Archives for category: Direct Marketing

When Marty McFly skateboarded onto the silver screen in 1985 to the echoes of ‘The Power of Love’ he set the bar when it came to time travel, skateboarding and Johnny B Goode.

The ability to travel back and forth in time has always excited scientists from the very early scientific thinkers to the modern day.
As business people and marketers we are dealing with a struggle everyday of how to change our future.  How we can win that new piece of business, or keep the customers we’ve worked so hard to get?

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away (wrong film reference I know) marketers would have turned straight to their trusty leaflets and got printing and delivering.  This utopia has long since hit the manure truck, and with good reason.

Four major factors have impacted directly on this form of marketing within the last 5 years.  The first is the obviously and seemingly unstoppable rise in the prices of mail.  Last years rise in the basic price of 1st and 2nd class prices, allied to the redevelopment of the mail weight and dimensions has undoubtedly had an effect.

Second, and linked directly to the first factor is the large squeeze on marketing budgets across the board.  As the credit crunch has hit businesses, the marketing budget has taken the brunt of the cost cutting.  Return on Investment has (finally) become the buzz word from the boardroom across the country.  Expensive large mailings are out unless you can prove where every penny has benefited the business.

Third is the large backlash against ‘direct mail’ that saw huge public campaigns backed by programmes like Watchdog very vocally turning ‘direct mail’ into public enemy number one.

Now those of us within the marketing industry, and particularly those of us who class ourselves as direct marketing specialists all know that the direct mail referred to in these campaigns was really not that.  The direct mail that caused so much outrage (quite rightly) is the unsolicited mass marketing machine gun approach based on simple numbers.  With mass mailings like those, the more you sent, the bigger the number of new customers/orders/sign ups.  This was purely down to using one measure…conversion %.  Not a bad measure, but when this is the only factor you are considering you will always come back to the conclusion that the more you send the bigger your return.  For us direct mail aficionados though, unsolicited mass mailings will always remain the preserve of lazy thinkers or huge marketing budgets.

The fourth and final factor has been the rise of digital marketing, particularly the (relatively) new kids on the block email marketing and social media.  These have undoubtedly changed the landscape and if used correctly can dramatically enhance any marketing mix.  As a huge advocate of these I could go on, but what these new kids have done is create a marketing DeLorean.
The real star of the Back to the Future franchise, the DeLorean, was the vehicle that paved the way for Marty McFly to travel across the fabric of time.  In the same way, the massive leap in digital marketing over such a short period of time has allowed direct marketing to re-define its place as an exciting hoverboard of marketing opportunity.

Let me explain.  For many people, digital and email marketing in particular has replaced many of the functions that some of the larger direct mailings used to do, with added brilliance.  Through correctly executed email marketing campaigns you can see return rates, click rates, create a ‘warm’ sales database, cleanse a huge list of contact emails.

An unfortunate consequence of the rise and rise of email/digital has been to create a certain amount of ‘white noise’.  Remember when your post box was full of direct mail, some of it unsolicited and it all used to get filed…in the ‘special’ draw (ie. bin) without being read.  It is already the same for many emails/tweets/updates.  White noise filed away in the recycle bin without even being opened.

It is these factors that have opened up the 88 miles an hour required for the direct mail DeLorean to come screeching back into the future.

Well crafted, developed direct mail has always played an important role in acquisition or retention strategies, and thanks to digital marketing, its part is now becoming ever more crucial.  Well developed direct mail can have a disruptive effect, essentially breaking the ‘white noise’ created by all manner of other techniques.  After all some marketing lessons remain constant whatever the techniques employed, getting your message seen being THE most crucial step.

Getting through the gatekeeper is the big challenge for many businesses, and it is increasingly a niche that direct mail can fill.  After all, when did you last receive and email?  Minutes ago, seconds ago?  Do you remember what it was?  When was the last time you received a hand-written letter?  Or even a package?  If you’d sent that last sales email in a box in the post (with a nicely developed message) do you think it would at least have been read (rather than auto filed into the recycle bin)?  Probably!!
Obviously once you’ve got your message seen, you need to be able to create all those other psychological factors associated with any great selling tool, as well as representing your brand in the best way.  And it is these factors that distinguish great disruptive direct mail from the average leaflet.

Some ‘flashy’ talkers will talk about distruptive marketing, acquisition and retention strategies being driven by a direct mail piece.  But any direct mail piece must be crafted from a position of understanding, about what you are trying to achieve and where its place is within your branding and overall strategic plan.

