3 Charges for Direct Marketing in 2015

The New Year represents a time to reflect on how to recharge direct marketing approaches and strategies. If 2014 results were disappointing, or worse, a decline from the previous year, here are three charges to examine and consider for 2015. But I should warn you: If you’re a long-time direct marketer like myself, accepting some of these charges might not come easily.

The New Year represents a time to reflect on how to recharge direct marketing approaches and strategies. If 2014 results were disappointing, or worse, a decline from the previous year, here are three charges to examine and consider for 2015. But I should warn you: If you’re a long-time direct marketer like myself, accepting some of these charges might not come easily.

  1. Cultivate Your Platform
    Long-term success is a result of creating a platform of raving fans, prospects and customers. Your platform is your revenue source. You must grow and cultivate it, whether you’re an established organization or a start-up. And you nurture your platform over time by positioning your organization as a trustworthy leader with authority in your market.

    If you haven’t already, reexamine your organization’s persona—how you’re perceived—in the market. You can build your organization’s persona in the marketplace with content marketing tools such as producing videos, writing blogs, and engaging both existing and prospective customers via social media. Even direct mail can include a content writing component with reports, research, and long-form, content-rich letters.

    As direct marketers, we’ve had it ingrained in us for generations that every marketing effort we use must deliver a measurable response. Cultivating and investing in the development of a platform of prospective customers, before making a sale, is counter to the culture of direct marketing. We expect every marketing effort to produce a measurable result.

    A challenge is accepting that content marketing, which normally doesn’t deliver a measurable sales response, does in fact contribute to long-term success. As prospects comb the Internet, you must meet them where they are—whether it’s at their mailbox, filtering through email, reading a magazine, watching TV, or online while checking social media, viewing video, or multi-tasking all of the above.

  2. How Do You Make Them Feel?
    After you meet your customers where they are physically, you must engage them emotionally using a methodical creative process that tracks what is happening in their mind.

    In the first step, you were charged with looking at your organization’s persona. Now, imagine the personas of your prospects and customers. The knowledge of who they are dictates how to stir emotions and calm the mind with your solution’s message. By establishing who you are with your position—your leadership and unique selling proposition—and using storytelling, you can embed new memory grooves. When the time is right, you interpret your offer for the metaphorical “left brain” part of the mind. The tipping point comes when you intensify the desired emotional “right brain” feeling so they give themselves permission to respond.

    As you consider how to create feeling in your selling message, heed this quote from Maya Angelou:

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    Make your customers feel good and connect with them at a level they will always remember.

  3. Strategically Monetize
    With the charge to cultivate your platform and intensify the emotional feeling in your creative processes, never lose sight of the need to strategically monetize. Your efforts to create fans and followers must have an endgame plan that moves them to become paying customers.

    One challenge, for example, is measuring the value of content marketing in the total marketing mix of positioning leadership, establishing authority and building trust. It may mean that you have to look at the total effect of your numbers in a different way. Your budget may have to blend in the cost of marketing efforts you can’t track and average out a cost per order based on all activity. Perhaps you carve out a separate budget for content and other hard-to-track efforts. You might look at those costs as a branding expense or as part of overhead.

    Whatever makes sense in your organization, 2015 may be the time to view some types of marketing activities as contributing to your overall success without specific attribution to a sale. By my own admission, as a classically trained direct marketer this has been a tough concept for me to accept.

If 2014 was a banner year for you, stay the course, but remain vigilant for trends and tools that may prove valuable. But if response was lackluster or declining, consider that the days of profitably casting out a pitch to buy a product that’s unknown, without trust, credibility or authority, have passed for more and more organizations.

Your success includes the charge to build and cultivate a platform. The charge includes communicating a deeper, more cerebral approach that impacts memory and swells the emotional feelings inside your prospect’s and customer’s mind. And the charge for 2015 suggests that to calculate bottom-line profitability, you may have to rethink how you budget and monetize.

5 Tips to Sell Media Multitaskers

How many gadgets do you juggle simultaneously? Assuming you’re like most people, you’re on your laptop/tablet, smartphone and other media devices checking email, texts and social media at the same time. And so are your prospects. Their mind (and your mind) is multitasking a lot. But here’s scary news: You could be shrinking important structures in your brain. So are your prospective customers. And this is going to impact…

How many gadgets do you juggle simultaneously? Assuming you’re like most people, you’re on your laptop/tablet, smartphone and other media devices checking email, texts and social media at the same time. And so are your prospects. Their mind (and your mind) is multitasking a lot. But here’s scary news: You could be shrinking important structures in your brain. So are your prospective customers. And this is going to impact your selling success whether you like it or not.

