Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reactive email: 'I wish I'd thought of that!'

Whether or not you have a marketing plan, what do you do when other, unforeseen opportunities arise? I don't mean all those ad sales calls offering you a fantastic price on a quarter page display in the next XYZ supplement. I mean the genuine moments when you see someone else jump in and you say to yourself 'I wish I'd thought of that!'

One of the beauties of new media tools such as email, pay per click advertising and SMS messaging is its immediacy. It allows you to react to the unforeseen, to take advantage of the moment. But with the limited resources most of us have, this means planning ahead. How?

First of all, identify the relevant things that could happen, or will happen, but you don't know when. That's the principle behind obituary writing, for example. Then prepare. Emails can be designed, written and loaded into your distribution system. When the time comes, add the relevant details and send. Google Adwords can be prepared ahead of time and a mere click will send them live.

Some events are predictable and already well exploited: florists, restaurants and chocolate retailers all have Mother's Day, Easter and Christmas firmly on their calendars.

Others need a bit of forethought.

Consider the case of an arthritis charity promoting a natural, drug-free treatment. When are people going to be searching for this on the web? As soon as the next drug scare breaks. The charity could prepare for this ahead of time with pay per click ads to attract searchers to its website and a 'ten top tips' paper ready to email. The plan would be to insert the name of the drug into the ads before sending them live, and to temporarily alter the wording on the homepage email sign-up box to say 'Concerned about (drug name)? Sign up for our top ten tips on how to manage your arthritis naturally'. These two simple actions could take place within minutes and lead to hundreds of new members.

You will be able to come up with your own list of relevant events and the interest angle based on what it is you sell or promote. But here are a few examples to get you going:

Event: The first rain appears after an extended dry period. Interests/angles: umbrellas, waterproof clothing, gardening/planting seedlings, staying in with a DVD, global warming, drought aid for third world countries etc
Event: A hot summer is predicted. Interests/angles: sunscreen, holidays, room fans, barbecue equipment, car servicing, losing weight, summer clothes, global warming etc
Event: England wins the World Cup. Interests/angles: replica shirt sales, pubs, beer, footballing personalities, sports channels, football coaching & places to play, WAG fashions, escape from the footie etc

Have fun!

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