More Than Just an Email

email tabletRecently, I received a couple of unrelated emails that contained great content.  One email was from a promotions vendor and they were promoting a sell on a cool promotional item.  The other was an email for a local advertising agency that contained some excellent content.  When I read the emails, I immediately wanted to share the information on Twitter and Pinterest.  The problem was the emails didn’t have a “share” link and I couldn’t find a webpage or blog post dedicated to it.

Positive Take Aways

I know hindsight is 20/20, but here are some points that got me thinking after reading these two emails.

Measuring Success

Measuring TapeOdds are, these two companies are measuring success by open rate.  Though this is a good metric, it shouldn’t be the only one.  Others to consider are:

  • Sales Conversion
  • Building a Prospect List
  • Click-Through Rate

Of course the first metric, sales conversion, is the Holy Grail of measuring success, but the other two are just as important.  One way to help improve sales conversion in the long run is to track the other two metrics.

Building a prospect list allows you to eventually convert a lead into a sale.  The click-through rate shows how engaging your email message is.  Depending on your tactic and overall goal of your email strategy, this can be a source of information with regard to what gets your customers to act.

Most third party email marketing providers (i.e. Constant Contact and Emma) measures your click-through rate and gives advice as to how to effectively build a prospecting list.

Online Content

Have you ever considered blogging your email content?  For many businesses that consistently sendkk newsletters to an audience, this is an easy transition.  Even if your business doesn’t produce a newsletter, consider blogging what you currently send.  Depending on the size and consistency of your email content, this too can be an easy process.  But be careful, no one wants to keep reading about advertisements on a blog.

When creating an email message that will translate to a blog post, keep these three points in mind:

  1. Tell a story, but cut the fluff
  2. If the message is too long in an email, add a “read more…” link
  3. Make sure you focus on your audience and not your ego

Getting a wider reach

A big positive about converting your email content into blog content is the opportunity of gaining a new audience.

Real Life Example: Live on Location

wbir4During the fall of 2014, my company, a local community bank, hosted a fundraiser tied to a high school football game.  The high school football game is played every year and each high school participates in a food drive for a local food bank, the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.  To help support the fundraiser, we hosted a tailgate themed event at our bank office.  We emailed our customers to let them know about the event and sent a press release out to local media.  Since written content had already been created, I was able to take the press release/email and convert the text into a blog post.  Once the blog post was created, a few tweets were sent out on twitter about our fundraising event.  Our local NBC affiliate, WBIR, was actually going to broadcast the football game and one of their news anchors, retweeted the message.  Word spread and WBIR broadcasted live on location during their Live at Five at Four program. The event raised roughly the equivalent to 3,760 pounds of food for the Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County.

Share it

So if you have news you are communicating to your current customers, and think others will benefit from it, then share it.  That benefit can open the door to opportunities that were not possible before you started sharing.

Direct Mail: SMH

confusedA coworker recently gave me a copy of what a competitor sent his spouse in the mail.  To say the least, we had a good laugh after looking at the business card and the four pages of inconsistent sales pitches.

Beyond the laughter, it did get me thinking about direct mail marketing.

What is successful direct mail marketing?

Yes, there is a level of target marketing that goes with it, but when you move past creating a mailing list, what can be done to improve the message?

Consistency

TargetsBe consistent not just with your message, but how the overall presentation looks.  For example, a four page direct mail piece should be printed on the same printer instead of having two of the four pages were printed in color, while the other two pages, which should be printed in full color, are printed on a black and white printer.

Here are other points to consider in consistency.

  • Branding: It may sound silly, but if a direct mail piece doesn’t look and feel like it came from your company, then you need to go back to the drawing board. The before mentioned direct mail piece had 2 distinctly different bank logos for the same bank.  Two logos!
  • One Messenger: The competitor’s letter had a business card from a sales rep, an introductory letter from a Vice President and an additional sales letter from an Executive Vice President.  Why not create one piece that contains one contact person?  That way there is one point person who can help measure the success of the mail campaign.

Relevance

RelevanceIf you have done all the work narrowing down a target market for your direct mail, you should make sure sure the mail piece is relevant to your target market.

Signatures Count

When you are sending a letter as a direct mail piece, the signature is an important part of the letter.  A proper signature ends the letter on a good note and adds a level of humanity to the advertisement.

