3 Steps to Complete a Competitive Content Marketing Review

You’ve got to know what’s out there if you’re going to attract the audience you want. So it’s worthwhile to evaluate your content marketing in relation to what’s already out there.

You’ve got to know what’s out there if you’re going to attract the audience you want. The best content in the world won’t gain any traction if someone else said the same thing 15 minutes ago. So it’s worthwhile to evaluate your content marketing in relation to what’s already out there. Here are three steps to completing a competitive content marketing review:

Step 1. It’s Not About Your Competitors’ Content (Yet)

You may be tempted to fire up your browser, do some searches for the terms you want to rank for, and see who and what pops up. That would be a mistake that can lead you down a rabbit hole and far, far away from your own goals.

Begin first by examining your own content and your analytics data to see what content you’ve created that has performed best. This will give you a baseline against which to evaluate the results you find on competitive sites.

Your goal during this content marketing review isn’t to beat everyone in everything – even if that was possible. Your goal is to beat all competitors in the niches you identify as most important to your target audience and in which you have significant expertise or perspective.

Step 2. Review Your Marketing Goals

Next, review your sales, marketing, and product goals to make sure the content you have out in the world is working toward the goals you have today. It’s not uncommon for older content, aimed at other goals, to continue to garner a strong audience. Of course, being off target, these content elements don’t help your bottom line. (Which is another great reason to perform a content marketing review at least annually and prune or edit content that isn’t aligned with your marketing message.)

Step 3. Review Competitors’ Content Marketing

With all of that information in hand, now it’s time to fire up your browser and see what content you are competing with in your chosen niche. Be sure your review includes long-tail keyword phrases as well as broader queries. This should help you get a solid picture of your content strengths and weaknesses from the top of your funnel to the bottom.

You’ll also want to check the products/services that are being marketed by the content you find. It may be that some keyword phrases are more commonly used in other industries or in other ways than you intend. Performing well against those keywords may drive traffic, but it’s unlikely to generate conversions.

To summarize all of the above, your content marketing review should focus on evaluating:

  • Targeting — are you speaking to the right audience?
  • Content — are you addressing your prospects’ primary concerns?
  • Distribution — are you getting content in front of your target audience?

3 Tactics to Stay Connected With Your Target Audience

What can you do today to help you to survive the current state of your market and thrive as it evolves? Consider these three tactics to help you maintain a strong connection with your audience.

Digital marketing — and marketing more broadly — is always about making it clear to your target audience that you can help them address the issue they need to solve. Nothing about the conditions we’re facing today changes that, though the issues your audience is facing very likely have.

So, as much as we’re all tired of hearing about our “unprecedented” times and “the new normal,” we do have to adapt our organizations to the conditions we see in our markets, or risk our own extinction.

What can you do today to help you to survive the current state of your market and thrive as it evolves? Consider these three tactics to help you maintain a strong connection with your target audience.

Trim Costs Without Negatively Affecting Your Audience

Where can you cut costs in a way that does not impact your ability to connect with your target audience? Begin by looking at what you’re doing now. For example, digital ad costs have fallen. If you can craft a message that still resonates with your prospects, you may be able to increase your impact at a lower overall cost, and certainly at a lower CPM. (Be careful, though, if your targeting relies on IP address identification. With many corporate folks working from home, their IP address will not be that of their organization unless they’re accessing the internet through a corporate VPN.)

What alternative to currently dormant channels have you shied away from testing in the past because of budget or bandwidth concerns? Virtual events rather than in-person events is the most obvious choice, but there may be other areas in your arsenal worth investigating.

Explore New Tactics for Your Sales Team to Employ

Speaking of alternatives, if your sales force has typically relied on face-to-face meetings to drive revenue, they’ll be itching for new ways to connect with potential buyers. They may be more open to new ideas than in the past; for example, creating a library of online resources.

