Marketing Tips

Marketing news and topics to make you a more effective marketer.

The Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes – Part 2

Last week we covered the first 3 of The Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes.  If you did not get to read part one, you may do so by clicking here.  This week we cover the remainder.  We hope you find this a useful guide in how to better leverage this technology for your business.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #4 – Not Telling People What to Expect

By not indicating what is waiting for someone at the other end of the rainbow, you reduce the click rate of potential users.  This can be attributed to time being extremely precious, but two other factors play a major role in this.  One is the potential threat of viruses.  You did read that right…  Mistakenly thought to be impervious to viruses, evil doers have recently exploited technology to turn your smart phone into a 1/2 lb brick.  QR codes have proven an efficient way to do this by covering up banner ad QR codes with stickers.  People are more hesitant to scan unless they know where they are going after the click.  Indicating a destination that is tied to your industry can lead to more clicks by showing it to be legitimate.  Second is the ever looming threat of exceeding data plans.  Newer smart phone users no longer have access to unlimited data with mainstream providers like AT&T and Verizon.  This is such a problem that there are apps out there now that exist solely for monitoring your bandwidth usage.  Clicking on a QR now means wasted money for the end user, which leads me to our next sin…

QR Codes

QR Codes Deadly Sin #5 – Not Providing a Click Incentive

Because of bandwidth limits, users must be choosy when it comes to browsing.  Providing a page that allows access to coupons, money saving tips, special offers, etc. will show a higher click rate.  People always need items that will save them time and money.  If you provide a truly good offer, people will follow.  They may even share this with others if you don’t commit the next sin.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #6 – Not Incorporating Social Media

In these days of Social Media, things can go from obscure to viral in a matter of hours.  If you are providing a killer incentive for users to click, you should also make it easy for the user to share.  This doesn’t do much for the user except to let them blather on about the next cool thing they found.  It does a world of good for you though.  Magazines, marketing materials, billboards, etc. all have limited traffic and circulation.  Social Media is the new “Word of Mouth” and needs to be utilized to the fullest.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #7 – Not Capturing User Data

As referenced in the first part of this article, a click on a QR code will give you an IP address and that’s it.  Unless you are the Federal Government, finding a way to trace this back to the details of the end user can be problematic… and illegal too!  Give people a way to provide information to you in exchange for that “killer offer”.  This can be done with simple name and email/mobile number boxes.  Don’t require too much information as typing on smart phones can be a chore.  Just get enough so that you can market to your audience in other ways such as email or text messaging.  Another option is capturing information from the user by driving them to log in using Facebook, Google Plus, etc.  Not capturing information only allows you to engage the end user in the moment and may not lead to future business.

I hope you have enjoyed the article.  If I had to come up with an 8th deadly sin, it would be NOT USING QR CODES.  Leveraging this technology properly can be an extremely successful and cost effective way to promote your business.  If you’re not sure how to get started, consult an expert.  Now you may be part of the DIY crowd, but consulting with someone who has made all the mistakes first and learned the technology will be a much faster path to success.  My last tip?  Get out there and start clicking people!

As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing marketing services for over 30 years.  If your lead generation is in need of a boost, give us a call and see how we can make your marketing sizzle!
(908) 232-2287
[email protected]


The Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes – Part 1

Believe it or not, QR Codes have been around since 1994.  First utilized in the auto industry to track assembly line IDs, they were never originally intended for the applied uses of today.  Nearly 20 years later, QR codes have achieved mainstream success in the US.  These days, QR codes are a popular, if often misunderstood way to drive marketing traffic.

In my travels as an advocate for this technology I have heard many opinions from many clients about QR codes.  Some people have tried QR codes and have abandoned them due to limited success or lack of understanding.  Truth be told, QR codes can be a great way to drive traffic if they are utilized properly.  In this 2 part article, I will share with you the Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes, or rather a guide of what NOT to do when trying to leverage this technology.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #1 – Drive people to your website

Many QR code users make the mistake of driving people to their home page. This is a practice that does very little for the users. Most home pages offer very generic information and are of no use to the mobile user. Using QR Codes in this manner is also of no use to you. Mobile users can’t usually see your home page well on a tiny screen and it’s usually tough to navigate. Making things difficult will not earn you points and the user will quickly opt out. You also have no way to track the visit, with the exception of an IP address and that is of little use to you for follow-up marketing.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #2 – Drive People to Generic Content

Very similar to driving people to your home page, driving someone to any generic page, even a mobile optimized one, offers you nothing. Although a mobile optimized page of generic content may be easy to read, it offers little to the user. Oh, and remember the tracking thing? The same applies here. Content needs to be rewarding for the user to stay and navigate. How you achieve that really depends on your business. Are you B-to-B? B-to-C? Non-Profit? What your organization does plays a factor in what you should drive people to, but it should never be a page designed to “just get the word out”.

