End the debate. Snail mail is here to stay.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Marketers are now realizing that abandoning direct mail for digital media may have negative consequences for return on investment (ROI), and the impact may be worse than expected. When budgets are tight, it’s harder to see the forest from the trees, and it’s easier to make cuts with less regard for lifetime value (LTV). Fortunately, information spreads fast nowadays so we get to hear pretty quickly what others have learned from their mistakes. Conversely, there are a few mailers that kept quiet about their success with direct mail in 2009 due to the positive implications of fewer competitors’ offers in the box. (more…)

Hub Investors — A Good Financial List?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Even with more than 60,000 mailing lists on the market, I still couldn't find a mailing list for hub investors. If you are looking for a financial market niche, then this may be one to take a closer look at. Who are these investors? How can they be identified? You may just want to settle for an accurate definition for now.

Usually, when posting a new blog entry I do so with the intention of providing helpful marketing knowledge or resources, like the most recent social media cheat sheet. However, this time I'm asking for a little help with the following questions:

1) Would hub investors be a meaningful segment?

2) How could these individuals be identified?

Here's what I've learned so far. According to Investopedia, there is an investment structure called the 'Hub and Spoke Structure', in which several investment vehicles pool their assets together by contributing to one central investment vehicle. Each investment vehicle remains individually managed; the smaller investment vehicles are referred to as the "spokes" and the central investment vehicle is referred to as the "hub".

This model insulates the 'hub investors' from taxes incurred by the 'spoke investors' on foreign investments. That's the best I can do for now, so I'll invite a few foreign investment specialists to comment with a better explanation.

From a marketing perspective, I would expect that these individuals are saavy investors, with capital resources and good accountants. They also may be investing in some emerging international markets. If they could be identified, would they be good prospects for The Economist or Foreign Affairs? I'm thinking that many of them already subscribe to Forbes.

For more information about the 'hub and spoke' investment structure, you may also want to check out the definition for the 'master-feeder' structure on Wikipedia.

Bernanke or Cutts — Who Holds the Keys?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve Chairman) currently holds the key to influence the supply of money, but Matt Cutts (Google) is teaching us how to get more of it online.

Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke A few of us middle-aged marketers can still remember Black Monday, the stock market crash that occurred shortly after Ronald Reagan appointed Alan Greenspan Chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1987. Many more of us can remember the boom that occurred a decade later, followed by the Y2K burst in March 2000. Despite the ups and downs of this bipolar economic era, the perceived powers of Alan Greenspan led many to believe he held the keys to recovery and recession.

Not much changed with this perception when Ben Bernanke succeeded Greenspan in February 2006 as the Fed's Chairman. Last year he was ranked the fourth most powerful man in the world by Newsweek. However, President Barack Obama may be positioning Lawrence Summers, Director of the National Economic Council to succeed Bernanke when his term ends in January as the Obama Administration's initiative for change is driving a diversification of power and demand for innovation.

It is obvious from recent failures that changing the federal funds rate to influence the money supply is only one of many options to affect the U.S. economy. However, this is an essential key to managing and stabilizing our economy — and Bernanke holds the keys.

Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts Who would have thunk it? The day has come when a software engineer from Google has more business followers than the Fed's Chairman — well, at least those with a web marketing focus. Matt Cutts currently heads up the Webspam team at Google, but he is most recognized for helping marketers improve their PageRank and visibility in search results. Unlike the economics of interest rate decisions, search engine optimization (SEO) is something ever business owner actually has some control over. Here's the catch — it's not easy and it takes time. 

Google's PageRank algorithm is complex and its details have not been disclosed. Therefore, many marketers are looking to Matt Cutts for advice on how to improve their PageRank and ranking on the search engine results page (SERP). If your business isn't getting noticed for the right categories online, then you are not prepared for the next generation of marketing. Depending on the level of competition you are dealling with, it could take a very long time to achieve your objectives. SEO experts like David Viney believe that Google will penalize web sites for obtaining too many referring links to quickly, due to the nature of how those inbound links may have been acquired.

With nearly six billion active Google searches in May 2009 alone (according to Nielsen), it is pretty clear that Cutts holds the keys to mastering the free market economy online. If you are a list manager or list owner and have not yet embraced SEO for your business, then you may want to get started now by learning the SEO language from our marketing glossary and putting your mailing list titles on a search engine optimized platform.

Ten Free Ways To Market Your Business Online

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

February 23, 2009 – The Dow closed at 7,114.78 today, an 11-year low. The S&P 500 hit its 12-year low, while today's NASDAQ posted a 3.71 percent loss which actually exceeded the percentage losses of the DJIA and S&P 500. An estimated $10,000,000,000,000 market value of U.S. stocks has been wiped out since the October 2007 high.

