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Wall Calendars

The Timeless Calendar Stays Alive

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WALL CALENDARS ARE STILL A FAMILY FAVORITE AND A GREAT CLIENT GIVE-A-WAY

Wall CalendarsMany clients are already thinking about 2020. Budgets are being prepared and programs are being decided. One of the tried and true promotional programs that offer high customization at a very low cost is the wall calendar. What else can you have hanging up in your client’s home/office for 365 days?

Many of our clients use this tool each year as a way to build awareness of their products and client interaction. Redwood Credit Union, Ohio University Credit Union, and Johns Hopkins Credit Union use the calendar to feature member provided photos. The result is a true work of art. Contra Costa Water District uses its calendar project to solicit children’s art and use each month to feature a drawing.

How will you use a calendar in 2020? Let us share some ideas with you!

Contact us to find out more!!

SpongeBob Characters Come Ashore At Comic-Con

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Nickelodeon’s agency, Cogswell Design, chose Westamerica to create their booth for the popular Comic-Con Convention in San Diego this summer. The convention generates an estimated 130,000 plus visitors, so the companies in attendance must deliver their very best impressions to reinforce their fan relationships. Combining animation with live-action elements, the booth posed a unique production challenge. Westamerica’s production planner, Scott Jehlik, said, “The client wanted a particular look requiring us to provide unique finishing solutions. We ‘skinned’ the entire structure, resulting in a visual masterpiece.”

Account Manager Raquel Keena, explained, “the highlight of the booth was a dimensional sign of Krusty Krab created from Infinity board that hung from the ceiling above the booth.”

Westamerica’s Client 2K Games Shine at Industry Show

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“BEST BOOTH” AWARD FEATURES SILICONE EDGE BACKLIT GRAPHICS (SEG)

Westamerica’s Display Graphics Division has been busy during this trade show season. Although much of the team’s work centers around large format printing for our diverse client base, many clients are now unleashing the creative production skills for unique trade show and event graphics.

Fronting the booth were the Calypso Twins, characters from the latest game.

Westamerica client 2K Games wanted to showcase the characters from their newest release, Borderlands 3, in a larger than life display presentation at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Sports Convention. The display featured extensive use of sublimated fabric stretched over SEG frames with back-lit highlights.

 

“The technology in the dye-sublimation area continues to improve,” said Dan Plomin, General Manager for Westamerica Display Graphics. “We are increasingly borrowing from Hollywood’s playbook when it comes to building our large designs. Consumers want an immersive experience and we need to deliver at a higher level with each new project. Back-lit signage adds another dimension of engagement.”

The booth garnered special attention from the industry publication, Digital Trends giving it the designation of “Best Booth” among the 101 participating exhibitors at the show.

 

 

 

Special thanks to the GPJ Agency and SPS Studios for the great coverage and photography shown.

AFCU Showcases Community Engagement in Video

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SEES VIDEO AS A NATURAL COMPLEMENT TO THEIR ANNUAL REPORT

The team at Affinity Federal Credit Union longed for a better way to communicate their mission to both members and potential members. While their annual report served up key financial information and the traditional forward-looking perspective, they wanted to incorporate the emotion and feelings that only a video can generate. They turned to Westamerica’s Video Production Services.

Working with Account Manager Bree Booth, their team decided that a dedicated “Mission Video” would deliver on AFCU’s key objectives in all forms of media to:

  • Explain the credit union’s purpose
  • Celebrate the commitment to the community
  • Highlight the credit union’s focus on financial well-being

“In addition to getting the main message across, we also wanted to make sure that the content within the video was easily transferable to other media,” explained Bree.

“While a video itself is very powerful, there are many avenues to repurpose and reuse video segments in other areas such as in-branch, social media, the website, employee newsletters and intranet, and more. The content created within a single video has much potential for additional impact.”

The messaging strategy was deliberately very broad and designed to relate to a large group of viewers, including current members, potential members, the general public, staff, and other stakeholders. The AFCU team’s goal was to communicate that it is a member-centric organization that equally balances what’s best for the member with what’s best for the institution.

