4 Great Holiday Mail Tips

The holiday season is quickly approaching. Are you ready to send direct mail that gets you better results than last year?

holiday mail
“Mail Direct,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by frankieleon

The holiday season is quickly approaching. Are you ready to send direct mail that gets you better results than last year?

Both customers and prospects are on the lookout for great deals during the holidays. So now is the time to get started planning yours. Staying ahead of your competition is important this time of the year. Are you ready to get started?

How to create great holiday direct mail:

  1. Target — Make sure that you are targeting the right holiday messages to the right people. Yes, your offers need to be targeted. But if you send a Christmas greeting to a Jewish family, you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with them on a more personal level. The better you target and personalize, the better response you will get. So really look at your data to make sure you have enough information to target correctly.
  2. Fun — Have fun with your mail pieces! This time of year is full of fun, so join in and create a mail piece that is not just an offer, but a really fun experience. Think outside of the box about what you can do differently to have more fun with your prospects and customers. It does not have to be super expensive. Think about adding some texture as a way to make your piece feel different or fun folds that keep on going.
  3. Savings — Make sure you are offering great savings to your prospects and customers. This time of year, they expect it. Remember, it’s all in the wording of the offer. Interpretation is the key, so a higher percentage off a lower-cost item is seen as a better deal than a lower percentage off a high-price item. Target the discounts based on things they are interested in. You can use variable data to make a highly targeted coupon.
  4. Sharing — Offer a way for people to share the savings with friends and family for the holidays. This time of the year, people love to share. So you can have your message expand well beyond your list when they do. This can really help to increase your ROI and make customers and prospects happy they can share.

Great holiday mail incorporates all four of the items above. It is a special time of year that is also reflected in the special types of mailings that get sent out. Don’t just send a postcard — be extra creative for the holidays to not only stand out in the mail box, but to get people to respond. Also, don’t wait for December. Send something for Halloween and Thanksgiving, too. Really get into the holiday spirit and have fun. Customers will appreciate it.

If you have a little extra funds for the holiday campaigns, consider using video or fun cut-outs. Anything you can do to make your mail more interactive and staying on message will help increase your ROI. Make sure that as you are brainstorming ideas, you continue to look at it from the customer’s perspective. You need to focus on what they will respond to and enjoy. If possible, get some customer feedback on your ideas before you launch — just to make sure you are on the right road.

Are you ready to get started on a fun holiday campaign?

10 Lessons From My First Viral Video

Creating a video and having it go viral is surely every marketer’s dream. Last month, it happened for me. The outcomes — ranging from monetization to brand awareness — were surprising, eye-opening and beyond my wildest dreams. Since you, too, may hope someday to have a video you’ve created go viral, I offer 10 lessons …

Creating a video and having it go viral is surely every marketer’s dream. Last month, it happened for me. The outcomes — ranging from monetization to brand awareness — were surprising, eye-opening and beyond my wildest dreams. Since you, too, may hope someday to have a video you’ve created go viral, I offer 10 lessons that I have learned with this viral video experience.

Regular readers know that I do the marketing work for an internationally acclaimed chorus that has appeared throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The performers, including myself, are all volunteers. We sing for the love of singing, bringing richness and emotionally touching people’s lives.

It’s been my dream, for years, that someday we’d have a video go viral. Instinctively, I knew it wouldn’t be a polished, professionally produced video, but rather, a video showing a side of the chorus that the public generally doesn’t see.

A confluence of factors set the stage. One of the chorus’s most beloved songs is “Hallelujah,” written by the great singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist and painter, Leonard Cohen. He passed away on Nov. 10.

As we had planned to rehearse “Hallelujah” for an upcoming Christmas Show that evening, word spread of his passing. I realized that honoring Cohen by singing “Hallelujah” would be a moment to acknowledge this great modern-day composer. We had experimented with Facebook Live Streaming in recent weeks, with very positive audience response and a few thousand views. So we decided to live stream this unscripted moment to our thousands of Facebook fans, as we remembered Cohen and sang his song to honor him.

