Revisiting the Lowly Postcard

Earlier this year, I received a postcard mailing from the Share and Care Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in New Jersey. In just four panels (one of which was the address panel), the postcard tackled one of those funding needs that make many fundraisers cringe — toilets.

Earlier this year, I received a postcard mailing from the Share and Care Foundation, a nonprofit organization located in New Jersey. In just four panels (one of which was the address panel), the postcard tackled one of those funding needs that make many fundraisers cringe — toilets.

“The Toilet Crisis” was the headline on the first inside panel. The copy continued, “600 million people in India do not have access to indoor toilets,” and then explained in two bullet points that this leads to the spread of diseases and safety issues for women.

I was intrigued. After all, conventional wisdom is that postcards, lacking a response means other than going online, are not the best fundraising tool. They also offer limited space to make a case for support. Yet they are relatively inexpensive and lack the barrier of the envelope that one needs to open before seeing the contents. So, was this enough to drive people to the website to give a $130 toilet to a family in India?

I spoke to Tejal Parekh, the senior operations manager at Share and Care Foundation, and asked her, “So, did it work?” The short answer is “yes.” The foundation’s goal for the mailer was to raise enough money to build 750 toilets in 2016; it already has completed more than 500 toilets as a result of donations it’s received from the postcard and a follow-up email.

That’s worth a second look, so let’s unpack this postcard just a bit.

Measuring 8×6″, the mailer folded to 4×6″ and was double tabbed. The address panel had a live, presorted, standard-rate stamp. There was no teaser on that panel, but it did invite the recipient to sign up for updates; call or email with questions, comments or concerns; or “Please let us know if you receive duplicate mailings.” In other words, this panel was hardworking, albeit functional.

BardenPostcard1
The exterior of Share and Care Foundation’s postcard that aimed to raise money for toilets in India.

The front panel was pretty much a rule-breaker when it comes to direct response. It had artwork—a doorway that might represent the entrance to a house, but it’s not really clear because it is stylized. The headline was in all caps with a drop shadow and never mentioned “you,” the donor. Added to that, it referred to one of the least sexy of all programs: indoor toilets, and sanitation and hygiene education.

But once you opened the postcard, the story unfolded, beginning with the headline noted earlier.

Parekh explained that the young person on the marketing team who put this together for Share and Care Foundation “told the story in a few simple lines. People don’t want to see too much misery, so photos were more positive images, and there was also a simple drawing of a family. It was short, yet it told a story.”

The interior of Share & Care Foundation's postcard that aimed to raise money for toilets in India.
The interior of Share and Care Foundation’s postcard that aimed to raise money for toilets in India.

I agree. The postcard caught my attention and apparently that of others on its U.S. database—donors and prospects. As mentioned, the response was excellent. Why? According to Parekh, the offer made sense, and the price point was reasonable.

The response mechanism was to drive people to a webpage that reiterated the offer (and added more information). When one clicked the “Donate Today” button at the bottom of the page, he or she went directly to a donation page that quickly summed up the offer and asked for $130 for a toilet. There were also lower amounts, but $130 was the focus. (One change I would make would be to add the “Donate Today” button to the top of the page, as well; right now, there is a “Donate Now” button as part of the header, but when you click that, it goes to a generic donation page. That could discourage someone who just wants to give a toilet.)

One of the surprises for the foundation was that a lot of lapsed donors responded. Again, it was a clear, compelling offer (reduce disease and improve women’s safety) at an affordable price point ($130). Plus, the only barrier to reading about the offer was two tabs. The copy was minimal, the story was easily understood, and the focus was on the beneficiaries, not the organization. Plus, it offered proof—the foundation already built 350 toilets in four villages and wanted to do more.

Yes, there are some things I would l want to change on this mailer (that’s an occupational hazard), but that’s not the point; the point is that Share and Care Foundation took a risk and sent out a lowly postcard that some would argue lacks what it takes to be a serious fundraiser—and made it work. It told a story briefly and in terms “Average Pat Donor” could understand. It made it relatively easy to respond by providing a simple URL and a specific landing page. It kept its costs low.

The foundation took a risk—and it paid off. So kudos to Share and Care Foundation. And for all the rest of us, maybe it’s time to rethink the postcard. It’s worth a test, but remember Parekh’s advice: The offer and the price point need to make sense, and the story has to be simple.

5 Types of Google AdWords Conversion Tracking

When I first started using Google AdWords in 2006, conversion tracking was in its infancy. There was only one type of conversion pixel code and there was no option to customize anything. Oh boy, have the times changed

When I first started using Google AdWords in 2006, conversion tracking was in its infancy. There was only one type of conversion pixel code and there was no option to customize anything.

Oh boy, have the times changed. AdWords now gives advertisers five different conversion types, along with options to customize exactly how conversions are tracking in your account. For example, you can now track all conversions or you can track only unique conversions to exclude the instances when prospects complete multiple forms on your website.

