25 Years Delivering Professional Marketing Solutions!

AG Line Blog

Delivering Marketing Solutions

  • Direct Mail Should Be Direct

    hWhen do people usually see direct mail pieces? On the way from the mailbox to the front door, the kitchen or home office space when they come home after a long day of work. So, how do you capture their attention with your direct mail?

    Keep it straightforward. When you send direct mail to potential customers, don't try and fool them. They know that you want to sell them something. What prospects want to know is - what's in it for them? A lower price, better service, a better product, something new that will improve their lives? Spell it out for them.

    Keep it simple. Direct mail pieces that are too wordy or hard to understand are usually trashed. Distill your message into a couple of well-thought-out sentences and some bullet points. Remember that prospects are very selfish (and understandably so!); they want to benefit in some way from what you are selling.

    Make your headlines stand out with a clear font and punchy colors. Keep your message strong and easy to follow. Yes, you can be witty and clever, but make sure that you survey several people (outside of your business) ahead of time to determine that you aren't being too clever and thus go over people's heads.

    Personalize it. You can't get much more direct than including personalized messages. The more personal you can make your direct mail piece, the better your ROI will be.

    Include a call to action. So many direct mail pieces leave this out. Lead your prospects to what you want them to do in order to bring them into the sales funnel.

    Repeat. Like most marketing tactics, direct mail is not a "one and done" endeavor. Part of being direct with prospects is checking back with them multiple times. Good lists should net good results after multiple "touches" (and we can help with building a great list!).

    Do you have any direct mail tips to share? If you have questions about developing a successful direct mail campaign, please contact us. We also have a handy calculator that can help you determine the costs of direct mail.

  • Consider Content Marketing to Gain Brand Awareness and New Leads

    contentIf you own a business, you may have heard that content marketing can be an effective
    way to increase the reach and awareness of your brand and gain new website visitors and leads.

    But what exactly is content marketing? In a nutshell, content marketing is the act of communicating with prospects without selling. Rather than pitch/sell your products or services on various channels, you provide information that is helpful, amusing, entertaining, or enlightening (or a combination of these). The hope is that the engaging content will lure prospects and customers to your website or other online profiles and that they will check out your products and services.

    Does content marketing work? According to a study by Curata.com, 85 percent of the companies they surveyed saw an increase in awareness-building as a result of their content marketing initiatives. Also, 62 percent of these companies reported that content marketing actually increased the quality and quantity of leads in their sales pipeline.

    What are some of the types of content marketing? You may be surprised at how many forms there actually are, and how many you can use for your company:

    Blogging – This form of content marketing is probably the most familiar to you. You create useful content in the form of a blog/article with the intent of placing it on your website as well as sharing it via social media and even on content aggregate sites such as StumbleUpon and Reddit. Blogs also provide an RSS feed that readers can subscribe to and receive whenever you publish a new blog post.

    Books and eBooks – Companies will often pull together a series of blog posts or articles and turn them into a short hardcover book or ebook for free or paid distribution. B2B companies especially may use eBooks to provide a deeper look at a particular topic in exchange for their contact information.

    Social Content - Content created specifically for social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn may be a different format, but can have significant impact on awareness and engagement when planned and implemented using best practices.

    Email Marketing - Did you know that email marketing continues to provide the highest conversion rates of any online marketing tactic? By the way, email marketing can be tied in nicely with direct mail (ask us how).

    Case Studies – Yes, case studies are still used, especially with B2B companies. Case studies can be placed on your website and shared via social media. Remember the old adage: “Facts tell, stories sell”.

    Videos – It's no secret that videos are some of the most shared content on social media Short, entertaining videos can reach many viewers, but even longer and more technical videos can be valuable if they are titled well and placed on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

    Infographics – You'll probably need a talented graphic designer and writer/editor, but a good infographic is often reshared and retweeted. If your infographic is properly branded and provides good content, the potential for a wide distribution of your brand is significant.

    Microsites – Many companies now use dedicated web sites for specific content, campaigns and promotions that don't necessarily fit on your regular website.

    Press Releases - Press releases are still used, but now most companies place them on press release websites such as prweb.com. Although press releases still sometimes reach journalists, most often they are effective as direct to consumer information.

