Follow by Email

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Keeping Your Resolutions in Life and in Marketing

With the new year upon us, it is once again time to consider resolutions for the coming year. Unfortunately, most of us have a far easier time making resolutions than keeping them. Genuine lifestyle changes are difficult to achieve. If you're planning to make radical shifts in your daily life, consider the following:

Bite off small chunks

If you haven't run in more than 30 years and are 40 pounds overweight, it's not reasonable to say you'll run a marathon by spring. Instead, set a goal of completing a mile a day for a certain number of weeks, then slowly increase your distance. Trying to get too much done too quickly can lead to burnout and discourage you from continuing.

Make the goals reasonable

A person who's just learning to cook might never win a "top chef" competition, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to successfully cook a full Thanksgiving dinner. Set goals that are difficult enough to provide motivation and challenge, but make sure they're also realistic and attainable.

This same advice applies to your business

Starting a business is tough. Countless seminars and classes make it sound as though doing X, Y, and Z will have you raking in millions in just a few months. While there might be a genius entrepreneur somewhere for whom that's true, for the vast majority of new business owners, it is not.

Instead, look at the advice given above, and find ways to apply the same philosophy to your business. Like an out-of-shape person starting to run, you need to take it slowly at first. A new business typically cannot expect to clear hundreds of thousands of dollars per month in profit. Instead, your goal might be just to break even the first few months, and then slowly start generating profit after that.

Also, give your books and prospects an honest look. Set realistic expectations for the next quarter and year. Creating progressive goals will give you something to celebrate when you attain those milestones and encourage you to keep moving forward, on track.

This way of thinking applies to more than just goals. It can be equally useful in other aspects of your business, such as marketing. When you hear about a new marketing idea with great potential, take the time to develop your strategy and tackle it in stages. This more tempered approach will keep you moving in the right direction without becoming overwhelmed.

We've all failed at some point with our New Year's resolutions. Those who genuinely want to succeed understand that they must set reasonable goals to avoid biting off more than they can chew. The same idea applies to running a business. Here's to a successful 2015 for you and your company.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How Does Email Fit Into a Modern Marketing Strategy?

Yes, even us ink-on-paper folks do some email marketing.

Given that most people despise spam email, it can be difficult to see how email can fit into a successful marketing strategy. Isn't blasting potential customers with email part of the old, outdated marketing system that's now viewed as ineffective?

Yes, and no.

Yes -- when you send potential customers unsolicited emails, especially using email lists you purchase from a provider.

No -- when your email messages are used purposefully as a means of initiating conversation with your leads and helping them along the sales process.

The truth is that more than 3/4 of your customers prefer to receive marketing communications by email compared to other methods. It's also true that 95 percent of online customers use email, with the vast majority of them checking their email at least once a day. When used properly, email can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with your customers reliably and consistently. Here's what you should keep in mind to make sure you're getting the most from your emails.

Make sure everyone wants to be on the email list.

The first step to using email effectively is to ensure that everyone actually wants to be on your email list. This means no list purchasing and no generating email lists from random people. Your email lists should be comprised of people who have voluntarily given you their email address. You can use your landing pages, sign ups, and past customers to generate much more effective email lists. Such lists will have a much higher open rate than a randomly generated list. Your messages will be less likely to be marked as spam, and you'll generate a higher conversion rate.

Use email to cultivate leads.

Email is a fantastic tool for taking people who have shown at least a passing interest in your brand and moving them further along the conversion process. Start by creating an e-newsletter comprised of helpful, relevant information designed to help people no matter where they are in the buyer's journey. This will remind customers of the value you have to offer. As an added bonus, when you produce content that people like to share, you can generate even more leads. When people receive information about a company from a person they trust, they're more likely to trust the company themselves.

Use email to stay in touch.

Email is also a great medium for staying in touch with people. Got any past customers you haven't heard from in a while? Reach out to them with an email asking how you can help them reach their goals. How about people who have visited your pricing page but didn't make a purchase? Email them to find out if they have any more questions about your products or services.

Email can even be helpful for taking an interested, sales-ready lead to the final step. After making your sales calls, follow up with emails. By opening multiple lines of communication, you're making it as easy as possible for your customers to contact you.

Spam email has long passed its effectiveness as a marketing tool, much to the relief of everyone. But that doesn't mean email itself is obsolete. Using email effectively in conjunction with the rest of your marketing efforts can be an excellent way to cultivate more leads and bring your company the growth you seek.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Know Who You're Talking To?

When you sit down to develop marketing materials, you know you're trying to reach potential clients. If you're unclear who that might be, however, you could find yourself wasting time, energy, and money. Taking the time to develop your official 'buyer persona' can make the task of figuring out how to reach these potential clients significantly easier.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is basically your ideal client. It's a profile you develop based on the type of client you're trying to attract. This profile includes information about gender, lifestyle, income level, where your ideal clients work, and what jobs they perform. It also contains critical information about what types of problems they face at work and how your company can solve them. A buyer persona might look something like this:

Marketing Mike is working to lead his marketing team for his small business. He's in his late 20s or early 30s and makes about $80,000 a year. Mike is struggling to make his superiors realize the importance of marketing because they're threatening budget cuts to his department.

For a company that focuses on helping clients maximize their marketing efforts while minimizing costs, this buyer persona could provide the critical insight they need to reach Mike and help solve his problem.

How do you develop your buyer personas?

Buyer personas provide the basis for all your marketing efforts, so it's critical to develop them on solid evidence and not just who you 'think' would be interested in your product or service. Begin by speaking with your existing clients. Get a feel for who they are and what has brought them to you. Complement this information with some research about the industry, the market, and who is typically using services like those you provide.

