How the Seasons Affect Your Direct Mail Campaigns

For the best results from your direct mail campaigns, learn how responses vary according to the time of year.

Some direct mail marketers focus so much on what they mail to whom, that they lose sight of another variable that’s just as important: when they mail. In my experience, most industries have a good time of year to mail (when they get stellar results), and a bad one (when you wonder if anyone out there is listening).

Do you know which season is best for you?

While you may have a general idea of good times to mail, you may not know those weeks or months to avoid – when your response rate falls like a stone. As an example, one of my clients mails sales letters about commodities. You know, corn, wheat, sugar, etc. They teach people how to trade commodities based on technical principles.

As you can imagine, one of our target prospects for this offer is farmers. The idea is that they can learn how to “hedge” their crops by buying and selling commodities. This makes them less vulnerable to changing market conditions. When I first started mailing this commodity offer to farmers, I had tremendous success. But…it didn’t last! After a few months, the response rate dropped off the table, to almost zero. Why?

After testing exhaustively, month after month, I figured out the problem. It was very simple. Farmers were NOT responsive during their harvest season.

Why? They are working 20 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t have time to read the mail. Or think about learning something new. But…they are HIGHLY responsive in the off-season, after the harvest. Knowing about this seasonality allowed me to aggressively mail farmers in the off-season, and avoid mailing them during harvest season.

Here’s another example. If you are a financial planner, do you know the best and worst times of year to mail?

Financial planners get the worst response rates during holidays – Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, etc. Their response is especially poor in November and December when most families are super busy planning and spending their money on gifts, travel, and food. What’s the BEST time for financial planners to mail? The first quarter of every year. January is best since families are evaluating their finances, and trying to find better ways to save and manage their money.

I send out over 250 mailings per year. I ALWAYS have something in the mail – every day, every week. I’ve identified money-making seasons for dozens of industries. And by mailing at just the right times, we are able to make the most out of our mailing. Experiment with small mailings and compare responses over time.

Armed with information on the best times to mail, you can make the best use of your advertising budget.

Saving the Earth, One Email at a Time

Traditional marketing practices tend to use a lot of paper. Consider how you can make operations more sustainable with digital communications.

Marketing is not exactly known for being an eco-friendly industry. In fact, the U.S. uses about 68 million trees each year to produce 17 billion catalogs and 65 billion pieces of direct mail, according to the American Forest and Paper Association. However, as the world becomes increasingly more digital, marketers have an opportunity to use digital tools to boost their environmental sustainability and turn this reputation around.

Many businesses plant trees to celebrate Earth Day; however, marketers who instead champion digital communication within their companies will benefit from a sustainable practice that can become a foundational part of their business. Consider the following best practices to help your company become more environmentally friendly for a sustainable future.

Move from direct mail to email.

When it comes to eco-friendly behaviors, some industries are better — and some worse — than others. Real estate, for instance, is notoriously old-fashioned in its marketing habits, relying predominantly on direct mail to reach customers. On the other hand, retailers who have embraced the shift to ecommerce tend to lean toward digital marketing to communicate with their customers. Internet retailers, in particular, generate very little paper across their business practices, delivering receipts, catalogs and other solicitations electronically.

Reducing your reliance on direct mail to reach customers will have a significant impact on the amount of paper waste your business creates. Shift your focus toward email, and consider how your current marketing content could be delivered electronically. Could a digital newsletter replace a brochure, or an emailed promotion replace a print mailing? Begin introducing QR codes to your print mailings that, when scanned on a smartphone, lead prospects to a landing page where they can easily enter their email address to receive digital communications. Use your traditional marketing pieces to promote your email list generation, and show your customers how they’re supporting your commitment to the environment. Taking that first step to digital might keep thousands of trees firmly rooted where they stand, and drastically reduce paper mailings from ending up as landfill.

Switch to scannable content.

While the restaurant industry has, for the most part, made the initial transition to electronic communication, they’re still lagging behind other industries in how they’re using it sustainably. Restaurants frequently send digital coupons and promotions to their customers but require customers to print them for redemption. While the communication to the customer has minimal environmental impact, the customer becomes the culprit doing damage to the environment.

Make sure the coupons and offer codes you distribute via email can be scanned and redeemed directly from a smartphone or other mobile device. Use responsive design tools to ensure your entire message and the offers it contains are easy to read and scan regardless of the device. Think about ways you can entice your customers to use digital devices for redemption, such as extending a better offer like free delivery to those who don’t print. If your business has an ecommerce site in addition to a physical location, consider whether that promotion can be used online as well as in store, and give clear instructions for both use cases.

Transition processes to an online portal.

Amazon is a force of nature, driving seismic shifts in the ecommerce, marketing and fulfillment industries. The company is setting the stage for how to do business digitally today, and one way Amazon’s influence has reduced paper waste is through the company’s online portal to manage workflow processes. Rather than mail hard copies of receipts and product manuals with new purchases, Amazon gives customers access to digital versions of these materials through their online accounts. These records can be accessed anytime and anywhere, and they track a deep purchase history so customers need not worry about losing documents.

