Branding

That Will Interest Your Audience

In a few of our recent blogs, Buzzword Alert: Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) and The Pros and Cons of EDDM, we gave you insight into what EDDM is, as well as its pros, cons, and alternatives. In this blog, we’re going over the top 5 best EDDM campaign ideas – in the case that you do choose to go the EDDM route as a part of your marketing strategy.

An EDDM Refresh

USPS’ Every Door Direct Mail service is a blanketed mailing approach sent to all of the potential customers near your business (depending on the routes you choose). Utilizing the provided mapping tool, that provides demographic data information based on census reports, you can choose the routes you’d like your mail piece delivered. Additionally, you can schedule this delivery for whenever it makes sense for your business. The mail you send can be self-designed, or you can work with a company like Strata to design it effectively and professionally. Learn more about what EDDM is at this blog, or explore its pros and cons, here.

Now that we’ve given you a refresh on what EDDM is – let’s dive into some effective campaigns to get you the most ROI.

Campaign Idea 1: Generosity

One of the best ways to entice customers is to provide a generous discount or offer. Or, simply giving them a small something that’s free – whether it’s small and attached to your mailer or provided through a sign-up or scheduled meeting – goes a long way.

Nothing gets customers in the door more than coupons, price deductions, and rewards. Give them something to entice them to at least come in and give your business a chance – even if that’s just to get a discount or redeem an offer. It’s quite likely that once they’re in (as long as you provide good products and/or services), they’ll return.

Introducing free giveaways can pique customer interest, making them feel like you care and are willing to give them something for their attention and possible business. Plus, if the giveaway is received via an exchange, once they “sign up” or schedule a meeting, you’ll then have their information for future communication.

Campaign Idea 2: Urgency

Whether we like it or not, humans like to know what’s going on. You know the phrase – curiosity killed the cat. We get “FOMO” – the fear of missing out – more often than we’d like to admit. That’s why using a term like “save-the-date” is so effective. The potential customer will likely read the rest of the card, because they’ll want to know what’s going on in their area. When you create urgency, people feel that they need to be in-the-know and on-the-go. Obviously, you’ll need some sort of “event” to accompany this type of mailer, but it could be something as small and simple as a limited time discount week, days or day, or a grand opening or reopening.

Campaign Idea 3: Playfulness

Entertaining and playful campaigns do really well when it comes to EDDM. This could mean including a scratch off game, or poll to make the mailer interactive and exciting. Interactivity can get the customer’s attention, and maybe even cause them to feel somewhat invested in getting the answers, winning the prizes, or otherwise finding an end result.

Another way to energize your mailer? Maybe it includes some sort of pop-up upon unfolding. Or, try invisible ink, dye cuts, and other unique folds. Any of these options can help you stand out from the pack and bring out energetic playfulness in your potential customers.

Campaign Idea 4: Proximity

A great way to get customers through your doors is to emphasize how easy it is for them to do so. Focus your mailer around the idea of proximity and the ease of locating and entering your business. Be sure to include an easy-to-read map of your location(s), and add in words such as “close by”, “just an order away”, or, “just a few blocks away” if that’s possible and applicable. With this type of campaign, you can also include a limited time offer to compliment the proximity with urgency. For example, “Stop in for $10 off your order of $50, we’re right down the road”.

Campaign Idea 5: Simplicity

We’ve all heard the acronym KISS. A great campaign tactic is to keep it very simple. Most viewers don’t have the time to digest a whole mailer and all of its contents, so limited text and bold blocks of imagery and/or color can go a long way. Simply providing your store name, address, website, and some great photos and blocks of color can create mystery that speaks just as much as content. Maybe limit it to just one good coupon. This kind of mailer can create recognition and brand awareness without overloading the customer with information.

Like we’ve said before, EDDM is not for every company and its marketing strategy – but if you do choose EDDM for your next campaign, make sure you do it strategically and effectively by using one or two of the campaign ideas above. In general, don’t forget that every mailer should at the very least include contact information, a compelling call-to-action, and memorable branding.

Looking for some more in-depth help to get started? Give us a call or shoot us an email.

Is it the Right Option for You?

In a recent blog, we went over what Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) is, some of its positives and negatives, as well as some alternatives. Today, we’re diving a bit deeper into EDDM’s pros and cons so that, when you’re ready to launch your next direct mail campaign, you’re able to choose wisely.

What is EDDM Again?

