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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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Don't Just Improve Your Marketing, Augment It

In today’s entertainment, we’re seeing more and more examples of virtual reality. Virtual reality is how we describe the environment presented to us in the unique way that makes us feel as if we are actually there. This is done by stimulating our senses in a particular way so that we, as the audience, believe the artificial environment is a real environment.

A few examples are virtual reality tours of museums and art galleries and virtual theme parks. The British Museum, for instance, offers virtual visits to their exhibitions from anywhere around the world. Using a VR headset, people are able to engage with the material on display from the comfort of their living room. While this was first launched in 2017, it’s easy to imagine its increased value over the last year and a half due to quarantines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similar to virtual reality, augmented reality is an interactive experience featuring an enhanced version of the physical environment through the use of technology. Computers (including tablets and smart phones) are able to highlight and enhance objects within the environment by using digital effects to target sight and hearing senses.

As entertainment, augmented reality is becoming more and more trendy. For example, there are different lenses you can take Snapchat pictures with, a popular one being dog ears placed on the user’s head and a tongue that comes out when they open their mouth. Another example is the hit 2016 mobile game Pokemon Go. In this game, players chase after Pokemon characters that they find by visiting physical locations; Of course, they can only collect them virtually.

And, as you may have guessed, augmented reality is also a growing trend for marketing.

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Mailbox Monday

Offering a financial incentive (that would be "bribing" to us laypeople) to switch banks is nothing new. In fact, we've worked on dozens of packages for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch that followed exactly that strategy.

So, when we received this simple three-panel self-mailer recently, we recognized the campaign's objective.

The mail side includes the logo and return address of the sender, in this case Citizens Bank. There's a teaser which reads "Exclusively for you — get up to $700 on us" and the warning that "Offer ends 1/18/21."

So far, so good.

The art side or cover of the piece uses a handwriting font in black and green to proclaim, "YOU'RE MADE READY FOR $700." eye-catching? Yes. Confusing? Also, yes. What does "made ready" mean? We looked it up in case it was some millennial or gen Z slang that we, being young boomers (but boomers nonetheless) didn't get. The closest thing we could find was the past tense of "make ready" and a Biblical reference: "The steps of a good man are made ready by the LORD."

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Mailbox Monday

Nothing is more disappointing to a marketer than a missed opportunity.

And nothing is more disappointing to the Bs at B Direct than the seeds of a concept that aren't brought to full fruition.

So, we were disappointed to recently receive an otherwise solid self-mailer from ezCaterer, a B2B company that promotes itself as the "#1 site for business catering. There's good news and bad news. We'll start with the good.

The two-panel piece folds to 6x9, a nice generous size, and its full-color photography and relatively substantial stock help it stand out from other business mail. The address panel (where most people look first because ... well, we all love seeing our name in print) works hard. There's an attractive offer — a $50 Amazon Gift Card — and three at-a-glance bullet point benefits, presented with icons: 80,000+ restaurants, 187,000 "COVID-smart boxed lunches, options for any occasion. There's also an appealing photo which breaks up all the type, although we would suggest using that "hot spot" above the recipient's name and address for the offer or a bold call-to-action.

Inside, there's well-organized information and a nice use of white space. There's a glowing testimonial from California's "Spencer T." There's a list of familiar restaurants, presented with logos and paid off with a call-to-action. Then, on the righthand panel, there are screen shots of the ezCater platform on both a mobile and a tablet, alongside a list of features and benefits, again with contemporary, eye-catching icons.

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Finding the Perfect Thing (or, At Least, Something) to Say

A poet (especially one who is independently wealthy) can wait until the muse strikes or they find the perfect word. But, marketing waits for no one. Marketing people have to produce, whether they’ve been mused or not. Blogs must be written, social must be posted, ads must run.

So what do you do if you experience writer’s block?

Marketers, here we have a baker’s dozen of ways to get over it (and get on with it).

  1. Seek Inspiration – Take yourself out of your writing habitat to distance yourself from the material. Perhaps you can find something intriguing, whether that be an item, a phrase, or a feeling, to light the spark.
  2. Do Some Research – Researching can be a helpful tool to get the writing process started. When you know more about a subject or topic, you’ll have more material to work with.
  3. Eliminate Distractions – Finding the focus you need to write will be easier without having distractions surrounding you.
  4. Take It Easy – Cut yourself some slack on your first draft. In order to have the perfect words, you need … words. You can always go back later on to edit and revise.
  5. Make a Word Map – Think about this as an outline, or a starting phase. Coming up with individual words or ideas that you want to have in your content can be a helpful planning tool.
  6. Take a Shower – You know how sometimes you make life decisions or have brilliant ideas in the shower? Maybe you can use this to your advantage and find what you’re looking for!
  7. Reread Something You Already Wrote – Remind yourself that you’ve gotten through writer’s block before, and you can do it again. Reading your own voice might initiate new thoughts and words for you to write out.
  8. Changing Your Scenery – A change in your physical location might be enough to be able to push through the block. If not, you could also try…
  9. Changing Your Writing Tool – Maybe writing on a keyboard isn’t working for you today, but you could be able to get words out by writing on with a pen and paper. Worth a try.
  10. Talk To Someone – Talking through your writing block and what you’re trying to get out could open up the door to actually writing. It’s helpful to bounce ideas off a friend, coworker or family member. They might be able to help guide you back to the document.
  11. Write About Something Else – This is a good way to get yourself started and find that writing rhythm, which may make it easier to write the actual piece you need.
  12. Take a Break from Writing – Try allowing yourself to take a break and step away from your computer. Maybe a brisk walk around the block will help wake you up and get the creative juices flowing! But…
  13. Don’t Avoid Writing – For some, the process of writing out sentences on a keyboard can help get the ball rolling. You can always go back later to edit your piece and delete the parts where you were finding your rhythm.

