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Marketing Strategy

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Communications You Can Feel

By Blog, Marketing Strategy, Technology, User Experience

Have you ever stepped into a car, sat down and closed the door and heard a nice solid “thud” as the door closed? There were no rattles or any objectionable noises at all. And then other times you’ve stepped into a different car and you heard a metallic, clanking kind of sound when you closed the door. At the time you probably made a snap judgment about the quality of the car you were entering. You most likely concluded that the first car was a reliable, sturdy, perhaps more expensive model. And you may have thought the opposite of the second car.

I realize that most people don’t go around listening to the sound of car doors. At the same time I know there are some of you who have heard the sound of the closing door and drew a conclusion based on the sound. You may have even drawn a conclusion about the owner of the car.

The truth is the sound of a closing car door can affect your perception of the quality of the car.

Your Senses and Perception

Have you ever be awakened in the morning by the smell of fresh brewed coffee being made by your significant other? You probably got a warm feeling all over from the aroma and an even warmer feeling inside for the person who was making you the coffee. The smell of the coffee can affect your perception of that person.

Now let’s take the car door and sound, and coffee and smell one step further. Studies have shown that paper and touch affect the way people receive and retain information. These studies have also shown that touch and paper can even influence the way people feel about the companies who use paper to market their products and services.

How Does the Medium Shape the Message?

Dr. David Eagleman is an adjunct associate professor at Stanford University. He has worked with a team of researchers in the Psychiatry Behavioral Sciences Department of the university to determine if the weight and type of paper can affect the perception of individuals who touch and read marketing materials.

“In humans touch represents a powerful form of non-verbal communication. Our sense of touch plays a fundamental role in daily life, from learning about objects to communicating with other people.” – Dr. David Eagleman

He and his research team created marketing materials for three fictitious companies. The materials were presented to test subjects on heavy coated stock, on lighter uncoated paper and on a website.

According to his research, he found that when subjects read a message on heavy, high quality coated paper they remembered it better, even when asked about the massage a week later.

He also found that when the message was printed on a high quality paper stock the individuals had a more positive first impression of the company. And they were more likely to recommend the company to a friend or a colleague. The test subjects rated the quality of the company based on the quality of the paper stock.

Direct Marketing Strategy

Let’s take this research and apply it to your marketing. You want consumers to remember your message and have a positive feeling about your company. I’ve previously discussed how effective direct mail is in reaching new clients and consumers. Now imagine a direct mail piece that goes beyond heavy coated stock.

Imagine a dimensional mail piece where you can go beyond the weight of the paper to the touch and feel of the image on the paper. Imagine feeling the feathers on an image of a bird. Touching and feeling the lines in an image of a circuit board. Or the rough, bumpy feel of the waffle cone in the video below.

We’re talking texture that makes people want to engage and experience your marketing piece. A message that people will share with their friends and colleagues. A marketing piece that will capture attention, and be memorable. A message your customer will see, read and feel!

Our senses help us gather information, draw conclusions, and make decisions. If you want your marketing to make an impression then take advantage of the sense of touch.


Millennials are about to move into their prime spending years

By Blog, Direct Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Millennials, Mobile Apps, Technology


One of the largest generations in history, millennials, is about to move into their prime spending years. How best can you get your products and services in front of the millennial generation?

When most people think of millennials they think digital. According to Forbes, it is not uncommon for millennials to use multiple tech devices. “87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis.” Perhaps this is why millennials are always pictured with a mobile device in their hand.

With an estimated $200 billion in annually spending and more than $10 trillion during their lifetimes, millennials are the “holy grail” of consumers.

Determining the Best Marketing Channel

There are a number of marketing channels that can be used to reach customers. Online video, social media, and email are channels that seem best suited for an “online” digital generation. But traditional marketing channels should not be ignored. In fact, research show that millennials react better to traditional forms of marketing, like direct mail, than to online electronic marketing.

A 2016 USPS Marketing White Paper reported that:

  • 84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail
  • 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email
  • 77% of Millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising
  • 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable

And when it comes to marketing and purchases:

  • 82% read direct mail they receive from retail brands
  • 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers

The chart below demonstrates that despite their digital appearance, millennials read, open and interact with direct mail.

