May 6th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
For anyone who has experienced a lull in sales during what are supposed to be the carefree, easy, summer months, we have a simple solution.
Promote your small business 365 days a year with personalized promotional calendars.
People of all ages are tasked with juggling multiple projects year round, and summer is no exception. Even if your prospects are using mobile devices to keep track of schedules, paper calendars are a perfect supplement. Potential customers can easily see appointment reminders, deadlines, and event dates, without having to dig into their cell phone settings.
Summertime is typically a fun filled, busy time of year, with graduations, birthdays, weddings, Mother’s Day, July 4th Father’s day, and summer parties.
Leverage the power of the hot summer months with customized calendars:
Summer seasonal calendars: create calendars that highlight special summer occasions. For example, in May consider using a photo of a beautiful bouquet of flowers honoring moms everywhere. The month of July can highlight photos of fireworks displays, and in August showcase summer picnics or camping destinations.
Hobby or themed calendars: Design calendars around a hobby or theme that is related to your business. For example if you sell jewelry, feature a different gem each month.
Showcase your local area: If you have a local business, highlight the area by using unique photos of landmarks, festivals, and special events. Each month can feature a favorite spot or local event.
Calendars that double as a portfolio: Use calendars to show case your work. Feature your 12 bestselling items – Promote one each month.
Motivational calendars: Inspire prospects with a calendar full of motivational and positive quotes. Add in photos that you have taken, or do a Google search for stock photos.
Interact with customers with a summer contest: Hold a contest and publish pictures of the winners on branded calendars.
Helpful tips calendar: List helpful tips related to your product or service. Each month can highlight a different tip.
Designing the calendar: You don’t have to be a designer or computer genius to design a promotional calendar:
Use an online printing service, click on calendars and browse pre-made templates.. All you have to do is customize it to your liking and voila, you have a new marketing tool that will promote your business 365 days a year.
Dating and Print Marketing: How first impressions can make or break you
May 6th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
- A QR code, put simply is a quick response code, designed to lead a consumer to a web landing page, product or promotion. You see QR codes on everything from T-shirts, to postcards to milk cartons.
- QR codes were originally invented in Japan by a large auto manufacturer. The explosive growth is due in large part to the convenience and easy “readability” of the codes.
- QR codes act and look like bar codes. Marketers embed them into promotional items to entice customers to take specific actions.
- Customers often receive a special discount or reward for scanning the code with their mobile phone. Incentivizing QR code scanners is highly recommended. It makes them feel like they are receiving special treatment.
Why should you use a QR Code?
- Beyond mere convenience to the consumer, QR codes can increase conversion rate (or chance of a sale).
- QR codes can only be scanned with a smart phone. Research shows the number of consumers who are using their phones to shop is expected to skyrocket by 2015.
- As the world converts to digital shopping, business owners everywhere should consider putting QR codes on their marketing materials. They’re cheap (or free), convenient, and easy to implement.
How to add a QR code: you don’t have to be a techy to do this:
- A number of websites will create black and white QR codes for free.
- You can also create a colorful code with colors that reflect your brand, for a small fee. Read more about how colors can affect sales here.
- If you have a Smartphone, download an app for a QR code (do a Google search for QR codes).
- The apps are all very similar, but read the ratings to help you select the one that is best for you.Once you’ve downloaded the app, start scanning QR Codes. Notice what types of incentives the marketers behind the codes are offering.
- You’ll see these funny looking codes on cereal boxes, brochures, postcards, magazine ads, etc. Pay particular attention to where the code leads you, and whether the discounts and promotions are worthwhile.
- After you scan half a dozen codes, you’ll have a better idea if this is something you want to implement in your business.
When you’re ready, visit a service online that will create a code for you free of charge. Make sure they have a tracking system in place so you can determine the effectiveness. And place a strong call to action next to the code, to motivate consumers to scan it.
What has your experience been with QR codes?
