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AG Franklin

All posts by AG Franklin

AlphaGraphics Franklin is a provider of print and communication services in greater Nashville, TN area. We provide design, marketing, print and fulfillment services to businesses of all sizes.

How to Combine Digital and Print for More Effective Marketing Campaigns

Combine digital and print marketingPrint isn’t dead.  While digital marketing may have become the “go to” medium for building brand awareness, print can still play a big role.  In fact, combining print with digital marketing can create more memorable experiences for consumers.

Print can drive traffic to your digital channels, adding more touchpoints to the customer journey.  More touchpoints in varying formats can boost brand awareness and improve engagement.  Using tangible, printed items will reinforce your message and create a greater impact.

Combining Social Media and Print Marketing

Social media is a necessary component of digital marketing.  Through your social channels, you build relationships with customers.  Adding print marketing to the mix will bolster those efforts.  Printed collateral should include information about where customers can find you online and invite their engagement.  Including unique hashtags on printed collateral can further encourage participation.

Print can benefit from social media by providing insight into the type of content customers respond to.  By paying attention to what gets traction online, you can tailor future printed collateral to communicate more effectively.

Combining Websites, Email and Print Marketing

Digital marketing is more than just social media.  It also includes your website and any email marketing you do.  Prospective customers often search out your website to learn more about your products and services.  Email marketing to your current customer base can help keep them informed of new offerings and is a cost-effective way to reach out to those who have opted-in to such communications.

QR code linking to Instagram

Scan to visit us on Instagram

Using print to drive traffic to your website can be as easy as adding a QR code to anything you print.  (Yes, people do still scan QR codes – in fact, with newer smartphones, no app is required).  Once on your website, landing pages can require visitors to enter email information to obtain a free download or discount.  Every email you gather builds your list for future email marketing.

Leveraging Digital and Print Technology

As new technologies develop, it becomes even easier to integrate print and digital marketing.  The interactivity between print and digital marketing allows you to customize marketing efforts.

Personalization using variable data allows you to tailor text, graphics even marketing offers, to specific prospects and customers.  This extends to personalized landing pages, or PURLS, and to custom-printed pieces.

Phone scanning a printed flyer

Click to learn more about AR

Augmented Reality, which blends the physical and digital worlds via a smartphone, can enhance the digital experience on any printed piece.  AR can also reveal hidden text, images, or graphics as well as create a 3-D images from a printed page.

Creating the Most Effective Blended Marketing Campaigns

The basic rules of marketing still apply when combining digital and print marketing.  Your content should be relevant to the audience you’re marketing to.  Even the best campaigns will falter if the message doesn’t hold value to the person who receives it.

All marketing materials – offline and online – need to include a clear call-to-action (CTA).  Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish with each touchpoint.  Are you trying to create awareness for your business?  Are you building trust?  Are you presenting a specific offer?  Next, determine what a prospect or customer would need to do to accomplish that desired outcome.  That’s your CTA.  Whether you’re asking a prospect for their contact info or urging a customer to redeem a limited time offer, be clear and concise.

Remember the Rule of 7!  Generally, it takes multiple touches to move a customer through the buying process.  Combining digital and print marketing efforts creates those various, diverse touchpoints.

USPS mail scan

Learn more about Informed Delivery

As more consumers opt into Informed Delivery by the USPS, those daily scans of mail can become yet another touchpoint in the customer journey.  This is another reason to include a clear CTA on the scanned side of any direct mail (the side with the mail recipient’s info).

Track, Measure and Analyze

Tracking the success of any marketing campaign is extremely important.  Consider how you will calculate your return on investment (ROI).  QR codes and custom landing pages can help you measure how many consumers made the print-to-digital jump.  Unique discount codes on printed pieces can also help determine the level of response those pieces produced.

Review your responses.  Which online postings generated the most comments, likes and shares?  Which printed pieces generated activity?  Try to identify what caused some efforts to bomb while others created excitement.  This type of analysis should dictate future marketing efforts – both online and in print.

Print and Digital are a Great Team

It takes both online and offline efforts to reach consumers now.  While digital efforts can provide immediate responses and reactions, print can create more memorable experiences.  Print can become a tangible extension of your digital marketing efforts.  By combining your digital campaigns with print in unique and engaging ways, you’ll be able to amplify your marketing efforts to get noticed and get business.

Why You Need Content Marketing to Build Customer Loyalty

Content Marketing engages consumersWe’re living in strange times.  The economic crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more important for small businesses to gain the trust of consumers.  Trust generates loyalty, especially in times when nothing is predictable or constant.

Building trust and loyalty among consumers is easy for big corporations with millions of marketing dollars at their disposal.  How can small businesses compete, especially when business may be shut down or have limited hours during a pandemic?

But how do you connect to consumers when you can’t connect?