The key here is doing the work to ensure that the resources you create align with the sales team’s needs. This makes creating a digital library a great way to get sales and marketing working together, even if they can’t be together physically. (I’m sure some of you are thinking about how that physical distance might make the process easier …)

Even better, a library like this works not only as a short-term play to get the sales team through a time of limited contact with prospects, but it also can pay benefits far down the road in the form of an expanded reach for the sales team as they become more comfortable using these tools in their sales process.

Improve Customer Experience

Don’t forget to check the possibilities already right under your nose. As difficult as it can be to connect with new prospects for many marketers at the moment, existing clients are likely far more receptive to your messaging, particularly if you focus on empathy, humanity, and being helpful.

Ask what help they need, share the struggles that your organization is going through, and make it clear that you will help them any way you can. Consider making a pre-emptive offer to clients that addresses problems you know they are facing. (See Point One above about asking what they need.) The short-term cost of any unpaid effort will pay long-term dividends in the kinds of trust and good will that lead to client retention and improved lifetime value.

6 Reasons Why Print Marketing Is Thriving

A few years ago, you might have heard marketers claiming we were facing the end of an era for print. Online marketing is cheap, available to almost any business owner, and capable of reaching a global audience, so it seemed like the natural order of things for print marketing to die out. But this isn’t the case at all.

A few years ago, you might have heard marketers claiming we were facing the end of an era for print. Online marketing is cheap, available to almost any business owner, and capable of reaching a global audience, so it seemed like the natural order of things for print marketing to die out. But this isn’t the case at all.

Print advertising spending has dropped only slightly in the past several years, and is projected to remain stable at roughly $24 billion per year in 2021 and beyond. Business owners are still relying on print marketing to spread word about their businesses, despite the advantages of digital marketing strategies. But why is this the case?

Lower Costs

First, the cost of printing has dramatically decreased over the past couple of decades, thanks in part to the availability of online services. Printing a brochure online, for example, is much cheaper than printing one at your local office supply shop. That’s because printing companies have invested in new equipment that can operate much more efficiently, and rely on digital files and tools to facilitate more efficient production. This is especially true of higher-run orders, where businesses can decrease their per-unit price to absurdly low levels. Ultimately, this keeps printed advertising strategies in line with digital marketing strategies in terms of cost.

Higher Accessibility

Printed materials also are more accessible than they’ve ever been in the past, again thanks to the prevalence of online tools. Most major printing companies offer online platforms where business owners can create an account, log in, manage their ongoing materials, lay out exactly how they want their items to look, and order something new with the click of a button. Rather than dealing with a salesperson or trying to navigate the complex world of technical printing requirements, they can navigate thousands of options in a simple, consolidated interface. This makes print more appealing than ever.

Mutual Existence

Traditional advertising and online marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. Naysayers proclaiming the end of traditional marketing tactics tended to assume that if a business was spending $60,000 a year on print marketing materials, they would soon shift to spend $60,000 a year on online marketing strategies. But this hasn’t been the case; instead, businesses would often split their budgets, spending $40,000 on print marketing and $20,000 on new online strategies. In some cases, businesses would simply increase their total budget, retaining their $60,000 traditional spending and experimenting with an additional $20,000 for online techniques. The success of online marketing in no way overrules or negates the power of printed materials.

Consumer Preferences

It’s also important to note that not everyone prefers consuming material in a digital format. About 10% of the U.S. population doesn’t use the Internet, basically rendering them unreachable through digital means. In addition to that, some people either prefer or are more easily persuaded by material that comes to them in a printed format; for example, they may like flipping through the pages of a physical booklet rather than browsing through online pages.

This factor is somewhat dependent on your target demographics. If your audience strongly prefers printed materials, or is better influenced by them, there’s no reason to switch to digital marketing.

Local Visibility

Printed ads tend to be more approachable for local businesses; it’s easier to distribute printed flyers and booklets around a neighborhood than it is to climb the search engine rankings for keyword terms related to your city (though this may also be possible). Accordingly, new businesses trying to cater to a local population tend to favor traditional, print-based advertising methods.

