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

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.

Getting Content Marketing Right

We hear a lot of about content marketing these days. Why is it so important? Whether it’s in print, email, or mobile, content marketing builds customer trust, engagement, and loyalty, which are the foundations of long-term revenues and growth. Here are five steps to getting it right.

1. Have a brand message.

Boil your brand messaging down into a simple statement that reflects both your product and your value proposition. Some well-known examples are McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” and Nike’s “Just do it.” Having an over-arching brand message helps you maintain consistency and focus in your broader print and digital marketing efforts.

2. Use metrics to gauge results.

How you incorporate content marketing into an overall marketing strategy will depend on what you want to achieve. Use metrics to further specific marketing goals, including:

• Sales volume
• Market share
• Number of leads
• Cost per lead
• Length of sales cycle

Put numbers to these goals and time frames to achieve them.

3. Speak your audience’s language.

You will speak differently to moms raising children than you will to twenty-somethings just starting their first job. Have a detailed knowledge of who your audience is and what makes them tick. Craft your images and messaging to each segment.

4. Keep branding consistent.

All of your content should reflect consistent branding. Place someone in charge of managing your content strategy and set up guidelines for elements such as logos, brand colors, images, and fonts, styles, and sizes of text. Remember that all of your brand elements must work across multiple channels, including print, email, and mobile.

5. Target the stage of the sales funnel.

Not only can your customers be segmented into different target groups, but they are also at different stages along their buying journeys. For example, someone who needs your product but isn’t yet aware of your brand isn’t ready to skip right to product selection and pricing. Know where customers are along the journey and craft the right message to hit them at the right time.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be, and you don’t need to go it alone. Give us a call!

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

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.

What Drives Color Trends?

What influences the graphic designers who are designing your marketing collateral, direct mail, packaging, and displays? According to Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, five factors are impacting the use of color in any design project:

1. How the eye sees color.

This refers to the interaction of the object, the light source, and the observer. The same color appears different to the eye based on lighting conditions. Depending on how and where color is used, color choices will differ.

2. The culture around us.

Design trends are influenced by the culture around us, including colors of state, colors of religion, color conventions, and colors of groups (sports teams, corporations, organizations, schools).

3. Psychology of color.

Not everyone agrees on the emotions or meaning that colors evoke, but there is little disagreement that certain colors inspire certain emotions. Use color to do more than look pretty. Use it to influence emotion.

4. Color fads, trends, and cycles.

There will always be color fads, trends, and cycles. To anticipate emerging trends, Bredenfoerder suggests watching the New York runways and the Hollywood red carpet, since fashion designers are often harbingers of the trends that reach the world of print and digital design.
5. Color influence and forecasting.

Color forecasting is an active, ongoing creative process that incorporates more substantial influences such as politics, medicine, and culture. Today, the yearning for simpler things of life can be seen in color trends that relate to playfulness, nature, and joy.

The takeaway? Color is a powerful tool, but just like fonts and design style, they are always shifting. Don’t get stuck in the past.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Magazine Ad Effectiveness Study Proves Print’s Value . . . Again

Have you ever considered starting your own niche magazines to connect with your customers and prospects? Build brand awareness and trust? If you haven’t considered it out of concern that magazines are passé, you might want to consider “The Print Campaign Analysis,” a study conducted by Millward Brown for the Magazine Publishers Association.

Millward Brown, an authority in the assessment of advertising impact, examined the data from nearly 100 ad effectiveness studies that the advertisers had commissioned. The report finds that print advertising results in the greatest increases in persuasion metrics (brand favorability and purchase intent) compared to other platforms. It also found that digital platforms were most effective when combined with traditional media, such as print.

Top findings?

• Print ad exposures generated lifts that were 7% points higher than those for online and 3% points higher than those for TV.
• When it comes to improved brand favorability and purchase intent, print ads result in 11% lift, compared to 58% for TV and 4% for online.
• When advertisers used print in combination with other platforms, they were most successful in raising outcome metrics.
• Outcomes varied by industry. In the entertainment industry, in particular, print resulted in 18% increase in brand favorability (compared to 9% for TV and 5% for online) and 15% increase in purchase intent (compared to 10% for TV and 3% for online).
• Adding print to a TV schedule helped consumers recall the TV ads they had seen. Exposure to both TV and print in ad campaigns improved consumers’ ability to correctly associate the advertised brands with their respective advertising messages.

Once again, print proves to be a powerful channel both on its own and as an amplifier for digital channels.

