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Mailbox Monday

Here in New England, it's 30-something degrees out. Not the most frigid temp (and no doubt milder than we'll see in January and February and March and, maybe, April). But, to quote a controversial holiday song, "Baby, it's cold outside."

That's one reason we recently enjoyed receiving a self-mailer from Norwegian Cruise Line.

As we shiver here, diligently direct marketing, our thoughts naturally wander to vacations. And, yes, a cruise does sound nice.

This efficient but engaging mailer starts off on the art side with the promise of a bargain.


On the address side, we have a photo of a family of four strolling the deck of a ship, admiring mountain ranges. They look happy (and functional), and copy under the address area gives us three ways to share their experience; we can book online, call a toll-free number, or contact our "travel advisor." The calls to action here, again, hinting that there's an offer inside.

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Its Time For Holiday-Spirit Marketing

The holiday season is nearing, and some people have very specific ideas of when the appropriate time is to start celebrating and decorating. Let’s take Christmas for example, as it is the same day each year on December 25th.

Some people think that the Christmas season is not allowed to launch until December 1st (the Bs follow this principle; check out today’s date). Others believe it starts as soon as your Thanksgiving meal has been consumed. Still others — including most modern-day  retailers — insist that Christmas can start before Thanksgiving.

Whichever of these descriptors sound like you, it cannot be denied that the Christmas season is upon us. But marketers are different; the holiday season for marketers can start as early as October. In fact, the earlier you can start working on your holiday campaigns, the better.

As far as consumers go, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when the holiday noise and traffic goes on for weeks — or months — on end.

Here are a half dozen tips to make sure your holiday marketing campaigns pop during this season and don’t get lost amongst all the Christmas-Chaos.

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we're big fans of the USPS — as long-time champions of direct mail, how could we be otherwise?

Well, it's that time of year again. Only 34 mailing days 'till Christmas. And, if you think you're busy, just imagine what the workdays going to be like for our trusted letter carriers between now and December 25th. In just the week before Christmas, the USPS delivers 2.5 billion (that's billion with a B) pieces of first-class mail.

Ho ho ho, indeed.

So, to make the most of their busiest season (or to make things a bit more convenient for the rest of us), the  USPS has sent out a trim little self-mailer, which arrived at the agency over the weekend.

The address panel includes the familiar USPS eagle logo, a presort marketing indicia, two certifications for recycling and "paper from responsible sources," as well as a teaser: "Get holiday ready with USPS. See inside."

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Limited Edition Blog: Read Before It’s Too Late!

Did that title draw you in? Are you here now reading this post because it’s a so-called limited edition? Gotcha! You have become the perfect example of what we’re about to talk about.

(Also, by the way, this blog is not a limited edition, and can be accessed any time, anywhere, forever and ever, because — you know — the Internet. But it worked right?)

Have you heard of the phrase FOMO? FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. You might be thinking that FOMO is a relatively new concept with the rise in social media usage. People will see their friends out having a good time and be jealous they’re not having as much fun.

However, marketers know that FOMO has been around for much longer than any social media platform.

Perhaps a better definition of FOMO for marketers is Fear Of (a) Missed Opportunity. Marketers use messaging to create a sense of urgency: “Get this before we run out of stock!” or “50% off, today only!” This entices their audience to act — now — before the opportunity disappears.

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Email Offers: What’s Working Now

No matter how much direct marketing you do (or how long you’ve been doing it), it takes some effort to stay on top of trends — they simply move too fast. That’s why we frequently review and share the research of folks like Jay Schwedelson. As the president and CEO of Worldata and founder of, Jay always has interesting — and relevant — information to share.

Note: this blog is not a promotional piece for Jay and his email series; however, we do find them very helpful and so do our clients. You can learn more from his website Here’s a summary of one of his recent emails that ties in nicely to our marketing offers miniseries.

As we’ve hinted at in our previous blogs, Jay agrees that offers are uniquely and individually different. Each one should have specific expectations and goals. Jay recently reported on current performances of B2B and B2C email offers. And, how the offer is described is as important as what the offer is.

For B2B offers, the top five offers that corresponded with higher percentage increase of click-through action (compared to a generic product offer) included:

  • 2023 Outlook
  • Top # List
  • ‘Most Read’ Content
  • Checklist
  • On-Demand Video

You’ll note that offers that hint at projections for the end of the year are trending particularly well. These include forecasts for the New Year (as ranked #1), but we can also assume that offers that are linked to something along the lines of “2022, A Year in Review” should also perform well in these final two months of the year.

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Quantity of Quality: The Answer’s in the Offer

Welcome back to our mini-series on marketing offers! Last week, we talked about how the first step of creating an offer is to go through detailed planning. One very important part of that process is determining what exactly you want to accomplish.

Think about why you want people to respond. Are you building a list? Or trying to close sales?

Is more, more? Or is less, more?

If you’re striving for the former, use your offer to aim for a high volume of responses. If you feel sheer volume will not equate to high value, use the offer to qualify — and weed out some — prospects.

There is no right answer, as each strategy is different and will generate a different response rate for you. Depending on where you are in the sales cycle, as well as your confidence in your audience, one of these approaches may be more beneficial for you.

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The Best Offers Begin With Planning

B Direct is celebrating its 20th (!) year as an independent, creative marketing agency.


We like digging our hands into data. We like coming up with innovative production strategies. We like getting to know our clients — and their customers — on deep, personal levels. We like so many parts of what we do.

But, we love creative.

For us, creative is king. (Or queen, if you prefer). But, we admit it; the best creative in the world won’t move the needle without a killer offer.

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Mailbox Monday

When someone asks our opinion, we very naturally feel noticed and valued. It's human nature. Research firms use surveys to collect data on everything from shopping habits to political preferences. Marketers use surveys too — not just to collect data (although, clearly, that's important), but sometimes in lieu of a more traditional solicitation. For the recipient, a survey doesn't feel like a sales pitch, which can mean that they spend more time with it and may be more likely to respond.

We recently received a survey package from Wealth Enhancement Group. By asking us to participate in the "2022 National Study on Retirement Planning," they encouraged our participation and also made us question whether or not we were prepared for retirement. The package uses a lot of classic engagement devices, and by the end of the survey, two things happen: 1) they've collected a lot of very valuable data about us, and 2) we've thought about our needs and may have even convinced ourselves that we need their help.

