How to Easily and Cost Effectively Add Video to Your Marketing Arsenal

Note from Jim: I originally was going to have this be the last installment of the “you lost me there” series, but I seem to have gotten sidetracked.  At any rate, video is in my opinion the next big opportunity in social and direct marketing if harnessed correctly.

How to Easily and Cost Effectively Add Video to Your Marketing Arsenal

I recently conducted a testimonial contest for a client. I asked for all types of submissions, from written to video. Of course I was hoping for video, and boy was I rewarded. The contest winner’s video was slick, well-written, modestly well-acted and, with some tweaking and a call to action, could’ve actually been put on TV. All this came from a customer who was in love with my client’s services, had a video camera and some editing software (like Apple’s iMovie, which comes standard with all Macs), and a couple of cue cards.

Just by putting the video up on YouTube, the company’s blog, Facebook and tweeting it on twitter, it’s gotten almost 300 views. This client isn’t a large company, so while 300 views doesn’t seem like a lot, it still counts. Lots of clients and prospects have commented on the video, too.

This week, the contest-winning video is going to be promoted in the company’s email newsletter. Doing so should increase exposure and net the company some new clients.

So while this may not be a mainstream example of viral video going to millions of people like the “United Breaks Guitars” video, which had 5.5 million viewers, it is a great example of the creative use of video as part of a company’s marketing strategy.

What Can Video Do for You?
Video is a perfect social media marketing channel for engagement. Here are some tips on WHAT to shoot:

  1. Beyond holding contests for testimonials, directly contact your best customers and ask them for video testimonials. If some of your best customers are located near your offices, then by all means go to the places of their choice and shoot some video testimonials.
  2. I love the notion of behind-the-scenes content. Before social media, a prospect’s or customer’s interaction and experience with a given company were either on its website, though its call center or in a retail store. But for the most part, corporations remained pretty much anonymous. Social media presents an enormous opportunity to humanize companies and allow customers “behind the veil” to see their personalities and corporate cultures. Shooting behind-the-scenes videos helps build companies’ personalities. One multichannel retailer I know of posts videos of its photo shoots on YouTube and Facebook. It gets tons of feedback on Facebook about this. Other behind-the-scenes action works well, too, from interviews with staff to candid videos of people doing their jobs. Even seeing staff cutting up and mugging for the camera can add value if done right.
  3. Does your product/service lend itself to demonstration? If so, video it and put in on your website. If you have a product that needs to be set up, heck, video is better than an instruction manual, right? What a great customer service opportunity using video.

I’ll continue my examination of how video can be successfully added to your marketing mix next week with part 2 of this multipart series. In particular, I’ll offer some more ideas for ways that video can be used at your company.

Request: If you’re an expert at video search optimization, contact me at I have some questions that I’d like to include in part 2 of this series.

Three years and 75,000 words later…

Note from Jim. This week marks my 3 year anniversary of my column for All About ROI (formerly Catalog Success) magazine.  Here is the anniversary article. Hope you enjoy my favorites “best of” articles referenced.

Three years and 75,000 words later…

Friends and readers: With this column I hit a milestone, the three-year anniversary of my weekly column for All About ROI (formerly Catalog Success). At roughly 500 words per column, I’ve written nearly 75,000 words on various aspects of direct marketing in the last three years. Wow!

I want to thank you, my readers, for your attention and interest over the last three years. I also want to thank you for the many emails you’ve sent me behind the scenes. Your comments, kudos and even criticisms have helped this column grow (and me grow as a writer and consultant). I thank you as well for your comments on my weekly articles.

That said, I’m rededicating myself to continuing to provide you the information, news and unique opinions on all that’s happening in direct and retail marketing in the coming years.

But before moving forward, I wanted to take a look back at some of my more memorable columns of the past three years with some thoughts sprinkled here and there on how they relate to today’s environment.

