10 Direct Mail Secrets from the Pros!

For the past decade, many business owners have regarded direct mail as the ugly stepsister of print or broadcast advertising. Loud, misleading and cluttered pieces mailed anonymously to millions of prospects only served to reinforce this perception.

Today, however, some of the most innovative and effective advertising is delivered through the mail, and more and more business owners are finding the rewards of direct mail are great if their campaigns are designed with a discerning eye and a realistic strategy in mind. Looking for some tips to help you create a direct mail campaign that brings in results without breaking the bank? Here are 10 smart tactics, culled from my 15 years as a direct mail professional:

1. Develop a visual sense for what works and what doesn’t. You have an abundance of learning materials right inside your mailbox. The next time you go through your mail, take a minute to examine what’s there, what catches your attention, what attracts you and what repels you. Do you have examples of previous campaigns you’ve sent out? Or pieces from your competitors that you can learn from? “Junk mail” has a unique style–learn to recognize it and think about how you can create the opposite.

2. Don’t insult your prospects’ intelligence by using cheesy tag lines or see-and-say visuals. Believe it or not, “FREE MONEY” doesn’t attract much attention in the inundated world of today’s consumers. So avoid using bold with italics, ALL CAPS, and multiple exclamation points (!!!!), as these are the clich�d visual cues of junk mail.

And try to be innovative in what you do show. Make a point of avoiding see-and-say graphics, which are too elementary to involve and activate the brain of a potential customer. For instance, let’s say you were sending out a postcard for your lawn-care service that reads “Lawn-Mowing Service” and the photo or illustration depicts a company employee mowing a lawn. (See: picture of employee mowing lawn. Say: “Lawn-Mowing Service.”) Boring! Instead, be more creative.

The key here is to entice your audience to complete a story in their minds of how your product or service solves a problem they have. In the example above, you might show the uniformed employee mowing the lawn but have the caption read “Honey, did you mow the lawn today?” “Yeah, it’s a tough job, but someone had to do it.” That way, the audience has to figure out the picture. They might complete the riddle like this: “Why is this guy taking credit for mowing the lawn? Because he hired this lawn-mowing service and got the job done. Maybe I could relegate my lawn-mowing responsibility like this guy did.” Involving your audience lengthens the time they take to look at your mail piece and improves the odds they’ll take in the information they need to make a decision for your business. Humor can also play a great part in these visual stories.

3. Don’t assume your audience knows everything. An educated consumer is one that’s more willing to make a purchase. Your headline should draw attention to your body copy, which is your most powerful selling tool. Ignore what people say about how no one reads anymore–if compelled by a good headline and provoking imagery, a potential customer will want more information immediately. Directing them to a website or phone number is asking a lot of your audience, so instead, include essential information right on the mail piece. When writing copy, start from the beginning, be direct, and include as much information as you can in five sentences or less. Chances are, the reader is scanning, so use words that are easy to understand but are descriptive enough to accurately communicate your message.

4. Use what you know. If you know your customers inside and out, by all means, use that information in your mail piece. Meeting your potential customers where they are is a great way to attain trust quickly. Become familiar with your market so you can be specific about your mailing list. Consider demographics like gender, age, income, climate, leisure activities and more when deciding where to mail each piece. The more you use information that’s been hard-earned in years past, the better your response rates will be.

5. “You Won’t Believe This Amazing Offer!” At least that part’s true, when it comes to your prospects–people are much more skeptical these days. So do something completely unusual with your direct mail piece: Tell the truth. Exposing your weaknesses make your strengths seem even greater, and (yes, believe it) creates a sense of honesty and trust. Consider this example: A flooring company boasts “the best styles at the best prices.” While the claim sounds attractive, it doesn’t have the same believability (thus response-eliciting) factor as a piece that claims “the same styles at the best prices.” Creating a trustworthy message allows consumers to set positive expectations, rather than refuting any false ones they might be reading. And when potential customers set expectations, you can bet they’re ready to take a risk on your business.