Content marketing is key. 

Marketing professionals define content marketing as, “a strategic approach to delivering valuable, relevant content to your customers on a regular basis,” content marketing has become the panacea for every challenge facing small businesses.

Need to relate to customers?  Content marketing.  Need to build your brand?  Content marketing.  Need to show your relevance in an ever-changing world?  Content marketing.

But how do you “do” content marketing without a fully staffed marketing team and an unlimited budget?  How can a small business incorporate content marketing into their business strategy?

Start by talking to your customers on your existing channels.

Places like Facebook, Instagram and Linked In are where your customers congregate digitally and it’s where your message has a chance to connect. Stay active on your social media platforms. If you don’t have a blog, consider starting one.  If you do blog, keep it up.

It’s as easy as telling a story. 

Tell your brand’s history or relate the story of a customer who found success by using your products and services. Talk about what you do and how you do it.  Don’t try to sell – just talk.

Illustrate your story with images.
AlphaGraphics Franklin employees

Not all pics need to be serious. Have fun!

When possible (and appropriate) show consumers the faces of your company – the people who make it what it is.  Content marketing gives you the perfect opportunity to humanize your brand by showing off the people behind your operations.  Chances are, your employees live and play in your community, so they’re relatable to the consumers you’re trying to reach.

Show your relevance. 

What challenges are your consumers facing and how can you address those challenges?  Have you switched gears during the COVID-19 crisis to service a different segment of consumers or provide products you didn’t used to offer?  How is what you’re doing right now (whatever the economic or cultural environment) pertinent to the people you’re trying to connect to?  These are great topics for any post, from a quick tweet on Twitter to a full blog post on your website.

Stay honest and approachable. 

Allow consumers to comment on your posts.  The best content allows people to engage and interact.  Try to incorporate interactive elements to open up conversations.  Ask relevant questions and solicit input.  And, most importantly, monitor that input.  Address comments, questions, and especially complaints quickly and professionally.

Content marketing isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t require a big budget to implement.  Start small and scale up.  Post consistently and watch what gets a response then tailor your content accordingly.

Finally, have fun with it.

Content marketing might seem like a chore at first.  But eventually it becomes just another way to stay connected with customers.

Want to learn more about content marketing? Visit The CMA.

Here are some of our local favorites who excel at content marketing.

National Museum of African American Music (awesome blog)

Mercy Community Healthcare (rocking Instagram!)

Michael Hyatt Productions (mastering Facebook)

Who do you follow?

Window Frosting Creates Big Impact

Frostings_collageOur team recently created and installed an intricate frosted window graphic at a hospital in another state.  The entire process took our skilled team only a few hours to install but will leave a lasting impression.

What is window frosting?  Frosted windows and doors (both interior and exterior) are typically created from a vinyl material that is translucent but not transparent.  The material comes on rolls and can have a variety of finishes, from flat matte to a glittery shiny, with multiple variations in between.

The pattern or text in the frosting can be created with positive or negative space.  Positive space designs use the window frosting to create the desired image or text.  The material is cut on a precision cutter.  When applied to glass, the unneeded portion of the vinyl is removed.

Negative space designs are created the same way, but the patterns or words are created using the blank spaces left when the excess is removed from the glass.  Either method can create a detailed pattern that diffuses light with a dramatic effect.

Why use window frosting?  Vinyl frosting can be used to add a little privacy to a desired area, to communicate information, or simply as an additional design element.  Because it’s a vinyl film, it’s quick to install (especially when done by professionals).  It can be removed without much difficulty.  And it’s surprisingly hardy and can last for years even when exposed to direct sunlight.

Window frosting can be a very economical way to change the look and feel of any glass window, door, mirror or glass display case.  It can cover an entire window or be trimmed down to a small decal.

Can you think of a place in your business where frosted vinyl might make an impact?

©2019 AlphaGraphics Franklin

The Customer Isn’t Always Right

If your business involves working with customers, you’ve probably heard the old maxim, “The customer is always right.”  Sometimes, however, nothing could be further from the truth.  The customer is always the customer, but they’re not necessarily right.

In the print world, we work with clients who have ideas they need to have communicated in some visual way.  Whether it’s a business card or a large sign project, our customers need a final project that is visually appealing and easily understood.

Sometimes our customers come to us with files or ideas that won’t accomplish their purpose.  At those times, it’s our job to redirect the customer – gently and diplomatically.

Our business is staffed by a team of professionals who have training and experience working in marketing and graphic design.  We work with cutting-edge technology, using the state-of-the art equipment and all the materials required to deliver a stellar finished project.  If we don’t bring our expertise to the table with every customer interaction, we’re failing in our job.

Sometimes it’s necessary to tell a customer that they’re wrong, that their idea will fall short.  Diplomacy is the key to those tough conversations.  We start by acknowledging anything in the customer’s idea that works or can be tweaked to work.  Only then do we begin to gently explain what needs to be replaced or tossed out entirely.

