Guest column: The Changing Face of Integration for Ad Agencies!


Note from Jim: Occasionally when I find someone with an original voice out there in the blogosphere, I allow guest columns on my blog.  Clive Maclean has one of those voices and puts direct marketing via the agency side into perspective for us.  Enjoy.

Over the past decade, in pursuit of that elusive “Integrated Agency Capability,” most agency acquisitions have been characterized by larger traditional agencies buying hot specialty shops, in those categories that they perceived a need. Recently, the tables appear to be turning as an established digital agency plans to acquire a hot advertising shop.

On June, 17 Reuters reported, “Sapient to buy ad agency, eyes traditional dollars.” They went on to say that Sapient (a technology, consulting & interactive company) was buying the Nitro Group for about $50 million, in a bid to spread its reach into the traditional advertising space.

According to Gaston Legorburu, Sapient’s Worldwide Creative Officer, this is the first time a large digital shop has gone the other way and acquired an above-the-line agency. The reason given being access to relationships with big brands and their traditional advertising dollars. This deal is expected in increase Sapient’s ability to become a one stop shop with the ability to deliver campaigns that run across the full media spectrum.

I believe that there may be many more of these transactions to come. Digital media and communications are truly at the forefront of marketing communications today. We have a whole generation of “Digital Natives” who really know no other life than their digital one. Now not unusual to see brands/products being launched through digital media and in certain instances exclusively through digital media.

The balance of power is changing and some of the strongest client/agency strategic relationships now lie within the digital agency. I don’t know about you, but I came up through the direct marketing channel, and one thing that still haunts me to this day, is the statement I used to hear so often from my brand agency counterparts, “Can you bolt on any tactics or executions to this campaign?”  My guess is that I will not be hearing this statement again in the foreseeable future.

What defines integration, how to best achieve it and how to optimize its effectiveness, continue to be moving targets. As technology develops, new media channels emerge and consumers evolve their media usage, client expectations from an agency for integrated marketing support changes.

Based on what I see, I am certain that digital, direct and database will continue to be the critical skills required within any integrated agency offering. Data and research playing a major role in assisting those agencies to find the key actionable insights required to deliver great, effective work.

In a recent meeting with Stan Rapp, he said that the old mass media era is being replaced by a new internet-dependent mass marketing era. In order to adapt and improve their bottom line, marketers need a new strategy that harnesses the power of the internet, direct marketing skills and data driven ROI. He calls it “iDirect”. If Stan is in fact right, and by the way he has demonstrated over the years that he often is then marketers will need a new type of integrated agency centered on those three disciplines.

Who knows, Sapient may be the agency to lead it?

About the guest author, Clive Maclean:

Clive is currently principle and founder of Clive Maclean Consulting. During his career he has founded no less than three separate agencies, all of which were subsequently sold to Grey, Leo Burnett and most recently FCB. One of them being the first specialist Interactive agency in Southern Africa, back in 1992.

He can be reached at: Clive@clivemaclean.com.  Blog: http://www.clivemaclean.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/clivemaclean
Linkedin: http://wwwlinkedin.com./in/clivemaclean49

You lost me there (part one, website issues that lose you business)


Last week, I gave a presentation to the Florida Direct Marketing Association titled “50 direct marketing tips, tricks and tactics to make you a superstar.” I’m going to share those tips with you over the course of the next few weeks.

Part of that presentation dealt with improving Web marketing. Right up front, I’m asking you to contribute to this article by posting your comments below. If I miss something, please add it, OK, lets make this a collaborative effort.

As a side note, I’ve spent a lot of time lately looking at multichannel and other marketers’ Web sites, and have seen tremendous opportunities for companies to capture not just orders, but prospects as well.

Many e-commerce Web sites are good at taking orders, but not so good at capturing prospects.

Thus the goal of this series, which I’m calling “You Lost Me There,” is to help you get more of the people who visit your Web site to raise their hands and request to continue the dialogue with you. You want these people in your database, as they’ve expressed some level of interest in your products.

