Writing an Amazing, Effective, Brilliant Press Release

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What’s the first tool you turn to when you need to get the word out about a new product, service, or innovation from your business? If you’re like many small business owners, it’s probably not the press release.

While some marketers have pushed the press release into the background — throwing it under the bus in favor of newcomers like Twitter, Facebook, and banner ads — this venerablemarketing tool has definitely not outlived its usefulness. In fact, some even say that with today’s focus on content, the press release is more valuable than ever… that is, as long as it’s done right.

We’ve collected best practice tips and advice from the experts to help you take full advantage of this tried-and-true marketingstrategy, so you can write a brilliant, amazing and — most of all — effective press release that’ll get noticed.

Press Release 101

First, the basics: What, exactly, is a press release, and why does it exist? In a nutshell, a press release is a written update or summary, usually a couple hundred words in length, that alerts the media to news about your business. Whether you’ve created an innovative solution, are introducing a new service, are planning a big event, or have won an award, a press release supplies journalists with the information they’ll need to write an article about you in the press.

At least that’s the goal. Crafting your press release to appeal to journalists is key, as they’re inundated with information every day. Here’s how to make yours stand out.

Make it Accessible

Your press release should follow a standard format, which includes an attention-grabbing (but relevant and accurate) headline followed by a strong opening sentence that gets right to the point. Reporters are busy; assume that they’ll probably only read the headline and first few sentences before scanning the rest of your text, and really make that prime (content) real estate work for you.

Within the first paragraph, think like a journalist and address the 5 “W’s”: who, what, where, when, and why. Use the remainder of the text to support the important information you just shared in the first few sentences.

You Invented a What?

Here’s the fun part. Remember, what’s huge news to you as a business owner (that new line of tires you’re offering is amazing! Your lobby redesign is a stunning example of modern design!) may not be quite as huge to those who aren’t directly connected to your company.

But don’t get discouraged: Get creative. Find the angle that makes your information compelling — the angle that makes your press release more like a news article. You need to demonstrate the value of your information; does it solve a problem for consumers? Will it fill a need in the community? Think like a reporter, and turn your press release into news that people want to read and can use.

Short and Sweet

Again, journalists don’t have a lot of time to savor each and every word, so keep your message short and sweet. Be succinct; get to the point and say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Your press release should always fit on a single page.

Contact Information is Key

Whatever you do, don’t forget to include your contact information! This vital data should go at the top of your document, where it’s easy to find. Ensure that you’re including the contact data for the person you want reporters to contact, as well. Maybe that’s your secretary, your CEO, or a project manager. Whoever it is, ensure that those who want to contact your business can.

If you continually deliver direct, relevant press releases, your recipients will take notice. As your credibility increases, so will your chances of getting that valuable media attention.

Management Lessons From Our Elementary School Days

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Think back for a moment to your elementary school days. Chances are, some of your best memories revolve around celebrations. Whether celebrating a classmate’s birthday, a favorite holiday, an accomplishment for the class, or even the 100th day of school, everyday celebrations are an essential part of many elementary school classrooms.

Why are these types of celebrations so popular?

For one thing, they offer everyone, including the teacher, a bit of a mental break from the daily grind. When people return from a break, they’re ready to sit down and work some more. Without a break, it’s easy to get burned out.

Secondly, they help to keep the atmosphere happy and joyful in the classroom. Everyone functions better when they work in a positive atmosphere.

And finally, they offer the teacher and classmates the chance to recognize the accomplishments of the group as a whole, as well as those of individual students. When students know their efforts are recognized, the motivation to continue to perform and earn more rewards is strengthened.

While most working adults are far removed from elementary school, that doesn’t mean these basic lessons learned in childhood no longer apply.

What business leaders today can learn from their elementary school teachers

Elementary school teachers understand that the best way to keep people motivated is to celebrate their accomplishments. When you find ways to congratulate people or teams who meet particular goals at your organization, you’ll also be encouraging them to continue to strive and accomplish more. Employees who feel as though their accomplishments and efforts are recognized are more likely to feel satisfaction at the workplace and trust that their efforts contribute to company success.