The takeaway here: great writing has to start somewhere, so just start. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first try. That’s what revisions are for.

Email Subject Lines: Using FOMO to Your Advantage

FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out.

The term is usually used to describe people's response to social media posts. As in, "OMG, look how much fun they're all having ... and I'm missing out!" It's the bane of the middle schooler's existence and strikes a chord with us grownups whenever we see someone post about their latest promotion, prize, or publishing deal.

FOMO is no fun. But, FOMO can be your friend. When you use it to your advantage.

Whether we knew the acronym or not, direct marketers have leveraged FOMO for years. Think about the most familiar (and, let's face it, hokiest) DRTV offers, and they reek of FOMO ...

"Act now!"

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In the Aftermath of Ida

By now, we’ve all seen the pictures or videos documenting the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, ranging from roofs being blown off buildings in Louisiana, to flooded New York City subway stations, to tornadoes in New Jersey; the storm was devastating for thousands of citizens from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Damages range from power outages, to damaged property, to lost homes and lost lives. Over a million people in Louisiana lost power, and as of today, nine days after the fact, 430,000 people are still without power. Entergy Louisiana even stated that it could be upwards of three weeks before areas hit hardest by Ida will have their power restored. We don’t yet know the number of homes lost, but we expect it to be a high number as thousands of residents were displaced by the storm. The hurricane killed at least 13 people in Louisiana and killed at least 50 more in other states as it travelled further north bringing tornadoes and historic flooding.

The effects of this storm are extremely costly, estimated “well into the tens of billions,” according to Steve Bowen, a meteorologist at reinsurer AON. But the Green New Deal was too expensive to pursue right? (Looking at you, United States Senate).

How can you help the relief efforts? How can your business help the relief efforts?

Here are some funds to consider donating to:

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Mailbox Monday

William Schwenck Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) wrote, "The punishment fits the crime." In marketing, we say "The medium fits the message." So, what do you do if you're designing a package to sell a credit card with a $695 annual fee? You pull out all the stops!

And, that's just what the creative team did for the direct mail package we received over the weekend.

To start, the package is a liberal 5.5" x 9.5". A little oversized, but sleek. "You're pe-approved" reads a teaser on the address side, along with the familiar figure of a Roman centurion in silver ink. The back of the package has an elegant die-cut flap with several promotional messages. "Get back to life with the new platinum," it reads, leveraging everyone's desire to end pandemic era isolation. We're offered "150,000 Membership Rewards Points" and "10X points at restaurants." There's subtle American Express branding: their logo and updated theme "Don't live life without it." And one other very strange message: "With access to our Centurion Lounges, you'll be able to enjoy the American Express Signature Scent. Open here to get a sneak peek!"

How you "peek" a scent is a bit puzzling. But, we were certainly intrigued enough to open.

Inside, the piece, which turned out to be an elaborate self-mailing folder, offers a QR code, an image of a platinum card, an aspirational photo of two men poolside, and the aforementioned "signature scent." Using "scratch and sniff" printing, the piece did indeed encourage that extra bit of interactivity. However, when we "gently rubbed" the prescribed area, all we smelled was ... paper.

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TikTok Time

If you’re under the age of 30, feel free to skip the following two paragraphs:

For those who don’t know the crazy popular social media app, TikTok, it is a video-sharing platform. Users are able to create their own video, film on top of pre-existing sounds, add special effects, “duet” another user’s video, comment on videos, and share them across both the app and other social media platforms.

The app champions both creativity and collaboration and resonates particularly well with younger generations. Those who use the app can find themselves spending long periods of time engaging with content as typical users spend roughly 52 minutes a day on the app. And with an estimated 680 million monthly users, TikTok has been expanding into one of the fastest growing social media apps in its four-year history. The potential for reaching millions by advertising on TikTok is something to consider. Just make sure you market wisely.

We’ve discussed in the past how important it is to engage with your audience; TikTok is a great way to stay connected with your customers and attract new ones to your brand. Brand presence on the app can be powerful and with companies being able to comment and interact with user’s videos, the possibilities for marketing on TikTok are just about limitless.

Take Chipotle for example. About a week ahead of National Avocado Day, Mexican food chain, Chipotle, created the #GuacDance challenge. The company encouraged their customers to film themselves dancing to the popular “Guacamole Song” by Dr. Jean. There were over 250,000 submissions.

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Be Your Audience (Eat the Bison)

How well do you know your customer?

In practically all of our blog posts, we always encourage doing research to analyze your audience to get to know them better. Something we don’t discuss as often however, is putting yourself into your audience’s shoes.

Take actors for example; those who play famous parts in movies, TV shows, and theatre productions don’t stop at studying their roles. There are quite a few actors, such as Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who actually become their character.

