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.

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.

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!

7 Ways to Make Your Holiday Marketing Stand Out

The holiday season is fast approaching. Customers are beginning to think about holiday preparations and gifts, and companies are starting to ramp up their marketing efforts to attract shoppers. Throughout November and December, the competition for attention will be fierce.

To keep your brand top-of-mind throughout the busy holiday season and bring new and existing customers through your doors, you’ll want to take steps to make your marketing efforts stand out from the crowd. Use these seven tips to give your holiday marketing a competitive edge.

1. Use tactics that grab attention

Especially during the holiday season, customers are overwhelmed with emails, mailers, catalogs, social posts, and other communications from brands—and their attention starts to dwindle. In order to bring your company front and center, your marketing tactics should be designed to immediately catch and hold the customer’s attention.

One way to make sure you do this is to reach out to customers across multiple mediums, both in digital and print. Increasing the number of touchpoints your customer has with your brand increases the chance they’ll remember and pay attention to you.

There are also many simple enhancements you can make to your marketing campaigns that will have a more memorable impression. For example, instead of sharing static images on social media, consider sharing GIFs, animations, or videos—the activity and motion will help to catch the viewer’s eye. On printed pieces, add embellishments like metallic foiling, embossing, or coatings to texturize mailers and provide something unique and special.

2. Tell your audience what sets your brand apart

Your marketing pieces shouldn’t be the only things that stand out from the competition—your brand itself should, too. Consider what makes your company different from competitors and let your audience know.

Customers are drawn to the unique aspects of a brand—what makes them more personable or what aligns with their own values. Perhaps all of your products are made locally, or you donate a portion of your sales to a nonprofit organization. Every brand has its own unique elements, so broadcast those to your audiences to let them know what you’re about!

3. Take a customer-first approach

It’s tempting to explain all the cool features of your products or services to customers, but think about things from their perspective. You want customers to see value in your offerings—to know that your products can make their lives easier, happier, or better.

Shape your marketing messages around what your products can do for your customers and how they will benefit from buying them. Tap into your audience’s emotions to convey the feelings and experiences they’ll have once they own your product or use your service.

4. Personalize your campaigns

Customers like to know that brands understand them, and there’s no better way to prove that you do than by creating highly targeted campaigns designed around their wants and needs.

Start by clearly defining your target audience. Understand who those buyers are and what they care about, particularly around this time of year. Then segment your audience groups—such as new leads versus returning customers—and craft separate messages for each group in both your content and advertising campaigns.

Try to identify pain points or challenges for those audience segments and offer solutions to make their lives easier. During the holidays, one of the biggest pain points is stress from gift shopping. Use demographics and other customer data to make personalized gift recommendations or highlight seasonal offers that are relevant to them.

5. Appeal to emotions

The holidays are a particularly emotional time of year. Your customers are bound to feel many strong emotions, such as gratitude, hope, nostalgia, delight, reflection, celebration, and togetherness.

Using these emotions can add a special element to your campaigns and directly align with how customers feel to create a more positive impression. Consider your audience and choose a few emotions or holiday sentiments that are most likely to resonate with them.

For example, parents might respond well to messages of togetherness and celebration, while younger shoppers might be more impressed with sentiments of wonder and excitement. Be sure to tie these emotions into the messages, imagery, and overall look and feel of your campaigns.

6. Keep up with your content strategy

Throughout the holiday season, all too many companies take a sales-heavy approach and overwhelm customers with endless discounts and promotions. Sales fatigue can weigh on customers and cause them to tune these messages out. Alternately, by sharing informative, inspirational, and seasonal content, your brand can stand out from the noise.

Content proves your value to customers and engages them instead of merely selling to them. Make deeper connections with your audiences by sharing content that is useful and relevant, that helps them solve a need or reduce holiday stress, and that positions you as a thought leader in your industry.

The holidays are the perfect time to share special, themed content. There are plenty of options to choose from, including holidays gift guides, recipes, how-to videos for DIY gifts, quizzes, and much more.

7. Share in the spirit of the season

The holidays aren’t just about selling—they’re a time to show gratitude and give back to those who help your business thrive. Make sure you spread some holiday cheer to your customers, staff, and community to forge even deeper connections.

Your brand can make an impact by doing good in the community. Have your entire team volunteer with a local nonprofit, or team up with a charity to raise money or donations.

The spirit of the season should also extend to your customers. Show gratitude to them for supporting your business by sending thank-you notes from your team or hosting a “thank-you” event and inviting local community members. If you have a few key clients or customers, you could even send thoughtful gifts to remind them of how important they are to you. Even a small gesture can go a long way!

