How to Make Direct Mail an Effective Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Since the rise of email, direct mail is often overlooked as a marketing strategy. But what you may not realize is that direct mail, if done correctly, is a very effective, measurable and targeted means of promotion. As we are all bombarded by so many emails daily, direct mail can really stand out if the following steps are taken.

  • Pick a format best suited for your audience and your message. Postcards are an effective medium for most products because they eliminate the barrier of the envelope between the recipient and the message. However, some direct mail is more appropriate when crafted as a letter, for example when a more personal approach is needed.
  • Be creative. Make it possible for your audience to complete a story in their minds of how your product or service solves a problem that they have. Use graphics and messaging to engage your audience, thereby lengthening the time that the piece is looked at, and improving the odds they’ll take in the information from the piece to heart.
  • Use the right list. It is impossible to understate the importance of using the right list. If you have the best format and offer, but send it to the wrong list you will have nothing. Even if you are sure you have sent it to the right list, if that list has not been qualified, your campaign will flop.
  • Include an offer. The offer is a critical element to a successful direct mail effort. An effective direct mail offer drives traffic to your website or physical location for further qualification and/or selling. Including time bound, bonus, money saving or problem-solving aspects in your offer will instill a sense of urgency.
  • Personalize the campaign. Defining narrow segments and personalizing offers for each one will yield the best results. You don’t need to rewrite your mailer for every campaign – small tweaks will help you stick out.
  • Track the response. Coding mailers can make it easy to track response rates. You can do this by adding exclusive codes to your mailers such as a unique campaign URL, email address, or phone number, and invite respondents to use their unique code.
  • Test. Like other marketing efforts, don’t forget to test the performance of your direct mail offerings. Use the data to refine the campaign. Don’t worry about sending multiple flights to the same prospect. Continue until you convert the prospect to a customer.

Direct mail is an extremely effective channel that when used properly can yield excellent results and provide a high return on investment. Your local printer is ready to help you set up an effective and affordable direct mail campaign.

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Let Me Introduce You To Our “Big Boy”

An important aspect of a successful printing business is the equipment. At Minuteman Press of Newark we pride ourselves on having the most up-to-date equipment possible.

C1060-70We recently installed a new, state-of-the-art Konica Minolta C1060 with lots of bells and whistles that will print beautiful, amazing quality documents, performing multiple operations in one pass. With older equipment you would print booklets, for example, on flat sheets, then fold them, then saddle stitch them, then trim them …. very time consuming.   This new machine allows us to do multiple functions together on one machine.

Purchasing this “Big Boy” wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. It took careful assessment of my business to be sure that we had the volume of work to support it and the financial means to acquire it. I set out specific goals that the new equipment needed to fulfill and evaluated my choices based on those goals. Among those goals was to find a machine that would deliver the quality that my customers expect as efficiently as possible.

So when my customers send in jobs at the last minute, I know we can deliver. The “Big Boy” allows us to handle more at higher standards. We can meet large orders with ease. Because of improved efficiencies we continue to deliver exceptional quality with quicker turnaround. You can probably tell that I’m super excited about our newest addition. Watch this video and you’ll see why.

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Challenges All Small Businesses Face and How To Overcome Them

I went into business for myself over 10 years ago. At some time or other I’ve taken on the role of bookkeeper, salesperson, marketer, production manager, HR manager and many others. Necessity and experience have improved my skills in many areas. Some challenges have never gone away, but there are ways to address them.

Financial Management

This is at the top of many people’s list. Staying on top of money coming in and money going out ensures that there is always enough cash to go around. If you don’t understand cash flow, seek a professional that can work to set up forecasted expenses and revenues for you. Also, getting a line of credit from your local bank is very helpful; it’s gotten me out of several cash flow jams quickly and easily.

Hiring

You can’t do everything yourself and you certainly can’t grow without adding staff. Finding and retaining the right team members takes time. Do thorough background checks and understand local labor laws. It’s worth the work up front to find the person that will be an asset to your company.

Client Growth

Everybody needs a constant flow of new customers to sustain revenue flow. If you own your own business, your job is sales and marketing whether you know it or not. Try different ways to bring in new business, such as networking, forging relationships with referral sources, and direct sales, and see what works best. Devote a certain amount of time every week to keep your pipeline full. Be sure not to rely on 1 or 2 clients that make up more than 50% of your business. This work could dry up at any time. You want a diversified client base to pick up the slack when you lose any single client.

