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)
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Consider sending cards to your local police department to show that you appreciate the work they do to keep your business safe.
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.
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.
Choosing a printer is one of the most critical decisions you must make regarding your print project. To keep the cost of your project as low as possible, you might be tempted to choose the printer that quotes you the lowest price. Sure, the price is always important. However, when you select a printer on price alone, there is the ever-present danger that you may be making too big of a sacrifice.
There is a rule in the printing industry that you can have quality, you can have a fast turnaround, and you can have a low price. However, you must choose only two of those things. You can’t have all three. If you choose the lowest price, you will be giving up either quality or turnaround.
You’ve undoubtedly seen printers advertise a “special offer” of 500 business cards for $10. How can they do that? The price is low, and the turnaround is fast. However, the quality is limited. What they don’t tell you is that to qualify for the special offer you must choose from limited paper options. Bleed may not be available. And, because your cards are gang printed with other businesses, there is no option to color correct.
So, for that low price, you’re receiving an inferior quality print job. If that’s acceptable to you, then go with the low-price printer. However, the odds are that you’ll be disappointed in the long run.
What, then, is the most important thing to look for when choosing a printer? It’s best to start your search for a printer with the intention of building a relationship.
Build a Relationship with Your Printer
Begin by getting referrals from other businesses who are happy with their printer. Visit the printer’s website to learn as much as you can about them. Then, reach out to the printer either through their website or by phone and see how they respond to you. Pay close attention to how quickly they respond and how attentive they are to what you say. Notice whether they are trying to understand the nature of what you are trying to accomplish, or are they merely interested in getting just enough details to give you a quote.
What you want is a printer with whom you can build a relationship. You want the printer to be interested in your business and your project. Ideally, they should recognize that they have a vested interest in the outcome, so they take steps to understand and improve the print project that you are planning.
If practical, tour the printer’s facilities. This will give you the opportunity to see if they run a clean and well-organized shop. A tour will also allow you to meet the people at the printer who will be servicing your account. These are the people with whom you will be building a long-term relationship.
When you have a solid relationship with your printer, you’ll find that your print projects will be more successful. Keep in mind that things will occasionally go wrong on either your end or theirs. For instance, if someone on your end has made a mistake with a file, having a good relationship with your printer might make all the difference in whether that project gets printed on time. Perhaps the printer will be willing to step up and correct the mistake even though it is an inconvenience to them. Likewise, if they make a mistake, their willingness to correct the mistake in a way that is satisfactory to you will be based on the relationship you have with them.
Additionally, you want to know as much as you can about the printer. Start by assessing the printer’s expertise.
Assess the Printer’s Expertise
Find out everything you can about the printer. The objective here is for you to feel comfortable working with them. Read online reviews to see what their customers think of them. Don’t forget to ask them about turnaround time. Time is always of the essence, and it does you no good to receive print projects late, regardless of how well they are printed.
Also, ask how long they have been in business. You want to work with an established printer with a long track record. They should also be financially stable. Remember that all printers must buy ink and paper, buy new equipment, maintain existing equipment, and pay their employees. If the printer can’t handle all of these things, then they are in no position to handle your print projects.
When Choosing a Printer, Understand the Capabilities
Remember that it is crucial that your printer’s capabilities match your needs. Because it’s a good idea to only work with one print vendor, you want them to be able to take care of all your printing from pre-press to delivery. So, whether it’s signs, labels, banners, packaging, business cards, brochures, holiday greeting cards, or direct mail, make sure that the printer can handle it all.
Evaluate the Printer’s Quality
One of your top concerns should be that the printer you select must produce top-quality work. Since the quality of the print job ultimately reflects on your business, always, always look at samples of what the printer has printed. Don’t just pick up a random sample of something they’ve printed. Look at a representative sample. If you need signage printed, look at sample signs. If you need packages printed, look at samples of printed packages.
ImageMark Delivers on Price, Quality, and Turnaround
Here at ImageMark, we seek to apply our expertise, capabilities, and experience to deliver top-quality printing on time and at a reasonable price. That’s because we believe that you should sacrifice nothing when you choose us as your printer.
We not only have the ability to print jobs on one of our 18 printing devices, but we can also design projects, finish them, and distribute them via USPS or other methods. Moreover, because we care about your business, we work hard to make sure that your project gets completed in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Don’t choose your next printer on price alone. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive services. We’d love to discuss your next project with you.
Effective communication with employees is essential to the success of your business. Internal communication that addresses the concerns and interests of your employees engages them on a personal level. And that engagement results in a range of positive business outcomes.
What Is Employee Engagement
When it comes to your employees, there are three categories of engagement: engaged, not engaged, and actively disengaged.
Engaged employees are highly involved and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. They drive performance and innovation. And they move the organization forward.
