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Is the “www” needed?

Your question: Should you put “www.” in front of your dotcom name, when marketing or is it safe to say when doing a direct marketing campaign that you can just put the .com on the end like: instead.

Our answer: This is only my personal opinion–but, hey–you asked! 

In print, I would definitely include the www, if the URL is not part of the body copy.  In other words, if you include the web address as an element in the creative (think about how a logo is used), I would include the www.

If, however, you’re talking about the url in the body of your copy, it may not be necessary.  Example:  Visit if you’re looking for help analyzing your direct marketing programs.

Hmmm.  Even in this case, I would probably include the www.

The other thing to think about is your audience and your brand recognition.  Younger customers may be more web-savvy and definitely won’t need the www. 

Consider, too, how popular your brand is.  Expedia will never need to use the http://www.  But, then think of the millions they’ve spent on building recognition of

One thing–it’s definitely, always unnecessary to include the www in any broadcast medium (radio/tv/video).

Would love to hear more opinions on this!  Published studies would be great, too.


October 28, 2009 at 12:24 am 1 comment

Marketing to Relatives of Deceased People

Your question:  Is it illegal to send a letter to the family of a deceased individual?  Namely, can I send a direct mail solicitation to the family members of a deceased person?

Our answer:  While I’m certainly no legal expert, I do not believe that it is illegal to send direct mail solicitations to the family of someone deceased.

With that said, and without knowing the details of your offer, it could be taken as predatory–taking advantage of someone when they’re at their lowest. Of course, if you are offering something of true value, I could be way off here.

For more insight, check out this article about reactions to marketing to deceased people (hence the family receives the marketing piece). While a tad old, I believe it’s still relevant.

I probably don’t have to stress enough to you that you should be very careful with your messaging and offer. People do not want to believe that marketers know too much about them. Consumers, in general, believe that ‘big brother’ gets involved in every aspect of their personal life, and they hate to see more evidence of this.

So, for example, I would not reference the fact that you are aware that someone close to your mail recipient recently passed away. Keep your piece generic and do not point out how you targeted your list/audience. Normally, I’m all for personalizing the message, but here the creepy factor comes in and, in my opinion, outweighs any benefits of personalization.

Here’s what I do know about marketing to deceased people. The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) maintains a file of deceased people. Relatives of deceased people may register the deceased individual’s name, address and email address to be used for suppression purposes (take these names off of marketing lists).

All DMA members are required to eliminate these individuals from their prospecting campaigns. The service is also available to non-members of DMA so that all marketers may take advantage of this service to eliminate names. More info on this service can be found here.

Hopefully, this information is helpful. I welcome any comments from people who may know more about the legality of this issue.

April 20, 2009 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment

Mail Delivery Timing

Your question: How long would it take a standard letter to reach Heiskell, TN from Farmington, MO?

Our answer: This answer comes to us from mailing expert Jerry Snyder of Transcontinental Direct, one of the country’s leading direct mail production facilities.

First Class mail should take between 1-3 days.  Standard Class (Bulk) depends on how big and dense the mail is. Dense means that you are saturating any given area, such as mailing to every single home in a given county. For larger, very dense mailings the mailer would have taken the mail to the local Sectional Center Facility (SCF) or Bulk Mail Center (BMC) and it would take 2 days for trucking and then 3-5 days for the post office.  If it was a very small mailing that was entered into the local TN post office it could take 1-2 weeks.

So, although it’s pretty tough to pinpoint an exact time, hopefully these guidelines will help you estimate delivery times.  The US Postal Service is another great resource for these types of questions:

Please let us know if we can answer anything else. Good luck with your mailing!

March 4, 2009 at 3:43 pm 5 comments

Cruise Passenger Demographics

Your question:  From what state and between what age are clients more open to buy any type of cruises?

Our answer:  I found a great source of demographic data from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) website.

