Blog Activity

  • Judges Needed for Collegiate Challenge

    Marketing EDGE seeks judges from the DMCNY community for its Collegiate ECHO Marketing Challenge by DIRECTV.  Now in its 30th year, the Collegiate ECHO gives students the opportunity create a marketing plan for a nationally known business. To help DIRECTV rank the winners, marketing professionals score and provide feedback on the entries, which helps college faculty refine the way they teach data-driven marketing, and increases student knowledge.  Marketing EDGE needs at least 20 judges to finish judging the fall entries by Friday, March 4.  There is also a need for judges in June.

    The Challenge in Brief: With a $1MM budget, create an integrated marketing campaign (using social, mobile, direct, interactive and/or store media) to increase refer-a-friend program participation among existing DIRECTV customers.

    What exactly do I need to do? 

    ·         Apply today to become a Collegiate ECHO judge at judge.collegiateECHO.org.

    ·         When you’re confirmed as a judge, you'll receivean “assignment” (of 10-12 entries – more or less as you request), a briefing about the Challenge, judging criteria, and judging tips.

    Judging takes place entirely online.  You’ll receive a link to download the entries, and another to an online score sheet. A staff member will be available to answer any questions you may have.

  • DMCNY Member News

    Issue: 

    December, 2014

    Big congratulations to Joe Frick of Adrea Rubin Media Inc., who received Datalogix's prestigious 360A partner award for August 2014. Joe Frick, VP of Marketing and Social Media, joef@adrearubin.com, 646-487-3768.
     

    Prompt Direct recently unveiled PromptTRACK Alerts, a customizable mailer notification tool.  As mail is scanned, Prompt lets the mailer know when it reaches a particular point in its journey, for example, when delivery is imminent. Phil Catalano, pcatalano@promptdirect.com.
     

    MeritDirect, the leading provide of global multichannel marketing services, is pleased to announce the opening of a new satellite office in San Joe CA, expanding the company to the West Coast.  The operations in San Jose will be managed by Chris Blohm, Senior Vice President of Data & Media Services, and staffed by Deirdre Blohm, Vice President of Customer Acquisition & Retention.  Contact Chris Blohm at 669-231-4753 or Deirdre Blohm at 660-231-4410.
     

    Fosina Marketing Group celebrates quite the "giving quarter," having signed several new humanitarian non-profit clients, helping them fundraise online via sustaining giving.  The company also assisted their client Amora Coffee with going "Pink" to increase Breast Cancer Awareness.  The Fosina team also got wet and donated to ALS, and took to the links in support of the Hudson Valley Junior Achievement Golf Outling.  Ray Schneeberger, VP Sales, rschneeberger@fosinamarketinggroup.com.  203-546-5547.

     

    Donna Baier Stein, Brian Kurtz, and Bob Bly all spoke at the American Writers and Artists Institute 4-Day Copywriting Bootcamp in DelRay Beach FL in October.  Richard Armstrong gave the keynote address.  Donna Baier Stein, donna@writesontarget.com, 908-872-1775.
     

    The club presented its 2014 Mal Dunn Leadership Award sponsored by Alliant to Bruce Biegel, senior managing director, Winterberry Group, at a special luncheon on Thursday, September 11.  The Mal Dunn Leadership Award recognizes data-driven marketing professionals for their exemplary service to the field.
     

    Leon Henry Inc. is proud to announce their recertification by WBENC (The Women's Business Enterprise National Council) for the 6th year in a row.  Leon Henry Inc. is also certified as a New York State Woman Owned Business Enterprise.  Contact lh@leonhenryinc.com or call 914-285-3456. 

    Author: 

    dmcny

    To help bring our vibrant DM community closer, let us know what you and your company are up to!  Send your news to postings@dmcny.org.  Notices will be placed in the newsletter and online.

  • Bill Baird's picture

    DMCNY September Luncheon Notes - OmniChannel Marketing

    The September presentation by Paradysz and PM Digital’s co-founder and co-CEO Chris Paradysz and VP, Advisory Services Michael McVeigh focused on the growing need for Omnichannel marketing, the related challenges marketers face, and strategies and solutions to meet those challenges.

    The top takeaways were: 

    What is Omnichannel Marketing?  It’s a strategy that builds campaigns and infrastructure from the point of view of the customer.  It fights fragmentation to achieve customer-centric foundations.  And it drives content based on unique customer behaviors and histories. 

    Why is Omnichannel Marketing Necessary? Customers are spending more than double the amount of time per day on mobile devices vs. 4 years ago, as well as doubling the number of consultations prior to purchase.  They rely on more information sources and expect a seamless buying experience across the channels closest to those sources.  Furthermore, your competitors are investing in omnichannel: 83% of marketers said they intended to invest in it in 2014. 

