Alphagraphics blog

Variable Data Printing Can Improve Ask Letter Effectiveness

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.

The more information you have, the more you can make it work to the fullest by incorporating it into your ask letter. Variable data printing makes it possible to customize a basic ask letter in such a way that by the time you send it out, each copy has its own personalized touch that makes it unique to the recipient.

Unique identifiers

It’s important to use variable data to bring your ask letter full circle. This means not only customizing a letter for each recipient, but also creating a way to reap more information and see your return on each mailing. For example:

  • 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.

Variable data printing has immense potential to raise the bar for your organization’s next ask letter or donation solicitation. Instead of sending out a basic, uniform letter and hoping for the best, consult with AlphaGraphics today to turn each letter into a unique and meaningful appeal.

November 01 / 2016

5 Ways Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Will Benefit Your Small Business

Let’s face it: small business marketing is done chiefly online these days. The Internet is its own ecosystem and learning to properly project your business’ brand within that ecosystem can lead to some amazing results—results that your newspaper ad or billboard could never even dream of achieving.

As a small business owner you’ve probably heard a lot about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but maybe not as much about Search Engine Marketing (SEM). And while they’re both important to master for your business to thrive online, SEM can be particularly beneficial to budding businesses when used appropriately.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways SEM can positively boost your business’ abilities and why it makes sense to spend some time learning the ins and outs of marketing through Google directly with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads and other forms of direct advertisement.

1. Conversion tracking: Virtually everything having to do with SEM is measureable. Want to know how many people clicked on your ad? What time of day they clicked? Which of two ads was more popular? Thanks to quantifiable data, all of these questions and more can be answered. Not only does this give you insight into what works, it also allows you to change what doesn’t. And, at the end of the day, you can match up your investment to your sales conversions to see just how effective your SEM campaigns are.

2. Targeted advertising: Gone are the days of marketing to anyone who will give your ad a second glance! Thanks to SEM, targeting a specific audience is more viable than ever before. Get as granular as you need for a specific campaign or focus on a niche based on your message. The depth of control you have over an SEM campaign is astounding, which means you have the power to shape your marketing like never before. Target keywords, age, geographic location, gender, hobbies/interests and more to see if your message is reaching the right people.

3. Controlled advertising: Thanks to SEM, you’re the master of your own ad campaign. You can choose when your ad runs, what your budget is, which devices will see your ad, where your ad will run and more. This is extremely important for small businesses who need to make smart moves on a limited budget! Being able to tailor your campaign around your needs means control like never before over how your advertisement dollars are working for you.

4. Ongoing exposure: Even after your latest SEM campaign has run its course, you might still be reaping the benefits of your digital exposure. Thanks to cookies and sophisticated tracking technology, you can advertise to great effect on other platforms such as social media, with significant overlap! Users will keep seeing your ads wherever they go online, which helps boost exposure and keep the ball rolling on your marketing, even after you’ve pulled your PPC ad. Moreover, if no one clicks on your ads, you don’t pay, which means free advertising!

5. Instant exposure: Trying to shout your name out online is like shouting into the void—with so many other companies trying to do the same, you’re not likely to be heard unless you have a plan. SEM puts you front and center with your customers, to give you an opportunity to speak to them, without shouting at them. Most PPC ads are front-page on Google and targeted ads occupy prime real estate on other websites. Positioning your brand front and center means getting the best chance to appeal.

As you plan your next online marketing campaign, look for SEM opportunities to maximize its effectiveness. When utilized appropriately, SEM could just be your small business’ secret weapon. Consult with an AlphaGraphics marketing professional today to learn how you can master search engine marketing!

Is a Social Media Presence Worth It for Your Business?

These days, social media is everywhere. It’s not just Facebook and Twitter, either—it’s Snapchat and LinkedIn and Instagram and many more! Look around on the Internet and virtually everyone says your business needs a social media presence to stay relevant.

Certainly many companies have used social media to engage customers successfully. But does that mean you should do it too? Here are some pros and cons for small businesses who might be thinking about expanding their social media presence:

Shows corporate responsibility

Social media is an ideal way to show your customers that you care about the community. Any time your employees are involved in volunteering or otherwise engaging the community, you can share that with current and potential customers.

