Posts filed under ‘Social Media/Marketing’

Direct Marketing for Luxury Brands

Q:  How can luxury retail brands evolve marketing strategy to more targeted direct marketing instead of broadbased above the line advertising?

A: While it does appear that many luxury retail brands ignore targeted direct marketing, many (shall we call them the ‘smart brands?) don’t.

Think about luxury auto-makers.  They typically have sophisticated direct/database marketing strategies in-place.  They spend a large amount of marketing dollars maintaining a direct relationship with buyers of their vehicles.  They send, for example, elaborate direct mail packages featuring their new cars to their current customers.  Why?  Because especially with automobiles, loyalty is so very important.  They know that owners of luxury autos will usually buy a new car pretty quickly and they’re quite loyal, IF they appreciate the car they own.  So, manufacturer from Lexus to Cadillac to Rolls Royce all employ direct marketing as a way to retain customers and build loyalty.

Other luxury retailers are also heavy users of direct response.  Think of Tiffany’s catalog (and I don’t think you can get more high-end than Tiffany, can you?).  Or, the excellent efforts by Sur La Table, the up-scale cooking supplies retailer that actually evolved from the catalog industry. Nordstroms (arguably the most broad-based high-end department store) has a long history in using direct marketing–from its catalog to its consumer credit card direct mail efforts.

So, I guess my point is–high end retail brands can, and do, use direct marketing as part of their strategic marketing mix.

As a direct marketing advocate, I see the luxury market as ripe for direct response tactics.

  • This group (while, sadly, typically unresponsive…) is easy to target, using both compiled and vertical mailing lists. For example, you can easily select consumers with high net worth or people who own expensive homes from the leading compiled lists (think Acxiom or Experian’s consumer files).  You can also rent lists of people who’ve purchased high-end products or who subscribe to the right magazines, using vertical lists. If you’re a financial marketer, you can even delve into rich people’s credit history to target the exact buyer who can actually affort your service.  Hence, prospecting opportunities are wide open.
  • If you can capture buyers’ name, address and email (and you really should start thinking about tactics to allow this), you have the ability, then, to build your own database and start your own dialogue with your customers.  As a side benefit, you can use data mining, modeling and profiling tactics to really understand your customers.  This knowledge, by the way, can be translated to prospecting efforts, too.

In summary, it’s my firm belief that any business can benefit from incorporating direct marketing tactics into their marketing mix. Whether it’s a social marketing campaign created to boost sales of a high-end, luxury liquor line, or a sophisticated direct mail package designed to retain and up-sell current customers, the opportunities are endless to incorporate measurable direct marketing tactics into your overall marketing mix.

And, at the end of the campaign, won’t it be nice to show your CEO how much profits their marketing dollars have generated?  Now, that’s the real beauty of direct marketing, especially in this tough economy.


July 24, 2008 at 10:30 pm 1 comment

Social Networks for Professionals

Q:  I’m in sales, representing complex solutions to large clients in North America.  I keep thinking that I should take advantage of some of the new social networking sites, but I’m not sure where to start…Can you help?

A:  I love the world we live in today–with the ability to meet people from all over the globe through the Internet and social networks.  I’m a pretty active social networker, mainly because I find it fun and interesting, too.  However, I also believe that there are business advantages in actively participating in the right groups.

Key benefits of social networking for business-people:

  • Lead generation–you may identify new opportunities that you would have previously been unaware of through active participation in the right social networks.
  • Referrals–social networks are a great source of referrals.  And, what better introduction to a key prospect than a recommendation?
  • Prospect Identification–one of the toughest sales challenges can be simply knowing who to call on within a large organization.  The beauty of social networks is that people list their job responsibility and title on their profiles–hence you can pretty easily figure out who within an organization is the person you should be contacting.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you of the value of social networking.  So, where should you spend your time participating?  I think there are three areas to consider.

  1. The biggie:  LinkedIN. It seems as though just about every business-person is part of Linked In.  I would definitely take the time to build a profile, search for your friends and colleagues here and maybe even participate in their Q&A forum.  I, personally, have reconnected with colleagues from years ago who have subsequently introduced me to new prospects.  So, it’s not only fun to catch up with old friends, but you may meet new ones, too.  As a side-note–for those of you looking for a job, you should check out the Job section in LinkedIn, and also make sure that you have a few recommendations on your profile to give you immediate credibility if a prospective employee is interested in you.
  2. Facebook:  It’s not just for kids!  You’ll be amazed at the number of professional groups–groups with thousands of members.  For example, I actively participate in the Facebook group called:  What I Saw at the Direct Marketing Revolution. This is a group of direct marketers from around the globe (but mainly here in the States).  There’s great discussion.  Also, it’s a way of getting word out about your services to a highly targeted group of people.  Spend some time surfing around on Facebook. I’m pretty sure that you’ll find some groups that apply to your specific business.
  3. Specialized/Niche Networks. So many business social networks have sprung up in recent months/years.  Be on the look-out for a specialized group that focuses on exactly what you offer.  If possible, become very active–help lead the group.  Then, as the specialized network grows, you’ll be well-positioned as one of the leaders, hence adding to your reputation and credibility.  Specialized networks can be an excellent source of leads and new business, in my opinion.

