What a Pleasant Surprise! A Handwritten Note in Print

shutterstock_178904063When you have a need for communications speed, nothing tops a digital message. Yet, we all know what an email inbox can look like at the end of the day. And how attractive the delete key can be when we have to prioritize what gets our attention.

Your customers, donors and business associates are feeling the same way. So how can you build essential one-to-one contact needed to nurture these important relationships? It can be as simple as print.

Few small gestures reap bigger rewards in relationship-building than a handwritten message on a printed notecard. When marketers think about print communications, we tend to focus on strategic marketing campaigns, like direct mail or print advertising. Yet, the value of a personal, handwritten message cannot be underestimated. Use print to:

  • Share your appreciation with a client who’s remained loyal over the years or has placed a substantial order.
  • Acknowledge a donor who’s contributed money in support of your nonprofit or a volunteer who’s helped out with a charitable cause or community event.
  • Offer special thanks to a vendor or service person who’s come through for you in a pinch.
  • Recognize an employee who’s gone the extra mile on behalf of your company or organization.

While many of these occasions are reactive, there’s also a proactive use for print communications, and it has to do with one of the most effective marketing tactics: business-building through referrals. You can get the ball rolling by making it part of your sales process to say “thank you” on a regular basis with handwritten notes on cards branded with your colors and logo. Then, it’s easier to ask satisfied customers to share their positive experiences with friends, colleagues and social networks.

For high-impact print ideas, talk to us. We can show you touchable papers, special inks and printing finishes that will get your important messages read . . . and remembered.

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Direct Marketing Offers That Stand the Test of Time

shutterstock_106827236Open now for 25% savings! Receive our free guide! Respond today for a no-cost demonstration!

The importance of the offer you present on your postcard or mailing envelope can’t be overstated. Among direct marketing pros, it’s generally accepted that it will account for fully 30% of your campaign’s success – second only to the list (50%), but ahead of the creative (20%).

When crafting your offer remember, it should be easy to explain, quickly understood and, above all, motivating.

That said, an offer doesn’t have to be costly, but your target must perceive that it has value. Equally important is conveying a sense of urgency, most often by limiting the redemption period or number of benefits available. Also note that the best offers will appeal to your specific audience, but not be so generous as to attract unqualified customers.

Where to begin? Consider these tried-and-true appeals:

Five top business-to-business offers

  1. Free information: Offer a guide, white paper or case study.
  2. Free demonstration: Important for vehicles or business equipment.
  3. Money-back guarantee: Receive a refund for a product or service if not completely satisfied.
  4. Free survey or assessment: Used by service companies such as accounting, legal and maintenance.
  5. Free trial: Common for higher-priced services or merchandise.

Five top business-to-consumer offers

  1. Free gift: Effective for driving traffic to retailers or service-oriented businesses.
  2. Customer appreciation sale: Special deals, but for past customers only.
  3. Trade-in offer: Dollars off when you purchase new and surrender the old.
  4. Seasonal sale: Add a sense of urgency by making it for a limited time.
  5. Special terms: Bill me later, low or no interest, or installment payments.

Need help with your direct mail effort? Whether it’s crafting an effective offer, locating a targeted list or developing a creative approach, let us know. We’re here for you.

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Variable Data Printing Drives Better Response

shutterstock_237220768The average person is exposed to 5,000 advertising and promotional messages every day. That’s more than 1.8 million annually. How can you cut through the clutter to be noticed . . . and remembered?

With personalized, relevant messages that drive higher response, increase engagement and deliver greater ROI. Technology makes it easy! Enter variable data printing for one-to-one marketing.

You can drive your direct mail response rates up to six times higher than generic, one-size-fits-all messages by:

  • Using your customer or targeted prospect data to include names and/or company names.
  • Adding personalized URLs to capture online response.
  • Changing promotional offers based on past purchases.
  • Varying images based on the recipients, age, gender, interests, geography and many other data points.

What’s behind the success of any direct marketing campaign? Delivering the right message. To the right people. With the right offer. At the right time. Variable data printing for direct mail can help!

