QR Code Offer

Here’s a great offer available from the Postal Service from July 1st through August 31st, USPS is offering 3% OFF of postage on direct mail pieces containing a mobile barcode (QR code). This promotion is the latest and actually a good idea. It’s designed to help entice mailers to test mobile barcodes on their direct mail. A QR code (mobile barcode) is a 2 dimensional barcode that is scanned and read by a smart phone.

Program Details The program runs from July 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011 and is available for First Class, Standard and Non-Profit Mailers who incorporate a two-dimensional barcode either on the face or inside every piece in the mailing that is designed to direct the user to a promotional website. Mailers will receive an upfront 3% discount on postage for mailings that meet program requirements. Program Requirements

• First Class, Standard and Non-Profit mail is eligible.

• All mail pieces must include a mobile two-dimensional barcode on the face or within the mail piece. • The barcode must be used for marketing purposes only.

• Postage must be paid via permit imprint and all postage documentation must be submitted to the USPS electronically.

• Co-mailing customers are eligible to participate in this program.

For more information on the promotion, https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=mobilebarcode

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Every Door Direct (EDDM)

Here’s a wonderful use of EDDM – Every Door Direct Mail.

When Randi Slocum’s dog Kaylee ran away from her Stillwater, NY home, Randi’s mother, Carolyn, decided to try Every Door Direct Mail to notify residents in Stillwater and nearby Schuylerville, NY, of the dog’s disappearance. The flyer helped unleash a series of phone calls, and that helped lead to Kaylee’s safe return.

A happy ending and a neat story. So is EDDM a great new option from USPS? 

It may be a new option for looking for lost pets, neighborhood civic notices & other small quantity door hanger material distribution like pizza or chinese food menus, but I do not see a real benefit of this simplified addressing option.

Here’s my view on EDDM as published in April’s edition of DMAW – MARKETING AdVents

“Every Door Direct” – A Hard Sell

As most of you know, USPS started a new Simplified Addressing format called “Every Door Direct Mail” targeted to small businesses. Advertised benefits include: delivery to every address in a selected area, reduced costs and time-to-market, and the elimination of puchased mailing lists or the printing of specific names and addresses on mail pieces.

Foregoing mailing lists and even the need to inkjet addresses on mail pieces altogether sounds interesting. To qualify, mail pieces must meet Standard Mail “flat” requirements.  But the simple fact is that the new format will not save much when compared to printing a traditional tri-fold at saturation rate. But even if it does end up saving a few pennies it will not be good for our industry and here’s why.

Every Door Direct is simply mass advertising, which has caused problems in our industry for years.

I’ve been selling direct mail services for more than 2 decades and I’ve spent much of this time trying to convince businesses that mass marketing or shotgun approaches to advertising are not very efficient or effective. Targeting & measurability are the main powerhouse traits of direct mail that have a clear advantage over any other media. I believe the post office should be embracing and promoting the strongest benefits of direct mail.

Why would USPS want to promote another mass mailing service? 

I do agree that there are some exceptions where saturation mail is beneficial. But overall the more un-targeted pieces people get in the mailbox, the more likely they will be to ignore targeted mail, diluting response rates and and negatively affecting our industry in the long run. Don’t they know that this may actually discourage people from using direct mail rather than encouraging them to do so?

Plus when the focus is on saving money in the production of direct mail we lose. Direct mail is not cheap, and never will be a cheap form of advertising. We need to focus instead on how direct mail can be very beneficial and actually make money for the small business owner.

Will Every Door Direct really increase revenue for USPS? In my opinion it will not. I also predict that Every Door Direct will probably just fade away without much notice.

I understand it was launched with good intentions and we all know the post office needs revenue, but my advice to USPS is to spend less time and money trying to “sell” direct mail and concentrate instead on improving delivery and customer service. This will actually do much more to generate growth and new business.

Coupons & On-Sale purchases at record highs

According to a recent Nielsen survey “On-Sale” Items and “Coupon” purchases are at record highs.

Retailers are seeing this trend across the country. It’s having a noticeable effect on virtually every category and size of retailer.

70% consumers are buying items “On Sale”

59% consumers are using “coupons”

37% consumers are shopping at “value retailers” such as dollar stores & super centers

35% are purchasing Value packs

25% are shopping closer to home or work

18% are switching to cheaper health & beauty products

17% are purchasing smaller packages with a lower unit price

However, this is actually good new for retailers who understand direct marketing. The climate is ripe for great direct mail response.

In this economy customers welcome relevant and timely direct mail offers. They will respond to credible offers and incentives that have true value.

Just make sure you offer real incentives and real value.

In direct marketing, incentives have always worked well, but they work only when they are “real” incentives. Plus make sure that your “offer” is exclusive to the promotion and custom to the media. When you offer the same incentive on TV, Radio &/or Newspaper the offer can be diluted and your project will under perform.

When a customer feels that their particular “coupon” is really not necessary to actually receive the advertised offer, they will perceive it as worthless. Remember don’t use direct mail advertising as “branding”. Use it correctly as a sales tool and it will bring in much needed revenue.

Wedding Invitations by email?

Would I send my wedding invitations by email?

Even though email wasn’t really around when I got married I will answer this question as if I was getting married in this day and age.

No I would not send wedding invitations by email.

Here’s why

A wedding invitation is not just an announcement; it’s a personal invitation to close friends and family.

I want everyone to receive it

#1 (List)

I don’t have everyone’s current email address. Many are outdated email addresses plus many have multiple email addresses. Even if I get in contact with everyone and get the correct emails, I know some of my older relatives don’t even have a computer. I also know that some of my friends never or rarely look at their email.

