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Are You Breaking These 6 Direct Response Marketing Golden Rules?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Thu, Oct 08, 2015 @ 01:25 PM

If you’re spending money on brand marketing, odds are you’re not getting a high enough return on your investment. Yes, it’s a way to get your brand in the minds of consumers, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy anything from you.

Direct response marketing, on the other hand, is a fantastic method of targeting your demographic and driving action. There’s no overcoming that dreaded interest barrier or trying to sell to people who don’t want to be sold to.

With direct response, you’re communicating with a population that knows what you have to offer and wants to learn more. This means faster ROI, better leads and bigger profits.

But unless you know the golden rules of direct response, you’re apt to spin your wheels and not get any real traction.

What are the golden rules? Keep reading…


  1. Don’t Ever Imply an Offer – Make it Loud and ClearSay It Clear

Direct marketing basically means selling through print media. Your goal is to make the most appealing offer that compels your audience to respond. But if you look at a lot of newspaper ads, you’ll see a good many of them end the “conversation” without making any kind of direct offer. This is bad, very bad.

Don’t imply anything in your ads and don’t be vague. It’s not enough to say, “Here’s who we are, here’s what we do, and here’s where we’re located.” Make a strong offer every time.


  1. Make it a No-Brainer for People to Respond

So you’ve got your offer in front of your readers – great. But now comes an equally important rule: you’ve got to give them a compelling reason to respond and do it NOW. The goal of direct response marketing is not to let people know you exist, it’s to get an immediate reaction. Put a clock on your offer and make it a no-brainer for people to respond.


  1. Create a Clear Call-to-Action

It doesn’t matter if you’re placing a newspaper ad, sending a sales letter, or developing a phone script, your company has to be the one calling the shots, so call them. Lead your prospect and tell them exactly what you want them to do, how to do it, when to do it, and what benefits they’ll get by doing it. Never place an ad or send a letter that doesn’t have clear instructions.


  1. Collect that Data

How will you know if your marketing efforts are working unless you track and measure your results? You need to collect that data to determine which campaigns, which channels and which messages are giving you that ROI. Make sure you have the necessary systems to capture that data and analyze it on a continual basis. Getting good results? Great, use the data to make changes so you can get even better results.


  1. Take Every Opportunity to Follow Up

Phone CallsSo, you’ve written some highly-effective direct response ads, given your audience a compelling reason to respond, developed a clear call-to-action telling readers exactly what you wanted them to do, and analyzed your campaign data to make some great adjustments. Fantastic, you must be seeing a steady stream of leads come in.

What are you going to do with all of these nice, toasty leads?

You’re going to follow up and nurture the relationship, leading them through your sales funnel until they convert, that’s what. Get all of their contact info and get them on your monthly newsletter schedule and follow up with them regularly.


  1. Clean Out Your Advertising Clutter

Now that you know what your advertising should be doing for you, go through your campaigns and marketing collateral and get rid of any ho-hum messaging that does little else but take up space. Anything you find that breaks the rules we have laid out needs to be overhauled. If need be, work with a professional media planner who can help you develop a strong marketing plan with effective messaging.


In life, there are those people who like to play the part of victim, and then there are those who roll up their sleeves and do whatever needs to be done to fix the problem. The same can be said for businesses. Some will woefully exclaim, “I don’t know, I’m advertising like crazy and yet nothing seems to be happening for me,” while others will simply figure out what needs to be adjusted and adjust accordingly.

If you’ve been advertising like crazy but are not getting anywhere near the ROI you want, chances are you are not using direct marketing tactics, and if you are and are still not getting the ROI you want, chances are you’re breaking one or more of these golden rules.

  Free Guide: How to Target Your Audience with Free Standing Inserts

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5 Ways Local Merchants Can Track Their Print Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 @ 11:29 AM

Forget everything you’ve heard about print being dead. Despite a big shift over the last decade in the way we consume media and content, print ads are still just as relevant and effective today. This is especially true for local retailers and merchants who find the budget-friendly print options allow them to test small, roll out big, and connect with local prospects via trusted channels.

With any ad campaign, it’s important to track and measure so a healthy ROI is guaranteed. Measuring print ad success is relatively easy once you know the main tools to employ.

800_number11-800 Phone Numbers Still Work

Guess what? Not only do print ads still deliver results, so do 1-800 vanity numbers. Let’s say you want to run an ad in your local newspaper and your call-to-action is to have prospects call in to your store to schedule a free home estimate.

By using a vanity 1-800 number such as 1-800-LAWNPRO, you can easily measure your ads response by tracking the calls that come in from that special number. To do this, use a smart CRM system that will track the entire journey from call to sale. If your budget allows, there are also robust systems that offer smarter analytics and for multiple campaigns.

