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travel (industry) tips: how to heat up your mid-winter marketing

It’s that time of year: when the post-holiday dust settles and those mid-winter blues kick in. For many, this means it’s time to get away – to enjoy a change in scenery or an infusion of warmth – while they count the days until spring arrives.

If you are in the travel industry, it’s also a critical time to market your services. Not happy with the engagement your marketing campaigns have been yielding? Here are a few tips and strategies to help optimize your effort and maximize your response:

  • For starters, make sure each of your marketing channels is operating at peak performance. 90% of travel bookings are done from a desktop, while planning searches are spread between traditional computers and mobile devices. So:
    • Make sure you will be found: Check to see that your ad words are up to date and broad enough to capture qualified leads. Don’t forget negative ad words to weed out unwanted clicks.
    • Optimize your data. If you have an in-house customer list, update any address changes.  You can also perform a customer profile (more on that later.)
    • Don’t lose hot leads: Check all buttons and forms to make sure everything is working correctly.
    • Be useful: Keep your website and social media pages current with the latest travel tips and trends. Make it easy to get more information and even easier to book.
    • Stay engaged: Potential travelers who request more information will not wait long for a response. Whoever is responsible for responding to queries must check the Inbox regularly and get back to people quickly. Instant notifications are great for staying on top here!
  • Target your message, graphics and special offers directly to the interests of each prospect. You have eight seconds to capture your audience’s attention. To do this, you need to target each customer sub-segment as specifically as possible. This brings us back to the data. Once your in-house database is clean and up to date, you should append key demographic indicators to gain more insight into who your customers are and how to divide them into smaller market segments. This way, you can tailor specific marketing messages to each group. Travel segment breakdowns to consider include:
    • Special Events: Customize your pieces around key events such as a honeymoon, a milestone birthday, a destination wedding, or school breaks for families and college students. You can append demographics for your customers that indicate a 60th birthday, the ages of their children, or the fact that they are newly engaged. For prospects, data can be obtained with this information included.
    • Travel History: To appeal to past customers, center your timing, message, and offer around when and where they usually travel.
    • Budget Sensitivity: Customers who love a deal are often a good segment to cultivate. Individuals who are retired and do not have limitations on when they travel also are good prospects for deals. 
  • Incentivize a purchase. Stand out from the competition with a strong call to action.
    • For most travelers, a trip is one of their biggest annual expenditures. So they typically spend a great deal of time researching to get the best value for their dollar. Inspire them to stop searching and start booking by appealing to their pocketbook with a limited time offer like free cancellation or best price guarantee.
    • Research shows that for the right deal, 30% of leisure travelers will book a trip when they were not planning to! Your marketing plan should include special promotions and offers for your prospects and customers all year long.
  • Multiply your hits. Utilize as many channels as possible (as long as they are relevant to your audience), combining both a hard and soft sell (push vs pull). Some examples:
    • Make sure you promote your offer in the channel most preferred by your customers and prospects. Direct mail, email and Facebook ads are all good options. Google ads are great for getting attention at the first inquiry, but some studies have shown that individuals will go straight past the ads to the listing. Choosing strong Google ad words and increasing your bid price during a campaign may be a better way to go.
    • Post helpful travel planning hints via your blog or an infographic on Facebook. This is another way to keep prospects engaged while they are in the planning process.
    • Publish online reviews. In a recent report, 93% of consumers said online reviews impact their purchasing decision. Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are perfect channels for posting customer testimonials with either pictures or video.
    • Consider a drip approach using several channels, such as direct mail, email and social media advertising. Here’s how: make the first hit a teaser, the second an enticing offer and the third a “last chance” offer with an added incentive to take action.
  • Remember: Timing is everything.
    • It’s critical that you not only hit each customer segment with your message during the booking cycle – but that you reach them before your competition does! Putting a smart, strategic plan in place and developing your ads in advance will help you get a jump on the busy season and keep your marketing efforts on track.

