Monday, March 15, 2010

Eat Your Mail

I was reading Deliver Magazine recently and noticed a feature on marketing through product sampling where one company has taken the concept to a new level. We have all been drawn to free samples in a grocery store and often are enticed into buying that sampled product. This promotion however has always been limited to an in-the-store experience. Well a new technology called Peel ‘n Taste® was recently developed by First Flavor (www.firstflavor.com) that gives the end user the ability to taste the flavor of the product with a film strip that dissolves in your mouth. Now you can let your customers taste your product in an easy and affordable way across multiple marketing channels. You can send the film strip along with a direct mail campaign or attach to an advertisement in a magazine. Or use the strips as a giveaway at your next event. Anyway you decide to incorporate this technology, it is sure to be a perfect way to market food and beverages with the aid of printing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to Purchase a Maillist, Market to a Target Audience and Grow Your Business

video

Buying a maillist doesn't have to be a complicated process. Anyone can do it. Answer the questions below and you'll be well on your way to starting a direct mail campaign. Then, check out the video for a quick overview on how to go about purchasing a maillist.

Who are my customers?
Are they businesses?
- Are they large or small businesses?
- What industry are they in?
- How many years have they been in business?
- Are they headquarters or branches?
- What job title do they typically have?

Are they consumers?
- Are the male or female, or an even mix of both?
- Do they have children?
- Are they homeowners?
- What income levels do they come from?
- How old are they?
- Are they single or married?

Where do my customers live?
- Are they from a local neighborhood or scattered geographically?
- Are they all in a specific city or state?
- If they just moved to the neighborhood would your business potentially benefit from their limited number of relationships?

Why do my customers buy from me?

If they received a postcard what would they respond to?
- What stands out?
- How is it different than every other offer they get in the mail?
- How does it engage them to interact?
- What would make them want to learn more about your offer?

How much can I afford to spend?
- How much can you spend on advertising for one sale and still make a profit?
- What type of return do you project?
- How much does it cost to print?
- What type of postage estimate has your printer given you?
- How much to design your piece?
- Are there additional costs associated with your offer (coupon)?

Finally, have I communicated with my print vendor or marketing expert what my goals are for the mailer and where I want to increase my revenue? I only mention this because printers can be marketing experts too but usually for no additional cost. It may seem like all we do is print and there is no difference between one company to the next, but a great print rep is exposed to a number of different mailings in a given year and usually has a unique perspective on what tends to have success. Even for the print reps that do not follow customer results and really only care about printing, I bet they ALL know what customers do a reprint of a mailing. Chances are if someone is spending money on a marketing campaign over and over again, then they are probably having success with it. Well, at least Albert Einstein would hope so!

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

Monday, March 1, 2010

Proofing

When you make bread, one of the first steps is proofing the yeast. You do this to ensure the yeast is active (or living) and thus will enable the bread to rise. If the yeast is dead, your bread will not rise and the finished product will resemble a rock. To proof yeast you dissolve in warm water (not too hot as yeast dies at 140 degrees), mix with a pinch of sugar and wait a few minutes for the yeast to foam up. If the mixture is foamy, you know your yeast is active and ready to be used. However, if after 5-10 minutes nothing happens, then your yeast is probably a dud.

There are no guarantees with yeast, and you must proof to ensure everything is going to turn out right. The same holds true in printing. When submitting artwork to a printer, they will proof your files to ensure everything is going to print like your intended design. When receiving the proof, it is then YOUR responsibility to make sure everything looks right. I don’t mean to be harsh by putting the blame solely on you if something is wrong with the proof and you don’t catch the mistake, but the reality is that many printers view a signed off proof the same as a contract. Hence the commonly used term “contract proof” that specifies that you think everything is okay to print. Hopefully you have a true partnership with your printer, where they will also look for issues with files and proofs to ensure all is okay. However, not giving a proof the respect it deserves can seriously cost you some big time bucks.

Why do I stress the importance of a proof, or better yet what can go wrong with a proof? Just ask any printer and they can give you a laundry list of potential issues. For example, your document may have missing fonts and images or low-resolution images. Text may not flow properly causing layout issues (Google “prepress reflow”). The color might not look the same as it does on your monitor. Images on the edge of the trim may be missing bleed (additional image needed to ensure the image runs off the edge of the sheet if small printing, binding and trimming variations occur). If you are uncertain of everything you should look for when deciding whether to approve or not, ask your print sales rep, their prepress manager or search the web.

Why do things go wrong with a proof when there was nothing wrong with the files sent to the printer? To put it simply, the printer changes your file. They have to put it in a format that their equipment can read. When this change occurs, ironically known as RIP, formatting related issues can cause unexpected changes (especially with un-preferred file formats). The printer does this because files come in so many different formats and platforms but the plate processors or digital presses can only read the file in one common language. You can save yourself some pain by finding out what types of files the printer prefers to work with and then design your files in those formats. However, even if you design your document in a preferred format, issues can still occur.

In the new age of printing, where every print project started today needed to ship yesterday, it is certainly easy to quickly scan through a proof to get the project into production right away. Working with multiple customers though, I have personally seen and dealt with the pain of what happens when errors are not caught in the proofing process. A circle of blame ensues where the result is everyone loses.
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