New Brand Identity Reflects Evolution from Print to Multi-Channel Marketing Solutions

The AlphaGraphics national network is celebrating its dynamic new brand identity with much fanfare this month. And AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District is no exception!

“Our new identity expresses innovation and the integration of new technologies, new platforms, and new channels that are driving our business forward.” says Clare Meehan, President and CEO of AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District.

Although the new identity has been quietly rolling out for the past several months, it steps into the spotlight in January with a celebration in which our customers are invited to participate. We’re giving away ten great prizes in two weeks, beginning on January 19, and it’s all happening on Facebook.

Offering printing services—including digital, large format, and offset printing—and strategic marketing services including graphic design, website development, and cross-channel campaigns that integrate personalization, email, SEM, social media, mobile marketing and direct mail, AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District partners with clients to deliver one-stop, fully integrated communications solutions.

“The identity really speaks to how we put it all together to help our clients communicate in an increasingly complex world,” adds Meehan.

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The Kodak Moment: A Piece of History

Who doesn’t remember the great Kodak Commercials?  The ones with the True Colors song playing in the background.   They were so vivid, just as the roll of golden colored film in my refrigerator door.

It’s hard to believe that such a leader in both profits and brand awareness is rumored to be filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the coming weeks.  How could this have happened to one of our nation’s leading companies?

At AlphGraphics, we spend a lot of time not only working on client projects, but also investing in our future.  We take focused time (as we are during our staff planning workshop this Saturday), to review our accomplishments from the past year and draft new goals for 2012.  Among these new objectives, there are always at least a dozen or more training opportunities, researching goals, and new topics to explore over the next year.  Why?  We know that to stay relevant, we need to be thought leaders.  We want to know our customers’ needs even before they do, so that we have bigger opportunities to help them achieve their goals.

It’s obvious, and unfortunate, that Kodak failed in this way.   They seemed to get stuck on their film products that soon became antiquated for the customer.  By the time they realized it, their competitors were miles ahead and Kodak just couldn’t catch up.

I think this article does a great job at summarizing Kodak’s rise and fall.   But, the main message is, how can you and your organization stay ahead in this busy marketplace?   At AlphaGraphics, we don’t know a lot about cameras, but we can certainly help with your strategic market plans to make sure your thinking ahead and anticipating your consumers’ next move.

 

Written by Liz Payne,
Assistant Manager,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District 

Tradeshow Marketing: The Secrets to Success on the Road

Everyone goes to tradeshows knowing exactly what to expect: rows upon rows of unexciting booths giving away pens and hand sanitizer.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Tradeshows can be an excellent way to engage customers, promote your brand, and gain new leads and contacts.  All it takes is a few minor adjustments to your approach.

A successful tradeshow begins with a strong pre-show initiative.  It is essential that members of your target audience are aware that you will be at the show and why stopping at your booth is worth their time.  A simple way to begin this process would be to get a list of attendees from the host organization.  From this list, carefully choose a group of attendees that you would like to target and plan a strategy for reaching them.  It is always best to do this in a multi-channel way.  For example, you could send your target attendees a direct mail piece, an e-mail blast, and a social media invite all informing them that you will be present at the tradeshow and where your booth will be located.  If you wanted to take this initiative a step further, these communications could contain a PURL (personalized URL) to get additional information about the attendee and their business needs.

Now the easy part is over- your target attendees know you will be present at the show.  Now the real challenge begins.  How can you ensure they visit your booth?  Put yourself in their shoes: there are hundreds of booths to visit.  What would make it worth their time to single yours out?  It needs to be worth their time.  There are endless ways to achieve this, and the more creative the better.  For example, the customer could bring the direct mail piece to your booth for a chance to win a prize or service related giveaway.  If your pre-show initiatives included a PURL, it could serve as a location to pre-register for a prize.  Another option could be utilizing mobile media and texting attendants during the show to stop by your booth.

One way to ensure that your booth stands out against the crowd is having professional signage and promotional materials.  This could include anything from mounted signage, retractable banners, or floor decals.  Anything out of the ordinary will be more likely to create a buzz among the sea of white folding tables.  The nonverbal communication of the employees working at the booth will also have a major impact on the traffic the booth receives.  No one wants to visit a booth where unengaged people are sitting on a folding chair behind a table.  It is crucial that professionally dressed, enthusiastic employees are standing in front of the booth engaging attendees in conversation and welcoming questions.

Finally, the trade show is over and your work is done.  Wrong!  This is the most crucial aspect of a tradeshow that is often overlooked.  It is essential to take all of the leads you worked so hard to get and categorize them into hot, warm and cold.  Hot leads are people who expressed a need in your product or service or have requested information.  It is essential that hot leads are followed up with in 3-5 business days because you are probably competing for their business with competitors from the tradeshow.  Warm leads are people who were interested in your product or service, but a decision probably won’t happen any time soon.  These people should be followed up with within two weeks.  Cold leads are all of the others.  Follow up with these people with a generic marketing piece in 4-6 weeks.

