Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why? A critical question before using new media.

Why? A simple question that is rarely considered when jumping into something new. It's a simple question, yet the answer can be very telling and more important, will give you direction to your use of (or choice NOT to use) a new medium for prospecting.

Why use Twitter?
Why use Facebook?
Why use direct mail?
Why use billboards?

The answer to these will dictate how to use each medium AND will guide you to create tracking/performance strategies to show that the medium that you select is effective and meeting your needs. How can you determine if your use of a given media choice is effective if you don't know why you are using it? What do you hope to get from your use and most importantly, how can you track whether or not your use is effective?

Let's look at an example. The President of your institution announces "This Twitter thing is huge, we need to use Twitter to reach new prospects!". Not an uncommon event where the word for action comes down from on high. Yet, even though Twitter IS huge, can it be used for his intended purpose? I would state, without hesitation, that the answer is no. Twitter has no way of identifying people who want a degree or who want to return to school to finish their degree. Twitter is a highly effective way of communicating with people who ARE interested in what you are selling, but is a very poor tool for raw recruitment. The question has to be asked, WHY?

Everyone at the institution needs to understand the answer to the question "WHY?"! Use this question to do the following:

  1. Determine what you want to accomplish.
  2. Evaluate how a given medium can help you meet that goal.
  3. If your goal can't be met OR measured, move to another medium.
  4. Moving forward create and implement tracking methods to determine if your goals are being met.
  5. Have everyone involved buy into the goals that you hope to accomplish and on the measurements that will be used to reach those goals.
  6. Be prepared that if the goals aren't met, abandon this medium (for the given use only) and try something else.

The greatest failure in most systems is not asking Why? It's determining the answer to this question that will drive it's success or failure.

Looking back at the President's edict to use Twitter, ask them Why? Ask them what they want/think Twitter will do for them or their institution. Then, go do your research and see if it's possible to get more followers than Ashton Kutchner!

I picked up this idea at the STAMATS Adult Student Conference I'm attending as a sponsor. for more information, don't hesitate to contact David Fant, Owner Market Mapping plus LLC

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Comments on Stamats Adult Education Conference

I'm attending the Stamats Adult Education conference in San Antonio this week as one of their conference sponsors. Yesterday we had a presentation on Integrated Marketing Plans. It was interesting and quite insightful and unfortunately I can't post the entire presentation here. I do have a few observations/ideas that came from the presentation.

Don't Over Promise - Always remember when developing ALL forms of marketing...What you promise you MUST produce! More students leave an institution when they realize that the promises made in advertising, campus meetings have not been kept.

Tracking Performance - When doing different types of marketing tracking performance is critical. (More on this in a later blog.) When you are measuring your marketing program you are an investment, without measurement on performance and success you are an expense.

Strategy - The purpose of strategy is to differentiate your institution from your competitors in ways that target audiences value.

Commodity vs Brand - Which are you? A commodity is something people select using cost and convenience as the primary decision point. A Brand is selected based on the institutions Brand/Quality/Reputation.

Competitors - Identify the 5 or 6 key competitors in your market area. DON'T market or do what they do, be different. Set yourself apart.

How you think about your performance. - Marketing people tend to look at what they did. I produced 20 brochures, 15 events. Don't fall into this trap. focus on OUTCOMES. I got 200 people to attend an open house. We received 400 leads for Admissions to sell.

Brand Marketing - Who you are, what you are. Basically your brand or what I call institutional promotional marketing/advertising.

Direct Marketing - Designed to create a response. Use this to drive admissions, participation in institutional events.

I found this final comment to be SOOOO insightful. Direct Marketing has never changed, The PROCESS has changed. Don't let the internet, social media, or more traditional methods of marketing shift your focus. Find a way to integrate these new media into your media mix but the new methods of direct marketing are just that NEW. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

I will write more. Time for day 2.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why use a list broker?

As with virtually every industry there are generalists and specialists. People who work in some industries have knowledge about fringe or related businesses, but their primary job may not be what you need for your project. As an example, if you have a plumbing problem you wouldn't call an electritian to do the work. Even though he may have knowledge of plumbing, his training and experience are definitely NOT in the area that you need.

List Brokers fall into the same classification. If you are looking for a mailing list why go to a printer, ad agency, or search the web? Although these may give you what you are looking for, are they specifically trained to make sure you are getting EXACTLY what you want in a format that you need it in? When was the list last cleaned or updated? Does it include marginal addresses that may not be deliverable according to the United States Postal Service? How is the list compiled? Who is the contact name ( if any) on the mailing list? Also, you have to keep in mind that printers and agencies tend to mark up their lists. So you are paying more than retail for your list. Something that will never (or should never) happen when dealing with a list broker.

All of these questions and hundreds more are what List Brokers do for their clients. Many people assume that they are saving money by letting their printer or ad agency purchase their list, but list brokers work in a unique environment where they are paid by the list owner to order their list for clients. The amount you pay is exactly what it would cost if you went directly to the list owner BUT the List Broker will do all of the leg work for you. They will prequalify the list, find out when it was updated last, if it is CASS Certified which will allow you to get the lowest postage discount possible, and if the list can be segmented by the demographics you need for your marketing efforts.

All of this work is done for you at NO extra charge. I recently did a search for a client and came up with six list recommendations for their direct mail project. My client only needed to evaluate each list, the source of the information, when it was last updated and the price. From there, they selected the lists that best met their needs.

In addition, List Brokers can help you understand that it's not just the list your buying, but if you are purchasing multiple lists, merge/purge them against each other, and the multi hits (names that fall into more than one list) are ideal for future mailings. Afterall, you paid for the name, use it!

As a List Broker of over 20 years I value the relationship with my clients. Finding more information and better lists for my clients makes them more effective AND brings them back for more. Don't look at your broker as a vendor, but rather a partner. Someone who is as interested in your success as you are. And, someone who can save you money by doing all of your research for free and NOT marking up your list costs.