I hope that this answer helps you with your decision as to whether you should be active in social networks.  Choose your networks wisely, contribute actively to your chosen communities, and (maybe most importantly) have fun!

July 21, 2008 at 8:54 pm 1 comment

Benefits of Blogging

Q:  I hear a ton about corporate blogging, but I still am unsure of the benefits it brings to the corporation.  Why spend the money and the time on blogging?
A:  Each company may have their own reasons for implementing a blog, but we believe that most should definitely invest the time (can be a lot) and the money (minimal) in business blogging.  Here are five different reasons why a business may consider blogging:

  1. Build company reputation by demonstrating your expertise on the chosen topic.
  2. Boost traffic to your website
  3. Obtain new sales or, more commonly, new leads
  4. Boost search-engine rankings
  5. Allow for the sharing of information with customers, plus a blog facilitates customer feedback

In our experience, points 1 and 5 above are critical.  #1 applies especially to smaller firms that compete with giant companies.  As a small firm, if you take the time to build a community on the Net and demonstrate your knowledge of your industry through frequent blog posts, you will have established a degree of trust with your prospective customers that may equal (or be greater than) the trust inspired by a giant firm.

And, point #5 is key to any huge company, especially one that is a household name.  If you can start a conversation with your customers, you’ll be that much closer to them. You’ll start to get a handle on their likes and dislikes about your products (and your competitors’ products).  Of course, you must be prepared to hear things that you may not want to hear…We urge you, however to be open to all comments, negative and positive, because really listening to the negative can bring about needed change.

A good example of a corporate blog is Nuts about Southwest.  They’re not afraid to address issues and they listen to their customers.  And, that’s what blogging is all about.

Plus, it’s a ton of fun!

March 6, 2008 at 4:56 pm Leave a comment

Using LinkedIn?

Q:  Hi!  I’ve recently joined LinkedIn as I was searching for a job in direct marketing.  Now that I’ve found a job (thanks to a connection that I made there), I was thinking of using it in searching for my own employees.  Have you heard of any direct marketers who have done this with success?

A:  Heck yeah!  We are big believers in the power of social media and it’s use in direct marketing.  And, you are a perfect example — you just landed a job in the discipline, and now have the ability to use it to find your own employees.  This is what it’s all about.

Here are a couple of other examples.  One of our clients used LinkedIn Question to post a job ad for a Direct Marketing Manager to head up the leads process to fuel his newest sales channel.  He not only received a ton of good, qualified individuals, he also received a lot of good insight on other ideas — like outsourcing the work to an agency specifically talented in this area.  He’s still deciding on whether to keep this work in house (taking on the full-time-equivalent employee expense) or outsourcing the work.  My point is that he got more than he bargained for just by putting up a question on LinkedIn.  He got resumes and other business strategies that he may not have considered if he hadn’t used this vehicle.

Another example outside of the job search area is when one of our partners ran into a situation where they had a hunch that a large vendor was not dealing with them 100% honestly and it impacted their ability to close a sale.  Before getting their own legal involved, they posed a question on LinkedIn.  They got back a lot of answers that provided them with good insight from both business people and legal experts on his question.  Now, of course, he would never have proceeded without engaging his own legal, but he was able to know whether he even had anything to bring to his legal without wasting his internal resources time on what could potentially end up being a non-issue.

In summary, LinkedIn can be extremely helpful as a resource to get opinions from a lot of savvy direct marketers, for searching for employees, and for finding a job.  It can also be used to help you build a case for product development, search out good vendors and simply to market your skills and talents to a large, business-focused audience.

February 25, 2008 at 11:22 pm Leave a comment

Direct Marketing to Young Adults

Q: I’m trying to increase my market penetration to young adults . . . college-age. Do you have any good ideas on how to effectively reach them?

A: Yes! Here are a couple of ideas to get you started. For DM campaigns, use a targeted data source. There are companies who specialize in college-student data, and we recommend this as a good first step. There are two companies that compile this data specifically: American Student List (ASL) and Student Marketing Group (SMG). We’ve worked with clients in this space and have personally had some great success in utilizing ASL’s data. They are a very reputable company and very responsive from a sales perspective. This data can help you hone in on the specific age range and areas of interest that may be most relevant to your product/service.

Additionally, consider utilizing social media to reach this group. For example, create a Facebook or MySpace page and build a community around your product. Young adults are the fastest adopters of this marketing medium — and they love to buy things that their friends recommend. By utilizing social marketing, you are essentially getting your target audience to sell for you to their peer group. So, this is another good marketing channel to utilize to reach this group.

January 31, 2008 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

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