Direct Marketing Done Right

Original post date November 3, 2008

Click on the image above. Now this is how you market in a down economy. Over the past year I’ve focused on the virtues of Web 2.0, but it’s time to give a “shout out” to ol’ school direct marketing, especially when it’s done this well.  It’s from Boden, a children’s clothing catalog company.

This letter is a virtual clinic on how to do DM right.  Things to love about this piece:

    • Quick Service Number – immediately connected to my account info…they know me as a customer…and that I’ve bought (a lot apparently) in the past.  Most likely, it also serves as a tracking code.  Bonus incentive: if I use it when I call I will receive free shipping, which would probably be the case anyway but they’ve given me an incentive to give them the tracking code.
    • The Opening Sentence/Paragraph – it’s about me (actually, my wife) right out the gate. You’ve maybe got 2-3 seconds to connect with the reader nowadays, and you can’t start out with what you want or who you are because the reader doesn’t care. I also know what you thinking, how is it that your wife shared a letter like this given the comments that we bought “armfuls” last year and we were “one of their best customers.” Two reasons; 1) she’s an ex-agency person and appreciates a good piece like this, and 2) the letter mentions that we’re not buying as much this year…there’s the positive spin.
    • Use of Levity/Comedy – this is extremely hard to do well and it is a bit edgy but I love it…makes you want to read more. The use of British humor (this is a UK based company) also adds to it.  Folks have been saying for a while that the best creative has been coming out of London. Got to admit I’m seeing more and more evidence of that…but I also have to giving credit to the Geico Gecko (the Martin Agency) for paving the way here as well.
    • Personalization – from the owner/founder Johannie Boden herself. Have no idea what her first name is or even if she’s even a real person… could be Tommy Bahamas’ sister for all I know, but I like the personalization. Hands down, DM from an individual to an individual always has the best response rates. Writing good copy that sounds likes it’s coming from a real person and not just a signature, that’s another story…maybe even another post.
    • Customer Buying Behavior – they’re obvious tracking and have noticed a change in my wife’s habits; this is critical in a down market. Watch your best customers and their transactional behavior…probably should have started last year but it’s never too late.
    • The Solution/Offer – Look up DM best practices and “the experts” will tell you that you should test multiple offers… 50% off, half off, or buy one get one free, and you should, but in today’s economy real dollars savings is a real winner.  Simple, tangible and it can be combined with other promotions. “Ol’ whatshername” came up with a custom solutions just for us. She determined that the most likely reason we haven’t been buying lately is price –and she’s dead on…their cloths are on the high end. Back to school this year meant going to Macy’s with a hand-full of 10-20% off coupons.
    • Limited Time Offer – yep, got to have it. And the time period is getting shorter and shorter. Seeing an interesting trend with the use of limited time offers. This use to be the go to “hook” for PC manufactures and mass merchandisers now I’m seeing it in all kinds of retail situations, and most interesting is it’s use in fund raising. Mobile opens up a whole new dimension look for that next year on Google’s G1 phone. Instant offers feed by GPS that expire very quickly…use it now or lose it.
    • Creative – notice that the offer gets a third of the page, and is very colorful with offsetting large and small images. The $20 offer is supersized and next to information on where to redeem it. Your eyes are drawn to it immediately and it’s the motivator that determines whether you’ll invest the time to read the text above it. It is also perforated and complete, so if I only read the offer and tossed the top, I would have everything I need to understand and use it. Notice how they personalized the offer…”…I run out soon.” Love it!

At the end of the day the ultimate measure of good DM is performance/results. In my house, it killed but then again we were an easy target…they knew us all too well.