    Surveys - Asking for feedback from past and current customers and then publishing the results can reach prospects in your pipeline as well as brand new ones.

    Teleclasses and Webinars - Reach a potentially wide audience with current and engaging content that is valuable to your prospects and customers. The recordings can then be re-purposed and shared again.

    We are passionate about helping our clients reach their marketing goals. Have you used content marketing for your business?

  • Give Your Business Signage Another Look

    signageIf you have a business, an important consideration is how you plan to use signage, whether you have a storefront or an office in a building. People make snap judgments about businesses they have never entered or done business with, so an attractive, professional sign can help your business convey the type of image you want to project.

    From the sign in the window or on the door to interior signage, you need to ask if you're giving a good first impression.

    On-site signage is actually one of the oldest and most important forms of marketing communication. Signs do three things in marketing communication: identification, location services, and branding. How well are your signs doing each of those jobs?

    Signage is so important that  shoppers are drawn into stores and make important quality inferences on the basis of signs, according to a University of Cincinnati analysis of a market research survey of more than 100,000 North American households,

    University of Cincinnati Researcher James J. Kellaris conducted a survey of 200 business students about their attitudes toward signage and found that 79 percent agreed they could “infer the quality of a business from its signage.” And a majority (55%) of those surveyed said they would “avoid going in to business establishments that have poor quality signage.”

    Just think - people infer the quality of your business from the quality of your signs.

    The report also suggested that people's first impressions of a business tend to become frozen over time, even when additional information goes against their initial reactions.

    The size and placement of your signage may be hampered by many factors, such as your building's design. However, you should keep your message and graphics as clear and legible as possible in order to reduce any difficulty for your prospects. Make sure your message can be read easily and understood even at a distance. Use materials that are durable and appropriate for the environment and usage. And replace them when they start to look old and/or worn.

    According to the SBA, signage is "the least expensive, yet most effective, form of advertising for independent and national retail businesses."

    If you have questions about how you can bring in more customers with signage, please contact us. We'll be glad to help with signage for trade shows, sandwich boards (a frame signs), interior signs, counter displays, hanging signs, banner stands and more!

  • Ways to Use an Interactive Video System in Your Next Trade Show Booth

    wave1Do you want to attract more visitors and capture valuable data more easily at your next trade show? Consider incorporating an interactive video system/video kiosk. Video kiosks are quickly becoming a necessity for companies who want to find a new way to bring in visitors and collect valuable information and feedback.

    Here are some ways that you can use an interactive video system in your trade show booth:

    Experiential Marketing
    Video kiosks can help people interact with your brand by giving them an opportunity to explore information and share their experiences at the show via social networks and email. For instance, kiosks can be programmed to allow people to take photos or videos of themselves that are tagged with your brand, which they can then share on Facebook, Twitter, etc. And of course, you also get to keep attendees' information to follow up with them after the show.

    Feedback
    Video kiosks are an ideal way of gathering opinions and feedback from trade show attendees and other vendors. Instead of collecting business cards from attendees, your booth visitors can take a short survey on the touch screen and enter in their contact information in exchange for promotional giveaways, for instance, or an ebook that will be emailed to them immediately.

    Product Demos
    With a few taps on the video screen, visitors can quickly see how others use your product and perhaps envision how it would work for them.

    Interactive Photo Album
    With beautiful photos, you can show how other customers use your product or engage with your services. Depending on what your product is, those photos can show details they might not otherwise see, or demonstrate the inside story of how it’s made.

    Send information instead of handing it out
    Most people hate carrying bags of paperwork around with them during a tradeshow. But you can encourage people to sign up for free PDF’s that can be sent via email. It's also eco-friendly – and it ends up in their email inbox instead of the garbage.

    Games
    Would a short interactive game inform people about your products or services? You might to consider having an app designed that lets visitors learn about your business in a fun and engaging way by creating a game around it.

    Exhibitors are always finding new ways to use interactive video systems in their trade show booths. Do you have any others to share?

