The Most Overlooked Digital Prospecting Method

Joining conversations and contributing value — without expectation or trying to sell yourself. This is what generates sales leads on digital/social platforms, like LinkedIn. Right?

Meh. Not really. Like most advice coming from self-appointed social media experts, it’s not that easy to reach and qualify top-level decision makers. However, there is a better way: providing incentive for prospects to talk about themselves. In fact, it’s possible to help them qualify or disqualify themselves as buyers of what you’re selling. Fast.

Is LinkedIn Effective for Prospecting?
For 95 percent of sellers invested in LinkedIn Sales Navigator, it’s been a bust. Identifying leads in the vast LinkedIn database has proven effective. But sparking conversations?

Not so much.

“We are reviewing tens of thousands of C-level profiles per month and it’s clear C-level are not engaging,” says Simon Marley, CEO of Growth Logic Ltd.

Mr. Marley is matching LinkedIn profiles to a database of C-level contacts. He reports:

  • top executives are hiding the fact they are Officer level on LinkedIn
  • 90 percent of executives show no signs of activity in the past 30 days on LinkedIn
  • 2 percent will add their email address or contact details to their profile
  • a huge number of C-level people are not listed on LinkedIn.

“Our experience shows C-level buyers are on the network but they are not engaging with other members,” says Marley who notes that most companies using LinkedIn to sell to other companies don’t want to be sold to via the platform.

A Better Prospecting Method (and Why It Works)
Your prospects want to talk about their pains, goals, fears or urgent objectives. We all live in a world filled with uncertainty. Bottom line, all humans love to talk about themselves.

We are self-centered creatures.

Here’s the rub. Think about it like a first date. The more you talk about yourself the faster you:

  1. get comfortable with talking more with the person who is listening;
  2. start discovering reasons why you want to talk more, or not;
  3. realize if you are willing to act on your challenge.

Once a prospect starts realizing why they want to continue the discussion everything gets easier. Because why a buyer wants to talk more is connected to one thing — purpose.


3 Ways to Introduce Augmented Reality in Your Direct Mail

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very savvy when it comes to direct mail and technology. Although I use them a lot now, I was a late adopter in scanning QR codes. So when augmented reality (AR) first came along, I was a little skeptical that I would ever use it, or care about it.

Now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m very convinced that it can really make some direct mail campaigns stand out, and provide a more enriching experience with print materials for customers.

At our Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk Virtual Conference & Expo in March, Cindy Walas of Walas Younger Ltd. delivered a good overview of AR’s capabilities. She’ll get into more of the nitty-gritty how-to’s at next month’s Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference.

But ahead of that, I thought I’d provide a quick look at some mail from Who’s Mailing What!. Here’s how a few marketers deal with a steep learning curve in getting customers started with AR.

1. Make It Easy
Don’t assume your audience knows what to do. You have to tell them or show them what app to download, and from where. And customers need to know what content is enhanced with AR on the pages or panels of your direct mail piece. Icons are a simple but effective way to designate them.

Ikea_031This key is a good example I found from the 2015 Ikea catalog. It not only explains the basics of how to identify AR content but also what types of experiences customers can have.

2. Make It Worthwhile
Your customers should know that the additional content they can access may be worth their time and effort.

Raymour_01Home furnishings retailer Raymour & Flanigan regularly sends out a direct mail style guide that provides customers with something of value — ideas on home decorating — as well as drive traffic to its brick-and-mortar stores and website. As this page from a recent issue shows, the AR symbol promises additional value.


Kirkwood Direct is largest service provider that offers comprehensive and effective end-to-end direct marketing communications solutions to their clients. It offers various services like Data Management/ Data Acquisition, Commercial Printing, Mailing Services, E-marketing and many more. Call (978) 642-0300 or visit site.


Cutting Through the Mumbo-Jumbo of Search

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, semantic search, Hummingbird and Rank Brain are just part of a dizzying array of technical terms and reserved words used by search professionals at the developmental and marketing levels.

These terms, at their very base, all refer to processes and technologies used to determine if a page on your site should return as No. 1 in the search results.

It is my contention that this bewildering and ever-growing vocabulary can be easily turned into operational SEO, if the site owner simply focuses on a few clear principles and then executes against them. This may sound simplistic, and it is at the 20,000-foot view. Look out — the ground-level view is much more complex. Here are the principles:

Search Is About Users Wanting to Find Your Site

If you are an e-commerce vendor and have on offer a nice selection of desirable merchandise, then the task is straightforward.

You must make sure that your site clearly conveys what you are selling — more clearly than your competitors do, or Google will put them ahead of you.

This requires a single-minded focus on making sure that your users know what you have on offer, can find it on your site, and that your content and navigation facilitate the process. Focus on what you are selling, and on guiding the customer to your merchandise.

Search Is About the Customers, Not About the Company

I once had a strange experience evaluating a business-to-business site. After reading the entire site carefully, I had no idea of what the company did. I actually had to call the site owner and ask for the elevator pitch on the company.

