5 Steps to Breaking Through

Your customers are bombarded with marketing messages–email, SMS text messaging, newsletters, direct mail, and social media. How can you break through all that clutter? Get back to the basics of great marketing!

  1. Find a true differentiator.

Everyone has “quality products and great service” these days. What makes your brand unique? Do you serve a specific niche? Do you have a different approach to a specific problem or technology? Define what truly separates you from the pack.

  1. Find the right positioning.

How is your competition positioned? How are they differentiating? Knowing this, you can position yourself accordingly. If your competition is focusing on price, for example, you might focus on features. If they are using email and web marketing, maybe you should use print.

  1. Target your messaging.

Don’t just know your competition—know your customers. Divide your marketing list into targeted demographic or psychographic segments so that you can target your message accordingly.

  1. Know your channels.

Personalization includes channel preferences. Know which channels your customers are most likely to respond to. Some people prefer to click through a link in a personalized email. Others prefer a phone number on a direct mail piece. Others prefer to scan a QR Code. Capitalize on these channel preferences to further personalize the experience.

  1. Layer up.

Great marketing is never about a single channel. The most effective marketing coordinates multiple channels to touch customers in different ways at different times. Use inbound marketing techniques to get people to fill out an online survey, then follow up with a personalized mailer or brochure. Or send a postcard, then follow up with an email to boost response.

Breaking through the clutter doesn’t have to be complicated. Use these five basics of great marketing to get your message seen and heard!

5 Tips to Selecting Images that Win Customers

Do you have the right images to reinforce your message and engage your target audience? Let’s look at a few ideas to help you select photos and illustrations that help to achieve your campaign objectives.

  1. Mirror your target audience. The quickest way to let your customers know your product is right for them is to use images reflecting the same demographic. A company promoting a new perfume might show a 35- to 44-year-old woman surrounded by admirers. A health club might use this same age demographic but change the image to athletic men and women.
  2. Empathize with your prospect. A working mother is anxiously looking at the clock as it approaches 5:00 p.m., wondering what she will serve for dinner. A man looks out the window of a crowded bus and sees the sign for a car dealership promoting good cars on limited budgets. Use images that empathize with your customers’ challenges.
  3. Demonstrate your value proposition. Illustrate how your product will help prospects solve a problem. A food chain promoting its carryout menu might present the working mother as she puts a hot, healthy meal on the table for her family. The car dealership could show the man from the bus speeding away in a clean and dependable vehicle.
  4. Be authentic. Instead of a stock photo of a multicultural team laughing together around the water cooler, incorporate likenesses of your own employees in real offices, or the actual delivery truck customers will see pulling up to their business or residence. If a prospect can believe in your pictures, he can believe in your words as well.
  5. Reinforce the message you intend to convey. Using images that reflect what people care about is a great way to engage customers and keep them coming back.

Need help selecting the right images? Let our top-notch designers help!

Reaching Customers Is About the “Why?”

When it comes to reaching customers with your marketing message, whether it’s through print, email, social, or mobile, sometimes it seems like trying to get the attention of a playground full of screaming school children. You might think that nothing could break through the din, but if you say the right thing — say, “FREE ICE CREAM!” — suddenly, they all have ears.

Breaking through with your marketing message is no different. It’s about finding the reason — the “why” — the recipient should respond. In marketing literature, we see this “why” described in terms like psychographic motivations, behavior traits, and category interactions, but when it comes down to it, it’s just understanding what motivates someone.

Here are 3 steps to getting at the “why.”

  1. Understand the context behind the data.

In reviewing your data, you may discover that there is a spike in purchases from women 30-49 years old living in the suburbs. Now you need to find out why the spike exists. What’s happening in this demographic group that’s driving the change? This will allow you to better target the message.

  1. Understand your customers’ journey.

Not every customer responds the same way at every stage of the customer journey. Customers will have different needs at the discovery stage than they do the decision stage. Target your message not only to the person, but to where they are along this continuum.

  1. Use lifestyle, current events, and other context to frame the message.

Tap into current events, the customer’s lifestage, and any other relevant areas of context when creating your message. The more you can frame their need for your product to something specific happening in their lives, the more easily you will be able to move them to make a purchase decision.

Need help understanding how to motivate your audience? Let our business development and marketing experts help!

 

 

 

 

Design & Copy Tips That Get You Noticed

When designing any marketing communication, it’s important to stay on the lookout for tips to help with the design, the list, the offer, and the CTA. However, tips to improve readability can make a big difference, too.

If people can’t read the message easily or if you have inadvertently created stumbling blocks that limit their ability to absorb it, your response could be diminished. Improve the readability of your message and you will improve your response rates, conversions, and sales.

Let’s look at five tips for improving readability.

  1. Be specific.

People are drawn to details. Pat Friesen, author of The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook, gives the following examples:

  • “Save money.”
  • “Save hundreds of dollars.”
  • “Save an average of $478.22 per year.”

“’Save money’ is a powerful draw, but ‘save hundreds of dollars’ is more compelling,” she says. “Even better is ‘Save an average of $478.22 per year.’ We see this approach a lot in the auto industry.”

  1. Be relevant.

People’s eyes are drawn to messaging that talks about things that matter to them. For example, your audience has children about to graduate from high school. You can add, “Save money to put your child through college.”

“Pair that life stage incentive with the specific detail of saving $478.22 per year and it makes a strong statement,” Friesen explains.

  1. Add images.

Even the most specific, relevant copy can fall on deaf ears without an image to accompany it. For example, you might create a banner ad that says, “Download your free retirement guide” that goes totally unnoticed, even if it’s hitting your ideal target audience. Add an image of the cover, however, and suddenly the ad gets noticed.

Images in email newsletters and other digital media can look flat, so try adding drop shadows for dimension and depth.