6. Ask and you shall receive. Know exactly what action you want your mail piece to elicit, and then ask for it. Then ask again. This is known as the call-to-action in the world of direct mail, and it’s the consumers’ cue for getting what they want. If there’s no call-to-action, your direct mail piece is just creating brand recognition. Is there a number to call? Don’t just list the number–ask them to make the call. Is there a website to visit? A response mail required? Ask, suggest and entice your audience to respond to your piece. Make the information accessible, easy to read and effective–which may mean making some changes in the office, whether that’s a designated phone line or a more memorable web address.

7. Consider the medium. What will your message be delivered on? Postcards are an effective medium for most products, because they cut down a barrier (the envelope) between the consumer and the message. However, some direct mail is more appropriate when crafted as a letter, especially those that involve high-dollar sales and financial services.

Think carefully about your product and your message before making a decision about the medium. No matter what format you choose, consider the paper your message will be printed on. Inexpensive paper communicates something very different from high-quality paper. If you’re selling anything that’s considered expensive, high-quality or custom, nice paper will communicate that message much more effectively than something inexpensive. On the other hand, the type of paper you choose makes little difference when you’re selling items that are inexpensive, sold at bulk rates or discounted. Deciding what’s best for your direct mail piece will improve your response rates exponentially.

8. Use color wisely. Color will always catch more attention than black and white, but when it comes to color, more is not necessarily better. Additional colors may cost more money to produce–and too many colors can create a piece that’s confusing and cluttered–so it’s important to find what’s best for your project.

Begin by choosing one or two main colors and one or two supporting colors based on the feelings they elicit: Warm colors are exciting and energizing; cool colors are relaxing and refreshing. Bright colors speak loudly; dull colors suggest quietly. Think about your product, corporate image and your audience when choosing color. Metallic colors are a great option for one- or two-color jobs.

And check with your printer to see what’s available that might make your piece stand out for a small–or no–increase in price. Consider colored paper, as well as using a color as a field (covering a large shape area) and reversing out the text (that means showing white text on a colored background). These techniques will help you make the most of your budget and color choices for maximum impact.

9. Personalize your pieces. You’ve seen them: “[your name here], you’ve got to check out this deal!” Personalization can enhance a consumer’s inclination to read your direct mail piece by creating a sense of familiarity. It also emphasizes their importance to your business. For example, are you more likely to open an envelope that says “Current Resident” or “[Your Name]”? Most likely, you’ll feel important to the second business and choose to open that mail first.

When it comes to personalizing a direct mail piece, there are a lot of options, ranging from addressing it to a specific consumer or including their name in the letter portion to printing their name in the art area on the actual postcard or letter. Some of these options can get pricey, so if you think it’s appropriate for your mailer, talk with your printer about your personalization options so you’ll know what options fit your budget.

10. Determine the best way to mail it. When it comes to mailing your direct mail pieces, you have options regarding the postage you purchase. Think about your customers and the value of your product, as well as time sensitivity. Will “presort” (formerly bulk rate) arrive in time? Do your potential customers care about first-class postage or not? Are you eligible to receive special, not-for-profit postage rates? And don’t forget to consider the type of postage for your direct mail piece. You can choose to use first-class or presort stamps, or you can print the first-class or presort postage directly on the mail pieces (this is known as the indicia). In pieces that are highly personalized and official-looking, a stamp can enhance response rates because consumers infer a human touch. On postcards, indicias work just as well as stamps and don’t cost anything to apply to the mail piece.

Link to original article.

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Marketing With Print Is Greener Than You Think

When companies start making changes towards a more eco-friendly business environment, paper is often one of the first things to go. When you think about printing on paper products, your mind might conjure up images of a devastated, clearcut forest. But the print industry is much greener than you think—and it is helping to prevent deforestation.
As I’ve said before, print marketing is far from dead. And while it’s still an effective way to attract a wider range of customers, it also helps preserve the environment. Print marketing collateral is sustainable, recyclable, low on carbon emissions, and high on impressions.