    Who’s Doing it Right?  One example is Skriiiex, a 26-year-old music producer and DJ who produced $16m in revenue in 2013 using a vast portfolio of social media followers, fans, subscribers and downloadable sources.  Another strong example is Macy’s, where the stores are fulfillment centers; sales reps order products for customers on line; and budgets are omnichannel (and not in silo’s). 

    The Challenges.  Challenges include the fear of the strategic overhaul that omnichannel implies.  A transition to omnichannel threatens existing separate digital and offline groups.  And fractured & isolated capabilities contradict findings across the board. 

    The Process.  The key to successfully leveraging data across all touch points is to create a comprehensive view of how customers behave from channel to channel to understand (and optimize) the experience.  

    First understand your audience – what do they care about?  What are their preferences?  Your goal is to understand these customer profiles well enough to develop a marketing recipe strategy that will drive engagement. 

    Then segment your audience and build a contact strategy for each segment. 

    How Do You Know When You Need a Dashboard?  When weekly report attachments take up over 90% of your inbox storage … and amount to more than 90% of your unread messages.  (Or if your existing dashboard can’t pass the “Fortune Cookie Test”: Are you less likely to open your dashboard than a fortune cookie … or do you find its contents less informative?)

    What is an Effective Dashboard?  It scales up to an executive level; drills down to campaign, channel and customer segment; enables you as the user to interact by time period with filters to answer questions as they occur to you; and displays Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) versus goal and budget. 

    Competitive Dashboards.  In an omnichannel environment, things change quickly.  As with your own business, you need to know how effectively your competitors are growing, engaging and retaining customers in each channel.  You need to understand how they’re doing it.  And to determine whether you should emulate what they’re doing.   You should be doing this vigilantly across channels, using competitive dashboards.  

    Multichannel Attribution.  As of November 2013, 18% of marketers were practicing sophisticated cross-channel attribution, which identifies how spending in one channel effects responsiveness in another.  As of September 2013, 2% of marketers used a combined attribution strategy to achieve omnichannel success, and this number is growing rapidly.

  • Successful Copywriting in a Digital World

    Issue: 

    September, 2012

    The Digital Age has opened up an exciting array of new marketing channels. The challenge now is to match the message to the medium! Consider these excellent tips for multichannel copywriting.

    New media channels are exploding, and there’s no going back. In today’s world, Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, iPads, apps and Pinterest make even email marketing seem, well, 20th-century.

    The good news is that direct response copywriting skills are more relevant than ever.  The powerful, customer-focused call-to-action remains essential. 

    TIPS BY CHANNEL

    To execute a strong integrated campaign, you can’t just lift copy from Web page to email to direct mail.  Your content can be the same, but your voice, pace and structure have to come alive for each medium.

    Here are some tips for writing by channel in the Digital Age:

    Websites:  Invite people into your home.

    Websites need to have a strong customer-service orientation.  Welcome prospects with exactly what they’re looking for on the home page (including the offer featured in your promotions).  Be gracious:  Offer multiple ways to engage.  Make it easy for prospects to find what they want.  Provide clear choices that are user-focused.  Be orderly in structuring your site, so visitors can find where they want to go without searching all over and getting lost.

    Email: Test. Test. Test subject lines.

    Your “Sender” line should either be your company name or an individual known to the recipient.  Constantly test “Subject” lines that go right to the point of the prospect’s need; your reader’s unthinking brain is scanning 100 email titles for relevance!  Body copy should get right to the point.  Give your photos strong captions that link

    to action, in addition to your call-to-action links at top and bottom.   Create a strong, uncluttered Web landing page with the same look, which focuses only on this offer.  Alternate your hard-sell emails with messages that educate and engage.

    Twitter: Could 140 characters be too many? 

    Short, pithy, compelling – easier said than done, but using fewer than 140 characters will leave room for your username on retweets.   Lift your tweet phrasing from spoken language.  Watch for phrasings that get your attention in conversation or on TV.  Could you pose your tweet as a question?   Use more extreme words (craving v. hungry; must know now v. curious).  Be casual and personal, but not sloppy or self-focused.  If you’re posting for a company, make that clear, and stay within the brand personality.

    Facebook: Be natural. 

    This is a medium where the customers, not the companies, are in charge, so make sure you blend in.  Writing should be natural rather than corporate, upbeat, and very short (100 to 250 words recommended).  Think offers and headlines, and, when customers respond, positive or not, think, “Great! Market Research.

