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American Disabilities Act Now Extended to Website Design

By Blog

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability

The ADA was originally built to create compliance for the physical world — buildings, sidewalks, and restrooms. However, with the growth of web-based retailing, the ADA is now being expanded to include accessibility to websites and the digital world. Just as a physical building can be difficult to navigate for a disabled person, a website can have barriers too.

Today many marketing content creators fail to consider the blind and deaf, or simply those that cannot use a mouse to navigate their websites.  Today many disabled persons use “assistive technology,” such as screen readers or voice recognition software and designers should be mindful of how those tools will interpret their site.

Depending on your business, you may be affected by this changing legislation.

How do I comply with ADA standards?

Simple adjustments in your content can make it more accessible for the disabled.  The ADA requirements for websites are currently evolving as the law has not been firmly established.

While the government is finalizing rules to make and enforce accessibility in websites, the ADA encourages the use of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) as a guide on how to make your site accessible.

WCAG 2.0 was published in December, 2008 and became an official international standard for website accessibility in 2012. These guidelines were first established in 1999 through the work of Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

WCAG is organized as 12 guidelines under 4 principles (POUR):

Perceivable: Web content is made available to the senses – sight, hearing, and/or touch

Operable: Interface forms, controls, and navigation are operable

Understandable: Content and interface are understandable

Robust: Site should work in all environments

Below are some tips to help ensure you are ADA compliant

1) Add text to your images

An image can say 1000 words, but what happens when you can’t see the image?  A blind person will often use a screen reader when browsing the web.  Without text being added to your image, their screen reader would not be able to identify the image.  They would have no way of knowing if the image contains your logo, link to another page or if it was simply a stock photo.

As Example – your website may contain an image of your new location.  A blind person should be able to use their screen reader to go over the image and hear “photo of new branch located at XXX”

2) Modify PDF’s to become reader friendly

Image based formats such as PDF’s can be challenging to the visually impaired.  Make sure your PDFs are screen reader friendly, the images are tagged and ordered correctly.

3) Use color appropriately

Do not use color as the only means of conveying visual information, distinguishing visual components, indicating actions or prompting for a response.

4) Using video may require additional audio descriptions

If video is used in any of your marketing / online material, be sure to include audio descriptions of what is being displayed.  Make sure the user has the ability to pause the video, control content in the case of blinking or scrolling information and turn on or off captions.

5) Provide alternate means of communication

Be sure to have a procedure in place to respond quickly to a website visitor with disabilities who is having trouble accessing your site.  This could be a phone number to call, email address or text box allowing someone to request accessible service or information.

The checklist is not meant to be comprehensive but rather a guide of best practices.

You should always contact your compliance resource manager, or legal counsel if you have questions regarding ADA compliance.

Looking for help creating ADA compliant marketing material? Westamerica Communications can help, contact us today!

eagle cu front signage

Eagle Credit Union Branch Opening

By Blog

Westamerica delivers comprehensive merchandising support

Long-time client, Eagle Credit Union, was looking to open a new branch and wanted Westamerica to help with their signage and in branch experience.  Working with our Wide Format Merchandising and Signage experts, Eagle was able to build an innovative, exciting and effective solution for their new small footprint format.  This was a new building for Eagle, so the team was able to start with a blank canvas and develop a comprehensive solution.

Our program support consisted of the following:

  • Outdoor Lighted Building Signage (for the Branch)
  • Indoor Wall Signage
  • Timeline display sharing the key milestones of the credit untion’s history
  • Office Faux Frost Etchings
  • Mailbox Wrap
  • Custom Clock Face
  • Testing for fit and placement before final install
  • Final install

Westamerica provides the following merchandising and display graphic options:

  • Window Graphics
  • Environmental Signage
  • Office Signage
  • Vehicle Wraps
  • Retail Solutions
  • 3D Structural Display Design
  • Trade Show Solutions
  • And More!



