Category: General

6 Winning Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail offers results that other channels just can’t match.

According to a recent study, direct mail has a response rate as high as 9%. However, there are always ways to engage your audience better and improve your mailers’ effectiveness. These methods below catch your recipents’ attention and increase the chances that they’ll read and respond to your direct mail piece. 

6 Winning Direct Mail Campaigns

1. Instill Curiosity with a Quiz

Do you worry your direct mail envelopes are going in the trash unread?

Take a page from Harvard Medical School’s playbook. In a recent mailing to woo subscribers for their Harvard Heart Letter newsletter, they put a heart health quiz on the front. The answers to the three-question quiz were inside the mailer, giving recipients a reason to open.

2. Benefits, Not Features

As marketers, it’s so easy to get caught up in promoting all the neat features of your product.

Your readers, however, don’t care about that. They care about how your product can be of benefit to them.

HelloFresh hit the mark with a February 2020 mailer that highlighted three big benefits to ordering their kits. At a glance, readers could see that the service could save them time, save them money, and offer more variety.

3. Leverage Testimonials

Research shows that a recommendation, whether from a friend or a stranger, has a lot of sway on reader opinions.

In fact, 70% of people will trust a recommendation even when it comes from someone who they don’t know. 

Florida Gulf Coast University used the power of testimonials by putting recommendations from past students right on their mailing postcard. Having names, faces, and a glowing recommendation from current students helped convince potential attendees that the school is a good choice. 

4. Use the Magic Word

No, not “please.” The powerful word that gets your mailer a second look instead of a quick trip to the recycle bin is “free.” 

A March 2020 mailer from Estee Lauder catches attention with bright coloration and a prominent offer for a free gift when people visit their counter inside Macy’s. Offering a gift is a way to get people inside your brick-and-mortar location, where there is an increased chance that they’ll take the opportunity to buy.

5. Catch the Eye with Familiar Forms and Images

When Nestle was promoting their Kit Kat Chunky bar in the UK, they used a familiar image — a Royal Mail card about an undeliverable package.

However, instead of the normal reasons for failure to deliver, recipients learn that the free chocolate bar Nestle intended to send them was “too chunky” to fit through their mail slot. The mailer served as a coupon to get a free bar to try from the store.

6. Invite Recipients to Interact with Your Mail Piece

To raise awareness for World Water Day in Belgium, the organization demonstrated the importance of water in an innovative way.

They sent a postcard that could only be read after the reader held it under running water. This tactile trick increased engagement and also got the group a viral bump on social media.

No matter what your business, it’s possible to catch readers’ eyes and attention with your direct mail pieces. Think about how to evoke your recipient’s curiosity, which can lead to engagement and conversion.

Volume Control: Striking the Right Balance in Your Customer Communication

“Trust is earned in drops but lost by the bucketful.”

(Security and privacy expert Fatemeh Khatibloo, Forester Research)

Do you want to be a consumer-first marketer?

You need to earn people’s trust – and to keep it. When you do this well, it creates a series of encouraging relationships that translate to profits and sustainability. But violations of trust can sabotage your business.

When it comes to marketing, brands tend to believe more is better. If customers have started a relationship with you, it seems obvious that more texts, print ads, or emails will entice them to spend more. But no one wants to be known as a target. Over-marketing puts your company at risk because it expends your goodwill.

Marketing begins by establishing a relationship between brands and consumers. But over-marketing kills that relationship. The Social Break-up study provided clear evidence of this phenomenon. Did you know:

  • 91% of consumers have unsubscribed from permission-based marketing emails
  • 81% of consumers have either “unliked” or removed a company’s posts from their Facebook news feeds
  • 63% of followers have “unliked” a company on Facebook due to excessive posting
  • 54% of customers said they unsubscribed from a list when a brand’s emails came too frequently

When you overcommunicate to customers, eventually, you’ll find you must put out greater effort only to receive less dynamic results. Before you hammer people with content you must calculate the long-term cost of the messages you send.

Allow Customers to Manage the Cadance and the Channel

Are you over-marketing?

