Pantone Inc., the company best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), which is a standardized color reproduction system, annually announces the Color of the Year! The color is published in Pantone View for fashion designers, florists and other consumer-oriented companies to use in guiding their designs and planning for future products.

Here are the colors for the last five years:

  • 2011 – Honeysuckle
  • 2012 – Tangerine Tango
  • 2013 – Emerald
  • 2014 – Radiant Orchid
  • 2015 – Marsala

Color is important in marketing. We know that the purpose of marketing is to put your products and services in front of your targets, hoping they will purchase. Color plays an important role in that marketing because color is emotional. And, one of the keys of marketing is to speak to people on an emotional level.

According to Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, and past president of the Color Marketing Group, there are five factors impacting the use of color in any design project:

  1. Color Physics – the interaction of the object, the light source and the observer. If you have a color that will be viewed on outdoor signage and inside a restaurant under candlelight, you may want to increase the saturation of the color to be viewed by candlelight.
  2. Color Psychology – there is much disagreement on the meaning of different colors. Red can be loving and sexy, but it can also evoke carnage and danger. So, color + context is important.
  3. Color Influence and Forecasting – color forecasting incorporates larger influences such as politics, medicine and culture. Several years ago, as the political environment started to heat up and social issues sparked polarization, colors tended to go “angry”. They were aggressive and bold. Today, people are growing weary of the “shouting” and colors are becoming warmer and richer.
  4. Color Fads, Trends and Cycles – watch the New York runways and the Hollywood red carpet, as fashion designers are often harbingers of the trends that eventually reach marketing.
  5. Color and Culture – design trends are influenced by the culture around us. The design palettes of Philadelphia are as influenced by the richness of its historic architecture as they are by the Philadelphia Eagles’ green jerseys.

Color Wheel Pro reports the meaning of specific colors:

  • Red – fire, blood, energy, war, danger, strength, power, passion, desire and love
  • Orange – joy, sunshine, enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity and encouragement
  • Yellow – joy happiness, intellect and energy
  • Green – growth, harmony, freshness and fertility. Dark green is associated with money.
  • Blue – depth, stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven
  • Purple – royalty, power, nobility, luxury and ambition
  • White – light, goodness, innocence, purity and virginity
  • Black – power, elegance, formality, death, evil and mystery

You can see by some of the contradictory meanings, that context is important also. But, make no mistake, color can be very important in your marketing. In study called “Impact of Color in Marketing”, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, depending on the product.

And, the study “Exciting Red and Competent Blue” confirms that intent to purchase is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived.

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I attended a breakfast presentation last week and the speaker was Todd Henry, author of “Louder Than Words”. He was a great speaker and I’m looking forward to reading his book over the next few weeks.

So much of what he spoke on was about being authentic. Not just in your personal life, but in your work life as well. Authenticity applies to companies, as well as to the people who work in those companies. And, many of his comments caused me to think.

At Multi-Craft, we started as a small printing company, but when the internet first appeared, we felt it would impact our business. At the time, we weren’t sure if that impact would be positive or negative – just that it would change us. So, we began that journey of change, which continues to this day.

We’ve always been okay with change. In fact, we tell new employees that if they aren’t receptive to change, we probably aren’t the ideal employer for them. This attitude has served us well.

I believe we began this cycle of change long before most of our competitors did, which, in my opinion, makes us authentic. In fact, I would get upset when I felt another organization was imitating us, and it would cause me to want to keep moving forward and staying in the forefront. While imitation is a compliment, it should also spur us onward to bigger and better things.

Sitting at this presentation last week, I felt such great pride in our organization and the people who work there. Recently, one of our managers asked if I would be receptive to her developing a new program for a certain segment of our customer base. She had seen an unmet need and a potential new revenue stream. She had taken the initiative and the time to develop an outline of what that new program would look like, and was willing to present that plan. Now, that’s authentic – and creative! It also shows her vision and leadership skills.

Isn’t that what all of us want? Don’t we want to work for organizations that appreciate our creative ideas and efforts? Don’t we want to feel that we’re making a positive impact daily? Don’t we want to lead companies that are full of people like our manager? I think we all want that. Those that seem to fall short, may not be falling short for any other reason than they work for organizations that squelch their ideas, or don’t appreciate their creativity and authenticity.

So, today, as I write this blog, I’d like to dedicate it to all of the authentic employees at Multi-Craft. Thank you for your creativity, authenticity, willingness to adapt and change, and the bravery you exhibit when you’re willing to put yourself and your ideas out there for others to hear. Thank you for choosing to work here and be a part of our team! Don’t ever stop innovating, thinking or creating. It’s because of you that we succeed!

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We Need A Plan!

Like everything, when a plan is in place you are more likely to accomplish your goals. This holds true for losing weight, traveling, school projects, businesses and marketing.

Without a plan, you have no road map to guide you. You start with the end goal and then work backwards to identify all of the steps (tactics) you’ll need to execute to reach that end goal.

