Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

We Blog

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

It has become common these days for industry events—like major product announcements—to be “liveblogged,” or written up in more or less real time on a news site, blog, or Twitter. Apple’s splashy press events are inevitably liveblogged, and closer to our home, HP’s Blended Reality press event in October was liveblogged in a number of places. Other industry events are also liveblogged and they can be a great way for non-attendees to follow along with the action.

Liveblogging is not just for press events. I don’t get cable TV, so this fall I did often follow Syracuse football games via the Syracuse Post-Standard’s livetweets of the games. (The games were far less depressing when I could “watch” them in 140-character bursts of inept offense.)

Last fall, one of my favorite musicians, Kate Bush, performed live in London for the first time in 35 years. Alas, I didn’t get a chance to attend, although the Guardian did liveblog one of the shows. I noticed from the setlist that she didn’t play one of her most famous songs, her first hit single way back in 1978 (at the tender age of 18): “Wuthering Heights,” based on the Emily Brontë novel. The title “Wuthering Heights” does immediately conjure up two competing associations in my mind: the Kate Bush song, yes, but also the Monty Python sketch, “The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights,” in which Heathcliff and Catherine express their tempestuous love affair via signal flags.

Did you know that the term “semaphore” (from the Greek sema “sign, signal” and phoros “bearer”) was coined by a late 18th-century French inventor named Claude Chappe (1763–1805)? Chappe’s approach to semaphore was not signal flags, but rather a series of stone towers that used large rods and moveable shutters to send messages—viewed by telescope—from one to another. It was a successful form of long-distance communication and was eventually used across Europe, most notably by Napoléon, who implemented the system to move his armies around his growing empire. Oh, and another term that Chappe coined? “Telegraph,” which was actually what he called his system. Others, like Samuel Morse, working on an electric long-distance communications medium would adopt the term.

The telegraph would trigger off a whole host of telecommunications revolutions culminating in what you are reading right now (the Internet, presumably), while another technology emerging about the same time is also simultaneously connected to both the ability to pick up and read Wuthering Heights on paper as well as read this blog post. (Choose wisely…)

It begins with someone trying to find a cheap way to print something.

The story of Alois Senefelder (full name: Aloys Johann Nepomuk Franz Senefelder—boy, did they know how to name ’em back then!) is pretty well known, certainly to this crowd. Senefelder (1771–1834) was born in Prague but trod the boards in Germany, as he was predominantly an actor and, more predominantly, a playwright. A play roguishly called Connoisseur of Girls was a success, but he ran into problems getting a follow-up play, Mathilde von Altenstein, printed. (It was not “a play about nothing”—that was Seinfeld, not Senefelder.) He ran into debt and couldn’t afford to publish another play he had written (been there, done that). However, in one of those random twists of fate, an entire industry was soon to be born—all because Senefelder had to do his laundry.

He had been trying to come up with an alternate form of printing to the letterpress methods in use at the time. He had been mucking about with copper plates, to no avail, until one day, he recalled, he wrote a laundry list on a slab of Bavarian limestone with a grease pencil. He wasn’t immediately sure of what he had, but after some more mucking about, he essentially invented what became known as lithography (Romano and Romano, 1997). He developed the image carrier (litho stones) as well as a special lithographic press that used the stones and in 1796, partnering with composer Franz Gleißner, started a music publishing firm based on lithographic printing.

Lithography—or planography (printing from a flat surface)—was largely used to print illustrations (lithographs) but there were early uses in packaging, specifically, printing on tin cans. As the technology advanced, lithographic presses started using metal rather than stone as an image carrier, and, thanks to Robert Barclay, went from flatbed to rotary.

By the end of the 19th century, a cutting-edge new technology—photography—was reducing demand for lithographs (sound familiar?). By the early 20th century, lithography—using either stone or metal—was a low-cost printing process used for printing books, photographs, and transactional documents (sound familiar?).