Every Door Direct Mail, (better known as “EDDM”) is a blanketed mailing approach sent through USPS to potential customers near your business (aka – all of your “neighbors” nearby). You can use USPS’ provided mapping tool to select a geographic area, while viewing some demographic data based on census reports such as age-range, household size, and income. With this data in mind, you can choose what mail routes you’d like your piece delivered to – and, you guessed it, your mail gets delivered to every door. You can schedule this delivery whenever you’d like, within the parameters of the postal office.

With EDDM, you have the option of either creating the mailer design yourself, or working with a company (like Strata) to create a design that’s effective and professional. And – when using EDDM, you have two options, EDDM Retail and EDDM BMEU.

What’s EDDM Retail?

EDDM Retail is a good option for small businesses, restaurants, realtors, and local political campaigns. With this choice, you can create an account, send 200-5,000 pieces per day, per zip code, and simply drop your mailings off to the post office. You don’t need a permit with this option, and you can easily pay online or at the post office. The cost is currently $0.20 per piece.

What’s EDDM BMEU?

EDDM BMEU, on the other hand, is a good option for larger volume mailings, as there’s no volume limit and you may send to several different zip codes. As you can imagine, it’s slightly more involved than retail. You’ll need to make a Business Customer Gateway account, acquire a bulk mailing permit, and drop off your mailers to a BMEU – a large USPS mail processing center. The current cost for EDDM BMEU can be “as low as $0.168 per piece.”

The Pros of EDDM

Now that you know your EDDM options, we’ll go over the pros and cons. First – the pros. If your marketing budget is low and you’re looking for something that won’t put much of a dent in it, EDDM mailing can be a worthwhile choice. You can avoid high postage rates, generally, and postage discounts are available for most. Additionally, if your mailing is small and you’re not too concerned about a wide geographic area, you can again save on postage by opting for EDDM.

EDDM can work well for general awareness campaigns – such as showcasing a small business’ grand opening, letting people know you’re running for office, hosting a special event at a restaurant, introducing yourself as a realtor…the list goes on. If you want the general public to know about you, EDDM can help you do just that. Just make sure your business and/or brand is apparent by using quality branding and imagery, your logo(s), memorable colors and fonts, and other elements that people will take note of and will recognize if they see them again. If you’re not sure how to do this or what to include, give us a call.

The Cons of EDDM

Although EDDM is a good service that works for a lot of use-cases, it has its downfalls. With EDDM, you’re unable to really target a specified audience based on significant data, such as interests and hobbies, life changes, environment, age, income, and so on. Yes – you can find an area where many of the people meet some of these criteria, but with Every Door Direct Mail – it’s sent to exactly what it sounds like – every door. You don’t have the option to add people in or take people out if they’re in the selected demographic area and on the chosen mail routes. Therefore, you’re likely wasting paper, production, and money on people who have zero interest in your product, service, or event. You could be reaching out to people who fail to check their mail regularly, see your mailer and throw it out immediately, read it over and have no need or interest, or worse, are offended by your offering or service. What do we mean? Here are a few examples of what we liked to call “fail mail”:

  • A BBQ restaurant flyer sent to a house of vegans
  • A retirement home postcard sent to a couple in their twenties
  • A daycare service mailer sent to someone single with no children
  • A car dealership flyer sent to an eco-friendly bicyclist

Whether the “potential customer” doesn’t see it, throws it out, doesn’t want it, or is offended by it, the mailer was a waste of time, printing, and money.

On the other hand – maybe your mailer will actually interest most of your audience and you’re sending it to a large target area. Awesome! But – if your EDDM campaign is too large, you risk offsetting postage cost savings with extra production processing. Plus, paper costs right now are higher than normal due to the shortage, which could mean that printing and mailing to every door could cost you more than the response is worth.

Finally, EDDM does not provide the option to truly personalize your mailers. And, if you’ve read any of our other blogs, you know that personalization is a large part of direct mail success. In fact, a personalized CTA has been found to increase conversions by 78.5%. Without including a name, interest, favorite product, specialized offer, or personalized URL and QR code, your response rate is likely to suffer. If the mailer isn’t linked to anything else and doesn’t lead them anywhere personally specific, it’s not nearly as enticing or effective.

Next time you’re looking to send a mailer out to potential customers, fans, voters, guests, and so on, you may want to use EDDM (depending on your budget and needs), but as experts in the industry, we can say that there is often a more targeted strategy, like new mover marketing or multichannel marketing, that may work better. If you’re ready to get started on your next direct mail campaign, we’re here to help. Simply get in touch.

