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Mailbox Monday

What do direct mail teasers, subheads, captions, and callouts have in common? They're often read more (and read more often) than body copy.

Don't get us wrong. We love writing body copy for B Direct clients and appreciate reading copy written by other creative teams. Good copy is like melodic music. And, continuing the metaphor, bad copy always sounds a bit tone-deaf — consider that a warning if you've already relegated copywriting and/or editing to ChatGPT.

Whether you buy into the goldfish comparison or not, humans have a notoriously short attention span right now. They have to be terribly interested (or awfully bored) before they'll commit to reading long-form copy. Not only are teasers, subheads, captions, and callouts quick and easy alternatives, but they're usually designed with more visual appeal. Most marketers recognize this, and some use it to their advantage.

Take, for example, the simple self-mailer we just received from our friends and long-time collaborators at the USPS.

The piece is two panels, folded to 4.75" x 6". Addressed to "Postal Customer," a teaser reads "Open to see our key holiday ship-by dates and how we can help you deliver joy this season." There's an indicia, familiar USPS logo, and two certification seals attesting to how sustainable and green the organization is.

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Machine-Powered Creativity: Copywriting with Generative AI

Copywriters have been important since the earliest days of marketing. Crafting compelling, engaging, and persuasive content is an art that demands both creativity and strategy. However, in this digital era, where technological advancements continually reshape industries, copywriters can now harness the power of generative AI to augment their creative process rather than replace it.

Let’s repeat that part: rather than replace it.

Generative AI tools, empowered by machine learning algorithms, are revolutionizing the way copywriters conceptualize, refine, and fine-tune their content. Contrary to the misconception that AI is here to replace human creativity, these tools serve as invaluable assistants that complement and enhance a copywriter's abilities.

Ideation and Brainstorming

One of the greatest challenges in copywriting is ideation—coming up with fresh, impactful ideas. Generative AI acts as a catalyst in this phase, offering inspiration and expanding the realm of possibilities. By inputting keywords or themes, these AI platforms generate a plethora of ideas, opening doors to new perspectives and directions that might not have been initially considered by the human mind alone.

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Go Ahead, Be A Tease

The Bs agree that direct mail remains a powerful marketing tool — even in (especially in) these digital days. It takes more effort to “trash” paper mail than an email, and a well-crafted teaser can make all the difference in encouraging recipients to open your envelope before they get to the waste basket. Once they open your mail, your job is half done.

Here are some tips to help you write a compelling teaser that will pique curiosity and get your target audience over that initial hurdle.

  1. Know Your Audience: As with all marketing, it's crucial to understand your target audience. What are their pain points? What excites them? Knowing your audience's interests and needs is the foundation of a captivating teaser.
  2. KISS (Keep It Short and Sweet): Remember the KISS principle – keep your teaser concise and to the point. You only have a few words to grab their attention, so make every word count.
  3. Create Intrigue: Teasers should provoke curiosity. Ask a question that the recipient will want to know the answer to. Make people wonder what they might be missing.
  4. Focus on Benefits: Highlight the benefits of what's inside the envelope. If your direct mail contains a special offer, make sure your teaser mentions it.
  5. Use Action Verbs: Action verbs add dynamism to your teaser. Words like "Discover," "Unlock," "Reveal," and "Get" encourage engagement. They make your audience feel like they're about to embark on an exciting journey.
  6. Inject Emotion: Use emotional triggers that resonate with your audience. If your product or service can solve a common problem, express it in your teaser.
  7. Play with Creativity: Think outside the box and use metaphors, wordplay, or puns to add a touch of creativity. A clever teaser can leave a lasting impression.
  8. Personalization Matters: If you can, use personalized teasers with the recipient's name or relevant information. "John, your exclusive offer awaits inside."
  9. Timing is Everything: Consider the timing of your mailings. Tailor your teaser to suit the season, holidays, or special events. "Unwrap a special surprise just in time for the holidays."
  10. A Clear Call to Action: At the end of your teaser, provide a clear call to action. Encourage your recipients to open the envelope with a directive statement like "Open now!" or "See inside for details."
  11. Test and Iterate: Don't be afraid to experiment with different teasers. A/B testing can help you determine which ones resonate best with your audience. Keep refining your approach to achieve better results.
  12. Make It Visually Appealing: Use fonts, colors, and design elements that grab attention. A well-designed teaser is more likely to entice someone to open the envelope.
  13. Maintain Consistency: Ensure that your teaser aligns with the content inside the envelope. You don't want to mislead your recipients, as this can damage your credibility.

Remember, the art of writing a compelling teaser for direct mail takes practice. It's all about understanding your audience and crafting engaging messages. And then … TEST, TEST, TEST.

With a great teaser, you'll increase your chances of capturing attention and driving success.

Creative's Where You Find It


In marketing, consistently churning out fresh ideas is a lot like hunting for unicorns. At B Direct, we have your back. We've been around the creativity block more times than we can count, and we're here to share some of our top-secret sources of inspiration to ignite your creative fire.

  1. The Great Outdoors: Mother Nature is the ultimate creative genius. Take a leisurely hike, listen to rustling leaves, and marvel at  infinite shades of green. Nature was using design and color palettes way before Quark, much less InDesign, came into existence.
  2. The Supermarket: Believe it or not, grocery stores offer up a trove of inspiration. From cereal boxes to craft beer labels, you'll find design concepts everywhere. And don't even get us started on the possibilities of a cereal-based campaign! (Been there, done that.)
  3. The Comic Book Store: Bam! Pow! Zap! Comics aren't just for kids. The intricate artwork and storytelling techniques in comic books can provide a fresh perspective on visual storytelling for your next campaign. Plus, who doesn't want to be a superhero?
  4. Historical Archives: Dust off those history books and stroll through time. Ancient civilizations, retro fashion, and vintage advertising can be a goldmine of inspiration for modern campaigns with a timeless twist.
  5. Art Galleries: Nothing sparks creativity quite like fine art. Head to your local museum and immerse yourself in paintings, sculptures, and installations. It's sensory overload that can give birth to the most innovative ideas.
  6. Playgrounds: Swing sets, slides, and colorful plastic tunnels may seem like child's play, but they're also a source of pure, unadulterated design genius. Vivid colors and imaginative structures can fuel your creativity in unexpected ways.
  7. Science Museums: Take advantage of mind-boggling technology, history, and interactive exhibits. These places can expand your mind and spark new ideas that are truly out of this world.
  8. Food Trucks: Food trucks aren't just about tacos and gourmet burgers; they're about branding on wheels! The creative names, logos, and designs on food trucks might serve up some appetizing inspiration for your next campaign.
  9. Local Markets: Wander through bustling markets, sampling exotic flavors and savoring the kaleidoscope of colors. The energy and diversity of local markets can provide a fresh perspective for marketing campaigns that resonate with different cultures.
  10. Coffee Shops: In the buzz of a coffee shop, you can find the perfect blend of ambiance and caffeine-fueled creativity. Take a seat, sip on your latte, and let the aroma of innovation waft your way.

Inspiration is like Wi-Fi — it's all around you, but you have to connect to it. At B Direct, we believe that creativity knows no bounds, and our team is always on the hunt for the next big idea, even if it means looking some unexpected places.

