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How Much Does Direct Mail Marketing Cost?

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Jul 31, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Did you hear the news? Print is dead. Did you hear the other news? The idea of print being dead is completely bogus.

Data continuously shows that consumers respond favorably to direct mail. And here are some stats to back that up:

What do these numbers indicate? When done strategically, direct mail is a fantastic way to increase revenue for your business.

Before we discuss costs, let’s figure out which type of direct mail piece will be the most effective for your brand. While research from the Data and Marketing Association suggests that the response rate is typically highest for oversized envelopes (as opposed to, say, a letter-sized mailer), you’ll still want to determine what will work be best for your campaign goals.

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Which is right for you is going to depend on a few different things:

  1. What’s your budget? – Oversized mailers and catalogs are more expensive to design, print and ship (because they are heavier).
  2. What are you selling? – If you sell a more serious product, like insurance for instance, you most likely will want to send a traditional letter. If your offer is more fun, you can create a colorful and eye-catching postcard.
  3. Who is your campaign targeting? – If you’re nurturing past customers who already know what you’re about, you won’t need to give them so much information. A letter or postcard will do. If you’re targeting cold leads, you might need to send a bigger brochure so they can learn more about you.

If you’re interested in the more expensive direct mail pieces, it’s a good idea to do a test run on a smaller group so you can measure how well it converts before going wider with it.

Direct Mail Costs

Direct mail pieces can cost anywhere from 30 cents to more than $10 per person, depending on how much you spend on design, marketing copy, mailing lists, printing, and distribution. Some organizations do much of this inhouse and wind up only paying for printing and mailing.

Let’s break down these individual cost factors:

Design Costs ($0 – $100)

When it comes to designing your direct mail piece, you have a few different options:

  • DIY – If you only require something very basic, like a renewal letter, you should be able to create something suitable in Microsoft Word.
  • Use a template – You can find numerous online sites that sell templates that cost around $10 on average.
  • Hire a professional – If you need help in the creativity department, your best bet is to pay a professional print designer. You may use someone local in your area, or find a freelancer online on sites like UpWork.

Marketing Copy Costs ($0 – $100)

If you have a very small budget, you may have no other choice but to write your own marketing copy. However, if you have a bit to spend, we always suggest clients hire a professional copywriter. This copy has got to be persuasive and there is an art to getting it just right. Copywriters, good ones anyway, are trained to write content that hooks the reader and gets them to buy.

Mailing Lists Costs ($0 – $0.30 / record)

Free mailing lists can be had by either gathering data you already have on your current customers, or by doing a trade of your info with another business in your industry.

If neither of these options is possible, you’ll end up paying anywhere between .02-.30 cents per record. The cost will vary based on the quality of the data, how many records you buy, and how many times you can send to the list (make sure you’re clear on that last part).

Printing Costs ($0.03 – $2.00 / person)

Printing costs will vary based on the following:

  1. Black and white vs. color
  2. Paper quality
  3. Paper size
  4. 1 sided vs. 2 sided
  5. Number of pages
  6. Quantity

Visit any online printing business to find out exact printing costs for your campaign.

Distribution Costs ($0.25 – $2.00 / piece)

Of course, the final cost you will have to consider is mailing costs. Prices fluctuate and are dependent on the current postage rate, the amount of mail you send, and how much all of that mail weighs. Remember, the bigger the pieces, the heavier the order, and the more you’re going to pay.

Direct mail, if done right, is both an effective and cost-effective way to market your business.

Need help with your next direct mail campaign? Get in touch with us today. We’ll help you determine exactly which piece will work the best and help you get the best ROI no mater your budget.

Topics: advertising, print, print ads, direct mail

4 Ways Small Business Owners Can (Almost) Guarantee Their Success

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 @ 10:59 AM

Starting a small business is akin to ice skating on mud – it’s really, really hard. Actually, to be more accurate, starting a small business is hard, but getting that business to grow and succeed is next to impossible, or so it seems.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly two-thirds of businesses survive their first 2 years in business, half of all businesses will survive about 5 years, and only one-third will survive 10 years. Those numbers can be intimidating.

