Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jobs with Long Vacations

Serious marketers be fore-warned! I'm veering WAY off my normal direct marketing topics today.

I have the mid-Summer blues. Too much work; too much worrying about this dreadful economy; not enough fun. So, when the leading headline on my Yahoo home-page was: Jobs with Long Vacations, I just had to read more.

To set the stage and, possibly, to get you more disgruntled and stir-crazy:
"Compared with workers in other countries, Americans work too much. We take little time off for rest and pleasure. More than half of us don't use any vacation time at all, adding up to more than 421 million unused vacation days a year. We're workaholics.

Most Americans only earn on average 14 vacation days a year, compared with our Italian counterparts (42 days a year), the French (37), Germans (35), and Canadians (26). Even the Japanese--long considered the most over-worked people on Earth--average 25 vacation days a year. No wonder American job burnout is common from coast to coast."

So, what are the five miracle jobs that can save us from our workaholic state, those with the most time off?

  1. Teachers and School Administrators. OK, I can buy that. But, after months of dealing with screaming brats, they need the rest, right?
  2. Holistic Health Professionals. Such as massage therapists. Hmmm. Not for me--too touchy-feely.
  3. Freelance Game Designer. Oh, if only I were so technical, and imaginative. I think I'm too old to learn these new tricks. Darn.
  4. Convention and Tourism Planner. Now this one sounds like fun! Right up my alley.
  5. Business Consultant. Oh no--wait just one minute! This sounds like my very own profession. What the heck am I doing wrong????
In all seriousness, I DO have a vacation planned late September (Maui for my honeymoon!). It's important to balance work with fun. Workaholics definitely are NOT fun...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Watch out for those Gamma Women!

I'm thrilled! There's another new segment for us direct marketing practitioners to target: The Gamma Women.
"Gamma women share and exchange information, ideas, opinions, contacts and recommendations with their wide-reaching network using multiple media and channels of communication. This is in sharp contrast to the Alpha style of communication a top down model of selectively passing along information. While a Gammas sense of self is guided by her internal beliefs, passions, and priorities, an Alpha is driven by external social hierarchies or other indicators of status or popularity."
This quote from an EarthTimes article about a study recently released by Meredith Corporation, the media and marketing company that targets American women.

I think they're on to something. Women typically are 'sharers'. If we (and I know I'm part of this bold group!) find something (a product, a service) we like, we talk about it. We tell our friends, our family--we become the biggest advocates. Of course, the opposite is also true. If we have a bad experience, we'll spread that news, too.

The traits of this newly defined 'gamma woman' lend themselves almost perfectly to social marketing. The study shows that we like to communicate, and we don't like to be sold to. We look for relevant content and we're all about building networks to share our info with. Yep, we Gammas are a social marketer's dream.

Not only are these Gamma Women perfect for the world of social media, they're a large group (55 million women!). What an opportunity!
"The report forecasts that, as the social and technological environment in which they exist becomes more and more suited to their communication and interaction styles, Gammas influence in the marketplace will continue to increase."
Moral of this story--don't forget to include specific programs and tactics that will appeal to these Gamma Women as you develop your direct marketing strategies.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Marketing Case Study: Email and Segmentation

Last week we had a nice discussion about the new environmental guidelines for direct marketers, just introduced by the Green Marketing Coalition. One of my suggested additions to their guidelines was to incorporate marketing channels that do not require paper. Another suggested addition was to better target mailings, again to reduce the amount of paper used.

Well, this case study, coming to us from BtoB Magazine is an excellent example of doing both of these things--moving from DM to email marketing AND using segmentation to better target campaigns. Thought you'd be interested.

Background and Initial Results:
E-mail marketing has been a boon to Analog Devices, a manufacturer of semiconductors and supporting products for signal processing applications. Five years ago, the company started testing e-mail marketing against direct marketing and saw an instant winner, said David Kruh, direct and database marketing manager for Analog Devices.

“It cost us about $1 per piece to print and mail a brochure, but it only costs about one cent to send an e-mail,” he said. “Furthermore, e-mail is trackable. ... When we tested e-mail versus direct mail, we found we were getting hundreds-of-times-better response rates for e-mail marketing.”

