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Carpe DM!

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By Alan Rosenspan, President, Alan Rosenspan & Associates

Remember how much direct mail you used to receive?

How much time it took you to sort through it, see what was interesting or relevant, and select the envelopes you wanted to open?

Not anymore.

Direct mail volume is down significantly in the last quarter of 2008, and the first two quarters of 2009 - and it doesn't look to improve any time soon. 

The USPS® admits that volume is down 20% - but I think it's much, much higher. Plus it seems very few companies are investing in larger size or dimensional packages.

Which means now is a great time to send out direct mail for your company!

There's less competition, less clutter in the mailbox, and less likely for your direct mail to be lost in the shuffle. 

In a recent article in The New Yorker, James Suroweicki wrote about the real recession. 

"In the late nineteen twenties, two companies - Kellogg and Post - dominated the market for packaged cereal. When the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. 

"Post did the predictable thing: it reigned in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. 

"By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg's profits had risen almost thirty percent and it had become what it remains today: the industry's dominant player."

As you know, Carpe Diem is Latin for "Seize the Day." Today, it's "Carpe DM!"

You can take advantage of this historic opportunity - to use direct mail to reach more prospects, gain more customers, and get a better response than ever before.

Now is the time to increase your direct marketing initiatives with a fresh, targeted mailing list. Click here for a FREE list count!

---Source: Alan Rosenspan is an internationally renowned direct marketing expert and president of Alan Rosenspan & Associates. He has written over 100 articles for direct marketing publications around the world, which can be found at www.alanrosenspan.com. Email him at ARosenspan@aol.com.

How to Deal with "Do Not Mail" Mania

By PostCom, Association for Postal Commerce

These days in the mailing industry undoubtedly are not the best of times. They may not be the worst either, but they certainly are challenging. For the past three years, those who use mail for business communication and commerce have had to deal with unrelenting attacks by self-styled critics of our industry and practices who are relentlessly pursuing state and federal legislation that would stringently limit your ability to use mail within your business.

These critics come in various guises. The most common centers on their "concern" over the environmental impact of mail. According to the stories they tell, anyone who uses mail within their business is guilty of destroying the world's forests, polluting our air and water, overfilling our landfills, and just about every other nasty behavior one can imagine.

In making their claims, they claim to offer "facts." What they offer instead are lies, myths, and the sharing of a general ignorance of who uses mail, the purposes for which it is used, the environmentally sound aspects of doing business by mail, and just about every other of the common sense and good economic reasons why the establishment and maintenance of a universal mail delivery system has been a hallmark of every country around the world.
Below are a set of links to help your business and foster our common goals of preserving and promoting the use of the mail for business communication and commerce.

The materials include model letters you can revise as you see fit to tell your employees and advertisers about the value of the mail and your response to junk mail attacks. There are also letters to the media and any group that is out to destroy your business by funding or supporting antimail legislation or negative consumer attitudes. There are fact sheets you can use on your company website, or otherwise, about the benefits of mail, and the real impact of ad mail on the environment.

Links to Important Information You Can Use

Start By Doing Homework At Home (Getting your employees informed and involved. A sample letter.)
Taking The Lies Head On (A sample letter.)
People In Glass Houses Should Never Throw Stones (Educate Your Environmental Colleagues. A sample letter.)
Working Effectively And Honestly With The Media (An excellent guide produced by media consultant Peter Miller.)
---Source: PostCom (http://postcom.org/eco/do.not.mail.mania.htm).

5 Tips for Efficient Holiday Shipping

By Rick Rover, senior vp of operations, Streamlite

When customers open their holiday purchases this year, most won't think about the supply chains that produced and delivered their gifts. But, those of us in logistics know that the impact of efficient product flow and management--from manufacturing to delivery--is more important than ever during the holiday season.

The cost of satisfying an unhappy customer is far more expensive than the original product cost or associated shipping cost. Failing to deliver on a promise can lead to a loss in consumer loyalty, and the chatter of disappointed customers via social media and other channels can be damaging to your brand. 

What's more, satisfying a customer whose shipment has been lost or damaged often means reshipping the item. Having to reship an order in June means added costs; in December, it can mean survival. Simply put, it costs less to do the job right the first time.

