Win at Social: Wrap Yourself Around An Issue and become a Social Media Marketing Thought Leader


Wrap yourself around an issue and become a social media marketing guru.

You don’t have to be a great writer to get social media attention. Just “own” another issue and you can make some hay for yourself. Its simple to do:

Step 1: Find an issue or topic you believe in, or are well versed in, and have an opinion you would like to share about the topic.

Step 2: Seek out articles about that topic.  Find them on Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, etc.  Twitter is the perfect channel for this!

Step 3: Share the article, with your comments.  Simple right?

More: There are two ways to share on your topic, “for” or “against”.  Sometimes disagreeing with the article can get you even more notoriety.  I don’t shy away from being controversial.  For example, when the U.S. Post Office starts in with their annual postage rates increases, my rants railing against the stupidity of the USPS get lots of attention.  As a marketing consultant who goes against the grain and uses direct mail often for clients (Note: Direct mail is NOT dead!  Its still as viable as ever if practiced correctly), being known as champion of direct mail marketers against the post office, shows people a lot about how I could help them if hired for a direct mail campaign.

Give it a try and let me know how you did.  Post a comment below.

Want a free marketing evaluation?  Gilbert Direct Marketing’s chief expertise is finding you new marketing revenue streams you can take to the bank.  Don’t leave revenue unrealized.  Let GDM help you take that revenue off the table!

USPS “No 2010 Rate Increase”: The Loophole and a Call to Action


Just when I thought it was safe to believe in the U.S. Postal Service, I find out this lovely tidbit of information: Despite Postmaster General John Potter’s grand statement (or was it a grandstanding statement) that there’d be no postal rate increase in 2010, there’s a giant loophole.

No matter what Potter said in his memo, the USPS can still increase postal rates. Just to be sure, I asked Don Landis, vice president of postal affairs at Arandell Corp., a noted catalog printer/mailer. According to Landis, “It’s possible some mailers could see an increase in their postage come May 2010. The USPS could make regulation changes that would force mail into a more expensive category. We’ll know in January or February.”

How You Can Make a Difference
While I applauded Potter and the USPS for taking a stand for the direct marketing industry in this column two weeks ago, I hope I didn’t speak too soon. I still remain cautiously optimistic, but I also must do my part to help sway the decision. We must hold the postmaster general and the Postal Regulatory Commission to his/its commitment.

Thus, I urge you to write a letter to the postmaster general using the contact information provided below. Here’s the letter I wrote. Feel free to copy, paste and use it, or create your own. The key is to make your voice heard!

Dear Mr. Postmaster General,

You’ve started a trend here. Between the postal summer sale and now this offer to keep postal rates stable in 2010, catalog and direct mailers believe that you may actually be interested in working to our benefit. We look forward to the next postal sale, and hope that the USPS opens it up to smaller mailers to take advantage of. We truly hope that you’ll continue to stop thinking like a bureaucracy and encourage more mail volume with innovative special offers and such.

But direct marketers are also wary because the USPS holds a great deal of power and leverage over us. The last substantial postal rate increase nearly put us under with rate increases of 20 percent-plus. What was the USPS thinking? That move single-handedly drove more and more mailers into the online world. Doing the math, we believe the increase actually caused your revenues to go down due to less mail in the mailstream.

Remember this, Mr. Postmaster General: Every penny more it costs us to mail means we need to generate about 2 cents more per catalog mailed just to break even. In this economy, we need every opportunity we can get to mail our catalogs profitably. We’re struggling to stay alive and keep our workers employed and our customers satisfied.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Postmaster. Please continue this trend.

Sincerely,

The Direct Mail Industry

Reach the postmaster general at the following:

The Honorable John E. Potter
Postmaster General
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, D.C. 20260-0010
Email: pmgceo@usps.gov

Originally published in All About ROI Magazine

Dear Mr. Postmaster General, you’ve started a trend… but…


A week ago the USPS Postmaster General sent out a memo stating there would be no postal increase for direct mailers in 2010.  This coupled with the recent postal sale are a start that I applaud.  It seem that the USPS for the first time may be interested in helping business mailers do business.

But we as direct marketers must keep the pressure on the USPS.  We must make our voice heard and hold their feet to the fire to keep the direct and catalog marketing business moving.  Therefore I wrote the letter below to the USPS.  I urge you to send in your own letter, or use/modify my letter to suit your needs.  The Postmaster General’s Contact information is below…

Dear Mr. Postmaster General,
You’ve started a trend here. Between the postal summer sale and now this offer to keep postal rates stable in 2010, catalog and direct mailers believe that you may actually be interested in working to our benefit. We look forward to the next postal sale, and hope that the USPS opens it up to smaller mailers to take advantage of. We truly hope that you’ll continue to stop thinking like a bureaucracy and encourage more mail volume with innovative special offers and such.

