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Social media is not simply about putting content out into the world, but rather about creating a two-way relationship with your audience—listening, engaging and building relationships.

Just how powerful is the business card? Read these four reasons why you should take time to print your business cards now for use after the quarantine.

Your brand has a purpose, and telling that story is a valuable content marketing tactic. How can you use storytelling to grow?

If you’re looking to make the most of your small business marketing efforts during the month of May, check out some of these ideas to get started and grow.

Just like our homes, businesses need a little freshening up every now and then. Today, we’re going to talk about six solutions to spring clean your small business.

While every business encounters its own unique situations, navigating this crisis and carrying your business through it will take continued marketing.

When it comes to supporting local business, you’re not just helping your community—it supports you too. Check out these reasons why going local helps you out in the long run.

Memes are a great way to engage with customers, but as a business, you have to walk a fine line. How can your marketing use memes effectively? Today, we’re going to discuss some ideas to get started.

While business seems to be screeching to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus, social media rages on. Now is a good time to build your brand and show your values and personality online.

What is evergreen content and why is it so important? Let’s dive in and see how you can start optimizing evergreen content.

How can businesses and individuals best reach out to consumers during the new spring season? Luckily, we have five super springtime marketing ideas to get you started.

Check out some of the ways humor can help your marketing campaigns, and even a few tips to establish your brand of humor.

If you want to grow your business and market online, here are a few reasons why you should implement LinkedIn into your social media strategy.

Writing an effective mission statement is vital to building a successful business strategy. Try out these tips to make sure your mission statement is as compelling as possible.

In just a few short weeks, every college student will be enjoying spring break, a week of relaxation, rejuvenation and free time for shopping. How can your small business tap into this time and get noticed by college students?

Taking a stance on a hot topic might seem like the right thing to do, but it can have a huge impact on the perception of your business. Consider the pros and cons before you do—or don’t—take action.

Infographics include information for consumers, but in a way that’s visually appealing, with short, impactful tidbits of content. Create effective infographics for your business with these helpful tips.

Your culture sets you apart from other employers, either in a good way or… not so good way. Ensure a great company culture that supports employees (and clients) with this handful of tips.

How exactly can you utilize local search engine optimization for your website? Here are the first few steps in integrating local SEO best practices for small businesses.

Great content marketing moves the needle, and blogging is the best place to start. Read these five tips for starting a successful blog for your business.

Commit to change with this handful of new approaches to your marketing efforts.

When it comes to marketing, most small businesses stick to the traditional tactics. But branching into areas where few businesses tend to go can come with high rewards and set your business apart—like publishing a book.

‘Tis the season of giving, but for your small business, that might be easier said than done.

An effective landing page is the backbone of any online marketing campaign. Draw in visitors, explain your value and generate leads for your business.

Improve your email address capture to boost your distribution list and sales.

3 Tips for Keeping that Project on Time

How the marketing world has changed! Whether you are being asked to produce projects in print, email, mobile, or for your website, schedules are compressed. There are more channels to integrate. Everything is more urgent. How do you keep everything running on time and on a budget? Here is a quick guide from Workfront, a project management platform, for simplifying the project management process. These steps apply whether you use third-party project management software or not.

1. Improve the intake process. Most marketing departments have requests coming in from multiple directions. How do you keep track of how much work is coming in, what the expectations are, and what the priorities should be?

• Create a single funnel for all work requests. Whether it’s one person, a dedicated email address, or a software program, create a single point of contact. No more sticky notes, text message requests, or “desk flybys.”
• Develop a template that gathers the details of each project. What is the scope? What is the timeframe? Collecting all (and we mean all!) of the information upfront in a systematic, standardized way allows you to prioritize and manage projects effectively.
• Set up a response protocol. How many times do people submit a second request because they think the first one fell into a deep, dark hole? Respond to each request within a set time frame.

Step 2: Set up a standardized workflow. Have weekly kickoff meetings with all of the stakeholders. Get agreement on timelines and details. You don’t want anyone coming back later and saying, “I didn’t agree to that.” Or, “That’s not what we discussed.” Ensure that everyone is in alignment with the scopes upfront (no scope creep!).