Fine-tuning the Program:
But as successful as e-mail marketing had been for his company, Kruh knew he could do even better. Working with e-mail service provider Experian CheetahMail, Analog Devices revamped its program, focusing on list segmentation, extensive testing, personalization and the use of affinity analysis, a graphically based data analysis tool that uncovers common behaviors, relationships and characteristics of people who buy specific items.

For list segmentation, Kruh split his list into two distinct groups: one he termed “tire-kickers,” who fall into the hobbyist or student category, and the other more influential group that includes designers and consultants. He did so to help his salespeople gain better-quality leads, he said.

“We’d send out our ‘Solutions Bulletin’ and some months get 3,000 requests for samples, But the sales didn’t follow the requests,” he said.

After digging deeper, Kruh’s team saw that the people who purchased most often were also the ones who clicked through to fewer links. “The more activity we saw in terms of clicks, the less we saw in terms of revenue,” he said. “It makes sense. Who has time to go clicking around a Web site? Hobbyists, students, and people at smaller companies or research facilities.”

Kruh ceased sending direct mail to the unprofitable group; at the same time, he started sending specific, targeted e-mail messages to the profitable group. He also tested dayparting and personalization for both groups. Doing so revealed that Thursdays beat Tuesdays by 15% across the board. He also learned that sending a message at midnight beat midday by 10%, and that sending messages at midnight resulted in one-third fewer unsubscribes.

“The way we see it is engineers come to work, have coffee and read their e-mail to get their days started,” he said. “By noon, things are piling up for them and they don’t have time to read our messages.”

Personalizing messages—a strategy that Experian CheetahMail encouraged but Kruh initially resisted—has also helped significantly, translating into 10% to 60% higher click-through rates.

The final piece to the e-mail puzzle, Kruh said, has been affinity database analysis, which helps the company figure out, for example, what other parts someone who buys an amplifier is likely to buy.

“In 2007 we ran a campaign to introduce a new sensor amplifier. We got 25% better click-through rates with the affinity populations than with the folks who were previous amplifier purchasers,” he said. “Part of what we believe is people who are already buying our amplifiers know all about them, so the information we are sending is not of as much interest.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Email Trends through 2013
From our friend, Daryl Clark of Internet Search Marketing, comes this link to a webinar (and as an added bonus, a white paper from the Economist) that provides trends and best practices for email marketing. Very valuable info!

Green Direct Mail
Chris Hansen posts an excellent re-cap of the recently announced Green Marketing Coalition on his MarketGreener blog. It gave me some food for thought and is a nice complement to my post yesterday on the same topic.

Deceptive Direct Mail?
Another direct mail topic--this one from the Direct Creative Blog. They've presented an example of an official-looking package with quasi-governmental and tax implications, that, as a matter of fact is a mortgage solicitation. Blog author, Dean Rieck, poses the question--is this deceptive direct marketing or a clever sales tactic? I've posted my opinion by commenting on his blog...

Leading with Your Heart, and Succeeding in Business
Almost directly opposite from the type of misleading advertising discussed above, is this post from Lewis Green. He discusses his "business model that places people's happiness before all other business metrics, including ROI, profits and revenues." Hint--not only is this an effective way to do business, but you'll sleep great at night, too.

Real-Time Data Mining
A very interesting perspective can be found on the Customer World blog. The author, Sivaraman Swaminathan, discusses the need for companies to act quickly--and appropriately--on customer transaction information. I look forward to the day when companies use what they know about us to really serve us (and not just to sell to us, or in the case on the blog-post--collect from us).

Have a great weekend! I'm planning on enjoying some good Oregon microbrews (even though I'm a wine lover, but heck, the Brewfest is this weekend!).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Green Direct Marketing: An Oxymoron?

I'm always a bit frightened when direct marketing, as a topic, makes the NY Times. Usually, the piece will not be all that supportive of our industry. A data breach, identify theft, how to stop your junk mail--those are the usual suspect topics.

So, this article, that extends some grudging respect towards a group of direct marketers who are trying to bring an attention to the environment to the direct marketing industry surprised me a little bit. From the article:
A group of direct-marketing companies, along with a handful of their corporate clients, are banding together to make an inherently unsustainable practice at least a little bit greener.

