Julia Moran Martz is Partner and Co-Creative Director of MondoVox, Inc. and has 29 years experience in communications and design solutions for consumer products, life science, technology and consulting companies, as well as management and business development experience in technology and dotcom sectors.
Your catalog cover demands more time and resources than any other page for one simple reason: consumers judge your catalog by its cover. That’s your big opportunity to build excitement and expectations for what’s inside.
In this webinar, you’ll learn about:
Maximizing use of both front AND back covers
Building the brand experience with your cover
Making photography vs. illustration decisions for covers
Applying special marketing techniques like personalization and QR codes
And utilizing a list of do’s and don’ts for cover text
Video creation is really only limited by your creativity, communications expertise and production ability of your team, whether you’re creating a professional marketing video or a low-end social media style video. Most video software tools allow for the inclusion of graphics, sound tracks, specific brand colors and a myriad of special effects. Even though the tools may allow you to create exploding logos, flames, and wacky transitions, try to restrain yourself and use only techniques that support the brand. Using too much cheese can look rather… “schlocky” and even a little desperate. Talented video teams are able to find brand-appropriate ways of grabbing attention while supporting the brand personality.
Tips for Incorporating Your Brand into Any Video.
Here are some video tips and examples that work whether you’re creating a high-end, $20,000 video or a low-end ad hoc video shot to share a quick-hit message on your company blog.
Graphics: The most obvious method for incorporating your brand into your video is with graphics, starting with your logo. Be cautious how you treat your logo and ensure its integrity is not lessened by any special treatments. Subtle logo treatments can include slight motion of a single element, having the logo enter from outside the frame or change color. Even incorporating a shine could work. Should you do all at once? Of course not. Choose carefully and wisely and don’t overdo it.
Other graphics can be incorporated to ensure your video supports your brand’s style guide. Fonts, color fields, tables, graphs, charts and text like testimonials can be used in the same way as your printed literature. Stick to your corporate fonts and you’re already partway there. The only limitation may be if you’re creating low-end ad-hoc video on your PC or iPhone, you won’t have the same graphic capabilities that a professional video studio will have. That’s when you resort to the Web fonts listed in your brand’s style guide.
Color: Color is incorporated into video in two ways:
Scenes and people that are videoed
Adhere to color values from your style guide when incorporating graphics into your video and ensure they are applied appropriately. In the Ripon Printers video we created, each service area segment utilized the corporate color assigned to that service area: spice for Premedia, green for Printing and Bindery, burgundy for Mailing and Fulfillment, etc. Likewise, use these colors in graphics used in your video.
Color can also be used to provide brand cohesion when filming people, places and things for your video. For instance, all the employees interviewed for the Ripon Printers video were instructed to wear shirts that reflected the four corporate colors. No other colors were allowed. This kept everyone looking like a cohesive team.
Imagery: If you need stock images to convey specific messages, try to use images that are consistent with your brand look and feel. It’s also good to steer clear of clichés like shaking hands and obviously young models conducting important meetings. We always try to use shots of people who look authentic, not so pretty or handsome that they’re unbelievable.
Keep in mind too that you can use still photographs to great affect in a video. There were some instances when shooting the above Gourmetceuticals video where shooting with a still camera was the only option because of the plantation’s terrain. But by incorporating subtle motion with still shots, it still works.
Sound: Just as there are royalty-free and rights-managed stock images, there are many libraries of sounds for video production. There are different types of sounds used in video:
Transitions between segments.
Brand punctuation. (Remember the simple jingle associated with Intel’s “Intel Inside” campaign? Or NBC’s 3-note jingle?)
If you’re creating a series of videos over the long haul, consider incorporating the same sound into the files. This becomes another feature that customers will learn to recognize as your brand.
Script: If your video is professional quality, of course you’ll have a scriptwriter on the team. This is not a standard copywriter, but rather someone who understands flow, audio, and most importantly, the spoken versus printed word.
If your video is just you or you’re shooting at a trade show, you’re less likely to have a formal script. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least draft your points and practice speaking first. Remember, while creating friendly, social-media oriented videos is affected by the tools you use, your comfort in front of the lens and your friendliness are going to affect the video’s success more.
Tools for Ad Hoc Videos.
