Tuesday, November 24, 2020

7 Tips for Getting Your Best “Look”

Whether it’s on the runway or in the mailbox, everyone wants to get their best “look.” For print jobs, this means excellent color and resolution, terrific design, and details that match up the way they should. But there are other factors in putting your best foot forward that are often overlooked. Beyond the basic design, here are seven other best practices for creating the best impression.   

1. Hire a proofreader. Too many companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a print job, only to discover too late that there was a typo in the headline or the body text. Don’t rely on non-specialists who are “good at grammar.” Hire a professional.

2. Get more eyes. Whether it’s the marketing message, the creative, or the account details, having a second (or third) set of eyes on the project can prevent costly mistakes later. This adds time, but it creates an important safety net.

3. Check the specs! Before submitting the job, double-check to make sure the specs are correct. A slip of the pen, an errant keystroke, or a last-minute change—it can all add up to costly mistakes later.

4. Create mock-ups. Print a mock-up so you can see how the document will look once assembled. Especially with folded and dimensional pieces, the layout might look good on the screen. Still, without a physical mock-up, you could end up with the back cover on the inside fold or the panels on your pop-up mailer ordered incorrectly.

5. Proof after every change. Even when you’re making a small change, don’t pass on a proof. Even a single letter can change the spacing on a page. Something as simple as modifying an "i” to a "j” can impact the flow. Proof it every time!

6. Create a checklist. We’re all human. We all have forgetful moments. Even if you’re a 20-year veteran of the job, create a checklist and use it.

7. Develop a long-term relationship with your print partner. Communicate with us early and often. The more we get to know you, your projects, and your marketing goals, the easier it will be for us to make sure your projects stay on track.

Remember, we’re here to help. 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Make 'Em Say "Yes" to Email Opt-Ins


It's no mystery. The more comfortable you make it for people to respond to your offer, the more likely they will do it. This is one reason that the combination of direct mail and email is so powerful. It provides more opportunities for the recipient to say "yes." But unlike direct mail, email requires the recipient to opt-in. So how do you get people with inboxes already full of marketing communications to opt into one more — yours? 


Here is a checklist from MarketingSherpa on ways you can reduce the barriers to email opt-in and make it easy for your target audience to say "yes." 


1. Don't over-do it. When asking people to opt-in, limit the amount of information required. More questions mean more data, and more data means better targeting, but there is a trade-off. The more questions you ask, the more risk that people will bail.  


2. Eliminate unnecessary form fields. If you do not need it, ditch it. 


3. Focus on fields that increase list quality. For example, if you are a landscaper, the presence of children in the home may be less significant than how much sun or shade the yard receives.  


4. Make less essential fields optional. Let respondents skip some if they desire. 


5. Don't try to gather all of the information at once. Gather the most critical information upfront. Then use a drip campaign to collect more data over time. 


6. Make the form as short and easy to read as possible. 


7. Remove fields that might cause anxiety. For example, asking for a phone number can be a big turn-off. If people think opting in will result in getting unwanted marketing calls, they are less likely to do it.


Following this simple checklist will make it as easy as possible for people to say "yes" to your opt-in invitations. Once you start building your email list, you can crank up your multichannel marketing plans. 


What can we do to help?

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

What Makes “Personalized” Mailings Feel Personal?

 If you think that using data — by itself — makes a mailing feel personal, think again. How many times have you received a direct mail piece or email that used your name or “personalized” images, but was irrelevant to you? Probably more often than you’d like to admit.

Say you are a golf fanatic, and you receive a sporting goods catalog personalized with your name on the front cover, plastered with an image of the latest softball gear? Or you receive an incentive to bring your car in for a tune-up six months after your car was due?

As a marketer, you don’t want to make the same mistake. That starts with understanding that, by itself, data doesn’t make a mailing relevant or compelling. Data is just that — data. It is merely a piece of information that can be used well or used poorly. (Or it can be downright wrong.) This is why personalization and relevance are different.

