The Impact of Advertising Copy Testing

When we are young, we are often told that there is no harm in making a mistake. To quote Magic School Bus, it’s a necessary part of our learning experiences to “take chances, get messy, and make mistakes.” But while making mistakes is an important part of learning, the result of making that mistake isn’t always limited to what we learn from it. Sometimes mistakes have really dire consequences. In fact, when it comes to an advertising campaign, a mistake can be fatal to the campaign, the product or service being advertised, and sometimes even to the company in question. That’s why copy testing is so important to the campaign—and the company.

Let’s take a look at some popular examples:

The most recent (and viral) example of a company making a giant advertising mistake is the latest Pepsi ad, which features Kendall Jenner diffusing a protest march by “breaking barriers” to offer a police officer a Pepsi, turning the protest into a giant unified celebration of the power of Pepsi to deliver a message of peace. The “global message of unity, peace, and understanding” that Pepsi was going for, however, missed its mark—by a lot. Pepsi later apologized for the ad’s apparent minimization and dismissal of the importance of social movements like Women’s Marches and Black Lives Matter protests. So far, Pepsi—and Jenner—seem to have come out of the controversy relatively unscathed, but while many companies attempt to target controversy in order to gain the potential of “going viral,” this particular attempt was most definitely a mistake for the company.

The lesson? Choose your controversial statement wisely to ensure you aren’t alienating, undermining, or re-victimising your target demographic.

And Pepsi isn’t the only corporation to fall victim to airing a commercial that never should have seen the light of day.

Motrin also made a commercial blunder with their wear your baby ad. Intended to offer Motrin as a solution for those who suffer back and neck pain from “wearing their babies” in strap-on backpack-style carriers and the like, the ad decided to take a more creative approach by sarcastically commenting on the “trend” of wearing a baby as a fashion statement. The ad also suggested this fashion trend could be detrimental to the health and safety of the infant, and concluded by telling parents that they need to take Motrin so they won’t look “tired and crazy.” The commercial was pulled and an apology was issued after a “digital tsunami of protest” was followed by a boycott of the product.

If the plan was to appeal to parents to sell more Motrin, then the company’s mistake ended up driving away the exact demographic they were attempting to attract.

These are just two of the dozens of examples out there of advertising blunders that have had severe impacts on the companies involved. The wrong statement in the wrong tone at the wrong time or in the wrong context can create a lot of backlash that can do more than end the company’s campaign—it can destroy the company’s image. If Pepsi was trying to look hip and youthful, it managed only to convey the message that it really isn’t connecting with its millennial audience, and that creates the potential to alienate that entire audience—and it only takes one mistake in one advertising campaign to do it. Motrin was clearly trying to appeal to parents, and it ended up creating a boycott that would cost the company significant sales.

And issuing a mere apology isn’t going to resolve the situation. Those previous customers who were offended by the add felt betrayed by a campaign that is supposed to communicate directly to them to sell a product that clearly must be for them. It will take work for both of these companies to regain the trust of the potential consumers they’ve alienated.

And it all could have been prevented

Instead of focusing their efforts on damage control and reparation, both Pepsi and Motrin could be working on attracting new clients, and all it would have taken is copy testing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copy_testing). Copy testing those ads before they went out could have prevented the controversial backlash that cost both companies their customers, but the key is that the product needs to be copy tested to the right people. You can’t show the Pepsi commercial to a group of white supremacists and expect the same results from the Black Lives Matter activists. Using the right copy testing techniques and appealing to the right company to help you achieve those techniques is the best thing you can do for your advertising campaign.

What is Concept Testing?

One of the core tasks that marketers can use to increase a product’s success on the market, concept testing can occur at many different stages of a product’s development. At each stage, from initial vision to packaging and promotion, concept testing helps to narrow the focus of developers and maximize resource allocation. The ultimate result? Products with good concept testing will be in a position to succeed.

Testing Ideas

The name “concept testing” gets to the heart of what it’s about: testing concepts, or ideas, before you spend resources executing them. If you have an idea for a product, you can invest in developing that product, and then, when it gets to market, it might succeed or it might fail. If it succeeds, great, but if it fails, you will have invested time and money for nothing.

