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Ron Jacobs - President of Jacobs & Clevenger 

Jacobs & Clevenger provides strategic, creative marketing solutions for multichannel user experiences that transform brands and grow client businesses.

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Ron is a recognized leader in applying database and direct response strategies to branded products using traditional and electronic direct marketing. He has spoken at seminars and events in the U.S. and around the world. Ron is co-author of Successful Direct Marketing Methods, a trade book on the tools and techniques of multi-channel direct marketing, selling more than 250,000 copies worldwide.


Show notes

Part 1

Ron’s Background and Jacobs & Clevenger (01:56) 

Jacobs & Clevenger was founded in 1982. At that time we were a direct mail agency because that was the main tool of our trade. We used a lot of telemarketing and under that, there was a lot of data and analytics. 

At first, I have worked for an agency called Stone Enabler, which was one of the first agencies in integrated marketing. It was bought by Y & R and then I worked for the chairman Bob Stone. 

He wrote the first edition of the 'Successful Direct Marketing Methods’. After that, we started working together, and I have helped with the future editions of the book. 

Direct Marketing Today (03:27) 

The definition I've used for a long time is that it's the interactive use of advertising media to stimulate an immediate behavior modification in such a way that the behavior can be tracked, recorded and analyzed. 

Also, the offline-online divide isn't such a big divide for me. In fact, I see these less divided today than ever. 

What Isn’t Direct Marketing (05:58) 

It is pretty clear to me that most public relations are still not direct marketing. Advertising that marketers use to build awareness is also not direct marketing in my opinion. 

Channels That Go Into Direct Marketing (07:47) 

We still do a lot of direct mail especially with industries such as financial services, insurance, and retail. We are also using Facebook, Linkedin, and other digital channels. We are using them for a very specific purpose - to generate a response. 

The Use of Technology and CRMs (10:04) 

If we start with acquiring a customer that is a perfect tool for either email or direct mail. Once we've acquired them, then we have to onboard them and then once we onboard them, we have to get them to make the first effort or make the first purchase or make the first conversion. 

Then we have to get them to convert again and again. If they stopped buying, we find the way to reactivate them. 

Nobody responds to one effort. So today we're doing multiple efforts, whether it's multiple direct mail efforts, multiple email efforts, multiple channels, or some combination of all. 

Direct Mail (15:18) 

Right now, both direct mail and email are a little saturated. There are different segments of the market, typically by age that we look at. Older consumers still love direct mail. Millennials have started to adopt direct mail despite the fact that they seem to live their lives in this digital world.

The Messaging (17:26) 

The messaging between direct mail and email doesn’t have to be different. The length needs to be different. No one wants to read a long email. In an email, we will typically have two calls to action. In a direct mail piece, we will have at least three calls to action. 

Part 2

Optimization Strategy (02:32) 

One of the problems that we all face is that sometimes we have a lot of data and marketers often get intoxicated by it. Because of this, they try to optimize things that maybe can’t be optimized. 

We spend a lot of time with clients going through the data that they have and trying to identify the optimal data to optimize. 

Using Small And Big Data (04:01) 

Big enterprises have big data and they need big capabilities to sort through all that data. Most smaller firms have smaller needs. The problem with small firms is that sometimes they have too much data and we need to figure out which pieces of data can be used for predictive analytics. 

The Optimization Tactics In The Use of Data (05:47) 

Behaviour is something that I feel very strongly about tracking. I love intent, but the intent is hard to project from. I can't build a predictive model based on what I think someone intends to do. Also, I like to use a lot of predictive analytics in my work because I think that probably takes a lot of the biases we have out of the decision making.

Putting Algorithms Together (07:48) 

I don’t have a data scientist on my payroll. I have got about 30 people that work for us and not one of them is a data scientist, but every one of them knows how to use the data. They all understand the rudimentary aspects of data, so I don't want people to be intimidated by the word algorithm. Data has become second nature to my business. 

Using Data To Simplify And Solve a Problem (13:07) 

My approach is to arm myself with as many skill sets as possible. When I started working in data, there was no way to access data the way we can do it today. I started to take data and break it up into these little pieces.  

The Core Skills Marketers Need In Order To Be Effective In Direct Response Marketing (16:03) 

Understanding data and analytics. KPIs and the math that goes around them. Understanding how to do clicks, conversions and testing those basic ideas. Storytelling has become a very important thing. Content marketing is also a key to a lot of things that we are doing. 

Data visualization is another point.     

We also need the ability to make decisions and decision making has to be learned, practiced and improved. 

The last very important skill is the need for collaboration. Today people work best when they are working on common goals. 

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