Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Case Study: Sweepstakes and Mobile Marketing

Publishers Clearing House (PCH) is one of the longest lasting direct marketers around. I don't think there's an American out there who hasn't wished and dreamed that Ed McMahan and team would show up on their doorstep with a giant check for millions of dollars. This visibility and recognition is a true testimony to Publishers Clearing House's longevity and marketing ability.

Whether you're a fan of sweepstakes or not, I don't think that anyone can argue that this direct marketing expert, PCH, has used sweepstakes successfully over the years. What's more, they've been able to expand beyond direct mail (and they were darn good at getting consumers to open their mail and interact with their piece); PCH has embraced a true multi-channel strategy.

Well, now they're jumping into Mobile Marketing, and with a vengeance. My opinion: when PCH decides to use a new channel, it's probably time for all direct marketers to take note and learn some things.

Take a look at this article from Mobile Marketer: Publishers Clearing House outlines 2009 mobile strategy
Publishers Clearing House, a longstanding sweepstakes giant using the direct mail and TV channels, is targeting a younger demographic with online and mobile initiatives.

“We are the premier sweepstakes company in the U.S., so people know who we are, but the challenge is maintaining relevance for the changing population that is using Internet and mobile applications more and more,” Alex Betancur, vice president/general manager of the PCH Online Network, Port Washingon, NY.
The article outlines PCH's strategy in developing mobile marketing apps with a focus on entertainment. It also briefly discusses their social marketing tactics. For anyone considering incorporating Mobile Marketing into their direct response mix, this article provides some nice detail.
“It will be interesting to see how it (mobile and social marketing programs) takes, because it’s a different demo, different customers that we’re targeting,” he said. “We are direct response marketers, so we test the waters, and once we get the formula right, we push advertising to make it successful.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coupons Work in this Economy

A weak economy presents challenges to all marketers. How do we do more with less? How do we sell things to people, or companies, who can’t afford them?

But sometimes, this type of economic environment presents unique opportunities for direct marketers. After all, our results are measurable. Marketing costs can be justified by clear, countable results.

This point is highlighted pretty nicely in this recent NY Times article: This Season’s Must-Have: The Humble Coupon

From the article:
The faltering economy could mean renewed interest in coupons as shoppers refocus
on the cost of the products they buy — that is, if they do actually buy anything
these days.

Coupons that offer cents off — or percents off — the price of things like groceries, clothing and restaurant meals are particularly popular when consumers need to stretch their dollars. So word that a recession began last December could bring an increase in the number of coupons offered by marketers, as well as redemption rates by consumers.

“Thrift is the new normal,” said Lance Saunders, executive vice president and head of account planning at Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis, an agency owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies.

“There’s no stigma to getting anything on discount,” Mr. Saunders said. “Instead, there’s a sense of pride.”

The article goes on to discuss unique couponning strategies, from some unusual suspects (high end Lucky Jeans, for example) and more usual suspects (P&G).

It also discusses the use of new marketing channels such as mobile marketing.
New technologies are also helping to renew interest in coupons, especially
for younger consumers. There are scores of Web sites where coupons can be
obtained by clicking rather than clipping; among them are coupons.com,
couponcabin.com, couponcode.com, couponmom.com, 8coupons.com, fatwallet.com and shortcuts.com. Many also deliver coupons by e-mail messages.

And coupons are increasingly available on cellphones and other mobile
devices from companies like Cellfire and Outalot. Among the marketers offering
mobile coupons are Arby’s, Caribou Coffee and GameStop.

An advantage of coupons delivered through new technologies is that they can
be customized and personalized, which could help make them more effective
and efficient for the sponsors.
Ah, trackable, customized and personalized—music to this direct marketer’s ears!

Another lesson learned: even if your marketing strategy has never included couponning, simply because it didn’t seem to be the right fit for your products and/or your customer-base, you may want to rethink that strategy in this economy.