That said, here are three tips to optimize online sales:

  1. Why is your phone number not prominently displayed on your homepage and ALL pages of your site? Make it big. Make it stand out. And put it on pages in multiple places! Your prospects and customers don’t want to have to WORK to find you.
  2. If you say you don’t want the phone number to be easy to find because you don’t have the phone staff to handle the calls, think again. Even pure-play Internet companies need to coddle their prospects and customers in this day and age; otherwise they’ll shop elsewhere. Contract with a call center, even if it’s just to take messages and pass them on. There are call centers that even allow you to pay as you go by buying blocks of time. Essentially, adding a call center doesn’t have to be as costly as you think.
  3. For crying out loud, respond to customer e-mails. Same customer service issue, different methodology. If you want to drive people to interact with you via e-mail, make your e-mail contact info stand out. And respond in a reasonable amount of time. In the second week of my direct marketing class at Miami International University, I have my students conduct an experiment: Send an e-mail to a company and see how long it takes for it to respond. Guess what — fully one quarter of the e-mails don’t get responded to. Here’s a rule of thumb for you: Return every e-mail in less than four hours. Not only the same day — four hours.

Every call and e-mail is an opportunity. Start a dialogue, and get customers ordering.

Bottom line: Consumers don’t have the time to spend on your site figuring out how to contact you with their simple questions. They don’t want to search your FAQs or dig around for contact info. They want answers immediately; otherwise, they don’t care how good your products are, because they won’t order. Don’t lose business over this.

Check back next week for part two of this series, when I’ll give you some more tips on how to increase ROI with your Web site. In the meantime, post your comments below.

Quick note to my readers


I’m taking a much needed vacation this week.  I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule next week.  Mean time, there’s lots here to read.  Enjoy, and thanks for taking the time to visit (or re-visit).

Oh, two more things.  Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter (use the button top left), or sign up to have my articles sent to you via RSS (top left side of page above newsletter sign up button)

Jim

Catalog and Direct Mail’s Slippery Slope: The Environment, Some Facts and Mail Suppression Files


I’ve been getting a lot of comments to my last article on the evolution of our industry. There’s been some back and forth about going green and its impact on direct mail — the typical “direct mail kills the environment” issue.

Does direct mail really destroy the environment? I don’t think so. The Direct Marketing Association, on its DMAchoice Web site, has published the following information about direct mail being the “green” way to shop:

“Facts About Direct Mail:
Some people come to the DMAchoice mail preference service planning on completely stopping all the direct mail they receive, because they think that doing so will help save paper and the environment. But before you do this, here are some numbers you may find interesting.

  • Direct mail is a green way to shop. If Americans replaced two trips to the mall each year with shopping by catalog, we’d reduce our number of miles driven by 3.3 billion, a 3 billion-lb. reduction in carbon dioxide and a savings of $650 million on gas alone.
  • Mail represents only 2.4 percent of America’s municipal waste stream.
  • The production of household advertising mail consumes only 0.19 percent of the energy used in the U.S.
  • Mail is made from a renewable resource. The vast majority of paper produced in America today comes from trees grown for that specific purpose. The forest industry ensures that the number of trees each year is increasing, so trees are not a depleting resource. In fact, forest land in the United States has increased by 5.3 million acres in the past three decades.
  • Direct mail is critical to the economic well being of communities, businesses and charities throughout the U.S. Last year it represented more than $686 billion in sales, supporting jobs at more than 300,000 small businesses across the country.”

Makes sense, right?

That said, I do support the availability of mail preference services, such as DMAchoice and Catalog Choice. The goal of all direct mail, of course, is to be as relevant as possible. After all, every catalog or direct mail piece sent that goes in the garbage is a waste of your money; it lowers your response rates.

So, having a database to merge against is a good thing. Less wasted mail, right?

Not necessarily. Maybe this holds true for straight customer acquisition programs, but what about inquiry conversion and retention programs in your regular catalog circulation plan? Here we have a slippery slope, as I’d never, ever use a suppression file on my own customers and databased prospects. As far as I’m concerned, they all opted in.

As a mailer, I’m not going to leave that potential revenue on the table. End of discussion.

Let’s get vocal here. I’m deliberately putting an “oil and water don’t mix” issue out there. Feel free to agree, disagree or challenge me to a duel over my opinions (they ARE facts actually, LOL). Post your comments below.

Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog, direct marketing and social media agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. You can e-mail him atjimdirect@aol.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect or read his blog athttp://gilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com/.

Attention South FL Direct marketers – Are you on track to meet or beat your forecasts?


Jim Gilbert and the FDMA are pleased to announce another great learning opportunity for you on June 18th.

The Second Half: Meet or beat your 2009 estimates and look like a superstar!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

While it feels like 2009 has only started, we’re actually halfway through the year. At this point the FDMA asks you:

• Are you on track to meet or beat your forecasts?
• What can you do to drive in more sales?
• What programs both online and offline can you test, and test quickly to increase sales?
• Are you drowning in a sea of online numbers and are not sure which are the most meaningful to track?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, this is the one FDMA session you do not want to miss. We have two great presentations lined up for you.

