Archive for the ‘Marketing & Sales’ Category

Should an M&A Outreach be Done by the Client or by Outside Professionals?

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Very often a client has identified 7 to 10 potential companies that they wish to reach out to for prospective acquisitions. Usually they are competitors or companies that a vendor has identified as possibly being up for sale. I tell my clients that they are much better off having an independent third party do the Outreach Program for them. Competitors are very uneasy about sharing information and usually do not want their competition to know that they might consider a sale. The independent can ascertain whether a company would consider an acquisition without identifying the client. A Non-Disclosure Agreement can be put in place that very often mitigates the prospects concerns. After this has been accomplished, the third party has usually developed a relationship with the candidate, who then is more likely to open up.

In addition, I strongly recommend that the client not limit the Outreach Program to just the 7 or 10 they have identified. They should work with the independent to develop a profile and then have the independent review their data base to determine who else might fit the client’s needs. The odds for success are much greater as you increase the number of potential candidates.

How to Execute a Strong Integrated Marketing Campaign

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Executing a strong integrated marketing campaign for any business or brand is essential when trying to grow an entity or expand its overall reach. Knowing how to properly craft marketing campaigns to reach specific a specific audience is a way to successfully advertise your business, brand, or message to any set demographic you have in mind. Utilizing a few tips prior to launching your next marketing campaign is a way to ensure you are maximizing reach and exposure for your brand.

Create an Image and Voice for Your Brand

Creating an image and voice for your brand is essential to properly convey any message you want to share with potential customers or clients. Choose a logo, color scheme, and mission statement that is most fitting for the business you are trying to promote. Use magazines, online communities, and other well-known brands to spark inspiration to modernize any business or brand you are building.

Select Ideal Marketing Channels

Selecting ideal marketing channels for a demographic you want to reach is also imperative. You can advertise locally with newspapers, magazines, and newsletters, or maybe you prefer alternative online advertising channels. Online marketing ranges from PPC (pay per click) campaigns to third-party advertising services, direct advertising, and social media.

Keywords and the Importance of SEO

Implementing specific keywords into the content and headers of your website and blog is necessary to improve search engine rankings and results within search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Select keywords that are most relevant and trending in your market to boost page ranking with each new update or marketing campaign you launch.

Cross-Promotion Using Multiple Advertising Platforms

Using multiple advertising platforms is one of the most effective methods of growing a brand, regardless of whether you are promoting a local shop or an international online eCommerce store. Using social media, local advertising, third-party ad systems online, and affiliate marketing is not only a way to share more about your brand, but it is also a way to make a name for yourself in your designated industry and field.

Having an understanding of how to use various advertising channels to run a successful marketing campaign is a way to reach any audience or demographic, regardless of the industry you are working in or representing. With the ability to successfully promote a brand, image, message, or product, it is much easier to maintain a professional image and positive reputation in your line of business.

Rise in Omni-Channel Shopping- What Printers Need to Do?

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Printers are used to thinking of themselves as (at least in times gone by) as craft-based manufacturers. The rise of the information age coupled with mobile commerce has meant that printers are quickly moving to embrace web-to-print and e-commerce. Printers should also consider a team, perhaps a wholly separate team, thinking like retailers. So read this article from that retail perspective and note that omni-channel shoppers AKS “Gold Standard Consumers” buy more when they “See More” channel options:

According to a recent study by IDC Retail Insights, omni-channel shoppers have become the gold standard consumers. A multichannel shopper will be spending on an average 15 to 30 percent more than a consumer who uses only one channel. However, in case of omni-channel shoppers, the spending is more than 20 percent than that of multichannel shoppers.

Store sales which come from online customer research are around four times more than the total ecommerce sales. This implies that retailers should provide a complete package in the form of a united multi channel shopping experience to the consumers. If they fail to do so, they might risk the loyalty of the consumers and have a negative impact on the overall sales.

Print fueled AR drives mobile commerce and provides reach to  multichannel shopper.