Let us know if you’d like to learn more about one-to-one marketing to enhance your next campaign.

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Mining for Gold in Your House File

shutterstock_lead conversionToday’s savvy marketers can’t afford to waste time or money reaching out to prospects that have little chance of becoming buyers. Even if you have a pretty good idea of who your best customers are, can you define them in terms that will help you find the next “like kind” business or consumer?

Your company’s house files can offer a gold mine of information for “cloning” customers and minimizing the waste associated with marketing to the wrong prospects.

Using your house files, you can take the basic information you have about your best business or consumer customers that reflects the existing relationship, and working with your marketing services provider, add demographic information to enhance your customer profile.

Both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers can benefit from customer profiling. More robust customer data improves the effectiveness of targeted marketing campaigns, helps you to cross-sell and up-sell, and can guide your efforts to reactivate dormant or lost customers.

B2B data fields that can “flesh out” a top customer profile would include annual sales, number of employees, legal status, location type, minority-owned business, nonprofit, owner versus renter or years in business, just to name a few.

Examples of B2C data fields would be adults in the household and their ages, credit card ownership, home ownership or equity available, household income, length of time in the residence, marital status, and number and ages of children present in the home.

Want to learn more ways to capitalize on your house data? Let us know; we can help.

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Goodwill is Good for Business

shutterstock_108991745Sponsorships, donations, pro bono services, discounts and volunteering. These are just a few of the ways through which small and mid-sized business owners can begin to build a profile as a good neighbor in the community.

Your customers will love you for it, too. A recent Cone Communications study says nearly nine out of 10 would switch brands to one associated with a cause, given comparable price and quality.

Besides the “feel good and do good” nature of philanthropic activities, there are business-boosting ancillary benefits. Community involvement can give you the chance to network with other business leaders and may occur by sitting on the board of a nonprofit, for example. In this setting, you not only contribute your expertise to a clear need but can gain exposure to heavy hitters who could be potential business partners or customers.

Where to Start

1. With endless ways to share your time and talents, develop a purpose statement for your giving that defines your interests.

2. Provide opportunities for your employees to give back, too. Encouraging your staff to support your company’s or their own pet projects has shown to increase morale, teamwork, employee retention and satisfaction.

3. Don’t overlook professional affiliations. Chambers of Commerce and other business and professional organizations and consortiums require volunteers to survive. Head a committee or help with an event, and build important business (and personal) relationships.

4. For established events, explore sponsorship opportunities. Or, you may be able to pool your resources with other business people, and share event space to create a unique experience.

What’s the payoff?

When you and your organization are woven into the fabric of your community, everyone wins. You gain the reputation as a good place to work, allowing you to attract talent and retain top employees, customer satisfaction is higher and you grow as a business person. Above all, stronger businesses mean a healthier community.

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Direct Mail Gets Our Stamp of Approval

Open mailboxDirect mail is not only highly targetable but also readily personalized with names, images and messages. With special inks and textures, and enhancements like die-cuts and folds, the variety of shapes and sizes are all attention-getting . . . and drive interaction and impact. Here are six reasons why direct mail gets our stamp of approval.

1. Accessible. U.S. consumers (73%) and Canadian shoppers (67%) prefer direct mail for brand communications because they can read the information at their convenience. (Epsilon, Channel Preference for Both the Mobile and Non-Mobile Consumer, 2012)

2. Noticeable. Consumers who say they are more likely to notice and read direct mail (53%) than email (26%). (Canada Post Corporation, Breaking Through the Noise, June 30, 2015)

3. Likeable. More than 60% of North American consumers enjoy checking the mailbox for postal mail. (United States Postal Service, The Mail Moment)

4. Action-oriented. 50% of recipients have purchased a product in-store over the past six months as a result of direct mail. (Canada Post Corporation, Breaking Through the Noise, June 30, 2015)

5. In the moment. 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it’s delivered, and 77% sort through their mail immediately. (United States Postal Service)

6. Moving to the next level. 64% of recipients have visited a website, engaged in social media (54%) or visited a retailer (47%) as a result of receiving mail. (Epsilon, Channel Preference for Both the Mobile and Non-Mobile Consumer, 2012)

For lots of great ideas about how to put direct mail to work for you, give us a call.

