The 50 Best Marketing, Social Media, Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Tips of 2014 (from Retail Online Integration Magazine)

ROI1214_Cover150rgb-largeI made the cover story!  But even if I wasn’t part of this story, these are 50 tips that will propel you to better marketing results!  A must read…

The 50 Best Marketing Tips of 2014” article from Retail Online Integration Magazine.

Check out “The 50 Best Marketing Tips of 2014” article from Retail Online Integration Magazine. I made the cover story! I have tips 11 (customer service) and 41 (social media).

Back by popular demand at the 2014 Direct Marketing Association #dma14 Conference

I love giving back to the marketing community.  I have had a wonderful career in direct marketing and believe heavily in paying it forward.  One of the ways I love to give is to do public speaking.

I was one of the early adopters of social media (started blogging in 2006) and some even say that I helped make Facebook Pages for Business what they are today with my approach to engagement via contests and product giveaways for my clients.

Today I am thrilled to announce that the Direct Marketing Association has invited me back to speak for DMA14 in San Diego in October; once again as part of their “back by popular demand” series.  Once again I am proud to say that my presentation, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing” was one of the top 20 presentations at last years DMA Conference in Chicago.

Here is the message I just received from them:

Dear Jim,


Your session, The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media, was among the top 20 sessions at DMA2013. The programming team for DMA2014 would like to extend an invitation for you to speak at DMA2014 in San Diego, October 25–30, 2014.”

And here is a picture from the event last October:

Jim Gilbert Presenting The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing at #DMA13 in Chicago

Jim Gilbert Presenting The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing at #DMA13 in Chicago


I love this title from Target Marketing Magazine: “12 Social Media Questions for a Real Direct Marketer”

Note from Jim Gilbert: Two weeks ago I did a webinar, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing”, for Target Marketing Magazine for a “packed house”.  We had over 85 questions submitted during the webinar so we decided to turn the responses into a Target Marketing Article.  Here are a few of the questions, the answers can be found here.

1. How do you measure social media ROI?

2. We’re just launching a blog; what’s the best way to solicit feedback/interaction?

3. On social networks, we have a few really engaged customers who respond to posts, but overall most people are not engaged. How can we fix that?

View the additional 9 questions and their answers on the Target Marketing Website  here.

BTW, you can still see a replay of the webinar here.

The Postal Direct Mail Nightmare Continues: BREAKING NEWS: USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case

Note: this just in from our good friends at ACMA
October 22, 2010 

Special Bulletin: USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case


Dear Catalogers, Suppliers & Others With Catalog Interests: 

While mailers were still rejoicing over the victory on the exigency rate case, the USPS filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the widely heralded Postal Regulatory Commission decision. The Postal Regulatory Commission on Sept. 30 denied the USPS’s extraordinary request for a well-above-inflation-rate postage price increase that would have effectively nullified the Congressionally-imposed rate cap.


In its latest filing, the USPS requests a review of the PRC’s interpretation of the law that governs how prices are set and asks the Court to confirm it has the right to file an exigent price increase. It also seeks clarity regarding the rules governing how an exigency increase will be applied should it find itself in a similar situation in the future. According to a USPS statement on the matter, it is also reviewing other options open to it in light of the PRC ruling.
What does this mean to you? Right now, it is a little hard to say definitively. Courts have historically sided with regulators provided it can be demonstrated the regulator followed its own rules and practices in arriving at a decision. We know of no basis to conclude otherwise at this point, indicating the PRC decision should stand. However, clearly USPS execs have an approach they believe has merit, or they would not have gone to the cost and trouble of an appeal.

ACMA’s Approach
As it has all along this process, ACMA will monitor developments closely and may decide to intervene alone or with others supporting the PRC decision. Unfortunately, this development puts into question how much you should budget for the coming year. Until further information is available that suggests otherwise, we recommend sticking by earlier forecasts we gave to members, but you can be sure we will stay close to this matter and let you know when a clearer picture is available. 

