5 COVID-19 Consumer Trends Impacting Packaging…for Good

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way shoppers live, work, and play. Experts say many of those changes are permanent when it comes to packaging. COVID-19 has reshaped consumers’ shopping habits, and because many of these habits have longer-term benefits, these changes are going to stick around.


What are these changes, and how do they affect you?


According to Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods, speaking at the 2022 National Retail Federation Big Show, here are the changes you should know:


1. Shopping local. “People are falling in love with their local stores again,” notes Williams. Consider increasing (or adding) targeted, segmented packaging to engage with niche and local audiences.


2. Food e-commerce is here to stay. People who started food shopping online during the pandemic have made it part of their norm, and more and more people are joining them. In terms of design, maximize the appearance and utility of your packaging for the screen. If you are using QR Codes to engage audiences with nutrition information, how-to’s, and recipes, consider making those codes visible on the front so they can be scanned from a computer screen, as well as in-store.


3. In-home meals are on the rise. Consider launching an at-home meal or food prep line if you haven’t already. Or add QR Codes leading to easy recipes to spark shoppers’ creativity and tap into this trend.


4. Value, value, value. With inflation making it harder to stretch a budget, value packaging and pricing are more important than ever. If you haven’t been mailing printed coupons, this might be a great time to start.


5. Growth in multipacks. Okay, they aren’t environmentally friendly, but consumers love them. According to Williams, consumers choose multipacks for ease of carrying, health and safety, and portion control.


Need some packaging design changes? We’ve got ideas. Let’s talk ! or Let’s Chat  713.956.8555


The Best Place to Get Data About Customers? From Customers Themselves!

Just as making an outstanding meal takes the freshest, most flavorful ingredients, creating an exceptional marketing campaign starts with the newest, most accurate data. But what is the best way to get that data? You can purchase a mailing list and third-party data, but it’s always more effective if customers are willing to provide it themselves.


Here are five ideas for getting your target audience to share more information about themselves.


1. Just ask – and offer an incentive. Customers are more willing to share personal details when they think it will benefit them. For example, if you’re a clothier, you might woo them with the promise of customized style suggestions. “Take this quiz and find out more about your style!” Once you know what clothes they like, offer to keep the tips coming. “Want more like this? Sign up for new introductions you’ll love!”


2. Let address updates do double duty. When you ask people to update their contact information, ask them to provide other demographic or lifestyle information, too. “Tell us a little more about yourself so we can personalize your experience and better serve you.”


3. Ask in the moment. What better time to ask customers to provide more information than when they are already on your website looking for something? “Help us get to know you, so we can give you exactly what you need!”


4. Follow up on the sale. Customers love to provide feedback, whether positive or negative. Follow up the sale with a short questionnaire. “Thanks for shopping with us. How did we do?” Then throw in a few demographic or lifestyle questions while you’re at it.


5. Understand the mindsets. Understanding how consumers think about sharing data helps you craft your messaging. Different studies have developed different categories of consumer attitudes. Regardless of which you follow, just understanding that not everyone feels the same way about providing data helps you be sensitive to different personalities and motivators when you ask.


Learning more about your target audience is an achievable goal, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it can be as easy as, well, just asking.

Effective Communication Breeds Customer Loyalty

Are you up for a surprise? In a customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents indicated that they were delighted with the products or services they purchased, yet 88% said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!


How can this be? If customers are happy with the products they buy, how can they switch so easily? Because so many companies offer products and pricing similar to one another’s. That’s why maintaining customer loyalty takes more than the basics. You have to make people feel valued, not just by offering them great stuff, but by how you treat them. Give them a great customer experience.


According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 73% of consumers consider customer experience important in purchasing decisions. This means that all things being equal, they will go where they feel most valued and appreciated.


That’s why a consistent, high-quality drip of customer communications is so important. It makes customers feel noticed and valued, not just when you want them to purchase something.


• Set up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that demonstrates that you are sincerely grateful for their business at regular, pre-planned intervals.


• Use the data you’ve collected to grow your relationship with these customers. Offer valuable tips, newsletters, and case studies that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.


• If you are going to cross-sell or upsell, make those suggestions valuable and relevant to your customers based on the information you have collected, such as their past purchases or subscriptions that are expiring.


• Ask for their feedback. People love when you ask their opinions. Now act on what you learn. Communicate through tangible actions that you not only care about what they have to say but are willing to act on it, too.


Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention.

Keep Them Thinking About You

In marketing, there is one thing worth more than gold. It istop of mind. Being top of mind means that when someone thinks about your product category, they think of you. Delivery services? Most people think of FedEx and UPS. Soft drinks? They think Coke and Pepsi. Laundry detergent? Tide. Are you top of mind in your category? If not, how do you get there?


Here are five ways to stay top of mind with your customers:


1. Promote your selling proposition.


Every company has (or should have) aunique selling proposition. This is the reason people should buy from you. Think about DiGiorno frozen pizza. “It’s not delivery. It’s DiGiorno,” right? Their selling proposition is a compelling one — it tastes like delivery without the wait. What’s your selling proposition? Identify it, then articulate it clearly, consistently, and briefly in all of your marketing communications. Keep saying it!


