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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Plant a Seed with Catalogs, and Watch Your Business Grow

Catalogs still work -- and help sell $ billions online by creating interest and awareness. And they are cheap because the print marketplace for catalogs is brutally competitive right now.

While online ordering is a must-have for many businesses, a printed catalog can provide a great supplemental marketing tool for your website. Many people still prefer perusing catalogs at their leisure without being connected to a computer. For these customers, a printed catalog provides increased exposure to a wider variety of products. In addition, catalogs can be easily shared with others and offer staying power...with a message that can be seen again and again.

Here are a few tips for creating a printed catalog that will do the selling for you:
  • Include a mix of customer testimonials that give readers a more consumer-centric look at your products.

  • "Tell your story" by including background information about your business and the history of your products.

  • Cross-sell complementary products through suggestions in the product copy, call-outs, or the placement of companion products together.

  • Feature best-selling products in the upper right-hand corner, where the eye is naturally drawn when flipping through a catalog.

  • Think small. If you have a frequently changing product line, consider a mini catalog booklet that offers a brief overview of your product line with colorful product photos to pique interest. Refer readers to your website for an extended product line or more in-depth information.

  • Include an order form. While few customers mail in their order, many will use it to organize their orders before ordering online or calling.

  • Include seasonal inserts that can be easily updated for relevant sales and offers.
Remember, the more information customers have about your products, the more confident and satisfied they'll feel with their purchasing decisions.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tips to Wow Prospects at Trade Shows

Trade shows are a proven way to showcase your company's products and services, but it can be challenging to stand apart in what can seem like a never-ending sea of booths. Here are a few tips to ensure your company gets noticed before, during, and after the event:
  • Send teaser pre-show mailers that encourage prospects to visit your booth. Include a raffle ticket for a giveaway, promote a prize drawing, or encourage recipients to stop by your booth for a free giveaway item.

  • Attract the RIGHT people to your booth with a fish bowl drawing that gets you qualified sales leads. An iPad will attract anybody and everybody but a drawing for some of your product gets you a lead for someone that wants what you are selling.

  • Does a total stranger to your firm understand who you are and what you do as they walk by your booth -- in less than a second? If not -- do a redesign. If you need help designing the right booth that builds your brand and makes folks "get it" as they walk by -- we can help.

  • Consider a theme for your booth, such as a Hawaiian theme, coffee shop theme, or sports-related theme. If you don't want to go the theme route, simply wear attire that is appropriate for the products you're selling. For example, if you sell ski equipment, you could dress in ski apparel and offer visitors hot cocoa and free demos.

  • Attract visitors with a delicious treat they can't resist, such as homemade cookies, cupcakes, ice cream bars, cinnamon rolls, or even full-size candy bars wrapped with your marketing message. This builds traffic so be prepared to qualify visitors with some conversation to get leads.

  • In addition to having a widescreen display that offers engaging, informative content, videos, and product highlights, remember that print materials (including business cards, brochures, and flyers) are a must for ensuring visitors will remember you after they walk away.

  • Use a spotlight to draw attention to a new item or promote a "show special" or "best seller" item. Consider offering a significant discount for placing an order during or within a few days of the event, and have promotional flyers ready to pass out detailing any exclusive offers you provide.

  • Be on the ball when mailing follow-up information. If you're on the road, email someone at the office daily with requests to send info packets immediately.

  • Consider sending a lumpy mailer shortly after the event that includes a thank you card or flyer featuring a photo of you and/or your booth (to spark memory), a small promotional item, and a sample or trial offer of your product. You may also wish to promote an extension to any exclusive offers you marketed at the event.
Let us know if we can help you create stunning marketing materials that will not only spread the word but also help turn prospects into customers!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Help Your Sales Increase with Flyers

Flyers are a very flexible, cost-effective, and efficient way to spread the word about your company, promote or introduce your products, announce special price promotions and events, or simply educate your audience. They can be in color or black and white -- the message gets read. Here are a few ways to increase sales by maximizing the use of marketing flyers:
  • Add a flyer to every mailing that leaves your office. Include them with bills, information requests, and marketing campaigns.

  • Fold your flyer, affix a label or seal, and send it as a self-mailer to your marketing database.

  • Hand flyers out at trade shows, promotional events, and other industry-related affairs, not only at your booth, but also while walking around and visiting.

  • Post a flyer on community bulletin boards, such as those found at laundromats, gyms, apartment complexes, senior centers, public libraries, local schools or college campuses, grocery stores, and the like.

  • Check with local newspapers or magazines to learn their policy and costs for including flyers as a marketing insert.

  • Ask other local businesses such as cafes, auto body shops, salons, clinics, and bookstores if you can leave some flyers in their waiting/reading area.

  • Consider hiring high school students to pass them out door to door or to local businesses.
If you'd like help creating eye-catching flyers that get noticed and produce results, drop us a line.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Educated Customers Are Your Best Customers

One of the biggest marketing mistakes many businesses make is failing to educate buyers about the unique advantages of their products and services, as well as their industry in general. Educated customers are not only more satisfied with their purchasing choices, but they are also more likely to share their wealth of information and tips with other information-savvy buyers. Here are a few ways to increase sales by educating your audience:
  • Educate about pricing. If you're offering a special discounted price because you purchased in volume, let your customers know, so they understand why your prices aren't always so low. The same is true if your prices are higher than the competition -- explain that your products are of a higher quality, that your warranty is longer, or whatever other reasons you might have.

