Friday, May 30, 2008
I love this first post by the Servant of Chaos. Entitled "Seeing the Wonder in Technology," Gavin Heaton discusses how cool it is to be able to engage with the technology today and communicate real-time with folks across the globe. And it's all at our fingertips. It's very cool and as I pointed out in a comment, it hasn't been that long ago that none of this was possible. I remember when internet access was restricted at AT&T in the 90s because the leadership team thought people wouldn't work if they had access to the internet. Can you even imagine doing your job without it today? And that doesn't even take blogs, podcasts, instant message discussions and the like into consideration. Great post!
The next post we really liked was my 2 cents: Holding the bag? Author David Reich discusses the recent announcement by American Airlines about the additional cost of checking even one bag. Reich wonders if this announcement and the resulting consumer uproar makes for a great marketing opportunity for rival airlines -- or not (because they'll follow suit). I personally think the bigger issue is that, unfortunately, the airlines now treat us all badly -- it doesn't matter if you're a once-a-year flier or some super-executive-plutonium-platinum frequent flier status. Anymore, it's just not a good experience with the airlines. They tend to be surly and confrontational, as opposed to customer oriented. That's fallen by the wayside. I think this post will resonate with many!
As a post-script to this, however, I've got to give my friends at Southwest a shout out! They do, really try to treat their customers better. And, I think that they've separated themselves from the rest by keeping their customer focus -- and by doing things like writing a blog where customers can interact with them. If you haven't checked out their blog, definitely do -- it's a good one! By the way, the most recent post features a video from their CEO talking about the fact that "Fees don't fly at Southwest." See what I mean?
Can you think of all of the advertising you've seen lately on being green? Well, if you read our blog, you know we're environmentally friendly marketers and a big fan of Kermit the Frog. On a recent Melodies in Marketing post, blog author Mario Vellandi posts "10 Signs of Greenwashing" by Futerra Communications. It's a cute post that gives us both pictures and words of some of this over-the-top marketing that may be just that . . . over-the-top. Some products (take cigarettes for example) just can't be made to be green, no matter how much the manufacturer may try!
Enjoy these posts and a lovely weekend to all!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Let me start off by saying (just to be perfectly clear!)--today's post is not only for the direct marketing industry.
With that said, I think all of you direct marketers can benefit from this sage advice I found today on Laura Rowley's Money and Finance site on Yahoo. The article provides Seven Ways to Get a Raise in a Soft Economy.
Essentially the article acknowledges the soft economy we're facing today, but urges people not to let the economy stop them from seeking a pay raise.
"Employers will shed 45,000 jobs a month on average in the current quarter, forecasters predict, and unemployment will rise to 5.5 percent from 5.1 percent by the fourth quarter.Here are her tips to help you get that 4% raise (or even a bigger one!):
At the same time, companies are expected to hand out raises of 4 percent this year, according to a survey by the Washington-based Economic Research Institute."
Mistake No. 1: Assuming you can't ask for a raise. In a nutshell--if you don't ask, you won't get one!
Mistake No. 2: Justifying your request for a raise. Don't make the raise contingent on something going on in your life (just had a baby; wife lost job; etc). Instead communicate the benefits that you've brought to your company. Talk about your successes as a reason why you deserve that raise.
Mistake No. 3: Asking at the wrong time. Don't ask for a raise right when you're back from a nice vacation. Instead ask right after you've done something really great for your company.
Mistake No. 4: Tooting your own horn too loudly. Instead of talking about how good you are, demonstrate it.
Mistake No. 5: Promoting your unconventional style. Instead, try to emulate the corporate culture you're working in. This will get you much further--your company will be more apt to want to keep you, AND give you that raise.
Mistake No. 6: Listening to what the company says instead of watching what it does. Pay attention to the type of actions the company rewards, not what they state are their values.
Mistake No. 7: Quitting when you don't get the raise you want. Now, understanding that your company doesn't value you enough to give you that raise might be a good reason to start looking. But, quit after you've landed the new job, not before.
As a closing note, yes, this economy might be tough, but we believe that direct marketers absolutely have the tools to thrive and to get those raises. After all, our work is based on measurable results. Be prepared to show, in writing with graphs and figures, exactly how your marketing efforts equated to new customers acquired, new sales made or profitable customers retained.
We direct marketers are lucky that a key component of our job (the measurement piece), the very essence of what we do every day is also that very thing that we can also use to justify our raises.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
In a recent article in BtoBOnline, Bob Orf, President of Data Mentors describes how the cost of direct marketing with dirty data can wreak havoc on already stretched budgets. As Bob points out, "As one-to-one relationship marketing becomes more the norm, databases are expanding at exponential rates. In fact, corporate databases double in size roughly every six to nine months. These two factors alone should be sufficient stimulus for businesses to get their databases in order in a cost-effective manner. The average business database contains a staggering amount—15% to 40%—of bad data. That means roughly one in four pieces of marketing material mailed is worthless."
Yikes! That'll keep you up at night -- 25% of your direct mail is not getting to the intended recipient? I can imagine the C-Levels all over the country clutching their hearts over this statistic. In an economy that demands that every dollar be spent as intelligently as possible, you would think that this would be totally unacceptable at any company.
When you think about it, it isn't that difficult to clean up your customer database. Let's face it -- the widely available data hygiene tools are cheap and readily available in the marketplace. There just isn't a good reason anymore to have dirty data.
And, once you get your data assets cleaned up with these hygiene tools, it's easier and more cost effective than it used to be to keep your data managed effectively. Not only does this save you money, effective data management enables you to touch your customers efficiently. Once you've got this orchestrated, this will positively impact customer satisfaction as well.
The savings realized by effectively fixing your data quality issues can be staggering. Let's look at Orf's example:
Let’s assume a company’s 10 million-record database consists of 15% bad data. The company uses the database to conduct synchronized direct response mail and one-to-one relationship marketing campaigns. It touches the entire customer base quarterly. That’s an annual total of 40 million pieces of printed material at an average unit cost of approximately $1.05 each (labor, material, postage). Shaving 10 points off the bad data percentage would translate into a gross savings exceeding $4 million.$4 million in savings will make anyone look like a hero in their organization. When you add in the positive impact to customer satisfaction and all of the time and resources saved by implementing a sound data quality strategy, you've hit a home-run!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Just like all of you out there, I read lots of news, blogs and articles each and every day. Part of this curiosity is my need to keep up-to-date on what's going on in marketing, and part (quite honestly) is to ensure that we keep coming up with new info to share with readers of this blog.
