Slow Down to Go Faster, Marketers

Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster. Those wise words of wisdom don’t just apply to business strategy, they are highly applicable to marketing.

Sometimes you have to slow down to go faster.

Those wise words of wisdom don’t just apply to business strategy, they are highly applicable to marketing.

We live in an age of extreme digital addiction, consumers glued to digital devices every waking hour. As a result, marketers rush to buy up all of the digital channels they can to be present and steal mindshare from all of the other brands tweeting, posting, sharing and hoping to get attention, engagement and sales. Yet, the simple truth is that most brands can’t really tell if its working, if they are getting sales and they don’t really know if consumers are really focused on their messages, even when data analytics say they were.

The secret is quite clear: to create meaningful engagement with customers in ways that build brands for the moment, as fleeting as it is today, and brands for the long-term despite technological changes, brands must slow down in order to go faster. Faster toward securing meaningful, purposeful engagement that results in what matters most to brands, now, in the past and in the future – lifetime value.

As old-fashioned as it may seem, print is one of the best ways to do this. And one of the oldest forms of print at its best is the catalog. In 1845, Tiffany and Company put out the first mail order catalog in North America, which they called the “Blue Book.” Shortly after the most commonly known catalogs like Sears and JCPenney took hold and the American catalog industry took off. Yet with online stores taking off and minimizing the cost to entry the retail world, print started to die off. Fewer ads in magazines, fewer catalogs and eventually, for companies that dropped their catalogs, that  meant fewer sales. A lot fewer.

Here’s just one example:

In 2000, Lands’ End cut back on sending catalogs to consumers. The result was a mere drop in sales of $100 million.  When the company conducted a survey among its customers to see what happened, they discovered that 76 percent of their online customers reviewed their printed catalog before going online. (Research by Kurt Salmon)

Xerox has helped add even more life to catalogs by using its variable data printing machines to create personalized catalogs.  Like personalized direct mail which enables customers to see their names and transaction history in a letter written “just for them,” customers can now see their names and other personalized information references in a multipage catalog.

According to Shelley Sweeney, a VP/General Manager at Xerox, brands are seeing big increases in results.

Catalogs are re-surging, not just because they can be personalized, but because they appeal to some key psychological drivers that digital just can’t. We humans are tactile people. We seem to trust more, believe more, like more and act more when we can reach out and touch something or someone. When we hold a magazine in our hands, carry it in our bags, and feel it with our finger tips, we feel connected. And when those catalogs present stories about the products, about the people who use the products, about the lifestyle qualities, values and causes associated with those brands and products, we feel connected with brands with a veracity that is hard to get from the fleeting digital screen with all of its moving parts, pop up distractions and links to click.

Patagonia’s catalog is a great example. This epic catalog features products alongside stories from its ambassadors and customers, sharing their personal stories in ways that inspire passion and evoke bonds with the brand telling the story. They use world-class photography to showcase the lifestyle of those who love their brand. And people love the art, story and products in the catalogs to the point that it not only creates product sales, but another life of its own. You can now purchase a book called “Unexpected,” which features some of the best catalog photographs from over the years.

The Patagonia catalog is not a quick read. It’s not a fast project and it’s not about fast and furious sales. It’s about slowing down for a moment, to read, to touch, to ponder the life you want to live and can live with brands that provide you tips, ideas, inspiration, and connection with themselves and with others just like you.

Its just like Dmitri Siegel, executive creative director and vice president of e-commerce for Patagonia, says, according to a recent New York Times article.

“Catalogs are a way we’re speaking to our closest friends and people who know the brand really well.”

Catalogs, now commonly called “magalogs,” are critical tools that build connections like few other channels can. Some things just never go out of style and this form of communication is not heading that way fast. In fact, while catalogs might seem to some like taking a step backward, they are truly becoming one of the fastest steps forward. And all by slowing down to regroup on what we humans like most: tangible, credible communications about things that matter to me.

Direct Mail Marketing Predictions for 2016

Direct mail is not dead, far from it. With the growth in technology and personalization, direct mail has become an even more powerful player for your ROI. But 2016 will bring tightened direct mail budgets, since marketers need to spread their money farther and farther. Because of that, serious considerations need to be made

Crystal ball and the horizonDirect mail is not dead, far from it. With the growth in technology and personalization, direct mail has become an even more powerful player for your ROI. But 2016 will bring tightened direct mail budgets, since marketers need to spread their money farther and farther. Because of that, serious considerations need to be made with direct mail.

The first, of course, is how to improve your ROI. So far the only postage increases announced have been for packages, but we will need to be on the lookout for possible changes in late spring 2016. If postage rates remain the same, that can help to increase your ROI. The post office will also be finishing consolidation which may increase delivery times like we saw last spring. So timing will need to be considered as well.

