4 New Ways to Connect with Customers in 2022

A new year is on the horizon, and there’s no better time to think about getting a fresh start or exploring new ideas on behalf of your business. As technology evolves and customer expectations shift, it’s important for marketers to be constantly examining their strategies and evaluating whether it’s time to make adjustments.

If you’re looking for new ways to connect with your customers in the coming year, check out our top ideas.

Augmented Reality and Interactive Print

Print is increasingly going beyond the page as new technologies offer potential for creative integration into traditional media. Augmented reality (AR) refers to the overlay of digital elements atop the real world — typically experienced via a smartphone screen. This technology offers the opportunity for a fun and engaging experience that adds another dimension to your branding. It also allows you to curate an immersive brand experience anywhere, at any time.

The pandemic brought QR codes, which were largely fading out of popularity after a brief period of novelty, roaring back into mainstream use as businesses scrambled for safer alternatives to high-touch print materials like menus. Now, businesses are exploring more unique ways to use QR codes and other forms of augmented reality.

A few ways brands might consider incorporating AR include:
Allow customers to digitally “try on” products like clothing, glasses, and makeup
Help customers find more information about your product or company without taking up space via incorporated QR codes
Bring advertisements to life with interactive digital elements that only appear with the use of a smartphone

Short-Form Video

Ever since TikTok took the world by storm, short-form video has been springing up everywhere. Even if you’re not on the platform yourself, you’ve likely noticed this DIY style of video creation, as well as popular TikTok trends, influencing content on other channels.

All it takes is a creative vision and a little smartphone savviness to hop on this trend yourself. A fun, creatively edited video is an engaging way to tell your brand story or showcase your products and services. Plus, you’ll come across as authentic and relatable, unlike a highly produced commercial which is clearly recognizable as marketing. Have fun with it and your audience will respond.

Hyper-Local Marketing and Advertising

Consumers have grown weary of traditional marketing methods, and are likely to respond with cynicism to a one-size-fits-all, nationwide ad campaign. Instead, prospective shoppers are much more likely to conduct their own research before pulling the trigger on a purchase, ensuring that they can feel good about their decision.

The process of researching a potential purchase typically includes time spent on Google, but modern searchers are more likely to eschew website results in favor of the localized information found on Google business pages. This data could include customer reviews, hours of operation, COVID-19 related requirements, and even details like whether the business is minority-owned.

In addition to Google, consumers are turning to other locally-focused platforms for information, like Nextdoor and Facebook. Ensuring that your business appears on these platforms — particularly along with helpful and consistent information and positive reviews — is a great way to connect with customers while making them feel like they’ve found you on their own.

The hyper-local approach can be applied to more traditional media, too. For example, Every Door Direct Mail® allows you to reach every household on a specific postal route with a marketing mailer. Targeting your audience neighborhood by neighborhood allows for highly personalized messaging. By indicating that you know the community and understand their needs, you’ll build trust with your audience.

Content and Influencer Marketing

As we’ve established, today’s consumers are both savvy and skeptical when it comes to marketing. The best way to get their attention is to meet them where they are and give them something that they consider valuable. That’s why content marketing in particular is skyrocketing in popularity. By creating content that is interesting or entertaining to your customers and relevant to your brand without feeling overly promotional, you’ll capture their attention and garner positive interest.

Along the same lines, influencer marketing allows you to build a positive association between your brand and an individual that your audience already likes. It’s an effective way to get your message in front of your target audience without it feeling forced. Unlike the stiff, inauthentic celebrity endorsements of old, modern influencer marketing comes across as genuine and compelling. It carries the same weight as a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted friend.

Evolving Your Marketing in 2022

Don’t be afraid to try out something new with your marketing in the new year. The more you can demonstrate that your company understands modern consumers, the more effective your tactics will be.

A partner like AlphaGraphics Middleton can consult with your brand and guide you in determining a path forward that incorporates the newest marketing trends without losing sight of what your brand stands for. From print pieces that come to life digitally, to a locally optimized web presence, to engaging brand content, AlphaGraphics Middleton can help you bridge the gap between traditional marketing and more modern approaches.

4 Steps to a Total Business Transformation

Enter to win a $25,000 business makeover from AlphaGraphics! Our business makeovers provide a complete transformation that brings business dreams to life. Enter to win one of three $25,000 makeovers that AlphaGraphics is giving away to deserving businesses across the country. Entries are due by November 21, 2021. Enter today at AlphaGraphics.com/MakeItHappen.

It’s easy to wish for the business of your dreams — but how do you actually make it happen? With four simple steps, you can refresh and revitalize your business, build customer loyalty, and expand your reach. Read on to learn more about what goes into an AlphaGraphics makeover, and how to plan your own business transformation.

1. Update Designs

Is your brand feeling outdated, or just not making a strong enough impression? Let’s start there. A graphic design refresh can put a modern spin on your brand to stand out to customers and represent your business accurately. Designers will work with you to understand your business and what makes it unique, then determine how to best communicate it visually in a way that captures attention and makes a lasting impression.

