Category: General

Glamorize Your Products with Illustrative Package Designs

Natural Life is a retailer focusing on women’s Bohemian clothes, accessories, and gifts.

Its founder, Patti Hughes, says the business was inspired by her mom, who ran a crafting studio out of the family basement, and was rarely seen without sawdust in her hair or a paintbrush behind her ear.

Modeled after global artisan markets, Natural Life believes its products are more than just commodities. The brand calls these products “treasures” because they are things you stumble upon – things you just can’t resist – while you are out and about. Whether it’s moving artwork or a special surprise for that one-of-a-kind friend, Natural Life inspires people to “give and live happy.”

Natural Life’s Boho Bandeaus are one of its most irresistible items. Bandeaus can be styled as face masks, hair bandanas, scrunchies, halter tops, armbands, ponytail holders, and more. While Boho Bandeaus come in gorgeous floral, tie-dye, and camo prints, the packaging nearly trumps the product that is wrapped around it. Made of rustic, recyclable brown paperboard, the cardboard backer is beaded with playful polka dots, whimsical fonts, and quirky flowers. At the bottom, hand-sketched caricatures display between eight and twelve different girls, each wearing the bandeau as a different accessory or style.

While the bandeaus are pretty, the packaging steals the spotlight as it demonstrates the fun women of all kinds can have with the bandeaus. The hand-sketched illustrations are coupled with an alluring hashtag (How do you ❤ to wear? #bohobandeau), tempting prospects with social proof so they will “join the tribe” and make the purchase!

Steal the Spotlight with Free-Form Designs

Packaging design is a great way to glamorize a product and attract consumers’ attention.

Many people will judge a product by its packaging before buying it, and alluring illustrations can spark intrigue in your first-time buyers. Illustrations build a bridge in shared stories, cohesiveness, and collective emotions.

Need ideas? Here’s just a few ways to use illustrations in your packaging:

  • Illustrations of a product in action
  • Graphics of vintage cars, bicycles, or clocks
  • Landscapes representing the culture or heritage of your product
  • Quirky or interactive coffee sleeves for disposable cups
  • Varying patterns of labels for products marketed as a set
  • Pop-open packaging, like boxes that unfold to display a three or four-panel illustration inside
  • A graphic that weaves the actual product into part of its design (like these white rawhide sticks displayed as teeth in a dog’s mouth)
  • Illustrations that incorporate the shape of a container into the larger design theme (like this sardine tin, which doubles as a bright yellow bus crammed with fish)
  • Interactive labels that tell a story, like the “Living Labels” of 19 Crimes (viewers download an app, hover their smart device camera in front of the label, and hear the stories of true criminals come to life as 3D characters recount their side of the story)

Build a Bridge to Your Customers

Your print packaging represents your identity, so ride high in style with illustrated custom labels.

Whether it’s eye-catching boxes, personalized product labels, or hang tags for specials and sales, smart packaging will command attention and make your message sing. Attach your brand to cardboard, glass, fabric, stone, and everything in-between!

5 Strategies to Overcome Nerves in Public Speaking

From Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill, some of the world’s greatest leaders had one thing in common: the fear of public speaking.

Glossophobia, or speech anxiety, affects 77 percent of the population at some level. This can range from sweating and an accelerated heart rate to dizziness, nausea, or a “fight or flight” response.

As a shift to remote working has become more prevalent, more communication is taking place online rather than in-person. And video chatting can make many people (who aren’t normally nervous) more anxious whenever they speak up.

Want to conquer your butterflies or gain confidence when you’re on the big stage? Here are five tips from the public speaking experts:

1. Practice Aloud in Advance

The best way to reduce your anxiety is to rehearse until you feel comfortable, and you will really settle into your message if you share it aloud several times before the big day.

Practice by yourself, before a mirror, in front of a video camera, or even with a friend, colleague, or coach who will give you constructive feedback.

2. Be at Your Best Physically and Mentally

In the turmoil of speaking preparation, this key to optimal performance can get lost in the noise.

Get enough rest. Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol. And give yourself quiet time if you need it (i.e., if you’re an introvert), or mix-and-mingle time to get your juices flowing (if you’re an extrovert). Look out for yourself BEFORE you speak to ensure the best outcome when you do.

3. Breathe

Breathing from your stomach muscles, not your chest, naturally calms the nervous system.

When you want to reset yourself internally, take a few deep breaths before and even during your presentation. As you inhale, say to yourself, “I am . . .” As you exhale, say, “relaaaaaaaaaxed.” 

4. Don’t Be Nervous About Your Nervousness

Singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, who was legendary for his live concert performances, once observed that if he felt completely relaxed before a show, he wouldn’t perform as well.

Speakers who lack confidence often feel nervous. Then they feel anxious about the fact that they’re nervous, which compounds the anxiety.  Remember, nervousness is just your adrenaline flowing. It’s a form of energy. Bruce Springsteen doesn’t get nervous about his nerves – instead, he channels this into excitement and power on stage. Successful speakers know how to make adrenaline work for them and turn nervousness into enthusiasm, engagement, and charisma.

It’s okay to have butterflies.  Make the energy work for you

5. Practice an “Others First” Mindset

During public speaking, you feel “all eyes” watching you.

This can be painfully vulnerable, like a caveman exposed in daylight. While you may want to shrink back, calm your anxiety by focusing on your desire to encourage others. Sarah Gershman, President of Green Room Speakers, says this:

“The key to disarming our organic panic button is to turn the focus away from ourselves — away from whether we will mess up or whether the audience will like us — and toward helping the audience. Studies have shown that . . . showing kindness and generosity to others has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which has the power to calm the fight-or-flight response. When we are kind to others, we feel calmer and less stressed. The same principle applies in public speaking. When we approach speaking with a spirit of generosity, we counteract the sensation of being under attack and start to feel less nervous.”

Build Customer Confidence: 4 Brand Identity Essentials

Trust builds confidence.

That is why a strong corporate brand identity can make or break a business. Brand identity is more than key values or approved color palettes; it is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. Here is one helpful way to describe it:

Brand identity is the image or character of your business as people relate to it. For example, the BMW image of elite luxury has grown naturally from customers’ repeated exposure to BMW’s ads, endorsements, and products.

Brand imagery is the aesthetic appearance of your brand’s core identity and messaging. This results from all the visuals (from billboards, print ads, or product packaging) that represent your brand’s identity.

When a company has a strong brand, it is easily recognized, which grows people’s trust. Trust builds confidence, and confidence begets loyalty. When a business has built superiority in a particular niche, repeat customers are more willing to buy in other areas. When you have loyalty from your base, you have space to increase prices or ask for bigger commitments. 

Breaking Down the Brand Experience

When building a brand, think of an iceberg in which only the tip is visible.

The substance exists below the waterline. The brand elements that are most seen and celebrated (like brand imagery) are not always the most important. The brand experience – the mosaic of customer interactions people have with your business – is part of a greater journey.

Here are four dimensions of this mosaic:

1. Brand Voice

If your brand was a person, what would they sound like?

Are they loud and animated or reserved and refined? An organization’s name, tagline, and editorial style comprise an overall projection of its voice. As these elements are developed, consider how the words would sound in the mouth of a brand spokesperson or its founder.

Also, try to contrast the voice of your competitors. If your rival brand has a highly polished voice, you might consider adopting a friendly, down-to-earth style.

2. Consistency in Core Elements

Building the foundation of your identity starts with identifying core elements.

Strong brands create a style guide that anchors them to brand colors, key fonts, a logo projected across different backgrounds, and a style they hope to express (e.g., “elegant, clean, scalable, approachable yet excellent”).

Once you’ve nailed these keys, you can embellish with design tweaks, humor, or variations on patterns (of ads, print layouts, customer stories, and more). Like music, good design balances order and variation to make a beautiful composition.

3. Total Time

People want to feel like they are in control.

The total time invested in transactions is an essential consideration for today’s consumers. Don’t want to wait in a massive drive-through line? Order ahead in the app. Hate the grocery store line? Use the self-checkout. Perhaps you need to focus less on saving them money and more on saving them time.

Small tweaks you make to the customer experience can assure clients that their time is valuable.

4. Framing Customer Choices

Brand building is about affecting customer choice.

While prospects initially engage with emotional triggers like color, shape, image, or tone, eventually, they’ll ask deeper questions about their spending or time commitments. This involves both upfront expenses and opportunity costs; if customers buy from you, they implicitly say no to another brand.

Think strategically about speaking to buyer emotions regarding loss aversion, short-term sacrifices (vs. long-term gains), or sunk costs (how people don’t want to lose what has already been invested).

Brand identity goes beyond simple appearance. Decisions you make about voice, consistency, time, and customer choices can create strong feelings that prompt a profitable response!

Show-Stopping Print Ideas to Compliment Your Digital Marketing

Does your brain ever feel tired?

Some days, that’s probably due to information overload. Today, researchers estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day or around 600-625 ads per person. If you add in pop-ups and YouTube ads, who knows how high the number may soar!

But amidst the explosion of digital advertising, industry reports remind us that print holds steady. 70% of Americans prefer to read on paper, and 67% prefer printed materials over digital. Additionally, 55% of consumers say they trust print marketing more than any other advertising messages.

Want to evoke emotions with your next masterpiece? Draw from three creative examples of print ads that recently stole the show.

C&A: The Real “Like” Leaderboard

Nothing builds excitement like a little competition!

In a partnership with Microsoft and Tim (one of Brazil’s biggest fashion retailers), C&A created an interactive print advertising campaign to engage clients and collect feedback on designs pitted against one another. Customers who registered to receive the special ‘Like Ads’ on Facebook were given a print magazine with a personalized Tim chip installed. These print pieces are integrated with an interactive thumbs-up icon from Facebook. When viewers approved of a fashion design by pressing the physical thumbs up button, their vote was also tabulated online (without the need to connect any additional devices).

Beyond recording user preferences on influencer Facebook pages, the most popular “liked” looks from these print ads were displayed on a giant leaderboard in the Morumbi Shopping store. What a tremendous way to build engagement and momentum!

Motorola: Where Customization is King

Moto X customization was one of the big selling features of this mobile phone.

To wow potential purchasers, Motorola released interactive ads in New York and Chicago that reached around 150,000 readers of the “Wired” magazine. Phone ads featured super-slim batteries, LED lights, and buttons people could press to modify the phone’s color on the page. Prefer blue? Maybe red, pink, or green? Viewers could try any color as the phone in the ad transformed before their eyes.

Virtual Test Drives

If you find it hard to get customers through your doors, why not bring the product right to them?

Volkswagen is a brand that strives to be a leader in new technology, so it launched an interactive print ad to drive this point home. Using a three-page print ad, readers could unfold a map of a curvy road and then download a corresponding app that would transform their phone into a mini-vehicle. As drivers steered their “car” (mobile phone) along the “road” (print ad), they had a memorable, hands-on experience with vehicle innovations like the Adaptive Lights or Lane Assist modes. Leave it to Volkswagon to create the first-ever “test drive in a print ad.

Not to be outdone, Lexus followed suit shortly afterward. Readers of Sports Illustrated could take the Lexus print ad, place it over a Lexus webpage on their iPad screen, and watch the ad come to life with sight, sound, and motion that displayed the car in action (with spinning wheels and different backgrounds and music).

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is nothing if not tactile. And now, static media options have become more interactive than ever.

Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are memorable, relatable, and fun!

Use Customer Lifetime Value to Plan Your Direct Mail Marketing

What is the value of a customer?

What profit can they bring this week? This year? Over a lifetime? It may seem like a simple concept, but many small businesses have no idea what a regular customer is worth to their business. This creates two problems:

1. Ambivalence about customer retention. Many businesses are uncertain about how much to spend on customer retention. With a metric for measuring customer values, you can navigate appropriate parameters for retaining these people or expanding their business. Research shows that increasing customer retention rates by merely 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%!

2. Uncertainty about effective marketing. What is the number of new customers you’d like to attract, and what is an appropriate budget to do that? Defining customer value will guide your marketing strategies.

When acquiring new customers, estimating Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) provides a way to estimate their future revenue contribution to your company and how to use direct marketing to your advantage.

Take the Long View

Need an example? Here’s a sample:

In this scenario, a CLV of $150 estimates what one customer will spend after one year. When you send out a direct marketing campaign and $150 CLV customers respond, it’s important to remember that a client’s $50 initial purchase during this campaign may not seem profitable (due to the extensive mailing costs).

But rather than looking only at the figures for this initial campaign, you must consider the $150 these clients are going to spend over their lifetime.

Here’s the breakdown of those stats:

Mailed/Cost       Orders Received          Initial Loss           CLV Over 3 Yrs

10K @ $5K           100                              ($2,500)                $10,000

25K @ $15K         300                               ($7,500)                $30,000

45K @ $25K         675                               ($8,125)                $76,250

In the first mailing, was the loss of $2,500 worth the time and expense of one campaign?

Not upfront, but viewing this investment as a loss is shortsighted. With an understanding of Customer Lifetime Value, smart entrepreneurs can see that each mailing produced a response of customers who had a CLV that would bring net profits in the long run. In other words, investing $5,000 in a 10,000-person mailing (to eventually earn $10,000) brought a return of 100%.

Keep Them Coming Back

One thing smart marketers know is that, by increasing a customer’s CLV, they can earn more profits faster.

Here are just a few ways to do this:

  • Keep customers engaged through value-packed content (e.g., educational newsletters, social media chats, personalized ad campaigns, or direct mailings that promote the tangible value of your latest products)
  • Offer loyalty rewards programs or “special status” sales events targeted to the niche markets within your base
  • Upsell more luxurious versions of your customers’ current products or packages
  • Cross-sell similar (or complementary) products or services
  • Incentivize annual billing cycle payments to reduce the churn rate of customers lost month to month
  • Increase sales by bundling products and selling them at a lower price than what they would cost separately
  • Increase pricing over time; or offer to “grandfather” current clients by keeping them at the existing rate as you raise prices for new customers

Your Customers Are Your Future

A customer represents the future of your success and your livelihood, and it will be difficult to thrive if you aren’t willing to risk or invest to attract new business.

Has the uncertainty of direct mail marketing kept your business from growing? Rely on our expertise! We offer simple ways to reach a mass audience for a price point that works with your budget.

Contact us today for options!

4 Direct Mail Tips to Attract Gen Z’s “Digital Natives”

Generation Z—those who follow Millennials—includes people born between 1998 and 2015.

Sometimes known as the Digital Natives (or the iGeneration), this is a demographic that rivals that of the entire Millennial generation, comprising 70 million people in the United States alone.

Gen Z currently includes people in their early twenties and many teenagers with substantial discretionary income. If you want their patronage, your marketing needs to appeal directly to their needs.

Who is Gen Z? Here are a few defining characteristics:

  • They are more racially and ethnically diverse than any other generation.
  • They are on track to be the most well-educated generation.
  • Individuals in Gen Z have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones.
  • Their attention span is around eight seconds.
  • Many people in Gen Z are competitive, entrepreneurial, and financially-focused
  • Gen Z views time as a valuable asset, and your business needs to work hard to earn this commodity.

Also, because they are so plugged in, this group of people is exemplified by passion and collective action. Here are some phrases that capture this mindset:

“We care about our world. We care most about the humans in our world.”

“I am extreme in all that I am and all that I do. This, I believe, will break down walls and invite inclusion for all.”

Do you want to speak directly to the hearts of Gen Z? When it comes to marketing (and direct mail in particular), there are several things you can do to break through:

1. Try Interactive Print Ads

This generation wants an experience, so stretch yourself to create fun and useful campaigns.

Interactive print ads are one option. Take this ad. Here, Glacial beer crafted a unique magazine ad – made from salt-embedded paper – that also functions as a bottle chiller. (Readers can tear out the ad, soak it in water, wrap it around a beer, and stick it in the freezer to chill their beverage in half the time this would typically take.)

Want to go even bigger? Try mailers or brochures with embedded video cards. Here, the mini video automatically starts playing when a mailer is opened.

2. Combine Sharp Designs with Easy Ordering

Since Gen Z has a short attention span, your design needs to grab attention and convey the message quickly.

Get straight to the point with punchy headlines, bold colors, and symbolic images. Be as creative as possible or get lost in the crowd.

Gen Z wants to purchase online, so allow them to do this from their mobile device. Embed QR codes or short URL’s in your mailing so they can scan your mail piece to make a swift, convenient purchase.

3. Post-Rave Reviews

With the world at its fingertips, Gen Z has the luxury of being picky.

Override their doubts with reviews of your product or service by real, relatable people like them. Use at least one testimonial in your mailing and 4-5 on your website.

4. Aim for the Bulls-Eye

Want to cut through the clutter with your message?

Because they use a minimum of three social media channels per week, Gen Z has no patience for marketing that is irrelevant to them. Collect precise data so you can target key customers with the right offers at the right time. This upfront investment is essential to your success.

Direct Mail with a Direct Message

Finally, remember to be real.

As the most woke generation ever, Gen Z can smell a fake a mile away. In all your marketing, define your distinct brand voice and share it across every channel. Put people in focus and invite customers to be part of your story. Mail that does this is compelling and “direct” – in more ways than one!