The outer envelope is oversized (6" x 11") and personalized. Although there's a Minnesota return address, the mailer doesn't tip its hand quite yet. We see the official-sounding name of the survey, and some printed alerts that make it all seem important and time-sensitive: "Survey questionnaire enclosed for ..." "Survey number: WEG0122" and a faux-stamped direction: "Do Not Bend" (everything in all caps, of course). The personalized teaser explains, "We are seeking your opinions on important timely issues that could have an effect on your retirement and goals." There's a deadline to reply, and a "FREE Participation Gift" offer. A live (presort standard) stamp completes the picture.

Inside, there's a 4-page insert which serves as a personalized letter which tells us about the survey and plants some seeds about retirement  planning. A color sidebar and the P.S. showcase the offer, a 16-page booklet "7 Things Your Financial Advisor May Not Be Telling You," which adds just enough FUD and a bit of FOMO.

Inside, the survey itself is quite simple and easy-to-follow. It covers demographics, attitudes about retirement, and financial planning, and even some personal financial data. The last question serves as a low-key CTA: "Check here if you would like to l earn more about a free, no-obligation introductory meeting with a Wealth Enhancement Group advisor.

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10 Tips for Social-izing Your Marketing

We all know that social media is an invaluable tool for marketing – although, some marketers may consider it a necessary evil. Because, let’s face it, social media moves quickly and it’s a real challenge to both capture and then retain the attention of your audience.

Don’t forget, no one cares what you have to say unless it is both interesting and presented in an interesting way.

Let’s dive into Ten Tips for Social Media Marketing:

  1. Start With a Strategy – You should never post on social media without a plan. Identify goals and narrow down your audience.

  2. Be Careful, the Internet is Forever – Ok yes, there is a “delete” button. However, what is posted online can almost always be found again, even if deleted. Think twice before posting something that could reflect negatively on your brand.

  3. Play the Game – Take the time to understand the social media platforms your brand is a part of. Your audience will use each of them differently. For example, status updates are for Facebook, not Instagram or Snapchat. Users will be expecting brands to use these platforms appropriately (read: similarly to how they use them themselves). It’s wise to come up with a unique strategy for each platform.

  4. Be Consistent – So, with number 3 in mind, remember that you also need to be consistent in how you present your brand to the world. Although you can and should adapt to each platform, you need to build and nurture an overall brand personality that is consistent across all platforms.

  5. You Can Be Casual! – Make your posts conversational and make use of emojis! Just make sure you do some background research on how the general public uses the emojis you’re choosing, for instance, “🙂” does not mean “happy!” It’s typically used sarcastically for something annoying. (You can thank us later for that mini emoji lesson!)

  6. Be Authentic – Today’s internet users are skilled at separating what is “real” and what is “fake.” The goal is obviously NOT to be considered fake news. Take the time to create genuine content instead of rushing out a piece that could be perceived as fake.

  7. Social Media = Heavy Visual – Social media thrives with using pictures and videos and special visual effects. In a world of short attention spans and ease of scrolling, posts with too many words — and not enough pictures — are likely to cause your content to be glossed over.

  8. Engagement is Effective – Using your social media to create a community of followers that actually consume and engage with your content is more valuable than most realize. Social media is about connecting and networking; your brand’s social presence is no different. Which leads us to number 9 …

  9. Be Social – Once you have some followers engaging with your posts, make sure you engage back with them! Respond to comments, answer questions, and create relationships with your audience.

    And, lastly ...

  10. Don’t Forget to Analyze – Make sure you are maintaining a record of your social media marketing so you can go back and analyze what is working and what is not working. Looking into the statistics of your views, shares, and comments will only help you make better social media posts in the future.
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The Bs' Bookshelf

Author Roald Dahl once said, “If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” Some 700 years earlier, St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Beware of the person of one book.”

Well, the Bs at B Direct would hate to contradict either of them. So, our bookshelf holds several worthwhile volumes right now. Here are some recommendations ...

Using Behavioral Science in Marketing
by Nancy Harhut

Nancy's smart, entertaining book is currently topping "Best Marketing Books" lists across the industry. This step-by-step guide helps readers increase engagement, response rates, and the  ROI of marketing campaigns  by harnessing hardwired consume behavior and instinctive responses. If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing Nancy's keynotes at NEDMA, the DMA, or myriad other conferences, you'll be happy to know that her insight, humor, wit, and wisdom shine through on every page.

Twenty Jobs Twenty Lessons
by Bob Cargill

Bob shares his colorful career, and explains how one talented creative professional evolved from the "Ice Cream Truck Driver" to "Junk Mail King" to "Direct Marketer of the Year" to "Social Media Zealot" and "President of the AMA." Young professionals can take advantage of some of the lessons Bib has learned along the way. And, local marketers will no doubt recognize anonymized people, places, and organizations — which is half the fun.

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Mailbox Monday

Bigger is usually better. In fact, there's a saying in direct marketing: "If you can't make it big, make it red."

But sometimes, bigger isn't better.

Take this neat little package from nonprofit "Best Friends," for example. In a mailbox filled with standard letters, standard credit card and utility bills, and standard catalogs, anything that isn't "standard" is going to stand out.

The envelope's 4" x 6" size not only stands out, it feels somehow more personal and intimate. The teaser on the front "Did you receive your 2023 calendar? Let us know!" reinforces the feeling that these folks know us. And the stamp, rather than an indicia, completes the effect.

Inside, the main piece is folded like a greeting card with a picture of a cute dog in an autumnal setting. Open it and we find a personalized letter that talks about the calendar (the one we should have already received), how important our gift is, and — listed conveniently in at-a-glance bulleted copy — how that gift will be used: for adoption and foster programs, transport programs and shelter support programs.

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In Defense of Direct Mail

With today’s ever-increasing dependency on digital media, it’s safe to assume the days of direct mail marketing are over, right?


Direct mail is still a relevant and invaluable marketing strategy.

Ok, we know what you’re thinking, this blog post was written by B Direct Marketing Communications, of course they want me to believe that direct marketing is alive. And well — yes, that’s true — but, it actually is!

Direct mail is not an outdated marketing tactic. In fact, it is still just as effective as it was decades ago — maybe even more so because people get less postal mail now.

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Shhh … Top Secret Blog Posted Here

Did this title lure you in? It must have! Otherwise, why are you still reading this?

Highlighting the idea of secrecy as a way to entice your audience is a wonderful marketing strategy. It is a proven technique for brands to pique audience interest and capture their attention. It also heightens demand, sometimes for the product, and other times just for the knowledge and topic that is being sworn to secrecy. Because of course, you will want “to be in the know,” and more so, a member of the exclusive club of those who know, you know?

Not convinced yet?

Take a look at Coca-Cola and their secret recipes. The Coca-Cola soft drink is a beloved and popular drink, however, the recipe to make it is a trade secret that is very closely protected.

