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?

2 Words to Get You Through 2017

Last week during our annual holiday party, our president Dave Leskusky gave a thoughtful speech, sharing that he wanted to spend more time in 2017 saying “thank you.” He thanked us for our hard work, the effort we make to accept new challenges and the strides we take to keep running at the pace he asks of us. At the time, it seemed like an apropos holiday party speech. Nice. Not too long. Just the right amount of jokes added in the right spots. But then I thought a little more about it.

Last week during our annual holiday party, our president Dave Leskusky gave a thoughtful speech, sharing that he wanted to spend more time in 2017 saying “thank you.” Thanking us for our hard work, the effort we make to accept new challenges and the strides we take to keep running at the pace he asks of us.

He thanked the room of people surrounding him, some of us receiving shout-outs for specific projects, and at the time it seemed like an apropos holiday party speech. Nice. Not too long. Just the right amount of jokes added in the right spots.

Thank You Fallon gifBut I’ve thought about it off and on for the past week, and while “thank you” might seem like two simple words, when said with genuine gratitude, it’s much more.

It reminds us that we’re seen, that we matter and that we have an effect on others. That’s pretty powerful.

So, for my final post of 2016, I have this to say: Thank you.

Thank you for clicking on my headlines in the e-newsletter, on the website, on social media sites, or if you’re one of my close friends, for clicking on the links I text you when I’m especially excited about a piece I write or a video I shoot.

Thank you for reading and watching. Thank you for taking the time to comment publicly on our site, or to reach out to me privately. We all lead busy lives (by the way, “busy” is the the four-letter word I ban from most of our editorial meetings, because, duh, we all are), so when you take the time to reach out to me, I realize you could have spent that time doing something else, possibly much more important.

Thank you standing with me when you agree with one of my points, and thank you for — respectfully — challenging me when you disagree. Trust me, I learn something every time you do.

As we head into 2017, let’s all take more time to thank those around us. Our friends and families, our colleagues, our customers. And mean it when you say “thank you,” otherwise you’re just meaninglessly uttering two words that can have a lot of power when used for good (all right, now I’m stepping into cheesy territory … time to doggie paddle out).

And if you didn’t see the video we shared yesterday, celebrating our team’s accomplishments in 2016, check it out below!

We had a lot of fun this year, and we couldn’t have done it without you … thank you! Happy Holidays, and I’ll see you in 2017!

8 Maids a-Milking, 7 Marketing Efforts a-Marketing

With the holidays just days away, every email in my inbox and website in my browser has donned its ugly sweater and draped itself in tinsel. As always, I’m eager to get into the spirit too. Here are a few pieces of seasonal marketing I thought were particularly worthy of the Nice list.

With the holidays just days away, every email in my inbox and website in my browser has donned its ugly sweater and draped itself in tinsel. As always, I’m eager to get into the spirit too. Here are a few pieces of seasonal marketing I thought were particularly worthy of the Nice list.

Take a break from decking those halls and check them out!

Subject Line: No-paper-necessary gifts (Because you’re wrapped up in other things)

First up, Sephora. Proof you don’t need the red-green-white combo to bring the holiday cheer. Bright, colorful, and a clever subject line.And hey — two “wrap”-related puns.

sephora

Subject Line: A Bigger, Better Holiday Sale – 30% Off More Holiday Treats!

My next pick is this email from Paper Source. You can see there’s a little more content I cropped off, but the real star (as it should be) was the sale graphic in the top half. Eye-catching sale copy and clean, bright design, and a good choice of product (the “for _________” plate) to represent the goodies. If I have one slight criticism, it’s that at first open, I didn’t realize the writing was part of the plate and tried to click each cookie as if they were separate links! Perhaps a design oversight, but then again, it still got me to click.

papersource

Subject Line: A Gift For You: The Limited Edition Sophisticated Marketer’s Holiday Box Set

Because retailers can’t have all the holiday fun! Of course over at LinkedIn they’ve got good campaigns figured out. This email is short and sweet with fun copy (elf-approved!!!) and even better downloadable content. This really is a great gift for any marketer. And look at that elf! He’s just hangin’ out, doin’ Christmas. Aww.

linkedin

Subject Line: Open for Christmas glow + EXTRA $10 off!

Bath & Body Works has a handle on pretty much every season. What got me on this one is their little advent-calendar Christmas delivery countdown on top (this has actually been a consistent addition since the holiday season started), the coupon code (PEARTREE), and the animation in the graphic, also included below.

bath-body-works1212_10off30_v5

6 Strategies to Land a New Job By January 

With Halloween gone and Thanksgiving just around the corner, you can easily get distracted by all the festivities and put your job hunt on hold. It’s actually a common misconception that hiring doesn’t happen over the holidays. In reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Find a New Job by JanuaryWith Halloween gone and Thanksgiving just around the corner, you can easily get distracted by all the festivities and put your hunt for a new job on hold. It’s actually a common misconception that hiring doesn’t happen over the holidays. In reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Last year I delivered documents for a client on November 23 and by early January, he started a new 6-figure job. The year prior, I bumped into a client in November who had been in transition for several months. I told her to not slow down her search over the holidays. She emailed me in early January to say she was starting a new position.

Hiring does happen over the holidays. Here are six ways to make the most out of the holiday season for your job hunt.

1. Ramp up Your Job Search During the Holidays

Most of your peers slow down their search because they think that “people are busy”, or “no one is in the office.” So that means there is less competition out there for you. The last quarter of the year is actually pretty active. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hire rate for December 2015 was more than 5 percent higher than in January 2016. Oftentimes, companies have head counts that they will loose if they don’t fill it by year-end. Or they know they are getting approval to hire in January so they start searching now in order to have the new person starting in early January.

