The Direct Marketing Star of 2009

Direct mail and websites must be consistent. Especially if the consumer receives direct mail and decides to go online to respond.

But in 2009, I think you have to identify whether it’s direct mail, or your website, that plays the starring role. Only a few years ago there was little question that direct mail was the “center of the direct marketing universe.” But I think that is rapidly changing. Online is rapidly becoming the “direct marketing center of the universe” with its unique ability to support inbound marketing efforts. Not long ago, I would have said that a website supports direct mail. Today I think direct mail supports a website. I’m not sure you can “integrate” direct mail and your website, but there certainly must be continuity and consistency of offers.

That having been said, demographics of your customers must be considered. The parents of Baby Boomers tend to be readers and, I believe, will continue to read direct mail. They aren’t known to be web-savvy so they may rarely consider using the web to conduct additional research and transact business.

Baby Boomers are more likely to blend direct mail and the online experience. But I think there should be a huge concern to anyone using direct mail who is pushing response to a website. When a consumer reads direct mail, and you point her to your website, she might research other offers for identical products using keywords and key phrases that organically bring up competitive offers. If the direct mail offer didn’t sell her on doing business with you, she might find a competitor online, who has optimized their website, and get a better deal than you were offering. Which begs the question: if you are using direct mail, do you really want your customer to go online when they can be so easily distracted, and through organic search easily find and buy from your competition?

And the younger the individual, in their 20s and 30s, the more likely the web is where they go for community, social interaction, shopping, and entertainment, and research before they buy something offline. Any of us with teenagers or twenty-somethings see them mostly ignoring direct mail-and even e-mail solicitations. All they need comes from a computer screen, speaker and keyboard or, more and more, their cell phone they’re using for texting and surfing the Web.

Online search, cutting across most age groups, is where the marketing action is to find your website. If your website isn’t optimized, you might as well not exist. If you’re not capturing email addresses for email marketing, you’re leaving money on the table. If you’re not adding content every week, your organic website rankings will slowly sink. If you’re not thinking mobile technology, you’re missing lots of young people. If you want to keep your customer or donor plugged into your company, you need to do so with blogs and social media. And by all means, get Google Analytics tracking what’s happening on your website so you can see your results. It’s amazingly sophisticated and useful in its reporting, and it’s free.

The rules of direct marketing engagement have shifted. While direct mail and websites can, and must, co-exist, their roles are different today as consumers migrate more and more online. The economics of marketing online, and the desire of consumers to do business online, have, in my opinion, permanently shifted how we will market this year and beyond. It’s less and less of us pushing our wares to consumers and businesses. It’s more and more consumers and business searching for what they want, and that means as marketers it’s essential to get smart quickly about inbound marketing methods-positioning ourselves to be found-and the online experience.

Direct marketers that don’t recognize this fundamental shift now risk lagging behind when the economy perks back up. It takes months, even years, for search engine optimization techniques to grab a foothold. And, tomorrow’s strategies may be different from today’s, as that world is evolving quickly. So your challenge as a direct marketer is how to manage that shift so you retain your position in the marketplace and not let it be eroded by some smart Internet-savvy upstart who outmaneuvers you.

Direct Marketing And How To Make It Profitable During Tough Economic Times

Hi, I am a direct marketing specialist that has helped hundreds of direct marketers grow their businesses. You do not know me, but after reading my views on direct marketing during an economic slowdown, I believe it can give you business an edge in taking market share from your competitors.

Today the consumer is being financially squeezed by many economic realities. Soaring gas prices a slowing economy, and job insecurities, just to highlight a few. All this is currently having a very negative impact of the consumer’s mindset for spending. Odds are your company is also feeling the consumer’s anxiety about the future. When I talk to some of the clients I do work for, they have told me that their web sales and response rates have declined, or at best are treading water. The same holds true for the traditional mailers. They are also experiencing consumer pessimism that is reflected in lower response rates.

OK, so does this mean that you have to hunker down and accept all this as the reality of the times for doing business? Absolutely not …But most direct marketers unfortunately will. The enlightened few will view it differently and become proactive, and embrace the challenges.

“Keep on doing what your doing in direct marketing and you’ll keep on getting what your getting in declining sales and profits”

Today savvy direct marketer realizes that the status quo of what worked during the good times isn’t working so well anymore. Hundreds of thousand of companies are competing on the web and via traditional direct mail for the consumer’s discretionary income. Many are destined to fail. Survival of the fittest is being played out, and the marketers who DO NOT make direct marketing refinements will become extinct.

