Direct Mail for Local Businesses

Targeted Local Direct MailThe US Postal Service recently announced a proposed price increase for postage that will likely be instituted in January of 2018.  As I often do when such announcements are made, I have suggested that those companies that are on the fence about direct mail take the opportunity NOW to test the medium and see whether it is an option for them to incorporate into their marketing mix.

Lots of local business dismiss direct mail because they think it's too expensive or because they don't know how to target the "perfect" audience using the mail.  The reality is that direct mail can be a cost-effective method of reaching new prospects; businesses can use direct mail to announce sales and specials, drive traffic to the business, or simply just to "remind" local consumers that they are present and available.

Local direct mail can be geo-targeted. Businesses identify an area that they want to mail to, where they know many of their customers live.  A restaurant may want to specifically target people who live within walking distance; a lawn company may select a neighborhood where they have a few homes they care for, but they could use a few more to keep a crew there for a full day; a pizza parlor may want to reach just those people in their delivery area with weeknight delivery specials; and the list goes on.

So, where do you start?

EDDM

The US Postal Service offers a program call Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). EDDM allows businesses to select geography based on carrier routes.  Although this is a great option for many businesses, there are some limitations with the program; using the retail tool, a business can't drop more than 5,000 pieces a day, and the pieces must be over-sized.  Since it can cost more to print a larger piece, businesses often cut corners on the quality, using lighter stock or printing in black only.  Additionally, pieces are not printed with the name of the resident, so it is obvious that everyone got that "special invite".  More importantly, the carrier route cannot be broken down.  Some businesses (those who need single family homes vs. apartment homes, for example) find themselves wasting money on printing and postage expenses to mail to consumers that could never use their services.

Need More Targeting?

Another option is StreetSmart, TMR's proprietary program which allows businesses to identify specific areas that they want to target.  With StreetSmart, businesses can select those geographic areas which are PERFECT for their mailing, and, where it is known, the name of the recipient is printed on the piece.  Standard letter sized pieces can be created, saving additional expense on the printing.

For help creating a local direct mail plan for your small business, please email Larissa Hansen!

By |October 20th, 2017|mail direct|Comments Off on Direct Mail for Local Businesses

Social Media Marketing: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

When I hear people debate the ROI of social media, it makes me remember why so many businesses fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon; they're playing the sprint. They're not worried about lifetime value and retention. They're worried about short-term goals.

~Gary Vaynerchuk

This quote by Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia, a full-service digital agency servicing Fortune 500 clients from 4 locations in the US and London, speaks volumes.

It’s one thing to question whether social media as you are deploying it or using it is working for you.  We encourage you to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy and tactics.  But the fact is that social media works…

When deployed properly, social media:

  • expands brand recognition
  • keeps companies top of mind for referrals and periodic business
  • connects companies with the people who buy their products
  • encourages interaction
  • creates a dynamic, two way relationship

Businesses that discount the power of social media marketing are, as my mother used to say, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Rather than evaluate and adjust, they assume it just won’t work for them, and they dismiss it entirely.

Here are a just few facts reported by Pew Research:

  • 68% of US adults, and 79% of US internet users are on Facebook
  • 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform
  • 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day
  • There are more than 65 million business pages on Facebook
  • 72% of Pinterest users use the platform to determine what to buy offline
  • YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the US
  • The number of businesses actively advertising monthly on Instagram increased from 200,000 to over 1 million in less than a year

The fact is that people – your customers and future customers – use social media.  It’s where they are.  And with the right strategy, you can reach them there to begin the process of developing a relationship that encourages loyalty to you and your brand.

So if you are one of those who believes that social media is not the answer for your business, what should you look at?  Here are 4 areas that you should be sure to consider:

1. Platform

Not all social media platforms are alike. Each caters to a unique set of demographics and each is used differently by the consumer.  Figure out who your audience is and where they spend their time, and then develop a plan specifically for that platform.  Take into consideration how people use it: are they on multiple times a day, once a day or just a few times a week?; do they want to see pictures, watch videos or read articles?; are they looking for resources or inspiration?  Cater your message to your audience based on the audience and the platform and you will have better luck engaging them.

