Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Promotion on a Dime

Do you have products or services to promote? Do you have information you’d like to share with your customers? Would you like to distribute the information without the expense of a direct mail marketing campaign? Then try a statement stuffer.

Statement stuffers are a terrific sales tool often used by national retailers, utility companies, banks and credit card companies. Because of their small dimension, they can be inexpensive to produce and usually do not add to the postage cost. In many businesses or organizations, purchasing decisions are made by the same people who pay the bills.

Statement stuffers are also versatile. They can be displayed at a front counter, added to promotional kits, or included with finished orders. We can help you design an all-purpose statement stuffer in one or many versions. Just give us a call at (215) 923-2679.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Communicating Across the Generation Gap

There are now six generations interacting with businesses and organizations as purchasers. They are customers, clients, donors, investors, and subscribers. Each generation was shaped by what was going on in the world during their childhood and teenage years. Those events influenced their thinking, the values they hold, their expectations for behavior, and the way they like to communicate. And this has implications for your marketing message and approach.


The Generations

According to leadership coach Bea Fields, co-author of Millennial Leaders: Success Stories from Today’s  Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders, here is an overview of each generation:


GI Generation – born 1901-1924

  • Significant world events: Roaring 20’s, rotary dial telephone becomes commonplace, invention of vitamins
  • Characteristics: achievers, believers, inventors
  • Values: simplicity, uniformity, cooperation, leadership, saving the world
  • Communication preferences:face-to-face, rotary dial telephone, handwritten letters
  • Communication obstacles:email, fax, cell phones,texting, social networking

Traditionalists – born 1925-1945

  • Significant world events: Great Depression, World Wars I and II,  Korean War, G.I. bill
  • Characteristics: waste not want not, loyal, patriotic, faith in institutions, hierarchical thinking
  • Values: logic, loyalty, discipline, tradition, family, leaving a legacy
  • Communication preferences: face-to-face, formal typed or handwritten letters
  • Communication obstacles: email, fax, cell phones (use for emergencies only), texting, social networking

Baby Boomers –  born 1946-1964

  • Significant world events: Vietnam War, move to suburbia, color television, street drugs, civil rights protest and movement, Woodstock, touch telephone
  • Characteristics: hard working, keeping up with The Joneses, idealistic, questioning authority, climbing the corporate ladder, highly competitive, the first “me” generation
  • Values: hard work (70-hour work weeks), getting ahead, being noticed, becoming famous, money, freedom, being “me”
  • Communication preferences: telephone, face-to-face, fax, email (lots of it), group/team meetings, cell phones (for talking, not texting), neighborhood street parties
  • Communication obstacles: social networking, blogging, texting, technophobia

Generation X – born 1965-1978

  • Significant world events: dot.com boom and bust, Sesame Street, AIDS epidemic, latch key kids, MTV, first cellular phone, Apple and Microsoft as tech giants
  • Characteristics: “reality bites”, skeptical of higher institutions, cynical about marriage and life, fiercely independent, questioning everything, tech savvy, globally concerned
  • Values: independence, freedom, friends, mobility, security
  • Communication preferences: to choose the communication method and frequency, email, cell phone, texting, blogging, instant message, online forums
  • Communication barriers: face-to-face communication, formal letter writing, team discussion (prefer one-on-one), difficulty communicating up or down a generation; some barriers with social networking

Generation Y – born 1979-1997

  • Significant world events: September 11, high speed Internet access, overnight delivery, the Information Age, You Tube, birth of self-esteem movement, cell phone mania, Facebook, Myspace and other online social networks
  • Characteristics: open and accepting of diverse backgrounds, very concerned about social and global issues, worldly, knowledge workers, team players, multi-taskers, “me”, impatient, need for speed and thrills
  • Values: live first/work second, speed, information equals knowledge, friends, fun, saving the world, creativity, simplicity, balance
  • Communication preferences: texting, online social networks, email (only for work and school), instant message
  • Communication obstacles: face-to-face, telephone, professional or even casual letter writing

Generation Z – born after 1997

  • This is the rising generation. Not yet adults, Gen Z has not yet been profiled. Generation Z has never known life without the Internet, computers and mobile phones and because of this, they are used to instant access and satisfaction.  They are being given cell phones at an early age, making their primary means of communication texting and social media.
  • Since generations repeat themselves after 80 years or four generations, some demographers believe this generation will look like the G.I. Generation. Generation Z will be shaped by the current recession which will likely make them frugal, socially conscious and valuing integrity.

