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Do Self-Mailers Have Benefits Over Direct Mail Envelopes? You Bet!

For many businesses, direct mail letters are their “go-to.” They are inexpensive to produce, can include BREs and other inserts, and depending on the design, can seem more personal than self-mailers. Still, the popularity of self-mailers is growing. They, too, are inexpensive and have many benefits.

Self-mailers are created when a single piece of paper is folded to create a self-contained mailing format. Depending on the size of the sheet, self-mailers can be folded into two or more panels. They can be sealed using glue lines, wafer seals, or glue spots along the edge.

Let’s take a look at some of their benefits:

  • Because they require no envelope, self-mailers have no envelope or inserting costs. This makes them a great option for tight budgets.
  • When unfolded, self-mailers provide lots of real estate for graphics and messaging.
  • Even on digital presses, self-mailers can be printed on a wide variety of substrates, including heavier substrates.
  • While we tend to think of self-mailers as simple, folded formats, their substrate flexibility allows them to include pockets and interior panels into which you can insert gift cards, reply cards, or small samples.
  • Because self-mailers can be digitally printed, they can be fully personalized like any other mailer.

Self-mailers are readily identifiable as marketing mail, so they can have lower response rates. For this reason, some businesses use them for mailing to people with whom they already have a relationship—loyal customers who will open them simply because of their relationship with the brand. Others use them for campaigns in which people want promotional mail. Examples include promotions around clearance sales, new store openings with discounts, and free samples. We see them heavily used around college recruiting, as well.

In the end, choosing the correct format depends on your target audience and the goals of the campaign. Testing will be critical in helping you identify when and where each format will work best for you.

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Great Unboxing Experiences: Now More Than Ever

In a world defined by virtual and digital interactions, positive, tactile experiences are a delight to the senses. This is why improving the “unboxing experience” for packaged products is growing in importance among product marketers.

The “unboxing experience” is how buyers feel when they first open the package and engage with its contents. This experience might be dull as dirt (like taking a pair of shoes out of a cardboard box in a shoe store) or, like opening the box for a new Apple iPhone, it can be a multisensory extravaganza.

Whether you are selling online or in a brick-and-mortar environment, a great unboxing experience increases brand satisfaction, boosts brand engagement, and is something that your customers remember and look forward to in their next order. But how, exactly, do you create one?

Try one of these proven ways—or all three!

1. Brand it.

Companies with the best unboxing experiences create custom branded packaging. This is packaging that is unique to you and includes your company name, logo, and any other graphics or text you want to include. It’s not just “any” box. It’s your box, and everything about it reflects your brand. According to a study by Dotcom Distribution, 40% of online shoppers would share an image of their purchase on social media if it came in branded packaging.

2. Go premium.

Use premium materials to create a sense of luxury. One company that does this extremely well is Apple. All Apple products are delivered in minimalist white boxes with shimmering metallic letters. Boxes are made of premium materials with a soft-touch coating and fit the products like a tailored suit. Unboxing is truly a delightful sensory experience that makes people feel they’ve just done something special.

3. Get creative with inserts.

Don’t just send the product. Include inserts that delight, as well. Examples include personalized thank-you cards or fun product-related information. One organic goat-milk soap company, for example, includes a card with each bar of soap with a picture and the names of the goats from which the milk was taken. “Your soap was hand-crafted from the milk of Daisy, Lina, and Ana. They say, ‘Thank you!’”

Think of unboxing as being like the product’s grand entrance at a royal event. The more excitement generated around it, the more special the product—and  by extension, your company—is perceived to be. If you’re going to make an entrance, make it memorable in the best possible way.

ENHANCED PACKAGING AND THE “UNBOXING EXPERIENCE”

Source: US Vertical Vision Study: Vertical Industry Views from a Socially Distanced Perch; Keypoint Intelligence 2020

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Is Brand Awareness Worth the Investment?

