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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!

3 Recession-Proof Marketing Tips

3 Recession-Proof Marketing Tips

While it’s true that this economic downturn has caused more than a few businesses to tighten their belts, it has also brought to light the importance of some real direct marketing and lead generation basics that, in many cases, could foster something that resembles an opportunity. Is it possible?

Here are 3 recession-proof marketing tips to consider that, when times are tough, will truly solidify your position in the marketplace and help you weather the storm:

 

#1. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
When things are going well, it feels like we can do no wrong. Strategic marketing goes out the window, everything we do seems to work in some way, mistakes are easily overcome and overlooked and we simply fall into bad habits. Opportunistic companies have one thing in common—they have a strong, collaborative relationship with their customers. They take the time to ask, listen, understand and use this information to drive strategy and be proactive. Remember, product-centric thinking is out the window. If your customer is not the hub of your wheel...it doesn't turn!

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What's Trending 12

What's Trending 12

I got off track for a little bit, but trying to get back on and give everyone a little splash of what's going on in the world RIGHT NOW!

Jesse J. That's what's going on! Who? This little series is starting to prove more about what I don't know than anything else. I guess Jesse, an English singer/songwriter, helped close the curtain on the 2012 Games. What will I do now?

Lindsay Lohan. Ok, well getting a litte more familiar. With all the problems and the drama and the press... looks like Ms. Lohan has still earned herself a cool $2 million so far this year! Not bad. 

Sean Hayes. I didn't know the name, but as soon as I saw his picture, well, I guess I'm socially aware! And, if you're interested in adding something new to your music collection, looks like you can pick up Jack McFarland's new CD on September 11th!

Whether your incorporating direct marketing and direct mail in your business development mix or not, you've got to start with a "hook" or a campaign that will get people's attention. And love it, hate it, indifferent about it, this is a slice of what's going on in the world around all of us. In reading about Jesse J just now, I saw a lot of information on how she is available for appearances and book signings etc... Maybe she'd be perfect for your next trade show! Can you say lead generation?

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Top 5 Biz Dev Tips!

Top 5 Biz Dev Tips!

1. The proper mindset
Effective business development has as much to do with a mindset than it does any specific tactic. Essentially, if you view it as a one-time, single event, the likelihood of being successful and meeting your goals is slim. Effective business development and demand generation is achieved when embraced as an ongoing program or business process as part of an integrated direct marketing program. Most of us have effective business process tools in place to run our businesses, but ignore the fundamental (and probably most important) act of driving new business.

2. Frequency
Regardless of your message or value proposition or all the great things you do, if you tell someone once and expect them to take action, you’re mistaken. On average, it takes 9 “touches” for a prospect to respond in some way. And that response may be something very small—like simply opening an email, or visiting a microsite, purl or website. Once a prospect officially becomes an inquiry, the formal nurture process can begin.

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SELL! The New 4-Letter Word.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Salesman.jpgI'll tell you where this all started. In my post I'm Talkin' About a Revolution you can view the Social Media Revolution video. In the video, amongst all the other rather riveting facts, figures and editorial, is one statement that continues to stick with me—the concept that, more or less, successful professional business development services and top marketing communication strategies are more likely to be molded after Dale Carnegie than David Ogilvy.

The video is really fast and it's easy to miss, but, for some reason, it keeps popping into my head. Have we really come to the point where we just can't admit we've been "sold" to? I'm guilty of it too. It makes you feel dirty. It makes you feel ignorant, uneducated and like you've been taken advantage of. Most people, including me, won't even admit it. I'm struggling to remember, did it always feel that way? As a matter of fact, the entire concept of "exchanging goods or services" has moved from the question of "how well do you sell", to "how do people buy". Can good sales people even find work any more? Or are they slowly being exiled to a remote island somewhere?

The best lead generation methods are now really about educating, informing and "offering" than they are about selling anything. In some ways, it seems that no one really wants to sell anything because they don't want to be accountable. The integrated direct marketing campaigns that I build are centered around "how people buy" because, for the most part, that's what's important. We now create marketing and sales support materials to aid the sales process. In other words, provide the literature to validate or legitimize a claim. What did old sales support materials look like? A bad sport coat, coffee breath and threats?

It seems to me that salesmanship has become somewhat of a lost art. And now that I'm thinking about it, I'm going to take it upon myself to incorporate the expression "What do I have to do to get you to drive this off the lot TODAY" as a new business development tactic!

The Allied Group is a New England marketing communication and full service fulfillment company.

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The 10 Most Persuasive Words in Copywriting

b2ap3_thumbnail_BusinessDevelopment.jpgWeb design and graphic design is the style while copywriting is the substance. The words you use are the most important factor in persuading your customers to buy from you. Here are 10 proven persuasive words in direct marketing:

1. FREE
No one likes paying for stuff. Everyone likes getting things for free. My mom regularly walks two miles into town armed with a coupon she cut out of the daily newspaper.

2. YOU
While humanity in general has the capacity for amazing acts of selfless generosity people are self-interested when it comes to reading ads. If you're not talking about them directly then they'll find something else to do.

