Mega Watt Marketing Blog

Doug Dickson, Chief Energizing Officer of Seminar Direct, shares his marketing insights gained from 20+ years of experience using a multi-channel approach integrating direct mail, e-mail and internet SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

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Financial Seminars

12
Jun

Increasing Post Card Response Rates

Are your results less than satisfactory even though you have carefully followed design, printing, and mailing tips from a respected expert? If so, you may need to rethink the layout of your postcard or other elements of its design. What works for one company may not work for yours. Successful marketing requires careful testing, so don’t despair if it takes time before you see the results everyone is bragging about. Here are some ideas for redesigning your postcard to maximize results:

Focus on the Back Side of the Card
A large number of mail carriers tend to deliver the mail with the address-side-up. If the back of your postcard contains only the address information, large numbers of your cards will be trashed before a single headline has a chance to be read.  Try testing different layouts with the headline and offer on the back side of the postcard.  Save the front of the card for additional information.

Limit Information
Avoid packing every little detail onto the postcard as this can result in a littered layout and, therefore, hidden message. Cut down the amount of words to include only the most important information. You merely need to cause clients to take the next step, not know every step of the offer.

Make a Unique Offer
If yours is the same as every other business offer, prospects will see no reason use your company above another. Without a tempting offer, an advertising campaign is useless.  The offer is what compels readers to take action. So give clients what they want – the newest, biggest, and best product or service at an irresistible price.

Although printed postcards are one of the cheapest marketing tools, without high results they are not worth any cost, no matter how small. Therefore, test and test again until your direct mail postcards have become the optimum marketing tool that you have read so much about.

What you may not know is that you can often improve your postcard marketing results just by making minor adjustments to your approach. Here are seven such adjustments.

1. A Free Consultation is No Offer
Many agents, advisors and sales professionals like to rely on a “free consultation” offer to motivate their prospects to call.  This approach usually fails because so many have a similar offer and prospects view a consultation as a normal part of the project, not as a free bonus or motivating factor.

Instead of offering a “free consultation”, offer something else the prospect may perceive as valuable.  Offer something that is loosely related to your product or service that provides information, saves them money or simplifies their life in some way.  Guidebooks, white papers and coupon books are perennial favorites.

2. KISS (Keep it Short and Simple)
Think of your postcard as a mini billboard, something that attracts the reader’s attention while they’re busy looking at something else.  Top advertising agencies understand that the most effective billboards usually contain less than 7 words.  Likewise, postcards should be short and direct. There’s an old saying in advertising, “confuse ‘em and you’ll lose ‘em.”

According to a study commissioned by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), postcards have the highest read rate of all types of direct mail.  Higher read rates lead to higher response rates and greater returns on investment.

To maximize your postcard’s effectiveness, limit your focus to one main idea and keep the language focused. KISS doesn’t mean you should ever talk down to your reader, but must speak clearly so that your reader understands your message upon first glance.

3. Qualify and Segment Your Audience
For top results, use a list that is segmented to be more specific and relevant with your message.  Find logical points to divide it, like businesses and consumers, male and female, old and young, income ranges and other demographics.

By creating narrow market niches within your data, you can be much more specific in your offer, copy and imagery. This produces a much greater connection with the reader which correlates with higher response rates.  That’s just one of many ways to segment your list. You can also break it up by age, neighborhood, buyer vs. seller, prospect vs. customer, home value, etc. Sure, it takes more effort on your part. But in this age of information overload, you have to make your message specific and relevant in order to make a connection.

3. Analyze Your List
Your list connects you with your audience, and your audience determines your direct mail success. So give your list the attention it deserves. Ask all the hard questions: Is my list up to date? Is this the best possible list for me to be using, given my objectives? Is my list too general? Should I segment it into groups?

Optimize your list(s) every chance you get. And make sure you protect it by saving it in various places – on your computer, on a disc, on the Internet somewhere. Can you imagine how devastating it would be to lose a list of past clients?

5. Clarify Your Call-to-action
First, ensure that you have a strong call-to-action. Without this critical element, your postcard is just another piece of paper in a mailbox that doesn’t give anyone a reason to do anything. So, make sure to include a call-to-action on your postcard. Just as important, make your call-to-action clearly visible. Put it in a colored box where it’s just impossible to miss.

If you follow these simple steps, you’ll soon find that your response rates are back on track and that your business is buidling once again.

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31
May

How to Market Your Seminar

If no one attends your event, it isn’t a seminar, it’s an expensive lesson.  When seminars fail, the cost if far more than just the expenses relating to the event itself; generally the most expensive part is the loss of the revenues that should have been received.  Fortunately, with good marketing your event can be consistently filled with well qualified prospects.

