Friday, February 25, 2011

Is it time for your Social Media Audit?

During the past 24 months the utilization of social media and its incorporation into our marketing plans has grown ten-fold. To that point, perhaps now is the time to perform a Social Media Audit to determine if your association is using the tool the best way possible to tell your story and drive your goals?

As we've all performed marketing audits in the past, this kind of thing can be as simple or difficult as you make it. In my mind, the one important question you have to ask is "Are these tactics helping me accomplish my goals?"

Remember that I said it was a simple question.

First, are the results quantifiable? That will certainly answer the question quickly if they are. If not, can they become quantifiable? As I'm a numbers-guy, I always want numbers to help me manage my campaigns, but there are instances when numbers don't really count. If that's the case, bully.

Second, are the tactics/channels you are using keeping within the overall message/brand of the organization? Hopefully you made the decision on this when you developed the campaigns but things do change and upgrades and changes to the programs can sometimes go astray of the brand.

Finally, are you fully utilizing the uniquities of each channel? Video? Text? Messaging? Graphics? Is the copy maximizing the impact? Are the videos engaging and telling the right stories? Are you changing the content enough so it keeps people coming back for more?

These are my simple musings at 4:54 PM on a Friday afternoon. If you have other thoughts, I hope that you'll comment.

Speaking at the AVECTRA User Group this weekend - Come One Come All!

Open Forum: What's Working and What's Not (User Workshop)Sunday, Feb 27 - 3:30-5:00pm
Join Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated, for a bare-knuckle discussion on what tactics and strategies are working in driving membership and non-dues revenues. Bring your questions AND some of your own learnings as this will be a working session whose goal is that everyone takes away one good idea. Erik will use your observations and successes in his lunch presentation on Monday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Key to Membership Promotion Success...Expires and Good Hygene (data hygene that is...)

SAGE computer room | Free Pictures

I'm speaking at the AVECTRA User Group meeting in Orlando on February 27 thru March 1. Needless to say, membership promotoin and data as topics are on my mind. To that point, the MGI Tipster just went out today and had some good advice and I wanted to share it with you today just in case you don't subscribe (if you don't, go to and sign up for the FREE subscription).

"Data accuracy is key

Reaching back to former members only works well when adequate database hygiene practices are in place. Running records through the postal system's National Change of Address (NCOA), which updates names and addresses going back 48 months, should be done on a regular basis. It's not only a requirement for being awarded postal presort discounts, it helps ensure that the membership files are up-to-date and optimized.

Another way to track down lapsed members is to use USPS Ancillary Service Endorsements that give the USPS instructions on how to handle undeliverable-as-addressed pieces.

From a cost point of view, when all is said and done, reaching out to former members is almost always more efficient than recruiting prospects who have never been members."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bad Quarter for the Post Office...But what does that mean to us?

Frank Washkuch’s article “Postal Service fiscal Q1 net loss hits $329M, posted on February 9, 2011, in the online issue of Direct Marketing News article outlined some serious fiscal issues facing our beloved Postal Service. Here is a summary of the salient issues:

• net loss of $329 million in its first quarter, which ended December 31, 2010.

• Revenue from mailing services decreased 3.3% year-over-year to $15.3 billion.
• Revenue from shipping services improved by 1.7% to $2.6 billion compared with the same period.
• Shipping volume increased 2.4% year-over-year in the quarter to 422 million pieces.
• First-Class Mail volume was down 5.6% year-over-year to 20 billion pieces.
• Standard Mail volume improved by 8.7% to 23.8 billion pieces.
• Periodicals mail was steady in the quarter at 1.9 billion pieces.
• However, the USPS said it would have seen income of $226 million in fiscal Q1 if not for the cost of prefunding retiree healthcare benefits and noncash adjustments to the workers' compensation liability.
• The USPS lost $8.5 billion in FY 2010.
• The organization also warned that, without reform, it could default on some financial obligations to the federal government by the end of this fiscal year.

What does this mean to membership association professionals who count on the postal service as a channel to deliver member acquisition, engagement and renewal material?

