I'm a direct mail junkie (please excuse the pun!). I cut my teeth on direct mail 33 years ago and since then I've generated some £10 million of sales from direct mail for businesses big and small.
Now I'm no longer the lone voice in the wilderness proclaiming the many benefits of direct mail for small businesses. Direct mail is very much the comeback kid. More of us are reaching for a pen and paper when we want to grab the attention of prospects or clients.
The big worry with direct mail is that your envelope and its contents are going to be chucked away without so much as a backward glance. So how do create mailshots that don't look like junk mail?
Copyright © 2016 Dee Blick, a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.
Many independent retail businesses spend a significant amount of their budget on advertising to drive footfall into their store; but they miss out on potential sales because of poor store layout and a lack of in-store promotional materials.
In-store marketing has the power to turn prospects into converted customers and drive add-on sales. But where do you start?
Do you have any shop window space? Go outside your store and look in from the outside. If you were a passer-by would you be tempted to enter? Your window space is your most valuable piece of in-store advertising; think of it the same way you do your website homepage. You want to communicate your brand to passing trade; as well as using your products, a simple window cling can add colour or advertise a special offer.
When you walk into your store, what's the first thing you see and where are your eyes drawn? Ideally your best sellers should be as near to the entrance as possible; you know these products sell well, they are a safe bet and the perfect introductory point. The entrance to your store should have a distinct space to give your customer time to orientate themselves, so position these products close to your entrance but don't over-crowd the space.
Have you ever simply observed the way your customers move around your store? This can be insightful. Nine times out of ten, first time visitors are likely to pick up the first thing they see, it helps them familiarise themselves with their surroundings and your products. However this can be different dependent upon the store layout and product – take notes.
As a rule of thumb your high traffic areas tend to be the till point and fitting rooms (if you have them), so make the most of these areas. For example, if you're a clothing retailer try merchandising a wall next to the fitting room with jewellery and accessories. It will prompt your customers to consider whether they need something to match the item they plan on purchasing. At the till point customers have already made the decision to purchase an item and are in a purchasing frame of mind. This is why we tend to advertise lower value items here. Try placing a brightly coloured Dump Bin near your till point that advertises special offers.
No matter how small the space, you want to encourage people to move around. If you're a relatively small store you might have to use a free-flow layout. Instead of having defined aisles, the angles and corners of fixtures guide customers around your store. If space is tight you may find a free-standing display unit helpful, providing shelf space but with a relatively small footprint. You can brand these with your company logo, text and colours too.
With the popularity of online advertising and email as marketing channels, the low cost of delivery has made the allure of e-media powerful. But it’s leaving many marketers asking, is print dead?
We get a staggering amount of digital communication each day, and every message is easily replaced by the next tweet, email or status update.
Print, however, is tangible, high-impact and high-ROI — and it stands out in today’s increasingly cluttered online universe. Direct mail provides a tactile response that stimulates the senses, creating more positive brand associations and making the communication more memorable. And it’s impervious to spam filters.
But it’s not about abandoning one for the other. By merging the digital world with the world of print, the success of both increases.
Print marketing: the secrets of success
In order to get the best return on your investment, your print marketing should contain these three elements:
The companies that are the most successful at integrating print into their marketing mixes are masters at crafting a cohesive campaign across all marketing channels with personal, relevant materials.
A company recently asked me to review one of their proposals.
I quickly realised they had made the common mistake of talking too much about themselves and their proposition, and too little about its impact on the beneficiary.
So, I used the “find” function in word, and discovered that their 22-page document contained:
Not customer-focused… in what was supposed to be a customer-focused document.
It took me under 20 seconds to find this out. Their response: “We’re devastated. We had no idea. We’ll never write like this again.”
And they haven’t.
How many techniques are there that can change you forever and in only 20 seconds?
Here are examples of what you can search for using “find”:
If your searches uncover things you don’t like, the solutions are straight-forward:
This is one of those tips that you might feel you don’t need. But my customer didn’t think they needed it either. And since it only takes 20 seconds to do, it’s worth trying. You never know what you’ll find.
Choose a document that is complete/near completion. Search for the words that will show you what you need to know about your content. Make the changes you need to transform its impact.
Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.
As if the process of devising an effective online marketing plan is not hard enough, small businesses also have to come up with creative approaches that will capture the attention of their target market.
Design matters — whether it’s for a website, a blog, a newsletter or a social media page. You need to use the best possible approach to ensure you get results online.
Split testing — also known as A/B testing — is a crucial part of this process. Without it, it is impossible for you to achieve an optimum online presence. If you are a small business owner and you want to effectively reach out to your consumers online, then you should use split testing to create the best online designs.