So, when I come across information that I can take action on and use almost immediately, I get really happy. That's what happened this morning when I came across a super article on how B2B marketers can make use of social marketing. Be forewarned--this is not the usual advice on how corporations need to create a blog to initiate a dialog with their customers (although we believe that IS important). It also does not give the same advice to put up profiles on places like Facebook, just so your brand can have a presence there.
What it does provide is practical tactics centered around using social marketing for B2B marketers. The article, which essentially consists of an interview with Bianca Garcia, a media planner for Overdrive Interactive is titled: How a Social Media Campaign Fits into a B2B Media Plan.
Here are some of tips I found especially interesting:
- Go beyond LinkedIn. Be on the look-out for industry-specific social networking sites, but don't ignore the sites for the masses such as Facebook, because many businesspeople are participating on a business level. (Check out this Direct Marketing Facebook group that we participate in actively.)
- Ms Garcia advises us to "look at online campaigns holistically, meaning I don't just think of a social media campaign as establishing a mere presence in the social networks, but I always tie in banner ads, blog outreach, e-mail blasts, newsletter sponsorships, etc., into the media mix."
- She reminds us not to forget about YouTube, as this is a fabulous opportunity to get your product info in front of interested viewers. "Some B2B companies might dismiss YouTube as simply a youth-oriented, amateur-video site, but it is far from that. YouTube has turned into such a powerful and relevant social media tool that anyone can leverage its reach and viral effectiveness. There are thousands of education, science and technology, news, and how-to videos about and produced by various B2B brands and companies."
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here are our favorite links of the week:
In honor of the season approaching, here's a great post from the Extreme Horizon Surfing Blog. Author "Northcore" posts many compelling questions about being a true surfer on this blog. In this post, he discusses how to determine if you are a true surfing addict. This is an entertaining blog and a good one to get us all ready for Sum-Sum-Summertime!
Next, we'd like to feature the Diva Marketing Blog. In this post, our favorite Diva interviews Richard Binhammer on how Dell has integrated Social Media into its marketing plan. Binhammer provides some great insight on how a large corporation is utilizing social media successfully to have more meaningful conversations with it's customers. Great interview and lots of thought-provoking insight!
Our buddy, Robert Rosenthal, featured a very compelling post on Freaking Marketing. Entitled "The Downturn May Not Be the Only Thing Keeping You Down," Robert discusses how many marketing groups are run by dictatorial know-it-alls who refuse to move from the old, stale ideas to try the new, fresh ideas that are more relevant today. Not only does this post really make you re-think the economic slowdown, the commentary from the many commenters is really interesting. Take a look -- we know you'll enjoy the idea exchange!
On the opposite side of the table, you have the Marketo Blog, where blogger Jon Miller talks to Susanne Lyons, a CMO who has over 25 years of experience with companies like Visa and Charles Schwab. Miller interviews Lyons on a podcast on how she has built power and respect through marketing accountability over her career. Here is an example of where those truly forward-thinking marketers continue to make a difference by embracing those fresh ideas that are relevant today.
Finally, in my own self interest, today is my twin-pug-brothers 3rd birthday. And, doggone it, I wanted to share that with all of you. Here's a picture of Willy and Woody -- the 2 little monsters in my life. Happy Birthday Boys!
Have a great three day weekend, all!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I try at all times to keep my inner cynic at bay. But, I have to tell you that every time I see the commercial for LifeLock come on TV, I cringe. You know the one--there's a big truck printed with a guy's social security number and the ad is touting his service that is designed to stop identity theft. He's so sure that his service works, that he doesn't mind sharing his social security number--with everyone.
To me, that's simply an invitation for a cocky thief.
Well, apparently, a smart criminal rose to the challenge and has succeeded. Check out this article just in: ID-protection ads come back to bite pitchman. From the article:
"Davis (the president of LifeLock) acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity, and one succeeded: a guy in Texas who duped an online operation last year into giving him $500 using Davis' Social Security number."The failure to protect even his own identity has sparked a number of lawsuits (big surprise there...).
"The lawsuits, for which Paris (attorney leading the action) is seeking class-action status, highlight the fundamental limits on how much security identity-theft companies can provide.
Companies like LifeLock can help guard against only certain types of financial fraud by helping consumers set up alerts with credit bureaus, which inform them when someone tries to open a new line of credit or boost their credit limit to finance a buying binge, for example."
I guess the moral of the story is--identity theft is something to be taken seriously, and there really are no easy answers. You simply don't need a company like LifeLock to help you monitor your own credit report--go directly to the bureaus for that. You can also ask them about fraud alerts and how to use them to fight identity theft, too.As direct marketers, we too, need to always be on the look-out for areas where data might be stolen or misused. News like this reminds me about how we are often privy to sensitive customer info in the course of our day-to-day data mining and analysis projects. Accidents and theft CAN happen. We need to make sure that we have the appropriate measures in place to ensure that they DON'T happen.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
We're big believers in letting the consumer or business dictate which channel and how often they prefer to receive communications. By paying attention to these factors, direct marketers can make the most out of each DM campaign. This is becoming increasingly important when it comes to e-marketing.
According to DM News today, Habeus, Inc., has just conducted some research that concurs with our thoughts. The study looked at how e-mail and online interaction with businesses overall is being adopted by consumers. A few key points that came out of the study were that, overall, more consumers prefer to receive e-mail messages from direct marketers -- in fact, it is the channel of choice most of the time.
Here's a snippet from the article: “'E-mail is still vital, and it will continue to be,' said Des Cahill, CEO of Habeas Inc., of the fact that 67% of respondents prefer e-mail as a communications channel compared with other online vehicles and 65% believe this will continue in the next five years." Sixty-seven percent is nothing to sneeze at!
Folks are busier than ever these days, and if they can go to their computer to do their shopping and purchasing because companies are sending out targeted, relevant e-mails, it's no wonder that this percentage is so high.