Here’s a look at the benefits of print marketing:

Print grows trees
More than half of the forests in the United States—or 55 million acres—are owned by private landowners, most of whom make a living off the land that they own. When private forestland is used in the production of paper, the landowner has an incentive to keep growing more trees and replenishing whatever was cut down. In fact, in many cases, more trees are planted than are harvested, often in areas where there were no trees before.

Without the print industry, many private forest owners could not turn a profit on their land as is and they would be forced to sell it to outside developers or to clear it away for other agricultural purposes. Moreover, planting trees reduces stormwater runoff, improves water quality, and helps lower carbon emissions—but the same can’t be said for livestock and cash crops. Think of it this way: Print marketing is more eco-friendly than eating a hamburger.

Print is recyclable
People are getting so good about recycling paper that 65.1% of all paper products are now recycled. However, that only accounts for the post-consumer waste; many printers also recycle the scrap paper leftover from a print job into biofuel. In fact, paper used for printing in the US is composed of over 60% biofuels, which create a lower carbon footprint by requiring fewer fossil fuels and reduce waste.

Print is non-toxic
Many printers use soy-based ink, not only because it’s non-toxic and low on volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which harm the environment, but also because soy-based ink produces a richer black tone than other inks. Printers are also likely to use water-based coatings and laminates, so you can have nice, glossy marketing media—without all the harsh toxins—that makes a tactical impression on your audience.

If recipients do throw away your collateral instead of recycling, no volatile chemicals are present to seep into the ground water, and everything will naturally biodegrade over time. Some eco-friendly products can even be composted and used to fertilize a home garden.

Print has low carbon emissions
The problem with going paperless is that electronic marketing requires the use of an electronic device. Because most electricity comes from sources like fossil fuels or coal, every impression you make with electronic marketing requires carbon output. That is why online ads actually have a larger carbon footprint than print ads.

Meanwhile, the most carbon output required for print is in the initial printing process, and much of that is created with recycled biofuel. Print’s carbon footprint is made even smaller by the fact that print grows trees, which helps to offset the carbon output of the printing process.

Print lasts longer
Ever held onto a piece of print media because you liked the design, or because it was so well made you couldn’t bear to part with it? People often cherish a creative print design—and the longer its lifespan, the more impressions it can make. That means a lower impact on the environment per each impression.

There’s also a good chance your print design could be reused in some way. Old presentation folders can be useful to have around the house for organizing paper materials, while mailers might be reused in craft projects such as scrapbooking.

Don’t be afraid of print; it can ultimately benefit both your brand and the environment. However, you should still take the right steps to ensure your final product is as green as can be. Talk to your printer to see what your most eco-friendly options are, and encourage your customer base to recycle their discarded print media.

Link to original article.

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8 Reasons Mail Succeeds in a Digital Age

I suppose information on why mail is still a relevant medium from the POST OFFICE is much like information from Dairy Farmer’s on the nutritional benefit’s of milk in that the cream will always rise to the top – oops punny! Have you ever seen a bad stat from the USPS on mail? – I haven’t. But maybe, just MAYBE that is because direct mail really is the viable marketing channel we keep saying it is.

I am sharing this information for the Print & Marketing people who are reading this to pass it along to your clients and such who have either reduced their volume or jumped on the email express and dumped DM from their budgets. I pulled out the 8 reasons, but there is information that accompanies each you can see by clicking the link below.

1. Mail Is Tangible / 2. Mail Integrates Well / 3. People Like Opening Mail / 4. There’s Less Competition in Direct Mail / 5. Mail Builds Loyalty / 6. Mail Is More Sophisticated Now / 7. Mail Helps You Target / 8. Mail Delivers Results

One or more of those should make a compelling argument not to disregard this marketing channel, should the need for a compelling argument arise!

Staying Power of Mail: 8 Reasons Mail Succeeds in a Digital Age

by Allan Nahajewski

…A recent study by ExactTarget, an international company that specializes in interactive marketing, helps illustrate direct mail’s continued relevance. The survey asked consumers to indicate how they would like to receive 11 different types of messages. A headline in ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey screams the results: “DIRECT MAIL LIVES!”

