Make the Most Out of Your Direct Mail Marketing

For companies that run direct mail campaigns, the ability to effectively measure the highs and lows of those campaigns is vital to the success of their advertising as a whole. The following tips will have you well on your way toward making the most out of your company’s direct mail marketing:

  1. Utilize a tracking software system that will measure the statistics of your campaign easily and efficiently:  Yes, there is no denying that it may cost less money to send emails than it does to send direct mail. However, if the act of sending direct mail to your audience could bring you better results, wouldn’t you want to do that? Of course! However, we must put forth the effort to prove that is true.  This may primarily mean that we set up our campaigns and landing pages in a way so that direct mail responses are measured differently than responses to your emails, social media posts, or activities on another channel.  Response mechanisms such as QR Codes and personalized URLs can help us measure direct mail effectiveness as well!
  1. Select a focused audience versus conducting a blind mailing effort, thus increasing the potential for successful contacts: The days of spray-and-pray must be a thing of the past. This is certainly true from a budgetary perspective. But it also should be true from the fact that technology makes it easier than ever to create targeted, personalized materials and by doing so, we can increase our response rates.  By segmenting our audiences, we can deliver direct mail pieces that may have text, images, and offers that are relevant to each individual.
  2. Ensure that your direct mail pieces are both informative and aesthetically pleasing: We must never forget marketing fundamentals. Sure, it can be fun to get excited about new marketing channels; however, we must not neglect putting forth an effort to ensure our direct mail pieces look good and tell a compelling story.

These are just a few of the ways that companies can successfully incorporate direct mail into their marketing mix.

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9 Ways to Keep Leads and Prospects Engaged

Sometimes the usual phone call or email is just the complete wrong way to follow-up with leads.  While tempting, keep in mind that you may catch prospects at a bad time, lead them to feeling like they’re “being sold,” or have them ask you to stop attempting altogether.  How can you spark action and interest into that lead without a hard sell?  Simple!  Here are 9 types of information you can send to your leads to keep their attention:

Recorded Webinars
Webinars are a convenient way of educating a large audience with minimal costs associated.  What is also great about them is that they can be recorded!  If you’re going to deliver a great presentation that highlights your expertise, make the most of it by saving the recording and using it as a sales tool for future leads and inquiries.

Recorded Sales Demonstrations
In sales, you may come across a situation where you have to deliver multiple demos for the same company before you can close the deal.  While every point of contact is an opportunity to get closer to the lead, make sure they don’t forget you (and can show you off to colleagues) by sending them a recorded demo.  That way, they can refer back to it at their convenience and never forget the greatest parts of your company.

Digital Company Brochures
If you have a fantastic printed brochure, turn the original PDF file of it into an electronic sales tool!  It’s a great way to sum up all of your company’s benefits and services into one well-designed package, and your leads can then save it on their desktop.  Be sure to share this via a software that handles electronic fulfullment so that you have a history record of sending it.

Educate your audience with an enticing eBook that includes interesting facts about your audience’s pain points, and the solutions to those problems.  You can subtly promote your services and products within them, but have this eBook act as a reminder to all that you’re the answer to their problems.

Position yourself as the expert by giving tips, best practices, and a summary of services in 1-2 minute video clips.  Send this along to your prospects as a conversation starter, and let them get to know you through creative videos.

If you have team members who are fantastic speakers, podcasts may be the best approach to take when trying to capture their knowledge.  You can get away with longer podcast sessions as opposed to videos because the listener can listen in the car, at their desk over lunch, or on their morning run. Invite educational guests and keep folks coming back monthly for more knowledge!

If you have a great graphic design team, and some captivating statistics, highlight both of these resources in an infographic.  They’re interesting, fun to look at, and share-worthy.  You can share information about the industries your target audiences are in, how you have increased success for clients, or how you’re keeping up with new technologies.

Service and Product Sell Sheets
Perhaps your leads don’t need the entire brochure, all they may want is a one-pager that goes over key benefits of one service or product they may be interested in.  Think real estate; they’ve mastered the 1-page sell. What’s great about having electronic sales sheets of your various offerings is that you can send a mixture of them depending on what your lead needs, and not clutter up their mind with too many ancillary services that don’t suit them.

