Direct Marketing Feed

Affiliate Summit East 2009 - A Must Attend Event

The must attend trade show in New York City this summer is Affiliate Summit East 2009.  The show promises to be a "who's who" of experts in affiliate marketing, blogging, SEM, SEO and social networking.  It will be taking place from August 9 - 11 at the Hilton New York.

If you ever want to know where the industry is going, always ask the direct marketers since they have real money at stake.  Affiliate Summit is where next generation direct marketers hang out.  I'll be covering the event for this blog, and highly recommend that anyone reading this quickly sign up as the show is expected to sell out by July 31st.  The Expo Hall is already a sell out.  Congrats to Shawn Collins and team.

The keynote speaker for Monday, August 10 will be Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, and the keynote for Tuesday, August 11 will be Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory.  I've been a big fan of the HARO approach for generating press and can't wait to hear Peter's keynote on everything public relations.

The Decline of Sharper Image and Lillian Vernon

For those who missed it, take a few minutes to read Denny Hatch's  column this week on the bankruptcy filings by Sharper Image and Lillian Vernon.

Denny makes two points that were not followed by either company:

1. Violation of the Core Principles for "Why People Buy":

People buy for three reasons:

* Price. Wal-Mart has become the largest corporation in the world (equal to the GDP of Poland) because it is seldom—if ever—undersold.

* Service. If an organization is a joy to do business with—helpful staff, ironclad guarantee, easy return policy and great customer satisfaction—people will pay a little more to do business there.

* Exclusivity. If a buyer really wants a specific item—Glenlivet Single Malt, Hermes, Rolls-Royce, Rolex—the guy who stocks it will get the order.

2. The second reason is that both cmpanies failed to adhere to the words of the late Joan Throckmorton

"As direct marketers, we’re not here primarily to make a sale; we’re here to get a customer. Sales are important, of course. (Where would marketers be without them?) But the name of the game is repeat sales rather than one-shots. And to have that, you need a customer."

To quote the end of the Denny's post:

"Richard Thalheimer and Lillian Vernon started out as kids with no schooling in direct marketing. Both tested single products using space ads, and both had huge successes with their first shots.

Both started by selling tchotchkes—amusing little stand-alone impulse items. Both founded businesses based on finding more tchotchkes and selling them to their original demographic group.

In the end, Lillian Vernon had 3 million buyers whose average order was $56, while the average sale to the 293,000 Sharper Image catalog buyers was $185."

They both failed to generate customers or in the words of Seth Godin in his column today points out via a quote from Gavin Potter,

“The 20th century was about sorting out supply, the 21st is going to be about sorting out demand.”

I guess that makes it 3 strikes and they are out.

How Often Does American Express Itself?

I think the direct marketing strategy at American Express is to mail the same offer to me everyday in the hope that in a desperate effort to get the mail to stop, I'll relent and sign up for extended payment options or a Delta SkyMiles credit card.  Someone has developed a devious plan to fill my snail mail and email box with the same message week after week in the belief that I rejected their offer in a temporary bout of insanity. 

As a new blog feature I'm going to start listing every solicitation I get from American Express.  It will be interesting to track the mail frequency and offers.   Maybe they know something I don't.  There has to be a better way such as asking me what type of card and benefits I'm interested in.  They already track how I purchase and pay, just use it to tailor an offer.  Better yet, just ask me what credit cards I carry that aren't American Express and prove to me why their offer is better.

  • April 14, 2007    
  •      #10 Letterpack - Credit Card Solicitation for Delta SkyMiles Credit Card (repeat of a
         mailing I received in March)

              "There are Hundreds of Reasons to Pair Delta Skymiles credit card with your
              current  American Express Card" 
              Includes letter with "fake" plastic card
  •      #10 Letter-pack - Credit Card Solicitation for an Upgrade to a Gold Card
         "You've Earned it"
           Letter and fake card - "We've made it easy for you to upgrade because you've earned
  •      6x9 Postcard - Bill Payment Made Simple
        "Introducing American Express Bill Pay, a new on-line feature that lets you pay your monthly
        bills, from cable to insurance, automatically"
  • April 5, 2007
  •      Email - American Express Travel
         Don't miss out on Going Once
    , a unique travel promotion from American Express
         launching on  April 17, 2007.
  • April 4, 2007
  •      Email - American Express Financial Advisors
         As a valued American Express® Cardmember, you're entitled to receive 7,500
        Membership Rewards® bonus points when you attend a
    complimentary financial
    with an advisor from Ameriprise Financial.
  • March 2007
  •      Membership Rewards Catalog Mailing - 8.5x11
  •      #10 Letterpack - Credit Card Solicitation - Upgrade to the American Express Rewards Plus
         Gold Card

         "I would like to remind you that with the XXX Membership Rewards points you already
          earned, you are getting closer to some of our best rewards.  But that's just the
          beginning, because starting today you can earn rewards even faster when you upgrade.
  •      5x10 Saddle Stitched Catalog - Passport to Europe Offers - 16 pages
  •      5x9 Postcard - Lake Austin Spa Resort and American Express postcard offer
  •      #10 Letterpack - Letter + buck slip - Extended Pay
         "With your American Express Card, you pay your charges in full each month, so
         you  don't have to worry about carrying a balance.  But there are times when yo umay
         want to extend payment.  That's why we created FlexPaySM  ...
  •      40 Page 5x9 catalog - "The Next Stamp in your passport should be as exciting as the first"
  •      #10 Letterpack - Credit Card Solicitation for Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
              "There are Hundreds of Reasons to Pair Delta Skymiles credit card with your
              current  American Express Card" 
              Includes letter with "fake" plastic card
  • March 20, 2007
  • Email - Invitation to upgrade to an American Express Gold Card
    It is with great pleasure that we extend to you one of our highest standards of recognition — an invitation for you to upgrade to the American Express Rewards Plus Gold Card.
  • March 13, 2007
  • Email -  American Express Travel
    Discover extraordinary destinations around the world at a premium value.

    Offer: Double Points, Annual subscription to Travel & Leisure, $100 credit
  • March 8, 2007
  • Email - American Express Membership Rewards
    Membership Rewards Rewards Watch Newsletter - March
  • March 6, 2007
  • Email - American Express Card Payments Flexibility Offer for purchases of $200 or more
  • March 4, 2007
  • Email - Green Card Travel Benefits - Get away to South Florida
  • February 27, 2007
    • Email - Take a Classic Vacation with American Express Travel - Double Membership Rewards Points for a booked vacation
  • February 20, 2007
    • Letter pack - Flexible Payment Offer: "Of course I'd prefer if no Card member used another card -- especially when it means missing out on valuable Membership Rewards points.
    • Letter pack with brochure inside: Earn Double Membership Rewards if I pay my insurance premium on American Express
  • February 19, 2007
    • Telemarketing Call - Hi Mr. Grill, how are you today.  I'd like to offer you flexible card payments.
  • February 16, 2007
    • American Express Color of Florida Brochure - 12 page saddle stitch color 5x9 on Florida destinations and get more Membership Rewards Points
  • February 15, 2007
    • American Express and Paris Hotel Postcard - See The Producers at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas and save $40
    • American Express and the Ritz Carlton Self Mailer - Exclusive offer - receive an upgrade to the Ritz Carlton Club level.