May 6, 2003 Volume 2 Issue 45
Direct Marketing in a Down Economy
A long while back I met young Alan Rosenspan.
Bright. Creative. Writer. Strategist. Speaker. Fine fellow. So I asked Alan to share some DM thoughts with you. Here is his contribution.
Can the bad economy actually be good for direct marketers?
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart was interviewed during a particularly bad economic time. He was asked, "What are you going to do about the recession?" Walton answered, "We don't plan to participate."
And that's just the kind of thinking I would like to recommend to direct marketers.
First, because the economy always goes through ups and downs and the downs rarely last very long. Second and more importantly -- direct marketing usually prospers in a downturn.
In fact, a study done by Zenith Media showed ad spending in every major media was dramatically down - except one. Direct mail is still going and growing strong.
The reason why is that direct marketing is measurable. For every dollar you spend, you actually get something back -- usually with a known rate of return. So we tend to do better when corporate budgets become leaner and people begin asking questions about return-on-investment.
All that said, here are 9 suggestions for you on how to make your direct marketing even more effective until the economy turns around.
1. Give prospects a reason to act faster. There's no question that people are postponing buying decisions. The CEO of a high technology company recently wrote, "Even after our sales people have convinced the chief information officer of the product's technical merits, the chief financial officer's decision takes forever.
"That's why it's not enough to give people a reason to buy your product and service. You must also give them a compelling reason to act now. This principle, by the way, can also be applied to your offer. Don't leave it open-ended -- put a deadline on it. "You must respond within 30 days" can be an excellent way of increasing response.
2. Create offers that accelerate the sale. One of my software clients recently offered a free golf club. It was a valuable offer and generated a good response. However it didn't lead to a single sale. I recommend offers that are more focused on your product or service. By this I mean offers that will help someone make a buying decision or even speed up the sales process.
For example, I created an information-based offer for a data analysis company. It was called "10 Things You Must Know When Evaluating Data Analysis Software. "The advantages of this offer were threefold. (1) It was only of interest to people who were actually in a buying or evaluating mode, so it was highly targeted. (2) It helped define the buying criteria for prospects so they knew what to look for, and (3) It accelerated the sale since it answered all the prospects' questions.
3. Focus on "mission-critical" benefits. This is probably something you should be doing all the time, but now it's even more important. What are the most important benefits of your product or service? Are they simply desirable or are they "mission critical?" The more important the benefit, the more likely your prospect will respond. You also want to focus on return-on-investment. If your prospect is weighing one purchase decision against another, they will probably go with the one that promises to generate a higher ROI.
4. Use the bad economy to your advantage. Bad economic times can lead to some very good opportunities. Several years ago, in another downturn, a financial services company asked me to create advertising for their Gold fund. The only problem was that gold was at an historic low. I could choose to ignore this, and hope people didn't realize it. Instead I capitalized on it. My headline read, "Will you Catch Gold on the Ground Floor?" It was the most successful ad they ever ran.
5. Offer special financing deals. You may want to offer this for prospects, but it may even be a better idea with your customers. First, because it shows them that you are sensitive to their cash flow. Second, because you're more familiar with them - and you know whether or not you can trust them." Pay no interest for six months" or "Buy Now. Pay Later" can be effective, but you can also be more creative. But be careful - these are dangerous times. Today, more businesses and more consumers are going Chapter 11 than ever before. And you need to be sensitive to your own cash flow too.
6. Try to get more than one response per mailer. The idea is to get multiple people to respond to the same mailing, and it can be accomplished in several ways. For PictureTel, we asked prospects and customers to recommend others in their company who might also benefit from videoconferencing.
Our message was "Put your colleagues in the picture" and we rewarded them for every name they gave us. A simple way to do this is to stick an extra reply card in the mailing. I did this for a mailing for a software company and increased response by almost 20% -- for pennies.
7. Reduce your fulfillment costs. Digital printing has become more cost effective than ever. Instead of printing 10,000 fulfillment brochures, you may want to consider setting up a template and printing them as you need them. This is called "print on demand" and it makes good sense in this economy.
