Print Advertising: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In print advertising, artwork is the initial impression that consumers have of your business or product. It’s the first step in gaining the attention of the buyer you are trying to sell to. That visual typically is the difference between if the person decides to pay attention to the pieces of your advertising- the verbiage, the product or service itself, and the offer, or moves along to what captures their attention next.

Almost every day I have conversations with business owners and decision makers who ask about how their artwork should look. It’s an important question and comes up so often because many people just aren’t sure how to go about it. Most people (including me) know what they like when they see it but don’t know how to express that verbally or artistically. That’s ok though, and the reason why my company employs very talented and artistic designers. I trust them implicitly because they’ve proven their professionalism with our clients consistently through the years. And they’re not just artists, they know what works and what consumers like.

With that being said, I have learned from many years of experience the difference between good and bad artwork:

 

Good

– Simple clear message

– Holds interest

– Stong call to action

 

Bad

– Requires the reader to work hard

– Missing attention-getting elements

– Can’t tell what you are really trying to offer

 

Ugly

– Full of clutter

– Low-quality images

– Overuse of color and fonts

(Graphic Designers nightmare)

 

Avoid the temptation to include every product or service line you offer in your ad. Don’t make the prospect have to think about or evaluate everything and the kitchen sink you threw in there. They don’t want to think and they’ll ultimately move past your ad and forget all about you. Tell your prospect we are Acme Company, we make your life better, and do it for 40% off. That’s it.

If you’re worried about leaving out something you think might be important then include your website address. If the prospect wants or needs more information they will gladly take the time to visit your website and learn more about everything you do and why it’s important to them. Your website is your encyclopedia, your print advertisement is not.

 

Contributed by Jeff Vice

History of the Postcard

Postcard:

noun \ˈpōs(t)-ˌkärd\: a card on which a message may be sent by mail without an envelope and that often has a picture on one side

 

The United States Postal Service first began issuing pre-stamped postal cards in 1873.  They were introduced to the public as an easy way to send quick notes. Until May 19, 1898 the USPS was the only establishment allowed to print postcards. The monopoly ended when Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act which allowed private publishers and printers to produce and mail their own postcards.

 

 Private Mailing Cards Period, 1898 – 1901:

 

During the Private Mailing Card period, messages were not allowed on the back of the card. The only area where notes from the sender were permitted was a small space on the front of the card. The postcards required a 1 cent stamp.

postcard1 postcard2

Post Card Period, 1901-1907:

In December of 1901, the USPS issued Post Office Order Number 1447 which allowed the words “Post Card” to be on the card instead of the longer “Postal Mailing Card.”  Messages were still not allowed on the back of the post cards during this period.

postcard4 postcard3

 

 

Divided Back Period, 1907-1914:

A major change took place on March 1, 1907 with the way the backs of postcards looked. The left side of the back of the card was now allowed to have message written in that space. The right side of the card was for the address.

postcard5 postcard6

 

White Border Period, 1915-1930:

Up until this period German printers dominated the market in postcard printing. With the start of World War I, postcards were supplied mostly by printers in the United States. During this period, printers saved ink by not printing to the edge of the card leaving the white border around the image.

postcard7 postcard8

 

Linen Period, 1930-1944:

As time went on, new printing processes were developed. During this period, postcards could be printed with high rag content, which gave them a look of being printed on linen or cloth. Bright colors were also introduced during this period.

postcard9 postcard10

 

Modern Photochrome-style Period, 1939 - to date:

This style of postcards first appeared in 1939. The Union Oil Company carried them in their western service stations. Production of the postcards slowed during World War II because of supply shortages, but after the war, this type of postcards dominated the market. The photochrome postcards are in color and are the closest to real photographs and are the ones most familiar to us today.

postcard11 postcard12

At RSVP we love the postcard (obviously!). It's not just a nostalgic piece of every family vacation we ever took - it's a modern, upscale advertising tool that has proven itself to be as diverse as the pictures on the front. Long live the postcard!

Contributed by Marcella Gillespie.

Marcella

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick thank you to our sources for this awesome information:

http://siarchives.si.edu/history/exhibits/postcard/postcard-history

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postcard

 

By Golly George! Who Built That Fence For You?!

 

My favorite clients all say, "We grow mainly by word-of-mouth."

Excellent!  That must mean you do your job well. You deliver on promises made. And best of all, your customers like you!  A word of warning however -- word of mouth is not what it once was.  Gone are the neighborly over-the-fence chats of the 1950’s.  Families don't set roots in small hometowns for generations like they once did. College, career changes and snowbird retirements are spreading families out across the nation.  Clientele age and naturally drop out of your prospect pool.

Don't count on referrals as the only source for qualified leads or risk losing the lifeblood of your business.

Good news!  You can capitalize on your strong word-of-mouth and satisfied clients by turning them into a direct mail advertising message that works.

We have proven formula to help you achieve remarkable results.  The success of your direct mail campaign will be influenced by three things: the list, the offer, and the design.

 The List

Be laser focused and target prospects who look and act like your clients.  What makes referrals great is that people generally befriend folks who are similar to them. Their sameness makes your job of closing the lead that much easier.  Understand your customer and mail to those just like them.  You need consumers who are able, ready and willing to buy. One of the most desirable demographics today is the mass affluent, the 21% of homes that are responsible for 60% of spending. They are the 98% of homeowners that are twice as likely to buy, and when they do, spend 3.2 times more.**

 The Offer

What offer can you make the conveys real value to the reader? We often get asked “How much should my offer be worth?”  We advise: Without giving away the house, what is the most unbelievable offer you can make?  If your ideal customer received your postcard today, what offer would motivate them to take action today?  Remember the stronger the offer, the greater the response.  What is trending in your industry now?  Can you entice the reader with that?   Follow the lead of marketing giants and use BOGO (buy one, get one) deals or percent off sales or cash back offers.  By now, everyone recognizes the trademark blue and white Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off direct mail offer.  Consumers want to feel like they are special and getting a deal.

 The Design 

While the artwork is important, the headline and message are more critical.  What can you tell me that will captivate my attention immediately?  What problem can you solve? According to John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, "Tell stories. People love stories. Often even complicated ideas can be made simple through the use of a story. Talk about how your clients use your products or services."  Avoid platitudes and generalizations like ..."World's best cabinets" or "Quality service, affordable prices." Boring!

287 is the average number of meaningful branding and advertising messages seen daily. People are tired and bored of the everyday, the mundane, and the expected. If your message doesn't resonate or impinge with the consumer, will they even notice it?*

This simple three-step formula can begin to fill your marketing funnel with new and interested prospects.  Once you turn your new leads into clients don't forget to keep your referral train rolling. Make asking for them a part of your selling process.  Jantsch shares "One of the best ways to leverage the power of referral marketing is to make the providing of referrals an expectation of every client relationship."

Still concerned about your message? Download the free white paper: 8 critical mistakes to avoid when marketing your product or service.

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

Heather

 

 

 

 

 

 

*source: Jay Walker-Smith, president of the Marketing Firm Yankelovuch

**source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey

More is not better, but too little is worse!

A Lesson from Goldilocks and the Three Bears…

GL&3Bears

As I have talked to business owners over the last 14 years who have adopted a do-it-yourself mentality to marketing their business, I have often heard, "My mailing campaign didn't work!"  What I often find from them is that they have done their own mailing campaign of 100 or 200 mailers of some type, to a list of prospective homeowners that they've narrowly targeted, based on the direction of a friend, family member, or "marketing expert" at their networking group.  They're surprised that they get no response, or one or two lukewarm prospects.

The reality is that zero, one or two responses from a mailing of say 200 homeowners, is not actually bad at all, it’s just not enough.  How does that make any sense?  In fact it's quite excellent for a cold campaign at 1% response rate.  The problem is expectations.  One or two lead calls for a home improvement company is not enough to keep a sales staff gainfully employed, and cash flow healthy.  10 or 20 leads would be more like it - right?  50 qualified leads even better!

Most direct response fails I believe, because business owners find the least expensive Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) advertising vehicles and blast their message out to mailboxes attached to dwellings of all types.  The result is lots of "activity" and a disproportionately low level of sales for the activity expended.

Worse yet, with all the sophisticated demographic, psychographic, and geographic targeting techniques – some businesses take the extreme opposite approach by disqualifying too many good prospects and focusing too narrowly on a list that has no chance of being successful, based on too many assumptions.

Well what if there was a way to target your entire population of qualified and select prospective homeowners (The Mass Affluent) and received full service marketing consulting and design based on years of experience and proven track record… and laser-focus that message into the home for one-tenth the cost of a postage stamp?

What I have found is that if we mail 1000 times the circulation of the earlier example, at one-tenth the cost, but mail that to the Mass Affluent Homeowners, we get the desired result our business owners are looking for.  They get qualified leads, enough to be impressed, that close at a high percentage, and have a strong ticket average.  The result is a strong Return on Investment (ROI) for the advertiser, with laser-focused effort, and a fraction of the sales staff!

More is not better, but too little is worse!

 

Contributed by Anthony R. Sucato,

Retired Engineer

President RSVP Publications of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio

“Direct Marketing to the Affluent”

Tony

Call Tracking – Leads are precious…treat them like gold.

RSVP Call Tracking Solutions provide advertisers the ability to track, capture, chart, record and organize inbound sales calls in real time.

With our easy-to-use, online reporting tools, you can:

  1. Analyze call traffic to identify and
    track the response that your RSVP
    mailing is generating
  2. Capture unanswered calls so every
    prospect can be called back
  3. Collect caller names and
    addresses for future promotions
  4. Record customer calls for quality
    assurance and to identify training
    and coaching opportunities

Call your local RSVP office for an online, guided
tour to see how easy it is to put RSVP Call Tracking
Solutions to work for your business.