Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

To spend time with friends & family,
we will be closed Thursday, November 28th

and Friday, November 29th.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Twice As Effective

Creating a direct mail marketing campaign that includes e-mail outreach is becoming increasingly popular. Adding a QR code to a mail piece makes it interactive and takes the recipient to a web page for more information, to enter a contest, take a survey, or retrieve a coupon. Some QR codes make a phone number pop up on a mobile phone; by clicking, the recipient connects with the sender– effectively completing an inbound telemarketing response.

The shoe company DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) learned something interesting about its clients’ use of QR codes: men like to use them but women often ignore them. DSW found that their male clients don’t like clipping coupons from a mailer and putting it in their wallet, but they will click a QR code for a coupon that downloads to their mobile phone. Women, who are more inclined to clip and save a coupon, were less likely to use a QR code based coupon.

Neighbor Mail

To help businesses with direct mail marketing, the USPS has created a special direct mail program that reaches every home in a neighborhood without needing an address. Simply select one or more postal service delivery routes and your mail piece is delivered to every active address in the route.

This type of mailing is a saturation mailing using the simplified address format. A mailing with these characteristics is very efficient for the USPS to process because it bypasses postage cancellation, address correction, and mail sorting steps and goes straight to the individual letter carrier.

Mailings can be very economical compared to traditional direct mail:

  • No mail list is required. This saves the cost of acquiring a mail list, the cost of addressing the mail piece, and the cost of maintaining the mail list.
  • Small mailings can be quickly produced. Most carrier routes are 400-600 addresses. By eliminating the time to gather a mail list and address the mail piece, and by using digital equipment for printing the mail piece, a small mailing can be in the hands of prospective clients in just a few days.
  • No postage permit is required. Regular presorted mailings require a permit to mail at discounted postage rates. For this special program, the USPS waives this requirement.
  • The mailing panel can be very small. Because the mail piece does not go through normal mail processing, there are few requirements for the location and size of the mail panel (the area containing the return address, indicia and outbound address). Note, however, that there are requirements for the wording of the indicia and the simplified address.
  • The postage rate is the lowest available.
For businesses that regularly mail newsletters or postcards to their clients using standard addressed direct mail, this is a great way to prospect for new clients who are neighbors of existing clients. With all these possibilities, it’s a great marketing tool for many businesses. For more information and to discuss how neighbor mail might benefit your business, contact us at info@creativecharacters.com or (215) 923-2679.

Direct Mail: Your Extra Salesperson

Here is an easy way to add an extra salesperson to your marketing staff: develop an ongoing direct mail marketing campaign. While the goal of advertising is to create brand awareness and a connection to potential buyers, direct mail marketing aims to motivate a prospect to take action and complete a transaction. A carefully planned and executed direct mail campaign can do just that.

Today more companies are turning to direct mail. According to research by IBISWorld published in October, Direct Mail Advertising in the U.S., direct mail is expected to grow 1.4% annually in the next five years. Part of this is due to incentives provided by the United States Postal Service (USPS), such as direct mail that includes QR codes and a special program called Neighbor Mail.

In its Channel Preference Study, Epsilon Targeting found that direct mail is the top choice of consumers for receiving brand communications, even among 18-34 year olds. Other interesting findings include:

  • 26% of consumers said direct mail is more trustworthy than email.
  • 50% of consumers said they pay more attention to postal mail than email.
  •  30% of consumers said they’re receiving more mail that interests them compared to a year ago.
  •  50% said more information is sent to them in the mail, indicating marketers are improving targeting efforts.
  •  The perception that reading email is faster declined among email account holders to 45% in 2011, suggesting clogged inboxes are draining time.

Elements of a direct mail marketing campaign

The basic elements of a direct mail marketing campaign are simple: a mail list, a mail piece, and a schedule. Each element influences the response rate and effectiveness of the campaign.

The Mail List

Of all the elements, the most influential is the mail list. On average, the mail list accounts for 60% of the overall response rate. Design a beautiful mail piece and include an irresistible offer but mail to the wrong audience and the response rate will be disappointing.

Today target audiences expect a direct mail piece to be relevant to their needs or interests. Personalization – such as including information about the prospect on the mail piece, tailoring the presentation of information, or including a targeted message – are ways to demonstrate relevancy. Highly targeted personalization requires additional information (such as buying patterns and demographic profiling) that turns a mailing list into a database.

Any mail list – whether containing only name and address or enriched with transaction and demographic data – must be 100% accurate to be effective.

This means spelling names correctly, keeping addresses current, and ensuring that demographics like age and gender are accurate. We can help you by giving you address corrections we receive from the USPS prior to mailing, but you will have to take the time to update your mailing list.