    Facebook.com/business will walk you through all their ever-evolving features.

    LinkedIn: Everyone benefits. 

    More straightforward than Facebook, LinkedIn is a good idea for just about every business and professional. Although the resumé format makes it easy to post your professional information, let your writing be a little more personal and enthusiastic than resumé style.  Less hard-sell, more friendly and enticing.

    Blogs: Make sure you have something to say. 

    It’s hard to be original all the time.  But it’s better to quote someone else than be obvious or trite.  Let your passions show.  Of all media, the blog should be the most personal. “I was thinking the other day...”  “One of my colleagues recently asked me about...”   Does it bother you that...?”

    Online Video: Talking heads still need a script. 

    Online videos are so cheap to make, but so often boring to view.  With a tight script (and a little rehearsal) you’ll make your point quickly and grab interest.  Craft your videos like three 10-second TV spots that together make a :30.

    Mobile: Growing fast, becoming huge.

    User behavior differs for computers, iPads and smartphones, so take the time to consider technical requirements, creative parameters and user behavior.  Picture your prospects walking around with a mobile phone in-hand.  What actions are they likely to take?  Not the same as sitting at a desk, that’s for sure!  Don’t use automated software to convert your website to mobile.  Instead, rank the actions your smartphone users perform when they’re out and about, and write your mobile site accordingly.

    Direct Mail: Don’t underestimate it.

    Direct mail is still a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, but in the digital age, don’t take any element for granted.  Going after a younger market?   Think conceptual, edgy postcards and QR codes.  Find out if localization is an option.  Use the larger direct mail real estate to appeal to hearts and minds: Think heartwarming photos and factual pie charts, and make their captions do some heavy lifting.  Your letter should be heartfelt, personal, informative and persuasive, but remember, only the person who’s already sold is going to read the whole letter.  So focus on your envelope teaser, callouts, captions, and reply form to reel them in.  Create integrated direct mail and email campaigns – and look for stronger results than from either channel alone.

    The bottom line?  Whatever your medium, stay focused on user behavior.  Your call-to-action is king.

    Author: 

    Ann Goodstein
    Ann Goodstein's picture

    Ann Goodstein is president of Goodstein Integrated Marketing, creating campaigns for corporations and non-profits since 1990.  Reach her at 212-807-6974 or goodstein@goodstein.net.

  • Building and Leveraging Customer Insights in a Digital Age

    Issue: 

    September, 2012

    How can you keep up with the needs of your customers when their preferences can change in the blink of an eye—or the flash of a screen? The key lies in maintaining cutting-edge data.

    It’s no secret that shoppers in today’s digital world have many options when making buying decisions, and that a well-timed and appropriately targeted message can make all the difference in gaining new

    customers and keeping them.  However, simply sending them welcome notes and standardized solicitations at regular intervals is not enough anymore; each customer requires different communications through different channels at different times.

    Building customer intelligence is the key to developing deeper, more profitable relationships with your buyers, and it all begins with the right data.

    IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

    The digital world presents businesses and customers alike with new choices and options every day.  Tools like Google AdWords help marketers target customers with ads based on the websites they’ve visited, and shoppers can easily conduct comparisons of products and prices online.

    Thankfully, tracking customer behavior is easier than ever, with the availability of details like:

    • How customers find you
    • What information they seek from you
    • How long they spend on your site before making a purchase
    • Whether they purchase items for others
    • How often they log in, and what they do when they log in
    • Whether they open your emails and if they click through

    Furthermore, this information can be combined with other data – such as when customers come into a specific store or call a business – to get a more complete behavioral picture.

    • Does a customer regularly buy one product online, but prefer to come into the store for other products?
    • How do you use that information to tailor that customer’s experience?
    • If a customer has decreased their engagement with your business, can you proactively offer them a new product or solution before they turn elsewhere to fulfill their needs?

    Tracking your customers’ behaviors will enable you to consistently answer questions like these, and determine when, why, and how to contact each individual buyer — and better show that you understand their ever-changing needs.

    In addition to basic behavioral data, businesses can also leverage descriptive customer data.  Information from trusted third-party data providers such as InfoUSA and Experian can provide an overview of characteristics such as age, income range, ethnicity, occupation, and shopping preferences, for example.  But such data must be used wisely: It’s important not to cross the line between “relevant” and “relentless.”  For instance, don’t harass frequent and satisfied customers with new-product suggestions daily.

    COLLECT AND USE DATA RIGHT FROM THE START

    In order to keep customer “churn” to manageable levels and hold down acquisition costs, companies should begin a nurturing and relationship-deepening program right from the start with a communications-based “onboarding” program for new customers.