We all want to sell more products and services, and for decades, brand awareness has been the subject of research and study. Is this a good investment of your marketing dollars? To what extent does brand awareness truly influence the final purchase decision? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Here are the results from one fascinating study:

  • In a blind study by the University of Newcastle and the University of South Australia, 85.5% of subjects chose the familiar brand in the first trial, even if they preferred a less familiar brand.
  • Even when testing brands during an initial trial, consumers were more likely to purchase the product from a familiar brand name, even if they preferred the taste (or, by extension, the look, smell, or function) of an unfamiliar brand.
  • Consumers were not only likely to choose the more familiar brand but were more likely to make the decision more quickly — 9.8 seconds faster.

What does this mean for you? Get to the consumer early. Stay in front of them and don’t quit! Repetition is critical. One statistic we regularly run across is that the average person remembers three to five brands per category. To get in there, you have to push someone else out and then stay there.

This is where consistent drips of brand messaging can pay off in a big way. Send a direct mailer and follow up with an email. Invest in retargeting with social media ads for visitors to your website. Create constant reminders of who you are and what your brand offers.

Creating brand awareness is not always about getting someone to buy right now. It’s about staying top of mind—and keeping your competitors out in the cold—so that when your target audience is ready to buy, they think of you.

Source: “Brand Awareness Effects on Consumer Decision Making for a Common, Repeat Purchase Product: A Replication” (Journal of Business Research)

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Streamlined solutions eliminates multiple pain points!

Streamlined solution eliminates multiple pain points!

PROBLEM

A high-growth company with 80 locations and counting was experiencing delays in providing necessary materials to their new locations. Simple onboarding materials for required training could take as long as 4-6 weeks from time of order to in-hand date. The marketing team was challenged with meeting expectations of franchise owners and corporate needs creating multiple pain points.

SOLUTION

ImageMark developed a digital storefront housing all the possible items a new location needed along with replenishment options for existing locations. The franchise owners were given access to the ordering site eliminating the marketing team involvement in placing orders.

RESULT

ImageMark’s ordering solution combined with our in-house production capabilities streamlined access creating a much shorter turnaround time for required materials.

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Waste reduction with ImageMark’s tightly controlled processes.

Waste reduction with ImageMark’s tightly controlled processes.

PROBLEM

A leading manufacturer of instruments and chemistries was frustrated with the amount of waste in the production of their water testing kits. The testing strips in their kit react in a color gamut when dipped in water which is then compared to a bottle label. The color match must be within a tightly controlled range for effectiveness of the test. They were experiencing a rejection rate that resulted in 35% waste of their printed material.

SOLUTION

ImageMark worked closely to understand this manufacturer’s requirements and developed a solution that started with file creation through print production. Quality control steps involve the client’s review and testing to eliminate unnecessary costs.

RESULT

The reduction of waste moved from 35% with their prior print vendor to a resounding 3% waste with ImageMark!

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Capturing a historical moment in a timely manner!

Capturing a historical moment in a timely manner!

PROBLEM

The Charlotte Knights, a Minor League baseball team built a beautiful new ballpark and wanted to capture the first pitch in a special way. How could they share this historical moment with their 12,000 attending fans?

SOLUTION

ImageMark created a quick-turn response plan to have multiple photographers staged around the ballpark to capture the first pitch. The photos were quickly selected and uploaded for print production in our facility 27 miles away. Before the 7th inning, the commemorative prints arrived at the ballpark and were distributed to fans on their departure.

RESULT

The Charlotte Knights had a successful opening game with a special touch for their fans to remember the historical event.

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What is key when bringing a new brand to life? Color consistency!

What is key when bringing a new brand to life?

Color consistency!

PROBLEM

A medical practice in the final stages of a major rebrand was concerned about the color consistency of their new brand in the marketplace. Their experience with using multiple vendors resulted in their logo produced in a rainbow of colors. They invested in developing a new brand and feared their printed materials would not represent their corporate image.

SOLUTION

ImageMark took time to understand the new brand guidelines and devised a solid production process with carefully selected paper to best protect their rebrand launch. Testing and proofing occurred with client involvement before the first printed piece was released.

RESULT

By selecting ImageMark as their single-source partner, the brand launch was a success! Their brand continues to live on with tight color consistency throughout their multiple locations.

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A highly responsive solution that lasts for years to come!

A highly responsive solution that lasts for years to come!

PROBLEM

An Alumni event was quickly approaching with final touches requiring directional signage.