2. Re-engage Your Network With Holiday Greetings

The holidays are a perfect time to reconnect with your network — recruiters, colleagues and previous employers — and provide a reminder that you exist. It’s as easy as dropping them a note on LinkedIn, or arranging a time to meet and catch up.

3. Work the Room at Holiday Parties

Social events are pretty synonymous with the holidays. Not just family events, but events at work and any associations you may be a part of. No one is expecting you to be fishing for job leads at one of these events, so it’s easier to keep things more casual. But people feel more giving around the holidays and want to help.

If parties usually make you feel like running the opposite direction, seek out the other person standing alone and engage in some small talk. Ask some questions about their holiday traditions or their favorite thing to do over the holidays. Eventually the conversation naturally leads to, “So what do you do?” This is when you can mention your career goals or that you are looking for a new challenge.

4. Reach Out to ThirdParty Recruiters 

Lack of open positions is not the challenge for recruiters during this time of year — in fact, the challenge is in the pool of candidates drying up. Recruiters are motivated to fill any open positions by year-end so they can earn their commission. So make third-party recruiters be your secret weapon to snag an offer and have a great reason to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.

5. Be Flexible

Those involved in the hiring process may be trying to take some vacation time themselves. So if you can make yourself available you’ll likely have an advantage over your competition. This may mean you need to be willing to come back early from vacation or shift holiday plans. There is no reason to go extreme and cancel without an interview secured, though. That will just disappoint you and your family.

6. Update Your Personal Marketing Materials

Finding time to job search while you’re employed is not always easy. Make the most out of your time off and get your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter up-to-date. Gather your reviews and make notes about the projects you’ve completed over the last 12 months. Ask your colleagues for recommendations on LinkedIn. Better yet, gift your colleagues and former managers by writing a recommendation for them, first.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year to be in job search! Companies don’t stop hiring just because it’s the holidays. Happy job hunting!

Positioning Crisis to Look Like a Clever Plan

It’s the holidays. And winter weather. Anything can happen to the best of our marketing plans, along with product or service delivery, no matter what time of year. So what is your plan if your biggest product shipment, event or other signature aspect of your organization is snared in a dizzying downward spiral because of circumstances out of your control? And how do you respond so, in the end, the boss says

It’s the holidays. And winter weather. Anything can happen to the best of our marketing plans, along with product or service delivery, no matter what time of year. So what is your plan if your biggest product shipment, event or other signature aspect of your organization is snared in a dizzying downward spiral because of circumstances out of your control? And how do you respond so, in the end, the boss says, “Your actions give the impression that this was a clever plan all along.”

If you’re like many direct marketing organizations, you don’t feel you have time to plan for crisis. As many of our long-time followers know, we do pro bono work for a performing arts organization in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The first weekend of December was to be the group’s annual Christmas Shows, and for the first time in its history, the entire region was iced in. Three out of four performances had to be cancelled—at the last minute. They have been rescheduled, but we focused on one thing at a time through the scheduling crisis.

With that fresh experience behind us—and the lessons we learned about how to successfully keep ticket cancellations and refunds to a minimum—we offer these 10 recommendations that, someday, you may need to use in a crisis:

  1. The Customer Comes First There will be anguish about cancelling a delivery, event and more. But the customer’s personal safety, expectations and experience must come first. They will remember how you handled a crisis for years.
  2. Present a Solution, Not a Problem Foster a culture in your organization so that no one drops a problem at your footsteps and doesn’t offer a solution. Encourage problem solving and solution offering. If you’re not all in the same physical location, get on the phone. Email and texts are a lousy way to encourage dynamic creativity and solve problems.
  3. Communicate Internally First. In crisis mode, it’s easy to think the customer must be notified first. Our experience: internal decisions must be communicated to everyone inside the organization first because there will be those on your staff who are posting on Facebook or Twitter. They’re intent is good, they want to help. But if they have any detail wrong, it can confuse and damage your reputation.
  4. Be Transparent and Truthful. Your customers, patrons and donors deserve the unvarnished truth. In our case, the reason for cancellation was obvious. But customers deserve to know that you’re working on solutions. Tell them what you’re doing through social media and via email.
  5. Empower One Individual to Push the Messaging Buttons. This isn’t to say that others shouldn’t help implement the plan. The point is that one person calls the messaging shots and gives direction so your organization (including the top) speaks with one voice.
  6. Update Your Website Minute to Minute. Watch your analytics reports and you’ll see quite quickly that your customers will look at your website first. Have it update-to-date by the minute. Use in-your-face graphics, in a prime location on the home page, with your announcement.
  7. Mobilize Communications Immediately. In the old days, we would have done our best to make thousands of phone calls. Thankfully today, email and social media can get out the word quickly. Email segmentation allowed us to pinpoint exactly which patrons were directly impacted, and they were sent an email (without distracting thousands who are on the email list but not affected).
  8. Constantly Monitor Social Media. Social media announcements of this magnitude spread in minutes. If you have staff or volunteers, tell them exactly what you should say. Often your customer wants to help you and spread your message for you. Give them the information. Then monitor comments so you can answer questions and clarify misinformation.
  9. Enhance Your Product Once Delivered. Most likely your product is, well, your product. It can’t be changed. But you can include a gift or bonus for the inconvenience. Or make light of the situation through messaging and give your customers an even better experience.
  10. Stay Calm and Carry On. The best compliment you can receive after the worst is behind you is, “Your actions give the impression that this was a clever plan all along.” How do you build successful teams? Foster an encouraging, solution-driven culture. And don’t permit your organization to become paralyzed in the decision-making process.

Hopefully you’ll never have to manage a crisis. We don’t want to have to ever do this again.

If you’re curious about how the messaging was handled for this organization, you can read the details here through the end of December.