So how can small business owners ensure they’re one of the “lucky” ones? While there are no guarantees in life, there are things small business owners can do to set themselves up for success.Small Business Strategy. Green Chalkboard on the Gray Concrete Wall in the Interior of a Modern Office with Hand Drawn Small Business Strategy. Business Concept with Doodle Style Elements. 3D..jpeg

  1. Start Your Business for the Right Reason

The most successful business owners created their business not to make money, but because they had a passion. They wanted to somehow solve a problem or provide an incredible service. Some want to do this while creating jobs in their local community.

If you start a business simply because you want to be your own boss and make a lot of money, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and heartache.

  1. Focus on Building and Maintaining Customer Relationships

No matter how great you think your product or service is, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t stick around for very long. This is why it’s important for small business owners to focus on building and maintaining customer relationships.

How do you do that?

  1. Anticipate your customers’ needs
  2. Maintain contact (nurture the relationship)
  3. Be completely transparent

Your goal should always be to build a mutually-beneficial relationship with your customers. Spend some time educating them on your business and then focus on helping them achieve their goals.

  1. Invest in Technology

The businesses that succeed are the ones that leverage the power of technology to gain a competitive advantage. Small biz owners are expected to wear too many hats. They must be experts in finance, accounting and legal aspects of their business.

While you may not yet have the budget to hire in-house professionals, or even outsource to lawyers or accountants, you can invest in technology that will help you automate repeatable tasks and provide valuable insights into your business’ finances. Consider using solutions like CRM and recurring payment systems to help you succeed.

  1. When You Can Afford Help – Get Some

Far too many small business owners don’t recognize the point at which they should begin to hire more help. They are so used to doing everything themselves, they have a tremendously hard time letting go and handing the reigns over to other people.

But, just as a bodybuilder needs to lift more weight to grow muscles, business owners need to delegate more responsibilities to grow their business. The more tasks you can give others, the more you’ll be able to focus on ways to improve your products and customer relations.

One of the best ways to hand over the reins is to hire a professional media buyer who can help you develop and launch your advertising campaigns. Handling this task on your own for any length of time may result in poor ROI and ads that land with a thud.

Mediaspace Solutions has spent years working with small business owners, assisting them with their national, regional and local media buys. With newspaper and digital media buying as our specialties, we help small business owners get the ROI they need to be successful.

If you’d like hep with your advertising, get in touch with us today.

 

Topics: advertising, benefits of print, media planning, small business, marketing goals

PR Tips for SMBs

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 @ 10:37 AM

“There is only one thing worse in the world than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

~ Oscar Wild

Oscar and other famous people throughout history have eluded to the fact that there is no such thing as bad publicity. And while there may be some truth to that, the fact is, many SMB owners know firsthand that getting publicity can be incredibly challenging thanks to limited resources and staff.

Here are some of our favorite ways SMBs can leverage the power of PR and get their name in the news.

Tell Customer Stories

In many ways, a PR campaign is no different than other forms of advertising, and by that I mean you should always be customer-focused. Your message should never be about how great your products or services are, but how much they help the people in your local community.

Your brand’s story should be a curation of your customer’s stories. Contact some of your most loyal customers (AKA – your biggest fans) to find out how your business has helped them and how they personally use your product or service.

Once you speak with enough customers, you’ll get a sense of how they are interacting with your business and how your company is positively impacting your community. And, once you know this, you can contact some local journalists to see if someone might be interested in helping you share these stories.

Hijack the News

You may have heard the term “newsjacking” but weren’t exactly sure what it meant or how it could benefit your bottom line.

This approach entails keeping your eye on any breaking news that might be relevant to your business and then piggybacking on it to try and get your company into the story. This can be a powerful meth od to help SMBs break into the news cycle and expand their reach.

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Of course, as with most successes in life, timing is everything. With newsjacking, you’ve got to be able to move on a story right after it’s broken, when journalists are scrambling to get fresh perspectives and additional information.

For instance, a bakery in Dallas hopped onto the popular spinner trend and created a fidget spinner cookie that got the attention of top publications.

