Thursday, March 26, 2020

Do Your Business Cards Tell a Story?

Have you ever thought about what story your business cards are telling? If you are like most people, they say to your customers, prospects, and peers little more than how to get in contact with you. But used right, they can do much more. Here are some ideas for doing more with this under-utilized tool. 

1. Use a non-traditional stock. 
Instead of using the same high-volume plain white stock that your competitors are using, why not choose something that better represents what you do? If you sell party supplies, for example, consider a business card coated with colored foil. If you own or manage a “hard-bodies” gym, find paper made from rocks! (Yes, there is such a thing.)

2. Use both sides. 
Most business cards are not printed on the back, creating a massive opportunity for you. Think “mini brochure.” Add text that tells a story about what your specialty is and what you’ve accomplished. Add QR Codes or augmented reality to take prospects to videos or landing pages where they can learn more. 

3. Segment cards to target different audiences. 
Just as you can segment your direct mail and email to different target audiences, you can do the same thing with business cards. If you sell landscaping equipment, consider creating one card for customers selling into the residential market and another for customers selling into the business market. 

4. Add embellishments and dimensions. 
Black-and-white or colored text on white stock. Is that how you want people to remember you? Add iridescence, embossing, foil, or specialty coatings in ways that, when people look at your business card, remember your story. If you sell water systems, for example, add a water drop with a satin coating to pop off the uncoated stock. You want customers and prospects to easily recall your earlier conversation or marketing interaction and why they wanted to stay in contact with you in the first place.  

Your business card is a mini-canvas that you can use to truly sell yourself and help people remember you and tell them what you can do. It’s a great opportunity. Don’t miss it!

Source: Inspired by Pat McGrew’s “Storytelling Business Cards” on Print Sample TV.

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5 Buckets That Help Your Marketing

Did you know that by segmenting your audience into universal “buckets,” or like-minded groups, you can better target your messaging and get better results from your print and digital marketing projects?

“Buckets” is a helpful term that describes grouping your customers into categories that reflect common wants, needs, and purchase motivators. By assigning each recipient to the appropriate bucket(s), you can target your message more precisely. Here are five basic ways to do that:  

1. Geography. Where do your targets live? Are they grouped into neighborhoods or geographic regions that share common characteristics and needs? 

2. Company Profile. If you’re doing B2B marketing, companies with common characteristics, such as being in the same market vertical or being of similar size, tend to share common challenges and pressure points. You might have a bucket for each vertical market, as well as the number of employees, annual revenues, and the number of locations. 

3. Demographics. This is one of the most common ways marketers think about targeting their customers. What is their gender? Age? Household income? How does each of these demographics influence how you craft the message?

4. Behavior. People with very different demographic makeups can still have shared values and behave in similar ways. For example, a 20-something recent college grad living in New York City might fall into the same “green consumer” bucket as a 60-something retiree residing in Colorado. This is where knowing common interests (such as through magazine subscriptions) and tracking common behaviors (such as white papers downloaded or seminars attended) can pay huge dividends. 

5. Purchase patterns. People who buy the same products have similar needs for upsells and cross-sells. Tracking purchases can provide insight into the next marketing steps. 

These are just some basic ways of understanding and targeting customers, but there are many more. Talk to us about the best ways to slice and profile your data to get maximum results!

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Data: You Can’t Market Without It

There is no getting around the increasing importance of data in marketing. In fact, according to Forbes Insights,[1] 64% of global marketers “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to success within a hyper-competitive economy. Similarly, Gartner found that 69% of marketing leaders expect the majority of their decisions to be driven by data.[2]
Why do data-driven decisions matter so much? Even the best marketers can be misled by going with their guts. Think of some of the famous missteps in branding. Remember the disastrous introduction of “New Coke”? Or GAP’s infamous logo reintroduction that was universally hated by its customers? These were the result of great ideas not sufficiently backed up by data.
The same principle applies in marketing. If you are selling a new beauty product, do you need to create different messaging for women who are Gen Z versus Millennials? Are your customers more likely to respond to a call to action highlighted in yellow or red? Do response rates improve if you swap out images based on gender, age, or geographic location? These are the kinds of decisions that should be made based on data.
Need to learn more about your customers? Here are three ways to do that:
Customer surveys: If you want to learn more about what your customers think and what they value, ask them.
Tracking and metrics: Use barcodes, redemption codes, cookies, and other forms of response tracking. Don’t just ask people what they think. Watch what they do.
Purchase data: You can learn a lot about your customers by purchasing insights such as their interests (based on purchases, magazine subscriptions, etc.), contributions to charities, and other third-party data.
Your marketing is too important to base it on guesswork. Use data as your “eyes” to make sure you are getting it right. If you need help, just ask!

