Alphagraphics blog

Effective Communication Breeds Customer Loyalty

If your company has high levels of customer satisfaction, they are likely to remain loyal, right? Wrong.

In a customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, an average of 72% of respondents indicated that they were highly satisfied with the products or services received. Yet 88% of the customers surveyed said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!

Many of your competitors likely offer a quality product and service with prices and delivery standards that are similar to yours. In this fiercely competitive environment, how can you continuously attract and win new customers while fostering loyalty among your current ones?

All things being equal, your customers will naturally go where they consistently feel well treated and appreciated.

You care about your clients, but what matters to them is how you show it. Demonstrating their value to you requires more than quality service and good prices. It requires strategic planning. It requires ongoing attentiveness and creativity in the quality of your communication.

Direct mail is often viewed as a way of winning new customers, but its effectiveness as a customer loyalty tool should not be overlooked. It is powerful, relevant, and has a tangible cost. Sending direct mail (especially personalized mail) says to your customers, “You are worth the effort.”

Consider setting up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that will demonstrate at regular, pre-planned intervals that you are sincerely grateful for their business and care about their relationship with you.

Use the data you’ve collected to communicate, cross-sell, educate, survey and grow your relationship with these customers. Offer useful tips, and send newsletters, press releases, case studies, company brochures and timely incentives that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.

Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention efforts too.

March 21 / 2017
Author adminus711
Category Uncategorized
Comments No Comments

Effective Marketing Copy Made Easy

Whether you are writing copy for direct mail, email, in-store or exterior signage, or any other type of marketing material, a few simple tricks will increase your ability to grab your audience’s attention and communicate your message more effectively. Here are some fundamental principles of writing great copy that will help you command attention:

  • Be imaginative. It’s easy to say the same thing in the same way all the time. Break out of the mold. Look for unconventional ways to communicate your message.
  • Be a salesman. Cute and clever doesn’t get you anywhere by itself. Your copy still has to motivate recipients to action. Be creative, but also be clear. Sell benefits. Give an overt call to action.
  • Put the customer front and center. Make the customer the center of the message. Talk about their problems, their challenges, and their bottlenecks. Let them identify with the message, then talk about how your products and services can solve their problems.
  • Build trust. Part of building a brand and gaining repeat customers is establishing loyalty and trust. Represent your products in a way that is accurate, helpful, and maintains your customers’ confidence.
  • Hire a professional editor. Make sure your copy meets professional standards. Someone who is “good at grammar” isn’t sufficient. When it comes to marketing, there are rules for punctuation, capitalization, and usage that only professionals know.

Of course, there are other elements to great print marketing, as well. Good layout. Interesting graphics. Compelling offer. But great copy ties it all together.

February 06 / 2017
Author adminus711
Category Uncategorized
Comments No Comments

Tips for Ordering Promotional Products

Promotional products, whether common items such as pens and refrigerator magnets or more unusual items such as branded toys or back scratchers, can be powerful components of a multichannel marketing campaign. They tend to be kept for longer periods of time than traditional marketing pieces and can be highly effective door openers for hard-to-reach targets, particularly in the C-Suite. But ordering promotional items isn’t like ordering print. Here is a quick checklist to make the most of your investment.

  • Don’t overload the promotional item.
  • Keep it simple and don’t try to overload with copy or images. Often times, a logo and phone number is all you need.

  • Avoid the rush.
  • You may be used to being able to rush orders for brochures and direct mail, but promotional items require more lead time.  Plan at least several weeks in advance.

  • Simplify your use of color.
  • The differential between single-color and multicolor printing is relatively minimal. However, promotional items are generally imprinted using silkscreen or pad printing, and every color adds  more cost. Use single-color versions of graphics and logos to keep the cost down.

  • Price breaks matter.
  • In the world of commercial print, you don’t want to over-order product simply to get a price break, especially when considering the cost of obsolescence. Promotional items will go out of date less quickly, however, and the price breaks with volume can be substantial.

