Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ten tips for improving Direct Mail

Over at MarketingProfs, Steve McNamara writes about what he learnt from a recent report on what has been happening in Direct Mail over the past 12 months.

Alot of what Steve suggests can be implemented in the marketing on your website as well, especially tip #1 - Make stronger offers.

Give the visitor information that he or she are after. Provide them with a reason to contact you. That said, don't lock all the useful information behind walls forcing your visitors to jump through your hoops. Whet their apetite and have them thirsting for more from you.

Whether it is Direct Mail or Website copy, prove to your readers that your organisation is a thought leader through useful, relevant and timely information.

Read the article: Putting Spring in Your Ka-ching: 10 Direct Mail Tips

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Branding, Harry Potter style

An article by John Simmons from Sunday's Observer newspaper, 'Harry Potter, Marketing Magician' suggests that Brand Managers might look to Harry Potter as an example of how to do it.

I think it also nicely adds to the story idea that Seth Godin discusses regularly.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Joys of Summer

Summer is a great time in the business world for those who want to get ahead.


Most businesses slow down, people go on holidays and things get quiet. People take a break from the hectic business schedule. But here is an opportunity for you to get ahead of the competition.

If you have some 'quiet' time coming up on schedule it is perfect to start planning ahead. This is the time to do some reviews of your marketing systems. It is more problematic if you need to interact with colleagues and they are away, but summer is definitely time to put some effort to review your marketing and work on how to improve on what works while putting aside what doesn't.

It is also a good time to review competitors. I know I don't have enough time usually to do all the competitive analysis I would like. But summer can offer you a chance to spend some quality time reviewing the messages your competitors are sending out to the market. You can learn alot from what your competitors are saying. Put yourself in the shoes of a prospect. What elements of your competitors' marketing works, inspires you to find out more, and what elements are a miss?

If you do get the chance to go away this summer and escape from the office, do it properly. Leave work behind and rest your mind. Come back refreshed and ready to take on the competition upon your return.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What print needs to do to survive

Dana VanDen Heuvel discusses ten suggestions from Media Riff on how print can turn itself around within the world of advertising in his post 'Print not dead by any stretch, but it better shape its ass up fast'.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Do you reward loyalty?

I have been subscribing to Businessweek for the last two years. The last few months have seen me receive mailings reminding me that my subscription is coming to an end and that I need to renew it very soon in order to receive "uninterrupted delivery".

The funny thing is that the special deal on the subscription is no better than what I could find online (not on their website but through a third party) even if I let it lapse and decide a few months on that I really do want a subscription. As a result there is no incentive for me to renew NOW rather than later.

I am not sure if I am going to miss the magazine. I am focusing my reading on marketing alot at the moment.

The point of all of this is that Businessweek are not rewarding me to stay with them. Other magazine publishers have sent me mailings trying to get me to subscribe and they offer all sorts of gifts. But once you become a subscriber does the love stop?

Does your company treat customers in a similar way? Once you have them, a good deal is good enough, not a great deal. Existing customers are your best source of new customers. They spread the word about your product if you provide something truly remarkable (see Seth Godin's Purple Cow for more). But the old adage of 'treat them mean, keep them keen' doesn't work.

As I have said on more than one occasion here: Love your customers!

That means making them feel special. Be more than a provider of a magazine, or software or shampoo or whatever it is you sell. Let me know that you value the relationship.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Long Tail in Advertising

The long tail is a concept of market size.

Wired magazine provided a good description of the Long Tail last October.

Recently I have been reading Seth Godin's Purple Cow and also have been working on a Google Adwords campaign for a relative's company. Google Adwords works because of the Long Tail. But it is amazing how many people/businesses/organisations don't take advantage of this.

The Long Tail describes the distribution curve. You have a few big hits to the left and as you move right in the distribution curve so the sales/views/success of a product, etc will be less until it becomes infinitely small.

Amazon use it with great success selling their books. They don't have to stock books in hundreds of stores, just in their warehouses. So when someone wants a rarely sold book, they can readily lay their hands on it and make a sale. But the number of rarely sold books is HUGE! You do the maths.

Google Adwords works the same way.

I have been setting up a couple of hundred keyword phrases for a campaign. Alot of these keywords will be lucky to get one hit a month. But the combined hits adds up. What's more, the cost per click is far less than going after far more competitive generic keywords. And I have no competition. Why? Most people haven't figured out how to use the Long Tail yet.

And you can use related philosophies throughout your marketing. Should you be everywhere your competitors are? Can you out-Proctor & Gamble Proctor & Gamble, out-Microsoft Microsoft, out-Toyota Toyota? Probably not, and if you tried it would cost you a huge amount of money.

Marketers tend to act like sheep. We all go in the same direction as the rest of the herd. We don't want to risk missing out on what everyone else is doing. But it is pretty rough in the centre of the herd. Lots of pushing and shoving goes on there. Get to the edge of the herd and look for opportunities there. What niche markets, advertising opportunities are available that others are missing? There is a risk that it wont come off, but if it does, you will be ahead of the herd and then they will be the ones doing the chasing!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Customer Acquisition Paths

One of the topics I discuss this week in the Vasey on Marketing podcast is that of providing a clear call to action in any marketing you do.

