Archive for the 'Green Marketing' Category

Industry’s Powerhouse Marketing Company, Create-A-Card, Inc. becomes the largest full-service traditional and digital marketing company with its acquisition of Innovative Marketing Concepts

Posted on March 7, 2012

[March 7, 2012, St. James, NY] — Create-A-Card, Inc.’s Founder and President, Arthur Messina announced today that his company has acquired its long-time competitor, Innovative Marketing Concepts (IMC).  This acquisition enables Create-A-Card to further advance its position as the pinnacle of global marketing in the chauffeured transportation industry.

According to Mr. Messina, the acquisition will fuel what has already been exceptional business growth in revenue and market share. “This acquisition is just a part of Create-A-Card’s continuing expansion,” he said.  “With the technology and creative talent of our team, Create-A-Card, delivers the full spectrum of marketing services and support – from corporate identity development and public relations, to cutting edge digital projects and social media.

Already positioned to lead the industry in innovation, Create-A-Card will provide the companies’ combined customers a wider range of services and value.  Create-A-Card brings superior strengths and assets that you won’t find available at any other company.  According to Messina, “This is a great opportunity to leverage our market position to address customer needs in new service segments and technologies. By focusing purely on the delivery of marketing services to the chauffeured transportation industry and always delivering expert advice, this acquisition is a strategic move that we believe will position Create-A-Card for additional expansion and sustained growth.”

IMC brings world-class marketing people and an established client base to Create-A-Card, Inc. and the acquisition assures their clients that they are in excellent hands.  More importantly, Messina believes that combining the resources of both companies will provide an important strategic fit. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with such a high quality organization. We look forward to the positive sales and earnings contributions that this acquisition affords now and in the years ahead,” said Messina.  IMC feels that that this acquisition is in the best interest of their clients and feels that they will have the opportunity to be working with a superb organization.

About Create-A-Card, Inc. Create-A-Card, Inc. has, under the leadership of Arthur Messina, evolved from a specialized printing company in 1986 into what is, today, the industry’s leading full-service marketing strategy and solutions provider. For over two decades, Mr. Messina has taken a leadership position in ground transportation and has built a reputation as an industry innovator and the preferred partner for market-leading transportation companies.

For more information, please visit the www.createacardinc.com company website, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, or contact Arthur Messina @ 631-584-2273.

It’s all about Branding…

Posted on October 21, 2011

I have included a great overview, below, that initially appeared in Bloomberg Business Week.

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Define your brand identity—your product’s “personality”—before you spend a dime on advertising or marketing.

Talk to entrepreneurs about their marketing and communications efforts, and they’ll often use the words “branding,” “marketing,” and “advertising” interchangeably. That reflects the pervasive confusion about the terms.  About 15 years ago, ‘branding’ became a buzzword in the business vernacular, and people still get the words mixed up all the time.

That confusion is unfortunate, because understanding the concepts and how they mesh is vital to every company’s bottom line. Studies show companies that market their products or services without first establishing their brand identities are not likely to achieve return on investment. If you’re spending money to advertise and market without being connected to a brand position, you might as well pile the money up and burn it.

Rob Frankel, a branding expert and author in Los Angeles, calls branding the most misunderstood concept in all of marketing, even among professionals. Branding, he says, “is not advertising and it’s not marketing or PR. Branding happens before all of those: First you create the brand, then you raise awareness of it.”

Your Brand is Your Personality

And while many people think successful branding is only about awareness, it’s not, Frankel adds. “Everyone knows about cancer but how many people actually want it? Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you’re perceived as ‘the only,’ there’s no place else to shop. Which means your customers gladly pay a premium for your brand.”

Your product or service is not your company’s brand and neither is your logo or your business card. Your brand is the genuine “personality” of your company. “It’s what your customers think of you and say about you when they’ve left your company,” says Rodger Roeser, president of Cincinnati-based Eisen Management Group, a public-relations and brand-development firm.

Your brand is what your company stands for and what it is known for. “Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you stand for. Go around the room with your leadership and ask them what the company stands for. Settle on one or two brand pillars and build your brand around them. If you can’t define your brand, your customers won’t be able to, either. And the risk is that someone else will define it for you—probably your competitors,” Roeser says.

