Storytelling for Business

Isn’t it time you wrote your story? I’m not talking about writing a book, although there may be a market for that within your business, I’m talking about engaging your potential clients to a point that they see you as an authority in your field.

There is no better way to engage a client than to tell a story. Humans are hard-wired to want to hear, read, and understand stories. You can do so much with them! You can educate, entertain, share experience, etc. In order to really make a difference in your audience’s mind though, you need to make an emotional connection.

In order to make an emotional connection, you need to know who your target audience is and what they will make a connection with while reading. Once you know what your story is, you can tell it across multiple media and in many different ways. Direct mail, Radio, Billboard, Displays, Banners, etc. All of these things can be a piece of the puzzle or they can tell a story with just an image and a few words. It’s up to you, or up to us if you want, to find the best way to tell that story.

So how does one tell a story without writing a book?

Well, most stories carry a similar structure, and the audience expects that a good story will use this structure to surprise and delight. Ready for the secret formula? We grabbed this off of MarketingProfs, who nabbed it from Pixar:
Continue reading Storytelling for Business

Understanding Your Color Space

In grade school, we learned how to mix primary colors (yellow, blue, and red), that yellow + blue = green, blue + red = purple, red + yellow = orange. Guess what? That was your first lesson in color theory. It’s not that simple when you are trying to color match your prints, though. It gets complicated in offset and digital printing vs. what you see on your monitor and smart phone.


Establishing your BRAND color is a great place to start, but it won’t cut it to simply say “We use dark green”. In fact, just knowing your company’s Pantone color values isn’t enough, since those values are generally used for specific printing processes. What about spot colors vs. CMYK vs. RGB?

One of the keys to having a successful brand is consistency. Every company Continue reading Understanding Your Color Space

The 5 Stages of Awareness that can make or break your campaign

People don’t buy products, they buy a better version of themselves.

A better parent, a better friend, a better marketer, a better business owner…Think about it; you might buy a seat for a webinar, on how to increase your profits using social media, because you want to be a business owner or marketer with a more profitable business.

It’s so obvious that it can sometimes be hard to figure out the next step in your marketing plan to reach the people that want or need what you are selling in order for them to feel fulfilled. Sometimes you just have to talk to somebody who has been there before. That’s what we sent our designer/marketer-in-the-making out to do. She found a great resource in Talia Wolf’s messages about reaching people where they are in the stages of awareness. The whole time she was reading or listening to the webinars, she realized that she was also in a sales funnel—Talia’s sales funnel. And she was OK with that because what she was getting out of the experience made her want to go all the way to the end. She recommends that you, the reader, check this person out here: https://getuplift.co/ and you will not be disappointed.

Before we go further, let’s examine the difference between marketing and sales.

They go hand in hand and cannot survive without each other. What makes them different is the order in which they are used, and how they are used. The marketing department’s job is to do the research, plan product launches and campaigns, and provide collateral for the sales people. The sales department needs to get educated by the marketing department on what they are selling, get familiar with it, and then go out and well…solve problems! Both departments have a role in the typical sales process.

There are 5 stages of client awareness during the sales process and it is up to marketers and their sales people to nudge potential clients through the stages. The end goal is to solve the person or company’s pain. Don’t sell to them, solve their pain.

cool fox shows the 5 stages of awareness5 stages of awareness:

  1. Unaware. These people don’t know they have a pain that needs solving quite yet, but they ARE going through the pain. They need to be shown that there is pain and that they have it.
  2. Pain Aware. These people know they have a pain. Let them see that you know and understand their pain. This is where you can show them some DIY solutions and push them to Solution Aware. Don’t show your products yet; you are still letting them get to know you.
  3. Solution Aware. They know there are solutions, services, platforms that can solve their pain but don’t know what is right for their particular circumstances. Talk about different solutions and how your solution solves their pain. Do NOT talk about features of your product yet. Focus on solving pain first. Pushes them into the product aware phase.
  4. Product Aware. They know you, your competitors, etc., and are just not convinced you are the right one. Now you can talk feature, services, prices, etc. You’ve already shown them that they have a pain, you understand their pain, there are solutions and yours is one, now show them how yours is better than the other solutions. It’s important that you wait until this stage to do this. Skipping the other steps is a good way to lose people. You have go to hold their hand a little so they know that you care about solving their pain.
  5. Most aware. People decide to convert but they need a buy button, a call to action. If you did a good job on the other 4 steps, you get the opportunity to make a difference in their professional or personal lives. If you have failed to make your case in the other 4 steps, you will lose them here.

Continue reading The 5 Stages of Awareness that can make or break your campaign

3 Million chances to convert with direct mail

In 2017, almost 3 million pieces of direct mail passed through our building. That’s a lot of mail! Among them were catalogs, oversized postcards, standard mail, letter sets, etc. That’s three million chances for businesses to get their potential clients to take action. How well will it work? Let’s take a look.

As a business owner, you may have heard that direct mail made a comeback after the recession slump. Well, it never really left as a viable option; the recession just reduced the competition!

direct mail has much higher response rates than other marketing channelsDirect mail is doing well today with or without recovery. Check out these stats from the Data and Marketing Association Response Report that we gleaned from Compu-Mail:

  1. Direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2 online display, .4% social media). This is the highest response rate the DMA has ever reported, since coming out with the Response Rate Report in 2003.
  2. At 6.6%, oversized envelopes have the greatest household response rates over other mediums (followed by postcards at 5.7% and letter-sized envelopes at 4.3%).
  3. At 37%, oversized envelopes have the greatest household return on investment over other mediums (followed by postcards and letter-sized envelopes at 29%).
  4. The response rate for direct mail among people aged 18-21 years old is 12.4%.
    The top response rate tracking methods are online tracking such as PURLs (61%), call center or telephone (53%), and code or coupon (42%).

So, what if you aren’t getting the responses for your direct mail that you see in these stats?

It all comes down to two things: 1. Foot-in-mouth problems 2. Attention to your target market and where they are in the 5 stages of awareness. This dictates copy (words), design, and timing of your mail piece.
Continue reading 3 Million chances to convert with direct mail

On a budget and tight deadline? Browse our Idea Book

It’s a given that in most industries you can have only two of these three things at any time: low price, good quality, and quick service. What if you just want a smidgen of all three? Purdy please?

You’re not exactly Mr. Monopoly, you don’t want to just plop some text on a brochure and call it good, and you need it yesterday. Yes, yes, you should have a budget for this, you should have been prepared far enough in advance to hire a good designer, and you knew this was coming —but sometimes not. Or sometimes you just need a little mercy!

So, here is a smidgen of luck for you. We can make you a custom piece, but we can also use some pre-made templates to get you started. Call it an idea generation tool if you will. Just go here, download our catalog, and reference which one you want to use. We have the same catalog in our office (of course) so we know which one you are talking about.

Browse the idea book by going here and clicking on the image of the book: http://www.api-marketing.com/our-services/design-services/

Raising Money for a Good Cause

This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation’s Faith and Fantasy Ball. It was so great to see all the wonderful supporters of our town’s great Hospital!

For the past five years I have personally been a party of the committee that helps put the event together. I have always helped with the decoration and loved every moment of it. We have done themes such as: There’s No Place Like Home (Wizard of Oz), Hollywood on the Hill, Paris, Into the Wild, Golden Masquerade and this year Around the World. The decorations are always exquisite and elaborate. The last few years I have been lucky enough to attend as well and this event is like none other. People are dressed in tuxedos, ball gowns, and depending on the theme, some are dressed to match. It is always great fun to see friends that you see regularly dressed in their absolute best with diamonds around their necks and their hair and make-up made to perfection.

As much fun and glamour as there is involved in these events there is always a reason for raising the funds. Whether it is to raise money for a new piece of machinery needed for the hospital, a new Cardiac Rehab Center or to Cancer Care, there is always a great need for the funds that are raised. This year was very beneficial to the Hospital as they raised over $160,000 through sponsorships (such as ours), silent auction, live auction and attendance.

Sutter Logo

It is such a great event that we as a company and I personally am very happy to be a part of.

Why Business Thank You Notes Are Important

TY NOTE

Growing up we were always told saying thank you was important; writing a thank you note was even better. The art of sending a Thank You Note has faded a bit but there are still a lot of people that send them and for good reason. Not only does it show you are appreciative for an item, an action, or just a relationship, but in the business world you are giving your perspective customer or current customer another reason to see your name, your business name and just another “touch” in a world that likes to be noticed.

Sometimes we get busy, sometimes we just plain forget, but making sure to send a thank you is a GREAT thing when trying to make someone feel the warm and fuzzy. It requires very little effort, it doesn’t have to be a novel, just a quick jot of words will do. A proper thank you note contains just a few things; generous, specific, prompt, concise and personal. Even if you are late to write the note, don’t let that hold you back, late is better than not at all.

Writing a Thank You note will set you apart from your competitor. Like I said before, Thank You Notes are fading a lot from what they were in the past, so sending a handwritten thank you sets you apart from the other company that has been trying to get their business. When you send a thank you note, the receiver is more likely to see your worth and value your appreciation than just a quick email or social media post. Studies have shown the great power of saying thank you. When you send a Thank You to your customers they in turn spend more, they tell their friends about you and your service delivery.  This drives profit, margin and success.

The Case for Newsletters

It’s cheaper to keep existing clients happy and engaged than it is to get new clients, which makes it so much sadder when companies neglect their client base and give exciting offers or much needed assistance only to potential clients.
With so many options today, a client needs to see value in your company in order to stick around. This value may be there already, but they need to see it! In fact, 90%* of people would switch to a new company that they feel has a better Corporate Social Responsibility ethic, or supports a cause that they like. With people that are willing to make a switch, the modern day business must frequently communicate what they are all about—without being annoying.

There are many ways to communicate: emails, newsletters, posters, flyers, brochures, mailers, videos, social media, community efforts, etc. They can range from passive, to in-your-face. The value of each depends on frequency, timing, content, and audience.  You won’t be able to praise the benefits of grass fed beef to vegans, and have them decide to eat it, no matter how good that beef is.

Quarterly and Monthly newsletters are a great way to give your clients and supporters assertive, yet not annoying bits of excellence. They can:

  1. Build loyalty by offering relevant, helpful information from your area of expertise.
  2. Let people know what you’ve been up to in the community and what your company personality is like.
  3. Give your company a voice.
  4. Give you an opportunity to get to know your clients, and segment your audience for different content, based on how they respond to your newsletter.
  5. Nurture existing leads in a cost effective manner and generate new leads and new sales by allowing people to discover what you have to offer. For example, every now and then a person comes to us after seeing an article about banners and tells us “I didn’t know you printed banners!”

We are offering 25% off printed newsletters through August 2017, so if you are curious to see what a newsletter can do for you, get a quote! Email quote_request@api-marketing.com or call 530-885-9674


*According to Cone communications/Ebquity’s 2015 Global CSR Study

 

Photo credit: Foter.com

“But I’m not ready for you to see my website!”

Cat with smily face placed over his mouth
Just fix it already

“I don’t like my website, I’m going to redo it soon” [like a year from now].

Does this sound familiar? Or how about “I’m going to invest in social media when I am ready for large orders.” But you aren’t ready for large orders because of several reasons, including not having a proper website for clients to view and/or place orders.

It’s 2017 and 39% of small business owners don’t have a website, and many that do are unhappy with the way it performs or looks. While there are several reasons that a website can do a poor job at generating leads, there are a few reasons that are unashamedly staring us all in the face.

Continue reading “But I’m not ready for you to see my website!”