Tag : strategy

Why Marketing Design Matters ImageWhy Marketing Design Matters

Why Marketing Design Matters

It’s easy to neglect updating the marketing design in your materials. Many times, companies use the same design for their marketing materials and just plug in updated specs and product information.

Over time, it’s easy to fall into complacency and lose that critical eye towards pieces that have been working for you. After all, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Many companies are satisfied as long as the information is correct. Unfortunately, that’s not enough! There are a lot of companies competing for your prospective customers’ attention, and with our shrinking attention spans, individuals are becoming accustomed to making snap judgments. Your product information could be saying you are leading your industry, but your marketing materials may be telling a different story.

Print Materials

Most B2B companies understand the continued need for print materials in their marketing mix, but even those marketing staples have evolved to incorporate updated marketing design. People now spend less time than ever digesting what’s in front of them – about seven seconds! Gone are the days when individuals sit and read large chunks of text they are handed or receive in the mail. It’s all about bullet points, sub headers, and an appealing design.

If you are taking your updated information and plugging it into the same brochure, sell sheet, or postcard template your company has been using for years, your materials likely aren’t as effective as they could be. People have complained about the amount of advertising they are exposed to since 1759, and the advertising clutter continues to grow annually. There are two ways to increase your odds of prospective clients paying attention.

  1. Get to the point. Companies have to assume their materials are only given a cursory glance before a reader decides to put it aside or to delve in and read more. Give your readers the information they are looking for as quickly as possible in a straightforward manner. Provide easy options for them to get more in-depth information, should the want it. Your layout should be easy to follow; colors and font should be crisp and clear.
  2. Get creative. How many postcards and flyers do decision makers receive in year? A month? A day? Make sure yours are standing out and not getting lost in the shuffle. This doesn’t mean gimmicky. Some well-placed images, a less common size, or a memorable and fitting cutout or insert could be all it takes.

Even with a robust print material campaign, most prospective clients will check you out online before calling to make an appointment or purchase. Which leads us to…


Even if you don’t know anything about the technical aspects of websites, you know an outdated website when you use one. It’s hard to navigate, it’s difficult to use on phones, and overall takes a long time to find specific information when you have a question. Companies that continue to have a website that is not “mobile friendly” are immediately creating an unnecessary barrier for prospective clients, since 42% of B2B decision makers use their mobile device for research.

In addition to the mobile friendly aspect, load times and content layout dramatically impact how long a prospective customer stays on your site. In fact, if your load time is more than three seconds, many people could leave your site before ever seeing the content. (Remember that 7 second attention span?) Of course, outdated information is sure to be noticed. As prospective customers gain information on their options, they are sure to check you out online. Make sure they like what they see! Current marketing design practices for websites include ensuring your site is responsive and contains relevant images and videos to further engage prospective clients.

Many companies find themselves stuck with a webmaster who built their site but doesn’t do great updates or are unwilling to keep up with best practices. The task of building a new site can seem daunting and even impossible. That said, it is well worth it to invest in a responsive website that will be easy to update and make changes to in the future. The internet will continue to evolve; if you are already behind, it will only get worse until you make that investment.

Regardless of what industry you are in, the design of your marketing materials matters. Your marketing design is as important as the machinery or materials you use for your products. You wouldn’t go years without considering an update or evaluating best practices, and the same should be said for your marketing efforts.

If you are concerned your marketing materials don’t align with today’s best practices, contact us for a free discovery appointment, where we will evaluate your current materials looking for opportunities – with no commitment from you.

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360 View of ManufacturingThe 360 View of Why Manufacturing Matters

The 360 View of Why Manufacturing Matters

Wisconsin is highly impacted by the manufacturing industry, with many residents employed by manufacturing companies. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsin stands out as one of few states where manufacturing has remained the biggest employer” (1). Events such as Manufacturing Matters, which took place in February, is just one example of how manufacturing is regularly highlighted as a significant part of Wisconsin’s economy. 360 Direct also recognizes how important manufacturing is to this area, and strives to serve the manufacturing industry on a daily basis.

This is why manufacturing matters to 360 Direct:

At 360 Direct, we know that the manufacturing industry needs assistance with regards to marketing. As a company in the Greater Milwaukee area, we understand how imperative Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is to our economy. We also recognize that the Wisconsin manufacturing sector has allowed marketing to sit stagnate with outdated tactics and not engaging the new rules of marketing due to long established regional business relationships and practices that until now, have always seemed to be enough to keep manufacturers growing. Our goal is to help manufacturers become more marketable with current business, prospective business, and the new crop of skilled workers coming out of trade schools and instructional programs, utilizing digital and traditional tools to get there.

