Yes, We Do That

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!

Pass the Pixie Dust

We recently worked with some highly intelligent executives at a reasonably successful larger corporation looking for long-term growth. The initial conversations revolved around the strategy, tactics and depth of programs they felt that they needed to re-educate their exiting clients about new products and services as well as making themselves known to new potential customers for more effective local lead generation.

After many meetings over several months they decided they wanted a “quick hit” to increase sales fast and didn’t want a more integrated marketing communications program. They wanted to send direct marketing postcards out one time to several thousand recipients and needed an immediate return on investment.

We said no thank you.

Oh, we could have taken their money and done a basic print fulfillment project. But, odds are, we may not have gotten the expected results right away and gotten fired anyway, likely the first in a long-line of many marketing services companies who would not get the immediate results they said they needed.

You see, the mystery of successful marketing is most often based in consistency, not magic. One anything; direct marketing postcards, rebate offers, trade shows etc. are highly unlikely to net you sustained long-term leads, prospects and ultimately, customers.

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An Unintended but Lasting Effect of a College Education

Admissions officials are often reminded of advantages that higher education can bring to students. These unquestionably include substantially higher lifetime earnings, ability to think critically and a broadened outlook. But research shows that the college experience can have an impact that neither students nor parents anticipate. It’s important for administrators, faculty and admissions officials to understand this effect, since they want to truly help those they educate.

Learning more than academics

A point observed by many is backed by science. Social psychologist and textbook author Dr. David Myers writes, “The teens and early twenties are important formative years (Krosnick & Alwin, 1989). Attitudes are changeable during that time and the attitudes formed then tend to stabilize through middle adulthood.” Research beside that quoted here by Dr. Myers bears this out. For although some adults clearly change their opinions and beliefs, convictions formed during the college years have proved remarkably resilient.

Researcher James Davis (2004) combed through the National Opinion Research Center archives and found, for instance, that Americans who reached age 16 during the 1960s became more politically liberal than average and maintained that view for many years.

This validates a groundbreaking study conducted with students from Bennington College. During the 1930s and early 1940s, Bennington students were primarily women from wealthier, more conservative families. The young professors who taught them leaned toward leftist political views. Their influence was strong and its effects long-lasting. Bennington women became much more liberal than others from the same social background. Some fifty years later, in the 1984 presidential election, Bennington alumnae in their 70s voted Democratic by a 3 to 1 margin while the same percentage of college educated women in that age group voted Republican. Dr. Myers noted, “Their views embraced at an impressionable time had survived a lifetime of wider experience.”

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Put Some "Military" in Your Marketing

Put Some "Military" in Your Marketing

I have never served in any of the armed forces but I have the utmost respect for those who do. It is their courage and bravery that allows the rest of us to pursue a life of complete freedom: where to live, what to wear, what we can say and what we do for work.  As we celebrate Veterans' Day, it is a chance to honor these folks and all qualities they represent.

When I think of the qualities of a soldier (or the military in general), I think about the precise training and procedures that go into their operation. A strong chain of command. A high level of strategic planning. A deep understanding of how their "business" works.

Wouldn't you love to see your own marketing strategy be so coordinated? The Allied Group sees the marketing communication strategies of many companies and we see everything -- from those clients with a detailed plan to those who "wing it" and hope for the best! As a top direct marketing agency, it is our mission to get you in the first group.

Companies struggle with marketing - period! Whether it be an issue with marketing and sales support or full service fulfillment, many companies are good at what their product is. They understand their product, know all the idiosyncrasies, and how to use the product. The part they struggle is how to let everyone know!
 
Very few companies have a "military-type" plan for getting their message out. For many companies, a "strategy" or "plan" is not a well-designed set of tactics with a specific goal in mind; rather, it is a relaxed approach with various ideas tossed "into the ring" and one idea is decided without a specific goal in mind.

How comfortable would you feel at night if our military planned like the latter?

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How are you living your life? - Steve Jobs

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."
Steve Jobs

Align Your Goals
In his commencement address to Stanford University in 2005, Apple founder Steve Jobs made the following statement. It pretty much explained why he has been so successful in his life.
 
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something (@minute 9.10).”
 
How are you living your life?  How do you want to be remembered?  What will your loved ones say when you're gone?

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What's Trending 7

What's Trending 7

A little late this month. But, wow, I'm actually familiar/aware of all three of these people & events. This is a first. Here's "what's trending" according to our friends at Yahoo:

Kate Gosselin. I guess the infamous mother of 8 is opening up about coupon blogging and the cancellation of "Plus 8". Riveting.

Wardrobe Malfunction. Do you remember the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show? I bet you do. Well 8 years later, a federal appeals court has ruled that CBS should not be fined for Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. Nice to see the swift action taken by our judicial system.

TJ Houshmandzadeh. Even though I'm a football fan, and I know TJ is a wide receiver, I wasn't aware that he had a "bitter ending" to last season with the Ravens and now he's making his debut as a Raider. Hmm. I guess I do now!

Well, at the risk of being redundant, I will say again... "what does all of this have to do with the world of marketing consultancy services?" To me, in two small words, a lot!

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Customer Commitment - a Key to Insurance, B2B and B2C sales on the Web

Research released this year shows the importance of the work done by marketers and IT professionals in driving prospects to your website and converting them into customers. A large number of studies as well as actual experience reveal a way to increase conversion rates and sales with those who visit your site. This method involves good marketing communication strategies and skillful IT work.

