Amid the ongoing debate about whether direct mail or e-mail or social media is the best method to market to customers and prospects, very little is being said about the one thing that is crucial to the success of each – the message. Unless the message is relevant to the audience and persuasively presented, it doesn’t matter how it is delivered. So while the discussion about the delivery method continues, focus on developing good content and honing your writing skills.
If you are like most of our customers, you have a lot of questions about designing an effective direct mail marketing piece. Should you use a post card, a self-mailer, or an envelope? Use lots of copy or lots of white space? Announce who the mail is from or build the reader’s curiosity? With so many variables to consider, where does one begin to seek the right answers?
To help sort through the maze of interlocking decisions, remember that there are two ways to judge how well a direct mail piece has been designed. One set of standards comes from the discipline of good graphic design; the other comes from what makes mail move efficiently through the mail stream. We believe both are important, and that a good strategy is to thoroughly understand each set.
Marketing consists of the strategies and tactics used to identify, create, and maintain satisfying relationships with customers that result in value for both the customer and the marketer. — Dr. Paul Christ
For long term success, every business or organization must attract and retain customers. Most of us understand the term marketing as the discipline associated with such activities.
Marketing encompasses a broad range of activities, from product development and pricing, to promotion and distribution. As your printer, we play a role in helping you to effectively promote your business’s or organization’s products and services.
The term marketing communications describes messages used to communicate with a market. Marketing communications focus on the products or services of a business or organization, rather than on the company or organization itself, and are used to create demand or position a company’s product or service.
The task of generating marketing communications often is the responsibility of the business owner, sales manager, or development professional. Once written, this information can be used to create a variety of sales collateral material – flyers and brochures, direct mail marketing packages, newsletters, press releases – and can also be used on company web pages and emails.
Think of marketing communications as salesmanship in print. And just as you carefully prepare and plan for a sales call, prepare and plan for salesmanship in print.
As you would expect, there are some products we typically print for many of our customers. Letterheads, note pads, thank you notes, newsletters, and brochures are common business printing projects for which we print multiple orders each week.
In this issue we’d like to suggest some options for refreshing the look of these printed materials… with a few simple changes.
A newsletter is a popular and effective way to keep in touch with customers, members, and employees. It helps create top of mind awareness – having your company come to mind whenever a customer needs your product or service. It provides a way to talk about the benefits of new services, products, or equipment. It allows you to showcase your expertise and become a source of useful information or valuable advice. And it definitely can help you find new customers or members.
To be truly effective, a newsletter must be:
- published regularly, whether monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly;
- well designed, eye catching, content-rich; and
- written to keep the audience’s interest.
Each of these elements – regular publication, good design, and good writing – contributes equally to the effectiveness of a newsletter.
As we’ve mentioned before, the success of any direct mail marketing campaign depends primarily on the mail list. Studies have shown that at least 60% of the response rate can be attributed to the mail list, while only about 20% each is attributable to the offer and the appearance of the mail piece. Given the importance of a mailing list, we recommend that all our customers understand the basics in order to make the best use of any list – internally-generated or purchased.
When is it time to consider a redesign of your company’s advertising material? Some may answer, “when its effectiveness drops,” or “when the competition does,” or “when we hire a new marketing director.” We agree that these are good reasons, but we also would add that periodic redesign should be part of your regular advertising cycle. A good redesign will refresh your ads and renew them for your loyal customers and your prospects alike.
Signs That a Redesign May be Needed
Your company’s advertising material may need a redesign if any of these conditions exist:
- It has been more than five years since you first developed the advertising material.
- Your company today is much different than it was when the advertising material was developed.
- The target audience for your product or service has changed since the advertising material was developed.
Your advertising material may also show signs of aging in the selection of typeface, the layout, or the color palette.
In the past, all sales and marketing materials were printed. Later, the Internet added new ways to reach customers and prospects, and later still provided a way to interact with them, sometimes in real time. Over time, Internet-based marketing replaced some printed materials, enhanced others, and also provided new marketing tools.
Despite the popularity and success of these new marketing techniques, there remain some basic printed items that all businesses need:
• The corporate identity package consisting of 1) business cards, 2) letterheads & envelopes, 3) note paper, 4) mailing labels, and
• Sales material consisting of 5) a company brochure, 6) note pads, and 7) a direct mail piece.
Use of social media sites has exploded in the last several years. In February 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted the first of six surveys as part of the Internet & American Life Project. In 2005, only 2% of adults who used the Internet were using a social media site. That number has increased to over 75% in 2016.
Along with this growth, social media sites have evolved from purely personal to commercial use – a way for people to connect to a business and its fans. Businesses find they can use social media sites for marketing purposes, such as engaging in a dialogue with customers, building brand awareness, making offers, providing coupons or samples, and alerting customers to upcoming promotions or product launches (sneak previews).