Archive | February, 2016

Print Marketing – What Was Once Old is Now New Again

24 Feb

Recently, a prospective client said they wanted to get customers’ attention through non-traditional marketing using printed products. Who knew that in 2016, the printed word would be considered "non-traditional?" Non-traditional? We’re saying this about a medium that was developed back in the 1400’s by Johannes Gutenberg! While Webster’s (of dictionary fame) mind might be little blown by this reference, when you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense.

For the past two decades, digital media has been rapidly replacing many of our formerly traditional ways of doing things, from watching television, reading the newspaper, to yes…print marketing. With the democratization of information that the internet has brought, more and more people are consuming this information digitally. Social media and search engine algorithms target our interests and bombard us with advertisements directed at those interests, to the point that we’ve become immune to the ancillary advertising "noise" that surrounds the article that we are reading online. Ad-ridden blogs and online media are now considered traditional.

Getting Attention With Quality Print Marketing Materials

A well-designed print marketing device can effectively break through the noise and grab your customers’ attention. Print marketing can take on many forms, including:

oBusiness Cards: Different shapes, sizes, die cuts, and formats grab people’s attention and make for some great talking points that help build relationships.
oInvitations: Having a grand opening or special occasion? Send out printed invitations and make people feel they are connected.
oPostcards: Whether for direct mail purposes or periodic sales or coupons, postcards can bring in a surprising amount of business.
oMenus of Services or Products: Printed on high-quality paper with excellent design and copy, these types of marketing products add personality to your business.

Poke Your Customers Periodically to Keep Yourself on Their Minds

Marketing doesn’t end when the sale is made. Customer retention is a key part of a successful marketing plan. Following up with the customer can increase retention and build loyalty. Sure, you could send them an email, but really, email is where messages come to die. Consider instead a few timed mailings to keep them engaged, such as:

oThank You Cards: Sending out a card thanking them for their purchase and providing a time-limited discount on their next purchase makes customers feel appreciated and welcome.
oSeasonal Postcards: Consider seasonal postcards with loyalty discounts on relevant seasonal items.
oReferral Cards: Create loyalty and more business by sending out referral cards to encourage your customers to spread the word. You could also offer a discount to both the existing customer and the new customer they bring in.
oStickers: Put your logo, tag line or a branded and relevant inspirational quote on a sticker to put on cars, computers, water bottles, and other personal gear.

Obtain Thought-Leader Status With Print Magazines or Newsletters

While many of the more traditional news magazines are transitioning to digital-only formats, the fact of the matter is, 80% of individuals who read newspapers read them in print. People actually trust written content more than they trust online content. This is true of both information and of advertising. So, depending on your industry, it may be a good idea to create a periodical print magazine or newsletter to give your customers or prospects informative and entertaining news and information that they will be excited to get each month, quarter or year.

Regardless of what type of print marketing you use, telling people a good story or giving them useful and entertaining information will make them loyal customers.

Endurance Can Make All the Difference

17 Feb

Entrepreneur and author Matthew Paulson has characterized entrepreneurship as an endurance sport. It is true that sometimes if you see you are on the wrong track, the best course of action is to abandon the original plan and start in a new direction. However more times than not, just sticking with it can often make all the difference between success and failure, winning and losing. Famed cinematic genius Walt Disney is quoted as saying, "The difference between winning and losing is most often …not quitting." In another famous quote referring to the opinions of pessimistic critics and detractors he said, "It’s kind of fun to do the impossible."

He should know. Walt Disney achieved some of the most spectacular success anyone has ever reached in cinema, winning 22 Academy Awards and more awards and nominations than anyone else in history. He did so by overcoming rejection of his ideas and doing "the impossible."

Disney’s most profound idea, the notion of feature-length animated films when nothing but shorts had ever been done before, was widely criticized as foolish and destined for failure. He persisted, though, and we all know how that turned out. Disney’s endurance in the face of blanket rejection made the difference. By comparison, what a sterile and vacuous world we would have had if he would’ve listened to his detractors and bailed out on his plans.