There is no better time than the present to leverage marketing freeconomics for your business. The information renaissance is a breath of fresh air in the midst of the current economic crisis. While many physical doors have been closed due to cutbacks, a greater number of virtual windows have opened online. Here are NextMark's examples for 10 free ways to market your business online:

1. YouTube – How To Find Mailing Lists video & findlists channel

2. Linkedin – NextMark company page & NextMark group

3. Facebook – NextMark company page & NextMark group

4. Plaxo – NextMark group

5. Tradevibes – Company profile

6. MerchantCircle – Directory listing & coupon

7. Slideshare – list advertising ROI presentation

8. Twitter – Follow NextMark

9. Jigsaw – Company wiki & company research

10. NextMark Directory – Get your listing now!

The most efficient marketing approach for sharing your story is to make it easy for others do it for you.

Preparing for recession

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Just like many businesses, we are preparing for the possibility of an extended economic recession.  However, it's good to know that we are headquartered in a place that Forbes just identified as the #2 least vulnerable to recession in the U.S. The Forbes story does not provide much detail, but a story by The Dartmouth provides more detail on why Lebanon, NH and the Upper Valley is recession-resistant (I won't say "recession-proof" like some other articles).

This provides some solace, but not much since most of our business is elsewhere. What are you doing to prepare for a slump?

McKinsey: Don’t cut IT in tough times!

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Managing IT in a downturn: beyond cost cutting The economy is in terrible shape. Most companies are looking to all departments to cut costs to stay viable. McKinsey & Company recently published a somewhat counter-intuitive study, Managing IT in a downturn: beyond cost cutting, that says you may want to spare the IT budget. In fact, it illustrates how targeted IT investments can increase profits in the short term and set the stage for long-term growth. In this article, McKinsey says:

“Except in the most dire circumstances, turning off technology investments during a downturn is counterproductive. When business picks up, you may lack critical capabilities. Besides, many technology investments can improve profitability in the short to medium term.”

One of the concrete examples they provide is in improving employee productivity:

“Another critical goal during a downturn is getting more ‘bang for the buck’ from employees — for example, by increasing a company’s operating scale, making processes more efficient to reduce rework, and stepping up efforts to automate manual procedures. IT is essential to all these efforts.”

See the full article here.

But what if there’s no cash to make an investment? You will want to keep your up-front capital expenditures to a minimum and retain maximum flexibility. Let someone else make the capital expenditures for you (hardware, software, software development, data center, etc.). Then buy this software as a service. Or, better yet, get it for free.

NextMark is committed to helping you get through these tough times and to come out of it stronger than ever. Despite the rough economy, we are ramping up our research and development investments on your behalf. How can we help you?

$250,000 FDIC deposit insurance – who’s paying for it?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

140pxusfdicseal_svgAn unexpected piece (to me, anyway) of the recent bailout plan was raising the amount of FDIC insured deposits from $100,000 to $250,000.  This is the amount that is safe in the event the bank fails.

This is a good thing, right?

But then I go to wondering… who asked for this? And who is paying for this? I don’t yet have an answer for the first question, but yesterday I got the answer to the second question along with a fees change notice from Bank of America:

"FDIC Assessment: The FDIC has reinstated the deposit insurance fund premium which applies to all member banks. This is a reminder that we base our FDIC assessment on deposit insurance costs which may include federal deposit insurance corporation (FDIC), financing corporation (FICO) assessments and other charges provided by law.  Out FDIC assessment has increased.  The charge can be offset with an earnings credit on eligible collected balances.  The assessment is subject to change from time to time without additional notification."

So, in other words, you and I are paying for this extra benefit we did not ask for.  The $100,000 limit was working just fine for me with deposits well below that number.  This new change only benefits a minority of the population – rich people (partnerships and corporations were already covered up to $250k prior to this change).  But all of us are paying for it. 

So this got me back to my first question, "who asked for this increase?" The cynical side of me tells me the banks/FDIC have been looking for an excuse to raise this limit and the bad economy provides a convenient reason.  It’s a great way for the FDIC to increase their revenues dramatically overnight and for the banks to get extra security overnight.  How does this change help to "jump start" the economy anyway? 

Businesses have been using the economy as the reason for making all sorts of decisions that would be difficult otherwise, such as layoffs to clean out the "deadwood."  Is this change to the FDIC limits another example of a convenient excuse?  Or is this prudent financial policy?

This FDIC increase is supposed to be temporary until the end of 2009, but I will bet it will be extended indefinitely.

Your thoughts?