Direct Mail: Old School Cool

April 16th, 2012

As the Promobabe, I see value in most forms of marketing. I’m all for the Internet. I love a creative print ad campaign. And as a 20 plus year vet of broadcast promotion, I’m a big fan of advertising on radio and TV.

Problem is, so does everyone else. Resulting in way too much “mass” communication.

So how do you zig when everyone’s zagging? By going old school. With a beautiful piece of direct mail.

Unlike the mind-boggling frenzy of info on the web, or the blather of too many broadcast messages, direct mail can be your own personal playground of effective promotion.

Because, Dear Marketer, that 6 x 9 card is your turf. With an attention-getting design, clean layout and clear, engaging copy, direct mail can rise above the average ad — and become an opportunity to begin a customer conversation. Even better, it allows you to target your prospects like a Jedi Master — so you can hone in on exactly the folks you most want to reach.

The other really great thing about direct mail? These days, it’s too often overlooked in favor of its high-tech brothers and sisters. Which means fewer of your competitors are likely to be there.

So, while everyone else is shouting themselves hoarse — trying to be heard over the other guy’s ads, questionable web “content,” or jammed into a broadcast break most people skip — direct mail puts you on your own island of advertising. With your message literally in your customer’s hands.

Now how cool is that?

Back to Old School

September 23rd, 2011

As a working stiff in the marketing trenches, I’m usually too busy pep-stepping in my own Promo Parade to pay much mind to the advertising around me.

And, as you’re likely thinking, that’s a huge mistake.  I agree.

As an advertising pro, I need to be more heads up about what’s happening in my industry, despite my daunting daily to-do list.  It’s a challenge we all face in business.

So lately I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the marketing (or attempts at marketing) I see around me.  Not only do I get inspired, it’s a great reminder of those timeless advertising basics.

Here are some recent campaigns that showcase Advertising 101:

Yellowtail Wine: The creative crew behind Yellowtail encourages me to take what I call “realistic risks.”  The in-your-face graphics, the odd, yet compelling voiceover and the sheer audacity of the spots make this campaign a real attention-getter.  Most important?  They don’t let the clever concept get in the way of their real mission:  selling Yellowtail wine. The branding shines through loud and clear in every aspect of the creative.  The concept and the writing speak directly to their target audience (young-ish, stylish, connected and social).  And the product is truly the star.

Lesson Learned:  Find your own product’s “unique flava”  — but never let cool creative obliterate your branding.

1-800-CONTACTS:  Ahhh, humor.  We all love funny campaigns – but they’re tough to pull off. Too many “humorous” spots forget Job
#1:  the need to sell a product.  However, this funny campaign is a winner.  The folks behind 1-800-CONTACTS brilliantly blend humor and product branding in a simple, but effective campaign.  It’s got all the key elements:  a crystal clear concept (ordering their contacts is easy and saves you money), memorable characters, who are perfectly cast (I’ll long remember the actor lamenting about his “special eyes”) and great scriptwriting that hammers home the USP. Even more interesting is how simple, almost barren, the visuals are.  No flash, no fast edits, no barrage of incoming effects. A reminder that the K.I.S.S. principle can really work.

Lesson Learned:  Funny is as funny does.  Does the creative really sell your product?  Support your branding?  Make your product/service the star?  Or is it just…funny?

So every now and then, take a trip back to old school.  Absorb the advertising around you – and not just in your own industry. Review those timeless marketing techniques.  Are you really selling your product – or is the creative getting in the way?

You’re in for a very valuable lesson.

Mad for Mobile

July 8th, 2011

Boomers remember the boom in broadcast TV. Gen X’ers witnessed the catapult in cable. The Millennium generation heralds the explosion in mobile.

Thanks to the sweep of cell phones (80% of the population), rapidly being traded for smart phones (currently about 31% of the population), mobile marketing is poised to grow faster than any other medium in the last 90 years. (more…)

The New Status Low

May 26th, 2011

It’s some crazy times here in California. The land of the status symbol, the latest trends, the rich and the wanna-be rich.

It’s all screwed up now. But only in the way Californians can really screw it up. The real estate market, naturally, is behind it.

Flash back to the long-gone era of 2005. (a veeerrrry good year, most Californians agree). Everyone was remodeling their home. Putting in a Jacuzzi. Buying a Hummer. Going to Hawaii. Passing as much free time as possible at the mall. (more…)

An Inconvenient Truth* #3

May 15th, 2011

Don’t Make ‘em Work

I watch yet another car lurk around the parking lot, scoping out the closest space possible to the building’s front door. Despite the fact that just a few rows away are dozens of empty spots, ignored by just about every driver. Round and round she goes, where she’ll stop, nobody knows – except you can be certain it won’t be far away.

And, of course, all this walk-avoidance is happening at the gym. (more…)

An Inconvenient Truth* #2

May 13th, 2011

Know Thyself

I’ve spent far too much of my time and limited mind space thinking about this rather inane question:

What on earth is Allstate thinking?

For the last couple of years, they’ve had the Strong Soothing Black Man as their spokesperson in their TV spots. Don’t know his name, but it doesn’t matter. The SSBM exudes what we all need right now: quiet strength, unwavering confidence, the feeling that no matter what may go wrong in your life, the SSBM will make it all go away. (more…)

An Inconvenient Truth* #1

May 12th, 2011

Don’t Make ‘em Think

The Promobabe has spun many a marketing tale in her time, much of it inside the wild world of television promotion, where we cranked out promo content on a fast-moving, never-ending conveyer belt.

Despite the Pop-Tart like nature of the work (heat, eat, repeat), I learned a critical thing about marketing and advertising that applies to every audience in every industry: (more…)

Confessions of a Promobabe

May 5th, 2011

The power of less. Nothing teaches it to you like the merciless world of TV promotion, where I spent many years writing and producing the daily “tonight at 11pm” teases for local news stations.

It’s a world where you gotta get your message out fast. Where 30-second spots are a luxury. Most of the time, you’re cranking out your copy in ten seconds and even the infamous “four second ID’s.”

Cliques Don’t Click with Your Customers

April 28th, 2011

Quick: how many of you immediately know what “location-based social media” means? More importantly, how many of you think the average person knows what this means?

I recently had to discourage a smart, valued client from using this term in a customer survey I was creating for his company. I reminded him that most folks simply won’t understand the question, resulting in a missed opportunity for client connection and getting important information.

Your English Teacher Was Wrong

April 21st, 2011

Hate to break it to you, but Mrs. Marple, your 8th grade English teacher, put you on the road to utter boredom. At least when it comes to compelling ad copy.

You know all the rules that were drilled into our heads:

• Use complete sentences!
• Don’t ever end a sentence with a preposition!
• Do not use contractions!
• Write in the third person!
• Give lots and lots of details!
• Do NOT break the rules!