Archive for February, 2014

Are Postcards Still an Effective Marketing Tactic?

Outbound or Inbound?

A great deal of the debate among marketers today centers on the issue of inbound versus outbound marketing strategies. Of course, every progressive marketer is now fully aware of the advantages of successful inbound marketing techniques. This is the process whereby you the customer or prospect initiates the conversation with your company, as opposed to you trying to get their attention by traditional advertising or outbound processes.

The problem in this ongoing discussion is found in making the issue one of either-or. The reality is that a modern, cost-effective marketing strategy is almost always going to consist of carefully integrating both approaches. Certainly, the days of spending thousands of dollars a month on yellow page advertising are over for most companies. Likewise, simple mass mailings of unattractive direct mail pieces are probably useful in only a few circumstances today.

However, it is important to remember that today’s marketing message is all about the conversation. It’s great when the customer initiates that process, but it’s up to the company to make it a truly two-way and productive conversation. While you can respond with an email (and many fail to even do this), there are many traditional ways to follow up with prospects and clients that are cost-effective and relevant. According to a recent article in Agency Access, postcards are one of the most effective and affordable means of keeping that conversation going.

There are several reasons that postcards remain popular with creative marketers. At the heart of these are the capabilities of modern printing. Stunningly attractive postcards can be personalized and printed in small quantities to address any number of special needs for communications. Modern web-to-print services even provide full addressing and mailing services. These nifty items affordably and professionally announce a special event, send an automated reminder, or blanket a neighborhood with news of a grand opening.

Postcards may seem old school to some, but to many savvy marketers they’ve graduated to a new and powerful marketing tool that leverages inbound marketing success.

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Effectively Use Web-to-Print

The Power of Digital Printing

Printing and attractive collateral items have always been an integral part of any effective marketing strategy. For decades, smaller businesses were limited in their options for printing by cost and quantity issues. Today, however, the world of printing provides any business, large or small, the opportunity to produce affordable materials of the highest quality.

This new availability is actually reshaping the expectations of many customers, both B2B and B2C. With the rise in the importance of branding and overall market image, companies are expected to show their commitment to excellence by using advertising and printing that takes advantage of modern technologies. For example, any company can now have a professional logo created and consistently rendered in all types of printed material and advertising.

Digital and Online

Graphic designers working with printers are given the ability to create stunning marketing materials without the need for traditional advertising firm services. These items can be easily and affordably designed, modified and printed by web-based print services in an as-needed environment.

What this means to your as a marketer is that you are able to easily modify a standard piece with a short run for a trade show or special event. You get consistent quality and branding and rapid turnaround on jobs that don’t cost a fortune. Instead of investing in a large quantity of one brochure every year or so, you’re able to freshen your message and add relevant information for specific events as often as you desire.

Your customers often evaluate your company by the execution of your marketing materials. Even small companies can now stand up against their largest competitors with materials that are available through a web-to-print strategy. Give your brand the attention it deserves and take the time to professionally position your products and services with the right printed materials and web-to-print services.

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Analyzing Your Corporate Social Media Efforts

Analyzing your corporate social media efforts can be a Catch-22. No matter what avenue you use to advance your company’s social presence, quality content is your vehicle. But you cannot design content if you don’t know where your customer is. If you’re posting on Facebook while your customers are on Linked-in, you’re preaching to an empty church. Therefore, the first step in analyzing your corporate social media efforts is knowing your potential customers’ social media haunts.

Where are they? There are several ways to determine if your social messages are taking root. The personal route – make it company policy to ask customers how they learned about you; or the virtual route – use Google Analytics, Clicky, or GoSquared for metrics showing which social media sites are sending the most visitors to your landing pages.

Why are they there? Once you know where your buyers are, you need to know why. Are they seeking information? Entertainment? Do they want to see pictures? Videos? Well then, entertain, inform, snap photos, run video. Grab their attention.

