strategies to Get YOU Noticed!

Okay, I have to admit it, I am now a recovering Olympics junkie. If there were 18 hours of coverage a day, I may not have seen all of it, but I sure got my fair share.

The Olympics for me is far more than the glory of sport.

With multi-millionaire tennis players, cyclists and basketball players competing, it really is more about marketing and brand awareness than it is about anything else. As I mentioned in a tweet the other day “if MacDonalds and Coca Cola did not care about the Olympics. . . would we?”

It is not only about the corporate brands, but the personal ones as well.  Christine Sinclair‘s Bronze Medal in Olympic Soccer will be marketed far more than we will market Canada’s only Gold Medal, Rosie MacLennan in trampoline.     For that matter, Sinclair will be marketed far more than the person who actually scored the winning goal, getting Canada the Bronze Medal in soccer, Diana Matheson.

Is this fair, no not really, it is marketing.   Sinclair was built up as a hero by the media and probably her own consultants, long before she arrived in London.   She was the focus of the Canadian team and she will get the glory of something that was truly a team effort.

However, the biggest winner in terms of Olympic Marketing was not even an official sponsor.  

Nike was everywhere.

It did not matter the sport, or the team, the unmistakable Nike Swoosh was visible throughout the games.  That is brand awareness and marketing at it’s finest.    The word Nike did not have to appear anywhere, the swoosh said it all.

So all of this leads me to the question of greatness.   Who is truly great and why?    Does it take a medal around your neck or a billion dollar advertising budget?  

I say no.  

Greatness is the ability to achieve goals set by you and be comfortable in knowing that success is measured over a lifetime, not in a moment in time.   Let us help define your greatness and Get YOU Noticed!

As social media continues to gain steam and obviously is not going away, more and more people are looking to participate. Unfortunately, many are intimidated and quickly give up. I routinely work with individuals, in both personal and business settings, explore and understand social media and its benefits. I have found simplicity is key in getting started.

I would like to share my response to a question previously posted on Linkedin, "If there was one piece of advice you would give someone who was new to Linkedin or had not really been effective at using it. What would you tell them or show them?"

The most important piece of advice I would share is defined in my own "Triple P Tripod" plan. A tripod as everyone knows, stands on three legs. If one leg isn't as strong as the others, is different in length, or is missing altogether, the tripod falls. At best, it precariously stands when leaned against the wall only to fall at the slightest movement. The triple "P" refers to three action words, Personalization, Participation, and Patience.

1.Personalization - Just as when you enter a room full of people, it's your personality and how you handle yourself that gets you noticed. On Linkedin, the same holds true. Starting with your profile, make sure it reflects you as you want to be perceived.

Misspelling and poor grammar are akin to an open fly or a skirt tucked in pantyhose at an in-person event. Yes, you'll be remembered, but for the wrong reasons. Enter discussion groups with grace. In other words, without being obnoxious or obtrusive. Develop your own style, your own points of view. Just as when you leave an in-person event and thank your host and say adieu to the people you have been conversing with, also thank individuals that took the time to answer the questions you posted in a LinkedIn group. Keep in mind, as in anything that is written, your words will last forever as they become your personal stamp.

2.Participation - It's important to participate in various groups on Linkedin. Be proactive in groups you're directly interested in as well as "collateral" groups that touch on your areas of interest. For instance, if you're interest is in franchising, you would most likely join several franchise groups. Now, look at entrepreneur, small business and marketing groups.

When posting a question in one group, post it in the others to gain a different perspective. For example, the question, "How would you define franchising?" is answered much differently in a franchise forum than in an entrepreneur forum. Certainly, much different in a marketing or sales forum.

At first, I would recommend responding to posts to get a feel for how it's done and more importantly, a feel for the group. It's always best to test the waters with your toe than it is to just jump right in. Yes, there may be sharks in the Linkedin waters and they'll attack at the first sign of weakness.

Next, post simple discussions and remember to respond to and thank each person that has taken the time to participate in "your" discussion. As you're comfortable, start your own group. If you're very interested in a particular group and are unhappy with participation or feel membership is lacking, contact the group owner and offer to to help recruit members as a manager of the group.

3. Patience - At first, a newcomer to Linkedin will feel overwhelmed. Actually, that may be putting it mildly especially if you're less than experienced in social networking, or texting and sending instant messages by phone. Take a deep breath and understand this is not rocket science. Take it one step at a time.

Preview the Linkedin Learning Center and refer to it again and again. Use the Help section. Search online for articles and tips on using Linkedin. Explore all aspects of Linkedin as a kid in a candy store. You'll find things you never knew existed about Linkedin that can help you achieve your objectives. After considerable time working with Linkedin, I'm still amazed when I discover something new, either by accident or by learning from others.

To this day, I'm excited by signing in to Linkedin and exploring new groups, uncovering new opportunities, seeing who responded to my last post and who commented on my last response, and most importantly, meeting new people and developing online relationships that over time turn into rewarding personal relationships. I've actually connected with one of my boyhood heroes, a former ballplayer turned marketing executive, on Linkedin, that I now communicate with on a regular basis!

The other day I was introduced to a new potential client. We met for coffee in the afternoon and he spent about half an hour laying out his vision to expand his business and build a franchise system. He had very grand and aggressive plans and did realize that there was already a large player in the space he wanted to get into.

So my first series of questions probed him to think about how committed he was to developing and marketing a brand. Very quickly it was discovered that he wanted to be different and unique and build something that people would relate to but he had neither the financial ability nor the mental will to see the vision through.

Brand development and marketing is not an easy, nor is it an inexpensive task. The development of a brand requires development of identity, voice, values and strategy. All of these need to happen long before your company makes its first dollar or can be taken to the next level. Marketing of that brand can be even more time consuming and expensive depending on the market you are trying to either break into or own. To own a space takes vision and hard work. One of the two will not do it.

The larger the organization, the harder it is, because you have to transfer that vision to staff so they can champion your brand. Very quickly people will notice if your marketing says one thing and your brand is truly something else and abandon it. Regaining trust after people have brand disillusionment is even more expensive and much harder to achieve than building brand loyalty in the beginning.

In short you need to be truly committed to building your brand. Take the time to understand who you are, what you do, why you do it and the unique value you bring to the market place. Take the time to share that vision and build champions both internally and externally.

The time and money that it takes will be well worth it and will truly Get YOU Noticed!

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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