Tag : grace

10 Tips for Better Marketing Emails—Part 2: Dont’s

Email as Part of Marketing MixSometimes, improving your marketing means adding to what you’re doing—improving and honing your craft.  In my last post, I discussed five positive ways to upgrade your promotional emails.  Below are five constructive ways to renovate your email media by stopping some common unhealthy practices.

DON’T scan printed materials—especially partial scans—and send them via email.  
I’ve seen this from two different auction companies in the past month.  Not only is the presentation unprofessional, it’s actually more time-consuming to notify prospects this way.  Don’t be afraid, though, to have your graphic designer take certain value-added images (aerials, captioned photos, etc.) and convert them natively to JPG format to use in your email template.

DON’T bury the lead.  
With only a few seconds at best to grab the recipient’s attention, it’s critical to put the most important information in the top few lines of text and/or top 200-300 pixels of an email.  Remember that this priority space is not about what’s important to you but, instead, what’s important to the reader.  Those are typically two different things.  Leave your logo and contact information for the bottom of the email; the recipient already saw the email was from you before they opened it.

DON’T forget about the text version of emails.  
While many users get their email with HTML-enabled applications, many are using their mobile devices or browser-based inboxes. Most email services will create text versions from your HTML emails, but it’s wise to check the text versions for irregularities from the automatic conversion.

DON’T use images more than 800 pixels wide in your emails.  
The vast majority of email programs aren’t going to show images wider than 800 pixels.  Even if they do, larger images take longer to download.  Download speed is critical, especially for mobile email users.  Programs for resizing photographs to this size are free or inexpensive.  The person who designs your other media can probably reduce your images in a matter of seconds; so, you might want to ask them for web-size versions of the images they used in your print campaign.

DON’T acquire and/or use email addresses illegally.  
If someone doesn’t give you their email address, it’s most likely a prosecutable offense to send them bulk emails.  Great places to garner email addresses legally: business card bowls or drawings, subscription boxes on your website, links in email signatures, and bidder registration forms.  If I’ve been corresponding with someone, I often just ask, “Would you like to get my articles delivered to your email inbox?” Usually, they respond with a “yes.”  When they don’t, I know I would’ve been wasting my emails on them, anyway.

Email should be an important component in every marketing campaign you create.  Because the medium is free or very inexpensive, the temptation is not to place as much effort into it as with more tangible and public media.  Beware of that pitfall.  Surpass your competition’s emails by doing the small things right.
[tip]

For most of my life, I measured my standing with God by the things I didn’t do at least as much as by the things I did do.  The problem is that both were worthless measurements, because the focus of both centered around “do.”

As I’ve been traveling through the book of Romans with God chasers in my church, it’s becoming apparent that none of us—especially me—could rescue ourselves or even keep our fates afloat by our accomplishment or restraint.  God exchanged our despondency for his hope, our nothing for his everything, our filth for his perfection.  And when he did, that was all him.  No us.

It’s hubris to think anything I could now do would earn his gifts.  But that common arrogance is embedded in my heart and needs to be regularly rooted out of my perspective.

You and I are loved and forgiven.  While that should direct our gratefulness and worship, as well as our obedience and evangelism, the prize of that unconditional acceptance shouldn’t ever become part of our to-do list.

 

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com.[/footer]

90: 6 Weird Intruders in Your Mail Box

IntrudersI love snail mail.

So, I register for mailing lists all the time.  I like to see what corporate America is producing in their metropolitan ad agencies and what auctioneers create with their brochure mills or local print shops.  I don’t see “junk mail.”  I see lessons in how to capture attention and how not to get trashed in the first pass through the stack.  I’ve got a storage bin filled with competition-worthy samples, and I’ve developed a list of the ways auctioneers ignore the purpose of advertising.

Advertising should do three things:
(1) capture attention
(2) inform
(3) call to action

In other words, your media needs to make a good first impression, hold that attention, and then leverage its impact to evoke a specific response.  The first step and the transition to the second step are typically where I see auctioneers stumble.  They assume that the recipient is as interested in what they’re selling as they are and that the recipient will interact with an advertisement as though they already know the content will interest them.