The other two findings were (1) that consumers, in particular, are still very wary of spam -- both to their computers and wireless devices. So, while they prefer e-mail, they don't want to be spammed; and (2) they'd like to have more control over both the frequency and the content of the e-mails that they receive. “Consumers want more control, so we are recommending our customers set up preference centers,” Cahill said. Just imagine . . . as part of our direct marketing efforts, teams are being created to determine customer preferences. This is the ultimate in letting the customer dictate the marketing that they receive, and demonstrates that pull versus push marketing is becoming more of the norm.
We really like this trend -- and we'll be tracking it for you as it continues to evolve.
Monday, May 19, 2008
These survey results just in from The CMO Club, an association of over 1,200 CMOs: Direct marketing budgets are not likely to be cut, even in this economic down-turn.
So says the Phoenix Business Journal's release of preliminary survey results on Marketing in a Recession. Know that full results from The CMO Club will be announced Tuesday at their CMO CLUB Summit in NYC
In order to see full results, you'll need to submit a fairly extensive questionnaire to The CMO Club (which I did--just waiting for them to approve my membership). Therefore, no link is provided to the full results. However, this article gives a pretty good synopsis.
Survey: Marketing efforts likely to survive downturn-driven budget cuts.
From the article:
"Seventy-one percent of chief marketing officers in the study do not plan on cutting their company's marketing budget, while only 14 percent said they would.So, let's hope that these CMOs represent marketers-at-large (or at least the companies we work for and the clients we work with!). And, let's help them succeed at keeping those budgets intact, simply by implementing measurable, effective and creative programs!
Other key findings:
- When asked which budget line items would be cut first, advertising and mass marketing strategies (32 percent) were cited most frequently.
- Online strategies, such as search engine optimization and online marketing campaigns, were cited as the least likely to be cut, followed by public relations campaigns."
Challenge:This case study serves as a reminder that as direct marketers -- and as people -- we all need a little fun in our lives. Cox and Agilent deserves a big round of applause for figuring this out!
Marketing measurement instruments and lab supplies to scientists and researchers typically requires communications heavy in detail and data, says Christine Cox, Marketing Programs Manager, Agilent Technologies.
Last summer, though, Cox and her team wanted to try a new campaign that would stand out from the typical, data-heavy efforts they frequently run. “Think about getting all that email from us, our competitors and scientific journals. We wanted to break through their inbox and wanted our customers to have a little fun.”
They had been experimenting with B-to-C marketing for a line of consumable lab materials -- vials, syringes, and the like. They wanted to see if they could launch a full-fledged campaign to boost sales in a new fun way.
Cox was inspired by online campaigns she had seen from travel companies and other consumer retailers. So, she and her team developed an online, interactive game and giveaway that offered specific customers a diversion. The game was designed to promote brand awareness and boost sales of Agilent’s consumable products.
Here are the 5 steps they took:
Step #1. Pick theme based on key products
Cox and her team designed an interactive experience with a seasonal theme to promote a select group of products. Called “Summer of Fun Giveaway,” the campaign featured bright, colorful Flash animation of a beach scene, complete with graphics of palm trees, surfers and Caribbean music.
Visitors to the Summer of Fun site first had to register by providing:
o Company name
o Email address
o Mailing address (for delivery of the giveaway item)
The game required participants to click on a grid of tiles to uncover three matching images of the company’s products. Cox and her team selected products that were high-volume, low-cost items typically used in a lab setting to prepare samples for analysis and work with Agilent instruments.
They also looked for a group of products that had a high cross-sell potential, knowing that if a customer needed vials, for instance, they would also need syringes.
The three product images the team selected:
o Lamps for liquid chromatographs
Step #2. Customize user experience and giveaway
They worked off a database of US customers with certain product needs and purchase behavior. The information was used to develop a customized list of potential game players.
Depending on which Agilent products a customer had purchased, they would see:
o Images of vials and syringes
o Images of vials, syringes and lamps needed for certain products
All users who played received something based on their purchase history:
o Customers who were not frequent buyers received a 15% promotional discount code for future purchases
o Frequent and loyal customers received either a branded beach towel or small cooler
Anticipating that some customers would share the URL with friends and colleagues, they also designed a default-game setting for viral visitors. Visitors who registered for the game using a personal email account, such as Yahoo! or Gmail, received a towel or a cooler.
“If you usually buy from us and are a loyal customer, you’d get a towel or cooler. For folks we’d like to see purchase more -- customers we’d identified as those we wanted to increase our business from -- we gave an additional discount.”
Step #3. Establish quantity limits and deadline
Anticipating a viral response, they set game rules that protected them from providing too many giveaway items and blowing their marketing budget.
The official game rules established:
o Limit of 500 towels and coolers awarded
o Two-month time period for users to play
Step #4. Use multi-stage email promotion
When the game was ready to launch, Cox and her team promoted it through a multi-stage email campaign.
Here are the emails they sent:
- First message
The first message was sent under the subject line: “Agilent’s Summer of Fun Giveaway … everyone wins!” It featured bright HTML graphics that mimicked the summer theme of the Flash game. A custom link to the landing page contained the business intelligence required to serve customers the appropriate group of images and giveaway offer based on their past purchases.
- Second message
Two weeks after the initial email, the team sent a follow-up message. Customers who hadn’t clicked the link were reminded to play the game. Customers who had played the game were reminded to use their promotional discount code to purchase products, or were told that their towel or cooler was on the way.
- Third message
Two weeks before the end of the giveaway campaign, the team sent a third email message focusing on the deadline. Customers who hadn’t clicked were told that this was their last chance to play the game. Customers who had won a 15% promotional discount were reminded to use their code before it expired.
- Fourth message
After the two-month period, customers who had won a 15% discount received a phone call from a telesales representative. It gave them one more chance to purchase products with their discount.
Step #5. Track customer response
Cox and her team regularly perform customer analysis to segment their database for ongoing communications based on three customer segments:
o Win back
Tracking which customers played the game and their subsequent buying behavior helped them plan for future marketing. For example:
- Customers who played the game and purchased products might join or remain in the “loyal” segment. It made them eligible for more business rewards, such as a gift card to an ice-cream retailer or special preview access to technical and product information.
- Customers who still hadn’t increased their buying activity and continued to reside in the “grow” segment might be eligible for future campaigns offering further discounts to encourage purchases.
- Customers who dropped off might be segmented into “win-back” campaigns.