The group calls itself the Green Marketing Coalition, and it includes Microsoft, Washington Mutual and OptimaHealth. Not all the companies involved are big mailers, but they share the sentiment that there should be best-practices guidelines for the direct mail business, which has been vilified even before global warming became a hot topic.

“This industry just didn’t have any real green standards,” said Spyro Kourtis, president of the Hacker Group, the Seattle direct-marketing company that headed the Green Marketing Coalition. “So we figured we could set some that vendors and clients and others could all live with.”

So, what exactly are these guidelines, brought to us by the Green Marketing Coalition? I'll summarize:
  1. Use recycled paper, chlorine-free preferred.
  2. Choose vendors with internal environmental initiatives.
  3. Use UV Printing presses and comply with hazardous waste disposal standards.
  4. Improve list hygiene and data management (now, that's one I can get behind!).
  5. Proof and edit using PDF instead of hard copy print-outs.
I hate to say it, but I have to agree with this NY Times commentary on the guidelines...
So far, the coalition’s guidelines are long on earnestness and short on truly new ideas.
The cynical side of me is also a little mad that the group called the following "guideline" a guideline.
"Companies can benefit from the tax savings associated with going green. Go to for more information."
I'd like to propose that more guidelines (real guidelines!) be added. Here's my start:
  • Make sure that you've explored all channels, with an emphasis on those that don't require paper. Social marketing, e-marketing, telemarketing, mobile marketing, etc. all have a place in the direct marketing strategy. Get out of that direct mail rut.
  • Get a handle on customer preferences--try to find out if someone absolutely hates receiving postal mail (you might actually ask them). If they don't want junk mail, stop sending them stuff, immediately.
  • Do a better job of targeting, and commit to it. Make it your goal to cut out 1/3 of those you're mailing, just by targeting the right people. We've built models that cut out over 30% of non-responders, with no lessening of responses/sales. Yes, it can be done.
  • Test smaller, less elaborate formats. Do you really need the letter, the brochure, the call-to-action card, the response envelope (does anyone use these anymore?) etc?
  • Let your people tele-commute. Do they really need to be sitting in your cubicle to do their job? Let them save on gas and stress by working from home.
I love the fact that this industry is looking for ways to be more environmentally-friendly. Every little bit helps, right? My hope is that this is just a start and that we'll see more initiatives, with quantifiable goals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Direct Marketing Employment News

Just yesterday, Bernhart Associates published their quarterly survey results that gauge the state of the direct marketing industry, in terms of hiring and employment trends.

No surprise--the news isn't great. From the press release:
The direct marketing employment outlook has taken a turn for the worse with employers planning more cutbacks in hiring this summer, according to the latest Bernhart Associates employment survey.

According to the survey, 47% of the companies responding said they plan to add to staff during the current third quarter, a decline of 7% from last quarter and the first reading below 50% since 2002.
But, for those analytically-inclined specialists, and those in sales or e-commerce, there is some good news:
"We always ask companies to list the positions they expect to fill during the coming three months," said Bernhart (Jerry Bernhart, President). "This time around the list was top-heavy with analytics, with both sales and e-commerce related openings a close second."
I'd love to hear if these survey results mirror what you're seeing out there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Case Study: Small Business Website Optimization

As a small-business owner, I thought I would focus today's case study on a common challenge for small businesses. How does a small business boost website traffic, hence boosting overall visibility?

Your company website is the best way for prospective customers to get to know you. Plus, an informative and well-designed website can be a great equalizer. A small business is lucky in that if they are clever enough, and if they spend their time and money wisely, they can build their web presence to make them compete very effectively against huge corporations.

Today's case study is brought to us from Marketing Science, a marketing consulting firm that focuses on helping small businesses realize success. This case study and others can be found on their website. I like this story because it provides practical advice about how a small business can boost organic search results.

Client: Paage Et Cie Ltd.

Industry: Personal Management & Organization Services

Business Problems: Although a highly successful small business for 15 years, the 3 year old company website was receiving near ZERO natural (organic) search traffic.