Got Mail? How to Boost Your Mailing Revenue

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

As a mailing house, you provide at time-saving service for your clients that makes their business run that much more smoothly. But, no business should rest on its laurels, so it’s always a good idea to turn your thoughts to what you can do to make your business that much more successful and see some great results in terms of increasing profits.

The key to kicking your revenue into high gear is to take a two-pronged approach: streamline your service to provide the best service you can in the most efficient way, and look at what you offer your clients to see how you could help them and increase your profits at the same time. Follow these steps to increase your profits as 2014 is wrapping up and you prepare for the new year.

  • Streamline Your Service
  • Expand What You Offer
  • Let Your Customers Know Why They Should Choose You

To see these steps further explained and learn how you can increase your sales, download, Got Mail? How to Boost Your Mailing Revenue.

Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilink.me/GotMail. Do you have any other tips for boosting your mailing revenue? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Revamp Your Sales Model

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Your business ebbs and flows. Good months followed by an ‘OK’ or a not so good month. How do these results compare to your plan, what’s working and where is either the plan or the execution falling short. We could be talking about a few of your reps or the entire business.

Too often the plan has not been thought out as well as you’d like it to be and the story is that the outside environment-the clients, the competitors, the ‘markets’ aren’t playing nice or playing fair. Well, that’s the norm for today. Nothing is fair and logic is not what it used to be. Maybe it’s time to revamp the sales model. We see company’s overcoming these obstacles by doing a few things differently.

  • They have gotten closer to their clients and have a better understanding of their updated buying processes. This has enabled them to modify their sales model and increase their sales effectiveness.
  • They have achieved buy-in from their sales department, their senior management team and all client-facing staff to the plan, the company’s plan.
  • They have targeted growth opportunities in vertical markets that they can repeat their sales process to effectively communicate, build trust, present real-world business solutions and earn business from these new clients.
  • They’ve incorporated a suite of metrics to measure and report their successes in achieving the sales goals their going after.
  • Accountability. No plan is perfect, right? When they see elements of their plan not generating the results they need they are not hesitant to tweak the plan and make adjustments (sooner rather than later).

While no plan will cover all the moving parts of an industry that is transforming, without one it becomes increasingly difficult to adapt both the sales effort and the business to opportunities in the marketplace.

Thoughts on QR Codes Designers Need to Hear

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

I recently posted a response to a discussion that is raging in one of the LinkedIn graphic designer discussion groups about QR Codes. I might more accurately describe it as a bash session. There were a handful of posts in support of QR Codes, but most of those were mine.

Designers were railing against QR Codes because they are deemed to be ugly, they disrupt the beauty of their designs, and there are newer, more innovative technologies available.

One of the designers was particularly certain about his position on QR Codes because he had recently graduated from design school. Here is his comment, followed by mine. Please chime in with your own thoughts.

Designer: As someone who just recently graduated from college with a degree in the media field, I can confirm that QR Codes are dead. It is sort of like still having an aol.com email address — just shows that you aren’t keep up with the current trends in technology. We kind of snicker at those people still trying to use them.

Me: Good marketing isn’t about design only. It’s about creating marketing pieces, whether online or print, that achieve the marketing goal. Part of achieving a goal is generating response, and when it comes to generating response, smart, results-oriented marketers use multiple response mechanisms because they know that not everyone wants to respond the same way. One of the ways certain people respond (not all, but certain ones) is QR Code.

I can vouch for the fact that there are plenty of marketing communications that I would not have responded to if it hadn’t been for the QR Code.

I would love to know what percent of people actually use 800 numbers anymore. Yet no one questions their value. People love to kick around QR Codes, but I see them everywhere, I see their use becoming more focused on end user functionality.

Are there more sophisticated technologies out there? NFC, for example? Of course, but they require a lot more capital investment than QR Codes. They are more expensive to produce. They require more third-party coordination, supplier vetting, experimentation, design, and testing. The sales cycle is longer, and so on. No every marketer can afford that. MOST marketers cannot afford that. Consequently, technologies like NFC, AR, etc., while offering definitely value for certain applications, are accessible only by a limited number of marketers.

