Wednesday, January 17, 2018

5 Print Marketing Trends For 2018

While we’re all fast at work keeping up with today’s click-through, digital-driven pace, the print industry is experiencing a quiet revival. Perhaps that resurgence is because of its perceived value: A tangible printed piece like a brochure (or ad, or sign…) makes a memorable brand connection with an audience while offering a shelf life that far outlasts a typical social media scroll.

The latest statistics show that expected growth for commercial printing is 1.5% - 3% in 2018, with sales expected to total $84 billion–that’s 9.1% above 2011. That growth is slated to continue through 2024.

This year, Shamrock celebrates 35 years as a print and marketing solutions provider. We’ve grown and diversified along with the advent of digital technology, understanding that there’s not only room for both in your marketing arsenal—but that incorporating both digital channels and tactile touches is essential to success: Print is an important part of a balanced, integrated marketing strategy.

Here are five print marketing trends to consider implementing as part of your marketing effort this year:

Personalization. Customized content creates unique value—and greater relevance. Personalization used to be a novelty; but today, people expect products and services to be adapted and relevant to them: The more you connect with your audience through personalization, the more resistance is dropped. Making a personalized connection increases customer engagement with your brand.

Print & digital integration. Blending online and offline channels as part of an integrated marketing strategy is the key to driving higher conversion rates and making lasting brand impressions. Use your print media to link your audience back to your blog, a landing page, an exclusive video, website or to one of social media channels.

Custom/unique coupon codes. Using a unique coupon is a smart strategy for not only increasing customer engagement but also in gathering personal data about your target audience. Unique coupon codes generate higher ROI than generic coupon codes because they cannot be shared or reproduced—they are aimed at an individual, which creates a more personal connection and an exclusive feel.

Color. According to Pantone, color in 2018 will go bolder—a proven way to make a statement with your audience: Pantone also predicts continued print marketing trends in iridescent color palettes and a move away from pastels. Color evokes emotion, can change a mood and helps tell your brand story—which will you choose to share your brand narrative?

Texture. A study from the University of Iowa found that haptic (touch) memory is the type of memory that has the strongest impact on the human brain. The physical act of holding something makes a stronger connection with the audiences. And so, using print media engages our haptic memory, creating lasting brand awareness. Adding glosses, raised ink, embossing, matte finishes—these create interesting texture for even greater brand connections.

Which of these print marketing trends will you embrace this year? I’m interested in your feedback.

Tim Connor

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shamrock Named to the Print + Promo Top 50 Distributors for 2017

The industry magazine Print + Promo released its annual rankings recognizing the highest-performing distributors based on print sales for fiscal year 2017—and The Shamrock Companies came in at #11. Here’s an excerpt from the Print + Promo website:

“The list, which serves as a barometer for industry health, offers insight into how external factors, like mergers and acquisitions, the economy and political climate, influence print volume among print resellers. For our 2017 Top 50 Distributors list, we evaluated more than 70 companies, totaling $3.50 billion—the distributor segment’s best showing since 2008. We also asked distributors to report how much business they do in major product categories, including printed forms, labels & tags, commercial printing, direct mail, promotional products and more.”

The industry resource reported that among the Top 50 companies…

Promotional products are driving sales revenue: There was an increase in sales for six of nine product categories, with promotional products taking the No. 1 spot due to a $384 million increase in revenue compared to 2016.

We’re in good company in Ohio: In all, 22 U.S. states were headquarters to at least one print distributor on the list. Ohio was the winner with seven Top 50 distributors.

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

On behalf of our entire team at Shamrock, we’re proud to be recognized among the industry’s top distributors and thank our clients, suppliers and vendor partners for sharing in that success.

Here’s to moving on up in 2018!

Tim Connor

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

6 TED Talks to Help You Reach Your Goals in 2018

It’s time for a new beginning, to embark on the journey of a new year filled with opportunities. Whether you’re a person who makes New Year’s resolutions or sets performance goals for yourself and/or your business, it’s nice to have some extra motivation and guidance to help you stay the course.

We found a list of six TED talks compiled by The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center that offers advice on goal-setting and how to follow through on the actions needed to achieve your goals and dreams:

1) Try Something New for 30 Days by Matt Cutts
In this three-minute TED Talk, the speaker shows how small steps can lead to big adventures. Inviting activity into your life seems to lead to a richer experience.
2) 5 Ways to Kill Your Dreams by Bel Pesce
In this six-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares five lines of thought that will keep you from reaching your goals, and she also emphasizes the significance of the journey.

