Printable Surfaces Open New Possibilities

woman opening the mailIt used to be that scores, perforations, laminations, adhesives and other special techniques had to be added after your piece was printed. Not anymore!

Nowadays, advancements in specialty substrates – that’s just printers’ speak for the materials you can print on - are not only eliminating costly and time-consuming finishing but also enhancing the attractiveness and utility of your printed pieces. Here are just a few of the possibilities offered by today’s specialty substrates:

  • Synthetic substrates of polyester (not paper!) are gaining application where moisture or wear are of concern, such as menus, offering moisture- and grease-proof performance without the need for laminating.
  • Pressure-sensitive substrates in paper, polyester, and vinyl provide an adhesive, making them ideal for labels as well as signage such as window banners.
  • Dimensional substrates in paper and synthetics come pre-scored and ready for folding into boxes, tent cards, pocket folders, door hangers, greeting cards and even golf ball sleeves after printing.
  • Professional photo substrates provide the look and feel of high-luster photo paper when the highest-quality image reproduction is essential to your printed piece.

There’s more, of course, including specialty substrates with embedded magnets (e.g., for refrigerator applications), and snap-out cards (e.g., for memberships) as well as panoramic papers that enable beautiful images to flow seamlessly across the fold.

For more information on how you might benefit from specialty substrates, contact us today. Printing in every way, shape, form – and substrate – is a specialty of ours.

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Dimensional Coatings Deliver Touchable Finish to Print

Not to be confused with 3-D printing (which is used primarily in industrial operations to create three-dimensional components), today’s dimensional coatings can add texture – as well as interest and impact – to your mailers, brochures, business cards and more.

Applied at time of printing, you can specify these coatings in variable heights – enabling you to closely mimic the texture of a specific image or add dimension to graphic elements or text. Imagine some applications:

  • Is citrus fruit on special this week at your market? With dimensional coatings, you readily recreate the texture of a lemon, lime or orange peel.
  • Marketing a beach resort? How about dimensionally printing a beach photo so that it feels like sand?
  • Like to enhance the text and graphics on an elegant invitation? Dimensional coatings can create a difference your invitees will see and feel.

If you’d like to explore your options – and enhance your efforts – with dimensional coatings, please let us know. We’ll provide the expertise you need to get started.

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6 Surefire Ways to Add ‘Wow’ to Print

Woamn ReadingAn appealing headline and eye-catching graphic design will certainly help your mailer, brochure or other printed piece stand out. But so will the many “tricks of the trade” developed over the years to enhance engagement. Here are a just few attention-seeking tips:

1.  Add a bit of intrigue with fluorescent inks that glow in the dark to reveal a message or image. The more ink you specify, the brighter the luminescence. The less fluorescent ink you apply, the more subtle the radiance.

2. Shape up with die cuts. Add an unusual shape to your printed materials. Whether selling homes, cars or cupcakes, die cuts can create pieces in the form of your subject to attract attention and underscore your specialty.

3. Scratch off an appealing scent. Consider how a scented ink or coating might highlight your message. Call attention to your beach vacation packages or promote a Mother’s Day floral arrangement with a scratch off that suggests a sea breeze or rosy bouquet.

4. Know when to fold ‘em. Letter, accordion, gate, engineering, cross, double-parallel and baronial are but a few of the many types of folds to better present, organize and reveal your message – to say nothing of ensuring your piece fits in a right-sized envelope or folder.

5. See what pops up. Revealed to the viewer when unfolding a piece, pop-out images can add impact to a mailer or brochure and dramatize a product. Selling custom homes in a new development? How about a pop-up of a completed house, showcasing the beauty of a new model and how quickly one might be completed.

6. Start with the right finish. Specify a spot varnish in a gloss, satin or dull finish to set apart one image or area from another. Enhance the tactile experience of your printed piece with soft-surface, sandpaper or textured coating. Another option? Embossing for a three-dimensional impression that enables readers to feel the design.

