Direct mail is one of the most effective ways for nonprofits to solicit donations. However, these efforts work best in concert with other channels.
As the U.S. economy gradually begins to reopen, you may want your marketing strategy to look different than it has in the past. Why? Because the market is in flux, and consumers are re-evaluating existing brand relationships.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
5 Tips for Keeping Customers Coming Back
You want to keep your most profitable customers, right? Right! According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. You can double your profitability just by keeping the customers you already have. So how do you do that? Here are five tips for keeping your customers coming back.
1. Go holistic. The more you know your customers, the easier it is to know what to do to keep them. Start by tying together all the data you have on each customer to get one holistic view. For example, John W. Smith in your mailing database may also be Johnny Smith Jr. in your email list and J.W. Smith on Facebook. Most customers need help tying these databases together. If so, contact us, and we can help.
2. Make it easy. Reduce barriers to communicating with you. Give people more options, whether it’s via chat box or Facebook Messenger. Make it easier to buy and make repeat purchases. Something as simple as pre-filling response cards and subscription forms can improve the customer experience.
3. Treat them like real people. Customers don’t like feeling like a number. Take what you know about them and personalize text and images, whether in print or email. Invest in expanding your database to include new variables that will increase relevance.
4. Listen. Are you only pushing information out and not listening to feedback? Respond quickly and appropriately to comments sent to you through email, your company blog, and even social media.
5. Take the long view. Forget the gimmicks and quick fixes. Prizes, sweepstakes, and “experiential events” can get results, but they are short lived. As one strategist has put it, “Get to the trenches, examine how your customers live and use your products, and then design a complete meaningful solution for them across all touchpoints.”
There are no quick fixes for customer loyalty. It requires developing a strategy, making a commitment, and investing in an ongoing relationship with your customers that includes listening, as well as talking.
Need help? Give us a call!
Think Great Color Is Easy? Think Again
Think great color is something everyone can do? Think again. Getting accurate, high-quality color takes effort. Here is a peek behind the curtain at what it takes to give you the best color day after day, and job after job, even when projects are months apart.
1. Define independent color space.
Your computer monitors operate in the RGB color space. Our presses operate in CMYK. The two spaces work very differently, and there is a delicate and complex conversion process that must take place between them. Adding to the challenge is that RGB and CMYK are device-dependent. This means that the same colors look different on different devices.
How do we get the two in sync? First we define color by metrics unrelated to the devices themselves — how color looks to the eye. Take the color of a red apple. On your computer monitor, “apple red” is defined by a set of numbers called CIE L*a*b, which is an objective, device-independent measurement what the eye sees. That CIE L*a*b value corresponds to an ICC color profile, which is an objective measurement of how that monitor “sees” and outputs color.
2. Translate to “press language.”
Now that we have an ICC profile that translates color accurately from the eye to the monitor, we need to be able to reproduce that color on press. Every press is unique, so the ICC color profile for the RGB monitor is translated into an ICC profile for the CYMK press.
3. Workflow steps to make it happen.
Next is to get that color onto paper. This starts with making choices at the RIP (the equipment that processes the job before it is sent to the press) to ensure that the settings match the ones in the software used by your designer. It also requires regular calibration of our presses to make sure that the color is not only accurate but repeatable.
Getting great color is not a magic trick. It requires a lot of craft, science, and hard work. That’s why you don't want to trust your color to just anyone. We hope you continue to trust us with your most color-critical jobs.
Adapted from EFI’s webinar: “World of Fiery: 3 Key Steps to Get the Right Color the First Try.” You can view a video presentation on this topic at http://tinyurl.com/pfw76bu.
Why Invest in Customer Loyalty? 3 Reasons
What’s the value of loyal customers? According to a study by Yotpo, loyal customers offer a brand three key benefits:
• They tell friends and family about the brand (60%)
• They are willing to join the brand’s loyalty or VIP program (52.3%)
• They spend more on a brand’s product even if there are cheaper options elsewhere (39.4%)
Not only this, but HubSpot has found that existing customers spend 67% more than new customers.
Keep your customers, make more money. It’s that simple. Optimove, reporting on the Yotpo study, put it this way: “The power of customer loyalty is so vital, its effects could mean the difference between your business either thriving, just about surviving, or breaking down completely.”
Optimove went on to suggest three ways you can show your appreciation and keep those customers around.
1. Let them know that you reward loyalty.
Regardless how you reward loyalty, it’s critical to let your customers know that you do. Don’t make them wait to find out. Promote your loyalty program in your direct mail pieces. Create a “loyalty” link on your website. In your print and email newsletters, talk about real people who have saved money and earned free stuff.
2. Create and promote multi-level incentives.
Tier your rewards so that the most loyal customers get the most benefits. The more loyal they are, the more they save, the more they earn, and the more insider benefits they get. Also consider creating a sense of competition. “Enable your customers to compare their scores, points and/or rankings with other customers,” says Optimove.
3. Re-engage disconnected customers.
Don’t assume that lost customers are gone forever. There can be many reasons they have stopped buying, many of which may have nothing to do with them falling out of love with your products. Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge and an incentive to get them to come back.
You’ve worked hard to gain your customers, and they are worth keeping. Make the investment in your customers and they will invest in you.