With that in mind, here are five tips to prepare for an efficient holiday shipping season:

1. Look for delivery partners that can customize services.
The holidays stress the system: Increases in order volume; unpredictable consumer spending; reactionary inventory strategies; inclement weather; and, sometimes complex end-consumer delivery, all have the potential to diminish efficiency. Keep things running smoothly by partnering with your providers to customize service offerings. 

For instance, you can increase efficiency by sharing processes and eliminating redundancies. If you weigh packages prior to shipping and your delivery partners weigh the packages again, unnecessary work results. Integrate with your carriers to ensure labeling, weighing, and other processes are being done by just one party.

You may also want to customize physical pick-ups to increase efficiency. Consider asking your delivery partners: Can we schedule extra shifts? Implement weekend pick-ups? Stage trailers on our docks? A good delivery partner should have the flexibility to customize procedures that meet your company's needs.

2. Talk to your delivery partners early and often.
Capacity becomes a real issue during the holidays, and with the capacity reductions resulting from the recession, this year could be even tougher. Carriers will often protect capacity for their regular high-volume customers. 

For this reason, many companies begin projecting holiday volumes as early as the third quarter so they can reserve space with their delivery partners. The sooner companies reserve their projected volumes, the better.

Beyond confirming capacity, be sure to leave the dialog open throughout the shipping process. Schedule weekly calls with your delivery partners, and increase frequency to daily calls toward the end of November and beginning of December. Conversations must continue--even after orders are placed and shipped. 

Communicate with your partners when things are going well, and especially if you encounter delivery problems. Merchants and their delivery partners must work seamlessly for customers' interests to prevent a loss in consumer loyalty and the associated revenue. 

3. Make sure the box fits the product.
As simple as it sounds, we often see retailers become so busy during the holidays that they grab the nearest box available instead of the right box for a given product. We've seen a flash drive in a box large enough to fit a basketball, and one pair of shoes placed in a box that could fit four. 

This is a costly mistake, as big boxes may ship at the dimensional weight rate instead of the actual weight, adding unnecessary costs to the transportation and delivery end of the supply chain. (And, with both FedEx and UPS changing the dimensional weight factor early next year, you can't afford to be careless here.) Monitor your production line, and quality check along the way to ensure the product/package combinations are appropriate. 

4. Work with your delivery providers to ensure the shipping process is transparent.
Supply chain visibility is key--especially for retailers and their customers during the holidays. If merchandise is out of stock, knowing when additional inventory is expected to arrive enables retailers to tell shoppers when to return. 

Visibility also lets consumers to track the delivery progress of packages, limiting the number of customer service concerns and reshipments. Select delivery partners that provide tracking and visibility to reduce costs and increase customer service scores and perceptions.

5. More equipment doesn't necessarily mean higher efficiency.
During the holiday season, retailers can run behind on production schedules and request more trucks to be staged on their docks. But, more trucks on your dock mean fewer trucks on the road. 

It's best to work with the number of trucks you originally requested rather than asking for more. Unnecessarily increasing equipment needs strains the system and slows delivery.

With these tips in mind, let's kick off a happy, healthy, and efficient holiday shipping season.

---Source: MCM Weekly Nov. 8, 2010 (www.multichannelmerchant.com). Rick Rover is senior vice president of operations for lightweight package delivery provider Streamlite and cofounder/designer of Streamlite's national distribution network.

4 List Hygiene Best Practices

By Karen J. Bannan, freelance writer & editor

List hygiene has been a concern as long as email marketing has been around, and the basics are just that--basic. Opt-outs and opt-ins should be processed quickly, while internal lists should be synchronized so you don't miss anyone and risk a spam complaint. Inactive addresses or those that are hard or soft bounces, should be suppressed and possibly appended, while risky addresses--for example, sales@domain.com or spam@domain.com--should be removed immediately. But, there's more to list management than the basics, said Bryce Marshall, director of strategic services for direct digital marketing company marketing firm Knotice. Here are four often-overlooked list hygiene tips to incorporate into your existing best practices. 

