Posts tagged printing management
The postcard below from Excelsior Springs Hospital arrived in a mailbox of a 50 year old living in a subdivision with mixed housing.
For the recipient, it was off message. They were not interested in comparing residential care homes quite yet being that they are only 50 years old. I live in a subdivision designed for people to progress through life from the townhomes, to single family homes to raise a family, to the patio homes to enjoy one-level living prior to advancing to a nursing home or residential care center.
So the question begs, what did Excelsior Springs Hospital use to compile a target rich list? Zip codes, type of home, age, mortgage balance, employment? If I were their marketing director, I would have specified 55 to 75 years of age living in ranch homes with a zero balance so to hone in on people most likely to be ready to move from their downsized ranch or maintenance-free patio home into an independent living center or assisted living.
Fatal Flaws Made in Senior Living Postcard
As you see, Excelsior Springs Hospital has thrown everything and the kitchen sink into this simple 5×7 postcard. It’s packed, yet pulseless. Here’s where they fell short.
- The headline is a snore. A better headline/offer would have been, “Join us for a 4-Course Lunch and 4-Course Resident Panel.”
- The photo a bore. A photo of Paul Kemp gardening or playing cards would have been more engaging. Having him looking at a book, not the camera, is too passive.
- You don’t know where to start. They have three tiers of living centers to offer. Why not chronologically take the prospect through each one with numbers (1) Independent Living (2) Residential Care (3) Convalescent Center.
- Information overload. There is way too much copy. This is a postcard, not a brochure or website. Give them the highlights and move them down the funnel to get more information.
- No continuity. The bulleted list on the left is flush left while the list on the right is centered. Some headlines have serif fonts, while some are san serif.
- There is no offer. With the competitive senior living market, why should the receiver of this postcard call the number or visit the website (which should be a landing page instead of a general URL (GURL).
- It’s features-not benefits-oriented. The front and back of the card “focuses on,” but doesn’t describe WIIFT (what’s in it for them). Better copy points out never feeling isolated or being excited to receive the calendar every month because there are so many fun things to pick to do each day.
- Meaningless elements. Everything in a good design has a reason for being there. It serves a purpose of pointing someone’s eye down the piece or to the next section. This card shows two blue starbursts that just further add to the clutter and a silky blue background that seems out of place. The two design blocks on the front of the card appear like the tablets from the 10 commandments but again I don’t understand the point.
- They called their customer a name. According to Britt Brouse, Associate Editor of Inside Direct Mail, you should never use the word “senior” when marketing to seniors. Instead focus on your services and how it meets their needs without pinpointing a life stage.
- They missed their target. The postcard was addressed to the male of the house, instead of me. One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is mailing to the male head of household, or to “couples,” when half of all households with people 65 or over are headed by one person, and 80 percent of those are women.
What did I miss? Did you catch something I didn’t see? Please put your comments and insights in the comments box below.
If you haven’t read Sabine Lenz’s Printing Impression guest post, “These Business Cards Are Crap,” read it now because she’s created quite a stir. Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com and doesn’t mince words about the cheap, flimsy stock, off center cards she collects every time she networks.
She rightfully asks where is the quality, the beauty and the usability of cards that are UV coated on both sides, so she can’t jot notes after meeting someone. Perhaps because it’s her business to sell paper, she says she’d like to see the use of extra thick paper stock, foil stamping, unusually-sized designs, and cards with an additional fold – perhaps that touts in 10-words what the company does best.
Digital Haze or Just Plain Lazy?
Has social media made us go soft by not having a nice card to present our best foot forward? Are we overly considered about our Linked In page and choosing the right Facebook cover photo?
I have certainly left meetings too many times to count where professionals didn’t have cards at all – a cardinal sin just five years ago. Sure we can bump our smart phones together and share contact info or email VCards, but the tactile experience of receiving a card, looking at the name, making a visual connection between your mind, the giver’s company and the person himself is lost. We learn and remember through touch and spending a moment experiencing the interaction.