How do you get their attention?. Does your content stand out? After all, no matter how creative or informative your message, no one will get it if it fails to grab their attention. Remember you’re not the only company turning to social media. There’s a lot of competition, and the prize is your customer. Which brings us back to where we started.

Is your content worthy of their attentions? Content is too important to your brand to take a chance on it. Have you assigned the creation of quality content to a competent person or group to take ownership of posting YouTube Videos, Facebook posts, LinkedIn Discussions, Twitter attachments, if not daily, on a defined regular basis?

Remember social media never sleeps. Regular posts attest to the fact that you’re a legitimate company with expertise in your field.

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The State of the Print Industry – A Quick Recap

The recession that seems to be getting better but for which many companies are still recovering and/or feeling the effects, impacted the printing industry in numerous ways. Conventional manufacturers, for example, have taken the biggest hit as printers took many steps to try and conserve cash and are now trying to revitalize their businesses. Typically, as noted by the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), when the economy recovers, demand for print grows and the industry returns to normal. However, that is no longer the case as companies cannot simply sit back and expect recovery to simply happen.

Those in the printing industry must fully participate in the recovery, value their clients, put an emphasis on competitiveness, and, more importantly, build productivity. This is how the industry will not only survive but thrive in today’s economy. Also, there is now a shift in the industry to digital technology, such as inkjet. The addition of workflow automation and web-to-print becoming increasingly utilized in the printing industry, those companies that don’t adapt or outright ignore change are likely to fall behind.

One of the standards in the industry that will keep traditional printers afloat will be the fact that physical print boasts a security and virus-free nature. Nevertheless, a change toward catering to the client on an individual basis is really the trend that is driving the current industry. Clients now expect streamlined workflow, personalization, and very high quality, especially in light of the incredibly media-rich world.

According to the NAPL printing establishment categories, smaller operations rule the industry with more than 70 percent having 10 or fewer employees. Yet, nearly half of all industry sales come from companies with 100 or more employees. The result: Small companies focus on personalization while large companies focus on bulk printing.

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Tricks for Powerful Printed Materials

The real trick when it comes to creating powerful printed material is that it’s not a trick. Not really. There is a bit of a formula to it, though. Once you master this simple formula you’ll be able to create printed material that gets read time and time again. That’s where the real power comes in.

Make it Visually Appealing

Printed material, especially if you’re creating bulletins, brochures, and posters that are supposed to catch the eye of readers, needs to be visually pleasing to the eye. It’s as simple as that. Don’t use bright colors that are difficult to read. Keep it plain and simple and keep the letters big enough (and the font neat enough) that people have no trouble reading what you have to say.

Deliver a Message that Matters

Another important factor for powerful printed material is that it needs to be a message that matters. You need to know who your audience is and make sure you’re delivering a message that’s meaningful and relevant to them. Your audience must come first if you don’t want the message to fall on deaf ears. Make the message matter to your audience and they will be far more receptive to it.

Don’t Bury the Lead

In many cases, people recommend that you wait to the end of the message to make your point. The problem is that audiences have gotten spoiled by the Internet. If they don’t find value in the information quickly, they’re going to miss the point you’re trying to make. Lead with the important information and use the remaining page space to add flavor or lend credibility to the meat and potatoes portion you lead with.

Simple things are the true tricks to creating powerful printed material in the digital age. So many other people are going overboard with printing tactics and techniques and have forgotten the importance of the message above all else.

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Connecting Your Direct Mail Piece with Social Media

One fact that everyone can be sure of in today’s society, regardless of the industry they’re in, is that social media is here to stay. About 20 percent of women who are online use Pinterest, 100,000 tweets are sent per minute, and over 1 billion users are registered on Facebook. Now, it’s time to mix the old with the new to create a truly successful marketing campaign.

By combining your direct mail piece with social media, you get a high conversion rate and ROI as well as the addition of more qualified leads, increased traffic to your website and social media sites, and overall added exposure to your business. Plus, you’ll also learn a little more about your customers.