Hopefully this got you thinking of ways to refresh the way you approach your next tradeshow.  AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District is here to help you out with all your marketing, print and signage needs!

by Kristen Hasychak,
Project Coordinator,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Change of a Season

I really enjoy autumn – the changing of the leaves, football and the end of sweltering temperatures.  Yet with the great parts of fall come the mornings that are a touch too crisp, and the knowledge that I will be prying myself out of bed while it’s still pitch black for a long time to come.  However, as the saying goes, change is the only constant.

Change is upon us at AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District as well.  We’re in the midst of a company wide rebranding to help reflect our evolution from Print to Cross Media Solutions.  Perhaps you’ve noticed our new logos on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or received your order in some of our new packaging.  We’re excited about all the changes this brings, and how it will help us help you communicate more effectively with your audience.  We invite you to stay tuned as the changes unfold.

With the beginning of autumn, we also welcomed three new staff members to the AlphaGraphics team.  Joining us in Outside Sales is Michelle Warren; Kristin Hasychak will be a new Project Coordinator and Ken Reeser will putting the finishing touches on your project in bindery.

By Renee Schaefer,
Project Coordinator,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Navigating the Sea of Communications Technology: Sink or Swim?

I’ve been thinking about the mind-blowing way technology has made its way into every crack and crevice, every hour, minute, and second of our lives.

Watching my favorite show, Breaking Bad, last Sunday night, I was astounded at how many times during the hour I saw a commercial for a mobile phone or mobile-related product. Do people do dumb things with smartphones? Do we need an app to tell us how we rate on the moron meter, or one to show us how we’d look with ginger hair? Apparently yes, we most certainly do.

Yes, I need my laptop, smart phone, itouch, wireless router, modem, Bluetooth-Satellite-Radio-OnStar-enabled car, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They help me make a better living, travel more safely, and connect in miraculous new ways with friends, relatives, and colleagues.

But are they the center of my universe, the be-all and end-all of how I communicate?

Call me old school, but I also like things that don’t require technology and thumbs. Like walking my dog (she communicates with me nicely without any thumbs). And talking with people who are actually in the same room with me, when they’re not using technology to talk with someone else while I’m talking to them.

These people—the technology natives whose appendages include two arms, two legs, and a cell phone each—are my kids. While I’m infinitely thankful that I can call or text them to find out how they’re doing at any moment, instantly share a photo I’ve just snapped on a business trip, or reach them quickly in an emergency, nothing replaces the warmth of their smiles and the comfort of their hugs.

I want them to know that while I value technologically enhanced communication, nothing comes close to the intonations of a voice, the firmness of a handshake, and the power of looking someone straight in the eyes.

I want them to realize that technology shouldn’t replace other (more intimate) forms of communication. Rather, it should complement and enhance them. And that the choice as to whether they allow the increasingly overwhelming technologies to create emotional distance and separation, or they work hard at building meaningful relationships while using technology to add depth and breadth, is theirs.

As with exercise, diet, spirituality, giving, and any other body- or character-building endeavor, successful communication takes commitment, time, and effort, and discipline. Knowing how to choose appropriately the best form, or combination of forms, of communication for the situation is key. It’s my job as a parent to teach my kids how, when, and why to make those appropriate choices. Which is why I embrace communications technology and look to glean from it those things that add richness to life. And I pounce on “teachable moments” with my kids in which I can instill a balanced, high-tech/high-touch philosophy of communication.

Recently I was reading a blog about this issue of technology changing—or as some would suggest, killing­—the way we communicate. The writer put it aptly:

“If you live next to the ocean, do you ban your kids from going to the beach? Or do you teach them to swim? And how can you teach them to swim, if you yourself don’t know how? Don’t understand waves, rip currents, [and] tides? Our kids are awash in a sea of ubiquitous communications technology, and it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, and adults to be masters in that, and teach them how to swim.”

by Anne Flanagan
Marketing Strategist and Creative Designer,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District 

Promotional Products 101

There are many ways to try to promote your company- good AND bad.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to think of the good promotional items that will get people to buy your product. The article below gives a pretty good explanation of this.  Of course, this all comes down to research (just like any form of marketing) and really studying the demographics of your target market.  Thinking of promotional items that I usually keep instead of pitch includes things that I can use. It’s always good to get a little creative with it and have fun, because that will definitely attract some attention (for example, getting a coconut in the mail).  Good ones that I think people would actually use more than once before tossing it are coffee mugs (like in the article), bottle openers, stress balls, magnets, etc.  T-Shirts are always tricky I think, because most places only give out X-L sizes so people would most likely never wear it in public.

Take a look at the article to make sure the results of your promotional items are as high as possible.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Promotional-Products—Some-Work-Better-Than-Others&id=6539709

By Stefanie LeClair,
Project Coordinator,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District