Even the tools for shooting on-the-fly, low-end videos range in price tag from $100 to hundreds of dollars. But if your goal is to simply capture a quick moment at a trade show or share a quick thought on your blog, your iPhone or camera built into your computer will do the trick without a lot of fuss. Of course, limit the length of these type of low-end personalized videos. Their purpose is different from the polished video you hand out on DVD or post to your website.
iPhone: This is the easiest, while the mic on the phone itself leaves oodles to be desired. When shooting someone else, you can easily use the mic on the ear buds to get much better results. @jonathan360 created a great sample video to show you the difference when shooting with background noise.
You can also purchase several external mics that offer various quality options. Here’s a quick video from @DizzyDougTV comparing three models of mini-mics that ranging in price from $15 to about $100.
Consumer Flip Cameras: Now if you want to do an even better job but still don’t want to spend time scripting and shooting a pro-level video, my pal Heidi recorded her review of the Flip Ultra HD versus the Kodak Zi8. Yes, it means another gadget to haul around, but these models are a step up from your iPhone’s capabilities. Heidi points out the pros and cons of each in her quick video shot from her computer.
Before Hitting Record.
Remember that whether investing in a high-end production or a low-end recording, don’t lose sight of your brand. Even if you’re shooting low-end, remember to incorporate appropriate colors, sound and graphics. Most of the consumer-level tools allow you to at the least add your logo without flames ;-) and control transitions (don’t give your viewers a migraine, eh?)
But primarily, I’d like you to consider both types of video and use them where appropriate for your customers.
By Julia Moran Martz
Check out additional videos from folks referenced in this article:
The Big Fish — video production studio that created our Gourmetceuticals videos
I know it sometimes seems that you have to do something REALLY BIG to break through the mailroom clutter. But honestly, size doesn’t matter. You don’t need to build a Taj Mahal for your prospects. Even those C-level folks.
What you MUST do is make sure your mailing’s message supports your goals and is relevant to your target market. And above all, match the quality of your 3D object to your brand.
For example, if your key marketing message is about protecting your clients, don’t mail something like the cheapest umbrella that’s going to break after the third or fifth use. That will reflect poorly on your key brand message. Likewise, don’t overshoot your brand. Sending out gold-plated key fobs could be perceived as bribery if your brand is all about affordable office supplies, for instance.
The best way to start is with your creative brief: define your goals and targets, and THEN your message will naturally follow. Assuming you’ve written your creative brief, here are some examples of 3D mailing types to get your creative juices flowing.
3D Campaign Types.
I categorize 3D mailings into three types:
1. The fun gadget:
Stromberg Allen direct mail series: Even though Stromberg Allen gained approved vendor status with several new clients, they still needed to snag the attention of the clients’ internal buyers. As a printer of K-12 learning tools, they have the capability to produce very complex dimensional products using many components, and they wanted to demonstrate this expertise. We created a campaign of four boxed items that displayed their ability to produce fun, yet educational tools by marrying a gadget with a marketing message and booklets inside the boxes. The sales team then received instructions to send these to their specific targets one week apart until they snagged a meeting. Without sales’ cooperation and follow through, an expensive campaign like this would be wasted. Be sure to train your entire team before implementation of any campaign.
Fun to receive; if done right, can be memorable AND get your message across.
May end up with kid at home if it’s TOO fun, which defeats your purpose of having it stick around as a reminder on the recipient’s desk.
2. The helpful tool:
Ripon Printers printing tools series: Ripon Printers’ capabilities include practically anything you’d want in a printer: digital/offset/web, cold and heatset, fulfillment, custom ink jetting, list hygiene and maintenance, catalog/education/direct marketing expertise, and web-storefront capabilities. To spread the word of their wide range of expertise, MondoVox concepted and designed a series of handy Tips Books (one per service area) and a video that would serve multiple marketing tasks. Not only do sales representatives distribute these tools to their existing customers, MondoVox also created a multipart direct mail campaign targeting new prospects. We created a handy book box for the tips books and a disc mailer for the video DVD. Ripon uses these 3D mailings along with a personalized introductory brochure to complete a three-part campaign for all new prospect lists.
This is a great example of how you can be 3D even if using relatively flat objects like books or DVDs. No need to throw in a pen just to get a bump on your envelope. It’s also a good example of a series within a series; the tips books can be mailed individually with the first one going out with the book box and the others arriving one week apart until the recipient fills the box.