In order to reinforce credibility and support the brand promise, Westamerica utilized client-provided photos and videos from AFCU events accented with diverse stock footage.

Watch the video here. 

The 2:17 video is now featured throughout their organization and on social media platforms.

Backlit Fabric Printing

Value in Fabric Printing

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Fabric Puts Your Brand Everywhere

The pace of change in the fabric printing and graphics industry is phenomenal. Today it’s possible for Westamerica to custom design a room, from floor to ceiling…and everything in between. Imagine a room with custom designed upholstery for the couch and chairs, a custom printed rug, and custom window clings and wall coverings. Today’s SEG (Silicone Edge Graphics) fabric displays allow you to do just about anything.

Fabric means new design opportunities for brands

Marketers have pushed the industry and the evolution has begun. Once associated with simple advertising messages, new technology delivers the key benefits that marketers demand including:

Visual Impact – Fabric looks great. Consider it a high-definition image when it’s mounted to a back-lit display frame. It has a more natural, organic look and fabric doesn’t reflect like vinyl. This is extremely important for signage at events that will be broadcast over the Internet or on television.Backlit Fabric

Portability – Fabric is also easier to handle than vinyl. A fabric sign can be folded and shipped with ease. Fabric can weigh as much as 75% less than vinyl, which results in a significant reduction in shipping costs.

Sustainability – Fabric printed signage is biodegradable and can be repurposed for other uses.

More options than ever before

In the past, when you considered fabric, you basically had two options – screen printing (like promotional T-shirts) and dye sublimation (like fashion clothing or upholstery). However, today’s digital technology allows you to even personalize fabric prints. It’s now cost effective to print a single, high quality printed fabric item in a similar manner you might print a single poster. And when it comes to size there are virtually no limits. Imagine the ability to print on fabric that measures ten feet in width and unlimited length. And, if you want something even wider, panels can be printed and sewn together.

Sustainable and environmentally friendly

Wide format printing uses significantly less ink and reduces waste, when compared to screen-printing and other solutions like vinyl. The eco-friendly, water-based inks can be used to produce an unlimited variety of designs, images, and graphics with an unlimited variety of vivid colors. Discover how your visual display marketing can reach new levels of impact with fabrics! Request a sample from your Westamerica representative or see our work!

The “Active for Good” Challenge

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In the fast-paced marketing communications business, there can be days when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges we face on a tough project. At times like these, I’ve heard folks who are trying to put things into perspective say, “Hey, we’re not saving lives here.” Well, the truth is, our Westamerica Communications family recently had an opportunity to actually save a few lives. We did it by getting a little more active. And we had a blast doing it together.

On World Food Day, October 16, we began a challenge that, when completed, would help save the lives of young children who live halfway around the world and also benefit members of our staff. We partnered with Active for Good and took part in a 30-day activity challenge.

Active For Good provides companies and groups with activity challenges that utilize purpose as a motivator. These challenges connect physical activity with a great cause. In this case, the goal is to double the global budget for Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), the main line of defense against Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

Without intervention, a child who suffers from SAM, and survives, will suffer from other disorders later in life including the loss of motor skills and stunted growth. With just a six-week treatment of three RUTF packets a day, more than 90% of children recover. These 500-calorie packets contain peanut paste, milk, and a unique mix of vitamins and minerals designed to treat children, six

months to six years of age, who have been diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition. These easy-to-open food-grade packets do not require added water, cooking or refrigeration, and have a two-year shelf life.

Now imagine a group of individuals who, by participating in an activity challenge, can provide these life-saving nutritional food packets to malnourished children in developing countries. The more active the participants, the more points they earn. The points convert into money to buy the RUTF packets.

There’s something to be said for, “Purpose as a motivator.” The idea of doing something for someone else, participating in an activity to provide life-saving food for children, has an impact on people’s lives. We all know we should eat right and exercise, but many times we don’t act on that knowledge. Doing something for someone else gives us a reason to set a goal. Requiring an action, not just writing a check, engages the participants on both a physical and deeper emotional level.