A natural effect for consumers when they are missing a piece of information is the desire to want to know more. Looking at our Coca-Cola example, lovers of the drink are curious as to what exactly is in the formula, and have theories and hypotheses. It is a good way to capture your audience’s attention and lead them to putting in more work to find out more.

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Mailbox Monday

For the past week, the weather hasn't exactly been amenable to hot tubbing. (Can anyone say, "Climate change?") BUT, that didn't stop a retailer called Mainly Tubs from reaching out with a large, colorful, and very well-executed, overall, postcard.

The art side of the 6" x 9" card has a full-bleed photo of a happy couple soaking in their state-of-the-art hot tub (complete with fountain jets and lots of other bells and whistles). At the top of the card, the sender is noted along with a tag that reads "Hot Tubs • Swim Spas • Saunas." A smaller line beneath advises us that the company is 100% employee owned. This information is a bit hard to read as it's printed over the photo in low-contrast blues and greens. A three-line headline below is reversed out to white and more legible.

"With amazing massage, worry-free water care, and industry-leading energy efficiency, you'll emerge feeling better mentally, physically and emotionally."

The message is good, believable, and compelling. However, it would be more powerful if it was reversed. No one wakes up and says, "I wish I had amazing massage and worry-free water care ..." But, many of us (the Bs included) would like to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally." It's a matter of putting benefits before features — always a good idea.

"You'll feel better mentally, physical and emotionally with amazing massage, worry-free water care and industry leading energy efficiency."

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Summertime and Promotions are Easy

At the time of writing this blog, we are in the middle of yet another summer heat wave. (Don't even get us started on climate change!)

Time to take cover in AC. Or, possibly go to the beach …

Heat waves force us to conserve energy. But that doesn’t mean business has to slow down. Here are some hot  marketing ideas to consider implementing before fall:

  • Weather Based Sales – This one is super relevant during this wave of high temps and high humidity. Some companies offer a discount for when the temperature reaches a certain point, for example, $10 off when its more than 100 degrees outside. Other companies offer sales in store when it's rainy, encouraging people to come inside to take cover.

  • Connect With Customers in Person – When the weather is nice enough to be outside, take advantage and meet current and prospective clients the old-fashioned way: in person. The summer typically sees a plethora of outdoor local events such as street fairs and festivals. (Don’t forget to promote any event you’re attending on social media to capture your digital audience as well.)

  • Make Your Own Event – If there aren’t any suitable events in your area for your business to attend, create your own. This could range from an in-store cheese tasting, to a full-on block party! The possibilities are endless.

  • Host Contests – Encourage personal engagement with your audience by hosting contests that get them involved. An example could be a photo contest on Facebook with the opportunity to win prizes such as discounts or free samples. Benefits of this idea include creating user-generated content on your social media platforms as well as driving more traffic from your online accounts.

  • Collab – Building a new partnership in the summer can help you attract more customers and develop long-term relationships with similar businesses. Win-win for both!

  • Loyalty Programs – If you haven’t already, consider creating a loyalty reward program for repeat customers. If you treat your customers well, they are more likely to return AND offer free word-of-mouth advertising.

  • Seasonal Exclusive Offers – Advertise that you will only be offering a specific service or product for the summer. This will incentivize any interested customer who was on the fence about the purchase to seal the deal.


  • Back to School – Most people fall into two categories regarding back to school. Some dread it (think school-aged children or those with long memories), while others cannot wait for it to arrive (think tired parents or overworked camp counselors). Be confident in your understanding of your specific audience to know how they will feel about the return of school and then market to them accordingly.

Make the most of the rest of the summer season by implementing one (or more) of these ideas into your marketing and promotions strategy. Just because it's hot outside doesn't mean sales have to cool.

Looking for a Rug? Your Data Knows

Do you ever feel like your phone is listening to you? Like you can be talking about buying a rug with a friend in person, and haven’t done anything on your phone to indicate your interest in purchasing a rug, when all of the sudden every ad you see is for rugs?

You’re not alone.

While some say that this feature is convenient, as it cuts down on internet searching to find products, others are concerned about just how much our technology knows about us. Brands have been collecting data on both their returning consumers and prospective future customers for decades — but now it seems more personal.

How does the targeted audience feel about that?

Well, there have been quite a few interesting surveys conducting how consumers feel about brands collecting their personal data. A Merkle report in 2021 concluded that 76% of customers are “comfortable sharing their data for personalization.” However, this same 2021 study reported that just over half of consumers are under the impression that businesses today know too much about them.

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Email Testing 101

As direct marketers, we're all about testing. Without it, really, every campaign is a shot in the dark. If it doesn't work ... bummer. But, without testing, you won't know where it went wrong: the list, the creative, the offer. And, if it works ... great. But, why? You may never know that either.

There are many elements to test in an email campaign:

  • HTML or Text
  • Segmentation
  • Body length
  • Offers
  • Headlines
  • Calls-to-action
  • Response options
  • From
  • Etc. etc. etc.

In fact, there are so many choices, analysis paralysis may set in. It's inarguably easier to do nothing.

BUT ...

If, like us, you respect the process and value of testing, there's an easy way to get started. And, to quote one nun-turned-governess-turned-bride-turned-international-singing-sensation, "Let's start at the very beginning."

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Marketing from A to Generation Z

Gen Z is made up of people ages 10-25. You may be thinking, “This young group isn’t worth marketing to.”

Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Gen Z is an influential, diverse, disruptive, and opinionated generation. Gen Z actually makes up 40% of total US consumers. Not only that, but Gen Z’s spending power is more than $140 billion!

It’s a market you do not want to exclude.

Speaking of exclusion, because Gen Z is so diverse, they are one of the most, if not the most, inclusive generation of all time and — because of this — they will not tolerate exclusion from companies. They will be quick to “cancel” you and your brand if you’re caught in the act.

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Mailbox Monday

The first objective of any direct mail package is to get noticed. As direct marketers, we can accomplish this through the use of an arresting image, bold colors, unusual shapes or textures, an enticing message, or creative personalization. If budgets allow, we can develop and produce a piece that stands out because it's bigger than anything else in the mailbox. Or, we can go the opposite direction and create a package that stands out because it's smaller than anything else.

That's exactly what the Appalachian Mountain Club did recently.

Their direct mail package is a lean, mean, but hard-working little machine. The OE has a window, blind return address, real stamp, and recycled paper logo and line. (Right away, we know they know their audience.)

