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A Marketing Rule- Carved in Stone September 23, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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On a recent vacation trip to Maine I felt compelled to visit Freeport Maine, the world headquarters of L.L. Bean, the infamous outdoor gear, clothing and home goods store.

Part of my need to visit Bean was the long-term connection to their catalog. Growing up in the pre-Internet world of 1960’s and 70’s permitted me to experience the power of catalog marketing. When the L.L. Bean book arrived in the mailbox it was a big deal. My Dad enjoyed the outdoors, owned hunting and fishing gear, and often ordered their “old school” chamois shirts that literally lasted decades-or your money back. Years later, while teaching integrated marketing communications at Roosevelt University, I often brought L.L. Bean marketing materials in to my lectures (particularly the catalogs) to illustrate direct marketing best practices in use at that time.

Like many catalogs of the era, marketers, graphic designers, writers, proofreaders, photographers and printers created literal art. They captured the notion an “experience” long before modern use of the term “brand experience.” This was a different type of connection, in days when people did not travel as frequently by air due to the great expense, these catalogs provided a “travelogue;” using paintings, line drawings, copy, typography and graphic arts in combination to transport you to far away hunting and fishing destinations you could almost feel when you perused the book.

After spending hours looking at their advertising and product museum, and of course, shopping in their 100,000 square foot plus store, I was struck by an engraving on a stone outside the main entrance. The inscription read:

Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they’ll always come back for more.”

Leon Leonwood Bean’s

“Golden Rule,” 1912

This is a common sense business principle or “code” that L.L. Bean obviously lived by. The mere fact the town of Freeport was literally built around his company, one that has survived the Great Depression, two world wars, recessions and other challenges is a testimony to the long-term soundness of this very simple business foundation.

IMG_1665 IMG_1666If more of today’s businesses installed a similar stone by the employee door, we’d all spend less time on the telephone and online having people “apologize for the inconvenience.”

Postage to rise- Direct Mail Still Viable February 16, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Marketing, Marketing Planning, ROI.
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Of interest to marketers is a proposed inflation covering price increase  of 0.8% by the U.S. Postal Service to take hold in April 2011.

With that in mind this is great time to look at your database and do some list cleansing or consolidation of recipients, particularly for those of you mailing catalogs, newsletters and other informational items. “Householding” or sending one copy of a newsletter for example  to a given address can create numerous efficiencies beyond postage.

Although I read many articles and hear podcasts that predict the death of direct mail as we know it, direct mail spending is predicted to grow by 5.8% this year (source DM News). I still like this medium as it allows you to place a customized communication with relevant offer in front of your most desirable prospects. As a retention tactic, direct mail allows you to connect database and list overlay intelligence, securing cross sell or repeat purchases from those already doing business with your firm.

What percentage of your budget is earmarked for direct mail in 2011?  I’d welcome your observations and thoughts on making this time-tested medium even more efficient.

What is your direct mail ROI?

e-Mail and the “So What” Test June 14, 2010

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Communications, e-mail marketing, Marketing.
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Years ago while just starting out in the marketing field my account executive from the ad agency mentioned that any copy must pass the “so what test” in order to capture attention and compel the reader to carry on. That phrase stuck and while advising a client on an e-mail assignment, this wisdom once again drifted through my mind.

As most people review their in-box they scan the “regarding or subject” lines-the first cut. Then the moment of truth, the click and a 6-7 second glance to address the question “what is in this for me?”

Without a doubt your brand name and logotype must be evident, with layout and template design being clear and inviting. But that’s really just the aesthetics content must always be relevant and engaging. If it’s rehashed or worn out tips that look and feel “generic” then it’s likely the delete key or worse yet the opt-out link will be clicked and a subscriber is lost.

Is your copy compelling? Does it really address what’s in it for the reader or is your e-mail loaded with fluff in a cramped, non-inviting format?  Do you provide links to your web site or other helpful sources that prospects and clients can learn from?  Is your e-news interesting enough that people are inclined to hit the forward key and send along to their valued contact network?

Improving your e-mail content:

  • Who is your audience?- Taking time to define the demographic/psychographic profiles helps you create meaningful content messages to a busy MD running a practice will be worlds apart from articles of interest to a stay-at-home mom.
  • Tone or personality– no matter how small or large your business is, a “persona” should shine through in your written communications. This tone or persona should be consistent with the content on your web site, blog and collateral materials.
  • No novelsgood content isn’t weighed given the treadmill pace of life you must capture reader attention, make the point and provide links if they wish to read in-depth.
  • Be generous links can go to other helpful sites or blogs that can add-value to the life of your prospect or client. By serving as a source of information you display confidence and create good will-that can often lead to new business or potential referrals when people feel good about your helpful nature.

 Planning and careful thought is imperative to a successful e-mail or e-newsletter communication strategy. After all, your content or subject matter is really why people signed-on in the first place. By making content valuable you position yourself as an expert, add-value and are rewarded with new prospects (subscribers) that return for more thoughts and in the end become users of what you offer.

Overcoming “Sameness” May 19, 2010

Posted by Jack Macholl in Marketing, Marketing Planning, ROI.
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Here in the “new world” doing the same marketing drill will change. Certainly when you produce work for a client meeting their business objectives will continue to rule.  It appears that as the American economy rebounds people are now willing to do some testing, be it in traditional direct or social channels. I think it is important to remember that you can learn things from testing or trying new concepts even if they do not work.  From my vantage point what you learn from “failure” can be very valuable often helping your client map out the best of offers and creative approaches for their brand.

Change management has become rampant for the past decade and the pace doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon. Sometimes change means doing things that seem intuitively uncomfortable or contrary to your “training”–take the plunge and test, try something new and don’t punish for “failure.”   Consumers are changing and adapting too-sameness may feel good but it will not get the job done .