Most auction brochures and postcards I receive make me shake my head—more times than not because of the mailer panel.  The mailer panel is the first impression panel for the vast majority of the people on your mailing list.  Don’t make your first impression like these guys I’ve met at my mailbox:

The Shady Lawyer
If you get on enough auctioneer mailing lists or peruse enough advertising competition entries, you’ll find a mailer panel that shows the auction company name and logos and their contact information—and nothing else but the auction terms.  Before you ever know what they’re selling, you’re given all the indemnifying conditions of what you can and can’t do in regards to something being sold—something not shown nor described.

If you walked into a retailer, they wouldn’t stop you at the door to read the fine print from your pending receipt.  Why would a retailer—or an auctioneer—start their advertising that way?  They tell me it’s because that’s the only place left to put the terms.  These auctioneers believe the mailer panel is the leftover space, despite it being maybe the most important space of the entire piece.

The Conspiracy Theorist
I also get pieces whose mailer panels hold not much more than a small (often illegally reproduced) map on them, sometimes with directions.  Like the shady lawyers, these auctioneers assume the space next to your address is the junk drawer of the advertising kitchen.  If there were more than one Area 51, you could make the case that maybe these auctioneers might be selling restricted real estate.  We’re told there’s an important place; we just don’t know what’s going on there.  Think about it: why would anyone be interested in a map that comes with no reason to use it?  And who keeps a map to a place they don’t know if they want to visit?

The Polygamist
Every time postage rises, more auctioneers consolidate their mailings, sometimes by designing more than one auction into a piece but more often by stapling and/or tabbing multiple brochures together and mailing them as a combo pack.  This can be a smart strategy, if the auctions are for similar assets that would have been mailed to the same list anyway.

The problem comes when only one of the auctions is mentioned on the mailer panel of the outside piece.  If I were the seller of one of the auctions shown in the interior pieces, I’d feel second rate.  I also regularly receive pieces that just have a calendar showing highlighted dates and a couple headlines.  Rather than treat one seller with unequal attention, all sellers get the impersonal treatment.

Typically, the auctioneer is combining an entire month’s worth of mailings at one shot.  In most cases, it would seem to me that somebody’s auction is getting advertised later than optimal timing.

The Mime
These pieces don’t say anything; they just indicate that there’s something not being said.  I’ve seen auction mailers with nothing but the recipient’s address and a stamp on them—sometimes also a stamped return address and logo on it.  Blank on the other side, too.  Why?  Because the auctioneer only paid for one-sided printing.  Usually, they are mailing a poster they had printed to hang in stores around town.  They are banking on the fact that curiosity will typically trump attention span and the hope that they won’t be seen as cheap.

I understand the intrigue strategy, but there are better and more professional ways to generate curiosity.  You’re paying to mail both sides of the brochure.  Why not use both?

The Narcissist
One auctioneer told me he that didn’t like me putting pictures on the outside of a brochure and that he wanted just his name and enlarged logo on the outside of the piece.  “When people see my name, they will want to open it.”  Even as a direct mail junkie, I don’t open all of my mail, even pieces from known entities.  From what I’ve heard, I’m not alone in that reality.  So, I wouldn’t trust the name recognition approach, especially when mailing to a new geographic or asset market.

The Acrobat
Usually this dude comes in postcard format.  He expects you to flip the piece over to see the most appealing images and information.  Online print shops only exasperate the problem by calling the side of the postcard opposite the address the “front.”  They assume guests will come to your back door first, I guess.  They overlook that the vast majority of Americans open their mail address side up—because that’s how mail deliverers put it in mailboxes.

Don’t make the people on your mailing list guess what’s for sale and why it’s important they know about it.  Capture their attention and inform them right from the first impression—the mailer panel.
[tip]

In advertising, you should judge a book by its cover, because that’s what its audience does.

Spiritually and relationally, though, it’s not a safe practice.  God says that he’s the only one who sees the inside through the outside.  Sadly, though, the church has built millennia of precedence of creating a sliding scale of holiness, based on mostly-arbitrary exterior criteria.  I struggle with this, too, especially when I feel insecure about my spiritual state.

