Direct Mail

Beat Your Control
May 1, 2005

Recently, I received a phone call from a B-to-B marketer in Denver who said he needed help beating his 10-year control mailing. There’s no bigger, more rewarding and more frightening challenge than being asked to try to beat a control that’s withstood years of testing. What does it take to overpower a direct mail workhorse that has been in the mail for 10, even 20 years? While I’ll quickly admit I don’t have a perfect track record, I’ve had the chance to learn from what’s worked and what hasn’t. What follows are some tips for you to try as you develop your own control-beating

Oops: 6 Tips to Avoid Direct Mail Gaffes
March 1, 2005

Have you ever received a piece of mail that prompted you to think, “Oops! I wonder what they were they thinking when they mailed me this?” My first tip for avoiding these direct mail blunders is to put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your mail. Do this and you’re almost guaranteed to avoid the following problems. Timing Is Everything This past Nov. 24—the day before Thanksgiving—I received two different holiday gift catalogs already proclaiming, “It’s not too late—Christmas delivery guaranteed!” and, “There’s still time to order!” With Christmas more than a month away, the “It’s not too late” message is

The Power of Lumpy Mail
January 1, 2005

By Pat Friesen How to get your mail opened first. For years we've endured hearing about junk mail. Then snail mail. Now, I'd like to talk to you about lumpy mail. Unlike the first two, the term lumpy mail isn't meant to be judgmental or derogatory. Simply descriptive. And, no, I didn't coin the phrase; I'm borrowing it from a creative colleague, Dave Nichols of Denver's Heinrich Marketing. My definition of lumpy mail is any envelope with unexpected bulk to it. The envelope can be evenly thick or with a bulge at one end. The key is that when you hold it in

B-to-B Special Report: Put the Direct Back Into Direct Mail With Credit Scores
December 1, 2004

Big corporations might get the lion’s share of business headlines, but the truth is that business in America mostly means small business. Two-thirds of the nation’s new jobs and 40 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product are created by small businesses. Nearly all companies nationwide—99 percent—have fewer than 500 employees, government and industry figures show. That’s why any company planning a large-scale, sophisticated effort to seek out potential B-to-B customers will go where the action is: small- to mid-size businesses. They add up to a huge market for credit card companies offering professional cards, insurance firms rounding out commercial portfolios, office furniture

Do Your Tests Pass Inspection?
December 1, 2004

Not if you’re guilty of any of these common testing mistakes, according to Marketing Managers Tammy Nelson and Christine Andrews. In a session at the DMA’s annual conference in October, Nelson and Andrews drew from their own experiences with American Express Property Casualty companies to expound on some dangerous testing pitfalls—and how to avoid them. • A lack of formal preplanning and number crunching. Testing needs to be more than throwing some ideas into the mailstream to see what sticks. Achieve statistically sound, measurable results by determining what variables you are testing for, what you hope to learn, and what ROI will indicate a

B-to-B Special Report: Keep ‘Em on the Hook
December 1, 2004

For MidCap Business Credit, a commercial lending institution that special-izes in loans for firms with credit ratings of B or lower, the challenge is not just refining the list selection process to isolate the best prospects, but also to anticipate when these firms will be in the market for working capital. The answer, says Lee Marc Stein, proprietor of Lee Marc Stein Ltd., a direct marketing consultancy and creative services firm in Hauppauge, N.Y., that created this campaign for MidCap Business Credit, was a straightforward pitch that offered respondents two levels of response. MidCap conducted its first direct mail test a few months ago,

Hook Them With Your Copy
November 1, 2004

If you can get people to spend more time reading your direct mail, you’re likely to generate more response One of the most eye-opening things I’ve learned during my 25-year career of writing direct mail copy is that people don’t read every word I write—even those who truly are interested in what I’m selling. And they certainly don’t read it from start to finish. Instead, most people scan copy, looking for reasons either to keep reading … or toss it. Even those who ultimately respond spend less than three or four minutes reading the copy it took you (or your writer) days or weeks

It’s All About the Offer: Time to Pull the Trigger?
November 1, 2004

Technology enables marketers to customize direct mail offers beyond personalization Traditional direct mail personalization techniques allow you to customize communications at the group level, using information such as age, income, location and education. However, these techniques cannot address the fact that every segmentation group is comprised of individuals with very different wants, needs, attitudes and buying behaviors. Trigger programs give marketers added power to act on individually supplied facts about what each customer actually wants and needs rather than statistical inferences. Direct response trigger programs use an individual’s responses to media, input, interactions, purchase transactions and even complaints to deliver a fully customized marketing message at

It’s All About the Offer: Marketing on the Left Side of the Brain
November 1, 2004

Using data, you can focus solidly on the customer -- not the product -- to make more effective offers. Back in the 20th century, sales and marketing geniuses were American business heroes—they built great sales forces that built great companies, and created great ads that built great brands. But during the past 25 years, technology changed the rules. Now and forevermore, marketing geniuses will be guided not by intuition but by predictive analytics. In the future, marketing geniuses increasingly will use an understanding of customer behavior to offer the right product, at the right price, at the optimum time. Forrester Research analyst Eric Schmitt

Modeling Brings New Life to TV Guide
October 1, 2004

Problem: Declining circulation Solution: Build a relational database to support modeling and customer segmentation Result: Better targeted offers boost response to acquisition and renewal campaigns A household name for 50 years, TV Guide was feeling the pain of competing TV listing sources and a subsequent drop in newsstand sales in the late 1990s. Its circulation steadily declined by 20 percent over the course of a decade. But thanks to an aggressive modeling strategy, the tide turned in 2003. With a renewed focus on its subscribers and a relational database, TV Guide’s circulation once again is climbing. In the fall of 1999, Hairong