Outsource Solutions: Creative Services
October 1, 2004

Hiring a Creative Consultant Whether you’re trying to jump-start a drained creative team, identify areas of opportunity in your direct mail program or simply tighten your billing cycle, a creative consultant can offer the outside expertise and perspective to help you achieve your goals. But where hiring a freelance copywriter or designer to create a new package is fairly straightforward, working with a consultant can be more tricky. To ensure a productive working relationship, it’s good practice to define your expectations up front, establish clear-cut goals and detail it all in a contract so there are fewer questions. Plan for Success For a consultant

Insert Media Buying Guide: Insert Copy and Design Tips
September 1, 2004

Like candy bars and gum in the supermarket checkout line, inserts work on impulse. The viewer needs to immediately comprehend the offer and product or service to make the decision to respond. While it’s true that larger insert pieces provide marketers with more creative options, the overall objectives of commanding attention and delivering a clear proposition remain the same for any type of insert, says Myron Gould, a direct marketing consultant and professor at New York University and Fashion Institute of Technology. Here are some pointers for writing and designing your insert to achieve the maximum effect. The Headline is Key To draw

Prep Work
July 1, 2004

Strong direct mail copy starts with detailed market and product research The first preparation for writing direct mail copy that gets results is to pack in at least 30 years of life experience and, somewhere along the line, do some selling … if it isn’t too late to suggest that. It also will help if you diversify your life experience as much as possible. For example, even if you’re pushing 40, you should not ignore MTV, Fox and VH-1 TV channels. At the other end of the spectrum, America is getting older. And older folks, historically, have been great direct response customers. The overall

E-commerce Link: E-mail by Design
July 1, 2004

Make your message look like a winner Effective e-mail design is important to the success of your program. A consistent template will resonate with your customers, help them easily move through your message and provide them with a customized experience. But designs can become stale. Just as you continue to redesign, enhance and improve your Web site, you should revisit your e-mail template. If your program has been in place for more than 18 months, or if your click-through and open rates are declining, it may be time for a new look. The Basics Your design template should prominently feature your logo; this

Creative Corner: The Brand Promise
June 1, 2004

Create a memorable brand without compromising response A few days ago I took a quick break to zoom around the corner to see the fruit and vegetable man on 39th Street. I was starving! I asked him for four bananas and he said: “$1.25.” “Why,” I asked? “Yesterday they were only a dollar.” “These are Chiquitas,” he smiled. Did I notice the difference between bananas? No, but I forked over the extra quarter. On the way back to work, I ate one and pondered the little oval Chiquita label. Does the label make it a better banana? My perception is that it does. I

Catalog and Direct Selling: Improve Your Catalog Inch by Inch
April 1, 2004

Find creative gems in a SQUINCH. Successful catalogers know how powerful a square-inch analysis (SQUINCH) can be, but few analyze anything beyond a merchandising plan. In truth, once the data has been placed into a SQUINCH format, incredible nuggets can be gleaned from different reports that can shape your creative efforts. The following is a checklist of the obvious and not-so-obvious gems waiting to be found in your SQUINCH. The Obvious 1. Build powerful cover treatments by taking advantage of your best-selling products, especially those that garner high demand. With seconds to grab attention and draw customers into your catalog, use best sellers on

Don’t Fight the Law
April 1, 2004

Your Legal Team Need Not Be the Bane of Your Creative Efforts: A Guide to Prosperous Coexistence Your legal team and your creative team are two departments wed by corporate necessity and predestined to disagree. Or are they? It’s true these two factions, equally vital in the advancement and survival of your business, often approach situations from polar perspectives. But with a little cooperation, understanding and, most importantly, communication, your legal and creative departments can get along like June and Ward Cleaver rather than Peggy and Al Bundy. Perhaps the first step to harmonious relations between legal and creative is understanding the

Direct Mail Design and the Sistine Chapel
March 1, 2004

My wife, Peggy, and I have been to Italy in December twice, and twice we have relished being able to pop into museums, basilicas, chapels and architectural sites without waiting in long lines, without being jostled by thundering herds of tourists and without being deafened by guides nattering a rat-a-tat-tat babble of different languages. Italy in December is glorious! I first saw the Sistine Chapel 50 years ago, then a second time 30 years ago. The colors were drab, and the guides talked about Michelangelo’s use of “chiaroscuro”—light and dark. It turned out that chiaroscuro was none of the artist’s doing. Rather it was the

Well-equipped E-mail
January 1, 2004

Good design gives your message a fighting chance. If it feels as if e-mail marketing has become a battlefield, perhaps that’s because it has. Your messages must duck blacklists while staying in the good graces of whitelists. They must shimmy through spam filters, and then hope—even with opt-in e-mail—that when they finally arrive where you’ve sent them, recipients are still at the addresses. Given all that your e-mail messages must go through to reach their intended targets, it would be kind of sad if you hadn’t equipped them to present your offer in the most effective way possible. Introductions Once your message

When Pigs Fly - Creative Ideas I’ll Never Do Again
June 1, 2003

EDITOR’S NOTE: This contest ended in 2003. When I was a girl, my grandmother was a font of strange expressions. For instance, I was shy and when I didn’t speak, Granny would ask, “Cat got your tongue?” We didn’t have a cat but my friend did and, being very literal-minded, I wondered if it would leap up and bite my tongue off. Every now and then my dad would mull over some business problem and Granny would advise him to “take the bull by the horns.” Dad worked in New York City where, as far as I knew, there were no bulls, and if