Cox was right: Researchers like to have a little fun, too. The Summer of Fun campaign beat its projected incremental revenue goal by 278%. “This really blew it out of the water,” she says.
The first email to launch the campaign and the first reminder email generated a 35% lift in the response rate Cox typically sees from sales-generating messages. Even better, 13.79% of the customers who played the game bought products, which Cox says was a significant increase over the typical campaign conversion rate.
The success of the campaign has validated Cox’s belief in adopting some consumer marketing tactics for transactional vs consultative purchases. And her strategy has caught the attention of colleagues. A marketing team from another Agilent division is planning to develop a similar campaign for their channel partners.
Have a great week!
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wow, I'm simply amazed at the power of the pen. Yesterday we participated in the Bloggers Unite initiative which was designed to "harness the power of the blogosphere to make the world a better place. By challenging bloggers to blog about a particular social cause on a single day, a single voice can be joined with thousands of others to help make a real positive difference." Stefanie, of the Focus Organic blog was kind enough to categorize the hundreds of blog posts from yesterday. With topics ranging from Children's Rights to Human Rights in China, we urge you to take a look at what fellow bloggers accomplished yesterday. I'm really proud that we participated.
Now on to our favorite marketing links!
This post from the Mobilestorm Digital Marketing Blog provides an excellent synopsis of how to use and how not to use MySpace and other social networks in your social marketing program. It advises marketers that there is a warning to be found in the recent grand jury indictment of a woman who allegedly caused the death of teenager Megan Meier by harassing her on MySpace. Very interesting read. And, I believe that there will be lots of media attention here.
For a little bit of inspiration in your life, check out this short post by Ross Hollman in his Strategize blog. He's quoted Walt Disney here. You may get inspired to start something new, or challenge yourself, so be forewarned.
You know there's nothing worse (in my opinion) than being stereotyped. That's why my sense of justice really loved this post called Four Fallacies about Female Consumers, from the WonderBranding Blog. Sneak peek at one of the four fallacies--I learned that women outspend men on purchasing electronic gadgets and gizmos. Who knew?
Finally, I was really pleased to find a blog that focuses specifically on Hispanic Marketing, called Hispanic Trending. Check out this blog post that reports on some new survey data about California Hispanics (yes, they ARE online!).
Another week has passed. Enjoy a sunny, wonderful weekend!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
As anyone who reads our blog knows, we love our blogs (all three of them!) -- and the whole premise of social marketing. Why? Because of the honest exchange of ideas and deep conversations that can occur through this medium.
Well, in case you're wondering about the topic of our post today, BlogCatalog is sponsoring a Blogger's Unite initiative today, May 15th. The purpose? Quite simply to use the power and passion of the blogging community to call attention to something more important than how to acquire your next customer or create your next e-marketing campaign -- Human Rights.
Today, as you're perusing your favorite blogs, you'll see a virtual plethora of posts about Human Rights globally. We've chosen to post on a city that is near and dear to our hearts -- New Orleans -- who suffered a great catastrophe in 2005. What we want to call attention to today, is that although Hurricane Katrina happened almost 3 years ago, New Orleans has not yet recovered. And, what happened there and continues even today, was blatant disregard for basic Human rights after an unbelievable natural disaster.
We all saw the devastation on television when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. To refresh your memory, Wikipedia provides the facts:
Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the five deadliest in the history of the United States. It was the sixth-strongest ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record that made landfall in the United States. Katrina formed on during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and caused devastation along much of the north-central Gulf Coast. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans Louisiana, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed, in many cases hours after the storm had moved inland.The aftermath was simply astounding -- and sickening. As a country, we weren't prepared and didn't react quickly enough to save many -- 1,464 people lost their lives. And, as we look back on the tragedy of Katrina almost three years later, it is a good example of how Human Rights in our own country were alarmingly overlooked.
In preparing to write this post, I came across NESRI -- the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. According to their site, NESRI "promotes a human rights vision for the United States that ensures dignity and access to the basic resources needed for human development and civic participation."
Their view is that in the aftermath of Katrina, what occurred is a microcosm of the state of Human Rights here in the US. And, worse still, the issue is very clear that human rights violations occur much more frequently to Blacks (and other people of color) than Whites. When you look at the aftermath of Katrina and read what actually occurred -- where the poor and elderly did not or could not leave the city even after the evacuation notices, this disturbing message is corroborated.
On the news, we saw the looting and rioting that went on in the city -- pitting police against citizens. Then -- shockingly -- we saw the horrific images of the "displaced and dehydrated survivors who attempted to escape from New Orleans by walking over the Crescent City Connection bridge over the Mississippi River only to be turned back at gunpoint by City of Gretna Police, along with Crescent City Connection Police and Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputies, who set up a roadblock on the bridge in the days following the hurricane. According to eyewitnesses, some of these officers threatened to shoot New Orleans residents and tourists as they attempted to cross into Gretna on foot."
As NESRI reports, these sorts of human rights violations would never have occurred to the White and wealthy. In fact,when reading the article from NESRI on the aftermath, this point is driven home:
Those left behind to die without food and water in New Orleans were the poorest households without access to transportation and primarily Black. The general public’s initial reaction was that no one deserved to be left in those circumstances, and for a brief moment a conversation about race and poverty in the U.S. appeared to be evolving. Yet, those not being welcomed back, as public schools remained closed and undamaged public housing units are not being made available, are also the poorest and primarily Black. As the reconstruction conversation moves on, the same community is being left behind once again, but this time there are no stark and painful images to prick the conscience of America.So on this day of reflection about Human Rights, let's not forget about our neighbors here in the US. Let's reflect on what we want -- and need to demand -- our politicians focus on as priorities as this election looms closer. We need to have the honest conversation about Human Rights in this country and how it is impacted by race. We need to be unafraid to discuss this -- and finally solve this problem. What happened and is happening in New Orleans is absolutely unacceptable from such a powerful nation. We need to live up to and practice the basic tenets of our constitution, and provide the same basic human rights to each and every one of our citizens -- regardless of race or how much money a person has. I fully believe that it is up to each and every citizen of the US to accomplish this.
And, let's not let what happened in New Orleans EVER happen again.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
When Google is part of a new company, I personally perk up and listen.