By contrast, QR Codes are free to produce and add to print pieces, and with the number of websites automatically optimizing pages for mobile, the barrier to entry is low. QR Codes are a reasonable, practical option for the broad base of marketers.

As a designer, your goal should be to produce the most results for your clients, not restrict their options because you, personally, don’t care for them.

Designers can scorn QR Codes all they want, but here are a few facts to remember:

  • It’s not about what YOU like, it’s about what achieves the end result for the marketer.
  • Your CLIENTS don’t care whether there is an “ugly box” on the marketing collateral, direct mail piece, or packaging. They want results, and those marketers pay your salary.
  • Digital snobbery doesn’t produce results. Smart marketing focused on the ultimate user of the product does.

When QR Codes stop producing results, I’ll ditch them. But from the case studies I read, from the marketing surveys I am up to my eyeballs in, and from my own experience, QR Codes serve a practical, functional purpose. For the right audience, they draw more eyeballs than the marketer would otherwise get without them, and marketers are getting better at using them every day.

This is spoken by someone who has watched this industry for 20 years. Things don’t become so snobbish and black-and-white when you’ve been around for awhile.

By the way, I’ve had an AOL address for 20+ years. I keep it because I like the interface and because everyone in the industry has my email address, even from 20 years ago. I’m practical that way. It works for me, and for someone who cares about results, that’s what matters.

The same should go for designers and QR Codes. When people snicker at them, it suggests to me that they 1) don’t really understand when and how to use them; or 2) are more focused on their own preferences than on the true, grassroots functionality for their clients and the people who would be using them.

It’s More Than Just Price: Webinar Review On How To Position Your Service Value

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

At the end of the day, price is the elephant in the room. On the business front, it traditionally carries the most weight in any Leadership Team’s decision-making process. We know the budget-savvy CEO will ask herself: why pay extra for a service when it’s offered half price elsewhere? This tends to be the case in many business transactions.

However, other points of value have increasingly entered the conversation: turnaround reliability, industry specific knowledge, creative innovation, etc. If a service provider is able to effectively communicate their multiple points of value, chances are that budget-savvy CEO will pay a little more for the higher quality service. The webinar “Transforming Price into Value for Your Service,” hosted by InfoTrends’ Barb Pellow and sponsored by Canon Solutions America, breaks down how service providers create meaningful conversations in order to achieve long term partnerships with clients. John Smilanich, National Sales Director at First Edge Solutions, expands on Pellow’s overview with concrete examples on how his company has solidified their position as a partner versus vendor. The webinar covers topics including: what buyers want, price versus value delivered, the evolving definition of ‘value’, and how to communicate that value.

Specifically, I found the section on the differences between ‘vendors’ and ‘partners’ to be quite helpful in understanding how to position one’s business goals to a client. As outlined, vendors promote or exchange goods and services for money; however, partners go a step further to participate in a relationship in which each member has equal status regarding a project. Vendors have customers; partners have clients. Vendors provide data, but partners take their provided data and interpret it, analyze it, and make recommendations. Vendors take orders and make sales, where as partners work to build mutually beneficial relationships and to determine why their clients want what they ask for.

Once the service provider has determined what role they want to play, i.e. vendor or partner, it is important to present additional components of value to the service already requested. Helping the client understand these additions in real dollar value can only strengthen the service provider’s position against a competitor’s. As Barb highlights: “Value is now associated with setting up the business model. You now help set up project data bases, manage campaigns, and help execute or market the campaign.” To accomplish this, John suggests to “make it as individual as possible.” By defining your buyers and by defining your niche, you create a knowledge base that down the road surpasses the weighted value of ‘price’.

Not only were Barb and John’s tips helpful in breaking down the price barrier, but their examples, case study references, and self-assessment questions offer tremendous insight on how to increase value proposition. If you’re looking to broaden your communication skills and positioning insight, this is a must see!

 

Transforming Price into Value for Your Services from Canon Solutions America on Vimeo.

