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How an envelope creates a first impression for your promotion…

the same way clothes create a first impression for you.

Everyone likes a bit of respect now and then. If you are leaning toward your first direct mail program in quite some time or are a regular user of direct mail, envelopes are a great option. For some unknown, envelopes get no respect.

From a practical point of view, an envelope is simply a container. It holds your letter, invitation, and other printed matter so they can be delivered to the recipient. Upon arrival, it is torn open and discarded. So, what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that an envelope is far more than a container. It creates a first impression and carries the burden of making sure the contents are read. If the envelope fails to create the right impression, the envelope is not opened and with its contents, discarded. The entire direct mail package, including your carefully crafted sales literature, is thrown into the trash.

Give your envelopes the respect they deserve!

An envelope creates a first impression for your promotion the same way clothes create a first impression for you. It must conform to expectations, fit the occasion, and give people a reason to spend at least a few minutes with you so you can say what you should say. To conform to expectations, your direct mail piece should look like something your prospect would receive in the mail.

There are five basic types of mail:

advertising, publications, bills, personal or official communications and merchandise.

The default appearance is advertising, but the others can be useful. For example, if your company specializes in smart phones and you’ve just introduced an Internet service to avoid dropped calls, your prospects may assume any ad mailer from you is about phone services.

It may be better in this instance to make your mailer look like a publication or an official communication to allow your prospect to look at your mailer with an open mind.  Fitting the occasion is about making the envelope match the theme of your mailing. Is it an invitation, a notice, a personal letter, or something else?

If you’re selling smart phone accessories, you may frame your promotion around a dire warning about deleting the free introductory offer, so the envelope should look like an official notice. Your envelope should work with, not against, your theme.

To give people a reason to open the envelope and spend time with your envelope contents, you can use teaser copy or graphics to create curiosity. Copy as simple as “Look inside” or “Open immediately” may be all it takes.

We’ve seen a clear plastic envelope that allows people to see the contents. Enclosing a bulky item makes people wonder what’s inside. A valuable-looking certificate or gift card showing through a window makes the envelope impossible to ignore. The techniques are nearly endless.

The envelope is arguably the single most important part of your direct mail package. Give it the respect it deserves and spend plenty of time creating and designing the “package.” There are many new and different envelopes and designs made to entertain the reader. An entertained reader may very well be your next new customer.

The success of your mailing depends on it.

Let me know what you think.

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How to Break A Few Rules in Your Direct Marketing Copywriting…

using persuasive or direct response writing to get your copy read.

More than likely, your teachers drilled you on avoiding various “mistakes,” such as ending your sentences with prepositions.

These are valuable lessons. However, in the real world, people tend to respond to writing that is less formal and more like ordinary conversation. Being persuasive often means breaking a few rules such as:

Avoid anything that makes the eye stop.

Weird type or extreme letter spacing creates “fixations” where you don’t want them. This slows reading and interferes with comprehension.

On the other hand, you may want to make people pause for a split second on key words or an 800 number. Italics, underlines, bold, and large type will make the eye stop where you want it to.

Use fragments.

This adds excitement. Urgency. Keeps the pace brisk. Just don’t go overboard with fragments or you’ll risk sounding affected and artsy.

Use standard type and layouts.

That doesn’t sound very creative, but for easy reading you shouldn’t get too creative. In most cases, a simple Roman or serif typeface is best for body copy.

Roman typefaces have features that make them easier to recognize than sans serif or odd typefaces. In other words, the less attention you call to the type, the easier the copy is to read.

Keep sentences short.

A good school essay may benefit from complex sentence structure, but persuasive writing requires short, easy-to-read sentences. As a rule, the average sentence length should be 16 words with 32 words as the approximate upper limit. If you have long sentences, break them into two or more shorter ones

Speaking about short, try one-sentence paragraphs.

They stand out and add drama.

Begin sentences with conjunctions.

