The b direct logo Hive

I'm So Excited!!!

Did you know that many professionals, particularly younger ones, overuse exclamation points in office emails!?!

Perhaps you yourself are part of this group …

Did you also know that of those exclamation points used in a professional setting, 73% are made by women!?!

Yes!!! A study comparing gender and exclamation point usage in computer-mediated communication conducted by Carol Waseleski found a large majority of professionally used exclamation points are placed by women!!!

Basic grammar lessons teach us that exclamation points are a good way to communicate emotion, create a tone of voice, or simply to describe someone YELLING!!! (All caps work too, as you can see.)

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My, My, My Back to Email

All right, it’s been a nice break to cover other topics, but, we’re now back to talking about what’s really important for today’s direct marketers: email.

Allow us to introduce you to a new acronym in the industry, BIMI. This stands for Brand Indicators for Message Identification.

But what exactly is it?

To put it simply, a BIMI allows brands to have a profile picture or logo for email users to see in their inbox. This profile picture or “indicator” will be viewable next to the sender’s name.  

Having a BIMI means that the brand has a verified sender logo. This allows for a boost in the brand’s visibility; the receiver quickly recognizes the brand standing out from other incoming emails. Not only that, the very act of having a BIMI is also helpful for improving trust about the brand.

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Changing the Game for College Athletes

We are nearing the end of March, and as a result, the end of March Madness.

For those who don’t follow college sports closely, March Madness refers to the annual NCAA basketball tournament for both men and women’s teams. It is a single-elimination tournament where teams attempt to win a national championship by continuing to win games three weekends in a row.

At the time of posting, both the women and the men’s teams are down to the final four. The semifinals are slated for Friday April 1st for the women and Saturday April 2nd for the men. Then finals will be held on Sunday April 3rd for the women and the men will play on Monday April 4th.

March Madness is always an exciting time for college athletes and their fans. What makes the 2021-2022 year different, however, is that it’s the first season with new NIL rules for college athletes. NIL stands for Name, Image, and Likeness. This past summer, the NCAA made a rule change that now allows students to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

This was a game-changing moment for young athletes as they now own and can earn money with their personal brand.

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Mailbox Monday

As direct mail marketers, our job one is to get noticed and get opened. There are lots of different ways to accomplish this: develop intriguing teasers, promote a special offer, serve up a solution to a problem, appeal to the heart or the head (or the heart and the head). There's another way to get a mail package noticed and opened, which is trickier.

You can design your package so it looks like it's official and, officially, coming from someone else.

We've all seen the faux FedEx packages or gotten excited because something looks like a check. And, yes, those pieces do get opened. But, the disappointment and lack of trust that's created often (often as in, almost always) undoes the progress you've made. It feels like a "bait and switch," and here's the thing to remember ...

People don't like to feel they've been tricked.

A package we recently received from Next, a small business insurance agency used a number of ploys to seem like something other than a solicitation from ... well ... a small business insurance agency.

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A Matter of Trust

Online purchases have been increasing for multiple years now, and with the pandemic, they skyrocketed. But there are numerous “scams” online to be aware of. When making a purchase, how do you determine if a company or brand is trustworthy?

Maybe you’ll look into customer reviews of the items you were thinking of buying. Or maybe you’ll check the Privacy Policy on the company’s website. Maybe you’ll go a step further and request a free company verification report from

Depending on what exactly you’re purchasing, you may want to be more careful. For instance, with a small purchase, you can take the risk more comfortably than with a larger investment. Regardless, it is safe to assume we all know that trusting who you choose to do business with is very important — which is why trust marketing is important.

Trust marketing is marketing that is intended to create confidence in a brand. It is essential because selling goods and services only happens after trust has been established. If you try to sell a product without gaining the trust of your potential customer, you likely won’t make the sale.

Here are a few various ways to build trust with your audience:

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Our work at B Direct Marketing Communications has always been done remotely and from our respective homes. Nowadays, that’s nothing out of the ordinary, especially given the pandemic’s forced stay-at-home orders and more and more companies moving to remote work or hybrid environments.

But in 2003? When B Direct first began operations? Not so typical.

B Direct has always been a virtual agency which was confusing for clients in the early years. They’d ask “But where are your offices?” Now they get it. AND we didn’t have any hiccups when the world went remote — because we were already there. Business continued as normal.

Of course there are pros and cons to working from home. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center reports that 60% of those who work from home feel less connected to their coworkers. But, 60% also find it easier to balance their work and personal lives due to teleworking.

Working from home truly is a balancing act. And, what started as a safety precaution is fast becoming permanent for many workers.

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Mailbox Monday

Traditional direct mail marketers focus on generating demand. Traditional advertisers focus on building brand. At B Direct, we've always argued that the best campaigns can do both.

We recently received a postcard that works very hard to generate demand. Generously sized (6" x 9"), full-color, on a sturdy coated stock, it takes advantage of some tried-and-true promotional techniques.

The art side includes a number of friendly, low-tech illustrations: a dog, a cat, a box bursting with goodies for that dog and cat. There's a bone-shaped pet tag that reads "Your Pet" (kudos if that's just a default and VDP personalization is used of/when they know a pet's name). A corner slice with a faux fold says, "Code on back." Cute copy reads "Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworm, oh my." And the boldest element is an offer, "30% off," that takes advantage of one of the oldest and wisest directives of direct ... "If you can't make it  big, make it red."

The mail and message side wisely uses the "hot zone" above the address area for the offer and an associated redemption code. A headline across the piece reads "PROTECTION FOR YOUR PET" in a handwritten font. The message is personalized by first name (nice!) and promises "Great News <Name>, You are now covered for all flea, tick, and heartworm protection at 30% off exclusive to you." Copy continues by mentioning free shipping, 20,000 products, and a call to action "Stock up today!" There's an 800-number and URL , which are set just like the body copy and, finally, a disclaimer footnote, again set in the handwriting font and all caps.

All-in-all, this is a respectable direct marketing postcard from ... ?

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Mailbox Monday

When beloved actor Betty White passed away just a couple of weeks before her 100th birthday, social media was flooded with memories and tributes. One Twitter user (and super Betty fan) thought it would be appropriate to honor White, who was a lifelong animal lover, by donating to a local animal shelter in her name.