Register now at www.fdma.org

PRESENTATION 1 – Leave NO Stone unturned – 50 tips, tricks and ideas you can take to the bank. (12:30 – 1:30pm)

Presented by Jim Gilbert, Author, Direct Marketing Professor and Consultant.

In this presentation, Jim Gilbert will leverage his 20+ years experience in teaching direct marketing companies how to increase sales – by providing you with marketing program ideas that are simple and quick to execute.

Jim’s presentation will address consumer and B2B, online and offline, lead gen and direct sales strategies and tactics – in short – marketing programs you may have missed. He will engage you in “operation turned stone”, an opening for you to look for breakthrough opportunities in your company to “find” missing revenue.

You are guaranteed to takeaway between 5 and 10 action items to beat your forecasts with.

PRESENTATION 2 – Interactive Metrics – What You Really Need to Know (1:30 – 2:15pm)

Presented by Maria Harrison President/Owner of iClarity.

In this informative presentation, Maria Harrison will take you through the good, the bad and the ugly of interactive metrics. Interactive marketing is a double-edged sword when it comes to metrics.

Just because everything can be counted, doesn’t mean it’s important in making business decisions that will help you have a positive impact on your interactive marketing initiatives.

Ms. Harrison will show you how simplistic interactive metrics can really be, how to set benchmarks, and develop meaningful executive dashboards that will help you make the right decisions to improve your interactive marketing efforts. She will define some basic interactive metric terms and teach you how to immediately apply those metrics to your business.

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 pm Registration Check-in and Networking
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm Annoucements, Lunch, Netowrkign at Table
12:30 pm Presentation by Jim Gilbert
1:30 pm Presentation by Maria Harrison
2:15 pm Program ends.

Register early to avoid additional $10 walk-up fee. Register now at www.fdma.org

Interested in attending our Board meeting at 10:00am and learning more about getting further involved with the FDMA, please let us know at 786-357-3275.

WHEN
Thursday, June 18, 2009 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

WHERE
Westin Hotel Fort Lauderdale
400 Corporate Drive
(I-95 and Cypress Creek exit)
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334

I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!


OK, that’s it. I’m done!  I’m mad enough again to take a stand! (you can too, see how below)

I’ve officially had enough, and I’m done sitting around letting it happen. This morning I paid $2.79/gallon for regular unleaded gas.  That’s $1.10 more that I was paying for gas in December 08.  It’s happening again.  Why?  Is there some shortage on oil?

Or is it just summer driving season, and the powers that be are out to make the most profits they can?  According to sources, there is no actual reason, other than investment run ups that is driving up prices.  If that’s true, we have a problem.

Today, I’m forgetting my column on marketing and imploring you to take a stand. If you don’t want to take a stand — if you haven’t had enough of being gouged at the pump — please stop reading right here. Come back next week, and we can discuss marketing.  Right now I am deeply concerned that oil prices are going to drive the economy back to ground zero again.

I can assure you that if we don’t take a stand on this issue, very soon there may not be a direct marketing industry. Frankly folks, we live in an oil-based economy, and there’s little we can do about it. Right?

Wrong.

There’s a reason ExxonMobil is the most profitable company on the planet. And no, I’m not singling out that one company. And I’m not for government controlling commerce, or profits, or even getting involved and regulating business. But really, enough is enough. Hey ExxonMobil, why don’t you create some good will and PR for yourselves and give some profits back during what’s seen as a time of crisis?

So here’s my stand. I’m calling on you and myself to act now, before someone on TV starts priming us for $6 gas prices for next summer’s driving season. Here’s a list of things you can do to help take a stand.

1. Make your voice heard, and contact your government officials. Here’s a link so you don’t even have to look for it: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml . I don’t care about your party affiliation or if you even have one. If you’re for alternative energy, say so! If you’re for more oil exploration within our country, say so! If you think the government is conspiring with big oil, speak your mind.

2. Drive less!

3. Car pool if you can. OK, I hate this idea. I love the solitude of my drive to and from work. But the less gas we use, the larger the message we send to the oil industry.

4. Tell everybody you know to take a stand. It’s your right to make our country better!

Maybe you won’t want to read my column anymore. Maybe you don’t think this commentary belongs in a catalog marketing forum. To you I say, sorry and too bad. You think your costs are high now? Very shortly you’re going to see an explosion in all of your expenses, thanks to the fact that everything you do requires fuel and transportation.

I’m doing my part by writing this article and practicing numbers one through four above. I’m part of the solution. I’m not sitting back and just taking whatever is dished out and accepting it!