How businesses can create the environment on an adult scale

Working to keep the atmosphere light and pleasant can also contribute to a positive work environment. While most professional environments wouldn’t be able function with parties every week, there are plenty of other ways to encourage a positive workplace. Cards, token gifts, bonuses, announcements of accomplishments at meetings, and similar strategies can all help employees feel appreciated. Even personal notes from management will let employees know their leaders notice the efforts of everyone below them. Save the parties for more memorable occasions, such as the holiday season.

Employees who feel appreciated have greater company loyalty. Loyal employees tend to be fantastic company evangelists, while also contributing to the stability of the company. The result is a stronger company that can move forward more effectively. Loyal employees tend to speak positively about the brand to their friends and family, as well as online. Creating a positive company environment will help to make the entire company a welcoming place for employees and customers.

When companies have specific goals in mind, it’s tempting to just expect everyone to put their noses down and work. In reality, companies that work to create a rewarding atmosphere where employees feel happy and content are likely to accomplish greater things and have employees who feel more loyal and appreciated by management. How happy an employee feels can have an incredible impact on their productivity. So take the time to foster happy employees, and get started building your company today.

Marketing Your Brand to Every Palate

One of the joys of eating out as a family is the opportunity to let each person choose their own meal. For those with a bit more daring palate, that might mean trying something new. For others, it might mean ordering an old standby they know they’ll enjoy. In either case, the person is more likely to enjoy their dining experience because they have the chance to order something that suits their own individual taste.

Every Palate
Distinct appetites and marketing

Just as every person has their own unique palate when it comes to food, your customers have their own appetites when it comes to how they want to receive your marketingmessages. Keep this in mind as you plan your marketingcampaigns. Work to tailor your message (and media) to address the needs of the various types of customers you’re trying to reach.

Begin the process by developing several key buyer or customer personas. Your marketing campaigns should be carefully tailored to address the particular characteristics each of those personas share. For example, if you’re marketing for a bank, the ads you use to reach consumers looking to save time checking their balances and making deposits might not be the same ads you would use to reach consumers searching for information on a reverse mortgage.

In the same way, try to tailor your campaigns to address the platforms your customers are using to access your information. Emphasize web links and clickable phone numbers on mobile websites, email addresses and phone numbers on standard web pages, and easy-to-remember URLs on print ads and brochures. For direct mail marketing, target your campaigns based on demographic information, such as income levels, number of children, location, and so on.

The more precise you can make your campaign, the more likely it will be to succeed. Customers appreciate it when they feel as though a marketing campaign addresses their unique concerns and problems. When customers see advertisements that don’t apply to them, they tend to ignore them. In some cases, they may even get completely turned off by the company involved. Taking the time to tailor your ads to address the needs of different groups of potential customers is the best way to start gaining new customers and improve the visibility of your company.

Whether it’s a night out with the family at a favorite restaurant or a marketing campaign aimed at gaining new customers, remembering the individual tastes of the people involved always makes good sense. A well-planned, well-focused, multifaceted campaign leaves customers feeling appreciated and increases the chance of reaching them when they’re ready to buy. If you’re ready to get started with your next marketing campaign, reach out to us to see how we can help you make it happen.

What Marketers Can Learn at the Farmers’ Market

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Imagine walking into a farmers’ market. Like many other visitors making their way through the stalls, you’ve become increasingly concerned about where your food comes from and the techniques used to grow it. The farmers’ market offers you a distinct advantage because here you can actually speak with the people who grew or raised the food you’re looking to buy. You can ask them questions.You approach the first stall. The farmer offers a variety of foods — fruits, vegetables, and even a bit of meat and cheese. You try to ask some questions about what pesticides were used when the plants were growing, what the animals ate, and whether or not the chickens were allowed to roam. The farmer seems annoyed by your questions. He gives you gruff, brief answers that don’t really address your concerns but seem focused instead on getting you to make a purchase or move along.

The next stall is similar, except you note that the prices are about 10%-20% higher. Still, you reach out to the farmer behind the counter and start asking questions. What a difference! The farmer comes out from behind the counter and tells you all about the methods he uses to grow and raise his different livestock and crops. He explains what safeguards he has in place to protect the consumer’s health and the experience he has in the field.

