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The Heart of Your Brand

by: Steve Lowe on

Your identity and your brand are crucial

How would your clients describe your brand behind your back? Would you be proud to hear their description? No matter what size your business is, branding is essential to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your brand should reflect your business personality and values. How you’re perceived will depend on the effort you put into your marketing communication. We’d love to help you create consistent, professional branding – whether you need your first logo or a refresh of your current identity.

The heart of your brand

Your logo is the centerpiece of your brand. It’€™s the first thing that identifies you to your clients. Make sure it communicates the right message. Without a logo, or worse, with a poorly designed one – your organisation may look amateurish. Compare your logo with your competitors. If it’€™s not better or at least as compelling, then you need to address this. A great logo will help make customers remember you and is more likely to help you succeed.

Customers take seconds to judge how professional your organisation is by the way your marketing and communications look. Unfortunately you may not necessarily be perceived as well as you think you are.

Looking professional isn’t hard. Investing in well crafted design adds pounds to your bottom line. According to the Design Council, two thirds of companies who ignore design have to compete mainly on price. Where does that leave you if your competitors decide to cut their prices? Making little or no profit, or worse, going out of business. Horrible places to be.

€œYou don’€™t often get a second chance to change their opinion
If potential customers take one look at your marketing and think “nah thanks”€, you’ve lost them at the first hurdle. You don’t often get a second chance to change their opinion -€” or if you do, it takes a lot more effort than if you make a great impression first time round.

We can help with a knockout design – creative and effective artwork is what we do best. Once your design is crafted, don’€™t let the side down by just photocopying it onto cheap paper -€“ the message ‘carrier’ is just as important. Our Premium ranges exude professionalism without comprising your budget. If you don’€™t take care over the way your marketing looks, potential customers will wonder how much care you take over your work. Don’€™t let your image betray you.

City Dental Marketing

A coherent look and feel across your marketing collateral strengthens your brand.

What Makes Wallplanners an Effective Marketing Tool?

by: Steve Lowe on

The Wallplanner is an excellent promotional device that’ll raise your brand profile over an entire year.

What makes Wallplanners so effective? Essentially it’s a tool that can be annotated and used for sharing dates and events. It differs greatly from the diary (invariably a private device) and provides far greater scope for planning than a typical calendar. It also occupies a large area keeping your brand in view. It has the prospect of being used regularly and has the potential lifespan of a whole year.

Who uses Wallplanners? Our customers tell us that they put them on their office walls for important dates, meetings and appointments. They’re also put up in staff areas to detail holidays, training dates and team meetings. Some take them home to share dates with the family – doctors appointments, holidays and children’s parties; students may find them a great place to carve out a cleaning rota!

Send to customers & prospects as a cost effective marketing tool. Great as giveaways at events, shows and exhibitions.

Make your Wallplanner a money spinner or share the cost by selling adverts to local businesses. Put them around the outside of the Wallplanner so it’ll be a go-to-guide for local amenities, take aways and shops.

With Wallplanners, you’ll be the first to get the call while your competitor’s leaflets linger in the recycling pile along with the old newspapers.

Our Wallplanners are available in A2 or A1 on silk art paper in unfolded and folded options – great for posting out. There’s also a gloss laminated option which can be wiped clean when written with dry markers.

Time is of the essence – your clients will probably put up the first Wallplanner they receive, so you don’t want to delay sending them. Promote your business all year round in 2014 by getting in touch with your local studio who can provide you with a 2014 calendar template to get you started. Order online today and get 25% off the usual price.

Wallplanners from printing.com

What Makes A Good Business Card?

by: Steve Lowe on

If you want people to get the right idea about you and your company, you need to have the right business cards. You want their impression to accurately convey the professional approach of your work. If you want people to trust that you do quality work, you need to present them with a quality business card.

But what makes a good business card?


