Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You, Sales, and Copy

Before we start, let's get one thing clear. This post is not about the copies we make for you on our copy machines. It's about the copy (text) that appears on your website and in your publications or promotional materials. No matter what type of business you run, copy affects every part of your business. It's the cornerstone of your marketing, and it affects the executive team, the HR department, and every aspect of the organization.



How?


To answer that question, let's first take a look at what copy is and what it is not. Copywriting is the act of producing written text (copy). It's not the same as "copyright," which refers to one's legal right to produce and publish content. Wikipedia explains copywriting as "writing copy (text) for the purpose of advertising or marketing. The copy is meant to persuade someone to buy a product or influence their beliefs."

That second part is especially important because it's the key differentiator between success and failure in copywriting. Weak copy will be thrown in the trash, while good copy will move the recipient to the desired action you want them to take. This applies not only to advertising and marketing but to any type of business and even personal communication.

Effective copywriting is sometimes referred to as "a salesman in print." It can be seen in brochures, billboards, websites, emails, TV and radio ads, catalogs, and many other places where the goal is to move someone to a desired action. That action might be purchasing your product, engaging with your company, or picking up the phone to request more information. In short, copywriting is all about making the recipient move and act.

Copywriting dates all the way back to the nineteenth century, when the newspaper industry was beginning to boom. At that time, copywriting referred to the words written by journalist being copied from their desk into the newspaper. Times may have changed, but copywriting is as crucial now in helping to sell your products as it was then in helping to sell newspapers.

Good copywriting answers the problem of how to get more sales.


Two big buzzwords today are content marketing and inbound marketing. Both essentially refer to copywriting. While effective copywriting is part science and part art, the fact is that anyone can create copy that moves people to act. Well crafted copywriting doesn't need to be full of hype or written with bold typefaces and capitalization that beats people over the head.

There are three basic steps you can take to create compelling copy.

1. Know your audience. It should be a given that you know exactly who you're creating the copy for. The more you know about your target audience, the easier it will be to create powerful copy. A demographic profile can help you not only create your copy but also know who you will be sending that content to. The following are some examples of data you'll find in a demographic profile:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Family Status
  • Income
  • Occupation and Industry
  • Interests and Organizations

2. Focus on them, not you. Everyone wants to be the center of attention. This applies in copywriting as well. The focus should be on the recipient, not how great you are. Your copy should answer the question: How will the products and services you offer benefit your customers and make their lives easier? Your copy must be able to answer the #1 question in every recipient's head: "What's in it for me?" In terms of copywriting, your product or service is far less important than its ability to fulfill your customers' needs.

3. Always include a call to action. Always. No matter what marketing medium you use to send and communicate the copy, there should always be a call to action. Never assume that the recipient will know what you want them to do next. Tell them exactly what the next step should be. Should they call, fill out a form, or visit your showroom? Make it crystal clear.

It takes time, skill, practice, and patience to become a master copywriter. For businesses that want to produce effective copy that moves people to act, following these three simple steps can go a long way toward achieving that goal. Communication tools may be expanding and evolving, but one thing will never change: the need for good, effective copywriting. Bad content produced across multiple marketing channels will work just as poorly as it did across one.

Change the words used to communicate your uniqueness and to tell your story, and you will change your business.


Posted by Chuck Gherman

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with copy that sells please visit www.printingartspress.com

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Does Your Advertising Have a Goal?

You know all about the importance of setting personal and business goals, but what about setting goals for your advertising? Such goals are also important to the success of your sales and marketing efforts.



The three traditional goals of advertising are to inform, persuade, and remind. However, you should add one more goal to that list, especially  if you run a small or medium sized business. That goal is to break even on the cost of running your ad. If the ad makes money immediately, that's a bonus.

Why just break even? 


Your strategy should be to create an ongoing relationship, not just a one-time transaction. You want to build a base -- a growing list of customers who come back to buy over and over again. Long term growth and stability are the keys, not just one time, short term gains.

"The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time." - Henry Ford

Advertising your business is important. Advertising your business on a consistent basis is even more important. Your business has to get noticed. It needs traffic, and that traffic needs to buy.

Instead of thinking about advertising your business as an expense, think about it as an investment. It's an investment with the goal of breaking even quickly while generating ROI for years to come.

Here are eight reasons you need to advertise consistently with a purpose and goal in mind.