The Promise You Make to the World

A brand is a promise and branding is the act of devising the promise your company makes to the world. Marketing, is the strategy that differentiates your brand promise from all the other brand promises in that increasingly crowded house called “your category.”

Think of marketing like a toolbox containing branding, advertising, direct mail, market research, public relations, and other tools. “Marketing represents the combination of methods organizations use to persuade their target audience toward some specified behavior such as sales,” says Stephen Rapier, of Glendale (Calif.)-based The Artime Group.

Advertising, Rapier says, can take many forms: print, as in newspaper and magazine ads; outdoor, such as billboards; online Web banners; and broadcast advertising on radio and TV. “Typically, the goal of advertising is to grab attention, create positive perceptions, and prompt response while conveying information consumers will find relevant to their needs,” he notes.

Your Brand Is a Lifestyle

A successful marketing strategy uses all—or most—of the tools in the box depending on the job at hand, Cecil says. “Crafting a winning marketing strategy is challenging enough even when you have articulated your brand promise and is probably impossible if you haven’t.”

If you have not specified your company’s brand, don’t spend another dime on marketing until you do. While everyone’s familiar with megabrands such as Apple (AAPL), Nike (NKE), and Virgin, small companies can also develop potent brands and market them successfully, says Steve Manning, managing director at Igor, a branding and naming firm based in San Francisco.

“A brand creates an image in the mind of the consumer. It says something is different at your firm, something worth more than business as usual. If your firm is a commodity, your customers will choose you solely on the basis of price or getting something for free. If you’ve got a brand, you’re selling a lifestyle and you can sell anything you want,” Manning says.

Why you should be wary if you offer free Wi-Fi

Posted on July 22, 2011

By Guest Author, Patricia Charla

If you offer free Wi-Fi and your customers use it to illegally download or share copyrighted content, you could be punished as Internet service providers step up enforcement, NFIB warned. “Some people don’t want to pirate music from home, because they’re afraid of getting caught, so they’ll use the Wi-Fi connection of a neighbor or the coffee shop down the street,” said NFIB’s Tony Gagliardi, who gives tips on keeping your Wi-Fi protected.

Please play with the words so it isn’t a verbatim pick-up.  A lot of limo companies are putting wifi in their sedans, limos and buses.  Some of them are even providing Ipads in their cars.

Read the full article here.

Have You Seen These?

Posted on July 15, 2011

These curious little black and white squares have literally been popping up everywhere. You’ve probably seen them in ads, catalogues, brochures and more. What are they and what do they do?

U.S. Postal Service is offering a 3% discount on standard mailings that include a QR (quick response) code in July & August 2011

 
Quick Response (QR) codes

are specific matrix barcodes that are digitally encoded with information that both barcode readers and smart phones can read. The QR code can contain a link to a specific web page (URLs), text or other types of data. A more sophisticated QR code can be used to embed other useful data like videos, music or promotional campaigns. A QR code is capable of 360 degree (omni-directional), high-speed reading.

Most smart phones (as of 2011) allow you to download a free “QR reader” that enables any phone to become a QR code scanner. Beginning in 2011, some phones already have this app as part of its standard software.

Having a QR code in your promotional materials grabs attention, leading users to high-quality, high-value content instantaneously. Skillfully using this tool in conjunction with social media marketing, video marketing or a high-quality (mobile) web site can help companies stand out in a marketplace that craves variety. Many businesses use QR codes innovatively to reach consumers via posters, billboards, ads, etc. to provide information regarding consumer campaigns, promotions and other company information.

QR codes can be a great branding tool. Mobile phone users can be directed to web sites where users can download ads, ringtones, logos, videos and flash presentations. Using QR codes on packaging is another innovative way to advertise products or offer information.

For businesses looking to differentiate themselves from their competition, QR codes should be on their radar. By integrating QR codes and a mobile friendly web site into their campaigns, businesses can leverage the needs and attention of the smart phone user more effectively. 

Let Create-A-Card, Inc, your marketing specialist for the transportation industry, help you capitalize on this unique marketing opportunity and begin leveraging the potential of Quick Response codes in your business today!

Thwarting Waste with a File Format That Can’t Be Printed

Posted on June 3, 2011

Digital documents (made out of ones and zeroes) are a lot less wasteful than paper (made out of carbon-eating trees). To minimize unnecessary printing, some people add a reminder at the bottom of emails that says something like “Please consider the environment before printing this.”