April 2nd, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
Having owned my own photography and video production company for more than 30 years, I have always believed in the power of print.
Don’t get me wrong, I relish the internet and all of the marvelous things it offers. For example, without it, you wouldn’t be reading this article. Unless, of course, someone printed it for you.
I also look to the internet to maintain a complex (as well as a hopefully informative and attractive) website, send out query letters, estimates, contracts, and maintain an active social media presence. But experience has taught me not to rely exclusively on the World Wide Web for all of my marketing needs.
After experimenting with a plethora of digital, social media, and print marketing activities I can honestly say that melding internet outreach with print marketing yields far greater rewards than using either as a sole source
- One of the problems I’ve run into with internet marketing is, for lack of a better term, noise. Sure I can buy an email list targeted specifically to the client demographic that I want to reach. I can create a beautiful HTML-based document detailing all the wonderful things I can do for those potential clients. The issue is, many of the thousands of recipients will hit the delete button, before reading my beautifully crafted message. Or, it will get buried or lost in the “chaff” that clutters my prospects inbox.
- By chaff I mean those truly annoying (yet occasionally entertaining) emails (among other offers) from, say, Princess Shewanna of the landlocked kingdom of Katangaland-who desperately needs help moving her 600 million dollar inheritance. If only I could reap even one percent for each spam message I receive.
- So, sending out an email message promising great photography and video services has an unlikely chance of being read, much less acted upon.
However, I am not averse to internet marketing. What I am averse to is using the internet as a “single source” for marketing. Used in conjunction with “traditional” marketing methods, it can yield results far beyond what you’d expect.
For example, this is a true story:
- I recently ordered 500 rack cards from an online printing service, (overnightprints.com) branded with my logo and contact information, and select photos. (The chief reason behind ordering rack cards was not to place them in racks but rather because they fit in standard envelopes.)
- I printed a cover letter on letterhead stock, “wrapped” the rack card in the letterhead and mailed 100 of them, to a targeted list (that I also had email addresses for).
- Since the addresses were local, I waited two days and sent an email to each recipient; the subject of the email was simply the name of my company.
- The email had a little more information about my company and a teaser directing the recipients to my website, which has literally thousands of pages of information and imagery… and a “hit” tracking feature.
By the end of the week the results were astounding!
- On day four, hits increased from an average of 60 hits per day to over 400, a rate that lasted the rest of the week before tapering off
- Eight recipients responded directly with a phone call and requests for rate information
- Three recipients booked me for work,one recipient bought, as a stock photo purchase, the photo that was used as the primary image on the front side of the rack card.
- In comparison, an earlier solely email-based effort to a qualified list of recipients (which cost me five times the amount) yielded only a dozen responses, five of whom insisted I take their names and email addresses off the list, and seven who asked for printed material as a follow up.The bottom line is that internet marketing can be successful, of that there is no doubt, but if you are looking to maximize your reach for the dollars, combine the internet with print for an unbeatable combination.
Related articles:True stories about small business owners
March 29th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
Whether you own an e commerce start-up or a 30 year old brick and mortar company, your small business can be instrumental in keeping America beautiful and green.
8 ways your small business can help
- Promote your business by giving out postcards or bookmarks with environmentally friendly messages and photos of stunning nature scenes.
- Help “greenify” America – Put a button on your website announcing that you will donate $1.00 of each order to a national tree planting organization.
- Create a special landing page for your website that offers 25% off to anyone who enters (or says) the word “Green” at checkout. Then create a batch of postcards with a QR code that takes scanners to that page.
- Donate $1.00 of each order placed in April to an environmentally friendly organization, such as National Geographic, Sierra Club or the Conservation Fund. Advertise the promotion on your home page and with over-sized postcards.
- Offer to pay sales tax for the month of April, in honor of Keep America Beautiful Month.
- If you have a brick and mortar business buy a large plastic trash bin and collect recyclables during the month of April. Promote this with eye catching posters, strategically placed around your shop.
