4 Ways e-Commerce Sites Bring Better Brand Control and Consistency

E-commerce

No matter how careful your organization may be, there’s always a chance for brand inconsistencies to creep into your marketing communications over time as your business evolves or your staff changes. In fact, your organization may be especially vulnerable if:

  • You operate several locations
  • Your marketing materials are accessed by multiple people
  • Your printed materials require frequent updates

Even the smallest breaches in brand consistency, such as differing colors or fonts, competing messaging or confusing wording, can do some major damage. According to a survey by Demand Metric Research Plus, 71% of marketers and brand managers said that brand inconsistencies result in market confusion, 56% said they result in harm to your credibility and 30 percent said they make it harder to compete.

So, the question is, how can businesses, organizations and nonprofits protect themselves from harmful brand inconsistencies? Marketers looking for a better way to manage their brand assets might consider a web-to-print solution (W2P) also known as an online order and print fulfillment system.

Here are four ways e-commerce sites can offer a competitive edge and streamline your organization’s marketing dollars:

  1. Centralize control.
    When brand standards are controlled through an e-commerce website, you can greatly increase the consistency and accuracy of your marketing and sales materials by having your most current versions of documents available to all who need access.
  2. Increase impact.
    Cut turnaround time while you empower multiple users to reach your company’s communications goals. Your marketing gets more relevant when you can easily localize your content for powerful, personalized messaging.
  3. Monitor spending.
    With a system in place, you can track both usage and purchases across employees and offices. This information can be used for further marketing and sales efforts as you determine what’s being used and where you can trim expenses.
  4. Improve efficiency. 
    By consolidating your organization’s communications resources, you can leverage your buying power while avoiding the “one off” spending that often occurs in regional offices or with remote employees.

Want better control over the consistency of your brand? Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail to learn more about how a convenient and user-friendly web-to-print solution can better equip you to streamline the ordering and management of your marketing and business materials.

3 Ways to Inspire Your Team

Business owners and managers who set lofty goals know it takes many contributions – large and small – across all areas of the company to reach them. And that takes cultivating an environment where your team members are motivated and engaged.

Inspire your team

As much as you may understand your business and what it stands for, communicating that effectively to those around you can be tricky, especially when you’re juggling multiple demands on your time. Here are some areas where you can make a difference right away:

  1. Live your mission.
    A mission statement or value proposition describes what you do and how it differentiates you from your competitors. Your values define who you are. They don’t change even as the business evolves.
    Everyone on your team should be regularly exposed to your organizational values through visual reminders and storytelling of values in action. From small posters or handouts for individual workspaces, to large wall and window graphics, keep your core messages front and center by incorporating them in your office décor.
  2. Get off to a great start. 
    Consider this: According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report, first-year employees are at the highest risk for turnover, and it takes up to six months for their value to offset the costs related to hiring, onboarding, compensation and benefits. Get everyone off to a great start with a “feel-good” welcome kit, including items like a logoed shirt, business cards, a personalized coffee mug and more. Distribute an employee handbook as a tangible source to seek out company policies; they’ll appreciate having a printed version for quick reference. Additionally, how your organization is perceived internally and externally is influenced by the consistency of your communications and delivery of your brand message, so be sure to maintain a unified image. You’ll want to keep it consistent across print, digital and in-house signage.
  3. Show appreciation.
    According to a survey by Reward Gateway, nearly six out of 10 respondents say they would prefer to work for a company with a culture where they receive recognition over a higher-paying job where they didn’t receive any. While acknowledging an employee of the month is good, better yet is rewarding your team members in the moment. Drawstring backpacks, headphones or travel blankets with your company imprint are great ways to show appreciation for a job well done. And enable your employees to acknowledge one another for being a team player with whimsical “high five” trophies or tokens redeemable for office perks.

Inspired to bring your team together? Contact  your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail today for office materials, logoed products and gifts, and more.

