Does Trouble at The Times-Picayune Signal the End of Daily Newspapers?

Times-Picayune Newspaper

Very soon, New Orleans could become the first major city in the U.S. to not offer a daily paper. Beginning this fall, Advance Publications, Inc., owner of the 175-year-old Times-Picayune newspaper has plans to offer the paper only three days a week.

“Almost nine million people visit New Orleans every year. What message is sent when there is no daily local paper to provide the news, sports, and local information that these visitors need?” (Ralph Brennan, President of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group)

In response to the announcement, New Orleans metro area advertisers and businesses are fighting the measure by joining The Times-Picayune Citizens’ Group and urging that the newspaper remain a daily publication. Advertisers and local business leaders say that the daily paper is a key contributor to the success of their individual businesses and to the economic vitality of New Orleans. The Times-Picayune reaches 75% of the New Orleans population every day.

“For this city to be considered a major U.S. market in the eyes of international companies, the Times-Picayune‘s daily printing is critical.” (Tiffany Adler, Vice President of Coleman E. Adler & Son)

While that may not mean much to you if you’re not a local, could this be a sign of things to come elsewhere? If your local paper made a similar move, how would it affect businesses and advertisers in your area? Leave a comment below!

Will the Newspaper Industry Save Itself by Reinventing Online Advertising?
Major Advertisers Join Citizens’ Group to Save Times-Picayune, Urge Owners to Print Seven Days

3 Tips for Modern, Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

In the age of iPads, smart phones and social media, are more traditional means of marketing, such as direct mail, still effective? While the role of traditional print marketing has undoubtedly become more supplemental in nature, recent studies have shown that marketers are rediscovering direct mail as a means of marketing products, services and other unique offers to their customers and prospects.

“Everything you hear in the media is basically counter to what the consumers are actually telling us, which is that direct mail is still the preferred channel.” (Warren Storey, VP of product marketing, ICOM)

Direct mail spending is on the rise. In 2011, direct mail spending totaled nearly $45 billion dollars, representing a 2.3 percent increase over 2010 (Winterberry Group, Outlook 2011). Response rates of postcards (3.99 percent) and letter-sized direct mail pieces (3.42 percent) has remained high enough for marketers to consider using direct mail as a larger part of their marketing mix (2011 DMA Statistical Fact Book). This growth in direct mail spending is due at least in part to two simple facts: consumers get much more e-mail they are able to read and that they question the trust-worthiness of e-mail.

“More than 64 percent of consumers still attach a high value to messages communicated through the mail, but many marketers have turned away from the mail in favor of communicating through digital channels.” (U.S. Postal Service)

According to the 2011 Channel Preferences Study, direct mail is preferred over e-mail when it comes to receiving brand or product information in nearly every category. Based on the findings of nearly 5,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers, this study also found that 50 percent of U.S. consumers pay more attention to postal mail than e-mail. Even tech-savvy Millennials (those born between 1985 and 2004), see the value in the mail they receive. According to one study, 73 percent of Millennials have used the coupons/offers they have received in the mail.

So what does it take for a direct mail piece to truly stand out nowadays? Here are some tips:

Appeal to the Senses

Despite how flashy your website or e-mail marketing campaigns may be, direct mail is able to provide the emotional and personal elements that these digital avenues simply can’t replicate. Direct mail that appeals to the senses can create memorable experiences for recipients that lead to an increase in your direct mail response rates. Of the five senses available to us, appealing to one’s sense of smell and taste are among the most powerful way to stimulate a memory.

One example of using sensory mail to engage an emotional response can be seen in a recent TruGreen campaign. TruGreen used a portion of their mail piece to mimic the scent of freshly cut grass. Customers who received the mail piece commented that the smell was enjoyable and made them want to be outside. While there really aren’t any hard numbers or facts to go off of, direct mail campaigns that appeal to the senses can etch their products and services indelibly into customers’ minds through sensory association.

Use QR Codes

Nowadays, QR Codes are popping up everywhere; on posters, billboards, magazine advertisements and even on product packaging. Scanned using a smart phone, QR Codes can be used to direct customers to online sources of additional information about a specific product, service or offer. In recent years, QR Code scanning has seen a 1,200% increase. Studies show that 87 percent of people use QR codes to get additional information about products. As a huge segment of U.S. consumers – including Millennials – currently own smart phones, integrating QR Codes into your campaign provides these individuals with the ability to take advantage of your offers while they’re on the go.

