WWTT? 4 Years of Reviewing Marketing Campaigns

It’s another revolution around the sun, and I have spent another year looking at marketing campaigns, talking about what I think works really well, and the things that are less than stellar for “What Were They Thinking?”

It’s another revolution around the sun, and I have spent another year looking at marketing campaigns, talking about what I think works really well, and the things that are less than stellar. And while “What Were They Thinking?” formats have switched a bit to include more written content alongside video, it’s still been a pleasure to dig into the marketing creative being put before consumers on a daily basis.

During that time, I’ve looked at Burger King’s Moldy Whopper campaign, discussed creative marketing from a cemetery, and shared how Pedigree helped get some shelter dogs their forever homes during the pandemic.

And of course, who could forget about the marketing campaign that married a box of House Wine with Cheez-It? Absolute proof that if you tweet about something you love enough, you might be heard:

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Or what about that time Popeyes kicked off the Chicken Wars … then ran out of chicken? (I still haven’t tried that sandwich yet.) While fans of the chicken restaurant tweeted excitedly about the new sandwich last summer, Popeyes’ own tweet about the new sandwich is what caused Chik-fil-A, Wendy’s, and other restaurants to jump online to tout that their sandwiches were better.

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The past 12 months of marketing campaign coverage has brought my total up to 158 videos and 32 posts, and I’m excited to see what the next 12 months will bring for “What Were They Thinking?” What will be the new marketing campaigns that will cross my path? How will marketers come out of our current hot mess of a world (thanks to COVID-19) and find new and creative ways to connect with consumers?

In the words of my favorite TV president, Jed Bartlet: “What’s next?”

If you have a marketing campaign you think I should discuss — whether it’s your own or that of a peer’s — drop me a line at mward@napco.com. I’m especially interested in campaigns that feature innovative print marketing as part of the overall omnichannel marketing strategy!

6 Reasons Why Print Marketing Is Thriving

A few years ago, you might have heard marketers claiming we were facing the end of an era for print. Online marketing is cheap, available to almost any business owner, and capable of reaching a global audience, so it seemed like the natural order of things for print marketing to die out. But this isn’t the case at all.

A few years ago, you might have heard marketers claiming we were facing the end of an era for print. Online marketing is cheap, available to almost any business owner, and capable of reaching a global audience, so it seemed like the natural order of things for print marketing to die out. But this isn’t the case at all.

Print advertising spending has dropped only slightly in the past several years, and is projected to remain stable at roughly $24 billion per year in 2021 and beyond. Business owners are still relying on print marketing to spread word about their businesses, despite the advantages of digital marketing strategies. But why is this the case?

Lower Costs

First, the cost of printing has dramatically decreased over the past couple of decades, thanks in part to the availability of online services. Printing a brochure online, for example, is much cheaper than printing one at your local office supply shop. That’s because printing companies have invested in new equipment that can operate much more efficiently, and rely on digital files and tools to facilitate more efficient production. This is especially true of higher-run orders, where businesses can decrease their per-unit price to absurdly low levels. Ultimately, this keeps printed advertising strategies in line with digital marketing strategies in terms of cost.

Higher Accessibility

Printed materials also are more accessible than they’ve ever been in the past, again thanks to the prevalence of online tools. Most major printing companies offer online platforms where business owners can create an account, log in, manage their ongoing materials, lay out exactly how they want their items to look, and order something new with the click of a button. Rather than dealing with a salesperson or trying to navigate the complex world of technical printing requirements, they can navigate thousands of options in a simple, consolidated interface. This makes print more appealing than ever.

Mutual Existence

Traditional advertising and online marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. Naysayers proclaiming the end of traditional marketing tactics tended to assume that if a business was spending $60,000 a year on print marketing materials, they would soon shift to spend $60,000 a year on online marketing strategies. But this hasn’t been the case; instead, businesses would often split their budgets, spending $40,000 on print marketing and $20,000 on new online strategies. In some cases, businesses would simply increase their total budget, retaining their $60,000 traditional spending and experimenting with an additional $20,000 for online techniques. The success of online marketing in no way overrules or negates the power of printed materials.