While providing a phrase at the end of an advertisement or brochure with a telephone number is passable, there is so much more that can be done.

In the past, as part of brochure design, I have clearly outlined a series of steps to enablement. That is, the prospect/customer has been able to read the steps required to go from their current stage to the stage of using the product.

Of course your product might not be a complex sale and not require a series of steps in order for someone to review, purchase and then use your product. But clearly defining the best way for a prospect/customer to review and then to purchase your product (because, heck, once they review your product compared to the competition, they will definitely buy your product!) will not only help you to better track marketing efforts but also optimise your chances of success (just in case they are leaning towards the competition!).

In saying that you should point your customers to the right channel in your marketing material means having your customer touch points set up in order to meet, and exceed, the expectations of the prospect/customer. Customer service is about the best service to your customer base while meeting the profit targets of your business. That means that your best practice customer acquisition methods, while turning a profit, have to be focused on the customer.

Take a look at your marketing collateral. Does it clearly tell the customer what they should do next to purchase your product, or to move a step closer to purchasing your product? And do you have the systems in place to meet and exceed customer expectations when they take that next step?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Call to Action

This week I look at making the right call to action in your marketing, getting customer feedback and using fanatical customers' energy to promote your products.

Length: 16 mins 40 secs

Music: 'Monotony" by Binary Beats

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Power of Mass Collaboration

BusinessWeek this week is focussing on the IT Industry. In particular it has a feature titled 'The Power Of Us : Mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business'.

The article looks at various technology companies and how their tools bring together the collective powers of thousands of people thus creating a threat to companies invested in the status quo.

Those companies which are creating threats include Skype, eBay and Google.

54% of Permission Emailers Are Filtered as Spammers

MarketingSherpa has just announced the findings of a report by Pivotal Veracity which found that 54% of Permission Emailers Are Filtered as Spammers -- AOL, Wal-Mart, IBM and the Federal Government Included.

Read more at MarketingSherpa - 54% of Permission Emailers Are Filtered as Spammers: Including AOL News, Wal-Mart, IBM and the Feds

Friday, June 10, 2005

Apple store gets it wrong

Do you ever feel like a sales person is ignoring your needs and simply trying to sell you want they want to?

Most often this happens when you are dealing with call centre staff who are reading from a script. But it appears Apple are doing it in their stores. Aaron over at 'Confessions of a Brand Evangelist' tells this interesting story: A Bad Apple.

The strange part about this story is that Apple don't need to push hard. Most Apple users want to be Apple-ised, but they also tend to know what they want.

The lesson here is to not treat your customers as dumb users. While value-adding is important, also providing an outstanding customer experience by delivering what the customer wants and exceeding their expectations is just as important.

This story also highlights the fact that bad stories move fast. Word spreads fast about poor customer experiences and you can't control that today. But today's market also allows for positive feedback: see Amazon's reviews for items that they seel or eBay's user ratings.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What do you want from VoM?

While we are on the subject of getting feedback, I thought I would take this opportunity to ask you want you would like to see here at Vasey on Marketing.

Is there a particular topic you would like to see discussed? Or is there something that has annoyed you? Let me know!

Drop me a line at or post comments at the end of this article.



Learning what your customers want

Sherri Dorfman over at MarketingProfs has written a good article on learning about what your customers want from your organisation.

As Sherri rightly points out, too many organisations decide for themselves what their customers want.

Instead of getting to the point of asking yourself "where did we go wrong?" when your customers stop buying, ask them today what they desire from your company and then build a profitable plan around their answers.

What Do Your Customers Really, Really Want? by Sherri Dorfman

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Online Marketing Show - London

For those of you in and around London, there is an online marketing show, being held at Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster, today (June 8) and tomorrow.

The focus of the show is interactive marketing and advertising. I hope to get down there though I have a few things on my plate at the moment.

More details are available at the official site.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Trust between Marketing & Sales

As a follow up to this week's podcast, I thought I would touch on a point I didn't get a chance to include in the podcast itself: the relationship between marketing and sales teams.

In so many organisations, there seems to be trust issues between these two groups of people. Sales don't believe that marketing are pulling their weight and providing enough leads while marketing complains that sales aren't giving them the market feedback to get their job done and improve the effectiveness of the marketing. Neither team seems to trust the other to do their job effectively. We want to teach the other how to do the job.

I don't get it! We're on the same team!

While this trust problem is very common, I didn't experience in early roles. In fact, I always saw a good relationship between sales and marketing and then when things did start to get messy I couldn't believe what I was seeing or hearing.

But things like this are fairly easily fixed. Focus on open communication. Weekly or fortnightly meetings between sales and marketing are a great way for both parties to know what the other is doing. Also, in any campaign make sure that before you start you have set firm goals/benchmarks. That way both sides will know where they stand.

If you are having major trust issues between teams it will not go away overnight. But making things more open and clearly defining objectives will make it easier and should provide the basis for a better relationship in the future.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Marketing Yourself: Where's the Passion?

