What Does an Award-Winning Campaign Look Like?

What does an award-winning marketing campaign look like? Sometimes it’s stunning imagery. Other times, it’s the application of a specific technique. Most often, however, it’s not one thing or the other. It’s how the company understands its audience and creates innovative, captivating content that is specific to that audience in a truly memorable way. Let’s look at four components of such campaigns.

1. An innovative strategy that breaks away from the traditional marketing approach. Award-winning campaigns use the “same old, same old” techniques to engage viewers in surprising ways. Think unusual folds, die-cuts, and dimensional inks and coatings. One award winner used a vertical gatefold tipped onto the cover of a magazine to catch attention. Imagine using personalized teasers in your marketing to get recipients to open a tip-on, then exposing them to a customized message underneath!

2. Captivating content that engages readers and leaves a lasting impression. Award-winning campaigns leave you thinking about them long after exposing you to the initial message.  It’s a headline you can’t stop thinking about or an image you can’t get out of your mind. For example, one award-winning book cover, Lyrics for Rock Stars, features a picture of a guitar spread out like a highway leading toward a city skyline. It tells a powerful story without a single word.

3. Knowing your audience. Award-winning marketers know their audiences. Award winners know precisely who their audiences are and how they behave—and why. An image that captivates and enthralls one audience may not captivate another. A combination of marketing channels that breaks through for one demographic may be ignored by another. Truly and profoundly knowing your audience requires more than demographics. It requires behavioral and psychographic data, as well.

4. Tracking and measuring goals and results. Award winners carefully track and monitor their results. That’s how they know what works! When you see what works, you can build on what’s effective and ditch what isn’t. This gives you the freedom to innovate and maximize your profits . . . and maybe even win an award or two along the way. Need help designing a marketing campaign worthy of attention that gets results? Let us help!

Marketing Giving Lemons? Make Lemonade!

According to a recent survey, 73% of marketers see difficult or uncertain economic times as an opportunity to grow their businesses.[1] Why? During times of uncertainty, competitors pull back on their marketing. This creates a vacuum that you can exploit. When competitors show weakness, you show strength. When competitors are silent, get in their customers’ ears! This can have huge payoffs in the immediate term and down the road.

Here are three ways to invest in your print, digital, and cross-media marketing right now.

1. Think “growth.” The easiest time to build your market share is when your competitors pull back. Think of it as like buying stocks in a down market. You buy down-market stocks cheaply, and their value grows exponentially when the market bounces back. That’s true of market share, too. Don’t just think about selling more products. Think about going after new customers. Where are your competitors weak? Where are they missing the mark? Create a plan to go after the customers your competitors are ignoring.

2. Invest in your “growth engine.” Highly effective marketing is data-driven marketing, so invest in what will give you the biggest bang for your buck: your database. Dig in and get to know your customers—really get to know them. Who buys most frequently? Who buys the most at once? Who buys the most over time? What are the common characteristics of each group? Use this information to refine and better target your messaging. Like market share, this research will pay off both now and in the long term.

3. Market from a position of positivity. When things are uncertain, positive messaging (“we are here to help”) will often have longer-term benefits than the messaging of fear. If you are a fashion retailer, offer ways to put together new looks with items your customers already have. If you’re a coffee shop, suggest easy-to-make cookies or breakfast bakes that pair perfectly with your gourmet coffee blends. Be a thought leader, a partner, and a trusted vendor who isn’t just looking to make a sale but who has their best interest in mind.

Down markets can be challenging, but they don’t last forever. Use this time to invest in your business and your customers for the long haul. You will be better positioned when the market rebounds, with a higher market share and even more loyal customers.

[1] “The Optichannel Opportunity” (RRD, 2023)

Pantone Color Libraries Will No Longer Be Included in Adobe Apps: Now What?

If you’re a designer, chances are you’re familiar with the Pantone Color Libraries. These libraries have been included as part of Adobe applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for years. But now, Pantone and Adobe have agreed to part ways, and Adobe is removing many of the standardized pre-loaded color libraries from its Creative Cloud apps. What does this mean for designers?

