When Targeted Direct Mail is Oxymoronic

Have you asked yourself this question: “Who is my targeted customer?” If so, the question itself could be very telling.

Across my 35 years in the world of business, I’ve seen many companies come and go. Sadly, I have to make this observation: We spend far too much time on superficial marketing and tactical activities when the real work, the real purpose for our calling is creating something wonderful, something we really care about and something that is important to the people who are our “customer avatar.”

This is not to say that the topic of marketing is unimportant, but that much of the complexity around that topic will simply evaporate if we’ve done great work before we get to the tactics of direct mail, e-mail, social media, blogging, etc. And that the process of targeting should be embedded in our work from the very beginning. This instead of simply using it as a sorting device for a mailing list broker.

So if you’re having to ask: “how do we define our customer” it’s probably already too late. You made that decision long ago, whether you were aware of it or not.


Newsletter Confusion

You know how to build a campaign. It’s Marketing 101, just the basics. A good list, creative design, a great offer. Bingo.

We’re told it’s all about the numbers: reach and repetition. Write a great headline, use the right tools, hire a Flash whiz, get an account at Constant Contact. Hang in there. This strategy works. Eventually. Or at least it gets attention.

How to create a company newsletter: a popular theory

Repurpose our general campaign creative. Extract products from our catalog. Give everyone a heads up on our Spring promotions. People will read it. It’s a NEWSLETTER, after all. True?

Enter the faux newsletter. The domain of marketers who either don’t respect their readers (i.e. customers and clients) enough to provide substantive content, or of marketers who are just confused.

A company newsletter is most successful when it opens and maintains an intimate conversation between real people. It is generous in content and in spirit. It avoids even a hint of self promotion. It is journalistic in style and pointed in its attitude. It’s more about substance than style. It proves that you have a story to tell, or if you have none.

In the Internet Age, reach and repetition have become something of a commodity; real communication remains more elusive.

And by the way, those canned newsletters, and the folksy household tips articles are still being sold to business owners. Don’t even think about it!

How to Hack Your Phone Bill and Why You Should

The larger a company becomes, the more it can suffer from flawed thinking. Like thinking “we’re the only game in town.” In the post industrial era, pomposity is the downfall of many a large consumer oriented company.

Ask my “old friends” over at the local cable TV company, who practically reveled in providing an outlier level of poor service. They’ve turned angering customers into art form. They seemed to love maddening me with broken promises, and annoying me with constant a constant string of billing increases, some of them huge. But now they’re begging to get my business back.

And there’s the old standby, the local phone company, who left me high and dry on many occasions. When technical problems left me without incoming service, customers simply heard my phone ring endlessly. “Sorry, we can’t get anyone there until tomorrow at 4:00 p.m.,” I was told. By the way, my two lines of service, were being billed at something like $70 a month.

Well, I hatched a plan for both: transform myself from one of their highest margin customers, to the lowest tier possible profit tier. And I did it, literally killing two birds with one stone. Now, I’m inviting you to join the party!

A Quick How-To: Sticking it to the Man

With a standard broadband internet connection in place, you can have high quality local and long distance calling for $5 or $10 a month tops.

What You Need to make this work: a rock solid broadband internet connection. I’ve been successful using my cable provider’s connection, and also the local FIOS service in Rancho Cucamonga.

Start by purchasing this Obi 202 device on Amazon. If you use the provided link, we’ll donate our small Amazon sellers’ commission to a worthy local charity.

Next, port your existing phone service (or create a new line of service) using this link. Purchase the Anveo “value” or “unlimited” phone number. If you use referral code: 7108526 our small referral fee will be donated to charity.

Finally, you simply plug your standard remote phone system into the Obi 202 and configure your phones to connect to your Anveo account. Test your phones and you’re good to go. BTW, the Obi easily be wired into your wall jacks to work on any standard phone.

Now, the part you’ll enjoy the most: call your current telephone provider and tell them you are canceling effective immediately!

Is this good quality phone service? Call me at 909–948–3550 and you can be the judge!

Marketing Means Knowing When to Say “I’m Sorry”

LA Times Non Aplogy
LA Times Non Aplogy

LA Times Non Apology

What you’re seeing is the cover sheet sent along with my Sunday LA Times, that arrived a day late, and only after I called. Unfortunately I called after 10:30 a.m. Tough luck.

Why is it my fault that the Sunday paper was never delivered? That’s what the flyer implies, and that’s how it makes me feel after reading it attached to the Sunday paper that I finally received on Monday.

It’s not the internet that’s killing newsprint

Advertising on the internet won’t help the failing newspaper industry. That industry’s epic fail is in properly serving its customers. From it’s outsourced subscription call centers to it’s horrific delivery record, it all comes with a familiar disappointing feeling attached. Almost every customer interaction is negative. Not to mention the ever diminishing actual quality of the content in the paper.

So why focus on Facebook “likes,” when social media channels have a mostly dismal track record in customer conversion? Most certainly because so many marketing managers grossly overrate the influence of advertising while completely overlooking the huge difference a positive customer interaction can bring to the table.

Seth Godin recently wrote: “Why is it so hard for organizations to understand what Tony did with customer service at Zappo’s? Instead of measuring the call center on calls answered per minute, he insisted that the operators be trained and rewarded to take their time and actually be human, to connect and make a difference instead of merely processing the incoming.”

Business Stinks? “Begin with the basics, hot shot!”

Millions of pages of traffic and conversion data analytics are generated every day. Sophisticated and expensive campaigns are embarked upon. But sometimes plain old common sense is the place to start. Didn’t your mother ever teach you to say “I’m sorry” when you screw up?

Page 3 of 31