Archive for the ‘Marketing & Sales’ Category

Avoid These 10 Marketing Traps

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Is marketing your friend or your foe? From printed collateral to social media, each of your marketing materials are your representatives, telling your brand’s story and making first impressions on your behalf. If you want to get loyalty, raise your profile, and make the sale, it’s vital that your marketing is the best it can be. Here are 10 marketing mistakes you need to avoid.

  1. Fuzzy messages
  2. Self-importance
  3. Lack of a plan
  4. Missing calls to action

To see these mistakes further explained, actionable solutions for each one, and the other 6 common marketing mistakes, download our article, Avoid These 10 Marketing Traps.

There are many marketing mistakes out there – these are 10 common ones that I thought would be beneficial for you to learn more about. Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilink.me/10Traps. What other common marketing mistakes do you see often? I’d love to get a good list started below!

Great Infographic to Share with Clients

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Looking to convince clients that they need to make a greater investment in updating their databases? Here is a great infographic that makes the point in a powerful (but sometimes funny) way. The infographic relates to business data (such as changing address or phone numbers) more than it does consumers, but the point is made regardless.

For example,

  • In the 30 minutes you spent checking your mail, 127 companies changed phone numbers.
  • In the 25 minutes you spent commuting to work, 40 businesses changed locations.
  • In the 15 minutes you spent eating breakfast, 27 business changed names.

It also claims that bad data costs businesses $600 billion annually and up to 20% of revenue. It’s a great attention grabber . . . and a great excuse for your customers to let you help them update their marketing databases!

The infographic was created by Infogroup Targeting Solutions and shared by Marketing Profs.

Day Worth of Data

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 2

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By: Irving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In my post last week, I reviewed a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands”. Let’s consider how this article translates into the Printing Industry…

How can a company making printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others?

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Become comfortable with your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses – and be able to talk to your potential clients about them.  If a competitor’s equipment can generate 20-30% more copies per minute than yours, and costs the same, the client may argue that their equipment is more productive and you will lose the sale.  But if the client has post-printer finishing need that cannot be done in-line at the equipment’s rated speed the productivity premium may be eliminated.  In fact, using a “faster” print machine may create a total production time slower than your solution.
  • Understand your client’s entire workflow – See the example above.  Understanding what your client’s workflow is, from creation of a print product, through printing, finishing and even delivery, will allow you to build a solution that specifically meets your customer’s needs.  If your client is in no rush to create the booklets to send to its clients, there is no need to provide the fastest piece of print equipment.  If they need documents as quickly as possible, then identify where, in the current process (pre-print, print, finishing) there are the most problems and develop new solutions that meet the client time needs.
  • Have a solid implementation plan, and a fail-safe – Have a solid plan for equipment delivery, connection to print servers and networks, installation and testing.  If the solution is not working to the client’s expectations and requirements, have a fail-safe in place to ensure that the client’s bottom line is not negatively impacted due to your equipment or solutions issues.
  • Have training and mentoring solutions in place – We’ve all been in situations where we buy a piece of equipment or a product and then have to learn how to use it.  Using the Internet has made things a little easier, but, as an organization, do you want your customers to learn how to use your equipment by seeing what someone else does on the Internet?  Identify your client’s most important needs and requirements of the equipment and solutions you are providing and ensure they know how to use your equipment or solution to meet those needs.  Develop focus groups with other users so that they can share issues between themselves (with input from your organization) to develop new solutions they can all use.

The new world of sales is changing in this information-rich environment.  Be sure to use all of the tools your organization provides to provide your potential customers with all of the information they will need to buy your products, services and solutions.  Providing as much information as possible to your customers gives them the power they need to make decisions that meet or exceed their requirements at the most cost-effective price.

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

QR Code Fail at Sweet Frog? Or Was It Just Me?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I’ve written a lot on the subject of QR Code fails, along with best practices for designing and implementing these codes, so I thought I was on to another example when I scanned the QR Code on the loyalty card at Sweet Frog the other day.