Words such as “and,” “also,” “besides,” “furthermore,” “but,” “however,” and “so” are frowned upon in standard written English. “But” they help you break long sentences into shorter ones to make your copy flow smoothly.

Use familiar expressions.

“A sure thing,” “awesome,” and “O.K.” are all familiar and informal. Contractions such as “they’re,” “you’re,” “it’s,” and “here’s” also give your writing a relaxed tone.

Be redundant.

A “free gift” is redundant, but far more powerful than just “gift.” “Call anytime 24-hours a day” says the same thing twice, but that’s okay be-cause you want to emphasize and clarify your meaning.

Let me know what you think.

Need more Direct Marketing Success?

The articles in each issue of Direct Marketing Success are ready to help you acquire new customers, and get your existing customers to buy more. To get your copy today, click here.

Thanks for reading. Any questions please post them below.

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 The BEST for your DIRECT MARKETING SUCCESS!!!

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Four Simple Steps to Sharpen Your Proofing Skills…

and keep your good reputation intact.

Your attention is to produce, print on paper and in digital, and publish absolute perfection. You’ve assembled a thought-provoking newsletter, maybe a sales letter, a clever infographic, or a great-looking white paper for content marketing at a trade show within the next month.

You’ve personally read it through a dozen times – just to be sure of your accuracy. And everyone in the office has read it at least once. So, you know it must be right.

But when your 5,000 copies come back from the printer, and you pull out your first piece from the carton, there it is. The headline at the top – the one you were so proud of: “HERE’S YOU FINAL CHANCE TO GET OUR NEW PRODUCT WITH FREE INSTALLATION!”

How could you have missed it? Just one letter, “R.” But it makes all the difference between ridicule and respect.

Mistakes, no matter how small, can soil your reputation.

The truth is, whenever you put anything in print or digital, your reputation is on the line. Not just errors involving pricing and numbers, but mistakes anywhere in your document or website, can have a negative effect on your bottom line – and your success.

“I used a spellchecker,” you say. So, I know it’s got to be perfect!” But, oh how wrong you are.

Sure, a spellchecker catches blatant spelling errors. But what about the time you typed form when you meant from? Or (as noted in our headline example) when you typed you when you meant your? The instead of theyOf instead of off?

So, start sharpening your proofreading skillset. Your computer just doesn’t know what your fingers forgot. It doesn’t know that you’ve typed the date of your next fundraising banquet as happening in Mar when you meant to type May.

And if you forgot to include the actual date or time of the event, or that all important phone number, your computer isn’t going to remind you (Yet)! Phone numbers, dates, times – no matter how much memory your computer has, it just can’t comprehend these kinds of misprints.

When you keep these four simple proofreading guidelines in mind, you’re on your way to producing perfect documents – every time.

Here are four simple steps to refine your proofreading.

  1. Give up your ego. NEVER assume you’ve caught everything. You haven’t. You’re too close to it. And everyone makes mistakes. Be willing to admit there may be some blunders in your final draft, or printer’s proof. Take criticism with grace. Realize that others comments, even if you disagree, will contribute valuable feedback that will eventually improve the overall quality of your work and save you embarrassment as well as the possible cost of re-printing.
  2. Image is everything. In the end when you put forth your best possible professional image, you will instill greater confidence in anyone who reads what you’ve written. The better the impression you make, the more you’ll appear to your audience, and the more success you’ll garner from your endeavor.
  3. Do it just one more time! In other words, double proof, triple proof, proof again… and proof one last time. In addition to someone who works with you, always try to have someone else proofread for you – someone has never read your document before and preferably someone who knows nothing about it. The idea is to get someone who can look at what you’ve written with a fresh, objective eye.
  4. Finally, neatness counts! As you proofread, you need to communicate the errors, omissions, and problems you discover. Use a good, thin, red pen or a sharp red pencil. Do not use a regular pencil, or a blue or black pen. They’re extremely difficult to see and read.