The company's Internet presence was invisible to prospective clients. The website infrastructure (Meta tags, headings, keywords, etc.) was poorly designed from an Online marketing standpoint and was not optimized at all for search engine traffic or search engine marketing effectiveness.

Problem Summary:
  • Site was designed to be visually appealing , but unknowingly at the expense of marketing performance
  • No Meta Tags
  • Used One Title tag for all 25 pages of website - a major "no no"
  • Traffic was poor, only receiving referral visits by word-of mouth from a few friends and associates
  • Very low keyword density
Goals: Management wanted to maximize growth potential Online by adding PPC (pay per click) search marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Client also wanted increase sales of a booklet Online from the website.

Marketing Solution: Marketing Science implemented a full service Search Engine Optimization and Search Marketing Campaign. Setup and optimized Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing accounts for pay per click advertising, including:
  • Create and implement a website marketing plan (SEO, article marketing, content development strategy, etc.)
  • Create website content that uniquely positions client
  • Keyword research, keyword selection, keyword optimization
  • Search engine optimization & search engine marketing techniques
  • Integrated ecommerce shopping cart in client website to sell booklets from website
Results to Date: The results since the late summer of 2007 have been impressive. Website went from receiving roughly 50 unique visitors per week to an average of 42 unique visitors per day! Booklet sales have also increased by 330%.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

In The News: Virginia Gov. Announces Telework Policy
If you're feeling green, check out this article from Dan Smolen's Sturdy Roots blog. It talks about how the state of Virginia is advocating that people work at home to save on gas, and to increase productivity. I couldn't agree more, and I hope that more states and more big businesses follow this example. My personal experience in home officing (which I've done throughout my career) is that I get a ton more done--fewer distractions. Plus my dog and cat are happy to have me here :)

Getting things done--one analyst's approach
On the topic of productivity, this post from Steven Noble, an analyst from Forrester Research, was interesting to me. He discusses his "getting things done" or GTD method of completing tasks. I think that this is a method we all pretty much use, but only a research analyst could quantify it and break it down for us! I did relate to the point he makes about being paralyzed if a particular project looks too daunting. Instead of being paralyzed and trying to tackle the whole thing, Steven advocates breaking it down into parts and tackling critical tasks that will bring you closer to your main goals, first. I like this practical approach!

Companies CAN'T "join the conversation"
So says Peter Kim. However people CAN! His post talks about the realities of corporate blogging. "If you or someone in your company is thinking of blog authorship behind the curtain of a corporate logo, stop and make sure that your organization is actually ready to get social with the outside world. Because a company can't participate in a conversation, only individuals representing a company can." As usual, Peter Kim is absolutely right.

Welcome home, indeed
I love to read about stellar customer service. This post from the Brains on Fire Blog was so well-written that I thought I, personally, was enjoying the superlative hotel stay (at the Greenwich Hotel in New York) that the author experienced. You know, it's all about doing what you do just a bit better. Making the customer delighted--in this case delighted enough to share with the world.

Experience Engineering
On the topic of customer service and how invaluable a superlative customer experience can be, this Customer World post is pretty interesting. It attempts to break down the customer experience and how this translates to real value. Great food for thought.

RRW's Marketing Information
Final mention goes to our very own collection of white papers, guides and checklists that we've put together mostly for direct marketers. I spent some time this week revamping our online form and making sure that all of our docs were included. Please come visit and let us know if you'd like any of this information. We love to share.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Customer Segmentation Information

You know that we're firm believers in the power of customer segmentation. We've even written a game-plan that we're happy to share with you. If you can target your segment with the absolute right-on message, creative that resonates with them and an irresistible offer, your direct marketing campaign results will reflect this extra work.

Sometimes segments are based on the products a customer purchases from you. Sometimes they are more related to what's going on in the customers' life. As a marketer, you rarely have significant insight into your customers' and prospects' personal life. Luckily for us, there is a wealth of external data and experts who know how to mine that external data to make the job of really understanding our customer segments a heck of a lot easier.