The recent Nielsen 2011 third quarter survey of mobile users reveals that over 40% of all U.S. mobile phone subscribers own a smart phone. In addition, over 60% of mobile phone users aged 25-34 own smart phones. QR codes serve the marketer with an effective, economical and measurable way of supporting direct marketing initiatives. When used effectively, QR Codes can serve as an immediate call-to-action at the moment of consumer engagement. Marketers can view measurable results of QR Codes provide marketers with measurable results to gauge how enticing an offer, product or service might be. These include statistics such as the number of scans, the time of the scans and what/which mobile devices are doing the scanning.

To maximize your QR code initiatives, start by ensuring that your QR codes link to the proper web pages and that these pages are optimized for mobile devices. Also be sure that the online content you’re providing access to via the QR code has perceived value to your customer; serve them only with content, offers, surveys, etc. that matter to them. The QR code should also be prominently displayed on the mail piece and provide a brief description of what the customer will get if they scan the code.

Go Big

The average person receives 23 pieces of mail per week. In addition, 87 percent of all standard mail sent to households in the U.S. contains at least one advertising message (DMA Statistical Fact Book). With this information in mind, marketers should be doing whatever they can to make a direct mail piece stand out; going big is just one way of doing that.

Large format direct mail represents only one-quarter of all mail that consumers receive, so opting for a larger direct mail piece, such as a 6 x 9″ or 9 x 12″ has a great chance of standing out amidst other, more regularly sized pieces. If you want to go really big, the largest direct mail postcard allowed by the U.S. Postal Service today is a piece measuring 11.5 x 15″. Although ultimately more expensive, marketers can use the additional “real-estate” a larger format allows to the emphasize copy, images, QR Codes and coupons/offers that are integral to the success of their direct mail campaign.

Tips or tricks that you would like to share?

‘On the Grid’ Design Newsletter Now in Print

On the Grid print version pic

The print version of 'On the Grid' is printed on a legal-size sheet (8.5" x 14") folded and sealed for mailing purposes.

Attention readers: Scott Creative’s On the Grid is now offered in print as well as on the web! Mailed out each month, the print version of this newsletter offers the same great content as the online version does, including studio updates as well as many of the resourceful articles you can find right here on my website. If you’re interested in receiving a free copy of this printed version, please let me know – just send me an e-mail through the ‘Contact’ page!

To subscribe to the ‘On the Grid’ e-newsletter, click here. To view past/archived issues, click here.

On the Grid print version side 2 pic

4 Reasons To Have a Print Newsletter

For several years now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about print as a dying medium – this simply isn’t the case! The role of print has undoubtedly changed – evolved. The fact remains that people see real value in print. E-mail certainly has its advantages as a simple, low-cost method of communication, but its advantages are also the source of some of its greatest weaknesses (read the Four Pitfalls of an Email-only Approach). Here are some reasons why you should consider using a print newsletter:

1. The all-powerful ‘Delete’ button.

Whether it’s by accident or due to an overcrowded inbox or your client/prospect having a terrible case of the Mondays, your e-mail newsletter always faces the chance of being deleted before it’s even read.

2. E-mail addresses are subject to change.

What’s more likely to change: a recipient’s e-mail address or their business’ physical address? How many of your e-mail campaigns have bounced due to a bad e-mail address within the last six months? With a print version of a newsletter, your message has a high probability of reaching a lead/prospect at a company – even if a contact or e-mail address changes.

3. Print has a higher-perceived value than e-mail.

Because a newsletter can be easily kept within reach, shared with friends/associates, and doesn’t involve accessing a computer to read, print versions are more effective in the long-term. Additionally, the quality of a printed piece has shown to speak value of a company’s products or services. According to the fourth annual Signs of the Times report by Fed Ex, over 90% of small business owners believe that a company’s print marketing/advertising materials reflects the value of the company’s products and services. Read more about additional findings of that report here.