Not-engaged employees are psychologically detatched from their work and the workplace. Because their engagement needs are not being met, they’re putting in time, but not energy and passion.
Actively disengaged employees are more than just unhappy at work. They’re resentful that their needs aren’t being met and they act out their resentment. They represent an ongoing risk to the organization because they can undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.
It can be difficult to measure the engagement quality of your employees. Fortunately, we have generalized yardstick to rely on. According to a recent Gallop poll, 33 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs, 51 percent are not engaged, and 16 percent are actively disengaged. Gallup calls this an “engagement crisis.”
Your organization might be experiencing an engagement crisis without you even knowing it. Before looking at ways you can improve engagement, let’s discover the tangible value that an engaged workforce brings to the organization.
How Employee Engagement Improves Employee Satisfaction
Engaged workers are satisfied workers. They show up to work and they perform better at their jobs. Highly engaged business units realize a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity.
On the other hand, non-engaged and disengaged workers have a “grass is greener” mentality and are more likely to leave their job. They may be dissatisfied with their career growth opportunities, their pay and benefits, their managers and leadership, or the company’s culture. Whatever the reason for their dissatisfaction, they are more difficult to retain. When they leave, the organization must start the costly recruitment, hiring, and onboarding process all over again.
How Employee Engagement Improves Compliance
Engaged workers are safer workers. That’s because they are more mindful of their surroundings. They are aware of safety notices and procedures. And they are diligent about keeping their coworkers protected. In fact, highly engaged business units realize a 70 percent decrease in employee safety incidents and a 58 percent decrease in patient safety incidents.
Non-engaged and disengaged workers make more mistakes because they are less focused on performing well at their roles. This makes them a liability.
How Employee Engagement Improves Profitability
Greater job satisfaction, higher attendance, improved safety compliance, and other positives that flow from having engaged employees fuel increased profits. When taken together, the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
Now, let’s take a look at what methods of communicating with employees will bring results like the ones we’ve discussed to your organization.
Effective Channels of Communication
Organizations have more success with engagement when they treat employees as stakeholders in the future of their jobs and the future of the organization. That’s because the modern workforce expects their work environment to be engaging. Today, effective internal communication isn’t an option, it’s an urgent need.
One type of communication is getting required information into the hands of your employees in a timely manner. At a minimum, paychecks with properly completed paystubs must be delivered on time every time. Similarly, employees expect their annual W2 forms to be delivered on or before the January 31st deadline. Failure to handle these basic communications will result in extremely high levels of frustration and will cause employees to disengage.
Another type of communication involves proactively sharing information that directly serves the needs of the employee. A good example is the quality of communication that takes place surrounding the benefits open enrollment period.
One organization might present their employees with enrollment information and materials at the last minute. Another organization may take a more compassionate approach to the process. For instance, management may take the time to hold meetings far in advance of deadlines to familiarize employees with the process, particularly if things have changed from the previous year. Management may also ask for feedback before selecting an insurance provider. These behaviors communicate to employees that management cares about their health and wellbeing.
Effective communication doesn’t require meetings. You can get important messages across using printed materials. A traditional, and still useful, channel of communication is the office newsletter. Frequent and open communication about the status of the business—both positive and negative—and the role that employees play in the success of the business serves to stimulate engagement.
Then there are channels of communication that relate to compliance. For instance, OSHA signs placed in proper locations help remind employees about important safety concerns and their rights as employees.
Yet another channel of communication that nurtures engagement is holiday greeting cards. Sending a specially personalized card to the family of an employee tells that family that you care about them and fosters a sense of community. That will likely motivate them to provide extra support for the family member that works for your organization.
And, of course, there are channels of communication that are meant to directly motivate employees. Whether it is a series of motivational posters or a huge thermometer poster that shows how close the organization is to reaching a goal, these communications support teamwork.
ImageMark Is Your Employee Communications Partner
High-performing organizations make employee communications a priority. They know that an engaged workforce contributes to a more successful organization. However, because your goal is to create a culture of engagement, improving your internal communication takes work and commitment.
ImageMark is ready to play a valuable role in your employee engagement strategy. Our printed materials help present your messages to your employees in ways that are as appealing as they are practical. Contact us today to request a meeting to discuss your next project, schedule a demo, or request a quote.
ImageMark President Walter Payne and Executive Vice President Karen Kaufman (front, center) with members of the ImageMark team and Chamber representatives (front row, from left) Montcross Area President Ted Hall and Board Chair Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency and Gaston Regional President and CEO Jeff Sandford.
ImageMark Business Services went all out for the Montcross Area and Gaston Regional Chambers of Commerce when the company hosted a networking reception at its west Gastonia facility, and Chamber members flocked to the event in huge numbers. They were rewarded with tours of the immaculate 130,000-square-foot digital printing facility, mounds of delicious Mexican food, cold beverages and warm conversations among old friends and new business contacts.
