Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

 

Power Direct Marketing: The Book


The 8ight Point Market Action Plan

POWER DIRECT MARKETING is

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The Creative Team

The care and feeding of creative people can be a humbling experience. Ego plays a large role in the creative process—and copywriters and art directors are no exceptions to its power.

To avoid much of the trauma that can go with preparing the best creative product, here are some ideas that will help you communicate:

  • Care about the creative team as people. They are, you know. They are skilled at their trade. Communicate with them as individuals.
  • Take enough time for a thorough briefing. And put it in writing. Then talk it. Both are important. Discuss the assignment with the copywriter and art director. As a team—all of you working together—as a team.
  • Include the creative team in everything. And tell them EVERYTHING. There is no such thing as too much information. Let them decide what meetings they want to come to—and what to do with those stacks of reports you dumped on their desk. Keep them fully informed about your product, the company, the competition, the marketplace. Tell them the "no-nos" they must know. Keep them on the same wavelength.
  • Challenge them. Ask questions every day about everything. Including asking how you can help. Be receptive. Make sure you understand what they are doing. And why.
    Never flaunt your knowledge—share it. And make 110% certain all is understood. The direction is agreed upon. The deadlines are real. The budget is set. You make sure you know what is going on—daily. It is your responsibility to keep the train on the track.
  • Heap praise. Tons of praise. It is impossible to praise too much. Take credit for nothing—give it all away. Tell the creative team how much you appreciate what they have done to make this marketing program a winner. And then shut up and listen! It is amazing what you will learn.
  • As you listen—REACT. Don’t just sit there—say something. Do something. Jump up. Sit down. Fight-fight-fight! Respond. Question. SCREAM! Be enthusiastic. Challenge again. Even doubt. Throw something. Hug somebody.
  • Allow the freedom to fail (Only with the freedom to fail do we have the freedom to succeed!).
  • Criticize. Critique. Be active in the process of getting the best possible creative effort. Tell the creative team what you think. And why. Is it good/bad/great/worse—is it off strategy/unclear/do you LOVE it! Tell them so they know. Share your thoughts. And feelings.
  • Have fun. Little great has been achieved in this world in an atmosphere of gloom and doom. Smile. Laugh. Cry if it helps. Enjoy. Work with the creative team and let them know it is a grand experience. When you do, your direct response campaign will be the best possible.

Production/Media

Production—doing the program, implementing the project, buying the space, arranging the printing and mailing—the "do" part of direct response is the seventh point of The 8ight Point Market Action Plan.

Friend Pat Haag of Creative Mailings has put together a list titled: "9 Rules to Make Sure Your Direct Response Program is Late, Wrong, and Over Budget!" As she says: "Followed diligently, you are guaranteed to delay, foul-up, and increase your costs." Being positive by nature, I’ve accepted these rules from Pat, revised them with some ideas of my own, and present them here for you.

1. Never become familiar with your suppliers’ equipment and capabilities. Don’t visit your printer, the letter shop, the telemarketing agency—work in a vacuum.

Not knowing the length and breadth of the capabilities of those you’re working with will, if nothing else, cause you to lose valuable time. And probably money.

Ask questions. Do find out what your suppliers can and cannot do. You determine if you should go elsewhere for the job—or split the assignment between 2 or more houses. You can only make those decisions if you know what is available in your marketplace. Find out ahead of time.

2. Never, ever share with your suppliers more about the project than that portion which they are to perform.

If you do tell your suppliers what you are really looking for, your desired end result, they just may be able to suggest another and better way to accomplish it for you.

This may be the first time you’ve done this particular type of project. Undoubtedly your printer, letter shop, or agency has done something similar scores of times before. Ask them to help you. Share what you want and they may save you money or time. Or both.

3. No matter how many changes you made in a project, or how close to the due date you made them, never give your suppliers more time to produce a quality job.

We all know due dates are sacred. However, we also know that many times due dates are pure fantasy. Or artificial. Not real. You’re begging for mistakes by giving your suppliers too short a time to do an adequate job. No matter the assignment.

Remember, it’s not their fault you (or someone) changed your mind half a dozen times. Making corrections is one thing—making changes is another.

I’ve learned over time to question if the change is really necessary. Sometimes when more money is involved or the due date will truly be missed because of changes, those changes have a way of becoming less important. And, if they really are needed, a little more money or a little more time to do them right is rarely a problem.

4. Always design your direct mail packages with window envelopes that are too small for personalization. Never check to be certain all the pieces fit in the outgoing mailing envelope, nor the response device in the return envelope.

Bless art directors, without them our world would be much less colorful. Not nearly as interesting. However, in direct response we must all remember we’re in a dialogue business...you want the mail to be delivered and you want the reply to come back.

Direct mail packages must be designed to go together—to fit both outbound to your prospects and customers, and when they respond back to you.

Because personalization is so important in direct mail (If you have the correct name you should use it, it increases response!), your package must consider the mechanical elements. How much space is needed to be certain everything fits? How much space do you need for the personalized letter or reply form to show through the window? Find out before you begin final art.