Check out this article from DM News. Four data experts have each focused on a niche segment that they have experience in. They provide some pretty valuable insight into how to best message to each group. Here are the groups discussed in the article:

  • Bob Stein of Trinity Direct talks about nuances in targeting the Catholic market (hint--they are older, highly mail-responsive and like to donate).
  • Amy Benicewicz of ListBargains: "Marketers seeking a target audi­ence of luxury lifestyles and frequent travelers fare very well with prospecting to Double Income No Kids (DINK) families." Caveat--this group is hard to target (based on available data), but if you sell luxury goods, or are in the travel/tourism industry, you need to reach the DINKs.
  • Sandy Ostrander of ListSolutions shares her perspective on marketing to military families. It's a growing group that is under-served and may just represent an untapped opportunity.
  • Rob Odri of ALC talks about marketing to gay and lesbian consumers. The key takeaway here is that this is a large group of people (they command $1 billion in spending power) who also tend to be early-adopters AND they share their views with their friends and family. The opportunity: many mainstream marketers tend to ignore this group.
Altogether some interesting information on four discreet segments, and some good food for thought. If you'd like more info on Segmentation, and specifically, an overview of the approach that we take, we'd be happy to share our White Paper, called: Advanced Segmentation Game-Plan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Who's applying for credit cards?

In talking to my friends and colleagues in the direct marketing industry, the story remains the same. We're all seeing a definite slow-down. Our clients aren't doing as much as last year. Coupled with declining marketing activity, the industry continues to consolidate (see last weeks' announcement of Acxiom purchasing ChoicePoint's Database Marketing unit which has caused a round of lay-offs).

The credit card industry typically relies heavily on direct marketing strategies to acquire new customers. I definitely think that today's banking issues (which I won't even attempt to get into here....) are a big part of what is hurting the DM industry. Found this research that shows how the mix of credit card applications has drastically changed since last year on the DMA's website.

Total Credit Card Applications Submitted Online

Date: Q1 2007 vs. Q1 2008

Total US – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore Online Credit Card Acquisition Benchmarker

Number of Applications Submitted Online

Applicant Type*

Q1 2007

Q1 2008

Percent Change













*Subprime defined as individuals having the equivalent of a FICO score of 660 or less;

Prime defined as individuals having the equivalent of a FICO score greater than 660.

The research was conducted by ComScore, Inc., a leader in measuring the digital world.

The fact that the number of subprime apps submitted is rising and prime dramatically falling really is a sign of these scary economic times.

I welcome input on how your business is running. What are you doing to survive, and perhaps even thrive in this economy?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Case Study: Creative DM Package Wins

You know I've been reminding myself that this IS a direct marketing blog, after all! So, I thought that this Monday I would bring you a traditional direct marketing case study. We'll focus on the importance of format and creativity in a B2B direct mail campaign.

From Craig Huey's Creative Direct Marketing Group, here is their case study about work performed for 800 Direct.

“Bumpy” package generates most-ever leads for 800 service!

The marketing challenge:
800 Direct needed to get its message into the hands of key telemarketing managers and marketing directors of companies nationwide. These individuals are extremely busy, hard-to-reach, and inundated with promotional materials.

In order to bypass front office personnel and reach decision makers, this piece had to have a high perceived value that would trigger response.

The creative solution: Craig Huey and his staff created a “bumpy” package with an attention-getting envelope featuring a humorous cartoon showing an incompetent telemarketing operator.

The envelope asked the provocative question,“Who’s really answering your in-bound calls?” It also teased the reader with the promise of “Telemarketing Innovations” and a FREE checklist of 8 Costly Telemarketing Blunders.

Inside, the letter took an informational marketing approach that explained the innovations, all fully detailed in a FREE Special Report, 44 Cost-Cutting, Profit-Making Telemarketing Breakthroughs, Strategies and Innovations".

An enclosed rolodex card and note pad created a “bumpy” package and also added value.

The results:
Said Matt Epstein, Director of Marketing: “Thanks to your creative direct marketing promotion, we have never had so many leads. We can now begin establishing a relationship with these prospects and, hopefully, convert them to new clients in the near future!

“You have done great work and we would have no problem highly recommending your agency.”

This piece was so successful it garnered both the Target Marketing Best of Direct Marketing Award and the West Award of Merit.

