In 2015, I made the biggest decision of my professional career to pursue my Executive MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. It was almost two years of attending class every other weekend while trying to balance my job, personal life and a recent move to Austin. It was the hardest, most exhausting, most rewarding thing I have done in both my professional and personal lives. As a reflection, in this week’s blog, I want to share some of the most important lessons I learned in business school. You will note, there are no financial equations or statistical models to follow. For good reason, while we learn those things, those are not the things that are “sticky” when it comes to becoming a better leader and executive. It’s the “sticky” that separates us between being number crunchers or tomorrow’s leaders.
NEW ALBANY, Ind.—New Albany High School Guidance Counselor, Mary Beth Hackman, spent the week of June 12th at L & D Mail Masters working hand-in-hand with employees to learn the ins and outs of some non-traditional jobs. Hackman got hands on to learn how L & D Mail Masters creates marketing campaigns from start to finish in her own backyard.
I am currently waiting for a package I need before next week. So, of course, I check the tracking number every day hoping it is one step closer to my doorstep. I know I’m not the only one. I also know packages aren’t the only thing we are checking for. Sometimes you’re waiting for that letter, that statement or that check to grace your mailbox’s presence. So, the United States Postal Service has implemented a new service to show you what’s coming before you even get to the mailbox. It is called Informed Delivery.
In last week’s blog we took you down memory lane, as we revisited the marketing eras that led us to the current state of marketing: the social marketing era. Over time, technology has played a major role in the way businesses market their services and products. This has left marketers with more things to keep up with now than ever before. The opportunities in 2017 in the direct mail world are rich, and it’s worth every second of a headache the modern marketer may come down with during the workday. Here are reasons the modern marketer is considered both an artist and a scientist:
Oh, the places marketers will go! Have you ever sat and pondered on how far marketing has come? Pro tip: Only think on this while doing some light cardio; otherwise your legs may fall asleep. It’ll take a while to travel the distance marketing has voyaged over the past one-hundred years. The evolution is remarkable, because it’s taken us from the trade era in the 19th century and brought us here: to the social/marketing era. One that provides enriching opportunity to all businesses. It’s the era of the 24-hour news cycle, with real-time client interaction. So, they say, “To know where you’ve been is to know where you’re going.” Here are the eras of marketing that have resulted in a wealth of opportunity we have in today’s marketing world.
It has been through the ringer. “It won’t outlast the fax machine,” they said. “It won’t outlast the world wide web,” they said. “It certainly has no chance against email,” they said. Here we are in the direct mail world, still standing. In fact, direct mail is growing. Brands that once strayed away are reconnecting with direct mail to reengage customers. One in particular: shoe retailer Johnston & Murphy. The retailer is using transactional data to send pieces to their customers who have spent over $1,000 in the past. They aren’t the only ones. Ecommerce companies are using the power of direct mail to attract new customers. To sum it up, new technologies are joining forces with direct mail to impact return on investments.
"I can’t wait to graduate!” It’s the agonizing thought every college student has, until that student actually enters the “real world.” Instantly, many want to go back to those days in college where bills are light and attendance is only mandatory on test days. Let’s make it clear, we’re not here to be pessimistic. You’ve achieved a huge accomplishment and reached another tremendous milestone in your life as you switched your tassel from the right side to the left. And life after commencement is nothing to be afraid of…if you’re well-prepared! So, to the college graduates here are four lessons we’ve compiled to help the transition be as smooth as it possibly can.
I received my “1 Year of Service” pendent from L & D Mail Masters on Tuesday. What a difference one year can make! Like many, one year and one month ago, I thought direct mail was dead. My less mature self, figured e-mail and digital marketing were the way of the new world. Oh, what I’ve learned in just twelve short months. I did not know anything about the mail world when I took the job at L & D Mail Masters, but lack of knowledge has never stopped me before. (As a journalist, researching is the key to a successful career!) So, here I was a stranger to the direct mail world ready to find out how snail mail remains relevant. Here are the top 5 lessons I learned in my first year as a Social Media Content Creator in the direct mail marketing industry:
“The most exciting two minutes in sports” is just two days away. While hundreds of thousands prepare to attend Thurby, Oaks and Derby Day, we have compiled the top three marketing lessons we’ve learned from the Kentucky Derby.
