Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marketing Challenge for ALL!

This is nothing I’ve not written about before, here or elsewhere, but as all of you who follow my articles know by now I am a strong believer and proponent for low volume (small batch) special interest postcard direct-mail campaigns.

This time, however, I’m issuing ALL WHO READ THIS A CHALLENGE! I want and expect commitments of 30-, 60- 90-day, six months or one full year from each of you. I DARE you to do this and at the end of your exercise tell me you gained nothing from your participation. That you failed to get one phone call, e-mail inquiry or website visit. More, that you failed to get at least one gig from your campaign.

Ignore what you’ve previously experienced, read or heard (except here, of course ;-) about direct-mail marketing. Open up your minds, engage your willingness to suspend disbelief, and THINK about what I’m asking you to do ... fairly and objectively. Then, let’s see how many of you are willing to commit to a specific period of time by responding NOW in “comments” below, and occasionally for the duration of your exercise. Let’s see how many will seriously accept the challenge.

Then, bring on the comments! Let’s share and learn from your individual experiences by either e-mailing me direct reports, or posting comments here. I will commit to providing blog updates as the program grows and continues. Let’s hear the results, positive, negative or neutral.

Any of you who’ve read my articles know I’m a firm believer in small direct-mail postcard campaigns focused on specific areas of interest: dance schools, school events, youth sports groups, and other clubs, groups and organizations from community playhouses to community center activities.

What I mean by “focused” and “small” is less than 100 units per campaign and as mentioned above, postcards designed to appeal to a specific area of interest.

Do a Google search or use any other method of identifying ANY facility, school, organization, club or group(s) of interest within your service area. Get addresses and as often as you can GET NAMES! Someone to address that postcard to: the counselor, owner, director, choreographer, events planner, organizer, pastor, etc.

DESIGN A POSTCARD with minimum wording, a call to action and a promise you CAN keep: special price, introductory offer, no minimum sales, etc. — something that appeals to the ever-present question “What’s in it for me?” EVERYONE you try to sell something to will ask, and not always aloud.

COMMIT TO MAILING a minimum of ONE postcard a day, on average, (that’s right JUST ONE, although MORE is better) and stick to the commitment. It takes just a few minutes to come up with 30 or so viable addresses, and often names, for most active events. Ten minutes, or less, a day if you ONLY look for one, identify it, address the postcard, stick a stamp on it and put it in the mailbox.

KEEP A RECORD of what happens. What interest group(s) you select. Who you mailed to. How many you mailed. How many responses you get. How many sales, gigs or opportunities you received. Then come here and share your “updates” with the rest of us for the duration of your commitment.

YOU WILL ENJOY a better than five percent response. I’ve been doing this for years and I’ve averaged an eight percent or better response to each and every direct-mail campaign and batch. I’ve ALWAYS done better than break even when factoring in my costs and time, always getting MORE business income than what I invested. Yes, a REAL R.O.I. (return on investment)

Persistency, consistency, commitment WILL generate responses and business. You ARE gaining eyeballs, and TELL yourself this until you believe it, even if you DON’T receive even ONE response over a 90-day period. People WILL read your postcards, many of them will save them for reference purposes because even if they don’t perceive a need today, they will want to keep it as a resource for tomorrow’s, next week’s or next month’s special party or event. They often find themselves in need of a replacement vendor either because they’re displeased with them or they had one flake out on them at the last minute.

These reasons and more have resulted in my getting gigs over the period of many of my direct-mail postcard campaigns.

Keep records, because you WANT to repeat mailings, either with the same direct-mail piece or a new one, but still with your prominent business name and branding present so you continue with the association, visibility and linkage, and familiarity that comes from repeated exposure.

DON’T however overdo it by getting rambunctious and saturating your address lists with something akin to SPAM or JUNK MAIL. That is counter-productive, guaranteeing a negative return and 100 percent direct-to-trash response.

Make your postcard content simple, compelling and ALWAYS include a call to action: “Call NOW!” or “ACT NOW!” or “E-MAIL TODAY!” or “BOOK TODAY!” so on and so forth.

Just do it! And share your results with the rest of us. I personally look forward to many glowing reports of positive limited run, direct-mail postcard, special interest campaigns over then next 12 months.

Remember: “If you market, you will make it!” © 2004-2011 Earl Chessher

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Preaching to the Choir

This post isn’t for everyone ...
... well, yeah, I guess it IS for everyone! Me included. It’s about marketing and what drives us, what compels us, what moves us into action. It’s also about what prevents us from doing what it takes, going where we need to go to accomplish success, make positive things happen not only in our personal lives, but our business lives as well.

Throughout this blog, over the years, I’ve focused on aspects of business ranging from new concepts, tried and proven new ideas and programs, with emphasis on marketing and “working the program” to accomplish something, anything, in your personal business. Specifically, my articles have primarily focused on these subjects as they pertain to video — marketing, production, development, creation, sales, promotion, business.

Generally, the blog articles that have been published here since 2004 contain principles that, while specific to video, can be applied to not only ANY business but to our personal approach to life as well. I often refer to a calendar my late Mom once gave me as a present, one of those with the pithy sayings and encouraging comments shared daily to help inspire the reader to new lofty goals. The ONE page that stuck with me more than any other said: “Great ideas won’t work unless you do!”

And this is true! Sadly, it is counter to human nature to follow through with the actions necessary to make those “great ideas” work. Many of us stop just after having a Great Idea, satisfied that we’ve managed to have one at all, but not willing to go the distance needed to carry such an inspirational thought to fruition or success much less existence. And this tendency, my dear readers, is what today’s article will focus on.