Optimizing localization of social media is key to having an impact. You can create content that is intimately linked to your locale to show that you’re more than just a business.

Develop a stronger brand image

By being present in customers’ everyday lives, you have an opportunity to show them what makes your company stand apart from the competition. Emphasize the unique products and solutions you offer and leverage these intricacies to build your brand.

Through social media, your store can become known for offering professional services and products of the highest caliber—not just because you say so, but because current and former customers say so publically as well.

Engage in two-way communication

Never before has it been easier to talk directly to customers and potential customers. Responding to individual customer concerns on social media demonstrates that you’re doing your best to put the customer first.

Remember that customers have no problem with complaining on social media. Having a public forum for complaints is bad enough, but handling a customer complaint poorly could damage your reputation. Ensure that you handle every criticism—no matter how ridiculous—with respect.

Integrate into today’s communication

Customers, especially millennials, expect your company to have a social media presence. It’s how customers learn your story. For better or worse, social media is the way people interact with the world now. Those who don’t embrace it risk being left behind, however those who embrace it poorly could actively be doing damage to their business’ reputation.

Requires clear goals and metrics

One of the biggest problems with marketing through social media is that it’s time-consuming. You need to find out how best to reach your customers and keep close track of how engagement efforts are proceeding.

Without clear objectives for what you want social media to do—such as an increase in sales in certain sectors or engaging customers of a specific demographic—you risk wasting your precious time.

Before you start building a social media presence, ask yourself if it’s something you should be doing or if it’s a task best left for someone else. Consider the power that comes with a good social media presence and the damage that can come from a poorly maintained one. And, above all, make sure you’re thinking critically about everything you do when it comes to social media, since this is the most transparent vehicle for your company to build a brand with.

The bottom line is that if you’re going to embrace social media, you need a comprehensive strategy. You should look to enhance the brand while meeting specific goals for your own shop. Ultimately, each small business will have to decide if social media is right for them.

September 28 / 2016

Streamline Corporate Training Materials with AG Online

At AlphaGraphics, we’re always looking to make our printing and marketing services more convenient for our customers. We know that a business leader’s most valuable resource is time—and that’s why we’ve introduced AGOnline: our automated, cloud-based ordering system.

First and foremost, AGOnline is a quick and convenient way to order the materials you need to run your business in a day-to-day capacity, But, did you know that it’s also an ideal way to simplify training for every employee coming on board? That’s right: we can help you get the training materials you need to facilitate a streamlined onboarding process.

How the AGOnline process works for your business

The AGOnline process is as streamlined as it gets. With just a set of login credentials and a specially designed digital storefront, you’ll have access to a full catalog of materials for order and re-order. Here’s how it works:

  • You submit your order or online list of materials;
  • We receive the order in real time and process it;
  • The customized materials are delivered directly to you!

This is ideal for companies with universal training documents that need to frequently be reordered. AGOnline makes this incredibly simple with one-click, on-demand ordering.

Let’s take the example of a legal services firm. They’re going to need a bevy of materials for training, such as courtroom displays, contracts, briefs and filing documents. They can quickly and efficiently order these documents whenever they need them. Their unique catalog is always available to them, making ordering new materials a breeze.

Time is essential to these professionals. They want to get their materials as quickly as possible so that they can start real-world training with new hires. AGOnline is the best solution for them.

Creating materials to fit the needs of your business

AG Online is equally valuable for businesses with unique needs. We offer variable data printing capabilities, which allows you to print personalized training materials for a specific employee. As soon as an employee begins working with your company, you’ll have professionally branded materials in their hands that will give new hires an immediate sense of belonging with the company.

We allow for a wide range of materials to be catalogued and ordered based on your specific requirements. AGOnline stores everything you’ve ordered in the past in a secure environment—all you have to do is select the quantity you want and make any changes you deem necessary. The order is either sent to your address or stored in a warehouse depending on your preference.

No matter what types of training materials you need or what variable data documents you might require, know that they’re always available at a low price and can be sent directly to you. AGOnline was designed with the busy professional in mind. We wanted to create a hassle-free way to send high-quality, customizable materials to all of our customers.

Check out how AGOnline can help your business streamline training today! Your local AlphaGraphics will be glad to help you set up your portal, stock it with the necessities and introduce you to the world of cloud-based ordering, so you can focus your attention on more important things: like training your new hires!

