5 Holiday Greeting Card Rules for Businesses

Greetings we send for business are generally used for two purposes: as a thank-you to individuals at other companies, or as a means of staying on the radar of an existing, former or prospective client. With that in mind, here are five ways to get the right message across:

ChristmasCardsLook at holiday cards as an investment. When year-end budgets are tight, holiday cards can seem like a waste of time and money. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. When you send someone a card it makes them feel important during the holidays.

Use direct mail. Email holiday greetings are not as effective. They simply don’t have that personal touch and lasting impression a physical card does.

Apply a personal touch. Even if your company uses pre-printed cards, take the time to add something special. In addition to signing your note, thank the recipient for something specific or personalize your best wishes. This takes a few extra seconds, but makes the card more special.

Avoid offending the recipient. A business greeting card should be considerate of various religions. It is best to avoid having a card that is religion specific.

Send them soon. Holiday cards should be received before the end of the year. Ideally, they should go in the mail stream by the second week of December. Many companies close down for part of the holiday, and you want to make sure your cards are received before vacations begin.

Let the marketing and design staff at Mitchell Graphics assist with your holiday greeting project…

Call 800.583.9401 to speak with an Account Consultant or email us at mgi@mitchellgraphics.com.

Also, check out this great blog for image tips.

Keep your holiday images relevant with these 6 trends


Planning For A Trade Show

picAs we noted in our last post, trade shows provide an interesting marketing opportunity. But it’s not just a matter of showing up and hoping to talk to lots of buyers! Well in advance, you should establish a plan and a set of expectations, starting with the determination of a goal for your participation.

Is it reasonable to expect that you’ll actually make sales at a trade show? If so, how many dollars worth? Is it more likely that you’ll generate leads to be followed up on later on? If so, do you have a way to track those leads, to determine how many dollars worth of sales are ultimately generated from the show? Your investment might range from a few hundred dollars to take part in a local tabletop show, to much, much more than that to take part in a large national show. Either way, you want to get a good return on that investment, and that starts with planning, budgeting and goal setting.

Budgeting is obviously critical, but there are two ways to approach this issue. One is to set a budget first, and then to start thinking about what you can do within the limits of that budget. The other way is to start with the goal setting, and then start thinking about what it will take to reach your goal, calculating the cost along the way. Ultimately you may have to back off on the goal if you simply can’t afford to spend what it costs to reach it, but many have found that this “blank slate” approach is the best way to establish an overall plan. It seems to get people’s creative juices flowing better than a restrictive budget.

In addition to these big things, you’ll want to think about some little things. For example, name tags for everyone in your booth, formal or casual dress, scheduling and assigning each person to defined “shifts” in the booth, and building in enough break time to keep everyone fresh and at the top of their game. Trade shows provide a lot of opportunity, but it takes planning to maximize that opportunity.


Stretching Your Entertainment Budget

Is “wining and dining” a part of your marketing strategy? If so, there are a number of things you can do to stretch an entertainment budget, starting with choosing moderately-priced restaurants instead of expensive ones. We’re not suggesting that you do all of your entertaining at Burger King, but we would point out that you can put a lot of food on the table at a good Chinese or Mexican restaurant for a lot less money than you can at a fancy steakhouse.Stretching Your Entertaining Budget

Another thought is to entertain earlier in the day, rather than later. It’s almost certain to cost less to take a customer out to breakfast than out to lunch, or to lunch rather than dinner. (And as a side-benefit, don’t you love the idea of having your salespeople out on the street early enough to be taking people to breakfast?)

It’s also likely to cost less to bring food in instead of taking people out. The strategy of bringing donuts or bagels in on an early-morning call has become very popular—from both the sales side and the customer’s side!—and there are variations on that theme that work well at any time of the day.

We should point out, though, that there is a danger of falling victim to false economies in that particular strategy. You should consider that in some cases, the most important value of entertaining is to get a customer or prospect out of the office, either to establish a neutral ground or to ensure a long enough period of uninterrupted attention to get your business done. Keeping expenses down is not always the most important issue. Getting the business is! So you should probably be willing to spend a little more when it will give you greater results!

Why We Like Coupons

In an earlier post, we wrote about the difference between advertising and promotion. Advertising tells people what you hope they will buy from you. The role of promotion is to give them an incentive to buy now. It’s been proven over and over again in the marketplace that buyers love a deal, and coupons can be a very effective way to communicate that deal.

Beyond that, they can be a very effective way for you to keep track of who’s taking you up on your deal. The coupon becomes a record of the response, and simply counting coupons can give you an idea of whether a campaign is working.

Coupons can do even more than that, though. You can use them to capture information that goes beyond what you currently have in your mailing list or marketing database. For example, if you’d like to collect e-mail addresses, you can use coupons to do that. If you’d like to explore other areas of a customer’s interest you can use coupons to do that too. Think of a coupon as a blank canvas. You can send information out, using text and graphics. You can also bring information in, using words and graphics along with fields and check boxes.

We like coupons a lot!

Convincing Evidence: Telling your story across generational lines

Our last two “marketing” posts have dealt with “the generation thing” and “the trust thing.” Today’s post will attempt to bring those two things together, with a specific example. As we noted earlier, the two oldest generations — the Matures and the Baby Boomers — value stability. They like companies and organizations that have been around for a long time. So to a Mature or a Boomer, a statement like “serving our town since 1975” provides evidence of promises kept, and that evidence tends to reassure them that promises will be kept in the future.

How about the X’s and the Y’s though? They don’t seem to equate longevity with stability. After all, in their lifetimes, they’ve seen long-established companies fail — including companies that their parents and/or grandparents respected greatly!

