Author Archives: jonmccoy858

What’s New in Adobe Creative Cloud 2022?

Want to know what’s new and cool in Adobe Creative Cloud 2022? Who better to ask than a Certified Adobe Design Master and Instructor? Writing in Yes! I’m a Designer; Martin Perhiniak, once voted one of the top 10 Adobe instructors globally, shares his favorite features of Adobe’s latest update.

Photoshop 2022

  • Two new neural filters: Photoshop can take your landscapes and change their color or season with the Landscape Mixer Neural Filter. Take a morning summer desertscape and turn it into a nighttime winter scene. With the Harmonization Neural Filter, you can sync the color values between layers, making it easier to create realistic composites.
  • Object finder feature: Using AI, Photoshop can recognize the most important objects in your images, even on different layers, allowing you to make selections more quickly.
  • Collaborative workspaces: Place all your content across supported Creative Cloud apps in one space, allowing for collaboration with others, whether inside your company or an outside firm.

Illustrator 2022

  • Real-time drawing and editing option: It is easier than ever to use the new 3D and materials panel.
  • Auto-font activation: Adobe Illustrator activates fonts used in the document automatically. What a time saver!
  • Support for HEIF and WebP image files: Now import these files directly into Illustrator.

InDesign 2022

For InDesign, Perhiniak listed a single feature: Capture. Designers can extract fonts, color themes, and shapes from images and save them in your documents using this feature. Captured fonts can be saved and used as character or paragraph styles.

iPad Updates

  • Updates to Photoshop for iPad include camera RAW editing, smart objects, and dodge and burn tools.
  • Updates to Illustrator for iPad include “transform as shape,” blend tool, and image trace with the ability to vectorize.

Haven’t yet updated to Adobe Creative Cloud 2022? What are you waiting for? Infinite creativity awaits!

The Post-COVID Print Bump

The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced something many of us already knew—how much we love direct mail. As the world locked down and people spent more time at home, we felt how much we looked forward to what came in the mailbox in a fresh, more personal way. We already loved print. The pandemic just made us appreciate it more.

Now, marketing experts are talking about the benefits of keeping print in the mix. We just can’t do without it. Here are four of those reasons. If you could add another to this list, what would it be? We know you have one!

1. Print is personal. Sure, email is a quick and easy way to communicate, but when something comes in the mail, it just feels different. It feels more personal and expresses value to the person receiving it.

2. Print is credible. Digital marketing in all forms is relatively inexpensive, and recipients know it. There is something about putting a brochure, a physical coupon, or a direct mail piece into their hands. It carries weight. They take it more seriously.

3. All generations love print. We might expect print to be appreciated primarily by older generations who grew up without digital marketing, but the opposite is true. Studies consistently show that Generation Z and Millennials, who grew up in the world of digital media, are highly attracted to print. We might also point to the resurrection of print catalogs, especially during holiday seasons, after retailers saw lagging sales with digital-only marketing.

4. Print keeps your focus. Readers get easily distracted using digital media, losing focus on the message. Whether it’s college students doing their studies, a casual reader at home on the couch, or a recipient reading a piece of targeted direct mail, neuroscience studies reinforce what we instinctively already knew—print holds the attention and promotes recall more than digital media.

Digital media have their place in a well-crafted multichannel marketing campaign, but they don’t replace print. Want results? Keep print in the mix!

The Psychology Behind Personalization

Personalization is everywhere. From grocery store receipts to Amazon recommendations to direct mail pieces that arrive in the mailbox, companies are personalizing their communications to address their customers’ individual needs and habits. But is it vital? If you’ve got a great product, isn’t that enough?

To answer this question, let’s look at the psychology behind personalization.

Personalized communications make your customers feel that you care about them. For example, talking to someone by name takes more time and effort (“Hi, Jane! We have a special offer just for you!”). Not every marketing communication does that, especially in print. The extra effort gets noticed.