Contact us today to learn more!

q working

The Creative Mind behind Some of Our Most Iconic Projects

By Blog

Meet Suzanne “Q” Aloi, Westamerica’s Senior Art Director

When we create beautiful print collateral, packaging and websites it takes a group of highly trained and extremely talented individuals to get the job done. There are technicians that prep, print or write the code for these projects and there are creatives that imagine and design the project. To make these projects come together many times it takes a technician who is creative and a designer who has strong technical skills.

For the past 18 years, We have had the pleasure of working with a creative individual who has imagined and designed some of our most iconic work. We’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Aloi, the Senior Art Director here at Westamerica Communications. Everyone around our facility calls her “Q.”

We recently sat down and spoke with Q to learn a little more about her life and her work here at Westamerica.

When did you become interested in graphic design?

My mother was an artist so I grew up doing a lot of creative things especially drawing. In junior high, I was lucky enough to have access to art and design classes, one of them was Yearbook. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed the design process and that it could be my career. I was provided opportunities to apply my skills in a commercial capacity early on and I designed my first professional logo when I was 13. I enjoyed the challenge of creating an illustration or trademark that is so simple, yet communicates quickly as an icon.

Which designers do you like and which have influenced your work?

Paul Rand tops my list. As Louis Danziger, one of my favorite instructors at Art Center, once said of him “He almost singlehandedly convinced business that design was an effective tool.” He was a visionary who transformed advertising and pioneered a fresh, modern approach to selling products. I really admire his corporate identity work, but he did everything. He demonstrated so well the simple idea that graphic design can, and should, be both beautiful and functional.

Did you go to school to train or was most of your training on the job?

Both. I was a self-motivated kid so in high school I had an independent study program. By then I was fairly busy freelancing with logos, portraits and various illustration projects. I was able to work on those at school and get class credits at the same time. Endless doodling in class lead one teacher to introduce me to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and that’s where I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Packaging & Communication Design. It’s been a lot of years since I graduated and I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented people on all kinds of creative challenges. I learn from every person and every project so I consider on the job training an ongoing endeavor. I love to learn so I continue to take courses to keep my skills current.

What are three of your favorite projects at Westamerica Communications and why?

I’m happy to say there is a long list to choose from after all these years.

#1 The Contra Costa Water District

We created a series of informational wall graphics for the newly built John Muir Interpretive Center at Los Vaqueros Reservoir. Each focused on various aspects of the wildlife, history, ecosystem, and conservation of the watershed. Nature and history are a passion of mine so I love working on projects that teach me something in the design process.

As part of the fifth-grade science curriculum, students learn about the water system and canal safety. I was challenged to illustrate a fun, cartoonish map showing cities, roads, canals, trails, pump stations, and reservoirs as well as a long list of notable places, activities, and animals. It took several months to complete. I like that these projects utilized my illustration and design skills and they’re visually fun to look at. But more importantly, they’re serving a purpose as valuable educational tools for generations to come.

#2 Mellanox Technologies Inc., International Sales Incentive Program

With prizes like a new Range Rover, an all-inclusive safari, and other attractive prizes, the marketing of this specific program played on the allure of travel and adventure.

We created an early 20th-century vintage suitcase, complete with a magnetic clasp and a plastic handle. The case contained expansive creative content, including a passport, brochure, and campaign letter sent to all participants. To keep the program exciting, each month participants received a collection of “travel style” stickers featuring prizes and features to place on their suitcase. These monthly letters with stickers served to update the sales team and keep everyone focused and motivated.

This project was a great example of our full-service expertise. Our team was able to single-handedly provide structural and digital design, email and web creative content, along with print, all supporting one central campaign.

#3 Almost everything I have done for Shimano Fishing

I love fishing and the outdoors, so working on their brochures, catalogs, packaging design, logo designs, trade show graphics… a wide variety of projects, all were just a bit more fun and interesting because I love the subject matter and enjoy the high-quality products myself!

Thank you Q, Westamerica wouldn’t be the same without you!


CUNA Dominate both mailboxes

Dominate Digital and the Offline Mailbox

By Blog

Dominate Both Mailboxes

When working with clients, the discussion inevitably turns to digital versus online marketing. Clients are looking for a strong ROI. They want to know if their money would be better spent on an online campaign using email and social media or a traditional campaign using direct mail and brochures.

