I have worked in corporate environments for the better part of the past 10 years and I can honestly say that nothing gets workers excited like free stuff. Likewise for sales customers, account contacts and PR relationships. Free stuff is the glue that binds us all together. Need your sales team to pick up the pace and meet quotas? Start a new monthly or weekly award. Want to reward a hard working employee but not with a raise? Get them a thank you pencil holder pen with thanks for all the hard work on it. Want to make your customers remember how you play golf every summer together? Send some golf balls with a special promotional deal attached. Got trade shows coming up? Yikes, order a couple thousand of everything to hand out at the event. People bring bags of this stuff back to the office with them and hand it out like it’s rationed gold. Then they stare at it on their desk for the next 5 years and remember your company. There are so many great ways to use what would otherwise be Tchotchkes in business. A great site I saw that had a lot of great custom plaques, achievement awards, sales gifts and executive gifs was http://www.gdnnyc.com. I am going to order a few things for the clients I work with. Sometimes it is nice to say thank you for their business for no reason at all.
I hate that every email marketing article is totally ambiguous and proves nothing, or focuses on things like where each color sits on the page and the use of “and” instead of “or”. Just meaningless things that have no real practical application in the situations most of us are in. Here are some real marketing tips for emails that you can use if you are a little more jr in the marketing experience area:
1. Frequency: You want to keep some frequency with your customers/readers so they don’t forget about you but you can’t spam them to death either. Once a week works for some companies, once every 2 weeks might be better for others. Once a month is more like, who are these people, I’ve forgotten… Daily alerts are great for very time sensitive information that changes quickly. these people use your information like a drug, you can’t miss a day and cut it off, you will seriously piss them off. Also, once you have this going you can’t forget about it. You have to keep going or you are not top of mind anymore. People forget so easily because they’re deluged with new media and information by the bookload every day. So don’t take vacations from the blog if you have built up a loyal and active audience, get a guest writer. I think one of the biggest travesties that happened was Ze Frank’s show ending right when he had reached the peak in traffic and viewers. It was crazy to throw away an audience like that. He should have launched into another version of the show or something the momentum was awesome.
2. Content: Everyone has theories here, but I still believe that the best content is something that is most relevant to your readers. If they want deals, send lists and photos of whats on sale this weeks with a click to buy with the discount link right there in the email. If it’s information they are after offer an organized update to what new has been posted or added since the last email. Your products/goals will guide you on what you want to sell more of and your customers will let you know what they like best and is most relevant. I can’t say enough how much I hate emails that are pointless ways to try and be deceptive about getting people to buy or sign up or that are just not relevant by pitching stuff I don’t care about.
3. Email Lists: There are people who still believe that buying a bulk list and spamming people is good email marketing. Its not, its spamming. You have to get the consumer to give you their consent in order for them to care at all about what you send them. Adding a signup to your home page or check out process would be a good way to start generating a list to work from. Placing ads online advertising the list/newsletter for free signup would also help, but it is much more expensive than letting it grow organically. Blogging is almost like an email message and if you do that regularly pitch the email list there too. People who like blogs either like really fast up to the minute information, or really old historical data that meets exactly what they are trying to figure out. The fast info processors are the people who enjoy getting emails from you.
4. Fonts/Design: I do not have a design degree or usability experience, but I have to say that shorter emails are better because they are less daunting and won’t get put off till I “have more time” (like when is that?). You need to be clear and concise and not have too many possible actions or people will choose nothing. 2 is good. 1. Read this. 2. Click to buy. Keep layouts simple and white spaced, minimal color, one or 2 pix, and an unsubscribe link at the bottom. And actually unsubscribe them when they ask you to.
5. List purge: If an email comes back 3 times with a bounce, I say delete it. Once could be a full mailbox on vacation. Twice could be someone quite disorganized. Three means they don’t live there anymore. Take note, save money on how many of these you send out and you will also up your conversion rates.
