Every Personalized Marketing Campaign MUST BEGIN with Accurate Data

April 16th, 2015

Personalized marketing is proving to be really effective. In fact, In a study of 650 multi-channel marketing campaigns, personalized campaigns consistently and overwhelmingly beat out static campaigns in generating a high response rate from recipients. (Source: MindFire).

Data is at the heart of all personalized marketing – whether print or online. While personalized marketing is proving to be incredibly effective, it can also be quite a risky move for marketers.  All it takes is one column in your Excel sheet to get bumped up or down, and you’re sending out a potential disaster for your brand and offer.
Great Personalized Marketing Begins with ACCURATE DataLet me give you an example… the other day, I received a beautiful, glossy full color mail piece that personalized a romantic gift – created just for me and my true love. The direct mail piece features a personalized, heart shaped, Swarovski crystal-studded necklace with “Liz” engraved on one side of the heart with my birthstone, and “Alec” on the other, with his.  It’s a spectacular example of how data and creative can integrate seamlessly into a one-of-a kind printed piece. Unfortunately, this piece got my attention all the wrong reasons… Alec is my son, not my husband. WHOOPS!

They key to success is to begin with data sourced responsibly. Even if you’re using in house data, following a solid set of quality control processes can help you steer clear of potential disasters.

So, how can you reap the amazing benefits of personalized marketing while avoiding the blunders of bad data?

Sarah Bender, of New Loyalty USA, Inc., a direct mail and fulfillment company, shares a few ways that data mistakes can happen, and offers a few tips on how to prevent it.”These types of mistakes usually happen for two reasons: 1. Excel spreadsheets are often sorted, and the person doing it accidentally highlights the spreadsheet incorrectly and the columns get out of sync – thus the variable data becomes “off”.  2. The merged and printed pieces are not being quality checked thoroughly for accuracy.

A good rule of thumb is to SAVE the original data file. Only sort from a copy of the original. When the data is merged and printed with the variables applied, do a random quality check of at least 20-30 pieces against the original unsorted list.  Have your IT department check the Q/C samples as well, have them verify that the variable data fields match back to the original list provided.  This is critical since they could have imported the data into Excel and inadvertently merged it incorrectly – providing your digital print and/or press operators with incorrect variable data in the first place.”

If you’d like more tips on how to keep your list in top shape, read tips on building and maintaining a high quality list.

Let us know if you’ve found this information helpful.

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Google Wants Your Website Mobile-Friendly

March 22nd, 2015

Did you catch the announcement from Google earlier this month regarding it’s new ranking preference for mobile friendly web sites?

From Google’s statement: “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

If your business relies on Google rankings to be found, take action now to make sure it’s a mobile friendly site. To test your site’s readiness, use this handy Google tool. and pay attention to the items that show up on the mobile tab.

If you’d like to learn more, check out Google’s Mobile Guide.

10 Easy ways to create great content for your next email

November 16th, 2014

If you’re responsible for producing content for your company’s email marketing campaigns, you most likely have suffered from writers block at some point.  Spark your next great content idea with these tips…

Overcome writers block with these simple tips!

Overcome writers block with these simple tips!

  1. Recap five interesting things you learned at an event you recently attended.
  2. Re-purpose content from one of your existing presentations or seminars.
  3. Ask your sales reps, or front-line employees like receptionists, what questions they are most asked. Do a Q&A format for your e-mail.
  4. Share a “how-to” tip on a favorite product, and consider video. Video in emails can increase your click through rate by 300%!
  5. Ask an industry expert to be featured in an interview by you.  Ask your clients or customers in advance what they’d like to know from the expert.
  6. Curate content by compiling industry news – add your opinion or take on it for a personalized touch.
  7. Share a case study or your latest project.
  8. Share an interesting or touching story about an employee.
  9. Survey your list using either social sites or email and ask what they’d like to know about your area of expertise or about your company.  Ask open ended questions!
  10. Tell a story. People remember and share content that tells great stories.  For an excellent example, watch CAT’s Built For It video.

Do you have a favorite tip for creating great content ideas? Leave a reply below!

Rad Graphics is a re-seller of Emma email marketing. We love the ease and flexibility of the Emma platform. For a free demo, please contact us.

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Are You Adding this to Your Marketing Mix?

October 8th, 2014

Printed materials are making a comeback as a marketing channel that works. Considering how saturated digital marketing is, it’s pretty easy to understand why.