Intuition tells us that it’s tough to media multitask, that is, attempt to watch TV and be on your computer and/or your smartphone checking email, texts and social media all at the same time. If you’ve done it, you know you’re not completely present with any one of these. Rather, your focus diverts from one media to the other with the end result of losing out on the whole story of any one thing.

New research by two neuroscientists has found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control. With these new findings, there is increasing concern about how simultaneous multiple media consumption is altering our cognition, social-emotional well-being, and brain structure.

Media multitasking is also associated with emotional problems, like anxiety and depression, as well as cognitive problems, like poor attention. Gray matter is also central to muscle control, sensory input, decision making and self-control.

And there’s more: we’re losing gray matter which affects “executive function” in the brain. “Executive functions” include judgment, analysis, organizing, problem solving, planning and creativity. With those “executive functions,” the mind can more deeply groove new memories into long-term knowledge.

So while there is reason for you, on an individual level, to be concerned about this development, as a direct marketer, you have additional challenges selling your prospective customers.

Since there is little you can do to change the course of how your prospects will media multitask, you have to take steps to adjust your marketing approach. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Command Undivided Attention.
    If you want your prospective customer’s undivided attention, one way to get it is through activating fear in the brain’s amygdala—the emotional hot button-that reacts in flight or fight mode.
  2. Encourage Thinking.
    Once you have undivided attention, take quick advantage of it by encouraging your prospect to pause and think.
  3. Be the Problem Solver.
    Your prospect wants easy and quick solutions, especially in this media multitasking world. Become their virtual problem solver.
  4. Organize Yourself First So You Can Organize Them.
    When attention is split apart, you must do the heavy lifting of organizing your message and quickly delivering it with clarity. Confusion kills interest.
  5. Relieve Anxiety.
    Since loss of gray matter creates anxiety, be the salvation in your prospect’s life to relieve it. Be credible. Solve problems. Be your prospect’s hero.

Let’s face it: there is nothing you can do to prevent your prospective customers from media multitasking. And you can’t save them from the risk of losing all-important brain gray matter. But you can be smarter and better positioned to sell with an awareness of how to present your messaging in a complex multimedia and multitasking world.

Copywriting: Stir Emotion, Calm the Mind

Stimulate. Calm. In the direct marketing world, these are two related, but contrasting messaging and copywriting concepts that every marketer and copywriter should master. Why? Because a sure-fire way to get attention from prospective customers is by stimulating emotion. But you don’t want to stimulate emotion and drop the ball there

Stimulate. Calm.

In the direct marketing world, these are two related, but contrasting messaging and copywriting concepts that every marketer and copywriter should master. Why? Because a sure-fire way to get attention from prospective customers is by stimulating emotion. But you don’t want to stimulate emotion and drop the ball there. You must then immediately calm the mind so your prospect’s fears are relieved, allowing them to become engaged with your message, so they will pause long enough for you to introduce them to your solution.

In my most recent column, “Leveraging Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in Copywriting,” I described how fear paralyzes thinking because it’s an instinctive response from the amygdala, our lizard brain.

But because fear is so overwhelming as a natural response, it shuts off the thinking part of the brain. So while, as a copywriter, you want to stimulate emotion by tapping into fear, uncertainty and doubt, you need to quickly calm the mind so decision-making is unblocked. And you can do that by dangling a carrot in front of your audience to moderate their mood.

Search the Web for “how do you calm the mind” and you’ll get thousands of websites with meditation advice. While you don’t want to steer prospects to meditate—at least in the stereotypical way you think of meditation—you do want your prospect to be calmed enough to focus on your message.

To more fully grasp the connection between stimulating emotion and the need to calm the mind, it may be helpful to take a deeper dive into how our brains respond to stimuli. Your brain is filled with neurotransmitters, and knowing the signals they transmit will help you better understand how the brain functions. For marketers, it’s important that you know how to use these signals to strengthen your messaging.

Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brains and bodies. They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.” The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest. They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance.

There are two kinds of neurotransmitters: inhibitory and excitatory. Excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate the brain. Inhibitory neurotransmitters calm the brain and help create balance.

