Category Archives: Martino Flynn

Cost-Effective Direct Mail Campaigns

With digital marketing on many companies’ to-do lists, “older” tactics such as direct mail are often overlooked. However, when done correctly, direct mail can still be a cost-effective way to reach both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) audiences. Planning a direct mail campaign can be daunting, but here at Martino Flynn, we are experts in this tactic and can help you with all aspects—from strategy to reporting—of your direct mail campaign.

When starting a direct mail campaign, it is important to remember that cost effective does not necessarily mean “least expensive.” Inexpensive direct mail campaigns can be accomplished, but sometimes your audience and/or product warrants a more robust mailer. For example, when mailing an important press release to industry CEOs, you may want to invest more for a thicker paper stock or use a more expensive format that grabs attention. On the opposite end, if you have an easy-to-understand, consumer product, an inexpensive postcard with a coupon attached to it may be your best option.

The first step to determining your campaign budget should be to create a waterfall, also called a pro forma. The waterfall should take into account your estimated response rate and allowable costs per response and/or sale. Using the above example, if you are targeting CEOs and signing one new contract will bring in a large chunk of revenue for you, your allowable may be much higher than a company that profits $20 on each product that it sells. Keeping in mind the potential lifetime revenue, not just the first sale for both B2B and B2C customers, is important as some campaigns may take time and multiple sales per customer to pay for themselves, while others may pay for themselves almost immediately.

Once your direct mail campaign budget has been determined, there are many different costs to consider, including paper, printing, postage, design, photography, mail list purchasing and cleansing fees, among others. As mentioned, your audience and/or product can help to determine which of these things you should spend the majority of your budget on and where you can save. Keep in mind that spending more does not necessarily equate to a better response rate.

Another factor that can affect your direct mail campaign’s cost is the quantity of your mailing. Typically, the smaller your mail quantity, the more expensive it is per piece for design and printing. Postage costs may also decrease per piece for larger quantity mailings or mailings that target a small geographic area.

Like many other marketing tactics, most of the people who receive your mailer will not respond. Multiple mailings may be needed and testing different messages, formats, and calls to action is always a good idea.

Martino Flynn can help you navigate the often complicated direct mail campaign process. For more information on developing a cost-effective direct mail campaign, please contact Heather Riexinger at hriexinger@martinoflynn.com.

What Can We Learn From The United Airlines Fallout?

When the video leaked of airline security officers forcibly dragging a passenger off an overbooked plane against his will, it was clear that United Airlines’ crisis communications plan should have kicked into high gear. With one of the best crisis communications teams and a business-savvy CEO like Oscar Munoz—who also happened to be named PRWeek’s Communicator of the Year in 2017—you would have expected the airline to handle the debacle of Flight 3411 with ease. As one of the top international airlines, United has survived numerous PR blunders in the past, including the most recent #LeggingsGate.

Unfortunately, for this latest disaster, that was not the case.

PR practitioners would argue that Munoz should have addressed the crisis head on, owning what happened on his airline and publicly apologizing to both the victim, Dr. David Dao, and the fellow Flight 3411 passengers. However, United stumbled. Well, fell flat on its face, really.

Mistake #1: United released a mediocre apology on social media where Munoz apologized for having to “re-accommodate” customers. The lack of empathy to the flight’s passengers made the CEO appear tone deaf during a looming crisis and generated thousands of negative comments across Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Facebook alone brought in more than 140,000 comments.

Mistake #2: Rather than notifying employees that an investigation was underway, Munoz issued a rather defensive employee letter calling Dao “disruptive and belligerent” and praised the officers for following procedure. No brand wants to admit guilt or wrongdoings, but at times, it’s necessary in order to survive a crisis. It’s also vital to remember that even internal communications can go public (or worse, viral).

Mistake #3: Munoz made two additional statements, each one seemingly less genuine than the last due to the “too little, too late” notion. The second social media apology that called the event “truly horrific” brought in some favorable likes, but still opened the discussion for negative reactions. The third apology, made directly by the CEO in an exclusive ABC News interview, was a step in the right direction in terms of humanizing the brand and accepting responsibility, but made it clear that the brand was really struggling.