Here are a few reasons you should consider incorporating more print in your marketing mix:

  1. Print allows the reader to chose when they will engage with your brand - Most digital marketing channels are out of mind, out of sight… messages are seen, then gone, and unfortunately, very hard for your audience to remember. Printed materials can be saved for a time when they need or want your information.
  2. Print allows the viewer to “unplug” - In our over-connected, and over-stimulated world of information pushed to us 24/7, it’s critical we unplug from the noise. Now more than ever, your audience will appreciate being able to learn more about your brand without having to be “plugged in”.
  3. Print can help your market remember you - Print is tactile, and touch is one of our most powerful senses when it comes to storing memory and information. Think of how effective a physical piece can be if it encourages your audience to touch and engage with it? Tactile stocks, high & dull gloss finishes, interesting folds, scratch-off’s and cool die cuts – all scream “touch me”!
  4. Print plays well with other media – Quick reader (QR) codes and augmented reality (AR) technologies are just a few ways marketers can link print to mobile ready offers or landing pages. Incorporate digital with print to maximize your engagement and reach. Allrecipes.com is a great example of a brand creating cross-platform opportunities for advertisers while responding to increasing consumer demand for a curated, printed product. Circulation of their print magazine has grown 40% within the last year to 900,000, and the advertising dollars have followed.
  5. Print is used less, so it stands out more – With so many organizations heavily marketing through online and social channels, there’s a void in the print channel. Why not fill that void before your competition does?
  6. Print can yield a high ROI - A 2010 study by the Direct Marketing Association revealed that for every $1.00 spent on print advertising expenditures, an average of $12.57 in sales were generated. That’s a great ROI, and even better, all industries showed that average.

As you develop your marketing strategies for 2015, consider print a powerhouse in your marketing channel mix. There are so many interesting finishing techniques, stocks and ink options out now to help you create memorable brand touchpoints.

Are you ready to get creative?

RAD Graphics is a tactical marketing firm that helps businesses grow by creating, producing and delivering award-winning pieces and campaigns through a variety of marketing channels, including print. For a free consultation, please call 216-371-3003.

Create Printed Marketing Materials on a Budget

September 18th, 2014


Great print doesn’t need to break your budget!

Your business card may be small, but it plays a big role in brand recognition!

September 14th, 2014

Last week I went to a few networking events, where I exchanged business cards with those I met.  I was struck by the number of comments I got on our newly designed card… “Wow.. nice card”, “I love the feel”, “What do you do?”.  This small piece of paper plays a big role in reinforcing your brand.

Your business cards can stand out with smart design and print techniques

Business cards collected (and saved) over the last year

What shocked me was that the majority of the business cards I received were quite boring – and forgettable.  Unfortunately, for many professionals, the “art” of the business card has been traded in for quick, cheap and boring.

Let me ask you: are you – or your products or services – cheap or boring?

I didn’t think so.  When you look at your cards, what qualities do they reflect about your professional brand?  Does it give any indication of your unique value, and is it memorable a day or two after receiving it?

Following are a few print techniques you can incorporate to ensure your business card reflects what your brand stands for:

PAPER & MATERIAL: There are so many stock options that have interesting color, texture or weight to  them.  Some even go beyond paper such as plastic, metal and wood.  Explore the options and have fun!

COLOR: We love to design with color… lot of bold, beautiful color!  Consider adding a spot color or metallic for visual punch.

SHAPE & SIZE: There is no reason why a business card must be 3.5″ x 2″.  Design the shape to be different by rounding or clipping corners or trimming to a non-standard size.

SPECIAL FINISHES: Die cutting, foil stamping, embossing and spot varnish can add a unique tactile and visual element to your cards. There are new, unique coatings like spot dimensional UV and soft-touch varnish which add tactile interest without breaking your budget.

So, please banish boring, and talk to a good designer and printer about options that reflect your brand!

FYI, our new card is a 2″ x 2″ square with rounded corners on 3 sides, and finished with a soft touch varnish.  I’m happy to say I’m proud to hand it out!

RAD Graphics is a tactical marketing firm

that helps businesses grow by creating, producing and delivering award-winning pieces and campaigns through a variety of marketing channels, including direct mail. For a free consultation, please call 216-371-3003.

Why Direct Mail Fails, and How to Fix It!

