Tag : mailbox

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169: The Oddest Objection I Get When Consulting

I get a really odd response when I recommend that Facebook receive a sizable chunk of a marketing budget.

“Not everyone’s on Facebook, though.”

I’ve never heard a client declare, “Not everyone gets the newspaper, though.”

I’ve never heard an auctioneer say, “But not everybody opens their mail.”

The irony in my clients’ rebuttals is that Facebook is the most dominant channel in any medium in our country. As of August of 2015, 62% of the adult population and 72% of adults in the country who use the Internet are on Facebook.1 Two thirds of those Facebook users visit the site every day.2

By contrast, the most watched show on TV last year (Sunday Night Football) garnered 6.6% of the nation’s population.3 That’s 10% of Facebook’s daily reach, and it’s available only 17 nights a year. Plus, advertising to that small fraction of people would cost you just short of a firstborn child.

“But older folks aren’t on Facebook.”

64% of Internet users ages 55 to 64 use Facebook.1 Only 44% of Americans ages 55-64 read a newspaper.4 It’s safe to assume the percentage of adults who look through the classifieds of those newspapers would be significantly smaller still.

Not only is the quantity of newspaper subscribers shrinking (7% for daily papers and 4% for Sunday papers—last year alone), so is the quantity of newspapers themselves. A net of 118 U.S. newspapers closed their doors between 2004 and 2014.5 Multiple times in the past couple years, I’ve had to email a client to let them know that a newspaper they requested is no longer in print.

In contrast, the number of mailboxes in America isn’t shrinking; and neither is Facebook’s user base.

“Well, professionals and investors [rich people] aren’t on Facebook.”

2015 Facebook Users78% of on Internet users with household incomes above $75,000 are on Facebook.1 That happens to be the highest percentage of any income bracket.

Facebook will let you filter audiences by income, by net worth, by liquid assets, and by number of lines of credit. I regularly target lists of millionaires and multimillionaires on Facebook and get tons of traffic to my clients’ websites—for both commercial and luxury residential properties.

One of my clients auctioned a medical office building earlier this year. We had a direct mail campaign and ads deployed in local and business newspapers. At the first open house, every single prospect touring the property came from Facebook. They weren’t teenagers or minimum wage workers.

Am I saying advertising budgets should be almost all Facebook?

Absolutely not. No media saturates 100% of your prospect base. It’s good to cover as many bases as you can afford.

What this data should determine, though, is the priority order in your advertising budget. Actually, that hierarchy should be determined more by your internal data than by user statistics and audience size. If you’re polling your bidders at every auction and then tracking your offline & online media in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to tell which media work best for specific asset types in specific geographical locations.

I recently bet a client that, if their winning bidder came from one of a selection of out-of-state newspapers, I’d rebate all of my design fees. I wasn’t promising a bidder from Facebook. I just knew we could reach far more people and a much more targeted audience on the same spend, and I prefer efficient advertising over hail Mary throws. (They agreed.)

Most of the small business folks who object to my bullish stance on Facebook don’t have data to refute my assertions. They’re working off assumptions, anecdotal recollections, and their personal habits. (“I never get on my Facebook.”) Auctioneers who do test and measure and analyze have been moving more money to Facebook, Google, direct mail, and signs—away from newsprint.

I’m not telling you how or where to spend your money. I’m just letting you know that neither you nor I can trust our assumptions.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com
Chart linked to source.

1 “The Demographics of Social Media Users
Maeve Duggan, Pew Research Center. August 19, 2015.

2. “Facebook Passes 1.65 Billion Monthly Active Users, 54% Access the Service Only on Mobile
Emil Protalinski, Venture Beat.April 27, 2016.

3 “Here’s How Much Ad Time in NFL Games Costs Marketers This Season
Anthony Crupii, AdAge. September 15, 2015.

4 “Newspapers: Sunday Readership by Age
Pew Research Center

5 “Newspaper Fact Sheet
Michael Barthel, Pew Research Center, June, 2016.

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114: Scaring Your Competition

I recently had an email exchange with one of my clients who suspected that a former employee had not only taken their in-house mailing list with them to their next employer but had also given it to a third company.