Marketing

Getting the word out about your business is crucial to its success. While you are the expert on what you do and its value to your customers, you may not have the time or ability to know the best way to communicate your story. Set out a plan that identifies who you are going to promote your business to, what the message will be, and how it will be communicated. Use tools that help automate the process.

Time

There are only so many hours in the day and days in the week. Working long hours for years will make you feel like you are a slave to your business. You want to get to a place where you are not working 7 days a week and you can take vacations. Do the things that only you can do and delegate the rest to internal staff or to an outside entity. Stay focused on working on your business and not in your business.

 

When you own your own business, there’s no avoiding challenges. The important thing is to recognize them and address them.

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Leverage Technology To Grow Your Business

As 2017 begins, it’s a good time to re-evaluate technology practices to ensure a more productive and successful year.

Have a great online presence. Start with logical navigation and compelling content on your website. Include a blog to engage with visitors. Fresh blog content will boost your website rankings in search engines. Compliment your website presence with an email newsletter that lands you in your customers’ inbox on a regular basis. Engage with customers through social media and stay top of mind.

Invest in a CRM. Many people use Microsoft Outlook or other email programs to manage contacts as well as manage emails, tasks, calendar, etc. But to properly manage your relationship with customers, you need more than the notes section of your email program. Use a true CRM product or service to really know everything you can about each customer and track every interaction with them.

Use technology to manage ongoing tasks. Bookkeeping is an example of something every business must do but can detract from running the business. Finance software allows you to easily keep finances up-to-date and reveal important information like how much you are spending on various business expenses, and profitability. Order processing and inventory management software are other examples.

Upgrade hardware and software. Using outdated technology can not only cost you in productivity, repeat customers and revenue, but it also can cause reputational damage. Upgrading to newer, more flexible technology such as tablets can will speed up processes, facilitate sales, and enhance customer perception and experience. When your technology slows you down instead of helping you work faster, it’s time to upgrade.

Outsource the tech part of technology. You should be an expert in what you sell but there is no need for you to understand servers, network security, data backup or cloud technology. Outsource IT support to the geeks and concentrate on managing and growing your company instead.

Think of technology as an investment. Technology will help you work more efficiently, understand your customers better, get in front of customers more easily, and increase sales. Don’t think of it as an expense, but as an investment in the future of the company.

Technology is a powerful tool that allows you to work more efficiently, improve customer relationships and increase sales. Leverage it so you can focus on growing your business.

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“I Realized I Had To Make A Change”

njbizby Brett Johnson
originally published October 10, 2016, NJ Biz
For Kaplansky, starting her own business was about changing her life.

It wasn’t a snap decision made after a spark of inspiration on a peculiar night.

It was a morning stark in its normalcy that stirred Holly Kaplansky to decide to launch her own small business, quitting her cozy yet dull corporate job.

“At one point, I really had what I call Velcro bed, and I just couldn’t get up in the morning and get going,” she said.

“That’s when I realized I had to make a change because I clearly wasn’t happy.”

“I had a comfortable job that had grown to be something I hated. And it very slowly went from being a hard decision to a very easy one.”

Kaplansky, owner of Newark’s Minuteman Press, launched her printing business in 2005 after a 30-year stay in corporate America, a career during which she held prominent positions such as brand manager for Kraft Foods and global marketing director for Ovid Technologies.

“But I left the corporate world as many people did – and people continue to leave all the time – because that world gets harder and harder to work in with downsizing, harder work, longer hours,” she said. “I thought, if I’m going to have to put everything into a business, I might as well do it myself.”

There was a small problem Kaplansky had – she didn’t even know what line of business she was going to enter.

After doing some research, she settled on the printing industry which would allow her to apply her marketing background. She worked with a larger franchiser to establish a location in Newark, but she’s quick to dispel the notion that this arrangement has made it any easier.

“You really have to run your own shop; they’re not doing it,” she said. “You’re doing the marketing and running all aspects of the business. They give you some of the basic tools and systems, but you have to run it yourself.”

The transition from the corporate world to running her own business has come with a learning curve; she noted profit and loss analysis and finding an appropriate market
segment as key challenges.

But she has also been able to bring some prior knowledge to her new enterprise.

“It’s helped that I’ve been on the other side of the desk, seeking services of printing companies, so I really understand not only what the customer wants but how they want
the product presented,” she said. “You can have the best product in the world, but if it’s not presented properly or in a way someone can hear it, it’s not going to really help you.”