This sales tool is beneficial for two big reasons.  If you deliver a survey with weighted questions, you can customize the end results of what the survey would say based on the lead’s answers.  It also helps you qualify the lead in finding out what type of offerings would best fit their needs.

The bottom line?
The sales process doesn’t always have to be direct.  Take more of an inbound marketing approach and let them come to you. Sometimes the best way to keep the conversation going is to send educational and informative materials that will captivate your leads and get them excited about what you have to say so when they are ready, they come to the expert first (pssst…that’ll be you!)

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4 Ways to Enhance Targeted Marketing Efforts

Do your marketing efforts make a personal and immediate connection with your audience? Do you use a proactive approach for telling them how your business can specifically help their needs?  If you feel like you should improve your campaigns but are not sure how to, take a look at these four tips to help you get started!

Speak to Your Audience.
It’s human nature to pay closer attention to something when it is more relevant to you, so why not apply this methodology to your marketing efforts?  With variable data printing, you can instantly give that personal touch to your marketing pieces but having the recipient’s name, address, and a variety of additional information included in your messaging. Think bigger and incorporate Augmented Reality, QR codes or NFC in as well. This will help you stand out from the many marketing messages they may receive each day.

Address Specific Needs.
The next time you create your next marketing campaign, avoid the generic “About Us” path, and focus more on the recipient.  Ask yourself, “What are their needs, what would appeal to them, what would they request information on if they were to call my business?”  For instance, if you created athletic uniforms for schools, a great summer campaign would be a back-to-school-themed campaign featuring fall sports.  Take advantage of the information you already have about your audience and blow them away with your proactive approach to how you can help them.

Highlight Services.
What happens when you receive a promotion and the majority of the promoted products and services do not apply to you? You discard it and usually ignore future promotions that are similar to that one.  You must remember that your customers may use your products and services differently than other audiences.  Create audience-specific campaigns by promoting the top three services that each of your audiences would utilize the most.  You want your audience to see what they need right away and be able to take advantage of the promotion that is being showcased in the marketing piece.  Avoid making them look for what they need, be the expert by presenting the best tools for them from the start.

Optimize Delivery Time.
Each industry operates differently throughout the year.  For example, retail stores may be extremely busy during the fall yet incredibly slow during the winter.  Universities may focus its marketing efforts to potential students in the spring, but then focus on alumni funding in the fall.  If you develop campaigns around these audience-specific cycles and trends, you may be the perfect solution to your audiences’ needs during the time they need you most.

By using these tactics, your marketing efforts will grab your audiences’ attention because of its targeted messaging and strategic delivery time.  Be sure to always stay engaged with your customers’ timely needs so you will always remain relevant to them.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of QR Codes

It is safe to say that QR Codes are everywhere these days. But the real question is, are people using QR Codes correctly?

To answer that question, additional questions need to be asked. These may include: “Are the QR Codes big enough to be scanned easily and quickly? Do the QR Codes link to a mobile website? If they have been customized graphically, do they contain scannable color schemes?”

If you are wondering if you’re using QR Codes correctly, we have some help to offer you!

Below are some Do’s and Don’ts for using QR Codes.

Do’s for QR Code Usage

1. Do make sure that your QR Code is large enough. From our own testing and usage, a QR Code should be NO smaller than 1/2″ x 1/2″. If possible, it’s wise to make sure that your QR Code is at least a 3/4″ x 3/4″. As the cameras on our phones continue to get better, more people will have the ability to scan smaller QR Codes. However, there are still plenty of people walking around with phones that would have major trouble scanning a 1/2″ QR Code.

2. Do make sure that there is enough white space/padding around your QR Code.

3. Do make sure you have simple directions next to the QR Code. This can be as simple as saying “Scan the QR Code with your smartphone to learn more”, or “Don’t have a QR Code reader? Download one from your App store”.

4. Do offer some kind of incentive for people to scan the QR Code. This could be something such as ”Scan the QR Code to win an iPad”, or perhaps “For more information on this event, scan the QR Code now!”

5. Do add QR Codes to your printed materials. Business cards, brochures, magazine advertisements, etc. Make print interactive and start reaching the growing mobile audience!

6. Do add an image to your QR Code if you’d like to find a way to make it stand out.

7. Do consider changing up the color of your QR Code to make it match your design.

8. Do track your QR Codes efforts! Make sure that you know how many people are scanning and what printed materials they are responding to.

