Welcome to the Talon Mailing & Marketing November 2004 Newsletter:
The mailing industry is reporting a very busy holiday season.
Direct Mail is entering its busiest time of year – the Holiday Season. Helping to make this year so active are these circumstances:
Catalog mailings are not the only direct mail segment that sees extensive activity this time of year. With the Holiday Season on consumer’s minds, not to mention a last chance for an end-of-year tax deduction, non-profit fundraisers are very busy getting their mailings produced too.
David Hauser, CEO of the Hauser Group, a mail monitoring firm based in New York, has noticed a 26% increase in the volume of mail from Labor Day 2004 to present over 2003 and a 61% increase in non-profit fundraising mail.
Due to an expanded client base Talon has stretched our two production shifts to 20 hours a day to keep up with demand.
Here is a sampling of some of our catalog mailings recently completed in time for the holidays:
By Lee Marc Stein
Want a direct mail tactic that really works? Put a Post It note on your desk that says, "Check for these strategic mistakes that can kill an entire direct mail program!" Here's the countdown -
4) Failure to overcome disbelief and inertia
We live in the Age of Disbelief. Advertising agents are believed by only 10% of the population. More than half the students coming out of college have taken marketing courses, so they know our tricks. Many direct marketers have learned that deception is verboten, but they have not learned that they must proactively overcome disbelief.
You can't make a claim without backing it up. You have to explain. Gary Bencivenga, one of the copy greats, says that the two most important words in successful copywriting are not "Free" and "New" but "Reason why."
You also can't overcome inertia without making a claim or strong offer, or taking a stand. Do not assume that your message will get through to even your best prospects or customers without a conscious effort to overcome that inertia and thousands of other messages they received daily.
3) Failure to differentiate your product/service or offer
This is obviously the strategic correlative of #4 above. You can't overcome inertia, no matter how good the creative, with a commodity product/service or offer. With so many more products and services APPEARING to be commodities because of message bombardment, offer differentiation becomes ever more important. You have to find a way to get prospects to try a product/service so that they can then understand the differences.
What is a differentiating offer today? A sweepstakes? Probably not the way most sweeps are done. A premium? Could be. Whatever it is, the offer must be simple to understand (unlike all those telecom deals), really desired by the customer, and distinct from what competitors are doing.
2) Failure to test properly
Once in a while, a company will jump into direct marketing and become an overnight success. The product or offer is so strong that it overcomes everything else. But most of the time, we need to work our way to success through the right kinds of testing.
The biggest mistake is inadequate testing - testing the whole direct marketing channel with one mailing list, one offer, one creative approach. You simply can't make any valid judgments that way. You're better off putting more money into the established channel for your business or leaving the money in the bank.
The second biggest testing mistake is not looking at media carefully enough. Not every product/service should be advertised exclusively online, or exclusively through direct mail. Sometimes small space ads, drtv, or insert media are the way to go.
Then within broad media, testing just one or two options can be a big mistake. Let's say you're marketing to plumbing contractors. Testing one source for the list is risky the first time out… and it's even more risky if you don't do any testing of factors like size of firm, years in business, or geography.
… and the biggest failure in direct marketing -
1) Failure to be customer-centric
Everything stems from this. Denny Hatch calls it "Method Marketing." The idea is getting inside the head of your prospects and customers and working it from there. If you do that, you understand the content and context of the customer's life and you can select the media that best intersect. You understand what offers are appealing and what offers are turnoffs or confusing.
Here are two recent examples of major companies who nearly went astray in their test efforts -
A) A food company. We were hired to do a creative critique of a direct mail package someone else had developed. The copy was pretty good and the graphics were sensational. Unfortunately, the company did not understand that it was mixing two very different selling propositions in the same package, and that one of them was a complete turn-off to the market segment they had chosen to mail to.
B) A residential real estate company. The assignment was to develop letters to homeowners looking to sell their houses. The company well understands the importance of commission rate in obtaining listings, but not what other attributes home sellers are looking for in agents. It also didn't understand the importance of continuing the dialogue with homeowners who have their hands only half up.
Lee Marc Stein is an internationally known direct marketing consultant and copywriter. He has extensive experience in circulation, insurance and financial services, high tech, and b-t-b marketing. He works with direct response agencies in addition to having his own clients. Read more of Lee's articles at www.leemarcstein.com.
Talon would like to welcome the following new clients this month to our growing roster of clients:
· SPB Gems
New Mailing Lists Housed at Talon (we house over 600 mailing lists)
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