Category: Direct Marketing
Marketing for small businesses is all about getting to know your local customer base. The flower shop with a 20-mile delivery radius or the bike shop that offers service to customers throughout the surrounding 10-mile areas—these are examples of businesses that have a finite customer base. Being able to recognize and appeal to that customer base is the secret to marketing success, and print marketing could play a huge role in that success. While it’s more important than ever for local businesses to optimize their online presence, there’s also tremendous advantage of presenting a physical reminder of your existence within a particular service area. Sending out EDDM postcards or handing out brochures at a community event can have a profoundly more impactful effect than emails or social media posts. With print comes presence The physicality of print marketing collateral is its biggest asset. When you hand a potential customer a business card or tack up a flyer at your local coffee shop, you’re making a statement that’s real, in more ways than one. And, when you operate a business that exists in the real world—in a local community with a defined presence—representing your physicality with print collateral is doubly effective. To make an even more impactful statement with print marketing, local businesses can even take a stance in their communities. Passing out handouts at a local festival or canvassing local businesses with brochures are ways to reinforce your presence in a physical way. Print is personable One of the biggest problems with digital marketing is how impersonal it can be. Even an email addressed to you pales in comparison to a piece of general print collateral that’s physically handed to you by a person. And, when you consider the many finishes, paper stocks and embossing options of print materials, it becomes very easy to create character with print. Any sales rep will tell you that being able to put a physical piece of paper in the hands of a prospective customer is the very best way to make a first impression. For local small businesses, this is an easy, lasting way to introduce your business and your brand to the finite number of patrons who may indulge you. The accessibility of print Finally, print is supremely accessible for brick-and-mortar businesses—not only in how it’s made, but also in how it’s deployed. You can print a banner or window signage and put it up for all to see, all without collecting a single email address or soliciting a single person. There’s a very passive philosophy to print marketing that benefits local businesses by creating exposure without the pressure of a direct solicitation. And when it comes to obtaining print marketing, there are few barriers to overcome. Print is affordable, making it easy for virtually any small business to budget. It’s also versatile—from large print signage to small handouts, business cards to brochures and beyond. And, of course, if there’s an AlphaGraphics near you, print is also incredibly easy to customize. With design and print professionals on staff, we can help you create the print collateral you need to help your local small business flourish. Stop in today or get in touch with your local AlphaGraphics to learn more about the power of print marketing for local small businesses. Read article →
May 31 / 2017
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that direct mail has a response rate that’s more than 30 times greater than email marketing. The business is expected to increase in value more than 225 percent by 2024. And this is just a single facet of print marketing today! Billions of business cards and mail advertisements are printed and distributed annually in the United States, and for good reason: customers still like their paper and are more likely to act on it compared to many forms of digital marketing. This isn’t the only reason print marketing is surging, either. The efficiency of print While businesses often feel pressure to go digital in various aspects, modern advances in printing technology have made physical printing more efficient than in the past. Companies can request small numbers of prints on-demand and still have it be cost-efficient. Previously, mass offset printing required a much larger quantity of materials to be printed in order for the printing to be worth the cost, due to the higher set-up costs. Digital printing also allows materials to be produced at a local level, providing advertisers with their materials to distribute much quicker. The return on investment of on-demand printing Printing small projects on-demand—such as promotional materials—is made possible with digital printing. Companies receive a printing order (usually in smaller numbers) and print them as the order is received and processed. The costs with on-demand printing are much smaller for smaller orders due to the set-up costs associated with offset printing methods. Various promotional materials can be produced cheap thanks to digital printing. Materials for key chains and pens can be printed in an affordable, quick manner for trade shows. Mailed advertisements with coupon codes are also commonly produced, as customers are more likely to interact with them compared to an email advertisement. Signs that you see at many stores, including banners and various promotional signs, are often printed through digital printing. All of these examples illustrate the benefit of physical over digital—in cost, tangibility and value. Being able to affordably print a product that can be touched and seen in the real world is equating to a higher return on investment for many businesses in today’s crowded digital marketplace. Versatility is always in-demand Digital marketing has its limits. Pop-up ads can only be so effective and email marketing is often hit or miss. Where these mediums may fail, the versatility of print marketing often succeeds. This makes it an extremely viable complement to digital advertising. Printing packaging for products or branding merchandise for promotions is an undeniable way to improve your marketing capabilities. People may click out of your brand’s pop-ups or delete its emails, but they’re bound to notice packaging or take note of the branded swag you give them. Why? Because these items are tangible and real—more than just pixels that lack form and function. In this way, a wide number of products can be physically printed and successfully used as marketing collateral. From apparel to banners, promo materials to packaging, vehicle signage to brochures and beyond, there’s virtually no limit to the versatility of print products. If you’re looking for ways to ramp-up your advertising and marketing, it may be time to go back to basics. In a digital world, print marketing is thriving once again. See for yourself how print collateral can complement your digital advertising and consult with an AlphaGraphics marketing specialist today. Read article →