Allied to the digital media that are now available to direct marketers, it turns as direct mail piece into a central pillar in any acquisition or retention campaign.  Measurement, click-throughs and most importantly ROI (return on investment) become even easier to track through the use of emails, microsites and links.  Instant sales returns are no longer dependant on timing your follow up sales calls correctly.  The new kid on the block has turned the 1985 hero into a legend in 2013, and it is why the call to go Back to the Future are rising.

But, the most thrilling thing is that according to the Back to the Future franchise we are now only 2 years away from hoverboards.  Now that is exciting!!!



Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to or @Happy_Creative

After a month of feverish activity, saying goodbye to Balotelli, and with a spend of £120m,  the footballing transfer window has drawn to a close. 31 days of speculation, hellos, goodbyes and media frenzy.

It’s the end of the first month of 2013, and the footballing fraternity already has one major campaign under its belt. As a big football fan, I’ve watched the campaign unfold over the month. I’ve seen, read and heard a lot of activity culminating in business deals and some happy and not so happy endings (sorry Peter Odemwingie). It reminded me of one giant marketing campaign (minus the multi-million pound budgets of course), and I believe there’s some great lessons to learn from our footballing friends in the way they conducted their own acquisition campaigns.

Be Focussed

All campaigns require a clear focus on the results required and the timescales involved. It helps concentrates the mind.  When there’s a definite beginning and a definite end – there is no choice but to do your business in this window. Being clear about when a campaign starts, when it ends, what you want to achieve in that timescale gives a real focus to campaigns. Being a great juggler helps; during the campaign window it is likely to be business as usual ; often campaigns are running whilst doing the “day job” . Set clear start and finish dates, and have a clear focus on the end result, with regular reminders on how you are performing against your target. Stay focussed on the campaign; even when you are doing your day job.

Acquire Well

This is how the most successful acquisition campaigns run … You’ve got your eye on the prize; the goals (sorry no pun intended) are clear. You’ve done your homework. You know who you want to acquire, you know which prospects will make a difference to your company, and your bottom line. You know how many customers the campaign is to acquire. You will be doing some courting, selling your company and its benefits, there may be a few different meetings required until pen is put to paper, not to mention some negotiation to strike a deal that works for both. The end result is that with the right customers on board, it will make a real difference to your company going forward.


£120m invested in new players. £35m spent on deadline day. QPR, Liverpool and Newcastle responsible for 50% of the spend. All vital statistics. All help measure the success of the campaign. Understanding your numbers and the impact they will have will guide you in making strategic choices. Measure return on investment; the number of meetings gained; the amount of business acquired; the cost of acquisition; the long term value of a new client. Record where your acquisition is coming from, understand who is converting, find more of the same. Work on the basis that you are only as good as your last campaign. It will give you great focus.

Be Targeted

It’s not about the scattergun approach, unless your name is QPR (sorry Harry), it’s about being absolutely specific about the acquisition you want to make. What does your ideal customer look like? What sector are they in? What is the size of the company? What do you know about them already? How much are you willing to invest in acquiring them?  What difference will they make to your business in the long term? Lean, bespoke, highly targeted campaigns with fewer numbers always turn in the best results. It’s about quality over quantity. Well worth the investment, and well worth considering when your database throws out 1000s of records.


The best campaigns are underpinned by everyone knowing their role. The team knows what’s coming, and when, they are aware of the aims and they are aware of their role in the big campaign picture. As well as the spokespeople and the frontline team, there’s plenty of people behind the scenes making it work like a well-oiled machine. All with one common purpose; to make the acquisition as efficient and profitable as possible. It’s a team effort; on and off the pitch.

Everyone’s talking about it

Use as many channels as possible to support your campaign. Integrating your marketing reinforces your campaign giving people the opportunity to hear, see and touch your campaign. Few campaigns attract the interest in the scale of the transfer window where there’s been tweets on which player is being seen where; “Messi spotted at Heathrow” claimed one tweet. The Sky Sports News transfer deadline team Jim White and Natalie Sawyer build up to fever pitch before the 11pm deadline; there’s roving reporters outside the grounds, and an army of pundits commenting on all that’s going on in “the window”. It may not be on the same scale, but if your campaign is different enough and grabs the interest; you’ll certainly know about it .. through a whole manner of media.

For your next campaign, why not create your own equivalent of the transfer window. Good luck. And let me know how you get on. 🙂

Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director of Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and branding agency based in Lancashire, North West England. To learn more please go to

It’s Monday morning, Autumn leaves on the line dictate that Costa’s sophistication now belongs to Biffa and guess what, the monthly industry journal has your competitor’s latest product campaign splashed over the front cover…..and it’s blo*dy brilliant!!

