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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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 Many are outdated email addresses plus many have multiple email addresses.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

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?

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

Direct Mail: It’s Not Rocket Science

This blog is written and focused specifically for the Retail Business Owner and/or those on their staff who handle the Advertising and Marketing. Why? Because this industry is the one I enjoy and know the best. I’ve spent over 20 years in the trenches working daily with many of the largest retailers in the county as well as countless independents, chains and mom & pop retail shops and services.

I’ve learned first-hand that direct mail is the most effective channel for customer acquisition and the best revenue generator for retailers. The national brands understand this and most use it very well. But many of the smaller chains and independents either don’t understand the power of direct mail, think it’s too expensive or don’t utilize it very effectively.

Another thing I’ve learned, over and over again in the retail industry is that “time is money”. My hope for this blog is that in a short time you may gain some useful tips or information that may help save some time & help you bring in revenue.

 Today’s topic:

 It’s not rocket science

  Yes, I’ll start with a few basic but very important secrets regarding direct mail for the retail industry.

 Secret #1 – It’s not rocket science!

Any successful retailer can do it

 This will upset many agencies and consultants but it’s my professional opinion that any successful retailer can do it..

 This blog is aimed at small to mid-sized retailers. Most successful retailers already possess the traits required execute a successful direct mail campaign. Don’t let the “advertising” mystic mislead you. Direct mail is not “brand awareness”, direct mail is not “image building” and direct mail is not “hard to understand”. It’s simple math.

 Direct Mail Marketing is

 NOT GENERAL ADVERTISING

This is why most agencies should not design your campaign.

IT IS NOT BRAND AWARNESS

IT IS NOT IMAGE BUILDING

IT SHOULD NOT DESIGNED BY COMMITTEE

IT IS NOT MASS ADVERTISING

 IT DOES NOT HAVE TO LOOK GOOD

IT DOES NOT NEED TO WIN AWARDS

IT JUST NEEDS TO WORK!

 Did you know that most of the “awards” presented to consultants or agencies in direct marketing are not even judged on how successful the mail piece was?

 Question to ask if someone shows or mentions an “award” that they have received for Direct Mail.

1.  How much money did it generate?

2. What was the response rate?

 If they can’t answer either one of these questions without any hesitation, do not do business with them.

 These are the only 2 THINGS THAT MATTER

 Revenue Generated and/or Response Rate

 It’s to the point. Its straight forward “Retail Basics” It’s about you creating “tractable” revenue into your store, website, mail box or home.

 If the mail piece did not make you money or if it did not generate the response you projected (Although money is #1 sometimes all you need is response, such as a “seminar, event or lead generation) it was not successful.

 Now lets discuss the basics.

I bet you have already handled a successful direct mail promotion.

 Don’t let anyone, a consultant, an agency, a vendor, or even a friend con you into thinking that direct mail marketing is too complicated or technical for you to do or coordinate yourself. If you are running a successful retail business you are best suited and most likely have already acquired the skills and processes that are required and needed in a successful mail program.

 Note that I said a “successful” retail business.  Unfortunately the majority of retailers who probably need this information the most will not ever read this. Many are just uncomfortable trying something new or even reviewing or learning if what they’re doing is on track.

 This is why I like retail. “Successful” retailers have learned to create the perfect blend of art and science. From purchasing a brand new and untried product from a “gut reaction” at the buyers market and then calculating and adding exactly the right mark up, knowing where and which shelf to place it on, setting up the display by the door to achieve the maximum exposure and knowing which of your customers will most likely buy it.

 So the transition to direct mail will be a natural one for you.

 The general consensus is that direct marketing can be boiled down to only three parts and in this order: The list, the offer and everything else. The success of your project is 40% List, 40% Offer and 20% everything else. I do subscribe to this theory as well however my belief is that the offer should be the number one priotity.

 1. The offer or event (What’s the benefit for you customers)

 2.  The list (Who to mail? Customers or Prospects?)

 3. The vehicle (Letter, postcard, self-mailer or e-mail)