Marketing That Pays Off? Consider Events

Event marketing is made to order for small to mid-sized businesses, nonprofits and other organizations with aggressive goals but limited sales resources. Participating in the right local, regional, national or international events allow you to present your sales story to many prospects in one place within a short period of time. Individual sales calling can’t match it for efficiency.

Experiences and events positively improve brand perception. According to Event Marketing Institute’s EventTrack 2014 report, 74% of participants have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted following an event.

Event marketing also adds a personal contact dimension to the less personal, technology-driven engagement that defines so much of the marketing and sales conversations today. It creates face-to-face opportunities to meet important prospects and the chance to reinforce your relationships with current customers.

Here are five quick tips for a show-stopping display:

1.  Location, location, location. Try to reserve prime real estate in a high-traffic location so your booth will be seen by as many prospects as possible.

2.  Plan your display graphics and messages to stop visitors in their tracks. Express your value proposition powerfully, and keep messaging clear and concise. Don’t make visitors guess what you are selling.

3. Use freestanding posters or roll-up banner stands to reinforce key messages and offers or to promote special demonstrations, educational sessions and other “events within the event.”

4.  Schedule presentations or demonstrations in your booth, and promote the times and dates. You’ll boost attendance and allow your experts to “wow” entire groups of visitors at one time.

 5. Stream live or recorded video footage of presentations or demonstrations to your event website and post to your YouTube channel. Email or use Twitter to alert non-attendees that they can experience your content remotely.

Need help with your event? We can help with displays, signage, handouts, apparel, giveaways and more.

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A Letter, a Phone Call and Pair of Well-worn Shoes

Long before the term “cross-media” found its way into common usage, successful salespeople and the companies that employed them relied on a three-pronged strategy to reach their prospective customers and to sell their products.

First, a letter was mailed to the prospect introducing the salesperson, the company and the product being offered. An appointment with the prospect was requested, and a return envelope was provided to allow a convenient way to respond.

A few days later, a follow-up phone call was placed to remind the prospect of the letter and the benefits of learning more about the product or service being offered. The sales call itself concluded the process where product or service features, advantages and benefits were spelled out. Hopefully, the final result was a sale and a new customer.

The effectiveness and timelessness of this approach is well-established and widely-used. If you think about it, the time-honored sales process has many similarities to the basics of direct marketing:

1. Focus. Just one message directed to one individual at a time.

2. Personalization/Relevance. The content of the message is relevant to the particular needs and wants of the receiver.

3. Media Integration. The particular strengths of each medium – the letter, the phone call, the sales presentation – are integrated and used to maximize effectiveness. When combined, the precision targeting, high readership and personalization of direct mail, the immediacy and connectivity of a phone call and the interactive nature of a personal sales meeting create the ideal opportunity to gain the attention, stimulate the interest, build the desire and motivate the buyer to action.

4. Interactivity. Enabling two-way communication between the salesperson and the customer makes it possible to better understand the customer’s needs and to reveal potential obstacles in the sales process. As a result, the sales presentation can be more specific and relevant, and obstacles can be uncovered and addressed.

Have a different take on direct marketing or the sales process? Let us know.

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To-Do List: Think Strategically in 2015

gearbrainEffective marketing communications plans all have the same general goal: Say the right thing to the right people at the right time through the right channels to generate the action you want . . . at lower cost than can be accomplished with personal meetings.

To meet this universal goal, a considerable amount of information is required so you can evaluate and select the activities that stand the best chance for success. The goal is to use a mix of communications that match up to your target audience, then make price and performance decisions based on the strengths and weaknesses of each option.

Start planning by answering these key questions:

  • What’s the goal that communications can meet or help meet?
  • What is the size of your target market?
  • What channels could be used to reach them?
  • What combination of channels should be used to reach them?
  • What can you say or offer to generate the action you want?
  • How much activity is enough to meet the goal?
  • How will you measure success or failure so you can improve in the future?

Clearly and precisely define your target markets. Without having a good estimate of the number of people in your target audience, you cannot do a good job of evaluating and selecting the media channels available to reach them.

Then choose your channels wisely. Use impersonal channels, like mass media advertising, during the early stages of the sales cycle and more personal channels at the end.

And always measure the effectiveness of your marketing in ways that align with your specific objectives, like website traffic, store visits, coupon redemptions, appointments for personal meetings, event attendance, phone or email requests for estimates or more information, or direct sales.

Need help with your planning? Let us know.

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Getting Personal: 5 Steps to Turn Leads to Sales

Remember when the roles of Marketing and Sales were distinct? When Marketing was responsible for generating leads, and Sales was responsible for closing them? The Web has permanently changed that relationship, making integration of your marketing and sales plans more important than ever.

Today’s empowered buyers are taking charge of their purchase decision-making, often hidden away from your sales team. To nurture these opportunities, it’s essential to engage with prospects before they are visibly “in the market” for what you offer with easy-to-access educational content that can influence their decision making.