Who would blatantly ignore something that is mutually beneficial to both the employee and the business? The probable answer: no one! For the employee, cross-training makes you more valuable to the company than you could imagine. For the company, cross-training should be looked at as your “back-up plan.” Cross-training can be so much more than that, too. At a time when employees are more restless than ever—according to a Gallup survey, 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs—the idea of getting your feet wet in other areas of the company is helping retention rates all over the country.
So you received a sales lead and you’ve tried to follow it. AND, you tried again. In your mind nothing is happening: voicemails have gone unanswered, e-mails have been ignored and your drop-in ended with the receptionist telling you she’ll pass the message along. Now, you’re left wondering how many times do I try to follow up on a lead? According to SiriusDecisions, it takes on average between 8 and 12 attempts to reach prospects by phone. So, about 10 tries is the minimum amount of times to attempt before readjusting your approach. Here’s the plan: Don’t give up after those 12 tries.
How’s your Outlook Calendar looking for the next few months? Full of tradeshows and conferences? I know ours is. We are currently prepping for a hand-full of shows and we’ve already attended a few. If you didn’t know, tradeshow season is in full swing! But, there’s no need to feel anxious or overwhelmed about which branded promotional product your company should order and hand out. We have done the research for you by compiling a list of five products that are sure to steal the show at your next tradeshow.
Contrary to some beliefs, direct mail is not dead. And, yes, being that we are a direct mail marketing firm we are “supposed” to say that. But, think about it. People spend more time sifting through physical mailers rather than e-mails. Throwing e-mails away is an easy click and delete, while mailings—you go through them and read before making the final decision to throw it away. I’m sure you know the phrase: numbers don’t lie. Here are fourteen statistics that prove direct mail is one of your best marketing choices in 2017!
So your brackets are all penciled in or your ESPN Tournament Challenge app is complete with the two teams you think will square off in Phoenix on April 3rd. The thrilling season of March Madness is finally upon us. While, its evident March Madness is all about basketball and competition, it can also be about the direct mail and marketing industries. According to vox.com, an estimated 40 million people now fill out brackets, betting $9 billion in total. Anything can happen in March. You don’t necessarily have to know basketball to guess who might take home the NCAA National Championship trophy in April. (See: “Cinderella” teams) If you have a bracket, you instantly become a part of the conversation at home, at restaurants and at work. That conversation is what makes it ideal for brands to use March Madness as leverage for direct mail and direct marketing campaigns over these next several weeks.
“International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”
Will you challenge bias and inequality against women? Campaign against violence? Forge women’s advancement? Celebrate women’s achievement? Or champion women’s education on this International Women’s Day? The mission is to be #BeBoldForChange! We, at L & D Mail Masters, would like to celebrate women’s achievements today. One woman in particular: President of L & D Mail Masters—Diane Fischer. To us, she’s a role model for entrepreneurial women all over the world. Thirty years ago in 1986, Fischer took on the daunting task of starting a woman-owned business after she refused to be pushed into secretarial roles by her male colleagues.
Muffled noise. Hi. Hello. Can everyone see me/hear me/see my screen okay? Great! Let’s get started.
Ah, the familiar sounds of the start of a conference call or as your luck would have it, this week’s blog on remote working. Businesses from forward-thinking companies have begun to recognize the demands for and benefits from offering flexibility in remote working. A Gallup survey released last week revealed that 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. That is an increase of four percent since 2012. Remote working in some capacity has been on L & D Mail Masters’ radar for some time now, and we’re still working to find the right range of opportunity.
The grind of work and life sometimes gets in the way of showing gratitude for our employees. This is leaving companies with higher turnover rates than desired. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, one of the main reasons people voluntarily leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. Insert: Employee Appreciation Day! A day dedicated to our employees, the ones who make our companies go round and the ones who are our company’s biggest brand ambassadors. According to Tinyhr, only 21% of employees feel strongly valued. Let’s change that on March 3, 2017. Here are six ways you can show appreciation for your employees:
As time goes on, technology advances. We’re passed the point of still photos. We’re living in the times of videos and animations. According to Forbes, video content will represent 74% of all Internet traffic this year. Videos take the lead in marketing because viewers are able to visually understand specific topics now more than ever before. Videos play up to our emotional marketing triggers. Here are three characteristics we possess that make video the most relevant option on social media.