First, it’s essential to understand that this is not necessarily bad. The Pantone colors included with Adobe Creative Cloud haven’t been updated since 2019. Pantone points designers to options that use the most recent and updated colors by removing the old libraries. Second, removing the Pantone Color Libraries doesn’t mean you can no longer use your favorite Pantone colors. It means you’ll have to put in a bit more effort to do so.

Ultimately, designers have three primary options:

1. Pay for the Pantone Color Connect extension.

Pantone color libraries will still be accessible through Pantone’s Color Connect extension. There is both a free and a paid version. If you want all of the Pantone color libraries accessible from within your applications, you can use the paid version for $7.99 per month. This gives you access to the Pantone colors, both now and in the future.

2. Create your libraries based on screen grabs.

The second option is to create your own custom libraries using a workaround. Open the free version of Pantone Color Connect. Choose your desired color, take a screen grab, then paste it onto your clipboard. Create a new swatch and save it as a spot color. Rename it with the Pantone color.

These swatches will be approximations. Since every screen shows the color a little differently, the swatches will be based on the colors showing on your screen. In your printed project, however, the color will be the official Pantone color since the printer will match it based on the Pantone book.

This does not violate Pantone’s license as long as the color in your swatch book is not represented to others as the actual Pantone color.

If you want all the colors in your favorite Pantone libraries, not just some of them, you can select the entire library (by holding the shift key) and choose “add to swatches.” This might slow your computer down slightly because of the volume, but it adds the entire library to your swatch panel. Then you can save that swatch library as “ASE” and add it to your Adobe swatches folder on your computer.

3. Use Pantone’s free “approximation” version.

The third option is to use Pantone’s free version of Connect, which lets users download color swatches based on Pantone’s sRGB approximations. Ultimately, removing the Pantone Color Libraries from Adobe Creative Cloud apps sounds scarier than it is. Designers will have to do a little more legwork, but with the extra effort, you can still access and use your favorite Pantone colors just fine.

The Power of Simple Graphic Design

In marketing, a well-designed logo or website can differentiate between a successful campaign and one that falls flat. But what makes for good design? Often, it’s simplicity. The most straightforward designs can be the most effective. Here’s a look at how simplicity can generate trust and credibility.

The Role of Color

Color is one of the most critical elements of any design, and it can be used to great effect in simple designs. When choosing colors, it’s essential to remember both the psychological effects of color and the brand identity you’re trying to create. For example, blue is often used in designs intended to convey trustworthiness and reliability, while green is associated with growth and harmony. By carefully selecting your colors, you can create a subliminal message that resonates with your audience.

Less Is More

In general, simpler designs are more effective than complex ones. This is because they’re easier for viewers to understand at a glance. When someone sees a busy or cluttered design, their first instinct is often to look away. On the other hand, a clean and simple design is more likely to hold their attention. Simplicity also conveys confidence. A complex design can make it seem like you’re trying too hard to impress viewers. At the same time, a simple one signifies that you’re confident communicating your message without needing bells and whistles.

Repetition Works Wonders

Another way to create a simple yet effective design is to use repetition. This could mean repeating some aspects throughout the piece or reinforcing points made in the text using visuals. Repetition helps create visual stability, which in turn, makes your design more credible. Additionally, by repeating elements such as color or shape, you can create an instant sense of cohesiveness, something that viewers will subconsciously respond positively to.

When it comes to graphic design, simplicity should be your watchword. From choosing the right colors to removing clutter to tapping into the power of repetition, there are many ways to create a design that says “trustworthy” and “credible” and resonates with your audience. Keep these tips in mind the next time you sit down to brainstorm the design of your postcard, brochure, or web page!

Want a Great New Marketing Channel? Try Your Floors, Windows, and Walls!

As a brick-and-mortar location, you know how important it is to engage your customers in every way possible. Even if you are already sending direct mail, blasting emails, and advertising on social media, there may be a channel you have overlooked—your location. Your store, office, or café can be the perfect place to advertise and grab attention using wide-format graphics. Let’s look at just a few ways wide-format graphics can be used to market and differentiate your business.

