What’s new in the neighbourhood? That’s the question that posters and banners are designed to answer. They tend to focus on the immediate, the now. Signs tend to focus on the brand and the location. Either way, they are messages between you and the market. Okay, so these are things that most of us already know. So what? Well, there are a few facts we should keep in mind.
First, design is critical to your image, in fact, for many, it is their image, at least the first impression anyway. The University of Cincinnati and Better Homes and Gardens conducted a study on signage in October of 2011. What they found was that of 200 business school students, 79% said that the quality of the signage inferred the quality of the company. It’s a handshake, a first impression. You are what you project. So, if you advertise with a hand painted sign or a low resolution picture banner, you might sell a lot of used lawn furniture, but don’t expect to sell any diamond rings.
Next, if you are a new business, signage tells people that you have arrived. Use it. When we opened our first business, it was on a busy street corner. We set up a large well lit awning sign and we kept it lit all night. There was a bus stop across the street and the bus drivers called out the stop with our name as that destination. We were so prominent we became an immediate fixture. In our first year of operation, we set a record for the highest first year dollar volume location of some 400 North American locations in over 20 years. I’m not saying it was the sign, but it sure helped. It will help you too.
And just to restate the obvious, make the sign big and clear. That U of C study mentioned above also discovered that 50% of consumers drive by and miss small or unclear signs even when they are looking for that location. Not only that but, 64% of women aged 18 to 24 will miss the sign under the same conditions. There is just too much visual competition. For signs trying to attract drive by traffic, the layout is very important. Your logo should be in the top left along with a graphic and one or two key words. That’s all the time they have to read your message. Too much information and your message will be lost. It will become a blur. A blur just doesn’t sell stuff. Locating your message shouldn’t become an Easter Egg Hunt.
Did you know that after television, consumers considered indoor signage as tied with magazines as the most useful source of new product information? Well, neither did I until I read that U of C study. So what? Well, you can capitalize on this by placing product information signs in your business. Think of it as an informative customer service person spreading your message all day, every day. By the way, that same study showed that outdoor signs were the third most useful source of new product information. Are you in a mall or on a busy street with windows? If so, you know what to do.
And the, “But Wait There’s More” moment:
Remember QR Codes? We talked about them in June of this year. Where ever possible, every banner and poster should have a QR Code. It changes the static to the dynamic. It takes your customers and prospects to your other communications media. If successful, it engages them to interact with your brand in the worlds of email and web. It develops a relationship and that helps to grow your company.
Next: So many choices…So little time and money. Now what?
Now, how about something we can really get our hands around?
Trinkets and trash, that’s what they used to call promotional products and advertising specialties. It was stuff you gave away as an afterthought without any real consideration of its impact. You just did it because… well, that’s what someone said to do. They bought it and you had to give it away. As it turns out, these items have a lot more value than some people think.
Promotional products have become an $18+ Billion dollar world-wide industry. Almost every major brand on this planet uses promotional products. There are literally hundreds of thousands of products to choose from. Practically any item that you can think of has been transformed into a promotional product. Why? Because name recognition and brand retention is strengthened through the use of this form of advertising. The life span or staying power of these products can be very long and thus your message is seen again and again, sometimes over years and to a wide ranging audience. Once again, rarely is marketing a home run. It is a series of hits and a series of runs – back to our reference to “Moneyball”. Promotional products are one more tool to keep your game alive for a very long time.
Now, back to the trinkets and trash comment, ME wants something useful not just clutter. If the item is useful, ME will keep it. If it has ME’s name on it then ME will keep it for a very long time. As an example, on and around my desk I myself have one branded calendar, two branded travel mugs and scores of branded pens. I see the names of those companies every day, all day and each item they have given me is useful. That’s why I use them.
The promotional product industry also consists of employee recognition items. This is all about motivating, rewarding and retaining employees. Providing an employee with an item that has their name on it is a special moment. Rarely do people discard an item that has their name on it. Our offices have well over 100 awards with our company’s and our employees’ names on them. Some awards were presented over 40 years ago. Again, it is all part of building the team and subsequently, the brand.