In the end, creativity isn't something you find; it's something you nurture.

Email Offers by the Numbers

Email marketing can be a powerful tool to reach various generations, but it's important to tailor your email offers to the preferences and characteristics of each. These are general guidelines, and you maay want to fine-rune them based on your product or solution, and the individual preferences of your customers.

Here are some email offer strategies that tend to work well for each generation:

  1. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964ish):

    • Personalization: Baby boomers appreciate personalized offers and messages. Use their first names and send them tailored product recommendations based on their past purchases or interests.
    • Clear and Concise: Keep your emails clear and concise, focusing on the value proposition of your offer. Avoid jargon and overly complicated language.
    • Discounts and Loyalty Programs: Offer exclusive discounts, loyalty program rewards, or promotions that highlight long-term value and savings.

  2. Generation X (born 1965-1980ish):

    • Visual Appeal: Gen Xers respond well to visually appealing emails. Use high-quality images and make sure your emails are mobile-responsive.
    • Limited-Time Offers: Create a sense of urgency with limited-time offers or flash sales to encourage quick decision-making.
    • Product Demonstrations: Include product videos or demonstrations to showcase the value and functionality of your products.

  3. Millennials (born 1981-1996ish):

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Mailbox Monday

The KISS principle (not to be confused with Gene, Ace, Paul, and Peter) is credited to Kelly Johnson, lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works. An acronym for "Keep It Simple, Stupid," it embraces the idea that less can be more, and that designers (and by extension, marketers) should avoid unnecessary complication.

Of course, sometimes we need to get complicated. A common question we've heard for years is "How long should body copy be?" Our un-disingenuous reply: "As long as it needs to be to sell whatever you're selling." We've seen four-page letters outpull two-page letters, long emails out pull short ones. AND, we've seen the opposite happen too.

This might be a good time to suggest testing.

Anyway, we recently received a postcard that takes the KISS principle to heart. It's short, sweet, and to the point. It didn't waste our time and we appreciated it. The oversized full-color card came from Instacart Business, and its the very model of modern brevity.

On the address side, in less than 30 words, we're encouraged to "Get supplies & snacks delivered in as fast as 1 hour." The limited-time offer is spelled out: Unlimited free delivery and 2% credit back. Instacart Business's logo is displayed prominently, along with recognizable logos from retailers, including BJ's and Staples. And, there's a QR code and URL front and center.

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The Brand vs. Demand Dance

Here at B Direct, we’ve been known to dance on the fine line between projecting a consistent brand and creating attention-getting marketing campaigns. It's a delicate mashup, much like mastering a synchronized swimming routine with one too many pirouettes. Success often means striking for the sweet spot between branding and demand generation.

The Branding Ballet

Picture this: You're at a party, and someone walks in dressed as Elvis Presley. The outfit is spot-on, the swagger is there, and you instantly know who it is. That's the power of branding! It's about creating a consistent and recognizable identity for your business. Elvis will always be the King of Rock 'n' Roll, and your brand should similarly reign supreme in its niche.

Take a tech company, for instance. (We’ve worked with hundreds of them.) Their logo, a sleek and futuristic representation of their commitment to innovation, is etched into the minds of tech enthusiasts worldwide. When you see that logo, you know cutting-edge tech is just around the corner.

The Demand Generation Disco

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Mailbox Monday

Hmmmm ... where to start?

Let's start with data. This 5.25" x 8.25" three-panel self-mailer was sent to a woman who has been deceased for more than five years. If that's any indication of the quality of the campaign's list, results may be ... well ... depressed.

But, alas, our problems with the mailer don't end there.

The mail side is simple: return address, indicia, prospect's name and address. Nothing specifically wrong with it except that there's a good deal of real estate and we'd love to see a teaser that alludes to the offer. Missed opportunity.

The art side is more problematic. We usually applaud personalization, and the prospect's last name certainly stands out in what must be 75- or 90-point type. BUT, right below the name are the dates 1948 - 2023. Since we spent more time with the piece than the average recipient would, we realized that those dates are the 75 years that the sender has been in business. The way they're listed under the name, though, they look like birth and death dates! Assuming the prospect is still alive, it looks like the sender is predicting their demise — and that demise is going to take place in the next three months.

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Mind the Gap: Connecting Print and Digital

In case you’ve been asleep for the past two decades, welcome to the digital age of marketing. These days (and for the aforementioned many years past), digital channels dominate. Digital is quick, low-cost, easy to track, and easy to update. Nobody reads magazines or newspapers or catalogues or mail anymore.

Blah blah blah.

Yes, it's easy to overlook the power of traditional print marketing. However, the savviest marketers understand that a successful — or in digital speak, an optimized — campaign often combines the strengths of both print and digital mediums. Integrating print and digital marketing can create a richer, more memorable brand experience, capturing the attention of a diverse audience.

Here are five effective strategies to close the gap between print and digital marketing …

QR Codes

QR codes have become ubiquitous in restaurants during the hands-free era of COVID. But, their earlier roots were in marketing. These scannable codes offer a quick, convenient way for customers to transition from a physical piece, like a brochure or a poster (or a table tent), to a digital experience, such as a website, video, or social media page or menu. By strategically placing QR codes on printed materials, you invite users to explore deeper online content, thereby enhancing engagement and extending their interaction with your brand.

Personalized URLs (PURLs)

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Using GenAI as a Thought Starter

At B Direct, we've helped market brands across myriad industries — from universities to canine DNA testing, medical centers to women's apparel, military think tanks to nationwide cineplexes, and non-profits to mega-banks. But, our sweet spot for the past 20 (!) years has been B2B high tech.

Often, we're asked to develop concepts to reach C-suite executives. In the past, we've sent radio-controlled cars, Magic 8 balls, autographed business books, puzzles, calendars, cereal boxes, model planes, and Twinkies. We've also "bribed" recipients with VIP sweepstakes, free passes to major industry events, Godiva chocolates, and a year's worth of concert tickets.

With another assignment looming, we decided to test-drive the web's friendliest GenAI app, ChatGPT. We asked it to suggest ways to reach a CEO with direct mail. And, since we firmly believe that every workday should be fun as well as productive, we asked it to respond to us in words that were smart and funny.

Here's what we got ...

Unleashing the B2B Mailbox Magic: Crafting Offers That Make CEOs Swoon

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The Whys and Whens of Content Marketing

According to HubSpot (that, granted, has a stake in the issue), 82% of marketers actively invest in content marketing. What about the rest? Well, only 10% report not using it, while 8% are unsure.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately,  to drive profitable customer action."

Knowing what it is, and even investing in it, isn't enough. If content is truly "a strategic marketing approach," then it's helpful to understand what works best and when, mapped to your customer's journey. And, as strategic as that may or should be, it isn't really rocket science. As with any type of marketing, the key is to put yourself in the prospective customer's shoes:

  • What matters to them now?
  • What are you asking them to do?
  • And, how willing — at this point — are they to do what you're asking?

This is particularly true for B2B, which is so often a considered purchase. It's most effective to align the content you're creating and publishing to where they are in the browsing/shopping/buying process.