What to Print for Your Next Event

Event marketing can prove to be an effective strategy for lead generation and customer retention. Yet common missteps that can thwart your best intentions can happen before (lack of preparation), during (poor displays) and after (failure to follow up with leads). All can be easily avoided!

Printed Materials for Event Marketing

Many of your promotional tactics will be print-related. To ensure a greater return on your investment at your next trade show, expo or community event, here’s a rundown of what most marketers have in their event arsenal:

Banners, Posters and Signage
Whether your event is inside or outdoors, you’re competing with a lot of visual noise. Professionally produced banners, flags, pennants, posters and directional signage can drive foot traffic to your space, creating more opportunity for engagement. According to the 2016 Experiential Marketing Content Benchmarking Report, 74% of consumers said meeting with exhibitors made them more likely to buy the products being promoted or demonstrated.

Brochures and Flyers
Take along a mix of marketing materials. Inexpensive handouts are just right for anyone stopping by your booth, serving as a handy refresher once the show is over and everyone heads home. Keep a stash of more robust, high-quality sales brochures available for anyone who expresses a genuine interest.

Business Cards
Business cards are necessary for events and trade shows, so you’ll want to ensure that your team has plenty to hand out. Are they up-to-date? Visually appealing? Readable? Think about sprucing up your business cards with textured paper, vibrant palettes and graphics and unique type fonts that align with your brand identity.

Direct Mail
Use the mail to be first in line in the minds of your customers, as it can take multiple contacts with your target audience to drive action. For an event, plan on delivering a save-the-date card a few weeks ahead of your invitation mailing. Based on responses, you may need a third reminder. An inexpensive postcard will do as a last push for RSVPs.

Programs
Event apps are growing in popularity for those who always have a phone in hand. Be aware that not all venues are enabled with Wi-Fi or it can be an additional cost if you’re the event host. Cover your bases with a printed program for handy reference and note taking. Your attendees will thank you.

There are plenty of extra print materials that can boost the success of your event. Place cards or nametags for special dinners, meet-and-greets and other similar events are a great way to organize your attendees and break the ice. Raffle tickets and contest forms featuring your brand logo create a fun and interactive experience for everyone, keeping you top of mind.

Want to check off these printed materials from your list? Your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail can help you!

Rethinking Signage: 3 Ways to Go Beyond the Banner

Large signs and graphics make a lasting impression on your audience. Whether indoors or out, there are plenty of trendy options to spice up your signage. Here are a few of our favorite ways to say hello to a new, fresh look that will capture your audience’s attention.

  1. Walk it out
    Make the most of every square foot of informational, promotional or decorative space in your facility. The latest solutions in graphics prove that you’re no longer limited to walls, windows and doors; you can now take advantage of graphics for floor surfaces and even printed ceiling tiles.
    Allegra Signage
  2. Look outside
    Perforated window graphics are a creative way to share your message. A creative twist on an old favorite, perforated graphics present a promotional message when viewed from one side (such as the outside of a door or window) and a clear view when seen from the other (often the inside of a vehicle or building). One-way vinyl graphics replicating frosted glass or displaying a design or scene also add an attractive element of privacy to office or conference room windows.
  3. Get mobile
    Whether they’re on a car, van or trailer, vehicle graphics and decals are some of the most economical ways to deliver promotional messages. Simply parking your vehicle is a marketing tactic! Smaller businesses or organizations without a permanent vehicle or fleet for deliveries or service calls can benefit from repositionable graphics. These are an ideal way to put your marketing in motion and are easily removed and replaced.

From custom design to installation, talk to the signage professionals at your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail about how to make a greater impact with creative sign solutions.

