Greatest Bits, Vol. II: Hidden Treasures in our Marketing Blogs
In the three years that I’ve been a part of JHL, I’ve been contributing a quarterly blog post with content specific to our JHL Advance customers. It’s usually been some combination of my past experiences in annual giving, current practices and upcoming trends in direct mail, supporting statistics as I find them…and a little bit of that “gut feeling.”
Our relationship with those in advancement in just a small slice of the work we do. We work with a lot of printers and marketers in the private sector who need to get marketing pieces mailed out to current and future customers. We have other members on our team who contribute bi-monthly with content that speaks specifically to that customer base.
Last year, I reviewed the blog postings to our printing and marketing customers and found some interesting bits of information that I thought were pertinent to customers in advancement, but were likely missed or skipped over. Each of those small bits were compiled together into my January 2023 entry as a means of presenting something new to you or providing additional information to support what you are currently doing.
With the start of a new year, I thought it would be another opportunity to compile a new set of “greatest bits” from last year’s entries you may have missed.
A direct-mail piece puts a message or offer directly into your best customers’ hands, and the QR code lets them easily be transported to the heart of your organization’s branding and merchandising – your website.
At that point you can start them down a conversion funnel or on a customer journey – and the best part is that every step in the process is documentable and generates data.
In part because of that, QR code adoption is increasing among mailers. Research from SeQuel Response shows that QR codes were used in 16% of mailings in Q3 of 2022; this represents an increase from the same period in 2021, which represented an increase from the same period in 2020.
The trends are all in favor of QR codes … but only 16% of mailings?
You want your direct mail to dazzle, but in these days of increased costs, you might consider having direct mail provide the sizzle and not the steak.
Create an impressive-but-compact piece to entice customers to learn more about the product and include a QR code to send them to a microsite, where customers can get even more information about a product – product specs, reviews, videos, a 360-degree walkaround, and more.
On the case of an appeal mailing, save your testimonials for the website – and make them videos. They’ll save space on the mailing and be more effective besides.
AI and Direct Mail (May 2023)
One of the tasks organizations struggle with is coming up with a unique fundraising event. If everyone on your team is fresh out of ideas, ask AI! It may be the creative spark you need.
We asked Google Bard (ChatGPT’s wackier cousin) to come up with 10 unique fundraising events for UPSU, and it came up with: (read full list within the link)
So not the most creative events ever, but you have to remember that AI tools just reflect what they find on the internet. If the internet struggles for creative fundraising ideas, you will too.
And if you don’t like these ideas, hit the “regenerate response” button and get 10 more newish and only slightly recycled ideas.
Best Practices for Direct Mail 2023 and Beyond (July 2023)
The best direct-mail campaign doesn’t start with a great packaging concept or a nifty turn of phrase; it starts with a marketing plan that finds just the right spot for the direct-mail piece, to reach a selected audience, amplify a key selling point, or provide the final impetus to sign up, buy, or give.
If you can give yourself six months from conception to mailing, you’ll have taken the time to ensure that the piece is well-designed, well-written, well-timed, and thoroughly designed to do what you need it to do.
That’s not to say great direct-mail campaigns can’t be whipped up out of thin air in a couple of weeks. They can, but they shouldn’t be in the plan that way.
You can mitigate the interminability somewhat by limiting the rounds of revisions and sticking to firm deadlines, but the safest approach is to build in a bigger time cushion than you think you’ll need, and then lie.
Seriously. It’s basically keeping two sets of books – one for outside entities and one for yourself.
So for instance, if your drop-dead deadline for copy review is Oct. 21, tell the reviewers it’s Oct. 7. You know they’ll procrastinate and put it at the bottom of their inbox, so account for that.
This approach has the added benefit of you looking good when you magnanimously tell the person who missed the deadline, “It’s okay. I’ll make some calls and we’ll sneak you in under the wire.”