Ask The Expert! Q&A with The Greatest Minds at DRMG

Ask the experts at Canada's largest direct mail provider how to maximize the results of your direct marketing campaigns in Toronto and across Canada.

It’s been said that you are considered an expert when you’ve spent ten years specializing in a specific industry. At DRMG we have been your direct marketing specialist for over 18 years, you can say that we know a thing or two about direct response marketing. Our team can help create build the best campaign needed for your business, big or small! We sat down with our direct marketing expert and Group Publisher Dave Vander Ploeg to get the inside scoop on creating amazing campaigns for clients. So let’s ask the expert!

Do you think an ad needs an offer in order to be successful?


It really depends on a business category and business size and what the customer is looking for in the way of the results. We have customers that run nothing but nice, top-of-mind awareness-based ads or image/brand building ads and also have customers that are critically reliant on coupons and immediacy of redemption, getting ‘feet in their seats’ or ‘bills in their tills’ type advertisers.

They want to be able to have that immediate need-want fulfilment. You know, when we take a look at it, if you have a $1500 ad and you have a customer who’s taking a look at that $1500 and he’s saying; “Hey, that’s my mortgage. That’s my rent. That’s my payroll.” And you’re asking them to entrust that to us.  They want proof, tangible proof that the ad is pulling, and nothing is more tangible to them than a pile of redeemed offers, a stack of coupons.

They may move as time goes on into more general advertising or more top-of-mind awareness advertising with us. TOMA or top-of-mind awareness is a fantastic way of advertising, just getting your brand out there, getting your image out there; getting your phone number in front of people often is enough.

And then we have some sneaky hybrid types of ads that are going to have all of the looks of an image-based non-coupon-driven ad but are going to have some special features. Whether it is a dedicated 1-800 line that they can see or they get phone calls coming in, they can count how many phone calls came in to make sure that the ad is producing.  Tangible proof with a disguise.

And we have other companies, window companies, furnace companies, etc. that are just pushing the customer service route, they’re not putting a coupon in, they’re gonna say that “Hey, we have x-number of years of great customer service, great customer branding. If you are in a need for our products, please come on talk to us. Please come and call on us.” And that is all the advertising and all of the quote / unquote “couponing” that they want to do.  Just a general call to action.

Can clients target their ads effectively?


Yes, we have many options and its one of the ways that we tried to differentiate ourselves from our fellow advertisers out there is that we are concerned NOT so much when we start with the customer as to what is the budget, BUT rather, what is their marketing plan, their message! We’re going to ask a couple of questions. What is your marketing message and where do your customers live?

Why? Because from our point of view, it’s more important to find out where your customers are existing and living and finding how to target them, where we have to target them, and once we understand that then we’ll figure out what the message delivery vehicle needs to be, what size of ad, or which one of our platforms you will be pushed into.

Now for targeting, we can take a look at many different ways to look and track down your customer. Some of them are going to be on psychographic or demographic profiles, how much of your customer’s ability is relying on income do we have to target; Are you a day care? Are you looking for people who have children under the age of 10 or under the age of 5 with two or three plus people living in that house so that we know that his family’s living there? So that we can go or we can target very accurately the exact customer specifications.  We’ve had customers come in and ask us to target for a hearing care center. We want to look for people over the age of 55 living with two people at the house so that we’re not trying to attract families but more seniors with an income of X# of dollars to go after hearing aids, or for what’s the spoken language of the house for targeting a telephone company that wants to tailor-custom shared media products campaign looking for English as a primary language but also with a secondary language whether it’s Italian, whether it’s Portuguese, whether it’s Mandarin so that we can target it on those neighbourhoods and not waste their shared media products dollars but target officially and effectively.

For some restaurants, it’s not going to be about so many demographic factors as location factors, what’s the geography. So for a Pizzaria, they might want to be focusing solely on a 1 to 3-kilometre radius around the Pizzeria, and they might want a direct all of their mail into a specific neighbourhood to watch how the delivery drivers or driving or make sure that “Hey, we don’t want to include anyone in the first half kilometre around our location.” but we want to go after people living 1 kilometre to 3 kilometres away to try to attract new business to our place of business.

Target and identify the customer first, create message second, pick ad vehicle and tailor the budget last.

Why do you think shared media products is so popular?


Direct results. Direct response. You know, it’s not just our name; it’s the rationale behind shared media products.

A small to mid-size business can put out a piece of mail today and have an instant result for this weekend.

It may be a great ego-stroke to do a local radio or local TV campaign for your business with the advertiser as the ‘star’ spokesman but will it target and pull? The reality of advertising today is how do you break through the clutter and find your audience’s door, how do you target that door? How do you target your customers? You can say there is a huge percentage of the marketplace locally that’s listening to that radio channel but is it tracking to your customer base? Let’s look at the radio.  The problem is the average household has half a dozen plus listening devices for music. In my own truck, I have satellite radio. I have gone on extended trips where I pick one channel. I listen to that channel all the way to the cottage. I get out. I have that same radio at the cottage and I never hear a commercial all weekend. So, how are you targeting me? But radio targets the workplace!  Does it? If you’re listening to workplace radio it might, but well if you listen right now, we don’t have music going now in the background. So, when are your customers tuning in? And the other thing is I listen to a certain genre of music, my wife listens to something else, my kids definitely listen to something else, so how do you target a family? The same problem exists with TV. How do I target a piece of local news or a local TV station when I have hundreds of channels to choose from? What is the guarantee? Now that’s not saying it doesn’t work fantastically for larger businesses that can saturate and Coca-cola, and they can put TV campaigns on multiple channels and multiple different times. But it doesn’t really work as effectively for Fred’s windows if Fred’s windows is trying to target homeowners in Hamilton, Ontario.

How do I target that? You target it via Canada Post, via shared media products, by looking at where your customers live and putting a piece of mail into their mailbox.

Why should the writers, or designers or anyone else involved in the creative process care about the response rate?


That’s an excellent question. The staff that we have here have been handpicked and trained over numerous years to be message creation specialists. There is no “Coupon U Design School”. There is no subset at Sheridan College or any other design college on how to design direct impact advertising. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. There is a lot of very fantastic focus put on designing big brand style ads like for the big car dealerships and for GM, they come up with a nice over-reaching brand idea. The type of advertising that we’re looking for is very specific. We want a high impact, a high overt or subvert call to action being built into the ad that says, “Hey! Pick up the phone and call now.” Whether screaming that, “This coupon is good for the next 96 hours!” Or being a little bit coyer about it stating, “Hey, this offer is valid for the first hundred customers.” Or very specific, “This offer expires in 4 weeks.” Or very generic, “Hey, we’re having an anniversary sale. Come on up for a picnic and hotdogs this weekend.” It all depends on what our customer needs are, but we have designed tens of thousands of category-specific ads, and have proven design templates that stretch back over the last 18 years that are specific for each category, that even a newer designer working here can take it to look a look, can examine the different ads that had succeeded in this brand category over the last decade and analyze; What is the headline? What’s the common theme? What’s the common call to action? That we can pinpoint in a way to do proper advertising. So in that, they do care because the more return that we can get a customer, the more customer is in our 80% repeat advertising category, the more staff that we have to hire. We are one of the largest employers of graphic designers and customer service representatives working in the advertising field in Canada.

Stay tuned for more ‘Ask The Expert’ sessions with direct marketing specialist Dave Vander Ploeg! Please email any questions you have about direct marketing and shared media products. We are your message specialists and will stop at nothing to help your small business grow.


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