Author Archives: jonmccoy858

5 Tips for Value Engineering Your Print Projects

Are you familiar with value engineering? It’s a fancy way of saying that you are scrutinizing every aspect of a project, whether a building renovation or a print campaign and making sure that you are maximizing the value of every dollar. Sometimes less expensive options can get the job done without sacrificing quality. Here are five ways you can value engineer your next print project.

  1. Bump your color down. If you have a three-color project, consider dropping down to two colors. With the creative use of screen tints, you can often create a similar look for a lower cost. If you have been printing simple documents (such as forms) in two colors, consider dropping back to black ink only.
  2. Bump your color up. This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you have a three-color project, it is often more cost-effective to bump to four colors because our press is already set up and running other four-color jobs. If we can include your job in a gang run, you can often save even more.
  3. Measure twice, cut once. This old adage applies to printing, too. Doublecheck your art files and proofread carefully. You can avoid many service charges by making sure you’ve prepared your artwork correctly and caught every typo.
  4. Clean up messy lists. List cleansing is not exactly exciting, but it can reduce your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you aren’t sending mailers to nonexistent addresses or people who don’t live there anymore.
  5. Think outside the format. Just because you have always used a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Why not experiment with other formats like postcards and see whether you get the same or better response rate? Testing is the key to effective marketing…and saving money.

Looking for ways to value engineer your print projects? We have lots of ideas. Let us help!

 

Advertisements

Securing Your Customers’ Loyalty

Your customers are a hot commodity. Everybody wants them. So how do you keep them loyal to you? Make your relationship so great that they don’t want to go anywhere else.

  1. Market in the age of “me.”

Know your customers well enough to give them a personalized experience. This goes beyond targeting with basic demographics like gender, age, and household income. Look at the channels your customers respond to, when they make purchases, and what they buy. Acting on this data helps your customers see that you know and care about them. It helps with cross-sells and upsells, too!

  1. Coupons galore!

Consumers have a love affair with coupons, including mobile. According to Juniper Research, mobile coupons are 10x more likely to be used than printed coupons.

  1. Don’t be channel agnostic.

Know which channels your customers are most likely to respond to, then use them. If a customer requires two emails to respond but responds the first time to direct mail, get them on the “mail first” list. If someone else is more likely to respond to an email than a printed newsletter, get them on the “email first” list. Keep your branding, message, and imaging consistent regardless of channel.

  1. Ask their opinion.

Use response cards, personalized URLs, and other survey mechanisms to get your customers’ opinion on products, services, and potential business changes. When one specialty retailer wanted to give its location a facelift, it used a targeted direct mail piece with personalized URLs to ask its customers about products and services they wanted but the company didn’t offer. It got an earful! The retailer incorporated the most popular suggestions, and its sales soared.

  1. Remember to say “thank you.”

Everyone likes to be appreciated. Send a personalized “thank you” letter, postcard, or other mailer once in a while. Attach a no-strings coupon or discount just to engender their goodwill . . . and you will.

Gaining customer loyalty doesn’t have to be rocket science. You just have to put in the effort.

Got Relationship? It’s the Key to Nonprofit Fundraising

Pop quiz: What is the factor most likely to impact a person’s willingness to donate to a nonprofit organization? According to a survey by YouGov, it’s relationship. Key to this relationship is helping donors feel great about their donations and see how their giving is making a difference.

How do you deepen your donors’ relationships with you? Get to know them. Use surveys, third-party data sources, pop-up web forms, and other methods to gather information about your donors that you may not already have. This information can be used to tailor your communications in ways that are most effective.

Say you are providing services to underprivileged children around the world. If your survey reveals that potential donors are in the medical field, for example, you might emphasize the value of their donations to fight disease or provide clean water. If, on the other hand, donors are teachers, you might highlight the ability to give the children good educations. Or you could provide the same messaging to both groups, but use different imagery.

Not everyone wants to take the time out of their day to fill out a survey, so if you are going to ask people to do so, give them something of value in return. “Value” doesn’t have to mean a monetary incentive, such as a gift card or entrance into a drawing. It can be something as simple as exclusive insight into a project you are funding (“Respond to our survey and receive a link to an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of our volunteers at work”).

Donors give because it makes them feel good. The response incentive needs to reflect that motivation, and it will be different for every organization.

Need help creating a donor survey to further the mission of your organization? Give us a call!

 

Does Your Multichannel Strategy Need an Update?

When was the last time your print marketing strategy was freshened up? When was the last time you looked at your creative approach, value proposition, and media mix with fresh eyes? If it’s been a while, maybe now is the time. Here are three areas to consider.

  1. Does each tactic prove its worth?

Technology is cool, but don’t throw new things into the mix just for the sake of doing it. Test, evaluate, and incorporate new components in ways that create results.

Say you make your first contact with a customized postcard, direct mail letter, or self-mailer that drives the reader to a personalized URL.  Offer the option of connecting to the site by either entering a web address or scanning a QR Code.  Track your metrics to see which channel recipients do and do not respond to.

No matter which response mechanisms you use, be sure to look at more than top-line numbers. You might think that a response rate is “low” until you discover that it gets the most responses from a segment of your target audience that is particularly important to you.