The Top 200 Direct Mail Service Providers

Direct mail gets your message in the door and into the consumer’s hand, where it can be seen, read, and felt and generate a response! That’s why a big part of what we do is focused on direct marketing. In fact, it’s so big we’ve just been named to the Bell & Howell Top 200 Direct Mail Service Providers list for 2017.

The reason direct mail works for millennials, and all other generations, is simple. As Nabeel Jaitapker, Senior Communications and Marketing Manager, Content Development and Demand Generation at Bell and Howell stated, “Direct mail marketing is getting more personal, more real, and more effective thanks to affordable high-quality digital printing and technologies that simplify integration into a multi-channel campaign.”

The USPS White Paper highlights some of the new technologies that can engage millennials with direct mail. They include:

  1. Incorporate multimedia and digital: Embed QR Code® barcodes, near field communication, or augmented reality to link your mailer to video and interactive materials on your website or social media sites.
  2. Keep your messaging succinct and easy to read. Provide bite-size pieces of information.
  3. Be authentic. Millennials distrust traditional advertising, so avoid hard-sell language. Use a straightforward, transparent approach.
  4. Use enhancements such as scent, sound, or texture to make your piece stand out.
  5. Help them feel good about their purchase. Millennials are compassionate and want to improve their world. Campaigns that donate a percentage of profits to a worthy cause or in some other way demonstrate corporate responsibility can resonate—if they’re seen as authentic.
  6. Use slang with caution, even if you are a Millennial. You risk turning your audience.

When you’re looking to engage millennials, or any other generation, you need a variety of proven marketing channels. A direct marketing campaign that includes mail, video, email and social media, is sure to accomplish your goal.

Three Steps to Increase Sales in 2017

By Blog, Marketing Research, Marketing Strategy

As 2016 draws to a close many people are talking about the special events and happenings of the past year. I prefer to focus on what’s in store for us in the coming year.

If you’re looking to grow your sales in 2017 you must increase the “desire” in your current and prospective customers to buy what you’re selling. Whether you need to increase the appeal of a packaged product sitting on the shelf, make a buyer aware of a new real estate development, or explain new services being offered at the local credit union, all of these situations require you to build “brand desire” in the eyes of the consumer.

The First Step to Increase Sales

Research shows that you have only a few seconds to capture the attention of the average consumer. To increase brand desire you must first get the attention of the consumer and this starts with first-class graphic design services. A knowledgeable packaging and creative services team can integrate dimensional printing techniques that will add tactile elements to a new package. Eye-catching photography can be used on personalized postcards, in an updated electronic newsletter design or in new membership drive designs. Whatever design elements you chose it’s important that you catch the eye of the consumer.

The Second Step to Increased Sales

Once the consumer takes notice of your product or services the next step is to impress them on a deeper level. The fact is the medium shapes the message. Research shows that people judge a product or service based on the type of paper and the quality of printing of the advertisement. The research is impressive. Check out what renowned neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman, says about marketing, paper and the science of touch.

I was especially surprised that consumers not only had a positive first impression when reading a promotional piece printed on heavy high-quality paper stock they also remembered it longer.

If you’re looking to create a lasting impression on your current and potential clients consider adding finishes that will demonstrate the quality of your product. Foiling, embossing and die cut printing, or soft touch aqueous coating can truly differentiate your products and services from your competition.

The Third Step to Increased Sales

Once you have a great design and a beautiful promotional piece, you have to consider how best to get that promotional printed product into the hands of your current and potential customers. One of the best ways to accomplish this, even with tech minded millennials, is through direct mail.

Research shows that young adults read mail, even more that their parents and grandparents. Most people think of millennials as digital natives, glued to their smartphones, and the only way for to reach them is through online marketing channels like social media. The truth is 84% of millennials take the time to look through their mail. And 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email.

Here are a few more interesting facts about millennials and direct mail:

  • 77% of Millennials pay attention to direct mail advertising
  • 90% of Millennials think direct mail advertising is reliable
  • 57% have made purchases based on direct mail offers
  • 87% of Millennials like receiving direct mail

Studies show millennials enjoy receiving mail even more than non-millennials. In fact, 50% of millennials say they like to discover what the mail brings every day and consider time spent looking at and reading it time well spent.

Three Steps to Increased Sales in 2017

When you’re looking to increase your sales during the next 12 months, examine the research and you’ll find that quality design, printing and mailing will be the key to your success.