Branding goes beyond a logo. It’s also important to establish the fonts, colors, and imagery that you’ll incorporate into your business designs. If your branding isn’t already well established, a designer can help you outline each element of your visual representation. Once this set of brand guidelines has been created, it’ll be easy for you to keep future business materials consistent.

2. Refresh Print Collateral

With your branding established, it’s important to make sure that it’s reinforced at every customer touchpoint. A print collateral refresh will start by auditing all of your existing print materials that reflect your brand: business cards, brochures, promotional materials, menus, packaging, product labels, and more. Then, opportunities for how to improve them can be identified.

This step could be as simple as just updating your existing collateral to match your refreshed branding — or it could be a complete overhaul. You might take this opportunity to reprint collateral that is highly visible with customers, like your brochures, on higher-quality paper or even incorporate premium print finishes. When it comes to reusable items like menus, opting for extra durable or even waterproof paper can help your print materials stay in good shape for years to come.

You could even come up with new pieces of collateral, or new ways to use existing items. If one of your business goals is to earn more repeat customers, you might create loyalty cards, or coupon cards to hand out with purchases to encourage a return visit. Ensuring that you have the right print collateral for your needs is all part of a business makeover!

3. Rethink Signage

Is your business location eye-catching and enticing to passersby? Can customers easily find their way around your store? Does the interior appearance of your business reflect your branding? These are all questions that you should ask yourself as you’re planning your business makeover — and if the answers are “no,” they’re all problems that can be solved with signage.

Signage that’s well-thought-out, beautifully designed, and properly installed can offer many benefits for your business. Wayfinding signs ensure a pleasant and smooth experience by seamlessly directing customers where they need to go, while window, wall, and floor graphics can reinforce your brand’s visual elements. Seamless navigation and strong branding are both essential to building a memorable and enjoyable experience for anyone who enters your business.

AlphaGraphics Middleton’s signs experts can help you to determine the best types of signage for your space. By identifying empty or underutilized spaces outside of and within your business, you can ensure that every inch of your space is being used to strengthen your branding, build a great customer experience, drive sales, and attract new customers.

4. Spread the Word

So you’ve got a beautifully redecorated storefront, a wow-worthy interior, a brand you’re proud to show off, and a whole suite of high-quality print collateral ready to go. The only thing that’s left to do is to bring in new customers to experience all the positive changes you’ve made!

There are a wide range of digital marketing tools that can help you connect with prospective customers. Your AlphaGraphics Middleton team can guide you through the process of making sure that your digital presence is just as effective as your brick-and-mortar location by examining your SEO performance, website usability, and more. Depending on your business goals, you might place display ads, develop a content marketing strategy, or adopt a CRM system to help you manage leads and deploy multi-channel marketing campaigns. Digital marketing is the cherry on top of your business makeover.

Give Your Business a Fresh Start

Coming off of a difficult year and a half in the wake of COVID-19, there’s no better time to transform your business and breathe new life into your operations. Stop just wishing for the business of your dreams and make it happen! Enter to win a complete business makeover from AlphaGraphics today.

How to Capture Holiday Magic in a Box (and Earn Brand Loyalty)

The holidays are all about connection as we seek to share the magic of the season with those we care about most. In addition to connecting with loved ones, the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to reach out to employees and customers to show your appreciation and strengthen your relationship.

With COVID-19 still affecting our lives and disrupting the way we build those connections, it’s time to get creative this holiday season. Whether or not you’re able to engage in person this year, AlphaGraphics Midleton’s Holiday in a Box is the perfect way to make a memorable impact with your holiday outreach. Read on to get inspired with three ways to make an agBox part of your business’s holiday celebrations.

Holiday Party in a Box

Throwing holiday parties is one of the biggest opportunities for companies to show appreciation to employees during the year. Staff looks forward to fancy dinners, open bars, awards, entertainment, and the opportunity to mingle with colleagues outside of work hours. Unfortunately, many individuals are uncomfortable attending large live events this season while COVID-19 is still a cause for concern.

If your organization opts to forgo the in-person holiday soiree this year, never fear — agBox can deliver the party to employees’ doorsteps. Playing off traditional holiday party elements, these branded boxes might include cocktail sets, giveaways, raffle tickets, and of course, plenty of holiday swag.

Sending employees an agBox is a great way to bring virtual events to life. If you intend to hold a virtual holiday celebration, include items in your Holiday Party Box to make your event more engaging and interactive — like bingo cards, scavenger hunt instructions, or photo props. For extra fun, add a sticker instructing recipients not to open the box until the date of the party, then watch everyone open their boxes at once on screen!

Employee Appreciation Box

If your organization isn’t holding a holiday party at all, an agBox full of branded gifts makes an excellent replacement. With the budget savings from forgoing the rented event space, catering, open bar, and entertainment, you can splurge on high-end gifts that will be enjoyed and cherished by your employees for many years to come.