  • Lose the Top Executives: Unless your CEO or top executives lives in the community, chances are people don’t care if they sign a direct mail piece.  Forget the CEO and executives and use your local senior staff member.  That way people can relate to them and put a face to the name and, more importantly, to the business.
  • Real Signature: A low quality digital copy of a signature doesn’t cut it anymore.  It looks cheap and gives the wrong impression.  If your direct mail piece is a formal letter, then it needs to include a real signature. It’s proof that you took the time to at least sign it and shows a good attention to detail.

Clear Call to Action

A direct mail piece should grab the readers attention quickly and have a call to action that is easy to understand.

  • Simplify the Message: If it takes more than two pages to explain your message, then there’s a problem.  Keep it simple and quickly explain the message.
  • Spell out the Call to Action: A direct mail piece should not only sale a product or service, but also needs to let the reader know how to purchase the product or service.  Clearly state who to contact and how to contact them.

In closing, remember, a little extra planning and proper execution can go a long way.

Have you ever received a direct mail piece you really liked? What did you like about it?

Marketing Recipe

chili ingredientsFor the past few months, I have been soaking up different types of chili.

It started on Sunday November 3rd, when my son Max and I attended our first chili cook off together to help support Second Harvest Food Bank.  The fun continued in December when my wife Jennifer and I all attended a chili cook off in Lenoir City.  During New Year’s Eve, my friend Joel (a.k.a. Home Cookin’ Hunter) served up some venison chili cheese dip.  And with the cold weather we have been experiencing, I’ve been cooking some of my own chili.

All this chili got me thinking how marketing and chili are very similar.

An effective marketing strategy is not a one shot deal; rather an effective marketing strategy is the efforts of several actions focused on one goal.  Just like a good chili isn’t just one ingredient, but several ingredients.

Know who you’re cooking for (Target Audience)

Fire ChiliI have a friend that always makes really spicy chili; no matter what.  It’s so hot I worry when he has children that their taste buds will be scorched beyond repair.

In marketing, it’s no different.  If you want to attract a certain audience, be sure to sale to that certain audience.

The Office Manager Incident

In 2007, the bank I worked for launched a new Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) service.  This service allows business to deposit checks at work by using a scanner.  After doing our research we created a target market based on different local business owners in a variety of industries.  To market and sell the service, I would conduct a joint call with the bank’s commercial lenders and, before the call, would confirm with the commercial lender that we would be speaking with the business owner.  Since the business owner was THE decision maker, it only made sense to meet with them and discuss the benefits of the service.

One afternoon, I went on a sales call with a commercial lender who waited until we reached our destination to inform me that the office manager, not the business owner, would be meeting with us.  The commercial lender pointed out it was too late to reschedule and that it, “didn’t make that much of a difference.”

After presenting the service to the office manager, she said she would not recommend this to the business owner because it would reduce the time she would be out of the office.  In other words, it wouldn’t justify her two and a half hour paid lunch.

So know who you’re cooking for, or you both may end up getting scorched.

Know Your Ingredients (Marketing Channels)

spicy pepperBefore adding too much spice to a chili, be sure to know the effect it will have.  Some peppers have spice that will hit you up front, while other peppers have a back end heat.  I learned this the hard way with my very first batch of chili.

When marketing to your customers, make sure you use the right tools to reach them.

The Health Savings Account Issue

In 2005, the bank I worked for put together a team to create a Health Savings Account (H.S.A.) product.  It made since because the bank also had an insurance agency and we could create a referral system between the bank and the insurance agency.  While putting together our advertising campaign, a Senior VP and our ad agency decided it would be “fun” to create promotional buttons that our tellers would wear that said, “Ask me about H.S.A.”  When I questioned them about it, I was out voted and told not to worry because it would bring in a lot of referrals.

Did it bring in a lot of referrals?  No.

Why?  Because an H.S.A. is a specialized product that can only be used if you have a High Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP).  During that time, the majority of people did not have an HDHP Insurance plan.  The bank wasted money we could have used somewhere else.

So know what ingredients you use, or you may end up getting scorched.

Have you created a great chili or marketing campaign you’re willing to share?

On a side note, check out the Home Cookin’ Hunter on facebook.

New Customers vs Top Customers

While walking into the gym the other day, I noticed a new advertisement:

Join Us New CustomerGyms are notorious for offering crazy discounts for new customers, especially during January.  Truth is, they are not the only industry guilty of this.  Shoot, I’m in banking, which is also an industry known for giving things away to new customers.  When I first started in banking, people kept asking me when we will be giving away free toasters.