Good work! It's always important not to forget the basics of direct response marketing. A strong offer, a message that resonates with your target audience and fun creative--all direct marketing fundamentals.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Direct Marketing Links

Saying No to the Boss
So happy to find Susan Willett Bird's blog about interesting conversations. This post gives some good advice, especially if you are a Type A overachiever who can't turn down a project. You know the type--the one who thinks that the only way something will get done correctly is if she does it herself (yikes--I resemble that remark!). Interesting read.

A Freelancer's Survival Guide
From Forbes, check out this freelancers guide. In this economy, more and more people are becoming entrepreneurs (at least temporarily). The article provides some great and quite practical tips on how to be a successful freelancer.

Corporate blogging's mixed bag
If you're considering starting a blog or if you're simply interested in what a blog may be worth to a corporation, this Viral Garden post is a must-read. Is it any surprise that many large companies don't understand that a blog is NOT simply an extension of their website--that it's not simply an arena to advertise their stuff?

Direct Marketing in India
I'm kinda proud of the small conversation we started in our very own Ask Direct Marketers blog about the state of Direct Marketing in India. The contribution by one of the leading marketers from India, Nishad Ramachandran, really is what makes this post worth reading. I just love how the internet and blogging in particular has shrunk this world. Who knew that I would be having discussions with thought leaders from India. How cool is that???

The direct mail envelope quandary: plain or bold?
Sticking with the direct marketing theme, I enjoyed this article from the Direct Creative Blog. It helps answer the question of what type of envelope direct mailers should use. (The answer in a nutshell--test both plain or bold, but plain typically outperforms bold.) Good stuff!

Have wonderful weekends, all!

Zappos does it again!

I continue to wonder why Google ranks our blog #1 when you search for direct marketing blogs...We tend to veer off the topic of DM quite a bit. Yet, in order to make any direct marketing project successful, so many other pieces of the puzzle need to be in place.

For example, if, say, you have horrible customer service, then no matter how awesome your direct marketing campaign may be--no matter how many calls you generate--your sale will never happen if the prospect is treated poorly when they call you. Hence today's focus on customer service.

Some months ago, we wrote about the corporate culture at Zappos. In a nutshell, they make doing business fun! They also empower their employees to keep their customers happy. Zappos has taken customer service to a level that most firms can only dream of.

Well, I continue to be amazed and impressed by this online shoe retailer. I found this article from Harvard Business that explores one extremely innovative reason why Zappos is able to maintain and cultivate their culture of excellence.

They are so committed to retaining committed and dedicated employees that they are willing to bet $1,000 on each new hire. From the article:

"After a week or so in this immersive (training) experience, though, it’s time for what Zappos calls “The Offer.” The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit!

Why? Because if you’re willing to take the company up on the offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for. It’s hard to describe the level of energy in the Zappos culture—which means, by definition, it’s not for everybody. Zappos wants to learn if there’s a bad fit between what makes the organization tick and what makes individual employees tick—and it’s willing to pay to learn sooner rather than later. (About ten percent of new call-center employees take the money and run.)"

What a novel and smart idea. I'd be willing to bet that the $1,000 is a drop in the bucket if you consider money, sales and time lost if a non-engaged employee is working with your clients. And, remember that we're talking about customer service/call center jobs here. That $1,000 is a lot of money to all of us and a big chunk of change to these employees.

I think the challenge here is to think about new ways that we can change our business. How can we go outside of what others are doing to reach new levels of excellence?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mobile CRM Tips

Mobile CRM is becoming a necessity for field sales and companies with service personnel. Companies know that they need to enable their employees who are out in the field servicing customers to access company information in real-time--place orders, ask questions, report results, etc. However, as is usually the case with CRM systems, there is a lot of technology out there... How does a company know which mobile CRM solution will suit their specific needs?

