Welcome to Darwillisms where we will share news and our views on what is happening in the world of integrated communications.
Tough Economic Times Need Proactive Marketing
Category: Planning & Strategy
Thursday, 16 May 2013 08:00
The economy is bouncing back, but marketing budgets are still tight. Are you tempted to slash your print marketing budget to save a few dollars? If so, you are likely to be counterproductive.
Difficult economic times are about survival. The more visible your company is, the more confident your customers and prospects will be that you are the company to trust. When you stop marketing, you create uncertainty about the strength of your business. You also open the door for your best customers to become your competitor’s best prospects.
When printing and mailing in any economic environment, here are three tips that will help you get the most out of your marketing dollars:
- Craft your message from a position of strength. When times are tough, people don’t stop buying. They just become more selective. Establish yourself as a strategic business partner who offers the most relevant products at the greatest value based on quality and performance. Add credibility to your message with customer testimonials and other sources of validation, such as certifications and awards.
- Exploit the weaknesses of the competition. Your best marketing campaign is worthless if the competitor down the street is closing the sale. Design print materials to persuade prospects not only to buy the product or service you’re offering, but to buy it from you. Determine what your competitors are doing (or not doing) that can help you position your company, product, or offer more favorably.
- Give prospects a reason to buy now. No matter how magical your marketing message is, fewer people tend to respond when budgets are tight. Spur prospects to action with a limited time offer, such as a discount or complimentary service. Fear is a part of the buying decision. Guarantees are an effective way to ease buyer doubt.
Companies with aggressive marketing, along with superior products and value, prevail in times of both prosperity and recession, while those with timid marketing, inferior products, and exaggerated marketing claims fail. Whether it’s branding, prospecting, or customer retention, invest in smart marketing and enjoy a vastly stronger market presence as the economy bounces back.
Personalization Creates 30% Lift
Category: Planning & Strategy
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 08:00
Looking for proof that personalization works? Consider the case of one historical museum that used personalization to create a lift in donations of 30%
For the past decade, the museum had been using direct mail as its primary way to solicit donations. After years of success, however, effectiveness was starting to wane. The museum wondered if personalizing the message to each recipient would breathe new life into its efforts.
To find out, the museum split its mailing in half. To the first half, it sent a traditional static newsletter. To the second half, it sent a personalized newsletter. Personalization included the person’s name, the state in which they lived, the number of charter members in that state, and prefilled the response forms to make sending in a donation easier. The results?
- Among those actively contributing, response rates increased 30%.
- Among less active but still donating members, response rates increased 25%.
- Among both active and less active members, the value of the donations increased.
Why did this campaign work?
In this case, personalization taps into the recipient’s sense of responsibility to the organization. “They know me — they are relying on me,” not just as an anonymous donor, but as someone the museum relies on by name. When you call someone by name, there is a responsibility that comes with that, especially in the world of fundraising.
Including the number of charter members in the recipient’s state also taps into the sense of collective responsibility. “Look how many other people are deeply supporting this cause. I should be more committed, as well.”
Finally, the prefilled form removed one of the barriers to responding to any campaign—the need to fill out a form, address an envelope, and add a stamp. If all the recipient has to do is drop a check in the envelope and put it in the mailbox, that alone can elevate response.
Whether you are a nonprofit organization or not, the lessons are clear. Call your customers by name, tap into collective responsibility (or collective participation in some kind of benefit), and make it easy to respond. Then watch your response rates soar.
Using QR Codes for Coupon Redemption
Thursday, 09 May 2013 08:00
QR Codes, or those black-and-white puzzle-like mobile barcodes that, when scanned, take consumers to a website or allow them to conduct some other online activity, can be a marketer’s best friend. Why? Because one of consumers’ favorite things is the coupon, and the number one mobile commerce (m-commerce) activity is to download coupons.
According to an April 2013 report, 57% of media-savvy respondents said they have used their phones to redeem a coupon, code, or voucher by mobile ; and according to a March 2013 FTC report, 27% of consumers overall would like to use their phones to receive and manage discount offers and coupons. QR Codes are an easy way to do this.
While QR Codes are often used to send people to mobile landing pages with marketing copy, they can just as easily be used to send them to online coupons that can be redeemed manually or scanned at the point of sale. When one of your customers is standing in the store making a purchase decision, that coupon can make the difference in whether they choose to make the purchase or not.
Where QR Code offer unique value over other forms of coupons is that offer can be changed at will. Even if the marketing copy on the product packaging, shelf talker, or point-of-sale remains static (“Scan here for a valuable discount offer!”), you can change the page to which that QR Code points at any time. You can also add additional marketing copy, customer reviews, or other information to help them make that purchasing decision.
