Office Gifts – Corporate Sales Thank Yous

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 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.


Email Marketing Tips

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:

Facebook, MySpace and Class Systems

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.

Car Marketing & Sales Tactics

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.

Want to become a writer?

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. 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.

LOL Cats

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.

The Police – concert memories of the 80’s

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!