Long before he was laughed at by Hollywood studios, he learned the value of endurance from other so-called failures that might have derailed an otherwise imaginative career. Early on he was fired from a newspaper for not having any original ideas and for lacking imagination, of all things. His first feature-length animation was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it became the most successful film of 1938, earning the equivalent of 134 million in today’s dollars. That’s not too shabby for someone who lacks imagination. The world is far better off because he had the endurance to see the project through.

Distinguished writer Malcolm Gladwell outlined a theory that it takes 10,000 hours of work on a business to really know what you are doing, to make it a success. That is five years of full-time work–in other words, endurance.

David Weber and Kenny Lao hatched an idea for a food bar built around dumplings as a primary menu item. Their idea actually placed second in a New York University Stern School of Business competition, after which they launched the brick-and-mortar Rickshaw Dumpling. Becoming a bit too ambitious, they launched a second store and stretched their resources far too thin. Nearing bankruptcy, they abandoned the second site and started a mobile food truck, instead. This proved quite successful and saved their business, becoming a well-known icon in New York City. Their endurance–as well as their ingenuity–provided them the vehicle they needed to succeed.

In business and in life, we can allow rejections and other circumstances to rule us, or we can take charge and continue unhindered by those circumstances. An anonymous line states that calm seas do not a skilled sailor make. The rougher the sea, the more practice you get at handling problems. Walt Disney, David Weber, and Kenny Lao stuck it out. The example provided by people like this is an inspiration for us all.

It is said of mountain climbers that they do what they do simply because the mountain is there. But, without endurance there would be no successful climb. In business, the best formula for success involves the endurance of a mountain climber–just because your goals and objectives "are there." Endurance can and frequently does make all the difference.

The Power of You: Keeping Things Personal in Business

11 Feb

In the world of business, one of the most powerful assets that you have is the deep, emotional, and very real connection that you’re capable of making with the people around you. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a prospect or a client or a superior or someone in between, and it certainly makes no difference what industry you’re operating in – this connection is everything. The key word here, however, is "real." If you talk to someone and see them as little more than a line item on a balance sheet, they’re going to be able to tell and your relationship with that person is going to suffer. This is where the power of "you" comes in handy.

Putting the "Relations" Back in "Relationship"

To boil this concept down to its essentials, think for a moment about how irritating it is to write an impassioned letter to a business expressing some important concern or criticism that you have only to receive a standard form letter in return. You poured your heart and soul into this issue, making sure to detail every last grievance you had and that every word got the importance of your message across loud and clear. In exchange, you got a letter that has been sent out 1,000 times before that was probably sitting on a server somewhere, just waiting for an intern to swap out [INSERT NAME HERE] with your actual name.

It doesn’t make you feel good and it certainly doesn’t make you feel appreciated. It might even make you think twice about doing business with that particular company again. Though this is a simplification of the issue you face when you keep everyone at arm’s length, it is actually quite an apt example and is something that you absolutely need to keep in mind moving forward.

"You" and the Customer

There are a number of different things that you can do to help deepen this emotional connection, even if you aren’t actually speaking directly to someone. It’s all about the language that you use and how you’re using it. Consider a promotional poster outlining all of the great features that a particular product brings with it into the marketplace. You could have the best product in the world, but if you’re just listing features in a series of bullet points it will still come across as a bit cold and distant. That emotional connection just won’t be there.

Now, consider what happens when you re-frame the exact same message to directly address the reader. "X feature helps YOU solve Y problem in your life." Suddenly, you’re sending forward the exact same message, but in a way that doesn’t seem like he’s being recited by a faceless corporation. It sounds like it’s coming from a friend. Ultimately, if you want to instill loyalty in your customers, that’s exactly what they need to think of you as – a trusted friend that they know they can depend on and turn to in their time of need.

We believe that this is one of the many ways that "you" will come in handy. Remember that everyone you deal with, from the customers who buy your products or services, to the vendors and suppliers that you depend on, to your own employees and more, you’re dealing with unique individuals who always deserve to be treated as such. It doesn’t require a lot of work to keep things personal in the world of business, and the benefits will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Email Marketing: Is it Right for Your Small Business?

11 Feb

Any kind of marketing in an economy that is still sluggishly recovering is not easy. But if you think marketing a profitable business is tough, imagine how hard it is for a non-profit that is completely dependent on donations. Dreams4Kids is one such non-profit that succeeds primarily with email marketing. Their motto is "replacing charity with opportunity," and they do just that by stimulating participation and community involvement.

