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Even in the digital age, print's time-tested and proven effectiveness deserve to be part of your next campaign.

5 Keys to Customer Acquisition

Without direct mail, customer acquisition falls flat. Sound like a bold claim? It is, but there’s a reason—it’s true. Many direct marketers can attest that, without direct mail, their customer acquisition efforts would be less successful.

What makes direct mail so powerful?

1. It is the only channel that can reach your entire target audience.

Did you know that 6% of consumers in the United States don’t have access to broadband? That 30% of Americans don’t use Facebook? Or that only 83% of U.S. adults have cellphones, and of those, 17% don’t text? Even the best email lists only reach 40–50% of your list. Postal mail is the only channel that can reach your entire target audience.

2. Direct mail lists have lower churn.

People change email addresses frequently, whether through preference or job change. By contrast, people may live at the same address for years, if not decades.

3. Personalization is more reliable.

Data used to personalize by demographic and psychographic can be readily cross-checked and validated. When purchasing or adding to a direct mail list, you can have a high level of confidence in its accuracy.

4. Mail stands out in the mailbox.

It is not unusual for the average person to receive hundreds of emails in a single day. Even the best, most personalized email may still never be seen. By contrast, with consumers’ mailboxes less full than they used to be, well-designed direct mail pieces jump out and command attention.

5. Direct mail is visually compelling.

HTML email utilizes many of the benefits of graphics and personalization, but direct mail offers a level of tangibility and visual appeal not available in any other channel. People respond to the richness of color, the depth of imagery, and dimensional techniques such as coatings, dynamic folds, and eye-catching die-cuts.

Customer acquisition is critical to your business. To achieve success, you need the right tools. While going multichannel with print and digital marketing is a “must have” approach, direct mail remains the most predictable, effective way to reach the widest number of consumers. Don’t miss out!

You’ve heard about content marketing, but is it right for your business? Here are three approaches to ensure investing in this strategy pays off.

Keep the Conversation Going!

When do you engage with your customers? Is it only when you want to sell them something? If so, consider extending the conversation. Customers are more loyal when they feel that you care about them personally, not just the bottom line, so here are three ways to keep the conversation rolling.

1. Touch base . . . just to touch base.

Send personalized notes and postcards at critical anniversaries. Celebrate customers’ birthdays, but also significant business relationship anniversaries, such as the date someone first becomes a customer. Some companies make these touches by email, but personalized cards and letters have far more impact. There is something more powerful about a beautiful personalized message that arrives in a printed envelope than “Happy Birthday!” in an 8-point subject line.

2. Provide valuable information.

If you continue to receive real estate postcards even after you’ve purchased a home, it’s not that your realtor forgot to take you out of their database. It’s part of a growing trend of long-term customer retention that all market verticals can learn from. Realtors often send postcards every few months or at the change of seasons. They might offer suggestions for improving the curb appeal of your home, tricks for spring decluttering, or ideas for winterizing your garage. When your friends are looking for referrals or when your children are looking to purchase their first home, they want to be the first one you recommend. Maybe they are onto something. How could you use this strategy to your advantage?

3. Don’t let them get away.

Do you know when customers are starting to fade away? Maybe they buy fewer products from you, or maybe they do so less frequently. Perhaps they stopped engaging on social media or changed their email address and didn’t re-up with your newsletter. Pay attention to which of your customers remain engaged and reach out to those who are not. This allows you to re-engage lagging relationships before it’s too late. Once a pattern of non-engagement becomes entrenched, it’s much harder to change.

Everyone wants to be noticed and cared about, and your customers are no different. Love your customers beyond the sale, and they will love you back.

Surveys give your customers chances to voice their opinions, and your company can take them into consideration so you can better serve your customers.