  1. Get Noticed -- At any given time and in any market, only 2 to 4% of consumers are ready to buy what you sell. It's nearly impossible to predict when this group is going to actually make the purchase. They'll buy from the company that comes to the top of their mind when they're ready. The company that's most consistent in being seen and getting noticed will win the business most of the time.
  2. Remind Them -- People tend to forget quickly. Busy lives and long to-do lists can make anyone forget about your business. Just because you sent one postcard doesn't mean a prospect will remember your business when it's time to buy. In the advertising race, the tortoise beats the hare.
  3. Your Competition -- Your competitors won't quit advertising anytime soon. You shouldn't either.
  4. Shifting Quicksand -- Your market is constantly changing. You have to be nimble and adjust with it. Change up your ad copy and design. Test it, measure it, and tweak your ads until you achieve your desired return on investment.
  5. Momentum -- Advertising consistently not only informs your audience that you mean business but also serves notice to your competitors that you're in it for the long haul. Advertising boosts the morale of your own staff as well, signaling the vitality of your brand.
  6. Current Customers -- You know your competitors are nipping at your heels, trying to steal away your customers. Don't take your current customers for granted in your ad campaigns. Remind them on a regular basis the unique value you bring to the table and deliver for them. Don't assume they know already.
  7. Past Customers -- One of the fastest ways to boost sales is to reactivate past clients. Most customers leave a business because they feel unwanted and neglected. Tell them you're sorry and that you want them back. Give them an incentive to come back again. Many will come back. This time, don't neglect them. Communicate regularly and tell them that you appreciate their business. Advertising is not just for boosting sales; it also works for retaining customers. It's much cheaper to retain a customer than to find a new one. Advertising to current and past customers is an investment that makes lots of cents!
  8. Competitive Advantage -- Nothing helps you maintain a lead over your competitors like consistent advertising. Whether you're there now or you'll get there soon, once you have the lead, keep the foot on the pedal, so the competition has little chance of catching up.

You must have both strategic and monetary goals in mind when advertising your business. When done with a purpose and vision, your ad campaigns will produce real ROI and real customers who will pay you back for years to come. To start and build momentum, advertise consistently. You'll end up creating your own economy.


Posted by Chuck Gherman

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with advertising please visit www.printingartspress.com

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Four Steps for Brand Consistency on a Budget

All companies can benefit from developing a consistent brand image. The brand definition and features may encompass everything from logos to color palettes to fonts, but it must be maintained consistently across marketing collateral, presentations, correspondence, and proposals. Your brand image may even influence your office d├ęcor, if you have logos or product photos as part of your furnishings. Keeping everything in sync is difficult, especially as time passes and the company grows or expands its product line. Here are a few tips to help you keep your brand elements consistent.



1. Develop an updated logo.
In the long run, it pays to have a professionally created company or brand logo as the centerpiece of your company's identity. A custom logo doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be simple, eye catching, and unique.

Unless you're a graphic artist or you already have a great one on staff, work with a designer for logo creation. While there are libraries of standard logos you can choose from, it's worth it to have a logo custom designed by an experienced graphic artist who can capture the essence of your business. Try to resist the temptation to design your own logo using PowerPoint or a similar program because it will probably always look amateurish. You also won't be able to generate all the different file types you need for various media.

2. Pick a color scheme.
Once you've found a graphic designer to work with, ask him or her to create a corporate color scheme for you while they're working on the logo. The color scheme should include two or three colors that coordinate well together, and it should include light and dark shade variations of the chosen colors.

The experienced eye of a graphic artist will come up with fresh designs and color schemes that you'll love, even though you might not have considered them on your own. When you settle on your colors, you can ask the designer to provide the Pantone color code values and the CMYK equivalents to prevent inconsistencies that occasionally occur if people try to "eyeball" the correct shade on future documents.

3. Create a style set and templates.
If you use page layout or word processing applications, you'll want to create a custom style set that includes fonts, heading styles, margins, and spacing defaults so your documents always have a consistent look and feel. A graphic artist's expertise will come in handy here, too, by giving your documents an appealing look.

Consider installing the style set for new employees when they join your company, or have IT set them up for you, so employees automatically create consistently formatted documents and presentations. It's a huge time saver when you don't have to reformat every document before publishing it.

4. Post a branding "book" or style guide.
A style guide doesn't have to be complex, but it does need to make the guidelines for logo usage and other branding elements clear. To help ensure consistency, include the standards for color values, official product and company names, and links to corporate templates. It only makes sense to have a style guide if employees will use it, so try to keep it simple if you can.

