Get ready… 2016 will shake up marketing and advertising as you know it.
Online or in print, direct response rules apply to these new opportunities since the rules have more to do with human psychology than technology. Direct response advertising and marketing is always one person communicating to one person.
Take a careful look at the following forecasts and trends for the next year.

  1. An integrated marketing model will explode in 2016

2016 will be the year marketers combine using all to the same targeted names:

  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • Facebook newsfeed
  • Banner ads

With one dedicated landing page, video, banner ad retargeting built upon data modeling and optimized data.
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  1. Data modeling will see giant growth in 2016

As data modeling becomes more sophisticated and scientific in 2016, watch response rates rise even more.
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  1. The integration of direct mail and video – the videolog – will become a prospecting and conversion series testing standard in 2016

The videolog is still expensive, but powerful.
Test it now, knowing prices will fall.
See video briefing here.

  1. The digital video explosion ramps up

Watch Google, Facebook and other media improve their video reach… For example, Google True View (see “The Commercial before the Video”) will see awesome results for marketers.
Personalized videos, informal videos, and customized videos will see powerful results in 2016.

  1. Smart marketers will adjust their marketing based on the 2016 election

Stay away from state primaries – don’t market for 45 days before. (Email me to get a list of the primary dates).
Also, lower or postpone your marketing from September 20 – November 8, 2016 because the election will create higher prices and drown your message.

  1. 2016 will be the most aggressive and stifling regulatory environment in American history

In 2015, President Obama issued thousands of executive orders bypassing Congress… and hurting small business and job growth. Now President Obama has promised to be much more aggressive in all areas of business control and regulation.
With election cycles moving at a faster and faster pace, candidates are already choosing their pet campaign issues for 2016… and creating more regulation is at the top of the Democrats’ list. That’s why economists and many conservative politicians decry the economic growth rate of 2%, instead of 6-8%, and the high unemployment rate.
Watch the FDA, FCC, FTC and other regulatory commissions as they use this time to expand their power in marketing and advertising. Make sure your copy, claims, and testimonials are backed up, proven, and documented. If a bureaucrat doesn’t like what you’ve said, you just might wind up with a freeze on your bank account or an expensive investigation.
Action Items:

  • Become current on the new government regulations that affect your industry. Every marketer has areas open to scrutiny. And all marketers should watch for movement in privacy legislation, particularly postal mailing list opt-ins.
  • Be careful what you say. If a doubt arises about a claim, check with a lawyer before you become a test case for a bureaucrat with too much time and unlimited resources.
  1. Value-added informational marketing will make or break your campaign in 2016

Consumers have more options than ever. A value-added approach in your marketing may be the difference between a sale and a toss in the garbage can or a quick delete. In 2016, informational direct marketing will be the vital key to outstanding response.
In a value-added approach, your prospects receive valuable information during your sales process, and it positions you as the authority on a subject. You’re now perfectly positioned to help them with your product or service.
If your online or email copy is sales hype, you’ll be clicked into oblivion. Worse, you’ll actually be training your prospect to ignore you.
Action Items:

  • Check out the Creative Direct Marketing Group website information archive for tips on value-added marketing. Or call us at (310) 212-5757 and ask about how our V.I.V.A. (Valuable Information, Value Added) strategy could help your business succeed.
  • To learn about our V.I.V.A. system – Valuable Information, Value Added – click here.
  • Check your email communications. Don’t abuse prospects with sales hype. Make each communication valuable.
  1. Peer-to-peer marketing will be an even greater, indispensable direct marketing tool

Some of the most effective advertising occurs when a prospect passes your message on to a friend. Facebook and other social media sites easily allow consumers to be your advocate and give you more credibility.
Take advantage of these opportunities through informational videos, content, and new technologies like Parascope. All three are ways your prospect can take your message and pass it on to a friend.
A good point to remember: prospects are ten times more likely to purchase a product if a friend recommends it.
Action Items:

  • Make sure your site has “Send to a Friend” or “Click to Forward” links on all of your pages and emails. You’ll quickly spread the word about your product, and you’ll get a built-in “testimonial” to boot.
  • Make sure you have video on your landing page. Make it valuable and informational so prospects will forward it to friends. You’ll spread your message (and awareness of your company) for next to nothing.
  1. Email marketers will be forced to adjust their tactics… or be filtered out of business

If you think ISPs and filter technologies have been making the email marketer’s life difficult, get ready. It’s going to get worse… which is why you need the tools that enable you to bypass these problems and get your message out.
Keep in mind, the success rate depends entirely on your copy. If your copy isn’t informational direct response copy, your prospects will unsubscribe and delete, never to return. However, if your prospects receive value-added information with your message – information they want and need – they will keep reading.
Action Item:

