Blog

Online Print

Online Print Portals Help Manage Projects, Inventory, and Save Time and Money

Using an Online Print Portal Can Save You Time And Money

 

You’ve probably heard about the many benefits of electronic storefronts. Or maybe you’ve heard of them as “e-commerce portals,” “branded portals,” or “Web-To-Print Portals.” Whatever you call them, these useful tools allow you to store, manage, and customize your print projects online.

 

Printing Command Central

 

• Need 500 copies of a product brochure? Order them on demand without ever speaking to a salesperson.

 

• Need to regularly update prices, swap out images, or tweak the copy in catalogs and company manuals? Ditch your warehoused inventory, keep products updated in real-time, and print as you go.

 

• Want to enable store managers to create their own promotions without compromising the brand? Offer online templates for direct mail, signage, and email with all of the branded elements locked down.

 

Review

 

The Print-on-Demand benefits of these portals are endless. But there are other benefits, too, such as full visibility into inventory and order, that are less understood and underutilized. With customizable reports, you can gain full visibility into which products are being ordered, when, and by whom. You can select monthly, quarterly, or annual reports, and you can get information in real-time, too.

 

Manage

 

For example, is there a brochure that is not moving? If so, this knowledge gives you the opportunity to ask why. Is it a new product that you haven’t promoted properly, so it isn’t being used because users do not realize it is there? Is it an old product that isn’t being used because it needs to be updated? Has the brochure become irrelevant? Does it simply need to be removed from the system?

 

Edit

 

Just because something is slow-moving does not mean it needs to be removed, however. For some slow-moving sellers, you may simply want to move them to print-on-demand to free up warehousing space. Or, conversely, you may find that certain products are now selling like gangbusters, so you want to move them from POD to bulk printings to be picked and packed from the warehouse.

 

Ship

 

You can also identify opportunities based on user behavior. Say you sell your products through distributors, and sales of several of the distributors are lagging. You check their order history and find that they order fewer marketing materials than other distributors. You set up a training session on how to use these materials, provide incentives for ordering them, and lo and behold! Sales start to increase.

 

Train

 

With most online print portals, you can access reports 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take advantage! Use the information to optimize your library and get the most out of the marketing materials that you have invested in.

Print Is Safe

Survey: Print Is Safe, Secure, Trustworthy, and Eco-Friendly

Survey: Print Is Safe, Secure, Trustworthy, and Eco-Friendly

 

If something is proven safe, secure, and trustworthy, you’d embrace it, right? Now add in that it is also eco-friendly, and you have a product anyone would love. There is such a product, and it’s print. After years of research on consumer attitudes and preferences, print remains consumers’ preferred channel for safety, security, trustworthiness, and sustainability.

 

Here are some takeaways from research conducted by Two Sides and Toluna, a global polling firm:

 

  • 91% of U.S. consumers surveyed agree that, when responsibly produced, used, and recycled, print and paper are sustainable ways to communicate.
  • 86% of those in the 18- to 24-year-old age group see print as eco-friendly.
    78% of Americans keep hard copies of essential documents filed at home because they see it as the safest and most secure way of storing information.
  • 56% of Americans trust the news stories they read in printed newspapers.
  • Only 35% of Americans trust the news stories they read on social media.

 

“Although we regularly hear [that] corporations are going digital or ‘paperless’ as safe, secure, and more [sustainable], this is not a shared opinion by a vast majority of the public, who seem to trust paper for many applications,” says Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America.

Furthermore, with the increase in online security breaches and “fake news,” Riebel notes the clear advantages of print on paper. “I believe more and more people will become concerned about what may happen to their personal information held electronically,” he says. “Seventy-six percent of people are now concerned, but that may go up even more.”

 

The value of print has never been more clear, especially for companies in markets such as insurance, financial services, and medical and pharmaceutical technologies, where safety, security, and trustworthiness remain “make or break” issues for consumers. In these and similar markets, the print channel remains indispensable.

