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 While some pieces can be used for a while without trouble, others might quickly become outdated.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If your collateral is out of date or irrelevant, it can cause confusion or frustration among buyers.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.

8 Ways to Engage Local Customers Each and Every Day

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

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

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

Explore Influencer Marketing

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

Get Involved In Your Community

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

Respond To Reviews

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

Advertise As A Service, Not Interruption

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

Improve Your Exterior Signage

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

Consider Sponsorship

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

Support Local Radio

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

Experiment With Digital Ads

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

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

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

Maintaining Your Business’s Culture in the New Normal

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

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

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

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

Keep your culture strong while at home

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

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

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

Revitalize your culture

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

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

Take care of your staff

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

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

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

Focus on employee wellness

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

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

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

Make new employees feel welcome

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

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

Welcome the new norm

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

Keeping Your Brand Positive

 

These days, it’s hard to escape talk of COVID-19. It’s infiltrated the news, social media, advertising, and worst of all, our daily thoughts and concerns. As a brand, it’s important to be sensitive to the current state of affairs while also giving your customers a positive escape. As you might imagine, it’s a difficult balancing act.

To ensure your brand is sending the right messages to its audience, now is the time to reevaluate your content strategy and refocus on the positives.

Reevaluate your customers’ content needs

The first step in refocusing your brand’s content is taking a deeper look at what kinds of content your customers are looking for. You may have had a firm grasp on this before, but the pandemic has changed many people’s outlooks and reactions to consumer-facing brands.

Conduct social listening, surveys, and data analysis to discover your customers’ attitudes toward particular messages. What do customers expect from you? What do they want more of? Are they tired or overwhelmed with certain content types or topics? What are they interested in right now, and what are the sentiments surrounding those topics?

Really listen to your audience during this time and use their feedback to reshape your content strategy.

Provide positive, non-crisis content

One thing all brands can do more of at this time is share more positive, uplifting content that has nothing to do with COVID-19. Sharing funny memes or heartfelt stories can give consumers a break from the overwhelming amount of news and social media coverage of the pandemic. Keep your brand’s voice positive, inspirational, and uplifting, but stray away from wit or sass that might be inappropriate for the current situation.

You may not want to avoid the topic of COVID-19 entirely if it’s relevant to your brand, but you shouldn’t feed into the crisis mentality, either. If you do talk about the pandemic, share messages about helping others and how your brand is there to help. Try to keep things light while ensuring they’re relevant to your brand’s goals and voice.

Market sensitively

The key to navigating marketing during the pandemic is to stay sensitive. Now isn’t the time for major sales pushes that capitalize on the crisis. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still promote your brand.

Find ways to position your business in a sensitive and helpful way. If you’re a small, local brand, share messages that encourage the support of local businesses—not only yours, but also others in the community.

Pay close attention to the words your ads, social posts, and other marketing campaigns use. Avoid creating a sense of urgency—nothing is more important than COVID-19 right now. Instead, reframe your product or service messages to show the value they can offer customers, especially during this time.

Expand your content horizons

Every brand’s content strategy has been disrupted in some way. Now might be a great time to try new content types you might not normally do.

While you want to keep topics relevant to your industry and your customer’s needs and expectations, try to shake things up a little bit. Test new content ideas and see how customers respond to them. Can you provide additional value through a new, relevant content angle?

Additionally, try testing new content formats and gauge audience response. Perhaps your customers would be interested in reading more blog posts or watching informative YouTube videos about your brand and products. There are tons of ways you can expand your content strategy to provide more positive and valuable content while simultaneously strengthening your platform.

Show your positive impact

Now more than ever, customers want to know that the brands they love are giving back and doing good in the world. It’s somewhat expected that a brand’s profits take a backseat in favor of charitable acts and support.

Your brand can feed into this by showcasing the positive things you’re doing in your community and encouraging others to do the same. Don’t present it in a way that’s “showing off” or grandstanding. Instead, lead by example and make it a movement your audience can rally behind.

Share acts of community service by members of your team, whether they’ve volunteered time at a food bank or homeless shelter, or sewed masks for hospital staff. If your business donated food or money to a charity, share that. You could even host a fundraiser with your followers to show that you’re interested in doing good while making the biggest possible impact.

Positive branding can result in brand loyalty and trust

Consumers are paying closer attention to marketing efforts than they normally do. Staying positive humanizes your brand and lets customers know you care about them, not just the bottom line. By sending the right messages, you can strengthen the trust your customers have in your brand and position your business as one of immense value.