The time comes for you to make a purchase. Who are you more likely to buy from? Is it the farmer who just pushed you to buy or the farmer you’ve begun to trust because of his helpfulness, even if he does charge a few cents more? For most people, the answer is going to be the second. When people form bonds with merchants and begin to feel as though they can trust them, they become increasingly likely to buy from those vendors. This same concept should be incorporated into all your marketing campaigns.

We at Print & Copy Factory, try really hard to give you the service and information you need. We spend a great amount of time researching and looking for ideas that you can benefit from. Isn’t that what partnership is about? Building that relationship out of trust.Helping to build a relationship of trust

Becoming a source of answers and an authority in the industry for potential customers is a critical part of building this relationship. This often involves building plenty of valuablecontent online that customers can turn to when they have questions. Content that adds value helps customers begin to trust a company, their products, and their knowledge of the industry. When a single company has the answers a customer is looking for time and time again, there’s little question who they’ll turn to when they’re ready to make a purchase.

One way to build this kind of relationship is by working to become a regular community figure. Look for events or people you can sponsor to help get your company name in front of potential customers on a regular basis. Being available in person to answer questions for potential customers is one of the best types of marketing.

You should similarly take advantage of networking opportunities and work to establish friendships with many other professionals. As you nurture these relationships, remember that you’re building for the future, too. Even if you don’t get any immediate sales from a contact, they’ll be far more inclined to turn to you in the future if they know you’re someone they can trust.

Taking the time to build relationships with potential customers — by answering their questions, providing them with qualitycontent, and even forming friendships — is a wonderfully easy way to grow your business. People naturally turn to the people they trust in business, so follow the same rules as the helpful farmer in the farmers’ market, and begin to improve your ownmarketing techniques.

Making Friends and Finding Customers: Using the Same Process to Find Both

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Young children tend to be relatively indiscriminate when it comes to making friends. As long as the other child is remotely interested in playing the game at hand, they tend to quickly run off together at a playground. As people grow up, however, they tend to become a little more selective when it comes to choosing friends. As we age, we look for people who share interests with us and possess a similar life outlook. When we find people who share these particular qualities, we begin to form relationships and bond with them.
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Why we care about finding friends with similar interests
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We seek friends who share our interests because these common touch points make it easy to find things to discuss with them. Friends who share our interests can anticipate our needs, answer our questions, and engage us in a way that people with whom we have nothing in common cannot.Of course, these similarities don’t have to revolve around particular activities. Sometimes, personality traits or beliefs will draw us to our closest friends. But in all cases, there’s something we find engaging and significant in the other person when we begin to form a friendship.
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Relationships with companies
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For your company to be successful, you must build relationships with your potential customers. Understanding the dynamics of friendship can make this easier. Similar to the process of meeting new friends, your company must seek out potential customers who have particular characteristics that align with your buyer personas. Just as a person seeks new friends by participating in activities they enjoy, you, must look for new potential customers in areas where those prospects tend to congregate. This might mean going to Twitter if you’re trying to reach the college-age crowd or to the daily commuter newspaper to reach middle-aged commuters on the metro. Knowing where to go to meet potential customers will make an enormous difference in the success of your marketing campaign. Once a new customer has been introduced to your company, the relationship will need to be nurtured, so it can grow. There are a number of techniques you can use here. For example, providing a regular stream of content that offers value to customers will help them grow to trust your company to answer their questions and provide them with the services they require. Compelling content will also keep bringing customers back to your website or physical place of business. The more they return and are exposed to the company brand, the more willing they will be to do business with you. You can also build relationships with customers by encouraging camaraderie among them. When customers feel like part of an exclusive group, they tend to have greater feelings of customer loyalty and are more likely to become repeat customers. Building friendships typically involves finding people who share particular traits in common. You naturally use those traits to build a relationship you come to rely upon and trust. Similar techniques need to be used when building a customer base. Seek people with particular characteristics that match your identified consumer personas, then work to nurture those relationships and encourage people to return time and again. If you think of finding customers like finding friends, you should have great success building a marketing campaign.

