Monday, November 28, 2022

Need Marketing Direction? Make a Plan!

The New Year is almost upon us! What good things are you expecting in 2023? What are your marketing priorities? Where are you looking to make the most profound investments? Aren’t sure? It’s time to create a marketing plan! Here are seven actionable steps you can take.

1. Write a business summary.

Before creating a marketing plan, you need a firm grasp of your overall business. Write a business summary that includes critical information about your company: what you do, what makes you unique, and what makes you successful.

2. Identify your marketing goals.

What are your marketing goals for the coming year? Do you want to add a new marketing channel? Expand into new markets? Deepen your knowledge of your customers? Once you know where you are going, you can start developing a plan.

3. Select your target markets.

Analyze your customer base and refine your understanding as much as possible. What do your best customers look like? Where do you find them? How do they behave?

4. Pick your channels.

With a clear understanding of your customer base and marketing goals, ask yourself which channels will most effectively reach them. The options are exploding—exciting new direct mail formats, easier ways to send personalized and triggered postcards and emails, and exciting print-to-mobile tools. Identify which channels your audience is most likely to respond to.

5. Set your goals.

With all of this in front of you, start planning different campaigns to achieve those goals. Take a long-term perspective, and don’t try to achieve them simultaneously. Are you looking to deepen engagement? Create a drip campaign that includes direct mail, email, and social media. Want to boost sales? Take small steps that build on one another to give you the best chance of success.

6. Set a realistic budget.

What are your estimated expenses to reach your goals? Come up with a breakdown of these expenses over the next 12 months. This could include data analysis, production and mailing, and design costs. Assess your strategies based on what you have to spend.

7. Set a timeline.

Set a realistic timeline for each campaign. Work backward from when the campaign will launch and build in some buffer (because things never go exactly as expected). Creating small, achievable mini-goals will help keep you motivated and moving in the right direction.

Getting started with creating a marketing plan is easy. Use one of the many free online templates or contact one of our business development experts to guide you. Whichever route you take, the most crucial step is just getting started!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Are You Suffering from Marketing-Assumption-itis?

When you design your next direct mail or email campaign, how are you determining how to target your messaging? Are you using data on what your customers look like and how they behave? Or are you making assumptions about them? Too often, we do the latter without realizing it.

Here's an example: According to a study from Pew Research, Millennials spend twice as much on self-care as their older counterparts ("The Millennial Obsession with Self-Care"). The study finds that Millennials, both men and women, are looking to take better care of themselves physically and emotionally. This is a massive opportunity for the self-care industry, yet the imagery, messaging, and experience of self-care marketing focus primarily on one market segment: women. In doing so, brands miss the potential offered by men.

Another example comes from the gaming industry. We tend to think of the best audience for gaming as younger male consumers squirreled away in their parent's basement. In reality, more than one-quarter of all gamers are over 45 years old, and half are women.

The lesson is clear. When it comes to messaging and audience selection, your marketing efforts should be based on research, not "common knowledge."

When sending out data-driven messaging, businesses can get great results. For inspiration, we can look to AngelSoft. Historically, most children were raised in traditional two-parent homes. Today, however, nearly one-quarter of children are raised in single-parent homes, and a growing percentage are fathers. In response, AngelSoft has released a heart-warming commercial about a single father raising his daughter — from standing in line for the women's room cradling his infant daughter because there is no changing table in the men's room to, years later, teaching his now teenage daughter to shave her legs by shaving his own. AngelSoft's customer base is changing, and the company's marketing efforts reflect that.

Are you missing marketing opportunities due to stereotyping? Before deploying your next print or digital campaign, analyze your messaging and challenge any stereotypes you might uncover. Don't leave opportunities — or assumptions — on the table!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Do You Know These 8 Envelope Types?

If you think an envelope is an envelope, you might want to think again. There are many types of envelopes, and each has different benefits for different purposes. Some open on the short side of the envelope, for example, while others open on the long side. Each type has different lengths of flaps and placement of seams that impact its functionality, such as how the envelopes run through inserters or how graphics can be placed.

