Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5 Ways To Get People To Pay Attention to Your Content

When it comes to writing marketing content for a company, few things are more frustrating than working hard to develop pieces only to have them largely overlooked. We've all been there: you write something you think is fantastic and eagerly watch your site statistics, only to see your content fail to give you the expected boost.


Answer questions your customers actually have, rather than what you think they want to know

This is a common mistake. Many companies develop content based on what they find interesting rather than what their customers actually want to know. A great source of content ideas is your FAQ page and questions you've received through customer email. Also consider what customers ask you personally when they start working with your company or what people ask you when they learn what industry you work in.

Use humor

People are naturally drawn to what entertains them, so consider making a lighthearted joke, especially at the beginning of the piece. This will encourage people to read on to see what else you have to say. Once you hook the reader, you'll have a much easier time getting your point across.

Don't discount the value of social media

Many smaller companies tend to overlook social media, assuming that with their small size, it won't be worth the effort. Social media, however, is where the conversation takes place. Putting your content on social media is a fantastic way to attract some attention to new blog posts and articles. You should also include share buttons at the bottom of each article. This will make it easy for readers to share the piece on their own social media channels should they find it interesting or informative.

Make the content memorable

The easier it is for customers to remember key points from your content, the more likely they'll be to share it. There are several techniques you can use to enhance the memorability of your content. For example, studies have indicated that telling stories in your content makes it easier for people to remember your key facts. Try incorporating fun stories into some of your posts to entice readers to get to know you. You can also use classic techniques such as including shocking or attention-grabbing statistics in your titles and in the opening lines.


Say "thank you"

When was the last time you thanked your customers? People like being singled out, especially for a thank you. When customers feel appreciated, they're more likely to develop positive associations with your company and reciprocate by working to develop a relationship with you.

Keep these five tips in mind, and you'll have much greater success. If you're interested in kicking off your marketing campaign, give us a call today to find out how we can help you get started.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Marketing Lessons from Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein has taught generations of children lessons about life from his books of fun and goofy poems. People of all ages can appreciate his wit and what he has to say. As adults, it's easy to forget all those valuable words, but Shel Silverstein also has a number of lessons he can teach us about business and life. Here are four quotes from the famous poet that we should never forget as we begin to build and grow our businesses.


"Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."

This lesson can be very hard to remember in daily life. After all, most entrepreneurs have at least one force in their life telling them they're not going to succeed. Sometimes one of the most important lessons is learning to tune out the naysayers and finding the mental strength to succeed in the face of adversity. Form your dreams, identify your goals, and plot a way to get there.

"If the track is tough and the hill is rough, thinking - you can just ain't enough."

Forging your personal path is never easy. While most people intellectually understand there will be challenges, all too often, when these problems arise, they give up.

In business, you must accept the fact you'll face problems and that things won't always go according to plan. Sometimes the challenges will feel like too much. But if you have goals, you need the perseverance and strength to make it past the hurdles. Believing you can do so and determining the steps needed to succeed will give you the tools you need to continue along the path to your goals.

"If there is a book you want to read but isn't written yet, write it."

This quote applies to more than just books. It also applies to industries and businesses. If no one is fulfilling a particular niche and serving customers in a particular way, use that as your window of opportunity. The marketplace is extremely competitive. The companies that succeed are the ones that identify a need, determine a way to fill that hole, and then get their information in front of the necessary audience.

The idea of writing your own book also speaks to the importance of taking initiative. No matter what your position might be, finding ways to anticipate needs and then addressing those issues instead of waiting for someone else to notice the problem is an excellent way to get ahead and find both personal and company-wide success.

"Just 'cause somethin' ain't been done don't mean it can't be did."

This quote also speaks to the importance of taking risks and being willing to be the first one to take a chance. This might mean developing a new product or service to fill a certain niche, or taking a conventional industry and finding completely unique ways to deliver your products and services. No matter what might drive you, don't allow yourself to be limited by what others in the industry have done. Don't be afraid to blaze your own trail and see where the road takes you.

Shel Silverstein has words of wisdom for all of us. Keep these quotes in mind and use them for the motivation you need to move forward. If you need help developing your marketing plan, contact us. We'll be happy to offer guidance as you get started.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What We Can Learn From Children Learning to Play Together

Imagine a preschool classroom filled with three- and four-year-old kids, each eager to play with a certain toy firetruck. The disagreements over whose turn it is quickly draw the attention of the teacher, who is immediately inundated with different versions of the story. According to one student, it's her turn because one of the little boys in the class has been playing with it "all afternoon." The little boy counters with, "No, I haven't! And besides, you'll just break it anyway!"


The teacher sits down and attempts for the hundredth time to teach her students about the virtues of sharing. She explains that by sharing the toys, the children will be able to develop much more elaborate games and have a lot more fun. Playing together will give them a chance to explore new ideas, create new characters, and have all sorts of adventures with the firetruck. She is only partly successful.

In an effort to maintain the peace in the small classroom and reinforce her lesson, the teacher creates a behavior chart for playing with the favorite toy of the day. The chart describes, in preschool language, how the toy will be played with and when it needs to be passed to another student.

The students quickly learn that the teacher is right. When they share the toy together, they end up having much more fun. On those days when the students neglect their newly-found sharing skills, however, the chart provides a handy reference to help them get back on track.

How does this lesson in sharing apply to marketing?

Take the warring students and replace them with the sales and marketing departments at some companies. An estimated 87 percent of the words used by marketing and sales departments to describe each other are negative, yet when these two teams are aligned, they can accomplish so much more. Just like the more elaborate games of childhood, aligned sales and marketing teams can produce up to 20 percent more profit! When the teams are well-aligned, they maximize their lead cultivation and achieve a much higher conversion rate.

Using a written agreement to help align your teams

The teacher in our story discovered that while meetings and lessons helped to encourage the students to play together, the behavior chart gave them something to look back on as a reference when things went wrong. A similar chart (though more elaborate, of course) can help sales and marketing teams coexist more peacefully, too. Such a chart should define terms, behavior, and the steps each team will take in cultivating and contacting leads.

Clearly defining the roles and expectations of sales and marketing teams will help each understand better what role the other plays in generating leads. The teams will also stay on the same page about when a lead is sales ready and when information should be passed along. When the marketing team finds leads, they'll do a better job of passing along lead intelligence to the sales team, so the sales professionals know what contact the company has already had with this particular person. When salespeople receive a lead, they'll have clearly defined expectations of the type and amount of contact they should have with the lead.

Working together will enhance communication, improve understanding, and make it easier to stay on the same page. Enforcing this agreement with regular meetings to judge progress can ensure everyone remains satisfied.

Aligning sales and marketing teams can be a fantastic way to improve profits and brand representation. Just like children learning to share, showing employees the value of working together, while also having a common agreement to back up the lesson, can help improve performance for everyone.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

5 Tips for Developing Content That Will Resonate With Your Audience

When developing content for your website and marketing materials, you want to create pieces that will resonate with your audience. This will encourage them to read what you've produced, share it on social media and with friends, and -- most importantly -- remember what you said. Strong content will enhance brand loyalty and improve the success of your entire marketing campaign. Here are five tips to help you create more meaningful content.




Analyze your buyer personas

Buyer personas exist to give you insight into the people you're trying to reach, so use them to produce the best types of content. Gather information such as:
  • the challenges your customers are facing
  • circumstances that prevent them from buying
  • their budget
  • their goals

This type of information should give you clear guidelines about the kinds of content these people will pay attention to. If you don't know the answers to these questions, interview your existing customers and take surveys of your target population.

