Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seven Identity Items Every Business Needs

In the past, all sales and marketing materials were printed. Later, the Internet added new ways to reach customers and prospects. Over time, Internet-based marketing replaced some printed materials, enhanced others, and also provided new marketing tools.

No matter what kind of business you have, there remain some basic printed items that all businesses need:

  • The corporate identity package consists of business cards, letterhead and envelopes, note cards and envelopes and mailing labels.
  • Sales material consists of a company brochure, note pads, and a direct mail piece, such as a postcard or newsletter.
     

The Corporate Identity Package

A corporate identity package is an efficient way to establish brand identity and to provide basic contact information to customers and prospects. An identity system has several specific parts: the overall layout, the fonts, the color palette, and the paper. All work together to create the brand identity. Considering the importance of making a positive and lasting impression on customers and prospects, it is best to have the entire system – business cards, letterhead and envelopes, note cards and envelopes and mailing labels – professionally designed and printed.

When you hand a business card to someone, you are establishing a personal connection, which the recipient will recall later. You’re also putting a face to a name – the corporate brand now has a live person attached to it. Even better, handing out business cards doesn’t require anything from the recipient except the willingness to accept the card.

A business card is actually a very economical form of advertising. If you give out five business cards every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday, a purchase of 500 cards will last for almost four months. And it costs the same to print a professionally designed business card that makes an outstanding impression, as it does to print an ordinary business card that looks like everyone else’s card.

Here is the essential information to include on your business card:

  • Business identification. This includes the business name and logo. Include business contact information such as address, phone number, and website.
  • Individual contact information.
 
This includes the individual’s name and title, direct phone numbers (land line and mobile), email address, and alternate physical address if the individual does not work at the business location.

By convention, phone numbers are listed in the order of the individual’s preference (i.e., if you prefer to be contacted by cell phone, list that number first).

  • Optional information. If the card is not too crowded, or if it is a fold-over card, additional information such as business tag line, the individual’s photograph, and a list of products and services can also be included.
 
The design of the other three elements of the corporate identity package should match the business card. The purpose of letterheads and envelopes is to visually express the company’s identity and make a good first impression. As with business cards, this is best achieved with professional design and printing. As desktop color inkjet printers have improved, it is tempting to forego printing a supply of letterhead and envelopes, and instead print as needed. While this may seem easier, it is likely more expensive.

Whenever you need to send something in either a large envelope or a package, you’ll need a mailing label. This is another opportunity to reinforce your professional branding. Make sure the design matches the other elements of your corporate identity system because the mailing label is often the first thing a recipient sees and thus their first impression of your company.

Note cards are many times preferable to using letterhead for writing short letters and thank you notes. They are more personal, especially if handwritten. Even Jimmy Fallon is a big fan of the handwritten note. By matching your other stationery items, it gives your personal note a professional appearance.

Sales and Marketing Materials

The success of any business depends heavily on its sales and marketing effort. A company’s sales staff needs to have collateral material to augment and reinforce prospecting and face-to-face sales activities. The basic elements are a company brochure, a direct mail piece, and note pads.

  • The company brochure introduces the company, and its product or service. It provides the distinctive features and benefits that distinguish your company from the competition. It often provides background information about the company and includes contact information. Common elements include the year the company was founded, list of locations, names, photographs, and brief biographies of founders and key personnel, contact information, mission statement, and a brief corporate history.
     
  • The direct mail marketing piece could be a postcard, a newsletter, or a mailer with a response device. Its purpose is to introduce something – the company to prospects, or your products and services to both customers and prospects. It also serves as a reminder to customers which keeps the company top of mind. Direct mail marketing pieces should always include a call to action and create a sense of urgency.
     
  • Note pads are a give-away item that reinforces the company brand and makes your contact info easy to find. Branded notepads are terrific give aways for trade shows or leave behinds after a sales call.
     
