Archive for June, 2012

Why Promotional Products Are Effective Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Even if you have never heard the term “promotional product”, you have undoubtedly used them.  Promotional products usually have a company’s logo on it.  Traditional promotional products include pens, T-shirts, USB drives, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, and more.  Notice that all these items are cheap to purchase and distribute, but are they are all items that are useful in daily life.

Promotional products are effective because they last a long time.  Unlike traditional advertising, which lasts for a few moments, promotional products last much longer.  Because the items are usually small and useful, people are unlikely to discard them.  Why throw out a perfectly good pen or mouse pad just because it has a logo on it?  The person ends up looking at the item more often than they realize.  They subconsciously associate your company with the utility they receive from the item.

Also, even if they do not keep the item, chances are good that another person will use the item.  Pens get borrowed or taken, and other items get recycled either on purpose or by accident.

According to research done by L.J. Market Research, 71% of participants had received a promotional product in the last year.  33% of those people actually had that product with them at the time of the study.

Even during hard economic times, promotional products can be cheaper to order and distribute than traditional advertising.  They hold value because they last longer than regular advertising.

However, choose your promotional product wisely.  Some people stick with the basics: pens, mugs, etc.  You can be more creative (and you should be), but make sure the item is still useful.  Choose an item that reflects a theme for your company in general, or for a particular advertising campaign.  Consider your distribution method, and make sure your target audience (and maybe even beyond) actually receives your promotional product.  To state the obvious, a box full of promotional T-shirts collecting dust in a storage room does not promote your company.

Janet Hill Jackson

Gratitude Marketing Specialist

P.S. Be sure to watch this video


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I Got an E-mail From Jesus Sunday, June 10th, 2012

My spam filter let an e-mail from am “unknown sender” named Jesus get through to my mail box today. My first reaction was to immediately delete it or hit the spam key, but instead I opened it. I thought to myself, “What if…?”

What if the “big guy” had something to tell me? Would he e-mail me like this or would he do the “burning bush” trick? Surely he is hip to the web and the possibilities of social networking. The burning bush is so last millennium (or, maybe older). I suppose Jesus could have left me a voice mail or sent me a text message. He must have many options to call upon us these days.

The e-mail read “Be grateful”. That’s all it said. No link, no parable. It just said be grateful. I paused a moment and then wrote this blog.

Hmmm. I guess I do have a lot to be grateful for—-a beautiful wife of 27 years, three great kids, my health, a good horse in the barn, enough money to do as I please, etc. The list could go on and on. I am truly blessed when compared to the others in the world; I recently read that over 800 million people go to bed hungry at night.

But, wasn’t this just a spam message? If it was just spam, now you understand why spammers spam. This unsolicited e-mail caused me to think and to take action, which is the goal of every spammer—they want to change the world (for better or worse) in some small way.

Essentially, spammers spam because they know that spam works. It may be that one out of a million unsolicited e-mails that only a few hundred people respond to the call to action. That click through rate may be enough for the spammer to feel successful (or grateful).

I responded to the call to action. This time the call was not to buy Viagra or hit on a link to a porn site, but nonetheless I did what the spammer wanted me to do. The spammer made me think.

Or, was it an e-mail from Jesus?

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group


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Smaller E-mail Marketing Lists Are Better Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Contrary to popular opinion, large e-mail databases are typically not better. Often large databases will include “dead” e-mail addresses which exaggerate the “monetary value” of the list.

It makes good business sense to cull your list regularly. This includes a prompt management of “opt-out requests” which are people who are not receiving value from the relationship with you. Move fast on these requests or the recipients will report you as spam. Additionally, a periodic revisit to all opt-in recipients with the request to opt-in again can significantly improve your list quality. Of course, it can make your list smaller.

Here are some additional reasons why it makes sense to cull your list:
– A better list provides better statistics about your list since the dead or unresponsive e-mails are removed. For example, your open rates will be higher. In truth the number of total opened e-mails does not change, but now the open rate statistic is more in tune with reality.
– It makes economic sense that fewer e-mails sent costs less money.
– Your spam complaints will go down since you are not sending e-mails to uninterested readers.
– Improved deliverability should keep you off blacklists.
– Your reputation score should improve.

Thus, smaller lists make good business sense.


John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group


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Personalize Your E-mail Marketing Letters Sunday, June 10th, 2012

A highly effective marketing technique used by successful e-mail marketers is to personalize the e-mail letter. This personalization can be accomplished in many ways.

One way to personalize an e-mail letter is to use the recipient’s organization logo or web site. The purpose of a personalized image is to provide a familiar frame of reference in the most compelling way possible, resulting in the recipient feeling better understood and more comfortable, leading toward better acceptance of the offer.