  • My very first column was “Don’t Start a Catalog.” I wrote that catalog marketing isn’t for the faint of heart; it takes money, discipline and the willingness to lose money on acquiring customers only to be paid back in lifetime value sales, increased average orders and other factors. This still holds true today. This column presents the risks and rewards of operating a true multichannel company — with a catalog. I still believe today, even in these challenging times, that the rewards are there if you follow the rules of the business.
  • In January 2008, upon hearing that general merchandise cataloger Lillian Vernon had given the ax to workers a few days before Christmas, I wrote “Happy Holidays — You’re Fired!!!.” I usually don’t call out companies by name as a practice here, but this case was truly despicable to me. Evidently you thought so, too.
  • Focusing on the do’s and don’ts of lists, metrics and the proper use of mailing lists was the subject of this August 2007 column: “If I Only Had a List to Start My Catalog Business!”
  • If you’re a fan of my column, you know that I’ve written about customer experience a bunch. In a January 2008 column, I detailed my experience from a recent cruise in “Create Superior Customer Experiences.” I take my cues from all industries (not just multichannel). This company knows how to throw a cruise party — and treat its customers right.
  • Lastly in my trip down memory lane, in my April 2008 column, “Congrats, You Too Can Become a Gazillionaire!,” I used past experience to pose the question: What’s the next big thing going to be in direct marketing?

Along the way I’ve written about circulation planning, customer service, increasing sales and average order sizes, managing call centers properly, and I even yelled at the folks in the C-suite more than a few times. For a full listing of all my columns, check out the All About ROI archives.

Thanks again for reading. I know your time is limited, and I truly appreciate that you find time in your busy day to read my column. Check back next week for a look at how your company can best add low-cost video to its marketing mix.

Guest Post – 7 Secrets to Scoring High on Data Card Quality

Note from Jim. Chris DeMartine from NextMark sent me this article for review.  I liked it and decided to publish it for you.  NextMark is the premier resource for the list industry with info on over 60,000 lists.  It’s the go to site for list brokers, managers and data providers.  All direct marketers should be in-the-know about the list industry and it’s guiding principles.  The article below is an excellent primer on list scoring.

If you are interested in direct mail or telemarketing lists, my sister company, Axxes Data can put together a list recommendation for you.  Let me know.


Good mailing list purchase decisions depend on a good data card database, and NextMark ensures the quality of its data card database through the Data Card Quality Report and other monitoring tools. While it is important not to confuse data card quality with list quality, counts are changing all the time and a neglected data card could be a warning sign of a neglected list. This blog entry is primarily for list managers who are looking for insights on how to keep their data cards up-to-date most efficiently using NextMark’s data card publishing tool.

How are data cards scored?

The scoring process is reviewed on a quarterly basis, and subsequently refined to address list specific criteria.  Individual data card scores are calculated using a weighted average of thirteen attributes, with an emphasis on last update (the date when the card was last updated and/or confirmed by the list manager). The basic principle is to create a quality data card from the start, and to manage the update process efficiently. List managers may also contact NextMark to learn how these updates may be processed automatically on their own web site, and integrated on a search engine optimized (SEO) platform to be indexed by Google and the other search engines.

Seven secrets to scoring high on data card quality:

#1 Review your data card quality report: select either ‘Data Card Quality Spreadsheet’ or ‘Data Card Quality Print View’ from the ‘CHOOSE A REPORT’ menu on the Lists – Management tab. You must be signed in to NextMark under your list management organization to run this report.

#2 Use the ‘next update date’ field: by populating this field you get the benefit of receiving an e-mail reminder (to update the data card) seven days prior to the date you enter. The next update date must be greater than or equal to the current date in order to receive full credit for last update. If you decide that you do not want to update this field, then be sure to leave it blank and manage your edits based on the update frequency.

#3 Check the update frequency: it is important for list brokers to know how often the names on a mailing list are updated. If the next update date is not populated, then the data card quality score will be based on the update frequency and the last date and time when the data card was updated by the list manager. For example, a data card representing a list that updates monthly should be confirmed every 30 days. However, if the update frequency is semi-annually, then you would only need to update the data card twice per year. Of course, this assumes that there have been no pricing or other changes to the file during the update cycle.

#4 Populate all scored fields for postal list types: make sure that every one of the fields representing the thirteen attributes are populated with valid information. There are a few exceptions to this, for example: if a list is available for email addresses only, then you would not be required to select outputs; or if a list is available on exchange only, then you would not be required to enter a base rate.