Look at what content gets the best responses

Take a look at your past content to see what people respond to most frequently. If you thought a topic was only mediocre but it managed to generate exceptional traffic and attention, you can feel pretty confident that it resonated with page viewers. Use past site data to plan future content on subjects that garner the most interest to keep visitors engaged. Create videos, experiment with different formats, or dive into hot topics from a completely new angle.

Examine multiple formats of content

Different formats, such as video, are increasingly catching steam. People enjoy watching videos to get up close and personal with the people they do business with at a company. Monitor your video views and see how well customers are responding to your productions. This will give you insight into how often you should work to produce this type of content.

Offer genuine value

Some companies get hesitant about producing real value for their readers. They imagine that if they give away all their 'secrets' no one will need to hire them. No blog, however well-written, ever made anyone a complete expert on a new industry.

Instead of worrying about revealing too much, work to offer real value to your readers so they can see the expertise you have to offer. It's this kind of genuine value -- not wishy-washy, bland content that teaches people nothing -- that will turn readers into followers and followers into customers. The more value you can offer readers, the more they'll come back to read your posts again. Don't be afraid to take a stand, form opinions on subjects in your industry, and produce content that's worth reading.

Understand your customers' current situations

When your company appears on top of the issues facing your customers and sensitive to their problems, people will naturally gravitate toward what you have to say. If you acknowledge and address news in your industry, your customers will appreciate that you're keeping them informed. Look for ways to keep the timing of your blog posts relevant. For example, in the winter, a plumber might write blog posts about how to keep pipes from freezing, what to do if they do freeze, and similar bits of information that show an understanding of the struggles customers are facing right now.

Producing meaningful content is key to keeping your website visitors engaged and continually returning to your blog. These five ideas will give you the tools you need to produce posts and information that will resonate with your readers and inform them, which can improve your conversion rates and the success of your marketing campaigns.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What We Can Learn From Writing Holiday Wish Lists

As the holiday season approaches, children across the country will sit down with paper and crayon in hand to spell out exactly what they hope to get during the upcoming festivities. This year, Frozen-themed toys are likely to top many lists, as are the latest video games, some popular action figures, and other toys that have been flying off the shelves. Many children will compare notes with their friends at school to get ideas about what to ask for and to see what's already on other people's lists.





This sharing of ideas is an example of the psychological phenomenon known as 'the bandwagon effect.' From the activity of writing a Christmas list itself, to the toys that appear on it, children are influenced by what their peers are doing. This principle impacts all of us, no matter how old we are or what the subject matter is. Regardless of how independent we'd like to think we are, the truth is we're all heavily influenced by what our peers are doing.

According to the bandwagon effect, we're all more likely to do something, buy something, or use something if others are doing it. We all desire to be part of a larger group, which leads us to follow others to the latest trends and fads. People become more willing to try new products or services when they find that others are trying those products and are happy with the results.

For marketing, this can be valuable because it means your products and services can grow organically. Learning how to capitalize on this effect will give you the tools you need to make your products seem appealing to the crowd, which will enhance the bandwagon effect and your potential for word-of-mouth advertising.

How to use the bandwagon effect to your advantage

The bandwagon effect is all about convincing people that using your products and services will make them part of an established group of satisfied customers. There are several ways you can leverage this type of advertising.
  • Use customer reviews prominently on your website to show your page visitors that others have been pleased with your products.
  • Use images of satisfied customers on your website.
  • Encourage followers on social media to post pictures and stories of themselves using your products and services and the successes they have had.
You can also use the bandwagon effect to create feelings of belonging among your users. Start by creating spaces for your customers to speak to each other and compare their use of your products and services. Customers can discuss how to grow their own businesses while taking advantage of what your company has to offer. This will encourage people to feel as though they're part of a special group, encouraging more feelings of loyalty. Facebook groups, user forums, and even just the comment threads on your company blog are good places to begin these conversations.

Helping your customers feel as though using your products and services introduces them to a special group can improve brand loyalty and encourage people to continue to use your products. Just like children designing their holiday wish lists, customers enjoy comparing notes with their friends and feeling as though they belong to a particular group. Use the above tips to encourage these types of emotions in your customers, and you should see growth in your brand.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How Football Can Help Us Build and Grow a Business

With football season now in full swing, fans across the country are watching their favorite teams fight for a shot at postseason glory. Football is a sport that requires athletic prowess, analytical skill, and a considerable amount of strategizing. As such, there are many lessons we can apply to the business world. Here are just a few to consider.


Study the competition

Football teams are known for their intense studies of opposing teams. Coaches and players alike will spend hours analyzing footage from past games to get a feel for how their opponents work together, what plays they go to frequently, and what strengths and weaknesses they bring to the field. They use this information to develop their own strategies and to see where their opportunities lie.

As business leaders, we should do the same. It's not enough to just occasionally glance at the websites of the competition. Instead, we should be analyzing their moves, seeing what works for them and what doesn't, discovering where they're failing their clients, and finding whatever else we can glean to help us compete more effectively. This insight will give us the tools we need to make our own businesses stronger, as we compete for customers and leads.

Build a balanced team

Successful football teams look for talented players in every position. Having four starting quarterbacks but no safeties will do a football team no good. The team needs to be balanced and account for every position. When games are starting, how often do we hear comments about how one team will be at a disadvantage because a particular player or two are out due to illness or injury?

The same principle applies to business. Successful companies account for every position, too. This includes:
  • leaders who can help the company see and attain its vision
  • financial experts who are good at accounting and planning budgets to help the organization make the most of its resources
  • marketing and sales professionals who excel at generating leads and bringing in new paying customers to help the business grow

 

Have a good leader

On the football field, effective leaders are essential. The coaches are responsible for developing the playbook and strategizing what plays to use. A good coach can work magic with a mediocre team, while a bad coach can have a losing season even with the strongest of players. The quarterback is another key position. Quarterbacks are responsible for leading the team on the field, implementing the plays the coach dictates, and keeping the team working together.

In business, leaders are equally important. They must be able to see the company vision and guide those around them toward that outcome. Talents in strategizing, encouraging others, and working in
groups are all important for leaders. Cultivate these talents among your staff, especially those in leadership positions, to maximize the potential of your company.

When it comes to organizing a business, football has many lessons it can teach. Keep these lessons in mind as you tune into this season's games, and see just how much you end up learning.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Do You Know Who You're Talking To?

When you sit down to develop marketing materials, you know you're trying to reach potential customers. If you're unclear who that might be, however, you could find yourself wasting time, energy, and money. Taking the time to develop your official 'buyer persona' can make the task of figuring out how to reach these potential customers significantly easier.



What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is basically your ideal customer. It's a profile you develop based on the type of customer you're trying to attract. This profile includes information about gender, lifestyle, income level, where your ideal customers work, and what jobs they perform. It also contains critical information about what types of problems they face at work and how your company can solve them. A buyer persona might look something like this:

Marketing Mike is working to lead his marketing team for his small business. He's in his late 20s or early 30s and makes about $80,000 a year. Mike is struggling to make his superiors realize the importance of marketing because they're threatening budget cuts to his department.

For a company that focuses on helping clients maximize their marketing efforts while minimizing costs, this buyer persona could provide the critical insight they need to reach Mike and help solve his problem.


How do you develop your buyer personas?

