What you can learn from my ruined pants

Laundry Symbols
How many of these clothing care labels do you understand? I can guess the bottom right — hand wash, but others are Greek to me. Every time I do my laundry I debate whether it’s worth flipping through the 4pt type on the clothing tags, to correctly wash an item. Nah, no time, too much work. So I usually test my luck and hope I guess right. Well … that’s how I ruined my favorite pants!

This brings me to a critical question for all of us: Are we losing many prospects because we make them work too hard to get our message?

Whether it’s a logo, direct mail, an email, or a website, the primary goal of good design is the same: clarity, for quick communication. That’s why, when I start a project, I always aim for a strong statement of my client’s message with the least amount of content and design elements. My mantra for today’s “instant information” world: Less is More.

So now, let’s look at those laundry symbols again. They’re simple. They’re clean (pun intended). But some fail at instant interpretation … leading me to my next question: How can we make sure our creatives are easily – and quickly – understood?

My answer: Clarity Testing. Basically, it’s asking people who are unfamiliar with the project to do a test run of your creative. This way, you can step out of your bubble and get an unbiased preview of how those in your target audience might respond to your team’s hard work. Benefit to you: You can tweak where needed now and possibly raise your ROI later.

Consider doing a Clarity Test on:

LOGOS: When you present your design and tagline, take note: Can people understand in seconds (yes, seconds) what your company’s mission is? If not, pow-wow with your designer – pronto!

DIRECT MAIL / EMAILS: To up your response rate, give all your components a reality check: See how people respond to various elements. For example:  calls-to-action. Do a few versions of the reply form, and test which gets the most attention.

Consider doing a Usability Test on:

WEBSITES: Usability Testing is a twin of Clarity Testing. The web development team observes people participating in a test drive of your website to answer questions like: Where might users get lost or confused? What information is actually being read? What engages enough for users to click through?

Losing promotion dollars (or your favorite pants) isn’t funny. Want some free guidance in sorting out what can work for you from someone with proven know-how?  I’m offering a complimentary 30-minute review of your future creative, no strings attached. Contact me here. Happy laundering!

The laundry icons clockwise, starting at the top left: tumble dry low/cool; only non-chlorine bleach; drip dry; hand wash; iron medium temperature. To learn more symbols visit this webpage

Websites: Direct Mail’s First Cousin

Websites and Direct Mail are Related

When you were growing up, did you love spending time with an older relative? For me, it was Norma, my mother’s first cousin, who took me to the museums and theater. Her perspective and interest had an influence on me.

In life, the younger generation is shown the way by the older generation, but they make things their own. This also applies to marketing. So now, let’s look at two other first cousins, Direct Mail and Websites. The younger cousin, Websites, has followed in the footsteps of Direct Mail, but it’s reworking Direct Mail tactics for the digital age.

First, let’s see how they are related. Direct Mail is a marketing channel where you communicate one-on-one with your target audience to generate measurable results. This is done by mailing a piece with a message/offer directed towards the recipient. Then you track the response by using offer codes, phone numbers, and so on. Websites do the same thing. You are directing your message to the site’s visitor, and you can track people’s visits with Google Analytics or other software.

Here are just a few examples of how Websites have taken Direct Mail tactics and made them work for digital:

TIMING: Direct Marketers know that if you mail when coinciding with things like events, holidays, and seasons, the better your response rate. For websites, you also need to time it right – such as when to have a pop-up box appear.

BENEFITS: For both cousins, this is crucial. People want to know what’s in it for them. In Direct Mail, long benefit copy often works, but when it comes to Websites, shorter copy with SEO keywords is the way to go.

OFFER/CALL-TO-ACTION: The best way to acquire new customers is to offer something in return for their response. For both cousins, it can be a special savings offer, or a free gift. An informational, downloadable pdf is a good option for Websites.

EASE OF RESPONSE: Whether it’s Direct Mail or Websites, once someone may have interest in your product, you need to keep the momentum going and make it as easy as possible to respond. In Direct Mail, make sure the url you choose for replying online is easy to type into a web browser. And it’s best to use Business Reply Mail, because you don’t want someone to be looking for a stamp. On a website, make sure you provide many opportunities for the visitor to click through so they can reach out to you.

Yes, Direct Mail and Websites have special family ties. So if you are developing a website or landing page, look to Direct Mail for insight. Or create a stronger marketing campaign by combining the two! These cousins work very well together.