Paragon Direct Blog
Visual Differences Between Digital and Offset
Gone are the days of debating the benefits of digital vs. offset printing. With the quality being nearly indistinguishable between the two, most marketers hardly think about it anymore. However, there are still production differences between digital and offset printing, and it’s always good to know what they are.
Most digital presses use dry toner. Consequently, one of the visual differences between digital and offset is how the toner impacts the brightness of the print. Toner tends to sit on top of the sheet rather than soaking into it like offset ink. This results in a vivid image that can be slightly shinier than offset. Some digital presses use toner suspended in liquid (sometimes called “ink” and other times “liquid toner”) that creates a slightly softer image.
If you will be coating your pieces, the visual difference between offset and digital disappears. This is because the coating masks any difference in gloss between the two. While many marketers prefer the bright, glossier image of toner-based digital, if you are among those who prefer the softer look (and are not using liquid toner printing), you may want to consider a matte coating.
Another difference between offset and digital is how the presses handle large areas of solid color. Although digital presses can print 100% solids, if your design will be using large areas of solid color, it is recommended that you build your solids using color blends. If you are printing black, for example, instead of using 100B, you might use 40C, 40M, 40Y, and 100B.
There are other subtle differences between digital and offset, but in the end, what’s most important is whether the printed piece achieves your marketing goals. We’re here to make sure that, regardless of which process you use, the answer is unequivocally yes!
August 15, 2018
Want More Loyalty? Reward Your Customers!
One of the most powerful ways to deepen customer loyalty is to reward your customers for sticking with you. This is why loyalty programs are so popular. But there is an additional benefit, too. Customers actively participating in loyalty programs not only continue to buy from you, but they spend more money when they do.
According to a recent study by Oracle:
72% of U.S. online adults belong to at least one loyalty program.
In a typical three-month period, loyalty program members spend $42.33 more with traditional retailers (those with physical stores) than shoppers not in a loyalty program.
The highest market share (more than two-thirds of consumers in loyalty programs) occurs in high-frequency activity categories like grocery and drugstores.
Loyalty programs can be personalized based on individual customer buying habits, or you can send general alerts, discounts, and other rewards to participating members. Rewards programs can be implemented using direct mail, email, and mobile, so you can match the marketing channel to the preferences of your customers. While many people associate loyalty programs with coupons and discounts, research has shown that over-emphasis on these incentives can actually decrease engagement. For example, among the affluent, offers that give exclusive access or elite status (such as an opportunity to purchase wine in their own personal batch) can be more effective.
When developing a loyalty program, think about what really motivates your customers. It may be different for different segments of your audience. Also consider matching marketing channels to customer preferences (direct mail, email, mobile). Like your rewards offers, it might be different for different segments of your audience.
You’ve worked hard to bring in those new customers. Now keep them with you!
July 5, 2018
What Makes Top Marketers Tick?
What are the world’s top marketers thinking in 2018? Salesforce.com decided to ask them. Every year, the company surveys marketers around the world about the state of the marketplace, how the channel mix is changing, and how they are feeling about their marketing practices. In the report, “The Fourth Annual State of Marketing,” respondents are divided into three categories: top performers (those who are “highly satisfied” with their marketing outcomes), underperformers (those who are “slightly” or “highly unsatisfied” with their marketing outcomes), and moderate performers (everyone in the middle).
Here are some of the characteristics of top performers compared to underperformers. Which category would you put yourself in?
Customer journey alignment: Top performers are 2.4x more likely to align marketing roles to a customer journey strategy than underperformers.
Data integration: Top performers are 4.2x more likely to be satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data to create more relevant experiences.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): Top performers are 3.1x more likely to use artificial intelligence in their customer-facing tools, data analysis, and other marketing functions.
Channel coordination: Top performers are 12.8x more likely to heavily coordinate marketing efforts across channels.
This is a very different marketing world than we were living in even a decade ago. This is a world driven by data and centered around the customer. Are you ready for the opportunities and challenges this offers? If not, pick our brains! We’re here to help.
June 19, 2018
Are You Selling for the Short- or Long-Term?
When you create personalized print communications for your customers, are you thinking about short-term selling or long-term relationships? While getting the quick sale feels great, the biggest profits come from long-term customers who provide recurring revenue over time. Here are five reasons to focus on recurring personalized print programs rather than “quick hit” campaigns:
1. Building relationships.
Personalization, by definition, is personal and implies a relationship. To establish a relationship with your customers, you need to get to know them. No one-off campaign, no matter how successful, can do that.
