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Social Media Networking For Businesses 101

  
  
  
  

To Twit, or not to Twit, that is the question.  Whether 'tis nobler to post to LinkedIn or to Facebook.

For those of you wondering whether or not all this hullaballoo about the new in thing for Business--"Social Media" is anything that you need to be concerned with, please read on.

It's time to take the blinders off and start to take notice that this technology obsessed society of ours has fallen in love with anything and everything that can be accomplished with a cell phone.

follow golfingdougJust this afternoon, I walked a client through how she could use Twitter and Become a fan of The GolfRing on FacebookFacebook to create additional buzz for her product offerings.  She cringed a bit at the thought of developing such an intimate relationship with her cell phone (a geometrically increasing percentage of tweets--Twitter updates for the uninitiated--are executed from sms emabled phones).  I assured her that it could become quite addictive--note to self, check for Twittering obsessed groups on Google.  Doug Sauerhaft on LinkeninTold her that her Twitter account could be set up so that her posts were picked up and displayed on her Facebook page and her LinkedIn and/or Plaxo pages as well.  She did warm to the idea of accomplishing four tasks with the push of the send button...Lol. But I digress.

What is Social Media? 

Short question, long answer. According to Wikipedia, "Social media is a term used to describe the type of media that is based on conversation and interaction between people online." "Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. "  Now what the heck does that mean?  It's an outlet for people to quickly, easily and inexpensively communicate their likes and dislikes to hundreds, thousands and in certain instances, millions of readers. Wikipedia also states, "Social media have become appealing to big and small businesses. Credible brands are utilizing social media to reach customers and to build or maintain reputation."

Check out this article by Paul Chaney, author of The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media in Marketing Profs on "The Three Most Popular Social Networks for Business (and Why You Should Use Them)".  It discusses the basics for LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for Business.

I'll be diving into using this chanel in more depth, but suffice it to say that if you aren't using Social Media sites to help build your business, you should.  More importantly, your competition probably is, or will be soon.

If you have any questions, please post your comments or email me at dcslistguy@greatmailinglists.com

Regards,

 Doug

Time to start Digging Those PreMover Leads Worms

  
  
  
  

The worms are fat and ready to dig.  That's right, I know I've written about them in the past, but Premover Leads from my multiple moving services supplier ARE FINALLY HERE!.

We've all heard the business axiom "The early Bird gets the Worm".  It was true back when this phrase was first coined--and it is even more true in today's tepid economy.  Truisms like the worm and "a bird in hand..." focus on one very important factor that tends to get downplayed in an up Economy.  And now that the Economy is down, down, down, it should not be overlooked as a necessary solution to not only your business's prosperity, but survival.

FIRST

There's no place like first.  We live in a first society.  First is almost always considered best by default. 

So when it comes to developing new leads/customers for your business both on and off line what do you do?  Well online, you might optimize your website, send email to your customers and approved prospects, you might have an affiliate program, you might buy web based ads like banners, columns, pop-ups, pop-unders, you might purchase keywords...Off line you mail to your customers, you might purchase mailing lists of potential new customers, you might do some telemarketing, you mail ruthlessly to your housefile, AND if you have a brick and mortar presence, you mail New Mover Lists.

But none of this is sustaining your business.  Churn rate has risen alarmingly and your new customer acquisition programs just aren't cutting it.  There are fewer New Movers and the competition mailing to those New Movers is intense.  New Movers' mailboxes are filled with a glut of offers--useful, and might I dare say..."Junque" mail.

What to do?

So just how do you differentiate yourself to gain a foothold and get ahead in this wonderful business climate?

...think FIRST.

If the competition is beating you to the punch or nipping at your heels with their own New Mover acquisition programs, then stop waiting to reach prospects after they move and reach them Before they move with real premover leads! 

All PreMover Leads are not created Equally

In fact, only premover leads from www.premoverleads.com are aged by an actual hard move date.  Any other pre-mover lead is either based on mls listings or Real Estate advertising...and especially in today's marketplace, that is not a valid indication that a move is going to take place any time soon, let alone at a fixed date like the leads from premoverleads.com.

These leads enable you to contact the soon-to-be mover by phone or at their current home address and establish a relationship with the prospect before they even move into your zip code.  On moving day your prospect can arrive with your information on hand, and with one less worry...and that much closer--if you haven't closed them already--to being your new customer.

And that is how you can get the Best worms!

Post Cards as a Marketing Tool Redux

  
  
  
  

It's been a couple of years since I wrote about Post Cards as a marketing vehicle.  In the past 36 Months business life as we knew it has drastically changed.  And yet, the opportunity to successfully launch a localized business and grow marketshare within one's geographic footprint using direct mailing lists have never been better.

