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!

 

 

Mailing Expert

9.3 Million Pounds to Design, Print and Distribute a Leaflet?

Her Majesty’s Government should have asked us at Mailing Expert.  Not that we’re after the £9 million(honest!), just that we could do the same job, to exactly the same standards for less; no expensive London advertising agency or PR company. Just your local SME! We think the British taxpayers would be very pleased about that.

Direct Mail is Second Nature to Us

With over 30 years in the print and Direct Mail business, this sort of mailing service is second nature to us – and it’s something we do very well, if the testimonials and repeat business from our customers are to be believed.

As an SME, our overheads are relatively low so our prices are always competitive, our design and printing services are top notch, using print media from digital, laser and inkjet to full litho printing.

We have access to a range of postal options, working closely with Royal Mail (and other postal suppliers) who offer postage discounts for a variety of services and we also offer a door to door leaflet option too.  We understand all the variables so can select the very best arrangement for you.

For most Direct Mailing campaigns, we offer a fully-managed data service, to make sure your leaflet gets to the right addresses.  Since the EU Referendum leaflet is destined to go to every household in the UK, perhaps, in this case, such clever filtering and data verification is superfluous!

Anyway, NEXT TIME, Mr. Prime Minister, just give us a call and we’ll do you a very good deal.

And everyone else – we know your Direct Mailing requirements won’t be quite as large, but no job is too small for us at Mailing Expert.

Why not drop us a line or give us a ring?

Mailing Expert

 

Saving the Planet with Eco-friendly Mailing Expert

A paperless society – will it ever happen? With increasing use of email and text, with documents sent electronically with the advisory, ‘Please consider the environment before printing,’ you may be forgiven for thinking that print will be extinct as dinosaurs in a few years’ time. Here at Mailing Expert we disagree.

Ha! As a company which specialises in printing, we would say that wouldn’t we? Here’s the thing: printed material does have its place in our lives and always will do. Obviously, we’re not anti-printing, but we ARE against wasting resources.

Interesting facts about paper consumption

(We think they’re interesting, anyway!)

  • Despite the global push for sustainability, by 2012 consumption of paper had increased by nearly 50% since 1980
  • In the UK, it is estimated we consume the equivalent of 4.48 40-foot high trees per person per year
  • Belgium has the worst record of all (8.51 trees per person per year) but can be slightly excused as a nation, since they have the EU headquarters in Brussels – think of all those huge documents required in countless languages

Print responsibly at home

Many, many people print off emails and electronic documents at home. This may actually be less environmentally-friendly than a company sending out responsibly-produced paper material in the first place.

How many times have you printed something off and realised you have an almost completely blank ‘page 2 of 2’? That’s a waste! Do you use eco-friendly ink and recycled paper or paper from sustainable sources? Something to think about…

Are electronic devices always the most eco-friendly option?

If you don’t print stuff out and feel very virtuous reading from your PC or tablet, then consider this too: such devices need power, so in using them, we deplete the earth’s natural resources. Disposing of them when we upgrade to the latest model creates a huge e-waste problem since most end up in landfill sites.

Direct Mailing can make environmental sense…

If you:

  • use FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certified or recycled paper
  • choose eco-friendly inks, for example, vegetable-based ones which don’t use harmful chemicals
  • minimise waste and, if some is generated, dispose of it in an environmentally-responsible way

Practising what we preach

At Mailing Expert we have a strong conscience when it comes to environmental matters and we make sure that anyone whose products or services we use has robust policies in place too.

          Carbon Offsettingwe use FSC® recycled and FSC®  mixed recycled stock from renewable sources for our print and envelopes. We also use bio/photodegradable plastic for our poly-wrapping and poly bags

          Re-using – wherever possible we re-use boxes, envelopes and other items. Our digital ink cartridges are sent back to the manufacturer to be refilled.

          Recycling – all our excess stock, boxes, pallets and staff items such as bottles and yogurt cartons are recycled

          Promoting responsible practiceson all our envelopes and carrier sheets we include a logo to remind recipients to recycle. The logo can be tailored to our clients’ needs – but most like the polar bear idea!