Survey Echoes Recent Research

The ExactTarget study gathered detailed input from 1,481 consumers of all ages on how they prefer to receive various types of information. The choices:

• E-mail • Direct mail • Telephone • Text messaging • Mobile app • Social media

Out of 11 different categories of marketing messages, direct mail was chosen as the most acceptable means of communication in four categories, tied with e-mail as most acceptable in two others, and came in a close second behind e-mail in another four categories.

According to the survey, 65 percent of consumers have made a purchase as a result of a direct mail piece. The survey report provided the following analysis: “In the face of always-on channels like e-mail, SMS and social networks, consumers appreciate direct mail’s tangibility, flexibility and once-a-day pace. It also remains the only channel where unsolicited messages are acceptable to a majority of consumers.”

Link to original article

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Direct Mail Advertising using Canada Post – January Specials

For the month of January 2014 we are offering some incredible deals for launching your own Direct Mail Campaign.  Our services are offered in most built up areas throughout Ontario.

Buy a 15,000 home direct mail campaign and receive an additional 10,000 homes FREE   (1 Time)

or

Buy 3 issues and receive the third issue 50% OFF (6 months)

Rates starting at $0.05 – $0.03 per home

Pricing includes design, printing and postage/ distribution.

We can also do Solo direct mail campaigns for as low as $0.18 per home or business.

Contact me for more information paul@thesaver.ca

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Direct Mail Advertising using Canada Post – January Specials

direct mail

Buy a 15,000 home campaign and receive an additional 10,000 homes FREE (1 Time)

or

Buy 3 issues and receive the third issue 50% OFF (6 months)

Rates starting at $0.05 – $0.03 per home

Pricing includes design, printing and postage/ distribution.

We can also do solo direct mail campaigns for as low as $0.18 per home or business.

Contact me for more information paul@thesaver.ca

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11 EXPERT TIPS TO HELP YOU BE MORE PRODUCTIVE IN 2014

Last year I used a kitchen timer to force myself to focus; I blocked the Internet and email so I couldn’t get distracted; I set an auto-response on my email; I wrote a lot of to-do lists. I even started getting up earlier.

As you can see, I’m kind of obsessed with productivity. Which makes this the perfect place to be because our experts and journalists are constantly coming up with new methods to hack the conventional ways of working.

But trying to wade through so much coverage of how to do things more efficiently can get in the way of actually getting things done. So in the interest of saving you time, we’ve asked some of the most super-productive people with whom we work to share how they manage to accomplish so much:

FOCUS ON ONE BIG TASK AT A TIME
“It’s all too easy to get distracted by ‘work’ that takes up a lot of time and energy but isn’t ultimately changing your trajectory,” says David Rusenko, CEO of Weebly. “We see this all the time–entrepreneurs focus on the minutiae instead of just getting started, and getting something out there.”

ORGANIZE YOUR DAY INTO TIME BLOCKS
Some people are early risers, some are night owls, while others hit their stride mid-day. Ekaterina Walter, CMO at Branderati, and author of Think Like Zuck, advises to figure out when during the day you are most productive then establish blocks of time get more focused work done. “You can even set a recurring email going out to people telling them not to expect an immediate reply to their emails during those times,” she says.

DO THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO DO
“Remember this sentence, tape it to your monitor, tattoo it on your wrist: You don’t have to ‘feel like’ doing something in order to do it,” says Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.

“When I manage to remember that, I’m no longer sidetracked by trying to get into the right frame of mind for daunting projects. Don’t beat yourself up for procrastinatory feelings. Just feel them, and simultaneously direct your limbs to do the work.”

DON’T GET PARALYZED BY PERFECTION
“A career contribution isn’t made in a single ideal moment,” says psychologist and author Art Markman. “It is a collection of good and great moments that add up over time.”

The best project is a completed project he says. “It’s easy to get paralyzed by perfection, but it’s better to get something out the door than to hold onto it for a long time hoping to remove every flaw.”

