Xpressdocs Blog

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October 2013

The Very Best Deals and Discounts to Offer at the Holidays

According to recent predictions from two different companies that study consumer trends, the 2013 holiday shopping season is either going to be one of the worst in recent history for retailers, or just mildly slow. But play your cards right, and your business will be one of the ones that comes out on top when all is said and done.

The best way to combat lethargic consumer spending is with creative discounts and exciting special offers. Big discounts can cost big money – and often only produce short-term wins. But if you’re creative and strategic with your specials, the benefits will not only be rewarding but long-lasting. Included below are some of our very best ideas.

Offer a discount in return for more marketing access/customer information – This kind of offer not only helps to move product now, it fills your marketing database with valuable customer contact information for later. Ideas include:

“Update your customer profile in the next five days, and we’ll give you an extra $5 in bonus rewards.”

“Get free return shipping when you register as a VIP customer.”

“Sign up for our email newsletter and save 10% on your next purchase.”

“Like us on Facebook and we’ll ship your next order for free.”

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Cover Letter + Brochure = A Very Powerful Direct Marketing Kit

A marketing brochure is your best bet when you want to highlight the features and benefits of your service or product, but a cover letter is more effective when it comes to convincing potential customers that your product/service is something they need.

Combine both of these marketing mediums in the same envelope, and you’ll have a direct mail marketing kit that not only educates your target market but also gently pushes them to take that next step.

Something for everyone

After opening a direct mail envelope, most recipients will grab for either the brochure or the cover letter. But this isn’t random. Some people prefer to dive into the details of a brochure first. Others want to know what’s in it for them before they spend more time perusing things, so they start with the cover letter. It’s personal. Include both in your marketing kit, and you’re sure to satisfy everyone’s preference.
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September 2013

Study Results: What Makes You Open and Read Direct Mail?

Every year since 2005 the researchers at Market Reach have been asking thousands of consumers the same question: “What makes you open and read direct mail?” The results from the latest edition of this ongoing study are fascinating in their own right, but combine those with the learnings we’ve added, and you’ve got a virtual […]

Back to Basics: The 10 Commandments of Good Marketing

It’s easy to get lost in the details when you’re putting together a new marketing effort – which is why we recommend you stop what you’re doing and take a moment to review the ten commandments of good marketing included below:

Thou shall always use the right marketing medium
No single medium can be successful for all […]

August 2013

Never Advertised Online Before? Here’s How to Place an Ad with Google

Buying an ad in the local newspaper has been standard practice for most small- and mid-sized businesses for decades. The problem with that marketing strategy today: Traditional newspaper readership has been in dramatic decline for years (in 2002, just 41 percent of Americans said they read the daily print newspaper; today, that number has dropped to 23 percent).

Meanwhile, the number of people getting their news (and just about everything else) from the Internet is on a rapid rise. Today, the average American spends 32 hours a month doing something online; and a whopping 76 percent of the public reads the news on the Web.

So if your customers and potential customers have all flocked to the Web, maybe it’s time you started advertising there, too. As they say, “it doesn’t take a genius” to figure these things out.

Most businesses that advertise online use Google AdWords. Those are the text-only ads that appear in the margins of your computer screen whenever you do a Google search for something. They also appear in the margins of millions of websites.

Unlike with newspaper advertising, there’s no cost to post a Google AdWords ad, however, each time someone clicks on it, the advertiser – that’s you – pays a pre-determined rate (usually between 35 and 45 cents per click).

Yes, it’s more convoluted and confusing than buying a newspaper ad. But the cost for giving it a try is very small (Google even offers free-trials from time to time). Here’s how to get started:
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These Postcards Get the Best Customer Response

If you’re an Xpressdocs client, you know that marketing postcards are one of the most efficient and effective ways to promote your business. According to the latest Direct Marketing Association study, direct mail generates an average of $7 in sales for every $1 spent on the marketing medium.

But, of course, not every marketing postcard can be a hit. What separates the winners from the losers? Postcards with the following attributes almost always get the best customer response:

Attention-grabbing introduction – People are busy (just like you). So if you don’t grab their attention in the headline or first sentence, your chances of success will drop dramatically. Suggestions: state a question, present a compelling fact, or lead off with a special offer.