Custom Landing Pages

Many people think custom landing pages are only for online businesses, but that is just not true. There are many reasons local merchants would want to send ad traffic to online pages.

Let’s say a local florist wants to drum up some business over a holiday weekend using a newspaper ad. Sending prospects to a special landing page with discount offers as well as images of holiday bouquets makes more sense than having prospects call in their orders.


A new pizza shop opens and wants to run an ad that targets local businesses owners who may want to place large orders during the week for lunch. They can send these prospects to a special landing page that announces lunch specials and daily menu deals. Plus all of those great images of pizza and calzones is a great way to increase interest and appetites!

To send prospects to a customized landing page you will want to make sure Google analytics is set up on your website. Make sure to test your ads by using a different URL address for each one. For instance, the ad you run in newspaper A might have an address of www.yourcompany.com/freedelivery and in newspaper B an address of www.yourcompany.com/lunch.

Just remember to keep your customizations simple and readable.

Use Coupon Codes

Consumers are getting savvier by the minute. Not only do they demand the best deals, they know exactly how to find them. One of the biggest ways they do this is to seek out valid online coupon codes. Wanna grab some attention with your print ads? Simply provide coupon codes and a message that says something to the effect of, “Get 15% off when you enter the code ‘OctoberFest.’

This gives the reader a compelling reason to visit your online portal and an easy way for you to track and measure your campaign. You can also have regular ol’ coupons that can be clipped out of the paper and ask the reader to bring it into the store to redeem. Simply put all of those coupons in one place, count, and you’ll know how many customers that weekend responded to your ad.

Simply Ask How They Found You

A local contractor may want to send prospects to an online contact page to get some more information about their upcoming remodel project. On that page he could have a simple dropdown field titled “How’d You Find Us?” The answers could be ‘Google Ads,” ‘Sunday Paper,” “Radio Ad.” This is a very effective and easy way to track your ads. Just remember to keep this list up-to-date with the various campaigns you’re running.

Keep an Eye on Sales

Sometimes doing things the ol’ fashioned way works just as well. If you want to know if your print ad was effective at all, simply watch and see if your sales improve. For example, in April, you sold 100 widgets, in May you sold 97 widgets, in June you ran a print ad and sold 211 widgets. Chances are that ad was effective. If there was no real spike in sales, you would know your ad didn’t hit the target and you’d need to tweak and adjust and try again.

It doesn’t matter which of these methods you use. Heck, use a combination of them. What matters is that you track each and every one of your campaigns and adjust accordingly so you can always get the biggest return on your investment.

Download this fact sheet and learn 10 reasons why newspapers are still an effective advertising channel.

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6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2016

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Sep 22, 2015 @ 08:51 AM

Autumn has arrived. There is an unmistakable chill in the air that blows the gold and crimson leaves off the trees. Kids are back in school, and already every store in town is stocked with Christmas decorations. What does all of this mean? It means the New Year is just around the corner, which means it’s time to look ahead at the digital marketing trends we can expect to see in 2016.

Content Marketing Becomes a No-Brainer

content-marketingContent marketing, or inbound marketing, is not a new tactic in the least. It’s what many businesses of all sizes are using to engage their customers and prospects, build trust and develop their brand. What will be different in 2016 are two main things:

  1. The sheer volume of both B2B and B2C companies who currently use a big chunk of their marketing budgets to create and distribute content across multiple channels will increase and illustrate a new marketing mentality - if you’re NOT using content in your marketing plan, you will be left behind

  2. Business owners will start to embrace more forms of content in the New Year, especially visual content such as videos

Common Sense SEO

Speaking of upping your visual content game, marketers who do will find they automatically get a boost in their SEO ranking. With each Google algorithm update we have seen a definite trend toward the search company favoring websites that focus on providing great content over optimizing keywords.

One way search engines determine which web pages their customers find to be quality is to measure how much time they spend on each page (aka “Dwell Time”) and if they click through to other pages on the site.

Visitors that land on great visual content are far more likely to stick around and find your website helpful to their search query.

Another SEO shift we’ll see is more complex search queries resulting in a demand for relevant content. As SEO best practices change with technological advances and adoption (ie – improved speech recognition software in smart phones), marketers will be able to focus on generating actual useful content instead of spending budget money on hiring “SEO experts” to get a set of keywords ranked.

kids-telling-secretsContent Co-Creating Between Brands and Consumers

The other content marketing change we will most likely see in 2016 is more brands embracing user-generated content and leveraging its power. From social media posts and online reviews, brands will relinquish control over their marketing and allow their customers’ voices to create a positive impact in their prospects’ minds. Content co-creation between a brand and its consumers will become a popular marketing trend.

