Alphagraphics blog

Category: Brand management

5 Ways Good Customer Service is a Game-Changer for Your Brand

It’s something that’s been drilled into your head since your very first job: “always treat the customer with the utmost respect.” Offering quality customer service is a core tenant of most business’, and for good reason. The difference between good customer service and poor customer service can mean the difference between a sale and a lost conversion. And, more importantly, it can make or break your brand’s reputation. Just how important is the idea of good customer service? Let’s take a look at 5 game-changing scenarios where customer service plays an integral role in how your brand succeeds or fails: 1. Reputation:  Customer service is so important in terms of brand reputation that there are entire digital platforms dedicated to it! From Yelp reviews to Google recommendations, there’s no shortage of metric for evaluating customer service. Not coincidentally, this is also where new and prospective followers of your brand are going to look first. If your customer service is praised, it’s a good chance you’ll gain a positive reputation. 2. Trustworthiness:  People trust those who are nice to them. If you foster a quality relationship with your customers by providing exceptional service, they’ll trust you in other ways—including for recommendations or advice. This opens the door for healthy sales, repeat customers, meaningful interactions and sustainable business. No one is going to do business with someone they can’t trust! 3. Value:  Showcasing a high level of customer service means building the value of your brand and any products it offers. If your products are priced higher than a competitor, for example, you need to instill value in your offerings to help people equate your higher price to a great value to them. Superior customer service is a premier way to do this. If your competitors are cheaper but don’t follow your lead for customer service, their product is going to be diminished by comparison. 4. Brand advocacy:  Have you ever heard the phrase, “…and they’ll tell two more?” It’s in reference to having a positive experience with something. It holds true for great customer service, as well. If your customers receive superior treatment when interacting with your brand, they’ll tell people. When those people have that same experience, they’ll tell people. The domino effect keeps on toppling and, as each person tells two people, your brand advocates grow exponentially. 5. Employee accountability:  Encouraging your staff to offer “above and beyond” customer service creates a level of accountability within your business and helps each team member thrive. If an employee goes the extra mile, recognize their efforts and help them own that interaction. If someone is slacking or not putting in the effort, work with them one on one to help them feel more invested in their interactions. Building a culture of superior customer service means having a team that enjoys doing what they do. Exceptional customer service shows itself in many ways. It could be taking a few extra minutes to help a customer resolve their unique problem. It might mean greeting a regular client with a smile and a friendly conversation. Or, it could mean rising to the occasion to provide a solution that earns the business of an upset customer. Whatever form it takes, however, great customer service equates to all of the above benefits and beyond. Read article →

Update Your Sales Materials for the Upcoming New Year

The New Year is a time that everyone looks forward to, simply because it signals a fresh start: a new opportunity for you to put your best foot forward and kick off the year right. If you’re a small business owner, the New Year is a prime time to consider approaching your sales and marketing materials with fresh eyes and a plan for the future. For many, this means making updates accordingly so that you’re ready to sell, sell, sell over the next calendar year!   Getting the right information out there The problem many small businesses have when it comes to sales and marketing materials is that their products and services are rapidly evolving to meet the demands of their customers and, as a result, the information associated with them is constantly in flux. It’s a good problem to have!   Having up-to-date materials and information in regards to your product and service brochures is essential to the sales process, however. Falling behind on updating this information means not being able to give prospects accurate information, which can lead to miscues during the sales process or worse, a lost sale altogether. If your business is still growing out of its infancy and depends heavily on new sales to fuel that growth, these are troubles you can’t afford to have.   On the flip side, having a spec sheet or sales brochure prepared, complete with current information and clear selling points means cultivating a transparent relationship with a sales prospect. You’ll be giving them everything they need to understand your value proposition and you’ll be generating sales in a passive, yet powerful way by letting these materials speak on your behalf.   Updating your materials the right way   You might look at your sales materials and think, “these are fine, why would I update them,” but it’s important to realize that how you perceive your materials and how your customers view them may be very different. Having the right information, images, layout and design are all integral to the creation of great sales materials:   • Content/information: Hand your existing materials off to someone outside of your industry and ask them to take a look at them—if they can get all of the information they need at a glance, you’ve done your job well. If they’re left asking questions, it’s time to revisit the content of your materials.   • Images: Images and visuals are critical in selling your products and services. Products of course need to be displayed predominantly and in a manner that makes them enticing. Services should also follow this trend, with images supplementing the sales pitch put forth in your copy.   • Layout: Cluttered images, big blocks of text and jumbled sections are all detractors from your sales materials and can convolute someone’s understanding of these materials. Make sure everything is laid out appropriately, in a professional manner that’s appealing to browse and read.   • Design: Do your materials proudly display your company’s branding? Does the color scheme create brand cohesion? Are the text and pictures synergistic in the way they work together on the page? Design is critical in creating superior sales materials.   Unless you’re a print and design specialist, getting all of the above variables can be a major challenge when it comes to updating your sales and marketing materials for the year ahead. To make sure you’re going about a refresh the right way, consult with your local AlphaGraphics professional. We’ll help you transform your sales sheets and brochures into critical components of your core sales strategy and make sure they speak volumes about your business, in a way that attracts sales and closes deals. Read article →