  1. Use numerals when possible.

When discussing numbers in running text, use numerals instead of spelling them out. This makes those details pop. Readers’ eyes will be drawn to numerals right away, even in the middle of a paragraph.

Try it! Which one of these stands out most to you?

  • 10,000
  • 10 thousand
  • Ten thousand
  • $10,000
  • $10,000.000
  1. Avoid using all caps.

For the most part, the human eye has difficulty distinguishing between words and letters in all caps. Avoid using all caps except in rare instances.

If you must use all caps, use smart font choices to make the words more readable. “A general rule of thumb is that serif fonts are easier to read in print,” notes Patrick Fultz, president and chief creative officer of DM Creative Group (Woodstock, VT). “But on the Internet, serif can fall apart. The thicks and thins break up. Traditionally, sans serif font reads better online.”

Want more ideas for great design and type that make your message stand out? Give us a call!

Taken from the webinar “Design & Copy: Little Things You Don’t Want to Overlook (2016 DMDay Virtual Conference Session)” hosted by “Direct Marketing News.”

Print and Digital: Don’t Replace—Integrate

Today’s marketing environment is loud. It’s busy. It can numb the senses. That’s why it is more important than ever to integrate both digital and print media. Digital and print media reinforce one another. The reinforcement helps you break through the clutter and be heard.

But be careful. Integration doesn’t mean interchangeable, as one new survey shows. Consumers still want a choice.

A new survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by Toluna reveals that U.S. consumers are unhappy with corporate initiatives forcing them into digital-only communication and eliminating paper-based options. Many of the questions related to bills and statements, but the results apply to marketing communications, too.

Consumers want to be able to choose whether to receive paper bills and statements, and they don’t want to have to pay extra to do it.  For example, 79% of respondents want the option to continue receiving printed information to provide a “more permanent” record, 77% would be unhappy if they were asked to pay a premium for paper bills and statements, and more than three-quarters (79%) felt that paper options were easier to read compared to screens.

There is also suspicion about the motives of companies forcing their customers to go paperless. Overwhelmingly (85%), consumers agreed that cost savings is the main reason companies use claims such as “Go Paperless—Go Green” or “Go Paperless—Save Trees.” More than half (57%) question the truthfulness of such claims.

So use digital and print-based communications wisely. Email makes sense when you need to touch base quickly, such as sending company news, alerting customers to a flash sale, or offering reminders. But don’t ask email to do more than it is designed to do. Give customers a choice, and use print where digital communications are not as strong.

For example, print remains critical for . . .

  • In-depth communications
  • Contacts that contain highly personal information
  • Mailings that involve brand trust

Studies also show that information is easier for people to understand and recall in print, so use print for “weightier” topics and messages that require attention to detail. If you want to move customers to digital communication, ask first. Don’t make the decision for them.

Does it cost more to send print? Yes, but creating the right match between the channel and the message will reap big benefits.

3 Steps to Making A Colorful Impact

Did you know that, according to CCI Inc., consumers make a subconscious judgment about people, their environment, or products within 90 seconds of viewing and that between 62% and 90% of their decision-making is based on color alone? A University of Loyola, Maryland study found that color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.

Color is power! According to the American Psychological Association, by hanging an extra “tag” of data on visual scenes, color helps people to process and store images more efficiently than black-and-white. As a result, color impresses images more deeply into people’s memories.

Consider the current trend toward retro packaging. Major brands, including Cheerios to Skippy, Doritos, and Tide, are throwing back to the 70’s, 60’s, and even the 40’s with styles and colors that are deeply familiar to consumers. By tapping into happy childhood memories, they are creating positive associations that help to sell products.

Another example of the power of color can be seen in the addition of green ketchup to the Heinz brand. According to Junk Food News, more than 10 million bottles of Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup were sold in the first seven months following its introduction. Heinz factories worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep up with demand. The new green ketchup has generated the highest sales increase in the brand’s history.

So, what can you do to tap into the power of color?

  1. Make color a priority. Really put thought into your choices. Make great choices in using color to draw out the desired emotion from your target audience.
  2. Use great graphics. It’s worth spending a little extra money on artwork, photographs, and design to really make your color pop.
  3. Manage your color carefully. Work with us to manage your color all the way through the process. This starts with submitting images in the right color space (CMYK rather than RGB), using established printing standards to set color profiles, and working with us to optimize your color for our color proofing system.

These basic steps will go a long way toward taking your color from ho, hum to WOW!

 

 

Adding Email Addresses = Better Results!

Did you know that you can greatly increase the results you get from your print marketing by adding email addresses to your marketing database? It’s true.

Clients who are willing to provide their email addresses tend to be more engaged with your company, more brand loyal, and more open to multiple marketing touches. When marketing to these people—regardless of channel—you are likely to get better results.

Having an email address also gives you the opportunity to send email teasers prior to the landing of a direct mail piece or to follow up to a direct mail campaign, nudging nonresponders into action.

How can you gather email addresses? Here are some ideas.

  • Just ask. Next time you talk to customers, ask if they are willing to provide an email address. You might be surprised how many addresses you can gather simply by asking.
  • Do a customer survey. Mailing surveys to get feedback on customers’ perceptions and experience with your company is always a good idea. When customers respond, ask them to update their contact information at the same time. That includes their email address.
  • Use incentives. Use your website to allow customers to enter to a sweepstakes or respond to a free offer. When they opt-in, ask them to provide their email address before they access the offer.
  • Add a form to your website. When people visit your site, make it easy for them to sign up for e-newsletters and other communications. Also make it easy to update their contact information, and, oh, by the way, their email address, too!

These are just some ideas. Talk to us about these and other techniques for building your email database and driving even better responses to your print marketing.