Creating Realistic Project Deadlines
When you start a new print project, you want to hit your deadlines, keep your sanity, and make your customers happy. Fortunately, the right amount of planning will make sure that you keep your sanity and your clients.
For your audience to receive the printed piece on time, ask yourself the following questions:
- When do you want your audience to receive the piece?
- Who will be writing the text, and how long will it take to produce it?
- Who will be producing the artwork, and how long will it take to produce it?
- Who will be doing the design and production work, and how long will that take?
- How long will it take to print, finish, and mail the piece?
The first answer provides your end date. Once you have that, you can work backwards, adding the rest of the time estimates together to determine your start date. Pad each time estimate by a factor of 1.5 to 3 times depending on your confidence in the numbers. Write down these time estimates to create the project plan.
Once the project is complete, do a post-mortem on your estimates. Did you pretty much stay on schedule all the way to your deadline? If not, where did you get bogged down? Were the bottlenecks one-time occurrences or were they related to factors inherent in the process? If the latter, you may need to adjust your fudge factor to achieve a more realistic time estimate next time.
Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes. Along the way, you inevitably learned something, such as when your creative staff says, “It takes us one day to turn around the proof of concept,” they meant two days, or that you forgot to take into account transportation time when you made your project plan. If you add these facts to your next project plan, you will “gain from the pain” by learning from these experiences.
Three Ideas for Customer Acquisition
These days, the name of the game is customer acquisition. According to a recent media usage survey*, marketers are more focused on customer acquisition than they have been in the past. Although marketers are still investing in customer retention, higher percentages are planning to increase their budgets for customer acquisition this year.
According to the survey...
• 45% of B2B marketers plan to increase their acquisition budgets; only 30% plan to increase their retention budgets.
• 42% of B2C marketers plan to increase their acquisition budgets; only 34% plan to increase their retention budgets.
Your competitors are becoming more proactive and strategic in their customer acquisition efforts. Are you? If so, how do you plan to stand out from everyone else? How do you plan to compete? Here are three proven strategies for snatching attention from competitors.
1. Use dimensional mail.
In a stack of envelopes, a padded envelope, a package, or some other three-dimensional mailer gets attention. Usually, these are opened first. While dimensional mailers cost more to produce, they get response rates that make marketers’ mouths water. According to the Direct Marketing Association, dimensional mailers receive response rates that are 200% – 300% higher than flat mailers. So when your marketing ideas take shape, make it a literal shape!
2. Try out unusual finishes, folds, and bindings.
Tangible elements are what make the print channel stand out. Consider using some of the many spot coatings, textured coatings, die cuts, pop-outs, and fold-outs that your customers don’t see every day. If you have been meaning to investigate fresh, new options and still haven’t had an excuse to do it, now you have one.
3. Try new mailing formats.
Not all mailing formats are created equal. There are many different formats available: postcards, folded mailers, mailers placed into envelopes, envelopes that are personalized, envelopes that are not personalized, window envelopes. Envelopes and mailers can be different sizes, thicknesses, and colors. Experiment with colored substrates, clear envelopes, and on-envelope personalization.
It’s time to get noticed! If you need some ideas or want to test new formats, substrates, and finishing options, just ask. We can help.
*Target Marketing “2014 Media Usage Survey”