Monday, December 29, 2008

TransPromo Buzz

PODI’s AppForum scheduled for January 19-21 in Las Vegas has added a TransPromo Track. TransPromo adds personalized promotional messages to routine customer/member/donor communications like bills and statements. The goal is to up-sell, generate new revenue, etc. Variable data printing and print-on-demand technologies put TransPromo capability into any marketer’s toolbox. Expect to hear more about the technology in months ahead.

Monday, December 22, 2008

7 Ways To Fail

The Nightingale-Conant newsletter reports on Larry Winget’s audio program, Success Is Your Own Damn Fault. Winget is guilty of contributing to the genre of "success formula books" he's criticizing, except he’s not promising success; only failure if you don’t follow his “truths.” Makes sense to me.
  • Apathy will kill a business; care enough to do the job you're paid to do.
  • Forget attitude (positive or otherwise); if you find a problem, admit it and solve it.
  • You can’t make your employees happy, so don’t waste time trying.
  • You don’t have to love your job, but you do have to do it well.
  • Fire people when they don’t perform, and don’t hesitate [Note: I was struck by Winget’s notion that you destroy credibility with other employees when you don’t fire a bad one.]
  • Ethics matter. Do the right thing, even when it’s unpopular, or might cost you money, or might be embarrassing.
  • Do what you said you’re going to do; deliver what you said, you’d deliver. Ethics count.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dell Loves Twitter

Since mid-2007, Dell says Twitter has garnered them $1 million in revenue. Folks who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products go on sale at the company’s Home Outlet Store. Twitters can click over to purchase, or they can forward the info to others. That’s very good for Dell, but so far Twitter hasn’t made money on the deal. In 2009, Twitter will lay out its plan for how to cash in on its growing popularity. The plan may include the creation of premium corporate accounts to help companies like Dell pay the freight. In the meantime, Twitter has a lock on lots of [okay, an indeterminate number of] eyeballs and thumbs [Note, Twitter reportedly had about 275,000 users back in June 2007 and some 1 million+ in April 2008. Today? Not sure. It's controversial, says Techozi.]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is Print Terminal?

It's a no-brainer that marketers need to talk to everybody online... but have we really reached that point in history where print is terminal, if not quite dead? Are we at the historical crossroads where professional writers don't make a difference .. where we just all blog and twitter to each other?

That's the direction a lot of organizations are taking in order to save money. Some who do this point to the New York Times website as the "model." But, hey, as S. Murray Gaylord, vice president, marketing and customer insights for The Times reportdly said at the National Center for Database Marketing 2008: "To evolve their brand and keep moving forward in the new climate, began employing enhanced web features such as blogs and video capabilities, forging strong partnerships with new ‘participatory media’ like YouTube, and made major monetary investments in new media. Now, they are one seamless brand operating on many platforms such as print; web; mobile; iPhone; Amazon Kindle; and the Times Reader." I'm not hearing anything about discontinuing print there, which seems to be the piece of the puzzle some of the less-thoughtful -- or more desperate -- are missing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where Will All the Writers GO?

This has been a ghastly week for layoffs affecting many fellow writers, with Media Bistro reporting an uncommon number of headlines about media layoffs: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia lays-off 100 this year ; NBCU global will lay off 3% of its workforce, or 500 jobs ; Universal Pictures announced it will reduce headcount by about 3% ; “Nobody saw it coming,” but Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released “a lot” of employees from the publishing house ; Variety has folded its D.C. Bureau (just one job, but still, how can Variety Not have a D.C. correspondent?); Simon & Schuster has eliminated 35 positions; The Chicago Tribune is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy ; The Miami Herald is up for sale; Ogilvy may be in for a 2009 bloodbath that dwarfs its 2008 50 to 100-person purge, with New York management now looking at letting 200 to 250 staffers go after the holidaze; and, finally -- at least for today -- NPR will lay off 7 percent of its workforce.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How-To Info and Video: Press Release It

PR guru Greg Jarboe suggests that organizations employ news releases featuring useful how-to/do-don't info. “For a hundred years, PR folks have been doing press releases assuming, 'If the content isn't newsworthy, I couldn’t write it.' But there’s a lot of publications -- mostly magazines -- that provide how-to information. When optimized in a press release format, this content gets just as much readership and pulls just as much website traffic.” Jarboe also suggests adding video to press releases. “We did a press release for a Better Homes & Garden cooking contest. The three-minute YouTube video featured in the press release [showing viewers how to enter the contest] got 27,000 views ... and a record number of people entered the contest.” Wilson Web has the video interview with Jarboe.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Read, Bled, and Spread