Consumer Preferences

It’s also important to note that not everyone prefers consuming material in a digital format. About 10% of the U.S. population doesn’t use the Internet, basically rendering them unreachable through digital means. In addition to that, some people either prefer or are more easily persuaded by material that comes to them in a printed format; for example, they may like flipping through the pages of a physical booklet rather than browsing through online pages.

This factor is somewhat dependent on your target demographics. If your audience strongly prefers printed materials, or is better influenced by them, there’s no reason to switch to digital marketing.

Local Visibility

Printed ads tend to be more approachable for local businesses; it’s easier to distribute printed flyers and booklets around a neighborhood than it is to climb the search engine rankings for keyword terms related to your city (though this may also be possible). Accordingly, new businesses trying to cater to a local population tend to favor traditional, print-based advertising methods.

New Techniques and Integrations

It should also be known that the world of print marketing today is very different than it was 20 years ago. New techniques, and new integrations with other marketing technologies make it much more versatile—and powerful. For example, thanks to digital lists and inventive printing techniques, you can customize your printed ads with the individual names of your intended recipients. You can also use QR codes or other tactics to send your printed ad recipients to an online or digital destination.

The Caveats

Of course, this isn’t to say that print marketing is a perfect strategy in the modern era, or that it should be favored over online marketing. There are a wide range of tactics available, in both digital and printed formats, and how your business performs depends not only on which tactics you choose, but how well you execute them. A good high-level strategy, backed with research and grounded in creativity, will always succeed more than a poorly planned one, regardless of the specific tactics used to execute them. Keep that in mind as you plan your next strategy—and how your campaigns might evolve in the future.

Omnichannel Marketing Is Preferred by 85% of Consumers

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing from the CMO Council. She shared findings from a recent study done by the CMO Council in partnership with Pitney Bowes titled “Critical Channels of Choice.” The study surveyed 2,000 consumers across five generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation).

According to Miller, “Everyone assumes that Millennials and Gen Zers are all digital and that is the best way, and in some instances the only way, to communicate with them. The most critical finding from the study indicated that the channel of choice was in fact, omnichannel.” Consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store location.

When asked to describe their communication preferences, consumers overwhelmingly agreed that one path to the brand simply isn’t enough … they want them all. Some 85% of consumers surveyed agreed that their ideal channel is actually a blend of channels, opting for a mix of both digital and physical experiences (Figure 1).

According to survey respondents, consumers prefer to have omnichannel marketing efforts directed toward them.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Miller explained that print is alive and well. She said, “Perhaps most telling of this openness for omnichannel is that printed mail, considered by some to be one of the more ‘traditional’ channels in today’s marketing mix, is essential. It continues to be a highly valued channel of choice. One out of every three consumers surveyed expected printed mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. Brands need to reevaluate how they are leveraging and deploying all of the tools available in an omnichannel toolkit.”

While you might expect a divide across generations in terms of channel preferences, that isn’t the case. The research found that all respondents, regardless of age demographic, prefer a blend of digital and physical channels to pave their communications journey with a brand (Figure 2).

Based on key findings, there is a preference for a blend of digital and physical communications in marketing efforts, regardless of age.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The study also pointed out that the deciding factors for channel usage by consumers include convenience, reliability, speed, personalization, and trust (Figure 3). Whether it is print, social media, or email, consumers are looking for channels that meet their expectations.

Critical attributes of must have channels.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The Bottom Line

Given the drive for a seamless omnichannel experience, your customers will be looking for partners to help deliver the solutions consumers want. Print will continue to be integral to the marketing mix, but your offerings will need to be blended with social, mobile, and online channels, as well as brick and mortar point of purchase solutions. Service providers need to evaluate the role they want to play in an omnichannel world.

WWTT? Death Gets Good Advertising From Lake View Cemetery

It’s October, the start of the spooky season, and a time to enjoy the dark and macabre … and possibly also the uplifting? While many feel that cemeteries are for the dead and/or mourning, Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland has a more positive outlook on death and final resting grounds (and it’s not just because the nonprofit cemetery has some skin — or bones — in the game.)

Lake View, while being an active cemetery accepting new business, is also a tourist destination for those who want to tour the beautifully kept grounds spanning over 200 acres; visit the graves of famous Americans such as Eliot Ness, John D. Rockefeller, and President James A. Garfield; or attend an event ranging from walking tours to 5K runs. You can even have your wedding at Lake View.

Credit: Brokaw

To get the word out that Lake View is both a final and tourist destination, the cemetery worked with agency Brokaw to produce an omnichannel campaign featuring print, digital, social media, as well as digital OOH.

The digital messaging is on point, showing personality and a sense of humor.

According to Brokaw, the cemetery also wanted to adjust the perception that Lake View was only a resting place the for the wealthy. President and CEO of the Lake View Cemetery Association Kathy Goss is quoted:

“This [campaign] is a great example of how, together with Brokaw, we’ve completely reinvented our brand from being perceived as an elitist cemetery to a place that celebrates all walks of life and beyond.”

The ads run the gamut from the importance of end-of-life planning to tourism opportunities, and according to Goss, the campaign has resulted in perceptions have shifting 100% and sales increasing $1.9 million over the past three years.

Credit: Brokaw

In my opinion, it seems like this campaign is clearly working based on the results. It’s not only to brought in money, but adjusted how the cemetery — and perhaps death — is perceived by the Cleveland public. As someone who enjoys visiting famous cemeteries whenever I travel, I appreciate the effort Lake View is making to position itself as a place to visit, while also not ignoring its need to keep up “new” business.

What do you think, marketers? Leave me a comment below!

When Direct Mail Gets Digital, Brands Unite

In a world where 90% of brand contact can happen in digital channels, how you use print can be the difference between marketing wins and wasted money. Smart brands today are using digital print and direct mail to bring many of their online marketing techniques into the real world and their customers’ homes.

When Target Marketing started some 40 years ago (then called ZIP), direct mail was the smart marketer’s channel — the one where you could execute scientific marketing, measure results to a “gnat’s eyebrow,” and reasonably predict ROI on every effort. Times have changed, the world’s gone digital, and so has marketing. But print is evolving along with the rest of our digital world. Digital printing is a real thing, and the impact those technologies are having on direct mail is phenomenal.

In a world where 90% of brand contact can happen in digital channels, how you use print can be the difference between marketing wins and wasted money. Smart brands today are using digital print to bring many of their online marketing techniques into the real world and their customers’ homes.

We’ve been working with a sister publication, Brand United, to cover how brands are using these new technologies in their print marketing and direct mail. And we’ve covered some very interesting cases. Now we’re looking for more.

What Digital Print Marketing Can Achieve

You can click over to Brand United right not to see how brands are making an impact with digital print. Including:

How the luxury home goods brand Amara creates an award-winning customer experience through its personalized package inserts.

How the premium pet brand Mr. Dog uses print-on-demand, digitally customized packaging to bring its unique brand voice to consumers at home and on retail store shelves.

And how the Delta Group used a must-open digital direct mail piece to double response rate and increase the average donation by 40%.

In addition, the site is full of supporting “Pro Tip” articles that’ll show you how to get those kinds of results in your own marketing.

So, if you’re wondering why we talk about direct mail so much on Target Marketing, head over the Brand United to get a taste of everything you can do with today’s high-tech, digital printing and direct mail.

Got a Digital Print Story to Tell?

And if you’ve had success with these kinds of tactics yourself, we would love to hear from you!

Brand United is always on the lookout for new case studies about how brands are using these tactics to fuel their marketing success. If you’ve got a good story to tell around digital print and direct mail, send me an email at tmcgee@napco.com, and we’ll work on getting that onto Brand United.