Archive for June 2008

Getting Top of Mind.

June 30, 2008

Do you ever feel like your clients are having parties and you’re the only one not invited? That’s exactly what happens to most printing companies when it comes to strategy sessions. Printers simply aren’t part of the marketing “in” crowd.

Too often printers are left sitting in the lobby unless there is a question about print. And those questions generally don’t come up until well after all the really important campaign decisions have been made.

Printers become wallflowers because they’re too shy to move beyond the comfort zone of print production. Marketing executives don’t care about how dots get on paper. They care about issues like how to:

  • Acquire and maintain customers
  • Increase marketing ROI
  • Get to market faster
  • Leverage customer data
  • Find new markets
  • Reduce waste and costs
  • Track results

So How Could a Newsletter Improve My Social Life?

The truth is a newsletter won’t help much if your entire focus is on print production. If you want the cool rich kids (translation: leading companies with big-budget opportunities) to notice you, there has to be some credibility established.

A well-positioned newsletter can help make the case that your knowledge extends beyond ink and paper. What’s more, you can send the newsletter to C-level execs who set strategy and influence decisions but are not part of your everyday contact base.

How Do I Communicate the Print Message?

The best way to promote the value of print is by providing content that lures the strategic folk while still weaving in the print message. For example, you might create a feature article on multicultural marketing opportunities that points out the growth of emerging ethnic markets, their increasing consumer expenditures and who is buying what and why.

Then you create a secondary article pointing out studies indicating that members of the most lucrative emerging minority markets—Hispanic, African American and Asian—are direct mail responsive, but tend to receive far less mail than the average U.S. household. That’s when you introduce your ability to create targeted mail that enables marketers to develop versions in the recipient’s language of choice as well as vary offers by segment.

Direct mail isn’t your specialty? It’s just as easy to develop the newsletter with a slant toward how magazine and book publishers, for instance, are also finding new business in multicultural markets.

Who Will Write the Articles?

The obvious answer is to go outside if you don’t have the inside expertise. Check with your media contacts for good freelance writers. Or email marketing strategist Larry Bauer and the Mondovox Creative Group. We write and design award-winning newsletters as well as provide support services ranging from managing your marketing database to electronic distribution and real-time results tracking. Most importantly, we offer special expertise in the graphic arts industry.

Regardless of your approach, the takeaway is that you need to build credibility by demonstrating knowledge of the marketing issues impacting your customers. Then you have a chance of making the “A” list for your customer’s next strategy meeting. Newsletters can provide the vehicle.

— by Larry Bauer

Print vs. Electronic Newsletters.

June 30, 2008

Try to forget for a moment that you are a printer and think of yourself as a marketer, which of course you are. If you were developing a newsletter, you would want to use the most effective means, right? So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each channel:

Print Newsletter

Pros

  • Ability to reach everyone in your database
  • Easier to rent print lists for expanded circulation
  • High resolution reproduction that delights the eye
  • Ability to demonstrate your capabilities & power of print
  • Portability—easier to take to a coffee break, read on an airplane, etc.
  • People tire of reading computer screens all day
  • Less competition—fewer print newsletters being produced
  • People enjoy receiving relevant print publications

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Slower production and distribution process
  • More difficult to present timely news
  • Limited tracking ability for generating marketing metrics

Electronic Newsletter

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Virtually instant distribution
  • Easier to present timely news
  • Trendy
  • More interactive capabilities—instantly link readers to deeper, related information or contact with you
  • Superior tracking ability for better marketing metrics

Cons

  • Permission based
  • Email address availability tends to be spotty even in customer databases
  • Limited list rental options for expanded circulation
  • Easily ignored, deleted or canceled
  • Lots of competition

And the Winner Is…

There is no winner. They are different channels with different sets of pluses and minuses. The answer is a milk toasty “it depends.”

What is clear is that different channels work best in combination with one another. Our most successful newsletter clients use a blend of print and electronic media to communicate their message.

They produce quarterly print versions, usually in 8-page formats, then provide short, one- or two-topic HTML editions on a bi-weekly schedule. This approach not only allows the printers to communicate important information on a timely basis, but also demonstrates that they are multichannel players who understand today’s media environment.

— by Larry Bauer

Who Cares About Newsletter Design?

June 30, 2008

You may be the best printer in your region, but it won’t matter to prospects and clients if you don’t appear and act credible and knowledgeable. Good newsletter content is only half of the equation. Without equally good design, your newsletter won’t instill a favorable impression, get read and ultimately help you get that foot in the door.

Design is not about using favorite colors and looking trendy. It’s actually a complex outcome of the same marketing information you use to create your key sales messages and expand your service offerings. Design deftly applies that same information to the components of your newsletter (and all your sales tools for that matter).

Keep the following in mind when planning and designing your newsletter:

  • Know your target audience and tailor your newsletter design to their needs. This includes aspects such as making sure type is legible for the age group of your list and selecting colors that are suitable for their demographic.
  • Design to support your market message without over-designing or losing yourself in a plethora of trendy design motifs. Make sure the newsletter’s design supports rather than upstages your message.
  • Look strategic by using images and copy that focus on solutions rather than your equipment. This will position you as a company that thinks strategically and can contribute to their bigger picture and ultimately, yours.
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors by purposefully designing to NOT look like them. Being different and distinctly recognizable allows prospects to spot you a mile away.
  • Don’t be a copycat by using the same stock images that all your competitors are using. These won’t reinforce your brand or your need to be seen in a different light than your competitors. Remember, when all things are perceived as being equal, price wins.
  • Be consistent by always using the same high-quality design for your newsletter. Consistency reinforces your prospects’ expectations of you.
  • Follow through on your design promise by acting the part. Once you have a well-designed, well-written newsletter based on a solid communications platform, you must have the ability to follow through. Make sure your sales staff is sending both verbal and written messages consistent to the quality and content of your newsletter.
  • Instill trust by consistently integrating your newsletter into your overall brand image. This will visually link the publication to your other customer touchpoints, creating cross-media recognition that reinforces your sales messages to everyone—prospects and existing clients.
  • Increase accessibility by using design to improve the reader’s experience. Articles should be easy to find and clearly differentiated from each other. Landing pages are helpful for extended articles but keep links under control. Five to seven jumps is a good number to shoot for.

Use Good Design for Every Touchpoint, Including Newsletters.

Good design gives you the power to change, reinforce and expand positive perceptions of your company. It also shows that you pay attention to detail and are able to distinguish what looks good from what doesn’t. Customers want to know that important details won’t escape your discriminating eye. The design quality of all your sales and marketing literature creates as much of an impression as the suit you wear to that first meeting. And if done really well, good design will differentiate and position you more favorably than the next guy, giving you the edge.

What’s the bottom line?

It’s simple: Good newsletter design creates distinction between you and your competitors while consistent design keeps you visible during long sales cycles. Good design does matter.

— by Julia Moran Martz

Upcoming Newsletter Topics.

June 30, 2008

Just a few of the topics we’re working on for future newsletters:

  • How to generate more print business from your website.
  • Ideas to improve your trade show results.
  • PR or advertising, which one is really most effective?

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