Popular holiday gift items include jackets, tumblers, blankets, and tech items like portable chargers. Choosing premium gifts from popular brands communicates to your employees that they are valued and the company is willing to spend a little extra to treat them. Be sure to customize everything in your Holiday Box with your company’s branding!

When planning your Holiday Box, think beyond the contents — there’s plenty you can do with the box itself to build a sense of celebration and connection. A custom printed box can reflect your branding or reinforce company values before it’s even been opened. Want to take things a step further? Consider embedding a video player inside the lid of your box that will auto-play a message from company leadership when opened — perfect for adding a personal touch. And if you don’t have the budget for a high-tech box, a handwritten note will do the trick instead. Whatever you choose, these customizations give employees a tangible reminder of who they work for and can help reignite the pride they feel in being a part of the organization.

VIP Customer Box

Holiday boxes aren’t just for employees. Let top customers know that you’re thinking of them too! A thoughtful agBox is a sure way to surprise and delight your clientele. Include a range of gifts that prominently feature your company’s branding — in addition to making your client feel appreciated, these will also earn you free advertising every time they are worn or used! Choosing premium gifts can pay off here too, as people are more likely to use a higher quality item frequently — showing off your brand every time they do.

Take advantage of the opportunity to remind customers of your products and services, whether in an obvious way (like including free samples) or more subtly (by creating a theme for your box that reflects your industry or services). Although your primary goal should be to thank the recipient for their business and wish them a happy holiday season, make sure to prominently include contact information to help them easily get in touch with you. They’ll likely want to place another order as soon as they see the care you put into creating their holiday box!

Build Outstanding Holiday Experiences

Whether you’re bringing a virtual holiday party to life, showing appreciation for your employees, or sharing thoughtful well-wishes with top customers, agBoxes can help you capture the special sense of togetherness that is at the cornerstone of our holiday celebrations. At a time when meaningful connections can be difficult to form and maintain, sending an agBox is the perfect “above and beyond” gesture that will get your employees and clientele feeling excited about your business and loyal to your brand!

Your partners at AlphaGraphics Middleton can help you plan, design, print, and create every element of your holiday boxes. Not sure where to get started? Get in touch today to request a free consultation.

Get Ready for the Holidays: 5 Things Your Business Can Do Now

It may feel like summer just ended, but the holiday season is right around the corner! The key to kicking off a successful holiday season for your business is planning ahead. By working through the details and ordering your necessities now, you’ll be ready to drive sales, show appreciation to your customers and employees, and end the year on a great note.

Working with a local partner like AlphaGraphics Middleton makes it even easier to get through the busy holiday season. Let us handle the design and production of your print collateral, signage, marketing materials and more.

As you prepare your business’s holiday initiatives, here are five things to start thinking about now.

1. Order Your Promotional Gifts

Promotional gifts are a holiday season staple. Personalized, branded gifts are a great way to show your appreciation for your top customers or clients. In particular, investing in premium gifts is a guaranteed way to stand out. Every time your client wears a piece of high-end branded apparel or uses a gifted tech or cookware item, your company will be top of mind.

The huge variety of promotional gifts available means that you can choose items to fit any budget, in any shape or size. But whatever type of gift you decide to go with, be sure to order sooner than later. Due to COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions, manufacturers are experiencing challenges with reduced inventory. Production on personalized items is expected to take longer this year. Plan ahead now and make sure you order all promotional items well in advance, so your customers don’t miss out on free gifts and your business doesn’t miss out on brand awareness.

2. Don’t Forget About Employee Appreciation

The past two years have demanded a lot of flexibility and perseverance from every member of your team. This holiday season, it’s more important than ever before to show your appreciation for your staff and thank them for all they’ve done for your business.

Many of the same gifts you use to show appreciation to top clients are also perfect for your staff members. You might even choose additional customizations on these items, embroidering names into apparel or personalizing things like coffee and tea sets. One option is an agBox full of branded gifts. This unexpected gesture will help build pride in your brand and show your employees how much you value them.

3. Send Out Your Season’s Greetings

Exchanging holiday cards is another beloved holiday tradition that can also help to strengthen your relationship with clients. By sending out physical holiday cards, you can help spread some festive cheer while connecting with your customers on a personal level.

To increase the impact of your holiday cards, have a design and print partner like AlphaGraphics Middleton create a custom design for your cards. You can even get creative with die-cutting, embossing, foil stamping, and folding to create a stand-out card that will earn a special place on the mantel! Including a hand-written note or enclosing a photo of your team in the card will help reinforce your relationship — especially if your business has transitioned to doing more business remotely.

4. Prepare for Holiday Promotions

If, like many businesses, you rely on the holiday season for a large percentage of your annual revenue, it’s time to start brainstorming how you’ll get customers in through the door. Many consumers expect to see sales and special offers around the holidays, so running a promotion is a great way to drive more sales.