Even More Data to Mine

A CMO article by Adobe has suggested that wearable technology will see a user adoption rate of 28% by 2016, which means there's going to be even more (read: a massive amount of) data for marketers to mine. If you’ve had success with the intuitive advertising solutions offered by Facebook and Google, which can target customers based on the actions they take online, you’ll most likely be thrilled by the idea of being able to target prospects by their day-to-day habits.

As “The Internet of Things” (IoT) becomes more of a reality, we can expect big data sources to significantly grow and advertisements native to wearable technology spring up in the New Year.

More Effective Metrics at Your Disposal

Marketers currently only have so-so metrics at their disposal to measure a campaign’s success. A great deal of focus on social metrics such as shares, likes and tweets has resulted in empty “vanity” data that offers little real-world applications. 2016 will see a rise in better analytical tools that will help marketers gauge their campaign’s success.

A Focus on Millennials will Become Irrelevant

About a decade ago the entire marketing world became obsessed with focusing on and catering to millennials. But just as happened with baby boomers and every other generation, millennials are not a niche “youth” segment but a group of people who are aging as we speak and will give way to a newer, younger generation. Those brands who have been millennial-focused will find in the coming year and beyond a need to change their marketing game in order to stay relevant and current.

2016 promises to bring new technology, tactics and tools that may help you reach your target audience and turn them into paying customers.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

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Topics: digital marketing

The What and How of Geo-Targeting

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 @ 09:54 AM

Have you heard of geo-targeting but weren’t sure what it was or what it could do for you? Read on to find out.


Every decade has focused its attention on a different aspect of marketing. The 90s were about creating a web presence for your company. So long 1-800 numbers, hello vanity URLs.

In the 2000s we were all globally-obsessed, making sure our humble websites could be found by the entire world.

local-marketingBut the 2010s have brought us back to common sense marketing and taken our global presence and targeted it so local audiences can easily find us. Google now delivers content and ads based on a user’s location. Social networking sites and apps like Foursquare and Yelp cater to the local crowd. Local businesses like florists and hair dressers are able to advertise solely in their local markets.

Geo-targeting is about relevance and delivering the most appropriate and effective messaging possible at just the right time. If you aren’t leveraging this powerful marketing tactic, you’re not doing as well as you could be.


Step 1. Decide Which Geographies to Target

In order to determine which locations to target you’ve got to really analyze your current business. Do this by asking yourself the following questions:

  •         Are your customers from a specific area?
  •         Is your industry stronger in certain geographies?
  •         Where does most of your traffic (foot and digital) come from?

Step 2. Take a Look at Your Competition

Once you’ve completed this initial analysis, take a look at what your successful competitors do to see which, if any, specific markets they are involved in. What do their creatives look like? What does their ad copy say? Gather as much intelligence as you can. This will help you to potentially find new markets and locations to target.

Step 3. Understand How the Locals Prefer to Consume Media engage-local-community

You’ve got a healthy list of geographies to target? Terrific. Now you’ve got to understand what the media consumption is of each local area so you may choose tactics and channels that will give you the biggest return on your investment. You may at first assume local search will work best only to uncover that out-of-home communication will be the better buy.

Step 4. Go Small or Go Home

The smaller your service area, the more waste you can cut out and the bigger your ROI will be. Why spend money on mass reach, such as a television spot when cable will work even better? Instead of a full page ad in the Sunday paper, consider using free standing inserts (FSIs) instead.

Geo-targeting becomes even more important when purchasing media for part of a co-op and only attempting to cover certain locations. Consider tactics like shared mail, direct mail, print and mobile that allow you to target on a zip code level. This will cut out waste and only reach the absolute right prospects. A win / win.

Step 5. Identify Your Priority Markets

What happens when your budget doesn’t cover the entire desired geography? It forces you to focus on your priority markets and get the biggest bang for your advertising bucks. Your priority markets may be a handful of regional areas or even metro areas. Using this approach will allow you to uncover opportunities that optimize your budget and reach.

Before you develop your next local media campaign, consider geo-targeting. Sure, it may be more thrilling to run a TV ad instead of zip-targeting online or using FSIs. But there’s a very good chance your money will be wasted on useless impressions, so make sure your brand will benefit from that level of coverage before making the buy.

These five steps will help you uncover potentially ripe markets, determine the optimal tactics and channels to use for the specific audiences, and identify priority markets so your budget will be spent efficiently. Yes, this initial research will take some time, but in the end the ROI will be completely worth it.


