Banana Republic Links In For Nov. Sweeps

Update your LinkedIn profile by November 22, 2008, and you could be one of 25 winners in the Banana Republic $1,000 Wardrobe Makeover Sweepstakes. You don't have to do anything fancy or major - I just updated the white band (under my photo) where you can put a little blurb about where you plan to travel, what you're reading, or what you're working on - things like that. And then, poof! You can register for the contest via a little pop-up window. (Note - you need to enable cookies on your browser for the pop-up to complete your registration.)


Inspirational Quote For Today

"There is a word I learned from my Dogon tribal brothers in Mali. Every Friday was market day, and since there were no stores, pedlars, or any other way of locally buying or selling, people walked for miles and days to get to the market. Each sale was a ritual accompanied by much palaver - arguing, bargaining, and talk. When buyer and seller finally agreed that the transaction had met the needs and expectations of both, they would clasp hands and simultaneously say, 'Habama,' which literally means, 'We have done well together.' Direct marketing is Habama!"
- Lester Wunderman, "Being Direct: Making Advertising Pay" 
Advertising legend and pioneering father of direct marketing


Orderus Interruptus

How do you keep the sale going when an online order has been "interrupted" and never completed? Here's how Blue Mountain eCards tries to do it ... with an immediate follow-up email AND a special offer.

The opening is friendly and empathetic - "Just when we thought you were going to become a member, you didn't. Maybe you got a phone call? Had to run to a very important meeting? Whatever distracted you from the task at hand, now's your chance to take the ball and run with it."  Then comes the offer - they'll give you $2.99 a month towards two of their e-card services if you click on the link below and finish signing up. Not a bad way to keep an online sale going.


Break Time: Green Tip for The Day

I'm doing some research this weekend for a new assignment and came across this interesting "green" tip from a web site called The Frugal Law Student that says:
Don’t throw away “dead” batteries. Remove them from your radio and use them in quartz clocks. These clocks take such a small amount of power that batteries too weak to run anything else may have enough power to run a clock for a while.
I'll have to try that! Now, back to work ...


alli tries to win allies with new direct mail creative featuring dual option incentive

alli is an over-the-counter weight loss aid, and their latest direct mail creative features a 96-page, 6.5 inch squared "we lost it" book filled with illustrated testimonials. There's "Laura Lee" - age 27, from Ansonio, CT - who used to be a fit, size-7 firefighter who then became "the fat friend." And then there's "Laki" - a 37 New Yorker and Executive Kitchen Manager at the Cheesecake Factory - who tasted himself up to 260 pounds. Aside from these and other great testimonial stories which present a wide range of ages and lifestyles, there's also a neat incentive that perfs off the back cover of the book and can be used one of two ways...

SIDE ONE OFFER:  It's a $10.00 Mail In Rebate Certificate. This is great if, say, you just bought the alli product before the book came in the mail. Just grab your receipt and send it in with the rebate certificate, and alli will send you back a $10.00 check. See below ...

SIDE TWO OFFER:  Turn the piece over. Now you have the option to use the coupon on the reverse side to get $10.00 OFF at the point of purchase. See below:

The choice is yours! How interesting is that? And smart - giving your potential buyer the option to SAVE money in the way that is most convenient for him or her. Plus, there's the nifty little "let's go shopping" portion at the top of the piece, which gives you room to make a shopping list and gives you ideas of what to pick up at the market, along with your alli 90ct or 150ct starter kit.

Have you ever seen an offer set up like that before? This is the first time I've seen it. This dual option coupon/rebate incentive is - in my opinion - direct marketing genius for a retail product. Kudos to the alli creative and marketing team for this fabulous execution. Stash this in your idea file - and don't lose it!


Green Eggs and Spam

This came to my personal email address this morning. Apparently, I am to think I'm a winner in some Swiss Online Lottery program and stand to win "Seven Hundred and Fifty Pounds Sterling." All I have to do is give Mrs. Dana Grey my name, address, age, sex, phone number, etc. (Funny, they didn't ask for my bank account number ...) For a moment, I wonder - did they get my email when I was surfing the web looking into offshore Swiss Bank accounts, pre-2008 Bailout? Then my coffee kicks in ...

Sorry, no takers here. This morning email is labeled Green Eggs and Spam.