There are many different mediums for marketing seminars. We have listed them for you in order of their effectiveness:

Direct mail
Newspaper advertising
Telephone soliciting
Television
Newspaper inserts
Radio
Public relations (PR)
E-mail
Billboards

As you can see, direct mail is by far the most effective advertising vehicle from a cost and time perspective. The main advantage it provides is the ability to target your prospects.

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31
May

Why Use Direct Mail?

A recent study confirms that direct mail is still the most effective form of marketing available today. The study, created by Fournaise Marketing Group, evaluated and compiled the marketing campaigns of over 3,000 marketing professionals from businesses of all sizes and concluded that direct mail constitutes 35% of all marketing spending worldwide.   According to Jerome Fontaine, CEO of Fournaise, “If you listen to the industry hype, it’s all about online advertising and emerging mobile advertising. If you check where marketing budgets are mostly spent, it’s still all about traditional media such as TV and newspapers.  But when it comes down to effectiveness, while it may not be the most glamorous and talked-about medium, marketers are telling us DM is still the best platform for delivering results.”  Direct mail marketing was rated as the most effective means of marketing in both the business to business and in the business to consumer marketing sectors.

What is it about direct mail the makes it so effective?  There are 8 powerful characterstics that are key to its success:

1. Direct Mail is Personal
Unlike an advertisement in the newspaper or other media that can be read by anyone, your sales letter arrives as a piece of personal communication addressed specifically to a well qualified prospect. Unlike other mediums, direct mail can be personalized (Dear Mr. Jones) and customized to each reader (“As a retired investor, you know that… “), showing your prospect that you know them by name and are somewhat familiar with them.
 
2. Cost Effective
Advertising by its very nature is expensive. To reach a lot of people, you need to spend a lot of money. Direct mail, on the other hand, only targets the prospects you want to reach. Instead of pitching your product to a huge audience of potential buyers, you aim your sales message only at prospects most likely to buy.

3. Breaks Through the Marketing Mess
Your ad can easily get lost among all of the competing ads in the newspaper, phone book or internet. Likewise, your message can be easily forgotten on radio or television unless you repeat it many times, which is incredibly expensive and out of reach for most companies.  With a simple letter, addressed to your prospect by name your message cuts through the media clutter and has an opportunity to get their attention.

4. Measurable Results
Direct mail is one of the best mediums for measuring the financial return on your marketing dollar. Simply find a method for uniquely identifying the response and you’ll quickly be able to determine your cost per lead and net results.  This can be done using a unique phone number, business reply cards or even by using a code name like “Sam” who prospects are instructed to ask for when responding.

5. Predictable
One advantage of knowing the success rates of your past mailings is that you can predict the success of future mailing. If you mail the same package with the same offer to a similar group of prospects, you can acurately predict how many responses you will receive and how those will translate into sales.

6. Improves with Testing
Because you can measure your direct mail results, you can also test the variables used within your mailings. Test one version of copy against another, one list against another, one offer against another and you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t. This allows you immediately improve your results and to spend your marketing dollars where they are most effective without relying on guess work or hunches.

7. Immediate Results
General advertising, sometimes called “branding”, builds product or company awareness. There is no direct action that is requested in branding, only presenting the product to potential prospects, hoping that it will result in long term familiarity.  This is an effective approach, but it can take months, even years to produce results.  Direct mail asks for action now and explains the advantages of responding today.

8. Secret
If your tired of having your competition steal many of your good marketing ideas, direct mail can help keep them more private.  While it is still possible for a competitor to see your direct mail, it makes it much more difficult than an ad in the newspaper of similar mass media approach.

These 8 factors come together synergistically in direct mail, creating an incredibly effective form of marketing.  To further enhance the effects of direct mail, try incorporating it into a multi-channel approach also using the internet, e-mail or PURLS.

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30
May

Seminar Location Checklist

Our clients have found this form to be an effective tool for evaluating seminar locations.

Location Checklist:  _________________________________________________________________________________________ (location)
Inspection completed on _________________ at _____________   am  /  pm
YES    NO
____  ____ Was the location easy to find?
____  ____ Was it near any major crossroads?  ___________________________________________________
____  ____ Does the curb-side image give an a good first impression?
____  ____ Will the parking be a problem?
____  ____ Will a person with physical challenges find this location difficult?
____  ____ Are the lobby area and other areas clean and neatly organized?
____  ____ Were you greeted as you walked in?
____  ____ Is the interior lighting sufficient?
____  ____ Are the personnel courteous and helpful?
____  ____ How is the temperature of the restaurant?
____  ____ Are their sufficient electrical outlets available for your equipment?
____  ____ Are the chairs and table comfortable?
____  ____ How will the room layout?
____  ____ What shape will you place the tables into? ____________________________________
____  ____ Is the meeting room soundproofed or sufficiently quiet?
____  ____ What type of menu is available for your seminar?
____  ____ Are salads, bread, beverage and dessert included?
____  ____ What is the cost of food, drink, tax and tip?  Get detailed estimate.
____  ____ Can they provide a sample meal representative of what they’ll use for the seminar?