I want this wonderful moment to be shared and hope everyone attends

#2 (Offer)

It’s a celebration of one of the most personal moments and event in my life. It’s the first statement of our new life together. Close friends and family will want to know about this. Most will enjoy coming out to the wedding and reception as it’s a happy event and time for any family. Even if they won’t or can’t come to the wedding, I want them to know that we took the time to let them know about the wedding and personally invite them.

I want our personal touch

#3 (Other)

The look of the card, the feel of the paper, the tissue and envelopes will reflect our personality together. It’s the first statement of our life together. Our first communication as a couple should convey quality and sincerity. We want to make it stand out. We will use a first class stamp and even handwrite the addresses so everyone knows they were personally invited.

Really there is not much I’d change about our invitations after all these years, even if we were sending them out today. The only thing I would add is to include a way that they can RSVP online.

Secret to Direct Mail Success – The Right Offer!

The success of your direct mail is so dependent on the actual “Offer” you give your recipients. I’m seeing more direct mail pieces today with lame offers or even no offer at all.

Agencies, brokers & free lancers, please listen.  Many of the direct mail pieces I get today are really great looking pieces but many of these do not contain great offers. Even assuming they are mailing the right list, many of these mailers will not bring in the results needed for the client to continue mailing.

Offers that are “REAL” not contrived or made up are the secret to success. “Great Offers” are the one thing my successful long term clients all have in common. If you are in retail and are considering direct mail, if you don’t spend time coming up a “real” and “best” offer, please do not spend your money.

“The right offer should be so attractive that only a lunatic would say “No.” – Claude Hopkins

What’s in My Mailbox?

What’s in My Mailbox?

What is the current state of direct mail advertising today?  

Who is sending it? Is there a trend?  How are they doing? I’ll tell you!

My critique of actual daily mail received in my box.  I’m scoring it – Best possible score 100

The only thing that really matters in a direct mail piece is whether it was successful. Although I have no idea what kind of response most of this mail generates, my critique is based solely on proven direct marketing principles as well as my past experiences.  It is my personal opinion that any piece with a score over 70 is more than likely creating positive results for the mailer with 100 bringing in the best response available.

Date: 12/04/09 Amount of mail: 4 pieces / Standard Mail: 4 / First Class Mail: 0

         3 pieces addressed to my 18 year old daughter, 1 piece addressed to me

  1. Visible Changes Postcard, Size: 4 x 10 four colors (addressed to my daughter)

Score: 85 – The Direct Mail Coach         

Front side:  Collage of 15 photos (headshots) and text: Happy Birthday Wishes

Mail Panel side: Minimal text telling you exactly what to do.

Offer: Happy Birthday from Visible Changes. Bring card into Visible Changes for a free gift, Exp date: 1/31/2010

List: Customer list (my guess as my daughter is a customer)

Strong points: A quick glance and you know exactly what the offer is. Contains a reason to bring card in – FREE gift. Simple to the point design, good copy and the offer had no purchase qualifications or disclaimers.

Weak points: Daughter’s birthday was in October. Either this was a database problem or this was a second mailing. It is possible they resend the birthday cards to the people who have not claimed their gift.

 US Navy Self-mailer, 8 ½ x 14 folded, four colors (addressed to my daughter)

Score: 50– The Direct Mail Coach

Front side: Color photo of satellite dishes and a man in a hard hat. Text: “Some take technology for granted. Others take it to the extreme”

Mail Panel side: Blank with this text: “The education of a lifetime. Career opportunities in no time. Open and apply”. It also has a return address with no recognizable logo or name of who sent it.

Inside: When opened the inside contains a photo of electrical technician with text on the right hand side. The basic pitch claims that you can’t get a good job without an education so you should join the Navy. Joining the Navy you’ll have a good career with a purpose and you’ll get up to $70,000 toward a college degree. It also has a business reply card you can tear out and send in for more info.

Offer: A rewarding career with potently over $70,000 to use toward college degree

List: A prospect list – Age select and possibly other demographic selects.

Strong points: The personalized tear-out business reply card. They have also targeted the right demographics. Although it is impossible to tell who sent the mail and what the piece is about without opening it, the mailer will probably get opened. I assume this was by choice. If it is recognized as being from the Navy some may assume it is a recruiting piece and make a decision to toss it without opening it.

Weak points: The offer is vague.  “A college degree. Think of it as a benefit, not a requirement.” Copy is confusing and not focused.  A small paragraph at the bottom should have been the focal point as it reveals a more emotional and clear reason to consider the Navy.

  1. US Navy Self-mailer, 8 ½ x 14 folded, four colors (addressed to my daughter)

Score: 40 – The Direct Mail Coach

This was another exact duplicate of the mail piece above. The carrier name and address are exactly the same. I wonder how many duplicates they have unintentionally sent out. This could be costly. They should have processed their data to eliminate the duplications.  -10 points more for duplication

 The Houston Symphony Postcard, Size: 6 x 11 four colors (addressed to me)

Score: 75 – The Direct Mail Coach

Front side:  Santa photo and text: Concert info and text “Let the Houston Symphony bring joy to your world this holiday season”

Mail Panel side: Three individual photos and a lot of copy describing the event plus a few other upcoming shows.

Offer: Very Merry Pops (Christmas concert) Dec. 11, 12 & 13. Get tickets for as low as $29

List: Customer list (I have attended in the past)

Strong points: Targeted and very timely. Nice design, copy and layout.

 Weak points: No hard offer. No particular reason to bring card or refer to card when ordering tickets. Individual conductor’s photos not labeled.