You may also want to hijack the news when you know it is about to break, as in the case of knowing an upcoming event or a report being released about your local economy.

You might be thinking you don’t have time to follow news cycles, but you can use something like Google alerts for key terms related to your industry, and updates will be emailed to you.

Tap into Thought Leadership

Local business owners have two big advantages: they know their industry, and they know what their customers want or need. You should be using this knowledge to your advantage.

Here’s a perfect example of what leveraging thought leadership might look like:

A small business PR strategy resulted in this Philly.com article that interviewed the owner of Body Cycle Studio in Philadelphia to discuss his favorite workout songs – plus he created a playlist. How much extra business do you think this article helped him get? Plenty.

At the end of the day, getting local press coverage will take some effort and commitment. Don’t feel discouraged if your first 10 pitches for stories get rejected – that’s simply the nature of the beast, as journalists get hundreds of pitches, sometimes in a single day.

But this is a numbers game. If you keep at it, you will eventually land in your local news cycle and your business will be rewarded handsomely for your efforts.

Topics: advertising, advertising strategy, public relations

How to Mix Media Like a Pro

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, May 15, 2017 @ 01:59 PM

Inlast week’s blogpost I talked about what media mixing is and why you should be doing it. This week, let’s dive into how to go about it.

Though I’ll break it down more as we go, the KEY to determining the right mix of media is to think about who it is you’re trying to reach and uncover how they like to get their information. There is NO sense spending money on the wrong channels and sending your message/offer where no one will pay attention to them.

It’s a Customer-Centric Strategy

When you start to think about whether you should use OOH, TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, email, social media, or mobile, make sure you know which channels will be the best at getting your target audience’s attention.

Stop Asking the Wrong Questions

So often our clients will ask questions like, “Should we advertise on Facebook?” or “How much ad spend should we put toward inserts?” These are the wrong questions to ask. The most important questions to ask yourself before developing a mixed media campaign are:

  • Who is my target audience?Attractive woman thinking on grey background.jpeg
  • Where do they go to get information?
  • Where are they in your sales funnel?
  • What time of day are they most available to hear your message and take action?

Discovering these answers will make the difference between a campaign flop and a campaign homerun. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t want to use a channel because it’s the new media darling; you should use a channel because it will reach the right people at the right time with the right message.

Understand Human Behavior in General

While it is evident that consumer behavior can and does change over time, it doesn’t necessarily change that fast or that much.

Case in point: David Ogilvy made a name for himself as a master of print advertising during the heyday of radio and TV. While most people were touting the benefits of these newer, shiner channels, Ogilvy successfully launched print campaigns for brands like Dove, Rolls-Royce, and Shell, and he became a legend in the process.

The same trends are happening today. While social media and mobile are getting more and more attention, consumers have adopted these new trends slowly. Plenty of consumers still read print publications and use desktops.

The moral of the story is, always consider new trends that come along, but don’t neglect those prospects who are slower to adopt them. Reach out to them the “old fashioned” way and be handsomely rewarded.

Mind Your Business

When it comes to taking the advice of advertising experts – us included – you should take lessons with a grain of salt. Just because Moz publishes a case study about their latest success with search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, doesn’t mean your company will be successful with SEO. Why? Because you most likely have a different target audience and different messaging.

By all means, take a look around to see what’s working for others – particularly your own competition – and listen to what the experts have to say, this will definitely expose you to possible channels and strategies.

But ALWAYS understand that your business is unique and what really matters is engaging your customers and prospects in a way that is effective.

Test

Focus groups and marketing gurus are helpful, in theory, but the only way to tell what media will work for your business is to test the waters. It’s always a good idea to use a 10% - 20% of your marketing budget to run exploratory campaigns to determine if a channel you suspect will be effective, will be. Never roll out a new mixed media campaign without testing small first. This is the only way to safely determine if a new media will capture your audience’s attention.

Understand the Rules

Once you’ve determined your target audience and which channels they prefer to receive information, you’ve got to clearly understand the rules of those selected channels. For instance, you don’t run a Facebook ad campaign in the same way you run a direct mail campaign, and vice versa.