You may not be an Atlanta Falcons fan, a New England Patriots fan or even a sports fan, but chances are you’ll probably be tuned in to Super Bowl LI on Sunday evening. Maybe it’s to see Lady Gaga’s halftime performance or because you’re attending a party to socialize. For many of us marketers, though, we’re tuning in to view the most anticipated commercials of the year. The average brand spends $5 million on a commercial spot during the Super Bowl. According to NewsCred, “The average rate for a 30-second spot has increased 75% over the past decade with brands investing over $4.2M for a 30-second ad.” Many of you are like us—your jaw drops and you think “I wish,” when it comes to spending that much money on one television marketing spot. So, you’re left to come up with creative ways to capitalize on Super Bowl LI without spending Super Bowl LI money. Here are five lessons we can learn from Super Bowl campaigns:
Tweets, Facebook statuses, snaps, YouTube clips and Instagram posts are everywhere. In this New World, it takes seconds for a screen grab to go viral. This is a blessing and a curse for social media users. For business execs, it’s tempting to get your brand on every single platform just to say you have an account. The problem is, you don’t want to just exist on these sites. You have to participate and, most importantly, appeal to your target audience. Social media platforms have proven they are here to stay. They also contribute substantially to the user’s buyer decision; check this stat out: “50% of shoppers have made a purchase based on a recommendation through a social media network.” So, yes, there is great power in social media, but understanding how to navigate and create content effectively is key.
For many, the space is still new and to some it’s still flat out foreign. Having thoughts like: “Which platform do I get on?” “Who do I target?” “How do I even use it?” It can be quite intimidating, but first thing is first—you must find out which sites the key playmakers in your industry use. Take a look at L & D Mail Masters. We reside on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The realization that our market is not on Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest saves us time and money. That’s our hope for you: to find the platforms that will be beneficial and stick with them.
Having a specific target audience, so your efforts don’t fall on deaf ears is important, but so is developing content that attracts those in your specific industry. If you’re in the direct mail marketing industry, nine times out of ten you want to write about things in the direct mail industry. Are you a marketing firm? Write about marketing trends and what marketers want to soak in. How to get those read? It’s all about search engine optimization (SEO). According to ImForza, 93% of the online experience starts with the search engine. Having a blog with no plan on capitalizing on SEO is like getting to the free throw line and missing the extra point. If you spend time creating good content, make sure people see it! Trending topics and hash-tags throw tremendous assists to you when you’re trying to score new followers. In the SEO field, though, knowing what keywords your perspective end user searches in Google is essential. Try to hit some of those keywords in every blog a few times. Google suggests you use them in the first 200 words, as they hold more weight when used at the top of your blog.
A combination of SEO and your presence on the right social media channels will empower your digital marketing like no other. According to HubSpot, 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online. Perfect that content to attract a following which, in return, will increase your ROI. Don’t be intimidated. It’s all about research, and remember social media is not going anywhere any time soon!
Oh yeah, and if you hadn’t noticed video matters! According to HubSpot, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. We’ll be writing a follow-up blog on video marketing, so stay tuned for that.
I love color and I always look forward to the new colors that fashion designers introduce each year with the release of their Spring line. What will the new black be this year? These colors will carry through to home décor as well. As a graphic designer, I will have fun adding a pop of the new Spring colors to my work. Thanks to the Pantone Color Institute.
Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2017 is brought to us straight from the fashion runways. Since the 1990s, the Pantone Color Institute (in conjunction with New York Fashion Week) has released the Fashion Color Report. The report comprises the top ten most-seen colors on the fashion runways. In the upcoming year, the Fashion Color Report will influence trends in all facets of design—architecture, interior décor, fashion, print advertising etc. I call this the “trickle-down effect”. Fashion designers choose the new it colors for the upcoming season. Then, interior designers use these colors for the latest furnishings, paint colors and home décor. Advertisers and marketers in return bring these colors to life as they add them to the freshest designs that appeal to their audience.
L & D Mail Masters has officially wrapped up another You Choose We Donate Holiday Campaign. With your help, four non-profits will receive a donation check in the coming weeks. User votes determined the percentage of donation money that would be given to each of the four non-profits. We’d say that 2016 was a tremendous success; we had a 30% overall response rate.
Each year we choose four non-profit clients to take part in our You Choose We Donate Campaign. This year we chose: Baptist Health Foundation, The Center for Women and Families, Indiana University Southeast, and New Albany-Floyd County Education Foundation. With 47.28% of the total votes, The Center for Women and Families will receive the largest percentage of the donation money. However, everyone is a winner. The other three non-profits will receive checks.