Visually, sales and marketing materials need to be consistent with the corporate identity. This means more than just using the company name and logo. Typography, copy writing style, and color palette should reinforce the corporate identity by conveying the same “look and feel”.

Just like the business stationery package, sales and marketing materials need to be professionally designed and printed. This is especially true when the material is in the form of a folded brochure. To ensure that the brochure lies flat after folding, the width of the individual panels must be adjusted slightly. In addition, folding by machine produces a tighter fold with sharp creases.

Professional Expertise

Part of our professional expertise lies in our design department. Phil Gross trained at Drexel University and has over 7 years of experience. Brigid Kaye trained at The University of Texas and has over 30 years of experience. To schedule an appointment to talk about your corporate identity or sales collateral material, call Brigid at 215-923-2679 or email brigid@creativecharacters.com.

Effective Promotion

Brochures remain one of the most effective ways to market your products and services. Brochures are used by businesses of all sizes and are a perfect way to let new customers know what you do and remind existing customers of all that you have to offer.

A popular brochure format is the 8.5 x 11 trifold.

  • Panel 1 is the front cover. It’s the first thing a reader sees, so the copy and images must be compelling enough to get the reader to open it. Sometimes this panel is used as a teaser and may not include the company name or logo.
     
  • Panel 2 answers the reader’s question “What’s in it for me” – in other words, what are the products or services, how will they solve a problem, improve life, make things better, or otherwise create a recognized benefit.
     
  • Having established the benefits in Panel 2, Panels 3 and 4 can be used to describe the features and specifications. It may also contain ordering information.
     
  • Panel 5 presents evidence about the product or service, like a testimonial from a satisfied customer or performance statistics.
     
  • Panel 6 is the back cover. It can be used to create a sense of urgency (such as limited time offer), to present the call to action (such as redeem this coupon), and describe the next step (such as call now). It is also possible to incorporate a mailing panel into Panel 6.

Q&A: I’m trying to decide between using direct mail or email to introduce my new product. Which one will be most effective?

That’s a tough question. The best answer is both. By using both email and direct mail together, the introduction of your new product is sure to be seen by all on your list either in the mail or the inbox.

If you must choose only one, here are some statistics to consider. According to Pingdom, almost 69% of all email messages are spam. Of the 3.3 billion email accounts worldwide, 75% are registered to consumers and 25% to businesses.

Informatics professor, Gloria Mark from the University of California at Irvine, says one of the main problems with email is that there isn’t an “off” switch, meaning you don’t need to be on it to receive messages. Email piles up, waiting for your attention. This creates a backlog of email in the inbox increasing the likelihood the recipient will delete the email without opening it. According to HubSpot, email open rates are around 25%.
 
Contrast this with these direct mail statistics. According to the most recently-published study results, 85% of direct mail is at least skimmed before being discarded or saved.
 
Direct mail marketing read and response rates have been on the rise for the past ten years. One of the main reasons a person doesn’t read a direct mail piece is because of the volume received in a day. Since the amount of direct mail has decreased over the last decade, the average number of households reading their mail has increased. The study results also indicate that about 35% of people say they will respond to a direct mail piece at some point.

Executive Achievement

One of the top tips from HR pros for anyone looking to take a leap up the career ladder is to have a business card. A business card is an essential tool in connecting with others. I’ve heard people say “Business cards are antiquated, it’s better to connect online.” There is no replacement for handing a new contact your business card representing you and your company in a positive light.

Yes, people can easily find you online, but that requires effort. They have to actively go look for you and frankly most people won’t. Why? Because they get distracted, forget your name, forget to look you up or it could be simply that you’re not first on their priority list. With a business card, they’re holding all your information in the palm of their hand. A professional business card sends a subconscious message of executive achievement. Consider it the final touch to a good first impression.

If I can help you make a better first impression with an outstanding business card, please give me a call at 215-923-2679 or email brigid@creativecharacters.com.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Better ROI Using Print with Social Media

Use of social media sites has exploded in the last several years. In 2005, Pew Research Center found that only 2% of adults were using a social media site. Today, it’s increased to over 75%.