So as a direct marketer, after stimulating emotion you must quickly balance the mood. When you over-stimulate, the inhibitory neurotransmitters can be depleted and instead of focusing on your solution, you leave your prospect focusing on their fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Those inhibitory neurotransmitters—those brain chemicals—include:

  • Serotonin, which is necessary for a stable mood and to balance any excessive excitatory (stimulating) neurotransmitter firing in the brain.
  • Gaba helps to calm and relax us, by balancing stimulation over-firing.
  • Dopamine is a special neurotransmitter because it is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory. It’s very complex. When it spikes, it can motivate and give a person pleasure. When elevated or low, it can cause focus issues such as not remembering what a paragraph said when we just finished reading it (obviously, not something marketers want to happen when reading our copy).

With a cocktail of brain chemicals swirling around in your prospect’s mind, here are a few ways you can calm your prospect’s mind after stimulating their emotion:

  1. Announce a new discovery
  2. Introduce a solution
  3. Assure with a promise
  4. Promise a reward
  5. Brighten the mood of the message to evoke pleasant memory
  6. Introduce new learning

Stimulate. Calm. With these two initial steps, you’ve grabbed attention and have moderated mood so your prospect desires to hear and read more about you.

5 Tips to Identify Prospects in a Niche Market

Sources of prospective customers have evolved dramatically in the past decade. Today we offer ideas for direct marketers who are on a tight budget and searching for prospects in niche markets where they don’t require thousands of leads. They just need a few dozen or a few hundred qualified leads. The good news is that B-to-B marketers, B-to-C and non-profits now have easily accessible options, many of them

Sources of prospective customers have evolved dramatically in the past decade. Today we offer ideas for direct marketers who are on a tight budget and searching for prospects in niche markets where they don’t require thousands of leads. They just need a few dozen or a few hundred qualified leads. The good news is that B-to-B marketers, B-to-C and non-profits now have easily accessible options, many of them online, to identify a small number of highly qualified prospects.

Last week I spoke with two organizations that have the same dilemma finding qualified leads. One of those is a digital learning advocacy organization whose vision is large, involving elected officials at state-levels and requiring support from corporate sponsors in a niche field. Among the dozens of initiatives for this organization, a vital one is raising money.

Fortunately, the organization, the Digital Learning Alliance (DLA), already has the support of CEOs from the largest of multi-million dollar corporations who are the leaders in this niche. But CEOs and senior management from the next tier of digital learning organizations need to be reached. DLA knows some of the companies who are prime candidates for sponsorship, but not always the people inside. Before cold-call phone calls are made, DLA wants to identify these prospects and introduce them to their message.

As direct marketers, we know there are lists available to rent to reach these companies. But DLA is an organization who doesn’t want the volume of names that often come with a minimum order. Nor do they want to go to the expense of mailing or emailing an unproven list. They just want a few hundred qualified leads.

Since many organizations share this same dilemma, today we share a solution to reinvent how you find leads. It’s in plain sight, but you may have overlooked how you can use it. With a reported 225 million users who have opted-in to connect with others, LinkedIn is a tool that can be used to reach out for prospective contacts to opt-in to messages. If you choose this course, here are five recommendations for you:

  1. Create Your Company Page: Do this first if you haven’t already!
  2. Friend-get-a-Friend: For DLA, they ask the leaders of well-known companies already supporting them to reach out on their behalf to their LinkedIn contacts. With this approach, there is built-in credibility with the initial contact.
  3. Search for Prospects: Using Advanced Search, you can filter results and invite people to connect from companies you know should be on your prospect list.
  4. Start a Group. For those who opt-in to the Group, it’s a way to make sure the news feed has updated information about what’s happening to fulfill the organization’s vision and mission. You can post discussions and questions to encourage engagement.
  5. Join Other Groups: If there is a group whose members include people in your niche, join it. Then pose questions, offer answers and demonstrate why you should be followed.

While the LinkedIn basic service gets you started, the upgrades may be worth the investment to reach deeper into possible connections and other features.

Of course the downside to this approach is that searching for people on LinkedIn can be time and labor intensive. But if you only need a few qualified prospects, don’t have money to rent a list or resources to pay for the waste of either printed direct mail or unopened email, and you want to connect with someone inside an organization where you can get a referral, what better place than LinkedIn?

Plus, if you have a PowerPoint presentation you can share, you can get it to your prospects seamlessly with Slideshare (owned by LinkedIn). Slideshare is a tool used by many executives seeking out information in PowerPoint presentations and videos.

We’ll keep you posted in a future blog about how this approach is working for DLA. In the meantime, if you have additional experience and recommendations about where to find leads for niche markets, please share them in the comments section below.

