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10 Tips for Creating Powerhouse Marketing Campaigns {That Don't Go Directly in the Trash}

Whether the "trash" in your scenario is the recycling bin or the junk email folder, nobody likes spending money, time and energy on marketing efforts that don't get a return. If you've ever dealt with the frustration of radio silence from your audience, these tips can help you get your response rate back on track and quiet the disheartening weeping coming from the general vicinity of your wallet.



Too often our marketing efforts take the form of last-minute, shots-in-the-dark that stem from that nagging feeling of just needing to get something in front of people. Planning ahead and understanding what motivates and inspires your audience is key to creating effective marketing. Begin by putting yourself in your audience's shoes. Does your clientele consist mostly of tech-loving young professionals? Moms with busy schedules and not enough arms or hours in the day? Active community members who care about being involved and making a difference? Knowing who you're selling to translates into accurately assessing what's important to that audience and what types of marketing materials are most likely to catch their attention. Verbiage and visuals about the latest must-have gadgets will grab the attention of a tech-savvy young professional while a busy mom will be drawn to family-related imagery and content that communicates how to increase everyday convenience.


This may seem like a given but believe it or not, a high percentage of direct and email campaign pieces hardly get a glance before getting tossed. The culprit? Blah-execution. Find a way to stand out to your audience, whether that's through eye-catching design, content that makes people laugh or super fantastic charts and graphics that actually make numbers and stats interesting (miracles do exist!). Instead of sending a mailer simply telling people about a sale on your line of makeup products, try showing people the benefits of your product by having a side-by-side photo comparison of someone's "before and after" transformation using your makeup line (everybody loves a good makeover "wow"). Authenticity speaks, so while being unique is important in gaining mindshare with your sphere of influence, steer clear of doing anything that doesn't fit your culture or personality.


With all the noise and information-overload present in modern society, most people won't spend time on things that come off as overwhelming. Here's where thoughtful execution and design come into play. In short: make your marketing materials easily scannable to the eye. Use design tricks like contrasting or bold fonts to highlight the most important messages on your mailers and email campaigns. Full pages of un-disrupted, tiny text are the biggest hinderance to getting anyone to actually engage with your materials; to quote the fantastic Kimberly Wilkins: "Ain't nobody got time for that".


A general rule of thumb to use in marketing: if it doesn't inspire, entertain or educate your audience, don't send it. You have many opportunities to provide value to your audience, whether that's through providing information they need to make educated decisions, showing them how they can save money or improve processes, connecting them with other resources they need, selling them products or services that increase their quality of life, or offering them something that allows them more of the resource they value most: time. If you're not sure what might be valuable to your audience, refer back to the "put yourself in their shoes" exercise from item one or, even better, go out and ask some of them! Feedback is the backbone of improvement, welcome it with open arms.


Alexander Isley, the 2014 recipient of the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) medal, said it best when he stated: "Good design encourages a viewer to want to learn more". If content is the heart of the proverbial home, design is the killer curb appeal that gets you to walk in the front door, so don't underestimate the impact it can have on your audience. As marketing moves more towards the digital frontier and new generations move into positions of economic influence, visually engaging materials are more important than ever; according to a 2016 study by Adobe, 59% of consumers globally would rather engage with content that’s beautifully designed than simple.


Once you've pulled your audience in with eye-catching imagery, deliver on the promises your design made and give them great content to go along with it. Refer back to the marketing rule of thumb in item four and make sure your content is inspiring, entertaining or educational (or if you're an overachiever, you can go for all three). According to the same nifty study referenced above, 70% of global consumers agree that humor makes companies more relatable and humor was named globally as the top personal motivator for sharing content with others so don't be afraid to let your hair down a little and make people laugh.


Making sure your audience can easily identify your brand experience goes a long way in establishing mindshare. Create templates with consistent fonts, design patterns and color schemes for your direct mail and email campaigns that work to reinforce the presence of your brand with each new piece rather than constantly changing things up.


Decide what the purpose of your mailer/campaign is and then incorporate clear calls to action in each piece that help you accomplish your goal. If your goal is to get people to provide you with an email address so you can grow your database, offer them a downloadable guide/chart/statistics sheet/list of resources/(insert valuable item to your audience here) in exchange for an email address. If your goal is to get them to purchase a product, offer them a free sample redeemable at


It's impossible to know what's working and what's not working if you're not tracking your return on investment. Having an easy-to-understand excel spreadsheet that allows you to keep track of items like response rates, which calls to action are most effective, conversion rates, costs, net profits, etc goes a long way in helping you improve your campaigns - which means more money in your pocket and more hours in your day. Don't want to spend the time and brain power required to create a super studly spreadsheet on your own? We don't blame you. Try this nifty Fiverr service for custom-made spreadsheet magic that fits your tracking needs.


Those pesky two words that'll have every business owner crossing their arms, pouting and giving their best five-year-old-who's-just-been-told-to-clean-their-room impression ("I don't WANNA!"). Look, we get it, follow through can be a painful, inconvenient process, so don't make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. Plan your follow through AHEAD of time so it's not such a bear to deal with in the moment. Here are some neat little tools to help you automate your email campaign follow up process...

  • Rebump: Sends friendly, follow up messages to your email list for you, scheduled at intervals you choose and designed to look like they come directly from you. Connects to your email suite, tracks open/response rates and automatically shuts the campaign off when you receive a response.

  • Boomerang: Specifically meant for Gmail, Boomerang integrates with your Google run email suite to remind you to follow up if you don't receive a response. You can either set a reminder after "X" number of days and decide your next move once you receive the reminder or you can write your follow up email at the time of your initial email and schedule it for a day you specify. Boomerang keeps track of your responses and won't send the second email if it detects a response to the original message.

  • Got an initial response before they disappeared into the ether? Try Constant Contact or MailChimp and put them on an automated email campaign catered to their most-likely-to-respond interests and scenarios.

  • Doing a direct mail campaign and not sure how to follow up? Try a follow up letter, use email if you have it, pick up the phone or simply be patient and keep sending mailers; most successful direct mail marketers find that they need to send a touch to a new prospect four times on average before they begin to see results.


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