But the folks at the World Wildlife Fund have another solution. This week, they released a new file format—WWF, of course—which is, essentially, “a PDF that cannot be printed out.” Drop by Save as WWF, Save a Tree to download software that will add a “Save as WWF” option to your print menu. Any WWFs you create can be opened by programs that open PDFs—but can’t be printed.

Will you really save a tree every time you use this new file format? Obviously not. But the campaign does provide an effective reminder that a lot of paper gets wasted out of plain old carelessness.

4 Ways to Create a Niche for Green Marketing Your Limousine Company

Posted on September 28, 2010

These days, a great way to draw in new customers is by appealing to their environmental awareness. As a part of an effectively executed marketing plan, the promotion of your company’s eco-friendly advantages can help it stand apart from the competition in a dramatic and lucrative way. If you operate a limousine or transportation company, you’ve already got plenty of green benefits built in to the way that you do business. Why not play them up? A few top tips for doing so are outlined below.

  1. Define Your Audience – Your niche marketing plan will be dead in the water if you don’t know who to aim it at. Many people rely on the services of transportation and limousine companies; many others are on the fence, but would use them quite often if the environmental benefits of doing so were made clear. Therefore, your target audience is mostly going to consist of people who either already use the services that your company offers – but who will become loyal customers if you promote your organization’s green benefits. Those who rarely use your services, but would do so more often if they knew the environmental benefits of doing so, would be another part of your target audience.
  2. Choose Your Focus – You’ve already decided to focus your niche marketing plan on the green characteristics of your company, and of transportation companies in general. Now, you should zero in on a couple of ideas that you’d like to get across during your campaign. You could point out that passenger vehicles cause a lot more pollution than large buses do, on a per-passenger basis, or you could choose a number of different points to emphasize. The point is, you want to select a main point – and stick with it.
  3. Present Your Points in a Clear Way – Whether your marketing campaign is going to be small or large, the main points that you’ve chosen to highlight should remain consistent throughout it. The last thing that you want to do is confuse your prospective customers.
  4. Practice What You Preach – Finally, make sure that you can easily back up any claims that you make. Exaggerating or stretching the truth about the eco-benefits of using your company can backfire in a seriously damaging way. Besides, there’s no reason to do this: The limousine and transportation industry really does have many green characteristics that you can stress in your marketing campaign.

Green Doesn’t Mean Don’t Use Paper

Posted on September 20, 2010

At Create-A-Card, we are very aware of the concerns surrounding the environmental impact of print advertising and understand why our clients are reluctant at times to include printed media in their media outreach campaigns. Our experience in public relations has taught us the value of having “hard copy” versions of text, graphics and design are crucial to success, so we have become dedicated to helping our clients design print advertising campaigns that implement strategies that honor the three “R’s” — reduce, reuse and recycle. We have discovered that by making eco-friendly advertising the basis of the campaign, our clients can actually save money while attracting new customers and helping to conserve our precious natural resources.

Eco-Friendly Paper Products

The most obvious place to start is with the paper that is chosen for all posters, envelopes, business cards, flyers, presentations and stationary. Thanks to the vigorous paper and cardboard recycling campaigns implemented over the past 25 years, modern paper mills have access to a large quantity of “gently used” paper that can be easily recycled into new products using a fraction of the energy required to harvest a living tree and turn it into paper pulp. To further make a good impression on your clients, ensure that your company engages in strict recycling practices that are obvious to even the casual observer.

The familiar recycle logo of the three revolving arrows thereby becomes an integral part of a “green” advertising campaign and all paper selected for projects should have this symbol as their baseline. Not only is recycled paper cheaper, it also has more “character” to make your materials look more “organic” and less phony and manufactured. When you choose this kind of paper you can proudly display the recycle logo on all of your printed materials to show your company has a progressive and ecologically-minded attitude, a quality that can become a deciding factor in a customers’ decision-making process.

In fact, there are many clever recycled paper products, especially for a items that are only going to be used once — like coasters and invitations — that integrate wildflower seeds into a paper stock that dissolves easily, encouraging the consumer to continue the recycling process by planting it. There is also the option of using “tree-free” paper products that are made from bamboo, hemp or organic waste generated by coffee production and mango orchards.