Buyer personas provide the basis for all your marketing efforts, so it's critical to develop them on solid evidence and not just who you 'think' would be interested in your product or service. Begin by speaking with your existing customers. Get a feel for who they are and what has brought them to you. Complement this information with some research about the industry, the market, and who is typically using services like those you provide.

As you begin to compile these different sources of information, you should start to see some patterns develop. Use these patterns to begin grouping customers into a few different buyer personas. It's critical that you always seek to learn the 'why' behind the 'what' as you do your research. It's not enough to know that Marketing Mike wants to find a more affordable way to market. Understanding the motivation behind his drive is what will help you effectively reach him.

How to use your buyer personas

Once you've established your buyer personas, they'll run your marketing campaign. You'll develop content that speaks to the questions and problems your personas are facing. You'll create promotions and attention-grabbers oriented toward these specific people.

Buyer personas give you the additional edge of a targeted approach. No company can be everything for everyone. By developing buyer personas, you'll know exactly who you're trying to reach. You'll have a clear goal and a much better chance of reaching the people who are most likely to buy from you.

A successful marketing campaign means reaching your potential customers and making your company's value to them clear. That task becomes much easier when you know exactly who you're talking to. Develop your buyer personas to refine your marketing strategy, and you'll find your chances for a successful campaign improve drastically. If you're ready to start refining your marketing strategy, contact us today.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Are You Keeping the Ship Afloat . . . In Business?

We've all heard the expression "keeping the ship afloat." Anyone who has ever spent time on an actual ship knows that keeping a boat afloat and getting it to the intended destination is no easy task. Ships of all sizes require a considerable amount of work from everyone on board, and we in business can learn a great deal from these professionals when it comes to keeping our own companies running and moving in the right direction.


 

The importance of clear leadership

Ships are not democracies. A captain always leads the ship's crew and directs activities on board. Captains have considerable experience sailing ships and know what needs to be done to make the trip a success. Their ability to see the larger picture lets them direct their subordinates. They don't waffle in making decisions and have confidence in their abilities.

Like any good leader, however, a captain also willingly listen. Captains will take advice from their advisers in certain situations, and then balance the advice against their own experience. A good captain is able to take all of these sources of information and synthesize them to come up with the best possible solution.

As a business leader, you must be willing to do the same. Strong leaders unabashedly listen to those around them while also using their own experience and wisdom to make decisions for the benefit of the company. They don't shy away from making firm decisions, nor are they so concerned for their own power that they neglect to listen to what others have to offer.



Dedicated workers

Ships have always required dedicated crews to keep them afloat. The ships of old required crews of men who would paddle the ship or control the sails to keep the boat moving. Crews today might man the sails or the engine rooms. No matter where the crew is working, however, they have to be prepared to give the boat 100 percent.

The employees you select for your business must also be fully dedicated to your company. You should be able to trust that their skills and experience will help them move the organization forward. Running an efficient business means not having to look over everyone's shoulders, but instead establishing goals and having your employees work to meet you there.


Choosing a direction and sticking with it

When sailing a ship, the boat has a concrete destination. The captain and crew might have to adjust their route slightly if a storm comes up or another obstacle crosses their path, but they always know where they're going and how they plan to get there.

Your business must have the same foresight. Successful organizations don't set vague goals for success. Instead, they lay out concrete, measurable goals they want to achieve. When the goals of the organization are clearly laid out in front of everyone, it's much easier for each person to know exactly what they're supposed to do and how that fits in the broader picture.

Keeping a ship -- or business -- afloat requires strong leadership, a dedicated staff, and concrete goals. When you manage to keep these three ingredients in mind for your company, you'll be well on your way to success.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Have You found Your Position on the Field?



The 2002 movie The Rookie focuses on Jim Morris, a high school science teacher who managed to play major league baseball long after what most athletes would consider their prime. It's an entertaining feature and stays impressively close to the real-life story of Morris, who pitched in the major leagues from 1999 to 2000.

The audience learns at the opening of the movie that this father and high school science teacher had always loved the game of baseball. He had excelled at it during his youth, but due to various circumstances, he had to give it up before be was able to play in the big leagues.

While coaching his high school baseball team, Morris makes a bet with his team that if they can win their championship, he will try out once again for a professional team. During tryouts, he manages to amaze everyone with a fastball that falls just shy of 100 mph. This paves the way for his triumphs.

The Rookie is definitely a "feel good" movie. It's the type of film that motivates viewers to go out and follow their own dreams, too. In addition to lifting the audience's spirits, however, there's a very poignant business lesson that every entrepreneur and growing business should pay attention to.

If you have the talent, there is a place for you at the table.

The digital era has made it possible for just about anyone to start a business. This has led to considerable saturation and heavy competition. It has also resulted in specialization and businesses that are able to target very specific niches.

For a new entrepreneur just beginning a new business, this can seem considerably intimidating. How does one succeed in business when there seem to be too many companies within the industry already? It's entirely possible, provided you have the skills necessary and are ready to put in the work.

When Morris decided to pursue his dream of playing in the major leagues, he had enormous odds against him. For starters, he was significantly older than most of the other young men trying out. While they were coming to the game fresh out of high school or college, he had not played competitively himself in years. There were also numerous talented pitchers at the tryout and throughout the league. Despite these potential roadblocks, Morris had confidence that he deserved a position on the team, and he went out to earn that place. He was able to show the coaches that of all the talented pitchers available, he had something special to offer.

As a business professional, you must do the same thing. If you know you have the talent to run your business well, then focus on showing others what makes you so fantastic. There's no industry so saturated that a talented and strategic business professional cannot become a leader. The key to success is working hard, showing determination, and having confidence in your ability. It might be hard to break into an industry that already has ample talent, but when you have the perseverance necessary, it is possible.

For those interested in starting their own business, the digital era has been a blessing. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of existing online companies can also seem intimidating. Take some inspiration from Jim Morris of The Rookie, and remember that talent and hard work can make it possible for anyone to become a leader in any industry. If you're ready to start advertising your business, contact us today.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How do You Say No to a Client?

The idea of saying 'no' to a client can seem counter-intuitive. You're trying to grow your business, after all. But there are times when speaking up and turning down a request or deciding not to work on a particular project might be good for your company's long-term growth. The key is learning how to gauge these situations so you can successfully focus on growing your business without worrying about problematic clients or requests. Here are three situations where you should definitely consider the benefits of saying no.


You know the client's idea won't work

Clients come to you because they know you're an expert in your field. That means they trust you to know what you're talking about when it comes to the industry. Sometimes, having that knowledge means you have to point out to a client that their grand idea isn't as great as they thought.

Speaking up can be difficult, especially when dealing with a new client. You have to worry about feelings and trust. Consider the alternative, however. If you say nothing and complete the task precisely how the client requested it, and then the initiative falls flat on its face, who do you think the client will blame?

Protect everyone involved and carefully lay out your opinion and thoughts about a project before you even get started. Hopefully you and your client will be able to develop a plan that will be more likely to deliver results. In the process, you'll protect your reputation while also sharing your industry wisdom, and any client worth working with will respect you more for it.

What the client's asking for isn't worth the money

These types of traps are easy to fall into for inexperienced newcomers to any industry. Thinking that some work is better than no work, it's easy to get talked into taking projects that don't pay nearly enough for the time and effort needed to complete them. But instead of accepting this type of project, try to negotiate a better rate, outlining exactly how much time and effort the project will take. If the client refuses to accept a more reasonable wage, let them go. Chances are, your time will be much better spent working on building a stronger portfolio, marketing, or any other task that can help you find new, well-paying clients. Have respect for your industry and for your own work, and refuse to work with people who don't share that regard.