3 Creative Ways to Add Value to Your Signage

Thanks to advancements in large format printing, creative signage solutions are more affordable than ever. Here are three trendy ways you can spice up your company’s space with eye-catching signs and large graphics:

Valuable Signage

  1. Go Green
    In many sectors, industry standards dictate certain environmental regulations about waste and materials. Environmentally friendly inks and materials can help you meet your standards and reduce your overall waste. Also, according to Nielsen, two out of three consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to making a positive social environmental impact. Win-win!
  2. Explore New Surfaces
    Digital printing technology makes it possible to print on – or affix to – nearly any surface for a custom look that fits your brand’s standards in look and feel. Consider a mural for your lobby, floor graphics or even wraps around pillars and posts. A simple change can transform your work space from average to inspiring.
  3. Add Texture
    When it comes to signage that travels with you to trade shows or events, textured backdrops and graphical drapes are two sure bets that can draw foot traffic to your booth. They can even help define a space for your product demos on a busy trade show floor.

Talk to the sign pros at your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail to learn more about your signage options and how they can fit into your budget.

Tips for Conducting an Informative Brand Audit

Performing a brand audit enables you to evaluate what your current marketing and communications strategies are (or are not) saying about your brand and provides a qualitative assessment of your brand identity’s overall strength and consistency.

Tips for Conducting an Informative Brand Audit

Marketers surveyed by Demand Metric Research Plus said branding inconsistencies result in market confusion (71 percent), damage credibility (56 percent) and make it harder to compete (30 percent).

Brand audits provide the proper intel needed to set a blueprint for the future. Here are some tips for conducting a brand audit that is both informative and focused:

Know your standards. A well-defined set of brand guidelines is crucial for maintaining a cohesive brand identity. When reviewing print and online branding materials, keep a checklist to evaluate proper logo usage, preferred fonts and other stylistic requirements.

Read for tone and messaging. Make sure the verbiage used in your brand communications is up to date and properly reflects the overall direction of the brand.

Prioritize your revisions. As you conduct the audit, be sure to note any branding inconsistencies. Prioritize corrections before creating new pieces.

Embrace technology. Centralizing control with an online ordering system prevents satellite offices from going “rogue” with unapproved materials, ensures proper branding, and saves time and money. For businesses or organizations with multiple locations, a web-to-print or online ordering system is an easy way to oversee adherence to brand standards.

Keep it seamless across all channels. Integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns are most successful when a brand’s print and digital identity are consistent with one another. Websites, email templates and social properties should always reflect your offline branding, and vice versa with printed brand materials.

Need help conducting your branding audit to ensure your marketing materials are aligned with your brand standards? Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail today.

5 Marketing Books to Add to Your Reading List

Whether you’re looking to establish a new content strategy, spice up your branding, earn new customers or simply find some inspiration, there’s no shortage of expertise on the shelf. Here are five of our favorite books:
Five Books for Your Reading List

The One Hour Content Plan: The Solopreneur’s Guide to a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Ideas in 60 Minutes and Creating Content That Hooks and Sells: Looking to populate your blog or website with original content that stands out? This is a must-read to create a solid content foundation that highlights the products or services your brand offers.

Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team: If you’ve ever felt like your brand could use a refresh but you’re not sure where to begin, pick up this book. You’ll glean leadership lessons for your whole team with takeaways that will enhance your brand for years to come.

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing and Advertising: Ryan Holiday takes lessons from Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb and Twitter for his guide to replacing stale marketing lessons with tools that are testable, trackable and scalable.

The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money and Stand Out from the Crowd: More than 500 readers have given this book a five-star review for its strategies to start following a reliable, brief plan for rapid business growth. It’s easy to see why.

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade: Social psychologist Robert Cialdini digs deep into effective persuasion. This is a great tool for communicators looking to bring an edge to their strategies and grab attention in powerful ways.

Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail today for help in planning, designing, executing your marketing campaigns so you get the best return on your investment.

How to Make Your Business Card a Real Keeper

Though advances in technology are constantly redefining the ways in which we do business, one conventional business practice has stood the test of time: the business card.

Allegra Business Card

Printed business cards provide a tangible, personalized element to relationship-building that digital alternatives cannot. And, when tailored to reflect your brand’s image, business cards serve as important marketing collateral for creating a positive, long-lasting first impression.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 72 percent of professionals say they judge companies based upon the quality of their employees’ business card. The driving force ensuring your business card reflects both you and your organization well? A strong design.