There is a fine line between “just enough” and “too much,” and your customers may vary on what they appreciate. To find the right balance, you may want to allow clients to control the content flow of your marketing spigot.

Preference centers are customer-controlled portals that invite users to select the types of messages they would like to receive and the preferred times. A tech publication, for example, might provide options for newsletters about business tech, consumer tech, product reviews, and new gear launches. Papa John’s pizza divides its preference center into sections centered around food preferences, delivery options, payment types, and marketing preferences.

Empathetic brands work to delineate preferences across three dimensions: communications channel, content type, and desired frequency. Some people may prefer weekly text messages, while others request a monthly print newsletter.

Here are three ways to hone preference strategies for each dimension:

Ask your customers

Streamline systems that directly allow clients to share the style, frequency, and mode of communication they prefer.

Follow your brand from an outsider’s perspective

Want a crash course in communication optics? Opt-in to your own promotions and put yourself in a prospect’s shoes to observe where authentic and helpful morphs into overselling and chaos.

Streamline your processes

If you have multiple sectors in your business posting emails, Tweets, and ads, things quickly become chaotic. Set some boundaries or place one person in an oversight position to avoid over-promoting.

Treat permission to market as a gift

While most people have favorite brands they’d love to see more of, for most companies the best approach is “less is more.”

And messages tailored to a client’s specific needs or pain points are certainly more relevant and welcome than generic mass marketing. Treat permission to market as a gift, and allow people to have a say in when and how they would receive from you – no strings attached.

Respectful empathy positions marketers to act less like piranhas and more like friends.

Tweaking Your Business Plan After the Year of the Curveball

Every curveball starts as a fastball – until it dives out of range as it approaches the plate.

The story of the curveball started in 1863 when two friends were throwing seashells on a beach in Brooklyn. Young pitcher William Cummings noticed shells curving in the air and wondered, “what if I could make a baseball move like that?”

After modifying his grip and adjusting his throwing motion for four years, Cummings rose to prominence as a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Excelsiors. It was time to unveil the secret weapon. At age 18, Cummings was pitching against hard-hitting Archibald Bush, and he later admitted he was afraid of Bush’s “prowess with the bat.” Cummings unleashed the curve, and Bush was foiled:

“When he struck at the ball, it seemed to go about a foot beyond the end of his stick,” said Cummings. “I tried again with the same result, and then I realized that I had succeeded at last.”

3 Ways to Reset After a Tumultuous Season

It can be fun to throw curveballs but difficult to receive them.

The year 2020 threw businesses of all sizes a tough curve. Many firms shut doors, released team members, or dipped into emergency funds to make ends meet. Business plans are a crucial part of any normal season, but revising them this year is especially pertinent.

How will you pivot in response to the wild circumstances of 2020? Here are some starting points to consider.

1. Take Stock of Key Changes

Nimble, proactive entrepreneurs respond to change by embracing it.

Take note of what has changed, and be crystal clear about what that means for your business. Have your capacity restrictions or hours shifted? Have legal regulations altered what you can or cannot do? This year may be a perfect time to do an in-depth SWOT analysis, analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

From technology and staffing to new products or team members, clarify how your business has changed or where you need to adapt.

2. Form and Execute Contingency Plans

Do you have a plan B that can be implemented when your business experiences a major disruption?

Outline risk-related scenarios and chart precise strategies to get things back on track. Contingency plans should include:

–Essential operations your business needs to run successfully, including contact information for key partners, suppliers, investors, etc.

–A rundown of possible threats or disruptive events and step-by-step procedures for how to work around each scenario

–Options for aggressive financial restrictions to increase cash flow or savings

–Risk-mitigation steps to help reduce the likelihood of worst-case scenarios

–A communication plan for alerting customers, employees, and other stakeholders of the problem

3. Develop Your 2021 Marketing Plan

While COVID-19 brought many challenges, it has created several new opportunities.

As you develop a new marketing plan, take stock of your chief competitors and your target customers. Reposition your business with the right message, the right media, and the right pricing for your target demographic.