And one of the few things that has remained constant for my clients is the success those using Post Card marketing (SNAIL MAIL  -- Gosh how I hate that term!!!) to attract customers still achieve.

But there's a catch...

Like many things in life, Post Card marketing also has a catch.  It's called FREQUENCY.  Mail the same audience a second time about 2 and a half weeks after your intial mailing.  This will help you to maximize exposure and increase response.  (Make sure you order your mailing list for "multiple" or "unlimited" use to make sure that you can use the list more than once).

Over the years I've spoken with thousands of small business and home business entrepreneurs.  Each of them looking for the most effective means to deliver their message into the hands of their target audience.  With the proliferation of the Internet and email into the fabric of our society, many folks in my opinion, mistakenly fall in love with the concept of using email lists to drive cold traffic.  I'm not anti-email.  Far from it.

Email is an incredible vehicle, but as a prefered solution for building a business on a shoe-string budget...it is not.  Email to communicate with customers/clients is a magnificently efficient tool.  But unless you have a significant budget to devote to the testing of Subject Lines, copy, images, etc...the odds of hitting a winner with a one-shot email blast is slim.

Targeted Direct Mail on the other hand is a much better bet.  Once you have chosen the right list(s) for your marketing effort (Reference my post on "How Do I Buy a Great Mailing List") you need to decide what message you want to communicate to your prospect.  Once you have determined this, you next must design a mailing piece around your call to action (Reference my post on "Do I Need a Good Call to Action in My Direct Marketing Pieces?".

And that is where we come to WHY I like Postcards as a Marketing Tool.

Next time you go to your mailbox, observe yourself.  Once you have thumbed through your mail, stop and replay what you did.  Was there anything that caught your eye?  Any plain or unexpected #10 envelopes that just made you want to open them?  Probably not, unless they used 4-color artwork or were from a company that you were familiar with.  How long did it take you to go through your mail and determine what was trash and what you would/needed to keep?  Not long, huh?

So, in that fraction of a second when you were determining the fate of a piece of unsolicited mail what tempted you?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe it was an attractive or interesting postcard?  It certainly wasn't a plain envelope.

The beauty of a postcard is that it NEVER has to be opened.  In that fraction of a second that you will have to convince your prospect to keep you from the recycling bin (we're all thinking Green these days, right?) having a postcard with your call to action staring them in the face gives you a much higher probability of gaining relevance in the prospects eyes than an envelope that needs to be opened.

Looking for a low cost, high quality quote for your post card marketing job, email me at dcslistguy@greatmailinglists.com and I'll be happy to get you a no hassle, no strings quote.

Getting the Best Worms

  
  
  
  

We've all heard the business axiom "The early Bird gets the Worm".  It was true back when this phrase was first coined--and it is even more true in today's tepid economy.  Truisms like the worm and "a bird in hand..." focus on one very important factor that tends to get downplayed in an up Economy.  And now that the Economy is down, down, down, it should not be overlooked as a necessary solution to not only your business's prosperity, but survival.

FIRST

There's no place like first.  We live in a first society.  First is almost always considered best by default. 

So when it comes to developing new leads/customers for your business both on and off line what do you do?  Well online, you might optimize your website, send email to your customers and approved prospects, you might have an affiliate program, you might buy web based ads like banners, columns, pop-ups, pop-unders, you might purchase keywords...Off line you mail to your customers, you might purchase mailing lists of potential new customers, you might do some telemarketing, you mail ruthlessly to your housefile, AND if you have a brick and mortar presence, you mail New Mover Lists.

But none of this is sustaining your business.  Churn rate has risen alarmingly and your new customer acquisition programs just aren't cutting it.  There are fewer New Movers and the competition mailing to those New Movers is intense.  New Movers' mailboxes are filled with a glut of offers--useful, and might I dare say..."Junque" mail.

What to do?

So just how do you differentiate yourself to gain a foothold and get ahead in this wonderful business climate?

...think FIRST.

If the competition is beating you to the punch or nipping at your heels with their own New Mover acquisition programs, then stop waiting to reach prospects after they move and reach them Before they move with real premover leads! 

All PreMover Leads are not created Equally

In fact, only premover leads from www.premoverleads.com are aged by an actual hard move date.  Any other pre-mover lead is either based on mls listings or Real Estate advertising...and especially in today's marketplace, that is not a valid indication that a move is going to take place any time soon, let alone at a fixed date like the leads from premoverleads.com.