Despite the fallout from these missteps, there are some key learnings from what United did right. Yes, hang with me, here.

  • United responded immediately after the incident hit social media and while the communication verbiage wasn’t successful, it proves that social media almost always comes first. The videos were released at 7:30 p.m. and the airline responded to Twitter complaints as early as 7:37 p.m. with a formal statement going viral later that evening. Prioritizing social media and addressing customer concerns in real time are both practices that all brands should follow.
  • Following the incident, United pulled back on online digital advertising in an attempt to “go dark.” Although disappearing isn’t a long-term strategy, it is a good way to avoid further attention to a brand during a sensitive time and allows the brand the time it needs to rethink its campaign messaging.
  • Despite Tuesday being United’s top day for sending email blasts, its airline pulled back on scheduled messages following the incident. Reeling in regular communication efforts was a good move as United will undoubtedly have to rebuild its reputation with customers before pushing out marketing promotions.

In the upcoming weeks, it will be interesting to see how Munoz will try to revive the airline’s brand, as well as its finances. After the event, United’s stock has dropped as much as $1.4B, there are rumors of a looming lawsuit from Dao, and the video has now exploded across Chinese social media platforms fueling rumblings of a potential Chinese boycott of international travel via United. For those of us in the marketing and PR world, this PR disaster will no doubt give us a case study for better crisis communication planning.

To learn how you can protect your brand’s reputation, contact Martino Flynn today.

Soft-Selling Your Technology Services Through Thought Leadership

From cloud connectivity to cyber security, it seems like almost every technology company is expanding their communication services. However, having the most extensive fiber route or the most customizable cloud configuration simply isn’t enough when it comes to landing new customers. Speeds, feeds, lines and features may sound like strong differentiators to service providers, but IT decision makers know all too well that solution capabilities, and their own business needs, change rapidly. In this fast-paced industry, C-Suite and IT professionals aren’t likely to jump at the latest solution to hit the market, rather they are more apt to make purchasing decisions based on brand affinity, reputation, and loyalty. With this in mind, we often recommend our clients consider executing upon a strategic thought leadership program to better position their company as a strong business partner.

How do thought leadership programs work?

After a company identifies the correct company spokesperson for its program—often based on factors such as the individual’s industry knowledge, product expertise, authenticity, and likeability—the next step is to identify and implement a series of communication tactics to position him or her as the company’s Subject-Matter Expert (SME). This can include setting up a speakers bureau so that the SME can speak at trade shows or customer events, pitching that SME for media interviews in targeted trade, regional, and national outlets; authoring a blog series portraying the SME’s opinions on various topics; or executing a social media engagement effort to build the SME’s personal brand.

With the right mix of communication tactics, a thought leadership program can help a company:

  • Evangelize company culture by using an SME who embodies brand values
  • Establish credibility through the expertise of their employees
  • Develop stronger rapport with customers/prospects by humanizing the brand
  • Deliver value to a topic and steer the direction of an industry conversation
  • Sell products and solutions through storytelling

What type of thought leadership content resonates the most?

Despite common misconceptions, audiences are not looking for your SME’s opinions to be all that differentiated from the industry standard. In fact, many SMEs who cover topics like cyber security will naturally emphasize the same key advantages of implementing network and cloud security solutions. However, audiences want to find the best answers to their questions; and if you have the right SME—one who is well-respected, knowledgeable, and trustworthy—your company will be able to do just that. By addressing customer pain points, industry changes, and the latest trends, your SME can become the “go-to” authority.

From the public relations perspective, thought leaders can play a valuable role in “soft selling” products and/or services without ever hinting at promotion. The best SMEs are those individuals who are respected within the industry and trusted by customers and prospects alike; therefore your target audiences will find value in hearing what they have to say. SMEs can talk about solutions in terms of capabilities vs. features and dance on the line of vendor neutrality when discussing “hot” topics. Company thought leaders are not your salesmen, they are your influencers; this is a subtle, but important, distinction.