  • Marketing Tips for Self-Publishing Authors

    "Ideas" note stuck to wall (innovation business light bulb tips)If you've been writing a book that you intend to self-publish, you may have found your mind questioning just how you are going to get this book into the hands of people other than your family and friends. Marketing your book can be just as important as writing it — if you want to sell it, that is. Here are tips to get you started:

    1. Establish an Online Presence
    Authors today really need a web presence. This includes having a website with a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Goodreads profile and a Google+ profile that links to Google Authorship.

    Why a website? These days, many people do a little web searching before they purchase a book. You want your website to be the first thing they find so they can find out more about you and the background of the book. It's even better if they can purchase the book directly from you on your website and connect with you on your other social media profiles. Also, some readers, after they have finished an especially good book, will seek out a way to converse with the author. Having a website makes it much easier for them to do that and even share your book with THEIR friends and family.

    Why a blog on your website? A blog allows you to showcase your writing talents and your interest in your genre. It also helps your website advance in the search engines as you add new content with keywords to the blog. In addition, a blog gives you good content to share out on your social media profiles.

    If you have a blog and a Google+ account, you can link the two via the Google Authorship program. Read here for more about why this is important to authors.

    2. Develop an Email List

    Your website and blog should give people a way to opt-in to your email list. While you're writing your book, or while you're working on getting it published, you can offer a free chapter to people on your email list. People on your email list can also be updated as to when your book will be available for purchase, when you'll be doing a book signing, or when you get a great review.

    There are several websites that offer fairly low-cost solutions to maintaining an email list and sending professional-looking emails. Connecting your list to your website with attractive "opt-in" boxes is also fairly easy, especially if you have a WordPress website.
    Email services include:

    • MailChimp
    • Constant Contact
    • AWeber
    • InfusionSoft

    3. Reach Out

    Mostly likely there are many websites that deal with your book's genre or topic that would be happy to have you write a guest post. There are also cross-marketing groups on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in which everyone in the group pledges to share each other's posts with their followers and friends. Such groups can be challenging to find, but they are out there. Reach out to other self-published authors and you'll often find that they are willing to share their marketing tips.

    Promoting free copies of your book (in eBook form) for a time can be very helpful in
    growing your audience. Websites such as Free eBooks Daily or FreeBooksy can give you a boost of readers who are not your friends and family.

    4. Market Every Day

    Authors usually exercise their writing "muscle" by writing every day. It's a good idea to exercise your marketing muscle daily as well. Don't let too much time go by between posting to your Facebook page, Twitter, your blog. Set up a calendar for an email campaign and then stick to it. Get involved in discussions on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ about your book's topic or genre or even another author's book. Comment on other authors' blogs.

    Make marketing a part of every day and don't be afraid to try new things. Some ideas will work, and others won't. The main thing is to keep going.

  • Leave a (Good) Mark with Printed Drink Coasters

    custom printed coastersCoasters - they used to just serve as a way to prevent unwanted water marks and stains on your wood furniture. Now, they can do so much more. If you've got a promotional event or celebration coming up where you'll be serving or selling beverages, consider adding custom printed drink coasters to your budget. Coasters are an inexpensive and popular item to brand an event and give it a special touch. Not just for restaurants and bars, coasters are often kept by attendees as keepsakes of special events.

    We've seen custom printed coasters used for:

    • Fundraisers
    • Charity golf outings
    • Networking
    • Sporting events
    • Tradeshows
    • Graduation parties
    • Wedding receptions
    • Retirement parties (the guest of honor's face was printed on one side!)

    Drink coasters are often a co-branded product for large events, where a beverage manufacturer will design (and pay for) one side of the coaster and the event organizer will design the other side.

    Coasters can be designed and printed in full, vivid color on one or two sides. We offer two thicknesses and two different shapes, square or round, in two different sizes. We can use your design or we can design one for you. Most orders can be turned around in 2 business days after you approve your design.

    If you're interested in finding out more about getting printed coasters for your event, give us a call or check our estimating tool.

  • Tips for a Successful Trade Show Booth in 2014

    Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way for your company to meet people and establish new business relationships. When done properly, trade shows provide your company the rare opportunity to not only showcase and demonstrate your latest products and services, but also help your company to gain a better perspective on market trends. So, whether you are trying to test a new idea, promote a product, or sell an existing service, the importance of setting up an attractive trade show booth cannot be overemphasized. For those of you who are interested in making the most of your trade show booth, here are a few things you should consider when arranging your trade show booth this year.