QR Codes Deadly Sin #3 – Not Indicating Proper Use

QR Codes

This is a personal favorite. Reading a trade magazine one day, I saw 5 ads with a QR code just dumped on the page. There were no instructions on what to do. While there are plenty of people that know QR codes and what they do, it doesn’t have to be an exclusive club. Let people know what to do when they see one of these. The curious will look up “QR Code Reader” on their smart phone if you tell them to. Some may still just pass it by, because there is no such thing as 100% effective marketing. There is only maximizing the potential of a particular technology.

I think that’s enough reading for one morning. Go get some work done:-) Next week we will uncover the 4 remaining sins in The Seven Deadly Sins of QR Codes – Part Two.

If you still don’t feel like working and would like to learn about the history of QR Codes, you can always go to one of my favorite places, Wikipedia, to learn more.

As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing marketing services for over 30 years.  If your marketing is in need of a boost, give us a call and see how we can make your marketing sizzle!
(908) 232-2287
[email protected]


Intelligent Mail barcode – What it means for your business.

Intelligent Mail Barcode

What is the Intelligent Mail barcode?

The Intelligent Mail barcode, or IMb for short, is the new standard of mail tracking from the US Postal Service.  While this has been around for quite a few years, it will become mandatory for presorting your mail on January 28th, 2013.  This comes one day after the postage rate increase on January 27th.  The IMb will allow for more accurate tracking of your mail, as it includes much more detailed information than the current standard.

How will the Intelligent Mail barcode affect my business?

Intelligent Mail barcodeThat really depends on how you use mail currently.  If you do very little mailing and are paying full rate postage, it will not affect you at all.  If you are a company that does volume mailings, (for billing, marketing, etc.) then it will drastically affect the way you mail.  Remember that the IMb only applies to presorted mail, therefore it will only affect those that try to receive volume automated discounts.  For those that fall into this category, you will require sorting software updates, a new addressing machine, or a direct mail house to help you process your volume mailings.

What is the benefit of the Intelligent Mail barcode?

There are quite a few benefits to using the IMb.  These will differ depending on your industry and where you reside within your organization.  For sales and marketing professionals, the ability to track your mail will afford you the knowledge of when your prospect will receive it.  Instead of your package winding up at the “bottom of the pile”, you can now follow up as soon as it hits their desks.  For people in accounting and legal, the IMb provides a cost effective alternative to certified mail.  Now you can get delivery confirmation for mere pennies.  For anyone who ships or mails, just having the ability to track mail similar to carrier services such as UPS can be extremely beneficial.  Companies that adopt this method will be able to reduce their overall shipping costs.

  While we all may not be comfortable with change, it is hard to ignore how positive some change can be.  Adopting this new standard will not only benefit the US Postal Service, but also your organization.  This type of win-win scenario will help keep mail relevant for years to come.

As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing direct mail services for over 30 years.  If your marketing is in need of a boost, give us a call and see how we can make your marketing sizzle!
(908) 232-2287
[email protected]


Graphic Design






Paper Isn’t Just Good For The Environment – It’s Good For Business.

Paper Isn’t Just Good For The Environment – It’s Good For Business.

I recently came across an outstanding article in Quick Printing Magazine that talked about some of the pros of paper.  Many have been conditioned over the years to think paper = bad, but as it turns out, that’s just not the case.  Since I work for a company with FSC Certification, I was aware of some facts, but a few were a surprise even to me.  The truth is that paper can be good for the environment, as well as for business.

Why Paper is Good for the Environment

  • Paper retains carbon dioxide as if it were still a tree.
  • The paper industry, under FSC and similar guidelines, plants 2 trees for every one harvested.
  • No forest with an established ecosystem is ever harvested for paper.
  • Only 1/3 of paper is actually directly made from trees.  The rest is a mix of sawmill waste and recycling.

Not bad facts.  Aside from this, you have the added benefit of paper being a sustainable and renewable resource. The jobs that are sustained by the paper industry each year are yet another benefit.  So next time you see an email footer encouraging you not to print an email, feel free to do it anyway.  Just be sure to recycle it!