Let’s look at some statistics from a study performed by the Advertising Specialty Institute.
The 2012 State of the Industry report in Counselor magazine lists the top 26 categories of promotional products sold. Shirts are the undisputed leader with 20% of revenue. 42% of men and 30% of women own a promo shirt. Writing instruments account for 7.3% of revenue and have the highest retention percentages. 56% of women and 46% of men own one of these. Calendars account for 4% of revenue. 28% of women and 19% of men own a promotional calendar. 81% of people surveyed said that they kept a promotional product because it was useful.
In summary, promotional products can help build the retention of your brand in the marketplace and within your company. Of course, the more useful the product or the more special the moment, then the more likely it will be kept and displayed for all to see. Promote your web site on the item and engage people on another media. It’s one more way to work cross media marketing.
Next week:Posters, Banners and Signs: Focusing on the Neighbourhood
Just In From Twitter One Minute Ago…
Twitter. 140 characters. 340 million tweets per day. 500 million followers. Overwhelming. It is the ultimate in, “Get to the Point” communications and the ultimate panacea for short attention spans. It has become THE source of real time data. Even then, although many sign on, many sign off. About 47% of followers are no longer active on Twitter, according to ExactTarget. They leave because there is too much clutter in their world of communications. 52% of Followers stop following brands because the messages are too boring. This is not a good start, but having a Twitter presence can have significant benefits for a brand.
Let’s look at the profile of a frequent follower on Twitter. According to Edison Research: one third is between the ages of 25 – 34; they are more educated and have higher incomes than average; they are early adopters of technology. They are voracious consumers and contributors of online information. They will follow a brand on Twitter for the usual reasons – real time deals, promotions and sales, being the first to know and of course, that exclusive content that “club members” always have. We have seen them before. They are ME, but with a twist. Not only do they say, “What’s in it for ME?” but, they say, “What’s in it for ME Right Now!” For this article, let’s call them Digital ME.
So, while the passive users of Twitter continue to decline, the active users continue to grow. Digital ME are the users that you want. Digital ME wants to know more about the personality of a brand. When it finds out, Digital ME is a very influential distributor of information. In fact, much like Facebook that we discussed earlier, this is your real target in the world of Twitter. Digital ME, the influencers are 79% more likely to recommend brands they follow. ExactTarget has a phrase, “What happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.”
Again, like the Facebook approach, try to link Digital ME to your permission-based email subscriber activity. Offer exclusive content or promotions on the email account for the Twitter followers. Constantly link your multimedia activity for higher returns.
Follow Michael and the Allegra team on Twitter: @allegra_ca
Next week: Marketing The Tangibles… Now, how about something we can really get our hands around?
Facebook is a party. It is not a trip to the mall. Facebook is a doorway to family and friends. We bring our pictures and all kinds of information about us to the party. We share. We play games there, connect to old friends and make new ones. We review our past and we plan our futures on Facebook. It’s fun. According to a recent ExactTarget study, 30% call it their “guilty pleasure” It has become an alternate life, a place to kill time, an escape. It is a place of serendipitous discoveries where we discover things we were not even looking for. It has been called the “default social community” and most of the community says that marketers are not welcome. Period. Yet…here’s the rub, the ultimate tease, according to a Nielson study in 2009, 90% of the Facebook community trusts product recommendations from Friends. We are not allowed in, but, but, if we can get there, then Oh Boy, Look Out. We are on a rocket ship to marketing nirvana.
So, focusing again on ME. When ME goes to Email, Google and LinkedIn, ME takes their wallets. That’s the trip to the mall. ME is going to shop. ME is looking for deals. If ME met and Liked You at the Facebook party, ME might look you up if you gave ME a deal. 58% of Fans expect this according to ExactTarget. Remember, just because ME Liked you at the party, it doesn’t mean you have permission to call ME. If you start constantly calling (marketing to) ME without permission, then ME will drop you. 44% will Unlike you if you post too frequently. The question remains: How do we get ME, that we met at the Facebook party, to Like our company and visit us at the mall and shop with us?