Enhancing Your SEO Efforts with Strategic SEM Campaigns

When you get into the wide world of online marketing, the importance of SEO is constantly pressed upon you. Without a good grip on what search engine optimization is and how it works, you’re bound to fall down the rankings and lose valuable face time with customers as competitors continually rank over you. But, just as important as SEO is a less talked about acronym: SEM or search engine marketing.   Any good SEO effort is bolstered with a strategic SEM campaign and if you’re not privy to what SEM is and how it works, you might be losing valuable traction to those who understand that online marketing is a two-headed beast.   Understanding SEM   Whereas SEO is the on-page optimization of your website to help it list better for relevant searches, SEM is what you’re doing off-page to enhance your presence through Google and other search engines. In a more watered down sense, SEM is paid search advertising—usually pay per click (PPC)—that shows up in search engine page results (SERPs).   SEM is a modern, digital form of soliciting people at the point of inquiry. Think of it like a salesperson at your local hardware store: if you ask them a question, they’ll give you a response that directly addresses that question. Google and other search engines are your hardware store where you can ask questions and PPC ads are your way of giving customers the response they’re looking for.   Why is SEM important?   There are a number of reasons why SEM is an integral part of any good online marketing campaign and a complement to SEO practices. Take a look at just a few reasons:   - SEM can be tailored to fit your needs, whether you’re trying to funnel leads to your website or get the word out about a new product or service. Like any form of advertisement, you’re in control of the message.   - You can gauge the intent of your prospective customers and target demographic with SEM ads, based on what people are searching for and what SERPs your ads are displayed on.   - SEM ads float straight to the top of the pile on SERPs, which means even if you’re ranking poorly for some SEO keywords, you’ll still make the front page. This can also boost your SEO efforts in helping your target demographic to relate certain keywords with your business.   - There are millions of searches each day, most of which don’t apply to you or your website. Having SEM that’s targeted and tailored means a better chance of reaching that small group of searchers who are actually trying to find you.   - You can measure SEM efforts with tangible data! Any good marketer knows that results come from refined data and tailored approaches—having SEM data to give you these hard facts means a more measured approach to marketing yourself online.   Kick your SEM efforts into gear   If you’re not engaged in SEM practices or you’re still throwing ideas at the proverbial wall to see what sticks, perhaps it’s time to take a new approach to understanding and implementing SEM. Take a step back, consult with a marketing professional and make sure your approach and goals are defined. And, if you really want to make a splash on SERPs, let AlphaGraphics help you create a campaign that’s targeted at success. Read article →