For one thing, the services we mostly use – Standard Mail and Periodicals Mail - seem to be the ‘honey holes’ (using my Arkansas bass fishing reference) for the Postal Service. Very good! They won’t want to impede those channels with further restrictions or more complicated paperwork. This is also good for the mail houses and merge-purge vendors who help us prepare the lists and materials.

Shipping service revenue is also up. They may want to expand this which could open up new ways to deliver our material, possibly moving some of the Standard Mail here and maybe even fostering creative new printing products to help deliver that messaging.

On the other hand, if revenues in First-Class continue to sink (as many believe it will do), that lost revenue needs to be acquired from somewhere. Sure, they are implementing savings programs, you can save your way to profitability but you can’t save your way to growth…and like all ventures, if you don’t grow, you die.

Over the next 18 months I think that we’ll see some interesting new developments at the Post Office. New products, expansion of Standard Mail and contraction of First-Class Mail, new requirements to make mailing easier &/or less costly as we see basic rates increase.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Estimates on Changes in Promotion Spending for 2011

I just finished reading Richard Levey's January 26, 2011 post on Chief Marketer entitled "Acquisition Spending, Direct Mail on the Rise: Winterberry Report."

He reports that Bruce Biegel writes "...that mail as an ad medium has seen a resurgence of late, and will continue to do so." A very different story than was written in 2009 by this same group.

Of greater interest to me as an association marketer is that  in 2010 marketers spent $154.4 billion for direct and digital advertising. In 2011, direct and digital expenditures will rise to $163.9 billion, taking money from "traditional channels" like TV, radio and space ad. Interesting to note that the within the 2010 rise digital spending realized the biggest jump—8.5%—winding up at $27.7 billion.

Biegel sees direct and digital channels as making gains, with overall spending on these channels expected to rise by 6.2%, racking up $163.9 billion in expenditures. Direct mail will grow by a healthy 5.8%, to $47.8 billion.

Among other channels, direct response broadcast is anticipated as jumping by 7.6%, to $25.4 billion, and digital spending will show the largest growth – 14%, to $31.6 billion.

When marketing budgets expand, however, digital mediums are claiming most of the increases. Email, search and mobile marketing led the pack when Winterberry asked marketers which channels were capturing new spending.

But WHY is this of interest to us?

Several reasons:
1) Those marketers with the biggest budgets are moving their spending from horizontal channels to vertical channels. Not "new news," but something to remember when we as association marketers. We must invest in the tools that will help us identify the horizontal markets within our horizontal market. That means invest in your CRM. It is that tool that will help you the most in being able to identify AND capitalize on the nuances within your markets.

2) Buying is a learned behavior. As more and more dollars are spent on selling products and educating markets through the mail and the Internet, more and more of our prospects, members and customers will come to DEPEND on these mediums to help them make their purchases. We know, when selecting lists, that a direct mail response list outperforms a compiled list...for the same reason.

Levey reports that Begel estimates that in "....2011, spending on (e-mail) will jump 18.1% to $1.6 billion. As a retention vehicle, e-mail remains marketers’ most cost effective medium. Search spending is also expected to increase by 13%, to $17.6 billion. And finally, spending on social media is projected to jump 35.4% to $1.6 billion. The year will also see leaps in analytic capabilities, mobile advertising (estimated at $1.2 billion which is a 30.8% rise from 2010’s level) driven by coupon use and improvements location-based targeting.

As a consumer, 10 years ago I would see an ad about a product, maybe ask one or two friends about it, call the company, maybe then place an order or send in the solo direct mail piece or the catalog I received.

Now, I receive the email/solo dm/catalog, look it up on line, ask my 500+ friends on FB, Twitter about it, STILL call the company, and then I'll buy perhaps using the catalog, phone, email/website or the solo dm piece.

In 2 years, I may do this all by my 'smart' phone.

HERE IT IS! I'm learning a new buying behavior. And if an association wants me to join or buy a product, since they don't know what my PREFERED BUYING BEHAVIOR IS, you better be equally good on all fronts.