Second, if you take the time to gather the recipient’s needs and wants, that gets noticed, too. Irrelevant marketing communications make someone feel like a number. On the other hand, when you communicate information that reflects their interests and needs, what you are saying is, “You are unique.” This makes people feel noticed and valued.

When customers feel noticed and valued, they are more likely to respond. That’s why personalized campaigns get better results. One study, for example, found the following lift for personalized over static mailing campaigns:

  • Lead generation: 6.9%
  • Direct orders: 6.2%
  • Traffic generation: 14.7%

Once you acquire a customer based on personalized communication, if you treat them right, they are more likely to remain a customer over time. This has a significant impact on your profitability, too. Did you know that, on average, a repeat customer is worth 10x more over the life of a business relationship than their initial purchase?

Relationships are worth investing in, and business relationships are no exception. You have to take different steps to personalize your documents than you do for static campaigns, but don’t be intimidated. It doesn’t need to be complicated. We are here to help. Talk to us about going from static marketing communications to making it personal.

Personalized Print: 5 Things to Watch

By personalizing your direct mail pieces, you can increase response rates and cart sizes, too. But if you’re new to personalization, the design process can seem intimidating. Here is a short “to do” list of common oversights to watch for.

1. Use the correct data, not more data. The more data you have on your customers, the better. However, more important is being smart about using the information you have. For example, a new mover’s list can be invaluable, especially for small businesses. People moving into the area will need everything from new doctors to new favorite restaurants. Likewise, if someone is graduating from college, they will likely be looking at buying a car, furnishing an apartment, and upgrading their wardrobes. You don’t need lots of data. You just need the correct data.

2. Go long (and short). When designing layouts for your personalized pieces, remember to consider the longest and shortest fields in your database. When personalizing by name, for example, your layout must accommodate “Bob Smith” as well as “Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausen.” Use rules-based design to enable flexibility.

3. Always have a default. No matter how well you prepare your database, you will always have missing information. You’ll have a first but not last name. You’ll know most people’s alma maters, but not all of them. When one of your records is missing an element, you don’t want to end up with “Dear First Name Here” Set your defaults (such as “Dear Valued Customer”) to appear when a piece of data is missing.

4. Tidy up! Keep your database clean and updated. Regularly run postal address updates, remove duplicates, and clean up inconsistencies (for example, some fields may use “Market St.” while others use “Market Street”). Continually invest in the accuracy of your data.

5. Don’t forget the imagery. If you are swapping out images based on demographic or other data, those images must be prepared, as well. Make sure variable images are correctly labeled and sized to fit into the layout. For example, if your design calls for vertical imagery, make sure a horizontal image doesn’t sneak in there.

Preparing variable data jobs doesn’t have to be a mystery. A little planning can smooth the process and give you predictable results. You can do it—we can help!

Direct Mail and Social Media: Better Together

Are you planning a multichannel marketing campaign? Automatically assuming you will be pairing direct mail with email? How about pairing direct mail with social media instead? Haven’t thought about it? Maybe you should. What makes direct mail and social media so complementary?

Higher levels of customer engagement, regardless of channel, lead to strong customer loyalty and higher sales—and customers love social media. Print’s tangibility leaves a deeper footprint in consumers’ brains and results in more (and more accurate) recall. So why not pair direct mail and social media together?

While you might not think of direct mail and social media as complementary, data show that they are. High percentages of social media users use direct mail coupons, hold on to direct mail pieces for future use, and visit a store after receiving a mail piece. When brand advocates receive direct mail, they are also 50% more likely to create or share content online.

How can you capitalize on this?

1. Set up social media sites appropriate to your target audience (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and encourage followers to engage with you. When possible, add links to enable direct sales.

2. Focus on deep, relevant content. Tell stories, invite customers to post their own user-generated content, and encourage them to share your posts with friends and family.

3. Find the most active social media participants and gather their email addresses and postal addresses for future cross-channel marketing.