 “Cruisers tend to be older (median of 47) than average respondents (44), with higher household incomes ($78,000 vs. $71,000), and higher levels of educational attainment (65% college grad vs. 58%; 24% post-graduate vs. 18%). Both groups are predominantly married (83% cruisers vs. 82% total). Consistent with their older age, cruisers are more likely to be retired (19%) than those in the total representative sample (13%).”

A-1 Discount Cruises   had a slightly different take on the age demographic:

“Approximately 50% of the prospects for cruises come from the 25-39 age group followed by the 40-59 group at about 39% and the 60 plus age group at 11%.  Actual guests taking cruises tell a somewhat different story. The 25-39 age group are taking about 29% of the cruises.  The 40-59 group take about 36% of the cruises while the 60 plus group take approximately 35% of cruises.”

I thought you might also be interested in this article about the changes in cruisers demographics. In a nutshell–cruisers are getting younger.

And, I found a great blog, Cruise Diva, on this topic, too.

Finally, in regards to which states cruisers are more likely to live in, check out this bit of research, again from CLIA:

This pdf provides quite a few tables that show where cruisers live, including a state by state break-out.

Hopefully, this information paints the complete picture of cruisers.  I welcome additional insight from other experts out there!

February 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm 5 comments

Email to a Prospect List–OK or Not?

Your question : We own a list of email addresses that were legally “harvested” (using telemarketing and manually going to websites, etc. No spiders were used to electronically capture email addressess).

We are thinking of doing an email blast with this NOT opt-in list.

If we follow the CAN SPAM regulations, will we be considered SPAM (by prospective clients – possibly), but more importantly, will we be considered SPAMMERS by the FCC or are we just being smart B2B marketers?

Our communique is designed to open the lines of communications, showcase our capabilities and valuable offerings. We give a free demonstration of an e-learning product worth $35.00 as information currency (we give you something in return for registering).

In your expert opinion, are we OK to send the B2B email blast?

Our Answer:  Yes, I do believe that you are OK to send this email. As you mention, you are complying with CAN-SPAM regulations. For those who are interested in a quick review, here are the seven requirements:

The Seven Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act

  1. There must be a clear and conspicuous remove function available to the recipient for 30 days after the email was sent. This is also known as an “Opt Out” function. You want to ensure that you’ve given your client the option of receiving or choosing not to receive emails from you.
  2. You’ll need to develop and enforce an unsubscribe or opt out process. This will have to be accomplished both technically, as well as within your e-mail marketing pieces. You’ll need to check to ensure that you are technically prepared to manage and maintain customer “opt-out” suppression lists. And you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to communicate back to the client in the required timeframes that you’ve received their requests and will place them on your suppression list so that they no longer receive correspondence with you.
  3. You must be able to implement opt-out requests within 10 business days. Opt-outs must be communicated to all customer contact points within your company, added to your suppression lists, and communicated back to the client within this 10 business day requirement.
  4. You must be able to provide a valid physical postal address of the sender so that potential clients or prospects can mail you their request for opting out. The law requires just a postal address. However, it is important to note that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) requires a physical address, i.e. cannot be a PO Box.
  5. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you clearly “label” your email as an advertisement. This is not required for those who have already opted in to receive information from your company. This requirement is for those non-opted-in clients and for all prospect emailing campaigns. You can use the “reasonableness” test here . . . in other words, would the average person consider this e-mail to be an advertisement? If so, you’re probably fine. There is no hard law that you have to actually use the word “advertisement” in your subject line.
  6. You must use a valid sender or header information. We’ve all received those illegal messages from Spammers and seen the creative ways that they’ve tried to combat Spam programs by using words in the sender and subject lines that have nothing to do with the “weight loss” or “body part enhancement” message that the e-mail contains. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that both of these fields are not misleading or false in any way.
  7. You must use valid subject information. As referenced in number 6, the Subject line must reflect the intent of the e-mail message and not be misleading in any way.

So, assuming that you’ve complied with the above, I see no reason why you shouldn’t send your email.  You’ve even gone a step further and made sure that there is a valid benefit to your prospects.  That should boost response, too.

Now, there are many email marketers and consumers at-large who might disagree with me and say that unless someone has expressly given you permission to email them, that you should not put them on your list.

