Editor’s Notes: Direct and/or Brand?
December 1, 2006

Donny and Marie Osmond, sibling stars of one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, proclaimed that she was “a little bit country” while he was “a little bit rock ’n roll.” As a youngster, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what this meant the Osmonds were “mostly,” but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the skits and songs. When it comes to direct marketing and branding, no such ambiguity has been tolerated. I’ve heard time and again that branding tactics dilute the efficacy of direct response campaigns and thus must be avoided like the returns counter at a major department store the

The Branding Byproduct of SEM
November 29, 2006

Search engine marketing is about getting your rankings increased, working your way to the top of the search engine results, and boosting your number of qualified leads. Branding is about making your company’s name a household word, getting customers to react instinctively to your product, and engendering trust. Two completely separate marketing campaigns, right? Not if you’re smart, says Michael Stalbaum, CEO of UnREAL Marketing, a full-service marketing and advertising agency based in Narberth, Pa. “If you think about it, branding is nothing more than getting your company’s name associated with an action,” Stalbaum says. “In the case of SEM, you want that action to

Editor’s Notes: Trends Not to Ignore
November 1, 2006

When I was editor of Inside Direct Mail, I kept my eye out for trends in the mailstream. And there have been many to see throughout the years: vouchers, double postcards, repositionable notes, oversize efforts, billboards, magalogs. But mailstream trends aren’t the only ones worth noting these days. Cultural trends also can be worth consideration when crafting direct marketing messages. Given that consumers expect advertising and marketing to reflect their personal tastes and lifestyles—even their particular aspirations—copy and imagery must keep pace with these developing trends. A whitepaper on mega-trends from brand consultancy Hiebing crossed my desk a few months back, and it identified eight

Niman Ranch’s Steve Kerford on ‘Going Direct’
October 11, 2006

Niman Ranch sells direct-to-consumer pork, beef and lamb—products that don’t usually lend themselves to direct marketing, least of all online sales. But Niman Ranch has had tremendous success (projected 2006 revenues of nearly $100 million) doing just that. Target Marketing got Steve Kerford, director of online sales for Niman Ranch, to reveal a few of those marketing secrets for this week’s Q-and-A. Not surprisingly, Kerford says selling meat direct to consumers involves a little sizzle, and a lot of steak. Target Marketing: How did Niman Ranch begin the branding process? Steve Kerford: Back in the 1970s, when [San Francisco celebrity chef] Alice Waters opened her restaurant Chez

The New Vanguard
September 9, 2006

Every industry has its luminaries—pioneers whose names become synonymous with the techniques or products they developed. Ed Burnett, Ralph Lane Polk II, Richard Benson, John Caples, Leon L. Bean, Lillian Vernon, Jeff Bezos and, of course, Lester Wunderman come to mind. But not every trailblazer operates in the white-hot spotlight. Many conduct brilliant work day after day for their companies in relative anonymity. That is, until Target Marketing decided to nose around and find those professionals who are setting new standards for direct marketing performance. With the help of our Editorial Advisory Board and other key industry figures, we’ve selected eight exceptional direct marketers who

Catalog and Direct Selling: Sell a Concept
July 1, 2006

Selling items to customers is a craft most direct marketers understand. It’s about selling key benefits with an alluring presentation that resonates with a target audience. But anyone can sell a product. Great direct marketers understand that selling an item, as a part of an overarching merchandise concept, is a critical tool used to engage a customer and eventually create brand loyalty. What Is a Merchandise Concept? Simply stated, it’s a collection of products and price points that own a unique brand personality and represent a highly defined need that resonates with a core, target audience. Notice the word “brand.” Your merchandise concept and your brand

Royal Caribbean’s Maria Polo-Gonzalez on Rich Media for Web Sites
June 14, 2006

Ahead of this summer’s launch of its newest and, thus far, largest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, cruise marketer Royal Caribbean International had a launch of another sort. A year ahead of the ship’s maiden voyage, the marketer debuted its mini Web site. Available as part of its main Web site,, the mini site also was made available to Royal Caribbean trade partners for use on their Web sites—that is, the travel agents who then could market the new experience to customers looking for their next vacation option. Incorporating full-motion video and audio, and featuring three-dimensional renderings

Editor’s Notebook: A Kid and His Blog
March 4, 2006

What was your free time like when you were a teenager? I loved shopping at the mall and talking on the phone with my best friend for hours about life’s critical issues (or nothing at all, if you subscribe to my parents’ interpretation). Teens these days engage in many of the same activities, albeit via more advanced technologies. But they also have the time and knowledge to put a hurting on your brand image. “The most dangerous thing to your brand is a kid with a blog,” joked Andy Sernovitz during a presentation at CADM DM Days this past March. Well, he was sort of

Put Brand in Its Place
February 1, 2006

Direct campaigns that have been designed with brand policy edicts in mind—without the proper application of direct marketing fundamentals—consistently cause a direct communication to look great but under-perform and deliver less than acceptable ROI. For example, an insurance client selling to small businesses is introducing a new brand. The brand is designed to be positive, fun, engaging. These all are great attributes for advertising. However, when using direct channels to get small business owners to pick up the phone and discuss proper coverage, historical evidence shows that fear, worry, uncertainty, discomfort and potential financial loss are what drive prospects to action. So the battle begins

Successful Space
January 1, 2006

Some direct marketers spend thousands of dollars creating and placing space advertisements only to find their money ill spent. Can space ads be a successful part of your marketing mix? Possibly, but only if you avoid the pratfalls of failed efforts. This medium is worth testing, but how can you learn their secrets and execute successful space campaigns year after year? By breaking down the anatomy of the space ad and building a smart campaign inside and out. Strategy: The Bones of the Space Ad While creative is an important component, a successful space ad must begin with solid bones. Long before the