First, be entertaining when you are at the party and every time you call. Remember it’s a party. ME is there for fun. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not ME it’s you. A recent report, “The Power of Like” a collaboration between comScore and Facebook, talks about how social marketing works. It states that accumulating Fans is only the first step. The next step is accumulating Friends of Fans and thus amplifying the marketing message. They talk about Fan Reach, Engagement and Amplification. Once the brand has been seen on Facebook, presumably for this discussion from “paid media” (an ad), it then attempts to Reach its Fans via the News Feed and their Brand Pages. If it is “entertaining” enough, Fans become Engaged and they talk to their Friends about the brand. This is “earned media” and thus we have Amplification. Yes, it’s all about gossip. One Fan talks about the brand to a Friend and that Friend talks to another Friend etc. etc. So, although an initial brand Engagement rate might be just 1%, it is Amplified to a factor of 10 or more. It cascades.
That’s the theory with some supporting data. The author, Andrew Lipsman was reported in Time Business on August 7, 2012 as stating that there was still not enough data and that the process will play itself out over the next couple of years. Right now, it appears that the stock market has decided not to wait. It’s hard to sell products at a party when people only attend for fun.
Of course, the next step in cascading Fans and Friends of Fans into customers is to seek permission for one to one marketing via ME’s favourite digital marketing channel – Email. You, know, the shopping channel. One more step in cascading media.
Next week: We Interrupt Your Life To Bring You This… Just In From Twitter One Minute Ago!
Check out the introduction to this old TV series, The Twilight Zone. So what do you think? Does this represent marketing’s journey into the world of Social Media? Using the key of imagination unlocking the door to another dimension, one of sound, sight and mind into a land of shadow and substance of things and ideas. Crossing over into The Twilight Zone. Well, If your answer is yes, there are many marketers and financial analysts that would agree with you. The highway behind us is littered with the bodies of those who have tried and failed, but the good news is that some have succeeded. Let’s see why. “The key of imagination unlocking the door to another dimension” or we might say, “Two guys in their parent’s garage fiddling with the internet”.
I like the first version better, but the second speaks to the reality of social media. The other reality is that these social media vehicles rise and fall with amazing speed. Think Digg, Friendster, MySpace and Napster as some of the names from the past. Today we are witnessing the following companies drop in value from their initial public offerings: Zynga down 81%,Groupon down 77%, Facebook down 45%. On July 2, 2012 Microsoft took a $6.1 billion dollar write-off of aQuantive, the online advertising company it purchased in 2007. It has never made money for Microsoft. On the flip side we have Google up 80% and LinkedIn up 130%. Here we are with the “shadow and substance of things and ideas”.
Some good news facts are: Syncapse Social Trac Report states that 28% of fans are loyal users and that
the average fan is 41% more likely to recommend the company. 48% of people aged 18 – 34 check their Facebook when they wake up. The Hubspot March 2012 report on the State of Inbound Marketing states that 65% of companies have acquired B2B customers through LinkedIn and 77% of companies have acquired B2C customers through Facebook. In a 2012 social media study comScore reports that Fans and Friends of Fans spend about 2x as much on average in Amazon, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.
Who will survive and who will not? Why do some make money and stay in existence while others lose money and eventually disappear and why should you care? The answer to both questions is: ADVERTISING. Some sites do this well and some do not. People on some sites accept advertising and people on some sites do not. You want to be on a site that implements advertising well and that people accept the advertising. In other words, ME accepts YOU.
Reflecting back on our many discussions about ME and you will recall that ME has a firm grip on the channel changer. ME controls the conversation and they are not giving that up. If the relationship falls apart, it’s not ME it’s you.
Here’s a tidbit for you: the July 7, 2012 issue of the Economist magazine quoted a representative of Moonbeam Development (yes, you read that right – two guys in a garage again) that used the company Leadbolt to PUSH ads into people’s mobile notification bars without their consent. They received death threats. How’s that for a tight grip on the control of the conversation for you? That is a world of crazy. So how do you win in this environment? One word: PERMISSION.