In a moment of spontaneity, we gathered our thoughts and I asked one of our teenage performers to hold his iPhone for the live stream. In a hurry, he didn’t have his tripod, so he held his phone in the vertical orientation (natural when using any smartphone) instead of horizontal (which would have better filled the frame for most viewers). Our director, by his own admission, rambled in the early seconds of his introduction. And yet, through this less-than-ideal setup for a video, it has been viewed by millions.

We recorded it at about 10:00 p.m., toward the end of our rehearsal. By 8:00 a.m. the next morning, it had already been viewed 30,000 times. We were thrilled, but then the groundswell continued. The next milestone of about 100,000 views came at about 1:00 p.m. Then a half million by 10 a.m. the next morning. One million in just over 48 hours.

And now, just a month after it was recorded, it has been viewed more than 8.2 million times, with the post seen by about 19 million. The numbers continue to grow — even after 30 days.

Equally impressive: More than 184,000 people have shared the video, and about 52,000 have commented. The comments came from all 50 U.S. States, and dozens of countries. I’ve always felt it important to promptly respond to comments of an inquiring nature. We have kept up with them, but at 52,000 comments, it’s been a heavy lift to read and respond accordingly. Engagement breeds further engagement. You have to do the work.

Along the way, the media in Dallas-Fort Worth (where the chorus is based) picked up the story with interviews and mentions on a local TV station, the Dallas Morning News, a highly rated radio station, and smaller community newspapers.

Pre-Marketing Strategy: 8 Ways to Build Buzz Factor

Christmas is coming! Can you feel the buzz? Or more specifically, are you generating pre-season buzz now? If the Holiday season is your time to make hay, today I share eight ways to get the buzz going now, while …

Santa's not the only one who should already be working on Christmas. It's time to start building buzz. Christmas is coming! Can you feel the buzz? Or more specifically, are you generating pre-season buzz now? If the Holiday season is your time to make hay, today I share eight ways to get the buzz going now, while it’s only August.

My professional life — and personal life — is consumed with the air of Christmas for about six months of every year. In my personal life, I’m a performer with a world-renowned choral organization, and I oversee the marketing and selling of concert tickets, other events, recordings and fundraising.

Last May we pinned down our Christmas and Spring Season themes. Planning continued through June and July. This summer we introduced content marketing campaigns to warm our patrons to the fact that tickets would soon be on sale.

And now that it’s August, the Christmas and Spring season is announced with tickets on sale. The first week of sales smashed prior records, due in part from the pre-buzz. Starting in September, the marketing focus narrows to only the Christmas Show with heavy email, social content, social targeting, video and direct mail.

Why is this campaign successful? It’s in the “pre.” That is, generating buzz that creates energy and demand for a product or event before it goes on sale.

8 Ways to Build Buzz

When anticipation builds over time before the product goes “now on sale,” a floodgate of demand opens. So here are my eight recommendations for a pre-marketing, buzz-building strategy.

  1. Create content that teases without revealing the entire story. Let your audience know you’re planning and that they’ll learn more in increments.
  2. Give your prospects and customers the future timeline of when your event or product will become available. Then, on the day you go live, make it a big push!
  3. Flood your prospective customers across every channel available to build story. We primarily use email and social media pointing to video. Facebook has become very effective. We embed video for high visibility boosted with sponsored digital ads served to Facebook users who were matched from our email list, and who have visited our website in the past 30 days.
  4. Encourage your social media followers to share your teaser posts with their followers and friends.
  5. Pose pre-launch questions about making your life better, such as: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could …”
  6. If it’s a product launch, take pre-orders and/or create and promote an event to make the announcement.
  7. Post milestones of pre-order quantities, or seats sold (and seats remaining), leading up to the event.
  8. Have a closer strategy. Direct mail remains our deal-closer channel. Yes, email and social media sell for us, but we’ve learned that when we mail more frequently in the season, we ultimately sell more tickets.

Enjoy the buzz of marketing your long holiday season!

(My new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” is available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore. Or download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” )