Why Include Direct Mail In Optichannel Marketing?

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing.

Direct mail is highly effective on its own; however, when you combine it with other marketing channels, it gets even better. Demand Metric, in partnership with PFL, conducted a benchmark study, “Multichannel Marketing Maximizing Program Engagement and ROI”. The optichannel marketing research is meant to understand the importance of multichannel marketing and the power of intentional, coordinated marketing efforts.

The goal of the study was to collect data to identify best practices and help marketers know how to reach specific audiences, and when to use particular tactics within their multichannel campaigns. The results indicate that direct mail needs to be a part of your optichannel marketing strategy.

Key findings:

  • When direct mail is personalized and tightly integrated into the channel mix and campaign technology: Average response rates improve significantly, with a 62% increase in those reporting good or very good response rates. The ROI of multichannel campaigns improves significantly, with an 80% increase in those reporting good or very good ROI.
  • Just over half of this study’s participants include direct mail in their multichannel campaigns, and 80% of them report that direct mail improves multichannel campaign performance.
  • The executive, or C-Suite, audience is the most sought after by study participants. Events and direct mail are the most effective channels to reach them.
  • While postcards are the most frequently used direct mail format, the dimensional format does the best job of representing the brand.
  • More channels produce higher response. Respondents using seven or more channels in their mix are 26% more likely to indicate their multichannel programs produce good or very good response.

Respondents use a multitude of channels that include:

  1. Email: 91% usage
  2. Social Media: 81% usage
  3. Events: 73% usage
  4. Display Ads/Remarketing: 60% usage
  5. Direct Mail: 56% usage
  6. Search/PPC: 51% usage
  7. Outbound Business Development/Sales Development: 47% usage
  8. Content Syndication: 35% usage
  9. Other: 5% usage

Most marketers are using between three and five channels on any given campaign, but results show that you should consider adding more channels. When marketers use seven or more channels, they report a 77% “very good” or “good” response rate. The report also found that marketers are not consistently using the most effective channels. The top three most effective channels are: events at 83%, integrated and personalized direct mail at 78%, and Search/PPC at 73%. What are you using?

Direct Mail Needs More Attention From Marketers

The report shows that marketers are most familiar with postcard and letter formats, and report that they use those formats most. Postcards are the least expensive direct mail format. Many marketers favor postcards because there is nothing to open: the message is easily visible. Dimensional mail formats are a close third in usage. This format includes pieces that are not flat, like the other types, but have an element of depth to them. A dimensional mail piece is often sent in boxes or tubes, and its very form invites opening it. These pieces evoke natural curiosity and tend to drive higher response rates. Have you tried dimensional mail?

According to study participants, direct mail clearly enhances multichannel campaign performance. In this study, 52% report a moderate to major improvement in campaign performance when direct mail is one of the channels. When direct mail is part of the channel mix, campaigns have slightly better response rates. Personalized direct mail generates significantly better response rates to multichannel campaigns. Are you using direct mail enough?

As you can see, adding direct mail to your optichannel marketing campaigns is significant. The more personalized and integrated it is, the better your response rate is going to be. Are you ready to get started with more personalized direct mail?

Create Direct Mail Alignment for Better Results

The strategy of direct mail alignment with your other marketing channels is crucial for your success. Mixed messages, poor clarity and too many points of view confuse your prospects and customers so they don’t make a purchase. Aligning your messaging across channels is the best strategy to give you better results.

The strategy of direct mail alignment with your other marketing channels is crucial for your success. Mixed messages, poor clarity and too many points of view confuse your prospects and customers so they don’t make a purchase. Aligning your messaging across channels is the best strategy to give you better results.

Good marketing alignment provides:

  • Engagement: People are more engaged with your mail piece when they understand what you are saying. They must be able to easily see what the key benefits are to them and why they matter.
  • Trust: Alignment across your marketing channels provides greater clarity and trust. When people trust you, they buy from you. Since direct mail is considered to be the most trustworthy marketing channel, take advantage of it.
  • Performance: When you align, you are able to meet customer and prospect expectations. This leads to more purchases and better marketing performance.

So how can you come up with aligned messaging? Find the right problem to solve with your product or service for your customers and prospects. You must deliver a value to them and you do that by solving their problems. If you are not sure of how best to articulate your message as solving a problem, talk to some of your current customers. Their feedback can help you articulate better messaging.