4. Use social media to announce when upcoming mail offers are on their way. Build anticipation and excitement around your promotions and deals.

5. Cross-pollinate your content between social media and direct mail. For example, use quotes from online reviews or social media posts in your direct mailers to give credibility (“social proof”).

Direct mail and social media can be a powerful combination when used right. Need help? Give us a call!

5 Tips for Expanding Your Mailing Reach

Are you looking to build or expand your mailing list? If so, you have more options than just buying a targeted list or purchasing data to add to the list you already have. Here are five ways to build a great direct mail list that you might not have thought of.

1. Look at trade shows.

Trade shows attract a particular target audience, and they generally attract the decision-makers in the company. Attendee lists from trade shows in your market vertical can net you very high-value prospects.

2. Use the media.

Like trade shows, specialty magazines (including trade magazines) have well-defined target audiences, and some will sell their subscriber lists to marketers.

3. Tap your content marketing.

Take advantage of your content marketing efforts. If you offer an e-newsletter, ask for recipients’ street addresses at sign-up. If website visitors can download white papers or case studies, ask them to fill out an online registration form and include their street address as an option.

4. Use Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).

Every Door Direct Mail from the United Postal Service is an inexpensive way to target households within a specific demographic radius. Although EDDM lists do not include names, you now have qualified leads and names once people respond to your communication.

5. Purchase a cloned list.

Do you already have a productive direct mail list? Just want more customers like the ones you already have? Cloned lists allow you to do just that. Create a profile of your best customers, then purchase an index that reflects that profile.

These are all smart, cost-effective ways to build your direct mail list that can yield great results. Need help implementing one or more of these ideas? We can help!

Print Is a Fan Favorite: But Why?

Even in a world of interactive digital media, something irresistibly draws people into the tangible world of paper and ink. But why? What makes people fall in love with print? Here are some of the answers we have come up with. If asked the same question, what would you say?

1. Print is at the center of societal change. From the printing of the Gutenberg Bible in the 15th century to the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist papers in the 18th century, print has profoundly impacted our society. It is part of our history.

2. It enriches us. Print enriches our daily lives from the reproductions of the world’s greatest paintings to the coolest T-shirts.

3. Print aids in comprehension. Studies show that people absorb and retain information more deeply in print than they do in digital media.

4. Print is fun. Print is just enjoyable to have with so many textures, finishes, and embellishments in your hands. It’s one reason that sales of printed books are on the rise even with our society’s addiction to mobile phones. Who wants to read Gone with the Wind on an iPhone?

5. It inspires creativity. There is something about a tangible product that breathes life into ideas. With print, creativity springs eternal.

6. Print preserves moments in time. With so much digital clutter, the tangible presence of books, marketing collateral, and even business cards, print preserves a memory—a moment in time—in ways that digital can’t.  

7. Print is magic. Have you ever seen the inner working of a press? A digital file becomes a printing plate, then millions of tiny dots spring to life on the page as brilliant, high-resolution images. This little miracle is replicated in every print project you order.   

8. Print is fun—and so are we. When you use print, you get to work with us! We’re a great, fun bunch of people who know our stuff and want to help you get the most out of your marketing projects.

So if you love print and we love print, let’s love print together. Give us a call for your next project.

Do You Know How Customers Really Feel About You?

Think you know how your customers feel about you? So do three-quarters of companies. Yet a survey by Zogby Analytics finds that, while 73% of companies say they are “very aware” of their customers’ level of satisfaction with them, 36% of consumers say that companies are either “unaware” or “completely oblivious.”  That’s a big gap!

Furthermore, Zogby found that companies believe that “providing better informed and relevant customer conversations” (29%) is the best thing they can do to keep customers happy. Meanwhile, customers say “identifying common issues and resolving them” (32%) and “being aware of the interactions with the company, and resulting feedback” (29%) are the most important.

These are considerable gaps in expectations, and if companies aren’t careful, those gaps can create opportunities for competitors.

