Tag Archive for Economy

Saving Money on Air Conditioning is Good for Productivity Too

An ergonomics study at Cornell University found that warm workers work better, chilly workers made more errors. When the office temperature increased from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, typing errors fell by 44 percent and typing output jumped 150 percent.

This strategy makes sense especially this summer as we all are trying to save wherever we can. Can we show you how we use this sensibility to help you save every possible cent on your direct marketing too.

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Spray and Pray??

BNET posted an article titled “Spray and Pray: Why Does Anyone Still Buy Advertising?”

This stirs many controversial thoughts. While we agree with the line of thinking about the problems with many traditional forms of advertising that offer no accountability. We don’t want direct mail to get lumped into being called “spray and pray”, spraying money around and praying it works. Direct mail and direct marketing offer targeting and accountability.

We profoundly disagree with the author’s total, complete faith in online advertising. The author also stated “Advertisers love to claim that the decline in advertising is due to the recession.” What about the thought that the recovery is taking longer than it should because we are relying on new media to generate new business? Which came first the recession or the absolute dependence on a media that can so easily be deleted, ignored or closed with a click? There is a lot of science that supports the effectiveness of things that can be touched and felt.

We agree that much of the investment made in email and some other forms of electronic and Internet marketing feel so affordable. The costs are so negligible. Can you build or rebuild your business with such a small receptive audience to your offer?

Waste, Signal of Economic Growth?

The Harvard Business Review highlighted a story from Bloomberg about the number of US rail cars filled with waste as an indicator of economic growth.

The stories stated that the number of cars jumped to 79,044 in April and May 2010, an increase of 45% from a year earlier, according to the Association of American Railroads. That’s the biggest such increase since at least 1994. The cargo consisted of iron and steel (42%), municipal waste and demolition products (32%), paper (11%), ashes (5%), nonferrous metals (4%), miscellaneous (4%), and chemical waste (1%).

This is an unusual statistic and source of optimism about the economy, but something that has not gone up since 1994 got our attention.

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.

What does your brand stand for?

Deliver Magazine provided some thought provoking questions for many organizations and their marketing teams.

You spend hours crashing through strategy documents, pulling out nuggets of customer insights, determining differentiators in the industry and understanding what it is that makes your corporation unique. And in the end, you have a vision of who and what your company is about. It’s that vision that helps establish relationships with customers, win over prospects and get your company noticed in this increasingly chaotic and fragmented world.

Then, after all of that strategic work, comes the execution part of the marketing plan and you decide to go digital. You send an e-mail — which looks just like any other e-mail in your best customer’s inbox.

Oh, we know, you finely tune the colors to match your brand (despite the fact you can’t calibrate how that color appears on any one monitor) or you include photography and graphics (which don’t download until the users request them) or you include the all-important link to your heavily branded Web site (although fewer than 10 percent click through).

So, maybe it’s not the optimum branding experience, but it’s cheap. Boy, is it cheap. And it’s efficient — you can reach hundreds of thousands, even millions in a single blast — and really, you’re getting the word out there.

Then the economy picks up, but your sales don’t jump as much, and at the next marketing meeting, as you’re puzzling over the numbers, someone asks why your customers aren’t so loyal anymore. What’s happened to that great relationship your brand used to have with them? And there’s a lot of this and that around the table, mutterings about “empowered consumers” and “everything’s a commodity,” and the meeting rolls on. You shrug your shoulders and concentrate on the next campaign. There’s work to do.

We understand. It’s not an uncommon problem. It’s just that, well, you could stand for something. You could put something in your customers’ hands, something branded. Imagine that: those finely tuned colors, the carefully selected images, the perfectly worded summation of what your brand is all about sitting right there in the hands of the people you most want to reach. It’s right there at their fingertips.

And inside that package, something amazing — something they could never get digitally. A sample, a tchotchke for their desk, a magnet for the fridge, a baseball bat, a brick, a salami — who knows? Something that’s amazing and brilliant and relevant, just like your brand. A piece that says “Hey, I know you,” and reminds that customer why he or she came to you in the first place and what your brand is really all about.

You could do that. But that’s direct mail, and some say that is old. No point in doing that, right?

A Tribute to Advertising

As we look forward to one of the occasions when we as a nation love to talk about advertising. What about these Super Bowl statistics courtesy of Moneywatch.com.