 

 

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Event Marketing Before, During and After

shutterstock_153117176Seasoned event marketers know the many advantages of participating in conferences or staging their own special events to reach their top goals: increase brand awareness, improve product knowledge through hands-on demonstrations and drive more sales.

If that isn’t incentive enough for you to consider events as part of your marketing mix, add one more: competitive pressure. A 2014 study by the Event Marketing Institute and Mosaic reports that more dollars are being devoted to experiential marketing, an average 5% budget increase for survey respondents.

Events are now the number one channel for product launches. So, it’s increasingly likely your rivals are reaching out via events for prospects – and sales – you’d like to call your own. Whether you are new to the game or a veteran event marketer, here are a few tips to maximize your opportunities with your next outing:

Before

  • Promote your event every which way you can. Feature it prominently on your website or create a splash page especially for the event. Notify everyone on your mailing list and/or email list. Distribute press releases to target media outlets, if the goal is to reach a broader audience.
  • Reach out via social media. On Facebook and elsewhere, promote your event and encourage your targets to register, attend . . . and share the news with their like-minded colleagues. The EMI/Mosaic survey shows 77% connect with consumers via social media before an event.
  • Remember to remind your invitees. Postcard mailings are an inexpensive way to reach out with save-the-date communications and event reminders. E-cards are another cost-effective option.

During

  • Embrace the latest technology. Use flat-screen monitors to present looped videos or even interactive touchscreens to take your display to a new level. Limited budget? Opt instead for free-standing posters or roll-up banner stands to reinforce key messages or promote special demonstrations and offers.
  • Give your gifts some serious thought. The best ones not only serve as conversation-starters but also help you stand out. Useful logoed gifts including wearables, bags and flash drives are most valued, according to research by the Advertising Specialty Institute.
  • Whoa there! Hold back some handouts. Distributing flyers is smart but keeping more costly materials in reserve for those who express genuine interest is smarter. Better yet, mail or deliver them in person to help cement your new relationships.

After

  • Go all out to get the order. For those who have expressed interest, implement an aggressive plan for sales lead follow-up. Be sure to assign responsibility, establish a timeline and closely monitor your results.
  • “Great to meet you; thanks for attending!” Send follow-up mailings or emails to everyone you meet at the event. Remind them of your key sales messages and re-state your offer or a new incentive.
  • Find out what works – and what doesn’t. Fine tune your future efforts through follow-up surveys by mail, email or phone to evaluate the effectiveness of your participation and marketing messages.

Be sure to let us know if you need help with the communications, promotional products or signage that can make any event more special.

 

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Direct Plus Digital: The Anatomy of a Landing Page

 An effective online response mechanism is a must-have for every direct marketing campaign. According to the Direct Marketing Association, two out of five prefer to respond online to a direct mail offer. (Others may like to reply by mail or phone, so always provide options.)

Enter the landing page which is quite literally, where your prospects “land” to access what you’ve offered to them via your direct mail piece, email or online ad. Optimize your landing page with the following considerations:

  • Get your domain name early. It can influence content and design, and sometimes the domain name you want is unavailable.
  • Who are you? Place your logo high on the page for clear brand identity.
  • This is the right place. Be consistent with the look and feel of the source leading to it: direct mailer, email or online ad.
  • Keep it simple. Write a strong headline and short description of the offer.
  • Clearly state the benefits. Reinforce the reason why they’re giving up personal information.
  • Add an image. Avoid all confusion, and use an image relevant to your offer or an image of your offer, if it makes sense.
  • Direct the eye to the button. Make it stand out from other graphics or colors on the page, and write a compelling CTA rather than “submit” or “click here.”
  • Minimize fields. Data collectionmay be a primary goal. However, asking too much may cause abandonment. Ask only what you need.

Bonus Tip 1: Design for “thumbs.” Mobile access now accounts for 60% of time spent consuming digital media, according to comScore. A responsive design means your page renders properly across viewing platforms: desktop, tablet and smartphone.

