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?
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
There was a time, not too long ago, when a certain credit card company used the following line in their advertising: “Don’t leave home without it.” Of course, they were saying, take us with you because you never know when we might be needed in your life.
Today, as mobile phone users, we need no convincing as to the importance of our phones. We are addicted. Leave home without it? Many of us won’t leave the room without it. For some, might need you in my life has become you are my life. Driving this message home for me was the first time I overheard someone talking on their phone in a public toilet stall. Multitasking – the mantra of smart phone users. I wonder, just how urgent was that call?
Let’s look at some of the numbers. A 60 Second Marketer 2011 report states that 4 billion people use a mobile phone and 3.5 billion use a toothbrush, providing evidence that, for some of us, communication is more important than hygiene. An IPOS Research Canadian survey in May of 2012 identified that 79% won’t leave home without their smart phones. It went on to identify that 25% would give up their TV before they gave up their smart phone. 70% use them for emailing. 60% use them for web searches. 59% use them to search for products and 50% use them to search for Restaurants, Pubs and Bars (maybe tied to that toilet stall issue I mentioned earlier). Just saying…
The studies and the numbers are extensive. They all point to the same thing. We are becoming more mobile in our communications and marketing must adapt to our growing mobilization. Marketing organizations have coined new phrases for this approach such as, One to One Marketing and Location Based Marketing. That’s the obvious. What is not so obvious is how to reach out to the mobile audience. Remember we are talking about ME and ME does not want their personal space (grimace and refer to above) intruded upon with marketing messages. In fact, if you do intrude upon this space without an invitation, you will be locked out of further communication. So, it’s a dicey situation. How do you reach out with promotions without offending your prospects? How do you deepen the relationship? The answer is, seek permission, of course. How do you do that? Let’s review a few options.
One very effective approach in obtaining permission to contact smart phone users is to start with a QR Code (Quick Response Code). A QR Code can be printed on just about anything (see our video) and should be directed to a mobilized site with special content (the promise). It is scanned by a smart phone and linked to a landing page of your choice. This morning, one of our staff came in with a QR Code label on a banana. When scanned it took you to a mobilized menu of options ranging from a movie to product information. This QR technology was developed almost 20 years ago in Japan and has proliferated throughout Asia, Europe and now, North America. As usual, you must offer some reward if the QR Code is scanned and then further potential benefits if they provide permission to be contacted by your company. Remember the ME principle.
Another option is to use a PURL campaign as identified on May 23, 2012. Again, future benefits must be identified and then later, provided. A printed item is sent to the customer with their name in the PURL. When they enter/click on that code a custom landing page appears. Provide a questionnaire asking for permission to send SMS mobile messages or email messages with special content when they are available. Remember email (56%) and SMS text messaging (41%) are two of the methods used to send marketing messages that resulted in a purchase by consumers using their smart phones according to an ExactTarget 2011 report.
Regardless of the method used to engage the mobile customer, you must have a mobilized web site. Never send a mobile phone user to a standard web site that has not been mobilized. On top of that and again, the most critical note, is never send mobile marketing messages without permission. That type of advertising is called “interruption advertising”, popular on TV and radio, but absolutely not in personal communications. A closing quotation:
“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
Craig Davis, Chief Creative Officer Worldwide, J. Walter Thompson, the world’s 4th largest advertising agency.
Next time: What’s with Print and Marketing Anyway?