Another way to save money is to print a folder rather than a brochure. This becomes the "wrapper" for a fulfillment kit that can include separate price sheets, testimonials, product specs, case histories and almost anything else. Whenever something changes, you can easily replace that single element - without having to reprint an entire brochure.
8. Use e-mail whenever possible. Yes, our electronic mailboxes are becoming inundated. Yes, response rates have gone down drastically. But e-mail can still be an excellent and low cost medium - particularly when it comes to communicating with your customers. The trick is to make sure you are communicating real news, relevant information and building your relationship with them. I've also used e-mail as a fast, efficient way to test different approaches and offers.
9. Use this time to build relationships. Even if people are not ready to buy now, that doesn't mean you should stop marketing. As a recent advertisement for the Wall Street Journal said, "Out of sight. Out of mind. Out of business." They cite a study that shows that companies that remain aggressive during a downturn gain share from their competitors. This is an excellent time to build awareness of your company and add value. So that when corporate budgets are freed up and your prospects are ready to buy -- they'll know you and buy from you.
You should also be focusing more on your customers. In a downturn, it is important to remember that it is 5 times cheaper to get a sale from an existing customer than to find a new one. The economy will turn around - it always has.
Just remember the story about the poor King. The palace treasury was empty and the kingdom was suffering terrible poverty. The King called in all his wise counselors to find out what could be done about it. Not one was able to provide an answer. Finally, he called in the local Rabbi.
The Rabbi listened to all the King's woes and then said, "This too shall pass." The King brightened up - the Rabbi was right! And sure enough, the kingdom gradually began to get back on its feet. In time, it prospered and became mighty. The King remembered the wise advice the Rabbi had given him and called him back to the castle."
You were absolutely right," the King said, "And now look at what's happened. The coffers are full of money and jewels. The kingdom has prospered, and we've never been wealthier! What do you have to say about that?" The Rabbi answered, "This too shall pass."
And so will this awful economy.
For more send an E-mail to ARosenspan@aol.com.
... another Idea
New business friend Gerry Sacks of Houston, Texas sent me here. It turns out this leading information resource from the financial world offers a collection of marketing & sales ideas. Still, no matter your business, you will find good material here. Offered by 80+ experts (including me!) ... visit ProducersWEB.com
It's been a wonderful spring.
Am working with a new author on his book. Had a great ride on the Harley coast-to-coast and back. This month I'm watching granddaughter #2 finish her first year at the University. And the #1 granddaughter start a new business life.
With so many "new" happenings, this thought from my favorite Anonymous seems to fit;
"You can never get much of anything done unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready."
"Quotes with Direction" has been a part of my web site collection from day one. If you like quotes visit the archives ... www.rayjutkins.com/quotes/. There's a new batch up every 4 weeks.
From The Baker's Dozen Collection
13 Platinum Ideas for Testing
Just a few weeks ago I shared some test ideas from friend Grant Johnson.
Well, I have a few of my own. Here they are ...
For the full Baker's Dozen testing set, "click" here.
"It IS What's Next!"
Already I've shared this story with health care organizations, a database marketing business, a direct marketing firm, a DM association - and several others. And I'm ready to bring it to your group. (Visit It IS What's Next!)
When you have a need for a 40-90 minute program, I'll give you this different, interesting, meaningful, warm and true action presentation. To your club. Your company. Your organization. Your association. Any group you have. At any place. At any time. For any reason.
ItISWhat's Next!is available to you as a Keynote Address. As a special program. As an opening or closing presentation. As a different / unique session.
The World's Most Retarded Puns
After the seriousness of Alan's message above, here is some "nonsense". From www.yuksrus.com/puns.html EnJoy!
Way down upon the Mississippi, two tugboat captains who had been friends for years, would always cry "Aye!" and blow their whistles whenever they passed each other. A new crewman asked his boat's mate, "What did they do that for?" The mate looked surprised and replied, "You mean that you've never heard of an aye for an aye and a toot for a toot?"