Are You Overlooking Opportunities for Color?
Color is a critical element of any marketing program. In fact, a new study from Go Inspire Group found that, increased design vibrancy produced an overall revenue increase of 20%. But color isn’t just for images. With a little creativity, you can find great new ways to grab attention and draw your customers’ eyes to places in your printed materials that you want them to look. Here are five places to get started.
1. Eye-popping envelopes. Unless you are sending a postcard, the outside of the envelope is the first thing people see. If your envelope is a bright, vibrant color in a sea of white envelopes, it will be the first one people reach for.
2. Make the offer stand out. Place text in brightly colored call-out boxes or use colored or highlighted text inside the body copy. Use color to say what it does best, “Look at me!”
3. Highlight the call to action. Place your call to action (CTA) in a strategic location and use color to draw your reader’s eye. Place the CTA in a starburst or use an oversized font in a bright “can’t miss me” color.
4. Add a teaser. By using teaser copy on the outside of the envelope, your message gets seen before readers even open the flap. Think “10 days to save!” or “Save 25% today!” You can add teasers to the white space around the body copy of the inside letter, too.
5. Add a Postscript. Studies show that the postscript of a letter is what most people read first. Seize the opportunity by using colored text to reinforce the key elements of your message. Be sure to include the offer and the CTA. People often read postscripts when they don’t read anything else, so grab even more attention by making it in color.
Vibrant color is a powerful tool. Are you leaving opportunities on the table?
How to Meet Your Deadlines Every Time
There are a lot of moving parts to any marketing campaign. The printing and mailing (or, if you are incorporating digital channels, text or email blasts) is only the last link in the chain. To ensure that the final deadline is met, you have to work backwards to ensure that each individual component is on schedule.
How do you stay on track? At the start of every project, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is the final deadline you are trying to meet?
2. Who is writing the copy and how long will it take?
3. Are you using stock images or creating the artwork yourself? Who is making those decisions and how long will that take?
4. Who will be doing the design and layout? What is the time budget for that?
5. How long will it take to print, finish, and mail the piece?
6. How many approvals do you need? How much additional time to you need to add for those?
The first answer provides your end date. Once you have that, you can work backwards to determine your start date. Pad each time estimate by a factor of 1.5 to 3 times depending on your confidence in the numbers.
Once the project is complete, look back at how well you stuck to the timeline. Did you stay on schedule? If not, where did you get bogged down? What needs to be adjusted to create a more accurate time estimate next time?
Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Along the way, you learned something, such as when your creative staff says, “It takes us one day to turn around the proof of concept,” they meant two days, or that you forgot to take into account transportation time when you made your project plan.
Staying on schedule takes practice . . . and smart planning. If you’re new to the process, don’t go it alone. We have tons of experience in project planning. Just ask!
5 Variables in Your Personalized Print Success
As marketers, we know that personalizing your print and email communications works. But how well? Metrics from personalized campaigns range from single digits to nearly 100%. It’s always tempting to compare your campaigns to others, especially those in published articles or case studies. However, you can’t necessarily tell the success or profitability of a campaign by the top-line numbers alone. The most important metric is the overall return on investment (ROI).
Why is that? Let’s look at five variables associated with response rates and how they can impact results.
1. Who’s your audience? If you send your mail piece to everyone on your list, you will receive a lower response rate than if you send to your best customers or a carefully selected demographic sub-set.
2. What’s your goal? Are you trying to get someone to sign up for a free newsletter or buy a $50,000 car? Some offers naturally get higher response rates than others.
3. What is the incentive? For its high-value products, one marketer regularly generates 21% to 75% response rates based on offering high-value rewards like remote control cars or sets of personalized golf clubs. But not all incentives will generate the same results.
4. Cost of the product? You will get more responses to offers for products under $50 than for high-value products and services like family vacations and financial services.
5. Are you regional or national? Sometimes regional marketers have a better chance at grabbing recipients’ attention just because they have a local connection. Known brands versus unknown brands makes a difference, as well.
So don’t compare yourself to others. Many variables can affect response rates. Your metrics will be unique to you, and in the end, your ROI is the only number that counts!
Color Makes an Envelope Shout “Open Me!”
As human beings, we are naturally drawn to color. When most mailings are in black-and-white, doing something as simple as adding color to the outside of your envelopes can make your envelope scream, “Open me!”
An early mail openability study conducted by NFO/Pitney Bowes found that mail recipients were more likely to open an envelope if it contained a teaser, especially a teaser printed in red. The value of color was reinforced by a later Leflein Associates study, which found that 69% of people are more likely to open a mail piece with color text and graphics on the front than they are when the envelope is plain.
Because adding color makes it more likely that recipients will open the envelope, making this investment for your next campaign can significantly boost your ROI.
Here are six places you can add color to your envelopes if you’re not already doing so:
• Add your company logo
• Use four-color marketing images
• Test bright banners and borders
• Play with fun, colorful backgrounds
• Add colorful indicia
• Test outlines of the state in which they live
• Use color everywhere — try a colored envelope itself!
When was the last time you added color to the outside of your envelopes? If the answer is not in a long time (or never), what are you waiting for? Let us help!