Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Preparing for Next Year’s Customers Today

The time to prepare for next year’s marketing campaigns is now. As we look forward to the New Year, smart marketers are getting their ducks in a row. Here is a short checklist to help you get started:

1. Wrap up your important, but not urgent projects. Finish a white paper, update your website copy, or implement a new customer relationship management tool. Clean the slate so you can start next year with gusto.
2. Strategize. Read a book or attend a conference. Research what your competitors are doing (and not doing) so you can position your messages more favorably. Make a plan.
3. Refine your approach. Test a pricing discount, a free consultation, or a value-added service in advance of a full rollout. Experiment with a different paper, ink, or finishing technique. A/B testing is your friend!
4. Play to your strengths. In an election year, there can be a lot of economic uncertainty. People won’t stop buying, but they may be more selective. Clearly state why you offer the most relevant product at the greatest value for their family, their lifestyle, and their needs. Promote value, but also relevance to them as an individual or a family.
5. Stay ahead of the channel curve. Understand all of the marketing channels your customers are using, including social and mobile media, and how they are using them. But don’t neglect print! There is a lot of digital clutter out there. When your customers open the mailbox, that well crafted direct mail piece will always stand out.

Consult with our experts today to review and update your marketing plan for the upcoming year. 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Tips for Ordering Promotional Products

Promotional products, whether common items such as pens and refrigerator magnets or more unusual items such as branded toys or back scratchers, can be powerful components of a multichannel marketing campaign. They tend to be kept for longer periods of time than traditional marketing pieces and can be highly effective door openers for hard-to-reach targets, particularly in the C-Suite. But ordering promotional items isn’t like ordering print. Here is a quick checklist to make the most of your investment.
1. Don’t overload the promotional item.
Keep it simple and don’t try to overload with copy or images. Often times, a logo and phone number is all you need.
2. Avoid the rush.
You may be used to being able to rush orders for brochures and direct mail, but promotional items require more lead time.  Plan at least several weeks in advance.
3. Simplify your use of color.
The differential between single-color and multicolor printing is relatively minimal. However, promotional items are generally imprinted using silkscreen or pad printing, and every color adds  more cost. Use single-color versions of graphics and logos to keep the cost down.
4. Price breaks matter.
In the world of commercial print, you don’t want to over-order product simply to get a price break, especially when considering the cost of obsolescence. Promotional items will go out of date less quickly, however, and the price breaks with volume can be substantial. 
5.  Dimension matters.
Remember to take into consideration the final mailing cost. A more expensive promotional item that ships flat may cost less in the end than a lower priced but bulky item that needs to be mailed in a dimensional package.

Want to learn more about best-in-class use of promotional items? Talk to one of our business development experts. 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Inventory Management Driving You Crazy?

Struggling with your inventory of printed collateral and other documents? How about fulfillment items for your marketing kits? If so, you’re not alone, and if you’re not careful, it could hurt your bottom line.
According to Capterra, inventory numbers for most businesses are profit killers. In fact, Capterra finds that businesses keep $1.43 of inventory on hand for every $1 of sales. To make matters worse, the average inventory on hand for businesses of all sizes rose 8.3% between 2000 and 2015.  
What’s a marketer to do? Unless you have a highly efficient inventory management system, you might be better off moving to a vendor managed inventory (VMI) model. With VMI, we manage your print and kitting materials for you. We track, manage, and fulfill your documents and kit materials with maximum efficiency, and you save money. 
This happens in two ways.
First, we maximize the opportunities for print on demand (POD). By printing only what you need as you need it, you can minimize your warehousing costs or even eliminate them entirely. You can also minimize obsolescence costs. How often does your product information change? Company contacts? Phone numbers? How much do you waste every year throwing things away? Keep that money in your pocket!
Second, if your document management and kitting do require warehousing, we’ve made the investment in a secure, highly efficient inventory management system so you don’t have to. Let us handle the details so you get it right, at the lowest price, without the hassle.