Tips for Mailing on a Budget

Postal costs are one of the most substantial items in a marketer’s direct mail budget. But even if your budget is tight, don’t compromise this critical customer contact and retention tool. Don't mail less. Mail smarter. Here’s how:

1. Keep your list up to date.

The most reliable way to reach your target audience is to use postal mail, but people still move. According to the United States Postal Service, 14% of Americans change addresses annually. Use change of address tools like the NCOA (National Change of Address) database and “enhanced” NCOA (which adds the use of third-party data) to make sure your mail reaches its destination.

2. Get addresses right.

Ensure that your addresses are deliverable. This means they have been checked, updated, or "certified." The National Deliverability Index (NDI) rates the percentage of deliverable addresses in a list. Know your number!

3. Remove duplicates.

For every duplicate you mail, you are wasting money. Bob M. Jones might be the same as Robert Michael Jones and B. M. Jones, so make sure to find out. Lists need to be “scrubbed” to ensure that each individual or household only receives one piece of mail.

4. Select your audience carefully.

Mail only to recipients most likely to buy. One family-owned automotive company, for example, was regularly getting less than 1% response rates to its mailings, so it invested in creating a demographic profile of its best customers. Once it knew what its best customers looked like, it targeted new customers that looked just like them. The results? Response rates tripled, and the mailing brought in 33% more revenue per customer.

5. Be relevant.

Only mail information of relevance to your audience. Instead of mailing promotions on lawn care to everyone within a specific ZIP Code, for example, only target people who own standalone homes with yards. Don’t waste money mailing to people in condos with no need for your product.

Need help optimizing your postal costs using one or more of these techniques? Let us help!

You want it to become recognizable in the eyes of both current and potential consumers. To help, we’ve come up with some tips to consider when designing your brand’s logo.

Outdoor advertising is more than just billboards; it can include any medium from benches to buses to window displays. Let us tell you all about the benefits of outdoor advertising.

Here are just a few benefits you might discover when you join a professional organization.

Are You Giving Your Mailing List Enough Love?

Quick! If you had to identify the most important component of your marketing, what would you say? Did you say your mailing list? If so, make sure it gets enough love. Let’s look at some basic steps you should be taking regularly to keep your list in top shape.

1. Address correction. If you do bulk mailings, the United States Postal Service requires you to run your list through NCOA within 90 days of every mailing. Even if your mailings don’t fall under the “bulk” category, using NCOA on a regular basis is just a good idea.

2. Enhanced change of address. NCOA is only about 80% effective. It only works for people who file their change of address with the Post Office, and it is only accurate for those who have moved within the past four years. Enhanced change of address services tap into the data from third parties and can yield 20¬–40% more matches than NCOA alone.

3. Address accuracy. You should be running your list through CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) on a regular basis, as well. This corrects and matches street addresses to postal specifications.

4. De-dupe names. It’s easy for duplicates to sneak into your mailing list (for example, Jane Smith and Jane A. Smith may be the same person), but it’s just as easy to remove them.

5. De-dupe households. Unless you are selling to businesses in which multiple practitioners may be at the same location (such as an office building), why send multiple direct mail pieces to the same address?

6. Deceased suppression. This is another mailing service that may be unfamiliar to many marketers, but it should be a regular part of your routine.

7. Service endorsements. With service endorsements, you are asking the Post Office to let you know if mail cannot be delivered because of an incorrect address. If a new address is available, the Post Office will provide it. If not, you can remove the name from your list.

How many of these services do you use on a regular basis? If you need help with your mailing service and maintaining your list, we’ll be happy to help.

If you’re looking to redesign your website or simply improve the performance of your homepage, keep reading for our list of must-have homepage elements.

Before you ditch yours, check out our reasons why you should still be using one to navigate the business world.

Is Your Print Project Really Finished?

Any marketer has access to high-quality printing, but far fewer take the time to invest in high-quality coating. For those that do, the extra time can make the difference between buyers seeing your project as “a nice piece” and a really great, memorable one. 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. Printed pieces can be exposed to a wide variety of harsh environmental conditions, including mailing equipment, high levels of moisture and dirt, high-traffic conditions (such as retail signage and displays), and constant handling. Coating provides an important level of protection that keeps the piece looking its best. 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.