So exactly what can you do to help guarantee that our company not only survives, but also takes market share from the competition?

To begin with you must make absolutely sure that your direct marketing efforts utilize all the responsive techniques that have prove to drive sales. Direct marketing is paying explicit attention to the details of the business, especially now. The day of “lets run it up the flag pole and see how it flies” is long gone. Today it is making positively sure that you have the three basic RIGHTS of direct response in place, or your company is destined to fail.

The three basic RIGHTS that must be in place are:

RIGHT #1: You must have the right copy that talks to the customer NOT at them. It must emotionally engage them and give them compelling benefits of your products and how it will help THEM. Does your copy utilize “YOU” or “YOUR” as much as is feasible? Does each product have a benefit headline? Do you utilize words (under seven letters is best) that the customer will actually understand? Do you answer all the questions in the customer’s mind that could be a potential roadblock to a sale? It’s your job to remove all the roadblocks that would deter a response.

RIGHT #2: The right creative, teamed with the right colors and graphics are essential to getting a response. Does your creative and graphics actually help to sell the product, or do they detract from it? Do the photos you use reflect you’re demographic, and do they add to the enhancement of the copy in obtaining a response? Do the colors you use on your site, or in your mail pieces turn on response emotions or do they turn them off? Certain colors evoke specific feelings; this should not be left to chance. The type you use, and how it is displayed directly affects sales. Type that is NOT black, or that is reversing out of a background has statistically proven in tests to be harder to read, and slower to comprehend which is a roadblock to a sale. Are you using Sans Serif type in your electronic marketing? It is easier to read on a computer screen. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to click away because they can’t read your type or it is to small in point size.

RIGHT#3: The right product with the right prices is vital. Customers are like a peregrine falcons. They scan multiple sites and catalogs to find the right product that is priced right, with the right shipping charge, and right guarantee. 30% (or more!) of the customers on your file are on your competitors files. Products priced right? Do you offer two for pricing? If you have exclusive proprietary products do you note it? Do you offer incentives for large orders, for example like free shipping, a free gift, or bonus coupons for future orders? Do you use testimonials about your products or company to melt away the customer’s cynicism?

If you get all three of the RIGHTS listed above right your chances of getting the response is almost guaranteed. If you miss just one of the RIGHTS it can be a no sale and your clicked away, or your mail piece is resigned to the circular file.

Hey I do not have all the answers, but I have been totally involved in the direct marketing for over three decades. I have helped hundreds of direct marketers grow their businesses and profits. I know how to write responsive copy that moves people, and in turn moves sales. I know how to make sure all the RIGHTS are in place, so as to help guarantee a response. I know what is needed creatively from a direct marketing standpoint to move a customer to take action and respond.
Questions for YOU?

Are your sales at this time where you want them to be? Are you happy with your direct response results? Are you 100% sure your have done everything to employ proven direct marketing principles to grow your business and assure it’s future?

If you cannot definitely say “YES” to these questions, they maybe we should have a chat.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2013

Digital marketing is ever-evolving, and as we move into the year 2013, it is evident that the technology to deliver the enterprise with digital at its core is here now. The challenge is to lead and marshal the talent and innovative culture needed to make it a reality. Given below are a few trends to watch out.

Increase in the number of Digital Marketing Agencies or Consultants

The digital revolution has forever changed the balance of power between the customer and the organization, putting customers in charge of the relationship. The pace of decisions and deployments for marketing automation software and services is booming. However most marketing teams are not yet ready to deal with the complexity of marketing automation nor are they capable of fully leveraging the digital transformation that is required. Due this and the unprecedented demand is contributing towards the increase in the number of Digital Marketing agencies or consultants.

Small and medium businesses are also realizing the power of content marketing and need consulting services to help with the proliferation of the marketing tools and technology available, so more and more organizations are turning to digital marketing agencies to preside over these efforts.

CMO and CIO Departments to strengthen their partnership

Technology is rapidly remaking marketing departments; marketing campaigns are morphing into enterprise digital media projects that encompass. Marketing budgets are growing to meet IT demand, it is critically important for Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to collaborate in new ways and transform their organizations to drive business growth.

The Year of Mobile

Consumers are spending more time and money on their mobile devices than ever before; there are encouraging evidences which support consumer engagement via mobile. Brands are keen to leverage location technology, social media and other behavioral data to orchestrate their mobile marketing as it is generation lot of attention.

Integrated Marketing Campaigns

As marketers aspire to leverage cross-channel digital campaigns to deliver real-time results at a lower cost, integrated channel campaigns will take dominance. An integrated tool set that can convert unknown traffic to known traffic will leverage competitive advantage to most companies.