Be as utterly neat as you possibly can. Use sticky notes if they make things easier to follow. Be thoroughly clear and concise with any comments or queries.

Summary

Learn the standard Proofreaders’ Marks at Grammarly or do your own search. Mark changes in the margins as well as the text, so that the typist’s eyes are easily alerted.

Another how-to guide using direct marketing and mail for a #SmallBiz success during 2017. Sign up for more #SmallBiz success to receive our monthly email newsletter now!

Teaching and Coaching – It’s what I do.

Want to learn more about direct2customer marketing and how it can add customers to your QuickBooks?

I call this learning experience, “All Marketing is Direct to your Consumers.” I present my marketing methodology that I have used over my career. On the landing page, there is a (1)short, (2)medium and (3)large journey to take. There are many examples, ideas and techniques of the direct marketing to aide in your learning. To feel the full impact of this marketing methodology, take each journey in order. Start now by clicking on the Admit, Journey One. Then send me an email or call (800-251-3608) with your questions. Be sure to ask how to get your present marketing evaluated for free!

Check out are marketing evaluation program specifically designed for a small business.

Reach out now. New lower priced offers!

We’ll examine your present marketing, learn your goals and aspirations, and prepare a detailed report for your company based on your information.  Check it out today!

Thanks for reading. I hope to see you on a journey.

Mike Deuerling. aka: MarketingDoc

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There is one type of writing, which is about as long as the Great China Wall…

and is a wall of the worst kind in direct marketing.TheWall_Web

Pink Floyd sang about the wall. There was the Berlin Wall separating the German people, East vs. West. Then there is the wall of all walls, the Great Wall of China.

Then there is the headline of this post: wordy. I did leave a bit of doubt for the reader, so I hope you at least made it to this paragraph.

When you begin your next direct marketing message or mail project, unknowingly to you, your copywriting can greet a reader like a wall – a wall of type, that is.

As a copywriter, you work very hard to get prospects/customers to open your envelope – open your email – read a blog post. The best-written sales letter in the world falls flat – the email subject line is too long or the copy in the subject line is bland and not inviting the reader in.

Any copywriting that is full of uninteresting pages of near-solid type font – single spaced, with no space between paragraphs, and small margins left, right, top, and bottom. It becomes a wall of the worst kind. In fact, that’s like climbing a wall.

This wall doesn’t look friendly and it’s hard to read.

When you tear down the wall – that is – when you add white space, chop your message into shorter and indented paragraphs with added circles, arrows, underlines, handwritten marginal notes, and highlights in color – readership increases.

The use of “dynamic visual paragraphing” moves the readers’ eyes to the highlights of your offer. It creates inherent visual interest. It speeds the reader along. It helps them get to the point. The readers see the key points of your promotion and offer.

The paragraph may look busy. Some may even think it’s hokey or undignified. But it’s truly effective as a paragraph.

Good copywriting, a potent skill in this digital landscape, can move your direct marketing message up the line toward conversion by the reader of the copy.

The Traveling Wilburys wrote a song where the walls came tumbling down, somewhere in New Jersey. And the lead singer, is related to a Wallflower. Reading musical lyrics can add to your copywriting skill. Check a few out and let me know what you think.

Also, check out the Purdue Online Writing Lab, the Owl, quick pointers to help you out during the next copywriting project in direct marketing.

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At times, some of the smallest changes in your small biz marketing, have the greatest impact.

Need more information on direct and customer-centric marketing? Sign up today for our monthly email, All Marketing Is Direct. 

Or, grab a free copy of Direct Marketing Success today!

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© 2016 by the Marketing Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or reproduced in any way, including but not limited to digital copying and printing without the prior agreement and written permission of the publisher. Photographs are purchased from such companies as I-Stock, Windows Clip Art, HubSpot, PhotoPin, DepositPhotos, Solid Stock, Unsplash or John Deuerling.

 

 

 



How to Write Seven Types of Headlines That Sell

KnowledgeGood headlines are like money in the bank!