OK……your luck will change if you make it so. Let’s start again.

‘’Good morning Jane!’’ (in the most cheerful tone available). ‘’Morning Clive’’ (slightly less so – which is more than Mr Rogers would ever expect). Grab a ‘Crista Coffee’ Super Latte Columbian Special Plus’ from the machine, no sugar left and the milk looks very…er….hydrated.

Computer sings it’s ‘Windows’ melody and we’re in! The day begins.

Mrs Biggins, 63, has served at Jennings and Co for no less than 39 years. An asset, carved from the biggest loyalty stone in Cambridgeshire.

‘’Your post is on your desk, David. Your 9:30 has been pushed to 10 and Mr Zalanski has e-mailed their proposal. I have finished the draft copy for BDH and we need to start looking at the contract particulars for Sam. David……please can you sign off the budgets for the next quarter – we need to get ahead.’’ 

‘’Thank you Margaret.’’

Sound familiar? A day we all relate to……..Monday.

So, amidst the stressful, fast-paced start, coupled to the week’s volume of work concentrated into Monday morning, what is your mindset when you sift through the post?  Agitated? Removed? Pressing? What it isn’t focused upon prioritising is Dumbbulbugs Creative’s latest direct mail – an A5 flyer (franked without envelope) showcasing their latest success – in a blobby, New Age design style, with a yellow elephant shouting from the page! Another forgettable DM brushed Biffa’s way along with all the other tedious, unremarkable, distinctly ordinary junk mail.

I don’t know who you are?

I don’t know of your company?

I don’t know your company’s product?

I don’t know what your company stands for?

I don’t know your company’s record?

I don’t know your company’s reputation?

Now……what was it you wanted to sell me?

Now you are probably smiling and nodding at the regularity with which this situation arises. Have you ever thought that there is another face to this story. Can you hand on heart say that the last direct mail you (your team) commissioned had impact? How do you expect your sales team to follow up credibly with any authority, when your initial touch point had such minimum impact?

The direct mail can be an explosive introduction to your latest product, cross-selling, or even a reminder of what you do best. Why compromise? It is your responsibility to deliver a campaign that facilitates enough curiosity in order that a follow-up presentation/call can be received with an amount of anticipation.

Happy Creative specialise in anything but ordinary campaignable direct mail pieces, that are proven to unlock the doors of global industrial/publishing/food/travel/automotive/financial institutions. We create memorable publications, no more lasting than ‘The Happy Client’. Curious? Just email me and ask for a copy. I guarantee it’ll make you smile (and remember us too!).

Mike Emmett is a Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

With the memorable date of 11-11-11 upon us, here are 11 tips to make your marketing campaigns memorable:

Know your audience

Whether you’re staging a major TV ad campaign or a small targeted direct mail you must know your audience.  Not just the basics either like age or sex, it also helps to understand what it is they want, what do they desire, where do they shop, how do they spend their time?

Knowing your audience will ensure you can tailor any campaign in such a way as to fit perfectly with them.  What better way to make it memorable for them.

Social Media

What used to be termed ‘water cooler’ moments were those campaigns that were talked about in offices and classrooms up and down the country the day after they had gone public.  However, with social media those moments are now instant.  Twitter, Facebook and the rest provide instant reaction to anything and everything.

Engaging with social media to enhance, react and interact can turn your campaign from noticeable to memorable.

Eye-catching Creative

Fantastic ideas remain just that without the right execution.  Creating eye-catching creative, be that design, a TV ad or direct mail piece can make the difference when it comes to grabbing and most importantly keeping attention.  Sometimes direct mail pieces in particular, if designed well, can remain with their recipient long after the campaign if they are well designed.

Always go for the best and most eye-catching creative you can, it can make all the difference in the end.

Be Brave

The easiest option is always the safest, but it is so often the least memorable.  Being brave with your choices is the only way to make a memorable campaign.  It’s difficult to be brave, we feel safe with what we know.  What we forget is that every day our customers are being bombarded with messages from our competitors and other media channels constantly changing expectations.

Striking out with a brave choice will make your campaign the memorable one.

Great Copy

In the same way that eye-catching creative will show, great copy is worth its weight in gold.  Engaging, memorable and most importantly relevant copy is a fantastic way of feeding your key messages into the memory banks of your customers.  It would be campaign suicide to match eye-catching creative and a brave idea with poor copy.  Great copy will enhance creative and give your brave idea that edge.