For some firms, this could mean focusing on a core subset of customers to reduce general costs while ramping up revenue in a specific sector. For others, it could mean expanding target regions to compensate for lost foot traffic or in-store sales. Whether it’s widening your audience or narrowing your focus, amp up your marketing and aim confidently for that next pitch.

Perhaps this inning will be your best!

Use Every Inch for Impact with Creative Custom Envelopes

Do you want to grab attention or showcase your brand? First impressions are vital!

When it comes to reaching your clients and prospects, envelopes are the unsung hero. Envelopes act as a silent messenger, building a very personal bridge between your company and its core customers. Great packaging can enhance emotional engagement and increase response rates, and envelopes are an easy place to start.

Direct mail stats show the value of a well-designed envelope. While response rates for email or social media advertising are typically less than one percent, direct mail generates a rate closer to 4.5%. And oversized envelopes are the most productive, with a response rate around 5%, generating a whopping 37% return on investment!

While not all mail is opened, 100% of recipients will interact with your envelope. Want to put your printed real estate to work? Here are some clever ways to add panache to your envelopes:

Craft A Monogram to Match Your Return Label

Like a royal signature, monograms use two or more letters to form one symbol.

Monograms can be used as a logo itself (like the overlay of the letters “NY” to form the New York Yankees icon, or the blended letters “VW” to form the classic Volkswagen symbol). But monograms can also be used in addition to a logo, and look great as a design motif next to the return address section.

The return address is one of the first places a reader will look, so why not spruce up this corner with a graphic or a monogram motif?

Add Color with Back Panel Art

Want to send a memorable message?

Add depth and dimension with back panel art. There are so many fun ways to do this. Try full-color accents to the top triangle, write your slogan in script text across the bottom, add custom stickers as fasteners, or design your logo into the closing flap (so it looks like a wax seal).

Creative envelopes are very pleasing to the eye, so take your back panel to the next level with full-color photos, playful text art, or contemporary custom labels.

Create Mirror Images in Opposite Corners

When you want to think outside the box, don’t limit your signature to the return address section.

Instead, create a mirrored design between the top left and the bottom right corners. A brand named “Matrix” may have this name in small script font next to their return address but add a larger script “M” bleeding off the bottom right corner of the envelope. A skyscraper logo may be printed as a thumbnail in the top left corner but as a larger symmetrical reprint in the bottom right quadrant.

Try Teaser Text

When you want to entice first-time prospects, consider teaser text phrases on one or both sides of the envelope.

Teaser text should compel readers to open your envelope by promising something of value like, “Receive a Free Map Set,” “Your Recipe Booklet Enclosed,” “Just for You,” or “Your Exclusive Offer of ____ is Here!”

Nonprofit organizations use teaser text to invite prospects to be part of a greater vision. For example: “A Lasting Legacy: Connecting People to Nature Since 1920,” or “She survived war. She needs YOU to survive COVID-19.”

When you want to add impact to your marketing, the envelope is a simple place to start. Amplify your image and add confidence to your communication today!

Use Words to Shape Your Designs with Three Distinct Tools

Words and messages are communicated in so many ways – through vocabulary selection, images, tone or personality, and even through design.

The raw material that words represent is more than just semantics, and graphic artists have many options for exploring the power and symbolism of unique words in design.

Here are three ways you can weave words into the visual elements of your design.

The Word Pun

Word puns present a play on words using alternative meanings of words (and word sounds) to form new meanings.

What does this look like in design? Here are several ideas:

— A seafood café restaurant might feature server aprons sporting a wacky fish (wearing a top hat) with the word “SoFISHticated” sprawled below.

— Well-known phrases can be changed to fit the message of the brand. For example, the bike manufacturer Salomon created a logo that changed the phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” to “Mud, Sweat, & Gear.” This message links the company’s core purpose – making mountain bikes – to a memorable, motivating catchphrase.

— Words puns can be created by substituting characters for sections of a word. Designer Wolff Olins created a word pun using the characters “Q8” to represent the oil-rich country of Kuwait.

The Visual Pun

Visual (or graphological) puns do not use phonetic writing.

Instead, visual puns create a play on words through imagery, graphics, or logos. Examples include:

— An image in the fork in the middle of two parting streets (symbolizing an impending decision or a fork in the road).