1. Don't overlook the new employee. Salespeople often bring their own contacts and email lists to a new job, which is a good thing, of course. However, unless you integrate a new employee's list with your own, you may end up inadvertently contacting someone who has opted-out, or emailing a contact the same marketing message more than once.

"You need to treat it like any other data source," Marshall said. "It's incumbent on any organization to review [a new employee's] list, and make sure [there are] no conflicts or overlaps with internal data. You don't want that salesperson to be firing off to his list when a mass campaign is going out to the same data source."

Of course, let that salesperson make contact first, letting his or her sources know that he or she has moved, and they will be receiving messages from your brand or company, Marshall said.

2. Do due diligence on a rented list. Any company that rents you a list should check your house list against their rented list to make sure they won't be emailing someone who has already opted out. Even if that person has given the list rental service permission to email, you'll want to respect their wishes when it comes to your brand or company, Marshall said. "The process should be part of the cost, and any good provider will do this automatically."

3. Mesh sales cycles with list hygiene efforts. How often do you refresh data and perform list maintenance? While once a month is probably best for most companies, Marshall said, data and list management should reflect your sales cycle. "If your sales cycle is every 12 months, the data refresh isn't going to have to happen as often as a company that has customers with needs that change frequently," he said. "Your data should always reflect the current state of the customer relationship, so you should update your lists as often as you update your products."

4. Bring every employee and department into the hygiene process. Companies--especially those that use outsourced customer service or contract salespeople--must scrub lists often, making sure changes and requests, as well as customer additions that happen externally, show up on internal marketing lists. This is why a formal CRM program can often save time and money. "You should have a centralized process to manage email opt-outs and additions, and make sure every contract and on-staff employee understands that it's their responsibility to interact with the CRM application, and make changes as they happen," Marshall said. "It's all about having a global, as well as a local view of the customer."

---Source: BtoB Marketing Magazine June 17, 2010 (www.btobonline.com). Karen J. Bannan is a full time freelance writer and editor. Reach her at kb@karenwriter.com.

Direct Mail Gains New Potency as Online Marketing Evolves

Andy Cutler, chief strategy officer, Mercury121

In the early days of Web marketing, the promise of the new channel's potential was over-the-top. In fact, many optimists argued that, in the future, the Web and e-mail were going to make direct mail obsolete. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the Web. Not surprisingly, the reality did not live up to the hype. When it was time to measure campaign successes, these marketing pioneers' lack of online direct marketing experience added up to some pretty disappointing results. How were they to know it would be better to target their messages? 

If this idea is news to any online marketers today, beware, history has shown that sending generalized mass e-mails is not the approach for maximum results. Marketers have also discovered that traditional direct mail is still a viable tool. 

No doubt, the rush to the Web has had a significant effect on direct mail: Volumes have dropped dramatically over the last decade. This has been painful for those of us on the service side of the business--not to mention for the US Postal Service®--but, it has created an opportunity for our clients. Because each mail piece is not competing with as many other pieces in the mailbox, response rates are climbing. At the same time, e-mail response rates are declining, due to overuse.

A retail client of ours just finished analyzing marketing performance of direct mail, e-mail, and in-store promotions. Direct mail is the best performer: Up 150 percent vs. last year, with no significant changes in strategy. So, the so-called obsolete channel is now outperforming the cheaper, digital channels, including social media.

Direct mail continues to be a very viable channel, but only if the direct marketing fundamentals are applied. Improving the levels of both personalization and relevance is the only way to increase response rates. Targeting needs to be at the core of each effort. The technology exists, and it is up to marketers to use their know-how and the technology tools available to their advantage. It would be a mistake for marketers to give up on direct mail. Instead, they should analyze data to learn how and when to use direct mail in combination with digital. Those who keep it in the mix and ramp up the relevancy will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

---Source: DMNews Nov. 1, 2010 (www.dmnews.com). 

Postcard Marketing: Top 5 Goals of Direct Mail Postcards

By Jeffrey Dobkin, marketing consultant, author, and professional speaker

Here's why I like postcard marketing campaigns: Short, crisp, and to the point, direct mail postcards are one of the fastest and lowest cost ways to make your phone ring.