Our top 5 business card tips

  1. The paper you choose for your cards can make a huge difference in how your card is perceived. Thick 600gsm business cards will impress anyone you hand them out to and will stay looking smart for longer than a lighter business card. Try them for half price during December Using good paper shows your customers and clients that you are willing to invest to get better results and higher quality products. Finishes such as Spot UV, embossing and foil blocking can add style and sophistication to your business cards.
  2. Your company name should be centre stage, along with your logo if you have one (if you don’t, talk to us). Brand recognition is key in business and you’ll need to ensure that people know who you are.
  3. Don’t assume that people can guess what you do from your company name. Having a company name like, “Handy Man Services” is probably quite straight forward but if your company name is not obvious or abbreviated, then spell it out for people. Perhaps include 2-3 short bullet points about your services or list some of your products.
  4. Lots of negative space – but it does not have to be white – and simple type can go a long way. The keep it simple design philosophy is often one of the best when it comes to small spaces. White space also allows people to note details on your card enabling them to remember you (“Met on [date] at [location]“).
  5. Create contrast with colour. Stick to one or two colours for the text on your business cards to give them a modern and sophisticated look. Keep your colour scheme consistent throughout your marketing (stationery, leaflets, website) to develop a professional image of yourself.

Never give away just one card. Always give a potential client at least two cards. Ask them to pass on your card to anyone they feel may be in need of your services or products. In return, ask for extras of their card to hand out. They’ll be more likely to promote you if they know that you’ll be returning the favour.

600gsm Business Cards

How can you get more out of your marketing spend?

by: Steve Lowe on

Increasing response rates

It’s not about how many flyers you send out, it’s about how many responses you get back for you to convert into customers. We want to talk to you about how to get more responses and ultimately more return from your marketing investment.

Be interesting, be relevant to your customer

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Your campaign needs to make an instant impact that makes the recipient respond to your marketing. Higher response rates lead to a greater return on investment. With innovative print ideas and interesting design, you just might increase your response rates, which can make a real difference to your bottom line.

Be vibrant

There’s more to marketing than just words. By nature people are visual and are attracted to vibrant images. Interesting and relevant photography within a well crafted design will grab attention and be more likely to encourage a response. We have access to millions of images to help add that wow factor to your marketing campaigns.

Customer acquisition vs customer retention

Of course, as you plan your next campaign, you’re focussed on getting prospects through the door and converting them to customers. Of the two (acquisition vs retention), customer acquisition is typically the more costly activity. It could even be that acquiring a customer’s first order is a loss making exercise. But it shouldn’t end there. The key to maximising your Return on Investment is not only the ability to acquire new customers but to keep those customers coming back. Once you acquire that valuable customer, how often do you expect them to order and what can you do to maintain or increase that number? Retaining the customers you acquire will boost the return on your marketing investment for every campaign.

How to cut through marketing clutter

by: Steve Lowe on

Marketing clutter refers to the very high volume of advertising messages that the average consumer is exposed to on a daily basis.

"We've gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today."

Jay Walker-Smith, Yankelovich Consumer Research

There are some fairly frightening statistics floating around the marketing publications stating the number of promotional messages that are competing for consumer's attention every day. Regardless of whether the figure is 3,000 or 30,000, it is clear that businesses need to do something fairly special to be noticed on a large scale. Even if people do happen to cast their eyes on your advertising messages, whether they actually take any notice or process the information is a different matter.

So, how do you get noticed in the crowded modern marketplace?

Make your ads appealing

Engage with customers emotional or practical needs

Certain themes strike an emotional chord with the vast majority of the population. Cold reading con-artists use such themes successfully to create the illusion of mind reading. These wide appealing subjects can be used in marketing to make the message strike a personal note while generating interest with the widest possible audience. Examples of such themes include love, money, health, career, hopes and dreams. However, if you're product simply won't appeal to the emotional side of people's characters, you'll need to try a more practical approach. The features and benefits of a product are usually the focus of practical advertising, and although these may not be as exciting as more emotive subjects, they can appeal equally well to the customer if executed correctly.