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Topics: local advertising

The Benefits of an Integrated Marketing Campaign

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 02:39 PM

If I asked you to give me your definition of an integrated marketing campaign, what would you say? Most people would mention the fact that these types of campaigns use a variety of advertising methods and channels, and that would be accurate – but it would only be scratching the surface of a very powerful marketing method.

A better, fuller definition of an integrated campaign would be one that entails a consistent brand message delivered across both traditional (newspaper ads) and non-traditional (social media) marketing channels using different promotional methods that reinforce each other.

BrandAccording to the E-tailing Group’s 4th annual Consumer Insights Survey, 72% of consumers want an integrated marketing approach.

These campaigns are very powerful in all verticals and industries because they send out consistently branded messages that audiences can relate to and engage with no matter the format.

So what are some of the other benefits of an integrated marketing campaign?

It’s Cost Effective

Creating digital assets like content, images and graphics costs time and money. When you integrate your campaigns you eliminate any need for duplication because you share these assets across channels. This saves a tremendous amount of resources.

It Builds Trust with Your Audience

Today’s consumers have seen and heard it all and are, by nature, very skeptical of most brands they don’t know. When you integrate your messages and keep them consistent, you gain the trust of your audience. And, in case you were wondering, it’s far easier to sell to prospects who trust you than to those that don’t.

It Eliminates ConfusionConfused

Many advertisers make the mistake of missing the point of their overall message. They send an email with a bit of a message here, take out a newspaper ad with a bit of a message there, and post something entirely different to their Facebook page. And then they wonder why their customers and prospects aren’t engaging with their message. It’s because you have thoroughly confused them.

But when you pull your campaign into one nice, tidy cohesive package, that has a clear message and clear objectives, your customers will be clear on who you are and what you have to offer.

It Puts You Top-of-Mind

Uniformity of message is a powerful thing. Not only does it lead to brand awareness and trust, as we mentioned, but it puts your business top-of-mind when prospects are in the market for what you have to offer.

It Builds Internal Morale

Integrated campaigns require your internal teams pull together to share talent, resources and communicate clearly. This not only puts out a winning campaign, it builds morale as your entire staff sees how working together created such a huge success and ROI.

How to Ensure a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign

Now that you know what some of the biggest benefits are to developing and launching an integrated marketing campaign, here are a few tips to ensure your success:

  1. Guarantee that your logos, typefaces, sizing and colors remain consistent. Use a brand book or guide.

  2. Develop a marketing communications strategy that has crystal clear positioning statements and objectives. This strategy should ensure that core values are at the center of every piece of communication and that all content builds your brand.

  3. Get everyone on the same page, including senior executives, and ask for involvement from everyone during the planning stages. In order for your campaign to be truly successful, all team members must know what is going on so confusion cannot reign supreme.

While integrating your marketing efforts may at first seem overwhelming and like a lot of extra work, if you can commit to it for one campaign, you will experience the benefits yourself and understand the extra effort is well worth it. And, once your first integrated campaign is behind you, you can expect future campaigns to run like a well-oiled machine.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

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Topics: integrated marketing

How to Select the Right Media Planning Agency

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Sep 02, 2015 @ 09:17 AM

If you’re a small- to medium-sized company, you know firsthand that a careful and strategic media campaign can help grow your business from a local player to a national brand. That’s the good news. The bad news is, launching a successful media campaign is one part art form, two parts science, and a whole lot of skill and knowledge.

Today’s media landscape is utterly confusing with new channels being added regularly. It takes a sophisticated media process to execute a successful campaign in the current marketplace, which is why many organizations are reaching out to professional media planning agencies.

But how do you choose the right agency for your particular campaign’s needs? The most experienced and qualified media specialists generally follow specific steps when they plan a media buy.

When speaking with potential media partners, make sure they follow these best practices:

market-analysisThey Conduct a Thorough Market Analysis

Solid media planning does not exist in a vacuum and a qualified media agency will, without question, complete a background analysis of your company before developing any sort of media buying plan. This analysis will take a strategic look at your business objectives as well as review your business’ sales, distribution, and competitive environments.

They Understand Financial Concepts

When speaking with your potential partners, make sure they understand basic financial concepts such as lifetime value of a customer, profit margins, the breakeven point of a program, seasonality of purchases and your sales cycle length. This is important because your planner will need to develop a strategy that aligns with your budget so you can get the greatest ROI possible.

They Use the Right Tools

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to find the right media partner. For example, you should ask which analytic tools they use to determine which market to target. These tools should be able to tell them what your target market’s media habits are. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a media program if your message isn’t delivered to the right audience.

They Should Match Target Research to the Proper Media Mixmediamix

As we mentioned up top, the media landscape has become much more complex with fragmentation. A great media planner knows it doesn’t matter how cost efficient the buy was if the buy isn’t effective. If your targets aren’t reached, your campaign was all for not (AKA worthless).