Using generational preferences for marketing

Today’s communications technology enables marketers to pick from a number of tools to reach customers, including telemarketing, direct mail, opt-in email, and messages to mobile devices. By understanding the communication preferences of generations, you can select the method your target audience is most likely to prefer, as well as tailor content to each generation.

But be aware that each generation blends into the next, meaning that preferences exist on a sliding rather than absolute scale. What this means is that the best strategy is to be proficient at all forms of communication.

  • Don’t neglect personal and business correspondence. The GI Generation, Traditionalists and early Baby Boomers value letters, both handwritten and typed.
  • Don’t abandon the telephone. The GI Generation, Traditionalists, Baby Booms and Gen X still use the telephone. Just remember to call Gen Xers on their cell phones.
  • Become comfortable with face-to-face communication. Only Gen X and Gen Y are truly uncomfortable with face-to-face conversations.
  • Become comfortable with technology. Email, blogging, text messaging, instant message, Facebook and Twitter are here to stay.
  • Learn how to speak in public. There will be times when a public speech is necessary. Think about your “elevator speech”, a 30-second description of who you are and what you do. And if you are very comfortable with new communication technology, remember that most of your target audience may not be.

How we can help

If you are struggling with all this new information, know that you are not alone. Since our job is to help our customers communicate with their customers, we’ve been studying generational differences for a while now. We haven’t abandoned print because it is still valued by the GI Generation, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers. But we’ve added additional services such as website creation and administration (both desktop and mobile), and social media for marketing. Even more importantly, we know how to modify a marketing message so it will have appeal across generations. If you would like more information about putting our expertise to work for your business or organization, contact Brigid at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com. It will be our pleasure to help you learn from our experience.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Next Big Generation

Generation Y, sometimes called The Millennials, currently is the youngest generation to emerge as customers and workers. Born between 1979 and 1997, they are now in their late teens to early 30’s and are predicted to be the next big generation. They were raised in a consumer economy using the tenets of the self-esteem movement where everyone won and everyone got a medal. They are predicted to share many characteristics with the G.I. Generation.

In 2010, the Pew Research Center developed a 14-question quiz to predict how closely a person’s values, attitudes and behaviors resemble the typical Millennial. A score of 51 or higher means the chances are better than 50-50 that there
is a match.

If you would like to take the quiz, it is available online at http://pewresearch.org/millennials/quiz/.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tips and Tricks: Generational Preferences


Generational communication preferences are important in the workplace as well as in marketing. There are currently four generations in the workplace: Traditionalists (15% of work force); Baby Boomers (50%); Gen X (30%) and Gen Y (5%). Traditionalists are hard workers whose lack of technical knowledge is more than offset by their work ethic and personal values. They tend not to offer opinions unless asked and prefer a face-to-face conversation.

Of all the generations, Baby Boomers are the most accepting of change. Though they have mastered technology, they prefer phone calls and email. Boomers read body language well and like written backup plans. They are workaholics and expect co-workers to be, too.

Gen Xers love technology and new gadgets. Communication is short and pointed, often using email. Gen Xers like feedback from supervisors and offer it in return, and may become offended if not kept informed. For a Gen Xer, part of each day includes communicating with family and friends.

Gen Y loves technology even more than Gen X and will play with everything. Email and texting is short and quick, and they may use mobile phone apps to communicate. They expect work to be fun and flexible. Laughter is essential to this group – stern talking is not well accepted. Gen Y also expects everyone to be on the same level.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Direct Mail Marketing: Dead or Alive?

What’s your opinion of direct mail marketing versus email and social media as a marketing tool?

Do you see email, Facebook and Twitter as today’s relevant marketing strategies, replacing direct mail marketing? Are you convinced that customers and prospects view marketing mail as junk mail? Did you try direct mail marketing once, with disappointing results?

If so, you may be surprised to learn that volumes of research support the fact that direct mail marketing remains an effective marketing tool and it is enhanced, not replaced, by email and social media. It’s not that direct mail is dead – it’s that single-channel communication is dead. 

Using marketing strategies cooperatively

Not everyone responds to communications in the same way. Today, any marketer using only one method to reach customers and prospects is risking effectiveness. Rather than use one method in isolation, several methods should be combined to multiply their effect:

Scenario 1: Use a direct mail post card with a printed QR code to direct the target audience to your website. At the website, provide an incentive to gather email addresses. Invite visitors to engage with your social sites.