4. Print is still preferred by many.

The fact is that while some people prefer to receive an e-mail, others would much rather receive something in print. It’s likely that a person’s age, profession and proficiency with a computer will to some degree influence his/her delivery preference for marketing materials. Interestingly enough, even young, tech-savvy adults still prefer to receive marketing offers in print, rather by e-mail. For example, a 2010 survey by ICOM (a division of Epsilon Targeting) found that by a wide margin, 18-34 year-olds prefer to learn about marketing offers via mail rather than through online sources.

What Should My Print Newsletter Include?

Aside from collecting content, the most difficult or time-consuming task will be designing your newsletter. For this,  it would be wise to consult a design professional; someone who can present you with several concepts, design around your copy & images, and also provide more information on printing & production. If you’re already sending out an e-newsletter with some success, then you probably have a very good idea of what constitutes creating a print version, but whatever the case, here are a few key components that your print newsletter should include:

1. More about you.

If you’re implementing a print newsletter to generate more business, try not to be too “salesy” in your approach. Look for a good balance of marketing/sales content and personal content. Aside from showing recipients what you have to offer, use the newsletter to reveal more about you. They may not want to hear your life story, but a personal touch to your content will give them a better idea of who you are.

2. Case studies using work that you’ve done for past/current clients.

These are integral to your newsletter because they provide insight into how you’ve successfully addressed your others needs. Your newsletter recipients need to know that you have a history of helping others with their needs before they can trust you with their own.

3. Client testimonials that speak for themselves.

What your clients have reveal about working with you is much more powerful than what you have to say about yourself. Ask your clients for their endorsement/recommendation in writing and then use these in your newsletter to establish credibility.

4. Loads of valuable content.

Provide your recipients with valuable information that they would have difficulty obtaining on their own. You’re ultimately the judge of what you feel is important enough to make it into your newsletter,  but your content should focus on content that’s relevant to your recipients. There are plenty of ways to go about collecting/creating content for your newsletter – here are just a few:

  •  Start a blog and write your own content that addresses the problems and concerns of your clients, leads & prospects.
  • Write a white paper dealing with a specific subject, then use that content elsewhere.
  • Subscribe to several industry newsletters, RSS feeds and publications. These are great sources of content for your own newsletter – just remember to cite the source!
  • Invite guest writers to write about a subject.
  • Hire a ghost writer to generate content for you.

5. A call to action.

Case studies, client testimonials and other content gives you credibility, but more importantly it shows recipients that you have something valuable to offer them. A call to action (CTA) encourages your recipients to take the next step through a simple, focused command. “E-mail me for your chance to win”, “Call for a brochure” and “Use this code with your next online order” are examples. A CTA can take several forms, depending on how and through what medium you would like your recipients to respond. Whichever medium(s) you choose, make sure you can measure the results.

6. Other ways to connect with you.

Along with your street address and phone number, be sure to include the URLs of any social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) that you presently use along with your website and e-mail address. Show your recipients that there are several ways to engage with you on their own terms, online or off.

7. Ask for feedback.

Requesting feedback may be the best way to tell whether or not your readership is finding your newsletter as resourceful as you hope it is. Feedback you collect can be used to fine-tune your newsletter or make drastic improvements if necessary.

Other things to consider:

1. Send your newsletter as bulk mail.

If you are mailing out 200 or more pieces, you may be able to send your newsletter as standard mail at a significantly lower, bulk mail rate.

2. Have both print and e-mail versions of your newsletter.

Not only are you giving recipients control over how they would like to receive information from you, but you can then tailor future campaigns based on their preferences.

3. Offer your newsletter for free.

This sounds a little ridiculous as you probably already offer it for free, but doing so means it will be perceived with additional value.

4. Encourage referrals.

Asking current clients or associates for referrals via phone or e-mail can sometimes be uncomfortable and may take a great deal of time, whereas a print newsletter can do the job for you.

5. Print your newsletter on recycled paper.

When it’s possible, consider printing your newsletter on paper containing post consumer waste (PCW). You should also encourage them to recycle your newsletter once they’re finished with it.

6. Keep copies of your newsletter on hand.

For all of its valuable information, your print newsletter may be one of your most powerful marketing pieces. Consider distributing your newsletter by hand around town or as handouts at networking events, conferences and similar events. Providing new contacts with highly valuable information is a great way to make an introduction.