Before you launch, study your channels and know how best to leverage each platform. Your ultimate goal is to adapt your messaging to what your audience expects on each different channel.

Embrace a Long Game Approach

You should think of each separate channel as your short game and your overall integrated multi-channel campaigns as your long game. Though delivering messaging across a range of channels is more effective, it takes time to select the right channels and strategies, test them, tweak them and roll them out. Remember - have patience. You won’t see results overnight.

If you follow these rules, you will see success. Just make sure your overall message and brand image is recognizable over all channels so your audience can recognize you.

Now get mixing.

Topics: advertising, integrated marketing, target audience, print ads, Media Mix, targeting

3 Ways to Create Revenue-Generating Direct Mail Campaigns

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 11:58 AM

I found my old Trapper Keeper over the weekend. (If you’re under 35, Google it). I thought my Trapper Keeper was the coolest thing ever back in the day (still kinda do) and couldn’t wait to show it to my daughter, who I thought might want to use it for school.

As I opened and closed and opened and closed the Velcro flap, hearing that familiar thwip, thwip, thwip, thwip, I imagined my daughter walking down the hallway of her school, suddenly the coolest kid in her class because she had a genu-ine Trapper Keeper in almost-pristine condition. It would be a beautiful bond we share, like when and if she wants to wear my wedding dress down the aisle.

What is it?”

After explaining the wondrous thing I was offering her, all she could manage to say was, “No, thanks,” before giving me a strange look and walking to her bedroom. Teenagers.

Why do I mention my Trapper Keeper? Because my daughter, and most people her age, are obsessed with all-things digital. If I wanted to give her my Smartphone or iPad she would have been more than happy to take them.

But just because you don’t have to charge a Trapper Keeper or can’t text on it doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Far from it. Kids still take notes and get handout sheets. They still need to keep their paper-stuff organized.

Typically the idea of launching a direct mail campaign gets the same sneer and quizzical look my daughter gave me. And why? Because it’s a bit old-fashioned? Because the tactic has been around awhile? Many marketers assume direct mail no longer works, and/or they believe postage rates are outrageous.

The truth is direct mail very much works and it’s very affordable.

The StatsDirect Mail Advertising - Three Arrows Hit in Red Target on a Hanging Sack on Natural Bokeh Background..jpeg

 

According to a recent USPS Household Diary Study, 42% of recipients scan or read direct mail pieces. This means that close to half of your target audience is going to actually stop what they’re doing to read your message. Even more exciting: if you’ve designed your direct mail campaign optimally (I’ll get to that), you might actually achieve a one to two percent (heck – even a 10%) response rate. Yes, that is totally achievable with direct mail.

Now let’s compare that to an average digital banner ad. You’re lucky if you get a 0.14% clickthrough rate. Even then, once someone lands on your landing page, you’re lucky if you convert 2%.

Now let’s discuss cost.

Many will say to their media buyers who are crazy enough to suggest launching a direct mail campaign, “But a digital banner will be seen by millions of eyes and it costs less than a direct mail campaign.

Let’s do a little math to dispel this misconception:

If you execute a direct mail campaign to 10,000 targets, and achieved only a 1% response rate, you would have gained 100 new customers. Not too shabby. Remember, with direct mail you can rent or create a highly-targeted list of prospects inexpensively so you don’t waste precious circulation. With direct mail, you ONLY send your offer to households that meet your criteria.

In order to gain those same 100 customers with your digital banner ad, it would have to reach 3,035,700 pairs of eyes. Not only is that a whole lot of people, but you can bet a good majority of them are non-targets, meaning they are not and never will be interested in what you have to offer. Wasted money.

So, which scenario is a better way to spend your ad dollars?

3 Ways to Create Revenue-Generating Direct Mail Campaigns

Now that you understand direct mail is not only still an incredibly effective and affordable way to get your offer in front of the right people, let’s look at three ways you get can the most bang for your buck:

Be Creative

Even if you send a plain-old enveloped mailer you’ll likely get a good response. That’s because most people get very little mail these days. But imagine the response rate you could get if your mailer was creative and attention-grabbing?