There are a few ways to combine social media and direct mail initiatives.

Add a call-to-action: Many companies are already in the practice of this, but offering incentives like discounts or coupons by simply “liking” your Facebook page can pay off big. It also allows potential customers to see that you want to build a real relationship with them.

Include a QR code: Including a QR code that links people to your YouTube videos or your Facebook page, or any other social media site means instant connection.

Social badges: An easy task but one that’s critical is to add badges to all of the social media sites you are on such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. The only way they’ll know you’re on those sites is if you show them.

By offering quality content via social media, you can improve your relationships with potential customers. An added base of people with whom you can share updates, news, and special deals includes a pool of interested, engaged customers and prospects. The opportunities of pairing direct mail with social media are endless.

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Marketing on a Budget

When you are marketing on a budget, you can’t afford to waste money on instances that are not essential. There are a few marketing tips that you can use when you are marketing on a budget.

1. Crafting a Great Pitch

In order to craft a great pitch, you need to do a little bit of research. Research shows that the average adult has an attention span of about 6 to 8 seconds. You need to create an awesome pitch within this little bit of time to keep them interested. It is a tricky task, but it is not as difficult as it may seem. In order to keep their attention, make sure that your entire pitch is not over one minute and a few seconds. Another thing that you can do to keep them engaged in your pitch is ask questions.

2. Thinking Locally

A lot of people are under the impression that they have to spend thousands of dollars to create thousands of marking efforts. The good news in this instance is that you don’t have to spend millions. All you have to do is look at the events that are taking place within your community. Thinking locally is one of the best techniques to use when you are marketing on a budget. Sponsoring will take you further than you may think. For starters, it will be a good idea to sponsor a little league team or your local library.

3. Being Able to Collaborate

Although you may be an individual that enjoys completing projects on your own, take the time to collaborate here and there once in a while. In this instance, you can creat a business within your area that is non-competitive. Set certain rules that everyone agrees on and cross-promote each other.

These three tips will help you kick start your marketing efforts when you are on a budget. These marketing tips are inexpensive and will open doors to thousands of other marketing opportunities.

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5 Tips for Digitally Printed Materials

Thanks to the progression of computer technology, digitally printed materials have far surpassed the use of traditional printing techniques. Whereas pre-computer days meant that printing involved messy powders and time consuming paper printing methods, today you can print on a variety of mediums. Digital printing provides the tools to print on practically any surface ranging from walls to T-shirts to mesh. However, with this form of printing you should consider ways to make this technique work to your advantage.

  1. A simple image is important for viewers. For example, a logo with a highly detailed graphic filled with 10 different colors and shadowing is going to be difficult to identify from a distance, such as via a billboard or wall image.
  2. Digital photos may not stretch into a large scale without becoming blurry or grainy. Consider this when taking photos to be used on your digitally printed materials. Opt to use the finest resolution possible, as well as a high quality camera with a zoom feature.
  3. You can print on a wide variety of surfaces including flooring, canvas, plastic, 3M ControlTac™ and glass. Keep this in mind when you are selecting a printing process. Sometimes you can have an idea about where and how to share your marketing message that goes beyond the basic print on paper.
  4. Skimp on spending somewhere other than your digital printing needs. A poorly printed sign or the use of a cheap surface will translate into poor execution of an idea, as well as a spendthrift business. Show potential clients that you will do whatever it takes to win their business, which includes spending what is necessary to print high-quality marketing tools.
  5. Once you decide on a logo or business slogan, stick with that graphic or phrase throughout all of your printed materials. Whether you are printing flyers for an upcoming sale or you are printing copies of your newsletter to distribute to clients, your logo should always be included in the prints.

Maintain a professional manner by choosing digitally printed materials for your business’s needs. By making the most of this technique, you are more likely to benefit in the long term.

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