Scenario 2: Use the opt-in email list to direct a customer to your website to request a direct mail pack. Send a follow-up email message to be sure that the pack was received.

Scenario 3: Use a direct mail piece to remind donors or members of the need to renew. Use email to remind non-responders of the approaching deadline to join or give. Send a written communication to responders (thank you) and non-responders (second follow-up mailing).

As Charles Gaudet, marketing expert and founder of PredictableProfits.com,
reminds us, “One would think that if digital communication was so good then the online giants of the world, namely Google and Microsoft, would rely solely on email and other digital media, but they don’t. In fact, they spend millions of dollars each year reaching out to customers and prospects using direct mail. Why? Because it works.” 

Direct mail: the logical first step

John Jantsch, creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System, says “Marketing is getting people who have a specific need or problem to know, like, and trust you.” For most businesses and organizations, direct mail is the logical first step to accomplish these objectives.

Sending direct mail – particularly a series of mailings – allows prospects to become familiar with your company’s name, logo, location, product line and services. Even if there’s no immediate need for what you’re offering, you build name recognition and allow the prospect to get to know your business. Further, you increase the likelihood that the prospect will visit your website or click through to it in search results.
 

Is direct mail junk mail?

Although unsolicited advertising or promotional material is called junk mail by some, it is welcomed by others. According to the Direct Marketing Association 2010 Response Rate Trend Report, 79% of households either read or skim advertising mail sent to their home.

This finding is consistent with a study conducted by ICR for Pitney Bowes. That survey found that despite the widespread use and popularity of digital media overall, 73% of consumers prefer mail for receiving new product announcements, compared to 18% who prefer email. The survey also found that 31% of consumers are less likely to discard unopened mail (including new product announcements, coupons, brochures and catalogs) than they are to delete spam (53%). 

Unsolicited mail versus unsolicited email

To compare unsolicited mail to unsolicited email, the ICR study asked consumers what specific advantages they saw in unsolicited mail. The results are interesting:
  • 45% found mail less intrusive than email.
  • 40% found mail more convenient (save and consider at leisure).
  • 30% of respondents found mail to be less high pressure (let them consider their decision).
  • 23% of respondents found mail to be more descriptive (easier to picture the offer).
  • 12% of respondents found mail to be more persuasive.

 

Other differences include:

  • Email can be designated by the recipient as spam and blocked from the inbox. Direct mail, on the other hand, does get into the mail box. And because it is tangible, some part of the mail piece will be seen even if it is discarded.
  • Mail that arrives regularly may be more welcome than email. Prospects unsubscribe from email at a faster rate than they request to be removed from a mailing list.
  • If someone moves and turns in change-of-address orders to the USPS, that information is made available to mailers. There are no similar update services for email addresses.
According to the United States Postal Service, the average household receives about 16 pieces of advertising-related mail per week, while the average consumer received 15-16 marketing emails per day. In 2009, Forrester Research predicted that email marketing messages would reach an average of 25 per day by 2014. This means that there is significant competition for consumer attention with email and relatively little for direct mail. 

Direct mail is a campaign, not a single event

Effective direct mail marketing is a campaign rather than a one-time mailing – mail pieces are sent out on a regular, recurring cycle. If your budget allows for a 3,000-piece mailing, it is better to mail three times to a list of 1,000 rather than one time to a list of 3,000. The costs will be nearly the same, but the response rate will be greater. Each subsequent mailing reinforces your message and increases the likelihood that a recipient will have a current need for your product or service. 

Count on us for help

For 17 years, we have been helping our customers effectively communicate with their customers and prospects. We have the knowledge and experience to help you design a direct mail campaign with impact. We will design and print the mail piece, process your mailing list for data quality and hygiene, and provide mailing services that qualify for discounted postage rates. We can also help you take advantage of promotions being offered by the USPS. To learn more about our direct mail marketing services and how they help you increase sales, contact Brigid at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Q&A: Should I Use a QR Code on My Direct Mail Marketing Piece?

Yes! Adding a Quick Response (QR) code to any printed piece makes it interactive for mobile phone users. A QR code is a two-dimensional graphical representation of information; after scanning the QR code, the information is displayed on the mobile phone screen.

Early uses of QR codes were to display a website or telephone number. Now they are used to display a coupon at checkout, send an email or text message, go to a personalized web page, or launch a video.