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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
4 proven ways to improve your marketing R.O.I.
by Harvey Hirsch

1-Learn how to wield data
The days of static messages being mass mailed to untested lists are rapidly coming to a close. The mass communications theories of the 60's are being replaced with the personalization technology of the 21st Century. Savvy marketers are enjoying the benefits of parsing data to version messages and illustrative materials for these segmented prospects. This clever tactic insures that the right person now gets the best pitch with the right offers, in a specific time whether in print or on-line. It requires that data is collected, cleaned, massaged and deployed.

2-Learn the power of digital printing
With the evolution of high quality on-demand printing, the short run testing of variable messages is the most important step before rolling out any program. If done correctly, it will generate the attention necessary to drive prospect interest into the rest of the campaign. More importantly, it will become the force for successful marketing program roll outs. Here's why. Test, test, test, in short, economical runs. Test your lead-in pitch, test your appointment-setting pitch, test your sales close strategies, in short stop thinking big expensive mail drops versus short, targeted dynamic mailers. Get instant results and modify to fine tune each phase. Then test again.

3-Learn non-traditional ways to incorporate direct mail into your multi-media campaigns
The merging of specially crafted messages working as part of any interactive, multi-touch marketing process elevates the print portion to the most critical element. In most cases, the highest response producing media can be the one that approaches the prospect in the most dynamic way and print has proven itself time and again as that medium. With the average business recipient being overloaded with messages on a daily basis, a well-conceived mailer will encourage interaction and acceptance in most recipients. This is very critical in getting your message to the frontal cortex of your prospect and not being discarded. For effective assimilation of information to take place it must get the reader emotionally. Very few email blasts can do that. Print still has the power to move resistance in the receiver, if addressing the need of each recipient individually.

More importantly, it is vital that the direct mail piece generates interest in nano-seconds. In order for this to take place, you may have to get away from the traditional rectangle and employ a shaped postcard or dimensional product. With traditional mailing programs generating an average of .005%, a personalized shaped postcard (fig.1) or personalized dimensional package (fig 2) can harvest double digit responses. Again, the website featured in the piece should support the program in order to make the hand off complete. This may entail upgrading your website to incorporate short videos that can explain more about the benefits of your service or product.

4-Learn how 21st Century marketing strategies are being deployed, and emulate them
Attend the marketing seminars put out by your industry associations and listen to the experts. These professionals are sharing data culled from their experience and it will help you avoid pitfalls and poor launches for your programs and those of your clients. Read the books and articles by leading innovators in marketing to cull their experiences and replicate, in your own way, their process. Remember that marketing is not a one-shot process. Like branding and fishing, your hook must be in the water constantly in order to catch business.

OK, here's one more very important tip.

5-Learn to position yourself differently
This is the hardest part but can be the difference between success and failure. It's not easy thinking in non-traditional ways but in order to have your program stand out of the 3,500 daily messages your prospect receives you need to do more dynamic marketing. This also means that you have to re-think the way your media will reach the prospect and how much you will be willing to spend to get that contact. When putting a budget together, first define what the worth of a new customer is based on one-time sale, monthly activity or the life of that customer. If you can keep customers, what is the average spending per year? What would you be willing to spend in order to capture a new client? For instance, if a new client is worth $20k annually, with a gross profit of 40%, then, if you developed a program that would predictably deliver one new client appointment a week, it would be worth it to spend $10-12k on the program to develop it and $1k per week to maintain it. At the end of the year you would have generated around $1mm (if you closed every one) with a G.P. of $400k and a cost of approximately $60k. Not a bad R.O.I. and very attainable with the technologies currently available.

In today's over saturated marketing message environment, the current cost of generating a real lead is between $600 and $1,500 per and going up rapidly. The average direct mail response rate which for years hovered at of 1% has dropped significantly to 1/10th of 1% and in most cases, the mailing generated nothing. When you add up all of the costs associated with the 99.9% of the programs that fail to generate even a break-even return, short, targeted, personalized pitches stand out as more conservative to the accounting department and more dynamic to the marketers.

Your best opportunity to meet your next client is by letting them know what they are worth to you right up front.
I equate it to being able to take a potential client out for lunch and spending $100 to talk to them for an hour. Who wouldn't want to take that opportunity? You may never get that chance if you use legacy marketing strategies. These strategies, hatched in the 60's dictated that you get your static message out to as many people as possible for the lowest C.P.M. as possible and generate the national average (which in the 60's hovered around 2%). This is like going to s single's bar and winking at everybody hoping to get a date. You must start building dialog early in the relationship in order to build trust and than, need. All of your contact media must be part of the whole campaign. Websites designed 3 years ago are virtually obsolete now that bandwidth is wide enough to support streaming video and even interactive video. A good example is YouTube. This vast virtual storehouse of professional and not so professional video is a source for visual information as never before and captivates more watchers than any other site around. Make your site contain simple videos now and watch your analytics jump.

About the Author:
Harvey Hirsch is President and Creative Director of Direct Marketing agency, Media Consultants, located in Lyndhurst, NJ. With over 30 years experience utilizing Direct Mail for new business development programs, Hirsch, using 1:1 tactics has achieved documented response rates in the 80% range. In 2006, one of his programs received a First Place PIXI Award in Variable Marketing from Xerox and Best in Show from the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association. Hirsch is a sought after consultant/change agent for print providers, creative firms and B2B companies that must compete more effectively and transition into 1:1 marketers in this age of product and service commoditization. He can be reached at: harvey@mediaconsultants.net

Figure 1 Shaped Postcard
Here is an example of a shaped postcard that was used to encourage entries in an association awards show. Copy was changed depending which lead list was used in order to motivate the recipient to enter this NJ contest. Printed on a Kodak Nexpress, it generated an astounding 17% response over the previous year's mailing.



Fig 2 Personalized Dimensional mailer
This multi-piece personalized mailer featured 7 die-cut fish (each with a personal message imbedded on them), a hand-folded and personalized origami fish nestled in a personalized coral reef placed within an A-7 metallic paper envelope with a package of Goldfish crackers with a tiny personalized fish was attached, all assembled into a 10x12x3 clay coated corrugated mailer which was personalized and mailed using USPS tracking for delivery confirmation. This package built instant recognition and allowed efficient sales follow up phone calls by regional sales representatives. Elements were printed on a XEROX iGen3 and generated a 50% response rate out of 100 targeted boxes. Then everything was re-written and used as a press kit for media involvement.

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