Is Image Everything?

We hired a new traffic manager, recently. Robert Kraus has provided Johnson Direct with some much needed organization and has done a tremendous job in streamlining our work and production processes.

We’ve bantered back and forth about a number of things. He teases me about my conservative, out-dated “old man” attire. I tease him about his Ben Shermans and black horn rimmed glasses. He kids me about my ten-year old Honda Accord. I go right back at him about his environmentally friendly roller skate, a Toyota Echo.

Style and image. They’re all pervasive in society today. You’ve heard the mantra, “Image is everything!”

In my sales position, I get to meet a lot of different kinds of marketers on a daily basis. About three to five times a month, they pose this question to me: “What’s the ‘in’ thing in direct marketing? What’s the magic bullet that’s going to increase my marketing ROI?”

The last five years have seen a lot of marketing “sure” things come and go. E-mail, search engine optimization, ship-shape mail and three dimensional packages are examples. We live in a very segmented environment. Depending on what survey you read, we are bombarded by up to 7,500 media messages per day! Now I can’t use the restroom at the local pub without some ad staring me in the face! We walk around with a day planner, Blackberry, instant pager, and pop-up reminders on our computers — all designed to help us manage our lives better. People take pride in their ability to multi-task and wear their willingness to put in long hours as a badge of honor. The term “24/7” has come to describe a world in which work never ends. Words like “obsessed” and “crazed” no longer describe insanity … they define our everyday lives!

In this environment, how do we as marketers break through the clutter?

People crave simplicity. There is a strong movement in the marketing community of “Going Back to the Basics.” In today’s marketplace, the KISS strategy (Keep it Simple, Stupid) is very effective. Measurable marketers like Johnson Direct like to call it “commonsense” marketing. Compiling a database, creating segments within that database, and developing relevant marketing messages to each of those segments is a great start to a successful, measurable, accountable marketing campaign. The art of writing a good sales letter that answers the questions of “What’s in it for Me?” and “How do I Respond?” is almost a thing of the past.

I need to go on some appointments now. According to Robert, I’ll be pretty easy to spot. I’ll be the one with penny loafers and my blue sport coat riding around in my reliable maroon Honda Accord! But remember … it’s not about image.

It’s about results!

Rob Trecek

Johnson Direct, LLC