2. Content

Is the content that you are posting relevant to the consumer that you are trying to reach? If not, they won’t be compelled to engage with your posts.

Remember, you are not always your target audience.  I once had a discussion with a business owner who was a 20 something male.  His target audience for the campaign we were designing was grandmothers.  When we showed him the creative, he told me that he wasn’t a fan, because “the piece just didn’t speak to him”.  I asked him to show it to women who met his demographic profile, and lo and behold, they liked it!

Content also needs to be high quality. Typos, poor quality images, lack of direction, or anything else that conveys a lack of professionalism will just serve to distract and deter customers and potential customers.  Even though it is on the fly and immediate, you can’t afford to skip over the thought and effort (and, yes, time!) that should go into the post.  Yes, other people post typos and use abbreviations.  But companies should be sure that they are communicating professionalism in their posts.  Period.

3. Frequency

Frequency of posts should be determined by the media platform that you have selected and how people use it (see #1!) Do NOT base frequency on how often you have time, how much quality content you can develop, or anything else.

If you are managing your own social media marketing and you have a smaller staff, it is very easy to get off track during your busiest times.  But since your busy times are when your customers are most likely to be thinking of you, it’s really the ideal time to post. Consider outsourcing some or all of your social media at least during your heaviest sales times to ensure that you can keep up with it, or you run the risk of falling out of favor with your fans.

On the flip side, many businesses attempt to post too often, which can also turn off consumers (again, see #1!)  Posting too often can turn consumers off.  On some media platforms, even those that are “daily visit”, some companies see their best results 2-3 times a week or even weekly.

4. Evaluate

This is the step that we see MANY "do it yourselfers" skipping over. To build an effective program, you must evaluate each post, looking at when and what you posted, and test variations.

Just like with other aspects of your business, it is necessary to make adjustments.  What works for some (companies, industries, social media platforms) won’t work for all. Test, learn and make adjustments. ALWAYS.

Social media marketing can be very effective if deployed conscientiously and properly! Discounting and dismissing it as a powerful tool is short-sighted and could potentially damage your business in the long run!

Larissa Hansen is a marketing and communications consultant, and founder/CEO of Springfield Illinois based Targeted Marketing Resources.  She spends her days (and often nights!) figuring out how to help companies connect with their customers both online and off.  Her passion is helping businesses grow!  

By |July 13th, 2017|get social|Comments Off on Social Media Marketing: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater

Email marketing DOs and DON’Ts

emailEmail marketing can be a powerful tool if implemented properly.  We monitor mail coming in from other organizations and are often shocked by what we see.  We noted a couple of emails lately from large companies, and thought these tips were timely reminders!

Don’t…

  1. Just add people because you have their email address
  2. Send emails directly from your Internet Service Provider or Outlook
  3. Share all of your email addresses with your recipients
  4. Use your home or personal email address to send emails
  5. Get upset by opt-outs
  6. Worry only about quantity of opt-ins

Do…

  1. Welcome people (let them know you will be emailing to them) and communicate regularly
  2. Consider using an Email Service Provider
  3. Proactively collect email addresses
  4. Budget time to:
    • Create a strategy…what do you want your emails to “do” for you? Create interest? Drive website traffic?
    • Create a plan (that you can stick to)
    • Properly develop and deploy content
    • Analyze results
  5. Use correct punctuation and grammar
  6. Use your logo and other branding tools to help increase your open rate
  7. Test the day and time that you send your emails

Remember, the goal is interaction (of some kind) so in order to measure that, you need some kind of system in place.

These tips were created by Targeted Marketing Resources, a marketing consulting and deployment company based in Springfield IL.  Please do not distribute them or share them without approval from TMR.