Creating a recognizable brand requires consistency to avoid muddying brand identity. By following a few guidelines, you can help ensure that prospective customers will instantly recognize your brand.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with branding please visit www.printingartspress.com

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Words Your Customers Love to Hear



Next time you're creating a marketing promotion regardless of the media channel, you may want to include one of these "magic" words that customers most love to hear:

  • Guarantee. Not only does a guarantee show confidence in your products, but it also removes the risk of trying your product, giving potential customers the added persuasion to purchase your product over another.
  • Instantly, immediately, or fast. We all love fast results or solutions, so it's no surprise that people love instant gratification.
  • New. Today's society is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest products available. However, be aware that the novelty of "new" can wear off. After a while, customers often fall back to their familiar, tried and true products again.
  • Save. Saving money is something that everyone wants to do. Whether you offer an exclusive savings promotion, a discounted package deal, or even a money saving coupon, your customers will be listening.
  • Results. The word "results" also means success. It's a powerful word because of its inherent promise of a better outcome.
  • Discover. The word "discover" offers a promise of something more to come. Like unwrapping a gift on your birthday, discoveries always bring a sense of excitement and adventure.
  • Easy. People love to purchase things that are easy to figure out, easy to assemble, easy to manage, and so on. The less effort required by the customer, the better.
  • Free. Although the word "free" is often overused, it continues to be the number one attention getting word. Use it sparingly and only when you truly have something free to offer with no strings attached, such as a free sample, free trial, free shipping, or buy one get one free deal.


Posted by Chuck Gherman

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with  marketing promotion please visit www.printingartspress.com

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Developing a Sales and Marketing Plan for 2014



As the year draws to a close, many companies are preparing to review and develop their marketing plans for 2014. A solid marketing plan will articulate a vision for the company in the new year, including how the group is going to expand and what the revenue goals should be. Developing a solid plan requires quite a bit of forethought and planning. Here are the three steps that businesses should use to get themselves prepared for the upcoming year.

1. Determine where the company is going

It's not enough to simply say that the company is going to make a certain amount of money in the upcoming year. A good marketing plan will determine what markets, geographical areas, and populations the business can expand into and how that will affect revenue. There should also be estimations about how much the company is depending upon past customers returning and what percentage can realistically be expected to spend again.

2. See how the company is going to get there

This will encompass the company's plan to generate revenue and meet the goals described in step one. In 2014, there are a variety of marketing techniques that should be considered. A company can produce excellent copy or presentations, but without a solid, well rounded marketing campaign, it will go nowhere. Everyone knows about the importance of working online, but many neglect the print world. Yet a stunning 73 percent of customers prefer to receive printed announcements rather than email announcements from their preferred brands. Consider some of the following marketing techniques.

Direct mail   According to Target Marketing magazine, direct mail had the highest rating for customer acquisition, contact, and retention ROI. One of the biggest problems companies face with direct mail is that few people are experienced with the medium and how to run a campaign. If this sounds familiar, work with someone who is used to this type of print marketing. 
Print advertising   Customers have indicated that they prefer paper ads, especially when shopping. An estimated 69 percent of shoppers depend on newspapers for information about brands and deals
Integrated marketing   Many people use their smart devices for nearly everything. While print advertising is effective, it often works best when integrated with online campaigns. For example, include QR codes on pamphlets to take people to the company website or ordering page. This will drive traffic and help you reach across demographics to include everyone on and offline. 

3. Measure progress and revise when necessary

Schedule benchmarks throughout the year to see how well the company is reaching its goals. These benchmarks should be reasonable and take into account how much time marketing techniques require to be effective. For example, a new direct mail campaign may not be as effective when it is first launched. After a few mailings, however, customers may begin to recognize the brand and give it more recognition.

At the same time, the team must be willing to revise when necessary. If the company is falling short, examine the ROI of different lead generation and conversion techniques. See if revisions are possible or if the budget money would be better allocated elsewhere. If the company is surpassing expectations, revise expectations so as not to shortchange what the company is capable of producing.

Developing a successful marketing campaign is an important step in preparing a company for the upcoming year. Taking the time to research and create a practical plan will give everyone a clear picture of the expectations and will guide the business to the next level.

Posted by Chuck Gherman

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with marketing plans for print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com