Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Repetition with direct mail story

Some clients say direct mail is the heart of their business advertising, others say it is worthless. Read the following for some clues on why:

Can Mailing to the Same List Twice, Double Your Response Rate?
By Alan Sharpe

Mailing the same direct mail offer to the same consumer list a second time typically generates a response rate that’s 65 percent smaller than the initial response. Mailing a third time usually generates a response that's more than 50 percent smaller than the initial mailing. But if you mail businesses or institutions with the same offer more than once, your results sometimes run the other way.

Some business-to-business direct marketers have discovered that the same offer mailed to the same list a second time produces double the response of the initial mailing.

Hard to believe, I know. But this just proves that business buyers and consumers are different.

The business executive you tried to reach with your first mailing may have been lying on a beach in the Seychelles when your offer arrived. Or her secretary may have pitched it.

Or the guy in the mailroom may have had a bad day and routed your direct mail offer to Bangladesh.

Or your prospect may have suffered a financial setback that resolved itself by the time your second offer arrived in his inbox.

Or the timing may have been off. Your prospect was not ready to buy last quarter but is ready this quarter.

Or your business buyer may not have recognized your company name the first time around, but recognizes it now that she has come across your name in the trade press, online, and from the lips of peers at a recent trade show.

These reasons, and many more, should encourage you to test mailing your direct mail sales letters to the same prospects more than once. Keep everything the same (list, offer, creative). Just vary the timing. Measure your response between mailing one and mailing two, and even mailing one
and mailing three.

-- Alan Sharpe is a direct mail copywriter who helps businesses attract new clients using direct mail and email marketing. His website is

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Media X: Simmer Down

The following came to my email box today and is from MediaDailyNews. Click on the headline to go to their website.

by Jack Feuer, Wednesday, Oct 10, 2007 8:00 AM ET
HEY, ADVERTISERS, AGENCY TYPES AND network promotion executives! This is America calling. We have a request.

Shut up.

Really. Just. Shut. Up.

No disrespect, but you're killing us here. We're willing to hear what you have to say--at least some of us older ones are. But we can't, because you're all yelling at once.


Please explain to us--one of you at a time, if you would--which one of you geniuses first got the idea that the best way to avoid clutter is to create more of it?

This is particularly true of television show marketing--which is so over the top, it's already landed at the bottom, but is too stunned to notice.

Forget the endless and thoroughly unpersuasive promotions. There's the billboards. The coasters. The posters. The displays at K-Mart. And ads for your shows all over the goddamn supermarket--on the floor, on the dividers at the checkout counter, on the produce, on the receipt.

I just came in for eggs and a carton of milk. Leave me the hell alone.

I'm not just talking spots. I'm talking stories as well. We got the show. Then we got the interstitials. Then we got the wraps. And the online comic books. And the blogs, the message boards, the diaries of the characters and the actors who play the characters. The cross-overs and the spin-offs and the contests and the YouTube crap and the MySpace nonsense.

Tell you what--we'll wait for the 30-second version on AOL tomorrow, okay?

In fact, we're too dazed by our social networking obligations to worry about what anybody wants to sell us. Like my former Adweek colleague, who is a Facebook friend, and who inexplicably believes that the rest of us in her network care about her concern for her "foster dog," which has a "URI." Which is either respiratory distress or a pissing problem, I'm not sure which.

But I digress. Point is, TV numbers stink and marketing campaigns are imploding all over this great consumptive country of ours, and I don't think it's because TV shows are bad or marketers' ad campaigns suck. I actually like a lot of what television is shilling this season--especially broadcast TV, and I'm impressed with the imagination behind much of modern advertising, if not its intelligence.

Then again, we are America, so maybe intelligence needn't be a requirement. Look at our government. Enough said.

But I digress again. What I'm saying is that you're following us everywhere we go, sticking stuff on our eggs, getting in our face and making our heads turn all the way around our necks like Linda Blair. (For you younger mavens: look it up, kids.)

The Long Tail is a whip, apparently, and you really need to stop cracking it. Find something that works a little more quietly, will you? We'd sure be grateful.

We might even go shopping or watch some TV once the ringing in our ears stops.

Hey, it's me again. It has taken me awhile, but I have learned that every passionate critic, has some kernel of truth in their arguments. Also perception is as good as reality in some cases.

Advertising and marketing will never go away. We must, however continue to strive to persuade, influence and help buyers buy, not just try and sell with screaming irritating drivel.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Measuring results

Just how do you measure the results of your marketing efforts? It depends on the circumstances.