2. Learning more over time.
At the beginning of a campaign, you are making educated guesses about how your customers think and act. As they respond, you learn more about them. This allows you to modify your messaging, offers and calls to action to have the most impact over time.
3. Making more money.
As you learn which campaign elements are most effective at motivating your customers, your campaigns will be more profitable. More refined campaigns translate into higher response rates, higher conversion rates, and increased ROI.
4. Maximizing investment.
Setting up your first 1:1 print campaign requires an investment in time and money. By developing programs rather than one-off campaigns, your set-up costs are amortized over the life of the program. As costs become amortized, your ROI per campaign goes up.
5. Not continually having re-prove program value.
Unless you are the president or owner of the company, chances are you had to work with a team of others to make the initial decision to deploy personalized print communications. Each time you run another campaign, you need to go through the entire process again. With programs, you have the freedom to refine and maximize your efforts without having to re-prove their value before each deployment.
So think long-term. Programs allow you to develop and refine your marketing strategy over time and take advantage of the value of relationship-building. One-off campaigns can produce great short-term results, but the deepest profits come from investing in your customers for the long term.
May 29, 2018
Direct Mail - Salon Case Study
Do you know the primary reason companies lose customers? They stop communicating with them. It's that simple. When companies stop communicating, their customers lose interest. They move on to the competition and brands that pay attention to them. This is why it isn't enough just to have a customer acquisition strategy. You must also have a customer retention strategy, as well.
In this effort, one of your most powerful tools is personalized print. Think personalized newsletters. Personalized postcards. Personalized holiday giveaways and gifts. These are your customers. They shouldn't be treated the same way as people you've never done business with. You need to reinforce the existing relationship and speak to customers on a personal basis.
When one chain of hair salons wanted to reduce guest turnover, for example, it set up a customer retention program that included personalized direct mail. It personalized its mailers based on customer name, images, offer, salon location, and reward program status. Franchise owners started sending postcards every six weeks to stay current and top of mind with their hair salon clientele.
• The chain has a high customer retention rate.
• Its rewards program customers have a one-third higher top “spend” than other customers.
• Franchisees have a much stronger upsell rate for their female customers.
Print personalization is all about strengthening relationships. It helps you stay relevant. It helps you stay top of mind. How often do you need to send out personalized campaigns? At a minimum, more often than your competition does! Need ideas? Let us look at your list and talk about ways you can be engaging your customers on a consistent basis.
May 15, 2018
5 Considerations for Creating Standout Mail Pieces
When we think about great direct mail results, we tend to think about the list, the message, and the call to action. However, things like the size, shape, and texture of the piece play a key role, too. Let’s look at five considerations for creating standout mail pieces.
1. Trim size. If you want the lowest possible postage cost, go with a standard 3.5 x 5” postcard. Choosing a nonstandard size will cost more in postage, but it will make your postcard stand out. “Why is that one different?” the recipient wants to know. It might even be the first piece they pick up. What’s that worth?
2. Weight. Consumers tend to associate the weight of the stock used in the mailing with the quality of the brand and, by extension, the product being marketed. Heavier weight stocks command respect and attention.
3. Texture. In a sea of smooth envelopes, mailers with textured finishes get noticed. From high gloss and spot varnish to specialty processes, there are lots of options to choose from.
4. Personalization. Even the use of someone’s name on the front of a card will engage the recipient more than a static card. This engagement might only last for an extra fraction of a second, but sometimes, that is all you need.
5. Color. Why use a standard white background when you can pick from a range of vibrant colors? Use knock out type, graphics, and images on dynamic backgrounds to get your mailer to jump out of the box. If you carry in a sea of white envelopes and one bright red one, which one would you pick out first?
There are lots of ways to get your direct mailer to stand out from all of the others. Why not try something you have not tried before? You just might love the results!
April 17, 2018
Top Characteristics of Satisfied Customers
What makes a customer satisfied or unsatisfied in doing business with you? A recent survey from MarketingSherpa provides important insights. The “Consumer Satisfaction Research Study,” based on data gathered from 2,400 customers, asked consumers to identify the characteristics of companies they do business with, including their marketing practices. It also asked whether they were satisfied or unsatisfied and why. As it relates to marketing, here are the top answers of “satisfied” customers:
1. “It [the company] doesn’t always try to sell to me but tries to provide value”
2. “Its marketing is not intrusive”
3. “It is respectful of my privacy”
4. “It makes me feel like I have a relationship with them”
5. “Its marketing is engaging and interesting to me”
6. “It knows what I like and don’t like”
Top reasons customers are unsatisfied? “It [the company] doesn’t make me feel like they have a relationship with me”, “the company always tries to sell me instead of providing value”, and “the company doesn’t know what I do and do not like”.