If it’s truly a great tool, it will have a high sticky factor. In fact, don’t be surprised if prospects take your tools from job to job if they find them particularly valuable.
Can come off as matter-of-fact and serious rather than providing any sort of clever gotcha moment. BUT if concepted carefully, a tool series can accomplish both.
3. Custom product samples:
Gourmetceuticals Taste Test Kit: Being new to the market, Gourmetceuticals needed to quickly convince food ingredient buyers that their nutritional ingredients did not impart negative flavors in final products but did offer all the benefits of nutritional supplements. We created a Taste-Test Kit using a granola product developed by a partnership between Nuts Are Good and Gourmetceuticals. The granola packs were designed to resemble grocery-ready food items while containing technical information directed to the buyer. Accompanying the samples was a cover letter and instructional booklet that walked the buyer through tasting the product, ultimately convincing them that Gourmetceuticals’ ingredients provide added nutrition while not imparting negative flavors or aftertastes. Careful pre-qualification of a limited number of targets allowed us to mail the kits via a parcel delivery service.
These kits were so successful that we expanded to include a print ad + landing page kit request to attract additional buyers.
By carefully controlling the message with a custom product sample, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your product AND get the meeting.
Seemingly the most boring of all options, BUT could actually be quite effective if matched with a catchy message and the right target market. Also more labor intensive than just ordering a box of pens, but the potential payoff is much greater.
Don’t Be a Joke-in-a-Box.
While everyone wants to do the fun, gadget-type of campaign, that’s not always the most appropriate or most effective 3D object to incorporate. Consider carefully your brand reputation and key marketing messages to determine what type is best for you.
One of the biggest mistakes designers can make is ignoring the envelope that contains their client’s direct mail components. Envelopes are the key tool that determines whether your direct mail gets opened or gets ditched.
Design Tips for Creating Intriguing Envelopes for Your Direct Mail Campaign.
Vary the size: think outside of the standard #10 envelope. Look at oversized envelopes or even undersized. Anything to break out of the normal in-box clutter.
Use color: consider envelopes that reflect your brand’s primary color or consider anything that isn’t white, yet fits your offer. White envelopes tend to blend in with everything else in the recipient’s mailbox. Consult your designer or printer for interesting textures and colors.
Print a teaser message on the envelope: the operative word here is ‘teaser.’ There’s no rule that says you need to give it all away up front. Leave a little something to reward them for opening. Keep the message enticing.
Consider using a translucent or clear envelope: if your budget allows, there are a myriad of clear and translucent options. Choices include vellum, glassine and polybag-type envelopes. But be cautious when sourcing vellum as not all are crack resistant. Consult with your printer for vellum options that minimize cracking. And also don’t assume that polybag-type envelopes are only available in crystal clear. There are many exciting color choices that ignite the imagination. ClearBags has a great online resource to get your creative juices flowing, but do work you’re your printer for larger quantities.
Consider the design of the interior components up front. Don’t’ just toss them in a clear envelope without thought to what will show through. Again, you may need to redesign the outward facing messages on the interior components if you’re using a clear envelope.
You may also consider window envelopes as an alternative to solid paper or clear poly envelopes. There are several sizes including booklet envelopes with nearly full-view windows that deliver a similar effect.
If going with a translucent or clear envelope, you’ll have to reconsider how you handle addressing the envelope. Depending on the color and translucency of the material, you may have to use an address label. Or you could design the backside of the inserts to contain the address info.
Remember what I said about vellum. While insanely cool, you must work with a good printer to spec a stock that is crack resistant.
Some envelopes don’t come with a sticky seal. Some glassine envelopes, for instance, may require you to use a label to close the flap. This is another opportunity for messaging.
While an envelope mailer will cost more to produce than a postcard, a well-designed envelope can outperform a postcard if the message is right for a closed-envelope package. The challenges are the budget, of course, and ensuring the envelope is the right vehicle for your direct mail’s desired outcome.
Spec converted envelopes to save money. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to print across folds or bleed off a cut edge. But a good designer can certainly work within these restrictions to save you money.
Ignore at your own peril the envelope’s ability to tease, entice, intrigue and seduce the recipient. But also remember what mom advised in your youth: don’t give it all away up front and do leave something to the imagination. Envelopes are no different. Enticing someone to open is often a matter of making a promise but only enough to generate excitement. Like wearing just the right dress on your first date. Not too much, not too little.