9. Do make sure that your QR Code points to a mobile website.

10. Do create your QR Code in a way that allows you to change the destination URL at any time.

11. Do shorten the destination URL when creating the QR Code.

Don’ts for QR Code Usage

1. Do not make your QR Code too small.

2. Do not have a QR code that links to a standard, desktop-based website.

3. Do not make your QR Codes in color combinations that are hard to scan. Light colored QR Codes do not scan well. Same goes for dark QR Codes on dark backgrounds.

4. Do not forget to put directions along with your QR Code or a call-to-action. Just having a plain QR Code on your piece is not going to attract people to scan it or teach people “how” to scan it.

5. Do not put your QR Codes on items that are useless for people to scan – i.e a highway billboard (no one driving 70mph down the highway is going to be able to scan it).

6. Do NOT cover or distort the 3 squares in the corners of the QR Code. If you cover any 3 of them your QR Code will NOT scan successfully.

Mobile + Print: Better Together!

We hope that you find these tips helpful as you look for ways to reach the mobile audience!

We truly believe that QR Codes are one of the best ways to integrate mobile into your printed materials.

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6 Tips For Cleaning Up Your Marketing Efforts

It’s always a good time to make a proverbial clean sweep of your marketing efforts and see what needs to be cleaned up, de-cluttered or re-vamped. (Scheduling something like this once a year can be a great thing).

Here Is Your Marketing Cleaning Checklist:

Dump The Old Stuff
Time to look at your materials, both online and offline. Anything that is old and out of date needs to go. If the material has some merit, then put it to the side and use it to repurpose later after your cleaning efforts are done. But you may be surprised to find old brochures with incorrect contact information. Or web pages that show pictures and details of employees who no longer work for the company. Things like this make it appear as if you don’t pay attention to detail. So it’s imperative that you dump the old and make way for the new.

Scrub Your Social Presence
Spruce up your avatars and cover photos. Make sure all the contact information and other details are current. Then look at the past year’s updates. Determine what the “hits” were and what the “misses” with your audience were. Focus on the content that resonates and as you go over your editorial calendar for the year, make sure you are concentrating on the content that clicks.

Missing Anything?
While you’re working your social media profiles, make sure that you’re not missing another social media platform that would fit in with your goals and your audience. There are many, many social media options out there, and new ones popping up all the time. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to connect with your audience. And thankfully, it’s not like you have to take on additional work beyond setting up your profile. There are services available that allow you to synchronize your tweets, posts and updates so that everything can be scheduled out.

Time It Right
Content is important, but did you know timing is crucial as well? Pull out that editorial calendar again and look at what you have scheduled. Is it too little, too spaced out? Is it too much, information overload? You want to find the sweet spot of staying in front of your audience and being an informational resource, but not being the annoying know-it-all pest.

Check The Search Results
Google is constantly tweaking the way it ranks pages. You should never get complacent about how your business is pulling up on searches. You want to see what’s ranking high and what’s not and figure out the “why” of both.

Do A Little Redecorating
Maybe your website can change up from a 2-column to a 3-column. Maybe some of your online materials are due for a bit of a spruce-up. Taking some time for Marketing Cleaning can help ensure your company stays on track and looks its best. It’s easy to let some of the little things slide, but you want to show your audience that you place high importance on even the smallest of details. A little cleaning goes a long way!

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6 Ways To Get Your Sales Groove Back

Are your sales in a slump?

Or maybe your sales are just not where you want them to be. Without sales, you don’t have a business making money. So slumping sales aren’t just a downer, it can be downright scary for everyone in the company because the bottom line is that everyone feels the effects. Here are some ways you can get your sales groove back and get the numbers moving in the right direction:

1. Look at the products and services you offer. Are you missing anything? Is there something that you can offer that would complement your current offerings? A new product or service can really add some oomph to sales for a company.

Or perhaps it’s how it’s all packaged. Can you bundle certain products or services in a way that not only makes sense, but exudes “newness” as well? The “newness” is exciting and that excitement can shine through in your marketing materials and beyond. And that excitement is contagious to the point where your prospects and current customers want to hop on board and work with you.