Matching target research to the proper media mix is the foundation of every good and effective media program. Speak with your potential media partner and ask how they build a media mix. What experience do they have with the media they are proposing? Also, ask for specific examples of programs they’ve planned and run for other clients using the same channels.

They Believe in Testing

A professional media planner knows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to media buys. They believe in customizing plans for each and every client to insure their program uses the budget effectively and efficiently while delivering quantifiable results. Your media partner should embrace testing various media to find just the right mix for your objectives.

They Have Established a Successful Negotiation Process

handshakeEvery single media planner you sit down with will tell you the same thing: they negotiate the best price. Well, they should, or why are they in business in the first place? However, great negotiation is about much more than getting the best price – it’s also about getting the best placement.

The best media planners and buyers negotiate with one objective and that is to deliver BOTH the best price and the best spot where the target customer will be able to engage with your messaging. Brilliant concept, right? Don’t settle for anything less!

Choosing the right media planning agency for you can at times seem daunting. If you follow these guidelines you should be able to select the agency that will offer you a higher level of success and greater ROI.

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Image Credit: "Handshake" by EDHAR / shutterstock.com

Topics: media buying, media planning, media planning agency

Is Non-Traditional Marketing Right for Your Business?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 @ 09:48 AM

Some forms of traditional advertising, like newspaper ads, have been around for over a hundred years. Advertising on other traditional media, like radio and television, became common in the 1960s. In the last 50+ years, traditional advertising has become the standard tactic by which most businesses engage with their audiences.

However, many marketers are now questioning the effectiveness of some of these channels. Direct mail has become increasingly expensive, while Tivo, Netflix and iPods have made it easy for consumers to skip right past TV ads. Is it any wonder that CMOs are looking for unique advertising strategies and channels?

What is Non-Traditional Marketing Exactly?

You most likely know what non-traditional advertising isn’t: it isn’t traditional advertising. But… what is it exactly? Simply put, non-traditional advertising is highly creative and uses unorthodox strategies with the goal of developing striking and memorable experiences that capture consumer interest. A lot of non-traditional marketing involves putting ads in unexpected or unusual places or displaying your messaging in ways that gets a lot of attention.

Why Consumers Respond to Non-Traditional AdsECONOMIST-BALLOON

People crave engagement, which is why they instinctively like non-traditional advertising and view it as more authentic and organic. There’s no denying that today’s consumer is more sophisticated and savvy, but definitely more skeptical and cynical as well. They are, by and large, immune to much of the traditional ads that are hurtling at them every second of every day.

Benefits of Going Non-Traditional

Besides knowing your audience will most likely respond favorably to your messaging, what other benefits do non-traditional ads offer?

These types of ads allow you to really target your specific demographic on THEIR territory. For instance, sneaker manufacturers might place ads on a public basketball court and diaper makers might place them in airport restrooms above the changing station.

Non-traditional advertising can also cost far less than traditional advertising channels like TV and radio spots, which, even in a local market, can costs thousands of dollars. A creative street market campaign can cost less than a hundred dollars with a potentially staggering ROI.

Challenges of Non-Traditional Advertising

While they can be cheaper, engaging, and highly targetable, non-traditional campaigns are also very unpredictable and hard to measure. Because it relies on tactics that fall way outside of traditional marketing, it’s typically hard to quantify a non-traditional campaign’s success or failure. Another potentially negative about this method is that, should your campaigns end up being confusing or just poorly executed, they may confuse your audience and create a negative brand image.

Kit-Kat-BenchIs Non-Traditional Right for Your Business?

At this point you may be thinking that this whole non-traditional marketing thing sounds pretty good and want to get started developing your first campaign. While many companies who deploy non-traditional campaigns have been major, national brands, smaller businesses can and have used this tactic with great results.

The only thing that is really needed is creativity and a clear vision of your campaign’s goals. If you currently have a limited marketing budget, using non-traditional marketing methods may be something to consider. Just remember to take into account that results can be unpredictable and although very affordable, you do risk wasting time and effort.

A Traditional and Non-Traditional Mix

Billions of dollars each year are spent on traditional advertising in this country, so we know that many of those channels are still working. Since traditional and non-traditional marketing strategies each have advantages and disadvantages, many marketers find success with a mix of both.

So how do you develop and deploy a non-traditional campaign? We’ve already mentioned that non-traditional marketing relies on numerous unknown factors, but that doesn’t mean you just slap a campaign together willy-nilly and launch it, hoping for the best. No, as with traditional campaigns, it is equally important to develop a comprehensive plan that will focus your efforts and give you the greatest chance at success.