Long story short: focus on the fundamentals! A solid marketing strategy and clear, consistent messaging will engage current customers, attract new travelers – and entice them to keep coming back!

understanding nonprofit postal permit benefits can mean lower cost, faster delivery & increased donations

Understanding the benefits of your nonprofit postal permit can save you marketing dollars and impact your bottom line. Here are a few tips, things every nonprofit should know before mailing:

  1. You do need to consider post office options – The USPS has entry discounts for mail delivered to distribution centers, which can reduce your postage budget by 15% – 25% for larger quantities. Check with your direct mail vendor to be sure they are using this option to get you the very lowest rates. Essentially your mail will be trucked by private carriers to your local USPS mail distribution center making you eligible for lower postage and faster delivery.  A win-win!
  2. You don’t need to watch your weight – The USPS allows those mailing with nonprofit status to mail up to four ounces for a single flat rate, so don’t try to stay under one ounce. Here’s an opportunity to share important details on how contributions are helping your organization’s mission, that ultimately will lead to broader appeal and hopefully higher donations. More for less!
  3. You do need to watch your content – If you have a sponsor with a special offer to be included in your appeal be sure there is no commercial component. An offer by a sponsor to donate 10% of their sales may not pass the USPS nonprofit “sniff test”. Your direct mail professional should be sure that the USPS Mail Acceptance Unit approves the offer well in advance of your execution and mail date so you can avoid costly delays. If you find out you don’t qualify once the mail is at the post office you either have to delay the mailing and reprint everything (which is a cost) or mail at the higher postage rate. The differential can be multiples of what you have budgeted, eating into your contributions dollar for dollar.

promark is taking this month to salute all of our nonprofits who work so hard to be first responders and advocates for those in need. Thank you for all you do!

think globally, direct mail locally . . . when location matters

When location, location, location is key to your marketing success, direct mail provides business owners with a distinct advantage. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Better Exposure – Direct mail is experiencing a resurgence. While the difficulty of cutting through the sheer volume of email and social media marketing could be a key player in the change, there are other findings. According to United States Postal Service Research, 67% of consumers see mail as being more personal than the internet, 55% actually look forward to receiving it, and individuals spend approximately 30 minutes viewing their mail at any given time (significantly more than the time they spend reading digital advertising). Other findings, such as those resulting from a neuroscience case study found that the physical contact with marketing offers, such as direct mail, leaves a much deeper and more personal impact on the recipient than digital marketing.
  • Optimal Geographical Targeting – Unlike digital, print and other forms of advertising, direct mail GPS style targeting allows you to pinpoint a geographical location not just by radius or zip code. You can actually target areas on specific sides of major roads or other obstacles that while they may be in a desired radius they create geographical resistance.
  • Continually Emerging Prospects – Rather than remailing an entire location to make sure you reach new residents, direct mail offers the opportunity to specifically target just new arrivals, or “new moves”, in between your larger campaigns.
  • Personalized Messaging – The combination of smaller, more targeted prospect pools and the advent of variable data have made it easy and more affordable to personalize your message to the recipient based upon a variety of attributes such as age, gender, interests and need. This powerful combination results in ideal relevancy to your prospect.

Combine a compelling message, visual appeal and a strong call to action with a direct mail campaign and you can significantly boost your brand’s imprint on your prospective customers.

get the most out of your marketing budget by optimizing AdWords performance

AdWords are an absolute for facilitating search engine results, a priority in any good marketing strategy, but without proper monitoring a company can find itself outspending their budget and not getting the results they want. There are many facets to AdWords that need to be scrutinized when evaluating the success of your strategy, but here’s a few hints for maximizing your results and minimizing your marketing costs:

Check the performance – Look at your reporting regularly to evaluate what keywords are performing well and what keywords are not. Your quality score is a good guide, but remember that the score is made up of three components: click through rate, relevance and the landing page experience.  Make sure you look at each of these components individually and make the necessary adjustments.  If you can’t get all three to optimal quality, two out of three goes a long way to getting your score up.  Also, keywords that don’t perform well can actually be added to your negative word list.

