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.

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

Social Networking is Not Advertising

 I was talking to an owner of a remodeling company recently. He informed me that he wasn’t interested in direct mail advertising.

Well, I asked, “How do you find new prospects and bring them through your door?”

 He said he uses social networking cause it’s basically free. He then explained how he focuses most his attention on Facebook. He told me he also uses search engine optimization.

 “You see, the leads are very hot when I get them. When someone is actually searching on google for a remodeling company they are probably ready to buy at the time”, he said.

 Well, I agreed with him and complemented him on his commitment to social networking and added that everyone should be as involved with this as he is.

But then I told him he still hasn’t answer my question. “How do you find new prospects and bring them through your door?”

He said, “I just told you.”

 “Well, social networking is not advertising and it’s not really free.”

I replied. 

He wanted me to explain.

“Does the social networking that you are doing take some time and commitment?”

“Well yes,” he paused and continued,

“It does take some effort to keep it up, but it’s doesn’t cost me anything.”

 I ask him who does this for him. He said e he use to do it himself but since he is out on jobs a lot, he decided to hire a part time student this year to focus on it. He told me her name was Ashley and that she’ll be working through August.

“Does she work for free?” I asked.

“Well no, not really but she doesn’t cost me too much.” He replied.

 We talked a little about Google and specific word searches such as “remodeling” “home improvement” & “renovation”. He admitted that the words do cost money per click but again it’s not all that much.

 Then he smiles and said, “Well, ok I see your point; yes, it’s not really free, yes it does require some investment in money and time.”

 “Ok, now let’s talk about finding new prospects and bringing them in.” I said.

I proceeded to ask him questions about his business and found out that although he will work anywhere in the city, his top customers are from specific neighborhoods.

I said ok; let’s narrow this down to your top neighborhoods.

Let’s say someone in one of those specific neighborhoods decides to remodel his or her kitchen. Most likely they will discuss the idea for a while. They will probably even discuss this with friends or neighbors. They may also get or ask for recommendations.

This may be good for your business or not. It depends on whom they are talking too. If they don’t know of anyone they will most likely will research it online. This is good, as you may now come up as a possibility. But keep in mind that while they search they will be looking at many different companies & websites as well as researching and reading reviews. They will also be comparing your services, capabilities and pricing etc.

If they do review your site and like what they see, you may actually get a phone call or an email.

And when you do;

How many of are actually in your areas or preferred neighborhoods?

How many are asking for services or capabilities you do not provide or want to offer?

How many are actually just getting another “estimate”?

Or in a nutshell, are all the leads qualified?

This is like having a storefront with a flashing sign that say’s “Here I am! I’m open” This is great for potential customers that are ready to buy now.  They are making their decision quickly and will need to be able to find you easily.

But what about creating new prospects and bringing them right to you?

This is what Direct Mail can do for you.

Consider this:

 What if you could talk to the just the right homeowners in your specific top neighborhoods?

What if you knew age of the home, the square footage of home, the homeowner’s income level, or length of residence?

What if you knew whether they were married or single or if they had children and what their ages were?

What if you knew which home had empty nesters or which homes had a young couple expecting their first child? 

With direct mail you can get in touch with and “start a relationship” with the specific prospects that are most likely to use or need your services in the future.

Yes, it’s pretty powerful information and you can make the first connection to them, before they are researching online and price shopping.

What if you suggested a kitchen makeover to selected homes, which featured a testimonial telling the positive and wonderful benefits of a new kitchen? And what if that testimonial was from someone actually in the area? 

What if you followed up with more mailings thought out the year featuring ideas on updating bathrooms, how to fix broken tiles, or the top 10 reasons it might be time to remodel?

Now, when this homeowner does decide to remodel, who do you think he is going to call? A company he found on Facebook or the company who actually initiated his desire to remodel and someone he now feels he knows?

Direct Mail is the Workhorse of Advertising

Workhorse – (wûrk’hôrs’)

1. A horse used for plowing, hauling, and other heavy labor, as distinguished from a riding horse, racehorse, etc.

2. A person, who works tirelessly at a task, assumes extra duties, etc.

 Direct mail is advertising’s “workhorse” and will be around a long time. It’s used for prospecting, customer retention, invoicing and heavy lifting such as revenue generation & sales. Direct Mail is actually more related to Sales than Marketing.

 Other than a face-to-face meeting, there are very few connections more valuable than getting a “tangible object” with your “pitch” literally in your customer’s hands in the comfort and privacy of their home or office.

 Don’t confuse direct mail as a “riding horse” or “racehorse” when it comes to advertising.  Email and even Facebook, twitter, or mobile may indeed be worth gambling on but for actual sales, and other heavy tasks such as seminars, conventions & events bet on the Workhorse, Direct Mail.

What’s in My Mail Box?

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: 12/05/09 Amount of mail: 4 pieces / Standard Mail: 2 / First Class Mail: 2

          1 piece addressed to me, 2 pieces addressed to my wife, 1 piece addressed to my daughter

  1. The Houston Symphony Postcard, Size: 6 x 11 four colors (addressed to my wife)

Score: 90 – The Direct Mail Coach

Front side:  Stained glass photo and text: Concert info and text “Feed your soul through this transcendent experience of text and music”

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

Offer: Handel’s Messiah in Candlelight (Christmas concert) Dec. 18, 19 & 20. Get tickets for as low as $25

List: Customer list (she has attended in the past)

 Strong points: Targeted and very timely. Nice design, copy and layout. Second Symphony postcard in 2 days.  One addressed to me yesterday and then today a different one addressed to my wife, well done.

Weak points: No hard offer. No particular reason to bring card or refer to card when ordering tickets.

  1. Syracuse University #10 packager, 8 ½ x 11 in window envelope (addressed to my daughter)

Score: 90– The Direct Mail Coach

 

 Envelope: #10 white window with Syracuse University logo and return address

 Letter: Laser letter on letterhead from the Dean of Admissions

 Offer: An acknowledgement of inquiry and an invitation for visit, personal interview and lunch with a current student and/or faculty member. Personal access number for events

 List: A prospect list – she had filled out an inquiry sheet at high school on college night

 Strong points: Letter from Dean of Admissions showing interest and encouraging more contact. Well-written letter highlights a few graduates by their occupations, current Vice President, inventor of 1st artificial heart, founder of Goldman Sachs and a few others. Letter also provides an “access orange” number for admission events.

 Weak points: No Postscript, no hard offer

FIRST CLASS MAIL – personal mail not reviewed

 Netflix DVD mailing

 Financial Company Statement

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.