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August 2010

George Culbertson and GAP Marketing

This is a shameless plug from George Culbertson while he was presenting a Hewlett-Packard case study featuring VDP Web at Interact! 2010 in Chicago.



Capitalizing on the Postal Service Price Increase

After several quarters of mounting losses, the Postal Service is once again ready to raise rates across the board.  The reaction from direct marketers was immediate and clear – volumes will fall and the shift will be toward online channels.  If it was not already hard enough to convince the CMO to spend on direct mail, the problem just got that much harder.

How this helps Marketing Service Providers

To capitalize on this challenge, offer to assist your clients with developing an email marketing list.  A simple plan that has been successfully used by many MSPs follows:

Step 1
Add a landing page with opt-in to every customer communication and touch the client makes

Step 2
Offer an incentive on the landing page for the client to opt-in and provide an email address.  For B2B applications exclusive content works well and for B2C applications discounts and coupons are effective.

Step 3
Use the collected opt-ins for direct marketing with both direct mail and email.

To price a project like this, consider doing it on spec and charging per lead and follow up.  We have never met a CMO that won’t pay for a qualified lead and an automated follow on program.  Since landing pages are available with VDP Web for only $40 there is virtually no risk.  Typical prices for leads can run from $3-5 for small consumer goods to more than a hundred for auto loans, insurance, and mortgages.  For not for profits consider a percentage of the donation.  The possibilities are endless as overburdened marketers look for automated, but cost effective, ways to do their jobs.

Know thy Customer!

Followers of this blog know that we are pretty merciless when it comes to bad direct marketing.  AT & T has joined the ranks of shame with this brilliant effort.  The following letter arrived in a generic white envelope and if I was not always on the lookout for the next great pitch it probably would have ended up in the trash.  Unfortunately for AT&T, I read it.
I was going to add more commentary, but let’s skip to the chase.

Take Aways

• Only make relevant offers to the target audience and clean your data to make sure you know who you are talking to.   Never offer as “new” services (in this case 800#s and international calling) that the client already has.  The will feel poorly treated and unappreciated.  If you tell us that we are a high volume firm, we expect more.

• Provide a call to action and response mechanism on every piece.  Never make a prospect go looking elsewhere for a way to buy.

• Use multiple channels to offer choice to your customer – They may prefer another channel.  Use PURLs, landing pages, and the web to enhance the customer experience.

• If AT&T can’t use a campaign specific 800# to track response by offer then they should quit marketing.  Seriously, you’re the PHONE COMPANY.

• Personalization works:  “Dear Long Distance Business Customer” ?  Come on, that was lame in 1975.  We have a sales rep. We know her name. Why is this letter not from her?


Before marketing, analyze your data in order to provide a relevant and personalized customer experience.  If you offer a marketing product (in this case web and telephony) use it in every single piece of marketing, every time.  There can never be any reason that justifies ignoring these rules.

PS – Anybody have the number for Verizon? 

One to One: How hard can it be?

Here is another email from XM Pie that deifies all logic to explain.  In a header that claims “one to one” marketing, there follows a "spray and pray" email that contains one variable field and that is only the first name of the recipient.  There are no links relevant to the content, no PURL, no landing pages, no opt-ins, no two way conversation is started, and the list goes on.  Here is the message:


What XM Pie did wrong
• Poorly targeted to the wrong audience
• Generic content that can’t be easily scanned
• Generic links to the main home page
• No two way conversation is started
• No easy opt-in mechanism is provided
• Verbose and boring text
• Poorly defined callouts and highlights
• Spam to a mined address (more on this topic later…)

What XM Pie did right
They sent something out (although sending the wrong message, to the wrong customer on the wrong channel may out weigh this)

Take Aways

• Drink your own Kool Aid
Creating and executing cross media campaigns takes more than paying ungodly amounts of money for a tool.  If you are going to sell cross media campaigns, you need to market using those tools.  There is no excuse not to make each touch count.  Don’t waste them with poorly executed drival.

• Understand your data 
Know who you are communicating with.  Break those prospects into segments and create a persona for each to deliver relevant content.  If you can’t do this out of the box, do data work first, then reach out.

• Don’t waste communications
Make every touch timely and relevant with easy opt-ins.  Start a two way conversation by asking questions, adding PURLs, using links to landing pages with content relevant to the message, utilizing segmentation and personas, and do this on every touch. 

There is no excuse to waste your clients’ and prospects’ time.  They may not give you a second chance.

"James Michelson of VDP Web talks about measuring ROI from specific marketing channels" by What They Think

After a presentation at PODi's 2010 AppForum, James Michelson was interviewed a second time by What They Think. Check out the video here:

James Michelson of VDP Web talks about measuring ROI from specific marketing channels


WhatTheyThink Video - Published on July 27, 2010


This is James Michelson from VDP Web, the Principal there.  One of the things we’ve had the most interest in during the AP Forum is how, as a commercial printer, do we really look at and how do I get into the sales process.  What are the challenges that become and what’s preventing our customers from really getting involved in cross media, in Pearls, in leading pages, in variable data?

Well, we found that in a lot of the case studies that are presented, there are all these different parties involved.  You have information systems and information technology and the agencies and all these other people that come together to pull that.  Well, the challenge is, how do I sell that group?  And would it be better for my sales process and my bottom line if I could look at it and go to one person and make a decision and that one person who makes a decision I can provide all the different services that they need?

Now, if we have access to data from IT, great.  If we can get creative from their Marketing Department or their agency, terrific.  But as the printer, if you can say to one decision maker, “Hey, I can take care of all of this for you, we’ll handle the process from soup to nuts…” then you can make it work.  One example is from a printed static piece, Harrah’s was launching a new – and we figured we were in Vegas; this is probably a good example.  We’re launching a new casino vote in Chicago, and what we’d like to do is we’re going to print these flyered pieces.  Terrific.  Well, let’s put on a test-to-win and a unique 800 number, and a generic landing page.  So, from one sales process, by adding those three collection mechanisms, the printer was then able to launch follow on direct mail campaigns, follow on collateral campaigns so they’ve got multiple runs of ink on paper from one print sale.

The other thing that does is now, that commercial printer is in charge of the data stream.  All that data is collected is sitting at that commercial printer’s location and they have control of the marketing process.

Data is still King

After a rather amusing response from XM Pie on the last critique of their email marketing, one would think that more attention would have been paid to the next drop.

Despite claims of sending only relevant and highly targeted email, the following communication was recently distributed.

XM Pie Weak Email thats poorly targeted

This sounds like a reasonable offer, until you get to the landing page…

XM Pie Weak Landing Page Callout

The recipient is not a customer. We don’t recommend that marketers send offers to people who do not quality for them.  I suppose it is possible the tactic may motivate a prospect to become a customer in order to participate in a sales pitch, but is it more likely to piss them off for having their time wasted.   That “block sender” button is suddenly more tempting to click.

Take Aways

· Understand your data file – if you don’t know who someone is, be careful what you send them

· Deliver the right message to the right prospect and make sure they qualify for the offer – this is especially true for financing or lease offers – develop personas and segment accordingly BEFORE you market

· If you manage to get a prospect to a landing page, take the opportunity to ask what they are interested in, do not only push information

Stay tuned for insight on CAN-SPAM and making sure your audience has actually opted-in to your communications.