Want to talk to someone about letting us manage your marketing collateral, kitting, and other print and related products for you? 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

5 Steps to Great Print Planning

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. Here are 5 steps to ensuring that everything goes smoothly and on budget.
1. What is the goal of the printed piece?
Is the goal of the piece to entertain or inform? To impress? Your marketing goals influence the design and quality of the piece. Certain ideas may have a significant impact on turnaround or cost. For example, some binding options can take extra time, and certain trim sizes might incur extra expense. Paper choices can also affect the project cost and turnaround time.
2. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece?
If you are designing a flyer for a theatrical opening, it will look different than one promoting a rock concert. People read a book differently than they read a poster. Before setting anything in stone, talk to us to determine how your design decisions can affect the project budget and schedule.
3. How many suppliers are involved?
Take into account the schedules of any outside service providers. For example, if you are using a freelance illustrator or label designer, you need to take his or her availability into consideration. If you’re adhering a label to a bottle, you need to work with the bottle company to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them.
4. When does the piece need to arrive?
Always plan backwards from the delivery date. It’s particularly important to involve us in this part of the planning process so we can schedule your project. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, your project needs gets to press in time to meet your deadline. If not, your job may get rescheduled behind other jobs, and especially if those jobs are large or complex, that can affect its mail or delivery date significantly.
5. How much “fudge” do you need?
Finally, you need to incorporate “fudge factor.” Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.
The moral of the story? Good print planning starts with communicating early—and often.

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Want More Effective Direct Mail? Make It Lumpy

The goal of direct mail is to attract attention. To that end, there has been a growing trend toward dimensional mail, or mail that is bigger and fatter than traditional mail. Dimensional mail gets attention—and results. 
Dimensional mail that contains some kind of gift or incentive is also known by the more descriptive term “lumpy mail.” The idea is to provide something more substantial (or “lumpier”) than a flat postcard or letter. The “lump” itself—the object(s) included in the package—is an integral part of the campaign.
The nature of the “lump” can be literal, such as a product sample, or symbolic—say, a foam rubber brain, tied into the promotional message, “Working with us is a no-brainer.”
Examples of lumpy mail include:
  • Envelopes containing pens or other useful items bearing the client’s logo.
  • Packages containing product samples.
  • Candies or other treats accompanying promotional material.
  • Physical objects that tie into the campaign’s marketing message.
  • Basically any object the designer and client see fit to include.

The idea is that everyone likes receiving something unique, especially when there is an appealing gift in the box aside from something promotional. This increases the likelihood that the recipient will not only open the package but respond to the package’s message. 
Want more ideas for incorporating lumpy mail into your next mailing? Let us brainstorm with you!
Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tips and Tricks for Selecting Colors

Color sells. It increases brand recognition, improves comprehension, and can motivate purchase decisions between products. Color also identifies. The United Parcel Service, IBM, and Home Depot are all synonymous with specific colors. Some companies even trademark colors as brand assets. Think Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue.
A study by G.A Wright Marketing found that the use of high-quality paper and color applications can increase response rates by nearly 50%. For example, the study showed that a four-color promotional mailer printed on heavy gloss paper stock had a more than 40% higher response rate than an identical three-color version printed on a lighter matte paper stock.
Colors summon emotions and create connections with the people surrounding your brand. Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow are associated with a range of emotions, from optimism and excitement to violence. Cool colors like green, violet, and blue can be calming and nurturing, but they can also be impersonal and antiseptic.
Choose colors that will elicit a positive response from recipients, then balance them in a visually appealing way. Using variations of a single color will create a visual effect that is classic and easy on the eyes, but not as vibrant as it could be. Enrich the scheme by introducing analogous colors, selecting three colors next to each other on the color wheel. Examples include red/orange/yellow; green/blue/purple; and yellow/yellow-green/green. Consistently use one shade as the dominant color.
For higher contrast, select a complementary color scheme, choosing colors across the wheel from each other. This works best when you place a warm color against a cool color, such as red and green, blue and orange, or purple and yellow. Any tint can be used. Midnight blue/tangerine and royal purple/gold are effective combinations.
Most any color mix can work as long as you retain harmony and richness in your presentation and avoid the hues used by your competitors.
Test combinations until you find the scheme that sends the message you want associated with your business. Your customers make split-second decisions based on color, so use it to your advantage.

Need help? Just ask!