As you begin to compile these different sources of information, you should start to see some patterns develop. Use these patterns to begin grouping clients into a few different buyer personas. It's critical that you always seek to learn the 'why' behind the 'what' as you do your research. It's not enough to know that Marketing Mike wants to find a more affordable way to market. Understanding the motivation behind his drive is what will help you effectively reach him.

How to use your buyer personas

Once you've established your buyer personas, they'll run your marketing campaign. You'll develop content that speaks to the questions and problems your personas are facing. You'll create promotions and attention-grabbers oriented toward these specific people.

Buyer personas give you the additional edge of a targeted approach. No company can be everything for everyone. By developing buyer personas, you'll know exactly who you're trying to reach. You'll have a clear goal and a much better chance of reaching the people who are most likely to buy from you.

A successful marketing campaign means reaching your potential clients and making your company's value to them clear. That task becomes much easier when you know exactly who you're talking to. Develop your buyer personas to refine your marketing strategy, and you'll find your chances for a successful campaign improve drastically. If you're ready to start refining your marketing strategy, contact us today.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Make Magic Happen with Aligned Sales and Marketing Teams

When your sales and marketing teams work together and are aligned in their goals and strategies, amazing things can happen for your organization. Studies have shown that companies with marketing teams and sales teams that work well together see as much as a 20 percent increase in annual revenue growth, and no one can afford to ignore that opportunity.

Unfortunately, obtaining that level of cooperation can be a challenge. With a few internal changes and a concentrated effort at aligning these two teams, however, it is possible to bring everyone together.

Begin by establishing definitions

Written, thought-out definitions can be your savior. They give everyone a concrete idea to look back upon and reduce the potential for miscommunication or misperceptions. Here are a few definitions that everyone in marketing and sales should agree upon.

  • What is a quality lead?

  • What will sales do when they receive a quality lead?

  • What level of communication will be expected between the teams?

  • What are the goals for each team?

  • What is the process of handing off a lead from one team to the other, and when should it happen?

Once you've established these definitions, it will be easier to see what each group is working toward and when they're successful. You'll then be able to determine common goals, such as the number of leads expected from the marketing team and how the sales team will handle each opportunity.

Enhance visibility and transparency

When each team can clearly see what the other is working on and whether or not they're reaching their goals, they'll gain a better appreciation for the role both teams play in growing revenue for the company.

To improve visibility and transparency, communication and data are key. Like definitions, data gives concrete facts that everyone can consult and reduces the risk of misunderstandings and resentment. There are several ways to produce quality data reports:

  • Analyze where leads are coming from and how each marketing source is performing.

  • Have marketing team members include highlights of their interactions with leads (such as what content was downloaded), so the sales team can better capitalize on those opportunities.

  • Have sales team members report their communication efforts with leads and results.

Another important measure of visibility is simply to meet together. Gather your two teams together for regular meetings to discuss goals, outcomes, shortcomings, and plans for improvement. These meetings will help to clear the air and get everyone on the same page.

If your marketing and sales teams are too big, consider having occasional meetings with everyone and regular meetings with just marketing and sales leaders. During these meetings, the data will provide you with plenty of conversation topics. Celebrate each other's accomplishments, but if revenue goals are not being met, make sure both teams are transparent about their plans to make improvements.

Aligning your sales and marketing teams can have a wonderful impact on your bottom line, as well as the overall feelings of cooperation among your employees. With a potential 20 percent growth in revenue on the line, the effort is well worth it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Is Traditional Outbound Marketing Dead?

For those who like to believe all the hype, it's easy to think that outbound marketing is dead. After all, it's rare to hear about marketing experts extolling the importance of direct mail. Instead, they're usually talking about website conversion rates and developing content that will appeal to the reader. Don't fall into this trap.

While outbound marketing has lost some of its glamour in recent years, it remains as viable as ever in today's digital world. It's role has just changed. Understanding those changes and how to integrate outbound marketing with your inbound efforts is a challenge well worth undertaking.

How the role of outbound marketing has changed

Before the digital era, outbound marketing was the primary means of finding new customers. Everyone in sales remembers doing 'cold calls,' which basically involve picking up a phone and trying to convince someone new to buy a product or service. Often, that phone call represented the first real contact between the company and the prospective customer. In other cases, cold calls were used to follow up on a direct mail campaign.

While cold calls are still necessary in some circumstances, the whole idea of just reaching out randomly, blindly, trying to find new prospects has largely gone by the wayside. Such practices are now more often used to complement inbound and other outbound marketing efforts.

For example, say your marketing team has been running an online promotion that allows people to start a free trial of your service from your website. After the free trial is over, many customers decide to continue, but others don't register for the paid version. This is where a follow-up phone call or email can help. When contacting these prospects, ask them about their experience and what in particular might be preventing them from making a purchase. This kind of outbound marketing follow-up can provide you with valuable feedback and help convert more leads into paying customers.

Similarly, when customers complain or compliment your company on social media, use the opportunity not only to address their concerns right away with an immediate follow-up, but also to provide a tangible means of letting them know you appreciate what they have to say (good and bad). Once you've done what you can to alleviate any issues your customer has raised, follow up with special coupons and a thank you note. This simple gesture can help reinforce to a disgruntled customer how much you really care, while at the same time encouraging those who offer compliments to keep spreading the word about your company.

As inbound marketing continues to change the way many of us communicate with our customers, we must be careful to avoid thinking that outbound marketing is dead. It's not. But its role is changing and will continue to evolve in the future. Understanding the new role outbound marketing plays can help all of us adapt our efforts and get the most from our marketing campaigns.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What the Cola Wars Can Teach About Marketing

Splash! Imagine you are walking down the street and see a group of people trying to get volunteers for a taste testing. In the cups before them they have two identical-looking colas. They ask you to try both cups and pick which one you prefer. You will then need to try and identify which is Coke and which is Pepsi.

Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Do you think you would actually pick the flavor you usually drink (in other words, if you usually drink Coke, would you actually select that one as your favorite)?