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, with the added benefit of offering fingerprint resistance, as well. 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. Talk to us about the differences between coating types and ask to see samples. Then use coatings to make your next project shine.

It can be difficult to stay on top of all the words and phrases marketers need to know. We’ve compiled a handy list of definitions you can reference anytime.

If you’re ready to learn to write attention-grabbing headlines that get results, then look no further. Check out these steps for crafting compelling headlines.

Do You Know These 9 Buyer Types?

Do you know who your buyers are? Are they trailblazers? Status seekers? Do they play it safe? Different messaging appeals to different personality types, so it’s helpful to know which categories your customers fall into. Here is the list of “types” created by marketing strategist Gary Hennerberg. Do you know which categories your customers fit?

#1. Trailblazers/Early Adopters: These are the technology innovators. They yearn to be first. They are the ones standing outside the Apple Store overnight just to grab the latest gadget before anyone else. In your marketing copy, position them as ahead of the curve.

#2. My Brand/My Lifestyle: These buyers associate themselves with specific brands. They are proud of the brands they own and like to brag about them. Flatter them by positioning them as influencers.

#3. Money Matters. This audience is practical and combines cost and value when making a decision. Talk to them as sensible buyers who make smart choices.

#4. Right Thing to Do. These buyers have a strong sense of ethics and feel that if the right causes aren’t supported, the world will suffer. Talk to them as the ones who are doing their part to make a difference.

#5. Social Relationships. These buyers have a deep need to be accepted. If they don’t buy the right products or travel in the right circles, they believe their social ranking will suffer. Position them as achieving the status and acceptance they desire.

#6. Adrenaline seekers. Adrenaline seekers feel that the odds are stacked against them, so they need to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. If they don’t, those opportunities may never come back. Financial investors tend to fall into this category.

#7. Playing it safe: These buyers are cautious and methodical. They want to gather all of the information before making a decision. Help them in the process and provide assurances that their decision is safe.

#8. Feeding my insecurity: These buyers feel that they have something to hide and fear that their flaws will be exposed. Position your products and services as helping to protect their vulnerabilities.

#9. Did I matter? For these buyers, their legacy is important. They want to be remembered for their impact on the lives of others. Position your products as helping them make a difference for future generations.

Which personalities fit your products best? Understanding how your customers fit into these buyer categories will help you craft the right messages to motivate them to buy.

Blogs can do a lot for your business, and we’re here to tell you exactly what benefits they can deliver.

“Customer personas,” or “buyer personas,” have been buzzwords in the marketing sphere recently. We’re here to tell you all about these marketing tools and why you should be using them.

Want to make your marketing campaigns the most effective they can be? Be sure to hit all of the key marketing components. Most marketers know the importance of the list, the message, and the offer, but there are other components, too. Here are nine “must haves” for any marketing campaign. How many do your campaigns have?

1. List: You have a target audience, but is it the right audience? Or the right segment of that audience? Your campaign won’t go far if you are marketing to the wrong people.

2. Segmentation: What does your target audience look like and how do they behave? How well do you understand them? Have you created customer profiles? Personas? Do you know the difference?

3. Design and Layout: How will the design and layout of the print piece or email look? What types of images will you use? Is your look and branding consistent across all channels?

4. Offer: What is the call to action and the incentive to respond? Have you changed it up recently? Or is it the same offer you’ve been using for years?

5. Channel: What is the medium? Print? Email? Social media? Mobile? Remember that multiple channels work better than single channels alone.

6. Mailing format: If you are sending direct mail, what is the delivery method? Postcard? Newsletter? Trifold mailer? Are the mailers personalized or static? If you are mailing a letter inside an envelope, is the envelope personalized? Different formats work best for different campaigns.