Inside, there's a 2-color card printed on a natural-looking buff stock. "Be outdoors," it advises, branding Appalachian Mtn Cub with the tag "Since 1876." The card opens to a personalized note from AMC's Interim President and CEO. The note checks a number of boxes. There's a "handwritten" Johnson box (Get Discounts! Protect the Outdoors!), a P.S. that nicely summarizes the offer and highlights a campaign URL. And, although the copy is set in paragraphs (bullets or some bolding would be nice), it's scannable enough due to its brevity.

A color-coordinated buckslip with illustrated forest shapes promotes a drawing for a weekend trip to the White Mountains. It's an attractive offer that not only appeals to AMC's target market, but helps brand the organization even more.

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Reputation Matters

Well-known companies and brands are … well … well known. And while it’s nice to be known well within your industry, or within your regional location, there is another aspect that must be looked into.

What are you well known for? Is it a good thing? Or a bad thing?

That’s right. Reputation matters. Make sure your well-known company is well-known for the right reasons.

It should be pretty obvious, right? Companies with a stronger, more positive reputation perform better. They attract not only more customers and consumers, but also better shareholders and employees. A strong reputation builds loyalty and trust.

Recent research performed by Axios and The Harris Poll looked into brands with the best (and worst) reputations according to American consumers. To conduct this study, researchers first determined the 100 brands that are most recognizable to Americans via surveys among a nationally representative sample of Americans. Then, another nationally representative sample of Americans rated these 100 brands on various aspects of reputation. From these ratings, each of the 100 brands were given a final “reputation score” which ranged from 1 (critically bad) to 100 (excellent). Here are the findings:

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we've always loved postcards. And there are two very good reasons to use them today:

  • They stand out in a crowded mail- or inbox.
  • People's attention spans, which were never as long as we marketers would like, are shorter than ever.

We recently received a full-color and generous-sized (6" x 11"!) card from Square, encouraging us to use their "all-in-one POS for booking, payments, and team management."

The address side includes a small business photo of a barbershop with vintage chairs and — bonus — the company dog lounging on the floor. Teaser copy instructs us to "Turn followers into customer" and continues, "Over 70% of appointments booked on Instagram through Square Appointments are from new customers." A graphic demonstrates that the app is "Available for the front desk or on the go," with images of the app on different devices.

The message side headline reads. "Simplify booking with Square Appointments" and there are two photos of users engaging with the app. Then there's a quite a lot of features and benefit copy. A call to action: "Learn more at" is matched by logo tikes for the Apple AppStore and Google Pay.

All in all, this is a nice campaign. Except for two things:

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Go Green (Green Marketing That Is)

Green marketing is a type of marketing that promotes the environmental consciousness and sustainability of a product, brand, or company.

For example, you might highlight the recycled materials that make up your product’s packaging, or the way the company donates a portion of proceeds to charities that are helping the environment. It’s all about your ability to advertise the environmental friendliness of both the business and the products it offers.

In previous blogs – such as To Make Good, You Have to Do Good – we talk about how today’s consumers want to support brands and products doing “good.” This could be companies that are outspoken on social issues, minority owned businesses, and, you guessed it, environmentally sustainable companies. Green marketing is a great way to make your audience aware that your brand and products are environmentally friendly.

It’s no longer a hope that the companies you are interacting with are committed to corporate responsibility, it’s an expectation. And because consumers have the ability to “do their own research” (not on Facebook, Karen …), companies cannot hide their true colors. Consumers hold them accountable and will boycott if they are not supporting the right causes.

Showing a commitment to corporate responsibility, while pricey, has a big payoff. Brands are noticing that by demonstrating an interest in social, political, and environmental issues, they are attracting new customers and are increasing loyalty among their current customers. In fact, 48% of American consumers say they would be likely to change consumption habits in order to reduce environmental consequences. Furthermore, up to 90% of millennials state they are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

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Marketing’s Most Thankless Job

Let’s talk telemarketing. Telemarketing is a very easy thing to despise as the receiver. And while as a collective, the public hates receiving telemarketing calls, telemarketing remains potentially one of the most valuable strategies for your direct marketing campaign. Here’s why:

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Lower operating costs
  • Increase sales
  • Allows for immediate feedback
  • Encourages connections

And finally…

  • Provide customers with an interactive and responsive experience on a personal level

So how exactly should you go about conducting a telemarketing strategy? First you of course need to do some homework to define your audience, set goals and objectives; but when you’re ready to write up a script, here’s some of the basics for succeeding at marketing’s most thankless job:

  • Get attention
  • Describe the benefits
  • Present the offer
  • Ask for the order
  • Continue to repeat steps 2-4 as many times as the customer allows

It’s important that the prospect receiving the call feels in control. It’s all too easy for them to hang up one you. Keep the conversation flowing and keep the prospect involved. Remember, this call can be a steppingstone to building a relationship with your prospective audience; make it a positive experience.

Let’s imagine we’re building a sales script for a prospect from scratch. You’ll want to have a nice first impression with a strong, friendly opening line. Always introduce yourself and the context of the call. For example, “Hi, my name is Maddie, calling from B Direct.” From here, you can continue to make conversation by asking simple questions of your prospect ranging from “How are you today?” to small talk about the weather (if applicable to a local call).

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When You Can't Create ... Curate

As twenty-first century marketers, we know better than to underestimate the value of content. Some examples include social media, blogs, ebooks, webinars and videos. Planning and preparing this content are key to good marketing. Delivering it to your target audience is another piece of the puzzle. Your goals may be to raise brand awareness, improve trust and credibility, drive consumers to participate — and of course — increase revenue.

When used correctly and appropriately, content marketing can have sky-rocketingly positive results. An added bonus is that content marketing can actually be less expensive than traditional methods, by up to 62%. On top of that, content marketing can also generate close to three times as many leads compared to those traditional methods according to DemandMetric.

However, sometimes you don’t want to have to write up this content from scratch … what’s the solution? Take a break from being a creator and become a curator.

Curated content is content shared on social media that comes from other brands or individual people. Some examples can be links to articles, sharing a social media post, or organizing information from other places into one blogpost.

Allow us to break it down for you:

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I'm So Excited!!!

Did you know that many professionals, particularly younger ones, overuse exclamation points in office emails!?!

Perhaps you yourself are part of this group …

Did you also know that of those exclamation points used in a professional setting, 73% are made by women!?!

Yes!!! A study comparing gender and exclamation point usage in computer-mediated communication conducted by Carol Waseleski found a large majority of professionally used exclamation points are placed by women!!!

Basic grammar lessons teach us that exclamation points are a good way to communicate emotion, create a tone of voice, or simply to describe someone YELLING!!! (All caps work too, as you can see.)