Five Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Email marketing can be one of the most beneficial and direct ways to market to specific groups and demographics—however it can also be one of the most fruitless if done incorrectly. There’s a fine line between great email marketing and an email that’s going to be kicked into the trash or worse, one that doesn’t even make it past the spam filter. Take a look at five ways you can make sure that your email marketing campaign is treading on the side of success, rather than floundering when it hits a customer’s inbox:  
  • Personalize your messages: Through the use of integration tags and other snippets of code, you can create tailored emails that are completely unique to the different customers you’re sending them to. This will ensure that your recipients feel appreciated, rather than just marketed to like one of the masses. Some personalization tips include designating the customer’s name, rather than their email address in the “To:” section, inserting their name in the greeting of the email and integrating other known information throughout the email, such as past account activities on a certain website.
  • Get to the point: The last thing people want to see when they open up their email is a huge wall of text—nothing is going to put your email in the trash faster. Instead, get to the point of what you’re trying to say and make sure that your clear selling points or important objectives are laid out in a way that’s quickly recognized by your reader. If you’re offering a percentage of the price of an item for sale, make that clear; if you’re hosting an event, make sure that the details are front and center; and if you’re introducing something brand new to a select few email recipients, let your reader know how important they are! Graphics and images go a long way in these scenarios and staying close to the main point is always a good idea.
  • Filter your mailing lists: The quickest way to get someone to unsubscribe from your email list is to inundate them with emails. So how are you supposed to send weekly emails, monthly newsletters, sporadic special emails and other company communications without overloading your customers? Easy: let people pick and choose what they want to get from you. Some people may love getting everything you have to send, while others might only be interested in your monthly newsletter recap—whatever the case, you’ll retain that customer and be able to market to them in a way that they’re comfortable.
  • Make your emails worth reading: Along the same lines as points #2 and #3 above, be sure that the email you’re sending is full of information or opportunities that people actually care about! You need to look at your email through the eyes of your customers and consider what the value is that they’re going to be getting from it. If it’s a memo about your company’s new partnership with another organization, customers might not be all too interested—on the other hand, if it’s an email about a blowout sale you’re having and all of the great deals you have to offer, it’s much easier to see the value in this message!
  • Time your emails: The time of day you send your emails can greatly dictate the likeliness that they’re opened and read, as well as responded to in some way, shape or form. For example, sending an email at 2 a.m. would generally mean that your message is going to sit around in an inbox until morning, when someone opens it up. By this time, your email might be buried under other morning communications and it might be disregarded as a result. On the other hand, if you send your email at 12 p.m., it might be just in time for someone to get it while they’re setting up for lunch, where they’ll leisurely be able to read what you have to say and potentially respond to it. Timing is everything—figure out when your customers are most active with their emails and plan around this time to send your communications.
  By researching, practicing and implementing these five tips for your email campaigns, you’re bound to see better traction and higher return rates from your digital marketing campaigns. Spend a little time considering how your existing email campaigns can be improved by the factors listed above and you’re sure to see a higher return on your investment of time and effort! Read article →

Building a Brand Through Exceptional Graphic Design

A good brand name has many facets in its arsenal: aspects which make up our perception of that brand—we feel a certain way when we hear the brand name, think a certain thought when that brand comes to mind and act a certain way when presented with an option to become an advocate for that brand. In short, branding is one of the most powerful tools in the world of advertising.   But which component of your brand should you focus on most when it comes to laying a solid foundation for the future maturity of your reputation among customers and within the industry? Is there even a singular aspect that can give you a head start?   The answer lies in graphic design . Graphic design can invariably be considered one of the core facets of a brand and everything that comes with it. A brand with the right graphic design elements is a brand that’s going to spark all of the unconscious responses that you want it to.   A picture is worth a thousand words   It’s one of the oldest clichés in the business: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” But, just because it’s a little overused at this point doesn’t make it any less truthful in the world of branding. The bottom line is this: your visual representation of your brand is going to create the biggest impression on your customers. We live in a world of advertising where people tend to be dissuaded by words and captivated by pictures, which means getting your visuals down is paramount from the beginning. Starting with a solid visual foundation prevents future issues such as inconsistency in branding, alterations to visual materials that may confuse customers or even rebranding, which can cost valuable market share in lost reputation.   Every image that’s disseminated by your brand—whether it’s a logo, magazine ad, website banner or television commercial—makes a mark on the audience who sees and digests it. If each of your images truly speaks volumes about your business, you’ll communicate far more about your brand than you might realize, creating advocates and sparking interest with more precision than you may have thought possible.   What defines good graphic design?   Graphic design is one of those core creative skills that takes a true artist’s eye to navigate: meaning not just anyone can be a graphic designer and not just any graphic designer can produce the high quality work that you need to build your brand. So, how do you separate the good from the bad from the ugly?   Good graphic design starts with the right designer, first and foremost. A good designer will be able to work with your vision, present you with different variations of your vision as it applies to materials and can even help advise you on how to streamline, refine and improve your visuals. From there, it’s as easy as revising and improving until you have your brand’s imagery.   What distinguishes great graphic design work from mediocre or poor graphic design work is the level of skill and dedication that goes into it. You’re certain to get better results from a consultation meeting with a skilled graphic designer, than you are from tossing a couple of bucks at a friend of a friend to do the same job!   Finally, one last thing that all good graphic design incorporates is authenticity. Remember, your brand’s visuals are going to speak volumes about your brand and everything that’s associated with it: it’s best to make sure that you’re projecting uniqueness when that happens. Create original works, work with images that are different from everything else in your industry and put together materials that are distinguishable as your brand’s.   Going all in for graphic design   Whether your brand is basically nonexistent or booming into something more and more respectable each day, graphic design remains a core element of your growth—and a main element at that! Make sure that you’re putting the proper resources and effort into bolstering your brand with exceptional graphical materials and you’ll reap the benefits of your labors quickly and sustainably.   Remember, a brand is made up of many facets: make sure that people are thinking, feeling and acting a certain way about your brand by delivering these instructions to them through superior imagery and branded design. Read article →
December 01 / 2014