In this article, I’m going to bring you up to speed on all five different conversion types:

  1. Webform Submissions
  2. Online Sales with Revenue
  3. Calls from Website
  4. Calls from Ads [Call Extensions]
  5. Offline Sales [Import]

1. Webform Submissions:
Again, this was the only option for me back in 2006. Webform submissions like quote requests, demo requests, or any other key action on your website should be tracked as a conversion in your AdWords campaign. This can be easily set up by adding the conversion code to the “thank you” page of all your webforms.

2. Online Sales with Revenue:
Eventually, Google introduced the ability to assign a value to your conversions, which revolutionized campaign management. If your business sells anything online, then you absolutely must set up revenue tracking for your shopping cart. Once set up, you’ll start to see revenue data in AdWords so you can calculate your profit per keyword, placement or ad.

3. Calls from Website:
Just last year website call tracking was launched so that advertisers can see how many phone calls are generated from the AdWords ads. This code is fairly technical so I recommend assigning this task to your webmaster to get set up. Once installed you’ll start to see conversions in your AdWords account any time a prospect calls after clicking on one of your ads.

4. Calls from Ads:
Most people do not call directly from the phone number listed in an ad, but some do. In AdWords you can track these calls by using a Call Extension, which is one of the many Ad Extensions available in AdWords. When you set up your Call Extension, make sure to click on the advanced options and check the box to track phone calls using a Google forwarding number.

5. Offline Sales [Import]:
Up to this point all the conversion tracking options sound great, but they don’t solve the major problem for non-eCommerce businesses, which is tracking sales generated off of the internet.Luckily Google recognized this problem and introduce the Offline Sales Import conversion option. This is the most technical of them all, but it’s well worth the effort to have your webmaster set this up. Here’s how it works:

  • Your webmaster will have to edit all the forms on your website to add a hidden field called “GCLID” (stands for “Google Click ID”)
  • Your webmaster will set the value of this hidden field using the URL parameter called “gclid”. For example, when someone clicks on one of your ads, Google automatically ads the “gclid” URL parameter, which looks like this 123ABC567DEF. This is the unique tracking code you’ll use to track sales back to your ads.
  • You’ll need to send the GCLID code to your sales team and/or your customer relationship management (CRM) tool like Salesforce.
  • On a monthly basis, you’ll need to find all the sales that have a corresponding GCLID code and import those codes, along with the sales revenue, into Google AdWords.
  • AdWords will automatically match the GCLID codes to the keywords, placements and ads that the customers originally clicked on before ultimately making a purchase off of the internet.

If that didn’t make sense, then just send your webmaster this page and he or she will be able to help. Trust me, it sounds more complicated than it is.

Go through the 5 conversion types again and make sure you have them all set up in your AdWord campaign. These are all critical to maximize the performance of your campaigns.

Want more free Google AdWords tips? Click here to get my Google AdWords checklist.

3 Steps to an Effective LinkedIn Profile for Sales Reps

Tired of getting so few leads from your LinkedIn profile, investing in LinkedIn Sales Navigator or needing to generate leads with email faster? You’ll need more than a pretty photo on your profile. You need a summary section that creates urges in prospects—provoking them to connect, email or call.

Tired of getting so few leads from your LinkedIn profile, investing in LinkedIn Sales Navigator or needing to generate leads with email faster? You’ll need more than a pretty photo on your profile. You need a summary section that creates urges in prospects—provoking them to connect, email or call.

Make sure prospects viewing your LinkedIn profile take an action and are producing leads for you. But first, ne sure your or your team’s profile is structured to:

  1. Create an urge for what customers’ want most in the Headline space;
  2. Spark buyers’ curiosity about what you can do for them in the Summary;
  3. Direct that curiosity—give them an irresistible reason to act.

These steps are the low-hanging fruit. Don’t just know them, do them. Every word, video, Powerpoint, PDF whitepaper and link on your profile can help buyers develop an irresistible urge to solve their problems or reach a goal—through you. But only if you take a minute to design it to. The best place to start is your Professional Headline.

Fire up your browser. Compare your profile against the checklist below. Check off each one as you implement these proven, effective steps.

STEP 1: Create an Urge to Read via Your Headline
Like it or not, headlines control our world. If you’re not getting to the point and sparking curiosity in a matter of seconds you’re not going anywhere. Just like an effective cold call or elevator pitch.

Use your profile’s Professional Headline space to display information that creates an urge to discover whatever is most important to them. Don’t list your title or job position. Make sure your professional headline presents:

  • what you do,
  • who you do it for and, if possible, and
  • elude to how you do it that creates distinction.

If possible, hint at why buyers should choose you. Make your why clear but not totally complete. Leave off the details. This creates an urge to scroll down to the next section: Your profile’s Summary.

