How Do You Make Marketing Decisions?

How do you plan your print and multi-channel marketing campaigns? Do you trust your intuition? Or do you rely on data to inform your decisions about the most effective way to approach your customers and prospects?

According to a study written by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Applied Predictive Technologies (“Decisive Action: How Businesses Make Decisions and How They Could Do It Better,” 2014), executives and senior managers use a range of strategies, including decisions related to marketing. Does one of these categories describe you?

Intuitive (“I primarily use my intuition in making decisions”) 10%
Collaborative (“I seek to collaborate on decisions as much possible”) 32%
Data-Driven (“I collect and analyze data as much as possible before making a decision”) 42%
Empirical (“Where possible, I develop hypotheses and perform tests before making a decision”) 17%

What’s interesting is that, while the plurality of respondents say they rely on data during the decision-making process, they still highly value their own intuition. Even when data is readily available, 73% say they trust their own intuition. Among the data-driven decision-makers, 68% still agree with that statement.

What do you do when the marketing data contradicts your intuition? Let’s say the data tell you that yellow envelopes are most likely to boost response rates during slow periods, but whenever you’ve mailed using purple envelopes, you feel that you get the best results. What then?

You test it! Create a series of A/B tests to see what approach is the most effective at reaching your particular audience. In the case of the envelopes, you might find that both the data and your intuition are correct. Certain envelope colors may boost response more at certain times of the year, for example, around certain holidays, or for certain audiences only.

Need help analyzing and testing your data to develop the most effective mailing campaigns?  Let us help! That’s what we’re here for.

Are You Listening? Or Just Talking?

In your marketing communications, are you building relationship or just selling? What was your last mailing? Was it a catalog? Promotional offer? Sales letter? That’s one-way communication. True communication is a two-way street that involves both speaking and listening.

If you are doing more talking than listening, how do you start a conversation? Here are some ideas.

  • Send out printed surveys and encourage feedback. Offer a discount or coupon when surveys are returned.
  • Use direct mail with personalized URLs to send people to personalized micro-sites where their responses can be automatically appended back into your marketing database and you can easily take advantage of what you’ve learned.
  • Use pop-up surveys on your website to capture customer attitudes online. Use customer email addresses to link comments back to the record for that individual in your larger marketing database.
  • Use your company newsletters as feedback mechanisms. Print customer letters (post positive and critical) and address the issues in a way similar to what magazines do.
  • Read comments to your blog posts, customer reviews of your products, or track conversations about your company in social media. When you see patterns, address those issues in company newsletters, on your company’s Facebook page, and other channels. Let your customers know that you are really listening.

If a customer has bought from you once, that person is already convinced that they can trust your company. Developing two-way communication with those customers reinforces that relationship and increases the chances that they will buy from you again.

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5 Tips for Getting People to Read Your Content

The buzz is all about content marketing these days. Direct mail, newsletters, white papers, social media, blogs. But more important than the channel used to deliver your content is the content itself. Are you giving your audience something they want to read?

Here are give tips for developing content that will engage your customers and prospects and serve as a powerful marketing vehicle for your brand.

1. Develop a strategy. 

Be strategic about releasing your content. What information do you want to deliver? In what order? Does timing matter? Do you need to deliver different content to different segments of your audience or through different channels?

2. Make it relevant.

Not every segment of your audience wants to hear about the same products or receive your message the same way. Adjust your content, timing, and channel to different segments of your marketplace.

3. Don’t be dull.

In an effort to present every relevant piece of information, marketing materials can be outright dull. Spice it up. Take a different angle. Use interesting graphics. Develop fresh and interesting ways to present the information. You don’t want it to read like an advertisement or bore your audience to death.

4. Make it worth their time.

You know what you — the marketer — are getting out of delivering your content. But what about your audience?  What do they get out of it? How does it benefit them?

5. Make is sharable.

For email, mobile, and online content, create an incentive for sharing the content. When the coupons, event schedules, blog posts, or social media updates are shared by others they know, recipients see the information as more credible and they pay more attention.

Want more ideas for creating sharable content? Just ask!

Smart Tips to Get Noticed!

On an almost daily basis, we are presented with sales and marketing materials that are meant to get our attention and prompt us to make a response.

How can you stand out in the crowd? There are several easy-to-implement, yet often-overlooked considerations that can greatly improve the effectiveness of your company’s efforts.

Stand out physically. A traditional 8.5 x 11-inch sheet will easily blend into a pile. Consider using different shapes and sizes to make your materials “harder to lose” and easier to notice.

