Is Technology Paving the Way for More Print Marketing?


Digital technology could get in its own way, causing a print resurgence.

I’m going out on a limb and assert that digital technology will ultimately cause a resurgence of print marketing. There are two main reasons for what may seem like a crazy notion:

First, the sheer volume of digitally driven communications is crushing consumers. The spam call epidemic alone is taking a huge toll on mobile marketing. First Orion, a call protection company, conducted a study that predicts half of all mobile calls will be spam robocalls in 2019. The study analyzed data from 50 billion calls over 18 months. It found that spam phone calls increased from 3.7% of total calls in 2017 to 29.2% in 2018. It further forecasts that number will reach 44.6% by early 2019, and then continue rising until half of all calls are spam by the year’s end. (Source: Nicole Lyn Pesce, “Here’s why you’re getting so many spam phone calls,” Moneyish)

And while there are aggressive attempts to combat the problem ranging from call screening apps to an FCC-created Robo Strike Force, the technology enabling robo calls is cheap (a fraction of a penny per call), which makes the barrier entry low. The culprits are difficult to track and obviously find enough success to continue the practice despite substantial efforts to stop them.

And when you consider that many of these calls are not just unsolicited and unwanted, but also scams, you understand why mobile phone users are beginning to fear the sound of their ring tone. The crisis is making consumers more guarded about how they use their mobile phones and what messaging they’ll accept—nothing that bodes well for legitimate marketers.

So, why not do more email marketing?

Companies did, chalking up an 18% increase in 2017 for a total of more than 30 billion emails sent, according to a comprehensive study by Yes Lifestyle Marketing. One of the challenges reported, however, is that the share of new subscribers in marketers’ databases consistently declined throughout the year. New subscriptions fell to their lowest point in the fourth quarter, accounting for just 3.5 percent of marketers’ mailable audience.

Plus, the benchmark study showed that 20 percent of brands’ mailable audiences (people who opted-in to receive emails) hadn’t opened an email in more than a year. That represents a 22.5% year-over-year jump in inactive subscribers. (Source: Amy Gesenhue, “Email marketing report: Email volume was up 18% in 2017,” Marketing Land)

In short, people aren’t exactly lining up to receive your newsletters and email promotions, either.

Second, technology and privacy laws are likely to give consumers more screening power. We currently can create great one-to-one email campaigns based on information we gather electronically at critical data points. But what if privacy laws or technology providers give consumers the ability to mask simple inbox behaviors such as opens and clicks?

“We can expect ever greater restrictions imposed on marketers,” says Andrew Bonar, Founder of deliverability consultancy Deliverability Ltd. “We can expect users to demand the right to opt-out of many tools and data points that marketers take for granted. Open tracking, device tracking, location tracking, click-through behavior and other data may all be subject to subscriber opt-ins and opt-outs.” (Source: Chad White, “These Are the Biggest Disruptors to the Future of Email Marketing,” Convince and Convert with Jay Baer)

Then there’s the whole issue of getting things smaller. With most emails now opened on mobile phones, you already need to make your message work on a 4” x 6” screen. Shorter copy. Fewer images.  Singe calls-to-action. Imagine if mobile phones are replaced by wearable technology such as the Apple Watch. How will you adjust your marketing messages?

I could easily go on, but I think you get the idea: digitally based marketing technologies could start to make print look like an even more attractive alternative.

Contact me if you’d like to explore how print might fit into your marketing strategy.


The Marketing Aftermath of Nike’s Controversial Ads


First, let me be clear that this article has nothing to do with the politics surrounding the controversial Nike ads involving football quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But since there were obvious marketing risks to running the campaign, I was curious about the results. And while the long-term effects are yet to be seen, here’s what I learned about the immediate aftermath:

  • Sales grew 31% from Sunday through Tuesday over the Labor Day weekend this year compared with the previous year, according to statistics reported by Edison Trends.
  • A survey indicated that 24% of American’s now view the brand negatively. That’s up from 7% before the campaign’s launch. Many Nike customers, as well as President Trump, blasted the decision on social media. Some even filmed themselves destroying Nike products and vowing to boycott the company.
  • Nike stock took a 3% hit immediately after the campaign, but then recouped their losses. Shares were up 31% year-to-date, and there will be an earnings report at the end of the month.
  • The online tumult surrounding the campaign translated into $43 million in free media that’s still growing, according to Apex Marketing Group. There were 2.7 million mentions of Nike over the 24 hours prior to the launch, as noted by  social media analysis firm Talkwalker. That represented an increase of 135 percent over the previous week.