These leads enable you to contact the soon-to-be mover by phone or at their current home address and establish a relationship with the prospect before they even move into your zip code.  On moving day your prospect can arrive with your information on hand, and with one less worry...and that much closer--if you haven't closed them already--to being your new customer.

And that is how you can get the Best worms!

Email Marketing On the Rise, Direct Mail in Steep Decline

  
  
  
  

According to a study released yesterday by media research and consulting firm Borrell Associates, Direct mail spending will drop by as much as 39% during the next five years from $49.7 billion in 2008 to $29.8 billion in 2013.

Email is the #1 Choice

The Borell Associates study predicts email will continue to grow in importance as the preferred online advertising outlet. "e-mail advertising quietly moved to the No. 1 online ad category spot, surpassing all other forms of interactive advertising. Advertisers spent $12.1 billion last year on e-mail marketing, more than they spent on display/banner advertising or search advertising. We're predicting that e-mail will continue to distance itself from other online advertising formats over the next five years, growing to $15.7 billion and remaining the preferred channel among many marketers."

Local Email Advertising Will Lead The Growth

So where is the growth going to come from?  Borell believes that "Most of the growth in e-mail marketing will be local. We're expecting local e-mail advertising to grow from $848 million in 2008, to $2 billion in 2013, as more small businesses abandon direct mail couponing and promotional offers and turn to a more measurable and less costly medium, e-mail.

Borell cautions "Those trying to latch onto this trend aren't likely to strike instant gold. Managing large e-mail marketing campaigns require database marketing expertise, a savvy sales force, adequate e-mail management software, familiarity with the rules and regulations and a lot of patience."

So just how exactly can a small, SOHO, or geographically targeted (local) business begin to use email to advertise to Consumers effectively?

Email Made Easy

We offer a way for companies without their own cultivated list of customers and prospects to effectively email market to Consumers within their geographic footprint.  Now you can send emails using our easy to build template system to create your email message and select the geography you want to send to.

How hard is it to use?  Easy. It's Email Made Easy.

Simply click on the banner below to find out just how easy.

We'll be happy to assist you in creating your Subject Line and critiquing your content at NO Additional Charge.

Get started using email to help you grow your business.

2013 Off To Strong First Quarter for Direct Mailing Lists Provider

  
  
  
  

First Quarter 2013 Sales are up over 30% against Q1 '12 here at DCS Marketing Solutions LLC and GreatMailingLists.com.  I don't say this to be boastful--although it is nice to see--but as a thank you to our customers and more importantly as a barometer of change in today's business marketplace.

Change or Die

These are the worst of times, these are the best of times, to paraphrase Charles Dickens.  For almost everyone, concern over finacial instability and the present--let alone the future--is a reality and not just an emotional response.  Need I go on?...

This is the 30th year that I am blessed to be working in the Direct Marketing industry.  I have observed many socio and economic changes in this country during this time--having worked during three (3) prior economic downturns (although none quite as harsh as this one) and one thing stands out to me about Amercian Business throughout.

  • Small business drives this country during economic downturns.
  • Big business will never fail to screw good people.
  • Americans are a resourceful lot and we come up with workable solutions where others see none.
  • Greedy people suck.

And where is all this leading...why Change of course!

Change is why my company's business is outperforming 1st Qtr. 2012.

The landscape of American business is once again changing and a multitude of small businesses are being launched by former executives and sales people from bigger businesses.  The net result is leaner, more lithe businesses that are better prepared to bend with the prevailing wind and not snap like a tree in a hurricane.

These businesses need cost effective solutions that don't hold them to annual contracts or exhorbitant minimums.  And that is why our Mission Statement is: "GreatMailingLists.com is a website developed to provide superior general interest and niche market direct mailing lists and email marketing lists to small and mid-sized businesses.  Because these lists are available direct online, we are able to keep costs down--which we pass on to you, the end user. "

And even with our low costs and low minimums, we have been known to work with new businesses to help them to establish themselves whenever necessary.

I have been known to spend 15 or 20 minutes talking with a prospective customer trying to talk them out of doing what they thought was a great idea...why?  Because it's the right thing to do, and wish there were more people out in the business world who would do the same for me in certain situations.

I'm told we reap what we sow.

First Quarter Sales are up over 30% here.

If you'd like some help with your direct marketing efforts, send me an email at dcslistguy@greatmailinglists.com 

 

In the next few weeks we will be launching an entirely new way to target local prospects on a nationwide scale. 

Premovers.

Now you say awe shucks Doug, I've tried premover lists before, they work ok in a brisk marketplace, but in today's economy--simply knowing that someone is advertising their house for sale is not a measureable indicator that they are moving.  TRUE.