Thus, the #BettyWhiteChallenge was born.

Sure enough, on January 17th, the day White would have turned 100, hundreds of thousands made donations in her name. In fact, it's estimated that nearly $13 million was raised.

The Queen B wanted to participate (the Bs are always excited by creative fundraising campaigns). And, her daughter encouraged her to donate to "Best Friends," an organization that focuses on no-kill solutions including adoption, spay and neuter programs, and advocacy.

This week, we received a handsome "Welcome" package from Best Friends.

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Love 'em or Hate 'em, QR Codes are Here to Stay

QR Codes … You know them, you love them, you hate them.

They're here to stay.

QR, or “Quick Response,” codes are easy, practical, and affordable for advertisers and business owners alike. And super simple for customers. Simply open your camera on your smartphone, hover it over a QR code, and voila! It sends you to a link containing all of the information you need. This could be for a product, an event, a form to fill out, or lately, a restaurant menu.

That’s right, it has become increasingly more common — thanks to the pandemic for jumpstarting it — for restaurants to have QR codes in lieu of a hard copy menu. In the early stages of 2020 when we knew very little about COVID, restaurants that were able to be open traded their paper menus for electronic menus. This was to cut down on surface exposure from the virus. However, don’t be surprised when restaurants continue this practice even after COVID.

There are many incentives for restaurants to keep their menus digital. For one, it eliminates the cost of having to print menus and maintain them. Another is that digital menus are much easier to update and change than a hard copy. Bitly President Raleigh Harbour notes that restaurants are now “able to adjust their menu offerings on the fly to account for elements like inflation, fluctuations in food and commodities prices, and other variables.”

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B2B, Socially

We recently discussed social media marketing and just how valuable it is to reach customers. A new Marketing Mix Survey done by SageFrog offers more insight that we thought we should share as well. SageFrog performs this study annually, with this year’s edition being its 15th anniversary.

Here are a handful of their key findings:

  1. The results this year are very similar to last year’s
    Online and digital marketing are more popular than traditional in-person events and tradeshows. This is understandable as a clear effect of the pandemic, remote work, and community quarantines.
  2. Marketing budgets are continuing to rise
    A majority of businesses are reporting allocating more resources to spend on marketing.
  3. Social media marketing spending is #3
    Social media as we have said, continues to be an extremely important part of the mix. 75% of B2B marketers use paid social media marketing. Which is why it’s no surprise that social media ranks so high for marketing spend. Those above it include website development and digital marketing as #1 and #2, respectively.
  4. Investing in social media is paying off
    While referrals are still the most reliable method for new leads, less and less professionals are having to rely on referrals as social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook offer new, more sophisticated ways to attract and engage with potential leads.

So, where are B2B marketers turning?

  • LinkedIn 85%
  • Facebook 71%
  • Twitter 61%
  • Instagram 49%
  • YouTube 45%
  • Pinterest 8%
  • TikTok 7%
  • Vimeo 7%
  • Snapchat 2%
  • Only 2% of those surveyed don’t use social media at all.

The main takeaway point from this study is that social media marketing is continuing to increase in popularity and spending — even for B2B marketers. And while more marketers are using LinkedIn due to its trustworthiness and B2B focus, Twitter is where we see the most engagement.

Social is the place to be for B2B.

B2R, Where B2C Meets B2B

Traditionally we think of marketing as either B2C (business-to-consumer) or B2B (business-to-business). And, traditionally, as direct marketers we send B2C to people at home and B2B to people at their office or other place of business.

Promotional or “premium” items have always been a favorite — and very responsive — tool for us, especially when the budget allows us to give them away for free. (We call them “freemiums.”) They help our direct marketing stand out from other, ordinary mail. And they help us buy “real estate” in B2C prospects’ homes (think refrigerator magnets) or B2B prospects’ offices (think desk toys). Personalized items — if you have confidence in your list — are particularly effective. After all, who wouldn’t hang a movie poster in their cubicle, starring … them?

BUT, since March 2020, millions of potential customers have been conducting business from home. This creates a potentially challenging scenario. How do we categorize what we are sending them?

Think of them as a new category: B2R or business-to-remote worker.

If you want to grab the attention of today’s B2B-at-home audience and stay top-of-mind, try sending a promotional item that’s perfectly suited to their new — virtual — workspace.

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Mailbox Monday

It's always interesting to see self-promotion from firms that do some or all of what we do. For example, we just received a big, bold self-mailer from 99designs, a division of Vistaprint. If brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit, the folks at 99designs are very witty. They also seem to be big on design and not so much on direct mail.

But, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

The self-mailer measures 6" x 9" folded and it's on a nice, coated stock. The fold, unfortunately, is quite crooked, but we aren't taking points off for that (although 99design's parent company is a printer, so maybe we should). The cover includes a full bleed illustration of a bright red sky, a couple of purple planets and an office complex on the surface of what we assume is Earth (?). A quote appears front and center:

"Everything is designed.
Few things are designed well."

This is attributed to Brian Reed and "This American Life and S-town," which turns out to be a podcast. (Thank you, Google.) But honestly, even if we had heard of it, the attribution is nearly impossible to read. Tiny type, reversed out, and italicized. We agree with the actual quote (any self-respecting designers would), but if you're going to assert something like this, you have to be very careful that your own design is ... well ... designed well. As marketers, and specifically direct mail marketers, we have to ensure that the design makes a piece easy to read.

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Face the Fact, You Need to Get Social

As marketers, we are well aware of the impact social media has on brands. Yet, we’re always surprised by how many old school marketers (and yes, after 20 years in business – not to mention at other businesses beforehand – the Bs are proud to be old school ourselves) don’t embrace it.

C’mon people, get social already!

Of the numerous social media platforms available to users, Facebook still stands out. And while Facebook has had a fair share of controversy in the last few years between privacy issues and spreading misinformation (specifically tied to the 2016 presidential election), the shear power of its numbers cannot be ignored by marketers. To name a few…

  • More than 2.9 billion active monthly users
  • More than 1.9 billion active daily users
  • Ranks 1st as most active social media platform

Billions of users are a lot of people. Let’s put it into perspective; the 2.9 billion active monthly users equate to roughly 37% of the entire world’s population. Marketers need to be online to reach these people with effective Facebook ads.