What they're asking for is outside your expertise

There's something to be said for expanding your skills and knowledge, but know when to say when. If a client asks for a job that's too far outside your area of expertise, resist the temptation to try 'winging it' for the extra money. Otherwise, you'll risk your professional reputation and the client's trust. Instead, work with the client to find a trustworthy professional who can work with you to complete the project for the client. The client will appreciate your help and honesty. As an added bonus, the professional you referred the client to will appreciate the extra business and (hopefully) reciprocate down the line.

When struggling to grow a business, nothing is more tempting than finding as many clients as possible. Often this type of desperation can lead to accepting work you'd otherwise never do or agree with. To keep your business moving forward, it's important to know how to correctly gauge and balance requests and be willing to sometimes say no. Use the above three instances as a starting guide to improve your client relationships and grow the business.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do You Make Magic Happen with Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams?

When your sales and marketing teams work together and are aligned in their goals and strategies, amazing things can happen for your organization. Studies have shown that companies with marketing teams and sales teams that work well together see as much as a 20 percent increase in annual revenue growth, and no one can afford to ignore that opportunity.

Unfortunately, obtaining that level of cooperation can be a challenge. With a few internal changes and a concentrated effort at aligning these two teams, however, it is possible to bring everyone together.


Begin by establishing definitions

Written, thought out definitions can be your savior. They give everyone a concrete idea to look back upon and reduce the potential for miscommunication or misperceptions. Here are a few definitions that everyone in marketing and sales should agree upon.

  • What is a quality lead?
  • What will sales do when they receive a quality lead?
  • What level of communication will be expected between the teams?
  • What are the goals for each team?
  • What is the process of handing off a lead from one team to the other, and when should it happen?

Once you've established these definitions, it will be easier to see what each group is working toward and when they're successful. You'll then be able to determine common goals, such as the number of leads expected from the marketing team and how the sales team will handle each opportunity.

Enhance visibility and transparency

When each team can clearly see what the other is working on and whether or not they're reaching their goals, they'll gain a better appreciation for the role both teams play in growing revenue for the company.

To improve visibility and transparency, communication and data are key. Like definitions, data gives concrete facts that everyone can consult and reduces the risk of misunderstandings and resentment. There are several ways to produce quality data reports:

  • Analyze where leads are coming from and how each marketing source is performing.
  • Have marketing team members include highlights of their interactions with leads (such as what content was downloaded), so the sales team can better capitalize on those opportunities.
  • Have sales team members report their communication efforts with leads and results.

Another important measure of visibility is simply to meet together. Gather your two teams together for regular meetings to discuss goals, outcomes, shortcomings, and plans for improvement. These meetings will help to clear the air and get everyone on the same page.

If your marketing and sales teams are too big, consider having occasional meetings with everyone and regular meetings with just marketing and sales leaders. During these meetings, the data will provide you with plenty of conversation topics. Celebrate each other's accomplishments, but if revenue goals are not being met, make sure both teams are transparent about their plans to make improvements.

Aligning your sales and marketing teams can have a wonderful impact on your bottom line, as well as the overall feelings of cooperation among your employees. With a potential 20 percent growth in revenue on the line, the effort is well worth it.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are you Making Friends and Finding Customers? Using the Same Process to Find Both

Young children tend to be relatively indiscriminate when it comes to making friends. As long as the other child is remotely interested in playing the game at hand, they tend to quickly run off together at a playground. As people grow up, however, they tend to become a little more selective when it comes to choosing friends. As we age, we look for people who share interests with us and possess a similar life outlook. When we find people who share these particular qualities, we begin to form relationships and bond with them.


Why we care about finding friends with similar interests

We seek friends who share our interests because these common touch points make it easy to find things to discuss with them. Friends who share our interests can anticipate our needs, answer our questions, and engage us in a way that people with whom we have nothing in common cannot.

Of course, these similarities don't have to revolve around particular activities. Sometimes, personality traits or beliefs will draw us to our closest friends. But in all cases, there's something we find engaging and significant in the other person when we begin to form a friendship.

Relationships with companies

For your company to be successful, you must build relationships with your potential customers. Understanding the dynamics of friendship can make this easier. Similar to the process of meeting new friends, your company must seek out potential customers who have particular characteristics that align with your buyer personas.

Just as a person seeks new friends by participating in activities they enjoy, you, must look for new potential customers in areas where those prospects tend to congregate. This might mean going to Twitter if you're trying to reach the college age crowd or to the daily commuter newspaper to reach middle-aged commuters on the metro. Knowing where to go to meet potential customers will make an enormous difference in the success of your marketing campaign.

Once a new customer has been introduced to your company, the relationship will need to be nurtured, so it can grow. There are a number of techniques you can use here. For example, providing a regular stream of content that offers value to customers will help them grow to trust your company to answer their questions and provide them with the services they require. Compelling content will also keep bringing customers back to your website or physical place of business. The more they return and are exposed to the company brand, the more willing they will be to do business with you.

You can also build relationships with customers by encouraging camaraderie among them. When customers feel like part of an exclusive group, they tend to have greater feelings of customer loyalty and are more likely to become repeat customers.

Building friendships typically involves finding people who share particular traits in common. You naturally use those traits to build a relationship you come to rely upon and trust. Similar techniques need to be used when building a customer base. Seek people with particular characteristics that match your identified consumer personas, then work to nurture those relationships and encourage people to return time and again. If you think of finding customers like finding friends, you should have great success building a marketing campaign.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Do You Write an Amazing, Effective, Brilliant Press Release?

What's the first tool you turn to when you need to get the word out about a new product, service, or innovation from your business? If you're like many small business owners, it's probably not the press release.

While some marketers have pushed the press release into the background -- throwing it under the bus in favor of newcomers like Twitter, Facebook, and banner ads -- this venerable marketing tool has definitely not outlived its usefulness. In fact, some even say that with today's focus on content, the press release is more valuable than ever... that is, as long as it's done right.

We've collected best practice tips and advice from the experts to help you take full advantage of this tried-and-true marketing strategy, so you can write a brilliant, amazing and -- most of all -- effective press release that'll get noticed.

Press Release 101

First, the basics: What, exactly, is a press release, and why does it exist? In a nutshell, a press release is a written update or summary, usually a couple hundred words in length, that alerts the media to news about your business. Whether you've created an innovative solution, are introducing a new service, are planning a big event, or have won an award, a press release supplies journalists with the information they'll need to write an article about you in the press.

At least that's the goal. Crafting your press release to appeal to journalists is key, as they're inundated with information every day. Here's how to make yours stand out.

Make it Accessible

Your press release should follow a standard format, which includes an attention-grabbing (but relevant and accurate) headline followed by a strong opening sentence that gets right to the point. Reporters are busy; assume that they'll probably only read the headline and first few sentences before scanning the rest of your text, and really make that prime (content) real estate work for you.

Within the first paragraph, think like a journalist and address the 5 "W's": who, what, where, when, and why. Use the remainder of the text to support the important information you just shared in the first few sentences.

You Invented a What?

Here's the fun part. Remember, what's huge news to you as a business owner (that new line of tires you're offering is amazing! Your lobby redesign is a stunning example of modern design!) may not be quite as huge to those who aren't directly connected to your company.