As pointed out in our discussion about Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing requires PERMISSION. It also requires respect, empathy and relevance. Content is king. As Lyris pointed out in their November 2011 report, email and social media are the only two permission based channels. You don’t just barge in with your offer. They are not the “interruption based advertising” of TV and radio. The psychology of this seems not to have hit home with the advertising crowd. In their pursuit of the social media gold rush they see lots of targets (i.e. potential customers) gathering on a site and they deploy the old “push” style advertising that they are used to, the “spray and pray” method of marketing. Successful marketing in the social media world is achieved today through content and cascading media.
Next week: Social Media…Fans, Friends and Cascading Media
To continue with our dance theme from the last entry, let’s look at the start of the dance. We need to be heard. We need a microphone. One that works. We need to test that mic. Direct Mail needs to be tested. Tap, tap, tap. Do you hear ME? We are fine tuning here. Not everything will work. Some tunes bring everyone onto the floor. Some do not. Ever been to a dance where no one is getting up? Conversations are low. People are looking around checking out the ceiling, the floor, the shape of their paper cup, their watches. Looking for the exits. When do we get to leave? Have we spent enough time here? Shouldn’t I be somewhere exciting right now? Then, suddenly, a tune breaks out. It’s alive. You love the beat. Maybe you’ve heard it before. Your feet are moving. Everyone crowds onto the dance floor. They are coming to the party. Moving to the sound. In Direct Mail, you want to be that sound. Over and over. They never want you to go away. They keep coming back. You have found the magic. The right tune. Testing, testing, testing is your route to finding that song and becoming what everyone longs for. With that objective, let’s focus on ME.
Is the Direct Mail message getting through to ME? We won’t know until ME communicates with us loud and clear. Although we send the message, it is ME who determines if the message is ever received. It is ME who decides to contact us. They control the channel. Think of the intro to “The Outer Limits”, a 1963 Sci Fi television show. That’s us on the couch in front of the TV. How do we get that remote to work?
As we know, marketing is a continuous process constantly evolving to meet the needs of ME and like all marketing, testing is critical to the success of Direct Mail. Marketing is not a one hit wonder. It is not a home run. It is a series of improvements until we load the bases and the runs start to come in. It takes time. Marketing is like the movie, “Moneyball” for those of you who like Brad Pitt and sports. It is a focus on the stats, on the numbers, on the results. Some of the methods we use to separate and measure the results of our campaigns are things like: numbered coupons, gift cards and reply cards, various offers, different toll free #s and email response addresses for each campaign, specific QR Code and PURL landing pages tied to each campaign.
We send Direct Mail to segments of our markets to gauge the response to our offers. These segments might consist of geography, gender, age, customers, prospects, income and previous purchases etc. It is important that we send a sample size that will yield “statistical significance”, but not one that uses up a large portion of our list. We might send out 5-10% of our list to a minimum of 500-1000 per campaign. We will need to measure the results of each modified campaign so that we can focus our efforts on what has provided the highest responses and alter the offers accordingly. Remember that our success depends upon the list accuracy (50%), the offer (30%) and the creative (20%).
There are Power Locations on every Direct Mail piece. These are locations that will be noticed first by ME. They are: the outer envelope, the opening or heading of the letter, the closing of the letter, a PS section in the letter, a burst in the letter or card, the lower left portion of a postcard and an insert in a letter. Straightforward offers or calls to action should be at these locations. In other words, it answers the question, what’s in it for ME?
Next week: Social Media…The Twilight Zone of Marketing
So, let me get this straight. Are we saying that Direct Mail is like dancing? Well, yes, it sort of is. But like everything in life, there is more than one way to perform this dance. One form is a physical expression of individualism with or without a partner and with or without the flow of the music. It is spontaneous and eclectic. Touching is usually not allowed. Another form is the movement of two people in synchronization with the music. Think of Dancing with the Stars.