Probably the toughest job in marketing is that of marketing yourself. I am seeing that right now as I look for a new role here in the UK.


I am not sure. Maybe it is because it is very personal. When you are marketing products and services produced by an employer or client (if you are part of an agency team), then it is impersonal. Of course I am not saying that when you sell a product or service you should not have a passion about it. That is part of what drives success - your passion for the product or service that you are selling. But with yourself it is different.

The passion should be there moreso than in other marketing projects. It probably is. Yet business acumen tells us that we should be enthusiastic, yet restrained at the same time. Because restrained is professional. But what if enthusiastic even outlandish, unrestrained exhuberance was considered professional?

Too often I have walked into interviews where the atmosphere has the life of a dead fish. I want to be passionate but, should I? And even if the job was a good one, what about the work environment? Is the job interview a reflection of the rest of the company?

I realise that job interviewees have a thankless task. Get it right and no one says "great hire!" Get it wrong, however, and it can be costly in more ways than one. But show some life to your candidates! Let them know that being passionate is more than OK. It is a requirement for the role.

I love marketing and hope to back in the 9-5 swing of things real soon. Moreover, I hope it is with a company that values passion because just a check in the box in an interview.

Call Centres Lost to Disconnected Best Practice

Reading today's Observer newspaper, I came across a terrific article in the Management section titled "You call this 'best practice'?" by Simon Caulkin.

The article demonstrates the problems of call centres, both locally based and those outsourced to the far reaches of the globe. Apparently call centre staff in India are resigning in droves due to the abuse they receive from customers. But this also happens in the UK. Simon writes:

At bottom, companies are still producing to suit themselves rather than the customer. 'We don't care about the colour of the person we're talking to,' says Professor Harry Scarbrough, director of the Economic and Social Research Council's Evolution of Business Knowledge programme. 'But we do care about being fobbed off with people working to a script. Call centres don't have the knowledge available in a local bank branch or shop. What customers get is knowledge that is pre-packed, shallow, mass-produced and inflexible. People don't like that.'

Later on Simon also points our the disconnect between the vital role the call centre can play in the relationship with customers and the all too sad reality in most cases:

The problem starts with the distance of the call centre from the rest of the organisation, metaphorically as well as literally. It ought to be the company's window on the world, a vital and sensitive two-way connection with customers; instead, all too often it is a bolt-on cost centre, a lowest-cost sponge for mopping up the mess of the initial product inadequacy. As such, it has no influence on, and therefore precious little chance of changing, the conditions that caused the customer aggro in the first place.

I highly recommend a careful reading of this article. There is alot of food for thought for marketing management. We are putting our relationship with our customers in danger by focusing on our costs in key aspects of the relationship over the long term value of that relationship.

"You call this 'best practice'?" by Simon Caulkin.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Product Placement in TV Shows

With more and more TV being pre-recorded by consumers, advertisements are being fast-forwarded. Consumers are also muting the commercials between TV show segments. So how are companies getting their products in front of consumers? By placing them directly in the show itself.

The growing trend of product placement is dicussed in Michael Grebb's piece, Gadget Promos Creep Into TV Shows, over at Wired News.

The Trust Problem in Marketing

Marketing has a problem: Trust. People don't trust marketing and advertising professionals, let alone our message. But what can be done?

Length: 16 mins 50 secs

Music: 'Monotony', by Binary Beats

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dumb Advertising

Here in the UK, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has received a number of complaints regarding its latest TV commercial.


The scene is an emergency call centre and two of the operators are singing with their mouths full of a new KFC product. This, say a number of parents, is promoting poor table manners in their children.

Apart from the terrible manners, it is simply a DUMB ad! Emergency services have a terrific reputation around the world (even here in the UK) and this ad is trying to get audiences to laugh at stupidity as these two operators try to answer emergency calls with their mouths full of KFC.

I haven't seen anyone laugh at these ads, in fact it is more of a cue to change channels or turn the sound down (they can't sing either!). But British TV seems to be full of this type of dumb advertising lately.

If the Brits want to see some clever advertising, they only have to pick up some of the magazines coming out of the US to see some creative and clever ideas.

I am not sure if agencies are trying to be more creative and are just missing their targets or whether there has been a definite move away from smart and sophisticated advertising. Or maybe it is time for the agencies to hire some grown-ups!

What dumb ads have you seen lately? They can be print or electronic.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Blogging is now a Marketing Skill

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article, Blogging Becomes a Corporate Job; Digital 'Handshake'? yesterday on blogging being an up and coming marketing skill. People are being paid to blog for companies.

While this is probably not news to many in the blogging world, it does reinforce the role that blogging can play within marketing campaigns. Further, it shows that with blogging hitting the mainstream if you wish to take advantage of it before 'every man and his dog' does, the time to move in NOW!

Remember when Google Adwords used to be reasonably cheap even for many mainstream keywords and using the service was a distinct competitive advantage? Well, blogging has reached that stage. It is time to turn it into a competitive advantage before your competitors do!