Prepare for these promotions well in advance with marketing materials. It’s smart to use a blend of digital materials, like email blasts and social media advertising, as well as physical materials, like postcards, mailers, and flyers. Creative signage for both inside and outside your storefront will capture the attention of passersby and help you capitalize on spontaneous purchases.

5. Deck Your Halls

Festive decor is key to feeling the magic of the holiday season. Help create a great holiday shopping experience for your guests by sprucing up your storefront and making the inside of your business look merry as can be. Unique decorations will help you stand out from other businesses to draw in more customers, too!

Go beyond tinsel and wreaths this year with creative signage that can transform your entire business into a winter wonderland. Choose wall, window, and floor graphics or pull-up banners to add splashes of holiday cheer to every surface. Think about how you can blend holiday motifs with your branding for a truly unique experience.

Get Festive with AlphaGraphics Middleton

When your business is ready to design and produce materials for the holiday season, reach out to AlphaGraphics Middleton. Our print and marketing experts can help you create a comprehensive strategy for making the most of the holiday season and all of its revenue-driving potential.

5 Tips to Make Your Next Trade Show a Success

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across the country, large events like trade shows are quickly filling up businesses’ schedules. Trade shows offer you the opportunity to get the word out about your business and connect with prospective customers who are already interested in your industry.

Of course, trade shows are also a significant investment, and you want to see results to make the effort worthwhile. Part of what makes an exhibitor successful is their ability to stand out from the crowd and make a great impression on attendees. This means creating powerful marketing materials to deploy before, during and after the show.

Follow these five tips to make the most of your business’s next trade show.

1. Prepare in advance

Advance preparation is one of the key things that can make or break a trade show exhibitor’s success. Take the time to think through all of the details, from how you’ll promote your booth to getting your materials in order.

Use the trade show’s focus and target audience to inform what you’ll feature at your booth. Determine which products or services are most relevant to showcase and build your marketing messages off of those.

Within a few weeks of the show, get the attendee list from the trade show hosts and send out an email blast or a printed mailer advertising your business’s attendance. Entice attendees to visit your booth by teasing a special offer or exclusive show deal they won’t want to miss.

Capitalize on any trade show marketing campaigns, such as show-specific social media hashtags or contests leading up to the event. You might be able to participate by sponsoring a gift or simply sharing the contest info. Offer attendees a free gift or discount if they follow your social media profiles and continue to drum up excitement for the show in the days leading up to the event.

2. Draw attention to your booth

Once the trade show starts, competition will be stiff. You’ll want your booth to stand out so you don’t get lost in a sea of your competitors.

Make your booth eye-catching by utilizing a creative combination of graphics and signage. Retractable banners, backdrops, signs and table displays are a must, but consider adding some more unique elements like floor graphics, branded tablecloths and kiosks to catch attention from all angles.

Every element of your booth should leverage design to capture attendees’ attention. Use vivid colors and imagery that are consistent with your branding, and make sure your logo and business name are front and center. Prominently incorporate short, easy to read text explaining your product or service, focusing on key differentiators. Most importantly, use your booth space efficiently. Avoid clutter and highlight only your best-selling products so that you don’t overwhelm your visitors.

3. Provide an interactive experience

Interactive experiences encourage attendees to not only stop by your booth, but also to stick around and learn more. Consider setting up a carnival-type game with the chance to win branded promotional products, or hold an exciting giveaway to get people to engage.

Demonstrating your top products and services is another great way to get people to stop, watch and ask questions. If attendees can interact with or try out the product themselves, use clear signage to encourage them and explain how.

For a positive experience, make sure you’re designing your booth with interactivity in mind. Ensure you have the space for attendees to navigate easily and watch or participate in demonstrations.

4. Make a lasting impression

When the trade show is over, you want your business to remain at the top of prospective clients’ minds. Help them remember you by giving them something to take away.

Branded promotional items are a fun and useful way to keep your company name front and center when attendees return to the office. Informative collateral like brochures, look books, pamphlets and sale sheets allow customers to ponder their decision to buy and discuss with their team. Providing exclusive offers for trade show attendees can sweeten the deal.

You also want to make sure that it’s easy for attendees to find you again. Well-designed business cards ensure that they’ll have the information they need to get in touch when they’re ready to place an order. You can simplify the process even more by including QR codes on giveaway items to connect with you online, and by adding simple and direct calls to action on your printed materials.

5. Follow up after the show

It’s easy for trade show attendees to be overwhelmed by information and new contacts after the event is over. Make sure they remember your business by reaching out to them after the show.

Use mailing addresses or emails from the show’s attendee list to send a follow-up via email or direct mail. Because some members of this audience may not have interacted with your booth, make sure your messages are broader and provide a more general overview or introduction to your brand.