Yes, it’s that motto again; the one that we, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbors have coined as the countdown on December 31st plays out: “New Year, new me”. While some roll their eyes at your new-found dedication to being the best you, the idea of changing some ways, perfecting others and working on your most positive self is only for the betterment of you. So, our advice: do it! Each year we are granted the opportunity to be our own author of a fresh book. At L & D Mail Masters, we like to push education. So while you’re writing your book this year, take some time to read. We have compiled a list of five helpful books you can read to create the best you at home and in the workplace.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
This book written by New York Times business reporter, Charles Duhigg, dissects the reasoning behind habits and why they exist. Charles determined if we know what causes habits, we can change them. Can you think of a habit that you need to shake? Habits do not only affect people, but affect businesses as well. In The Power of Habit, Duhigg discusses why some companies struggle to change over time and how it hinders success. This is a must-read for 2017.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Marie Kundo is a Japanese organizing consultant who took her expertise to publication in an effort for readers to “spring clean” all year around. For Kundo, her theories are bigger than throwing away the unnecessary pile of papers on your desk and that drawer at home you cannot close because it’s filled to the top. Instead, Kundo teaches the idea of de-cluttering because it leaves you with a more serene environment. A chaotic house leads to a chaotic brain.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Yes, another book about habits, but this time these are life-changing habits; the good ones. Stephen Covey attempts to lead his readers to live a prosperous, good life with his seven habits. Covey’s seven habits are as followed: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think “win-win”, seek first to understand and then to be understood, synergize, and finally sharpen the saw.
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers
Does your New Year, new me plan consist of increased mental productivity? Tim Ferriss’ book can help you obtain that goal. Ferriss focuses on “healthy, wealthy, and wise,” by offering advice he gathered from entrepreneurs, advisors and hard-working actors over time. This book offers a wealth of knowledge and keys to success directly from the most successful.
I Can Do It: 365 Daily Affirmations
Finally, with more of a non-traditional self-help book suggestion is Louise Hay’s I Can Do It calendar. Almost nothing is more beneficial than a daily remember to remain optimistic and goal-oriented. With a daily affirmation, every day in 2017 will begin with a quote that will keep you positive and in line with your goals.
Like J.K. Rowling says, “I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” Let 2017 be magical and fuel your soul which will lead you to being the best leader you can be both professionally and personally.
After an epic year in 2015 of spending millions of dollars in capital investments, L & D Mail Masters came into 2016 with big shoes to fill, and they filled them! This quote pretty much sums it up: “New year. New feels. New chances. Same dreams, but a fresh start.” The year 2016 was dedicated to celebrating 30 successful years in business for L & D Mail Masters and President Diane Fischer. In 1986, Fischer started L & D Mail Masters out of her home garage; today, the direct mail marketing company resides on an 180,000 square foot campus. It was time for some celebration, and that they did.
The monumental year made brand marketing a bit of a breeze for the marketing department. Check out some of that campaign to the left. Bow ties, glitter and champagne, oh my! On August 4, 2016, the 30th Anniversary Open House took place and it was a big celebration where L & D Mail Masters welcomed clients, employees and the community into the facility to tour, network and toast to three decades of success as a woman owned business. If you would like a full recap of those 30 years, click here to watch the video.
With age comes another responsibility: keeping up with the ever-changing direct mail industry. To stay on top of industry trends, L & D Mail Masters attended several conferences this year. The National Postal Forum in Nashville and Data & Marketing Association (DMA) Conference in Los Angeles were the top contributors to L & D Mail Masters’ new-found knowledge. A favorite statistic every year is the reminder that direct mail is not dead. According to the DMA 2016 Statistical Fact Book, “70% are curious to find out what’s in their mailbox.”
Finally. L & D Mail Masters kicked off their 7th Annual You Choose, We Donate holiday campaign. Four charities were chosen to benefit from L & D Mail Masters’ joyous giving during the holiday season: Indiana University Southeast, Baptist Health Foundation, The Center for Women & Families and New Albany-Floyd County Education Foundation. This year the theme was based on the magic of Christmas with the traditional classic Christmas card. The You Choose, We Donate campaign is a 2016 highlight, because to L & D Mail Masters nothing shows success more than the ability to give back! Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks as L & D Mail Masters announces the results of the campaign.
As 2016 nears its end, remember this Brad Paisley quote, “January 1 is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” And this book can include you!