New Techniques and Integrations

It should also be known that the world of print marketing today is very different than it was 20 years ago. New techniques, and new integrations with other marketing technologies make it much more versatile—and powerful. For example, thanks to digital lists and inventive printing techniques, you can customize your printed ads with the individual names of your intended recipients. You can also use QR codes or other tactics to send your printed ad recipients to an online or digital destination.

The Caveats

Of course, this isn’t to say that print marketing is a perfect strategy in the modern era, or that it should be favored over online marketing. There are a wide range of tactics available, in both digital and printed formats, and how your business performs depends not only on which tactics you choose, but how well you execute them. A good high-level strategy, backed with research and grounded in creativity, will always succeed more than a poorly planned one, regardless of the specific tactics used to execute them. Keep that in mind as you plan your next strategy—and how your campaigns might evolve in the future.

Using Headlines Well in Your Content Marketing

How you construct your content marketing headlines will impact your ability to reach and engage your target audience. Different approaches are appropriate for different goals.

Last time out, we talked about ways to make your content marketing work harder for you. We can continue that conversation by turning our attention to how headlines impact your ability to attract your target audience.

Headlines Can be Clever or Conceptual

First, there are two very broad approaches to writing headlines: clever and conceptual.

Clever headlines are interestingly written and meant to be attention-getting. They pique curiosity. So, for example, I could have titled the post I mentioned above something like, “Build It and They Won’t Come.” A dyed-in-the-wool SEO would take issue with that — and with this approach, in general — as it simply isn’t geared for SEO performance. More on that in a moment.

The other approach, broadly, is to highlight the concepts or topics you’re discussing, as in the case of that article’s actual title, “3 Ways to Make Your Content Marketing Work Harder for You.”

Clearly, if strong SEO performance is your goal, then the conceptual approach is the way to go. There are going to be far more searches done each month along the lines of, “How can I make my content marketing work harder” than there are for, “If I build my website will they come?”

On the other hand, if your goal with a particular piece of content is to engage more deeply with an audience who already knows you well, then the clever approach can be a better choice. Remember that as much as we want to be informed when we’re consuming marketing content, we also want to be entertained. You’re probably never going to rise to the level of enjoyment that the latest bingeworthy streaming show will have, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the content consumption equivalent of a root canal. Have some fun and your audience likely will, too.

Keyword Considerations

Implied above are considerations about keyword usage. If you can include them, do. That’s generally going to be harder to do with clever headlines; though you may be willing to make that sacrifice, depending on your goals. For more topical headlines, be sure you’re using the best keyword phrases you can. (In my example, we would want to know for sure that “making content marketing work harder” is likely to get more search attention than “making content marketing more effective.”)

How Long Should Your Headlines Be?

Once you decide on your approach, there are more technical matters to address. For example, headline length. According to research done by Backlinko, “headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.”

If your goal is generating something other than social sharing, you might need to look at different metrics. (Which is one reason to take all metrics like these with a grain of salt. Even if they were generated using rigorous protocols, they might simply not be appropriate for your situation. Use them as a guide and gather your own data.)

Should Your Headlines Be Questions?

Backlinko data also tells us that headlines in the form of a question “get 23.3% more social shares than headlines that don’t end with a question mark.”

Again, that’s a very specific metric, aimed at achieving a very specific goal. So don’t twist yourself or your ideas into knots just to tick off a particular box.

The point of these examples isn’t for you to view any of these data points as the gospel truth for your own content marketing work. It’s to encourage you to recognize that paying attention to the details can yield great benefits in your content marketing.

In Content Marketing, It’s Not What You Know — It’s What You Know About Your Audience

Marketers need to know something about their target audience and they need to know how to paint an accurate picture of their ideal customers.

Our crazy upside-down world offers plenty of evidence that, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” But while that might get you $26 million worth of Instagram endorsement deals, in content marketing, you have to know something — as well as someone.

