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The Allied Group is New England's leading provider of Printing, Kitting, Mailing and Fulfillment services. Our blog authors have backgrounds in Sales, Marketing, IT, Production and Operations and post useful tips, trends, news and opinions in our industry and beyond. We know you'll find something you enjoy. Most of all, be sure to jump into the conversation!

Top 10 Ways to Increase Your Direct Mail Response Rates

A Colleague of mine forwarded this on to me just this morning. Instead of saying the same things over and over again, it's nice to hear someone else for a change. This is an article by Nick Nanton, Emmy award-winning director/producer and agent to celebrity experts. Thank you Mr. Nanton...well said: 

Some of you will laugh at the very thought of direct mail, but I can assure you, it’s a great source of connecting with prospects and existing customers allike. Particularly in our overly-junked-up-email world where people tend to pillage their inboxes and delete anything that doesn’t require a personal response. People respond completely differently to direct mail, that arrives on their doorstep, than they do many other forms of media. Direct mail can be as basic as a postcard or a letter on letterhead, or as complex as a full “shock and awe” box that has lots of stuff in it that gets your prospect really engaged like CDs, DVDs, MP3 players books and just about anything you can fit in the box.

I sent out about 18,000 direct mail pieces last month, and I learned a few lessons, just like I always do. Maybe I can save you a few dollars, and a few lessons by sharing some of the most important things I’ve learned over the years about direct mail.

Below is a list of 10 very important things you should look at when sending out direct mail.

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What's Trending 14

What's Trending 14

After some wild weather and serious time to reflect on what's important, let's get back to the good stuff! Here goes according to Yahoo:

Cheryl Burke: Our good old friend Cheryl and Dancing With the Stars. Looks like The Bachelorette may be in her future? Would ABC really poach a star from another reality show? We shall see.

Eva Longoria: 2 for 2 so far...I obviously know who she is. But why is she in tears? I suppose she was so moved by Obama's re-election that she just had to let it out.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Or I should say "Senator" Kirsten Gillibrand. The first campaign in the state of New York where two women were running for U.S. Senate.

Well I didn't really learn a lot this time around. But given the politically charged environment, I suppose it was nice to learn of Senator Gillibrand. 

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6 Ways Psychologists Can Help You Sell More Insurance – Part One

6 Ways Psychologists Can Help You Sell More Insurance – Part One

The idea that psychologists could help companies and agents sell more insurance seems strange. After all, everyone knows that good marketing, sales and customer service practices, backed by robust technology are what sell insurance. That is undeniably true. Yet studies, often conducted by psychologists, are what have helped to establish the best practices in marketing, sales and customer service that truly make a difference. These findings even affect IT, informing CIOs and web designers how to use technology in ways that improve customer experience. Research by Global Reviews found that, in online insurance sales, a smooth and enjoyable website experience beat superior brand recognition.

Why would a user-friendly website generate more sales than the opportunity to buy from a better known insurance company? Consumer behavior experts Jerry Olson (University of Wisconsin) and J. Paul Peter (Penn State) sum up the research: “The time necessary to learn about a product or service…as well as the time spent...can be important costs to the consumer.” In an online insurance website, the preference of buying from a company you already know and trust can be offset if it’s not easy to learn about and purchase the coverage you need.

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Enrolling More Without Giving Away the Store

Enrolling More Without Giving Away the Store

Colleges and universities across America will soon begin detailed planning for their yield campaigns, if they have not already done so. Since money is still so tight for many families, a number of institutions will look carefully at the discount rate to see if there is any way to give students better financial aid packages. That is a viable and effective way to improve enrollment.

Unfortunately, not every college can afford to significantly increase financial aid. In fact, some institutions may now find that they need to cut the discount rate. What can aid in increasing yield performance without giving away needed revenue? Coming up with attractive new programs or facilities is great, but takes time and money. In the short run, better marketing may be your best option.

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What's Trending 13

What's Trending 13

I'm always excited to see what I find when I jump on Yahoo and see what's going on out there. This just might be the end of the trend of beautiful superstars! Check it out...what's trending right now according to Yahoo!

1. Brian Wilson. Looks like the "Good Vibrations" are over for Mr. Wilson! Fired from the Beach Boys after 112 years. I wonder if the music industry will survive?