Bad Business Cards
So let’s not overlook the business card interaction. This is your chance to dazzle them or bore them to death. For example, take a look at the six cards I quickly pulled off my desk. The three on the left side underscore Lenz’s crap rant.
There is too much information on the first card. It’s not a brochure, it’s a business card. The second “bad” card has unreadable mice type on it – stick to 8 picas or large not under 6, please. The third “bad” business card is lackluster. My guess is it was designed by the doctors and not by a professional graphic designer.
Good Business Cards
Now take a look at the cards on the right, which show great thought, design, a QR Code®, unusual sizing, thick paper stock, color washes on the back with no UV coating so you can write notes and an overall look and feel, so you leave with an impression about the business and the individual. These three good business cards even show off some creativity with their titles: Director of Awesomeness, ROI Generator, and Creator.
So put it on your calendar to review your business card this month. Does it need a re-design? Do you need to add your Facebook page, Twitter handle, a QR Code or blog address? Don’t be caught in a digital haze by ignoring what could be your best ally – your finely dressed business card.
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
With the ease of acquiring marketing materials today even small businesses can look like a Fortune 1000 company. But simple design mistakes can make your company look amateur and waste valuable marketing dollars. Avoid making little mistakes, hire a professional designer, and follow these ten postcard design and copy rules. They will help you keep your professional look for better impressions and stronger results.
- Use a high resolution stunning image to grab attention on the front of the card.
- Don’t use more than two typefaces as it looks unprofessional.
- Embrace white space and don’t fill the entire card with content, images and color.
- Use a compelling headline. What’s in it for the reader?
- Include a strong offer that creates the action you want (call, email, RSVP)
- Follow your company branding guidelines and corporate colors for continuity.
- Try to avoid using typefaces smaller than 10 pt.
- Go big. Postage is your biggest cost in mailing a postcard. We suggest using a card that is close to 6” x 11”.
- Use high quality paper that will endure the mailing process and look good on arrival.
- When in doubt, hire it out. You get one chance to make an impression.
Those small businesses that throw these guidelines to the wind and have their cousin or secretary design their postcards create doubt in the minds of their prospects. A poorly designed, flimsy card leaves a prospects thinking…
- Did they print this on their home computer?
- Did they shoot the photos themselves?
- Should I trust them with my business when they look like they operate on a shoe-string budget?
Bigger is Only Better When You Nail the Design
Skyline Roofing invested in mailing full color 8.5 x 11 postcards. And while it stood out in a pile of mail, it did not stand out for the right reasons in regards to design. Here are the reasons Skyline Roofing’s card looks more amateur than professional.
- While the picture on the front may be compelling, it looks out of focus and like a cellphone took it. The photo includes too many distractions such as full and empty glasses of beer, milk crates, charcoal bags, buckets, and what appears to be a drill or calking gun by the window.
- The image isn’t sized properly to bleed off the page and wastes 1/6 of the oversized postcard layout.
- The front of the card headline is too small. It uses a serif font in white, which makes it difficult to read. Serif fonts (with the feet) can be hard to read when reversed white on black.
- The designer had typeface ADD. There are at least five fonts used on the back of the card. This creates too much distraction for the reader.
- The offer is buried and open ended. Putting a deadline on the chances to enter a drawing creates a sense of urgency. Moving the offer to the front of the card is also an improvement.
- The body copy is centered instead of flush left. Maybe this is a personal preference, but I just think it looks bad.
- The placement of the company logo and Better Business Bureau logo appears random. Images, logos, etc. should always have a purpose with where they are located.
- When I visited the landing page I found the message “Whoops Page Not Found.” Skyline must have removed it shortly after the mailing rather than leaving it up for at least 12 months for those prospects who keep the card and call many months later. I don’t know about you, but just because I got a postcard doesn’t mean I need a roof TODAY.
- Spot color usage of red, yellow, purple, green, and blue appear random. Determine a brand color guide and then stick with it.
- Personalizing the front of the card with the prospects name via variable data printing could have pushed response into the double digits. Adding other variable elements – like age of people in the photos or types of homes may have helped drive results.