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

5 Direct Mail Ideas You Might Not Have Thought Of

Looking for creative ways to dress up your direct mail efforts? Here are five ideas with proven effectiveness that you might not have thought about.
1. Make it look official.
Try making your mailer look like “official” mail. Use triangles around the outside edges or use red, white, and blue parallelograms to mimic Air Mail. Use a white envelope with colors similar to the FedEx purple and orange or the UPS brown and gold. At first glance, recipients will think they’ve gotten a Priority Mail or overnight package.
2. Use real hand addressing.
Many marketers try to increase response rates by using handwriting fonts. However, this technique has become so common that most consumers can spot a handwriting font a mile away. Try using a third-party hand-addressing service. Real, honest to goodness hand addressing will make your mail stand out, make recipients feel special, and get your mail opened.
3. Use a real stamp.
Just like hand addressing, using a real stamp helps to boost response rates. It tells people they aren’t getting a bulk mailing and that the marketer cared enough, and wanted the communication to be personal enough, to use a real, live stamp. That gets attention.
4. Try a translucent envelope.
Got something bright and colorful to mail? Don’t hide it! Put the printed piece into a translucent envelope so people can see what’s inside.  
5. Put something in it.
Dimensional mail increases response rates. So does putting something extra into the envelope. Try a teaser like, “Free gift inside!” then add a little something for them to find. You won’t be able to use bulk postal rates, but recipient won’t be able to resist opening the envelope to see what’s inside. 

Want more great direct mail ideas?

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Is Your Direct Mail Trustworthy?

People don’t just buy from companies they like. They buy from companies they trust. When you send out direct mail campaigns, it’s important to keep this in mind. Let’s look at five ways you can establish trust with your customers.
1. Use solid, believable content. Leave the extravagant claims and cheesy superlatives to the late night infomercials. Make your headlines and body copy factual and believable. Back up your claims. Be specific so people know that you are representing the product accurately.
2. Write for your audience. If your marketing copy sounds generic, recipients might not feel that your claims are genuine. It’s hard to trust a company that is willing to sell anything to anybody whether they really need it or not. Target your offers, marketing copy, and calls to action to each target audience specifically so they recognize your claims as true.
3. Credible design. Marketing copy can be superficial and cheesy, and so can design. If you use five different fonts and clutter the design area with tons of images and an impenetrable sea of text, your piece will look unprofessional. If your design looks unprofessional, your company will too. Avoid super tiny fonts because they make it look as if you are trying to hide something.
4.  Use real people. Customer testimonials are great for establishing credibility, but they have to be from real life people. Use names, locations, and pictures of smiling faces when possible. Assure readers that these are actual people, not customers you made up.  
5. Proofread your text. Spelling and grammar errors don’t make for a professional image. Have a professional editor or proofreader get a final set of eyes on your copy to ensure that there are no mistakes.

When it comes to direct mail, there are no shortcuts.  Be sincere. Be credible. Present not just a great product, but a company that people can trust.   

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Friday, May 13, 2016

What Is Your Print Project Wearing?

Once your print project comes off the press, it may not be finished—not yet. It might need that extra finishing touch. 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. Coatings can protect projects such as direct mail, marketing collateral, packaging, and catalogs from a wide variety of harsh environmental conditions, including:
  • Mailing equipment
  • Moisture
  • Dirt
  • Retail storage and display
  • Handling (including fingerprints)
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. However, these coatings may crack if folded or scored and require printing with UV inks underneath for compatibility.
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 and adds fingerprint resistance. 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. Varnish is inexpensive and flexible, but tends to yellow over time. This can be problematic if your product has a long shelf life and large areas of white. Aqueous coating dries quickly and offers a high level of protection, but it has a higher cost. Specialty coatings offer a wide array of effects and visual and tactile appeal, but they may also carry a premium.
Different coatings “shine” for different types of projects and under different conditions. Talk to us about your coating options before finalizing your next printing project.
Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

3 Tips for Adding Video

Whether you are adding video to email, to print-to-mobile efforts via QR Code or augmented reality, or to direct mail using An embedded video screen, video has become one of the hottest ways to communicate with your audience.
According to data collected by HubSpot:
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
  • Shoppers who view video are 1.8 times more likely to make a purchase than people who did not view video.
  • Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%.
Here are three tips for adding video to your next campaign:
1. Tell a story. People relate to stories more than facts and figures. They also tend to remember stories longer. This is why Liberty Mutual uses the storyline “You loved [your car] Brad—and then you totaled him” to talk about the company’s better car replacement and why the Allstate “Mayhem” commercials have millions of views on YouTube. Find a way to use video to tell your story. 
2. Keep it short. People love and relate to video, but they also have short attention spans. Experts say to keep your video between 1-2 minutes at most.
3. Use social media. Use social media to promote your video and multiply its reach. Target Marketing recently suggested tweeting out your finished video, posting a production shot of the video on Instagram, and posting teaser clips on your Facebook page.
Need help? Talk to us about incorporating video into your next multichannel campaign

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Friday, May 6, 2016

How Do You Know It’s Working?