June 25th, 2014

Direct Mail is still one of the most highly effective marketing channels available to businesses, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood.  It’s complex and costly, and as a result, businesses tend to shy away from it either because of a bad past experience, or the fear of the unknown.  Direct mail can work for almost any business, and it doesn’t have to fail!  The key to success is in understanding this powerful channel’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can determine if and how it fits into your strategic marketing plan.  Some common direct mail fails we see often are:

  • Using a Bad List - Using an old list with obsolete contacts, or too general a list of names not targeted to your market is simply
    Why Direct Mail Fails, and How to Fix It

    Why Direct Mail Fails, and How to Fix It

    a waste of money.  Statistics show that personalized mail nets a higher ROI, but if you’ve ever received a piece with your name mis-spelled, or with someone else’s name, you know it’s actually worse than non-personalized mail.  In the world of direct mail marketing, a good, high quality list is – and always will be – King.  We feel it’s so critical to direct mail success, we created a separate post with tips on building and maintaining a high quality list.

  • Being Ordinary - Look through the mail you get now.  How much truly catches your interest. There’s so much you can do with size, folds, finishes, color and texture, that there’s really no reason to be boring. You’re brand is not ordinary or boring, so why on earth reflect that?
  • Not Knowing USPS Regulations and Options – There’s a lot of details involved in creating and sending a unique and successful direct mail campaign, which is why I think so much of what we all see in our mailboxes is boring. Consult an expert on how to make your mail stand out and get noticed while remaining deliverable for your budget. There are also a few unique products that the USPS offers, including the Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) service that can dramatically save businesses money.  Again, work with an expert that can provide guidance and help you plan.
  • No Clear & Measurable Call to Action – so many times, we receive direct mail pieces that simply ask the recipient to “contact us” or “give us a call”. People are so busy and distracted these days, you need to give them a super clear and strong call to action that includes a deadline, or they’ll set it aside and forget about it.  Consider this: about 40 years ago, the average person was exposed to 500 messages per day.  Today, it’s close to 5,000, so being clear and succinct is crucial now more than ever.  Add an offer code or train your staff to ask the question “How did you hear about us/this offer” when they call, and keep a record of the response you get.
  • No Clear Definition of Success – Knowing specifically what success looks like is critical to determining how to make adjustments going forward. Define success in specifics like: “We’d like to receive 50 calls for more information on our new service line in the next 2 months”.  Keep in mind, that on average, the response rate to direct mail is anywhere between 1- 4%. You want to make sure your definition of success is attainable, so work with a direct mail professional if you need help defining success for you.
  • One & Done - Only sending a mailing one time is such a common error we see.  Direct mail can be extremely effective, but you need to commit to more than one mailing.  Be consistent and constant and your market will realize you’re here to help them, and provide value to their lives or business. Use feedback you gather from your mailings throughout the campaign and tweak as needed.

RAD Graphics is a tactical marketing firm that helps businesses grow by creating, producing and delivering award-winning pieces and campaigns through a variety of marketing channels, including direct mail. For a free consultation, please call 216-371-3003.


Want Direct Mail to Work? Fix Your List!

April 25th, 2014

In the world of direct mail marketing, messaging, graphics and tactile elements are important… we think of them as the Queen of the campaign. But a good, high quality list is – and always will be – King.

Your list rules when it comes to direct mail

A good list is critical for direct mail success

Why is the mailing list so important?

Your campaign may include the most compelling offer, or incorporate unbelievably cool creative, but if it goes to the wrong group of people, or it’s deemed undeliverable by the USPS, it’s a total waste of valuable marketing resources.

Do your direct mail marketing efforts a service and treat your list like royalty. It will return the favor by increasing your organization’s direct marketing efforts effectiveness for years to come. Here are a few tips:

  • Check for incorrect information. Mis-spelled names and incorrect personal titles (Mr. vs. Mrs.) are a common issue with lists. Have you ever received a nice personalized direct mail piece that “talked” to you on a first name basis and made you feel special?  Personalized mail is proven to be more effective than non-personalized, but if you’ve got a mis-spelled name or incorrect personal title, it’s worse than receiving non-personalized mail… hands down!
  • Keep your database information consistent. Always, ALWAYS put the information in the proper columns of your spreadsheet. “First name” in the first name column, “Last name” in the last name column, etc. ALWAYS (sorry, but this bears repeating!) Mail merges and personalization of content will only work if this is correct. Placing your data consistently in the correct columns is also a simple way to identify and remove duplicate names on your list, or to see what information you might be missing. If you are gathering more data about your customers like birthdays, preferences, buying habits, etc., just create additional columns. Whether you use it or not it will give you the ability to harness this info and provide truly customized marketing campaigns both in print and email. 
  • Check for moves. Businesses, families, and plenty of individuals move all the time. Running your list against the USPS National Move database to ensure higher mailing deliverability. It won’t eliminate all undeliverable mail, but odds are good if 5% get rejected after a good cleaning, you would have likely seen 10% rejection without it. Work with a direct mail professional to get this service done.
  • Purchase lists wisely. If you don’t have a list or want to grow your existing list quickly, purchasing names is the way to go.  But here’s where quality is critical, so work with a professional marketing service provider like RAD Graphics to ensure you’re getting good high quality information. Demographics can be provided to generate a list, or predictive modeling can be used on an existing list to find prospects just like the qualified names that already exist on your list. Have names but no emails? Phone numbers and emails can be added to any existing list for integrated marketing efforts.

RAD Graphics is a tactical marketing firm that helps businesses grow by creating, producing and delivering award-winning pieces and campaigns through a variety of marketing channels, including direct mail. For a free consultation, please call 216-371-3003.

How to Choose the RIGHT Promotional Product

August 28th, 2013

Promotional products and apparel are great for showing your appreciation, launching a new service, or even for building loyalty. The key, of course, is to choose them wisely.  Here are a few tips for choosing the right promotional item for your customers, prospects or employees.

Know Your Target Market
This is the most important place to start.  Keep in mind your audience will accept just about any free item, but the goal is to get them to use it, and that’s why it’s important that the item addresses your target markets needs AND their tastes.

So, who is your target market?  What’s their average age, gender and income level?  What do they struggle with?  If your target market is a business professional, what position do they typically hold?  Analyze your customer base and figure out what makes them tick. You can do this by simply exploring social media sites, or surveying some of your clients directly.  Once you’ve defined who your audience is, it’s easier to find relevant items.  Reach out to us or a professional in the industry for help if you’re still stuck.

Know Your Distribution Method
How will you get these in your target market’s hands?  If you’re including a product in a mailing campaign, chose a light, thin item like a pen or a magnet.  Apparel items and mugs or stemware are ideal handed out in person or at trade shows.

Looks ARE Important
Cheap looking items or those of low quality, or worse, items that don’t consistently work, will reflect poorly on your brand and company reputation.  Always make sure they are good quality.  Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean expensive.

A few more tips to remember:

  • Don’t be boring. You’re not boring, so why should an item that represents your brand be boring? There are so many options for almost any type of product you’re seeking out.  Remember, the objective is to choose an item that gets held on to and used!
  • Choose a product with a long shelf life. The longer it gets used, the better brand exposure you get. Great long term items include lipbalm, unique mugs and quality apparel to name a few.
  • Imprint with your logo and a call to action. Do you want people to visit your website, email you or call?  Whatever you want them to do should be your call to action.  Make sure the color of the item works with your brand.
  • Have a few different items on hand for various occasions. This is a great strategy for trade shows.  Have an inexpensive give-away for all who stop by and a nicer item for those who give them contact info, and an even nicer option for those you have a conversation with.
  • Think ahead! It’s best to get a sample of what you’re interested in ordering so take action weeks – maybe even months – before you actually need the item in hand.  This allows time for you to touch, feel, and even use a sample before committing to a large run.

If you’d like our 3-step worksheet on How to Choose the Right Promotional Item, just send us an email!

Creative Retail Window Displays: Art Meets Apparel

November 12th, 2012

Store windows used to be the retailer’s first touch point with their consumer.  Although technology has become that primary touch point – usually through the company’s website – retailers still need to stage their windows to set the tone for their brand, and give the consumer a feel for what they can expect once they step inside.

Whenever we travel, we enjoy checking out what retailers are creating to capture the attention, and communicate their brand to busy shoppers.  During a recent trip to Toronto, we found quite a few stores utilizing objects like old books, birch logs, styrofoam and plastic plates.  It was refreshing to see such creative and tactile solutions – especially for the electronically over-charged consumer.  Check out a few of our favorites…


Retail window display using text books


Retail window display using plastic and syrofoam plates, cups and metallic disks.  Second photo is a close-up.


Retail window display with old clocks for a change the clock themed sale.


Retail window display using 8-1/2 x 11 “snapshot” prints as background