Enter Ira Rubel, a commercial printer in Nutley, N.J. He had been using lithographic stone presses to print bank deposit slips and, as was common at the time, the press’s impression cylinder was covered with a rubber blanket. However, good help is hard to find and automatic feeding had yet to be invented, so occasionally the person feeding the paper into the press missed a sheet, and the lithographic plate would print directly on the blanket. The next sheet through the press would then pick up the impression from the blanket, albeit reversed. However, Rubel noticed that the blanket-printed image was sharper than the image from the plate itself (Romano and Romano, 1997). Ding ding ding! Owwwoooogaahh!! Rubel had himself an idea, and thus was born offset lithography, which would eventually kill off letterpress, although far too late for it to do Senefelder any good.

Rubel made his inadvertent discovery in 1904. Literature nerds know that 1904 is the year in which expatriate Irish author James Joyce set his classic (and controversial) book Ulysses. Indeed, literati around the world celebrate “Bloomsday” on June 16, the day in 1904 that Joyce’s protagonist, advertising canvasser Leopold Bloom, has his Homeric odyssey around Dublin.

Joyce’s book was a publishing sensation and not in the best way; it was subject to censorship and court cases (Molly Bloom’s lengthy extended internal monologue in the book’s final chapter contains a bit TMI), but it has also inspired many other writers and musicians. Allan Sherman got a laugh with a Ulysses reference in his 1963 novelty hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” and, at the other end of the musical spectrum, Grace Slick sings about Molly Bloom in “rejoyce” on Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 album After Bathing at Baxter’s.

And in 1989, Kate Bush’s “The Sensual World” was originally going to set Molly Bloom’s soliloquy to music, but the Joyce estate wouldn’t give her permission, so she paraphrased. Yes.

Anyway, James Joyce leads us to Jorn Barger, who launched the website Robot Wisdom in 1995. It was one of the very first “weblogs,” and in fact it was Barger who coined the term “weblog,” which he originally meant to refer to the act of “logging the web” as he went from site to site. He had wide-ranging interests, a significant one being the works of James Joyce, about which he wrote frequently.

The term “weblog” was abbreviated to “blog” by Peter Merholz in 1999.

So, today, we have liveblogging, video blogging, slow blogging, and so on. Senefelder wanted to find a cheap way of publishing his plays, and as it turns out, a blog is a pretty cheap way of doing it. Blogging—as this site amply demonstrates (except for the present post, I expect)—is a good way for companies to offer interesting and useful information to present and prospective customers, and should be considered one of the primary tools in one’s marketing arsenal.

 

References:

Frank Romano and Richard Romano, The GATF Encyclopedia of Graphic Communication (Sewickley, Penn., 1997).

“Claude Chappe,” Wikipedia, last modified on November 29, 2014, 2014, accessed on December 2, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Chappe.

“Alois Senefelder,” Wikipedia, last modified on June 4, 2014, 2014, accessed on December 2, 2014, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alois_Senefelder.

Will Your Google Analytics Dashboard Shock You?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

These days, all the buzz is about content marketing. Whether you’re a commercial printer, digital printer, or a marketing firm, gaining new customers is about drawing people in rather than pushing your information out. When customers are ready, they will find you.

Effective content marketing requires more than just having good content on your website for people to find. It requires monitoring your site activity so you know who’s coming to your site, where they are coming from, and as much as possible about who they are so you can make your inbound efforts more effective. To this end, if you haven’t taken a good, hard look at your Google Analytics dashboard lately, it’s time to do so.

Google Analytics has become incredibly sophisticated, and it continues to be free. There is no reason not to be using this tool to improve your understanding of customer and prospect activity and improve your sales.

For example, through my website, Digital Printing Reports, I sell “state of the market” analysis; pre-written, brandable white papers to help printers market their businesses; and custom writing services. Based on what I learned about my site traffic over the past week, here is what I know about the kind of people who are interested in what I have to offer:

  • Twice as many people are coming from Facebook than LinkedIn.
  • One in four people are visiting on mobile devices.
  • Visitors are hitting an average of 4 pages on the site and spending a total of 3:03 minutes there.
  • On the first visit, the overwhelming majority view my “about Heidi” page; on the second visit, they go straight for the content and hit the white papers and 2x as often as the reports.
  • Visitors spent 200% more time on the site when coming from desktop devices than mobile.
  • Desktop users are using primarily Firefox and Chrome, with a smaller but significant percentage using Safari.
  • All of the mobile traffic has been iOS.
  • The majority of vistors are between 25-34 years old with a slightly higher percentage being male.
  • The predominant interests are individual sports — running/walking and cycling — along with technology, cooking/food/wine, and travel/tourism/historical sites.
  • I have a noticeable percentage of traffic coming from Brazil.