Carpe Diem: An Important Business Mantra

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Recognizing and grasping the right opportunities is important in nearly every aspect of business. Taking bold action at just the right time can take a company from decent to extraordinary, from paying the bills to thriving. In some cases, success itself can hinge on a single connection or contract that opens the floodgates.

If you’ve been around the business world very long, you know that success is not completely predictable. Some companies with very talented leadership and great ideas never seem to get out of the starting gate, while other companies with lesser talent manage to make it all the way to the top of their industry. The difference often boils down to knowing how to recognize opportunities and then having the courage to take them.
Recognizing opportunity
So how can you ensure you’re taking advantage of the right opportunities? The first priority is understanding your niche in the marketplace. Make sure you have a clear idea of how you’re serving customers and what you’re doing to stand out from the competition. This will help you recognize those unique chances when they come along. Next, make sure you’re always on alert. That doesn’t mean you need to work perpetually and check email constantly, wherever you are. It does mean, however, that you must remain alert to opportunities in unexpected places. For example, if you’re out at a restaurant and strike up a conversation with another patron, recognize and take advantage of any opportunity you find for a business contact. Similarly, if you’re receiving goods or services from another company and notice some way that your company could help them improve, speak up and offer your suggestions. This is no time to be shy or second guess yourself. Strike while the iron’s hot, as the saying goes. Don’t expect every opportunity to be perfect. Most won’t be. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your time. Being right and being perfect aren’t one and the same. Those imperfect opportunities are often enough to help you grow your business. Recognizing opportunities and having the courage to walk up and seize them can make an enormous difference in the success of your business. Playing it safe might allow you to pay the bills, but it will also limit your potential growth. Learn how to recognize the appropriate opportunities, take courage, and see just how high your company can go.

Are You Attracting Quality Leads or Meaningless Site Chatter?

social media chatter

social media chatter

When it comes to marketing, the million-dollar question is: “Have we been successful in our campaigns?”
No company wants to pour money into a marketing effort and get nothing in return. It’s common for marketing professionals to track numerous metrics in an effort to gauge the success of their campaigns. Unfortunately, many are monitoring the wrong thing, and that can be dangerous.

What metrics don’t matter?
It doesn’t matter how many people visit your website. Some people might argue with that and try to talk about brand exposure or sales funnels, but think about something. Say you do a massive overhaul of your website. You really focus on optimizing content, creating a clean and attractive layout, and improving your search engine ranking. Your site traffic jumps by a shocking 200 percent! Wow! Congratulations! What does that mean? Nothing.

The jump in traffic is only significant if the number of conversions jumps with it. If you received 10 quality leads per week on your old site and you receive 10 quality leads per week on the new site, your jump in traffic actually means your site is now performing worse. If you were only monitoring your site traffic, however, you might be tempted to say that the overhaul was a huge success. This can be detrimental to your business in the long run.

The same thinking applies to social media followers or even physical bodies in the store. What matters is quality leads and potential conversions. These are the metrics you should be tracking. Site traffic is only important for comparison purposes to see the percentage of visitors who convert.

Finding quality leads
The most important aspect of finding quality leads is developing content that offers value to your ideal customer. You should have a good idea of the type of customer you’re looking to attract. This includes their interests, what matters professionally to them, and what they’re looking for.

Build quality content, which will naturally incorporate keywords and help to answer your visitors’ questions and concerns. More importantly, when visitors find your site, they’ll become interested in what your company has to offer. This will lead to a higher percentage converting. Visitors will come to trust your company as an industry leader who can help them find what they’re looking for.

Focus on building a conversion friendly website. Whether a customer arrives on the web page from a QR code or web address on a direct mail postcard or through a Google search, the site should have a clear sitemap, show obvious value for the customer, and make it easy for them to convert into customers.

Customers don’t like having to hunt around for phone numbers, addresses, or the chance to sign up for products and services, so don’t make them. Prominent, easy-to-use buttons are great additions. Neuromarketing also tells us little tips, such as offering customers choices (even if the choices are meaningless) will improve conversion rates. For example, customers are more likely to sign up for a newsletter that comes with a ‘sign me up now’ button next to a ‘no thanks, I like wasting money’ button, rather than a newsletter with just a sign up button.

