8 Ways to Rethink Your Marketing Strategy in 2021

The new year is always a good time to get a fresh start. For businesses, 2020 was all about keeping up, reacting quickly, and trying to stay afloat. Though the pandemic will inevitably follow us into 2021, you can prepare by building a marketing strategy that positions your business for long-term growth.

Get ahead in 2021 with these eight tips for rethinking your marketing strategy.

1. Apply What You Learned in 2020

Chances are your business had to pivot your marketing in response to the pandemic. Maybe you launched a content campaign or built up your online presence through digital advertising. Whatever new ideas you tried, now is the time to analyze your results. Mine your data to understand what tactics worked best and what messages resonated most with your audiences, then carry them through into your 2021 marketing plan.

2. Refresh Your Branding

Even in a normal year, brands can shift and change as the business grows. With all the uncertainty in 2020, your brand likely evolved to meet the challenges. Take a close look at your branding to see if it still represents your brand values, your business, and what you have to offer. If not, take time in 2021 to give your branding a refresh to help you reconnect with your audiences.

3. Revisit Your Target Audiences

Just as your branding may be due for a refresh, your target audiences are also worth a second look. How we do business has changed, which could mean your customer base has changed too.

Perhaps you offered a new product or service that caters to an entirely different audience, or your existing customers took advantage of expansions in your product line. Find out by looking at your sales data from the past year and identifying common characteristics among your top customers. Once you determine who your target audiences should be, you can customize your marketing efforts to speak to their values and interests.

4. Focus on Building Trust

Trust is the foundation of customer loyalty, and now more than ever, loyalty is essential for a business’s success. That’s why in 2021, most of your marketing efforts should be focused on building trust and strengthening relationships with your customers.

Content marketing offers an opportunity to do just that. Content comes in many forms, but it all boils down to giving your audience what they’re looking for. Whether that’s education, entertainment, inspiration, or solutions to their biggest challenges, putting out regular, relevant content will demonstrate your brand’s value and expertise, giving your customers a reason to return again and again.

5. Personalize Your Campaigns

Personalization is not just “nice to have”—it’s an expectation. If your marketing messages aren’t relevant to the recipient, they are more likely to be ignored or deleted. By leveraging your customer data, you can create highly targeted content for both digital and print.

Here are some quick wins in personalization:

  • Align the messaging to your audience’s interests, values, and needs.
  • Use images that reflect who your audience is. Demographics are important, but remember to focus on other characteristics too, such as lifestyles, activities, and locations.
  • Make suggestions or recommendations based on past activity.
  • Visualize data in an infographic, like a customer’s history or involvement with your business over the past year.

6. Create Brand Experiences

Gone are the days when marketing was a one-way conversation. Now there are so many ways to engage your customers with your brand. In 2021, try your hand at some of these marketing techniques.

  • Develop interactive content that fosters engagement, such as videos, quizzes, or games.
  • Spark a conversation and empower users to respond through comments and direct messages.
  • Curate user-generated content to add authenticity to your brand, such as customer photos, reviews, and testimonials.
  • Go above and beyond expectations by sending personalized packages to complement your virtual initiatives.
  • Create immersive brand experiences with an experiential marketing approach.

7. Incorporate Print into Your Marketing Strategy

If you’ve been focusing your marketing efforts primarily on digital platforms, the new year presents an opportunity to re-examine the value of print marketing for your business. Print grabs attention and allows you to create memorable touchpoints in the customer journey. It also helps you sidestep the challenge of digital fatigue by reaching consumers in a different medium. Plus, print can bolster your digital marketing efforts by driving traffic to your website, social media pages, apps, or other online channels.

8. Ramp Up Your Online Presence

Your website is still one of your brand’s best marketing tools. While other digital channels are great for engagement, your website is where customers will go to learn more about your business and to make purchases.

First and foremost, you want your website to be optimized for search engines so people can find it. SEO is an ongoing process; it’s a good idea to regularly evaluate your content and address any technical issues with your site before they impact your rankings.

But beyond that, take time early in the year to make updates to your content depending on how your business has shifted during the pandemic. Does your site include information about new products or services you offer? Does it reflect your new hours and operating procedures? Is it easy for users to find how to contact you? If not, these are some quick changes to make to your website to ensure a more user-friendly experience.

Most of All, Stay Agile in 2021

While we’re all hoping for a resolution and return to normal life in 2021, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Make sure that any marketing plans you put in place are still nimble and flexible, so your business can adapt quickly to unexpected changes.

How to Leverage Signage for Marketing Your Business

It’s impossible to walk or drive through an urban environment today and not see signage. Every business has signage, largely because it’s the simplest, most accessible form of advertising. Storefront signs say, “My business operates here.” Flags and banners say, “We’re having a sale right now.” Big window clings say, “Look at the products I sell.”

Not only is this type of signage all around us, but it’s a ubiquitous part of how we interact with the world as consumers. The types of signage we’re exposed to and the messages we see cause us to act and react with the brands delivering them. This is all to say that, from a business standpoint, having the right signage is very important for success!

Why Signage Is Important for Any Business

Signage plays many different roles for a business. Your signage is never just an advertisement or a piece of branded collateral. It’s a powerful and multifaceted marketing tool.

Here are some of the ways to think about signage, beyond the means to sell:

  • Inform, direct, or entice a customer to take a desired action
  • Attract attention, create intrigue, and promote interest
  • Expose people to and educate them about your brand
  • Strengthen your brand’s awareness and customer recognition
  • Stand out from the competition

Above all, signage is a tangible, visible representation of your brand. When consumers look at it, they draw conclusions about your business based on how it looks and what the message says. They’ll make assumptions—warranted or otherwise—based on how your signage comes off to them.