General Impressions and Notes:

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30
May

The Top 10 Worst Locations for Financial Seminars

Financial Seminar Locations

The three most important factors for holding a successful financial seminar are location, location, and location.  While that may seem repetitive, it carries the message of just how important your venue is and how this choice can affect your results. 

Your location is your magnet and truly one of the most critical factors for your event.  While we have found that the best location for a financial seminar is a well-known, medium priced restaurant, many of our clients choose to hold their events at other locations.  Here are a list of locations we have found that statistically produce poor results.   

The Worst 10 Seminar Locations:

     1. The Elks Club, VFW or other lodges

     2. Recreation or conference centers

     3. Golf country clubs

     4. Restaurants that serve ethnic foods (except Italian) or with odd names (anything medieval)

     5. College campuses

     6. Churches

     7. Bars

     8. Hotels

     9. Libraries

And the WORST location to hold a seminar:

     10.  Your office

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20
May

10 Insider Secrets to Successful E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing is one of fastest, most effective, and low cost methods you can use to grow your business.  Here are ten insider secrets I use everyday that insiders don’t want you to know:  

Insider secrets to successful e-mail marketing: 

  • Focus on the Subject Line. The subject line of your e-mail is the most critical element of your e-mail.  It is the teaser copy on the outside of your “envelope”.  Get it right and your open rates will soar, miss the mark and your results will suffer.
  • Size Matters! Keep your subject line short and to the point.  Use a rule of 9 words or less to maximize your impact.
  • Watch Your Language.  Avoid using words like “Free”, “Limited Time” or “Buy Now” that will activate spam filters and get you banished to the junk mail folder.  Include the word “you” to give it a more personal feel and varieties such as “your” as well. 
  • Never Send Spam.  Use opt in lists and other techniques to gather permission based e-mail address.  Never send out spam e-mails and follow the CAN-Spam legislation rules exactly.
  • Don’t forget the “from” line. Readers open your e-mail to answer two questions:  who is this from and what is it about?  Studies show that over 50% of e-mail recipients use the “from” address alone to decide whether or not to open an e-mail.  Keep your “from” line to 16 characters or less and use one of these creative approaches to stand out:

          A. Illustrating the purpose of your e-mail: financialupdate@ml.com

          B. Personalized with your name: doug.dickson@seminardirect.com

          C. Anonymous: 4453@msli.com

          D. Special deal: specialsavings@ml.com

  • The Magic Number 3.  For most, it is difficult, if not impossible, to sell directly from a single e-mail page.  To improve conversion rates, include at least three links the reader can click or paste into their browser’s window to gain more information or make a purchase.  One of your links should appear within the very first paragraph.
  • Short and Sweet. Most e-mails should be short, containing 200 – 500 words for letters and about 500 – 1,500 words in newsletter type mailings.
  • Salute your reader.  If you want your letter to look more personal and feel less like an ad, use a salutation.  Simply incorporating the word “Dear” followed by the recipient’s name can dramatically increase response rates.  When you only have the recipient’s e-mail addresses, use a more generic salutation like Dear Homeowner, Dear Friend or Dear Concerned Citizen.   You can further personalize your e-mail with other familiar items using such as names, locations and familiar  
  • Fast and Easy. Get to your point fast and make it an easy jump from the subject line to your first line.  Example:  Your subject line, “Save almost $1,000 on a complete financial review” could be your followed by a first line stating, “Call today and get a $990 analysis free!”
  • Test, test and test. You should constantly test and analyze your e-mails to discover what is working and what is not.  Test open rates, spam complaints and conversions as they relate to changes in your subject lines, number of words, offer, personalization, plain text vs. HTML, even the pages that are linked from your e-mail.

These insider secrets truly work; I know because I use them daily in the e-mail marketing our firm produces on behalf of our clients.  By following these 10 insider secrets you’ll see dramatic increases in all of your e-mail benchmarks and, most importantly, your bank account.

Copyright © 2009 Doug Dickson. All Rights Reserved.
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06
May

List of Power Words

“Words matter because they have consequences and create outcomes”.
- Doug Dickson, Seminar Direct

Power words paint a colorful picture and leave an indelible impression on our minds. This happens because of the feelings or actions that we associate with them. Neutral words such as “paper”, “beige” or “average” are not power words because they have little or no emotion attached to them. Words like “amazing”, “incredible” and “free” pack a powerful punch and are excellent examples of power words.