What can I learn from this to improve my marketing?

  • I should level of priority I place on Facebook over LinkedIn.
  • I should spend more time optimizing the site for mobile (for example, finding better formats for handling the viewing of sample pages on mobile devices).
  • I should spend more time driving traffic from decision-makers the area of content marketing (white papers for SEO/branding/site downloads) than “bigger picture thinkers” responsible for business direction.
  • I should continue to watch the engagement from Latin America. If it continues to rise, I may want to consider adding Spanish language versions of some or all of my content
  • Enough people are still using Safari that it demands attention from the web designer.
  • As an avid runner, I might want to add something on my “about Heidi” page to personalize the connection with my site visitors. After all, ultimately, people buy from people—not businesses.

If you haven’t looked at your Google Analytics reports lately, you might be surprised what you can learn to help you better market and promote your business.

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?

5 Tips for Handling Social Media Complaints

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Social media provides your business with a flexible way to get in touch with your customers and build a loyal relationship. But what happens when it provides customers with a public means to complain about your business? Follow these five steps to navigate complaints as painlessly as possible:

  1. Monitor your social media channels. If a complaint isn’t acknowledged and resolved quickly, your customer is likely to get more aggravated. Watch your social media channels so you are ready to step in when a problem arises.
  2. Mind your language. No matter how fraught the situation, be sure to remain polite, professional and courteous at all times. Remember to speak directly to your customer in humane language – corporate-speak and stock phrases can sound impersonal and dismissive.
  3. Apologize. Your customer is upset and they want to know that you are taking their concerns seriously. Start by apologizing for any distress or inconvenience caused. By taking responsibility, you’re showing that your business cares about its customers’ concerns.
  4. Acknowledge publicly, address privately. A public apology is a vital first step and shows the willingness to take responsibility. In order to hash out the details of resolving the problem, offer to get in touch by email, direct message or telephone, for a fuller discussion.
  5. Make it right. Analyze the issue, acknowledge your customer’s distress, and work out how you can make it right with them. Willingness to fix mistakes can actually boost your reputation, showing your customer service skills in a positive light.

Complaints are a part of business life, but having them aired publicly is a nerve-wracking experience. By having a plan in place for dealing with complaints and keeping a cool head, you can diffuse the situation and even turn complaints into a positive outcome for your business.

Do you have any experience with negativity on your social media platforms? How did you overcome the problem? I’d love to get a good chat started in the comments below!

Blogito Ergo Sum

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

This week, Margie Dana’s Print Tip explains “why a printer’s blog is the first thing I look for.” She says:

A blog lets you share interesting insights about your company as well as establish your true colors. It’s not about equipment or how old your firm is. It’s about business-related information and opinions. It’s (hopefully) fun and educational.

In my opinion, a blog is the cornerstone of a company’s inbound marketing efforts. It’s effective. It’s versatile. And it’s easier to do than you think.

She adds:

A good blog is to your ideal audience what the yellow brick road was to Dorothy and company: the path leading to your own little Oz, or website.

And, well, a blog post can also send flying monkeys aloft, but hopefully that doesn’t happen too often.

Blogging can be considered the original social medium. Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about blogging. It can be fun; I have used it as a way to experiment with different kinds of writing, not always successfully, and it’s great to research a topic that interests me and share odd facts and information. But often, when I have deadlines galore, blogging becomes a chore. (Those writing experiments did not include poetry. The rhyme here was accidental.) It’s not just the labor of sitting down and composing x number of words with y frequency, but also picking a topic that lends itself to extended verbiage, and carefully considering phrasing. After all, a hastily written line or ill-chosen word can act as flame-bait.