Why Nike May Have Decided to Just Do It

Generally, most of us are doing whatever we can to attract new customers. Yet Nike clearly decided to put some of its business at risk. Why?

Some analysts believe Nike thought there was more to be gained by locking in brand loyalists and not worry about the less committed. According to branding specialist Pia Silva and many supporting marketing studies, it takes longer to win customers who don’t identify with your brand. What’s more, it takes more work to make them happy and their churn rate is higher.

On the other hand, customers devoted to your brand like (maybe love) your products and tend to buy more and are usually happy with their purchases. They become your brand ambassadors. Nike likely chose to further identify and focus on this group. In fairness, an irreverent, rebellious attitude has always been part of the company’s brand identity.

Time will tell if their decision works over the longer term.

Whether you’re trying to stir the pot or work across the aisle, contact me for help with your corporate messaging. I’m an experienced marketer who can help you with any challenge.

The Long and Short of Marketing Copy

person using laptop computer

The debate is hardly new in marketing circles: should you write long or short copy? Long-copy advocates, including many direct-mail writers, argue that long copy always works best. People read what interests them, and longer copy equals more sales.

Short-copy champions say that consumers don’t t like to read long copy because they’re bombarded with information and don’t have time.  This side goes for short copy accompanied by graphics, images and now video.

Both arguments have merit. But whether you use shorter or longer copy depends more on context than any school of thought.  Here are some tips for deciding whether to write long or short.

Write long when:

  • Your product is technical, expensive or unusual and needs more explanation.
  • You need to create trust and believability by including lots of testimonials.
  • You know there are typically a lot of objections that need to be answered.

Marketing and SEO copywriter Belinda Weaver suggests making your long copy more reader friendly by:

  •  Including great subheads.
  •  Incorporating lists and different formatting to break up copy.
  • Repeating your call to action so readers don’t need to skim or scroll through the copy to take the next step.

Write short when:

  • The format, such as postcards or signage, dictates shorter copy.
  • You’re selling a less expensive product or service.
  • Consumers know your product, service and perhaps even your offer so well that they don’t need a lot of explanation.
  • Images do the selling of your product or service.

But Never Use More Words Than You Need

Economy of words should apply to both long and short marketing copy. You need to make every word count. Well-chosen words make your writing clear and bring the reader more quickly to the point.  Make the copy interesting and conversational in tone but also remember that the objective of marketing copy is to sell.

Oh, And Don’t Forget to Test

You’ll never know for certain whether long or short copy works best without testing each approach. In many instances, the cost of testing is low, yet the payback can be very high.  And while you’re in test mode, consider mixing the two, say a postcard with a personalized URL (pURL) that sends the recipient to a landing page with greater detail vs. a longer, more all-inclusive initial message.

Need help with your copy strategy or writing? Contact me today. Websites, Email, Social Media, Public Relations, Thought Leadership Content (blogs, white papers, newsletters), Corporate Branding Materials, Direct Mail and Video Scripts

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How Printers Can Hang Out with the Corporate Cool Kids


Do you ever feel like your clients are having parties and you’re the only one not invited? That’s exactly what happens to most printing companies when it comes to strategy sessions. Printers simply aren’t part of the marketing “in” crowd despite claims of being marketing service providers.

Too often printers are left sitting in the lobby unless there is a question about print. And those questions generally don’t come up until well after all the important campaign decisions have been made.  You end up with the scraps from the digital people who are influencing the strategy.

Getting on the “A” List

Some printers respond by defending print. That’s okay to a point. I certainly do it myself at times because many marketers miss opportunities that can only be achieved through print or an integrated print-digital solution.

The bigger reason printers become wallflowers is because they’re too shy to move beyond the comfort zone of print production. Marketing executives don’t care about how dots get on paper. They care about bigger strategic issues like how to:

  • Acquire and maintain customers
  • Increase marketing ROI
  • Get to market faster
  • Leverage customer data
  • Find new markets
  • Reduce waste and costs
  • Track results

If you’re an account rep, ask yourself how comfortable you’d be leading a discussion about any of these topics in relation to the tools your company provides. And are you connecting to the people in your customers’ marketing circles who make the decisions?

