Laying Out the Pros and Cons
We know it can be a long process to research, find, and decide on a marketing solutions company that achieves your objectives. We also know that the full package – good data, quality design, excellent messaging, great customer service, mailing and fulfillment, and quantifiable results – is the goal, but not always the outcome. Since we get asked about it from time to time, in this blog, we’re going to cover why you may want to choose to work with a marketing company over a CRM services company who also happens to strategize and launch campaigns. Before you make your decision, give this a quick read.
Not Always the “Path of Least Resistance”
First and foremost, although it may appear “easier” to partner with a CRM service to launch your campaigns (because they have access to CRM) – they don’t always have immediate access to other capabilities. For example, they likely don’t have in-house creative design, printing, fulfillment, and mailing, and if they do have some of them – they likely don’t have all of them to execute a turnkey campaign. The main focus of a CRM company is usually just that – customer relationship management. Their key offering is their ability to compile and supply lists – which they may be excellent at doing, but what will they provide in terms of other areas of expertise?
Because of the outsourced services they use (such as those listed above), CRM companies can’t always make campaign changes on the fly. They’re usually unable to print on-demand, have their artist make quick modifications, make last-minute changes to the mailing process, or most importantly, optimize the campaign based on results, midstream.
The Marketing Differentiators
So, what’s the alternative? Partnering with a marketing solutions company that offers expertise in everything from implementation to optimization. Marketing companies are often also connected directly to the list compiler, and even more than that, they’re usually more closely if not directly connected to everything else you’ll need and use during the campaign production process – from strategy to printing. Since many if not all of their services are in-house (including design, print production, fulfillment, and mailing), you can always make changes and improvements mid-stream and at rapid speed. They can simply call on their marketing team of strategists, artists, print production associates, and others to change gears, swiftly improving the efficiency of the program while it’s in progress and effectively increasing campaign ROI.
Additionally, marketing companies focus solely on marketing strategy and production, and the more years of experience under their belts of doing so – the better. Marketing execution is not an add-on to marketing companies. It’s what they do, day in and day out. And the right marketing company will be able to simultaneously execute concurrent campaigns, whether single-touch or many, with corresponding digital to (targeted, specified) customers and prospects. If you’re lucky or do your research, you’ll find a marketing company that also incorporates backend fulfillment, seamless management, granular personalization, and attribution, and will be a team of dedicated experts, creators, innovators, and most importantly, marketers. You get the picture we’re painting. It’s important for a marketer or marketing team to also value and provide quality execution and customer care to every client, and ensure you have the reporting, understanding, and peace of mind you need, with 1:1 attribution, automated data exchange, and a detailed dashboard.
Next time you’re debating, think through this blog first. Do you just need a simple marketing campaign with CRM first, or do you need a multi-touch, well-focused marketing campaign with accurate, up-to-date lists and quality attribution?
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 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.”
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.
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
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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 representation, sustainability, 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.