Eco-Friendly Inks

Because of the heavy metals and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) created by traditional ink production, many innovative printers have devised inks appropriate for digital reproduction that are durable, rich and quick-drying. Soy-based inks are made from renewable resources and use a solvent called ethyl lactate which is considered to be the “greenest” solvent-based ink currently available. There are even companies that recycle pencil stubs into eco-friendly ink! The choice to use environmentally conscious ink also means your final product is much easier to recycle because it requires less heat to break down.

Eco-Friendly Printers

Just because your materials are green does not necessarily mean that your final product is going to be green unless consideration is taken about the practices of the print shop. Proper disposal of harmful solvents and energy-reduction techniques such as computer-controlled automation to eliminate paper waste are features that any reputable “green” print shop should include. Digital offset presses are considered superior because they are able to best utilize eco-friendly products to produce high-quality material that resists scratching and fading.

Eco-Friendly Campaigns

The final step is to integrate your environmentally-conscious attitude into the copy, graphics and overall design of your print media. Create a warm, friendly campaign for your print and internet advertising that emphasizes your commitment to sustainable practices so your target audience naturally associates your company with the green movement. Such strategies greatly increase the effectiveness of the all forms of media, not just the print aspect, and are integral to a modern, successful advertising campaign.

Thinking of Going Green? Here Are Some Green Marketing Strategies…

Posted on September 10, 2010

Green Marketing gives your company a fresh perspective that many of today’s consumers have grown up to understand as necessary. Companies that are new to green marketing, admittedly, need some time to adjust their own perspective. They often question the process all the way up until they see their bottom line. What green marketing does is expand that bottom line by adding a couple of factors that government and society have deemed important for the businesses in which they deal with. Green marketing takes nothing away from traditional marketing. The 4Ps of traditional marketing are still recognized: product, price, placement, and promotion. However, the bottom line is expanded into what is called by some people, the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.

The hallmark of green marketing is having a green product. Low energy use is crucial in some form, whether it be how the final product or service directly benefits the consumer or how the product or service is made or delivered before reaching the consumer. In the transportation industry, for example, focus is on how the transport is tied to efficient, low-pollution fuels and the use of non-toxic materials. Green marketing turns these factors into benefits for the customer in the form of health, low costs, and compliance with state and federal law.

Pricing has always been considered the factor most determinate of profitability. Pricing, however, is not limited to sticker amount. Green marketing looks at other strategies beside the hard exchange. Pricing is looked at as a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties see results and rewards. Creative pricing can take into account identity, credibility, and ongoing service. Green cost accounting takes into consideration the true or full cost and the benefits reaped from ecological and environmental aspects of business. Formulas have been developed to translate the benefits into financial terms.

Green marketing takes advantage of virtual placement in addition to physical placement. Today’s economy is largely driven by the internet today. No longer does placement mean the location of a retail store or a shelf in that store. Modern placement takes the community and global marketing into consideration. By making service available to the community and expanding it to the nation or world, green marketing can expand profit without impacting the environment.

One of the biggest tenets of green marketing is in promotion. Green marketing supports open, two-way, communication with everyone the company deals with, excluding vital information to competitors, of course. Green marketing communication includes reporting to investors on performance and future opportunities, informing employees about the company’s role in the well-being of the community, educating customers on additional services or products provided, and showing prospective clients how the company can provide solutions to their problems. Communication doesn’t stop there. It also leaves space for feedback and response.

Top Five Common Mistakes in Green Marketing

Posted on August 11, 2010

In the green world, knowing your audience is important. Miscommunication can cause a host of backlash, so it is important to be very specific and understand that consumers are wise to ‘come-ons’ and suspicious of extravagant claims. When you design material to communicate with this demographic, keep the following 10 tips in mind so you don’t lose business before it ever gets to your door.

Five Common Mistakes

1. Underestimating the intelligence of the audience

According to the New York Times, the green consumer tends to be inquisitive, suspicious, more open to new ideas and better informed than any other group of consumers in the marketplace. They have value standards to uphold that are considered for every purchase, and they do their research before deciding on what product to buy. It is important to provide verifiable facts and figures for them to use in their decision-making process and appeal to their heads as well as their hearts.