To learn more about creating a thought leadership program, contact Jenny LePore at Martino Flynn.

Our Take: Super Bowl 51 Commercials

From the big game to commercials and the food, Super Bowl Sunday always brings a lot of excitement to the employees of Martino Flynn. We asked our experts to recap the commercials that aired during Super Bowl 51 and share “Our Take” on this year’s spots.

John Marianetti, executive producer

Every year there is great hype and anticipation surrounding the new Super Bowl spots and every year I seem to be left feeling slightly underwhelmed. I think that most brands just try too hard to make their spots memorable.

I prefer the simpler, yet flawlessly executed, spots. As much as I really enjoyed the cinematic styles and almost mini-feature-like qualities of Budweiser’s, “Born the Hard Way”, 84 Lumber’s  “The Journey Begins,” and Pepsi’s “Life Water”, I was equally impressed by the simple, conceptual  approach of the Skittles “Romance” spot. Good TV commercials don’t always equate to big budgets or complicated productions.

And when you cast Justin Timberlake reacting to Christopher Walken’s spoken word performance of NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” for Bai, well that’s just gold from a branding and name retention perspective. It’s hard to imagine anyone drinking a bottle of Bai without singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” out loud!

Tim Downs, executive creative director

Initial observation: I was struck by how many advertisers chose to address some of the issues that are currently affecting our country today. While there were plenty of ads that were entertaining and used humor to gain consumers’ goodwill, it’s the advertisers who used their spots to align themselves with bigger issues that stood out for me.

My favorites being the Audi spot that addressed women’s rights in a great storytelling way. And Budweiser—while still self-serving—acknowledged the role of immigrants in our country. The Honda yearbook spot not only employed great production techniques, but delivered an uplifting message.

As advertising professionals, we preview a lot of the spots online and read many trade articles analyzing them. For each spot, we break down the marketing strategy, the production techniques and special effects, art direction, and the copy. It makes it somewhat difficult to view the commercials objectively—as a pure consumer.

So as a consumer, I appreciated those spots that used humor and entertainment in a relevant way. I thought advertisers that reinforced their brands well and in interesting ways were Bai, Coca-Cola, and Mercedes Benz. All of them demonstrated that they understood their audiences and, more importantly, how their brands relate to them.

At the end of the day, what resonated with me were the spots that combined great storytelling, awesome production, and a message that was relevant to current social issues and their brand.

 Matt D’Angelo, digital creative director

I think the pinnacle of creative, widely engaging Super Bowl spots are in the past. The annual Super Bowl broadcast is a huge global stage where advertisers can really flex their muscles, but I have to say that this year the spots were a bit weak. I’m looking for some really sharp comedy, a clever twist, a super catchy jingle, or a deeply moving humanity piece. In light of our current political and social climate, the low-hanging fruit were spots leaning on cultural diversity. It seemed like a lot of brands jumped on that bandwagon— although, some were more creative than others.

While there were no “Wow” moments, raucous laughter, or tear-jerkers in my viewing experience, I did enjoy Ford’s “Go Further” spot. Set to the tune of Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and narrated by Bryan Cranston, the commercial is a bit sappy, but it did the trick. Ford will help us “Go Further” and make our lives “faster, easier and better” in the future.

I’m a sucker for fail videos. If done right, there’s a charm in showing the limits of humanity. I liked this spot for the simple tune and a nice payoff on how Ford is there for its customers. It’s not a groundbreaking spot, but it is one that’s cute and replayable—kind of in the vein of the Humans campaign from Liberty Mutual.

Jenny LePore, public relations and social media senior account supervisor

I’m all about good storytelling; I love when a brand not only draws in your attention through a compelling storyline, but also pulls at the heartstrings. Brands take big financial risks when they opt for the “soft sell,” but when it works, oh man, does it work. When Audi boldly took on the gender pay inequality issue in its 60-second “Daughter” Super Bowl ad, it did just that.