Along with this growth, social media has evolved from purely personal to commercial use – a way for people to connect to a business and its fans. Businesses find they can use social media for marketing such as dialoguing with customers, building brand awareness, providing coupons or special offers, and alerting customers to upcoming promotions or product launches.

Social media offers a new way for businesses to connect with customers and leverage customer loyalty to attract new customers. As explained by author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: Psychology of Persuasion, the idea of tapping into the wisdom of the crowd is based on a principle of social influence. Instead of making a decision based on traditional measures, we instead turn to outside influences. Cialdini calls this social proof, which he defines as “the means by which we determine what is correct, by finding out what other people think is correct.”

Direct Mail is Still Relevant

Does the popularity of social networking sites mean that businesses and organizations can drop print and direct mail as marketing tools? Research suggests not. ExactTarget surveyed American online consumers regarding how they prefer to receive marketing messages. They asked how acceptable it is for companies to send unsolicited marketing messages through various channels (e-mail, direct mail, text messaging). Direct mail was the only channel where an unsolicited message was not viewed
as inappropriate.

ExactTarget also found that 65% purchased a product or service after receiving direct mail while only 20% made a purchase after receiving an email message, and only 16% made a purchase prompted by a text message.

The Internet Advertising Bureau commissioned a study to examine how consumers interact with various marketing channels. Results showed that 75% of adult consumers discover new products from off-line sources like word-of-mouth, direct mail, catalogs, and television. After the initial purchase, consumers preferred to be sent catalogs and direct mail as a way for companies to keep them informed.

The basis of social media is fostering a sense of community where fans can build relationships and share with others. This is different from traditional marketing which emphasizes products and services. On social media, you risk alienating fans and provoking negative posts if too much emphasis is on selling, rather than providing something of value.

Social media also requires consistent effort to demonstrate that something valuable is gained by connecting to your business. How much effort? Idealware, a nonprofit organization that helps nonprofits make informed software decisions, estimates that it takes at least two hours per week on each social media channel to see significant marketing results.

Print and Social Media Marketing

If you can only afford to use one marketing channel, we believe it should be direct mail. Here’s why:

  • The marketing message gets to the customer or prospect. You are reaching out, not waiting for someone to find you.
     
  • You control the message. At a social media site, anyone can say anything, even if it isn’t true.
     
  • You are competing with fewer messages. These days there is far less competition for your customer’s or prospect’s attention in the mail box.
     
  • Mail is a physical media. The brain responds differently to physical and digital media. According to a study by Millward Brown, physical media like direct mail leaves a “deeper footprint” in the brain, involves more emotional processing, and produces more brain responses.
     
  • Longevity. Investing in print and/or direct mail can provide you with a marketing piece that your customer may keep for years.
     
  • Conveys trust. Marketing is all about perception and conveying trust. According to a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) study, 56% of consumers found print marketing to be the most trustworthy of all media channels. In fact, the study showed that you’re 10% more likely to get a response from mail, rather than email.
     
  • Inspires action. According to the same DMA study, after receiving direct mail, 44% of consumers will visit a brand’s website and 34% will search online for more information about the product or service.

Better Together

Here are a few tips for making social media and direct mail work together.

  • Make your direct mail piece interactive by adding a QR code. The code could lead to a landing page or survey with a reward for completing it or a YouTube video demonstrating your product or providing instructions.
     
  • Create a Facebook page for your event. Mail a postcard with a QR code linking to your Facebook page.
     
  • Start an interest group on LinkedIn, and encourage participation with a postcard.
     
  • Monitor Twitter conversations about your products or services. Use the topics in your newsletter.
     