September 15 / 2016
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The Importance of a Local Small Business Website

As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities on your plate. You have to run a business from all angles and make sure everything operates smoothly and efficiently to ensure the success of your investment. Every detail is important—especially those minor ones that are critical to your long-term success.

Your small business website is one of these small, yet critical factors and unfortunately, is one that’s frequently overlooked by smaller establishments. Many owners often tell themselves that other tasks are more important than being a webmaster, or that having a website is unnecessary because they’re a local business with local customers. And while these excuses might make you feel better about not having a website for your business, they’re simply covering the fact that you need one.

Visibility and presence

When you want to find a local coffee shop or a place to grab a bite to eat nearby, how do you do it? If you’re like most people, it’ll take mere seconds to punch your request into your smartphone to get the answers you’re looking for. Not surprisingly, these answers are brought to you by Google and the Internet, where having a web presence is paramount.

Visibility and presence are far and away the most important reasons to have a website for your small business. Showing up in local search results, having your data raked and delivered to customers searching for applicable establishments, and having a digital presence for information for your local customers means being seen in the digital age.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) can catapult your visibility even further into the spotlight. Optimizing your website for location and keywords means showing up first when customers are searching for businesses like yours.

Better customer service

Along with having great visibility online, your website is going to function as your automated customer service solution in a digital capacity. It’ll provide answers to customer questions, give people critical information about your establishment and will help them better understand what you have to offer them.

A website is also a touchpoint for communication. If your customers have questions or concerns, they’re going to visit your website to voice them directly to you. Or, if you have communications that every customer needs to see, a website is the best way to get the word out for all to see. Communication is key in good business, which means a website is your best answer to the question of how to foster it.

  • Having business hours, contact information, address and location data, and more will all serve to make you and your business more accessible to searchers on the web.

Marketing and sales

Alongside being a customer service tool, your website can also function as a marketing and sales tool. Use it to introduce promotions, generate leads or drive traffic—a website is a platform for all stages of marketing and sales, making it a core component in your business’ overall marketability.

Your website can also be a medium for sales as well. Something as simple as offering digital gift cards for sale or selling advertisement space for other local business on your site can generate new revenue streams that add to your business’ success—even capturing leads that aren’t local to you!

  • Using signup forms for email or running promotions through your website can be a great way to build an email list, which means better marketing access for your future promotions, digital or otherwise.

Your digital face

Today, the digital world is just as real as the physical one, which means your business needs to exist in both spaces to stay relevant and successful. Your brick and mortar shop is enough to drive foot traffic, but it’ll need a website to ensure the digital doors to your business stay open and thriving.

If you don’t have a small business website already, it’s time to make it a priority. And, even if you do have a website, it might be worth reevaluating to ensure it’s giving you all of the critical benefits it should be. Consult with an AlphaGraphics digital marketing and web specialist today to learn how to best maximize your business’ website.

August 30 / 2016

Using Professional Printing to Boost Your Real Estate Campaign

Summer is the prime season for real-estate. People looking to upgrade their living space are touring houses for sale and when they find that ideal upgrade, they’re putting their own homes up for sale. Listings are plentiful and the market is as hot as those summertime temps!

The problem with this prolific real estate season is that with so many homes flooding the market and so many buyers and sellers looking to stand out, it can be hard for realtors to help their clients get the best value. For realtors representing sellers, it’s all about keeping that asking price high and illustrating the value of a home; for realtors helping buyers, it’s about finding the perfect home at the right price.

If you’re a realtor—no matter what side of the real estate transaction you’re representing—it’s important to think about the best way to provide your clients with value. Often, the best way to do this is by making an upfront investment in professionally printed materials.

Bolstering your buyer’s confidence

As a realtor, your reputation and presentation are going to be your keys for success when it comes to working with clients. Often, this directly correlates with having professionally printed materials and a strong ability to market yourself. To that end, it’s important to think about the essentials when it comes to printed offerings:

  • Business cards with a professional appeal to them and all of your vital contact information are going to be of major importance.
  • Having data sheets or sales materials regarding your specific territories will be helpful in showing potential clients that you have in-depth knowledge of housing trends in the areas you represent.
  • Having quick FAQ sheets to answer new buyer questions will help boost confidence and quell fears, all the while building your rapport with clients.