My opinion is that if you have targeted your market correctly, and if your offer is strong and compelling to your audience, then you should be okay.  If you are providing real value, then I would move forward with the campaign.

And, let’s face it–you’ll know soon enough (by the number of unsubscribes and the people who positively respond) if this was the right thing to do.  Please come back and let us know how the campaign went. 

Best of luck to you!

January 27, 2009 at 5:56 am 4 comments

California Political Mail Regulations

Your Question: Is there a law in California that restricts the use of Direct Mail (snail mail) by politicians?

My Answer:  I spent quite a bit of time researching this question, and had a hard time finding a summary of California law.  And, while I’m not an attorney, my conclusion at the end of this research is that there may not be regulations specific to California that govern political direct mail.

With that said, there are federal rules that govern campaign spending, and marketing spend in particular.  Specifically, the Bi Partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), enacted in 2002 provides specifics.  Here’s a link to the complete act, including all regulations that govern “Electioneering communications.”

And, for a little more info on this Act, I found this link to be pretty useful. Written in plain English, it helps interpret the Act.

Finally, I thought it might be helpful to search through some sites that specifically cover California politics.  I really liked this site, that is an excellent resource for information on San Francisco politics, and (perhaps even more valuable for your research) also includes an archive of political direct mail.

I hope that this information is helpful to you.  And, if any readers have more input on California laws governing direct mail, please do comment.

November 17, 2008 at 6:56 pm 2 comments

What degree should I achieve?

Your question: I’m wondering what is the name of the perfect degree for me?

I’m interested in Design and advertising. For example if I was asked to design the poster for a new mascara I would be good at choosing her dress, location, colour schemes and fonts used etc. I wouldn’t mind pitching these sorts of ideas in meetings. I like making things look pretty. I quite like using computers.
I am studying the International Baccaleaureate in the UK and my higher subjects are Theatre, Psychology and Spanish.

What I’m trying to figure out is what job I am looking for and which degree is suitabl for my ambitions.

Our Answer: Well, it sounds like you have a good idea of what you’re looking for (direction is a great thing!) and I appreciate your diverse studies. I have two opinions about the best direction for you and will list them both, along with my rationale.  I would  love to hear from those in the UK (I’m from USA) who might give you better insight, as it applies to the UK job market.

In any event, here are two options, in regards to your choice of degree.

1.  Study what you love and then look for the right career post-graduation.  For example, I think that understanding the psychology of people will help you no matter what career you choose. In the US, many times for marketing jobs, it’s not the undergrad degree you’ve achieved, it’s actually the fact that you’ve graduated that will get that interview for an entry-level position.  So, if you’re interested in a psychology, or in a theatre, degree, I believe that this will help you in life, and will not stop you from getting the first interview.  You’ll be a well-rounded individual and can learn specific marketing tasks on the job.  Just remember that you’ll be starting at the bottom. My first job out of college was as a secretary for a direct marketing firm.

2.  Focus your studies on marketing, advertising, design or communications.  This option means that you’ll spend your time in school learning as much as possible about the field you’d like to enter. I would recommend taking courses in all of these disciplines (marketing, advertising and design) and then decide which you’re best at, and what you enjoy.  Basic courses will help you define which area you’d like to specialize in.

In regards to the job you’re looking for, this really will depend on which area you’d like to focus on.  For example, if you’ve decided to become a designer, you may work for an advertising agency or at an in-house creative team for a firm.  It will become clear when you start looking what positions may be available for a new graduate.  One idea would be to focus your search efforts on those companies that you’re most interested in.  So, if you’d like to work at an ad agency, compile a list of the leading firms in your area and continually check out their websites for the right position for you.  Also, make a habit of checking out the job boards on marketing associations–a great place to find positions and internships.

As a final note–none of these decisions can’t be reversed.  I imagine that you’ll enjoy a variety of jobs and industries throughout your career, and that’s a really positive thing, isn’t it?

Good luck to you!

October 28, 2008 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

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