Happily, ACMA has some money available from its Special Fund and general coiffeurs that give us options as to how to proceed. This is a great reason why it is in your best interests to make sure you have a properly resourced group to address unexpected developments quickly to protect your interests.

More to come…


Hamilton Davison
President & Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association
Direct: 401-529-8183

Guest Post: Debunking the Myth of Trees vs. Direct Mail

Editor’s Note: This week’s post comes from Evelyn Milardo , a direct marketing consultant, whom Jim has hand-picked to serve as a guest columnist in his place this week.

OK, direct mail has an environmental impact. Almost everyone still receives and sends mail, creating a footprint for sure. But what’s myth and what’s reality?

In 2007, there were 212 billion pieces of mail. Of those, households received 150.9 billion pieces — or about 71 percent. The balance of the mail was received by business, government and nonprofit entities. Households also sent 21.1 billion pieces of mail, with the balance of the mail sent by nonhouseholds. In 2008, the average U.S. household received less than three pieces of direct mail per day.

According to the USPS Household Diary Study, 16 percent of households choose not to read their mail. The vast majority (81 percent) of households read or scan the direct mail they receive. Almost all mail eventually is discarded, thus it’s vital to have recycling options available at the community level.

Direct mail is printed communication. Thanks to sustainable forestry practices throughout North America, the amount of forested lands has grown significantly in recent years, providing for a steady, responsible supply of the fiber used to make paper. Trees are harvested and replanted on a continuing basis, with most trees harvested for paper measuring about 8 inches in diameter — it’s more cost effective and productive to use larger trees for lumber or pole production.

Today, we have more forests in the U.S. than we did 50 years ago, and about the same as we had 100 years ago. Old-growth forests aren’t harvested to make direct mail paper, and the marketplace is beginning to certify paper that originates from sustainably forested lands. Only 14 percent of the wood harvested throughout the world each year is used for paper production. Continue reading

Choose the right design team for your direct mail creative (a primer)

When clients come to me with questions about starting a catalog and/or direct mail program, invariably the subject of creative development comes up. This is the question: Should it be handled by their internal creative department (despite its limited knowledge of direct development), their agency (which really knows the business) or someone else entirely?

My answer is always this: Choose designers who specifically know the mail order market. Why? Consider the following: Catalogs/mailers accustomed to generating sales via mail/internet ordering are a very different animal from a branding vehicle. They may look similar, but companies that create mail order catalogs and direct mail know exactly how to leverage creative that not only builds their brands, but also sells product. That’s the key difference. What looks simple is actually highly specialized and technical.

Beautiful doesn’t always sell. Direct mail design companies know how to generate sales for a couple of reasons:

  1. They understand the key drivers of stimulating response.
  2. They understand the budgetary constraints that separate mail order from brand building.

How to Start, Who to Choose
If you’re entering the direct mail arena for the first time, you’ll likely have a limited testing budget and no time to figure out how to build mail order creative on your own.

A catalog-specific or direct marketing agency, especially one with specific knowledge in your category, should be a core member of your team. Start by contacting a number of these creative agencies and invite them to develop creative concepts for you. You’ll immediately see who gets your business and who doesn’t based on their comps.

In choosing an agency, look for one that does all facets of the production process, from photography to layout and design, and even pre-press (or pre-media, as it’s often called now). That gives the agency a major stake in the process and provides you with complete accountability.

You’ll also see a wide range of prices for building your catalog or direct mail piece. Gauge the price/performance ratio of direct marketing. Remember this as you review pricing: Every penny more your mailer costs per unit, you need to generate 2 cents more in sales. And don’t skimp on design. A good design company can help you balance this out.

Direct mail serves a strategic purpose. Do the math up front to calculate your break-even points and projected P&Ls. Don’t get so hooked on the creative that it takes on a life of its own. Photo shoots and design are the “sexy” side of the business, but you make your money based on targeting the right product to the right market, and then building creative to speak to that market in a manner that sells.

Thus, I implore you to remember the 40/40/20 rule. Lists and offers (merchandise) make up a combined 80 percent of the potential impact you can have on your direct marketing efforts, while creative comprises only 20 percent.

