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.
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.
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.
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.
There's no question that the Obama for America campaign set a new standard in online fundraising. Of its $750 million raised, half a billion came in online. Let me say that again. Half a billion dollars came in online; that's 6.5 million small donations, with an $80 average gift, from 3 million donors. Those numbers are staggering. So how did Obama for America do it?
You have a first-class product that's proved itself on the market for 18 months. You've run some solid direct mail campaigns around, it and they've helped you capture 40 percent market share. Should you stand pat and send the same lead generation effort out again?
Let's assume you've got to write a lead-generation letter or e-mail that must convince prospects to download a whitepaper from your website. How do you go about it?