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Right Brain, Left Brain

"When I grow up, I want to be a direct marketer," said no child ever. Astronauts, movie stars, quarterbacks, ballerinas, even nuclear physicists, maybe. But, direct marketers? Not so much. In reality, however, direct marketing is a career that more people should aspire to. It's a great way to use both sides of your brain — the right side, typically...
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7 Easy Ways to Make Your Creative Brief Work Harder

Between us, the Bs have worked at about a dozen different ad agencies. Every one of them had their own creative brief template. Some were better than others (we have a pretty solid one here at B Direct — let us know if you'd like us to send it to you). Regardless, the format was never as important as the information included and, hopefully, synthes...
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Mailbox Monday

As direct marketers, we know that mystery and suspense can engage recipients and increase open rates. But, we stopped using faux FedEx paks and "official notices" years ago. (Remember 2001 and the anthrax attacks? Stealth marketing was never quite the same after that.) In general, coming right out and saying who you are and what you're selling make...
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Catalogs Dead? Ho ho ho.

They say the average person gains five to ten pounds during the holiday season. Well, here at B Direct, we 're assuming that those stats don't include USPS mail carriers. Those diligent civil servants work particularly hard at this festive time of year. Not only are they on their feet delivering Christmas cards and gifts and fruitcakes, but they're...
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Mailbox Monday

​Let's talk about a dry subject: commercial insurance. As a small business, B Direct gets solicitations from insurance providers almost as often as we get financing offers from banks (almost, but not quite). This morning, we received an unusual package from Progressive. With it's original (and not typically business-y) art and oversized carrie...
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Talking B2B With the Queen B

A couple of years ago, the Queen B was honored to be included in Kim Ann King's marvelous book The Complete Guide to B2B Marketing (Pearson, 2015) . Here, republished with permission is the interview that's included in the book: What does your typical day look like? I founded B Direct (originally as Plan B Marketing Communications) more than 10 yea...
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Mailbox Monday

When you look up "Pep Boys" on Wikipedia, the first thing you'll find is a caution that Pep Boys is "Not to be confused with The Pet Shop Boys," an English synthpop duo from the 1980s. Well, we haven't received anything in the mail from the Pet Shop Boys lately (although their 13th album was released in 2016 and this year saw their Catalogue, a "be...
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Ask, Don't Tell

For your marketing campaigns to work, you must use any and all the knowledge you have of the customer to start the dialogue and then commit to two-way communication going forward. Not once a quarter in a discreet direct mail package. But continually, throughout the year and throughout your relationship with each and every customer. Focus Groups Bud...
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Why Make It So Hard?

The Queen B likes to do her holiday shopping early. A few weeks ago, she passed a store window with a cool gift item on display: a pair of sweatpants with her seaside town's longitude and latitude on them. It was a perfect present for her daughter. The offspring in question loves sweats (what college coed doesn't?). She's going to school out of sta...
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Mailbox Monday

Here at B Direct, one of the things we pride ourselves on is creating direct mail campaigns that work hard. Really hard. Often this means accommodating a variety of browsing styles by including a variety of different types of information.  Some recipients read copy beginning, middle, end. (We love these people, but they are few and far between...
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But Don't Take Our Word for It

​No one appreciates great marketing copy more than we do here at B Direct. But, sometimes copy alone just can't cut it.  You may be addressing a particularly risk-averse audience (the public sector, for example). Or, you may have a new and exciting — but also unproven — product or solution that you're trying to sell. Or, your product may ...
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Mailbox Monday

A typical day in the B Direct mailbox. We received an always massive Uline catalog. We received two different packages from Pitney Bowes, marketing the mailstation2 (an A/B test perhaps?). We received three different packages offering us business loans or lines of credit (Century Bank, American Express, Bank of America). There was a direct mar...
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The Classic Question: To Brand or Not to Brand?

Historically, direct marketing creatives have played second fiddle to brand creatives. As proud representatives of the former, we take exception to that attitude.  We don't see brand as an isolated exercise or execution. The way a customer thinks about — and even more importantly, feels about — a brand is an amalgamation of all of his or her i...
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The Proof is in the Proofreading

It's every copywriter's worst nightmare. After several (sometimes dozens) of rounds, copy is finally approved, type is set, the files go out, the job is printed, and ... there's a typo!  (Cue the slashing/screaming soundtrack of Psycho here.) Typos happen. Maybe the client added a new bullet point at the last minute. Maybe the art director had...
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Mailbox Monday

A few weeks ago, we talked about retailers and how postcards can be efficient and effective ways to promote in-store sales. The Queen B received a postcard this afternoon from one of her favorite retailers: Chico's. We'll set the stage for you. The Queen B has been a loyal (and frequent) Chico's shopper for more than 20 years. She knows their diffe...
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There's No Business like Direct Marketing

This week, the Bs had the pleasure of presenting a session at NEDMA's annual "5 Ds of Direct Mail" symposium. We were assigned the second D, Design, and it occurred to us that infusing a little show business into the presentation would make the morning more fun.  In case you couldn't join us, here's what we talked about ... What business are w...
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Subject Lines: A Few Words Can Make or Break Your Campaign

Email marketing. Love it, hate it, it's here to stay. (Well, at least for now or at least until we all have Google glasses surgically attached to our heads.)  So, let's start at the very beginning: subject lines. When we talk to old school (read, direct mail) marketers about email, one of the first things we do is compare subject lines to some...
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More About Offers Because ... Why Not?

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about offers that generate quality and those that result in quantity. But, whether you're looking for sheer numbers or highly qualified leads, coming up with a good offer can be key to whether your next campaign is a hit or a dud. Like any creative undertaking, brainstorming offers can benefit from a combination of ...
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Mailbox Monday

We stopped recommending "stealth" direct mail packages many years ago. Back in 2001, shortly after the World Trade Center attacks, direct mail marketing was plagued by a terrifying biohealth scare. Two waves of mailings, laced with deadly anthrax, were sent to media locations and members of the U.S. Senate. Sadly, five of the recipients/mail handle...
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Direct Marketing Disasters — Or, Results That Go Bump In The Night

Here at B Direct, we've just launched our new and improved (and, we admit it, overdue) agency website. Anyone who has ever launched a site will agree ... it was a PROCESS. But, with 15 years and hundreds of projects for dozens of clients under our belts, the process was also a CELEBRATION. We've been privileged to work on some fantastic projects, e...
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Digging In to LinkedIn

As professional adult marketers, who grew up in the days of word processors, fax machines, stat cameras, and mechanical boards, it's tempting to criticize or discount social media. But, we'd be ignoring something very powerful, something that isn't going away anytime soon. Nearly 2 billion people use Facebook — and many if not most of them are very...
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Digital Direct: Old Rules, New Rules

The Queen B recently told us, "The other day, I took a survey about media consumption. Among the several dozen questions was one about how much time I spend online for business or pleasure. When I did the math, I was fairly stunned. Granted, I'm in the communications industry. But, I'm also middle-aged; I'm definitely a digital immigrant, not a nat...
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Quantity or Quality? It's All About the Offer.

In direct marketing, it's all about the offer. But, it's also a balancing act between generating lead QUANTITY and lead QUALITY. If the offer is sweet, you'll get response. If it's too sweet, you may get more response — but from people less likely to buy.  Do you want quantity? Or quality? There's no one right answer. Like everything else in y...
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Mailbox Monday

Not-for-profit is quite possibly the most tested segment where direct mail marketing is concerned. We've talked to clients who could tell us exactly what ROI they could expect if they added address labels or a referral slip. Or included a lift note. Or a petition. Or a "To Do" list pad. Today, the Queen B received an impressive package from Save th...
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Integrated Media Marketing: Yes or No?

Wouldn't it be nice if you knew exactly where your prospective customers were at any given time? If you could send out a single message via a single medium and know they would receive it? Sorry. Prospects and customers engage with multiple channels. A lot. Estimates vary, but the average consumer is exposed to between 5,000 and 10,000 marketing mes...
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Postcards: More than Pretty Pictures

​"Back to School," summer savings, a teenager in the house. All of these things mean that the Queen B gets more than her share of promotional postcards from retailers. Brands like Macy's, Nordstrom, American Eagle Outfitters ... and that's just the three we bothered to scan for this post. Online retail sales may be booming, but major stores st...
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Email Marketing: The Long and Short of It

As B Direct goes into its 15th year, there's always something new to learn. But, there are also questions we hear from clients over and over (and over and over). One of these is: How long should an email be? Here's the obvious (and slightly obnoxious) answer: As long as it needs to be. Of course, we know that people are busy, lazy, easily distracte...
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The Unsinkable Iceberg Theory

Developing a successful direct marketing campaign is a little like an iceberg. You know … A mythic disaster. Elegant dinner parties. A sweeping but ill-fated love story. Leo and Kate standing in the bow of the ship. Celine Dion singing "My heart will go on." Actually, we're not talking about that iceberg. We're talking about the metaphor iceberg, a...
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Yes Virginia, Mail (Still) has Merits

Whenever a new advertising or marketing communications vehicle emerges, we hear the same old song … "TV's here. Radio is dead." "The Internet's here. TV is dead." "Email's here. Direct mail is dead." If we've learned anything, it's that people have quite a large capacity for consuming a variety of different messages across a variety of different me...
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If Marketing isn’t “Direct,” Why Bother?

There's more to direct than … well ... direct. At B Direct, we're proud of our direct marketing heritage. But, too often people assume we're a direct mail agency. We are. But, there's more to us than direct mail.  Just like there's more to direct marketing. Direct marketing is media agnostic. Any advertising medium can be direct if it follows ...
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