I think Margie is right that printers of all kinds—and in fact all kinds of businesses—can benefit from having a company blog,

Now, the first response is often, “Who has time for it? I have a business to run.” And that’s a fair point. If someone like me, who is a professional writer—or, at the very least, a delivery system for words—gets blogged down generating posts, how can someone who is not inclined to writing take advantage of blogging?

Here are some strategies for managing one’s blogging efforts:

1. Get help.

One solution could very well be to outsource it. There are many professional (or semi-professional) writers out there in the industry who could use a few extra bucks. They know the industry and with a little guidance, can craft compelling copy (that could even be alliterative) for your company. Alternatively, company employees—such as those in sales and/or marketing—can be tasked with blogging. You can even divvy up the blogging among several individuals—and a mix of in-house and freelance sources not only helps spread out the workload, but also adds different voices and perspectives.

2. Develop a schedule.

Professional publications, be they print or online, typically operate according to an editorial calendar, drawn up 12 (or sometimes six) months in advance, that identifies what topics will be covered in which issue or on what date. This is predominantly a tool for the ad sales department, but is also a vital organizing tool and roadmap for editorial, knowing that, in June, there will be a feature on, say, textile printing. It’s far more effective than just winging it from month-to-month or week-to-week, especially since features take longer than straight news to compile and write. (This obviously does not apply to news, which is hard to identify in advance, NDAs notwithstanding.) Adopting a loose editorial calendar for blogging can help manage the process. If you are going to post, say, three times a week, you can start with a rough calendar like:

  • Mondays: Customer success stories
  • Wednesdays: File preparation tips
  • Fridays: Industry trends

With that basic roadmap, you can fine-tune it further and plug in specifics:

  • First Monday of the month: Vehicle wrap project for Joe’s Garage
  • Second Monday: Interior signage project for Alice’s Restaurant
  • Third Monday: Outdoor signage project for the Hotel California
  • First Wednesday: Choosing the proper color space; RGB vs. CMYK
  • Second Wednesday: Working with fonts
  • Third Wednesday: Know your substrates
  • First Friday: New announcements at Graph Expo/SGIA/other tradeshow
  • Second Friday: New developments in textile printing
  • Third Friday: What are LED-UV printers?

You get the idea. Naturally, things can change, such as if you wake up at 2 a.m. with a great idea for a blog post (it can happen), or you read something (like Margie Dana’s Print Tips) that stimulates a post idea.

3. Dedicate time to blogging.

Building blogging time into a daily schedule—rather than “when I get around to it”—is also good way of remaining consistent and disciplined. Maybe devote one hour a day, or three half-hour blocks of time a week—or whatever works—and use that period to blog without interruption. (Tip: Write, edit, refine, and polish in Word or OpenOffice before pasting into your blogging software like WordPress.) It’s also possible, using WordPress or any of the major blogging platforms, to schedule posts to run days or even weeks in advance. So you can devote one hour on, say, Monday to blogging, do an entire week or fortnight’s worth of posts in one go, and then schedule them to appear over the course of the next week or two. It is always a good idea to have a stash of posts ready to go, otherwise you are, as they say, in danger of laying down the tracks as the train is coming.

4. Read and link to others.

Social media is just that: social. Just like in offline social settings, where we dislike it when conversations are too one-sided, so, too, in blogging and other social media efforts we should let other people get a word in. In the case of blogging, this involves linking to other stories, blog posts, Web sites, or anything else that you think your readers/customers would find helpful or interesting. So if you see a compelling Digital Nirvana post, or a story on WhatTheyThink, or maybe even elsewhere, that can be good blog fodder. It can be shared without much comment (“Saw this on WTT…”) or if something in the story/post specifically caught your attention, say something about it (“That Dan Marx interview on chasing bottlenecks was right on the money. Here is what our experience has been…”).

