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There are a lot of moving parts to any marketing campaign. The printing and mailing (or, if you are incorporating digital channels, text or email blasts) is only the last link in the chain. To ensure that the final deadline is met, you have to work backwards to ensure that each individual component is on schedule.

How do you stay on track? At the start of every project, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What is the final deadline you are trying to meet?
2. Who is writing the copy and how long will it take?
3. Are you using stock images or creating the artwork yourself? Who is making those decisions and how long will that take?
4. Who will be doing the design and layout? What is the time budget for that?
5. How long will it take to print, finish, and mail the piece?
6. How many approvals do you need? How much additional time to you need to add for those?

The first answer provides your end date. Once you have that, you can work backwards to determine your start date. Pad each time estimate by a factor of 1.5 to 3 times depending on your confidence in the numbers.

Once the project is complete, look back at how well you stuck to the timeline. Did you stay on schedule? If not, where did you get bogged down? What needs to be adjusted to create a more accurate time estimate next time?

Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Along the way, you learned something, such as when your creative staff says, “It takes us one day to turn around the proof of concept,” they meant two days, or that you forgot to take into account transportation time when you made your project plan.

Staying on schedule takes practice . . . and smart planning. If you’re new to the process, don’t go it alone. We have tons of experience in project planning. Just ask!

Want more people to respond to your marketing offers? Sometimes the answer is so obvious that marketers overlook it. Tell your audience what you want them to do, then ask them to do it. Yes, sometimes it’s that straight forward.

While most people don’t like to be given the “hard sell,” you still need your message to be clear. What are you offering? What action do you want them to take? In too many cases, marketers are overly vague. They may also bury the call to action or forget to include one altogether.

Don’t miss your opportunity. In every direct mailer or direct marketing piece, make sure you to include these three things:

1. Be clear about the product. Your mailer may look awesome with that beachfront view, but what do you want people to do? Book a rental? Purchase a vacation package? Donate to an ocean cleanup effort? Make your request clear.

2. Encourage action. Don’t assume people will know what you want them to do. Ask them to request a brochure, call for a free appointment, or make a purchase.

3. Tell them how to do it. Make it easy to respond. If you want people to send away for more information, prefill the business reply card with their name and address. If you want them to make a phone call, print the phone number in a larger font or a different color so it’s easy to find. If you want them to visit your website, print the URL clearly on the mailer and include a QR Code, as well.

Assume that your audience is busy and you only have a few minutes of their time. Within just a few seconds of scanning the piece, they should know what you are selling, what action you want them to take, and how to do it. It’s so simple that you’d be surprised how many marketers miss it.

Looking for marketing support? Give us a call!

Have Regular Renewals? Use Trigger Marketing

Do you sell the kinds of products or services that are ordered on a cyclical basis or that renew according to a regular schedule? If so, you should consider sending simple, calendar-triggered reminders based on the customer’s purchase or service history to keep your revenues flowing.

Auto dealerships use this technique all the time. To boost its service revenues, one dealership decided to slice its customer database (both active and inactive) by type of automotive service, such as emissions checks, tune-ups, and brake service. Then, the dealership sorted this data by date of the next service, such as all customers with emissions checks coming up within the next 60 days. They used this information to generate weekly alerts to car owners in advance of the recommended service dates for their vehicles.

With this approach, the dealership saw its service department profits rise to 18% within the first six months of the campaign, compared to 12% in the prior six months.

As auto dealerships know, a simple reminder can be incredibly effective. It works in other markets, too. Software upgrades. Computer service contracts. Gym memberships. Medical appointments. Pet care. Landscaping. Floral arrangements for birthdays and anniversaries. Any market in which the need for products and services is ongoing and cyclical.

Talk to us about how you can combine trigger marketing with personalized alerts and offers to keep your customers ordering. Don’t have those critical dates to send those triggers? Ask us about simple data collection. We can help with that, too!

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