3) Four Keys for Setting and Achieving Goals by William Barr
In this eight-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how he was able to build one of the nation’s largest home improvement companies.

4) If You Want to Achieve Your Goals, Don’t Focus on Them by Reggie Rivers
In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how focusing on the goals can actually prevent you from achieving your goals. By focusing on your behaviors, you will be more driven to follow through.

5) The Key to Success? Grit by Angela Lee Duckworth
In this 6-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how grit is a key ingredient for success. She encourages the audience to live life as a marathon and not a sprint.
6) The Power of Believing That You Can Improve by Carol Dweck
In this 11-minute TED Talk, the speaker shares how adopting a growth mindset can open you up to greater success. She encourages the audience to see a challenge as a “yet” opportunity.

The fresh start of a new year offers a host of exciting new opportunities, changes and challenges. With the help of these resources, we hope you’ll be making the very most of 2018. Always, we welcome your input: If you have other TED talks to add to this list, please connect with Shamrock on Facebook.

Good luck—and happy new year!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017: The Year In Review

At Shamrock, we’re closing out 2017 in much the same way that we embraced the new year: With humility. In a year where politics dominated the headlines—and divided people—we focused on the things that brought us closer together: Doing good.

We are fortunate at Shamrock to have a strong community involvement effort that is led by passionate people who choose to dedicate their time and effort to helping those in need. The result is a very powerful and humbling experience. During the past 12 months, our team at Shamrock has volunteered, raised funds, championed causes, and donated goods and services for a host of organizations, sending a ripple effect of love and strength throughout our communities and well beyond.

A few of the organizations that we’ve supported in 2017 include The Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, Our Lady of the Wayside, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Hospice of Michigan, Goodwill, Contra Costa Food Bank, Essilor Vision Foundation, as well as local families through our annual giving tree.
For more than 30 years, Shamrock has focused on serving our clients first by providing greater value—and always, we’ve led with generosity. As this year comes to a close and we reevaluate our performance over the past 12 months, this is
an area of our company that definitely over-performed. It’s a success that makes us all proud. 

Our year in pictures features highlights from some of those charitable events and campaigns. Thank you to our clients, vendors and colleagues who helped to make these efforts such a fabulous success: We couldn’t do it without you. 

Wishing you and yours all the best for a happy, healthy 2018!

Tim Connor

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Food packaging trends for 2018

Do you read nutritional food labels? I do. And according to a survey by the Food and Drug Administration, I’m not alone: Half of all adults read the nutrition facts label “always” or “most of the time,” according to the latest FDA Health and Diet Survey.

There is a packaging trend that tracks with that push for more accessible nutritional information: Clean food labeling is among the trends we’ll see in the packaging industry in the year ahead. At Shamrock, we watch those indicators closely, as we create labeling for our clients for use in a host of applications—product labels, specialty packaging, displays and shelf signage, to name a few.   

A recent article by David Roberge of Industrial Packaging outlines the top predictions for food packaging in 2018. Here is a summary:

1. Light and Flexible Packaging
The flexible packaging market is growing across the globe due to the many benefits and flexibility it provides including recyclability and lightweight protection for all types of packaged goods: The lighter the package, the lighter the load, which can significantly reduce freight costs.

2. Clean Labeling and Healthy Foods
More consumers today want to understand ingredients on food labels: Roberge quotes Charles D. Yuska, President and CEO of PMMI, who notes that “37% of U.S. consumers find it important to understand ingredients on food labels while 91% of consumers believe that products with recognizable ingredients are healthier; and the rise in demand for organic food has fueled a more than 10% growth in this sector.”

Here’s a great example of that trend in action: RXBAR, a line of clean-label protein bars made with whole food ingredients—and the fastest growing nutrition bar brand in the United States—boldly lists its ingredients on the front of the packaging. Kellogg recently bought the brand for $600 million, with the deal set to close by the end of this month.