My postcard assessment either makes your feel really good about your direct mail efforts or perhaps you learned something to correct in your next mailing. Let us know what your takeaway was in the comment box below.
**This is a re-post from Mail Print’s early days of blogging. Our readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I wanted to resurrect an early post. Enjoy!
Marketing Asset Management. Print Automation. Marketing Automation. Communications Portals. Distributed Marketing. Web-To-Print. Confused yet?
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything fit in a nice, neat package that is easy to understand and explain? In the world of marketing communications management, many people would think the above terms all mean the same thing. I actually think they don’t. I think there are so many terms because each means something a little different:
Marketing Asset Management:
Focuses on creating an online library of digital marketing assets such as logos, templates, stock photography, videos and radio ads for use by centralized marketing staff or a network of remote users.
A term coined to define organizations that have many local markets that are marketed to differently, whether marketing strategy and execution is controlled by a central marketing department or the local stores and locations.
The ability to order printed materials through an online printing management system. Typically, this reduces a company’s inventory waste and improves the customization available on the printed pieces.
A central repository for ordering and downloading all types of marketing communications and assets, including email, logos, direct mail, radio commercials, fliers, buck slips, etc. Marketing Communications Portalsare very useful for distributed marketing organizations.
Eliminates human intervention in creating printed pieces. This could be obtained via a web-to-print application or communications portal that also employs print automation, or could be a standalone system that creates printed pieces automatically based upon data streams and live data feeds.
The process of triggering marketing communications to a specific individual or audience segment without human intervention. This differs from print automation in that the automated marketing campaigns could include email, direct mail and other channels, by themselves or combined.
I’m sure there are many more terms and buzz words that I haven’t noted here. Just like any rapidly advancing technology solution, new terms are created every day. The most important thing to understand is what you really need in a solution, regardless of what it is called.
The 1980s Australian band, INXS (pronounced “in excess”) has yet to retire though critics plea that they reconsider. The band’s name summarizes the excesses of that period, which include plenty of waste in the marketing industry — mass mailings, print overruns, static, soon-to-be-tossed collateral pieces, and one-way, non-triggered communication.
The spoilage and fallout of living to extremes or marketing to the masses has led us to today’s fine-tuned world of print on demand, variable data printing (VDP), and print automation. The pendulum has swung toward tighter controls, two-way communications, well-timed incentives, and just enough materials to get the job done and the results needed. Are you working smart or stuck in the world of give me 5,000 pieces instead of the 4,500 pieces really needed because it only costs me another $50 printing, one-way conversations, all delivered through one-channel vs. highly engaging multi-media campaigns?
When executed with tightly refined parameters and a laser-focused prospect list, VDP with multi-channel marketing is the new sensation because it generates higher results despite the smaller reach in most instances. Today’s marketing tools and digital print pieces reduce the cost of print communication by as much as 90% —shaving off the bottom half of the pyramid below.
With print on demand, there is no need to warehouse materials and no inventory obsolescence. Supplement print on demand with print automation and you also omit the last three line items at the base of the pyramid: external creative, internal creative, and fulfillment/distribution.
Just in Time Printing Omits Waste
If you’ve ever had to throw away 7,000 image brochures because of a change in leadership, you’ve felt the pain of offset printing in today’s fast moving, ever-changing business climate. It is Murphy’s Law that as soon as the annual report or other key piece gets printed, something will already be out of date.
Refine Your List, Blanketing Populations is So 80s
If you haven’t determined who your customer is, you can spend a lot of money blanketing populations of people and be missing those potential customers who are actually interested in your business.
If you’re pulling data from your internal database for your mailings, make sure your data is scrubbed and solid. A data quality survey revealed:
- While 96.2 percent of organizations view data accuracy as an essential issue, nearly one-third of them don’t enforce it.
- More than half of the respondents claim that at least 6 percent or more of the important information in their database is inaccurate or completely missing.
- 63 percent of respondents say that five to thirty percent of their marketing budget is wasted as a result of bad data.
If you’re using an outside list company or broker for your marketing project, make sure it’s been cleaned or scrubbed (the process of detecting and removing or correcting any information in a database that has some sort of error).