For those who visited your booth, you should take an even stronger approach. Plan a multi-step marketing effort like an email drip campaign to more closely target people who demonstrated an interest in your products. As part of this campaign, earn trust by sharing valuable content like an eBook, how-to guide or case study. Make sure to reiterate the main points you included on your display to remind them of your product’s value.

Start preparing your trade show materials today

Businesses experience the most success with trade shows when they plan their materials early on — from their booth displays down to their business cards. If you have an event on the schedule, don’t delay in designing and printing your collateral.

Working with a print and marketing partner like AlphaGraphics Middleton can ensure that your trade show signage, print collateral, and marketing materials send a consistent message about your brand. Reach out to AlphaGraphics Middleton to get started.

How to Create a Brand Experience Using Print and Signs

Print and signs are all around us. They are an inherent part of our day-to-day lives, from the products we consume to the ways that we get from point A to point B. We see and interact with printed materials and signage routinely, sometimes without even realizing it.

For businesses, print and signs are central to the customer experience. Whether it’s the printed menu at a bakery or the window sign advertising a new patient special at a dentist’s office, print and signs play a role in how people perceive, interact with, and experience your brand.

When used appropriately, print and signs facilitate the experiences that make a brand memorable. Here’s how to leverage your print materials and signage to forge deeper connections and create immersive experiences for your customers.

Break through the Noise and Create a Connection

We see thousands of messages every day. As a brand, you want your messages to be the ones that stand out and drive customers to take your desired action. How can you break through the noise with print and signs?

The key is to appeal directly to the customer. In order to grab—and hold—their attention, you must understand who you are talking to. What do they value? What challenges do they face? By including targeted messaging on your print pieces and signs, you open the door to creating a more meaningful connection.

Consider a busy sandwich shop in an urban location. The owner knows her average customer has only a 30-minute lunch break. So, she uses sidewalk signs, window graphics, and fliers to advertise hot sandwiches made fresh in less than five minutes. It’s an example of a can’t-miss message with a value proposition that makes the shop’s target customer pay attention.

Bridge the Gap from Message to Experience

The beauty of print and signs as a marketing medium is that they go a step beyond relaying the right message. They also set the tone for an immersive brand experience.

Take a coffee shop as an example. You spot a large storefront sign on a local coffee house you’ve never visited before. You decide to stop in, so you follow the signs to the designated parking area. When you walk in, the “line begins here” sign prompts you to wait behind fellow customers. You read the large menu on the wall behind the counter; then, you see a floor graphic advertising a new hazelnut caramel mocha and decide to order it. The “tap to pay” decal on the counter makes it easy to check out, and you wait by the “pick up here” sign while your drink is being made. You pick up your coffee in a branded cardboard sleeve and snag a rewards punch card off the counter before you leave.

Immersive experiences aren’t only for retail-based businesses. Consider this if you are a consultant or a service provider, such as a real estate agent. You want to ramp up your marketing efforts, so you send a direct mail postcard about an open house to a targeted list of prospective buyers. The day of the open house, you park your custom-wrapped vehicle outside and set up a big “for sale” sign in the front yard, complete with a feather flag to attract attention. Every guest gets two things when they walk in the door: a brochure of the property and a branded pocket folder containing the listing information and your business card. You get the winning offer, and you send the new homeowners an agBox—a branded gift box filled with swag and goodies—to celebrate.

Bring Your Brand to Life in Meaningful Ways

Consider the role your printed materials and signage play in creating your brand’s unique customer experience. Are your messages aligned with your customers’ needs? Are you utilizing all of the print and signs tools at your disposal to create that immersive experience?

At AlphaGraphics Middleton, we’re here to help guide you through your choices and find the right print and signs to reach your goals. Contact AlphaGraphics Middleton to get started.

Why You Should Keep Your Branding Consistent Across the Customer Journey

Building a loyal customer base is essential for any business’s success. Loyal customers are often advocates for your brand, referring you to friends and family and helping to grow your customer base even more. But in order to build and maintain a following of loyal customers, you need to ensure you’re delivering a positive customer experience.

Every interaction a customer has with your brand needs to be a positive one. To help you achieve that, you should focus on consistent branding throughout the entire customer journey. Strong branding helps customers feel confident in what your business has to offer and solidifies that trust and loyalty you work so hard to build.

To make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, consider how your brand appears at each stage of the customer journey.

What is a customer journey?

While every business is slightly different, most customers follow a basic framework when they’re deciding whether to make a purchase or do business with a company. The roadmap of experiences that leads them to their purchase decision is called the customer journey.

In other words, the customer journey includes all the experiences someone has with your brand—from first becoming aware of your company to purchasing from you regularly.

The main stages of the customer journey are:

  • Awareness: The potential customer has a need and becomes aware of your brand.
  • Discovery: The potential customer researches your brand to see if you can fill that need. They might compare you to other companies and their offerings.
  • Purchasing decision: The customer decides whether or not to purchase your product.
  • Retention: Your brand continues to engage the customer so that they return to purchase again and again.
  • Advocacy: The customer is loyal to your brand and encourages other customers to shop with you.