If they're just getting started (or haven't even started), you need to raise awareness. This is a time to educate (and, if appropriate, entertain) them. Don't ask for too much of a time commitment yet. Effective content marketing tactics might include at-a-glance infographics, listicles, short blog posts, cheat sheets, eBooks, or podcasts on a more general topic.

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Living in a Barbie World

This past weekend, Greta Gerwig's Barbie earned $155 million domestically and $337 million internationally. Although there have been those who call it "man-hating, woke propaganda," it's earning rave reviews from less politicized critics for its smart super-feminist script, radiant performances, and overall pinkness. (Supposedly, its set direction caused a nationwide shortage of pink paint.)

With a movie this big — and with such incredible pre-release promotion — there were bound to be marketing tie-ins. Here's a partial list:

  • Aldo
  • Balmain
  • Bloomingdales
  • Bumble
  • Burger King
  • Crocs
  • Fossil
  • GAP
  • Glasshouse Fragrances
  • HGTV
  • Kitsch Hair Accessories
  • Kohl's
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Impala Roller Skates
  • Joybird
  • London Underground
  • Microsoft
  • Moon Oral Care
  • NYX Cosmetics
  • OPI Nail Polish
  • Pac Sun
  • PinkBerry
  • Primark
  • Ruggable
  • Target
  • Urban Planet
  • Zara

All-in-all, there are more than 100 brands cashing in on Barbie-mania. But, the brand that will benefit most is Mattel itself. Barbie already accounts for one-third of the toymaker's revenue. And the company has been progressive, creating Barbies in a variety of shapes and sizes and skin tones — all of which is proudly on display in the new movie. And, as the film points out, Barbie has broken through glass ceilings that mere mortal women haven't been allowed to yet.

Bottom line ... if you love Barbie, see the movie. If you hate Barbie, see the movie.

Even if you don't see the movie, rest assured you're going to see a lot about the movie, virtually everywhere. We're living in a Barbie marketing world.

So Many Movies Are a Drag

It's Pride month.

Did you know that according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there are currently almost 500 pieces of state-level legislation threatening the rights of LGBTQ+ communities. (YES, it's 2023. And NO, we can't believe it either.) Many of these bills put restrictions on or completely ban drag performances. At the same time, gun safety advocates are fighting an uphill battle to ban assault rifles.

Because, apparently, drag queens are more dangerous than AR-15s.

But, we digress.

Drag is nothing new. In fact, it was employed in Greek and Roman comedies thousands of years before a little town called Stratford produced one William Shakespeare. And, it's not just that the Bard included characters who cross-dressed, virtually all of Elizabethan theatre was an exercise in drag. Women were prohibited from appearing onstage. So, Juliet, Miranda, Ophelia, Lady Macbeth ...? All drag queens.

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If Marketing isn’t “Direct,” Why Bother?

It must be "Way Back Wednesday." This is our very first blog post from 2017. But, what was true then is still true today. You gotta B Direct.


There's more to direct than … well ... direct. At B Direct, we're proud of our direct marketing heritage. But, too often people assume we're a direct mail agency. We are. But, there's more to us than direct mail. 

Just like there's more to direct marketing.

Direct marketing is media agnostic. Any advertising medium can be direct if it follows one or more simple rules:

1. Is it targeting a specific audience segment or individual?

2. Is it making an offer?
3. Is it giving people a way (and a reason) to respond?

If you're spending money on marketing that isn't targeted, that doesn't make an offer, and that doesn't ask for a response, we're really sorry. You're wasting that money.

Direct marketing is an approach and an attitude. It's communicating a specific "give/get" ratio.

"If you (our audience) give us something (your time, your effort, your money), you'll get something you want (value, convenience, success, food, shelter, love, happiness)." There's a transaction implied or spelled out. The advertiser is asking for permission to start a marketing conversation.

That word "permission" is important. People are busy, easily distracted, and hyper-sensitive about their privacy. As marketers — especially direct marketers — we need to respect the audience. Give them a relevant reason to stop, to pay attention, to keep reading, and to take action.

Here's an example from the B Direct archives …

Our client, an online printer, was running regular full-page ads in a variety of design publications. But, they weren't generating any orders. The ads were colorful and clever. They listed all the company's products, and services. They effectively put a stake in the ground in terms of the client's brand. But clearly, they were missing something.

They weren't direct.

We kept the attitude of the old ads, but added a few tried-and-true direct marketing elements. Like, an offer and multiple ways to respond (in this case, via phone or online). We also replaced product features copy with benefits copy, emphasizing great quality at great prices, and our client's fast-turnaround.

Taking a direct approach to brand ads paid off. The ads generated hundreds of "Free Samples Kit" requests, and the conversion rate for those responders was a whopping 80%. The client saw enough of an uptick in business (after several consecutive flat months) to open an additional facility.

Bottom line. Don't be afraid to be direct. B Direct.

Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we've been direct marketers for quite a while (quite a while, if we're honest, before being a digital marketer was even an option). And, those of us who grew up creating direct mail campaigns will always defend that least glamorous of all marketing tactics: the letter.

These days, however, the human attention span (which, let's face it, was never infinitely long to begin with — just ask Henry VIII and any of his six wives) is more mercurial than ever. It's estimated today at 8.25 seconds. That's .75 seconds less than your average goldfish. Does anyone bother to read anymore? And, if they do bother to read, will they choose to put that archaic task to work on your direct mail letter?

The second hurdle facing those of us who still conceive and write and implement and mail letters is that most letters arrive in most mailboxes in simple #10 envelopes. Not exactly the sexiest package.

Well, a business credit card solicitation we've just received from CapitalOne attempts to address these two obstacles.

The outer envelope includes teaser copy that's fairly typical for the category:

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Mailbox Monday

In 2022, the United States Postal Service (that's the USPS to those of us in the know) delivered to 152.2 million residential addresses. And, the average American living at one of those addresses received about 454 pieces of marketing mail (let's not call it junk). And, that's in addition to bills, statements, magazine subscriptions, and the occasional handwritten letter.

Let's face it, most mail is pretty tedious.

So, when something arrives that looks like it might be of value, we tend to notice, asking ourselves (quite literally), "What's in it for me?"

This little reactivation mailer from women's retailer Draper & Damon's leverages that natural curiosity with a teaser that reads, "Special Gift Inside."

You had us at the word "Gift."

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Generative AI — The Ultimate Mashup

In the marketing world, a lot is being written about the pluses — and minuses — of generative AI.

"Efficiency!" cry its champions. "Speed to market!" "Vast quantities of content!"

"Bias and misinformation!" warn its detractors. "The end of creative thought!" "Vast quantities of copywriter unemployment!"

Yes, Gen AI can create fairly good content in mere seconds. But, we think the ultimate use case — AI's silver bullet, if you will — is something else entirely.

And something entirely entertaining.

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Mailbox Monday

When is a #10 letter package more than a #10 letter package?

In direct marketing, we tend to think of standard #10 packages as workhorses. They can be effective, cost-efficient, and even beautifully written, but they're often pretty plain when it comes to art direction.

A.R.T., the American Repertory Theater, took a different approach. In their simple membership mailing, they let art direction take the lead.