- Hold a contest for kids: Ask kids to write an essay about how they plan to keep America beautiful this spring and summer. Reward the top 2 best entries with a gift card to Amazon, or Target.
- Partner with a friend to host a “clean up our parks (or lake) day.” Invite people to gather at a local park and spend two hours picking up trash. Create branded thank you notes, for all of the participants. Include a 25% off coupon on the notes. Make it redeemable through the end of April.
Remember that when you use green in your marketing materials, you are exemplifying nature, health, life and rebirth. For more on how colors can impact sales read about the psychology of color.
How is your small business keeping America beautiful and green?
March 29th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
Americans everywhere will be doing their part this Earth day (April 22nd) to support the environment. But as an entrepreneur, why not save the planet AND your bottom line every day, with simple “earth themed” notepads?
Use branded notepads to advertise an “eco-friendly” commuter promotion. Give every customer who walks, rides a bike or takes public transportation to your business this month 15% off. Place the promotional notepads around town and make an announcement on your website.
“Earth month” recycled shopping bag giveaway. Fill four recycled shopping bags with free swag. Give one lucky customer a free bag each week this month. Advertise the giveaway with promotional branded notepads and postcards.
Hold a “green” contest: Ask customers and prospects to post their best ideas for reducing waste on your Facebook page, or a designated section of your website. Use an online printing service to create promotional notepads announcing the contest. Include entry guidelines and a submission deadline. Give a notepad to each person who walks in or makes a purchase during the month. Finally, reward the top three entries with valuable prizes like free product, cash, or a massage gift card.
Place a QR code on promotional notepads. Each scan can trigger a $2.00 donation to an environmentally friendly organization.
If you’re a hair dresser, hold a “cutahon” on Earth Day (April 22). Give 30% of the proceeds to an earth friendly organization. Advertise the event with branded notepads.
Create notepads with special “Earth month coupons.” Offer 20% off selected items during the month of April.
March 5th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
- Offer $17.00 off to the first 17 people who purchase on March 17th. Advertise the promotion with bright green flyers. Post a shamrock day “teaser” promotion on your Facebook page and website.
- Rent a photo booth for St. Patrick’s Day. Fill it with Shamrock themed props, like leprechaun hats and beards, green bowties, glasses, wigs and scarves
- Do a postcard promotion using Irish Blessings, along with a 20% coupon. Here’s an idea for an Irish Blessing: May the road rise up to meet you • May the wind always be at your back • May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft upon your fields. • And until we meet again, may Gold hold you in the palm of His hand.
- How many shamrocks can you find? Hide/camouflage shamrocks in your store, on your website, in your email and your Facebook page. (You may want to hire a graphic designer to help you with this one). The first three people to find all of them win a gift card for a massage or dinner.
- Extra sized postcard for Pot O’ Gold Promotion. Use an oversized (6 x 11) postcard. Offer 17% off on entire store before St Patrick’s Day. Take an additional 10% off on March 17th.
- Reveal the leprechaun within. Ask your customers to email photos of themselves using or promoting your product or service with something green. The three most creative entries receive a 17 dollar credit toward the purchase of their choice.
- Give away shamrock themed magnets with your logo and contact information.
- Hold a Lucky Drawing-Winner receives free product or service-this is a great strategy for collecting new leads.
- Give away green beer or green cupcakes all day on St. Patty’s Day. This will enhance brand awareness and customer appreciation.
- Greet each customer with free temporary shamrock tattoos.
March 1st, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
It’s time to celebrate and use positive thinking to your advantage both personally and professionally.
As a small business owner, there are a number of simple strategies you can employ to empower yourself, your employees, and your customers.
30 Day Optimism Challenge
Pick at least one item from the following list. Incorporate it at least once a week for the month of March and see what transpires.
- Sprinkle your business and home with positive sayings and quotes. Choose five favorites and post them throughout the month on your website and Facebook page.