If your business has an online component, consider how building out a customer-facing portal could cut down on overall paper waste. Migrate workflows for receipts, instructions and manuals to this portal, and make it accessible through many mediums like web browsers, devices and even apps. Help your customers understand that they’ll always have access to the documents they need and that their use of your portal is benefiting a greater good — the environment.

Transitioning your marketing efforts to be digital-based might take a bit longer than planting a tree, but the impact on the environment can be similarly enduring. If you can’t get your hands dirty this Earth Day, think about how a few changes to your marketing practices can affect the world around you. We can all do our part by taking steps towards an environmentally sustainable future.

Alternatives to Cold Call Prospecting

Some salespeople rarely make cold calls. They’ve developed other prospecting activities that can produce the sales they need without having to spend long hours on the phone. If that sounds good to you, you’ll need to put in the time developing said alternative prospecting channels so that you’re getting enough leads from those sources that cold calling becomes unnecessary.

Warm Leads

The most effective way to cut down your need for cold calling is to build multiple sources of warm leads.

A warm lead is a prospect who comes to you already interested in buying. Building a strong network will, among other things, help you to achieve a stream of warm leads from contacts. However, keep in mind that a business network requires time and effort on your part to maintain. Network contacts expect you to help them out with leads and other assistance or they won’t be inclined to help you.

Another good source of warm leads is referrals from existing prospects and customers. The final stage of the sales cycle, after closing the sale, is asking for referrals to friends and colleagues of your new customer. Because these referred leads know your customer and he can (hopefully) confirm how happy he is with his new product, it’s much easier to close a referred lead than a cold lead.

Finally, warm leads can come to you from a website or social networking site. These leads are people who visit the company site or read its Facebook profile and decide they want to learn more, so they ask for a salesperson to contact them.

These leads tend to be eager to buy since they’re clearly interested enough to want to know about your products, but they are also likely to have solicited information from your competitors, so be prepared for some heavy negotiating.

If your warm leads aren’t enough to keep your sales high, you can consider other methods of contacting cold leads.

An email is an excellent option. You can craft one message and send it to a large number of potential prospects with one click. The biggest concern regarding emails to large groups is accidentally crossing the line into spamming. Sending spam can create a lot of trouble. Not only are there laws in place that make spamming illegal, but it’s also unprofessional and can result in fines, losing customers, getting a bad reputation, and even having your email account shut down by your hosting provider.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is a traditional way to reach out to prospects, but it is also the most expensive. A simple letter will only cost you for supplies and postage, but if you decide to put together a professional direct mail package with a brochure, you can end up spending a great deal of money on design and printing costs. On the other hand, if you have a good lead list you can end up with very high returns on direct mail solicitations.

Door to Door

The classic door-to-door approach can also be effective. If you’re selling to consumers, you can pick out a good neighborhood and start knocking. B2B salespeople can target large office buildings and stop by every suite. In-person visits are time-consuming but can also lead to quick closes, if you can talk to the right person at the right time.

Most salespeople will find that these methods can supplement but not replace cold calling. A salesperson who is a keen networker with strong social media skills and a willingness to put in a lot of time can cut cold calling down to a tiny fraction compared to a salesperson with no network or Internet marketing. Still, there’s no reason you can’t shoot for the gold ring and try to get to the point where you never need to make another cold call!

15 Ways to Scale Your Business and Make More Money

Taking your business to the next level is a step-by-step process.

There are two things that every entrepreneur wishes for: more time and more money. We yearn for more time because balancing any semblance of a career with the demands of a family life, friends and other interests, becomes overwhelming.

We desire more money so that we can run ads or pay for employees or expand our operations, and everything else in between. Yes, having more money would be great but it’s wasted if you don’t know how to spend or properly invest that money on marketing or growing your business.

The truth? It’s often hard to find time to do anything when you’re enthralled in the perils of building or scaling a business to any degree. Not only do you need to effectively bootstrap your growth by wearing many hats, you also need to constantly work to increase your skill set while struggling to wrangle sales, dealing with customer service and tending to other tedious issues that tend to take up a large chunk of time.

If there never seems to be enough hours in your day, join the club. If you’re not properly managing your time with an effective time management system, or you’re immersed in one bad habit after another that seems to be eating away at all the precious moments you do have, then the problems compound on themselves.

Setting proper goals is necessary for anyone who’s serious about scaling their business, making more money, producing more product or achieving any other dream. They need to be smarter goals and there needs to be powerful reasons behind why those goals absolutely must be achieved.

By creating a plan, taking action and staying persistent no matter what, you can leverage the following strategies and methods to scale your business. It’s not easy. No one ever said it would be. But it is well worth it.

1. Leverage legitimate SEO techniques.

SEO seems complex and confusing, but it really boils down to a few fundamental principles. Those principles are the bedrock for over 200+ rules that go into Google’s current search algorithms. Learn SEO the right way, leveraging the proper techniques, while adhering to Google’s many rules, and you’ll succeed. Your visibility will eventually grow, resulting in a natural increase in leads and sales.