There’s no doubt getting chatter on your site is addicting and exciting. Everyone who’s ever built a website knows how enticing it is to watch the number of visitors increase. When it comes to a successful marketing campaign, however, it’s important to remember to measure the right things. Visitor counts don’t matter unless conversion rates also rise. Spend your time attracting quality leads, and watch the important metrics increase for genuine success.

Does Your Advertising Work Together?

 At first glance, the various platforms used for delivering your marketing messages couldn’t look more different. From social media to bus ads to print or radio ads, each platform has a completely different feel and intended audience. Regardless of the differences, however, it’s critical that your campaigns maintain some key consistencies across every medium.

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What’s the purpose of an integrated campaign and what does it look like?

An integrated campaign works to build an audience no matter where the advertisements are seen. The campaign is designed with a common message that’s then tweaked and sent out over a variety of platforms in an effort to attract the attention of customers wherever they’re found.

Integrated campaigns send customers toward a common sales funnel. This means that the social media and direct mail components will both point customers in a common direction (promoting an upcoming sale, for example).

Design consistency is also a must, so customers recognize your brand wherever they may see it. Customers see thousands of advertisements a day. It’s important that they make a quick connection between your ads and your brand, so your brand can become more memorable to them. To accomplish this, use similar colors and designs on bus ads, social media ads, and print ads. This consistency will help you stay in front of your intended audience while simultaneously making it easier for potential customers to interact with you.

So how can you start making more integrated campaigns?

Begin by identifying exactly who you’re targeting and where those people can be found. Develop a common, unifying message, then tailor it to each major platform you intend to include in your campaign. That way, no matter where the customer encounters your brand, they’ll have no trouble entering the sales funnel. This might mean using QR codes in print advertising and prominent, well-labeled links on websites.

One of the biggest challenges many companies run into is maintaining consistency across multiple teams. For example, you might have one team that specializes in print and radio ads, while another group focuses on social media and website advertising. Make sure all your marketing teams understand the common vision and can successfully work together to achieve a collective goal.

As your campaign gets underway, track each portion, so you can successfully gauge where new customers are coming from. This will provide key insights into how well each portion of the campaign is doing and let you know if certain aspects need to be modified or even abandoned altogether.

An integrated marketing campaign is crucial for growing a company and finding new customers in the modern market. Rather than thinking about your various platforms as separate entities, integrating them can lead to higher brand recognition and conversion rates. Keep this in mind and prepare to reach your customers on a much deeper level.

If you’re ready to get started building an integrated campaign, give us a call or drop us an email to see how we can help you move forward.

What Cities Can Teach Us About Branding

TheBigCIty

Quick, what comes to mind when someone mentions they’re going to visit New York City? What about Washington, D.C., Toronto, or Paris? Every city has something that makes it unique, even if it’s not far from other metropolitan areas.

Washington, D.C., and New York are only about five hours apart, yet the two cities are remarkably different. Those visiting New York for the first time might be interested in trying their first New York bagel, visiting the Empire State Building, or seeing Times Square. Those venturing to Washington, D.C., will be more interested in seeing the major buildings of the U.S. government and visiting the monuments found around the city.

No one ventures to New York and then says, “There’s no point in going to see Washington, D.C. It’s going to be just like New York.” Why? Branding.

In many ways, cities have done a great job of branding themselves to potential visitors. They’ve created an atmosphere and a ‘product’ or experience that is so unique visitors know they won’t receive it anywhere else. When people hear certain cities’ names, they already have perceptions about what they can see and do there and an idea about whether or not they should bother with such a trip.

That’s what branding is all about.

What’s distinct about a well-branded company?

A well-branded company has a strong customer presence. Potential customers know and recognize the brand name and logo. They have ideas about what the company offers and if the product is worth the investment. Advertising focuses around reinforcing that brand and helping customers create positive associations with it.