So get to know your customers. Not just what they buy, but when they buy, why they buy, and their channel preferences. Be respectful of their privacy and don’t make them feel as if they are under a microscope. Instead, be subtle, engaging, and relevant. Make your audience feel as if you more interested in improving their lives than simply selling a product.
April 2, 2018
Positioning Your Business for Tomorrow
Do you see marketing as a sprint or a marathon? Increasingly, marketers are taking the marathon view, developing their plans to focus on long-term results rather than just “right now” sales. In this view, marketing has a two-fold purpose: to foster immediate sales and to plant seeds for tomorrow’s.
First you must identify the factors that will further your company’s long-term marketing goals. You might not have a perfect understanding of every looming competitive, economic, legal, sociological, or technological force, but you can become alert to the possibilities. Arm yourself with information on the longevity and profit potential of your present market’s lifecycle as well as budding market opportunities so you can begin positioning your business for tomorrow today.
Here are a few ways to foster future business opportunities regardless of your business size or budget.
1. Provide platinum-standard customer service. Your goal is always to exceed your customers’ expectations, but if you fall short, admit it. Many loyal repeat customers result from perfectly corrected errors.
2. Cultivate your elite customers. Your best customers—those who are easy to work with, who really like you, and who have a positive history with your company—are a goldmine of quality referrals. Strengthen existing relationships and build new ones by giving your top clients and their guests special offers, insights, and previews of your innovations.
3. Create top-of-mind awareness. Not everyone needs your product or service today, but many will at some point in the future. Capitalize on your vision of emerging needs and trends, communicated using our suite of multichannel marketing tools and techniques, to get your product in front of tomorrow’s customers now.
It takes time for the seeds you plant today to germinate into future business. Essential to all of this is to communicate effectively with your target audience. Consult with us to learn how our technology and expertise can support these efforts.
March 14, 2018
Communication = 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.
February 28, 2018
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 bottlenecks. 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.
February 12, 2018
Is 2018 the Year for a 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.
If logo redesign is important to big 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.
January 25, 2018
What Marketers Can Learn from Magazines and Newspapers
Digital marketing channels have an important place in the media mix, but as marketers have learned, ubiquity of presence doesn’t necessarily translate into greater profitability or effectiveness. Recently, an article in USA Today reinforced this conclusion. It discussed the hard copy vs. digital issue from the perspective of traditional print media, and there are important conclusions for marketers.
Despite the pounding that traditional media have taken in public opinion lately, here are a few points from the article worth noting:
- Investors are still lining up to make bids for ownership of traditional print news media. In fact, one group offered Time Inc.—not fire sale rates—but a 30% premium for its shares. The offer was rebuffed because management felt the paper had too much value.
- Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, also refused an inflated offer to buy its shares, even after a bidding war that drove up the price.
- Although margins are declining, many newspapers and magazines remain profitable. The fat has been trimmed, and profits are now about cost management and efficiency.
- What isn’t making a lot of money? Digital channels. Readers expect to have access to digital content, but after 20 years of fiddling with revenue models, publishers cannot figure out how to make it truly profitable. Readers expect digital content to be free. The revenues from the digital arms of traditional publications still cannot compete with those from print.
- Traditional publications like Time, Fortune, and The Washington Post (along with more populist publications like Sports Illustrated) have something digital channels do not—reader trust and loyalty.
What can marketers take from this? The print vs. digital debate isn’t unique to marketing, and neither are the conclusions. Whether it’s traditional news media or print and multichannel marketing, print continues to maintain a value and importance in the mix that cannot be replaced by digital channels. In order to maximize profits and reader (or customer) engagement, you have to include print.
January 11, 2018
What You Need to Know about Digital Stocks
Today, the range of stocks compatible with digital presses is vast, and thanks in part to the range of available substrates, the image quality competes with (some say exceeds) traditional offset. With all of the advances in today’s substrates, what do you still need to know when choosing paper for your next project? Recently, Joe Schemer, specialty digital product manager for Mohawk Fine Papers, spelled out his advice in Printing Impressions magazine. Here are the “must know” issues he discussed:
1. Digital stocks are available in a full range of sizes to fit today’s press formats. From 8 ½ x 11” to 20 x 29” is standard. Some mills even produce specialty sizes such as 13x30” for banners, dust jackets, and panoramic prints. If you have a specialty need, just ask!