Video Advertising and Remarketing for Direct Marketers

If you’re a direct marketer who uses video to promote your product or service, you can generate additional exposure to prospective customers using YouTube’s TrueView advertising program. With TrueView, you also have an interesting bonus when you use their video remarketing tools. Remarketing tracking, also known as remessaging or retargeting, enables you to build a prospect list and bring viewers back to your

If you’re a direct marketer who uses video to promote your product or service, you can generate additional exposure to prospective customers using YouTube’s TrueView advertising program. With TrueView, you also have an interesting bonus when you use their video remarketing tools. Remarketing tracking, also known as remessaging or retargeting, enables you to build a prospect list and bring viewers back to your video marketing message.

With remarketing, you have the opportunity to show text or display ads to promote your video, based on their past interactions with your videos.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it)

YouTube’s advertising program features three video ad formats:

1. In-Stream Video ads.

2. In-Search Video ads.

3. In-display video ads.

We explain each of these in today’s video.

When you run a video ad campaign on YouTube, you also have the opportunity to create a video remarketing campaign. They were a warm prospect once, so now you may be able to re-engage them with your ad. Remarketing is a powerful way to stay engaged with your target audience.

Learn more about this opportunity for direct marketers to promote videos to more prospective customers in today’s video presentation.

Five Ways to “Get Real” With B-to-B Social Media

Today, 89 percent of B-to-B marketers in the U.S. are using social media, says a study conducted by iTracks and the Business Marketing Association (BMA). In fact, B-to-B use of social media may have even eclipsed that of consumer marketers, according to another report from White Horse Productions. But the B-to-B marketers I talk to still sound confused. “What should I be doing,” they ask. “What’s really worth my time?”

Today, 89 percent of B-to-B marketers in the U.S. are using social media, says a study conducted by iTracks and the Business Marketing Association (BMA). In fact, B-to-B use of social media may have even eclipsed that of consumer marketers, according to another report from White Horse Productions. But the B-to-B marketers I talk to still sound confused. “What should I be doing,” they ask. “What’s really worth my time?”

What you want to do is get out of the hype, get real, and get results. Here’s a simple plan of attack.

First, get busy on LinkedIn. This is the no-brainer of B-to-B social media marketing. You, your company, and all your employees need to take maximum advantage of the exposure. Your LinkedIn to-do list looks like this:

  • Fill out your profile 100 percent. LinkedIn will prompt you on how to make sure every element is captured. Encourage your employees to set up their profiles, including their skills lists. Prospective customers will check out you and your staff as part of their due diligence before doing business with you—so be prepared.
  • Set up a company page, with your logo image, plus a crisp, benefit-laden company description. Invite links from your customers, suppliers and friends. Along with a Google search, this is how you will be found in the marketplace.
  • Join groups, or set up fresh groups, in your field of expertise.
  • Post regular status updates in the micro-blog area LinkedIn provides.

Then, examine your marketing objectives. Each social medium has its own strengths and weaknesses. What you want to do is get the most bang, by applying them to their best use.

Here’s a typical array of business marketing objectives a company may be pursuing. Let’s look at how social media can be applied to support what you’re trying to do.

Understand your market opportunity. In other words, market research. What customers and prospect are talking about on social media gives companies valuable insight into customer needs, issues and trends. You can set up a listening post using tools like Radian6, or simply set up an RSS feed from sources like blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Focus, Quora, YouTube and Wikipedia, so you can keep current with what’s being said in your field.

Stand out in the crowd. Social media can help you differentiate your company from your competition. If you want to be seen as a thought leader in your industry, or a trusted advisor to businesses trying to solve problems, then it’s all about content. You’ll be publishing white papers, research reports and case studies, and tweeting about them. Or publish an informative blog and promote it via Twitter and LinkedIn micro posts.

Blogging can be a powerful way to establish thought leadership, but it does represent a risk. Only start a blog if you have valuable content to present, and if you can commit to keeping it up. Editorially, the tone should be informative, not sales-y. If you don’t have good writers in house, there are plenty of freelancers available to help. Another tip: If you hesitate to take on a blog on your own, you might provide guest posts to influential blogs managed by someone else. (As you see, this is the route I took for myself—it’s great!)

Find new customers. There’s a lot of hue and cry out there about whether social media can help you find prospective customers. Of course it can. The trick in B-to-B is to turn your social media messaging into a lead generator, with the addition of three essential elements:

  • A compelling offer, such as an intriguing research report or white paper.
  • A clear call to action, like “Download now.”
  • A dedicated landing page that captures the respondent’s contact information.