Shockingly, many people don't. A number of different experiments have shown that many people are unable to correctly identify which cola is which. Even more surprisingly, in double blind taste tests, Pepsi often wins. It was this phenomenon that led to Pepsi steadily encroaching upon Coca-Cola's lead in the market in the 1970s and 1980s. In an effort to win back customers, Coca-Cola introduced the debacle that was New Coke. The new formula was quickly rejected by consumers, and the company worked to gain back the trust of their loyal customers.

Coca-Cola managed to transition out of their problematic campaign and back to their original formula, but this left them in an interesting position. They still used the original formula, which customers said they wanted, but this formula was the one that often lost to Pepsi in taste tests. In the twenty years since this fiasco, Coca-Cola still manages to lead the market and has been holding steady.

According to what many people view as the unwritten rules of marketing, this should not be happening. Coke has two major points working against it.

  1. Coke's formula is often deemed inferior by the consumer base in taste tests.

  2. The company completely alienated much of its loyal consumer base when it introduced New Coke without adequate market research.



Yet somehow Coca-Cola remains ahead.

Understanding why this happened and what companies today can learn from it can help you revolutionize your advertising campaigns.

Branding

Coca-Cola's advertising works to develop a certain mentality in us. When we see the brand's familiar script logo, we connect to the company's rich history. We see small children walking up to drugstore counters to buy a Coke. We also connect with the company's familiar advertising icons (its polar bears, for example) that are often featured in various advertising campaigns. Of course, Coca-Cola's friendship ads help us feel connected to other Coke drinkers around the globe, as well.

The key here is the brand. Coca-Cola is now an iconic brand. It has become such a staple in our culture that in some regions, the word 'Coke' is used to mean any soft drink.

So what are you doing to develop your brand? Creating and maintaining a strong brand should be at the center of all your marketing. Customers make decisions based on the subconscious associations they develop between a company's brand and its intangibles, including its quality, reliability, and history. Successful marketing helps to encourage positive associations in consumers' minds.

Thinking about the entire customer experience

Taste tests often show that Pepsi is the preferred brand, especially considering it is slightly sweeter. While this might be better for short-term tastes, many people drink soft drinks in vast quantities. They don't just drink a sip or two. They drink large bottles. Given the entire customer experience, it's easier to see why the slightly sweeter brand seems to be less preferred in the long run.

Branding and considering the entire customer experience have both had an enormous impact on Coca-Cola's ability to hold onto its lead over Pepsi, despite taste tests and marketing troubles. When you keep these criteria in mind for your company, you'll also be able to boost your success. So grab a soft drink, sit down, and work with us to begin determining how you can better market your company.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Nurturing Leads from Every Angle

When it comes to successfully nurturing leads from your marketing efforts, you already know you need to stay on top of email with potential clients. Email is a great way to stay in touch with customers, reach out to them periodically to see if they're ready to buy, and even just remind them about your company. While email is undoubtedly a useful tool in the world of marketing, it isn't the only way to successfully turn a lead into a sale. Here are a few other tools you should keep handy as you work to nurture new leads.

Understand who your customers are and where they are in their purchase journey. Then use that information appropriately.

A buyer's journey includes all the research and decision-making steps they take as they prepare to buy a product. Some customers are just starting out. They're looking for general information about their options and what factors they should be considering. Other buyers have narrowed down their search to just a few options and are looking to be convinced why one is superior to another. Still others are just about to make a purchase but just want to verify the product information. Understanding the buyer persona and where people are in the buying process will allow you to create targeted ads, messages, and content for customers at every step of the journey, increasing the odds they'll make a purchase.

Make sure your website makes it easy for customers to move through the buying process.

Your website should be designed to encourage people to move through the sales funnel, exciting them about your products and making them eager to complete the transaction. Personalization is a fantastic way to accomplish this. Have your website greet people by name, especially if they've visited before.

Use retargeting ads

Retargeting ads can be extremely helpful for bringing customers back to your website, especially if they've left items in your site's shopping cart. Customers have a tendency to visit pages while they're doing research, but then leave the page because they're not ready to make a purchase yet. Retargeting ads can help bring customers back to the page and remind them about your products and why they're superior. Even better, have your page remember the customer the next time they return. Remember what items they looked at or what they seemed interested in. Customers will appreciate the extra effort and the added ease in finding what they're looking for.

Make the most of social media

Keep an eye on social media for mentions of your company. This will alert you to customers considering your company or investigating your industry. You can then swoop in and make contact as they're beginning their search. Social media is also a great tool for remaining in contact with potential buyers and past buyers. Like people's status updates, retweet interesting things they have to say, and generally show interest in them. It will make them see you and your company more favorably, while also helping you remain in the forefront of their mind as they prepare to make a buying decision.

Nurturing leads is critical to persuading customers who are considering a purchase. While follow-up emails certainly play a role in bringing customers to the checkout button, they're not the only factor. Use some of the ideas above, and begin improving conversion rates quickly.

Friday, July 18, 2014

You're Never Too Big (or Small) to Innovate

The business world continues to adapt at an astonishing pace. Fifteen years ago, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, and similar movie rental businesses dominated the market. Soon, however, Netflix arrived on the scene, and cable providers began offering on-demand movie options. The cost and inconvenience of having to stop at a store rather than just turning on the TV or computer meant that these once dominant businesses quickly began to lose ground. Now they're all but obsolete.

What these major corporations can teach businesses of all sizes

There are two ways you could look at the fate of Blockbuster and similar companies. You could either worry yourself sick about your own place within your industry -- or take action and learn from the mistakes these companies made. If you look closely at what happened to these corporations, it's easy to see the importance of market research, innovation, and finding ways to make life easier for your customers.

Some companies thrive at adapting to new situations. Nokia went from being a paper company to one of the largest cellphone makers. Companies like Amazon.com managed to turn entire industries upside down. These companies were able to innovate, capitalize on what appealed to their customers, and become successful.

