You're absolutely right — it's not really spring yet. And the temperature in Boston plummeted to 2 degrees just about a week ago.
But the spirit of spring, one of hope and renewal, is appropriate at any time. And that's what I'd like to share with you.
This newsletter includes information on two new high technology marketing solutions as well as some basic (but important) lessons.
I hope you find it useful to you in your business.
All the best,
One of my travel clients called me recently with an urgent problem.
At the very last minute, they had decided to create and mail a beautiful calendar to past customers. This is an excellent technique, since it has the potential to be in front of people for an entire year.
However, they were in a bit too much of a rush and the printed calendar had a number of unfortunate mistakes. For example, September had 29 days — but to be fair, so did February.
My client wanted to know — whether they should mail everyone a new, corrected calendar at a cost of about $20,000; send a letter asking people to call for the corrected calendar; or simply ignore the issue.
What would you do?
Please see my recommendation — which they used — at the end of this newsletter.
Most of the direct marketing letters we receive these days are dull and dry. The thinking is — let's just get to the point — people are too busy to read.
I am delighted that most companies feel that way — because it makes it easier for good letters to stand out. Let me give you two recent examples:
Just to remind you — the letter is the most important part of a direct mail package. Reasearch by Ogilvy & Mather showed that the letter is responsible for 65-75% of the response.
I'm not quite sure how they measured that but I believe it.
Never settle for just an ordinary letter, and you'll never have to settle for a poor response.
"The Brand In Your Hand"
Marketing has become like VISA — except "it's everywhere you don't want it to be."
As you may know, the use of SMS Text Messaging has arrived — and that's banner ads on your cell phone.
Fareen Sultan, a marketing professor at Northeastern University, calls it "the brand in your hand".
The benefits are reaching people 18-34 who are virtually immune to most forms of regular advertising. They get their news online — so print won't work. They TiVo® the shows they want to see, skipping the commercials.
Most companies are approaching this new media cautiously — afraid of the backlash. However, companies that are using it report click-through rates of 3-6%.
But there's another new technique that might be even more exciting...
Wendy's is testing versioning its TV commercial based on the weather in a specific market.
The fast food company developed two different TV commercials, with specific instructions to the stations on which one to play.
Now this isn't groundbreaking. Back when I worked on Allerest, the allergy relief medicine, we used to do similar things on radio.
But it's the next step that's really remarkable.
The technology is beginning to evolve where companies can deliver personalized TV commercials to specific households.
Certain zip codes might get specific messages while others get different ones.
For example, Scotts Lawn Service might only be interested in talking to people living in suburbs and not in crowded (and mostly lawn-less) cities.
And believe it or not, one company has developed technology that will recognize whether a man or a woman is watching a particular show.
This is based on measuring how the person uses the remote — and they claim 95% accuracy.
So an advertiser will be able to instantly exchange one commercial, targeted to men, for another commercial, which is targeted to women.
Getting Creative With Direct Mail
The DMA just published their first-ever report on the benchmarks and preferred practices in direct mail, for both B2B and B2C.
It evaluates 11 crucial elements of a direct mail package, including Outer Envelopes, Postage, Letters, Reply Devices and even Offers.
For example, a Free Gift is the most widely used offer, and worked better than discounts.
This is consistent with my own findings — adding value (a Free Gift) is almost always more effective than discounting.
The reason is that when you add value, the responder gets more. When you discount, they get the same thing, but they just pay less.
The DMA report also shows you what percentage of advertisers test each element, and their reported results.
I have just begun diving into it — but it's something that no serious direct mail company should be without. (If you get even one idea, or learn even one lesson, it pays for itself many times over.)
You can order your copy — or receive more information — at www.the-dma.org/research.
I just came back from the John Caples Award Show — where I had the great pleasure of watching Nancy Harhut receive the Andi Emerson Award for outstanding service to the direct marketing community.
I have admired Nancy for many years, and I was delighted to see her gain the recognition she deserves. I also saw some terrific work — which I'd like to share with you.
Bob Stone, one of the giants of direct marketing, passed away last month at the age of 88.
Among his many accomplishments, he was the author of the classic book, Successful Direct Marketing Methods.
The book was so valuable and so important, that when a new edition appeared, the headline read, "Bob Stone Just Updated The Bible." It was translated into 10 different languages.
On a personal note, Bob was a warm and generous man, always approachable, always eager to share his wisdom and experience.
When I asked him to review my book several years ago, he was the first person to respond, and provided me with a wonderful quote.
Calendar Calamity II
The travel company decided to have fun with their mistake — but you probably guessed that, didn't you?
They sent out a letter to their customers that admitted their mistakes; and offered a Free World Wildlife Fund Calendar to anyone who called.
I also recommended that they include:
"P.S. It would be a real mistake if you missed out on any of our wonderful tours."
As the client wrote me, "The apology for the crappy calendar was a huge hit. We've not only received 400 requests for the new calendar, but people e-mailed saying they liked our approach."
One person wrote, "Some companies would try to ignore or cover up their mistakes, but you addressed the problem head-on and came up with creative ways to make the best of it. I very much admire that you have kept not only your perspective but also your sense of humor about this. In order to save paper, I will not be asking for a replacement calendar, or trying for a copy of the Andes book, but it was generous of you to make the offer."
It works just as well in direct mail as it does in life:
Admit your mistakes. Be human. And don't attempt to "cover up" things — be the first one to point them out and poke fun at it.
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