Using Print to Drive Social Media Engagement

We often think about print and social media as being competitors, but print can be one of the greatest drivers of social media engagement, as well. Take a lesson from Skinny Cow, which uses print to drive participation in its social media and mobile contests.

To engage consumers, the company offers daily giveaways. To participate, consumers must purchase a Skinny Cow product such as cheese or ice cream bar at a retail location. Consumers type in the barcode or six-digit game code from the box or wrapper to see if they have won. They can tweet about the contest to gain an additional chance to win.

By printing codes on its product packaging, Skinny Cow drives traffic into its retail stores. Once consumers have provided their mobile numbers to enter the contest, it can begin to send them push notifications, as well. Tweeting multiples the impact of the campaign at no additional cost.

Printing personalized barcodes and game codes on boxes, labels, and wrappers is a simple operation and can be adapted to many different consumer products. Codes can be overprinted or, if you are printing in small quantities, digitally printed right onto the package. You can also print personalized barcodes, QR Codes, or promo codes on napkins, cups, and other disposable items used by the consumer.

If you don’t produce the types of consumer products that lend themselves to these types of promo codes, you can drive foot traffic by printing generic codes or “secret URLs” on office, in-store, or even trade show displays, banners, and signage. Change them out frequently to prevent sharing.

Print and mobile / social media don’t have to be competitors.

In fact, print may be one of the primary ways consumers find you on social and mobile media.

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

When Is Personal Too Personal?

One of the benefits of 1:1 PRINTING is the ability to increase the relevance of each communication by making the message more personal. By using information you already know about the recipient, you are able to communicate on a more intimate, 1:1 level.

But this approach can also be misused. Individuals and businesses are very protective of their privacy these days, and rightly so. Customers want to know that their data is not only safe, but that the marketers they do business with won’t misuse it.

What are some first steps you can take to ensure that your customers and prospects know that you care about their privacy?

  • Include an official privacy statement in your information-gathering materials.
  • If you will be collecting data, include a notice of physical and data security procedures and a promise of confidentiality.
  • When personalized your marketing messages, don’t disclose overly personal details (“Hey, Bob! Ready to default on that sky-high mortgage?”).
  • Be transparent. Provide full details about what respondents have to do in order to receive any prizes or promotional items.
  • Follow all opt-in regulations, including double opt-ins for email lists and providing the option to opt-out of future marketing contacts.
  • Assure that respondents’ information will not be sold to third parties.

Privacy standards, both in print and online, are always evolving. So stay abreast of the discussion. Talk to your customers to find out any other concerns and address them. The more you can assure your customers that their personal information is safe with you and that it will be used appropriately, the more you will win their trust.

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.

Smart Strategies for Maximizing Print

All around us, we hear about the benefits of going paperless. When it comes to marketing, that’s just not a smart move. When our in-boxes are clogged with spam and any company can look big and successful online, print carries a gravitas that inspires confidence and trust.

Now is not the time to give up print.

But smart marketers are making their print contacts even more powerful.


1. Focus on recent customers. Clients who have purchased from you recently know who you are. They just need a simple reminder, such as a postcard or sell sheet, to give them a reason to buy from you again. If you’re looking to stretch your marketing dollars, focus on recent customers first.


2. Know your top customers. Pay particular attention to retaining customers with the highest profit margin. Then target prospects with similar profiles with the presumption that you will be able to serve them profitably as well. If you don’t know who your top customers are, a proactive investment in data analysis can reap big returns.


3. Be relevant. You can only satisfy buyer motivations if you understand what your prospects love and hate—their hearts’ true desires and what keeps them awake at night. Knowing your customers and engaging in sincere dialogue about what they want and why they want it will pay off in repeat sales and quality referrals.


Print marketing is evolving. Success is no longer based on trying to get a static, “same to all” message in front of as many people as possible. It’s about marketing smart and marketing relevant, and using the tangible, confidence-building medium of print to its maximum advantage.

And hot on the heels of my last post….

Personalization Creates 30% Lift

Looking for proof that personalization works? Consider the case of one historical museum that used personalization to create a lift in donations of 30%

For the past decade, the museum had been using direct mail as its primary way to solicit donations. After years of success, however, effectiveness was starting to wane. The museum wondered if personalizing the message to each recipient would breathe new life into its efforts.

To find out, the museum split its mailing in half.  To the first half, it sent a traditional static newsletter. To the second half, it sent a personalized newsletter. Personalization included the person’s name, the state in which they lived, the number of charter members in that state, and prefilled the response forms to make sending in a donation easier. The results?

  • Among those actively contributing, response rates increased 30%.
  • Among less active but still donating members, response rates increased 25%.
  • Among both active and less active members, the value of the donations increased.

Why did this campaign work?

In this case, personalization taps into the recipient’s sense of responsibility to the organization. “They know me — they are relying on me,” not just as an anonymous donor, but as someone the museum relies on by name.  When you call someone by name, there is a responsibility that comes with that, especially in the world of fundraising.