In fact, you need to know something about someone — specifically, your target audience. With that in mind, it’s worth considering the tools and techniques we use to paint an accurate picture of our ideal customers.

Established Client Interviews

Though you’ll hear many an expert talk about prospect personas as the ideal starting point, for most of us, it’s easier to establish a baseline by interviewing our existing clients to find out what motivated them to seek out a solution. You’ll also want to understand what differentiated you in their minds from your competitors — and from other possible solutions.

That information should form the backbone of your content marketing efforts, your broader marketing efforts, and even your sales team’s approach.

Interviewing Prospects and New Clients

Naturally, you’re going to want to start your interviews with your best clients. That makes sense on one level, because an established and long-standing relationship will make the ask easier and a positive response more likely. But low-hanging fruit has its limitations, including faded memories of long-ago meetings not necessarily being as useful as we’d like. It’s worthwhile to look deeper into your client pool.

As you talk to newer clients, the goal of each interview should be to determine

  • What pain the client is experiencing
  • The (negative) impact that pain point is causing their business
  • The risks posed by trying something new
  • How they perceived you vs. your competitors

These are also great questions for prospects who you have lost, assuming you forged enough of a relationship during the courtship to gain a few more minutes of their time. In fact, you should encourage your sales team to ask lost prospects  questions around, “Why not us?”

Prospect Personas for Content Marketing

All of this interview information can be combined with basic knowledge you have about your clients, prospects and targets to create the outlines of your prospect personas. This will include things like target industries and typical roles for your prospects. The rest of the persona-building process is a topic for a separate article, but you’ll certainly want to flesh out your ideal prospects in as much detail as possible. Which brings us to our next critical layer: the human element.

The Human Element in B2B Content Marketing

The human element is, arguably, more important than any other consideration. We’re not talking here about the smarmy tendency of some salespeople to research individual prospects’ alma maters and open a meeting with something along the lines of, “How ‘bout them Huskies!”

There is value in connecting on that very individual level. But first, we simply want to remember that our prospects, even though we are B2B marketers, are human. They have human concerns in the office, just as they do at home and on weekends. Getting too personal can be creepy, but I’m not sure there is such a thing as too human. Strive to make that human element a part of your marketing.

Don’t Forget the Data

It might seem a hard shift from the human element to data, but quite the opposite is true. Data is what gives us the ability to focus our marketing much more tightly than our B2C brethren often can. And that focus is another way we can humanize our message. We’re not trying to be all things to all people. Let the data guide you toward the areas where you can be more human and connect more completely with your audience’s needs and their (perhaps unexpressed) concerns surrounding risk and reward.

Data can take the form of general quantitative data, like how popular was a particular piece of content we’ve created. And it can take a more personalized form in basing upcoming touchpoints with prospects based on the content they’ve interacted with most recently. You’ll want to combine as many data sources as possible to fill in both the foreground and background of the picture you’re painting.

How B2B Marketing Can Make B2B Sales Easy

My headline isn’t going to win any friends across the aisle in the land of sales teams, and I’ll admit there’s a bit of attention-seeking there. But, even though I won’t suggest that sales is by definition easier than marketing, I do feel that strong marketing can have an outsize impact on sales results and sales efficiency.

My headline isn’t going to win any friends across the aisle in the land of sales teams, and I’ll admit there’s a bit of attention-seeking there. But, even though I won’t suggest that sales is by definition easier than marketing, I do feel that strong marketing can have an outsize impact on sales results and sales efficiency.

Marketing can only have that impact on sales when there is a progression of thoughtful activity from a firm’s earliest contact with a prospect to converting the sale, and beyond.

So the real headline should perhaps be, “Sales Is Easier When Marketing Is Done Well,” but that’s a mouthful. Let’s take a closer look at how marketing can make sales easier, if not truly easy.

B2B marketing

Who Really Wants a Super Bowl Ad?

