evelyn.a.chapin

Thoughts on Implementing Digital Marketing

In Brand Insight, Digital Marketing on January 14, 2010 at 1:56 am

Yesterday I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that I’ve been thinking about ever since. The article, “Firms Hold Fast to Snail Mail Marketing,” seemed to take a few cases of small businesses that switched to digital marketing from direct mail as a cost saving measure only to regret it down the road because it ultimately cost them sales.
However, when I read the case studies I did not see a failing on the part of digital marketing but on the implementation of their digital marketing strategies. Below I’ve gone through a little exercise using the examples provided in the article to show how I think these companies could use digital marketing to enhance their unique relationship with their clients. I also want to illustrate digital marketing as a tool to use not a fad to be feared.

Case One: Per Annum Inc.
Per Annum Inc. sells city diaries and planners mainly to businesses who use them as coroporate gifts.

  • Old strategy: They spent $20,000 on personally signed direct mailers that provide a discount for early orders.
  • New strategy: Switched to sending these offers via e-mail.
  • Problem: Had a 25% drop in early orders.
  • Insight: Customers inquired why they never received their “reminder” in the mail.
  • Current strategy: They returned to their original direct mailer.
  • My thoughts:
    The key insight is their customers viewed the direct mailer as a reminder not just a coupon. Per Annum’s niche relationship with their clients was one of the trustworthy mom who leaves out reminders for all the chores that need to be done. I feel this could still be done with digital marketing but Per Annum will have to embrace their role as mom and ease their clients through the transition. Directness and speed are the advantanges of email for their clients. This transition can be done by offering both the direct mailer and the email for a few cycles to see if clients change their ordering behavior as well as who changes and who does not. All the clients should have to do to order through the e-mail is press a button and choose whether they’re making a new order or re-newing a past order.

    Ultimately Per Annum has to communicate the way their clients prefer but by doing it simultaneously for a bit you can gather data on ordering preferences. Maybe the clients responsible for the 25% drop share a need for direct mailer reminders that their other clients do not have. If Per Annum could segment their clients by how they prefer to order Per Annum could devise a marketing strategy that incorporates both direct and digital. Not sending direct mailers to everyone should cut costs for Per Annum and make each client feel personally cared for, just like mom always does.

    Case Two: Executive Perils
    Executive Perils is a wholesale insurance broker in Los Angeles, CA.

  • Old Strategy: Spent $4,000 every 4- to 6-weeks on humorous postcards that parodied famous movie posters but was relevant to the insurance business.
  • New strategy: Stopped sending postcards. The article doesn’t mention what they did instead.
  • Insight: Customers called and emailed wondering why they were taken off the mailing list. In other words, they missed getting the postcards. Some clients display these postcards in their offices as art!
  • Current strategy: They’ve re-started the postcard mailings and even have video parodies in the works for YouTube.
  • My thoughts:
    Humor, art, and exclusivity seem to define the unique relationship between Executive Perils (EP) and their clients. The only reason EP knew they made a mistake was because their clients missed them so much they emailed and called to demand back on the mailing list! I think the humorous postcard campaign is one to definitely continue. Where I think digital marketing and social media could enhance their campaign is by involving their adoring fans into the process more.

    Maybe EP could have a website devoted to their postcard campaign where they can display past winners and allow clients to offer ideas for future movie parodies. Sort of how Threadless encourages their community to contribute and vote on t-shirt designs, except instead of paying the contributer EP could offer other incentives related to their insurance business.

    For inspiration and a good laugh check out Golub Capital’s funny marketing materials!

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