That's because you haven't tested our Premovers yet.  These premovers come from moving related services sources and we have the ACTUAL MOVE DATE.

Now these leads don't come cheaply, but think about this.  These leads give you the ability to communicate with a New Mover before they even move into their new neighborhood.  That type of leg-up on the competition is priceless.

 

At DCS Marketing Solutions LLC and GreatMailingLists.com it doesn't matter to us whether you drive a Porsche or a Chevy.  If you're looking for help to grow your business, we're here.

 

How to Win with Direct Mailing Lists in a Losing Economy

  
  
  
  

Republicans, Democrats, Independents and all non-affiliated Americans are all secretly, and not-so-secretly rooting for newly elected President Obama and his political Agenda to take successful steps to stop the bleeding and begin the much needed repairing of our anemic economy.

But until that day comes--and hopefully it is soon--it's survival of the fitest.  At last look at The Dow, the meek are destined to inherit nothing.  Those brave enough to embrace change will prosper--everyone else will do their level best to tread water.

What kind of business are you?  The meek?  The brave? Or are you a fan of the doggie-paddle?

Quick Business Assessment

1.  Customer Value is down.  Customers are just spending less.  The   profitability of individual customers is off 30% or more.

2.  Customer Erosion.  Typically, Merchants experience annual churn of 20% 1

3.  Layoffs, cutbacks, down-sizing, gurding for survival over the long-haul, these are the moral crushing realities of almost all of our businesses as we proceed through Q1 of '09.

In  With The New

Replace the old with the new.  Not an original concept by any stretch of the imagination; just a sound one.  But how do you do it? 

For local or regionalized businesses (after all this is a Blog for small to mid-size business) finding new customers comes two ways.  Develop a new relationship with an established resident(s) living within your geographic footprint, or grab them when they're new.  Success with existing residents comes with tweeking your existing sales and marketing efforts, and one that I can't personnaly speak to on your behalf. 

But the second one...revolves around identifying and targeting New Movers to your business trade area.  Now New Movers is not a "new" thing.  And in fact, there is intense competition to curry the favor of New Movers everywhere these days.  And the chief problem with targeting New Movers as an acquisition strategy today is that New Moves themselves are off by 20% 2 or more.  Hence, the available pool is diminished, while the competition has exponentially increased.

How To Win

The concept is simple.  Get to the New Mover BEFORE they move.  Introduce yourself and your business to your future new trade area resident before they move.  Avoid competing with the glut of New Mover offers that irritate and inundate every new mover today.

OK, so "How do I do that?" you ask? 

Pre Mover mailing or per inquiry phone leads.

So maybe you're thinking, "I've already tried "Pre Mover" lists and they just aren't dependable.  Especially in today's abysmal Housing Sale Market!  And if you are thinking this, you would be Absolutely Correct!  Today's Pre Mover lists are predicated on Real Estate Advertising...and that is not a valid indicator as to when someone will be moving today.

But there is a solution.  And it is coming soon.  Very soon.  It is a Pre Mover list that is triggered by a Moving Services quote request.  These soon-to-be-moving to a neighborhood close to you leads will be available on a weekly basis and typically become available 5-7 weeks prior to the actual move date.  Plenty of time for the prepared marketer to send one, even two direct mail solicitations, or to execute a well planned phone introduction/conversion campaign.

I'll be announcing the availability date of this Fabulous new customer acquisition tool in the coming weeks.  Send me an email with your contact info and I'll contact you a week before I Blog about it.

You can Win, even in this Economy!

dcslistguy@charter.net

1:  Page 1. "How to Overcome Retail-Customer Erosion by Capturing New Residents", Moving Targets, 2006.

2:  Page 1. "Fewer People Are Moving, Epsilon Report Shows", DIRECT Magazine Chief Marketer Online, Feb. 9, 2009.

 

Top 100 Blogs For Small-Business Cost Cutting Inspiration

  
  
  
  

The Web Design Schools Guide recently came out with its list of the Top 100 Blogs aimed at helping Small Businesses save costs in the following Categories: 

  • General Business Finance
  • Accounting
  • News
  • Business Inspiration
  • Startup
  • Frugality
  • Business & Personal
  • Cost & Supply Management
  • Marketing & Customer Service

"In this economy, everyone's looking for ways to cut down, and small businesses are no exception. One of the best ways to save money in business is to examine your annual expenses and consider how you can decrease those costs. Thankfully, there are some pretty amazing resources to help you figure out new ways to do just that. Check out what we consider to be the top 100 blogs for resources and inspiration to cutting your small business costs in 2009:"

This list is helpful for any small business, whether they are using direct mailing lists, email marketing lists or any other media to market and promote their businesses.

