Marketers these days have to worry about big, important issues ... branding, click-through rates, website "stickiness," you name it. But as we all know, marketing success ultimately hinges on how you handle all the little details. In other words, how you execute.
Writing about the economic downturn in a direct mail package can be a sensitive subject. To date, only a handful of direct marketers have attempted to do so and gotten it right. You don't want to remind consumers of how bad things are and get them in a penny-pinching state of mind when you are trying to promote your product or service. But if your product or service provides added value to protect consumers during a downturn, then the faltering economy can, in effect, become a selling point.
Over lunch the other day, a friend of mine told me a true story that I want to share with you. A copywriter at a well-known advertising agency recently wrote a 30-second TV commercial and showed it to his boss. The Associate Creative Director read it over and said "It's a great spot, but isn't something missing?" "What's that?" asked the copywriter. "The product," replied his boss. "You forgot to mention the client's product!"
Everybody reads those quirky "What's In/What's Out" lists that reappear in the media each year. This got me thinking about direct mail. As you know, effective direct marketing is an ever-bubbling pursuit that continually erupts with new ideas and technologies. As direct marketers, we keep a close watch on what's working-and what's working even better-for nonprofit and for-profit clients in a range of industries. Some techniques that enjoyed IN status last year are definitely on their way OUT in 2009, simply because new approaches and new technologies are achieving better results. Here are a few examples:
One engaging and prevalent device commonly used to promote diet and weight-loss products is the before-and-after image. For example, not convinced that product X will trim inches off of your waistline? Just look at the "before" shot of a frowning, overweight customer and then the "after" picture of a slim, smiling customer.
To truly reach time-crunched consumers in the mail, marketers must find ways to pique their interest. Sometimes, that means straying from the norm-even if the norm typically pulls the best results.
In part one of this article, published in our April issue, we discussed how the Obama for America campaign became so powerful online, raising half a billion dollars total in small donations. It's true that a political campaign has unique elements that make it ripe for online marketing, such as constant media attention, big name recognition, high emotions and a quick deadline to meet, yet there are many best practices that fundraisers can take away from the Obama campaign.
Valerie Bertinelli promises slimmer hips and thighs with Jenny Craig. Suzanne Somers used to make the same promise with the ThighMaster, recall? Morgan Fairchild offers love advice for Old Navy website visitors in a live chat. New England Patriot's star Tedy Bruschi touts the benefits of life insurance for Boston area consumers. Genevieve Gorder of "Trading Spaces" gives home improvement advice and endorses 3M Corp.'s building products. Teen idol Vanessa Hudgens shares her back-to-school wardrobe preferences in a Sears magazine aimed at teenage girls.
Major marketers targeting small and medium businesses (SMBs) are relying less on traditional marketing tactics because of the economic downturn. Although SMBs say they prefer to receive product and service information though traditional tactics, marketers are relying more heavily on social networking and online resource centers.