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.

A Case Study in Brand Differentiation (in multichannel direct marketing)


Jim’s note: Originally written for Catalog Success Magazine.

As a long-time “big and tall shopper,” I only shop from a handful of companies. Two of these happen to be Rochester Big and Tall and Casual Male XL. While owned by the same company, both have positioned themselves to different segments of the big and tall market. Rochester sells more upscale, pricier, higher-end merchandise, while Casual Male offers more affordable apparel. In my opinion, both have done an excellent job of differentiating themselves brandwise on their Web sites and in their stores with the products they offer.

With so little to choose from as a certified “big guy,” I buy from both and am on both of their e-mail lists. This week I received e-mails from both companies, and to my amazement — and a bit of horror — they were essentially the same message and offer. Both carried the same subject line (We want you back! SAVE 20% NOW on your order), showing up in my inbox on the same day within a few hours of each other. And when you open them, you get the same offer (although Casual Male’s offer allows you to “grab” a coupon).

I assume that other big and tall folks out there got the same offer as well. So doesn’t this work directly against their branding? Am I hypersensitive to this because I’m in the business? Does this matter to the average consumer? Take a look at the e-mails for yourself below, and let me know your thoughts.

Rochester Big & Tall EmailCasual Male XL Email

FDMA Annual Summit a Success!


We had over 90 attendees at the FDMA annual summit.  Here is a sample of what we saw, Jeff Yaniga’s powerpoint presentation on Using Twitter For Business.  Great stuff!  Enjoy and have a great weekend.twitterjeff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is Karen Talavera’s presentation on Beyond Integration: Welcome to Marketing Fusion.  

tavelara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is Peter Leshaw’s Presentation on Understanding social media, social networking and social marketing

 

Peter Leshaw's presentation click here to view

Peter Leshaw's presentation click here to view

9 Ways to Use Twitter as a Marketing Tool


(Note from Jim – article originally written for Catalog Success Magazine)

It seems that Twitter is all the rage these days. The topic seems to polarize people: Some find it a useful and productive marketing tool, while others find it a waste of time and “much ado about nothing.” I fall more into the first group, in that I remain cautiously optimistic. I use Twitter to build my personal brand (www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect) and drive traffic to my blog.  

In this multiple channel, integrated world, I see Twitter as a great tool to help you engage your prospects and customers and take them to the next level. Turn prospects into customers, customers into advocates. Above all else, ask for and receive the much needed feedback a 21st century company needs to thrive.

The following are nine quick tips on how to use Twitter to your benefit:

1. Call out and provide specials to your customers. Make sure these are real-time specials or offers, but try to not be too pushy. Fit the offers and specials into the context of your customer conversation; don’t overpromote. 

2. Let people know when to expect their catalogs.  

3. Drive prospects to catalog request and/or e-mail sign-up pages.

4. Link to and broadcast your blog posts. These are great ways to keep people informed. 

5. Tweet news and information about your company and products. New products, company news, press releases, corporate milestones, testimonials and “meet-the-employee” articles are great examples of things to tweet. Anything you think will get people both familiar and, more importantly, emotionally involved with your brand is worth your while. 

6. Ask questions. Twitter, like any social network, is all about conversation. Have someone who can spend time working with your followers to answer their questions. Engage your followers to provide information about how to make your company even better. If harnessed correctly, Twitter can be an exceptional customer service tool as well. 

7. Encourage key employees to open Twitter accounts as well, creating more than one voice for your company. Have them add their Twitter addresses to their e-mail signatures. 

8. Add Twitter badges to your Web site. This enables customers and prospects to easily join in on the fun.

9. Add Twitter links and badges to all of your outgoing promotions and collateral. Build Twitter into your branding.

Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing 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 athttps://gilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com

Update on the US Post Office Summer Direct Mail Sale


Recently the USPS was onsidering a postal sale to stimulate more mail traffic.  It looks like we in the direct marketing industry are gettting closer to seeing this sale become a reality.  The BOG (USPS Board of Governors) has approved this event and now it needs to go before the PRC (postal rate commission) for final approval.  I applaud the Post Office for beginning to think like businesspeople and marketers and taking the initiative.  

Here is the latest info – http://www.the-dma.org/postal/

Your help is needed to make the summer sale a reality!  See the below letters to use in order to make this sale go into effect.