With direct mail alignment with other marketing channels, you find that prospects and customers are pulled into the purchase zone. It is a natural occurrence when people are engaged with your company and want to be a part of the experience you have created across marketing channels. Remember that emotion is the key to drive response. How can people get an emotional attachment to your messaging if it is not clear and resonates throughout all of your marketing messaging?

Your customers and prospects need to know that you can provide them with three key things:

  1. Attention: They want to feel as though you think they are special. You can do this with personalization and special offers. Only send relevant marketing to them. I once received a mailer that wanted me to become a member of an organization that I had already been a member of for over 14 years. I felt insulted and not valued. Be sure to send the right offer to the right people.
  2. Competency: They want to feel that you know what you are doing and will provide them with a good product or service. You can help build up their view of you by using testimonials from current customers.
  3. Caring: They want to feel that you care about them as individuals. Give them a little extra love with a bonus offer or gift after they order. Make them want to continue to do business with you.

When your story messaging meets all three points, it resonates more — which leads to increased response. Your marketing strategy should align your messaging effectively. How do you do that? Remember that people love and relate to stories. When you are able to create your messaging in story form, you build authenticity, trust, empathy and engagement — which all lead to purchasing from you. This story can then be used strategically across all of your marketing channels to enhance your results.

This will take planning and time to prefect; however, the results are well worth it. Are you ready to get started?

With 140 Characters Comes Great Responsibility

With the introduction of social media came the birth of many new marketing channels, which businesses have fallen over each other trying to leverage and master. But, are they doing so effectively and responsibly?

Social media light bulbHistorically, when a business person speaks “off the cuff,” his or her PR staff quickly steps in to minimize any fall-out. Today, Twitter is the new “off the cuff” megaphone — but in most businesses, tweets are carefully controlled; crafted by someone in PR or marketing and often passed by legal. Despite that structure, there are plenty of instances of irresponsible business messaging (for example, Home Depot’s racist photo) and their typically instant consequences — like the loss of a job.

The world has already been exposed to President-elect Trump’s unfiltered “off-the-cuff” tweets, and his most recent slam of Boeing had an immediate impact on Boeing’s stock price — which leads me to my point.

With the introduction of social media came the birth of many new marketing channels, which businesses have fallen over each other trying to leverage and master. But, are they doing so effectively and responsibly?

Our agency posts daily tweets on behalf of several of our B-to-B clients. To keep them on topic and relevant to their brand and their followers, we are very thoughtful and selective about what we tweet and retweet under their brand name. But this does not seem to be the norm.

When looking at the tweets of those they follow, there are thousands of messages unrelated to the business at hand. During this divisive election year, there were plenty of tweets about one candidate or the other — a topic I would recommend any business shy away from unless they are looking to alienate part of their customer base. Sometimes, they share a cartoon or other form of humor; one business posts the latest stats on the chances of winning the lottery.

Are these important, responsible and relevant posts? Do they help their stakeholders feel more engaged with their brand? Or are they merely checking the box that they’ve tweeted each day?

As our email inboxes continue to fill with unwanted email solicitations, and our personal Facebook pages become overrun with commentary from our friends or family that require us to scroll by and eventually unfriend, I’d like to suggest that any business using Twitter — as a channel to promote and build relationships with their fans and future brand evangelists — should use a filter before they hit the “Tweet” button.

Tweeting is not about volume. It’s about maintaining a dialogue with your followers on relevant topics of mutual interest that serve to enhance your brand. And without applying any sort of personal filter on your efforts, there will be consequences. Just ask the guy who used to work for Home Depot.

‘Social Media’ Is a Useless Idea

Sometimes it seems like the whole thing is a big, distributed CRM vending machine. But it’s not one thing. Social media is in fact many things, and they’re not really that similar.

Social Media TrendsI talk about social media A LOT these days.

That’s not because “likes” are some great indicator of marketing success. It’s because the interaction model of marketers and customers/prospects on social media is one of the most interesting and quickly changing fields in communications today. Things that a few decades ago had to happen in person or by mail now happen instantaneously with people you never even see, and many of them may actually be computer programs.

Sometimes it seems like the whole thing is a big, distributed CRM vending machine.

But it’s not one thing. Social media is in fact many things, and they’re not really that similar.

That’s why “social media” suddenly seems a useless idea. And perhaps it always was.