Think of a postcard almost like a combination of a billboard on the highway, key messages from a brochure and a call to action from your sell sheet. You’ve got barely seconds to capture your recipient and THEN, you have to give them enough of the details to beguile them. Grab their attention like a billboard but provide follow through like a brochure—that’s the trick.
Design Generalizations for Postcards.
Remember, a generalization is just that and there will always be exceptions. Here’s my list of design tips for smart postcard designers:
All caps, bold, condensed and italic is likely not the most readable treatment for your hard-working headline. You must find a balance between a visually strong headline and one that’s easily read. Select a typeface that works, and don’t over embellish it. Do all this while staying true to your brand image.
Images should be unique and compelling IF you have them. Keep in mind that it’s not 100% necessary to have an image with your headline; a headline could be the main visual in and of itself. But if you include an image, choose one that’s not likely to be overly used in your market, or have an image shot custom for you.
Don’t put a strong message on a wimpy card stock. The post office’s guidelines are the minimum and are not what we recommend. The sturdier the better and not so shiny it squeaks or reflects light rather than your message. Think of this postcard as your handshake with prospects when you’re not available. Keep it firm and not too squeaky.
Consider a straight perforation across one end for any coupon detachment if you can’t afford a fancy die to cut the shape you want. Often, a single straight perf will be a tad cheaper. You just need to design it into your card creatively.
Skip the paragraphs of prose on your card and go for short-and-sweet messages. And keep the quantity of those to the bare minimum. Filling your card with FREE FREE FREE and loads of platitudinous drivel will make your key message and call to action hard to find quickly. All you do is end up in the trash sooner.
Respect the reader. Despite what some advertisers in the 70’s would have us believe, customers are smart and getting smarter. They learn from each other and share information online and off. So make your message/point/deal intelligent and easy to pass on in other media.
Don’t even think about clichés. They don’t position you as better or unique.
I know Larry said in his Do’s and Don’ts list to not use type smaller than 8 point. I’m going to go one better and advise you to keep it 10 points or larger. Remember, folks are reading often at arms length in their entryway when they get home from a long day at work. Lighting in entryways is often insufficient for small text.
Postcard Anatomy 101 and Gallery.
Front: Capture with a compelling headline and/or visual. Don’t over do it, just get them to stop and read or take the card to their desk.
Back: Follow through with the details (But not too many. This is not the place for your legal counsel to practice writing warranties.)
Prioritize your copy by what gets read first. In roughly this order, humans see visual, read headline, captions, offer and then details. So no skimping on captions and offer copy. Get it right and make it work hard for its space.
Use white space to direct the reader to what you want them to read first and second. Don’t worry about third. They may not get that far.
One Hit Wonders.
The cards below were designed as single-hit mailers, just weeks prior to a key trade show. They included pURLs (personalized URLs) on the back to provide landing pages specific to each recipient.
Cost-saving tip: pURLs were inkjet printed on the cards after they were run on a conventional offset press. You could also use variable data printing directly on a digital press and accomplish both printing and customization simultaneously. Determining which is most cost effective for your job is a balance between quality and number of inks printed.
The above tri-fold card was designed as a single-hit, pre-show mailer, just weeks prior to a key trade show. It included a teaser image to get them to open, and then followed through with booth number and incentive to visit during the show.
Three Times or More is a Charm.
You can also create a series of more than the standard three cards and schedule it to run for several months. Also don’t feel pressured into doing what everyone else does: try a different colored paper stock, try illustrations instead of photography, mix it up and be different to stand out from the crowd.
And one last thing: DO schedule overlapping smaller quantity mailings of your cards so you have time to follow up between each. You are planning on following up via phone after mailing aren’t you?
Note: Our ongoing series of design tips will assist you in creating marketing collateral by improving comprehension, speed of reading and increase belief in your value whether you’re selling products or services to consumers or businesses.
Using good design to ensure you look professional is akin to using darts and tucks on a suit jacket for a good fit around your content. You wouldn’t show up to an important meeting with rags hanging from your shoulders. Likewise, make sure any materials that represent you are also an extension of that same level of quality.
Tip 1: Using single word spaces between sentences.
