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Category: Printing

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.

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).

Comic Sans is NOT Funny

There have been volumes (literally) written about how typeface can impact everything from web posts to printed books.  The right font can increase legibility and credibility.  The wrong font can make a project look amateurish and render it almost impossible to read.

By now, almost everyone knows that Comic Sans is NOT the font to use for anything (except, on the rarest occasion, a child’s birthday invitation).  And, aside from its questionable use for the title of the film Avatar, the font Papyrus is best left for use in the most mundane church bulletin.

Almost every designer has a “hit” list of the fonts that prove to be consistently easy to read.  Others can rattle off a top 10 list of fonts that they would never, ever consider using.

There are rules, of course, for what fonts to use for titles, for text, for web use and for different kinds of printed pieces.  There are principles for the use of serif and san serif fonts, for when to use italics and when to use bold face.

There are also rules for when to break the rules.

We’ve curated our own list of sites that provide the best (and worst) information about the selection and use of typeface.  Some of these are useful.  Some of these are fun.  All of them provide great information that can help you avoid an unforgiveable font faux pas.

11 Fonts That Designers Love to Hate

Examples of How a Bad Typeface Can Run Your Brand

What Font Should I Use? Five Principles for Choosing and Using Typefaces

Sources for free fonts:

Best and Worst Fonts

Innovate or Die

For decades now, pundits have been declaring that “print is dead!” In this age of recycling and pre-cycling, printed materials are sometimes considered an unnecessary waste and expense.

Despite studies that consistently indicate consumers – including both baby boomers and millennials – prefer print to digital media*, commercial print providers are facing an ever changing business environment.

Gone are the days when business printing meant long offset runs producing tens of thousands of pieces which were warehoused until they could be consumed over the course of months or even years. Cost- and efficiency-conscious business owners now print their analog media on demand.  This move has challenged traditional offset print facilities but is proving to be a boon for quick turn digital print shops.

Commercial printers have learned that they must adapt to changing business trends or be forced out of the marketplace. For commercial print vendors, it’s innovate or die.

Forward thinking commercial print companies have embraced changes in their industry. It’s not uncommon now to find print shops providing other products and services.  Graphic design and marketing services, large format printing, and promotional product sourcing are now in the toolkit of many print companies.  And web-to-print solutions are rapidly becoming something consumers are requiring from their print vendors.

Vistaprint introduced online print purchasing to consumers in 1995. Since then, many other print companies (including AlphaGraphics) have starting offering their own online platforms.

Buying print online is a trend that continues to grow.  In 2001, roughly 3% of print orders were placed online.  By 2014, that number was up to 30% and is expected to rise to 50% by 2017**.  That’s a trend that commercial print companies cannot afford to ignore.

Not all web-to-print platforms are alike. Some can be branded for and tailored to suit the needs of specific customers.  Some can allow consumers to select templates and create their own designs.  Others allow companies to manage their sales and marketing collateral – becoming a library of up-to-date materials which their employees can access 24/7, 365 days a year.

The best platforms can do all those things and more. Some can be expensive to build out and maintain.  Others are offered as free services to business customers.  All can be beneficial for everyone involved – providing businesses with a low or no cost resource and giving print vendors a direct link to their consumers.

Innovation in the print industry has changed the way commercial printers sell print.

Print companies who can’t or won’t innovate are losing market share to those companies who have embraced these changes. Smart print companies have found a way to leverage digital tools to increase their sales of printed materials.

And smart consumers have found a way to leverage their purchasing power to convince commercial printers to provide digital platforms that make the buying process easier, quicker, and often less costly.

In commercial printing as in many other businesses, it’s innovate or die.  And the innovaters are flourishing.

-LG, AlphaGraphics Franklin | April 2016

 

https://www.jwt.com/en/worldwide/thinking/embracinganalog/
** http://www.designnbuy.com/the-web-to-print-trends-defining-2016/

Do You Really Need a Business Card?

In this world of ever-increasing apps promising us greater connectivity, you may have asked yourself if you really need a business card.  We can connect with others in a variety of ways right from our smartphone.  Why, then, do we need something as archaic as a tiny piece of paper imprinted with our names?