#5 Audit your list type selections: the scoring process for an insert program is slightly different than it is for a postal mailing list. The same holds true for other types such as blow-in or statement stuffer programs. It is important to make these selections carefully to make sure that your data cards are scored by the most appropriate criteria.

#6 Create a high quality list description:   although there is a minimum character length required for a high quality list description, the scoring process also considers your creative efforts as part of the grade. The html is also credited in a manner similar to the text length of your data card description. Therefore, you are able to focus your efforts on the quality of a list description and not solely its length. You may also create and edit custom tables in the description area to provide counts and/or other information about the list. These tables are also considered as part of the overall data card description score. It is also important to remember to populate the short description field, as you be unable to achieve a perfect grade without that.

#7 Select three relevant categories: you’ll need to select at least three categories on the data card that would be relevant to the broker or mailer who is renting the list. Excessive categorization is discouraged because it not only dilutes the uniqueness of a list, but also makes it difficult to determine the target audience for the list. However, you are not required to limit the number of categories, especially in cases where a list or database is enhanced with additional data for targeting specific demographics or psychographics.

Chris DeMartine is the Director of Business Development for NextMark.  He can be reached at (603) 643 – 1307 x. 114, or

Welcome to 2009, the Year of Engagement, Social Marketing and Web 2.0, Part 1 & 2 (updated)

Note to readers. This is the first post in 2009.  Happy New Year!  As promised, there will be another 3 posts in the coming week.

As I mentioned in my most recent column — a recap of the National Center for Database Marketing conference last month — it’s not good enough to merely serve your customers anymore. You must cement them emotionally to your brand, your products and your customer service.

With social media strongly in play (whether you like it or not), you don’t get to choose what’s said about your brand. Control of your brand image has been passed, torch-style, from the marketing department to your customers.

Your customers are becoming more and more voracious in their pursuit of information that’s not simply put forth by brands, but spread by their peers as brand advocates. Actually, it’s more like brand advocates and brand detractors. Your customers, much like plus/minus statistics in a hockey game, keep score — a plus point for a positive customer experience, a minus for a negative one.

Why the social media explosion? It’s simple: When you add the current overload of marketing messaging sent and received in a given day, coupled with a growing distrust of said messaging and a more jaded customer base, the result is an environment primed and ready for customer-induced growth.

The plus/minus as it relates to your marketing efforts. Your present and future direct marketing efforts only get you part of the way there. Customers and prospects alike search for information on your company to help with their buying decisions. The people who interact with your brand and the way they interact are the deciding factors in your success and/or failure. You don’t have to look into a crystal ball to envision a future where companies have less and less impact on buying decisions.

In the concept of the outward-facing, customer-focused business, there are two business models in the multichannel world:

1. Merchants: The first type is brand/product-centric. These are merchants who’ve built their companies from the ground up with an intuitive feel for what their customers want and need. Culturally, these companies are focused on merchandising, product development and brand building. They have a sort of “if you build it they will come” feel internally.

2. Marketers: The other type is the sales and marketing culture. Here, the focus is less on product/branding and more on the process of direct marketing. Marketers are more numbers-focused, and the feel you get when you visit is that it’s about list building and what gets sold to that list.

If I had to guess which of these cultures will better adapt to Web 2.0, I’d have to say the marketing culture. But the truth is, it’s anyone’s guess.

Check back next week for part two, where I’ll look at the role social media occupies for catalog/multichannel marketers, as well as how it can be a good thing to hear the negative things customers have to say about you.


Adapt or Die!
Clearly, the way to adapt to changes in the marketplace is to get out in front of the wave. It’s not too late, so don’t fret if you’re not. As a direct marketing consultant, I’m in the same boat. With a background steeped in the more traditional direct marketing principles, I need to be more on the cutting edge, too. In the last year, I’ve become enamored with social media as a marketing tool and its potential to engage.

What Are You Waiting For?
I conducted an informal survey over the past few days on how catalog/multichannel marketers have integrated social media into their overall marketing mixes. Here’s what I found:

  • Half of the catalog/multichannel companies I surveyed had MySpace pages and/or Facebook groups.
  • Only one was tweeting away on Twitter.
  • I didn’t see much blogging or message board adoption.
  • Usage of Flickr and YouTube didn’t even register a hit.