Lessons to take away

There are two main lessons to be learned here. Don't neglect the importance of market research. Market research can help you get inside your customers' heads and determine exactly what they want that you can provide. The better you can predict the wants and needs of your customers, the more likely you are to successfully remain an industry leader. BUT...Small companies don't usually have the expertise or the budget to hire market research experts. For us little guys we need to get out of our routine -- go to trade shows, join our industry association, see what the big guys in our industry are doing. Meet with salespeople even. Swipe the best ideas and keep growing.

The second lesson is the importance of serving clients. Make it a priority to determine exactly how you can serve customers in a unique way. Customers like convenience and affordability, which is why companies like Netflix and Amazon.com thrive. Determining new ways to make your products and services accessible for customers is a wonderful way to market products and attract a following among new customers.

Before you begin any new marketing campaign, sit down and discuss how you can make your products or services more accessible for customers. Determining your unique niche is a great starting point for any marketing campaign.

Over the years, numerous companies have risen and fallen as technology and the marketplace continue to change. The companies that survive are the ones that can innovate and remain ahead of the curve in determining customer desires. Combining a client-first attitude with ongoing market research is a fantastic way to take a strong step in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Making Friends and Finding Customers: Using the Same Process to Find Both

Friends take care of friends...even business friends take care of each other

Young children tend to be relatively indiscriminate when it comes to making friends. As long as the other child is remotely interested in playing the game at hand, they tend to quickly run off together at a playground. As people grow up, however, they tend to become a little more selective when it comes to choosing friends. As we age, we look for people who share interests with us and possess a similar life outlook. When we find people who share these particular qualities, we begin to form relationships and bond with them.

Why we care about finding friends with similar interests

We seek friends who share our interests because these common touch points make it easy to find things to discuss with them. Friends who share our interests can anticipate our needs, answer our questions, and engage us in a way that people with whom we have nothing in common cannot.

Of course, these similarities don't have to revolve around particular activities. Sometimes, personality traits or beliefs will draw us to our closest friends. But in all cases, there's something we find engaging and significant in the other person when we begin to form a friendship.

Relationships with companies

For your company to be successful, you must build relationships with your potential customers. Understanding the dynamics of friendship can make this easier. Similar to the process of meeting new friends, your company must seek out potential customers who have particular characteristics that align with your buyer personas.

Just as a person seeks new friends by participating in activities they enjoy, you, must look for new potential customers in areas where those prospects tend to congregate. This might mean going to Twitter if you're trying to reach the college-age crowd or to the daily commuter newspaper to reach middle-aged commuters on the metro. Knowing where to go to meet potential customers will make an enormous difference in the success of your marketing campaign.

Once a new customer has been introduced to your company, the relationship will need to be nurtured, so it can grow. There are a number of techniques you can use here. For example, providing a regular stream of content that offers value to customers will help them grow to trust your company to answer their questions and provide them with the services they require. Compelling content will also keep bringing customers back to your website or physical place of business. The more they return and are exposed to the company brand, the more willing they will be to do business with you.

You can also build relationships with customers by encouraging camaraderie among them. When customers feel like part of an exclusive group, they tend to have greater feelings of customer loyalty and are more likely to become repeat customers.

Building friendships typically involves finding people who share particular traits in common. You naturally use those traits to build a relationship you come to rely upon and trust. Similar techniques need to be used when building a customer base. Seek people with particular characteristics that match your identified consumer personas, then work to nurture those relationships and encourage people to return time and again. If you think of finding customers like finding friends, you should have great success building a marketing campaign.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Do you know your target market? Could you know them better?

Are you preaching to the wrong choir?

While every business owner or marketing department head certainly has heard that basic rule of advertising -- know your target audience -- when was the last time you stopped to ask, "How well do I REALLY know my target audience?"

Say, for instance, you run a landscaping business. You know your target audience includes homeowners in your town. But if you take it a few steps further, you may just discover that your true target audience includes homeowners between the ages of 55 and 65 who live within a two-mile radius of the center of town and who have an annual income over $85,000. Moreover, if they are close to where you already have crews working, you can be more profitable. Sounds pretty specific, right?

The old adage "you can't please all the people all the time" certainly applies to your marketing efforts. Too many businesses try to be all things to all people, focusing on too broad a demographic. Narrowing your focus can result in a more effective use of your marketing dollars.

If you haven't taken this particular commandment to heart, it's likely affecting your marketing for the worse. Here's how to identify your true target audience.

Playing Detective

It's time to play Sherlock Holmes. Identifying your target audience involves a bit of research into demographics. Start by compiling a list of customer characteristics, including age, gender, location, income, education, occupation, ethnicity, martial status, and number of children. Now think about the last few purchases you made. How many of these factors influenced that purchase?

Narrow your focus down to the two most significant factors -- we'll call these your core factors -- and then choose up to two "secondary factors" to round out your market. You'll want to focus your research on these core and secondary factors to really get to know your target audience. Find out where they shop, what's important to them, which businesses they frequent (both online and off), and what problems they experience that your product or service can solve.

With those answers in place, it's time to delve deep into your audience and compile the data and information that make them tick. Resources for your research may include:

  • U.S. Census Bureau

  • Google Analytics

  • Facebook Insights (analytics available if your business page has at least 30 "likes")

  • Customer review sites (What other businesses are your customers patronizing on Yelp? What appeals to them?)

  • Your competitors' sites and reviews

  • Surveys or interviews with your current and past customers

  • Hosting small focus groups

Keep in mind that you're also looking for psychographic information, such as hobbies, interests, lifestyle, attitudes, and beliefs. While demographic information tells you who is most likely to buy your product or service, psychographic data tells you why they're interested.