Here are some tips for creating a brand-building business card that is sure to leave a good impression:

Make it colorful.
In the same survey, 78 percent of respondents said a color business card is more memorable than a standard, white card. Align your color palette and graphics with your brand standards to help ensure a seamless brand experience at every touchpoint.

Choose an unusual material.
Although card stock is both cost-effective and practical, virtually any paper and a wide variety of finishes can be used for business cards – textured or smooth, glossy or matte. However, if you’re truly set on setting your brand apart, choose a lightweight wood or plastic sheath.

Investing a little more should pay off: Nearly four out of 10 survey takers said they would choose not to do business with someone if they have a “cheap looking” business card.

Keep it consistent.
The look and feel of your brand and all your promotional materials are likely to evolve over time. Have a plan to do a brand audit annually to weed out the materials that are outdated in information and appearance. Your schedule of design revisions just might start with your business cards.

Looking for a bolder business card design that speaks volumes about your brand? Allegra’s team of business branding experts can help create the perfect design. Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail today.

3 Reasons to Add Video to Your Marketing Mix

YouTube says it has more than a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the internet — and each day they watch hundreds of millions of hours of video generating billions of views. Many marketers have seized the opportunities the popularity of video presents.

Video MarketingAccording to the State of Video Marketing 2017 report by Wyzowl, 63 percent of businesses are using video as a marketing tool, and out of those, 82 percent feel video is an important part of their marketing strategy.

Not making the most of your visual content? Here are three reasons why you might want to consider video:

  1. Increased reach. Wordstream estimates that videos on social media generate 1,200 percent more shares than text and images combined. Brainstorm ideas for interesting ways to present targeted messaging during four distinct buying stages: awareness, interest, decision and action. For example, at the decision stage, customer testimonials or “about us” videos that show your team’s expertise help to personalizes your brand.
  2. Better retention. According to Invisia, viewers retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it in a video. With smartphones, tablets and quality webcams, nearly everyone in your organization can be a video content creator. And, capturing a variety of perspectives may offer new angles to storytelling that you hadn’t anticipated.
  3. Long-lasting. Video content can also be used as blog articles, slide decks, interactive web experiences and more. All these things could alternately be turned into video.Looking to take the first step to add video to your marketing strategy? Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail today for assistance.

Three Ways Promotional Products Can Elevate Your Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail is an effective way to stand out from the digital noise and reach your key audiences. One tactic to increase your direct mail response rate is to make your mail more appealing by giving it shape, compared to a typical flat mail that people receive every day.

Three Ways Promotional Products Can Elevate Your Direct Mail Campaigns

According to a 2017 Data & Marketing Association report, a dimensional mailer can outperform a flat mailing by up to 300 percent, and at 5.49 percent, has the highest response rate of any direct response medium. Already a strong performer, your direct mail can benefit from an added lift with the inclusion of promotional products.

Here are three key considerations when integrating promotional products into your direct mail campaign:

  1. Keep it useful. Pick a product that is useful, making it more likely the recipient will hold on to it. A Global Impressions study from Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) shows that eight out of 10 consumers rank usefulness as the most important attribute of an advertising specialty.
  2. Make it memorable. ASI reports that 85 percent of consumers remember the advertiser giving them a promotional product. Include your logo on the product and brief contact information, like a website or phone number.
  3. Save your budget. Promo products have a lower cost-per-impression (less than a cent) than TV advertising, national magazine advertising and newspaper ads, and are comparable to radio and internet advertising, says ASI.

The message is clear: For your next targeted direct mail campaign, say “not this time” to plain envelopes, and try a box or tube. They can be customized and printed with a key message or theme.

Looking for ways to lift your direct mail marketing and drive greater interest and response? Contact your local Allegra Marketing Print Mail for assistance.