These results dovetail with a recent poll we ran on For the poll results, click here.

Compared to another group I looked at, pure-play Internet retailers (let’s call this the control group), catalogers’ social marketing adoption was minimal.

So why is that? The biggest concern I hear from catalog/multichannel marketers is negative publicity around their brands, which brings us back full circle to our control issues and the whole concept of customer centricity.

Learning Opportunity
Ask yourself the following questions about what kind of role social media plays in your business:

  1. Are you afraid of negative publicity? If you are, why? Do you not want to find out what your customers are talking about? Or what you can do to fix or improve your company? If you bury your head in the sand, the ruthless truth is your customers will bury you. Like the proverbial Chinese alphabet character for “danger” having the same meaning as “opportunity,” now is your chance to become truly customer-centric — to finally understand by listening to the Internet chatter about your company.
  2. If you’re using social marketing within your business, is it just a tactic? Are you using it strategically to understand your customers? I’d guess the big question here is this: Does the data/information the marketing team obtains from its social outlets trickle up to the C-level executives?

Maybe the new paradigm shift should be, “If you listen, they will come!”

Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll begin to share what I’ve learned about social media. I’ll talk about Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn (mostly for B-to-B), Facebook (groups vs. pages), YouTube, Flickr, blogs, message boards, on-page ratings and reviews, and more — the strategies and tactics you need to know to build a customer-centric multichannel company.

And I want this to be a dialogue, because I’m not a social marketing expert by any means. It’s very much a trial and error process, and I hope to learn from you, too!

Social Media Rules (of engagement) To Live By

Over in the linkedin group I manage, (Direct Marketing Questions & Answers), we’ve been having a discussion on the zig vs. zag nature of direct marketing and social media.

In essence, the theory is this: with everybody zigging towards social media these days, does that leave a giant hole (translation: opportunity) for traditional direct marketing to be used to engage customers and prospects?    It’s been a spirited discussion so far.  And I firmly believe that traditional direct marketing (integrated with the web) presents such an opportunity in a zigzag market.

My personal bottom line is that social media marketing is just one of the tools in my kit bag, and should be used (tested and rolled out) as part of the direct marketing mix.  So I use it all.

But no discussion of social media these days should be done without a basic understanding of it’s strategic vs. tactical use.

I see many companies using social media tactically, without thinking through the strategy.  The truth is, anyone can post a video, start tweeting or blogging, etc., and many companies have jumped on this bandwagon as a tactic.  However, much like direct mail or any other direct marketing discipline, the tactical use of social media can have little or no results at all, thus giving the marketer the erroneous impression that social media doesn’t work.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say, we tried direct mail (or insert medium here) and it doesn’t work.  Some of these people when further queried will admit to not following the rules… the first of which is define the strategy, the list, the offer, etc.   And with some of these business owners if they are willing to learn how to do direct mail right, their next attempt will have better, if not profitable results.

There are many places in which to find the rules of direct mail, or traditional direct marketing.  But when it comes to social media, the rules of engagement are a bit vague.

Beyond strategy – the common sense rules of engagement:

So I have been studying social media marketing for the last year.  Practicing it strategically, and analyzing my results.  And I have also been looking for a good quality set of rules to live by.  Today thanks to Twitter I found some published by Intel for their employees and their contractors.  These are a good place to start.

Note from Jim:  Article originally written by me for eMarketing & Commerce Magazine (eM+C):

Customer service now!!! The convergence of customer service and social media (and a moral)

In my last column, I cautioned readers about social media and the negative effect it can have on online reputation management. Here’s a quick recap: The key to a positive reputation is to look at every possible customer and prospect touchpoint and make sure it’s buttoned up tight. Every interaction, every touchpoint needs to be quality-driven, otherwise your brand is going to take a social media beating.

There’s just too much prime opportunity online — e.g.,  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc. — for brands to get dinged when they screw up. In the few weeks I’ve been back from vacation, I’ve been thinking about this as I go about my day-to-day dealings with companies.