Consistency is Key in Branding

Think about a big brand—any big brand. What comes to mind about that brand? Is it the products that it offers? How about the slogan that it stands behind? What about the visual images that it advertises and markets? Chances are, it’s going to be all three, but more so the third option: the visual images that are associated with that brand.   Visual images are tremendously powerful in the world of marketing, advertising and branding, simply because they hold the most power over an audience. Whether it’s a picture in a magazine or a web banner advertisement, the visuals that we collect and store in our minds about a company are supremely important in how we come to view and understand that brand. That’s what makes consistency so important!   Go back to your mental image of a brand and start thinking about all the different images that you’ve seen and collected for that brand—advertisements, signage, packaging, etc. What do you notice about the visual materials that you’ve seen over the years? Could it be that everything seems to fit together seamlessly, like it’s all part of one big image?   This is exactly the idea that brand builders are going for: everything you see in regards to a brand is just part of the bigger picture; just pieces of the puzzle that help you paint the whole picture in your mind.   Keeping it constant   There are certain elements of brand building that help a brand to remain consistent over time. Things like color, tone, object visuals and more all blend together to form concepts: concepts that are repeated across different brand campaigns. Let’s look at a hugely popular example: Apple’s iPod commercials.   We’ve all seen Apple’s iPod commercials, filled with silhouettes of people dancing, with the only color representing their attached iPods. The music is upbeat, the style of the silhouettes are hip and trendy, and every commercial is structured pretty much the same. In effect, you know exactly what brand is providing you with the commercial, no matter if you’ve seen it a million times or you’re looking at a brand new version of the campaign.   Because Apple elected to keep its branding the same across each of its iPod campaign commercials, it helped to form a schema in the mind of consumers, effectively eliminating their need to struggle to recognize a brand and instead, allowing them to make the connection instantly! Apple eliminated the middleman: the process of learning about a brand over and over again.   Mastering recognition   Apple isn’t the only brand who has figured out that brand recognition is the key to an improved brand perception: just about every company worth its salt has begun to look for new ways to decrease the time it takes to process a branding message and increase the impact that that message has once it’s internalized.   But, mastering brand recognition isn’t something that’s achieved overnight: it can take years and years, depending on the variables you’re using—namely the visuals that you’re working with. People need to truly internalize what you’re showing them before they’re going to make both conscious and unconscious connections regarding your brand. Once your target demographic learns the markers that define your brand, they’ll be more apt to employ them when signals point towards your brand and its messages.   And it all starts with visual messages. Because pictures and images are one of the first and strongest things we recall about a brand, building the recognition you want starts with easily internalized images. Logos, lettering, color schemes and products are all ideal ways to create cognizance about your brand in repetition—and, put them all together and you’ve got a recipe for campaigns that points to a bigger picture!   Leave nothing out   Consistency can be one of the biggest and most valuable assets that your brand has and it’s truly a feature that will separate you from other brands that are less equipped to make a lasting impression on your target audience. But, consistency can only be achieved fully if you commit to it on a full-scale branding level: this means everything from your business cards to national advertisements.   Because branding is a multi-level effort, the consistency of branding must also be realized on many levels. When it is, everything that your business produces will be instantly recognizable as unique to you—whether it’s an official memo on company branded letterhead or a full marketing campaign that perfectly ties together. Read article →
November 19 / 2014

Branding Your Company – It’s More Than Just a Logo

When people think of a brand they are automatically reminded of a logo. But is that the most important part of a brand’s image? And furthermore, is that where you should start if you’re looking to brand/re-brand your company?   (more…) Read article →

Consistently Communicating Your Brand

As our world has evolved and our communications paradigm has not just shifted, but rather completely transformed, it is more important than ever to take a holistic approach to all of your customer-facing interactions. When you are creating your sales and marketing plans, which are key to your branding and identity, where does the role of public relations fit in?  For many businesses, it is thought of as a unique part of the marketing mix—a few press releases to announce charitable contributions, new business openings, new hires—the expected items that you should, well, send a press release about, right? (more…) Read article →

Combining Online and Offline to Strengthen the Brand

Integrating your SEO and other online efforts with the strong branding of your printed materials to present a unified message across both channels is one of the best ways to increase your reach and build a positive ROI. Customer expectations have changed a lot over the years, and reaching them with a strong, branded message requires a much more integrated approach than it once did. There are several channels that a company can employ to stand out from the competition and attract new customers, and even small businesses can present their brand and reach new customers with a clear and professional marketing message. (more…) Read article →