Guide to Being Authentic

Whether you are writing copy for direct mail, email, social media, or mobile video, it is important to be authentic. People buy from people, so create marketing copy that is believable and that makes people want to buy from you. But like everything else, being authentic still takes planning. Here are five tips for keeping it real.

  1. Be human. Don’t sound like a corporate brochure. Instead of saying, “We’re going to leverage our core competency to shift the paradigm,” say, “As experts in this area, we’re going to do something new and exciting.” Use common language. Speak in a way that your audience can relate to.
  2. Be passionate. Passion is contagious. When someone argues deeply and passionately about an environmental cause, a weekend hobby, or an outstanding vacation destination, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Even if your product is as dry as Melba toast, find something to get excited about, then write from that source of passion.
  3. Be vulnerable. Studies consistently show that consumers are more likely to trust a company that admits its flaws and failings but is honest about them and works hard to correct them than one who claims that all paths lead to success. Vulnerability is real, and we relate to it. Vulnerability builds trust.
  4. Be honest. Don’t exaggerate the truth, and don’t make promises you can’t keep. If consumers sense that you’re not being honest about one or more elements of your marketing pitch, they will question the truthfulness of all of it.
  5. Have fun. Have some fun in your marketing. Use humor, lighthearted pictures, and an element of surprise now and then. We have enough things in our lives that are dull and boring. Don’t make your product one of them.

 

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Why You Should Be Doing Event Marketing

Event marketing, including trade shows, seminars, and conferences, offers unique opportunities to engage customers and increase the visibility of your brand. Direct mail, email, social media, and other marketing channels each have a role to play in raising awareness about your company, but events have the ability to put everything together in a way that no channel, by itself, can do.

A recent infographic by NCFE (Northern Council for Further Education) highlights three key benefits of event marketing every marketer should keep in mind.

  1. Events humanize your company.

Events do more than showcase your products and services. They showcase your brand’s personality. People like to buy from people, not just companies, so get consumers to like your brand’s personality and you will increase sales and win customers’ long-term loyalty.

  1. Events embed product information more deeply.

Events offer a multi-touch, multi-sensory experience that embeds information more deeply in customers’ memories. Studies of post-trade-show experiences, for example, show that consumers who have physically interacted with a product (such as in a product demo) are more likely to remember that product and remember it in more detail than products they learned about in a passive environment. Events let your target audience engage with your product in a dynamic way that increase their ability to recall it later.

  1. Events let you gather more demographic information.

Events create a fertile environment for gathering contact and demographic information you can use to target potential customers long after the event is over. Use registration forms, interactive booth or seminar games, badge scanning, and other techniques to gather as much information about attendees as possible. After all, they have just pre-qualified themselves as being high-value leads, so take advantage of this opportunity!

Want to learn more about event marketing and how to use booth graphics, displays, and marketing collateral to support your event marketing efforts? Let us show you how!

 

Effective Communication Breeds Customer Loyalty

If your company has high levels of customer satisfaction, they are likely to remain loyal, right? Wrong.

In a customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, an average of 72% of respondents indicated that they were highly satisfied with the products or services received. Yet 88% of the customers surveyed said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!

Many of your competitors likely offer a quality product and service with prices and delivery standards that are similar to yours. In this fiercely competitive environment, how can you continuously attract and win new customers while fostering loyalty among your current ones?

All things being equal, your customers will naturally go where they consistently feel well treated and appreciated.

You care about your clients, but what matters to them is how you show it. Demonstrating their value to you requires more than quality service and good prices. It requires strategic planning. It requires ongoing attentiveness and creativity in the quality of your communication.

Direct mail is often viewed as a way of winning new customers, but its effectiveness as a customer loyalty tool should not be overlooked. It is powerful, relevant, and has a tangible cost. Sending direct mail (especially personalized mail) says to your customers, “You are worth the effort.”

Consider setting up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that will demonstrate at regular, pre-planned intervals that you are sincerely grateful for their business and care about their relationship with you.

Use the data you’ve collected to communicate, cross-sell, educate, survey and grow your relationship with these customers. Offer useful tips, and send newsletters, press releases, case studies, company brochures and timely incentives that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.

Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention efforts too.

Questions to Ask Before Any Logo Redesign

A logo is the most visible graphical representation of a company. It provides an anchor for the visual elements in all of your other marketing materials, and when associated with an excellent product or service, it can carry goodwill and brand awareness. Conversely, if your logo has low brand recognition or a dated look, it’s time to consider a redesign.

If you are considering a logo redesign, here are some things to discuss with your designer:

  • What is your unique selling proposition? Where does your product fall on the quality versus price spectrum?
  • Who are your competitors and target customers?
  • What are your plans for how the logo will be used beyond business cards and stationery? This will allow the designer to create a logo that is appropriately scalable.
  • If your logo relies on gradients, reflections, or other digital effects, how will it look embroidered on a shirt or imprinted on a promotional item? One test is to look at your logo in its simplest form. Can it hold its own in black-and-white?
  • Can digital enhancements be added for specific applications?