I took out my phone (okay, who am I kidding? It was already in my hand), scanned the code, and nothing happened. I scanned again, making sure it was the proper distance for the camera to focus, and again nothing. Must be the low light, I reasoned. I moved the card underneath the overhead light and tried again. Still nothing.

I tried several different times at different angles, and in the end, I input my email address into the low-tech, most unmobile fingerpad device. As I walked to the table in defeat, I wondered if I would have done better to scan the QR Code on the wall poster instead. Was the code on the loyalty card too busy perhaps? Printed too small?

I realized this morning, no, it would not have done me any good because the problem was not the code. The problem was that I had not launched the scanning software on my phone first. I had simply pointed the camera at the code and expected it to scan.

I can laugh now (and I’m sure you’re laughing at me now, too), and I’ve just embarrassed myself publicly . . . but to make a point.

It would be great if mobile phone cameras activated automatically to scan barcodes without launching software first, and I’m sure that some day, they will. But QR Codes won’t live or die by people who don’t have the software or forget to use it. They will live or die by the value of what consumers receive on the back end. If the code doesn’t work or people don’t know how to use it, your clients should make sure they have another way to access the content.

Over time, non-QR-Code-scanning consumers will figure it out. Once technology has reached critical mass (as it has with QR Codes), people always do.

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 1

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

ByIrving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In February 2014, a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands” identified the reasons that consumers are starting to abandon their prior reliance on brand loyalty in purchasing products.  The use of online information to shop and compare items, and to listen to other purchasers on the pluses and minuses of products is now the way most customers buy products.

For established brands, this makes selling products at a premium price an increasingly difficult thing.  If you are selling a product that is superior to other producer’s products, then you may charge a premium price.  But performance numbers are quickly matched by other producers, and often there is a number of products that are so similar that it is difficult to identify them sitting side-by-side outside of their brand names.  Past performance is no longer a selling point for many consumers; what the product is and how it performs NOW is what is critical to the purchaser.  There are two situations where this isn’t true – when the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product or where the brand confers status (think Louis Vuitton).

For the consumer, the information age means they are making better buying choices (hopefully), and competition has improved quality and lowered prices. It also means that upstart companies find it easier to compete with established producers.  If you make a product that works well at a competitive price, you will quickly become the next Asus, Roku, Hyundai or Kia.  We have gone from stable consumer markets to tumultuous ones, but if you can make a great product, the world will beat a path to your door (or store website).

Let’s look at the sales situation that is a bit outside of this “new” sales paradigm – where the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product.  In the past, Coca Cola was a brand synonymous with this type of product.  Wherever you went around the world, if you purchased a Coca Cola, it would taste exactly the same and it would not make the consumer sick (because the water was pasteurized in the bottling process).  World travelers really built the Coca Cola brand, and as world economies improved citizens of the world had enough ready cash to buy one bottle of Coke.  Coca Cola has such a foothold in the US and other countries that they have increased market share in consumable beverages using their bottling companies if not their Coca Cola syrup to provide regional and local beverage favorites in every country they have a bottling plant.

So how can a company making copiers and printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others? Check back next week for a couple of solutions!

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

Keeping Twitter Interesting

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Customers, prospects, and experts in the print industry are having a business-boosting conversation. Do you want to join in? Of course you do, and that’s why you need to be on Twitter. But with millions of tweets being sent daily, how do you make sure yours stand out? Follow these top four tips to create compelling content in 140 characters or less.