How to Fight it & Flourish

As spooky season approaches and Halloween is around the corner, we’re thinking a lot about our biggest fears. But today we’re not talking about ghosts or goblins or even Michael Myers. We’re talking about one of the scariest things of all to any workplace…complacency.

“Complacency is man’s biggest weakness. It creeps up on us when we least expect it.” – Jay Mullings

Even if you think your company isn’t anywhere near complacency, there’s still always room to evaluate and grow. And, you may be surprised by what’s lurking behind the door of contentment. Complacency is not only bad for your company, but good for your competition, which we’d assume will give you a bit of a fright. If employees aren’t challenged to improve, things are the way they are because it’s the “way they’ve always been”, and the company isn’t growing, it’s definitely affecting your revenue. But don’t worry – it’s never too late to change. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the best ways to avoid company complacency and ensure you’re periodically updating and enhancing your culture, practices, and marketing.

Complacency’s Cause

Complacency can sneak up on any company without warning, shielding it from growth and stifling creativity and innovation. Why? Because if companies are seemingly doing “fine” and meeting their goals on paper, they feel no “need” or urgency to change. That’s where the biggest mistake is made, because companies should always be looking to evolve and thinking about their vision for the future. If not, ideas become stale, talent becomes bored, and eventually, the company comes to a jarring halt without any clue of how they got there.

When everything seems to be going well, it can be difficult to disrupt successes. And it may feel like the right decision to let processes and practices take their course rather than think about next steps and development, but often “the riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.” Without urgency and consistency for change, employee performance shifts and can even decline. Statistics show that only 30% of employees in America are actually engaged in their work, and only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their office environment. With such low numbers already, it’s so important to keep employees excited, energized, and motivated for what they’re doing and what’s to come.

Combatting Complacency

With complacency being a bigger, scarier possibility than you may have assumed, it’s important to keep it top of mind and to make sure you’re doing your best to combat it. Start with communication of your company’s mission, vision, and values. Make sure they’re clear, known, and maybe most importantly – accurate and true. Know who you are. If you do – your employees will too, and in turn they’ll feel more connected with and motivated by your workplace. Allow employees to see their contributions to the bigger mission, and their worth as an asset to the overarching vision.

After all, having a good (and growing) company culture is key to combatting complacency and ensuring workplace satisfaction. How do you improve your culture? Many ways, but the most effective tools are company newsletters, employee highlights, group meetings, and employee appreciation. Again – make your employees feel valued, and they’ll more likely provide value.

Additionally, make sure team members feel important and part of the greater whole. Encourage managers and team members to communicate within their individual teams, and make sure responsibilities are delegated and well distributed. Employees are more likely to become bored when they’re doing the same tasks over and over, so give them room to be creative and explore new opportunities. You never know who may have the next best idea.

Lastly, be prepared for whatever may come your company’s way, and never be too afraid to challenge the status quo. If we’ve learned anything these past two years, it’s that anything can happen, and that the saying “it won’t happen to us” is just not realistic. It’s important to listen to the ideas of your employees and always be prepared for what’s to come with an open communication structure. Make sure you have multiple decision makers, not just one, and that employees feel comfortable enough to make some decisions without “permission” from a leader. Training your employees to make decisions on their own will be a key factor in combatting complacency.

Refreshing Without Fear

Almost as important as your workplace and its people is your brand and marketing. Without change and evolution, your marketing can quickly become out-of-date right under your nose (causing your employees to lack company pride and your audience to lose interest). But how do you know when it’s the right time to update your brand and marketing?

A sure sign (these days) of lack luster marketing is an absence of social platforms. Some would even say if you’re not online, you might as well not exist. And although we think that sounds a little spooky, we’ll admit that it holds some truth. If you’re hard to find and not posting relevant content and imagery, target customers may be choosing your competitors (who are more accessible and approachable) over you.

Also important to your brand and its relevance is your website. In this day and age, it’s very easy to tell when a website has been left alone so long that it’s developing cob-webs. If you’re finding that your website traffic is down and your customers aren’t interacting with it, it’s time for an upgrade. But, before any big changes, compile data and make purposeful decisions. What is your audience looking for? What do they respond well too? How can you quickly and easily get them to have interest in your company and purchase goods?

Additionally, make sure you keep your advertising and customer communication – whether digital or physical – energized and creative. Combine direct and digital marketing to reach specific audiences and keep your brand top of mind. Don’t settle for just one medium that “seems to be working” if multiple channels of communication could bring you more success.