Headlines are vital to the success of any advertising, but it’s especially important for direct marketing.

When you see the word “headline” it’s not just meant for newspapers, direct mail or articles or a blog post like this one. Headlines are meant to gather attention and draw the reader into the content.

Headlines are ideal for an email subject line to draw your reader into additional content. In direct mail, it’s the hook that may lead immediately to an offer. Twitter may only allow you 140 characters to a Tweet, but a carefully worded headline can catch a reader’s eye and click on the link to investigate what’s in it for them.

When you use direct marketing in communications that are all digital, pay careful attention to the hook, a headline that is meant to create an action. After all, all marketing is direct!

If you’re not a professional copywriter, writing headlines can be hard work.

Fortunately, generations of copywriters have discovered formulas to make the job easier. Here are seven of those formulas which you can use to craft your own headlines even in the digital area.

1) Direct Headline – This is the simplest and easiest headline formula. You just make a direct statement about your product or offer.

twitter_logo_headerNo need for clever copy or wordplay. The only skill required is to know what you want to say and the ability to say it bluntly. Twitter, when used as a marketing tool, can help you get to the point. It’s a great place to test a headline.

Let’s say you are selling a new all-electric mulching lawn mower with an offer of 25% off to kick start a marketing campaign. A direct headline would be something like this: “A Mulching Lawnmower that needs no gas, is 25% OFF” It may not even occur to some people that something this simple could work as a headline, but it does the job. Or was it the curiosity that killed the cat?

2) Big Benefit Headline – Every product or service can tout a list of benefits. However, one benefit should stand above the rest.

Buying-USPThis is often called the USP or “unique selling proposition.” It’s the one thing that makes the product different. Check out our quick guide to build your own USP.

In case you haven’t noticed, smart phones are rapidly gaining a lot of eyeballs, some reports quoting, 67% when compared to other devices such as tablets and laptops.

So a big benefit headline might be “Finally! No more gas containers in your garage!”

3) News Headline – People are naturally curious and love news. By writing your headline in the form of a news announcement, you can create the same powerful appeal of the lead story online or in print.

Your product or offer doesn’t have to be “new” to qualify for a news headline. As long as it sounds new to your reader, it can work.

Let’s use the same battery powered Mulching Lawnmower as an example. A news headline for this product could be “Announcing “New battery technology to power all your garden tools!” You could also create news headlines with the words “At last,” “Introducing,” or “Now.”

4) How-To Headline – Most people want to improve themselves. By promising to show “how to” fill a need or satisfy a desire, you can easily generate interest in reading your sales copy.

The secret is to use the words “how to” and make the problem clear and the solution simple. In fact, the “how to” headlines capture a larger audience than most other types.

If your company sells work-at-home opportunities, your headline might be “How to make money freelancing just 3-to-4 hours a day on your computer.”

This headline uses the words “how to,” plus it promises to show people a way to make money without much effort doing what they enjoy.

5) Question Headline – Questions beg for answers, so they naturally create reader involvement. The trick is that your question must be asked in the right way.A_First_Impression

A question headline should lead to a “yes” answer or it must relate to a major benefit of your product.

Here’s a headline selling a self-help product that teaches English grammar to business people: “Do you make these 5 common mistakes in your memos?” For those needing this product, the question leads to a “yes” answer.

You could also write this headline to relate to a major benefit: “Why let poor grammar hold you back at work?” Here the question is rhetorical, but it leads readers into the copy which talks about the relationship between good communication skills and job advancement.

6) Command Headline – This headline formula is similar to the direct headline, except here you bark an order and tell your reader what to do.

If you’re selling a new kind of cordless vacuum cleaner, your headline could be “Clean your home in half the time with the new Whirlwind Sweeper, lightweight and no frustrating cord to deal with!”

This headline is not only direct, it also makes a promise and takes an assertive, active tone.

