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Best direct mail campaign in history: yes, cats are involved

(Business Marketing) Appealing to the sense of smell is a creative marketing tactic used today, and several campaigns have caught our eye, especially one involving catnip and kittehs.

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direct mail marketing kitteh

direct mail marketing kitteh

Using sense of smell to enhance your branding power

Giving your brand an edge is more important than ever before. From scents to interactive ads, marketers are trying harder than ever to grab your attention. Motorola created an ad that lets you change the color of a printed page before your eyes; billboards ad have been lit aflame, and now brands are appealing to your sense of smell. You may not realize it, but you have probably already been exposed to scent technologies. Scent branding is being used by boutiques, museums, and everything in between.

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Why use scent? The sense of smell is one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. And, if used in the right way, scent branding can enhance customer experience in a pleasing manner. It can also drive purchases as well. If your scent evokes a happy memory, people are more likely to buy it again and again.

Recently, India published its first scented newspaper ad. Johnson and Johnson placed a full-page advertisement in “The Times of India,” “The Hindu,” and “Malayala Manorama,” all of which were infused with the smell of J&J’s baby powder. As more and more publications are losing out in the digital age, making print advertising exciting, innovative, and fun, is paramount. And let’s face it, everyone loves that “baby smell,” so not only did people enjoy the ad, it encouraged people to pass it around and talk about it; which is exactly what you hope for in any marketing campaign.

The best direct mail campaign ever in history


Scent targeted marketing has even expanded to the pet market. A cat litter warehouse, looking to draw attention as they launch, chose a direct mail campaign. But they needed a way to insure their advertising did not wind up in the trash, so they decided to use scent. They infused their postcards with catnip and kitties went crazy for it; see their reactions here. As soon as the mail arrived in their human’s mailboxes, the cats were pounced, immediately drawn to the scent. And when the cats like something, the owners take notice, which insured the ad, for the most part, was noticed and not discarded.

The same is true for print advertising. Creating an ad that makes your readers stand up and take notice is what the difference between and effective campaign and one that flops. So why not engage the customer’s senses and draw them in to your product? At the very least they will be likely to talk about the novelty of scented ads, something you just cannot get through digital advertising.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bruce Lemieux

    February 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Uhhh, you know this wasn’t a real campaign, don’t you? That piece couldn’t be delivered (no postal insignia, etc). And sending a square piece – yikes. USPS must hand-sort Irregular shapes like this, so they are prohibitively expensive for a direct-mail campaign. And this “cat litter warehouse” is using direct mail to sell cat litter?? Probably the least cost-effective example of using direct mail. Ever.

    What *was* real about this video — it’s catnip to social media and marketing gurus who can’t resist telling us about new, creative and exciting ways to do something that doesn’t need to be new, creative or exciting. Up Next: scented postcards with QR codes delivered by drones (cut to scene where a millennial is struggling to scan the QR code on a postcard with her smartphone while the wind whips around a drone hovering overhead).

  2. Lani Rosales

    February 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Bruce, it is a Canadian company, but you could be right since their website is pretty defunct, the property they say their address is located shows up as “For Lease” on Google Maps, but I won’t let you crush my dreams – I think it could be a pricey marketing stunt!

    We spoke with an Austin printer who noted they’ve used buttered popcorn smell for direct mailers, and that scent is being used in marketing (and not just that horrible Abercrombie cologne sprayed every 10 minutes through the air vents in their store). Laugh all you want, but I think it’s pretty cool, curmudgeon! 😉

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

      “Curmudgeon”? Really??

      ok, I admit, that’s about right.

  3. Shelley Sweeney

    February 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    First of all, this video is adorable. Second of all, this direct mail campaign is a great example of where the print marketing industry is headed. Getting your message noticed in today’s oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge, but when you have the help of a furry friend and a little creativity, a direct marketing piece like this is bound for success. Sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell – experiential marketing campaigns are utilizing a range of senses these days to capture the attention of consumers. Increasingly, we’ve seen that it’s imperative for printed pieces to be interactive, cutting-edge and personalized, in order to increase the connection between the brand and the consumer. Print makes emotional connections and memorable impressions in this fast-paced, always-on world. Partner print with the sense of smell and you’ve created one of the strongest and most powerful triggers for emotional memory. In fact, a
    well-designed, creative, innovative piece can drive a connection between a brand and a consumer, sparking their interest, increasing their loyalty and possibly gaining new ambassadors. So, I highly recommend – take advantage of the power of print and have a little fun with it, too! – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

    • Bas de Haan

      February 28, 2014 at 3:58 am

      Totally agree with the comments of Shelley. For the best effect it is important to use scent as an active coating in order to get the fragrance released by local air flow instead of a (passive) cratch and sniff technology..

    • Bruce Lemieux

      February 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      I’m a huge fan of direct mail and agree it can be a very effective way to cut through “today’s oversaturated media world”. But scented mail absolutely isn’t the future of print marketing. “Have a little fun with it”? Maybe one can have some fun with direct mail on Planet Fantasy where printing and postage costs are negligible. But on Planet Earth where I live, direct mail is way too expensive for that (harsh, I know, but I feel it’s my duty since someone here labeled me as a “curmudgeon”)

      The real opportunity with direct mail — IMO — is cost-effective implementation of targeted, variable print direct mail that leads to personalized web interaction (PURLs). Xerox is a leader in printing solutions for variable print, but that’s just one link in the chain. It can be very expensive and very complicated to implement a program that targets the *right* consumers with the *right* message that also *minimizes* printing and postage costs. “Printers of the future” will master not only the technology of digital variable printing, but the data & tools needed to help facilitate targeted messages that are easy and cost-effective to implement. As a consumer of this product, I can tell you it’s getting better, but solutions are still evolving at a glacier pace.

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

7 simple tips to boost your customer loyalty online

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.

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Man and woman at kitchen table online shopping on laptop together, boosting customer loyalty.

With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers.

It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.

  1. Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
  2. Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
  3. Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
  4. Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
  5. Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
  6. Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
  7. Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.

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