SOLUTION

Instead of using the obvious “go to” materials for standard one-use signage, ImageMark suggested a nicely finished metal frame containing the directional signs. The design excluded a date purposely for reuse in future years. ImageMark created the art, provided a sample for client approval then produced the project within just a few days.

RESULT

Client gained a quick solution with proof-of-concept before investing in multiple signs across campus. The reuse of the product removed the need to purchase signage for future years making the most of their budget.

PROBLEM

PROBLEM

An Alumni event was quickly approaching with final touches requiring directional signage.
SOLUTION

SOLUTION

Instead of using the obvious “go to” materials for standard one-use signage, ImageMark suggested a nicely finished metal frame containing the directional signs. The design excluded a date purposely for reuse in future years. ImageMark created the art, provided a sample for client approval then produced the project within just a few days.
RESULT

RESULT

Client gained a quick solution with proof-of-concept before investing in multiple signs across campus. The reuse of the product removed the need to purchase signage for future years making the most of their budget.

What Are You Waiting for?

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The Value of the Traditional Holiday Card in the Digital Age

In this digital, mobile age of communication, the personal touch is often missing from important client, employee and partner interactions. In a rush to be present on social media sites and participate in the latest and greatest technology enabled trends, companies may make the mistake of forgoing the personal touch of sending a traditional holiday greeting card. Holidays are the perfect time to remember and thank customers, partners, suppliers, and employees for the vital role they serve in the success of your business.

If sending out cards isn’t a yearly tradition for your business, or if it’s fallen by the way-side in recent years, it’s time to rethink that approach. Holiday cards and other types of thank you cards may seem like a small gesture, but when done in a genuine way, this gesture can help forge a lasting bond between your business and the recipient.

It’s important to remember, however, that not all holiday cards achieve their goal. That may be because they don’t have the right design, so they don’t stand out as special. Or, the message on the inside of the card may not communicate what it was intended to communicate. For these reasons, you should take time planning before sending out cards for the holiday season.

We receive a lot of questions about this time of year for best planning of our client’s holiday communications. Following are our answers to the ones we hear most often.

Why send holiday cards?

Here are the five reasons we believe are the most important reason to send holiday greetings:

SHOW THANKFULNESS

Holiday cards can be used to express gratitude. With them, you can say “thanks” in a way that is customized to the relationship you have with the recipient.

GENERATE GOODWILL

Goodwill is valuable to any business. Sending holiday cards is an excellent way to nurture important relationships and generate goodwill in a non-salesy way.

REINFORCE YOUR BRAND

By having your cards reflect your brand image, you are reinforcing your brand in the minds of the recipients.

STAY TOP OF MIND

Sending holiday cards to prospects and dormant clients will help your business stick in the minds of prospects and help dormant clients remember your business.

LEVERAGE THE SEASON TO “SUPERCHARGE” A DIRECT MAIL CAMPAIGN

What do you do when you receive an envelope that is obviously a part of someone’s direct-mail campaign? Odds are that you throw it away. What do you do when you receive an envelope that looks like a personal note? You open it and publicly display the card it contains. It’s still direct mail, but it works harder for you.

Who should I send cards to?

The core list of recipients should include your top customers, supportive suppliers, prospective customers and employees. These are the people your business touches:

CUSTOMERS

One of the best ways to show gratitude to your customers is to send them a holiday card. Remember, to be effective, the card must not contain a sales pitch. Also, consider personalizing your cards with a handwritten message. Handwriting the address is another great personalization technique.

PROSPECTS

If your salespeople use a customer relationship management or CRM platform, then you have lots of prospects. Use that database to send cards to those prospects to reinforce your brand and make them feel special.

DORMANT CUSTOMERS

As we mentioned above, sending cards to dormant customers puts your business back on their minds. When they need your product or service again, they may think of your business because you made a thoughtful gesture.

EMPLOYEES

Your employees are the bedrock of your business. Sending them a card shows how much you appreciate them and the work they do. Although it’s a small thing, it can help boost morale and job performance.

SUPPLIERS

Most companies stop with just sending cards to customers or clients. Fewer companies send cards to prospects, dormant clients, and employees. Fewer still send cards to the rest of the people on this list. Why send cards to vendors? Because it’s a good way to support the ongoing relationship.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

It’s all about relationships. You count on your accountant, attorney, custodians, and other professional service providers to help you keep your business running smoothly. They will appreciate receiving a card that shows them you care about the work they do for you.