“Drive America’s most popular car.” “Grow your most beautiful garden ever.” “Get more clients for less money.” A command headline is one of the easiest headlines to write and lets you quickly convey your most important selling idea.

7) Testimonial Headline – You already know the power of an enthusiastic testimonial. By turning a testimonial into a headline, you can present a strong third-WhatOthersRSaying (1)-150x150party endorsement and generate high readership, since people are drawn to quotations.

“My Guardian security system stopped a burglar dead in his tracks!” This headline for a home alarm system mentions the product name, provides a strong benefit, and gives a convincing testimonial. Any good testimonial can be used in this way, giving you an easy and effective headline.

If you don’t have a real testimonial, you can also write a headline in the first person and add the quotation marks for effect.

The next time you start to search for ideas to build the next memorable headline, remember direct marketing is all about reading and quickly get to the point.

If you can get people to read your copy, you can get people to buy your products. However, to get people to read your copy, you must write strong headlines.

Please share with others, except of course, your competition.

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Need help? Just ask in the comments or email marketingdoc@live.com.

Marketingeval_logoV3Yes, I do love marketing. I love to share my marketing expertise as this blog will attest. The next time you get the so-so marketing results, THINK evaluate. Specifically, using our mcgMarketing-eVal. Don’t just investigate, eValuate! Great rates are now available.

Our marketing expertise will help to take the guesswork out of your marketing decisions. We have helped thousands of people to get better marketing results. Visit our website and follow my customer’s typical journey to success! Learn more today!

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Thinking About A New or Refurbished Content Marketing Program In 2016?

LinkedIn-Post-Nov20Here’s four ideas to think about adding to your content marketing.

News1. Why Content Marketing?

The work force of today needs information to help them do a better job at acquiring and keeping customers. Many companies are providing educational and instruction courses on and off line.

2. Do you provide products that YOU think are simply ready to install?

Though it may seem simple enough to install, has your engineering team created new features to enhance your products and services? Performance? Pricing? Being known as an industry solution provider is a great branding technique to share with anyone.

When providing good, educational and instructional content, for your products and services, readers have a place to turn to for help. Content marketing is a Contenttestament to the notion that people don’t want to be sold to — they want to be informed, empowered, engaged and always innovative.

Think about the sociological implications of content marketing. We all know the traditional methods of advertisements are aggressive. But not content. If content is not informational and educational, then it’s not content marketing.

3. Content marketing is far-reaching, enduring and beneficial.

As opposed to advertisements, and other types of promotions, content marketing is timeless. Content when published never goes away.

Innovation is a must have powerful tool to write about. Especially when it satisfy the needs and expectation of your customers. Not just on the engineering side, include marketing and sales. Innovation seems to occur more frequently when you have a mixed team, each one bringing their own thoughts for discussion.

Empowering your team to collaborate with customers to learn the ways they are using the product, is a great place to start, or if already in place, to write about.

The ability to reach a large audience with a quality piece of content can bring notoriety and kick up the company’s ROI a notch or two. When it comes down to it, content marketing is an effective and lasting way to reach potential customers without destroying the budget.

Brands4. Content marketing is an economical way of branding for your business.

Most companies use content marketing strategies because they wish to build a reputation for themselves which is not possible in any other way for a specialty business.

With the help of a good content marketing strategy, the readers your company reach, feel much better about who you are and about the facts related to your expertise.

On a tactical side of marketing, content marketing is a very good SEO tactic which helps to bring more traffic to your website. SEO experts love to use content marketing, because this is a good way they can attract targeted traffic to a website.

Strategy-WIn summary, strategic content marketing:

Provides timely and better content –

The writing exudes strong industry knowledge and innovation–

Your team uses analytics for measurement and relevancy.

What about gated content? There’s been much debate about this issue. If you do case studies with a lot of data or thinking about writing an eBook, you may want to share those first with your customers. Eventually test them with Call-to-Actions and landing pages. You’ll have your answer.