    Be attractive: use colors and images that invite a second look

    Although it is important to prepare your representatives for the trade show by going over various marketing strategies, the thing you need to remember is that good representatives cannot sell anything when there are no customers. Yes, a trade show is filled with lots of potential customers, but it is also filled with lots of booths and competing companies. This is why you need to have a eye-catching display to get people's attention. Use lots of colors and pictures to make yourself stand out. Have signs and banners with interesting messages to pique people's interests. Remember the saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words"? Instead of having your representatives calling desperately for people to come to your booth, let your trade booth do the shouting by filling it with colorful signs and appealing pictures.

    Be interactive: use technology

    We live in a digital age where many are more accustomed to reading things on a screen than on a piece of paper. Therefore, integrating technology in your display will not only add a new touch to your booth, but also allow you to communicate the same message with creativity and flexibility. Technology is creeping into trade shows at lightning speed. Whether it is using social media to keep virtual conversations alive during the live event or having interactive touch screens and video monitors to engage your audience, making digital displays available in your booth to demonstrate or explain your product will greatly boost your results.

    Do you have a video to share? Does your company offer an application that people can immediately download to their phones? Make them available and let technology do the selling for you.

    Be informative: have brochures and business cards

    Once you have people in your booth, you need to have materials that can educate them about your company, your products, and anything you want to share. Typically, you should have well-designed brochures that communicate very specific messages. Do not overload your brochure with information. Instead, use multiple brochures and organize them in a brochure holder. Place the business cards close to the holder so interested customers can immediately grab one and add your company into their collection.

    Be generous: have giveaways and free samples

    Giveaways are a great way to solidify people's impression about your company. When considering giveaways or promotional products, make sure what you are giving away accurately represents your company. While the free items should be within your company's budget, they should also have a useful purpose or "wow" factor that will make people want to find your booth when they see the items in someone else's hands. Be generous. Give some free samples and let your company follow your customers home.

  • Don't Dump Direct Mail: Here's Why

    Have you ever heard the phrase, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? This definitely applies to marketing. All too often, small businesses put all of their marketing dollars into social media or Google AdWords or promotional products. Although postal mail might not have the excitement of the latest social media network, marketing professionals often choose a mix of marketing strategies that include direct mail. Here's why:

    Direct Mail Pieces Can Be Saved:
    It's tough to save digital advertisements or Facebook ads on your (physical) desktop. But a well-designed and memorable mailer with a smart call to action may very well be saved by the recipient for days, week, or even months. Mailers with special offers or coupons give your audience a reason to save your message.

    Direct Mail Pieces Can Have a Physical Impact:
    Mailings can be opened, make noises, have an impact. Pieces with an odd or oversized shape get attention.

    Direct Mail is More Memorable:
    As people and businesses continue to switch to email for greetings cards and bill paying, physical mailboxes are seeing fewer pieces of mail. This means that direct mail is more effective due to fewer messages competing for your prospects' attention.

    Direct Mail is Measurable:
    Unlike a lot of digital marketing, direct mail's results and performance can be easily tracked to measure the financial return on your marketing investment. You can track the cost per lead, overall results, and the profitability of your campaign to determine its success.

    Direct Mail Can Contain Exclusive Offers:
    With a direct mail campaign you can offer exclusive discounts and special offers that customers and prospects can only find in their mailbox.

    Direct Mail Can Be Personal:
    Mailings can be personalized to the recipient with a customized message. Many businesses don't go that far with their direct mail pieces, but they can. This personalized touch can be extremely helpful in building a relationship with the reader and can result in a higher likelihood of driving action.

    Direct Mail is Proven:
    Well-designed mail campaigns have stood the test of time for many, many businesses and industries. Direct mail is a proven marketing channel that has stood the test of time. In 2012 direct mail has continued to yield successful results that confirm its place at the top of the marketing ladder.