  • Dimension matters.
  • Remember to take into consideration the final mailing cost. A more expensive promotional item that ships flat may cost less in the end than a lower priced but bulky item that needs to be mailed in a dimensional package.

    Want to learn more about best-in-class use of promotional items? Talk to one of our business development experts.

    December 27 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments No Comments

    5 Updates to Freshen Up Direct Mail

    Are you looking for ways to spice up your direct mail campaigns? Even if your response rates remain high, are you looking to freshen things up? Here are a few ways you can update your direct mailings and give them new appeal.

  • Update the package.
  • Are you using the same envelopes you have for years? If so, change the color. Change the size. Add a personalized teaser on the front (“John, check this out!”). If you are selling high-value products, consider dimensional mail or novelty envelopes that look like UPS packages or USPS Priority Mail.

  • Tweak your text.
  • Still using the same marketing text from last year? Try a new approach. If you’ve been using an informational style, insert some humor.  If you’ve been sending punchy one-liners, try adding more educational text.

  • Freshen up the images.
  • How long have you been using that same picture of your headquarters? Is your headshot on the back of the postcard from the 1990s? Take a new company photo. Upload a current headshot with a fabulous smile. Or maybe you just want some new images as backgrounds or illustration.

  • Add a new variable.
  • If you are personalizing your mailings, why not add a new variable? If you’ve been personalizing by name and gender, add age bracket or income. If you’ve been personalizing by ZIP Code and household income, refine by life stage.

    Look for fresh, new ways to relate to customers and increase the relevance of the message.

  • Try a new offer.
  • What incentive have you been using to get people to respond? 15% discount? If so, try 10% or 25%. Go crazy and try BOGO. How are you encouraging people to log into their personalized microsite? Entrance into a sweepstakes for a gift card? Try a set of concert tickets instead.

    Mixing things up can be a great way to stay fresh and relevant, even when sending to the same audience. So get creative. Step outside the box and see what happens.

    Need some ideas? Contact us. We can help!

    September 26 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments No Comments

    5 Ways to Trim the Print Budget without Compromising Results

    5 Ways to Trim the Print Budget without Compromising Results

     

    Want to get better results with a smaller investment? Try these simple tricks.

  • Plan smart. Simple mistakes often can be avoided with a little planning. Take time to communicate with us about your budget and deadlines, but also the more interpretive elements of the project so we can discuss any challenges we foresee.
  • Gang your runs. By placing many projects on the same sheet, or piggybacking on an unused portion of a sheet, we can reduce manpower, plates, and prep time.
  • Think “down the line.” Changes become more expensive the further along you are in the print job. Everyone who needs to approve your files should do so before you submit them for printing. Proofread your copy multiple times. Confirm that you’ve prepared your digital files properly, keeping in mind that the resolution of digital files varies greatly.
  • Tweak your paper. Paper can account for 30%–50% of your printing costs, and there are a number of cost-saving measures you can take without adversely affecting your results.
    • Reduce the size and number of pages. By targeting and segmenting your mailings and information packets, you can often save a lot of money over time.
    • Use thinner paper. Changing the weight can save 10%–15% of your paper costs.
    • Make subtle changes to brightness. Generally speaking, the brighter the paper, the higher the cost. But few people will notice a slight change in the brightness of your paper, so this is often somewhere you can tighten the belt.
    • Consider colored papers instead of bleeds. You may be able to create the effect you want less expensively with colored paper instead of ink.
    • Opt for the house paper. Paper prices fluctuate often, but you can save time and money by using papers we purchase in high volume. Ask us for samples.
  • Remember that boring is your friend. When it comes to print production, you want your print job to be uneventful once it hits the pressroom. To make this happen, talk to us early and often!
  • Need more money-saving ideas? Give us a call!