And these are just the essentials! In heated markets where competition for clients is strong, many realtors will go above and beyond in creating marketing materials that are truly encompassing to home buyers, such as branded folders that contain realtor information, which can be stuffed with FAQ sheets or specific housing information for desired listings.

The end goal is to ensure you’re attracting clients by answering their questions, instilling them with confidence and marketing your skills and expertise in a way that benefits them. Printed materials can be an answer to all of these objectives.

Exceeding your seller’s expectations

When you’re representing a seller, it’s your duty as a realtor to help them sell their house for the highest possible price, with as few bumps as possible along the way. Often, this is easier said than done! But, with some quality marketing upfront, you can help your seller’s home stand out from the crowd in a way that ensures it fetches the best possible value on the open market:

  • Having data sheets for the home readily available at every open house, homebuyer’s seminar or other sales opportunity will give prospective buyers a glimpse into the home that will make them look twice.
  • Creating yard signs and markers that draw attention to a home beyond the “for sale” sign. These attention-grabbers can also be placed in high traffic areas away from the home, to drive prospective buyers to the listing.
  • Flyers and mailers can give potential buyers a quick synopsis of a home and its appeal, as well as some fast facts to push a sale.

Again, there’s always more you could be doing, but starting with some quality printed materials can go a long way towards creating opportunities for your seller.

Going beyond print

Marketing goes beyond print as well. It’s important to consider the many digital avenues that can supplement your marketing and how you can leverage these things to ensure you’re giving buyers and sellers the best possible advantage in the real estate market. Personal websites, housing descriptions on listing websites, email newsletters and more are all great ways to supplement your print marketing efforts for maximum effectiveness.

For all of these materials and strategy planning from talented marketing professionals, consider visiting your local AlphaGraphics location today. We’ll help you become the foremost realtor in your area by supporting your marketing efforts on both sides of the industry.

August 15 / 2016
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Keeping Your Website Relevant: What Can You Do?

Did you know that best practices for branding and business development dictate you update your website every three years, at a minimum? This is news to many companies—especially small businesses! The theory of “set it and forget it” seems to be common among those people who might not be particularly web-savvy, and as a result it’s not uncommon for many small business websites to fall out of favor over time.

What happens to your website if you don’t update it?

Think of your website like a house. Over the years you’re going to have to throw on a fresh coat of paint every now and then; you’ll need to remodel the bathroom to accommodate your changing needs; you’ll have to fix roofing issues as they develop, etc. If you fail to keep up with the needs of your home over the years, it’s going to fall into disrepair.

Your website functions on these same principles. You’ll need to update the content every so often; design elements will need to be fixed to accommodate new trends; you’ll have to manage the structure and navigation of the site, etc. If your website remains stagnant, it’s also bound to fall into disrepair! And, in today’s digital age, a poorly formatted website is one that’s not going to see very much traffic.

Search engine relevancy

There’s more damage than meets the eye when it comes to a poorly updated website, however. Not only can the visual integrity fall out of favor with visitors, your ranking in a search engine might tumble down as well! Search results algorithms for Google, Yahoo! and Bing all take website relevancy into account when it comes to ranking results, meaning forgotten sites will plummet while frequently updated sites rise.

It’s also important to note that search engine algorithms change frequently—sometimes as often as 5-6 times a year! Best practices for building a website a year ago might easily be replaced by new standards this year, making it critical to stay on top of your website month over month.

What should you be doing?

It’s understandable to have difficulty keeping your website up to date if you’re not web-savvy or don’t have the budget to hire a full time webmaster. It’s important to overcome these limitations, however, to ensure you’re not letting your business’ digital presence become lackluster.

The first and best way to make sure you’re remaining current is to form a partnership with an experienced web design/development company. It’s advisable to steer clear of freelancers and “friends of friends” who might not have the experience or reliability of an established company. If possible, figure out a monthly rate or pay as you go schedule that’s conducive to your business’ budget.