Answering these questions will help your designer position your brand appropriately, both for the market and for the intended marketing uses.

But let creativity abound. There’s no single formula for creating an effective logo. Consider the highly visible Microsoft, Olympic and Starbucks redesigns. Microsoft unveiled its first new logo in a quarter of a century last year, adding a splash of color and a graphical element to its name. Similarly, the new Olympic logo spelled out Rio 2016 and used the yellow, green and blue of the Brazilian flag. Contrast that with the latest Starbucks logo, which uses only one color and no reference to the Starbucks name or coffee. The green, twin-tailed mermaid represents the brand’s personality rather than the product.

If logo redesign is important to these marquee brands, it’s certainly something for your business to consider. However, test market any changes with your target audience before embarking on a full-scale redesign. The price of a logo redesign (again) is more than just the cost of the image. It’s the expense of rolling it out across your enterprise.

Need help? Let one of our professional designers brainstorm with you.

 

 

Effective Marketing Copy Made Easy

Whether you are writing copy for direct mail, email, in-store or exterior signage, or any other type of marketing material, a few simple tricks will increase your ability to grab your audience’s attention and communicate your message more effectively. Here are some fundamental principles of writing great copy that will help you command attention:

  • Be imaginative. It’s easy to say the same thing in the same way all the time. Break out of the mold. Look for unconventional ways to communicate your message.
  • Be a salesman. Cute and clever doesn’t get you anywhere by itself. Your copy still has to motivate recipients to action. Be creative, but also be clear. Sell benefits. Give an overt call to action.
  • Put the customer front and center. Make the customer the center of the message. Talk about their problems, their challenges, and their Let them identify with the message, then talk about how your products and services can solve their problems.
  • Build trust. Part of building a brand and gaining repeat customers is establishing loyalty and trust. Represent your products in a way that is accurate, helpful, and maintains your customers’ confidence.
  • Hire a professional editor. Make sure your copy meets professional standards. Someone who is “good at grammar” isn’t sufficient. When it comes to marketing, there are rules for punctuation, capitalization, and usage that only professionals know.

Of course, there are other elements to great print marketing, as well. Good layout. Interesting graphics. Compelling offer. But great copy ties it all together.

 

Tips for Ordering Promotional Products

Promotional products, whether common items such as pens and refrigerator magnets or more unusual items such as branded toys or back scratchers, can be powerful components of a multichannel marketing campaign. They tend to be kept for longer periods of time than traditional marketing pieces and can be highly effective door openers for hard-to-reach targets, particularly in the C-Suite. But ordering promotional items isn’t like ordering print. Here is a quick checklist to make the most of your investment.

  1. Don’t overload the promotional item.

Keep it simple and don’t try to overload with copy or images. Often times, a logo and phone number is all you need.

  1. Avoid the rush.

You may be used to being able to rush orders for brochures and direct mail, but promotional items require more lead time. Plan at least several weeks in advance.

  1. Simplify your use of color.

The differential between single-color and multicolor printing is relatively minimal. However, promotional items are generally imprinted using silkscreen or pad printing, and every color adds more cost. Use single-color versions of graphics and logos to keep the cost down.

  1. Price breaks matter.

In the world of commercial print, you don’t want to over-order product simply to get a price break, especially when considering the cost of obsolescence. Promotional items will go out of date less quickly, however, and the price breaks with volume can be substantial.

  1. Dimension matters.

Remember to take into consideration the final mailing cost. A more expensive promotional item that ships flat may cost less in the end than a lower priced but bulky item that needs to be mailed in a dimensional package.

Want to learn more about best-in-class use of promotional items? Talk to one of our business development experts.

5 Steps to Great Print Planning

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. Here are 5 steps to ensuring that everything goes smoothly and on budget.

  1. What is the goal of the printed piece?

Is the goal of the piece to entertain or inform? To impress? Your marketing goals influence the design and quality of the piece. Certain ideas may have a significant impact on turnaround or cost. For example, some binding options can take extra time, and certain trim sizes might incur extra expense. Paper choices can also affect the project cost and turnaround time.

  1. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece?

If you are designing a flyer for a theatrical opening, it will look different than one promoting a rock concert. People read a book differently than they read a poster. Before setting anything in stone, talk to us to determine how your design decisions can affect the project budget and schedule.

  1. How many suppliers are involved?

Take into account the schedules of any outside service providers. For example, if you are using a freelance illustrator or label designer, you need to take his or her availability into consideration. If you’re adhering a label to a bottle, you need to work with the bottle company to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them.

  1. When does the piece need to arrive?

Always plan backwards from the delivery date. It’s particularly important to involve us in this part of the planning process so we can schedule your project. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, your project needs gets to press in time to meet your deadline. If not, your job may get rescheduled behind other jobs, and especially if those jobs are large or complex, that can affect its mail or delivery date significantly.

  1. How much “fudge” do you need?

Finally, you need to incorporate “fudge factor.” Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.

The moral of the story? Good print planning starts with communicating early—and often.