I was thrilled to see this press release from Sprint, announcing the creation of a new, "next-generation" wireless broadband business.
The high-points from the release:
- Sprint and Clearwire to Combine WiMAX Businesses, Creating a New Mobile Broadband Company
- Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks to Invest $3.2 Billion in Combined Company, at Target Price of $20.00 per Share
- Formation of New Company Brings Together the Nation's Leaders in Communications, Technology Innovation and Entertainment
- New Company to Speed Deployment of First Nationwide Next-Generation Mobile WiMAX Network
Clearwire Chairman Craig O. McCaw, said, "The power of the mobile Internet, which offers speed and mobility, home and away, on any device or screen, will fundamentally transform the communications landscape in our country. We believe that the new Clearwire will operate one of the fastest and most capable broadband wireless networks ever conceived, giving us the opportunity to return the U.S. to a leadership position in the global wireless industry."I have a couple of thoughts on this announcement:
"Google is a firm believer in supporting new ways for people to access the Internet," said Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer and chairman of Google. "We are proud to invest in the new Clearwire alongside several leading technology and communications companies, and we believe that its planned WiMAX network will increase the ability for users to get high-speed broadband anytime, anywhere."
- It's high time that the US wireless industry is announcing something new. Wouldn't it be great if the US does return to a global leadership position?
- It will be interesting to see what Google is up to with their involvement in the new company. Some people are suggesting that they'll become an ISP or a mobile carrier (although they are denying this). Another thought is that this network will allow Google to offer location-specific ads through mobile devices (as they'll now know where the consumer is). Google says, however, that they are most interested in the 'openness' of the new network. From Google's blog: "As we've supported open standards for spectrum and wireless handsets, we're especially excited that Clearwire intends to build and maintain a network that will embrace important openness features."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Well, after five long years, the Federal Trade Commission has taken another look at the CAN- SPAM Act of 2003, and approved four new rule provisions for the Act in a move to clarify it's requirements. According to this recent DM News Article:
These seem like reasonable updates, and from our perspective, these additional clarifications definitely make sense . . . although I'm not completely sure about what a non-natural person is defined as, in comparison to a natural one. Are we talking about Hollywood here? : )
The new provisions include the following:
- An e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender.
- The definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act's opt-out requirements.
- A “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act's requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address.”
- A definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM's obligations are not limited to natural persons.
In addition, the SBP accompanying the final rule also addresses CAN-SPAM's definition of “transactional or relationship message.”
It will also look at the length of time a sender of commercial e-mail has to honor an opt-out request, as well as the Commission's views on how CAN-SPAM applies to forward-to-friend e-mail marketing campaigns.
As we talk with our clients and colleagues across the industry, e-marketing is becoming the channel of choice. And from a consumer/business marketing preference perspective, it is often the preferred channel of delivery. It's unfortunate that Spam has become so wide-spread and obnoxious. However, with the development of better Spam filters, it is becoming easier to protect e-mail boxes from an onslaught of Spam and allow only those true e-marketing messages to get through (although some of ours get caught in those Spam filters which is a bit maddening).
All in all, I think the CAN-SPAM Act was necessary so that those who are Spammers can get fined when the FTC can catch them. And, it put up some barriers that more aggressive marketers must comply with to stay out of trouble.
As e-marketing continues to evolve as a preferred channel for direct marketers, it'll be interesting to see if the regulations lessen or become more restrictive. My bet is that they will become less restrictive as the focus shifts to new direct marketing channels like mobile marketing.
All in all, it'll be interesting to see how this evolves!
Monday, May 12, 2008
It's Monday and that means it's time to focus on a marketing case study. This week we've chosen Verizon and their successful direct marketing program that targeted small businesses. The full case study can be found here, published by Deliver Magazine. We liked this one because it goes back to the basics of using traditional direct marketing tactics, such as significant testing, a creative package that will get opened and proper data targeting.
Pushing the Envelope - Verizon Reaches Out to Small Businesses
It’s no secret that big companies often don’t do well when making overtures to small businesses. In many instances, their outreach efforts fail not because big businesses don’t have anything worthwhile to offer but because major marketers aren’t very good at holding the attention of small entrepreneurs.
In fall 2006, the telecom giant began sending out a test mailing of direct mail pieces that bore a striking resemblance to an all-too-familiar office-supply staple — the interoffice envelope. Verizon targeted 11,851 small businesses with the envelopes, which featured the words “INTERNET NOTICE” stripped across the top and the crossed-out names of fictitious previous recipients. A final “name” — “Cable User” — was unobscured, a cue for business owners to “cross out” their cable provider and switch to a high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) provided by Verizon.
The envelope was accompanied by a cover letter — with the heading “For Speed, For Features, For Price … Verizon Business DSL” — that was signed by Verizon small business marketing director Marquita Carter.
In an interview, Carter explains that Verizon officials settled on the three-month “Interoffice Envelope” campaign after tests suggested its simple familiarity stood a strong chance of cutting through the promotional clutter that confronts many small businesses.
“The iconic look of an interoffice envelope — who’s going to just toss that out?” asks Carter rhetorically. “We tested this approach and got some really strong results. It bettered our control number by 30 percent.”
Carter says a test is part of every direct mail campaign at Verizon. The company sends out two or more different pieces of direct mail and measures which one generates the most calls and conversions to sales. The responses are benchmarked against the control campaign, which is the best campaign from the last direct mail cycle.
“We put a lot of time, energy and research into understanding what makes them (small businesses) tick, what keeps owners up at night and what are the approaches that are really going to get their attention,” explains Carter. “We’re always testing and trying to find ways using direct mail to get the attention of a small business owner.”
Such research is what helped Verizon’s business marketing team decide to target a select group of businesses with the Interoffice Envelope campaign. Rather than take a scattershot approach, Verizon targeted small businesses with particular connectivity needs, promoting services like its rapid FiOS Internet connection to companies that handle matters such as engineering designs, financial documents, X-rays, legal files and data backups.
“Our focus is on what we consider a sweet spot — small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, businesses that really form the backbone of the U.S. economy, businesses that really have a need for high-speed Internet,” says Carter.
And while Carter says that Verizon uses a variety of media to get the attention of small business owners, direct mail will remain a constant in its messaging efforts. “It may vary from quarter to quarter, but we always have a constant stream of direct mail going to small businesses,” Carter notes. “It’s one of the most efficient ways to reach them.”
