Fall in Love With Direct Mail All Over Again

I will admit to doing a lot of reading. What can I say, I love it. I especially like to read something and find out that my own views have been verified. So, when I read the Washington Post article “Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right.” I was so excited! Here is someone else saying the same things about print that I say every day. Basically in summary, people prefer to read in print rather than digital.

I will admit to doing a lot of reading. What can I say, I love it. I especially like to read something and find out that my own views have been verified. So, when I read the Washington Post article “Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right” I was so excited! Here is someone else saying the same things about print that I say every day. Basically in summary, people prefer to read in print rather than digital.

There are many reasons for this but the top ones are:

  • Easier to read: The eyes find the printed pages less straining to read.
  • Easier to comprehend: There are less distractions when reading print so it is easier to understand.
  • Easier to recall: Readers skim less when reading print versions so they remember more when finished.
  • Feel: Touch is a very important sense. The feeling of different types of paper stock and textures adds pleasure to reading print. You can’t feel digital.
  • Smell: Paper, ink, coatings and binding all add to the scent of a printed piece. You can even add a scent to enhance the printed piece. You can’t smell digital.

Even millennials prefer print. The best part about all of this talk about the benefits of print is that direct mail can take advantage of every single one of the reasons people love print. Direct mail can get pushed aside by marketers looking for the newest channels, but statistics still show direct mail as a very strong marketing channel.

Create direct mail that provides an experience:

  • Reading: Engage the reader with well written copy. Use bold and bulleted text to draw the eyes to important information.
  • Comprehension: Use clear and concise wording, a strong call to action and “what’s in it for me” language.
  • Recall: The most important items to be remembered should stand out. You can use italic, bold and underlining to emphasize what you need the reader to remember.
  • Feel: You can go beyond just the texture of the paper by adding different coatings. From soft velvet to rough stone, there are many to choose from. Get creative.
  • Smell: Depending on what you are offering, smell may or may not be a good fit. Try to think of creative ways to use smell to make your unique direct mail stand out.

Take advantage of the pull of direct mail, with less skimming your message resonates more. You have the opportunity to get someone to act on your call to action right away.

There is no reason why you can’t use direct mail to drive digital interaction too. QR Codes, Augmented reality and NFC all enhance the direct mail experience. The power of direct mail is waiting to drive your marketing ROI to new heights. From catalogs to flyers to samples, direct mail can handle it all and provide an excellent experience for recipients.

Making LinkedIn Sales Navigator Work for You

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to get buyers asking about your product/service.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to get buyers asking about your product/service.

Having a reliable way to provoke response from buyers is the piece most sales reps and recruiting professionals are overlooking. Today, I’ll give you that piece and three templates to take action on—start improving your ROI with Sales Navigator.

“What Does Navigator (Alone) Give Me?”
Sales Navigator provides more access to the LinkedIn database.

Navigator also:

  • makes automated lead suggestions for you (however, my clients rarely get quality leads this way);
  • allows 700 search results (vs. 100) when querying the database;
  • lets you access prospects you don’t know—via InMail messages.

InMail Rules Totally Changed in 2015
Since Jan. 1, 2015 LinkedIn gives “credits” (you buy) back—but only for InMails that earn a response in 90 days.

This is NEW!

Remember the old system? If you did not receive a response within a week, it was credited back to you. You were rewarded for your success AND for failures. Whoops! This encouraged way too much spam.

Today you receive a credit (get your money back) for each InMail receiving a response within 90 days.

What the New InMail Rules Mean to You
Your money is wasted when your potential buyer:

  • hits the “Not interested” button this COUNTS as a response!
  • replies negatively or
  • ignores your message.

Hence, InMail is not guaranteed to be effective. Plus, if it’s not you’re punished by LinkedIn.

InMail also is monitored and rated by LinkedIn—and you must maintain an InMail reputation score in order to send messages. If enough prospects mark you as spam, you’re out of the game.

That’s another reason why you need a reliable communications process that sparks customers’ curiosity in InMails you’re sending.

Do This Right Now
When writing InMails, be sure to state a clear reason the other side will benefit from hitting reply. Make inviting you to speak an attractive idea. Sound crazy? It’s not. Give it a try. It works.

Here are simple guidelines to follow:

  • Be brief, blunt and basic: Write four to five sentences MAX.
  • After drafting, reduce the number of “I’s” and “my’s” in your message.
  • State a clear reason you want a reply in your InMail.
  • Conclude with the customer’s name again. (hyper-personalize)

This will help you put an insane amount of focus on the prospect.

A Few (Proven) Templates for You
For example:

Subject line: Let’s decide?

Hi, [prospect first name].

