Aug 15 2011

By The Numbers

by Andrew DiFiore

Some interesting direct mail stats from Deliver magazine.

More than 12 billion catalogs were mailed in 2010.

55.6% of respondents found catalogs “useful” and 21.5% found catalogs “interesting.”

52.4% of consumers read direct mail from merchants. More than 53% found merchant mail “useful” and 16.8% responded to merchant mail offers.

Oct 19 2009

If we build it better why don’t they come?

by Jeff Propper

One of the most often asked question of small and medium businesses is: “how can we unseat our competition”? Often times, the incumbent supplier has the benefit of a long-standing relationship, along with a reputation of quality products and services.  This is understandably, a serious issue when you may have a better solution, at a better price and even better service.  I call it the “if we build it better why don’t they come?” syndrome.  They don’t come because customers don’t want to take chances.  Most people will avoid risky decisions, even when their current supplier makes mistakes.

How do we change this behavior?

It can be changed, but it takes time and money. What’s more, it takes building a reputation. Creating a promise and making good on it time after time, influencing your target market, and in other words, even SMBs must build a brand!  Sometimes, simply saying the word “brand” sends shudders through the very beings of senior management.  “Build a brand? Those are only for big companies who can afford it—not us!”

Let’s take it one step at a time.

Building a brand for your SMB doesn’t have to cost multi-millions of dollars, but in order to be successful you must think SYNERGY. Remember we’re talking about a building process, not an instant solution. In the brand building process you start with the basics, and those basics include asking the right questions:

  • Assess who you are: What is your company’s corporate culture?  What is the perception of the company in the marketplace?  Does your reputation reflect the true nature of your company? What is it about your company that makes you better/different than your competition?
  • What do you stand for? What core values best describe your company?
  • What can your company promise? A distinct, clear, attainable brand promise must be articulated.  Example: GE.  imagination at work.  The perception of a high quality company dedicated to turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services that in-turn make our lives better.

Building your brand is not just advertising.

Your brand must be incorporated into every aspect of your company. From your corporate culture and customer interface, to advertising, social media, internet marketing and public relations.  Your brand personality must come through consistently.  Example: The Body Shop has developed programs that reflect its core identity called Values and Campaigns.  It contributes to rain forest preservation efforts, is active in women’s issues and even has a program called COMMUNITY TRADE that embodies their commitment to trading fairly and responsibly with suppliers.  The Body Shop’s vision carries right through to the in-store experience.  Walk into a store, and you’re greeted by a salesperson wearing a T-shirt with both the logo and a social message.

In the end, building a brand for your SMB takes time, effort, commitment and money.  It’s not a quick fix.  It’s a long-term strategy that leads to growth, profitability and stability. After all, don’t you want your company to be your customer’s “supplier of choice” no matter what?

Jul 6 2009

Tourism Queensland Smart Integrated Marketing Strategy

by Andrew DiFiore

This month Ben Southall, the winning applicant of The Best Job in the World, officially assumes his duties as the Caretaker of a group of islands off the coast of Queensland, which includes maintaining a weekly video blog. By now you have heard about the massively successful marketing campaign put on by the Australian government to raise global awareness about the islands of the Great Barrier Reef  and attract more tourists to this breathlessly beautiful region (lets hope it stays that way).

Tourism Queensland broke the story via traditional media and then sustained the buzz through social networks including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. The web site for the contest received a million hits the day after its launch. By the time the campaign was done it had attracted 34,684 applicants from 201 countries and generated over $150 million worth of international publicity (including a BBC documentary), all on a $1.2 million budget. Watch the video above for the full case study.

Although similar in concept to the ING Direct Professional Fan campaign launched last year to increase people’s engagement with Spanish F1 driver Fernando Alonso, this was nevertheless brilliantly executed by CumminsNitro which recently won three Grand Prix awards at this 2009 Cannes Advertising Festival.

I like this campaign as a good example of a smart integrated marketing strategy. It doesn’t hurt that Tourism Queensland has a great product to promote (who wouldn’t love to visit paradise) but they didn’t decide to just run full page ads in Traveller magazine or ask Tony Wheeler to blog about it on Lonely Planet, no, the The Best Job in the World combined both old and new media channels in an extremely effective manner. Each element of the campaign had its part to play but what really made this smart was facilitating real people to help tell the story: first through video responses (over 600 hours of user-generated content) and then ongoing engagement via branded social media pages (e.g. Facebook).  This in turn created a viral phenomenon so compelling that mainstream media outlets had to cover it (free publicity). And it was done without sex or shock! Imagine that.

Jun 25 2009

B-to-B marketers, it’s time to go direct.

by Jeff Propper

Most b-to-b marketers understand that for every twist and turn taken by the economy, there exists a specific strategy designed to capitalize on current market conditions. In our recent past, for instance, when economic times were booming, many business-to-business companies chose to establish or enhance their brand identities through image advertising. As we know, this strategy emphasizes building relationships between a business and its target market over the long haul, with sales rising steadily over time. But when the economic pendulum swings in the opposite direction, the “slow burn” of image advertising can become inadequate to sustain a company’s short-term growth.

That’s why for many marketers, the question raised by a sluggish economy all come down to “What can I do now?” In my opinion, nothing beats direct response marketing. Intended to generate an immediate reaction from a business’ target market, direct response marketing exists as a counterpoint to the more patient sensibilities of image advertising. With direct response marketing, a business engages its audience from a more urgent platform, and inspires a quicker purchasing decision. That consumer decision, in turn, translates into a stimulated sales effort for a business, one that can be augmented with a variety of different tactics. For businesses whose survival depends on an uninterrupted flow of sales, adopting a short-term direct response strategy can yield significant dividends.

Beyond Billy Mays

I’m not talking about a B2B variation on the “You-May-Already-Be-A-Winner”-style of junk mail and spam. In reality, direct response marketing should be a deliberate, methodical, and studied form of sales promotion. What’s more, to be most effective, the campaign should begin as an integrated media effort, which could include a variety of advertising vehicles: print, direct mail, email, internet advertising and more.

Stand out. Or stand aside.

Standing out in a crowd is a basic tenet of good advertising. And in today’s economic climate, standing out is more critical than ever. Direct response marketing lets you stand out distinctly in the eyes of your target because it allows you to convey to them how well you understand their needs, speak their language, and can satisfy their wants.

It’s about ROI. (or I’ve found the magic bullet)

The final key to a successful direct response marketing effort is a finely tuned media strategy — one
that begins with broad parameters, and then quickly narrows its focus. For example, to reach a particular target market, your media plan may include an integrated mix of print advertising, direct mail, e-mail, ad banners, etc. As the program develops, it becomes critical to measure each media outlet to gauge its value to your program. The weak elements are discarded until you determine the one or two outlets providing the desired response rate and cost per sales lead. In doing so, your advertising dollars attain the highest return on investment possible.

Need customers? Get direct.

Today’s economic climate demands that businesspeople reassess how they interact with their target markets. For companies intent on remaining competitive — and profitable — direct response marketing offers a results-driven strategy that can help them achieve their goals.