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My, My, My Back to Email

All right, it’s been a nice break to cover other topics, but, we’re now back to talking about what’s really important for today’s direct marketers: email.

Allow us to introduce you to a new acronym in the industry, BIMI. This stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification.

But what exactly is it?

To put it simply, a BIMI allows brands to have a profile picture or logo for email users to see in their inbox. This profile picture or “indicator” will be viewable next to the sender’s name.  

Having a BIMI means that the brand has a verified sender logo. This allows for a boost in the brand’s visibility; the receiver quickly recognizes the brand standing out from other incoming emails. Not only that, the very act of having a BIMI is also helpful for improving trust about the brand.

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Changing the Game for College Athletes

We are nearing the end of March, and as a result, the end of March Madness.

For those who don’t follow college sports closely, March Madness refers to the annual NCAA basketball tournament for both men and women’s teams. It is a single-elimination tournament where teams attempt to win a national championship by continuing to win games three weekends in a row.

At the time of posting, both the women and the men’s teams are down to the final four. The semifinals are slated for Friday April 1st for the women and Saturday April 2nd for the men. Then finals will be held on Sunday April 3rd for the women and the men will play on Monday April 4th.

March Madness is always an exciting time for college athletes and their fans. What makes the 2021-2022 year different, however, is that it’s the first season with new NIL rules for college athletes. NIL stands for Name, Image, and Likeness. This past summer, the NCAA made a rule change that now allows students to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

This was a game-changing moment for young athletes as they now own and can earn money with their personal brand.

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Mailbox Monday

As direct mail marketers, our job one is to get noticed and get opened. There are lots of different ways to accomplish this: develop intriguing teasers, promote a special offer, serve up a solution to a problem, appeal to the heart or the head (or the heart and the head). There's another way to get a mail package noticed and opened, which is trickier.

You can design your package so it looks like it's official and, officially, coming from someone else.

We've all seen the faux FedEx packages or gotten excited because something looks like a check. And, yes, those pieces do get opened. But, the disappointment and lack of trust that's created often (often as in, almost always) undoes the progress you've made. It feels like a "bait and switch," and here's the thing to remember ...

People don't like to feel they've been tricked.

A package we recently received from Next, a small business insurance agency used a number of ploys to seem like something other than a solicitation from ... well ... a small business insurance agency.

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A Matter of Trust

Online purchases have been increasing for multiple years now, and with the pandemic, they skyrocketed. But there are numerous “scams” online to be aware of. When making a purchase, how do you determine if a company or brand is trustworthy?

Maybe you’ll look into customer reviews of the items you were thinking of buying. Or maybe you’ll check the Privacy Policy on the company’s website. Maybe you’ll go a step further and request a free company verification report from

Depending on what exactly you’re purchasing, you may want to be more careful. For instance, with a small purchase, you can take the risk more comfortably than with a larger investment. Regardless, it is safe to assume we all know that trusting who you choose to do business with is very important — which is why trust marketing is important.

Trust marketing is marketing that is intended to create confidence in a brand. It is essential because selling goods and services only happens after trust has been established. If you try to sell a product without gaining the trust of your potential customer, you likely won’t make the sale.

Here are a few various ways to build trust with your audience:

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Our work at B Direct Marketing Communications has always been done remotely and from our respective homes. Nowadays, that’s nothing out of the ordinary, especially given the pandemic’s forced stay-at-home orders and more and more companies moving to remote work or hybrid environments.

But in 2003? When B Direct first began operations? Not so typical.

B Direct has always been a virtual agency which was confusing for clients in the early years. They’d ask “But where are your offices?” Now they get it. AND we didn’t have any hiccups when the world went remote — because we were already there. Business continued as normal.

Of course there are pros and cons to working from home. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reports that 60% of those who work from home feel less connected to their coworkers. But, 60% also find it easier to balance their work and personal lives due to teleworking.

Working from home truly is a balancing act. And, what started as a safety precaution is fast becoming permanent for many workers.

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Mailbox Monday

Traditional direct mail marketers focus on generating demand. Traditional advertisers focus on building brand. At B Direct, we've always argued that the best campaigns can do both.

We recently received a postcard that works very hard to generate demand. Generously sized (6" x 9"), full-color, on a sturdy coated stock, it takes advantage of some tried-and-true promotional techniques.

The art side includes a number of friendly, low-tech illustrations: a dog, a cat, a box bursting with goodies for that dog and cat. There's a bone-shaped pet tag that reads "Your Pet" (kudos if that's just a default and VDP personalization is used of/when they know a pet's name). A corner slice with a faux fold says, "Code on back." Cute copy reads "Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworm, oh my." And the boldest element is an offer, "30% off," that takes advantage of one of the oldest and wisest directives of direct ... "If you can't make it  big, make it red."

The mail and message side wisely uses the "hot zone" above the address area for the offer and an associated redemption code. A headline across the piece reads "PROTECTION FOR YOUR PET" in a handwritten font. The message is personalized by first name (nice!) and promises "Great News <Name>, You are now covered for all flea, tick, and heartworm protection at 30% off exclusive to you." Copy continues by mentioning free shipping, 20,000 products, and a call to action "Stock up today!" There's an 800-number and URL , which are set just like the body copy and, finally, a disclaimer footnote, again set in the handwriting font and all caps.

All-in-all, this is a respectable direct marketing postcard from ... ?

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Mailbox Monday

When beloved actor Betty White passed away just a couple of weeks before her 100th birthday, social media was flooded with memories and tributes. One Twitter user (and super Betty fan) thought it would be appropriate to honor White, who was a lifelong animal lover, by donating to a local animal shelter in her name.

Thus, the #BettyWhiteChallenge was born.

Sure enough, on January 17th, the day White would have turned 100, hundreds of thousands made donations in her name. In fact, it's estimated that nearly $13 million was raised.

The Queen B wanted to participate (the Bs are always excited by creative fundraising campaigns). And, her daughter encouraged her to donate to "Best Friends," an organization that focuses on no-kill solutions including adoption, spay and neuter programs, and advocacy.

This week, we received a handsome "Welcome" package from Best Friends.

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Love 'em or Hate 'em, QR Codes are Here to Stay

QR Codes … You know them, you love them, you hate them.

They're here to stay.

QR, or “Quick Response,” codes are easy, practical, and affordable for advertisers and business owners alike. And super simple for customers. Simply open your camera on your smartphone, hover it over a QR code, and voila! It sends you to a link containing all of the information you need. This could be for a product, an event, a form to fill out, or lately, a restaurant menu.