5 last minute catalog, direct mail, multichannel tactics to increase Holiday sales…

Catalogers, direct and multi-channel marketers, direct mailers, and ecommerce marketers, want to add some revenue before we say goodbye to 2009?  Try the following:

1. Add an extra mailing before the end of the year.After your (scheduled) last mailing is complete, mail one more catalog just to your hotline buyers — i.e., those who just responded to your last mailings of the year. If it’s too late to get your printer involved, grab some of your bounceback and office copy catalogs, and mail them. Even if you have to mail them First Class, you should still get great response. I’ve done this before, and it works.

2. Speaking of bouncebacks, add a special offer to your outgoing packages beyond the traditional bounceback book. This gives your customers a compelling reason to make another purchase before the holidays. It’s especially persuasive if you can target your offer to people who are on the receiving end of gifts.

3. Extend the life of an existing catalog by sending a special offer via postcard to your best buyers with a last-minute incentive. Try something like this: “Last-minute shoppers save (a percentage)” or “Last-minute offer! Get a specially priced (product here).” Postcards are quick, inexpensive, and can drive both catalog and web traffic.

4. Then, of course, there’s email. Deliver offers right up to the last possible date you can ship product for Christmas.

5. And by all means, get social. Use social media to engage your customers/prospects with contests, sales, testimonials and more. A client of mine supported Black Friday sales via Twitter, Facebook and its blog, beating last year’s numbers by a healthy margin.

If you have any additional ideas for last-minute marketing tactics, please share them with us by clicking on the link below.

I hope you had a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Speak to you next week.

50 best multichannel direct marketing tips of 2009 (from All About ROI Magazine)

The November issue of All About ROI (formerly Catalog Success) Magazine is on the newsstands (if they even exist anymore).  This months cover story is 50 Best Tips of 2009 to drive direct marketing ROI.

Two of the tips, #4 and #15 are from me.  Irregardless of that fact, the other 48 tips for direct and multichannel marketers cover everything from channel integration to search to social media and are right on the money.

Add this to your must read list!

Check out the article here.

Dear Mr. Postmaster General, you’ve started a trend… but…

A week ago the USPS Postmaster General sent out a memo stating there would be no postal increase for direct mailers in 2010.  This coupled with the recent postal sale are a start that I applaud.  It seem that the USPS for the first time may be interested in helping business mailers do business.

But we as direct marketers must keep the pressure on the USPS.  We must make our voice heard and hold their feet to the fire to keep the direct and catalog marketing business moving.  Therefore I wrote the letter below to the USPS.  I urge you to send in your own letter, or use/modify my letter to suit your needs.  The Postmaster General’s Contact information is below…

Dear Mr. Postmaster General,
You’ve started a trend here. Between the postal summer sale and now this offer to keep postal rates stable in 2010, catalog and direct mailers believe that you may actually be interested in working to our benefit. We look forward to the next postal sale, and hope that the USPS opens it up to smaller mailers to take advantage of. We truly hope that you’ll continue to stop thinking like a bureaucracy and encourage more mail volume with innovative special offers and such.

But we’re also wary. Direct marketers are wary because the USPS holds a great deal of power and leverage over us. The last substantial postal rate increase nearly put us under with rate increases of 20 percent-plus. What was the USPS thinking? That move single-handedly drove more and more mailers into the online world. If we were to do the math, we believe the increase in postage actually caused your revenues to go down due to less mail in the mailstream.

Remember this Mr. Postmaster General: Every penny more it costs us to mail means we need to generate about two cents more per catalog and direct mail piece mailed just to breakeven. In this economy, we need every opportunity we can get to mail profitably. We’re struggling to stay alive and keep our workers employed and our customers satisfied.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Postmaster. Please continue this trend.

The Direct Mail Industry

As to you, my loyal readers, I encourage you to send your letters to the Postmaster General (or just copy mine and send it). Make your voice heard! Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Reach the Postmaster General at the following:

The Honorable John E. Potter
Postmaster General

U.S. Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW

Washington, DC 20260-0010