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You’re Not Making These Silly Print Marketing Mistakes…Are You?

Are you a marketer who regularly uses direct mail?

Here at Structural Graphics, we’re big proponents of print marketing and have applauded its ability to generate feedback, loyalty and, ultimately, sales. However, if you’re not using it properly, these pieces – and leads – can end up in the garbage.

To help you better succeed with your direct mail campaigns, we’ve compiled this list of common blunders that can hinder your prospects.

  1. An unclear message: Does your headline match your CTA? Do your graphics tie into your angle or story line? Is your copy clear, concise and appropriate for your audience?  
  2. Wrong audience: Do your research beforehand. Consider not only the age, location and interests of your target demographic, but also the appropriate time of year to contact them. For instance, tax season may not be the appropriate time to contact small business owners, and members of a senior housing community likely won’t respond to real estate marketing. 
  3. Being too self-indulgent: There’s a delicate balance between asserting your strengths and overindulging in them. Recipients don’t want front row tickets to the “Me Show”; they care about “What’s in it for me?” Great marketing always focuses on the recipients, not the business or agent reaching out. Highlight your brand’s value by showing how your product or service can help change people’s lives, making them easier or more fulfilling.
  4. No contact info: Print or digital, your marketing should always have the first and last name of someone for the recipient to contact. This simple touch point creates a connection between the consumer and your business, and saves them the hassle of having to go looking for someone to reach out to.

Cool Startups Love Using Direct Mail. But Why?

When was the last time you had a mailbox full of actual mail?

Us too.

Print magazines and books now have “e” in front of them. People are paying their bills on the Internet. Customers are opting to go paperless and companies have scaled back printing catalogs, opting instead to use their budgets for websites and social media advertising.

Yet there seems to be a print resurgence of sorts among new, digitally-savvy, direct-to-consumer companies. Brands like Casper, Glossier, Quip, Wayfair and HelloFresh have taken to targeting customers in the mail, not just via email.

“The rise of young, digital brands spending money to mail us stuff speaks to the cyclical progress of shopping trends,” says Chavie Lieber in this Vox article. “A decade ago, companies looking to reach customers would often buy email addresses from third parties. They’d do giveaways and, if existing customers handed over their family and friends’ email addresses, they’d offer discounts too.”

But today, it’s a different story.

“[T]he virtual mailbox today looks a whole lot like our parents’ IRL mailboxes back then: A total s*** show,” Lieber continues. “Our inboxes are overflowing with newsletters, real letters, ride-sharing receipts, lunch-sharing receipts, bills, fake bills, breaking news notifications, not-so-breaking news notifications, brand promotions, sales promotions, social media alerts, spam… How do we all stay on top of this?”

The answer: We don’t.

Every day, we’re inundated with hundreds of emails. Add that to the excessive number of ads we’re faced with on social media, TV, radio and the Internet, and it almost makes you want to scream “Uncle!”.

“People our age get hundreds of emails a day, but they only get ten pieces of a mail a day, if that many,” says Pete Christman, the head of acquisition marketing at the shaving company Harry’s, which counts on mailers as part of its marketing. “From a numbers perspective, email is a much noisier environment.”

But it’s not just consumers who are feeling the effects of playing in this noisy digital space. Businesses are feeling it, too. Many are finding themselves fishing in a small pond, targeting the same age group, living in the same heavily populated areas with the same general income. In a word, it’s crowded.

This is why direct mail is often a more effective way to capture the attention of new and existing customers. Instead of pouring money into a Facebook or Instagram ad (the price of which increases based on how effectively it’s performing), direct mail pieces not only encourage trust in the brand that sent it, but the customer also retains the information in the mailer longer than if they were to have seen it in an email. Not to mention, when a high-impact printed format is received by a consumer it stands out in an engaging manner, which is more than we can say for the cluttered digital ads still sitting in their inbox or smartphone applications.

Let’s Get ‘Phygital’

Print and digital. Digital and print.

These two forms of marketing, once separate, are now (combined) the key to what could be a powerful integrated marketing strategy, especially as postal rates and paper costs continue to drive up companies’ budgets. While it’s instinctive that organizations looking to slash operational spend decrease print and postage costs, print is still preferred by 60 percent of customers.

How do you find perfect harmony between managing rising print and mail costs while still maintaining an excellent experience for the consumer?

The answer, according to Matt Swain from Broadridge, is choice.

He posits in this article that organizations are “in a position to create a more strategic alignment between their print and digital communications” by going “phygital” – combining print with digital.

