Archive for July, 2012
Alliances in marketing carry risks. When you work collaboratively, you cede control, and have to trust that your partner will deliver. I received this very day (via e-mail), and excellent example of how a good collaboration can look, from a company with whom I have done business, Play-Well TEKnologies.
Play-Well is a for-profit venture with a social mission of engaging more kids to focus on science, using LEGO® products as both an enticement and their teaching tools. (Full disclosure: My two boys have both participated in more than one Play-Well camp and very much enjoyed it, so this parent is inclined to respond to their messaging!) Their target market is therefore parents of elementary school and middle school kids who have the money to invest in extra-curricular camps, and a desire to give them “productive developmental experiences.”
Swoop Bags is new to me, and a quick check of their site tells me they are new and much smaller than Play-Well, and after the same market (albeit catering to a slightly younger family.) They (actually “she”) have created a solution for controlling mounds of scattered lego pieces.
Play-Well TEKnologies therefore has the chance to offer a companion product that their parent/child customers could really use, and Swoop Bags gets access to a far wider pool of targeted prospects than it could working on its own.
I define this as a nice win for both. And their sweepstakes call-to-action engagement program is fun, easy to interact with (if you remember your log-ins…) and give you the chance to earn more sweeps entries than “the other guy,” a nice competitive twist to keep some of us (probably not me) coming back multiple times to earn more chances.
A well-thought-out program. Well done!
I was sitting with a client recently, suggesting new methods for reaching out to his target markets. One of the “new” methods I trotted out what the idea of mailing key targets a traditional bulk rate mailer. His reaction was immediate, and strong:
“I can’t afford that! It doesn’t work anymore. Everyone is online!”
Yikes. Most people are online looking for information, but we must still drive them there, and get them to go where we want them (our websites rather than the competition, for instance!)
Direct Mail Still Works: Why do you think it keeps arriving in your mailbox?
We love new stuff in the marketing profession. (If it’s social, it must be good, right?) As a result, we can be guilty of neglecting the tried and true. Running print ads, mailing letters, considering radio and TV, are all still quite viable tools for raising awareness and/or generating trial of your product or service. In many cases with my own clients, they are still more reliably effective than many New Media tools.
Most businesspeople have a solid understanding of the mechanics of traditional marketing channels, and understand the trade-offs. This makes them less sexy, of course, and marketers selling services to small businesspeople are apt to emphasize the newer, more experimental social media and other online tools, because clients aren’t familiar with them and a bit daunted by them. Indeed, social-media-only marketing agencies have sprung up like mushrooms after a summer rain over the last five years to capitalize on this inexperience.
As a result of this obsession with what is new and exciting, great traditional tools are left unused, to the detriment of the business. Direct mail, in particular, has advantages that should not be forgotten:
- Highly targeted – You can target one block of one neighborhood, or one consumer profile.
- Full of space for making yourpitch, and fully developing your argument for action.
- Easy to personalize in lots of creative ways.
- Retainable by the recipient for later review – Unlike e-mail, the recipient might actually review it, too!
- Proven to work, if done right.
None of these attributes are shared completely with any other marketing tools. Google AdWords come close, but are limited in space and visual appeal, and disappear immediately if not clicked on.
The only downside: Cost, and this is manageable by starting with small target lists, tracking closely and adjusting future mailings based on what you learn.
So put direct mail back into your toolbox and figure out where it might fit in your marketing mix. Then test, test, test until you get a “champion” that performs well, and brings you highly qualified leads that turn into real business.
I am a “stick to the basics” marketer when working with small businesses. Chasing too many opportunities to communicate with a diverse set of target markets (which contradicts the whole idea of a “target market”) dissipates impact and drains away frequency. Without frequency, of course, there is no impact!
In order not to drain your marketing of impact, never add more than one new element to your marketing mix at a time! Focus your scarce resources on making that one new marketing avenue work well before diverting energy to a different opportunity. Too many small business people lose focus and chase new ideas like a butterfly flitting from place to place. You will note that it takes the butterfly a long time to get from point A to point B. Using a butterfly approach to marketing bogs you down the same way.
You have my permission to ignore “great new marketing tools” until YOU are ready to fully take advantage of the benefits they offer, having fully investigated their offering, and what it truly takes to make that new tool work effectively. NEVER commit money, time and energy to a new tool based solely on the advice of the person selling it to you!!! (This seemingly obvious mantra is ignored by more small businesses than anyone can count…)
For more on my marketing mantras, please read my most recent Forbes article. Let me know what you think in the comments section (here or on the Forbes site.)