Why is consistent branding important?

In general, it takes 6-8 interactions for a customer to even consider purchasing from your brand. Keeping your branding consistent through every touchpoint bolsters your marketing efforts in multiple ways.

Most importantly, it creates an overall positive experience. It ensures that customers aren’t confused by inconsistent branding or messaging in the early stages of their journey, so they build more recognition and trust for your business. This helps you move them closer to a purchasing decision. After the customer has made a purchase, consistent branding will keep them coming back, because you’re a brand they know and trust.

How to build consistent branding

Follow these steps to ensure your branding is consistent across every step of the customer journey.

Awareness

A customer might initially hear about your brand through an advertisement online, on TV, or in print. At every advertising touchpoint, you use, make sure your branding is clear. Establish who you are and what you have to offer.

Include your business name and logo prominently on these ads, and display a clear brand promise. To entice the buyer, use customer-centric messaging that aligns with your brand’s voice and style.

Discovery

Potential customers will likely research your company online to learn more once they’ve heard about you. You’ll want to maintain a consistent design—including color palette, set of fonts, imagery, and logos—across all digital channels, including your website, blog, and social media.

These channels should also include a clear value proposition and deliver on the brand promises you made in your ads. Demonstrate how you fulfill that promise using imagery and storytelling.

Don’t forget about your customer service channels, either! Your customer service team should be answering questions in a way that’s on-brand. You should be responding to both positive and negative customer reviews in your standard voice, as well.

Purchasing decision

Once a customer decides to purchase from you, it’s your job to make them feel confident in that decision.

Carry your branding through to your in-store experience to minimize confusion when customers transition from digital to physical channels. You want customers to recognize that your store delivers on the same brand promise you have on your website. The overall design of your signage and décor should match your digital channels’, as should your messages and value proposition. Outside, use sidewalk signs, banners, flags, and window graphics to share those messages. Inside, make sure your wall and floor graphics, product displays, point-of-sale signage, business cards, and brochures match, too.

Packaging should also become part of your brand experience. Pay attention to the colors and designs of shipping boxes, product boxes, printed materials, bags, and even tape or ribbons to ensure they match your branding.

Additionally, ensure your sales team is using fresh, up-to-date, and consistently branded collateral. Your brochures, postcards, catalogs, look books, and stationery should feature similar elements to your digital channels and advertisements.

Retention

You’ve won the customer, but their journey is not over! If a customer has a negative or inconsistent experience with your brand during or after the purchasing process, they’re less likely to return.

Pay close attention to any follow-up communications you send customers and ensure you maintain that consistent logo, color palette, and design. All your marketing emails, direct mailers, social media posts, and retargeting ads should use those same elements to reinforce the customer’s understanding of your brand.

Great customer experiences start with strong branding

The importance of branding cannot be understated when it comes to building and reinforcing positive customer experiences. The more your customers come to understand and trust your brand, the more likely they will be to advocate for you. Don’t neglect any part of the customer journey—even after they purchase—to ensure you build a loyal customer base for the foreseeable future.

Does Your Print Collateral Need a Refresh? Here’s How to Tell

Printed marketing and sales collateral plays a crucial role in securing customers for your business. Unfortunately, all too many businesses use the “set it and forget it” method of creating collateral. While some pieces can be used for a while without trouble, others might quickly become outdated. It’s smart for businesses to get in the habit of auditing their printed materials and refreshing them regularly.

Why should you audit your collateral?

Using fresh, up-to-date marketing and sales collateral ensures that you accurately represent your brand to customers. These materials should speak to your brand, demonstrate what your business does, and showcase your current offerings.

If your collateral is out of date or irrelevant, it can cause confusion or frustration among buyers. Depending on how much your branding or your business has changed, the materials might not even be effective for your target market at all! If your goal is to persuade customers to make a purchase, you want to ensure your messaging is both accurate and fresh.

When should you do a collateral audit?

You’ll want to conduct a routine audit of your sales and marketing collateral. A good rule of thumb is to revisit these materials every three months, or once a season. Not only will this help your team catch necessary updates, but it also allows you to capitalize on seasonal promotions and align with seasonal trends in your industry.

There are a few other critical times to audit and update your collateral:

  • Any time you launch a new product or change your product line
  • Any time you rebrand or update your logo
  • Before every industry event or trade show where you’ll hand out printed materials
  • Any time your contact information or physical location (such as your address, phone number, and website) changes

Right now is also a great time to audit and refresh your marketing materials! Consider how your printed collateral can best support your sales team as they begin scheduling in-person meetings.

How to tell when your collateral needs a refresh

As you conduct your audit, there are a few important things you should look for to determine whether your marketing and sales materials require any updates.

Are they consistent with your branding?

