When we started this column, we titled it, “Confusion Says”. Of course, it was a play on the words Confucius Says, usually the beginning of some thoughtful point of philosophy, some short and simple phrase from long ago, loaded with insight. Our Confusion Says column speaks to the confusion that exists in the world of marketing. Confusion has always existed in that world, but today the number of choices and subsequent directions are anything but short and simple. They are more confusing than ever before. We wanted to review the options and present the facts as they exist today.
What remains consistent is that, of every option you choose, it can succeed or it can fail. It is all dependent upon the development of the strategy and the execution of the tactics. ME is now in control as never before. ME has the ultimate channel changer, their keyboard and their mobile device. They will Like you, Follow you and Link up with you, but only if you ask permission and only if you have something relevant to say, something relevant to them that is. If that relationship works, they will buy from you. If that relationship fails, well, remember, it’s not ME it’s you.
Every channel we explored should be used dependent upon time and money. If only we had it all. As we reviewed in earlier segments, most should be used in concert with other channels. Yesterday, I watched an advertisement for Google on TV. A few days ago, they emailed me an invitation to use their services and several weeks ago they direct mailed me a printed promotion for these same services. Yes, even Google, a 14 year old multi-billion dollar highly successful company that is most noted as a search engine for web sites, even Google uses TV, direct mail and email to market its services. It integrates multiple channels. Now, the TV commercial has come and gone. The email is somewhere on my hard drive. The Direct Mail piece, well, that’s sitting right in front of me now – a constant, unobtrusive reminder of it, the other advertisements and, of course, the company. This is cross-channel marketing. It is what you need to do as well.
As we move forward and new information is gathered, we will provide you with what the industry has to say about all of these channels.
The confusion will continue. We will find the facts to sort it out.
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
Isn’t printing a bit old school? I mean we have new media today that allows us to communicate with almost anyone anywhere at any time. Why would we print? Not only that, but isn’t printing bad for the environment? That’s what many of us think, but we are wrong on all counts.
Here’s a question: Has printing evolved to become the most ecologically responsible of all media?
Let’s look at a few facts and see what we get. Thanks to the efforts of many who are concerned about the environment and who have devoted years to the subject, the printing industry is now one of the few media that can claim to use recoverable, recyclable and renewable resources. In North America, for every tree that the industry uses, it plants three more. The North American forest products industry now plants 1.5 BILLION TREES PER YEAR. That’s 4.1 million every day. The industry has become agriculture. Trees are grown and harvested for use, just like any other crop. According to the Mother Nature Network there are more trees in America today than there were 100 years ago.
So, how did this happen? For many years now, almost every company/organization involved in the printing/forest industries has been focusing on how to improve the environment. In our own company alone, every year as part of our certification, we are audited by Rainforest Alliance to the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards. FSC provides internationally recognized standard setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services for companies, organizations and communities interested in responsible forestry.
Now, let’s have a look at that so called, “environmentally clean” “electronic/digital” media. This media functions on the use of monitors, hard drives, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, etc., all of them primarily non-recyclable carbon based products. Where does this stuff go once we throw it away? In most communities, it is dumped into landfills or is burned emitting toxic chemicals into the air. It even has a name, High Tech Trash. Where do we obtain the material to make more of these devices? Why, we use more fossil fuels of course.
Guiyu in China’s Guangdong Province is the world’s largest electronic waste site, with an estimated 80% of its 150,000 population working in the e-waste processing business. Source.
We can ignore the facts and listen to the misinformed, but the reality is that every time we buy a new electronic media device, we are contributing to more pollution. In addition, each time we use one of these devices, more energy is required. When viewed, printing is the only medium with a one-time carbon footprint and that occurs at its point of manufacture. The other media require energy every time they are used. The more they are used, then the more energy we must produce. In North America, over 50% of energy is generated from fossil fuel sources. This is not a good ecological situation. Many studies continue to be focused on these issues. Some examples are: the UN News Centre, the Environmental Literacy Council, the It Environment Initiative and many more.
In our company, our multimedia division loves our digital projects, web sites, mobile apps etc., but not because we are under the misguided belief that we are helping the environment. As to which media is more ecologically friendly, we might want to give that some more thought.
Okay, so if printing has a much better environmental record than we were led to believe, how about marketing results? What does print have to offer? According to the Winterberry Group, Direct Marketing mailings grew at a 5.6% rate to $163 billion (USA) in 2011 generating nearly $2 trillion in sales. The ROI on this was $12.00 of sales per dollar of advertising expense versus $5.24 for general advertising. Target Marketing’s 2012 Media Usage Forecast states that 69% of marketers will use Direct Mail for acquisition in 2012. In June, 2012, The Atlantic Monthly Group reported that the print medium is still capturing 25% of the total USA ad spend dollars. Printing and Direct Mail lives and is doing very well, thank you.
The next questions must be: If printing is doing so well, is environmentally positive and is used by so many, how can you use print effectively in your marketing efforts? We reviewed some facts and methods in our communications of May 11, 23 and June 11, 2012. The subjects were Initial Contacts, QR Codes and PURLs. Essentially, printed material is a very effective doorway to your other media connections.
You do remember ME, right? Then you would remember that ME controls the conversation now and ME wants a relevant conversation. In addition, ME controls the method of contact. You must obtain permission to talk to ME with one consistent exception – Mail. Yes, ME will accept your attempt to communicate with them through the mail. It is not considered intrusive and unlike every other method of communication, ME will accept that you did not have permission to do so. Now, if you do not communicate with something that resonates with ME, then you will be ignored and your message will move to the recycle bin and turned into who knows what, napkins perhaps. I do this all the time.
“You had me at hello.” A great line in a pretty good movie, but how often does this happen in real life? Not too often. ME wants more than “hello” and you want to form a business relationship with ME. Next we will have a look at good Direct Mail practices.
Next week: How will Direct Mail get to ME?