“It has been a lot of fun to have these interactions on a one-on-one basis with customers instead of with thousands or even millions of clients as part of a large corporation.”

One thing she’s glad hasn’t been carried over to her growing printing business is the discontent that made even getting up in the morning difficult.

That doesn’t mean the work itself is less difficult.

“Small business is very hard,” she said. “There is no finance department, HR department, or facilities management, purchasing, PR – I’m all of those things. But the work is so
fulfilling. I leave work every day proud of what I do.”

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Yes, You Can Print That Email

print_vs_digital

We all get emails from our bank and credit card companies that encourage us to help the environment by going paperless. As business owners we make choices based on what is more environmentally sound. It has been the general understanding that digital media is the environmentally preferable choice and an important step in creating a more ecologically aware and sustainable world. However, it is more accurate to say that digital media consumption shifts negative environmental effects to new places, rather than reducing them. If your goal is to save trees or do something good for the environment, the choice to go paperless is not as green as you might think.

  • Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world with a nearly 70% recovery rate, beating out plastics, glass and metals.
  • Efforts of the printing and paper industry have been at the forefront of minimizing environmental impact helping prevent deforestation and keeping forests from being sold for development. Nearly half of the 4 million trees planted every day in the US are planted by the paper products industry.
  • Paper in the US is made from over 60% biofuels (renewable fuels from a biological source). Paper mills use whatever is left over to generate bioenergy on sites, reducing the carbon footprint of paper and minimizing coal dependency.
  • Digital server farms have become the fastest growing users of fossil fuels in the world relying on significant amounts of energy from coal fired power plants.
  • The energy, water and raw materials needed to make a single e-reader is equal to that of 40 to 50 books. And, the emissions created by a single e-reader are equal to that of roughly 100 books.

If you think you are saving forests and protecting the environment by going paperless…think again. The real dilemma you face is that you may be doing more harm to the environment by going paperless than you think, and making responsible choices requires informed decisions and rational trade-offs. Most important, remember to recycle!

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Top Do’s and Don’t’s of Moving Your Business

office_moveI recently relocated my business and I hope I never have to do it again. But sometimes, as in my case, it was necessary. Moving a business operation seems like a daunting task. There are a multitude of components that must be considered and a host of plans that must be made. Moving is a process and a learning experience. To insure a smooth move and transition, consider these do’s and don’t’s.

Do’s

  1. Evaluate what needs to be moved to the new location and create a list of inventory. This provides an accurate depiction of what needs to be accommodated in the move and how much you have. It will serve as a starting point for following plans.
  2. Make to-do lists. This insures that nothing is forgotten and provides a good indication of where you stand in the overall process at any given time. Dividing the list into monthly and weekly increments will prevent feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Hire professional movers. Although costly, this saves a lot of trouble in the long haul. There are potential dangers that are avoided, decreasing your liability, and will relieve the pressure on your employees. Look specialty movers for equipment to insure it is moved and installed correctly.
  4. Consider the timing. When scheduling a move you should avoid rush hour and, if possible, a time of year with unpredictable weather. Most importantly, schedule the move for a slow period or around deadlines. Your goal is to have no loss of business due to the move. Also, scheduling the move with a cushion around the move out deadline is important. Things could go wrong and delays could happen.
  5. Be sure to stay connected. Be sure that your phones and internet work before you move. You want to be sure you can conduct business to as soon as your new office is set up.
  6. Set up the departments that are critical to daily operations first. In doing so, it will cut back on the time away from conducting business and get you back to work sooner.

Don’t’s

  1. Pick just any moving company. Researching moving companies is important because their performance will ultimately determine the success of your move. Look for companies that specialize in your type of business or equipment.
  2. Forget to insure your valuables. When moving, there is no room to risk damage or loss of expensive equipment and/or materials.
  3. Fail to give ample notice to your employees. Employees should be aware so there is nothing to question and they are allowed time to prepare.
  4. Inform your customers and suppliers about the move at the last minute. Think about the appropriate timing and notify them proactively. Furthermore, you should take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to customers that you have fallen out of touch with.
  5. Wait to update your online sources. As soon after the move as possible, everything should be updated with the company’s new information. With all the various online channels that your business is connected to this is crucial.

Being prepared makes the transition seamless. Come by our new location at 20 Clinton Street in Newark and see how well it worked for my business.

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