John Jay Daly, venerable direct marketer and postal expert, recently submitted a Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post. He was contacted by The Post’s editorial department, which had some additional needs:
  • We need to verify that you wrote the letter and did not acquire any portion of it from other sources. [Other than properly attributed quotes.]
  • We need to know that you are using your real name.
  • Did you send or post this letter or a similar item to any other media, internet forums [including], or blogs?
  • We need to know, if it is not already mentioned, what your involvement, if any, is with the subject matter.
Looks like The Post would prefer that contributors not share opinion letters with “any other media, internet forum, or blog.” How The Post will manage this puzzles. Web content is being picked up, tracked, and replicated by information-randy rabbits on steroids. Even blog comments are being tracked with programs like BackType and you can be sure smart companies are reading blogs (one of my posts mentioning ChaCha received a corporate acknowledgement). Exclusive content? When everything anybody posts is read, bled, and spread... how to be exclusive?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Adrift In A Sea of Mail

Around November 20, three people in three different locations mailed me items First Class. Two weeks later, none had arrived. I finally went to my local Post Office to see if my packages were stashed somewhere. “Not here,” I was told; but the next day, all items appeared in my mailbox. My in-person query probably unearthed the backroom back-up. It's not that easy for direct mailers. A close friend who owns a mail house tells me that three of his recent commercial mail jobs have been floating around the Post Office for a month. Nothing’s been delivered and none of the managers at the P.O. can (or will) say where the letters are. Let’s all hope the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) can find mail gone adrift. So far, reports from DM insiders says IMB is magic. Nothing is getting lost. Come May 2009, though -- when discounts push usage into the millions/billions -- will the system allow for retrieval of information, or will we still need a willing human being to do the ask?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Privacy? Numbers In A Bucket

In exchange for a free smartphone, 100 students at M.I.T. have agreed to be tracked. The dormitory research project is being led by an M.I.T. professor who’s also the co-founder of Sense Networks, a software analytics company in New York that’s determined to figure out where people go and what they like. Sense looks at data from cell phone records and devices that feature global positioning systems, then applies complex statistical algorithms to sort it all out and make predictions. Direct marketers have known for quite awhile about demographic profiling and predictive modeling, of course. An article in the November 29 New York Times affirms the DM wisdom “…with the Internet, wireless sensors, and the capability to analyze an avalanche of data, a person’s profile can be drawn without monitoring him or her directly.” GPS tracking boosts this “collective intelligence,” disclosing not only where we go, but what we buy, which social networks we belong to, what Internet sites we surf, and … well, just about everything else. Harrison Brown, an 18-year-old freshman mathematics major who’s part of the tracked set at M.I.T. isn’t concerned. “The way I see it, we all have Facebook pages, we all have email and websites and blogs. This is a drop in the bucket in terms of privacy.” Some bucket, huh?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Online Coupons: Who Knew?

Fascinating article in The Times today about the explosion of online coupon sites where consumers can pick up “codes” that save them a lot of online shopping dollars. Sites like these are drawing folks who’ve never used coupons. Shoppers in-the-know suggest that people browse key-word search, using the name of an online store and the word “coupon.”

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mintel Is Fun to Visit

Consumer researcher Mintel features rotating ads of new consumer products on its landing page .. which is only part of the story. When I visited Mintel this morning, all the products spoke to the company's forecast on five main ways consumers are likely to adapt and make the best of 2009. (see Wise Marketer's Key Consumer Trends for an Uncertain 2009.) To wit, see how Mintel tied its top five consumer concern concepts into five featured advertisers.
1. Consumers in Control: Mirian Newman's "Incredible DIY Kit" for wash-off, on-the-go, nail colour.
2. Simplify and Purify: Tide Total Care, a new detergent designed to make clothes last longer. 
3. Rebuilding Trust: Josh Galecki, founder of Loop Apparel, the ultimate in consumer personalization. 
4. Trading Down: Capitol One's free checking account with great rewards.
5. Playfulness: Fun and happy in-store shopping experiences like Selfridges' Bollywood and Brazil events.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