Also answer questions such as:
• Who will be spearheading each project? Someone must be ultimately accountable for moving the project along.
• What is the schedule for updates? With regular, detailed updates, things stay on task, and people are held accountable.
• Are any of these projects repeatable? Whether it’s direct mail, a landing page, or an email blast, setting up templates for a similar and ongoing project can save you tons of time.

Step 3: Streamline approvals with digital proofing. Establish a clear understanding of who needs to review and approve work. When does that work need to be approved? When possible, collaborate in a digital tool that gives everyone visibility into the process.

It doesn’t take specialized tools to improve the project management workflow. It requires stakeholders working through a centralized point of contact, in a centralized environment, so everyone stays in the loop. Set up protocols, communicate expectations, and stay consistent. Then watch things move along more smoothly.

Learn what UX is and how to apply it to your company’s marketing, chiefly your website.

There Is No “I” in “Personal”

You’ve heard the phrase, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” So it is with print and digital personalization. By itself, data is just that—data. To be truly personal, it takes a collective effort to capture the customer’s attention and create relevant communications that move the needle. Let’s look at some of the most common marketing elements that marketers combine with personalization to maximize response rates.

1. Audience selection.
Great results start with having a highly targeted audience that is more likely than average to respond to your offer. A home improvement contractor might target new movers. A boutique salon might target female residents within a specific ZIP Code. Layering on personalized information, such as name and offers based on household income, are a bonus.

2. Stand-out design.
Personalized messaging is powerful, but only if people read it. You have to draw recipients’ attention in the first place. To do this, marketers often use unusual design elements, such as oversized postcards, clear envelopes, or lumpy mail, to capture recipients’ attention long enough for the personalized message to get seen.

3. Remind them. With even the best offer, people need to be reminded to respond now and then. You can improve response rates by sending follow-up postcards or emails (or both). Remove recipients’ names from the follow-up list once they respond. Something as simple as a reminder card or email can boost response rates significantly.

4. Mix up your channels. Effective campaigns use multiple channels to reinforce the message. Pair postcards with email and social media mentions, then use great in-store signage as the coup de gras.

5. High-value incentive. This technique is common in lead generation or information gathering campaigns. To motivate recipients to respond to an initial call to action, you might offer a gift or monetary incentive, such as a restaurant gift card or entry into a sweepstakes.

Personalization is a powerful tool, but it’s not a magic wand. Like all marketing elements, it works best when it is part of a collective effort.

Putting your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere doesn’t have to be daunting. Here are a few basic tips to get you going.

Even in the digital age, print's time-tested and proven effectiveness deserve to be part of your next campaign.

You’ve heard about content marketing, but is it right for your business? Here are three approaches to ensure investing in this strategy pays off.

Getting Content Marketing Right

We hear a lot of about content marketing these days. Why is it so important? Whether it’s in print, email, or mobile, content marketing builds customer trust, engagement, and loyalty, which are the foundations of long-term revenues and growth. Here are five steps to getting it right.

1. Have a brand message.

Boil your brand messaging down into a simple statement that reflects both your product and your value proposition. Some well-known examples are McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” and Nike’s “Just do it.” Having an over-arching brand message helps you maintain consistency and focus in your broader print and digital marketing efforts.

2. Use metrics to gauge results.

How you incorporate content marketing into an overall marketing strategy will depend on what you want to achieve. Use metrics to further specific marketing goals, including:

• Sales volume
• Market share
• Number of leads
• Cost per lead
• Length of sales cycle

Put numbers to these goals and time frames to achieve them.

3. Speak your audience’s language.

You will speak differently to moms raising children than you will to twenty-somethings just starting their first job. Have a detailed knowledge of who your audience is and what makes them tick. Craft your images and messaging to each segment.

4. Keep branding consistent.

All of your content should reflect consistent branding. Place someone in charge of managing your content strategy and set up guidelines for elements such as logos, brand colors, images, and fonts, styles, and sizes of text. Remember that all of your brand elements must work across multiple channels, including print, email, and mobile.

