Category Archives: Uncategorized

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. 

Tips for Mailing on a Budget

Postal costs are one of the most substantial items in a marketer’s direct mail budget. But even if your budget is tight, don’t compromise this critical customer contact and retention tool. Don’t mail less. Mail smarter.  Here’s how:

1. Keep your list up to date.  

The most reliable way to reach your target audience is to use postal mail, but people still move. According to the United States Postal Service, 14% of Americans change addresses annually. Use change of address tools like the NCOA (National Change of Address) database and “enhanced” NCOA (which adds the use of third-party data) to make sure your mail reaches its destination.

2. Get addresses right. 

Ensure that your addresses are deliverable. This means they have been checked, updated, or “certified.” The National Deliverability Index (NDI) rates the percentage of deliverable addresses in a list. Know your number!

3. Remove duplicates. 

For every duplicate you mail, you are wasting money. Bob M. Jones might be the same as Robert Michael Jones and B. M. Jones, so make sure to find out. Lists need to be “scrubbed” to ensure that each individual or household only receives one piece of mail. 

4. Select your audience carefully. 

Mail only to recipients most likely to buy. One family-owned automotive company, for example, was regularly getting less than 1% response rates to its mailings, so it invested in creating a demographic profile of its best customers. Once it knew what its best customers looked like, it targeted new customers that looked just like them. The results? Response rates tripled, and the mailing brought in 33% more revenue per customer. 

5. Be relevant. 

Only mail information of relevance to your audience. Instead of mailing promotions on lawn care to everyone within a specific ZIP Code, for example, only target people who own standalone homes with yards. Don’t waste money mailing to people in condos with no need for your product. 

Need help optimizing your postal costs using one or more of these techniques? Let us help!

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.

 

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.

  1. 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?

  1. Go professional.

Stock imagery works in a pinch, but it tells a general story, not yourstory. 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%.[1]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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”[2]

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!

[1]https://www.forbes.com/sites/jiawertz/2018/09/12/dont-spend-5-times-more-attracting-new-customers-nurture-the-existing-ones/

[2]“The Missing Link to Customer Loyalty” (CrowdTwist, 2014)

 

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

 

 

 

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%.[1]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?

[1]https://www.crmxchange.com/Press_Releases/Go_Inspire_Group_study_reveals_improved_net_revenue_from_variable_printing_of_targeted_direct_mail.aspx

Can Paper Have Personality? Yours Can!

Paper is more than a substrate on which to print. It has personality. It can be warm or cool. Bright or mellow. Earthy or blingy. Let’s look at some key factors that impact the personality of your paper:

  1. Lighter and brighter?Brightness refers to the amount of light that is reflected from the paper. Brightness is measured on a scale of 1 to 100. The brighter the paper (or the closer the measurement to 100), the more your colors will pop. Papers with lower brightness will soften your colors, especially when the paper is uncoated.
  2. Warm shades or cool?Paper comes in a variety of shades. The bluer the shade, the “cooler” the feel. Paper with yellow undertones will have a warmer feel. Think blue tones for the annual report. Warm shades for the invitations to your company’s summer picnic.
  3. Impact of texture.Textured papers can elicit strong emotional reactions. Linen communicates elegance. Cotton conveys high quality and official communication. Recycled sheets, especially if they contain imperfections, are perfect for environmentally conscious clients. Smooth, high-gloss papers carry a corporate feel.
  4. Shine it up!Gloss, matte, satin, and uncoated sheets all take ink differently. Uncoated sheets allow the ink to soak in and create a more subtle look. High-gloss sheets cause colors to jump out and grab attention.
  5. Time to gain weight?Papers are also classified by weight. The heavier the sheet, the more gravitas the communication has. Want to communicate a premier or elite feel? Use a heavier stock. The heavier paper also conveys durability and permanence.

Your choice of substrate is like a flashy smile or a warm glance that sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Ask us to show you samples of how different paper styles impact the conversations you are having.

 

5 Ways to Market for Less

Did you know that even during the Great Depression, some companies thrived? While other marketers were cutting their spending, a few businesses like Camel and Chevrolet took the opportunity to use aggressive marketing tactics to grab market share from their competitors. It’s proof that the key to long-term success in any economy is to get in front of your target audience and stay there.

Even if your budget strings are tightening, here are a few ways to keep your marketing on track.

Use fewer inks.
If you have a three-color project, consider dropping down to two colors. With the creative use of screen tints, you can often create a similar look for a lower cost. If you have been printing generic business documents like forms in two colors, consider dropping back to just black ink.

Use more inks.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you have a three-color project, it is often more cost-effective to bump it up to four colors. In many cases, the four-color process is less expensive than three-color spot printing because the press is already set up. Plus, you can ask about including your job in a gang run where it is on the press alongside other four-color jobs and then trimmed down to size.

Prepare your artwork and proofread carefully.
You can avoid many service charges by making sure you’ve prepared your artwork correctly and caught every last typo.

Clean up your mailing list.
It’s tedious work, but it can drop your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you can print exactly what you need and avoid extra postage costs as well.

Consider different formats.
Just because you have always done a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Experiment with a postcard instead of a brochure and see whether you get a better response rate. Testing is the key to effective marketing. A little creativity can go a long way toward saving money.

Need some help applying cost-saving principles to your marketing projects? Give us a call!

 

Are You Doing These 5 Things for Personalization Success?

What is the difference between a great personalized print campaign and a flop? Adhering to best practices.

Knowing today’s best practices can make the difference between a good campaign and a great one. Let’s look at five best practices for 1:1 (personalized) print marketing that you should be using in all of your campaigns.

1.Stay focused.Know — really know — your target audience and the goals you are trying to achieve. This allows you to focus your message and make it more relevant.

  1. Keep it clean. Nothing can make a personalized campaign seem more impersonalthan misspelled names or outdated data. Cleanse and update your mailing list on a regular basis.
  2. Know what’s behind the data. Data is just data — numbers in a spreadsheet. It’s up to you to use that information to create messaging that resonates with the recipient. All the personalization in the world won’t help if the recipients don’t see the relevance of the communication.
  3. Think “integration.”All direct mail campaigns need a great message and creative. If you reinforce this message across multiple channels, such as following up with a personalized email or text, this consistently increases the chances that someone will respond.
  4. Do what works.How do you know your efforts are working? Test different approaches, offers, and variables in the campaign. Test one element at a time against the control. Learn what works best for your audience and what doesn’t.

Success with personalized print doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and strategy. By putting these best practices to work, you can get the most out of your next personalized print campaign.