Shoppers Brands

Shoppers: How Brands Treat People Matters

Shoppers: How Brands Treat People Matters

 

How brands treat people during national crises like a global pandemic impacts shoppers’ purchase decisions. This means that even subtle elements in your direct mail, email, and newsletter messaging matter—a lot.

 

This is the finding of the Global Web Index (GWI), one of the premier players in the consumer data industry. According to GWI’s report “The Fragile (im)Balance: How Media & Brand Narratives Can Support Women Post-Pandemic,” shoppers are sensitive to narratives around the messaging used by brands and the media, especially during challenging times.

 

According to GWI, 45% of women say that a brand/company showing support to people during the pandemic impacts their purchasing decisions. This rises to 48% of mothers. In something GWI calls “the dad effect,” this concern is higher among men than women — 50% — and reaches its highest level among fathers at 56%.

 

The “dad effect” is seen around issues of gender equality, as well. When asked whether they agree that brands and the media have the power to shape how women see themselves during challenging times, 64% of women agreed, rising to 69% of mothers. Men were even more likely to agree with this statement (66%), rising to 74% of fathers. This is attributed to fathers’ desire to have gender fairness and equality modeled for their daughters.

 

In light of these findings, GWI recommends promoting the following positive messaging in shopper-facing communications:

 

  • Valuing women’s health, including their mental health.
  • Normalizing and encouraging women’s self-care.
  • Showing concern for the realities of the often chaotic and stressful nature of home life.
  • Promoting women getting support from their male partners.
  • Promoting women connecting with other women.

 

So be intentional in your messaging. Acknowledge these issues. Use language that inspires and encourages. Whether you sell shoes or sushi, show that you care about your audience’s problems, and your message will resonate.

Direct Mail

Want Better Direct Mail Copy? Tighten It Up!

Want Better Direct Mail Copy? Tighten It Up!

 

What’s one of the keys to creating great direct mail copy? Keeping it tight!

 

Over the years, the amount of copy used in direct mail campaigns has dropped. In fact, according to Who’s Mailing What! (WMW!), a national database of direct mail, the amount of copy used in direct mail pieces has dropped by a whopping 62% over the past two decades.

 

WMW! discovered this trend after analyzing its direct mail database for its “Top 21 Direct Mail Trends for 2021” report. It cites Amazon.com as a prime example:

For years, [Amazon has] been mailing letters to remind Prime members that they’re entitled to watch Prime Video, but there’s a big difference in word count from 2014 to 2021 example. [In the 2021 piece,] you see…

 

  • Shorter sentences,
  • Much smaller paragraphs, [and]
  • A few bullet points.

 

This finding is consistent with what we are seeing elsewhere in the direct mail space. Shoppers are busy, and they have limited time to read. Rather than text-heavy copy, more and more mailers are using images, charts, and graphics that readers can digest quickly.

 

The trend toward shorter copy ties in another trend on WMW!’s list—the growth in the use of postcards. With any direct mail piece, but especially postcards, you have only a fraction of a second to grab someone’s attention and get your message across before they move on to something else.

If your direct mail copy – whether a letter, a postcard, or any other marketing piece — looks text-heavy, think about where you might be able to tighten up. Where can you use charts or images instead of words? Can you break concepts into bullet points? Imagine that you only have half the space to work with – what information can go?

Buyers are busy, so make it easy on them. Tighten it up!  Need help? Talk to us about our services ☎ 713.956.8555

Brand Awareness

Is Brand Awareness Worth the Investment?

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)

Paper Companies

Paper Companies Invest in Doing Good

There’s more to loving paper than what it does for your marketing. Did you know that many paper companies are regularly involved in sustainability and community initiatives that make a difference in the world around us?

 

Here are five examples of the types of initiatives paper companies are involved in every day.