If your signage sends a good message and creates a positive emotion, there’s a good chance your brand will benefit in some way. A customer might decide to step inside your business and buy something or develop a positive association with your brand that leads them to recommend you to a friend. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Poor signage will spark a lackluster response and may even lower people’s expectations or perceptions of your business. In a world where perception is reality, good signage is vital and important!

Make Signage Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Signage is one of the best ways to interact with people in the physical world. Consumers can’t send a sign to spam or unsubscribe from your signage. It’s always there, always visible, always prevalent. In the age of digital marketing, nothing comes close to the staying power of physical signage.

For these reasons, signage is a great addition to your marketing strategy. It provides an opportunity to capture an audience that you may not normally reach on other channels, and it reinforces your messaging to build loyalty with existing customers. Where, when and how you display signage gives it an almost infinite range of possibilities to build awareness, drive traffic, and spark more sales.

Like all your marketing, you want to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message. With signage, you have the benefit of choosing the location it’s displayed. Consider the context of that location, and cater your messaging accordingly. For example, a sign in the window of a business will prompt more immediate action and can lead to a purchase, whereas an advertisement in an airport will be more informational.

Use Signs to Grab Attention

Also consider your audience. Your message should be relevant and meaningful to the type of person you’re trying to attract—including copy, visuals, tone, branding, and the call to action. Use language and images that will resonate with them and give them a reason to do something other than just look at your sign. Push them to act!

The possibilities for signage are virtually endless. Businesses can create signs in any size, shape, color, or material and display them just about anywhere. Really, you’re only limited by your imagination, but there are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Keep your message simple. No more than seven words is a common rule of thumb.
  • Make the text big enough that it’s easy to read from afar.
  • Choose a compelling color scheme—one that’s on brand, yet easy on the eyes.
  • Provide contrast between text and colors or backgrounds to ensure legibility.
  • Keep it consistent with your brand identity, including copy, images, and CTA.

Want to really kick your signage up a notch? Consider placing it where and when your audience least expects it, but where it’s poised to make a big impression. These are generally places where immediate action isn’t possible (like in a bathroom or on a billboard), but where the unexpectedness of the sign will imprint its message in a more meaningful way.

You can also take a creative approach to get people intrigued by your signage. Ever follow arrows on the ground or footprints in a store? That’s creative signage at its finest!

What Signs are Best for Your Business?

The type of signs you select will depend heavily on their intent. Below are some of the most common types of commercial signage and their benefits.

Banners, Flags, and Large-scale Signage

There’s no ignoring banners, flags, and other large-scale signage outside of a storefront! These can’t-miss signs are best for general attention-getting and communicating one clear objective to attract passersby and draw them in.

Wall and Floor Graphics

Great for indoor and outdoor applications alike, wall and floor graphics give direction, boost brand awareness, and promote clear actions for customers.

Use wall graphics to showcase your brand and reiterate your brand values. One way to think about it is as a statement wall, but instead of paint it’s a branded wall graphic! Floor graphics are great for wayfinding but can be useful for delivering brand messages, too. Today, many businesses are using floor graphics as a way to enforce social distancing.

Digital Signage

Digital signage blends the benefits and broad possibilities of digital technology with the proven efficacy of physical signage. The result is highly-customizable, always-relevant signage.

Digital signs are a good option for those who want greater flexibility and personalization. They allow you to easily adjust your message for different audiences or at different times of the day. They offer variety in media types, such as videos, GIFs, and animations in place of static imagery. And in some cases, they even encourage the consumer to interact with your brand, as with touchscreens and digital wayfinding signs.

Vinyl Wraps

Not just for vehicles, vinyl wraps can turn windows, kiosks, furniture, cornhole boards, and anything else with a smooth surface into a curated advertisement with a clear, concise message.

With vinyl wraps, you have the ability to provide information about your business or advertise in non-traditional places. Additional benefits include: resilience against weather and wear over time; full customization across shapes, sizes, styles, and colors; and reusability when printed with the right materials.

The options for signage don’t end there, and neither do the possibilities for attracting and engaging your audience. Talk to a signage expert at AlphaGraphics to learn more about the many types of signage and the infinite customization options available, so you can bring your message to life in the most effective way.

6 Sides of the agBox That Will Elevate Your Marketing

At AlphaGraphics, we develop custom, innovative solutions and use the latest technology to take brands to the next level. Our newest innovation is agBox, a way for businesses to build and share unique branded experiences for virtually any occasion.

agBox can be infinitely customized to your brand and whatever initiative you want to enhance. Here we share some of the ideas we are most excited about¾the ones that build outstanding experiences from the moment they arrive! Consider these as a starting point as you decide which agBox to build for your audience!

The following examples are designed with an eye toward remote work and play, but the concepts can be applied to any comprehensive marketing strategy or business initiative.

1. eventBox

Galas, fun runs, and trade shows are just a few of the events that have gone virtual for the time being. But how best to engage virtual participants? New circumstances call for new innovations—enter the event in a box.

Event in a box supplies participants with promotional items that keep the event top-of-mind and in the public eye. Bracelets? T-shirts? Perhaps even yard signs, if the event calls for grassroots fundraising? Encourage participants to go the extra mile by supplying them with a small pack of stickers, flyers, and buttons, giving them the tools to turn this year’s virtual fundraiser into the most successful event yet.