2. Create and share content on a blog.

Starting a blog is simple and straightforward. What isn’t simple and straightforward is actually posting useful and unique content that adds a tremendous amount of value, and doing that consistently. However, blogging is one of the best ways that you can build authority and create an organic audience over time. By becoming an authority, you’ll end up attracting customers rather than chasing after them.

3. Answer questions on Quora.

Quora offers up a great opportunity for online marketers to connect with a massive audience by answering questions and engaging with like-minded individuals from around the world. Use Quora to spread value and further establish yourself as an authority, effectively helping you to scale your business by boosting your visibility through the platform’s massive footprint.

4. Connect with influencers.

I’ve long been fascinated with the concept of influencers, gravitating towards them to uncover the secrets behind how they’ve built such massive audiences. It’s not easy to become an influencer, but if you have a small budget, one near-instantaneous way you can scale your business is to get influencers on board to champion your products or services. This is a quick way to get out in front of a very large audience. But not the cheapest way.

5. Run a contest or giveaway.

Contests and giveaways offer another quick way to market. The word free is very enticing, and people will naturally want to sign up for anything that involves a potential windfall prize. Your giveaway needs to be worth it if you’re going to collect that all-important contact information. However, be sure to pay homage to local laws and regulations when running any kind of contest. FTC regulations run fierce in this arena.

6. Post content on

Medium is by far one of my favorite sites for content marketing. This authority site offers up the ability for anyone to post useful content to market anything online. However, don’t use this to spam. Instead, create useful discussions and tutorials that will further enforce anchor-content on your website. The goal is to market your site the right way and not by spamming links through thin content.

7. Setup a social media content channel.

Social media offers one of the most abundant opportunities for scaling any business, no matter what type of business you’ve started. It also offers an avenue to tap into the world’s connected population, quickly and effectively. Clearly, achieving a massive following is no simple feat, but that shouldn’t deter you from establishing a content channel where you can spread value throughout social media to raise the awareness and visibility of your offers.

8. Build in-depth YouTube tutorials.

Deep-dive into the world of video with YouTube tutorials. Creating a popular YouTube channel isn’t easy, but it is well worth it. To do it, you have to provide in-depth tutorials, helping people to really understand a niche or solve a problem. Whatever it is that you do, help to educate the world on how best to do it. In turn, you’ll become an authority and an industry leader, ultimately leading to greater exposure and eventually, more sales.

9. Create a lead magnet and sales funnel.

Ask any smart online marketer about how they scale out a business, and they’ll tell you the same thing: build an effective sales funnel. Draw them in with a value-laced lead magnet and drop them into a funnel where you can sell them on autopilot. The right sales funnel, split-tested to oblivion, with a clear understanding of your cost-per acquisition, can be scaled infinitely. Not only will you grow your business by leaps and bounds, but you’ll make tremendous amounts of money no matter what business you’re in.

10. Deliver real value through email marketing.

Email marketing is the most powerful driver of sales for leading online marketers and businesses the world over. This isn’t just about your email drip-campaigns that go out automatically; this is about truly reaching out and connecting with your subscribers. It’s that connection to you that will help sell whatever it is that you’re selling on auto-pilot. However, it has to be done the right way. Not by spamming but by genuinely sharing and trying to help others.

11. Hire commission-based sales reps.

Most businesses can’t afford to keep a large staff of sales people on board. Instead, they turn to commission-based sales reps to help provide a stepping stone to the next level in their business. However, those sales reps need to be effectively trained; they can’t simply be hired and forgotten about. Take the time to create training videos and helpful guides to walk them through your entire system and business, and use it to quickly scale things out when you need to bring on more members of the team.

12. Advertise with AdWords or Facebook.

Conversion-pixel tracking is a great way to grow your business online by targeting the right audience. You can do this with a Facebook conversion pixel, while also tracking any event such as shopping cart abandonments or products that were added to a wish list but not purchased and so on. You can then directly target these individuals with ads, enticing them to come back. Similarly, on Google’s AdWords platform, you can use re-targeting through contextual or search-related ads as well.

13. Create coupons on RetailMeNot.

RetailMeNot is a massive online repository for coupons and offers. Companies turn to the site, which is the biggest in the United States for aggregating coupons, in order to help drive traffic to their offers. If your store isn’t already listed, you can request to have it added, then post your coupons afterwards.

14. Setup an affiliate program.

Affiliate programs can drive a significant amount of traffic. In fact, some of the biggest online marketers rely heavily on affiliate income generated through email marketing or pre-existing website or blog traffic. However, setting up an affiliate program isn’t always simple, since there are so many facets involved. If you’re an absolute novice, turn to some of the leading affiliate sites such as Link Share, Impact Radius and Commission Junction. to quickly build an affiliate program.

15. PR outreach via HARO.

If you’re looking to scale your business through the press, utilize HARO, a platform where reporters seek experts and business sources for comments on articles that they have in the works. HARO, which is short for Help A Report Out, is a great forum for connecting with reporters, writers and contributors to some of the leading publishing platforms, without attempting to come in with a “cold” message or contact, which often doesn’t pan out.

Three tips for turning a business idea into a reality

Getting your ideas off the ground can be daunting, but three young entrepreneurs explain how they brought their whiteboard sketches to life.

