The Ripple Effect: How to be An Everyday Innovator

When it comes to developing fresh approaches that lead to significant growth and powerful transformation, many leaders of businesses and nonprofits struggle with out-of-the-box thinking.

everyday innovator

In fact, research shows that
98 percent of adults don’t consider themselves creative and 80 percent of Americans report feeling an increasing amount of pressure to be productive rather than creative at work. This difficulty that business leaders have to both find the creativity inside them and set aside the time to be creative was the focus of Allegra’s most recent
webinar.

During the online presentation, Allegra hosted noted author Josh Linkner, a two-time New York Times bestseller, founder of four tech companies, and co-founder of
Detroit Venture Partners. A celebrated innovator, Linkner shared tangible strategies on how business and nonprofit leaders can harness creativity in everyday situations and tasks to drive meaningful results.

To help you inject creativity into your business or organization, Linkner shared five key innovation principles during Allegra’s “
The Ripple Effect: How To Be An Everyday Innovator” webinar.

Get curious
Challenge the underlying assumptions of your business or organization by asking questions such as “why,” “why not” or “what if?” Curiosity leads the charge when it comes to assessing the viability of your current processes and protocol, which can lead to nontraditional approaches and successes.

Crave what’s next
As a business leader, it’s important to first shed the past so you can focus forward. You won’t achieve long-term success by sticking to the status quo. Lean into change and utilize forward thinking.

Defy tradition
Rather than focusing on aspects that you can’t control in your business, channel your creative thinking toward factors that you can. Don’t rely on traditions to move your business ahead. Instead, ask yourself “what can I flip?” By doing a “judo flip” on challenges, processes and traditions, you’re much more likely to have a breakthrough that leads to a stronger outcome.

Get scrappy
As small business and nonprofit leaders, it’s easy to resist steps toward innovation when you’re in a resource-constrained environment. Don’t wait for external resources or support to move forward. Get scrappy and find ways to make changes without capital or resources.

Adapt fast
Innovation doesn’t always have to be big and bold. Respond and react quickly, and flip tragedy into triumph as adjustments are needed in your business or nonprofit. By breaking big ideas or problems into tiny experiments, you’ll be able to learn and adapt quickly.

Is your business or organization stuck in the mundane? Are you repeating the same marketing strategies day in and day out? We can help you challenge the norm by pushing the boundaries of innovation. Check out the recording of
Allegra’s “Ripple Effect” webinar and
contact Allegra to get started.

4 Tips for Creating Engaging B2B Content

Intentional or not, most businesses and organizations create an enormous amount of content every day. With more web writing, blogs, emails, case studies and the like, the risk of favoring quantity over quality grows.

b2b content

Content should be engaging, educational and/or actionable to your key audience. Here are four reminders for your content producers:

1. Share data.
According to a recent content preference
report, 76% of B2B buyers said more data, research and benchmark reports would improve the content quality from B2B vendors.


2. Consistency is key.

All content, printed and online, should flow seamlessly in a way that allows readers to distinguish your brand simply through its look and messaging. A consistent flow of content managed with a content calendar is a best practice that keeps you aware of the channels that are activated and when.

3. Repurpose original content.
Repurposed content increases social reach, boosts SEO, reinforces key messages and helps you gain authority in your industry. Try turning a webinar into a YouTube video tutorial, transforming old blog posts into comprehensive guides, packaging blog posts as email newsletters and mining key statistics for compelling Twitter graphics.

4. Focus on your audience, not your brand.
The purpose of effective content is to provide valuable, relevant content to build a relationship with your audience. Your messaging should bridge the gap between what companies want to talk about and what audiences want to know.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY: Discover how to harness your creativity to drive everyday innovations in your organization.
Sign up now for our free marketing webinar, “The Ripple Effect: How to be an Everyday Innovator,” on Aug. 30 at 1 p.m. (ET). It features Josh Linkner, five-time tech entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker on innovation, creativity and leadership.

Need assistance with creating or distributing your valuable B2B content through print and digital channels?
Let us know; we can help.

3 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Email Marketing Results

According to
Forrester, email marketing is the most direct way to reach and interact with your audience – even more so than social channels, like Facebook. The
study says that people are twice as likely to sign up for your email list as they are to interact with you on Facebook.

email marketing
Like any marketing channel, email marketing follows a “test, measure, refine” improvement process that helps marketers reach their goals. Let’s look at four simple ways to enhance your email marketing results.