2. Prices for digital sheets have come down. By request, even less common sheet sizes can be produced economically when ordered in volume.
3. Whether it’s extremely lightweight or card stock, or specialty finishes like linen or felt, there is a paper compatible with the press on which you will be printing. Keep in mind that digital presses can now print on textured stocks, which will increase your response rates.
4. Printing on coated sheets is standard. OEMs are working with paper mills to develop coatings specially engineered to match the stocks certified for their presses. Regardless of the individual paper mill or the presses on which their stocks will be printed, all are working provide stronger ink adhesion, no cracking on the fold, minimal jamming on press, and minimal build-up on press.
5. Despite advances in substrates and engineered coatings, it’s not one-size-fits-all. Digital production still requires matching the paper to the press and taking into account issues such as static, image quality needs, and curling. For premium projects, it’s worth paying more for a premium stock, especially if you will be producing jobs with photographic images or heavy coverage, because it does produce better results.
December 28, 2017
10 Reasons Direct Mail Is a Life Hack
Is direct mail a life hack? According to LifeHack.org, the answer is yes. At least, it’s a marketing hack every company should know. Here are 10 reasons direct mail needs to be in your marketing arsenal.
1. Increases branding and keeps your company top of mind.
2. Is one of the most inexpensive, yet most effective marketing strategies.
3. Is seen by 98% of recipients the same day it is delivered.
4. Evades the spam filter.
5. Can serve a variety of marketing goals, from short-term promotions (coupons, flyers) to an ongoing, more extensive customer retention strategy.
6. Builds long-term customer relationships. Think birthday cards, holiday reminders, and newsletters.
7. Serves as an information-gathering tool. Surveys and questionnaires are a great way to leverage direct mail.
8. Is highly measurable. Think coupons, codes, and campaign-specific landing pages, as well as call tracking.
9. Is highly targetable. With all the data available, direct mail can be targeted with extreme precision.
10. Can be a powerful part of an integrated, cross-channel marketing campaign. According to the Direct Marketing Association, using two channels increases the customers’ value by 20-60%. Across three channels, it increases the customers’ value 60-125%.
December 13, 2017
Three Tips for Getting More from Your Paper
It’s no secret, marketers are benefiting from today’s healthy economy. But competition for consumers’ shopping dollars is still fierce, and marketing dollars are under more scrutiny than ever before. One of the places you can stretch your print dollars is with smart selections in paper. Here are three easy ways to manage your paper costs without impacting the quality of your print campaigns.
1. Spend less, get more.
Paper prices fluctuate often, so if you haven't standardized on a specific paper, ask about less expensive options. Just because you notice a subtle difference between stocks doesn’t mean your customers will. (In fact, they probably won’t.) If you are mailing multi-page documents, consider switching to a lighter stock that can help you save on postage, too.
2. Try our in-house brand.
If your piece doesn't demand a specialty paper, opt to use our house stock. House paper isn’t less expensive because it’s lower quality. It’s less expensive because we purchase it in volume and pass the savings on to you.
3. Avoid the use of bleeds.
If color needs to go to the edge of the page, depending on the specs of the job, the job may need to be printed on a larger sheet of paper or on a larger press. This can increase your costs. If you don't include bleeds, your project might require less paper or be able to be run on a smaller format press. You might also be able to get a similar effect at lower cost by using colored paper.
We are experts at helping our customers maximizing their marketing budgets, including their use of paper. Need some ideas? Give us a call!
November 27, 2017
5 Reasons Print Stubbornly Refuses to Be Replaced
No matter how frequently marketing gurus prophesy the demise of print, and no matter how loudly and publicly they do it, print marketing remains the bedrock of any successful multichannel marketing program. Let’s look at five reasons why print is here to stay.
1. It’s just prettier. It doesn't matter how gorgeous your JPGs are; a beautifully printed piece will blow away your screen graphics every time.
2. You can’t avoid it. When you communicate by email, recipients can't see beyond the subject line until they open the message. With clear envelopes, windows, and exterior envelope printing, you start communicating your print message as soon as the piece arrives in the mailbox.
3. Print is one of many touchpoints. Today's complex marketing environment requires multiple touch points. According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes six to eight marketing touches to generate a viable sales lead. Repetition is critical, and print is a critical channel in the mix.