We explain to our clients the advantages and disadvantages of direct mail advertising. We also lay out the advantages and disadvantages of online marketing. And most of the time, we show them that the biggest advantage is to dominate both mailboxes with a combination of online and traditional marketing techniques.

Digital marketing vs online marketing

When considering online and traditional marketing we must first understand the benefits of each medium. Daniel Dejan, Print Creative Manager for SAPPI North America, describes how individuals process online and traditional print advertising as “bilateral literacy.” Ink on paper is more penetrating; it has a much longer mnemonic retention. Online material, on the other hand, is information that we need to get through quickly. It’s features, advantages, pricing, and linking to other information, which is very valuable in our society.

In today’s environment consumers seeking quick and convenient information turn to online sources for immediate gratification. But, if we’re looking for information on a subject that will have a long-term impact on our lives, we want it in print.

The roles of print and online in a marketing campaign

When considering online and traditional marketing we must also consider the role that each plays in a marketing campaign. Research from Google shows that many times traditional media is the stimulus that begins a search on mobile. 48% of smartphone readers are performing mobile queries off of ads they see in magazines, 35% search off of posters and billboards, while 57% do so from in-store promotions and 58% from TV.

Another report from Google shows that nearly a third of searches are started by individuals who have received mail, like a catalog or brochure, at their home from a brand or manufacturer.

The importance of data and targeting in a marketing campaign

The importance of data and targeting cannot be overemphasized in a marketing campaign. Gone are the days of “spray and pray” campaigns. Whether you are a start-up or an established company, understanding data is paramount in creating a successful campaign. The proper use of data will allow for personalization and relevance and that’s what fuels a true omnichannel strategy in both print and digital.

Today’s technology allows both online and traditional marketing campaigns to better target potential clients. Companies who use direct mail need a partner to help with mailing lists and mailing services along with direct mail copywriting and direct mail design. Companies who use online marketing need many of the same services including email lists, copywriting, and design. And, if you are planning an integrated campaign using both online and traditional channels, a marketing partner that can do both is a big advantage.

The importance of tracking and ROI in a marketing campaign

If you plan to dominate both the inbox and the mailbox then tracking the effectiveness of both are important. Digital tracking is possible with click-through rates and analytics. To track direct mail you need to make sure that any point of contact listed on your direct mail piece – phone number, URL, coupon code, etc. – is unique and trackable.

When discussing ROI one must consider response rates and cost per acquisition. The Direct Mail Association (DMA) reports that email has an ROI of 124% and direct mail, including catalogs, drives in excess of a 5% response rate.

The DMA also reports that nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.

Utilizing both traditional and digital marketing techniques allows your company’s message to be spread across many different channels and helps you dominate both mailboxes.


Newsletters and Your Marketing Strategy

By Blog

Why Newsletters Should be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Remember the story of the shoemaker’s children who had no shoes? Well, we here at Westamerica Communications have taken that story to heart and are about to do something we haven’t done for a while. We’re publishing a print newsletter.

We’ve created company newsletters for a wide variety of clients. We design and print newsletters all the time, just not for ourselves. So, why now?

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing Statistics

We do quite a bit of marketing for our company. We write and publish blogs on social media and on our website. We send email blasts. We attend trade shows and sponsor community events.

Recently, we took some time to examine our marketing efforts and noticed that many of our efforts are ephemeral.

A post on Facebook virtually disappears as a follower scrolls through their feed. And emails seem to disappear in a flood of inbox communications. In 2015, the average office worker received 122 emails a day. I’m sure it’s even more today.

Then there’s the open and click-through rate of online communications. The average click-through rate for Facebook Industrial Services ads is 0.71%. The average email open rate for the Marketing and Advertising Industry is 17.81%. And the click-through rate is 1.92%.

And, once opened, how much do people remember what they read online? There’s a large body of evidence that shows that recall is higher among individuals who are exposed to a printed ad, such as a direct mail piece, versus a digital ad.