2. Brainstorm on the true wants and needs of your audience. Wants and needs can change. And your marketing materials and sales strategies may not have changed along with those various wants and needs. So have employees from all departments answer the wants and needs question so you can get a diverse sampling of responses.

You may want to contact some of your customers and ask them. They may surprise you with their answers. By adjusting some of your materials (hopefully you won’t need to make a major overhaul) and how you approach your audience, you will see the sales numbers improve.

3. Along with determining the current wants and needs, you should re-evaluate the benefits your products and services offer. A benefit that would be a great talking point last year may be outdated and impractical now. So update your benefits and make sure that your sales department stresses the new, current benefits to your prospects and customers.

4.  Celebrate the little victories. Your business should be recognizing its hard workers. A happy work environment includes one in which its employees are given the high-five for their ideas, breakthroughs and hitting milestones. And happy employees work harder to hit those goals and keep those customers coming back.

5.  Create new sales goals. When was the last time your sales goals were updated? It’s not easy to get excited about goals if they haven’t been tweaked or brought up-to-date in a long time.

6. Take a walk down memory lane. While “new” is great, sometimes you should look back to see what you did in the past that worked. Revisit the time that you landed a huge, exciting customer. Or the time that a particular marketing strategy resulted in a huge influx of sales. What was it about those times that seemed to resonate with your audience and create those great results? You don’t want to go back in time and just hit the repeat button, but you do want to look at what actions could translate to today’s market and replicate that.

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How To Teach Your Audience About QR Codes

When you are in the thick of all things marketing, staying on top of the latest in mobile marketing and how to interconnect your print and online media, it’s easy to forget that your average consumer does not stay on top of such things.

Here are some tips on how to teach your target market how to use QR codes so you can have a successful QR code campaign in the future.

Get your audience over any fear they might have. By providing them information, you are showing that you are reliable and trustworthy.

Start simple and remember that different people learn differently. Offer your instructions in different formats. Create a white paper or a series of blog posts for those in your audience who like to read step by step directions. Create a downloadable audio file with those same step by step instructions for those who like to listen, especially on the go. And then don’t forget to employ some videos that show everything broken down into steps.

Don’t assume you are dumbing things down too much. By creating your instructions in a series of blog posts and videos, your users can pick and choose what they want to read or watch. So they can skip over anything that is too simplistic. But don’t make assumptions that your target market knows how to do even the most basic of things. Not everyone knows they need a scanning app.

Make your videos and blog posts readily accessible. Don’t let them get buried under newer offerings. It’s okay to promote them every so often to remind your audience that you can virtually walk them through the process of getting a scanning app on their mobile device, how to scan that app and what to do from there.

Stay on top of QR code news and share with your audience.  Post about QR codes you find in everyday life, on mailers, at the store, you name it. It shows that you keep your fingers on the pulse of how others are using QR codes, when they’re working and when they’re not.

And a great side benefit is that while you are sharing with your audience and helping them to learn more ways on how QR codes can bring them discounts, information and more, you are also learning some great marketing techniques (or maybe learning from the failures) yourself.

Mobile marketing doesn’t end with QR Codes. They are only the beginning.

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3 Best Practices For Direct Mail

As a marketer, you may not know that there are many tools and technologies available to help your company execute successful direct mail efforts. Using tools such as variable data printing, personalized URLs, and personalized QR Codes can easily create measurable campaigns.

If you are looking to personalize direct mail pieces for your customers, here are three ideas worth considering.

Consider the location of the recipient and design the materials accordingly.

By taking a look at the recipient’s location, you should be able to identify a data element that could be converted to personalized content. For example, if you are sending direct mail to promote your retail store, gym, or another physical location, you could personalize the piece to show just how close the person is to that spot. This could be represented graphically, via a map, or simply in text (i.e. “you are less than 2 miles away!”)

If you are targeting previous customers, appeal to that and possibly reference the product or service they purchased.

If we are sending direct mail pieces to our existing customers, we truly have no excuse not to personalize our materials. Take the time to look at their purchase history. With that data, you should be able to ensure that the promotions and offers on your direct mail piece are truly relevant to them.

Based on demographics, select color(s) that may appeal to each group.