 

Commitment is the Key

 

Well over 1,000 studies by social scientists have established the fact that the commitments we make can actually change how we feel. One outstanding example was reported by renowned influence expert Robert Cialdini, PhD and his coauthors. Social psychologists Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser had a research assistant call a number of homeowners to ask them to participate in a remarkably intrusive survey. Here’s what he said:

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5 Sales Lessons of the Fall

There is a time for every season and every purpose under the sun I’ve heard it was written.  Well, fall is no exception. It is here. And for me, it brings with it some interesting sales (marketing and sales support) and business lessons.

1. Look for low hanging fruit. On our recent trip to the apple orchard, I spent a good bit of time maneuvering the ‘picker’ to reach high up into the trees to grab the apples at the top. But as we went along, I also grabbed some of the apples on the lower branches, and, even some on the ground. If you’re looking to make some deals this fall, grab some of the ones on top but don’t overlook the easy ones.

2. Embrace change. Change is in the air. The temperature. The amount of daylight. The color of the leaves. If you’re like one of the now 7 billion people living on the planet, I’m guessing that you’re experiencing some kind of change right now. Maybe it’s because of; technology, the economy, trends, styles etc. or whatever. Don’t fight it. Embrace it.  Figure out how to profit, be more healthy and productive because of it.

3. Look for extra time. We’re about to turn back the clocks. In this upcoming weekend that means we get one extra hour of time. In your busy schedule, look for some things you can drop (turn back) so that you can pick up a little extra time for the priorities in life.

4. Ask for the order. My kids didn’t walk up to the doors on Halloween night, ring the bell and say, “would you like to think it over about giving me some candy”? They rang or knocked on the door, it opened and they said, “Trick or Treat”? And they came home with hundreds of orders…ah, I mean pieces of candy.

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Expect The "Unexpected"

Last weekend the Northeast was hit with an unexpected snowstorm. There was a decent amount of snowfall, very high winds, and the snow was very heavy, creating some power lines to come down. Many folks lost their power and are still waiting days later for it to be restored.

OK, those of us who live in New England should not be surprised by this weather, right? But in October? This definitely was an unexpected weather event for this time of the year and people had to act quickly and change their normal plans for what would normally be a beautiful Fall weekend in New England.

These unexpected events happen in the business world every day. Something happens and it forces a business to change their own plans and react to the change. Often times these are events our of your control (like unexpected weather) and you must handle the adversity . . . An economy starts to dip. A high-ranking executive leaves the company. A top client decides to end a relationship? Have any of these things happened to your firm?

Are you a college that has had an unexpected drop in enrollment? Maybe you need to revisit your student yield programs? Or tap into the knowledge of a higher education marketing firm?

Are you a business in need of sales leads? Maybe you need to hire one of the lead generation agencies? Or a strategic marketing consultancy to revamp your business plan?

Business today is full of unexpected events and those who can react survive; those who cannot will not have to worry about it. When that top client wants to end their relationship with your company, do you know what to do? How will you react? Is there a plan in place to retain this client? Often times the plan is that there is "no plan" and everyone scrambles . . . sometimes this works; most times it does not.

What is your company doing to expect "the unexpected"?

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Good Marketing Solves the Customer's Needs First - Your Needs Second

angry-customer

“The key is, no matter what story you tell, make the buyer the hero.” Chris Brogan

I had two experiences the other day that left me shaking my head in disbelief. Both were solicitations for my business, one a radio commercial, the other, a direct telemarketer.

First, the auto dealership. If it seems like I’ve been picking on them, having just bought two cars, I now remember why it takes me so long in-between purchases. The ad came blaring over the radio on my drive home. “We’ve had a great month at XYZ Auto, we’ve sold lots of cars and we want to keep our momentum going.”

Whoa! When did my potentially buying a car turn into me caring about you keeping your momentum going? Sure, while I and probably most people prefer to do business with an organization that is doing well, I don’t want to be either beaten over the head with it nor have it made the first “feature and benefit” in your selling proposition. I have my own reasons for considering any purchase and trust me; it has nothing to do with what’s important to you. Not to say that I’m not a win-win kind of guy, I sure hope I am. But talk to me about what you can do for me first, not what I can do to help you.

Second, the business development professional services company. A telemarketer selling training services essentially teaching us how to get more business. The voice mail started with “Hi Brian, this is Donna, give me (no please) a call back, I’d like (why would I care what you’d like at this point?) to talk to you (not with) a little bit and tell you (not share with) what we have to offer.”

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Can Smaller Institutions Win when Recruiting against the Giants?

Research shows that time-pressed Millennial hs students prefer well-known brands. What chance do worthy but lesser-known colleges have to compete? Consider:

While researching ways to increase inquiries last spring, I found myself in a parking lot packed with hs students at the NACAC College Fair in Boston and decided to hold an impromptu focus group. To my amazement, the juniors I spoke with already had already put together their short lists and planned on talking with just 3-5 institutions at the Fair. I asked if there was anything a college that wasn’t on their list could do to gain consideration. They gave two answers:

  • Give away free stuff (NACAC wouldn’t be thrilled with that!)

  • Make an impressive presentation 

This experience reinforced two important points. First, it showed the wisdom of a recommendation made in a Search Expert presentation at NEACAC this year: “Starting early is key.” As Strauss and Howe point out, Millennials are big brand shoppers. Research shows that people who are pressed for time look for shortcuts, and a strong brand provides an easy one. Therefore, it’s crucial that students learn about your institution very early in the process. And if your college is not in the news regularly, it’s clear that you’ll need to do some good PR work with freshmen and then search sophomores if you’re going to make many short lists.

Students may have learned this approach from their parents. Internationally respected research firm Global Reviews conducted a marketing study on people buying insurance on the Internet. It showed that, just like prospective freshmen, those who buy insurance online often start their search with a preferred list of providers in mind. But a full 35% of those who did ended up buying their insurance from a firm that was not on that list.

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