Most times, customers listen to what we have to say – especially when we’ve built a relationship with them and they understand that we have their best interests in mind.  Sometimes customers want it their way and, in those circumstances, we graciously comply.  While we may not agree with their decision, they are still, afterall, the customer.

Do you ever need to tell a customer that they’re wrong?  How do you handle those circumstances?

©2019 AlphaGraphics Franklin

5 Way to Retain Existing Customers

Thank You CardsIn a recent article posted on the “WhatTheyTh!nk” website, industry analyst, Heidi Tolliver-Walker, discussed customer retention.  While primarily aimed at those in the printing industry, her 5 tips for customer retention are useful for anyone who sells any product or service.

Her 5 tips are not limited by industry and can be applied equally to those engaged in B2B or B2C selling.

We wondered how our customer service practices aligned with those Tolliver-Walker identified as key to customer retention.  In reviewing our own internal processes, we developed a few questions to help determine if we were on track.  These questions can help any business review their marketing and customer retention practices.

Tip# 1: “Know why they love you.” 

Ask yourself:  What are we doing right that keeps our customers coming back?  How are we delighting our customers with every interaction?

Tip# 2:  “Know what matters to them.”

Ask yourself:  What do our customers really want from us?  Have we asked them?  Note: Customer service surveys are great ways to tune into your customers’ actual needs. 

Tip# 3:  “Make it personal.”  

Ask yourself:  Are we personalizing our communications?  Are we targeting customers with relevant marketing that shows we understand their needs?  Are we thanking or rewarding customers for their repeat business?

Tip# 4:  “Be authentic.”

Ask yourself:  Are our marketing efforts genuine and telling real stories?  How do we communicate what we do in ways that don’t feel stilted or insincere?  Do we market differently to existing customers than we do to prospects?

Tip# 5:  “Don’t just sell.”

Ask yourself:  Do we care about what our customers do?  How engaged with them are we after the sale?  Do we support their business in the community?

At AlphaGraphics, we know that 60% of our sales comes from repeat business.  Keeping that segment of our customer base happy is paramount to our future success. Continually asking ourselves these key questions helps keep us on track with our customer retention plan.  Our end goal is to keep repeat customers happy and coming back for more.

What are you doing to keep your existing customers coming back?

Read the article at: Tolliver-Walker, H., (July 24, 2019), Are You Walking the Customer Retention Walk with Your Customers?  From http://whattheythink.com/

©2019 AlphaGraphics Franklin

 

Take a Break

AlphaGraphics Conference 2019

Large banners and door wraps greeted conference goers in Indianapolis last week.

AlphaGraphics held its annual convention in Indianapolis last week.  AG is a collection of individually owned franchises which provide print, signage, and business solutions to companies of all sizes.

One of the topics of this year’s event was slowing down – giving your mind time to explore solutions you might otherwise overlook.

We live in a busy world, our schedules are packed.  Each of us has unreasonable demands on our time.  It’s seems counterintuitive to believe that adding a little “nothing” time into our daily routine could actually help us be more productive.

IMG_8289

But it’s true.  Our bodies and our minds need rest.  We need downtime.  We need wakeful rest.

Scientific studies have shown that our brain cells and neurons can grow fatigued and disrupt our focus and impair our ability to make quick decisions.  Our brains need a break from the busyness.

Mediation and good old-fashioned daydreaming during the course of a workday can actually restore equilibrium and help us be more productive.  While, on the surface, that downtime might seem like wasted time, it can sometimes be the best way to spend a few spare minutes of your day.

Resting the brain rejuvenates the brain.  That little mental break may be just the thing you need to have a more productive day.

How do you give your brain a break in your busy workday?

© 2019 AlphaGraphics Franklin

Print is not Dead

IT’S 2019 AND WE’RE STILL PUTTING INK ON PAPER

Newspaper in treesIt’s no secret that the world has become increasingly reliant on technology.  The virtual world finds new ways to impinge on the “real” world every day.  In the print industry, we’ve been hearing the cry, “Print is dead” for years.  We were warned the world would soon be paperless.   Nothing could be further from the truth.

Print is changing, that’s certain.  Gone are the days of long run offset print jobs.   Commercial print companies have found themselves shifting gears to keep up with an increasing demand for quick turn, short run print jobs.  Digital equipment, both toner printers and ink presses, has evolved to do all sorts of tricks.  Commercial printing has adapted and evolved.  And for those companies who could adjust, business is booming.

In spite of the dire predictions, print has continued to be an important and effective marketing tool.  Print has always been a tactile medium.  In these days of “virtual” everything, the physical experience of printed material is a welcome change.  The feel of a slick catalog or textured business card is something that can’t be replaced by a fancy product shot or virtual mockup.  Not yet anyway.