For example, turnaround and acquisition expert, Carter Pennington, says he “maximizes shareholder value of troubled companies.” Mando Villareal names his target market and says he helps them “reduce cost increase efficiency & automate deliverables.”

In both cases, structuring words this way helps prospects wonder, “I wonder how he does that?” It creates an urge to scroll down and learn more about the seller.

Wondering where to start yourself? Use what you already know is most important to your prospective buyer. Don’t be clever. Instead, push your prospects’ buttons.

Trent Smith is a “Trusted advisor to attorneys who want to grow their practice.” He knows there isn’t an attorney on the planet who doesn’t want to grow their practice. In a moment, I’ll show you how Trent exploits this urge in various sections of his profile.

Remember: Use your Professional Headline space to create an urge to discover more about what makes you someone worth paying attention to. Be bold. Grab your prospect, fast.

STEP 2: Ditch the Resume, Go for a Reaction
Your LinkedIn profile is a tool to get prospects curious about what you can do for (not sell) them. Because once they’re curious, they’re more likely to react—to act. Since your Summary section is often “above the fold” (is seen before anything else) it’s the best place to start sparking reactions.

The idea is to quickly make statements that cause customers to become excited, unsure, eager or even a bit scared. This is different than reciting information about yourself, resume style. Showing customers, “I have a better way,” telling them you have short-cuts they desire or making a bold claim helps you:

  • prove to be worth listening to (grabs the prospect) and
  • position yourself to make a big claim.

Every B-to-B seller has a big claim that plays on the desire of buyers—no matter what you’re selling. It’s believable, credible and needed. So use it. Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to

  • set up the claim
  • make it and
  • create an urge to act on the reaction your claim creates.

For example, Gerry Blaum makes the claim he’ll save Fortune 1000 clients $500,000 in health care over-spending and connect them with better service providers. If he cannot he’ll give clients his fee back. He says, “we only get paid when we save money for our clients.”

Gerry makes his claim in dramatic form. To keep it believable and credible, he reveals how he gets paid. This encourages HR executives at some of the world’s largest companies to wonder, “how, exactly, does Gerry accomplish this?”

Be careful to balance. You don’t want to make a claim that is unbelievable. Or a promise that gives away too much, too fast. Only make claims that sound believable and help buyers develop hunger for all the details. You’re going for a reaction, or an irritation—not total satisfaction.

The idea is to scratch the buyers’ itch-stopping short of offering full relief.

To more fully relieve their itch (or help them reach a goal) they need to take an action. This is just one way to effectively spark connections, email conversations or phone calls with prospects. Shoot me an email or comment below and I’ll share more examples.

STEP 3: Make a Direct or Subtle Call to Action
Give ’em what they want. Whether you’re a job-seeker, marketer or sales rep, your LinkedIn profile should contain “exit points.” Spots where a call to action should be placed—driving prospects away from your profile, toward your landing page, telephone or email inbox.

Toward shortcuts, tips, advice, pain relief, clarity on a fuzzy (yet important) issue or confirmation of nagging fears—whatever they want most.

Make sure you use calls to action to the fullest. Here are quick tips on how to make effective LinkedIn profile calls to action.

You cannot use HTML or links in the Summary section. But you can place calls to action inside it. Creating clearly identifiable sub-sections and headlines gives you the chance to make calls to action.

Look at how Gerry Blaum executes it. It’s easy to scan with the eye, grabbing the essence of each “chunk” of copy.

Stick to the basics. In a few words, use sub-sections inside the Summary to describe:

  • What you do & who you do it for
  • Why the prospect should care (how you do it differently than everyone else)
  • How & WHY customers should contact you (email, Facebook, Twitter, phone, Web site, etc.)

Give ’em what they want. Prove to them, quickly, you’ve got what they want.

Use trigger words to encourage action. Use phrases like:

  • Get all the details
  • Call me, email me
  • Discover fresh tips
  • See examples here
  • Start here (this one is very powerful believe it or not!)

Although you cannot use HTML here, readers will take advantage of links your provide.

Your target audience will visit your Web URL by cutting & pasting or right-clicking. In some Web browsers (like Chrome) users can jump to your Web site by highlighting the URL, right-clicking and immediately visiting your site.

Trent Smith uses his Contact and Summary sections to speak directly to prospects:

If you want visitors to say, “Wow! I’ve got to talk to this attorney right now!” then get website strategies for attracting clients at: http://www.JangoStudios.com

Of course, there are subtle, indirect approaches that are also effective. Choosing the specific approach often depends on your target market, type of decision-maker(s), sales cycles, complexity of what you’re selling etc. For example, Challenger sellers will need to take a much different, educational approach.

If you’re interested in taking first steps on everything I’ve presented today this free video training will get you started in just 12 minutes. Otherwise let’s chat in comments below!