Which Is at Fault? Lack of Education? Or Lack of Willingness?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Why aren’t we seeing more 1:1 printing in the marketplace? Why isn’t “everyone doing it”? Is it because there is a lack of marketer education? Or is it a lack of willingness to do what it takes to make 1:1 printing work (i.e. willingness to continue to do things “the way we’ve always done” because it’s easier than investing in databases, profiling, and the like)?

Along these lines, here is a comment I received by email this morning. Do you agree with this assessment? Or do you see other reasons for why we aren’t seeing widespread adoption of 1:1 top to bottom?

there is a crying need to get the concept of MODERN variable data work to the printing public.  We continually find people exhibiting the mindset of 15 or 20 years ago.  The thought that every single page printed might be decidedly different is beyond comprehension to many.  Think of an advertising mail piece for say, insurance.  Each piece printed would be sensitive to gender, age, profession, city and state (re such things as disclaimers), family status and type(s) of insurance for which information may have been requested.  I could go on and on –  old age = larger font size for example, colors chosen by age, gender and nationality (think of color of flags).

From this person’s perspective, it remains a lack of education about the possibilities. What’s your perspective?

Just Call Me Poi . . . or Not

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

It’s happened again. A title has been converted into a name in data oblivion and sent as part of a personalized mailing.

This example is taken from a business mailing to my home addressed to “Poi LLC.” The assumption is that “Poi” stands for Person of Interest, converted into sentence case the same way my father-in-law’s suffix USMC has been converted to his last name: Mr. Usmc.

What’s odd is that this is a residential neighborhood, so you would assume that since the mailer is addressed to a business, the marketer knows that unlike my neighbors, I’m registered as a business. But if they know that, they should also know my business’s name isn’t Poi.

What’s unfortunate is that, like one of the last butchered direct mail campaigns I have received, it is coming from a company that ought to know better: American Express. It’s marketing gold cards. The last butchered mailings I’ve written about have come from Geico and Weis Markets, a large regional grocery store chain (that one was addressed to my husband’s ex-wife, who has never lived at that address . . . or even in the state).

We read the survey results, but when we look in our mailboxes, we see it in person. The state of data is often dreadful. Marketers ought to know better, and I suppose they do. But data cleanliness seems to be a luxury they don’t want to bother to afford. They’d rather trust in volume. Let the embarrassments slip as long as they do better than break even.

When your customers seem content to let volume override data errors, what do YOU do? How do you try to break through the malaise and get them to take their data management seriously? I’d like to hear your ideas.

More Cool Stuff to Do with Print

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Here’s another great use of print to do something digital technologies cannot do.

The product is called SwivelCard (view TechCrunch video), and while it’s not available commercially yet, it’s been  promoted by TechCrunch and is currently using crowdsourcing to improve back-end software to be more user-friendly.

SwivelCardThe card uses a combination of patented, digitally printed metallic ink onto a business card to create a paper-based USB. Add some strategic scoring and key portions of the business card can be folded to insert into a USB port and used as a USB card.

Each card can be individually programmed so each user is taken to a different webpage. Or they can be programmed all the same. Either way, the user will  be taken to a webpage of the marketer’s choosing, and like the back end of the QR Code experience, that page can be changed at any time, even after the card has been given out.

Detailed analytics on usage can be accessed so marketers know who is using their cards and where. While I haven’t used one of these cards, it appears to be something like Google Analytics.

This is another neat use of print that cannot be duplicated by electronic media. Business is often personal. You meet for lunch. You shake a hand. You attend a demonstration. There is something powerful about the personal connection of a business card that cannot be duplicated with, “I’ll send you a text this afternoon.” These cards provide the personal connection with the online / mobile interface and usage analytics.

I just love the continued innovation in the uses of print. Keep ‘em coming!

Car Dealership Almost Gets 1:1 Printing Right: Part 2

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

A few days ago, I posted about my local car dealership and how, while they must be commended for regularly using their knowledge of my relationship with the dealership, along with their knowledge of the make and model of my SUV, they keep falling short of what they could be doing. I want to add several more observations to that post.Equinox

1. The dealership knows my name, the make, and model of the SUV. They used it in the body of the letter. Yet in the upper righthand corner in red, all-cap text — probably the most valuable real estate in the piece — it simply said, “We want to buy your Buick GMC Cadillac.”