Direct Mail is Dancing with the Stars. It is planned and rehearsed over and over. It is not random. It is not spontaneous. It is you engaging your partner with a series of choreographed moves. In Direct Mail your partner is the customer/client/prospect. You guessed it, it’s ME, the object of your attention.
In Direct Mail we don’t just show up at the dance and jump out onto the floor, well, not unless a lot of substance abuse is involved, but that usually doesn’t turn out so well. Planning is crucial to the success of Direct Mail just like any marketing campaign. The first thing we need to do is to decide with whom we would like to dance before we even get to the floor. We need to target an audience. What does ME look like? This is a focus on your products and services and the markets that could use them. Why should ME dance with you? List the benefits because you will need them in your direct mail marketing. We are only going to use a few of these benefits at a time in Direct Mail because we want to provide a simple, easy to explain benefit that can be grasped quickly and acted upon urgently. Again, it’s all about ME.
Where do we find ME? The best targets are your house list. That is a list you have compiled from your database. This list is 5 to 10 times more likely to respond than a purchased compiled list. After all, they have danced with you before. Hopefully it was a good experience for ME. Another good target is a response list. This is a list you have purchased and it consists of targets that have purchased from other’s direct mail in the past. In other words, they have danced before. This list is 3 to 5 times more likely to respond than a purchased compiled list. They like to dance. The next target list you can use is a compiled list. Again, it is something that you have purchased and it is random, but relevant to your product or services. It looks a lot like ME.
Next week: Direct Mail…Testing, Testing, Testing can you hear ME now?
Email Marketing is all about Control, but Control for whom? Well, first and foremost,
control for ME, the recipient, the target, the client, the customer, the entire reason why we are sending
the email in the first place. ME can read and respond at leisure without interruption. Do you know what
ME does first thing in the morning? Well, according to ExactTarget 58% of them go to their email and
49% say they always open emails from their favorite companies. They could be going to you, the email
Speaking of the sender and Control, naturally, emails provide a vehicle for brands to send messages
according to their schedules and if ME likes it, then the majority will respond within 24 hours, according
to the LYRIS Marketing Guide. So, the sender gets control, fast deployment and fast reaction. It gets
Speed of Response. This is a sender’s dream. Some brands send emails in waves to different MEs within
a demographic, testing responses and adjusting accordingly. The campaign literally interacts with the
market and according to feedback, morphs into what is the best message for acceptance and response.
Oh Yes, One Last Thing. MarketingProfs talks about the power of post scripts. They are powerful in
direct mail marketing and they are powerful in email marketing as well. They list five things you can do
with your post script to generate more clicks in your emails:
Here we are, using old methods for new technology. Is it, “the more things change, the more they stay
the same”, or are the changes we see only the tip of the iceberg? Let’s mix it up a bit more with some
other avenues of choice.
Next week: A look at Cross Channel Marketing. Are we confused yet?
Every generation has been able to lay claim to having fallen under the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” The flux of social, political and economic changes over the ages have made life on this planet “interesting”. The wheel, the printing press, the combustion engine, the automobile, the airplane, the personal computer and the internet to name a few have all been disruptors, creators of “interesting times”.
Today, in the world of marketing and communications we live with more opportunities and yet more confusion than ever before. Opportunities because, as never before in the history of mankind, marketing can reach out to anyone anywhere and at any time. Confusion because no one single method of communication has proven to be the most effective and no one knows what method to use to obtain their objectives. So let’s explore the confusion…
Let’s pick one for today. How about Email Marketing? Email open rates are highest on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. They are typically opened during the morning between 7:00 and 10:00 AM. 75% of daily social media users said email is the best way for companies to communicate with them. Yet, in the last half of 2011, overall email delivery rates were down 4.5% while B2B email delivery rates were up 6%. In summary, B2C delivery rates are dropping. Why? Well, better blockers, marketers’ sender reputations are deteriorating and consumer email overload. The answer? Become better at email marketing.
Next week: Becoming Better at Email Marketing