Retail: Besides bright, attention-getting signage and displays, consider advertising your next in-store promotion with custom murals or giant window graphics. Use floor graphics to create a trail of leaves that helps customers navigate to the latest fashion arrivals or a path of dollar signs that help them find the clearance section.

Medical offices: Any medical treatment can be scary, especially for kids. Transform your waiting room into a tropical jungle or undersea adventure that will make kids laugh and giggle as they wait. You can also use wide-format graphics for essential communications, such as blood drive announcements, disease prevention and treatment illustrations, floor plans, and evacuation route maps.

Salons and cafés: Say you’re a small salon competing with larger retail chains. Imagine having your shop’s interior filled with branded graphics and unique artwork. Suddenly, you look like a wildly successful high-end boutique.

Restaurants: What makes a passerby hungrier than a giant window graphic of a mouth-watering sandwich or piece of pizza? Don’t just say, “We have great food!” Show it. Get the customers’ mouths watering from across the street.

Mobile graphics: Take your advertising on the road. Wrap your company vehicles in branded graphics that tell your story every time you pull your car out of the parking lot. Gain exposure to people who might not have known about you any other way. Your best customers are current customers, so get your messages in front of them where they are most connected to you — on-site with you.

When Is Too Early to Start Holiday Marketing?

Ever wondered why that beautifully printed holiday direct mail piece or creatively designed email blast didn’t work as well as you’d hoped? Was it the messaging? The list? The headline or subject line? Maybe it wasn’t any of these, or you’re just starting too late.

According to ShopKick, consumers are shopping for the holiday season earlier than ever. Nearly one-quarter (22%) say they plan to shop earlier this year than last, with 25% expecting to do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving. Ten percent plan to do their shopping before Halloween.

But this is nothing new. The trend toward increasingly early holiday shopping has been around for a while. In 2020, for example, 59% of holiday shoppers had started making holiday purchases in early November, a 21% increase from one decade ago. Now that trend continues.

With more and more holiday sales coming earlier in the year, you need to get your holiday mailings out earlier, too. This doesn’t necessarily mean starting your deals and discounts early, but you should start investing in brand building, introducing new products, and beginning to plant ideas in your shoppers’ heads. For example, if you sell children’s toys, start positioning your new game as the must-have toy of the year in October. This way, when Christmas shopping comes, you’re already in shoppers’ minds, long before the frenzied shopping starts.

If you’re used to getting your marketing cranked up later in the year, you might want to start a whole month earlier than usual. Come up with a variety of messaging for each stage of the shopping season, from early brand-building to frantic final days. Build your messaging over time to build anticipation, then excitement, and finally a sense of urgency, so shoppers are afraid to miss out. Need help? Talk to us about setting a realistic marketing schedule for your holiday promotions. You might need to give yourself more time than you think.

5 Tips to Save Money and Still Get Great Results

What is your best strategy for managing your marketing budget in times of economic uncertainty? Is it to put your mailings on hold until things get better, or is it to get creative and take advantage of existing opportunities?

Our experience is that, even when the economy tightens, businesses get creative with their marketing and still get great results. Here are some easy ways to save money and grow your business simultaneously.

1. Use lighter-weight paper. Paper supplies are fluctuating these days, but if you can find a comparable stock that is lighter in weight, you’ll not only pay less, but you’ll save money on postage, too.

2. Take advantage of USPS postal discounts. Every year, the USPS comes out with an Emerging and Advanced Technology promotion. By incorporating technologies such as QR Codes and augmented reality (AR), the USPS allows you to send mailings for a fraction of the cost of traditional mailings.

3. Use house paper. If you want a specific stock — and only that stock — for a particular campaign, we’ll do everything we can to find it for you. But if a good, all-purpose stock will do, most printers (like us) keep a house stock handy that will be a highly economical choice.