The most famous quote by cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead is, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." Dreams4Kids is this kind of forward-thinking small group, and its success is directly linked to its marketing campaigns. While Margaret Mead’s quote bears remembering, it is also true that the engine that drives such successful enterprises is marketing, and with non-profits, donors are the spark that runs the engine.

Marketing through email has been around for quite a while now. It is basically the online version of a direct mail letter–the electronic counterpart to postal letters, fliers, and brochures that have been used and are still being used so successfully. Combining your print marketing with your email marketing just makes sense.

Some of the advantages email marketing has are obvious. Emails are fast and cheap. They can deliver your message almost immediately at almost no cost, and have literally no negative environmental impact. That is quite a bargain. But there are some less obvious benefits, too. With email, you can track whether your mail is getting opened or not. That is valuable information for any marketing campaign. After all, the trick is still getting your message opened and read. If you can determine which messages are getting opened, you have a head start in adjusting the campaign.

What actually works?

How does a non-profit like Dreams4Kids successfully market using email? They follow some easy guidelines that any small business can employ.

1. Decide what kind of campaign you want. Emails can be regularly scheduled newsletters or more sporadic announcements linked to specific events. Both are beneficial and should be considered. But, if you try the latter, be sure your timing is appropriate. The reader must have time to react, but not too much time.

2. Know your target audience. This is an important step in getting those emails opened and read. Whatever is in your email, it has to be relevant to the clients’ interests or you are wasting your time.

3. Provide value. Once it is open, your email must provide something valuable to the reader, whether it is a discount coupon, an announcement of a product launch, or some other information that the client has an established interest in. This is where the mantra comes from: Content is king. The content must have value. Determine what your customers’ questions are and then answer them before they are asked. That provides value.

4. Be brief and to the point. Rambling messages rarely get read completely today. One such email could doom all your subsequent emails to the delete button without being opened.

5. Use images to attract the reader’s eye and maintain interest. A picture really is worth 1,000 words.

6. Use a mobile-friendly email template. If you still think today’s technology is mostly limited to desktop computers, think again. Technology statistics website Statista.com says that Apple Computer’s iPad sales top $1.6 billion quarterly. Worldwide tablet sales by all manufacturers are now over 50 million units quarterly. The days of the desktop’s supremacy are now well behind us. Your emails have to be easily read on tablets and smartphones or your campaign is doomed from the start.

Using email in conjunction with your print marketing really can work for you so that your business becomes part of your customers’ conversations. If Dreams4Kids can effectively use email to attract donors, you can use it to attract and keep customers for your business.

Brand Awareness: Becoming Another Kleenex

3 Feb

In today’s world of marketing, if you are not marketing online, you are missing a very big boat. Marketing is now a science with logistics and parameters that were largely unheard of just a few years ago. However, that is not the case with the notion of brand awareness. The auto industry was probably the biggest contributor to the idea that brand loyalty could be utilized to sell more products. That industry is over 120 years old, and brand awareness became a fashionable tool in marketing automobiles by the early 1900s.

Brand awareness, of course, is the extent to which a name, label, logo, catch phrase, jingle, or another identifier that is associated with a brand, a specific product, or a company is easily recognized by customers. Brand awareness may be old news, but the Internet has taken the concept to new heights, becoming far more measurable and quantifiable as part of an overall marketing strategy.

There are many examples of successful brand awareness implementation. It has always been primarily produced by effective advertising. The most dramatically successful advertising campaign is the one where your product becomes synonymous with the product category. For many years now, a facial tissue has been called a Kleenex regardless of what actual brand was used. This is the same result we see when some people refer to any sport-utility vehicle as a Jeep and any cola drink as a Coke.

The objective in advertising or any brand awareness marketing endeavor is not simply to get your product name or image in front of the consumer. It is to get the image into the mind of that consumer, so when the buying customer wants a product, he or she wants your product before that of any competitors. Repetitious advertising creates a memory trace that remains and is reinforced with every additional occurrence. Think of mayonnaise, hot dogs, ketchup, beer, and coffee. The odds are pretty good that in each case you thought of a specific brand. It is no coincidence that the biggest selling brands are also among those most heavily advertised in various media.