In the world where most of our interaction is happening online, are Facebook and Twitter really any more similar than mail and TV?

I don’t think they are. The strategies, creative and interaction on both of them are completely different, not to mention the advertising. Facebook is a gathering place, Twitter is a micro broadcasting platform. Instagram is for sharing your pictures, Pinterest is for sharing images you find around the Internet. LinkedIn is how you want to be remembered, and Snapchat is for the stuff you don’t want to remember.

It’s time we stopped talking about these different media channels as the same thing simply because they emerged from a vaguely similar time frame and technologies. Each one takes the kind of individual attention you give to executing your email program.

And if that’s the case, the singular idea of social media really isn’t useful anymore.

Like the traditional media channels, you don’t need to be on all of them. But the ones you do use must be respected as the unique platforms they are.

10 Best Ways To Use Direct Mail With Success

Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool. When executed correctly you can see a great return on your investment. However, direct mail is not the be all and end all for your marketing. It is an important channel to utilize in conjunction with your other marketing channels. Direct mail can even give you a lift in online engagement. Let’s look at how to use direct mail to shine.

Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool. When executed correctly you can see a great return on your investment. However, direct mail is not the be all and end all for your marketing. It is an important channel to utilize in conjunction with your other marketing channels. Direct mail can even give you a lift in online engagement. Let’s look at how to use direct mail to shine.

10 best ways to use direct mail:

  1. Counter a Competitive Offer:
    Direct mail allows you to be covert with your offer so that the competition does not know what you are doing until it has mailed and is too late. It takes them longer to find out what your direct mail says and they won’t know when you are sending it.
  2. Generate Traffic:
    Whether you want to increase traffic online, for an event or to your location, direct mail is a great way to drive people there.
  3. Customer Acquisition or Referrals:
    With the ability to purchase very targeted lists, you can reach prospects to increase your customer base as well as provide a way for your message to be passed on to others.
  4. Generate Sales Leads:
    Send direct mail to prospects in order to get responses from qualified and interested leads.
  5. Building Brand Awareness:
    Since direct mail is a very trusted channel, you can really build your brand. The better recipients know your brand the more they buy from you.
  6. Customer Loyalty:
    You can reach out to your customers to give them special offers and coupons.
  7. Announcements:
    Direct mail is a great way to get information out to people quickly and formally.
  8. Cross-sell or Up-sell:
    Use your direct mail to not only drive response to that offer but also mention other things you offer that they may be interested in.
  9. Combining Mailings With Other Companies:
    When you do a cooperative mailing with another company you not only save money but you add value for your recipients with better offers or coupons.
  10. Augmenting Other Media Efforts:
    Direct mail is a great way to drive engagement with other channels such as email, web, social media, mobile, QR codes and so much more…

Direct mail is more effective than ever, with fewer distractions in the mail box and more focus online. Don’t let the direct mail opportunity pass you by. When used as part of a multimedia campaign, direct mail can significantly enhance response. Make sure that you work together with your mail service provider to create great campaigns that are designed effectively for postage savings. Get creative and have fun!

Direct Mail Marketing Drives Response

Marketers everywhere are faced every day with many marketing channel choices. It’s hard to know which ones will work best. When choosing your channels don’t ignore direct mail. You may think its old school, so why use it, but direct mail can add to your ROI.

Marketers everywhere are faced every day with many marketing channel choices. It’s hard to know which ones will work best. When choosing your channels don’t ignore direct mail. You may think, “Its old school, so why use it?,” but direct mail can add to your ROI. You can use direct mail to drive online engagement. Add QR codes, URL’s, and augmented reality to link your marketing channels together. Let’s take a look at the direct mail channel.

Why choose direct mail as one of your marketing channels:

  1. Recipients: They view direct mail as less intrusive than other forms of marketing and in return, are more receptive to the message. Even millennials enjoy getting mail. As long as you are sending them direct mail that is correctly targeted they are open to it.
  2. Competition: There is less competition in the mail boxes these days so you can stand out. People are inundated with messages all day long from email and so much more. You can build brand recognition with direct mail as well as get noticed.
  3. Tangible: With a direct mail piece you can grab the senses in so many more ways that with online channels. People can touch, save for later or even pass the information provided in a direct mail piece to their friends. Use the senses to your advantage by adding texture and scents to your direct mail.
  4. Target: Unlike all other channels, you can target your audience very specifically with direct mail. There are so many selects to choose from it would be hard to list them all. Make a list of all the specific things you are looking for in your prospects and in many cases you can match them with a direct mail list.
  5. Personalized: Direct mail is more refined now. The personalization available creates a much more appealing direct offer. You can use images as well as text to create each piece targeted to each person.

