Author Archives: Sue Thomas

Sue Thomas

About Sue Thomas

Beginning her writing career as a journalist, Thomas redirected her writing talents to focus on corporate communications early on. With more than 25 years in marketing and communications, she is continually learning to keep pace with the industry’s ever-changing trends, while drawing on many years of experience working with clients to marry the right message to the right audience using the right format to get the best results. Thomas started with Sherri May & Company in 2005. She manages the day-to-day agency operations, as well as uses strong conceptual skills to collaborate in the development and execution of marketing and communication projects for a variety of clients. Sherri May & Co. is a full-service creative firm and marketing agency, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and founded in 1997. For more information on the company and its team of creative thinkers, visit

Cost Effective Marketing: Ways to Save Money

Cost Effective Marketing: Getting The Message Out For Less

Cost Effective Marketing: The first rule of thumb for anyone in the business of selling a product or service is defining the target market. In most instances, the target market is made up of more than one market segment or audience a company is trying to reach.

Whether you are developing a marketing campaign that speaks to one specific market or to a multiple audiences, you must consider the best vehicles or mediums to deliver your message; and how to successfully communicate the benefits your product or service has to offer.

Once you answer these questions, the focus shifts to creating a message that resonates with your audience, designing a package to deliver that message, and producing a cost effective marketing plan.

One of the difficulties in trying to market to multiple market segments is keeping costs contained.

When the banking industry presented our agency with the challenge of creating a marketing piece to attract and retain new clients, we quickly determined that potential banking customers fell into multiple market segments, and each segment had its own set of needs. Given the need to keep the cost of marketing materials down, our objective was to create a tool that spoke to the different audiences they wanted to reach, without breaking the bank — literally.

After a number of brainstorm sessions, we developed a series of marketing tools or collateral pieces called Financial LifeTimes. The concept provides bankers with four to five specifically-designed and targeted promotional pieces that speak to potential customers during specific stages of life. Educational in nature, the marketing booklets provide valuable information on things individuals should know and do as they plan for their financial future. The marketing series takes clients from early adulthood through retirement, giving bankers a tool that targets in multiple market segments.

Because these tools are “ready-made” and allow the flexibility to be branded and customized, organizations can take advantage of economies of scale. This translates into significant savings on development, writing, design and production without reducing the quality.

At a time when companies need to increase sales but find themselves limited in marketing dollars, it is necessary to get creative in more than design and message. The Financial LifeTimes project is just one example. Using this same concept, with direct mail projects, looking at options like co-op advertising where you share costs with a vendor, or seeking opportunities to cross promote with a complimentary service are all examples of how to stretch marketing dollars.

The key is coming up with new ways to minimize costs while maximizing results.

For more information about cost effective marketing, visit

[stextbox id="grey"]Sue Thomas, a 20-year veteran of marketing, has been part of the Sherri May & Co. team on the Green Bay Take a Step campaign. Sherri May & Co. is a full-service creative firm and marketing agency, headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. and founded in 1997. For more information on the company and its team of creative thinkers, visit[/stextbox]

Marketing, employing certain behavior drivers

Market Like A Pro, Think Like A Scientist

Some might say marketing is a science of its own. During a direct marketing presentation at a recent Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference, one expert claimed we can go a step further by taking a behavioral scientific approach when crafting a direct mail piece, ad, or any form of marketing collateral.

The thought is that studying human behavior and employing certain behavior drivers into your message can help produce a more effective marketing piece to achieve better results. While design is extremely important, the messages we craft — headlines, supporting copy and calls to action — tell the story.

So when creating your next marketing message, think about how you might incorporate these behavior drivers to help entice, encourage and inspire your audience:

  • Use eye magnet words.

Studies show there are words that capture readers’ attention. Here’s a sampling: New, Now, Soon, Free, Easy, Quick, Improved, Sale.

  • Employ the principle of scarcity.

To initiate the desired action, use phrases like: Limited time; Limit 2; Hurry, Offer ends soon; Just 5 days left.