5. Be positive

A fair portion of the blogosphere—although not necessarily in our industry—is a lot of griping and complaining. Now, criticism is good, and one of the advantages of blogging is that it can foster dialogues, trialogues, and even googologues, but it reflects badly on your business if it’s perceived as overly negative (“that %$#$^* Romano post at Digital Nirvana was a waste of pixels. Who lets him blog anyway? They should fire him…out of a cannon”). It may very well be true, but constructive criticism adds value to the dialogue and is a better reflection of your business. I like to adopt, as we say in Toastmasters, the “sandwich” approach to evaluation and criticism: start and end with a positive comment (the bread), with the middle comprising the actual criticism (the meat). Some people prefer the Atkins approach to criticism and skip the bread.

Anyway, blogging doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, onerous task. As with anything, if you can have fun with it, the enjoyment you take from sharing knowledge and information will be contagious—and is maybe the best PR your company can get.

Utilizing Multi-Channel Marketing, the Right Way

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

What is Multi-Channel?

Multi-channel marketing is the use of many different channels, such as direct mail, print, digital, and social media platforms, to spread one consistent, comprehensive, and effective marketing campaign. As a marketing or print service provider, it is important to promote the solutions that enhance the life of your brand as well as your printing services throughout a variety of channels.

If your business is still around in 2014, chances are you have realized that multi-channel marketing is not the secret formula to success, but rather a necessary component to the continual transformation of your print-centric business. In fact, you’re probably reading this and thinking, well… duh! So the real question now has become, what is the secret to successfully establishing a printer’s role as a marketing service provider (MSP) in this rapidly changing industry?

The Success in the Solutions

When thinking about marketing your business and the services you provide, remember that with Internet at every professional’s fingertips, finding a service they need is as easy as the click of a mouse or touch of a finger. That’s why your marketing message needs to reach prospects on a variety of channels while promoting what your services can do for each individual prospect. Knowing your target audience means knowing what they need, even if they do not. Make your marketing customer-centric. Try to stay away from promoting what your service is, and focus on what it does for your customers. Keep in mind that in order to sell solutions in a multi-channel market, developing a plan and strategy is paramount.

Planning for Multi-Channel

So we’ve established the need for marketing your solutions as well as your customers’ solutions on multiple channels. The roadblock now is managing the time and effort that this kind of inbound approach requires. A lot of MSPs that I work with or consult for are not struggling to wrap their heads around what must be done, but rather how to possibly accomplish such layered campaigns, without running their marketing into the ground.

The most important component, and I cannot stress this enough, is developing a multi-channel strategy that incorporates both marketing and sales. Have your teams work together to establish the bottom line of your multi-channel efforts, define:

  • Who you want to reach; the target audience you want to stay in front of.
  • What you want to say; what makes your company the best choice? Why are you different from your competitors?
  • When will your multi-channel efforts be most effective?
  • Where will your multi-channel efforts be most effective?
  • Why are the tactics you have chosen the best path for success?
  • How can you establish an execution strategy to market not only your brand and solutions, but also your customers’?

Once you have answered these questions, map out your marketing campaigns with visual charts and calendars. Keep in mind that multi-channel marketing is not a sprint, but rather a carefully executed relay race between sales and marketing, which requires orchestrated and practiced handoffs, that when done right will drive your prospects down the funnel.

Fortunately for MSPs struggling to handle the volume of multi-channel marketing and communications, several technological advances in customer communications management have emerged.

Objects in the Mirror

If you drive a car, even if you don’t, chances are you know the classic warning, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” These words, which we see daily, are a prevalent theme in the problems that printers and MSPs are presently facing. The classic predicament of knowing that something was coming, but not realizing it would approach so quickly, has left many businesses stuck in the dust of the industry leaders racing by.

My advice to you is to dedicate your time to developing a plan that will accomplish maintaining the standard of multi-channel marketing, which has pushed your top competitors to the head of the pack. Once you’ve mapped out your goals, tactics and execution strategy, stay tuned to my blog for insight and advice on the tools and best practices your business can implement to achieve positive recognition and grow your business in this multi-channel era.

To learn more about multi-channel marketing strategies, see my previous post, The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing!

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.

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.