4. Print influences buying decisions. Marketers once thought that with the growth of e-commerce, printed catalogs would fade away. History indicates otherwise. Surveys find that consumers who receive printed catalogs are more likely (in one study, twice as likely) to make online purchases at the retailer’s website as those who do not.
5. Consumers trust print more. Open your e-mail. How much junk email do you receive? Unless it comes from a known brand, people are skeptical of claims made by email alone. Print carries greater weight and authenticity than digital marketing. People continue to trust messages communicated in print.
Print remains irreplaceable in today’s “what’s in it for me?” world. While e-marketing is a necessary component in any multichannel marketing campaign, print carries benefits that online channels just can’t touch.
November 17, 2017
When Is Personal Too Personal?
One of the benefits of 1:1 marketing is the ability to increase the relevance of each communication by making the message more personal. By using the information you already know about the recipient, you can communicate on a more intimate, 1:1 level. But this approach can also be misused. Individuals and businesses are very protective of their privacy these days, and rightly so.
Customers want to know that their data is not only safe but that the marketers they do business with won't misuse it. What are some first steps you can take to ensure that your customers and prospects know that you care about their privacy?
- Include an official privacy statement in your information-gathering materials.
- If you are collecting data, include a notice of physical and data security procedures and a promise of confidentiality.
- When personalizing your marketing messages, don’t disclose overly personal details (“Hey, Bob! Ready to default on that sky-high mortgage?”).
- Be transparent. Provide full details about what respondents have to do to receive any prizes or promotional items.
- Follow all opt-in regulations, including double opt-ins for email lists and providing the option to opt-out of future marketing contacts.
- Assure that respondents’ information will not be sold to third parties.
Privacy standards, both in print and online, are always evolving. So stay abreast of the discussion. Talk to your customers to find out any other concerns and address them. The more you can assure your customers that their personal information is safe with you and that it will be used appropriately, the more you will win their trust.
October 18, 2017
Why Cross-Channel Consistency Is So Important
Whether you are using direct mail, email, mobile, or signage, you have likely heard people talking about the importance of the “omnichannel” experience. New data from ForeSee shows us just why this is so important. Today, the customer’s purchase journey is often non-linear. Customers may learn about your product via email but end up purchasing in-store rather than online. They may learn about your product through direct mail, and even with a physical coupon, they may end up buying via a mobile device. ForeSee’s “Experience Index: US Retail,” shows the variation in the start and end points of the customer journey.
Of those who begin their journey in the store:
19% complete their journey on their laptop/desktop.
6% complete their journey on mobile.
74% complete their journey in-store.
Of those who begin their journey via desktop / laptop:
26% complete their journey in-store.
60% complete their journey on the desktop/laptop.
13% complete their journey on mobile.
Of those who start their journey on mobile:
25% complete their journey in-store.
40% complete their journey on the laptop/desktop.
33% complete their journey on mobile.
The takeaway? Regardless of whether your targets are reached by direct mail, email, or mobile, or whether you have grabbed their attention with sidewalk displays or in-store graphics, consumers want an experience that is positive and predictable. This means maintaining consistency across channels in design, layout, color, messaging, CTAs, and more.
This is one of the benefits of having one company manage all or most of the channels in your campaign—greater consistency and predictability in your brand messaging.
October 5, 2017
Best Practices in Personalized Marketing
If you want great marketing results, it’s important to personalize text, images, and other content based on what you know about the recipient. But just dropping in data-driven content doesn’t guarantee success. Sometimes other factors can dull your results. Maybe the offer is great, but the design is so uninteresting that nobody reads it. Or the headline is snappy and the design is great, but there is no incentive for people to respond. Let’s look at three best practices that need to be the foundation of any personalized print campaign.
Traditional marketing rules apply.
Even with personalized marketing, traditional rules hold firm. Ultimately, all of the elements — creative, message (including personalization), offer, segmentation, call to action, and incentive —need to come together to determine success.
Focus on relevance, not “personalization.”
It doesn’t matter how “personalized” a document is. If it isn’t relevant, it is worthless. Take the shoe market. You don’t want to sell orthopedic shoes to teenagers. You can deck out the mailer with text messaging terms, pictures of X-Games, and use all the contemporary lingo, but it’s not a relevant message unless a teen needs to purchase a birthday present for grandpa.
Know your customers, then market to what you know.