4. Send Every Door Direct Mail. The USPS Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program lets mailers target their mailings by ZIP Code. You mail to addresses only, but you can select ZIP codes by various demographics, such as average household income, percentage of homeowners recipients, and so on. This gives you a targeted mailing at a fraction of the cost of other mailings.

5. Narrow your focus. Instead of mailing to your entire list, try mailing smaller, more targeted runs. Pick a segment that you want to focus on, then develop messaging and offers just for that group. You will mail less but get better results by making that messaging more relevant each time.

Even when times are tough, you can save money and still get great marketing results. Contact us to learn more about each of these options.

Want Healthy Forests? Use More Paper

Would it surprise you to learn that by using forest products (including paper), you are helping to increase the number of trees around us? Improve overall forest health? It’s not something we talk about as much as we should, but the use of paper and paper-based products has a positiveimpact on the environment. Here are three facts about paper and forests that many people don’t know:

1. Using paper-based products preserves our forestland.

More than half (58%) of the forests in the United States are privately owned. Forest products provide landowners with a revenue stream. If they didn’t, those forests would be at risk of being sold for other revenue-producing uses, such as agriculture or development. By using paper, you are protecting forests for future use.

The net forest area in the United States grew by 18 million hectares between 1990 – 2020.

2. Sustainable forestry makes forests healthier.

Many landowners (and nearly all U.S.-based paper mills) practice “sustainable forest management.” This isn’t just letting the trees grow for a while before cutting them down. This is the strategic management of the forest to maintain maximum health. Trees are carefully inspected and harvested on a cycle that promotes healthy forest growth, for example. Different species of trees are cut on a rotating basis, and trees at risk for a disease are culled. Riparian areas (waterways) are protected.

By using paper, you are not only promoting the expansion of our nation’s forests, but you are also encouraging them to be healthier.

3. Paper promotes the protection and support of wildlife.

When forests are sustainably managed, they can be controlled in ways that support different types of wildlife. For example, a forest groomed to promote lush undergrowth will attract more deer and small game. A forest groomed to have more open areas will encourage the growth of certain grasses and bushes that draw different species of birds.

By using paper, you are helping to expand the biodiversity critical to the health of forests and the planet as a whole. When marketing with print and paper, you are doing more than providing a beautiful product that your customers trust. You are investing in the future of our planet.

3 Tips for Successful Cross-Selling

Who are your best customers? They are the ones you already have. Your existing customers know and value their relationship with your company, so one of the best uses of your marketing budget is to cross-sell products to them. Cross-selling, or selling a different product or service to the same customer, can be highly profitable because it deepens the customer relationship and gives you a host of additional products to upsell the customer over time.

Here are some tips for the best results.

1. Know what they already own (and don’t).

There’s nothing more annoying than shopping online for a new rug, purchasing a rug, and then having ads for rugs continue to pop up in your email and social media feeds for weeks after you’ve already bought one. The same principle holds for direct mail and email marketing. Don’t try to sell your customers products they already have or ancillary products for those they do not. If you track sales history, tap into that. If you don’t, let us help you use data-gathering techniques to learn who your customers are and what products are most relevant to them.

2. Get your timing right.

Knowing your customers also means knowing when they are most likely to make specific purchases. For example, one study in the airline industry found that nearly two-thirds of customers were most likely to purchase ancillary products, such as travel insurance or tour guides, at the time they booked a trip rather than sometime afterward (such as during the check-in process or their stay). This information can be beneficial to travel agents, who can then put the most effort into marketing their ancillary services when travelers are most likely to buy. Know the timing of purchases in your product categories and consider that when crafting your campaigns.

3. Be consistent across channels.

Not every customer likes to make purchases the same way. One might respond to direct mail. Another might react to email or social media commerce. Regardless of channel, ensure that your cross-sell communications are consistent across all of them. You don’t want one cross-sell to appear in their email inbox and another in their mailbox. In terms of the visual imagery, color palettes, and marketing verbiage, maintain a consistent brand image no matter which channel they use.  Cross-selling is essential for marketers to maximize their marketing budgets and reap the best ROI. Why not let us help you design your next cross-selling campaign?