- Create bookmarks with uplifting sayings, and give them to your customers to show appreciation. Mix and match them using 10 favorite quotes. Add images of beautiful scenery or photos of your company. Each time your customer looks at the bookmark, he/she will feel a little more optimistic, and think of you. It’s a win-win.
- Celebrate the Spring Equinox. Hold a special sale to celebrate the blossoms and births of the season. Promote it with brightly colored postcards or flyers.
- Write affirmations on pieces of note paper. Place on your mirror, dashboard, or computer. If you can’t come up with any, Google affirmations or try a site that lists creative affirmations.
- Challenge yourself to avoid saying anything negative-Take it a step further and look for the bright side of things. Tell others what’s great about being a small business owner, a spouse, parent, etc. You’ll feel happier and inspire people around you.
- March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. Embrace the Great Spirit and optimism of the Irish culture with a discounted happy hour.
- Spread cheer to your customers and friends with branded magnets. Create a bright colored background. In large, bold text, write “Smile-It’s National Optimism Month.”Or, add a quote from Dr. Seuss to your magnets. Surely everyone loves the Cat in the Hat! Make sure to include your phone number and website on the magnet.
- Find three things to be thankful for every day, and smile relentlessly. It may just sneak its way into a habit.
- Infuse your conversations with positive words and phrases and compliment those around you. The power of words can be profound.
How does your small business celebrate National Optimism Month?
February 28th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
Today’s printing tips are brought to you courtesy of Company Folders. If you find one or three useful, please consider sharing this post with others.
With the convenience of digital marketing, many companies have forgotten how effective print marketing can be in attracting new customers and keeping existing ones.
However, in order to be effective, you have to have materials that show off your brand in the best possible light, while staying creative enough to entice new customers into taking notice of your brand for the first time.
Merge Digital Media with Print Marketing
Using QR codes in your print marketing shows you’ve got digital savvy, and it gives customers a reason to visit your website or download your app.
When smart phone users see a QR code, they can’t help but want to follow it to see where it goes. Just make sure you’re leading them somewhere that’s going to help you seal the deal. Try using designer QR codes with color to make your codes work with your design.
Don’t Be Afraid to Instigate
Think about all those Super Bowl ads that get us talking around the water cooler the next day. Whether funny, poignant or just plain annoying, these commercials instigate the audience into talking, discussing and in some cases even arguing over them.
Create print designs that get your audience talking, even if you have to be slightly provocative to do so. When it comes to grabbing the audience’s attention, sometimes an idea that sounds insane is the one that gets your company noticed.
Engage your Audience in a Story
Nothing engages an audience quite like a story, whether it’s told through text, images or a combination of both. Decide what your company’s story is and how you want to tell it.
All of the best advertising campaigns have a narrative—from the toy bunny that just keeps going, to the old ladies who want to know where the beef is. Your narrative could be a written story, a series of sequential pictures like a comic or just one bold image that says it all.
In this age of social media, customer testimonials are crucial for any business. Ask some of your longtime clients and customers if they would be willing to say a few kind words about your company, and include a photo of each.
Not only are you showing your potential customers how well you treat your clients, you’re enticing them with the idea that one day they might be the happy smiling face in your marketing media.
Most of your existing and potential clientele probably consider themselves to be eco-conscious, and will respond positively to companies that share their ideals
Choose an eco-friendly printer. For example, Overnight Prints uses waterless technology exclusively on all of their sheetfed presses.
Call Your Customers to Action
You’ve gotten your printed materials into the hands of your potential customers—so now what? Without a call to action, recipients are going to ask themselves the same thing.
Tell them exactly what you want them to do, whether that’s “call now for a free estimate” or “save a bundle with our services.” Once you’ve told them what you want them to do, follow up with your contact information so they can do so.
Provide an Incentive!
Not every potential customer is going to heed your call to action, so you have to motivate these stubborn mules with a carrot.
Add coupon codes, special offers and introductory rates on your marketing materials to give them a reason to contact you.