2. Create a consistent visual identity.


There are certain brands you can identify from a mile away: their colors, their design style, their spokesperson, or mascot. A consistent brand identity isenormous when staying top of mind. Create a consistent look and feel in everything from your direct mail to your company stationery. Use templates if necessary.


3. Stay out there.


A one-time advertising blitz can get your message out quickly, but you build credibility and stay top of mind with regular, timely communications. Drip your marketing communications a little at a time to remain part of the conversion.


4. Use multiple touchpoints.


Direct mail is highly effective in reinforcing a personal bond between your company and your customers. Multiple media support that message by touching prospects at different times and ways. Send a customized letter giving your best prospects the inside track on a new product. Follow up with email. Send a postcard or brochure when the product is available. Send a note of thanks when the client makes a purchase.


5. Timing is everything.


Strategically plan repeated communications so customers perceive you as a provider of helpful information rather than an intrusive pest. This requires both organization and dedication.


Never before have consumers had so many choices. Staying top of mind will lift you out of a noisy marketplace and increase customer retention and response rates.

Earth Friendly Printing

How To Practice Earth-Friendly Printing?

5 tips for sustainable print that go beyond recycled paper


We all want to be friendly to the earth, but what is the best strategy for doing so? Often, our first thought is to use recycled paper, and this is an important step. Yet there are other ways to make earth-friendly decisions when designing and ordering print materials. Let’s look at five simple ways beyond recycled paper to make your print more sustainable


1. Spec paper with virgin fiber.


While this might seem counterintuitive, virgin fiber is an important aspect of the sustainable print lifecycle. Sixty percent of forests in the United States are privately owned. Demand for pulp-based products keeps our forests a viable source of income for forest owners, making them a valuable asset. If private forests don’t provide revenue, they risk being sold for other revenue-generating opportunities.


Virgin fiber is also a vital component of the recycling stream. Paper fibers can only be recycled five to seven times before they are no longer usable. To maintain a strong, high-quality pool of recycled paper, virgin fiber must be flowing into the system.


2. Look for environmental certifications.


When purchasing any type of paper, whether with virgin fiber, recycled fiber, or both, look for paper that has been certified by environmental organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). While each certification is slightly different, all signify that the paper you purchase is coming from sustainably managed forests and is harvested in ethical and ecologically sound ways.


3. Ask for environmentally friendly inks and coatings.


While solvent-based inks and coatings have many benefits, including extremely high scuff-resistance, their use in the print production process emits toxic fumes, and the resulting products cannot be recycled. Water-based inks and coatings, on the other hand, have high performance qualities and do not emit toxic VOCs. Many coatings allow the paper to be repulped and recycled, as well.


4. Avoid lamination.


If you’re specing packaging, try to avoid designs that require lamination. Once plastic film is laminated to paper, that paper becomes much more difficult for mills to depulp and reuse.


5. Clean and de-dupe your mailing list.


Nothing says “waste” like undeliverable mail. For the lowest environmental footprint, keep your mailing list accurate, up to date, and free of duplicates.


Any one of these steps will improve the sustainability of your print projects. Do all five and you’re a sustainability hero!


5 Fun Stats to Inform Your Fundraising

5 Fun Stats to Inform Your Fundraising


As a nonprofit, you know the importance of personalized direct mail. Most likely, you are already personalizing your mailers by the donor’s name, giving history, and often household income. But are there other data points that could help? Here are some exciting statistics that, while they may not all apply to your organization, illustrate how important it is to know as much as possible about your donors. You never know what data might be vital to increasing their support.


Should you be targeting Millennials?


Not necessarily. Millennials (those born 1981–1995) are more socially-minded than older generations, but does this mean they are a fundraising gold mine? Actually, no. According to Blackbaud, Millennials aren’t significant givers. On average, they give $481 per year, compared to $732 for Generation X and $1,212 for Boomers.


Mac users are more generous.


On average, Mac users give $182 per donation, while PC users give $137. This reminds us that correlations related to giving can be found in the most unexpected places, so dig deep!


Add video.


According to Olgive, 57% of people who watch a nonprofit video will ultimately donate. Use print-to-mobile tools like QR Codes and augmented reality to enable donors to feel more personally connected to your cause.


Be mobile-friendly.


According to Nonprofits Source, 51% of people visit nonprofit websites on mobile devices. Even if you send your appeals through the mail, make sure your website is optimized to look fantastic regardless of what device people use to access it.


Don’t overlook lower-income households.


If you think the more money someone has, the more likely they will reach into their pockets, you’d be wrong. In one survey, households making $25,000 per year gave an average of 12.8% of their annual income to charity. This is the highest percentage (and nearly double that) of any other income demographic.


All of this points to the need for more and better data. Every nonprofit’s donor base will look and act differently, so before mailing out that appeal, invest the time to understand yours.


“Do You Really Know Me?” From: Your Customer

To create genuinely personal communications, you need to know your customers. This requires more than knowing basics like name, address, and gender. It requires knowing more about who your customers are.