2. salesBox

Sales pitches are even more daunting in an age of remote conferencing. Distractibility makes it difficult to connect and raises the likelihood that contracts will go unsigned. But what if you could command the attention of your potential customer?

A sales box brings any pitch to the forefront of the prospect’s attention. Flat graphs and presentations are no substitute for tangible earnings reports or sales decks. Of course, you could opt for a flashier array of gifts to accompany those well-printed documents. At the very least, the sales box represents your company’s willingness to go the extra mile—a gesture that will surely be noted when decisions are being made.

3. conferenceBox

With conferences and meetings moving online, it’s difficult to get the same level of engagement as you would at a traditional in-person event. A conference in a box can take your virtual event to a whole new level.

A conference in a box full of branded giveaways creates a tangible, immersive experience to accompany your virtual event. Pens, flash drives, key chains, tumblers, totes, stationery, and printed conference materials are just a few of the items that really shine in this type of box—but the sky is the limit! Go above and beyond your attendees’ expectations and leave them feeling invigorated long after the event has ended.

4. partyBox

Celebration and connection are crucial components of any corporate culture, and the party in a box helps deliver just that. Whether you’re celebrating birthdays, reveling in the acquisition of new business, or just attending virtual happy hours with colleagues you haven’t seen in months, a party delivered to your doorstep raises everyone’s spirits.

For less than the cost of lunch, your business has the ability to reward your high-functioning teams for their continued success. Want to show your appreciation for your rising stars with branded sunglasses? How about glassware to toast during happy hour? The choices for your personalized party in a box are virtually limitless.

5. new hireBox

Getting new team members up-to-speed in a remote work environment is a challenge for any business. However, remote working provides an opportunity for creative onboarding. Immerse new team members in your corporate culture before their first day on the job with a new hire box!

Consider what knowledge is vital to the continued health and growth of your business, then consolidate those findings into quick-hit reference sheets to be included in the box. Add in all the supplies a remote worker needs, from day planners to corporate swag, and voila! Your new employee feels like part of the team from day one.

6. holidayBox

The holidays provide the perfect backdrop to make your employees feel a sense of togetherness, and we can all attest to how important that will be this year. Take the time to express your thanks and gratitude to your hard-working teams with a holiday in a box.

If your business is planning a virtual holiday party, this is the ideal opportunity to make sure everyone receives their due appreciation. A well-timed holiday in a box ensures your virtual holiday party is one to remember by creating a sense of anticipation and excitement leading up to the event. Take it one step further by tagging your boxes with a note, “Do Not Open Until MM/DD!” The joy of an entire team unwrapping their gifts in unison will connect even the most remote workers and set the tone for a successful year ahead.

Think Inside the Box

As you can see, the options for an agBox are truly limitless. If it fits in a box, there’s a good chance we can deliver it to your target audience to provide a unique, immersive, and unforgettable experience!

If you feel inspired to send an agBox to your customers, prospective clients, or colleagues, get started today by contacting one of our marketing and print service centers near you to schedule a free consultation.

We’re excited to see what kind of “inside the box” creations you come up with!

7 Ways to Make Your Holiday Marketing Stand Out

The holiday season is fast approaching. Customers are beginning to think about holiday preparations and gifts, and companies are starting to ramp up their marketing efforts to attract shoppers. Throughout November and December, the competition for attention will be fierce.

To keep your brand top-of-mind throughout the busy holiday season and bring new and existing customers through your doors, you’ll want to take steps to make your marketing efforts stand out from the crowd. Use these seven tips to give your holiday marketing a competitive edge.

1. Use tactics that grab attention

Especially during the holiday season, customers are overwhelmed with emails, mailers, catalogs, social posts, and other communications from brands—and their attention starts to dwindle. In order to bring your company front and center, your marketing tactics should be designed to immediately catch and hold the customer’s attention.

One way to make sure you do this is to reach out to customers across multiple mediums, both in digital and print. Increasing the number of touchpoints your customer has with your brand increases the chance they’ll remember and pay attention to you.

There are also many simple enhancements you can make to your marketing campaigns that will have a more memorable impression. For example, instead of sharing static images on social media, consider sharing GIFs, animations, or videos—the activity and motion will help to catch the viewer’s eye. On printed pieces, add embellishments like metallic foiling, embossing, or coatings to texturize mailers and provide something unique and special.

2. Tell your audience what sets your brand apart

Your marketing pieces shouldn’t be the only things that stand out from the competition—your brand itself should, too. Consider what makes your company different from competitors and let your audience know.

Customers are drawn to the unique aspects of a brand—what makes them more personable or what aligns with their own values. Perhaps all of your products are made locally, or you donate a portion of your sales to a nonprofit organization. Every brand has its own unique elements, so broadcast those to your audiences to let them know what you’re about!

3. Take a customer-first approach

It’s tempting to explain all the cool features of your products or services to customers, but think about things from their perspective. You want customers to see value in your offerings—to know that your products can make their lives easier, happier, or better.

Shape your marketing messages around what your products can do for your customers and how they will benefit from buying them. Tap into your audience’s emotions to convey the feelings and experiences they’ll have once they own your product or use your service.

4. Personalize your campaigns

Customers like to know that brands understand them, and there’s no better way to prove that you do than by creating highly targeted campaigns designed around their wants and needs.