Letter for participating mailers
The Honorable Dan Blair
Chairman
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20268-0001

Re:   Docket No. R2009-3
        
Dear Chairman Blair,

I am writing to express my personal support and that of (NAME OF COMPANY) for the Postal Service’s proposed Summer Sale Program, Docket R2009-3.   I urge the Postal Regulatory Commission to move expeditiously in endorsing the program as presented by the Postal Service.
 
The impact of the economic downturn on the Service’s current financial situation, which has been well documented at Congressional hearings and in the press, is a reflection of conditions throughout the mailing community.  The Summer Sale proposed by the Postal Service provides a thoughtful and unique opportunity without an infusion of tax dollars to stimulate this important segment of our nation’s economy.  
 
Our company plans to avail itself of this opportunity.  We are currently in the process of determining the amount of additional volume we will be sending through the Postal Service and are in discussions with our suppliers and service providers regarding our plans as we prepare to order supplies and products to increase our mail volume.  We do not have the luxury to wait if we want to take advantage of even part of the summer sale.
 
[NAME OF COMPANY] enthusiastically endorses the Summer Sale Program as proposed and urges the Commission to endorse the Summer Sale as submitted since many mailers have begun ordering supplies and product to take advantage of it.  Please include this letter in the public record for Docket No. R2009-3.

Sincerely,

XX

Letter for vendors
The Honorable Dan Blair
Chairman
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20268-0001

Re:   Docket No. R2009-3
        
Dear Chairman Blair,

I am writing to express my personal support and that of (NAME OF COMPANY) for the Postal Service’s proposed Summer Sale Program, Docket R2009-3.   I urge the Postal Regulatory Commission to move expeditiously in endorsing the program as presented by the Postal Service.
 
The impact of the economic downturn on the Service’s current financial situation, which has been well documented at Congressional hearings and in the press, is a reflection of conditions throughout the mailing community.  The Summer Sale proposed by the Postal Service provides a thoughtful and unique opportunity without an infusion of tax dollars to stimulate this important segment of our nation’s economy.

Although our company is not a mailer, we assist mailers creating mail to be entered in the mail stream and, thus, anticipate a rebound in our business from our mailer partners who can take advantage of the summer sale.  We also believe that the Commission’s expeditious endorsement of the Summer Sale will lay a foundation for similar opportunities next year and beyond in which we expect many more mailers to be in a better position to participate.

[NAME OF COMPANY] enthusiastically endorses the Summer Sale Program as proposed and urges the Commission to endorse the Summer Sale as submitted since many mailers have begun ordering supplies and product to take advantage of it.  Please include this letter in the public record for Docket No. R2009-3.

Sincerely 

XX

Letter for nonparticipating mailers:
The Honorable Dan Blair
Chairman
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20268-0001

Re:   Docket No. R2009-3
        
Dear Chairman Blair,

I am writing to express my personal support and that of (NAME OF COMPANY) for the Postal Service’s proposed Summer Sale Program, Docket R2009-3.   I urge the Postal Regulatory Commission to move expeditiously in endorsing the program as presented by the Postal Service.
 
The impact of the economic downturn on the Service’s current financial situation, which has been well documented at Congressional hearings and in the press, is a reflection of conditions throughout the mailing community.  The Summer Sale proposed by the Postal Service provides a thoughtful and unique opportunity without an infusion of tax dollars to stimulate this important segment of our nation’s economy.  

Although it does not appear at this time that our company can take advantage of the in the 2009 sale, we believe it will lay a foundation for similar opportunities next year and beyond in which we will be better positioned to participate.

[NAME OF COMPANY] enthusiastically endorses the Summer Sale Program as proposed and urges the Commission to endorse the Summer Sale as submitted since many mailers have begun ordering supplies and product to take advantage of it.  Please include this letter in the public record for Docket No. R2009-3.

Sincerely

XX

4 Tips Any CEO or C-Level Exec Can Take to the Bank


(originally published by Catalog Success Magazine)

Being a C-level executive these days has to be the ultimate challenge. These execs face a ton of pressure to keep their companies above water during these turbulent times. Truly, I feel for them.  

But, in many cases, my empathy for them goes only so far. Especially when C-levels exemplify what I call “ivory tower thinking.” This kind of isolation is what President Obama tried to compensate for by keeping his BlackBerry — the ability to stay in touch with people other than his high-level handlers and advisers.  

In other words, there are many people within organizations beyond the CEOs’ top advisers that can offer advice and wisdom. Getting out of the tower is critical to the success or failure of any business right now.