One report I saw says that physical “Touch has the power to shift the brain into a deeper level of engagement, one more conducive to building lasting knowledge.” And, when it comes to recall, research shows a 3:1 advantage for print over digital.

With this knowledge in hand, we decided to add something to our marketing mix that would allow our clients to engage with our brand on a more physical level.

Direct Mail Marketing

The first thing to remember about a newsletter is that the United States Postal Service will deliver it. This adds a whole new dimension to the phrase “open rates.”

Research shows that “In a world of email, texts, and social media, 41% of Americans nevertheless look forward to checking what is in their mailbox each day.” And that includes 36% of millennials who also feel this way.

When compared with online marketing, direct mail marketing is the “king” of open rates. Take a minute and think of how you “open” your mail.

Every day you go to your mailbox, like millions of other people. You open the box and remove the stack of mail. You may do as I do. There’s one stack for bills, one stack for “I’ll read it now,” one stack for “I’ll read it later,” and one stack for the recycle bin.

Notice, whichever stack the mail was placed on, I had to look, touch, and read every single piece of mail. I may not have read through every piece of mail but I did read enough to know which stack to place it on.

The quality of the newsletter’s design, images, and paper will determine on to which stack it will be placed.

Don’t just take my word for it. Kim Walsh Phillips, Founder and CEO of Elite Digital Group, says print newsletters are “the secret weapon in your social media marketing arsenal.”

My business empire has been built with print newsletters as its foundation and a centerpiece around which everything else orbits. Well over 50% of my high-value private clients rise up out of the newsletter subscriber base — it would cost me a fortune to find them otherwise.” – Kim Walsh Phillips

Now keep in mind, Phillips runs a company that helps other companies with their onlinemarketing and she uses print newsletters to grow her own company.

Her article in Entrepreneur makes some great points about the benefits of a print newsletter. She also talks about creating an effective newsletter. I encourage you to read her article.

At Westamerica we understand that, when it comes to marketing, it’s not “either or” it’s both. We will continue using online marketing as part of our awareness campaigns in addition to our company newsletter. In fact, we are repurposing some of our online material by using it in our newsletter. In addition, we’ll link to our online materials from our offline products. We’ll do this because the marketing universe is huge and we want to reach our current and prospective clients where they live, work and play.

If you’d like to check out our newsletter, send an email to and I’ll get one out to you.

Templeton Rye Packaging

Creative packaging helps distributor sell multiple brands

By Blog

High quality gift pack increases retail presence.

The competition for promotional space during the holidays is fierce. That’s why the Templeton Rye distributor turned to Westamerica for a creative solution leading up to the important holiday sell-in period.

The distributor was looking for a way to marry multiple products together for a holiday gift promotion. Westamerica’s engineers found that less can be more  then it comes to packaging, and designed a gift pack that incorporated recipes and other necessary information while keeping the focus on the product and quality. The gift pack featured their  Templeton Rye Small Batch Whiskey and a popular brand of vermouth.

To lower shipping costs and increase store presence, unique display cases were designed directly into the product shippers!

The result was a handsome gift package that displayed nicely in-store and generated increased revenue and profit.

Marketing In Outer Space

How Can You Launch Your Branding into Outer Space?

By Blog

Who Does This?

Who straps a $100,000 car onto a rocket and sends it into space? A genius, that’s who. Or, to be more precise, a marketing genius. In one shot Elon Musk took branding to a whole new level, literally.

Branding is “the perception a consumer has when they hear or think of your company name, service or product.” If you mention space or space travel to anyone under 30 they’ll talk about Elon Musk, SpaceX, and a car traveling to Mars. If you speak with anyone over 50 they’ll talk about NASA, Neil Armstrong, and the moon landing. The perception of space travel has changed.

It’s not just the perception that has changed. Space and space travel are now branded with the Tesla and SpaceX logos. And, with his latest feat, marketing genius Elon Musk has media outlets all over the world talking about his two biggest companies.

The launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket, with the Tesla Roadster in its nose cone, was live streamed over the Internet. Every major news outlet carried the event along with interviews of Musk after the successful launch.