Tune In, Tune On, Tune Out

Bloggers Say The Darnedest Things ...
"At the risk of sounding like a Successories poster, here’s one truth that I picked up over the years: You have to continue functioning even when the bottom falls out. And it gets easier after you’ve done it a few times." From Ray Schultz, posting on The Big Fat Marketing Blog about going to the DMA conference that was held this week in Vegas, despite all the economic turmoil with Bailout 2008. 
"Personally, I find this kinda juvenile--but that's just me..." Suzanne Obermire on the 2008 DMA Vegas conference theme, "R U Connected?"
"What I saw were row after row of companies peddling what my dad would call 'buckets of rubber dog crap.'” From Garth, posting at Garth's World - with his random musings following his return from the 2008 DMA show in Vegas.
Have a good weekend - and keep plugging away, all!
And tune in again for Art Linklover ... 


USA Today's Clever Giveaway Helps Evaluate Ads

Aside from focus groups that offer cash incentives and can take up too much of a busy participant's day, here's an interesting thing that a newspaper is doing to conduct market research on the effectiveness of its advertising ... with online surveys and cash giveaways!

USA Today is interested in knowing what their readers think about the newspaper's print and online advertising. The paper is conducting a series of short online surveys. Readers get a chance to win $250 in a cash prize drawing just for registering - PLUS the opportunity to win additional cash prize giveaways monthly.

Do you read USA Today? If so, you can click here to register.The registration process takes you through a quick, rather painless initial survey about your reading habits, as well as asks some standard demographic questions. I just did it and it took a minute or so. Upon completion of the initial survey, you will then be sent an email to confirm your registration and also be entered into the drawing for the $250 cash prize.


Inspirational Quote For Today

"Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself."
Ironically, this quote (which alludes to not needing to buy anything to make yourself happy) comes from a man who wrote The Greatest Salesman in the World!


Wall Street, Main Street, or Mall Street?

Duct Tape Marketing's 10/12/08 blog post poses some good questions about Main Street vs. Wall Street.
Their question: "In the context of the small business world, what is Main Street anyway?"
My answer: "Words. A nice catch phrase. It's where the Mom and Pop stores of yore flourished. But more and more, it's become an iconic phrase in the vernacular."
Their question: "Is Main Street the antithesis of Wall Street?
My answer: "It's supposed to be an extension of Wall Street. What happens on Wall Street affects Main Street."
Their question: "Are Sarah Palin and Joe Biden Mainstreeters?"
My answer: "Palin is posing as such. Not so sure about Biden. He's more ... I dunno ... polished. Maybe he's more Mall Street!"
Their question: "Does Wal-Mart build on Main Street?"
My answer: "Wal-Mart tore down Main Street and stuck all the goods inside a gigantic warehouse they call a store. Essentially, they got rid of the street!"


Dear Investor: A Day Late and A Dollar Short

In yesterday's mailbox, I received this direct mail package from Ameriprise Financial offering me a FREE planning guide, "What you need to know before you retire."

The letter begins, "Dear Investor: What does your dream retirement look like?" Well, I've been looking at a LOT of CNN recently, and your mailing, my dear Ameriprise, appears to be... a day late and a dollar short. I guess you had no way of knowing that the market would tank so badly when you put this baby to bed. Quite frankly, I can't imagine ANY investment or retirement planning mailing doing well this week.

What I need to know before I retire isn't in the FREE book they're giving away, at least not according to what I'm hearing in the news. What I need to know is probably inside a crystal ball ... and I haven't received any direct mail packages selling that ... yet.

I'm interested to know - what's in your mailbox lately in regard to financially-related products and services and how are you reacting to it?


A Designer's Perspective: With Guest, Joanne Lewis of Tango Vision, Inc.

Today's guest on The Copy Grove Blog is Joanne Lewis - Art Director of Tango Vision, Inc. Joanne has designed many direct marketing materials with The Copy Grove for a variety of clients, from auto clubs to health insurance companies.

Copy Grove: Joanne, welcome! You have a lot of experience in direct marketing and a keen eye! What graphic trends are you noticing in direct mail these days?

Joanne Lewis: I am noticing a lot of oversized and interesting postcards. With so many credit card offers coming in, these postcards really stand out and attract the eye. I am also seeing some oversized self-mailers that I like as well. Some of my favorites are the Comcast pieces, where I might receive an oversized postcard and then a self mailer a few weeks afterward. With so much traffic in the mail stream, I believe that postcards are a great way to stand out — they are like billboards in the traffic jam.

Copy Grove: Of all the direct mail packages you designed, which one was the most challenging and why?