This article, Six tips for mobile CRM success, helps narrow the playing field. It provides some very practical tips on what you should be considering as you shop for mobile CRM technology. I've summarized (with many quotes from the author) each of the six tips.
  1. Plan ahead. Consider today's requirements and try to anticipate tomorrow's needs. The author suggests not locking yourself into proprietary software or hardware operating platforms. "As systems such as BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Apple iPhone and Google Android develop, you can be sure your remote users will be asking you to provide support for their devices."
  2. Focus on the real world requirements. "Avoid getting caught up in fancy features and applications that will not be used in a mobile environment. Be realistic and understand what information and transactions your users will actually need to access in their mobile CRM system."
  3. Does the mobile CRM application meet your security requirements? "The system should meet the “Ooops - I left my mobile device in the taxi” test."
  4. Ease of navigation. "Mobile CRM operates on small devices with small screens and small keyboards. It is crucial to ensure that the system is easy to navigate in order to encourage a high adoption rate"
  5. Speed of implementation. This is a big one. Make sure that you know exactly what your vendor has committed to in the way of implementation timelines before you commit to their solution.
  6. Is it scalable? Make sure that the system can grow as your business grows. Also make sure that it can handle the amounts of customer data that your firm collects and stores.
Kudos to author Christian Wettre of W-Systems for these practical tips.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Case Study Monday: Direct Mail and a Database

It warms my heart to read a case study that relies on very traditional direct marketing tactics such as a marketing database coupled with relevant direct mail. Plus, it's kinda fun to start off a Monday with a cute baby pic!

I've provided the key points, but you can check out the full case study from Harte-Hanks, a leading database services provider.

Situation Analysis
A premiere infant formula manufacturer was concerned about eroding market share. Harte-Hanks was selected to design and construct a sophisticated database marketing program to communicate directly with their target market - expectant and new parents.

Business Objectives
Because of this infant formula producer's sensitivity to the importance of breastfeeding and the recommendations of physicians, the company needed a way to speak to their audience while maintaining the involvement of the patients' doctors. Their goal was to initially stop erosion and ultimately grow market share in the midst of heavy competitor advertising, whose TV and mass media strategy ignored the doctor/patient relationship.

Marketing Solution
In conjunction with the manufacturer and its ad agency, Harte-Hanks developed a club for expectant/new parents. Parents can obtain enrollment forms at their doctor's office and receive a series of mailings with important information on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Mailings included educational newsletters, tie-in partner offers and live checks for product purchase.

Communications are varied based on individual responses to surveys mailed to them. A sophisticated variable survey logic program created mailing packages based on individual respondents' needs and a variable letter library ensures that letters were relevant to specific consumers' situations and timelines.

The club achieved the goal of stopping share declines and ultimately growing the company's market share. An additional benefit is the loyal consumer database available for communications. New product introductions, company news or critical product information can be disseminated quickly.

The club has evolved over the years and continues to speak to members based on individual needs. It truly allows for a one-to-one dialogue.

Ah, the perfect direct marketing program. A targeted, niche audience. Relevant offers. Timely communication. It's no wonder that the club was a success. And, I just think about the value of that customer relationship, over time. Good stuff and kudos to Harte-Hanks.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July Hot Links!

And, yes, I do mean hot links--the kind you put on the grill! In the spirit of this holiday, I thought I would veer away from direct marketing links today and focus on what's important--this holiday!

Grillin' and Chillin' for the 4th of July
First up is this post from In addition to listing America's top 10 favorite pies (Apple is #1), the post relates other interesting food facts for the 4th. No surprise--hamburgers are preferred over hot-dogs.

Disney Family
Found this great 4th of July resource that provides all kinds of July 4 info. From barbeque recipes, to fun and patriotic cup-cake ideas to crafts that the whole family can do. Neat resource for today's festivities!

Fireworks Photos
To get you ready for tonight's festivities, take a look at this collection of awesome fireworks photos. Amazing!

Another Collection of July 4th Links
Finally, if my small (but mighty) collection of July 4th info just isn't enough for you, Wordpress has kindly also collected July 4 blog posts. There are pages and pages of blogs (I love the fact that there is so much great info out there, don't you?) focusing on today, the 4th of July.

Happy 4th! Enjoy your barbeque. And, know that I, unlike most Americans, personally prefer hot-dogs to hamburgers... Just have to be different, I guess :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Targeted Social Marketing

This article's title really intrigued me: Trust-Based Targeting.