When you're compiling the data, look for common threads that run among your customers. Do they work in similar industries or have similar hobbies? Does your product or service appeal to families with two kids or single professionals? Seeking out similarities makes it easier to target relevant customers.

Develop a Profile

Now that you've gathered your research, develop a "typical customer" profile. The goal? To create an in-depth picture of who your customer is. Your profile should contain both demographic information -- age, location, marital status, etc. -- and psychographic information -- values, attitudes, political leanings, hobbies, and the like.

Your profile will help you determine where, exactly, to find your target audience. Do they tend to live in a certain neighborhoods -- or certain streets in certain neighborhoods? Do they patronize certain businesses because those places reinforce their values? The better you understand your target customer, the more easily you can tailor your marketing materials to appeal to them.

Remember, your customer profile and your target audience aren't static. They'll evolve and change over time, and so should your approach. Determining your target audience isn't a once-and-done proposition; rather, it's an ongoing task that grows along with your business.

Plum Grove can help with a Look-Alike Analysis

The big companies have big data -- and you can tap into big data tools for not a lot of money. If you have your client list in an Excel format we can confidentially upload that client list into the data file of one of the largest list firms in the US. You get an amazing report that shows you all about your customers -- and how many other customers are out there that Look Alike to your customer. Powerful stuff.

To see a sample of what this Look-Alike report looks like contact your sales representative at Plum Grove -- or drop me an email at PeterL@plumgroveprinters.com.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Color in Advertising + Print: Are You Sending Hidden Messages?


A printed marketing piece -- whether a brochure, flyer, catalog, or letter -- contains many design components. From margin size to font, use of white space to size and type of paper, the elements that go into a printed piece require much consideration.

But when it comes to color, marketers all too often make choices based on personal preference, anecdotal evidence, or even hunches.

However, people actually devote time and effort to studying this stuff; researchers have uncovered a large body of quantitative data about the many ways color affects consumer behavior. Their findings can help inform color choices, so printed projects can better reach their intended audiences.

How Important is Color in Marketing?

In a nutshell: Very.
  • A study by the Seoul International Color Expo found that almost 93 percent of consumers said visual experience is the most important factor when it comes to purchasing. Of these, almost 85 percent listed color as the major factor. 
  • Even more impressive, a report from the Institute for Color Research notes that most consumers make a judgement about a product within 90 seconds of first seeing it and that color accounts for 62 to 90 percent of their initial impression. 

Color is also Key in Branding.

A University of Maryland study found that using a consistent color palette increased brand recognition by a whopping 80 percent! Why?!

It's all about brain chemistry; our neurocircuitry is hard-wired to respond to color. Multiple studies indicate that color significantly improves mental processing, storage, and memory. And if you're still not convinced, consider that colorful ads are read 42 percent more often than black-and-white ads. Readers also tend to spend more than twice as long lingering on a colorful ad than on a black-and-white ad.

These numbers aren't exactly ambiguous -- color matters (a lot!) when it comes to marketing. But which colors are best?


Color Choice for Intended Results


While each individual reacts to colors in their own way, research indicates there are some common themes associated with colors. In fact, certain colors actually trigger biological responses, some of which improve attention and evoke emotions.

Red: 

Studies indicate that consumers tend to associate red with attention, vigilance, excitement, stimulation, and enhanced concentration. When products are featured on a red background, readers tend to have more positive thoughts about the product if specific descriptors are used, rather than creative or evocative language.

Blue: 

In contrast, readers preferred emotive, creative descriptions for products featured on a blue background. The cool color blue tends to elicit feelings of calm, safety, and openness, which can open the door to creative expression and exploration.

YellowOrange

Like red, these warm colors evoke feelings of excitement and attention. Orange tends to be associated with extroversion and energy, while yellow is often seen as optimistic and friendly.

Green + Brown

Both green and brown are associated with nature, making these colors effective for outdoorsy, rugged, or natural products or campaigns. In addition, green is associated with security, while brown is linked to seriousness.

Pink + Purple

Pink and purple both evoke associations with femininity and sophistication. Purple also connotes luxury and authenticity. [Which is great for us at Plum Grove!]

Black: 

For the ultimate in elegance and sophistication, nothing beats black. Glamor, power, dignity, and high-fashion are all evoked by the use of black.

White: 

As the absence -- or complete reflection -- of all colors, white evokes feelings of purity, simplicity, and cleanliness. It's also associated with happiness and peace.

When choosing colors or combinations for your print ads, keep these associations in mind. Select colors that support your messaging, rather than subconsciously undermining it.

Until next time,

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Connect With Your Clients

No matter how great your product or service is -- and we know it's great -- clients still make buying decisions based on emotions. Sadly, most businesses don't strive to create that personal connection that influences buying behavior. When it comes to effective sales and marketing approaches, building relationships with customers is key. But how can you bring that all-important personal touch to every transaction and really make your business stand out?

These best practices will help you nurture personal connections with customers and build brand loyalty.

Ask First, Sell Later

Before you jump right into a standard sales pitch, take the time to ask your customers a few questions. More importantly, really listen to their answers. A bit of gentle probing will help your client articulate exactly what it is they need. That, in turn, will allow you to clearly explain exactly how your products or services will solve their problems.

This way, you're not simply pushing something that they may or may not really need or want. Instead, you're taking their unique situation into account and providing a personalized, customized solution. At the same time, you're building rapport by creating a personal interaction that's so important.

Again, really listening is key, and really caring is best. While your customer is speaking, stop what you're doing, take a breath, and simply listen. Don't attempt to think ahead and formulate answers before they're finished talking. Remain in the moment, and place your full attention on them. They'll notice the difference!

Quid Pro Quo

Keep on building that relationship by offering some personal information about yourself, too. Don't worry. You don't have to give out your Social Security number or your home address. In fact, avoid TMI at all costs. Sharing just a bit will humanize you to your customer. Talking about where you where born, a common hobby, a sports team, or even a recent movie you watched or book you read can make a real impact.