MediaCalendarFor additional ideas on content marketing, such as a media calendar and research ideas, please visit this post from November of this year.

If I can assist you in any of your direct marketing endeavors, please reach out to me.

Thanks for reading and please share.

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Our marketing expertise will help to take the guesswork out of your marketing decisions. We have helped thousands of people to get better marketing results. Visit our website and follow my typical customer’s journey to learn more today! Don’t procrastinate, eValuate.

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The Key Benefits Of Creating A Media Calendar

MediaCalendarDon’t let the lack of content slow down or stop your business communications.

Creating a consistent flow of high-quality content is a challenge for even the most experienced content marketers.

I can’t even start to count the “lack of content” questions I hear and read about. However, when I get that question, it’s an opportunity for me to help a customer, turn a prospect into a customer or lead them to a source of content. Here’s why.

ROADMAP!

RoadmapThere’s a roadmap I use when I have a writing assignment. If you are going to follow a schedule, develop a media calendar. I am always writing, so I adhere to every quarter. The larger firms usually schedule for 12 months. A smaller firm can update their schedule every six months.

Whatever you select, break down your calendar into quarters so it is not such a daunting process. If your business has some seasonality to it, that should make it much easier.

For example, in my B2B world, summer is slow with vacations, so I cut down the amount of communications. However, I make sure my communication is relevant so those that I reach, appreciate my content and effort.

When you finish that first long stare at your first media calendar, remember half of the battle is now complete.

RESEARCH!

Referral-cop.jpgResearch is definitely the tallest speed bump on your road to a content creation. If you’re a company that consistently communicates with customers and prospects, this is not as much a challenge as you may think. If you use a Customer–Centric Marketing philosophy at your company, that speed bump is no longer an obstacle.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and others in your company.CCM

  • Make a list of all the features of your products or services. Then from this list, what are the individual benefits derived from each feature? Make sure you discuss this with a customer service employee as well as a sales person.
  • Go to your competitors and ask them these similar questions. I know what you’re thinking, no competitor in their right mind would tell you jack. Visit their Web site and start a comparison of the features and benefits.
  • Look at their testimonials, if any. Sign up for a newsletter if offered. Talk to the customer service department. Check out industry publications, trade show opportunities, and any associations they belong to for the latest happenings and their involvement, if any.
  • Use the internet to do even more research. Don’t forget to check out Social Media. Start saving white papers, articles, or just about anything related or closely related to your industry. Be careful, and don’t plagiarize. This information is for research only to help formulate your communications that are relevant to your customers and prospects.
  • Deciding your communication channels is simply using the channels your customers and prospects prefer. You can even have similar content for each channel.
  • For example, if you have a video that is instructional in nature for a product or even a service, you may want to use your blog to introduce it. If you email a newsletter, consider a landing or QR code that drives the reader to a web page. Don’t forget to add an offer and a Call-to-Action. This link can also be in a press release, an email newsletter, Facebook, or an easy reading post card mailing.

SUMMARY!

b2b_marketingDo you feel pressure to reinvent the wheel time and time again? By that I mean past content. Do you have old content that could be updated to meet the present needs of your audience? When should you create more versions of the wheels you have already published?

The answer depends on how quickly you see change occurring in your industry. Being in the business of direct marketing, change is accelerating at a faster clip each year. Here’s an example.

Relevancy and frequency are important to any communication you decide to use. If you write a monthly newsletter, don’t send it only four times within a year.

Conversely, if you are using email, sending something once a day, unless it is money, could drive your customers away faster than a beehive at your favorite picnic location.

Take some time to read last week’s post on relevancy and frequency. I pointed out that the method of communication frequency by sending out the same message via email or direct mail maybe a waste of money.

Instead, learn what other channels your customers may prefer to read your marketing message. If you use the benefits of Customer-Centric Marketing you may have already determined these other channels of choice.

Sign up today for our monthly email, Our Point Of View.

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