That’s right, it has become increasingly more common — thanks to the pandemic for jumpstarting it — for restaurants to have QR codes in lieu of a hard copy menu. In the early stages of 2020 when we knew very little about COVID, restaurants that were able to be open traded their paper menus for electronic menus. This was to cut down on surface exposure from the virus. However, don’t be surprised when restaurants continue this practice even after COVID.

There are many incentives for restaurants to keep their menus digital. For one, it eliminates the cost of having to print menus and maintain them. Another is that digital menus are much easier to update and change than a hard copy. Bitly President Raleigh Harbour notes that restaurants are now “able to adjust their menu offerings on the fly to account for elements like inflation, fluctuations in food and commodities prices, and other variables.”

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B2B, Socially

We recently discussed social media marketing and just how valuable it is to reach customers. A new Marketing Mix Survey done by SageFrog offers more insight that we thought we should share as well. SageFrog performs this study annually, with this year’s edition being its 15th anniversary.

Here are a handful of their key findings:

  1. The results this year are very similar to last year’s
    Online and digital marketing are more popular than traditional in-person events and tradeshows. This is understandable as a clear effect of the pandemic, remote work, and community quarantines.
  2. Marketing budgets are continuing to rise
    A majority of businesses are reporting allocating more resources to spend on marketing.
  3. Social media marketing spending is #3
    Social media as we have said, continues to be an extremely important part of the mix. 75% of B2B marketers use paid social media marketing. Which is why it’s no surprise that social media ranks so high for marketing spend. Those above it include website development and digital marketing as #1 and #2, respectively.
  4. Investing in social media is paying off
    While referrals are still the most reliable method for new leads, less and less professionals are having to rely on referrals as social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook offer new, more sophisticated ways to attract and engage with potential leads.

So, where are B2B marketers turning?

  • LinkedIn 85%
  • Facebook 71%
  • Twitter 61%
  • Instagram 49%
  • YouTube 45%
  • Pinterest 8%
  • TikTok 7%
  • Vimeo 7%
  • Snapchat 2%
  • Only 2% of those surveyed don’t use social media at all.

The main takeaway point from this study is that social media marketing is continuing to increase in popularity and spending — even for B2B marketers. And while more marketers are using LinkedIn due to its trustworthiness and B2B focus, Twitter is where we see the most engagement.

Social is the place to be for B2B.

B2R, Where B2C Meets B2B

Traditionally we think of marketing as either B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business). And, traditionally, as direct marketers we send B2C to people at home and B2B to people at their office or other place of business.

Promotional or “premium” items have always been a favorite — and very responsive — tool for us, especially when the budget allows us to give them away for free. (We call them “freemiums.”) They help our direct marketing stand out from other, ordinary mail. And they help us buy “real estate” in B2C prospects’ homes (think refrigerator magnets) or B2B prospects’ offices (think desk toys). Personalized items — if you have confidence in your list — are particularly effective. After all, who wouldn’t hang a movie poster in their cubicle, starring … them?

BUT, since March 2020, millions of potential customers have been conducting business from home. This creates a potentially challenging scenario. How do we categorize what we are sending them?

Think of them as a new category: B2R or business-to-remote worker.

If you want to grab the attention of today’s B2B-at-home audience and stay top-of-mind, try sending a promotional item that’s perfectly suited to their new — virtual — workspace.

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Mailbox Monday

It's always interesting to see self-promotion from firms that do some or all of what we do. For example, we just received a big, bold self-mailer from 99designs, a division of Vistaprint. If brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit, the folks at 99designs are very witty. They also seem to be big on design and not so much on direct mail.

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The self-mailer measures 6" x 9" folded and it's on a nice, coated stock. The fold, unfortunately, is quite crooked, but we aren't taking points off for that (although 99design's parent company is a printer, so maybe we should). The cover includes a full bleed illustration of a bright red sky, a couple of purple planets and an office complex on the surface of what we assume is Earth (?). A quote appears front and center:

"Everything is designed.
Few things are designed well."

This is attributed to Brian Reed and "This American Life and S-town," which turns out to be a podcast. (Thank you, Google.) But honestly, even if we had heard of it, the attribution is nearly impossible to read. Tiny type, reversed out, and italicized. We agree with the actual quote (any self-respecting designers would), but if you're going to assert something like this, you have to be very careful that your own design is ... well ... designed well. As marketers, and specifically direct mail marketers, we have to ensure that the design makes a piece easy to read.

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Face the Fact, You Need to Get Social

As marketers, we are well aware of the impact social media has on brands. Yet, we’re always surprised by how many old school marketers (and yes, after 20 years in business – not to mention at other businesses beforehand – the Bs are proud to be old school ourselves) don’t embrace it.

C’mon people, get social already!

Of the numerous social media platforms available to users, Facebook still stands out. And while Facebook has had a fair share of controversy in the last few years between privacy issues and spreading misinformation (specifically tied to the 2016 presidential election), the shear power of its numbers cannot be ignored by marketers. To name a few…

  • More than 2.9 billion active monthly users
  • More than 1.9 billion active daily users
  • Ranks 1st as most active social media platform

Billions of users are a lot of people. Let’s put it into perspective; the 2.9 billion active monthly users equate to roughly 37% of the entire world’s population. Marketers need to be online to reach these people with effective Facebook ads.

Here are some things to keep in mind (and, if you’re a marketer, they should sound familiar):

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Mailbox Monday

Direct mail can run the gamut from sensational (3D packages, lenticular artwork, pop-ups and inflatables) to ho-hum (form letters, plain text postcards, jury duty notices). As agency creatives, we would normally assume that direct mail coming from a local municipality would fall into that second yawn-inducing category. The same assumption would be made if we were told that a direct mail package was being sent as a public service.

Well, in the case of a self-mailer we just received — from the Town of Natick, MA, promoting addiction education, prevention, and recovery — both assumptions would be wrong.

The 12-page booklet is informative, useful, engaging, and filled with sleek design choices and graphics. Visually, it begs to be read .

The cover incudes a word wall of concerning community issues: Substance Use Disorder, Addiction, Stress, Underage Drinking, Vaping, Driving Under the Influence, and more. Inside, a Welcome panel communicates a sense of urgency, alluding to how COVID-19 affected community mental health. There are photos of program volunteers and participants, as well as logos from affiliated organizations. Natick 180 is positioned as "One community, together."

Inside, content is organized in digestible chunks and punctuated by eye-catching graphics and digital calls-to-action. Current statistics add credibility and immediacy, while tools and tips help the recipient take action in their own household — whether that's preventing their own overdose or recognizing self-destructive behavior in others. There's a directory of state, national, and local resources. While the subject matter is serious, the design is user-friendly, easy to absorb and put to use, and non-judgmental.

