Marketing

And Where & How to Use Them

There’s a lot of bad marketing circulating around out there – and you know what all of it has in common (besides – likely – poor design, lack of target market research, and missing call-to-actions)? Unpleasant imagery. We know what you’re thinking… “photography costs a fortune!” – but that’s not always the case. And, what costs even more than any photo is losing customers over a bad one. There are ways to use good photography on your marketing without breaking the bank. Today, we’re going to explain why photography is so important for your company’s marketing, how you can get and use good photos, and, if need be – tips for (carefully and creatively) shooting your own.

Why Quality Photography is Important

Like we said above, losing customers to a bad photo or photos can be very costly. A not-so-great photo can make or break any marketing piece or campaign and deter customers from ever contacting your company. Visuals are a huge part of what we choose to purchase and where it’s from. When advertising with only speech or text, customers only remember 10% of what they see or hear, but, when advertising with imagery, they remember an impressive 65%. Quality photos appeal to customer emotions, and are intended to trigger specific thoughts and feelings. So, make sure your imagery is eye-catching, impactful, relevant, informative, and realistic.

The right photos can be used in several areas – from postcards and flyers, to social posts and website banners. And it’s not like you can only use a great photo once. So, if you think about all the places a good photo can go, it’s worth the investment to get it.

Lastly, photography is a universal language – so no matter who’s seeing them, if your photos are informative and well-shot, potential customers will be able to understand and relate to the intended message, whether they speak English, Spanish, or Japanese. It’s best to think of photography as one of your main points of communication with your customers, because, well…it really is. Sometimes, it’s the first form of communication they get from your company altogether.

How to Obtain Quality Photos & Use Them in Your Marketing

If you’re not taking your own photos or utilizing a professional photographer, there are a ton of options out there to get great photography at varying prices. Websites like Pexels, Unsplash, Freepik, and Pixabay provide decent, royalty-free, commercial-use stock images – free of cost. But, make sure to use these wisely and always check the fine print. Some photography sites will want you to give credit to the photographer in some way, or use the image only under certain circumstances.

If you’re willing to pay a bit more for higher marketing ROI, stock photo packages can be purchased on sites like GettyImages, Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and others. You have the option to purchase a few individual photos – but that can get costly. We’d recommend going with one of the free sites above, or, if you have more photo needs, getting a plan that, for example, gives you 10 photos a month at a lower package price.

If you do hire a photographer, you have a leg up on other companies. Why? Because experienced photographers know what to look for when it comes to selling products. They have an eye for detail, know when it’s best to add something or take something out of the frame, and can edit your photos to perfection.

With a professional photographer, we’d recommend a one-time photoshoot (if possible) to cut costs and photograph all of the things you’re hoping to capture – whether that’s your whole staff and office, your product catalog, or an event. We’d also suggest really planning ahead – not only to tidy up the area and make your subject look great, but to make sure you photograph everything you need to, and that you don’t run over-time.

If You Have to Take Your Own Photos, Here’s How…

It’s not the end of the world to have to take your own photos, since, these days, almost everyone has a mini professional camera right in their pocket. But just because we have better cameras doesn’t mean we have the skills of an experienced, well-versed photographer, or know the best settings and angles to get the best shot. Yet, with a bit of research and effort, we can take some great product photos that will do the trick. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when photographing your offerings:

Camera Awareness: You don’t have to read a manual to get to know whatever camera you’re working with, but, the more expensive and intricate the camera, the more time you should take to practice your skills. Have a bit of fun and experiment before doing an actual photoshoot with your products. Make sure you understand the effects and settings available to you and what will present your products best.

Camera Angle: There are a ton of ways to take your photos, but where you place the camera will help you tell whatever story you’re trying to get across. So, think about what makes your product look eye-catching and unique, and how it can best be framed to show its qualities. Avoid angles with too much slant, that are too close up, or that blur the wrong areas.

Detail: Before taking your photo, take note of the little things. Is the area clean to emphasize the product or focus? Does the subject look its best? Is the photo realistic?

Background: Almost always, you’ll want your subject’s background to be neutral and not in focus. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s the safest bet to make sure your subject is in focus and is the center of attention. If your office is bright and colorful, it’s okay to have that as the background for staff photos. Just make sure it’s not so busy that it’s distracting from the subject.