 

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Boost Direct Mail Response Rates up to 400% with Variable Images

Smart marketers are discovering that it can pay – big time – to go beyond the one-message-fits-all techniques of the past and employ today’s technology to get more personal.female looking in mailbox

Variable data printing not only enables you to personalize each mail piece with the recipient’s name, messaging and offer, but also feature photos or graphics that reflect their interests or refer to a recent transaction.

Some examples of how you might benefit by personalization through variable imaging:

  • Having a sale at your sporting goods store? With variable data printing, you can send mailers with fishing images to the anglers on your customer mailing list, and others with tent photos to those who are camping enthusiasts.
  • Seeking more business for your oil change shop? Remind an owner of a blue 2012 Chevrolet Cruze that it’s time for service by featuring a photo of his model in his mailer, and catch the eye of a driver of a green 2009 Ford Escape with an image of her vehicle.

There’s an extra expense to variable data printing to be sure but, for many, the extra response makes it worth it. Responses to relevant marketing campaigns are, on average, over four times that of responses to static, same-to-all messages, reports Caslon in their 1-to-1 Response Rate Report: Benchmark Information for Relevant Cross-Media Marketing.

 

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How To Turn Marketing Into a Game

Gamification is the use of game mechanics (e.g., points, badges, leader boards and/or reward levels) and game experiences to engage people and motivate them to achieve goals.

It’s a strategy that’s gaining increasing application in marketing. According to a survey performed by research firm Gartner, more than 70% of the Forbes Global 200 report they plan to use gamification for marketing purposes by the end of 2014.

Why the surge in popularity? In a word, millennials! Numbering about 80 million people born between 1980 and 1995, millennials are a generation that grew up playing interactive games. By capitalizing on this familiarity and fascination, marketers are benefitting in several significant ways, among them:

  • Greater engagement: Through the rewards and achievement of gamification, marketers are driving increased customer involvement and more frequent interaction with their brands.
  • Consumer acquisition: Many gamification efforts encourage people to not only join communities of fellow brand fans, but also recruit like-minded individuals on their social media channels.
  • Enhanced loyalty: Big brands like Hilton, Starbucks and Subway are combining gamification tactics with membership card programs to encourage repeat purchases.

If gamification sounds like a winning marketing strategy for your business or organization, please let us know. We can help you get in the game.

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#Hashtags: 5 tips when getting social

Found all over social media these days, hashtags are a word or phrase preceded by a pound or hash sign (#). Users on Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook employ them to identify messages on a specific topic – making it easier for people to share thoughts in online forums on any given subject. Hashtags also enable people to better organize their content and pictures.

Smart marketers, too, are adopting hashtags for their social media posts – but for different reasons. By strategically implementing tagged topics, you can expand your reach, target prime prospects, improve SEO (search engine optimization) and share more content, among other benefits.

When using hashtags in your social media marketing campaigns, you’ll want to adhere to these best practices:

  1. Choose something unique. We recommend you conduct an online search before employing one.
  2. Make it easy to remember. Most agree that the best hashtags are short and readily memorized.
  3. Use it across multiple social media channels, including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  4. Employ one or more hashtags for your brand. Often cited for their effective use of hashtags, chocolate brand KitKat® employs one for their name (#KitKat) and another for their theme line (#BreakTimeAnytime).
  5. Select special hashtags for your promotions and events. For example, quick-serve chicken restaurant KFC™ promoted a successful scholarship campaign not long ago using #KFCScholar.

Need assistance getting started with hashtag marketing? Let us know; we can help get you up to speed

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Augmented Reality Making Real Strides as a Marketing Tool

Augmented reality is rapidly moving from science fiction to science fact– and smart marketers increasingly stand to benefit.shutterstock augmented reality

Gaining use as apps on smartphones and tablets, augmented reality (AR) enables users to aim their mobile devices cameras not at bar codes but at the actual items.

In practical terms, this means shoppers can point their mobile device at a cereal box, in-store display or magazine ad and then watch a video or high-tech presentation instantly appear on the screens of their smartphones or tablets.