Clean up your list.
Before removing anyone from your list who hasn’t been opening your emails, try to directly re-engage. A subject line such as “We Miss You,” coupled with a special offer to encourage interaction, can go a long way toward increasing your open rate. However, if you see multiple consecutive deployments go unopened or a lot of bounces, you should remove these addresses from your list.

Dedicate time to split testing.
Choose a small portion of your total list, and try some A/B testing. Send half of your list one email version while the other half gets a different email. Pick one variable (e.g., the subject line, body content, image or offer), and send the version to the whole group that gets the most opens or clicks.

This sort of testing helps to identify and refine your messaging by determining the information that’s most relevant. Try testing at different times of day and week to further impact open rates.

Choose a multi-channel strategy.
Though email is a fast, affordable and efficient marketing channel, it’s best used as part of an integrated marketing approach. According to the
Direct Marketing Association’s 2016 Response Rate Report, 44 percent of marketers used three or more channels for their marketing. These channels are often email marketing, social media and direct mail.

Contact Allegra today for assistance with setting up a multi-channel marketing campaign for your business or organization.

Step Up Your Swag to Build Brand Awareness

For building brand awareness, one of the most effective tools is logoed promotional products. According to a
2016 study by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), approximately 87 percent of marketers credit promotional products with helping them to reach marketing goals.

build brand awareness

In today’s multi-channel landscape, what can brands do to get their best ROI out of this proven advertising tactic?

Here are some tips to put a new spin on the promotional merchandise in your marketing mix:

Higher tech, higher impact
When connectivity rules, logoed tech accessories are fun and functional for all. Consider branded USB drives, smartphone coasters or stylus pens as giveaways at your next event.

Packable, practical promos
A recent blog
post from ProForma shared that logoed merchandise such as bags, backpacks and totes are favorites among consumers. Prized for their practicality, bags and totes are often used for travel and errand-running, leading to wider exposure and reach. For the environmentally conscious, logoed canvas shopping bags or eco-friendly materials are appreciated and remembered.

Health is wealth
Logoed fitness and wellness items such as infusers, blender bottles, yoga mats and towels and ear buds resonate well with most audiences. Not to mention, this type of logoed merchandise serves as the perfect employee incentive and is a great internal marketing tool for workplace wellness initiatives.

Balance promotion and purpose
With so many choices, picking the best logoed promo products can get tricky. Shop with purpose. Give event attendees and targeted audiences something that they’ll be able to use. Research continues to show that people appreciate usefulness most.

Finding the right promotional products to build brand awareness can be time-consuming. Let us lend a hand. The promotional merchandise pros at
Allegra can help you make a lasting impression; always on time and on budget.

6 Ways to Use High-Impact Printing to Stand Out

The tactile nature of print media is one of the most important ways that it stands out from digital. In fact, the
Content Marketing Institute says that audiences are more engaged than ever with print marketing, with an influx of brands using direct mail and print marketing to cut through the digital clutter.

high-impact printing

One of print communications’ most compelling benefits is its ability to engage multiple senses. But have you ever considered the message that the paper itself is sending? Here are eight ways to use high-impact printing to enhance marketing, draw attention to your call-to-action, and stand out from the competition.

  1. Match texture to content.
  2. Think about how you want your printed pieces to be perceived. High-quality cardstock communicates something different than lightweight paper. Try to find textures in your content, products or stories that you can emulate through paper. For example, you can choose a texture that mimics a weave of fabric or a raw roughness that may match a more masculine product category.

  3. Add some sparkle.
  4. Consider using foil to catch the light and attention of your audience. Or, a variance in ink opacity can achieve an unusual effect depending on the direction from which the paper is held and viewed. These types of treatments are especially nice for special event invitations and new product launches.

  5. Show your shape with die cuts.
  6. Unusual shapes in printed materials can create interest and underscore your brand’s specialty. For instance, if you sell window treatments, accentuate a graphic of a window by using a die cut in the shape of your product.

  7. Use a creative fold.
  8. A unique fold – letter, accordion, gate, engineering, cross, double-parallel, baronial – can help organize your message and ensure that your piece fits in the correct envelope or folder – plus, it’s just plain fun to open!

  9. Try a pop-out image.
  10. Pop-out images that are revealed to the reader when unfolding a piece can add unexpected interest and drama.