On numerous YouTube channels, you can watch as the cherry red convertible Tesla Roadster, complete with its “Starman” passenger clad in a SpaceX designed pressure spacesuit, orbits the earth on its way to Mars.

Of course, the Internet has helped to spread the “news” with a series of memes that are hilarious. My favorite was from @AngelList on Twitter. It reads, “California Man Finally Finds Way to Beat Traffic.”

The best part of this marketing campaign is that it doesn’t feel like a marketing campaign. This is due, in large part, to Musk’s authenticity. He’s real. People can relate to him.

  • He’s a gamer. His favorite video game is Overwatch.
  • He’s a dad. He posts pictures and videos of his children’s birthday parties.
  • He interacts with his followers on social media. He tweets like he’s talking with his friends, not followers.
  • He is current with pop culture. He watches Rick & MortySouth Park, and The Simpsons.

Musk is reaching consumers on a very personal level. For example, Falcon, the family of multi-use rockets developed and operated by SpaceX, is named after the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars fame.

Musk also pays homage to Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,by placing a plaque on the dashboard of his cherry-red Tesla Roadster that reads, “Don’t Panic.” And in a Twitter discussion with fans, Musk revealed that there’s a towel and a copy of the book in the glove compartment.

These are just a few of the many ways Musk relates to the “common man.” He includes references to the rock music mockumentary Spinal Tap, the movie Space Balls, and the comedy group Monty Python in many of his products.

All of these actions make Musk a typical guy with whom you can relate. I can’t think of any other billionaire that seems so approachable.

All of us involved in marketing can learn from Elon Musk.

  • Be authentic.
  • Be original.
  • Be relatable.
  • Take risks.
  • Set your sites high.
  • Dream big.

Although you will probably never put your product into outer space the way Elon Musk has, if you follow the tenets above you will find success.

Enjoy the journey! And, every once and a while, climb into your car, put the windows and top down, casually rest your arm on the door, crank up David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the radio, and go for a drive.

Your Marketing Challenge 2018

What is the biggest marketing challenge facing businesses in 2018?

By Blog

What is the biggest marketing challenge facing businesses in 2018?

Most economic indicators show that the U.S. economy is continuing its recovery. A recent article in Investor’s Business Daily highlighted a number of economic reports that illustrate these signs of growth.

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits is down while payrolls are starting to rise. Retail sales rose in October and consumer confidence hit a 17-year high in November. Also in November, labor costs fell while productivity surged. And, the federal tax cuts in the new tax law could spur increased capital investment, triggering even more job growth.

All of these indicators point to an increase in consumer spending. How will your company large or small, B2B or B2C, take advantage of this renewed optimism?

If you want to be a part of this recovery, you need to get your products and services out in front of consumers. To accomplish this you need to strategically place your marketing dollars where they will best reach your target audience. With the numerous online and traditional marketing channels available, the biggest marketing challenge facing businesses today is how to increase visibility and generate more quality leads.

How to increase visibility and generate more quality leads

To meet this challenge there are a few questions you need to answer about your target audience.

1) What problems are they trying to solve or what need are they trying to fulfill?

Even with more disposable income people still need a reason to part with their money. Will your product or service make them happier, healthier, or complete a task with less effort? How will you help or improve their life?

2) What makes your product or service different and why would your target audience want to do business with you?

Many times manufacturers think that price is the biggest motivating factor for consumers. That’s not necessarily true. Many times a consumer will pay more for a product or service if it makes their life easier. For example, it may be worth paying a store to deliver your groceries if it gives you more time to be at home with your family.

3) What compelling message will move your target audience take action?

Based on the information above it’s easy to see that your message must touch on a consumer’s pain point. The consumer wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”

4) What strategies are available to reach your target audience with your message?

Perhaps online messages delivered through email or social media will work best for your target audience. Maybe traditional media channels like newspapers, magazines, television, radio, direct mail, or outdoor advertising will work best. The truth is, a combination of both online and traditional media is the ideal solution to reach today’s consumers.