Scientific studies support this strategy. A 2009 study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that customers were more likely to buy -- and to be happy about their purchase -- when a salesperson shared personal info like a birthday or a birthplace.

But don't fake it; the study also found that creating similarities where none really exist simply to make a connection tended to backfire, especially if the customer found out later that the salesperson wasn't being forthcoming.

That Personal Touch

Sending a handwritten note or postcard is a great way to ensure that your business stands out. Handwritten communication proves beyond a doubt that you've taken the time to sit down and make an effort, which makes your customer feel valued. Try to include personalized content in each note to really make an impact.

These simple steps will help you build that human connection that's so key to driving sales and customer loyalty.

All the best,

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Honest Abe, A Cherry Tree, and Running a Successful Business



Quick! 
Name two of the most popular historic U.S. presidents. 

The first names that come to mind for most people are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. These two presidents are well known for their leadership during tumultuous times in American history. But they're also known for their place in American folklore. 

Specifically, they have both gained reputations for being exceptionally honest.

1. George Washington and the Cherry Tree
According to the popular story, young George Washington was playing with his new hatchet when he killed his father's favorite cherry tree. When his father confronted the household about who had hurt the tree, young George quickly confessed, telling his father that he could not tell a lie. His father forgave him, reinforcing the importance of his son's honesty. George Washington carried this lesson about the importance of telling the truth with him the rest of his life.


2. Honest Abe
Before Abraham Lincoln became involved in politics, he was involved in a number of businesses. He bought a small store, was a lawyer, and served in Congress. In each of these positions, he became known as 'Honest Abe.' Stories abound about young Abe returning a few cents of change or tracking down customers to complete their orders if their requests were mis-measured. He carried this reputation as a reputable businessman with him to the White House. 


Let's bring it back to the 21st Century.... What can these two men teach us today?
Many people couldn't tell you the date the American Civil War ended, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, or when George Washington died. Despite these gaps of knowledge, most people would be able to tell you that these men were known for their honesty. Why is that? Because people value honesty in their leaders. They want to be able to trust the people they elect. 

This also applies to their business leaders. When customers are looking for companies they want to work with or buy products from, they need to be able to trust that the company will provide them with the quality service they're expecting. They want to trust that the advertising they see is accurate and that if they have any kind of problem, they'll be able to get the situation addressed by a quality customer service team.


How you can show your honesty to potential customers

1. Quality Customer Service: Since we all know customers are looking for honest businesses, it's important to display this characteristic in all our dealings with customers, especially online. Social media and websites make customer service and customer opinions very public, for all potential customers to see. This makes honesty and quality customer service even more critical. 

2. Monitor and Respond: As a business leader, it's important to monitor the web for discussions about your company to see what people are saying. If customers have legitimate complaints about the quality of service they received, make sure you do everything you can to make it right. This may include issuing refunds, providing coupons, and addressing other concerns.

3. Spread Some Love: Similarly, when you come across positive reviews, it's a good idea to send notes of appreciation or coupons to encourage repeat business and as a sign of thanks. Above all, you should strive to be above reproach when it comes to honesty.

People like knowing they can trust their leaders, whether presidents or business owners. Stories abound in the collective consciousness about the honesty of some presidents in particular. When you (and your company) gain the same reputation for honesty, you can also live in the public consciousness as someone worth following; and that's how customers are gained.

Happy Wednesday!

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Keeping in Touch with Your Customers -- Without Annoying Them


In this age of email marketing it's way too easy to go too far in keeping in touch.

When you're trying to build your business, it's easy to get caught up in the thrill of the hunt -- for new clients, that is. However, as studies from the Harvard Business School show, focusing attention on existing customers and increasing retention rates by just 5% will increase your profits by 25% to 95%.

Of course, savvy business owners know there's a fine line between keeping in touch and being a bit... well... annoying.

Put yourself in your clients' shoes:

  • How many emails do you want to receive every day? 
  • How many phone calls do you want to take? 
Sure, persistence is important in cultivating your client base, but overdoing it can prove counterproductive by annoying the very clients you're trying to reach. Here's how to find the right balance.

Make it Personal

1. Who doesn't like to receive a personalized card or handwritten note in the mail? There's a world of difference between sending out an impersonal flyer or form letter and a customized note printed on attractive card stock. Which would you be more likely to open and read?

2. Talk to them personally. If you take the time to address their special interest, or share an article or idea that is targeted right at their interest, that has a much better reception by the clients.

Make Contacts Worth Their While

Whether it's in an email, through a printed newsletter, or on a sales call, providing customers with information they can use adds value to your communications and eliminates the annoyance factor. Offering industry news, community updates, or other data that's relevant and useful to your customers goes a long way toward transforming the way they perceive your marketing efforts. A professionally written and well-designed direct mail piece sent a few times a year that's packed with info they can use is always welcome.

If you keep your communications relevant, concise, respectful, useful, and personalized, you'll never have to worry about being too persistent. And that's a great feeling!

Until next time,

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The 9 (or 10) Best Business Blogs You Should Be Reading



Ever feel like you're missing out on the latest buzz from the business world?
We get it: The sheer amount of info out there can seem overwhelming, but whether you're a business owner, entrepreneur, or manager, it's essential to keep up.

Now, here's the good news: 
We're here to make it easy for you to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. We've searched the web for some of the best, brightest, and most innovative business blogs out there. Add these top blogs to your reading list for a simple way to stay in the loop!

1. You're the Boss (http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com)

This New York Times blog is all about small business, from best practices to breaking trends. Written by entrepreneurs, business owners, and experts from a range of fields, You're the Boss provides a place for small business owners to connect, share their successes (and mistakes), and compare notes from the battlefield.