If you’re someone who has enough experience to get the job done yourself, take a look at a few best practices when it comes to keeping your website relevant:

  • Blogs are perhaps the simplest way to keep content on your website fresh. A simple 500-word blog post will be recognized by search engines as an effort to produce quality, recurring content, keeping your site well-ranked in search engine results.
  • Update your services or offerings as they change in real life. This is a good habit to get into anyway, to prevent confusion for customers. For example, if you now offer Service B in addition to Service A, make sure your website now offers information about your capabilities for Service B.
  • Assess the design and responsiveness of your website biannually to make sure it’s compliant with existing best practices on the web. Also, be sure to check all links and forms to make sure they’re still working appropriately.

The key to a good web presence that’s accurate and to-date is routine maintenance. Taking the time to set things straight every so often will help you avoid the massive amount of work that’s required every three years to redesign your site and get it back into good standing with search engines and your customers.

If you’re concerned about your small business’ website, get in touch with your local AlphaGraphics today! We can help you figure out where you are, where you want to be and what it takes to get your website there.

July 30 / 2016
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Recapping DRUPA 2016: The Largest Printing Equipment Exhibition in the World

This past June, the DRUPA print media fair was held in Dusseldorf, Germany, as is tradition every four years. This massive exposition of print technology, products, trends and companies is known worldwide as the premier destination to get the scoop on print media and cross platform marketing for the upcoming future.

As has been the case in years past, the expo produced some amazing prospects for the future of printing, advertising and technology! Read on to learn more about a few of the top highlights from the event that drew more than 1,800 exhibitors from 54 countries.

Paradigm printing

If anyone ever thought the age of physical media was dead due to digital technologies, their minds would have most certainly been changed by the astounding display of print capabilities heralded by the future of print technology. Some amazing highlights in this realm include:

  • Advances in UV LED ink are going to be a game-changer for pharma companies and food packing companies. Because these inks can be cured via LEDs, there’s no heating element required to set them, thus staying well within the packaging and printing guidelines of these rigorously monitored industries.
  • Affordable raised ink is now becoming a standard option for at-home, desktop printers! What this means for consumers is the ability to print not only textured documents, but also braille!
  • Flexo printing is getting a second look by innovators! This once quickly-dismissed printing platform is being innovated and improved upon to stay relevant within the industry. Look for enhancements via fixed color palette printing and new substrate materials to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this process.

3D and Functional printing

The widespread accessibility of 3D printing and other forms of functional printing stirred up a tremendous amount of excitement at DRUPA this year. Some of the biggest things to draw a crowd include:

  • Conductive inks are a major focus of functional printing, thanks much in part to their continued use in RFID printing. Innovations continue to push the boundaries of conductive ink use—especially when used in conjunction with 3D printing!
  • Organic printing is already a hot topic in the medical field, but it’s also starting to gain traction in other industries as well! When paired with marketing concepts, organic printing could become a staple in temporary outdoor advertising.
  • Printed electronics was a show-stopping concept that this year’s DRUPA conference! Circuit carriers and circuit boards are the subject of printed electronics currently, with much speculation as to how they’ll shape the future of the electronics industry when perfected!

Packing advances

Packaging technologies and opportunities have always been a core focus at DRUPA and this year, the excitement was turned up another notch. Presentations regarding touchpoint packaging and intelligent print packaging designs stole the show, opening the door for technologies that will soon come to revolutionize workflows in industries such as shipping, warehousing and distribution. Highlight’s from this year’s conference include:

  • Printed packaging security is something that can benefit nearly any industry, with positive ramifications that improve logistics, cut costs and streamline workflows. More than just RFID alert emitters and clear-print security, things like temperature-activated ink and inherently secure printed packaging designs will touch industries far and wide.
  • Holographic and tinted printing techniques could be used for a wide variety of print packaging applications, from security to advertising and beyond.
  • Serialization was a big topic this year, with much emphasis being placed on late-stage customization and how serialization via print processes can help to provide cradle-to-grave tracking for customers and designers alike.

DRUPA’s 11-day event timeline was loaded with amazing concepts, products and technologies from dawn until dusk each day. Authorities on printing from around the world exhibited and attended to make this year’s event yet another resounding success. And, as has been the trend in the past, many of the concepts being pitched and explained at DRUPA are sure to find their way into modern printing standards—most likely before the next conference in four years!