Most of us in B2B sales and marketing are not seeking the mass audiences of, say, a Super Bowl ad. Our prospects can be much more tightly defined and more pointedly targeted. Rather than wading through a stadium full of people to find those few who might be interested in what we’re offering, we want to talk to the few hundred — maybe even few dozen — without all the additional noise. We want to connect with those who are likely to be a good fit for what we’re offering.

If our marketing can target our prospects tightly, we make the sales process more efficient; we don’t need to put 1,000 salespeople in the field, because we don’t have a stadium full of “prospects” to follow up with. A smaller team can communicate with the more select group who marketing has identified as qualified candidates.

Of course, if those candidates aren’t truly qualified — ever the sales team’s lament — the process breaks down. Which is why we need a strong marketing team to support the more focused sales team.

What Does Marketing Need to Do

Marketing then, needs to focus on content and other tools that appeal to the target audience and that are able to get a brand-relevant and useful message in front of them. When that happens, sales is a much more efficient task — less wasted time, fewer never-really-interested prospects, and a higher close rate. In other words, sales is easier because marketing is strong. (Thought, I’ll admit, sales is never easy, my headline notwithstanding.)

What About Branding?

It’s worth applying this concept to branding, as well, because the same things we can say about sales in relationship to marketing can be said about marketing in relationship to branding. Good branding makes marketing much, much more effective. Easier, even.

So now our headline should read: “Sales Is Easier When Marketing Is Done Well (And Marketing Is Easier When Branding Is Done Well)” Which is even more of a mouthful …

Of course, all of this well-planned activity will be for nothing if you don’t have a fantastic product to sell. And “fantastic” doesn’t have to mean a groundbreaking technological advancement. (Though clearly, the product has to provide a strong benefit to the client.) “Fantastic” means a product that is conceived and positioned to be better than any other available option for a particular audience segment.

So there is a bit of a circle here with product leading to positioning/branding, branding leading to marketing, and marketing leading to sales. There’s also a two-way connection between strategic thinking and tactical implementation that have to feed on one another. (Virtuously, we hope.)

All of this means that while sales isn’t really easier than marketing, when you do more of the hard work in the earlier steps, the later steps get easier. And because this is all quite circular, everything gets easier when you focus on strategy before tactics and seek ways to improve incrementally with each prospect interaction.

4 Factors That Cause Google Ads Campaigns to Fail

Google Ads campaigns can be a very effective way to generate leads if you know what you’re doing. The problem is that many people jump into Google Ads blindly. They figure Google will lead them through the steps and instantly, they will start getting sales and phone calls.

google ads campaigns
Creative Commons license. | Credit: Pixabay by lukasbieri

Google Ads campaigns can be a very effective way to generate leads if you know what you’re doing. The problem is that many people jump into Google Ads blindly. They figure Google will lead them through the steps and instantly, they will start getting sales and phone calls.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Google Ads can be a lot like riding a bull. You jump on the bull, and you think you got it. But all of sudden, it starts jerking around, and you immediately see that it really isn’t as easy as it looked at on TV. After a few close calls, the bull flings you off and you hit the ground. All you can do is look up at the bull and think, “What just happened?”

Some businesses spend thousands of dollars on Google Ads every single month and don’t see nearly enough return on investment. Many businesses vow to never use Google Ads again because it’s “a waste of money.” The reality? Often the campaign failed because of common mistakes many beginners make.

Knowing what factors contribute to failing campaigns is important for success. Learn them now, so you can get back on the bull, and take it by the horns next time.

1. Using Too Many Keywords

Don’t get greedy with keywords. You only need the ones that will reach your target audience interested in your products and services. Adding other keywords will not lead to more business, but instead, drain your budget.

Some key takeaways here are:

  • Focus on “buying-intent” keywords, not “research-intent” keywords. Ask yourself, is the person more likely to be searching this keyword in order to make a purchase or to do research?
  • Use Phrase and Exact match keywords. By default, Google will use Broad match keywords which means your ads will show for any search Google thinks is related to your keyword. Don’t let Google decide how to spend your money!
  • Let your conversion data guide your bidding decisions. Bid more aggressively on the keywords that are driving leads and sales and lower bids on keywords that are not converting.