Color & Lighting: When adding objects around your subject or creating some sort of background, make sure the color of your focus pops. If need be, make some color edits to your photography using Photoshop, Lightroom, VSCO, or a similar photo editing platform. But – don’t go crazy. Keep your photo looking realistic and authentic. Additionally, take note of the lighting. Feel free to get fancy and purchase professional lighting – but there’s often no need to. Natural lighting can produce great outcomes when it comes to photography.

Context & Scale: Especially for product photography, it’s always important to offer a sense of scale and context. Instead of only showing the subject on a white background, also show the product in a room, on a table, next to a person, or even being used by a person. This will help people “fill in the gaps” and understand the sizing of the product.

File Size: Pay attention to the sizes of your photos when taking them and uploading them. Make sure they’re not too small that they look blurry and pixelated, but also be sure that they’re not so large that they affect load times and user experience.

Authenticity: We’ve already brushed the surface on this one – but it’s so important that it can’t be said too many times. Make sure your photography’s an accurate, authentic depiction of your offerings. There’s nothing worse than getting excited over a product you see online, only to be disappointed by its appearance upon purchasing.

Need help finding the perfect photo, or ready to take these practices and put them into great, effective marketing? Contact Strata.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

You may or may not have heard about the recent postage update from USPS. If you haven’t, we’ll fill you in. The new maximum size for mailing First-Class mail postcards has increased from 4 ¼” x 6” to 6” x 9”. This means you can now send postcards as large as 6” x 9” at the postcard rate of $0.40. But – before you get excited, let’s dig a little deeper into this. As experts in the mailing industry, we’ll help you decide whether or not you should be taking advantage of this change, or if you should continue business as usual.

The USPS Update: The Facts

You may or may not have heard about the recent postage update from USPS. If you haven’t, we’ll fill you in. The new maximum size for mailing first-class postcards has increased from 4 ¼” x 6” to 6” x 9”. This means you can now send postcards as large as 6” x 9” at the first-class postcard rate of $0.40, 30% less than before the change! But – before you get excited, let’s dig a little deeper into this. As experts in the mailing industry, we’ll help you decide whether or not you should be taking advantage of this change, or if you should continue business as usual. 

The $0.40 per postcard price is the price you pay for simply dropping a card in the mail (no sorting necessary). However, if your quantity of cards exceeds 500, you’ll save more if you sort your cards. Why? Because the post office gives you a discount for doing some of the work for them. For first-class presort, you’ll pay between $0.30 and $0.35 per postcard, depending on how your mail sorts. The higher the density, the lower the price. 

You sort standard-class (bulk) mail the same way you sort first-class mail – and if you do, the cost for the same 6” x 9” postcard will run between $0.245 and $0.31. Again, the cost heavily depends on the density of your distribution. For instance, if you’re sending 500 postcards to one neighborhood, it will cost less than sending 500 postcards to several different areas around the country. 

Sorting your mailings and sending them standard-class will save you an additional 15% over the comparable first-class rate, a substantial amount for any large mailing. 

So, what does this all really mean for you, and what is the best choice for your mailing? 

The Perks & Problems of First-Class Mailing

So, here’s the “perks” of first-class mailing. With first-class, you can send impactful postcard mailings at an affordable price – to anywhere. There’s no 500-piece minimum, and there’s a 30% discount on regular first-class mail. You’ll know exactly what your postage rate is going to be at – $0.40 each. 

Quantities larger than 500 can be sorted and will likely get to your regional audience faster than they would with standard-class mail. You’ll pay roughly a 15% premium over the cost of standard mail to do so. 

With that said, the post office has yet to fully recover from issues related to the pandemic. Although we’re hopeful this will change over time and that it will return to its prior state, the possibilities are always in flux. Without knowing when things will return to “normal”, it’s hard to depend on mailing delivery times. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve experienced delivery time issues with first-class mail. For this reason, we’re recommending a “wait and see” approach with the post office as it applies to estimating delivery dates. 

