Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SPAM Sucks, But Hiding Is No Way To Run A Business

Recently, I had reason to contact a fellow writer. I didn’t want anything from her. Actually I wanted to do something for her. I wanted to send her a pdf of a newsletter in which she had appeared.

She was on LinkedIn, but we weren’t linked and I didn’t feel like messing with that (just like I very rarely “friend” on Facebook, I don’t link willy-ga-nilly).

This gal’s email address wasn’t on LinkedIn, of course. Her phone number was there, but I didn’t want to call her. I’m busy, too, and phone tag was unappealing on a rushed morning. Look, all I wanted to do was email something I knew she would appreciate and I was getting frustrated.

Nevertheless, I made a pilgrimage to her website. Guess what? No email contact info appeared there, either. None. I mean, I couldn’t even fill out an “info” request. So, I made a last-ditch effort. I took a stab and emailed to first I didn’t send the attachment at that point of course, fearing her spam filter would reject the email. So I just wrote and said, “Is this you?”

It was and I was able to send a follow-up email with the attachment. I went to a fair amount of effort to help out this fellow writer because I knew she was looking hard for work. Having said that, I will say this: It’s totally ridiculous.

A professional looking for clients – and she is definitely trolling – should be easy to find. I’m sorry she’s getting SPAM (join the crowd), and I understand her personal desire to avoid email onslaught. But that’s part of being in business. That’s part of what we deal with. Get over it.

Scott Ginsberg-- author of –ABLE: 35 Strategies for Increasing the Probability of Success in Business and in Life -- has worn a nametag 24/7 for the last decade. What’s his first bit of advice? Be Findable.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Direct Mail Works for This Recruiter When…

… it’s contained, targeted, and ready-to-roll when the phones ring.

Chris Taylor is vice president at Davis Advertising in Philadelphia. Awhile back, Chris posted on LinkedIn’s Direct Mail Group, commenting that "From the perspective of recruitment (help wanted) advertising, direct mail has significant advantages over other advertising media."

Chris acknowledges that direct mail has an image problem among some employers. "Our clients -- human resource professionals planning recruitment advertising campaigns -- regard direct mail as old fashioned." But Chris is still a believer. “We just launched This site actively promotes the use of direct mail to health care employers."

Chris’ endorsement intrigued me, so I checked out TalentMaps, which is quite an interesting approach to recruiting (you should take a look). Then I checked in with Chris to find out more about how his company uses direct mail to recruit.

“Our clients are primarily human resource professionals who are looking to recruit prospective employees who live within a reasonable commuting distance of their facility. We use mailing lists because no other medium reaches a higher concentration of our geo-targeted audience than direct mail. Typically, the number of recipients to a direct mail campaign is small, often less than 3,000 to 5,000."

Imagine that! “No other medium reaches a higher concentration of our geo-targeted audience than direct mail.” Who knew? (Well, okay, you knew, and you, and you, and you…)

Chris says the degree of personalization that Davis employs in the direct mail depends upon the client, budget, and recruiting situation. In my experience direct mail is the best resource for recruiting passive prospects. Generally, an employer's first attempt at recruiting/sourcing candidates is done via job boards. But job boards only reach a small percent of the overall workforce. Typically, people who are not actively looking for jobs are not visiting job boards. When job boards fail, employers look for other ways to recruit (including staffing firms).”

Chris acknowledges that successfully marketing to passive prospects is much more difficult than marketing to active job seekers. No surprise there. But the reason isn’t that direct mail doesn’t produce.

“From our perspective, the problem is that employers use the same process to capture response from ‘passive job seekers’ that they do with ‘active job seekers.' Passive prospects are not ready to be ‘candidates’ or ‘applicants'… they need a bit more persuading …. Moreover, most large employers funnel all applicants through their Web-based applicant tracking system. The process is (1) very cumbersome and (2) doesn’t have a process to handle individuals who would like to have a few questions answered before they apply.

