Monday, March 31, 2014

Considering direct mail advertising? Here's the 6 formats that get results!

There are many different formats and designs to choose from when planning a direct-mail campaign. Finding the right format for your offer, niche, and budget is critical to the success of your campaign. Below are some of the most popular mail formats...

1). Letter package. The most common format is a basic letter package. In general, the package would consist of a letter, an order card or form, a brochure, and the outer envelope. Sometimes, there's a lift note included. A lift note is a little note (perhaps 6 x 9 inches) that looks very personal--and may even be made to look as though it's been written out by hand on stationery.

Some marketers do interesting things with the envelopes by making them look "official." They may put words on them like "Verified Mail" and "Confirmation Number." Or they may create a sense of urgency with words like "Express Letter Service," "Rush," and "High Priority Contents." These are all ways to make sure your package gets noticed and moved to the top of the pile.

2). Self-mailer. Self-mailers are very versatile, and there are a variety of ways you can use them. They're mailed just like a magazine. There are many types of self-mailers, but here are three favorites:

Slim Jim. This ranges in size from 6 x 10 to 61/8 x 111/2 inches. The J. Peterman catalog is famous for its use of the Slim Jim format. There's a quality of elegance to this size and shape.
Magalog. The size is around 8 x 11 inches. It's floppy, full of color, and made to look like an actual magazine--but it's not. It's actually a sales letter. This is very commonly used in health supplement and nutritional marketing.
Digest. It looks like a little booklet, kind of like Reader's Digest. The size is usually around 6 x 9 inches. This kind of piece is very appealing to people. It feels good in the hand and looks like it would be fun to read.

3). Postcard. Generally, the least expensive type of direct-mail format is a postcard. Postcards are like self-mailers but with a lot less sales copy. You get the benefit of the prospect seeing your sales copy right away instead of having to open an envelope. Your prospect can read the headline and see what the offer is at a glance.

4). CD mailers. This format is really a cross between a standard mail piece and dimensional mail. It mails flat, but when it's received, you can feel something lumpy inside. That's what helps get this mail package opened.

The mailer should include a short letter or lift note and be personalized. But don't present the offer in the letter. If you do, the prospect will have no reason to listen to the CD and will completely miss the most powerful sales tool in the package.

The CD mailer can deliver a powerful message. Not only do you get to connect with prospects through a letter, they also get to hear your voice and listen to your enthusiasm about whatever you are offering. Make it easy for prospects to respond by including a phone number or web address on the CD.

5). Dimensional mail. If you want to mail something that's really going to stand out in the mailbox, then dimensional mail is your best option. Use dimensional mail to get people's attention in hard-to-reach niches, such as medical professionals or business executives who have gatekeepers who screen their mail.

Dimensional mail has a much higher opening rate than traditional direct mail, and it's easy to see why. A mail package with something lumpy inside will spark the curiosity of the person receiving it.
Dimensional mail can be used very successfully by small businesses targeting a small customer file. If you're looking for a high response from 500 to 1,000 people and you can afford a higher mailing cost, then dimensional mail is definitely the way to go. It will get the customers' attention and get them to respond.

6). Shock-and-awe package.
This marketing method is an elaborate package that you send to people who have specifically requested information about your products and services, and/or have already placed an order with you. The idea is to exceed their expectations, engage their interest, and build their loyalty--and perhaps even a sense of obligation to you--by sending them a package of materials and goodies that's unexpected and so impressive that it takes their breath away.

These packages should include as many items, and as wide a variety of items, as possible. You want it to be exciting to go through and look like there's a lot going on there. Whatever you put in your package should be branded with your name and logo. You want the recipient to think of you every time he or she uses your mug, looks at your imprinted calendar or reads through the materials you sent.

These packages can be expensive to put together. But they also can be one of the best ways to spend your marketing dollar.


Friday, March 28, 2014

To Samsung's surprise, the Galaxy S5 has hit the market early.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is on sale now in South Korea, two weeks early - much to Samsung's surprise.

The S5 is set to go on sale around the world on April 11, hitting shop shelves in 150 countries before the month is out. But the wait is too long for impatient South Korean carrier SK Telecom, which has made the phone available today for around 866,800 won.