Here are some things to keep in mind (and, if you’re a marketer, they should sound familiar):

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Mailbox Monday

Direct mail can run the gamut from sensational (3D packages, lenticular artwork, pop-ups and inflatables) to ho-hum (form letters, plain text postcards, jury duty notices). As agency creatives, we would normally assume that direct mail coming from a local municipality would fall into that second yawn-inducing category. The same assumption would be made if we were told that a direct mail package was being sent as a public service.

Well, in the case of a self-mailer we just received — from the Town of Natick, MA, promoting addiction education, prevention, and recovery — both assumptions would be wrong.

The 12-page booklet is informative, useful, engaging, and filled with sleek design choices and graphics. Visually, it begs to be read .

The cover incudes a word wall of concerning community issues: Substance Use Disorder, Addiction, Stress, Underage Drinking, Vaping, Driving Under the Influence, and more. Inside, a Welcome panel communicates a sense of urgency, alluding to how COVID-19 affected community mental health. There are photos of program volunteers and participants, as well as logos from affiliated organizations. Natick 180 is positioned as "One community, together."

Inside, content is organized in digestible chunks and punctuated by eye-catching graphics and digital calls-to-action. Current statistics add credibility and immediacy, while tools and tips help the recipient take action in their own household — whether that's preventing their own overdose or recognizing self-destructive behavior in others. There's a directory of state, national, and local resources. While the subject matter is serious, the design is user-friendly, easy to absorb and put to use, and non-judgmental.

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The Last Word (on Lame Words)

In last week’s blog we talked about resolutions for 2022, and things we should incorporate into our marketing for the new year. This week, we are going to give you a list of things not to do in 2022, specifically a list of phrases to avoid using at all costs.

Outlawed Phrase Number 1: “At the end of the day”

As Lake Superior State University notes, this phrase was originally banished over 20 years ago, and yet, “the day still isn’t over for this misused, overused, and useless expression.” Take it out of your vocabulary.

Outlawed Phrase Number 2: “Here’s the thing”

This is a filler phrase, you don’t need to introduce the possibility of there being a thing, just say the thing!

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The Six Cs: Marketing Resolutions for 2022

We made it. Happy New Year!

We all know what that means, it’s time for making (and breaking) our New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, did you know that nearly 80% of New Year’s Resolutions don’t make it past February? CNN research found that close to eight out of ten people will abandon their resolutions within two months – and that’s just people who will admit to it!

With a fresh start to the year, it’s natural to think up some new goals to work towards. We’re here to give you a few marketing resolutions to make this year, goals that are so crucial, you’ll want to aim for them 12 full months or more.

We call them the six Cs.

Resolution #1: Connect With Customers

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If You Write It, Will They Come?

Content is one of the most important and valuable tools we have today as marketers. Content needs to be great. We advise adhering to the 3 Rs. Your content must …

Be Relevant to audience

Feel Real, honest, and authentic

And Resonate; it needs to touch the heart, the head, or better yet both.

But, you can write the best content in the world and if no one sees it, you just wasted your time.

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Mailbox Monday

It's that time of year again! Mailboxes are stuffed with Christmas cards and catalogs (alas, more of the latter than the former). And local retailers and service businesses send postcards encouraging us to do our holiday shopping with them.

This week, we received a generous-sized postcard from Elements Massage. To be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment.

Don't get us wrong. The Bs like a massage as well as the next person. In fact, a gift card for a massage (which is what the postcard is promoting) sounds like a pretty fabulous gift. The offer was attractive too: Buy One, Get One 50% Off. And, as already mentioned, the card was oversized: 5.5" x 11".

So, what's wrong?

Pretty much everything else.

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You'd Better Watch Out ... Holiday Shipping Deadlines Are Looming

You may remember our well-received December 2020 blog post, "Special Delivery and Seasonal Delays." Back by popular demand, we have an updated 2021 version of delivery time schedules for you.

With direct marketing, we always want to ensure that our mailing pieces arrive at an appropriate time for the offers and promotions to be relevant to our audience.

But on a more personal level, we definitely want our holiday presents to arrive on time. Many organizations are understaffed these days, which could cause delays. Here’s a look into deadlines to get your packages delivered before December 25th:


Dec. 15: USPS Retail Ground Service

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You'll Never Know Dear, How Much I Love You (Please Don't Take My Smartphone Away)

For many of us — actually, for more than a billion of us — our smartphones are our life line. Mobile phones keep us connected, of course. However, smartphones do so much more than just make calls and send texts. We can send and receive emails, get access to social media and networking sites, and even have options to video chat with our contacts. With smartphones’ ability to access the internet, they are basically a mini computer in your pocket!

If you think about it, consumers use their smartphones for all walks of life. (Quite literally … because there is a built in GPS app to help you get from place to place). Smartphone owners use their devices for both business and pleasure. There’s an app for just about anything you can think of, ranging from business tools, to games, to music and entertainment, to finding parking spots for your car, to banking online.

It’s pretty clear just how easy it is to be on your smartphone all day isn’t it?

Now let’s think about the effect dependence on smartphones has in a business setting.

For example, the power that social media holds is extremely strong. It’s easier than ever to reach your customers and clients on a variety of different platforms. But, this goes beyond just being able to reach your audience; social media allows businesses to form a relationship with that audience and instantly, easily interact with them in a genuine two-way conversation.

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Email Now: What's Hot, What's Not

As we head into month 22 of the pandemic (omg), many people are still working from home. This has made it difficult for B2B marketers to leverage one of their most powerful tools: direct mail. In fact, we've never relied on email quite this much.

But email comes with its own challenges: the greatest (as in the worst) of which is that it takes a fraction of a fraction of a second for your recipient to hit "trash." (At least with direct mail, they have to walk from their front door to a trash can.) You have to capture each busy and over-marketed-to person's attention in a flash.

And, subject lines can make or break you.

Fortunately, the response marketing company Worldata runs continual tests on subject lines, determining in near real-time what's hot and what's ... well ... not.

Some like it hot — these words increased open rates in the last 60 days:

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Mailbox Monday

At B Direct, we love postcards. And we've designed hundreds over the years for clients in retail, healthcare, high tech, financial services, education, and nonprofit. They're a great choice for multiple reasons. They're quick and impactful, perfectly suited to today's diminishing attention spans. They're economical in terms of paper and postage. Their real estate can be cleverly used for product photos, features and benefits, special offers and promotions. And, they give you a chance to establish a brand; we often compare the to mini billboards in your mailbox.

