Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Essential 5-Point Marketing Checklist

 Ever wish there were a simple way to condense a wealth of marketing wisdom into a nice, neat package? This five-point checklist is a handy resource to have in your back pocket. Use all five “checks” with every campaign, every time, and you’ll get outstanding results.

1. Craft the right message.

Before you start writing copy, know your customer base and what is relevant to them. For example, if you’re a car dealership, don’t try to sell new cars to people who have purchased one within the last 12 months, even if you’re offering a great deal. Send them a discount on their next service visit instead.

2. Target the right audience.

The importance of targeting can be summed up in the experience of one diet and fitness company. The company targeted women in a specific demographic. The mailer had a great product, a great offer, and used a strong call to action. The campaign bombed. Why? The company mailed to the heads of households, which were primarily male in its target area. Make sure you are targeting the right people!

3. Get the timing right.

When you mail or blast, your communication matters — a lot. Think about donations. Charities often solicit in the spring, but unless people are regular donors, they typically do the bulk of their gifting in December, right before tax season ends. Timing can make a huge difference in your success.

4. Select the right channel.

Some people block phone calls, but read email. Others block email, but accept phone calls. Direct mail always gets through. Know your customers and what channels they prefer. Use those channels, and you’ll maximize your opportunity for success.

5. Focus on the right reason.

Successful campaigns are based not just on what people buy, but why. What are the emotional triggers that motivate your audience to make a purchase? New parents want to ensure that their children are happy and safe. New homeowners want to protect their investments. Understand the “why” as much as the “what.”

Get all five of these checkpoints right, and you have a paradigm for success! 

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

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

New Creative Features Enhance Adobe Photoshop

One of the aspects of Adobe Photoshop that makes it a favorite of creative professionals is its ever-expanding set of features. The most recent release is no exception. 


What's new in the Fall 2020 version of Adobe Photoshop? 


Powerful new filters: Neural Filters is a new workspace inside Photoshop that lets you explore various creative ideas. Using sliders, you can colorize a scene, zoom in on parts of an image, or change someone's expression, age, gaze, or pose in seconds. To access the new Neural Filters workspace, choose Filter > Neural Filters.


Sky Replacement: The new Sky Replacement feature lets you quickly select and replace the sky in a photo. Your scenery colors automatically adjust to match the new sky. Save precious time retouching and get the mood you want, even if the shooting conditions weren't ideal. Choose Edit > Sky Replacement.


Version history:  Want to look back at previous versions of your image without undoing the changes? With the new Version History panel, you can access saved versions of your Photoshop cloud documents. Choose (Windows) File / (macOS) Window > Version History. Preview, mark, and revert to earlier versions as needed.


Use Photoshop cloud documents offline: Are you going off the grid but want to edit on the go? You can make a recently opened Photoshop cloud document available offline for editing even when you don't have internet access. Go to cloud documents on the home screen, click the three-dot icon, and select "Make available offline."


Pattern preview: Want to envision how your design will come to life as a pattern? The new Pattern Preview mode virtually tiles and repeats your design automatically. Try the patterns on your direct mail, marketing collateral, and wide-format graphics. Choose View > Pattern Preview.


Other enhancements include:  

  • More options for creating and managing shapes. 
  • Ability to reset a Smart Object to its original state.
  • Faster, easier to use plug-ins. 
  • Search feature in the Brushes, Swatches, Gradients, Styles, Patterns, and Shapes panels help you find specific presets easily.
  • Easier to use "content aware" tracing tool.
  • Enhancements to "select and mask," fill, and other features. 


Thought Photoshop couldn't get any better? Think again. If you haven't upgraded to the October 2020 release of Photoshop, what are you waiting for? Happy creating!

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

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Monday, December 28, 2020

Want Better Direct Mail? Check These 5 Things

 When designing a direct mail piece, have you ever thought about how the recipient’s eye travels around it? Understanding this basic reader behavior can help you improve your results, even if your design is already working for you.

Let’s start with a simple envelope. Where do people’s eyes go first? How can you use this knowledge to improve the impact of your piece?

1. Return address. You might think that recipients look at their name and address first, but you’d be wrong. Recipients almost always start with this area of the envelope. Do they recognize your business name? Are you a business they already have a relationship with? If you are a known brand, consider using colored text or adding a logo, so the recipient recognizes you from a distance.

2. Recipient name and address. It sounds simple, but too many marketers have mistakes in their databases that ruin the user experience before the piece is ever read. Get the recipient’s name right. Ensure all of the data is in the correct field so you don’t send mail intended for Lt. Col. John Smith, USMC (Ret.) to USMC Ret. Yes, it’s happened.

3. Postage area. Even the type of postage you use has an impact on your results. For example, people are more likely to open your mailing if they see a first-class stamp. However, it’s essential to balance postage type with volume, too.

4. Teaser copy (if desired). The outside of the envelope is the first place people are exposed to your message, so take advantage of it. Teaser copy can be preprinted or personalized during the printing process.

5. Back side. When the recipient takes in the mail, which side of the envelope will they will see first? There is no way to predict. So include hints, teasers, and calls to action on the back side of the mailer, too.

The outside of your envelope is the recipients’ first exposure to your marketing message, so make sure you’ve optimized every corner of your envelope. Studies show you have three seconds or less before the recipient keeps or trashes your mail piece and 30 seconds or less for them to decide to open it. Make the most of that time.

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

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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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