Lastly, avoid complacency by focusing on helping the customer rather than selling to them. While the overall goal of most companies is to generate sales, it’s essential you show your customers that you care about their pain points and needs. To see all of these tactics in action, check out our recent blog on how to create successful marketing campaigns.

Company complacency can sneak up on you like a ghost in the night and lead to missed opportunities, poor customer service, and disengaged employees. Stay aware of the possibility of contentment and make sure you’re always exploring, evolving, and rising above the rest. Change is inevitable, but complacency doesn’t have to be.

For more information on what we do at Strata and how we can help you fight complacency with one of our marketing solutions, contact us today.

A Strata YouTube Channel Original

Choosing the right multichannel campaign mediums can be difficult if you don’t have a good starting foundation and the right tools. That’s why, in our most recent YouTube video, we walk you through the key things to keep in mind when making this decision, and how to pick channels that best fit your company’s marketing needs.

Evaluate Your Brand & Customers, First

Before you even look at where your audience is and what they want, look at your own brand, brand voice, offerings, and then your target audience. Once you have these nailed down, then you can think about your customers – because if you understand your customers, you can understand where it’s best to communicate with them. Get to know your customers on a deeper level through data and tracking so you can develop personas and demographics, and fully recognize their pain points, wants, and needs. Test and measure tactics, update and reaudit your customer experience, ask for customer feedback – whatever you need to do to truly know your audience and therefore get the most out of your multichannel campaign. After all, 86% of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more for products and services just to have a better customer experience. Once you know your audience, then, and only then, can you figure out exactly where to meet them on their multichannel journey.

If you want to know what comes next in choosing the right mediums of communication for your multichannel marketing campaign, click on the video below and hear more from our Marketing and Social Media Coordinator Bridget. Or, if you’d like to discuss this concept with one of our multichannel experts, contact us today to get your next (or maybe even your first) multichannel campaign started.

Not Our First Rodeo

Even though this wasn’t our first rodeo, SHSMD Connections 2021 didn’t disappoint. We had great conversations with so many show-goers, and we got to do one of our favorite things – talk new mover marketing.

In previous years, SHSMD Connections has brought quite the large crowd. Yet, with the needed precautions due to COVID-19, this year’s show created a much smaller, more intimate setting. Although we weren’t sure how the event would pan out, the smaller turnout gave Strata the chance to really chat with others in the industry, and learn more about the needs and wants of healthcare marketers.

About the Show & Our Experience

This year, two of our employees attended the conference in San Antonio, Texas from September 19-21. With Strata’s booth being front and center as guests entered the exhibit hall, our exposure was unmatched, giving us many great moments for conversation. Our bright orange and yellow (recently refreshed) colors kept the atmosphere light and fun, making it easy for the team to meet as many new contacts as possible while also connecting with familiar faces.

We’re really looking forward to seeing, post-show, how these connections flourish and how we can help healthcare marketers and others within the industry with their new mover marketing endeavors.

Our Takeaways

Our presentation of SmartMove and all that we offer was a huge success, and the feedback we were given emphasized the significant need for our services. Healthcare facilities aren’t just looking for direct marketing, but direct marketing that will make an impact and target the right people at the right time. Whether attendees were familiar with new mover marketing or not, our team educated them on Strata’s personalized touch and efficient processes.

But, not only did Strata come prepared to share our services – but prepared and excited to learn! On their breaks, the Strata team attended numerous breakout sessions and learned about everything from inclusion and diversity in the workplace, to problem solving, engagement, and leadership strategies. They even had the chance to hear from Burl Stamp, President and Founder of Stamp & Chase, who discussed how to properly and effectively engage with and lead teams, customers, and communities (especially post pandemic).

Another great session that the team partook in was Derreck Kayongo’s keynote. Derreck presented on the topic of company culture and how to tackle the subject of company diversity head on, by sharing stories of his own childhood to his own organization, the Global Soap Project. Derreck did a phenomenal job guiding the audience through diversity and inclusion problems, and how they impact the corporate bottom line. He left the crowd speechless. The team was incredibly grateful to have attended and listened in on such impactful conversations, and are so excited to not only come back with some new connections, but with takeaways to strengthen Strata’s services and culture.  

Our Final Thoughts

Overall, SHSMD 2021 was a success for Strata. While it may not have looked like conferences of years past, we’re glad our team had great conversations and made solid connections with those that could attend. Not to mention, our promo items were a hit! See you next year, SHSMD!