Twice in the last few weeks I’ve gotten dinged: once by a salesman and once by a so-called customer service rep (CSR). But helping to restore my faith in our industry, I also recently had a fantastic customer service experience as well.

But first the negative:

  • I have a TV that for the last year has had sound problems. The sound intermittently stops working. With the TV under warranty, I called CompUSA’s warranty company to remedy the problem. It sent someone out who couldn’t find the problem. After another unsuccessful attempt to fix the problem, I again called the warranty company to get a new TV. The CSR told me there was nothing she could do except send out a third company to look at my TV. I calmly explained to her the facts of the case. She calmly explained that there’s nothing she can do. So I asked for her supervisor. The supervisor gave me the same speech — same language, same dull, disinterested, flat demeanor. Like robots, only less interesting. By then I realized that the company is just going to run out the clock on the warranty instead of giving me a new TV. The moral of this story: Some companies teach their frontline people to hold the line, not help customers.
  • I recently paid a visit to my local Honda dealership to trade in my son’s car. This will be my third lease with this dealership. The salesman I normally use is busy, so he puts me in the capable hands of “Bill.” I tell Bill that I want the special that was advertised on the dealership’s website because it’s the lowest-priced car it sells. Let the games begin. I know how it works, but I never let car salespeople play. Bill makes three attempts to get me into a more expensive car by asking if I want this or want that on the car. I remind him for the third time that I only want the least expensive car the dealership sells of that model. You know, the one listed on its website. Bill responds to me with the following: “You want the lowest price in that model, OK, but don’t you want a car with air conditioning?” (F.Y.I., I live in Florida.) He says this with actual contempt. One minute later, he’s back waiting for another customer to annoy. The moral of this story: I’d have fired this salesman on the spot if it was my dealership. You cannot risk offending any customers, much less repeat customers.

And the positive:

  • One word: Apple! I had to call its customer service department multiple times in the last few weeks with questions before installing its latest operating system. Each time I was greeted by a helpful human who worked with me patiently in a relaxed manner to get my issue resolved. Apple even offered to send me (for free, no less) operating system disks. (Mine were lost, hence the call.) I swear, it was like talking to the Apple guy from the TV commercials. Great job, Apple! You “get” customer service.

I don’t know about you, but every time I have to call a company’s customer service department I get a bit nervous in advance. Most of the time I know I’m going to be treated poorly by poorly trained, poorly managed people who are totally indifferent to me and my plight.

This message is for all of the C-suite people who read my column: Go to your call center now! Listen to your CSRs’ interactions; then do something about them. People are talking about you whether you like it or not. Positive or negative — it’s your choice.

Bernhart Survey Reveals New Data On Direct Marketing Unemployment

Note from Jim. Here is a grim look at the realities of employment in the direct marketing industry – From a survey done by Bernhart Associates.  In a nutshell, what this survey doesn’t state is simple…. If you are employed in this economy, do everything you can to stay employed.  Work harder, longer, smarter, get “win’s” on the board and in general make your self indispensable!

Furthermore, do everything you can to build your network of contacts in case you should find yourself unemployed.  Remember, building your personal rolodex is just as important as being exceptional at your job!

Bernhart Survey Reveals New Data On Direct Marketing Unemployment

If you’re a recently unemployed direct marketer, you’ll be interested in a new study that shows for the first time how long other jobless DM’ers have been looking for work and how direct marketing compares with the latest national figures on unemployment.

The innovative survey was conducted by Jerry Bernhart of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, a leading direct marketing executive recruiter who also issues widely followed quarterly employment updates.

“We wanted to get a sense for how long unemployed direct marketers have been looking for a job, and we also wanted to break that down by levels of compensation to determine how various salary levels compare,” said Bernhart. “Finally, we wanted to compare unemployment duration in direct marketing with the overall U.S. economy.” Continue reading

Just how powerful is social media? Some amazing stats!

I can’t wait to hear your comments on these facts about social media.

Do you want to include social media marketing in your business?  We can help.  We set up and even manage, blogs, message boards, Facebook pages and groups, twitter, video and more.  We can write and post custom content for you as well.  Contact us for more info.

Are you social, but looking for more ROI via traditional direct marketing?  Contact us for more info.