Personalization can also include personalized subject lines by including information that refers the stated preferences of the customer segment that you are marketing. For example, you can also personalize your e-mail offer by adding a comment that recognizes a customer’s five straight years of patronage. Or, you can refer to recent customer transactions by recommending complimentary products for purchase.

Or, you can incorporate maps or directions to the nearest store or facility. You can reference important dates such as an expiration date. Personalization works because your subscribers feel like they already have a relationship and the dialog is a one-to-one conversation. The goal is for it to feel real and not faked.

The more you personalize your e-mail marketing campaign with information from your database, the more important it becomes to have the correct data. Errors in your data can damage your campaign by showing how poorly you know the recipient instead of how well. Always have default information to substitute in case you are missing data.

You can write your copy so that substituting this default text maintains the flow of the copy. Also, respect the privacy of the recipient and avoid the use of any sensitive information such as financial or health status.


John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

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E-mail Marketing and Children Sunday, June 10th, 2012

For many e-mail and web marketers the youth market represents a major financial opportunity. Yet, the legal risks are high. The website “Xanga” was recently fined $1 Million for COPPA violations, for repeatedly allowing children under 13 to sign up for the service without getting their parent’s consent.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a United States federal law effective April 21, 2000, that applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age.

It states that a website operator must include in a privacy policy that state how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13.

The act applies to websites and online services operated for commercial purposes that are either directed to children under age 13 or have actual knowledge that children under 13 are providing information online. For example:

What this means to the website owner is that you must beware of the underage visitor or registrant. The negative consequences are enormous.

For more information, consult your attorney.


John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

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Writing Great E-mail Marketing Copy Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Writing great e-mail marketing copy is hard work. You can always outsource it to a professional copywriter, but you will discover that the good ones are already booked and that they are very expensive. If your budget dictates doing this writing in-house, here are a few ideas, in no particular order.

Great writing requires great proofreading which is extremely hard work (you can trust me on this one since it is very hard for me). One tip on proofreading your own writing is to read it aloud. This helps you catch dropped words and mistakes. Another method is to have someone else proof your copy.

Remember to run a “spell check”. Run it a second time since errors don’t always get caught in the first pass with spell check (believe it or not).

Timeliness is critical to effective e-mail marketing messages. Current events or news references can add timeliness to a campaign. For example, a reference to the rising cost of gasoline or the price of oil might add timeliness to an e-mail from an auto parts retailer.

Keep the e-mail short. While there is considerable debate in the e-mail community about short form versus long form, you must remember that the e-mail’s purpose is to get the reader to take the next step and click to the website or landing page. From the subject line to the postscript, the e-mail should offer the reader the most relevant information in as few words as possible. Customers are busy and many feel overwhelmed by too much e-mail. Messages that are short and to the point are more likely to be read. When writing e-mail text, try to state the ideas in as few words as possible.

The long form argument is that an engaged reader will want more information now rather than later; if you insist on making them click for more information, they might disengage. Generally speaking, short form is preferred over long form. When in doubt, test both and see what your readers think.

Customers will start reading an e-mail from the beginning and read the introduction to see if it’s worth spending more of their time. Readers tend to pay less and less attention to what is written as they scan more quickly through the rest of the e-mail.

To make sure customers read the most relevant information, put the most important information (often referred to as the hook) at the top, followed by the most important supporting information. Each successive paragraph will receive less and less of the reader’s attention and should contain less and less important information. Bullets and images will help the reader scan and focus on your key points.

John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group


P. S. People always read the postscript—-use it to restate your offer or message.

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Trust Enables E-mail Marketing Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Trust is hard to define, but we know it when we see it or feel it. And this is particularly true with e-mail marketing. The truest measure of trust in commercial e-mail marketing may be the “reputation score” which is calculated by all the individual ISPs.

A reputation score is a complex algorithm used by the ISPs to calculate a score that reflects the sender’s deliverability. This reputation score can determine whether your e-mails will be delivered to the in-box, the bulk e-mail folder, or not delivered at all. The reputation score criteria can include the frequency or history of e-mail campaigns, bounce back percentages, opt-in abuse, spam complaints, sender authentication, accreditation services, and many others.

The major ISP spam filters care less and less about how your subject line reads or the words used. Instead they focus on the sender’s reputation. This applies to Hotmail, Gmail, EarthLink, Yahoo!, and AOL. I have read that subject line words may account for less than 80% of sender reputation score. And this applies to unsolicited e-mails and to e-mails from trusted senders which were opted-in.

Instead of hitting the unsubscribe key to opt out of a newsletter, as many as 20% of e-mail recipients hit the spam key. Why? It is an easy way to end the relationship. This finding is from a recent survey conducted by eMarketer in 2007. This means that companies and individuals are increasingly growing less tolerant of unwanted and irrelevant e-mails.

