Wednesday, November 27, 2019

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. 

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Does Your Brand Have Multiple Personalities?

How many personalities does your brand have? If you are doing it right, there should only be one. You should have different messaging for different audiences and marketing goals, but your overall brand message should be consistent.
How do you do that? Whether your marketing is print or digital, here are four elements that, according to John Jantsch, marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine, are critical to your efforts:
Business name: Your business name should be simple, easy to remember, and easy to pronounce. It should be repeated frequently. If possible, include keywords that make it easy for people to find you on search engines.
Logo: Your logo should be professionally designed and work across multiple media and physical configurations. Strive for something that is simple and yet communicates a story. When the charity organization Lifewater International decided to redesign its logo, for example, it tapped into the concept of a water drop with three segments, each representing an area of its mission: life, health, and hope.
Colors and typography: For the greatest brand impression, use a limited and consistent palette of colors and fonts that are instantly recognizable. Who can’t pick out Tide in the detergent aisle from 100 feet away? Remember, when it comes to brand color, close isn’t good enough. Tide orange is different from Home Depot orange. Brand colors are carefully protected for a reason. 
Tone and keywords: In your written communications, what is your company’s tone? Is it edgy? Playful and fun? Serious and professional? No one would mistake the irreverent humor of Duluth Trading Company for the corporate-speak of Fidelity Investments. Your communications should have personality and tone, too. Find that tone and maintain it across all communications, regardless of channel.
Creating and maintaining a robust and professional image takes work, but it will pay off in the end. How can our experts help you create the consistent, compelling brand image you deserve? 

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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. 

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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.




[*] https://www.pantone.com/color-intelligence/articles/colors/color-trend-highlights


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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!

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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 a call!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Think Data Mining Is Inaccessible? Think Again!

Powerful personalized print and digital campaigns start with great data. But data, by itself, is just that — data. For it to be useful, data has to be understood, analyzed, and organized in a way that marketers can use to understand, speak to, and motivate their audiences. This process is called data mining.
Data mining is a scary phrase for many marketers, but it doesn’t need to be. While it as often seen as within the purview of only the largest companies, the basic process is actually well within the grasp of any sized marketer.
There are three steps to data mining:
  • Know what data is available.
  • Ask questions about that data.
  • Look for useful relationships.
The first step is to understand the headings in your database. What data are you capturing? Most databases have basic information, such as name, address and purchase history. Are you also capturing information such as age, gender, and home ownership? If so, this tells you the types of queries you can run.
Running queries is the second. “Running queries” simply means asking questions of the data. If you are a retailer, you might ask, “Which customers purchased hardwood flooring last month?” If you know that these customers are also likely to purchase area rugs and hardwood conditioning products, this gives you a great start.
Third is to run a variety of sorts. Is there a relationship between hardwood flooring and gender? How about income? You might find that data you once thought irrelevant, such as the date of purchase, has more relevance than you think.
Even basic software, such as Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access, provides data mining capabilities. You can also purchase add-on data mining modules or third-party software or work with a third-party data house that specialize in this process. Costs can be very reasonable.
So get curious. Take a few hours to run a variety of sorts just to see what you can find. That curiosity could pay off big. 

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