In the words of Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style, 1992:
In the nineteenth century, which was a dark and inflationary age in typography and type design, many compositors were encouraged to stuff extra space between sentences. Generations of twentieth-century typists were then taught to do the same, by hitting the spacebar twice after every period. Your typing as well as your typesetting will benefit from unlearning this quaint Victorian habit. As a general rule, no more than a single space is required after a period, a colon or any other mark of punctuation. Larger spaces (e.g., en spaces) are themselves punctuation.”
“The rule is usually altered, however, when setting classical Latin or Greek, romanized Sankrit, phonetics or other kinds of text in which sentences begin with lowercase letters. In the absence of a capital, a full en space (M/2) between sentences will generally be welcome.”
We all know that starting and maintaining relevant conversations with customers and prospects are key to using thought leadership to enable sales, support and brand building. Before electronic social media tools, corporate socializing occurred on the golf course, while sharing beers at the local watering hole after work—even rented suites at the Indy500 and other events enabled you to prove your mettle with VIP clients and prospects.
Many of the ways we used to participate in social business conversations also translate well to social media tools. Discovering existing conversations about your brand or product niche is as easy as eavesdropping by searching for keywords in Twitter or using Google Blog Search. Creating and leading such conversations requires a concerted effort by you and your company.
Leading the Conversation.
Tags are a type of metadata used to identify specific topics online by assigning keywords to a specific piece of information, making that information easy to find. Hashtags are a specific type of tagging used in social media that you employ to create topically oriented conversations and to follow others’ conversations on Twitter or identi.ca.
It’s a way of grouping relevant messages into conversations, similar to the idea of but much broader than corralling VIPs in an event room or networking on the golf course. Imagine no conventional boundaries, and the fact that you’re potentially conversing with 500 or even 5,000 people in a given day, week, month.
By using hashtags (and tags in general), you can establish yourself as the thought leader for a given topic by starting the conversation, interacting intelligently with others and continuing to provide information/advice/support.
If you’re going to use hashtags for leading and managing conversations about your brand, be sure to follow these tips:
Write a great hashtag. Hashtags like #news are not helpful. Be more effective by using tags like #BrandNameNews, #BrandLaunch or #BrandHelp and be considerate of length. Remember that it does get counted in Twitter users’ 140-character limit. AND be cautious with acronyms as there could be multiple unrelated conversations potentially using the same acronym.
Use = promotion. Use the hashtag religiously and appropriately whenever speaking online about the specific topic. AND use it interactively when conversing with others in social media tools.
Don’t spam. Don’t pick up unrelated hashtags and appropriate them as your own. Inserting hashtags about a recent earthquake is NOT ok if your tweet has nothing to do with the earthquake. This is a proven method of upsetting Twitter users and they will make their displeasure known.
Promote it in other analog and digital marketing tools. Land Rover developed a very successful hashtag campaign in April 2009 by using a myriad of print and online promotions to promote the hashtag on Twitter. There is a lot to learn from Land Rover’s experience, and I would encourage you to not simply copy their strategy but to view it only as a starting point.
Develop communication guidelines for social media in general and apply them here. Include such things as a communications tone and consider any concerns that legal may have. Make sure anyone you’ve tasked with participating in social media on behalf of your brand is trained and knowledgeable.
Dealing with Loss of Control.
When putting your own hashtag out for use in the twitterverse, you must be prepared for negative use of the tag. Remember, just because the tag originated with you doesn’t mean you own it. It’s part of the larger conversation that you can participate in but never control. The effect is akin to having conversations with people at a party where some know and love you, some know and hate you and many don’t know you at all.
This is why it’s critical to understand and ensure your brand’s integrity and value. Likewise, it’s important to have the ability to lead the conversation as a valued participant. If your brand is suffering from poor quality products/service/support, no amount of twittering or tagging will save you. But you can use social media tools as part of your plan to turn your brand around so long as you truly are taking steps to improve the problems.
If you have quality, support or deliverability issues that you’re taking steps to resolve, plan on mitigating negative use of the hashtag by:
Fixing your problems. Start resolving the problems that affect your brand’s quality before taking on social media. You don’t have to finish resolving your issues, but you should be well on the path to recovery before initiating that first social media conversation. You may even want to use your resolve to repair the damage as your first hashtag topic.
Increasing your response time and quality. Comcast is THE benchmark for response times and problem resolution via Twitter. Forget their phone support, you’ll never get through. But use Twitter and they’ve got a tech on top of the problem within five or 10 minutes.