When it comes to the manufacturing industry, 360 Direct stands apart from other marketing agencies in regards to how we can help them. Having worked with numerous manufacturing companies before, we have a first hand knowledge and understanding of the industry. 360 Direct also offers education and understanding on strategy and tactical development, to keep our customers in the know. Providing insider knowledge to manufacturers helps them understand why we encourage the use of a specific tactic, which can be just as important as implementing the tactic itself. Additionally, our years of experience in the local manufacturing sector have allowed us to develop tried and tested methods that enhance the reputation and reach of manufacturing companies in Wisconsin. We offer a service that is specifically tooled to help manufacturers profit. Our work is valuable to them because its flexibility generates a custom solution with custom results.

For those not yet ready to work with an agency, 360 Direct does have some quick advice for manufacturing companies considering updating their marketing. First of all, develop strategy before activating tactics. Knowing the what, who, when, where, and why before the how will make activating tactics easier, less stressful, and provide insights into the target audience they may not have known existed. Developing strategy will also help avoid those panic modes of producing a tactic that has poor messaging and may not have been leveraged in the most appropriate of ways. Also, develop a digital presence. This involves becoming active on social media, which has targeted application amongst a wide swath of age groups, and has become increasingly essential for expanding business in growing leads, creating partnerships, and generating one’s own talent pipeline. A digital presence involves having a fully responsive and mobile friendly website that acts as a central hub for any marketing efforts. Not having a website in this day and age incredibly harms a brands reputation, even and especially in “old school” industries like manufacturing. Start with these basic steps and you will be on the right path to improving your marketing.

If you are interested in additional information about growing your manufacturing business, expanding the talent pipeline, and filling the skills gap, contact 360 Direct at 262-289-9210 or fill out our contact form on the contact tab above.



  1. http://archive.jsonline.com/business/as-us-creates-low-wage-jobs-wisconsin-clings-to-manufacturing-b99348747z1-277269841.html


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Lululemon’s Lucrative Layout StrategyLululemon’s Lucrative Layout Strategy

Lululemon’s Lucrative Layout Strategy

According to Wall Street Journal, March 21st issue in 2012, the Canadian retailer Lululemon has higher sales per square foot than Neiman Marcus, while its price to earning ratio is 48. It’s shocking that this yoga gear retail store does profoundly better than other retailers, when having fewer stores than them. So, what’s the marketing magic to Lululemon’s success? The answer points to staying in close contact with its customers and using scarcity to their advantage by having quick life cycles. Instead of following the typical layout strategy other retailers employ such as creating many new stores, offering large discounts and using software to collect customer information, Lulu uses completely different marketing tactics. Lulu stores are relatively small size and focus on fast-moving, short-live styles. Lulu’s layout strategy is to not keep items on the shelves for long. With this in mind, their goal is to sell their merchandise at full price and condition their customers to buy immediately when they see an item, rather than wait or put it on hold. Lululemon is able to keep the store “fresh” by having short week cycles and their aim is to get the product right and keep it scarce. So, is this working? Yes. In December 2012 their hot-pink color “Paris Pink” was launched and was meant to have a two-month life cycle, but rather sold out in its first week. Lulu stores also use a different strategy in creating customer relationships. They spend hours each week observing how their customers shop, while listening to their complaints in order to compile feedback to spruce up the stores and products. On top of this, Lulu trains their employees to listen in on their customers conversations. In order to do this they use strategic placement of their clothes-folding tables by placing them on the sales floor near the fitting rooms rather than in a back room. By doing this, they optimize their ability to react to their customers’ needs. Lululemon’s lucrative layout strategy has proven to be a winning combination for them.

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Reaching more target marketDon’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – Strategic Alliances

Don’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – Strategic Alliances

How do you reach more of your target demographic—the group beyond your current client base? One answer to this question is to form strategic alliances with other businesses.

Strategic alliances can appear in many forms— referrals, supply agreements, joint ventures, co-marketing, and shared production to name a few. Such partnerships benefit your business because they team you up with other businesses that target the same or similar demographics, but don’t offer the same services or products as your business. Strategic alliances open the door for opportunities to increase consumer awareness, gain new customers, and grow your business.

So how do you choose an alliance partner? Identifying a good fit can be difficult because there are several factors that come into play. Determine the appropriate alliance for your business, then seek the best partner or partners for you. For instance, if you make cakes, consider a bridal boutique or a wedding and event planner. If you’re a building contractor or home remodeler, think mortgage brokers and banks. Now that you have candidates for potential alliances, ask the following questions to help determine the best partners.