Recently, a conversation with a mentor of mine challenged my resistance to a former convict participating in certain church environments.  We talked about how scandalous God’s grace and mercy are, and he dropped this on me:  “I don’t want to have a finer filter than God does.”  In other words, if God forgave someone and allowed them to approach him, why shouldn’t we?

Then he hit me with the knockout punch: “All of us have some pretty dark places in our hearts—all of us.”  It’s easy to see the darkness in others instead of our own waywardness.  It’s a challenge, though, to extend to someone else the benefit of a doubt that we give ourselves.

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com.[/footer]

71: Getting the Right Clients On Board

Jetliner SeatsI’m writing this post on what will probably be my last jet flight out of the Lynchburg airport. To kick off 2011 on an efficient foot, Delta will be withdrawing its regional jet service from Atlanta, leaving Region 2000 citizens with the choice of US Airways prop service to Charlotte, private jet charter, or a long drive to a Virginia or North Carolina city with an interstate exit.

Even with 80% average occupancy on it’s 2010 flights, Delta hasn’t turned a profit here since 2008, when it operated at 62% average occupancy.† In an effort to offer Delta a package that would keep flights connecting ATL and LYH, Lynchburg city officials brought in airline industry consultant Mike Boyd. Boyd told them the problem was not how many passengers were on the planes but what type of passengers were on the plane.†† In a small city with multiple college campuses, our jets fill early with lower fares, instead of higher-margin last minute purchases typically purchased by business travelers. (Boyd suggests that Delta embargo availability of a number of seats until the last two weeks before departure to regain the higher-margin fares.)††

I can’t fault Delta. As I track productivity and profitability for biplane, I excuse myself from specific accounts, refer work to competitors or peers, and selectively change pricing structures.

Not all clients are created equal, even if they can keep you equally busy. Most of us want high-margin, headache-free work; the challenge is how to attract that work.

Part of that is branding—answering the questions, “What public personae are we projecting? And what kind of business does that attract?” You will have an uphill battle attracting premium clients with subpar marketing or high volume liquidators with a mom-and-pop feel to your collateral.

Part of that is taking the time to measure efficiency, review profitability, and quantify intangible aspects of your work. You might be surprised where you’re most efficiently generating revenue. Then there’s the question I asked during a recent consultation: “How much do you need the money that comes with that headache?”

Part of that is a brave self-control to shew away a bird in the hand to make room for one or two in the bush. A good, indirect way to sift prospects is changing your price points and/or terms of transaction. Sometimes, I just explain to now-former clients or prospects that biplane is not a good fit for them. It’s better to have a difficult conversation on the front end of a poor fit than on the post-game evaluation. (I’ve learned that one the hard way.)

So, where’s your sweet spot? For some it’s in high risk/reward problem solving; for others it’s in predictable efficiency.

And with whom are you working when you’re in your wheel house? It might be a demographic group, a personality type, or infrastructure.

From where do these good fits come to you? Answering this question will give you a good start on where you can go to find more clients like them.

Successful, popular brands—name plates like Apple & BOSE, CNN & FoxNews, MINI & Jeep—don’t appeal to the blank masses. They implement specific brand strategies to duplicate their happy customers. Do you?

[footer]†Bryan Gentry, “Delta to discontinue service from Lynchburg airport,” October 27, 2010, Lynchburg News & Advance
††Bryan Gentry, “Consultant: Lynchburg airport could keep Delta,” November 12, 2010 Lynchburg News & Advance[/footer]
[tip]

I’m really glad God doesn’t take just the easier cases, those with wills more pliable than mine. I’m thankful his invitation isn’t segmented to a specific people group.

The hard part for me is extending that patient, unbiased, consistent grace to others. So often, I prefer to associate with those who agree with my theology, those whose journeys are closest to my own, those whose needs fit into my available time and resource windows—the people who I’d look forward to having on my street in heaven.

But, as Andy Stanley wrote, “Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self-righteous.” When ugly feelings brew inside me over certain people, I am convicted by this litmus test and have to ask myself if I’m starting to take credit for any transformation Christ has accomplished in me.

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2010.[/footer]

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