2. Seth Godin's Blog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com)

Seth Godin, a.k.a. marketing guru extraordinaire, provides a wide range of tips, ideas, advice, and general musings on a range of topics. The best thing about Godin's blog, however, is simply his quirky, creative writing style, which allows him to be motivational, inspirational, and insightful without ever slipping into cheesy territory.

3. Workshifting (http://www.workshifting.com)

Not only is Workshifting beautifully designed, but its content is hyper-focused on its readers' needs and interests. Content melds work and lifestyle topics relevant to today's on-the-move workforce, with an emphasis on the issues that affect work-from-home, flex schedule, and other employees who work outside the office environment.

4. She Takes on the World (http://www.shetakesontheworld.com)

With accolades from sources such as the Stevie Awards, Inc., and Forbes, She Takes on the World offers tips of the trade with a focus on female entrepreneurs. Along with content from founder Natalie McNeill, this blog offers content from a series of guest bloggers, expert advice from industry leaders, and articles about work-life balance. Yes, it's geared toward women in business, but hey, it's got a lot of great content for guys, too.

5. Pando Daily (http://pando.com) 

For the latest in news from the tech front, turn to Pando Daily. Founded by Sarah Lacy -- formerly of TechCrunch -- this comprehensive blog serves as a journal of record for Silicon Valley. Its focus on start-ups, the tech industry, social media, marketing, and almost everything else that impacts the business world makes for interesting reading, as do its interviews with and features by industry insiders.

6. Naked Capitalism (http://www.nakedcapitalism.com)

Naked Capitalism offers a no-holds-barred look at the current state of the economy and the financial industry, and how it affects business. Economists, investment bankers, political advisors, and journalists make up the contributor list. Expect to put on your critical thinking cap when you sit down to read this thought-provoking blog.

7. Anita Loomba (http://anitaloomba.com)

For a clear picture of the confluence of digital marketing and social media, turn to Anita Loomba's blog. Offering helpful tips, best practices, success stories, and the latest in industry news, Loomba covers the ever-changing, always increasing influence of social media and business marketing in her accessible blog.

8. How to Change the World (http://blog.guykawasaki.com)

Author, former Apple marketing guru, venture capitalist, and all-around smarty Guy Kawasaki offers hands-on advice to entrepreneurs in his How to Change the World blog. Expect to be motivated and inspired, but in a practical, realistic way.

9. Peter Shankman (http://shankman.com/blog/)

Finally, for a dose of humor to lighten the work week, give Peter Shankman's blog a read. An angel investor and entrepreneur, Shankman has a, shall we say, creative approach to the world of business, and his entertaining writing style reflects it. Plus, he's got some good advice -- so give it a try.

10. Ideas, Resources, and Reflections on Custom Printing - (Yep. http://blog.plumgroveprinters.com)

Of course, we have to include ourselves in here! Yeah, we're printers, but we know a lot about business, marketing, and what's going on in the design world too. Follow Us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook to get instant access to some of the awesome bits we discover on the web. We get a kick out of sharing the best marketing advice with you, so go ahead and subscribe to our blog in the box above to make sure you never miss a beat. We've also got some great free resources and newsletters available through our website.

Thanks for reading!

Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

All Brochures are NOT Created Equal


When it comes to marketing your business, professionally printed brochures are a great way to build credibility, while also telling your story.

Do you really need a sales collateral brochure? Yes! Here's a few reasons why:




  • A brochure helps your salespeople to tell your story and the headlines are almost like headings on a PowerPoint presentation.




  • Once you leave the sales call, the person you met with frequently will confer with others and they will present your story for you. Your brochure will help them to sell others on selecting your firm.




  • Isn't it good enough to have a website? You need a solid website, yes, but it is difficult to share a website in an in-office meeting. And a brochure builds your firm image, brand and impression of quality and size.

    Here are a few tips to help you create successful, sales-building brochures:
    • Tell a story, see if your can get your brochure to create an emotional connection, as well as give the facts and figures, features and benefits. Include a note or letter from the President with an emotional connection point.

    • Focus on your audience and their needs. List benefits your customers will receive by choosing you and your products.

    • Design an appealing cover that motivates readers to look inside. Include product benefits, a thought-provoking statement, industry tips, and other items your customers will find valuable.

    • Provide clear headlines that make it easy to find information, along with high-quality imagery that supplements your messaging.

    • Consider a creatively shaped or unusually sized brochure to grab attention.

    • Include information that encourages the ready to keep your brochure. This may include how-to information, tips and tricks, sales calendars and more.

    • Consider providing a Q&A section to answer questions you think your readers may have when learning about your products or services.

    • There many learning types among your buyers. There are English majors, Math majors, Artists and Engineers -- give them all what they want: words, numbers, pictures, charts and more. (Just because you are the English Major it does not mean that your buying prospect is going to be a person who learns by reading.)

    • If your brochure is lengthy (8 pages or more), consider creating a table of contents to pique reader interest and make information easier to find.

    • Include a call to action, so readers know how to respond. An 800 number, reply card, website landing page, or email address are all good examples to try.

    If you need help creating an effective brochure, give us a call today. We have many samples and creative design ideas your customers will be sure to love.
  • Peter "The Printer" Lineal
    Founder/CEO
    Plum Grove
    2160 Stonington Avenue
    Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
    Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
    www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
    PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

    Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
    Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

    Thursday, March 6, 2014

    10 Ways to Turn Your Competitors' Customers into YOUR Customers




    You know you've thought about it. So here it is:

    10 creative ways to help turn your competitors' customers into your own: 

    1. Be Visual 
    Offer a comparison chart that focuses on reasons why customers should choose your product over the competition.

    For example: You may offer a standard five-year warranty, while your competitors may only offer a three-year warranty. Or perhaps they offer an extended five-year warranty option, but at an additional price. Or maybe they just charge too much for their product.

