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Communication

Ship That Print Job to the Dumpster!

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Ship That Print Job to the Dumpster!

An international beer importer produced a sophisticated display for a holiday promotion. After much time and expense, completed units were shipped to distributors across the country for installation at various off-premise accounts including grocery, specialty and c-store locations. Lacking a national sales force themselves, the marketing folks assumed that the distributor’s salespeople would gladly install the displays at location. After all, the more product they sell, the greater profit would be for all. The salespeople didn’t agree and most displays were never placed.

Another marketer decided to take a subtle approach. They printed a collateral piece featuring lifestyle messaging but the outside was designed to look like a foreign passport. The idea was to seed these pieces throughout New York, where consumers would pick them up out of curiosity and read them. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize until after printing 500,000 pieces that they had no efficient way to efficiently distribute them. The program gathered dust in a fulfillment warehouse.

In both cases, seemingly valid promotional concepts were dead on arrival because no thought was given to execution, to how these items would be placed or distributed to the field. As a result, all of the time, thought and expense that went into developing and producing these items was largely wasted. They could have saved everyone trouble by shipping them directly to a dumpster, because that’s where they ended up.

Countless times I’ve seen examples where no thought was given to the end use of printed materials. That’s a shame because ultimately, the success of any program is determined by how well it is executed from start through completion. Breakthrough creative, sterling copy and flawless reproduction mean nothing if the message doesn’t get into the hands of the consumer.

So, in the interests of improving print marketing everywhere, keep these 5 “W’s” in mind when developing a printed promotion or campaign:

1. Who is responsible for executing the program and getting it in front of the consumer? That individual or team must carefully review the distribution channels and confirm all parties know what’s expected and are onboard with it. Since conditions often change, they should be invested with the authority to quickly adjust when required.

2. What are you asking them to do? Some printed materials require placement or installation (i.e. POS displays) by field sales. Many regard this as a distraction, so make sure they are available and agreeable to doing what’s required and provide incentives when possible. When possible, engineer displays to simplify installation.

3. When are materials due? Time sensitive materials delivered late are useless so establish a production schedule that will comfortably meet the deadline.

4. Where will materials be displayed? Be sure to have permission to place materials before producing them. Many supermarket and retail chains have adopted clean store policies that limit promotional materials and displays. Also confirm that printing method and substrates are suitable for the conditions. Paper is usually inappropriate for long-term use outdoors or in a market’s refrigerated case.

5. Why? Printed materials can inform, persuade and motivate so consider how the user should respond to it. Coupons must be easy to detach and use, offers feature a clear and immediate call to action and direct response include appropriate feedback mechanisms.

Proper execution planning will assure that your printed materials don’t go en masse to the dumpster. Instead, they’ll be placed individually in the recycling bin, long after they’ve served their intended purpose.

Six Steps to Effective Marketing Communications

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Six Steps to Effective Marketing Communications

“You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.” – David Ogilvy

So, you’re looking to lift your brand.

Growing your brand is vital, yet it often proves elusive. Especially in today’s hyper-connected and competitive environment. The jumble of advertisers shouting across all media for a share of the consumer’s attention makes getting your message through the clutter more difficult than ever before. But it’s not impossible.

We all know great brands that have risen above the din and stand apart as unique “personalities”, creating the growth that drives these businesses forward. While we might think of iconic brands in these terms, the good news is that most brands, big or small, can be lifted by applying solid communications practices.

Everything starts with the brand. So, when planning marketing communications, carefully consider each of the following Brand Lifting Elements:

1. Goals: Effective marketing communications must reflect well-formed goals. These may include greater brand awareness, generating sales, customer retention, repeat business, etc. The first step in brand lift is to identify marketing objectives that advance your overall business.

2. Audience: Once clearly defined communication goals are established, use this framework to identify a receptive target audience. This audience may be segmented into one or more groups that have a common need for the offering and the means to acquire it.

3. Messaging: Every brand has that unique “personality” that lends a common voice to all communications. Carefully craft messaging that captures this essence while furthering the marketing objective and fitting the unique needs of the audience.

4. Creative: Creative is the conduit that drives the message through the clutter in a way that resonates with the audience. At it’s best, creative not only informs, but delivers a brand experience that excites and encourages action. Carefully vet creative work against these criteria to assure maximum effectiveness.

5. Channel Selection: It’s challenging to reach the consumer given today’s myriad of communication media. Communications channels should be carefully selected to deliver a consistent message, engage the audience, encourage a dialog (when possible) and ultimately achieve the marketing goal. Don’t lock into specific solutions, instead review all options and design communications that utilize the most effective media.

6. Measurement: Brand lift is about results, so select and measure metrics that reflect marketing goals. Periodic review will then show how well communications are performing against goals and allow for adjustments when necessary.

Lifting your brand is not a one time effort; it’s an ongoing process of continual trial and refinement. Consistently apply these Brand Lift Elements to marketing communications and over time you will build stronger brands, have better results and more profitable business.

Six Things I’m Not Thankful For This Thanksgiving

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Six Things I’m Not Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of the year when we reflect back on all of our blessings. I have a great life and much to be thankful for but in the spirit of the holiday let’s briefly take the contrarian view and consider six things that I could easily do without this year.