Remember the negatives – make sure you address the negative AdWord list in addition to your selected AdWords. What you don’t want is just as important as what you do (words like “free” are generally not something you want associated with your products or services).

  • Brainstorm variations of your keywords that buyers may be searching for that would waste a click. An example would be beach bags. You would want to eliminate all other types of bags, like garbage bags.
  • Be sure to include singular form, plural, alternate phrasing and synonym matches for your keywords.
  • Negative keywords and broad match are a common combination to ensure the widest possible relevant reach, but be careful not to have any overlap with your regular AdWords or your ad will not show.

Try branded keywords – for example, let’s say you sell the infamous widgets. Consider adding a branded keyword, such as Wanda’s Widgets for your customers who may be looking for you in particular.  This will guarantee they find you before another widget company gets seen first.

Modify your bids – Look at how your bids are performing and tweak them to work the best for you. You can tweak your bids by AdWords, day of the week, time of day and even location.  This is a great way to maximize your marketing budget’s performance.

up-to-date makes a website great!

Everyone knows the importance of having a website, but did you know that it’s equally important to keep it up to date?  It’s not enough to simply publish a website and leave it stagnate for viewing.  In today’s world of status updates, sharp search engines and countless mobile devices, your website needs to do more than just exist to win people’s attention. Here are just a few of the many reasons why:

  • Maximize SEO – Search Engine Optimization is often thought about in terms of keywords. While having the right keywords on your site will help you optimize search engine results, it’s only part of the equation. Search engines are also programmed to seek out the most relevant content – and part of this includes being fresh and up-to-date. Making updates and publishing new content will help make your website more appealing to search engines’ algorithms, making it more likely that you’ll rank high in potential customers’ search results.
  • Stay Competitive – If you’re not developing new content for your website, you’re only allowing room for your competition to gain an advantage. If they’re constantly posting new content, your site will look inactive and not relevant by comparison. This makes your competition more appealing to prospective customers. Why give them the upper hand?
  • Look Alive – A stagnant website could articulate to potential customers that your business is doing poorly, or worse, is not in operation anymore. By making frequent updates you demonstrate that your business is alive and well, which will help make it more appealing to prospective customers. One way to accomplish this is by integrating a social media feed into your site. Social media is a must for marketing your business, so consider creating (and frequently updating!) a company Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest page to give your brand some personality; and then add the links to your website so prospective customers can easily check them out.
  • Be Compatible – As of this date, approximately 66% of all web searches are done via mobile device – and that percentage is only expected to increase. Mobile is the direction the world is moving in, and it’s in your best interest to move with it. A website designed before the rise in popularity of mobile devices may not be compatible with them. Updating your site frequently and testing it on various devices ensures that it will operate effectively across platforms.
  • Track Progress – Simply put, more content leads to more data. It’s easier to detect trends in what your audience takes interest in if you’re able to measure their interaction with your website over time. Do you get more site traffic when you post a blog, or add new pictures? If you post new content every weekend, do you see a spike in site hits?  Frequent updates can help you better understand your audience so you can keep them engaged.

Having trouble coming up with ways to keep your website up-to-date? Consider adding a blog or a news section to your website. Alternatively, you could share images or videos of relevant content – think how-to’s, or a “meet the employees” page to add a personal touch to your website and showcase the monthly activity of your business’s human side. There are countless ways to keep things fresh without having to change your whole website. You just have to think outside the (text)box!

We hope you found this helpful!


but I advertise with direct marketing . . . so why blog?