But we’re also wary. Direct marketers are wary because the USPS holds a great deal of power and leverage over us. The last substantial postal rate increase nearly put us under with rate increases of 20 percent-plus. What was the USPS thinking? That move single-handedly drove more and more mailers into the online world. If we were to do the math, we believe the increase in postage actually caused your revenues to go down due to less mail in the mailstream.

Remember this Mr. Postmaster General: Every penny more it costs us to mail means we need to generate about two cents more per catalog and direct mail piece mailed just to breakeven. In this economy, we need every opportunity we can get to mail profitably. We’re struggling to stay alive and keep our workers employed and our customers satisfied.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Postmaster. Please continue this trend.

Sincerely, 
The Direct Mail Industry

As to you, my loyal readers, I encourage you to send your letters to the Postmaster General (or just copy mine and send it). Make your voice heard! Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Reach the Postmaster General at the following:

The Honorable John E. Potter
Postmaster General

U.S. Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW

Washington, DC 20260-0010

Email: pmgceo@usps.gov

Dying to Get Your Offer (aka: dead men still get mail)


Despite the economy, I still get a lot of mail these days.*  And so does my father.  The problem is, my father passed away six months ago.  His mail now comes to my house, where he gets many great special offers, and a ton of fundraising mailers.

A few months ago, he even got a fundraising offer from the hospital where he passed. That’s the definition of irony, right? And while I miss my Dad terribly, as an accountant he was a frugal, count-your-pennies kind of person who would approved of this article.

Another kind of “do not mail” database:

Don’t mailers know they’re wasting money? Direct mail costs enough these days. So much so that it doesn’t make sense to mail someone who can be easily suppressed from a mailing list.

Introducing the Deceased Suppression File :
Are you aware that there’s something called a deceased file to suppress against? Most mailing houses and service bureaus can easily run your mailing list up against this file before you mail.

I was curious about how many direct and multichannel marketers actually add this to their merge/purge processes before mailings, so I asked Gary Sierzchulski, senior account executive at the service bureau Donnelley Marketing for his take:

Our deceased file is compiled through information received from the Social Security Administration and is updated monthly. We see virtually all our clients use it on their housefiles once a year; some more often depending on their customers’ demographics. About half our clients use it within the merge itself against rental records.

“Because the deceased suppression is done at an individual level, we see that about a third of our clients still mail to households flagged as deceased, because other members of the household still purchase or the household is still active.

When I asked Gary about the accuracy of the file, he stated that it’s about 90 percent accurate and added the following: “Every once in the while we get a call from someone who says they’re not dead. It’s due to the misinformation sent to us from the S.S. Administration. That’s why we now use another independent source to verify or provide us with additional names.”

Donnelley Marketing also uses a proprietary source for additional hits or verification of the data, and we’ve noticed incremental gains in counts.

What struck me here is that only half of Donnelley’s clients use it within the merge/purge process. Of course this depends on mailing frequency, but if you’re doing merges more than a month apart (depending on updating schedule), the additional cost of adding this suppression to the merge will be outweighed by the savings in printing and postage spent on people who have passed on. Make sense?

* The reason I added the asterisk above is simple: Now is a great time to mail. There’s less clutter in the mailbox, and less clutter means less competition for your offer. Over the next few weeks, I’ll delve into the economy and how it relates to some self-fulfilling prophecies surrounding the direct mail business.

Please note: your comments, criticisms, kudo’s always appreciated.  And if you disagree, please call me out, start a duel if you want.  Go ahead.  Comment away…

We’re on a mission to create the best direct marketing education forum on Linkedin


3 weeks, 540 members strong. Join us: http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2080726/ We have members from all area’s of direct marketing ready to share their expertise with you.  We also have international members.

Want to know more about search, blogs, direct mail, telemarketing, lists, social media, and all direct marketing disciplines, then join us.

If you are an expert in direct marketing, please join us too.  And our members are using this group as a great networking tool!

Thanks, we look forward to seeing you there. http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2080726/

Jim Gilbert

Guest Blogger, Kevin Hillstrom: Build and Reap the Benefits of Social Media Databases


Jim’s note: Kevin Hillstrom and I write weekly columns for All About ROI (formerly Catalog Success) Magazine.  I really enjoyed his article (and perspective) this week about building social media databases.  Definitely something to implement!  Enjoy…

It’s really hard these days to find a marketing discussion that doesn’t include the phrase “social media.” But it’s also really hard to find a case study of someone who created a social media database and then measured return on investment based on the data in that database.