  • Cost of a 30-second advertisement during Super Bowl XLIV: $3 million
  • Increase in traffic to Super Bowl advertiser CareerBuilder on the day after 2009 game: 25%
  • Amount the Census Bureau is spending to air one 30-second 2010 Super Bowl ad: $2.5 million
  • Amount the Census Bureau has spent on Super Bowl advertising before 2010: $0
  • Per-person price of the three-day Tail-Great Super Bowl Package at the Trump Miami, including accommodation and one Super Bowl ticket: $4,500 per person
  • Estimated cost to South Florida of hosting Super Bowl XLIV, including increased police presence, clean-up, etc.: $8 million
  • Estimated benefit to South Florida, as measured by additional revenue to hotels, restaurants, and other spending: $353 million
  • Appreciation in ticket price since the first Super Bowl, in 1967: 22,225%
  • Compound annualized growth rate of ticket price: 13.4%
  • Appreciation in average U.S. home sale prices between 1967 and 2009, according to Census data: 999%
  • Compound annualized growth rate of home prices: 5.9%

Is This The Upturn?

According to an extract by Harvard Business Publishing of a snapshot of Economic Conditions, by McKinsey Global, 69% of a global panel of executives surveyed during the second week of December 2009 said they expected their national economies to be at least moderately better by the end of the first half of 2010. In fact, 24% said that an upturn has already begun.

A majority of executives expect consumer demand for their goods to rise in the near term. Respondents offer relatively positive views of the economy and say they can now make longer-term strategic plans. Just over half of executives continue to say economic conditions are now better than they were in September 2008.


Now is a great time to take advantage of direct mail and other underused marketing channels.

Many businesses have shifted advertising to online efforts. Maybe this is the time to see our current economy as an opportunity. What a great occasion to increase brand advertising!

Successful brand advertising is all about building a connection with your customer, this establishes your business or product as something which is known and trusted. Brand marketing helps us trust a company and buy when we see their ads later on. One of the greatest challenges for smaller businesses is to establish a name for themselves, and a downturn actually provides an opportunity to do that because it tends to suppress brand building advertising. What a great chance to be able to jump over your competitors, especially if the market leader has curtailed their advertising spending during the downturn.

Thrive in Turbulence

Deliver Magazine (the marketing magazine published by the US Postal Service) interviewed Philip Kotler, Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and here are some highlights. He was talking about his book, Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in The Age of Turbulence. I remember reading Kotler’s books in college, it is great that his new ideas are still so relevant.

Eight ways to flourish despite widespread uncertainty and upheaval

1. Secure your market share from core customer segments. Your first priority is to get your core customer segments firmly secured. This is no time to get too greedy. Be prepared to ward off attacks from competitors attempting to take away your most loyal and profitable customers.

2. Push aggressively for greater market share. All companies fight for market share and, in chaotic times, many have been weakened. Slashing marketing budgets and sales travel budgets are sure signs that a competitor is buckling under pressure. Add to your core customer segments at the expense of your weakened competitors.

3. Research customers now more than ever. Everyone is under pressure during times of turbulence and chaos, which means all customers are changing their habits — even those in your core segments whom you know so well. Stay close to them. You don’t want to find yourself relying on old marketing messages that no longer resonate.

4. Seek to increase — or at least maintain — your marketing budget. This is the worst time to think about cutting anything in your marketing budget that targets your core customer segments. In fact, you need to add to this budget, or take money away from those forays you were planning to go after totally new customer segments. It’s time to secure the home front.

5. Focus on all that’s safe. When turbulence is scaring everyone in the market, there is a massive flight to safety by most consumers. They need to feel the safety and security of your company and its products and services. Do everything possible to communicate that continuing to do business with you is safe. Spend whatever it takes to do it.

6. Quickly drop programs that aren’t working. If you’re not watching your spending, rest assured that someone else is — including your peers whose budgets couldn’t be protected from the ax. Cut out ineffective programs before someone else calls attention to them.

7. Don’t discount your best brands. When you do this, you instantly tell the market two things: Your prices were too high before, and your brands won’t be worth the price in the future once the discount is gone. Instead, consider creating a new, distinct product or service offering under a new brand with lower prices. This gives value-conscious customers the ability to stay close to you while not alienating those still willing to pay for your higher-priced brands. Once the turbulence subsides, you may consider discontinuing your newly introduced branded value product line — or not.

8. Save the strong; lose the weak. In a turbulent economy, you need to make your strongest brands and products even stronger. There’s no time or money to be wasted on marginal brands or overly fragile products that aren’t supported by strong value propositions and a solid customer base.

Executive Confidence Rising

According to an article extracted from a November 2009 McKinsey Quarterly by Harvard Business Publishing, executives are becoming more optimistic about the economy and the strength of the recovery. In the survey conducted during the last week of October 2009 that measured executive mood, 51% said they think the economy is better now than it was in September 2008.