Why Paper is Good for Business

From a marketing standpoint, ink on paper is still the most preferred method of communication.  Now you may chalk that up to age groups, but that’s simply not the case.  Direct mail communication is preferred in almost every communication category by every age group.  This is attributed to a lot of factors, but the main one is the overabundance of digital communication.  People are inundated with emails, tweets and pop-up advertising and have turned a blind eye to much of it.  Here are a few facts on why paper is good for business:

  • 95% of Baby Boomers immediately look through their mail.
  • 87% of Gen X/Y do the same.
  • 56% of Baby Boomers shop from catalogues.
  • 73% of Gen X/Y use coupons received in the mail.
  • Mail is considered more personal by all age groups.

When you put all of this together, it’s easy to see the benefits of paper.  The next time you think about going digital, be it an email, a tweet, or a pop-up, give paper a second look.  You may find yourself doing something good for the environment and your wallet.

 As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing direct mail for over 20 years.  If your marketing is in need of a boost, give us a call and see how we can make your marketing sizzle!
(908) 232-2287
[email protected]

Postal Rules Are Changing… Again.

Postal Rules Are Changing… Again.

 With the rising cost of postage and sometimes confusing rules, it’s easy to understand why many are opting for cheaper, do-it-yourself methods like email for marketing. Unfortunately for those that do, they are missing out on what direct mail can offer their clients and prospects. With the recent announcement of the US postal Service “2nd oz free” program, your local post office is doing more than ever to help you get the most out of your marketing. By taking advantage of offers like this and using a trusted direct mail house to help you navigate postal rules, it can still be cost effective and easy to use the one medium that still offers the highest response rates around.

Below you will find some updates on what will be happening with one of the most commonly mailed pieces, the folded self mailer.

Postal Changes, January 5, 2013: Folded Self Mailers (FSM)

•          Length: A minimum of 5 inches and a maximum of 10 1/2 inches.

•          Height: A minimum of 3 1/2 inches and a maximum of 6 inches.

•          Thickness: A minimum of 0.007 inch; (0.009 inch if the height exceeds 4 1/4 inches or if the length exceeds 6 inches); the maximum thickness is 1/4 inch.

•          Maximum Weight: 3 ounces.

•          Rectangular, with four square corners and parallel opposite sides.

•          Within an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of 1.3 to 2.5, inclusive.

•          Maximum number of panels, bi-fold, tri-fold and oblongs: 12 for FSM’s constructed of non-newsprint paper.

•          Exception: Quarter folded self-mailers made of a minimum of 100 lb book grade paper may have 4 panels and those made of 55 lb newsprint must have at least 8 panels and may contain up to 24 panels.

•          The final fold must be on the bottom, for oblong pieces, the final fold is on the leading edge.

•          New language added about glue as a sealing method. New language added about a variety of optional elements that can be incorporated in the FSM design such as attachments, loose enclosures, perforations, and die-cuts.

Postal Changes, January 5, 2013: FSM Tabbing requirements

•          Pieces up to 1oz require 2 tabs at 1″ dia.

•           Pieces over 1oz require 2 tabs at 1-1/2″ dia.

•           Mailers can no longer use tabs with perforations.

•           No tabs on the bottom panel.

•           All Folded Self Mailers now require a minimum of two tabs.

•          Tabs can be positioned in 2 places, as illustrated below. Some of the illustrated placements are changes from what you’d see in DMM/QSG 201b, and reflect the various rule changes summarized.

If it seems a little confusing, you’re not alone.  Sorting through postal rules is one of the primary functions of any direct mail house.  If you have any upcoming projects, give your local provider a call.  Companies like ours are all too happy to help!

As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing direct mail for over 20 years.  If your marketing is in need of a boost, give us a call and see how we can make your marketing sizzle!
(908) 232-2287
[email protected]

Have a second helping of postage… free!

Do you know anyone who doesn’t like free stuff?

I didn’t think so.  Even as an adult, I would challenge you not to get a second helping of ice cream if it was free, even though you know what it means for your waistline.  The US Postal Service has really stepped up their efforts to keep mail relevant and appealing to business owners.  Their latest offering is one of a free 2nd oz. of postage.

In today’s economy, companies are always searching for new ways to stretch their marketing dollars. This has created a receptive climate among many large businesses for the USPS recently introduced 2nd Ounce Free pricing.

“Commercial mailers, knowing that they can now mail letters weighing up to 2 ounces at the 1-ounce postage rate, are leveraging 2nd Ounce Free pricing to make money and save money,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. “Some of our largest customers, who typically use First-Class Mail to send bills and statements to their customers, are using the extra free ounce for promotional inserts and other marketing materials.”

Did You Know?
Postage can be reduced by more than 50% by presorting your mail.