From a PR perspective, Audi made its brand relevant by associating itself with one of the most significant social issues of today. “Daughter” addresses the challenges  that many parents face when it comes to discussing issues such as, the gender pay gap and provides a solid metaphor for what can happen inside the workplace. As a working mother of two daughters, I have to say this topic hits close to home.

The best part is that Audi continued to engage its target audiences beyond its TV spot through its #driveprogress hashtag and its YouTube page where it noted that “a 2016 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found that women were paid 21% less than men on average.” Props to Audi for thinking this through in terms of digital integration and, of course, for keeping the conversation alive.

While critics argue that Audi took the soapbox theme too literally or, worse, called out Audi for only having two female top executives, it’s important that these conversations happen from a cultural level. Plus, here we are, post-Super Bowl 51, still talking about it. Are we talking about the latest car? No, but for many, they now have a new emotional connection to the progressive-luxury brand. And if you know anything about successful branding, emotional connections often lead to true brand loyalty.

Well done, Audi.

 

 

Top 5 Digital Marketing Trends to Expect in 2017

The online marketing industry can be difficult to navigate. It is constantly changing, growing larger and more complex each day. However, one marketing aspect that won’t change is visibility. How customers see your business has been the basis of marketing since day one. So how do you stay current and competitive in this ever-changing space? Anticipate and plan ahead! To help you, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 marketing trends we can expect in 2017.

1.  Augmented Reality

Launched in early July, the wildly popular Pokémon GO taught us two important lessons; it’s shown that users are ready for Augmented Reality (AR) experiences, and it proved that there is significant earning potential within this new technology. At its peak, the app recorded earnings of $10 million a day in new revenue. Users are craving experiences that give them the feeling that they are doing more than just staring at their screens; they want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Nostalgia also greatly played into Pokémon GO’s success. Emotion is still an integral component of a successful marketing campaign. We should expect to see more games, ads, and apps that provide this higher level of interaction in 2017.

2.  Native Advertising

Native advertising is certainly not new, as brands have been using the trend for years as a way to get natural-looking visibility on related sites. Now, as more and more consumers ignore, or even block, conventional digital ads, native advertising offers a stealthy, yet effective, way to get in front of them. With this increase in popularity, you can also expect to see new forms of native advertising offered by major publishers. Business Insider predicts that native ads will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021.

3.  Data Visualization Tools

Data is fundamental when it comes to marketing campaigns. As marketers, we need quantitative information on consumer behavior as well as ad performance. Measuring marketing has been an ongoing struggle and even Facebook has admitted its data doesn’t tell a complete story. Technology is now catching up to the “interpretation” part of data analysis, and we are already seeing dozens of data visualization tools on the market today. These tools use sophisticated technology that helps users interpret data. If a business doesn’t have plans to utilize these tools in 2017, it will be at a significant disadvantage.

4.  Live Video Streaming

As mentioned above, users crave that higher level of interaction, and social media platforms are responding. Facebook Live launched in April, which allows users to broadcast themselves and connect with a large audience in real time. Facebook Live Reactions allows users to interact with their audience and gauge how the broadcast is going. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, followed suit and launched its own live video streaming in November. This feature gives brands an opportunity to connect and engage with consumers in real time, which is essential in today’s fast-paced society.

5. Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence

Providing a positive customer experience is key when it comes to savvy business practices. Many of today’s successful companies embrace customer-centric philosophies to establish positive relationships and customer retention. One way to provide this experience is to leverage the power of technology with chatbots and Artificial Intelligence. Suppose you are looking for a place to dine in a new city. Asking locals is one way to get ideas, but they probably don’t know that you have a gluten allergy and prefer spicy food. Now imagine a chatbot that knows your intolerances, likes, and dislikes, and can guide you to places based on this knowledge. Chatbots can use AI, deep learning and data crumbs from across the web to understand and guide consumer behavior.

It is important for brands to be aware of these trends in order to stay ahead of the competition and appeal to the right audience at the right time. If you’re ready to take your digital marketing efforts to the next level, contact Martino Flynn at info@martinoflynn.com or give us a call at 585.421.0100.