Tonight, Shell will crown the winner of its annual LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, created to recognise some of the UK’s most innovative and inspirational low-carbon businesses and sustainability entrepreneurs.

Here, three youngsters shortlisted for the award, each at different stages of development, share their tips on getting a business idea from a whiteboard sketch to tradable product.

Drop the jargon

Making sure that everyone fully understood how his product worked was crucial for Fergus Moore to secure funding and advice for his company, Revive Eco, which recycles coffee grounds to create high-value bio-oils.

“When starting a business – especially in technology – it’s important to remember that not everyone you speak to will know what you’re talking about,” he explains. “You should be able to clearly explain your concept with as little jargon as possible, in one or two sentences.”

Mr Moore found that opportunities dried up early on. “We had real issues accessing funding and grants because we just kept regurgitating the technical aspects of how the product worked, rather than explaining what it does and why it’s different.”

Stripping back the idea into two simple, easy-to-understand sentences meant that funders became more excited about his proposition. “People won’t buy into or get excited about something that they don’t understand.”

Two prototypes are better than one

Elena Dieckmann, co-founder of start-up, AEROPOWDER, which creates insulation material from waste chicken feathers, says that it’s a good idea to work with two prototypes when developing your product.

“You should have a visual lookalike and a working model that displays the proof-of-concept in a technical manner,” she explains. “The visuals will get people excited about what the final product will look like, while the working prototype should show pretty clearly how it will perform.”

They don’t have to be perfect, she adds. If they’re a little rough around the edges, that’s fine. “If your product is electronic, for example, the working version can be a module with wires hanging out, so long as it visualises how it might work,” says Ms Dieckmann. “The visual version could be a 3D-printed model of any size and colour that you like.”

Work out the costs

For entrepreneurs who have ideas for lots of different products, cost forecasts are a sensible way to work out what should come first. So says Terence Chung, founder of FRUU, which uses fruit bi-products to create natural cosmetics and has already started trading.

“Run the numbers for each idea and for different business scenarios,” he says. “Then develop the product, or products, with the highest cost-to-impact ratio.”

That’s what he did for FRUU’s first product range, lip balm, which was cheap, but still showed off the company’s concept.

Choosing the most cost-effective route meant that Mr Chung could get a quick and early indication of what consumers thought about the brand and the technical process behind it – and gain valuable feedback on what other products they were interested in, helping him to work out what to focus on and launch next.

Branding 101: Mistakes communicators should avoid

When I started my etiquette business 20 years ago, I hired a college student named Ed to design my logo and website. It was a quick, easy and inexpensive way to get my name out into the world.
However, when it came time to update my materials, Ed was nowhere to be found. He left town and did not provide me with his new contact information. I ended up hiring a more expensive and reputable company to design all of my marketing materials and it made all the difference in the world. Even today, my website is my number one marketing tool. It establishes me as “The Etiquette Expert.” It’s my brand. Your brand is equally important. It is the first symbol people see, it is the last thing they remember, and it is the theme that runs throughout your entire marketing strategy. Big corporations like Coca-Cola, Google, and Apple spend large sums of money and time determining and establishing their brand. So why shouldn’t it be that important to a smaller, more entrepreneurial company? It should be.
If you are just starting out on a shoestring budget or if you have created a business in random chunks, without a formal brand strategy determination, it’s never too late to put a brand in place.
But before you do, you must first be aware of the most common branding mistakes many entrepreneurs make.
1. Amateur logo.
Nothing screams “inexperienced” more than a homemade-looking logo. Even if you are proud of what your teenager came up with, take the time and spend the money to hire a professional graphic designer specializing in branding and logo development. Your designer will also create graphic standards defining the color palette, visual style, font size and style, and usage requirements for your logo. Use these standards to set the tone throughout your entire marketing campaign.

2. You have no consistency.
If you started getting inquiries before establishing your brand, you probably had to rush to get basic marketing materials in place. Your business card, letterhead, social media banners, website, marketing brochure, handouts, labels, invoices, and more should all carry a themed and branded look. Use the same font and colors throughout.

3. No motto.
Big companies create a tagline or motto that encapsulates the message they want to convey. “Think different” is Apple’s, “Let’s Make Today Great” is Kellogg’s, and “Go Further” is Ford’s. Products also carry slogans: remember Alka-Seltzer’s “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz” and Burger King’s “Have it Your Way”? Develop a catchy tag line that represents the benefits your clients and customers will receive. Can’t afford to hire a marketing company? Hire a freelancer by the hour.

4. Not monitoring the competition.
Before you brand, check out your competitors. They have a similar—or the same—audiences as you do. Research similar businesses in other markets as well. Look at their logo, tagline, overall look and feel, and any marketing materials you can access. Review their websites to see how their services stack up to yours. Note any good ideas and revise them into your own unique brand.