How familiar are you with these eight envelope types? Are there some that you hadn’t thought would benefit your next direct mailing?

Straight: Offers a clean design with a straight-edge flap. Because the flap takes up minimal space, this style is preferred for mailings with graphics printed across the back.

Commercial: Offers a bowed or contoured flap with angled shoulders and a scooped throat. This style is designed for optimal performance in high-speed inserters.

Bankers: Sports a longer, bowed, or contoured flap that makes the envelope look more elegant. Bankers’ envelopes are preferred for financial or higher-end applications.

Wallet: Straight flap envelopes have an extra-long, deep flap and wide gummed area that cannot be steamed open easily. This allows them to provide extra security.

Reverse: Designed with the flap at the bottom instead of the top. Reverse envelopes work well for mailers intended to be flipped once the text is read on the front.

Remittance: Designed with a deep, straight flap that extends almost to the bottom of the envelope. Flaps can be printed on the inside and used to provide additional information or serve as forms.

Bangtail: Offers an extra “tail” flap that doubles as a printed form. The flap can be torn off, filled out, and placed back into an envelope to be mailed back.

Baronial or Announcement: This distinctive style is used for social stationery, such as announcements and greeting cards.

Your campaign benefits from the right envelope, just like any other element. Know your envelopes! It matters.

Source: This list is taken from Tension Envelope’s e-book, “Envelope Basics.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

5 Steps for Finding the Right Target Market

You can have the best product in the world, but your results will be disappointing if you don't market it to the right audience. Even if you have tons of data on your customers, how do you know they are your best target audience or that you are crafting messaging relevant to them? Get to know them!

Here are a few steps you can take:

1. Profile your existing customer base. Start by identifying your best customers—those who are the most profitable or purchase the most often. Once you've done that, you can create profiles of what those customer groupings look like. What demographics do they share? What type of products do they buy? Are there patterns in when they shop and in what channels? Once you have this information, you know better how to create relevant messaging; equally importantly, you can go out and find more prospects like them. 

2. Make the effort to meet them in person. One of the best ways to get to know— really get to know—  your best target markets is to interact with your customers directly. This can be done through efforts such as in-store events, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews. This research will give you insights you can't get from demographic data alone. For example, you might discover that your target market is interested in your product for reasons you didn't expect or that your product appeals to a different age group than you thought.

3. Ask questions in print or email surveys. If you want to know what your customers think, ask them. If you're unsure what to ask, start with basic demographic questions like age, gender, income, and education level. You can also ask about their hobbies, interests, and spending habits. Don't forget to ask why they like your product or what needs they have that your product meets. This feedback will help you craft messaging that resonates with them more profoundly. It's also essential to query your customers' media consumption habits. This will help you determine which channels to use and when. Be sure to give them an incentive in exchange for providing this personal information.

4. Look at your direct competitors. Who are your competitors targeting? What tactics are they using? What is their messaging like? You can learn a lot from your competition, so don't be afraid to get nosy.

5. Analyze your web traffic. Analyze your website traffic to see who's visiting your site. Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to see who's visiting and where they are coming from. This will give you even deeper insights into the demographics, psychographics, and behaviors of different customer groups.

Keep in mind that your "best customer" isn't static. As your business grows and changes, so will your target audience. Keep asking questions and making adjustments to your marketing strategy as needed.

Need help? Let's talk!


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

How to Use Storytelling in Your Marketing


Guess what? Storytelling isn't just for movies, books, and TV shows. It's a powerful tool in marketing, too. When buyers feel drawn to your story, they become more connected to your brand and are more likely to buy. Here are three ways you can incorporate storytelling into your printed pieces.

1. Tell a story with images. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and with the right image, you can tell a powerful story instantly. For example, ads for Heinz Hot Ketchup show a French fry with a burning tail. Whole Foods Market advertises a picture of a decadent English muffin with collard greens, roasted vegetables, egg, and bacon, with the tagline, "How does your breakfast stack up to this?" Images tell stories; it only takes one when it's the right image.

