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Friday, December 18, 2015

Four Simple Rules In Designing Graphics for Trade Shows

Not all graphic design is created equal. For example, the same rules don't apply to both brochures and print ads. Each of these marketing tools has a different purpose and is aimed at an audience with different levels of interest. The ad has to hook the audience quickly, while the brochure audience has a higher stake in your product or service.

The same is true for expo designs. Your booth has to stand out among hundreds of others on a crowded trade show floor. Therefore, you have to attract attention quickly and try to hold that attention. Think billboard, not brochure.

Color Forms

It can be argued that color is the most important detail of trade show display graphics. Colors have a wonderful way of establishing the mood of a particular space. Vivid and lively colors can inspire verse and song, while drab and dull colors can dampen even the highest of spirits. Attendees at a trade show will make subconscious assumptions about a booth based on color. Your color scheme should reflect your brand, but you also want it to be inviting. Use colors and color combinations to make the biggest visual impact while maintaining a professional appearance. Incorporate a color not used by your competitors.

Word Up

When designing text in with your graphics, we stand by three simple rules. 1) Select a font that is easy to read. 2) Use a color that helps your copy stand out from the background. 3) keep the copy to a minimum. i.e., think billboard, not brochure. Your objective is to get attention, not tell your entire company story.

Form Follows Function

As with all graphic design, when laying out your trade show displays, consider balance and proportion of the overall composition. Consider where you want visitors' eyes to go when they view your display. Graphics tell a story, so help people follow a flow that enables them to experience the full impact of the design. Also, remember the scale of the finished product. A photo that looks great on your website or in your brochure may not be large enough to use for an eight-foot display.

Let There Be Light

You want your graphics to be seen by as many people as possible right? Make sure your graphics are well-lit with quality display lighting that enhances the imagery and messaging of your graphics. In fact, lighting and color are extremely similar because they both have an impact on mood, draw attention to your space and-- if they are poorly executed-- they will convey the wrong message to attendees.


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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Quest for Quality Content in eMarketing



In maintaining your Internet presence, most businesses are perpetually in search of relevant, high-quality content. Good content accomplishes a number of different goals. It allows you to maintain an active presence on the web, to engage with your target audience, and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. It also happens to be integral to your strategy as time goes on. Here's how.

The Google of it All

One of the major reasons why high-quality content is so important to your website, your blog, and your social media presence has to do with Google. Currently, Google is the preeminent way of getting recognized by your target audience in the digital age. If your blog appears at or near the top of the search results for relevant keywords, you can expect a huge boost in visitors (and hopefully revenue) as a result. Therefore, quality content is important for one simple reason: Google thinks it is. 



How High-Quality Content Ultimately Benefits You

Even going beyond website traffic, the quest for quality content is one that ultimately benefits your business in several ways. For starters, it forces you to stop thinking of your website visitors as "users" and to start thinking of them as real people. This is a great approach, as it puts you in a better position to connect with them in a meaningful way and to form a meaningful, loyal bond in return.

Secondly, striving to generate quality content online is a great approach for the offline world, too. If you use the same practices when generating offline content that you do for your online content-- an emphasis on readable, relevant, and interesting materials-- you can form the same meaningful connection with those you're targeting via direct mail and other materials as you do with Internet users (who are real people).

Ultimately, however, the quest for high-quality content means one thing: everybody wins. You aren't "faking your way" into the position of a thought leader in your industry. You aren't "tricking" your customers into thinking you know more than you really do.
You ARE a thought leader in the industry and you ARE a voice to be listened to.
Google and others in the online community that emphasize high-quality content are essentially performing the biggest magic trick of all-- they're slowly forcing businesses in all industries to become better at what they do on a daily basis.


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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Buyer Personas: What They Are and Why You Need Them


In marketing, one must focus in order to run a successful campaign. You can't please everyone, so focus on creating the right message and using the right delivery channels. Buyer personas allow you to do just that in many beneficial ways.



What is a Buyer Persona?

In marketing terminology, a buyer persona is essentially a person that doesn't exist. It's a fictional representation of the type of person who is most likely to buy your product or service. Buyer personas are created using as much actionable information about your ideal customer as possible: How old are they? Where do they live? What types of products have they purchased in the past? What do they like? What do they dislike?

