How to Play ‘Gotcha!’


Authentic Marketing

Change is an inevitable precursor to growth. Amidst the corporate growing pains firms face when working to maintain company culture while embracing technology, remembering “what got us here” is a challenge. Looking at the big picture, marketing guru Philip Kotler says authentic marketing “is the art of identifying and understanding customer needs and creating solutions that deliver satisfaction to the customers, profits to the producers and benefits for the stakeholders.” For Des Moines, Iowa-based publishing dynasty Meredith Corp., creating solutions to satisfy customer needs involves using a decentralized approach to leveraging the housefile. It strives to achieve authentic marketing by focusing on long-term ROI with

Direct Selling: Play Conductor

A well-executed print campaign is like a great performance by an orchestra. When all players come in on cue with perfect timing, the performance is elevated to greatness. Various pieces—envelopes, letters and brochures—of your direct mail campaign are printed at different vendors and then merged together at a lettershop for personalization and mailing. Knowing each vendor’s work flow, scheduling, and dos and don’ts can be daunting—not to mention the maze of postal regulations. Every detail has to be perfect. If the mailing is late, it can ruin the results. If it’s printed incorrectly, it can be costly to correct. So, what’s the secret to executing

E-commerce Link: Holiday Countdown

Whether they start their shopping well before Thanksgiving or mere minutes before Santa climbs into his sleigh, holiday shoppers expect a broad choice of products, easy shopping, good prices and rapid, on-time delivery. These are some high hopes, but with carefully crafted marketing and merchandising, you can keep customers happy and sales high throughout your holiday and post-holiday seasons. Gift giving is, of course, the overriding driver of holiday sales. In its October 2006 report, U.S. eCommerce: Five-Year Forecast and Data Overview, Forrester Research found that half of all online buying is for others, and this percentage increases greatly during November and December. Research

Editor’s Notes: Remembering Barry

A little black cloud of sadness is hanging around the Target Marketing Group offices these days. Recently, we learned that Barry Futtersak, one of the team’s top sales executives who retired in 2005, has passed away. It is not a stretch to say the Target Marketing Group would not enjoy the success it has today if it were not for Barry. He was part of the turnaround team in 1993 that began the arduous climb of rebuilding a brand. I was just out of college when I met him, and had little understanding of what it meant to sell a business product. Barry, on the

Famous Last Words: Golf? No Thanks!

When I was a kid, I tried golf—once. I found my eyesight was so lousy—even with glasses—that every ball was a lost ball, even those that went straight down the fairway (which was almost never). I have not picked up a golf club since. In my Friday Philadelphia Inquirer, I received a massive lead-generation piece—a 16-page, 91⁄4˝ x 11˝ (one spread opened up to 361⁄2˝ across) color brochure flogging membership in The Cliffs golfing communities of South Carolina, and especially the new Tiger Woods-designed golf course at High Carolina. This piece—which must have cost 50 cents with printing and insertion—came through my door mail slot in

Fulfillment Goes Digital

If you’re currently leveraging the Web to enhance your organization’s fulfillment efforts, you’re probably on to something. But if you haven’t yet integrated digital fulfillment in your marketing program, consider how it can help you achieve your goals and why it may behoove you to explore this approach. Perhaps your goal is to increase response, reduce time to market, improve customer satisfaction or gain a competitive advantage? Whatever it is, digital fulfillment may be precisely what your marketing program needs to reach that next level. Highly customized brochures, downloadable software, streaming videos and e-mail are among the formats being used to deliver requested information

How to Play ‘Gotcha!’

Last March it was announced that New Century—a giant lender of subprime mortgages—was going out of business, followed in August by the Chapter 11 of American Home Mortgage. Many economists predicted that this subprime debacle had a long fuse. On October 24, 2007 came the announcement that Merrill Lynch was forced to take an $8.4 billion hit in the third quarter caused by a revaluing of the bonds backed by subprime mortgages. Merrill Lynch stock fell 5.8%, its credit rating was downgraded and the overall loss for the quarter was $2.4 billion. Last August 23rd, this e-zine took off on the subprime mortgage crash.