Got any more suggestions? Post them below:
The marketing news this morning is covered by articles about a small informal study that said that Facebook and MySpace are very different sites with very different demographics despite both being social networking sites that are popular with the 15-25 age crowd. They say through their informal polling and surveys, they found that MySpace users tended to be kids who got jobs and started working right after high school, (think retail, restaurants, trades and family businesses) and they were a more ethnically diverse group. FaceBook was more a white bread hang out for college students and college grads (read higher salaries and more money to buy high end stuff). This is interesting to marketers trying to segment this young socially networked audience, but it isn’t a hard fast rule to what you will find on both these sites. I know a lot of college grads that use MySpace and Facebook. I also know some who only use MySpace. Facebook turned off a lot of people by requiring a university email address for registration until recently and a lot of people who had already graduated and given up their college email addresses couldn’t join, so they did friendster (blast from the past) , Orkut (what’s that?) and MySpace when it became hip. Likewise now, anyone can join Facebook so as time goes on it will only get more diverse ethnically, eductaionally and economically. So, there are a LOT of exceptions to these findings and I would do some actual testing to see if your product’s target demo graphic uses both sites before writing off one or the other too quickly.
I am starting my search for a new car and as usual I am appaled at the sales and marketing tactics that dealers use to sell cars. And I AM a marketer. How offensive do you have to be to offend a marketer with deceptive and manipulative sales tactics??? I went and drove a Prius which is a very nice and very over priced car and see that they only order fully loaded Priuses. The cost of the car is $28,000.00 with a options package of $6,900.00. Without the $6,900.00 it is a more reasonable $21,100.00. But of course they have it automatically ordered with all that stuff on it purposly so they make more profit on the options and probably meet an upgrade quota too. It’s disgusting the games they play. And then they play more games with devaluing your car and nit picking saying it isn’t going to sell for much and then turning around and selling it at a huge markup and telling the owner all kinds of stories about how perfect it is. Yuck. I hate buying cars, and I hate buying new cars even more.
I know I have thought that writing a book in my spare time that could sell and become an extra source of income and possibly a career change later on. But its a daunting task if you have never written anything as long as a book before and you may be procrastinating because of that. I have thought there are 2 or 3 topics and story ideas I have that could be books. They wouldn’t have to be that popular, but just amazon sales and residuals as a little side income would be nice. And it would be nice to put those thoughts down on paper too.
I have found a site that has a writing course that says it can teach you how to write a book in 28 days, for $49.95. http://www.writequickly.com It says there that it covers the basics and exercises that you need to organize your thoughts and get a book written. Which is cool. It looks like they have gotten some good reviews from CNN and Yahoo. (and it used to be $299.00 so this is a good deal) I think that this could be a course to take to see if this really is what you want to do with your evenings and weekends. It could help you figure out what you want to write, how to write it and if this really is right for you. Pretty cool if you ask me.
I have discovered the joy of LOL cats. One of my friends forwarded me the link about a month ago and it seems to be everywhere now. The rate at which trends travel seems to get faster and faster as more people are online and are sharing information. It is also a testament to the lovability of cats (for thousands of years) that people keep finding new ways to celebrate and adore them. There was a flickr and blog phenomenon about a year ago called Furry Friday where bloggers would upload and post pictures of their cats. A cat appreciation meme so to speak. And that has kind of died out a bit, and now posting pictures of your cats on Caturday (Saturday) seems to be the norm. The LOL text can be added at the LOL cat site generator and you have to use the worst grammar and phonetic spelling possible. I call it cat-ebonics. It also might be more like a little kid’s way of spelling things. And the comments are usually not at all what the photo is doing. It’s usually about imposing some kind of human scenario on the cat in the picture. Why does this work? Because cat lovers agree that their pets are so smart that we think they really do think like us anyway. I’m just not sure what the next cat appreciation meme is going to be. The webbernet just keeps evolving in it’s love of cats.
I am a bit older than most of the people who blog…I remember the first time that The Police were popular (before Sting was just Sting on his own) and I am excited that they have decided to get the band back together and go out on tour again. It seems perfectly fitting since everything 80′s is back again from clothes to music to earth day all over again.