Make ‘Em POP! Various print and finish elements can increase the “volume” of your message over that of your competitors. We offer a host of options that we are happy to discuss with you.

Be compelling. A common marketing mistake is to focus on the features rather than the benefits. If your materials don’t quickly answer the “what’s in it for me” question, there is little chance that the rest of your content will garner attention. Real-life content, such as testimonials and case studies, can help draw a lot of attention.

Invest in quality. If you’re utilizing direct mail to deliver your message, consider a study by G.A Wright Marketing that found that the use of high-quality paper and color applications alone can increase your response rates by nearly 50%. Specifically, the study showed that a four-color promotional mailer printed on a heavy gloss paper stock had more than a 40% higher response rate than an identical three-color version printed on a lighter matte paper stock.

Even the smallest improvements in effectiveness can significantly impact your company’s success. If your materials aren’t delivering their full potential, it might be time to revise them using the ideas above.

Need help? Wheeler’s is happy to assist in any way we can. Call us today.

“The Cheque is in the Mail”

Not this one…. I bet you didn’t know we can produce BIG CHEQUES for presentation purposes. Say your organization is donating some money to another group and you want to make a big splash out of it. Maybe the press will be there, local dignitaries, maybe the Prime Minister!!

(Why not do some promoting of your philanthropy? It’s only through your generosity that that group is getting your money).

We can produce presentation cheques in virtually any size – printed full colour on thick coroplast or foamcore material – the one I am holding in this picture is 16″ x 36″

Give me a dingle the next time you are making a monetary presentation – BIG CHEQUES build good will and are frequently hung on the walls of the recipient group – thereby giving more exposure for your brand.         (Click image to enlarge)


Counteract Commoditization with Creativity

Anyone can come up with a snazzy jingle or discount a product. Marrying great creative with insightful, database-driven personalization is more challenging. It also generates better results because the mailer is relevant, not just catchy.

When one safety products company exchanged its static mailers for creative, highly personalized mailers, for example, the results were dramatic. Instead of receiving generic sales pitches, recipients were invited to log into their own personalized URLs, (PURLs – Wheeler’s can help with these), where they could input company-specific data and see estimates on the impact of the technology in their own organizations. Variables included net costs saved, estimated injuries avoided, and estimated lives saved.

By allowing recipients to see how the product directly benefits them (rather than another company or some hypothetical organization), results went through the roof. The marketer’s annual revenues grew from $6 million to $68 million in a span of five years in part due to this dramatic change in marketing strategy.

Marketers are testing elements such as size, shape, substrate, windows, “reveals” and fonts to grab attention in other ways, as well. These elements, in themselves, increase response rates, but when paired with relevant personalization, the improvement can be dramatic.

When one financial solutions company wanted to increase participation in its “company match” retirement programs, for example, it paired its design changes with targeted segmentation (by participation level) and personalized content. Although the number of variables was low, the company saw a 16% boost in participation and a jump of $2 million in new contributions.

If you want results, get creative. Ditch “the usual” and look for new ways to approach the same material and get recipients to take a fresh look at the value of what you have to offer.

Profile Before You Personalize

Want to achieve higher levels of success with your 1:1 (personalized) printing campaigns? Profile before you personalize! What does this mean? It means understanding what your customers look like as aggregate demographic or psychographic groups before you send targeted mailings or personalize to them as individuals.

As a very simplified example, each age demographic has different needs and preferences and will respond differently to different types of messaging. Thus you might want to profile your customer base by age. By running a very simple analysis, for example, you might find that your customer base looks like this:

  • 18-34 years old (38%)
  • 35-49 years old (24%)
  • 50-64 years old (18%)
  • 65+ years old  (20%)

This tells you something. Your customers are heavily skewed toward the younger demographic. Was this a surprise to you? Why do you think this is? Is your product equally useful to an older audience? If so, how could you position it differently to appeal those demographics? Profiling gives you critical information about how to tweak your message.

Likewise, consumers behave differently based on where they live. Consumer attitudes in New Hampshire will vary considerably from those in the Deep South. Red States and Blue States may have very different preferences and attitudes about certain issues, products, and services.

Look at other characteristics, as well. Where do your customers prefer to shop with you (brick-and-mortar store or online)? What marketing channels do they respond to (direct mail, e-mail or SMS text messaging)?