[1] Data is derived from a survey of 162 U.S.-based senior executives conducted by Forbes
[2] Gartner Marketing Analytics Survey (2018)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Direct Marketing is More Important Now Than Ever Before: Top 6 Things Marketers Need to Keep in Mind During COVID-19 Pandemic

Great! The whole world has gone seemingly crazy and you don’t know what to do. Information is changing hour by hour and even minute by minute. It’s difficult to know what to do, what kind of effect this will have on your business, how to anticipate, prepare for and mitigate the losses that are inevitably coming your way. It is undisputable that every single action that you take (or don’t take) will affect your business for weeks, months and even years to come. That is really heavy huh? Well, don’t panic. What goes down must come up. You will very likely make it through this. Many of us have been through similar times before (2008 was not that long ago and we’re still here).
Whether this is your first time through an economic downturn or you’ve been here before, here are some things that you need to keep in mind as you are putting together your actions steps.

  1. Don’t Stop Marketing - Do NOT completely halt all of your marketing efforts – if you can INCREASE them and capitalize on the opportunity for maximum exposure
  2. Niche Market Analysis - Do a deep dive analysis of your target audience and their behaviors during economic downturn
  3. Customers First - Focus heavily on your customer base and internal file as they are the most likely to continue to buy from you.
  4. Direct Market - Increase overall conversion rates by utilizing direct marketing methods that targets only people who are most likely to continue to buy during an economic downturn.
  5. TRACK TRACK TRACK - Analyze and track every marketing action and the return on investment
  6. Be in it for the “Long Haul” - Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for a long ride – you may not see immediate results, stick with it! 

If you implement these 6 actions then you will be more prepared and better off than most businesses who will cut their marketing completely on a knee jerk reaction to the current situation. Over 400,000 small businesses went bankrupt or permanently closed in the last recession. Let’s take the lessons from the past and apply the successful actions today.

Pandemic Marketing Rule #1: Don’t Stop Marketing
When economic downturn strikes the last thing that you want to do is halt all of your marketing efforts. Promotion is the bloodline of your business, cutting the supply will severely damage or kill your overall business especially during a time of crisis. Building and maintaining your brand is the way your customers and potential customers will be able to maintain their recognition and trust in you as an organization. They need to know that you are here and you are weathering the storm. You can also utilize this time to capitalize on exposure. Most business’s first action will be to cut marketing budgets and promotional outflow.  This allows you the space, time and audience to make a maximum impact and impression on your target audience.

Pandemic Marketing Rule #2:  Niche Market Analysis
Take a deep dive analysis of your target audience and specifically their buying behaviors during an economic downturn. There is an article put out by the Harvard Business Review that goes into the psychology of consumer behavior and purchasing habits during a recession. “It’s critical to track how customers reassess priorities, reallocate funds, switch brands and redefine value”.  From groups that will “slam on the brakes” and not buy anything to people who “live for today” and continue purchases without missing a beat. Assess what this means for your organization to build the most effective marketing plan to the segments within your niche market. You have the raw data and there are resources available to assist you in analyzing that data to build your effective pandemic marketing strategy.

Pandemic Marketing Rule #3: Customer First
The good ole 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers is so important during this time. Hang onto those customers for dear life, they will be your largest asset during this time. You cannot effectively retain their business and loyalty if you aren’t communicating with them. And let’s face it – every organization in the country is sending emails on how they are handling COVID19 including your florist so let’s not pretend that email is going to cut the mustard. Focus the bulk of your marketing efforts on your existing clients.

Pandemic Marketing Rule #4: Direct Market
This may be the most important rule of all. With today’s cutting-edge technology, we are all in a much better position than we were during the Great Recession. In addition to focusing on your customer base, you can pin-point target market exactly who is interested in your products or services right now. You can eliminate the prospecting guessing game focus only on people who are visiting your website. Identify the anonymous visitors through modern technology like LEADMatch and send them a direct mail piece (heck everyone is going to be home anyway). You can also retarget those visitors digitally through the Google Display Network and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Focusing on only the people who are browsing your products and services right now will allow for more effective use of your marketing dollars and overall higher conversion rates. Utilize direct marketing in a very targeted manner to ensure you are staying in front of the appropriate base and creating the serendipitous moment of being in the right place at the right time – when they’re ready to buy!

Pandemic Marketing Rule #5: TRACK TRACK TRACK
You need to track everything that you do (period). Tracking will give you full visualization into market infiltration, exposure, engagements, conversions and overall marketing impact. It will also provide you with the visual transparency that you need in order to test and tweak messages, call to actions, market segments, etc. Gather the data and analyze constantly. Once you know what is working strengthen those actions and knock off any waste. The ultimate goal is to refine your marketing strategy and enhancing best practices continuously to ensure overall success and sustainability. Be willing to adapt and pivot quickly as data and trends become more and more clear. Trust the process.

Pandemic Marketing Rule #6: Be in it for the Long Haul
This situation may have seemingly exploded overnight and the impacts are hard and fast. This will not be the same story for the rebuild. Much like a natural disaster, it takes a short period of time for catastrophic damage but a lot of time, patience and hard work for the repairs and overall reconstruct to take place. Buckle up and be ready to ride this thing through. There is no “quick fix” here. Marketing is a long game anyway, now it will be even longer. Have patience and know that every effort that you make right now will pay off in the long run. Do everything in your power to keep up the consistent outflow. It will not only keep your business alive during this time but it will almost certainly ensure future growth.

Need help marketing during the pandemic? Check out our Partner Locator: Expert strategists are standing by to help you through this crisis. We have the tools and guidance that you need in order to make it through.

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