Archive for August, 2010

Why Printed Materials Are Still Key Marketing Techniques in a Digital World

Posted on August 27, 2010
At Create-A-Card, we have noticed how often we have to convince our clients that their advertising budget must have a healthy slice delegated for printed materials. Apparently, the success of the Internet has given the impression that it should be able to handle the bulk of the promotional business. We remind them that the print industry has survived the onslaught of radio and television successfully, and is now meeting the challenge of the Internet as a direct competitor for its customers.

A recent study conducted by the California Polytechnic State University entitled “The Reality About the Promise of Printing in the Digital World” discovered that the printing industry is making radical changes to demonstrate how effectively they can compete with digital marketing and concluded that “the results make it clear that print will survive as a medium of choice in advertising, marketing, and communication….” They quoted a 2004 audit by the Magazine Publishers of America who found that “on average subscribers pass along their printed issue to an additional 3.6 industry decision-makers. So even the elite of the IT world recognized and benefit from print. What’s more, specific magazine content can be spotlighted and passed along on a one-to-one basis. A Magazine Publishers of America survey found that 24 percent of readers typically pass an article along to someone else while 23 percent save the article for future reference, and 13 percent visit a related Web site.”

Print media is keeping pace with modern trends by offering on-demand, customer-oriented services, especially in promotions where digital media is inappropriate. By integrating modern computer technology and Internet accessibility, print shops have developed the ability to make the best of both worlds. Clients can now design their own promotional material, add the graphics, include Internet links and even specify paper and ink preferences, usually without ever entering the print shop.

Direct mailing campaigns are an excellent example of a print strategy that still is effective and has verifiable results. These “old-school” techniques continue to bring in the clients because there is still a certain appeal to a piece of mail that was sent to your address with your name on it and has a special offer just for you. All the flashy Internet advertisements you can devise will not replace this kind of personal attention.

Business cards are another aspect of marketing they should always be trusted to a printer. You should avoid the temptation to “make your own” business cards on your personal printer like the plague because it will make you look like an amateur. Once again, print shops have risen to the occasion and offer complete online services that take you step by step through the process so you get just the card you want.

Also keep in mind some of your clients may still not be Internet savvy and won’t appreciate the fancy social networking sites, flash players and PDF links that you have spent so much money on, in fact they might find them downright irritating. They would much prefer to sit down with a hard copy of your report or proposal than squint at a computer screen with no ability to make notations in the margins.

All in all, the print industry is here to stay and maintains its vital role in a well-rounded marketing campaign. Smart business managers realize that they must reach beyond the impersonal digital market to keep that one-on-one connection with their customers that got them in business in the first place. The key is to balance your promotional budget to take full advantage of all the avenues available to connect with customers.

Unique Ways to Use Your Business Card to Promote Your Limo Company

Posted on August 16, 2010

At Create-A-Card, our experience in media relations has taught us how important a good business card can be — especially for a word-of-mouth enterprise like a limousine service — and how many ways it can be used to generate new customers, provide contact information for existing customers and remind old customers of your services. The more creative you are at distributing your business cards, the broader you cast your net and benefit from the grapevine.

A business card basically transmits your contact information and succinctly conveys information about your limo company’s particular style. Resist the urge to skimp on your business card budget and go ahead and invest in an assortment of cards in lavish colors with eye-catching designs printed on high-quality paper. Consider unique places you can tuck business cards besides the traditional gift baskets and leave some every place you go, especially at restaurants and hotels.

Networking Your Business Cards

Talk to you local printer about other clients who put together promotional packages for travelers, and offer to leave a box of your cards with them so they can be included if their client agrees. Also ask the printer’s help in designing material such as introductory packets, bid packages and promotional mail-outs that are die cut so that multiple business cards can be inserted without falling out.

Since limo companies have so many affiliates businesses they work with on a regular basis, invest in attractive business card holders, perhaps some that hold cards from multiple related businesses, that you can ask them to display. You can even propose making specialty coupon business cards that you honor for mutual customers to help add value to their product or service. Inquire if they are interested in including these cards in any promotional material they distribute and supply them with plenty for their projects. You can offer to do the same for them in your outreach campaigns.

Creative Cards

Since there is such a limited space on a business card, creativity really pays off. Obviously, a card shaped like a the classic black limousine or a brightly colored party limousine complete with hot tub would get the message across quite clearly. A more subtle approaches is to use business cards that look like common travel items like passports, credit cards and hotel door keys. You can create different business cards for your various clientele that maintain the basic information yet have a targeted appeal.

If you have a “green limousine” company, look into producing cards made of recycled, nontoxic materials and that are shaped like natural objects to make it clear you support sustainable ground transportation practices. Also think about who you prime customers are and contemplate having cards designed in shapes that reflect their niche market, like a heart-shaped card for the bridal planner.

Virtual Business Cards

With so many people using the Internet, having a good virtual business card is mandatory. Get a high quality scan of your business card and have it converted to a crisp JPEG file that can be used as a live link to your business from other web sites.

Vcards can be included in your e-mail signature so that anyone who receives a message from you can click on the icon and automatically add your e-mail address to their contact list. Vcards can also be distributed on social networking sites and major networking hubs like travelocity.com and Expedia.com. There are also business card CD-roms that will play in any CD player and provide the listener with your contact information and details about your services. These are excellent to include with new business presentation packages.

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.