Korean networks were keen to get the S5 into the hands of phone fans early because they're not allowed to sign up new customers in parts of April and May, as punishment from the government for illegally subsidising new customers. The sanctions mean SK Telecom, KT Corp and LG Uplus Crop would have had to sit on their hands as the S5's official release date came and went.

So SK Telecom has defied Samsung and started shifting the S5 early. "We just wanted to provide the device to local users as soon as possible. It is for the good of our subscribers," an official from SK Telecom told Korea Herald.

Samsung released the following statement: [we have] "provided mobile carriers with a limited number of units for marketing and pre-sales activities, but the decision to release the device early in the Korean market was made by the mobile carrier itself, independently of Samsung. We express our regret at this decision and we are working to verify all the facts."

It's a heck of an audacious move for a mobile carrier to risk its relationship with the world's biggest mobile phone manufacturer on its own turf - and it sets a heck of a precedent. Networks and carriers around the world must be very curious to see what will happen next.

Source: CNET

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to get rich. Finally, we have the answer!

Ah, the age old question. How does one become rich?

Well…..I hate to break it to you, but if you are reading this because you specifically googled “How to get rich”, I would be happy to sell you some self-help books. Many of the people selling books that tell you “how to get rich” got rich by selling books that tell people “how to get rich”.

First off, I am not rich. That Nigerian Prince never fulfilled his end of the bargain and my “Jump to Conclusions Mat” never took off. (Credit to the movie Office Space).

In all seriousness, some people who go into business for themselves often start with this question. However, I do not believe that many of these folks last long. If becoming rich is your only motivation for starting a business, you are going to be pretty disappointed. Most successful entrepreneurs started their companies for freedom and because they believed in their product or service and wanted to radically change the marketplace. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be rich and it can happen if you work your butt off and play your cards right but it is not going to happen overnight. Getting rich takes hard work, risk, dedication, perseverance, intelligence, tact, and sacrifice.

Everyone wants to be rich. Have you met someone who wants to be poor? There is no reason that you cannot become rich. In fact, it is up to you. The road is paved but you must figure out how to get to your destination, no maps, no GPS; you don’t even have headlights on the car. And to make matters worse, you will have people trying to carjack you on your way because they want to be rich too.

If you have an idea and want to make it a reality, contact IES. We will help you through it the right way. We can't guarantee you'll be rich, but if you really put your mind to building your business, the possibilities are endless.

IES, Inc.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Target Hack: The Movie...coming soon to a theater near you.

Does the computer breach at Target have the makings of a movie? Throw in a shotgun-toting security analyst, Russian hackers, drugs and a SWAT team and Hollywood appears to think so.

Sony has bought the rights to a New York Times article about Brian Krebs, the security blogger who was the first to expose December's security breach at Target.

The article, "Reporting From the Web's Underbelly," was written by Nicole Perlroth and details how Krebs' blog about cybercrime has prompted criminals to hack him repeatedly, send heroin and excrement to his home and falsely accuse him of murder.

"A lot of what Brian does would scare the hell out of traditional newsroom editors," Russ Walker, Krebs's former editor at The Washington Post, said in the Times article. "I don't think he crossed the lines journalistically, but he was living a different type of experience."

The movie is expected to be a cyberthriller written by Richard Wenk, whose credits include "16 Blocks," "The Mechanic" and "The Expendables 2."

Krebs himself seems amused by the notion that his life and unglamorous work may soon be dramatized by Hollywood.

"Judging from accounts of the screenwriter's other movies, if this flick actually gets made someone vaguely resembling me probably will be kicking some badguy butt on the Silver Screen," he wrote Friday in a post on his security blog.

"I still have yet to work out the details with Sony, but beyond remuneration, I would be delighted if I could influence the selection of the leading man," he added.

"In the past week, I've been told I look like both Jim Carrey and Guy Pierce, but I'm not so sure. But if I had to pick one of my favorite actors, I'd love to see Edward Norton in the role."

As many as 40 million customers had their personal information compromised in the Target breach. Krebs found out about it through sources in the hacker underworld and was the first to contact Target about it.