Creating a human voice. Again, Comcast wins hands down. They’ve got real live technical humans monitoring Twitter conversations about their product and service. These folks are also trained to interact with customers AND solve the problem.
Maintaining transparency. If there’s a problem, own up to it publicly. Take a lesson from Toyota’s recent PR fiasco and own up early, take steps to resolve the problem and communicate those steps without corporate speak. You must sound authentically human. Don’t skimp on this part or you’ll get nailed to the Twitter wall quickly.
And by all means, pay attention when online. Use the opportunity to converse with large numbers of customers to both help and guide them as well as learn if there are problems or areas for improvement. If your brand is loved and respected universally, you won’t have much of a problem. However, there are always instigators in any venue. You should be prepared to encounter them with knowledge, grace and honesty.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MondoVox® Creative Group (Chicago, IL), a brand and marketing consultancy for consumer and business-to-business products and services, recently created an award-winning campaign for Ripon Printers (Ripon, WI), a leading printer of catalogs, publications, manuals and soft-cover educational products. The company received the prestigious National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Marketing Plus™ Award. This competition acknowledges and recognizes those printing companies that have created and produced successful marketing campaigns and collateral for the self-promotion of their companies.
Ripon Printers was the sole recipient of the Gold Award in the Vertical Markets category for printers with more than $2 million in annual sales. Entries in this category consisted of campaigns to promote company core competencies and services specifically relevant to identified vertical markets and positioning the company as an effective market leader in these market segments.
“Ripon Printers is an outstanding printing company and client,” says MondoVox President Julia Moran Martz. “They are open to seeing the market in new ways and believe in the power of communications. The collaborative effort between their marketing team and ours clearly produced results that outpaced most companies in the printing industry.”
The award-winning campaign focused on the small to mid-size catalog market. Key elements of the integrated, multichannel campaign created by MondoVox include a series of print and banner ads run in Multichannel Merchant magazine, a series of “Tips” booklets used for inquiry fulfillment, a website revamp, a trade show booth and show promotional materials. Results of the campaign were outstanding and contributed to Ripon Printers developing more than 100 new accounts in 2009 worth millions of billing dollars during one of the worst economies on record.
Tip book set promotion.
Redesigned website with promotions throughout.
2009 print and banner ad campaign.
Trade show booth pop-up and premailer.
About MondoVox® Creative Group
MondoVox® Creative Group is a brand and marketing consultancy specializing in branding, marketing and advertising solutions for consumer and B2B products and services. Because we implement all aspects of each project including research, strategy, design and production, we ensure the quality and coherence required to increase brand value. Our multi-talented team provides market research, product and service naming, brand structuring and development, product design, package design, packaging graphics, sales and promotional collateral, POP and environmental communications, advertising, e-marketing, and interactive. To learn more, visit www.mondovox.com.
About Ripon Printers
Ripon Printers serves small to mid-sized catalog marketers and publishers, producing catalogs and directories as well as manuals and soft-cover educational products. Founded in 1962 with just 13 employees, Ripon Printers is now more than 300 employees strong and equipped with the latest technologies from premedia through fulfillment and distribution. Linking the company’s capabilities together is an obsessive devotion to customer delight that places client satisfaction above any other business goals. For more information, visit www.riponprinters.com.
NAPL is a not-for-profit business management association representing companies in the $120+ billion commercial printing and graphic communications industry in North America. NAPL’s comprehensive slate of business-building solutions provides company leaders with the management tools they need to make informed business decisions in an ever-changing market environment. The association also handles administration of NAQP, the National Association of Quick Printers, which specializes in the unique concerns of small printers nationwide, and the industry’s Research and Engineering Council, which is dedicated to manufacturing technology and productivity improvement issues. For more information on NAPL or its affiliated associations visit www.napl.org.
For more information contact:
Julia Moran Martz, president
(312) 850-1589 firstname.lastname@example.org
Assuming your presentation is buttoned-up tight and focused cleanly on your topic, what else can you do to ensure wise use of your webinar budget? Well, it’s all about two key points we seem to repeat a lot:
Ensuring brand integrity builds and maintains brand recognition.
Linking this particular tool (webinars) with other marketing and sales tools builds a network around your prospects, creating additional sales touch points.