When you are thinking about QR Codes, think beyond the landing page. Think about consumer shopping behavior and how QR Codes can be used to influence that behavior, including the use of online coupons.
 “Mobile and Money: Consumer Awareness and Adoption of Smartphone-Based Financial Applications” (IAB, InMobi, and Viggle, April 2013). Survey of Viggle’s user base.
 “Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2013” (Federal Trade Commission, March 2013)
Patience for the Platform
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 08:00
A friend is a senior veep at one of the world’s largest publishing houses. He and I met twenty years ago when I was still in publishing. We often kavetch about the future of book publishing, now that almost 70% of all books are sold on Amazon.
Bookstores have vanished, like wolves in the Great American West. Now everyone is a self-published writer. And every company or organization can be a publisher. The world is flooded with words: books, ebooks, magazines, newsletter, videos, apps, and an almost unlimited number of other “content containers.”
Even the 140 characters of Twitter is “content.”
The Power of Followership
The new word (the past 15 years, especially) is “platform.”
The phrase is often used by editors at publishing houses when evaluating a book manuscript: Does she or he have a platform? What editors mean is, “Does she have 200,000 followers on Twitter and 100,000 email addresses? Does she speak 40 times a year to large audiences on diet and exercise?”
In short, publishers want to profit from someone else’s marketing platform.The writer gets the prestige of publishing with a renown publisher, and the publisher is guaranteed that the revenue goals are met.
It’s like catching starving trout in an over-stocked trout pond.
Even my 4 year old could succeed at that!
What If You Have No Platform?
What would you rather have?
- 100,000 Twitter followers? or
- the opportunity to advertise on a web site with 100,000 monthly visitors?
Silly question. The 100,000 Twitter followers, right?
They chose to follow you. But what did it cost you to attract 100,000 Twitter followers? And how long did it take?
In 1999, years before the launch of Twitter, Seth Godin made a simple point in Permission Marketing: Create a following. Build something so good that people will seek you out and give you permission to market to them.
If someone comes to you, then you have permission to schlepp your product or service.
Sales chases after leads, permission marketing arrests the attention of your prospects, no? Doesn’t permission marketing generate leads?
However, permission marketing is NOT like catching stocked fish in a stagnant pond.
Platform, a book by Michael Hyatt, gives the practical definition: “Very simply, a platform is the thing you have to stand on to get heard…. Today’s platform is made of people. Contacts. Connections. Followers.”
Today, building a platform requires fresh, creative thinking. It demands arresting ideas and content, no matter the form.
Most of all, it requires patience. And the willingness to invest time and resources. What can you do or say that will be so compelling that someone will:
- Give you an email address,
- Follow you on Twitter,
- Request to join your network on Linkedin,
- Accept your request on Linkedin,
- Register at your next conference,
- Hand you a business card at the Christmas networking luncheon, or
- Show up at the meet-and-greet at your next trade show?
There may be a hundred or more ways someone can give you tacit or explicit permission.
Do you really have the patience to build a platform for your business or organization?
Dave Goetz is president of CZ Strategy (czstrategy.com), a messaging and marketing strategy consultancy located in Wheaton, IL. Founded in 2000, CZ exists to help its clients find clarity for what's next. Dave is the author of Death by Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul (HarperOne) and Native Tongue: Translating your message into the language of prospects (Big Snowy Media).
Avoid These Mistakes on Personalized URL’s
Thursday, 02 May 2013 16:42
One of the powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal is the personalized URL. These tools allow you to assign each recipient his or her own unique landing page. These pages can be personalized by name, interest, and other demographics. Typically, they also include some kind of survey or information form that allows you to gather more information on the recipient in exchange for some kind of incentive.
Personalized landing page surveys can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Gathering or updating the recipient’s contact data
- Asking about the recipient’s current interests and needs for future targeting
- Providing some kind of unique or customized offer based on answers to the survey questions or something the marketer knows about the recipient
Like any data-based tool, personalized URLs are only as accurate as the data you are starting with. One mortgage company, for example, was recently criticized for sending out mailing kits encouraging people to log in to personalized URLs to see refinance offers based on their geographic location. The offers were contained in very high quality, four-color kits. The marketing copy was compelling. Unfortunately, many of the location offers were wrong. People were given information for states in which they didn’t even live!
How to avoid such mistakes?
- Make sure you are starting with clean, current data.
- Make sure that your business rules are properly set up so that the document is pulling the right data into the right place.
- Produce a test mailing using “seed” names to test your data and ensure that your personalized URLs are working properly and you don’t end up with unexpected surprises!
Personalized URLs are powerful tools, but like any tool, they need to be used properly and tested so that they are giving you the results you expect.
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