  • Are your businesses compatible?
  • Are you both going after the same market with a different product or service?
  • Do you share similar values and goals?
  • Is your potential strategic alliance partner someone you can trust?
  • Will you have equal or similar amounts of control in the relationship?
  • Are you capable of working together?

cultivate the relationshipIf the answers to these questions are ‘yes,’ you have most likely found a good alliance partner. You don’t have to completely open the gates and share your entire business and plans; maintaining identity, independence, and important trade secrets are vital to every business. Instead, for example begin to build a business relationship by starting out small with referrals. When you identify a client with a need your alliance partner can meet, refer that client to your alliance partner.

Continue to cultivate this relationship. Doing so puts you in front of more customers within your target. These are your partner’s customers—people that fit your ideal client criteria, but currently aren’t in your customer base. Because you and your partner do not offer the same products or services, you can feel comfortable continuing to refer business back and forth. This is a twofold benefit that grows the customer base for your business and your partner’s, while simultaneously providing those customers with trustworthy resources to meet multiple needs.

Once you’ve been working together for some time (strategic alliances can often take a year or more to build) and you’ve established a solid, trustworthy business relationship, you can continue building upon that foundation.

For example, strategic alliances create opportunities for some businesses and their partners to offer informational seminars. These seminars place you face-to-face with more of your combined customer base. Seminars also allow you to speak directly to a targeted, relevant group about what you offer, and the benefits your product or service can provide. Providing such valuable information establishes you as the expert in your field, making customers more likely to visit your business and refer others when needs for your services or products arise.

As with any relationship, it is important to evaluate your strategic alliances continually. Perhaps your alliance is only for the short term. If a long-term partnership is what you have in mind, open communication is important. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page, that your goals are in line, and that you still share the same values. Doing so will ensure you have a flourishing, lasting, and mutually beneficial strategic alliance.


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Strategize-like-spidersStrategize Like Spiders

Strategize Like Spiders

Spiders are some of the most intelligent creepy crawlers around. Though their intimidating fangs and many eyes can give them a bad reputation, they’re actually fascinating creatures that help control pests like mosquitoes, making the outdoors a whole lot more habitable for humans.

Known scientifically as araneae, spiders are master strategists when it comes to catching their next meal. Not all spiders make webs, but they all use strategy. For web-building spiders, they begin with a basic Y-shaped structure, and construct what scientists call frame threads. Just like a marketing strategy, this structure ensures that the entire web is sound before the spider even attempts to catch its prey. Next, the spider builds a non-sticky auxiliary spiral, which helps them test out where they want their critter-catching strands to go. Then they lay down the sticky strand all along the auxiliary spiral guide, finishing the web.

At 360 Direct, we’ve gotten past the fangs, and aren’t afraid to take some pointers from these eight-legged strategists. Spider web building is actually a great way to understand the importance of marketing strategy. Our team of marketers builds a basic marketing strategy first, then moves to test and measure that strategy before locking in tactics to an overall marketing plan, just like a spider builds frame threads and auxiliary spirals, before laying down the sticky threads.

Brown-SpiderSpiders are an intrinsic part of a healthy environment, and growing, community-minded businesses keep our economic ecosystem flourishing too. Our team of strategists wants to help build communities and healthy businesses right along with you.

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The Video “Hook” and Why You Need ItThe Video “Hook” and Why You Need It

The Video “Hook” and Why You Need It

Recently, I attended a business presentation on Videos being the new “Hook” and it got me thinking. If using video is “new”, then how come it’s been used to drive engagement for over a decade? Because it’s only recently that sharp marketers have begun to use it to their competitive advantage. The lyrics from “Hook” by Blues Traveler, a song near and dear to my heart, were used to describe what marketers try to answer everyday. How can videos be used as a company’s “Hook?”

“Because the hook brings you back
I ain’t tellin’ you no lie
The hook brings you back
On that you can rely”

Videos are rapidly replacing text as the content strategy driving online engagement. Videos keep people on sites longer, have higher conversion rates and increase search rankings. According to HubSpot, using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% with a whopping 65% increase in click-through rates.

But wait, there’s more. As a matter of fact, the statistical backing for why companies should use videos to increase engagement and get higher ROI’s keeps pouring in:

  • By 2017 2/3rds of information sharing will be done in video form.
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube according to a Google spokesperson.
  • Sites that include video have on average an extra 2 minutes of dwell time compared to those that don’t.
  • 52% of marketers name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

So what can companies do with that information? They can use it to inform and add to marketing ideas, like the following:

  • Client Testimonials
  • Website leverage
  • Virtual tour of your company
  • Product demos
  • Company culture

These are standard, tried and true aspects of marketing, but adding video enables them to be more effective in a perpetually digital space. If building your own video marketing strategy seems like a daunting task, contact us to learn how we can help.


