Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Happened to My E-mail? ... How Direct Mail is Making a Comeback

Hi there... once again I'm copying an article by one of the best direct marketing consultants in the world, Robert Imbraile... I'm sure you'll benefit from his guidance below...

What Happened to My E-mail?

By Robert Imbriale, 'The Motivational Marketer'

Have you noticed that your e-mail just isn't as reliable as it once was? Do you wonder what happened? Aren't these technical things supposed to improve with time, and not degrade instead?You're not alone. More and more people are coming to realize that the once dominant e-mail application, the one we've relied upon for years is no longer reliable.

Our e-mail system is broken, and right now, there's not a single fix out there that's showing any sign of making things better anytime soon. Now you might not think that a broken e-mail system is not all that important, but consider the fact that are large numbers of people who actually WANT to get e-mail from individuals and companies and many of those messages just aren't getting delivered. Worse, you no longer get a reply letting you know that your messages were not delivered. They are simply deleted so you have no idea whether or not your message was even received.

So what's the big deal, right? So you miss a few e-mail messages, who gets hurt?

The truth is that many legitimate, honest, hard-working business owners who rely on e-mail to market and promote their businesses are getting hurt, and many have already gone out of business because they can no longer reach their customers with e-mail.

Personally, I've been using e-mail to market my business since 1995. In those days, most every message I sent was delivered. Not only that, having as many as 9 out of 10 these messages opened was considered normal in those days. Contrast that with today's numbers and you'll see what I mean. Right now, the average e-mail message is opened by LESS than 1% of the people it's sent to.

If you're a business owner, this is certainly not good news. For the people who use unsolicited e-mail (or spam) as their primary marketing tool, as opposed to legitimate permission-based e-mail, their solution to the problem has been to put more e-mail servers online and send out tens of millions more e-mail messages in order to get the same results they were getting just a few short years ago.

In response, the developers of e-mail spam filters have tightened up the noose to catch more of these illegal messages. While that has had an effect on the number of spam messages you see in your inbox, it's also had a devastating effect on businesses that send legitimate e-mail. Think of it as a side effect of combating the spam problem.

And so the story goes. As more spam is sent out, the spam filters get more aggressive and block more and more e-mail. As more and more e-mail is blocked, it becomes a less and less viable marketing channel, a more unreliable communications channel, and in many respects, it will soon become an obsolete technology as more and more people simply stop using and relying on e-mail.

Smart marketers, however, are not going to sit back and watch their businesses crumble because new legislation and technology have totally failed to fix the e- mail mess. The ones that will ultimately survive are taking action, and that action is in the form of finding new ways to reach their customers.

While there is a lot of buzz these days about "social media" there are yet only a few scant success stories, and ultimately this new media can't come close to the marketing power e-mail once had. That, we hope, will someday change, but it's still too early to know for certain when and if social media will ever be reliable replacement for e-mail.

Other business owners are turning back the hands of time and returning to what was once the only low-cost method of marketing; direct mail. For those of you who don't remember marketing before the Internet, direct mail was the de facto marketing tool to beat.

It's low cost and easy availability made it the marketing tool of choice for all types and sizes of businesses. Direct mail is the tried-and-true marketing channel and has been for more than a century. Direct mail has changed little in decades as a powerful marketing tool. It's stable, reliable, predictable, and remains a well-respected and highly affordable marketing channel, even by today's standards.

When direct mail is combined with the Internet, it becomes a very powerful and highly flexible marketing channel. For example, a business might send out a simple postcard to their past customers alerting them to a special offer, sale, or other event. The customer is then directed to a web page for more information and to place an order.

The postcard will see a deliverability rate in the high 90% range, and of those, the vast majority will at very least see the marketing message printed on the postcard. When you compare that to the sub 1% who will actually see a marketing message sent via e-mail, direct mail begins to look very attractive.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about marketing with direct mail is that you can take most of what you're doing on the Internet and convert it easily to a format that can be used with direct mail. This is one of the biggest attractions business owners are excited about, aside from the rather immediate increase in sales, of course.