You may wonder, what’s the point behind a blog. It does not appear to be a direct marketing effort like email or direct mail campaigns. As a matter of fact, it can seem like a lot of work with a questionable payoff. However, blogging is a terrific and critical complement to your direct marketing campaign efforts for a number of reasons:

  • It’s a softer sell – Blog posts are meant to be educational or informational. You’re giving your readers a look into your area of expertise, providing them with tidbits of information very useful to them, which will lead them back to your site to find out what you have to say next.
  • It positions you as an expert – While there may be many others who do what you do, they are not you! As you continue to blog, your readers will look to you as the expert in your field and naturally come to you when it is time to purchase.
  • It increases your search engine ranking – Update content on your website, sprinkle it with hard-hitting keywords, and you’ll find yourself quickly rising to the top of search engines when a potential customer searches online for your services.
  • It creates a buzz about your company on social media – You write a great blog post. You share it on your Facebook page. One person sees it. She tells two friends, who tells two friends, who tells two friends…you get the idea. Blogging will get your company’s name out there, just by posting them to your social media feeds.
  • It is direct marketing – Remember, anyone who comes to your website looking for the services you offer is a potential prospect. Your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter followers are both current and potential clients. Your blog allows you to make a direct touch sharing the value of your expertise.

Okay, so there’s still that “whole lotta work” thing! The good news is it doesn’t have to be a lot of work, and the payoff – hands down – is great! How to get started?  Here are some pointers:

  • Don’t be intimidated: Just get started. Think about some of the questions you often get asked by your customers. The answers to these questions make perfect blog posts.
  • Don’t make it difficult: Remember, you’re the expert, so you don’t have to do any research to write your post. You already know your stuff!
  • Don’t make it too long: Anything over 500 words is probably too long, and you’ll start to lose readers’ attention. So keep it short and simple, better for both you and your readers.
  • Do be yourself: You don’t need to wow your readers with big words or industry jargon. Just write in your own voice like you’re having a conversation with a client. This makes the process easier for you, and more helpful to your readers.

Remember, blogging is an important and easy way to complement your direct marketing campaign, and the reward is spectacular!

Now, go blog like the wind!

direct mail marketing: relevant and on the rise

For a long time, email marketing has been viewed as the inexpensive, expedient way to get the attention of potential customers.  While many companies have continued using direct mail marketing as a part of their marketing mix, for many years its use was on the decline.  However, there’s an old saying, “everything old is new again,” and that seems to be the case with direct mail marketing. The seemingly old fashioned method is enjoying quite a comeback these days, and it has everything to do with email overload.

Many professionals claim that it is becoming increasingly difficult to empty their inboxes; as a result, the block and delete buttons are becoming the automatic reaction to email inundation. Much to marketers’ chagrin, that often means that their mail lands in the trash bin before it is read, or worse, it goes directly to junk. According to a study by Demand Gen, B2B marketers are responding by planning to incorporate more direct mail into their marketing efforts this year. Currently, 15% of study respondents are using direct mail, the study says, and that number is projected to grow. The report showed that 21% of marketers say it’s their most effective conversion tactic, tying it with social media. Similarly, the Target Marketing 2016 Usage Study shows that 25% of respondents plan to increase their direct mail marketing budget.

As you make your plan to use direct mail marketing in your 2017 campaign, here are some tips to help you make the most of your efforts:

  • Tailor the direct mail piece to the prospect’s interests and needs in both graphics and content – be relevant and resonant! Make the message targeted specifically to them.
  • Develop a packet of direct mail pieces that can be mixed and matched to suit the needs of different prospect pools. You can approach your prospects with much more flexibility.
  • Include your web and all social media addresses in your message with a strong call to action. Make it easy for the prospect to move to the next step in the sales process on the device of their choice. And, you will be able to capture their activity, which will guide your subsequent appeals.
  • Remember, direct mail works well as a tool for warm prospects. Use direct mail later in the sales process in addition to the initial prospect acquisition. Digital methods can drive leads, while a follow-up with direct mail can help maintain them.
  • Research how prospects have engaged with your business online when using direct mail later in the sales process. For example, what content they’ve viewed or downloaded from your website and how they interact with you on social media. Then fit the direct mail piece to that research and where they are in your pipeline.