How about you?  Post your comments below…

Some more details: http://money.aol.com/article/oil-prices-soar-above-71-hit-2009-high/520341

When Disaster Strikes: Jim’s 5th Annual Preparedness Guide to Surviving a Disaster


It’s June here in South Florida — ah yes, that wonderful time of year for electrical storms, hurricanes, 100-degree temperatures and 90 percent-plus humidity.   And it’s time for me to publish my annual guide for surviving a business disaster.

Much like a four-letter word, disasters happen in all forms just about anywhere — without warning, at any time. So prepare your company and yourself. Here’s a disaster-readiness checklist I suggest you look over carefully. If you think you’re on top of this, I recommend you compare your list to this one to ensure you have all bases covered.

1. Have a business survival disaster plan in place. Get your department heads involved as stakeholders. Let your employees know what happens if …

2. Publish a list of all emergency contact numbers for your key personnel and vendors. Include home and cell phone numbers, and home e-mail addresses as alternative ways of contact if main communication channels go down. And don’t forget IM and SKYPE addresses, as well as text messages, as alternative means to communicate during a disaster.

3. Designate someone in your company as chief disaster planning officer.

4. Back up your computers and computer systems regularly. Then back up your backups, and keep them off-site. Personally, I have two backup drives and all my files backed up on DVDs. Remember, there are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data, and those who will lose it. I fall into the first category: Two weeks ago one of my backup drives failed with more than 750 gigabytes of data on it. Luckily, while I lost three-quarters of a terabyte of data, I had almost all of it backed up to DVDs. I’m one of the fortunate ones. I lost a little, not a lot.

5. Work with your call center to make sure it can operate if disaster strikes. If you use an external call center, inquire about its disaster plan.

6. If your call center is on-site, consider hiring a backup call-center staff to field calls in case of emergency (this one saved my client’s bacon a few years ago).

7. If you host your own Web site, have a plan in place if the lights go out. Find out what your ISP does if it loses its electricity.

8. If your business is in a disaster-prone area, buy a generator.

9. If your business isn’t in a disaster-prone area, contact any vendors that are. Disasters, either natural or man-made, can interrupt your workflow with printers, the post office and all other vendors.

10. Don’t mail into disaster-impacted areas, because they won’t respond.

11. If you’ve already mailed and a disaster occurs, adjust your projections downward.

Bottom line for all this, remember my motto (or is it the Boy Scout motto?) ALWAYS BE PREPARED!

DO YOU HAVE A DISASTER PLAN?  FEEL FREE TO ADD TO THIS LIST BY POSTING A COMMENT BELOW…

Florida Direct Marketing Association & Jim Gilbert: The Second Half… Meet or beat your 2009 estimates & look like a superstar!


Jim Gilbert and the FDMA are please to announce another great learning opportunity for you on June 18th.

The Second Half: Meet or beat your 2009 estimates and look like a superstar!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

While it feels like 2009 has only started, we’re actually halfway through the year. At this point the FDMA asks you:

• Are you on track to meet or beat your forecasts? 
• What can you do to drive in more sales? 
• What programs both online and offline can you test, and test quickly to increase sales? 
• Are you drowning in a sea of online numbers and are not sure which are the most meaningful to track?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, this is the one FDMA session you do not want to miss. We have two great presentations lined up for you.

Register now at www.fdma.org

PRESENTATION 1 – Leave NO Stone unturned – 50 tips, tricks and ideas you can take to the bank. (12:30 – 1:30pm)

Presented by Jim Gilbert, Author, Direct Marketing Professor and Consultant.

In this presentation, Jim Gilbert will leverage his 20+ years experience in teaching direct marketing companies how to increase sales – by providing you with marketing program ideas that are simple and quick to execute.

Jim’s presentation will address consumer and B2B, online and offline, lead gen and direct sales strategies and tactics – in short – marketing programs you may have missed. He will engage you in “operation turned stone”, an opening for you to look for breakthrough opportunities in your company to “find” missing revenue. 

You are guaranteed to takeaway between 5 and 10 action items to beat your forecasts with.

PRESENTATION 2 – Interactive Metrics – What You Really Need to Know (1:30 – 2:15pm)

Presented by Maria Harrison President/Owner of iClarity.

In this informative presentation, Maria Harrison will take you through the good, the bad and the ugly of interactive metrics. Interactive marketing is a double-edged sword when it comes to metrics. 

Just because everything can be counted, doesn’t mean it’s important in making business decisions that will help you have a positive impact on your interactive marketing initiatives. 