Step 1: Define Your Audience

Your plan must start with defining exactly who your target audience is. This very step is going to help you determine whether a non-traditional approach even makes sense. Products with broad appeal tend to do the best with non-traditional tactics whereas products with limited appeal may not find much success with non-traditional campaigns.


Step 2: Select Your Specific Strategy

Don’t just pick a strategy out of the sky and think because it’s unique you can’t lose. You can lose, so select the strategy because you know it will impact your customers positively. Dig through market research to figure out the best way to align your message with your target demographic.

Step 3: Negotiate Deals

Once you know which channel you are going to employ, it’s time to negotiate deals so you can start placing ads in some unusual places. The tricky part is, since you are most likely showing ads in places they have never been shown before, you will need to be an artful negotiator. You may want to consider using a media buyer who has experience with placing non-traditional buys and let them negotiate with property owners on your behalf.

Step 4: Define Your Metrics

We’ve saved the most difficult step for last because, as we mentioned earlier, measuring non-traditional campaign success can be difficult. Whereas a direct marketing campaign has an obvious objective, typically to make more sales, a non-traditional campaign may be deployed to facilitate a brand makeover or simply get some buzz created for a new product line. You’ll still need to do your best to determine what indicators you will use to measure.

Non-traditional advertising can be a highly effective part of your overall media mix. Just make sure to do some research and plan accordingly to experience the biggest gains.

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Image Credit: "The Economist: Brain Balloon" by Billy Siegrist is licensed under CC BY 2.0

5 Rules for Determining the Right Media Mix

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 01:16 PM

With the continued fragmentation of the marketing landscape, it has become increasingly difficult for CMOs to know whether or not they are spending their budgets on the right media mix. Obviously, every individual brand has different campaign objectives, but typically speaking, there are some hard and fast rules to recognizing if your media mix is working for you or not.

Rule Number 1: If None of Your Traffic/Leads are Coming from Mobile – It’s Time to Shake Things Up

While different industries and verticals require different channels to reach their audience, at this point in time, mobile marketing should definitely be a part of your media mix. Consumers are now spending more time on their mobile devices than ever before, which means if none of your business is coming from mobile campaigns, you’re leaving an awful lot of money on the table.

And, to be clear, the importance of including mobile into your marketing mix goes for purely online businesses, brick-and-mortar businesses, local, national, B2B and B2C businesses. Mobile is simply one of the best ways to get yourself in front of a larger audience.

Rule Number 2: If You’re Not Using Your First-Party Data, You’re Most Likely Not Using the Best Channels Available to Youstatistics-90357_1280

Perhaps you jumped on the CRM (customer relationship management) bandwagon awhile back and are now using a system with incredibly robust features. You may even have a healthy base of customers and a perfectly segmented list of subscribers. But are you using the data available to you?

If you’re still not advertising on Facebook or display because the two other times you tried, your campaigns didn’t perform well, then no, chances are you aren’t leveraging your data.

In the last few years alone the targeting options available to marketers have exploded. Think Google’s Similar Audiences, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, and Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. By using your data you can determine who your customers already are, then use these new channels to go prospecting for people who “look” just like them.

Rule Number 3: Spy on Your Competition to Know What Channels are Working for Them

Are you paying attention to what your competitors are doing? You should be, because this can generally be the greatest source of marketing information available to you. While we are not suggesting you build your entire marketing campaign and strategy on copycatting, we are suggesting that the next time you plan your media mix, take a look at what channels your competitors are using and how successful they are, because odds are they are targeting the exact same demographics.


Rule Number 4: Don’t Throw Money at Every Shiny New Channel

At one time Pinterest, Instagram and Vine were all shiny new channels, and they’ve turned out to be very useful in many brands’ marketing mix. But for every successful new channel there are a dozen duds that come onto the digital scene.

Keep your eyes and ears open for any and all new advertising options, but fiscally speaking, it’s better to be in the second wave of adopters. A majority of new channels have bugs and unrefined reporting, so why not let those with bigger budgets test the waters first?

Rule Number 5: Make Sure You Really Know What Each Channel Offers

How can you possibly know which channels will serve you best unless you know exactly what they offer? For instance, should you add newspaper ads into your mix? Well, if your ideal prospect is a baby boomer with a healthy dose of disposable income, then yes you should. Newspapers are highly effective at delivering your message to this particular demographic. If you are a B2B marketer and haven’t really looked into LinkedIn, why not? If you’re selling a very visual product but haven’t tested Pinterest yet, again, why not? Until you really know the advantages of each channel, you’ll have a hard time determining the right mix for your campaigns.

Knowing which channels you should be spending your budget on isn’t rocket science, but it does take some thought, investigating and subsequent testing. Use these 5 rules to help you determine the winning media mix for your business.