We can debate the merits of gating your content for lead generation, versus making it available to all, for thought leadership. A worthy discussion. But if your objective is to launch a business relationship with a prospective buyer, than the lead generation route is the way to go. So add an offer and call to action to your blog posts and tweets.

Expand current customer value. Social media can serve as another useful “touch” in your ongoing effort to penetrate accounts and deepen your relationship with current customers. Encourage customers to follow you on Twitter, subscribe to your blog, or connect with you on LinkedIn. A smart salesperson will link to every possible contact at a current account, and post company and product news in the LinkedIn microblog a couple times a week.

Now, what about Facebook? With 845 million users worldwide, it can’t be ignored. Ask yourself whether your customers are there, and whether they want to interact with you there. According to Globalspec, 66 percent of industrial workers have Facebook accounts, but 67 percent of them say they cannot access Facebook from their office computers. Given its vast reach, at the very least set up a company page on Facebook—for employee recruitment, if nothing else.

And don’t forget YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine. Set up a channel to give exposure to your product demos, training videos and corporate videos.

So, with that, you have a reasonable attack plan for cutting through the hype and putting social media to work for you in a manageable way. Now, what have I forgotten? Do you have any good social media applications you can share with the rest of us business marketers?

A version of this post appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

12 Reasons to Fuse Direct Marketing and Video Marketing Now

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse

Tried and true direct marketing formulas + online video = your next powerful marketing opportunity. Blending direct marketing sales approaches with online video, where 40 billion videos are watched monthly, can showcase your products and services, build trust, close deals, and raise money. Here are reasons to fuse together the power of direct marketing with online video. Today we begin with the first 6 reasons.

1. Now is the early stage for the blending of DM disciplines and online video. While DM and video have been around for years, many marketers have yet to blend the methodologies together. The Deep Dive: Early adopters have been using video with streaming words and voice-over, interviews and product demonstrations. But the next stage of successful video uses proven direct marketing copywriting techniques and call-to-action in video script writing, and uses DM design techniques that will move production values to a higher level.

2. Online video use and views are exploding.

  • In just one recent month, 181 million U.S. Internet users watched 43.5 billion videos averaging over 22 hours per viewer.
  • Over 84% of internet users watched an online video.
  • Americans watched over 5.6 billion online video ads. In fact, online video ads are 38% more memorable than TV ads.

The Deep Dive: According to comScore.com, a global source of digital market intelligence, online video viewing was up 43% from Dec. 2010 to Dec. 2011 This video is a summary of comScore’s findings about the explosive increases in online video viewing during the past year. (By the way, we’ll show you, in an upcoming post, how you can drastically improve upon their really distracting audio quality for about $30.)

If you’re not incorporating video in your marketing strategy, you’re out-of-date.

3. Consumers’ attention span is shorter than ever, and it’s not likely to increase. People will give you a few seconds to watch a video. Engage them quickly, and they’ll stick with you long enough to get your message across and prompt enough curiosity to check you out more. The Deep Dive: Does this strategy sound a lot like using a compelling teaser on an outer envelope, or a strong subject line in an email? Of course it does! So, set up your video strategy properly by getting the viewer to opt-in to watch more of your future videos.

4. Websites with video are perceived as having higher importance. When you add videos, you attract more in-linking domains than with plain text. The Deep Dive: Video inclusion on your social media or blog posts has been shown to triple inbound linking. The following chart is from a well-respected seomoz.org blog post that goes more deeply into this topic. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/what-makes-a-link-worthy-post-part-1.

5. An inbound marketing strategy may be a challenge for a traditional direct marketer to accept, but video has the power to draw prospective customers to you. The Deep Dive: Video on blogs and posted YouTube can be shared on social media and will draw traffic to you. This is a far more powerful-and less costly-marketing strategy than pushing your unsolicited message using outbound marketing strategies.

6. Online video analytics are amazing. Post your video on YouTube and over time you’ll see not only how many times your video was viewed, but second-by-second you’ll see retention levels and discover at what point you lost your viewer. You’ll see demographic information. You’ll be smarter so much faster that your head will spin. The Deep Dive: If you’re a traditional direct marketer, you surely love numbers. With video, you get a lot of data to crunch that will make you smarter and your selling more effective.

In our next post, we’ll reveal six more reasons why you should fuse direct marketing and video marketing now. In the meantime, comment below and tell us your video marketing successes or what you’d like to read in future blog posts.