TWO TIP: When Not To Mail

When there's a close presidential election, a national or global catastrophe — any big event or crisis — people stray from daily habits to keep up with the news. They stay glued to web news sites, TV and radio.

Direct mail and e-mail go unread as more arrive daily. After things return to normal, people eliminate clutter by throwing away unopened standard mail and purging email inboxes. Response rates suffer.

You can't predict horrible events like war or political assassinations. But you should pull the plug at the lettershop and pause e-mail tests until the crisis passes.


Marketing Trends and Opportunities in 2011

We are now a full year into the second decade of the 21st century, and most would agree that the marketing industry—and consumer behavior—is vastly different than 10 years ago. But many of the evolutions of the last decade are now maturing, and becoming structures of the “new normal”.

Just as nobody could imagine social networking, search, and on-line media dominating the conversation, it’s hard to predict what we will be writing about 10 years from now. However, there are some things we see coming in 2011 that will affect our business and create new marketing opportunities. Here are some of the significant trends we predict will have an impact on marketing:

1. Email Marketing Goes Social

In espionage the M.O. is to always “follow the money”, but in marketing we need to “follow the audience”. According to Marketing Sherpa 90% of consumers now turn to social networks, user review sites, and on-line forums to learn more about the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That’s not a threat to marketing—it’s an implicit invitation to become a part of the conversation.

We’ve found great success in the integration of email marketing and social network sharing because it mimics the natural human behavior of word of mouth. And nothing is a better endorsement these days than Facebook’s “like” icon next to someone’s posting of an email offer they received.

2. Search, Expanded and Re-Defined

Yahoo, Google, and Bing in the US, as well as China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex, rule the world when it comes to search engines. And Search Engine Marketing is an essential part of any modern, comprehensive marketing strategy. But now Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer their own unique forms of search based on how someone uses them.

Consumers search their social networks for answers because they are viewed as trustworthy and local. More than 30% of consumers poll their Facebook friends for information on everything from clothes to cars to contractors, and typically compare this information to what they find on a search engine. You can enter a product category in the YouTube search bar and find instructional videos, commercials, and testimonials in the form of user-generated content for virtually everything. This signals that marketers need to make sure they continue promoting themselves consistently on multiple platforms. It’s not enough to make sure that your web site is optimized to rise to the first page of a Google search anymore. It’s also vital to rise to the top of peoples’ minds, and that can best be achieved with media integration.

For more traditional media like direct mail, print, TV and out-of-home, we view on-line media as reliable and effective partners in extending our clients’ presence to portals where this kind of “personal search” activity exists.

3. Personalization—The Un-Mass Marketing

One-to-one marketing has come of age, and consumers are responding. What was once the domain of Direct Mail and Email, personalization is now everywhere, and it is much more than just a matter of addressing your audience by name. Websites, social networks, and smart phones are configured to serve targeted ads based on a user’s behavior. Using information such as referring URLs, search terms, click-thrus, and geo-location marketers can offer advertising messages that are tailored to the individual.

And while this does fan the flames of privacy issues and fears that big-brother is watching, consumers by and large don’t consider relevant marketing messages to be “spam”. The key to success in personalization is in differentiating your customer as well as the product or service you are offering. Nobody wants to be thought of as part of a mass audience, so we’re using techniques that are more like the conversations between salespeople and customers in a store.

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The Marketing Industry is going through a revolution comparable to the “Creative Revolution” of the 1960s. With a plethora of new technology that opens the door to new ways of communicating, this is a very exciting time. We can only imagine what this newsletter will report on in 2021, but until then there’s lot’s of innovating to do.


Ode to Server and a Happy Thanksgiving

We have much to be thankful for. Our staff, clients, vendors, friends and family, and extra long weekends on national holidays.

On this Thanksgiving Day we give thanks to the one who never stops working.

The one who can launch a 1.2 million-email campaign, update a Facebook status, and tweet about it all at the same time.

While directing phone calls and internet communications data over miles of circuitry.

The one who makes it possible for us to go home and sleep at night (well, maybe not the folks in IT).

Doing the heroic work of many, in total anonymity.

Sitting in a cramped, cold, windowless office. Usually with the lights off.

So while we digest our well-earned Thanksgiving harvest, let us think of

the one who keeps on at it, even while the office is "closed for the holiday".

Who even has the tortured indignity to aid and abet the publishing of this very blog entry.

We thank you, we raise our glasses to you in honor.

To the Server of The Weinstein Organization: we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks indeed.


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.