It’s holiday time! Does that mean suspension of marketing initiatives?

Marketing in August? When it seems that everyone in the entire world is making sandcastles on Bognor Regis beach or sipping cocktails at sunset in Bali (apart from you)? You’d think not, wouldn’t you – unless your business involves buckets and spades, sarongs or sun tan lotion. Actually, there’s no need to stop at all, as long as we all use a little bit of common sense.

For a start…

Not everyone’s on holiday

The streets of Paris empty out in July and August when locals take their annual vacation. Shops and businesses close down for an entire month, sometimes longer – but that’s not quite the same in the UK. Most of us, if we take holidays at all, may only be away for a week or a fortnight. Even then, with the blessing (or is it a curse?) of internet technology, many business people aren’t completely out of the loop, still checking emails and responding to requests – so a carefully thought out campaign may not be the waste of time and resources you anticipated.

Know your audience. Maybe it would be better to wait until September – but maybe not. If you trade internationally, check out their holiday periods and work around them, or with them.

Use the time wisely

It’s true that the pace of business can slacken off in the summer months, so make the most of the lull in activity by planning, researching, working on marketing strategy, enhancing your SEO.

Try something new

You know you’ve always been meaning to make the time for using Twitter more, or Facebook, or LinkedIn. The summer months give you that opportunity to experiment, while there’s less to do in other areas.

Be ready for action

Like a good boy scout or girl guide, you can Be Prepared! When September comes around, (all too quickly, you’re probably thinking), you can be ready to launch a stunning campaign when your clients are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a break and keen to get on with the next phase of the working year.

However…

Don’t you just dread coming back from a holiday and your in-box is overflowing with a huge volume of emails and your in-tray is stuffed full of post which needs your attention? Your clients won’t be any different, so best to judge your time carefully here and avoid the first few days of September – that’s unless your marketing is so brilliant that it will shine out like a star in the gloom of too much correspondence.

Be entertaining

Yes, that must always be your aim, but never more so than when you send out material in the summer months, when people’s thoughts may already be up in the air en route to Malaga or the Maldives, rather than focusing 100% on what’s on the desk in front of them. We’ve all been there!

We’re always here to help

We’re not saying that we never take holidays, just that we plan them so you’ll always have a Mailing Expert on hand to answer queries, offer guidance and fulfill your Direct Mailing requirements.

Why not contact us on 01825 983033 or send us an email on info@mailingexpert.co.uk

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When is an envelope more than an envelope?

No, that’s not a riddle – it’s a serious question we’re going to answer in this blog. First, be thankful we’re not living in 3500 BC (although it may feel like it sometimes!) In that era, in the Middle East, envelopes were hollow clay spheres!

It wasn’t until the 2nd century BC that paper envelopes were introduced in China. In the UK, envelopes were always handmade but in 1850, Edwin Hill and Warren De La Rue were granted a patent for an envelope-making machine. You still had to use your own glue until the 1900s, when pre-gummed envelopes were produced. You learn something new every day with Mailing Expert!

Envelopes for direct mailing today

Around 50% of people surveyed prefer to receive sales material through the post, according to ‘Reasons to love mail’ PRINT.IT, Spring 2015 – and unless you’re using postcards, that entails envelopes. Regular envelopes of all sizes, windowed envelopes, envelopes of every colour, padded envelopes…there’s a vast range of options at your disposal when you’re thinking about a direct mailing initiative. Which to choose? Does it matter? Our contention is – yes, it DOES matter, if you want to maximise the effectiveness of your campaign. Everyone spends a lot of time designing the letter, brochure or flyer that goes inside the envelope, but what’s the point of that if the envelope itself is so dull that people don’t bother to open it?

Size and Colour

If you receive lots of mail, then another A4 brown envelope or standard white DL envelope (A4 letter folded into 3 equal parts) will probably get lost in the crowd. A brightly coloured envelope, one with an attractive customised design or one that’s a non-standard size will help your mailing to stand out. Be wary, though, of sending zany mail when your message is about professional services or is B2B marketing. That may not reflect your intended first impression and may be considered unprofessional by some.

Bulk

If you’re anything like us, then something tangible inside an envelope, whether it’s a pen, coaster, bookmark or key-ring, is almost certain to pique our interest enough that we’ll definitely open it to see what’s inside. That’s worth considering, weighing up the cost of stuffing the envelope and possible additional postal charges against a greater likelihood of your message being read.

The extra personal touch

Hand-written names and addresses are more likely to attract interest as are envelopes which are stamped rather than franked. It suggests that the letter comes from a human being rather than a corporate machine. Of course, for a large-scale campaign it’s almost certainly too time-consuming, and therefore not cost-effective. We have the facility to print multiple names and addresses automatically and there is font that looks very like handwriting as a compromise measure.