Developing a strategic marketing plan is much the same way – and, of course, there’s a process some brilliant person already developed for us to use.

  1. Know and understand your organization’s business goals and mission statement. If your marketing strategy goes against the company’s business goals, then, even if you are successful at your strategy, it will not support the larger goals of the organization.
  2. Conduct an internal audit that consists of:
    • Description of your business or product
    • Brief history/background of the organization
    • Identify the markets you currently target and want to target in the future
    • Know your current market share in those markets
    • Identify any secondary markets that you don’t directly target
    • Identify the markets that you have chosen NOT to compete in
    • Identify any specialty or niche of the organization
    • Detail your last three years sales growth or decline and the reasons that you have experienced growth or decline
    • Identify your organizations Strengths and Weaknesses
  3. Perform an external evaluation that consists of:
    • Detailed analysis of your major competitors and where you each rank in price, features, service, distribution, value/price relationship, quality, or any other important area
    • Identify any new trends that can impact your business and decide if they are favorable or unfavorable to you
    • Identify the climate and how it will impact you – political, legal, economic, social, cultural or technological
    • Identify your organizations Opportunities and Threats
  4. Customer Profile
    • Understand your best customers and why your products and services are important to them
    • Detail the different segments that you serve the most effectively:
      • Percentage of your sales
      • Industry vertical
      • How they use what you sell
      • Support requirements
      • Price sensitivity
      • What channels will best reach them
      • Any demographics or psychographics they have in common
      • Identify why they buy from you and why your prospect isn’t buying from you
      • Identify the top 5 features that are most important to the customer and turn these into benefit statements
  5. Customer Buying Patterns
    • Detail the Customer Journey and where you impact them during that journey
    • Identify where targets gather information about you and your offerings
    • What tactics have worked best in the past for you, or your competitors
    • List your current major tactics and whether they are gaining or losing effectiveness
  6. Strategy
    • Product – how will you leverage the products’ advantages
    • Price – determine pricing strategy. Will it be commodity pricing, value pricing or luxury pricing. Will you offer discounts, financing, bundling
    • Place – determine the distribution channels. Where will you sell your product?
    • Promotion – how will you advertise your product or services
    • Process – what is the process that you use for every client interaction
    • Physical Evidence – what is the physical evidence that you are what you say you are?
    • People – do you have the right people in place who are trained to execute your process
  7. Positioning
    • What needs or desires of your major target markets are not being met by your competitors? Is there one you can meet and excel at?
    • What positioning tactics can you employ to better meet that unwanted desire?
    • Identify your organization’s competitive advantage

Developing marketing strategy is not for sissies! It can be a long and difficult process, but it is the road map that will take you from the beginning to the end of your journey. And, it will insure that you arrive at the place where you wanted to be!

When you’re ready to develop or execute your Marketing Strategy, Multi-Craft is here to help!

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Strategic Marketing

The purpose of advertising has always been to attract new and prospective customers to buy your products and services. Today, we are bombarded with marketing messages. In fact, we receive:

  • 5,000 marketing messages daily
  • We notice about 50 of those messages
  • We pay attention to only 4 of those messages

So, as a marketer, your job is to be 1 of the 4 that your targets pay attention to. Today, it isn’t just about ink on paper, but it isn’t just about ecampaigns, social media, mobile marketing or your website either. It’s about all of those channels and using as many as possible to reach your targets. Not everyone will open your email, look at your direct mail or welcome your text messages. But, they will likely interact over at least one of those channels. So, using multiple channels means more effective marketing.

If you’re a typical consumer your day may start with checking your email on your mobile phone, reading the morning paper, getting in the car and turning on your radio. On your way to the office, you are passing billboards, bus ads and business signage. Once you’re at your desk, there’s emails, reading an article in an industry publication and reading a book or magazine during your lunch hour. On the way home from work, your radio is again on and you return home to your mailbox and finally some relaxation in front of the television.

As you can see, you are being marketed to throughout your entire day! If you are not integrating as many marketing channels as possible in an attempt to get your targets’ attention, you are running the risk of losing them to a competitor.

According to Print In The Mix, 59% of marketers favor an approach consisting of print, web, mobile and social media.

Consider that:

  1. Print and digital is merging – QR codes and augmented reality are examples of how print drives traffic online.
  2. Metrics matter – personalized URLs drive traffic online and allow you to track target behavior and know your response and conversion rates.
  3. Targeted is best – targeted and personalized direct mail will generate a higher response rate than static mail.
  4. Emails sent prior and after a catalog, will boost response rates to the catalog.
  5. Direct mail effectively drives client acquisition, while email is a great tool for retention.

It’s the savvy marketers that understand that a strategic marketing plan utilizing multiple channels will garner a higher return on investment for the marketing dollars being spent!

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Print Still Matters!

According to Britt Fero, executive vice president of Publicis, a New York-based advertising agency, “Printing is interesting because it actually provokes people to read it.”

Today, the majority of marketers believe that you can’t maintain an effective marketing strategy through digital alone.

Print Works (Domtar) reports that consumers still trust traditional media over online ads. They perceive it carries a higher value that digital content. In addition:

  • 78% of consumers react to direct mail immediately, especially when it is from a brand they’re interested in.
  • 44% of them will visit the brand’s website.
  • 34% will search online for more information about the product.
  • 58% of online shoppers state they browse catalogs for ideas.
  • 31% of them have a retailer’s catalog in front of them when they make an online purchase.
  • 65% of consumers surveyed state they have been directly influenced to purchase an item or service thanks to a direct mail piece.

In our fast paced digital world, print has the ability to provide a tactile experience that has a feeling of permanence and value.

Mary Frances Burt, Creative Director for Burt & Burt states, “Clients are beginning to associate the tactile experience of print with luxury. Digital is cheap, fast and easy. Who wants to be identified with any of those things?”

At Multi-Craft, we believe that an integrated approach is vital to marketing success. There is room for all channels – digital, social, mobile and print. Not everyone will welcome your emails or text messages. And, not everyone will visit your website, social media pages or read your direct mail. But, reaching out to your targets in multiple channels will give you a higher likelihood that one of those channels will encourage them to act.

“When you consider the emotional impact print delivers, it’s easy to see why it works in media mixes. From the magazines in your doctor’s waiting room to the fliers in your mail, print stimulates the senses like no other medium. Print can be thumbed through, dog-eared and show colors as they were meant to be seen. It delivers the memorable experience marketers want from their media mix.”

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Independence Day

Independence Day

Today is the 4th of July. This is the day that the United States of America celebrates its independence from Great Britain.

We most often associate the 4th of July with picnics, fireworks and parades, which are great fun, but sometimes overshadow the meaning of the holiday. 

The most appropriate definition of freedom for today is, “the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.” That’s because we won our freedom from Great Britain.  

But there is another definition of freedom that states, “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” However, that freedom does stop when it infringes on someone else’s freedoms.  

In my opinion, one of our most treasured freedoms is the freedom of speech. It is such a powerful right and I’m dismayed that we’re seeing it violated. 

From my perspective, I see a group of people who feel that others have no right to their opinions. Anyone that voices opposition to what they believe in are labeled “racist”, “biased” or “prejudiced”. Freedom of speech is a freedom for ALL Americans, not just some Americans. 

While I may not agree with your opinion, I do agree that you have a right to your opinion. And, I believe our country should fight to maintain that freedom for both you and I. 

The very best solutions will always come from debate where differences of opinion are respectfully shared. No one person knows it all. No one person has the answer to every issue. Our country is a melting pot of different faiths, ethnicities, genders and traditions – that’s what makes us great! I believe that every citizen has a right to speak openly and that every citizen also has the responsibility to listen and consider other viewpoints. 

I know it may not be popular to discuss religion in today’s intolerant atmosphere, but God stated that the greatest commandment was to love. This doesn’t just mean to love those who look like you and believe what you believe. It also means you are to extend love to others no matter their ethnicity, religion, shortcomings, gender, sexual activities or crimes. God belongs to everyone who accepts Him! That doesn’t mean you support bad behavior, condone illegal activities, or share someone else’s beliefs. It just means you need to love and respect them as a person – period.  

Our country is great because of our differences. So, the next time you want to shut down the conversation because it doesn’t reflect your beliefs, instead just listen, try to understand and then respectfully share your opinions. Remember, many people have died to make it possible for you to speak freely. Just make sure to allow others to do the same. 

Happy 4th of July!

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Summer Delight!

I love summer! I enjoy the longer days, thanks to daylight savings time. I am delighted by the feel of the warmth and sun on my skin and the slower pace that seems to accompany this season.

When I think of summer, some things just automatically come to mind:

  • Flags, for the 4th of July
  • Popsicles dripping down the hands of little ones as they struggle to keep up with the melting juices
  • Picnics
  • Outdoor concerts
  • Fireworks
  • Boats on the water
  • Sand between the toes
  • Vacations – a time for regenerating our minds, bodies and spirits

Sometimes it feels like you work twice as hard the week before you leave on vacation and then work twice as hard the week after you come back, just to catch up. And, while that’s probably true, unless you have someone who can step in and take care of your work while you’re gone, that week of fun is needed so you can return refreshed and ready for new challenges.

I always look forward to my summer week at the beach with my children, grandchildren and father. We have four generations of my family all in one place for one entire week. There are no schedules, catch-as-you-can meals, little ones bedtime schedules in disarray, wet footprints through the house, evening games and, of course, lots of sand everywhere.

To watch my grandchildren experience the ocean for the first time and get that first taste of salt water in their mouths, was a joy. To see my children laughing together and enjoying the fact that the grandparents and great-grandparents are there to give them a little break also, brings happiness to my heart.

I hope you have a vacation planned so you can enjoy the dog days of summer and refresh your mind, body and spirit!

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