Would an automated/trigger response system help HR departments manage incoming direct mail inquiries? I bet it would. And, yes, direct marketers can do that, too.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Political Fundraising Annoyances (and I Know It’s Not Just Me)

In the 2008 election, I was an active supporter of my political party. I gave money, volunteered, and “answered the call.” In the current election, not so much. I’m still going to vote my party, to be sure, but mostly because the other guys scare the hell outta me. In other words, it’s no longer passion for my party (actually, I’m an Independent) as much as how detestable the other side is. But I digress…

This blog post is about the naughty way my party is pursuing its fundraising. First, I’m on “I-don’t-know-how-many” call lists. “Telefund” shows-up on caller ID every day, usually twice. I get emails, too. Lots of them – from past presidents, congressional leaders, senators – even wives of politicians (no children so far, but that wouldn’t surprise me). I’m tired of it, you know?

Maybe that’s why, today, I relented and donated $25 to one of the appellants (please forgive my misuse of the word; I couldn’t resist). Within 30 seconds I had received a thank-you email (of course), and then -- lickety-split -- two additional email appeals. A minute later, a telefund call came in from a number in the same geographic region of the country that my politician represents. Coincidence? I think not.

And you know what? I don’t like it. I just did something you asked me to do and before the path to the front door was cool, you were coming back in, asking me to do something else.. and something else… and something else.

That’s bad manners. Cross media? Yes. Cross donor? Yes again. It may be good direct marketing, but, then again, maybe it isn’t. I'm a loyal customer and you made me mad. How good can it be?

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, October 15, 2010

Six Direct Marketing Trends Likely To Go Mainstream in 2011

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on the “Year Ahead” issue of Marketing AdVents published by DMAW, so I'm focused on industry trends. Six developments seem to be top of mind these days, but before I get to that, here’s a general observation based on nothing but chatter and intuition:

Things are moving out there in Direct Marketing Land. Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of company mergers and “affiliations,” especially on the production side of things. Along with that movement, there’s been a whole lotta job switching. For awhile, it was mostly people looking; lately it seems to be people finding. That’s good news. Motion is picking up, so let’s hope it’s not just a random windstorm, shakey, shakey,* Now, to the prognostications:

1. QR Code Explosion. These little roadmaps to wherever are going to the landscape next year, as marketers find ever more clever ways to use them. Put them on event promotions, business cards, marketing collateral, even p-URLs. About a year ago, Dana Oshiro suggested applying these to SWAG and self-branding, geo-based reviews and tours, ticketing and registration, and private “acts of defiance.” The construction industry has more applications, here. From the marketer’s perspective, check-out Joey Tanny’s post on Sparksheet (and don’t miss the comments). BOOM!

2. Icky Picky Mail. As postal rates go north, direct mail gets costlier, which means marketers will get more careful, targeted, relevant, creative, tested, and measured. Dave Lewis, DM guru and VP at ProList, came up with this terrific idea: Send a marketing email before you do your direct mail if you have email addresses. If a prospect clicks through to your landing page off of the email, delete them from the direct mailing. You already got their response. It’s that brand of icky picky that will make direct mail keep on keeping on. Thanks, Dave.

3. Direct Marketing and Social Media Integration. Cross media is all over the marketing Net, but strategic integration of social media into direct mail, email, pURLs, and telemarketing is less common. In fact, this study reports that 88% of social media spend is to solidify customer loyalty. But that is now and this is when. Jeffrey Stewart talked about social integration at the 2009 PODi AppForum, so the concept by no means new. However, social media nailed its place in marketing budgets this year, so integration is sure to follow in 2011 (as will positive results).

4. Email Is NOT for Everyone. I’m not saying email marketing is “dead” (though I hear there are obituaries on ice), but I am saying people really are buried in the email avalanche. Fellow blogger Leo Babauta, Zen Habits, sent a “Dear friends,” email that simply said, “I’m giving up on email. It’s just been too much, and I’ve decided I need to focus my life on creating rather than constantly answering emails.” Bottom line, three words: Opt-in only.

5. IMB Innovations. I already blogged at Digital Nirvana about my annoying and super-hyper personalized email marketing experience with Harry and David. But there’s one thing I loved. H&D sent my email the day after their catalog dropped. How did they know? Intelligent Mail barcode, of course. I’ve no doubt smart marketers will find even more intelligent ways to make this barcode shimmy.

6. Ever More Personal p-URLS. Currently, most personalized landing pages (p-URLs) feature a person’s name and maybe some stuff related to the offer that drove them to the page. What if we got really personal -- as personal as we are able to get in our digital direct mail – and then added hyper targeted links, images, and cross-sells to our customized landing page visitors? Too expensive? Hmmm… now that depends, doesn’t it. Shall we test?

p.s. *Thank you, Allstate, for GREAT copywriting and a tip of the windblown hat to Dean Winters.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Are You So Busy?