2. Bad Ad Copy

Once you’re targeting the right keywords, then the next area to focus is your ads. People have limited attention spans, and if those ads don’t spark their attention, they will move on. As Seth Godin would say, “Be Remarkable!”

Plus, focus on benefits. People always want to know how something will benefit them. So, ask yourself: How does my product or service benefit customers? It’s the benefit that you want to market — not the product or service.

Lastly, make your ads congruent with the keywords and website landing page. Ultimately, this means you’ll need different ads for all the different keyword phrases you want to target. If your ads are not congruent, or relevant, then your prospective customers are not likely to click. Even worse, if your ads are not congruent with your landing page, then the prospective customers who do click are going to quickly leave, because the message on the website doesn’t match the message in the ads.

3. Insufficient Ad Budget

With Google Ads, there is no minimum budget. However, depending on your industry and the keywords you want to target, the cost per click for your ads can vary from $1 to $10 or even $50 or more. If the cost per click for your keywords is on the lower end at $2, then you can generate 500 clicks for $1,000 per month. But if your keywords cost $20, then that same $1,000 budget will only generate 50 clicks per month.

Fifty clicks are not going to give you much data to work with in order to optimize your campaign month after month.

Another way to look at this is to calculate your daily budget. If your monthly budget is $1,000 and you want your ads to display every day of the week, then your daily budget is about $33. Again, if your keywords cost $20 per click, then you would only be able to generate one click per day! That’s just not enough; you’ll need to increase your budget and/or limit the days your ads will run during the month.

4. Not Spending Enough Time Managing the Campaigns

Google Ads campaigns aren’t like Crockpot meals. You can’t set it and forget it.

Your campaigns need attention. They need nurturing. This is true whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran.

A lot can change in just a day or two. New competitors can start advertising and increase the cost per click of your keywords and steal impression share. Alternatively, competitors may leave or run out of budget, which gives you an opportunity to lower your bids to get the same amount of traffic for less! Unless you’re closely monitoring, you’ll miss these important changes that affect the profitability of your campaigns.

Conclusion

OK, let’s review what we’ve learned here.

Don’t try to attack every keyword you can find for your campaigns. Instead, use the best buying-intent keywords for your target audience. When you create ads, be sure to highlight the benefits of your products and services. Don’t over-promise anything, and match the message of the ad to the keyword and the message of the landing page. Make sure to test out different times to run your ads, as well, if you don’t have enough of a budget to run them all day and night. Finally, manage your campaigns by paying close attention to what works, what doesn’t work and the moves of your competition.

How Will Your Audience Receive Your New Product?

Product innovation is necessary for every company to grow and evolve in a competitive market. But if your audience “doesn’t get” your new product, success is much less of a guarantee.

Product innovation is necessary for every company to grow and evolve in a competitive market. But if your audience “doesn’t get” your new product, success is much less of a guarantee. Before you unveil your hard-won innovations, here are some ways to ensure you’re targeting the segments of your audience who will be the most receptive — both to the new product and accompanying marketing efforts.

First, Really Know Who They Are

While basic demographics like age, marital status, geographic location, hobbies and other points help you form a picture of your audience, to really know them means gaining specific, unique insights about them. You want to understand more than just who they are on paper by finding out how they think and feel and what they truly need. To do this, you have to integrate survey data with rich behavioral insights gleaned from big data.

Look at how personality profiles developed through a scan of big data reveal the personality characteristics common to the potential target audience for a new robot vacuum:

Credit: GutCheckIt

This audience ranks high for agreeableness, which points to other traits like altruistic, modest, and empathetic. So when communicating with them about the vacuum, messaging that uses a social responsibility angle will likely attract and feel relevant to them.