8 Eye-Opening Business Signage Stats You Need to Know

Any smart business owner knows that it takes more than just a great product or model to operate a successful company. The true driver of success is sales, and sales stem from good advertising and branding. Focusing on these core competencies is a fundamental way to drive business that grows your bottom line, which in turn results in success.

The cornerstone of every successful brick and mortar brand is a great piece of store signage. Business signage is important for so many reasons—namely because it sets the tone for your storefront, creates brand association, attracts attention, and serves as an informative tool. There’s an immense amount of importance placed on your business’ signage.

Let’s take a look at 8 truly eye-opening figures that illustrate just how integral business signage is to store success. Keep these facts in mind the next time you’re looking up at your own business’ sign:

  1. When surveyed, exactly 50% of in-store shoppers named “on-premise signage” as the reason for their visit. Simply put, it means they saw the sign and decided to stop in! Your sign could result in half of your store’s foot traffic on any given day.
  2. Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business’ profits. Monument signage can drive sales by 9.3%, pole signage can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.
  3. The average storefront sign is seen 50-60 times per month by anyone living within 5 miles of your location. This could be responsible for as much as 85% of your monthly walk-in sales!
  4. Business signage is your foremost advertising tool. Seeing a sign is far and away the biggest reason customers know your business even exists. 35% of shoppers surveyed cited a sign as the reason for knowing about a local business.
  5. It’s estimated that a good business sign is as effective as 24 full-page newspaper ads. Consider this comparison in a cost sense and you’ll get an idea of just how powerful on-premise business signage can be!
  6. Looking for new customers? About 12%of people move each year, which means you have an annual opportunity to capture a portion of these people as new customers via attractive storefront signage.
  7. If you think your signage needs an upgrade, you might be right. One study showed positive increases in business after changing the design or enhancing the visibility of signage. This includes boosts in overall sales, transactions, and profits, with an average increase of about 10% across the board.
  8. Finally, let’s not forget that your investment in good storefront signage is one that will provide 24/7/365 benefits to you. It doesn’t matter what season or time of day it is, your sign will be prominently displayed as a marketing tool at all times.

All of these studies—conducted by major organizations like the International Signage Association and reputable institutions like the Economic Center at the University of Cincinnati—point to the same conclusion: there’s no substitute for great business signage. If your business is lacking effective storefront signage or is overdue for enhancement or upgrades, it’s time to start thinking about how your bottom line may be impacted. Consider the above stats and ask yourself if new signage could give your business a reinvigorated sense of success.

Want to start getting noticed in your local market? Contact your AlphaGraphics Middleton sign team to get your project started today!

 

Statistics and data taken from several sources and studies including:

Prepare Your Business for 2020 With Confidence

As we near the end of the year, business owners shouldn’t delay in getting started on their new-year marketing plans. You have to act now if you want to put your brand’s best foot forward in 2020!

Taking time to plan your marketing efforts now will help ensure that everything is primed and ready to go once the new year starts, so your business won’t fall behind and allow the competition to entice your customers.

Here are six tactics to help you prepare your business and enter 2020 with confidence.

1: Review and Update Your Website

Your website is one of your brand’s best marketing tools in today’s modern and connected age. For this reason, it’s imperative that you keep it up to date and visually appealing to encourage customers to browse and learn more about your business. A clunky, out-of-date or unappealing website can deter customers. Your goal should be to catch their attention immediately, then keep them interested.

Start by reviewing your existing website and look for areas of improvement. Use analytics to determine what pages are visited the most and understand how users travel through your website. This can show you which pages are most important to update and keep fresh.

You’ll also want to examine the website’s content. Does the site showcase all of your products and services accurately? Add any missing services so customers get a full understanding of what your brand has to offer. Be sure to include keywords and optimize each page for SEO so your website gets more traffic.

Additionally, make sure it’s easy and entertaining to navigate your website. Do pages load quickly? Are all your images and descriptions appearing in the correct places? Is the design relevant and interesting? Adjust these things as necessary to ensure maximum visual appeal.

2: Purge Out-of-Date Collateral and Create New Materials

In addition to your website, be sure to review your marketing collateral to make sure it is on brand and up to date. Out-of-date marketing collateral hurts your brand in more ways than one. Not only can it create confusion in your customer base, but it can harm the trust you work hard to build between your brand and your customers.

You want your business to look professional and on top of your marketing efforts with fresh, new collateral that sends the right kinds of messages.

This is also a good time to brainstorm what additional collateral can be added to your business’s repertoire to deliver your brand’s message. Try one or two new pieces in the new year, such as vehicle decals, stickers or branded promotional items.