There you have it--the classic direct mail success story!
Friday, May 9, 2008
Welcome to this week's edition of the Friday Blog Log!
Let's get started with a good, all-around link. Dean Rieck's Direct Creative Blog post on "How to add Oomph to your Offer," provides us ideas on how to tweak your offer to make it resonate with more people. He also provides a document on proven offers that you can use when pondering your next great direct marketing campaign. In addition, if you sign up for his monthly newsletter, you'll get a plethora of great thoughts and ideas. In this month's newsletter edition, Dean comments on everything from balancing your life to great books covering a myriad of topics to helpful advice on increasing your direct marketing effectiveness. Dean provides so much valuable information in each edition -- and I look forward to reading it each month.
Next, I found a new (to me) blog out there that I really like by Ed Lee. It's called Blogging Me Blogging You, and the post I'm featuring today provides some of Ed's interesting research on measuring the effectiveness of both e-marketing and direct mail campaigns. He discusses some recent work that he and his colleague have done for a client and the resulting metrics in terms of response rate. He promises to share more as time goes on, so this is a good blog to subscribe to as Ed continues to update it. His net net is something that we've discussed a bunch, and that is that no one tactic can reach all of your audiences. I'll stay tuned to this blog to see Ed's future findings for sure!
Finally, here's my absolute favorite post of the week. It comes to us from Portland's Finest Advertising Blog and our friend, Phil Bernstein. I'm not going to give away the story because he tells it so well, but suffice it to say that it makes really good sense to be creative in looking for new opportunities that come out of a faltering economy. This is a great post!
Have a great weekend . . . and Happy Mother's Day to all of you Mothers out there!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
This morning, two completely different articles from DM News caught my eye and got me thinking.
The first: CDD pushes FTC on privacy in mobile
"The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the US Public Interest Research Group are taking on the Federal Trade Commission to address privacy issues in mobile marketing."Apparently, the CDD wants the FTC to address privacy in mobile marketing, including regulating profiling and targeting.
"The new complaint addresses marketing practices from a technological level. It will examine Enpocket's Personalization Engine, a behavioral technology for the mobile device. It will also look at technologies from other companies which profile gender, age, language, income, education, country, state, ZIP/postal code, GPS coordinates, behaviors and in the context of voicemail and text messages."When I take off my direct marketing hat and think about mobile marketing from a consumers' perspective, it can be a little frightening. Marketers can know where I am at all times. Essentially, they can track me. It does seem like an invasion of my privacy...
And, the second article: Keys to trigger-based e-mail marketing. The article discusses how marketers can take advantage of internal or external triggers to deliver the exact right message when that customer is ripe to purchase your product.
"Imagine having information regarding your customers' life-changing events, such as the purchase of a home or opening of a checking account, at your fingertips, and the dexterity to send out the right offer at precisely the right time.Of course, this makes sense to us (and, in fact, we've implemented some highly effective trigger programs for our clients). But, many consumers may be creeped out thinking about the fact that their data is out there for marketers to exploit.
Well, there's no need to imagine.
Trigger-based marketing programs are enabling e-mail marketers to communicate insightful offers in a timely fashion to both customers and prospects, yielding as much as a 400 percent improvement in response rates without costing millions of dollars."
It's a real concern. As direct marketers, we really do need to balance consumer privacy issues with our own desires to produce effective, money-generating campaigns.
Yet, it can be done, and in my opinion, if it's done with transparency and if we communicate effectively with the customer or prospect, and ALWAYS keep their needs in mind, then we all win.
I like to use Amazon as an example. When they first started data mining and modeling to predict which products an individual would be most interested in, based on what they had purchased in the past, I remember people being irked by it. Why is this e-tailer keeping track of what I'm buying and where I'm browsing? Yet, when consumers started actually being interested in the Amazon-generated recommendations, and when we started counting on them, that's when perceptions changed.
Now, we expect our e-tailers to know about us and to treat us like the good customers we are. If they can offer suggestions, or discounts highly pertinent to us, so much the better. This builds loyalty and we keep spending our money there. The creep-factor of them knowing too much about us has been overwhelmed by the benefits we receive from them knowing a lot about us.
In my opinion, here's why it worked for Amazon:
- Amazon never tried to keep what they were doing a secret. They came right out and said something like: based on your past purchases, we thought you might also enjoy X and Y.
- The second reason this works for them: they did it right (their technology worked) and they brought real value to their customers.
Bringing this back around to the original article about privacy concerns in the Mobile Marketing Industry--If people start receiving, for example, meaningful coupons on their cell phone, when they're shopping at that store, this might overwhelm the creep factor. But, let me tell you, those coupons better bring real value to the customer and the technology better be flawless. Or else, you're gonna have some mighty irritated customers. And, they'll be right there in your store, in your face, angry and ready to let someone have it. Yikes!
Thinking of the customer first is what is going to keep the creep-factor at bay.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Last Friday, I attended an excellent workshop and networking event at the University of Southern California's (USC) Center for Telecommunications Management (CTM). It was the fifth workshop in the CTM series "Understanding the Networked Digital Industry." The series focuses on exploring the new landscape of the networked digital industry which they define as "the emerging business ecosystem created by the convergence of new digital technologies, products, services and content enabled by new broadband and wireless networks." Phew -- that's a mouthful!
As you know, we have been part of and consultants to the telecommunications industry for many years, and we like to imagine that we are up-to-speed on how these emerging technologies are impacting the direct marketers' suite of tools in which to communicate with the customer. As a matter of fact, the Executive Director of CTM is one of my favorite ex-SVP's at AT&T, Morley Winograd.
Morley is brilliant -- and it's always great to hear him speak on topics that he is truly passionate about. The topic of Friday's workshop was "The Millennial Generation: Revolutionizing the Enterprise Workplace?" Morley has been studying this generation for some time now, and he presented some very interesting ideas on how they will definitely impact not only the workplace, but how marketers will have to think about how they communicate with them.
By the way, Millennials are defined as the generation after the Gen Xers. They are ages 6-22 years old right now, so are entering the workforce and are definitely impacting the economy with their earnings. In the workshop, they were referred to as the next "great" generation -- being directly compared with the GI Generation (the oldest living generation today -- the World War 2 era folks -- ages 84 and older). The GI Generation shaped our economy back in the 1920s. And, Morley feels that the Millennials will have the same impressive impact on the economy of today.
