In a post-pandemic world, marketers are tasked with a unique balancing act: helping people return to reality while remaining sensitive to the challenges of this era.

Today’s consumers appreciate businesses that prioritize people over products. Research by consumer authority Mintel has shown that as many as 56% of Americans will stop buying from brands they believe are unethical. Additionally, in a global survey, 91% of consumers reported they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality. 

Corporate responsibility, or cause marketing, occurs when a company’s promotional campaign has a dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society. Or, more colloquially: cause marketing occurs when a brand does well by doing good.

Visual campaigns are potent, and they are even more compelling when combined with a social initiative of some sort. Here are three dynamic examples.

Cadbury’s “Donate Your Words” Campaign

In the United Kingdom, 225,000 older people often go a week without speaking to anyone.

During the pronounced isolation of COVID-19, Cadbury chocolates launched an initiative to benefit Age UK, the country’s leading charity dedicated to providing companionship, advice, and support for older individuals.

In a stark visual, Cadbury removed all lettering from the front of its dark purple packaging and replaced it with a blank tag: instead of a price, there was a pledge to talk to an older person. Blank pledge tags were also available for customers who wanted to write personalized pledges. Shoppers could take any display item to the till, but instead of paying money they could pledge to talk to an older person.

Cadbury donated its chocolate and challenged a nation to donate its words.

American Express and Small Business Saturday

Did you know that the original founder of Small Business Saturday was American Express?

Without a non-profit partner, American Express embraced entire communities by encouraging consumers to shop local and support the mom and pop stores in their own neighborhoods (presumably while using an American Express card to do so!).

Launched in 2010, local profits leaped from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $19.8 billion in 2020. Key to this success was visual marketing; to equip local businesses, American Express designed creative pieces like signage, social posts, scavenger hunt maps, recipe sheets, and themed passports to support their “Neighborhood Champions”—men and women that vowed to formally celebrate Small Business Saturday in their areas.

A Meaningful, Memorable Message

Consumers want to see positive change in the world and when your brand can be part of it, the emotional impact of your marketing will ratchet up.

Choose your cause wisely, listen to your audience, and lean in to the power of print marketing to put your message front and center. 

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When you want to flaunt your finest, large-format printing can make an oversized impact!

Large-format printing includes products printed at a length of 18-100 inches with a minimum width of 60 inches. Some of the most popular items include posters, window graphics, yard signs, vehicle wraps, vinyl banners, media backdrops, and more.

While large-scale graphics are stunning, these projects require special preparation, so these images remain vibrant and sharp when stretched to larger-than-life proportions.

If you plan to go BIG, here are some factors to consider.

Communicate from the Start

When diving in on a large-scale printing, create a detailed brief and use this to speak to your printer as early as possible.

Try to include everything from the size, design, materials, and deadlines. Your printer will work with you to be sure your ideas are achievable, and the timeline is realistic.

Set Appropriate Image Specifications

As you connect with a printer, be sure your images match the required specifications.

Pixels per inch (or PPI) is the standard measurement for image resolution. PPI refers to the density of pixels per square inch of space they occupy. The higher the PPI, the sharper your image will appear as a large-format graphic. As a general rule, most commercially printed materials require at least 300 PPI.

The viewing distance required for your project can be a factor in selecting the appropriate specs.

Select Clear and Legible Fonts

Since most large-format products are meant to be viewed from a distance, fonts are a big deal.

Usually, sans-serif fonts are easier to read than script or serif fonts. Fonts that are too bold or have wide spacing between letters are also very difficult to read when viewed from afar. To check your font’s legibility, take a few steps back from your computer and evaluate from a different perspective.

Limit the number of fonts you use, and don’t crowd the design!

Choose Your File Formats

There are generally two file types in large-format printing: EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) and TIFF (Tagged Image File Format).

EPS – such as .eps or .ai files – can contain both text and graphics and are a better option for vector images, which use algorithms to increase an image size (rather than pixels), which preserve image quality when scaled up.

TIFF files are best for high-quality graphics, with color depths ranging from 1 to 24 bits. They can also support special Adobe features like layering and transparency.