Whether your market is B2B or B2C, it is important to include direct mail as part of an integrated marketing campaign that includes email, social media, and online marketing.

Happy Marketing!!

Google Ad Words: what you don’t want is just as important as what you do

Just like back in the day when every company had an extensive (and expensive!) yellow page presence, companies now know that to be found you have to have a search engine presence. This comes in the form of ad and pay-per-click advertising via the use of key words.  But did you know, as important as it is to have the right key words in order to be found by the right prospects, you very often need negative key words to weed out the wrong prospects.  Both aspects of key word selection determine the effectiveness of your campaign and your ROI.

Let’s use Google Ad Words as an example. Ad Words’ main keyword match options include an exact match, a broad match, a phrase match, and a negative match. Negative matches, or keywords, are what we are talking about and is a pay-per-click advertising match type option offered by most of the major search engines.  Negative match keywords allow you to filter out the wrong audience by indicating what words are not related to your product or business. For example, a business selling wiper blades runs the risk of attracting customers shopping for razor blades or ice skating blades, as the keyword “blades” could be used to refer to any of the three.  Adding negative keys words such as “razor blades” will prevent spending precious pay-per-click dollars on connecting with unqualified prospects.

Here are some things to get you started on setting up negative keywords:

  • Take a look at your keyword list and brainstorm the negative keywords that would apply to your product search.
  • Be sure to include singular form, plural, alternate phrasing and synonym matches for your words.
  • Negative keywords and broad match are a common combination to ensure the widest possible relevant reach, but be careful not to have any overlap with your regular keywords or your ad will not show. For this reason, you may want to consider sticking to an exact match.
  • Analyze the current list of key words you are using. The words that are not performing should also be added to your negative key word list.

If you need additional help creating negative keywords or adding them to your Google Ad Words account, check out this helpful link for more information: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453972?hl=en

Negative ad words are critical for leading the right audience to your website in the most economical way. A little homework will save you a lot of your marketing budget.

Happy advertising!


Thanksgiving family recipe

We wanted to take a break from direct mail, email campaigns, content management, marketing strategies, and all things work related to bring you something sweet and special for the holiday!  Thanksgiving is a time for friends and family to gather together and celebrate their bonds over some good food. In the spirit of both of these things, we want to share one of our favorite family recipes with you all. This sweet potato casserole is so good, you’ll swear it tastes more like dessert than pumpkin pie!


As you enjoy your holiday celebration this year, we urge you to remember those who are less fortunate than you. Consider donating to your local food pantry so that others can have a wonderful meal as well. If you’re not sure where the closest food bank is located, just type in your state and/or zip code on this website and it will tell you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

why direct mail marketing is still a nonprofit’s best friend

Direct mail marketing is a vital component to any nonprofit organization’s marketing mix. While email is used frequently, and inbound marketing such as blogs and social media are growing in popularity and effectiveness, there are still many (often underappreciated) significant benefits to using traditional direct mail marketing – yes, we mean postal mail!

One benefit of direct mail is that you provide the prospect with something tangible.  We know people interact with marketing material at higher rates when they can hold it in their hands, and an effective direct mail campaign can deliver your appeal straight into the hands of your target audience.  Sending something tangible makes your ad more personal, and this is hard to achieve through digital methods of advertising.  Additionally, direct mail can be targeted much more narrowly and directly with broader coverage than digital methods.  This is particularly helpful when segmenting your market based very specific criteria such as location, age, presence of children, income, buying or giving habits, etc.  By targeting more directly your message can be tailored to your potential donor thereby developing a more emotional connection, which is at the heart of giving.