If, instead, you investigate your idea using concept testing, you mitigate the risk of failure in two ways. First, you determine whether the idea is worth pursuing at all—if concept testing shows that your idea would fail, then you know to move on and find a different idea to invest in. Second, concept testing tells you what, specifically, people find appealing about your idea, so that you can focus on developing those unique, appealing qualities, rather than focusing on an aspect of your idea that might not be as exciting to the market.

Feedback at Every Stage

The development of a product is a long and complex process. You begin with an idea, but you then iterate on that idea, finding better versions of it until you settle on what exactly to develop. Even then, however, you have a long way to go—you have to determine the specific features that distinguish your product on the market, and you have to make sure those features appeal. You have to determine the best way to package your product and draw the right attention to it. You have to determine who exactly you want to appeal to, and you have to target your product to that market’s needs.

Even when your product is on the market and selling well, you will always be working to improve it. Perhaps you want to make variants of your product that will appeal to slightly different markets, such as a simpler but more user-friendly version of software for amateurs, or a healthier burger for people on a diet. You will also want to keep the marketing of your product up-to-date, adjusting to changing tastes and staying ahead of the competition. All of these projects require further concept testing to make sure they continue to succeed in an evolving market.

You might have heard the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master something, but that’s only half the story. The only way to guarantee improvement, whether you’re learning a skill or developing a product, is to have constant feedback informing you of what needs work. Concept testing provides that constant feedback at every stage of development so you can be certain that your product continues to improve.

The Art of Concept Testing

While concept testing involves predictive behavioral measurements and qualitative analysis, it is not all science. The truth is, what people say about their reactions to a product will always contain some bias. For example, if you have introduced multiple products, then the order in which you introduce them will affect how people respond to them—they might respond more positively to an idea just because it is different from the previous idea, which they disliked. Another problem is that, when concept testing is done in groups, people will give answers that are influenced by their perception of what the others around them think. Finally, saying you would buy something is different from actually buying it.

Marketing experts develop techniques to filter through this bias and determine the underlying patterns of behavior. For example, they can change the order in which they present concepts, and then track how the order affected responses. They can encourage people to answer written questions before having a group discussion. Most of all, they develop experience with how responses line up with actual behaviors.

Good concept testing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concept_testing) is an invaluable component of any product’s development, no matter how raw or polished that product might be.

Know the Importance of a Branding Agency for a Startup

One of the common mistakes of startups is overlooking the need for branding their company image. There is no doubt finances, new hires, shipping and delivery is important for startups. However, advertising and startup branding is also essential for customer outreach and overall success.

You need to strategically think about branding that will ultimately get you the users and lead your startup to profit. For all this you need a branding agency in Seattle or Los Angeles that will build a brand that stands test of time and connects you to users. Let’s see the importance of a branding agency for your startup.

Know the Importance of a Branding Agency for a Startup

Sometimes Even the Best Ideas and Product Fail

A great idea or product is not a guarantee of success. However, your startup can write a new success story by considering branding strategically. One of the biggest benefits of branding is recognition. This can help you in meeting with investors when you pitch them for investing in your startup.

If your brand cannot be marketed, there are very less chances of getting investment. A strong brand attracts investors and users. Having investors supporting your idea means you will have the required funds to run the company while having users means you have finally tapped the stream of revenue.

Establish your Company Identity

A brand is not just a name, website or a logo. It is a promise made to the customers and fulfilled. For startups, brand is a living experience that starts with aspirations of the founder and extends to everything from product to customer service and marketing.

A company’s brand allows your customers to pick your product in the crowd of sameness. Your brand is specifically associated with the experience your customer gets from your product. For example, in overcrowded smartphone market, Apple comes across as a popular brand that has a character of sophistication and simplicity.

A creative agency will take the creative responsibility of the brand while you focus on other essential activities of your business.