Personalization is simply using data to create unique pieces for every individual in a database, whether those pieces are relevant to those recipients or not. Relevance is the attribute that makes the recipient feel that the communication is meaningful to them and is worth being picked up, opened, and read.

A mailing doesn’t even have to be personalized to be relevant. For example, when you send a mailing to all inactive customers with, “Please come back! We miss you!” along with a 25% discount, that’s creating relevance even if everyone in that mailing receives the same piece. Likewise, if you market different insurance plans to households with children than you do retirees, you are increasing the chances that the recipient will see the communication as relevant even if you don’t do any personalization at all. 

So before personalizing any mailing, ask yourself, “Why am I choosing the variables I am? How am I going to use them effectively? Do I need to add any other variables to improve my targeting efforts?” You don’t want to run the risk of sending a personalized mailing without it actually being personal.

Need help making sure your data results in mailings that are truly personal? Just ask — we’d love to help.

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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Don’t Miss These 8 “Must Haves” of Marketing

It’s essential to pay attention to the marketing trends around you. Whether it’s a hot new color palette, a unique design aesthetic, or the need to be sensitive to specific social issues, paying attention helps you stay relevant. However, regardless of what’s hot right now, certain basic principles are important all the time, whether that is today, tomorrow, or ten years from now. Here are eight essentials of direct response marketing that you should be incorporating every time.

1. Have a great offer. Don’t assume the reader understands your full value proposition. The proposal needs to go beyond the product itself to include additional value elements, such as availability, delivery options, and technical support. You would be surprised how many marketers neglect to do this. Don’t be one of them!

2. Create urgency. Great marketing pieces create a sense of urgency. Unless yours is a complex, high-value product that naturally has a longer sales cycle, convince the recipient that the decision needs to be made right now.

3. Provide a clear call to action. Don’t assume your reader knows what you want them to do. Do you want them to make a phone call? Go online? Download an app? Tell them! Otherwise, there is a good chance they’ll do nothing.

4. Track and measure. If you do not measure, you do not know what works and what doesn’t. Measure everything.

5. Follow up. Whether by email, phone call, or mobile, following up to your initial offer dramatically increases your response and conversion rates.

6. Write strong copy. Effective selling requires marketing copy that shows that you understand your customer’s pain points and explains how your product solves them. It’s not just what you are marketing. It’s how you are presenting it.

7. Remember that results rule. This is why you measure. If it works, keep it. If it does not, scrap it.

8. Stay focused. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects. If a marketing campaign does not adhere to the previous seven rules, “just say no.”

Every once in a while, you need to go old school for a straightforward reason. It works.

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

How to Make Any Product Fascinating

It’s okay to admit that buyers don’t get as jazzed about cleaning supplies, light bulbs, and toilet plungers as they do video games and stiletto heels. If you have a “boring” product, how do you use your next direct mail, email, or multichannel campaign to get customers excited about what you have to offer? 


1. Create the narrative. Don’t let customers create the narrative around your product. Do it for them. Clearly define the product’s value. Does it save them $100 per year? Give busy executives back an hour of their precious time? Tell them why they can’t go another day without it.


2. Be a storyteller. Product specs are boring, but stories grab attention. Think about big home improvement stores like Lowe’s. Their ads don’t show lumber and nails. They show decks being built and yards being transformed. In other words, Lowe’s doesn’t sell lumber and mulch. It sells homeowner pride. What do you sell?


3. Bring the dazzle. Creative approaches can make anything fun. Even a tablecloth will come to life using specialty techniques like dimensional coatings or 3D techniques like embossing. House-shaped pop-up 3D mailers can turn even the opening of a new branch of an insurance company into a “can’t miss” event. 


4. Help them visualize. Images communicate complex concepts quickly. That’s why the soft, cuddly Snuggle bear and green Mucinex blob are so effective. These characters communicate ideas of softness and sticky goop in your lungs with speed and clarity that text alone cannot. 