Mail piece: format, content and design

There is much debate about the best format for a direct mail piece. In the Statistical Fact Book, the read rates for postcards, catalogs, flyers, letters and large envelope letters ranged from 42% for postcards to 34% for letters. Choose a format that is most appropriate for your message. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Post card/self-mailer. Good for a message that doesn’t require a lot of explanation. Use to make announcements (such as moving), build traffic (to a website or a physical location) or complete a transaction (place an order).
  • Catalog. Use when selling lots of products or when photographs are needed to make the purchase decision.
  • Flyer. Good for a general message or announcement, especially when the target audience is prospects rather than clients.
  • Direct mail package. A large envelope with multiple inserts – letter, brochure, order form, response device, etc. Used more for clients or hot leads than for general prospecting.
  • Letter. Use when you want to give a personal feeling to the mailing. Because two-page letters elicit a higher response than a single page, either write a longer letter or include something else – a brochure, an article or a product sheet – to serve as the second page.
  • Dimensional. Contains a gift. Used when the target audience is executive level and the gift is substantial. May also be lumpy mail when the gift is less substantial (like a magnet or notepad).
The content of the mail piece must always include an offer and a call to action. A good offer is relevant to the target audience, promotes only one thing, is time-sensitive (to create a sense of urgency) and is easy to understand. If the purpose of the direct mail campaign is to secure an order, the offer can be product-related (such as buy-one-get-one-free, free trial, premium with purchase, or free sample). If you are trying to secure leads, then the offer should provide a motivating incentive (white paper, free consultation, research results).

When the target audience is consumers, include a coupon. Across all age groups, 70% of buyers respond to a message that includes a coupon.

You may be surprised to learn that the design of a mail piece accounts for only 20% of the response rate. What this means is that unless your target audience requires it, you can keep the design simple. The rule of thumb is that the recipient will invest from 3 to 7 seconds to decide whether to open and read, keep to read later or pass on to someone else, or discard. Use this time to your best advantage by following these tips:

  • Use a large, short headline as teaser copy on the front of the envelope or post card.
  • Stress benefits, not features in the body copy.
  • Make the call to action simple and easy to find.
  • Include contact information prominently but not dominantly.
  • Keep your logo and name visible but not competing with the key elements of the mail piece (headline, offer, call to action).


Direct mail is most effective when mailed repeatedly and regularly. For planning purposes, figure a typical response rate of 1-2% (though this number can change based on many factors). The response rate is cumulative, based on a minimum of three mailings. If your budget allows you to mail 6,000 pieces, the response rate will be higher if you mail 3 times to 2000 rather than 1 time to 6000.

Space the mailings between 4 and 6 weeks apart and coordinate the dates with a supporting e-mail and/or telemarketing campaign. Using more than one marketing channel will improve response rates.

Direct mail is effective

Direct mail is a proven and viable method to communicate with clients and prospects. For help planning and executing a direct mail marketing campaign that gets results, contact Brigid, Marya or Jason at (215) 923-2679 or info@creativecharacters.com. We’ll guide you through the process to bring you success.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What I Learned When Jen Groover Spoke

I had the privilege of going to StartUp Grind Philadelphia last night to hear top media mogul and business expert, Jen Groover, who has been tagged by Success Magazine as the “One Woman Brand”. In case you haven't heard of her, click here for her bio to get an idea of who she is and what she’s about.

Her talk was everything that was promised. It was inspirational, motivational and empowering. One of the key messages she got across last night was that to be successful, you have to know who you, what you’re about, where you want to go and most importantly, know your own value proposition. She wasn’t referring to knowing the value proposition of your business. She meant know your own personal value proposition. She said success can’t happen without this as a solid foundation and I agree.

Jen Groover is a big proponent of consistent, ongoing self-improvement. She said that every entrepreneur needs to be doing some kind of personal growth as an ongoing process. Personal growth is an ongoing process that is imperative to success. It doesn’t matter as much what it is, just that it resonates with the person doing it. It could be Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, Darren Hardey, reading self-help books, yoga, working out with a personal trainer, or voice coaching for instance.

Some key takeaways for me were:

  • Become more mindful. Think successful thoughts.
  • Be comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • Envision your success. See yourself in the success you desire. Say why not me.
  • You can’t be successful without knowing you are worth being successful. You have to know your worth and believe you deserve success to be successful.
  • Your thoughts drive your reality. If you think you will do it, you will. If you think you’re going to make a million dollars this year, you will…maybe not immediately, but the point is you have to think and believe that you will (not can, but will) in order for it to happen at all. Think positive thoughts.
  • All entrepreneurs should do media training. Sound good, look good, and deliver your value proposition successfully to give yourself an edge over the competition. She suggested Jennifer Frederick from Fox News as a resource for this training.
  • Know your own story. Storytelling is a primary way to engage prospects and partners.
  • When you’re pitching a product to a potential investment partner, for instance, help them see the possibilities and success. Paint a picture for them so they will visualize your product solving a problem or filling a need. You won’t win trying to force your ideas or shove your pitch down their throat.
Her website is www.JenGroover.com. She has a Facebook page called The Best You Challenge: Unleash Your Inner Power where she takes you on a total transformation challenge for mind, body and spirit. Every day Jen will challenge, inspire, empower and guide you to reach your goals and live to your fullest potential. I joined The Best You Challenge and I hope you will too.