December 2011.

My 2012 Resolutions

The tradition of setting New Year resolutions has never been high on my to-do lists. However, due to the possible significance of this year and the need to post more blog content, I’ve decided to give it a shot. After a few seconds of serious thought, I’ve landed on these resolutions:

Blog two to three times a week to improve our firm’s SEO and business development activities.

Incorporate compelling CTAs on our blog page to execute upon our marketing communications strategy to capture qualified leads via the Internet.

Improve our Website’s organic search ranking by building in the right mix of key phases into each blog such strategic brand management, marketing strategy development and measured marketing.

See I’m trying. Unfortunately, the Message Meter programmed into the Compendium Blogware that we use and offer to our clients is telling me to write a paragraph without any key phases in this post. And now that I’ve done that, it’s telling me to increase my score by adding more keywords.

It’s a hard task master, but let’s try adding two more key phases…interactive Website design and direct marketing solutions. Nope, I’m still not there. This resolution stuff might be harder than I thought. Having the right mix of key phases to the word count in a post is tough.

Finally, that did it. The green bar in the Message Meter is happy. It says “good work, your post has a good number of keywords.” Great! Maybe I’ll be able to keep these resolutions after all.

Why not?

Do you see the way things are and ask why? Or, are you someone who sees what things can be and asks why not? Paraphrased from a statement made by JFK, great philosophies and beliefs like this are why the United States put men on the moon.

It’s one of the reasons why our firm is named Lunar Strategies. It’s why we come to work every day so we can put our thinking and energy into financial marketing solutions, healthcare marketing services and agriculture advertising that strives to differentiate our clients from organizations who only ask “why.”

It’s also why we don’t just focus on one area of the business. We pride ourselves on being students of a changing communications field so we can guide our clients with best practices and strategies. As we move into 2012, our field needs people who ask why not. All one has to do is look at the development and application of social media and mobile marketing to understand the need to see what the world can be.

That’s how we see it, apps and all.

Is direct mail dead?

Are the calls of direct mail facing extinction accurate or premature? Obviously email marketing programs, social media and mobile marketing strategies are having an impact. As a result, standard mail delivery has dropped by 20 percent since 2007.

We’re told that direct mail letters have been on a constant decline over the last 5 years. Email is cheaper, faster and generally gets a better response. Just look in your inbox, a number of company holiday cards have been replaced by Holiday eCards. Production and mailing costs has also kept contests or “junk mail” promotions to a minimum. Now you receive them as “spam” emails instead. And the desire to produce and mail beautiful full color catalogs is also declining. Online catalogs provide more information, color options and 360 degree views of products. Monster and other job sites have all but eliminated paper resumes. Mailing cover letters and resumes has been replaced by posting or submitting electronic ones. Yet, newsprint circulars and flyers are still one of the most effective forms of direct marketing and the one that supermarkets and big box retailers still use effectively.

While we find these claims to be plausible, our findings show they are greatly exaggerated. We continue to use and test direct mail with great success. As effective financial marketing solutions, we helped to grow the Sallie Mae Consolidation Division from $1.2 billion to $19.5 billion over a five year period. We tested variables from the verbiage to variable data to formats to the call-to-action/response path. Every quarter we set up test cells and evaluated letters, envelopes, snap-paks, etc. In another service industry, healthcare marketing services, we segmented audiences, crafted targeted messaging and pushed for a strong incentive offer with two recent direct mail campaigns for Franciscan St. Francis Health. We also tested letters verses die-cut mailers and different creative via over-sized postcards. The reported results are exceeding the client’s objectives.

What makes us bristle is when clients or prospects say that “direct mail doesn’t work.” Our immediate questions range from: Was it really the direct mail piece or the mailing list, offer or creative? When testing is not part of the performance metrics, who is to say for sure?

In today’s competitive environment, the decline in standard mail delivery is offering new opportunities to get your direct mail piece opened. From demographics to mailing lists, audience segmentation to relevant messaging, call-to-actions and offers to creative formats, we work with our clients to develop each element as well as the test cells and performance metrics to apply to the direct marketing solutions and future direct marketing strategies. It’s how we prove that direct mail works and how to use it to generate a lift in response rates and revenue.

1. The new solution for digital apps and print is a 3-D logo, but your logo is as flat as the economy.

2. As a new millennial brand identity design, your logo’s orbits or swoops are caught in a time warp and are being pulled into a black hole.

3. The color palette for your logo was a popular design choice for hotel rooms in 1980.

4. The sky is blue and the Earth is mostly water so that’s why a majority of corporate logos must be blue.

5. Your logo is green and has nothing to do with the environment or the eco movement.

6. The logotype is Times Roman.

7. You had no idea that major corporations like AT&T, Apple, McDonalds and Prudential have modified their logos overtime to keep with the times.

8. More and more of your customers and stakeholders are asking, “What is it?”

9. A second cousin on your dad’s side created it.

10. Just look at it, it’s ugly.

All joking aside, when was the last time you took a good hard look at your logo? Over the years, logos can tarnish and struggle against the times and competition. Maybe it’s time you consider investing in a new brand identity design. As a strategic branding firm, we have assisted a variety of organizations with logo designs and logo makeovers. Whether your logo needs to be updated or completely overhauled, our brand strategists will walk you through the process. We start by assessing the need, competitive space and overall value as well as understanding your brand marketing strategy and determining core requirements before any design solutions are ever developed or shared. Or if you prefer, you can order a new logo design online for cheap and make my next “Top 10”; list.

If this is an ongoing question within your organization, then let’s make a quick business case for blogging.

Customers who read blog postings tend to skew toward first-time readers by an 80 percent margin, so there’s a greater chance to secure them as a new lead and convert them into a new customer.

That’s a good reason, but here’s another one. The reason most social media guidelines and digital marketing strategies include blogs as a best practice.

Blogs improve SEO and the click-through rate to your Web site. How? The keywords and key phases crafted into purposely written blogs work with Google’s search algorithm to increase your site’s listing on the organic side of the search engine results page. That’s why our clients blog. Not to build a following, but to build their site’s search listing on the first page. They know that the organic side is prime real estate because the click-through rate is significantly greater than any pay-per-click listing.

So if the Internet is a key part of your marketing communication strategy then blogging is worth the investment.