A social media database houses information about social media customer behavior. Take Twitter, for example: Every time a new user decides to follow your Twitter presence, you enter that user in your database. You enter the user name, date the user began to follow you and any biographical information about the user.

Every time a Twitter user has something to say about your brand — positive or negative — you enter the information into your social media database. Did the user retweet one of your articles? If so, capture the user name, date it happened and action (retweet). Did the user link to one of your web pages? Capture that information with the link.

Some people will criticize your brand. Record the user name, and categorize the nature of the criticism. Did the user say something positive? Record the user name, and categorize the compliment, recording the date this activity happened.

Record every outbound communication, too. If you speak with a Twitter user, record the fact that you had a conversation.

Eventually, you’ll have a robust database of every interaction you can identify. Actively search for instances where someone says something about your brand name, identifying hashtags that are related to your brand.

Now you’re in business! Mine your social media database, identifying users who start conversations. Where possible, link these users to your customer database so you can begin to correlate purchase activity and website visitation habits with positive or negative social media sentiments.

Some people would say that this is hard work, that they don’t have the resources to do this kind of work. I’d pick five individuals in my call center and have them enter this information into the social media database — each individual spends an hour or two each week entering data based on the parameters listed above.

Once the data is captured, it becomes much easier to measure ROI. For some, ROI is a function of sales and profit generated. For others, the acquisition of new customers becomes important. Or maybe success is measured by the amount of positive buzz or the mitigation of negative sentiment. A social media database allows you to measure all of these aspects of your social media activities.

Eventually, you’re going to have to prove that social media has a positive ROI, that it isn’t simply a way to connect with active and potential customers. Why not begin capturing the data today, so you can demonstrate a positive ROI in the future?

About Kevin Hillstrom:

Kevin Hillstrom is president of MineThatData, a database marketing consultancy. He can be reached atkevinh@minethatdata.com.

You lost me there part 3 (losing customers in the call center)


In part 3 of this series (Jim’s note: originally written for All About ROI Magazine, formerly Catalog Success), I’ll continue to recap a presentation I gave a few weeks ago to the Florida Direct Marketing Association titled “The Second Half: 50 Tips, Tricks and Tactics to Make You a Direct Marketing Superstar.”

In particular, this week I examine the value of the call center.

I’ve engaged in debates before with multichannel marketers who don’t believe they need a call center. I spoke briefly about this in part one of this series, but I believe it warrants mention again.

If you believe — and many of the purest of pure-play Internet marketers do — that you don’t need a call center, think again. I’ve seen this debate lost over and over again. People still want, and sometimes need, a human voice to help with their orders, especially if you offer products that are complicated and/or higher in cost.

It’s not that difficult to add a call center these days. And as I’ve said before, there are even call-center companies that allow you to buy blocks of time. Other call-center companies charge a flat fee per call or per sale.

Want to see your average order values, conversion rates and lifetime values go up? Bring a call center into the mix. Think about it this way: If your Web site converts 4 percent of visitors, even the worst of call centers will convert at least 10 percent of callers. That’s a 2.5:1 ratio, on the low end.

If you want to create your own internal call center because you think you can do it better, you may be right, but you might want to enlist the help of a good call-center/operations consultant to get set up correctly. The good news: These days there are many software as a service products that can get you set up quickly and efficiently.

So back to what I said in week one of this series — make it easy for people to contact you. Promote your phone number and you’ll see excellent results.

Next week I’ll discuss more ways multichannel companies can capture customers with some tips and techniques designed for your call center.

Have a comment? Want to add something? Disagree with me and want to start a duel? Post it below. Speak to you next week.

Grand opening of new Linkedin Group – Direct Marketing Questions & Answers


Linkedin members can join by clicking here: http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2080726/.

This is the place to get all of your direct marketing questions answered.

And if you are a direct marketing expert, this is the place to help gain notoriety by helping direct marketers succeed.

Check it out and join!  And Happy July 4th weekend from Jim.

Update 7/7/09, since Friday including the holiday weekend, we have gotten 123 members, both experts and in various stages of their careers.

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

A client vendor negotiations video that’s LOL funny (see if you’re guilty of any of these)


This is a good one.  A hysterical video on client vendor relationships and payments.  I don’t know about you but I may be guilty of some of these tactics.  Thanks to the videographers for calling us out.  

Got a favorite client/vendor horror story? Post it in the comments section.

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