The #10 closed-face envelope is just two-color, but printed on both sides with a striking red floral pattern. This achieves the first objective of any direct mail piece: to get noticed. Copy on the closed face reads "Don't keep your distance." And, a teaser on the address (and flap) side encourages us to "Open for behind-the-scenes experiences at Evita, Alanis Morisette at Boston Calling, and more ..." Finally, a live (standard) stamp adds a nice touch of tactility. (See what we did there?)

Inside, there's an 8.5 x 14" letter that picks up the floral pattern from the envelope. The personalized Johnson Box explains that if we begin a membership by giving $75 by June 30, "an anonymous donor will match your donation, dollar for dollar, doubling the  impact of your gift to A.R.T!"

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Rebranding: Can An Angel Change Her Wings?

Can a leopard change its stripes?

Victoria’s Secret recently announced that it’s bringing back the brand’s most famous, most expensive, and most over-the-top marketing tool: the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. The practically soft-core extravaganza has been on hiatus since 2019. Whether this was due to increased competition, decreased viewership, evolving public opinion, or the forced resignation of VS CMO Edward Razek is debatable.

Victoria’s Secret has an interesting history. It was founded back in the 1970s but became a powerhouse after L Brands’ Les Wexner purchased it in 1982. By the 1990s, it was the U.S.’s largest lingerie retailer, known for its spicy catalogs, sensory in-store experience, preternaturally gorgeous models, and extravagant fashion shows. In 1999, the show “crashed the Internet,” and viewership at its peak topped nine million.

However, while Victoria’s Secret continued to promote impossible objectifications of female beauty (“The Perfect Body”), other brands were winning over younger consumers who valued diversity and inclusion and body positivity. Aerie, for example, pledged to stop Photoshopping models; ThirdLove offered bras built for real breasts. Victoria’s Secret continued to depict women through a decidedly heterosexual male gaze.

Battling declining sales and PR nightmares (harassment, racism, cultural appropriation, and Wexner’s close friendship and tangled financial relationship with convicted pedophile trafficker Jeffrey Epstein), the brand announced a Hail Mary attempt to course correct and rebrand. The changes are extensive with the brand announcing new leadership and model diversity (in terms of ethnicity, size, disabilities, and gender identification).

Instead of Angels, the brand is relying on the VS Collective, a group of powerful women that includes athletes, activists, and artists. Most of all, the brand now purports to be, according to Martha Pease, CMO from 2020 to 2022, “The world's leading advocate for women. We want to inspire women all over the world with products, experiences and platforms that uplift and champion them and their journey.”

Say what?

So, an experience that until recently could best be described as Edwardian bordello meets Amazonian supermodel is now going to “Leverage our brand to create opportunities for women everywhere to define themselves on their own terms and use our platform to recognize and celebrate that individuality and diversity over and over.”

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Mailbox Monday

One of the most sacred commandments of direct marketing is this. Test, test, test, and then? Test

Because you can have a great product, a terrific offer, an experienced creative team, even an optimized control package, but every campaign is unique. What worked the week before may not work now. Or, a mailer that was ignored twice will suddenly be opened, read, and responded to. There's a little bit of mystery to what we do, And, for that reason, we try to keep an open mind when we look at the pieces we receive ourselves.

Well, we try.

Recently, we received a self-mailer from Shopify. Our first reaction was dismissive. "There's no there, there."

It's a fairly generous size, about 5.5" x 8.5". It's three panels, but one is as short as an envelope flap (and used to seal the top of the piece) so there's really only two panels for "live" messaging. The paper stock is quite nice.

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Try AI for Subject-ive Help

Whether you love them or hate them (or love/hate them), emails are a necessary fact of life for marketers these days. And as we’ve discussed in many previous blogs, emails are challenging because many of them go ignored — or even worse, the recipient hits the “unsubscribe” button.

While there’s a lot to consider when trying to take your email marketing to the next level, let’s look at the subject line today — because, well, first things first.

The subject line is the first thing your audience will see in their mailbox; it will be their first impression. Almost subconsciously, your audience will make the decision on whether or not to open your email practically instantaneously. Make sure you’re putting your best foot forward with a subject line that grabs and keeps your audience’s attention and motivates them to open your message.

It can be tricky to get just the right phrasing for a subject line, one that previews the message, without giving too much away, or being too wordy or boring. It’s a delicate balance. That’s where email subject line generators come into play.

For sheer volume, these can be particularly handy. Especially if you rely on sending emails over and over, using one of these could be the competitive advantage your company needs to get better results.

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Netflix Needs a Netfix

You may have heard about Netflix planning (threatening?) to crack down on password sharing in the past. In the last week or so, they revealed their plans to do so. The internet did not respond well.

The first piece of information to understand here is that Netflix intends each account to be for those who live in the same household and them alone. Furthermore, a household, in Netflix’s eyes, are people who live in the same geographical location as the account owner. You may be wondering how Netflix would know if someone from a different household, by their definition, is using the account. They are checking that via WiFi connections. A “Netflix Household” is a group of people who live in the same geographical location as the account owner and use the same WiFi source.

And those who don’t reside in the same geographical location and use the same WiFi as the account holder? They are supposed to sign up for their own account.

Now that we understand who is able to share and who is not able to share, let’s look at how Netflix will be enforcing this. After users have set a primary location for their accounts, any device that is not being used at the primary location will risk being blocked. The only way to keep them from being unblocked while being used off-site is to log onto the account at least once a month from the primary location.

There are quite a few problems here already. What about college students living on campus and away from their primary household? What about children with divorced parents who jump from one household to the other? What about travelling nurses who don’t stay in one location for too long? What about those who live in vans and are travelling around the country? Where do they fit in with all of this?

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Say Thank You

Nonprofit organizations are unique in many ways. Firstly (and most obviously), nonprofits work for reasons other than generating profit – hence the name, “nonprofit.” These are charitable organizations raising money to help various causes in different ways. One might be to house and feed the homeless, while another may be helping veterans get the healthcare they need, or even buying holiday gifts for low income households. Some well-known examples include the Salvation Army, the Humane Society and the Red Cross among others. These organizations are mature and financially secure, but, smaller nonprofits, ones that aren’t as well established and widely recognized, typically have a harder time maintaining a secure financial status. One thing they may need to consider is how they say thank you.

Saying thank you is always the right thing to do, in any situation, but particularly if donations of either time or money are involved. Because many nonprofits rely solely on donations, building and maintaining relationships with donors is extremely important. And what better way to start a strong relationship than by thanking your donors? It’s relatively easy and very worthwhile.

Thanking your supporters shows that you value their donation and recognize that they are giving (many times, without getting something in return). And thanking your donors makes them more likely to donate again. No really.

In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and the Harvard Business School, 66% of people said “yes” to helping a student for a second time after receiving a personal thank you. This is compared to only 32% of people saying “yes” to helping a second time without receiving a thank you. That’s more than double! Especially when you consider acquiring new donors costs more than retaining existing donors, it’s easy to see that saying thank you truly pays off.