One way to make your campaign memorable is to integrate it.  The more ways your campaign can be accessed the more memorable it can become.  It is important for any campaign to be ‘followed through’ across all media both online and offline to maximise the return on investment.  Never is this more important in creating a memorable campaign.

Instead of concentrating on one marketing channel, ensure your campaign is integrated across as many as you can.

Surprise Them

Who’d have thought a yoghurt company would advertise its product using rapping farmers.  Or how about being caught up in a Vodafone flash mob, I’m sure you’d remember that.  Sometimes a surprise (often requiring a brave idea) can make your campaign more memorable than you could’ve hoped.  Instead of sticking to the norm, look at new ways to surprise people.  Use guerrilla marketing cleverly, create an unusual ad or high-impact direct mail piece.  All of these can serve to surprise customers and get your brand logged deep in their memories.

Surprises are always memorable, use different media and techniques to make something really surprising.

Make Me an Offer

You buy one, you get one free, I say… you know the rest.  An offer can enhance any campaign, indeed you may even be developing your campaign around an offer.  Make sure (where you can) that you include some kind of offer with a campaign. It may be a great discount, points, vouchers or even a giveaway.  A good offer will serve to increase the effectiveness and memorable nature of your campaign.  To go back to the example, Safestyle UK base their whole campaign on the offer.

Include an offer to make your campaign easy for your customers to benefit from. (ps. Did you know that Happy Karen went to school with Safestyle’s Buy One, Get One Free man – Jeff Brown).

Make Friends

Your best customers are your greatest sales tool, and can make or break your campaigns.  Getting your customers talking about your campaign is a fantastic way to make your campaign that much more memorable.  As your biggest advocates, your customers can ensure your campaign is seen by many more people.  They will often add in their own benefits, gleaned from their own experience of your brand, and give your campaigns longevity.  That’s why making friends is crucial, and it is where social media is particularly useful.

Your best customers are the biggest advocates you have, use them to make your campaigns memorable.

Deliver on Your Promise

As with anything, especially campaign related, the best way to create a memorable campaign is to deliver on the promises you make.  Not only does this simple adage mean your campaign gets spoken about in glowing terms, it also gives subsequent campaigns a great chance of being even more successful.  By delivering on your promises customers will see that they really can gain from your campaign and that is your ultimate goal.

When customers know that you deliver on your promises, you and your campaigns remain memorable to them for years to come.


The very best campaigns maintain a crucial element, momentum. Whether they explode on to the scene in one big surprise or they slowly burn away, keeping the campaign full of energy is crucial to getting results.  Maintaining momentum doesn’t mean persisting with a campaign that has served its purpose or isn’t working.  Momentum is the simple act of ensuring every avenue is explored with the elements of the campaign.  Just how week two or three, or the next series of posters or the next set of adverts look is all key to maintaining momentum and should be considered at the earliest stage of the campaign.

When assessing the suitability of a campaign look to the stage 2, or the next set of adverts to see if you really have a viable campaign and can maintain some great momentum.

Karen Lambert is an experienced strategic marketer and Managing Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

For many marketers, digital marketing has quite rightly become their number one priority.

The flexibility, cost savings and relative ease of use makes it a marketing channel that is perfect for many. Quite rightly too, but what is sometimes forgotten in the use of this marketing panacea is sometimes focused too much on the technology and not enough on the best way to use it.

And in this respect digital really can learn lessons from DM.

One clear lesson is one that DM practitioners have been using for years. The well worn DM path of Test, Learn and Refine is one that fits perfectly with the benefits that digital bring. And it is a reason why many of the best digital marketers have a DM background.

Secondly, the essence of any great marketing strategy is a perfect mix of marketing channels all working in conjunction to best meet the business objectives. Digital campaigns work best when they are combined with other marketing routes. Making sure, as you would with a DM campaign, that all branding is in line and reflects the key messages you are trying to make.

Thirdly, any great DM campaign follows the Test, Learn and Refine process, but also any DM must be AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action). The beauty of digital is that it can speed up this process as feedback can be instantaneous. However, as it is so easy to do, it often becomes forgotten. Test, Learn and Refine can bring excellent results to any marketing campaign.

Creating something interesting, great design, persuasive copy and call to action are key to any effective marketing piece. Be that digital or DM, the trick is to ensure that some of those fundamental lessons that arrived before the digital era are followed through. Digital marketing is essential for all businesses. It takes customer and supplier interaction to a new level.

However, the fundamentals of great integrated marketing campaigns should not be ignored.

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Simon Brooke is Digital Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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