Monday, June 22, 2015

The Power of Personalization

Print marketing is still one of the best and most effective ways to connect with your target audience and create brand awareness on a large scale. For starters, print marketing is tangible -- you're giving a person something they can hold in their hands and, more importantly, something they can pass along to a friend or family member.

Despite the many benefits of print marketing as a medium, many people still seem to miss one of its most powerful and most natural tools: personalization. When you take a look at just how effective personalization can be, you'll be shocked you weren't embracing it in the past.

Personalization: By the Numbers

In 2012, the industry organization InfoTrends conducted a study on marketing communication. It revealed several interesting facts, all of which are important to know when planning your next marketing campaign. The good news is that print marketing is alive and well, even in an era where everyone carries a smartphone or other type of mobile device with them at all times.

The better news is that marketing materials featuring high levels of personalization yield a dramatically higher ROI over ones sent out in a uniform or more generic manner.

The InfoTrends survey covered more than 1,000 businesses in 10 industries. Nearly two thirds used personalization or segmentation techniques to increase response and conversion rates. One of the respondents who used personalized print materials exclusively experienced a response rate of around 6% and a conversion rate of over 16%. Compare this with the average 2% response rate more generic materials generate, and the power of personalization becomes abundantly clear.

Things get even more impressive when you combine personalization with other best practices of modern marketing, like combining print and digital to reach a wider audience. For example, the respondents who utilized print and e-mail materials with high levels of personalization reported a response rate of 7.6% and a conversion rate of over 18%.

Why Personalization Matters

When you personalize your marketing materials, you're taking that extra step to show your target audience how much you really care about them. Instead of addressing a direct mail brochure with the generic and calculated "Dear Sir or Madame," you can take advantage of the basic technique of including their name -- which, keep in mind, is information you already have if you're sending them something in the mail.

Believe it or not, this does go a long way. It instantly creates a much more organic connection with the person reading your materials and subconsciously separates your mailer from others that may not be personalized at all.

Personalized print marketing is also inherently more impressive than personalized digital materials of the same variety. Everyone has a computer, and they know how quickly you can change an e-mail to include a name. Changing a print mailer, however, takes a little more thought and effort (though not as much as you'd think). Your effort will definitely be appreciated by the recipient.

Not only is print marketing alive and well, but one of its most powerful assets is something many businesses aren't even using. Personalizing your print materials will go a long way toward creating a more meaningful and long-lasting connection with your target audience and increasing your ROI.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Learning to Dream Again

The next time you find yourself in the company of preschool-age children, ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Children are known for dreaming big. In a class of 20 students, you might find yourself surrounded by several future astronauts, firefighters, teachers, ballerinas, doctors, and scientists. Their little minds can be inspiring for us adults.

Children dream uninhibitedly. They dream about things the rest of us find unobtainable. Too often, we think about all the obstacles in our way and allow our minds to entertain the "what ifs," rather than the "why nots." As we mature, our goals need to be more realistic for our skills and abilities, but that doesn't mean we have to stop reaching for the stars.

We need to remember our childhood innocence when it comes to our dreams. It's the only way we'll ever accomplish all the things we're truly capable of achieving.

As Gloria Steinem says, "Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

No one ever made it to the top of their industry by limiting themselves on what they were capable of accomplishing. Instead, you need to imagine the heights your business might be able to reach if you allow yourself to really dream big.

Of course, as a professional, your dreaming must take a slightly more predictable path. You must not only have the end goal in mind, but you must also be able to determine what you need to do to reach the desired end result.

Identify what you'd like to accomplish professionally

These goals can look vastly different. If you're a small business owner, you might have a desired income you'd like to see from your business, or perhaps you want to have enough income to open another branch in a neighboring city. If you work for a company, maybe you want to reach the c-suite or gain the experience you need to start your own company. This is where you should be inspired by the dreams of those in the under age five crowd. Allow your mind to imagine where you'd like to be in 5, 10, or 20 years.

Outline a path you need to take to accomplish this goal

Once you know where you want to go, it's time to outline the steps needed to get there. This includes setting small and incremental goals throughout your journey. If you want to reach a new position within your company, consider what type of education and experience you'll need to obtain along the way. If you've started a business, learn about better business practices to bring in new customers and encourage them to stay. For example, set:

  • goals for identifying and appealing to your ideal customer audience

  • goals for improving the business website

  • goals for improving customer experience

  • goals for using inbound marketing and new digital marketing

  • goals for integrating digital marketing with traditional marketing practices

Once you know what you need to do to reach your goals, you'll be able to confidently set out on the path toward accomplishing them.

The path to success requires thinking outside the box and being willing to dream big. Children are excellent examples for us to think about what we might actually be capable of accomplishing if we don't get overwhelmed by the potential obstacles. Too often we limit ourselves unnecessarily. Take a lesson from the smallest members of society and learn how to dream unfettered. If you're interested in starting a new marketing campaign to help your business reach its goals, reach out to us today. We'd be happy to help you get started.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hopping Aboard the Bandwagon

The bandwagon effect is nothing new. Scientists have been amazed for decades by the propensity for people to follow the lead of others. It seems to dominate our lives in so many ways! We become more likely to buy products our friends buy, and we even find ourselves ascribing to the opinions and beliefs of those around us. This psychological phenomenon might be one of the most interesting and influential topics of study in the field of neuro-marketing.

An excellent example in the world of public opinion can be found in the Oxford Journals, dating back to 1977. This experiment used two groups of questionnaires to study participants. Each contained the same four questions, but one set of questions was accompanied by recent public poll results regarding answers to the question. The study found that those in blue collar trades seemed to react negatively in opinion and response rate to the addition of the polls, while white collar workers reacted positively in both of these areas.

The findings of this study have been cited numerous times and have been used as a foundation for subsequent studies on the notion of the bandwagon effect. A study as recent as 2013 sought to determine how influential the bandwagon effect is on voting. The study, published in the Journal of Psychology, found that the opinions and votes of participants were similarly impacted by the behavior of others.

Why do we care so much about what others say and think?

We all want to feel as though we're part of a group. Put yourself back in high school for a second. You walk into school, put your backpack in your locker, and likely begin to search for your friends. Whether a jock, a bookworm, or a rocker, everyone had their own clique. Even the 'outsiders' seemed to have their own group of like-minded people. As people, we enjoy feeling as though we're part of a greater society.

Our desire to be part of a group impacts everything from our shopping behavior to the social media platforms we join and the content we seek. It explains why that latest cat meme went viral and why various fads seem to arise and disappear overnight.

It can also be a powerful tool for marketers. When you harness the power of the bandwagon effect, you can create the recipe for a successful marketing plan or product launch.

Take social media, for example. These digital platforms are excellent for your customers to let their friends know they like your brand. People are more likely to be attracted to and follow brands their friends follow because of the bandwagon effect. When companies advertise who follows them on social media, it works to create a strong social media community where people regularly converse and engage with the brand. It can also help to encourage others to like the brand.

Similarly, people are far more inclined to try new products if they see others buying them. If you're running a sale, for example, indicating the percentage of your product that has been bought, particularly as the numbers get higher, can actually help drive new people to make a purchase.

As scientists have been telling us for decades, the bandwagon effect can be a powerful motivator for people interested in making a purchasing decision. Keep the power of groups in mind as you design your next marketing campaign and see how you can leverage this power yourself. Contact us today to get your new marketing campaign started.