Inspire Customer Loyalty

Every day your consumers are bombarded with several new product offers and new brands. To grab the attention of your consumer, you need more than a great product.  You need to accept the challenge of creating a unique marketing campaign that will connect you with customers because without customers, your startup cannot succeed.

A good branding company will successfully create a brand image that will help your company stand out in the crowd and will also encourage customer loyalty. Branding continues to remain one of the key elements of success for all businesses.

Differentiate from competition

Branding helps a startup differentiate from competition. Formulating a brand requires a company to conduct a research of the customer base. This helps them articulate what makes them unique and what gaps their product is filling in the market. The ability to specify their unique contribution enables the company to attract new customers who are looking for new product or service offered by startup.

Promise of Longevity

Establishing and marketing a brand sends clear signal and assurance to customer that company will be in business for long time.  A branding agency works to formulate a brand identity that coincides with your company’s value statement, mission and goals. Employing a branding strategy also shows that your startup is investing in its own mission and product.

Every startup begins with a story and branding makes it easy for you to tell the story to your customers in an interesting way. The visual aspect of branding makes your startup image stick to the minds of the customer.

There is no doubt creating a brand image is essential to the success of the company. It is also a fact that it is the hardest task to accomplish unless you hire a branding agency for the job. A good brand image can make your presence felt in the market and a market share means customers that bring in revenue.

Benefits of Direct Mail Solutions for Businesses

In the digital era, you may be tempted to move to online advertising solutions such as email, social media for marketing especially, given the low cost of these medium, but ever wonder if your email or social media messages get to attract the attention of your target audience. Experience shows most of promotional emails go straight to trash. Similarly, the promotional content on television, radio, may or may not, catch the attention of a wider audience.

On the other hand, direct mail solutions like post cards, brochures, etc., have the power to get into the hands of the specific, target audience and guarantees that your message gets into the hands and eyes of the recipient of the direct mail. Businesses have been sending such marketing material for long now, and they continue doing so proves the efficiency of this form of advertising.  Sales letters, brochure, order form, prepaid return envelope, etc.

Benefits of Direct Mail Solutions for BusinessesDirect mail solutions are highly persuasive and with the help of the digital media, they offer a new and unique perspective to the age-old format of mail order advertising.  Appealing to the senses of the audience, these tools help engage better with your target audience. Your organization too can benefit from sending mails solutions directly to the physical addresses of your target customers. Some of the benefits of such direct mail services are:

•  Direct Targeting of the specific market: Advertising on mediums such as radio, television, and internet offer generic targeting of the customers, as against direct mail solutions such as sales letters, post cards, flyers that offer great ways to target specific customers, and markets for better leads and sales. Update your mailing lists, so you can better target according to the demographics’, gender, age, etc., as such targeting helps in identifying the right leads that can convert into sales.

•  Cost Effective: Many consider direct mail solutions as cost intensive, requiring huge spending on designing and printing of brochures, sales letters, etc., but the advancements in technology have made many software available to help easy designing and printing of such brochures, flyers, etc., in a very  cost effective manner.  Additionally, direct mail helps you share the costs when you collaborate with other businesses to send out your marketing materials as inserts in their brochures; you can also in partnership with many businesses in the region can come up with a coupon booklet, which has a wider reach.

•  Wider Reach: Digital marketing has a global reach and a huge competition; in addition, experience proves that people do not go beyond first few pages of search results, meaning to gain any visibility you will have to appear in the first few pages. When competing at a local or a global level featuring in the very first few pages becomes a tough task. On the other hand working with print and mail services provider, you have the benefit of gaining visibility and sending your message across to the target customers.  In addition, aged consumers, busy consumers, and people who do not have internet access  may not get to know about your brand with digital marketing, radio or television marketing if they do not see the particular programs or space where you advertise your products and services, direct mail gets your message straight into the hands of target customers.

•  Personalization: Direct mail solutions helps create that personal relationship with your prospects and existing customers, you address your customers or the mail recipients with their name rather than saying, “Valued Customer,” you also create a unique and a compelling story about your products, services and how they are of help to your customers. People like to hear stories and compelling stories will leave a lasting impression, direct mail (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-direct-mail-advertising.htm) offers you a chance to leave such an impression on your prospects.