A Lie That Keeps You From Success (Part 1 of 3)

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” The words of 19th centrury historian, Alexis de Tocqueville are even truer today. But not only in the realm of politics. What’s keeping you or your sales team from generating appointments and leads with social selling? Bold, eye-grabbing fibs told by technology vendors and sales trainers whose livelihood depend on adoption of their false inventions. All based on a social media revolution that does not exist.

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.” The words of 19th centrury historian, Alexis de Tocqueville are even truer today. But not only in the realm of politics.

What’s keeping you or your sales team from generating appointments and leads with social selling? Bold, eye-grabbing fibs told by technology vendors and sales trainers whose livelihood depend on adoption of their false inventions. All based on a social media revolution that does not exist.

Get on board, the train is leaving without you! We’ve reinvented sales prospecting and you’re missing out!

But here’s what the gurus (cleverly) don’t tell you: Prospecting best practices remain the same. What works rarely changes. With social selling:

  • your cold calling tactics should evolve a bit—not reinvent themselves
  • LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube don’t replace cold calling—they advance it

Cold calling is alive and thriving. In fact, effective cold call tactics can feed your social selling strategy. Sellers have the chance to improve cold calling and social selling thanks to new tools.

“I often wonder … if the advocates to the ‘death of cold calling’ movement have mixed us a martini using battery acid instead of vermouth and somehow managed to make it pleasing to the palate,” says Kraig Kleeman in a lucid stream of thought on the Association for Talent Development’s LinkedIn group.

5 Signs Your Social Selling Strategy Is a Ticking Bomb
“The (cold calling is dead) argument appears delicious and intoxicating, but somehow its outcome creates a harmfully poisonous effect,” says Kleeman.

He is right. The tsunami of false claims about cold calling being dead can cause you to believe it is a factual reality—and act accordingly. Therein lies the danger.

Believing cold calling is less effective might cause you to rush into social selling and:

  1. Use LinkedIn as a replacement to cold calling—and be banned for using connection requests
  2. Fail to spark conversations with buyers via LinkedIn updates due to misguided tips
  3. Ask for appointments in “first touch” InMail/emails to prospects (big mistake!)
  4. Waste time trying to spark conversations in LinkedIn Groups because of ineffective scripts
  5. Teach ineffective methods to your entire team by hiring a misguided social selling trainer!

Let Social Filter: Trust Your Instincts
What works in cold calling works in social selling. Period. Don’t let any guru tell you otherwise.

An effective cold call produces raw insight on where the buyer is in the decision-making process. If they’re in it at all! It doesn’t set an appointment. It doesn’t ask for a meeting. It is discovery-focused. You’re filtering prospects and placing them in “buckets.”

An effective cold call is brief, blunt and basic. It facilitates to both sides: “Might there be a larger conversation to be had here? Why, when and how?” Done!

The buyer is in control and sets the meeting, demo or call date. Your job is to find the pain—uncover (or confirm) the reason why this prospect might want to talk to you.

Next, your job is to start a journey toward the buyer discovering (for themselves) why they want to talk more. It’s a process, a discipline. That’s why cold calling works so well!

This is the most effective way to approach social selling. First, have a system. Second, focus on the buyer so much they ask you for the next contact—or ask you to stop.

Let social media filter leads for you.

Don’t Do What You’ve Been Told
This may sound crazy, but it’s the best advice I can give. Stop using social media and LinkedIn to:

  • Make initial contact with prospects via LinkedIn connections
  • Send emails/InMails that ask for appointments—overlooking cold call best practices
  • Post updates on LinkedIn without a way to provoke buyers to contact you
  • Comment in LinkedIn groups without a means to spark curiosity in you (get response)
  • Message prospects on LinkedIn using a common group as a reason to speak

If you’re doing any of these, don’t worry. It’s not your fault. Otherwise good people who are looking to ride a wave have given you bad information. Unfortunately, they’re using fear and unbridled enthusiasm as weapons. Just say no.

Boldly Stand-up for the Facts
Kleeman wisely reminds us how the degree of sales productivity can be judged by observing. Take a look at what is going on around you. Notice who is adopting practices based on speculation versus the adoption of fact.

Take a look at the output each group is achieving. (How much money they’re making!)

In other words, are your sales peers being praised as “social selling leaders” simply for “being on” social media? Or are they being financially rewarded based on the facts—how much business they’re winning?

The Best of Both Worlds
Throwing out the old and implementing a very unproven new is hogwash. It’s a lazy strategy based on hot air. Tools like LinkedIn are providing a better way to identify and warm-up cold prospects … and finding “ready to buy” leads. Tons of value there. But …

“Try telling a broker of refurbished airplane parts that raw list cold calling is not a vital activity for revenue capture … try telling a manufacturer of plumbing, HVAC, and home improvement products that cold calling aimed at resellers and end users is ineffective,” says Kleeman.

“You just might need a degree in martial arts or unfettered access to the US military’s drone missile fleet to defend yourself,” he jokes.

Cold calling is alive, thriving and (surprise!) feeding winning social selling strategies. Today is your chance to improve cold calling and social selling thanks to new tools.