I encourage each of you to check out and Bookmark the following link.

http://www.webdesignschoolsguide.com/library/top-100-blogs-for-small-business-cost-cutting-inspiration.html

As always, the DCSListguy is here to help you succeed with your marketing efforts.

 

Setting Goals for the First Quarter of 2009

  
  
  
  

It's important to set goals for any business.  If you don't have goals and objectives to measure yourself by, how are you going to know if you are achieving them?

Just looking at your account balance on your business checking is not the smartest way to measure small business growth.

Tell me what your business goals are for the first quarter and I will compile and aggregate them into a post in a couple of weeks.

Send me an email to dcslistguy@greatmailinglists.com listing your top 5 objectives or leave a comment at the end of this post.

 Here are my goals.

1.  Improve communication with my prospects/customers.

2.  Focus on improving my direct mailing lists conversion activity.

3.  Continue to develop my email marketing lists sales.

4.  Expand my eMarketing client base.

5.  Show my wife I love and respect her, every day.

Hoping everyone has a successful first quarter.

Happy New Year everyone!

Doug the DCSListGuy.

Targeting and Timing -- The Keys to Successful Small Business Direct Mailing List Marketing

  
  
  
  

I consult with dozens of small business owners each week.  Without exception, each seeks to grow their business as inexpensively as possible--especially in today's tenuous marketplace.  Some are quite focused on how to go about building their business and have an actionable direct mailing lists plan that they are just looking to me to fulfill with a list or help them tweek.  For them, I am happy to oblige.

But for the most part, the small business and home business owners I speak with fall into three categories:   I only want 100 Leads,  I Want an Email List, Bigger is Better.

For those looking for 100 leads, or for 1,000 for that matter, there really is nothing I can say or do that can help them.  Why?  Because at those tiny numbers, the likelihood of getting any responses is remote.  We have very low minimums--$200 for Consumer and $250 for Business.  Why?  Because that is the bare minimum that our experience tells us that you can have opportunity to receive a reasonable response from.  If you don't have budget for that, it is going to be quite difficult to make a go of using direct mailing lists to grow your business.

For there person coming in telling me that they want to buy an email list to drive people to their website, or to build foot traffic at their brick and mortar location, I typically ask why?  Nine times out of ten when I tell them how much they cost and what the minimum quantities are, they say that it's very expensive.  And they are right.  Quality emails are not cheap.  General Internet untargeted emails (Bulk) are cheap.  Then I launch into my spiel and they usually shift interest to a mailing list strategy...like the one to follow shortly.

And for the optimist contacting me saying they want a count for all of the people who buy from catalogs in the country...I try to reign them in.

Always work within your budget.  There is no point in overspending on your test.  What if you need to make changes and re-test?  You'll neeed budget for that as well.

Targeting

Define your target market prospects as tightly as possible.  Make the parameters for your direct mailing lists narrow, not broad.  You can always loosen up your criteria to increase circulation once you have found your sweet spot.

At this point, I want to share that I ALWAYS recommend that a small business do postcard marketing to drive traffic to their on and/or offline businesses.

Buying Your Direct Mailing Lists

When I first started in the Direct Marketing Industry back in the 1980's, the big buzz was "shotgun" marketing.  Lists were relatively inexpensive, postage was a small fraction of what it is today, and the philosophy of the day with many successful marketers was "the more hooks you put in the sea, the more fish you catch."  And then targeting started to become more important.  And more important.  And more important.

Today the buzz words are "relevance", "content", "frequency", or timeliness.  Relevance is addressed with proper targeting.  Content is strictly a factor of the marketers' ability to effectively communicate their message to the recipient.  And Frequency is the focus of this post.

Timing

Frequency, frequency, frequency.  In email, you can find marketing experts that claim you need to send a prospect message 5 times or more to maximize effectivness.  Well I have found that it is not a lot different with certain direct mail.

You are a small business that is opening a new location, or seeks to generate new customer activity at a site (New Memberships, New Customers, etc...) then you want to saturate your target market within your target geography.  And to do so you need to mail more than once over a period of time.  Say once every three weeks for at least 3 times.  This enables you to build up recognition with a prospective customer (even though that postcard might get tossed the first time, there will be some recognition established for the second or third time received).  They might have looked briefly at the card, considered it and either put it aside--where it sits until this day covered by something, or they might dismiss you the first time.  But when they receive your card the second time, they take action.

So my recommendation is to:

1.  Define your Budget.

2.  Target your most responsive customers.

3.  Purchase direct mailing lists for unlimited use, keeping within #1 above.

 

 

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