That wording, placed in the most visible location in the letter, has no relevance to me whatsoever. I don’t think of my vehicle as a “Buick GMC Cadillac.” It’s a shame because they’ve already personalized the make and model of my vehicle in the body of the letter. Why didn’t they do it here?

2. In addition to the personalization in the body of the letter, the mailing does contain one additional element of personalization: It’s on the bottom left (very, very bottom) on the fourth panel of the 8 ½ x 17 letter. “Heidi, we are interested in buying your 2005 Chevrolet Equinox!” It’s completely out of sight. In black like the rest of the letter. Sentence case. Completely overlookable.

3. We recently moved, and they have my updated address, but they are using my old name from a previous marriage. Ouch!

Oh, and the “promotion ends 8/30/2014” is in incredibly small type — one size up from the disclaimer text at the bottom of the letter.

While printers are not necessarily responsible for the content of the marketing message, these are very simple, basic elements that anyone can check. Before the file is run, take a look at the layout. Look at the variable fields. Scan the copy. Look at the most important static and variable elements. Look at the call to action. Are there very obvious tweaks that the customer can make to improve the effectiveness of the piece?

This is the type of value that great marketing partners provide . . . even if they are not asked to do so.

 

Car Dealership Almost Gets 1:1 Right

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

One of the only places from which I get personalized direct mail is the auto dealership that occasionally services our SUV. I received another personalized piece this past week, and while I think they continue to do a better-than-static job of things, I continue to see omissions that could make the difference between us buying something and not.

In this most recent mailing, the dealership offered to buy our SUV. I assume they know that around this age of vehicle (nine years old), auto owners start looking to get out of something with higher mileage and into something new. We are, in fact, starting to actively look.

We want to acquire several 2005 Chevrolet Equinoxes this year to meet increasing market demand. There is value in your vehicle! Let’s discuss this.

It’s a good start. They know my name, the make, model, and year of my vehicle, and offered to buy it at around the right time. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it went.

Here’s where they missed the big opportunity and where you, as a service provider, can be looking to add value.

You don’t generally sell a vehicle without purchasing something else. The dealership missed the opportunity to layer on readily available demographic data that could have made a huge difference. By knowing my husband’s age and mine, and by knowing that we still have several children under the age of 18 in the home, they would have learned that we fit squarely into a key demographic group of consumers who are likely looking to trade the smaller compact SUV for something larger and more utilitarian. Knowing this, the dealership might have suggested that we trade in our vehicle for [make, model] of larger, specific, currently available SUVs and minivans they have on the lot right now.

The opportunity whoever handles the print work for this dealership is twofold:

  • creation of basic customer personas (young, unmarrieds; older marrieds without children; young marrieds with children; older marrieds with children; empty-nesters; retirees); and
  • data appends could help determine which persona our family (and other customers for whom they have a service history) fits into.

Gathering this information is not expensive. It just takes the time, commitment, and marketing savvy to do it. Are you helping your customers move into more relevant personalization?

Social Media Tipping Point

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

For years, industry experts have proclaimed that the time will come when social media marketing is as effective as traditional marketing. Some are suggesting that the release of a very successful new album using only social media may provide a blueprint of future marketing successes and act as a tipping point.

Late last year, Beyoncé released her latest album, Drunk in Love, not with a flood of radio and TV spots, but instead using social media. It was a complete surprise and an overwhelming success. According to Apple, Beyoncé’s surprise album was the fastest-selling album in iTunes history, reaching No. 1 in the sales rankings in 104 countries. The album sold 828,777 copies in first three days, including 617,213 in the United States.

Admittedly few advertising campaigns will generate the interest of a music superstar like Beyoncé, but the question becomes is this a tipping point and if it is how can you take advantage of this tipping point. Clearly, the first step is to understand who uses social media.