5. Not knowing who your customers are.
Not everyone is your customer. In fact, knowing the data on exactly who your customer really is can result in an incremental 241% return on investment, reports a Clickz study. Hone in on and “own” a niche. For example, my niche is business etiquette. That means that I target my marketing efforts to corporations, colleges and universities.
Specializing in a niche requires less investment than mass marketing, and comes with the bonus of free word of mouth advertising and brand loyalty. Niche market members are passionate about their interests, values and hobbies and are more likely to talk about those interests and your brand with others in their network. They also are more apt to keep coming back for more.
Spend some time reviewing your current brand, and if it needs work, make it your top priority. After all, it is the lasting impression that defines your business and will keep you in business for many years to come.



10 Steps to Change Your Business Image

With the global business continuing to evolve rapidly, companies are faced with the reality that they often have to update their image to remain relevant in the minds and hearts of their customers and target audience.

If your audience sees the same old look and feel to what you offer, they may conclude that you aren’t putting any effort into following the trends or even leading the way. Or, it may be that you have had some issues in recent months that have tarnished your business image due to a bad decision or an unfortunate turn of events in the market. Whatever the case, your audience and customer base may seek out a competitor.

How to Change Your Business Image

However, you can work quickly and effectively to stay relevant and rebuild trust by transforming your business image in these 10 ways, including numerous solutions that get you there faster:

1. Strategize on a new direction and approach. One of the most challenging aspects of changing your business image is adjusting your operating model to best suit the customer’s needs. Often, it’s hard to separate from longstanding approaches or preconceived notions of departmental responsibilities and employee job descriptions. That makes it more difficult to figure out how to redesign the structure of your business to enable it to address the current and future needs of your target market. This is when it helps to bring in a company like ON THE MARK, which assists in seeing this bigger picture and offering a new blueprint of what your business model looks like and how it can run effectively.

2. Change how you interact with customers to shape how you transform the company. Listening to what your customers are telling you about what they want and what you can change to assist them with a better experience should be part of your plan to transform yourself. When your customers see that you have listened to them and adapted to suit them, you will go a long way toward making the right changes in your strategic direction and delivery, but you will also strengthen existing relationships. You may already have that information to tell you how to transform in your available data but no way of actually knowing what it all means. A company like Salesforce can provide a CRM platform and project management system that organizes and highlights those areas where you may need to make changes or that can define how you transform your image.

3. Engage your audience with content that illustrates your new business image. Today’s audiences rely primarily on written and visual content to make their decisions about a company whether it is on a website, on a blog, or on a social media profile. This is an opportunity to leverage their interest in content to get your messages across about what defines your new business image and, most importantly, how it specifically helps them with their issues or problems. Your content becomes your new business image because it is the communication channel and conversation platform between you and your customers. They can tell you what they think of the new business image or ask questions about what that image means for them. Since it’s an integral way to get noticed and share your new image, it’s critical to have expertise in content marketing from a company like Contently, which can help you to formulate your messaging and craft the content necessary to get the best reaction to this new business image.

4. Put the new business image into your visual presentation. It helps your audience to have imagerythat represents this new business messaging because these are symbols that help your audience connect and remembers the new brand attributes you want them to know about. When you want to change your business image, it’s an opportune time to update your logo, slogan, and website in terms of symbol, color, and messaging. This is where graphic design becomes your best friend, offering a way to consistently revise all visual representations of your company. You can use tools like SummitSoft to create a logo and Wix for a website without having to claim artistic status to make a great impression.

5. Add expert talent in areas of your business where you lack skills. You can change logos and websites all day long, which will help to a certain degree with a business transformation, but it’s really the people you surround yourself with that can make a transformation stick. While you may not be in the financial position to hire a team of full-time talent, you can tap into outsource workers and freelancers that specialize in areas that can help you transform how your business operates, especially in improving technology, marketing and sales, and customer service. Look to agencies like Toptal for IT talent and iFreelanc for graphic designers, marketers, salespeople, writers and even virtual assistants. All these talented individuals can do a better job than you in these areas because it’s what they do, which then allows you to focus on those aspects of your business that you do well.

6. Put influencers to work selling your new business image to the target audience. Influencer marketing is one of the biggest areas of marketing to have a significant effect on convincing target audience members to purchase a specific product or service. With more interaction becoming virtual, consumers and businesses are relying on others to recommend and review products and services before deciding to buy them. It’s these influencers that almost become more critical to a business reimaging than trying to go directly to the audience. Influencers often have more leverage and can sell the message you want to transmit more effectively. Platforms like the AI-driven Influential connects you with the best influencers for your particular segment and helps get your business image revamp to those audience members that can most often be converted.

7. Improve the financial underpinnings of your business. Having the right financial knowledge and tools can help you transform the operational aspects of your company by increasing cash flow, informing sound money decisions, bolstering the security of your transaction systems, and adding opportunities to fund the transformation and growth of your business. Business transformation isn’t always about the public image but it is often more important to focus on behind the scenes mechanisms like anything related to company finances that can make the biggest difference. Financial partnerships are out there in the form of companies like InDinerothat provide the information and platforms you need to revamp your financial processes and approach.

8. Deploy thought leadership strategies to build credibility with your audience. By establishing credibility with your audience that you know what you are doing and have the most visionary, insightful information on a particular topic, you can drive the message of your revised business image home. Your byline and syndicated articles, as well as blog posts, can be the basis for explaining why you revamped your business image in relation to industry trends and issues that your audience understands. Aligning these can make the transition in your business image as seamless as possible and actually build greater trust because the audience sees that, as a leader, you realized changing your image would be more useful to the audience and in response to market evolution. Most industry publications accept bylined articles while news syndicates also readily accept new and relevant content.