Didn’t get to swing by and meet us at the show? Contact us today to see how we can help!

San Antonio, Here We Come!

At Strata, one of our favorite things to do is talk marketing. We’re problem solvers, and we pride ourselves on helping industries overcome their marketing challenges. With healthcare marketing being one of our many specialties, we’re excited to announce that the Strata team is heading back to the annual SHSMD Connections Conference in San Antonio, Texas from September 19th-21st, and we couldn’t be more excited!

SHSMD? What’s That?

For those who’ve never heard of SHSMD (aka the Society for Health Care Strategy & Marketing Development), it’s an AHA professional membership group that focuses on how the industry can evolve and change with new strategies, marketing, and technology, serving more than 4,000 members.

This year, SHSMD is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their annual “Connections” conference, and we can’t wait to connect with some of the industry’s best marketing and communications strategists. It’s been two years since we’ve been able to interact with these professionals in person, and we’re excited to be able to once again inform, challenge and validate their thinking, while also learning from the conference’s guest speakers from all over the country.

What We’re Looking Forward to & What We’re Bringing

This isn’t our first rodeo (even though it’s our first time going to Texas), as we’ve attended this conference for 20+ years. However, this will be our first time back with a refreshed look, thanks to our 2020 brand refresh. As marketing experts with almost 30 years of experience, we’re excited to bring our expertise to the show, and create some new, long-lasting relationships.

It’s clear that the healthcare landscape is evolving faster than ever, and to stay competitive, hospital systems need to start looking at marketing as a strategy rather than an afterthought. We plan to go into the show with an open mindset and to educate healthcare industries on the importance of New Mover Marketing and how SmartMove can help them achieve their patient acquisition goals.

If you don’t know who (or what) we do, Strata offers a wide range of client-driven solutions to help companies solve complex marketing and communications challenges. We’re a lot of things (innovators, go-getters, marketing experts), but we’re people first—and we know you are, too. That’s why we believe the best way to help a business achieve its marketing goals is by focusing on the people who work there.

Learn More

If you’re attending this year, stop by booth 216 to learn more about how Strata can help you with your marketing efforts. We can’t wait to meet you!

If you’re not attending the upcoming conference- no worries. Contact us today to discuss your own personal marketing plan from the comfort of your own home.

Straight from Our Creative Designer

If you’ve read any of Strata’s blogs, you know that we believe in the power and effectiveness of good marketing. We believe not only in planning, strategy, organization, touchpoints, messaging, and call to actions, but in the great design. Without great design, you could be missing out on a ton of potential customers through failure to grab their attention. Because design has such a wide range of options (nearly endless), we’ve compiled a shortlist of design trends you should keep in mind when planning and executing your next marketing campaign.

Revitalized Layout & Structure

Minimalism

Minimalism is a buzzword that simply never goes out of style. Minimalist design is clean, simple, and sleek, and because of its bare nature, makes the viewer pay attention to the most important details on the page or in the email, letting them know exactly what you want them to do (for instance, a call-to-action) or what you want them to understand. When designing minimally, don’t be afraid to use white space, interesting hierarchy, and unique spacing. Mix it up and surprise your audience with something different and less busy than the rest of your work.

Digitally, audiences are now looking for “simple, sleek, easy-to-use interfaces. If you’re unsure how to simplify your website for a more minimalist design, use tools like eye-tracking tests to see where your viewers are focusing. Once you have eye-tracking data, you can simplify your website to include just those areas that are important to and effective on viewers. It’s also important to eliminate unnecessary pop-ups that can distract from relevant content. “Ensure the user journey is purposeful by opting for simple and time-saving design features so they can easily search for items of interest.”

Storytelling

In marketing, we’re almost always telling a story. It’s important to make sure that the story is not only conveyed by words – but by imagery and layout too. “…more than ever, consumers are looking to buy from brands they can relate to, that feel approachable, relevant and authentic. To achieve a genuine connection, designers and marketers should use storytelling.” Make your story even stronger and increasingly significant to customers with personalization and tailored content, product value, and authenticity. One of the best ways to tell your story is through video, which is why we’ve just launched our new YouTube channel. Take a look to see how we tell our story(s) through imagery and video.

S-Curve Layout

The “s-curve” layout is a unique way of leading the viewers eye down or across a webpage, email, or even a printed document. It’s formed by using imagery on the left, words on the right, and then words on the right, and imagery on the left (or another similar variation) to bring the viewer’s focus from left to right, back and forth. This helps potential and current customers better understand the marketing they’re looking through, but also keeps their attention as they do so.