•  Measurable: The US department of Posts says that the success or performance of campaigns for a direct mail solution such as print coupons, etc. is highly quantifiable, and measurable. When a store advertises its products with a direct coupon, they can include a coupon code in the coupon book, sales brochure etc., for presentation at certain stores to avail free samples or discounts on purchase of companies products. It becomes easy to measure how many consumers have used such promotions free items and discounted prices.

Direct mail solutions works wonder when used in combination with other channels such as electronic, print, etc. Experience shows that with the right strategy direct mail improves the response rate for other channels, as well!

Six Reasons Why Inbound Marketing Will Beat Traditional Advertising

The recent trend with marketing is the use of ebooks, blog posts, email campaigns to cover potential customers of a business. These would replace traditional advertising, and it is a bold fact that there is a massive surge towards content marketing for all types of brands. As the surge towards content marketing is on the cards, many brands follow a tactical approach to transform their email subscribers, repeat readers and social followers into customers. The simple reason behind why content marketing is beneficial than traditional advertising is that, ‘ it works well’.

Traditional advertising VS Inbound marketing:

Traditional advertising techniques are found everywhere, these include listing in business directories, trade shows and expos, brand awareness campaigns, newspaper advertising, advertising through radio and television, poster ads and ads in movie theaters, advertising through monitors in shopping malls, airports, etc. Idea behind traditional advertising is to create maximum visibility for a business so as to convert its visitors into potential customers. But the traditional advertising market is fierce and at times, places the business ads of a company with that of its competitors. These ads need to be consistent and repetitive to create a strong effect on consumers and the possibilities are that, bigger companies dominate the industry compared to smaller ones.

Inbound marketing:

Inbound marketing makes use of the internet as a potential marketing tool and allows its customers search and research brands online before making the purchase decision. It offers a stable approach towards advertising and its focus is on winning the attention of the consumer through engaging and up to date contents in the form of blogs, forums, videos and podcasts. Engaging contents connect with the customer positively, helping them connect with the business at the end as it takes control of the customer, It offers more information to the customer than he is actually looking for and provokes the interest of the buyer through engaging content. Nowadays, there are several inbound marketing agencies in Virginia, Washington, DC and all over the US.

Six Reasons Why Inbound Marketing Will Beat Traditional AdvertisingSix definite reasons why inbound marketing is better than traditional advertising:

1.  It harnesses the complete potential of the internet and social media:

There are more than 25 billion internet users across the world, social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter allows users to like, share and recommend a product at just a click. By tapping the complete potential of internet marketing, online contents are capable of getting viral within seconds as it is being shared by millions of online users.

2.  Customers go behind business owners:

Business owners face a welcome change with content marketing, customers go behind them as internet empowers them to look for online business information. Since customers are the ones going behind business owners, the likelihood of them making the final purchase is quite high.

3.  Target audience promptly:

Inbound marketing targets content towards specific customers, who would be interested in the offer. No longer business owners have to shoot in the dark and wait for customers to call them back about the offer.

4.  Customers are not interrupted:

Customers are not disturbed by calls from tele-marketers or by salespersons at the door. No spam emails, pamphlets or brochures on products they are not interested in disturbs them. They simply search the WWW for what they are interested in and hence the buying decision is completely at their perusal.

5.  Incurs less cost compared with print media:

Traditional advertising methods are pretty costly and to set up a campaign for creating brand awareness is a hectic task. Inbound marketing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inbound_marketing) costs much less compared to traditional ways and its potential to gain great results is high.

6.  Marketing on the go:

The entire world has gone mobile, with such wireless technologies and mobile development, access to the internet for an average person is available everywhere and anywhere. They are able to search business online and make purchases on the go.

Verdict:

Customers today get educated on the products, before spending their money on them, they visit a number of places online and offline before purchasing the product they want. No doubt marketers work hard to improve their inbound marketing skills to enhance their sales ratio.