Once you understand the profile of your customer base, you can compare these profiles against well-known demographic and psychographic patterns to anticipate how they might behave and what types of messaging they are most likely to respond to. This allows you to craft your approach to be most effective for different segments of your customer base.

So profile before you personalize!

1:1 Print Beats Online for Relevance

If you want inexpensive, real-time communications, online marketing can be a powerful tool. But if you want highly relevant marketing communications that consumers respect, then personalized print is the way to go.

In a survey of more than 1,200 people conducted for ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 69% percent of respondents saw traditional advertising as relevant to them, compared with 45% for online marketing. Respondents also described online marketing as “chaotic.” This reflects how misdirected and intrusive ads can create a high level of annoyance, even when those efforts are supposedly targeted.

Compare this to print. Databases tend to be more accurate and targeting more focused. Personalized print earns consumers’ trust and respect. Consumers also appreciate the purposeful investment print requires in the marketer’s relationship with them. It creates a sense that that they are valued.

So while you may want to expand your marketing to include some electronic channels, don’t make the mistake of replacing print with alternative media. Instead, personalize it!

Capitalize on consumers’ positive perception of print to differentiate yourself as a company that cares about your customers in a way that consumers often perceive online advertisers don’t. Then build on that perception with relevant, personalized communications they’ll remember and respect!

5 Ways to Market for Less

Did you know that even during the Great Depression, some companies thrived? While other marketers were cutting their spending, a few businesses like Camel and Chevrolet took the opportunity to use aggressive marketing tactics to grab market share from their competitors. It’s proof that the key to long-term success in any economy is to get in front of your target audience and stay there.

Even if your budget strings are tightening, here are a few ways to keep your marketing on track.

1. Use fewer inks.

If you have a three-color project, consider dropping down to two colors. With creative use of screen tints, you can often create a similar look for a lower cost. If you have been printing generic business documents like forms in two colors, consider dropping back to just black ink.

2. Use more inks.

This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you have a three-color project, it is often more cost-effective to bump it up to four colors. In many cases, four-color process is less expensive than three-color spot printing because the press is already set up. Plus, you can ask about including your job in a gang run where it is on the press alongside other four-color jobs and then trimmed down to size.

3. Prepare your artwork and proofread carefully.

You can avoid many service charges by making sure you’ve prepared your artwork correctly and caught every last typo.

4. Clean up your mailing list.

It’s boring work, but it can drop your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you can print exactly what you need and avoid extra postage costs as well.

5. Consider different formats.

Just because you have always done a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Experiment with a postcard instead of a brochure and see whether you get a better response rate. Testing is the key to effective marketing. A little creativity can go a long way toward saving money.

Need some help applying cost-saving principles to your marketing projects?

Check out our company  HERE

Give us a call!  519-254-5237

Measuring the Effectiveness of Print Campaigns

You can extend the concept of return on investment (ROI) to your print marketing efforts, measuring profitability versus cost. Leading corporations use intensively data-driven approaches to report the economic benefits created from marketing investments. You can develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of your printing expenditures even if you don’t have a full-time staff of business analysts.

Set specific goals for your print campaign. Do you want to increase total revenue and profits? Or is the purpose to increase sales of a particular product or service or expand into a new market? Perhaps you need to spur seasonal sales to offset fluctuations in demand. Or your goal might be less tangible, such as increasing brand awareness or improving your company’s image. Tailor your evaluation methods to these defined goals.

Crunch the numbers. Customize this basic print ROI model with your own assumptions to determine whether your campaign will be successful.



Number of Pieces Printed


Total Cost


Response Rate Anticipated


Percentage of Respondents Expected to Purchase


Average Profit per Purchase



Number of Respondents


Cost per Response


Number of Buyers


Cost per Buyer


Cost per Printed Piece


Profit per Printed Piece




Total Profit/(Loss)


Total Cost




Design your printed materials to track responses. Include a customized coupon, code or inquiry card to determine which customers are responding to a specific printed piece.

Document how new customers found you. Train your sales and customer service personnel to ask how a client learned about your organization so you can be certain new sales are a result of your marketing efforts rather than another factor, such as a competitor going out of business.

Recognize that it’s not all about dollars and cents. Print pieces have a long life and might be passed from person to person, so campaign-driven sales might not be realized immediately. And, there are some metrics that you can only capture through market research. For example, organize a focus group or survey of those who received a specific printed piece to measure recall, perceptions about your company and purchase intent.


These strategies will enable you to cost-justify your print marketing budget and focus your efforts where you will receive the greatest returns.

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