There are many different ways to say thank you ranging from a generic auto-response “Thank you!” window, to a handwritten note, to a personalized video. And guess what? The more individualized and unique the thank you is, the more likely you’ll get a positive reaction and more donations in the future *pretends to be shocked*. Brainstorm with your creative team about how you would like to be thanked for your time or money and then create the best version of that to send to your donors. They’ll thank you for that with future donations.

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we have a client who just reduced their cost per lead by 70% when we replaced an envelope mailer with a postcard. So, as you can imagine, we're big champions of postcards right now.

Actually, we've been postcard fans for quite a while.

Before the holidays, we received what appeared to be a simple 4.75" x 6.75" postcard from a local MINI dealership. The art side showed five vehicles arranged in a sophisticated (European, maybe?) urban square. A headline below the photo reads, "It's classic for a reason." And, the familiar MINI logo sits beside the words. The mail panel includes the return and recipient addresses, a presort indicia, and where you would expect to see a message, "Additional Important Disclosures." Not much else.

The postcard, however, turned out to be a double postcard (a more sophisticated spin on a format we used to use for magazine renewals). Inside, the top panel includes three detail shots of a MINI vehicle with the message "Doing more with less since 1959." The panel below is formatted like a letter with a personalized salutation, a URL "to view our offers," and some brand messaging. The letter is from the Sales Manager of the dealership and the close includes his name, title, and contact info.

The piece is succinct and lean (in fact, you could call it a "mini mailer). A good example, perhaps, of the medium matching the message. It's attractive and easy-to-read.

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The U of YOU

What's the most powerful word in direct marketing? It's not "Free." It's not "Exclusive." It's not even the combination of words that make up "This is a limited-time offer. Act now. Agents are standing by."

It's YOU.

YOU is the most powerful word you can use in direct marketing.

Direct  marketing has changed — a lot — since we founded B Direct 20years ago (let alone since the Bs started their individual careers). We've worked through the advent of websites, the dawn of emails, the rise of social media. We've seen the industry survive and thrive through digital transformation. We've helped clients cope with postage increases, "Do not call" lists, and CAN-SPAM. But, the bottom line is that some of the basics don't change. Like the power of YOU.

It's not about us. It's not even about our clients' often wonderful products and services. It's about YOU. When we sit down to brainstorm, create concepts, write copy, or design, we need to focus on YOU, on the person we will be reaching — if we've one it right — persuading and affecting.

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Instant Gratification

Instant Gratification. We know it. We live it.

It’s well accepted that we’re living in a time where customers demand instant gratification. In fact, businesses are hungry for instant gratification as well. They want their ad campaigns to work instantaneously, to give them a result without delay.

Enter: instant gratification marketing.

The idea here is that businesses are focusing on marketing that will give consumers what they want fast — as fast as possible — to satisfy that desire for instant gratification. And the thing about instant gratification marketing? It delivers instant gratification for both the consumer and the business.

Well, for the business, it may not be an instant sale, but instantly knowing if your tactics were successful or not … that can be gratification in itself!

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Mailbox Monday

Here in New England, it's 30-something degrees out. Not the most frigid temp (and no doubt milder than we'll see in January and February and March and, maybe, April). But, to quote a controversial holiday song, "Baby, it's cold outside."

That's one reason we recently enjoyed receiving a self-mailer from Norwegian Cruise Line.

As we shiver here, diligently direct marketing, our thoughts naturally wander to vacations. And, yes, a cruise does sound nice.

This efficient but engaging mailer starts off on the art side with the promise of a bargain.


On the address side, we have a photo of a family of four strolling the deck of a ship, admiring mountain ranges. They look happy (and functional), and copy under the address area gives us three ways to share their experience; we can book online, call a toll-free number, or contact our "travel advisor." The calls to action here, again, hinting that there's an offer inside.

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Its Time For Holiday-Spirit Marketing

The holiday season is nearing, and some people have very specific ideas of when the appropriate time is to start celebrating and decorating. Let’s take Christmas for example, as it is the same day each year on December 25th.

Some people think that the Christmas season is not allowed to launch until December 1st (the Bs follow this principle; check out today’s date). Others believe it starts as soon as your Thanksgiving meal has been consumed. Still others — including most modern-day  retailers — insist that Christmas can start before Thanksgiving.

Whichever of these descriptors sound like you, it cannot be denied that the Christmas season is upon us. But marketers are different; the holiday season for marketers can start as early as October. In fact, the earlier you can start working on your holiday campaigns, the better.

As far as consumers go, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when the holiday noise and traffic goes on for weeks — or months — on end.

Here are a half dozen tips to make sure your holiday marketing campaigns pop during this season and don’t get lost amongst all the Christmas-Chaos.

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we're big fans of the USPS — as long-time champions of direct mail, how could we be otherwise?

Well, it's that time of year again. Only 34 mailing days 'till Christmas. And, if you think you're busy, just imagine what the workdays going to be like for our trusted letter carriers between now and December 25th. In just the week before Christmas, the USPS delivers 2.5 billion (that's billion with a B) pieces of first-class mail.

Ho ho ho, indeed.

So, to make the most of their busiest season (or to make things a bit more convenient for the rest of us), the  USPS has sent out a trim little self-mailer, which arrived at the agency over the weekend.

The address panel includes the familiar USPS eagle logo, a presort marketing indicia, two certifications for recycling and "paper from responsible sources," as well as a teaser: "Get holiday ready with USPS. See inside."

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Limited Edition Blog: Read Before It’s Too Late!

Did that title draw you in? Are you here now reading this post because it’s a so-called limited edition? Gotcha! You have become the perfect example of what we’re about to talk about.

(Also, by the way, this blog is not a limited edition, and can be accessed any time, anywhere, forever and ever, because — you know — the Internet. But it worked right?)

Have you heard of the phrase FOMO? FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. You might be thinking that FOMO is a relatively new concept with the rise in social media usage. People will see their friends out having a good time and be jealous they’re not having as much fun.

However, marketers know that FOMO has been around for much longer than any social media platform.

Perhaps a better definition of FOMO for marketers is Fear Of (a) Missed Opportunity. Marketers use messaging to create a sense of urgency: “Get this before we run out of stock!” or “50% off, today only!” This entices their audience to act — now — before the opportunity disappears.

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Email Offers: What’s Working Now

No matter how much direct marketing you do (or how long you’ve been doing it), it takes some effort to stay on top of trends — they simply move too fast. That’s why we frequently review and share the research of folks like Jay Schwedelson. As the president and CEO of Worldata and founder of, Jay always has interesting — and relevant — information to share.

Note: this blog is not a promotional piece for Jay and his email series; however, we do find them very helpful and so do our clients. You can learn more from his website Here’s a summary of one of his recent emails that ties in nicely to our marketing offers miniseries.

As we’ve hinted at in our previous blogs, Jay agrees that offers are uniquely and individually different. Each one should have specific expectations and goals. Jay recently reported on current performances of B2B and B2C email offers. And, how the offer is described is as important as what the offer is.

For B2B offers, the top five offers that corresponded with higher percentage increase of click-through action (compared to a generic product offer) included:

  • 2023 Outlook
  • Top # List
  • ‘Most Read’ Content
  • Checklist
  • On-Demand Video

You’ll note that offers that hint at projections for the end of the year are trending particularly well. These include forecasts for the New Year (as ranked #1), but we can also assume that offers that are linked to something along the lines of “2022, A Year in Review” should also perform well in these final two months of the year.