If you knew all of these answers about a real person, you'd have a pretty vivid picture about his/her personality and how that person acts. You'd surely have an easier time talking to that person and relating to him or her - which is what buyer personas are all about.



Why Are Buyer Personas Important?

By creating a fictional representation of the person who makes up your ideal customer, you always have something to refer to when crafting your marketing materials. Say your business' buyer persona is Jane, a 35-year-old mother of two with a combined household income of $150,000. Instead of "throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks," you have something with which to compare your
marketing campaigns. How does your product or service fit into Jane's life? How does it solve a problem that she has? How does it align with past purchases she's made? The answers to these questions will drive your marketing decisions moving forward. 


Crafting Buyer Personas
Creating a buyer persona requires you to be both detailed and accurate. When you've been in business for a long time, you have access to data from market research, current customers, and even your past customers. To a certain degree, this data should dictate the buyer personas you create, which in turn, should dictate the direction of your marketing. Are a significantly large number of your past satisfied customers men between the ages of 18 and 34 who have no kids? Congratulations - you have the basic framework to begin building a buyer persona. Any marketing technique that isn't directly appealing to that specific type of person is one that you now need to re-think.


It's important
, however, to not go "too far" when creating buyer personas. If buyer personas are all about focus, having too many personas is a great way to instantly undo all of the benefits that you've just worked so hard to build. Focus on a few core types of customers and craft buyer personas for each; then compare every marketing move that you make against the information you've compiled for guidance on what to do next.


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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Millennials: How to Use Print to Captivate the Technology-Driven Generation

 

Officially, a person is a millennial if they reached young adulthood sometime around the year 2000. Also commonly referred to as Generation Y, these are people who are just now becoming the age where they matter most -- at least as far as marketing demographics are concerned. They're starting to break out on their own, live their own lives, and spend money. Historically, they've also been the most difficult to market to for one simple reason: technology.

Chances are, if you see someone who can't be bothered to look up from their smartphone or tablet, you're looking at a millennial -- or at least a stereotypical one. In reality, it's actually pretty straightforward to market to millennials, as long as you go about it in the right way. 

Be Relevant

The best way to market to millennials is the same way you market to anyone -- by being as relevant as possible. Go out of your way to understand Gen Y. Discover how they think and -- more importantly -- what they're looking for. You can try all the flashy gimmicks you want or sink a huge amount of time and effort into social networking and similar bits of technology in an attempt to gain a foothold in this ever-important market, but none of it will mean a thing if your message is completely irrelevant to the people you're after.


It's Print's Time to Thrive

Print marketing is actually one of the most powerful techniques you can use to attract the attention of the millennial generation for a very simple reason: it's difficult to ignore. Whereas baby boomers have decades of experience sifting through direct mail and advertisements in general, it's still something unique to the younger generation. This makes it more impactful, giving you a competitive advantage over those who forgo this route.

You can also make your print and digital campaigns work together. Use a QR code on your direct mailers, for example, to give millennials the opportunity to begin the conversation in print and finish it online where they feel most comfortable.

Personality Talks

Each new generation tends to be a little more informal than the one before it, but not necessarily in the way you might think. What this trend really means is that each new generation embraces a true sense of personality more than the one before it. Millennials are after a sense of fun and a company that represents a hipper image that they want to be part of. While injecting as much personality as possible into your mailers might not work for that 50-year-old housewife, it will absolutely capture the attention of a millennial. 


With each passing year, the millennial generation becomes more and more important. They're already poised to overtake the baby boomer generation in spending, sooner rather than later. By going after the millennial generation now, you'll begin to amass an army of loyal followers ready to spend money on your products or services for decades to come.

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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rebranding and You

Even the strongest brands eventually go through some type of identity crisis. Maybe the audience you've been targeting all these years no longer needs the product or service you offer. Maybe you suffered a bit of a setback from a public relations perspective and are looking for a way to start fresh. Rebranding involves a whole lot more than just a fresh coat of paint-- it's about getting rid of the old to make way for the new in the freshest and most impressive ways possible. If you're in the process of rebranding or are even considering it, your marketing materials will play an important role.


What is Rebranding?

At its core, rebranding involves starting out with a new marketing strategy that differentiates your current company identity (or the one you hope to have) from the one you had in the past. A brand new symbol, design, visual aesthetic, and even name can all be employed to help accomplish this goal.