Ease of opening

You may laugh but it has been shown to be a factor in the success of direct mailing campaigns. You know how annoying it is when you buy something and have to battle with packaging – well, to a lesser extent, the same applies to envelopes. Busy people simply won’t bother if it’s too much of a chore.

Any questions?

We think we’ve covered everything, but if you don’t agree, just ask. Every mailing initiative, every group of intended recipients is different, and careful thought needs to go into the best approach – including the envelope. We can help you with those choices at Mailing Expert.

 

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Compelling copy can be clear as well

Or – how not to be too clever for your own good when writing marketing material.

Though technically anyone can write, the task of creating copy for websites, brochures, flyers and other marketing collateral is often delegated to copywriters because of their skill with words. That’s their job, after all. Horses for courses. Producing exciting messages to cajole potential customers into buying your product or using your services is in their blood, (or it should be), whereas the rest of us often haven’t the time, inclination or ease with words to write effectively.

We might struggle for hours on a piece of writing which a copywriter could create in a quarter of the time – and with better results – so it makes more sense for us to do what we’re good at and leave the writing to someone with the right skill-set.

Copy that’s as clear as mud?

Engaging a writer to, well, write, is only common sense. However, writers simply love words and like nothing better than playing with them. They love a little lick of alliteration, they’ll go to the ends of the earth for hyperbole and as for onomatopoeia – boom! (See what we did there? If not, it confirms exactly what we’re talking about).

When you’re trying to get across your marketing message, wordplay is all well and good. It makes copy quirky, witty and individual and can really give a sense of your brand image, BUT – that’s only as long as the information isn’t so tied up in linguistic acrobatics that it’s no longer clear what you’re promoting.

We’ve all seen adverts which make us shake our heads and think, ‘Well, that was very entertaining, but what exactly is it about?’ Cleverness kills conversions. On the other hand, copy that is clear to the point of being patronising can be oh so dull – and boring material loses sales too. It’s a dilemma…

There are more than two types of copy

It seems to be an ongoing debate in marketing circles – this idea of clear v clever copy. We’re here to tell you that you can have it all. Sometimes, clear, down-to-earth copy is required, just like the famous Ronseal ad, ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ That’s clear and that’s clever too.

Sometimes, clever copy can pique people’s interest. Here’s one from Swiss Life, financial and legal services:

I like working with you is impossible.

For all life’s twists and turns:

Flexible financial plans.

Clever. Compelling. It makes you look twice. Clear? Yes, we know what’s on offer.

Good copywriters will know which approach to use no matter what the product or service, to maximise effect and the chance of conversions. We all understand that a marketing campaign is wasted if it isn’t on-message and on-brand. That doesn’t mean that the message can’t be clever as well as clear. A clearly-stated benefit which is exactly the same as your competitor’s clearly-stated benefit isn’t going to make you stand out from the crowd.

Marketing guru, David Ogilvy says, ‘There are no dull products, only dull writers.” There are clever writers too. The cleverest writers know when they shouldn’t be too clever.

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Marketing plan or muddling through?

In honour of St. Bernadine of Siena, patron saint of advertising, who is specially remembered today (20th May), let’s have a look at marketing plans, which may well include advertising. Why not?

First, we hear you asking, “Why was St. Bernadine, 15th century Franciscan priest, the patron saint of advertising?” – yes, that’s a whole four centuries before the very first Coca Cola ad, which appeared in 1886. The simple answer is, because he was renowned for his passionate and persuasive speeches. Before his death in 1444, he preached for 50 days in a row. We would not necessarily recommend this as part of your marketing plan, both for your sake and your clients’ – but, passionate and persuasive words would definitely be a good idea to incorporate into any marketing material…

Why is a marketing plan important?

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Been so busy with the day-to-day running of our business that we don’t feel we can spare the time for marketing. It seems counterintuitive to take time away from client-facing activities or fine-tuning production.

Instead, we may use a scattergun approach, reacting to external situations when they occur rather than being proactive and creating opportunities that will help our business to grow. A scattergun fires lots of pellets and the hope is that some may reach the target. Many of the pellets go wide and many fall to the ground. What a waste of effort and resources!

Planning our marketing makes absolute sense – it’s as simple as that.

Writing a marketing plan

If you do it well it will take time. Implementing a plan has plenty of challenges, but more challenging still is deciding what to do, how to do it and when. It needs contribution from every department even if that department is one person, and even if one person wears a number of hats within the company. Finance, manufacturing, personnel, supply – all these elements must be considered in order to be realistic about what’s achievable and where the focus is needed.