But don't get discouraged: Get creative. Find the angle that makes your information compelling -- the angle that makes your press release more like a news article. You need to demonstrate the value of your information; does it solve a problem for consumers? Will it fill a need in the community? Think like a reporter, and turn your press release into news that people want to read and can use.

Short and Sweet

Again, journalists don't have a lot of time to savor each and every word, so keep your message short and sweet. Be succinct; get to the point and say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Your press release should always fit on a single page.

Contact Information is Key

Whatever you do, don't forget to include your contact information! This vital data should go at the top of your document, where it's easy to find. Ensure that you're including the contact data for the person you want reporters to contact, as well. Maybe that's your secretary, your CEO, or a project manager. Whoever it is, ensure that those who want to contact your business can.

If you continually deliver direct, relevant press releases, your recipients will take notice. As your credibility increases, so will your chances of getting that valuable media attention.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How Babies Can Show You the Way to Find A Niche

Like so many other expectant couples, Sarah and Mark began researching baby products right away, as soon as they found out they were expecting baby number one. They listened to advice from friends and family, and they turned to the Internet to learn more about all the options and brands available to them.

Before long, they found themselves overwhelmed with choices: bouncy seats, swings, white noise machines, stuffed animals designed to mimic the mother's heart rate. Who knew there could be so many different products dedicated to helping babies sleep?





As the couple began to wade through all the options, Sarah quickly began to realize the marketing genius behind it all. She worked in advertising and had seen this phenomenon countless times in successful ad campaigns. The makers of these various sleep products had completed the trifecta.

They had:
  1. Identified a real problem
  2. Tapped into their potential customers' fears
  3. Designed a product to fill that niche in a slightly unique way
The importance of these three marketing points applies not only to companies designing sleep aids for babies, but to everyone who wants to design a successful product.

The keys to successful marketing

Successful marketing is built around identifying and addressing a key need for consumers. If your product looks interesting or does something really interesting, but customers don't see an immediate need for it, it probably won't sell very well. The key is to show customers exactly how your product addresses a specific need, even if the need is one they don't even know they have. Show customers how your product or service will make their lives easier, and they'll be far more likely to buy from you.

Capitalizing on what's different

When Sarah and Mark began researching baby products, they were amazed at the sheer number of products that were designed for sleeping. What perhaps is even more astounding, however, is that all the products were slightly different. No two products were exactly alike. Even if two white noise machines were standalone, plug-in devices, there were always some slight differences. Maybe one had an option to play a recording of a heartbeat, while another had more lullabies. Each manufacturer seemed to know exactly what made its product different from the competition, and that's what they capitalized on. One might focus on the benefits of having a newborn hear a gentle heartbeat while trying to sleep. Another might talk about how lullabies have been used for generations to soothe.

Like these manufacturers, your company must be able to show customers exactly how your products are different than the competition and why those differences make your products better. It does no good to duplicate a competitor's product, as that niche has already been filled. Think about what makes your product superior, and use that information to mold your marketing campaign.

Show the product providing the solution

Any product that's supposed to help babies sleep will include pictures of peacefully sleeping newborns right on the box. Such imagery expertly taps into the fears of potential customers (having a baby who won't sleep) and offers them a solution (use our product, and you'll have a peacefully resting infant). Your marketing campaigns should make it obvious to customers exactly how the product you're selling is going to help them.

Customers want to know exactly why they should do business with your company. Taking the time to develop a marketing plan that shows how your products address specific needs will pave the way to marketing success.

If you're looking to get started reworking your campaigns, give us a call today.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Watch What You Say, Especially in Advertising

The language you use in your marketing materials has more of an effect than you may realize. In fact, something as simple as your choice of pronouns can end up having an influence on your potential customers and the likelihood of them purchasing your products.

The value of the first person

In general, customers respond better to marketing materials, especially websites, that use the first person. This might include buttons that say "create my account" instead of "open an account," or "start my free trial" instead of "start your free trial." Making this simple transition can provide a noticeable jump in conversion rates and higher click throughs. Potential customers will spend more time on your website, learning about your company and what you have to offer. Even if they don't buy during their initial visit, they'll begin to feel familiar and connected with your brand, and therefore more likely to return to you when they are ready to buy.




Why do first person pronouns matter?

It all comes down to the power of psychology. Using first person pronouns helps potential customers feel as though they already "belong" -- that your company truly cares. That's something many companies struggle with when trying to reach customers online. It's much easier to develop close relationships when interacting with customers in person. However, switching to first-person pronouns on your website can help to produce this same kind of connection with customers whose only interactions with your brand take place online.

Making the switch

Effectively incorporating first person pronouns as a part of your call to action must be paired with quality marketing materials. You cannot simply switch your pronouns and expect to see a change if your copy still requires a considerable amount of work. Focus first on developing quality advertising, whether on your website, in social media, or on a traditional advertising platform. Once you have the ad itself set, rather than wrap up your message with a standard call to action, make the switch to the first person and prepare to be amazed at the influence such a simple change can have.

Developing a quality call to action can play an important part in finding new customers and encouraging those who see the advertisements to convert. Incorporating first person pronouns in that call to action can have a profound effect on your bottom line. If you're interested in learning more about these different advertising techniques, give us a call today. We'd be happy to help you get started growing and finding new customers. 

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What the Cola Wars Can Teach You About Marketing

Imagine you are walking down the street and see a group of people trying to get volunteers for a taste testing. In the cups before them they have two identical looking colas. They ask you to try both cups and pick which one you prefer. You will then need to try and identify which is Coke and which is Pepsi.

Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Do you think you would actually pick the flavor you usually drink (in other words, if you usually drink Coke, would you actually select that one as your favorite)?






Shockingly, many people don't. A number of different experiments have shown that many people are unable to correctly identify which cola is which. Even more surprisingly, in double blind taste tests, Pepsi often wins. It was this phenomenon that led to Pepsi steadily encroaching upon Coca-Cola's lead in the market in the 1970s and 1980s. In an effort to win back customers, Coca-Cola introduced the debacle that was New Coke. The new formula was quickly rejected by consumers, and the company worked to gain back the trust of their loyal customers.

Coca-Cola managed to transition out of their problematic campaign and back to their original formula, but this left them in an interesting position. They still used the original formula, which customers said they wanted, but this formula was the one that often lost to Pepsi in taste tests. In the twenty years since this fiasco, Coca-Cola still manages to lead the market and has been holding steady.

According to what many people view as the unwritten rules of marketing, this should not be happening. 

Coke has two major points working against it.
  1. Coke's formula is often deemed inferior by the consumer base in taste tests.
  2. The company completely alienated much of its loyal consumer base when it introduced New Coke without adequate market research.

Yet somehow Coca-Cola remains ahead.

Understanding why this happened and what companies today can learn from it can help you revolutionize your advertising campaigns.

Branding

Coca-Cola's advertising works to develop a certain mentality in us. When we see the brand's familiar script logo, we connect to the company's rich history. We see small children walking up to drugstore counters to buy a Coke. We also connect with the company's familiar advertising icons (its polar bears, for example) that are often featured in various advertising campaigns. Of course, Coca-Cola's friendship ads help us feel connected to other Coke drinkers around the globe, as well.

The key here is the brand. Coca-Cola is now an iconic brand. It has become such a staple in our culture that in some regions, the word 'Coke' is used to mean any soft drink.