Consider using heavier stocks and coatings that invite people to notice your mailer. Maybe use a #10 envelope instead of a standard. Or forget an envelope altogether and try something that folds in a unique way. If you make it fun for people to open your mailer, chances are they will. Make it like a game or a gift and watch your response rate soar.

Leverage Technology

By all means take advantage of technology that will help you personalize your mailers and increase engagement and response. High-resolution inkjet, four-color inkjet and digital 1-to-1 print offer hyper-personalized mailers. Perhaps more importantly, this technology allows marketers to create individual versions of offers instead of mailing general messages to large groups.

Ask About Postage Discounts

Speak to your media buyer about ways you can save money. He or she might suggest processing your piece in five-digit delivery sequences or a carrier route. They might also discuss drop shipping, commingling and co-palletization with you, all great ways to help you save, and all can be combined to come up with a personal delivery system that fits your budget and gets your offer in front of the right people at the right time.

Ignore what you’ve heard about direct mail campaigns. While everyone is fighting online to get consumer attention, you can quietly and cheaply get their attention offline.

 

Download the CMO's Guide to Integrating Print and Digital Media

Topics: advertising, benefits of print, direct marketing, direct mail

Five Things You’re Doing Wrong with Your Billboard Ads

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

As new channels become available to marketers and integrative campaigns become even more complex (and CMOs become even more accountable for delivering big results), it becomes increasingly important to make every advertising dollar count.

Billboard advertising remains an incredibly effective way of reaching an audience and getting a nice return on your investment. That is, if you don’t screw it up.

Here are 5 things you’re doing wrong with your billboard ads:

  1. You’re Writing the Great American Novel

Your billboard should not read like a novel. It should be short and sweet, containing no more than six words. Remember, people will see your billboard when they’re driving, so they literally don’t have time to read much more than six words. When you only have a few seconds to get your message across, you’ve got to make sure that every word counts.

  1. You’re Using Your Billboard as a Direct Response Ad

We speak often on this blog about the impact direct response ads can have on your audience (and your bottom line), but billboards shouldn’t be used for that. Billboard ads are about creating interest and brand-building, but they should never be expected to do the heavy lifting. Save that for your print and TV ads. With this in mind, don’t cover your billboards with 1-800 numbers and website addresses. The only exception to this rule is if your website address or phone number is your main message/headline.

  1. You’re Being Cute and Clever

An uninspired billboard won’t get attention. A smart billboard, on the other hand, will grab attention and make a lasting impression. But a billboard that’s trying too hard to be clever or cute will get nothing but eye rolls or completely ignored.

Advertising is not about being clever or smarter than your audience, it’s about simple, clear and direct messaging.

  1. You Believe Less is More

Billboards are kind of like potato chips: eating one is okay, but eating more is better. Billboards are a mass market medium that require support.

Before making your buy, be sure to inquire about the billboard’s Gross Ratings Point (GRP). This number is based on traffic, visibility, location, size and so on. So if your billboard’s score is 50%, that means that roughly 50% of the populations in your local area would see your billboard each day. Having one billboard is okay, but having more billboards around town will get you as close to a 100% showing as possible.

  1. You Didn’t Test Your Ad First

All billboard ad campaigns look brilliant on a 27” monitor, but are you sure that information will translate and be seen and understood once it’s up on that board? It’s important to put each and every one of your ads up to the “Arm’s Length Test.” Here’s how you do it:

Print your ad to the size of a business card. Now hold it out at arm’s length. Does it hold up? Does it still have the same impact it did when it was on your big ol’ monitor? If yes, great. If no, time to refine your message until it can pass this test with flying colors. Remember, your message has got to pop, and you only have about 5 seconds to make an impression on motorists and pedestrians.

If you stop (or never start) making these 5 common billboard mistakes, you should begin to see amgreater impact on your audience and a better ROI.

Topics: advertising, advertising strategy, billboard

6 Old School Advertising Techniques Today’s Entrepreneurs Should be Leveraging

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Wed, Mar 08, 2017 @ 01:06 PM

When it comes to advertising techniques, digital technology has continued to evolve and offer (read: inundate us with) a plethora of effective tools. But, more often than not, these new, shiny techniques draw focus and attention away from traditional techniques that have been working for more than 100 years.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to get ahead of the competition, don’t forget to use some (or all) of the following old school advertising techniques.