Essentially, it’s all about maintaining professionalism while being available where and when your prospects need you.
Ensuring Brand Integrity In Webinars.
This seems pretty limited on the surface, right? It would appear that all you can do is send the webinar company your logo as a low-res jpeg and hope for the best. While that may be true with some third-party webinar companies, consider these options below and push, push, push on behalf of your brand.
Make sure your presentation is easy to read for the age group of the attendees and includes key brand elements such as logo, colors, fonts (where possible), image assets, etc. This is especially important because the webinar company will be using their own brand elements in the general interface.
Don’t choose an outsourced webinar delivery platform based solely on price. Also DO consider how well its interface supports branding your webinar as well as its user-friendliness.
Realize that folks will be attending from a variety of platforms and monitor sizes. Adjust the content of your graphics and text appropriately. If your Corporate Brand Guidebook doesn’t contain information specific to webinars, pull from the chapters for PowerPoint and Website styling.
Choose a speaker whose voice is appropriate for your brand. If your subject matter expert has a whiney voice, choose someone else or outsource. Stay away from extremely high or low-pitched voices, as they may be hard to hear and understand via many computer audio systems. If you’re selling cosmetics, consider using a female voice. Whereas sports or auto related topics may be able to go either way depending on the audience.
Be certain that your support materials are brand cohesive. This includes anything you’re linking to from the webinar such as white papers, case studies, speaker bios or an annotated outline of the webinar content.
If you’re sponsoring a trade pub’s webinar, ensure that you’re using every brand tool at your disposal: logo files, ad page, banner ad and link to landing page for more info. Negotiate for additional touch points where possible and connect them back to tools you can control such as landing pages or your website.
Opportunities for Extending Your Brand Beyond the Webinar.
Working your communications before and after the webinar takes research, planning and time. But the key benefit is keeping your audience engaged beyond the webcast to the point of closing a sale.
Imagine being a big-ticket sales person in a brick and mortar store and discovering a way to get the name, phone number and email address of every interested shopper with whom you spoke? You’d do it, right? Even if they didn’t buy from you right away, you could provide additional information and follow up with them during and after their buying process.
This is why it’s critical to look for opportunities to increase the viral aspect of your brand beyond the basic webinar.
Make sure you create avenues for attendees to interact with you following the event. Creating an ongoing forum or listserv or even linking to a blog post about your topic provides additional discussion options. If you already have an online discussion forum, open a new topic coinciding with the webinar and publicize it in follow-up communications.
Also ensure that your speakers have valid corporate Twitter and/or LinkedIn accounts for attendees to connect with afterwards, and provide that information freely at the webinar. Both tools have methods of supporting discussion topics.
Consider setting up a landing page or mini-site to support your webinar. Use this as an info link during registration and reminders, and then modify it afterwards to collect more information during post webinar follow up.
Consider timing your webinar close to a key industry trade show and include special invitations to webinar attendees for a VIP session or special gift at the show. This takes advantage of your sales team’s limited travel budgets.
If you’re offering in-depth workshops at an upcoming trade show, pre-empt the show with a preparatory session via a webinar. This can generate excitement for the show and increase valid attendees at the live event.
And remember, if you’re creating your own webinar content, you can still advertise it via banner ads in industry publications, usually for relatively modest expenditures.
Ultimately, It’s About Building Branded Networks.
Don’t think of a webinar as a one-off event. Use it as a building block within your entire communications network to get the biggest impact.
Creating a successful white paper isn’t just about the content. The content is in fact worthless if:
The paper doesn’t support the brand,
It’s too hard to read,
Your credibility is lacking because the paper looks amateurish, and
Your charts or graphics are boring.
I dare say most white papers are not tackling new theories or topics. And in a highly competitive situation, who are your prospects going to believe? The guy in the rumpled suit or the guy whose shirt is pressed, shoes polished and handshake firm? Likewise, a rumpled and amateurish white paper will not engender trust.