 

1. International Paper, The Navigator Company, and Stora Enso support Forests Forward. These forward-thinking paper companies, along with other industry giants such as IKEA and Lowe’s, are working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on an initiative called Forests Forward, whose mission is to deliver “science-driven strategies to benefit nature, the climate, and people.” Among Forest Forward’s goals are to stop deforestation and forest degradation and protect biodiversity while promoting sustainable livelihoods.

 

2. Domtar supports biodiversity. Domtar Paper is partnering with the American Forest Foundation (AFF) to support biodiversity conservation. AFF initiatives are designed to help protect at-risk or endangered wildlife, especially in the Southeastern United States. AFF’s biodiversity conservation program began with a pilot project in Alabama that focused on managing the longleaf pine, home to more than 800 plant and animal species.

 

3. Neenah Paper provides supplies to the homeless. Neenah is making a difference for the homeless in Fox Valley, GA. The papermaker recently donated 80 cases of toilet paper and paper towels to area crisis facilities.

 

4. WestRock donates land for environmental protection. WestRock has donated 64 acres of land to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC). This beautiful stretch of land situated just west of the Hudson River in the town of Bethlehem, NY, is described as “a rarity,” considering the development that has rapidly claimed many of the river valley’s natural spaces. WestRock’s generous donation will ensure that this tract of land will be protected for generations to come.

 

5. International Paper supports a local elementary school. When Richland Upper Elementary School (Richland, MS) struggled to ensure that all of its students had enough school supplies, International Paper’s Jackson, MS box plant stepped in to ensure that they had everything from paper to pencils. Not only did the students benefit, but so did the teachers, who otherwise would have had to buy those supplies with money from their own pockets.

 

Just a few more reasons to love paper! Need help? Talk to us about our services ☎713.956.8555

Self-Mailers

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

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.

Customer Retention

Customer Retention Ideas That Don’t Involve Price

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have faced challenges due to the growing instability in brand relationships. Especially during the early days of the pandemic, buyers often switched brands due to changes in availability, logistics, and their own economic situations. This quickly challenged businesses’ assumptions about their customers’ loyalty and spotlighted their customer retention efforts.

 

While “Customer Retention” often brings to mind discounts and deals, this doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, you want to retain your customers based on more than price alone.

 

Here are five suggestions for keeping customers engaged that don’t involve the cost.

 

1. Be mission-minded. Increasingly, consumers, especially younger ones like GenX and Millennials, want to be good global citizens. Feature content about where and how your company invests in things they care about, such as community service, social justice, and environmental initiatives.

 

2. Offer an exclusive. Sure, customers love discounts, but they love having exclusive access, too. Engage customers in new product development. Give them virtual tours of how you make your products. Give top customers exclusive gifts that make them feel valued and special.

 

3. Go the extra mile. Have you ever received a card in the mail that you didn’t expect? A special gift “just because”? It makes you feel good and want to continue to engage with the company or person who sent it to you. Do the same for your customers! Create a special mailing (maybe with one of those awesome three-dimensional pop-up cards) with the message: “We just wanted to say thank you for being a great customer. Visit us within the next 10 days and get a free gift—just because.”

 

4. Teach them something. Come up with a newsletter, webinar, or mobile video teaching customers how to do something related to your company or brand. For example, if you sell crafting supplies, send them a personalized invitation to an in-store crafting class. If you make kitchen gadgets, offer an online tutorial on preparing gourmet meals… using your products, of course.

 

5. Ask their opinion. Everyone loves to be heard. So ask your customers’ opinions! Send a high-quality direct mail piece with a reply card, an email link, or a personalized URL. Ask their opinion on everything from their favorite products to your in-store displays to how they are treated by your customer service reps. Follow up to let them know how you implemented what you learned. This feedback is meaningful and lets them know you are listening. When they feel you are listening, this translates into deeper customer loyalty and, ultimately, higher sales.

 

Want more ideas? Let’s talk!

signature aspen - customers feel valued

Do Your Customers Feel Valued?