Data Driven Marketing

Data driven marketing will take prominence in the year ahead. An average B2B company uses, on average 6 different Marketing automation tools to manage a single marketing campaign, and all these tools provide the bulk of actionable data. Moreover, a company’s social network can now range into millions of potential unique contacts. The sheer number of people, accounts, and permutations in the data make engaging with that audience very daunting. At the same time, companies are under intense pressure to drive revenue, and tight budgets are forcing marketers to make informed data-driven decisions. Tools that will enable marketers to extract the insights from the detailed bulk data will actually serve modern marketing needs.

Optimized Cross Channel Customer Experience

This is what all marketers’ are focused on delivering. The customer journey should be seamless across channels and each should play to its strengths. To achieve this all your digital platforms must talk to each other and in sync with the overall marketing strategy.

Content marketing

The trend in Content Marketing is to focus less on preparing content that will sell and more on content that will educate. Instead of pitching products or services, delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent will work. Content writers and bloggers will be distinguished by the content they create and their influence reaches, not by their titles. There are a host of new decision engines, social curation platforms, content provisioning and production technologies and services emerging (e.g. Story stream, Smartology, iTrigga etc). The demand for content curation rapidly increasing, there is an interesting new set of platforms and services appearing that will enable new content models enhance content delivery by enhancing existing CMSs.

Other trends:

· email marketing will continue to growing at astonishing rates

· Paid search for B2B companies will become less popular as new ad platforms will emerge

· Google will continue to dominate the B2B search market

· The big four of the internet will be Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

Friendly Advice on How to Start a Farmers Market

If you would of told me that I would be managing a farmers market a year ago I would of thought you were crazy. The opportunity arose quite suddenly to be the manager of our local farmers market. I am no expert on how to run a farmers market, but the following are important concepts to consider when you are thinking of starting a farmers market for your community or taking over one as a manager.

Before you even begin to formulate your location, vendors, layout, marketing strategies you need to have a board of directors. This board will be the governing entity of your market. You will need people who are experienced in urban planning, business, the agricultural scene, and active with your community. It is also a good idea to talk to other farmers markets; how did they start their market? What advice do they have? Would they be willing to help you? Once you have your board members selected, you need to come up with a mission for your market. What do you stand for? What do you want your community to gain by your presence?

You can’t have a farmers market without vendors. The type of vendor for your market really depends on your location. Here in Asheville, artisan vendors don’t do great. Produce vendors those are the vendors you want. You need to make sure that they are not all selling the same crops. Variety is key. At our market we have five produce vendors. They all have different items for sale. With the new craze of food trucks, it would be a great idea to recruit one or many for your market. My market is a smaller farmers market and I found that it’s best to try to reach out to food trucks that are just starting out. The ones that have been around for a longer period of time may consider your market – if it’s on the small scale or just starting up – a waste of their time because they may not make what they would consider to be a good profit for their time.

Marketing is a deal. Based off data the best way to market is using social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,etc. These are valuable assets to any business. You can also use Google Business to let people know about your market. Social media posts are free, which is great when you are just starting out. Once you get your market sustainable cash flow, you can look into boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter. Both Facebook and Twitter offer you to set your advertising budget which allows for less stress; once your budget has been spent the advertising stops until you reset it. Another great idea is to partner up with local businesses that are willing to promote your market using their social media. From my experience going and talking to local restaurants, breweries, kitchen supply stores that do food demos are all great prospects.

Location! Location! Location! This is very important to farmers markets. Last year my market was behind a church in their parking lot. There was no road visibility. We lacked new customers due to no visibility. During the off season we worked diligently to find a new location that was more visible, had walk ability, as well as good parking. We are now partnering with a local business to use their parking lot which has road visibility, parking as well as walk ability for our neighborhood. This move was a win-win for everyone involved. Our customers are now their customers, and their customers are now our customers.

If you want to start your own farmers market here are some resources to consider reviewing before starting the process. There is a course you can take through the Farmers Market Federation of NY, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Broome County and SUNY Cobleskill and funded by NYS’s Fresh Connect Program. This program costs $200, after taking the certification course you will be a certified Farmers Market Manager. It is an online course. I plan on taking it in the near future. Another great resource is ASAP. They have a section dedicated to how to become a farmers market manager with Powerpoint slides, PDF’s on farmers market rules and regulations. The best part is that this is a free resource.

Resources:

http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/fmm-pro-suny-farmers-market-managers-certification-program

http://www.asapconnections.org