According to Stephen Brown, Chief Innovation Officer at Cookerly Public Relations, “A great printed piece is one you want to spend time with. It has more value and permanence. When it’s passed on to others, it’s a sure sign that the content is quality.” Brown goes on to say that postcards are one of the staples of Cookerly’s public relations strategies. For events, postcards are still a great way to cut through the clutter, especially when timeliness is a factor. Successful businesses are embracing a multi-channel approach to marketing, using both print and digital.

We’re Marketing Experts

Call on us to help you integrate social media marketing with print and direct mail. We have been providing print services to our customers since 1995 and social media services since 2004. We’re good at what we do and passionate about helping you achieve your business goals. For more information or to set an appointment, call Brigid at 215-923-2679 or email her at brigid@creativecharacters.com.

Create Buzz Using Print with Facebook

If your business draws its customers from a neighborhood or other defined geographic area, you can combine direct mail and social media to get people sharing with each other. Here’s how:
  1. Be sure your Facebook page has good customer reviews for new visitors to read.
  2. Make an offer that you know has appeal –  a free gift or an add-on with purchase like free tire rotation with the purchase of 4 new tires.
  3. Develop a mail piece (postcard, flyer, or brochure) that describes the offer.
  4. On the mail piece, direct recipients to your Facebook page and instruct them to write a specific phrase on the page (such as “Got a gift for reading my mail”) to be eligible for the offer.
  5. On your Facebook page, refer to the direct mail piece (“Our neighbors are getting free gifts just for opening their mail”).
This will start people talking. Regular visitors to your Facebook page will ask how they can get in on the offer, and direct mail recipients will read the good customer reviews on your Facebook page.

Q&A: Are QR codes still relevant?

According to a recent survey report, the number of unique QR code users continues to increase. Other findings from the report:
  • The most popular QR code marketing campaigns are connecting to video, app downloads, and product details.
  • QR codes from quick-service restaurants were among the top five industries that use QR codes. Restaurants used QR codes to offer customer promotions.
  • Mobile phones account for 93% of the total QR code traffic.
  • More men (68%) use QR codes than women (32%).
  • 55% of QR code users are 25-44 year olds.
     
Some other common uses of QR codes are:
  • To send information to a mobile phone, like dialing a phone number for instance. Parking lots use this to send customers a text message to let them know where their car is parked.
  • To initiate an email that is pre-populated with the recipients information or to download an audio or video file with information, such as assembly instructions.

Highly Effective Marketing

Consumers’ lives are increasingly online. Businesses need effective ways to break through the noise and be heard. A successful marketing campaign works best when print is used as one part of an integrated solution. On their own, social media and print fulfill vital marketing roles. When combined, they are a highly effective marketing force for any business.
 
Research has shown that adding print to the marketing mix will increase the ROI of the overall campaign. Technology used with print forms a bridge between print media and a brand’s online presence, inviting customer reaction, feedback and purchase, all via a smartphone, tablet or PC. Such technologies increase the effectiveness of print media, as well as enhancing the consumer experience.
 
We can help you navigate all the possibilities, even the ones you don’t know about yet. Give us a call at 215-923-2679. Let’s get started!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Envelopes: Begin With The End In Mind

All too often, a project is conceived, designed, and printed before any thought goes into how it will be mailed. When we say begin with the end in mind, we’re suggesting that early in the planning process thought should be given to what type and size envelope will be used.

If you intend to mail your brochure, invitation, or thank you card, it’s a good idea to size it to fit in a standard envelope. Although custom size envelopes are possible, it’s an expensive and lengthy process.

Common Business Envelopes

Envelopes are made for many purposes, so it’s useful to categorize them according to use.

Commercial envelopes are used for business purposes such as correspondence, direct mail, and billing. They’re made of 24# basis weight paper in these popular sizes:
 
  • #10 – the most common business size; an 8.5 x 11 sheet that is trifolded fits perfectly inside.
     
  • #9 – slightly smaller than a #10; also holds a tri-folded 8.5 x 11 sheet, but will fit inside a #10. Often used as a remittance envelope.
     
  • 6 ¾ – also fits inside a #10; often used as a remittance envelope.
     