As with any marketing channel, knowing who your audience is, is the key. You cannot create a targeted direct mail campaign if you do not have a good grasp on who you are sending to. Your messaging, your list and your creative are all effected by who you are trying to reach. Don’t forget that you need to be tracking your results. The only way to continue to improve your campaigns is to modify it based on the results from previous campaigns. Don’t be afraid to segment your recipients and try something new to a group of them. It is only by trying new things that we are able to identify possible new lifts in ROI.

Chicken or the Egg? Data or Analytics?

I just saw an online discussion about the role of a chief data officer, whether it should be more about data or analytics. My initial response to that question is “neither.” A chief data officer must represent the business first.

I just saw an online discussion about the role of a chief data officer, whether it should be more about data or analytics. My initial response to that question is “neither.” A chief data officer must represent the business first. And I had the same answer when such a title didn’t even exist and CTOs or other types of executives covered that role in data-rich environments. As soon as an executive with a seemingly technical title starts representing the technology, that business is doomed. (Unless, of course, the business itself is about having fun with the technology. How nice!)

Nonetheless, if I really have to pick just one out of the two choices, I would definitely pick the analytics over data, as that is the key to providing answers to business questions. Data and databases must be supporting that critical role of analytics, not the other way around. Unfortunately, many organizations are completely backward about it, where analysts are confined within the limitations of database structures and affiliated technologies, and the business owners and decision-makers are dictated to by the analysts and analytical tool sets. It should be the business first, then the analytics. And all databases—especially marketing databases—should be optimized for analytical activities.

In my previous columns, I talked about the importance of marketing databases and statistical modeling in the age of Big Data; not all depositories of information are necessarily marketing databases, and statistical modeling is the best way to harness marketing answers out of mounds of accumulated data. That begs for the next question: Is your marketing database model-ready?

When I talk about the benefits of statistical modeling in data-rich environments (refer to my previous column titled “Why Model?”), I often encounter folks who list reasons why they do not employ modeling as part of their normal marketing activities. If I may share a few examples here:

  • Target universe is too small: Depending on the industry, the prospect universe and customer base are sometimes very small in size, so one may decide to engage everyone in the target group. But do you know what to offer to each of your prospects? Customized offers should be based on some serious analytics.
  • Predictive data not available: This may have been true years back, but not in this day and age. Either there is a major failure in data collection, or collected data are too unstructured to yield any meaningful answers. Aren’t we living in the age of Big Data? Surely we should all dig deeper.
  • 1-to-1 marketing channels not in plan: As I repeatedly said in my previous columns, “every” channel is, or soon will be, a 1-to-1 channel. Every audience is secretly screaming, “Entertain us!” And customized customer engagement efforts should be based on modeling, segmentation and profiling.
  • Budget doesn’t allow modeling: If the budget is too tight, a marketer may opt in for some software solution instead of hiring a team of statisticians. Remember that cookie-cutter models out of software packages are still better than someone’s intuitive selection rules (i.e., someone’s “gut” feeling).
  • The whole modeling process is just too painful: Hmm, I hear you. The whole process could be long and difficult. Now, why do you think it is so painful?

Like a good doctor, a consultant should be able to identify root causes based on pain points. So let’s hear some complaints:

  • It is not easy to find “best” customers for targeting
  • Modelers are fixing data all the time
  • Models end up relying on a few popular variables, anyway
  • Analysts are asking for more data all the time
  • It takes too long to develop and implement models
  • There are serious inconsistencies when models are applied to the database
  • Results are disappointing
  • Etc., etc…

I often get called in when model-based marketing efforts yield disappointing results. More often than not, the opening statement in such meetings is that “The model did not work.” Really? What is interesting is that in more than nine times out of 10 cases like that, the models are the only elements that seem to have been done properly. Everything else—from pre-modeling steps, such as data hygiene, conversion, categorization, and summarization; to post-modeling steps, such as score application and validation—often turns out to be the root cause of all the troubles, resulting in pain points listed here.

