Lois Boyle-Brayfield

Lois Brayfield is CEO of Mission, Kan.-based direct marketing agency J. Schmid & Associates.

Products and services. That's what we sell. Every company has something to offer, whether it's a tangible good, training, technology, or financial products and services. As marketers, we are in the business of selling "things." But some of these products stand out because they provide the solutions to problems people need answered. They are your best-sellers. We hang the mantle of "hero" upon these products because they are not only profit generators, but also represent your biggest opportunities.

Your marketing efforts are under attack! They are costing more to produce and getting lackluster results, right? Your efforts must be stepped up in order to survive. In most cases, every marketing effort your company has produced could have been stronger, more strategic and garnered better results. Almost every time the culprit that keeps you from stellar results can point back to the kickoff meeting.

Brand is king in the realm of securing customers and creating loyalty, which can save your bottom line in this down economy. Brand goes far beyond logos and taglines—it lies within your customer’s perception of your product or service. Whether you are aware of it or managing it, every point of contact with the customer defines and reinforces your brand—from the way you answer the phones, to the appearance and manner of your sales force, to the cover of your catalog and the landing page of your Web site.

The importance of headlines cannot be underestimated. They are a critical part of the success of a campaign, the most important copy in the entire piece and often, they're written last—almost as an afterthought. The headline is more likely to be read than any other copy in your marketing materials, so don't waste the opportunity to make it as powerful as possible. How compelling are your headlines? Understanding some general rules will help you create headlines that truly help sell your product or service.

By Lois Boyle and Steve Trollinger Last month we discussed five major pitfalls for catalog marketers, the problems that arise if your catalog business stumbles into any one of them, and how they can be avoided. This month we pose several questions focusing on five pitfalls and how they relate to the catalog core competencies of merchandising, creative and marketing. Ask these questions of your own catalog. As a refresher, the five pitfalls are: - No obvious road map—having no long-term plan for marketing or financial performance. - Lack of systems/controls—not having the systems to effectively execute the direct

By Lois Boyle and Steve Trollinger Are you avoiding these common pitfalls? What a ride small catalogers have had in the last two years! For those of you still around, you know what we're talking about. Competing with the "big guys" has become tougher than ever. Smaller budgets, limited resources, higher costs to mail and a weak economy all have contributed to a tough, competitive outlook. It's the small catalogers with systems in place that allow them to manage adversities that are riding out the storm. In this two-part series, we first will outline the pitfalls trapping small

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