26 April, 2016 09:36

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Lowered Postal Rates Mean Now is the Best Time to Give Direct Mail a Try

To say that most small businesses have something of a love/hate relationship with the United States Postal Service is an understatement. USPS is one of those necessary things to get a wide range of direct and print mail marketing materials out into the world. With a decade of increasing prices chipping away at return on investment little by little, it’s no wonder many organizations started to skimp on direct mail spending in favor of other "cheaper" solutions in the interim. Now, however, the tides may be truly changing as postal rates are on the decline with no clear end in sight. If you’ve been waiting to jump back into the direct mail world, now might be the PERFECT time to give it a try for a number of reasons.

Postal Rates: What is Going On?

On April 10, 2016, the cost to ship a first-class letter in the United States fell to just $0.47 – a rare phenomenon in recent memory. Additionally, the price of sending a postcard dropped a penny, international letters fell $0.05, and even coveted "Forever Stamps" saw a decrease in cost at the same time. These are the most direct mail and small business-friendly prices to come along since the beginning of the 2008 recession.

Direct Mail Doesn’t Just Work – It Works Gangbusters

Despite all this, some people still refuse to give direct mail the chance it deserves because they naturally assume that digital marketing is more efficient in the tech-driven world in which we now live. After all, with people glued to their cell phones day in and day out, how much of an impact can direct mail really have?

The answer is "a great big one."

According to a study conducted by Compu-Mail.com, direct mail is still used heavily in an iPhone and Droid-centric world: approximately 43% of all local retail advertising still falls into this category. Not only that, but young adults are actually the largest group to respond to direct mail the most, particularly among the millennial crowd. According to a recent International Communications Research survey, approximately 73% of consumers actually prefer direct mail over alternative advertising methods. This is largely due to the fact that an equal number of respondents said that direct mail marketing was a much more personable experience than internet-based materials. Keep in mind that millennials think junk mail happens in their inbox, not their mailbox.

So, if the reasons why you had overlooked direct mail in the past were because "it was too expensive" and "you didn’t think it worked," congratulations: those two reasons just evaporated in an instant.

No two businesses are created in quite the same way, and what works for one might not work for another – especially in terms of an overall marketing strategy. However, with the recent decline of USPS postal rates, now would be the absolute perfect time to give direct mail a try if it’s something that you’ve flirted with in the past, but ultimately overlooked for whatever reason. Now, is a terrific chance to really dip your proverbial toe in the water and to see just how direct mail can benefit your organization, especially if you’re doing so for the first time. These declining rates most likely aren’t going to stick around forever, so call Grant Printing and create your direct mail campaign today.

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Jim Grant
www.GrantPrinting.com
6109 Pembroke Road
Hollywood FL 33023-2213
954-962-1020

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Future of Search Rankings

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The Future of Search Rankings: What Companies Like Google Are Going to Focus on Next

Starting in 2011, Google has made a series of regular updates to its search algorithm to determine exactly how sites appear in a results page for a particular string. Gone are the days where the site with the highest volume of relevant keywords "won." Panda penalized spam-filled sites that offered little in the way of actual content in favor of valuable information that actually satisfied a particular search. Google’s changes have also focused on things like maintaining a proper balance between genuine content and advertising and pushing sites to offer social media integration and more. They’ve even given an edge to local businesses, leveling the playing field and essentially making sure that even small businesses can evenly compete with large, national corporations that can outspend them day in and day out.

What Does the Future Hold?

If you take a look at all of the high profile changes that Google has made to its ranking algorithm in recent years, what is the one, underlying thing that you see in common? Google has regularly focused on not just the volume of content that marketers are putting out into the world but the quality of content.

Simple: Google is focused on creating the best user experience possible. This means that you should be focused on this, too.

Google is Trying to Train You To Value UI

Google doesn’t just want to make sure that people can find the information they’re looking for – they want to make sure they have a pleasant experience while they do it. Therefore, it’s easy to see where this is probably all going: user retention. It’s easy to picture the world just a few short years from now where having high-quality content doesn’t matter as much as content that people are actively consuming. Google can easily start paying attention to site statistics like bounce rates to glean more insight into how its users behave when interacting with the content they’re being served. Did you write an objectively great blog post but, for some reason, users are still leaving your page after just ten seconds? Google could easily rank your site lower than a competitor with a higher session length as a result. Why is your bounce rate so high? You’re not sure, but you’d better find out – and fast.