How your new product appeals to the individual needs and lifestyles of your audience further deepens your understanding of them. Consider in this summary of needs how the robot vacuum could hit home with the audience’s high ideals, drive toward harmony, and interest in self-expression, as well as how the vacuum could appeal to the audience majority who enjoy keeping their home tidy.

Credit: GutCheckIt
Credit: GutCheckIt

Then, Determine How Best to Reach Them

Once you’ve formed a full understanding of your audience’s personality, needs, and lifestyle, combine your learning with a study of the type of media consumed and during which times of day. For example, the vacuum audience learns about new products mainly through social media rather than television or promotional emails. They spend 7-plus hours per week on the web and using apps, mostly in the early evening hours between 5-8 pm.

Credit: GutCheckIt

To reach this audience effectively, online or mobile campaigns work best, with ads that could be shown on traditional TV in the later evening hours between 8-11 pm.

To learn what type of unique insights you could uncover about your brand’s audience before you launch a new product, visit the GutCheck website to learn more.

A Better Direct Mail Strategy for 2019

Start your 2019 year off right with a better direct mail marketing strategy. The DMA has reported that customer response rates increased year-over-year by an impressive 43% and prospect response rates more than doubled — reporting an astounding 190% increase. With these results in mind, is your current direct mail strategy working as well as it can?

Start your 2019 year off right with a better direct mail marketing strategy. The DMA has reported that customer response rates increased year-over-year by an impressive 43% and prospect response rates more than doubled — reporting an astounding 190% increase. The USPS “Household Diary Study” found that people read postcards in greater numbers with a 3.9% YOY rise. With these results in mind, is your current direct mail strategy working as well as it can?

We all set goals and expectations for our direct mail campaigns, but they don’t always go as we expect them to. Working on a better strategy can help us achieve better results. Before we get started on 2019, we need to look at our 2018 results. Did customers and prospects show interest but not purchase from you? Was there no interest at all or just below your expectations? Did you have any known issues with campaigns in 2018? Focus on both who bought from you and who did not. Are there any likenesses between the people in each group? In many cases, we will find that there are common issues with people that can help us better target the ones who did not buy.

Direct Mail Elements

  • Audience — The people you are mailing to really matter. Do you have the most current data for mailing? There are many was to clean up your mailing list, make sure you are using them. Once you know you have the right addresses you are ready to focus on other parts of your data. Tracking purchase history, demographics and geographics helps you to target them better. The more information you can collect and process to refine your target audience for each mailing, the better your response rate is going to be. Keep in mind that you can also purchase targeted lists based on your best current customers. If you have not tried this before, you may want to consider it for 2019.
  • Offer — If your offer does not resonate with your prospects and customers, they will not buy from you. Look at your best offers in 2018 so that you know what works best. Then take a look at the offers that bombed. What was different about them? How can you make sure that the offers in 2019 are much better? Targeting the right offers to the right people is critical for your response rates.
  • Design — Did you have some great designs in 2018? There are many areas where you can get creative to stand out in 2019. What size pieces did you send last year? How well did they work? Have you considered using larger pieces to stand out in the mailbox more? Color, images and copy placement are all factors in good design. Consider using higher impact images, bolder colors and fun creative elements, like texture, to draw people in. Your choice of paper stock matters, too. So consider a different, heavier stock this year, or even a pearlescent to really sparkle.

Now that you have some things to consider for 2019, remember that it is best to only change one thing at a time to be able to recognize the impact that each change makes. Ideally, you will want to run an A/B test by using a piece that worked great in 2018 to test against a newer piece for 2019. This will give you an opportunity to continually create better direct mail throughout the year. The best direct mail pieces target the right people with the right offer at the right time. Are you ready to create your best direct mail campaign?

It’s Not My Opinion, It’s My Money That Marketers Want

Why do so many marketers choose the path of least resistance, which often means communicating more, rather than better. Even “pushing the envelope” to get what marketers want — perhaps an inappropriate metaphor, in the digital world — and bending credibility almost to the breaking point?