Forget about reinventing sales prospecting! Make sure your team has a prospecting strategy that exploits what already works using new social tools.

LinkedIn Prospecting: What Should You Post on LinkedIn and When?

What should you post on LinkedIn and when should you post it? These are common questions for B-to-B marketers and sales reps. Yet, I don’t recommend seeking the answers to them. Point blank: If you want to get prospects talking with you it’s more important to know how to post on LinkedIn.

What should you post on LinkedIn and when should you post it?

These are common questions for B-to-B marketers and sales reps. Yet, I don’t recommend seeking the answers to them.

Point blank: If you want to get prospects talking with you it’s more important to know how to post on LinkedIn.

What to post (and when) is secondary. Don’t fall into the trap!

Start by Asking Why
By asking, “Why am I about to post this?” you’ll focus on the most important part of LinkedIn prospecting.

Process.

When you ask, “Why am I about to post this, what do I want the customer to do?” you’re forced to consider possible answers. For example, you want customers to:

  • share and like an article (weak)
  • respond to a video by signing up for a whitepaper (stronger)
  • react: call or email to learn more about a solution (strongest)

Asking why draws attention to weak points in your LinkedIn prospecting approach. In many cases, reps and marketers don’t have a process in place to grab attention, engage and provoke response.

Because they’re over-focused on what to share, at what time.

Focus on How You Post, Not When
Most of us share content on LinkedIn without giving thought to how. We’re told to engage with relevant content. We curate articles from external experts. We share videos and whitepapers created by our marketing teams.

But are your posts grabbing customers? Are potential buyers responding—hungry to talk with you about transacting?

If not it’s probably because you’re over-focusing on what to post and when. Instead, focus on how.

How you structure words to grab attention, hold it and spark a reaction. Ask yourself these questions to get started.

Does what I post:

  • Contain a call to action?
  • Lead to more content containing a call to action?
  • Have a headline that screams “useful, urgent, unique'” (enough to grab attention)
  • Connect to a lead capture and nurturing sequence?

These are just a few easy ways to get started. If you’d like more tips just ask in comments or shoot me an email.

Relevant content is elementary. The difference between wasting time with LinkedIn prospecting—and generating leads—is sparking buyers’ curiosity in what you can do for them.

Getting them to respond.

Content Must Produce Response (or Else!)
Today’s best social sellers make sure everything they post on LinkedIn creates response. I tell my training students, “Make every piece of content make them crave more.”

Asking “Why am I about to post this?” is answered with “To make them crave more of what I have to offer.”

Accessing more of what you have to offer requires customers to respond—on the phone, via email or by signing up for a whitepaper.

Let’s face it. The best thing you can do for your LinkedIn followers is to get them to DO something meaningful. Not share or like something!

Resist the temptation to use LinkedIn like everyone else does. Sharing relevant content is the entry fee, not the game-changer. What should you post on LinkedIn and when should you post it is secondary.

More Tips for You
Get prospects talking with you on LinkedIn. Do it today. Change the way you post on LinkedIn. Pay attention to how you post. Here are tips to get you started:

  • Rewrite headlines using social media copywriting best practices
  • Get provocative, don’t be afraid to take a side and warn customers of dangers
  • Guide buyers by taking on taboo issues or comparing options to get “best fit”

To help create the habit try asking, “Why am I about to post this?” each time you post. Focus yourself on what you want the reader to do—how you want them to take action.

Let me know how these tips are working for you in comments!

The Voice of Reason

I was completely taken aback by the voice on the other end of the line. He sounded weary—like he might be having a bad month. And he spoke slowly, as if he were having trouble gathering his thoughts. I was feeling impatient. It was the middle of the business day and I had answered my phone in between meetings.

I was completely taken aback by the voice on the other end of the line.

He sounded weary—like he might be having a bad month. And he spoke slowly, as if he were having trouble gathering his thoughts.

I was feeling impatient. It was the middle of the business day and I had answered my phone in between meetings.

By the time he finally laid out his sales pitch, I had already been multi-tasking for a few minutes: dashing off an email, signing off on an expense report, and scribbling down a headline that had popped into my head for a client project.

I politely thanked him for his call, told him I wasn’t interested and hung up. His style was such a turn-off, that I couldn’t recall his name, the company he represented, or the reason he thought I might be a good prospect for his product or service. Net-net, he had wasted my time and his.

So, I have to ask: when was the last time you audited your sales team? I don’t mean their stats—number of calls, number of connects, number of leads, etc., but actually listened in on their calls? Evaluated and provided tips on how an individual might improve with regard to tone and style? It may be the downfall of your telemarketing program.