They also challenge creative teams to think about clever copy and engaging artwork, without falling back on extravagant budgets or whiz-bang production tricks.

Yes we love postcards ...

BUT, there are certain rules that need to be observed, whether you're developing a postcard or a multi-component 3-D package, And, one of the most important is readability. Because the truth is, no matter how brilliant your message is, if it's too difficult to read (or even just perceived to be too difficult to read) ... guess what? It won't be read. And, that's a waste no matter how much or how little you just spent.

Case in point, we just received a postcard from Ooma Office. It's a generous 6" x 9", full-color, on fairly nice stock.

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Smarketing: Disarming the Enemies Within

Famous and well recognized rivalries are everywhere. The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Ohio State and Michigan, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

You probably know the name of your organization’s biggest rival. But what about rivalries within the organization? Sales and marketing are infamous for  — shall we say — not playing nice together.

Marketing says, “Sales doesn’t follow up with the leads we provide.”

Sales says, “The leads Marketing provides are garbage.”

But, maybe marketing and sales professionals should take a lesson from the Capulets and Montagues — that rivalry doesn’t end well. Collaboration and teamwork can be more valuable to both parties.

These days, it’s more important than ever for marketing and sales to be aligned with each other. Customers expect to deal with a single, united company — not two competing departments. While each may be a separate entity that works independently, communication between the two is invaluable for the company as a whole. Historically speaking, sales and marketing are not known for having good communication with each other. However, when they come together as teammates, instead of competitors, they are both much stronger for it.

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Ghosts, Ghouls, and Frightening Marketing Fails

Halloween is nearly here, and whether or not your spooky season has you approaching things with caution, we recommend staying far away from making marketing mistakes.

Some marketing campaigns are pure genius, getting the audience to engage with the material and drive a positive action to either buy from or interact with the company. While we always strive for campaigns like these, sometimes marketers make mistakes and miss the mark completely. Such campaigns are not only misguided but cause complete catastrophe when the material pushes the envelope too far.

The results may be offensive to customers and can quite literally, bury the company alive.

Here are (unlucky) thirteen so-bad-they’re-scary marketing fails to keep you awake at night:

  1. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Commercial: This commercial showed reality star, Kendall Jenner, successfully mediate a protest with police officers and Black Lives Matter protesters – by simply offering a police officer a can of Pepsi. The outrage from this commercial was seen near and far, and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. tweeted a photo of her dad with the caption “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi.”
  2. Audi’s Chinese Wedding Commercial: Aired in China, this car commercial shows the mother of the groom checking the bride to make sure she’s acceptable for her son before giving her approval. A tagline at the end reads: “An important decision must be made carefully.” While this is true for a car, the commercial objectifies women and is also offensive to Chinese culture.
  3. Adidas’ Boston Marathon Email: Four years after the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 250, Adidas sent out an email to all customers who participated in the race. The subject line read, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” We think you’ll agree this was in historically poor taste.
  4. Levi’s “Hotness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes”: For a new Curve ID jeans marketing concept, Levi’s incorporated the slogan “Hotness comes in all shapes in sizes,” except, the only models shown for this concept were skinny. Are you sure you agree with your own slogan, Levi’s?
  5. Walmart’s “Fat Girl Costumes”: In 2014, Walmart had a shopping category on its website titled, “Fat Girl Costumes.” The costumes found here were for plus sized women and girls, but the insensitivity in the naming and categorization was understandably very hurtful.
  6. U2’s Free Album on iTunes: Also in 2014, Apple gifted a free copy of U2’s album “Songs of Innocence” to everyone with an iTunes account. However, many people were less than thankful. In a critique, the Washington Post called the incident “rock-and-roll as dystopian junk mail.” Ouch.
  7. McDonald’s #McDStories: To encourage feedback and engagement with their customers, McDonald’s created the #McDStories hashtag so that customers could share their experiences. Unfortunately, many people used the hashtag to share their poor experiences with the restaurant such as finding their food uncooked or badly prepared.
  8. Wii’s Hold Your Wee for a Wii Contest: This contest was set to award the Nintendo Wii console to the participant who could drink the most water without going to the bathroom. Sadly, consuming too much water can be dangerous. A 28-year-old contestant actually died as a result.
  9. Bloomingdales’ Date Rape Ad: The ad featured a man looking at a laughing woman with the caption “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Um, what does this have to do with a department store? And more importantly, why is a department store encouraging spiking drinks?
  10. Budweiser’s Date Rape Slogan: Here we go again. Budweiser had a slogan that went along with their #UpforWhatever campaign reading, “The perfect beer for removing the word “No” from your vocabulary for the night.” A beer company should not be admitting to taking away the ability for someone to say no! Dudes, it’s called “Consent?”
  11. Kraft’s “Send Noods” on National Noodle Day: What was meant to be a funny marketing campaign, quickly got accused of being inappropriate when people were making the connection between “noods” and nude photographs – especially considering a target audience of the brand is children.
  12. Dominos’ Karen Ad: Dominos offered all (nice) Karens a free pizza in both New Zealand and Australia in 2020 by citing that it’s a “tough time to be a Karen.” While the ad did well in Australia, it did very poorly in New Zealand where customers were upset that an overprivileged white woman (what Karen is typically associated with) was getting more free stuff handed to her.

    AND, finally ...

  13. Giant Foods’ Holiday Ad: Just last year in 2020, the supermarket chain Giant Foods, had an advertisement reading “Hosting? Plan a Super Spread” …um…definitely not the message you want to put out during a global pandemic…

From all of us at B Direct, we hope you have a safe Halloween and steer clear from these marketing nightmares!

Mailbox Monday

It's an old show business adage: "Never work with children or animals." The gist is that they'll upstage you every time.

However ... nothing works quite as hard as children and animals in fundraising direct marketing, as evidenced by a recent solicitation we received from Salem Hospital, now part of Mass General Brigham. The package is pretty simple, but packs an emotional punch. We'll explain how.