5) Are there new ways to reach your target audience?

Today’s marketing channels are constantly changing and new ones are being created. And many traditional media channels have new features that may help you reach your target audience in ways never before imagined. For example, direct mail pieces with variable text and images will create a personalized customer experience. Or embellishments like dimensional print that can add depth and texture to a marketing piece and thus capture the attention of the consumer who then pays more attention to the offer being made.

6) What marketing channels appeal to your target audience?

Today’s consumer is connected 24/7. You should see this as a marketing opportunity. Your website can provide information to the consumer when they want it. A B2B StorFront can provide online sales just as easy as B2C sites. If your clients are online your marketing should be online, too.

At the same time, if you offer financial products, research shows that a tangible product, like a direct mail piece, creates a greater feeling of trust in a consumer than an online offer. If you are targeting younger people perhaps an online offer followed up with a printed piece will work best.

Today’s marketing options are endless. And at times they may be overwhelming. A partnership with a company who understands the ins and outs of the industry can be a big help. Working with a company that can help you define your target audience and reach that audience with both online and offline-marketing materials is this best way to get your products and services in front of consumers and increase visibility and in turn generate quality leads.

marketing to millennials

Are Millennials Really that Different from Previous Generations?

By Blog

Something interesting is starting to happen with millennials.

Conventional wisdom says millennials are the generation born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s. Based on these dates they’re now, in 2018, starting to grow up.

Millennials are in their early to mid-twenties to mid-thirties. That means they are beginning to need and want what most baby boomers wanted and needed at their age. These include a steady job, marriage, children, and a home. It turns out that they may not be so different from the generations that preceded them.

What defines a millennial?

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing from marketers and advertising executives trying to “figure out” the best way to reach these young people. Much of this has been based on the technology used by millennials.

We have a tendency to label this generation by the ubiquitous technology that they all seem to carry. But if you think about it, you probably carry that same device with you and consult it multiple times a day.

How often do you check your email on your phone? Look at me calling it a phone. It hasn’t been a phone for years. It’s a mobile device, a hand-held computer.

  • If I send a text message to my son, does that mean I’m a millennial?
  • If I use an app to find a restaurant close to my house, does that make me a millennial?
  • If I take a picture of the food I’m eating at the restaurant, does that make me a millennial?

Just because I have become comfortable with the use of technology does not mean that I’m a part of a different generation. It means that I, like many of you, have adapted to something new. Well, I have news for you, the same happens with millennials.

For example, you may think with the numerous music apps available that millennials have given up on traditional media like radio. Well, according to the Nielsen Q1 2017 Total Audience Report, “the reach of digital radio has increased…but the weekly reach of AM/FM among Millennials remains 93%.” And, according to Nielsen’s Q1 2017 Comparable Metrics Report, “radio reaches more people 18-34 than any other medium.”

Radio is a technology older than television yet millennials still consume its content. And, the older they get they’ll still watch television, read books and magazines, and open their mail like generations before them.

Hear from a millennial

Millennial engagement expert and bestselling author Gabrielle Bosché thinks that the coming year will hold a number of changes for millennials. She believes that, based on their age, more millennial couples will start families in 2018. And, when a generation of 80 million individuals starts having families that will impact nearly every industry in the country. Bosché believes this will lead to growth in the real estate market, a boom in luxury SUVs and organic food delivery services.

Bosché also sees a trend with millennials suffering from what she calls “digit-fatigue.” These individuals are engaging in everything from media fasts to cutting the cable box cord in order to escape the constant bombardment from their electronic devices. According to Variety, 22 million U.S. adults will have canceled cable and satellite TV by the end of 2017 and this trend is expected to grow.

With changes in media consumption and in family lifestyle, there’s a traditional media source that works well for millennials. It’s not intrusive. It’s renewable. It’s easy to use. It’s engaging. It’s direct mail.

Research shows that millennials engage with multiple marketing channels, including direct mail. According to a Gallup Poll, 95% of adults between 18 and 29 feel positive about receiving personal mail. In fact, 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers. But, they don’t want plan ordinary direct mail.