Errors can be the result of human data entry error, merging of two databases, a lack of company-wide or industry-wide data coding standards, or due to old systems that contain inaccurate or outdated information.
When in doubt about the accuracy and deliverability of your list, hire a mailing expert or partner with a reputable mail house to provide:
- Data Normalization
- Data Migration
- USPS CASS-Certified Address Cleaning, Parsing (Splitting)
- USPS NCOA Processing, Duplicate Record Removal (AKA: “De-Dupe” or “Purge”), Data Standardization & Reformat
Finally, make sure you’re using the tools of the 21st century in your marketing practices today and have retired the shotgun approach of the 80s. This is a period of refinement, not excess.
Paper or plastic? Both are possible with direct mail.
First Class,standard class, or Fed X? Again all three and more are possible with direct mail, which is scalable to your budget depending on the overall strategy and of course the budget.
In the July 2011 issue of Journal of Marketing, the results of a research project on multi-channel marketing (telephone calls, email, direct mail) for the service department of a large auto dealership was reported. Research found that customers accepted about twice as much direct mail, compared to phone calls and email, before spending levels started to decrease. The researchers hypothesized that “customers view physical mail as less intrusive than telephone calls or email—they can view such messages at their own convenience.”
We’ve pulled these facts that show direct mail is alive and being ripped open and read despite all the hype about consumers clicking and tweeting away on their digital devices instead:
- 61% of consumers prefer direct mail over other types of direct marketing
- 85% – say they open, sort, process and read selected pieces from their mail everyday. 15% let it accumulate unopened for 2 or more days
- 75% of consumers say they are examining their mail more closely in recent months for coupons and special offers that save them money
- 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct mail from that business
- 70% report renewing a relationship with a business they previously ceased patronizing, as a result of receiving direct mail from the business inviting them back
SOURCE: DMNews Survey Conducted by Pitney Bowes, 2008
It’s funny, and a reminder of staying power, to look back on some of our modern day advancements. Below are five examples of products that have become obsolete and five that have stood the test of time, including direct mail which has been around since at least 1872.
|Stood Test of Time|
|Beepers or Pagers||Newspapers (since 1620)|
|Car phones. Land Lines||Direct Mail (since 1872 with Montgomery Ward catalogs)|
|Camera Film||Ice Cream Trucks (1936)|
|Printed Yellow Page Directories||Parades (1924 with Macy’s Thanksgiving parade)|
|Records, VHS, CD players||Town Hall Meetings (since 1633)|
Perhaps direct mail’s staying power and sales-conversation impact is why direct mail is Google’s best-kept marketing secret. Yes the king of online, mails for sales. It regularly mails to business people to sign up new customers for its PPC (pay for click) program.
So harness the power of direct mail in 2012. It’s the best-kept secret for companies who are surveying, fundraising, launching, re-launching, expanding, moving, publishing, cataloging, and staying relevant and in the black in their business sector today.
Develop. Implement. Learn. Repeat… At Mail Print, everyday we learn from and refine our marketing processes. Back in October 2010, we posted a blog entitled “9 Ways to Decrease Direct Mail Spending While Improving Results.” Now, we have increased that list to 10 ways.
Here are 10 ways to improve both sides of the ROI equation with your direct mail campaigns:
- Clear out the Non-Responsive: Determine what deems someone non-responsive, and stop mailing when it is clear they are not going to respond.
- Segment Your Lists: Segment and target audiences on macro and micro levels. You don’t have to mail to everyone to be highly impactful.
- Personalize Your Message: Speak to specific audiences on a micro level. The more relevant your communications, the sooner you’ll see results or be able to deem recipients non-responsive.
- Test, Test, Test: Test the effectiveness of your message, offer and list on a smaller audience before deploying on a large scale. For example, direct marketers often send new messaging, creative or offers to 10% of their list first, measuring the results against the control or other versions of the marketing piece. Once a winner has been determined, the most effective version is sent to the entire audience.