Westamerica Communications is here to help with all of your marketing needs. In fact, we created a 2017 Marketing Planner to help with your marketing needs. You can download your free copy by clicking here.


6 Steps to Targeted Marketing for Your Marketing Strategy

By Blog, Financial Marketing, Marketing Strategy

Targeted MarketingThe advantages of targeted marketing seem self-evident, yet many companies still use advertising strategies that would only be current in an episode of Mad Men. Too often in marketing strategy we use a bazooka to do the job of a hypodermic needle.

When you focus on the general market, you end up reaching a lot of people who are uninterested. This “spray and pray” method worked when you didn’t have to prove an ROI. In today’s marketing world, that isn’t relevant. Or smart.

A few weeks ago a national manufacturer decided to send me a sample of their product hoping to gain my business. It was a brightly displayed package and since it was a dimensional piece, it stood out in my mailbox.

There was one BIG problem: It was for pantyhose.

I’m sure there may be a market for people named Adam who wear their product. I just don’t happen to be one of them. They had wasted their money and effort. This mailing was not an example of targeted marketing.

One example of targeting a broad audience is an advertising legend. In the story, the media director of a large agency was presenting to her prospect, a manufacturer of a car steering wheel lock. She claimed she could cut his outdoor advertising in half and still maintain their current results. How? They would only run ads for the auto anti-theft device that commuters would see driving into the high-crime downtown area, not out. She won her agency the account.

That’s targeted marketing.

When you adopt a targeted strategy, your focus is greater, your results are better, and your prospects feel appreciated. And it all starts with defining your targeted customer.

Here are 6 easy steps:

  • Step One: Start with your current customers: Take a good look at the customers you already have. How old are they? Where do they live? Check out who’s following you on your social channels. These customers are so much more than an opportunity for repeat sales; they’re a wealth of targeted marketing information. Study them. Look for consistencies and you’ll find your focus.
  • Step Two: Leverage the competition: Do a little recon in your category. Find out what your competition is doing right and who they are reaching. After that, you have a strategic decision to make. You can either go after that same audience or steer clear of them and look for a niche of your own. Either way, you’re focusing in on a specific group.
  • Step Three: Study your offering: Take a close look at your product or service. List the features and the benefits. Then use that as a springboard to the type of person who would benefit most from what you have to offer. What you have could be good for everyone, but it is more than likely best for a specific target.
  • Step Four: Use demographics: You can get very focused with every feature you give your audience. What’s their age, their income level, gender and marital status? Are they well educated? What’s their ethnic background and location? The more specifics you choose, the better off you’ll be.
  • Step Five: Get in their heads: Now that you’ve focused on their demographics dig into their psychographics. How do they feel? What are their priorities in life? Imagine their opinions, interests and lifestyles. This way of thinking may seem like something that would help only your creative department, but it goes much deeper than that. Many companies have looked at psychographic and used them to influence their media strategy and on some occasions, their product development.
  • Step Six: Once you have your target audience, target them. Craft messages specific to their wants and needs. Develop media placements that hit their cities, zip codes, and even neighborhoods.

Your targeted marketing and marketing strategy will reap wonderful results. You’ll be more efficient and more effective. And you won’t waste time and money sending “Adam” pantyhose. And isn’t that what great marketing is all about?


What the Heck is Loan Generation Anyway?

By Financial Marketing, Marketing Research, Marketing Strategy

Loan Generation Dollar SIgn RisingImagine a marketing program that tells you the customers that qualify for loans. All loans. Auto, home, credit cards and personal loans would be made available to the right customers. This results in better quality leading.

Balances are higher.

Interest rates are higher.

And credit scores average 720.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because this program doesn’t just tell you about these loans. This program tells customers about the loans in unique and dramatic ways.

The marketing is targeted.

Here’s an example. Say there’s a member who hasn’t purchased a car for over 24 months. That person would receive Next Car Purchase marketing materials letting them know they are qualified for a low-interest loan for their next car purchase. Imagine another person who just financed a car. That person would get messaging letting them know they can refinance at a lower rate. This form of targeted messaging is put to work for home loans, credit cards and personal loans as well.

The messaging reaches multiple channels.

You will reach your customers through email, direct mail, your website, your branches, call centers and even mobile. Smartphones open up a wealth of possibilities in these specific situations. Imagine getting financing for your car, via your smartphone, while on the lot. This form of loan marketing and processing is seamless, flexible and unprecedented.