Postcards are not necessarily a good marketing campaign for the straight-up, out-and-out closing of a sale, but if created correctly, direct mail postcards can be great for pre-selling products and services, building brand awareness, and creating customer loyalty. And, of course, I saved the best for last: Postcards are the most efficient and excellent direct mail advertising vehicles for generating phone calls. 

A postcard direct mail campaign can make your phone ring off the hook with compelling headlines, smooth transitions, charming copywriting, lively graphics, an irresistible offer, and a solid call to action. Even further: A series of direct mail post cards can receive an explosive response, build customer loyalty, and stimulate brand awareness. Yet, postcards remain one the easiest to manage direct mail marketing campaigns.

Even though postcards aren't the best for closing sales because of their short format and open architecture (no one can enclose a check to pay for an order or write a credit card number), response can still be quite high. Here are several important goals of using postcards in any direct mail marketing campaign.

1. Generate phone calls. 
The number one objective of most postcard marketing campaigns is to generate a phone call. Ninety percent of the postcards I create for clients are written to fulfill this single objective: Make the phone ring. 

The way to make the phone ring is very straightforward in this short postcard format: Offer something for FREE and ask for the phone call several times on the card. "Call for FREE information!" or "Call for FREE review! Call for free analysis. Call for our FREE booklet. Call for FREE quote. Call for..." well, you get the idea. Ask readers to call you enough and they will. Every time a reader calls, you have the opportunity to provide better service and increase client loyalty and longevity. And, oh, yeah...did I mention increase sales and revenue? Yeah, you can do that, too. Did you notice I said YOU do that? Your postcard doesn't do that, YOU do that. The postcard generates the call, but YOU make the sale.

2. Build brand awareness. 
The other 10 percent of the postcards I create build brand. By mailing postcards frequently, you can stay in the top of your client's and prospect's minds. So, when your clients need anything that relates to your business--whatever you're selling--they immediately think of you, and call you first. 

3. Create instant success. 
Postcards can generate immediate response if your offer touches a timely trigger point. Figure out what your prospect's immediate need is and address that in your card. Then, ask for the call--what else?

4. Build relationships. 
Sure, you can--it's easy! But, not with a single postcard. You need to create this direct mail marketing campaign over time, with a series of postcards. Mailing postcards every two weeks is ideal. Even if you did this for an entire year, the total cost would be only ($.50 x 26 =) $13 dollars for the whole year. The key to success? Your list, relevancy, and your offer. 

5. Don't sell your product. 
The final objective is to realize that you don't need to sell your product from the post card. That's right--don't sell your product--but, you do generate phone calls and inquiries. Then, when the person calls, YOU sell your product or service. Now, you see how it's much easier to achieve your goal (generating a phone call) with your direct mail postcard, than getting an order: To actually make someone put money into an envelope and wave goodbye to it.

And, since postcards are easy to handle, postcards are so much less work than other direct mail marketing campaigns which consist of letters, brochures, or anything that needs to be placed in an envelope--folded or stapled. So, much less fuss and muss--just address and mail. Postcards are easy. These are the "goals" and objectives of your postcard marketing campaign.

Stay tuned for future postcard articles by Jeffery Dobkin!

---Source: Jeffery Dobkin (jeff@dobkin.com) is a marketing consultant, speaker, and writer who has written more than 250 articles and five books on direct marketing. Call for his free instructional booklet of direct marketing tips: 610/642-1000 or visit his Web site at www.danielleadams.com. 

What About Mail?

By Susan Plonkey, VP of Sales, USPS®

As marketing budgets improve, now is the time to add mail to the mix.

The nation's economy continues to gain strength, and we're seeing marketing budgets start to rebound. That's good news for us all.

As you plan where to allocate these increased dollars, don't overlook direct mail. There's no other marketing channel that's as highly targeted, incredibly impactful, and offers such a strong ROI.

Studies consistently show that direct mail has a significant impact on sales and revenue--whether used alone or in combination with other marketing channels.

Our own research shows 79 percent of all households read or scan the direct mail they receive. Other studies demonstrate that more than three-quarters of Internet users say direct mail influenced them to buy something online. And, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) calculates that direct mail returns an impressive $12.53 for every dollar invested in it.