- Automate: Print Automation and Marketing Automation technology allows you to increase your speed to market and decrease the cost spent to deploy each campaign. Auto-triggered campaigns can also be used to respond to prospect and customer actions with timely, relevant mail touches.
- Clean Your Data: Conduct a thorough data-cleansing of your house and purchased lists to eliminate duplicate, outdated or incomplete data. You’ll mail less, more accurately and improve your ROI.
- Use Your Returns: Do something with returned mail. This seems simplistic, but the tendency is to ignore returned mail and not update the database. Create a process so this is always done.
- Go Multi-Channel: Incorporate non-paper-based mediums such as email, text messaging, and online landing pages with your direct mail campaigns to increase engagement and reduce cost-per-touch.
- Pair Email and Mail: Utilize direct mail to keep email as a main communication method by mailing only to bounces, unsubscribes and consistent non-openers with the goal of determining why they are not engage via email. (Email: BFF blog MP.com/EmailsBFF)
- Honor Your Audience’s Preference: Eliminate people from your list who do not wish to receive mail by utilizing the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. Learn more at https://www.dmachoice.org
Building a Plan for Reducing Your Direct Mail Costs
One of the biggest challenges to achieving the ten points above is not having a plan. Without a plan, marketers shoot from the hip and hope they get it right. And while that works occasionally, if you want something that controls cost and works consistently, start with a plan.
Last Week we discussed the results from a CMO Council Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimal Marketing Supply Chain“. This overview pointed out four key actions marketers could take to Obliterating Obsolescence:
- Leverage Digital Printing Strategies
- Cross Functional Collaboration
- Go-Green to Gain-Green
- Bringing in the Big Marketing Supply Chain Brains
While those are basic strategies any business can employ, we also know that before going down that path it makes sense to do some straightforward self assessment. Spend some time with the questions below and answer openly and honestly. As a marketing leader you are always looking for ways to ensure your organization gets better and better.
Marketing Operations Self-Assessment
- What inventoried items have become obsolete? Why?
- What regular processes do members of your marketing team do that are wastes of time and skill set?
- If you could change the way you buy ads, deploy email, manage printed materials, trigger direct mail, hire talent, create copy, or plan your next move, what would that look like?
- How could you streamline your workday?
- What marketing processes have failed in the past?
- Do you ever cross your fingers, hope, and pray that nothing goes wrong when deploying a campaign? If the answer is yes, it goes on the list.
- Would it improve your results if marketing campaigns could be deployed faster? If so, what does an ideal timeframe look like?
- Is the work flow in your department planned, or hap-hazard? How about between departments?
- What have you done more than twice this week?
- If you could waive your magic wand and have everything in your marketing department run smoothly and perfectly what would it look like? What technology would be in place? What people would you have on your team? What results would you be reporting to your superiors?
I personally love question #10. Question #10 allows you to create the perfect world and once you can envision that world you can start to impact the day to day reality. Spend lots of time on #10. Create a real vision for what you can do and start chipping away.
My daddy always said if you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t really matter what road you take. Question #10 is where you are going AND what road you will take depends on your resources and how you answered questions 1-9.
Now comes the challenging part. If you aren’t sure what your answer would be to #10, call us. At Mail Print we have helped many companies realize great results implementing new marketing technologies and procedures that they didn’t even know were possible. Read below about a nationally known, multi-million dollar company that has utilized a Marketing Asset Management system to unify their marketing message and cut-out obsolescence.
Ferrellgas, a Fortune 1000 energy provider, needed to manage marketing for their 900-plus locations more quickly and efficiently. In addition, they needed to increase the speed of their direct mail marketing production to ensure their time-sensitive messaging reached customers on time. Learn how Mail Print’s Marketing Communications Portal helped Ferrellgas reduce management time by 300 hours per month and speed production times from 10 days to 24 hours.
As the economy shows signs of shifting in a more positive direction, many companies are revisiting direct marketing programs that were profitable years ago, but were cut during the height of the recession to reduce marketing budgets. Contrary to the boom years, most marketers are cost cautious these days when setting up programs. We are willing to try new things, or revisit the old, but not in the same way as the past.