    August 22 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments No Comments

    Tips and Tricks for Selecting Colors

    Color sells. It increases brand recognition, improves comprehension, and can motivate purchase decisions between products. Color also identifies. The United Parcel Service, IBM, and Home Depot are all synonymous with specific colors. Some companies even trademark colors as brand assets. Think Tiffany’s robin’s egg blue.

    A study by G.A Wright Marketing found that the use of high-quality paper and color applications can increase response rates by nearly 50%. For example, the study showed that a four-color promotional mailer printed on heavy gloss paper stock had a more than 40% higher response rate than an identical three-color version printed on a lighter matte paper stock.

    Colors summon emotions and create connections with the people surrounding your brand. Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow are associated with a range of emotions, from optimism and excitement to violence. Cool colors like green, violet, and blue can be calming and nurturing, but they can also be impersonal and antiseptic.

    Choose colors that will elicit a positive response from recipients, then balance them in a visually appealing way. Using variations of a single color will create a visual effect that is classic and easy on the eyes, but not as vibrant as it could be. Enrich the scheme by introducing analogous colors, selecting three colors next to each other on the color wheel. Examples include red/orange/yellow; green/blue/purple; and yellow/yellow-green/green. Consistently use one shade as the dominant color.

    For higher contrast, select a complementary color scheme, choosing colors across the wheel from each other. This works best when you place a warm color against a cool color, such as red and green, blue and orange, or purple and yellow. Any tint can be used. Midnight blue/tangerine and royal purple/gold are effective combinations.

    Most any color mix can work as long as you retain harmony and richness in your presentation and avoid the hues used by your competitors.

    Test combinations until you find the scheme that sends the message you want associated with your business. Your customers make split-second decisions based on color, so use it to your advantage.

    July 27 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments No Comments

    Is Your Direct Mail Trustworthy?

    People don’t just buy from companies they like. They buy from companies they trust. When you send out direct mail campaigns, it’s important to keep this in mind. Let’s look at five ways you can establish trust with your customers.

  • Use solid, believable content. Leave the extravagant claims and cheesy superlatives to the late night infomercials. Make your headlines and body copy factual and believable. Back up your claims. Be specific so people know that you are representing the product accurately.
  • Write for your audience. If your marketing copy sounds generic, recipients might not feel that your claims are genuine. It’s hard to trust a company that is willing to sell anything to anybody whether they really need it or not. Target your offers, marketing copy, and calls to action to each target audience specifically so they recognize your claims as true.
  • Credible design. Marketing copy can be superficial and cheesy, and so can design. If you use five different fonts and clutter the design area with tons of images and an impenetrable sea of text, your piece will look unprofessional. If your design looks unprofessional, your company will too. Avoid super tiny fonts because they make it look as if you are trying to hide something.
  • Use real people. Customer testimonials are great for establishing credibility, but they have to be from real life people. Use names, locations, and pictures of smiling faces when possible. Assure readers that these are actual people, not customers you made up.
  • Proofread your text. Spelling and grammar errors don’t make for a professional image. Have a professional editor or proofreader get a final set of eyes on your copy to ensure that there are no mistakes.
  • When it comes to direct mail, there are no shortcuts.  Be sincere. Be credible. Present not just a great product, but a company that people can trust.

    June 17 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments No Comments

    Are You Designing for Visual Impairment?

    When we think about selecting a font for a print marketing piece, we tend to think about the creative aspects of the selection. Does it match the branding? Will it convey the right message (strength, creativity, whimsy) to the target audience? But there are some practical issues that need to be considered as well. These relate to readability.

    Not everyone in your target audience has the same level of vision. Older members might be facing issues like cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. Even younger consumers may have untreated amblyopia or eye teaming. These visual issues make reading challenging. If your audience has trouble just reading the words, the larger marketing message will get lost.

    According to the American Foundation for the Blind, when choosing a font, here are some specific things to consider for target audiences (or portions of those audiences) who might be facing vision issues:

    Font type: Use easily recognizable characters in fonts such as standard Roman or Arial. Avoid decorative fonts.