Spruce Up Your Imagery

Hand-Drawn Graphics

This type of design can help your company stand out among the rest of the modern, boxy design that’s more popularly used. In today’s digital world, “it is so rare to get a handwritten note from someone that when we do, it feels extra personal.” Adding a small sketch or unique handwritten note to your design, without overdoing it, can increase its authenticity, personalization, and the overall personality of your marketing materials.

Illustrated Iconography

Iconography has been hugely popular for a long time, mostly due to its easy-to-digest nature. It’s a simplistic way to get certain company ideas and information across, such as product offerings, features, and company values. Yet, these days, “icons have been granted much more visual prominence. Conveying brand personality, unique artworks and most importantly, clearly communicating the intended message”. We’re now using them for much more than just features, and making them a lot more interesting to look at than just a simplistic phone symbol. Illustrated and unique icons can be used to help your company stand apart from the crowd, and distinctively illustrate your brand. “Aside from speeding up loading times with lightweight graphics, icons—especially zhuzhed up icons—soften brand identities and encourage an emotional connection to be made with the audience.”

Surrealism

Since the beginning of 2020, reality has often seemed very surreal, making all of us question what we really know to be true and trustworthy. “Considering how mixed up –– and messed up –– day-to-day life often seems; it’s no wonder graphic design is exploring imagery that bends the edges of reality.” Using strange, juxtaposing, and even somewhat jarring elements can catch a viewer’s attention yet also feel oddly familiar if they’re more adapted to strange happenings and visuals. Play around with imagery that tells the story in a more imaginative way, and see how your audience responds. It just might strike a chord!

Data Visualization

Artwork is beautiful – but data is important. Your customer may like how your brand and imagery looks, but they’ll likely love imagery that conveys facts and figures they can trust and understand. Data can be overwhelming when it’s simply delivered using a ton of words and numbers, so using imagery to make the information more readable, understandable, and visually appealing is often the way to go. And, if done right, “prospects can be encouraged to become customers through data.”

Refresh Your Branding Design

Pops of Color

Even if your brand is more neutral and duller, you can always spice things up with a few pops of color at the right place and time. A good splash of color can help bring a message to life without losing brand identity – if done correctly. Here’s a good example from Airbnb. Their brand colors are primarily a bright magenta/red and white, but here, they use a ton of colors to energize a host award without taking away from their overall brand image.

Bold Typography

No matter who your audience – young, middle-aged, or older, bright and bold type is exciting and eye-catching. It draws the reader in, if used in the right place(s), and catches anyone’s attention for at least a few seconds, even from far away. Plus, large type provides maximum readability, as long as the font isn’t too out-there.

Incorporate Cultural Happenings

Socially Conscious Design & Authentic Representation

Social consciousness. Diversity. Representation. Understanding. All of these – in today’s world and into the future, are extremely important and at the top of many customer’s minds. In our current society, “design and culture are integrally connected.” Showing a better future through imagery and design can often be the best way to facilitate change. This year and in 2020 especially, “social unrest and movements for anti-racism have captured national attention,” so you were remiss as a company if you didn’t at least acknowledge or even take a stance on these issues. Socially conscious design with authentic representation of several ethnicities, cultures, sexualities, and more has become a huge part of graphic design practices. “Within the theme of socially conscious design, key trends include authentic representationsustainability, and celebrating diversity and imperfection.”

Sustainability & Natural Elements

Environmental concern. Sustainability. Eco friendly practices. These, too are at the forefront of today’s initiatives, especially after a tough year where many of us have been consistently indoors. We were truly forced to take a better look at our outside world, and our impact on it. Many companies, including Strata (through Operation Eco) are focused on preserving the earth and sustaining the health of our planet. Through natural imagery and sustainable design your company can further convey your care and efforts, and give your audience a sense of peace and tranquility. “As consumers think about waste and their environmental footprint more than ever before…expect to see more and more packaging designs that emphasize sustainability through natural iconography, neutral color palettes, and eco-conscious materials.”

Optimism & Support

Lastly, although we’ve had a rough last year or so, we can finally see brighter days ahead, and so can our customers! Show your support and emphasize this brightness with optimistic design and “good news” layouts. Make your audience feel a sense of trust for your company by showing that you care for them and empathize with their current struggles.

