Tag Archives: direct mail

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.

5 Tips to Selecting Images that Win Customers

Do you have the right images to reinforce your message and engage your target audience? Let’s look at a few ideas to help you select photos and illustrations that help to achieve your campaign objectives.

  1. Mirror your target audience. The quickest way to let your customers know your product is right for them is to use images reflecting the same demographic. A company promoting a new perfume might show a 35- to 44-year-old woman surrounded by admirers. A health club might use this same age demographic but change the image to athletic men and women.
  2. Empathize with your prospect. A working mother is anxiously looking at the clock as it approaches 5:00 p.m., wondering what she will serve for dinner. A man looks out the window of a crowded bus and sees the sign for a car dealership promoting good cars on limited budgets. Use images that empathize with your customers’ challenges.
  3. Demonstrate your value proposition. Illustrate how your product will help prospects solve a problem. A food chain promoting its carryout menu might present the working mother as she puts a hot, healthy meal on the table for her family. The car dealership could show the man from the bus speeding away in a clean and dependable vehicle.
  4. Be authentic. Instead of a stock photo of a multicultural team laughing together around the water cooler, incorporate likenesses of your own employees in real offices, or the actual delivery truck customers will see pulling up to their business or residence. If a prospect can believe in your pictures, he can believe in your words as well.
  5. Reinforce the message you intend to convey. Using images that reflect what people care about is a great way to engage customers and keep them coming back.

Need help selecting the right images? Let our top-notch designers help!

5 Updates to Freshen Up Direct Mail

Are you looking for ways to spice up your direct mail campaigns? Even if your response rates remain high, are you looking to freshen things up? Here are a few ways you can update your direct mailings and give them new appeal.

  1. Update the package.

Are you using the same envelopes you have for years? If so, change the color. Change the size. Add a personalized teaser on the front (“John, check this out!”). If you are selling high-value products, consider dimensional mail or novelty envelopes that look like UPS packages or USPS Priority Mail.

  1. Tweak your text.

Still using the same marketing text from last year? Try a new approach. If you’ve been using an informational style, insert some humor. If you’ve been sending punchy one-liners, try adding more educational text.

  1. Freshen up the images.

How long have you been using that same picture of your headquarters? Is your headshot on the back of the postcard from the 1990s? Take a new company photo. Upload a current headshot with a fabulous smile. Or maybe you just want some new images as backgrounds or illustration.

  1. Add a new variable.

If you are personalizing your mailings, why not add a new variable? If you’ve been personalizing by name and gender, add age bracket or income. If you’ve been personalizing by ZIP Code and household income, refine by life stage.

Look for fresh, new ways to relate to customers and increase the relevance of the message.

  1. Try a new offer.

What incentive have you been using to get people to respond? 15% discount? If so, try 10% or 25%. Go crazy and try BOGO. How are you encouraging people to log into their personalized microsite? Entrance into a sweepstakes for a gift card? Try a set of concert tickets instead.

Mixing things up can be a great way to stay fresh and relevant, even when sending to the same audience. So get creative. Step outside the box and see what happens.

Need some ideas? Contact us. We can help!

Tips and Tricks for Selecting Colors

Color sells. It increases brand recognition, improves comprehension, and can motivate purchase decisions between products. Color also identifies. The United Parcel Service, IBM, and Home Depot are all synonymous with specific colors. Some companies even trademark colors as brand assets. Think Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue.

A study by G.A Wright Marketing found that the use of high-quality paper and color applications can increase response rates by nearly 50%. For example, the study showed that a four-color promotional mailer printed on heavy gloss paper stock had a more than 40% higher response rate than an identical three-color version printed on a lighter matte paper stock.

Colors summon emotions and create connections with the people surrounding your brand. Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow are associated with a range of emotions, from optimism and excitement to violence. Cool colors like green, violet, and blue can be calming and nurturing, but they can also be impersonal and antiseptic.

Choose colors that will elicit a positive response from recipients, then balance them in a visually appealing way. Using variations of a single color will create a visual effect that is classic and easy on the eyes, but not as vibrant as it could be. Enrich the scheme by introducing analogous colors, selecting three colors next to each other on the color wheel. Examples include red/orange/yellow; green/blue/purple; and yellow/yellow-green/green. Consistently use one shade as the dominant color.

For higher contrast, select a complementary color scheme, choosing colors across the wheel from each other. This works best when you place a warm color against a cool color, such as red and green, blue and orange, or purple and yellow. Any tint can be used. Midnight blue/tangerine and royal purple/gold are effective combinations.

Most any color mix can work as long as you retain harmony and richness in your presentation and avoid the hues used by your competitors.

Test combinations until you find the scheme that sends the message you want associated with your business. Your customers make split-second decisions based on color, so use it to your advantage.

Need help? Just ask!

Snatch Customers Before Your Competitors Do!

Investing in direct mail for customer acquisition? Your competitors are! As their efforts become more proactive and strategic, how do you plan to attract those same customers before your competitors do? Here are three proven strategies for grabbing attention in the mailbox.

