Todd Schulte Today is The Gift Thu, 19 Sep 2019 18:46:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Todd Schulte 32 32 How Do You Reach Buyers Who Buy to Support Social Causes? Fri, 02 Aug 2019 16:55:39 +0000 I have observed the increasing influence of social enterprises with interest over the past decade or so. These organizations operate using a variety of business models, but a major focus of their missions is to promote some type of social benefit, often tied to their main product or service.

For example, a bottled water company might contribute money and resources to support projects that provide clean water to underserved populations. Or a venture capital firm only invests in companies that develop clean energy solutions.

While the motives of companies like this often originate from the ideals and experiences of their founders, their charitable functions also serve as powerful marketing lures for the right audience. More and more people nowadays are looking toward innovative businesses as leaders in making a difference in the world.

Which raises an interesting question. How should a social enterprise brand market its products, when a large part of what they’re selling is not a product but an intangible benefit?

There’s a truism in marketing that says that the best predictor of a buyer’s future purchases is his or her past purchases. In fact, modern data-driven marketing applies this core concept to segment prospects, choose which channels will best reach their chosen audience, and guide other high-level strategic decisions.

But when a buyer is highly motivated by social considerations, we have to enhance this formula. What if buying decisions could be better predicted by including value systems, social involvement, and communities?

Obviously, widening our scope to gather these disparate forms of data is going to require some creative thought and major data processing horsepower. But we’re getting closer every day. I’m excited about businesses evolving to expand their positive influence and make the world a better place. As marketers, we need to evolve along with them and get smart about who buys from us, and why.

Why All Direct Mail Marketing Professionals Should Add AI to their Budget. Mon, 20 May 2019 15:22:48 +0000 Many business decision makers are struggling with ROI when it comes to integrating technology into their daily operations. Are they going to revolutionize the way their company runs, or just end up being a waste of time and money? For direct mailers, AI is an opportunity they shouldn’t stay on the fence about. Here’s why.

Where Direct Mail Marketers Are Struggling

One major issue that direct mail marketers have is the fact that it’s far more expensive and time-consuming to put together a print catalog compared to its digital or email equivalent. Jennifer Heim, Vice President of Miles Kimball, says that if one of her companies was to put out a catalog, they would need to consider “increasing postage, print, and paper costs not to mention the internal work that goes into creating it.” As a result, issues like overmailing and not knowing the optimal time to send materials have much higher stakes. There are several other issues direct mail marketers have to deal with, like ensuring their lists stay current.

Combine all these factors together, and this is where the myth starts to grow that direct mail marketing is “dead” or “outdated.” Christopher T. Spiro, Chief Creative Officer at Spiro & Associates, shares how while he often recommends direct mail marketing to clients, he tends to be met by challenges on the subject. “They often ask us if people still look at mail, do they respond to mail?  Is it cost effective? That is the singular largest pain point.”

How AI Handles Conventional Direct Mail Issues

Modern problems require modern solutions, and fitting AI into direct mail marketing programs helps address and mitigate a lot of these issues. Spiro shares how he used an AI-directed mail program for a regional home builder client of his, and found a great deal of success by providing an offer via a PURL (personal URL). When customers accessed the PURL, the client was able  “to track visits, preferences and follow up with a combination of an electronic and direct mail drip campaign.”

Using Artificial Intelligence it is now possible to identify whether a prospect should by targeted with conventional mail, or with email or if using both to reach the same prospect yields a superior result.  This campaign led to 1,000 homes sold as a direct result over a one-year period. However, this data and these conversions wouldn’t be accessible without AI-based message targeting and channel selection.

Heim shares the sentiment that AI is helping large direct mailers and can now help even mid size mailers perform their job better. Her current strategy, similar to most other mailers, is threefold:

  • Adjusting models on a regular basis based on results
  • Running stream tests to measure incremental value
  • Measuring or testing new customer segments based on certain criteria

“This is an exciting time and any direct mailer will tell you they always want to test optimizing how they mail customers,” she explains, as using AI to segment customer data means that all three of these functions can be done faster and with greater accuracy.