Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Where to Spot Color Trends


Color is critical in marketing. It’s not just about making your products look great. Color helps to tell your story, too. It stirs your customers’ emotions. It reflects your brand. Just like fashion, however, trends in color change, so it’s important to stay current. To stay on top of what’s happening, here are five color “hot spots” to watch:
1. Runways. When we think of color, we think of fashion. Most recently, models have been strutting their stuff in very bright colors—intense blues, vibrant oranges, and shocking yellows. We also see a secondary trend of softer, more muted tones, such as dusty pink, lilac, and coral.
2. Home design. Interior design is another harbinger of the shifting trends in color. Trendy new colors show up on appliances, upholstery, walls, and even kitchen gadgets. Paint companies often publish color forecasts and make them available at no charge.
3. “Car stuff.”  The car you drive can be as much a fashion statement as a belt or a scarf. While the dominant colors in the auto market have long been black and gray, the trendier colors are brighter and more vibrant. These include lava orange, lime green, and popping yellow.   
4. High-tech gadgets. Just as in the world of fashion, we see strong, bright colors on our technology. Metallic green on iPods, teal on laptop cases, and royal purple on the iTunes icon. These are all colors we’ve seen on the runway, too.
5. World of entertainment and celebrity. What are the stars wearing on the red carpet? How are they dressed for their appearances on talk shows? What colors are used for their set design?
Every market has slightly different color influences, so the trends will not be identical from one to the other. However, by staying current in each of these areas, you can develop a keen sense of where to take your design next.

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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. 

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Do You “Do” Relationships? Your Customers Do!


People like to buy from people, so the more you can develop relationships with your customers, the more effective your marketing will be. This is where relationship marketing comes in.
Relationship marketing is a broad term that focuses on customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction rather than primarily on sales. Instead of saying, for example, “Don, we know that you’ll really love our new product,” you relate to your customers as you would to a friend, based on who they are.
What might this look like in action? Let’s say you own a small shop selling running gear. Any time a customer purchases a product, you ask if they would like to be on your mailing list. If so, you collect their name, address, e-mail address, age, and typical length of run. Based on your sales receipts, you know their shoe size and other buying habits.
Once a month, you send out a customer newsletter incorporating this information. In the base newsletter, you might provide running tips, healthy eating suggestions, and information on local races. In terms of sales, you might weave in appropriate cross-sells and upsells based on the length and type (road, trail) your customer runs. In the winter, you might offer distance runners special “wicking” gear that moves moisture away from the body, keeping them warmer. In the summer, you might offer them sport bottles, electrolyte tablets, and compression socks.
The intent here is to communicate: “We know you.” Occasionally, you might do a customer survey or ask for feedback, too. This deepens the customer’s feeling of being valued and, if there are problems, you can address them. You can gather ideas, such as suggestions for new products, too. Surveys also give you more information to further personalize future mailings.
When contrasted with traditional push marketing, if you were your company’s customer, which type of marketing would you be more likely to respond to?

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Want Me to Buy? Just Ask!


Want more people to respond to your marketing offers? Sometimes the answer is so obvious that marketers overlook it. Tell your audience what you want them to do, then ask them to do it.  Yes, sometimes it’s that straight forward.
While most people don’t like to be given the “hard sell,” you still need your message to be clear. What are you offering? What action do you want them to take? In too many cases, marketers are overly vague. They may also bury the call to action or forget to include one altogether.
Don’t miss your opportunity. In every direct mailer or direct marketing piece, make sure you to include these three things:
1. Be clear about the product. Your mailer may look awesome with that beachfront view, but what do you want people to do? Book a rental? Purchase a vacation package? Donate to an ocean cleanup effort? Make your request clear.
2. Encourage action. Don’t assume people will know what you want them to do. Ask them to request a brochure, call for a free appointment, or make a purchase.  
3. Tell them how to do it. Make it easy to respond. If you want people to send away for more information, prefill the business reply card with their name and address. If you want them to make a phone call, print the phone number in a larger font or a different color so it’s easy to find. If you want them to visit your website, print the URL clearly on the mailer and include a QR Code, as well.
Assume that your audience is busy and you only have a few minutes of their time. Within just a few seconds of scanning the piece, they should know what you are selling, what action you want them to take, and how to do it. It’s so simple that you’d be surprised how many marketers miss it.
Looking for marketing support?
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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!
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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! 

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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? 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
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