We recently had the opportunity to witness the power of mail as part of our efforts to promote Priority Mail® Flat Rate Boxes. You may have seen our ads, which feature a mail carrier informing businesses and consumers -- and in one case, a family with a very eerie clown doll -- that they can save time and money by using Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes for their shipping. The campaign included television spots, print ads, online advertising, and of course, direct mail.

It's done a great job of creating interest in the boxes and making the tagline "If it fits, it ships" part of the vernacular. More than that though, the campaign has generated a significant increase in the use of Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and brought increased revenue to the U.S. Postal Service®. And, while each of the channels we used had an impact on the overall return of the program, mail had the biggest. In fact, direct mail was responsible for 35 percent of all the leads the campaign generated.

That's just one more example of the influence that mail can have when it's part of an integrated marketing strategy.

I hope the economy continues to recover and marketers get more dollars with which to promote their companies.

But, as you make your own marketing decisions, I'd urge you to ask yourself: What about mail? Doing so may lead you to add a channel to your marketing that can help drive sales and revenue.

---Source: Deliver® Magazine Aug. 2010 newsletter (www.delivermagazine.com). Deliver Magazine is trademarked by the USPS.

How to Successfully Use Deck Cards

By Craig Huey, president of Creative Direct Marketing Group

They arrive in the mail and, because of their large bulk, always stand out.

A card deck is a package of individual cards wrapped together and mailed to either a business or consumer. These decks vary in quantity, often containing up to 60 cards or more, each competing for the prospect's attention.

One way to boost response--guaranteed
Most card decks will generate leads. However, you can increase your response by being generous with your premium, free report, or sample. 

The greater the perceived value of the free offer, the greater the response.

And, the closer your premium is to what you're selling, the more qualified the lead. For example, a free report on artificial computer intelligence to those working in the field will produce more qualified leads than a free watch. However, if you offer more information than a free report of interest to the prospect, your response will decline.

Sometimes, a deck mailing can actually sell a product. If it's a product that's low in cost, or your prospect already knows you or the product, it can work. But, it's harder than generating a lead.

There are many card deck mailings in America today. And, some deck mailings are smashing successes.

What type of response rates?
Response rates on deck mailings usually range from 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent for lead generation, and less for a sale.

Few marketers find that they can live off returns as low as these. But, some companies find it a cost-effective marketing medium that complements their other activities.

7 key principles to success
Here are some key principles that should help you successfully use this medium.

1. As with other direct mail, who is the deck card being mailed to? This is 60 percent to 70 percent of the success or failure of the program.

Have you targeted your prospects properly? Are they direct-mail responsive? Are they recent names or old names? Some deck promoters throw together names that sound good, but turn out to be bad lists.

2. Investigate how many repeat users there are. Not just two or three times. But, three or more. And, make sure they aren't just per-inquiry arrangements.

3. Remember that the typical recipient of a card deck mailing will only spend about 60 seconds--total--in perusing the material. As he flips through the cards, you have no more than 1-2 seconds to grab his attention.

That means you must have a simple, powerful headline. Clearly and concisely state a benefit to the reader. Make sure you cause him or her to pause and hold the card. Create a desire to read the copy.

This headline can make or break your promotion. Once you locate the right potential buyer, the headline is the next most important item.

4. To grab attention, use a bright color or four-color piece. Studies show color can increase response by as much as 20 percent, when used properly.

5. Your copy should be in an easy-to-read bullet format. Make sure your offer can be clearly understood.

Don't try to over-elaborate the body copy on any other service. Only focus on what the headline says. If you're generating a lead, make sure your focus is on the premium or free report, not your product.

And, if you're selling a product, make sure the focus is only on a few key benefits.

6. Your call-to-action must be clear. Tell the prospect what you want him to do. Create a tension that demands immediate reaction. Your offer should let your prospect know that he will suffer a lost opportunity, lose business to a competitor, have to pay more, or something else that forces instant action. 

Give your prospect a reason to act immediately.

7. Always code your response and test. Some card decks allow you to split-test a card.

Just as with any other direct response campaign, keep an accurate record of the results and always work towards improving your response.

Card decks can be profitable. Test them if you have a truly targeted, superior list. One of the safest card deck mailings is to active magazine subscriber lists.