Looking to implement some of these unique design practices into your marketing campaigns, but still not sure where to start? Contact Strata.

The Who, the Why, and the How

In part 1 of the All About Branding blog series, we talked about what branding is, why it’s so important, and how to tell if it truly matches your products or services. Now, we’re seeing if your brand also matches something just as important – your customers. But first, let’s discuss who exactly your customers are, as well as your greatest fans and loyal supporters (your customer base).

Who Are Your Customers?

You may think your customers are simply the people that enter your store, call your company, or send you an email. And you’re right – they are. But those aren’t your only customers. There are actually many different types of customers that you may not even be aware of. For example, those who visit your site, hear about your product or service via word of mouth and plan to call you or visit your site this week, or those who have visited your shop or thought about your product, but haven’t returned – in person or online. There are loyal and engaged customers (maybe they have a subscription to your service or consistently order your product), and there are those you don’t see (who like your social media photos or talk about your product to friends and family). Customers and potential customers come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important you think about all of them no matter what type of business you run.

customer base, on the other hand, is the group of people who are loyal to your business! They not only buy and love your product, but talk about it often and maybe even post about it on social media. They’re engaged in your happenings and come back again and again for your offerings. “These shoppers may be loyal to your brand for a number of reasons…you offer them a product they want or need, your brand’s messaging resonates with them, or they enjoy being involved in your brand community.”

When it comes to your brand, you also don’t want to forget about those you communicate with on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly basis. The wholesalers, retailers, and vendors you work with should all get a good sense of your brand as well, whether that be by how you speak to them over the phone, the tone you use in your emails, or the branding materials you send them online or in the mail.

And, although it’s easy to pass by the importance of learning about your customer base, as well as understanding this base and catering to it, it’s essential for your business and brand. In a recent study of 1,900+ business professionals, 45.9% said their #1 priority for the next 5 years was customer experience (even over pricing and product). And consumers agree with this notion. Statistically, “76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs.”

What is Your Why?

Knowing the “why” of your business is an integral part of understanding and building your brand. You need this as a foundation to decide on all other aspects, such as your goals, your ideal customer base, and inevitably, your brand. Ask yourself questions about your company, like:

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, you’ll have the tools you need to determine your ideal customer base and make other valuable decisions for your business, and when you have a better idea of your target audience, the rest comes together fairly smoothly. The better your understanding of this base, the easier it is to retain them. Here are four simple steps to further identify your target customers:

1. Outline your audience – describe their lifestyles, situations, wants, and needs. Maybe come up with a fake customer persona to lead you in the right direction.

2. Note their pain points, and how you can provide solutions.

3. Think about what’s at stake if their needs aren’t met.

4. Think about the payoff if their needs are met.

Understanding your customers’ wants, needs, personalities, and actions, and thinking through how your product/service can relate to these, will ultimately facilitate to great success for your company.

Does Your Brand Match Your Customers?

What you find in your research of your ideal customer base will contribute heavily to how you define your brand. Is your target audience wealthy, with high expectations? Do they demand exceptional service? Brand your business to be high class, with a product that uses the best and rarest finds. Oppositely, maybe you find your business to be a low-budget, large family’s go-to product. Market it as family and budget-friendly, with consistent offers and an understanding staff. Another example? Maybe your customer base is all about the young, the new, and the trendy. Create a modernized website, consistently post on social, and make sure to be on TikTok. Simply meet your customers where they are, where they’re going, and where they want to be…and be a brand they connect with mentally and physically.

Knowing your customer base and creating (and upholding) a brand to match it is imperative to maintaining and growing a great business. Add loyal brand advocates to your adamant customer base by engaging with them beyond the first purchase, and showing them consistent, inviting brand messaging. Don’t just sell them your product, but remind them again and again of your friendly service, amazing offerings, and unique brand and message. Implement strategies and services, such as loyalty programs, social media campaigns, and exemplary customer service, to turn strangers to visitors, visitors to customers, and customers to promoters – who will promote your brand for free through word of mouth.

Identifying your customer base from their lifestyles, to their situations, problems, implications, and needs, is the best way to build a brand that meets them where they are, and where they’re going. Looking to improve or streamline the branding of your marketing campaigns and messaging? Contact Strata to brainstorm some ideas that can help you connect with new and returning customers in a meaningful, on brand way.