Use media effectively

Mass media such as TV, billboards, radio and posters are all completely saturated with marketing messages and competition is high, and this makes them costly.

"You cannot walk down the street without being bombarded"

Bob Garfield, advertising writer

Media space is usually priced depending on the number of people who are likely to see your advert, however it's much more important to be noticed by the right people rather than simply playing a numbers game. Consider who your target audience are and target them in as finer resolution as you can. Writing 10 highly targeted letters to individuals may be much more effective than sending out 1000 using a mass mailing approach.

Fight dirty – try new approaches to promotion

It is unlikely many new businesses will be able to compete on a mass media scale with larger, more established companies so you might consider using some new techniques. Innovative approaches to marketing are evolving every day but these are some of the most popular:

  • Guerrilla marketing is a term for the most daring approaches to advertising. Many ideas have been tried, including illuminating buildings, sponsoring car, or even sky diving into a stadium with a branded parachute. Possibility for PR exposure is high.
  • Experiential marketing involves physical interaction with individuals using live events. If done well, these can be the most powerful marketing medium so are well worth considering.
  • Viral ads require clever thinking and a fair amount of luck – but a successful viral can bring vast amounts of attention to a business or product. Ensure the ad is humorous, shocking or likely to generate strong opinions.

91% of marketing professionals felt that they could "save money and better impact consumers by being more innovative about the media they use"

Jack Morton 2009 Marketer's Survey

Remember - gaining exposure is great but you need to generate sales, so when designing a campaign consider things from the customer's point of view.

Ensure the message is obvious and easy to achieve

If people do take notice of you, it is vital that your message is clear. Consider the next steps you would like the potential customer to take, whether this is dialing a number, visiting a website or even turning on their Bluetooth. Make it obvious what you're offering and make it as easy as possible for customers to achieve the goal, which this means looking at your internal processes. Are people aware of the promotion internally? Are the distribution channels set up? Is the call centre fully briefed? Even the best produced adverts can fall on deaf ears if the message isn't clear and appealing.

Final words

Breaking into a new marketing or expanding your market share can be a daunting task, however with clever thinking and a clear approach you will be able to attract the attention of customers, and help them take the next step towards purchase.

Marketing definitions

by: Steve Lowe on

Jargon free definitions of marketing terminology

Above the line A traditional term for mass media promotion such as TV or cinema ads
Account manager A member of agency staff who looks after the client side of a particular account
Added value Increased worth of a brand due to a particular activity such as packaging or customer service
Advertising The promotion of a product or service using paid-for media
Advertising value equivalent A measure used used to determine the approximate worth of press and media attention compared to the equivalent amount of advertising space
Advertorial A press advert designed to look like standards editorial content
Advocate A member of the public who is an ambassador for your company or products
Affiliate marketing

An online promotional channel which involves advertisers paying website publishers for results (such as purchases), rather than simply paying for the advertising space. Most affiliate programmes in involve a commission based on the value of the sale.