5. Get personal. No matter what you are selling, buyers pay attention when they see themselves. Whether it’s their name, a reference to an issue they relate to, or the use of their sense of humor, once they see themselves in your ad, they’re hooked. Use data to understand your buyers, then get inside their heads and create messaging that draws them in. 


When it comes to print and multichannel marketing, there is no excuse to be boring. Use images, and tell a story. There is something genuinely fascinating about your products. Let’s find it!

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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Design Your Direct Mail for “Wow!”

 What do all great direct mail pieces have in common? They engage people’s curiosity from the moment the mail piece gets into their hands. Here are five tips for capturing readers’ attention as soon as they open the mailbox. 


1. Know your corners. On a mail piece, the upper right-hand corner is where our eyes go first. Use this location to place teaser copy or compelling data such as “99% customer satisfaction rate!” It’s a secret that all highly effective catalogers know — and now you know it, too.


2. De-clutter. When the layout is cluttered, it’s hard for people to focus on any one thing. Use white space to draw the eye and make information easy to absorb. Instead of heavy blocks of text, use bulleted or numbered lists. 


3. Tap psychology. Have you ever heard of techniques such as the Zeigarnik Effect, Von Restorff Effect, or Noble Edge Effect? These techniques use brain science to capture attention and engage your audience. 


  • The Zeigarnik Effect is when information is left unfinished. Leave people hanging, and they feel compelled to open... 
  • The Van Restorff Effect is the use of content that is out of place to capture attention. Old Spice used this to significant effect with its “Smell Like a Man” campaign.
  • The Noble Edge Effect taps people’s desire to be associated with positive social or environmental causes. 


4. Let customers sell for you. People trust other shoppers more than they do marketers, so use customer testimonials to let other buyers promote your product. Use QR Codes or AR to bring those endorsements to life by taking shoppers directly to mobile video. 


5. Create a great CTA. How many direct mail pieces have unfulfilled potential because someone forgot to include a call to action (CTA)? Don’t assume that readers will automatically know what you want them to do. Add urgency or additional value by giving a deadline, offering an extra discount for early response, or providing other motivators to encourage people to respond right away. 


Want more ideas for great direct mail design that gets results? Let’s talk.

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

How Many Ways Can You Fold a Sheet?

When folding a flyer, brochure, or direct mail piece, do you default to the basic half-fold or letter fold? If so, consider that customers see those folds all the time. Why not stand out with unusual folds that really spark interest? Here are five basic but more unusual folds to get you started:

Z-fold. In the Z-fold fold, the paper is creased into three panels folded in opposite directions so that, from the top edge, it looks like a Z. When opened, the sheet unfolds like a poster. Z-folds are great for displaying information that will be read chronologically or that have images spanning the entire width of the sheet. They are also used for nesting multiple pieces, such as when you want to include a reply envelope.

Accordion fold. Commonly used for maps or instructions, this fold uses a series of parallel folds so that the sheet opens like an accordion. Because a large number of panels can be folded in, accordion folds enable you to take advantage of larger paper sizes and include more information than a 
standard finished size. Uses include brochures, maps, and instruction panels.

Gate fold. In the gate fold, two sides of the paper are folded in toward the middle like two doors opening and closing. You might use this fold to create a silly greeting card or an invitation featuring doors opening into a grand ballroom. Or you might present information like opening a book. The opportunities for creativity are endless.

Half-accordion fold. In this fold, the paper is folded in half vertically, then one half is folded vertically again. This is also called an engineering fold. These folds are often used when engineering plans or other documents are tipped into a book. But don’t stop there. Think about site maps, room layouts, and landscape designs. Don’t shrink it up—fold it!

Half-plus-letter fold. This is a combination of the half-fold and the letter fold. In this execution, the paper is folded into four equal sections. Half of the paper is folded equally, then the folded half is tucked into a letter fold. This is great for newsletters since it allows a legal-sized sheet to be folded down into #10 envelope size in a user-friendly way.

As they say, there is more than one way to fold a sheet. So mix it up. Use different and interesting folds to improve functionality and encourage people to interact with your pieces.

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606 for more information.

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