3. Understand Labeling Requirements
In addition to clean labeling, 2018 is the year for the transition to new FDA nutritional labeling regulations for foods. Understanding these requirements is a must. Know the nutritional content for the ingredients in your food product, the serving size, expiration dates and the placement requirements for your package. For more information, click on the link below:

4. Creative Package Designs
With the growing demand for customization as the online sales of consumer goods increases, the need for creative packaging is increasing as well. Using customized shapes for packaging to complement a flavor or product; or introducing a re-usable package are great ways to make a lasting brand impression on consumers.

Think about what packaging elements have left an impression on you—and then consider your brand labeling and packaging and how you can enhance its appeal. Our creative design team at Shamrock is here to provide our input and expertise.

Connect with us today if you’re interested in re-thinking your packaging as we look to the new year.

All the best,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Setting Goals for Business Success in 2018

I’m a big believer in the power of planning. It’s that time of year again when many of us look back at our progress over the past 12 months, reassess our path, and develop a plan for making the most of the year ahead.

A recent article in Inc. magazine by Aha! CEO Brian de Haaff talks about the use of planning to achieve success in business. Here’s what he says: “Successful people take a methodical approach to setting career goals. It starts with defining what ‘success’ means to them, then building a career roadmap to achieve that vision.”

It all starts with a plan that defines where you want to go. de Haaff suggests that you come up with a career sentence—the overarching vision for your professional life. “Your sentence could be specific, such as ‘Help build software that changes the way people interact with their doctors.’” Or it could be more wide-sweeping, like “Provide world-class customer service.” Once you’ve set your destination, you can focus on the goals that will get you there.

Here are de Haaff’s five steps to setting career goals:
1. Make it real. Making measurable career goals and setting success metrics will help ensure that your career roadmap is realistic. With those benchmarks in place, you can track your progress in a meaningful way.
2. Push yourself. Your career roadmap should be a challenge, not a cakewalk. If your goals don’t make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, then it’s time to set your sights higher. Push yourself in your overall vision and in the tasks that will carry you there.

3. Write it down. Research shows that people who write down their goals are significantly more likely to achieve them. One of the many benefits is that it forces you to think through what you want to achieve in a concrete way. If you have a hard time finding the words to explain your goal in a sentence or two, you probably have not thought it through.

4. Share your plan. Another benefit of writing down your goals is that it makes it easier to share them. Once you’ve told your friends and colleagues about your goals, you will feel a sense of disappointment if you do not follow through. Accountability is a great motivator.

Credit: Getty Images
5. Visualize your success. A common practice of high achievers is visualizing success. Sports psychologists teach elite athletes to picture themselves connecting with the fastball, kicking the field goal, sinking the putt. You can do the same with your long-term career goals and the efforts that will get you there. Use positive visualization to motivate yourself to work harder.

Read the Inc. article by clicking the link below:

Take the first step in driving success in 2018 by creating your career sentence and then setting your goals. After that, it is all about commitment and follow-through. Establishing a set schedule to monitor your progress, whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, will help get you there.

If you’re looking for someone to share your goals with and hold you accountable, connect with me and I’ll do the same.

Good luck!
Bob DeGarmo 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tips to Maximize Social Media During the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us: The ideal time to revisit your year-end social media strategy to make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to make memorable brand connections with your audience. This article (reprinted in its entirety) from MarketingProfs Today is a good read that outlines seven tips for reviewing and recalibrating your social media effort during this most wonderful time of the year: 

Seven Ways to Maximize Social Media This Holiday Season
by Paul Herman  | 
November 21, 2017

It's a familiar feeling—retailers are breaking out the Christmas deals and decorations. It's time for the holidays, and that means busy times are ahead for advertisers and marketers launching new sales and promotions.

But, beyond that, advertisers and retailers have a huge opportunity on social media, with holiday campaigns on Twitter alone generating $6.67 for every $1 spent by advertisers last year.

Being prepared to conquer the holiday rush is a huge advantage, but some brands can easily fall behind before the holiday spirit even hits us. Stay ahead of the competition with the following seven key steps.

1. Define your holiday wish list
The first step for launching any successful ad campaign is to define a set of goals. Every holiday campaign should be built around these two simple questions: What actions do you want your customers/prospects to take, and how will your social strategy help?

Goals can be wide-ranging, from lead generation and driving sales, to boosting brand awareness among a specific target audience. Brands that want to generate leads might launch ads that invite customers to submit their emails in exchange for more content or company information. For the goal of increasing sales on a website, ads can be specially designed to include links to holiday catalogs or special offers.

