4 secrets of DM creative team success

In a recent Target Marketing webinar, Robert Lerose and William Fridrich discussed how clients can work successfully with DM copywriters and designers.

Target posted four of these ideas on their Web site:

1. The most precious thing you can give a copywriter is time. Hiring a copywriter at the last minute and then expecting him to turn around brilliant, well-conceived copy shortly thereafter is unreasonable, says Lerose. Plus, many of the quality copywriters will be booked! So make sure you hire early and set a reasonable deadline so the work comes in on time and in great shape.

2. The aim of design is clarity and involvement, not fancy-pants visuals. It’s very easy to go overboard with design, especially with the new tools available to designers. But restraint is necessary when the chief motivator is to get the copy read and keep readers involved until they respond, Fridrich asserts.

3. Make your key people available for interviews. This is an overlooked crucial step in helping a copywriter not only understand the company and product he’s writing about, but also in coming up with the right kind of copy, explains Lerose. Often, visiting the site where the product is made and talking to the people involved, such as a magazine and its editorial staff, will eventually produce copy that is accurate, inspired and effective.

4. All changes and corrections should be collected and communicated to the designer at one time. Depending on how many people have a say in the look and design of a particular mailer, it’s essential to first come to a consensus about the necessary revisions before asking the designer to make changes, says Fridrich. This results in a more efficient process and ultimately is a mutually satisfactory result.

I’d be happy if clients would just provide adequate time and forward changes in one document. They both have to do with time, and unfortunately many marketers simply don’t understand the time that can go into delivering good work.

What else would you like clients to do to make working with them easier?

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Direct Marketing Glossary

Do you know what a bingo card is? How about a buck slip. Or a bangtail? (Get your mind out of the gutter!)

These terms may sound mysterious, but they’re just part of the official language of direct marketing. That’s probably why one of my most bookmarked pages is the Glossary of Direct Marketing Terms.

Here are some of the most interesting terms from the glossary:

Bangtail – Return envelope with a reply form attached to the flap. The reply form tears off and is returned in the envelope. Also referred to as a “hot potato.”

Bingo Card – Reply card in a publication offering an easy means to request information from advertisers whose ads appear in the publication. Called a “bingo card” because it is often covered with numbers corresponding to offered information, making the card look similar to a card used to play bingo.

Buckslip – Small piece of paper inserted into a direct mail package to emphasize certain information.

Decoy – Name included in a mailing list to catch people who disregard the terms of the list rental agreement.

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FREE Direct Mail White Paper

direct mail white paperGetting Response in a Down Economy reveals what’s really happening in the marketplace, how your customers are reacting, and the 4 key principles you can use to boost your direct mail profits. Plus, get 32 pages packed with the powerful tips, strategies, and resources you need to cut costs and increase sales.

Download this FREE direct mail white paper now!

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Why slogans don’t sell

Here’s a little secret Madison Avenue doesn’t want anyone to know …

Slogans are losers. They don’t sell.

At least, most of them don’t sell. I ran across an article from USA Today I saved back in 2003 on this topic and it cited a consumer survey on whether people recognized the slogans of some of the biggest marketers in the U.S. The results were depressing.

Out of 22 supposedly “famous” tag lines, “only six were recognized by more than 10% of those surveyed — this for companies spending more than $100 million a year on ads.”

When you dig deeper into the results, it gets worse.

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Does Twitter drive traffic and sales?

Twitter logoTwitter has become a big topic in the marketing world. But is it driving traffic or generating sales?

I must admit that my experience with Twitter is limited. I’ve been testing it with a nonprofit political organization I help run in Ohio. The number of “followers” we have is fairly small at this point, but growing steadily.

Most of our “tweets” are actually generated by an automated tool to post our RSS feed, resulting in about 10 tweets a week. I and one other officer have been occasionally adding original tweets about important topics, events, or guests on our radio show. So there are maybe 15 to 20 tweets total every week.

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21 great headlines from trashy tabloids

headline secretsWant to read some great headlines? Check these out:

Man’s head explodes in barber’s chair.

Woman with 4 legs opens dance studio.

Skiing squirrel dies trying to break 196 m.p.h. speed record!

Cow crashes domino game.

Inflate-a-Boob. New breast implants take gals from flat to fabulous … in seconds!

And these are just the beginning. Alex Eckelberry from Sunbelt Blog turned me on to a collection of Weekly World News back issues preserved in all their eye-popping glory by Google Books.

This stuff is like a Barnum and Baily nightmare. But they hold a treasure of incredible headlines that, while weird and over-the-top, work like money machines. I mean, they certainly sell these publications.

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What does “freelance” really mean?

a free lancerPeople use the word “freelance” quite a lot these days, generally to refer to someone who doesn’t have a “real” job. But that’s hardly an accurate definition.

The word freelance comes from the Middle Ages, when there were basically two types of knights. There were the knights who worked exclusively for one king. Then there were the “free lancers,” or knights who worked for anyone who would pay them.

The idea of freelancing is still with us, but kings have been replaced by businesses, while knights have been replaced by professionals of all kinds. Today there are more freelancers than ever before and more freelancing opportunities as well. But it’s important to have a firm understanding of what freelance really means today.

Here’s a good definition:

A freelancer or freelance worker is a person who pursues a profession without a long-term commitment to any one employer.

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23 thoughts to survive any crisis

survive any crisisIt seems every time you turn on the news, there’s another crisis. Another business failure. Another bailout. Another depressing statistic. More evidence that no one has any clue what they’re doing.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little numb with all the drama.

Fortunately, a good sense of humor can help you survive and even thrive when all those around you are panicking. This applies especially to the advertising and marketing industry, which has been hit pretty hard in this wacky economy.

Whether you’re a copywriter, designer, manager, business owner, salesman, or anyone trying to stay sane, you might find a little inspiration (maybe even a smile) in this small collection of familiar observations.

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6 secrets of buyer behavior in a recession

This is a short excerpt from an upcoming white paper called “Getting Response in a Down Economy.” I’ll announce it in my newsletter first. Click here or use the yellow box at the top right of this blog to subscribe.

buyer behaviorThere’s no doubt about it. Business is tough out there. Every day brings more unsettling economic news.

But have things changed as much as some people claim? Has the recession completely changed buyer behavior?

In my opinion, no. Buyer behavior in this recession is very similar to buyer behavior at any other time, but with this important caveat: While people may be buying, they’re being far more cautious and making decisions far more slowly. So it’s harder to sell to them. Harder, not impossible.

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30 Timeless Direct Marketing Principles

Bob StoneBob Stone has been called one of the founders of modern direct marketing. He had the ability to understand both the big picture of marketing and the finer details of selling tactics.

Here are 30 timeless direct marketing principles he discovered over the course of his long career:

1. All customers are not created equal. Give or take a few percentage points, 80 percent of repeat business for goods and services will come from 20 percent of your customer base.

2. The most important order you ever get from a customer is the second order. Why? Because a two-time buyer is at least twice as likely to buy again as a one-time buyer.

3. Maximizing direct mail success depends first upon the lists you use, second upon the offers you make, and third upon the copy and graphics you create.

4. If, on a given list, “hotline” names don’t work, the other list categories offer little opportunity for success.

5. Merge/purge names — those that appear on two or more lists — will outpull any single list from which these names have been extracted.

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