9. Take your business image message to Livestream video. In order to get your message to the right people, you need to use the mediums and platforms where they want to hear from you. Livestream video on Instagram, Periscope and Facebook have become very popular due to the interest in consuming video content at a nearly voracious pace. You will be able to reach a larger audience with your revamp messaging and present it in a format that they are most receptive to, helping to create a visual picture of what your new image represents.

10. Plan a campaign around the business image refresh. Turn the business image makeover into an event by creating a marketing and ad campaign around it with a set of collateral designed to excite your audience as though you are launching the business for the first time or even a new product or service. In many ways, that is what you are doing. Create a set of messages to be broadcast on social media by using Hootsuite to blast it out as well as develop an email blast, blog post, and landing page on your website.

Don’t forget to track every tactic you use to transform your business image to see what type of impact it has on your audience. It may take the time to sink in so you may need to repeat some of these approaches and continue the dialogue with your customers and audience until the new image of your business replaces the previous one.

Case study: What brands can learn from the integrated Share a Coke campaign of 2013

Summer 2013 saw Coca-Cola replace its iconic branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names for its multimedia Share a Coke campaign, which produced some impressive results. But just what can other brands learn from it? Market research company YouGov shares the secrets of Coke’s winning campaign.

Last summer saw a flurry of activity down the supermarket drink aisles – adults and children alike scrambled through stacks of Coca-Cola, all eager to grab a bottle bearing their name. It seemed like almost everyone was sucked in by the Share a Coke campaign which exploded across Facebook, Twitter and TV advertising.

This unique and innovative approach to personalisation triggered research firm YouGov to roll out a study to ascertain just how and why Share a Coke was so successful and what other brands can take away from this success.

Background to the campaign Share a Coke, created by Ogilvy & Mather Sydney, launched in Australia in 2012. The integrated campaign was launched in Britain on 29 April 2013 and ran until the end of the summer. The soft drink giant replaced its usual branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names. It was a multimedia effort, with TV adverts, billboards, and experiential marketing in the form of Coca-Cola ‘tours’ where participants could have their own custom bottle made. Each bottle also carried the hashtag #shareacoke to encourage users to share bottles with their names, as well as those of friends and family, using social media.

Reasons behind the research YouGov decided to study its progression and impact with UK consumers for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was already tracking Coca-Cola and its sub-brands, Diet Coke and Coke Zero, using its consumer perception tool. Second, YouGov was drawn by the dynamic nature of the campaign, and how it cut across multiple mutually-reinforcing mediums, including TV, Twitter and Facebook. Finally, Share a Coke’s innovative approach to personalisation made it a fascinating prospect.

Analysis strategy YouGov used connected data to combine actual (rather than claimed) advertising exposure with daily brand perception data to understand the impact of the advertising campaign, and which elements were most effective.

Actual exposure came from panellists who completed daily media consumption surveys, allowing YouGov to access to their social media feeds and let it track their web behaviour. Brand perception came from its daily BrandIndex survey – monitoring views on over 900 brands across 15 metrics each day.

Combining the two meant YouGov could accurately assess the impact of the campaign and understand the impact of each element. In this case it looked at the impact of TV, Twitter and Facebook by taking those exposed on each platform and assessing how their perceptions of Coca-Cola compared to matched samples who were not exposed.

YouGov focused on four measures that were most relevant to the aims of the Share a Coke campaign.

  • Buzz: Over the past two weeks, which of the following brands have you heard something positive/negative about (whether in the news, through advertising, or talking to friends and family)?
  • Impression: Which of the following brands do you have a generally positive/negative feeling about?
  • Recommend: Which of the following brands would you recommend/tell a friend to avoid?
  • Consideration: When you are in the market next to make a purchase, which brands would you consider?


TV Consumer perception of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero improved substantially on virtually every measure for those who were exposed to Share a Coke TV adverts. The uplift in perception for Diet Coke and Coke Zero was slightly more modest than for Coca-Cola, but still impressive. The data shows that 18-24 year-olds who were exposed to the campaign view the brand much more positively than those who were not exposed to the adverts.

Social media As with those who had seen the TV adverts, respondents who were exposed to the campaign on social media had a substantially better view of Coca-Cola than the nationally representative sample. Consumers who had seen the TV adverts and those exposed to #shareacoke on Twitter experienced a similar uplift in consumer perception. However, the consumers who were exposed to the campaign on Facebook showed the most dramatic improvement in how they perceive Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coke Zero (up 18 per cent).

What can other brands learn? Share a Coke has emerged as one of the most compelling campaigns in recent memory. The overarching theme that gave Share a Coke its edge is the way a brand so ubiquitous that it can replace its logo with individual names reached out to consumers and spoke to people as individuals.

The campaign showed that when personalisation works it can be highly engaging and effective. However, consumers were also cautious with warnings that when personalisation is attempted it can backfire if it doesn’t deliver. Examples cited were the Starbucks ‘name’ on cups campaign that can be a source of irritation when well-meaning staff members make mistakes.