  1. Phone Calls

Startups must spend a good chunk of time and money on acquiring new business. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t spend any time or money on keeping the business they already have. Retaining current customers builds your bottom line and these loyal fans act as brand ambassadors – stirring up new business on your behalf by word-of-mouth and social media testimonials.

Picking up the phone and reaching out to customers is a highly-effective way of keeping your happy customers happy and fixing whatever it is that makes some customers not-so-happy. Making a dozen or so calls each month is a great way to retain business.

  1. Direct Mail

No one really gets or reads snail mail anymore. People choose to go paperless and have their utility bills and mortgages automatically paid each month. And why write a letter when you can stay in touch with friends and family via email or Facebook updates?

But the thing is, we all really love getting mail. There’s just something about opening that mailbox, reaching in, and pulling out something that piques our interest. Direct mail is finally starting to have its heyday because it finally has a chance to stand out and make a statement.

Consider sending out announcements about upcoming sales, or, better yet, coupons. Also, adding a personal note thanking customers for their business is always a nice touch.

  1. Print Ads

Whoever said print was dead was either lying or uninformed. Print is very much alive and well and should absolutely be a part of your integrated campaigns. Print can be incredibly effective at reaching baby boomers and higher-income consumers. And, if your product or service speaks directly to a particular audience, you will most likely find a magazine who caters to your prospects.

Two smiling women lying on the floor are both reading a magazine.jpeg

  1. Email Marketing

Email marketing has taken a backseat since social media marketing became all the rage. While organizing subscriber lists and creating content that is highly-relevant to each segment takes time, this channel can be a large source of your business.

 

  1. Networking

Good Ol’-fashioned networking is the oldest form of marketing but still one of the most powerful ways to grow your business. Attending conferences will put you in touch with influencers, potential partners and clients, and existing clients as well. If you are not the outgoing type, find someone within your organization who is naturally social and charismatic who can represent you at these important meet-and-greets.

  1. Speaking Engagements

More than ever, what consumers are looking for is thought leadership. And, while there are numerous online channels for growing your reputation as an industry expert, there’s nothing quite like standing in front of an audience and sharing your knowledge in person. This not only shows you off as an expert on your subject but also helps to instantly form trust between prospects and your organization.

Sometimes being the hip, new, happening kid on the block means going against the herd mentality and kicking it old school. As an entrepreneur, if you incorporate some or all of these timeless advertising techniques into your strategy, you’ll have a much better chance of pulling ahead of the competition and building a loyal following.

Topics: advertising, networking, printadvertising, emailmarketing

5 Common Branding Mistakes That Will Kill Your Small Business

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Mon, Feb 13, 2017 @ 11:06 AM

What is branding exactly? It’s the development of a public persona, one that causes an instant emotional connection within consumers. When you think of great branding, what comes to mind? Nike’s swoosh? Coca Cola’s red can and white lettering? Or maybe McDonald’s golden arches?

As a small business owner, you’ve probably dreamed of reaching such branding success. You’ve also most likely become instantly overwhelmed at the mere idea of taking on what can be an expensive and demanding initiative.

The good news is, effective branding is much easier and more cost-effective than you might think, provided you avoid the following 5 common mistakes.

  1. Being Shortsighted

You most likely know that having a strong brand is highly advantageous from a customer-relationship perspective. After all, the stronger your brand the more top of mind you become. For instance, when you think of buying shoes online, you immediately think of Zappos.

But…

Did you know that branding is also valuable for SEO marketing? It’s no secret that Google prioritizes branded listings in its organic search results. They do this because branded websites are more likely to get the clicks. More clicks mean happier search engine users. Hence, don’t be shortsighted. Undertaking a branding initiative could lead to both awareness benefits and a boost in website traffic.