The Challenge Begins

To begin the challenge, we divided into three teams. Our Team Captains were super pumped for the challenge. Whether participants walked, ran, rode a bike or swam – whatever they enjoyed doing to get active – that activity would convert into points to help their team, the company, and the children.

Active for Good does a great job at keeping the emotional level high. Each participant can download the Active for Good app that tracks their activity and notifies them as they reach new levels. Individuals earn points for steps (walking around) and for minutes of activity. The app displays one leaderboard for individuals and another for teams. This creates a little competition, both between and within teams. People can also connect the app to their Apple Health or Google Fit systems that come with their mobile phone or connect the app to their Garmin or Fitbit. The app’s real-time display was a motivator for those who were close to an activity milestone.

Participants also received individual emails as they went through the challenge. Once they gathered 500 points, they were notified that “You’ve just provided your first meal for a child.” The email also contained a link to a video that showed how the packets are made.

Super active participants could earn a couple packets a day. When participants reached 150 packets, one treatment for a child, an email went out saying, “You just saved a life.”

As the challenge progressed, participants were also notified by email of the Most Improved Team and Most Improved Person.

Westamerica’s Active for Good Challenge

Our employees truly embraced this 30-day challenge. Many averaged over 500 points a day, while more active employees averaged over 700 points a day. Among the 72 participates, I heard words like, “crushing it,” “neck and neck,” “taking it to the next level,” and “untouchable.” The competition was fierce but friendly.

We wrapped up our Active for Good challenge on November 16th. I’m proud to say that our teams earned 1,706 ready-to-use therapeutic food packets thus saving 11 young children suffering from the effects of severe acute malnutrition. These packets will be distributed in Somalia, South Sudan, and other countries by aid organizations like UNICEF, Feed the Children, and World Vision.

This attempt at recycling calories proved to be beneficial both for the employees who took part in the challenge and the children who benefited from their actions.

As a way of recognizing the efforts of our teams, we presented trophies to individuals who reached specific milestones. Congratulations to all of the employees who participated.

If you’re curious about the positive impact you or your company can have on children in developing countries, click here.

Is Your Marketing Playbook Ready for 2019?

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“We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts and then you will run a mile. Perfection! Let’s go to work.”

– Remember the Titans

Planning and preparation creates perfection. It makes the difference between unremarkable results and extraordinary ones. Anything extraordinary takes planning.

Do you want 2019 to be extraordinary? Then you must have a plan.

Creating a Successful Marketing Plan

Good marketing is crucial to help you achieve your company objectives. A good marketing plan will help you connect to your target audience, boost your customer base, blunt your competitive threats and ultimately, increase your bottom line.

Consumers have all the power these days. They are actively looking for points of distinction before making buying decisions, and they’re not afraid to shift their loyalty. So it’s up to you to keep your unique features right out front to ensure that your product/service is there when the customer is ready to buy.

Now is the Time

As we approach the end of the year, now is a good time to reflect on this current year’s efforts. How successful were your campaigns? What worked? What didn’t? What should you do differently next time? You need to gather concrete data and use it for future planning.

Do you have any objective data to consider such as email tracking, promotional codes, a unique phone number, business reply forms and other techniques to measure response rates? Calculate ROI on those projects and use that insight to build future efforts focusing on which efforts are working, eliminating those that aren’t.

Based on the data from this year’s marketing efforts, start building a marketing plan for 2019.

Key Elements of a Marketing Plan

Whether you’re developing a B2B or B2C marketing plan, successful campaigns begin with research. This requires you to get involved and stay informed. What are the needs of your target audience? What are the trends in the current market? What are the latest regulations that might affect their business? What are your competitors up to? The more you can keep in touch with overall conditions, the better.

As you answer these questions, start thinking of how you can craft a compelling message in a way that answers the needs of your prospective clients. While it’s good to explain the product features, it’s better to describe benefits. And it’s even better to clearly show how those benefits can make their life more comfortable, more enjoyable, or more rewarding.