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Quantity of Quality: The Answer’s in the Offer

Welcome back to our mini-series on marketing offers! Last week, we talked about how the first step of creating an offer is to go through detailed planning. One very important part of that process is determining what exactly you want to accomplish.

Think about why you want people to respond. Are you building a list? Or trying to close sales?

Is more, more? Or is less, more?

If you’re striving for the former, use your offer to aim for a high volume of responses. If you feel sheer volume will not equate to high value, use the offer to qualify — and weed out some — prospects.

There is no right answer, as each strategy is different and will generate a different response rate for you. Depending on where you are in the sales cycle, as well as your confidence in your audience, one of these approaches may be more beneficial for you.

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The Best Offers Begin With Planning

B Direct is celebrating its 20th (!) year as an independent, creative marketing agency.


We like digging our hands into data. We like coming up with innovative production strategies. We like getting to know our clients — and their customers — on deep, personal levels. We like so many parts of what we do.

But, we love creative.

For us, creative is king. (Or queen, if you prefer). But, we admit it; the best creative in the world won’t move the needle without a killer offer.

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Mailbox Monday

When someone asks our opinion, we very naturally feel noticed and valued. It's human nature. Research firms use surveys to collect data on everything from shopping habits to political preferences. Marketers use surveys too — not just to collect data (although, clearly, that's important), but sometimes in lieu of a more traditional solicitation. For the recipient, a survey doesn't feel like a sales pitch, which can mean that they spend more time with it and may be more likely to respond.

We recently received a survey package from Wealth Enhancement Group. By asking us to participate in the "2022 National Study on Retirement Planning," they encouraged our participation and also made us question whether or not we were prepared for retirement. The package uses a lot of classic engagement devices, and by the end of the survey, two things happen: 1) they've collected a lot of very valuable data about us, and 2) we've thought about our needs and may have even convinced ourselves that we need their help.

The outer envelope is oversized (6" x 11") and personalized. Although there's a Minnesota return address, the mailer doesn't tip its hand quite yet. We see the official-sounding name of the survey, and some printed alerts that make it all seem important and time-sensitive: "Survey questionnaire enclosed for ..." "Survey number: WEG0122" and a faux-stamped direction: "Do Not Bend" (everything in all caps, of course). The personalized teaser explains, "We are seeking your opinions on important timely issues that could have an effect on your retirement and goals." There's a deadline to reply, and a "FREE Participation Gift" offer. A live (presort standard) stamp completes the picture.

Inside, there's a 4-page insert which serves as a personalized letter which tells us about the survey and plants some seeds about retirement  planning. A color sidebar and the P.S. showcase the offer, a 16-page booklet "7 Things Your Financial Advisor May Not Be Telling You," which adds just enough FUD and a bit of FOMO.

Inside, the survey itself is quite simple and easy-to-follow. It covers demographics, attitudes about retirement, and financial planning, and even some personal financial data. The last question serves as a low-key CTA: "Check here if you would like to l earn more about a free, no-obligation introductory meeting with a Wealth Enhancement Group advisor.

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10 Tips for Social-izing Your Marketing

We all know that social media is an invaluable tool for marketing – although, some marketers may consider it a necessary evil. Because, let’s face it, social media moves quickly and it’s a real challenge to both capture and then retain the attention of your audience.

Don’t forget, no one cares what you have to say unless it is both interesting and presented in an interesting way.

Let’s dive into Ten Tips for Social Media Marketing:

  1. Start With a Strategy – You should never post on social media without a plan. Identify goals and narrow down your audience.

  2. Be Careful, the Internet is Forever – Ok yes, there is a “delete” button. However, what is posted online can almost always be found again, even if deleted. Think twice before posting something that could reflect negatively on your brand.

  3. Play the Game – Take the time to understand the social media platforms your brand is a part of. Your audience will use each of them differently. For example, status updates are for Facebook, not Instagram or Snapchat. Users will be expecting brands to use these platforms appropriately (read: similarly to how they use them themselves). It’s wise to come up with a unique strategy for each platform.

  4. Be Consistent – So, with number 3 in mind, remember that you also need to be consistent in how you present your brand to the world. Although you can and should adapt to each platform, you need to build and nurture an overall brand personality that is consistent across all platforms.

  5. You Can Be Casual! – Make your posts conversational and make use of emojis! Just make sure you do some background research on how the general public uses the emojis you’re choosing, for instance, “🙂” does not mean “happy!” It’s typically used sarcastically for something annoying. (You can thank us later for that mini emoji lesson!)

  6. Be Authentic – Today’s internet users are skilled at separating what is “real” and what is “fake.” The goal is obviously NOT to be considered fake news. Take the time to create genuine content instead of rushing out a piece that could be perceived as fake.

  7. Social Media = Heavy Visual – Social media thrives with using pictures and videos and special visual effects. In a world of short attention spans and ease of scrolling, posts with too many words — and not enough pictures — are likely to cause your content to be glossed over.

  8. Engagement is Effective – Using your social media to create a community of followers that actually consume and engage with your content is more valuable than most realize. Social media is about connecting and networking; your brand’s social presence is no different. Which leads us to number 9 …

  9. Be Social – Once you have some followers engaging with your posts, make sure you engage back with them! Respond to comments, answer questions, and create relationships with your audience.

    And, lastly ...

  10. Don’t Forget to Analyze – Make sure you are maintaining a record of your social media marketing so you can go back and analyze what is working and what is not working. Looking into the statistics of your views, shares, and comments will only help you make better social media posts in the future.
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The Bs' Bookshelf

Author Roald Dahl once said, “If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” Some 700 years earlier, St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Beware of the person of one book.”

Well, the Bs at B Direct would hate to contradict either of them. So, our bookshelf holds several worthwhile volumes right now. Here are some recommendations ...

Using Behavioral Science in Marketing
by Nancy Harhut

Nancy's smart, entertaining book is currently topping "Best Marketing Books" lists across the industry. This step-by-step guide helps readers increase engagement, response rates, and the  ROI of marketing campaigns  by harnessing hardwired consume behavior and instinctive responses. If you've ever had the pleasure of hearing Nancy's keynotes at NEDMA, the DMA, or myriad other conferences, you'll be happy to know that her insight, humor, wit, and wisdom shine through on every page.

Twenty Jobs Twenty Lessons
by Bob Cargill

Bob shares his colorful career, and explains how one talented creative professional evolved from the "Ice Cream Truck Driver" to "Junk Mail King" to "Direct Marketer of the Year" to "Social Media Zealot" and "President of the AMA." Young professionals can take advantage of some of the lessons Bib has learned along the way. And, local marketers will no doubt recognize anonymized people, places, and organizations — which is half the fun.

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Mailbox Monday

Bigger is usually better. In fact, there's a saying in direct marketing: "If you can't make it big, make it red."

But sometimes, bigger isn't better.

Take this neat little package from nonprofit "Best Friends," for example. In a mailbox filled with standard letters, standard credit card and utility bills, and standard catalogs, anything that isn't "standard" is going to stand out.