 

All customers can be fickle. Even if you do everything right, they can defect to a competitor. One survey found that, even though 72% of consumers were highly satisfied with the products or services received from the companies they did business with, 88% said that they were willing to switch providers “for any reason”!

Just like you, many of your competitors offer a quality product and service at reasonable prices. How do you keep customers loyal to you? It’s very simple, PAY ATTENTION TO THEM! All things being equal, your customers will naturally go where they consistently feel appreciated and treated well.

Direct mail

You care about your clients, so it’s important to show it. This requires more than offering quality service and good prices. It requires ongoing attentiveness and creativity in your communications. Direct mail is often viewed as a way of winning new customers, but it is a highly effective customer loyalty tool, too. Because print has a tangible cost, sending direct mail (especially personalized mail) says to your customers, “You are worth the effort.”

Make them feel Appreciated

Consider setting up a series of regular mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous contact program that demonstrates at regular, pre-planned intervals that you are grateful for their business and care about their relationship with you.  Some of these may be direct sales solicitations. Others may not. Mix it up!

  • Send a variety of “thank you for your business” cards, birthday wishes, and recognitions of customer anniversaries.
  • Mail out customer surveys, showing that you care about what they think and value their opinion.
  • Offer valuable tips, and send newsletters, press releases, case studies, company brochures, and timely incentives that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.

Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention efforts, too. Signature Aspen has delivered over a quarter billion pieces of direct mail, and COUNTING! We have delivered for political, commercial, and retail customers. Be sure to Contact Us or visit our website!

Market

5 Tips to Market Like a Leader, During Times of Uncertainty

Marketing is KEY

 

In today’s “new normal” created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to know how to strike the right balance when it comes to marketing. Many brands are keeping a low profile, waiting for a surge in consumer confidence before restarting their direct mail and email campaigns. However, it should be the opposite! You should instead Market like a leader!

 

The answer to this is a resounding NO! Your customers want to hear from you, and they need to hear from you. When everything around them is changing, they need to know that you are still there and that they can trust you. 81% of consumers say that their trust that a brand will do what’s right is a deciding factor in their buying decisions (Edelman, 2020).

 

5 Tips to market like a leader

 

In today’s uncertain world, marketing is more important than ever, even if it looks a little different than it used to. When crafting your next campaign, here are FIVE TIPS for setting the right tone. 

 

  1. Lead the way. During difficult times, people flock to leaders who exude confidence. Brands can inspire, motivate, and make people feel that everything is going to be okay. Continue to reach out using the theme, “We’re here to help.” 
  2. Do good. Consumers like to align with brands that are involved in socially responsible initiatives. Promote outreach programs to your local communities or your giving to national initiatives. For example, a SheerID study found that, during the pandemic, 68% of respondents want brands to donate to programs that provide direct support for medical workers.
  3. Offer to help. For many, this is a time of struggle. Offer deferred payments, ideas for lowering expenses, and so on. Even if your customers don’t need the help themselves, this kind of care and consideration builds brand equity that pays off in the long run. 
  4. Be an expert. This is a great time to share expertise that is meaningful to your customers. Think “Top 5 Ways to Save on Lawn Care” or “3 Plumbing Fixes You Can Do Yourself.” 
  5. Make life easier. The average consumer is juggling a lot of uncertainty. Will the kids be going back to school? What if I lose my job? Position the benefits of your products in terms of how they can help your customers weather this storm. “Let us help you save 10% on your home electric bill,” or, “We’re offering FREE delivery of pool chemicals all summer long. Stay safe and stay home!” 

 

Brands like Signature Aspen can play a positive role in helping their customers through tough times. We have many things that help protect you from COVID-19 and more! During these times is where our Expert Team gets to work and gets what you want efficiently and in timely manner!

 

Being willing to change up your messaging tells your customers that you are paying attention… and that you care. At Signature Aspen we always will care and pay attention to the needs of our customers.

 

Be Sure to Contact Us

0