Developing an Integrated Marketing Plan

Today you have to deliver your message in more than one format. By leveraging all the appropriate media, you can capture additional opportunities for communicating. Television and radio spots, lobby videos, your website, email blasts, social media, and other techniques will reach a wide variety of demographics at various times and places. Using the right mix of all the key tools, in line with your budget limitations and marketing opportunities, is the ultimate goal. It’s all about striking a balance.

Building an Effective Marketing Plan is Easy

How can you develop an effective marketing plan? At Westamerica Communications, we provide clients with a workbook to help them assess, refine, create and build a marketing plan. Our 2019 Marketing Calendar & Planner contains proven guidelines for success. Some of these include:

  • Setting specific, realistic objectives
  • Targeting clients in terms of demographics, needs, wants and “hot-buttons”
  • Determining the most effective medium: direct mail, radio/TV, direct selling, email, social media, in-branch merchandising
  • Reviewing past promotional results and challenges to help predict future opportunities

Even a relatively small marketing project can have lots of moving parts. The key to tying them all together is consistent communication. Internal coordination can help minimize redundancies, revisions and false starts, which often add extra time and cost to a project. Working with Westamerica gives you a real advantage with external coordination, eliminating the need for multiple vendors and keeping you firmly in control.

Careful planning will help make 2019 an extraordinary year for your business. If you’d like to receive the 2019 Marketing Calendar & Planner, you can find it HERE

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” 

― Yogi Berra

Get Outside the “Blur” and Improve Your Effectiveness

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How much time do you get each day to spend thinking vs. doing, proacting vs. reacting and innovating versus executing?

Probably not as much as you’d like. Most people would like to find a way to increase their overall results but also get back some quality time in their work lives.

 

 Living your life inside “the blur”

 The “Blur” is what I’m calling our professional space inside this work-a-day world.

We jump on the treadmill in the morning and it keeps on moving until the day is over. Like the poem above says, streaks of color and (sometimes) nothing more. It can feel like a blur.

Your days are moving faster and faster too. Part of that is due your natural aging process. Each year you live the “faster” life moves. It’s a mathematical formula at work. Each year is a smaller part of the years that you have already lived therefore it moves “faster.” Or so it seems to.

More blur. Life can pass you by before you know it.

As I reflect on the “typical” day of a 21st Century Marketer, it’s easy to see why one can become a victim of blur or “blurnout.”

There are several things at work…

  1.  Technology allows us to conduct work 24/7. And some of you are actually doing that!
  2.  Marketing creative software (from web creation, email, and graphic design) has been simplified to create content easier and faster. That means the manager or staff, can now do everything themselves…and they do!
  3.  Information is now accessible from anywhere at any time. That means if you want to know how a program is performing, you can find out, immediately. And you do!

This is life in the blur. And it’s not necessarily a path to success.

 Stop the blur, I want to get off!

Getting outside the “blur” is important for marketers. Creating great marketing ideas typically doesn’t happen while you are juggling five activities at once. The typical marketer today is writing content for a blog, checking social media for status, reviewing the web traffic numbers, creating designs and promotions and even talking to customers. This leaves precious time for coming up with that killer campaign idea. Or, the next great new product.

Staying in the blur is not the recipe for success.

In a recent article by Lindsey Elias, The Importance of Downtime, she outlined three recent studies identifying the importance of downtime.

  1. A 2011 study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign helped put a decades-old theory to rest when it proved that even brief diversions from tasks can drastically improve a person’s ability to focus on the job at hand for prolonged periods of time.
  2. A Harvard Business Review article discussing research led by Sophie Ellwood details a scenario where undergraduate psychology students were broken into groups to complete a common task. It was found that the group which had been given a break to work on an unrelated task during the activity was also the one that generated the most ideas.
  3. A Study from the University of British Columbia shows that “our brains are much more active when we daydream than previously thought. Activity in numerous brain regions increases when our minds wander, according to new research. Psychologists found that brain areas associated with complex problem-solving—previously thought to go dormant when we daydream—are in fact highly active during these episodes.”

