Attention Marketing Managers – Do You Make This Mistake in Your PR – Marketing or Advertising?

As a writer, one of the most common questions I get from clients when I create a direct-mail campaign, PR press release, a brochure, a web page or a print ad is, “Will people read all that text? Shouldn’t it be shorter?”

No.

Writing is like a bridge over a river — it should be as long as it needs to be. If it is too short by even the smallest margin, it’s no good at all. It goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing. A letter or ad that leaves out any important details in the interest of brevity leaves the reader short of his purchasing decision, stranded at the end of a too-short bridge to nowhere.

And yet many times clients will glance at a proof of an ad or a fundraising letter and reflexively say, “That’s too long.”

Too long for what? Mere brevity does not make an advertisement interesting — any more than mere length makes an advertisement dull.

— On a Web page, for example, visitors find the page by searching. They go to some trouble to seek out the very information on that page. These visitors are keenly interested in the topic. Of all the vast information on the Internet, they’ve selected this single page because of its apparent relevance to them. The Web site owner (that’s you) has gone through a lot of trouble to build and host the site for this very moment. Why shortchange the visitor in an arbitrary desire to be brief? Why not give the visitor all the information you can? Isn’t that in the visitor’s best interest — and yours?

— Similarly, in a print ad, people need enough information to decide whether to take action. Why would you leave out important features or benefits that might persuade a buyer? Let’s say you are trying to sell a home pregnancy test kit. Post-menopausal women may not read the ad; but young women in the target market — women who are trying to get pregnant (or those trying not to!) may read every word; they want to know how accurate the test is, how reliable, how fast it provides results, how soon it can be used after pregnancy occurs, how easy it is to use, how much it costs, etc. To them, at this time, this is the most interesting topic in the world. Will the rest of us read all that detail? No, but who cares! We’re not in the market. Research and testing has shown that ads with longer copy sell more effectively.

— Direct-mail solicitations generally are three or more pages, plus a brochure, and often a “lift letter” or other device, as well as a reply card and envelope. Lots of stuff! Why is this format preferred over a short, concise letter? Because it has been tested countless times in real-world campaigns, and longer-text letters sell more effectively. The same is true for fundraising letters – just take a look at some of the solicitations you receive.
Sometimes clients will say to me, “I would never read all that stuff — I just throw it away.” Perhaps the client is not in the market for the product. Everybody will not read it. But the fact is that the very people you are most interested in will read your ad. These are the prospects who will buy your product or service if you tell them sufficient reasons for doing so.

Let’s say you love golf. You play golf every chance you get. You can never get in enough time on the golf course. You think about golf at work, and your screen-saver on your computer has a golf photo. You arrive home one night and start sorting through your mail. Bills. A sweepstakes. More bills. And a letter that has a golf ball on the envelope and the words “Just for Golfers.” I bet you’ll open it and read it, and if it’s well-written, you’ll read all of it, because you love golf. This illustration means your marketing material must be well-written and strategically targeted. These two criteria — the quality of the writing and the quality of your strategic targeting — are far more important than brevity for its own sake.

Would you send a salesman out on an important sales call and say, “When you get there, talk fast and keep it under 30 seconds, then shut up so they don’t get impatient.” That wouldn’t work. So why send a letter that is trivial in its brevity? Why write an ad that leaves key questions unanswered? Don’t make that mistake. For most products and services, a picture and a few words are highly unlikely to attain the desired response. Your ad needs to do what a salesman would do when face to face with a prospect and provide a complete presentation of the product or service benefits.

The Home Front – How an Information Marketer Manages Working-at-Home

My uncle once told me that he thought working at home was for “slackers” and meant a “do-little job.” He was a lifelong farmer who rose at dawn every day to tend to his 200 acres of cattle pasture. My uncle prided himself, as I did, on his old school work ethic. Funnily enough, he also admitted over a beer or two that he wasn’t a man of the modern age, so maybe he wasn’t hip to people who worked at home.

As an info marketer, you are a person of the modern age. One of the benefits of being this person is the ability to work at home. But most people don’t understand what it means to actually do this, especially younger entrepreneurs. It doesn’t mean a “holiday-at-home” and, if you don’t understand how to be a good work-at-home entrepreneur, you run the risk of having your business fail right before your eyes.