When such goals are in place, being able to measure success or evaluate a campaign's performance is just as important. Key metrics for marketers looking to improve brand awareness may include social shares, likes, comments, and call-to-action clickthroughs.

Successful brands will set specific, measurable goals for improvement. If a retailer has 100,000 Twitter followers, perhaps its goal might be to increase that number to 120,000 by the end of the holiday season. Regardless of the goal, if it is measurable and clear, it gives the brand something to chase and an ultimate purpose for the campaign.

2. Know the people on your Nice list
Understanding the customer journey is crucial to optimizing a campaign. Brands should create a buyer persona for their key consumer base, outlining who the customers are, what matters to them, where they go to make purchase decisions, and who influences them. Being able to document where they spend their time online, which social channels they use most, and what they're reading or watching on those channels is a huge plus. Finding that crucial information is fairly easy to do, thanks to modern-day marketing tools and resources.

By better understanding an audience, marketers can figure out how to reach them, which is often the biggest hurdle in building a successful campaign. After all, content may be king for the holidays, but context is queen—and they work best in tandem.

3. Listen to your audience (not just sleigh bells)
Social media doesn't exist just to spread a brand message, it's also an important medium for listening. Through social listening, marketers can identify major trends and product keywords in their industries. For instance, knowing those keywords can help marketers identify which social platforms are more popular for a target audience. With that information, they can make smarter decisions about where to spend their money and which products or services to promote on each platform.

Once they have made that decision, retailers can use social to monitor the conversation about its product or services, or one of a competitor's. What are they happy about? What makes them frustrated? What types of things are they looking for? The more a marketer knows about his or her audience, the better and more effective a message will ultimately be.

4. Give the gift of relevance
When you're giving a present, you make sure that gift is a match for the recipient's likes or needs. In social advertising, adding geo-targeting to your campaigns is like that: It makes your ad more likely to be relevant. There are also opportunities to target users by age, gender and interests so that your message reaches the people who want to hear it.

For example, if a marketer is looking to target Facebook users age 18-35 who are interested in fashion, a campaign can easily do just that. Targeting not only provides a way to reach specific audiences but also makes the most out of crucial ad dollars.

5. Be a Secret Santa (but don't be creepy about it)
Shoppers take their time before buying a product and will often browse a bit before taking a break and returning to the website later on. That behavior makes remaining top of mind a huge challenge for brands, and it's where retargeting comes into play.

For example, Best Buy launches ads that ask customers whether they're ready to check out the items in their shopping cart. Even after people have made purchases, Best Buy shows ads with complementary products they might be interested in.

This method can be effective, but also has its limits. Marketers need to make sure messages naturally fit into the content consumers are already reading online.

6. Surprise and delight
Surprise-and-delight tactics are used to nurture a customer relationship through unique experiences that will stay with the customer long after the promotion has ended. These types of tactics are so unique that they're most likely to be shared—and what people share drives what people buy. Today, sharing is the new commerce.

For example, last year, during the holiday season, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines surprised and delighted customers in Amsterdam. Realizing that many holiday travelers spend their transfer time at the airport alone, KLM decided to surprise its customers with a "Bonding Buffet." Travelers sat down on stools around a KLM tower in the airport. Once the stools were filled, a literal buffet of food came down from the top of the tower:

That thoughtful gesture, which drove ample positive attention on social, highlighted the spirit of the holidays and brought travelers together for a uniquely memorable time at the airport.

7. Don't be afraid to start new holiday traditions
In the hectic world of social marketing during the holiday season, brands should not limit themselves to just one type of content. Customers can experience fatigue if they receive similar content from the same source; when the volume of messages rapidly increases during the holidays, that type of fatigue needs to be avoided.

One way to change it up is video ads. Often, videos work as an experiment for marketers, and there is no clear strategy or path to success. When that's the case, A/B-testing different options is a great approach to optimize a campaign based on audience response.

Video advertising on social is still a relatively new tactic, and it gives marketers a lot of creative room to develop out-of-the-box concepts.

Use social to make it a happy holiday season

There is no one way to use social media to grow a brand's holiday presence, but keeping these lucky seven approaches in mind can make all the difference between ending the year on a solid note and missing out on a huge opportunity.

Happy Holidays!