Affinity marketing See affiliate marketing
AIDA Attention, Interest, Desire, Action - the stages of the original sales / purchase funnel
Ambient media Communication via media which surround us in everyday life
Below the line A traditional term to describe alternatives to the mass media approach to promotion
Boston Consultancy Grid / Matrix A method of identifying strategies for growing your business
Brand The intangible sum of the thoughts and emotions a consumer has about a product or company
Branding How a product or company is presented to the public
Channel See communications channel
CMS Content management system
CMT Content management tool (see CMS)
Communications See marketing communications
Communications channel Method of communicating with customers, these include websites, blogs, TV ads, personal letters, telephone conversations, live events and many more.
Conversion rate A measure of campaign success - the number of prospects who have been converted into customers
Copyright A legal term to prevent the unauthorised copying of work such as images or text
CPC Cost per click - a term used to price online advertisements
CRM Customer Relationship Management, management of the sales funnel
Direct marketing Generally used to describe advertising directly to individuals. Includes direct mail, emails, telemarketing, leaflet marketing etc.
DL A common leaflet size, A4 folded into three
DM Direct marketing
E-brochure An electronic digitized version of a paper brochure
E-commerce The process of making a transaction via a website
Environmental analysis The process of analyzing relevant factors from the macro, micro and internal marketing environments and identifying possible threats and opportunities
Experiental marketing Event-based promotions
FMCG Fast moving consumer goods
Google Adsense Google's advertising program for website publishers
Google Adwords Google's advertising program for businesses
Guerilla marketing A term to describe daring approaches to advertising
Horizontal scanning The process of examining developments, opportunities and threats in the external marketing environment
Hot spot See 'Touch point'
Integrated marketing An integrated marketing campaign uses different media which work together to strengthen a message
Joint venture A partnership formed by two or more parties to serve a specific purpose
KPI Key Performance Indicator - a measurement of success
Lead time The preparation needed before results can be seen
Macro-environment Large scale marketing factors outside of a company's control - these are normally broken down into political, economic, social and technological elements
Marcomms See marketing communications
Marketing-clutter The high volume of marketing messages the average consumer is exposed to on a daily basis
Marketing communications Methods of promoting your business
Marketing environment analysis See environmental analysis
Marketing mix The marketing toolkit
Marketing myopia Describes the over-reliance in conventional promotional techniques such as advertising
Marketing plan The staged approach to a successful business
Metrics Another word for measurements usually presented as figures or graphs
Micro-environment Marketing factors which are external to a company, but which can be controlled to a certain extent. These include suppliers, consumers, intermediaries, and competitors.
Nomenclature The names of the products within a brand
Organic ranking The natural ranking a website achieves in search engines for particular key words
PEST-analysis A method for identifying the elements of the external marketing environment - PEST is an acronym which stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors.
Positioning Creating an image for your product, service or company and conveying this to the consumer
PR Public relations or press relations
Prospect A potential customer, who may have expressed interest in your brand
Pull strategy A promotional strategy which encourages customers to seek out a product
Purchase funnel The customer journey towards purchasing a product
Push strategy A promotional strategy which encourages retailers to stock a product and promote directly to the consumer
Qualitative information Data can be observed but not measured
Quantitative information Data which can be measured with numbers
Retention The ability to maintain custom from individuals who have already bought from you
ROI Return On Investment
Sales funnel The refinement process involved with turning a person into a customer
Segment A group of the population which has similar product or service requirements
Segmentation The process of splitting the consumer into definable target groups
SEO Search engine optimisation - the process of designing your website to rank well in search engines for certain search terms
Service A product where nothing physically changes hands
SOSTAC Situation analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions, Controls
SMART Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound
Strategic brand management

The process of creating value through brand development

SWOT analysis A method of identifying the current market position of a business or product. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Targeting Marketing to a particular segment
Through the line An advertising campaign or agency which uses various disciplines including mass media such as Cinema ads (see 'Above The Line') and less conventional means such as social media (see 'Below the Line')
Touch point Every step of the customer journey where there is interaction with a brand
URL Uniform resource locator. A website address
USP Unique selling point - a competitive advantage
Value proposition

Value proposition: The sum of the tangible and intangible qualities which form a brand's offering

Viral marketing A method of marketing which spreads the message via the action of people
WOM Word of mouth advertising - a powerful tool

How to build a strong brand

by: Steve Lowe on

A key element of strategy planning should involve the development of your brand and how you would like to be perceived.

When designing a brand strategy, this is the first question you should ask:

What is your unique selling proposition?

Consider all aspects of the marketing mix and examine what makes your business unique and attractive to the consumer. If these factors lead to a competitive advantage then you have determined your Unique Selling Points, or USPs. These USPs are major contributory factor to what makes your business successful, so should form the central theme to your brand strategy. Most brands concentrate on several of the most powerful and easily communicated proposition benefits in order to create a clearly understood brand message.