How Can I Rebrand?

To begin with, you must first answer the question, "why are we doing this in the first place?" Once you've come up with a concrete answer, you need to always keep that in mind as a goal you hope to achieve. Your answer will dictate every decision you make from here on out.

Are you rebranding in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience? Your marketing materials, the logo you're using, and your design need to reflect that. Remember that your marketing materials were originally created with your brand in mind -- every element, right down to the font being used in direct mailers, was picked because it accurately reflected the brand you were trying to present to the world at that given moment. If your brand is in the process of changing, there is no element of your marketing too small that won't need to change along with it.
What Can Branding Do For You?

If you want an example of exactly what a successful rebranding campaign can do for your business, look no further than one of the biggest companies on the face of the Earth: Apple. It's hard to remember a time when Apple as a corporation was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. That period wasn't too long ago, however, and Apple was indeed in dire straits as recently as 1997. 


Their successful rebranding took the world by storm when they went from "just another electronics company" that put out products many people considered overpriced, to the hippest, most forward-thinking tech company around. Apple's rebranding campaign got rid of all the complicated terminology in favor of a simplistic campaign that reflected the products themselves. They focused on rebranding themselves as a company that put out reliable and endlessly classy products that "just worked" and have benefited handsomely from that decision ever since.

Look at rebranding for what it is: an opportunity to start fresh. There's nothing wrong with rebranding -- it is not an admission of failure or defeat. It's a true chance to reaffirm your corporate identity with your goals and take the world by storm in a way more meaningful and more impactful than ever before.

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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Do You Want to Drive James Bond's Car?

From the famous Aston Martin to the Bentley of Casino Royale to the Jaguar of Spectre, the cars of James Bond are famous enough to warrant their own Wikipedia page. Many fans who flock to the James Bond movies love salivating over these gorgeous cars and the incredible gadgets they contain. Like everything else about James Bond, people love the cars for their association with class, bravery, heroism, and the mysterious yet luxurious life of the world's most famous (fictional) MI6 agent.

Of course, the cars chosen for the James Bond movies-- just like the conveniently placed Coca-Cola, Subway sandwich, or Apple computer in your favorite movies and shows-- were not chosen by accident. It's all a part of something called product placement, and brands will pay a considerable amount of money to get their products featured in popular movies and television time slots. 


Why Does Product Placement Matter?

It's all a part of tapping into the consumer's head in a process known as the bandwagon effect. According to the bandwagon effect, when we see people we admire or members of a group we're a part of (or want to be a part of) using a particular product, we want to use it, too. In other words, when we see people on our favorite sitcom sitting down to enjoy a Subway sandwich with an ice cold Coke, we want to do it too.

Tapping into this powerful phenomenon isn't reserved just for major brands with seemingly limitless marketing budgets. Even smaller companies can implement and reap the benefits of the bandwagon effect in their advertising. Here are some great ways to get started:

Reality Check

People enjoy feeling like part of a group. When you use images of real customers using your products, along with some reviews that use names (instead of just being anonymous), you help to build this type of group-- your group.

Build a Strong Social Network

People use social media to connect with their friends and family members as well as the brands they enjoy. Building a strong social network around a particular brand can help attract more people to your business. As people participate in your conversations and 'like' your products on Facebook, for instance, those activities will start to show up in their friends' newsfeeds, introducing them to your brand. Similarly, if people retweet you on Twitter or otherwise interact with your brand, they'll be spreading your company's message. With the bandwagon effect, people will be naturally drawn to the brands and interests of their friends.

Encourage Others to Share

Encourage people to share their experiences with your brand, particularly through social media. Hold contests, and invite people to submit pictures of themselves using your products or telling stories about their use of a service you provide. Such interactions naturally help to promote positive experiences with your brand and show the number of people who appreciate your company.

Movies and television are excellent platforms for brands looking to take advantage of the bandwagon effect through product placement. If you want to see how well this psychological phenomenon can work for you, consider using some of the above techniques. Building a strong following around your brand is an excellent way to grow any business.