3. GUARANTEED
If you can guarantee something then this immediately eradicates the risk for the reader. Less risk means more willingness to buy.

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Looking at the "Social" in Social Media

b2ap3_thumbnail_bandwagon.jpgI'm just as guilty as anyone. I've jumped on the bandwagon and embraced all the tactics...blogging, tweeting, posting, inviting, connecting...certainly more to do, but you get the idea. So I guess you could say the "media" part of social media. And I guess that makes sense. As a contributor in a marketing communications company, it would seem logical that I would be active in all these areas.

But as a top direct marketing agency looking to embrace and incorporate social media as one of our primary lead generation methods, you could say that I'm missing 50% of the equation. What about the "social" part?

 

Easily overlooked, it's the most fundamental aspect of business development in general. It's probably not a coincidence then that the overall business climate and atmosphere has gotten more personal. It used to be that there was a separation between who you were as a professional and who you were as an individual. The two didn't necessarily have to be bipolar, but you wore your wing tips at work, and your slippers at home. And you didn't ever mix them up.

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The U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team’s Lessons for American Business

The U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team’s Lessons for American Business

In one of the greatest victories in the history of gymnastics, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team won its first team goal medal since 1996. It was only the second time in history that a U.S. women’s gymnastics team had won the gold.

There was plenty of drama. That started with world champion Jordyn Weiber’s tears after her heartbreaking exclusion from the all-around final. Then came NBC’s story on the tremendous sacrifices Gabby Douglas’ single mother (see video) made to send her teenage daughter hundreds of miles away to train with a world-class coach, hoping to make her Olympic dream come true. Finally, there was McKayla Maroney’s broken big toe, which she had determined would not prevent her from competing.

Of course, you know what happened. After Weiber’s depressing letdown, “She had about five minutes of disappointment, and she let it cry out,” related personal coach John Geddert. “And then she immediately responded with, ‘We’ve got work to do on Tuesday.’ ” Weiber’s work paid off, as she led off Team USA’s first rotation with high marks on a very difficult vault. “When she went out there and nailed that vault, it was contagious,” said Douglas, who came next and got even higher marks. Finally came the injured Maroney, whose vault seemed to soar to the rafters and nearly reached perfection. Before the night was over, the U.S. team had won by an astounding 5.066 points.

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5 Secrets to Success with Direct Mail

5 Secrets to Success with Direct Mail

1. Realistic Expectations
I'm beginning to sound like a broken record with this one. There are no magic solutions. Direct Mail and other lead generation methods as stand-alone tactics in a vacuum are basically useless. Direct mail, whether personalized direct mail or one to one communication, is a great component of a complete direct marketing program. Stick to the basics...tell your prospect why your product/service is unique, why they should buy from you and why they should buy from you now. And then remember, unless you catch lightning in a bottle or miraculous timing (which can happen) people don't typically make a buying decision right on the spot. They need time to further educate themselves and let it "stew" a bit before they take any action.

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4 Ways Marketing Can Help you Get Paid Faster

b2ap3_thumbnail_marketing20communications20company.jpgWhen we think of marketing and developing a successful integrated marketing communications program what tends to come to mind first are the 4 P's, new business development, direct marketing postcards and maybe how marketing and sales support each other, or could be better aligned. But what about applying marketing concepts to your business process? For this post, let's look at how we can use marketing to get paid faster:

1. Profile and Segment. You most likely already do this. You just don't apply the criteria for business process purposes. You put a lot of thought into profiling an "ideal client"...well part of what makes a client ideal is how they pay. You don't need to judge who's better or worse, but include that criteria to segment your prospects and maintain that information as they become a client. You'll then know which clients will pay best, and which ones you may have to apply tips 3-4 on...

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A Psychology Lesson at Penn State

This week, Penn State received severe penalties from the NCAA, worse than the  “death  penalty,” once the most stringent discipline meted out to athletic programs that break NCAA rules. This punishment is well-deserved. For unlike previous perpetrators who showed callous disregard for the rules of collegiate sports, officials at Penn State displayed total disregard for the welfare of children.

The men at the helm of this otherwise distinguished educational institution, in the words of investigator and former FBI Director Louis Freeh, “failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."  University officials, including legendary Head Coach Joe Paterno, “never demonstrated through actions or word any concern for the safety and wellbeing of Sandusky’s victims until after Sandusky’s arrest.” In fact, this damning report went on to say, “Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated, no such sentiments were ever expressed by them to Sandusky’s victims.”

 How could it happen?

 The first allegation at Penn State in 1998 was investigated by the campus police.  A NY Times report on that query stated: “Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong,” said the report issued last weekend by the Pennsylvania attorney general. “Detective Schreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said that he would not.”

Somehow Paterno, Sandusky’s boss, figured that the matter had been put to rest.  Yet when his former quarterback, now grad assistant Mike McQueary reported seeing the Defensive Coordinator molesting a child in the shower, Freeh states that Paterno told him, “You did what you had to do.  It is now my job to figure out what we want to do.” He did nothing.  With children’s welfare at stake, how could a father and grandfather take no action?  It’s easy to note that they weren’t his grandsons, and Sandusky was a valued colleague. But there’s a psychological component as well.

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