Brand values

USPs are why customers are currently buying your products and form the basis of your company 'brand values'. However, brand values should constantly evolve to suit changing market conditions and should also reflect your forward looking business strategy. Once these are established, it's important to ensure that your customer experience reflects these values in every aspect of your business. This means tailoring every element of the marketing mix to project your brand values - from the staff you use, the products you produce, the messages on your advertising, and even the way you handle complaints. Building a respected brand can take a lot of hard work and you'll need the commitment from your employees and stakeholders to make it happen.

Example brand values: Zurich

We demonstrate total customer dedication Our starting point is the needs and expectations of our customers
We're pioneers We innovate continuously and explore new options with creativity
We excel in all we do We aim for the highest quality, particularly in activities with the greatest value potential
We encourage everyone to contribute Every employee counts
We act with integrity We test every proposed action to see whether it is proper and reflects standards we can be proud of

Remember, a brand exists in the mind of the consumer. It is the intangible sum of thoughts and feelings about a particular company, service or product. A company can steer how a brand is perceived by never has full control.

"A brand exists in the mind of the consumer"

A brand is be represented tangibly by branding, which allows the customer to easily identify a product using an identity which sometimes formalised in a corporate identity document. This can include the colour scheme, logo, slogans, typeface and can go into depth of how these all work together. Successful branding focuses on the company brand values which should be obvious from the promotional materials.

"Brands are powerful influencing tools"

Brands can be very powerful influencing tools, but only once they have been established – and it can take time to build up the necessary trust. When a customer has made up their mind it's often very hard to persuade them to think differently.

Benefits of a strong brand

  • It will add value to a company
  • Requires less persuasion for consumers to use other products from the same brand
  • Can ensure a lasting customer relationship due to trust
  • It aids recognition in a cluttered marketplace
  • Has the ability to command a premium
  • Allows differentiation between very similar products, for example still mineral water
  • Can attract merchandising contracts
  • Leads to the perception of quality

There are two core elements to a strong brand – emotional value and practical value. Get these two right and your brand will quickly grow.

However, a brand can be damaged much quicker than it can grow - five things that will quickly damage your brand include:

  • Untrustworthy behaviour
  • Concern about public safety or health
  • Poor customer service (at any level)
  • Obvious company financial difficulty
  • Poor quality products

Get the balance right and your business will go from strength to strength.

Final words

If you still doubt the power of a successful brand, consider Evian mineral water. All bottled mineral waters are essentially the same product - they'll all quench your thirst and taste pretty much exactly the same. However the strength of the Evian brand in the UK means they can charge significantly more than the cheapest alternatives. This ability to charge more due to a strong brand is known as brand equity and is a valuable contributing factor towards the value of any business.

Push and pull marketing strategies

by: Steve Lowe on

Promotional strategies to get your product or service to market can be roughly divided into two separate camps.

1. Push strategy

A push promotional strategy involves taking the product directly to the customer via whatever means, ensuring the customer is aware of your brand at the point of purchase.

"Taking the product to the customer"

Examples of push tactics

  • Trade show promotions to encourage retailer demand
  • Direct selling to customers in showrooms or face to face
  • Negotiation with retailers to stock your product
  • Efficient supply chain allowing retailers an efficient supply
  • Packaging design to encourage purchase
  • Point of sale displays

2. Pull strategy

A pull strategy involves motivating customers to seek out your brand in an active process.

"Getting the customer to come to you"

Examples of pull tactics

  • Advertising and mass media promotion
  • Word of mouth referrals
  • Customer relationship management
  • Sales promotions and discounts
  • The origin of these two terms refers to the supply chain and how the demand for the product is generated.