Whether you are considering adding a niche magazine to your communications mix or simply evaluating the value of print channels like direct mail, this study should give you confidence that print works!

Think a custom magazine might be right for your marketing goals? Let’s talk.

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.

9 Components Every Marketing Campaign Must Have

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!

Getting Great Results from Personalized Print

Personalized content is everywhere—direct mail, email, magazines, and even ads that follow you around the web. But as a marketer, how do you get there? Just dropping in data-driven content doesn’t guarantee success. Whether it’s print or email, here are three keys to remember when creating any personalized marketing campaign.

• Don’t rely on data alone. In a recent study, 51% of consumers said that personalized communications make them more likely to buy. However, that’s only after you’ve gotten down the basics. Ultimately, all of the elements—creative, messaging (including personalization), offer, segmentation, call to action, and incentive—need to come together to determine success.

• Focus on relevance, not “personalization.” It doesn’t matter how “personalized” a document is. If it isn’t relevant, it is worthless. You can have the best residential landscaping service around, for example, but if your list includes a high percentage of people living in apartments or condos, your ROI will stink.

• Know, know, know your customers. Understand what makes your customers tick, then market to what matters to them. For example, the Millennial generation prioritizes experience over specs. If you sell custom bicycles, for example, capture their attention with the value of a family cycling together or how much faster their urban commute would be without getting caught in an automotive snarl.

Investing in your marketing database and developing an intimate understanding of your customers takes time, dedicated resources, and human resources, but it is one of the most important investments you can make.

Need some help? Let us help you develop your next personalized print or email campaign.

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

Before You Personalize, Do This!

Want to rock the results of your next personalized marketing campaign? Profile before you personalize! What do we mean by that? We mean understanding what your customers look like as aggregate demographic or psychographic groups before you send targeted mailings or personalize to them as individuals.

As a very simplified example, let’s take age. Each age demographic tends to have different priorities and differing responses to different types of messaging. By running a very simple analysis, for example, you might find that your customer base looks like this:

• 18-34 years old (38%)
• 35-49 years old (30%)
• 50-64 years old (18%)
• 65+ years old (14%)

If you’ve never profiled your customers by age, these numbers might surprise you. Did you know that your customers are heavily skewed toward the younger demographics? If not, why do you think this is? Could you increase the purchases from the older audiences by crafting your messaging differently? Should you use a different channel mix for each segment? Profiling gives you critical insight to use in developing your campaigns.

Likewise, consumers behave differently based on where they live. Consumer attitudes in New Hampshire will vary considerably from those in the Deep South. Red States and Blue States may have very different preferences and attitudes about certain issues, products, and services.

Look at other characteristics, as well. Where do your customers prefer to shop (brick-and-mortar store or online)? What marketing channels do they respond to (direct mail, e-mail or text messaging)?

Once you understand the profile of your customer base, you can compare these profiles against well-known demographic and psychographic patterns to anticipate what types of messaging are most likely to resonate and get the best results.

So profile before you personalize!

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

Top Reasons to Use More Visual Content

You’ve spent weeks developing the messaging for your Spring Fling mailer or your annual fundraising letter. You know your audience. Your message is on target. The call to action is compelling. You can’t wait to see what happens. The campaign drops and the results are… disappointing. What went wrong? One question to ask is, “Did I use enough visual content?”

When creating any marketing campaign, graphics and images are a must. There are three things to remember about the importance of visual content:

• 93% of communication is non-verbal.
• 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual.
• People remember about 20% of what they read, but as much as 80% of what they see.

Also, consider the following data about graphic content from around the web:

• 55% of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds of actively reading text on the page.
• Social sharing more than doubles when images are used.
• For posts without images, the average number of Facebook shares is 28. With images, it jumps to 65.
• For tweets without images, the average number of Twitter shares is ten. With images, it jumps to 20.

Strong, powerful graphics are critical to any print or digital marketing program and can make the difference between your message being noticed and remembered and not. How many images do your marketing communications use?

Data source: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/boost-engagement-visual-content

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

Backlinks are vital to an effective SEO strategy — they help websites rank higher on search engines and boost credibility. There are many ways to obtain backlinks, and we’ll tell you how and where to get them.

In order to attract Gen Z consumers, you need to understand their motivations and strategize your approaches accordingly. We’ve outlined a few characteristics about Gen Zers and how you can use them in your marketing efforts.

Brand voice is the emotion and personality that go into a brand’s communications, from the language it uses to the images in its marketing assets.

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