3 Tips for Maximizing Your Print Investment

Are you tired of hearing people talk about the benefits of going entirely paperless? We are! Especially when it comes to marketing, that’s just not a smart move. When our inboxes are clogged with spam and any company can look big and successful online, print carries weight and inspires confidence in a way that digital channels do not. People just trust print more.

While digital channels have their place, now is not the time to give up print. But smart marketers are making their print contacts even more powerful. Let’s take a look at three strategies that can help you make the most of your investment.

  1. Focus on recent customers. Clients who have purchased from you recently know who you are. They may just need a simple reminder, such as a postcard or letter, to give them a reason to buy from you again. If you’re looking to stretch your marketing dollars, try focusing on recent customers first.
  2. Know your top customers. Pay particular attention to retaining customers with the highest profit margin. Then target prospects with similar profiles so you can reap new customers that are likely to be profitable, as well. If you don’t know who your top customers are, a proactive investment in data analysis can reap big returns.
  3. Be relevant. You can only satisfy buyer motivations if you understand what your prospects love and hate—their hearts’ desires and what keeps them awake at night. Knowing your customers and engaging in sincere dialogue about what they want and why they want it will pay off in repeat sales and quality referrals.

Print marketing is evolving. Success is no longer based on trying to get a “same to all” message in front of as many people as possible. It’s about marketing smart and marketing relevant, and using the tangible, confidence-building medium of print to its maximum advantage.

Stretching the Budget with Smart Paper Choices

One of the biggest expenses in any direct mail campaign is paper, so planning wisely can help you stretch the dollars in your marketing budget. Here are some simple ideas for specing paper that can reap huge dividends in both creativity and cost.

 

When we think about paper, the first thing that often comes to mind is aesthetics: brightness, texture, and decorative elements. Watermarked linens convey gravitas. Less bright stocks with imperfections reflect environmental responsibility. Super bright whites and smooth textures convey a professional image.

 

Designers use these characteristics to elicit an emotional reaction from their audiences. However, many of these stocks carry a premium price tag, often 20% or more. By making a few adjustments, you can often get a great stock with many or all of the same characteristics at a lower cost.

 

For example, you might be looking for a 100% recycled paper, when a percentage of recycled content will do. Stocks with 25%, 30%, or even 50% recycled content will provide you with an environmentally responsible image, often at a lower cost.

 

You may want to consider alternatives to uncoated stocks, as well. Many designers specify uncoated paper thinking it is less expensive when, in fact, the opposite is often true. Coated stocks are produced in high volumes, so the market dictates the price. Many clients are surprised by the variety of coated paper available to them at lower prices.

 

Sometimes keeping down cost might be as simple as ordering the same stock from a different mill. Other times, it might require a calculated decision to choose a different but compatible stock, such as one with a lower basis weight or lower brightness.

 

So before specing your paper, let us help you do some planning upfront. You might be surprised by how much money you can save.

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.