  • Make sure your emails contain something of value, not just sales pieces. No consumer will opt out of an email subscription that makes his or her life better.
  1. Renting your postal mail and email database list will continue to be a major revenue earner as specialized marketing heats up

Niche advertising is more popular (and successful) than ever. Your postal mail and email lists will be in big demand by direct marketers looking for specific niches.
You always have approval of the pieces that are sent out, and the rental is for a one-time use. Putting your lists to work will be an unbeatable way to bring in revenue in 2016.
Action Item:

  • Take a look at your email and postal mail lists. Then call Craig at InfoMat at (310) 212-5944. Your lists could add tens of thousands of dollars to your bottom line. We just sent close to $250,000 to one client.
  1. The USPS plans minor reforms… with the goal of another rate hike in 2016

The USPS government postal monopoly is dysfunctional. Congress blocks necessary reform.
And the new legislation in Congress still does not address the justification for the USPS letter delivery monopoly. Congress should repeal the Postal Service’s exclusive right to deliver letter mail. This would lead to competition, resulting in greater efficiency and effectiveness of mail service in the United States. But, despite $5.1 billion deficit for 2015, expect more of the same – including a potential rate hike.
Action Items:

  • Do your testing and marginal mailings in a big way before the new postal rate increase in Spring or Summer of 2016.
  • To achieve lower mailing costs and more efficient delivery, every direct marketer should support congressional efforts to repeal the private express statute that prohibits postal competition.
  1. Direct response copy will be the line between success and failure as competition, skepticism and alternative choices create sales pressure

The average person sees 1,600 ads to a whopping 3,000 ads every single day (think about how many emails you delete per day or banner ads you see). People have become instinctively trained to weed out unwanted messages. Will your message get through? Or will it be tuned out?
Direct response copy makes the difference between hitting the bull’s-eye and missing the mark. Focus your messages with a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and benefit-based, “you”-directed copy. Tell your prospects how you’re going to make their lives better. If they’re swept up in effective direct response copy, your sales will soar… even in the face of stiff competition.
Action Items:

  • Review your current online and hard copy materials. Make sure you’re using solid direct response copy, not anti-marketing copy written by traditional image copywriters, editors and techies.
  • Check out the Creative Direct Marketing Group website (cdmginc.com) for tips on crafting effective direct response copy. We have a library of copy tips that can help you double or triple your response… and each full issue of Direct Marketing Update has a “Direct Response Copy Tip of the Week.”
  1. The shopping cart of the 1990’s is dead – 2016 will see a huge change for marketers

Is your shopping cart another opportunity to make the sale? Or is it a graveyard of lost sales? In 2016, shopping carts will evolve into another direct marketing opportunity. No longer will shopping carts feature a blank techie page with fill-in-the-blanks. The smart marketer will use the following two strategies to raise response…
First, a seamless process of ordering. Every additional click through the check-out process is one more chance for your prospect to get cold feet. Credit card information is saved after the first purchase, so on subsequent visits, one simple click next to a product will order the item. No shopping cart…. Just a completed sale in an instant.
The second strategy is copy and graphic reinforcement. Most shopping carts are real yawners: blank forms that give your prospect every opportunity to walk away from the sale. Make certain there are graphics, testimonials and direct response copy throughout your shopping cart to guide your prospects… heighten their shopping experience… and ensure your sale.
And for anyone who abandons the shopping cart – smart remarketing with banner ads of the product they wanted.
Action Item:

  • Review your shopping cart. If it takes you more than three clicks to make a purchase or it lacks effective direct response copy, call me at (310) 212-5727. I can help you fix it to double or triple your current response.
  1. Maturing Baby Boomers and Generation Xers will change how you position your products

As the Baby Boomers are in retirement (or almost) and Generation X begins reaching their 50’s, smart direct marketers are adjusting their marketing and product mix strategies to take advantage of these new opportunities.
The needs of both groups are now changing as they age. Baby Boomers care about investing issues, health matters and vacation packages.
Generation X has their eye on college, downsizing mortgages and long-term financial planning.
Businesses impacted by these changes must shift their marketing strategies and find the most effective ways to reach prospects. For example: Baby Boomers love premiums. Generation X loves discounts.
Action Items:

  • Take a close look at your product mix. Are you correctly gearing your products for changing demographics? Some of your products may need to be adapted to meet the new psychographic needs of Boomers or Generation X. For example, Jaguar was forced to not only change their marketing strategy, but even the look of their cars to avoid being labeled “stodgy.”
  1. There will be a general explosion of activity as retailers fully focus on direct marketing