7. Cadence: What day of the week will the mailing hit? If you are using digital channels, what time of day will the message be delivered? What is the frequency? You want to stay in front of your customers, but you don’t want to overwhelm or irritate them either.

8. Message: What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? Should it be informational? Entertaining? Should it use humor or play it straight?

9. Performance Metrics: How are you going to measure your results? You aren’t going to measure a branding campaign the same way that you measure a sales promotion.

Are you optimizing all of the components in every campaign? If not, there may be an opportunity to improve your results. Let us help!

We’ve compiled a list of what we feel are the most important questions to ask candidates in a job interview. By using you’ll be sure to get the answers you need to make an informed hiring decision.

3 Tips for Creating a Visual Brand

Top brands have key written marketing strategies, but they have visual strategies too. Think about some of today’s most iconic brands—Nike, McDonald’s, Disney. Just one glance and the entire brand—its core messages and key products—rush into your mind. Do you have a visual brand? If not, how can you create one?

1. Be consistent with brand colors.

There’s a reason top brands place such importance on their brand colors. Think Tide Orange and Coca-Cola Red. Not only are these brand colors used for products and logos, but they infuse every aspect of these companies’ marketing, both digital and print.
Even if you don’t have an official brand color, identify colors that are consistent with your company message and image. Use them consistently throughout your materials. Color can be a consistent presence in all of your marketing materials that triggers visual memory.

2. Tell your story in pictures.

What’s your brand story? How can images of your products tell that story? For example, from a branding perspective, Harley-Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles. It sells independence and freedom. Visuals of the open road are as important as the motorcycle itself. Likewise, Lexus doesn’t sell cars. It sells prestige. Its advertising shows cars driven by men in expensive suits or by women dripping with luxury.
What feelings do your print materials need to evoke? Are your products designed to give people financial freedom, make them better moms, or boost their social standing? If so, what images will reinforce those messages?

3. Go professional.

Stock imagery works in a pinch, but it tells a general story, not your story. Try hiring a professional photographer and using pictures of your storefront or corporate offices, your employees, and your products in use (rather than just house shots). Build a visual identity based on real people, places, and things associated with your company.

Visual branding is a powerful tool — use it!

We’re breaking down key reasons you’ll want to adopt social media into your next digital marketing plan.

There are plenty of ways to market your business at state and county fairs, and we’re going to tell you how.

If you’re looking for a way to cut through the noise of digital media, consider focusing your efforts on print marketing.

5 Tips for Keeping Customers Coming Back

You want to keep your most profitable customers, right? Right! According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. You can double your profitability just by keeping the customers you already have. So how do you do that? Here are five tips for keeping your customers coming back.

1. Go holistic. The more you know your customers, the easier it is to know what to do to keep them. Start by tying together all the data you have on each customer to get one holistic view. For example, John W. Smith in your mailing database may also be Johnny Smith Jr. in your email list and J.W. Smith on Facebook. Most customers need help tying these databases together. If so, contact us, and we can help.

2. Make it easy. Reduce barriers to communicating with you. Give people more options, whether it’s via chat box or Facebook Messenger. Make it easier to buy and make repeat purchases. Something as simple as pre-filling response cards and subscription forms can improve the customer experience.

3. Treat them like real people. Customers don’t like feeling like a number. Take what you know about them and personalize text and images, whether in print or email. Invest in expanding your database to include new variables that will increase relevance.

4. Listen. Are you only pushing information out and not listening to feedback? Respond quickly and appropriately to comments sent to you through email, your company blog, and even social media.

5. Take the long view. Forget the gimmicks and quick fixes. Prizes, sweepstakes, and “experiential events” can get results, but they are short lived. As one strategist has put it, “Get to the trenches, examine how your customers live and use your products, and then design a complete meaningful solution for them across all touchpoints.”

There are no quick fixes for customer loyalty. It requires developing a strategy, making a commitment, and investing in an ongoing relationship with your customers that includes listening, as well as talking.

Need help? Give us a call!

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