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gameplanThe Marketing Power of Patience

The Marketing Power of Patience

When you think of the Green Bay Packers what comes to mind? 2014 NFL MVP, 13-time world champions, or maybe even 23 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Whichever one you think of, it is important to realize that none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for patience on behalf of the players and coaches. The players had to dedicate themselves to excellence by developing their speed, strength, and precision. The coaches had to discover which plays and defensive strategies worked the best.

Similar to how the Green Bay Packers had to be patient when waiting for positive results, seeing success from marketing also takes patience. There are certain steps that need to be taken in order to improve a company’s marketing strategies. Change does not happen overnight, but the best marketing results happen when specific planning and implementation have occurred over a  certain period of time.

Each business is different with how it needs to be marketed to its audience. You wouldn’t give out the same workout plan to Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, so why would you expect different businesses to have the same marketing plan? Each business needs a marketing plan tailored specifically for them, meaning that each marketing plan will take a different amount of time. No matter what the strategy, marketing ultimately takes patience in order to see a significant improvement to your company.

For more information on marketing, contact 360 Direct at 262-289-9210 or fill out our contact form here.

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Do-it-yourself-marketingDIY Marketing

DIY Marketing

Would you cut your own hair? Fill your own cavity? Replace the water pump in your car? There are people who are capable, not me for one.

YouTube is one of the culprits promoting an age of do-it-yourselfers. Although, I could watch a video or two on YouTube and attempt to replace a water pump, I know it would be a bad idea. The result would not be the same had I taken it to a mechanic. Having a professional do the job would be the most sure way of knowing I will be driving my car to work the next day.

For some, it is essential to hire a marketing agency. Whereas others consider it acceptable to have the high school kid next door work on their business’ website. Many people build their own website, but can they navigate the sea of SEO? Do they have the time (+ or -20 hours per week according to Google) for the monthly upkeep of a website (along with social media tools.) Does the neighbor know the strategy and what keywords will work this month, and knowing what Google feels is of importance (as this changes every day)? DIY marketing is not the way forward.

Using a professional service for almost anything tends to get you the best outcome, the best solution to a problem. Professionals, no matter what the service, engross themselves in their craft and are the best suited to help. Investing in people who know, really know, how to make the most of what marketing you have in place (or need to have in place) is as important as investing in a mechanics’ skill to ensure you will move forward. Save the do-it-yourselfing for fun projects; not the essential elements that drive your business.

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5 Free Tips to Build an Online Community5 Free Tips to Build an Online Community

5 Free Tips to Build an Online Community

As the ancient Greeks are to being one of the largest contributors to present-day civilization, social media is to building an online community. And it is not going away anytime soon.

It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you:

• Have no interest being on Facebook
• Believe social media is not useful to obtain leads

• Think your customers aren’t on social media

Not to worry. This blog may change your mind.

5 tips to build (and justify building) an online community for your business:

1. An online community helps build value to your business – having quality information on your website, or adding informational posts on your LinkedIn page gives something of equity to potential and existing customers.

2. Show your ‘usp’ – stand out from the competition with your unique selling point and create a community that supports and virally promotes your usp by posting related topics.

3. Make community building part of your strategy and goals – write a blog every week about a subject your customers want to read about. It helps keep you working on and not in your business.

4. Continue to set new goals – commit to giving a new social media tool at try, like LinkedIn or Pinterest. This will encourage trying and testing new marketing tools in this digital age.

5. Show that your business is modern and current – be the thought leader. Communities like to know that they have the best and most up-to-date information.

Would you be interested in learning more about how to build an online community, or interested in having someone do the work for you?

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target-with-people-620x350-539x350Target Customers with a Limited Budget

Target Customers with a Limited Budget

Do you say, “my target customer is Everybody”? Realize, “you can’t boil the ocean.” In other words, there are limitations to everything, and budget is a big limiting factor to finding your target customers.

Targeting potential customers, in general, without details and specifics, works great if you have an unlimited budget. By defining your best customer and focusing on more specific details such as demographics, behaviors, and truly understanding the needs and wants of your customer is much more efficient and cost effective. Further define who is not your customer, as the non-ideal customer can be a drain on resources. Realizing that not everyone has the potential of becoming a customer leads into profiling the characteristics and interests of those who are. This is the group who are good long term frequent buyer customers.

Know that customer. Know them well. Knowing what is important to them, and knowing their common interests goes hand-in-hand with why they are, or why they will be your best customer. Your company having ties in the same community, for example, can lead to relationship building and trust. The feeling of connection with your customer often goes further than the message of advertising the ‘lowest price’. Emotion plays a huge part, and you are not going to bond with everyone.

Make the best use of your marketing budget. Spend the time to really know who your customer is, and then focus on them. A smart strategy can attract your new best customer versus wasting time trying  to ‘boil the ocean’ to get everyone as your customer.

Would you like to learn more about defining your target customers?

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