The generous 6" x 9.5" outer envelope incudes a teaser line: "What's new? (A lot, actually.)" We like the oversized proportions and the conversational teaser. It's paired with a screened back color photo of a masked caregiver holding a masked child. Although the subject matter is still timely, and the artwork does make the package stand out against other mail, the ghosted image feels dull and dated. (We created a lot of similar packages for long-term care insurance in the early 90s. Suffice it to say, we were very very young at the time.)

Inside, the package is missing a brochure, which surprised us at first. But, we soon realized that the letter was working overtime to make up for it. The personalized, full-color letter includes a compelling message from the hospital's president and a persuasive P.S. We learn that the team at Salem Hospital "still go above and beyond in providing expert medical care along with access to some of the worlds most talented specialists." We're told that "A healthy hospital is a vital part of a healthy community." And, we're assured that "Our name is new, but as you can see from Noah's story, our legacy for exceptional care goes on."

And that's where the package really shines: Noah's story.

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Data and the Give-to-Get Ratio

Consumers want to get more than they give

If you’re a regular reader on our blog, you’re aware of how often we talk about doing your homework as a marketer. We always encourage collecting more data and analyzing the data to better suit your marketing strategy and reach your ideal, target audience — in the way that they want to be reached.

After doing the initial research to find the ways our consumers want to be reached, we must also look at what we are offering our consumers at each individual point of contact.

For example, an email address is the data point consumers most readily release to marketers. 66% of consumers polled by Charney Research and Toluna don’t mind sharing their email address. Because a majority of people are willing to give companies their email, what they get from the company via contact by email, can be relatively low value. On the other hand, only 25% of consumers are comfortable giving a company their religion. Due to this, if a marketer is going to ask for that information, the reward or incentive offered, should be substantially larger than the reward or incentive offered to those who only gave their email address.

The overall takeaway point here is that as marketers, we must make sure that our consumers are getting more than they’re giving. Whether they’re giving their email address, personal information, browsing history, or demographic data, we must be giving them more than that in whatever incentive, discount code, or priority status we are offering.

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Don't Just Improve Your Marketing, Augment It

In today’s entertainment, we’re seeing more and more examples of virtual reality. Virtual reality is how we describe the environment presented to us in the unique way that makes us feel as if we are actually there. This is done by stimulating our senses in a particular way so that we, as the audience, believe the artificial environment is a real environment.

A few examples are virtual reality tours of museums and art galleries and virtual theme parks. The British Museum, for instance, offers virtual visits to their exhibitions from anywhere around the world. Using a VR headset, people are able to engage with the material on display from the comfort of their living room. While this was first launched in 2017, it’s easy to imagine its increased value over the last year and a half due to quarantines caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similar to virtual reality, augmented reality is an interactive experience featuring an enhanced version of the physical environment through the use of technology. Computers (including tablets and smart phones) are able to highlight and enhance objects within the environment by using digital effects to target sight and hearing senses.

As entertainment, augmented reality is becoming more and more trendy. For example, there are different lenses you can take Snapchat pictures with, a popular one being dog ears placed on the user’s head and a tongue that comes out when they open their mouth. Another example is the hit 2016 mobile game Pokemon Go. In this game, players chase after Pokemon characters that they find by visiting physical locations; Of course, they can only collect them virtually.

And, as you may have guessed, augmented reality is also a growing trend for marketing.

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Mailbox Monday

Offering a financial incentive (that would be "bribing" to us laypeople) to switch banks is nothing new. In fact, we've worked on dozens of packages for Bank of America/Merrill Lynch that followed exactly that strategy.

So, when we received this simple three-panel self-mailer recently, we recognized the campaign's objective.

The mail side includes the logo and return address of the sender, in this case Citizens Bank. There's a teaser which reads "Exclusively for you — get up to $700 on us" and the warning that "Offer ends 1/18/21."

So far, so good.

The art side or cover of the piece uses a handwriting font in black and green to proclaim, "YOU'RE MADE READY FOR $700." eye-catching? Yes. Confusing? Also, yes. What does "made ready" mean? We looked it up in case it was some millennial or gen Z slang that we, being young boomers (but boomers nonetheless) didn't get. The closest thing we could find was the past tense of "make ready" and a Biblical reference: "The steps of a good man are made ready by the LORD."

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Mailbox Monday

Nothing is more disappointing to a marketer than a missed opportunity.

And nothing is more disappointing to the Bs at B Direct than the seeds of a concept that aren't brought to full fruition.

So, we were disappointed to recently receive an otherwise solid self-mailer from ezCaterer, a B2B company that promotes itself as the "#1 site for business catering. There's good news and bad news. We'll start with the good.

The two-panel piece folds to 6x9, a nice generous size, and its full-color photography and relatively substantial stock help it stand out from other business mail. The address panel (where most people look first because ... well, we all love seeing our name in print) works hard. There's an attractive offer — a $50 Amazon Gift Card — and three at-a-glance bullet point benefits, presented with icons: 80,000+ restaurants, 187,000 "COVID-smart boxed lunches, options for any occasion. There's also an appealing photo which breaks up all the type, although we would suggest using that "hot spot" above the recipient's name and address for the offer or a bold call-to-action.

Inside, there's well-organized information and a nice use of white space. There's a glowing testimonial from California's "Spencer T." There's a list of familiar restaurants, presented with logos and paid off with a call-to-action. Then, on the righthand panel, there are screen shots of the ezCater platform on both a mobile and a tablet, alongside a list of features and benefits, again with contemporary, eye-catching icons.

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Finding the Perfect Thing (or, At Least, Something) to Say

A poet (especially one who is independently wealthy) can wait until the muse strikes or they find the perfect word. But, marketing waits for no one. Marketing people have to produce, whether they’ve been mused or not. Blogs must be written, social must be posted, ads must run.

So what do you do if you experience writer’s block?

Marketers, here we have a baker’s dozen of ways to get over it (and get on with it).