Counter intuitively, for a company whose in-home date is important – the idea of first-class can be a bit of a trap, and even more so with pre-sorted first-class. The post office will often handle it in the same way as pre-sort standard-class. If in-home dates are important to your campaign and your mailing is large, then there are better ways to get more predictable in-home delivery and save money. 

Our Alternative

Since we’ve found some pitfalls in this new update – we’d like to share a little about Strata’s tools and tactics. For large mailings, we’re able to use standard-class mail and predict the delivery date plus or minus one day, in most cases. How? After years of experience, we’ve come to use alternative methods and have taken out several variables. These methods are not allowed by the USPS for first-class mail – only for standard-class mail. Therefore, most of our customers are better off sticking to standard. 

We don’t see us ever recommending this new program for large mailings. Standard mail will always cost at least 15% less, allows you to send many mail formats including even larger than 6” x 9” sized postcards for the same postage, and provides in-home date that will always be more predictable when using our methods. 

Conclusion

If you’re a local company and want to send out mailings in your region or have quantities of less than 500 – this sizing and pricing update is something you may want to take advantage of. 

If your in-home dates are somewhat less critical and you’re mailing regionally, then you may be able to get faster service at a somewhat higher postal rate and, again, may want to try this program. 

If you have non-critical in-home dates and your mailings are at quantities of more than 500, standard-class is always going to be less expensive, and you won’t see much difference in delivery times. 

For large mailings, first-class is less predictable and more expensive than optimized standard mail. Strata has standard down to a science for these bigger quantities. In all cases, standard service will still save you at least 15% and will provide you the option to send even larger cards and mail formats at the same rate. 

Consider this guidance when you’re thinking about taking advantage of this update in USPS services and deciding if it’s right for you. 

Interested in working with Strata to ensure your mailers get in-home when you expect them to? Give us a call. 

Thankful for a Company Culture that Inspires Creativity & Customer Success

It’s the season of giving, and this year (and every year) we couldn’t be anymore thankful for the company we’ve become and continue to be. We’re so grateful for the people and clients we get to work with each and every day, and can’t thank them enough for their hard work and support. That being said, we want to take the time to share what Strata is most thankful for this year – good customer and company culture, and the ways in which you can foster it.

Thank You, Strata Company

This year, we’re not only taking time to look back on how far we’ve come, but to express our appreciation and gratitude for our successes, inspirations, and company culture. Good company culture is created by the employees who show up and give it their all, so it’s important that they have a good place to do that. Having a trusted and respected environment where employees’ voices are heard gives them a space to feel included and listened to.

We strive to make sure all employees feel challenged, supported, and respected, but also ensure it’s clear that Strata isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. The biggest part of a positive atmosphere is being able to handle negative or difficult situations and being able to overcome them. All companies encounter hurdles, but having a team that is ready to conquer them is a large part of a quality company culture. We’re thankful that our team embodies this and was able to be recognized this year, as we were awarded Great Place to Work certification. Check out our blog on how we earned this certificate.

How You Can Focus on Both the Customer & Your Team – Equally

It’s possible to put both your customers and employees first. How? By having good company culture. Customers take how your company is running into consideration, not just what you’re selling to them. The way your employees act, feel, and communicate with each other and your customers often determines how long your clients stick around for, or if they even buy from you to begin with. At Strata, we pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our clients and our employees.  We like to believe that the more excitement and connection there is within the office, the more connected employees are with clients – and the more excited clients are about services and offerings. It’s one thing to sell your product well, but going the extra mile for client experience is the game changer. A positive work environment is what motivates employees to do just that. So, before you think company culture isn’t as important as other aspects of your company, remember that it could very well be the reason your company isn’t seeing consistent sales.

How to Show Thanks

So ask yourself, what do your employees value most in their work environment, and what will motivate them? Is it trust? Respect? Creativity? Consistency? Positivity? The freedom to speak and make decisions? Whatever it may be, whether it’s one, or all of them, instilling the ones that matter most is what will facilitate the best environment for your team.  The goal is for everyone to feel welcomed and accepted. One of the best ways to do this is by periodically recognizing your employees – let them know you see and acknowledge how hard they’re working. Recent studies show that “the best-performing teams receive roughly six positive comments for every negative one. They then share this positivity with their co-workers”, causing a ripple effect of positivity.