Another element for marketers to consider is that in the world of social media, personalisation only works if it is something that can be shared with the wider community. This campaign provides people with a reason to share, but one that users can choose to do in their own way – there is a choice, it is customised and left up to individuals to be creative in how and when they use it.

Jane Carn, head of qualitative research at YouGov, commented: “Share a Coke was a multimedia campaign, so we needed a holistic approach that allowed us to understand the power of each component. We combined data sets covering media consumption, brand perception surveys, and social media exposure, so we were able to see whether someone was being influenced by the campaign even if they didn’t necessarily remember seeing one of the TV adverts or posts on Twitter and Facebook. We could also tell which elements of the campaign were working hardest, and while Share a Coke was extremely effective across all mediums, where we saw the greatest uplift in perception of the brand was among those who were exposed to it on Facebook.

“People loved that this campaign spoke to them directly by using their names, or those of their friends and family. They were also engaged in the participative element of the campaign, particularly by sharing images of the personalised Coke bottles on Twitter and Facebook. Share a Coke spoke to them as individuals, while making them feel more connected to the brand and to one another – and that is the secret to its success.”

How Direct Marketing Can Improve Your Business

With the growth of the Internet, businesses have additional opportunities to market their products on a smaller marketing budget. Those that have achieved the greatest success are the ones that have successfully integrated online marketing with other Direct Marketing channels. Why? Because Direct Marketing channels are where buyers and sellers transact business and communicate on smaller budgets without ever meeting face-to-face or touching and feeling the merchandise. To make more effective use of online opportunities, marketers should do a “deeper dive” into Direct Marketing. The most commonly recognized Direct Marketing channels in historical order are:

  1. Direct Mail,
  2. Telemarketing,
  3. Direct Response Advertising,
  4. Internet, or online, marketing.

Direct Mail

In the United States, the roots of Direct Mail can be traced to Benjamin Franklin who used it to market Poor Richard’s Almanac throughout the American colonies starting in 1732. Direct Mail continued to flourish with the creation of the Montgomery Ward catalog in 1872 and the Sears catalog in 1888. These catalogs were popular since a large segment of the American population lived outside of cities and towns that had stores with sufficient product choices. As more people migrated to cities and suburbs, direct mail became popular for those that wanted to shop anonymously or could not easily travel to available stores. In its best form, Direct Mail provides a convenient way for prospects to receive information about products they want and order them without leaving the comfort of their home or office. In its worst form, organizations send unwanted mailings to people that are not interested in the products being promoted. Of course, unwanted mailings are known as “junk” mail. Their electronic equivalent is called “spam.”


Some might argue that telemarketing began with the invention of the telephone, but marketers began to use it on a significant scale in the late 1970s with the introduction of WATS lines for economically calling out to prospective customers and toll-free numbers for prospects to call in without paying for the call. This created the two main components of telemarketing — (1) Inbound (toll-free numbers are provided for customers to call in) and (2) Outbound (telemarketers call prospects). In its best form, companies use outbound telemarketing to answer questions, provide customer service, facilitate the ordering of desired products, and cross-selling (which some mistakenly confuse with up-selling). In its most hated form, strangers and robots “cold call” prospects, interrupt what they are doing, and try to sell them something they do not want. Some uses of outbound telemarketing became so annoying that a law was passed called the Telephone Consumer Protect Act (TCPA) that created a Do Not Call Registry.

Even so, outbound telemarketing can be very effective under the following conditions:

  1. Prospect has given prior permission or wants the company to call,
  2. Product is highly desirable or greatly needed,
  3. Telemarketer is skillful and properly trained,
  4. Telemarketer listens to the desires of the people that answer the phone (rather than try to keep them on the line when they want to end the call).

Direct Response Advertising

Direct Response Advertising is advertising with a goal of getting the prospect to order the product directly from the advertisement. Some examples of direct response advertising are a direct mail piece with a postage-paid business reply card that is used to order the product, a TV ad that provides a toll-free phone number to order, and an email that provides a link to order the product from a Web site.

Internet and Mobile

Perhaps the method that has caused the most explosive growth of Direct Marketing is Internet marketing. There are two main reasons for this – (1) convenience and (2) economics. Even though the Internet is only a “young adult” (in reference to the beginning of its commercial use in 1995), nothing is more convenient or economical than the Internet for researching and ordering products. Even so, those that are using the Internet and related mobile technologies for marketing would be far more effective if they better understood the other Direct Marketing methods described above. Knowing how to use the Internet and its mobile “offspring” in conjunction with direct mail, telemarketing, and direct response advertising can create a synergistic force for marketing products most efficiently and effectively. Some people live online and some people don’t. Those that live on the Internet may not be online when a company needs to get their attention. Additionally, repetition of the information off-line helps them remember any exposure online. Similarly, those that spend most of their time off-line, can learn more about products when off-line marketing drives them online. A poster in a shopping mall, a direct mail post card with a coupon, or a display in a retail store may get their attention. If these offline devices have a link or QR code, prospects can be transported to a Web site that gives them the opportunity to find out more about the product, provides them with reviews from product users, helps them find where they can buy it, and enables them to order it directly. Taking this integration of direct marketing methods further by combining them with other off-line marketing methods can give marketers the greatest power at the lowest cost.