  • Offer information on industry trends, developments, and new products via newsletters, blogs, social media posts, and the like. Provide webcasts, seminars, and guest speaking engagements at area events. Recommend helpful industry resources, such as books, magazines, and blogs.

  • Use your background or experience to become involved in industry forums, where you can share your enthusiasm and knowledge. Offer valuable contributions, such as useful answers or tips that demonstrate your expertise. Back up your information with trusted sources.

  • Provide reasons why you do business with select manufacturers or vendors, such as if they provide unbeatable quality, industry-leading warranties, or have been a dependable partner for several years.

  • Offer a comparative analysis of your products versus the competition. Define the differences between your company and the competition with factual, credible information. Back it up with customer testimonials and references.

  • Consider using on-hold messaging to educate and inform callers while they wait on the phone. This brief time slot offers a perfect opportunity to tell your audience something they may not know.

  • Include educational content on your website, such as a "tips" section, an archive of blogs, e-newsletters, a glossary of industry terms, or other types of industry resources.
The more you can teach someone something they don't already know, the more they will trust you and gravitate toward you as an expert in your field. If you'd like help creating marketing materials that will not only impress but also educate your audience, give us a call.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Six Tips for Strengthening Your Value Proposition

Anyone who's spent time in sales knows that the buying process often boils down to one or two key questions: Why should I buy what you're selling? And why should I buy it from you? A well-conceived value proposition or "Unique Selling Proposition" will go a long way toward answering those questions.

But what is a value proposition? Simply stated, a value proposition is a brief statement that clearly outlines the benefits customers get from using your products and doing business with your company. It cuts through all the noise and focuses squarely on the customer and their needs. It makes the prospect understand INSTANTLY what makes your firm the best choice.

So how can you create an effective value proposition? Here are six tips to get you started.

Get to know your customers. What makes them tick? What principles do they value? What challenges do they face? And how can your product or service help them reach their goals?

Study the competition. Start with their website, product line, and marketing literature. Visit their facility, meet their staff, and talk to their customers. Learn how they're positioning themselves and what you can do to counteract their claims.

Discover what makes you different. Take some time to assess your own company. Look at your culture, values, and product line. Ask your top customers why they buy from you. Get input from your employees, too. Find out what's unique about your company -- and how those qualities can benefit your customers.

Focus on benefits instead of features. Benefits tend to be more customer-focused, while features can seem self-absorbed. If your value proposition doesn't tell your customers what's in it for them, keep trying.

Be specific. Avoid the temptation to talk in generalities. Consider Geico's "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance" versus a more generic "we'll save you time and money." Both may be true, but the first is far more specific.

Make it tangible. What real-world results can people expect from your products or services? Will they save time? Cut expenses? Improve efficiency? Increase revenues? Include the answers in your value proposition.

There you have it: six tips for strengthening your value proposition. Can you think of any others? Or maybe you'd like to share a favorite value proposition (your own, perhaps?). Whatever the case, we'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Does Your Marketing Need a Workout?

A successful marketing strategy often resembles the five steps of an exercise plan. And just like exercising, finding the motivation to get started is often the hardest part. Here are a few tips to help you give your marketing plan a workout:
  1. Follow a regular schedule. Remember that erratic actions will not bring results. Just as an occasional jog will not make you fit, marketing requires a regular, ongoing schedule.

  2. Exercise all your muscle groups. Like fitness plans which incorporate several variables, including diet, aerobic exercise, and strength training, successful marketing plans should also include several well-balanced strategies working together. Just as everyone's body is different, every company should have a customized combination of print marketing, social media, online/web marketing, e-newsletters, and the like to meet their specific needs.

  3. 3.Don't overdo it in the beginning! Too much exercise can exhaust you and cause your muscles pain, making it hard to think about exercising again. An overkill on marketing can have the same result. Start slow, then build momentum and strength gradually as you develop your plan of attack.

  4. Maintenance is key. Don't let your firm's marketing efforts turn flabby with a lack of follow-up actions. Regardless how popular your brand becomes, ongoing marketing is essential to keep your name at the top.

  5. Look to professionals if help is needed. Our creative team is available and eager to help you develop marketing materials your customers are sure to love. Give us a call today!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Create a SWOT Marketing Campaign

It's important to understand how your business compares to your competition, especially when marketing your products or services. By creating a SWOT analysis, you can gain helpful insight to your business success. And threats for failure...

A SWOT analysis focuses on your company's internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats that may impact your business. By recognizing both positive and negative factors that affect your business, you can take an objective look at your business and use the results to improve your marketing messages. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when creating your SWOT analysis:
  • Strengths refer to what your company does well. List all positive attributes and advantages you have over your competition, such as an industry-leading warranty, in-house support staff, outstanding reputation, or established customer base.

  • Weaknesses include areas you need to improve in order to better compete. Examples might include high pricing, inferior products, limited resources, poor location, and so forth. An outside viewpoint of your company's weaknesses can be very valuable, since company perceptions lack the customer perspective.

  • Opportunities refer to external chances for your business to grow and prosper. Opportunities typically occur when markets grow, demand for products increases, or you're able to provide new solutions to a common problem.

  • Threats include external factors beyond your control, such as consumer trends, technological developments, business mergers, government regulations, political decisions, economic downturns, the like. While many things could threaten your business, give most consideration to items with a greater probability of occurring.
After completing your SWOT analysis, you should not only make a plan to reduce your weaknesses (either by minimizing the risk they represent or making changes to overcome them), but you should also ensure your marketing materials highlight your strengths to their full potential. If you need help upgrading your print materials, give our creative team a call today.