Not sure which format is best? Your printer can help and may even have software presets they can send you in advance. No matter which file type you select, don’t flatten the original file before sending it to print. Keep an editable file to make the design and printing process easier!

Get Color Samples

Did you know there are two primary ways of displaying colors?

Anything designed for a screen – such as digital banners or a website – uses an RGB (red, green, blue) color model, while printed materials use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). RGB looks great on a screen but can look dull when printed, so you can save yourself extra hassle by converting your design file color to CMYK before you begin. If you haven’t, double-check with your printer about how to proceed from where you’re at.

Amplify Your Voice

Large-format printing offers huge promotional potential for your business.

But it can be a big investment, which is why it’s important to get things right the first time. Whatever your large-format printing needs, our experienced team can help! Whether you’re looking to build brand identity or bring curb appeal to your business, upgrade your customer experience with magnificent large-scale visuals.

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Do you ever find pleasure in the chiming of a grandfather clock or in honking geese as they migrate for the winter?

Repetition is therapeutic.

Rituals provide structure and something to hold on to, and they free us from the tyranny of choices and chaos. Repetition can help complicated pieces of music, movies, or books reveal the depths of their richness. And repetition in design adds consistency, beauty, and unity.

Strong designs repeat some aspect or element throughout the entire piece. The recurring element may be a bold font, a thick line, a snappy bullet icon, a repeating color or page layout, or anything that a reader will visually recognize.

From business cards to complex multi-page booklets, subtle repetition is a visual cue that ties every piece together. Want to be more intentional in your repetitive elements? Here are some options to try:

Headlines and Subheads

All text starts somewhere, and text banners are a perfect way to add graphic unity.

Are all the headlines in your newsletter 14-point Times Bold? How about investing in a very bold sans serif and making all your heads something like 16-point Mikado Ultra? Take the repetition that’s already part of the project and elevate it, making it stronger and more dynamic.

This adds beauty to the page and anchors readers in a framework of ideas.

Rule Bars or Page Numbers

When creating multi-page publications, it should be perfectly obvious that pages 2 and 12 are part of the same piece.

Beyond similar layouts, adding simple elements like rule bars and page numbers can bring harmony to your design. Try a thick, heavy rule bar on the top of each page and a narrow bar of the same color at the bottom. Label your pages with more than just numbers; design these digits with heavy fonts, fun shadow boxes or slashes, or print them vertically by rotating them 90 degrees.

Recurring Shapes

Patterns are a pleasing way to add visual continuity to flyers, reports, or even product packaging. Here are three ideas:

  1. If you choose a branch as one of your central graphics, you might add smaller leaves throughout the document (as column markers, page number outlines, or bullet icons, for example).
  2. Add colored waves behind the text that repeat in variations of your color palette or in repeating style (like a freeform eggplant shape) throughout the document.
  3. Splatter your text across a subtle background of grid and dot patterns.

Playful Characters or Color Matching

Not everything needs to be serious!

Have a little fun by adding repetitive elements that have nothing to do with your page’s purpose. Add funky bird caricatures, petroglyph characters, or a toss of confetti. Borrow the colors in these images and match or complement them with handles in your text.

Feel free to add something completely new simply for the purpose of repetition!

Consistency Counts

Don’t underestimate the power of the visual interest of your pages.

The repetition of your work will eliminate chaos and add beauty to your work. Think of repetition as consistency, but push those existing patterns a bit farther. Can you turn some of your repetitive elements into a part of the conscious design strategy? Take a unifying graphic and create spinoffs of this concept to bring subtle accents to each page.

Sound time-consuming? It’s worth the effort! Repetition matters because when a piece looks more interesting, it is more likely to be read.

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Imagine a college campus on a warm fall day, as freshmen are moving into the dorms for the first time.

There are loads of students buzzing around and getting settled. As they unpack and get their bearings in a new community, many realize they’ve forgotten a lamp or shelf to make their dorm room a bit cozier. No problem! A strategic, targeted digital ad whisks across their screen on move-in day.

Two days later, a mailed piece is sent featuring lamps, rugs, and closet accessories. This venue’s campaign (a combination of digital and print marketing) snags interest in a fleeting moment then follows this digital hook with a more robust mailed piece.