Print is “real” in an age when so many things aren’t.

Printed material seems to stick around giving people the opportunity to return to it again and again.  Print can be customized with variable data and graphics (even maps) that speak specifically to the desired audience.  With the use of things like  QR codes and augmented reality links, print can connect to the virtual world in new and unexpected ways.  Print has held its own in the digital age.

The entire printing industry has become more sustainable.  Tree farms provide much of the paper used in the U.S. and provide not only jobs, but erosion-deterrents and habitat for all sorts of wildlife.  While data centers and “server farms” are tearing up the landscape with asphalt and concrete, paper suppliers are planting more trees and recycling more post consumer material than ever.

The print industry has evolved.  Print is not dead.  It’s been reconfigured and rejuvenated.  Small and mid-sized commercial print companies are thriving.  It’s 2019 and there’s still a market for ink on paper.

© 2019 AlphaGraphics Franklin

Learn more about how digital print can help your business.

Marketing with Yard Signs

Marketing with yard signsYard signs aren’t just effective advertising for garage sales and political campaigns.  A well placed yard sign can pull traffic from a busy roadway into a locally-owned restaurant or small business.   And the temporary nature of yard signs make them the perfect means to advertise an upcoming sale or event.

Yard signs can be great lead generators.  When designed and placed correctly, these mini billboards can attract a lot of attention.  The stake-n-go nature of these signs makes them portable and easy for anyone to install and remove.  Anyone with a tight budget can turn these small marketing tools into increased business.

The design and readability of any signage is crucial.  Yard signs are usually spotted as someone travels past them.  If the verbiage isn’t legible, the sign is useless.  If the message isn’t clear, it isn’t communicating anything.

Good yard design takes into account more than just the legibility of the text.  The juxtaposition of colors and the use of graphics can reinforce the message.  Great design can turn these small signs into great communication tools.  Bad design leaves them no more effective than a home-made garage sale sign.  Click here for a great breakdown of colors to use and those to avoid in yard signs.

Sign location is also key.  Ideally, signs should be placed where traffic pauses – at street corners, near parking lots, etc.  Realty yard signs need to be near the street but not blocking any access or restricting visibility of drivers and pedestrians.

Signs need to meet all legal requirements.  Some municipalities restrict the size, location, materials, and content of yard signs.  Sometimes, the duration of a posting is regulated.  For instance, political signs often must be removed within a few days of an election.  It’s smart to know the rules before you put up a sign to avoid any fines or penalties.

Because yard signs are relatively inexpensive, they have become a favored way of announcing events, touting political candidates, and attracting customers for local businesses.  They’re quick to produce and easy to install – which makes them the perfect solution for anyone who doesn’t need to erect permanent signage.

Yard signs create exposure and can generate leads.  They’re a great marketing tool to consider and can help your business or group get noticed.

Ready to learn more about the types, styles and sizes of yard signs?  Contact AlphaGraphics Franklin.

© 2018 AlphaGraphics Franklin

 

Can you print augmented reality?

Augmented Reality in Print

As a print and marketing company, we’ve had our share of interesting questions from clients.  Recently, we had a client ask, “Can your press print augmented the reality?”

Well, yes, sort of.

The question gave us a chuckle because augmented reality isn’t something you print, but rather a way of enhancing printed material.  Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes computer-generated content on top of the “real” world.  It’s a way to take printed material to another level by embedding links, videos and other content onto anything – from business cards to catalogs to large banners.  If it prints, augmented reality can be applied.

Imagine handing a client a business card which, when scanned by a smart device, automatically opens your Linked In page.  Or having a client open a catalog, scan a page, then see a video about a product and be presented with an active “Purchase Now” button.

Any printed material can hold multiple invisible yet powerful links with distinct opportunities to engage an audience.

Are you using augmented reality to promote your business?

Want to see how it works?  Download our AR marketing piece and scan with the Layar app (available for Android and Apple devices).

Mixed media signage makes a big impact.

Out-of-the-box sign solutions don’t work for every situation.  Sometimes what’s needed will combine elements of different types of signage.  Custom signs combining different materials, textures and depths can catch the eye and capture attention.

Using different materials creates different textures which the human eye notices.  Placing materials of different thicknesses and distance from the way, sparks curiosity that pulls the viewer interest.

This signage package combined brushed aluminum, cut vinyl lettering and custom cut acrylic lettering in a variety of heights.  The grouping creates interest and makes a bold statement.

And making a statement is exactly what good signage should do.

Installing 3-dimensional Signage

Installing 3-dimensional Signage

Sign elements of different heights

Sign elements of different heights

Mixed Media signage

Mixed Media signage

 

 

 

 

 

– AlphaGraphics Franklin | March 2018