Avoid attached decks (where cards are connected), because they are hard to read and yield fewer responses.

And, consider experimenting with printing your own small insert that's placed in a card deck. Specially prepared inserts stand out nicely. Plus, you can have far greater room for copy--the lack of which is a major reason the card deck response is so low. You can't say enough to activate a qualified response.

One interesting development may be a hybrid card deck mailing. The Investors Club mailed 100,000 top investors a 13½" x 10¼" card deck with editorial to increase readership. It produced a higher return because of the extra room for copy.

Card deck mailings will be with us for a long time, although postal increases cause declines in card deck mailings for marginal users.

Consider a card deck mailing for your next campaign.

---Source: Craig Huey is the president of Creative Direct Marketing Group (CDMG), a direct response agency. Reach him at craig@cdmginc.com or 310-212-5727.
 

7 Reasons Print Will Make a Comeback in 2011

By Joe Pulizzi, founder of Junta42 & Content Marketing Institute

Print can still play an important role in your overall content marketing mix.

Okay...there, I said it.

You'll find no greater supporter of online content marketing than me, but marketers and agencies are talking up print for 2011. Yes, in the era of iPads and Apps, there is still a role for print.

Jeff Jarvis recently wrote about how media companies need to ignore print.

"The physical costs of production and distribution are killing. The marketing cost of subscriber acquisition and churn are hellish."

He's right. And, if you are a media company that relies on most of your revenue for print, you need to post Jeff's article on your forehead.

But, if you are a corporate marketer, there is an opportunity here. Here's why:

1. Getting Attention
Have you noticed how many fewer magazines and print newsletters you are getting in the mail these days? I don't know about you, but I definitely pay more attention to my print mail. There's just less mail, so more attention is paid to each piece. Opportunity? Less traditional publishers are printing magazines today, which leaves opportunities for content marketers.

2. The Focus on Customer Retention
In a soon-to-be-released research study conducted by Junta42 and MarketingProfs, customer retention was the most important goal for marketers when it came to content marketing outside of basic brand awareness. Historically, the reason why custom print magazines and newsletters were developed by brands was for customer retention purposes. We have a winner!

3. No Audience Development Costs 
Publishers expend huge amounts of time and money qualifying subscribers to send out their magazines. Many times, publishers need to invest multiple dollars per subscriber, per year, for auditing purposes (They send direct mail, they call, they call again, so that the magazine can say that their subscribers have requested the magazine. This is true for controlled (free) trade magazines). 

So, let's say, a publisher's cost per subscriber per year is $2, and their distribution is 100,000. That's $200,000 per year for audience development. 

That's a cost that marketers don't have to worry about. If marketers want to distribute a magazine to their customers, they just use their customer mailing list. That's a big advantage.

4. What's Old Is New Again
Social media, online content, and iPad applications are all part of the marketing mix today. Still, what excites marketers and media buyers is what is NOT being done. They want to do something different. Something new. It's hard to believe, but I've heard many marketers talk about leveraging print as something new in their marketing mix. Unbelievable.

5. Customers Still Need to Ask Questions
We love the Internet because buyers can find answers to almost anything. But, where do we go to think about what questions we should be asking? I talked to a publisher last week who said this:

"The Web is where we go to get answers, but print is where we go to ask questions."

The print vehicle is still the best medium on the planet for thinking outside the box and asking yourself tough questions based on what you read. It's lean back versus lean forward. If you want to challenge your customers (like Harvard Business Review does), print is a viable option.

6. Print Still Excites People
I talked to a journalist recently who said it's harder and harder to get people to agree to an interview for an online story. But, mention that it will be a printed feature, and executives rearrange their schedule. The printed word is still perceived as more credible to many people than anything on the Web. It goes to the old adage, "If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important."

Whether that's true or not, that is still a widely-held perception. 

7. Unplug
More and more people are actively choosing to unplug or disconnect themselves from digital media. I'm doing this more myself. I'm finding myself turning off my phone and email more to engage with printed material. A year ago, I didn't see this coming. Today, I relish the opportunities when I can't be reached for comment. 

If I'm right, many of your customers (especially busy executives) are feeling the same. Your print communication may be just what they need. 