Recycle             Save a Polar Bear

Use our services and you’ll be sure you’re dealing with a company who cares about their clients AND the future of the planet.

 

Mailing Expert

New Data Protection Legislation from the EU – GDPR

We all love a bit of legislation, especially when it’s contained in a 204 page directive from the EU. In the spirit of customer service, here’s a summary of the reforms to save you endless nights of tedious bedtime reading. We aim to please.

The 1985 Data Protection Act Directive and the 1998 Data Protection Act

Just to bring us up to speed. In the latter part of the 20th century it became apparent that most companies and organisations – individuals too – were storing and processing personal information on computers. While this has many advantages as far as speed and efficiency goes, it leaves us vulnerable because this data may be accessed by others without our knowledge or permission. Unscrupulous people could misuse it – use it for commercial advantage, identity theft for criminal purposes or sell it on to a third party for financial gain.

The 1985 Data Protection Directive was created to control the way such information is handled and to give some legal rights to people who have information stored about them. It was implemented into UK law by the 1998 Data Protection Act. The problem with the 1995 Data Protection Directive was that each Member State could implement it into their own national law in a slightly different way so each Member State had their own set of rules and since people often have data stored in many countries, as they say, things got complicated…

So now the 2016 EU Legislation

Designed to establish one set of rules across Europe, with a European Data Protection Board to ensure a common interpretation across all the national data protection authorities, it should make it more straightforward for everyone to do business outside their home country. It heralds the arrival of an era of renewed accountability and transparency, which can only be applauded.

It consists of two parts:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – allowing individuals to have more control over their personal data, reducing regulation and enhancing trust so everyone can make the most of the opportunities afforded by the Digital Single Market.

The Criminal Justice Directive – concerned with Europe-wide cooperation with criminal investigations and law enforcement, leading to more effective anti-crime and anti-terrorism.
Political agreement on the test has been reached; it will become law very shortly; enforcement will start in 2018. It’s something for which you must prepare because penalties for breaches will be HUGE – figures flying about are fines of €20 million or 4% of a business’s global gross revenue. Ouch!

What it means for you – in a nutshell

N.B. This is not comprehensive. It covers the aspects that we consider have most bearing on the direct marketing aspect of your business.

The definition of personal data – any information which allows anyone to identify a person, so aside from the obvious name, address andn ID numbers, this now includes such things as cookies and IP addresses if they lead back to a person.

Consent – agreeing to data collection and use doesn’t need to be explicit but it must be unambiguous – a subtle distinction? It must be clear why you require the data. Your privacy notices and policies must be tip-top, accessible and transparent. Consent must be acquired by a “clear affirmative action.” No action, silence and use of pre-ticked boxes will not count as consent. Withdrawing consent should be just as easy as giving it.

Profiling – that’s to say, using the data to determine particular criteria about individuals – like personal preferences or location. This is an important tool in DM. It looks as though consent must have been obtained in the first instance.

Legitimate Interest – use of data for DM is considered to be legitimate (phew!) – that is, unless what you intend to do breaches the fundamentals human rights and freedoms of the subject, particularly in the case of children.

Data Protection Officer – it will be mandatory to appoint one if your organisation is engaged in regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale or processing sensitive personal data. We will have to find out what this means from the guidance which will be issued in the next two years. At one point in the discussions, this ruling was only applicable to companies with more than 250 employees, now it’s any organisation which meets the above criteria. The appointed person must know about data protection law and practices to a level suitable for the role within a particular company. Even if your organisation does not have to appoint one compulsorily, it may decide to appoint one anyway.

Privacy Risk Impact Assessments – data controllers must take robust precautions before embarking on higher-risk data-processing activities to minimise the risk to their data subjects. This might include encryption, establishing resilient systems and regular evaluation to ensure security is fit for purpose.

Notification of breaches – “a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.” If the breach is going to impact on the rights and freedoms of individuals then ‘the appropriate supervisory authority’ must be notified within 72 hours, and the data subjects must be told, ‘without undue delay.’ Data processors and must inform data controllers are both obliged to notify

Liability of data processors – data processors will have direct obligations under the Regulation and will not be able to hide behind data controllers.