The point of all this is that stability and longevity won’t help you with X’s and Y’s like it probably will with Matures and Boomers — unless you take it to the next level. Don’t just tell them that you’ve been in business for XX years, tell them why you think that’s important to them! Tell them about the problems you’ve solved during those XX years, and about the lessons you’ve learned. Tell them how you’ve evolved in order to serve them — or their community! — as well as they served your parents and grandparents and their communities.

In a large sense, marketing is about telling your story. The lesson for today is that you may have to tell more of your story to get the results you really want. Especially to the X’s and Y’s!

Don’t let your marketing get stale: Freshen the message

In an earlier post, we wrote about the importance of not letting your marketing message get stale. A common example is mailing the same request or offer to the same list, month after month after month. Direct mail response tracks along a bell curve, whether you’re using it for sales purposes, fundraising or member development. Even the best of programs reaches a saturation point, where everyone who is likely to respond has already done so, and at that point, you are throwing bad money after good!

Freshening the message can be as simple as changing the graphics. Picture

Adding some vitality to your marketing campaign can be done by freshening up the graphics.
Adding some vitality to your marketing campaign can be done by freshening up the graphics.

yourself going through your own stack of mail. You see things that you’ve seen before, and experience has shown that if you’ve seen something once or twice, you might actually look closely at it the third time and make a decision about whether to respond. But let’s say you do that, and you choose not to respond, and then you see the same mailer over and over again. Do you take even a second before tossing the mailer in the trash pile? Or let’s say that you look closely and you do respond. Does seeing the same mailer again and again encourage you to do it again?

Experts like to say that direct mail works until it stops working. They also say that the best strategy is to freshen the message — or change the offer or change the list — before you get too far past the point of diminishing returns. That’s how you keep it working!

Tracking Direct Mail Response: Ring The Bell!

It’s pretty well accepted that direct mail (or any other advertising program) tracks along a bell curve. In other words, the response comes slowly at first, then accelerates, then peaks, then declines and eventually disappears. If you don’t recognize and plan for this, you may fall prey to one of two classic advertising mistakes.

The first mistake is to expect too much for the first mailing. The impact of advertising is cumulative, which means that response increases as the message is repeated. To put it simply, the vast majority of people who see the first mailing will barely register the message, but more will take it seriously the second time they see it, and the third, and so on. Sadly, many businesses have put all their hopes on a single mailing, and they’ve come away with the attitude that they tried direct mail, and it didn’t work.

The second mistake is to keep mailing too far past the point of decline. No matter how successful a mailing may be, it will eventually saturate its market and bring in less and less response. When it stops working, you want to stop mailing it, but here’s a key point — you want to start mailing something else! Again, it’s sad, but many businesses have seen how well direct mail works but then sacrificed much of its value by letting the message get stale. It’s a far better strategy to freshen the message and then ring the bell again!

Customers and Not-Customers

What exactly is your marketing goal? Is it to generate new customers, or to get more business from established customers? It may very well be both, but we want you to think about three things today. First, direct mail is a very good way to acco

mplish either goal. Second, it’s usually a mistake to try to do too much with any individual mail piece. And third, the “customer” message and the “not-customer” message can be significantly different.

Think about that. The message for not-customers — in other words, people who haven’t bought anything from you yet — is please give us a try. The message for customers — people who have bought from you in the past — is please try us again, and maybe please try some of our other products and services.

Now, there’s no question that you can get results with a combined approach, for example, a generic catalog that goes out to customers and prospects. The point is that you can probably get better results with a more personalized message. If you can segment your mailing list between customers and not-customers, we can help you to market more effectively. And if you can’t, we can probably help you to build a better database, giving you every opportunity to market more effectively in the future.

Brilliant Marketing

Our recent post was titled Brilliant Advertising. As you see, this one is still about brilliant, but it’s about marketing rather than advertising. What’s the difference? According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is brilliant“the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, advertising is “the action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements.” Maybe the best way to explain the difference is that marketing is the parent discipline, and advertising is one of its children. Or to put that another way, advertising is part of the “communication” element of a marketing plan.

The real reason for this post, though, is not to define terms, but to extend the main idea from our last post — that you should be paying attention to what other companies are doing when they’re trying to market their products to you. Look beyond the graphics and try to figure out the underlying strategy. Follow the “call to action” to see where that takes you. As we noted last time, there are companies that spend millions of dollars on marketing and advertising, both on their agencies and in hiring top-level “internal” talent. We get to see what all that money buys, at essentially no cost. That’s a pretty good deal, especially if we see a way to adapt it to our own marketing challenges.


What is Personalized Print?

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 8.24.52 AMPersonalized print optimizes your current and potential customer information by creating a personalized direct mail piece. Using what you know about each customer, you can vary text, graphics, and images to help make the marketing piece more relevant and appealing—increasing your reach rate 3-10 times more than traditional direct mailings. Click here to learn more about response rates. http://www.mitchellgraphics.com/response-rates-vdp-variable-data-direct-mail.php

Make it personal

Why does Personalized Print create more interest? We are psychologically predisposed to love our own names as it creates an identity and separates us socially. A Personalized Print mail piece brings a whole new meaning to name dropping and can create an interest in opening the envelope.

Click here to experience the difference between static and interactive print. http://www.mitchellgraphics.com/how-variable-data-works-vdp-interactive-simple-mail.php

Taking it a step further
What demographics do you collect from your customers? Age, marital status, number of children, extracurricular activities, city/state? With Personalized Print, you can make this information work for you.

For example, a college or university can tailor a postcard to address graduating high school students, then change up the theme of the card to address non-traditional students. Taking a step further, the university can add images reflecting activities offered which the prospective student indicated to favor.

Want to learn more? Call 800-583-9401 or send us an email today and ask how Personalized Print can optimize your next direct mail campaign.