    Starting the relationship off on the right foot with targeted communications that demonstrate you understand – and care – about your customer’s individual needs is critical.  Whatever the medium, whether online or in person, reflecting back to customers that you’ve understood what they’ve told you about themselves and their needs is the key to engaging them in an ongoing, one-to-one dialogue that earns long-term loyalty and creates value.

    THREE STEPS TO LEVERAGING USABLE CUSTOMER DATA

    How can you get started right away and begin leveraging data assets to build customer insights you can use?  Break the process down into three steps:

    1. Make sure you are aware of (and keep track of) all available customer behavioral and descriptive data.  If you

    use Google to deliver online ads, that’s a great place to start; if you are communicating with your customers through email, your email service provider can supply data on bounce, open, and click-through rates, and other critical response information.

    2. Begin using that data to generate insights.  Which customers are buying what products and services?  Which are more responsive to emails, which to online ads?  Are certain customers responsible for a larger share of sales and profits than other customers?

    3. Use those insights to drive customer-centric actions. Implement an onboarding program to target new customers with relevant information that will cement your relationship for years to come.  Offer your best customers your best deals; create different email messages for different segments depending on their buying behaviors and descriptive characteristics.  

    These are all ways to create deeper, more mutually valuable customer relationships based on data-driven insights.  What matters most is simply getting started, and keeping your eye on the most important asset your business has – your customer.

    Author: 

    Tony Coretto
    Tony Coretto's picture

    Tony Coretto is the co-founder and co-CEO of PNT Marketing Services, Inc., an award-winning database marketing consultancy and four-time member of the Inc5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in America.  For more information on Tony and PNT, visit the company website at www.pntmarketingservices.com.  Reach him

    at tony@pntmarketingservices.com.

  • 28th Annual ‘Silver Apples’ Recognizes Industry’s Best

    Issue: 

    January, 2013

    As everyone on Broadway knows, in New York, the show must go on!  Hurricane Sandy may have forced the move of the 2012 Silver Apple Gala to the evening of January 24, 2013, but the show went on—as a sell-out.

    The stage lights were shining bright and warm inside the Edison Ballroom, where a packed house of more than 250 extended their congratulations to this year’s Silver Apple recipients – Scott Fenwick, Jim Fosina, Don Hinman, Harvey Markovitz, Pegg Nadler, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, as well as corporate Silver Apple recipient McVicker & Higginbotham, and Golden Apple honoree Leon Henry.

    The Silver Apples honor practitioners in our field – individuals and a corporate contributor who have given 25 years to the betterment of measurable, accountable direct and interactive marketing, all the while showing leadership, vision, passion and commitment. The Special Golden Apple recognizes a half century of service. As Direct Marketing Club of New York president Cyndi Lee stated, “These are inspirational leaders who motivate others to embrace great marketing ideas and lead their teams toward success.”

    Since the first Silver Apples were named in 1985, approximately 225 Silver Apple honors have been bestowed by DMCNY.

    It’s perhaps this very inspiration that also gave the festive evening a somber undertone, in that a longtime leader in our field – the Silver Apple and Golden Apple recipient Lee Epstein – passed away just one day before the gala. James Prendergast, in the evening’s invocation, dedicated the evening to Lee, and quoted Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” 

     “Lee was an ambassador, an educator and a friend – a gentle giant whose door was never closed,” Prendergast said.  Throughout the evening, several recipients invoked a personal and professional testament to Lee, crediting his mentorship and contributions to our marketing discipline, and to his friendship and philanthropy. [The Epstein family has established The Lee and Rose Lansman Epstein Scholarship at The City College Fund, 160 Convent Avenue, Shepard Hall, Room 166, New York, NY 10031; www.citycollegefund.org/donate.]

    The event being held at the Great White Way, it was also fitting that Co-MCs Joseph Furgiuele (a past honoree) and Pamela Haas kicked the award-giving off with their own Frank Sinatra-like renditions of My Way and New York, New York – with lyrics politely rewritten to toast the Silver Apples. 

    The party was on! Ralph Stevens, a Golden Apple recipient himself in 2011, took the podium to present Leon Henry a Golden Apple for his more than 50 years of service. In his acceptance remarks, Leon noted that when he began in package inserts, there were hardly any competitors. Today, there are more than 2,000 insert distributors, Leon said.  Talk about innovating your way into a niche, and helping to give birth to an entire marketing channel. Leon also had received a Silver Apple in 1992, and his firm Leon Henry Inc., where he is chairman, received the corporate honor in 2006.