 

As businesses look more favorably at incorporating integrated marketing campaigns into their strategic plans, many are redesigning their print communications in order for them to complement their digital counterparts. Part of this move includes bridging the gap with technology.

QR, AR, VR and more allow businesses to introduce themselves and their products in a “paperless” way. We’re seeing these technologies drive customer engagement and strengthen customer-business relationships. Plus, the use of this technology may qualify your business for an upfront 2 percent USPS postage promotion discount that is in effect for 2019. Not to mention, combined with a high-impact dimensional printed format, the engagement level of each marketing campaign which includes these technologies increases.

How Does Print Marketing Affect the Brain?

Did you know that our brains process physical and digital media very differently?

According to this study commissioned by the USPS in 2015, physical content seems to leave a longer lasting impression than digital ones. While the average consumer processes digital ad content faster, we spend more time with physical ads, remembering them longer and showing stronger emotional responses to them.

“Physical ads, though slower to get one’s attention at first exposure, leave a longer lasting impact for easy recall when making a purchase decision. Most importantly, physical ads triggered activity in the area of the brain (ventral striatum) that is responsible for value and desirability for featured products, which can signal a greater intent to purchase.”

Then there’s the notion of tactile content for the development of psychological ownership, a state of mind that leads people to value objects they physically handle more highly than those they haven’t touched. Physically holding and manipulating a piece of print content has some of the same positive psychological effects as experiential and in-person marketing initiatives.

For marketers, these findings have practical implications.

“From a marketer’s perspective, it’s essential to always view your position to the customer as extending beyond immediate transactional value and establish a complex set of relationship-based connections that will drive future growth.” – Nicola Brown, Skyword.com

This information can help companies of all sizes and across all industries optimize their advertising dollars, especially small businesses which are often faced with limited marketing budgets. For those consumers who are short on time, the digital format captures attention longer. However, if the goal is to have a longer lasting impact and easy recollection, print is the way to go. It also seems to increase our sense of trust and level of understanding and enjoyment.

Independent research company Toluna found that US consumers of all ages believe print content is more trustworthy than digital, with 59% of survey responders not trusting advertisements they view online. 71% of people surveyed stated they “don’t pay attention to advertisements online”, while 63% read the direct mail sent to their homes at least once a week. Direct mail is certainly seeing a resurgence in Marketing, and consumers have shown that it is here to stay.

Think Outside the (In)Box: 5 Print Trends to Take Advantage Of

Where did January go?

As we continue to execute our 2019 marketing promotions and campaigns, there is no better time to revisit (and rethink!) your business’ print communications. Is your collateral giving people what they want? Does your team have clear priorities spelled out from the beginning?

If you answered “no” to either of these questions, keep reading for some tips on how you can ensure your brand communications aren’t missing any opportunities for business.

  1. Plan, plan plan. Is your warehouse overflowing with inventory? Or maybe you’re nervous to try dimensional print because of the barriers to entry? It helps to have a clear plan. By starting with the end in mind, you’ll be able to print only what your team needs, thus reducing inventory, waste and long-term costs.
  2. Get physical. Provide your customers with an immersive and interactive experience when they open your direct mail piece, invitation or campus flyer. More and more, the printing industry is getting increasingly creative with everything from packaging techniques to Virtual Reality. Cut through the noise of overflowing inboxes and standard postcard mailers to not only capture your customers’ attention, but their hearts, too. 
  3. Don’t ignore the double dippers. These are the folks who receive both paper and digital communications. Statistically, many of these consumers are younger and, though they’re the most likely to go paperless eventually, are still open to the idea of receiving hard copies and snail mail. Take advantage of this market.
  4. Convenience is key. According to a poll by Keypoint Intelligence-Info Trends, customers said the best way for marketers to improve their print communications is to make them easier to understand. Instead of worrying about providing customers with every detail about your business, consider streamlining your marketing and focusing on one single “story” per piece. Not only does this cut out unnecessary detail, but it also makes your marketing easier to digest. Oh, and please, please remember to include a clear call to action.
  5. Prioritize, then execute. Perhaps a complete overhaul of your marketing strategy is in order, or maybe it just needs a fresh pair of eyes. Whatever the case, re-positioning your brand strategy allows businesses to start from scratch and execute on your priorities. How do you want customers to feel when they see your marketing communications? What action should they take after receiving it? These are all great questions to ask yourself and your team (if you’re not doing so already). They’ll encourage you to set clear goals for the year and inspire more detailed, thoughtful game plans to achieve them.