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.

4 Ways to Boost Your Marketing Using Social Distancing Signage

Social distancing and safety signage isn’t going away anytime soon. While your business needs to adhere to those mandates a while longer, customers are tired of seeing the same generic signs everywhere they go. What’s even worse are the handwritten signs and the peeling tape that’s spread along the floor. Having worn, outdated, or dirty signage could be sending the wrong message about your brand.

Now is the time to refresh and replace your COVID-19 signage. But beyond that, it’s time to rethink how you do safety signage altogether! Your signs can—and should—be used as a tool to reinforce your brand messages and boost your marketing efforts.

Consider these four ways to maximize your marketing with social distancing signage.

1. Align with Your Branding

At this point, everyone knows the guidelines for social distancing in public. Signs mainly serve as reminders to ensure customers follow those practices within your building. For this reason, consider changing those generic neon or bright red signs to something that more closely aligns with your brand.

You can tell the story of your business by redesigning your social distancing signage to match your branding and décor. Incorporate elements of your brand identity, such as colors, fonts, shapes, and images—or even your brand mascot or character—to make signs unique to your business. Doing so will increase brand awareness and create a more pleasant experience for customers while reinforcing safety standards.

2. Advertise Your Products

Your social distancing signage isn’t only good for branding—it can also help promote what your business has to offer! Try incorporating product messaging and imagery into your signs in place of the usual social distancing symbols and language.

For example, if you own a car dealership, you can promote the vehicles you sell by encouraging customers to stand a “Camry” or a “Jetta” length apart. Alternatively, if you run a burger joint, you could redesign your floor graphics to feature a different delicious-looking burger every six feet.

This clever advertising strategy also provides opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, particularly when it’s used near the point of sale or where customers will be waiting in line.

3. Get Creative

Few people would call the average health and safety sign “fun,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be! Social distancing signage doesn’t need to have one standard look for every business. You have the opportunity to mix it up and be creative.

There are tons of ways to “wow” customers with your creativity. Signage can be aligned with holidays, major events, or the seasons—think snowflakes in the winter or flip-flops in the summer. You can also tie industry information into your signs. For example, gyms might include a quick health fact on every graphic, while a wine shop might theme its social distancing signs around different varietals.

The more creative you are with your signage, the more you’ll surprise your customers. This leads to a more memorable visit to your business and leaves them with a positive impression of your brand. Plus, creative signs are more eye-catching, meaning people are more likely to pay attention and adhere to what they say.

4. Generate Leads

Safety signage doesn’t have to be a static experience that only enforces healthy behaviors inside your business. It can also be used as a powerful lead generation tool that encourages customers to engage with your brand long after they’ve visited your physical location.

This is easily achieved by adding QR codes to your signs. With a quick scan, customers are directed to a webpage where they can sign up for a loyalty program, subscribe to your marketing emails or newsletter, download your app, or receive a discount code!

These lead generation tactics help draw customers’ attention to your signage and provide an added incentive for them. In the end, this helps you build long-term relationships with your audience across multiple platforms.

Create Strategic Signage That Works for Your Brand

Social distancing signage doesn’t have to be standard. You can turn something necessary for public health and safety into a unique opportunity for business marketing and branding!

If it’s time for your business to update your signage, partner with AlphaGraphics Middleton to replace your worn or outdated signs with something brand new. We can help you create customized designs that get noticed and bolster your marketing efforts, so you can put your best foot forward.

How to Capitalize on Big Events and Holidays for Your Marketing Campaigns

As 2021 gets into swing, one strategy to consider to draw extra attention to your business is event marketing. Everything from major events, like Super Bowl Sunday, to national holidays and awareness days, to more playful events, like National Cheese Lover’s Day, provide opportunities to align your brand with what your customers care about.

Beyond relating to customer interests, there are other benefits to embracing big events for your marketing and advertising efforts. Holidays and events are top of mind for consumers and often come with spikes in demand for certain products. Even at their most basic level, events are an excuse to have a sale!
Event marketing also helps you showcase relevant products and services, supports your marketing and sales goals, and allows you to engage with people in your community. In order to capitalize on these advantages, businesses need to make the most of their event promotions. Here’s how.

Get Your Message Across in a Big Way

To promote your business effectively in relation to an event, your marketing needs to be big, bold, and undeniable. Make it clear that you’re tying a sale or value proposition to an event-themed message. Create custom signage with eye-catching designs that makes people want to pay attention to what you’re advertising. Above all, you want to generate excitement around the event.

To achieve these goals, utilize both interior and exterior display signage, and don’t be afraid to explore custom shapes and sizes. Flags, a-frames, and sidewalk signs draw in foot traffic. Window and floor clings make great use of otherwise empty space to promote specific products or discounts. Banners and hanging signs make a big statement about what you’re offering. Table tents and point-of-sale signs help drive home the message. And, don’t forget about wayfinding signage to help customers easily navigate to what they’re looking for.

Align Your Marketing Campaigns

Simply having signage isn’t enough to capitalize on the momentum of a major event. To really harness the occasion, you’ll need to align your marketing campaigns, too. This includes the messaging of the campaign, the target audience, and the channels you use.

The most effective marketing campaigns are personalized and relevant to the recipient. Don’t just pitch a deal to everyone; make sure there’s a measure of authenticity in your marketing. Use recognizable messaging and images that tie in with the event, and target the right customers for your message. Show them that the occasion means something to you and that you know it means something to them—whether it’s “go team!” for the Super Bowl, a heartfelt message for Memorial Day, or a show of support for International Nurses Day.

Finally, coordinate your campaign around a timeline leading up to the event, and use the right materials to promote it. By utilizing both print and digital channels, you can pinpoint the right medium for each message you plan to send. Direct mail in the weeks leading up to the event can raise awareness. Email is a no-cost way to market to a broad range of customers multiple times prior to an event. Point-of-sale collateral can generate additional interest. And, of course, social media is a great tool for engaging in a two-way conversation with your audience before, during, and after the event.

Share Freebies and Promo Products

Branded promotional products add a tangible element to your campaigns. A few freebies can turn a face-to-face interaction into something more memorable. Plus, they keep your brand top of mind long after the event or holiday has passed.

Slapping your name on anything just won’t do it, though. Branded promo items are most successful when the product is a unique, useful giveaway that can be used over and over again. But it doesn’t stop there—choose items relevant to the holiday or event for maximum appeal. For example, a logoed hot beverage tumbler for National Hot Tea Day. Relevant products are meaningful products—especially when they’re free!

Tie in Charitable Giving

One of the best ways to make a meaningful splash in event marketing is to tie in charitable giving. People are much more apt to participate in a campaign that contributes to a good cause or gives back to their community. Demonstrate that there’s something beyond profits, and you’ll increase the appeal of spending money with your business.

Choosing a charitable cause to invest in humanizes your brand and makes customers feel like they’re playing a role in something bigger than a simple transaction. It also helps you build relationships with people in your community. For example, participate in a volunteer day to clean up your community for Earth Day, or donate a portion of your proceeds to a charitable organization for something like Mental Health Awareness Month. If your charitable cause is close to home, it will mean that much more for your customers.

Big Events Mean Big Opportunities for Marketing

Big or small, holidays and events are an opportunity to have a little fun with your marketing while remaining relevant with your audience. To capitalize on them, start planning ahead now! Look at the calendar and start strategizing to align your marketing with an upcoming event—whether it’s a national holiday, local event, or something totally off the wall.

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!