Including the number of charter members in the recipient’s state also taps into the sense of collective responsibility. “Look how many other people are deeply supporting this cause. I should be more committed, as well.”

Finally, the pre-filled form removed one of the barriers to responding to any campaign—the need to fill out a form, address an envelope, and add a stamp. If all the recipient has to do is drop a check in the envelope and put it in the mailbox, that alone can elevate response.

Whether you are a nonprofit organization or not, the lessons are clear. Call your customers by name, tap into collective responsibility (or collective participation in some kind of benefit), and make it easy to respond. Then watch your response rates soar.


Did you say Pearl? No I said PURLs

Are You Benefitting from Personalized URLs?

Have you joined the ranks of marketers benefiting from personalized URLs? If not, why not?  Personalized URLs are a highly effective way to increase response rates and gather more information about your customers.

Personalized URL campaigns use the ability of digital presses to create personalized URLs that send recipients to their own, fully personalized pages. There, recipients generally navigate a customized “micro website” that includes a personalized landing page, a survey page, an information page, and a thank-you page. Once the user responds, the data is appended back into your database for use in future more relevant targeting.

Although this sounds complicated, it isn’t. These applications can be template-driven, using something as simple as a mailing list. Setup time can be a matter of hours—or less. The magic is in the software.

While personalized URLs do require databases, they can be successful with as little as a mailing list. Campaigns often start with some kind of basic demographic or other segmentation, and once people respond, the software gathers the data and appends it back automatically so you can use it for more detailed targeting and personalization later. Thus, personalized URLs don’t require detailed marketing databases. They become gateways to creating them.

Indeed, research shows that the more marketers learn from their personalized URL surveys, the more effective their future campaigns become. In an analysis of its customers’ Multi-Channel marketing campaigns, for example, one personalized URL software supplier found that in 2009, marketers using its system achieved a 5.1% visit rate and 3.8% response rate on average. But in 2010, just one year later, they were achieving visit rates of 6.5% and response rates of 4.5%.

Personalized URLs are a terrific tool for generating responses and learning about your customers . . . and the more you use them (and learn from them), the more effective they become.

Call me today to explore this further.

Planning Your Next Print Project

Most successful printing projects don’t happen by accident. They start with a good plan. By developing a plan in advance, you can save money, time, and energy throughout the process.

Good project planning starts with some very simple steps.

1. Share your design with us.For a FREE review of your design, simply upload a PDF file to HERE

By bringing us into the process during the design stages, we can tell you whether certain ideas will have an impact on the time or cost of the piece. For example, you might not realize that some binding options can take extra time or that a certain trim size might incur extra costs.

2. Consider your suppliers’ schedules.

Are you bringing outside suppliers into the process? If so, how do their schedules impact yours? If you are using a freelance illustrator, for example, what is this person’s availability? If changes need to be made later on, will this person be able to respond in a timely fashion on a short turnaround? If you’re placing a label on a specialty bottle, will the bottle company have sufficient supply during your time-frame?

3. Plan backwards from the delivery date.

Keep us informed about your progress. We juggle many jobs at any given time. If you don’t meet your date to get the files to us, your delay can have a ripple effect. We might place another job on the press in front of yours, and have to push your project back to the next available opening. The larger the job, often the more difficult it is to reschedule.

4. Add a “fudge factor.”

Always add in buffer to accommodate slippage in the schedule. The larger the project, the more buffer you will need.

5. Communicate!

Keep people in the loop, and let them when you need the job in your hands. When everyone is communicating effectively and working toward the same goal, you are more likely to be rewarded with a project that comes in on time and on budget.

Data Mining Demystified

In order to produce a successful 1:1 printing campaign, all you need is a great database, right? Not quite. Producing a successful 1:1 print campaign starts with having a great database, but once you have the data, you have to figure out what to do with it. Often, that means data mining.

Data mining. The very phrase strikes fear into the hearts of marketers, but in reality, it is simply the process of finding patterns in large data sets. That doesn’t have to be a daunting proposition. In fact, you can do simple data mining in Excel.

There are three steps to data mining:

  • Know what data is available.
  • Ask questions about that data.
  • Look for useful relationships.

This is something you can do from your own desktop. The first step is simply to understand what’s in your database. The next step is to start asking questions of that data.

If you are a retailer, for example, you might ask, “Which customers purchased hardwood flooring last month?” Then you might ask, “What else did these same customers purchase?” You might find that these same customers also purchased area rugs and floor conditioning products. Now you can ask even more questions. When do they typically make purchases? Is there a pattern by time of month?

Over time, you will start seeing relationships that will be highly useful in your 1:1 marketing. That’s data mining! And it’s well within the grasp of any sized marketer. So get curious!

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Wheeler’s Printing & Copying
Address: 1685 Windsor Ave
Phone: (519) 254-5237

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