All marketing and sales materials should be consistent with your current branding and align with the style of your other marketing efforts. Ensure that each piece fits in seamlessly with your visuals on other channels, including your website, emails, and social media. Customers should easily be able to identify the materials as belonging to your business. If you find discrepancies or outdated imagery, refresh and modernize the design.

Do they speak to your target audience?

Every piece of collateral should use customer-centric messaging to make a strong point. Align your message with what your audience cares about—their needs and desires, challenges they face, and questions they ask. Also double-check your imagery and ensure that any photos of people reflect who your customers are. Consider things like age, race and ethnicity, gender, marital and family status, and lifestyle to ensure your customers feel represented.

Do they have a clear call to action?

No marketing materials are effective without pointing customers in the right direction. Whether it’s “Visit our website,” “Call today,” or “Redeem this coupon at checkout,” make sure you have a prominent and clear call to action on every piece. Use trackable coupon codes, custom landing pages, or other tools to gain insight on whether your CTAs work to drive customers to take your desired action.

Do they reflect your current offerings?

Businesses are constantly evolving, and your company’s offerings might not be the same as they were six months or a year ago. Ensure that every piece of sales and marketing collateral reflects what your business offers right now. Make changes to feature your newest or most popular products, and remove any products or services you no longer offer. It’s also smart to switch out seasonal products or services to keep your collateral as fresh as possible.

Do they include your contact information?

Remember to provide customers with a way to reach you by including your website, social media handles, phone number, email, and/or physical address on every piece.

Don’t let your collateral fall behind

As you go through the process of updating your collateral, don’t forget to involve your key stakeholders! A material audit and refresh is the perfect opportunity to consult with your sales team and ask what collateral they need to do their jobs better. Find out what messages and calls to action they’ve found successful and integrate them.

It’s also a good idea to survey your customers. This helps you learn more about their needs, so you can speak those needs in your messaging. In doing so, you’ll help answer their questions and demonstrate how your business can solve their problems.

Keeping your sales and marketing collateral up to date is essential for effectively communicating with customers and putting your best foot forward as a business. If you haven’t revisited your collateral in a while, take the opportunity to do so now and make a plan to do a regular audit and refresh going forward.

5 Tips for Welcoming Employees Back to the Office

After more than a year of working from home, many businesses are looking ahead at the possibility of returning to the office later this year. This is an exciting prospect for many. However, in the same way, working from home required a transition, returning to the office will, too.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do now to prepare your office for reopening and build excitement among your employees as they get ready to come back. These five tips can help you freshen up your space and welcome employees back in a positive way.

1. Redecorate Your Workspace

One of the simplest things you can do before your employees return is redecorate to create an inviting environment. Giving your space an upgrade will build anticipation for your office reopening since the “big reveal” will give everyone something to look forward to.

Redecorating doesn’t require a major overhaul. Simple things like window, wall, and floor graphics can go a long way in making your space feel brand new. Vinyl graphics can be applied just about anywhere—not only on windows, walls, and floors, but also on doors, furniture, appliances, and even ceilings.

Use specially designed and branded graphics to create an immersive experience and build brand pride among your teams. For example, apply a floor-to-ceiling graphic in a prominent area to create a statement wall and an office focal point. It could display your company’s mission or vision to remind employees why you do business.

2. Revamp Visitor Areas

Reopening your office doesn’t only mean your employees are coming back—it also signals the return of in-person meetings with clients. Extend your redecorating efforts to common areas and visitor spaces like your lobby, waiting areas, and meeting rooms to further solidify your brand experience.

Just like your employee-facing workspaces, outfit these areas with new graphics that display who your brand is and what you stand for. You want visitors to have a positive experience with your brand in order to strengthen those relationships—especially after a year of distance.

3. Consider Different Comfort Levels

Even when it’s safe for employees to return to work, everyone is going to have different comfort levels for in-person interactions. During your transition back to the office, be mindful of these varying preferences and adapt to meet individual needs.

One way to do this is to utilize social distancing signage while redecorating your space. Employ floor decals in common areas, as well as signs on tables and chairs in meeting rooms, to remind people to keep a safe distance. You could also implement directional signage to indicate one-way pathways where necessary.

Another way to improve the comfort of your office is to provide employees with tools to express their preferences nonverbally. This could take the form of desk signage, chair decals, stickers, wristbands, lanyards, or other visual indicators that use a color system to alert coworkers about what types of interactions are appropriate. For example, a red sign could mean no physical contact, while yellow means elbow bumps are okay, and a green indicates handshakes, hugs, and high-fives are welcome.

4. Build the Excitement

Many people will be excited to see their coworkers face-to-face again and any changes you’ve made to your office. Build on this excitement and boost morale by making the return to the office a momentous occasion!

Invite employees back with a “welcome back” box packed with branded gifts, new materials, and goodies. This type of gesture will help your employees reconnect and feel like they are a valued members of the team.