About the Author
Robert Imbriale is the author of the best-selling book, Motivational Marketing. He is a successful business coach, and seminar leader who has helped hundreds of thousands of business owners create bigger, more successful businesses, and he can help you too. Tell him what your biggest challenge is with your business right now! Go to http://www.askrobertimbriale.com
If you would like to have Robert help you with your business, you can reach him at 1-800-541-3816 or at http://www.robertimbriale.com

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Weathering the Storm - What to do to Stay on Top in a Down Economy

Weathering the Storm
What to do to Stay on Top in a Down Economy

By Robert Imbriale, 
The Motivational Marketer

Business owners from coast to coast are worried, scared, and some are even considering closing up shop because of what they see as uncertain times ahead. While it's true that there will be many business closings ahead, your business doesn't have to be one of them.

What's behind much of the fear and worry is the constant barrage of bad news about industry giants failing at an alarming rate. And, it's not just the what's in the news. Our conversations have also turned negative about anything related to the economy.

What has happened to many business owners is that they have taken what they have heard or read about in the news and given it more attention than it truly deserves. That has created doubt, which soon becomes fear, and not long after that, you'll find these same business owners throwing in the towel and shutting their doors forever.

And then there's the trickle-down effect to consider. When one business fails, other business owners then begin to look at that failure to support their beliefs that things are as bad as they are hearing about in the news.

If your business is going to succeed, the first thing you need to do is shift your attention away from all of this and instead focus on things that are indeed more positive. I'm not suggesting that you ignore it all, but try to at least get a new perspective on it all.

For instance, yesterday, I was at the local packing and shipping store where business was booming. In fact, the owner told me he was having a great holiday season, despite what the fact that if you believe what you're hearing about in the news would make you think this could simply not be possible.

I'm sure that you won't see a story about this business in the news, either, so don't go looking for it.

Now, I'm not trying to blame the news media for all our troubles. These companies are nothing more than businesses that respond to what their customers buy. We buy bad news hundreds of times more than good news. If we bought only good news, that what you'd see more of. So it's not entirely the media's fault.

Closer to home, I started to look for signs that things weren't quite as bad as I'd heard. Sure enough, there is the landscape crew out on my front lawn, so I asked him how his business was doing. It was slower, but he was still getting big landscaping jobs, one totaling more than $125,000.00!

In my own business, I'm seeing more and more clients contacting me for my executive level coaching services because they are looking to make this coming year better than the previous one!

"What?" People actually not looking at things from a negative perspective? Well, they'll see, you think to yourself because you "know" they just can't be right.

Then you look a little deeper at what's really happening right now and what you begin to see is that this is the perfect time to be positive about the future.

Think about it this way. When the economy was bubbling hot, houses became almost unaffordable as prices rose to record-setting highs. Yes, cheap money was indeed behind all of that, but had it continued to go the way it was going, in just a decade from now, the average home in this country might have topped a million dollars!

Things are simply adjusting and getting back to more reasonable levels. And, as in any adjustment period, it's going to be a little uncomfortable for a little while. And, there is a lot you can do right now to take dvantage of all the changes.

Here are some suggestions for you.

First, go out of your way to find stories of success. Find people who are now talking about better times ahead instead of hanging around people who can only parrot what they hear in the news.

Then, start creating your plans for this next year by putting down on paper everything you wish to have and do in the next 12 months. Go ahead and be bold here because big dreams are what create big results.

Next, create, find, invent a way to get yourself around people who are positive, upbeat, and who are seeing all the opportunities that are now being created that could never have been if things had stayed the way they were. Engage in conversations of success and what you want your business to do, and what you're planning for the next year.

This is where a good coach can be extremely valuable to you and your business, and it's a worthwhile investment if you simply can't find anybody to motivate you and hold you accountable.

If you do these simple steps, what you'll find is that things aren't quite as bad as they are made to appear, and in fact, there are many places that are thriving right now.

Think about this. Each and every day billions and billions of dollars changes hands on the Internet. That number may be lower than it once was when it broke all previous records, but it has not stopped! It's just lower, and nothing more.

Your job is simply to find new and innovative ways to tap into the money stream that is flowing and will continue to flow, no matter how bad things may get out there.

Realize that millionaires are made in good times and bad. It's not about what's going on out there as much as it is about how you think about and what you do about it.

Your success comes from seeing things that other people can't or won't see. Every smart and successful business owner sees things as they want them to be rather than as they are.

