Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?


Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.


Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!


1. Take part in local events.


Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.


Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!


2. Create customized stickers or labels.


It's not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!


Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.


3. Start a simple rewards system.


One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offering current customers a loyalty incentive.


If you have repeat customers or need subscription/service renewals to succeed, you can print loyalty punch cards, start a digital point-tracking system, or mail coupons to customers who make a baseline purchase with your business.


4. Offer demonstrations.


Life is more fun when you try new things.


If you wanted to learn yoga, woodworking, or the violin, would you learn by watching or by trying? Participation is an essential way to engage the body, mind, and emotions of your prospects.


Brainstorm ways you can combine learning and doing through presentations. Whether it's giving samples, making online teaching videos, or offering live demonstrations at an industry event, engage your customers by getting them involved.


5. Launch cross promotions.


Is there some way you can build rapport between your business and another firm?


Work with another entrepreneur to offer giveaways, contests, or product discounts. During one holiday, GameStop and PayLess shoes partnered on a cross-promotional campaign. Shoppers at the video game retailer received register coupons for the shoe store, while shoppers at PayLess got discount coupons for GameStop. Because many of their stores are in close proximity, it was a winning strategy for both retailers. Cross promotions can include joint mailings, coupon partnerships, shared booth space, or promoting each other through social media. 


6. Spread the word.


Got flyers? Door hangers and sell sheets? Looking to share the love? Go classic and canvas your area.


Pound the pavement and leave your print materials on porches, doorknobs, windows, cars, and more. Leave your business cards on restaurant tables, at coffee shops, in libraries, or even on mirrors. If you're feeling brave, do some cold calling after you canvas and ask if you can share some follow up info.


7. Perfect your pitch.


What do you sell? What problem can you solve? If you can't explain yourself in a single sentence, then you have a problem.


Like a great campaign slogan, an elevator pitch should summarize your business, product, or service in a concise, convincing fashion. YOU are your best advertisement, so have a short, convincing statement ready to introduce your business to new customers or colleagues any moment the opportunity is at hand!


A Building Block for the Future


Most of these tactics are inexpensive, but they do take time and effort.


Remember, results won't come immediately, but boosting your name now can increase your revenue and enable you to cast a larger net in the future. Give us a call or visit our website to chat about affordable printed resources you can add to your offline marketing arsenal today.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

3 Reasons Direct Mail is Still Effective

Long before television and online marketing, direct mail ruled.


One of the most popular examples of direct mailing can be traced back to Sears in 1888. The company sent a printed mailer to potential customers advertising watches and jewelry. Not long after, the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog became extremely popular nationwide.


Today direct mail has received a bit of a bad rap. The term "junk mail" isn't exactly a compliment! Some refer to direct mail as an "old" form of advertising, thinking of direct mail as antiquated or off-target.


But is that really the case?


The fact is, many companies do use direct marketing. According to a 2015 study by the Data & Marketing Association, 57 percent of total mail volume was comprised of direct mail pieces.


Response to direct mail continues to be strong every year, generating leads for businesses across a range of industries. Consider customer response rates from these common marketing methods:


  • 0.9% -- Online Displays

  • 0.6% -- Social Media

  • 0.5% -- Paid Search

  • 0.45% -- E-mail Marketing

  • 6.0% -- Direct Mail to Household

Why is Direct Mail Effective?


Direct mail is easy.


Direct mail marketing is helpful because it's easy to process.


In an age of digital noise, the tactile presence of a physical mailing is refreshing! One study found it takes 21% less cognitive effort to process physical mail, so your audience can digest it quickly and easily.


Direct mail is interesting.


The USPS found that 47% of Millennials check their physical mailbox each day, and many consider perusing mail a leisurely activity.


According to the Data & Marketing Association and the USPS, 18-21 year-olds' response rates to direct mail are as high as 12.4%. If you have a new business or are willing to offer coupon discounts, millennials are quite likely to respond!


Direct mail is memorable.


People who spend time with physical ads have a stronger emotional response and a better memory of this material.


Of course, a clever message goes a long way too! If you send direct mail, do your best to create colorful, memorable messages, like this:


IKEA wanted to feature the simplicity of its inexpensive furniture so they engineered a 3D postcard. When customers "opened" the postcard, this flat mailing turned into a replica of the LACK side table, available for under $10 at IKEA.


The postcard perfectly demonstrated one of IKEA's clever design concepts – minimalist furniture that ships flat but pops to life upon arrival. IKEA's postcard allowed users to experience the simple assembly of the LACK table, which left a deep, memorable impression.