Great ideas truly will NOT work unless we do. A rare few humans in the world have the determination, self-motivation, belief, drive, ambition, energy or personal stamina to pursue a great idea to the point of accomplishment. We are victims of fad diets, temporary inspirations, fleeting ideals that kick up our adrenalin levels momentarily before we slip back into our safe comfort zones and relax in a state of stasis.

There are literally thousands of self-help publications, Internet articles, make money, lose weight, get healthy and more sources of information that inspire yet languish. An idea or concept gets hot, goes viral and millions (sometimes) invest, copy or borrow from the latest craze only to peruse the cover, delicately test the waters, then save it to a file or place it on a closet shelf or in a junk drawer — never again to be sought out, read or referred to.

Our general lethargy and laziness makes success difficult for the majority of us. Our tendency to find good, even GREAT ideas, concepts and programs, then begin to justify why we do not pursue them is overwhelming. So many of us spend MORE time avoiding than confronting.

I have a son whom I often accuse of expending more time and energy to figure out how to NOT do something than he would if he simply DID it! To a degree the vast majority of humankind is of this nature. We work harder to avoid than we ever would if we actually took on a Great Idea and tried to make it work. We all spend a great portion of our time seeking get-rich-quick schemes, lose-weight-fast fad diets and diet concepts, and spend-a-little-to-make-a-lot concepts, and proportionately very little time, effort, energy or money actually developing an active, aggressive approach to such accomplishments.

The single, most affordable and simple solution to business success is marketing. Specifically, direct-mail marketing. When was the last time you mailed a postcard, letter or sample DVD of your work?

When was the last time you sent more than one? One a day? For three months, six months, a year or more? Thought so. I even lapse into periods where for no logical rhyme or reason I slack off doing this persistently and consistently, and when I do business falls off rapidly and sharply.

When was the last time you updated your website, checked to be sure all the links and connections still work, added some new materials and removed old, outdated content? I recently researched a boatload of websites where the “last updated” or latest copyright notification was as long ago as 1999, many in the 2004 range and a huge number haven’t been changed in any significant way, based on update or copyright notice since 2007.

In this day and age of multi-level marketing and Internet, along with social network options, a day is often too long between adding fresh, new materials, updating and removing old, outdated content, or simply establishing a new sense of vitality to your business presence. I plead guilty to the same ... look how long it has been since my last blog post on E.C. Come, E.C . Go. At minimum I should have something weekly, but I’m a long way from that reality. With the current load of personal and business marketing, production and program development I do good to post monthly.

Consistent and persistent focus is difficult to sustain ... human nature.

I promote and offer two vital programs for folks wanting to get into the video production business — “They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” a book on funeral and memorial marketing and production, and a global branding and marketing program called Video StoryTellers!™ (VST) as well as a host of other and forthcoming resources, along with a huge number of informational articles on this blog.

Many have inquired, a few have purchased or invested, none ... well, other than Artis White, Flex Media Productions, and probably Nishi Dias, both self-motivated professionals who have purchased the funeral and memorial marketing and production book ... have taken their efforts to the next level.

Pamela Dahlgren of Michigan, John McDaid of Arizona, Fred J. Claus of New York, Mike Schiedermayer of Wisconsin, Jim Nicholson of Pennsylvania, Heidi Mueller of Canada, Luis O. Maymi of Puerto Rico, and others have invested money, time and/or energy into developing Video StoryTellers!™ both individually and as a brand and program for new independent professional video services providers (IPVSPs). They all are at one stage or another in pursuing and developing their VST marketing and production strategies.

There are possibly two approaches toward life, business and success in either — make it happen or let it happen. A large number of people in the world fall into the latter category ... they “let” things happen, then react, or not, and see where it gets them.

It is my personal opinion that those who operate from this perspective find fewer satisfying moments in their pursuits. I strongly believe that folks who work hard, invest time and money and energy into “making” things happen, to take the initiative and establish the directives that get something going, get something done, achieve a higher, more consistent and satisfying level of success than the others.

Even an on again, off again approach to “making” it happen is better than a full-time philosophy of “letting” things happen. Action vs reaction — there’s something awesomely powerful in taking action and seeing your focus, your efforts bring fruition.

Anyone remember former John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not ...” speech? Well, the same can be applied to programs purchased, resource materials borrowed and read, investments made and efforts expended. It isn’t so much what these elements can do for you, it is what you can do to make them WORK for you.

Whatever it is you desire. Whatever it is you believe in, work at it — make it happen! When you make a decision to purchase “They Shoot Funerals, Don’t They” don’t simply buy it and read it, then put it on the shelf. Take this valuable information to the next level and TRY some of the proven techniques offered, LEARN from the real-life experiences shared by the author.

And when you run into a wall on your first try, don’t stop there, accepting defeat. It is a proven fact that consistency, persistency and tenacious application of proven techniques and approaches DO work, but ONLY if you stay with it. Repetition, visibility and linkage are the secret to success.

Kenny Rogers sings “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em ...” but there’s a HUGE chasm between an effort in futility and the futility of further effort. What’s that saying? The cliché? “No pain, no gain?” Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to HURT, but you should feel some degree or combination of exhaustion/exhilaration in the process of reaching for success in any program or adventure — most especially in business as an independent.

When the information from which you’re working is solid and based on proven facts and strategies, then working the program will ensure that the program works for you. After all, Great Ideas won’t work unless you do!

Remember: If you market, you will make it! © 2011 Earl Chessher, CorElAnn Video Productions, Video StoryTellers!™