It was an evening to remember as members of the two Chambers came together for the event called “Network After Work” at the Montcross Area Chamber and “Business After Hours” at the Gaston Regional Chamber.
ImageMark President Walter Payne welcomed the large crowd and spoke briefly about the company he purchased in 1996 as a small traditional print shop and renamed ImageMark. Through innovation and acquisitions, the company has grown rapidly and has been selected by Kodak as a demonstration site to show customers from around the world its state-of-the-art digital printing technology in a real-life working environment.
ImageMark Business Services Inc. executives has announced the acquisition of Hickory, NC-based Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions. Effective Aug. 31, 2015, ImageMark’s portfolio of solutions will expand with new technologies and direct mail expertise.
ImageMark is a customized content marketing and print company that creates impactful solutions for clients in various industries including health care, automotive aftermarket and higher education. The near century-old company specializes in store fronts, fulfillment, printing services, direct mail and web services.
“This acquisition was a business decision that was the right move for both companies,” said ImageMark President Walter Payne. “The mailing technology and solutions that ImageMark will be gaining from Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions will allow us to expand our offerings to clients and continue to meet and exceed their needs.”
Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions has been in business for more than 25 years providing print, mail and digital services to its clients.
“Having worked with Walter Payne of ImageMark for many years, I knew he and his company were the right fit when considering who we would sell to,” said L.F. Miller, president of Catawba Direct Marketing Solutions. “I am confident that the ImageMark team will provide impeccable service and solutions with a trusted team of professionals.”
With this acquisition, ImageMark will add 10 jobs to its existing 62-person staff, effective immediately, and transition all services to its Gastonia location. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
GASTONIA, N.C. (March 11, 2014) – ImageMark Business Services Inc. executives announced Tuesday, March 11 the 90-year old company has been awarded a three-year contract with the North Carolina-based minor league baseball team, the Charlotte Knights. ImageMark will produce a portion of the team’s printed materials and help enhance the fan experience, including executing a unique fan giveaway to commemorate opening day.
Charlotte Knights printed items including season tickets, game-day programs, schedules and sponsorship banners will be produced by ImageMark’s veteran team of experts utilizing the company’s digital, offset and wide format printing technologies.
“Partnering with the Charlotte Knights is an exciting venture for ImageMark,” said Walter Payne, ImageMark president. “Not only will we be helping the team kick off its inaugural season in the new BB&T Ballpark, we have the opportunity to provide the team with exciting ideas and opportunities to further enhance the fan experience.”
ImageMark earned the contract through a competitive bid process with more than 15 vendors. After sharing pricing details, a plant tour and the ability to bring new ideas to the table; a unanimous decision to engage ImageMark was made.
“ImageMark’s creativity, innovation, and knowledge of the market will certainly enhance the fan experience at BB&T Ballpark,” said Chris Semmens, Charlotte Knights Vice President of Sales. “Everyone will see their superior print work first hand with quality items like the game day programs, pocket schedules, posters, and team photos.”
The Charlotte Knights are the Triple-A affiliate for the Chicago White Sox. The team’s home opener in the brand new BB&T Ballpark in uptown Charlotte takes place on Friday, April 11 against the Norfolk Tides.
About ImageMark Business Services Inc.
The 90-year-old company offers customized content marketing and print-related services to companies committed to improving return on investment in marketing initiatives. ImageMark has built a reputation for being the Southeast’s premier web-based printing partner to meet demanding marketing needs through its technological capabilities. ImageMark serves national and international corporations. For more information,
ImageMark Business Services Inc. is moving to larger quarters in Gaston County and plans to add 10 employees over the next year as the company grows.
The printing company is relocating to Gastonia from Lowell and expects to be in a renovated 130,000-square-foot building by early August. The company gains about 50,000 square feet in the move, says Walter Payne, ImageMark president.
The new plant will be housed in the former Radici Spandex building at 3145 Northwest Blvd. in Gastonia. The current location contains 77,600 square feet and is at 141 Robins St. in Lowell. The two locations are eight miles apart.
ImageMark has 67 full-time employees and 10 part-timers.
Karen Kaufman, ImageMark executive vice president, says the company is adding technology and convincing customers to bring business back to the United States.
“We’re looking for some contractual work from companies that would bring printing back from overseas,” she says. Payne says one contract would bring a contract worth more than $1 million to ImageMark from China.
Those successes are convincing the company to add employees, Payne says.
ImageMark primarily serves businesses with printing, thermography and fulfillment services. It counts several Fortune 500 corporations among its customers.
Last year, the company bought Imperial Printing Products in Charlotte and will eventually merge its products and services under the ImageMark name, Payne says.