Start by clearly defining your target audience. Understand who those buyers are and what they care about, particularly around this time of year. Then segment your audience groups—such as new leads versus returning customers—and craft separate messages for each group in both your content and advertising campaigns.

Try to identify pain points or challenges for those audience segments and offer solutions to make their lives easier. During the holidays, one of the biggest pain points is stress from gift shopping. Use demographics and other customer data to make personalized gift recommendations or highlight seasonal offers that are relevant to them.

5. Appeal to emotions

The holidays are a particularly emotional time of year. Your customers are bound to feel many strong emotions, such as gratitude, hope, nostalgia, delight, reflection, celebration, and togetherness.

Using these emotions can add a special element to your campaigns and directly align with how customers feel to create a more positive impression. Consider your audience and choose a few emotions or holiday sentiments that are most likely to resonate with them.

For example, parents might respond well to messages of togetherness and celebration, while younger shoppers might be more impressed with sentiments of wonder and excitement. Be sure to tie these emotions into the messages, imagery, and overall look and feel of your campaigns.

6. Keep up with your content strategy

Throughout the holiday season, all too many companies take a sales-heavy approach and overwhelm customers with endless discounts and promotions. Sales fatigue can weigh on customers and cause them to tune these messages out. Alternately, by sharing informative, inspirational, and seasonal content, your brand can stand out from the noise.

Content proves your value to customers and engages them instead of merely selling to them. Make deeper connections with your audiences by sharing content that is useful and relevant, that helps them solve a need or reduce holiday stress, and that positions you as a thought leader in your industry.

The holidays are the perfect time to share special, themed content. There are plenty of options to choose from, including holidays gift guides, recipes, how-to videos for DIY gifts, quizzes, and much more.

7. Share in the spirit of the season

The holidays aren’t just about selling—they’re a time to show gratitude and give back to those who help your business thrive. Make sure you spread some holiday cheer to your customers, staff, and community to forge even deeper connections.

Your brand can make an impact by doing good in the community. Have your entire team volunteer with a local nonprofit, or team up with a charity to raise money or donations.

The spirit of the season should also extend to your customers. Show gratitude to them for supporting your business by sending thank-you notes from your team or hosting a “thank-you” event and inviting local community members. If you have a few key clients or customers, you could even send thoughtful gifts to remind them of how important they are to you. Even a small gesture can go a long way!

Think strategically for seasonal marketing

Marketing during the holiday season requires a little extra effort to ensure your brand’s voice is heard. By paying close attention to your audience, your messages, and what helps your company stand out, you can craft creative marketing campaigns that bolster your brand’s holiday marketing efforts.

How to Combine Digital and Print for More Effective Marketing Campaigns

Digital marketing has largely been adopted as a key marketing strategy for many businesses, but that doesn’t mean print is dead. In fact, print and digital marketing can work together to create more effective campaigns.

By using print as an extension of your digital marketing efforts, your campaigns can go even farther than with digital alone. Print can help drive traffic to your digital channels. What’s more, combining print and digital allows for additional touchpoints in the customer journey, helping to boost brand awareness and improve engagement. Print not only adds more touchpoints, but it also adds variety and memorability to your campaigns to help your brand stand out.

Print marketing comes in many forms, including direct mail, brochures and fliers, sales materials like fact sheets and catalogs, print ads, and even stationery and business cards. Signage is also an important aspect of print marketing. By using these tangible items to reinforce the messages you send on digital channels, you can add authenticity and trust to your campaigns and make a greater impact.

Combining Social Media and Print Marketing

Social media is a necessary component of digital marketing. Through your social channels, you can have conversations, build relationships, and get customers more engaged with your brand. Using print marketing strategically can bolster these efforts.

One of the ways to combine print and social media is to use printed materials to direct consumers to your social channels. Include your social media handles on all printed marketing collateral, so customers and leads know where to find you online. You might even take it one step further and advertise exclusive content within your print pieces to gain new followers on a particular social platform. In that case, set up an autoresponder on your brand’s account for when someone new follows you, and share the content piece within that automated direct message.

Printed materials can also prompt consumers to join the conversation on your social platforms. Include a unique hashtag on printed collateral and encourage customers to use it online.

It can also work the other way—social media can bolster the effectiveness of your print campaigns. Social channels offer a wealth of consumer data beyond basic demographics, such as likes and interests, that you can use to create highly targeted print materials or direct mail campaigns. You might find success using this data to entice leads with targeted freebies like content or giveaway items.

Combining Websites, Email, and Print Marketing

Your website and email lists are two other crucial components of your digital marketing strategy. Current and potential customers use your website and emails to learn more about your brand and stay up to date. These, too, can be integrated with print marketing for maximum effect.

Use print marketing to drive traffic to key landing pages on your website. If you want to recruit email subscribers, add a QR code or a shortened URL that takes users directly to your sign-up page. You can also do this for product pages or digital catalogs; showcase a few popular products on the printed piece, then direct buyers to the full catalog or an order page. If you’re offering a giveaway, the same rules apply. Advertise the giveaway on the printed piece and include a QR code or URL that takes the consumer to a page where they can redeem the gift.

Two-part content campaigns also work really well with print and digital marketing. Include a teaser for a piece of content on your printed material, and direct customers to your website or email newsletter to view the rest.

Leveraging Digital and Print Technology

What’s exciting about the combination of digital and print marketing is that advancements in technology have allowed for greater interactivity between the print and digital worlds.