  1. Develop a Strong Brand Presence. Your Twitter account is a representation of you and your business, so make sure it’s a good one. Customize your background by incorporating your logo and using your brand colors. Choose your profile picture carefully. If you use your logo, make sure it looks good at a small size. Or, if you’re representing a smaller business, you could opt for a clear full-face picture to make your account more personal.
  2. Keep Content Interesting and Varied. Twitter is a conversation, so be a good conversationalist. Instead of constant self-promotion, offer useful and interesting content – share some news, participate in trending topics, join in on popular hashtags, link to a free resource such as an eBook, add a video or picture. Focus on tweets that your customers will enjoy seeing – this will not only keep them interested, but give them a good reason to retweet your content, too. Compose your tweets carefully. Believe it or not, it is possible to waffle in 140 characters, so be sure to keep your tweets to the point.
  3. Encourage Engagement. At the risk of being obvious, if you want your followers to engage with you, encourage them to engage with you. Reach out to your followers by replying to or retweeting their posts. And don’t forget your call to action – whether that is “retweet this,” “let us know,” “drop us a line,” or any other way of encouraging your audience to take the action you want them to take. Use hashtags to start specific conversations. You could also try using Twitter to run a contest. You could use something simple such as “retweet to enter a prize draw,” but why not craft something that actively encourages engagement, such as asking entrants to answer a question, hunt for an answer on your site, or create something and tweet it to you. It will not only encourage interaction with your current audience, but it will also increase your overall exposure through sharing and engagement.
  4. Be Mindful of Twitter Etiquette. Just like in any conversation, good manners are a must when using Twitter. When you write a tweet, use good spelling and grammar. If someone mentions you in a particularly positive manner, consider using Twitter’s favorite function to acknowledge it. And never spam your followers with constant self-promotion or repetitive tweets. Treat Twitter like you would any other customer facing communication – reply to questions and comments, resolve conflicts, and rise above drama and negativity. If you would like some additional tips on how to handle complaints and negativity on your social channels, check out my article, Taming the Beast of Social Media Complaints.

Twitter is a rich and varied platform which fosters conversation. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it, and you’ll be a sparkling conversation starter.

More Data Follies: Who’s Minding the Store?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

My penchant for publishing direct mail and data bloopers continues to win me great stories to share here on Digital Nirvana. This one came in this morning and left me scratching my head. My question for readers is this: Do you have processes in place to catch these mistakes before they get mailed? Or are you content to play clean-up later?

Last fall an environmental organization sent us an annual renewal notice which we responded to with a check to extend our membership for another year.

Five months later, we got another “renewal” notice to which we responded to with another check, not remembering that we had already renewed our annual membership. For this double renewal, we received a complimentary, inexpensive hat.

Four weeks later, we received an offer for us to become members for the first time, this time offering multiple more valuable premiums, including several shopping bags, a calendar, and a children’s gift (we’re retired).

Needless to say, I was not happy. I contacted the organization, and they quickly responded, apologized, and are sending yet more complimentary items.

We’re not interested in free gifts. My complaint to the organization was that, first, they were not acknowledging that we had already responded to their renewal request—twice. Also, that we were being penalized for our prompt response to the first notice by not receiving the multiple and higher valued items as our “free gifts,” which makes me feel like we’re being played. (Did we have to send another contribution to receive these annual renewal gifts? Are we being leveraged to send even more  money, even though we’d already renewed twice?)

It’s frustrating on both counts. It alienates the donor and makes it very clear that a favorable response has not been recognized—as in, “We didn’t notice you, so we’re sending you another renewal notice . . . in case you didn’t notice either,”  or “We don’t care that you responded, we’d  just like to get as much out of you as we can,” or, “Our tracking system is so inefficient we can’t distinguish between those who do and those who do not respond to our overtures.”

If this were not an organization that we would support anyway (and it were it not a non-profit but a direct business relationship), the likelihood of their getting a favorable response the next time the mailer came is pretty much zero!

This reader’s tongue-in-cheek writing style is so funny that you might be tempted to think this is an April Fool’s joke, but it is not. Rather, it has has shades of my father-in-law, Lt. Col. John Walker, U.S.M.C. (Ret.), who is regularly receiving solicitations to John Usmc and Col. Ret.

You would never let this happen to your clients, right?