  1. Impending Winter: What can I say, I’m a summer person. Three months of sitting by the fireplace is nice but I’d rather be at the beach.
  2. Miley Cyrus: She’s gotten way too much “exposure” lately. Please make it stop!
  3. Technology Overload. I’m a gadget freak so don’t get me wrong, I appreciate how technology empowers us and enjoy working with my various devices. But I also remember when we could completely disconnect and enjoy the simple pleasures of life undisturbed. I try to strike a balance between the two but it’s often frustrating. Perhaps an island vacation with no Internet or cell coverage would take care of this and #1 too!
  4. Meeting Overload: Yes, they’re a necessary evil. But do we really need to have a meeting to plan the meeting about the meeting?
  5. Obamacare: Whatever your politics, the bungled ACA rollout affects us all. The current system is broken, but instead of correcting it, this failed launch virtually assures that political wrangling and the associated media coverage will continue. Other countries have figured this out, our politicians probably will too. But until then, we’ll be subject to talking heads of all political stripes debating ad nauseum. Ugh!
  6. Thanksgiving Store Openings: C’mon, do you really need to open up on Thanksgiving evening? Give your employees a break, the customers will be there bright and early and ready to spend on Black Friday morning.

I suspect that many of you could pass on some of these things as well. Is there something that you could do without this Thanksgiving? Please share it with us.

And unplug, unwind and have a great holiday!

 

How Pina Coladas Made Me A Better Communicator

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How Pina Coladas Made Me A Better Communicator

After spending most of my career in sales and marketing, I know the importance of being able to  communicate clearly. To do so, we need to know where the audience is coming so that we can effectively get the message across. That is, we must understand what is the audience looking for and why are they interested in what we have to say?

Effective communicators frame a message from the listener’s perspective in order to relate it to his or her needs. Sophisticated marketers use various techniques and tools to understand and properly target market but this form of empathy is not their exclusive domain. Anyone can improve public communications by taking the listener’s role and asking the simple question,  “What’s in it for me”.

I remember when I first realized that public communication is all about connecting with the audience. It happened in my senior year at the University of Miami.

In my final semester, I took a course in sales techniques. The capstone project of this course, which counted for half of the final grade, was a sales presentation in front of the class of 30 students. We could pick our own item to sell, then each of us would present it to our classmates, who would then review our performance and suggest a grade.

At the time I worked evenings at a printing shop and was planning to work in graphic arts after graduation. I figured, what better item to sell to the class since I was going into the field and already had some experience in it. I carefully selected printed samples and spoke with a salesperson, who gave me a number of pointers. After a couple weeks preparation, I put on my three-piece suit and headed out to sell printing to a class of college seniors.

I made it through the material without embarrassing myself but do remember that my classmates didn’t engage much and there were no questions at the end. Still, I was confident that the presentation was good and my grade would reflect that.

It didn’t. I got a “C” and the peer feedback was terrible. “Boring”,  “ZZZZ”, “didn’t understand it”, but the worst was “lose the cheap suit”.  I was disappointed and didn’t understand what went wrong.  But after some reflection, I realized that I was selling printing to an audience that didn’t understand it, didn’t need it and couldn’t relate to it.  The presentation was mediocre because the message didn’t fit the audience.

Fortunately, the professor allowed each student an opportunity to present again and possibly improve the grade. I signed right up but initially didn’t know what item an audience of college students would relate too. After looking around my apartment, I went into the kitchen and saw the blender. That’s it – I’ll pitch the blender, and to demonstrate what a great unit it is, I’ll make Pina Coladas for everyone

In the second presentation I intentionally started off slowly by describing the blender’s attributes, how well it chops up ice, it’s many speeds, etc. My audience was not very excited until I said “now we’ll demonstrate the capabilities of this wonderful machine”, then pulled out ice, juice and big bottle of rum. Then I made up several batches of pina coladas and distributed them to the excited class – all while keeping up a running dialog on the machine’s attributes. This brought all sorts of audience engagement, mostly classmates shouting to add “more” while I was pouring in the rum!

Now, this happened back when the drinking age was 18 so I doubt that a student could get away with it today. But, unlike my first presentation on printing, it was clear that the class was fully involved in this one and their feedback reflected it. Some of their comments included “Great job”, “Thanks for the drinks” and “Awesome”! I got an “A” for the presentation and for the course!

While plying your audience with alcoholic beverages is not usually an option, the takeaway here is that it’s always possible to craft your message to fit that audience.  When you do this well, the audience will let you know it. And when you don’t, they’ll let you know it too, especially when someone criticizes your favorite cheap suit.

Because of this sales class I learned this lesson early on, before even starting my career. And by applying the golden rule “know your audience” over the years, I’ve been able to build business with major Fortune 500 firms, some of which I continue to work with today.

For me, this rule is truly golden.

Why Print Still Matters In A Digital Age

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Why Print Still Matters In A Digital Age

The rapid growth of digital marketing has led to speculation that print is no longer relevant. Technology is disrupting marketing communications and soon there will be no need for this older, analog medium. But, if history is a guide, this argument may be flawed. Continue Reading

Travel Brochure

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Travel Brochure

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Mission Graphics

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Mission Graphics

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Office Display

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Office Display

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e-blast

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e-blast

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Educational Series

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Educational Series

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