When I speak at marketing conferences, talking about this subject of this “model-ready” environment, I always ask if there are statisticians and analysts in the audience. Then I ask what percentage of their time goes into non-statistical activities, such as data preparation and remedying data errors. The absolute majority of them say they spend of 80 percent to 90 percent of their time fixing the data, devoting the rest to the model development work. You don’t need me to tell you that something is terribly wrong with this picture. And I am pretty sure that none of those analysts got their PhDs and master’s degrees in statistics to spend most of their waking hours fixing the data. Yeah, I know from experience that, in this data business, the last guy who happens to touch the dataset always ends up being responsible for all errors made to the file thus far, but still. No wonder it is often quoted that one of the key elements of being a successful data scientist is the programming skill.

When you provide datasets filled with unstructured, incomplete and/or missing data, diligent analysts will devote their time to remedying the situation and making the best out of what they have received. I myself often tell newcomers that analytics is really about making the best of what you’ve got. The trouble is that such data preparation work calls for a different set of skills that have nothing to do with statistics or analytics, and most analysts are not that great at programming, nor are they trained for it.

Even if they were able to create a set of sensible variables to play with, here comes the bigger trouble; what they have just fixed is just a “sample” of the database, when the models must be applied to the whole thing later. Modern databases often contain hundreds of millions of records, and no analyst in his or her right mind uses the whole base to develop any models. Even if the sample is as large as a few million records (an overkill, for sure) that would hardly be the entire picture. The real trouble is that no model is useful unless the resultant model scores are available on every record in the database. It is one thing to fix a sample of a few hundred thousand records. Now try to apply that model algorithm to 200 million entries. You see all those interesting variables that analysts created and fixed in the sample universe? All that should be redone in the real database with hundreds of millions of lines.

Sure, it is not impossible to include all the instructions of variable conversion, reformat, edit and summarization in the model-scoring program. But such a practice is the No. 1 cause of errors, inconsistencies and serious delays. Yes, it is not impossible to steer a car with your knees while texting with your hands, but I wouldn’t call that the best practice.

That is why marketing databases must be model-ready, where sampling and scoring become a routine with minimal data transformation. When I design a marketing database, I always put the analysts on top of the user list. Sure, non-statistical types will still be able to run queries and reports out of it, but those activities should be secondary as they are lower-level functions (i.e., simpler and easier) compared to being “model-ready.”

Here is list of prerequisites of being model-ready (which will be explained in detail in my future columns):

  • All tables linked or merged properly and consistently
  • Data summarized to consistent levels such as individuals, households, email entries or products (depending on the ranking priority by the users)
  • All numeric fields standardized, where missing data and zero values are separated
  • All categorical data edited and categorized according to preset business rules
  • Missing data imputed by standardized set of rules
  • All external data variables appended properly

Basically, the whole database should be as pristine as the sample datasets that analysts play with. That way, sampling should take only a few seconds, and applying the resultant model algorithms to the whole base would simply be the computer’s job, not some nerve-wrecking, nail-biting, all-night baby-sitting suspense for every update cycle.

In my co-op database days, we designed and implemented the core database with this model-ready philosophy, where all samples were presented to the analysts on silver platters, with absolutely no need for fixing the data any further. Analysts devoted their time to pondering target definitions and statistical methodologies. This way, each analyst was able to build about eight to 10 “custom” models—not cookie-cutter models—per “day,” and all models were applied to the entire database with more than 200 million individuals at the end of each day (I hear that they are even more efficient these days). Now, for the folks who are accustomed to 30-day model implementation cycle (I’ve seen as long as 6-month cycles), this may sound like a total science fiction. And I am not even saying that all companies need to build and implement that many models every day, as that would hardly be a core business for them, anyway.

In any case, this type of practice has been in use way before the words “Big Data” were even uttered by anyone, and I would say that such discipline is required even more desperately now. Everyone is screaming for immediate answers for their questions, and the questions should be answered in forms of model scores, which are the most effective and concise summations of all available data. This so-called “in-database” modeling and scoring practice starts with “model-ready” database structure. In the upcoming issues, I will share the detailed ways to get there.

So, here is the answer for the chicken-or-the-egg question. It is the business posing the questions first and foremost, then the analytics providing answers to those questions, where databases are optimized to support such analytical activities including predictive modeling. For the chicken example, with the ultimate goal of all living creatures being procreation of their species, I’d say eggs are just a means to that end. Therefore, for a business-minded chicken, yeah, definitely the chicken before the egg. Not that I’ve seen too many logical chickens.