2. Sophie Simmons. Now we're on to something! I must confess, I did watch Family Jewels so I actually know who she is. 2-for-2 so far! I guess Gene's daughter auditioned for the X-Factor. I've never tuned in, but there you go!

3. Ed Hochuli. Well, there you have it! A first. 3-for-3. If you've watched any NFL games so far this year and have experienced the debacle first-hand, you actually might know who Ed is. All I can say is "welcome back"!

As I always say, if you're in the world of new business development and constantly searching for lead generation methods that will get results, it really helps to know what's going on in the world around us. Effective marketing communication strategies are rooted in an intimate knowledge of our culture and, obviously, the prospects you're trying to reach. And the bottom line is that the professional/personal lines have really been blurred over the years with social media and the constant media exposure that has become part of life for all of us.

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Lessons from Flo and the Gecko – Part Two

In “Lessons from Flo and the Gecko – Part One” we saw how GEICO and Progressive  use amusing characters to keep consumers watching their commercials. The enjoyable nature of this constantly changing series of ads transforms them into 30 second comedy skits, a tactic particularly favored b2ap3_thumbnail_Flo-Progressive-Car-Insurance-Girl.jpgby Progressive. These repeat the direct writers’ key message points until they are embedded in consumers’ minds – and no one but the competition gets tired of it.

The power of marketing and advertising

These ads reveal other important facts to insurance executives. One is the importance of marketing and advertising. While marketing departments often have to fight to maintain their budgets, high-quality research shows that advertising really does promote sales. A 10-year study done by Information Resources’ BehaviorScan looked at advertising budgets, media schedules and sales figures in 10 different markets. The results demonstrated, according to marketing professors George and Michael Belch, that “advertising can produce sales growth as long as two years after a campaign ends.” Steady sales increases helped both GEICO and Progressive weather some otherwise stormy times. Flo and the Gecko have certainly done their job in supporting their companies continued growth in a challenging environment.

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Response Rates are Down – Is Search Worth the Expense?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Student20letters.jpgA number of enrollment managers report that response rates to Student Search campaigns are continuing their downward trend. With the considerable expense involved, some may wonder: Is Search still worth the cost? 

The answer is a qualified “Yes.” Search that is done well without being ridiculously expensive is certainly a good investment. Strauss and Howe’s research found that Millennials are highly brand oriented – they look for “name brands.” Thus, Ivy League and other well-known institutions are deluged with applications. But even they should not discontinue Search. Otherwise, worthy students they would welcome may view them as unattainable and look elsewhere.

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Who Else Wants New Lead Generation Methods?

Who Else Wants New Lead Generation Methods?

Do you remember when marketing & advertising was all about reach, frequency, awareness, distribution, the 4p's etc...? Interestingly, you learned them in your marketing classes and could find them in textbooks AND they were actually used and applied when you finally got in to the "real world". But what ever happened to them?

 

Well, surprisingly, they're still very much alive. A lot of the names have changed (impressions, actions, open rates, click-thru rates, social reach etc...) but the overall theory really hasn't. The bottom line is you need to reach out and touch your audience as frequently as possible with opportunisitic information that's relevant to them. Enter social media.

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The Importance of a Good List.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Direct20Mail.jpgWhen it comes to effective lead generation methods, the mailing list is often looked at as a last minute, oh-by-the-way nuisance. Whether we are sending out direct mailers or personalized direct mail to prospects in the hopes of stirring them to movement, we tend to go right to the magical, clever, never-seen-before “mailer”. If I’m being honest with myself, and this is a true confession, I can say I’ve been there before. A designer at heart, I was most concerned with creating that unique, award-winning piece and didn’t think much about to whom it would go. After all, that’s the fun part, right?

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Print is DEAD!

Yeah that's what I said! Or is it? Well don't believe everything you read (except now). In the last 10 years, direct mail has gone from a $40 billion dollar advertising spend in 1998, to a $56.7 billion dollar advertising spend in 2008… an increase of just over 41%.[1] And while direct mail spending has begun to decline in this recession (the first such decline in over 60 years…along with declines in TV, newspaper, cable, radio and internet ad revenue), print fulfillment mail continues to generate one of the highest response rates amongst other major media. Telephone generates the highest response rate (8.55%), followed by Direct Response Television (8.14%) followed by mail (3.4%). And in most cases, telephone response rates reflect follow-up to direct mail campaigns.[2]

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