5. Target the stage of the sales funnel.

Not only can your customers be segmented into different target groups, but they are also at different stages along their buying journeys. For example, someone who needs your product but isn’t yet aware of your brand isn’t ready to skip right to product selection and pricing. Know where customers are along the journey and craft the right message to hit them at the right time.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be, and you don’t need to go it alone. Give us

Surveys give your customers chances to voice their opinions, and your company can take them into consideration so you can better serve your customers.

What Drives Color Trends?

What influences the graphic designers who are designing your marketing collateral, direct mail, packaging, and displays? According to Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, five factors are impacting the use of color in any design project:

1. How the eye sees color.

This refers to the interaction of the object, the light source, and the observer. The same color appears different to the eye based on lighting conditions. Depending on how and where color is used, color choices will differ.

2. The culture around us.

Design trends are influenced by the culture around us, including colors of state, colors of religion, color conventions, and colors of groups (sports teams, corporations, organizations, schools).

3. Psychology of color.

Not everyone agrees on the emotions or meaning that colors evoke, but there is little disagreement that certain colors inspire certain emotions. Use color to do more than look pretty. Use it to influence emotion.

4. Color fads, trends, and cycles.

There will always be color fads, trends, and cycles. To anticipate emerging trends, Bredenfoerder suggests watching the New York runways and the Hollywood red carpet, since fashion designers are often harbingers of the trends that reach the world of print and digital design.

5. Color influence and forecasting.

Color forecasting is an active, ongoing creative process that incorporates more substantial influences such as politics, medicine, and culture. Today, the yearning for simpler things of life can be seen in color trends that relate to playfulness, nature, and joy.

The takeaway? Color is a powerful tool, but just like fonts and design style, they are always shifting. Don’t get stuck in the past.

Outdoor advertising is more than just billboards; it can include any medium from benches to buses to window displays. Let us tell you all about the benefits of outdoor advertising.

Here are just a few benefits you might discover when you join a professional organization.

If you’re looking to redesign your website or simply improve the performance of your homepage, keep reading for our list of must-have homepage elements.

Print and Digital: Complements, but Not Interchangeable

In the marketing world, we regularly hear about print and digital marketing being used together. Digital and print media reinforce one another, so rather than seeing the two as competitors, marketers are encouraged to integrate them. However, integration doesn’t mean that the two channels are interchangeable, as one new survey shows. Consumers still want a choice.

A survey commissioned by Two Sides North America 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, and 77% would be unhappy if they were asked to pay for it. 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. Use email when you need to touch base quickly, such as sending company news, alerting customers to a flash sale, or offering reminders. Use print where digital communications are not as strong, such as for . . .

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

Before you ditch yours, check out our reasons why you should still be using one to navigate the business world.

Is Your Print Project Really Finished?

Any marketer has access to high-quality printing, but far fewer take the time to invest in high-quality coating. For those that do, the extra time can make the difference between buyers seeing your project as “a nice piece” and a really great, memorable one. Let’s look at three reasons you might want to add a coating before your project goes “live” into the hands of your target audience.

1. Protection. Sometimes a project needs that extra level of protection to keep it looking its best. Printed pieces can be exposed to a wide variety of harsh environmental conditions, including mailing equipment, high levels of moisture and dirt, high-traffic conditions (such as retail signage and displays), and constant handling. Coating provides an important level of protection that keeps the piece looking its best. If you need full waterproof properties, you may want to consider a laminate.

2. Gloss. Shine adds sparkle and impact. It instantly conveys the impression of value and quality. When you print or mail a piece with a high-gloss coating, you are telling recipients, “You matter!” UV coating offers the hardest coated surface and the highest level of brilliance and sheen.

3. Special effects. The number of options for specialty coatings is exploding. Spot varnish, for example, highlights specific areas of the printed piece for visual interest and impact. (Think lips popping out on a lipstick ad.) Soft touch creates a printed piece with a velvety finish. It produces a wonderful tactile feel, with the added benefit of offering fingerprint resistance, as well. Some specialty varnishes can be enhanced with effects such as glitter, tint, and scents. If you want to use a laminate, you can even get holographic effects.