The Postal Service’s new pricing, coupled with the fact that consumers — including 18- to 34-year-olds — prefer direct mail for receiving brand communications, are enticing companies to use the extra ounce to cross-sell and upsell products and services.

“Credit card companies are now able to market to their best customers — those with the heaviest statements — without having to pay additional postage,” said Reblin. “And utility companies are using 2nd Ounce Free to educate their customers and reduce call center calls. 2nd Ounce Free is also a great way to measure mailing success by including a coupon with a seasonal sales announcement.”

So what can you do with an extra ounce of free postage?

To “make money and save money” with 2nd Ounce Free, Reblin recommends these five tips:

  1. Add a survey or reply piece to learn more about customers.
  2. Include promotional inserts or special offers to already planned customer mailings.
  3. Share company news or build awareness of a new or upgraded product by including a quick announcement.
  4. Include a newsletter or memo to clarify information and reduce call center calls.
  5. Generate new revenue by selling the extra space to relevant business partners.

2nd Ounce Free is meant to stay. It is not a limited-time promotion, but a new price for First-Class Mail presort, automation letters. (It does not apply to single-piece letters mailed by consumers.)

As an integrated marketing company, Print Tech has been providing direct mail for over 20 years.  If your marketing is in need of a boost, give us a call and see how we can make your marketing sizzle!
(908) 232-2287
[email protected]

Cross-media needs print as its first point of contact

By Jo Francis – Thursday, 23 August 2012

Despite the burgeoning panoply of fancy-pants ways to woo consumers that online and mobile provide, firms often find that good old print offers a cost-effective and reliable way of breaking the ice

A QR code label on a packet of mince; printed magazines with hot links to additional interactive content; near-field communication, social media links, personalised landing pages. An entire garden based around a QR code at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Cross-media marketing, integrated marketing… Call it what you will, it’s an increasingly common feature of everyday life. Brands are coming up with all sorts of clever ways to use the new tools for customer engagement and sales generation. And the good news for print is that, despite all the hype about mobile and social media, print still has a part to play when it comes to creating successful, cross-media campaigns.

The London 2012 Olympics provided a high-profile platform for the sponsoring brands to roll-out fresh ideas for cross-media interactions. BP used QR codes and unique identifying codes on its carbon-neutral promotion, which arrived with Games tickets, of which more below.  Lloyds TSB used the ticket pack to put a promotion directly into the hands of recipients. It sent out what appeared to be a straightforward printed leaflet, which turned out to include an integrated label to be used as a Team GB supporter’s bib. To be in with a chance of winning tickets for the Team GB after-party, recipients uploaded a photograph of themselves wearing the bib to a Lloyds TSB Facebook page.

But getting the mix right is crucial. For example, email marketing is understandably popular, due to its relative cheapness, but earlier this year Pitney Bowes published research that pointed to falling email open rates in cases where email was the only contact point with consumers, with 53% of some 5,000 respondents reporting negative perceptions about email intrusiveness – more than double that for direct mail.

It’s increasingly clear that amid a blizzard of marketing messages, print’s ability to stand out, whether through size, shape or tactile effects, means it can hold its place as a powerful driver of customer interactions.

A recent report on the direct marketing sector by PrintWeek’s sister title Marketing described marketers as “feeling their way” in a world of fragmented media. PrintWeek spoke to three very different companies about their experiences and ambitions in the burgeoning cross-media space.

Global energy giant BP – headquartered in London for more than a century – has been running a high-profile campaign as part of its partnership with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, for which it is sustainability and official carbon-offsetting partner. The corporation aims to “inspire millions of people to think about the mobility choices they make every day” through its not-for-profit Target Neutral scheme.

Part of its London 2012 campaign involved an attention-grabbing insert in the ticket pack. Printed on 50% recycled polypropylene, the piece involved pop-out die-cut tags, each printed with a QR code and individual code. By visiting a microsite, ticket-holders were able to neutralise the carbon emissions involved in their journey to Olympic venues, with BP aiming to set a world record for the most individual carbon offsets at a single event.

And those visiting the Olympic Park itself were incentivised to make a further engagement with a souvenir photograph in front of a spectacular Olympic stadium backdrop available for ticketholders who took their individual tags along to the BP Target Neutral Walk.

Spokeswoman Sheila Richardson explains the broader BP campaign:

What sort of cross-media techniques have you been using? “Ogilvy & BP have worked together to produce an exciting new campaign that celebrates every individual – from well-known athletes to the humblest people working behind the scenes – each making a significant contribution to the success of London 2012.  BP’s campaign launched in July,  ‘Here’s to the home team’, celebrates the disparate group of people who helped – in their own distinct and significant way – to deliver the greatest show on earth.  Athletes such as Lizzie Armitstead and Jessica Ennis, who BP supported, are featured in the ads, both in print and on TV.”