How to Boost Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and its importance is an extremely crucial part to your organization’s success. SEO means taking steps to make sure the search engines will like your site and rank it favorably. This has two key components:

  1. Relevant and high quality content
  2. Getting links back to your site

Learn more about SEO and how to improve your company’s online presence by downloading, Bring Your SEO to Life, free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at ilink.me/BoostSEO! Do you have any additional tips for improving SEO performance? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

 

Writing Better Blog Posts for the Printing Industry

Friday, March 7th, 2014

In terms of pure volume, I probably write more blog posts these days than anything else. New case studies and white papers may go up on printers’ websites every quarter or so, but blog content needs to be added on a continual basis. The challenge is, everybody needs blog content, but most companies are drawing from the same well.

We see the same blog topics over and over. What is personalized printing? What’s happening with postal rates? How to integrate social media into your marketing. How can you make your blog posts stand out? Why should someone come to your blog as opposed to someone else’s?

As much as you can, share your own expertise and experience.  There are hundreds of places for your clients to get general industry information. They don’t need to come to your blog to do it. What they should get from your blog is insight from your company in how to implement what they read about elsewhere and the unique and creative things your company is doing to capitalize on the trends.

For example, you can assume that your clients know what personalized printing is. So what particularly interesting campaign did you develop recently? You don’t have to divulge details. Genericize it. Did you recently solve a customer problem? How did you do it?

One of my favorite blog posts recently involved interviewing the printer’s designers. I wanted to know what mistakes in designing for 1:1 printing they regularly saw from their clients and how to avoid them. This was hypothetical, “same thing applies to everybody” post. It was real nuts and bolts, based on the designer’s daily experiences. That is information this printer’s clients aren’t going to get anywhere else.

I wrote a post on wide-format printing using a similar approach. How is designing a file for wide-format printing different from commercial printing? What do you have to do differently? For this post, I talked to one of the production staff.  The result was a “top three mistakes” list, but not a general one. It’s one based on the production person’s experience at his company, with its clients, in its unique market space.

To create blog posts like this, you need to plan and schedule time with the right staff members to get the information. Perhaps rotate departments so that you are drawing information from a different department each week. Week 1: design team. Week 2: production team. Week 3: sales and business development teams. Week 4: customer service team. By rotating topics, you keep the information fresh.

It all adds up to new, fresh information that is genuinely useful to your customers and gives them a reason to keep coming back.

Increase the Value of Your Email Marketing Efforts

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Would you like to give your customers the marketing messages they want, the way they want them? Of course you would. That’s why you need to make the most of your email marketing. With up to 77% of customers preferring to get their marketing messages via email, it’s time to make sure you are getting the most out of this valuable resource.

Why Email Marketing Matters

Email marketing offers a lot of advantages. Email is:

  • Customizable – you can customize everything from your email content to what triggers an email to be sent. It’s a versatile medium, so use that to your advantage.
  • Affordable – setting up an email campaign is cost effective. Crafting a good email takes time, but emails are still relatively quick to put together compared to other marketing materials.
  • Relationship focused – email brings you into direct relationships with your customers, encouraging them to take action on your messages.
  • Measurable – email metrics tell you everything from open rates to click through rates and unsubscribe rates. All this tells you what you are doing well and where you could do better.

How To Make The Most Of Email

Email is a great ally for your business, but how do you make the most of it? Your aim is to send timely relevant emails that will be opened and acted upon. Start by:

  • Keeping it personal – you’re not sending email to “your list”, you’re sending it to the individual customer who is going to read it. Keep them in mind and address them directly.
  • Keeping it snappy – customers get a lot of marketing messages. Make yours stand out with an attention-grabbing headline and content that lets your brand’s personality shine through.
  • Keeping it customer focused – make the time spent reading worth their while. Instead of opening with why they need to buy your product or service, offer information that will be useful to them. Inform and entertain first, sell second.
  • Keeping it actionable – email is a great medium for encouraging action. Make it clear what the next step is, whether that’s getting in touch, placing an order, or looking out for the next eye-catching missive.

