Know Your Audience

‎"We advertisers must take the world as we find it. Our business is to win people, not to make them over." - Claude C. Hopkins

Claude C. Hopkins is considered by many as the father of Direct Marketing, the “reason why” copy style, and marketing analytics. Over 120 years ago he ignited what is considered the true first “creative revolution”—long before Bill Bernbach, and Digital agencies—by positing that advertising was “salesmanship on paper”.

Hopkins believed that advertising agencies needed to absorb the culture and habits of their audience, learn their “language”, and communicate with them in a way that wins them over with familiarity. In the late 1800s this was revolutionary.

Today there is much debate as to the future of advertising and marketing. Will digital and social kill traditional media? Are we on the verge of another creative revolution? Is mass marketing over? We’ll leave that to the business pundits and industry watchers to sort out, but the fact remains that success in our business is dependent on a notion that transcends all media: know your audience.

In Hopkins’ time, magazine ads were considered “new media”. And they were—the idea of placing ads in magazines was considered lowbrow, because the publications were literary outlets, supported solely by subscribers and their interest in the content. So people like Hopkins (and Albert Lasker, J. Walter Thompson himself, and many others) turned their focus to the audience, and crafted their communication and style appropriately.

By focusing on the audience they were trying to reach, the new strategies for developing effective creative in magazine ads revealed themselves. Hopkins was a true believer in communication with context—magazine readers reacted differently to ads than newspaper readers because of context. In the early 20th century, selling soap in a magazine such as Harpers required a different approach than selling that same soap in handbills, circulars, outdoor signage, and especially newspapers. Knowing your audience and knowing why they read magazines, or newspapers, or neither, was key to taking a big idea and communicating it effectively.

The same is true today. At The Weinstein Organization we approach every project with our focus on the audience first. What we might do in a direct mail piece is not necessarily what we would do in an email campaign. The message may be the same, but the audience and the context are far different. And when you know your audience you will know what to say, how to say it, and when.

Marketing agencies that worry about so-called new media and its supposed “threat” to our industry are focusing on the wrong aspect of our business. It’s all about the audience, not the media. If you know your audience, you will know what to do regardless of the media. And it’s been that way for over 100 years.


“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” But Saturdays are a different story.

(originally posted on Friday, April 2, 2010)

For some time now, the United States Postal Service has seen their revenues decline. With the rise of email, and internet downloads of documents, their simple business model of paid postal delivery is dwindling, and the idea of the relentless and determined mailman has been reduced to a quaint notion from another era.

Even social and mobile media has affected their business, by changing the way we correspond. Think about it: nobody has pen pals anymore, they have social networks. Nobody needs to mail family photos to Grandma; now they can just upload digital pics to her Facebook wall, or electronically send them straight to a digital frame display on her coffee table. And when was the last time you mailed a postcard from vacation? There’s an iPhone app for that too.

The USPS cannot continue to raise postage rates anymore to decrease their operating deficit, because that will only exacerbate the problem. Nobody spends more money on old technology if they have other options. You can pay your bills on line, and even receive a coupon directly from a retailer right on your mobile phone, so even the most routine utilities of postal delivery are becoming obsolete.

The only thing the USPS has deemed a viable option is to enact a 16% reduction in service by eliminating Saturdays.

So if the USPS ends their Saturday street delivery service in 2011 as they are attempting to do (pending approval by Congress), how will it affect you? How will it affect your business.


What Would Richard Sears Have Thought Of The Internet?

(originally posted on Wednesday, March 10, 2010)

Last night CNBC ran a terrific biography on Sears, Roebuck and Co. This all-American company began as the farmer’s alternative to the high prices at their local general store, by offering lower prices on everything they’d ever need from Sears’ 500-page mail order catalog.

The first Sears catalog was published in 1888 and by 1906 it was considered “the consumers bible”, selling everything from clothes, refrigerators, stoves and groceries, to sewing machines, bicycles, sporting goods, automobiles, and even houses.

Virtually everything a consumer needed could be found in the Sears catalog, and the mail-order business thrived for decades. Most people don’t realize that Sears, Roebuck and Company didn’t open up their first brick-and-mortar store until 1925, by which time they were already the largest retailer in the world.

What is fascinating to think about is that Sears’ business started out as sort of the “dot-com” of its era. No storefront, no salespeople, just a catalog that showed up in the mail that offered everything you could ever want. And the merchandise was shipped right to your door.

There was no internet, Facebook, Twitter, or viral videos—there wasn’t even radio when the first Sears catalog came out. But it was an immediate success because Richard Sears built his business on some very basic principals: offer the customer anything they could want, at a price they can afford, and make it easy for them to get their merchandise. Add to that a money back guarantee and the best possible customer service (via postal correspondence!), and Sears was able to retain customers and boost their loyalty for generations.

Sears didn’t start out with a brand concept or a media plan or a Twitter strategy. He started out with a great idea, and the business spread “virally” by word of mouth. From farmer to farmer, the catalog was borrowed, browsed, and ordered from. And every new order added a new family’s name and address to the Sears “database” (they called it a customer list back then—how quaint!).

The point we are making is this: e-commerce, social media, email, mobile apps, and viral videos are great, modern marketing vehicles. But they are not ideas. Everything Richard Sears did in the 1880s is exactly the same thing marketers should be doing today. The only difference is how the marketing message gets delivered.


Email Marketing-The Perfect Compliment To Direct Mail

(originally posted on Thursday, January 21, 2010)

Looking for a cost-effective way to reach your customers without sacrificing maximum impact? Interested in opening a new, alternative channel of communication with an existing customer without being redundant? You should consider email marketing.

"Email ad spending will jump to $677 million in 2011, from $492 million in 2008."--eMarketer, "Social Media and E-Mail Spending to Rise"
www.emarketer.com

E-mail marketing is an efficient way to provide timely updates, and beneficial promotional information to your customers. Designed to encourage and prompt the recipients to take immediate action--buy, download, sign-up, or direct them to the nearest store location.

Besides offering a unique creative palate for direct marketing solutions, the benefits of a well-integrated email marketing component as part of your overall strategy are numerous:

1. Inexpensive - no postage costs

2. Multi-Channel Strategy - complements all components of your strategy

3. Measurable - analyze results: open rates, click-thrus, and conversion rates

4. Easy To Test - try multiple offers, introduce a product before rolling out

5. Targeted - segment your audience and vary messages for each recipient

6. Top-of-Mind - keeps your company name and contact info in front of customers while generating awareness about new products and services

7. Builds Relationships - often resulting in customer loyalty and trust

8. Increases Credibility - increases awareness and brandishes image as industry expert with timely news and valuable tips

9. Quick Turnaround - perfect for communicating time-sensitive information

10. Immediate Action - sales, downloads, inquiries, and registrations instantly

At The Weinstein Organization we've been integrating email marketing within our clients' overall marketing campaigns for several years, and the results have been impressive to say the least. For more on how cost-efficient email marketing can complement your direct marketing efforts, contact your TWO account representative today.