By |June 15th, 2017|email marketing, strategize|Comments Off on Email marketing DOs and DON’Ts

Protect your Marketing Assets!

This article struck a chord with me for a lot of reasons.  I have also sat through countless meetings and wasted hours of time trying to help clients recover their marketing assets.

Does an employee manage your Facebook page? What happens when they leave? What if they become disgruntled? At best your page looks stale and unmaintained.  At worst, comments are made that you can't delete, edit or respond to.

Don't have time for Constant Contact so a volunteer helps? What if they take a job? You could lose every template, every email address, every list and segmentation, every image and logo.  Every bit of your email marketing history gone.

Require your vendors, employees and volunteers to maintain password lists and documentation and update periodically.  Check on them.  Log in to Facebook and be sure that you are an administrator.  Download email lists. Have your company listed as the owner of a domain name.

Don't leave yourself unprotected...

By |July 22nd, 2016|strategize|Comments Off on Protect your Marketing Assets!

Is Content Marketing for YOU?

Content marketing is the practice of marketing a business by establishing the business as an expert and reliable resource to solve a problem.  According to Bruce Rogers, Chief Insight Officer at Forbes and one of the world’s foremost authorities on thought leadership, “Content marketing can be defined as the creation and distribution of meaningful insights, perspectives, and best practices that are valuable to a specific audience. The aim is to retain existing clients including doing more business with them and to attract new high-quality clients.”   Content can be distributed through a variety of online and offline media.

Content marketing represents a shift in power in the buyer/seller relationship.  The buyer has control of content it receives and selects companies and products based on relationship.  A recent study by Axxon Media indicated that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads.  Customers want to be able to conduct research on their own, and select resource providers that have proven reliable, knowledgeable and  capable.

Where does that leave the business?  They need to be able to develop a reputation, across whatever channel their buyer is likely to use, of becoming a trusted advisor.  Understanding their customers pain points, relating to the issues that might inspire a customer to use their service or product, and providing value helps to build a relationship over time.  Companies should develop and distribute content that will attract, capture, nurture, convert and expand its audience over time.

One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is its leveling nature.  Small businesses can compete with larger competitors by establishing a professional presence in the marketplace.  Customers are less likely to buy from a larger company solely based on its size.  It’s the relationship that matters, and smaller organizations are inherently better at building and maintaining solid relationships than large ones.

The development of the content is important too…and larger companies are simply not as effective at it as smaller ones.  According to a study by Gleanster Research, midsize to large B2B organizations waste an estimated $958 million each year in inefficient and ineffective content marketing spend.  Waste comes from failure to meet task deadlines, redundant content creation, and coordinating the people contributing to and reviewing content.

That’s not to say that small companies can’t grow to become large ones through the use of content marketing.  As a business grows based on relationships and using content marketing techniques, the process becomes central to the infrastructure of the business, so as long as content marketing is utilized properly as a company grows, it is able to remain competitive and attract even more business.

There are still issues facing organizations who want to implement a content marketing program.  According to the 2014 Benchmark report on Content Marketing in the B2B space, B2B marketers cite lack of time (69%), producing enough content (55%) and producing the kind of content that engages (47%) as their top three marketing content challenges.  These are significant issues and many companies struggle with workflow that content marketing requires.

Additionally, many companies fail to recognize content marketing for what it is, and therefore don’t adequately plan for or analyze results of efforts as they would for other marketing programs.

A detailed and well designed plan, commitment from all levels of the organization, and the establishment of accurate analytical benchmarks allowing for adjustments and tweaks to the plan can resolve many of the issues that companies may run into as they venture into the world of content marketing. It’s important to also allow for educational time, and ongoing research, as the marketplace is shifting at a rapid pace.

For more help in developing a content marketing plan for your business, or to determine if one is right for your needs, contact us!

By |August 18th, 2015|blogging, get social, strategize|Comments Off on Is Content Marketing for YOU?