Email is a marketing mainstay that offers a welcome boost to your business. Give plenty of love to your email list and give them tantalizing content that will establish your business as worth paying attention to.

Have you had success with email marketing? I’d love to hear. Share your tips and best practices below!

The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is a bit like making a cake. For the recipe to be a success, you need to add all of the right ingredients.

In order to help you do so, let’s take a look at some quick dos and don’ts for executing multi-channel campaigns that will keep your clients and their customers happy.

Learn how you can execute a successful multi-channel marketing campaign by downloading, “The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/DoDontMMC! Do you have any additional tips for executing successful multi-channel marketing campaigns? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Can Social Media and Direct Mail Merge Seamlessly?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

“Social media isn’t a fad, and I think we can all accept that,” said moderator Barbara Pellow, Group Director of InfoTrends, in January’s webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America.

This we know: social media isn’t a new trend. It has an established yet evolving role within the marketing sector. So the question becomes, how does the print industry integrate social media into traditional marketing pieces, like direct mail, to offer optimal customer outreach?

Renée Hall, VP of Business Development at Dukky, and John Ortiz, Director of Operations and Sales at Your Preferred Printer, give an overview and case-study examples of successful, seamless integrations. The speakers touch on strategies and software tools for merging social media with direct mail, which ultimately bolster a client’s network and increase bottom line sales.

Let’s consider the facts. When 1000+ enterprises were surveyed in 2013, social networks were cited as the number one area in which media usage will increase. In addition, 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to a digital channel in order to reach broader audiences and boost response rates.

Now, how are these social networks leveraged?

In order to answer this question, printers must first start by defining their business altogether. Hall finds that most printers have either transitioned to become full marketing agencies with in-house printing capabilities, or they now characterize themselves as a ‘printer+’. As a printer+, the business presents itself as a traditional printer, but integrates online, digital components to complement mail pieces. “Embrace new technology, keep and expand your services, provide tools for measurement and analytics, and leverage what already exists” are just some of Hall’s suggestions for success.

After updating the business approach, printers must next consider the new role of direct mail. It’s no longer a one-way, exposure-oriented form of communication; rather, it’s an entry point to cultivate a conversation and gather information. Take Hall’s Chick-Fil-A example: 5,000 mailers were sent out to gather demographic information of potential customers and to inform them of the branch’s opening. The postcards featured free food promotions that required online validation. Once online, customers were prompted to take a short, information-gathering survey. Once completed, they were able to receive the promotion and “share” the offer within their social network. On opening day, 14,000 customers walked through the branch’s doors. 20% of which accredited the decision to the direct mailer and it’s online component ‘call-to-action’.

Sounds like one successful way to get customers engaged, mobilized and excited. For more examples of seamless integrations and for the complete list of tips, check out the recorded webinar here:


 

 

Useless Personalization: Would You Have Stepped In?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I saw something odd in my mailbox this morning. It was from a local auto dealership. It was personalized based on my use of their service center . . . once. I opened it, and two lines caught my eye.

The first line was in the opening of the letter. “Heidi, I noticed you haven’t visited [dealership] for service in over a year . . .”

The second was the headline for the call-out box next to it. It was in red, bold, and large font: “SPECIAL PRICING PROGRAM.” The pricing wasn’t on service. It was on purchasing a new vehicle.

I put down the letter and thought about what I’d just seen. The dealership is calling my attention to the fact that I haven’t been to the service center in more than a year — and they want to sell me a new car.

That’s an odd combination. Either I haven’t been there in a year because I’m dissatisfied, I’m taking my car somewhere else, or my 2005 Chevrolet Equinox is in amazing shape and hasn’t needed even a tune-up.