    And speaking of entrepreneurs, Pam presented the evening’s first Silver Apple to Jim Fosina, founder and chief executive officer of Fosina Marketing Group. Jim acknowledged Lee Epstein as an “icon and innovator” but also thanked Leon Henry, Arthur Blumenfield and – from Jim’s days at Grolier Enterprises – Dante Cirilli, whom he singled out for showing him how to pick a winning team. “I love accountability. I love the way we stay ahead of the wave of consumer purchase behavior,” said Jim, who also credited his family. “My parents taught me to change my way of believing and doing from ‘I think I can’ to ‘I know I can… and I will’.”

    Martha Rogers, Ph.D., accepted the Silver Apple on behalf of herself and Don Peppers, founding partners of Peppers & Rogers Group, and authors of nine books that have sold more than 1 million copies.  What people may not know is that their 20+-year collaboration began with a 90-second conversation, and that Don had been educated as an aeronautical engineer. Martha also noted the date they first met – January 21, 1990, or “one-two-one” 1990. [Yes, that was Dick Cavett in the room – he is Martha’s husband.]

    Silver Apples honoree Pegg Nadler, president, Pegg Nadler Associates, Inc., did her best to blame everyone else for her being named a recipient this year: her husband, Michael; the past presidents of the DMCNY (who name the Silver Apples recipients each and every year, led by Reggie Brady); past employers Abrams Books, Hadassah, and Metromail among others; the Direct Marketing Association (full-time work at volunteer pay); and past recipients Reggie Brady and Ruth Stevens. Yet the biggest cheer came when the self-proclaimed “database princess” credited the “database queen” Bernice Grossman as her chief source for learning. For the Silver Apple honor, Pegg says she now forgives them all.

    It would take a column twice this long for the list of thank you’s from Professor Harvey Markovitz, clinical associate professor of marketing, Pace University, who noted his professional years at JC Penney, Columbia House and Broadcast Marketing Corp. He thanked most fervently Lee Epstein and William Denhard for their support in helping to launch the Interactive & Direct Marketing Lab, a student-run integrated marketing agency, first at Baruch College and later at Pace. Harvey’s students over the years have garnered more than 100 Collegiate ECHO Awards from the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation.

    Honoree Donald Hinman, Ph.D., senior vice president, data strategy, Epsilon Targeting – widely known in our business as “Dr. Data” – was “Big Data before there was Big Data,” noted Joe Furgiuele, Don having worked at Allant Professional Services, Acxiom Corporation, National Demographics & Lifestyles, Inc., as well as the Arbitron Ratings Corporation. “I’m a numbers guy,” Don said, “I’ve been to every DMA Annual for the past 29 years, and of the 225 Silver Apples recipients, I know 75 of them.” Don also credited Tim Prunk, Phillip Dresden (a Silver Apple honoree from 2000), and former Chief Marketer columnist Richard Levey (now editorial director at Aimia), all of whom were present for the occasion.

    Scott Fenwick, vice president – sales training and development, ValueClick Media, served as MC at the 2011 Silver Apples, and this year it was his turn to receive the honor. His expertise in presenting, negotiating, networking and closing the deal were on display as he shared a coaching technique from another past honoree Andrea Nierenberg:  “Everyone, stand up and reach above your heads with both hands as high as you can.” Then he asked everyone, “Now, reach two inches higher.” Scott thanked Lee Epstein for leading him to B’nai B’rith and for Scott’s subsequent involvement with DMCNY, the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island, the Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association and as an adjunct professor at New York University. Scott also noted that it was his mother who introduced him to direct marketing – she was a catalog mail order director!

    The loudest cheering section of the evening came from employees and associates of the corporate honoree, McVicker & Higginbotham, the direct-response services agency behind some of New York City’s most important non-profit institutions: the American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Opera and North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital, among others. Perhaps that’s because Tim Kennon leads the McVicker team as the “cheerleader” who said of his staff: “THEY MAKE ME LOOK SO GOOD!!” 

    Among the past Silver Apple honorees at the gala were Stu Boysen, Kathy Duggans-Joseph, JoAnne Manfredi Dunn, Jonah Gitlitz, Richard Goldsmith, Joseph Gomez, Henry “Hank” Hoke, Karen Isenberg (who served as the Silver Apples Gala co-chair this year with Sharon Mahoney), Marjorie Kalter, Liz Kislik, John Papalia, Brian Wolfe, Jerry Messer, Walter Neff, Chris Paradysz, Adrea Rubin, Ron Sichler and John Von Achen. Past honorees who had passed away this past year include Lee Epstein, Elliot Abrams, Arline Feigen, Neil Keating, Jon Lambert and Milt Pierce.

