Wednesday, March 28, 2007

...And Boy Are My Arms Tired! in "I just flew back from Dallas"....

Sorry I haven't posted in a couple days -- I've just returned from a conference for fundraising professionals in Dallas. We were out there promoting the company to the association and nonprofit
executive attendees.

I also owe some gratitude to John O'Leary who wins the award for the first commenter of this blog. He responded to my post on Commerce Bank's taglines and website. Thanks for your response John. I'm sure that Commerce Bank provides excellent service and I appreciate your bringing that to everyone's attention. I was simply questioning the way they attract new customers. I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of new business comes from referrals like yours -- if they have evangelists like you out there, then they almost don't need to spend money on fixing their website. Almost. But either way, extra points to you for quoting Landeau on this blog.

This brings up an interesting point: have you ever stopped to think about how valuable a customer referral is to your company? The customer referral is an extremely strong promotion tool and is an important piece to a good viral marketing campaign. Think about it: viral marketing is basically facilitating your evangelists' desire to talk about how wonderful your company is. The trick is to enable these customers in a way that doesn't harm the credibility of their referral.

I have some more stuff to talk about from Dallas (including "Texas Edition" Ford Trucks, flying on American Airlines, and Lance Armstrong's speech that I heard yesterday) but will have to post those thoughts in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

No Stupid Fees, Just a Stupid Website

This post was going to be about Commerce Bank's advertising tag line that they're currently using. For those of you who don't know Commerce Bank, it's a small bank that mainly serves various locations on the east coast. I've seen their ads in passing before, but yesterday as I was riding the Metro home, I caught a glimpse of their tagline. It read:

"Commerce Bank. No more stupid fees."

This was going to be a great topic -- I was going to praise (or put down -- I hadn't decided yet) their ads on here and invite the readers to help me find other ads that really break through the norms of advertising. I was researching the bank before I started my post...

...and then I went to Commerce Bank's Website. Wow. I knew then that this post had to be about the sorry presence that they maintain online. Here, right now -- go check out

See what I mean? So the first thing that sticks out on this website is the fact that it looks like it was created in 1997. You remember websites back then -- full of javascript-enabled banners and "fun" elements that made the page completely overwhelming and distracting? You remember the use of a severely limited color palette?

Well this site has all of that going on. It's kind of sad, actually -- Wikipedia reports that Commerce Bank does more than $1 billion of annual revenue. This leads me to question if they realize that they're turning away vast amounts of people by having a website like this. I almost wonder if the marketing department over there in New Jersey has forgotten about their website while working on the *stellar* new ad campaign that I saw yesterday.

Once a website is online, it has to be maintained in order to continue to reflect your company warmly. Sticking with an antiquated design scheme or not searching for broken links can severely hurt your company's reputation with a website visitor -- which really is the whole reason you have a site in the first place.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The "Fresh" Marketer?

Someone said to me the other day, "Dan, why is your blog called 'The Fresh Marketer'? I mean, you say that you're new to the marketing scene, but in reality, you've grown up with people marketing to you for your entire life."

So -- is she being accurate in this statement? Yes.
Will I change the name of this blog? Nope.

She does make a good point however. I have grown up constantly bombarded with marketing messaging -- so has everyone else. You know what? I think we're tired of it. I think we know when we're being marketed to (at least, when it's done through conventional methods) and we close ourselves off to the message.

If our audience keeps shutting off our marketing messaging before it has a chance to tell them our story, how do we successfully continue to promote ourselves?
  • Build a relationship with your audience so that they want to hear what you have to say. Give them information that actually means something to them -- actually has value to them instead of simply promoting your product/service. If that information is truly worth their while, then not only will they devote time to reading it, but they'll probably send it to someone else. Virally spreading your message.
  • Delivering them a marketing message in such a way that they don't realize what they're looking at is actually an ad. Some great examples are what Facebook is doing with their NCAA Tourney (see my previous post), Capital One's Mascot Challenge, and (even better) NBC's Grease -- You're the One That I Want. If you think about it all of these promotion tools are delivering a strong marketing message to their audiences while engaging the audience with a fun activity so that they don't shut off to the messaging.
It occurs to me as I'm writing this that these two areas might be able to be combined into a single category of marketing. They seem different, but if you think about it, aren't they really the same thing? When you create an fun activity that captures the attention of your audience, aren't you also making the time they spend with you worth it for them? Doesn't the audience of "Grease -- YTOTIW" have a relationship with the show? Won't 80% of the people who watch every Sunday (who live close enough to NYC) go see the show? I bet they will.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Promoting blogs (part II)

If you don't recall (or didn't read the post), I started this blog without a plan for promoting it -- I wanted to have a good number of postings before I started inviting people to it. For the past couple of days now, I've started to promote to colleagues, family, and by joining some blogging communities. I joined Technorati and saw my number of visitors jump dramatically. I want to continue growing the readership of this blog -- what other blogging communities should I join? Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Twitter's Demise?