Cultures that successfully embrace gratitude tend to share these basics attributes: 

  • They treat their employees like real people, not anonymous workers. 
  • They trust and empower those employees to do great things. 
  • They accept mistakes, encourage original ideas, and reward risk-taking. 
  • They routinely express appreciation for the person, not just the job. 
  • They hire individuals who care about the organization’s future and who will add to the positive culture. 

As we said, a strong, positive, and motivating culture can take time, but the first step is recognizing the team and environment you have, and thinking through where you’d like both to be in the future. We figured, what better time than the season of giving to emphasize this topic? We hope you’re able to take away some insight, see why we’re so thankful for our current culture, and now have some ideas on how to improve your own. Questions? Feel free to contact us.

A Strata YouTube Channel Original

In this ever-changing market, not even a marketing genius can accurately gauge performance of a multichannel campaign without organized, analyzed data across channels. That is why setting and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is very important. Follow along as we walk you through a few things to keep in mind when establishing and understanding KPI’s for your multichannel campaign.

What’s a KPI?

Like we said above, KPI stands for key performance indicator. It’s a quantifiable measure of performance over time for a specific goal. In this case – that goal is multichannel marketing success. KPIs lay out marketing goals in the form of specific milestones to calculate progress and insights, and these insights help marketers make better decisions. In order for KPIs to be successful and helpful, a marketer or team of marketers needs to handle and record analytics from several touch-points. Without KPIs there’s no way to accurately and effectively measure the efficiency of your multichannel performance.

KPIs at Their Core: Layer One

There are two levels of KPIs for multichannel campaigns. The first layer is the component layer, and it’s used to analyze the individual components of a campaign. This layer helps establish realistic goals for the campaign and provides low level insight to analyze and optimize as your campaign progresses. Conversion rates vary by standards like industry and medium, which are easily researchable.

Yet, actual conversion rates have huge ranges based on the nature of your call to action – like your messaging, imagery, and your audience, and which segment of the funnel they’re in. If your campaign’s messaging can be considered “industry standard”, save yourself some time and use an average conversion rate, even if it looks low.

Further into KPIs: Layer Two

Want to learn about the second layer of KPIs, and how to establish them for your next multichannel campaign? Click on the video below and hear more from our Director of R&D, Harrison. Or, if you’d like to discuss this concept with one of our multichannel experts, contact us today to get your next (or maybe your first) multichannel campaign started.

What’s the Real Deal?

There’s a ton of information out there about multichannel marketing – and it can be hard to sift through. You probably often find yourself wondering, what’s real, and what’s myth? You’re not alone. Many marketers end up hindering their own multichannel efforts by believing a lot of these circulated misunderstandings, but with our help, you don’t have to. Today, we’re looking at three of the most common misconceptions around multichannel marketing, and – as experts in the area, letting you in on the real deal.

Myth 1: Multichannel Marketing is “Too Expensive”

There are a ton of marketers and organizations out there that have yet to try or implement multichannel marketing because it’s “too expensive” or “over budget”. It may cost slightly more than your generic, on-touch marketing, but it’s important to consider the benefits and weigh the cost versus the potential (and often guaranteed) ROI. There’s proof out there that many businesses end up getting much greater ROI from multichannel marketing, making the price worth it. Plus, it’s estimated that companies with optimal multichannel campaigns experience “customer retention rates of 89%, compared to an average of 33% for those businesses with weak multichannel engagement”. It’s all about how you use your budget, and allotting it to the marketing practices and programs that will yield the highest return.

Myth 2: Multichannel Solutions “Benefit Only the Customer”

It’s a common misconception that multichannel marketing is great for meeting customers at many touchpoints, but that it’s overwhelming and inconclusive for the company using it. This could not be further from the truth. Multichannel marketing is not just a one-touch process, and that’s what makes it unique and effective. Although it may seem like a lot at first (engaging with customers on several platforms such as direct mail, social, and website) it’ll be extremely helpful in forecasting and planning a company’s marketing strategy in the long run. Multichannel marketing benefits customers by providing them with relevant, personable, and consistent content, but also benefits your company by building brand awareness, loyalty, and trust within consumers and by compiling data and analytics for a complete picture of your audience’s customer journey.