An article by Bob Kelly in the September/October issue of Contact Professional talks about Speech Analytics. This new technology enables telemarketing contact centers to record all interactions. The speech data is then run through speech analytics tools to look for particular patterns or repeated words (for example, “wished” or “broken” or competitors’ names) that customers are using throughout the calls. Kelly notes that, “Coupling speech analytics with call recording helps contact centers easily identify required fixes for product offerings or business process.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mob Marketing

The baynote blog alludes to a “sea change” that happened in the early days of web content management. As the story goes, in 1998, content developers spent a lot of time talking to journalists, analysts, and customers about putting web publishing in the hands of internal content experts rather than webmasters infamous for creating a "bottleneck" in the flow of content. The webmasters were kicked aside, but that led to a new bottleneck born of content overload formed from tons of web junk whose utility couldn’t be measured. Baynote says complex search engines, analytics, and profile-based personalization hasn’t fixed the problem, either. The future, says Baynote, lies in turning content development over to the Mob. An outstanding example of this is Fertility Friend, an extraordinarily useful website where staggering amounts of data and research are willingly offered up by the "Mob of Women Trying to Conceive." I don't know what Fertility Friend does with the hundreds of thousands of ovulation charts patiently and generously shared by its users, but you better believe this approach to web content and use sets the standard. The Mob Rules. Thingaboutit.

Monday, November 17, 2008

MarketingProfs Worth The Money

I'm not employed by MarketingProfs and I'm not getting a commission, but I do recommend their premium membership (currently $199). I just downloaded three free research reports on email marketing. Profs is tagging their value at over $400. I don't know about that, but I do know that for somebody employed in or writing about marketing there's no better one-stop resource -- some sites may be as good, but none are better. Oh, and I can research a boatload of stuff and attend 45 online seminars for free. It's pretty unbeatable.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gekko Fun, But Not the Workhorse

At the Best of Direct ceremony on November 13, the Educational Foundation of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington handed GEICO the coveted Sisk Award for Direct Marketing Vision. In accepting the award on behalf of GEICO, Amy Fuhrman treated the attendees to a video composite of gekkos, cavemen, famous people "standing-in" for GEICO customers (Little Richard appeared to be the crowd favorite), and squirrels having a happy fist bump. Despite the t.v. ads' enormous popularity and appeal, Fuhrman noted that direct mail remains the "closer" in GEICO insurance sales, accounting for about 35 percent of new dollars. In 2008, GEICO mailed 20,000 cells in their direct mail campaigns and processed 565 billion records in database updates and campaigns. Today GEICO is the fastest growing auto insurer, the number one internet insurance company, and the third largest auto insurer in the U.S.
   Direct mail, baby ... it works.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pitching to the Cohort

Freelance copywriter extraordinaire, Bob Bly, has drilled down to what he calls the “grumpy old men” cohort. Bly says GOM are a primary market for many products and services sold through direct response, both offline and online. Naturally, Bly recommends tailoring DM copy to the needs, desire, and concerns of the GOM market; for example:
  1. Find out what irks GOM and suggest ways to resolve it (because, yes, they’re grumpy).
  2. Help GOM find low-risk ways to make money; they fear losing.
  3. Show GOM how to hold on to what they have.
  4. Offer GOM a positive message; scare tactics can backfire.
  5. Emphasize how your product or service can help GOM live independently.
  6. Appeal to the GOM’s sense of frugality.
  7. GOM have a sense of entitlement; speak to it.
  8. Before you write a word, conjure up a GOM you know.
  9. Make sure a GOM signs the letter.
All this insight, of course, is what makes Bly -- a self-acknowledged GOM -- a copywriter to imitate. Download the full article at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Smart Conference Marketing

The DMA featured a nifty item on its sign-in page for the DMA08 Conference. The landing page read: “Need to justify the show to your boss? Then run your own justification report to see if the topics, companies, products, or people who are of value to you and your organization will be at DMA08." To retrieve the "justification," all you had to do was "... tell MyDMA08 what you're looking for from the event—a list of companies, products, sessions, or people who are of immediate value to your business." That involved providing name, job function and email address, of course. (Data gathering anyone?) Voila! The justification report returned a list of pertinent stuff you'd need to garner senior management sign-off. Based on stated areas of interest, those who signed-on continued to receive periodic emails with info on exhibitors, people to meet, products to see, and recommendations delivered up until the date of the event.