Five Creative Ideas for Buckslips
January 24, 2007

During the past five years, buckslips became a little less prominent in direct mail packages as marketers tried to cut costs by downsizing their packages. But direct marketing consultant Lee Marc Stein reported in the November 2006 issue of his monthly e-mail newsletter, “Increasing Return on Marketing Dollars,” that he’s seeing a renewed interest from clients in these insert-size elements. In that spirit, Stein offers up five creative tactics for getting the most bang for your buckslip: Idea #1: Consider using the buckslip to summarize the offer. Publishers, for example, could test this idea out in their voucher or statement of benefits packages. Stein paired this

Direct Selling: Picture Perfect
January 1, 2007

Close your eyes and think of a Pottery Barn catalog. Or Lands’ End. Or J. Jill. Can you picture them? Chances are, you have a clear and distinct image in mind. You know what the photography looks like because all of these brands have established a certain style and “look” that is unique to them. They’ve achieved this over time through consistent execution of their defined styles. Pottery Barn, for instance, always shows a warm and inviting room consisting of the various pieces of furniture and accessories sold in the photo spread. It allows you to picture yourself in that perfect environment. Lands’ End, on

The Great Response Influencers
January 1, 2007

I recently revisited the columns I’ve written for Target Marketing in the past few years and noticed that several of them focus on specific direct mail tactics such as creative postage options, postcards and other direct mail formats. After a recent meeting in which all my client wanted to talk about regarding his upcoming mailing was the format, I thought it time to offer this gentle reminder to both clients and readers: An effective direct mail strategy is based on the synergy of multiple key elements working together to generate cost-effective response—not just one or two tactical pieces. Focus on only one—such as the format—at the

Nuts & Bolts: Tweak Creative to Increase E-mail Results
January 1, 2007

One of the best ways to improve potential customers’ e-mail experience is to get them captivated and involved, according to Bill Spink, executive vice president and chief creative officer of DMW Worldwide. In a November 2006 presentation at the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association’s Marketing Magic seminar, Spink offered the following tips to attendees looking to magnify their direct marketing e-mail results. Use attention-grabbing headlines. Cite the benefits of the product or service to the consumer; for instance, “save time and money” instead of the product’s features, “new and improved.” Keep it concise. A short subject line with precisely worded copy has a better chance of drawing

Take a Different Tack With Teasers
December 13, 2006

Go from blah … to aha! Which tactic does one industry veteran swear turns an ordinary package into a mailbox-busting control? As the opening sentences gamely attempt to imitate, baiting a prospect with tantalizing queries is a good way to get your outer envelope opened. But although the draw of sheer curiosity is strong, direct mail copywriter Ken Scheck suggests a more efficient way to capitalize on the power of teasers is to use them to summarize the key points of packages with extremely detailed content. By their short-and-sweet nature, teasers can help appeal to the various informational needs of a target audience while

Three Ways to Consider Color in Your Marketing Campaign
December 13, 2006

Could the way to your prospects’ wallets be through their stomachs? Well, perhaps not literally, but when it comes to deciding which color combinations will resonate with an audience, John H. Bredenfoerder—president-elect of Color Marketing Group (CMG), a nonprofit organization for design professionals, and design director for Cincinnati-based brand consultancy Landor Associates—likens the process to the delicate balance of seasonings a chef uses to create a palate-pleasing dish. “I like to refer to color as the ‘Spice of Design.’ It lets us customize our designs to our target’s specific wants and needs,” he says. Here, Bredenfoerder offers three ways to think of color as

Creative Corner: Lose the Attitude
December 1, 2006

I loved my dad dearly, especially for his remarkable aptitude for being wrong about just about everything. He was actually right about everything, but something in his complicated psyche made him say the exact opposite. My dad used to tell me, “You have to be tough to survive in this dog-eat-dog business world. Nice guys finish last.” Once I learned that his advice was 180 degrees from what he really meant, I knew he was telling me that it pays to be nice when you can. What Does “Nice” Have to do With Direct Marketing? I was thinking about this question yesterday when I came

Mining for Creative Ideas
December 1, 2006

Anyone familiar with database marketing is aware of the cultural divide between creative types and data types. It’s as if the two groups speak a different language. While maximum response and ROI are shared goals, how the two groups go about understanding the audience to craft campaigns that achieve these goals often is completely different. Data analysis typically is targeted around one goal: selecting the “best” names, the names that will bring the highest response. Different audience segments may be selected, but in the end, a name either is selected or it’s not. The challenge is left for the creative specialists to fit the

When it Comes to Stamps, Third Time’s a Charm for Mailers
November 8, 2006

Affixing a live stamp to an outer envelope is a well-known tactic used by direct mailers to reach a prospect on a personal level. However, when it comes to making your piece stand out from the flux of stamped missives that’s growing ever stronger as the holiday season approaches, Doug King, team sales manager for the U.S. Postal Service suggests adopting a rule of three in terms of application. “If the postage’s going to be 21 cents … break that up into three denominations and have three different stamps on there,” he explains. A tactic mainly used by the nonprofit sector, spreading the cost

Achieve Relevancy and Resonance with Personalization
November 8, 2006

The undisputed, attention-getting power of personalization has been bottled and sold by marketers for quite some time, and as new technologies take center stage, it grows ever more potent. As direct mailers move beyond the moniker-laden postscript and salutation, today’s marketing message is defined by more customer-specific communication. James Michelson—a principal at marketing and technology firm JFM Concepts—maintains, “The key to personalization is more than just the name. It’s everything that corresponds to that person’s demographic.” Such targeted information can include where a prospect lives, what kind of car they drive, even their past experiences—and it’s being used to great success in direct mail