Like we said, it may seem like a lot at first, but over time, you’ll get a clear picture of what channels and touchpoints work best for your company and reach the most customers, what channels and touchpoints don’t, and where and when it’s best to reach your target audience(s).

Additionally, multichannel marketing helps your employees improve customer service and build more personal and personalized relationships with customers. For example, while communicating with a customer at a certain touchpoint, your customer service representative can see exactly what contact points the customer has already accessed, as well as the information they’ve received or provided to your company. This relationship that multichannel marketing fosters not only creates less frustration and unawareness for the customer – but for the company as well. In turn, multichannel marketing reduces staff turnover, and ensures that you keep your most talented employees. It can also reduce staff errors and build a better brand reputation for your company as a whole

Myth 3: Multichannel Marketing is “Hard to Implement”

We’ve heard this one a lot. “Multichannel marketing is so involved,” or “I just don’t have time for all that.” Here’s the thing…multichannel marketing is only as hard as you make it. There are a lot of channels out there to reach your potential customers (website, in-store, catalog, e-mail, TV, text, blog, mail…the list goes on), but that doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. Plus, if you stick with your brand standards and ensure all of your touchpoints are connected and unified, you can use similar (if not the same) content, design, colors, and calls-to-action across channels, making the process much easier.

The best way to get started without getting overwhelmed is to create a plan. A great trick for quick planning is “RACE”; Reach, Act, Convert, and Engage. Make sure you’re hitting all of these parts of the process to ensure you’re connecting with and converting your audience, and getting the most out of your multichannel marketing.

Lastly, if you still feel you’re in over your head, or just really want to focus on other parts of your business, don’t hesitate to partner with experienced multichannel marketing experts. Research who you want to partner with so that you’re aware of what to expect and what they’ll expect from you in terms of budgets, end goals, and experience levels.

We hope we’ve eliminated some of your worries, answered some of your questions, and provided you with a bit of confidence in multichannel marketing. To get started on your next (or maybe your first) multichannel campaign, or learn more about how we can help, feel free to contact us.


Looking for more information on multichannel marketing and how to effectively launch a campaign? Visit our YouTube channel for quick tips and tricks from the experts at Strata.

Cheers to Us – Were Certified!

Strata’s thrilled to announce that we’ve become Great Place to Work-Certified™. We consider employee experience a top priority, and owe our continued success to our team of dedicated employees here at Strata. We celebrate and thank them all for helping us earn this incredible recognition.

Why a Certification?

At Strata, our vision’s clear. We want to not only help our clients and provide them the best solutions, but to also foster a great work environment and company culture. We pride ourselves on this mission, and even as we announce this certification, we are always looking for ways to improve. Good company culture not only brings in top talent, but motivates our employees to go above and beyond for our company, our customers, and each other. In fact, we’ve learned that 94% of entrepreneurs and 88% of job seekers say that a healthy culture at work is vital for success. Along with that, 69% of employees would work harder if they received more recognition.

We believed that our people deserved to be celebrated for their positive attitudes, unity, and the impact they have on our culture, so we opened the floor to our employees and had them share their feelings towards and experiences of Strata through the Great Place to Work’s survey. We were pleased to see that 96% of our employees said that when you join Strata, you’re made to feel welcome. Plus, 94% of employees said that they take pride in working for Strata, and are always willing to give extra to get the job done (but we weren’t surprised by that)! We’re so glad that our employees feel this way, and we wouldn’t be who we are today (and where we are today) without them.

“At Strata, our brand is more than a logo, a color palette, and a tagline. Our brand is our people, and because of them we help our clients Make Smart Happen. That’s why over the years we’ve made it our top priority to invest in them and our culture – because at the end of the day that’s what defines our company – real solutions, powered by real (happy and passionate) people.” – Caitlin Lally, Marketing Manager

About the Certification

Great Place to Work® Certification™ is the most “definitive ’employer-of-choice’ recognition that companies aspire to achieve”. It’s the only recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience. Great Place to Work Certification is recognized worldwide by employees and employers alike, and is the global benchmark for identifying and recognizing outstanding employee experience. Every year, more than 10,000 companies across 60 countries apply to get Great Place to Work-Certified. We’re so proud to have applied and been selected.

