Continuous Improvement

Over time, fulfillment programs can grow complicated and unwieldy, becoming less efficient if marketers do not carefully assess the impact of incremental changes to materials and processes. To keep a program running in Olympic form, marketers should invest in regular audits that take into account the full spectrum of operations and materials needed to achieve the desired goal - balancing cost with response.

Digg This

If you don't think I have one too many G's in the headline above, then you might be part of the plugged-in set that Universal McCann polled for the most recent phase of its social media research project. Called Wave 3, this initiative puts some numbers to the global explosion of social media.

Direct Marketer of the Year: Pamela A. Evans, Senior Web Marketing Manager, IBM Software Group

The industry almost lost one of its brightest direct marketers to the field of journalism. A recession redirected IBM's Pamela A. Evans into communications and marketing—the launchpad for a dynamic career that has brought her to the forefront of the industry's current evolution.

Doing Your Own PR

"Public relations is the business of letting people in on what you are doing," counseled Evelyn Lawson, my first mentor in the business. And Michael Levine's new guide, "Guerilla PR 2.0: Wage an Effective Publicity Campaign Without Going Broke" (ISBN 978-0-06-143852-3, Collins paperback, 354 pages, $14.95), will put you and your team in the mind-set-and give you the basics-of professional PR. Even if you have a PR department or an outside agency on retainer, here is the inside dope that will enable you to know whether your PR is being done right or not.

Green is Good

We all understand the sense of urgency to produce and the need to control costs while still meeting deadlines and sales targets. After all, that's business. However, green marketing is a concept that, when implemented effectively, can improve your customer relationships, image in the market and ability to reach the most targeted audience, while helping grow your bottom line.

Green Your Data Management

As environmental consciousness seeps into the corporate boardroom, some companies are publishing two annual reports. One report is the traditional shareholder document that contains financial statements and other information deemed relevant to investors and other stakeholders. The other report provides a view of the company's "carbon footprint" and progress toward environmental improvement across the various aspects of its business operations.

Looking for the Right Words

Almost universally, the great writing teachers tell us to avoid jargon and use small words instead of big words. But in copywriting, there are certainly exceptions to this rule—times when a bigger or fancier word, or even jargon, can command the reader's attention and persuade him more effectively than everyday prose.

Narrow Niche E-mails Increase Sales

Problem: Design Toscano wanted to increase response rates on e-mails.
Solution: Sent fewer e-mails, with higher product relevance based on customer transaction history.
Results: E-mail orders increased 800 percent.

Privacy Is Just Table Stakes

As we head into the annual DMA conference, I am drawn to think back on some of the columns the good people at Target Marketing magazine have allowed me to write during the last 12 months. And, as I do, I think these columns have really dealt with the "nuts and bolts" of privacy: notice, choice, security, etc.

Shine the Silver Lining

Imagine always being the bearer of bad news. Day in, day out, consistently reminding friendly clients that the worst is yet to come-accidents, floods, fires, even death. Insurance agents have it kind of rough.

Luckily, the nature of the beast means this sector is extremely open to products and services that make winning clients that much easier. Their wares might give new meaning to the term, "hard sell," but that doesn't mean their 9 to 5 has to be difficult, too.

Sign Up for Value

Marketers who want to exploit the full potential of e-mail should develop plans to consistently grow their permission-based e-mail lists of customers and prospects. This allows them to build loyalty and promote cross-sell and upsell opportunities. A housefile represents names the marketer "owns" and has permission to use. While marketers use many tactics to grow their lists, those individuals who enroll in programs on a marketer's site should be the cornerstone of any program. In most cases, these individuals have taken an action to positively sign up. They should be one of the best-performing sources.

Tech Talk

Multichannel Campaigns, Precision Targeting, SEM Optimization

Tested and Proven

Direct marketing, regardless of channel, in so many ways is a scientific endeavor. Direct marketing strategists strive to isolate the drivers of better response rates, open rates, clickthrough percentages and conversion. The mathematical and scientific nature of direct marketing lends itself, more than any other marketing discipline, to experimentation. And we call that experimentation "testing."

The Price Is Right … or Is It?

Similar market pressures impact consumers' perceptions of the value of virtually every product or service, yet many direct marketers change their prices infrequently, if at all. [...] do you need to cut prices in order to win more orders from cash-strapped consumers, or do you need to raise prices to keep up with rising costs? (Which reminds me, I need to send in the $50 rebate on my cool, new phone before I lose the rebate slip or the UPC, or forget about it entirely as the marketer is hoping.) Other effective ways to reduce the perceived price include installment billing and, in the case of subscription marketing, per-issue or per-month pricing. A classic example of reducing the perceived price in consumer marketing is selling automobiles based on monthly payment. Author of "46 Ways to Raise Prices without Losing Sales!," "The Tao of Pricing" and "Pricing Psychology Report," Jensen has discovered many instances when test results defy conventional wisdom and create profit-building opportunities. Of all the variables that go into the success or failure of any marketing campaign, price is perhaps the easiest to test - and often proves to be the easiest way to boost profitability.

What's Your Story?

Great brands tell great stories. Annette Simmons' book title sums it up best: "Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins." The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) published a study last year that agrees with her sentiment: "Advertisements that tell a branding story work better than ads focused on product positioning." Bill Cook, senior vice president of research and standards of ARF, stated that "when the emotional peaks align with the presence of the brand or the impact of the brand in the story, the emotional connection with the brand is the greatest."

You Make the Call

In the current tough economic environment, many marketing and sales organizations are curtailing their in-person visits to prospects and customers. Of course, they still need to find, engage, acquire and keep customers. And despite all the e-marketing initiatives, most business prospects and customers still insist on some form of live, personal contact, especially for "considered decisions."