  1. Seek Inspiration – Take yourself out of your writing habitat to distance yourself from the material. Perhaps you can find something intriguing, whether that be an item, a phrase, or a feeling, to light the spark.
  2. Do Some Research – Researching can be a helpful tool to get the writing process started. When you know more about a subject or topic, you’ll have more material to work with.
  3. Eliminate Distractions – Finding the focus you need to write will be easier without having distractions surrounding you.
  4. Take It Easy – Cut yourself some slack on your first draft. In order to have the perfect words, you need … words. You can always go back later on to edit and revise.
  5. Make a Word Map – Think about this as an outline, or a starting phase. Coming up with individual words or ideas that you want to have in your content can be a helpful planning tool.
  6. Take a Shower – You know how sometimes you make life decisions or have brilliant ideas in the shower? Maybe you can use this to your advantage and find what you’re looking for!
  7. Reread Something You Already Wrote – Remind yourself that you’ve gotten through writer’s block before, and you can do it again. Reading your own voice might initiate new thoughts and words for you to write out.
  8. Changing Your Scenery – A change in your physical location might be enough to be able to push through the block. If not, you could also try…
  9. Changing Your Writing Tool – Maybe writing on a keyboard isn’t working for you today, but you could be able to get words out by writing on with a pen and paper. Worth a try.
  10. Talk To Someone – Talking through your writing block and what you’re trying to get out could open up the door to actually writing. It’s helpful to bounce ideas off a friend, coworker or family member. They might be able to help guide you back to the document.
  11. Write About Something Else – This is a good way to get yourself started and find that writing rhythm, which may make it easier to write the actual piece you need.
  12. Take a Break from Writing – Try allowing yourself to take a break and step away from your computer. Maybe a brisk walk around the block will help wake you up and get the creative juices flowing! But…
  13. Don’t Avoid Writing – For some, the process of writing out sentences on a keyboard can help get the ball rolling. You can always go back later to edit your piece and delete the parts where you were finding your rhythm.

The takeaway here: great writing has to start somewhere, so just start. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first try. That’s what revisions are for.

Email Subject Lines: Using FOMO to Your Advantage

FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out.

The term is usually used to describe people's response to social media posts. As in, "OMG, look how much fun they're all having ... and I'm missing out!" It's the bane of the middle schooler's existence and strikes a chord with us grownups whenever we see someone post about their latest promotion, prize, or publishing deal.

FOMO is no fun. But, FOMO can be your friend. When you use it to your advantage.

Whether we knew the acronym or not, direct marketers have leveraged FOMO for years. Think about the most familiar (and, let's face it, hokiest) DRTV offers, and they reek of FOMO ...

"Act now!"

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In the Aftermath of Ida

By now, we’ve all seen the pictures or videos documenting the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, ranging from roofs being blown off buildings in Louisiana, to flooded New York City subway stations, to tornadoes in New Jersey; the storm was devastating for thousands of citizens from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Damages range from power outages, to damaged property, to lost homes and lost lives. Over a million people in Louisiana lost power, and as of today, nine days after the fact, 430,000 people are still without power. Entergy Louisiana even stated that it could be upwards of three weeks before areas hit hardest by Ida will have their power restored. We don’t yet know the number of homes lost, but we expect it to be a high number as thousands of residents were displaced by the storm. The hurricane killed at least 13 people in Louisiana and killed at least 50 more in other states as it travelled further north bringing tornadoes and historic flooding.

The effects of this storm are extremely costly, estimated “well into the tens of billions,” according to Steve Bowen, a meteorologist at reinsurer AON. But the Green New Deal was too expensive to pursue right? (Looking at you, United States Senate).

How can you help the relief efforts? How can your business help the relief efforts?

Here are some funds to consider donating to:

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Mailbox Monday

William Schwenck Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame) wrote, "The punishment fits the crime." In marketing, we say "The medium fits the message." So, what do you do if you're designing a package to sell a credit card with a $695 annual fee? You pull out all the stops!

And, that's just what the creative team did for the direct mail package we received over the weekend.

To start, the package is a liberal 5.5" x 9.5". A little oversized, but sleek. "You're pe-approved" reads a teaser on the address side, along with the familiar figure of a Roman centurion in silver ink. The back of the package has an elegant die-cut flap with several promotional messages. "Get back to life with the new platinum," it reads, leveraging everyone's desire to end pandemic era isolation. We're offered "150,000 Membership Rewards Points" and "10X points at restaurants." There's subtle American Express branding: their logo and updated theme "Don't live life without it." And one other very strange message: "With access to our Centurion Lounges, you'll be able to enjoy the American Express Signature Scent. Open here to get a sneak peek!"

How you "peek" a scent is a bit puzzling. But, we were certainly intrigued enough to open.

Inside, the piece, which turned out to be an elaborate self-mailing folder, offers a QR code, an image of a platinum card, an aspirational photo of two men poolside, and the aforementioned "signature scent." Using "scratch and sniff" printing, the piece did indeed encourage that extra bit of interactivity. However, when we "gently rubbed" the prescribed area, all we smelled was ... paper.

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TikTok Time

If you’re under the age of 30, feel free to skip the following two paragraphs:

For those who don’t know the crazy popular social media app, TikTok, it is a video-sharing platform. Users are able to create their own video, film on top of pre-existing sounds, add special effects, “duet” another user’s video, comment on videos, and share them across both the app and other social media platforms.

The app champions both creativity and collaboration and resonates particularly well with younger generations. Those who use the app can find themselves spending long periods of time engaging with content as typical users spend roughly 52 minutes a day on the app. And with an estimated 680 million monthly users, TikTok has been expanding into one of the fastest growing social media apps in its four-year history. The potential for reaching millions by advertising on TikTok is something to consider. Just make sure you market wisely.

We’ve discussed in the past how important it is to engage with your audience; TikTok is a great way to stay connected with your customers and attract new ones to your brand. Brand presence on the app can be powerful and with companies being able to comment and interact with user’s videos, the possibilities for marketing on TikTok are just about limitless.

Take Chipotle for example. About a week ahead of National Avocado Day, Mexican food chain, Chipotle, created the #GuacDance challenge. The company encouraged their customers to film themselves dancing to the popular “Guacamole Song” by Dr. Jean. There were over 250,000 submissions.

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Be Your Audience (Eat the Bison)

How well do you know your customer?

In practically all of our blog posts, we always encourage doing research to analyze your audience to get to know them better. Something we don’t discuss as often however, is putting yourself into your audience’s shoes.

Take actors for example; those who play famous parts in movies, TV shows, and theatre productions don’t stop at studying their roles. There are quite a few actors, such as Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who actually become their character.