The company had a talented and experienced management team (or so the site said). There were lots of references to Six Sigma and lean manufacturing, as well as an impressive list of clients; but nowhere was it clearly stated what the company did.

The content could have applied to dozens of different manufacturing companies. They did not have a search problem — an SEO problem. What they had was an internally focused site that did not consider who would want to find it, and what the searcher coming to the site might need or want.

The business wanted more customers and had built an impressive site in hopes of attracting more customers, but they had forgotten about what the customer might want.

Takeaway for Marketers
Years ago, when sites were little more than brochure-ware, the website functioned as a corporate capabilities document. Some of this thinking still leaks into site development.

Search is then expected to be layered on top of the final construct. This is backward.

The searcher should be front-and-center if you expect to garner lots of traffic from search. Every decision should be made with the finder, the searcher, and the end-user in mind.

Search Is About Words and Content

Until artificial intelligence advances to a non-verbal level of understanding, words and content are essential for guiding users to what they want. It does not matter if the searcher is using a voice or a keyboard, words will be streamed together to articulate, however poorly, what the individual wants.

If you want searchers to come to your site, you must make sure that your content meshes with the words a searcher might use. We have freighted this process with the terminology like keyword analysis, but it is really much simpler in principle. It requires an understanding of your user’s intent and the building of a rich vocabulary for describing what a searcher might want to find at the site.


Kirkwood Direct is largest service provider that offers comprehensive and effective end-to-end direct marketing communications solutions to their clients. It offers various services like Data Management/ Data Acquisition, Commercial Printing, Mailing Services, E-marketing and many more. Call (978) 642-0300 or visit site.


‘Unboxing’ Is So Hot Right Now

Fun fact: Unboxing, or unboxing videos to be more clear, is nothing new. I figured the phenomenon was a couple of years old, but nope, I was wrong.

When googling “trend of unboxing videos” I came across this article, “Unboxing Videos: The Latest Internet Trend That I’m Behind On” from Information Week, dated Dec. 12, 2006.

You read that right … 2006. People have been filming themselves unboxing products for a decade, and it’s not getting old. Originally started with the filming of opening packages of hot new tech and gadgets (such as a PS3 unboxing video that gained over 71,000 views between Nov. 11, 2006 and Dec. 7,  2006), it still goes strong in the tech community.

Seriously, check out the awesome UNBOXED video series from fellow editor/vlogger Rob Stott, including the one below that gets major Sass Marketing points for featuring a little “Say Anything.”


Kirkwood Direct is largest service provider that offers comprehensive and effective end-to-end direct marketing communications solutions to their clients. It offers various services like Data Management/ Data Acquisition, Commercial Printing, Mailing Services, E-marketing and many more. Call (978) 642-0300 or visit site.


3 Reasons GIFs Have a Place in Your Marketing

Okay, before we start, is it tomato or tomahto? Potato or potahto. Is it GIF or JIF? The creator of the format called Graphics Interchange Format, Steve Wilhite, says “jif” like the peanut butter. I’ve always said GIF with a hard “g.” The battle over how it’s pronounced is documented very well in a NY Times article “Battle Over ‘GIF’ Pronunciation Erupts” … but I’ll still say GIF.

The GIF format created in 1987 was popular due to its wide support across browsers and email clients. And in the early days, the animated GIF was one of the primary ways to add movement to a Web page.

We’ve all seen them. Flashing letters. Hokey cartoons. The dancing baby. Today, these are distractions and lack a certain classiness. Kind of like using WordArt.

7 Up SpotDrudge SirenDancing Baby gifEmail me mailbox openUnder construction gifMy advice: Don’t do this today. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t use an animated GIF, it just means you need to use them in a more sophisticated way and with an appropriate animation. An animation that will enhance your message, not distract from it. Here are three reasons to consider the use of an animated GIF in your marketing messages:

1. Instructions/Training

Macaw demonstration gifIn this example, software company Macaw uses this GIF to demonstrateone of the features in its software. This is an excellent way to show a feature without forcing someone to watch a video or have to scroll through three to four static pictures. It quickly shows functionality.

You can use this type of animated GIF in an e-newsletter, too. Imagine showing a feature for a new version of software as Sprout Social has done below. It’s a case where the animation enhances the message.

Sprout Social gif2. Subtle Sense of Reality

Headscape homepage gifHeadscape, a digital media company in the UK, has a very subtle animation on its home page featuring an office scene (I highly suggest checking the site out via the link, since the image above is static and not animated … we weren’t able to capture the GIF). Notice the subtle movements of the pen and the person sipping coffee. I find these wonderful surprises.

Taking this one step further, you can create a cinemagraph, an animated GIF usually made from high-end photographs. The next two examples show how you can enhance a photo with either dramatic movement in the case of the Tokyo GIF or the more subtle Taxi Reflection. In both cases the animation enhances the viewing experience in an elegant way.