Are you looking for a better way to ________ [insert goal]? If so may propose a short email exchange—to decide if a deeper conversation is warranted? I __________________[insert description of you] who helps businesses like _______ [insert target business name]. If not, thanks for your time in considering. Please let me know your decision, [prospect first name]?

Sincerely,
[your name]

Why does this template work? For a handful of reasons. If you’re curious ask me in comments and I’ll explain.

When you write, make taking the next step:

  • rewarding to the prospect;
  • predictable and
  • crystal clear to them.

Want to learn this system now? Here are two more free templates to get you started.

Will You Waste Time and Money on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a good investment, but you are only buying access. Knowing what you do now … having invested time in reading this … what will you do?

Will you rely on a systematic approach this year? Or will you struggle and risk failing?

Will you make quick work of prospecting—or will this feel like slave labor? It’s in your hands. Let me know if I can help.

LinkedIn Premium Is Worth It IF …

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it for sales pros? Yes, but only if you have an effective, repeatable way to get conversations going once connected. Getting buyers talking about their pains and your solution is tough. So here is a three-step process to make sure LinkedIn’s Premium or Sales Navigator is worth the cost.

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it for sales pros? Yes, but only if you have an effective, repeatable way to get conversations going once connected. Getting buyers talking about their pains and your solution is tough. So here is a three-step process to make sure LinkedIn’s Premium or Sales Navigator is worth the cost.

Make sure you/your sellers systematically:

  1. Spark prospects’ curiosity;
  2. provoke buyers to act (become a lead);
  3. connect that curiosity to what you sell.

Why Most LinkedIn Premium Investments Don’t Pay Off
We forget to give the other side a distinct, compelling reason to connect beyond, “my network.” Fact is, 95 percent of sellers asking for connections are promising access to their network.

But nobody cares about your network unless you give them a reason to.

Increase your connections and conversations by stating a specific reason the other side will benefit. What is the:

  • Pain you’ll remedy?
  • Hurdle you’ll help them clear?
  • Risk you’ll help them avoid?
  • Short-cut to more success you’ll give the prospect?

How to Spark a Sales-Focused Conversation
Want to start discussion with a potential buyer? State a reason in your connection request or shortly afterward. But remember, it must be mutually beneficial, worthwhile and crystal clear.

What you “put into” LinkedIn Premium, InMail or the Sales Navigator makes the difference.

Also, state the reason and set expectation for the other side. Promise access to a specific benefit. Tell the buyer how and when they’ll benefit. Make your promise something worthwhile.

Distinct. Unusually useful. Credible. Then, follow through on your promise.

How to Connect: An Example Template
Here’s how you can get started right away with this concept, even if you don’t know your prospects’ pain.

The following connection request example can be used as a template. It was written for a student of mine in the sales training business.

Greetings, [First name]. I’d like to decide if connecting on LinkedIn will benefit both of us. Are you seeking effective ways to boost sales managers’ productivity? This is my specialty. Based on what I’m reading on your profile, connecting may open the door to mutual opportunity. Would you like to quickly explore? Thanks for considering, [First name].

All the best,
Sam Smith, Sales Manager Productivity Coach

Of course, you may not want to reveal a specific benefit (to connecting) up front. Or you may not (yet) know their pain. Thus, you might not know what benefit to promise.

So you’ll hold back a bit and provoke the prospect to tell you their pain.

Why and How Provocation Works
Let’s quickly dissect why the above approach is so effective at earning connections and conversations about what you’re selling. It’s all about creating curiosity in the prospect—fast.

Line 1 gets right to the point: Let’s decide if there’s benefit here or not.

Line 2 gets to the point of pain/goals.

Line 3 signals, “This is why I’m relevant to you” and “I’m bold.”

Line 4 says, “I did my homework” and “This is why you are now considering talking to me” plus it creates curiosity (“What does he/she see?”).

Line 5 says, “I’m looking for an answer and you have the power to give it to me” as well as “I’m not out to waste your time.”

Line 6 says, “Again, I know this is your decision … and I also know your name. You are not part of a mass emailing.” (You become distinct)

The Post-Connection Email
Once connected to the prospect, your next email (thanking them for the Connection) must:

  1. Provoke the buyer to tell you his/her near or far-term goal or pain.
  2. Tempt the buyer to talk on the phone or in a short, but more detailed, email conversation

Thus, be sure to communicate:

  • “If you need a better, faster way to increase success—now or in the future—we should talk more.
  • If not, no worries.
  • But if so, I’m the person for you because ________ (insert your point of distinction).”

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions.