Think strategically for seasonal marketing

Marketing during the holiday season requires a little extra effort to ensure your brand’s voice is heard. By paying close attention to your audience, your messages, and what helps your company stand out, you can craft creative marketing campaigns that bolster your brand’s holiday marketing efforts.

How to Combine Digital and Print for More Effective Marketing Campaigns

Digital marketing has largely been adopted as a key marketing strategy for many businesses, but that doesn’t mean print is dead. In fact, print and digital marketing can work together to create more effective campaigns.

By using print as an extension of your digital marketing efforts, your campaigns can go even farther than with digital alone. Print can help drive traffic to your digital channels. What’s more, combining print and digital allows for additional touchpoints in the customer journey, helping to boost brand awareness and improve engagement. Print not only adds more touchpoints, but it also adds variety and memorability to your campaigns to help your brand stand out.

Print marketing comes in many forms, including direct mail, brochures and fliers, sales materials like fact sheets and catalogs, print ads, and even stationery and business cards. Signage is also an important aspect of print marketing. By using these tangible items to reinforce the messages you send on digital channels, you can add authenticity and trust to your campaigns and make a greater impact.

Combining Social Media and Print Marketing

Social media is a necessary component of digital marketing. Through your social channels, you can have conversations, build relationships, and get customers more engaged with your brand. Using print marketing strategically can bolster these efforts.

One of the ways to combine print and social media is to use printed materials to direct consumers to your social channels. Include your social media handles on all printed marketing collateral, so customers and leads know where to find you online. You might even take it one step further and advertise exclusive content within your print pieces to gain new followers on a particular social platform. In that case, set up an autoresponder on your brand’s account for when someone new follows you, and share the content piece within that automated direct message.

Printed materials can also prompt consumers to join the conversation on your social platforms. Include a unique hashtag on printed collateral and encourage customers to use it online.

It can also work the other way—social media can bolster the effectiveness of your print campaigns. Social channels offer a wealth of consumer data beyond basic demographics, such as likes and interests, that you can use to create highly targeted print materials or direct mail campaigns. You might find success using this data to entice leads with targeted freebies like content or giveaway items.

Combining Websites, Email, and Print Marketing

Your website and email lists are two other crucial components of your digital marketing strategy. Current and potential customers use your website and emails to learn more about your brand and stay up to date. These, too, can be integrated with print marketing for maximum effect.

Use print marketing to drive traffic to key landing pages on your website. If you want to recruit email subscribers, add a QR code or a shortened URL that takes users directly to your sign-up page. You can also do this for product pages or digital catalogs; showcase a few popular products on the printed piece, then direct buyers to the full catalog or an order page. If you’re offering a giveaway, the same rules apply. Advertise the giveaway on the printed piece and include a QR code or URL that takes the consumer to a page where they can redeem the gift.

Two-part content campaigns also work really well with print and digital marketing. Include a teaser for a piece of content on your printed material, and direct customers to your website or email newsletter to view the rest.

Leveraging Digital and Print Technology

What’s exciting about the combination of digital and print marketing is that advancements in technology have allowed for greater interactivity between the print and digital worlds.

One example of this is personalization. Variable data printing, which allows variations in text, colors, graphics, and images based on the recipient, lets you personalize almost all printed materials. This extends to things like personalized URLs—when added to print pieces, PURLs direct customers to landing pages that are highly targeted and customized to them. You can even use PURLs to pre-fill a lead’s information into online forms.

Print goes farther using new technology like augmented reality, which blends the physical and digital worlds with just a smartphone. Similar to adding QR codes, you can use AR in print marketing to send the consumer to a landing page, form, video, or app; it can even allow them to make a phone call or send an email.

But AR can do much more to enhance the digital experience of your printed pieces. It can reveal hidden text, images, or graphics on your mailers when looked at on a screen. It can turn flat images on sales sheets into 3D models and make them interactive. You can even use AR to launch animations, videos, and sound effects to create more immersive campaigns.

Creating the Most Effective Blended Marketing Campaigns

Of course, when combining digital and print marketing efforts, you still want to adhere to marketing best practices. Most notably, make sure the content you send through any medium is relevant and valuable to the audience. Using print and digital together allows you to take this a step further and really personalize your content for a highly targeted campaign.

All of your materials—online and offline—should include a clear call to action. If you’re using print to drive customers to an online location, make the offer and directions clear and easy to follow, or you might not see as much engagement as you’d hoped for.