  11. Wrap it up.
  12. Envelopes are influential to the success of a direct mail campaign. Looking to enhance your response rates? Test! Use your typical envelope as your control and send it to half of your mailing list. The alternate version of your mailing envelope could be different paper, color versus your standard white, or have different placement for the call-to-action. Measure which performs better and continue to tweak over time.

Whether you are creating direct mail campaigns, brochures, publications, event invitations, newsletters or business cards, you can cut through the clutter and increase engagement with high-impact printing techniques, specialty papers and folds. If you need help developing a campaign that can help you stand out against the competition,
reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you.

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Store Signage

Signage can be responsible for half of your customers, says the
International Sign Association. Signs can attract new customers, brand your business and drive impulse sales.

Here are seven ways to make the most out of your signage while saving time and preserving your budget:

Look at what you’ve got with fresh eyes.

It’s only natural to become familiar with your surroundings. Take the opportunity to look around at your facility with fresh eyes; put yourself in the shoes of a new client or customer. Take note of anything out-of-date, discolored or worn out. You may also be missing an opportunity to illuminate an existing sign or freshen up what is often the first visual impression of your company.

Put your space to work with custom graphics.

Make the most of every square foot of informational, promotional or decorative space in your location. 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 floors and even printed ceiling tiles.

store signage
Attract new customers with easy-on car magnets.

Smaller businesses or organizations without a permanent vehicle or fleet for deliveries or service calls can benefit from a car-top or door-side magnet signs. These are an ideal way to put your marketing in motion and are easily removed when trucks or vans do double-duty for personal use.

Spruce up your décor with wall-mounted posters.

An inexpensive and elegant way to enhance your interior décor is wall-mounting framed art, photography, inspirational quotations and historical documents. Safety rules, schedules and HR notices that are posted for employees can also get a facelift with a clean-looking frame mounted to the wall.

Try perforated window graphics.

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. One-way vinyl graphics replicating frosted glass or displaying a design or scene also add privacy to office or conference room windows.


Grab attention with big, bold banners.

The versatility of a colorful, custom banner or fabric sign can’t be beat. It can be equally useful indoors or out, for a one-time appearance or to reuse time and time again. Today’s oversized printing lets you go big, while materials including fabric, paper and vinyl help you match your banner to a budget of any size.

Save big with lamination.

Protect and preserve your frequently used documents with lamination. This could apply to restaurant menus, instruction sheets, schedules, name badges and even larger-sized posters. Water-resistant lamination will improve their appearance, and reduce the cost of reprinting.

From custom design to installation,
talk to our signage professionals about how to make a greater impact on your customer base with creative solutions.

Using Direct Mail? Here are the Best Spots to Place Your Offer

Most of us carry mini computers in our pockets, and the move to digital has consumed every industry. But don’t be fooled into thinking that print has lost value.

direct mail

A Content Marketing Institute
study says that audiences are more engaged than ever before with marketing messages, thanks to an integrated approach to information dissemination that many brands use. This marketing integration serves direct mail well, and
research shows that brands are increasingly using direct mail and print marketing to cut through the digital clutter.

With a range of formats, interesting folds and eye-catching cuts, direct marketing pros are easily able to match their page space requirements for simple and complex messaging.

The placement of your actual offer and call-to-action is important to ensure its seen. Here are some of the top spots where readers are most likely to see your offer and take the desired action. Improved response rates open doors for continued nurturing and engagement . . . and greater sales.

Outer envelope
Make every inch count, including space on the outer envelope. A strong offer can be made in just a few words on a #10 business-size envelope, and the mailing panel on a self-mailer also offers prime real estate. For the latter, be careful to avoid interfering with addressing which will impact the mailability.

Opening paragraph
If you’re sending a letter, include your offer in the opening paragraph; readers may skim. With other formats, headlines and subheads can be used to reinforce your pitch.


Last sentence

Finish the mailing piece with a direct call-to-action, repeating your offer. Readers should have no questions about what you want them to do and how they can proceed.


P.S.

Many readers simply scan and skip to the close. Use a P.S. to reach these readers, and reinforce messaging for the rest who will benefit from a reminder.

Lift note or insert
Typically, a lift note or insert is a small flyer inserted within the direct mail piece that can further encourage the reader and simplify your offer in one clear statement. Pair this with eye-catching graphics for inspiring action.

If you’re interested in learning how an integrated marketing campaign featuring direct mail can amplify your marketing programs,
contact Allegra today.