The Successful Marriage of Digital and Print

Print marketing is powerful. Digital marketing is powerful. When you combine them… well, the result is dynamic.  

Want to create a more strategic relationship between your print and digital marketing efforts? Here are four strategies to build momentum:

1. Create Distinct Online Landing Pages

Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).

While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page is slightly different. A landing page:

–Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources

–Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action

–Stays focused on a single topic or offer

–Omits or downplays site navigation options

Beyond using narrow landing pages to evaluate your print marketing, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.

2. Use Digital Opt-ins for Direct Mail

Instead of asking someone to sign up for your email campaign the next time they visit your website, why not ask them to sign up for a direct mail newsletter?

Unlike email (which can easily go straight to a junk folder), a direct mail campaign engages people through tactile, memorable, physical marketing pieces. There’s something special about receiving a thoughtful newsletter or meandering through a well-designed catalog.

Instead of opting toward email, build stronger connections with your customers outside the screen.

3. Combine In-Store and Social Displays

Live events provide great opportunities to build strong relationships with customers – particularly in our experience-driven culture.

At your next event, distribute valuable coupons or great giveaway items after advertising through social media ahead of time. Post fun selfie displays (like clever photobooths or imaginative backgrounds) that people can post using event-specific hashtags. Or give gift cards and freebies to those who check in at your kiosk and follow you on social media.

4. Add QR Codes to Your Direct Mail, Brochures, and Displays

Today QR Codes (those funny-looking square boxes that look like over-sized bar codes) have many uses, including marketing, product labeling, ticketing, and more.

QR codes can be used as a compact way to deliver loads of information, and you can use one in any situation where you want to send people to a specific website. Add QR codes to your brochures, direct mail, business cards, in-store displays, or even to customized client birthday cards.

This lead generator can be used to push a new promotion, link to an instructional video, solicit reviews, incentivize subscription renewals, or prompt people to download your app. 

Customers on the Move

As people hop between on- and offline worlds, businesses must provide an increasingly cohesive, personalized experience.

Combining your print and digital marketing can build momentum while providing users a streamlined customer experience. Employ this customer-oriented strategy to ensure your brand receives a multi-fold return on your marketing investment.

 

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Have you ever run your hand over an antique, textured wallpaper?

With its authentic sense of depth and detail, you almost can’t help but touch it. The raised relief is as appealing to your imagination as it is to your fingertips.

Embossing has a similar effect. Embossing and debossing are two print techniques used to add texture to a design. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the material’s surface (but might protrude somewhat on the reverse side). These popular finishing techniques – used for business cards, menus, invitations, foil stickers, notepads, and more – are ideal for bringing a fresh, contemporary look.

Take Center Stage

Embossing elevates your design from the background and can be used to create geometric patterns, add borders, or produce a custom seal for product packaging.

The texture and sculptural quality that embossing creates makes for a memorable user experience. Add elegance and stateliness to your next project with one of these beautiful techniques:

1. Blind Embossing

Blind embossing uses custom-made dies to create a raised surface according to the design.

Blind embossing refers to a stamped design without metallic leaf or ink (like plain textured letters with a page), giving a base-relief effect. One way to make blind embossing stand out even more is to use textured paper. Since the area around the embossing will be pressed smooth, this creates more of a contrast.

2. Combination Embossing

As its name suggests, this type of die combines multiple effects (like embossing and foil stamping) into one process.

The combination die has a cutting edge around the perimeter to cleanly break the excess foil away from the embossed area. Given the unbeatable finish and fine detail of this element, it is a natural choice when printing elegant crests, fancy logos, or intricate type for business cards, letterheads,

3. Single-Level Embossing

This process uses a die that changes the surface of the paper at only one level.

Since the die needed for this kind of embossing is simple, it is the most affordable embossing option.

4. Multi-Level Embossing

This process uses a die with several distinct levels to create a sculptured impression or a more detailed texture.

Multi-level embossing kicks things up a notch by changing the surface of the paper at several planes. This makes the technique popular for multi-dimensional shapes, landscapes, or images with unique details (such as leaves or feathers).