With this in mind, I’d like to offer four pointers for any and every CEO and C-level exec:

  1. Want to know what’s going on in your organization? If you don’t already, run, don’t walk, to your call center and spend time listening to order calls, customer service calls and other inquiries. (I’ll devote a series to this in the near future.) I guarantee you’ll be enlightened and find ways to improve your product(s) and service.
  2. Talk to your call-center staff — especially the front-line reps. These people are the true unsung heroes in your companies, and they intimately know what’s right and wrong with your products and service.
  3. Once your eyes have been opened by listening to your customers and reps, force everybody in the company to spend a day in the call center, too. Write it into law that every manager and above must spend one day in the call center every six months — or quarterly, and force your marketing staff to listen monthly. Make it mandatory for new hires.
  4. Embrace social media. Through my own research, I’ve found that most marketers who’ve traditionally sold via catalog are behind their online-only counterparts on social media adoption. Why? Fear. If you think your call center is a great learning experience, try developing social media tools to monitor your reputation by listening to the social media chatter about your company. What you learn may be the ruthless truth about your company, products and service, and how they’re actually viewed by people who speak the truth.

Beware though, you may have to take specific actions based on what you learn. But then again, that’s the point of getting “out there.” Back in the ’80s I was a huge Tom Peters fan; he called this process, “management by wandering around.”

Marketing and Finance: the Peanut Butter and Jelly of Direct Marketing


Dad-12-2008

Stephen Gilbert, CPA, 12/31/08

Note from Jim: Today’s column is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Gilbert CPA, 1917 – 2009.   My father, friend, mentor, sounding board and business partner.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about the importance of financial acumen as a core competency for direct marketing success.

Many people seem to think direct marketing is about killer creative, or campaign management, or even great customer service. But to me, it always starts with the finances.

If I’m writing a circulation plan, it starts with the break-even analysis, right on down to the list and list segment level. Each segment of my housefile has a P&L and breakeven attached to it, then each drop, each season and each year.  I do this in advance, even three to five years in advance, using historical numbers. And I do it before each mailing or other type of direct marketing campaign to measure the success or failure of every campaign I do.  Remember, past performance predicts future behavior!

I’m also nuts about other financial analyses, such as lifetime value, squinch (square inch for measuring catalog space usage), cash flow, balance sheets, etc.

Now with social media all the rage, and multi channel marketing being the norm for mail order, catalog and electronic retailers, the need for financial measurement and knowledge is greater then ever.

To this day, I’m amazed at how many people I work with, smart people, still want to practice direct marketing by the seat of their pants. To me, marketing just doesn’t make much sense without financial understanding….

Too many direct marketing companies think they’re brands…

Too many direct marketers think they “know” what their customers want and, hence, perform no analysis…

Just pull the trigger and see what happens!

But, there was a time in my career — when I started my first business, a publishing company — that I had no interest in the numbers. My father, a certified public accountant, took care of that, leaving me to market, sell and manage the day-to-day operations. I made many mistakes working that way, which my dad was quick to point out. So I learned, and learned quickly, thanks to him.

Many times, the disconnect between marketing and finance has been immediately evident to me the first time I walked into a company. And many times over the years I’ve brought my dad in to work with clients and client-side companies I’ve worked with. He’d communicate the top line, help organize the finances and financial analyses, and I’d address the bottom up marketing planning. Together we helped some companies turn the corner and grow, and save a few from ruin.

Direct marketing is a numbers based business.  Don’t do the math, and there are a myriad of ways you can find yourself in jeopardy.  Does your company think that way?  It could be critical to you and your company’s success.

What is strange is that as a kid I hated numbers — I was horrible at math — but I learned much from working with my father; a patient teacher.  The principles I learned I apply every day, even passing them on to you.

I wasn’t really planning this week’s column as a tribute, but — and apologies to you for getting maybe a bit too personal — I believe it’s fitting.

We are entering a new age of direct marketing that is much more complicated.  The internet has changed everything.

If you consider the impact of multichannel marketing and social media, coupled with the degree of difficulty and challenge each of these presents in terms of financial measurement, maybe this week’s column is actually right on the money!

Another Year, Another Catalog Conference, Another Dog-and-Pony Show, Another Thank You!


It’s that time of year again, readers. Catalog conference time — or to be more precise, Annual Conference for Catalog and Multichannel Merchants (ACCM) time. This year it’s in New Orleans., and despite that love New Orleans and the music especially, once again I’m not going. 