Letters to the Editor

Benson’s Fan Club Your interview with Brian Kurtz [October 2007, “Direct Marketer of the Year”] was a great reminder of the influence mentors play in our lives, often without us even realizing it at the time. Brian has been a mentor to many, as was his early mentor Dick Benson. A few weeks before the article was published, I had gone to search for Dick’s photo on the Web, and I was shocked and upset to discover that it was nowhere to be found. How could someone so influential in our industry vanish so soon after his passing? This was a man who at any given

Lists to Test

The following is a sample of lists available to reach this market: American Association of Individual Investors: 140,705 active paid members of an association that provides tools, data and guidance on investing. Price: $195/M. Call: MSI List Marketing, (847) 934-1111. InvestorsInsight Publishing: 156,742 six-month hotline names from this publisher of financial news products. Price: $135/M. Call: Teramedia, (407) 420-1108. Morningstar Dividend Investor: More than 12,123 subscribers who’ve paid up to $109 for a subscription to this monthly newsletter. Price: $155/M. Call Worldata, (561) 393-8200. The Kiplinger Letter: 123,891 subscribers to this weekly business outlook newsletter. Price: $150/M. Call: American List Counsel, (914) 524-5263. The Independent Adviser for

Make Sure Your Mail Gets Delivered

You’re planning a mailing to a list of customers or prospects. You have spent a lot of time thinking up a really great offer and a clever creative piece. You get a good list and mail it. Let’s say the response is poor. What went wrong? The chances are good that it was the processing of the list. Most marketers don’t seem to know this. Twenty four percent of the Standard Class mail given to the U.S. Postal Service is undeliverable-as-addressed because the address or name is wrong. While you were asleep, the USPS became very efficient and mechanized. It requires that addresses on bulk

Market Focus: Individual Investors

More than 90 million Americans own shares of stock either as individual investments or through mutual funds, according to the New York Stock Exchange. And many more Americans participate in the stock market through retirement funds, insurance companies and other investment vehicles. But many marketers, no doubt, want to reach only a fraction of that…

Nuts & Bolts: 5-Minute Interview

DTRIC’s marketing performance was on a downward slide. The Hawaii-based insurance provider was facing increased price competition from high-profile mainland companies, low name recognition and a lack of a clear corporate image. To counter this trend, DTRIC enlisted the support of San Antonio-based Harte-Hanks, a worldwide, direct and targeted marketing company, to develop and execute a strategic, multichannel approach that increased awareness of DTRIC’s automobile insurance offerings. Using a combination of television, Web, direct mail and other media such as sign-waving events and elevator signage, Harte-Hanks gave DTRIC a personal touch with its creation of a surfer character. Known as “the Deetric dude,” the character

Nuts & Bolts: Branding

It never fails. General agency professionals and clients who spend their careers building brands go limp when it comes time to ask for the order. It’s as if the call to action needed to get a reasonable response rate from the target audience somehow demeans the brand. Let’s be clear: A strong brand goes a long way toward generating higher response rates, but a strong brand without sales support will deny the organization the sales it deserves. Case in point: While working as a direct marketing consultant for a general agency, the bomb fell when I asked for a description of the offer. The goal for

Nuts & Bolts: Fast Facts

The demand for marketing automation solutions is increasing, according to an August 2007 Winterberry Group whitepaper, Marketing Automation and the Enterprise Opportunity, sponsored by the DMA Marketing Technology Council. The whitepaper’s authors contend that the adoption of marketing automation is being driven by the increase in “customer-centric” marketing, the rapid pace of technological innovation in product development and an increased demand for process efficiency improvement. Speed-to-market provides a competitive edge, according to Henning Kagermann, CEO of software provider SAP, who is quoted in the whitepaper as saying, “Every 3.5 seconds a new product is introduced. At these rates, companies require innovation at a much faster

Nuts & Bolts: Tech Talk

Rapid Search Solution Pleasanton, Calif.-based Mercado Software recently launched Mercado Base, a hosted search and navigation solution for small or emerging Internet retailers. Built on Mercado’s previous e-commerce search and navigation platform, Mercado Base provides linguistic capabilities and retail industry thesauri that allow retailers to quickly create searches without the need for labor-intensive “query-baking,” or requiring the search system to learn retail terms over time. The program’s reporting tools allow users to monitor and analyze search behavior, trends and specific e-commerce metrics such as searches that result in shoppers being directed to departments or product categories. Web: Executive Data View Trillium Software, a business of

Open Sesame

Is the following scenario familiar? You’re at the mailbox, pulling out mail, screening for what you’ll toss and what you’ll keep. A favorite catalog or a mailing from your daughter’s favorite retail store catches your eye. You set it aside to take a closer look. Then, the “moment of truth” arrives: You try to open the mail piece. But, alas! You hit a major sticking point—figuratively and literally. In the process of struggling to open the mailing that’s “stuck together,” you rip it. Now, the piece is damaged goods. It’s no longer as eye-catching. Its original intrigue is wearing thin. You also can’t easily read

Step Up Your Game

It isn’t difficult to make a case for e-mail testing. After all, when performed correctly, testing enables marketers to continuously develop and improve their e-mail programs and realize positive results. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see a 20 percent increase in your open rate by making small changes to an e-mail’s subject line. What is there not to like about that? Even though it is a critical component of e-mail, many marketers are uncertain about how to test properly. While most marketers perform some general types of tests, some make critical missteps in setting up their tests and evaluating results. Others have yet to