And by this we’re referring to “method acting.” Method acting actors fully embrace their character, both on and off camera. Some actors put themselves through the ringer to live as their character. For example, Jamie Foxx, was playing Ray Charles, a blind musician, in Ray, when he glued his eyes shut for up to 14 hours a day. This was so that he could better understand being blind and therefore be able to convey it more accurately.

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his first Academy Award for his role in The Revenant, where he broke his own vegetarian diet to eat raw bison, sleep in animal carcasses and expose himself to frigid temperatures. (Um, yuck!)

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Mailbox Monday

Would you rather receive a greeting card or a direct mail solicitation?

We thought so.

Whether it's from years of Hallmark's "When you want to send the very best" advertising or it's simply a human nature desire to be loved and cherished, we all open envelopes that look like they could contain a birthday, holiday, thank you, or "just because" card. Even if — like the sample above that we recently received — the charade is spoiled from the get-go with a business return address and, even worse, a pre-printed indicia.

Nevertheless, this package, from Oriental Trading Company's "Department of Fun" did intrigue us and achieved mission number one for any direct mail piece.

It was opened.

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“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” – Tom Fishburne

Did you know that the average American sees thousands of ads each day?

In 2017, Forbes reported that digital marketing experts estimated that most Americans are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. Now four years later, and with an even heavier reliance on digital media, this number may be significantly higher.

With that in mind, today’s marketers have to be great curators. Consumers are inundated with content. Only the most relevant will shine through and have a meaningful impact.

Craig Davis says it best, “we need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Inspired by Davis’s words? Well you’re in luck as we’ve curated a collection of similar quotes for you…

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You're (Virtually) Invited

More and more people have gotten their COVID-19 vaccination. (Thank heavens!) However, there is still a high demand for online events. As you know, the pandemic halted in-person conferences, meetings, events, and rallies.

Now, with a growing vaccinated population, we are starting to see a return to in-person events, but some companies are still making use of the virtual route — perhaps to save time, money, or resources. Whatever the reason may be, here is a list of ways to make more people interested in attending your event.

#1: Do Your Research First

Take the time to survey your potential attendee base and find out what type of virtual events are of interest to them. Understanding your target audience will also help you better promote your event to them.

#2: Do Your Research After

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Ghostwriting for Robots

With rapid technological advancements, robots are becoming more and more mainstream. And while most robots are too expensive for the average consumer, the average consumer actually interacts with robots much more often than they realize. For better or worse, the future will see us relying on robots and artificial intelligence (AI) more and more.

Some marketers predict that robots will write ad copy in the future … thankfully, we’re not there yet.

However, you may find yourself writing copy for robots — think, telemarketing robocalls and website chatbots. Customers would much rather chat with a person — or, at least something that sounds like a person. In fact, maintaining a friendly and conversational tone may even lead to the customer forgetting they’re chatting with a robot.

Here are some tips for making those AI beings sound more like human beings:

  • Concentrate on the conversation flow
  • Choose natural and easy language
  • Create fun and customized scripts
  • Consider using emojis!
  • Communicate with convenient and concise answers

When ghostwriting for robots, think about how you would want Alexa, Siri, Bixby, or Google Assistant to answer you, then write scripts that answer your audience the same way.

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Guess What? Your Email Audience Doesn't Care

You know that your product or solution is the best thing since sliced bread.

But do your prospects and customers know?

More importantly … do they care?

When you send marketing emails, the delete button is your worst enemy (followed closely by the unsubscribe button – which is actually even deadlier but at least the recipient opened your email to get to it). It’s critically important to capture your reader’s attention immediately and then retain it until they’ve read and absorbed your message, and — in a perfect world — taken action.

Let’s look into where consumers are when your email finds its way to them.

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B2B Marketers: Why a Wonderful Website is Warranted

Today’s consumers are heavily reliant on the internet for their purchasing process and decisions. (In fact, they’ve never been more so, thank you global pandemic.) Their engagement starts from the very beginning when it’s time to make a purchase. Buyers will explore various websites looking for reviews and ratings of products that are of interest.

Making sure that you have an online presence is extremely important, but just as important, is to make sure it’s a high quality online presence.

Despite the fact that it’s 2021, many B2B businesses still don’t have a high quality online presence. This makes it challenging for buyers to find the information they’re looking for before making a purchasing decision.

Why is it so important? That’s easy. Today’s buyers are making informed decisions. By ensuring your B2B website offers them the answers and information they are looking for — in a format, design and user experience that attracts and retains their attention — prior to making a purchase, you are more likely to get business from them.

If your b2B website is already up and running — and fabulous — congratulations.

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Email: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Email marketing is going strong, and for good reason: it’s a cheap and easy way to reach a lot of people. But, while the value — and ubiquity — of email cannot be overstated, consumers and customers have become overwhelmed by the excessive offers they receive in their inbox.

A study by Campaigner a few years ago, revealed that 49% of people believe they receive too many marketing emails. While this study is a few years old, it is safe to assume that the 49% of consumers is still an accurate representation of consumer thoughts, in fact, it is also probably safe to assume that that percentage has actually increased over the years. Because the amount of email certainly has.

A recent survey done by Zipwhip, found that just over half of the participants (51%) are less excited to receive emails than they used to be. The thrill of receiving offers digitally is long gone. In fact, most consumers likely feel overstimulated and bombarded by virtual marketing. This is especially true given the heavy reliance of all things virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research has also found that people rarely, if ever, check their junk email folders. 43% of participants never check their junk folder. Only 22% of participants often check it. This creates additional problems for email marketers. They have to ensure that their emails are ending up in the unread inbox first, but then also have to make them interesting and relevant to actually get them opened and read.

The overall conclusion of the Zipwhip study is summed up by CEO John Lauer, “there is a time for email but it’s not the catch-all communication medium it used to be.”

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A Matter of Trust

Preferences for shopping experiences vary from person to person. Some prefer in-person shopping to physically interact with the goods they are purchasing before placing them in their shopping cart.

Others enjoy browsing the inventory from the comfort of their living room and virtually placing each chosen item in a digital shopping cart.

Regardless of your personal preferences, we can all agree that the lockdowns of 2020 severely limited the in-person shopping options. With online shopping as being a last resort for some, let’s look into why this might be.