3: Gather Customer Testimonials

In today’s marketing climate, word-of-mouth marketing and consumer trust are huge. Testimonials from satisfied customers can be a powerful marketing tool, so if you don’t have any or haven’t put them to good use, now is the time.

Reach out to loyal customers or customers you’ve provided services to in the past month to obtain testimonials. Then, incorporate these positive reviews into your website, emails, social media and marketing collateral.

4: Review and Refresh Your Branding

Over the past year, your brand has likely grown and innovated. Because this can happen quickly, your branding may have fallen out of line with what your business truly stands for. Examine your current branding and determine whether it accurately represents your brand and the unique things it has to offer. If it doesn’t, now is the time to give it a refresh to help you reconnect with customers in 2020.

Additionally, as your brand changes, you can quickly lose sight of who your target customer base should be. Without a clear direction on who you’re looking to serve, your marketing efforts can come off too vague or misdirected.

Alongside your branding refresh, think about who your “dream 50” customers are for 2020. Look at your sales data from this year and see what characteristics your top 10 customers share. These characteristics should be present in your dream 50. Understanding your target customers will help you cater your branding efforts more appropriately to their interests, resulting in better customer response and higher sales.

5: Create a New Year Marketing Campaign

Once your website, collateral and branding are realigned with your business’s goals, it’s time to start 2020 off with a bang and get people talking about your brand. Kick off the new year with an engaging marketing campaign targeting your dream 50 customers.

Identify a theme that aligns with the excitement of the new year and develop multi-touch assets that communicate how your business can help customers achieve their 2020 goals. You may even consider offering a promotion, such as a contest or giveaway, to generate more excitement and spread the word about your brand.

Enter to Win an AlphaGraphics Makeover!

Do you want to ensure your business is the one everyone’s talking about in 2020? Submit your entry now to be in the running for an incredible brand makeover worth over $10,000 from the marketing experts at AlphaGraphics! Visit win.alphagraphics.com to enter.

Is a Social Media Presence Worth It for Your Business?

Is Social Media Right for Your Business?

These days, social media is everywhere. It’s not just Facebook and Twitter, either—it’s Snapchat and LinkedIn and Instagram and many more! Look around on the Internet and virtually everyone says your business needs a social media presence to stay relevant.

Certainly, many companies have used social networks to engage customers successfully. But does that mean you should do it too? Here are some pros and cons for small businesses who might be thinking about expanding their social presence!

Shows Corporate Responsibility

Social networking is an ideal way to show your customers that you care about the community. Any time your employees are involved in volunteering or otherwise engaging the community, you can share that with current and potential customers.

Localization of social media is key to having an impact. You can create content that is intimately linked to your locale, and your company, to show that you’re more than just a business.

Develop a Strong Brand Image

By being present in customers’ everyday lives, you have an opportunity to show them what makes your company stand apart from the competition. Emphasize the unique products and solutions you offer and leverage these intricacies to build your brand.

Through social networking, your store can become known for offering professional services and products of the highest caliber—not just because you say so, but because current and former customers say so publically as well.

Engage in Two-Way Communication

It has never been easier to talk directly to customers and potential customers. Responding to individual customer concerns on social networking sites demonstrates that you’re doing your best to put the customer first.

Remember that customers have no problem complaining via social media. Having a public forum for complaints is bad enough, but handling a customer complaint poorly could damage your reputation. Ensure that you handle every criticism—no matter how ridiculous—with respect.

Integrate Into Today’s Communication

Customers, especially millennials, expect your company to have a social media presence. It’s how customers learn your story. For better or worse, social media is the way people interact with the world now. Those who don’t embrace it risk being left behind, however those who embrace it poorly could actively be doing damage to their business’ reputation.

Requires Clear Goals and Metrics

One of the biggest problems with marketing through social media is that it’s time-consuming. You need to find out how best to reach your customers and keep close track of how engagement efforts are proceeding.

Without clear objectives for what you want social media to do—such as an increase in sales in certain sectors or engaging customers of a specific demographic—you risk wasting your precious time.

Before you start building a social media presence, ask yourself if it’s something you should be doing or if it’s a task best left for someone else. Consider the power that comes with a good social media presence and the damage that can come from a poorly maintained one. Above all, make sure you’re thinking critically about everything you do when it comes to social media, since this is the most transparent vehicle for your company to build a brand with.

The bottom line is that if you’re going to embrace social networking, you need a comprehensive strategy. You should look to enhance the brand while meeting specific goals for your own shop. Ultimately, each small business will have to decide if social media is right for them.

Don’t have time to manage your social media accounts? Find out how your AlphaGraphics Middleton marketing team can help you succeed on social media!