How to be more productive with more downtime

Rosalie Puiman writes in the Huffington Post that there is not just one sort of downtime, there are at least three types, and we need all of them.

  1. The first is sleep. Solid, good quality sleep gives your brain the possibility to revive itself and the body. It’s an opportunity to incorporate everything you’ve experienced during the day.
  2. The second sort of downtime is a vacation. A longer period (at least three to five days) of being away from work is a great way to revitalize. By being away from your normal routine, you get the chance to look at your life from a different perspective.
  3. The third form of downtime is both the smallest and the hardest. It’s those little nuggets of emptiness in your head that come from meditation, a nature walk, playing sports or just enjoying a cappuccino on a terrace in the middle of your working day.

They sound easy enough, as they are relatively short, but the challenge is in the continuity. Our brain needs this type of downtime several times during the day. Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project proposes to have a break after every 90 minutes of work to be optimally productive.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you are finding that you simply don’t have enough time in your day take a very hard look at what you are doing. Can somebody else do it for you? Can you outsource certain projects to a qualified agency for some relief?

You really do your best and most original thinking between the blurs. You owe it to yourself to find some extra time in the day!

Understanding the Increase in Paper Prices

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Our country’s economy is moving along at an impressive pace. Consumer confidence is up while unemployment is at its lowest rate in decades. All of this is good news. An increase in employment rates means more money will be spent on goods and services. Those goods and services need promotional materials and packaging, which is good for all of us here at Westamerica. The problem is, greater demand for print materials means greater demand for paper. And demand can’t always keep up with supply.

There are a number of outside influences that affect the demand for paper, which in turn result in increased costs. One big change that is having a major effect on the paper industry comes from China.

China and Paper Prices

As the world’s largest paper recycler, China uses both local and imported waste paper to produce pulp used in the production of recycled paper. Until recently, some 24% of this waste paper was imported from the United States, Europe, and other countries. At the beginning of 2018, China stopped accepting most waste paper, along with 23 other kinds of solid waste including plastic and electronic waste. Chinese officials have said the ban on importing solid waste is due to the environmental impact it has on the health of their people.

This event has caused an enormous problem. China does a lot of printing and much of the paper they’ve used for printing came from the recycled paper they made from the imported waste paper. If China is no longer taking waste paper and turning it into pulp, they must now buy that pulp on the open market. Some estimates show that China is now consuming over 30% of the world’s pulp.

The second factor having a major impact on the cost of paper is the closing of a number of paper mills throughout the country. Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, and Kimberly-Clark are just three of the many paper companies that have closed some of their manufacturing facilities. This leads to a tightening supply of US inventory levels.

In 2017 there was a reduction in both coated and uncoated paper production and 2018 will see additional declines from 8-9% of these grades.

Transportation Costs

Another situation that’s having a negative impact on the paper industry is the rising cost of transportation. There are two significant factors causing the increase in transportation. First is the lack of truck drivers. The trucking industry needs to hire almost 900,000 more drivers to meet rising demand, according to an industry analyst.

Second is the cost associated with trucking has gone up. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted the electronic logging device rule or ELD mandate. Carriers must have installed ELDs to electronically record a driver’s “Record of Duty Status” by the end of 2017. This mandate, in part, has led carriers to increased contract rates by 10%-15%. Add to this, the increase in gas prices and you can understand the increase in transportation costs.

Westamerica Can Help

While these increased costs will affect all print vendors, at Westamerica we feel we are in a unique position to help mitigate some of these increases.

First, understand that paper and transportation are only part of the cost associated with your printed products.

Second, we have invested in equipment and employee training that can offset some of these increases.

For example, our Komori H-UV system reduces power consumption by 66% over a conventional UV press. There is also a significant reduction in makeready time and materials.