One day at the watering hole, an elephant looked around and carefully surveyed the turtles in view. After a few seconds thought, he walked over to one turtle, raised his foot, and kicked the turtle as far as he could ... early a mile. A watching hyena asked the elephant why he did it? "Well, about 30 years ago I was walking through a stream and a turtle bit my foot. Finally I found the S.O.B and repaid him for what he did to me." "30 years!!! And you remembered...But HOW???" "I have turtle recall."
In a small country pub, all the patrons became quite used to the pub owners little dog being around the bar, so were quite upset when one day the little dog died.
Everyone met to decide how they could remember the little dog. The decision was to cut off his tail and stick it up behind the bar to remind everyone of the little dog's wagging tail.
The little dog went up to heaven and was about to run through the pearly gates when he was stopped by Saint Peter, who questioned the little dog as to where he was going. The little dog said, "I have been a good dog - so I am going into heaven where I belong!"
St. Peter replied, "Heaven is a place of perfection, you can not come into heaven without a tail, where is your tail?"
The little dog explained what had happened back on earth. St Peter told the little dog to go back down to earth and retrieve his tail. The little dog protested that it was now the middle of the night on earth, but St Peter would not change his mind.
So the little dog went back down to earth and scratched on the door of the pub until the bartender who lived upstairs came down and opened the door.
"My goodness, it is the spirit of the little dog. What can I do for you?", asked the bartender. The little dog explained that he wasn't allowed into heaven without his tail, and he needed it back. The bartender replied, "I would really like to help you, but my liquor license doesn't allow me to retail spirits after hours!"
A botanist had just returned from an expedition to the South Pacific Islands and was discussing their adventures with their colleagues back at the university where they taught. "What was the most exciting discovery you found there?", asked a fellow professor.
One of them replied, "The people native to this one island had discovered the most amazing cure for constipation. Using only the leafs of the local palm trees they concocted a suppository which quickly cured the ailment."
Another professor asked, "A palm leaf suppository? Did it really work?" Replied the botanist, "With fronds like these...who needs enemas." The proprietor of a big aquarium was terribly upset and called over her assistant. "We have a bunch of school children coming over tomorrow, and I just looked in and those horny dolphins are continuously mating. We can't let the kids see that."
"What can we do about it?" the assistant asked. "The only thing that will make them stop is to feed them baby seagulls," She replied. "You'll have to go get them, but it won't be easy. There's a bunch of them at the city zoo. You'll have to break in tonight, grab the little birds and bring them back here. But be careful. There's a stony faced old lion who guards the birdhouse at the zoo and he'd eat you if you make too much noise."
That night, the aquarium assistant sneaks into the zoo, quietly enters the bird house, and makes off with a sack full of baby seagulls. He's outside the zoo and about to head back to the office with his booty when suddenly there are cops everywhere. Surprised at being caught, he asks an officer what he's charged with.
"Don't you know?" said the cop, "Transporting young gulls across a staid lion for immoral porpoises!"
A marine biologist at the Universityor New Brunswick was working on a system that would allow humans to talk to fish, and fish to talk with humans.
One day, after many years of working in the lab, the system is ready for field testing. The scientist takes his gear down to a local salmon stream and sets it up. Lo and behold, the system worked!
Our hero began talking with the salmon in the stream and the salmon began talking with the scientist. The scientist noticed one particular salmon that looked a little different from the rest. This salmon was a deeper reddish brown than the others, so he nick-named him Rusty.
The scientist then struck up quite a friendship with Rusty. Rusty told the scientist what it was like to be a fish, and the scientist told Rusty what it was like to be a human being. One day, after two seasons by the stream, Rusty said, "It's time for me to leave for the ocean." The marine biologist responded, "NO Rusty! You can't! Do you know how dangerous the trip will be? Do you know that the return rate for your species is about 2%? Do you know that there are many dangers you will have to face on the journey -- Fishermen, sharks and pollution to name a few."
"Look" said Rusty, "A salmon's gotta do what a salmon's gotta do."