March 20 / 2017
Fall is the gateway to winter and, by extension, the heralding force before the holiday season. If you’re part of a charitable organization, you know all too well the potential that the season of giving has when it comes to collecting donations. It’s no coincidence that fall is the prime time of year when many not-for-profit causes send out ask letters and donation solicitations! Asking for money is never easy and, in fact, for charitable organizations who solicit donations, it’s often an uphill battle to collect for your cause. Too many attempts can be off-putting, too few attempts can leave people forgetting about your efforts, and an improperly-worded ask letter can leave people soured on giving. To be truly effective in bringing in donations, you need to find a silver bullet: a single letter that inspires people to donate and feel good about doing so. A personal touch Variable data is the first step towards creating a donation solicitation that’s truly effective. Nothing will send your letter to the circular file faster than a generic tone or a “fill in the blank” quality that makes the recipient feel like you’re just after their money. Personalizing core elements of your ask letter can immediately set the tone of your plea for donations:
- Variable printing the name of each recipient lets them know that you recognize them. “Dear sir/ma’am” or “to whom it may concern” will never be as attention-grabbing or meaningful as “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Hi, John.”
- Use past information to generate a unique ask. Something simple such as “last year you donated $50 to our cause” or “will you match last year’s pledge of $100 this year” will let them know you remember and appreciate their past generosity.
- Pair accomplishments with a recipient’s donation for maximum effectiveness. “We enjoyed seeing you at the Jones Park BBQ in July” or “your contribution made the South Shore Movie Night a huge success” are ways to connect further with potential pledges.
- Use variable data printing to print unique donation QR codes on letters. When recipients scan codes to donate, you’ll be able to track who’s donating, how much they’re pledging, how many days after the mailing they donate and more.
- Print return envelopes for check donations that already have the recipient’s address, your address and prepaid postage on them. In doing so, you’ve removed all barriers from the donation, while also ensuring you can track who’s sending a donation back, how much, which addresses are incorrect/not up to date, etc.
November 01 / 2016
When’s the last time your small business sent out a physical piece of mail to customers? Chances are, it wasn’t very recently. In fact, just about the only companies who have gone out of their way to keep direct mail part of their core marketing group are Fortune 500s! Why? Because for many small businesses, email serves the same purpose and can be accomplished for cheaper, if not free. Email marketing touts a lot of benefits that direct mail does not, however it also has one major drawback that’s often not considered: it can be trashed without even being looked at. Recipients can take one look at the sender’s name and know in an instant if they want to read it or dispose of it without even opening the message. In this way, email marketing can be instantly ineffective. Not coincidentally, the major weakness of email is the same reason that, for the first time in nearly a decade, direct mail is resurging as a viable marketing option for small businesses. More specifically, the option of Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) via the United States Postal Service (USPS). Junk mail? Think again! The idea of “junk mail” is something that has long been a burden on direct mail campaigns. Since the 80s and especially in the 90s, direct mail advertising was the premier way to put your marketing message in front of customers. As a result, far too many companies jockeyed for face time through the mailbox, leading to mountains of advertisements that simply became fodder for the trash. Simply put: consumers became trained to discard any mail that even hinted at an advertisement! Today, however, junk mail is far less prolific and more often than not, the advertisements in our mailboxes are from companies we subscribe to, regarding products we’re generally interested in. As a result, we spend a few more crucial seconds looking at mail before we decide what to do with it. Conversely, email not contains the majority of our junk mail. The bottom line is that direct mail advertising is primed for a comeback (and already reinventing itself!), with the caveat that marketers need to learn from the mistakes of past decades. Some of these hard lessons learned include:
- Creating a clear, concise and feasible call to action. Today, incorporating websites, QR codes and individualized codes are made possible through smartphones.
- Using variable printing to engage customers right from the get-go. “Our neighbor” or “valued customer” might seem like nice salutations, but they remind customers they’re not being viewed as an individual, just as a member of your marketing demographic.
- Running multiple campaigns or the same campaign within too short of a window will put you on the shortlist to the trash can. Space your campaigns and re-tool them appropriately.
- Map a specific distribution area for your campaign, which helps you define your geographic service area on a more refined level.
- Control your mailer drop rates, to ensure you’re not overloading recipients with too-frequent advertisement campaigns.
- Gauge the cost of your specific campaign based on drop area and frequency.