And by this we’re referring to “method acting.” Method acting actors fully embrace their character, both on and off camera. Some actors put themselves through the ringer to live as their character. For example, Jamie Foxx, was playing Ray Charles, a blind musician, in Ray, when he glued his eyes shut for up to 14 hours a day. This was so that he could better understand being blind and therefore be able to convey it more accurately.

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Academy Award for his role in The Revenant, where he broke his own vegetarian diet to eat raw bison, sleep in animal carcasses and expose himself to frigid temperatures. (Um, yuck!)

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Mailbox Monday

Would you rather receive a greeting card or a direct mail solicitation?

We thought so.

Whether it's from years of Hallmark's "When you want to send the very best" advertising or it's simply a human nature desire to be loved and cherished, we all open envelopes that look like they could contain a birthday, holiday, thank you, or "just because" card. Even if — like the sample above that we recently received — the charade is spoiled from the get-go with a business return address and, even worse, a pre-printed indicia.

Nevertheless, this package, from Oriental Trading Company's "Department of Fun" did intrigue us and achieved mission number one for any direct mail piece.

It was opened.

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“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” – Tom Fishburne

Did you know that the average American sees thousands of ads each day?

In 2017, Forbes reported that digital marketing experts estimated that most Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. Now four years later, and with an even heavier reliance on digital media, this number may be significantly higher.

With that in mind, today’s marketers have to be great curators. Consumers are inundated with content. Only the most relevant will shine through and have a meaningful impact.

Craig Davis says it best, “we need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Inspired by Davis’s words? Well you’re in luck as we’ve curated a collection of similar quotes for you…

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You're (Virtually) Invited

More and more people have gotten their COVID-19 vaccination. (Thank heavens!) However, there is still a high demand for online events. As you know, the pandemic halted in-person conferences, meetings, events, and rallies.

Now, with a growing vaccinated population, we are starting to see a return to in-person events, but some companies are still making use of the virtual route — perhaps to save time, money, or resources. Whatever the reason may be, here is a list of ways to make more people interested in attending your event.

#1: Do Your Research First

Take the time to survey your potential attendee base and find out what type of virtual events are of interest to them. Understanding your target audience will also help you better promote your event to them.

#2: Do Your Research After

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Ghostwriting for Robots

With rapid technological advancements, robots are becoming more and more mainstream. And while most robots are too expensive for the average consumer, the average consumer actually interacts with robots much more often than they realize. For better or worse, the future will see us relying on robots and artificial intelligence (AI) more and more.

Some marketers predict that robots will write ad copy in the future … thankfully, we’re not there yet.

However, you may find yourself writing copy for robots — think, telemarketing robocalls and website chatbots. Customers would much rather chat with a person — or, at least something that sounds like a person. In fact, maintaining a friendly and conversational tone may even lead to the customer forgetting they’re chatting with a robot.

Here are some tips for making those AI beings sound more like human beings:

  • Concentrate on the conversation flow
  • Choose natural and easy language
  • Create fun and customized scripts
  • Consider using emojis!
  • Communicate with convenient and concise answers

When ghostwriting for robots, think about how you would want Alexa, Siri, Bixby, or Google Assistant to answer you, then write scripts that answer your audience the same way.

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Guess What? Your Email Audience Doesn't Care

You know that your product or solution is the best thing since sliced bread.

But do your prospects and customers know?

More importantly … do they care?

When you send marketing emails, the delete button is your worst enemy (followed closely by the unsubscribe button – which is actually even deadlier but at least the recipient opened your email to get to it). It’s critically important to capture your reader’s attention immediately and then retain it until they’ve read and absorbed your message, and — in a perfect world — taken action.

Let’s look into where consumers are when your email finds its way to them.

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B2B Marketers: Why a Wonderful Website is Warranted

Today’s consumers are heavily reliant on the internet for their purchasing process and decisions. (In fact, they’ve never been more so, thank you global pandemic.) Their engagement starts from the very beginning when it’s time to make a purchase. Buyers will explore various websites looking for reviews and ratings of products that are of interest.

Making sure that you have an online presence is extremely important, but just as important, is to make sure it’s a high quality online presence.

Despite the fact that it’s 2021, many B2B businesses still don’t have a high quality online presence. This makes it challenging for buyers to find the information they’re looking for before making a purchasing decision.

Why is it so important? That’s easy. Today’s buyers are making informed decisions. By ensuring your B2B website offers them the answers and information they are looking for — in a format, design and user experience that attracts and retains their attention — prior to making a purchase, you are more likely to get business from them.

If your b2B website is already up and running — and fabulous — congratulations.

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Email: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Email marketing is going strong, and for good reason: it’s a cheap and easy way to reach a lot of people. But, while the value — and ubiquity — of email cannot be overstated, consumers and customers have become overwhelmed by the excessive offers they receive in their inbox.

A study by Campaigner a few years ago, revealed that 49% of people believe they receive too many marketing emails. While this study is a few years old, it is safe to assume that the 49% of consumers is still an accurate representation of consumer thoughts, in fact, it is also probably safe to assume that that percentage has actually increased over the years. Because the amount of email certainly has.