So off he went. Two years later, the scientist is still working by the same stream, when he hears a familiar voice from the past. Rusty had returned! The two of them quickly became re-acquainted. "You know, you were right about all the dangers" said Rusty.
"I lost track of the number of times that I was almost caught in some fisherman's net. I lost track of the number of times that I was almost eaten by sharks. But let me tell you," Rusty continued, "about the amazing sights I witnessed."
"Tell me what you saw!" said the scientist excitedly. "The ship wrecks were incredible!" The scientist explained to Rusty about the large number of ships that were sunk in the North Atlantic. "Well one ship I saw, the Titanic, was really fantastic! It was just gorgeous! We swam all through it, up the grand staircases, down into the dining salons! It was so moving that I decided to write some poetry about it."
"It must be really beautiful stuff" said the scientist. "I know it is. Maybe you could help me get it published?", said Rusty. "Sure" said the scientist, "Do you have a title for your poems?"
"Yes -- Salmon Rusty's Titanic Verses!"
It is believed that the stock markets go up and down with the rise and fall of the hemlines in ladies skirts and dresses.
Proof of this phenomenon is in the following historical facts:
Glamour stocks and mini skirts soared in 1993. Conglomerates and hemlines went down in the spring of 1994. Hot pants led the Dow Jones up in 1971. The advice to the investor then, is,
"Don't sell until you see the heights of their thighs!"
Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much.
The second one, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils.
There once was a family of four skunks. A Mother skunk, a Father skunk and two identical twin baby skunks named Inskunk and Outskunk.
Their parents named them as such because the only way they could tell one from the other was to keep Inskunk inside all the time and Outskunk outside continually except at meal time. When being fed, Inskunk would be inside to eat and when done Inskunk would go out and Outskunk would come in to eat. After eating Outskunk would go back outside and Inskunk would come back in. They followed this ritual daily to avoid confusion.
One day Mother skunk had to go in to town and left Father skunk to look after Inskunk and Outskunk. As she was leaving she reminded Father skunk not to mix up the two as the last time it took a week to sort out which was which. Father skunk just replied, "Don't worry dear. I can tell them apart."
So off she went. When lunch time arrived Father skunk let Outskunk in to eat without letting Inskunk outside. Mother skunk just happened to come home at that time and was shocked! "I can't believe you mixed them up again!", she screamed.
Father skunk replied, "They're not mixed up, This is Inskunk and over there is Outskunk!" Mother Skunk inquired, "How can you be so sure that that is Inskunk and that one is Outskunk?"
"Simple!", said Father Skunk, "Instincts!"
Israeli police are looking for a man named Joseph, wanted for looting in the port city of Haifa. The suspect is described as the son of a an ex-nun from Barcelona and a German father. He was a former flutist and worked occasionally as a farmer.
In short, he was "A Haifa-lootin', flutin' Teuton, son-of-a-nun from Barcelona, part-time plowboy Joe."
A man goes into his dentist's office with a terrible pain in his jaw. Soon enough, he's in the chair and the doctor starts probing with his metal pick.
"Does this hurt?" he asks, as his patient's knuckles whitened. Finally the dentist stood back and asked:
"Do you eat lots of candy?"
"Do you drink lots of soda pop?" "Very seldom." "Have you been brushing every day?" "Yes doctor, three times a day." "Well, I can't think of anything that's causing all the cavities you have. Can you think of anything?" "Well, I do like hollandaise sauce an awful lot." "Hollandaise sauce?"
"Yes, I love the stuff. I have it on everything. On toast, eggs, cereal, ice-cream, pancakes, and so on. I just can't get enough of it!"
"Well, I'll tell you what, let me put in a plate and see if it helps." The dentist put a plate into his patients mouth, and sent him on his way, with instructions to come back in six months for a check-up.
The months passed quickly enough, and soon the man was back into the chair. "Doc, I can't believe it! Since you put that plate in, I've had no problems with my teeth at all! What was it made of anyway?" "It was a chrome plate." "Chrome? Why a chrome plate?" "Well you know," said the dentist. "There's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise!"