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:


 

 

3 Steps to Online Marketing Success

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

It’s no secret that the internet has taken off. So my question to you now is, how developed are your online marketing tactics?

With almost 100 million people using the Internet in the United States alone, I hope your answer is very.

Yes, I know there are so many options and offers floating around out there. They are all intended to help you and your business drive traffic to your website and generate leads through inbound tactics, but the question is, what is right for you?

How can you draw customers to your services?

Learn how you can succeed with online marketing in 3 easy steps by downloading “Online Marketing: Tools You Need to Succeed,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/OnlineMkt! Do you have any additional tips for success with online marketing? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Interested in Learning about NFC Tags?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year to all! Now is a time to make resolutions and innovate. For those of us in the print industry, one of our resolutions likely involves making traditional print more interactive.

In this Printing Impressions webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America, moderator Lisa Cross talks about where Near Field Communication (NFC) tags fit in accomplishing this goal. If you’re like me and you’ve wondered what NFC Tags are – this is the place to learn. This webinar defines NFC technologies, shows how they are creatively implemented, and provides statistics from recent studies of their success.

Let’s jump to the content. Lisa introduces Matthew Bright, the Chair of NFC Forum’s Retail Special Interest Group and the Technical Marketing Director of Kovio, who focuses on the importance of NFC technology and provides examples of its use. To complement Matthew’s expertise, Nate Mullikin and Jill Krueger from Corporate Graphics International tell their company story and provide interesting examples of print interactive products and solutions.

To set the scene, Lisa highlights how technologies have emerged to combine traditional print and digital media to maximize the communication experience; a combination referred to as ‘tradigital’. Like most of us know, the key challenge in navigating the tradigital space is reaching an audience that now has control over the media they consume. In an Infotrends study, Lisa points out that 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to online and digital channels. Specifically, mobile use is the fastest growing channel within spending distribution. Therefore, a market for NFC solutions exists to cut through the communication clutter and to make strategic connections throughout campaigns.

Building off of Lisa’s introduction, Matthew describes how NFC is a ‘magical technology’ for interactive print. There are three main cases of NFC use, but the focus of this presentation surrounds the ‘touch to learn more’ concept. The ‘tags’–or stickers—connect printed material to multimedia content uploaded onto the cloud. The stickers can be adhered to posters, mailings, and even embedded into product packaging. For example, with a NFC sticker on a wine bottle, the consumer can then touch his or her phone to the tag, which links to tasting tips and optimal meal pairings on an online interface. It takes a view from print to digital in mere seconds.

Nate and Jill add to the discussion by citing how Taylor Company has adopted the use of NFC technologies in the solutions they provide their clients. From networking with customized business cards to the creation of interactive digital booklets & registries, NFC technologies offer an enhanced gameification of brand, product, and services.

This blog really just touches the surface of NFC technology. Take a deeper dive and be sure to check out the webinar here:


 

Improve Your Marketing for 2014

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Happy holidays Digital Nirvana readers!

To help get you started and to welcome the New Year, I have a special gift for you all below.

As 2014 is rapidly approaching, all companies are getting ready to start fresh with a new plan for the New Year. Is improving your company’s marketing efforts a major part of your new strategy? It better be! This year, it’s your opportunity to make new connections and strengthen old ones, all while increasing marketing efforts and filling the sales funnel.

I’d like to share our special eBook, 12 Marketing Tips for the New Year, to get you on a path to marketing success for 2014!

On behalf of everyone here at interlinkONE and Grow Socially, I’d like to wish you all a happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

[P.S. I'd love to hear your feedback as well as any other marketing tips you might have for 2014 in the comments below! Also, feel free to share this holiday special with others here: http://ilnk.me/NewYears, it's free!]

Tapping into the New Cross Media

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

It’s a loud, busy world out there. With so much information available, getting your voice heard is a challenge for any company. For mailing, print, and fulfillment providers, cross media marketing is really vital right now.

A well thought out cross media campaign is one of the best ways to communicate any message clearly, consistently, and in a way that’s relevant to the hearer. Keeping up with cross media marketing trends is an important component of your ongoing success – and that of your clients.