When the National Hockey League began 1:1 communication with its customers, it asked them to fill out a survey that indicated that 40% of the of NHL’s fan base lives outside their favorite team’s home market. That means these fans can’t easily go to games or access highlights. Imagine the opportunity for the league! So ask yourself, what don’t you know about your customers now that might allow you to create relevance in a more powerful way later? Do a customer mail or email survey. Use what you find out to speak directly to the needs and interests of your customers.
Investing in your marketing database and developing an intimate understanding of your customers takes time, dedicated resources, and manpower, but it is one of the most important investments you can make. Personalization is a powerful tool, but to get the big pay-off, it cannot work alone.
September 20, 2017
Creating Marketing Copy That Gets Read
In Confessions of an Advertising Man, David Ogilvy, founder of the highly regarded advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, wrote, “Ninety-nine percent of all advertising doesn’t sell a thing.” You don’t want your products to be in that 99%. How do you make sure you are in the coveted one percent?
You might say “personalization and relevance,” and it’s true. Personalization stops you, and relevance gets you reading further. But even the most personalized, relevant message won’t amount to much if it isn’t paired with good marketing copy. If the copy is not compelling, if it’s bland and uninformative, even the best personalization cannot carry the load. You need good, solid marketing copy that is interesting, engaging, and compelling.
To make the most of your marketing efforts, here are some fundamental principles for great copywriting you can follow:
- Be imaginative. Break out of the mold. Look for different or unconventional ways to say the same thing.
- Be a salesman. Cute and clever doesn’t get you anywhere if it doesn’t sell anything. Be creative, but also be clear. Sell benefits. Give an overt call to action. Balance creativity and salesmanship.
- Talk about your customers first. As one marketing communications site puts it, “Self-interest is the best hook.” Talk about customers’ problems, customers’ challenges, and customers’ bottlenecks. Then talk about how your products and services solve them.
- Be honest. Part of building a brand is maintaining customer loyalty and trust. That starts with honesty about the products and services you sell.
- Hire a professional editor, even if only on a freelance basis. An employee who is “good at grammar” isn’t good enough. 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. Talk to us about turning these simple rules into a standout 1:1 print campaign that will motivate your customers to action.
September 5, 2017
Did You Know Personalized Printing Is Green Printing?
When you think about personalization, do you think about lower cost per lead, higher per order values, and increased ROI? You should. But you should also get excited about how personalized printing helps you go green.
Here are three reasons why:
- Targeting means you send out fewer pieces of mail—saving trees, chemicals, and fossil fuels.
- A cleaner database means that your recipients deliver fewer pieces right to the trash can.
- Digital production has many green benefits, including no plates, no chemicals, and no spray powders.
Say you are a small college printing four-color catalogs to mail to prospective students. Each catalog is 252 pages, covering the full range of disciplines and activities. As a result, only 25% of the material is relevant to the prospective student. Now, instead of printing 252 pages, you print 64 pages of material relevant to each student. Not only does this increase the effectiveness of each booklet, but you’ve just reduced your consumption of paper, ink, and chemicals by 75%.
As another example, in a static mail campaign, you might send out 15,000 postcards to a generic list. With personalized mail, you are likely to select only a percentage of that list. This might be the top 10% of your customers, customers who are most likely to purchase certain products or customers who, based on defined triggers (such as an expiring auto lease), are most likely to be in the market for a new purchase. Now, instead of mailing 15,000 pieces, you might mail only 1,500. Not only are these offers more targeted and relevant, but you’ve just reduced your printing and mailing volume by 90%, a huge slash in your carbon footprint.
It pays to be green. Not only should you consider green alternatives because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good business. Consumers want to do business with companies that are good stewards of the environment.
So double marketing dip—personalize it!
August 31, 2017
Effectively Combine Print, Web, and Social Media Platforms
72% of consumers say they would rather connect with brands and businesses in a multichannel environment. What does that mean? Simply put, we want more access to the companies that we interact with. We want to search their website for detailed information on products and services, we want to network with them on social media sites, and we want to flip through a monthly catalog for inspiration.
Print, web, and social media are three channels necessary for reaching your target audience. When combined, these channels are very effective in building a long-term relationship with your customers. The good news is… creating a multichannel mix doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are six tips for maximizing your efforts:
1. Don’t let data paralysis keep you down.
“Multi” begins with two. Start with a simple one-two punch with email and direct mail. Or direct mail to mobile marketing video via QR Code. Add social media sharing buttons to blog posts and e-newsletters. Then add in other components one at a time.
