5 Steps to Great Print Planning

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. Here are 5 steps to ensuring that everything goes smoothly and on budget.

  1. What is the goal of the printed piece?

Is the goal of the piece to entertain or inform? To impress? Your marketing goals influence the design and quality of the piece. Certain ideas may have a significant impact on turnaround or cost. For example, some binding options can take extra time, and certain trim sizes might incur extra expense. Paper choices can also affect the project cost and turnaround time.

  1. Who is the audience, and how will they use the piece?

If you are designing a flyer for a theatrical opening, it will look different than one promoting a rock concert. People read a book differently than they read a poster. Before setting anything in stone, talk to us to determine how your design decisions can affect the project budget and schedule.

  1. How many suppliers are involved?

Take into account the schedules of any outside service providers. For example, if you are using a freelance illustrator or label designer, you need to take his or her availability into consideration. If you’re adhering a label to a bottle, you need to work with the bottle company to ensure that the bottles are available when you need them.

  1. When does the piece need to arrive?

Always plan backwards from the delivery date. It’s particularly important to involve us in this part of the planning process so we can schedule your project. Because we juggle many jobs at any given time, your project needs gets to press in time to meet your deadline. If not, your job may get rescheduled behind other jobs, and especially if those jobs are large or complex, that can affect its mail or delivery date significantly.

  1. How much “fudge” do you need?

Finally, you need to incorporate “fudge factor.” Always add in buffer time to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.

The moral of the story? Good print planning starts with communicating early—and often.

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Are You Designing for Visual Impairment?

When we think about selecting a font for a print marketing piece, we tend to think about the creative aspects of the selection. Does it match the branding? Will it convey the right message (strength, creativity, whimsy) to the target audience? But there are some practical issues that need to be considered as well. These relate to readability.

Not everyone in your target audience has the same level of vision. Older members might be facing issues like cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. Even younger consumers may have untreated amblyopia or eye teaming. These visual issues make reading challenging. If your audience has trouble just reading the words, the larger marketing message will get lost.

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, when choosing a font, here are some specific things to consider for target audiences (or portions of those audiences) who might be facing vision issues:

Font type: Use easily recognizable characters in fonts such as standard Roman or Arial. Avoid decorative fonts.

Font size: Increase the font size to make it easier to read. This is especially important for in-store displays, signage, and other materials that may be read from a distance.

Serif vs. sans serif: For maximum readability, use a sans serif typeface.

Bold it. When possible, use bold type because the thickness of the letters makes the print more legible.

Contrast: Choose colors and type styles that contrast from background. The more contrast, the easier the font is to read. You may want to avoid using italics or all capital letters. Both make it more difficult to differentiate letters.

If you are going to a general audience, it might be worth segmenting out specific age groups or other demographics and including font selection and sizing as part of the customization.

Need help choosing the right font for your audience or segmenting your projects to get the right match between the two? Let us help.


7 Ways to Maximize Impact on a Small Budget

A high-impact marketing campaign comes from creativity and strategy, not from having limitless resources. Let’s look at seven ways to optimize your marketing budget for maximum impact, even on minimum dollars.

  1. Concentrate on a niche market. Target your message to a smaller market versus a diverse group of prospects. Maximize your marketing spend by mailing highly relevant, targeted offers rather than general solicitations.
  2. Plan your printing. Involve us in the design of your printed pieces from the beginning. We can often recommend paper, ink, trim sizes, and layouts that will save you money.
  3. Maximize your postal spend. New postage rates have recently gone into effect that address size, shape and weight. Using these new parameters, we can advise you on creating mailings that will minimize your postage expense while maximizing your ROI.
  4. Consider postcards. Some studies estimate postcard readership at close to 100%, especially if your design is eye-catching and your message is brief. Ask us for assistance in creating a low-cost postcard that meets postal service specifications for reduced postage.
  5. Be the expert. When prospective clients are in need of your product or service, you will have instant credibility if they have seen your name in print. Create a newsletter or blog, write articles for magazines, newspapers and journals, or even consider producing your own branded magazine.
  6. Network. Join a speakers bureau and attend trade shows and conferences. Utilize online networking resources, such as LinkedIn. Pass out and mail business cards and brochures to boost awareness among your potential clients.
  7. Partner with non-competing businesses. Identify companies that offer complementary goods and services, and create cooperative marketing collateral using a pool of shared dollars.

There are many cost-effective ways to let future customers know about your company’s products and services. Be resourceful and you will reap the rewards on your balance sheet.


3 Ways to Make More of Your Data

One of the biggest misconceptions about 1:1 (personalized) printing is that marketers don’t have enough of the data to create personalized, highly relevant campaigns. This might be true in some cases, but you might also be overlooking ways to do more with the data you already have.

Here are three ways to maximize the use of existing data:

  1. Revive existing customer relationships.

Find those customers that used to order frequently but who might have dropped off the map. Send them a note telling them you missed them. Ask them to fill out a survey (to find out why) and offer a coupon encouraging them to come back.

  1. Cross-sell and upsell.

While prospecting is an important part of marketing, your most profitable relationships are the customers who already buy from you. Take advantage of these relationships by proactively cross-selling and upselling relevant products of use to them. If you are an auto dealer and know a customer’s lease is about to expire on a Toyota Corolla, for example, send a personalized brochure appealing to all of the benefits of upgrading to a Toyota Camry.