Let’s take an example from the world of sports. For example, when we think of hockey fans, we might think of demographics such as age, gender, and region of the country in which a fan lives. But did you know that National Hockey League (NHL) fans are the most affluent sports fans in the country? (Out of all major league sports, the NHL has the highest percentage of fans earning more than $100,000 per year.) Or that half of Major League Baseball fans are retirees? Or that 40% of NASCAR fans are women?


The starting point for any targeted or personalized campaign is knowing the make-up of your audience. If you don’t have this information, make it one of your goals to find out. Send a direct mail or email survey or conduct a focus group. Add survey forms on your website or purchase additional data to fill in the gaps.


Don’t stop there. Ask yourself what else you might not know about your target audience that would be helpful. When the NHL started personalizing its fan communications, for example, it asked them to fill out a survey that indicated where they lived and their favorite hockey team. The NHL discovered that 40% of its fan base lives outside their favorite team’s home market. Imagine the marketing opportunities for the league!


Know your customers from the inside, too.


Consider investing in fundamental database analysis. Identify your top 10% of customers by frequency, volume, and revenue.
What do those customers “look” like? Create a set of customer profiles.

What does each profile have in common (age, income, marital status, purchase habits)? In a B2B environment, you might look at the vertical market, employee size, and annual revenues.

Get to know your bottom 10%, too. What do they look like? Are they customers you can woo back?

There is an infinite number of questions you can ask, but they all start with knowing who your customers are in the first place.

Lessons Learned from Real-Life Split Testing

If you want to know what’s working, test it. Is this recipe better than that one? Is this pair of shoes more comfortable than those? Marketing is no different. By taking a portion of your list and testing one element at a time, you can find out what works best. Even if you’ve done testing in the past, things change. It’s essential to keep testing to make sure you know what is working now.


Unbounce, a service that allows marketers to build, publish, and test landing pages, has described the impact of testing on three different companies and the lessons learned from each. Let’s take a brief look at each one.


Test #1: Great ads can get better. SafeSoft Solutions had a slick, professional ad that was doing well. The headline promoted productivity and efficiency. It used attention-grabbing, easy-to-read bullet points to outline the benefits of its services. But the ad did not contain pricing information. SafeSoft decided to test the addition of a green starburst with its pricing inside. The result? A 100% increase in conversions.


Test #2: Not all trial offers are created equal. For some companies, a seven-day offer might be perfect. For others, customers might need a more extended test-out period. When HubSpot split tested its trial offer, it found that prospects required more time to make a decision. By testing a 30-day trial over a seven-day trial, it was found that it could boost conversions by 110%.


Test #3: Location matters. Does the placement of the CTA make a difference? Inbound Strategy wanted to find out. It tweaked its site’s landing page, added more information, and played with the location of the CTA. The results? When the CTA was moved from the right-hand side of the page to the left, there was a 217% increase in conversions compared to the control.


These examples have lessons for us, as well. Whether you are working with print, email, landing pages, or any other channel, you’re missing opportunities if you’re not doing split testing regularly. What insights and higher conversion rates might you be missing?


Be Authentic and Connect with Customers

Increasingly, marketers understand the power of emotions. Product features and benefits are essential, but someone’s need, fear, or desire often motivates the actual purchase. Just look at some of the most iconic brands on the market. Johnson & Johnson doesn’t sell Band-Aids based on their adhesive properties. It shows a crying child being soothed by a loving parent. Nike doesn’t sell shoes based on the resilience of its soles. It shows athletes overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness.


Here are three ways you can tap into emotion in your marketing.


1. Think “simple” or “complex.”


Simple sales are those for which people can make quick, easy decisions based on numbers: This product is 10% cheaper than that one. That product offers 25% more longevity than the one I have. However, with complex decisions like financial, insurance, and medical products, emotion plays a much more significant role.


What makes me feel safe? How can I best protect my family long-term? When writing your product copy, think about which category your products fall into.


2. Be authentic.


Nobody likes a phony. That includes customers. Honesty makes consumers feel connected and creates trust and respect for the brand. Consider Allstate Insurance. In its 30-second slice-of-life commercials, homeowners fall prey to their humanness by opening car doors into oncoming traffic or crashing into parking lot barriers because they’re looking at their children’s birthday balloons in the rearview mirror. We’ve all done it. It feels natural and familiar. Be honest, and make your brand something people can relate to.


3. Think beyond the sale.


Show an interest in your customers and prospects beyond the sale. Drop them tips and tricks that help them with everyday problems. Create emotional engagement that transcends the immediate need. Stanley Steemer does this well. It sends a high number of direct mail pieces and emails every year. While some of these pieces are designed to sell, cross-sell, and upsell, the majority are tips for various household cleaning projects. This is information people can use whether they end up purchasing Stanley Steemer services or not.


Emotion and brand connection sell. Maybe not right away, but over time. So be honest, be relatable, and invest in your customers long-term. It takes more effort, but it pays off in the long run.

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