Are you having trouble connecting with customers?

Learn how you can use cross media marketing to better communicate with customers by downloading “Tapping into the New Cross Media,” FREE for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/NewCrossM; your customers will appreciate your dedication! Do you have any comments or opinions on cross media marketing or customer communication? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

10 Ways to Interact with Your Audience Online

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Are you stumped on finding ways to interact with your target audience online? No need to worry any longer. Here are plenty of different ways for you to creatively engage with your audience using social media and your company website.

Encourage Webinar Sign Ups

You can announce webinars in your blog, social media sites, website, or eNewsletter. Webinars are an opportunity to share your expertise with any number of people, and you are able to have them participate, ask you questions, and share their ideas during the webinar as well. Webinar programs, such as GoToMeeting.com, even allow you to record the webinar so you can post it on channels, like your blog, for future reference.

Encourage eNewsletter Sign Ups

eNewsletters are always a great way for your audience to stay up to date with what your business is doing. It also gives companies the opportunity to show a more personable side to their audience. Some ways to humanize your brand with eNewsletters are by integrating YouTube videos of staff members discussing a particular subject, blog posts, and sharing pictures of events the business participated in.

Event and Seminar Invitations

Events and seminars can create an opportunity to see which of your social media channels work the best. If you advertise the event on all channels with a link that directs them to the event’s registration page, create a survey question to see which one of the company pages actually led them to the event. It will give insight of where and how much traffic flow is occurring.

eBook and White Paper Downloads

Sharing information and industry expertise are two big trends in social media and are great ways to promote business to your audience. If you announce to your online audience that these materials are available online, they will be able to learn more about you and will be able to easily pass along information to colleagues. Try to set up a landing page to download the item for free as well. Having them enter their email address and answer two or three survey questions before downloading the content gives you the chance to gain more information.

Create a Contest

You can incorporate this into your eNewsletter, blog, social media sites, events – essentially anything. Have your audience enter the contest by submitting their email address and answering a few survey questions. This information will give you material to see if any of the participants could be possible prospects. You can also create a thank you email to send to all of the participants in order to encourage future interactions with them.

Create a Poll

Polls are a fantastic way to learn more information about who is following you online. They are quick, easy, and efficient for both you and the participant. You can have the poll focus on any type of subject matter. Some subjects could include which services are most beneficial to you, how often you need the service, how you search for similar businesses, etc. Display a poll on your website, eNewsletter, and social sites!

Make a Video

Creating videos is so easy with the help of flip cameras, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. They only have to be 30 seconds to two minutes long in order for it to send a valuable message to your audience. You have the opportunity to do so much with videos. Some ideas are announcing a contest winner, wishing your audience happy holidays, live footage of events, interviews with colleagues, or company announcements. Let your audience see the personable side of you and give your staff members the chance to participate with your marketing efforts. Integrate the videos on your website, eNewsletter, and your social media sites.

Organize Testimonial Interviews

Having your testimonials in video-form would bring new life to your testimonial page on your website. People would be able to see the clients you have worked with, how they talk about your business, and it would be much easier for them to explain their experience with your business in person. Written text can only capture so much, but videos have the capability to show how happy a customer was with your business. Posting videos is possible on all social media sites and you would be able to monitor how many views and comments each one receives.

Create a Blog

Blogs can be used as your daily eNewsletter. It is easy to keep them updated on a daily or weekly basis and you can blog about almost anything. Integrating videos, announcements, poll results, experiences at events, or subject matter are all fantastic topics to discuss in a blog. Your audience is able to leave comments and share with friends, and you can easily announce news in a quick manner. Promoting new entries across all of your online channels immediately after is possible as well. Don’t be intimidated by the blog, entries can be as short or as long as you want!

Host a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats can be very useful when it comes to attracting an online audience and giving those participants a chance to engage or respond to what you are saying. Twitter makes sharing and interacting easy because of hashtags, retweets, and username handles. You can promote Twitter chats easily and see how people shared information after the chat as well.

What’s your favorite way to interact with your audience online? Let us know below!