Some real life examples of this exciting new image-recognition technology in action:

  • In magazines, smartphone users are able to “hover” over a movie review to call to their screens the film’s promotional “trailer.”
  • On a department store display for women’s cosmetics, AR apps enable shoppers to “try on” different shades of make-up.
  • For cola cans, augmented reality lets users call to their mobile device screens interactive content including ticket sweepstakes and recipes.

Watch for more AR applications in marketing. According to Juniper Research, augmented reality apps generated approximately $300 million in revenue in 2013. The same report predicts that by 2017, over 2.5 billion AR apps will be downloaded onto mobile and tablet devices each year.

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Closer Than You Think: Marketing with Near Field Communications

shutterstock NFCNear field communications (NFC) is a type of contact-less communication between devices like smartphones or tablets. With it, users can simply wave a smartphone over a NFC-compatible device to send information.

NFC is considered by many a vast improvement over QR codes, which require downloading an app and uploading a bar code to access content that goes beyond a Web page. NFC enables smartphone users to access content and interact with a brand more seamlessly. All the user has to do is tap the smartphone on any NFC-compatible poster, magazine ad, POS, direct mailer or promotional item to gain instant access to a world of rich media and content.

Popular already, NFC is about to gain a huge push. The recently introduced Apple iPhone 6 will feature a near field communications chip and serve as an “electronic wallet,” thereby minimizing the need for credit cards.

Ignore NFC at you own risk! Transparency Market Research published a report in October, 2014 predicting that the global near field communication market, which was valued $1.068 billion in 2012, is expected to reach $20.01 billion by 2018 – expanding at an eye-popping 43.7% compound annual growth rate during the forecast period!

To take advantage of the new opportunities in NFC, call us ASAP! We can help get you up to speed!

 

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QR Codes: Secret No Longer, They’re A Key to Smart Marketing

Nowadays you’re probably seeing QR or quick response codes and other two-dimensional barcodes on all sorts of printed materials – from direct mail pieces to brochures to POP displays and more. And, for good reason.

By employing these small square grids of typically black modules on white backgrounds, a lot of marketers are seeing green – as in increased responses and higher sales.

Why? It’s no secret: QR codes are readable by most smartphones. And by holding up their iPhone or Android to them for scanning, users can instantly call to their screens just the kind of information you’d like them to see. Like a discount coupon or other special offer. A landing page that showcases a favorable product or service comparison. Contest entries or giveaways. Promotional or informational videos. A Facebook or Twitter page. Or a link to the nearest retailer who carries your products.

With benefits like these, shoppers as well as marketers are catching on to these 21st century barcodes. Eighty-three percent of North American consumers are aware of QR codes, and 47% of those have used their mobile device to scan one, says Brand Spark International.

 

 

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Bull’s Eye! Message by Database Markets to Obtain Better Results

Database marketing is a type of direct marketing that employs databases of customers to create highly targeted lists for direct mail campaigns.bullseye

Typically, your database will include customer names and addresses, phone numbers, emails, purchase histories, information requests and other data you’ve collected among those who have opted in for continued communications. You’ll collect these names via trade show registrations, social media responses, contest entry forms, product warranty cards, subscriptions to newsletters and e-newsletters and even simple sign-up forms in your lobby.

With database marketing, the more names the better. Why? The larger your pool of data, the more opportunities you’ll have to pinpoint groups of customers or prospects that can be reached with your customized communications. Of course, if you want to expand your collection of candidates beyond the customers and interested parties in your own database, names of prospects must be purchased from third parties such as list vendors.

At this point, the real work – and true promise – of database marketing begins. By filtering and mining the data for actionable information (often with the help of an analyst), you can hone in on all sorts of audiences with targeted appeals. Recent purchasers of your products, for example, might be prime prospects for service contracts, while long-ago buyers may be especially receptive to promotional offers on replacement models.

Like to begin benefiting from database marketing? We can help!For expert assistance, please contact us.

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