    For full biographies of the 2012 Silver Apple honorees, visit the DMCNY Web site: http://www.dmcny.org/2012silverapple-bios

    Author: 

    Chet Dalzell
    Chet Dalzell's picture

    Chet Dalzell is an independent public relations strategist and practitioner in the direct and interactive field, with more than 25 years’ experience. Reach him at chet.dalzell@yahoo.com.

  • Getting to Know Anonymous Consumers — What’s Your Strategy?

    Issue: 

    January, 2013

    This is an exciting time, full of amazing opportunities for marketers.

    Given all the change – consumer expectations, technologies, devices, the economy –

    marketers face a monumental task in reaching and grabbing the attention of consumers. Does your brand have a strategy for getting to know, and connect with, consumers individually?

    Identifying Consumers Along the Path to Purchase 

    Each consumer is on his or her own path to purchase. Only in understanding this path can a brand know the next right thing to say, and when and where to say it. 

    A specific challenge facing marketers is the notion of the “anonymous” consumer. Consumers, for the most part, research and shop anonymously and form an independent purchase decision before they step foot into a retail store or log onto a web site. While there is typically a mountain of data about consumers available from many sources, it can’t always be relied upon to be complete or compiled in one place or format. 

    Brand marketers today must be relentless about data collection.  When a brand knows something about a current or potential customer, it can use that insight to influence the purchase when the consumer is in the market. The objective must be to pull together all available data to identify where a consumer is along the path to purchase, and then collect what is missing to form a complete picture. 

    The good news is that consumers will tell you who they are and what they want, as long as you give them a reason to do so.  Here is some advice: 

    • Engaged consumers are more profitable and more loyal than others. Through “engineered engagement” with consumers — while respecting their preferences and asking permission — you can determine the right expression of your brand and product features that appeal to an individual consumer. 
    • Consumers prefer to receive personally relevant information. Conduct meaningful conversations on each consumer’s terms, and then tailor interactions to meet specific needs. 
    • The customer’s journey is longitudinal and not consistent. Just when you think you have it all figured out, the consumer changes. To successfully identify and engage with the consumer today, be willing and able to meet the consumer where they are, and in a relevant and engaging manner. An integrated multichannel program is a necessity to provide a cohesive experience. Consider the behaviors around each channel – from direct mail to social media – and build a plan that leverages multiple touch points and evokes action.
    • Be prepared to modify the engagement process in real time, on the fly, to keep in step with the consumer.

    The changing market is exciting and opening up a world of possibilities. But, one thing remains true: Engaging with consumers one-on-one helps marketers design and deliver a differentiating and impactful customer experience — and that is the strategy that will pay out for both consumer and brand.  

    Author: 

    Michele Fitzpatrick
    Michele Fitzpatrick's picture

    Michele Fitzpatrick is senior vice president, strategy & insight for The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks, and a speaker at the DMCNY September 2012 luncheon. Reach her at Michele_Fitzpatrick@Harte-Hanks.com.

  • Turn Your “Follower” Relationships into Business and Profit

    Issue: 

    January, 2013

    Branding and dialogue are excellent first steps – but they don’t pay the rent.  

    To me, customer acquisition is getting somebody to buy from you for the very first time. Customer retention is getting a person who was bought from you at least one time to buy from you again. 

    Branding is getting your product or service to be a part of the decision set when members of your targeted market segment want to purchase the product or service you sell.

    Today, with an emphasis placed on gaining social media "followers," or being "liked," or in some other way engaging with your online suspects, prospects and customers, we need to understand that these efforts cost money and must be measured in terms of revenue and renewability. 

    Consider the amount of thought and effort put into understanding how you can improve your results from a direct mail campaign by just one or two tenths of a percent. You test offers, formats, headlines, and so many others variables in a structured fashion where you can measure and attribute results to tested variables. Consider how you test different mailing lists, and segments of lists to maximize your results.

    It is important to put the same effort and pay attention to the same details when engaging with your followers and other "fan-based" constituents.

    Closed mouths don’t get fed

    Many businesses today are handling their "followers" with kid gloves. They seem to be hesitant to use time-tested techniques to commercialize relationships.

    It is important to recognize that your "followers" chose to initiate a relationship with your business. So you can consider them real prospects, and many of them may already be your customers. You have the opportunity to grow your relationship with them.

    Ask for the order

    A good place to begin is by segmenting your "followers." First, find your customers by matching transactional data. For everyone you can’t identify, ask them how they perceive of their relationship. You can do this directly with a poll, or a survey, or using more subtle tactics. 

