Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

Dynamic marketing, branding & design strategies that span the gap between business & creative.

Best of 2006

For those of you not familiar with David Armano, you should definitely check him out. He's a rising star in the blogging space and one of my few daily reads.

He's started a great thread on the biggest marketing/advertising impact in 2006. Most of it is centered on web 2.0-type things, but that's where the entire industry is moving anyway. This thread was just covered in BusinessWeek and it's still picking up steam.

You'll see my responses around comment #15 or so...

technorati tags > marketing, 2006, businessweek, david armano, impact, trends

Best ROI for marketing dollars

According to the latest DMA Power of Direct report, email marketing tops all marketing efforts from an ROI point of view. As of right now, email marketing will give you the biggest bang for your buck with a return of $57.25 for every $1.00 you spend. Compare that to $7.09 for print catalogs and $22.52 for non-email internet marketing.

Yet for most organizations, email marketing gets little funding compared to traditional advertising and print materials. Unless you're in the catalog business, those other mediums offer little in regards to measuring a return on your investment. And with markets collapsing and prices falling, businesses are looking for every dollar to show a measurable return - and a quick return at that.

In 2006, marketers will spend only $400M on email marketing. Compare that to spending $20B for print catalogs. Those #'s are radically different, but you have to dig in a little deeper to understand them. Let's compare the two.

From a cost point of view, print is a nightmare. The time is takes to layout and design a 75 page catalog is huge. It is an all consuming task for your designers to get the artwork ready for the next catalog. They spend months preparing. And once the files are ready to go to the printer, you have exorbitant printing and distribution costs. Hopefully you sleep well at night knowing that as soon as each page is printed, it's potentially out of date due to pricing or technical product changes.

From a personalization point of view, catalogs fail miserably. About the only level of personalization on a catalog is the little promo code or coupon that prints with the shipping address. Other than that, everyone gets the same book.

On the other hand, people love to keep catalogs around for a long time. Some catalogs are so powerful; people keep them out on their coffee tables to impress friends. They're easy to take with you on a trip or share with a friend. They are a great way to build a brand because you can tell more of your story. You're not locked into a small window within Microsoft Outlook.

While print catalogs have a lower ROI than emails, it is predicted to increase by 2007 while email ROI is predicted to drop.

Email and internet marketing are infinitely more measurable and customizable than print. But they are the newest kids on the block and lots of organizations still do not know how to handle them properly. Don't mistake the ease of email marketing with simplicity. It's still take a lot of work to manage lists and create offers that appeal to your target audience without being seen as a spammer. And there are technical barriers like server blocks and email filters that have to be worked through as well. With catalogs it's pretty easy, drop it in the mail and it arrives. Hopefully calls start coming into your order center. With email, you can see exactly who opened it, how long they spent reading it, which links they clicked on, and whether they forwarded it to a friend. Unfortunately spammers are making a bad name for the entire market.

So, I wouldn't stop what you're doing just yet. If you have a booming catalog business, start to think about augmenting that with a email component. And if you've dabbled with email, try to get more serious about it by taking advantage of the variable data and trackable nature of the medium. Email is a great way to communicate with your audience; you just have to respect their time and inbox.

Like all good marketing initiatives offer value first and your customers will respond.

technorati tags > email, marketing, print, advertising, ROI, internet, measure

Creativity or a slow death?

Submitted to Hugh as a mini-manifesto...

I read somewhere that the best test for creativity in business was simply to ask “are you creative?” So I tried it. And for the majority of people it seemingly proved true. The people that we all see as creative (designers, PowerPoint gurus, out of the box thinkers) said yes; and the planners, project managers, sales people said no. So I naively believed it to be true.

Watching my two year old daughter run around and play reminds me that we’re all creative. We all have boundless imaginations. We always have. Unfortunately our educational system has progressively worked that aspect our being out of our nature. No educational system on the planet puts as much emphasis on creativity as they do logic. Think about the number of math and science classes you took versus the arts and humanities. Not that logic is bad. In fact, it’s a critical element of life. I just believe that we are over-balanced on logic compared to creativity.

I believe the lack of creativity is slowly killing business. That lack is driving everything to a commodity price-driven market. It's creating an environment that puts cost cutting before customer satisfaction. Without creative thinking how will the engineering team discover the next breakthrough product? How will the marketing team develop messaging that stands above a crowded market place.

Creativity isn’t solely the realm of designers and ad agencies. It shouldn't be associated with art. It does not equal wild and crazy. It doesn’t equal foolishness. And being "creative" not a job title.

When you hear “out of the box thinking”; that’s the call to creativity. It’s your management team asking you to come up with a new approach. It’s daring to think differently. It’s not copying the competition. And after all, when you boil it down isn’t creative thinking what we’re paid to do? If everyone has the same view, the same ideas, the same approach, and the same results why are we all still here?

To succeed in business is to be creative in your role. Growth demands creativity. It will separate you from the competition. As humans we’re trained to only notice what’s different in our environment. Therefore, standing out is the best way to raise awareness.The lack of creativity across the board is not only hurting your brand, it's ultimately hurting your profitability. And it’s hurting your employees.

Creativity isn’t a special gift - we’re all born with it. It never leaves, it’s just hiding behind years of logic. I challenge you to find time to let the two year old inside of you come out and play. Your employees, customers, and shareholders will thank you.

technorati tags > creativity, gaping void, business, marketing, growth, strategies

Typical client presentation

I've been on both sides of the client/agency fence during my career. Now that I'm solely on the agency side, I really appreciate this more than ever...

How NOT to judge creative...

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