So what are you doing to develop your brand? Creating and maintaining a strong brand should be at the center of all your marketing. Customers make decisions based on the subconscious associations they develop between a company's brand and its intangibles, including its quality, reliability, and history. Successful marketing helps to encourage positive associations in consumers' minds.

Thinking about the entire customer experience

Taste tests often show that Pepsi is the preferred brand, especially considering it is slightly sweeter. While this might be better for short-term tastes, many people drink soft drinks in vast quantities. They don't just drink a sip or two. They drink large bottles. Given the entire customer experience, it's easier to see why the slightly sweeter brand seems to be less preferred in the long run.

Branding and considering the entire customer experience have both had an enormous impact on Coca-Cola's ability to hold onto its lead over Pepsi, despite taste tests and marketing troubles. When you keep these criteria in mind for your company, you'll also be able to boost your success. So grab a soft drink, sit down, and work with us to begin determining how you can better market your company.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Are You Performing 'Checkups' on Your Marketing Campaigns?


Well baby checkups are one of the most important health precautions new parents can take to ensure their child is growing properly and remains in good health. At these appointments, vaccines are administered, growth charts are established, and the overall health of the child is monitored. Within the baby's first year, new parents will bring their child in several times, with fewer appointments after that as the child ages.

Even as a child grows older, however, regular checkups remain important. Schools will require them for sports teams. Camps and similar activities want records that show the child is up to date on their shots. And parents don't want to wait for something to go wrong before bringing their child to the doctor.

As a business marketer, you should think of your marketing campaigns like a child. Just as a child needs regular checkups, your company's marketing will benefit from regular 'checkups,' too, even if nothing is actually wrong.


Why are checkups so important?

Yearly physicals can help doctors and parents stay on top of a child's overall health, even if everything seems to be going well. Doctors can address minor annoyances that might not seem to warrant visits themselves, while also watching for potentially unnoticed signs of problems. This kind of preventive care allows doctors to keep their patients in better health.

It works the same way with your marketing campaigns. When things are going well, it's easy to put off running diagnostics and doing checkups. However, even if a campaign is bringing in customers, regular checkups are still important. Breaking down the campaign piece by piece and examining it can help you find potential weak spots where customers are slipping through the cracks, so you can repair those rough spots and improve your conversion rates.

Diagnostics and regular checkups can also provide a warning if something is about to go wrong. For example, if you find during your examination that most of your customers are coming through a particular channel, you can devote the time and energy necessary to make sure that channel continues running smoothly, while also investigating what might be holding up the others channels you've been targeting.

What should you look at?

At a child's physical, the doctor will listen to the heart and lungs, examine the nose, throat, and ears, and perhaps administer shots. A marketing campaign checkup should also look at the bare bones of the process. This includes looking at where customers are coming from and where they are being lost. Start by breaking down the sales funnel and determining who is leaving at each stage. See if any aspects of your marketing campaigns are attracting so few customers that they've become a waste of money. Determine if they can be improved or if they should just be scrapped.

Research what competitors are doing and try to improve even the strongest aspects of your campaigns. Survey customers to see what they wish could be improved about the process.

Yearly physicals are important for monitoring and improving the health of all children, and regular checkups are important for your marketing campaigns, too. Regularly get out your data, sit down with the marketing team, and break down campaigns step by step. Yes, such checkups will require time, but they can help make your campaigns more efficient, improve conversion rates, and help your company grow.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Are You Connecting With Your Customers?



No matter how great your product or service is -- and we know it's great --  customers still make buying decisions based on emotions. Sadly, most businesses don't strive to create that personal connection that influences buying behavior. When it comes to effective sales and marketing approaches, building relationships with customers is key. But how can you bring that all-important personal touch to every transaction and really make your business stand out?

These best practices will help you nurture personal connections with customers and build brand loyalty.

Ask First, Sell Later

Before you jump right into a standard sales pitch, take the time to ask your customers a few questions. More importantly, really listen to their answers. A bit of gentle probing will help your customer articulate exactly what it is they need. That, in turn, will allow you to clearly explain exactly how your products or services will solve their problems.

This way, you're not simply pushing something that they may or may not really need or want. Instead, you're taking their unique situation into account and providing a personalized, customized solution. At the same time, you're building rapport by creating a personal interaction that's so important.

Again, really listening is key. While your customer is speaking, stop what you're doing, take a breath, and simply listen. Don't attempt to think ahead and formulate answers before they're finished talking. Remain in the moment, and place your full attention on them. They'll notice the difference!

Quid Pro Quo

Keep on building that relationship by offering some personal information about yourself, too. Don't worry. You don't have to give out your Social Security number or your home address. In fact, avoid TMI at all costs. Sharing just a bit will humanize you to your customer. Talking about where you where born, a common hobby, a sports team, or even a recent movie you watched or book you read can make a real impact.

Scientific studies support this strategy. A 2009 study in the <em>Journal of Consumer Research</em> found that customers were more likely to buy -- and to be happy about their purchase -- when a salesperson shared personal info like a birthday or a birthplace. But don't fake it; the study also found that creating similarities where none really exist simply to make a connection tended to backfire, especially if the customer found out later that the salesperson wasn't being forthcoming.

Keep in Touch

Regular newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers -- with the added benefit of keeping your brand in the forefront of their minds. CIO recommends sending a newsletter at least 10 times per year. Make it simple to scan and read, with short, concise articles and a prominent table of contents so customers can find what they're looking for with ease. Focus on relevant content that your customers can use, making your newsletter something to look forward to.

That Personal Touch

Sending a handwritten note or postcard is a great way to ensure that your business stands out. Handwritten communication proves beyond a doubt that you've taken the time to sit down and make an effort, which makes your customer feel valued. Try to include personalized content in each note to really make an impact.

These simple steps will help you build that human connection that's so key to driving sales and customer loyalty.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Color in Print Advertising: Are You Sending Hidden Messages?

A printed marketing piece -- whether a brochure, flyer, catalog, or letter -- contains many design components. From margin size to font, use of white space to size and type of paper, the elements that go into a printed piece require much consideration. But when it comes to color, marketers all too often make choices based on personal preference, anecdotal evidence, or even hunches.

However, people actually devote time and effort to studying this stuff; researchers have uncovered a large body of quantitative data about the many ways color affects consumer behavior. Their findings can help inform color choices, so printed projects can better reach their intended audiences.


How Important is Color in Marketing?

In a nutshell: Very. A study by the Seoul International Color Expo found that almost 93 percent of consumers said visual experience is the most important factor when it comes to purchasing. Of these, almost 85 percent listed color as the major factor. Even more impressive, a report from the Institute for Color Research notes that most consumers make a judgement about a product within 90 seconds of first seeing it and that color accounts for 62 to 90 percent of their initial impression.

Color is also key in branding; a University of Maryland study found that using a consistent color palette increased brand recognition by a whopping 80 percent! Why? It's all about brain chemistry; our neurocircuitry is hard-wired to respond to color. Multiple studies indicate that color significantly improves mental processing, storage, and memory. And if you're still not convinced, consider that colorful ads are read 42 percent more often than black-and-white ads. Readers also tend to spend more than twice as long lingering on a colorful ad than on a black-and-white ad.

These numbers aren't exactly ambiguous -- color matters (a lot!) when it comes to marketing. But which colors are best?

Color Choice for Intended Results

While each individual reacts to colors in their own way, research indicates there are some common themes associated with colors. In fact, certain colors actually trigger biological responses, some of which improve attention and evoke emotions.