Despite all of their legwork, it fails to override the necessity for personal selling. Here are five steps to maximize one-to-one sales opportunities and integrate marketing assets along the way:

1. Act quickly. Follow up on all inbound sales leads generated through your inbound and outbound marketing. For example, incorporate a Web-based lead capture form in your direct mail appeal that drives recipients to a campaign landing page for a special offer. Treat these inquirers as you would direct calls, and reach out promptly.

2. Do your research. Before a telephone or in-person B2B sales call, visit the prospect’s website to learn the company vision, its key customers, and product and service lines. Also check industry forecasts and review any media coverage the company may have received.

3. Be relevant. Know who you are contacting, ask what direct marketing vehicle prompted their inquiry and remind them of its messaging. (“You downloaded our guide about ABC.” “You requested a call via our e-newsletter about XYZ.”) Ask qualifying questions to gauge their needs and timeframe for buying. If appropriate, ask for a personal meeting.

4. Plan, do, check and adjust. Track all your leads from every marketing channel, and record the contacts you make and the dates: phone calls, voicemails and emails. Telephone scripts, pre-drafted email templates and follow-up fulfillment mailings should be prepped in advance. Evaluate your sales outreach frequency, methods and messaging, and adjust when your efforts fall short of forecast. Underperforming marketing channels may need a tune up, too.

5. Follow up. Turning qualified leads into sales may take time. Develop relationships by continuing to provide valuable information and be recognized as a trusted and reliable source. Schedule follow-up calls, emails and telephone calls on your contact calendar to stay on track, and create reasons for additional follow up. For example, “I thought you might be interested in a new research report that confirms you are on the right track, wanting to automate your systems….”

Need help with your lead generation? Let us know how we can help.

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9 Tips for a Persuasive Sales Letter

Woman opening envelopA major advantage to direct mail is its capacity for one-on-one communications with the prospect or customer. Unlike other forms of advertising, you can get “personal.” What makes a great sales letter that motivates action? Here’s the breakdown:

1. Employ a “Johnson box”: Named after legendary direct marketer Frank Johnson, it features the letter’s key message. When it makes sense, make it BIG and bold, and place it at the top.

2. Make ‘em an offer. Sales letters are best with a strong offer that’s repeated.

3. Address it by name: Assure the recipient that your message is intended expressly for them.

4. Break up copy blocks. Use subheads and bullet points, and underline for emphasis.

5. Include a call to action. Just as a good salesperson never fails to ask for the order, your sales letter should always ask for a desire action.

6. Support cross media marketing. Drive recipients to a promotion-specific landing page. With an online lead capture form, you can collect more customer data (product interests, email addresses) for further nurturing.

7. Sign off with a signature and include a title. They’ll give your letter and offer added authenticity.

8. Set a deadline. The notion of missing out can motivate recipients to act now while your letter is in hand and message top-of-mind.

9. PS: Don’t forget a PS! Scanners are drawn to postscripts; re-state your offer here.

Need help? Contact us for expert assistance with writing, printing, list research and integrating your direct mail campaigns with other marketing channels.

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4 Smart Ways to Save on Print

happygroupCMYKDoing more with less is a common anthem among today’s small business and nonprofit marketers. Here are just four of the many ways you can cut the cost of your print communications – without cutting corners:

1. Plan ahead to stay on schedule. Printers are accustomed to working with tight turnarounds. You can smooth the process and save money by avoiding “do-overs.” On the front end, ask for help if you’re unsure how to prepare your art files. Then, leave yourself plenty of time to review proofs and catch errors you may have overlooked early on to prevent re-dos and re-prints that can multiple your costs . . . and extend your timeline.

2. Skip special orders. For many projects, you can save money by using in-stock papers. Ask your print provider to show you samples of what’s on hand. Unless you require a specific look or have budgeted for a higher-end piece, stick to the basics for your day-to-day materials to stretch your dollars.

3. Target your mailings. Databases are more plentiful and robust than ever before. Many are highly-targeted to help direct marketers easily and affordably reach a very specific audience, preventing unnecessary waste and expense. After all, why spend money mailing to people who will not be receptive to your message or worse, those who may want to hear your message but who have moved and won’t receive your mail?

4. Print digitally, on demand. Many projects considered too small to be worth the investment in set-up charges on a traditional offset press can be affordably printed digitally. This printing option is ideal for short runs as the unit price is the same whether you print 10 or 1,000. It also opens the door to variable, customized text and images from sheet-to-sheet for more targeted and effective messaging. Keep on-demand digital printing in mind to avoid the waste associated with storing and ultimately throwing away materials that are quickly made obsolete when service specifications or product parts numbers, for instance, are frequently updated.

For more money-saving tips, contact us when you’re ready to print.

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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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