Go Face-to-Face Through Distinct Direct Mail


Whether you send mass e-mails, many people will toss your message without reading it.


But if you send direct mail, some will offer you one-on-one attention they wouldn't give to any other medium. Paul Entin, owner of New York City-based EPR marketing, said he uses direct mail because it stands tall in a digital generation:


"Except for the many catalogs that clog our mailboxes between Halloween and Christmas, most of us receive very little snail mail, certainly far less than in years past," Entin said. "This means your direct mailer has a far greater chance to stand out from the rest of the mail and get noticed."


If you need help creating the perfect direct mail piece that will stand out, we can help you every step of the way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Drive Fresh Traffic for Your Business

A new era in business is bringing fresh flavor to Kohl's.


As traditional retailers struggle to keep their doors open, Kohl's executives are trying something radically different: a grocery partnership with Aldi. In March of 2018, the department store announced it would team up with Aldi to offer grocery sales in 10 of its locations.


"The key priority we have as a company is to drive traffic," Kevin Mansell, the chief executive of Kohl's said in a Thursday earnings call. "We're focused on traffic-driving retailers: Groceries, supermarket chains, they drive a lot of traffic. We're finally on a path where we're getting more [shoppers]."


In an age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar businesses have to hustle to make their company more relevant to consumers. Kohl's has experimented with lighter inventory, smaller stores, and more streamlined partnerships with companies like Under Armour and Amazon. Other retail giants have focused on adding communal spaces, demonstration areas, and workshops to encourage shoppers to linger.


Feed Your Funnel with New Customers


Ultimately, every successful business has to draw new business and keep customers coming back.


In your niche, there are probably several complementary businesses that don't compete directly with your product or service. Many of these companies have a base that could easily feed your sales funnel.


What are the mutually beneficial relationships you could build with other businesses?


While Aldi and Kohl's may seem like an unlikely match, their differences balance each other in a unique way, allowing Kohl's to gain additional foot traffic and offering Aldi to expand their market reach. For Aldi, renting space within Kohl's stores is cheaper than building stand-alone stores, and the partnership creates exposure for the lesser known German grocery chain.


As you consider new partnerships, it's also healthy to keep an eye on the competition, because an ideal way to grow your client base is to capture users who are already in need of services like yours! Examine the market tactics of businesses you compete with. What product are they offering? What are they doing that their customers like or dislike? How could you do it in a better, more personalized way?


Actively monitor what your competitors are doing in web design, service packages, or marketing techniques to feed your creativity or to counter punch with your own sales strategies. Looking to woo some of your competitor's customers? Tools like Mention or Reddit can help you monitor customer sentiment. Online reviews of your competitors are also a great place to see how your rivals are succeeding or where you can do better.


Position Yourself as the Answer


Whether you're wooing new customers or generating leads, it's important to give potential clients a good reason to try your services.


Think about what makes your ideal customer happy, sad, scared, or excited, and position yourself to bring the answers they need. "Identify those places where they are likely to be found (media, online, offline, mail, etc.) and then create messages for them," says Jeff Motter, CEO and chief marketing officer of Easy Bay Marketing Group. This may mean creating content via webinars or printed newsletters or physically networking through community events or industry conferences.


And don't forget to close the loop.


After your efforts to bring in business, remember to intentionally follow up with calls, e-mails, or samples. Many prospects and great conversations fall by the wayside because you fail to execute after a lead shows interest. As real estate sales guru Michelle Moore says, "Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

7 Banner Options to Raise Your Bottom Line

As a small business owner, you need ways to grab attention and look your best, and business signage is your foremost advertising tool.


For high-traffic areas custom printed vinyl banners are an excellent investment. In terms of cost, a vinyl banner is one of the most inexpensive, most high-impact marketing tools.


Vinyl banners are also versatile, great for large exteriors, point-of-sale kiosks, welcome centers, or interior displays.


Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business' profits. Pole banners can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.


Banner Inspiration


Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Here are several types of banners that can give you a killer first impression.


Ceiling Banners


Get your customers looking up by taking advantage of your unused ceiling space!


Use ceiling banners for event signage, special events, product features, or welcome messages. Suspended banners or circular hanging signs are eye-catching, easy to install, and extremely impressive.


Personalized Retractable Banners


Great for special events or pop-up displays, roll-up retractable banners include accompanying stand and carrying case for mobility.


Economical retractable banners are sleek, lightweight, and easy to transport.


Seasonal Business Banners


A fresh look conveys momentum and energy.


Print seasonal business banners to spice up any seasonal promotion, window display, or an exterior signpost.


Feather Flags


Want to get the job done with a contemporary edge?