But instead of wasting time, money and other resources on non-customers, why not focus on your customers? If something is in it for your current customer, then they will do most of the marketing for you.  For example, if my gym offered a rewards or referral campaign, then I would most likely refer people.  Why?  Because at that point, there is something in it for me.  That may sound selfish, but it’s human nature.

When you build a campaign around your current customers, it can also benefit your business. How?  Think about the tools you use for marketing.

  • Direct Mail: Believe it or not, direct mail is still out there.  Think of the list time you purchased a mailing list.  If you already have a customer data base, that’s money you are already saving.
  • Email Marketing: Creating an opt-in marketing list is a great way to make sure you stay in contact with your customers.  The best part is, you can get the email at the beginning of the relationship when you are collecting the rest of the customer’s information.
  • Branding: Not necessary a physical tool, but it takes time to build a brand.  Your current customers have already established a connection to your brand, so you can cut back on the “Honeymoon” phase (along with the Honeymoon cost).

So when creating a campaign start by focusing on your customers.  Here is a quick way to remember to keep your customers in focus.  It’s easy as A-B-C and 1-2-3.

abcLearn your ABCs

Segment your customers into three groups: A, B, and C

  • A Customers: These are your top customers.  They’re your most profitable customers, they bring you all their business and refer their friends.
  • B Customers: A list that consist of customers who are just barely outside the “A” bubble.  They may refer you customers, but you may not have all their business.
  • C Customers: People who take up all your time, complainers who cost your company money, etc.  You know who I’m talking about…

123Create your 123s

Create a three point plan for each group, or at the very least, for your A Customers. Here’s a quick 123 example using the A Customer list.

  1. Find out what your A customers think about you and promote it throughout your company.
  2. Get the A customers to recommend you.
  3. Reward your A customers.

From there, you build action plans and marketing campaigns based on each number.

So when creating a campaign, ask yourself: What’s in it for your current customer?  If you have a clear answer, then you are going in the right direction.  If your answer is lacking clarity, then you may want to go back to your A-B-Cs and 1-2-3s.

By the way don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset with my gym as a customer; I’m upset with them as a marketer 🙂

What experience have you had with businesses who offer special incentives for new customers?  If you are the new customer, do you stay around after the special incentive ends or do you switch companies?

What if you are already an established customer with a business and you see they are advertising a special for new customers; does it bother you?  Do you stay with the company or do you take your business elsewhere?

Marketing Campaigns: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

A few weeks ago I met with a business acquaintance for a cup of coffee.  While talking, we stared brainstorming and drafting a marketing campaign.   Our overall focus was around three components: vision, passion and execution.  When thinking about each stage, I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Wizard of Oz.  Growing up, my elementary school made us watch this every year, so the characters are deeply embedded in my mind.  In fact, it’s one of only a handful of musicals I enjoy watching.  With that in mind, here are three fun comparisons.

Vision: The ScareScarecrowcrow
Vision requires a sense of understanding.  What do you want to accomplish?  How do you want it accomplished?  In other words, use your brain.  Throughout the movie, the Scarecrow’s key objective was to get a brain.  That was his goal, he had a vision of how different his life would be with a brain.  Little did the Scarecrow realize that he came up with several great ideas throughout the entire journey.

Tin ManPassion: The Tin Man
The best planning in the world means nothing without “heart.”  Passion is what truly keeps any marketing campaign alive and pumping.  Without passion, the most creative campaign will fall flat and be a major disaster.  The Tin Man may not have had a physical heart, but he had the mentality of a compassionate person.  His dedication and passion to the team and the goals of reaching the Emerald City is truly unique.

Execution: The Lion
Moving a campaign from paper to live action isn’t easy.  Face it, not everyone will like the plan and not everyone will like the campaign.  There will be questions from people and possibly doubts from co-workers.  Executing a well thought out marketing campaign requires a strong level of self-confidence and courage.  If someone who presents a marketing campaign shows no self-confidence or courage, how can they convince others that the campaign will work?  When we first meet The Lion, he was a coward.  He had no self-confidence and is a broken animal.  His self-confidence grows throughout the story and he becomes an individual with great courage.

Following these three steps may not immediately make someone a marketing wizard, but it is a start down a successful road.

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