  • Get personal.

Use the person’s name in the copy. Include personal information like the recipient’s past purchases, recognition of children, birthdays, authors they like, or restaurants they frequent.

  • Use social proof.

Social proof is the idea that if they like it, you’ll like it. This can be conveyed effectively through testimonials; and for a more powerful connection, use a testimonial by someone like your target audience. Phrases like: “Professional women across the country use,” “More mothers agree,” “Great for single fathers on the go,” are examples of using social proof.

  • Engage the road sign theory.

Icons and symbols can often make a more lasting impression than words. It works for traffic engineers, so why not marketers?

  • Add a dash of color.

Adding a dash of color has proven to increase the three important R’s: readership, recall and response. In one test, a utility company added a color block to its invoices, which resulted in customers paying 14 days earlier.

  • Provide a reason why.

When you add the word “because” and give readers a reason to believe, they are more likely to respond.

  • There’s power in the little things.

Easy to read fonts are more persuasive. Too much reverse type can cut your response by 50%. Handwritten sticky notes can increase response.

  • Consider the fear factor.

Avoidance of pain or missing out on something beneficial can be a great motivator. Using phrases like “say goodbye to creditors” or “no more pricking your finger” are examples of infusing fear in the message.

  • Use the principle of reciprocity.

Make it easy for your audience to take action. Provide a business reply envelope (BRE), website address, or map showing the location of your nearest store, for example.

The goal is to get consumers to pay attention, to create a relationship with your company or brand, and to ultimately purchase your product or service. As you consider which behavior drivers to use, think about what works best for your industry, your target audience and test it.

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What word gets a better response?


Answer: Get. Earn makes it sound like work and will inhibit response.


Green Marketing

Adding A Splash Of Green To Your Marketing Campaign Can Help You Hit The Right Target Market

What makes marketing a green product or service different from any other type of marketing campaign? In some ways, nothing; in other ways, green marketing can be a different animal. In addition to selling a product or service, green marketing seeks to change the way the buyer thinks about the product or service, encouraging a change in behavior.

Everything from building products and services to automobiles to apparel are now going green. As a result, marketing managers are now faced with the challenge of not just getting target markets to want their product, but also helping them to see value in changing their behavior. But how do you create a marketing campaign that will compel the public to change its view?

Tips to influence change

Don’t just tell how your product is better for me — show me.

It’s not enough to tell your audience your product conserves water or reduces energy. You have to visually demonstrate how it benefits the user. The green company PeopleTowels does a great job of showing its environmental benefits with an image of eight industrial-sized garbage bags filled with paper towels representing the average amount of paper towels a person uses each year. The visual effectively denounces excessive paper towel use and promotes the company’s brand of eco-friendly, on-the-go cloth towels.

Make benefits tangible

We’re asking people to voluntarily change their behavior for the greater good. Make the benefits of doing so too obscure and you’ve lost them. Consider the popularity of the Toyota Prius. In 2010, this hybrid car landed a spot on Forbes’ list of “high in demand” cars. So what is the tangible benefit to driving this eco-friendly cruiser? The annual cost of gas is only $846, which is especially low compared to other cars on the list that ranged from $1,510 to $4,745 annually.

Keep it positive.

Don’t tell your audience what they are currently doing wrong by using other products; show them what they can do to make an impact. People are less likely to listen to your message if you are scolding them. Make the message motivate your target market to do the right thing.

Make it relevant.

Create an emotional connection with your audience that communicates the importance of using your product or service. That communication can take several forms. The company Grass Roots Environmental Products does this by offering products for children and moms alongside other green products to express their interest in child-safety. This allows them to connect with their customers on a deeper level.

The key to a successful green marketing campaign is to appeal to the target audience through messaging that encourages them to take action. Developing a buzz can be an effective tool for influencing others. Building a sense of community — we are all in this together — and showing how your product or service can help, not only provides a reason for change, but the desire to be a part of that change.