Thursday, July 30, 2009

A cautionary email tale - Try to learn from this mistake

I received an email the other day and I felt really bad for the marketing people at VECCIwho'd sent it.
You see, they'd set up their html email as a large image, instead of a combination of text AND images.
And these days, anyone running Office 2007 has the 'default setting' of images being blocked unless you choose to download them. [You can of course change this setting, but I don't see too many people who either (a) have or (b) really know how too!]

Which means in the case of this particular email, where it's one big image, the only thing a recipient will see unsubscribe message! Not really what they're going for, especially as an increasing proportion of people, weighed down with too many emails, are unsubscribing from email marketing lists these days.

This situation could have been avoided if they'd sent both text AND images in the massage. Whilst the images will still be initially blocked, you'll still get the core of the message across, allowing the recipient to decide if they'll download the images - and see the message in all its glory, just as the hard working marketer intended.

So in the "zero budget" vein of making sure everything you do is optimised, this is a cautionary tale of how not to do email marketing.

I'd strongly advise against having too much of your message in images - especially if you're sending to a business prospect or customer where the majority of people are running Office software. Yes, some people will see it as you intended, but a distressingly large proportion of people will just ignore your message, or worse, click that easy to spot unsubscribe link.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Woo a little before expecting something in return!

Now "wooing" is standard practice when looking for love, but for some reason we forget these sort of simple rules when looking for customers. We want them to "buy now" and "act now" - so that we're essentially asking for commitment before they've even met us. And when customers are in cautious buying mode, as they are in the economy, this sort of strategy is even more risky.

So if you're looking for a "new relationship" with a customer, be prepared to do a little wooing first. Don't make their first steps with you ones that will cost them this will ultimately cost you MORE money as they're less likely to actually buy anything.

I saw a great example of wooing in action in an online campaign by career one. (The original is actually an animation, so you see about 5 screens, but you'll get the gist from these couple of screen shots.)
What is smart about this campaign is that it's tapping into something many people in their thirties and forties are feeling: Am I on the right path? Is this the right job for me? What else could I be doing to feel more fulfilled?
Then it's getting people involved with the career one brand, without asking them to spend any money on an advertisement or post their resume on a site. But it will be building their database, as you'd need to input your email no doubt to get a result.
So it's also giving something away - a "free" assessment of whether you're in the right job - and in return is getting a name (and some prospect profiling). Thus, it's laid some solid groundwork from which to build that ongoing relationship.
Whilst this campaign is obviously not zero budget, that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from it. If you're in the business of selling a service, you'd be able to replicate an offer like this, and what you'd be spending is your time. You could then promote it via your existing communications channels - your website, your database, your staff, you're various social networking channels.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Are you using the right words?

Words can be immensely powerful little buggers. Finding the "right" word can mean winning prose and hugely successful marketing copy. The wrong word can be mediocrity and zero sales.

Too often we don't spend enough time finding the right words AND we forget to check back in on our copy and make sure the words we've chosen are actually singing for their supper.

I was reminded of this yesterday when looking at visitors to various pages on an event website I'm managing. I had one of the main header/menu options as "sponsors". Once you got to that page, you also learned the sponsors were also going to be exhibitors.

Looking at the low traffic to this page, I realised my fatal mistake. I was thinking in terms of words from my perspective, not my audience's perspective.

The audience (conference attendees) is not really interested in who's sponsoring the event. But they ARE interested in who'll be exhibiting, because this directly affects them.

So with this BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) I changed the menu item. And watched the visits to the page DOUBLE today. (Yes, and smacked my head for taking so long to get it!).

[Added 1 August: You may be interested to know that I kept and eye on this and last week got TRIPLE the visitors to this page compared to the week before I changed it from 'sponsors' to exhibitors.]

Now I have much better results to report to my other audience - the sponsors - and the conference attendees now more about the event they'll be attending.

So have you done an audit lately of your website - or other communications vehicles lately - and ensured they're written for the right audience? Just a page here and there so it's not too daunting a task.

This happened to me again recently, when I made the change on a menu item of another client's website. We switch from the common but vague "What we do" to "Why choose us". Now it's more about the visitor than the website owner. Small change, big impact.

So it's a lesson worth learning over. And over. And over.

It won't cost you anything, so it's very "zero budget marketing". And you will find that a LITTLE tweak here and there will can make a BIG difference in the way your communications are speaking to your audience.

So repeat after me: "It's all about them, not all about you!"

Then maybe it will sink in for all of us :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why asking questions will win you business

I always say that networking is a long term investment. You stay in touch for a whole bunch of reasons, not least of which you keep some great people in your life. But rarely do you get an "instant win". But it does happen. And when times are tough, perhaps the best way to uncover rare opportunities is to speak to as many people as possible, as often as possible.
I'll give you two recent examples of this in action. The first generated over $100k in business and the second, well, I'll let you know.

Example one. I was out for drinks early in the year at Riverland in Melbourne with my partner and a friend of his over from the UK. The UK friend brought another friend and it turns out the boys all knew each other from the "old days" at a major tech company. Anyway, I did what I usually do on meeting knew people - ask questions to get to know them, try and find common ground to make for an interesting conversation. So I was chatting to the local friend and he was telling me how he was about to move to the UK, leaving his current job which was very busy. I asked some more questions. His current job was as CFO at a major sporting organisation. I asked some more questions. Turns out they had been implementing this major software project and were unhappy with the current vendor for the next stage of the project, so were stressed out looking for another vendor. I asked a few more questions. Long story short, my partner's company offered what they needed. I told him, his people talked to their people and a couple of months of contract negotiations later, both parties had been helped out and they were in business. (Sadly, I didn't get a commission on the sale, but we did get a very nice dinner out on my partner's employer!)

Example two: I have two days a week available that I use to work on marketing or event client work that's project based. My current project ( Professional eBay Sellers Alliance conference - bet you didn't know they existed!) finishes up mid August. For once, I didn't have something immediate in the wings. So I decided to tap into my network. I caught up with a few friends, over a few drinks (yes, bars do seem to be a recurring theme, networking has more than one upside!) and asked if they knew anyone who needed marketing or events assistance. Inside of two weeks, I had was not only updated on my friend's lives, I had a meeting set about some new work that could run till April next year.

I have yet to have the meeting, but even if I don't suit the opportunity, it's a great case in point of my favourite mantra....IF YOU DONT ASK, YOU WONT GET. Ask a lot of questions in conversations and best case scenario, you'll learn more about the person you're conversing with, enjoy a sense of connection and maybe discover something new.

So whilst times are tough in this (dare I say it) GFC, that doesn't mean there is no opportunities to be had, no income to to be earned, no business to be won. It just means you may have to try harder to get it AND tap into the people you already know (your network) to identify those many hidden opportunities.

[Added 1 August: Thought you might like to know I got the new client, as mentioned in example 2, always handy when you're own examples pan out!]

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Have you checked out Mumbrella?

Ok, so I got to this site a bit late, but now that I know, you know. Go check out "Mumbrella - Everything under Australia's media and marketing umbrella."

Great range of content, good links to various blogs and stories and best of all, you get to read it for FREE. It's sooo Zero Budget Marketing and you might learn something! :)