Here are five design guidelines for creating highly functioning and trustworthy white papers:
Keep it readable:Readability is created by a combination of design tactics that take your specific content and audience into account.Choice of typeface is top on the list. While all computers have Arial available, a smarter choice for readability of long passages would be a face with a larger x-height. For example, for readability of lengthy white papers on screen, Verdana or Georgia are two excellent options. For readability on paper, Myriad Pro or Garamond may work well. Serif typefaces are usually more readable than sans serif, but you also have to weight that difference with your brand’s needs. Of course, there are thousands of typefaces available and your corporate brand style guide may also govern the ones you use.Bigger is not always better when it comes to sizing type. That said, there are many designers who adhere to the school of tiny type. Use a designer who understands the nuances of type size as it relates to your content, writing style, typeface selection and most importantly, the needs or your target demographic. Striking the right balance in size means ensuring readers can easily read your paper without squinting and that your type isn’t so large that they can’t see the forest for the trees.
Also consider line length and line spacing. Line lengths that are too short cause too much hyphenation and make reading a choppy venture. Lines that are too long make it difficult for the mind’s eye to track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. To optimize reading speed, designers have for years been using the 66-72 characters per line rule. Generally speaking, this rule continues to work very well but again, is dependent on your white paper’s specific needs. Papers with lots of very long words may require a slightly longer line length. Just try reading a James Joyce novel with a short line length—painfully slow.
Line spacing also affects the ability of the mind’s eye to read quickly. Spacing that is too much or too little will slow the reader down, getting your message embedded later rather than sooner. Line spacing is also interdependent on typeface selection and average word length.
Keeping your white paper readable at maximum warp speed is a fine balance between many factors.
Look professional: Good design will pre-sell your white paper and ultimately, you.Not realizing this and acting on it will place you in the league of second bests or the do-not-consider group. It’s really not any different than showing up at an interview in a freshly pressed suit, shoes polished, hair in place, teeth clean and nails trimmed.Likewise, if your white paper looks like it was created in Microsoft Word, it will compete poorly against a competitor’s paper that is branded, polished, neat and professional. There are many design nuances that Microsoft Word or Publisher lack but a good designer trained in traditional typographic techniques can provide.
Be interesting: Being lively and interesting will get you more attention than the party bore.Don’t think that the term ‘white paper’ means you can’t use color or interesting graphics. White paper doesn’t refer to the overall design of your paper, and you’re doing your brand and your customer or prospect a disservice by not making your paper visually interesting.Now I don’t mean embellish your paper with fancy dingbats and doodads that don’t add value. Good design is not about decoration. Make sure all your graphics are working hard for the content and/or the brand image. And do something to stand out. Don’t be boring.
Design for the distribution method:Good white papers will be shared digitally among peers.If your white paper is being distributed via email, be careful to adhere to the email marketing laws in the country of distribution, don’t use spam triggers, do apply permission-based marketing techniques and make it easy to share by including forward links.If your paper is a downloadable PDF, recipients are more likely to print it before reading. So make sure you design it to be most readable printed from an inkjet printer.
If you are professionally printing your paper for snail-mail distribution, you must also consider the paper stock used and ideally, make sure it is ballpoint or pencil ready with healthy margins for jotting notes.
Pay attention to details: If God and the devil are both in the details, then this is where you’d better spend some time.We all know of HR people who throw away any resumes with typos, punctuation and grammar errors. It’s one way to narrow the field to the real professionals. Ditto with thought leadership and design. If you don’t look buttoned up in terms of details, how will prospects trust you with the details of their business?
In terms of white paper design details, look out for these common mistakes:
Ditch those double spaces between sentences. It affects reading speed and isn’t necessary since we no longer use typewriters.
Be consistent with periods and commas. If you’re using a serial comma, stick with it.
Don’t break proper nouns at the end of a line, especially if the line length is long.
Watch for too many hyphenations, which also slow reading and just look like you don’t care.
Keep your bullets closer to their text than the line below them.
Use a grid to align your content perfectly so nothing looks out of place.
Consider balance of elements on a page. Look for triangulation of weight.
Use styles to keep content consistently formatted.
Use color appropriately and don’t overuse. This isn’t a flea market.
Consider how your document will be printed and if on an office inkjet, make sure key content doesn’t exceed printer margins.
Align table columns appropriately for the content. Align decimals on the decimal, for instance.
Skimpy Investments Deliver Skimpy Results.
Ultimately, good white paper design is about taking care of your prospects, making it easy for them to consider you. Yes, it’s a larger investment, but if that’s what gets you moved to the head of the pack, then that’s what you must do.
Remember, looking the part and being easy to understand shortens the distance to being considered a thought leader.