Here are my five predictions for 2016, so can you continue to grow your direct mail marketing ROI.

  1. Personalized: We will see an increase in customers expecting direct mail that is relevant to them. Offers based on what they want and need are going to be the key to your success. The mail boxes are no longer full of junk, but useful offers they can take advantage of.
  2. Integration: When integrating other channels with direct mail, you create more engaging content and leave a better impression on customers and prospects. The longer you can keep their attention, the greater chance you have to capture the sale. There are many cost effective options you can use to integrate from mobile and email to online content.
  3. Multilayered: 2016 will bring more multilayered direct mail campaigns. The staggering of different pieces going at selected intervals continually. Since, as we know, direct mail is more effective the more often someone gets your offer, this will help increase your ROI.
  4. Enhance your database: Constantly adding information into your database is very important. The more you know about each customer the better able to you are to target them. If you are just starting out and need a little help, you can profile your customer database to find out more information about them. Ask your mail service provider how.
  5. Multiple response devices: The more options you have for people to respond to your offer, the better response you are going to get. So for 2016, add in a new response method. That can be a wide range from QR Codes to texting a response code. Find what you think your customers/prospects are most interested in and try it out.

Consumers are smarter and expect more from companies now. They feel powerful and in the driver’s seat of their experiences with you. In order to compete, you will need to meet or exceed those expectations. Your brand needs to be approachable and knowledgeable about each person. The more information you have in your database about each person the better you can target your messages and offers.

Direct mail can be a very creative way to reach people who are interested in your product or service. Think of all the fun ways you can go beyond imagery to engage people. Having fun with your creativity can be a real boost to your ROI. Make sure you consult with your mail service provider about the design of your piece to make sure that you are not creating a postal problem, which will cost you a lot of money. Let’s make 2016 the best year ever for direct mail marketing!

 

5 Interesting Things I Learned This Week

2. Been flogged online? The best way to deal with negative reviews that come along with being more visible in the blogosphere may come from an unlikely source: a section on Yelp’s Business Owner’s Guide titled “Responding to Reviews.”

My blog post this week is a culmination of a few interesting tidbits I learned this week:

1. More retailers are experimenting with social media, despite the fact that social media tactics are still experimental at best and returns are hazy. In fact, according to Fiona Swerdlow, head of research at Shop.org — who presented the opening keynote at Retail Online Integration’s Retail Marketing Virtual Conference & Expo (RMV) — 80 percent of respondents to a recent survey from Shop.org are pursuing the channel because they believe it’s a great time to experiment and learn more.

2. Been flogged online?
The best way to deal with negative reviews that come along with being more visible in the blogosphere may come from an unlikely source: a section on Yelp’s Business Owner’s Guide titled “Responding to Reviews.”

This great tip came via Eric Anderson, vice presdient of emerging media at White Horse Interactive during his RMV presentation titled “Live Retail Website Lab.”

When crafting your message to customers, Yelp advises keeping the following three things in mind:

  1. Your reviewers are your paying customers.
  2. Your reviewers are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities.
  3. Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise, they wouldn’t be writing reviews).

3. The Interactive Advertising Bureau announced guidelines designed to standardize the information that ad networks and exchanges provide to advertisers and agencies. Here are the six new guidelines:

  • Transparency should exist for inventory sources, publisher relationships, content types and ad placement details.
  • Advertisers should be presented with content categories that are universally defined in the industry.
  • Categories of illegal content should be defined or labeled. For example, content that infringes a copyright should be marked as prohibited for sale.
  • Under the industry organization’s provisions, ad networks should rate content for audience segments.
  • Data disclosure terms should be outlined for offsite behavioral targeting and third-party data.
  • Companies should provide for IAB training of appointed compliance officers in each certified network or exchange.

4. Email’s influence over multichannel purchasing is powerful, according to a study from e-Dialog. The majority of consumers (58 percent) surveyed said they’ve been driven to make a purchase in a store or over the phone by a marketing email. And while websites are the preferred place for consumers to opt in, they’re also very willing to subscribe to email messages offline — e.g., when placing a catalog order (46 percent), at the point of sale (29 percent) or via SMS text message (13 percent).

5. More than 50 percent of consumers have come to expect personalized merchandising, starting with a personalized homepage. Furthermore, 77 percent of shoppers will make an additional purchase when presented with personalized recommendations.

These findings came via a report from MyBuys, a provider of personalized recommendations for multichannel retailers, titled “Consumer Insights into Multi-Channel Interactions: Practical Tools for Profitable Selling.” For the report, MyBuys commissioned the e-tailing group to survey 1,000 consumers to gain insights into how shoppers interacted with personalized merchandising and where they expected to see personalized recommendations.

Did you learn anything interesting this week that you’d like to share? Post it here.