I had planned to go this year. I even set up some meetings. But then some other meetings took precedence. Truth is, however, I have mixed feelings every year about going.

What I love most about going to the ACCM and other direct marketing events is the camaraderie I feel with industry peers. To me, it’s a chance to reconnect with people I normally don’t get to see throughout the year.

Oddly enough, the people I’ll miss the most are the vendors I’ve worked with over the years. These are the people who’ve allowed me to do my job to the best of my abilities. I truly believe that the job of a direct marketer is just as much externally focused, if not more, as it is internally. 

While I’m internally responsible for my objectives and my team, it’s the vendors I choose that can make or break how the results turn out. These folks have saved me more times than I care to recall. They’ve turned me into a hero by keeping my costs in line, met some ridiculously short deadlines at times, found solutions for me that I thought didn’t exist and even played catalog psychotherapist. 

And they get very little credit for this. This is why I believe in the term “vendor-partners,” and this week, I salute them.

So to all the people in the printing, design, premedia, service bureau, co-op databases, list brokerages, etc., I’d like to use this forum to thank you for your service and your friendship. (You know who you are.)

As you’re standing on your feet all day at the conference, doing the dog-and-pony show, know that when the parties are over and your bones are aching, what you do makes us better at what we do!

On another note, the thing that I dislike about the big conferences in general is the fact that you’re bombarded with information in a super-short period if time. Some people can do “speed learning.” Personally, I can’t. I like my information and my instructions meted out in slower, smaller increments.

So if you’re not at the conference this year (or even if you are), feel free to continue reading my blog. Certainly this Website and Catalog Success magazine are great learning resources for you.

NewPage To Help Catalogers Reach More Consumers (passing it on)


Note from Jim, This was sent to me from a catalog industry contact.  Not sure about the company or the offer, but passing it on anyway as it seems interesting.  Investigate wisely!

MIAMISBURG, Ohio – May 1, 2009 – NewPage Corporation, a leading producer of publication papers in North America, has launched the “Free Paper to Reach More” campaign that aims to help retail catalog companies reach more consumers. The campaign will award five catalog companies with a grand-prize of 100 tons of paper to reach approximately 500,000 new prospects for a typical cataloger.

NewPage developed the “Free Paper to Reach More” campaign in an effort to help catalogers expand their marketing efforts at a time when economic pressures are forcing many companies to reduce their outreach. “In today’s economic climate, catalogers face considerable challenges such as rising production costs, higher postage rates and reduced retail sales,” said Jim Sheibley, general manager for NewPage. “Subsequently, many are trimming prospecting efforts and downsizing current print runs and publications.”

NewPage is committed to fostering sustainability within the catalog industry. One of those commitments is the “Free Paper to Reach More” program that will help catalogers reach additional consumers, ultimately growing their business to be more financially viable long-term. Another commitment is to providing environmentally sound products that cater to the catalog segment. NewPage has the broadest line of chain-of-custody certified and recycled papers that fit catalog specifications while demonstrating the catalog company’s environmental responsibility to their consumers.

NewPage will be showcasing the campaign at the Annual Catalog Convention in New Orleans from May 4-7. Visit their booth (#901) or http://www.FreePaperFromNewPage.com for campaign details.

About NewPage Corporation

Headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio, NewPage Corporation is the largest coated paper manufacturer in North America, based on production capacity, with $4.4 billion in net sales for the year ended December 31, 2008. The company’s product portfolio is the broadest in North America and includes coated freesheet, coated groundwood, supercalendered, newsprint and specialty papers. These papers are used for corporate collateral, commercial printing, magazines, catalogs, books, coupons, inserts, newspapers, packaging applications and direct mail advertising.

NewPage owns paper mills in Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nova Scotia, Canada. These mills have a total annual production capacity of approximately 4.4 million tons of paper, including approximately 3.2 million tons of coated paper, approximately 1.0 million tons of uncoated paper and approximately 200,000 tons of specialty paper.

For more information, please visit our Web site at http://www.NewPageCorp.com.

Florida Direct Marketing Association Breakfast Networker May 6 in Ft Lauderdale…


Breakfast Networker

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

100% Networking. Join us for a FULL breakfast buffet and a chance to make new friends and business partners.

Seating is limited.

Location: Westin Hotel Fort Lauderdale

Time: 9:00 am – 10:15am

Members $22, Non-Members $28

Register early to avoid additional $10 walk-up fee registration.

Register at www.fdma.org