Archive for June 28, 2010

A Data Rock Star?

This term got some attention in a few blogs last month. What exactly is a data rock star? A steward who understands both the complex intricacies of data management as well as the larger business challenge. A data rock star can provide guidance on both the IT and business side on how to make the data work for the business.

The author of “Data Quality From The Ground Up” suggested attributes and behaviors to further define and clarify a true data rock star.

  • Excellent communicator of business and IT concepts using common language
  • Ability to link information to business value
  • Seeks out and is receptive to advice and continuously provides the opportunity for others to provide it
  • Understands the link between clarifying expectations and how that will lead to success
  • Ability to engage and enthuse others, understands and considers body language, communication preferences, motivations and needs of others
  • Spots opportunities and takes advantage of them, especially in ways that others are unaware of
  • Pushes the boundaries in order to change things and does so in a way that others are unaware the boundary is being pushed
  • Exerts authority and uses it appropriately – all the while smiling and engaging others
  • Identifies key success measures from both business and IT perspective
  • Is well liked and respected – this will ensure access to resources, tools, other stakeholders, hidden information and will help pave the way through political and cultural roadblocks
  • Able to articulate solutions as practical and logical and tie them directly to group/organizational goals

The elevation of data experts and their importance to marketing and the entire organization is another reminder to keep working on your own database. Is there anything that we can do to help you with your customer list?

Empathy Improves Response

The Boston Globe reported that 62% of patients receiving intentionally fake treatment from friendly, empathetic doctors reported relief from their irritable bowel syndrome. This high number compared with 44% of a group that got the same fake treatment from impersonal, businesslike doctors.

Science is confirming that people respond much better to friendliness that demonstrates an understanding of their needs.

How can we help you translate this to your marketing? Do you want to append your customer list to get a better understanding of who they are? Can we help translate what you already know about your customers into new messages?

Other Ways to Look at Status

A recent briefing from listed “Statusphere” as a trend to watch. They defined the term as recognition and respect for fellow consumers who are no longer solely obsessed with owning or experiencing the most and/or the most expensive. Those who stray from the “consuming more” path now have eminence too. It is a recognition that status can also be about acquired skills and knowledge, eco-credentials, generosity or connectivity.

The post stated that “because man’s vanity, ego, his yearning to be recognized, seen, admired, heard, envied and lusted after knows no boundaries, there will always be new ways to help him/her stand out from the herd.”

What can you do to use this for your business?

Who are your customers are trying to impress and how? If you find your brand is still mainly focusing on BIGGER, BETTER, HARDER, but your customers aren’t, then you perhaps you should consider other ways to help your customer gain status from skills, green credentials, generosity and connectivity.

If you already serve a diverse crowd of status seekers, figure out how you can help them to better show off their new status symbols or better tell their status stories. While showcasing, visibility, and stories are used to respond to consumers desires for status with MORE. Helping your customers tell stories or show how they are generous, green, have knowledge, skills and are connected may be the message that gets them to act.

Do you need to tell customers how you can help them have more status in new ways? Something that can be touched and felt, sent directly to your desired audience can tell your story in ways that can’t be told with a screen.

Simplicity, Elegance and Impact in Design

In a recent BNET post about ways to improve presentations, the author, Sean Silverthorne, looked to Steve Jobs for inspiration.

This got us thinking about ways to improve overall marketing messages and especially direct mail messages.

To translate some of those ideas:

Color: What about a clean use of signature color? Can interest be heightened with simplicity?

Space: Give important facts and information lots of space.

Images: A beautiful image can often deliver the message.

Does this inspire some new ideas for your next mail piece? Talk to us and see if we can help.

Estimated 1.2 Million Households Lost

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that 1.2 million households were lost from 2005 to 2008, despite a population increase of 3.4 million. The decline in households has likely contributed to the excess supply of apartments and single family homes on the market. Household formation should pick up once the job market stabilizes. Young adults need a paycheck and a sense that they will have sustainable employment before living on their own.

This trend can also have some opportunities. Young adults may have extra spending money without having to be responsible for necessities. This will also help to boost the recovery because when things look more optimistic, there will be a pent up demand for more housing and all the needed household items.

This trend can lead to other “life changing events”, can we help you take advantage of current news and trends? Now may be a great time to send mail.

The Power of Mail

In a column for Deliver Magazine titled “Power in the Mailbox” author Steve Cuno, told about a friend who received a personal note from the president of her bank, just to check up and make sure the bank was treating her well. Thanks (perhaps ironically) to e-mail and the Internet, direct mail may now be much more powerful than ever.

A number of unique factors work in direct mail’s favor. One is called “willing suspension of disbelief,” our ability to set aside reality and lose ourselves in a story. When a direct mail letter shows up in a personally addressed, stamped envelope, part of us wants to believe that someone took a moment to compose, print, address and post it, just for us. All the better if the letter calls us by name and bears a signature in fountain pen–evoking blue. A good writer can make an e-mail blast sound personal, but there is no electronic substitute for the look and feel of a signed letter in a stamped, addressed envelope.

Willing suspension of disbelief knows no demographic limitations. Had the friend mentioned above paused to analyze, she would easily have seen that the letter in her hand was direct mail. But — and this is the point — she chose not to pause and analyze.

Whether or not your direct mail includes an envelope or sales letter, it appears that the public would rather receive advertising mail in a mailbox than on a computer. Higher response rates provide one indicator. The near-overnight appearance of spam laws and filters provides another. No sooner had e-mail blasts arrived than the public demanded laws restricting them, servers blocking them, and junk filters dispatching them.