LinkedIn Profile Makeover for Sellers

Are you appealing to emotional and tangible desires of buyers on your LinkedIn profile—in ways they cannot resist acting on? Reinsurance broker, Paul Dzielinski is. That’s how he’s enticing prospects to talk about buying his products. Dzielinski is generating leads with his LinkedIn profile using a system to get the job done faster. Once again, the process is rooted in traditional direct response copywriting. There are three components.

Are you appealing to emotional and tangible desires of buyers on your LinkedIn profile—in ways they cannot resist acting on? Reinsurance broker, Paul Dzielinski is. That’s how he’s enticing prospects to talk about buying his products.

Dzielinski is generating leads with his LinkedIn profile using a system to get the job done faster. Once again, the process is rooted in traditional direct response copywriting. There are three components.

  1. Solving customers problems in ways that
  2. are designed to provoke a response and ultimately
  3. foster buying confidence in customers (convert the lead).

Give Prospects a Reason to Act
Dzielinski knows that prospects are lazy. That’s why he gives them a reason to take action. There is no better reason than a pain, fear or goal his customers have.

Smart sellers like Dzielinski are placing videos and Slideshare presentations on LinkedIn that invite customers to act—to be taken on a journey. A trip where the prospect identifies as a buyer and then chooses to steer toward or away from products.

As it turns out, engagement is not the goal. Response is. But you’ve got to give customers a clear, compelling reason to act.

Design Slideshare Decks to Provoke Response
Dzielinski ‘s customers are asking him questions—the questions he wants to answer for them. Here’s how he’s doing it. It’s all about what and how prospects encounter content on his profile. For example, buyers are asking for advice, short-cuts and practical know-how based on a Slideshare deck on his profile.

What makes Dzielinski ‘s Slideshare deck work? Success is all about how the content is structured around the three-step process. Paul is successful because he exploits classic copywriting techniques via Slideshare.

Dzielinski is giving prospects temporary satisfaction. He’s answering questions in ways that satisfy for the moment, yet provokes intense curiosity, which creates more questions.

“It’s Copywriting 101,” says Copyblogger Media founder, Brian Clark. “You know, in copywriting, the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. The purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read.”

Get Prospects to Lean Forward
Clark says, when you apply the idea to SlideShare, “the purpose of each slide is to get the next slide advanced … and the next thing you know, your finger is just moving. Advance, advance, advance.”

Clark wisely points out, “It’s very engaging because it’s not a lean-back experience. It’s a lean forward. I want to see what the next slide says. And when it’s really well done, it’s fascinating. The next thing you know, you’ve gone through 70 slides and read the entire thing.”

In Dzielinski’s case, he’s offering prospects pithy, useful advice about captive insurance. Do they need it, why they might benefit, why not (what’s the “best fit”) and the kind of costs involved.

Using his PowerPoint presentation, he’s getting buyers curious about the details behind his solution. At the end he makes a call to action for a free assessment.

Is a deadly simple idea. Plus, it’s effective and repeatable.

The Truth About Sharing Content on LinkedIn
Your prospects don’t need engaging stories. Buyers have nagging problems and challenging goals that are far more important. What they need is a better way to achieve goals—or an insurance policy against risk. Thus, your job is to leverage this need and get customers curious about your remedy.

How can you help customers overcome the challenges they face, reduce the risks they need to take or find a short-cut to achieve a goal faster?

Make sure your words are making customers respond.

Make sure you LinkedIn profile is answering questions in ways that makes potential buyers think, “Yes, yes, YES … I should take action on that. That will probably create results for me. Now, how can I get my hands on more of those kinds of insights/tips?”

Need some help making this happen on your profile? View the 12-minute video training here.

Getting customers curious about you is the key to using LinkedIn for lead generation—effectively. This simple idea is the difference between wasting time on LinkedIn and having it pay you.

Good luck!

Too Big to Fail – But Not Too Big to Suck

On a recent “Real Time With Bill Maher” show, Maher responded to the announcement that Time Warner Cable would merge with Comcast Corp. in a $45 billion purchase. He noted that, combined, the two cable systems represent 19 of the 20 largest U.S. markets; and, apart from suppliers like Dish and DirecTV, they have no competitors in these metros. Further, Maher said, the two companies have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any cable system. So, as he asked his panelists, where is the value for customers in this merger if both companies are known to have questionable service performance?

