Getting Your Business Up to Speed with agOnline: Your Superior Web-to-Print Portal

Many businesses—especially small to medium-sized businesses—leverage the interconnectivity of different technologies to improve day-to-day operations. And while using smartphones to keep up with social media followers or collecting in-store signups for an email newsletter are great ways to keep your business’ marketing machine moving forward, there’s a simpler, more encompassing technology that needs to be taken into consideration: a customized Web-to-Print portal.

AlphaGraphics Middleton has always worked hard to help bolster the successes of its local area business clients and now we’re taking it one step further with the advent of agOnline: our Web-to-Print portal solution. Through agOnline, we’re helping our clients leverage the convenience of digital technology to get the superior quality printed products they need for marketing, advertising and regular business operations.

How does it work?

agOnline is simple to understand and even simpler to use. Take a look at how we’re able to introduce a streamlined, simpler way to order printed materials into your business environment:

  • AlphaGraphics will build an online storefront for your business that will serve as your web-to-print portal. Your storefront website can be designed with your logos and colors so that it’s completely unique to your brand.
  • Your authorized employees are assigned secure login credentials to access your storefront, and we set up the account structure with your customized internal order approval and billing/payment processes. You’ll be able to control who’s ordering and how payment is made, creating accountability for your business.
  • AlphaGraphics will work with you to populate your storefront with all of the branded documents, marketing materials and miscellaneous printed product you need to keep your business running. From business cards, stationery and sales collateral, to forms, signage, displays, banners and even branded clothing and promotional items, if it can be printed, we can add it to your storefront!

Once your Web-to-Print portal is up and running, the printed materials you need are always a few clicks away. Whether you just need a way for your sales team to order the frequently-used materials they rely on or you’re looking for a way to streamline ordering amongst several store locations, an agOnline portal is the simplest, most effective solution!

Why agOnline?

Web-to-Print portals aren’t a new invention but if not done right they can be more of a hindrance than a help. That’s why AlphaGraphics has taken the time to perfect the process: to make sure your experience with agOnline is one that benefits your business to the fullest.

agOnline is a high-value, all-in-one solution that supports both variable documents and static user-submitted documents. What this means is that no matter if you’re ordering the same thing month over month or you’re customizing materials for specific uses and purposes, agOnline will make it incredibly simple to get what you need. And don’t forget: AlphaGraphics has a powerful backbone of print production and workflow automation technologies that makes all this possible.

At AlphaGraphics, the motto has always been “easy, fast, secure,” which is why so many of our clients have found success in our agOnline platform. To see for yourself how this technology can streamline your business’ workflow and improve productivity, contact your local AlphaGraphics center today and ask about setting up an agOnline Web-to-Print portal.

How to Stand Out at Your Next Trade Show

Trade shows are a critical venue for your business to increase its visibility. Whether you’re new to the scene, pitching a new product, or simply keeping up with industry trends, it’s crucial to create an alluring, memorable trade show presence. And it all starts with your booth.

Your booth is your base of operations at any trade show. It’s also your home turf when you’re surrounded by competitors. And, most importantly, it’s a central destination for visitors who want to learn more about who you are and what you have to offer.

Preparing Your Trade Show Booth

Because your custom trade show booth plays such an integral role in your success at a trade show, it should be your first and foremost focus when planning. Think carefully about how you can optimize your limited space for maximum visibility:

  • Banners and table runners are a ground-level way to brand your booth. These iconic trade show staples need to boldly display your company name, brand concept, and contact information. Make sure banners and runners are free of any convoluting imagery—their sole purpose is to identify your booth to passersby.
  • Flags and pole signs are an optimal way to utilize the vertical space of a convention center. Vertical signage enables your booth to draw attention even when it’s not directly visible. These signs can also add to the branding of your booth and establish it as a landmark in a crowded convention space, continually drawing people back.
  • Backer signage within your book is a great way to complete the aesthetic and allure of your booth. It’s large enough to include powerful imagery, bold branding and captivating visuals that speak to passersby and attract them to your booth.

Gathering Tabletop Materials

Standing out at your next trade show means going beyond just putting together a cohesive booth presentation—it’s also about stocking it with takeaways and accessible information. Standing out means nothing if attendees don’t remember you after they walk away! Printed tabletop materials will ensure they have a tangible reminder of your booth and everything it had to offer:

  • Business cards are a must! Never attend a trade show without your business cards. This is going to be the easiest way for you to get into someone’s contact list and likewise for you to generate leads.
  • Brochures are the easiest, most organized, most cost-effective way to encapsulate information about your brand or product. Having brochures instantly available on your tabletop gives you a talking point and a takeaway, all in one.
  • Postcards are a great way to promote products, information, deals, contact information, etc. They’re simple, straightforward and easy to give out.
  • Nothing draws a crowd at a trade show like custom promotional products! Give people a reason to visit your booth and make sure they leave with something branded. From stickers and stress balls to pens, canvas bags, buttons and beyond, swag is easy to print and a cost-effective way to get your brand noticed.