While a successful advertising campaign can create solid brand awareness, a limiting or cessation of advertising can erase the gains in a remarkably short time. Forty years ago, a steel wool soap pad was known as a Brillo Pad. Today, SOS brand is the big seller. Brillo sometimes doesn’t even get any shelf space, and we must ask when was the last time you saw an ad for Brillo scouring pads? The manufacturer failed to maintain the brand awareness level they had established. A massive advertising campaign by the manufacturers of SOS soap pads was the driving force that changed the landscape.

Advertising remains key to this process, and today the most critical medium for reaching the customer is the Internet. No other medium offers such widespread advantages in both reach and monitoring capacity. With the Internet, you can track how many times your ad has been viewed and how many times it has been clicked on.

Furthermore, social media and blogging have opened up new avenues for tracking your brand’s impact. Programs exist that can tell you how many times your brand has been searched for by a search engine. Others can reveal how many times it has been mentioned in a blog anywhere on the World Wide Web. These "mentions" can be even more critical to brand awareness than page views or clicks because each one may represent an impartial testimony to your product. Even negative discussion tends to reinforce brand awareness. The old saying applies: There is no such thing as bad publicity.

Establish it, reinforce it, and nurture it. Brand awareness can make the difference for you in becoming another brand like Kleenex.

From Puce to Cerulean – What Your Brand Colors Say to Your Customers

3 Feb

Do you ever wonder why so many fast food restaurants use red in their logos? Or why so many hospitals and healthcare organizations use the color blue in their logos? This phenomenon is hardly random. Psychologists have spent years studying colors’ effect on human behavior, and you can be sure that the results are worth understanding when you’re choosing your brand’s colors.

Hungry Anyone?
Besides being associated with love, energy, and vitality, the color red stimulates our appetites. It’s no wonder fast food chains such as McDonalds, Carl’s Jr., KFC, Wendy’s and Popeye’s have integrated the color red prominently in their logos and trade dress. If you’re developing a logo and brand identity for your restaurant, food or beverage products, incorporating red may not be a bad idea. Caveat: Remember when your parents would ask you, "If Jimmy jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?" I know, some of you said yes, just to be obstinate, but don’t doom your product to a lifetime lost in a sea of sameness just because the research says it’ll make people hungry.

Starbucks founders Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker clearly didn’t follow Jimmy off the cliff when they created their iconic green and white logo. Their caffeinated clientele aren’t looking for any more stimulation beyond that which is provided by the aroma of ground coffee beans in the air. What they are looking for, and what the color green represents, is harmony, tranquility, and calm. The founders’ goal was to create an environment that would encourage people to sit back, relax and drink their coffee with friends. By luring customers in with the green and white siren and surrounding them with warm, natural tones, they created a movement.

Trust Issues Anyone?
Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, AT&T, Forbes, Ford and countless other corporations all use the color blue predominantly in their brand identities. It’s not just because blue is hands-down the favorite color of the majority of men and women, but rather, blue is associated with calmness and peace. Psychologists have found that when people view the color blue, they feel confident, comfortable and trusting. Of course, healthcare providers, purveyors of information, and one of the oldest car manufacturers in the history of man would want people to associate their products and services with trustworthiness and dependability.

Plucking Personality from the Rainbow
The colors that you choose for your brand need to reflect not only your product’s personality but also the personality of those you wish will buy your product. You want them to feel a certain way when they think about your product, and while not all colors will universally affect everyone in the same way, statistically speaking the odds are ever in your favor. With that said, here are some handy guidelines to understanding color when picking your brand colors.

o Yellow – evokes feelings of optimism, clarity and warmth
o Orange – brings up feelings of cheer, confidence, and friendliness
o Red – arouses the senses with excitement, passion, and love
o Purple – imagination and creativity are the hallmarks of this color
o Blue – tells a story of trust, strength, dependability, and calm
o Green – associated with health, nature and peace
o White – linked to purity, calm and balance

Additionally, colors like gold, silver and black are often associated with luxury items because they conjure feelings of sophistication and wealth.

Remember, always keep your audience in mind when choosing your colors and avoid getting caught in the sea of sameness.