How can you tell if your 1:1 print efforts are working? Measure them. Even if you don’t have a full-time staff of business analysts, creating a simple ROI doesn't have to be daunting. Here’s how to get started.
1. Set specific goals for your campaign.
What are the goals of the campaign? If you don’t have well-defined goals, you won’t know whether you are meeting objectives or not. The first step is to get those goals nailed down. Do you want to increase total revenue and profits? Is the purpose to increase sales of a particular product or service or expand into a new market? Is it general branding?
2. Crunch the numbers.
Customize this basic print ROI model with your own assumptions to determine whether your campaign will be successful.
Number of Pieces Printed
Total Cost
Response Rate Anticipated
Percentage of Respondents Expected to Purchase
Average Profit per Purchase

Number of Respondents
Cost per Response
Number of Buyers
Cost per Buyer
Cost per Printed Piece
Profit per Printed Piece

Total Profit/(Loss)
Total Cost


3. Design your printed materials to track responses. Include a customized coupon, personalized barcode, or use campaign-specific landing pages or 800 numbers to determine which customers are responding to which printed pieces.
4. Document how new customers found you. Train your sales and customer service personnel to ask how a client learned about you so you can be certain new sales are a result of your marketing efforts rather than another factor, such as a competitor going out of business.
5. Recognize that it’s not all about dollars and cents. While some metrics are black and white, others can only be captured through market research. For example, you might organize a focus group or survey of those who received a specific printed piece to measure their recall, perceptions about your company, and purchase intent resulting from the piece.

These strategies will enable you to cost-justify your print marketing budget and focus your efforts where you will receive the greatest returns.

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Should You Start a Magazine?

With online search being the default way many people find information these days, the question “Should I start a magazine?” may seem strange to many marketers. But the reality is, while overall magazine pages are down, highly targeted, specialized magazines are on the rise. Just look at the successful magazine launches from companies like Lowes, John Deere, Airbnb, and even Red Bull.
The reason is tangibility. There are certain types of information that people prefer to consume digitally, but when it comes to relaxation, they prefer print. Studies continue to show that people will read more, spend more time with, and subscribe more often to print magazines than to digital ones.
Even young consumers love magazines. The 2014 Magazine Media Factbook shows that 91% of American adults read magazines. That number increases to 94% for consumers under 35 and 96% for consumers under 25. To boost branding and customer engagement, a magazine might be just the thing for you.
If you’re thinking about starting a magazine, the first step is content. Next is the deliverable itself.
Among the categories to consider:
1. Paper selection. This includes weight, grade, finish and type. Heavier weights send the message of luxury and credibility, but they will increase your postage.
2. Cover weight and finish. Will you be sending matte, dull, or glossy stock for the cover? How about the interior? When we think magazines, we often think about glossy stock, but for some verticals (natural foods, environmental, art), uncoated and matte covers might be the trick.
3. Trim size. Bigger magazines stand out, but they cost more.  It’s important to consider the trade-off.  

If starting a magazine is something you’ve toyed with in the past, or even if you’re just thinking about it for the first time, give us a call. Let us talk through the options to give you a realistic estimate on costs, as well as the value a print magazine can provide. 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Consumers Say, “Target Me!”

Would it surprise you to know that 78% of consumers say they would be “more likely” to purchase from a retailer again if provided with offers targeted to their interests, wants, and needs? It shouldn’t. Here are some other eye-opening data on how willing consumers are to provide personal data if it provides them with a financial benefit:
  • 71% of consumers would be more likely to purchase from a retailer again if provided with offers targeted to their individual location.
  • 45% would be willing to trade “some privacy” for incentives tailored to their individual shopping habits.
  • 43% don’t mind if mobile apps track their smartphone’s or tablet’s location if it means they will receive ads or promotions targeted to their local area.
  • 57% would be “more likely” to purchase from a retailer again if the retailer kept them updated on new offers and service by social media.
Although these data come from a study of digital marketing, they are critical to the world of print. This is both because print is one of the primary methods of driving digital data collection (direct mail, posters, signage, in-store displays) and because, as marketing becomes increasingly multi-channel, print is relying more and more heavily on the data gathered through digital channels by sharing the same centralized marketing database.
Need help combining digital and print channels to deepen customer engagement? Give us a call!