Looks like some people are agreeing with what I said earlier about Twitter.

Mat seems to think that Twitter won't see 2008 and is starting a pool to see who can correctly predict its demise. For the most part, I think Mat and I agree -- there's really very little value that can be gained from using Twitter.

What is still untapped however, is the business application of this type of a tool. If the nice folks over at Twitter could apply this to a business situation (like I mentioned in my previous post), I think that Twitter could definitely see next year...

It's called "Twitter"...

...and it's creating a huge amount of buzz. I've read reports that says that it's:

  • addictive
  • a micro-blogger's dream tool
  • to blogging what the phone is to the pony express
Is it really that good? I had to try it out. I headed over to, registered for an account, and linked it to my phone via SMS.

So basically, it's a way to provide status updates to people who subscribe to your feed (via RSS or through the Twitter web site), very similar to "status updates" that Facebook already has. Those status updates on Facebook seem to be pretty popular, especially for mobile FB users who continually update them...

For the rest of us, I'm not sure how great Twitter's going to be -- at least in this form. What I really was hoping for was a way for me to post to my blog via phone. Guess what -- I can. Blogger lets you do that. Thanks but no thanks, Twitter.

Okay, I guess that this will have some applicability for the same type of people who keep updating their Facebook status. What I'm excited about seeing is how a company can use this new "micro-blogging" to its advantage for marketing. Maybe a CEO micro-blog where he/she can just post cool ideas that they come up with -- almost like a stream of CEO's consciousness? What about a conference update tool? One person can sit in a session and post (and record) notes for other people who can read them on a computer or a phone. Hmmmm. This could be pretty cool... Revolutionary? I'm not sure -- time will tell.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

4 Lessons Learned from Direct Mail Campaign

Direct mail -- Yawn, right? I mean, DM has been done every which-way, that it seems impossible to make a campaign driven by mailers work anymore. However, based on the audience (association execs) and budget, I decided that this would be the best way to hit our audience during a pre-show campaign for an upcoming conference that we were attending.

I changed it up a bit, however. Instead of doing one mailer with the typical info on it ("come visit our booth!"), I decided to follow send four mailers out and slowly reveal more information as we got closer to the conference. Here's what I sent out:

10 days prior to conference:

7 days prior to conference:

4 days prior to conference:

1 day prior to conference:

What you are unable to see in these pics is the writing on the back. Each mailer revealed a little more information as we got closer to the event. I didn't even put my company's address, name, or logo until the last postcard. This led to a recipient getting excited everytime a new mailer would arrive. I no longer had to fight to hold his/her interest -- they were looking for my mailer.

This direct mail campaign ended up having about a 10% conversion rate (we counted a conversion as a visit to our booth). Not bad considering that MarketingSherpa benchmarks the average response rate to a DM campaign at 6%. But what was even better was that the 10% of recipients who showed up to the booth were emotionally tied to this mailer. They had put in so much time trying to figure out who was sending them these cards that by the time came for them to come to the conference, my booth was at the top of their list to visit. They also were very interested in the item that I was promoting: our take on a IT maturity model.

4 Lessons Learned:

1) An emotional connection can drive conversions in a DM campaign just like they do in any other medium. I found that the messaging from this campaign even spread virally -- recipients brought asked for their coworkers' help in figuring out who was sending these mailers.

2) 3D mailers will almost always prove to be more effective than flats. The thing that I would've changed if I were doing this campaign again would be to use a mailer that stuck out more in a stack of mail. A couple of recipients remarked that they didn't receive all four mailers, later to realize that they accidentally threw one out.

3) When running a campaign like this, each mailer should have enough information to stand on its own. Each of these mailers built on the previous ones, so if someone missed the first mailer, they didn't understand the rest of them.

4) DM can work -- if you do it in a unique and creative way. Who knew, right?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Welcome Back!

Riiiiiight. So remember how I said that a blog is a conversation with an audience and the only way for it to be successful is to update it at regular intervals? Basically, this is Blogging 101 here. Well guess what -- I dropped the ball! The past two weeks have been crazy busy with some new campaigns coming out from the company as well as an additional volunteer project I'm working on. I'll tell you a little bit about that later -- meanwhile, we should talk about something that's on everyone's minds right now:

The NCAA Tournament.

So you've probably already filled out your brackets and submitted them to your pools, as have I. For those of you on Facebook, you might have noticed the new "Pools" feature on there. It's great -- it allows all of the previous social interaction that this event would bring to happen online at this site.

Even better (for us marketers), have you seen how they're monetizing it?

This is a pool sponsored by STA Travel. What a great way for a company targeting students and young adults to penetrate this market. It's viral, it's relevant, and I would bet that no one thinks "Oh great, another ad" like they do while watching TV.

This is where I think marketing and advertising is headed -- serving ads to people who don't recognize the fact that what they're looking at is actually an ad.

What do you think?