A recent survey done by Zipwhip, found that just over half of the participants (51%) are less excited to receive emails than they used to be. The thrill of receiving offers digitally is long gone. In fact, most consumers likely feel overstimulated and bombarded by virtual marketing. This is especially true given the heavy reliance of all things virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research has also found that people rarely, if ever, check their junk email folders. 43% of participants never check their junk folder. Only 22% of participants often check it. This creates additional problems for email marketers. They have to ensure that their emails are ending up in the unread inbox first, but then also have to make them interesting and relevant to actually get them opened and read.

The overall conclusion of the Zipwhip study is summed up by CEO John Lauer, “there is a time for email but it’s not the catch-all communication medium it used to be.”

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A Matter of Trust

Preferences for shopping experiences vary from person to person. Some prefer in-person shopping to physically interact with the goods they are purchasing before placing them in their shopping cart.

Others enjoy browsing the inventory from the comfort of their living room and virtually placing each chosen item in a digital shopping cart.

Regardless of your personal preferences, we can all agree that the lockdowns of 2020 severely limited the in-person shopping options. With online shopping as being a last resort for some, let’s look into why this might be.

It’s common for many people to be hesitant to buy online due to the fear of their information being compromised. The concern over whether a website is a trustworthy shopping outlet to input credit card information is very real. Consumers need to feel they can trust a website with their personal data and information in order to feel at ease shopping there.

It’s also natural for people to distrust online shopping retailors because of privacy concerns. That’s why it’s the individual business’s responsibility to earn their consumers’ trust.

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Mailbox Monday

How does a big brand win back a disgruntled customer?

That's easy: by listening, empathizing, appreciating, problem-solving, demonstrating value.

The thing is ... in real life (or at least in real marketing), easy isn't always easy. Many brands are too busy to do all of that. Or they have their sights set on acquiring new customers and making new sales rather than shoring up any fragile relationships with current customers. Or they've simply become so big, so corporate, so automated, that the individual customer slips through the cracks.

We recently came across a very effective piece of very, very personalized customer care marketing.

Our agency content coordinator is a fan of Dial Moisturizing Body Wash, and has been for years. The problem is that the specific products she loves have been discontinued. Twice.

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Be Proud, Not Performative

Today is June 1st and you may start noticing rainbow flags flying throughout your city or town. This is to mark the start of Pride Month. In fact, you may see a variety of different flags during this time. (Refresh yourself on what each flag represents here.)

Supporting the LGBTQIA+ community is always the right thing to do, and during June, we celebrate their lives, their achievements, and their impact to society.

But how we celebrate as marketers hasn't always been an easy thing to figure out.

In 1994, the furniture company, IKEA, released a dining room TV ad. This ad featured a gay couple talking about purchasing a dining room table and chairs from IKEA. More importantly, this ad featured the first openly gay couple in a commercial. You can view this commercial here. The commercial sparked controversy as both detractors and supporters had strong reactions.

Companies that were being “progressive” in the 90s with their advertising, were often purposefully vague. For example, a 1997 Volkswagen ad featured two young men, but the relationship between them was up for interpretation. They weren’t explicitly boyfriends, but they also weren’t explicitly just friends. This created a cushion to protect Volkswagen from criticism.

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Mailbox Monday

If every marketer could send out 3D packages, response rates would go through the roof. Unfortunately, so would costs. Boxes, tubes, padded "jiffy bags" do get attention, but the postage alone is beyond the budget of many mailers.

So, what can you do if you want big impact with a small price tag?

You make a flat mail experience as special, engaging, tactile, and interactive as you can.

That's exactly what local business A&A Services did with their recent self-mailer. A fairly ordinary three panel piece becomes out-of-the-ordinary with the addition of a die-cut.

The address panel works hard from the get-go. A picture of the two business owners is coupled with a call-to-action in their voice: "Join our rowing list of satisfied customers... and become part of the family. We look forward to helping you on your next Roofing — Siding — Window — Door Project!" In the "hot area" above the address and indicia, there's an offer (Free Estimate), phone number and URL, and a compelling "before and after" example, complete with a three-line caption.

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Don't Just Recycle, Upcycle

In our last blog post, we talked about how some direct marketers are practicing greener mailing methods. As a recap, some marketers are using recycled paper, or water-based, eco-friendly inks. There are other methods too, such as encouraging recipients to recycle the mailings when they are done with them. Even though 94% of Americans claim they support recycling, 75% of U.S. waste could have (should have) been recycled.

Today, we’d like to look into an even more personal approach to recycling.

We’re talking masks.

With the CDC relaxing mask guidelines, we are left with the question of what do we do with our masks?

If you’re anything like us, you probably have a dozen-or-so cute masks that you purchased. It seems silly to throw them out, but what other use could they have?

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Greener Pastures for Your Direct Mail

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Making responsible, environmentally conscious choices is always the right thing to do. This is important for us on a personal level as well as a professional level. How can direct marketers make responsible decisions when direct mail campaigns in themselves are not sustainable? Despite everyone's best intentions, the postcards and letters and flyers that come through the mail can easily end up in the trash — after all, they’re invariably (and unaffectionately) called “junk mail.”

However, there are some different approaches direct marketers are using to make their tactics greener.