2. Know the strengths and weaknesses of each channel.
Marketing channels are not interchangeable. Each has strengths and weaknesses, so know the pros and cons of each channel and match them to the right stage in the campaign.
3. Know your customers’ channel preferences.
For some campaigns, you may want to use multiple channels to reach the same customer at different times and in different ways. Other times, you want to communicate primarily or initially through their preferred channel(s). For example, if you offer a customer newsletter, don’t assume everyone wants the print or email version and send every person the same thing. Ask which channel they prefer, then honor their request. You’ll get more responses and improved customer loyalty that way.
4. Remember that social and mobile channels are driven by print.
If you want to grow your email and social media efforts, start with print. That’s because print is one of the key drivers of awareness of email and social media exposure and sign-ups.
5. Break down the silos.
Although multichannel campaigns don’t have to be integrated, simple reasoning says that they should be. All of these components need to work together, whether through a marketing automation system or being driven by human decision-making. This requires breaking down data silos.
6. Match channels to their place in the sales funnel.
Marketing channels are not interchangeable. They are used at different times and for different purposes. Understand the role each channel plays in your sales funnel and match the channels up appropriately.
August 15, 2017
3 Tips for Optimizing Your Multichannel Marketing
Want to energize your print campaign? Combine print with other media to amplify its effect.
The most common channel pairing with print these days is email, but you might also want to consider text messaging, banner ads, social media (such as Facebook), and search engine advertising, as well. Each channel has different benefits depending on your marketing goals and the target audience you are trying to reach. No matter which channels you choose, here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind:
1. Maintain consistent branding across all channels.
Different media have different requirements, so you can’t maintain 100% cross-channel consistency all the time. But whenever possible, use the same images, color schemes, primary messaging, and offers to maintain a consistent brand image and a consistent brand message.
2. Think strategically.
Know what role each channel is supposed to play. If you are going to combine email with print, what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to create awareness and anticipation of the print piece? Are you using email as a reminder to respond? Maybe if you’re driving traffic to a campaign-specific website, you might want to consider banner advertising in demographic hot spots.
3. Create appropriate channel-audience pairings.
Ensure that you are selecting the best combination of channels to communicate with your target audience. You’re not going to reach as many retirees with text marketing as you are Millennials, for example, and social media preferences vary, as well. Sixty-five percent of GenXers and Baby Boomers say their favorite social media network is Facebook, and while Millennials overall prefer Facebook, too, among younger Millennials (ages 18-24), the favored social media network is Instagram.
There is a learning curve associated with multichannel marketing, but the ability to amplify and reinforce your marketing message can be invaluable. Need help matching your channels to your marketing goals? Just ask!
July 27, 2017
Does 1:1 Printing Really Make a Difference?
More and more, we are hearing about print personalization, or variable data printing, to achieve higher response rates and better ROI. But does personalizing by name, geographic location, or demographic information really make that much difference? Can’t you just achieve higher response rates with a better offer? An over-sized postcard? Or a really great design?
These things do increase response rates, but they aren’t replacements for a personalized approach. Consider these research findings:
56% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name. (Accenture)
59% of consumers say that personalization influences their purchase decisions. (Infosys)
84% of consumers say personalization makes them more likely to open a direct mail piece. (InfoTrends)
Personalization works because it’s, well, personal. From a consumer perspective, it’s less about what’s good for the marketer and more about what’s good for them. Why does it work? Just think about how you are being marketed to. What motivates you as a consumer? When you shop online, you are asked to register so that the site can greet you by name. Cookies follow your every move so that when you return, the page views are customized to your purchase or viewing patterns. At the grocery store, your receipt is printed with coupons based on the items you just purchased. When you receive mail from your financial advisor, it contains information only on those funds in which you have invested or that are relevant to you based on your past investment history.
Consumers—all of us—are used to being marketed to on a 1:1 basis, even if we don’t think about it this way. Personalization has become so ingrained in our experience that we barely realize it anymore. If you aren’t incorporating personalization into your print marketing (as well as your email and other digital channels), you are out of step with marketing’s cutting edge.
July 11, 2017
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.
June 21, 2017
What's Really Motivating Your Customers?
When we think about motivating consumers to make a purchase, we think about using the right mailing list, creating the right offer, and having a compelling call to action. Whether creating a direct mail piece, a sales letter, or a magazine advertisement, those elements are critical. But the reasons people buy can also be more complex. Many times, emotional factors are usually at play. For example, if you are selling exotic vacations, you aren’t just selling a cost-effective hotel with great food and a seafront view.