Ms. Harrison will show you how simplistic interactive metrics can really be, how to set benchmarks, and develop meaningful executive dashboards that will help you make the right decisions to improve your interactive marketing efforts. She will define some basic interactive metric terms and teach you how to immediately apply those metrics to your business. 

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 pm Registration Check-in and Networking
12:00 pm – 12:30 pm Annoucements, Lunch, Netowrkign at Table
12:30 pm Presentation by Jim Gilbert
1:30 pm Presentation by Maria Harrison
2:15 pm Program ends.

Register early to avoid additional $10 walk-up fee. Register now at www.fdma.org

Interested in attending our Board meeting at 10:00am and learning more about getting further involved with the FDMA, please let us know at 786-357-3275.

WHEN
Thursday, June 18, 2009 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

WHERE
Westin Hotel Fort Lauderdale
400 Corporate Drive
(I-95 and Cypress Creek exit)
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334

Behold, the impact of blogging Moms


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NEW_FRUGALITY_MOMMY_BLOGGERS?SITE=MATAU&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Evolution, Revolution: Attention All Marketers – Change Is Gonna Come (and ROI Will Follow)


Note from Jim: Originally written for All About ROI, the newly branded and revamped Catalog Success Magazine.

As we near the end of the first decade of the new century (time flies right?), the direct marketing business is caught in a war that’s being played out on many fronts.

Let me put this in perspective for you: If you study history, you’ll see that at the turn of every new century comes great change. However, great change is often preceded by great turmoil. Whether it was the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century or the buildup to World War I and the Great Depression in the early 20th century, change, as they say, is gonna come.

The goal of my newly branded column — in this newly branded publication — is to help you drive as much high-quality return on investment (ROI) as possible. I’ll examine ways to do this in the ROI channels and mantra (retail/catalog, online integration) from our magazine’s tagline. I’ll also talk change on a continual basis so you can adapt and thrive.

The point is, we face several threats, many of which are actually opportunities in disguise. And the opportunities are considerable:

Social Media: You must adopt social media as a tool for engaging your customers and prospects alike, both from a marketing and customer service perspective. New customers are just, if not more, as likely to seek out information from peer groups as they are from product research. This column will discuss strategies for blogging, message boards, video, Web site product reviews, Twitter, Facebook, and more going forward.

Direct Mail (part 1) — Push Me, Pull You: The chatter I hear every day is that direct mail is dead. Mostly, this is perpetuated by pure-play Internet folks who believe marketing is all about “pull” rather than “push.” I recall in the not too distant past when direct marketers were looked upon by brand marketers as the redheaded stepchildren of the marketing community. Of course, the Internet leveled this playing field, and now all marketers need to be direct marketers to survive. Curiously, the next generation of marketers — weaned on the Internet — see us much the same way.

Funny how things turn. For without the principles of direct marketing, these same Internet marketers would’ve gone the way of the dinosaurs (oops, I meant sock puppets). For a direct marketer to drive consistent ROI, all marketing channels must work together. I’m a big fan of “why can’t we all just get along,” and will go to considerable lengths in this column to create synergy in all channels and with all people.

Direct Mail (part 2) — Let’s Get Personal: Also part of the chatter I hear is that the death of direct mail has to do with the process itself. Technology exists today to use personalization to increase engagement and, in turn, response rates and ROI. But is it being used? Sadly, many companies aren’t adopting technology. I’ll delve further into personalization, segmentation, PURLS (personalized URLs) and landing pages in this column.

Direct Mail (part 3) — Revenge of the Tree Huggers: More and more the direct mail industry is being attacked by environmentalists who believe direct mail destroys trees and the planet. Activists are trying to get “do-not-mail” bills passed on a daily basis. Most of these people have no clue about the actual impact of direct mail on the environment (or lack thereof as the case may be) and are just jumping on the bandwagon because it seems like the right thing to do (or they hate junk mail). Our goal as direct marketers, both offline and online, is to mail to relevant customers and prospects. I’ll address how to mail smarter in this column, and you can bet that I’ll loudly voice my opinion against anyone who says the wrong thing about our industry.

And Then There’s the Economy: People are sitting on the sidelines and not buying. Spending habits, especially around credit purchases, are changing rapidly. I’ll discuss how this affects your business and how to market smarter in troubled economic times. Here’s a hint: People are still buying! Find them, and coddle them. Hint No. 2: Many companies have made fortunes in bad times. You can, too!

And Lastly, Mobile: Are you prepared for the next channel to open and open big? Over the next few years, mobile will need to be harnessed if you plan on surviving.

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