These three sizes are all available with or without a standard window and with or without security tint inside.

Large envelopes are used for mailing bulkier material, like booklets, or contracts where folding is undesirable. The two styles of large envelopes are catalog and booklet. A catalog envelope has the flap on the shorter side, while a booklet envelope has the flap on the longer side. Large envelopes are made of 24# or 28# stock in either white or manila. The most popular sizes are:

  • 6x9: holds 8.5 x 11 sheets folded in half.
  • 9x12: holds 8.5 x 11 sheets without folding.
  • 10x13: holds 8.5 x 11 sheets without folding or a standard size 9x12 folder.
     
Specialty envelopes are used for social correspondence and invitations. A good rule of thumb when choosing the size of a specialty envelope is to have at least 0.25 inch more in height and width than the piece being inserted. Common specialty envelopes include:

Baronial: referred to with “Bar” after the size; they are typically available in white or ivory stock. This envelope has diagonal seams and a pointed flap. Used for formal announcements, invitations, greeting cards, and sometimes personal stationery.

The most popular sizes are:

  • 5 ½ Bar – fits a 4.25” x 5.5” response or reply card or a small thank you card.
  • 6 Bar – fits a 4.5” x 6.25” response or reply card or a folded thank you note.
  • 7 Bar or Lee – fits a 5” x 7” folded invitation or announcement card.
     
Each size baronial envelope will fit into the next largest size. However, because of the pointed flap, baronial envelopes cannot be sealed by machine. They must be sealed by hand.

Announcement: referred to as A-style; these envelopes have side seams and a square flap. They’re available in more colors and kinds of stock than a baronial. Used for invitations and personal stationery, the most popular sizes are:

  • A-2 – fits a 4.25” x 5.5” response or reply card or a small thank you card.
  • A-6 – fits a 4.5” x 6.25” response or reply card or a folded thank you note.
  • A-7 – fits a 5” x 7” folded invitation or announcement card.
     
Each size announcement envelope will fit into the next largest size.

Sealing Methods

Envelopes offer a variety of sealing methods:

  • Moisture Activated (also known as “lick and stick”) has gum applied to the flap.
     
  • Press and Seal has two flaps, each with a strip of latex gum that adheres when pressed together.
     
  • Peel and Seal has a paper strip over a strip of latex gum. Remove the strip and press the flap to seal.
     
  • Metal fasteners are sometimes used on large envelopes, particularly those made of manila stock.
     
  • String and button, a metal or paper button with a string that wraps around the button, are common on interoffice envelopes that will be opened and closed frequently.
     
  • Tamper-evident has a perforated strip on the top flap; once opened, it cannot be resealed.
     

Design Considerations When Printing Envelopes

Envelopes can present some unique printing challenges. When printing an envelope, a bleed is any printed element that extends beyond the edge. A full bleed means the printed elements extend beyond all four edges. Since it is not practical to print right to the edge of an envelope, typically the image needs to be printed first and then converted into an envelope. This may not add much expense if a large number of envelopes are being printed, but can add quite a bit on smaller quantities.

Let Us Help

Envelopes play an important role in business communications and transactions as well as direct mail marketing. We can guide you through the choice of envelopes to find the perfect match for your project. To discuss options, call Jason or Marya at 215-923-2679.

Storing Envelopes

Like all paper products, envelopes perform best if stored correctly. Here are our recommendations to prolong the shelf life of your envelopes:
  • Store envelopes in dry, well-ventilated areas. Humidity can affect the glue on the flap, causing it to prematurely react where the flap sticks the envelope closed.
  • Ideal storage conditions are temperatures of 65-85 degrees and 35-65 percent relative humidity. Your typical climate controlled office environment works well.
  • Place boxes and cartons on a shelf or raised surface to prevent moisture from the floor getting into the boxes.
  • Keep boxes and cartons closed to guard against damage from moisture.
  • Store envelopes resting on the side, not lying flat.