Power of Hand Addressed Envelopes in Direct Mail Marketing

Though people are immersed in their daily dose of technology, marketers believe that the traditional style of sending letters and postcards to their customers is still a successful marketing strategy. Along with other marketing strategies such as advertising, email marketing, digital marketing and social media marketing, the good old direct mail marketing seems to wave its magic on customers and increase the response rates, customer retention and value of the product or the service overall. The reason behind this is simple and clear, people love receiving letters in their mailboxes, personally addressed to them. Letters are certainly more emotional and personal than text messages or phone calls can ever be. The very fact that letters are limited and rare also makes them more valuable and treasurable. Though the words are less, emotions are more; though they are rare, they are special and though they are old, they are still loved. The same psychology is used by businesses to establish a personal relationship with their new customers and maintain the same with their old customers.

There are many strategies used to increase the response rates of direct mails such as variable printing services, which are used to print mailers of different types for different groups of customers. Using real time stamps to create a sense of authenticity and trust is another such strategy.  Power of Hand Addressed Envelopes in Direct Mail MarketingHand addressed envelopes, though sounds simple, is one such powerful strategy that has worked wonders for many marketers so far. It is indeed intriguing when said that a strategy as simple as this, having hand addresses envelopes to enclose the mailers can have such a great impact. In fact, it is noted that hand addressed envelopes have a record 100% open rates, irrespective of what’s there inside them. So, what’s the secret behind these hand addressed envelopes and what’s so special about them that every direct mail marketer prefers using them? Read on to find out.

• The first and foremost thing to be expected from direct mails is that they are very personal and heart-warming. Unlike cold emails and corny phone calls, beautiful and straight forward letters tend to win over customers. Having their name written on the envelopes in beautiful hand writing makes the customer feel valued and respected. A customer will acknowledge the time and effort that’s been put to personalize the letter and will certainly tend to open the envelope and see what’s in there. If marketers are looking to personalize their mails, a big bundle of personalized, hand addressed envelopes is what they need.

• As mentioned above, direct mail marketers don’t shy away from admitting that direct mails sent in hand addressed envelopes have a 100% open rate. The above mentioned point is a clear reason why customers open hand addressed envelopes, it’s because they really feel that the letter was exclusively written for them and it wasn’t just a company mail that was sent to every other customer in that area or block. To simply put, hand addressed envelopes make your customers feel special and valued.

• These hand written envelopes also create a very good first impression in the minds of your customers. Intrigued by the warm gesture and the beautiful hand writing, customers are naturally tempted to tear open the envelope and see what’s in there for them. Once they tear open the envelope, a catchy headline and a warm letter layout will further do the job of motivating them to take an action.

• Higher open rates lead to higher response rates and higher response rates in turn lead to higher return of investment. Naturally if the customers are impressed by the hand addressed envelopes, they will be interested to see what’s in the envelope. More the number of people who will read the letters, more the responses the company will receive. Letters that include responding channels like QR codes, website links and contact numbers are likely to get higher response rates. And logically, higher the response rates, higher the return of investment (ROI). In addition, it doesn’t really cost much to personalize the letters using hand addressed envelopes, as all it takes is a reliable database and a few skilled handwriting artists.

Eight Tips to Increase Your Direct Mail Response Rates

Today’s kids are born with smartphones in their hands and laptops on their laps. They probably wouldn’t even know why there’s a mailbox outside their house. But for today’s grownups, that same mailbox was once the most precious thing, the same mailbox which brought appointment orders, love letters, New Year wishes and get well soon postcards. That anticipation while waiting for a letter from a dear one and the sheer joy and surprise while receiving that letter, those moments are undoubtedly more personal and more memorable than a text message. People were/are emotional about letters and treasured them even after they read them. Letters were often read again and again, letters were even framed because they were so rare, yet so valuable. Probably, that is the reason direct mail marketing still works, even in the age of e-mails, smartphones and internet. Because people still like to open their mailboxes and hope there’s a letter for them.