Feather or teardrop flags are especially effective when you have limited space or want to enhance your exterior advertising.


The average storefront sign is seen 50-60 times per month by anyone living within five miles of your location. This could be responsible for as much as 85% of your monthly walk-in sales!


For street and sidewalk advertising, festivals, trade shows, and more, feather flags or waving swooper flags will catch attention and make your message shine.


Text or Graphic Only Banners


Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most effective, especially when you want to send a straightforward message that can be understood at a glance.


Try monochromatic backgrounds, all caps letters, or sharp contrasts between the images and elements in your banner.


Welcome Banners


Whether it's a grand opening, a sidewalk greeting, or a hallway banner, welcome banners are an appealing option to add a professional, hospitable touch.


Bright colors and branded designs are ideal for putting your best foot forward.


Sale Banners


When surveyed, 50% of in-store shoppers named "on-premise signage" as the reason for their visit or purchase.


People are always hunting for a deal, so shout it loud with banners that can't be overlooked.


Want to stretch your budget? Print generic banners (think "20% Off," "Free Shipping," "Featured Item," or "New Collection Clearance") so you can use them repeatedly. 


Banners can attract attention, create brand association, and set the tone for your business. Capitalize on this simple marketing tool and accelerate your sales today!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Small Business Twitter Tips for 2019

If you're a small business owner, you know time is limited.


Usually, your task list far outweighs your capacity for meeting your goals. When identifying social media objectives, you have to be clear on the what, why, and where you will engage.


How Can Twitter be a Valuable Resource for You?


Stats show that Twitter is still an effective way to connect with a broad range of customers.


Forty-seven percent of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit that company's website, and 75% of companies with an online presence are now using Twitter for marketing. Twitter's own study found that Twitter users, compared to the general online population, were more likely to discover or try new things and were more receptive of change. Twitter can help you reach broader audiences and engage with a generation that values interaction and experience.


As you evaluate your Twitter marketing in 2019, be clear about your goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Offer customer support or increase online sales? Also, evaluate what kind of Twitter voice you want to have. Some Twitter accounts exist to respond to customer complaints while others seek a playful or promotional tone. Find a persona and stick with it to build trust and continuity with readers.


Twitter Metrics That Matter


Next, take a peek at these performance metrics as you consider how to engage:


Post Native Media


Twitter favors posts that are uploaded to its own platform more than sharing from another platform, so it's always better to upload something directly.


Uploaded photos and videos will receive a larger preview treatment than external links.


Use Video Frequently


Video Tweets are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos and three times more likely to be Retweeted than GIFs.


Studies found that regardless of length, in-feed video ads were effective in introducing products, creating buzz, or communicating a brand message.


Get Eyes on You


Want people to Tweet more about your brand or product?


Add a branded generic business hashtag to your bio and share it in all your print and digital marketing. Pin upcoming events to the top of your page, tag other businesses or customers when you post, or consider giving people discounts when they make a reservation or win a special trivia challenge through your feed.


Play With Words


Part of Twitter's appeal is that it's short and sweet.


Marketing hashtags are a punchy way to launch a campaign or to connect all other Tweets about your company or product (classics include #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin or the #WantAnR8" driving surprise days by Audi).


Hashtags give your Tweets context and give conversations longevity and momentum. Hashtags aren't case sensitive, but adding capital letters can make them easier to read, like "GoForGold" versus "goforgold." Short, distinct hashtags are more likely to get used. During recruitment season, colleges on Twitter may use the hashtag "#NSD2019" instead of this, "#NationalSigningDay2019."


Refresh and Repeat


Many users are on Twitter for quick bursts of time so even daily posts can be missed.


Don't be afraid to resource your material and Retweet the same material several times. You can change photos, captions, or the featured media but attach the same content several times over the course of your marketing schedule.


As you grow on Twitter, be sure to listen! Twitter offers a great platform to hear what customers are saying, to keep a pulse on industry opinion, or to network with other businesses. Some of these people may end up being your most valued customers or your next project partner!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

Ever feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? "It's impossible," you say. "I just don't have an eye for design."


There's hope for even you!


In today's generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you're creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.


1) Proximity


The main purpose of proximity is to organize.


When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.


When you're thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relationship, so items not related to each other should be spaced apart, while elements you want to connect should be grouped.


Don't be afraid of white space! Sprawling elements throughout a page to avoid white space will make a piece more visually challenging for your viewer to comprehend.


What to Avoid: Too many separate elements on a page, grouping unrelated items in proximity, sticking things in the corners or the middle to avoid empty space.


2) Contrast


Contrast is one of the best ways to add visual interest in your page.