This one may take a bit more research and creativity. But there certainly are studies out there regarding the effect that certain colors may have on different groups of people. If you can find a way to use the right ones for the segments inside of your target audience, you should be able to increase your response rates.

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4 Tips to Increase QR Code Scans

Mobile marketing has introduced us to a completely new way of promoting products to our audience.  If you have not introduced mobile marketing channels to your printed products, now is the time to start!

Here are a few tips to help you incorporate QR Codes into your marketing strategy and increase the number of QR Code scans. Don’t forget to use a QR Code that you can track. If your QR Codes aren’t trackable and you can’t measure them, it’s not worth doing.

1) Provide instructions near the QR Code
Yes, awareness of QR Codes has increased dramatically since they have entered the marketing world. But there are still plenty of people out there that don’t know what they are or how to use them. To assist those folks, provide instructions near the QR Code on your printed materials.

This could be done by simply including text (i.e. “Scan the QR Code with your smartphone”) or by incorporating an image that displays a smartphone pointing to the QR Code, or an image that depicts how the QR Code could point to a smartphone that is displaying a website.

2) Give people an incentive
As marketers first become familiar with QR Codes, they often rush too quickly to incorporate them. They’ll skip over fundamentals such as “Why would my audience want to scan this?” Rather than just slapping a QR Code on your printed materials, develop a reason for why you should have one. Will it make it easier for your audience to access a map or directions? Will it make the process easier for people to contact your company or to make a purchase?

Include that reason somewhere on your printed materials to let people know what benefits they’ll receive by scanning the code. The call-to-action is key!

3) Educate your audience ahead of time
Yes, QR Codes exist primarily to make print interactive. But you can use other medias to increase awareness about them. Create blog posts on your website that talk about them. Produce a video that demonstrates how someone could successfully use their smartphone to scan them. Promote examples of QR Codes on your social media channels and eNewsletters to increase awareness of what they can lead to.

By taking those steps, you will create awareness, and enhance your audience’s knowledge of how they can benefit from using QR codes.

4) Shorten the destination URL
This one is very important! Yes, QR Codes can hold a lot of data. But the more data that you have in a QR Code, the harder it may be for someone to scan it quickly. Make sure to use a service that shortens your URLs before generating the QR Code.

Hope you find these tips helpful!

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5 Steps to Successful Integrated Marketing Campaigns

Marketers are always trying to utilize new channels, reach their entire audience, and deliver content that people want. However, that’s not always easy to do.

To reach those goals and objectives, many companies are striving to deliver integrated marketing solutions.

Wikipedia defines integrated marketing communications as “the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost”.

Does that sound good to you? I’m betting that it might.

Here are five steps to successfully accomplish that:

Know What Your Audience Prefers
Find ways to record and honor each contact’s preferences for receiving communications from your company. Ask them during the initial opt-in process. Allow them to manage and update their preferences easily through future communications. If you do not have any of that data, create simple surveys from time to time that seek to gain valuable feedback from your list, but yet that rewards them at the same time.

Prepare & Plan
This one is pretty much a given considering words in the definition (“coordination”, “program”)… but in a world where we seemingly all have to do more with less, we may be tempted to skimp on the time we invest in planning and hop right to execution. While that doesn’t always doom us to immediate failure, a lack of a plan will absolutely leave us with expectations that were not completely fulfilled. We will miss opportunities for follow-ups or for quick transitions if things need to be adjusted on-the-fly.

Maintain Branding & Consistent Messages
Yes, our tone might be slightly different in a channel such as social media as opposed to print. But we must have a goal as to how we want people to feel about our company, products, and services. All of the channels that we use should aim to leave that same impression on the audience.

Be Relevant
This one certainly goes along with knowing what our audience prefers. But it requires more than that. It means that we must be committed to creating multiple variations of our content (yes, they’ll have the same overall goal, but they’ll be written so as to appeal to different groups); it means investing in technology that will allow us to create and send out personalized customized communications. Yes, if our customers and prospects have taken steps to tell us what they are interested in, we must abandon the “spray and pray” approach.

Track, Measure, & Analyze
Designing and executing an integrated marketing campaign can actually be kind of fun (“I’m using everything at my disposal!”). But we must also be sure to capture every piece of data that is relevant to those actions. Analyze the data to look for trends, successes, and failures. Then, share the results with various departments in your organization.

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