Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Print is Not Dead

Newspapers, magazines, brochures, and catalogs are not dead. It's true that cable television and the Internet has redirected millions of dollars away from traditional marketing, but there are very few times I can remember that the later have been totally abandoned.

Catalogs, especially, have come to mind recently with my home mailbox already becoming crowded with Christmas catalogs. From toys to clothing, to baskets of cheese, it's all there.

Many of our clients have catalogs since they've been with us for years and are used to doing business with a bundle of catalogs cradled under the arms of their sales force.

When approached with the question "Should we stop printing the catalog?", we like to test market a small section of the catalog online. More often than not, there will be some resistance from our clients' customers - "Why did you do that?", "Should I throw my catalog away?", and the ever-popular "Now I have to print out the catalog off of my printer."

I like to judge success by comparing the average sales order for both mediums during a certain time period. For our business-to-business customers, catalogs usually do better and the business-to-consumer customers find that online ordering is more popular. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. Test and test again to find out what works best for your business.

Most important, make sure your catalog is Internet compatible and vice-versa. When designing a new catalog, take advantage of the latest techniques that make catalog upload easy, and maybe interactive.

As the marketplace continues to change, customers are looking for the easiest way to buy. The question to ask yourself is this... "In my industry, are customers more apt to boot up the computer or thumb through a catalog to find how much my product costs?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Doing a Little House Cleaning

Received a wonderful call from a gentleman who runs a cleaning company. He asked for some ideas to boost his business other than expensive Yellow Page advertising. In a matter of a half hour the following recommendations were made. Which ones will work and which ones won't? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

1. Door Hangars - Can be used two different ways. The first being a “calling card” to neighbors that you are providing a service in their neighborhood or as a general solicitation to canvas areas that you do not currently service.
2. Website - Probably the most important marketing tool a business can have in today’s “on-line” world. I’d like to see a nice home page and five inside pages.
3. Referral Program - Institute a referral program that could offer a direct incentive such as a Home Depot gift card or a discount off of a future cleaning.
4. Brochure - A simple six-page tri-fold brochure (3.5”x8.5”) should describe the benefits of your service
5. Yard Signs - It’s imperative that neighbors realize that you are providing a service in their area. There are two versions that might work well. The first being a permanent sign, i.e., ADT, Brinks, or a temporary sign that is placed in the yard while the home is being cleaned and removed when the cleaner is finished. Customers may be offered a one-time discount to keep the permanent sign in their yard.
6. Direct Mail - Design a postcard that can be targeted and mailed to neighbors within a certain radius of an existing customer.