A new group called the Green Marketing Coalition is striving to make “an inherently unsustainable practice at least a little bit greener” (New York Times). This group is made up of both direct marketing companies and a select few of their clients. Some members of the group include Microsoft, Washington Mutual, and OptimaHealth. The various members are all in agreement that the direct mail business is in need of some guidelines to make choices that benefit the environment.

A few examples of guidelines the coalition has come up with so far include using chlorine-free recycled paper and proofreading via digital files instead of hard copies. Guidelines also strongly recommend improving upon waste disposal standards. One way to do this is to conduct some research and choose a vendor that is committed to recycling.

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Email Copy Options (and Opt-Ins)

In our last blog post, we talked about optimum copy length for a direct marketing campaign. Today, we'll look at the same question with regard to email copy.

The overall recommendation is the same: if the length is effective, then that is the length to use.

Emails are a challenge to begin with. Readers have the ability to quickly delete messages without even opening them. And of course, the dreaded “unsubscribe” button is easily accessible to allow your readers to opt-out from hearing from you ever again.

So what length of copy works best for an email?

While shorter email copy is widely considered to perform better than longer copy, the real answer lies in your data. Get to know your audience really well and then test what length of email they respond to best.

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Copy: The Long and Short of It

We can all agree that marketing campaigns are meant to get a response out of a consumer. This could be an emotional response, a financial response, or even a physical response. We take the time to look at data to find the perfectly targeted audience to send our copy to. However, without good writing, even the most fine-tuned audience might not understand the narrative of your offer, or they might not even be interested enough to finish reading the piece you wrote just for them.       

One of the biggest challenges about writing is determining how long a piece should be. This challenge is even more of a concern when writing marketing copy. Grabbing the audience’s attention is one thing, but maintaining it is a whole different ball game. Marketers are tasked with creating content that remains interesting throughout the piece to keep readers interested.

This prompts the question, “How long should the copy be?”

And the answer? “As long as it needs to be to sell your product.”

The fact is, there really is no right or wrong answer for how long your marketing copy should be. It won’t be too long or too short, it will only be effective or ineffective. If the length is effective, then that is the length to use. Consultant Boyd Butler shares that, “Copy should be long enough to emotionally engage the prospect and give them enough rational reasons to back their emotional decision to purchase.”

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Mailbox Monday

Self-mailers are one of our favorite direct mail options. First of all, the options themselves are practically endless: oversized, undersized (yes, we've had those work), different folds, different die-cuts, creative personalization. Depending on your audience and product, they work equally well for B2C and B2B. And, they are generally cost-efficient and effective.

Of course, we love working on 3-D solutions as well. Sending something to someone is ... well ... if not downright bribery, at the very least curiosity-provoking and compelling.

We just received a self-mailer that included a 3-D element.

The piece is from Omaha Steaks, and measures 6" x 9" closed with full color bleed photography on both outside panels.

The address panel includes an offer in the "hot spot" above the address area. "Order now & get 12 FREE BURGERS ..." In case we're wondering just how good those burgers may or may not be, a short but effusive testimonial appears to the left under a glamorous shot of ... you guessed it ... a burger. "Best burgers ever ... purchase these monthly." So says Karen M from Port Charlotte, FL.

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When I Grow Up

The Queen B recently had the honor of writing a cover story for the DMAW's wonderful newsletter AdVents. Here's what she had to say ...

As a child, no one thinks, "When I grow up, I want to be a direct mail marketer." But, those of us who make a living at it, are actually very fortunate. We get to reach millions of people with messages that can make their lives better.

Before you disagree or use the words "junk mail," allow me to point out that innovations in data science and print technology now allow us to send extremely targeted, extremely relevant offers to just the people who care about them. Decades ago, direct mail marketing earned the description "spray and pray," send out lots and lots of mail to lots and lots of people and ... well ... hope for the best. Marketers who do that today aren't just lazy; they're wasting money and resources.

Now, smart marketers send less mail that's more relevant. They reach less people who are more interested. And, they achieve better returns on investment for doing so.When my team and I sit down to develop creative concepts for direct mail, we start with the target audience, the product or solution, and the offer. Then, we think about what we can send that will make someone smile, or laugh, or simply stop and think. We have the opportunity to surprise and delight someone, to move them emotionally and — even more important — to move them to take action.

In terms of formats and creative, the possibilities are endless (grounded, of course, by budget). Whether it's a postcard from your vet with a picture of a dog that looks just like yours (easy to do with variable data printing), to a simple brochure that offers tips for successful Zoom meetings (very relevant right now), to a box that contains virtual reality goggles that work with your smart phone (worth sending when you're marketing high-ticket medical equipment). 

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Mailbox Monday

If you're like the Bs, you probably get more mail (like A LOT more mail) in your email mailbox than in the one on your porch, in your lobby, or out by the curb.

The other day, we received an email from an online retailer that wasn't just good — it was delightful.

The email was simply confirming an order and providing tracking information. So, in that sense, it was pretty typical. The copy, however, was anything but. It did a great job of building brand while it took care of business. And it was passed along multiple times, which may mean more business for this Better World Books, a very smart and funny marketer, in the future.

Take a look ...

From: Better World Books
To: (NAME)
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 11:41:58 AM EDT
Subject: Your Better World Books Order Has Shipped!