What does a marketing plan achieve?

(Aside from the obvious like identifying your target market and setting up focused campaigns – like the Direct Mailing that we specialise in at Mailing Expert).

Magnified illustration with the words Marketing Plan on white background.

  • A chance to reflect on the big picture for your company
  • Your game plan written out in black and white – so anyone can refer to it
  • A mega to-do list assigning specific tasks
  • A rallying point which will encourage commitment from your team
  • Provision of specific measurable results

So – take time to write a marketing plan and make St. Bernadine proud!

 

 

Networking at Christmas

Yes, you did read that correctly. Let’s just repeat that to make sure. Networking at Christmas. It isn’t as crazy as it may sound.

Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle!

You don’t have to do anything special. All you have to do is be prepared. We know that the temptation is to forget all about work, break the world record for mince-pie consumption and slump on the sofa in front of the Downton Abbey Christmas special (if sufficiently fortified by sweet British sherry) – but we’d all do well to remember that this time of the year is stuffed full of opportunities to build lasting business relationships. Stuffed like the turkey!

The season for giving…

Christmas is a wonderful time to send out cards and gifts to your clients to let them know how much you value them – and possibly to rekindle fading relationships, exactly the same as with your family and friends. Make the most of it.

It’s party time…

Think of all those invitations you receive to Christmas events from companies, clients, professional organisations, chambers of commerce, networking groups…just go to them.
Of course, socialising is the main thing. Nobody very much wants your slick sixty-second elevator pitch rammed down their throats on these occasions – but socialising is building relationships, and building relationships is how your business will grow. Getting to know people on a personal level as well as a professional level adds a whole new dimension to mutual business connections. How dull life would be if all we ever talked about was the economic climate or sales figures?!

Eat, drink and be merry…

But not too merry. You want to be remembered for the right reasons – ‘This is someone I’d like to do business with’ – rather than, ‘That’s the person who drank too much and danced on the table wearing only a party hat.’

Keep in touch…

The important thing is having the means to stay in touch after the event. Take your business cards, or at least a pen and notebook to jot down numbers. Finish your conversation with a cheery, ‘It would be great to have a chat in the New Year!’ then don’t forget to follow up.
Send your party host a thank you note – that’s a tradition which seems to have died out in recent years. You’ll be appreciated and remembered with warm feelings.
Don’t forget to let clients and business associates know if you’re planning to close the office over the Christmas break. You could also provide suppliers and contacts with details of how to reach someone in case of emergency.

And finally…

Have fun! Use those networking opportunities but also allow yourself time to relax, regroup and revitalise ready for whatever 2016 will bring.

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Telemarketing as part of an Integrated Campaign

First, here’s an advisory: telemarketing is NOT the same as telesales, those calls which we all dread, offering double glazing or solar panels or carpet cleaning because ‘we just happen to be in your area this week’.

So what is telemarketing?

Telemarketing is quite different. It’s a service which is the human interaction element of a marketing campaign, generating interest and creating opportunities. Its personal approach offers a chance for both a potential client and a business to find out more about each other, to see if synergy exists for a mutually-beneficial relationship in the future.

Proficient telemarketers can often communicate brand values and the personality behind your business, putting your proposition into engaging words far more effectively than any other means of contact

Telemarketing can be used on its own but works even better as part of an overall marketing strategy. Telesales can be part of a telemarketing campaign, but, for overall effectiveness it is only one element in a multi-layered approach.

Organising a telemarketing campaign

What are the first steps to take? At Mailing Expert, we work closely with Lesley Roberts of Talkmarketing, a B2B and B2C telemarketing company. She suggests, ‘Ask yourself the following questions: Who are we targeting?  What geographical area will we cover?  How big will the companies be? Will we search on turnover or number of employees?’ Another factor to consider is choosing the optimum time.

Lesley also advises having all marketing collateral in place before you start. Or, at the very least, deciding on the platforms you will use – website, emails, letters, social media… Having well-produced marketing material on hand, both digital and printed, will dramatically increase your chances of building successful relationships which may then be converted into future business.

Most important of all, key to a successful campaign is good data.

Data is king

We’ve all done it – phoned a business and asked to speak to a decision-maker by name, only to be told she left five years ago. This immediately puts us on the back foot. As Lesley says, ‘ The company will think that we have not researched, put us into that box of ‘just another cold caller’ and it is really hard to build the trust from that point.’

Data that is six months old is too old. It’s sensible – no, VITAL – to update it before you start! We can help you to cleanse it, screen it, run it through Telephone Preference Service so that you won’t waste your time or anybody else’s.