Tokyo cinemagraph

Taxi cab window cinemagraph

Who Holds the Keys to Your Marketing Kingdom?

With our heavy dependence on websites for brand building, lead generation, new product launches and e-commerce, you’d think there would be a set of best practices for maintaining the keys to that kingdom.

If you’re reading this post, then stop for just a minute and run a quick mental audit on the various stakeholders who keep your website alive and healthy. Can you name the company that hosts your website? Where is your domain registered? Who is doing the website maintenance? Who handles your e-commerce payment gateway? Do you have links to all of these sites and a list of all the log-in credentials for each of these pieces of the puzzle?

I recently met a small business owner who had entrusted the design, build and maintenance of the company’s website to a small two-man digital agency — and shared a horror story with me.

It seems she left all the “details” up to the agency. She didn’t know how the website was built — whether it was template or custom code; she had no idea how or where or even who had registered the domain. She didn’t know the details of how the website was maintained — she knew who to call when she had a problem, but trusted that those she paid would take care of her needs. And then one day, that little agency, was gone.

No one answered the phone. No one returned her calls. No one answered her emails for help. She literally had no idea where to turn, and yet she needed her digital storefront maintained or she’d be out of business.

As she told me her story, I realized the same could be true for many other businesses. And, after asking around, it seems her story is not uncommon. When it comes to a website, many business owners entrust an employee, yet don’t ask for a list of service providers, links and log-in credentials so they can maintain a record as back-up. What would they do if one day that employee failed to show up for work?

With all of the digital security risks, it’s a good idea to change passwords regularly. Do you have a system to ensure you get the new password each time it gets reset by your internal or external team?

Don’t get held hostage by an outside partner or internal employee. Don’t risk your brand’s storefront. Stop reading this blog and get the keys to your marketing kingdom before this day is over. You can thank me later.


Kirkwood Direct is largest service provider that offers comprehensive and effective end-to-end direct marketing communications solutions to their clients. It offers various services like Data Management/ Data Acquisition, Commercial Printing, Mailing Services, E-marketing and many more. Call (978) 642-0300 or visit site.


The Not-So Dog Days of Summer for the E-Commerce SEO

For many businesses and individuals, summer is a time for vacations and refreshment while the weather is good and extended school vacations open up time for family time. In my almost 20 years of working with e-commerce sites, I have yet to find that summertime is time when the living is slow and easy. The retail e-commerce calendar is so compressed and focused on the October-to-December selling season that summertime is site development time. Any site enhancements, redesigns and relaunches must be completed with adequate time for testing and rollout before the critical autumn selling season. This usually means that August and September are very busy for organic SEOs, with clients making significant changes to their sites for the upcoming holiday season.

The amount of work that the SEO must be involved in depends largely on how extensive the changes are. For example, a reskinning of the site without any fundamental changes may require just a brief review. Implementing a new architecture or platform takes substantially more SEO time and resources. Unfortunately, it is humans who develop sites, and humans make mistakes when they rush or are distracted. I’d like to share a couple of small human errors that had big consequences. They were all created by hurrying to meet a deadline.

First, the Site Must Be Indexed

With Google’s advanced technology, site indexing is no longer the wait-and-see game it was years ago. With a combination of site maps and the tools made available to Webmasters, it is virtually impossible – unless you are on vacation and not watching the tools – to pull off the stunt a client of mine did some years ago. I was called in to help solve a problem. The problem articulated during the sales cycle was simply: “Please, SEO, answer why my lovely new site has no traffic from search?” The answer was very simple. It took me just a few minutes to figure out that in the excitement to launch the new site, someone had forgotten to remove the small line of code in the robots.txt file that warned the spider not to traverse the site while it was under development. This simple oversight was costing the company both revenue and momentum during the run-up to the selling season. Even though development and testing environments have come a long way since this incident occurred, it points up how easy it is to make a small mistake that has consequences.

Second, Get Dirty With the Code

Among my many hobbies is gardening, and I love to dig in the dirt. Organic SEO requires that you dig in the code as vigorously as you might dig in a garden. This is particularly important when a site undergoes major changes. Again, it is the little things that can create havoc. One client launched a major new section to the site and complained that in the early stages when business was up, the new section just wasn’t performing, particularly in search. Again, a quick look revealed that someone, another pesky human, had failed to implement the analytics tracking codes on the new section. After the codes were added, it quickly became obvious that the new section was, in fact, performing outstandingly well. These and many other similar incidents have made me very cautious about sites making changes during the summer. My mantra for site changes is: Review the code, watch the changes and don’t go on vacation when the site is about to launch or relaunch.


Kirkwood Direct is largest service provider that offers comprehensive and effective end-to-end direct marketing communications solutions to their clients. It offers various services like Data Management/ Data Acquisition, Commercial Printing, Mailing Services, E-marketing and many more. Call (978) 642-0300 or visit site.