    Font size: Increase the font size to make it easier to read. This is especially important for in-store displays, signage, and other materials that may be read from a distance.

    Serif vs. sans serif: For maximum readability, use a sans serif typeface.

    Bold it. When possible, use bold type because the thickness of the letters makes the print more legible.

    Contrast: Choose colors and type styles that contrast from background. The more contrast, the easier the font is to read. You may want to avoid using italics or all capital letters. Both make it more difficult to differentiate letters.

    If you are going to a general audience, it might be worth segmenting out specific age groups or other demographics and including font selection and sizing as part of the customization.

    Need help choosing the right font for your audience or segmenting your projects to get the right match between the two? Let us help.

    May 23 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments No Comments

    7 Ways to Maximize Impact on a Small Budget

    A high-impact marketing campaign comes from creativity and strategy, not from having limitless resources. Let’s look at seven ways to optimize your marketing budget for maximum impact, even on minimum dollars.

  • Concentrate on a niche market. Target your message to a smaller market versus a diverse group of prospects. Maximize your marketing spend by mailing highly relevant, targeted offers rather than general solicitations.
  • Plan your printing. Involve us in the design of your printed pieces from the beginning. We can often recommend paper, ink, trim sizes, and layouts that will save you money.
  • Maximize your postal spend. New postage rates have recently gone into effect that address size, shape and weight. Using these new parameters, we can advise you on creating mailings that will minimize your postage expense while maximizing your ROI.
  • Consider postcards. Some studies estimate postcard readership at close to 100%, especially if your design is eye-catching and your message is brief. Ask us for assistance in creating a low-cost postcard that meets postal service specifications for reduced postage.
  • Be the expert. When prospective clients are in need of your product or service, you will have instant credibility if they have seen your name in print. Create a newsletter or blog, write articles for magazines, newspapers and journals, or even consider producing your own branded magazine.
  • Network. Join a speakers bureau and attend trade shows and conferences. Utilize online networking resources, such as LinkedIn. Pass out and mail business cards and brochures to boost awareness among your potential clients.
  • Partner with non-competing businesses. Identify companies that offer complementary goods and services, and create cooperative marketing collateral using a pool of shared dollars.
  • There are many cost-effective ways to let future customers know about your company’s products and services. Be resourceful and you will reap the rewards on your balance sheet.

    April 29 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments 20 Comments

    3 Ways to Make More of Your Data

    One of the biggest misconceptions about 1:1 (personalized) printing is that marketers don’t have enough of the data to create personalized, highly relevant campaigns. This might be true in some cases, but you might also be overlooking ways to do more with the data you already have.

    Here are three ways to maximize the use of existing data:

  • Revive existing customer relationships.
  • Find those customers that used to order frequently but who might have dropped off the map. Send them a note telling them you missed them. Ask them to fill out a survey (to find out why) and offer a coupon encouraging them to come back.

  • Cross-sell and upsell.
  • While prospecting is an important part of marketing, your most profitable relationships are the customers who already buy from you. Take advantage of these relationships by proactively cross-selling and upselling relevant products of use to them. If you are an auto dealer and know a customer’s lease is about to expire on a Toyota Corolla, for example, send a personalized brochure appealing to all of the benefits of upgrading to a Toyota Camry.

  • Start a loyalty program.
  • Ask existing customers to join a loyalty program. These programs encourage customers to maintain their relationship with you based on deals. Buy nine, get the tenth free. Earn discounts and free stuff based on shopping frequency or referrals. Sometimes loyalty program benefits are discounts and free merchandise, but especially for luxury items, exclusive access and insider information can be powerful incentives, too. If you are a local winery, ask tour visitors to sign up for a wine club. Offer insider “deals” like exclusive wine tastings and access to lectures from local celebrities.

    Need help maximizing your existing customer data? We’ve got great ideas. Just ask!

    March 16 / 2016
    Author adminus711
    Category Uncategorized
    Comments 5 Comments