Online content marketing is definitely here to stay. Yes to social media, apps, and the rest of it. But, don't forget that print can still play an important role in your overall content marketing mix.

---Source: The Media Minute Aug. 30, 2010 newsletter (www.themediaminute.com). Joe Pulizzi is an author, speaker, and evangelist for content marketing. You can follow Joe at his blog at http://blog.junta42.com/.

Yogi Berra's 10 Wacky (but Wise) Tips on Direct Marketing

By Dean Rieck, direct mail copywriter

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra is a 15-time All Star. He won the American League Most Valuable Player award three times, played in 14 World Series, and set a number of baseball records--any one of which would assure a lifetime of fame and fortune for most people. 

But, what is Yogi best known for? His slips of the tongue. Which is understandable, if you go around saying things like, "It's déjà vu all over again!" and, "I'm as red as a sheet."

On the surface, his off-kilter pronouncements are just amusing mistakes. But, look a little deeper, and you will find profound lessons. Here are a few of my favorite Yogi-isms and my admittedly liberal interpretations for direct marketing. 
1. "We made too many wrong mistakes." Do you think Edison invented the modern light bulb on the first try? He endured failure after failure before arriving at the solution. But, his mistakes were "right" mistakes. Each taught him something and brought him closer to his goal. If you're not making lots of mistakes, you're not learning anything.
2. "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore." People aren't logical about the way they perceive money and value. That means you have to test not just prices, but price presentations. Which is best, $24 per year or $2 per issue? How about $7.50 per month or 25¢ per day? I recently had success presenting a $149.95 a month Internet service as "less than 1/2¢ per minute."
3. "Slump? I ain't in no slump ... I just ain't hitting." Sometimes, things just don't go the way you plan. A test flops. Sales fall. And, you just can't explain it. Usually, it's temporary. The point is, don't panic and change your entire marketing strategy based on short-term results. And, never, ever discard a control, until you have something that tests better.
4. "Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel." When you get right down to it, an envelope is nothing more than a container for printed matter. It carries your message to the destination and then gets ripped open. So, while it can be a four-color masterpiece, it doesn't have to be. Many times a plain old #10 is all you need.
5. "We're lost, but we're making good time." Never confuse activity with progress. You need to map out a measurable strategy before launching any direct marketing campaign. And, you need to execute your strategy carefully and methodically. If all you're doing is slapping together one promotion after another, you'll get nowhere fast.
6. "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." There's no substitute for experience, expertise, or talent. If you don't know what you're doing, you won't solve any problems by producing carbon copies of your competitors' promotions.
7. "Ninety percent of the game is half mental." I'm forever amazed at how little thought people put into the creative process. Personally, I spend at least half of any given project on gathering information and brainstorming. When you think things through first, copy and design are a lot easier and usually far more successful. (See the Universal Advertising and Marketing Questionnaire in my Learning Center.)
8. "I wish I had an answer to that, because I'm tired of answering that question." Your customers know the difference between B.S. and information. So, don't try to shovel a pile of one to cover up for a lack of the other. Give details. Answer questions and objections. Provide a means for customers to easily find out more (a website is good for this.) People often make buying decisions based on a single feature.
9. "You can observe a lot by watching." Look at the numbers. Do surveys. Run focus groups. Talk to your phone operators. Your customers will tell you everything you need to know if you just open your eyes and ears.
10. "It ain't over till it's over." You can guess, and estimate, and reason, and calculate, but you really don't know anything until you run a test. If there's one thing that's for sure in direct marketing, it's that nothing is for sure. 
Of course, Yogi also said, "I really didn't say everything I said." Maybe. But, who cares? Coming from anyone else, quotes like "Pair up in threes" or, "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four," would seem stupid. Coming from Yogi, it's pure gold.

Want to read more of Yogi's gems? I've collected a few in Deep Thoughts from the Yogi.

---Source: Dean Rieck is considered one of America's top direct marketing copywriters and is one of a handful of people who thinks Yogi Berra makes perfect sense. To make sense of this crazy economy, ask for Dean's free white paper, Getting Response in a Down Economy: 4 Key Principles to Boost Your Direct Mail Profits in Today's Difficult Market.

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