You can put almost anything in the box—branded or otherwise—but some ideas include: essential office supplies, important information about new guidelines, comfort level indicators, and an assortment of fun items. This could be electronics, such as headphones or mini Bluetooth speakers, self-care and relaxation kits, branded apparel, and more!

5. Stay Positive

After working from home for so long, transitioning back to the office will be more challenging for some employees than others. Make sure your team members know you’re there to support them every step of the way.

Keep your overall messaging positive to remind people of the many good things that returning to the office can offer. Focus on the benefits, such as enhanced collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving, as well as team unity.

In addition, find ways to celebrate together. Maintain positivity by celebrating being back together as a team and recognizing special occasions, individual accomplishments, team wins, goals achieved, and more. These celebrations can help employees get back in the groove while also fostering a more positive workplace.

Bringing your teams back to the office will no doubt require a period of transition. However, by planning ahead, finding ways to engage employees, and working to make their return as positive as possible, you’ll be able to forge ahead as a stronger, more unified company.

4 Ways for Your Business to Support the Community

Community InvolvementIf recent events have taught us anything, it’s that communities tend to come together during difficult times. As a local business, you make up part of the fabric of your community. Now, you have an opportunity to work with other community members to help everyone push through challenges.

Beyond lending a helping hand, being actively involved in your community can have long-lasting benefits for your business. Prominent local businesses are able to build more brand recognition, encourage customers to shop local, forge deeper connections with buyers, and harness a loyal consumer base.

Here are four ways to use your brand to support and engage your local community right now.

Call Attention to Milestone Moments

For the past year, the milestones that are important to your community members haven’t gotten as much recognition as they normally would. One way you can humanize your brand and deepen your community connections is by helping to celebrate these milestone moments.

There are tons of people and occasions to celebrate—graduating high school and college seniors, local athletic events, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and so much more. Local heroes are also deserving of love right now—healthcare workers, veterans, firefighters, teachers, long-term care providers, parents, and anyone going above and beyond the call of duty would certainly appreciate a shoutout. Make your brand part of that celebration and spread positivity while helping your customers feel extra special.

Storefront signage is a great way to bring recognition to these moments. Customized banners and flags, window clings, yard signs, and sidewalk signs call attention to your chosen milestones from customers and passersby.

Small in-store giveaways like stickers, pens, and postcards are also fun ways to spread your messages. Not only will these be special take-home items for the people you’re celebrating, but they’ll serve as a tangible reminder of your brand and the trust you’ve built.

Sponsor a Local Cause or Event

Businesses and industries of all kinds are in need of extra support right now. Sponsorships allow you to support causes that are near and dear to your community while also getting your brand in front of potential customers.

There are lots of different ways to bolster both local events and your business. Sponsoring a children’s sports team is one popular choice. In doing so, you might have the opportunity to place your logo or company name on uniforms or on a banner at the playing field.

You could also sponsor a club, nonprofit program, fundraiser, or other community events. By doing so, your logo and branding will be included on advertisements for the event, as well as on signage, printed materials, t-shirts, and promotional items at the event. Regardless of whether they’re held virtually or in person at a limited capacity, events provide plenty of opportunities for brand awareness. You may be able to host a table, donate giveaways, or give a short presentation.

Share Your Expertise

While they’ve been stuck at home, people have become increasingly interested in staying active, learning new skills, and bettering themselves. Demonstrate your business’s value beyond just providing products or services by teaching your community members something new.

It doesn’t matter what the nature of your business is—you have valuable information to offer. Use this opportunity to educate and engage potential customers, build credibility, and position your brand as an industry thought leader.

Consider hosting a virtual event or webinar that people can tune into, whether as a one-off event or a series. For example, business owners are well-positioned to provide graduating seniors with interview tips or to hold a class on entrepreneurship basics. You might also consider fun events, like a DIY craft workshop, a cooking class, or a virtual group workout.

Additionally, you could create how-to videos or written guides to use as lead generation tools on your website and social media platforms. Find out what your community members are interested in and identify ways you can use your expertise to share knowledge.

Partner with Local Brands

You know how challenging navigating the current market can be. Other businesses are facing the same challenges and are likely looking for new ideas to drum up business. Now is the perfect time to get to know your neighbors and team up to help each other!

Look for businesses that are not direct competitors but offer complementary services to yours. Brainstorm ways you can work together, such as a joint promotional offer or a “shop local” campaign. You could even share fliers or coupons to drive traffic to each other’s businesses.

These types of partnerships allow you to network with other business owners and key members of your community, so you can learn from and support one another. All of the businesses involved will benefit from the extra exposure, which will help to strengthen your community as a whole.

Community Participation Is Key for Your Business

As a local business, it’s important for you to have a presence in your community. When you support your neighbors during difficult times, both your community and your business will come out stronger on the other side. Consider this an opportunity to gain brand recognition, build a loyal customer base, and make a positive local impact by getting involved.