  1. Demographics are important — go further. It may be tempting to base your marketing efforts on the most readily available information, such as gender, age, and income. For the best results, however, take it a step further. Seek to understand what your prospects care about.Today’s consumer wants to be an individual, not a segment.
  2. Track and measure your results. Which elements of the campaign do you track? How do you determine a “response rate”? Is it a click or a scan? Is it the completion of a form or a purchase? Connect your marketing goals with clear metrics, so you know which of your marketing efforts are working and which are not.

Marketing is about results, and consumers often respond to different tools and tactics at different times. Track, test, and measure so you can keep up.

 

3 Tips for Maximizing Results with Print + Email

Combine direct mail with email is a great way to increase response rates. Here are three ways to manage the timing to turbocharge your results.

  1. Use email to follow-up to nudge response.

Email makes a great reminder for your direct mail pieces. Drop your postcard or letter. Then, while the piece is still fresh in people’s minds, use email to nudge them to respond. When one manufacturer wanted to invite customers to an in-house seminar, for example, it paired a dimensional mailer with two follow-up emails. The company received an 18% overall response rate.

  1. Use mail tracking to optimize email timing.

Using mail tracking services, you can determine when the mail piece actually arrives at the recipient’s home or office, then time your email to arrive at the time that testing has determined will be most effective.

One B2B marketer split its email blast into two groups and conducted an A/B test. The first blast arrived on a predetermined day regardless of when the mail piece actually arrived. In the second blast, the mail drops were tracked and the email was timed to arrive exactly one day later. The timed follow-ups showed a 4.7% lift in response.

  1. Send email first to save on postage costs.

Did you know that you can optimize your postal costs by sending an email first? Anyone who responds to the email blast can be removed from the direct mail list. This saves you print and postage.

In one alumni campaign, a university sent personalized emails based on area of study and graduation/reunion year.  It followed up with a direct mailer personalized with the same information, but only to people who had not responded to the email. Not only did the university save money on print and postage, but it achieved an 8.5% response rate.

Email makes a terrific partner to direct mail campaigns, whether sent in advance of the mailing or as a follow-up. Looking for ideas for making the ideal one-two punch? Give us a call.

Is Social Media Print’s New Best Friend?

While print and social media may compete for your marketing dollars, they don’t have to compete for your customers. In fact, using them together can make your marketing more effective. Let’s look at five ways print and social media can work together.

  1. Print drives traffic to social media.

How do you drive traffic to your social media sites? Often, it’s with print. Whether it is through direct mail, store signage, or company invoices, print is often your customer’s first exposure to your social media presence.

  1. More channels help you reach more people.

Even in today’s tech-driven world, not everyone uses social media or uses it on a regular basis. Use print to ensure that you are reaching the largest swath of your audience as possible. As the old adage goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

  1. Say it again . . . and again.

Consistently, studies show that reinforcing your message through multiple channels increases brand awareness, heightens engagement, and boosts response rates. The combination of print and social media, along with other traditional and digital media, is more effective than any single channel alone.

  1. Boost credibility.

Survey after survey shows that consumers still trust print more than they trust online media. A survey conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design in coordination with ExactTarget found that even Millennials are more likely to be influenced to make purchase decisions based on communications they receive by email and direct mail rather than through social media advertising.

  1. Print has staying power.

Your message on social media might stay for a few hours, then gets buried under the avalanche of other messaging. Print has staying power. Your direct mail piece might live on someone’s desk or bulletin board for weeks or months.

Using print and social media isn’t an “either or” proposition. Understanding when and where to use each channel is the key to getting the best results.

Paper 101: What Different Terms Actually Mean

When asked about the details of the paper stock you are choosing for a print project, do your eyes glaze over? Do terms like basis weight, points, and color cast sound like Greek to you? If so, here is a quick list of basic terms to help you better understand the process.

Basis weight is the weight in pounds of a ream (500 sheets) of a paper at its basic size, or the size of the uncut sheet supplied to the printer. For example, the basic size of book paper is 25 x 38 inches, so a ream weighing 70 pounds would be 70-lb. paper. Sometimes metric is used: 70-lb. book paper is equivalent to 104 g/m2.

Cover, card, and other thick stocks are often specified in points, which refers to the thickness of the paper. This is often abbreviated “pt.”— for example, “8-pt. cover.” One point is 1/1000th of an inch, so an 8-pt. stock is 0.008 inches thick.

Paper grade refers to the end use of the paper. Bond is used for letters and documents, book paper is used for books, offset is used for offset printing, and so on. Digital presses generally have their own grades. Thicker grades include cover, bristol, tag, and index.

C1S and C2S refer to coatings. Paper is often coated during manufacture, which improves the reproduction of fine halftone screens and color fidelity. C1S means “coated one-side,” which is useful for labels, packaging, and other materials destined for single-sided printing. C2S means “coated two-sides” and is preferred for two-sided commercial printing.

Brightness refers to the percentage of light reflected from the sheet’s surface. Basic white copy paper has a 92 brightness. Brightness by component wavelength (red, green, or blue) is also determined, as paper can reflect different amounts of certain colors, imparting a color cast to a printed piece if you’re not careful.

Paper can bring life, texture, and beauty to your projects. Want to learn more about how different choices complement different projects? Let’s talk!