Source: CNN

Monday, March 24, 2014

Microsoft will break into your Outlook, Hotmail, and instant messenger accounts if it deems necessary.

The company's ability (and willingness) to take such an approach became apparent this week. Microsoft admitted in federal court documents that it forced its way into a blogger's Hotmail account to track down and stop a potentially catastrophic leak of sensitive software. The company says its decision is justified.

From the company's point of view, desperate times call for desperate measures.

"In this case, we took extraordinary actions based on the specific circumstances," said John Frank, one of the company's top lawyers, in a blog post Thursday night.

According to an FBI complaint, Microsoft in 2012 discovered that an ex-employee had leaked proprietary software to an anonymous blogger. Fearing that could empower hackers, Microsoft's lawyers approved emergency "content pulls" of the blogger's accounts to track it down. Company investigators entered the blogger's Hotmail account, then pored over emails and instant messages on Windows Live. The internal investigation led to the arrest on Wednesday of Alex Kibkalo, a former Microsoft employee based in Lebanon.

Although the move could be perceived as a breach of trust, Microsoft says it's allowed to make such unilateral decisions. It pointed to its terms of service: When you use Microsoft communication products, (Outlook, Hotmail, Windows Live) you agree to "this type of review ... in the most exceptional circumstances," Frank wrote.

Microsoft's legal team thought there was enough evidence suggesting the blogger would try selling the illegally obtained intellectual property. In such instances, law enforcement agents would typically seek a warrant, but Microsoft said it didn't need one. The servers storing the information are on its own property.

Ginger McCall, a director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said those actions are deeply troubling, because they show "Microsoft clearly believes that the users' personal data belongs to Microsoft, not the users themselves."

"This is part of the broader problem with privacy policies," she said. "There are hidden terms that the users don't actually know are there. If the terms were out in the open, people would be horrified by them."

Microsoft recognizes that it's a sensitive topic, especially as the nation grapples with revelations about the extent of warrantless surveillance on Americans by their own government -- spying that Microsoft and other major tech companies have loudly criticized.

That's why Microsoft is instituting a new policy: In the future, it'll loop in an outside lawyer who's a former federal judge and seek his or her approval.

In a move that might be deemed ironic, Microsoft will now add its own internal searches to its biannual transparency reports on government surveillance.

Source: CNN

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Attention Netflix users: beware of new scam.

A new phishing scam targeting Netflix subscribers preys on our blind trust of customer service representatives when it comes to our personal information.

Users being targeted by the scam will see a phony webpage modeled after the Netflix login page. When a user enters Netflix account info, the scam site claims that the user's Netflix account has been suspended due to "unusual activity" and then provides a fake customer service number. When the user calls that number, a representative on the phone recommends a download of "Netflix support software," which is actually remote login software that gives the scammers complete access to your computer. The scammers may also ask for copies of photo IDs or credit cards.

Here's the fake page that users targeted by the scam see after they've attempted to enter their Netflix login info:

A good rule to remember is to not be too trusting when it comes to giving out personal information. Always avoid letting someone you don't know remotely control your computer, don't send pictures of your ID or credit cards over the Internet and be sure to double check URLs in the address bar of your browser. Also, anyone can look up the real Netflix customer service number and see that it doesn't match the scammers' number.

Source: Huffington Post

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mission Impossible technology is coming to life in this new cell phone.

Boeing is set to debut a new secure phone for government agencies and defense contractors that will self-destruct if it's tampered with. It just won't be won't be quite as dramatic as the ones in Mission Impossible. There won't be any smoke or explosions, but the contents of the device will be completely erased.

 "Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable," explained a company filing with the Federal Communications Commission, posted on the FCC's Web site Wednesday.

The company is giving few details about the phone, which will be called "Boeing Black." Pricing and an exact release date have yet to be disclosed, though it is expected to be out by this summer. But it won't be available your local Verizon  or AT&T storefront.

"It's geared towards defense and security customers. It's not aimed at the consumer," said Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Yeamans. The phone will use Google's Android operating system, but calls and stored data will be encrypted.

Above: Boeing Black cell phone
Source: CNN