Here are some tips on what you need to be a successful work-at-home information marketer:

— A work space: Find the best place in your home to work from. Make sure it is well-lit, spacious, and free from distractions. Some find darker areas like a basement better, while others like the traditional, sunlight drenched attic space.

— A desk area and tools: Within your workspace, carve out where you want to work. Whether it is in a corner or in the area’s center, find the most comfortable place to work from and arrange your desk and computer there. Put everything you need around it, including books, paper, stationery, phone, fax machine, and photocopier. Don’t worry so much about being neat at first or even creating a mess. Despite protestations from his wife and cleaning lady, our associate Bill Hebden prides himself on being surrounded by his own “disaster area” and knows intuitively where everything he needs is located. His time-honed professional performance has shown this to work best for him.

— A schedule and agenda: Create your own agenda for what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis. Schedule your e-newsletter releases and do up a list of the next day’s activities before you go to bed each night. Schedule breaks for yourself on a regular basis and do not deviate from your self-made arrangement.

— Discipline: This is your business right? You have to make it as successful as possible and cannot forget why you are working at home in the first place. You have to work. Get in the mindset of remembering this and over time your discipline in working at home will become habitual.

I should mention that I had to learn all of these things thanks to a previous publishing job. From the get-go, we were allowed one work-at-home day a week. I did okay with this privilege as I got to work right after I woke up and finished most tasks before early afternoon. Some of my colleagues, though, didn’t do well with this arrangement and goofed off too much at home. They almost lost their privileges as a result.

Learning the skills of working at home is invaluable to the information marketer. The success of your business will be constant and you will never have to step into another person’s office again.

The Direct Marketing Manager’s Dream Come True – Variable Graphics with True Offset Quality

Following the recent introduction of cutting edge technology we can now offset print full colour brochures and flyers including colour photo of the individual recipients, on each one, on the fly.

And you can do all this with offset quality.

You can print a full colour multi-page document one page at a time, in the correct page order, ready for binding.

You can run a live press proof, on the correct stock to see exactly how the finished product will look.

You can print say a small run of annual reports (say 10) at minimal unit cost.

The press is called the Indigo and here’s how it works.

The Indigo is a Digital Offset Press and it’s strength is the ability to print subsequent sheets entirely different from the previous sheet and the following sheet.

It’s primarily used for short run colour work and personalised direct mail documents.

Its printing process is based around the ElectroInk technology, which uses small colour particles suspended in Imaging Oil (Isopar) that can be attracted to the sheet or repelled by means of varying voltage.

The ink forms a very thin and smooth plastic layer on the surface of the paper.

These particles are so small that the printed image does not cover the underlying surface of the paper, as is generally the case with laser printers.

This process brings the Indigo print quality closer in appearance to conventional offset lithography, whereby the ink is actually absorbed into the paper.

The suppliers of the Indigo provide the option for users to mix their own ink colours to match Pantone references. This is common with non-digital offset litho presses, and is one of the primary features that separates them from other digital printing devices.

Users can also order special pre-mixed colours, for example fluorescent colours such as pink, orange, green, yellow, red, etc can be printed with great success.

Some Indigo presses can print up to or seven colours in a single pass.

The name Indigo comes from a company founded by Benny Landa in 1977.

His idea was to manufacture photocopiers, however the development of ElectroInk technology lead him to create a Digital Offset Press by replacing the traditional ink with the new technology.

The E-Print 1000 was the result, released in 1993, a plateless digital offset press.

Hewlett Packard, a long-term research & development partner of Indigo, purchased the company in 2002.

Basically there are two versions of the Indigo Press, which can be broadly grouped by commercial (sheet fed, mainly for paper printing), or Industrial (web fed, mainly for packaging).Operators need to be specially trained to run Indigo’s as they are quite different operationally to conventional offset presses.

Management of Marketing Performance For Maximum Profit

Management of marketing performance is a complex topic. Marketing is the business function responsible for getting, keeping and growing customers. This involves making decisions about marketing strategy and developing the appropriate marketing mix. It involves management of product categories and market segments, distribution methods and selling processes. Management of marketing performance is critical to your success in business and maximizing sales revenues and profits.