— A symbol can be used to replace a whole word, like “I [HEART] NY” or the character “He” with a box outline around it (to symbolize the periodic element of helium).

— Making subtle tweaks to logos to add visual effect. Rebel, a rugged Australian sporting goods company, turned the second “e” backward in their company name. Or the logo for Poison Spider Bicycles depicts the venomous red section of its spider as a replica of a gritty bike chain.

The Rebus

A rebus represents words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a riddle.

Think of the last time you puzzled over an obscure personalized license plate on the rear of the car in front of you. Was it hard to look away? People love to decipher codes, and using a rebus can stop people in their tracks, causing them to slow down, think, or smile!

Here are some clever ways the rebus has been put to work in marketing:

— IBM created a poster with three images to represent its name: a cartoon eye, a colorful honeybee, and a playfully sketched letter M.

When IKEA wanted to help American customers grasp their company’s correct pronunciation, they created a rebus design featuring a cartoon eye, followed by a house key and the text phrase “ah!”

— The East End Brewing Company chose to market its energizing coffee porter with this eye-opening rebus: a cartoon eye and a classic handheld bottle opener   

The creative use of language can help precisely position an idea, company, or product in unique and refreshing ways. Tailor your message toward a target audience and play with words until you find just the right fit!

5 Hot Summer Marketing Ideas to Give Your Business A Boost

Unless you sell beach hats or slushies, summer can be a slow season for many businesses.

That’s why the summer months are an ideal time to experiment with fun, seasonal campaigns. Heat up sales and boost your customer engagement with these lively, life-giving options.

Use Giveaways to Learn About Your Clients

“You’ve Got Tech Problems? I’ve Got Answers.”

Nikole Gipps is the founder and developer extraordinaire behind “That Super Girl.” Specializing in online support services for small businesses, Gipps grows her base seasonally by featuring “Summer of Learning” giveaways. Weekly emails boast giveaway choices (like business books) and tutorial freebies. Her recent contests increased customer engagement, doubled the subscriber list, increased workshop enrollment, and offered insights into topics that interested people most.

What freebie could you use to spark interest this summer and build momentum for the fall? Start dreaming today and create lasting benefits for your business.

Lower Prices as Temperatures Rise

Want to have a little fun with the heat?

Offer discounts that increase in proportion to the temperature. For example:

–Give clients $10 of any purchase of $100 or more when the temperature rises above 100 degrees

–Try a “pay 80 percent” promotion for any day temps land in the 80s

–Post sunny “peak” discounts on the day Summer Solstice occurs

Launch a “Staff Favorites” Campaign

Everyone enjoys a good-natured rivalry, so have some fun while rewarding your best employees with a summer getaway or a valuable gift card.

Here you can generate friendly competition among staff members by asking customers to vote on their favorite barista, customer service rep, or sales associate. Clients can vote through social media, digital polls, or onsite displays. This can humanize your brand and incentivize your team to provide stellar personal service.

Give Away Summer Swag

Businesses need promotional items to help reach out to potential customers and clients – it’s just a fact.

Like a business card with a bang, clever promotional products build goodwill, name recognition, and expanded brand exposure. Looking for affordable items to catch prospects’ attention? Try frisbees, stress balls, customized lip balms, labeled clip and go hand sanitizers, zip-front drawstring bags, absorbent cooling towels, water bottles, and more.

Beautiful Outdoor Banners

It never hurts to have friends in high places, so go BIGGER with large-scale banners!

Ensure your message wins the day with this hard-to-miss publicity tool. Vibrant, strategically placed outdoor banners can grab attention near busy intersections, at the entrance of your business, or at festivals and high-traffic events. Try hanging pole banners, feather flags, retractable banners, or a giant step and repeat display (great for photo ops and selfies).

Use Sizzling Incentives to Tip Them Toward Action

Summer is a perfect time for celebration, refreshment, and the unique expression of your brand.

Want to increase the emotional attachment customers have to your business? From a dash of color on your packaging to gorgeous window decals, print promotions can be part of any summer campaign. Want to talk options? Contact us today for samples.