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

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Topics: media buying, media planning

16 Best Practices for Insert Media Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 09:14 AM

Insert media is the ultimate form of insider marketing. By sending your offers as part of the delivery of an already trusted merchant, prospects see your creative in the most positive possible light. Here are 16 best practices to put your marketing materials in the right packages and make the most of insert media advertising.

1. Test Small …free-standing-inserts
… but be sure to test enough to be statistically valid. Many advertisers feel they do not have the budget to embark on a successful insert media campaign. This is not true. Most advertisers do not need to distribute millions of pieces to determine if the channel can work. Minimize your risk by distributing enough to accurately read your response. Testing four programs with 25,000 in each is often better than testing one program with 100,000.

2. Test Smart
When deciding which programs to test, there are many factors that should be considered. First and foremost are the demographics of the host program. In addition, you must be aware of the total universe of the program so there is opportunity to roll out should the tests prove successful. However, don’t be lured into testing a program solely because there is ample volume of packages.

3. Test Broad
Vary your test in terms of category and audience. Testing different audiences is smarter and safer than testing multiple programs in a single category. Do not only test gardening programs, for instance. Expand your distribution to reach buyers in other categories as well. This strategy increases your odds of finding a successful category while a one-dimensional test will result in an inaccurate portrayal of the medium as a whole.

4. Test, Retest
One successful test is not enough to warrant a full roll out in any channel. Take your time with your tests and make sure the positive results are accurate before committing to a larger roll out.

5. Code
It may sound simple, but you would be surprised by how many advertisers don’t code their inserts properly. Not only should each program have its own unique code, but each month in a particular program should also have a unique code. This will yield a better understanding of the insert’s performance in a program over time.

6. Control Works
When testing new channels, or new programs within a channel, stick with what works. After a successful test and retest, then you can expand to new formats, offers, or creative.

newspaper_insert_section7. Use the Space
Don’t get lost in the package—stand out! The average maximum dimensions for a package insert program are 5-1/2″ x 8 1/2″. Use that space as best you can. Don’t get lost in a package with a 3 1/2″ x 5″ insert when you can use one twice a large and attract more attention.

8. Share Results
It is important to share your successes and failures with your list broker. The more detailed the information you share, the more effective they will be in returning qualified program recommendations to you. If a program did not work for you at $45/M it may still be successful at $30/M, but your broker will never know that unless you are open and honest about your responses. A simple “it did not work” is not enough. Be as exact as possible.

9. Multiple Reply
Give the recipient more than one way to respond to your offer. Business reply card, 800 number, URL, even mobile barcodes should be incorporated into your creative. And make those calls to action prominent.

10. Optimize for Mobile
If you choose to incorporate a mobile link in your offer, be sure your site is optimized for mobile browsing. This also sounds basic, and it is, but I still see far too many companies who do not have their sites optimized for mobile. Also, as an alternative, if your offer is two steps or an information request, consider mobile links that simply open up a reply page as opposed to your main offer page. Let customers request your catalog and enter their information before directing them to your offer.

11. Track All Responses across All Channels
You know it’s happening. Customers are getting your catalog or direct mail piece and responding or purchasing online. The same goes for insert media. Do your best to track your responses across all channels so you know just where your customers are coming from.

12. Share Your History
When developing an insert media test campaign, it is very helpful for list brokers to have an understanding of the advertiser’s history with direct mail. The more history you share, the better the recommendation. Some of the lists you have mailed might have corresponding insert programs. If a particular list has been very successful, you should test its insert program as well, or others like it. Also, some lists you thought should have worked but were marginal could prove to be successful with the lower cost of insert media.

13. Be Wary of Duplication
Ask about duplication in programs from the same program owner. Many packages, blow-ins, ride-alongs, and statement programs will reach the same recipient at different times.

14. Maintain Insert Inventory
Although not prudent when in the testing phase, once you decide to roll out this becomes good practice. Programs are always looking for advertisers to fill empty slots at the last minute. Keep a few codes on hand to take advantage of these last minute deals. You’ll be glad you did.

15. Lead Times
Be aware of the lead times when planning your campaign. Most insert media campaigns need to be enacted weeks in advance of distribution. Program availability, collation, production, and delivery all come into play when scheduling your test.

16. Seasonality
When testing a new channel, be sure to test at a time you know performs best for your offer.

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Topics: newspaper inserts

What Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print Advertising

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 04, 2015 @ 08:54 AM

Well, another presidential election year is upon us and that means presidential candidate hopefuls are pulling out all the stops to raise billions of dollars for smear campaigns while shaking hands and kissing babies across this great land of ours. Though watching this political circus can be, at times, disheartening, it can also be quite enjoyable, like when politicians make some fairly incredible blunders that seem almost too good (or bad) to be possible. And, once a big blunder is made, it’s generally hard to recover from it, as history has shown us.