· You are selling relaxation.
· You are tapping into the desire to escape from the daily grind of meetings, presentations, and child rearing.
· You are selling the desire to be catered to.
Tapping into these deep emotional wells can help you sell more. Instead of mailing a postcard with the headline, “Get 25% off plane tickets today!” Try, “Don’t you wish the office were a Thousand Miles Away?” Or, “Isn’t It Time that Someone Pampered YOU?”
Think about a parent dreaming of excitement beyond the children’s homework, playing shuttle for soccer practice, and meetings for the PTA. A trip offering whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, and skydiving might tap deep emotional needs for adventure. Try a postcard with an image of the face of a skydiver, wide-eyed and exhilarated—cheeks flapping in the wind—that says, “You, too, can FLY!”
Whether you are developing direct mailers, sales letters, or magazine ads . . .
· Think about unmet frustrations and deeper emotions that might drive recipients to make a change.
· List the potential motivators. To be recognized at work? Get a promotion? Be challenged? Break out of the mold? Feel empowered, youthful, and sexy?
· Show — don’t tell. Use the power of graphics to tell a story.
Emotions are powerful marketing tools. Emotionally driven purchases tend to be less price-sensitive and more spontaneous. The medium of print has the ability to tap into those emotions and motivate behavior in a way that no other medium can do. Take advantage of it!
June 7, 2017
Benefit from Effective Branding
An effective brand creates an enduring perception in the minds of your customers and distinguishes you from your competitors. An investment in branding can pay off in many ways.
Increase mind share. When you want a cola, you think of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. If you need a bandage, Band-Aid comes to mind. Are you top-of-mind in your market segment? The sensory components of printed materials engage readers on an emotional level, connecting customers to your brand in a way electronic marketing can’t match. Consider incorporating a gloss varnish, embossing, a distinctive die cut, or one of the many textures now available in papers and other substrates.
Build loyalty. A memorable experience with a quality brand creates loyalty, which translates not only into the likelihood of a repeat sale but also an increased probability that the customer will buy related items from the same brand.
Benefit from referrals. People who have never used your product or service may still recommend it if they’ve encountered your brand enough times to develop a sense of familiarity. Printed collateral can be more visible to the casual observer as the prospect doesn’t have to consciously seek out your message. Include your social media information on your printed products.
Command a premium price. A powerful brand can lift your product or service out of the ambit of a commodity, so you have buyers eager to pay more for what you’re selling. Many companies sell coffee, so what makes people stand in line and pay top dollar at Starbucks?
Lower your marketing cost in the long run. Although you have to invest resources to create a strong brand, once it is established you can maintain it without having to re-tell your story. Many budget-conscious marketers rely heavily on electronic media, but research shows that people still prefer print. We simply don’t have the same visceral reaction to an e-brochure as a professionally printed piece.
Less risk for the consumer equals more sales for you. If someone is put on the spot to make a decision, he will most likely choose the brand-name supplier. Consider monthly postcard marketing so prospects interact with your brand regularly. Printed materials have the advantage over electronic media based on portability and permanence.
Building an effective brand is a continuous process. Evaluate your brand’s market position periodically to make sure it’s fresh and relevant.
May 24, 2017
Study: Cross-Channel Marketing Use Nearly Doubles
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the effort to expand the number of marketing channels you are using and invest in deeper integration between them, just take a look at the data.
According to a study just released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Winterberry Group (April 2017), nearly 60% of U.S. digital marketing and media practitioners now engage in cross-channel marketing. This is up from 33% one year ago.
It’s no wonder. SailThru finds that 72% of consumers would rather connect with brands and businesses through multi-channel. In a B2C environment, multi-channel B2C campaigns see a 24% greater return on investment. Multichannel shoppers also spend 3x more than single channel shoppers.
Not surprisingly, marketers are increasing the number of channels they use. More than half of marketers now use 3-4 marketing channels. This is up from 44% of marketers one year earlier. 52% of multichannel marketers say they “usually” or “always” hit their financial targets! Want to be among them? Here are some of the channels you should be integrating:
The trick isn’t simply using more channels, however. It’s not about volume—but more about strategy. It’s about integrating the right channels at the right time to reach the right prospects on the channels they use most. This can be daunting, especially if you have limited resources to invest. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Let us help you navigate the multichannel world and create campaigns that use the right mix of channels for your products, target audience, and marketing goals.
May 3, 2017