Business cards seem a little old-fashioned.  With their roots in formal calling cards used by aristocrats in the 17th century, business cards morphed into trade cards with the dawn of the industrial age.  By the 20th century, cards touting a person’s line of work and contact information became the status quo.  In some parts of the world, business cards of today are very formal and are exchanged with a great deal of pomp and ceremony.

In the U.S., cards are often considered a necessary evil or an afterthought.  With cheap cards available online, many people put very little thought into what is actually printed on the card.  Business cards can seem an unnecessary expense and unimportant in today’s business landscape.

Dismissing business cards as a throwback to the mad men era of business is missing the point entirely.

Despite their diminutive size, business cards can have a big impact.  Your card may be the first impression you make with a potential client.  It’s a tangible representation of your brand and one that people can keep indefinitely.

Business cards are accessible anytime – there’s no downtime and they work even in those times when people are not connected online.  And there’s no need to worry that they’re compatible with someone’s software or device.

Swapping contact information via phone might be quick (or maybe not for those who find typing on a smartphone challenging and slow) yet it refocuses attention away from the person at hand and down to the digital device.  Placing a printed business card in someone’s hand doesn’t require a lapse in attention or eye contact during the process.   Instead, the swap reinforces the connection.

Technology can make information sharing impersonal.  Business cards allow us to connect to someone in the real world.

Even the nicest printed business cards are still relatively inexpensive and easy to carry (and distribute).  And that little piece of real estate can be made even more impactful by the addition of a head shot, a QR code to your LinkedIn page or even a map to your brick and mortar location.

Business cards are a great place to tack on a special offer, giving people even more incentive to hang onto your business card.

In our digital world where we remain constantly connected, a printed business card might seem a little antiquated.  Yet, that 3.5” x 2” piece of paper can still serve a useful purpose.  Do you really need a business card?  Absolutely.  Sometimes tradition can be of use well into the future.

-LG, AlphaGraphics Franklin | April 2016

Print vs. Paperless

Tree FarmChances are you’ve never heard of digital deforestation.  It’s a relatively new way to look at the environmental impact caused by the switch from printed material to digital forms of communication.  Things like email, online magazines, newspapers, and even paperless billing have an environmental impact all their own.

Digital technology uses a tremendous amount of resources.  All our data has to be stored somewhere. The digital “cloud” is, in reality, a large data center somewhere.  Most likely, it’s a series of server farms in multiple locations.

The largest server farm is 1.1 million square feet in size — as large as 20 football fields.

Large data centers require vast resources to operate.  They consume resources when built and convert huge tracts of water-absorbing land into expanses of concrete and pavement.  The accompanying cellular towers that carry all this cloud technology are dotting the landscape with ever increasing frequency.  These claim their own share of land and environmental resources.   And at the tail end of the technology life cycle are ever-growing mountains of discarded computer equipment piling up in landfills, posing risks to wildlife and ground water.

As of 2014, there were over 250,000 cell towers located in the U.S.

As it turns out, paperless communication isn’t as green as once thought.  And printing on paper isn’t necessarily as bad as we’ve been made to believe.  In fact, printing – is actually a sustainable business practice that can make good environmental sense.

Paper is good.  Paper is made from trees which benefit the environment in a number of ways.  Trees reduce soil erosion.  Trees recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Trees provide habitat for wildlife.  The responsible harvesting of mature trees makes room for new tree growth.  Flourishing woodlands are a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Trees are the ultimate “green” product.  And the paper made from trees is recyclable.  In fact, paper is one of the easiest materials to recycle and reuse.

Roughly 67% of the paper discarded in 2014 was recycled.

Most trees used for paper production in the U.S. are now grown on sustainable tree farms.  Tree farming creates thousands of jobs for Americans and pumps millions of dollars back into our economy.   The forest products industry in the U.S. has pushed for industry-wide adoption of sustainable forestry practices that include environmental impact reviews and sustainability certifications.

That push to make the paper industry “greener” has filtered down to commercial consumers of paper products.  Most paper suppliers now provide products that that are manufactured using cleaner energy and using more ecologically sound processes than was the case 20 years ago.

Resource conversation is always a good idea and there are times when going paperless makes good sense.  However, before opting out of printing altogether, consumers may want to take another look at the environmental impact of their decision.  Sometimes, putting ink on paper may be the greener option.

-LG, AlphaGraphics Franklin | February 2016