Social Media Is a Waste of Time for B-to-B

There. I’ve said it out loud. Now let the crucifixion begin. But before you write a retaliatory remark, hear me through. While I strongly believe that B-to-B marketing strategies can leverage many different marketing channels, I don’t think social media is at the top of my “things-I-must-do-to-help-drive-my-business-forward” list. Why? Because too many brands still need to get their act together in the basics, before spending precious resources chasing their tails on platforms that will yield very little to the bottom line.

There. I’ve said it out loud. Now let the crucifixion begin. But before you write a retaliatory remark, hear me through.

While I strongly believe that B-to-B marketing strategies can leverage many different marketing channels, I don’t think social media is at the top of my “things-I-must-do-to-help-drive-my-business-forward” list. Why? Because too many brands still need to get their act together in the basics, before spending precious resources chasing their tails on platforms that will yield very little to the bottom line.

So before you write me a nasty post suggesting that I’m old and out of touch with the times, consider these basics about your B-to-B product/service:

  • Website: Yep. This is where first impressions are made, so it better be designed and organized for easy navigation. And, it better be intuitive—allowing visitors to find their way around and get to the information they’re seeking without having to fall down a rat hole or two. Is the information arranged in a logical fashion (no, not the way your company wants it, but how your target audience THINKS)? Can information be downloaded and printed without sucking my printer dry of ink? Are there high-end videos to watch that are informative, engaging and helpful? Relevant case studies to my industry? Quotes/endorsements from users? White papers that truly examine an industry issue without making self-serving claims about your company? On a scale of 1 to 10, what score would you give to your website? If it’s less than an “8,” stop spending time on social media initiatives and get your website in order first.
  • Customer Service: Have you ever called your own toll-free line or emailed your own company as a “mystery shopper?” Who answers and how quickly? How are you treated? Is it easy to get your questions answered without being transferred? What kind of follow up is in place? Many companies separate this step from the rest of their marketing efforts and it often exemplifies everything that is wrong with your organization, which no amount of social media can fix. Remember, it’s easier to sell more to an existing customer then it is to find a sell to a new prospect, so if the after-purchase experience is less than stellar, stop chasing your tail and concentrate on getting your customer service house in order.
  • Industry Presence: No matter what product or service you sell, there are probably one or more industry organizations/conferences/events that attract potential prospects. This is where many targets go seeking information and your brand needs to be part of the discussion. Attending trade shows does NOT necessarily mean plunking down cash to have a booth on the trade show floor and handing out useless promo items, although that can be helpful if done right. What it does mean is that you need to get engaged in the event. Find out how to become a speaker, or participate in a roundtable discussion. Build awareness of your brand and your knowledge about issues facing the industry and the role that your product/service plays to help solve that issue. This is the original world of social media—not an online, digital presence that has no real value unless someone “clicks” but true engagement and dialogue between two individuals where one has a pain and the other one can solve it.
  • Relationship Building: Before LinkedIn and webinars, we all attended conferences, listened to speakers, met over cocktails and exchanged business cards. We followed up, stayed in touch and reconnected when we needed help finding useful products or services. I admit that I love LinkedIn as a tool for organizing my contacts, but the Discussion Groups can be quickly taken off topic or slow to take off in any meaningful way. If you have a solid topic that is of value to your industry, hire a researcher/writer and get an article/whitepaper written. Then share it with potential prospects, post it to one of your industry sites, send it to an editor of your trade publication. Every digital outlet is begging for valuable content and you could place yourself at the top of the knowledge chain through this endeavor. And everyone likes doing business with someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Speaking of LinkedIn, if you’re in sales, you need to have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile posted. And please, use a professional picture of yourself, and not one of you and your dog or the one taken by the camera on top of your computer (which is creepy looking, by the way). When you talk about your current employer, make sure you’re using consistent language about your brand. Look to your marketing or PR department for the 25-word description you know exists. Make sure you create a thorough profile and reach out to past customers / clients for endorsements—they do get read, believe it or not.

If you can honestly say that all five of these marketing tools are optimized and working like well-oiled machines, then by all means spend your time, money and resources on Facebook pages, Pinterest sites and Tweets. If you prove their value, write me—show me the money.