Friday, April 27, 2012

Knock Out Results

Have traditional marketing methods like direct mail, print and broadcast media been made irrelevant by email marketing and social media? Is there still a place for these tried-and-true methods?

We believe marketing is most effective when you use multiple communication methods together, instead of just one. This is especially true for small businesses and non-profit organizations that have modest marketing budgets and staff that can devote only a small part of their time to marketing.

Direct mail marketing has not disappeared for one very good reason – it works! This has been confirmed by multiple research studies that affirm its advantages and make head-to-head comparisons to email marketing. But email marketing also has its place. Together, direct mail and email are the 1-2 punch that produces knockout results.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How do people process marketing messages?

To answer that question, a study used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to understand differences in how online and offline media communicate a message. The research was conducted by Millward Brown in conjunction with the University of Bangor in Wales, UK.

Ten males and ten females were shown images presented on screen (to simulate the online experience of email) and then on printed cards (to simulate direct mail). To summarize the findings:

"The printed material facilitated greater emotional processing–seen as more brain activity in the areas associated with visual and spatial information–suggesting it is more real to the subject. Greater emotional involvement leads to more positive brand associations, along with easier brand recall. This more tangible experience is also more readily internalized by the viewer, which means the ads should have a more personal effect that in turn positively influences motivation to take action, like buying a product or making a donation".

In contrast, the response to online materials demonstrated a difficulty to focus.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ethical Standards

Sometimes, as responsible business people, we have to do what is necessary, rather than what is easy. This month’s topic is a perfect example. As we search the web looking for a specific bit of information, we may inadvertently find something that would be especially useful for marketing or prospecting. It is so simple to use Control C and V to copy and paste the information into a file. As I said, that’s the easy part. The not-so-easy part? Requesting permission for its use from the author.

We’ve long advocated collecting ideas in a swipe file to be used later for brainstorming. But that’s different than presenting the work of others as if it is your own (plagiarizing) or engaging in copyright infringement.

If you find the work of others to be exactly what you need, contact the author and request permission for use. Not only is it a good business practice, it is a great compliment and ultimately, the right thing to do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

4 Myths of Infringement


Myth 1: A work must have the copyright notice for copyright protection to be in force. This has not been true since April 1, 1989. We use the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. It requires that copyright must be automatic and prohibits formal registration.

Myth 2: Anything posted on the World Wide Web is in the public domain. While works published before 1923 are in the public domain, much of what is available on the web is more recent and will not be in the public domain for decades. To be in the public domain, the words “This work is dedicated to the public domain” must be present.

Myth 3: There’s no copyright infringement if I’m not selling the copyrighted material. If you use copyrighted material for any reason, you are guilty of infringement, whether or not you profit from the use. The author has the exclusive right to control what is done with the work.

Myth 4: If it doesn’t hurt anyone, it isn’t copyright infringement.
It isn’t up to the user to decide whether the owner has been hurt by the copyright infringement. Even if you can’t imagine how the owner might be hurt, it isn’t your right to decide.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Photographs, Drawings and other Graphic Art

Images – photographs, clip art, drawings, graphics – are usually copyright-protected. Determining the copyright owner for photographs is sometimes difficult. In general, the photographer is considered the owner even if the work was for hire (such as photographs of a wedding or other event). And the copyright endures even if the photographer is no longer living – rights can be transferred by a will as personal property. The photographer must specifically transfer the copyright, in writing and signed, to another person.

Stock photography and clip art sold in books, on CDs or downloadable from websites is royalty-free (or may be in the public domain) most of the time. Usually, it is not copyright-free. Some images are rights managed requiring royalties to be paid for usage. Exercise care when using these images. By reading the agreement or license that accompanies the image or is available on the website, you’ll understand what your rights are for reproduction of the image and whether there are limitations on use. The most common limitation is for incorporating the image into something you intend to offer for sale, such as photos identified for editorial use only.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tradition Plus Innovation

Strategy versus tactics. The “Big Picture” rather than the details. Or more succinctly, the forest, not the trees. That’s what I keep in mind as I work on developing an effective way to market my business.

A strategy describes how to achieve an objective – in my case, how to sell something to somebody. My marketing strategy considers what customers to target (and which not), what products and services to offer (and which not), and how to do this with maximum efficiency. While I may change the tactics I use to implement my strategy (dropping word-of-mouth and Yellow Pages advertising in favor of a mobile website and Facebook page, for example), the strategy itself doesn’t change.

In this issue of CreativeBrief we present the idea that there are some basic tactics to an effective marketing strategy – tactics that may not be dazzling but are effective in implementing the strategy. In fact, you’re reading one of them right now! Let us show you how to successfully combine tradition with innovation for your marketing strategy.

Standard Practices

An important feature of an effective marketing strategy is a core set of practices that shape the marketing message. Here are three proven ones:
  • The business narrative. These are the stories that explain how your business is different from others of its kind. Rather than being about what you do, the narrative centers around the business values – what it stands for, what it does, and what it doesn’t do.
  • Influence through education. By using education as the primary means of influence, your business will become known as a place where problems are solved and options are presented.
  • Provide what others need. This does not mean just providing your product or service. It also means connecting others for mutual benefit, creating strategic partnerships, and being a mentor.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Q&A: I’ve read that communication preferences vary by generation. How does this apply to a marketing strategy?