Also pay attention to the design of your printed and digital pieces and how they work together. Link graphics, colors, and fonts across mediums for brand cohesion. Make sure your print pieces draw attention, so consumers want to check out your digital offerings. Using special embellishments like foil, embossing, glossy or matte coatings, or die and laser cuts on your printed materials can grab and hold the customer’s attention enough to direct them online.

Finally, tracking your campaigns is extremely important. Consider how you will measure ROI for both printed and digital items. QR codes and custom URLs can help you track how many people are following through on the print-to-digital jump. You might also track usage of a unique discount code provided only on printed marketing materials to see how effectively your print campaigns contributed to purchases or conversions.

Print is just as important in your marketing campaigns as ever, but with today’s technological enhancements, print will serve a different purpose as a tangible extension of your digital campaigns. By combining your digital campaigns with print in unique and engaging ways, you’ll be able to amplify your marketing efforts and see better results.

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!

Why You Need Content Marketing to Build Customer Loyalty

In the age of fierce competition and high brand standards, building customer loyalty is key for small businesses. You want buyers to return to your company again and again because of what your brand has to offer. In order to obtain this loyalty, your brand will need to start by building customer trust.

Trust and loyalty are hallmarks of good relationships with your customer base. To accomplish these things, you need buyers to find value in your brand—not just in your products or services, but the company’s existence as a whole.

Unfortunately, it’s tougher than ever to have in-person interactions with customers, so you’ll need to shift your relationship-building efforts to new platforms and modes of communication. The best way to do this, and to build loyalty and trust along the way, is to use content marketing.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and delivering valuable, relevant content to your customers on a regular basis. Content marketing can take on many forms and be delivered through a wide range of platforms. Most importantly, content marketing is used to engage, excite, educate, and delight your customers in order to build those lasting, trusting relationships.

Why content marketing? The approach has a number of purposes:

  • Attract and engage customers: Posting content on a regular basis provides something for your current customers to engage with and enjoy, but it also provides more avenues for potential customers to find you and encourages them to give your brand a shot.
  • Demonstrate value: Customers don’t just turn to your brand for your products and services. They’re looking for value, whether in the form of entertainment, education, or expertise. Through content marketing, you can demonstrate your brand’s thought leadership and deliver consistent value.
  • Nourish and strengthen relationships: Creating engaging content helps to foster relationships with your customers, then continue to nourish and strengthen those relationships by remaining consistent and valuable.

A lot of brands misuse content marketing and are disappointed with their results. This is largely because of a misunderstanding of what, exactly, content marketing should be used for.

Content marketing is not about completing transactions. It’s not an ad that will close a sale or entice a customer to purchase right away. Rather than using content marketing to drive sales, use it to give your audience what they need and want. Whereas ads might turn people off or seem pushy, content marketing offers something interesting to the audience and positions your brand as an expert or an inspiration.

There are tons of ways to do this, from blog posts to videos to eBooks and infographics. Any type of useful, creative content can be incorporated into a content marketing plan.

For instance, if you run a clothing boutique, you might share photographed look books to inspire buyers’ fashion choices. If you run a plant nursery, you might create a series of videos teaching gardening basics. No matter what type of content you choose, it should inspire, teach, and engage a specific audience: your customers.

Using content marketing to build trust and loyalty

So, how do you use content marketing strategically to build trust and loyalty among your customers? There are a few ways you can approach it.

  • Be authentic: One of the most important things to remember about content marketing is that all your content—whether it’s a video series, webinar, or photos—should be authentic to your brand. Stick to the same messages, style, and voice you use in other aspects of marketing. You don’t want your content to come off as forced. Instead, it should feel familiar and approachable.
  • Tell a story: Nothing is quite as engaging as a good story, and storytelling is a great way to build emotional connections with your audience. Use content marketing to tell stories relating to your company. You could tell your brand’s story and history or even the story of a customer who found success by using your products and services.
  • Show how you do good: Is your business committed to giving back to the community? Does your brand support a particular cause, or do your employees volunteer for a local organization? Show customers how and why you choose to do good in this way. Done correctly, this type of content can build trust and loyalty by proving to the audience that you’re dedicated to more than just making money.
  • Humanize your brand: More and more customers are interested in learning about the faces behind their favorite brands. Content marketing gives you the perfect opportunity to humanize your brand by showing off the people behind your operations. For example, you could create employee spotlights or share photos of company events.
  • Allow customers to interact: The best content is that which allows customers to actually engage and interact with your brand. Try to incorporate interactive content into your marketing plan to open up a two-way conversation. Fun things like quizzes work well on social media, while webinars and workshops allow a smaller segment of your audience to get even more value from your company.