So, what is a Millennial besides a certain age group? Well, these kids and young-adults are closer to their parents today than any other generation before them. They have been raised thinking that they are "special" from all of the gaming that they've participated in (Wizards in Training). They have been sheltered (very naive about the real world) by their parents, however, they are very confident and feel they can do anything. They are very conventional in their thought-process. They feel that rules have value, however, they are not conservative in their political philosophies as can be evidenced by how avidly they support Barack Obama.
The one trait that stands out more than others is that they are team players. This is because they have been "connected" from a very young age. They are used to being able to wake up in the morning and text or "tweet" their friends to find out what everyone's doing, then planning their day from there. Truth is much more subjective and very much group dependent. They are not fond of traditional corporate firewalls -- how can they bounce things off of the people they trust most (their friends) if they aren't allowed to share their ideas about work with them.
They feel very pressured to work, work, work and really want to achieve. They truly value society's rewards. They have a tendency to move toward "safe" professions and because of this, I think they will have a huge impact on the health-care industry (medical is one of the biggest areas of their studies).
Millennials didn't work outside the home like Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Therefore, they have been trained to be Master Negotiators -- they had to negotiate for their allowances from their parents. Many of the presenters discussed how their children would prepare a Powerpoint presentation to get their points across effectively to their parents. There was even a story where one child did something wrong, so prepared a presentation on how it occurred, complete with a full outline of optional punishments for the offense. Wow!
So, how does this impact us as direct marketers? Well, let me get you started with a few thoughts, then I'd love to hear what you think. The first thing that comes to my mind is the channels of communication. Direct marketers will have to figure out how to effectively reach this generation through mobile marketing for certain. However, because of their tendency to seek consensus with their friends, it will become more important than ever to utilize "pull" versus "push" marketing campaigns. These kids are on My Space, Twitter, YouTube, etc. As marketers, we'll need them to start the conversation about our products and services. We'll need to get them excited so that they communicate about it to their friends -- and have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons, their likes and dislikes, and get everyone involved in the discussion.
It'll be interesting to see how this impacts corporate direct marketing campaigns over the next few years. First of all, more Millennials will be engaged in creating direct marketing strategy. Second, they'll be engaged in starting and continuing the discussion around products and services. This will be fun to watch. And, I love that this is a positive and optimistic generation. With the impact that they have on the market, I have renewed faith that they'll assist greatly in putting the economy back on track.
No pressure, kids -- I swear! : )
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to get back to basics--to review direct marketing principles and remember to apply those learnings to current campaigns.
This article made me think hard about an email marketing essential--the proper subject line. Man Bites Giraffe: Some Awesome (and Awful) Email Subject Lines.
The author, email marketing expert Josh Nason, has collected a wide variety of emails and he comments on what lines are effective, and why they're effective. I tend to agree with most of his observations. And, I definitely agree with his 'golden rule.'
"Always remember the Golden Rule of email marketing subject lines: Tell what's inside, don't sell what's inside."A reader should know what to expect in that email, and, if at all possible, should be intrigued enough to actually take the step to open it. Tougher than it seems, that's for sure.
Some other ideas we have on the topic of email subject lines:
- As firm believers of testing, we urge you to test versions of your subject line to get an objective view of what actually works (and not just what your 'gut' tells you will be most effective).
- Try to incorporate humor--this brings the fun factor to your campaign and can be a brand-booster, too.
- Consider using segmentation techniques and vary your subject line based on the segment you're communicating with. See yesterday's post that provides a case study demonstrating the power of segmentation in email marketing.
Monday, May 5, 2008
And, welcome to another Case Study Monday. Today's case study comes to us from Marketing Sherpa and it's a great one! Take a look at how this e-retailer used segmentation on its email campaigns to help weather an economic downturn.
An e-retailer has been using gender- and store-specific email promotions to lift revenue and grow their customer mailing list.
With consumers tightening their spending habits, many email marketers will be happy to see any kind of sales increase this year. James Connell, Senior Director for Ecommerce, Digital Marketing & New Media, Roots, a Canadian-based clothing multichannel retailer, realized late last year that his company might be affected, too. That’s why he and his team decided it was a perfect time to boost the relevancy of their emails.
“We needed to do a much better job of driving people to something that’s relevant,” Connell says. “I had been signing up for our competitors’ emails, and I had been getting mostly messages that didn’t apply to me. That was educational.”
Connell saw more relevancy as a competitive advantage their brand could pounce on. And with response rates dropping and consumer spending falling, he wanted to test some new ideas to optimize their email program.
Connell and his team were already following best practices on privacy and deliverability, but they were essentially sending the same offer to their whole email list over and over again. They knew the next step should be list segmentation … and time was of the essence because of the gloomy economic forecast.
First, Connell began by identifying some key areas where they could improve email relevancy.
o Targeting women and men with gender-specific offers
o Segmenting email lists even further based on their 128 store locations
o Identifying which days of the week were best for email by testing *every* day -- not just the industry-proven midweek days
Here are the five major tactics Connell and his team followed:
Tactic #1. Segment customer list by store location and gender
To deliver more targeted messages, Connell organized their list names into separate files according to store locations. They took the ZIP Code attached to each name from past online purchases and then assigned it to the closest store.
Then, he and his team divided the customer list even further into separate files for men and women. They manually went through their customer list to make the new files. For customers without distinctly male or female first names and purchase patterns, they created another file they labeled “undetermined.”
Tactic #2. Identify ‘un-determineds’
They didn’t stop with simply segmenting their customer list. Every ‘un-determined’ name was emailed a survey to get seven data points:
o Last purchase date at Roots.com
o Last purchase date in a Roots factory outlet store
o Favorite department
o If they were interested in Roots’ yoga department
The survey of “un-determineds” allowed Connell and his team to further segment their customer files by gender and their 124 Canadian and 4 US stores.
Tactic #3. Promote sign-ups at each store
The survey process also involved creating email sign-up forms for each store. New customers were offered the chance to win various prizes if they signed up. Store managers turned the names into Connell and his team by shop and city location.
