Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Convert Your Mailing List into a Useful Customer Database

I  see a lot of data on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Its become very clear that many companies have a mailing list but only some have a useful marketing database. Now, I realize there are instances where we are only supplied with a portion of information a company may have. However, given the amount of data that is turned over to us and the clean up that regularly needs to be performed, I do believe I see an accurate sample.

It has become clear that companies with a true marketing database always produce a more relevant communication piece than companies who simply haphazardly gather tidbits of data. In the end, some companies market, the rest just mail. 

Put yourself in your recipients shoes... would you rather receive a direct mail piece that speaks to you, containing information, offers, promotions, and products or services you like (or even love)?  Or a generic one-size-fits-all message geared at the heard? Today, widely available tools make collecting, maintaining and efficiently utilizing customer data painless and cost effective for any size business. Crafting a straight forward marketing message targeting customers reaps huge pay-offs. 

It is our experience, based on tracking metrics and analyzation, that direct mail campaigns from companies who spend the extra effort to maintain a database outperforms those who do not.

If you don't currently maintain a customer database there is good news, is its never too late to start! Start by thinking about your clients or customers. You want to be able to identify your relationship with them

Customer Database Basics 
Questions to help you create and maintain a useful customer database to maximize marketing communication and improve direct mail response rates.

Start by thinking about your clients or customers. You want to be able to identify your relationship with each of them. Use the following questions to begin brainstorming what pieces of data you may want to include in your customer database. 

  • Who is your customer? 
  • Why do this customer do business with you?
  • What types of products or services does this customer buy from you? Why? 
  • What vertical market is this customer in?
  • What markets does this customer service?
  • What type of customer are they? High profit or high volume? Are they quick pay? 

These are just a few data points which most businesses can easily identify and collect, converting a simple mailing list into a powerful marketing communication tool.  You can now identify and segment your customers into groups and create messages that speak to the most important or relevant issue for them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Designing a Company Logo: Guidelines for Creating a Custom Business Logo

Tips to guarantee you receive high-quality digital files of your company logo from the designer, and maintain file quality internally.

Your organization has probably already invested or will soon invest a substantial amount of money and time developing a corporate logo and identity. Yet, oddly enough, many companies and organizations never actually "get" a quality digital file of the logo to use for marketing collateral or other needs.

As designers, we face this situation often, and it is perplexing. If a client can't provide high-quality artwork for a project, we need to re-create it. Spending time re-creating a logo is a waste of time and costs you money. It’s never too late for your organization to get and keep high-quality digital files of your business logo.

Why is a high quality digital file of a custom logo important?
Knowing what to ask your logo designer for and how to maintain high-quality digital files will help your company:
  • Reduce project time – Speed things up! Eliminate unnecessary time spent re-creating artwork by providing high-quality digital artwork with a project.
  • Cut costs – Once is enough...Stop paying over and over for something that’s already been done.
  • Maintain brand consistency – Ever played telephone? The need to re-create your logo for every project can cause its appearance to morph over time due to design inconsistencies.
What is the best file format for a logo?
There are two types of file formats best suited for logo artwork.

1. Vector Based File -
A vector file is the best file type for reproduction of a logo because it can be enlarged to virtually any size, and still retains crisp, high-resolution quality with no distortion.

Two common types of vector files are:
  • Encapsulated PostScript or EPS file - EPS files will have the extension:
  • Adobe Illustrator or AI File – AI files will have the extension:

2. Pixel or Bitmap Based File -
If your logo has photographic images in it, or you can't get a vector file, the next-best file format for a logo is a pixel-based file. Since these formats are pixel-based images, get a large file size to ensure the best reproduction quality.

Two common types of pixel-based files are:
  • Adobe Photoshop or PSD file - PSD files will have the extension:
  • Tagged Image or TIFF file - TIFF files will have the extension:

What are other tips to make the most of a logo?
  • Transparent BackgroundIt's best to get your logo on a transparent background; this allows it to be dropped onto a colored background without having a white "box" appearing around the logo.
  • Reverse VersionAsk your designer to create a reverse version of your logo; this allows it to reproduce well on a dark or black background.
  • Keep it SafeGive copies of the digital file to key employees who may work with outside suppliers to produce printed and electronic marketing materials, signage, or advertising.
A high quality digital file of your company logo will guarantee your organization works more efficiently, saving time and money.

Remember: Better quality artwork yields a more professional image.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Direct Marketing – When and How Often?

Clients often ask, “How often should I send direct marketing?” The question they really should be asking is: “What will it take for the right people to respond?”

Generally, it takes 7 “touches” for your message to resonate in the mind of your customers. That “touch” can happen in the form of word-of-mouth, multi-media, advertising or in-person contact. Direct mail is one of the best ways to be sure that the right marketing communication gets to the right person. 

For retail marketing and quick sales, “showering” potential customers can work. Multiple direct mail and email marketing bursts, sent a couple of days apart, can generate buzz, create a sense of urgency and build fast sales. Personalizing your messages – based on your individual customer’s preferences and past sales history – will make your offer more valuable to each customer. Backed up with POP, social media and advertising, this concentrated approach can succeed for short-term promotions.

For most B2B marketing and large ticket sales the marketing goal is to put your company FIRST in each customer’s mind. Since the “ripe” time for a customer’s purchase is often unpredictable, a steady, consistent stream of direct marketing would be the best approach. For instance, sending a direct mailing every 3 or 5 weeks allows your direct mail piece to arrive at different points in each customer’s monthly work cycle. Personalizing direct mail messages – based on what you know about a customer’s individual needs and industry demands – will make your message more significant.  

