You plan for offensive operations, while you prepare to play defense. You’ll find this concept in both warfare and sports, and it’s applicable in business as well.
I much prefer playing offense, because that’s where you score and generate revenues. A strong business offensive plan also limits the amount of places you’ll need to prepare to play defense, freeing up more resources for–you guessed it–playing more offense.
What’s an example of planning as opposed to preparations in a marketing context?
A great example can be found in the United States Postal Service and the annual postage increases. If you’re using direct mail as a marketing channel, you can be sure of two things:
I’ve recently received several direct response efforts that are unfortunately poor examples of our science and craft. But they provide some important lessons that we should all take into account when preparing our next campaigns, whether they be acquisition, retention or winback efforts.
The two efforts I’m going to write about appear to suffer from at least one flaw that I try to address with clients and employees. I call it “fingertips.”
By that, I mean that the nuts and bolts and detail of the marketing effort or analysis need to flow from the written page or the computer monitor through your eyes, be processed by your brain and then exit via your fingertips to the email, instant message, Excel spreadsheet, etc. It’s not about forwarding the print production schedule you get from your printer or assigning the analysis of the media plan to your least-experienced employee because it’s tedious. Having “fingertips” means you know the detail because you’ve not only seen it, but processed it and then had it exit via your keyboard.
I didn’t see the “fingertips” of the marketing managers in these efforts. Al Pacino, in his famous rant at Kevin Spacey in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross would have put it more bluntly.
For the first time in a long time I took a few minutes to run through the Valpak co-op mailing I received last week.
After a few minutes of looking at the offers, I came up with a short list of things to consider if you’re using Valpak (or other co-ops) as a marketing channel. The short list is powered by my own past experience and might stimulate you to think of some other ideas.
Before I get started, here’s a rundown of what I found inside. There was a total of 43 inserts inside the envelope (which featured, bizarrely, a promotion for the television program CSI: NY on the OE and which distracted me from the 1:50,000 possibility that there might be a check for $100 inside). I sorted the inserts into three categories:
National advertisers (19, 44% of the total). These included Netflix, DirecTV, Verizon, Omaha Steaks and others. Of those, 4 (27%) of the inserts did not use the standard 8 1/4″ x 3 1/2″ format and instead paid additional for a heavier and/or different stock insert.
Regional/franchise (8, 19% of the total). Included here were ads for the local Gold’s Gym, Kaiser Permanente and Molly Maids. Of these, only 1 (12%) of the inserts deviated from the standard insert.
Local advertisers (15, 35% of the total). These ranged from local dentists to home improvement providers to Anthony’s, a restaurant down the street–which included some coupons that might finally get me to take the family there!. Only 1 insert (7%) strayed from the Valpak standard format.
Valpak ran one house insert, promoting an offer of $350 to target 10,000 homes for new advertisers, a CPM of $35.
We can immediately see some ideas, just from this basic sort.
A client recently asked me “who can tell me if my website is working well for me?” My immediate response was “your customers and your browsers.” This, of course, triggered a conversation of how it was possible to talk to tens of thousands of (usually) anonymous visitors, collect their insights and then translate that to marketing improvements.
Prior to a large amount of advertising moving to the web, with the associated tracking and analytical capabilities, my response didn’t make a lot of sense. Unless you were the sole proprietor of a local general store or had massive resources to undertake a large amount of expensive primary research, it was really hard to figure out what exactly about your marketing was working for your customers and prospects.
Today’s example of online marketing waste, which probably went awry someplace in the 4% of process (see Focus on the Four in our featured article section), comes from Samsung in the form of a promotion for their new Blackjack II cellular phone, which is available to subscribers of AT&T’s wireless network.
A couple of reasons why it’s a good thing I received this promotion: