Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Integrated Marketing Defined - think broad media mix

Integrated Marketing Communication is the cohesive execution of all your online and offline media efforts. Audiences today are increasingly fragmented, and multiple media are needed to reach them. A marketing platform should include print, direct mail, interactive, web advertising, and social media providing a constant flow of the message from sender to receiver.

Capturing data and information from your integrated marketing strategy is critical to developing leads. More and more customers have the expectation that they can anonymously get information online. It's just one more reason companies should be thinking about a broad media mix. Companies need multiple means to identify and collect sales lead data.

Integrated campaigns typically center around a strong web presence — usually a website or a blog, sometimes a microsite — but should also include print, direct mail, email, television, radio and social media to support and publicize that web presence.

Direct Mail and Print is the "welcomed intruder" and is still considered to be the most effective tool in lead generation. Coupled with the current CASS and NCOA requirements, your mailing list is pretty much guaranteed to be up to date. And the post office will forward mail if an address update is identified after the piece reaches the post office.

Email is a great follow-up tool, although there are still some major delivery issues when using it to acquire leads and prospects (scoring in at 10% below direct mail as reported by an Target Marketing study in January 2008 of 340 direct marketers) . Email is considered effective and efficient in communicating with existing customers for retention purposes.

Developing microsites is a great way for your direct mail campaign to assist with your email campaign and help you keep your email list clean and track the results of both online and offline campaigns.

Ultimately this is the "age of accountability" for the marketing profession. Breaking down the silos between online and offline media campaigns is the solution. Now is the time to crack the code for measuring integrated, cross platform media efforts.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Online and Offline Media = Complete Communications Strategy

The convergence of offline and online media, is the best communication strategy. It recognizes that markets and audiences are
increasingly fragmented and multiple media are essential in communicating to this environment.

Electronic/Digital Media is certainly effective when correctly used, but it comes with limitations - notably it's trendy, untested, ineffective, can result in spam listings, image blocking, phishing, deliverability issues, etc. Additionally, Print Media is certainly effective when correctly used, but it too comes with limitations - it's physical, can get lost, misplaced and there is no data backup, time lag in creation, etc.

However, when used in conjunction or in collaboration, a mix of online and offline media is very effective. The strengths of one solution balance the weaknesses of the other. The Post Office delivers more than 99% of it's mail. On top of that, it forwards mail to new physical addresses. Mailing certification solutions such as CASS and NCOA help you manage your databases. This ensures your message will be delivered to your audience. Using this print media to then stimulate web activity and interactivity can help you communicate with your fragmented audiences, enhance your web presence and keep email address databases clean and vital.

Understanding the various options in the world of business communications and how it's changing can help you in strategizing the right mix of media for your marketing plan.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Improve Your Sustainability Efforts

The United Kingdom's Two Sides initiative has jumped the pond and is making waves right here on the shores of the grand ol' USA.

Even in today’s digital age with the availability of alternative media, paper’s unique practical and aesthetic qualities simply can’t be achieved by using electronic alternatives. That’s not to say that one is less suitable than the other. Both paper-based & electronic communication have a role to play and can compliment each other.

In recent years, however, paper has been the target of negative and often misinformed environmental criticism. Listening to some people, its benefits are outweighed by the mass of misleading environmental disadvantages; shrinking forests, excessive energy consumption, and overflowing landfill sites. So as far as the environment is concerned, paper appears bad.

This site is actually quite interesting and it dispels the myths surrounding paper in a very quick and informative read.

Everyone is familiar with the "Marketing Mix." The right mix for your communication strategy is just that, a mix. Rarely are we advised to throw our proverbial eggs in one basket, and marketing is no exception. A strategic and collaborative mix of communication and messaging is best to truly serve our varied audiences. And paper can serve a portion of your audience.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great, Contemplative Review of the new Kindle DX

Amazon Kindle DX: The Solution to a problem that doesn't exist

Some Excerpts from the Full Article:
Simply, the Kindle DX is far from being an optimal format for a magazine. Not only does the Kindle DX’s monochrome screen sap all the life away from the art department of every publication, but it also removes the “two-page” magazine feel: A picture or design element that spans two pages, which is presented more often than you think in glossies. By only viewing a magazine one page at a time, you’re reading a stunted publication — even if the PDF support makes it easy to get a magazine on the device in the first place.