Tactic #4. Create segmented offers
In the end, customers received both store- and gender-specific offers that involved printing out an email coupon (usually a discount on an item) to take to the nearby outlet.
- The copy pointed out that the offer was good not only online but also at their local Roots store.
- The address and a directions link were included to encourage redemption at the stores.
Customers who were not within driving distance of the stores did not receive these offers. They were put into a separate online-only customer file. They received gender-specific offers that were designed to purely drive online sales.
Tactic #5. Test emailing *every* day of the week
Connell didn’t want to leave any money on the table by taking for granted the industry’s almost de facto ‘best days’ [Monday through Thursday] for emails. So, they tested every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday.
Connell has no doubt that the segmentation tactics have increased the relevancy of the clothier’s email campaigns. At the same time, email-based sales have increased by 14% compared to the same period the year before.
“We’re happy to be getting a lift in these difficult economical times and expect the percent to continue to grow as we do more segmentation. We are seeing higher opens, click-throughs and better ROI. And because of the increased relevance, our emails get forwarded more often and we are increasing our subscriber base.”
Connell and his team grew their subscriber base by 22% during the first six weeks of the campaign with the in-store email component. “About half the stores have participated in the email promotions so far, and that number is increasing.”
They also saw “a steady 40%” completion rate of the surveys sent to clarify a customer's gender and local store and they’ve been getting a 15% redemption rate for the email-exclusive offers as reported by the store managers.
Giving discounts to people who mentioned the email offer -- without proof that they received an email -- also appears to have been the right move. “We encourage email sign-ups in the store, so it makes sense to accept the promotions in that setting to help create more of a multi-channel identity.”
Connell couldn’t offer specific numbers on the best days for emails. But he says Tuesday and Wednesday proved to be their best send days. Still, team members were intrigued by the numbers they received on the Sunday tests.
“We are seeing surprisingly high click-throughs on Sunday emails. There’s a lag time in sends for that day where people open up and click on Monday and even Tuesday. With the click-throughs you see midweek, they happen very quickly or they don’t happen at all.”
Friday, May 2, 2008
It's Friday (finally!) and that means it's time to share some of our favorite blog posts from this week.
I loved this post on the PSFK blog about the New York store, Steve and Barry's, which is selling quite fashionable clothing at prices even Walmart can’t compete with. For example, dresses for $8.98. Yes, under $10! The clothes are designed (and even worn) by fashionistas such as Sarah Jessica Parker. How can they do it? They keep overhead to a minimum and are not advertising at all. Well, at these prices, and if the quality and chic-level is as high as promised, they don't have to advertise. You know I love new and interesting ways to sell things. And, I have a tiny bit of fashionista-wanna-be in me. So, this concept really intrigues me. I'll keep my eye on Steve and Barrys!
From Matt Blumberg's OnlyOnce blog is this post: You Have to Shoot to Score. It talks about how successful entrepreneurial companies need to continually take risks if they want to maintain steady and significant growth. In these crazy economic times, it's often really hard to take risks, especially if that risk involves spending, I mean "investing" money in the business. But he's right. I'm taking this advice to heart.
For all of you out there interested in how to implement blogging at your corporation, take a look at this Marketing Nirvana post: 5 things EMC learnt via Corporate Blogging. Some of the key points: keep blogging real, and write with passion. Yep, we agree!
Chris Brogan started an interesting conversation here today where he solicits comments from bloggers about how they got into blogging, solicits advice for new bloggers and asks bloggers where they'll be going in the next few months. This is one conversation I plan to follow.
And, finally, this post from the Rich Navy Pilot blog brings it all home: What Do Your Customers Really Want? "Its simply that you You Care About Your Customers." Yep, it can truly be that simple. Think about your customer first in every business dealing and you'll win in the end.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
We're big proponents of approaching the marketplace with a focus on the customer. And, we truly believe that you can better target and appeal to the customer if you actually listen to them and use an analytical approach to better understand their preferences. In our view, successful direct marketing strategies are centered around the customer. Those that aren't will never be as effective. Period.
In working with a couple of our clients recently, I got to thinking that for some reason, today it is more difficult to get them to understand this point. Why? Everyone is trying so hard to keep up with the day-to-day, that they aren't truly focused on where their marketing efforts are headed. They are more focused on getting the campaigns out the door. And, we're finding that the results tracking falls by the wayside if we aren't focused on assisting with this effort. Marketers are just trying to keep the calls and buyers coming in. While this is important -- you must take the time to study the results of your efforts. Or, down the road, the phones will stop ringing.
Case in point. We have a very successful customer who has found that advertising works great for them. Therefore, they don't have the time or desire to put together a direct marketing strategy. And, this in an industry where, dollar for dollar spent, it makes a lot of sense to direct market. They have decided to simply depend upon advertising to drive buyers to their events. And to their credit, so far, so good. They happen to have a product that many folks want today. So, folks are lining up at their events to get it.
Here's the problem: they have no idea which advertisement is working well and which isn't. They have no special toll-free numbers, codes or anything to determine which buyer came to their event based upon which advertisement. Further, they don't know if it was a TV ad that got them there or a newspaper ad. They just know that they came, some bought and some didn't.
Well, as you can imagine, this truly just drives us crazy! There are such simple things that could be done to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and they just aren't doing them. Not only that, if you were spending millions of dollars per event on advertising, wouldn't you think that you'd be curious to see which media, channel, ad, whatever was bringing in the most buyers? We think you would be curious . . . and so are we!
The point is that -- no matter what you sell, no matter what the state of the economy, no matter what your industry -- you must take time to set and review your direct marketing strategy over time. This client may continue to do well for a long time -- and, of course, we're happy for them if they do. However, to us, this is a recipe for disaster. Sooner or later, the buyers will stop showing up, and they aren't going to know why. Oh, they'll guess, they'll have a gut feeling . . . but they won't be able to scientifically say what has caused the shift in attendance.
We're getting close to the half-way point in the year. If you haven't looked at your direct marketing plans since December, take them out and assess just how well they are working. Look at your metrics . . . are you tracking what is most relevant to your overall success? How are you doing against your goals and objectives. Maybe it's time for a change in direction! Whatever the case, sometimes we all need to be reminded of the importance of sitting back and taking a hard look at where we are and how we can improve.
OK . . . I'll hop off the soapbox now. Have a great Thursday!