  1. Use dimensional mail.

In a stack of envelopes, a padded envelope, a package, or some other three-dimensional mailer gets attention. Usually, these are opened first. While dimensional mailers cost more than flat mailers, they get response rates that can make your mouth water. According to the Direct Marketing Association, dimensional mailers receive response rates 200% – 300% higher than flat mailers. So when your marketing ideas take shape, make it a literal shape!

  1. Try out unusual finishes, folds, and bindings.

Tangible elements are what make the print channel stand out. Consider using some of the many spot coatings, textured coatings, die cuts, pop-outs, and foldouts that your customers don’t see every day. If you have been meaning to investigate fresh new options and still haven’t had an excuse to do it, now you do.

  1. Try new mailing formats.

Not all mailing formats are created equal. There are many different formats available: postcards, folded mailers, mailers placed into envelopes, envelopes that are personalized, envelopes that are not personalized, window envelopes, and more. Envelopes and mailers can be different sizes, thicknesses, and colors. Experiment with colored substrates, clear envelopes, and on-envelope personalization.

It’s time to get noticed! If you need some ideas or want to test new formats, substrates, and finishing options, just ask.

 

What Do Your Mailings Say About You?

Remember the old phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? That’s true in marketing, too. What do your marketing campaigns say about you?

Let’s look at two different approaches.

Dear homeowner,

We’re having a big sale! Come into our showroom this weekend and check out our wide variety of merchandise. You’re sure to find something you can’t resist! Take advantage of big discounts all day!

In the eyes of the recipient, what does this say about the company sending it? It tells her that the company wants to cast a wide net. It just wants to get people in the door as inexpensively as possible.

Now let’s look at another approach.

Dear Michael,

Thanks for being one of our best customers. We’re thrilled that you’ve chosen us for your golfing needs. On Thursday, we’re having an exclusive sale on sporting equipment for our top customers only. Bring in this coupon and get a 25% discount.

What underlying marketing message does this send? It tells the customer that the retailer is interested in him individually and values his long-term customer loyalty. It tells him that the company values his business enough to make an investment in him, by understanding his preferences and needs (through collected data), and by sending him a high-quality communication.

When you send out marketing communications, you are really sending two messages: your written marketing message and a subtle, unspoken message about the recipient’s value to you. Are you sending the right messages?

Want More Sales? Drip It!

What is drip marketing? It is a powerful form of marketing in which marketers gradually “drip” content out to customers and prospects over time. Drip marketing includes a wide variety of channels, including direct mail, email, newsletters, and social media. It can be used for brand building, product introduction, cross-sells, and a variety of other marketing goals.

Let’s look at how one marketer used drip marketing with direct mail to get 1400% ROI.

Phase #1: Step one was sending an eye-catching, high-gloss trifold mailer that grabbed instant attention inside the mailbox. Once the mailer was opened, recipients were greeted with name personalization, relevant text, and a personalized URL that allowed them to enter an email address and download a free, high-value white paper. They were also encouraged to fill out an optional survey to provide the marketer with more insight into their individual needs.

Phase #2: Step two was a follow-up mailing to nonresponders. This mailing built on the name recognition built by the first mailing, but it was tweaked to differentiate the two. The piece also included a personalized URL.

After the second mailing, the marketer was swamped with responses — so much so that the third mailing was delayed for several weeks so that the response team could keep up.

Phase #3: The third mailing went to people who had not responded to the first two mailings. The marketer used an invitation-style A7 envelope with full-color brochure insert, personalized note, and personalized URL. To sweeten the pot, respondents were offered the chance to win a sporting package or high-end coffee brewing system.

The results? The company exceeded its sales goals by 400% and achieved more than 1400% ROI!

What made this program such a success? The marketer understood that sometimes it takes more than one contact to build name recognition and trust. In a drip campaign, each piece builds upon the next, and in the end, you gain results not possible with a single marketing touch.

Want to tap into the power of drip marketing? Give us call!

Data Mining: Not as Hard as You Think

Data mining. The very phrase strikes fear into the hearts of many marketers. The ability to connect the dots to reveal buying habits and other customer behaviors is often seen as complex, expensive, and within the purvey of only the largest companies. But basic data mining is well within the grasp of any sized marketer.

The first step is to understand the field headings in your database. What data are you capturing? Most databases have basic information, such as name, address and purchase history. Are you also capturing information such as age, gender and home ownership? If so, this tells you the types of queries you can run.

Running queries simply means asking questions of the data. If you are a retailer, you might ask, “Which customers purchased hardwood flooring last month?” If you know that these customers are also likely to purchase area rugs and hardwood conditioning products, this gives you a great start.

Run a variety of sorts. Is there a relationship between hardwood flooring and gender? How about income? You might find that data you once thought irrelevant, such as the date of purchase, has more relevance than you think.

Even basic software, such as Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access, provides data mining capabilities that allow you to run sorts yourself. You can also purchase add-on data mining modules or third-party software. There are plenty of outsource providers that specialize in this process, too. Many will use the moniker “business intelligence” or ETL (extract, transform, load) companies. Costs can be very reasonable.

So get curious. Take a few hours to run a variety of sorts just to see what you can find. That curiosity could make a big difference to the bottom line.

Need help? Just ask!