It had to happen, someday. The municipal philharmonic symphony and chorus were rehearsing Symphony No. 9 by Ludwig Von Beethoven. Since the chorus doesn't enter until the final movement, the singers were becoming very bored - especially the men in the back row.
Then the basses had a clever idea. During break, they tied a nylon fishline around the conductor's score, 4 pages prior to the beginning of the last movement. They ran the line up through a roof vent, across the street and down into Joe's tavern. This allowed them to relax at the bar chugging brews, and when the line jerked, they could run across the street and take their places in the chorus at the precise time.
Their plan worked flawlessly, especially when the conductor paused before continuing, to have the trombones, who were playing somewhat flat, tune their instruments. So all singers were in readiness as the conductor raised his baton.
Well.....almost all... except for two men who had earlier passed out at the bar.
And so this became the first case in musical history where it was the bottom of the ninth, the basses were loaded, the score was tied, there were two out, the leadoff man was up and the inside pitch was low.
A sailor was caught AWOL as he tried to sneak on board his ship at about 3 am. The chief petty officer spied him and ordered the sailor to stop. Upon hearing the sailor's lame explanation for his tardiness, the officer ordered the sailor, "Take this broom and sweep every link on this anchor chain by morning or it's the brig for you!
The sailor began to pick up the broom and commence performing his charge. As he began to sweep, a tern landed on the broom handle. The sailor yelled at the bird to leave, but it didn't. The lad picked the tern off the broom handle, giving the bird a toss. The bird left, only to return and light once again on the broom handle. The sailor went through the same routine all over again, with the same result. He couldn't get any cleaning done because he can only sweep at the chain once or twice before the blasted bird returns. When morning came, so did the chief petty officer, to check up on his wayward sailor.
"What in the heck have you been doing all night? This chain is no cleaner than when you started! What have you to say for yourself, sailor?" barked the chief.
"Honest, chief," came the reply, "I tossed a tern all night and couldn't sweep a link!"
A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption.
One of them goes to a family in Egypt, and is named "Amal." The other goes to a family in Spain; who name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his mom. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Amal.
Her husband responded, "But they are twins--if you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal."
Sitting Bull had 3 wives who were always quarreling about who should be number one.
One was pretty, one was clever and one was very strong. Finally, tired of their squabbles he told his medicine man to resolve the issue. The medicine man took the wives to his teepee where he had gathered pelts and hides from all over the world. He told each wife to choose a hide and sit on it in front of the sacred campfire. The clever wife chose a pelt of thick white fur, the strong wife chose a hide of orange and black stripes and the pretty wife chose a hide of rubbery grey leather. The medicine man then pointed to the pretty wife and said,"Behold chief, your number one wife."
The chief was pleased, but the other two wives demanded an explanation. The medicine man said, "Even the ancient ones knew that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the other two hides."
Magic Marketing MinutesType Should Be Seen & Not Heard These ideas come from good friends Ken Erdman and Murray Raphel.
1. Type has a first impression. Make sure yours is a good one.
2. Type has a personality. Short. Tall. Skinny. Fat. Thin. Weak. Plain. Fancy. Make sure yours looks like your business.
3. Type has "sound". Lots of it big and bold is a shout. Lesser and smaller is quiet. Make sure you know what sounds you want to make.
4. Type creates mood. The Salvation Army needs to look poor. Rolls Royce needs to look rich. Which are you?
5. Type must be readable. Don't pick anything -- style or size -- that you can't read!
6. Type is background. Its purpose is to get you to read and understand the message. It is not to be the message! Pick type to create atmosphere -- not be the atmosphere.
7. Type rarely in reverse. This means don't do white on black. It's just too darn hard to read.
8. Type is "family". Keep the family together. Don't mix type styles on the same piece. Although you may choose different type styles on different pieces inside the same mail package.
9. Type breathes. White space between the words and paragraphs is needed. Allow it to breathe.
And, 10. Type stands alone. Over-printing anything may be nice for art directors, but it's death to readers. Let your type communicate.
10 ideas to make your type more readable for your next Direct Mail audience.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.