2. Making and disseminating vague or misleading environmental statements

When Ford launched its “Kermit the Frog” advertising campaign for their Ford Escape Hybrid, they ran ads that said, “Green vehicles. Cleaner factories. It’s the right road for our company, and we’re well underway.”

Meanwhile, Ford only produced 20,000 ‘green’ Hybrid SUV’s per year, while continuing to produce almost 80,000 gas guzzling F-series trucks per month. Needless to say, smart consumers caught on to the hypocrisy quickly and the campaign backfired so severely that the term “Greenwashing” became synonymous with Ford. Greenwashing is a derogatory term that consumers pin on misleading claims in green-targeted advertising. A company once accused of greenwashing has to do serious damage control to attract environmentally conscious consumers back to their company.

3. Use sweeping generalities to define the green consumer

The green demographic is not one single entity that reacts uniformly to all environmental criteria . A green consumer can range from 19 percent deep greens (who are totally committed to basing all purchases on green standards) to 33 percent medium greens (who are willing to make moderate sacrifices and pay a bit more for green products and services) to 16 percent light greens (who make green choices only if it makes economical as well as ecological sense). Make sure you know which demographic of this audience you want to address with your message and craft it accordingly.

4. Committing sins of omission

Transparency is everything in the information rich green market. When Horizon Organic Dairy advertised happy cows, it didn’t take green consumer’s long to investigate and discover that their cows weren’t so happy after all and were subjected to harsh factory conditions. Consequently, a protest was organized against the dairy that damaged their credibility and allowed a host of other products with higher standards to rush in and fill the gap. All the great PR in the world can’t correct a ’sin of omission’ marketing blunder.

5. Underestimating the power of the Internet

The internet has changed the way consumers shop, and the word-of-mouth network can spread bad news like a virus through blogs, social networking sites and comments on posted stories. In a flash, millions of consumers are alerted to misdeeds or extravagant product claims, and the green community has extensive, sophisticated internet networks and they know how to them effectively. This is why advertisers targeting the green market have to display a sense of integrity that leaves the flashy sales techniques and come-ons behind. All it takes is a click of the mouse for word to spread like wildfire, so make sure the gossip about your product or service gets the right kind of reviews by forgoing hype and maintaining integrity.

The most important mistake to avoid in marketing?  Not calling Create-A-Card, Inc!  With our decades of experience, we help you avoid common mistakes that can wind up costing you more than you can afford!  Give us a call today.

Creating a Niche Marketing Plan for Green

Posted on June 21, 2010

These days, a great way to draw in new customers is by appealing to their environmental awareness. As a part of an effectively executed marketing plan, the promotion of your company’s eco-friendly advantages can help it stand apart from the competition in a dramatic and lucrative way. If you operate a limousine or transportation company, you’ve already got plenty of green benefits built in to the way that you do business. Why not play them up? A few top tips for doing so are outlined below.

Define Your Audience – Your niche marketing plan will be dead in the water if you don’t know who to aim it at. Many people rely on the services of transportation and limousine companies; many others are on the fence, but would use them quite often if the environmental benefits of doing so were made clear. Therefore, your target audience is mostly going to consist of people who either already use the services that your company offers – but who will become loyal customers if you promote your organization’s green benefits. Those who rarely use your services, but would do so more often if they knew the environmental benefits of doing so, would be another part of your target audience.

Choose Your Focus – You’ve already decided to focus your niche marketing plan on the green characteristics of your company, and of transportation companies in general. Now, you should zero in on a couple of ideas that you’d like to get across during your campaign. You could point out that passenger vehicles cause a lot more pollution than large buses do, on a per-passenger basis, or you could choose a number of different points to emphasize. The point is, you want to select a main point – and stick with it.

Present Your Points in a Clear Way - Whether your marketing campaign is going to be small or large, the main points that you’ve chosen to highlight should remain consistent throughout it. The last thing that you want to do is confuse your prospective customers.

Practice What You Preach – Finally, make sure that you can easily back up any claims that you make. Exaggerating or stretching the truth about the eco-benefits of using your company can backfire in a seriously damaging way. Besides, there’s no reason to do this: The limousine and transportation industry really does have many green characteristics that you can stress in your marketing campaign.