Direct Marketing can lower sales costs.

One powerful example of integrated Direct Marketing used in conjunction other forms of marketing is in the area of personal selling. In a previous post, I talked about the importance of personal selling to success in business. When it comes to promoting products, however, personal selling is also one of the most expensive methods in a marketer’s toolkit. According to the latest studies by McGraw-Hill, it costs $137.02 for an industrial sales call and takes an average of 4.3 calls, or a total cost of $589.18, to close a sale. Since it is not possible to make a fraction of a call, the real-world cost (using 5 calls to close a deal) is $685.10. That might work for selling airplanes and satellite systems to billion-dollar clients. It would be too expensive for selling many other products. That’s the bad news. The good news is that sales people can use the Internet and other Direct Marketing techniques for some (or even all) of the calls — thereby lowering overall sales costs.

Social media

As discussed above, just about everyone is talking about using social media in marketing products. The problem is too many don’t know how to effectively do it. While “earned media” techniques such as hauling videos represent very exciting new ways for promoting products, most of them are experimental and outside the control of your business. In an effort to take advantage of social media without ceding too much control, marketers need to have some understanding of popular social media channels and how to integrate them with other Direct Marketing methods.

  • Facebook has a large number of active users (over 1.86 billion at last count) and a lot of data on users so that advertisers can better target them. Since people go to Facebook to interact with friends and family, they do not like intrusions from companies. However, a lot of friends and family recommend products on Facebook, and company pages are very popular places for prospects to learn about products, discover new uses, find discounts, and share all this with their friends. At the very least, Facebook can make more brand impressions than other media. Companies pay $5.5 million for only 30 seconds of commercial time to reach roughly 110 million Super Bowl viewers one day a year. On Facebook, they have potential to reach a much larger audience at a much lower cost every day of the week. While Facebook limits ad sizes to very small spaces so as not to ruin user experiences, good marketers can make effective use of the space allotted with concise headlines.
  • Twitter is great for those that know how to write good headlines since it limits users to 140 characters. While it accounts for much less Web traffic than Facebook and other social media, Twitter users tend to be more influential. Also, Twitter can easily be linked to other SM sites, such as Facebook, so that if you post on Twitter, your Tweet can automatically appear on Facebook simultaneously. Twitter has proven to be very effective in responding to complaints, rumors, and factual mistakes for damage control and to provide better customer service. Companies that have learned to use Twitter in this way have been able to “turn negatives into positives” and build closer relationships with their constituents.
  • YouTube provides a place for companies large and small to reach their target audience without paying the high “real estate” costs of commercial TV channels. Furthermore, YouTube videos can be shared, and if they go viral, the numbers of viewers that actually watch the commercial can rival and even surpass TV audiences. YouTube viewers can also play the videos over and over again as well as share them with even larger networks of viewers enabling advertisers to make more brand impressions and greater sales.
  • Linked In is good for business markets. The HR departments of businesses use it to find candidates, and businesses can put profiles of their products and white papers on the site, and use it to promote their business. According to Linked In, 43% of marketers have found a customer on Linked In during 2014.

Integrating Social Media

To increase the marketing power of social media, marketers should be sure to integrate it with all other direct and non-direct channels. Direct mail, telemarketing, and direct response advertising should have links to social media, and vice versa. A lot of companies ask market targets to visit their Web site and “like” or “follow” them on social media, but too often they do not provide the benefit for doing so. Similarly, social media rarely ties campaigns to off-line and other direct marketing efforts — missing opportunities for marketing synergy, making additional brand impressions, and increasing sales. Companies with effective campaigns have linked product packaging and off-line media to social and online media. In addition to asking people to “like” or “follow” or visit social media and Web sites, they have given people codes in traditional media and on product packaging that give those that make the effort a chance to win something or save money. The feedback and contact information provided is more than worth the costs of the prize, rebate, or discount, and gives the company a chance to improve the product or add contact information to their database.


Some companies have successfully used Advergaming as a way to tie their media efforts together. When it works best, users have to go online and off for clues that teach them about the benefits of the products and company. They have fun while they are learning, are engaged, and remember the benefits. As a result, brand impressions and reasons to buy the products are better planted in the brains of market targets.

The power of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing has grown in power for a variety of factors that include the following.

  1. Less time. Market targets are busier than ever before since they have to work harder to earn a living.
  2. Less hassles and dangers. Increasing traffic, parking costs, and other hassles have reduced the desire for buyers to go to retail stores to do their shopping.
  3. Less expensive. The costs of buying and marketing products in “non-direct” ways has skyrocketed at the same time that financial disruptions, natural disasters, and government dysfunction has forced buyers to become more frugal.
  4. More convenient. The Internet is perhaps the most convenient way for buyers to research products, comparison shop, and order from their home, office, or mobile device.
  5. Anonymous. Some buyers prefer shopping for certain products anonymously.