On a recent “Real Time With Bill Maher” show, Maher responded to the announcement that Time Warner Cable would merge with Comcast Corp. in a $45 billion purchase. He noted that, combined, the two cable systems represent 19 of the 20 largest U.S. markets; and, apart from suppliers like Dish and DirecTV, they have no competitors in these metros. Further, Maher said, the two companies have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any cable system. So, as he asked his panelists, where is the value for customers in this merger if both companies are known to have questionable service performance?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will, of course, have a great deal to say about whether this merger goes through or not. During the past couple of decades, we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of cable companies, from 53 at one point to only six now. Addressing some of the early negative reaction to its planned purchase of TWC-which would increase Comcast’s cable base to 30 million subscribers from the 22 million it currently has (a bit less than 30 percent of the overall market)-Comcast has already stated that it will make some concessions to have the merger approved. But, that said, according to company executives, the proposed cost savings and efficiencies that will “ultimately benefit customers” are not likely to either reduce monthly subscription prices or even cause them to rise less rapidly.

Comcast executives have stated that the value to consumers will come via “quality of service, by quality of offerings and by technological innovations.” David Cohen, their Executive VP, said: “Putting these two companies together will not deprive a single customer in America of a choice he or she will have today.” (Opens as a PDF) He also said, “I don’t believe there’s any way to argue that consumers are going to be hurt from a price perspective as a result of this transaction.” But, that said, he also admitted, “Frankly, most of the factors that go into customer bills are beyond our control.” Not very encouraging.

As anyone remotely familiar with Comcast’s history will understand, this is not the first time the company has navigated the river of communications company consolidation: 1995, Scripps, 800,000 subscribers, 1998, Jones Intercable, 1.1 million subscribers; 2000, Lenfest Communications, 1.3 million subscribers.

In 2002, Comcast completed acquisition of AT&T Broadband, in a deal worth $72 billion. This increased the company’s base to its current level of 22 million subscribers, and gave it major presence in markets like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco-Oakland. In a statement issued by Comcast at the time the purchase was announced, again there was a claim that the merger with AT&T would benefit all stakeholders: “Combining Comcast with AT&T Broadband is a once in a lifetime opportunity that creates immediate value and positions the company for additional growth in the future. Shareholders, employees, and customers alike are poised to reap considerable benefits from this remarkable union.”

There have been technological advances, additional content, and enhanced service, during the ensuing 13 years. But “immediate value” and “considerable benefits”? Having been professionally involved with customer research conducted at the time of this merger, there was genuine question regarding the value perceived by the newly acquired AT&T customers. In a study among customers who discontinued with Comcast post-merger, and also among customers who had been Comcast customers or AT&T customers prior to the merger, poor picture quality (remember, these were the days well before HD), service disruption and high/continually rising prices were the key reasons given for defection to a competitor.

Conversely, when asked to rate their current suppliers on both key attribute importance (a surrogate measure of performance expectation) and performance itself, the highest priorities were all service-related:

  • Reliability of cable service
  • Availability of customer service when needed
  • Speed of service problem resolution
  • Responsiveness of customer service staff

On all principal service attributes except “speed of service problem resolution,” the new supplier was given higher ratings than either Comcast or AT&T. And there were major gaps in all of the above areas. Overall, close to 90 percent of these defected customers said they would be highly likely to continue the relationship with their new supplier. When correlation analysis was performed, pricing and service performance were the key driving factors. In addition, even if Comcast were now able to offer services that overcame their reasons for defection, very few (only about 10 percent) said they would be willing to become Comcast customers again.

Finally, we’ve often focused on unexpressed and unresolved complaints as leading barometers, or indicators, of possible defection. Few of the customers interviewed indicated problems with their current suppliers; however, as in other studies, problem and complaint issues were frequently surfaced for both Comcast and AT&T.

It should be noted that having lost a significant number of customers to Verizon’s FiOS, Comcast has a winback program under way, leveraging quotes from subscribers who have returned to the Xfinity fold. In the usual Macy’s/Gimbel’s customer acquisition and capture theater of war, this marks a marketing change for Comcast. As often observed (and even covered in an entire book, with my co-author, consultant Jill Griffin), winback marketing strategies are rather rarely applied, but can be very successful.

One of the key consumer concerns, especially as it may impact monthly bills, is the cost and control of content. For example, Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast for an exclusive direct connection into its network. As one media analyst noted, “The largest cable company in the nation, on the verge of improving its power to influence broadband policy, is nurturing a class system by capitalizing on its reach as a consumer Internet service provider (ISP).” This could, John C. Abell further stated, be a “game-changer.” Media management and control such as this has echoes of Big Brother for customers, and it is all the more reason Comcast should be paying greater attention to the evolving needs, as well as the squeeze on wallets, of its customers.

Perhaps the principal lesson here, assuming that the FCC allows this merger to proceed and ultimately consummate, will be for Comcast to be proactive in building relationships and service delivery. There’s very little that will increase consumer trust more than “walking the talk,” delivering against the claims of what benefits customers will stand to receive. Conversely, there’s little that will undermine trust and loyalty faster, and more thoroughly, than underdelivery on promises.