One example of this is personalization. Variable data printing, which allows variations in text, colors, graphics, and images based on the recipient, lets you personalize almost all printed materials. This extends to things like personalized URLs—when added to print pieces, PURLs direct customers to landing pages that are highly targeted and customized to them. You can even use PURLs to pre-fill a lead’s information into online forms.

Print goes farther using new technology like augmented reality, which blends the physical and digital worlds with just a smartphone. Similar to adding QR codes, you can use AR in print marketing to send the consumer to a landing page, form, video, or app; it can even allow them to make a phone call or send an email.

But AR can do much more to enhance the digital experience of your printed pieces. It can reveal hidden text, images, or graphics on your mailers when looked at on a screen. It can turn flat images on sales sheets into 3D models and make them interactive. You can even use AR to launch animations, videos, and sound effects to create more immersive campaigns.

Creating the Most Effective Blended Marketing Campaigns

Of course, when combining digital and print marketing efforts, you still want to adhere to marketing best practices. Most notably, make sure the content you send through any medium is relevant and valuable to the audience. Using print and digital together allows you to take this a step further and really personalize your content for a highly targeted campaign.

All of your materials—online and offline—should include a clear call to action. If you’re using print to drive customers to an online location, make the offer and directions clear and easy to follow, or you might not see as much engagement as you’d hoped for.

Also pay attention to the design of your printed and digital pieces and how they work together. Link graphics, colors, and fonts across mediums for brand cohesion. Make sure your print pieces draw attention, so consumers want to check out your digital offerings. Using special embellishments like foil, embossing, glossy or matte coatings, or die and laser cuts on your printed materials can grab and hold the customer’s attention enough to direct them online.

Finally, tracking your campaigns is extremely important. Consider how you will measure ROI for both printed and digital items. QR codes and custom URLs can help you track how many people are following through on the print-to-digital jump. You might also track usage of a unique discount code provided only on printed marketing materials to see how effectively your print campaigns contributed to purchases or conversions.

Print is just as important in your marketing campaigns as ever, but with today’s technological enhancements, print will serve a different purpose as a tangible extension of your digital campaigns. By combining your digital campaigns with print in unique and engaging ways, you’ll be able to amplify your marketing efforts and see better results.

8 Ways to Engage Local Customers Each and Every Day

Local small businesses live and die by their reputation among customers in a well-defined geographic area. If your local customers love your business and identify with your brand, a business can boom quickly and grow steadily. If they’re turned off by your brand identity, you’re likely to suffer at the hands of your only consumer base.

Getting into and staying in the good graces of local customers means not only presenting a business model and brand that’s appealing, but continuing to present that image. Forgetting about your business is almost as bad for your bottom line as disagreeing with it!

Staying in front of your local customers without becoming an annoyance can be tricky. Luckily, there are a few surefire ways to tread that line with impunity, keeping your business a local fan-favorite:

Explore Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a subtle, yet powerful way to stay on the local radar. If you’re a restaurant, invite local business reps to bring their lunch meetings to you. If you’re a print shop, volunteer your services for a local nonprofit. Influencer marketing is all about grassroots reputation building. Find people who will talk about your brand, and give them a reason to say positive things!

Get Involved In Your Community

If people see you as a fixture in the community, they’re going to support your business. Attend local events, donate to local groups and maintain your standing at the local level. Remember, every local impression you make is absorbed by your potential customer base.

Respond To Reviews

Whether positive or negative, it’s important to show your local customers you’re engaged. Responding on social platforms to reviews is a great way to stay in their world. Customers who take the time to leave a review or ask a question give you permission to engage them—capitalize on this in a simple, positive way and others will take note of it.

Advertise As A Service, Not Interruption

This is the essence of passive marketing. Display your daily specials on a chalkboard, leave your door open with a sales flyer at the entrance or offer a punch card for customer loyalty. These are all ways you can reach customers daily, without interrupting.

Improve Your Exterior Signage

As a local brick and mortar establishment, your exterior signage is going to do more for you than any digital ad. Make sure you’re making an investment in your primary storefront signage—it’ll translate into daily impressions that serve to keep you relevant within the local consumer class.

Consider Sponsorship

There are numerous opportunities for sponsorship with a community. From 5k runs to bike races, little league teams to car shows and more, these events need support. You’ll showcase the vested interest you have in local events and gain the respect of brand advocates who sing your praises. Moreover, if things like shirts or bumper stickers are part of the sponsorship, these items will continue to market for you long after the event has passed.

Support Local Radio

Local radio is a great marketing medium for your customer demographic—it spans only as far as your potential customers do! Having a radio spot here and there is a great way to get your name into the mix. Whether they’re sitting in traffic on the way home or scanning channels for something to listen to, customers are going to hear your appeal and remember it.

Experiment With Digital Ads

In the modern age of digital advertising, PPC ads can geographically targeted. Whether you’re advertising through Google or Facebook, targeting only your local crowd will make sure you’re getting face time each and every day. And, thanks to nominal costs, this blanketing method of advertising can also be the most cost-efficient.

Remember, your local customer pool is the only one you’ve got to work with: make sure you’re cultivating a brand that’s valued by them! Consider the above ways to stay relevant and popular among your local customers.

Want even more great ideas on how to get your business noticed in your local market? Come visit us, AlphaGraphics Middleton!

Why You Need Content Marketing to Build Customer Loyalty

In the age of fierce competition and high brand standards, building customer loyalty is key for small businesses. You want buyers to return to your company again and again because of what your brand has to offer. In order to obtain this loyalty, your brand will need to start by building customer trust.