The future belongs to retailers who use their databases and web-based platforms and use them effectively. The retailers that flourish will be the ones that gather information on what their customers buy, create special programs to reward their best customers, create customer loyalty and bring back past customers.
Credit card companies and airlines have been offering rewards programs for years. You can generate powerful buyer loyalty from a well-run rewards program.
The future also belongs to the retailers that use multichannel marketing as part of their strategy. With so many buying choices, consumers demand more from the companies they purchase from.
And welcoming – not ignoring – mobile marketing is critical. New technological ways of reaching out to prospects near a store or enhancing the customer experience are critical.
Action Item:

  • Call me at (310) 212-5727 for a free analysis of your retail effectiveness.
  1. Liberals in Congress will try to halt advertising spending as a tax deduction

There are plans afoot by liberals in Congress to remove the tax deductibility of advertising.
Their argument is twofold: First, the government can make more money. The last time this issue was raised, administrative officials claimed the government could raise between $10 billion and $34 billion if ad expenditure deductions were done away with.
Second, the business world would replace the money being spent on advertising with money earmarked for research and other capital expenditures that are more “socially acceptable.”
Expect “antibusiness” advocates to bring up this bill again as a new Congress begins.
Action Item:

  • Keep your eyes and ears open for any potential legislative action on this front. Write your senators and representatives and express your opposition to this type of antibusiness legislation.
  1. The environment will continue to be a major issue, affecting recycled paper and mailing costs and concerns

More than ever, concerns over global warming will drive recycling and paper issues. This will affect paper costs as well as the quality of recycled paper. Take advantage of a public relations bonus by letting your customers and prospects know you’re using recycled paper.

  1. The government market will continue to be a major sales avenue

Business-to-business marketers should remember the government is a great prospect. No matter how the national economy fluctuates, the government market will always need goods and services.
Also, bureaucracies at the federal, state, county, township and municipality levels are on the rise. And as they grow, they have more buying influence. Check out his avenue for expanded sales opportunities.

  1. Magalogs and bookalogs will continue to be profitable marketing tools

While the Internet is a stellar marketing tool, it’s just one element of a smart multichannel marketing strategy. Postal mail continues to be the number one avenue for most aggressive marketers to reach prospects. In an age of skepticism and sound bites, magalogs and bookalogs are an unbeatable, in-depth way to reach prospects.
Magalogs are 4-color sales pieces that resemble traditional magazines. They are infomercials in print. Typically 16 to 24 pages long, they feature one central article with several supporting sidebar articles. With great direct response copy, your prospects will be drawn into the article, and you get an excellent opportunity to make a full pitch for your product or service.
A bookalog is similar but resembles a paperback and typically runs about 100-150 pages long. This type of sales piece has been used for both business-to-business and consumer marketing – including fundraising.
Both of these have immense potential for sales and are a key example of how great direct response copy and strategy can deliver proven measurable results.
Action Item:

  • We have some case studies on our website that can really give you a fresh perspective on direct mail campaigns. Log on to cdmginc.com/cs and take a look at the exciting promotions that can come out of a direct mail campaign.
  • See our video briefing on magalogs and bookalogs here.
  1. The classic internet homepage is officially obsolete – smart marketers will recognize this reality

Smart marketers in 2016 will realize that the one-size-fits-all homepage is a sales depressor. The smart trend now is a move toward microsites and landing pages.
Microsites and landing pages are individual pages geared toward specific products and have definite goals. For example, one page may seek to capture emails for further contact with the prospect, another may focus on showcasing a particular product.
Studies show homepages are stagnant billboards, whereas landing pages have measurable goals and direct your prospect to act. Homepages are navigational nightmares, actually losing leads, sales and profits. Put simple: Homepages are antimarketing; landing pages are direct marketing.
Action Items:

  • Make sure your landing page or microsite has its own URL. Also, it should have no navigation options. It should direct the prospect where you want him or her to go and what action to take.
  • Take advantage of the possibilities with microsites. If your company sells many products, each site can have tailored direct response copy that maximizes your SEO or ad words.
  1. Megatrend: An explosion in international marketing opportunities in 2016

As emerging nations grow, their businesses grow. Limit your marketing prospects to stateside sales and you miss out on massive profit opportunities.
There are three global keys to consider here:
First, there will be an explosion in international direct mail. International mailing lists are more defined and targeted than they used to be. Mailing costs are higher internationally, but so are response rates. Multiple times I’ve done international campaigns, including translating into German.
Second, international buyers are more loyal than U.S. buyers. Once you have them, it’s easier to keep them as customers. Testimonials from international buyers are a great way to establish trust in your company and product.
Third, online marketing has created a surefire way to reach international prospects. Remember: the world still sees American goods and services as the gold standard. Email, banner and facebook ads, retargeting, and more open huge opportunities.
Action Items:

  • English is understood in most of the world, but make sure your copy and shopping care are applicable to both domestic and international prospects.
  • Make sure your shopping car is geared to accept U.S. funds. The dollar is a currency used all over the globe.
  • Your email and websites should have your international prospects in mind.
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