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Better To Gift Than To Receive

Virtual meetings and Zoom calls are mentally tiring and physically draining. How can we make these more engaging for our participants? Can we think of ways to solve this problem internally for our company and then use those same solutions when helping run a virtual event for clients and customers?

Here’s an idea to help spice up your virtual meeting platforms: virtual gifts.

There are countless ways to give virtually. These can range from eGift Cards, to an eBook, to a streaming subscription, to virtual gym memberships. These methods will entice your viewers/attendees/employees to come to the event or meeting with motivation.

Digital gift cards are one of the easiest ways to give a reward virtually. These gift cards could be for just about anything, as long as it’s appropriate. Some popular choices include Amazon, iTunes, and Visa gift cards. Even if the amount on the card is small, it will show your people that you value their time and appreciate them being with you for the call.

An eBook is a great addition to an event marketing strategy because of the halo effect it offers after the event is over. eBooks focused on a specific topic will give readers a more in-depth explanation of the information.

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Mailbox Monday

When sending direct mail to consumers, our main goal is for them to open it. Actively interacting and engaging with the piece is even better. One of the most popular forms of direct mail are postcards. Postcards are simple to create and also simple to engage with. From the marketer’s standpoint, postcards are easy to design, print, and mail — while also bring reasonably inexpensive. From the consumer’s viewpoint, postcards are easily digestible, making the focus of the message clear and precise. Postcards are a great tool to use because they can grab a reader’s attention without needing to retain it long enough to open an envelope. Besides being time-consuming, opening and unfolding letters can be distracting. Readers might not even bother opening them before tossing them into recycling.

Postcards get the job done, and when done effectively, they get the job done well.

Which leads us to today’s post, which we’ll call, “A Tale of Two Postcards.”

Let’s compare two different direct mail postcards we very recently received. There is a clear winner here between the two of them. We’ll call them Postcard A and Postcard B. Postcard A is from an insect repellant company, MosquitoRanger. Postcard B is from Valvoline Instant Oil Change.

A main challenge postcards pose is the limited space. Due to this, the marketer has to be creative about picture placements, and the amount of text printed. Just like with PowerPoints, the less words shown on the postcard the more effective they will be. Postcard A has a single question on the front: “Is Your Family Protected Against Mosquitoes?” along with the company’s name, tagline, and website link. Meanwhile, Postcard B has a longer sentence at the top: “We let you see the job done right, right before your eyes” but also has an offer at the bottom for $9 off a specific oil change. Postcard B is much wordier on the front and it distracts from the picture. It is harder to read because the font is on top of the picture versus Postcard A’s question is on an orange banner that stands out from the picture.        

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The Power of Magical Marketing

We’ve talked before about how important it is for brands to make personal connections with their customers and clients. It was beyond challenging to stay connected during a global pandemic that left us more-or-less isolated for the last year. Companies looked to digital resources and virtual platforms to bond and continue to build relationships with their target audience.

We’ve also talked about how important it is for brands to serve the common good, whether that be through charitable donations, inclusive campaigns, or even just standing up for justice. With all the choices customers have, many of them are looking to support companies that align with their beliefs and are actively working to better the community.

A good example of a company that does both of these things well, is Keebler.

The Keebler Company is a cookie manufacturer that also produces and markets multiple types of baked snacks. A recent campaign from Keebler takes shoppers through an interactive experience that will teach them more about Keebler cookies and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

One experience offered is an animated video that features a Make-A-Wish child, Jessica, recounting her wish experience. Jessica is seven-years-old and has a nervous system disorder. During her wish, Make-A-Wish partnered with Keebler to bring her dream alive — to become the “queen” of Queen City (Charlotte, North Carolina).

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The Postal Heroes of the Pandemics

It's nothing new for doctors, nurses, or first responders to be called “heroes.” But mailmen? Postal service workers? The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how “essential” these USPS employees are.

Countless everyday workers have been described as “heroes” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fourteen months ago, the term “essential worker” wasn’t used at all. But after communities started self-isolating, jobs that otherwise didn’t receive appreciation or recognition were beginning to be looked at as selfless, heroic, and completely necessary for our functioning society. When countless office jobs were being moved to virtual platforms from home, there were still many positions that made it impossible to work remotely. A few examples include grocery store workers, farmers and delivery drivers.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the corona virus pandemic isn’t the only national health emergency that the United States has faced. The so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic was actually the deadliest in modern history. Many parallels can be drawn between these two disease outbreaks (see the picture of the mailman in a mask above), that occurred roughly one century apart. Looking at the way the USPS handled their new responsibilities on the frontline is both informative and helpful — and relevant today.

The Spanish Flu can be seen as an even more isolating virus than the corona virus due to the time period of the outbreak. In the early 1900s, there was no Zoom, no social media, and no text messaging. The historical significance of the sheer power mail had during this time cannot be underestimated. The US Post Office Department was tasked with the responsibility of keeping the mail moving and by doing so, keeping people connected with one another.

Jenny Lynch, the Postal Service’s historian, finds that, “The ability to connect can be, quite literally, a lifeline during times of extreme stress. Mail enables the exchange of vital supplies and information. Perhaps even more important, it can provide hope, comfort and purpose.”

