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.

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.

Cut Through the Noise with Print Marketing admin

 

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

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

The value of print marketing

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

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

Grabbing and holding a customer’s attention with print

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

Direct mail

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

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

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

Signage

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

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

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

Stand out from your competition with print

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

Variable Data Printing Can Improve Ask Letter Effectiveness

Personalize With Variable Data Printing

Fall is the gateway to winter and, by extension, the heralding force before the holiday season. If you’re part of a charitable organization, you know all too well the potential that the season of giving has when it comes to collecting donations. It’s no coincidence that fall is the prime time of year when many not-for-profit causes send out ask letters and donation solicitations! Find out how variable data printing can improve these results below.

Asking for money is never easy and, in fact, for charitable organizations who solicit donations, it’s often an uphill battle to collect for your cause. Too many attempts can be off-putting, too few attempts can leave people forgetting about your efforts, and an improperly-worded ask letter can leave people soured on giving.

To be truly effective in bringing in donations, you need to find a silver bullet: a single letter that inspires people to donate and feel good about doing so.

A Personal Touch

Variable data is the first step towards creating a donation solicitation that’s truly effective. Nothing will send your letter to the circular file faster than a generic tone or a “fill in the blank” quality that makes the recipient feel like you’re just after their money. Personalizing core elements of your ask letter can immediately set the tone of your plea for donations:

  • Variable printing the name of each recipient lets them know that you recognize them. “Dear sir/ma’am” or “to whom it may concern” will never be as attention-grabbing or meaningful as “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Hi, John.”
  • Use past information to generate a unique ask. Something simple such as “last year you donated $50 to our cause” or “will you match last year’s pledge of $100 this year” will let them know you remember and appreciate their past generosity.
  • Pair accomplishments with a recipient’s donation for maximum effectiveness. “We enjoyed seeing you at the Jones Park BBQ in July” or “your contribution made the South Shore Movie Night a huge success” are ways to connect further with potential pledges.

The more information you have, the more you can make it work to the fullest by incorporating it into your ask letter. Variable data printing makes it possible to customize a basic ask letter in such a way that by the time you send it out, each copy has its own personalized touch that makes it unique to the recipient.

Unique Identifiers

It’s important to use variable data to bring your ask letter full circle. This means not only customizing a letter for each recipient but also creating a way to reap more information and see your return on each mailing.

FOR EXAMPLE:

  • Use variable data printing to print unique donation QR codes on letters. When recipients scan codes to donate, you’ll be able to track who’s donating, how much they’re pledging, how many days after the mailing they donate and more.
  • Print return envelopes for check donations that already have the recipient’s address, your address and prepaid postage on them. In doing so, you’ve removed all barriers from the donation, while also ensuring you can track who’s sending a donation back, how much, which addresses are incorrect/not up to date, etc.

Variable data printing has immense potential to raise the bar for your organization’s next ask letter or donation solicitation. Instead of sending out a basic, uniform letter and hoping for the best, consult with AlphaGraphics Middleton today to turn each letter into a unique and meaningful appeal.

Why Your Brochure Should Read Like a Hollywood Screenplay

Brochures are Boring

Brochures have a tendency to be lackluster. Blockbuster Hollywood Films, on the other hand, are not. What is it about a great film that captivates and builds an audience? It’s the story. It’s the villain and the hero. It’s conflict and resolution.

Here’s how to make your brochure read more like a great screenplay … and less like a brochure.

Treat the Cover Like an Opening Scene

Make a promise, move on. This is your chance to introduce your content with a bang but it’s important to be brief and intriguing at the same time. Get the reader’s attention with a captivating image and a short title, both of which make them want to know what comes next.

The First Spread is All About “Conflict”

Explain the Problem, tell them you can solve it. In this panel, you’re both acknowledging the customer’s need for a solution, and reassuring them that the solution exists. You don’t want to go into detail as to how you’ll solve the Problem yet. Just hint that it can be done and get them to turn the page

Now We Resolve the Problem

The interior spread, represents the “journey.” The Problem still looms to the left, and the center panel emphasizes the challenges that result from it. But in the third panel, you reveal the solution in detail and give the readers control over the solution. This is where you help them save the day.

Que the Soundtrack. Roll the Credits.

The back panel of the brochure should serve as a reminder that everything is and is going to be fine. It should put the audience at ease. And as all films end with credits, so should your brochure: don’t forget to include your contact info.

Does your business’s brochure need an update? Contact AlphaGraphics Middleton to get a quote on your new brochure!