Despite the importance of effective management of marketing performance, the accountability of the marketing departments and marketing efforts in many businesses is minimal. Many businesses waste a lot of money on marketing. Management of marketing performance is difficult because companies usually don’t track marketing results adequately and therefore are unable to develop relevant marketing measures or “metrics.”

Management of marketing performance is much easier if you boil marketing down to its three basic aims; attracting potential customers (lead generation), converting leads into actual customers (lead conversion) and retaining customers who purchase repeatedly (customer retention). All marketing activities are directed towards one of these objectives.

The fact that there are three variables in the process makes it tricky to develop meaningful measures. However, having only three variables means you can manage marketing performance if you develop marketing metrics relating to each of the variables. Managing marketing performance is then a matter of testing different approaches by only changing one of the variables at any one time. Managing marketing performance is basically a process of testing different methods and discovering which work best. If you only change one variable with each test you will learn something. If you change more than one variable, you won’t know which change caused any improvement or deterioration in results.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process by which you attract potential customers. To accurately measure the effectiveness of your lead generation you must accurately capture and record the source of each lead. For example, when someone comes into your store, or calls on the phone, you want to ask why they came to you. The answer will be from a particular ad, or because of a recommendation from a friend, or because they were just going past and saw your sign, or any number of things.

You must record this information and analyse it frequently, to track the response rates to your advertising and to see what has the most influence on your market. You need to make it easy to record this information, or your sales people will not record it accurately. If possible, automate the process in some way, or make it part of your sales routine. For example, make sure you always provide computer generated quotes which have a field for the enquiry source, which needs to be completed. Analysis of this information will enable you to identify your results in various areas such as product offerings, communication styles, advertising media, etc.

The purpose of all this recording and analysis is to identify which ads are profitable and which are not, so that you can make more intelligent decisions about where to advertise. You will then also be able to identify your average cost per lead from each advertising source.

Lead Conversion

Lead conversion is influenced by your selling methods, pricing strategies, guarantees and warranties, financing options and credit policies, etc. Each of these variables can be tested at various points to determine optimal levels.

The two common metrics to measure in this area are the conversion rate, or number of sales compared to enquiries and the average sale value. You may also want to break these measures down to analyse results from various product categories and market segments.

Measuring your conversion rate and average sales value will help you focus on developing strategies to increase both measures. Most of the effort in attempting to increase sales is usually directed towards increasing the number of enquiries. However, if you are aware of your conversion rate and average sale value, you will often see that it is much more effective to improve your conversion rate to increase sales which means no added marketing cost is required. If your conversion rate is in the order of 4 sales from 10 enquiries, your sales revenue can be increased dramatically without any more enquiries being generated, if you can simply increase your conversion rate to 5 out of 10. Such an improvement would result in a 25% increase in sales volumes with no additional outputs.

Increasing your average sale value is also another simple way to dramatically increase sales results. You need to discover how to increase your margins on each sale. Sometimes this may be as simple as increasing your prices. Most businesses actually undervalue their worth to customers and try to compete on price alone. Adding value to your product will allow you to get out of the price wars and compete at a different level, where profit margins are healthier and customers are easier to deal with.

Another way to add value to the sale is by upselling. Learn the version of McDonald’s “Would you like fries with that,” that works in your business. What would complement any of the products or services you sell that you could add to each purchase to increase the value and profitability of the sale. When the customer has already decided to buy and has their wallet open is the best time to ask them for more.

Customer Retention

Tests have concluded that on average, it is six times less expensive to gain sales from existing customers than to gain new customers. However, marketing to existing customers is often an overlooked area in many businesses. There are many ways to increase sales to existing customers. The hardest job in marketing is to get a new customer. Once you have done that job and have performed at a level to satisfy or exceed their expectations with their purchase, the battle to sell more is already half done. You have won the customer’s trust, which is the biggest battle in selling.

The metrics you need to measure in this area are frequency of purchase and lifetime customer value. The lifetime customer value is calculated by multiplying the average sale value by the average number of times a customer will make a purchase from you over the course of your relationship with them. This number is important in management of marketing performance because it provides the basis for determining your level of investment in marketing. When you know this number you can compare it with your cost per lead from each source to identify whether it is worth the investment.