They put their focus on what they are trying to create instead of what they are getting because they realize that what they are getting right now is simply a result of what they did, or failed to do, in the past. What they get tomorrow and beyond will be the result of what they do today and everyday going forward.

In a nutshell, you can, and you should be planning for a great year ahead. You should be thinking about how you want your business to look a year from today, and start working on those plans right now.

If you'll do these things, and I mean really do them, instead of just giving them lip service, I know you'll be pleased with the results you'll get in the coming year, regardless of how bad the media tells us things are out there.

Remember, drama is what sells newspapers, not stories of success. Go ahead and buck the trend, plan ahead, and create a business that will stand the test of what's ahead.. and cash in as all your competitor's go out of business because they got scared and their customers now start buying from you!

Think about it. You can either struggle in the coming year, or you can thrive, and it's really all up to you.

About the Author

Robert Imbriale is the author of the best-selling book, Motivational Marketing. He is a successful business coach, and seminar leader who has helped hundreds of thousands of business owners create bigger, more successful businesses, and he can help you too. Tell him what your biggest challenge is with your 
business right now! Go to www.AskRobertImbriale.com If you would like to have Robert help you with your business, you can reach him at 1-800-541-3816 or at www.RobertImbriale.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Which Comes First, the Product or the Promotion?

I often answer marketing strategy questions on social networking sites, which typically lands me new clients. While I was on LinkedIn's group called eOffice, I read the following posted question:

Which comes first, the product or the marketing?

I stumbled upon this post by the genius Seth Godin, The Marketing Guru. “Well, if you define marketing as advertising, then it's clear you need the product first (Captain Crunch being the only exception I can think of... they made the ads first.)
This great clip from Mad Men brings the point home. If the Kodak guys hadn't invented the Carousel slide projector, Don Draper could never have pitched this ad. But wait. Marketing is not the same as advertising. Advertising is a tiny slice of what marketing is today, and in fact, it's pretty clear that the marketing has to come before the product, not after. As Jon points out, the Prius was developed after the marketing thinking was done.

Jones Soda, too. In fact, just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true. If someone comes to you with a 'great' product that just needs some marketing, the game is probably already over.” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/02/which-comes-first-the-product-or-the-marketing.html

Then, I replied with the following:

As you already know, Seth is among the best in the industry. So, to agree with him is a bit redundant. But, since you asked, it is definitely the promotion/marketing. If you haven't already read Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week book, you'll find in there several simple ways to test, at least online, the sales process, including all marketing channels and finally to the point on a web page that someone gives their credit card information.

If you can get traffic to your site, convert enough of them to either register for some free report or actually make a purchase (with the last page saying, "Sorry, we are in the product launch phase, your credit card has not been charged. We will notify you when the product is available."), then you'll know you've got the right marketing message and the right sales process.

One key for online traffic via Google Adwords is to apply a filter to your ad so that you only get people clicking through who are most likely to make a purchase. Often, you'll see ads that give the price ranges of the products. So, if viewers are not ready to spend at least the minimum, they will likely not click. Lowering your marketing cost is equivalent to making more sales.

If you can develop a strong ROI by testing one or more marketing / sales process strategies first, for a product that you plan on developing, you will 1) be able to adjust the actual product's features according to what is going to sell better and 2) know that once the product is made, you can quickly set up your marketing channels and get them sold immediately.

In another OFFLINE approach, you do surveys. Simply 1) determine a psychological profile of your ideal client, 2) locate them locally (once you know someone's preferences, you'll know where they shop/eat), and 3) canvas your ideal clients, meaning, ask them in person or over the phone all the market research questions. One trick is to get permission to set up a table in front of where your ideal clients shop (and if you have voter registration forms on half of your table, no one can deny you!).

Even if 20% of respondents don't reply accurately (some people have a hard time predicting their own future behavior), so long as the majority reply accurately, you'll have some primary market research that will help you set up a proof of concept / feasibility study and both convince yourself that you have the right product at the right time, and you'll then know how to send the right message to the right people.
Since you know Seth's work, I'm guessing this is all review for you. However, perhaps others on this group would find some of what I explained of value.

So, do you have any stories that showcase this principle at work?