Joanne Lewis: I had a client in Michigan who was an insurance third party administrator. Our audience was Mortgage professionals and the product was a blanket home equity protection product. The writer I was working with, Jennifer Thomas Vanadia, and I came up with a concept of mailing out "coasters" that had pictures and the stories of various "insurance risks" ... people who took their loans and did things like blew the money on exotic vacations, went fishing, or even donated their homes to care for wayward felines. The challenge of the package was to provide something that these brokers might keep on their desks or hang on their office bulletin boards. Our budget didn't cover traditional coasters so we decided to use heavy cardboard and varnish. We also used a see through vellum envelope with a letter with a teaser that read, "Just think about them once a year. We'll take care of the rest." The six "coasters" were inserted inside the letter and the outside envelope was fairly thick. The challenges were mainly production oriented. I think it's usually easier to come up with the great ideas than it is to make them a reality at times.
(Above: Photo of coaster mailing, courtesy of Tango Vision, Inc.)

Copy Grove: From a design perspective, what can a marketer do to make his or her direct mail package stand out among the clutter and get opened?

Joanne Lewis: Again, I like postcards right now for really standing out in the mail. I also like adding something special to a package. A client of mine in Washington D.C., St. Johns College High School, was looking for something different for their annual appeal a couple of years ago. I recommended that they recognize some of their "heroes" (teachers, coaches, administrators) with a series of trading cards. The cards were sent out with a letter, reply, BRE and each card had the name and photo of the "hero" on the front with their "stats" on the back. The teaser copy on the outside envelope alluded to the cards and the cards became so popular with the alumni and staff that the second set of "heroes" were sent out the next year. As far as standing out, color goes a long way, a compelling teaser will get me inside a package, using a non-standard size is good. I am seeing a lot of white outside envelopes and some good use of color will always catch my eye.

(Above: Photo of heroes mailing, courtesy of Tango Vision, Inc.)

Copy Grove:  Thank you, Joanne, for sharing your insights and thoughts with us today. We look forward to hearing more from you and having you back again.

Joanne: You're very welcome! Anytime...

Joanne can be reached at Joanne_Lewis@comcast.net


Prediction: More postcards

Now that banks are less willing to lend money and corporations are laying off workers, chances are fewer new products and services will be "going to market." As companies become more conservative and less inclined to launch new initiatives, direct marketers will be more focused on retention and cross-sell opportunities. And I predict we will be seeing more postcards in our mailboxes! 

After all, when money is tight, it behooves marketers to use the most cost effective ways to "drum up sales" - and the once deemed lowly postcard can now be viewed as an affordable way of getting in the mail and driving sales leads - without the higher paper, lettershop and postage costs of a standard No. 10 package.

If you plan to use a postcard for your direct marketing efforts, here are a few tips:

1) Have a single-minded focus for your marketing message.
Room is tight on a postcard. That means you've got to broadcast your main message and it needs to be an enticing one - either a great savings offer or a much-needed benefit that's going to meet one of your targeted audiences' needs.

2) Put the call to action on the front and the back of the postcard, if you can.
Unless the call to action needs to be personalized and you are not duplex lasering the piece, it's a good idea to put the call to action (the response language - "call now or visit www...") on the front AND the back of the piece. After all, that's the action you want your recipient to take. Make it easy to keep that phone number or web site in clear view and top of mind.

3) Stand out from the clutter but be careful that you don't look so promotional you get lost in the clutter.
Direct mail should always have an air of personal correspondence to it. So don't forgo the "Dear Sample A. Sample" that could go on the personalized side of the postcard in lieu of photos and fancy graphics, or you'll miss a chance to connect and speak directly to your targeted audience members. (I read somewhere that self-mailers got a better response when they had a letter that started with a "Dear ..." and had a signature at the end. A postcard is a kind of self-mailer. So why not give your postcard a personal edge? It can help it stand out in the clutter.) Use the other non-personalized side for your attention grabbing headline and graphics. When a postcard is too "design-y" with "bang-them-over-the-head" visuals on both sides, it tends to feel too much like a general advertising piece that's trying very hard to sell something and less like personal correspondence with something very important to tell me, about something that's especially for me - to meet my needs. And I'd much rather receive the latter. Wouldn't you?
Below is a sample postcard that follows many of the tips mentioned here. As you'll see, there is a little letter on this side of the postcard that begins, "Dear Advertiser:"

This is side 1 of a postcard that was mailed as a reminder to advertisers of products and services relative to the Chemical Engineering profession, alerting them of the close date for inserting their ads in AIChE's CEP (Chemical Engineering Progress) magazine. It's always smart to mail to your current client/member or user database to remind them about added ways you can serve their needs. As that old saying goes, your best customers are the ones you already have!

This is the reverse (side 2) of the postcard pictured above:

Notice it's more colorful and contains more details about the magazine contents, so advertisers can tailor their message to editorial content. 

Postcards such as the one shown here were mailed throughout the year, with the same format, different copy and color schemes to match the season or time of year. This card mailed in the early fall.

Thanks for stopping by