Bonus Tip 2: Include a “thank you.” Once the form is completed and the button clicked, send your leads to a “thank-you” page where they can access the offer. Here, you can direct leads to other website pages or present secondary offers.

Want to drive more leads with a direct to digital connection? Let us know; we can help!

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4 Tips for Winning With White Papers

shutterstock_238377004Defined as persuasive, authoritative and in-depth reports on specific topics, white papers are for many small and mid-sized businesses an excellent tactic in content marketing – primarily for business-to-business enterprises.

Executed properly, they’re an ideal way to deliver compelling and relevant information targeted to a specific audience with the goal of changing or maintaining a behavior. Beyond short-format content marketing such as blogs or social media posts, they offer you the opportunity to more fully engage your audience, display your expertise . . . and gain their trust.

Today’s business buyers often actively seek out the kind of detailed information that white papers can provide, and rely on them to help research a product or service before committing to a purchase.

So, how best to make the most of this content marketing tactic? Here are four tips for winning with white papers:

  1. Consider the interests of your audience. Most people, of course, don’t read white papers for entertainment. Rather, they’re seeking help with a challenge, solutions to a problem, or expert advice on how to do something better. So before putting pen to paper, give some consideration what would make your audience read your white paper and, ideally, pass it along to an associate with similar interests. When in doubt, ask your customers about the problems they confront or the advice they’d most like to receive.
  2. Share some “secrets” or other exclusive content. Include information in your white papers that’s not readily available in your other content marketing such as blogs, videos or newsletters. Or, perhaps make them the only forum for an expert spokesperson. By adding an element of exclusivity, you’ll increase your offering’s perceived value.
  3. Keep your white papers short. Some content marketing experts recommend a minimum of three and a maximum of 14 pages. After all, many in your audience will be pressed for time and be more inclined to squeeze minutes for a shorter white paper between other commitments. Have a lot to communicate? Here’s your opportunity to divide your content into a series of two, three or more white papers!
  4. Decide on the format. Some within your target audience will prefer printed copies while other will opt for electronic downloads. To satisfy both groups, consider offering white papers in both formats.

Like to incorporate white papers in your mix of content marketing tactics? Let us know! We can assist you with topic selection and writing content, among other aspects of a successful campaign.

 

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Employee Engagement: 6 Ways to Show You Care

shutterstock_187237550Recognizing hard-working and loyal employees makes good business sense in more ways than one. Staff turnover has a negative impact on employee morale and overall productivity, not to mention company revenue.

Given the costs of recruiting and training, one study estimates that it costs six to nine months’ salary on average to replace a salaried employee. Other research reveals it costs 16% of annual salary to replace lower-wage earners, meaning that you’d pay over $3,000 to hire and train a new $10/hour employee.

All of this underscores it’s better to spend a little on recognizing employees rather than a lot when replacing them. And with options for every budget, promotional items and professionally produced materials are a great place to start. Some tips:

  1. Recognize your highest achievers with plaques, certificates and engraved signs.
  2. Provide workers with logoed apparel such as caps, shirts and jackets, or with branded bags. These can be used not only as rewards but also as special gifts presented at company picnics, golf outings or executive retreats. Of course, you can also use branded clothing to identify staffers on the selling floor or to distinguish your team at trade shows or other special events.
  3. Identify consumer-facing employees with business cards, and support their sales and presentation efforts with well-designed business materials. You’ll strengthen their sense of engagement and enhance their professionalism.
  4. Reward employees with desk accessories as well as calendars identified with your company name and logo. Water bottles and flash drives are other popular items.
  5. Provide staff members with coffee mugs that commemorate a company milestone and, while you’re at it, stock your conference room or kitchen with them to put your best face forward when entertaining guests.
  6. Create professionally produced employee manuals to enhance engagement and help assure compliance to company policies. When following these tips, you’ll increase employee morale and build your brand. Consider that all items worn or used outside your workplace will spread your company name and logo to the public.

Ready to explore your options with promotional products? Give us a call; we’re good at it!

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