Author Archives: Matt Haskell

About Matt Haskell

Matt Haskell is the Social Media Marketing Manager for SourceLink. His passion for all things social, along with digital innovations and technological advancements shows up in many of his blog entries. From time to time, his obsession for pop culture also surfaces in his entries! SourceLink in an industry-leading marketing services provider focused on data-based marketing solutions using social media, customer intelligence, database build, along with modeling & analytics. Find SourceLink on Twitter (@SourceLInk) and on Facebook.

Fantasy Football and the Nuances of Marketing

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This season begins something very special for me. Something that will cause me a lack of sleep, an obsession with statistics and countless “what-ifs.” This weekend marks the start of Fantasy Football and my inevitable anxiety and obsession with all things NFL. And, if you regularly read my blog, you might be asking “What does Fantasy Football have to do with my marketing strategy?” Well, you’re in luck, because I’m going to tell you.

Trust in the workhorse

Last year, my friends all pointed and laughed at me for picking Maurice Jones Drew (MJD) with my first pick of the year. I said “This guy is a workhorse. He performed well last year, is healthy, and he gets the bulk of the offensive plays for his team.” Guess what? I was right. MJD was the leading rusher in the NFL and helped me win my league.

Direct mail is the MJD of your fantasy marketing team. Not necessarily hyped or flashy, but reliable, consistent and effective. According to the DMNews website, “Depending on how one crunches the numbers, direct mail has a response rate of up to 10 to 30 times that of email.” That’s a workhorse for you. There is something to be said about reliability, and direct mail might be the most reliable of marketing methods.

It’s all about the match-ups!

With any Fantasy week, it’s all about the matchups. A star wide receiver’s projections are heavily impacted by the cornerback he is up against that week (Revis Island, anyone?). Marketing is no different. You must adjust your messaging to be appropriate to the audience. Digital print offers the ability to adjust the message to every recipient, with tailored transpromotional messaging and personalized design and copy. Think of digital print as the Redskins running back corps, you might see a different back every down, whichever one fits the situation best. A blanket approach doesn’t always work. Every week, you might have a slightly altered “matchup” of customers to communicate with, and based on the data at your fingertips, might need to adjust your “roster” of channels and messages.

Adjust what isn’t working

If Chris Johnson can’t get in the end-zone, you eventually have to bench him until he improves! Just like a running back with contract negation issues, if a messaging approach isn’t working for your audience, start someone else! Data-based messaging and variable data print allow a pitch to be adjusted throughout the campaign, and the message made to cater to what is working for each audience.

Fear not! With the right measurables and a marketing database to track your effectiveness, you can gain an overview of response rates, conversions and ROI statistics. Just because a player was your top choice, doesn’t mean you have to stick with him week in and week out. Diversify your approach if it isn’t working!

So as the first games of the season roll around, I feel I have my (3) teams in pretty good shape (despite the trash talking of my co-workers and college buddies). By using the data at my fingertips to tailor every step of my approach, choosing reliable methods to complement my emerging stars and continually improving, revising and adjusting my roster, I have a pretty good feeling I might repeat as league champ! Can you?

 

Printing Goes Hollywood!

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The 3-D animated zombie movie, Paranorman, debuted in theaters this past weekend to critical and commercial success. Why am I writing about an animated film in a marketing blog you might ask? PRINT!

Yes, print technology made the depth of animation and the thousands of facial expressions possible for this film. Laika studios took full advantage of Rapid Prototype, or 3D printing techniques to create the seemingly endless array of textures and features required to transform this stop-motion animation feature. When using clay, the options are limited, and this emerging 3D print technology fixes many issues with clay. “Stop-motion has always had the advantage of beautiful sets, atmospheres and textures,” says Brian McLean, Laika’s director of rapid prototyping. “But the facial performances have always been a little limited. Now, with the advent of 3-D printing, there are no limitations.”

So, although not “printing” in the traditional sense, it made me think of how far print technology has come in the past twenty years. I printed out my school reports on a DOT MATRIX printer. That thing took forever! Fast forward to home color printers, and inkjet and laser technologies! Nowadays, commercial printers can print over 1000 letter-size impressions per minute with variable impressions on every page. Much faster than my dot matrix. Print technology continues to evolve daily.

Although you might not benefit from moldings to create your own stop-motion feature, you can certainly benefit from variable QR code printing, or personalization based on demographic data from your database. With print technology advancements, the applications also increase. Imagine the day where you marketing partner can produce 3D incarnations of objects personalized to each recipient (see video below)! Print technology is becoming more advanced and more affordable every day, and the applications of this technology can reach you as far as the imagination can go, even if the results are little “ParaNorman!”

Direct Mail Will Never Die!! Here’s Why

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Direct mail is here to stay! Want to know why? Two reasons: technology.

“Wait! That’s only one reason!” says my nay-saying coworker watching me type this blog. First I ask her to stop standing behind me and explain, technology can work in two very separate ways to promote the expansion of direct mail.

1. Technology used in conjunction with Direct Mail can only serve to make it stronger

Mail pieces and technology are like the high school quarterback and the well-liked cheerleader. Direct mail is the star quarterback: reliable, smart, and firm to the touch. Technology is the flashy cheerleader: sharp features, full of new ideas and occasionally loud. Put them together and you have the prom queen and king.