If you’re an owner, ask yourself how confident you are in the ability of your sales force to sell at the strategic level. Are you looking for the right types of account reps? Are you providing the training, encouragement and patience to develop this type of business? Trust me. It’s not the production manager.

But How Do I Communicate the Print Message?

The best way to promote the value of print is by using it in creative ways yourself. I’ve spent a career advising printers on marketing strategy, and it’s common to find companies that have limited ability to use their own print- and multichannel-based marketing tools. The challenge often begins with companies not having an actionable customer and prospect database to create a campaign.

When was the last time your company committed resources to a marketing campaign that involved personalized data, print and digital channels as well as campaign tracking?

The takeaway is that you need to build credibility by demonstrating knowledge of the marketing issues impacting your customers and the ability to strategically integrate your own products and services. Then you have a chance of making the “A” list for your customer’s next strategy meeting. Need help? Give me a call.



Get on Board the B2B Video Marketing Train.

mokup smartphone technology phone

B2B marketers are incorporating video in both electronic and print marketing.

Video is well on its way to accounting for more three fourths of all Internet traffic and could account for 82 percent by 2021, according to Cisco. In the B2B sector, Demand Metric reports that nearly 70 percent of marketers are using video in their mix. Budgets are also growing, mainly because more than 80 percent of B2B marketers report success with video marketing integration. So, it’s vital for marketers who have not yet embraced video to develop effective strategies now. And if you’re already using video, it may be time to up your game.

Everything today is about adding value, and that’s the number one reason to use video marketing. It plugs interaction — including face-to-face interaction — into your website, email promotions, social media and events. You also get a unique opportunity to blend your company’s personality and message into either an online or offline experience.

Here are 10 additional reasons to use video marketing:

  1. Raises your website’s search engine results. Media measurement and analytics company comScore says adding a video to your website can increase the chance of a front-page Google result by 53 times. Video software platform provider Brightcove claims video drives a 157 percent increase in organic traffic from search engines.
  2. Improves the potential for your message to go viral through the social networks.Brightcove research says social video generates 1,200 percent more shares than text and images combined.
  3. Increases the average amount of time visitors spend at your site. A blog post by Mary Lister of Fluent, LLC reports that the average user spends 88 percent more time on a website that uses video.
  4. Connects you to the coveted 25-34 (millennial) age group. Millennials watch the most online videos according to online agency WordStream. 
  5. Offers opportunities to provide a tremendously rich offline media experience. Stuff a disk with video, personal messages, mobile apps, high-res product photos, web links and free downloads — and include it as part of a direct mail package.
  6. Augments and supports your existing online strategy. Combine it with direct mail to provide a seamless physical/digital experience that encourages double-digit response rates according to research studies.
  7. Appeals to people who like to see something before they read it. Most people view more than three fourths of a video and prefer video over reading text.
  8. Provides an opportunity to educate customers about a product or service. Since people prefer to watch video, give them what they want across the entire decision-making journey and increase conversions.
  9. Puts a face on your company and builds your brand. Simply put,  video is changing how brands communicate with customers.
  10. Engages your customers’ senses. Video triggers emotional reactions that influence buying decisions in ways that static content can’t.

Professional vs. Homegrown Video

The nice thing about digital video is that it doesn’t always have to be high end and expensive. The key is to know when you can use your flip camera and when you need a professional team.

And really, the rules are simple:

Homegrown video is fine for website demos, new product intros, how-to presentations, brief commentaries and the like. Further, excellent video production technology has become much more affordable over past few years. Companies such as VideoMakerFX, Sellamations and Vyond have greatly simplified video creation. Small companies should easily be able to produce a short demo or “how to” video for one or two thousand dollars. Homegrown solutions work great for purposes where immediacy is important, and viewers don’t expect premium content with the highest-end production. What’s more, Cisco claims that Live Internet video (video streaming) will account for 13 percent of the total video traffic 

Professional video is a must when the production represents the official, animated face of your brand. That’s when you need a quality script, title slides, smooth transitions, excellent lighting and sound, multiple shooting perspectives and top-notch editing. It can also be a good investment when the video will have multiple purposes — website, direct mail, trade shows—and a longer life span. You also need to consider professional video whenever your audience is more sophisticated and has high expectations.