As marketing practitioners, our fresh focus on marketing operations, marketing procurement and the marketing supply chain, have made us better business people and I contend, more successful marketers from an ROI perspective.
Print Automation is Less Sexy Than Email Automation, But Far Richer in Opportunity for Cost Reduction
Print automation is a fairly new term in the industry and a clear success story for early adopters. Some would label print automation simply as traditional print and direct mail, but with cost saving enhancements related to how print can be procured and deployed. Marketing automation, a much more widely used and accepted term, is related, but most often focuses only on email automation and never sees the full deployment and integration of print into the marketing automation mix. Although this article focuses solely on educating business leaders on print automation, full marketing automation that incorporates all channels, is the ultimate aspiration.
Want to learn what the print automation buzz is about? Watch this video to see how you can implement a print automation strategy in your company. It includes three real-life stories to help you determine if your print and direct mail is poised for a move to automation:
This is a guest post by Lorrie Bryan, a writer and public relations professional based in Atlanta.
Today, smart companies understand how to leverage the inherent value of traditional print with Internet technology. The old adage says, “Work smarter, not harder.” Today’s print (we’re calling it Print 2.0) melds the virtues and value of traditional print with the intelligence and efficiency derived from digital technology to create smarter integrated marketing. Here are the critical success factors to put marketing Print 2.0 to work for you:
1. Know your customer.
Successful marketing with old-fashioned print ads or high-tech QR codes begins with a thorough understanding of the person you are trying to engage. “Know how they behave, know them inside and out,” says Jonathan Turitz, creative director at VSA Partners, a premier graphic design and brand strategy consultancy. “All media is being tested in today’s world. Because we are so inundated with information, everyone is working harder to be heard. The key is to be smarter.”
2. Make your message as relevant as possible.
Since there is a proven correlation between the relevance of the message and the response rate, more and more direct mail pieces are utilizing variable data printing (VDP) technology for personalization, versioning and customization. “The per-piece cost for VDP is higher,” notes Cooper. “But the higher response rates are causing marketers to think about the cost of printing differently. They stop thinking about the cost per piece and start thinking about the cost per response. Variable data printing costs more per piece but each piece can be significantly more relevant. Increased relevance means greater response and ultimately that leads to a greater return on investment.”
>> Want to learn more about how you can use variable data? Watch this video on advanced variable data marketing, which includes three case studies.
3. Use print in tandem with other marketing channels.
Although Internet ads strive to be relevant, they are frequently perceived as intrusive, and many Web users tend to ignore them. Many unsolicited e-mails are sent straight to the spam file. A multi-channel approach to marketing has the best chance of being successful.
Dr. John Leininger, professor of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, says he tells his graphic communications students they should reach out to their clients in a variety of ways utilizing print as an integral element of a multi-channel campaign along with PURLs, QR Codes and e-mail. “By mixing the message across different media you increase the likelihood that the recipient will see the message. Many studies have shown that direct mail combined with cross-media in a multichannel campaign produces higher response rates.”
4. Utilize digital tracking technology to optimize content.
Not only are multi-touch campaigns more effective, they have the potential to increase efficiency and significantly reduce marketing spending by tracking responses and refining databases. Referred to as “print with intelligence built in,” PURLS and QR codes help segment prospects appropriately so that marketing strategy can be more specifically tailored and communication can be further personalized.
>> For more information, check out Creating Trackable QR Codes.
5. Reduce cost by utilizing interactive marketing storefronts and print automation.
“It can all be automated,” Leininger says. Unlike mass mailings and generic blasts, automation programs offer tailored efficiency. All types of direct marketing touches: postcards, e-mails, PURLs, and text messages can be personalized and sent at designated time intervals based on predetermined parameters. Online ordering systems streamline this process for small marketing departments, as well as for large companies with distributed locations and sales forces.
The integration of marketing strategies and the evolution of print technology have led to the evolution of print, the emergence of Print 2.0.
>> How is your company taking advantage of Print 2.0? Please share your insights by commenting on this post.