Trust and loyalty are hallmarks of good relationships with your customer base. To accomplish these things, you need buyers to find value in your brand—not just in your products or services, but the company’s existence as a whole.

Unfortunately, it’s tougher than ever to have in-person interactions with customers, so you’ll need to shift your relationship-building efforts to new platforms and modes of communication. The best way to do this, and to build loyalty and trust along the way, is to use content marketing.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and delivering valuable, relevant content to your customers on a regular basis. Content marketing can take on many forms and be delivered through a wide range of platforms. Most importantly, content marketing is used to engage, excite, educate, and delight your customers in order to build those lasting, trusting relationships.

Why content marketing? The approach has a number of purposes:

  • Attract and engage customers: Posting content on a regular basis provides something for your current customers to engage with and enjoy, but it also provides more avenues for potential customers to find you and encourages them to give your brand a shot.
  • Demonstrate value: Customers don’t just turn to your brand for your products and services. They’re looking for value, whether in the form of entertainment, education, or expertise. Through content marketing, you can demonstrate your brand’s thought leadership and deliver consistent value.
  • Nourish and strengthen relationships: Creating engaging content helps to foster relationships with your customers, then continue to nourish and strengthen those relationships by remaining consistent and valuable.

A lot of brands misuse content marketing and are disappointed with their results. This is largely because of a misunderstanding of what, exactly, content marketing should be used for.

Content marketing is not about completing transactions. It’s not an ad that will close a sale or entice a customer to purchase right away. Rather than using content marketing to drive sales, use it to give your audience what they need and want. Whereas ads might turn people off or seem pushy, content marketing offers something interesting to the audience and positions your brand as an expert or an inspiration.

There are tons of ways to do this, from blog posts to videos to eBooks and infographics. Any type of useful, creative content can be incorporated into a content marketing plan.

For instance, if you run a clothing boutique, you might share photographed look books to inspire buyers’ fashion choices. If you run a plant nursery, you might create a series of videos teaching gardening basics. No matter what type of content you choose, it should inspire, teach, and engage a specific audience: your customers.

Using content marketing to build trust and loyalty

So, how do you use content marketing strategically to build trust and loyalty among your customers? There are a few ways you can approach it.

  • Be authentic: One of the most important things to remember about content marketing is that all your content—whether it’s a video series, webinar, or photos—should be authentic to your brand. Stick to the same messages, style, and voice you use in other aspects of marketing. You don’t want your content to come off as forced. Instead, it should feel familiar and approachable.
  • Tell a story: Nothing is quite as engaging as a good story, and storytelling is a great way to build emotional connections with your audience. Use content marketing to tell stories relating to your company. You could tell your brand’s story and history or even the story of a customer who found success by using your products and services.
  • Show how you do good: Is your business committed to giving back to the community? Does your brand support a particular cause, or do your employees volunteer for a local organization? Show customers how and why you choose to do good in this way. Done correctly, this type of content can build trust and loyalty by proving to the audience that you’re dedicated to more than just making money.
  • Humanize your brand: More and more customers are interested in learning about the faces behind their favorite brands. Content marketing gives you the perfect opportunity to humanize your brand by showing off the people behind your operations. For example, you could create employee spotlights or share photos of company events.
  • Allow customers to interact: The best content is that which allows customers to actually engage and interact with your brand. Try to incorporate interactive content into your marketing plan to open up a two-way conversation. Fun things like quizzes work well on social media, while webinars and workshops allow a smaller segment of your audience to get even more value from your company.

Give your customers what they need

You don’t want to make content just for the sake of making content. The most important aspect of content marketing is ensuring that you create and deliver content that’s tailored to your audience. Rather than push information and ads on customers to drive what you need and want, give them what they need and want. Doing this will show your customers that you have value to offer and will build more trust and loyalty.

To do this, you need to understand who your customers truly are. Drill down on their demographics and psychographics to determine the specific segments of your audience. Then, create content specifically for them. They should find everything you share useful and relevant.

The content for every brand will be different, but to narrow down on the focus your content should have, ask yourself:

  • What challenges do my customers have, and what solutions can my brand offer?
  • What topics are relevant to my audience?
  • What does my audience care about?
  • What can I teach customers that will add value to their lives?

Most importantly, don’t use content marketing to sell. Although your content should always be relevant to your brand and might even mention your products and services, its main focus should be on the engagement and value it delivers—not on your brand making a profit. When done correctly, content marketing will convince customers to check out your offerings on their own because they trust you and appreciate the value you have to offer.

Everyone pays more attention to content that’s tailored to their specific interests. By focusing your content marketing strategy around what your customers truly want, they’ll learn that your brand offers immense value. Continue using different types of content to nourish and strengthen the relationships you have with your customers; trust and loyalty are sure to follow, at which point you’ve created a customer for life.

Cut Through the Noise with Print Marketing admin

 

Before the advent of social media marketing and digital advertising, print marketing was one of the top ways marketers could affordably and effectively reach customers. Now, as technology continues to evolve and shift consumer behavior as a result, businesses rely on both digital and print marketing strategies to get their message across.

Print marketing can provide your business immense value and help cut through the noise of your competitors, particularly right now. Here’s why you should focus on print marketing efforts and the benefits that await you if you do.