Different finishes have different benefits and drawbacks. They also have different ranges of cost. Talk to us about the differences between coating types and ask to see samples. Then use coatings to make your next project shine.

It can be difficult to stay on top of all the words and phrases marketers need to know. We’ve compiled a handy list of definitions you can reference anytime.

If you’re ready to learn to write attention-grabbing headlines that get results, then look no further. Check out these steps for crafting compelling headlines.

Nurtured Prospects Are Higher-Value Prospects

Lead nurturing is the process of drawing prospects into the sales funnel, then “dripping” relevant information to them via print, email, or other channels to keep them moving through the funnel until they make a purchase.

Lead nurturing is a powerful tool, but it is a process unfamiliar to many marketers. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. It’s worth learning!

Let’s look at five types of lead nurturing campaigns and how they can boost your bottom line.

1. Product-focused campaigns
Once someone “raises their hand” to show an interest in your products, your job has only begun. Now you can begin feeding them content such as case studies, white papers, and data sheets. Give them enough information, and the right information at the right stage of their buyer journeys, to make a purchase decision.

2. Overcoming objections
Part of a customer’s journey is asking questions, so feed them information that anticipates those questions and answers their objections. This might include technical papers, customer testimonials, or analysis from industry experts. A comparison/contrast with competitive products might be in order.

3. Lead re-engagement campaigns
At some point, prospects can become disengaged from the process. Maybe they were wooed away by a competitor. Maybe they handed the project off to someone else. Or maybe they just got busy. Blog posts, case studies, and customer testimonials are great ways to renew their interest.

4. Promotional/closing campaigns
After a prospect has been exposed to escalating “drips” of relevant content, it is time to close the deal. Send a promotional offer or specific, personalized call to action to get them to pull the trigger.

5. “Top of mind” campaigns
Even once someone becomes a customer, don’t stop pursuing them. Keep that relationship going with a welcome letter, postcard, or information kit. Make new customers feel valued and appreciated, then stay top of mind with educational newsletters, tips and tricks postcards, and regular “drip” emails to keep them engaged until they are ready to make another purchase.

Need help planning a lead nurturing campaign? Give us a call!

Blogs can do a lot for your business, and we’re here to tell you exactly what benefits they can deliver.

“Customer personas,” or “buyer personas,” have been buzzwords in the marketing sphere recently. We’re here to tell you all about these marketing tools and why you should be using them.

3 Tips for Creating a Visual Brand

Top brands have key written marketing strategies, but they have visual strategies too. Think about some of today’s most iconic brands—Nike, McDonald’s, Disney. Just one glance and the entire brand—its core messages and key products—rush into your mind. Do you have a visual brand? If not, how can you create one?

1. Be consistent with brand colors.
There’s a reason top brands place such importance on their brand colors. Think Tide Orange and Coca-Cola Red. Not only are these brand colors used for products and logos, but they infuse every aspect of these companies’ marketing, both digital and print.
Even if you don’t have an official brand color, identify colors that are consistent with your company message and image. Use them consistently throughout your materials. Color can be a consistent presence in all of your marketing materials that triggers visual memory.

2. Tell your story in pictures.
What’s your brand story? How can images of your products tell that story? For example, from a branding perspective, Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles. It sells independence and freedom. Visuals of the open road are as important as the motorcycle itself. Likewise, Lexus doesn’t sell cars. It sells prestige. Its advertising shows cars driven by men in expensive suits or by women dripping with luxury.
What feelings do your print materials need to evoke? Are your products designed to give people financial freedom, make them better moms, or boost their social standing? If so, what images will reinforce those messages?

3. Go professional.
Stock imagery works in a pinch, but it tells a general story, not your story. Try hiring a professional photographer and using pictures of your storefront or corporate offices, your employees, and your products in use (rather than just house shots). Build a visual identity based on real people, places, and things associated with your company.

Visual branding is a powerful tool — use it!

  • Canon
    Canon
  • Xerox
    Xerox
  • LM
    LM
  • Heidelberg
    Heidelberg

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