It’s common for many people to be hesitant to buy online due to the fear of their information being compromised. The concern over whether a website is a trustworthy shopping outlet to input credit card information is very real. Consumers need to feel they can trust a website with their personal data and information in order to feel at ease shopping there.

It’s also natural for people to distrust online shopping retailors because of privacy concerns. That’s why it’s the individual business’s responsibility to earn their consumers’ trust.

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Mailbox Monday

How does a big brand win back a disgruntled customer?

That's easy: by listening, empathizing, appreciating, problem-solving, demonstrating value.

The thing is ... in real life (or at least in real marketing), easy isn't always easy. Many brands are too busy to do all of that. Or they have their sights set on acquiring new customers and making new sales rather than shoring up any fragile relationships with current customers. Or they've simply become so big, so corporate, so automated, that the individual customer slips through the cracks.

We recently came across a very effective piece of very, very personalized customer care marketing.

Our agency content coordinator is a fan of Dial Moisturizing Body Wash, and has been for years. The problem is that the specific products she loves have been discontinued. Twice.

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Be Proud, Not Performative

Today is June 1st and you may start noticing rainbow flags flying throughout your city or town. This is to mark the start of Pride Month. In fact, you may see a variety of different flags during this time. (Refresh yourself on what each flag represents here.)

Supporting the LGBTQIA+ community is always the right thing to do, and during June, we celebrate their lives, their achievements, and their impact to society.

But how we celebrate as marketers hasn't always been an easy thing to figure out.

In 1994, the furniture company, IKEA, released a dining room TV ad. This ad featured a gay couple talking about purchasing a dining room table and chairs from IKEA. More importantly, this ad featured the first openly gay couple in a commercial. You can view this commercial here. The commercial sparked controversy as both detractors and supporters had strong reactions.

Companies that were being “progressive” in the 90s with their advertising, were often purposefully vague. For example, a 1997 Volkswagen ad featured two young men, but the relationship between them was up for interpretation. They weren’t explicitly boyfriends, but they also weren’t explicitly just friends. This created a cushion to protect Volkswagen from criticism.

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Mailbox Monday

If every marketer could send out 3D packages, response rates would go through the roof. Unfortunately, so would costs. Boxes, tubes, padded "jiffy bags" do get attention, but the postage alone is beyond the budget of many mailers.

So, what can you do if you want big impact with a small price tag?

You make a flat mail experience as special, engaging, tactile, and interactive as you can.

That's exactly what local business A&A Services did with their recent self-mailer. A fairly ordinary three panel piece becomes out-of-the-ordinary with the addition of a die-cut.

The address panel works hard from the get-go. A picture of the two business owners is coupled with a call-to-action in their voice: "Join our rowing list of satisfied customers... and become part of the family. We look forward to helping you on your next Roofing — Siding — Window — Door Project!" In the "hot area" above the address and indicia, there's an offer (Free Estimate), phone number and URL, and a compelling "before and after" example, complete with a three-line caption.

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Don't Just Recycle, Upcycle

In our last blog post, we talked about how some direct marketers are practicing greener mailing methods. As a recap, some marketers are using recycled paper, or water-based, eco-friendly inks. There are other methods too, such as encouraging recipients to recycle the mailings when they are done with them. Even though 94% of Americans claim they support recycling, 75% of U.S. waste could have (should have) been recycled.

Today, we’d like to look into an even more personal approach to recycling.

We’re talking masks.

With the CDC relaxing mask guidelines, we are left with the question of what do we do with our masks?

If you’re anything like us, you probably have a dozen-or-so cute masks that you purchased. It seems silly to throw them out, but what other use could they have?

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Greener Pastures for Your Direct Mail

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Making responsible, environmentally conscious choices is always the right thing to do. This is important for us on a personal level as well as a professional level. How can direct marketers make responsible decisions when direct mail campaigns in themselves are not sustainable? Despite everyone's best intentions, the postcards and letters and flyers that come through the mail can easily end up in the trash — after all, they’re invariably (and unaffectionately) called “junk mail.”

However, there are some different approaches direct marketers are using to make their tactics greener.

A new group called the Green Marketing Coalition is striving to make “an inherently unsustainable practice at least a little bit greener” (New York Times). This group is made up of both direct marketing companies and a select few of their clients. Some members of the group include Microsoft, Washington Mutual, and OptimaHealth. The various members are all in agreement that the direct mail business is in need of some guidelines to make choices that benefit the environment.

A few examples of guidelines the coalition has come up with so far include using chlorine-free recycled paper and proofreading via digital files instead of hard copies. Guidelines also strongly recommend improving upon waste disposal standards. One way to do this is to conduct some research and choose a vendor that is committed to recycling.

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Email Copy Options (and Opt-Ins)

In our last blog post, we talked about optimum copy length for a direct marketing campaign. Today, we'll look at the same question with regard to email copy.

The overall recommendation is the same: if the length is effective, then that is the length to use.

Emails are a challenge to begin with. Readers have the ability to quickly delete messages without even opening them. And of course, the dreaded “unsubscribe” button is easily accessible to allow your readers to opt-out from hearing from you ever again.

So what length of copy works best for an email?

While shorter email copy is widely considered to perform better than longer copy, the real answer lies in your data. Get to know your audience really well and then test what length of email they respond to best.

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Copy: The Long and Short of It

We can all agree that marketing campaigns are meant to get a response out of a consumer. This could be an emotional response, a financial response, or even a physical response. We take the time to look at data to find the perfectly targeted audience to send our copy to. However, without good writing, even the most fine-tuned audience might not understand the narrative of your offer, or they might not even be interested enough to finish reading the piece you wrote just for them.       

One of the biggest challenges about writing is determining how long a piece should be. This challenge is even more of a concern when writing marketing copy. Grabbing the audience’s attention is one thing, but maintaining it is a whole different ball game. Marketers are tasked with creating content that remains interesting throughout the piece to keep readers interested.

This prompts the question, “How long should the copy be?”

And the answer? “As long as it needs to be to sell your product.”

The fact is, there really is no right or wrong answer for how long your marketing copy should be. It won’t be too long or too short, it will only be effective or ineffective. If the length is effective, then that is the length to use. Consultant Boyd Butler shares that, “Copy should be long enough to emotionally engage the prospect and give them enough rational reasons to back their emotional decision to purchase.”

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