There are generational preferences in communication styles. Applied to marketing, this means that you will need to use a variety of communication techniques to reach your customers and prospects. The techniques may be similar (sending a printed newsletter through the mail versus sending a digital version by email) but one should not supplant the other. Baby boomer and Gen X frames of reference are more influenced by traditional media such as print and television, while Gen Y’s frame of reference is technology.

Here is a brief recap of communication preferences by generation:

Traditionalists (1925-1945):
face to face communication, formal letters




Baby Boomers (1946-1964):
telephone, face-to-face, email, cell phones for talking



Gen X (1965-1978):
email, cell phone for text, blogging, instant message



Gen Y (1979-1997):
text, online social networks, email (but only for work or school), instant message

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Google Places

It has been said that people love to buy but hate to be sold. Since most potential customers go to the Internet to find a business, a referral or a review when they are in the market for a product or service, make it easy for them to find you. Besides having your own website, consider registering your business on Google Places.

Google gathers information on businesses from various public sources for its search response. Google Places allows business owners to review and update the information so it appears correctly on Google Maps and associated Google search and display sites.

Here are a few of the benefits of Google Places:

  • It’s one more way to improve your SEO
  • As the Internet continues to replace the phone book when people are looking for a product or service, Google Places will make sure you appear in their search.
  • If optimized correctly, your Google Places listing makes your business show up on the first Google page.
  • Mobile users can find you more easily.
  • It’s a great place to have your customers write a review.
To get started, go to www.google.com/places and click “Google Places Help.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Order Out of Chaos: Defining Your Marketing Strategy

What strategy are you using to promote your business or organization? Do you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices – brochures and sales collateral, newsletters and product bulletins, direct mail, email newsletters, desktop websites, mobile websites, blogging, Google Places, search engine optimization, keyword search, content creation, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter? Have you been jumping from one method to another based on whatever is getting the most buzz in the business magazines you read?

Paraphrasing Nike: Pick one and just do it.

Your first task is to develop an effective marketing strategy that creatively combines traditional and new media to foster engagement and interaction with customers and prospects. So let’s start with some basic definitions:
  • Traditional media refers to ways used to reach customers and prospects pre-Internet: publications (magazines, newspapers), broadcast (radio and television), and print (sales collateral, like brochures and sell sheets, newsletters, direct mail marketing).
  • New media refers to digital technologies that can be interactive (websites, email), social media where people share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives (blogs, podcasts, message boards), and sharing sites (YouTube, Flickr and social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook).
For most small businesses and organizations, the high cost of publications and broadcast media, as well as their overly broad reach, make them unsuitable as marketing tools. The foundation of an effective marketing strategy for most businesses and organizations is printed material: sales collateral, newsletters and direct mail.
  • Sales collateral is a broad term for printed material that supports the sales process by helping people with the buying decision. Brochures, flyers, sell sheets, product information cards, posters and white papers are all examples of sales collateral. Well designed sales collateral (text enhanced withphotographs, specifications, charts, tables, diagrams and testimonials) will enhance reader comprehension and retention, build the seller’s credibility and serve as a tangible reminder after a sales call.
  • Newsletters are an effective way to communicate regularly with customers, keeping them informed and providing educational material of interest. That’s exactly why we publish CreativeBrief – to remind you that we’re here for you and to provide valuable and useful information for you. Because it is printed and mailed, you have something tangible that can be put aside for later reading if desired.
  • Direct mail marketing is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity due in part to people being overwhelmed by the volume of email, the backlash against spam, and the fact that direct mail drives traffic to websites. Recognizing this, the USPS launched a direct mail program that offers a very low postage rate (as low as 14.5 cents per piece) for a large size self-mailer sent to all the businesses and residences in an entire carrier route. If you aren’t familiar with this program and you’d like to explore whether it could be effective for your business, contact Brigid at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com.

The foundation of an effective marketing strategy is still print – printed sales collateral, a newsletter distributed monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, and use of direct mail marketing to build awareness, introduce products and services and direct customers and prospects to your website. Now it’s time to integrate new media into the strategy with two websites – one desktop and one mobile.

All businesses – large and small, high tech and low tech – need a website, because today, that is how people search for businesses when they are ready to buy. A website also allows the business to stand out from the competition – especially if the site demonstrates expertise – and provides resources for present and future prospects. Mobile phones provide another way for businesses to communicate with their customers.

Currently there is a big push to have print and mobile work together. Printing a QR (Quick Response) code on sales collateral, a newsletter or a direct mail piece opens up a new dimension of customer communication. When scanned by a smart phone, a QR code can lead anywhere – to a website or video, a map, additional information, a coupon or product review or many other places. And if a business obtains the customer’s permission (i.e., opt-in), the business can send messages to the smart phone with special offers or contests, all designed to increase customer loyalty.

Let us help you implement your marketing strategy

For 17 years, we have been helping our customers communicate with their customers to build sales. We are positioned to help you integrate print with new media – desktop and mobile websites, QR codes and web-based promotions.

For more information or to get started, contact Brigid at (215) 923-2679 or brigid@creativecharacters.com. We may be using new methods to contact customers, but we haven’t changed our focus and reliance on solid design and sales fundamentals.