Don’t Skimp on Trade Show Prep!

Trade shows are your chance to shine alongside other companies you might be competing with or at odds with. Taking the time to prep your booth and print up the right materials means giving yourself an edge and giving people a reason to choose your booth instead of someone else’s.

If you’re gearing up for a trade show in the near future, consult with your local trade show team at AlphaGraphics Middleton! We’ve helped businesses like yours win trade shows with exceptional print and promotional products, no matter the industry.

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!

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!

The Power of a Good Sign and How It Can Boost Your Business

When you think about the complexity of a business—from the physicality of the brand itself to the operational aspects that keep it running—it can be easy to overlook single components in favor of seeing the big picture. And while big picture prospects might be ideal to look at, it bodes well to remember that single business attributes can play a tremendous role in how that big picture is shaped.

Take business signage for example. Could a simple sign really be the chief driver of business, the identity of your brand or the selling point for potential customers? Absolutely! Take a look below at the power a good sign can wield and how having the right sign could allow your business access to this type of clout.

A few facts on signage

First things first: what’s the purpose of a sign? To bring in customers? To create brand awareness? To let potential customers know you exist?

If you said “all of the above,” you’re right: a good sign is a multipurpose tool that your business can and should use to its advantage. Take a look at some key pieces of data in regards to the different functions of a good sign, as compiled by signs.org:

– A good sign has been proven to attract up to 50 percent of a new startup’s initial customers.

– Roughly 35 percent of customers report that seeing a sign has alerted them to the existence of a business without any prior knowledge of that company.

– Customers living within five miles of your business will likely see your sign an average of 50-60x per month.

– The impressions made by one sign are equivalent to 24 full-page newspaper advertisements made annually.

The remarkable statistics keep going. In the end, the message is this: a business with good signage is going to see impressive returns on their investment in that sign, whether it be in the form of quality advertising, cohesive branding or persuasive allure.

A case study in signage success

Statistics are all well and fine when it comes to proving a point, but what really convinces people is an example they can relate to. And, when it comes to making an example of signage that has dramatically impacted the growth and perception of a business, there’s absolutely no substitute for a closer look at the iconic Golden Arches of McDonalds.

No matter what country you travel to, what language you speak or what your understanding of the business world may be, everyone understands immediately what the Golden Arches mean: they stand for Big Macs, French fries, chicken nuggets, coffee and more—everything McDonalds is selling and everything their brand revolves around. Today, the Golden Arches are widely considered the most recognized brand symbol in the world.

What does having the biggest and best signage get you? In the case of McDonalds, the Golden Arches are responsible for pulling in more than $21 billion each year—more than the entire economy of Vermont! All in all, the value of the Golden Arches rings in at around $85 billion, making it more than just the most valuable fast food brand by a wide margin, but one of the most valuable brands regardless of industry!

Now, it’s fair to say that McDonalds has done a lot more than just put up Golden Arches to achieve the success that it has—but it is fair to say that the brand’s iconic sign is largely responsible for its continued notoriety. Think of it this way: would you pull into a drive through at an unmarked building if you were craving a hamburger or would you keep your eyes peeled for those Golden Arches?

Harnessing the power of good signage

Signs come in all shapes and sizes—what makes a good sign effective is its appeal to the customers you’re trying to garner. Make sure your sign speaks to your target audience, that it communicates your business’ values, that it’s proper and professional, and that it’s clearly recognized. Paying attention to your sign—even if it is only one part of your overall business—means setting a foundation for growth that can be traced back to good signage.

If you’re designing a new sign from scratch, take the time to get it right and put in the effort to make sure it’s a sign that you can be proud of. If you already have a sign proudly hanging over your entryway, go outside and take a look at it—would you shop at your store based solely on the signage? Evaluating this singular component of your brand could have ramifications that transform your business for the better.

Using Professional Printing to Boost Your Real Estate Campaign

Summer is the prime season for real-estate. People looking to upgrade their living space are touring houses for sale and when they find that ideal upgrade, they’re putting their own homes up for sale. Listings are plentiful and the market is as hot as those summertime temps!

Professional Printing for Real Estate Agents

The problem with this prolific real estate season is that with so many homes flooding the market and so many buyers and sellers looking to stand out, it can be hard for realtors to help their clients get the best value. For realtors representing sellers, it’s all about keeping that asking price high and illustrating the value of a home; for realtors helping buyers, it’s about finding the perfect home at the right price.

If you’re a realtor—no matter what side of the real estate transaction you’re representing—it’s important to think about the best way to provide your clients with value. Often, the best way to do this is by making an upfront investment in professionally printed materials.