Clear benefits – Instead of simply stating a feature of your product/service (“experienced work crews”), tell the reader how that feature will personally benefit them (“experienced craftsmen who aren’t satisfied with the job until you’re satisfied with the job”).
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4 Ways to Improve Your Online Marketing with Google Analytics

As a small business owner it can be difficult to understand the results from your online marketing initiatives without paying a lot of money for expensive software. How do you know if your website and online marketing campaigns are effective? Fortunately, Google Analytics is a powerful analytics tool that helps you to monitor traffic patterns and the effectiveness of your website and it is totally free. Here are some of the features that could benefit your small business.

How visitors are viewing your website

Understanding what technologies are being used to view your website can tell you a lot about your visitors and helps for optimizing your web design. For instance, if a good majority of your visitors use a Chrome browser over Internet Explorer, you could infer that they are tech-savvy and you would want to test your web design thoroughly in that browser. In addition, you can also see which devices are being used to view your website. With mobile devices continuously growing in popularity, you might want to consider building a mobile-friendly version of your website.
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July 2013

Four Secrets to Writing a Successful Press Release

Four Secrets to Writing a Successful Press Release

Regional newspapers, community publications, arts & entertainment weeklies, and online news sites are all excellent avenues for promoting your small- or mid-sized business in print. And, most news stories are the result of good, old-fashioned press releases (sent out by the subject of the story).

So how do you get harried reporters to pay attention to your press releases? Believe it or not, the top three success factors have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual document.

The #1 success factor: Knowing who to contact

No matter how good your press release, if it doesn’t end up in the hands of the right person, the chances of success are slim to none.

Your best bet is to simply note which reporters tend to cover which subjects in your area, then start sending your press releases and story ideas to those who write about businesses your size, your industry or the community you operate within.

If you can’t pinpoint the right reporter, find the most appropriate editor (usually listed by name and department on the news organization’s Web site). Editors are a bit harder to get excited, but if they like your release they’ll forward it to the right reporter.

Columnists are another good option. They generally write two or more columns a week and always need fresh ideas. They usually have more freedom than reporters to pick their subjects, and they’re often attracted to minor stories with offbeat or unusual angles.
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6 Ways to Build Targeted Marketing Campaigns

Many small- and mid-sized businesses are loath to launch a segmented marketing campaign. They’re so used to generic campaigns that the idea of launching a marketing effort that only appeals to a sub-group can be downright frightening.

The key: Remember that marketing to sub-groups is almost always much more lucrative than any generic campaign. Sub groups with a real affinity for your product or service will buy more, buy more often, and spread the good word about your business.

Generic advertising is everywhere, and people have learned to simply tune it out. If you want to open their eyes to what you have to sell, you’ve got to present it in way that resonates with them on a personal level. That’s what segment marketing is all about.
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June 2013

Five Direct Mail Marketing Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

Direct mail can produce results, but in order to get those results you have to execute it correctly. Here are five common direct mail marketing mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

Launching a mishmash of marketing efforts without an overall plan. In order for your direct mail marketing program to be a success, you’ve got to embrace every stage of the customer lifecycle:

Lead-generation phase – Everyone understands this stage. This is when you try to attract the attention of potential customers.
Nurture phase – Once you’ve developed some leads, your next challenge is encouraging those prospects to take the next step. This is the time to feature customer testimonials, make special offers, compare your products/services to those of competitors, and send out regular announcements regarding any awards, improvements or new offerings.
Purchase phase – Once money changes hands (or contracts are signed), the purchase phase is in play. Your goal at this stage is to maintain the customer’s trust and confidence so they’ll happily segue into the “loyalty” phase. At the very least, send a welcome card that congratulates the person on their purchase and reiterates some of the benefits and advantages of your product or service.
Loyalty phase – Instead of letting customers fall through the cracks after they’ve made a purchase, offer them special discounts on follow-up services, upgrades and new purchases; ask for feedback (surveys are great); and request their help with referrals.

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