From Tagline to Talk

Although Strata doesn’t specifically create and implement branding services, we work with and use brand standards to create marketing materials day in and day out. We’ve seen great (and not so great) brands, and know what makes a brand stand out among competitors. Branding isn’t just a buzz word – it’s important no matter how big or small your company. It isn’t simply a logo and consistent colors – although it is these things. It’s also the way you make your customers feel, the experiences you provide, and the language you use to describe your products and services. Whether it’s known or faintly and unknowingly distinct, you have a brand and an image you’re putting out there…but is it purposeful? And is it the right one? We’re bringing you some best practices to make sure your brand truly matches the product or service you offer.

What is Branding?

Today, in a vast plethora of options to choose from no matter what industry, using tools to distinguish your business, from your logo to your services, is more important than ever. A brand is what helps you set your company apart from other businesses. It’s “a feature or set of features that distinguish one organization from another…typically comprised of a name, tagline, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more.” But it isn’t just the visuals. It’s the feeling and experience the customer gets from interacting with your business, whether that’s in person, on the phone, on social media, on your website, or somewhere else. Branding, as an action, is setting up these features, from tagline to talk. It involves understanding your product, why customers love it, and catering to those current and future customers with a distinct and memorable experience. “It’s what transforms first-time buyers into lifetime customers and turns an indifferent audience into brand evangelists.”

Why is Branding so Important?

Even if you don’t think you do, you definitely have a brand. Maybe your customers say “I love that company. Every time I call their customer service is kind, and their products make me feel great. I also love their cute and simple logo. I’d definitely buy a t-shirt.” There’s your brand right there. Your customers perceive these brand elements, have reactions to them, and choose to give you additional business. Yet, the smallest of hiccups can ruin a brand. A few wrong moves or interactions with unpleasant employees can cause your business to be looked at a lot differently, and can change the experience for everyone. It’s important to know, understand, and nurture this brand to continue to grow – and not lose – your customer base. Branding can help you “establish the ways in which you’re different, special, and unique. And it shows your customers why they should work with you instead of your competitors.”

Visuals are of course just as important as feelings. Especially now, in 2021, brands are urged to reach further in their experimentation and uniqueness, creating eye-catching logos, websites, social media imagery, and merch. More and more, companies are expected to be “instagrammable” in their image. Kids, teens, and even adults are intrigued by the idea of getting a good photo for their social accounts. Not every store or business has to attempt this atmosphere, but there should still be some thought behind who you want to be and how you want to be seen.

Simply put, branding gives your company an identity, makes it memorable, helps you create and solidify marketing, and gives your employees and fans something to talk about and be proud of. It can increase the value of your company to give you more leverage in the industry, and thoroughly establishes trust (for partner brands and customers alike). Basically, you’ll look a lot more professional if your brand isn’t just an accident, but is planned, deliberate, and easily recognizable.

Does Your Brand Match Your Product/Service?

Now that you know its importance, take a minute to think about your brand. Does it match who your company is, your products and/or services, and the feeling you hope your customers get when they interact with your business? Does it portray the taste, the look, the feel, the scent, the sounds of whatever you sell? If your answer is “no” or even “I’m not sure,” it may be time to dig a bit deeper into what exactly you’re putting out there for the world to see, digest, and associate with your company.

Maybe you’d describe your company as traditional and authentic. The original idea for your product dates back to the mid 1900s. Don’t hesitate to promote and communicate this in the imagery and messaging of your marketing materials. Maybe use a traditional typeface, a nostalgia-inspired logo, and incorporate some authentic, vintage music into your videos. Oppositely, maybe you’d classify your company as new-age, experimental, unique, trendy, and fun. Use modern branding styles, popular music, and distinctive, trendy content to further create a stylish and hip experience that matches your product.

Psychologically, humans don’t like to think too hard. They like when things are easy to decide on, and when they make sense. Make their decision easy by providing great customer service with a great product or service. Combine multiple unified brand elements so their brain can relax and enjoy the environment. Humans are also terrified of missing out (hello FOMO) – so create a branded experience that’s too good to pass up (aka, inspires FOMO). Make sure your business has a distinguishing look and feel that makes customers (or even potential employees) want to talk about it and brag about it – whether by word of mouth or through a hashtag.

Before starting your next campaign, use this knowledge to think just a bit deeper into your products or services and the story you’re sharing with the world. Make sure your company’s identity is not only one that you’re proud of, but one that exemplifies your offerings and differentiation from competitors. If you’re looking to improve the reach of your brand, contact Strata today to set up an on-brand campaign that utilizes crafted messaging that will help capture and inspire new and returning customers.