What’s the answer? Be intentional about soliciting customer feedback to identify what you are doing well and where you might be missing the boat. If you are missing the boat, find out how customers want you to fix it.

When was the last time you sent a customer survey? There are many ways to get that request in front of your customers. Add QR Codes to your direct mail pieces, in-store signage, and other locations to lead to online surveys. Create personalized URLs for your direct mail pieces. Use pop-up surveys on your website.  Even use text to send survey links. Customers will appreciate you asking.

Offer free gifts, entry into sweepstakes, and other incentives to encourage participation, as well. Customer feedback is invaluable, and it’s worth your time and investment to get.

Need help developing customer surveys? Talk to us about the many different channels you can use and how to get the most out of your investment.

Do You Know These 5 Loyalty Behaviors?

If you want to know whether your customers are loyal, there are five places you can look. These behaviors, called “loyalty behaviors,” are like breadcrumbs that customers leave that tell you whether they are loyal to you… or not. These are five behaviors you want to excel in! How would your company fare in each?

1. Repeat purchases.

Do you track your customers’ purchases? Do you know if they continue to buy from you after the first sale? If customers are not coming back, do you know why?

2. Recommendations.

Do your customers recommend you to their friends and family? Have you ever asked? A simple print or email survey can tell you a lot.

3. Forgiveness.

If a mistake comes to your attention, be quick to apologize and make things right. Send a letter (always a card or letter—email apologies fall short), offer a “we’re sorry” discount, or make things right another way. Use mistakes as a chance to deepen, rather than disrupt, the customer relationship.

4. Trust.

Here is another place surveys can play an important role. Ask customers to rate how much they trust you on a sliding scale. Create different scales for different areas of your company (products, service, customer care). If you rank low in some areas, you know where to get to work.

5. Willingness to try new things.

Happy, loyal customers buy more, and the more loyal they are, the more they buy over time. If you track your customers’ purchases, you can suggest upsells and cross-sells and alert them to new offerings based on what they have purchased in the past.

Customer loyalty is serious business. Knowing these five loyalty behaviors gives you a head start on where and how to focus your efforts to communicate with your customers and keep them happy, satisfied, and buying more.

The 5-Year Reason Branded Promotional Products Are Hot

Did you know that more than half (57%) of people who own branded promotional items keep them for five years or more? That’s an incredible statistic when you think about it. This longevity is one of the reasons that businesses are increasingly seeing the value in incorporating branded products into their marketing plans.

While many people associate branded products with cheap giveaway pens or giant foam fingers waved in baseball stadiums, they can be much more. They can be logoed caps and t-shirts to personalized flash drives, umbrellas, and leather tote bags. Branded items cost more than email blasts or direct mailings, but they are often kept for longer — not just weeks or months, but even years.

Not only do promotional products reinforce branding to the people using them, but also to those around them. Studies from the Advertising Specialties Institute (ASI) show that, in many cases, branded products increase the chances that the recipient will purchase from the company. According to the ASI’s most recent Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study:

  • More than half of the West and Pacific region consumers report being likely to do business with the advertiser on their drinkware (54% and 53%, respectively).
  • More than half (51%) of consumers report being likely to do business with the advertiser who gave them an umbrella.
  • Nearly two-thirds (60%) of consumers report being likely to do business with the advertiser who gave them a power bank.

The key to results like these is value. Consistently, surveys show that people keep promotional products because they are helpful, so it’s essential to use high-quality branded products and match the type of product to the marketing goals of the campaign. Each time the recipient wears or uses the product, brand engagement is reinforced.  

The other key to success is matching the right branded products to the target audience. For example, promotional outerwear is owned by 43% of women but 57% of men. Conversely, women are more likely to own a promotional bag (57%) than men (42%). When you get the mix right, it leads to increased sales.

Are promotional products missing from your marketing toolbox? If so, let’s get that corrected right away!