    Some marketers will express concern about alienating people in the delicate world of social media. To me, the reality is people will either want to solidify their relationship with you or they won’t. History dictates some of these people will never buy from you. The ones who truly have an interest in your company, products and services will respond to your efforts. This will empower you with knowledge you can use.

    Now you should be on familiar ground. Now that your “followers” are organized by segment, develop strategies for each segment and work your magic.

    Cultivating your “followers” has significant advantages

    Your cost to develop new customers from these prospects will be lower than a traditional acquisition effort since the names are essentially free, and there is already some basic bonding between you and them, which bodes well for anticipated response rates. 

    For retention, or getting your “following” current customers to buy again, social media represents another touch point where you can make an offer, with the added advantage of enhance customer insight from your interactive dialogue.  This makes me wonder: Should we create a new model called XRFM, where a person’s “expressed interest” might prove more predictive than RFM alone?  

    Once you recognize the value of commercializing relationships with your “followers;” once you realize that a good number of them will be responsive to your efforts; and once you accept the fact that many “followers” are going to never become customers; then you will be able to test the value of marketing to the “follower” segments and calculate whether your branding efforts to attract and engage “followers” are significant to your business.

    Author: 

    Myron Gould
    Myron Gould's picture

    Myron Gould is a Professor of Marketing and Management at New York University, and consults on business planning and strategy development. Reach him at mgould@crmnetwork.com, or on Twitter @nyuprof or @bplanwritercom.

  • Integrated Digital/Direct Marketing Offers Life Beyond Direct Mail

    Issue: 

    June, 2012

    The bad news: The digital marketing landscapeis fickle, changing almost daily.  The good news: Direct marketers, trainedto focus on the customer, are uniquely qualifiedto meet the digital challenge.  Here are a few tips for creating integrated direct/digital marketing campaigns like a DM pro.

    Back in 2004, I attended a conference on digital printing and had an epiphany that my team’s livelihood (as well as my own) as a print production agency was vulnerable.  Traditional marketers were just beginning to come to grips with the idea that the Internet was changing everything.  Then and there, I developed a philosophy of “adapt or perish.”

    How we ‘went digital’

    Our agency added marketing-strategy and creative services – first through outside partners, and later through additions to our staff.  We bought shares in a Web development company to help us with all

    the coding that the building of Web applications requires.  The transition is ongoing, but if nothing else, those moves have given our agency an opportunity to thrive.  Did I have an exact idea of what our results would be?  No way.  And I still don’t.  However, I’m happy to tell you that you do not need to have all the answers before you begin your own transition to digital. The best thing you can do is take your first steps – and keep going. 

    What the heck is an integrated marketing campaign?

    Since our transition, we have accomplished a number of fully integrated marketing campaigns.  From my experience, they are like snowflakes: No two are exactly alike.  Any number of channels might be used – but there is no set number.  Fully digital campaigns (ie, those without a broadcast, nonelectronic outdoor, or mail component, etc.) are wonderfully measurable (something we direct marketers live and breathe every day) and often quite involved.

    Like any good direct marketers, we always begin by establishing what we will be measuring at the end of the campaign.  How do we drive customers to the various digital outlets – such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook?  We sometimes use blog posts to drive SEO; we often use SEM to help us understand what to do in SEO; and we create campaign landing pages or (on occasion) personalized URLs (pURLS) to offer visitors a planned Web experience when they answer a survey, enter a contest or watch a video created especially for the campaign.

    Based on what we’re learning in our ongoing transition to digital, here are three survival tips to take to heart:

    Embrace mobile. The mobile aspect of marketing is taking center stage – as smartphone users keep their devices within grabbing distance at all times.  The great thing about working in the mobile space is that we are as experienced (or inexperienced!) as all the other firms out there!  Marketers know that user experiences in mobile (and tablets, too) have to be different than those on a desktop or laptop.  Direct marketers are extremely well-suited to help clients achieve success in the mobile space, based on their trained focus on the customer.

    Look outside borders for brand-new opportunities – and start now!  We just launched our first integrated marketing campaign for China’s giant search engine Alibaba.com.  I felt it took forever, but I am told that getting there in less than 2 years was a “real accomplishment.”  The point here is that a change in direction takes time to achieve – but you can do it!

    Our campaign for Alibaba.com integrates infographics, surveys, sweepstakes, events, social media, and whitepaper content we’ve created on their behalf.  We’ve used email, display advertising and social

    media to generate interest and excitement.  But I gained agreement from our client from the start that their objectives were aligned with good, old-fashioned direct marketing principles.