The Key to Successful Web Marketing: Take it One Step at a Time

The importance businesses place on web marketing is growing daily; according to marketing giant
Hubspot, 61 percent of marketers say that improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.

web marketing

With complicated, multi-pronged initiatives across your website, local listings and social media, it’s easy for busy small business owners looking to grow their web marketing strategy to feel completely overwhelmed. The key? Just take it one step at a time.

Here are a few ways you can overcome the obstacles of limited time and resources to bring this big job down to size.

Website

If improving your search engine rankings is a priority for you, you’re right on. A
study by online ad resource WordStream shows that 72 percent of consumers who did a local web search visited a store within five miles, a clear indication that small businesses should have a robust web presence.

Because
78 percent of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases, it’s essential to ensure your site is up to scratch. Quality content such as case studies, customer profiles, optimized images with relevant image titles and alt-tags, videos and infographics are all viewed favorably by Google and can improve your search ranking.

Local Listings

All your listings on major sites (Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.) and local directories should be up-to-date with accurate and consistent phone numbers, hours of operation, email addresses, URLs and any other relevant contact information.

Claim your listing on Google My Business, as it helps with organic search, specifically increasing visibility through Google Maps and Google+. And be sure that all of your entries are stylistically identical, meaning that if your address is 123 Main Street, it’s written like this in every instance, rather than 123 Main St. in some spots. Search engines recognize consistency.

Social Media

Social Media Examiner’s
2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report showcases a direct relationship between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly time commitment.

From this study, we can glean that habits form over time on social media as people increasingly see its value. Of those with less than one year’s experience, 54 percent spend five or fewer hours per week. Of those who have been active for two years or longer, 64 percent spend six hours or more a week on social media activities.

What can we learn from this? It takes time to build a following on one or multiple channels, so start small. According to the
Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers rated LinkedIn as most effective, while B2C marketers prefer Facebook. Pick your channel of choice and start by investing an hour a day posting. Have some fun with it . . . and measure the results.

Need a hand updating your website or online strategy?
We can help!

The Importance of Competitive Differentiation in Small Business Marketing

In a recent
blog post recapping Allegra’s “Find Your X Factor,” a hard-hitting webinar showcasing strategic ways for small business owners to distinguish their companies to drive leads and loyalty, I shared six tactics to break through the noise with an effective cross-channel marketing strategy.

Kate Dunn, the award-winning, cross-channel marketing influencer and Director of Keypoint Intelligence for InfoTrends, led the webinar.

In today’s discussion, let’s dive deeper into one of the hot topics Kate presented to webinar attendees: the importance of competitive differentiation in small business marketing strategies.

Below are several considerations for successfully incorporating brand differentiators into your small business marketing strategy:

Your differentiation must be clear.

A differentiator is a characteristic about your business or brand that separates it from key competitors and offers a perceived advantage in the eyes of your target audience. As a small business marketer, you’re likely able to pinpoint what makes your brand stand out, but is it clear to your customers?

competitive differentiation

Once you’ve clearly defined your business’ competitive differentiators, it’s important to position them within your brand’s key messaging strategy to ensure they are communicated and marketed in the most effective manner.

Your differentiation should be easy to articulate.

In her presentation, Kate referenced a key finding from
SiriusDecisions, a leading B2B research and advisory firm, revealing that “an inability to articulate unique value is the number one reason that sales reps don’t achieve their quotas.”

Once you clearly define your points of differentiation, be sure everyone in your organization can easily speak about it. It’s crucial that the brand differentiators are uncomplicated and concise. Likewise, it’s especially important to train your sales team to effectively communicate your competitive differentiators with prospects.


Understand that value proposition isn’t always a competitive differentiator.

According to a customer experience
survey by the Corporate Executive Board Company, only 14 percent of buyers perceive enough meaningful difference between brands’ business value to be willing to pay extra for that difference. Consequently, it’s essential that your operations and customer service match your company’s intended differentiators. In turn, to market the value proposition of your business’ product or service to customers, you must take the time to truly know your customers and what they value in your business.

In a crowded marketplace, a strong competitive differentiation can set you apart and garner more interest, but it’s important to ensure that all aspects of the company live up to this promise.

Interested in advancing your small business’ marketing strategy by using your brand differentiation to gain a competitive edge? Check out the recording of Allegra’s “Finding Your X Factor”
webinar to gain valuable insights, and be sure to contact your local
Allegra.