Eight Tips to Increase Your Direct Mail Response RatesDirect mail marketing is proven to be more personal and responsive (if done the right way) and no wonder many companies still believe in direct mail marketing as an efficient marketing strategy. E-mails are often considered as spam and sales calls often end with a hello. But letters are neither spammy nor annoying, letters are still those rare and valuable things that don’t see a trash bin as soon as they are received. Printing letters using variable printing services and sending them out is only one part of the direct mail process, but generating responses and revenue is the bigger part. It is indeed a costly affair to send out letters with stamps on them, personalizing them to each receiver. Hence it is only wise that a little time, money and effort is invested in getting positive response rates with each direct mail marketing campaign. Here are a few tips to achieve them, in the most cost effective manner.

• The first rule of direct mailers is to personalize them and make best use of the customer database. Try to know their likes and dislikes and customize the content and layout of the letter accordingly. Handwritten envelopes and letters are a great example of personalized direct mails.

• Speaking of database, try to analyze your customer behavior and focus on cost reduction and better targeting. It is of no use to repeatedly send costly mailers to customers who are repeatedly not interested in a particular product or service. Test and revise your database and always iterate.

• The reason why e-mails are spammed because they force the customer to do a lot of different things, all at once. Be clear about the message/information you want to convey and stick to the point. If good responsive rates are desired, it is wise to stick to a single pitch.

• A strong or catchy headline, valuable and reliable information, sales pitch that is more convincing than pushy and above all, information that is streamlined, well organized and detailed. One must follow these content rules to keep the customer engaged and in turn take actions.

• Rather than asking your customers to decide what they want, one could go a step further and try to be mildly suggestive. A call-to-action reflects your company’s or brand’s confidence and vision. Create a sense of value and urgency to your product or service by setting deadlines and last date offers.

• Word-of-mouth advertising is the most efficient form of advertising as the recommendation comes from a close person whose qualities and choices are always respected and often followed. The best way to get good responsive rates on direct mails (http://www.ehow.com/info_7851713_typical-direct-mail-response-rates.html) is by impressing your customers in the first place.

• When the whole world is immersed in websites and apps, direct mails can act as an effective bridge to bring your customer online through QR codes and website links. If you want good responsive rates, it is important to provide responding channels such as phone number, email id or QR codes so that the customers can easily navigate from a letter to a computer screen.

• Lastly, be it the content or the design, real stamps or handwritten envelopes, always try to be different and better than your competitors by standing out in the crowd, requiring customer attention and inspiring them to take actions.

How to Send Effective Hand Addressed Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail campaigns are a fast, effective and an affordable option to get noticed by the customers. Direct mail services are a unique marketing form as they not only target the customers, but offer a professional and personalized way to market the products and services. While many of the companies spend thousands of dollars on some advertising forms, many companies value the benefits provided by the personalized direct mail campaigns because of the personal touch.

How to Send Effective Hand Addressed Direct Mail CampaignsNo doubt, many companies are using television, telemarketing, internet marketing and radio, etc.; however, only direct mail marketing has the ability to target a specific type of audience. The hand addressed direct mail campaigns instantly send the personalized letters, brochures, business cards or any other kind of mail to the home of the various recipients or their workplace.

Advantages of using effective hand addressed direct mail campaigns are

1.  Color printing can be used on the direct mail letter or brochure or mail to print a personalized hand written font in blue or any other color ink, which absolutely resembles an original color ink pen. Additionally, the return addresses as well as the company logos can be color printed. This not only leaves a good impression on the message receiver, but will also create awareness about the brand.

2.  The business houses or the companies get the option to create their own handwritten fonts.

3.  Hand addressed direct mails gives the message a personalized look. They have the ability to take away the look of the junk mails. The hand addressed direct mails are in a capacity to capture the recipient’s attention quickly than other forms of mails. With so much competition all around, people are always in a hurry and finding out time to address the mail in their own handwriting is pretty slim. Thus, when the message receivers get hand addressed envelopes, they feel good.

4.  Envelopes that look personally hand addressed are associated with having a greater appeal and the recipients are sure to open them. The more recipients get interested in the hand addressed mails, the more is the chance of an increase in potential sales.