About two weeks ago, a new McDonald's opened in town. They are one of my clients. They had a soft opening on September 27th, and then they will have their official Grand Opening Celebration this coming Saturday complete with Marching Bands, a radio remote broadcast, a ribbon cutting ceremony and the like.

Whatever happens this Saturday will be fine, we already had a successful opening. The owner gave away a years worth of Quarter Pounders to the first 50 people that showed up on September 27th. We promoted it on the radio.

I stopped by at 7:15 that morning to see how things went when I was told what happened while I was sleeping: 4:15am, the owner-operator comes in and there are a dozen people waiting for them to open the doors at 5am! By 4:45am there are 70 people in line!

Let's measure the results: 50 1/4 pounders retail at 3 bucks each. That's 150 dollars times 52 weeks = $7800. Actual food cost is about $2500 or less. Let's say that the only customers they get from the promotion is the 70 that showed up before they opened their doors. Lunch customers are likely to visit an average of twice a week. Let's presume they spend $5.00 each trip. The cost of food to McDonalds is about $2.00. So do the math and there is 6 dollars profit times 52 weeks times 70 people = $21,840 profit for an investment of $2500. Even 1/2 that amount is quadrupling his investment!

Note that this investment is over the course of a year, and that the buying cycle repeats itself every 3 or 4 days.

This afternoon, I spoke with a friend of mine that asked me what a commercial cost on my radio stations. I called him up and we met and discussed the real issues. He had run a newspaper ad that cost him between $700 and $800 each time he aired it. He thought it was expensive. As we talked, we discovered that the paper gave him a deal where it ran the ad Saturday (free), Sunday (paid), and in a weekly employment supplement (free) and posted it on their website for 30 days each time he paid.

The first time it ran he got about 30 inquiries, from which looks like he will get 2 new employees. The second time he ran, he got about 10 inquiries, from which looks like he will get 2 more new employees. What's the bottom line here? So far, his experience with the paper is it costs about $375 to find a new employee using their method. Is this a reasonable cost? Don't know yet. But at least we know how to measure the results. And why did the first 30 inquiries only net 2 employees, while the next 10 inquiries also produced 2 employees? Which was more effective? I believe the second, because while the end results were the same, the second was more efficient, saving time and expense of screening out those that did not qualify.

I am in the process of consulting with others in the advertising world in my town to see what they might have to offer that could produce better net results for the dollars he has available to spend, and I also have a proposal that I believe can work, using my radio resources too.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome...

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When they say "marketing isn't working"....

Got a phone call today from a company that we sold block programming to. This type of block programming is actually an infomercial. They wanted to know if we could cut our price in half because they are not getting the results they want. What would you say?

I was in the middle of a meeting and decided to let them know in the morning. Actually, I already knew what the short answer was. No. However I wanted time to compose my long answer.

See, you have to know what the real question is. Are they really not getting results, or do they just want to improve their margin by lowering their marketing costs? It doesn't hurt to ask. But who is the real buyer and seller here? I have air time and I get to decide how much to charge. I know that if they want to pay less, then they get less. Like a different time slot, that will have less listeners. While all this makes sense, there is another whole side to this that isn't being addressed.

Is the message effective? What do we mean by effective? Just what results do you need to make your marketing worthwhile? Is there a piece to the marketing plan that is missing or weak? And how much of this is in my power to control?

Maybe the marketing is effective, if you use the right measuring device.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Do you know your "stuff"?

Everyone of us have natural aptitudes towards certain types of work. Hopefully the work that you do uses some of your natural aptitudes, or at least is not contrary to those aptitudes.

If you have never taken an aptitude test, or haven't taken one in awhile, you should do it. Just google it or you can go here and play around.

Hopefully, the results of the test will confirm what you already know about yourself. Perhaps, you'll have a better understanding of why you do things or why you don't like to do other things. This is one of the "stuff"s that you should know.

However, when I started writing this post, it was a different kind of "stuff" that I was thinking about. Most of us have a purpose, a calling, a profession, or at least a job. How well do you know your "stuff" that allows you to be good at what you do?

I don't care if you are a "natural" at it, there is always room to be better. I friend of mine that moved 22 hundred miles west recently used to challenge me, and me him, to keep fresh, keep learning, keep sharpening our skills so that we would be better at the "stuff" we did.

Yesterday I was the discussion leader of a small group. I had a week to prepare, since I had volunteered. And although I have done this countless times in the past, I still needed to prepare. Yes, I could have winged it, and perhaps no one would know, but I knew that the extra effort would be worth it.

So how about you.... Do you know what your "stuff" is? Are you taking the time and effort to get better and better and better?

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