But it simply isn’t quite there as a substitute for the real thing. Is anyone complaining about how hard it is to get the news? Or how heavy a newspaper is? Is anyone complaining about anything but the price of textbooks?

But it in no way makes me any more likely to ditch my habitual reading of each morning, or my subscription to GQ, or the occasional newsstand purchase I may make. And as a student, I simply couldn’t see fronting that kind of cash for a device whose features significantly overlap with a required laptop, which allows me to read my course readings and news and write a paper about it.

It’s hard not to like the Kindle, mainly because it aims to revolutionize a task anyone reading this article is fond of: reading. But until Amazon reproduces that experience in a more complete fashion and makes reading as inexpensive a habit as it currently is, it will remain out of reach for most consumers and out of touch with most publishers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Amazon Kindle - dependent on the printed word?

Printing is ubiquitous even in the era of Web 2.0 and digital everything.

As new technologies are developed to replace print, they constantly seek to replicate print. For example this description of the Kindle:
A Paper-like Screen
Utilizing a new high-resolution display technology called electronic paper, Kindle provides a crisp black-and-white screen that resembles the appearance and readability of printed paper. The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. It reflects light like ordinary paper and uses no backlighting, eliminating the glare associated with other electronic displays.

This line is particularly interesting: The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. Does this mean, in order for the Kindle to work, the item you are selecting to read on your Kindle must first exist as a printed word?

I met a Printing/Paper/Marketing veteran at a conference this past March. As we discussed the role of print in the future he suggested "Print will become like a fine wine or cigar, only the most special things, the stuff you want to revere and hold onto will be printed." I think I agree. In the era of "anyone can publish anything online" when you receive something printed it instantly feels more special, and you have more trust in it's content. Digital technologies strive to replicate print, but print delivers.

At AGC, we continuously monitor new technologies and emerging trends. As we evaluate these new 'options', we seek to understand how they relate to you and your business and how they relate to AGC. We then adapt our services and products accordingly to best serve the needs of our clients and the demands of your marketing strategy or agenda.

The Debate Continues: Offset vs. Digital

In the latest issue of American Printer, a trade publication for the commercial printing industry, Steve Johnson pen's an article "The Holy Grail of Digital Printing" where he presents the difference between Digital Printing and Traditional Offset Printing:

Color Consistency
1.) Whereas consistency is king in Traditional Offset Printing, every Digital Press has it's own, very different, color gamut. Color consistency in Digital Printing depends more on the characteristics of the image being produced and the machine it's being produced on.

Production Efficiency
2.) Traditional Offset Press productivity is some 20 times greater than digital printing, with much lower consumable costs. Digital press operations are plagued with downtime and calls to the copier repair technician.

In my opinion, the answer is simple, Productivity and Reliability will always win - your campaign will look like a campaign and your project will actually be delivered on time. Offset remains King!

Enhancing Your Email Marketing

Email Marketing is Becoming More Customer oriented
These days marketers demand far more intricate measurements of customer engagement and interactivity. The e-mail department's key performance indicator used to be how many eyeballs a weekly blast reached. Now the focus is on the percentage of the marketer's online base that the program manages to convert.

Analytics of the past centered on deliverability, file size and permissions, with the primary goal to deliver as much content to as many people as quickly as possible. Today life-cycle-oriented triggers such as click recency, Web-site activity and time-to-engage metrics are the standard.Read More

Intelligent Mail Bar-Coding

Intelligent Mail Barcode
Beginning in May, the U.S. Postal Service will start to accept mail pieces bearing the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB), the much-talked-about system that's expected to make it easier for both mailers and the US Postal Service to track and document mailings. Read More

Twitter Just a Blip?

Twitter Just a Blip So Far:
Findings of the Online The Harris Poll, conducted between March 31 and April1, 2009, show that 51% of Americans do not use Twitter or have a MySapce or Facebook account. Read More