  1. Start a loyalty program.

Ask existing customers to join a loyalty program. These programs encourage customers to maintain their relationship with you based on deals. Buy nine, get the tenth free. Earn discounts and free stuff based on shopping frequency or referrals. Sometimes loyalty program benefits are discounts and free merchandise, but especially for luxury items, exclusive access and insider information can be powerful incentives, too. If you are a local winery, ask tour visitors to sign up for a wine club. Offer insider “deals” like exclusive wine tastings and access to lectures from local celebrities.

Need help maximizing your existing customer data? We’ve got great ideas. Just ask!


Design Campaigns Like Award-Winners!

Have you ever wondered what goes into an award-winning marketing campaign? Sometimes it’s crackerjack copy. Sometimes it’s stunning images. Increasingly, however, it’s the smart integration of multiple elements, from creative to media selection. Let’s look at five components of award-winning campaigns here.

1. Multiple media, including print. Marketing campaigns using multiple media channels, including print, in strategic, integrated ways are the most successful. Award winners understand which channels are most effective for each element of the campaign, then use the best of each to accomplish the goal.

2. Unusual spins on traditional media. Print is exploding with options in innovation. Think unusual folds, die-cuts, and dimensional inks and coatings. One award-winner used a vertical gatefold tipped onto the cover of a magazine to catch attention. Imagine using personalized teasers in your marketing to get recipients to open a tip-on, then exposing them to a personalized message underneath!

3. Reader interaction through personalization. If you can encourage people to interact with (and, better yet, create) their marketing pieces, they are more likely to act on them. “Create your own” (personalized) brochures on everything from home décor to travel itineraries are great examples accessible even to small and mid-sized businesses.

4. Knowing your audience. Award-winning marketers know their audiences. They match the message, the channel, and the response mechanisms to the preferences and habits of the people receiving them. Are recipients most likely to respond using the phone? Personalized URLs? General URLs? QR Codes? Know your audience and design your campaigns to them.

5. Tracking and measuring goals and results. Award winners carefully track and monitor their results. When you know what works, you can build on what’s effective and ditch what isn’t. This gives you the freedom to innovate and maximize your profits!

Need help designing a marketing campaign worthy of attention and that gets results? Let us help!


Boost Customer Loyalty with Surveys

One of the best uses of your marketing dollars is to protect your existing customer base. You’ve worked hard to earn their loyalty. Now you want to keep it. Consider the benefits of utilizing customer surveys.

Let’s look at an example. A regional grocery store chain was experiencing increased competition from a large national chain and wanted to preserve its most valuable customer relationships. The chain sent two personalized surveys to its top 400 customers: one in the fall and one in the spring.

The first survey included six personalized questions and a letter addressed to the shopper, signed by the store manager of the location they frequented most. In the second, questions were designed to see how well the chain had addressed the issues raised in the first survey. Recipients also received a personalized cover letter from the store manager.

The surveys received a 52% response rate. While specific data on customer retention was not provided, a research study conducted by Rice University and published in Harvard Business Review found that, over the course of a year, customers who received similar customer surveys were twice as likely to continue their relationship with the company than those who did not.1

There are no surprises here. Once people have made a purchase from you, they are your customers to lose. Show them that you care what they think, that their opinions are valuable, and you will act on information they share with you. They will reward you with their loyalty.

Why not talk to us about incorporating a customer survey into your next mailing?

1 “Sending out a Survey to Customers Can Double Sales,” by Vivek Bhaskaran, http://www.questionpro.com.

Back to Basics: The IEEO Marketing Formula

The purpose of all marketing is to lead the prospect to choose your product or service. With the advent of sophisticated computer modeling, marketing algorithms, and demographic stratification, it’s important to remember the basic marketing formula that is the core of any effective print marketing piece – IEEO, or Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer.

business planInterrupt means more than simply capturing your reader’s attention with an unusual graphic or crafty headline. You may have only succeeded in confusing the customer, and the first reaction of a confused brain is to say “no.” Within the first few seconds, demonstrate What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) or you will never have the opportunity to connect with your prospect in a meaningful way.

Engage is typically a short section, such as a subheading, that follows the interruption to promise relevant information is forthcoming. Think of the telemarketer analogy. Your first reaction is to say no and hang up. But what if the caller said something of interest that prepared you to participate in a conversation? Your printed piece must quickly engage the reader.

Now that your prospects are engaged, you have the opportunity to Educate them on what makes you different from your competitor. If you have multiple target audiences, you may need several versions of your printed piece to tailor your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) effectively. Testimonials are a great way to promote your current clients while showing the prospect in a detailed, quantifiable way that you’re the expert who will solve his problem. Move the reader from thinking emotionally to making a logical purchasing decision.

You’ve been successful in engaging the prospect long enough to educate him about your project or service, but to make your piece work you have to present a solid Offer. Directly tell the reader what to do – return the business reply card, request a report, call or visit your website now. Use words like guarantee, discount or free trial to give the prospect a low risk way to evaluate your product or service. If you’ve executed the first three steps properly, the reader will likely take advantage of this offer.

Consistency is a critical element in branding your product or service in the marketplace. The linear IEEO steps give you the proper framework to achieve consistency in your marketing message.