What’s the Right Length?

Everyone wants to know how long is too long. And the consensus for the appropriate length of online video is one to three minutes. But a research study by Wistia, which provides video platform solutions for business, shows that engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning that a 90-second video will hold a viewer’s attention as much as a 30-second video. There is a significant drop-off between two and three minutes. Attention spans seem to grow shorter every day, especially online.

Yet purpose means a lot, too. So, a one- or two-minute product intro is not the same as a four- to six-minute in-depth case study.The bottom line is that your video needs to be as long as it needs to be. Based on the nature of the content, viewers will adjust.

You can also cut longer videos into segments that allow people to access only the parts that interest them. In general, you need to think of the video as an overview from which you can then link buyers to more detailed information in electronic or print form.

Regardless of length, relevance dictates how long people will view any video. Provide information that people want to know, and they’re far more likely to stay for the duration. When you’re trying to keep their attention, it pays to be tactical in selecting content and forget the broad-brush stuff.

Video Media Types

Video is an evolving medium, and different media types are emerging that include video:

  • Product demos
  • Product overviews
  • Email and social media promotions
  • Testimonials
  • News releases
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Corporate presentations
  • Commercials
  • Trade show and event previews
  • “How-to” demos
  • Blog posts

As these media types mature, more specific standards for length and other factors will emerge as well. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to experiment. Viewership will tell you quickly enough what’s working and what’s not. In fact, videos built-in feedback loop makes measuring click-through rates, number of times watched and drop-off points a snap.

Want Expert Advice?

Bauer Associates helps companies of all sizes develop and execute effective marketing strategies. Message me at, or call 708-610-9917 if you would like to discuss how video marketing can help advance your marketing strategy.


Business Gift Giving on a Budget.

Posted December 7, 2010 by Larry Bauer
Categories: Branding, Marketing
Tags: , , ,

  1. Give a donation with a twist. Donations in honor of your customers aren’t novel, but getting them involved in the act is a fun twist. Select four or five charities and establish a pool of money (you don’t need to reveal the size of the pool). Send a letter explaining the program and ask them to designate the charity of their choice from the list. Customers can respond through a postage-paid postcard, an email or a personalized URL that takes them to their own landing page. You simply divide the money by the percentage of votes and have the charity send a recognition letter to each participant without stating the amount of the gift. Low cost. Multiple touches. Customer involvement.
  2. Send a product. This doesn’t work so well if your product is cement, but lots of companies make consumer or business products that are appropriate for gift giving. Or perhaps your company makes a range of products where the customer can make a choice. One of our favorite examples was an ad agency with a client that manufactured a line of high-end “arty” coasters that looked really cool on your table. They came in a wide range of choices, and the agency let each of their customers select a set from the brochure the agency had created for its client.
  3. Get intellectual. A popular business book (especially one on marketing) can make a thoughtful, moderately priced executive gift that doesn’t break the bank. It also gives you an opportunity to personalize the selection based on what you know about your client and provides future opportunities to discuss the content. If you’re not sure what book they would want or you’re afraid you’ll buy something they already own, then give them a few choices and benefit from the interaction.
  4. Gift the group. You can save money by sending a share-the-gift food item to the entire department in care of your lead contact. These types of group gifts tend to fly under corporate radar and can save you money if you’ve been providing a lot of individual gifts. You might also score points by paying attention to your customers’ employee health objectives. If they’ve been making a big push on the health and wellness front, try to find foods that are tasty but are also reasonably good for you.
  5. Do a service day. Don’t have any budget at all? Donate a service day (or morning or afternoon) to an area charitable organization. Your local homeless shelter, food bank or no-kill animal shelter are especially appropriate for the season and the economic climate. You can add to your time by having employees collect items from the organization’s urgent needs list. Whatever you do, be sure to take your camera along and share the story with your customers. Communicate that you performed the service in their honor in lieu of business gifts.

So what’s our holiday gift to you?

The second edition of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s and Don’ts is hot off the press. It’s a full-color, illustrated collection of the popular “Do’s and Don’ts” that accompany each issue of PrintStrategist.

We would love to mail you a gift copy in appreciation of your loyal readership throughout the year. Just send an email request to Larry Bauer. And if you have time, let us know what you did for corporate gift-giving this year.

Then relax, turn off the digital devices and enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

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