Many of these changes that Google and other engines have implemented to their algorithm are designed to lean more and more on the users themselves to provide the information needed to identify high-quality content and weed out low-quality alternatives. It creates something of a symbiotic circle between search engines and internet users – the users identify the content worth experiencing, Google recognizes it, rinse, repeat. Because of this, the key to marketing in this type of world becomes clear: pay attention to what the users want and do whatever you have to do to give it to them. Google wants to give its users exactly what they want when they want it, how they want it. If you’re a marketer with any type of presence in the digital age, that should be your goal, too.

Jim Grant
www.GrantPrinting.com
6109 Pembroke Road
Hollywood FL 33023-2213
954-962-1020

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20 April, 2016 09:14

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Demystifying Marketing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

With the existing and ever-remerging social media outlets available to us, the confusion as to how to use them can sometimes make us wish for the days when only local newspaper ads and the yellow pages were used for getting our name out there. Before you throw your hands up and invest in a sandwich sign board, let’s break down the mysteries that surround the three most popular social media platforms you can use successfully to grow your business.

Facebook is probably the first platform you think of when you hear social media. It’s not surprising, considering that, as of January of this year, it has over 1.5 billion monthly active users. For those of you marketing to millennials (15-34-year-olds), about 91% of them use Facebook, most likely without ever looking up from their phones. With numbers like this, if your business doesn’t have an active Facebook page with content that is updated daily, you’re seriously missing out.

Facebook is a fantastic place to post longer form statements and articles, with images and links to your business website, to drive traffic. Connecting with your prospects and clients through Facebook can benefit your business tremendously by building those critical relationships. Building followers on Facebook enables you to spread the news about your business by keeping your followers up to date on what your business is doing.

Every business needs to be actively present on Facebook to stay relevant.

Twitter, on the other hand, is a micro-blogging site that allows you to send short (140 characters) messages to potentially millions of individuals in real time. Some of the most compelling features of Twitter include:

– URL shorteners like TinyURL and Bitly – enable you to link to content on your own site without hogging all of your characters.

– Hashtags – these tiny miracle workers enable you to create or insert your message into a worldwide conversation, allowing you to reach individuals that aren’t necessarily following you, but are following the hashtag you are using.

– Trend watch – by looking at what’s trending on Twitter, you can easily tailor your content to the actively followed conversations (hashtags) and get in on the hype.

Businesses that can really benefit the most from this include mobile businesses such as restaurants, retail outlets, and food trucks. Imagine Tweeting out your current lunch special with coupons, or upcoming locations. Nothing says love like showing up to your location and seeing a hundred customers lined up and waiting for you!

Instagram
In contrast to Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a photo-sharing app that enables you to put out rich and vibrant images to promote your business. Instagram is actually considered the single most important social network out there, so businesses that target the teen market absolutely must have an Instagram presence.

Instagram allows you to choose from a variety of filters when posting your photos. Be sure to use the same filters every time you post so that you can create your cohesive brand identity on Instagram. This will help users engage with your business. If they know it’s you, they’ll stop and like your image or make a comment.

If you’re new to Instagram, you may be associating it with a great big Selfie-Fest, but for businesses, that’s not the case. Posting aesthetically pleasing images of your products, your office, and things that may be associated with your product or service help you build your brand and show the world what you do.

Ultimately, the platform that will be most effective for your marketing efforts depends primarily on your audience, their interests, and the type of content you plan to disperse.

Jim Grant
www.GrantPrinting.com
6109 Pembroke Road
Hollywood FL 33023-2213
954-962-1020

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5 Key Factors to Achieving Your Goals

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Successful Secrets to Achieving Your Business Goals

Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to rock at getting things accomplished, while others seem to dream big but never really get anywhere? It’s not luck and it’s no accident. Successful entrepreneurs know the secret to setting goals and making their dreams come true – they know about SMART goal setting.

You may be thinking, “Well, I’m smart…why aren’t my dreams coming true with my existing goals?” The trouble is not your I.Q. The trouble is likely with your goals. Successful entrepreneurs set goals with 5 key factors. Their goals are:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Timely

Let’s break down what all that means…

Specific Goals
Goals that are specific address the what, why, and how of the goal. An example might look something like this: “Increase our Facebook followers to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign.” Breaking that down further, the “what” of this goal is increasing your Facebook followers. The “why” is to reach more clients. The “how” is by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign.