STAY IN THE MOMENT
If you feel overwhelmed (like pretty much everyone), it might not be because you have so much to do, but rather that you are trying to do too much at the same time, says Douglas Merrill founder of ZestFinance (formerly VP of Engineering at Google).

“If you’re talking to your daughter, talk to her; don’t think about email. You can’t do two things at once–it’s physically impossible for your brain to multi-task,” he says. “Even if you don’t lower your workload, doing one thing at a time will help you do better and, equally importantly, feel better.”

PUT YOUR BRAIN ON AUTOPILOT FOR THE SMALL STUFF
Some super productive people don’t waste their time on the small daily decisions that take up much of our brain space. Prerna Gupta, chief product officer of social music app Smule says she’s able to tackle big picture problems by eating the exact same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. She calls it “reducing decision fatigue.”

WRITE AN OLD-FASHIONED TO-DO LIST
Sometimes the simplest methods are the best. “Every day, I write down the various tasks I want to accomplish and check them off as I go through them and complete them,” said Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School, and author of Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan.

“Seeing the progress makes me feel good and, research says, more productive. It also helps me be a bit more realistic in understanding what I can accomplish every day, and which tasks are top priority,” she says.

GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
“The promises we make to ourselves are easy to break,” says Laura Vanderkam, frequent contributor and author What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. “It’s much harder to call a friend on Friday and inform her that ‘I failed.’” She set up weekly check-ins and which kept her motivated to complete the first draft of a novel in 2013.

DON’T CHECK FACEBOOK
Drake Baer spent most of 2013 writing about productivity, and when he needed a break he says the thing that kept him going wasn’t checking social media or email. Instead, he says he goes for a walk, gets a snack to stave off hunger, or sneaks into a conference room for a brief bit of meditation.

DEAL WITH IT ONLY ONCE
Leo Widrich cofounder of social media sharing app Buffer, says Zen Habits’ author Leo Babauta taught him the following productivity tip that has transformed the way he works:

“Deal with something only once. Do it now. Then it’s off your mind, and you can fully focus on the next matter.”

He says the “deal with it only once” policy works for three of the most nagging aspects of everyone’s day: email, meetings, and requests for help. Answer all as soon as they come up and get them out of the way.

ESCAPE INTO SINGLE-TASKING
Author and entrepreneur Faisal Hoque has mastered the art of doing one thing at a time. In fact he’s so good at “single-tasking,” that he can lose himself mundane task like vacuuming and help ground his focus for his work. “Being in the moment allows us to escape from adversity, conserve our inner energy, and be more consciously productive,” he says.

Link to original article

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Seeking a Small Business Mentor for a new Distribution and On-line company!

We would like to connect with someone that has proven experience in one or more of these areas: entrepreneurial, small business, financial, sales, marketing or HR.

My fiance and I have recently created and launched an e-commerce business. We are a re-seller of consumer electronics complimented with a product catalog of 40,000+ products, most name brand. We offer a next day delivery service on most in-stock products. We also use PayPal to process our transactions.

We have somewhat of a low budget marketing plan at the moment which includes: a blog, a few social media accounts, free listing sites and directories.

We are currently looking at hiring a commissioned sales rep. We have most of the training materials in place; we are working on responsibilities of the position and the pay structure.

It would be ideal for us to find someone that has been involved with building/ structuring a business, handling a commissioned sales employee, creating effective marketing strategies, and improving overall sales.

If you have an interest in assisting with the structure of a small business, would enjoy assisting in creating different growth strategies, and can spare 1-2 hrs/ month we would like to hear from you!

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Direct Mail Marketing vs Other Marketing mediums

With all the different advertising mediums available today it’s difficult to choose the right medium to reach your target market, offer the best ROI and stay with-in the budget.

I am a small business owner and I’m looking to get a better idea on where the best mediums(s) to spend our marketing dollars and efforts for the best results.  Our business is an E-commerce business reselling Printers and Consumer Electronics products (GT Printing and Electronics).

I have created a poll and added a wide variety of advertising platforms.  Please choose all the mediums you are currently spending your time and budget on.  If you use another medium please add it.

