PPP: Cost-Effective Marketing

March 1, 2009
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Your customers are your livelihood, and you need them to buy your work on a regular basis. They know who you are, but do they think of you when the need arises? How can you market your company without breaking the bank? Following some very simple steps will help you grow your business through marketing in a cost-effective manner.

Business cards are often the first thing someone sees when you meet them for the first time, and the cards represent you when you aren’t there.

Define Yourself

The first step is to determine your brand. A brand is the identity of your organization. It is what people think of when they see your company name. No one element makes up a brand; it’s a patchwork of multiple factors, some tangible and some not, that tells your customers what you stand for and the type of ware they can expect when doing business with you. Whatever you do, define your brand and ensure that it’s conveyed in all materials.

Second, develop a powerful logo. The logo of your company is often the first thing someone sees. Do not take it for granted. It should communicate the values of your company-strong, dedicated, customer-focused, etc.-and be on all of your marketing and branding materials.

The third step is to design and print your marketing materials, including business cards, letterhead, brochures, note cards and post cards. Consistency is key, and all materials should have the same look and feel. Don’t underestimate the power of the business card when determining which products to incorporate into your marketing plan. Business cards are often the first thing someone sees when you meet them for the first time, and the cards represent you when you aren’t there.

Make sure your business cards are high-quality, full-color and make an immediate impact. Use the back side of the business card to include a map to your studio or a special coupon to drive more sales. If you leave the back of your business card blank, it’s a lost marketing opportunity.

Promote Yourself

Once you know who you are as a brand and what you want to convey, now it’s time to promote yourself. Stay in front of your customers every day and look for cost-effective options with staying power. Business card magnets are a great way to ensure that your customers will keep your business and contact information in a frequently viewed location like a filing cabinet or refrigerator. Also consider other giveaways that list your company name and contact information. The more you can stay top of mind, the better off you will be.

It is also important to go the extra mile and distribute your contact information anywhere you can. Design bright, colorful postcards that can be posted on bulletin boards all around town or handed out at exhibitions and galleries. Consider vertical cards (vs. the more traditional horizontal orientation) to stand out from the crowd. Include eye-catching photos or illustrations of your work, and consider offering discounts to encourage people to respond.

In addition to posting cards, design a direct marketing campaign to existing customers that makes an impact. Align your campaign with your brand and look for high-impact, full-color postcards that inform customers of your latest successes or upcoming sales. The design of the cards is important, so, again, consider a vertical orientation to stand out.

The frequency of the communication can also make a difference. Mail your customer base twice a month for the best response. If you have time, identify a reliable list broker and locate lists that make sense for your business. Direct marketing to potential customers can also be an effective way to grow sales.

All of your marketing materials should have the same look and feel.

Build Your Business

Now that you have customers, it’s important to use them to build your business. Customers must feel appreciated, and, let’s face it, there’s no substitute for a handwritten note. They are inexpensive and have a strong impact. Sending handwritten cards to key customers for special sales or discounts can be very effective. Handwritten thank you notes are also appreciated and make a lasting impression because they show that you go the extra mile.

Also, don’t forget the holidays. Holiday cards are an important way to let your customers know that you appreciate them. Pick high-quality, cost-effective color cards, and make sure that your logo and company message are integrated into them. Consider sending cards for Thanksgiving or customer birthdays. If you sell seasonal or cultural ware, use holiday cards to celebrate related holidays, like St. Patrick’s Day, or the beginning of summer.

While handwritten communication allows you to stand out, do not forget to communicate with your customers via e-mail in addition to regular mail. Match your e-signature to your business card with unique e-business cards-electronic versions of your business cards that are included in every e-mail.

And finally, encourage referrals. Your customers are your best sales force, and getting them to speak for you is extremely effective. Encourage customers to forward contact information via e-mail or in person. Consider a referral program that offers a discount or entry into a contest to anyone who refers a successful sale.

No matter your budget, these simple tips will enable you to keep your company’s name in front of your customers-and get your name in front of new customers-to directly impact your bottom line for years to come.   

For more marketing ideas, contact Vista Print at 95 Hayden Ave, Lexington, MA 02421; (800) 961-2075; e-mail publicrelations@vistaprint.com; or visit www.vistaprint.com.

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