A recent email to members of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington from Executive Director Donna Tschiffely began, “We’ve entered into 2010’s fourth quarter and word is out that people are busy!”

So I’m not the only one who’s noticed that people are working hard, right? Let me add this: In my 30 years in this business, I have never seen anything like the levels of exhaustion, stress, anxiety, and just plain overwork that I’m seeing around me – everywhere – today. People are busy, yes. And people are tired.

A little light reading from Ray Kurzweil explains it all to me. Everything in our world is increasingly complex, while change is accelerating. Exponentially. Here’s how that's probably affecting you.

Once upon a time -- oh, maybe, 12 years ago -- your computer's operating system remained static for several years and was easy to upgrade. Over time, though, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs started changing your operating system more frequently. Some of those changes were nightmarish, but compare that technology tango to 2010.

If you’re like most knowledge workers, today you’ve got several computers -- a few at work, a few at home, and maybe one for travel. You’ve also got cell phones, which are getting smarter every day; external devices like the iPad, Kindle or Nook; video streaming equipment hooked up to your TV; several digital cameras; various computer gaming gadgets, GPS; etc. All of these devices malfunction, need upgrading, and become obsolete – and all of it happens much faster with each passing month. Very few people can keep up. Those who do can become “addicted, as this series in the New York Times explored.

Besides our personal technology running amok, everybody else's technology has the same vulnerability. It's cumulative in a way only The Rev. Malthus could appreciate.

How are people coping? Today I got the following response when I tried to email a fellow blogger:

Dear friends,

I'm giving up on email. It's just been too much, and I've decided I need to focus my life on creating rather than constantly answering emails. I hope you understand!

If you'd like to interview me, please send an email to xxx (at) gmail with the words "interview xxx" in the subject line (or it won't get through this filter) ... and please don't abuse this or we
will no longer speak! :) In general, the best way to contact me is on Twitter: ... friends can DM me on Twitter. Close friends and family, please call me if you like. Please do NOT email me or contact me on Twitter to promote your blog, or your product or service, to review your book, to join your network, to become an affiliate, or to do a guest post. I am not accepting any of these and will not appreciate being contacted for these purposes. I no longer accept advertising on any of my sites, nor do I do link exchanges or any other types of sponsorship. I am also not accepting consulting work at this time, as I'm completely booked.

This may be the 21st century version of retiring to a mountain in Madagascar to meditate. I’m trying to figure out how to get there myself.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

Friday, October 1, 2010

Give Me A Break Or I'll Crack Up. Now I Know Why.

I've been reading "The Singularity Is Near" by Ray Kurzweil (published in 2005) ... ... "singularity" being that point in human history where human and non-human intelligence merge.

As Kurzweil sees it, we are in the beginning of Epoch 5, within six epochs of human history. This is the Epoch where everything accelerates exponentially. For example, as Kurzweil sees it, "We won't experience one hundred years of technological advance in the 21st century; we will witness on the order of twenty thousand years of progress."

Kurzweil's book talks about the "canonical milestones," clusters of 28 significant events in human history identified by physicist and complexity theorist Theodore Modis. He notes that two of these milestones -- order and complexity -- are growing exponentially.

I'm not sure where the "order" comes in. Everything seems chaotic to me, so I need to keep reading. But I totally understand the reality of what I've been sensing and feeling for the past 8 or 9 months: Namely, human beings are having a difficult time dealing with this acceleration of complexity milestone. In short, the pressure to "keep up" with ever faster and more complicated change is making human beings crazy.

Oh ... in researching the book, I just learned that The Singularity Is Near has been made into a movie currently traveling the indy circuits. Put me first in line for that one! This is amazing and life-altering stuff. Mind-bending, yes.. but worth ever twist and turn.

So, if that's the problem, what's the solution? My first guess is that we need to simplify and downsize (physical clutter can't help with this overwhelmed psyche, despite the assbackwards approach that a lot of people seem to be adopting via hoarding). On the other hand, we need to make technology our partner here (I mean, that's the idea, right).

I'm thinking, I'm thinking ...