So here are a five tips to share with your team:

  • Rev the vocal chords before you start dialing for dollars. Just like an athlete warms up before starting to practice, your voice needs time to get ready. Humming, singing or talking to coworkers is a great way to get your chords warmed up.
  • Adjust your pace. A great speaking voice/style includes particular attention to rhythm, pacing, intonation and inflection. Adjusting your tone to find the warmth in your voice that can match your company brand is critical to making your listener feel the same positive energy about your product/service that you’re feeling.
  • Stand up and be heard. Many experts agree that a voice carries more range, resonance and power when the diaphragm isn’t folded over. I often find myself pacing around my office, headset on, participating in a conference call or consultative conversation. It helps me to think clearly and listen more carefully.
  • Step away from the mic. Too often, callers sound muffled or difficult to hear because of their VOIP network, cell phone coverage or background noise. Test out your line/microphone/headset on others so it doesn’t detract from your call.
  • Adapt and reflect. People love to work with people who are like them. As you listen to your prospect, try to match their volume, speed, style and tone without sounding over the top. I was taught to nod while listening (even though they can’t see you) and that “agreement” will come across in your voice.

As for the sad-sack who called me, I’d suggest he find another line of employment. It was clear he didn’t like what he was doing and these tips probably won’t help.

Assume Nothing

It’s completely coincidental that the mayor of Las Vegas and I share the exact same name … including our middle initial. But unlike me, that Carolyn G Goodman was elected to office and has a huge following in cyberspace. Unfortunately for her, I acquired the Twitter handle @carolyngoodman before she even discovered Twitter

It’s completely coincidental that the mayor of Las Vegas and I share the exact same name … including our middle initial. But unlike me, that Carolyn G Goodman was elected to office and has a huge following in cyberspace.

Unfortunately for her, I acquired the Twitter handle @carolyngoodman before she even discovered Twitter. And unfortunately for me, Madame Mayors’ followers (journalists, critics, and other LV lovers) tweet and reference Mayor Goodman by referencing my twitter handle regularly.

While I enjoy her spotlight for a nano-second, I always reply to the offending tweeter that they’ve referenced the wrong twitter handle, and they usually apologize and quickly do their homework and issue a correcting tweet.

It serves, however, as a great reminder that when pushing content, sending emails, lasering direct mail packages, etc., etc., you should assume nothing.

  • Don’t assume I know who you are when you call me to follow up on an email introduction or direct mail letter you sent. Over 800 emails a day land in my in-box. I don’t read them all, and if I do, it’s probably because they’re client or employee-related. Start the call by introducing yourself. Quickly state your business purpose and then move into your relationship building techniques. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to remind me about the email or direct mail package you sent me because clearly I didn’t see it/read it/absorb it.
  • Don’t assume I want a follow-up call from a tradeshow booth chat within 24 hours of the event. While you may want to “jump while the iron is hot,” I am overwhelmed with other issues since I’ve been away from my desk for a few days. Give me a few days to settle back into the routine and then call (if indeed I expressed an interest in your product/service and didn’t just stop by to drop off a business card to win the free iPad).
  • Don’t assume I want to be your friend on Facebook just because we do business together. Facebook plays a key role in my personal life, and I post regularly with family updates, photos of my dog and things I’m doing locally with friends. If you’re a business colleague, let’s stick to being friends through LinkedIn. Period.
  • Don’t assume I want to be added to your email/newsletter list just because I met you at a conference/trade show/friend’s party and we exchanged business cards. Spamming is no way to start a relationship.
  • Don’t assume I follow the genderization rules of your software program. While the name Carolyn is most likely female, all too often folks named Pat, Leslie, or Chris are offended by being addressed as “Mr.” in your direct mail letter or email. Just ask a boy named Sue.
  • Don’t assume I have interest in or empathy towards your organization/product/service. Starting an email or letter with factual information about your company is meaningless and more than likely to trigger an instant finger on the delete button or a careless toss in the recycle bin. Lead with a story, a benefit statement, a problem/solution … just don’t start by talking about yourself. To paraphrase the great Bob Hacker, all the reader cares about is, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Finally, don’t assume that I have a problem and I’ve just been waiting for your sales call in order to solve it. Do your homework. Understand my industry. Look for case studies within your organization that solve issues that I’m probably facing, because I’m in the same industry. Don’t start your call by asking me “a little bit about myself and my company.”

Net-net? Stop assuming and start doing your homework before you decide that I’m responsible for the woes of Las Vegas. Because if I am, I should be writing the script for The Hangover, Part 4.

A LinkedIn Profile Call to Action

LinkedIn profile pages contain areas where a call to action should be placed, such as the publications and summary sections. Are you linking out to landing pages that generate leads? Let’s make sure you are using calls to action to the fullest—to generate more response from prospects. Here are some tips on the best spots to place effective LinkedIn profile calls to action.

LinkedIn profile pages contain areas where a call to action should be placed, such as the publications and summary sections. Are you linking out to landing pages that generate leads? Let’s make sure you are using calls to action to the fullest—to generate more response from prospects. Here are some tips on the best spots to place effective LinkedIn profile calls to action.