The process is turnkey.

From tailored letters that help increase response rates to detailed ROI and analysis, this program is made to make things easier. Every piece of communication is FCRA/FACT compliant, and every channel is built to work together. And since these prospects are prescreened and targeted, you’ll have a campaign that is efficient and effective.

Starting is easy.

Taking on this program offers tremendous opportunity with minimal personnel. It all boils down to six simple steps:

  1. The Lead Generation team digs into your membership and finds the credit quality and loan type you need.
  2. They will then collaborate with you to develop a tailored and personalized marketing strategy.
  3. The team will send offers to the right people, with the right message using the right channels
  4. You happily close the loans resulting from your targeted offers.
  5. You follow up with your members.
  6. We conduct in-depth ROI analysis on your full campaign.

The detailed analysis is one of the big things make this program so powerful. There was a time when a marketer’s in-depth analysis on the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns involved waiting for the phone to ring or talking to the salespeople. Those days are happily over, and we are all better marketers because of it.

Sending out your messaging used to be the end. Now it’s when the fun begins. You can track everything. You can see what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, you can take that information into your next campaign.

People used to spend thousands on focus groups and surveys. They’d sit behind one-way glass, eat bad catered food and listen intently to people who knew they were in a focus group. The process tainted the answers.

Now what works and what doesn’t is all right there. You can quickly divert the most funds to the most effective message and medium. You are now in the know and knowledge is — as they say — power.

The charts and graphs in this program present your results in stunning and easy to analyze detail. This analysis can everything from the channels you use to the way you offer a call to action to colors used in the background.

So check out Loan Generation. Your loan acquisition costs will go down. Your loan volume will go up while your relationships with your members will deepen. And that is the best proof of success you can achieve.

Setting Your Company Apart with Video Marketing

By Blog, Marketing Strategy

Big Brother Big Sister of Orange County- Watercolor ImageMarketing’s communication sphere has never been more crowed and complex than it is today. Communicating with current and potential clients takes place in numerous ways and through a variety of channels. Research has shown that there is one communications medium that far outshines the rest…video.

Video ranks higher than case studies, blog posts, webinars, and infographics when it comes to the type of materials used in both business and consumer marketing. Video has the ability to experience how a product works. When it comes to video testimonials, it allows facial expressions and voice intonations to show exactly how happy users are with your services. A video of a loyal customer touting the services offered by your company is far more effective than a paragraph of text on your website.

Video allows you to differentiate your company from others in the same industry. It’s quite likely that you offer many of the same products as your competitors, maybe even using the same equipment. However, what can set you apart is the quality of your employees.

That’s where video provides you an opportunity to highlight experienced and talented employees. A video of a quality employee instills confidence in your clientele, it “puts a face” to the company and humanizes your firm.

Video can also be used to explain a process. Years ago Schlitz Beer promoted the fact that they “steam cleaned” their bottles. The truth is every beer company steam cleaned their bottles but, because Schlitz said it first, people believed it. You can use a video to do the same thing.

Retailers like Home Depot have successfully used video to help consumers with projects around the house. For example, a video on the Home Depot YouTube channel explains how to replace a garbage disposal. Once the consumer views the videos they are more likely to purchase the needed supplies at their local Home Depot rather than another home improvement retailer.

At Westamerica we understand the power of video. We created a video for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County. In it we were able to tell a story that educated viewers on the goals of the organization and the struggle of the children that the organization is trying to save. The video helped the organization exceed their stated goal of $30,000 for the campaign.

Besides helping others, video content also improves your search rankings. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, next to Google. And, because Google owns YouTube, videos have a tendency to show up on first page results when potential customers are searching for a product or service.

Video on Facebook is far outpacing every other form of advertising on the platform. Due to the increase of mobile devices video has become the largest growing medium.

Video is not just for consumer marketing. Forbes reports that more than 80% of B2B, C-suite, executives are watching more online video today than they were a year ago. And these executives watch videos before making purchasing decisions. An impressive 65% of these executives visit a vendor’s website after watching a video. Forbes also found that C-suite executives are very social with more than half of senior executives sharing videos with colleagues weekly. Younger executives are also very willing to share and view videos using social media.

When you see the research and examine the statistics related to the use of video, you realize the impact that video can have in your marketing mix.