Here is a short primer on the demographics of users from businessto2community.com:

  • 72% of all Internet users are active social media visitors
  • 89% are between the ages of 18 and 29
  • 72% are between 30 and 49
  • 60% are between the ages of 50 and 60
  • 43% are 65 or older
  • 71% access social media from mobile devices

The second step is understanding the benefits of using specific sites for specific services. This information is from Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report:

  • Facebook users tend to “like” brands to learn about products and services (56%), keep up with brand-related activities (52%), and for promos (48%); some 32% interact with brands to provide feedback.
  • Twitter users follow brands mostly to keep up with brand activities (57%) and learn about products and services (47%); some 27% do so to provide feedback.
  • YouTube users engage with brands mostly to learn about products and services (61%), keep up with brand-related activities (41%), and provide feedback (23%).
  • Pinterest users follow brands primarily to learn about products and services (56%), keep up with brand activities (35%), and for sweepstakes/promos (28%).
  • Instagram users follow brands to keep up with brand-related activities (41%), learn more about products and services (39%), and make purchases (27%).

What do you think? Is the success of one music superstar a tipping point or simply another channel that can be used for successful marketing?

Create Long Term Success with Web-to-Print

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Web-to-print is a valuable tool in your toolkit when it comes to creating long term success for your printing business. Web-to-print solutions offer your customers outstanding flexibility, cost effectiveness, and control over their end product, making you their go-to solution for their printing needs.

So, what are you doing wrong?

Although web-to-print poses a great opportunity for your print business, it is not a case of “if you offer the solutions, the customers will come.” The key to success with web-to-print is understanding how it meets your customers’ needs and making sure they know that.

How can you communicate the value of your web-to-print services to your customers and in turn, create a successful future for your print business? Download our article, Create Long Term Success with Web-to-Print, to learn how you can effectively market your solutions to your customers.

Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/W2PSuccess. Do you have any tips and best practices for marketing your web-to-print services? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

1:1 Printing Isn’t a Fix-All

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Last week, I posted my nutshell summary of the state of 1:1 printing. My summary has solicited some reactions around the industry — some of them quite strong.

One printer represents many others when he writes,

Your summary of the past year may be valid in the digital info world in general, but absolutely off the mark regards the printing industry, 1:1, or any other voguish way you wish to call it. My experience, and those of all the printers I know, is that URL, VDP, and all this stuff about surveys and “long-term commitments,” is just so much fluff and smoke-and-mirrors. In the real, shrinking world of offset and digital print, what still counts are the traditional values of good design and cheap pricing. Case studies, white papers, etc., are all interesting to read, but far from the reality of what we do.

Reading through the lines, we hear that because they, XYZ Printing, can’t sell 1:1 printing, because their business is struggling and 1:1 printing has not proven to be the life raft to save them, it must be nothing but hype.

I hear lots of reasons my assessment of 1:1 printing is incorrect. Printers are losing business to in-house print shops. Their quick response and aggressive delivery no longer win clients. Their clients are returning to lowest cost bidder situations and they are losing business.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but what, exactly, does this have to do with the state of 1:1 printing?

Case studies tell us what printers and their clients are actually producing. By watching the types of campaigns that are actually being printed and mailed, we can watch this marketing approach evolve. By reading the market surveys and research studies on where marketers are spending their money, where they are placing their priorities, and how they are addressing their challenges (and what challenges they are addressing), we can watch the evolution of data-driven marketing, including print.

The state of 1:1 printing is exactly that — the state of 1:1 printing — not the state of the commercial printing industry in adopting 1:1 printing. “The state of” includes the types of campaigns produced, the level of complexity at which they are being produced, and the best practices being used by those who produce them. If an individual printer cannot print and sell 1:1 printing, even if they and every printer they know cannot sell 1:1 printing, this is not a reflection on “the state of” for those can and who can and do produce these campaigns on a regular basis.

1:1 printing isn’t the fix-all for the challenges facing the commercial printing industry. It’s just a solid, well-established marketing channel for those whose business models are set up to do so.