Where to Place a LinkedIn Call to Action
You can make a call to action anywhere in your LinkedIn profile. Literally. But there are areas that will get more response than others. The publication section and multimedia (sub-section) of my profile summary generates most of my leads. Your main choices are:

  • Publications
  • Projects
  • Summary
  • Multimedia (video, images, presentations) sub-sections
  • Activity and Volunteering/Causes

Publications: Not Just for Authors
Yes, if you have a book, paper or any kind of written document, this section is ripe for a call to action. Content marketers: This section is for you.

However, you don’t need to be an author to take advantage of the publications section. You can drive traffic to any kind of landing page or product page. There are no restrictions on what a “publication” can be.

All you need is a crisp, clear call to action using text. I also use text symbols to catch the eye.

But what landing page do you need to send prospects to? For example, I have books and written publications for sale on my website AND available free. I use the publication section of my profile to link to my book at Amazon (to drive sales) … but I also link to my free Chapter 1 download page that generates more lucrative business leads.

I also send prospects to landing pages with lead generation offers and sales pages for my most popular LinkedIn sales training and coaching products. The publications section is a flexible space to make your LinkedIn profile call to action.

Your Turn
Do you give away free trials, eBooks or “free tastes” of a product or service in exchange for a name and email address? Do you have lead generation landing pages for free publications or tutorials? How about product pages?

The publications section allows you to create a call to action right in a big, bold hyperlink (Title) along with a short description of what can be expected at the other side of the link.

How to Do it in 7 Quick Steps
To add a publication with call to action:

  1. Click on Edit Profile and look in the right hand column. You’ll see a “Recommended for You” section featuring a handful of optional sections, including Publications. Click it.
  2. Use the “Name” field for your LinkedIn profile call to action. Use symbols to call attention to your call to action. You may also use capital letters.
  3. Select Occupation (your most relevant job position).
  4. Select Date (the current date is fine or add the date your publication was published).
  5. Publication URL: Place the URL of your landing page here!
  6. Author: Select yourself.
  7. Description: Use this space to place more specific trigger words—words that speak to exactly what your target prospect wants more than anything else. Entice them to click!

Examples of calls to action from my profile include: “free online training … make your blog sell for you” and “how to make social media sell for you.”

Always Use ‘Trigger Words’
Always use good copywriting tactics. This part is critical to success. Trigger words encourage prospects to take action—drive them to your best content marketing landing pages. Use phrases like:

  • Get all the details
  • Call me, email me
  • Discover fresh tips
  • See examples here
  • Start here (this one is very powerful believe it or not!)

Remember: You can make a call to action anywhere in your LinkedIn profile. However, there will be spots that get better response.

Do you have good, pithy, action-oriented video content? Do they make calls to action using, for example, YouTube annotations embedded in video? Us the Multimedia sub-section of you or your sales team’s profile. Get on the stick. Make your LinkedIn profile call to action today. Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!

If You Speak, Will They Listen?

Yesterday, I was one of two speakers at a webinar hosted by Target Marketing. During our prep call earlier in the week, the host advised us that over 1,000 people had signed up to attend this free event. Now I know from past experience that only 50 percent will likely attend, but another 10 percent to 20 percent will listen to the podcast after the fact. But despite providing case studies, facts and figures based on industry best practices, the disappointing reality is that very few “attendees” will ever try to implement the lessons that I shared

Yesterday, I was one of two speakers at a webinar hosted by Target Marketing. During our prep call earlier in the week, the host advised us that over 1,000 people had signed up to attend this free event.

Now I know from past experience that only 50 percent will likely attend, but another 10 percent to 20 percent will listen to the podcast after the fact. But despite providing case studies, facts and figures based on industry best practices, the disappointing reality is that very few “attendees” will ever try to implement the lessons that I shared.

How do I know this? Because I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and have spoken at dozens of conferences and am continued to be amazed at how many companies feel the need to reinvent the wheel.

For example, when presented with a prospect’s particular marketing challenge and we recommend a fully integrated campaign solution that includes online and offline initiatives, the client says “let’s test to learn what will work best.”

Really?

I’ve been involved in testing for my entire 30+ year marketing career. And I’ve tested offers, colors, premiums, even signature lines, and those can yield very different results client to client. But here’s the one thing I don’t need to test: A fully integrated marketing campaign will outperform a single medium campaign every time. Why? Because different people consume information differently.

Some spend time online and click through banners, buttons or SEM results. Others gather information at conferences and webinars. Still others open and read email and direct mail.

Net-net, at some point, if they have a need, they will raise their hands in some way, whether they accept an inbound call from your sales rep or make a call into your call center. Perhaps they’ll visit your website and download something? Or visit your booth at a tradeshow?