When designing subsequent direct marketing offers, stay committed to the theme but allow offers and graphics to be tweaked based on campaign performance and client responses. Engaging in a regular schedule of direct marketing communication will pay off; clients who do so generally see an 8-10% increase in response rate over the course of the year.

Regardless of individual marketing challenges, presenting useful information and attractive offers will always resonate with customers for both short-term and long-term marketing promotions and campaigns.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Getting Started with Variable Data Print

When you’re just getting started, variable data printing can be a bit mysterious. However, understanding just a few basic points can make the whole picture clear.

Think of variable data printing as Microsoft® Word Mail Merge…on steroids. You may be familiar with this basic functionality of swapping out names and addresses within a letter, envelope, or other document, based on a separate data file. Now, add to this the ability to
also swap out pictures, illustrations, color schemes, and large blocks of text and you've got variable data printing.

The Database – As the term variable data implies, you’ll need a database to start with. A database has the capability to store all the information you want to be “variable”.

  • For pictures or illustrations only the proper file name needs to be referenced in the database.
  • Remember, each datapoint – corresponding to a variable item – should only have ONE column. Do not combine similar data such as first and last name or the entire address (city, state and zip code) in one single column.
  • Data can be in any standard database or spreadsheet format, although Microsoft® Excel is most common.

The Design – When designing your document, you’ll want to place the variable data correctly by clearly identifying the appropriate column headings in-between carrots:

The Structure – Short blocks of text and copy can be contained in the database. Complete paragraphs or larger text blocks should be provided as a separate PDF, .jpg or .eps. Pictures or illustration can be included by specifying the name of the file in the database, .

We’re always available to help our clients with additional advice and support, and your market and print service provider should be able to do the same.

Understanding these basics will get you on the road to begin transforming your static business and marketing collateral into dynamic documents that speak to the individual. Relevant communication is crucial in connecting and growing our relationships with prospects and clients.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

5 Compelling Uses of QR Codes

Description of where to use QR codes and how they make traditional media interactive
Google Favorite Places – Google uses QR codes on displays at the many businesses and locations included in their “Favorite Places” program. When you scan one of these QR codes, you'll quickly be taken to that business' mobile Place Page on Google, where you can read or post reviews, find a coupon or “Star” the business to check it out later.

Trade Shows – At this year’s Dscoop convention, interlinkONE, a Massachusetts-based software company, creatively used QR codes to drive traffic to their booth. In addition to print items, the code appeared on floor decals, candy wrappers, and staff shirts.

Print Marketing – Our clients have been adding QR codes to direct mail and catalog pages, leading to landing pages or video product demos.

Bands – Columbia Records promotes the band, Passion Pit, using QR codes on a multitude of print items, including beer coasters. The bar-to-band link takes the viewer to video and audio of the band.

Retail – At Norma Kamali in New York, QR codes are used throughout the store. These codes link to further information, including videos with celebrities wearing the same clothing. This information follows the shopper, even after they’ve left the store.

Don’t miss out! QR codes give your mobile customers and prospects an easy way to connect with you from any printed item.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Are you Ready for Print-on-Demand?

Would the option to print on demand through an online storefront be of help to you or your organization? In many instances the answer is “yes”, but you may not realize how it would help. Answering a few simple questions can start to make the solution clear.

First, consider the structure of your organization. Do you have a distributed sales force or sell your product and/or service through dealers and distributors? If the answer is “yes!” you are a prime candidate to leverage Web-to-Print technology. By posting sales, marketing, and business communications into a Print-on-Demand storefront, you can empower your sales reps in the field, dealers, and distributors to order materials as they are demanded.

Next, ask yourself if your marketing department is struggling to keep up with requests? Or are you struggling to provide some of the down and dirty versioning and customizing of sales and marketing materials? If so, put another check in the “yes” column. End users are able to personalize and customize materials once in the Print-on-Demand storefront. Brand protection and legal compliance are no problem with the ability to control the degree of customization, as well as the capability to approve modifications before the job prints.

Or, are the same materials routinely ordered… such as stationary, letterhead, business cards, envelopes, forms? If so, you again fall into the “yes” category. By posting these items in a Print-on-Demand storefront, you now have the ability to order what you need when you need it...print it on-demand!

Finally, do you routinely revise documents, forcing you to throw out wasted, obsolete materials? Many companies find themselves answering “yes”. Choosing to print on demand eliminates waste, and provides speedy updates to documents. Print the most current version, in only the quantity you need, when you need it. Just-in-time inventory!

These are just a few basics when deciding if printing materials on demand is the right fit for you and your organization. Answering “yes” to any of the above questions is a good indication that this technology will have a positive impact on you and your organization.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Customer Service with Comfort

Really great customer service begins with focusing on our customer’s comfort.
  • Cookies on Airlines – Here in Wisconsin, Midwest Express became the preferred airline, based largely on a reputation of comfort and good service. Even after being acquired by Republic Airways, and changing the name to “Frontier”, the famous, comforting in-flight cookies are staying. This simple item builds comfort, translating to trust.
  • Follow-Up – After a recent surgery, the hospital staff called to make sure that we arrived home safely and that we had all of the instructions, etc. They gave us a phone number to call 24/7, should we have any additional questions. This added comfort boosted our trust.
  • Coffee Sleeves – Coffee shops provide “sleeves” to insulate hands and provide added comfort for their customers. As a bonus, they provide space for additional advertising, and actually save money for the coffee shop.
  • Friendly Approach – My senior-citizen mother drives 30 minutes to get to her Toyota dealership for periodic check-ups. When she arrives, the staff greets her at the door, holds the door open for her, offers coffee, donuts, reading material, and a very comfortable lounge. They finish on time, and help her to her car. For my mother, this relaxing, pleasant experience makes the drive negligible.
What are you doing to comfort your customers?