What’s to Come

To celebrate, we’ll be promoting our Great Place to Work Certification all over our channels and platforms. This certification is all about our employees, so we want them to be part of the celebration and promotion today and every day. Strata also plans to take the feedback we received from our employees, and review it. We hope that this will help us continue to improve our work environment and employee satisfaction. We don’t just want to be a Great Place to Work this year, we want to be a Great Place to Work every year.

As a company who puts our employees first, we want to tell you that this type of accomplishment can take time. If you find that you aren’t sure how your employees feel at your company, let their voices be heard. Conduct a survey and allow them to share their thoughts so you can get a better understanding of your team’s pain points, wants, and needs. Who knows, maybe you’ll be next to be named Great Place to Work certified! Questions? Feel free to contact us.

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.

With a Combination of Direct & Digital Marketing (and the Right Partner)

Maybe you’ve heard about the paper shortage, or maybe you’ve experienced it first-hand. Either way, it’s something you should know about, as it’s seemingly becoming a bigger issue in our field day by day. But, before we sound all doom and gloom, we do have good news. Although it’s a current issue we’re facing, there are ways to combat it and work around it. In this blog, we’ll walk you through what exactly is causing the shortage, what it means for us (and you), and how we all can continue business as (almost) usual.

What’s Happening with the Paper Shortage?

So, what’s really going on? Well, there are many shortages going on right now – primarily due to all of the craziness that’s ensued over the past few years. The pandemic has been the primary factor in most shortages, from toilet paper to manufacturing products, and everything in between. Something else that’s suffering? Lumber, and in turn – you guessed it – paper.

Back in 2020, the demand for paper dropped by “up to 75% in some segments” due to drops in education and office space usage. Because of this, “paper mills reduced or curtailed production…which caused inventory to drop to levels which have not been seen previously.”

More recently, there’s been a “convergence of Canadian lumber tariffs, increase in demand for home remodeling and building of homes brought on by the pandemic, and hiccups in supply related to transportation.” From home projects to home purchases, we’re now using a lot of wood. More wood demand has called for changes in processes for these previously idle lumber suppliers, which has slowed production – and even worse, transporters impacted by Covid-19 risks has made for fewer available drivers to carry out shipments from mills and shipping ports.

Generally, one thing has led to another, causing a domino effect that’s triggered lumber prices to skyrocket, and has disrupted several industries.

What Does This Mean for Marketers & Print Projects

Yes, the paper shortage is concerning, but it doesn’t make print and direct mail marketing impossible or any less effective. With that said, don’t go overboard. Be aware of the materials you’re using and try to keep a close eye on the balance of supply and demand. While the lack of resources is a hurdle, the shortages are actually giving printers and marketers an opportunity to get creative with project execution by combining print with digital and trying new outreach possibilities.

How Can We Combat the Shortage?

There are several ways to work around the current hurdles we’re facing. The first? Using more digital technology wherever possible (and effective) – like QR codes, for example – to cut back on the paper needed to communicate a message or tell a story. Not only can QR codes and PURLs, or other tools help you use less paper, but they can help you more effectively track, monitor, and enhance your campaign. You can also try supplementing your multiple direct mail touches with other tools like digital ads and emails. A multichannel approach is always more impactful than a single channel, anyway.

Next, look into making your mailers, flyers, and other print marketing materials more cost effective by using a smaller paper weight, or stand out in the mail with a smaller but more uniquely shaped piece.

Lastly, look to work with a company with paper buying power and ample experience. They’ll be aware of the current issues, and will understand what’s best for your company’s marketing needs.

Reach Out

When it comes to shortages of any kind, remember to be patient and plan ahead. The paper shortage most likely won’t be around forever, but the more flexible you can be, the more you can mitigate the issue. After reading this, we hope you’re feeling a bit more knowledgeable of the current shortage as well as what you can do to combat it. If you’re interested in learning more about how Strata’s working through the shortage with our client (and on our personal projects), or are looking to work with us on your next multichannel marketing campaign, feel free to reach out.

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.