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The Last Word (on Lame Words)

In last week’s blog we talked about resolutions for 2022, and things we should incorporate into our marketing for the new year. This week, we are going to give you a list of things not to do in 2022, specifically a list of phrases to avoid using at all costs.

Outlawed Phrase Number 1: “At the end of the day”

As Lake Superior State University notes, this phrase was originally banished over 20 years ago, and yet, “the day still isn’t over for this misused, overused, and useless expression.” Take it out of your vocabulary.

Outlawed Phrase Number 2: “Here’s the thing”

This is a filler phrase, you don’t need to introduce the possibility of there being a thing, just say the thing!

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The Six Cs: Marketing Resolutions for 2022

We made it. Happy New Year!

We all know what that means, it’s time for making (and breaking) our New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, did you know that nearly 80% of New Year’s Resolutions don’t make it past February? CNN research found that close to eight out of ten people will abandon their resolutions within two months – and that’s just people who will admit to it!

With a fresh start to the year, it’s natural to think up some new goals to work towards. We’re here to give you a few marketing resolutions to make this year, goals that are so crucial, you’ll want to aim for them 12 full months or more.

We call them the six Cs.

Resolution #1: Connect With Customers

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If You Write It, Will They Come?

Content is one of the most important and valuable tools we have today as marketers. Content needs to be great. We advise adhering to the 3 Rs. Your content must …

Be Relevant to audience

Feel Real, honest, and authentic

And Resonate; it needs to touch the heart, the head, or better yet both.

But, you can write the best content in the world and if no one sees it, you just wasted your time.

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Mailbox Monday

It's that time of year again! Mailboxes are stuffed with Christmas cards and catalogs (alas, more of the latter than the former). And local retailers and service businesses send postcards encouraging us to do our holiday shopping with them.

This week, we received a generous-sized postcard from Elements Massage. To be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Don't get us wrong. The Bs like a massage as well as the next person. In fact, a gift card for a massage (which is what the postcard is promoting) sounds like a pretty fabulous gift. The offer was attractive too: Buy One, Get One 50% Off. And, as already mentioned, the card was oversized: 5.5" x 11".

So, what's wrong?

Pretty much everything else.

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You'd Better Watch Out ... Holiday Shipping Deadlines Are Looming

You may remember our well-received December 2020 blog post, "Special Delivery and Seasonal Delays." Back by popular demand, we have an updated 2021 version of delivery time schedules for you.

With direct marketing, we always want to ensure that our mailing pieces arrive at an appropriate time for the offers and promotions to be relevant to our audience.

But on a more personal level, we definitely want our holiday presents to arrive on time. Many organizations are understaffed these days, which could cause delays. Here’s a look into deadlines to get your packages delivered before December 25th:


Dec. 15: USPS Retail Ground Service

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You'll Never Know Dear, How Much I Love You (Please Don't Take My Smartphone Away)

For many of us — actually, for more than a billion of us — our smartphones are our life line. Mobile phones keep us connected, of course. However, smartphones do so much more than just make calls and send texts. We can send and receive emails, get access to social media and networking sites, and even have options to video chat with our contacts. With smartphones’ ability to access the internet, they are basically a mini computer in your pocket!

If you think about it, consumers use their smartphones for all walks of life. (Quite literally … because there is a built in GPS app to help you get from place to place). Smartphone owners use their devices for both business and pleasure. There’s an app for just about anything you can think of, ranging from business tools, to games, to music and entertainment, to finding parking spots for your car, to banking online.

It’s pretty clear just how easy it is to be on your smartphone all day isn’t it?

Now let’s think about the effect dependence on smartphones has in a business setting.

For example, the power that social media holds is extremely strong. It’s easier than ever to reach your customers and clients on a variety of different platforms. But, this goes beyond just being able to reach your audience; social media allows businesses to form a relationship with that audience and instantly, easily interact with them in a genuine two-way conversation.

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Email Now: What's Hot, What's Not

As we head into month 22 of the pandemic (omg), many people are still working from home. This has made it difficult for B2B marketers to leverage one of their most powerful tools: direct mail. In fact, we've never relied on email quite this much.

But email comes with its own challenges: the greatest (as in the worst) of which is that it takes a fraction of a fraction of a second for your recipient to hit "trash." (At least with direct mail, they have to walk from their front door to a trash can.) You have to capture each busy and over-marketed-to person's attention in a flash.

And, subject lines can make or break you.

Fortunately, the response marketing company Worldata runs continual tests on subject lines, determining in near real-time what's hot and what's ... well ... not.

Some like it hot — these words increased open rates in the last 60 days:

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we love postcards. And we've designed hundreds over the years for clients in retail, healthcare, high tech, financial services, education, and nonprofit. They're a great choice for multiple reasons. They're quick and impactful, perfectly suited to today's diminishing attention spans. They're economical in terms of paper and postage. Their real estate can be cleverly used for product photos, features and benefits, special offers and promotions. And, they give you a chance to establish a brand; we often compare the to mini billboards in your mailbox.

They also challenge creative teams to think about clever copy and engaging artwork, without falling back on extravagant budgets or whiz-bang production tricks.

Yes we love postcards ...

BUT, there are certain rules that need to be observed, whether you're developing a postcard or a multi-component 3-D package, And, one of the most important is readability. Because the truth is, no matter how brilliant your message is, if it's too difficult to read (or even just perceived to be too difficult to read) ... guess what? It won't be read. And, that's a waste no matter how much or how little you just spent.

Case in point, we just received a postcard from Ooma Office. It's a generous 6" x 9", full-color, on fairly nice stock.

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Smarketing: Disarming the Enemies Within

Famous and well recognized rivalries are everywhere. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Ohio State and Michigan, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

You probably know the name of your organization’s biggest rival. But what about rivalries within the organization? Sales and marketing are infamous for  — shall we say — not playing nice together.

Marketing says, “Sales doesn’t follow up with the leads we provide.”

Sales says, “The leads Marketing provides are garbage.”

But, maybe marketing and sales professionals should take a lesson from the Capulets and Montagues — that rivalry doesn’t end well. Collaboration and teamwork can be more valuable to both parties.

These days, it’s more important than ever for marketing and sales to be aligned with each other. Customers expect to deal with a single, united company — not two competing departments. While each may be a separate entity that works independently, communication between the two is invaluable for the company as a whole. Historically speaking, sales and marketing are not known for having good communication with each other. However, when they come together as teammates, instead of competitors, they are both much stronger for it.