Red: Studies indicate that consumers tend to associate red with attention, vigilance, excitement, stimulation, and enhanced concentration. When products are featured on a red background, readers tend to have more positive thoughts about the product if specific descriptors are used, rather than creative or evocative language.

Blue: In contrast, readers preferred emotive, creative descriptions for products featured on a blue background. The cool color blue tends to elicit feelings of calm, safety, and openness, which can open the door to creative expression and exploration.

Yellow and Orange: Like red, these warm colors evoke feelings of excitement and attention. Orange tends to be associated with extroversion and energy, while yellow is often seen as optimistic and friendly.

Green and Brown: Both green and brown are associated with nature, making these colors effective for outdoorsy, rugged, or natural products or campaigns. In addition, green is associated with security, while brown is linked to seriousness.

Pink and Purple: Pink and purple both evoke associations with femininity and sophistication. Purple also connotes luxury and authenticity.

Black: For the ultimate in elegance and sophistication, nothing beats black. Glamor, power, dignity, and high-fashion are all evoked by the use of black.

White: As the absence -- or complete reflection -- of all colors, white evokes feelings of purity, simplicity, and cleanliness. It's also associated with happiness and peace.

When choosing colors or combinations for your print ads, keep these associations in mind. Select colors that support your messaging, rather than subconsciously undermining it.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Authenticity is the Key to Growing Your Business

When it comes to content marketing, you can try all the advertising, promotional, and PR ploys, but authenticity remains key. What is authenticity, you might ask? Simply stated, it means staying true to your business values: who you are, who you serve, and what you do. It may sound like a no-brainer, but very few companies are able to withstand internal pressures or external turbulence without losing their authenticity, according to a recent study.



How to apply authenticity

It all starts from the top, so set a vision that your company's personnel understand, embrace, and can implement. Then ensure that your "authenticity" motto aligns with your business goals, so you can clearly demonstrate to stakeholders such as investors and lenders that you have a growth strategy in place. Here's how to do that:

Be real

Sounds easy, right? But you'd be surprised how many companies lose their operational soul, delve into every sector deemed profitable, or adopt strategies that are counter to their mission. Define what your business does -- its mission and vision -- and stick to those core values.

Be charitable

Ever heard of something called "corporate social responsibility"? Well, CSR is one way an organization can give back to society-at-large and the communities in which it does business. Consumers love that, and it's a win-win for both the company and the aid recipients.

Be consistent

Don't give mixed messages that might lead to mistrust and confusion, both of which could make you lose customers down the road. Stay close to your values, mission, and vision as much as possible. For example, Apple's tagline is "Think different." All of the company's products and services somewhat match that slogan.

Back up what you say

To build trust and customer loyalty, your word must be credible. If you want to establish a solid reputation, make sure your company delivers on its operational commitments. For example, if "Maintain customer satisfaction 24/7" is your tagline, prove it to patrons in the way your handle things like complaints, merchandise delivery, and service quality.

Be responsive

The last thing you want is bad press, so don't let word-of-mouth tarnish the reputation you've spent years, if not decades, building and growing. Be quick in handling customer inquiries as well as questions from any other relevant party. Think regulators, business partners, activists, and consumer groups.

Respect privacy
Build solid privacy practices in the way your company operates, especially when it comes to archiving online data. In this age, everything business-related is kept on the "cloud," so make sure your cloud provider has implemented effective policies to safeguard your company's data, as well as your customers' private information.

Cultivate your client base

To grow your business, you must cultivate your clientele. These include your existing and past customers, along with a mishmash of interested parties ranging from prospects to social media followers. It's important to cultivate fans because, while some may be unable to buy your product or service today, they definitely will in the future. Plus, they'll encourage their friends to do the same.

Polish your reputation

Don't spare any opportunity to polish your reputation, establish authority in your industry, or seize on a good PR occasion. Being authentic also means burnishing that authenticity every now and then, so everyone will take notice, including your competitors.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What You Can Learn From McDonald's

Whether you love it or hate it, chances are at some point you've eaten at McDonald's. This corporation was a major cornerstone of the building of the fast food industry and is currently one of the symbols of the exportation of American culture around the world. Perhaps what is most remarkable about the success of the franchise is how unremarkable it is. The restaurants serve burgers and french fries. Yet somehow, out of all the burger joints available, the one started by the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, California, has gone on to serve roughly 68 million customers per day. How did this happen, and what can other business leaders learn from the company?


The history of McDonald's

McDonald's was first opened by the McDonald brothers in 1940. The little restaurant served burgers and placed an emphasis on quick service, putting the fast food principles developed by White Castle to work for themselves. By 1955, the restaurant became a corporation led by aggressive businessman, Ray Kroc. Kroc is credited with taking what was a successful burger joint to the popular glory it now enjoys. Kroc was known for his risk taking and lofty goals that allowed him to lead the corporation.

How Ray Kroc made a burger franchise into a global phenomenon

Professionals have spent years analyzing the business decisions of Ray Kroc. Few disagree that he was a genius, even though his feud with the McDonald brothers certainly earned him some animosity. Two particular traits tend to be cited by those exploring the reasons for the success of the corporation:
Attention to details
Passion for the business


Attention to details

Kroc did not allow a single detail of the burger making process to go unanalyzed. He even broke down the process of putting a patty and toppings into a bun to see if he could improve it. He ended up essentially creating an assembly line for putting together sandwiches, which lives on in McDonald's restaurants today. Kroc worked to develop teamwork within each restaurant and even constructed the customer service model that includes a smile when greeting patrons.

Other businesses should put the same consideration into their own companies. This doesn't mean micromanaging the company, but rather looking for ways to improve the company from the ground up.

As a business owner, explore each level of your business to see what can be improved. Research the consumer base and gain deeper insights into their challenges, so you can see how your company can better help them. Similarly, research customer experiences with the company to see how customer service can be improved. Look for answers to questions such as:

  • How long do customers have to wait for responses to inquires?
  • How efficient are customer service lines?
  • Do customers tend to get passed from person to person before receiving an answer?

Passion for the business

Kroc had a passion for building his business. He believed in dreaming big while always working to improve the business. In the world of making burgers, Kroc had a vision of turning McDonald's into a major franchise, and he worked to make that happen. He was also willing to take risks, which included betting on the likelihood of customers taking to the casual, fast-food model over the common sit down and more formal dining experience.

Try translating this passion into your own business. Your enthusiasm should be contagious. No one wants to support a company that doesn't have a clear vision, a plan for getting there, and a confident leader who seems capable of getting the business to these new heights. Use your industry knowledge and foresight to anticipate customer desires and needs, and show a true eagerness to encourage your entire team to work toward the shared vision.

Success isn't dependent on developing something extraordinary. Sometimes, it's leaders doing extraordinary things with ordinary ideas that can make a company great. If an empire can be built out of burgers and fries, the right business prowess can offer anyone the chance to have success. Keeping Ray Kroc's mantras of paying attention to details and a passion for business in mind can help you get on the path to bringing your own company to the top. If you're looking for ways to get started growing your company vision, contact us to see how we can help you get your message out.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Do You know the Top 5 Secrets of Successful Direct Mailers?



Savvy marketers know that direct mail offers a cost-effective and potentially profitable marketing method -- but in order to work, it must be done right! In fact, some of today's most innovative and creative advertising is sent through the mail, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

An effective direct-mail campaign can accomplish several goals, including:

  • Generating leads
  • Attracting new customers
  • Engaging with current customers
  • Expanding the reach of your brand
  • Producing profits


Here are the top five secrets of successful direct mailers. 