In the auction industry, mailing list secrecy is a big deal. I regularly need to assure a client that I don’t share their lists with other companies. My mail production vendor trashes all address lists following each mailing to ensure something nefarious doesn’t happen. We respect that worry—even if I don’t understand it.

I’ve never once in 3,000± advertising campaigns had an auctioneer worry that their ad might be in the same publication as one or more from another auction company or real estate firm. Not once have I been told to avoid an asset-based listing website because other auctions or properties were being advertised there, too. Nobody seems concerned that there are other ads on the radio and TV.

So, it seems curious to me that we, as an industry, worry about sharing a mailbox with other auctioneers.

My advice to my client wasn’t about suing the former employee or sending a cease and desist letter. No, I wrote him something along the lines of, “Our job is to make them afraid to be in the same mailbox with us.”

Really, that’s our job in any medium: to have advertising that

  1. clearly communicates our message in the most efficient manner
  2. looks the most professional.

That’s not every auction company’s goal—or at least the end product. On days when I’m insecure about the value of what I bring to the table professionally, I look over to a stack of industry samples on my desk that illustrate what my clients’ competitors are putting in print publications and on direct mail pieces. (I subscribe to various auction company email blasts for the same reason.)

I would be out of work if the entire auction industry already

  1. showed restraint in the amount of content in their media,
  2. designed media for easy reading,
  3. took professional, high-resolution photographs,
  4. used larger pictures instead of a collage of small pictures,
  5. sold the asset first, the event second, and the company third, and
  6. crafted design templates and design guides.

Much of the industry doesn’t, though.

There is a cluster of companies who share the goal of raising the bar for what culture should expect from auction advertising. And, thankfully, some in that cluster hire me. They realize that they are competing against the marketplace, not just the rest of the auction industry. It does not matter whether our competition’s brochure is in the mail box with ours, because there’s a lot of other mail in that same mail box—mailed by companies who don’t care what the auction industry’s standards for design and communication are.

I find that a lot of auctioneers blame small budgets for the quality of their advertising. They don’t realize that many of the changes necessary to upgrade their advertising don’t cost much extra money, if any.

  1. Choosing a more readable font and higher-contrast text area costs nothing.
  2. Getting out of your vehicle to take real estate pictures takes only an extra few minutes.
  3. Cutting content for off-line advertising demands self-control but no debit or credit card.
  4. Changing the order of text in a document according to reader need requires minutes at most.
  5. Killing redundant information actually saves paper space and maybe even budget space.
  6. High-resolution images come from the toggle of a button on the same camera.

Regardless of whether your advertising arrives in mailboxes, on newspaper stands, in websites, or between sign posts, your content has competition. Are you confident it’s winning that competition? If not, what would need to change to be the best?

Taking it Personally

My competitive nature emerges awkwardly, especially at stop lights and around board games—and sadly, even in my marriage. I like to keep score. I like to measure my progress. I’m not kidding: I have graded every week on a numeric scorecard for years and saved the scores on an monthly average basis for year-to-year analysis. In college, I even did a poorly-supported research paper on whether Jesus was competitive, too.

For some reason, that competitive aggression is usually not the case at my morning basketball environment at the YMCA. I play with a a group of guys that have had various interactions with church and Jesus, and my goal with all of them is to leave them a touch closer to him than when they met me. While swearing is something I struggle to cut out of my daily vocabulary, on that court I find it easier to keep my speech clean. I rarely argue when someone else calls a foul, travel, double dribble, or out of bounds on me. In fact, at times, I’ve been asked, “What team are you on?”

It’s more than trying to be a nice guy. It’s more than being a jester. (When someone yells, “Shit!” I answer, “I already did this morning.” I’ll answer “Jesus!” with “Saves!”) It’s trying to be a good influence, a peacemaker, an ambassador.

While I’m often the one that calls out the score on the court—or at least asks what the score is, I’m finding a different way to view my time on and around the court.  I might never see the box score or even know how things are scored. It’s okay: heaven’s Sovereignty is never wrong and never needs instant replay.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

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