In addition, both our Komori and our digital presses have the ability to print on a wide variety of paper stocks. Our equipment allows for greater flexibility in paper choice, which allows you to select paper that meets both your design goals and your financial requirements.

Westamerica’s digital printing capabilities allow for more economical shorter runs, while our variable data printing capabilities allow us to run multiple versions of a job on the same stock at the same time.

In addition to our equipment, our highly trained team will help you design and produce your product in a cost effective manner. Our sales reps, CSRs, and designers understand the unique challenges you face in reaching your marketing goals. For example, something as simple as a slightly different paper stock, available in a different size, may meet your goals and result in a cost-effective product.

As these changes take place, I encourage you to reach out to our team for help. It’s important that we work together to help you realize your marketing goals.

The Digital Playground is Getting Crowded

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The digital playground is getting very crowded these days. The big kids are bringing in their newest toys and establishing the rules. And it didn’t take long for many smaller players to offer up their own unique solutions allowing companies at every level to create their own digital media operation.

In 2017 Digital ad spending reached $209 Billion worldwide (41% of the market) surpassing TV advertising at $178 Billion (35% of the market).

In fact, by 2020 Digital will continue to grow at double digits and is estimated to represent half of all media expenses.

While digital continues to grow, seemingly unabated, how are some marketers cutting through despite the ever-crowded landscape?

Digital is not the same as other media

Strategists from all walks of life agree that to get noticed you have to be different. In a digital environment where one can’t differentiate by platform (virtually all the advertising platforms offer similar general experience), the messaging must alone do all the heavy lifting.

While your ad recipient is in the middle of lunch, a visit to the restroom, or doing who knows what, your ad will be presented. While they multi-task in the midst of another mindless activity they may be reading your message—or not.

That’s probably why Forbes reported in 2017 that the “recollected reach”—the percentage of total population reached who recall a campaign—is lowest for digital media (online banners and videos), hitting a ceiling at around 30%.

By comparison, television advertising is far more scalable. While it is much more costly than digital media for reaching relatively few consumers, TV messages are recollected at a higher rate—as high as 60%, according to one study.

Although the ads that are running on TV and Digital might be the same, the interest level is higher with TV.

With the total media spending of Digital and TV both continuing to grow and slicing up the viewership spectrum into every smaller segments, where do marketers go to stand out?

“Contrarian marketing tactics” that harken back to an earlier time

Big players are reassessing their media budgets and allocating more resources to direct mail. The old standby still has strong proponents that value creating an experience with their product at the point of communication.

The issue of the right mix is always at play. According to Denise Lee Yohn, writing in the Harvard Business Review, multi-channel shopping and buying is on the rise, and retailers know that customers who use more than one of their channels are usually the most valuable.

Nordstrom reports that customers who have a multi-channel relationship with the brand spend four times as much as those who do not. Bonobos shares similar results, with Craig Elbert, vice president of marketing, reporting that 20% of the website’s first-time customers are placing their orders after having received a catalog and are spending one and a half times as much as new shoppers who didn’t receive a catalog first.

In the past month I have received a magazine from my credit card company, Restoration Hardware and a Taylor Guitar newsletter. Could these have been sent digitally? Of course they could have. Would I have read them? Probably not!

When a relationship matters, direct mail says it best

These companies took the time and incurred the expense to send me their information in an effort to build a relationship. They are affording me a deeper, more intimate look at their services, their people, their stories and their successes.

It seems to be working. According to the DMA, more direct mail is being sent out and consumer response rates are up. Engagement is growing as the clutter declines.

Direct mail plays well with others

At Westamerica we like to say, “dominate both mailboxes.” The most successful campaigns leverage all appropriate media to ensure that messaging is cutting across all relevant channels to ensure the highest reach. That means using digital media and complementary media offline, like direct mail. Direct mail mixes well with most other forms of media and very well with digital through cross-promotion technologies.

Now that digital media is moving into a mature category it means other media shares will be stabilizing. We believe in the midst of this direct mail will be growing at even higher rates.