When deadlines are pressing, the phone ringing and the hours of sleep low, it can be difficult to summon your creative genius on demand. I’ve found that systems really help, but the key to success is developing great lists to spark the imagination. Here’s one I’ve used for years and refer to anytime I just can’t get the right word.

List of Power Words:


Ability
Absolutely
Accelerate
Accomplish
Accurate
Achieve
Acquired
Active
Affect
Affordable
Aggressive
Alert
Allure
Alluring
Alternative
Amazing
Analyze
Announcing
Approved
Attain
Attitude
Attractive
Authentic
Avoiding
Awesome
Bargain
Beautiful
Beauty
Benefit From
Better
Big
Blast
Blockbuster
Bonanza
Bonus
Boom
Boost
Breakthrough
Burst
Buyer’s Guide
Capable
Careful
Challenge
Challenging
Colorful
Colossal
Common sense
Compare
Competitive
Complete
Comprehensive
Compromise
Conceive
Concept
Conduct
Confidence
Confidential
Conscientious
Control
Crammed
Crucial
Customized
Daring
Dazzling
Delicious
Delivered
Dependable
Destiny
Develop
Diplomatic
Direct
Discipline
Discount

[column width="18%" padding='2"]
Discover
Distinguished
Drive
Dynamic
Dynamics
Dynamite
Earn
Easily
Easy
Effective
Efficiency
Electrifying
Eliminate
Emerging
Empower
Endorsed
Endurance
Energetic
Energizing
Energy
Enjoy
Enormous
Enterprising
Enthusiastic
Envision
Establish
Evaluate
Excel
Excellence
Excellent
Excitement
Exciting
Exclusive
Exercising
Expand
Expedite
Expert
Explode
Explosive
Facilitate
Facts
Famous
Fascinating
Fear
Find
Fired
Floodgates
Flourish
Focus
Foothold
Forecast
Formula
Fortune
Free
Freedom
Fueling
Full
Fun
Fundamentals
Garner
Generate
Genuine
Get
Gift
Gigantic
Grace
Grasp
Greatest
Growth
Guaranteed
Guide
Guided
Harvest
[/column]


Health
Helpful
High Tech
High Yield
Highest
Honest
Hot
How
Huge
Hurry
Ignited
Imagination
Imagine
Immediately
Implement
Important
Improve
Improved
Incisive
Increase
Increased
Incredible
Informative
Initiate
Innovate
Innovative
Insatiable
Inspirational
Inspire
Instantly
Instructive
Interesting
Introducing
Investigative
Just In Time
Largest
Last Minute
Late-Breaking
Latest
Lavishly
Lead
Liberated
Lifetime
Limited
Limited Time Offer
Listen
Lively
Look
Love
Lowest
Luxury
Magic
Mainstream
Mammoth
Masterpiece
Memory
Merit
Mind-Blowing
Miracle
Money
Money-Back
Monitor
Monumental
Motivate
Motivated
Mouth-Watering
New
Next Frontier
Noted
Novel
Now
Obsession
Obtain

[column width="18%" padding='2"]
Odd
Only
Opportunities
Outstanding
Own
Participate
Peace
Perform
Personalized
Perspective
Persuade
Persuaded
Philosophy
Pioneering
Plus
Popular
Portfolio
Potent
Potential
Power
Powerful
Practical
Precise
Pride
Produce
Professional
Proficiency
Profit From
Profitable
Profits
Promising
Protect
Proven
Provide
Provocative
Purchased
Quality
Quick
Quickly
Rare
Reap
Recommend
Recommended
Reduced
Refundable
Reliable
Remarkable
Responsible
Results
Revealing
Reveals
Revolutionary
Rewards
Safely
Sale
Save
Savvy
Scarce
Scorecard
Secrets
Secure
Security
Seductive
Selected
Sensational
Sex
Shocking
Simplified
Simplify
Simplistic
Sizable
Sizzling
Skill
[/column]


Soar
Sold
Solution
Solve
Special
Specialized
Spotlight
Starter Kit
Startling
Stop
Strange
Streamline
Strength
Strengthen
Strong
Stunning
Sturdy
Success
Successful
Suddenly
Superior
Sure-Fire
Surging
Surprise
Surprising
Survival
Systematic
Tactful
Technology
Terrific
Test Drive
Tested
Thorough
Thrilling
Time Sensitive
Timely
Train
Trained
Tremendous
Trim
Trusted
Truth
Ultimate
Unconditional
Uncover
Under-Priced
Unique
Unleash
Unlimited
Unlock
Unparalleled
Unsurpassed
Unusual
Up Scale
Urgency
Urgent
Useful
Valuable
Vital
Vitality
Vivid
Want
Wanted
Warning
Wealth
Willpower
Win
Winning
Won
Wonderful
Yes
You
You’re


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