2. Tap the power of print enhancements.

Print enhancement techniques like die-cuts, embossing, and soft-touch coating can tell stories, too. Tell the story of the softness of a baby's cheek with a matte coating. If you sell custom windows, use die cuts in your brochures to show the home's interior, featuring windows with beautiful mullions through which you can see a lovely backyard. When the brochure is opened, the reader sees that the mullions are die-cut into the page, allowing them to "see through" the windows as if they were there.

3. Fonts and color

In their essence, fonts are little pictures and can tell stories, too. For example, create a headline in the font "Knuckle Sandwich," and you'll instantly tell the story of a gritty, edgy brand. Use "Feminine Handwriting," and the reader will hear "I feel pretty!" before they read a single word. The same goes for color. Incorporate yellow and mint green elements to create a positive, uplifting mood. Use splashes of vivid orange to say excitement! Color is powerful!

What story do you want to tell? Use these design elements to enhance your brand story or even tell it themselves.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Incredible Customer Experience Isn’t Just Important — It’s Profitable

Looking around, most companies are making the same claims these days. They offer great products at great prices. What sets you apart? This is where customer experience (CX) becomes so important. Customer experience is more than customer service. It’s everything about how people experience your company, from the direct mail pieces you send to how you handle returns.

Here are three reasons investing in great CX is so important:[1]

  • Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren’t.
  • One in four customers is willing to pay 10% more for a great customer experience.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of customers expect companies to understand (and, by extension, respond to) their needs.

How do you create excellent CX? There is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, here are five steps you can take in your marketing efforts.

1. Make your phone number, email address, and web address easily visible on your marketing materials. Don’t make customers look for it! Ensure that your company representatives are friendly and welcoming.

2. Make your customers’ lives easier through education. Offer seminars and webinars. Tutorials. Newsletters with information valuable and relevant to your customers’ lives. Make them look forward to hearing from you.

3. Don’t send irrelevant communications. Ensure that every communication you send, whether a postcard, an email, or a text, is relevant. If you sell sporting goods, don’t promote football equipment to people who only buy volleyball gear.

4. Create customer appreciation events. Invite your customers to special appreciation events, and don’t try to sell them anything during the event. Make them feel special—just say thank you!

5. Solicit their feedback. “How can we do better?” Not only does this help you improve your communications and inform your business strategy, but asking their opinion makes them feel valued. Then act on what you learn.

Not every company has great CX, but every company can create it, starting with relevant, proactive communication. How can we help?


[1] “9 Customer Experience Trends & Stats That'll Define the Next Year” (HubSpot April 18, 2022)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

5 Tips for Logo Redesign

Did you notice when Angie's List dropped the "list" and "e" from its name and became simply Angi? After 20 years as America's "go-to" place for finding home contractors, the company spent millions on a rebrand, including a new logo. With the company offering more than just lists, it was time. The new logo reflects that.

Does your logo need a refresh? If so, here are five factors to consider when undergoing a redesign.

1. Is it easy to recognize? Make sure that your logo is easily recognizable. When possible, retain enough elements from the previous logo to help people make the transition. Unless your logo is horrible to begin with, think "update," not "overhaul."

2. Does it represent who you are? Just because something looks cool doesn't mean it's a good logo. Make sure the new look represents the heart of your brand. If you are a summer fun destination in Ohio, make your water graphics look like rivers or lakes, not ocean beaches.

3. Can it be resized easily? Your logo will be used across multiple channels, so think about a design that can be easily scaled across print and digital, regardless of size. Your logo may appear on media as large as a billboard or as small as a mobile screen. Simple, vector-based logos can easily be adapted without losing quality.

4. Can it accommodate different color spaces? Your logo will appear in many places, and not all of them in color. Consider how your logo will appear in (or create secondary versions for) two-color or black-and-white.

5. Is it up to date? No matter how professionally designed, logos age. Color trends change. Typefaces go in and out of style. Keep your logo fresh and relevant. Research current logo trends and avoid those that say, "so last decade."

If it's time to refresh your logo, you may not want to go it alone. Let our talented graphic design staff give you some support!

Need Marketing Direction? Make a Plan!

The New Year is almost upon us! What good things are you expecting in 2023? What are your marketing priorities? Where are you looking to mak...