June 08 / 2016
The secret to running a good business is planning and organization. When you’re able to plan ahead and organize your approach to the future, it bodes well for your ability to keep things running smoothly on all fronts—especially when it comes to budgeting. With the end of the fiscal year in our sights, now is the prime time to start budgeting for 2016 and that means taking a good, long, hard look at the expenses you’re going to be faced with over the next year and taking the time to allocate funds to all of the essential components of your business. Perhaps the most important of these allocations is the money you’ll be dedicating to your marketing and branding budget. Planning for marketing perfection Marketing your small business shouldn’t be a fly by night approach—it needs to be something that’s well thought out and planned with specificities in mind. Budgeting and planning in advance of the upcoming year’s marketing and branding efforts is a first step in the right direction so that you’re not slinging money you don’t really have at half baked marketing ideas. Now, it may be hard to sit down and plan out multiple campaigns a year in advance or figure out exactly how much you’re going to have to set aside to accomplish the marketing you want to in the coming year, which is why it behooves every small business owner to consult with an expert when setting up their budget. At AlphaGraphics, we enjoy sitting down with small business owners during the early stages of budgeting, because it allows us to help our clients grow positively over the course of the coming year. In knowing your wants, needs, goals, budget and ideas, we can help you create an airtight marketing plan for the future, complete with pricing and timelines that will keep you out of the black when you’re reviewing your expenses this same time next year! Inventory, plan and promote Print materials and signage are going to be core components of any marketing campaign you undertake and thankfully, these components are easy to price out and quote—even a year in advance. This is why, at a minimum, it’s a great idea for you to consider the physicality’s of your marketing platform and get your ducks in a row when planning for 2016. Where do you start? Easy! Start with what you have! Take a look at your signage inventory, your collection of printed products from the previous year and anything else you may have invested in during prior months and see if these things can be reused or repurposed for campaigns in the future. Qualifying your inventory is going to cut down on costs—even if it’s just reusing a sale sign from a past event or digging into your stock of fliers and handouts. Once you know what you have, figure out what you need. Again, this is where an AlphaGraphics marketing professional can come in and help you to get a better handle on the future of your marketing endeavors. Whether it’s printed fliers, direct mail, promotional materials, business cards, brochures or anything else, realizing your needs during the initial planning process is going to keep you within your budget and eliminate superfluous costs that can creep up on the unplanned marketer. Finally, once you know what you have and what you need, you’ll need to set the ball rolling on these items. Break down your marketing campaigns and attach dollar values to these things throughout the year; break down different print and sign products so you have itemized budgets; lock in pricing wherever possible to eliminate flux in your budget—all of these things and more will help you enter the new year with a better handle on what your marketing efforts and funds look like on paper. Plan ahead and reap the rewards When you’re running a business, it’s hard to set anything on autopilot. Luckily, if you’re proactive in your planning and take the time to sit down to look at what you’ll need in the future, you can cement a few variables early on—namely your marketing for the upcoming year and the funds you’ll need to set them in motion. Give your local AlphaGraphics center a call today to learn more about how we can help you take the reigns of your marketing plan for 2016 and what we can do to make this all-important part of your business just a little bit easier in the coming year! Read article →
November 23 / 2015
The real estate market, like any market, is governed by supply and demand. For a seller bringing their home to market, it’s all about creating demand for that unique home; for prospective homebuyers, it’s about having enough homes and enough variety to choose from. It’s simple economics. What’s not so simple, however, is creating demand for singular components of the market: or, in layman’s terms, generating interest in a home as it relates to others on the market. If a home you’re trying to sell is put side by side with other, similar homes on the market, what’s going to make people choose it over another that might be just like it with a more flexible price point? It’s something that every realtor has to think about and overcome if they’re going to help their clients succeed. Distinguishing a home starts with understanding the power of vertical marketing within the real estate niche and utilizing the right advertising mediums to generate better bids for potential buyers. Multi-channel advertising to bolster your home’s image How do people search for homes in today’s day and age? Most people head online to their favorite real estate hub. Some people still buy the paper for the classifieds section. Some people visit a real state office. No matter where they go to get information about available real estate one thing remains certain: if the information about a home isn’t accessible through the channel they’re visiting, they’re likely not going to know about that home. This is what makes multi-channel real estate marketing so valuable to you as a realtor. By utilizing every vertical channel within the real estate market to leverage a home, you can target a wider audience, cast a wider net and reel in a buyer that’s going to pay the right price for the home you’re helping to sell. But multi-channel marketing isn’t always easy and it takes the right tools and materials to not only reach everyone, but to entice people that you do reach. In short, the home you’re pitching needs to be appealing, accessible and worthwhile for anyone who might be interested. Utilizing the right materials Generating interest in a home in every available marketing channel comes down to having the right materials at your disposal and a message that prompts people to act. Take a look at a few of the modern marketing methods good realtors use to help boost the value of their clients’ properties:
- Online advertisements: By utilizing geo-tagged keywords, buzzwords and appealing imagery, realtors can create targeted online ads that funnel online users to your home’s web listing.