The envelope's 4" x 6" size not only stands out, it feels somehow more personal and intimate. The teaser on the front "Did you receive your 2023 calendar? Let us know!" reinforces the feeling that these folks know us. And the stamp, rather than an indicia, completes the effect.

Inside, the main piece is folded like a greeting card with a picture of a cute dog in an autumnal setting. Open it and we find a personalized letter that talks about the calendar (the one we should have already received), how important our gift is, and — listed conveniently in at-a-glance bulleted copy — how that gift will be used: for adoption and foster programs, transport programs and shelter support programs.

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In Defense of Direct Mail

With today’s ever-increasing dependency on digital media, it’s safe to assume the days of direct mail marketing are over, right?


Direct mail is still a relevant and invaluable marketing strategy.

Ok, we know what you’re thinking, this blog post was written by B Direct Marketing Communications, of course they want me to believe that direct marketing is alive. And well — yes, that’s true — but, it actually is!

Direct mail is not an outdated marketing tactic. In fact, it is still just as effective as it was decades ago — maybe even more so because people get less postal mail now.

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Shhh … Top Secret Blog Posted Here

Did this title lure you in? It must have! Otherwise, why are you still reading this?

Highlighting the idea of secrecy as a way to entice your audience is a wonderful marketing strategy. It is a proven technique for brands to pique audience interest and capture their attention. It also heightens demand, sometimes for the product, and other times just for the knowledge and topic that is being sworn to secrecy. Because of course, you will want “to be in the know,” and more so, a member of the exclusive club of those who know, you know?

Not convinced yet?

Take a look at Coca-Cola and their secret recipes. The Coca-Cola soft drink is a beloved and popular drink, however, the recipe to make it is a trade secret that is very closely protected.

A natural effect for consumers when they are missing a piece of information is the desire to want to know more. Looking at our Coca-Cola example, lovers of the drink are curious as to what exactly is in the formula, and have theories and hypotheses. It is a good way to capture your audience’s attention and lead them to putting in more work to find out more.

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Mailbox Monday

For the past week, the weather hasn't exactly been amenable to hot tubbing. (Can anyone say, "Climate change?") BUT, that didn't stop a retailer called Mainly Tubs from reaching out with a large, colorful, and very well-executed, overall, postcard.

The art side of the 6" x 9" card has a full-bleed photo of a happy couple soaking in their state-of-the-art hot tub (complete with fountain jets and lots of other bells and whistles). At the top of the card, the sender is noted along with a tag that reads "Hot Tubs • Swim Spas • Saunas." A smaller line beneath advises us that the company is 100% employee owned. This information is a bit hard to read as it's printed over the photo in low-contrast blues and greens. A three-line headline below is reversed out to white and more legible.

"With amazing massage, worry-free water care, and industry-leading energy efficiency, you'll emerge feeling better mentally, physically and emotionally."

The message is good, believable, and compelling. However, it would be more powerful if it was reversed. No one wakes up and says, "I wish I had amazing massage and worry-free water care ..." But, many of us (the Bs included) would like to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally." It's a matter of putting benefits before features — always a good idea.

"You'll feel better mentally, physical and emotionally with amazing massage, worry-free water care and industry leading energy efficiency."

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Summertime and Promotions are Easy

At the time of writing this blog, we are in the middle of yet another summer heat wave. (Don't even get us started on climate change!)

Time to take cover in AC. Or, possibly go to the beach …

Heat waves force us to conserve energy. But that doesn’t mean business has to slow down. Here are some hot  marketing ideas to consider implementing before fall:

  • Weather Based Sales – This one is super relevant during this wave of high temps and high humidity. Some companies offer a discount for when the temperature reaches a certain point, for example, $10 off when its more than 100 degrees outside. Other companies offer sales in store when it's rainy, encouraging people to come inside to take cover.

  • Connect With Customers in Person – When the weather is nice enough to be outside, take advantage and meet current and prospective clients the old-fashioned way: in person. The summer typically sees a plethora of outdoor local events such as street fairs and festivals. (Don’t forget to promote any event you’re attending on social media to capture your digital audience as well.)

  • Make Your Own Event – If there aren’t any suitable events in your area for your business to attend, create your own. This could range from an in-store cheese tasting, to a full-on block party! The possibilities are endless.

  • Host Contests – Encourage personal engagement with your audience by hosting contests that get them involved. An example could be a photo contest on Facebook with the opportunity to win prizes such as discounts or free samples. Benefits of this idea include creating user-generated content on your social media platforms as well as driving more traffic from your online accounts.

  • Collab – Building a new partnership in the summer can help you attract more customers and develop long-term relationships with similar businesses. Win-win for both!

  • Loyalty Programs – If you haven’t already, consider creating a loyalty reward program for repeat customers. If you treat your customers well, they are more likely to return AND offer free word-of-mouth advertising.

  • Seasonal Exclusive Offers – Advertise that you will only be offering a specific service or product for the summer. This will incentivize any interested customer who was on the fence about the purchase to seal the deal.


  • Back to School – Most people fall into two categories regarding back to school. Some dread it (think school-aged children or those with long memories), while others cannot wait for it to arrive (think tired parents or overworked camp counselors). Be confident in your understanding of your specific audience to know how they will feel about the return of school and then market to them accordingly.

Make the most of the rest of the summer season by implementing one (or more) of these ideas into your marketing and promotions strategy. Just because it's hot outside doesn't mean sales have to cool.

Looking for a Rug? Your Data Knows

Do you ever feel like your phone is listening to you? Like you can be talking about buying a rug with a friend in person, and haven’t done anything on your phone to indicate your interest in purchasing a rug, when all of the sudden every ad you see is for rugs?

You’re not alone.

While some say that this feature is convenient, as it cuts down on internet searching to find products, others are concerned about just how much our technology knows about us. Brands have been collecting data on both their returning consumers and prospective future customers for decades — but now it seems more personal.

How does the targeted audience feel about that?

Well, there have been quite a few interesting surveys conducting how consumers feel about brands collecting their personal data. A Merkle report in 2021 concluded that 76% of customers are “comfortable sharing their data for personalization.” However, this same 2021 study reported that just over half of consumers are under the impression that businesses today know too much about them.

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Email Testing 101

As direct marketers, we're all about testing. Without it, really, every campaign is a shot in the dark. If it doesn't work ... bummer. But, without testing, you won't know where it went wrong: the list, the creative, the offer. And, if it works ... great. But, why? You may never know that either.

There are many elements to test in an email campaign:

  • HTML or Text
  • Segmentation
  • Body length
  • Offers
  • Headlines
  • Calls-to-action
  • Response options
  • From
  • Etc. etc. etc.

In fact, there are so many choices, analysis paralysis may set in. It's inarguably easier to do nothing.

BUT ...

If, like us, you respect the process and value of testing, there's an easy way to get started. And, to quote one nun-turned-governess-turned-bride-turned-international-singing-sensation, "Let's start at the very beginning."

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Marketing from A to Generation Z

Gen Z is made up of people ages 10-25. You may be thinking, “This young group isn’t worth marketing to.”

Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Gen Z is an influential, diverse, disruptive, and opinionated generation. Gen Z actually makes up 40% of total US consumers. Not only that, but Gen Z’s spending power is more than $140 billion!

It’s a market you do not want to exclude.

Speaking of exclusion, because Gen Z is so diverse, they are one of the most, if not the most, inclusive generation of all time and — because of this — they will not tolerate exclusion from companies. They will be quick to “cancel” you and your brand if you’re caught in the act.

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Mailbox Monday

The first objective of any direct mail package is to get noticed. As direct marketers, we can accomplish this through the use of an arresting image, bold colors, unusual shapes or textures, an enticing message, or creative personalization. If budgets allow, we can develop and produce a piece that stands out because it's bigger than anything else in the mailbox. Or, we can go the opposite direction and create a package that stands out because it's smaller than anything else.

That's exactly what the Appalachian Mountain Club did recently.

Their direct mail package is a lean, mean, but hard-working little machine. The OE has a window, blind return address, real stamp, and recycled paper logo and line. (Right away, we know they know their audience.)

Inside, there's a 2-color card printed on a natural-looking buff stock. "Be outdoors," it advises, branding Appalachian Mtn Cub with the tag "Since 1876." The card opens to a personalized note from AMC's Interim President and CEO. The note checks a number of boxes. There's a "handwritten" Johnson box (Get Discounts! Protect the Outdoors!), a P.S. that nicely summarizes the offer and highlights a campaign URL. And, although the copy is set in paragraphs (bullets or some bolding would be nice), it's scannable enough due to its brevity.

A color-coordinated buckslip with illustrated forest shapes promotes a drawing for a weekend trip to the White Mountains. It's an attractive offer that not only appeals to AMC's target market, but helps brand the organization even more.

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Reputation Matters

Well-known companies and brands are … well … well known. And while it’s nice to be known well within your industry, or within your regional location, there is another aspect that must be looked into.

What are you well known for? Is it a good thing? Or a bad thing?

That’s right. Reputation matters. Make sure your well-known company is well-known for the right reasons.

It should be pretty obvious, right? Companies with a stronger, more positive reputation perform better. They attract not only more customers and consumers, but also better shareholders and employees. A strong reputation builds loyalty and trust.

Recent research performed by Axios and The Harris Poll looked into brands with the best (and worst) reputations according to American consumers. To conduct this study, researchers first determined the 100 brands that are most recognizable to Americans via surveys among a nationally representative sample of Americans. Then, another nationally representative sample of Americans rated these 100 brands on various aspects of reputation. From these ratings, each of the 100 brands were given a final “reputation score” which ranged from 1 (critically bad) to 100 (excellent). Here are the findings:

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we've always loved postcards. And there are two very good reasons to use them today:

  • They stand out in a crowded mail- or inbox.
  • People's attention spans, which were never as long as we marketers would like, are shorter than ever.

We recently received a full-color and generous-sized (6" x 11"!) card from Square, encouraging us to use their "all-in-one POS for booking, payments, and team management."

The address side includes a small business photo of a barbershop with vintage chairs and — bonus — the company dog lounging on the floor. Teaser copy instructs us to "Turn followers into customer" and continues, "Over 70% of appointments booked on Instagram through Square Appointments are from new customers." A graphic demonstrates that the app is "Available for the front desk or on the go," with images of the app on different devices.

The message side headline reads. "Simplify booking with Square Appointments" and there are two photos of users engaging with the app. Then there's a quite a lot of features and benefit copy. A call to action: "Learn more at" is matched by logo tikes for the Apple AppStore and Google Pay.

All in all, this is a nice campaign. Except for two things:

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Go Green (Green Marketing That Is)

Green marketing is a type of marketing that promotes the environmental consciousness and sustainability of a product, brand, or company.

For example, you might highlight the recycled materials that make up your product’s packaging, or the way the company donates a portion of proceeds to charities that are helping the environment. It’s all about your ability to advertise the environmental friendliness of both the business and the products it offers.

In previous blogs – such as To Make Good, You Have to Do Good – we talk about how today’s consumers want to support brands and products doing “good.” This could be companies that are outspoken on social issues, minority owned businesses, and, you guessed it, environmentally sustainable companies. Green marketing is a great way to make your audience aware that your brand and products are environmentally friendly.

It’s no longer a hope that the companies you are interacting with are committed to corporate responsibility, it’s an expectation. And because consumers have the ability to “do their own research” (not on Facebook, Karen …), companies cannot hide their true colors. Consumers hold them accountable and will boycott if they are not supporting the right causes.

Showing a commitment to corporate responsibility, while pricey, has a big payoff. Brands are noticing that by demonstrating an interest in social, political, and environmental issues, they are attracting new customers and are increasing loyalty among their current customers. In fact, 48% of American consumers say they would be likely to change consumption habits in order to reduce environmental consequences. Furthermore, up to 90% of millennials state they are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

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Marketing’s Most Thankless Job

Let’s talk telemarketing. Telemarketing is a very easy thing to despise as the receiver. And while as a collective, the public hates receiving telemarketing calls, telemarketing remains potentially one of the most valuable strategies for your direct marketing campaign. Here’s why:

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Lower operating costs
  • Increase sales
  • Allows for immediate feedback
  • Encourages connections

And finally…

  • Provide customers with an interactive and responsive experience on a personal level

So how exactly should you go about conducting a telemarketing strategy? First you of course need to do some homework to define your audience, set goals and objectives; but when you’re ready to write up a script, here’s some of the basics for succeeding at marketing’s most thankless job:

  • Get attention
  • Describe the benefits
  • Present the offer
  • Ask for the order
  • Continue to repeat steps 2-4 as many times as the customer allows

It’s important that the prospect receiving the call feels in control. It’s all too easy for them to hang up one you. Keep the conversation flowing and keep the prospect involved. Remember, this call can be a steppingstone to building a relationship with your prospective audience; make it a positive experience.

Let’s imagine we’re building a sales script for a prospect from scratch. You’ll want to have a nice first impression with a strong, friendly opening line. Always introduce yourself and the context of the call. For example, “Hi, my name is Maddie, calling from B Direct.” From here, you can continue to make conversation by asking simple questions of your prospect ranging from “How are you today?” to small talk about the weather (if applicable to a local call).

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When You Can't Create ... Curate

As twenty-first century marketers, we know better than to underestimate the value of content. Some examples include social media, blogs, ebooks, webinars and videos. Planning and preparing this content are key to good marketing. Delivering it to your target audience is another piece of the puzzle. Your goals may be to raise brand awareness, improve trust and credibility, drive consumers to participate — and of course — increase revenue.

When used correctly and appropriately, content marketing can have sky-rocketingly positive results. An added bonus is that content marketing can actually be less expensive than traditional methods, by up to 62%. On top of that, content marketing can also generate close to three times as many leads compared to those traditional methods according to DemandMetric.

However, sometimes you don’t want to have to write up this content from scratch … what’s the solution? Take a break from being a creator and become a curator.

Curated content is content shared on social media that comes from other brands or individual people. Some examples can be links to articles, sharing a social media post, or organizing information from other places into one blogpost.

Allow us to break it down for you:

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For creative marketing that really works, it’s time for B Direct.