June 2007 Issue


B-to-B Insights: What Are We Doing Here? (Part One)

Regular readers of this column may be surprised to learn that, although I’ve spent my entire career in marketing, I didn’t start out in B-to-B direct marketing. Yes, Russell Kern got his feet wet as a general advertising account guy! And you know what? I’m glad I did. Experience in the general advertising world has equipped me—and, by extension, The Kern Organization—­­to better balance the requirements of direct marketing with those of branding on behalf of our clients. But when it came to my own career choice, I found the requirements of B-to-B direct marketing to be considerably more interesting, more stimulating and ultimately more

B-to-B: On the Right Track

The most basic form of response tracking requires direct marketers to determine which promotions generate the most sales, orders or inquiries for lead generation. Tracking activity to the promotion that generated it has always been a challenge, especially for B-to-B marketers. The number and complexity of those challenges keeps increasing, but the payback is becoming even more attractive as the latest postage increase makes B-to-B print materials more costly. Fortunately, there are many options B-to-B marketers can use to gain insight into how different promotions perform. A Complex Process Business buyers range from purchasing agents at extremely large technical companies who place orders

Creative Travels

When you think of the National Geographic Society, you may envision the iconic yellow-bordered magazine that you sneaked peeks at as a kid in hopes of catching a glimpse of naked tribespeople. But while the photo-packed magazine is a big part of what the nonprofit organization does, there’s so much more to it than that. The National Geographic Society is a Washington, D.C.-based membership organization that offers not one, but five magazines, as well as books, DVDs, TV programs, educational courses, webcasts, museum exhibitions, concerts, lectures, film screenings and even the National Geographic Bee, a geographic version of the old-fashioned spelling bee. While its vision

E-Commerce Link: Keepin’ It Optimized

Last October, Google brought Web site testing to the masses with the launch of Google Website Optimizer, a free tool that enables marketers to test and optimize their online campaigns. If you haven’t started testing your site already, it’s time to take advantage of this no-cost option. To get you off to a successful beginning, I’m going to share a few things I’ve learned over the past nine years. In particular, the factors that determine your online success fall into three categories: confidence and intent; the personal experience factor (PEF); and environmental and conditional factors. Confidence and Intent This group of factors comes into play before a

E-commerce: Roll Out the Red Carpet

The idea that word of mouth helps sell products and services isn’t new. Asking a neighbor, friend or colleague how they like their new car or new wireless service provider is standard party or office cooler conversation. But as the online environment enters a new phase of maturity in the consumer’s life (some call it Web 2.0 or even 3.0), marketers have learned that they can leverage this social connectivity to enhance their audience’s experience, glean consumer feedback and even boost sales. Although customer reviews and comments have been appearing on some Web sites for as long as eight years, consumer-generated content still is

Editor’s Notes: Who Inspires You?

In less than a month, the editorial team and I will begin the challenging but wholly rewarding task of reviewing nominations for our annual Direct Marketer of the Year Award. The challenging part is selecting just one individual to recognize for his or her achievements in the field. But the reward, which makes the hard labor and agonizing over candidates completely worthwhile, is that we get the opportunity to learn about the fascinating work being conducted by numerous direct marketers. For example, last year’s winner was Margaret Carter, who heads up the American Red Cross’ direct response fundraising unit. She led her unit in a

Famous Last Words: Spin-marketing

A world-class Belgian restaurant, ZoT, opened 11⁄2 blocks from my 1817 Philadelphia row house. The Bombay Sapphire martinis (shaken not stirred), endive salad, frites and 29 recipes for steamed mussels are to die for. At ZoT, my wife, Peggy, and I ordered sparkling water, and out came the damnedest designer bottle I have ever seen containing VOSS Artesian Water from Norway. Sometimes I grab a bottle of water in the airport or train station and when I go to twist the cap off, I notice the stuff comes from Fiji. Why am I buying water from a source 12,000 miles away? Or from Evian, which is

Market Focus: Professional Photographers

Professional photographers are a mysterious bunch: No one knows exactly how many there are (estimates range from 34,000 to 200,000); they’re both creatives and businesspeople; and they buy everything from the expected photography equipment to museum passes and cruise trips. But what’s not so mysterious about them is that they’re a great market: They’re educated, affluent, open to marketing and interested in all kinds of out-of-category products and services. Getting a Picture of the Market It’s difficult to precisely determine how many professional photographers are in the United States because many of them don’t register their businesses. Also, there’s the question of what makes a professional