Why do so many marketers choose the path of least resistance, which often means communicating more, rather than better. Even “pushing the envelope” to get what marketers want — perhaps an inappropriate metaphor, in the digital world — and bending credibility almost to the breaking point?

“Enough is enough!” my mother used to howl at me when some annoying thing I was doing had gone too, too far.

We all get there sometimes, and nothing turns our listener off more permanently than being subject to mindless repetition. Why do we frequently ignore this when “creating” (or not really creating) communications, which we may find boring as marketers, but which someone believes are necessary to fuel the customer journey toward us — rather than inciting an exodos to the hills or the spam button.

As a life-long Democrat, it pains me to use the party’s very questionable fundraising tactics as an example. But for the past couple of weeks, I have been assaulted (I can’t think of a more appropriate word) by what must be considered mindless email communications from the National Democratic Training Committee  and Boldpac, seemingly one of its tentacles. It seems as if someone switched on the automatic pilot, went out for coffee and forgot to come back.

There must be a lesson here for all of us on both sides of the aisle.

I received eight emails from them in just two days this week.

Isn’t enough enough? And this too much?

DESTROYING New York, Robert Mueller DOOMED, BIG announcement, Cohen GUILTY, Trump FURIOUS, Mueller THREATENED

(After Mueller was DOOMED in another message minutes before.) You get the idea.

Here are compelling BIG words capitalized as if they were copied and pasted from a Trumpian tweet. Of course they become wallpaper by repetition and lose any sense of the urgency we all want to see in promotion. The law of diminishing returns comes into play, and perhaps they deserve to be included in Melissa’s WWTT?

And dare I say it? These particular official-sounding messages are an inherently dishonest switch-sell.

“We’ve re-launched the poll,” says the message.

Come on, guys! Let’s get real here.

Can we even, for a moment, suspend disbelief long enough to accept that they (who?) “need to know” where I stand as of Dec. 9, or even give a damn whether I approve of Robert Muller or not?

Enormously complimented as I am supposed to be, perhaps I’ve become too cynical. But somehow, I find it difficult to accept that I have been fortunate enough to have been chosen to be part of a “Special Task Force!” to protect Mueller. (If I’m that fortunate, why don’t I ever win the lottery?)  I can’t help feeling that it is not my opinion they want; it’s my money. That’s why they also ask me to contribute, “in the next hour” $3 or $10 or even more or “chip in $10 (or even $3) today?” Doesn’t this have the sound of either desperation or the copywriter plodding mindlessly on and failing to stop and think?

I tried reaching out to the Training Committee, but it didn’t respond. Its members were obviously too busy “training” to bother to provide answers to some simple questions that might inform marketers. Among other things, I wanted to ask the real reason for the surveys, petitions and questionnaires the committee seems obsessed with, and some case histories of how this data was used to affect policy, to change opinion or to do anything? It says: “Every signature makes a difference. Add your name right now.” But don’t we want to know to whom it makes a difference?

Wasn’t the inclusion of a request for donations from “Task Force” members, I wanted to ask, the real reason for the surveys? And weren’t the obviously loaded questions asked only as a path to the switch-sell? Did the target market for these efforts have such a deplorably low intelligence level that it could be so easily conned?

Also, I was curious what the fundraising consultants who were paid $1.3 million in 2018 actually did for their money and who they were? (Blackops? Perhaps.) What percentage of the unspecified money raised did their cut represent? It certainly seems that the consultants were onto a good thing. Was it they who encouraged this aggressive headline; “Peter will vote for Trump in 2020?” knowing that the statement would be sufficiently irritating to catch my attention, even with a question mark hidden at the end?

As marketing professionals, we are often challenged with honestly answering the question: How far can I go in building my promotional messages and actions to generate the highest response at the lowest cost vs. where is the red line not to be crossed over using the powerful tools in our armory?

Sadly, as we see all too frequently in today’s world, mendacity trumps truth.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the pendulum swings back and our customers and prospects, even our potential voters, tell us that enough is definitely enough.