Source: Engaging with Digital Consumers (Infosys, 2013)

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Personalized Marketing: It’s Mainstream

From personalized coupons at the checkout counter to “just for you” recommendations at Amazon.com, personalized marketing is everywhere.

While some marketers are still deciding whether to take the plunge into this “new” form of marketing in print, fully personalized documents have been around for a long time. Back in 2010 (“Capturing the Cross-Media Direct Marketing Opportunity”), InfoTrends found that the overwhelming majority of marketers were already using segmented (40%) or fully personalized (21%) communications. Only 40% of campaigns fit into the category of “one to many.” This means that if you are sending static mail pieces, you’re competing with marketers who are not only speaking to their customers and prospects on a personalized level, but they are seasoned at doing so.  If your competitors are personalizing and you are not, you are at a competitive disadvantage.  

Need to get started?  Even with a simple basic customer list, here are steps you can take:

1. Personalize by name.

Use the recipient’s name creatively. Integrate it into the design in an interesting, eye-catching way.

2. Target by a single, simple variable.

Will it help to target the mailing by gender? How about by ZIP code? Would it help to add a map? (This works great for new businesses or new branches or locations.) These are data you already have. Use them!

3. Beef up your marketing database.

Purchase simple variables like home ownership or household income for the names you already have. Adding to your database is not expensive, and it can boost your marketing effectiveness exponentially.
Need help? Talk to us about how you can put data to use to create a more personal relationship with your customers. 

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Survey: Data-Driven Marketing Is Critical to Success

According to a survey by Forbes Insights,[1] 64% of global marketers “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to success within a hyper-competitive global economy. An additional 27% agree. This makes 91% of marketers surveyed agreeing or strongly agreeing with the crucial nature of data.
Not only do marketers agree that data-driven marketing is critical, but they are seeing tangible benefits of their efforts. Nearly half—47%— strongly agree that there are “a number of tangible benefits” being realized for their data-driven marketing strategies. An additional 41% agree, making a total of 84%.
Other findings from the survey indicate that . . .
  • senior leaders within organizations support and advocate for data initiatives,
  • there is enterprise-wide vision for data analytics within organizations, and
  • there is an urgency to conduct data-driven marketing campaigns.
There is no getting around the increasing importance of data in today’s marketing strategies, whether global or local. Marketers have more than good intentions. They are putting those strategies into action. How are you keeping pace?
Talk to us about starting or improving your data-driven marketing strategies today!

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.

[1] Data is derived from a survey of 162 U.S.-based senior executives conducted by Forbes Insights in September 2015.  Respondents represented a range of industries, including retail, telecom, technology, consumer packaged goods, automotive, banking, advertising/marketing, energy, travel, media, and insurance. All companies had at least $250 million in annual revenues. 

3 Reasons Print Matters After All

Maybe it’s the thinning volume in the mailbox. Maybe it’s marketers’ drooping results after focusing on e-marketing as a replacement for print. Whatever it is, we’re seeing it more and more. Marketing experts are talking about the benefits of keeping print in the mix.
Most recently, Marketing Profs published an article titled “7 Reasons to Use Print to Win More Business.” Here are three of them. If you want more, you can click through to the rest.
1. Print still has authority. Digital marketing is cheap, and people know it. There is something about putting a brochure, a physical coupon, or a direct mail piece into their hands. It carries weight.
2. Print is gaining a following. Marketing Profs pointed to studies that show that the younger generation is still attracted to print. “Magazines, for example, based on particular subjects, from fashion through fitness, have seen an upswing in younger readers, age 18-24 years.” We might also point to the return of print catalogs this past holiday season after retailers saw lagging sales with digital-only marketing.
3. Print keeps your focus. Readers get easily distracted using digital media, and they lose focus on the message. Whether it’s college students doing their studies, a casual reader at home on the couch, or a targeted recipient reading a piece of direct mail, print holds attention and promotes recall more than digital media.
These are just three of the reasons, but you get the point. (Read the rest of the article here.) 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!

Please give us a call at 440-946-0606
Or visit our website here for more information.