With QR codes and augmented reality applications, direct mail can come alive in your hands. Direct mail immediately becomes social with a scan of the smartphone and an offer to share. Direct mail pieces can immediately transport you to a 3-D world with augmented reality (see video below). The applications are endless, and with the evolution of smartphone technology, new ways to have your phone interact with the printed piece will continue to evolve.

2. Technology and compatibility move at different paces

I was thrilled to get the latest version of Adobe Design Suite, especially for the “Interactive PDF” function that comes along with InDesign. You can add video, interactive buttons, animations and more in a PDF. Sounds awesome right? Well, it is pretty awesome, if everyone has the same operating system, configurations and software version I do. The video portion of the PDF simply wouldn’t work on several other people’s computers. Oh, and forget about making the Interactive PDF work on an iPad. Apple hates Flash.

My point in that seemingly baseless rant is that it doesn’t matter if you have a PC or a Mac, an iPad or a Droid, your direct mail piece looks the same. My PDF originally had flying planes, zooming buttons and a streaming video, but these options didn’t all work for different machines. Direct mail not only is fail-proof between addresses, but it can be variably printed by spoken language, finance criteria or a million other options. Not to mention, Direct Mail technology can have that video that became my white whale literally embedded on the piece. See the video below:

So, in short, direct mail is not going anywhere, as long as it is a part of a multichannel solution.Use direct to redirect might be the mantra of this blog. As long as we still have mailboxes, technology will never outpace the printed piece.

Multichannel Messaging for Non-Profit and Cause Marketing

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After reading Nicole Schappert’s excellent article on using print for cause marketing, it got my wheels turning about all of the great ways that a cross-channel approach can truly benefit charities and non-profits.

I worked in a social work setting for years helping adults afflicted with mental illnesses. For non-profits like these, money is often thin and governmental support is dwindling with each passing year and restricted state budgets. Private and sustainable funding is often the only choice left, and a multichannel marketing approach is the key to obtaining and maintaining funding to keep the doors open.

Modern Print Technology

With the variable-data applicability and highly advanced printing technologies available with the right provider, a charity’s message can come through in ways that it never had before. Personalized messaging, customizable even down to prior giving levels, language spoken and demographics, can provide a tailored message, delivered at the right time. The faces of the population affected by the charity change with each piece of mail whirring through the machine, varied by data sets storing frequency of donation, first-time giving status and levels of contribution. Each piece of mail is personalized to the potential donor, with the name of the recipient and the face of whom they are helping. Follow up emails strengthen this message and emphasize what their gift can do. Every month, the list can be strengthened and reduced so that those who aren’t giving can receive a different message and see the new face representative of how their contribution can help.

Digital Integration

If you don’t think that the aforementioned message will equal conversion, how about this? Each piece of mail with the variable messaging and imaging comes complete with a variable-data QR code that leads to a blog entry FROM the face pictured on the front of the envelope (or from a family member). Wouldn’t that be a powerful call to action? The key to marketing a non-profit organization effectively is figuratively putting a face to the charity, and making sure a memorable message resonates with the audience. Modern technology allows this “face” to be a literal option. The message could be in the form of a blog from a family member, a Facebook page that has photographs and stories of those affected by the charity, a personalized landing page that shows actually HOW their donation impacts an actual person, or an interactive component that places the recipient’s face amongst others that have given. The possibilities are truly endless.

What’s Next?

What a charity needs is a data set, a partner to analyze and refine the results, the right multichannel strategy to harness all of the media available, and a modeling strategy to make the message stronger with each mailing. Modern technology has provided everything you need to personalize the mailing, the follow-up messaging, the landing site and the interactivity of any donation pitch.  If your non-profit is simply mailing a Christmas donor card out every year and not refining what to do with the data gained, you are truly missing out on tremendous multichannel opportunities.

This post first appeared on the SourceLink blog – check out more posts here!

Mountain Dew, Snickers and Personalized Recommendations

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The other day, as I was renting the latest blockbuster hit from the bright red video kiosk beside my pharmacy, my wife called from her vehicle to me about how she wished there was a candy machine beside the video rental device. I related to her that this is the basis of transpromotional marketing! She was unimpressed. This instance got me thinking, “why don’t more businesses take advantage of the captive audience at their hands?”

 

 

For example, with data and research, a snack and soda machine attached to this video rental station could use my selection to provide pertinent recommendations based on my film choice. If I rented “The Fast and the Furious,” the machine may suggest an energy drink and some pork rinds; for “The Artist” it might recommend truffles and Perrier; “Toy Story 3” would come packaged with a case of juice boxes and some Skittles. You get the idea.

The point I am getting to is with the consumer data that companies already have at their fingertips, very sophisticated cross-promotional opportunities exist. Utility companies can analyze usage and print energy saving tips or a coupon for fluorescent light bulbs directly on the side-panel of a monthly statement. A bank might be able to advertise upcoming offerings for overdraft protection based on customers that have bounced a check, or a referral program routed through social media (and gather more data in the meantime). Every industry that sends printed statements or business mailings has the opportunity to maximize every inch of their mailing with modern print technology and a provider than can handle the data.

Perhaps we are not too far away from days where my copy of “Animal House” comes complete with a six-pack and a bag of marshmallows (if you’ve seen the movie, you get the reference), but until then, businesses take note! The technology is available, the data is there, the audience is already identified, so take advantage of it!

This post was provided by Matt Haskell who writes for the SourceLink blog. Check it out!