Back in 1986 I was in 8th grade and my friend Jenny Karich begged her parents to go to a concert and The Police were part of the one we went to at the Rosemont Horizon (it’s now called AllState Arena). We were wayyyy up in the top nosebleed seats and I think we may have ended up at their concert partially because her parents had to chaperone us and they actually liked The Police. (her parents were much more hip than mine) I really can’t say I saw much from that steeply tilted seat near the celing, but the place was electric anyway. (Roooooxxxane!) It was just exciting to be out and hear music in person at a real concert for the first time. (and to try and flirt with boys at the concert) Other popular singers of that time were there for some reason too in kind of a group thing, Peter Gabrien and Bryan Adams were the ones I liked a lot too. But of course when I listen to the Police CD of the Greatest Hits this concert is what I remember. I thought that Sting was cute, and in fact I still think he is today. Some people age well, he hasn’t aged at all. Amazing!
In the beginning of the internet advertising era, banners were the only kind of ad you could buy. So if you wanted to advertise on the net, you had to buy them. Now there are banners, intersicials, text ads, contextual and behavioral targeting, email marketing, prefered placement and search engines all competing for those dollars. How are you going to decide which to buy? How do you guage effectiveness comparisons when they are all different? Well you should most definitley track through to the conversion for ROI analysis. If you just look at impressions and clicks, ads all look great. If you continue to drill down into which ads produce converting, buying, signup people to your business, those are the ones truly worth the cost and should be renewed and maybe even increased in future campaigns. The ones that don’t should be looked at to find the problem, and if there isn’t an issue with tracking or targeting or creative, they should be dropped. Cost effectiveness in marketing and advertising is not new, but it is crucial to the success of your company.
The rate at which online and web 2.0 companies are being bought and absorbed into large companies is unbelievable. The big news is always who Google is aquiring, (especially when they bought double click) but there is news that another ad serving company was bought today. Bluestreak sold off its ad serving business to Aegis. Several companies I know of use them to host their campaings, so I hope that things aren’t disrupted during the transition. Actually Bluestreak isn’t the best with support so I am hoping that Aegis will be more on the ball with getting questions answered to support this product. The future is in web advertising, and who ever is able to track everything (well) with it will make a lot of money.
It is true that America has a country wide weight problem. More people are morbidly obese and dangerously overweight than ever before. Some estimates say it is as many as 30% of the U.S. population. With weight out of control to epic proportions like that it is no suprise that Bariatric Surgery is getting more and more popular each year. This surgery is usually reserved for only those who’s health is in danger, but it is becoming more and more common. The process involves a huge lifestyle change before and after surgery though. Some doctors look to see committment from the patient by expecting a 10-15 lbs of weight loss before they allow the surgery. One way to prepare for this life changing surgery is to go on a bariatric diet 2-3 months before the surgery and then to stay on that diet afterwards. It is a very specific regimine of liquid protien diet and will help the weight come off if you don’t stray from the plan. It also gets you ready for your post-surgery diet which will be much smaller after the surgery. One site I found that has a good listing of resources and information in addition to good bariatric diet products is BariatricChoice.com. They have a full range of Bariatric Diet foods, drinks and products. They offer drinks, protien bars, soups, puddings and dinners. They also sell convienient starter kits that include everything you need for 2, 4, 8 or 12 weeks depending on how long you plan to be on the diet. If you need more information and want to see the results, check out some of the stories of the people who have used these diets and how it changed their lives. It looks like a one stop shop for all your bariatric diet needs.
I firmly believe that when all the 2007 year in review magazines and TV shows come out in December that the word of they year this year will be sustainability. Last year it was Truthiness and the year before it was Blog. But I think it has been popular in what people have been writing about as well as what they are changing in their daily lives. This is the year that people have realized that oil is running out and it powers everything in our economy and our lives. We desperatley need a solar power alternative for cars and homes and electricity, so that we can reduce the dependence on fossil fules. I can’t say enough what a scary situation this is and how much people and companies need to make drastic changes now.