The good news for us is, some of the biggest political campaign blunders in history can teach us an awful lot about running a successful print ad campaign.

Dan Quayle and the Extra “E”What Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print Advertising

This has got to be one of the biggest campaign blunders in all of political history. In1992, when running for re-election, Bush again tapped Dan Quayle to be vice president, even though there were rumors Bush was advised to replace him. Perhaps Bush should have listened because while visiting an elementary school in New Jersey for a photo op, Quayle watched as a young boy was asked to write the word “potato” up on the blackboard. After the student finished, Quayle hinted that he had forgotten one letter and urged the kid to add an “E” at the end of the word. Confused, the boy complied and added the “E” and Quayle said, “There you go!” The Bush team lost re-election.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Don’t Add What Doesn’t Belong

Never add too much to your print ad or it will become busy and overwhelm the reader who will quickly skip over it to the next. Keep your ad simple and clean and make sure to include enough white space. Also, stick to one font so your ad looks professional.

John Kerry’s Flip Flop

During a town hall meeting, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry came under attack for changing his mind on important issues. He decided to explain why he changed his mind on an important funding bill by announcing, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.” Ummmmmmm. In the end, that single sentence is what kept many swing voters from voting for Kerry and why he became known as a big flip-flopper. Though he came darn close, Kerry was unable to unseat President George W. Bush.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Be Sure You’re Clear on Your Campaign’s Objective

You don’t want to find yourself three weeks into a campaign with thousands of dollars spent only to discover you’ve changed your mind about what the ad should say and do. Before even getting to the creative stages of developing an effective ad, decide the ad’s objective – promoting a sale, offering a coupon, announcing a new location, etc. Only when you know the ad’s objective should you begin thinking about creative.

What Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print AdvertisingSarah Palin vs. Katie Couric

In 2008, presidential candidate John McCain announced he had selected Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin was only the second woman ever to run for vice president (Geraldine Ferraro was first to run in 1984) and instantly charmed the media. McCain soon took a lead in the polls and all seemed like he might actually stand a chance at beating President Obama.

And then Palin agreed to a one-on-one interview with Katie Couric. It soon became very clear that Palin had not prepared enough, or at all, for this interview as her answers all came across as rote. She also couldn’t name one single newspaper or magazine that she read and instead said, “All of ‘em. Any of ‘em.”

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Do Your Homework

Unless you do your homework and know exactly who your target audience is, what their pain points are, and how your offer can solve their problem, your campaigns will never be successful.

Howard Dean and the Scream

In 2004, governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, became an unexpected candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. He quickly rose in the polls with his promise of reclaiming the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” and to end the war in Iraq immediately. In no time Dean became the one to beat and there was talk that he might beat Bush.

And then “it” happened. During the Iowa caucuses, as Dean was addressing a large crowd at his headquarters, he was forced to shout over all of the noise. He very loudly and enthusiastically declared, “Not only are we going to New Hampshire…we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York…. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House!” Then he let out a sort of crazy scream. While he was most likely just excited and trying to be heard above the din, and he was the only one mic’d, he still came across as certifiably nuts. His campaign never recovered.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Remain Calm

Advertising is a marathon not a sprint and you’ll have to stay levelheaded and calm before you start to see results and a return on your investment. This is important to know going into your campaign. We have seen many advertisers panic and change courses before their ad even had a chance. You also need to remain calm when testing new channels that may not present themselves as valuable immediately.

Al Gore’s Claim He Invented the InternetWhat Political Campaign Blunders Can Teach Us about Print Advertising

Vice President Al Gore was in a head-to-head race against former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley when he sat down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. When asked to list his qualifications for president, Gore boasted, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Well, now, let’s take a look at that statement…. Yes, Gore was indeed an early proponent of the Internet but the creator? No. This bold and inaccurate statement damaged his campaign and labeled Gore as a serial exaggerator.

Print Ad Campaign Lesson: Don’t Make Claims You Can’t Back Up

Never use your advertising to trick readers into thinking you’re offering something you’re not. Be transparent and honest, always, and never exaggerate. For instance, if you won an award a few years ago for exceptional customer service, you can say that, but don’t claim you’ve won this award for the past five years in a row.

Print advertising is not very different from political advertising when you think about it. You can either manage your ad campaign toward victory, or make a big blunder that you may not recover from.

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Image credit: "Al Gore at SapphireNow 2010" by Tom Raftery is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0"Sarah Palin" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Topics: print advertising

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