- Postcards: Postcards are by no means an antiquated form of advertising and are actually making a resurgence in the real estate marketing niche of all places! By coupling intriguing postcards and appealing messaging with targeted lists and every door direct mail (EDDM) campaigns, realtors are able to get the word out about your home to people who are actively looking to pull up roots and set them down elsewhere.
- Email templates: A good email goes a long way when it comes to generating interest in your home, simply because an enticing email can open the door to all forms of interaction with your home’s online listing. Link it to the listing, hyperlink your phone number, enable email responders, etc.—these options and more will get people interacting with your listing so that you can field offers in real time.
- Video tours: With a video tour in your repertoire of marketing materials, potential buyers won’t even have to leave their seats to see what a home has to offer. These tours can give people a basic glimpse into a home and generate excitement before a showing, to up the “wow” factor of the real thing when they finally come for an open house or walkthrough. It’s a nice primer that often lends to the value of the home, driving up the perceived and actual value.
- Slideshows: The more you can show someone about a home before they visit, the more reasons they have to visit. Slideshows, like video tours, are a great way to give people a glimpse of the home before they visit. Giving people pictures of the interior and exterior can get them thinking and envisioning themselves in those areas and slowly, people get attached to these homes. All of this leads to concreteness when it comes to maintaining the home’s market price!
- Restoration photos: If you’re pitching a home that has had work done, showing before and after pictures really ramps up the value. People like to see what they’re getting for their money and what better way to show them than what could have been! Whether it’s new moldings, restored floors, a finished basement or something else, giving people a true peek into the upgrades that have been made to a home can really cement the asking price at a higher level.
June 26 / 2015
Given the prospect of investing time, money and resources in a direct mail campaign, many advertisers would likely pass and opt for something digital. For many campaigns, passing up on a direct mail campaign can be a costly mistake—especially if that direct mail campaign is an Every Door Direct Mail Campaign (EDDM) through the United States Postal Service. What makes an EDDM campaign right for your advertising and marketing needs? When should you decline a digital marketing platform for a more traditional one? How can you raise your odds of seeing positive results from an EDDM campaign? Take a look at some of the opportune instances where taking the direct mail route might just be the best thing you can do for your advertising campaign: When your target audience is geographically based. If you’re marketing to a select audience of people, all confined within a specific geographic area, nothing beats an EDDM campaign. This is an optimal investment for brick and mortar stores and those businesses that are restricted by their location. Being able to “carpet bomb” local area neighborhoods with your advertisement ensures that the people seeing what you have to say are also the people who are most likely to take advantage of it. When you’re looking for new customers. Email marketing is fine and dandy for reaching out to an audience you already know… but what about those people who don’t know you or your business? Rather than spending countless dollars on pre-compiled customer lists or ramping up your digital marketing to find new customers, why not use a good ‘ol EDDM campaign to make some new friends for your business? When you have a time-based event. People can go for days or even weeks without checking their inboxes online, but one thing’s for sure: everybody gets their mail on a daily basis. If you’re advertising a limited time offer or have time restrictions on something you’re marketing, you want to make sure that people see that message as soon as possible. EDDM puts your message in the hands of customers when they need to see it, not after the fact or days down the line. When you want to reach a large audience on a small budget. It’s the age old question of “how can I get the most stuff for the lowest cost?” Generally, you’d end up finding a compromise that either leaves you paying more than you want to or getting less than you desire—with an EDDM campaign, there’s no compromise at all! EDDM campaigns are highly cost effective and cover a huge swatch of geographic area, giving you more for less. When you’re coordinating campaigns. If you’re a seasoned marketer, you understand the effectiveness of cross platform and multi-level marketing. This means complementing your marketing efforts on every front possible, including physical advertising. Many marketers forget that direct mail is a staple they can rely on and with an EDDM campaign supplementing your email blast, PPC ads, radio spots and more, you’ll reach a wider audience with a more cohesive message. These are just a few instances where EDDM can improve your business’ marketing efforts. And, with EDDM still just beginning to pique the interest of advertising professionals everywhere, you can stay ahead of the curve. AlphaGraphics is here to assist you as your EDDM marketing professional and we’re more than happy to help you design and deliver your direct mail—whether you’re in a position to capitalize on one of the above situations or you’ve carved out an opportunity of your own that would benefit from direct mail success. Read article →
February 23 / 2015