Think of other media consumption habits of millennials. They want authenticity, a focus on the experience rather than merely on specs, and often some kind of socio-ethical tie-in, such as serving the disadvantaged or protecting the environment.

The USPS has some suggestions for how to create engaging mail pieces for millennials. These include:

  1. Incorporate digital elements. Embed QR Codes, NFC, or AR to link the mailer to video and interactive materials on your website or social media sites.
  2. Keep your messaging succinct. Provide bite-size pieces of information. Millennials may love mail, but they are still distracted and living in a highly fractured media environment.
  3. Be authentic. Millennials distrust traditional advertising, so avoid hard-sell language. Use a straightforward, transparent approach.
  4. Use enhancements. Think scent, sound, or texture.
  5. Help them feel that their purchase makes a difference in the world. Campaigns that donate a percentage of profits to a worthy cause or in some other way demonstrate corporate responsibility can resonate if they are seen as authentic.
  6. Minimize slang, which can be seen as inauthentic. Use slang with caution, even if you are millennial yourself, or you risk turning off your audience.

If you’re looking for a way to connect with 80 million individuals then direct mail is a great choice. Help them learn about the best deals on their luxury SUVs, organic food delivery services, or any other products and services that will help them start their new families. A creative direct mail piece, in the form of catalogs, postcards, and newsletters will get your message in the door and in their hands, where it can be seen, read, felt, and acted upon.

Things truly are starting to change for the generation we call millennials. As they grow up, mature and begin having families they will, like generations before them, embrace technologies both new and traditional. And we’ll be here to help.

m-powered coffee break

The rewards of emphasizing your institution’s qualitative benefits

By Blog

How can a credit union differentiate itself from other financial institutions? The truth is, there’s any number of ways for a person with good credit to secure a loan. Major banks and online lenders offer loans with excellent rates. Thus simply having a good rate will not separate one lender from the next.

One of Westamerica’s clients in Pennsylvania found itself in this exact situation. Merck, Sharp, & Dohme Federal Credit Union (MSDFCU) needed a way to connect with its members that went beyond traditional ways of marketing.

Traditionally, credit unions, like most financial institutions, promote the low rates they offer as a way to entice members to apply and secure a loan. MSDFCU, with the help of the team at Westamerica Communications, took a different path.

People Helping People

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives ran by members, not customers.

The goal of the marketing plan was to place a larger focus on the qualitative benefits that MSDFCU provides. The campaign promoted and developed a stronger emotional appeal built on members helping members. The idea was to create a feeling of “peer-to-peer” lending and a stronger display of ‘how can we help you.’ In this way, the campaign reframes how the membership thinks of the credit union and keeps them top of mind.

The team at Westamerica developed marketing materials demonstrating that the credit union could be a financial partner for every part of a member’s life. We did this by focusing on four main financial solutions, including home equity lines of credit, mortgages, auto loans, and credit card balances.

The M-Powered Solution

Our creative team concentrated their efforts on a mix of traditional and online marketing materials including pre-approved direct mail letters, follow-up postcards, in-branch point of purchase displays, email, web graphics, and print ads. In this way, the campaign would reach the MSDFCU membership at every touchpoint and reinforce the message no matter where or how the membership interacted with the credit union.

The original design was used for the first campaign in the second quarter of the year. Then the ads were repurposed for use in the following two quarters. All of these materials carried the same theme, Members Power us to M-power you.

This innovative branding strategy of a full year of quarterly promotions based on a single design served as a cost savings measure for the MSDFCU

The M-Powered Campaign Results

The results of the first campaign of the year were impressive. MSDFCU reports an ROI of over 600%. Due to the new marketing campaign, they closed over 70 loans in the second quarter of 2017 totaling more than $4 million. This represents a 49% increase over their 2016 campaign.

The results of this yearlong campaign show that credit unions can differentiate themselves from other financial institutions. By highlighting their unique characteristics. They should promote the fact that they are a community-driven organization. Made up of members helping one another. This builds a strong emotional connection between the members and the credit union.