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Ghosts, Ghouls, and Frightening Marketing Fails

Halloween is nearly here, and whether or not your spooky season has you approaching things with caution, we recommend staying far away from making marketing mistakes.

Some marketing campaigns are pure genius, getting the audience to engage with the material and drive a positive action to either buy from or interact with the company. While we always strive for campaigns like these, sometimes marketers make mistakes and miss the mark completely. Such campaigns are not only misguided but cause complete catastrophe when the material pushes the envelope too far.

The results may be offensive to customers and can quite literally, bury the company alive.

Here are (unlucky) thirteen so-bad-they’re-scary marketing fails to keep you awake at night:

  1. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Commercial: This commercial showed reality star, Kendall Jenner, successfully mediate a protest with police officers and Black Lives Matter protesters – by simply offering a police officer a can of Pepsi. The outrage from this commercial was seen near and far, and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. tweeted a photo of her dad with the caption “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi.”
  2. Audi’s Chinese Wedding Commercial: Aired in China, this car commercial shows the mother of the groom checking the bride to make sure she’s acceptable for her son before giving her approval. A tagline at the end reads: “An important decision must be made carefully.” While this is true for a car, the commercial objectifies women and is also offensive to Chinese culture.
  3. Adidas’ Boston Marathon Email: Four years after the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 250, Adidas sent out an email to all customers who participated in the race. The subject line read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” We think you’ll agree this was in historically poor taste.
  4. Levi’s “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”: For a new Curve ID jeans marketing concept, Levi’s incorporated the slogan “Hotness comes in all shapes in sizes,” except, the only models shown for this concept were skinny. Are you sure you agree with your own slogan, Levi’s?
  5. Walmart’s “Fat Girl Costumes”: In 2014, Walmart had a shopping category on its website titled, “Fat Girl Costumes.” The costumes found here were for plus sized women and girls, but the insensitivity in the naming and categorization was understandably very hurtful.
  6. U2’s Free Album on iTunes: Also in 2014, Apple gifted a free copy of U2’s album “Songs of Innocence” to everyone with an iTunes account. However, many people were less than thankful. In a critique, the Washington Post called the incident “rock-and-roll as dystopian junk mail.” Ouch.
  7. McDonald’s #McDStories: To encourage feedback and engagement with their customers, McDonald’s created the #McDStories hashtag so that customers could share their experiences. Unfortunately, many people used the hashtag to share their poor experiences with the restaurant such as finding their food uncooked or badly prepared.
  8. Wii’s Hold Your Wee for a Wii Contest: This contest was set to award the Nintendo Wii console to the participant who could drink the most water without going to the bathroom. Sadly, consuming too much water can be dangerous. A 28-year-old contestant actually died as a result.
  9. Bloomingdales’ Date Rape Ad: The ad featured a man looking at a laughing woman with the caption “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Um, what does this have to do with a department store? And more importantly, why is a department store encouraging spiking drinks?
  10. Budweiser’s Date Rape Slogan: Here we go again. Budweiser had a slogan that went along with their #UpforWhatever campaign reading, “The perfect beer for removing the word “No” from your vocabulary for the night.” A beer company should not be admitting to taking away the ability for someone to say no! Dudes, it’s called “Consent?”
  11. Kraft’s “Send Noods” on National Noodle Day: What was meant to be a funny marketing campaign, quickly got accused of being inappropriate when people were making the connection between “noods” and nude photographs – especially considering a target audience of the brand is children.
  12. Dominos’ Karen Ad: Dominos offered all (nice) Karens a free pizza in both New Zealand and Australia in 2020 by citing that it’s a “tough time to be a Karen.” While the ad did well in Australia, it did very poorly in New Zealand where customers were upset that an overprivileged white woman (what Karen is typically associated with) was getting more free stuff handed to her.

    AND, finally ...

  13. Giant Foods’ Holiday Ad: Just last year in 2020, the supermarket chain Giant Foods, had an advertisement reading “Hosting? Plan a Super Spread” …um…definitely not the message you want to put out during a global pandemic…

From all of us at B Direct, we hope you have a safe Halloween and steer clear from these marketing nightmares!

Mailbox Monday

It's an old show business adage: "Never work with children or animals." The gist is that they'll upstage you every time.

However ... nothing works quite as hard as children and animals in fundraising direct marketing, as evidenced by a recent solicitation we received from Salem Hospital, now part of Mass General Brigham. The package is pretty simple, but packs an emotional punch. We'll explain how.

The generous 6" x 9.5" outer envelope incudes a teaser line: "What's new? (A lot, actually.)" We like the oversized proportions and the conversational teaser. It's paired with a screened back color photo of a masked caregiver holding a masked child. Although the subject matter is still timely, and the artwork does make the package stand out against other mail, the ghosted image feels dull and dated. (We created a lot of similar packages for long-term care insurance in the early 90s. Suffice it to say, we were very very young at the time.)

Inside, the package is missing a brochure, which surprised us at first. But, we soon realized that the letter was working overtime to make up for it. The personalized, full-color letter includes a compelling message from the hospital's president and a persuasive P.S. We learn that the team at Salem Hospital "still go above and beyond in providing expert medical care along with access to some of the worlds most talented specialists." We're told that "A healthy hospital is a vital part of a healthy community." And, we're assured that "Our name is new, but as you can see from Noah's story, our legacy for exceptional care goes on."

And that's where the package really shines: Noah's story.

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Data and the Give-to-Get Ratio

Consumers want to get more than they give

If you’re a regular reader on our blog, you’re aware of how often we talk about doing your homework as a marketer. We always encourage collecting more data and analyzing the data to better suit your marketing strategy and reach your ideal, target audience — in the way that they want to be reached.

After doing the initial research to find the ways our consumers want to be reached, we must also look at what we are offering our consumers at each individual point of contact.

For example, an email address is the data point consumers most readily release to marketers. 66% of consumers polled by Charney Research and Toluna don’t mind sharing their email address. Because a majority of people are willing to give companies their email, what they get from the company via contact by email, can be relatively low value. On the other hand, only 25% of consumers are comfortable giving a company their religion. Due to this, if a marketer is going to ask for that information, the reward or incentive offered, should be substantially larger than the reward or incentive offered to those who only gave their email address.

The overall takeaway point here is that as marketers, we must make sure that our consumers are getting more than they’re giving. Whether they’re giving their email address, personal information, browsing history, or demographic data, we must be giving them more than that in whatever incentive, discount code, or priority status we are offering.

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For creative marketing that really works, it’s time for B Direct.