    Push strategy explained

    The term 'push strategy' describes the work a manufacturer of a product needs to perform to get the product to the customer. This may involve setting up distribution channels and persuading middle men and retailers to stock your product. The push technique can work particularly well for lower value items such as fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs), when customers are standing at the shelf ready to drop an item into their baskets and are ready to make their decision on the spot. This term now broadly encompasses most direct promotional techniques such as encouraging retailers to stock your product, designing point of sale materials or even selling face to face. New businesses often adopt a push strategy for their products in order to generate exposure and a retail channel. Once your brand has been established, this can be integrated with a pull strategy.

    Pull strategy explained

    'Pull strategy' refers to the customer actively seeking out your product and retailers placing orders for stock due to direct consumer demand. A pull strategy requires a highly visible brand which can be developed through mass media advertising or similar tactics. If customers want a product, the retailers will stock it - supply and demand in its purest form, and this is the basis of a pull strategy. Create the demand, and the supply channels will almost look after themselves.

    Final words

    A successful strategy will usually have elements of both the push and pull promotional methods. If you are starting a new business and intend to sell a product through retailers, you'll almost certainly need to persuade outlets to purchase and stock your product. You'll also need to raise brand awareness and start building valuable word of mouth referrals. If you have designed a product around the customer and have considered all elements of the marketing mix, both of these aspects should be achievable.

What is marketing?

by: Steve Lowe on

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, marketing does not start with a new idea or innovative product. It begins with the customer – these are the people who make your business successful and this is where the marketing process begins, not at the point when the product is ready to sell.

Entrepreneurs are always naturally enthusiastic about their ideas and assume other people will feel the same, but it doesn't always work that way. During the process of setting up a new business or launching a new product, you'll need to persuade many people that your product is worth buying, so it helps if you know a bit about them first. What are their problems, needs and wants? Can you help save them time, money or effort?

Your customers are not just limited to the people who buy your product off the shelf – investors, distributors, retailers, and other stakeholders are also in this bracket. They need to feel that their investment is safe and will yield a return so you need to convince them too. This means doing your homework, researching the consumer and writing a marketing plan.

For decades, academics have been trying to come up with a concise definition for marketing.

Dictionaries tend to take the most literal route, such as:

"The commercial functions involved with transferring goods from producer to consumer"

For the purposes of this site we're interested in successful marketing, which is how the various marketing associations tend to define the word.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing describe it as:

"The management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably"

The American Marketing Association approved their most recent definition in 2007:

"Marketing is 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"

Pretty snappy isn't it!

Once you stray outside the circle of marketing professionals or academics the definition tends to become increasingly blurred. Many people describe marketing as being synonymous with advertising or promotion, but it's important to realise these are just the cogs in a larger, more efficient machine.

Marketing-made-simple.com defines marketing as a business ethos that ensures focus on current and potential customers.

A business ethos that ensures focus on the customer

This means:

  1. Understanding potentials customers and the external business environment in as much detail as possible
  2. Identifying opportunities and developing a strategy to capitalize on these
  3. Using established marketing tools to deliver the strategy.
  4. Measurement of your results and a process of continual improvement
What marketing is: What marketing is not:
  • Putting the customer first
  • A business ethos
  • A planning process
  • Core to sustained business success
  • Allocating resources to achieve your goals
  • Simply advertising / promotion
  • Just a department
  • An optional extra

Final words

At the end of the day, the exact definition of marketing is not important. What is crucial to both large and small businesses alike is to ensure that the customer is at the very core of your vision throughout all departments and understood by every one of your employees.

What return are you getting on your marketing?

by: Steve Lowe on

It’s not how many flyers you give out but how many responses you get, how many customers order and how many client relationships are formed.

Increasing your rate of response can make a more effective campaign. You’ll get a better response with:
– Eye catching, well crafted design
– Strong content
– A clear call to action
– Up to date, accurate and targeted data

Of course, there are many factors that can affect your response rate. The mission is to stand out from the crowd. We help you to do this with creative design and innovative
print solutions.

The bottom line is we want to help increase the return on your marketing investment.