Hmmm. Now, as a direct marketing specialist, I'm an expert in targeting. I'm aware of the wide array of data that is available to target both customers and prospects, B2B and B2C. So, what the heck does Trust-Based Targeting refer to? Clearly, I had to read more!

It's an intriguing concept, and one that might actually help with the eventual measurement and better targeting of social media. The article outlines mEgo's approach that allows consumers to choose the kinds of messaging and targeting behaviors that fit their own needs and interests, all in the area of social marketing.

The premise behind mEgo's offering is that their users self-create some pretty elaborate and detailed profiles. Then, users decide which parts of their profiles can be shared to advertisers. Finally, users are paid (I believe through donations to their chosen charity) when advertisers use their data for targeting.
"Going back to how mEgo intends to roll out our advertising strategy: We will provide a transparent description of how users’ data is used and, most importantly, allow users to filter which information is publicly available and used for targeting. MEgo members will have complete control of what portions of their profile they’ll permit us to use to target ads. For example, a mEgo user interested in music may choose to view only ads for indie bands generated from a list of their favorite musicians. As an extra step in transparency, we also literally show users the keywords our platform generates for serving the ads they see."
The article contained an excellent case study for an Adidas social media campaign. It illustrated the viral nature of m'Ego's offering and is probably the best illustration of this new targeting concept.

I can't wait to see how (if) other marketers adopt this model. I salivate over the rich data that I may be analyzing in the near future!

But I think that the key things to remember here are trust and transparency--two essentials to this new offering.
"The lesson learned: It is essential that brands earn and keep consumer’s trust in order to be able to effectively market to them. Without trust, the greatest marketing system in the world can’t work. Set the expectation of complete transparency between marketer and consumer, and you convert your consumer from being fearful into being an advocate."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Generosity Wins in Advertising

This post by Lewis Green on his Lead with Your Heart Blog really got me thinking: Putting People First is Good Business.

In the article, Lewis talks about how important it is to give, both in life and in business. He says: "Sharing ourselves and what we know is the best way to build a trusting relationship, and it doesn't hurt profits."

That's a philosophy I think most bloggers and others who dabble in social marketing believe in. We understand the importance of contributing to the community, and we enjoy the benefits (new friends, great information, business contacts) we reap as a result of that contribution. Well, I was interested to see that this 'Give and You Shall Receive' mentality is also working in advertising and business in general.

Check out this article from USA Today: Winning ads really work for consumers.

The article provides a review of winning advertising campaigns from the ad industry's annual competition, the Cannes Lions festival in France. Interestingly, the winning campaigns all shared a common theme. They offer a real, tangible benefit to the consumer, with absolutely no strings attached. From the article:
"Now some advertisers are trying to create ads that offer consumers something useful with the brand message — something they'll seek out — instead of trying to bombard them with ads they can't escape."
This is a concept that certainly isn't new (although it kinda feels that way). Let's review a few of the winners as the best illustration of this concept.

Uniqlo's "Uniqlock": Japan's Uniqlo, a global retailer with a flagship store in New York, won the top award for new idea with a downloadable digital clock with video of dancers in Uniqlo clothes. It can be used as a PC screensaver or a mobile screen, or embedded in a Facebook page. The clock, which has sleep and alarm modes, has been downloaded by 32,000 people in 85 countries.

Reebok: The social-networking site lets runners log their runs, chat, post pictures and find running routes in new cities.

Axe: The men's personal care brand offers a mobile application on its Japanese website to put on phones sexy images, ring tones and an "alarm girl" who messages at times set by the user. The messages get racier with each use.

All of these winners understand that if they provide their customers with something that the customer finds valuable, they'll win, too. In these examples, the company had to go on a limb and invest in development of some pretty cool giveaways, on the simple hope that by bringing value to their customers, they'd benefit in the end. Their gamble is that they'd gain new customers and increase loyalty from existing customers. Clearly the gamble paid off.

This concept is something that all businesses can apply. Think about what you can offer to your customers and prospects that will be valuable to them. Make it good. Make the giveaway fun, and interactive if you can. The better it is, the more your customers (and prospects) will talk about you. Heck, they may even share it with their boss, or even better, with their spouse!

In a nutshell, be generous. Just think about all of the good karma you'll build up!