5.  The hand addressed mails have a lower postage cost.

6.  Calligraphy fonts are an unusual form of digital writing and will certainly help in your message being noticed by your potential customer. Most of the customers have never seen this kind of mailing, so the chances of success are high. They will no doubt be quite impressed with the effort put into the task.

7.  Hand addressed direct mails will not let your customers miss the important part of the message. So underline the key words that are important in your message as they will get noticed quickly if they are hand addressed.

8.  A lot of time goes into crafting a perfect message when it comes to use direct mail campaigns. Hand addressing the messages can enhance its chances of being opened and read. If this is not done, your message may land in the trash. Moreover, in this highly advanced digital era, the chances of getting hand addressed mail are so rare that the odds of such messages being opened increases exponentially.

9.  Real handwriting on the envelopes also speaks volumes about the seriousness of the message. It also sends out a message that you have taken out a lot of time and effort in writing this message and addressing you.

So, in order to get your voice heard in the din created by myriad marketing noises, it is important that all the challenges to reach the target audience is successful. Thus, add a powerful punch to the business or personal direct mail (http://www.ehow.com/about_6546723_effectiveness-direct-mail-advertising.html) and effectively reach your existing and potential customers through a handwritten mail. You will see a dramatic increase in your results through the hand addressed direct mail campaigns. By adding these simple strategies to your marketing efforts, you will definitely engage and excite your prospects.

5 Ways to Use Direct Mail Marketing For Small Businesses

Direct mail has been the most profitable marketing tool for ages, compared to other tools such as digital marketing or traditional TV and print ads. The reason for this is simple: it increases the response rate and provides a much higher return on investment with a much lower cost compared to other advertising tools.

According to a report by Harvard Business Review, businesses experience a 25% response rate when using direct mail marketing compared to only a 23% rate for emails. Also, direct mail solutions costs much less than pay-per-click or print advertising, according to the DMA.

5 Ways to Use Direct Mail Marketing For Small BusinessesHowever, simply including direct mail in your marketing strategy is not going to make a difference. Instead, you have to utilize it correctly to make it work for you.

Wondering how to use it correctly? Then take a look at the following five ways to use it for your business.

1. Formulate a Strategy

Like every other marketing technique, the success of your direct mail marketing campaign largely depends on the strategy you formulate before the first piece is delivered.

Define the goal of your campaign, such as building awareness or winning over new customers; the target market, whether local or hyper-local; the budget; and the mailing frequency to name a few.

2. Include a Call to Action

If you don’t tell your customers what you want them to do when receiving your mail, they will hardly respond to your message and all your efforts and investments will be in vain.

Therefore, always include a direct response or call to action in all your mailings by telling your target audience what to do next and when and how to do it based on your campaign objective.
For example, if you have a retail store and you want your potential customers to come to your store, then you can ask them to visit in the next five days for larger discounts as a next step and tell them when you are open and how they can reach your store (by including a customized map).

Similarly, if you want them to visit your website to avail an offer, you can include a coupon as a call to action which can be redeemed by visiting your site.

3. Make Your Copy Attractive

To what kind of message would you prefer to respond to? A colorful, attractive and beautifully designed mail addressed specifically to you or a flat, black and white generic mail?

Of course the former, right?

The same goes for your customers. Use larger and easy-to-read fonts, have a simple, yet eye-catching design and, most importantly, write an effective copy that will drive the customers to respond.

The best way to make it is to use the “AIDA” formula. It is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. If you follow this approach, your copy is bound to stand out.

Moreover, to generate better results, you should personalize it by addressing customers with their name or even by including a handwritten thank you note and personalized URL.

4. Refine Your Target Database

The key to success of any marketing campaign depends on identifying and targeting the right type of buyers. If you send a fundraising mail to a disinterested donor, you will hardly get a response. Similarly, if your product is for women only and you send a mail to a male group, your campaign will end up damaging your brand.