You have something important to say to your audience, so do it in a lively and dramatic way. Any business could claim that they “offer quality service at an affordable rate,” but that doesn’t sound very exciting.
Instead, you could write that your company offers the “highest quality service with the lowest prices in town.” Punch up your copy so that it gets your audience to take notice.
Use Color to Reinforce Brand Inentity
Coke is red, Apple is white and McDonald’s is golden yellow. What color is your brand? Do you have effective branding in place? Do all of your marketing materials accurately reflect that?
Remember, there’s a difference between blue, cerulean and navy— substituting one for another misrepresents your brand. When in doubt, use PMS spot printing in your materials to always have the accurate tone that represents your brand color.
Upgrade your Business Cards
There’s a difference between professional looking and completely boring when it comes to business cards. Your business cards should reflect your brand, but that doesn’t mean slapping on a logo and calling it done.
Add color and design elements to give your card personality. Consider rounding the corners or adding spot UV coating to make it stand out. When recipients look at your business cards, do they see contact information or do they see your brand in a nutshell?
Pass it On
Word of mouth is a good way to drum up business, so you want to create a design that gets passed along to others. Referral offers are an easy way to create word of mouth publicity, but don’t underestimate the power of a creative design.
Sometimes we like to share things with our friends and family just because they’re interesting, poignant or funny.
February 18th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
It’s been 10 years since Overnight Prints began to make and deliver top notch print products and, in some ways, we live in a different world. Sure, we still don’t have jetpacks, x-ray specs, or pet robots, but at the very least, styles have changed.
Here at Overnight Prints, some things will never change, such as our commitment to superior print quality and on-time delivery as well as our unparalleled devotion to environmentally safe printing practices. And, we are dedicated to making sure that all of your prints convey a look of relevance and professionalism.
That’s why we decided it was time to update our website; if you’re going to trust us with your look, you should know we take pride in our look.
Our designer, Michaella (a graduate of the Super Ninja School of Website Design), wanted to make sure the site’s new aesthetic didn’t take away from its effectiveness.
She focused on smoothing visual lines, clarifying labels, and improving your ease at locating various functions.
We want your time on the site to be as enjoyable and efficient as possible, and we welcome comments or emails about your experience.
Thank you for stopping by, and stay tuned for future improvements to the site’s look and function! (Sorry, no delivery via jetpack.)(Yet.)
February 4th, 2013 by Barclay Rubel
15-20 times a day: That’s the number of times the average person opens the refrigerator each day. That alone should convince you to incorporate refrigerator magnets into your marketing mix. The exposure that your custom branded magnet could generate if it were stuck to the refrigerator of a large company could be invaluable. The ROI may very well be worth its weight in gold. Even if it were placed on an individual household refrigerator, the magnet would cause the homeowner to think about you up to twenty times each day. Magnets are affordable, practical, simple and effective advertising tools.
Here are 11 ways you can use magnets as promotional tools:
- Business card magnets
- Personal or professional photo magnets
- Give them out and promote them as a handy tool for picking up stray paper clips and safety pins
- Ensure attendance at special events with Save the Date magnets
- Give away calendar magnets with your contact information and logo
- Give branded magnets as a handy way to pick up small objects that fall under car seats.
- Increase traffic at trade shows with magnet giveaways
- Give them to customers to thank them for their purchase
- Create customized “tool kit” magnets. They can be used by men everywhere to pick up loose screws and bolts
- Make “sewing kit” magnets. They can be used to pick up and hold onto loose needles
- Offer 10 percent off when the magnet is used as a referral source
- A Baylor University study suggests that companies who give promotional gifts to customers receive 22% more referrals than those who don’t.
- Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas conducted research that revealed customers who received promotional products re-ordered up to 18% sooner than those who received coupons.
- Lastly, magnets are lasting and memorable. This simple promotional tool is the perfect way to advertise your small business without breaking the budget.