We Want Your Vote!

26 10 2012

With Election Day fast approaching, why not take advantage of the voting spirit by creating a few fun polls for your business? Here are some clever ways to gather opinions and reward your loyal customers in the process:
<ul><li>Ask customers to vote for their favorite products or services. Send a postcard campaign or statement stuffer with a web link to an online ballot. Distribute campaign flyers. Post information on your Facebook page, website, or other social media channels. And have a ballot box at the main desk of your business, where customers can vote by paper ballot if they prefer.</li>
<li>Encourage customers to learn more about your products by creating a game-like quest. Provide clues through various communication channels (email, direct mail, social media), and reward those who complete the quest.</li>
<li>Inspire participation by offering a grand prize drawing, as well as a guaranteed coupon or smaller thank-you to all who vote.</li>
<li>Create an “Election Day” sale to encourage extra traffic, and consider offering an additional discount to any customers who come from the polls wearing an “I voted” sticker.</li>
<li>If you’re creating an in-house promotion, remember that food is always a crowd pleaser. Consider offering cookies, cake, donuts, or simply coffee, hot chocolate, or cider.</li>
<li>Provide a follow-up marketing campaign to announce the winner, and consider running an exclusive special on that particular product or service following the election.</li>
<li>Maximize your promotions by offering combo specials that include your most popular products with lesser-known or newer products.</li></ul>
Our creative experts are here anytime you need help spreading the word about an upcoming sale or promotion. Give us a call today!

Why You Need to Use Pattern Interrupt in Your Marketing

23 10 2012

From the time you wake up until the moment you close your eyes, you’re bombarded with marketing messages. You may even have dreams of the ads running in your sleep!

Most of the messages you see during the day just blend together without much notice. Many are of the “me too” variety. Either the owner or the advertiser is practicing the lazy marketing technique of simply copying a competitor’s ad with very little real change. Maybe the original ad had some creativity to it, but now it’s lost in a sea of similarity.

For your ad to have any chance of succeeding, you must use “pattern interrupt marketing” as one component of your message.

What’s pattern interrupt marketing? As the name implies, it’s marketing that stops a prospect in their tracks and engages them. Your message must be able to capture a prospect’s attention if it’s to have any chance of being noticed.

Imagine you’re driving down a street looking for a place to eat lunch. The street is packed with similar looking eateries on both your left and right. The buildings all look the same and have signs with business names on them. The business owners have all copied each other in building design, colors, and layout so much that it’s very difficult to tell them apart. But one smart business owner has hired someone with a colorful costume and given them a professional-looking sign with delicious-looking food photos and a message that clearly states all the benefits of their restaurant; in addition, if you come in today, you’ll receive a great discount. The guy holding the sign interrupts your attention, and the offer lures you in to try the food.

That’s what pattern interrupt marketing is all about.

Now, you could try any number of gimmicks to grab a prospect’s attention, but there are only a few things that will truly capture their interest and hold it long enough for you to make an impression. Here are three steps to get you started:

  1. Make a list of problems your product or service can solve.
  2. Pick just one as the focal point for your marketing message.
  3. Think about the types of language and visual cues your customers would use to best understand this message.

With those elements in place, you can better plan your marketing.

Pattern interrupt marketing can be used in every type of business and in every type of marketing communication. Whether on a billboard, through direct mail, via email marketing, or even at a trade show, pattern interrupt marketing can be very effective. The goal is not only to capture the prospect’s attention by doing something different or unexpected but also to encourage them to take further steps with you once they’re engaged.

Pattern interrupt marketing is only the first step in a process, but in some ways, it’s the most important step. After all, if you can’t capture their attention, the rest won’t matter.

What Declining Sales Really Mean

19 10 2012

Many businesses are currently experiencing a decline in sales. Some owners and executives believe this is due to outside economic conditions. Although the economy may have some bearing, perhaps the real reasons for the decline are more fundamental issues that no one in the company wants to face. The economy has only masked the issues and helped sweep them under the rug.

Many in this predicament think, “If only we could increase sales, everything else would take care of itself.” Oftentimes, the declining sales pattern is not the real problem; it’s just a symptom of other underlying issues. Perhaps the issues are in management, staffing, or a lack of effective marketing and sales.

If your company is experiencing a sales slump, it may be time to do a little soul searching to find the real issues. If you decide to take this head on, here’s a four-step plan to help you lick the problems.

Step 1

What is Your Customer Hiding From You?

12 10 2012

In order to sell any kind of product or service, you first need to know the challenges your prospects face, so you can offer the best solution. On the surface, this seems like an easy problem to resolve. You send out a few surveys and questionnaires. You dig and do your research. You think you’ve found the answers. Yet when you build your pitch or presentation around what you think your prospect wants and needs, it falls flat.