5. Never plan ahead and allow for special paper needs. Or unique or different folds, cuts, trims.

When designing a personalized direct mail letter, a fancy fulfillment package brochure, something that will require an unusual paper, a different type of fold, a perforation, a pop-up, or other involvement device, you must tell your suppliers ahead of time. These extra-nice action pieces take extra time to arrange. And handle.

6. Never consider international as requiring anything special or difficult.

In direct mail the "standard" United States Post Office envelopes are not accepted in other countries. You must think of this beforehand, and if you have a large number of customers or prospects overseas, make the necessary production arrangements.

The same for print advertising, television, and video standards—they are different in different parts of the world. You must know what they are if you are to operate successfully internationally.

7. Never ask for counts by code from data processing before placing your order and printing.

Measurability is a standard in direct response. When mailing numerous tests, you require numerous codes—so you can count and measure what happens.

To save time afterwards and money up front, get a count for each code before production. By asking ahead of time you can determine exactly what you need before personalizing with an incorrect tape or list, or before printing is done using incorrect quantities.

If you’re planning to include a tip-in response card on your space ad and want different codes for different publications, also be sure to plan ahead.

8. Never ask for live samples when running personalized pieces until after the job is complete.

"Live" samples of each direct mail test cell will enable you to check your codes against your plan. They allow you to check for data processing, folding, and insertion errors. And to catch them before it’s too late. It does take some extra time and a little more money to review and approve at this stage—and it’s worth it!

9. Never, never consider postage in your plans.

The post office takes only money up front. You must pay before you mail. Those are the rules. Which means you must schedule payment prior to your mail date. Either directly to the post office or to your mailing house.

If you’re using a postage meter, it must be filled ahead of the letter shop processes. If you’re using live stamps, they must be purchased in advance—usually 3 to 5 days prior to the mail date.

Plan ahead—don’t forget postage.

Analysis/Measurement

The eighth point of The 8ight Point Market Action Plan is analyzing and measuring your direct response program. Determining how successful it was in the marketplace.

The direct response marketing discipline is the most measurable you can employ if you want to really know what happened. If you want to track exactly your response, how many orders were received, how many leads generated, how many donations made, the foot traffic at your store or trade show booth.

As Steve Bedowitz of Amre, a company working in the fast-growth remodeling marketplace, says: "What I’m looking for is not the least expensive lead. I’m looking for the least expensive sale!" With direct marketing, Steve, and you, can know what is your least expensive sale.

If you want to know what it cost to talk to that prospect and convert them to a customer—direct response is the way to go. If you want to know your success rate in upgrading your customer base—use direct response. If you want to introduce a new product to a select marketplace—use direct response. In every case, you’ll know what happened.

In one way the back end of direct marketing—the analysis and measurement stage—is just the beginning. With the knowledge you gain you can improve your marketing efforts.

Because you learn not only how many orders you obtained, but the value of sales of those orders. Not just the number of leads, but how many bought and for how much. Not just the store traffic you generate, but how many become ongoing customers. Because you count, you measure and you analyze your results.

Another benefit of measurement is learning when your response really comes. The timing. And how it comes. Phone. Mail. Walk-in. Other.

Let’s build a program to show some possibilities. You do a direct mailing that invites your audience to either return the response card for more information on your offer, or to call a toll-free 800 number. Whichever is most convenient for them. This is a very common occurrence in both consumer and business promotions.

How will the split between mail and phone fall? Again, it depends on many factors. Is this a customer base or prospect mailing? Are you a known player in this field or new? Is the product or service new or established? How much does it cost? What is the offer?

For this example let’s guess the direct mail will generate 60% of the total response and the telephone 40%. The mailing is 100,000 pieces—and you predict a 2.5% total response, or 2,500 leads. Using the 60% figure for mail response means you’ll receive 1,500 leads by mail and 1,000 by telephone.

Now, when can you expect the response to come? Over what period of time? Pierre Passavant has established what is called a Response Lag Time Theory for direct mail. For a lead generation program as outlined in this example, here’s what you might see in the weeks immediately following receipt of the mail by your audience:

Mail response

Week
Percent
Leads
1st
20% 300
2nd
30% 450
3rd
15% 225
4th
10% 150
5th
10% 150
6th
5% 75
7th
5% 75
8th
5% 75
Grand total direct mail leads
1,000

For telephone response, Gene Kordahl built the Telephone Response Lag Time Theory. Results of our example look like this:

Telephone response

Week
Percent
Leads
1st
40% 400
2nd
30% 300
3rd
20% 200
4th
5% 50
5th
5% 50
Grand total telephone leads
1,000

If this were your real, live program and not just an example, you might use these figures for planning. You would then carefully gather and evaluate what the true results were by both phone and mail. By week. And assuming the quality was what you were seeking, you’d make adjustments and continue your direct response effort accordingly.


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