The value of print marketing

As the world faces a new normal and consumers adapt to major changes in both their work and social lives, marketers should re-examine the value that print marketing can provide. Here are just a few reasons print marketing is likely to be effective:

  • Digital marketing fatigue: In response to recent events, businesses have leaned heavily on digital marketing. As a result, customers are barraged with a seemingly endless stream of emails and advertisements online, on social media, and on their devices. When everything looks like an ad online, customers quickly stop paying attention. By appearing offline, print marketing helps cut through the digital fatigue.
  • Rising email opt-outs: Along the same lines, digital fatigue means that email opt-outs are on the rise. Companies may discover higher rates of email opt-outs as customers try to scale down their inboxes—particularly if the content of the email isn’t relevant to their changing situation. If your main focus is on email marketing rather than something physical, you might be shut out with a single click.
  • Too much screen time: After working, socializing, and entertaining themselves online day in and day out, more and more consumers are making an effort to minimize screen time. This essentially means they are actively shutting out digital ads. Print marketing helps to engage customers in a different way—and in a way that may not be so easily dismissed.
  • Physical mail can be a brand experience: Direct mail hasn’t stopped, and customers are heading to the mailbox every single day. In some cases, they are even excited about it! With the right kind of direct mail piece, you can catch their attention and provide further opportunities for them to interact with your brand. For example, the packaging of your direct mail piece can be, in itself, an immersive brand experience, or the piece can include a QR code or URL for the customer to continue engaging with your business.
  • Signage catches the eye of customers on-the-go: Many customers are anxious to get out after months of isolation. Physical signage is more important than ever to catch the eyes of these pedestrians or drivers. A large banner, flag, or window sign can attract a digitally fatigued customer the moment they’re ready to buy.

Grabbing and holding a customer’s attention with print

In print, attention to detail and unique designs, colors, textures, and personalization can make your marketing materials pop more than they would on the screen. Even the ability to hold something physical in their hands gives your customers a tangible and memorable experience. Marketers can use the power of print to grab and hold their customers’ attention.

Direct mail

Direct mail may seem simple, but there are a lot of considerations to make when designing your piece. What size and shape will it be? Should it be folded or flat? How will the customer physically interact with it? Also consider the finish your mailers use. Different coatings can make colors pop and shine and provide a textural element to the piece. No matter what you choose to do, always align the design with your branding and style.

Direct mail can also be personalized thanks to variable data printing. Think about whether you want to incorporate any variable elements into your piece. A highly tailored mailer can make a lasting impression, just make sure you have accurate and reliable data to produce a variable piece effectively.

Finally, consider your packaging. A postcard might be sent alone, but envelopes and boxes should include branded elements inside and out. Package your direct mail piece in a way that makes the customer excited to open it.

Signage

Signage can also be used to tell a story and create an experience for customers. This all starts by letting customers know your business is open and ready to serve. Make “Now Open” signs inviting and fun while matching them to your brand.

The best signage also shares your value proposition and other brand messages with passerby. What value do you offer? Why should customers stop in? Entice them with a great offer or benefit.

When designing your signage, don’t forget to utilize all available space for the biggest effect. Each side or angle can share a different message to customers. For example, banners have two sides—you can welcome customers in and thank them as they leave, or customize both sides of your banner with different brand messages.

Stand out from your competition with print

Using print marketing not only helps you reach customers in a different way from your competition, it can also make your customers feel special. When you craft a personalized and unique print campaign, you demonstrate to customers that you’re putting in the time and effort to serve them. Plus, your brand will stand out from the sea of emails and digital ads to engage your customers in new ways.

Explore the Outdoors! 8 Outdoor Activities That Are Good for Your Family’s Mind and Body

Summer is officially almost here, which means kids are done with school and the weather is enticing people to get outside. This is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and discover what’s available in your own backyard.

Many states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and are giving residents more freedom to travel while maintaining social distancing guidelines. This gives your family ample opportunities to explore the outdoors and have some summer fun.

If your kids (or you) are itching to head outside, check out these eight social-distance-friendly summer activities that can stimulate the mind and body.

  1. Go camping in your backyard: Camping in state or national parks isn’t available in all states right now. Even if it is an option for you, the demand is high, and it might be difficult to land a spot. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far to enjoy a camping adventure. Instead, host a family “staycation” and enjoy camping in your own backyard! Help your kids pitch the tent, unplug from your phones and tablets, and roast marshmallows over a backyard fire pit or camping stove.
  2. Hit the hiking trail: Hiking is not a banned activity in most areas—especially not on trails near your home. Pack some snacks, water, and sunscreen, and take your family on a hike to enjoy the scenery and the feeling of getting lost for a little while. This can help soothe stir-craziness and give everyone some exercise.
  3. Go geocaching as a family: Geocaching is like a real-life treasure hunt that your whole family can participate in. Better yet, you can do it without interacting with anyone else. All you need is a GPS system and the coordinates of a cache before you can hit the town in search of treasure. Because geocaching is like a game, it’s perfect for kids. Encourage them to bring a small trinket or toy to leave in the cache for others to find later.
  4. Get a little messy with crafts: Kids love craft time, and there are tons of educational and creative activities you can find online. However, some of them can create a big mess you don’t want in your house. When the weather is nice, set up a tarp or table outside and let your kids get a little messy! Now is the perfect time for slime, sidewalk paint, and bubbles thanks to easier clean up.
  5. Take the pup to a dog park: Our furry friends need to get out, too! If your local dog park is open, bring the family and pups out to play. Being there also gives you the opportunity to chat with other dog owners and get to know more community members while still social distancing.
  6. Do a little birdwatching: Nature has lots to offer, including peace and quiet. Birdwatching can be a relaxing and fun hobby for people young and old. Purchase a simple birdwatching guide and binoculars, and head to your local park to help your kids identify the birds twittering in the trees. You can even make birdwatching into a game to get the little ones involved. Challenge them to identify as many birds as they can in a day, or make a list of common local birds and give them a stamp for each one they see.
  7. Hold a backyard sports tournament: Many recreational and school sports clubs have been cancelled, and your kids might have lost their creative and energetic outlets in the process. This doesn’t mean they can’t play, though! Get the family together to host a sports tournament in the backyard. You can switch between your kids’ favorite games, like basketball, soccer, flag football, or even ping pong. Don’t forget to reward the winners with a small prize for their sportsmanship!
  8. Take weekly field trips: It’s likely that your local community has a ton of hidden gems, so take advantage of them by going on local field trips. Pick one day a week that works for your family, and head to a nearby museum, monument, park, or another interesting place. While there, teach your children something new about the place you’re visiting and why it’s important. You can even get your kids involved with planning by asking what they’re interested in and creating a field trip destination list as a family.