1. Focus, Focus, and More Focus

The success of any direct-mail campaign depends in large part on your audience, so you need to target the right people. A direct marketing rule known as the 60-30-10 states that 60% of success depends on the list, 30% depends on the offer you present, and 10% lies in creative elements. This highlights the importance of choosing the right list for your mailing.

If you're building your own list, start with your past and current customers. After all, they're a known factor -- they've purchased your product or service before, and you probably already have all of their info. (If you don't, now's the time to start collecting it!)

If you're purchasing or creating a list, consider your target audience's characteristics carefully. Who's your "ideal" customer? Look at demographics such as age, gender, locale, interests, buying patterns, climate, and leisure activities when compiling your mailing list. The more specifically targeted you can get, the better.

2. Keep it Updated

If it's been a while since you updated your customer data, a direct mailing is a good place to start. People change addresses more than you might think! Simply add a request for address corrections onto the label; the post office will send undeliverable mail back with the recipient's new address. It costs a bit more, but doing this at least once per year keeps your database updated.

3. Determine Your Goal

What do you want this particular campaign to achieve? Do you want to generate orders, build your brand, or produce leads? Setting a clear, measurable objective will help you drive the creative portion of your campaign. If your goals are too broad, your message is likely to be vague -- and less effective -- as well.

4. Grab their Attention

You only have a few seconds to grab their attention -- and if you don't, they won't even open the envelope. Take a look at your own mail; what are you most likely to open? Are you enticed by offers of "FREE MONEY!" or "AMAZING PRIZES!"? Probably not, and your audience is similarly jaded to cheesy, gimmicky headlines. Instead, pique their interest with a creative headline, interesting use of color, a hand-addressed envelope, or a bit of humor. In other words, go for elements that stereotypical "junk mail" doesn't have.

5. Develop a Relevant Offer

Now that you've gotten your customer to open the mail, present them with an offer that appeals to them. Here's where knowing your audience is key. Be brief, but include the information they need to make an on-the-spot decision. Why do they need your product? How will your service benefit them? Testimonials from satisfied customers can be powerful in this capacity.

Above all else, make it easy for them to respond. Provide multiple contact channels, including a website, email address, and phone number, but don't leave it at that. Always (ALWAYS) include a call to action. Tell them to call, email, or visit your website. Remember, if you don't tell them what you want them to do, they simply won't do it.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through direct mail please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are You Marketing Your Brand to Every Palate?

One of the joys of eating out as a family is the opportunity to let each person choose their own meal. For those with a bit more daring palate, that might mean trying something new. For others, it might mean ordering an old standby they know they'll enjoy. In either case, the person is more likely to enjoy their dining experience because they have the chance to order something that suits their own individual taste.




Distinct appetites and marketing

Just as every person has their own unique palate when it comes to food, your customers have their own appetites when it comes to how they want to receive your marketing messages. Keep this in mind as you plan your marketing campaigns. Work to tailor your message (and media) to address the needs of the various types of customers you're trying to reach.

Begin the process by developing several key buyer or customer personas. Your marketing campaigns should be carefully tailored to address the particular characteristics each of those personas share. For example, if you're marketing for a bank, the ads you use to reach consumers looking to save time checking their balances and making deposits might not be the same ads you would use to reach consumers searching for information on a reverse mortgage.

In the same way, try to tailor your campaigns to address the platforms your customers are using to access your information. Emphasize web links and clickable phone numbers on mobile websites, email addresses and phone numbers on standard web pages, and easy-to-remember URLs on print ads and brochures. For direct mail marketing, target your campaigns based on demographic information, such as income levels, number of children, location, and so on.

The more precise you can make your campaign, the more likely it will be to succeed. Customers appreciate it when they feel as though a marketing campaign addresses their unique concerns and problems. When customers see advertisements that don't apply to them, they tend to ignore them. In some cases, they may even get completely turned off by the company involved. Taking the time to tailor your ads to address the needs of different groups of potential customers is the best way to start gaining new customers and improve the visibility of your company.

Whether it's a night out with the family at a favorite restaurant or a marketing campaign aimed at gaining new customers, remembering the individual tastes of the people involved always makes good sense. A well planned, well focused, multifaceted campaign leaves customers feeling appreciated and increases the chance of reaching them when they're ready to buy. If you're ready to get started with your next marketing campaign, reach out to us to see how we can help you make it happen.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Do You Truly Know Your Target Market?



Are you preaching to the wrong choir?

While every marketer certainly has heard that basic rule of advertising -- know your target audience -- when was the last time you stopped to ask, "How well do I REALLY know my target audience?"

Say, for instance, you run a landscaping business. You know your target audience includes homeowners in your town. But if you take it a few steps further, you may just discover that your true target audience includes homeowners between the ages of 45 and 65 who live within a five-mile radius of the center of town and who have an annual income over $55,000. Sounds pretty specific, right?

The old adage "you can't please all the people all the time" certainly applies to your marketing efforts. Too many businesses try to be all things to all people, focusing on too broad a demographic. Narrowing your focus can result in a more effective use of your marketing dollars.

If you haven't taken this particular commandment to heart, it's likely affecting your marketing for the worse. Here's how to identify your true target audience.


Playing Detective

Get out your deerstalker. It's time to play Sherlock Holmes. Identifying your target audience involves a bit of research into demographics. Start by compiling a list of customer characteristics, including age, gender, location, income, education, occupation, ethnicity, martial status, and number of children. Now think about the last few purchases you made. How many of these factors influenced that purchase?

Narrow your focus down to the two most significant factors -- we'll call these your core factors -- and then choose up to two "secondary factors" to round out your market. You'll want to focus your research on these core and secondary factors to really get to know your target audience. Find out where they shop, what's important to them, which businesses they frequent (both online and off), and what problems they experience that your product or service can solve.

With those answers in place, it's time to delve deep into your audience and compile the data and information that make them tick. Resources for your research may include:
  • U.S. Census Bureau
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Insights (analytics available if your business page has at least 30 "likes")
  • Customer review sites (What other businesses are your customers patronizing on Yelp? What appeals to them?)
  • Your competitors' sites and reviews
  • Surveys or interviews with your current and past customers
  • Hosting small focus groups

Keep in mind that you're also looking for psychographic information, such as hobbies, interests, lifestyle, attitudes, and beliefs. While demographic information tells you who is most likely to buy your product or service, psychographic data tells you why they're interested.

When you're compiling the data, look for common threads that run among your customers. Do they work in similar industries or have similar hobbies? Does your product or service appeal to families with two kids or single professionals? Seeking out similarities makes it easier to target relevant customers.

Develop a Profile

Now that you've gathered your research, develop a "typical customer" profile. The goal? To create an in-depth picture of who your customer is. Your profile should contain both demographic information -- age, location, marital status, etc. -- and psychographic information -- values, attitudes, political leanings, hobbies, and the like.

Your profile will help you determine where, exactly, to find your target audience. Do they tend to live in a certain neighborhoods -- or certain streets in certain neighborhoods? Do they patronize certain businesses because those places reinforce their values? The better you understand your target customer, the more easily you can tailor your marketing materials to appeal to them.

Remember, your customer profile and your target audience aren't static. They'll evolve and change over time, and so should your approach. Determining your target audience isn't a once and done proposition; rather, it's an ongoing task that grows along with your business.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.