The key to maintaining a good reputation score may be tied to relevancy. The goal is to be a trusted sender, which is to be the author of an email that recipients choose to open more than once. If your e-mail provides valuable or desirable information to the recipient you will be considered relevant.

If not, you are just spam.


John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

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Inexpensive Ways to Express Appreciation Friday, June 8th, 2012

We all like to feel appreciated.  Think of the last time someone did something unexpectedly nice for you, “just because”.  It probably made you feel great.  And here’s a secret: it made the other person feel good, too!

So, want to feel terrific while simultaneously making someone else’s day?  Here are ____ inexpensive (or free!) ways to express your appreciation for someone, whether it’s your spouse, family member, neighbor, coworker, friend, or even a stranger.

  1. Take donuts or another treat to work for your co-workers.
  2. Wash your spouse’s car.
  3. Surprise someone by taking them to dinner and a movie.
  4. Hand-write a letter or card with a sincere, positive message.*
  5. Leave a love note in your spouse’s pocket, or another place where they’ll find it when you’re not around.
  6. Pick up someone’s favorite treat from the grocery store.
  7. Call someone who lives far away and who would love to hear from you.
  8. Offer to go out for a drink with someone.
  9. Leave a kind message on a mirror with a dry erase marker.
  10. Surprise someone on their half-birthday.
  11. Compliment someone on a physical feature or outfit choice.
  12. Take care of an unpleasant chore you know they hate (like taking out the trash or cleaning the cat litter box).
  13. Run an errand, like dry cleaning or grocery shopping.
  14. Offer to baby-sit or house-sit (but only if you mean it!)
  15. Compliment someone on something they do well (be specific!)
  16. Give out water bottles on a hot day (especially if someone is doing yard work or something physically draining).
  17. Open the door and smile for a stranger.
  18. Tip generously, and add a kind note if possible.
  19. Clean up the house without any prompting.
  20. Let someone else pick the movie at the theater.
  21. Give a gift certificate to a store/restaurant someone likes.
  22. Offer to help with any major project (like moving, etc).
  23. Make their favorite meal for dinner.
  24. At a friend’s house, offer to do the dishes or another household task.
  25. Or, simply someone how much (and why) you appreciate them!

These little things can make a world of difference, especially if you or someone else is having a bad day.  Even if you think people know you appreciate them, show them anyway!

Janet Hill Jackson

P.S. Be sure to watch this video




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Don’t Worry, Be Happy Monday, June 4th, 2012

The quest for happiness dogs many of us.  We read books and blogs, take pills, do yoga, and drink alcohol, all in an attempt to reach that elusive state of contentment that we label as “happiness”.  But happiness is fleeting, and you can’t force yourself to be happy.  Is it futile to pursue happiness?

Yes and no.  Yes, if you fixate on the concept of happiness as a destination or an end-result.  You will almost certainly be unhappy if you approach life this way.  It is not futile to pursue happiness, however, if you do it in a more roundabout way.  That is, you can seek out and pursue habits, activities, and values that lead you to happiness more often.  To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, happiness is not a goal.  It’s a by-product of a well-lived life.

Here are some more tips:

Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel happy 100% of the time.  Negative emotions are a normal and necessary part of life.  Negative emotions or moods are healthy in moderation and are actually quite essential, because they spur us to action.  Without healthy self-criticism, for example, we would never improve ourselves.  These states are temporary, which is important to remember the next time you are in a funk.

Practice acceptance.  Sometimes, you can’t change a situation, no matter how much you’d like to.  Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”  Reframe the situation in a way that helps you grow.  If your boss is overbearing and obnoxious, for example, chances are that you can’t change his or her behavior.  You can, however, use it as an opportunity for personal growth: you can learn to deal with hostile or difficult personalities while maintaining composure and practicing patience.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable.  This is a tough one, because life is harsh sometimes.  Don’t let defensiveness or fear keep you from living the life you want to have.  Love with your whole heart.  Trust yourself and others.  Have big, intimidating life goals – and go after them without holding back.  Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”  Take risks.

Take 100% responsibility for your life.  Happiness takes hard work and persistent effort.  Do what you really, really want to do.  If it’s important to you, make time for it, not excuses.

Practice gratitude.  Make sure you take time everyday to think about everything that is great about your life.  If that feels intimidating, try to think of one thing that happened throughout the day that made you feel happy.  It could be as simple as having a cheerful interaction with a cashier, or noticing that your spouse unloaded the dishwasher.  Grateful people are happier people. Say thank you.

Thanks for reading this blog and sharing it with your friends.


Janet Hill Jackson

Gratitude Marketing Advocate

The BirdDog Group



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