If the latter, then why do I need a new car? Now, I can understand if I weren’t a lapsed customer but a frequent customer. You know: “Heidi, we’ve noticed you’ve been into our shop 5 times in the past 7 months. How about a new ride? We’ve got great financing on NEW VEHICLES for valued customers like you!” But it didn’t.

I could spend a lot of time busting on this particular letter, but what I really want to know is this. If you had been producing this job, what role would you have played? Would you have asked to look at the copy before it went into production? Asked about targeting based on service history? Looked at the promotional offer in the call-out box to see if it matched (in any way, shape, or form) the content of the letter?

This Press Release Did Everything Right

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Many organizations are rediscovering the role of public relations in content marketing. As an editor, I get over a dozen press releases every day. The four most common failures I see are:

  • Not understanding the difference between “news” and “promotion.”
  • Taking too long to get to the point.
  • Failing to help me see/intuit/perceive a potential story.
  • Giving me no single, well-written, concise paragraph I can run with.

A press release that came in today from Graham Chapman at 919Marketing did everything right. Here’s why Graham’s release is better than most:

1. The subject line compels. Graham is writing for a new-mover-welcome service, Our Town America. His subject line is “Local Expert Alleviates Moving Stress with 14 for 14 Tips.” Even if the recipients (editors) aren’t relocating personally, most certainly have moved at some point. A subject line that any editor can relate to, professionally or personally, works best.

2. Graham introduces the release with a cover note that gets my brain churning. “Hi Nancy, According to the Employee Relocation Council, moving is the third most stressful event in a person’s life, trumped only by death and divorce.” Can I relate? You bet.

3. The middle of the release grabs me visually. Rather than droning on, the layout pulls my eyes to a short bulleted list that suggests several “heart-warming” gestures for various dates in February — all related to the “new mover” experience.

  • Wave Your Hand at Your Neighbor Day
  • Send a Card to a Friend Day
  • Make a Friend Day
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day

4. I’m rewarded with a Eureka! moment. I get it: 14 for 14 … this “moving” story concept is centered on Valentine’s Day, February 14. I’m charmed.

5. The pay-off gets delivered. Old Town America’s “14 for 14″ Moving Tips are pretty good (e.g., “Divvy up duties with your family, tackle the packing one room at a time, and give yourself a few weeks to get everything in boxes.”) Yep. Been there, done that.

6. If I’m interested, I know what to do. Graham has given me a bunch of story ideas and he promises “plenty of timely talkers and visuals” to help me flesh out a story. In short, this release did my first-round thinking for me. As an editor, I can’t ask for more.

4 Marketing Channels You Must Invest In

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

No matter how large or small a business is, the following four marketing channels are must-haves for increasing brand awareness, growing product interest, and enhancing your online presence.

  1. Your Website: A corporate website should be your business’s first priority for establishing a strong marketing effort. Strong websites have the ability to promote all of your products and services, collect data from inquiries and leads, and help enhance your search engine optimization. Online searches are the primary way for people to find any type of business these days – make sure their first impression of your business is a positive one!
  2. Email: Whether your business is B2B or B2C, this channel is a must-have because people use their email every day, for both personal and business reasons. You can use it to announce new products, cross-promote services, and for follow-up campaigns from previous events. Email is a great way to stay in front of your audience, increase product awareness, and drive traffic to your website.
  3. Mobile: In case you didn’t notice, mobile devices are kind of a big deal right now and they aren’t going away. Businesses of all kinds need to review their website from mobile phones, tablets, laptops – you name it! If the user experience of your website is not mobile-optimized, you are losing your mobile audience.
  4. Social Media: There are many benefits of social media marketing for businesses. These channels are great for staying in front of your audience’s eyes on a daily basis, driving traffic to your website, and finding new audiences. Social media channels also tend to rank higher in search engine results because they are updated so frequently.

Each one of these marketing channels are essential for broadcasting your business’s capabilities to your audience.

What other marketing channels does your company invest a lot of its time into? I’d love to hear below!