Your comments are also encouraged.  What industry do you work in?  Which mediums worked or are currently working best for your business?  Which were not a return on investment.  I am curious to hear different success and not so success marketing experiences.

I appreciate you taking the time and any advice.

 

 

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Quinte area Entrepreneurs get a boost. Small Business help now available.

Local entrepreneurs are about to get a boost from Hasting County.

Hastings County has hired a staffer to provide training and other support services to entrepreneurs within the county. Mary Doyle has been hired as the enterprise facilitation co-ordinator, providing business coaching to new entrepreneurs and existing businesses across the county’s fourteen member municipalities.

“We are pleased to welcome Doyle to our team at the county,” said Hastings County Warden Rick Phillips. “The role that Mary is fulfilling has become quite popular. She won’t have an office, but rather will be out and about assisting budding entrepreneurs and businesses, and they will benefit regardless of whether they are on a main street, in an industrial park or on a back country road.”

The Tweed native and former elementary school teacher, has developed her business experience through managing two businesses of her own.

The success of one of her businesses earned Doyle the coveted “Business Person of the Year” award in 2009 from the Kingston Chamber of Commerce named her “Business Person of the Year.”

Doyle’s first task is to network with as many people, said economic development manager Andrew Redden.

“Since early 2010, we have directly assisted more than 250 entrepreneurs first-hand, helped more than 120 businesses open, expand or remain in operation, and supported the creation of more than 100 new jobs,” he said.

Prospective and existing entrepreneurs can reach Doyle by phone at 613-391-0350 or by e-mail at doylem@hastingscounty.com.

Original Article  – Belleville Intelligencer

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A few tips and tricks for staying positive while searching for a new career

Idealist Careers – Searching for a job can be a formidable task, and whether you’ve been looking for a job for a few weeks or a few years, it’s easy to feel discouraged. However, there are ways to counter self-doubt and make effective strides in your job hunt. Try these four tips for staying positive while looking for your next opportunity.

Create a daily routine.

For many people, losing the daily routine that comes with a job can be one of the most unsettling aspects of unemployment. If you find yourself struggling to stay organized or motivated, or becoming easily discouraged or anxious, implement new routines using your job search as a base. Setting up even a basic routine—perhaps a daily cocktail of one part surfing the want ads, one part networking, and one part researching your field, with a sprinkling of fresh fruit breaks and walks around the block—can really help keep you grounded.

Also, consider devoting a little time each day to journaling about your job search activities. In particular, write about what you do well and how you feel engaging in all aspects of the search. Look for patterns that help you predict when you might feel particularly stressed or down. Note the activities that give you positive energy and incorporate more of them into your routine.

Connect with others.

Think of a few people you know who have recently taken a new job and set up time to chat with them about their experiences. Even if they looked like they navigated the process with casual ease and confidence, you will probably hear a different story. If you ask your friends if they ever felt unsure of themselves, you’ll likely hear some tales of insecurity, worry, and self-doubt. Talking about these experiences can help you remember that a job search is hard on everyone, but that if you maintain a focus on self-care, you’ll be able to get through it. Also consider a job search support group to share your experiences, or even volunteering to develop and maintain new relationships while helping others.

Keep an eye on your health and stress.

It can be tempting to forge blindly ahead despite physical and emotional symptoms of stress, and transition is a time when stress can sneak up and deplete your reserves before you’re aware it’s happening. There are obvious reasons for experiencing stress during a job transition: dwindling finances, pressure from family to get a job, and mounting self-doubt about the chances of future employment. So be proactive: monitor the quality of your sleep, diet, and exercise and talk about the issues that are worrying you. Also, be kind to yourself: it’s not easy trying to put your best self out there, day after day, in difficult circumstances.

Remember that your life is more than your job search.

Your job search should be on the front burner when you’re in transition, but your life is not your job search. Support, discovery, adventure, and connection should be key elements in keeping your life balanced. Remember to stop, take deep breaths, and invigorate your mind along the way. Think of your career transition as one big exercise in self-improvement.

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