What your company can learn from the world’s major cities

Today’s major cities strive to offer visitors something no one else can. Washington, D.C., for example, is the only city in the world that can offer visitors the chance to visit the seat of the U.S. government, and they have capitalized on this appeal. In addition to government buildings, the city boasts a number of war memorials, presidential memorials, and museums. Even if these additional sites were not planned solely to market the city, they’ve created a unique and desirable environment for visitors. This is similar to what you should look to accomplish for your company.

How your company can offer a similar appeal and uniqueness

No matter how over saturated your industry might be, your company must be able to demonstrate its own unique strengths. Just as each major city manages to create its own culture and attractions, your company must determine what makes it unique compared to the rest of the competition. Perhaps you offer unique guarantees or better prices. Maybe you provide a superior buying experience or higher-quality products. Whatever your strengths, you should work to determine where your customers are still left wanting and then fill that niche. Use that niche to create a unique experience that customers can expect when they come to you. Work to brand your company, so customers know to expect this type of product or experience when they use your company.

Just as cities around the world have created unique markets for themselves by offering experiences that only they can produce, your company can brand itself to offer something special. When customers know what they can expect from you and how your experience or product is unlike anything else, they’ll be far more likely to keep coming back. Let us know if you’re ready to start exploring what makes your brand completely unique!

Business Card Marketing: Evolution of the Smallest, Most Versatile Marketing Tool

unnamedQuick: Which single piece of marketing collateral combines two old adages — “first impressions are the most important” and “a picture is worth a thousand words” — and proves them both true?

It’s the trusty business card, of course! Given the wealth of information this compact little marketing tool holds and delivers in just a few inches of space, it’s no surprise they’ve been popular since the 1400s. Today, business cards are still evolving, with ever-more creative designs and options.A Rich Past: The Social History of the Business Card

The forerunner of the business card stretches back to 15th century China. At that time, royals and aristocrats would send their servants to the homes of other members of the upper classes, bearing “visiting cards,” announcing their intent to pay a visit.

Two centuries later, the practice caught on in France. During Louis XIV’s reign, visiting cards became all the rage in high society circles. Proper gentlemen and ladies handed out “calling cards” as a means of social introduction and as a way to request a meeting. Over time, the practice became more formal, and many rules surrounding the use of calling cards came into play.

The practice made its way to England and across the pond to the U.S. in the mid-19th century, bringing a strict etiquette along. For instance, a married woman had to hand out her husband’s cards along with her own, in order to avoid seeming risque. Also, the way a card was folded conveyed a message. These early cards were usually engraved on glossy paper and, along with the caller’s name, often featured a design such as a family coat of arms, flowers, or hearts.

Reaching Into the Business World

Around the same time, calling cards began making their way into the world of commerce. Known as trade cards, these early business cards were used both as advertisements for businesses and as maps to point the way to stores. Trade cards were usually printed using woodcuts or engraving and used monotones. They featured the name of a merchant, their address, directions to the business, and often a reproduction of the store’s sign.

Unlike social calling cards, the use of trade cards wasn’t limited to the upper classes. After the widespread use of the printing press created a boom in print advertising, trade cards became less of an advertisement and more of a way to introduce oneself and one’s business. Most were printed on white card stock with black ink, a trend that continued until recent decades.

Today, business cards are just as ubiquitous as ever — but much more creative in design.

The Boom of the Creative, Innovative Business Card

As digital and printing technologies continue to improve, so do business card designs. Long gone are the days of monotone cards with little to no personality. Instead, many people choose to create business cards that truly reflect their business and their own unique personality. In doing so, they make their company stand out to potential customers.

Some of the most innovative and clever cards integrate functionality into the card itself; for instance, a jeweler might create a card that folds into a ring sizer, a tire company might print a tread gauge on the bottom of the card, or a tailor might choose a folded card that can be unfolded and cut into a measuring tape.

Some modern business cards are just plain fun, such as restaurant cards that can be folded to look like little menus, or cards with cut-outs in the middle to create finger puppets.

Of course, your business cards don’t have to be over the top to show creativity. Just a little something different can make them stand out in a sea of traditional (boring) cards.

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