Nuts&Bolts: 5-minute Interview With National Wildlife Federation’s Anne Senft

With the online environment morphing at light speed, direct mail may seem like a stable but stagnant channel. But that’s certainly not the case for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), a Reston, Va.-based nonprofit whose mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for future generations. Anne Senft, senior director of membership marketing at the nonprofit, recently took a break from her busy schedule to explain the effect consumer trends have had on NWF’s copy, design and overall messaging strategies. Target Marketing: What key consumer factors have shaped your direct mail program recently? Anne Senft: The one that’s making us nervous is the aging of the

Nuts&Bolts: Book Club

The direct marketing industry would be wise to place Jeanne S. Jennings’ “The Email Marketing Kit” (SitePoint Pty., $197) in the top nightstand drawer of every hotel room on the trade-show circuit. It’s a comprehensive primer for the e-mail marketing novice and a reference tome worth its weight for the seasoned professional—in other words, a newly minted guide to a complex e-universe for the devout marketer. Organized into detailed (and conveniently tabbed) chapters, the kit not only explains the hows and whys of e-mail marketing for the beginner, but it also touches on intermediate disciplines such as viral marketing as well as more advanced CRM

Nuts&Bolts: Fast Facts

Quarterly analysis of direct mail offers from magazine and newsletter publishers over the last two years exhibits a distinctive pattern of rising premium use from quarter to quarter within a year. But the last quarter of 2006 produced a small hiccup in this trend, with usage dropping a little more than two percentage points when compared to third-quarter penetration, according to the Who’s Mailing What! Archive, a direct mail research service offered by Target Marketing’s sister publication, Inside Direct Mail. This slight drop-off also represents another change in pattern: Where 2006 premium usage levels for publishers consistently beat 2005 rates by at least four points,

Nuts&Bolts: Global Update

Unique names. Fresh lists. Prospect lists are a basic need in direct marketing. We need them to maintain our customer base and to fuel expansion, whether into new markets or more deeply into a current market. Because of our niche markets, WorldVu, a publisher of business reference material in international addressing and country information, always has built in-house lists to supplement its list-rental efforts. Approximately 25 percent of our customers reside outside the United States, so we mail to both domestic and international lists. However, we’re having a difficult time finding rental lists that meet our profile for a variety of reasons: some lists are

Special Report: Driving Innovation

Direct mail is marketing’s workhorse for a reason. It’s resolute and reliable, even in the face of challenge. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) “2006 Response Rate Trends Report,” the medium produces the second highest response rates (behind catalogs) for marketers seeking to solicit direct-order sales or motivate customers to make a charitable contribution. So how does one of the oldest marketing mediums stay effective and relevant despite intense competition? For this special report on production and paper, we asked some of the best and brightest minds in the direct mail business to share their opinions on the trends driving innovation in the

Special Report: Less Envelope, More Response

Less may be more—at least when it comes to outer envelopes, suggests Michelle Rudiman, director of marketing for design software solution provider Autodesk. The company put this theory to the test during a direct mail campaign in September 2005, replacing the standard back panel on 83⁄4˝ x 111⁄2˝ envelopes with an oversized poly window, 7˝ x 91⁄2˝ in size. The campaign was designed to boost awareness and use of Autodesk’s e-Learning resources among subscription customers, primarily engineering designers and architects. E-Learning is a set of online tutorials that helps users improve their proficiency with Autodesk software. Autodesk historically had communicated with its subscription customers via

Special Report: Paper and Production

This special report bears the moniker of “Printing and Production,” but in all honesty, it’s missing a third “P” for postal. Every discussion of direct mail production for this editorial section either started with or came around to the topic of the recently implemented rate case and the way it’s affecting campaigns. Given some of the drastic changes to postage based on shape, marketers and their mailing services partners have good reason to zero in on these developments. But not every marketer is heading for the online hills or abandoning large-format controls in favor of letter-size mail. In this report’s main story, “Driving Innovation,” freelance

Special Report: The Shape of Things to Come

As I write this, it’s a week before the May 14 implementation date for the majority of the rate increases and mail prep changes associated with the 2007 postal rate case. And while mailers are focusing their attention on these current challenges, they just might get caught looking the wrong way as the bigger postal picture gets tuned. The hard work of mapping out the new structure for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its customers is just starting, says Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that represents marketers on postal policy and legislative issues. Target Marketing spoke with