How do you get a direct mail campaign started?  Here are six key components that we identify as making up the direct mail process.  Begin with this, and tailor it specifically to your mission and audience in order to create a maximum-impact direct mail campaign. We could call these components “MMPMFC” for short, but that sounds terrible. So here they are in an “acronym-less” form:

mailing list

A good mailing list ensures that your appeal ends up in the right hands. Your mailing list should be targeted based upon location, household vs. business, giving pattern, or any other attribute that makes up the profile of your donor base.  The end result is you target only those prospects that have the potential to become donors, which makes a more effective and fiscally sound campaign. Knowing (and having a direct line to) your audience also allows you to be extremely customized, so take your time with this step as it will help guide your later decisions.


shutterstock_269497136The message creates your make-or-break moment with your donors and prospects. Even if all other steps are done perfectly, bad content will never inspire giving. Your appeal should be differentiated based upon who you are speaking to, for example a donor vs. a potential donor, or a single millennial vs. a retired veteran.  You get the picture; you can tailor your message specifically!  Consider your audience, your objectives, and your organization’s brand and craft a message that speaks to each individual segment in a tone that resonates the value you offer in addressing needs of the community, and why he or she should donate.   Aim for a concise and visually-pleasing message that will prompt action and provide enough information that it is easy to move forward and make a donation, and make sure your phone number and social media addresses are easily spotted.


Printing is a balancing act. Big, bold and beautiful art is eye catching and appealing, but in a nonprofit environment flash has to be balanced with funds.  Printing can get very expensive, so you must leverage what is practical with what is appealing to donors.  Do you really need four colors on your mailer?  Will fewer pieces still get your message across?  Aim to hit a sweet spot where you can strike the best blend of visual appeal and content with economics, keeping in mind that weight, size and shape of the piece affects the cost of mailing.  Visit the USPS to get more information about mailing parameters and the related costs.

mailing timeline

Consider when your donors and prospects are most likely to give:  the holidays, in the spring, during the time of a significant event.  Perhaps it is better to send your direct mail appeal with an immediate follow-up, or maybe you should space your direct mail appeals throughout the year.  If your appeals include volunteer recruitment, don’t forget donors and volunteers may respond on different time lines.   Determine the most impactful time to send your direct mail appeal in each market segment based upon giving patterns and develop a schedule.


shutterstock_278994758-1Whether it’s a “check-in” or a “thank-you”, follow up is key. You wouldn’t accept a gift in your personal
life without thanking whomever gave it to you, so why should your nonprofit be any different? Donations of time or money are a gift to your organization – make sure that donors know you appreciate it.  Also, if you think someone might be on the fence after your first mailer, a friendly reminder can’t hurt!  In addition, intermittent newsletters with success stories of how donations have helped have a huge impact in building long term giving relationships.


As we all well know, good direct mail marketing is not free but there are many ways to minimize the cost. Evaluate where the majority of your expenses come from, and if necessary, consider using an agency that would have resources available at a lower cost.  Also, be sure to always use nonprofit standard postal rates.  Visit nonprofit regulations published by the USPS to make sure you stay within guidelines that allow you to keep big savings on your postage costs (usually the biggest cost in the direct mail portion of your marketing plan).  Ultimately, the more money you save, the more money you can put back into your community. And who doesn’t want that?

We hope that you find these tips and guidelines helpful in your direct mail campaign!

Happy Fundraising!


Firefighter First Responderspromarkdirect is proud to support many nonprofits of all sizes and missions by providing comprehensive turn-key fundraising packages that help these organizations achieve the highest goals of their campaigns.  Some first responder organizations we are honored to work with include Ambulance Corps, Fire Departments, Police Organizations, Rescue Squads and EMT/EMS Organizations in Bergen County, NJ and throughout the tri-state area.  If you would like to learn more about how you can help benefit these incredible organizations, Google your town name and the organization you would like to help to reach their website.

call 1.800.promark today for a consultation!
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