Bolstering Your Buyer’s Confidence

As a realtor, your reputation and presentation are going to be your keys to success when it comes to working with clients. Often, this directly correlates with having professionally printed materials and a strong ability to market yourself. To that end, it’s important to think about the essentials when it comes to printed offerings:

  • Business cards with a professional appeal to them and all of your vital contact information are going to be of major importance.
  • Having data sheets or sales materials regarding your specific territories will be helpful in showing potential clients that you have in-depth knowledge of housing trends in the areas you represent.
  • Having quick FAQ sheets to answer new buyer questions will help boost confidence and quell fears, all the while building your rapport with clients.

And these are just the essentials! In heated markets where competition for clients is strong, many realtors will go above and beyond in creating marketing materials that are truly encompassing to home buyers, such as branded folders that contain realtor information, which can be stuffed with FAQ sheets or specific housing information for desired listings.

The end goal is to ensure you’re attracting clients by answering their questions, instilling them with confidence and marketing your skills and expertise in a way that benefits them. Printed materials can be an answer to all of these objectives.

Exceeding Your Seller’s Expectations

When you’re representing a seller, it’s your duty as a realtor to help them sell their house for the highest possible price, with as few bumps as possible along the way. Often, this is easier said than done! But, with some quality marketing upfront, you can help your seller’s home stand out from the crowd in a way that ensures it fetches the best possible value on the open market:

  • Having data sheets for the home readily available at every open house, homebuyer’s seminar or other sales opportunity will give prospective buyers a glimpse into the home that will make them look twice.
  • Creating yard signs and markers that draw attention to a home beyond the “for sale” sign. These attention-grabbers can also be placed in high traffic areas away from the home, to drive prospective buyers to the listing.
  • Flyers and mailers can give potential buyers a quick synopsis of a home and its appeal, as well as some fast facts to push a sale.

Again, there’s always more you could be doing, but starting with some quality printed materials can go a long way towards creating opportunities for your seller.

Going Beyond Print

Marketing goes beyond print as well. It’s important to consider the many digital avenues that can supplement your marketing and how you can leverage these things to ensure you’re giving buyers and sellers the best possible advantage in the real estate market. Personal websites, housing descriptions on listing websites, email newsletters and more are all great ways to supplement your print marketing efforts for maximum effectiveness.

For all of these materials and strategy planning from talented marketing professionals, visit AlphaGraphics Middleton today. We’ll help you become the foremost realtor in your area by supporting your marketing efforts on both sides of the industry.

Do You Know Your Target Market?

We all want to grow our businesses, but how do you go about it? Whether targeting a specific industry, or a specific demographic, what is the best way to get noticed?  Simply put: identify their PAIN points! People and businesses respond to marketing that helps them alleviate their pains.  Just as you go to the doctor to heal your ailments, your marketing should seek to heal your clients’.

Step 1: Figure out your target audience. It sounds easy to do, but narrowing down your target audience is not always as simple as you think. There are many factors involved in list building, including business size, gender, education level—but what is the determining factor? Your optimal target market may very well be different than you think. What elements have you tested to determine your optimal target? Your company should target the industries and demographics that make it the most money. Once you have recognized where your bread and butter comes from, you can move onto identifying the pain points.

Step 2: Who do you go to? You’ve figured out who you want to go after. Maybe it’s business professionals between ages 25 — 50, or members of the financial industry. Now, how do you know what their pain points are? You likely have an inkling what your target market’s biggest concerns are, but to have a successful campaign, it is always wise to do a little research. Talk to clients in your target audience; Make sure you only promote what you can actually provide. What is the one thing you do better than everyone else? How does this match up with the pain points of your clients?

Ask them what they need help with the most. What are the most frustrating tasks for them within their company, or the industry in general? Sales people are another great resource for learning what concerns and excites their clients. No individual or company is perfect, so there is always room for improvement somewhere.

Step 3: How to use the new-found knowledge? Now you understand what bothers your target audience the most. You can definitely develop a marketing campaign to promote the solutions to the issue, but you have to be prepared to follow through with your solution and promises.

If you promise the fastest turnaround time in the industry, a great pain point for many industries, then your marketing campaign will bring people to your door. But if you can’t follow through, then the campaign is useless. Make sure you only promote what you can actually provide. What is the one thing you do better than everyone else? How does this match up with the pain points of your clients? Do they align?

Step 4: You know what you want to say. You have your messaging down, so what medium do you choose to convey your message? That depends on your target audience. Different target audiences will respond best to different medium types. For example, the younger generation will be much more susceptible to a text message campaign, while an older audience might feel that the text message is intrusive. If you are trying to reach a more protected audience, such as executive level types, a dimensional mailer may be the most effective way to get through the door.

Think long and hard about who your audience is, what the limitations of your specific medium are, and if there are any better choices out there.  Most of the time, you will need to use multiple mediums and multiple touches to get your message across loud and clear. Just as you shouldn’t assume you know your target market without testing, you need to evaluate which marketing channels and response mechanisms will elicit the best responses from your target market.

So as you plan your next marketing campaign, keep in mind that the most effective campaigns start with a solid list in a defined target market, and a well-delivered message tailored to relieve that audience’s pain points.  ALMOST as simple as saying: “Take two and call me in the morning.”