Why? Because the prospect is hiding the truth from you.

It’s not done with malicious intent. They’re not even necessarily lying. They simply want to be liked and don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you things they think you wouldn’t like to hear. Also some prospects don’t really know what they want. Emailed and online surveys aren’t the best at this type of information gathering.

That’s the reason most surveys don’t reveal many helpful answers. The problem isn’t with the surveys themselves, but with the questions and how they’re presented. Most survey questions don’t get to the heart of the matter in order to pull out the answers you’re looking for.

What can you do about this? Pick up the phone!

The best way to get the answers you’re looking for is to call your prospects and engage them in a conversation. But before you do that (and if you don’t want the phone slammed in your ear), do your homework first.

The responses will only be as good as your questions. Your questions need to be open-ended. You must be able to tap into the emotional and/or logical reasons why a prospect would (or wouldn’t) buy your product or service. The more you’re able to get them to open up and give you honest answers, the closer you’ll get to the heart of what you’re looking for. Keep good notes on the data you gather, and review it so you can make the next call even better at intelligence gathering.

Start your call with a very brief description of why you’re calling, then quickly turn your attention to the prospect. Let them know you’re not trying to sell them anything (so it brings down the wall and barriers they automatically put up). State that you respect and value their opinion, which is why you chose them to call. Make them feel respected and special before you dive into your questions.

Once you have your answers, take the time to carefully review all the information. Look for common themes or threads in the answers. If you don’t find any, go back to your questions and reword them to get better answers. Yes, this takes real work. But the end result will be well worth your time. After you analyze the information, it will make your job of creating an irresistible offer that your prospects can’t refuse much easier.

Forget Me Not!

9 10 2012

Just because a customer buys from you a few times doesn’t mean they’ll immediately think of or even remember your business again the next time they need the kinds of products you sell. Here are a few ways to increase front-of-mind awareness for your company in the minds of consumers:

  • Educate your audience about the ways your products are better than the competition. Consider creating a comparison chart to make the differences stand out in people’s minds.
  • Send thank yous for past purchases, and offer future discounts or coupons that are too good to ignore. For example, one might read: “Use this coupon anytime during December to receive 50% off any single item!”
  • Encourage customers to reorder supplies before they run out. A reorder form placed near the bottom of each package you ship is one way to accomplish this. Periodic email reminders and promos based on past order history are another.
  • Provide knowledgeable tips, tricks, and other industry-related information in a newsletter or periodic mailer that will leave recipients asking for more.
  • Invite customers to open-house celebrations, hands-on training classes, or exclusive customer appreciation events.
  • Create a customer loyalty program that rewards visitors for repeat purchases.
  • Offer promotions or giveaway contests that spark interest in the products and services you sell.

Let us know if we can help you create direct mail pieces that will help ensure your business isn’t forgotten!

Promote Your Company’s “EST” Factor

5 10 2012

In today’s competitive marketplace, it’s important that you determine your company’s “est” — the differentiating factor that gives you a competitive edge. Whether your business strives to be the biggest, fastest, strongest, lowest, or oldest at something, the “est” factor will help you push to be the best and become the go-to business for that area of expertise.

Here are a few ways to find your “est”:

  • Ask your customers. The customer voice is a great way to pinpoint areas where your business truly shines. Encourage customer feedback through comment cards, surveys, testimonials, or simply by asking customers their opinions when you meet with them.
  • Identify and enhance your strengths to add greater value to your business. For example, if your business is known for the fastest delivery services in town, you may consider opening a second location, adding additional delivery drivers, or upgrading your computer system to ensure you continue providing the fastest services possible.
  • Accept your weaknesses, and don’t become discouraged by areas where your business falls a little short. For example, if your prices aren’t the lowest, you might say, “We may not have the lowest prices in town, but we offer the longest warranty in the industry to provide greater value for your dollar.”

If you’d like help spreading the word about your “est” factor, we’d love to help. Our professional team can help create some of the greatEST marketing materials with the fastEST service you’ve ever seen!

Printing Is a Responsible Choice

2 10 2012

In lieu of a “Think before you print” email tagline, we encourage you to consider adding something like this to your emails:

“It’s OK to print responsibly. Not using paper in order to save trees is comparable to not eating salad in order to ‘save’ vegetables. Managed timberlands are similar to agricultural crops which provide clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, as well as millions of jobs nationwide.”

While there are many misconceptions about the paper and printing industries, we proudly stand behind them both, and we encourage you to check out these resources to learn more about why printing is a responsible choice: