Catalogs


Publication Strategy | Catalogs and Booklets

Printed catalog marketing is still one of the most used means of offering products. Retail giant IKEA recently announced the re-design of their 200 million circulation catalog. The global retailer intends to bring technology to their paper catalog so they can tell their story in new ways and drive a seamless connection to purchase.

Creating catalogs is a big undertaking when considering the coordination and number of elements involved. Multiple pages of copy and images require thoughtful planning and coordination in order to produce a printed pub that will be read, retained and acted on by recipients. Prior to exploring content, size, page and cover designs, strategic planning is necessary and often overlooked. Audience, function, habits and distribution are some of the key areas to hone in on.

Audience
Assessing customer needs, level of education, and expectations are important to help determine content, product lines, pricing, design theme, and more. A better educated audience may view your sales piece differently than a less knowledgable reader.

Function
Knowing all the various ways your intended recipients handle, review, share, and store your publication will provide helpful insights about ways to make their experience advantageous. An 8.5×11 page size is a readily available standardized U.S. format but it may not be the best solution for your customers.

Distribution
Understanding market segments and distribution channels upfront will help add those subtle yet valuable features that often impact the overall effort. Discovering that a self cover 45 lb. text catalog is not heavy enough to resist the rigorous process of delivery networks or recipients handling habits could end up as an expensive lesson.

Catalogs require a systematic process leading up to press and launch. Highly successful publications, like IKEA’s, involve much more strategic research and effort, but can be scaled for your needs. After all, large companies were once small enterprises with big ideas.

All our catalog printing is on special this week AND we will honor discounts on all orders placed this week by allowing art file upload at a later date. Remember, all of our products can be trimmed to custom sizes. If you require printing specifications outside the parameters on the website, contact us for free estimates and advice about planning your next publication.

Postcards

Postcards: Not just for mail

The economy of printed postcards makes them also suitable for non-mail purposes as we mentioned in a previous blog article, Increasing retention of postcards where we featured an oversize business card application on a 4×6 postcard.

Smaller postcard sizes, such as our current special, can be easily tucked into pockets and compartments. Their durable 14pt stock increases longevity.

Here are a few non-postcard ideas which may stimulate your own creative processes and provide you or your clients with cost-effective printed communication.

Menus

Dainty menus are a beautiful way to feature drinks, appetizers and specials. Limited menus can be formatted nicely on any postcard size and the economy of printing them makes for a high quality yet inexpensive take-a-way. Catered events are a great application for postcards size menus too. Beyond food, mini service menus for Salon’s, Auto Detailing, and many other service related businesses are an effective way to professionally present information.

Product Cards

Packaged products often require information and provide an opportunity to feature other products to customers. Postcards are an economical solution with varied sizes to fit nearly any packaging system. Product tips and shortcuts cards for items which require infrequent setup, such as camp tents, are useful as reminders. Desktop cards with keyboard shortcuts are always handy too.

Mini Posters

Feature events or other information to be posted or as take-ones in high traffic areas. Bulletin boards are often filled in desired locations but your “mini poster” will likely find a spot. Our 6×11 postcard size provides sufficient area to feature expanded information. Create a minimalist design on 4×6 or 5×7 for a compact miniature attention getter. Print both sides of the card for the take-a-way factor.

Note Cards

How many times have you seen an image and thought “wow, that would make a great postcard”? Print that image on one side of a note card and format the other side for writing personal or imprinting messages. A series of images can be created and printed economically on any postcard size. We can even trim your cards to a custom size such as square or narrow, at no extra charge, to make them unique. Envelopes are available in various sizes to contain your messages. Remember to order uncoated or satin finished cards for written or desktop imprint use.

Collectors Cards

Commemorate events or milestones with little takeaway cards featuring aspects of accomplishments. Compile notable historical events into a series for collectors. Circulate them among clients and associates or distribute them in campaign strategy. A custom size and spot UV add value to your printed collectable for a nominal price increase.

Greeting Cards

Send out greetings to clients and prospects for all occasions. A printed celebratory card carries more meaning when received given the frequency of internet saturated messaging. Holiday, festive, or just fun images are available thru royalty free stock art services at reasonable use fees. Create or commission your own custom images for your greetings. Printed envelopes with a matching image theme enhance the spirit of the message for your recipients experience.

With all the possible uses, our October Monthly Special 4×6 and 4.25×6 cards present affordable opportunities. High quality offset color printing complete with aqueous coating or UV varnish over 14 Pt. stock offers an economic advantage in October to enhance your printed communications. For larger size cards check out our wide variety of competitively priced Postcards.

Contact or Email us (info@viprintshop.com) today to discuss innovative ways to use postcards in your printed communications.

QR Codes

Print Matters

By Ken McCormick

Quick response “QR” codes: The missing link

QR codes are matrix barcodes that were originally designed and used by the automotive industry for tracking parts. Nowadays, these ubiquitous codes enable smart phone users who, by scanning a QR code with their phone’s camera, to receive text, add vCard contacts, instantly jump to internet resources, or even compose emails and text messages among other functions. Most smart phones with cameras — android, iphone, nokia, blackberry — can download free QR-code reader apps from their regular app sources.

According to a recent U.S. Study, during the month of June 2011, 14 million mobile users scanned a QR code or barcode. 53% of users were men ages 18 to 34; some 58% scanned codes from their home; 39% in retail stores.

Today’s mobile-connected consumer provides limitless opportunities, from billboards to business cards, for savvy businesses to engage and inform.

Caution: Web pages formatted for mobile viewers will impress far better than those configured for bigger computer monitors. Keep this in mind, before you purchase 5,000 QR-coded stickers, directing consumers to an online manual at your website. Small text or copy that wraps outside the frame of their smart-phone screen might dampen enthusiasm for your products. Proper formatting yields an efficient experience, worth tweeting or sharing on Facebook.

Size matters

Since QR scanning is a function of your phone’s camera; size, data complexity, and scanning distance must be considered. Catalogs, postcards, and business cards are easily scanned from inches away, while yard signs and billboards are captured at further distances. Short urls produce larger dot patterns, easily scannable whereas vCard info creates smaller higher density data points.

All in all, the QR code is the no-longer-missing link between your printed materials and online presence. Turn your print materials into online-ready worker bees.

Ready to get your feet wet? The easiest place to begin is with our business card special. Save your mobile customers time by adding a QR code containing your contact info on the back of your business card.

Email or call us today for a free consultation and assistance with designing QR codes for all your printed media.

Will Electronic Media Render Printed Matter Obsolete?

Gutenberg Press

Gutenberg’s discovery of movable type in the year 1436 revolutionized communication throughout Europe and eventually the world. Indeed much has changed in print craft since ancient clay and woodcut type but the natural attributes for human communication in general will always remain.

Heads out of the Cloud — If one considers the number of applications used to communicate in print, it’s clear that print is here to stay. From Wedding Invitations to Wine Labels to Soap Boxes, the thousands of different printed components required for daily communication simply cannot be substituted with back-lit displays or electronic ink.

Touch it, feel it — The physical properties of printed materials are more compatible with everyday human experiences. The feel of Letterpress characters de-bossed in soft cotton paper cannot be replicated on the glass surface of a computer screen. Lenticular printed prizes in Cracker Jack boxes showing flip and animated effects will never serve the same function in digital form.

With all the creations and inventions to come in print, it is safe to conclude that the World Wide Web, E-mail, Blogs and Social Media feeds offer a new opportunity to engage customers and prospects. When suited to certain marketing goals, they can deliver valuable, albeit fleeting, experiences. However, by coupling with printed communications, they add longevity without logins.

The next time you think about discontinuing the print issue of the newsletter, catalog, etc. consider this: Of all the media vehicles, only print can deliver in physical form. The craft of Lithography, Letterpress, Gravure and other printing processes communicate outside the Cloud and add the means to arrest the attention of finger tips, eyes and noses that their RGB partner cannot.

Print That Works: Coupons Deliver

While the recession has forced lower spending, use of coupons has gone up. According to NCH Marketing Services, Inc., Mid-Year 2009 Coupon Facts Report,[1] coupon redemption is up a whopping 33% from one year ago. Where’s the surprise, right?

In an article by Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert,[2] a online Quick Poll at his site asked what it would take to get people to buy “better for you” foods they had foregone, due to economic pressures. Lempert reported consumer-preference rankings this way: “… promotional discounts (90%), coupons (83%), larger bulk packages (22%), single-serve packages (18%) and more in-store education that teaches the benefits/values of these foods (16%).

In other words, coupons nearly tied with the top preferred incentive, promotional discounts, both of which were favored by more than three-and-a-half times over the nearest alternative. Continue reading

Who says? Testimonials, Case Studies, and Reviews

Of course customers want to know what previous buyers have to say about your products. But they also know that sugary marketing proclamations are light on objectivity.” — Lisa LaMotta, Forbes [1]

We know that customer referrals are the best advertising a business can get. Customer testimonials have similarly functioned as a type of public referral. But are testimonials a reliable gauge of customer satisfaction?

Where to start for good testimony

Good testimonials are elicited, not created by marketing people. Initiate dialog, then listen to your customers. Don’t just survey them. Set the stage so that gaining honest comments comes easily in conversation. Guide rather than provide the conversation.

Ask why and how instead of questions that yield yes or no answers. “Your product cut my cleaning bill in half” speaks louder than “Love your product.

Online marketing expert Jeanne Jennings advises, “Determine the key benefits or selling points to focus on. What are your product’s unique selling points? Which types of companies are the best candidates for your service?” Jennings adds, “For each key benefit or selling point, identify one to three companies as role models. Rather than thinking about who might be willing to give you a testimonial, focus on which clients can provide the testimonials that best match your marketing message.“[2]

Value their time.

It’s important to understand that your customers have already exchanged their valued resources for your products or services. Imposing further on their time or energy could just as easily nullify their good will.

The consensus favors phone appointments of limited duration — say, not more than 15 minutes — at a time set by the customer. In B2B situations, “drop in” phone calls from marketing people are often treated with the same enthusiasm as the unexpected arrival of in-laws.

Case studies: the “before and after” pictures

Two benefits emerge from case studies which shore up glowing customer comments with useful credible evidence:

  1. Case studies resonate with similar segments of your market. Let’s say your product saved a school district considerable money. This positions you solidly within equivalent school systems.
  2. It illustrates your product’s suitability through real world comparisons.

Case studies walk those who judge your product through the scene, clearly proving your story is on the level. Otherwise, unfounded claims may be too easily perceived as hot air.

Product reviews as testimony

Good product reviews — i.e., favorable opinions from credible sources — are another valid form of testimonial, and worthy of an entire article.

Social media marketing expert and author, Dave Evans, reminds us, “Like all other forms of social media, the product review is a response, not a talking point. It directly indicates the degree to which your marketing claims were validated, rather than making some abstract assertion about how well they resonated.“[3]

Today’s social media is a two-edge sword with the potential to amplify and accelerate both good and bad product impressions. Not something to take lightly.

So which is it?

Whenever possible, an appropriate case study gives the most bang for the buck by validating product claims. By the same measure, honest directed comments from satisfied customers rank nearly as high on the marketing ladder.

From customer, to advocate, to evangelist

More importantly, listening to your customers lets them know you recognize them as the essence of your success. Once they sense your sincerity, their comments will be more frequent and helpful. Keep listening and nurturing, and your customers will become your best marketing people.

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For a more thorough understanding on customer testimonials, case studies, and product reviews, the following articles provide valuable insights.

[1] Are Customer Testimonials Smart Marketing Tools? — Lisa LaMotta, Forbes 05.27.08

[2] Getting and Using Customer Testimonials, Parts 1 & 2 — Jeanne Jennings, Clickz

[3] Product Reviews as Social Media Marketing — By Dave Evans

Selling through Case Study – List of “How To” Blog Posts — by Raj Sreenivas

What’s so great about a down economy? Part 2 (updated: 8/6/09)

Still hanging on to your “good times” bad habits?

Old habits die hard, especially for those in service businesses. Those whose phones seemed to ring non-stop during the boom times, may not be ringing as much these days. As budgets tighten, making do with less service becomes the rule in many businesses.

Can your good reputation survive personnel cuts?

Referrals from satisfied customers or clients are the gold standard of advertising. But what happens when the manager who always called and sang your praises is downsized? Businesses making fewer calls for service also means less contact between you and company employees who survived the cuts. You could become a case of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Ivy Cohen, at Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, sums it up nicely:
“Consumers make purchasing decisions based on choices. The brand that they feel is most accessible and relevant when they are ready to buy is going to win their hard earned dollars. So, the less visible and accessible your brand, the more excuses you provide for the competition to win.”

Cohen speaks of “brand” but that covers all service businesses, whether a hotel, plumber, or graphic designer. Brand is everything known and perceived about you, your product/service, and your company. In the marketplace, that is you.

The key is to make yourself easily accessible on your customer’s or client’s terms. That doesn’t mean to pester them. On the contrary, it means providing whatever help you can — materials, counseling, contact information, etc. — in order to aid their decision-making process when they’re ready to buy.

Best of all, recessions give you incentive and opportunity to step up your efforts to come up with creative solutions that will help your customers win. Focus on their needs. You can’t help them without knowing what challenges they face. Stay in contact with them. Listen to them.

What’s the “so great” part of a down economy? Winning is the result of a comparison among those trying to reach the same goal. It’s easier to pass the competition when they’re heading the wrong direction.

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