If you use inaccurate data, your telemarketers’ time will be spent amending contact information, not forming relationships with potential customers. In the long run, spending time and money getting it right in the first place will actually save you money – and your reputation.

Not to be ignored

Telemarketing should never be taken out of the equation if a marketing campaign is to have maximum impact. It’s something that you shouldn’t ignore – and neither will prospective clients if you do it well.

And the added bonus? Your results are fantastically easy to track and measure.

Let us know how we can help – because, at Mailing Expert, help we can!

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Complement traditional marketing using social media networking

We’re called Mailing Expert, but we know about other things too — anything to do with your company getting its message out to a target audience, most of all to potential customers.

Enhancing not replacing

Social media and online marketing is all shiny and exciting, perceived as today’s way to reach out to customers. After all, half the population is glued to computers, tablets or smartphones – that’s right, isn’t it? If you’re not taking advantage of the power of the internet, if you haven’t an online presence, then that could be a grave error, damaging to your business bottom line.
However, it must be part of an integrated strategy. It could be just as detrimental to neglect offline marketing and throw all your time and money into all-singing-all-dancing online material.

One size does NOT fit all

Think about your market — a statement that’s almost too obvious to mention. If you’re selling alcopops then it’s pretty certain your customers will be social media savvy 20-somethings so it’s worth investing time and money in an online campaign to engage interest – emails included.

On the other hand, perhaps you’re offering chiropody services or advertising stair-lifts? While online promotion is not to be ignored, it may be a secondary channel and resources should be allocated accordingly. Letters and leaflets through the post probably work best for older customer segments at the moment, though that may change.

Word of Mouse

So – you’ve decided to go for it online. Many people fall into the trap of an ad-hoc approach which starts with a bang and fizzles out after a few weeks. Your strategy requires as much planning and consistency as any other marketing initiative.

Your website is the place for detailed information about your company, products and services, and maybe an online shop. Facebook and Twitter are NOT great selling platforms. They ARE a way of communicating with your clients and customers in an informal and interactive way, developing relationships which will lead to brand loyalty if you do it right – and pointing people in the direction of places where they can buy your products or services.

Words to the wise

Here are a few tips to get you thinking about social media:
• Be entertaining but don’t go off-message completely – highlight USPs, strengthen your brand, talk about issues relevant to your business – but NO SALES PITCHES
• If you write a blog, post news or press releases on Facebook – keep doing it at regular intervals. If your last update was in May 2013, what message does that convey about your business?
• Answer questions, gather feedback and respond appropriately to criticisms
• Make use of analytics and monitoring tools

And finally…

Mailing Expert practices what it preaches! Join us on Facebook: follow us on Twitter. Discover the personalities behind our ever-efficient services.

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Mailing Expert – your check mates!

At Mailing Expert we check everything – not only content we have created on your behalf, but also material you have sent to us ready prepared, to use on the marketing collateral, business cards, or whatever you’ve asked us to produce.

Avoid embarrassing bloopers

We want your marketing to be completely error-free, with no unfortunate mistakes which will give a poor impression of your company and could turn off potential customers.

We proofread your text, of course, but we also check telephone numbers, web links, email addresses and QR codes to make sure they’re working properly and linking to the correct place.

QR blunders can happen

Imagine the humiliation if you made the same mistake as Heinz – yes, even a huge multinational can do it. Heinz had a QR code on a ketchup bottle which took customers to a special offer. So far, so good.

However…

Once the promotion had expired, they neglected to renew the registration of the domain name, which was then snapped up by an entrepreneurial porn company. Unsuspecting ketchup customers who scanned in the QR code got a lot more sauce than they bargained for!

Use of QR codes in marketing

QR (short for Quick Response) codes were developed in Japan and have become increasingly popular as a way of grabbing attention and optimising advertising for target audiences.

They’re free to generate and are rather like barcodes except they can store more data, including downloadable material. Customers can scan them, using a smartphone, and will be connected to websites and social media, or be able to download contact information, money-off coupons, product details and the like – whatever you, as a company, choose to link to with the QR code.

Mailing Expert Top Tips for QR Codes

  1. Since QR code are found on smartphones, make sure whatever you link to is optimised for mobile devices
  2. It takes time for someone to scan in a QR code and reach the content – so make sure it is something of value to your target audience
  3. Use domain names that you own so that you always have control over the content to which your customers are directed (unlike Heinz!)
  4. QR codes are perfect for business cards, brochures, product packaging etc. but don’t generate much traffic online, on billboards or vehicles

Finally, if you forget to make the necessary checks, don’t worry – because here at Mailing Expert, we make it our business to remember.

No faces as red as tomato ketchup for Mailing Expert clients!