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Email Marketing: 8 Days a Week

Okay, we're exaggerating. We don't really get email eight days a week.

It just feels like it.

Clients often ask what time and day they should send emails. Of course, there's only one answer: it depends. Every brand, every product, every target audience is going to be different. But, there are some guidelines that emerge when you look at a variety of research.

In terms of day of the week, many studies suggest that Tuesday is best, followed by Thursday in second place, followed by Wednesday in third. Mondays and Fridays appear to be too close to the weekend (people are either recovering from or preparing for their time off; your email is not top of mind; sleeping in or going out is).

With regard to times, there appear to be multiple hot spots during the day. Many studies cite 10 am as a good time to reach recipients. This may imply that by 10 am, they've stopped socializing, organizing, and caffeinating, and are ready to start their day in earnest. 8 pm is also a good time, perhaps indicating that many people open, read, and deal with emails in the time between dinner and bed. 2 pm also sees a surge; it may be that, wedged as it is between lunch and the end of the traditional workday, it's a natural break from work activities. And, finally, at 6 am, there's a lot of email action. Apparently people check their emails first thing when they get up.

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To Make Good, You Have to Do Good

The year that was 2020 made us all rethink our priorities and values. From being cooped up in our homes to stay safe from the coronavirus, to watching social revolutions happen in our cities … we had a big year. We became more reliant on digital resources and technology to keep us connected to those we love and those we work with.

These same resources and technology showed us the frontlines of movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. These movements are social in their nature, but can be applied to workplaces and companies alike. The demand for brands to align their priorities and values with their customers has never been greater.

The key decision factors aren’t just a company’s price or product selection. Consumers are now interested in supporting good companies. Thoughtful companies. Sustainable companies. Charitable companies.

Consumers often make impulsive decisions when choosing and supporting a brand. They can be quick to dismiss or even abandon a company that doesn’t align with their political stances, for example.

Early in the pandemic, masks were hard to come by and priority went to those working on the frontlines. This prompted companies such as H&M, Reformation, Nordstrom, and Hanesbrands to shift their production focus from their usual fashion lines to making as many masks as quickly as possible. Empty words such as “we’re all in this together,” mean nothing to the everyday consumer; action supporting the greater good shows purpose. This purpose drives the public to view the company positively.

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Sell Where They're Shopping

We’ve all had to make adjustments in our lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses and companies were forced to adapt as well and — unfortunately — for many, the adapting process resulted in either a sink or float outcome. Countless small companies, such as local restaurants and “Mom-and-Pop” stores had no choice but to close their doors permanently.

It’s devasting that so many businesses have struggled during this time, but there are some companies that have risen above the challenges and, through their resilience, adaptability, and agility, have redesigned a new kind of success.

Something some of these brands have in common is that they began expanding upon, or creating, a direct-to-customer (DTC) channel for distributing their product.

Obviously, there digital shopping is nothing new. In fact, it’s steadily grown over the past decade and a half. Online sales booming were booming well before 2020. However, the pandemic escalated it even more when in-person shopping experiences became limited to essential stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies. Wholesale brands that were able to make a smooth transition to DTC channels were better prepared to stay afloat.

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Mailbox Monday

It's one of the premier tenets of direct marketing (or any other marketing, for that matter) ..."Know your customer."

Or in the case of digital pet supply company Chewy, "Know your customer's pet."

Like most humans, the Bs at B Direct don't get as much postal mail as we used to. Even on special occasions. Between email, texts, and social media, holiday greetings (including once ubiquitous birthday cards) rarely arrive as anything other than digital communications. So, it was cool to find an analog, paper-based birthday card in the mailbox.

Just one catch. It was for the dog.

Guess what? That made it cooler!

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Email (Yes, We're Talking About Email Again)

We’ve talked before (and will again) about how email marketing is an incredibly useful tactic — especially during the course of the last year. Social distancing makes it harder to see not only people in person, but also companies and products too. Digital resources are more important than ever to retain both relationships and product awareness.

A new Demand Metric Benchmark Report focuses on the current state of Email Marketing. The report analyzes email’s overall “accessibility, ease of use, and effectiveness." Various tactics are looked at in depth in order to help individual organizations — and their marketing agencies — transform their email performance from average to high achieving.

Let’s look at some of their tips…

One of the all-too-important tips is to make sure you understand your audience and analyze their consumption of your emails. For example, marketers should know details about the subscribers’ habits, including what device(s) the emails are being opened on, the amount of time they spend reading or interacting with the emails, and what time of day most emails are opened, among others. Physical location of the subscribers could also be helpful to analyze.

As with any marketing strategy, having a better understanding of your audience will help you tailor the emails appropriately, make them relevant, make them resonate, make them responsive — and turn out better results.

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From social media stars on apps such as Instagram and TikTok, to TV and movie stars, influence is everywhere.

Celebrities being seen with your product, or better yet, promoting it in a way that doesn’t read like advertising, is a wonderful ways to develop brand awareness. In fact, today consumers much prefer engaging and connecting with individual people instead of big corporations and institutions.

And what better way for an individual ­— whether a celebrity or just a plain, old, everyday marketer — to reach a wide audience than using a digital communication channel such as social media?