How did you find the right supplier to meet your needs? “We have used Ogilvy for a long time for our creative work and campaigns.”

Are you finding any specific combinations of techniques to be particularly effective?

“In this world of multimedia, we believe using a variety of media is the most effective way of getting our message across.”

What difference has it made to your business? “We are not trying to sell anything – our idea behind the campaign is to raise awareness of the Games and to celebrate the athletes and those who support them and others. From athletes (like Jessica Ennis) who shine in the spotlight, to those in the background and humble people working behind the scenes (like tea lady Una Bird), all are doing their bit to help deliver the greatest show on earth. BP recognises that every individual contribution is significant, and we want to celebrate everyone who is involved in helping to make the Games a success.”

From its origins as a small business selling plastic freezer bags, Lakeland has evolved into a home shopping powerhouse, with sales driven by 18 different catalogues a year. It despatches thousands of parcels a day, and has expanded its retail operations, with 59 stores across the country. Marketing director Tony Preedy takes up the story:

What sort of cross-media techniques have you been using? “We use a variety of different channels. With our printed publications we experiment with different sizes and paginations, and we’re particularly driven by the thresholds set by Royal Mail.

We use PEFC or FSC stocks and wherever possible we print in the UK.

In addition to the catalogue, we have website and email marketing programmes. We’ve also recently created a digital magazine for tablets that’s available in the App Store and for Android devices. It’s the equivalent to a 120pp printed magazine.

Last year we also mobile-optimised our website so it serves the website to you in an appropriate form for the device being used.

Other examples include our click-and-collect set-up whereby customers can browse online, reserve items and then collect them from a store that’s convenient for them.

We’ve just opened a new store in Brighton that includes a custom app running on iPads that are built into the store fit. It’s effectively digital point-of-sale. Essentially it’s a test installation for us.”

Are there other techniques you intend to use in future? “We have been experimenting with QR codes but they are a poor solution to the problem and are still pretty small scale. Clearly there is an appetite to consume digital content about products, I think there will be a better solution to this in time.”

How did you find the right suppliers to meet your needs? “From a client point-of-view I have many channels to manage and I seek best-in-breed suppliers in those channels, rather than one supplier who can do everything.

We tender and award contracts to whoever does the best pitch. We don’t use print managers because we prefer to build long-term relationships with the printers we use so that it’s good business for both sides.

Our view is that catalogues remain a very important part of the marketing mix. One of the most cost-effective ways of getting someone to visit a website is to send them a catalogue.

What difference has it made to your business? “There’s a lot of talk about attribution and assigning values to each element of the marketing mix. I can’t get too hung up on each piece in each channel. In a multichannel environment it’s simply impossible to know if a door drop or a catalogue was what sent someone to one of our shops.

It’s futile to try and work out the marginal benefits of each channel. I prefer to look at campaigns holistically.”

Rank Group
Entertainment company Rank Group is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The £568m turnover group has focussed on the leisure industries of gaming and betting since 2006, and its brands include Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo. Rank has more than 2.5m customers who make more than 22.5m annual customer visits to its businesses, which also include operations in Spain and Belgium and online offering Rank Interactive. Head of customer communications David Bealing explains the group’s use of cross-media techniques:

What sort of cross-media techniques have you been using? “Across both Mecca and Grosvenor Casinos brands we have created customised, trigger-based CRM campaigns, utilising all forms of cross-media through our best-in-class Web2Media platform.”

How did you find the right supplier to meet your needs? “After scoping across the Rank Groups brands stakeholders we issued a tight, concise and stretching brief. After shortlist and pitches, Inc Direct were the supplier that was able to meet the business requirements and build the solution from the ground up in a short time frame. We particularly liked Inc Direct’s ‘added value’ providing additional best-practice ideas and insight to supplement our existing strategy.”

Are you finding any specific combination(s) of techniques to be particularly effective? “Good old-fashioned (but highly customised) direct mail continues to deliver strong result for us. However the triggering of email and SMS is also working well for some customer segments.”

What difference has it made to your business? “Having the ability to create highly variable cross-media via our Web2Media tool has increased customer uptake, reduced costs, improved our speed to market and, most importantly, increased our ROI.”

Are there other techniques you intend to use in future? “For us, the future (well it’s already started) is all about much greater segmentation of customer data and making sure we can add actual or perceived value to our customers by deploying segmentation across all cross-media channels.”