STAKEHOLDERS AND INVESTORS

The people who have a vested interest in your business should also receive a holiday card.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

For your business to be a good public citizen, you must foster relationships with your local government officials. Sending holiday cards is one way to do that. The gesture may remind them to think of you when a business opportunity is on the horizon.

POLICE DEPARTMENT

Consider sending cards to your local police department to show that you appreciate the work they do to keep your business safe.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The leaders of your local chamber of commerce, convention and visitor’s bureau, and other organizations that support your community are all excellent choices for receiving holiday cards. The more organizations you can connect with the better. There may be opportunities that can come your way when you nurture professional relationships.

INFLUENCERS

LinkedIn isn’t the only place to connect with influencers. Whether they are local or not, put together a list of the top influencers in your industry and send them a holiday card.

What type of card should I send?

It is crucial that your card represents your business well. Content and design matter. These two elements can make the difference between reaching your marketing goal or wasting time and effort. When the recipient looks at your card, they are looking at your business.

The short answer is to send a holiday card that proudly reflects your brand and your corporate culture.

To create a card that you are proud to say represents your business, be sure to select a quality card and envelope stock. Choose a weight that is substantial. A thin or flimsy card does not communicate quality. Also, choose a color that fits the season or your brand.

Next, help your card stand out by giving it a unique design. Consider creating a card with a die cut. It’s sure to be memorable. Also, because most people display their cards on desks, tables, or walls, a card with a unique shape will catch more eyes than a standard rectangle card.

To round out the look of your card, don’t run the envelope through your postage meter. Take the time to stamp each envelope by hand with seasonal postage stamps.

Should I personalize my card?

Yes. You should absolutely personalize each card. There are lots of personalization options. Simply choose the one that works for your business.

Start by addressing your envelope to an individual. If you only address your envelope to the business without a person’s name, you defeat your purpose of connecting with an individual. Besides, it’s doubtful that the intended recipient will ever see your card.

You can also personalize the outside or the inside of the card with a message that is meant specifically for the recipient. For the greatest impact, make the personalization handwritten. This may be too much of an effort for larger businesses, but it’s still possible. Some printers can use your database to personalize each card using a digitized handwriting font.

To hyper-personalize your card, send it to the recipient at their home address. And, be sure to include a handwritten note with a kind message. This only works if you have a personal relationship with the sender.

Otherwise, it may be considered to be inappropriate.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON IS THE BUSIEST TIME OF THE YEAR FOR THE POST OFFICE.

To get your cards delivered before the holiday rush (Christmas or Hanukkah), put them in the mail as soon after Thanksgiving as possible. This means planning the production of your card well in advance of the holidays. Recipients are likely to remember the first cards they receive. If you’ve personalized the card as discussed above, your card is sure to be remembered.

ImageMark Puts It All Together

As you can see, to gain the benefits of sending greeting cards for the holiday season, you must give the project some thought. Get it right and you will nurture long-term relationships. Get it wrong and your brand image will suffer. And, there’s another alternative. Stick to the middle of the road and produce a bland holiday card and it will get ignored.

The team at ImageMark is prepared to assist you with making all the decisions surrounding, what to send, how to send and when to send it. To get started, contact us to request a quote or a meeting.

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Five Quick Tips for Planning Your Direct Mail Campaign

  • CHOOSE WISELY AND DATA CLEANSE
    Carefully select your audience based on your known targeted audience and do not forget a valuable step with your data – cleanse your list to avoid extra expense of mailing to inaccurate addresses.
  • TELL A SIMPLE STORY
    Craft a great message by telling a story in your communication piece and make sure to keep it simple to hold your reader’s attention.
  • KNOW YOUR BUDGET
    Formulate your budget to include all elements of the campaign from design through mailing including the biggest line item – postage!
  • STAND OUT
    Design a format that stands out with your targeted audience while optimizing your postage usage within the USPS requirements.
  • CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARTNER
    Select an experienced print and direct mail partner with all the capabilities in-house to execute flawlessly!