Paragon Direct Blog
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
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.
April 10, 2017
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.
March 30, 2017
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.
March 17, 2017
Questions to Ask Before Any Logo Redesign
A logo is the most visible graphical representation of a company. It provides an anchor for the visual elements in all of your other marketing materials, and when associated with an excellent product or service, it can carry goodwill and brand awareness. Conversely, if your logo has low brand recognition or a dated look, it’s time to consider a redesign.
If you are considering a logo redesign, here are some things to discuss with your designer:
- What is your unique selling proposition? Where does your product fall on the quality versus price spectrum?
- Who are your competitors and target customers?
- What are your plans for how the logo will be used beyond business cards and stationery? This will allow the designer to create a logo that is appropriately scalable.
- If your logo relies on gradients, reflections, or other digital effects, how will it look embroidered on a shirt or imprinted on a promotional item? One test is to look at your logo in its simplest form. Can it hold its own in black-and-white?
- Can digital enhancements be added for specific applications?
Answering these questions will help your designer position your brand appropriately, both for the market and for the intended marketing uses.
But let creativity abound. There’s no single formula for creating an effective logo. Consider the highly visible Microsoft, Olympic and Starbucks redesigns. Microsoft unveiled its first new logo in a quarter of a century last year, adding a splash of color and a graphical element to its name. Similarly, the new Olympic logo spelled out Rio 2016 and used the yellow, green and blue of the Brazilian flag. Contrast that with the latest Starbucks logo, which uses only one color and no reference to the Starbucks name or coffee. The green, twin-tailed mermaid represents the brand’s personality rather than the product.
If logo redesign is important to these marquee brands, it’s certainly something for your business to consider. However, test market any changes with your target audience before embarking on a full-scale redesign. The price of a logo redesign (again) is more than just the cost of the image. It’s the expense of rolling it out across your enterprise.
February 27, 2017
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.
February 17, 2017
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.
January 26, 2017