Thursday, April 15, 2021

5 Benefits You Get from Branding

 When businesses plan their direct mail or email campaigns, their goal is generally customer acquisition or retention. But what about branding? Marketing campaigns explicitly designed to build your brand are as important as those for customer retention and sales. Why is branding so important?


1. Awareness. When people talk about your category of product or service, you want your name to be part of the mix. Think about categories such as laundry detergent (Tide), carbonated drinks (Coke, Pepsi), and shipping (FedEx, UPS). When people talk about your product category, you want brand recall and awareness like theirs.


2. Loyalty. Most people aren’t loyal to their favorite brands simply because of price or products. They are loyal because the brand resonates with them on a deeper level. Say you are a local hardware store that gives its employees days off to work through Habitat for Humanity to help build a house for a family in need. Once the house is finished, you might send a direct mail piece with the faces of smiling employees standing in front of a house with tools in their hands: “We’re more than the corner hardware store. We care!” Imagine the branding power of a message like that!


3. Referrals. People who have never used your product or service may still recommend it if they’ve encountered your brand enough times to develop a sense of familiarity.


4. Premium pricing. A powerful brand can lift your product or service out of the commodity marketplace. For example, with so many stores selling coffee, what makes people stand in line and pay top dollar at Starbucks? Branding!

5. Lower your marketing cost. Although you have to invest resources to create a strong brand, you can maintain it without having to re-tell your story over and over once your brand is established. Many budget-conscious marketers rely heavily on electronic media, but research shows that people still prefer print — and are more likely to remember it.


Successful marketing is built on three pillars: customer acquisition, customer retention, and branding. Make sure you are developing strategies for all three.

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

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Your Company Has Changed — Has Your Brochure?


Businesses are constantly evolving. You develop new products. You launch new services. You begin focusing on a specific niche or targeting new audiences. Be sure to update your marketing collateral along the way. This includes your company brochure. If you haven’t updated your company brochure in a while, here are seven tips for making the most of it.

1. Keep a tight focus.

A brochure isn’t a catalog. Hit the highlights, including your mission, product and service categories, and what makes you different. Save the details for another time.

2. Break it into targeted versions.

Increase the power of your marketing by targeting brochures to specific audiences. Instead of creating 10,000 of one brochure, for example, try breaking it into four different versions of 2,500 each. Use them to promote various product lines, target audiences, and even different events.

3. Unique imagery.

It might be tempting to keep down costs by using free or low-cost royalty-free images. However, generic photos can hurt your brand. They aren’t you, so they don’t tell your story. Plus, they can damage your brand if people see those images somewhere else. Use traditional royalty images or hire a professional photographer instead.

4. Limit your font choices.

Don’t over-clutter your space or create visual confusion with too many fonts. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three fonts in any one piece.

5. Use white space.

Brochures are designed as door openers, not sales closers. Be selective. Use white space to create breathing room to keep the design clean and inviting. Tell your audience just enough to pique their interest and get them to take the next step.

6. Use high-quality stock.

People associate the quality of your paper stock with the quality of your products. Don’t skimp!

7. Include a call to action.

Even though you might not want to give a hard sell, you still want a call to action. Otherwise, your audience may just read the brochure, then set it aside. CTAs are critical to getting your audience to take action.

Are you redesigning your brochure or designing one for the first time? Let our designers give you more great ideas.

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

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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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