Split testing is the process of developing multiple designs and using them alternately to determine which one is more effective. Marketers aiming for the highest possible conversion rates on their websites and blogs commonly use this practice. It can determine which design works better in selling a product, generating leads, and channelling and maintaining a website’s traffic.
Above all, it’s important because it allows business owners to learn about their market’s online behaviour and taste. Pin down which creative look, design, and approach works with your market to help you sell your products and services. Split testing is the single most effective way to find out how to get potential customers and clients to convert.
Here are some of the most effective split testing tools that you can use for your business.
Google Website Optimizer: To optimize your site, you need to develop alternate versions of your webpage and determine which one works better. Along with a conversion URL, you need to submit these pages to Google through the Google Website Optimizer. This powerful and simple tool will help you put together an optimized site free of charge.
Split Testing Pro: This desktop-based application combines all the possible tools that you need in order to test multiple versions of your website or blog. In exchange for a low-cost monthly subscription, you will be able to run multiple versions of your online marketing platforms and determine which ones will give you the conversion rate that you need.
Optimizely: Optimizely is a web-based application that copies web pages from a given URL and substitutes different variations for the script used for each one of them. After that, users are granted access to variations through an in-browser editor. Display features can get a little messed up after the substitutions, but you will be able to use this app to come up with the best copies and scripts for conversion.
There are some guidelines that you should keep in mind as you use split testing to improve the conversion rate of your blog or website.
Some people respond better to text, while others respond best to visual images. In the process of creating a high-conversion website or newsletter, split test text-heavy studies against image-heavy designs. Doing so will help you determine which text-to-image ratio will work best for your website.
While there are certain opt-in processes that are too complicated to squeeze into a single page, there are some that can sit perfectly in a single web page. For the best possible conversion rate, you have to find out whether a multiple-page opt in process works better for your consumers or whether they will respond best to one-page opt-in schemes.
If you are selling a particular product, you need to determine whether adding an image will be beneficial and which product shot will do the best job in inviting potential customers to convert. Test multiple product shots and find out which one will appeal to your market best.
Split testing can be a time consuming. However, it will pay off in the end, helping you achieve the best conversion rates. The power of effective social media marketing design is phenomenal and through using split testing you can achieve the best results possible.
Olivia Rose blogs about business and uses split testing and multivariate data analysis to conduct effective online marketing.
Communication is so important for businesses to succeed. Imagine a world without order confirmations, delivery updates or any acknowledgement you even exist. We’d be forever wondering if we did actually buy those skinny-fit trousers in coral red and if they’ll even arrive tomorrow, or perhaps, next Thursday. The thing is, the better the communication, the better your customers feel about your brand.
Organising an event can be really exciting. However, it can be quite nerve-racking wondering if anyone will show or if the canapés will be delivered in time. Your company’s image can be mistakenly forgotten.
Pre-event communication can have a serious boost to attendance whilst showcasing your excellent customer service. Let me show you how SMS text messages can significantly increase your engagement, allow you to fill seats and crucially help make your event a success.
Maximising attendance can be a real challenge for event organisers. A free event is sometimes forgotten; emails are quickly scanned or missed entirely; even an honest “don’t think I’ll bother” is often to blame.
More and more of us receive reminder messages from our dentist or a prompt prior to a hair appointment. A “useful” reminder can also demonstrate your thoughtfulness towards your customers. Sending a message with the time, venue, a Google Maps link or even the closest car park may sound simple, but is often overlooked.
This communication is a perfect excuse to excite your attendees and demonstrate your business ethos before they’ve even arrived. Adding some personality or even a sneak preview to the message can really highlight your brand.
Let me show you an actual recent example:
Hey Kate. The red carpet is out! The premiere of Collaborate Cornwall 2012 is showing tomorrow at the Lighthouse Cinema, Newquay and you are on the guest list. We look forward to welcoming you from 9am-9.30am. Map to Mount Wise Car Park. The Partner to Succeed team.
Your attendees are sure to be impressed.
And relax, your event is over! Time to grab a cuppa... Well, maybe just not quite yet. You probably have a ton of attendees with the thoughts of your event whizzing around their heads. This is a perfect opportunity to leave a positive image of your company. Show them you care with a willingness to listen. All this can be achieved with a simple acknowledgement follow-up. You may even get some crucial feedback for your next event — after all a quick reply by text is so easy!
Here’s the follow-up message:
Wow — what a day? We hope you found Collaborate Cornwall 2012 a useful and informative event. We’d love to get your feedback — please feel free to send your comments by replying to this message. Thanks for attending! The Partner to Succeed team.
All of this for less than the price of a few crisps and sausage rolls.