By contrast, laws governing physical mail are far less restrictive, despite more than 200 years of opportunity to enact them — and for good reason. While it remains disturbingly fashionable for legislators to tilt against direct mail windmills, Congress was quick to recognize spam as a problem and take immediate action.

Besides indicating a market preference, the absence of such controls offers a practical advantage. Everyone must look through their physical mail in order to decide what to read and what to chuck. Not so with e-mail. There, one click and your beautiful offer is gone forever.

People have always looked forward to getting their mail, and still do. Most people can tell you what time their mail arrives. Most bring it in daily and eagerly dig through it. They’re not looking for bills. They’re looking for letters — and, increasingly, relevant advertising mail.

This is why we and others find that intelligent, well-targeted direct mail continues to perform as well as, and often better than, ever. Your offer can be the one that people willingly open, read — and act upon.

E-mail and other online media are useful and powerful in their own right. We appreciate that you are reading this post online. But when planning a direct response media mix, it’s important to remember that there are some things that a mailbox can deliver that a monitor just can’t.

Font Fact

Switching fonts could save money and ink. The University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s IT department has changed the default font for all users of Outlook to Century Gothic, and urges users to switch the default font in other applications too. The IT department said Century Gothic requires 30% less ink in printouts than Arial, the most commonly used default font. Ink accounts for about 60% of the cost of a printed page.

Direct Mail Works

Smart Money Magazine published an article in the June issue with the title “Why Your Mailbox Runneth Over”. The article stated that charities still rely heavily on direct mail as a fund-raising tool. Nonprofits spent $1.8 billion on direct-mail solicitations in 2009.

Pasadena, Calif., marketing consultancy Russ Reid Co. found that fund-raising campaigns with 12 to 18 mailings a year were twice as profitable as those based on just three to six mailings. Donors are surprised when they receive a rapid request for another gift after making a first time donation. The tactic is effective because donors feel the strongest connection with a nonprofit immediately after their first donation.

We can help you put these findings to work for you in your profit or non-profit organization. Even if people say they only want to hear from you a few times a year, they may respond much more when you triple or quadruple the number of times your customers hear from you. What about a plan to send something to your customers very soon after their first purchase? Can we help you with a multichannel communication plan, integrating direct mail and email?

The Future of Advertising Agencies

Forrester is selling a report titled, “The Future Of Agency Relationships” with a subtitle of “Marketers Need To Lead Agency Change In The Adaptive Marketing Era”.

The report encourages marketing leaders to re-evaluate their relationships with advertising agencies and in the process suggest that agencies should continually reinvent themselves to serve their clients. They suggest that we are entering an “Adaptive Marketing” era and must quickly adapt to changes in marketing strategy, media, technology, and society. In this era, mass media may no longer be the foundation of marketing communication, forcing yet more changes in the expectations of what marketing agencies can and should deliver.

Dean’s Mailing has many ideas and resources to help you use technology to be found and communicate with your customers and likely buyers in a way that they will appreciate and not view as an annoyance.

Loyalty Programs

DMNews reported the efforts of some well know brands to maintain customer loyalty. Retaining customers has taken on renewed focus for many companies recently in an effort to combat reluctance to spend during the recession. Some loyalty programs have become more elaborate and offer more rewards and discounts than in the past.

Target is looking for ways to make it easier for our guests to find additional savings,” says Target spokeswoman Leah Guimond. “We’re currently testing a new rewards program in select markets that offers guests a percent off all purchases made with their REDcard.”

Best Buy’s Rewards Zone program not only offers more rewards to its most loyal customers, but it focuses on keeping in touch with those consumers. “The rules require that we have a valid way to connect to the customers and we’ve introduced a high-value tier that gets additional benefits,” says Bob Soukup, senior director of loyalty at Best Buy. “This lets us reward those customers who are interested in having a relationship with Best Buy. It also lets us concentrate extra attention on our best customers.”

Hilton, worked on increasing enrollment in its loyalty program by reaching out to a different audience than it did before the recession. Rather than its frequent-traveling, elite customer base, the hotel conglomerate shifted its focus to more casual travelers by “being more active with promotional activity, both added-value discount offerings and loyalty program offerings,” says Jeff Diskin, SVP of brand management and marketing at Hilton. “We want to engage with all travelers primarily through our HHonors [loyalty] program, to facilitate the dialog we can have through different channels when they’re connected to us and be able to drive promotional activity and business where we need it,” Diskin adds. “In the past 15 months, we’ve pretty much had an HHonors-based promotion every quarter. What that’s done is drive enrollment, so now we’re getting the business they’ve booked for the promotion and then using that database for some really directed offerings.”

Brand marketers are also realizing the power of loyalty marketing in driving the bottom line. J&P Cycles, a multichannel retailer of aftermarket motorcycle parts, used the insights it gained from members of its Gold Club loyalty program to adjust prices on “tens of thousands” of its SKUs, says Rich Brecht, senior contact center manager for the company. “As the economy really took a dive, we found a lot of our feedback was coming on shipping charges and price,” Brecht says. “So we lowered the Gold Club shipping minimums, and if a customer didn’t order this product from us today because it was cheaper elsewhere, we started aggressively logging that to adjust prices.”

Marketers without existing loyalty programs are now taking a second look. Printer manufacturer Epson is considering a loyalty program to encourage buying ink direct from the company. Such a program was tested and killed in the past, says Chris Nickel, manager of CRM and direct response marketing for Epson, but momentum has begun to build behind the idea again.

Is there a way that we can help you implement a loyalty program using your existing customer information? Just letting your customers know that you appreciate their business may be the reminder they need to stay loyal to you. A “thank you” card sent in the mail can go a long way.