The source of the “lead” will be misleading if you’re trying to measure and prove ROI, because they were exposed to your message in a number of ways and just because they finally raised their hands, you assign them to one channel and credit it with being the driver of leads. The next thing you know, you’re shifting marketing dollars to that one channel, and yet a year later you’re wondering why lead volume is down.

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ll meet new prospects who say their last (single channel) marketing campaign didn’t work. Therefore the (single channel) is a waste of money.

After digging a little deeper, the prospect didn’t really know where the “list” came from, or what the “offer” was or whether the campaign ran during a hurricane which meant that no one was online searching for their particular product during that particular week.

Here’s the key takeaway: Well planned, fully integrated campaigns usually yield the highest number of leads at the lowest cost. And the key to real sales success is the follow up.

Follow up those leads with an intelligent combination of emails and phone calls based on lead value (oh yeah, don’t forget to ask two or three questions when acquiring that lead so you can score its value to the organization), and—here’s the most important part—actually follow up with emails and phone calls that demonstrate to that prospect that you understand his or her pain and have the experience and solutions that can help solve the problem. In other words, talk to them in a language they can understand.

When prospects complete an online form and complete the box that asks “Industry” by choosing “Manufacturing,” don’t contact them as if they are in healthcare. If the forms asks for “Company Size” and the respondent chooses “1 to 10,” then treat that respondent like the small business it is. Demonstrate that you understand the challenges facing small businesses in manufacturing and you’ll gain far more credibility and brand engagement.

The next time management asks you to reinvent the wheel to solve the marketing challenge, tell them you already know what to do, because you’ve done your homework.

Only Trust Professionals – and Other Lessons From the NFL

I’m not even a big football fan, but I could certainly relate to the pain felt by the Saints when that last minute touchdown call was ruled against them. Of course the problem was with the inexperienced referees, called in when the professionals went out on strike. The same blame game is used when a direct marketing campaign goes awry. The client’s pointing its finger at the agency for its work/ideas, while the agency’s pointing its finger at the client for its direction/changes.

I’m not even a big football fan, but I could certainly relate to the pain felt by the Saints when that last minute touchdown call was ruled against them. Of course the problem was with the inexperienced referees, called in when the professionals went out on strike.

The same blame game is used when a direct marketing campaign goes awry. The client’s pointing its finger at the agency for its work/ideas, while the agency’s pointing its finger at the client for its direction/changes.

A successful direct marketing campaign is comprised of many complex facets—and it takes knowledge, experience and expertise to execute it flawlessly.

Despite the fact that many agencies claim complete integration and global knowledge, the reality is they often talk a good strategic game, but when handed a DM assignment, the executional details are left to the inexperienced.

I’ve received several calls recently from colleagues who want me to “help their agency” with the direct mail portion of a campaign. Not the strategy or the creative (their agency won’t let anyone touch that golden egg), but the list. It seems the agency doesn’t know the first thing about lists … and had been trying to sell the client something found on the internet from an unknown supplier.

That’s like asking the NFL referee to make the call on the Saints interference, but not on the Seahawks touchdown. The two are inexplicably entwined.

So I am asking, no begging, that clients identify and leverage agency partners based on their specialty. Spend your time understanding what skills are truly in the agency’s wheelhouse—and not a “sure, we can do that too!” skill. If the agency specializes in branding, then that’s what they’re probably very, very good at … and if it specializes in digital marketing (kind of a broad skill, but whatever), then ask them for help with your digital needs.

Good direct marketing agencies understand how to step back and think about your marketing needs based on your business goals and objectives. They delve deep into target audience research, trying to understand the audience mindset and identify key messages that will resonate and motivate a response. They may, in fact, recommend that you don’t use email (horrors!) or direct mail (gasp!) in your campaign mix for a variety of reasons, including the inability to find blue-eyed, left handed crane operators in any meaningful quantity that would make sense.

Good direct marketing agencies know how to source lists that are compiled from reputable sources. And they know how to evaluate those lists, identify the potential winners, and set up an unbiased test matrix to test and learn from a statistically valid sample size.

Good direct marketing agencies know how to design a campaign that will yield the desired response from the target. They’ll have solid rationale as to why a #10 package makes sense instead of a postcard, or why a three-panel self-mailer doesn’t make sense—even though your brand agency designed one that was “cool.” Or why an email shouldn’t consist of product images, or have a Subject line that’s longer than 40 characters.

Good direct marketing agencies know how to write compelling teasers, headlines, subheads, Johnson Boxes, P.S.’s and body copy based on years of testing and experience. They know how to leverage customer quotes, and the difference between a brochure, a buckslip, and a lift note.

Good direct marketing agencies don’t pick an offer because it sounds like fun, or because the client wants to get rid of the pile of chachkies in the warehouse. Their recommendations for offers is based on a deep understanding of what can motivate a target, an evaluation of the ROI model, and in-depth experience based on years of testing.

So if you view direct marketing as a skill set that can be handled by the temporary ref, then let your branding agency take charge. But if you want real results, bring in the pros.