Give your customers what they need

You don’t want to make content just for the sake of making content. The most important aspect of content marketing is ensuring that you create and deliver content that’s tailored to your audience. Rather than push information and ads on customers to drive what you need and want, give them what they need and want. Doing this will show your customers that you have value to offer and will build more trust and loyalty.

To do this, you need to understand who your customers truly are. Drill down on their demographics and psychographics to determine the specific segments of your audience. Then, create content specifically for them. They should find everything you share useful and relevant.

The content for every brand will be different, but to narrow down on the focus your content should have, ask yourself:

  • What challenges do my customers have, and what solutions can my brand offer?
  • What topics are relevant to my audience?
  • What does my audience care about?
  • What can I teach customers that will add value to their lives?

Most importantly, don’t use content marketing to sell. Although your content should always be relevant to your brand and might even mention your products and services, its main focus should be on the engagement and value it delivers—not on your brand making a profit. When done correctly, content marketing will convince customers to check out your offerings on their own because they trust you and appreciate the value you have to offer.

Everyone pays more attention to content that’s tailored to their specific interests. By focusing your content marketing strategy around what your customers truly want, they’ll learn that your brand offers immense value. Continue using different types of content to nourish and strengthen the relationships you have with your customers; trust and loyalty are sure to follow, at which point you’ve created a customer for life.

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.

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.

6 Reasons Wall and Floor Graphics are Better Than Paint

When it comes to decorating your commercial space, you face a variety of decisions to make. What colors should you use? What kind of accents should you have? What materials will work best? In the face of these decisions and more, most choose to simply paint their surroundings in their brand’s hues.

But why paint when you could do something more unique? We’re talking about wall graphics and floor graphics, and the many benefits they bring with them. Take a look at 6 reasons surface decals and graphics are a smarter choice than plain old paint.

1. Graphics Save You Time, Money and Effort

Wall and floor graphics offer significant savings in both time and money. Whether you hire professional painters or complete your paint job as a DIY project, you’re committing financial and manpower resources to the job. Painting also requires a lot of prep-time, work-time and clean-up time. Depending on the size of the space, it can require a hefty amount of paint as well. Tape, drop cloths, brushes, rollers and other supplies boost the total even more. You’ll have a large bill from the painting company or a long receipt from a commercial paint store.

Or, you can skip all this cost and hassle by choosing wall graphics. Simple to apply, you don’t need extra supplies or a team of professionals to get it done. You’ll save on decorating costs and free up funds for other areas of operation.

2. Graphics Enhance Your Brand Appeal

With wall and floor graphics, the possibilities are endless. What image do you want your brand to convey? How do you want your organization to stand out? Use custom graphics to send the message you desire.

Be as unique as you want to be with graphics that tell the story you want them to. More than a simple paint color, graphics offer the opportunity to share your logo, slogan or motto, as well as depict the exact designs you want for individual spaces. Your custom-designed wall and floor graphics are the ideal solution to differentiate your building from every other organization.

3. Graphics are Better-Purposed for Applications

Wall and floor graphics take decorating to the next level: they make it functional. Decals not only beautify your space, they offer multiple methods to share messaging, allowing you to think outside the paint can. Use an entire wall to display an ad. Guide visitors through your facility with way finding floor graphics. List your mission statement on the wall for all to see. The practical applications are limitless!

4. Graphics Offer Exceptional Value

Wall and floor graphics are easy to replace. For large graphics, you can reprint or replace small parts if damaged. To change the look of your space, simply apply a new graphic. This is much easier and more cost-effective than repainting that same space. Made to last, quality floor and wall graphics will stand the test of time and prove to be a valuable investment.

5. Graphics Keep Your Facilities Clean

Wall and floor graphics offer a crisp, clean look for your space. While painted walls get dingy over time and are hard to keep free of dings and scratches, graphics are easy to clean. Simply use a wet cloth and mild soap to keep your graphics looking sharp. You’ll always be able to present a spotless environment to visitors and clients, while maintaining a reputation for quality.

6. Graphics Improve Your Environment

Did you know you can use photography, art or text for your wall and floor graphics? Imagery can include anything you have in mind. Turn your naked walls into inviting images of your choice—be it decals of your flagship product, a creative design or a portrait of your campus. Offering people more than a solid, single-color wall of paint can improve the mood and atmosphere of your space in a dramatic way.

Take Advantage of Surface Graphics

AlphaGraphics has extensive expertise in wall and floor graphic design and applications. If you’re looking for a way to deploy these decals in your commercial space, AlphaGraphics Middleton today. We’ll help you harness the benefits above, to give your surroundings the boost they deserve.