    Alibaba.com is doing little or no brand advertising.  They have a really cool platform that few Americans are aware of – and that is the marketing challenge.  We’ve planned video creation with distribution via social media for a future campaign.  And we’re rolling. (Quite a step forward for a print production agency!)

    When you get to a fork in the road – take it.  (Sorry. I couldn’t resist a little Yogi Berra reference.)  The proverbial bottom line is this: In order to make headway in direct/digital marketing, you need to dive in all the way without knowing how deep is the ocean.  Since you already know how to swim (you have the best training around – as a direct marketer), just keep the shoreline in sight, and your focus on the customer.  That way, your company is bound to expand its marketing horizons.

    Author: 

    Mark Kolier
    Mark Kolier's picture

    Mark Kolier is the founder and president of CGSM, Inc. (www.cgsm.com), and is responsible for overseeing the strategic evolution ofthe company into a full-service marketing organization.  Reach him at 203-563-9233 or markk@cgsm.com.

  • Thinking Outside the Box with Content Marketing

    Issue: 

    May, 2013

    I’m a dyed-in-the-wool direct marketer, so this is going to sound like heresy.  I propose to champion an indirect method of marketing and selling, namely content marketing.  You’re probably thinking, “What, no call to action?” or “Where’s the ROI for indirect marketing?”

    But let’s take a close look at content marketing. To an email marketer, content marketing actually makes a lot of sense.  In fact, compelling and engaging content and content-based offers are methods that are very effective in convincing your audience to act.

    So, what is content marketing? 

    Content marketing is the technique of creating, curating and distributing relevant and valuable information to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well-understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

    If I haven’t grabbed you yet, notice that the definition is all about targeted marketing to drive profitable actions.  That’s not so far afield of direct marketing!

    I’ll address content creation in a moment, but let me first explain content curation.  This aspect of content marketing allows a company to cull ideas available from a myriad of sources, decide on the most important resources, and package the information with the company’s point of view in mind.  As an example, if I wanted to position my company as an expert in direct marketing, I’d research credible sources, select authoritative information and then put my own spin on why direct marketing is valuable.  I would also be careful to credit my sources.

    Why should you care about content marketing?

    Content marketing allows you to reach your target audiences in new and different ways, among them:

    •       Content marketing helps you attract additional audiences, by building trust and credibility. Lots of people don’t want to be hit over the head with a heavy hammer these days.  Traditional marketing communications may not work with this kind of prospect.  

    •       You’ll drive more traffic to your website.  Search engines are increasingly tweaking their algorithms to give sites credit for credible content.

    •       Content marketing addresses your sales funnel in engaging ways, by providing the right message to the right people at the right time.

    How to become an effective content marketer

    Every company has content.  You probably have as blog posts, videos, presentations, photos, webinars, marketing collateral, press releases, industry articles and white papers already in hand. 

    Here are the top ten content marketing vehicles.  I’ll bet you are already using at least half of these already.  Consider testing even more.

    1.       Social media—a great way to get your content shared and to get your audience engaged.

    2.       E-newsletters—a perfect vehicle to build and deepen relationships with those who want to hear from you.

    3.       Articles on your website.  Well-written articles let you address issues, trends and topics of interest to targeted audiences.

    4.       Press releases and clips.   Today, your audience of influencers is no longer just journalists. You need to be cultivating anyone online who accesses search engines, RSS feeds or social media for information on a topic of interest.

    5.       Blog posts.  A blog offers an easy way to present short chunks of frequently refreshed web content.

    6.       Videos.  Video is hot!  Possibly the most powerful vehicle for engaging customers and prospects. 

    7.       Print magazines and catalogs.  Direct marketers have been in the business of providing content for years.

    8.       Infographics—which present complex information quickly and clearly.  A perfect opportunity for content curation.

    9.       White papers.  Used primarily by B-to-B marketers, white papers deliver thought leadership on a topic of interest.  They can also present research, provide product usage tips, or highlight a particular product or service.

    10.   Webinars, webcasts and podcasts—which give marketers the opportunity to capture attention and present products and services.  When archived, their influence grows with time. 

    I am going to assume you do have content already available in your company.  Now it’s time to re-purpose or re-package your content for a minimum of three marketing channels.  Content marketing is about leveraging information so that your audience may find you on social media, on your site, from search engines or via links from external sites.  So take up the challenge.  This stuff is really direct marketing!

    Author: 

    Reggie Brady
    Reggie Brady's picture

    Reggie Brady is president of Reggie Brady Marketing Solutions, a direct and email marketing consultancy.  Reach her at 203-838-8138 or reggie@reggiebrady.com

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