  1. Failing to Implement Branding Guidelines

Your branding efforts will be sabotaged by a lack of cohesiveness. This cohesiveness can only be reached by implementing branding guidelines. Doing so will allow your brand to be instantly recognized no matter which marketing channel you use. People recognize Coca Cola in their TV ads as well as their print ads and social media campaigns.16703717985_21f9c0cc6f_b.jpg

What should your guidelines include?

  • Logo
  • Brand colors
  • Taglines
  • Fonts and typography
  • The “voice” used in your branded materials
  • Imagery
  • Mascots or spokespeople

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of guidelines, these points are essential to getting you started.

  1. Not Keeping it Simple

Small businesses can learn a lot from Coca Cola when it comes to keeping their brand image simple. Take a look at how their logo has changed – or not changed – over the years. While the fonts have varied a bit since the soft drink giant launched in 1887, the logo in general has had the same look and feel over the last 127 years. Also worth mentioning is that look happens to be very clean and simple.

It may be tempting to “go all out” and add more variables when initiating your branding process. But, a logo with five colors and four different graphic elements will confuse your audience and overcomplicate things. Take a note from Coca Cola and keep things simple.

  1. Being Vague

I already mentioned the importance of keeping your brand image and logo clean and simple. But don’t confuse this will dull and vague. Your brand’s elements must reveal something about your company and its value proposition. Catchphrases like “Best-selling” “award-winning” or “new and improved” have been so overused, they no longer hold any meaning with consumers.

Focus on creating clear language, logos and imagery that highlight your company’s value proposition.

  1. Not Monitoring Your Brand’s Usage

Developing and launching your small business’s brand is only half of the branding equation. The other half is making sure you’re monitoring how others are using your brand image on your behalf. If you let this task slide, you risk publishing partners using your logo but with the wrong colors, or a review website using the wrong URL link. Or, worse, a competitor using a tagline that sounds strikingly similar.

While branding takes thought and comprehensive planning, it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. As long as you avoid these 5 common mistakes, you should be able to develop a brand that is instantly recognizable and connects with your target audience.

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Topics: advertising, marketing, small business, branding

How Local Advertisers Might Cash in on the Pokémon Go Craze

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

You would have to have been living under a proverbial rock to have not heard about the mass hysteria revolving around Pokémon Go, the game made famous 20 years ago by Ninetendo. Within two days of its launch, the app had completely surpassed the dating app Tinder and was generating more downloads than any other iPhone app in the U.S. market. Pokémon Go has also acquired more US users than even the social media giant Twitter.

For all of these boasting rights, the game is still in its infancy, and industry experts are predicting that once Pokémon Go begins a monetization strategy, it will be a game-changer (yes, pun intended). This could have big ramifications (and good ones) in the world of advertising for brands of all sizes.

Here are some reasons why local advertisers might one day soon be able to cash in on the Pokémon Go craze.

It Already Generates RevenueIt Already Generates Revenue

Players create revenue through in-app purchases via PokéCoins. These can then be used to buy tools that will improve their overall performance and hence gaming experience. According to App Annie, a business intelligence firm that watches apps and digital goods, Pokémon Go is on its way to earning potentially more than $1 billion annually from these in-app purchases.

As impressive as that figure is, there is still huge earning potential should Pokémon Go decide to open its platform to advertisers. These advertising partnerships would have to be strategic and creative, but the financial gains would be worth the effort.

For instance, they could charge a company a fee to become a branded PokéStop or Gym, where much of the game’s action takes place. John Hanke, the chief executive of Niantic, the company behind the app, has already confirmed that sponsored locations will soon be seen on Pokémon Go. Niantic is currently working on a branded relationship with McDonald’s. It’s only a matter of time before smaller brands can capitalize.

For now, local businesses are leveraging the game’s popularity by hosting Pokémon Go parties or offering special deals for players in order to get bodies in the door.

Huge ReachHuge Reach

Pokémon Go has captured a lot, and I mean a lot of peoples’ attention. There are the diehard fans who were playing the game, watching the cartoon and collecting the playing cards back in the 90s. This is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. But, because of its unique use of augmented reality, the game is also attracting thousands of users who had never played the game before.