The term “influencers” is one that we hear frequently these days, and while the word itself is fairly new, having just been added to the English dictionary in 2019, what it stands for is not new in the marketing world. Companies choosing “role models” to model their products dates back to the 1700s according to SocialMediaToday when a potter made a tea set for the Queen of England. The Queen using this tea set showed it had the stamp of royal approval, thus making it more desirable for commoners.

So, if you're not of royal blood, how can you influence your customer base?

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In the Beginning: A Little Word Can Make a Big Difference

In 2020, we saw huge changes that impacted all aspects of business (and life) as we knew it. One of those changes is that everything ranging from education to social events to shopping all shifted to a digital platform. With the hope that vaccine rollout will get us back to some normalcy, there are trends that we just simply can’t ignore.

As marketers, one of those trends is the effectiveness — and ubiquitousness — of emails.

Since the pandemic started, email has been working very hard, and, for the most part, really well. But with that being said, the challenge with emails is to get them opened by your audience and of course, to avoid users clicking the unsubscribe button.

WorldData has been looking at themes in subject lines (find our previous post on this topic here) and has updated their trending words to represent the first month of 2021. In B-to-C emails, trending words include “new,” “just in,” and that old direct marketing standby “free.” These words show a theme of promoting and striving for a stronger and happier new year. On the other hand, B-to-B emails are seeing trends with the words “forecast,” “outlook,” and “look ahead.” These subject lines are focused on advancing an individual’s career, a concern for many post-2020.

Here are the complete lists of top performing words by target category:

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Mailbox Monday

Direct mail marketing, something that the Bs have proudly called a vocation for nearly two decades, involves the head and the heart. Promotion and emotion. Words and pictures and a veritable ton of tried and true techniques (or tricks, if you'd rather) that can increase attention, engagement, and that all important reaction: response.

Some practitioners — and consequently, some packages — rely too much on the tricks of the trade, to the detriment of other more aesthetically pleasing elements.

But, some find a balance between working hard and looking good. We received just such a package from American Express this week.

First of all: the feel of it — in a mailbox filled with invoices, statements, tax documents, and even "thank you" cards, the 6 x 9 American Express package took advantage of a sleek, elegant, and weightier than average paper stock. Complete with spot varnish, it literally felt too good to throw away.

The artwork didn't hurt either. Full bleed coverage with a color photo of a busy businesswoman multitasking from what is probably a home office (timely) and a full-size image of the card. Other envelope elements include branding ("Keep your business moving forward with the Business Platinum Card") and an attractive, easy-to-understand offer ("Earn 85,000 Membership Rewards Points"). Our only criticism (and in an upscale package like this one, it shouldn't be underestimated) is that B Direct Marketing Communications had somehow transformed into B Direct Mktg Cmmnications.

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When Life Gives You Covid … Order Online

By now we’re all tired of the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and very impatient to get back to “normal.” On top of the millions of people who have been infected with the virus and the hundreds of thousands of deaths, the economic collapse made the last year into a struggle for countless industries. Jobs were lost, businesses suffered, and some companies had to close their doors for good. None of this is new information to us, however, there are some industries that actually have been boomed during the pandemic.

Let’s take a look at one of those industries.          

The industry is actually a pretty obvious one, e-commerce. While the majority of the population were encouraged to stay at home, digital shopping numbers increased substantially. Retail wasn’t the only industry that had success with e-commerce, as food delivery apps also experienced increased numbers with people ordering takeout instead of going out to restaurants. Grocery store delivery services offered an easy solution to stay home rather than brave the — potentially contagious — crowds in store.

Throughout the past year and likely into the future, extensive digital marketing campaigns will continue to grow the e-commerce industry. These campaigns will work to appeal to both returning and new customers. It’s crucial to have a presence online during this day and age, and maintaining a relationship with customers and clients is always important, even if it’s only virtual.     

How can you take advantage of the surge in e-commerce, both now and into the future?

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Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day. The minister, activist, civil rights leader, American hero, Nobel laureate, and champion of non-violence was himself violently murdered nearly 53 years ago.

Like many (most?) children in the U.S., we studied his life and tragic death, and memorized parts of his immortal “I have a dream” speech. But, there’s another speech by Dr. King that is at least as meaningful and eerily prescient since he delivered it just one day before his assassination.

It’s known as, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and he was speaking in support of a sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis. Here are his most compelling and beautiful words from that speech. He began by imagining that the Almighty is giving him a choice of any era of the whole human history to live in.

Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy." Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free."

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.

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Whose Brand Is It Anyway?

The Bs are writers and art directors, designers and illustrators. In our hearts, we're also direct marketers (duh — that's why "Direct" is in our name). But, that doesn't mean we don't appreciate brand. In fact, we've helped many clients over the years build and grow their brands. We've worked with start-ups to develop branding (positioning, logos, identity systems, brand guidelines). And we've supported more established companies by ensuring that everything we develop adheres to or complements the brand.

We've also learned how to play nice with the brand police. In recent years and past lives, we've worked with big players like IBM, Apple, Chevrolet, Bank of America, and NYNEX, as well as the strictest brand keepers of all: Disney.

Take our word for it, you don't mess around with Mickey!

So, the first question we had when we heard about the TikTok phenomenon Ratatouille: The Musical was ... "What is Disney going to do about it?"

Before we answer that, let's give you a bit of background.

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