    Direct Mail Can Be Part of An Integrated Marketing Campaign:
    Smart business marketers use a variety of ways to reach people. Direct mail can be part of an integrated marketing campaign that involves email, social media, TV, radio, and promotional products. Studies have shown that the results of a direct mail campaign can be even greater when paired with other marketing channels.

    If you're interested in how direct mail can be combined with other marketing techniques, contact us!

  • Tips for Getting a Business Card That Works for You

    A business card is a very tiny piece of marketing collateral if you think about it.  Two inches by 3.5 inches.  That's it. You have to get a lot of information across in a small area.

    Obviously, you can't expect your business card to tell the whole story about your company, although it is tempting. We've all seen cards that are crammed with information.  What a business card should do it give a great first impression. Here are some tips to help you put your best business foot forward:

    1. Use a professional printer because the extra expense will be well worth it. Cards printed at your office or even in those big-box office supply stores usually look cheap and probably won't convey the message you want. Your local printer will often keep your card design on file so that you can easily have more printed as well.
    2. Use your logo as the focus and make it the largest element on your card. Not happy with your logo? Talk to a graphic designer or even your printer - they often have great designers on staff.
    3. Match your card's overall style with your industry. Take a look at the cards of your competitors when you go to a networking event. Of course, you don't want yours to look exactly the same, but it should give the type of impression that people expect from your industry.
    4. Avoid cramming too much information on to the card; keep to the essentials like your name, title, company name, address, phone, email and website. If you have room, a tagline and a social media link is good as well.
    5. The font should be easy to read, and stick with a maximum of two different fonts.
    6. Keep your font color to a maximum of two colors. One color is fine, especially if you have a colorful logo.
    7. Textured paper or colored paper can enhance a card's interest. In general, stay with lighter shades for the best readability.
    8. While glossy paper looks great, you may want to consider using a non-glossy paper that allows your prospects to write notes on the back. Glossy paper is usually hard to write on with a pen.
    9. Like textured or colored paper, embossing and foil stamping are two printing processes that can give your card more visual appeal.  Ask your printer for examples.
    10. If you have room, and if you have a professional headshot, consider having it added to your business card.

    If you're looking for more direction about designing a great business card, please contact us. We are happy to help!

  • Building a Better Business Brand

    Now more than ever, your small business needs to have a unified brand that helps cement your presence and even increase your visibility online and in print. No matter where customers and prospects find you - on your website, business cards, Facebook, Google+, trade show booths - your brand should be consistent throughout.

    Your brand is the grand total of the experiences customers have with your business. includes what you do, how you do it, how you treat customers and clients as well as your logo, print materials and the type of information you share on social media. Obviously, it's tougher to convey the non-physical elements of your brand, but the physical elements should evoke the intangible.

    From a practical standpoint, invest in a logo and then commit to it on all of your online and offline marketing activities. Yes, this most likely means paying a graphic designer to create your logo. The advantage of working with a designer or design team is that they usually ask you a lot of questions about your business and then produce several drafts for you to ponder. You may have several back-and-forth sessions, but the end result will be 1000% more professional than something you produce in Word or Microsoft Paint. Also, the designer will give you the final logo in several formats that will work both in print and online. In addition, ask the designer to create a logo that can look good in different dimensions, such as a square as well as a rectangle. This is especially important if you create social media accounts for your business.

    Make a good first impression. First impressions are critical, so make the most of them. Cutting costs on the basics, like business cards, your website and printed materials, is not a good plan for your brand. People know quality, and they will associate low quality materials with indifference or even desperation on your part. Spending a few extra dollars on business cards and other printed materials from a quality printing company is a good investment. You may be able to get away with a free website for a while, but eventually you're going to need to spend more money to design and host your own site.

    You need to be able to answer "So what?" with your brand. Stand for something. It should convey to customers and prospects how you can help them save time, save money, improve their lives or minimize risk. It should help people understand what to expect if they deal with you. Like I said before, a brand is not just about a logo. It's also partly a message that defines your brand that can accompany your logo in the right situations.

    A company like ours can help you define the visual elements of your brand as well as advise you on the non-physical. Please contact us if you would like to get started.

Items 1 to 10 of 56 total

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6