Have you lost the will to live now? Our apologies. The trouble is, it IS something we all have to grasp before it’s too late. These are regulations we will be implementing at Mailing Expert – for YOUR protection as well as ours.

Deep breaths, everyone!MEL LogoEX

Are Your Mailing Lists like that First Pancake?

Are your mailing lists like that first pancake you try your best to cook? By this we mean shapeless, full of holes and only fit for chucking in the bin. Mailing Expert is here to help you to achieve perfection with mailing lists – and we’re pretty good at pancakes too!

Mailing lists serve a purpose – just like pancakes…Pancake Fail

Originally, pancakes were created as a way of using up all the leftover food before the season of Lent begins, when it was hoped that everybody would fast, or at least be abstemious. Mailing lists were created not as a means TO fast but TO BE fast! That’s to say, when your company has a marketing campaign, having a mailing list is a super-efficient way of getting your message out to the right people, whether it’s by direct mailing by post or virtually by email.

…but they’ve got to be good

Nothing worse than a crêpe pancake! (See what we did there?) Actually, there IS something worse, and that’s a mailing list which has duplicate addresses, contains out-of-date information, is not targeted at the right demographic profile…you get the picture?

Fascinating statistics

In Britain, we use an astounding 52 million eggs on Pancake Day which is 22 million more than on a usual day. And, if you employ our services here at Mailing Expert, we’ll be able to provide you with equally fascinating information using the responses to your mailing, issuing a fully-formatted data file which shows the results of your campaign. This will highlight trends and patterns, allowing you to hone and refine your approach so you’re even more successful next time around.

Mailing Expert is flippin’ marvellous!

Just like the best of all pancakes that you want to try again and again, we’re brilliant at mailing lists. We can provide high quality integrity-checked prospect data targeted to your exact requirements – and that includes phone lists too, not just mailing addresses – from a staggering 4 million business locations and nearly every UK household.

We can ensure we don’t duplicate anything on your existing lists, we can append telephone numbers so you can make follow-up calls once you’ve mailed out. It’s as crucial to have a clean database as it is to have a clean frying pan when you’re making pancakes!

Top Testimonials

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Lemon & Sugar Pancake. Yum!

Britain’s favourite pancake, a YouGov survey shows, has the traditional lemon and sugar topping.
When it comes to mailing lists, Talkmarketing, the telemarketing, telesales and cold-calling company, based in St. Leonards-on-Sea, favours Mailing Expert:

“The key to a successful telemarketing campaign is in the data. Katie and I work extremely well together because I get all this information from my client and then Katie inputs all that information into her data system and voila we then have targeted data.

Mailing Expert are thorough, they cleanse their data regularly and work with associate companies who have high and expert cleansing processes.

Data purchased is always run through the TPS ‘Telephone Preference Service’ so all the legalities are in place.”

Mailing Expert – as popular as lemon and sugar-topped pancakes!

 

MEL LogoEX

Networking at Christmas – Effective?

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.

christmas_wallpaper_presents

Telemarketing as Part of an Integrated Marketing 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

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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We are Mailmark enabled! Good News for your Company!

Royal Mail Mailmark™ means intelligent mail!

Nothing to do with needing a dictionary to read all the long words in your communications — to do with an innovative way of tracking your post at every stage of its journey. This is very much more advanced than ‘Signed For’ mail.

We’ll put a smart barcode on the mailing we’re sending out on your behalf. Royal Mail scans it at various stages and automatically sends us detailed data so we know where it is and when it will be delivered.

What’s in it for you?

Knowing exactly when your mail will land on your client’s doormat allows you to follow up with a call or more information at the very best moment; therefore helping you with staffing costs too.

We’ll be able to make sure that your mailing has reached its target – and identify glitches accurately, like wrong addresses, which will make for more effective campaigns in the future.

We can even add extra data to the barcode if you require, like returns information, reference or campaign codes for your customers to scan at an event or in-store.

Mailmark™ is for bright sparks — and that’s you!

If you would like more details please contact us at Mailing Expert on 01825 983 033 or email us at info@mailingexpert.co.uk.

Mailmark

 

Mailing Expert – Our Checking Service

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!