I love marketing and the advertising world but I need nothing right now more than a weekend away from it. Just a quick break to catch up with all the things I have been putting off in favor of work. But I am sure it won’t be a cake walk. This weekend in Chicago there is every kind of festival you can think of, so in the midst of sitting in traffic, paying insane prices for parking and beer and wishing I lived in the city…I will try and relax and recharge for next week. There never seems to be a moment of rest in this business or a day where things don’t change. But then again that is what keeps it exciting.
I have seen the internet take just about every offline process or service and start a way for you to do the same thing online. Diet sites are no different. CalorieKing.com and Weight Watchers are both huge sites that try to help you manage your diet with food logs, goal settings for weight, exercise plans and food databases with calories fat and carbs listed for just about every concievable fast food or store bought product you can think of. The hard part though is finding good healthy food you can eat while on a diet. All those food listings and databases will show that there is something wrong with everything. Maybe its too many calories, or too much salt or even too many carbs now that we have all discovered Atkins and the South Beach Diet. There are sites out there too though that specialize in diet food alone. It’s like the slimfast idea, replace all those bad foods with the vitamin enriched chocolate falavored low calorie energy drink every day and you feel full and loose weight. Well DietDirect.com offers more variety of those kinds of foods, but that’s all they offer. It’s their specialty. There is something to be said for just not dealing with the complicated process of evaluating each food you come across every day and trying to figure out if it is ok to eat or not, and if it is going to crash your diet plan. This is a simpler way to manage weight loss, by choosing a smarter food that takes all the guesswork out of food diaries and calorie estimating. You might check out some of their success stories and see if this is the right way to start your next diet.
Social networks like Flickr, MySpace and Facebook have been all the rage in the past few years online. They create a unique experience where people not only post information about themeslves and the topics they like, they also can interact, tag cntent with keywords, share comments on ideas, link to people to create a network or group, send out communication to that goup, and discover new content in interesting ways. The web 2.0 web site concept using AJAX to reload parts of a page to update it rather than the whole page over and over again was one new development that made this possible. (it does mean that you will get fewer page views though so major media sites aren’t too enamored with this idea) The development of blogging and commenting as well as tagging content for search and discovery and allowing RSS feeds of content are all new developments that have fed this web evolution.
The real question remains that marketers are still trying to figure out how, when and IF marketing in these places works. I have some experience in this area but I am still trying to figure things out too. I do know that traditional banners on social networking sites can work, if they are targeted to the specific demographics of the people that use that site. If you want to advertise on Facebook, make sure your product is relevant to those who use Facebook with a little research. What is murky is whether companies can log on to these communities and interact with people through them and have one person there to represent the face of the company. This is murky for larger companies that fear any negativity about them and don’t accept any form of direct communication with their customers. If you are a small company that does interact directly with customers and don’t have a hierarcy of fake bad answers that have to be given when there is a problem, before you actually fix it then this may be good for you. Hire someone young and communicative and sit them down to handle these communications and messages through the top networks. Heck maybe they can write a blog about new products and new developments at the company too. All this is great for customers because it is real and authentic and helps with public perception if your company chooses to do the right thing, but what people don’t know is that there are other fringe benefits.
1. You can get people talking about your product or company offline
2. You get a ton of links from these sites to your site, and it is a big help in SEO (search engine optimization)
3. You get extra traffic to your site through these communications
4. Its positive PR when handled appropriatley
So, check out the social sites and see if you want to jump in the game there too.
I am looking to sell my condo and move into the city soon and the more I look at new condos and townhomes, the more I want to get rid of my living room furniture. I got it cheap second hand/used when I first moved in and it was a step up from a futon, but now I look at it’s brown chenile print and giant rolled armrests and think 1996. What seems to fit better in most city appartments are sofa sectionals. Many of us remember sectional sofas from the 1970s but they’re back and they are more stylish and modern than they were last time around. Plus they are built in sections so it is easier to move them into small condos with small doorways. I also have seen some leather sofas that are really nice. Contrary to what people think, a leather couch can last a long time and be very durable if it is taken care of properly. I also think a nice leather couch just looks classy when people come over, and never goes out of style. So I have some home decorating to think about, and hopefully I will find a buyer for my place soon.