Contrast excites the atmosphere, draws the eye, and clarifies communication. Contrast is nothing if not bold, so one goal of contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If fonts, colors, or outline borders are not the same, then make them extremely different: white on black, 24-point font above 12-point font, or neon shapes near pastel text boxes.


What to Avoid: Being wimpy, using similar typefaces, highlighting a non-focal element, creating unnecessary chaos on a page. 


3) Alignment


Alignment unifies a page and creates flow and personality.


Nothing should be placed on your page haphazardly. Every element you use should connect with other elements to create a clean, sophisticated look.  When items are aligned, the result is a stronger cohesive unit. Be conscious of where you place elements and align pieces in a page even when the two objects are physically far apart (like a top headline with the bottom footnote).


What to Avoid: Using multiple alignment styles (i.e. some center, others left) on one page or always defaulting to centered alignment.


4) Repetition


Repeating visual elements of design throughout a piece will bring consistency and strengthen the unity of your projects.


Repetition can be used with colors, fonts, bullets, graphics, borders, subheadings elements, or anything a reader will visually recognize. Repetition is a conscious effort to unify all parts of a design: elements repeating through various pages, colors displaying patterns, drop caps in lead paragraphs or sidebars in successive layouts.


What to Avoid: Making repetitive elements too subtle or infrequent, being haphazard rather than intentional, or repeating an element so often it breaks the flow or the document as a whole.


While design may not come naturally to you, everyone has room to grow. By using these four principles, your work will look more professional, unified, and interesting. And you will have more fun creating!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

From Tarzan's treehouse to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Disney's creative team has spent decades constructing fantasy lands depicted in Disney movies.


Bringing dreams to life is Disney's business, and its empire spans 11 theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of hotels, and many waterparks and restaurants that help guests experience the happiest place on Earth.


The dreamers, or "Imagineers" at Disney are the brains behind the vision. Peter Rummell, who served as chairman of the Imagineers for 12 years, said creativity doesn't just happen. It has to be engineered:


"It is a process and if you don't understand that and if you sit around and wait for the lightning bolt, you're not going to be very productive."


Walt Disney himself was a master of creative thinking and brainstorming. Not only was he talented in discovering ideas, he knew how to convert possibilities into reality. One associate said this about Disney:


"There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming to the meeting."


Disney's Strategic Brainstorming Techniques


Over time, Walt's team used his own attributes for guiding thoughts to build parallel thinking in groups, while at the same time generating concepts, critiquing ideas, and solving problems.


NLP expert Robert Dilts helped bring the technique to life, like this:


  • Four parts of a room were set up for different thinking methods: imagining, planning, critiquing, and for stepping outside the concept. Arranging a physical space for each mindset prepared teams to switch from one thinking mode to another.

  • Teams gathered with a target objective: an innovation to brainstorm, a problem to solve, or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced unhindered green light thinking, planners used red light critiques to define the how, the timeline, or the plan.

  • Meanwhile, critics and the concept overseers analyzed weaknesses of the plan, defining missing elements, gaps in the process, or obstacles to address.

Rotating between spaces allowed teams to transition from unhindered passion to logical plans. Impossible ideas weren't immediately squashed. And through this defined creative process, teams could generate solid creative ideas with an action plan to apply it. 


Unlock Creativity in Your Team


Though Peter Rummell has since moved on from the Imagineers, he says his time at Disney taught him three valuable lessons for guiding teams in creative thinking:


1. Entertain ideas from everyone.


"I think one of the major lessons I learned was that despite the hierarchy of an organization, an idea can come from anywhere."


Top leaders should be willing to listen and younger team members should be encouraged that everyone has a voice.


2. Build an eclectic team.


"An accountant sitting next to a poet is a really good idea," Rummell said.


High IQs are not pre-requisites to creative success. When teams are full of variety, often the least likely people can generate the best concepts. Varying skill sets help to energize the best ideas and to round out gaps in the plan.


3. Vet even the strangest ideas.


When Rummell's team was brainstorming waterpark ideas, they were totally stalled.


"We didn't want to do another Pirates of the Caribbean or some Caribbean island," Rummell said. "We were trying to figure out what would be fun or different."


Everything sounded silly until someone left for the bathroom and walked by a cubicle decorated in snowstorms. Though the idea of a freak Florida snowstorm sounded ridiculous, eventually the idea became "Blizzard Beach," the theme of an entire waterpark in Orlando.


Creativity doesn't just happen, so get resourceful and create some new brainstorming processes of your own. When you're ready to roll out new concepts, we'll help you bring them to life in print!