Beyond the sheer number of people playing the game, the really exciting news is just how often they’re playing it. Data indicates that more than 60% of the users who have downloaded the app are playing it daily. And, by midsummer of this year, users were playing an average of 43 minutes a day. TechCrunch has also revealed that users are spending more time playing Pokémon Go than they spend on Facebook.

It’s exciting to think of the reach and exposure the game might give local advertisers one day in the very near future.

Location, Location, Location

Local marketers have had the concept of location-based marketing shoved down their throat over the past five years or so. Those that paid attention are now reaping the financial rewards.

Well, you could say Pokémon Go knows a thing or two about leveraging location and combining it with gaming and branding. Once brick-and-mortar establishments begin to get on board, the results could be huge.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar location wondering how you can turbocharge your local marketing efforts, start paying attention to Pokémon Go and watch how it evolves. Play the game, get to know the user base to figure out ways you can someday capitalize on its enormous popularity. You’ll then be ready to not only take full advantage of the game once it starts monetizing, you’ll also be for the new marriage of location marketing and augmented reality, projected to be a $120 billion market by 2020.

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What Marketers Can Learn from the 2016 Presidential Campaigns

Posted by Jenna Bruce on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

When you think about it, your marketing campaign has an awful lot in common with a political campaign. For starters, politicians, like brands, try to influence key demographics by offering solutions to problems. They also strive to make sure their message is always consistent and memorable.

If you’re a company looking to increase your reach and sales, you need to view your marketing plan the same way a strategist approaches the campaign trail. Here are some of the things marketers can learn from the 2016 presidential campaigns.

Consumers Aren't IMpressed by the Same-Old Same-OldConsumers Aren’t Impressed by the Same-Old Same-Old

One of the most blatant lessons to come out of the 2016 campaigns is that the American people are tired of establishment politics. Just look at the popularity of a non-establishment candidate like Trump. He is nothing like we’ve seen before in an election year. Brash, unapologetic and unpredictable, he says what others don’t and uses Twitter like a Champion.

Even someone like Bernie Sanders, though a professional politician, has been embraced mostly because of his praise for socialism and promise of radical changes needed for the current economic structure. He doesn’t feel establishment (or at least he didn’t before Clinton won the Democratic slot).

The popularity of these two different politicians speaks to the desire of the people for something new and fresh.

Consumers, who are bombarded each day with hundreds of the same-old, same-old marketing spiel, are also hungry for a brand message that can stand out in a sea of white noise. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Bigger Budgets Don’t Automatically Mean Success

Up until this present election, the campaigns that spent the most money on pushing their ads typically did the best at the polls. But not this year. According to data from Fox, Until very recently Trump was only spending about $40 per vote, whereas someone like Jeb Bush, who dropped out rather early in the race and was trailing Trump the entire time, spent nearly $1,200 for each vote. And Sanders was running a very successful campaign on a tiny budget.

What can you glean from this? Focus on HOW you spend your money, NOT how much.

Keep Your Message Simple

Politicians that do well tend to repeat one, clear, simple message over and over again. When Barack Obama ran in 2008, he was the President that promoted hope and change and “Yes we can.” This appealed to many idealistic young adults who were frustrated by an antiquated system.

Donald Trump supporters chant “Make America Great Again” as they wish for a bygone era; a time when this country was perhaps safer and more economically viable.

In your own campaigns, take a message that me be a bit complex and nuanced and try and convey it in one simple, memorable tagline.

Your Product Must Deliver What You PromiseYour product must deliver what you promise

Just about every politician who has ever run for POTUS has run a campaign full of BIG promises. They promise to balance the budget, promise to create more jobs, promise to bring our troops home. More often than not, as soon as they’re in the White House, they deliver very little on the promises that got them into office.

If your campaigns promise solutions, you had better be sure your product or service can make good on those promises and deliver the solutions. Here’s why:

So many businesses focus on acquiring more and more new customers, but repeat business is critical for success. This is because when customers are happy and come back for more, there are no acquisition costs involved.

 

While political candidates aren’t exactly the same as brands, the tactics they use to increase their visibility and inspire loyalty among voters are effective. Today’s marketers would do well to explore these same tactics in their own campaigns.

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