Getting outside and exploring your local community this summer can keep kids occupied, help you get exercise, and stimulate your minds—all while social distancing. By making time for family outdoor activities, you can fight off boredom and help your children enjoy their summer in new ways!

Maintaining Your Business’s Culture in the New Normal

Of all the factors that drive business success, culture is among the most important. People need to come to work each day and feel good about what they do—like they’re part of a team; somewhere they’re appreciated. Good culture is the secret sauce for any successful business.

A lot of what creates good culture comes from the everyday interactions people have while at work. Casual conversation around the water cooler. Meetings they sit in on. Brainstorming sessions between coworkers.

Seeing people and interacting with the physical workplace are the biggest building blocks of culture. For many businesses, those building blocks are gone for the time being. We’re working from home, social distancing, and minimizing our interaction with the workplace. It begs the question: How can you preserve your company’s positive culture in the face of these changes?

The workplace and the way we work may be changing, but a strong culture can survive these changes. To make sure your people feel appreciated, recognized, and fulfilled, you need to adapt your culture to the new norm.

Keep your culture strong while at home

Remote work is here to stay. Even if you don’t keep your team on a full-time telecommuting schedule, your culture needs to extend beyond the physical workplace. Watercooler chats become Slack channels. Weekly meetings become Zoom calls. The 9-5 workday becomes “whenever someone messages you back.”

What businesses need to realize is that while the way we do things may be changing, what we do can stay relatively the same thanks to technology. Coworkers can still crack jokes back and forth—only now, they can send memes and gifs. They can still compare notes after a meeting—they’ll just collaborate in a Google Doc, instead.

For your culture to stay strong, you need to provide employees with the means to keep things as close to normal as possible. They may be working from home, away from the workplace and the people in it, but if they can still get the same level of interaction and gratification, positive culture will persevere.

Revitalize your culture

New shifts in work habits and routines can give you a chance to revitalize parts of your culture that might be stagnant or antiquated. Use the “new normal” as a way to reinvent parts of your business that have a direct impact on culture.

Ask yourself how you can support and encourage employees—both as a group and on an individual level. Small changes and improvements can go a long way toward revitalizing your company culture and rejuvenating a workforce that might feel initially displaced.

Take care of your staff

The biggest contributor to positive culture in a time like this is taking care of your staff. Make sure their needs are met, and do what it takes to provide them with confidence and assurance. Often, this is simple:

  • Get them set up to work remotely and answer any questions they have
  • Make adjustments to policies and protocols that make telecommuting easier
  • Check in with employees individually and see that they have what they need
  • Provide a medium for feedback and take meaningful strides to support workers

It comes down to accommodating and enabling your staff. If they can ease comfortably into their new situation and feel supported doing so, they’ll make the transition just fine. Conversely, if the pressure is always on and they feel overburdened, it’ll contribute to a negative company culture.

Focus on employee wellness

For individuals telecommuting, their living space has now become their workplace. This can have big ramifications for their physical and mental health. Employers need to recognize the strain that comes with living where you work and provide outlets for alleviating some of the burdens that accompany this radical change. Some very simple examples include:

  • Employee wellness packages and offering time off or personal days
  • Flexible work schedules within a set range of hours or over a period of days
  • Encouraging relaxation breaks and wellness activities, such as yoga or even a nap
  • Wellness games and incentives, encouraging employees to stay active and healthy

Whether it’s hosting a department-wide watch party for a movie on Friday night or tallying points for employees who rack up steps on their pedometer, make employee health a priority. Positive culture can only come from a workforce that’s physically and mentally well and who feel like you value them beyond their ability to work.

Make new employees feel welcome

The workforce is always in flux, which means adding new members to your team and saying goodbye to those who find new opportunities. Maintaining culture amidst growth and turnover comes from engrained processes. How will you practice onboarding in a virtual environment without leaving new employees feeling isolated? What steps can you take to integrate them into the team in a meaningful way?

Make onboarding and team recognition core elements of your new normal. Try virtual meet-and-greets or Friday conference calls and activities. Encourage inclusion into group communication threads. The quicker people feel like they’re part of a team, the stronger your culture grows.

Welcome the new norm

We’ve all had to change the way we work—and the changes likely aren’t over. The new norm is becoming clearer by the day and, for most people, that means more time spent interacting with people from a distance. This doesn’t mean the death of your company culture! It means new opportunities to grow a positive culture in your workplace. All it takes is a little adaptation and a focus on the people responsible for your business’ success.