5. Sculptured Die

This kind of die requires custom hand tooling to create levels and details for an emboss that resembles a bas-relief sculpture, a figure that is raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect.

Like a piece of metal leaping off the paper, the effect is striking and lifelike. While sculptured embossing is more expensive, it is absolutely gorgeous for creating custom pictures, shapes, 3D logos, faces, animals, or landscapes.  

Because this die requires someone to create it by hand – usually based on an image provided – this method is more expensive.

6. Bevel-Edge Dies

Want to add sophistication to your project?

Beveled dies bring a softened, refined look to your shapes and letters, adding a curve or edge to each character (typically at 30 to 60 degrees). The broader the angle, the greater the illusion of depth.

Create a Timeless Treasure

New trends take shape every day, and you can make a bold statement with existing techniques that give your print materials a sleek twist.

While embossing was originally found mostly in personalized stationery, today, raised elements can be used in envelope flaps, business cards, packaging, hang tags, and more. Great designs mix the old and the new to create timeless print pieces your clients will love!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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In 2011, Matt Salzberg was a restless associate at a Silicon Valley investment firm. He and his friend Ilia Papas wanted to create a business and were intrigued by food.

“We both loved food,” Salzberg said. “We liked trying new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, but we found it really inaccessible to cook at home. It was expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to find recipes that we trusted.”

The duo tried a few ideas before landing on the one that became Blue Apron: give people an easy way to make dinner using chef-recommended recipes and the fresh, precisely measured ingredients they’d need. By August 2012, the team was shipping recipes to early testers. Three years later, Blue Apron delivered millions of meals to monthly subscribers, the company valued at a whopping $2 billion!

Why Niche Markets Are More Than Skin Deep

Initially, some scoffed at the thought of paying restaurant prices for something you labored to cook at home.

But they overlooked Blue Apron’s unique advantage: appealing to a unique, target group of “foodies” who loved high-end meals but relished the opportunity to cook them at home. Blue Apron found a niche in the market that catapulted them to exponential growth and national exposure.

A niche market is a focused, targetable portion of a broader market in which specialized products or services can be sold. Establishing a niche market helps businesses gain competitive advantages. One way to succeed in connecting with your niche market is to examine your target customers’ psychographics.

Psycho WHAT? Finding the “Why” Behind the “Buy”

Psychographics refers to people’s qualitative characteristics.

While demographics analyze quantitative traits like age, gender, or income status, psychographics focuses on personality, opinions, attitudes, values, activities, and lifestyle. While demographics addresses the “who,” psychographics targets the “why.” What prompts people to purchase, and how do their values, beliefs, or worldviews drive these choices?

Here’s a car sales example. While BMW and Mercedes might sell a very similar product, each is constructed and marketed to the persona of two different niche markets. BMW often seeks to connect with customers who are fearless, young-minded, and successful. The company even sponsored some James Bond movies to “cast” BMW into a sexy, sophisticated starring role. On the other hand, Mercedes tends to target high-minded customers with an interest in wealth (specifically those with a more classic, conservative style) using taglines like “The Best – Or Nothing.”

Research shows that highly targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to customer wants, needs, and beliefs can increase conversion rates by 40 percent. If this is true, the most important step in your next marketing campaign is to gather this data on your audience!

Sound challenging? It doesn’t have to be! Information on demographics is pretty easy to obtain. Here are a few areas you can probe for this information:

  • Client interviews
  • Customer surveys (included printed options or JotForm-style digital tools)
  • Market research firms
  • Feedback from your service team to provide (like key phrases, FAQs, and the language they hear customers use during daily interactions)
  • Facebook Analytics (set up a Business Manager account and install Facebook Pixel on your website to collect free data from the “Measure & Report” section)
  • Google Analytics (for a soft start, access the “demographics overview” by selecting “reporting” from the drop-down menu in the top left of the Analytics interface; then select “Demographics > Overview” under USER in the left navigation bar)

By segmenting your audience and tailoring content for specific groups, you can convert prospects into customers in a compelling, cost-effective way. 

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