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

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Printing, Marketing & Promotional Products with Powerful Execution.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Integrating Social Media and Print: Leveraging the Best of Both Worlds to Your Advantage

It's no secret that social media is increasingly becoming one of the single most important tools to connect with your target audience. After all, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more have hundreds of millions of unique users who are actively engaged in social activities on a daily basis. It would be a shame to let such a valuable resource go to waste.

At the same time, you certainly don't want to neglect your print campaign. It's still one of the most effective marketing weapons in your arsenal-- and always will be. So how do you ensure you're paying proper attention to both print and social media?

Integrate social media into your print campaign and leverage the benefits of both.


Grab Attention and Refuse to Let it Go

In today's crowded marketplace, the goal of any campaign is to grab the attention of prospective customers. You aren't just trying to sell a product or service -- you're trying to quickly show why your product or service is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest.

Integrating social media elements into your print campaigns is one of the best ways to accomplish that. It allows you to get your message in front of more people in the places they're most comfortable holding that conversation.

For example, consider the hashtag. People use hashtags for everything from highlighting key words and phrases in a post to finding trends, joining ongoing conversations, and adding a definitive statement at the end of a sentence. By including a hashtag at the end of your print mailer, you're giving your customers multiple options regarding how they can join the conversation and communicate with your brand. If they'd like to continue to learn more about your product or service via the hashtag, they can always do so. If not, they can continue their exposure by way of the print materials the same way they always have.

In essence, you're giving them interesting choices.


Tracking Success

Integrating social media and print is also a great, easy way to track the success of a particular campaign over a long-term basis. Consider putting a unique hashtag on the end of each print piece you mail. If messages with that hashtag are then re-tweeted 200,000 times on Twitter, you know your message is being received loud and clear and that your target audience is more than willing to continue the conversation online.

Digital and print marketing don't have to be independent of one another. Anyone who tells you it's a "one or the other" proposition is wrong. Print and digital are both great at accomplishing their own things, or even the same things in different ways. By integrating social media and print together, you're combining the benefits of both platforms into one environment and are truly creating a "best of both worlds" scenario.

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, and Tradeshow Displays with Powerful Execution.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Why Customer Service is One of Your Most Important Marketing Channels

All of the different marketing channels you have at your disposal are working toward the same goals, though in different ways. Each one helps to spread the word about your brand-- or about a specific product or service you provide. Each channel also helps create new ways to interact with your customers in a meaningful way. Most importantly, they all give you the opportunity to establish yourself as a trusted source of information in your industry and build a reputation as a place people can turn to in their time of need.

Though that description certainly applies to marketing channels like social media, direct mail, print, TV and radio commercials, etc., it also describes one very important element of your business that people tend not to think of as marketing-- customer service.


The Role of Customer Service in Marketing

When you set out to create a new marketing campaign, one of the first steps involves taking a long, hard look at what your customers need. This is most obvious in television campaigns, where you have just 30 seconds to outline a problem and show how your product or service solves that problem.

Think about the function of customer service in your business-- it's doing the exact same thing. You're helping people have meaningful, satisfying experiences with your brand, while showing them that the products you're selling are backed by trustworthy individuals with a strong sense of integrity.

In many ways, your behavior is the marketing tool in this scenario. If you can turn a bad experience with your product into a good one through sheer customer service, you're building the same type of relationship with your customer that a successful ad or direct mail campaign might. The benefit you get is the ability to control the conversation as it's being played out.

In that respect, your customer service department is almost like a fully interactive television ad. If customers have a positive experience, they'll tell people about it. If they have a negative experience, be sure they'll tell people about that, too. 


Customer Service Considerations

The point of this relationship isn't that you should start treating your customer service department as just another in a long line of marketing opportunities that can be exploited. In fact, the opposite is true. Doing so will almost certainly come off to the customer as artificial and can do far more harm to your reputation than good. Overloading your potential and existing customers with overt marketing messages can also make your brand come off as "pushy" when people are just looking for answers to important questions.

Honesty and integrity are the name of the game, especially in terms of customer service. By using your customer service capabilities to resolve issues and create meaningful interactions with customers, you're accomplishing many of the same goals you aim for with your other marketing channels. When people have a positive experience with your CSRs, they're far more likely to tell their friends and family. You're also creating loyal followers that will generate repeat sales.


Peter "The Printer" Lineal
Founder/CEO
Plum Grove
2160 Stonington Avenue
Hoffman Estates, Illinois 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.