    Take a look at how we've done this with one of our products here.

    2. Upgrade Ideas 
    Stay informed of what your competitors are doing, but avoid copying their ideas. Instead, add your own value and make the idea even better.

    For example: If a competitor offers free shipping on purchases of $100+, you could provide free shipping on all purchases and possibly even returns.

    3. Keep it Catchy 
    Create a unique tagline or slogan that focuses on your key selling points, such as: "Hassle-Free Returns" or "Receive your lunch order within 30 minutes or it's free."

    4.  Stand Out
    Add value to a comparable product through added services, such as longer support hours, free training, and live phone operators (no automated phone services).

    5. Get Feedback 
    Feedback from your clients and leads could make or break your business. Create a customer survey. Ask your audience how you can improve, what new offerings they wish you provided, what they like best about your company, and what areas they may find lacking. Their answers could easily point to ideas that will help you gain a competitive advantage.

    6. Prep the Bait. Offer the Freebie. 
    Provide a risk-free trial to test your products or services before committing to a change. Content marketing is also a great way to spark the interest of potential customers.

    7. Build Trust
    Compare your guarantee to that of your competition. If your competitors don't offer a guarantee, this is an extra reason to promote your guarantee heavily. Customers need to know that they can trust you and form quality relationships with you.

    8. Get Creative 
    Compete with low-price competitors in creative ways. Offer exclusive discounts when items are purchased together as a package, or offer free or discounted add-on bonuses.

    9. Be Suave 
    Yes, that's right. Romance your competitors' customers. Show them the affection they may be missing from their current vendor, and let them know you're willing to go the extra mile to win their business.


    10. Don't Give Up
    Even if prospects are happy with their current provider, be sure to continue your marketing efforts. We're not telling you to be downright annoying... But it is key to create front-of-mind awareness so you're at the top of their list if they ever change their mind.

    I'm hoping these tips will help you generate some new business. Or maybe you're worried you'll lose some business to your competition if you don't put some of these things into practice.... Either way, if you have questions for me about how to work these top ten things into your marketing plan, just let me know.

    Happy Friday Eve!

    Peter "The Printer" Lineal
    Founder/CEO
    Plum Grove
    2160 Stonington Avenue
    Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
    Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
    www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
    PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

    Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
    Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    What Is Content Marketing and How Do You Do It?

    You asked. We answered!

    You've probably heard all the buzz about content marketing, yet may still be wondering what, exactly, it is.

    Here's the answer:
    Content marketing is simply the new form of marketing that uses informative content, rather than blatant sales pitches, to attract potential customers.

    Instead of proverbially bashing people over the head with whatever you're trying to sell, content marketing entices them to come to you to learn more about your product, services, and brand.


    So, how the heck do you do that?

    1. Create a two-way conversation.
    Old-school advertising was pretty much a one-way street with the company doing all the talking. Content marketing turns it into a two-way conversation by actively engaging the audience. Do this by encouraging comments on your blog posts (like this one!) and social media sites, holding contests, announcing discounts and sales, or otherwise reaching out to your audience for input.

    2. Keep up your end of the bargain. 
    Asking for audience participation is good, but it's not so good if you do nothing with the information you gleaned. Reply to audience comments; respond to their requests and needs. Perhaps a certain aspect of your website keeps getting the same complaint. Hold up your end of the conversation by acknowledging the issue and perhaps even tweaking whatever's wrong to better fill people's needs.

    3. Make it easy to find you.
    Of course, you won't have any conversations at all if people can't find you. In addition to a user-friendly company website, you should set up a blog and accounts on your chosen social media platforms that all easily link back to your website. When you share a blog post or add new information to your website, share the link across your social media channels.

    * We practice what we preach! Check out our Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn profiles to see how we put this into action! *

    You don't have to go nuts and join every single social media platform out there. Instead, focus on the ones where your target audience is most likely to tread. Learn more by analyzing the social media habits of your target demographic, then go where those folks go.

    4. Fuel your audience with quality content.
    Keeping your audience engaged means keeping up a steady flow of quality content. Again, you don't have to go nuts trying to post something new and exciting every five minutes, but you do want to add fuel to your content marketing fire with fresh, helpful content on a regular basis.

    Note the keyword "quality" here. Provide content that's polished, informative, compelling, and even entertaining. While text may make up a good chunk of your content, also take advantage of the power of pictures and videos. Include them in related posts, or let them fly solo if they say all they need to say on their own.

    Since people are none too fond of reading the same stuff again and again, make sure you cover a variety of different topics that are relevant to your audience.

    5. Don't bombard your audience.
    Bombarding your audience can consist of that aforementioned strategy of beating them over the head to "buy, buy, buy" with every post you create. But it can also include posting at such a rapid and fanatical rate that your audience has no time to absorb, respond, or even breathe.

    More is not necessarily better, especially if the more is of poor quality. (Again, note the keyword "quality" here.) Over-posting can not only mar your reputation as a professional, but it can backfire in a big way.

    Instead of being attracted to your company, you may instead find your audience fleeing in droves, leaving you with no one left to talk to but yourself. And that's no fun.

    Mastering the art of attraction is just one aspect of content marketing, but it's one of the most essential for eventual success.

    If you need a bit of advice on how to attract customers to your company, send me a quick email or give me a call - 847.882.4020 Ext: 133.

    If you know someone who would find this post helpful send it to them using the link below.





    Have a safe weekend, everyone!

    Peter "The Printer" Lineal
    Founder/CEO
    Plum Grove
    2160 Stonington Avenue
    Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
    Ph: 847.882.4020 Ext: 133
    www.PlumGrovePrinters.com
    PeterL@PlumGrovePrinters.com

    Like Plum Grove Printers Facebook PageFollow Plum Grove Printers TwitterConnect with Plum Grove Printers LinkedInConnect with Plum Grove Printers Google+
    Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.