Measurable Goals
Goals should be measurable so that you can have real evidence of whether you’ve accomplished your goal. To build on our prior goal, we could add the following: “Increase our Facebook followers by 50% to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign." This way we know where we started and where we want to go, and can also gauge our progress based on interim numbers.

Achievable Goals
We’ve all made goals in our lives that have been clearly unachievable, like losing 50 pounds in 10 days. There’s just no way that’s going to happen without us hacking off a leg, right? On the other hand, we don’t want to limit ourselves. So, it’s best to find a balance as to what will stretch your company a bit while still being achievable so you don’t give up. You want to keep yourself and your employees and partners motivated.

Realistic Goals
In setting goals, we want the focus to be realistic or results-focused goals. That means focusing on the results of our efforts, not necessarily the activities we undertake to get there.

Timely Goals
Finally, you want your goal to be fulfilled in a discrete period of time. Goals without deadlines just turn into dreams if you keep pushing things off until tomorrow. So, let’s go ahead and bring this all together. Let’s say you’ve got 5,000 Facebook followers and it took you 1 year to get that many followers. Now, you want to increase that by 50%. Applying the above, our SMART Goal is now:

“Increase our Facebook followers by 50% in 6 months to reach more clients by implementing a Facebook advertising campaign."

You’ve now put an achievable deadline for this goal of 6 months, which seems reasonable given the time it took you to get the first 5,000 followers and the fact that you’ve got some traction now to build on.

Try this technique with the rest of your goals, no matter how small they may be, and you can start tracking and achieving your business goals like a pro.

Jim Grant
www.GrantPrinting.com
6109 Pembroke Road
Hollywood FL 33023-2213
954-962-1020

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Quality Marketing

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Frequency in Marketing: Striking a Balance Between Quantity and Quality

As marketing professionals, we hear it time and again – one of the fastest ways to turn a prospective client into someone that wants nothing to do with your business is to contact them too many times in too short of a period. People don’t like to be bombarded with marketing materials – it makes them feel overwhelmed and can be quite off-putting. Despite this, quantity is still important, as you always want to keep your brand at the forefront of their minds. Contacting too frequently can give the perception that your materials lack quality, however, which is why striking the right balance between the two is so important.

The Google of it All

Search engine giant Google has made a number of significant changes to its algorithm in recent years, starting with Panda in 2011. These updates have regularly been designed to penalize low-quality sites that spam the Internet with content, weeding them out of the top portions of search results to be replaced with sites that are actually relevant to what Google’s own users are really looking for. Despite this, Google still places a high priority on sites that update regularly. A site that posts one blog post every day is seen as more authoritative than one that only posts once a month.

So what, exactly, is this trying to tell us when it comes to quality versus quantity?

The answer is simple: while both are important, your marketing campaigns need to be crafted with an eye on relevance and value first, everything else second. Period. End of story. Google’s own representatives have said time and again that the search engine is designed in such a way that so long as you are constantly putting well-designed, high-value content out into the world, everything else will essentially take care of itself. We’re inclined to agree, but we’re willing to take it one step further – we don’t believe that this logic begins and ends with Google.

Taking This With You Into the Print World

Even though Google’s stance on quality versus quantity exists exclusively in the digital world, it’s still a great set of best practices to take with you when crafting print marketing materials, too. By taking the rules and guidelines set forth by search engines like Google and applying them to all of your marketing materials regardless of channel, you’re building a much stronger foundation by which you can put your best foot forward to both prospecting and existing customers alike.

Essentially, just because you won’t get penalized by Google for sending a customer a print flyer through the post office twice a week doesn’t mean that you should. Google’s "rules" are built on a tremendous amount of study into things like customer preferences and buying habits. The playing field may change (as your print materials don’t affect your SEO in any way), but the logic that those guidelines were founded on remains the same. Google spent a huge amount of money figuring out that Mark from Atlanta doesn’t like it when businesses send him high volumes of low-value materials twice a week, so use what Google is trying to tell you to your advantage.

Frequency in marketing is always a delicate balance to strike. Quantity is important, as making contact too infrequently can quickly cause your brand to be forgotten by even the most loyal customers. You should never place a bigger emphasis on volume than on quality, however, which is why quality should always be your number one concern. If you focus on creating the best marketing content that you can first, everything else will fall into place pretty naturally.

Jim Grant
www.GrantPrinting.com
6109 Pembroke Road
Hollywood FL 33023-2213
954-962-1020

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