July 12 / 2016
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The Value of Web-to-Print Online Ordering

Printing is an inherently physical business—meaning there will always need to be a press and some sort of tangible material to get the job done. But there are some aspects of printing that have definitely reaped the benefit of digital technologies, including the way many print providers are communicating with customers.

We’re talking, of course, about web-to-print portals and the revolutionary way by which they’ve served to streamline nearly every facet of the printing process!

Ordering, proofing and prepping, made easy

Digital technology in the form of a web-to-print portal has effectively consolidated the print prep process into a real-time, nearly instantaneous workflow. As a result, some of the biggest hurdles in the print process are absolved right from the get-go, including:

  • With the ability to create approval workflows, web-to-print offers an immersive, collaborative experience for buyer and printer alike. Customers can submit a design, printers can proof it, and customers can then approve it quickly, expediting a timeline that might otherwise require a more extensive degree of back and forth communication.
  • Ordering from scratch is also made simple! Printers can create online storefronts with basic, customizable options, providing a foundation for creation that’s quicker and more affordable for customers than creating something from scratch or hiring a designer.
  • Within the web-to-print environment, sharing materials and print collateral is made easy via cloud uploading and collaboration. Again, extensive back and forth is eliminated, getting the project to the print floor quicker and with fewer opportunities for error.

Keep in mind, this is still only value added at the order stage of the print process! A functional web-to-print portal goes beyond just facilitating efficiency after an order is placed.

Generating sales and prompting leads

As a printer, being able to offer a web-to-print portal as a sales tool means creating accessibility that prompts inquiries and generates leads. Consider the following benefits:

  • Customers looking for a quick, non-committal quote can submit a small amount of information through the portal, which opens up a dialog with the printer. Quotes and pricing can be exchanged, with the opportunity to create a conversion through this passive sales channel.
  • Web-to-print environments present the allure of modernization. Being accessible online, where a majority of business is done, is appealing to potential customers who want an upfront guarantee of effectiveness and efficiency.
  • For printers, inquiries through the web-to-print portal can be handled accordingly via workflow automation. For example, an inquiry regarding large format POP materials may be directed to one person specifically within the business—leads can automatically be sent to that person through the web-to-print portal.

Saving time and money through efficiency

Perhaps the most critical value a web-to-print portal provides is that of cost-saving efficiency, for both the printer and the customer. In creating a system of checks and balances, while simultaneously eliminating errors and waste, the savings on a per-job basis can become prolific for both sides:

  • In proofing projects throughout the duration of the workflow, as prompted by the portal’s built-in checks and balances, printers can ensure the final job going to print is perfect, minimizing re-print potential due to poor proofing.
  • Customers can submit collateral through the web portal, saving them the time of having to send multiple emails or navigate through various links to online repositories. This also expedites the job by giving printers instant access to necessary files throughout the duration of the job.
  • The organization and structure of a web-to-print portal means minimizing lost collateral, misplaced files or erratic email chains. These things all cost time and money to resolve.

Value that cannot be ignored

With benefits at every stage of the customer-to-print process, the value of a web-to-print portal cannot be ignored by modern print providers. From capturing leads and providing quotes, to gathering collateral and communicating feedback, to proofing and finally printing: web-to-print is changing the way people get their final print materials. And while printing will always be a physical process at its core, the path to the press is more digital than ever before.

June 20 / 2016
Author admin
Category Web-to-Print
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The Rejuvenation and Benefits of EDDM Marketing

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.

Blanketing the field

Understanding the history of direct mail and the potential possibilities that it now presents is only one half of the puzzle in reestablishing this core component of your small business’ marketing scheme. The second half is distributing your mail effectively. This is where EDDM campaigns have proven to be an innovative step forward for direct mail. They allow you to:

  • 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.

Using a more targeted and refined approach to direct mail distribution through EDDM means giving your small business a better shot at ending up in the mailbox of someone who, at the very least, will take the time to glance at your mailer to see if the information it contains applies to them.

The obvious last step is to make sure you’re presenting a message, promotion or call to action that will grab the attention of the reader. The depends entirely on your marketing focus and your message.

The opportunity is in place, the distribution method is there; with the right message and campaign, you could find that your direct mail holds a coveted spot in the hands of a reader who isn’t just throwing it away.

June 08 / 2016
Author admin
Category Direct Marketing
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