So make sure you narrow your target list according to your requirements. Whether it is by industry, gender, geography or income level, the success of your direct mail marketing relies on how well you address the customers who actually have a need for your services.

5. Test, Test and Test

By now, you have got an overview of what you need to do to make direct mail marketing work for you, but the most important step is testing. You need to test your campaign to see what works and what doesn’t work so that you can tweak it accordingly.

One of the best and easiest ways to perform the testing is the A/B split test. If you need to mail to 1,000 potential customers, do not mail them all at a first go. Instead, make a small sample size of 200 and mail 100 of them with one headline and the other 100 with a different headline to find out which one works better. Similarly, you can use hand addressed envelopeshand addressed envelopes, change the font size, design, color or even the call to action to see what works best.

So how do you use direct mail marketing (http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/directmailmarketing/tp/hub-pros-directmail.htm)? Do you have any points to share?

Why Business Management is Important for the Success of Your Company

There are several qualities that result in successful businesses, and many of these things are organized and driven by managers and management teams. Here are a few of the important things business management teams do well that helps a company’s success.

Why Business Management is Important for the Success of Your Company

Cultivate culture

Every company has a culture – or a belief system, often driven by whatever they have earmarked their ‘core values’ to be. To perpetuate this culture, companies have to hire people who are naturally inclined to possess the traits they desire and who will be naturally willing to promote and support the company’s core values. Business managers carry a lot of responsibility in this respect because they promote the brand of the company, not only to customers or clients, but to employees too. A good business manager helps to continually cultivate the company’s culture amongst its employees.

Strategy

Proper business management is all about strategy and following the dictated plan of how to move a company from one level to the next. A good business that is implemented effectively will influence and permeate throughout a business. It often falls to business managers – depending on the industry – to devise or redesign these plans, and then enforce them.

Taking risks

Not all risks are, well, worth the risk. This is particularly true when it comes to business, but in business, you often have to take measured and calculated risks to get ahead. A strong business management (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-business-management-consulting.htm) team should act as knowledgeable advisors regarding the possible risks (or leaps) the business could take, and then mapping out the cause and effect of each. At the end of it all, with proper information and guidance, a business owner should be able to choose the best risk for the company that will pay off in the end.

Financial plan

I financial plan for any business is critical. Setting forth and adhering to a budget is critical – no matter how big the budget is that you are working with. Finances need to be allotted to particular departments, or to research or even material procurement and salaries – ever dollar must be accounted for, and a business manager should be a great asset in this department. With their breadth of experience, they will have the knowledge necessary to help you determine where you can afford to spend, and where you should skimp.

Tax plan

Every business needs a tax plan if they hope to succeed. Tax plans should encompass everything from profits and losses to succession, in order to maintain a business’s strength and presence in its given market. Proper tax planning can save a business a lot of money and help them to budget their finances more effectively.

Streamlining processes

It’s all about efficiency and a proper business manager on the ground floor will be a great asset when determining where the slack is in the business. This could be determining if there are any redundancies in employee jobs/tasks, or in the company protocols themselves. The more efficient a company’s operating and manufacturing processes are, the more profits it will net and the better it will be able to serve it’s client base.

Get with the times

Staying up to date with technology is an important off-shoot of streamlining processes. Whether it means installing new software on company computers, or updating the tech itself, say by introducing personal tablets to the work environment, being on top of technological advances and taking advantage of them for your business can never hurt.

Marketing

A strong and innovative marketing strategy can be hard to come by in today’s world of shock and awe – but the closer you can get to perfection and originality, the better. Your business manager should be a key player in the effort to keep each department informed and working with each other. Making sure that your marketing is in-line with your culture and your financial goals is a big job, but it’s also an important one. Marketing strategies can make or break your business, so you’ll surely want to have a solid go-between in a business manager to pick up the slack during the times you can’t represent yourself in important meetings.

There are so many more ways that good business management professionals and teams can work to make a business successful, or more successful than it already is. More often than not, businesses without a business manager are in desperate need of one – even if they are doing relatively well. It’s one of those things you didn’t know you needed until you needed it. Get ahead of the curve!