Always Have a Backup Plan

This past Sunday we watched two fierce teams compete for the most important game of the year. Weeks and months of planning and preparing led up to the big game and yet who could possibly have predicted that it would all come down to the last minutes of the game and then lead into overtime?

We’ve discussed it before but it’s always good to have a backup plan. Expect the unexpected. Both in competitive sports and in business. If you don’t have one that’s ok. This is the perfect time to put one together. Before you need it.

The first step is to think about what types of contingencies you are going to prepare for. To come up with some worst-case scenarios that could affect your business, gather some staff members together and start brainstorming. Begin each statement with “What would we do if?” and then start throwing out possible situations. The problems you discuss don’t have to be massive like a transit strike or a crippling blizzard to be disruptive. Mindtools.com offers up scenarios such as: “What if your main supplier suddenly goes bankrupt? Or, your entire sales force gets food poisoning at the annual sales conference? Or, your payroll clerk calls in sick on payroll day?

“These things can all cause confusion and disorder if you haven’t prepared for them properly. Contingency planning is a key part of this preparation. As you can see, contingency planning is not just about major disasters. On a smaller scale, it’s about preparing for events such as the loss of data, people, customers, and suppliers, and other disruptive unknowns. That’s why it’s important to make contingency planning a normal part of the way your business works.”

To quote Lady Gaga, this year’s memorable Halftime performer, “You tell me hold your head up, Hold your head up and be strong, ‘Cause when you fall, you gotta get up, You gotta get up and move on.”

While the sun is shining and everyone is calm, go ahead and think the worst. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Three Business Lessons We Can Learn from the Super Bowl

It’s Super Bowl Week and the big game is just a few days away. Regardless of whether your team is playing in Houston or not this weekend, we can all learn some important business lessons from how the teams prepare for the big day.

First of all, it’s all about preparation. The players won’t walk on to the field without extensive and thorough planning and preparation. Learn from them. If you’ve got a big presentation coming up, you too need to plan and prepare. Know what you’re going to say and do but also be prepared for the unexpected.

Which brings us to lesson number two. Always have a contingency plan in place. The Falcons don’t know what tricks the Patriots may have up their sleeves, but you’d better believe they’ve run through scenario after scenario and have prepared different game plans depending on what comes at them. So too, you should not just have your prepared answers in place. From your slide presentation not being loaded onto the laptop to the exhibit not making it to the tradeshow hall, have a backup plan in place.

Finally, to quote Ron Jaworski, NFL analyst and former American football quarterback, “Positive thinking is the key to success in business, education, pro football, anything that you can mention. I go out there thinking that I’m going to complete every pass.” Believe in yourself, your teammates and your abilities and you’ll succeed.

Fun and Work Do Go in the Same Sentence

 It’s nearly the end of the first month of the New Year and you feel like you need a break? You’re in luck. Saturday is National Fun at Work Day. No, we’re not making that up; it’s a real thing, observed each year on the 28th of January. But since it falls on a Saturday this year many companies are observing it on Friday. If they observe it at all.

No, this is not a joke, but feel free to make some on Friday. Really, can you think of a better day to make jokes than a day with fun in its name? Why do we need a day like this? According to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher, authors of The Levity Effect: Why It Pays to Lighten Up, “If people are having fun, they’re going to work harder, stay longer, maintain their composure in a crisis and take better care of the organization.”

But wait, there’s more. According to Dave Hemseth and Leslie Yerkes, co-authors of 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work, “Organizations that integrate fun into work have lower levels of absenteeism, greater job satisfaction, increased productivity, and less downtime.”

Think about that and then see if maybe you want to make a few changes at work. Obviously you still need to accomplish your business goals but maybe you can make it a little more fun for everyone while doing so.

If you’re finding out a little too late to formally do anything tomorrow to celebrate, you’re in luck. Sunday is International Fun at Work Day.

 

 

 

The Calendar is a Valuable Tool in Lifecycle Marketing

As hard as it may be to believe, New Year’s is but a memory and holiday-laden February is just ahead. Are you using the calendar to inspire your Lifecycle Marketing Campaign? In February alone we will celebrate Groundhog Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Black History Month and American Heart Month. Each of these holidays and observances lends itself to some type of communication from you and even if you don’t have anything specific to share, each is a great excuse to be in touch with your customers.

Here are three reasons it’s important to maintain a Lifecycle Marketing Campaign (or launch one if you don’t already have one in place).

  1. Every time you send an invoice or bill to your customer, you’ve opened the door to a one-on-one conversation. Take advantage of it. Transactional documents are open and read 97% of the time according to InfoTrends. That makes your monthly invoice or statement the perfect place to include a targeted message because it’s almost guaranteed to be read.
  2. It’s easy. Simply put it’s delivering the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, to the right customer. But you think you’re too small a company to implement or maintain a Lifecycle Marketing Campaign?  No you’re not. All it takes is some time and effort and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll get in return.
  3. You already have these customers on board. You want to keep them, right? Use the calendar as a way to stay in touch with them throughout the year. Pick any of the upcoming holidays and give your customers a reason to celebrate. Don’t feel like using the calendar. How about sending out a survey to get customer input? Since part of the reason you’re staying in touch is to keep them, it’s good to know how they feel about your company and if you’re meeting their expectations.

From welcome postcards to calendar inserts to win-back programs, lifecycle marketing can help you grow and nurture long-term relationships with your customers.

 

 

 

Win Back Customers with WinBack Programs

Sometimes, for any number of reasons, a customer stops being active and may even go elsewhere. Here’s some encouraging news, the odds of bringing that customer back are quite good. In fact, the chances of converting a lost customer are usually much better than your chances of converting a new one. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. And according to the White House of Consumer Affairs, it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

That’s why a WinBack Program is a critical tool to ongoing success. Through a series of strategically positioned campaigns that include letters, postcards and eblasts, you can get in front of prior customers, get their attention and strategically pique their interest.

Not sure how to begin? The OSG Creative Studio has a team of marketing experts with extensive experience in implementing successful WinBack Programs. Speak with your Account Manager about how to launch one. It’s never too late for customers to come back.

Postal Rates to Increase in 2017

 As your print and mail authority, we wanted to let you know that the Postal Rate Commission has approved some United States Postal Service (USPS) rate and structural changes. For the first time in several years the USPS has requested rate increases for both its competitive (packages and overnight shipments) and market dominant products (letters and flats). The new rates will go into effect Sunday, January 22, 2017.

This increase represents a 2 cent increase to First-Class Mail, raising the price from 47 cents to 49 cents. The good news for commercial mailers is that the price of letter mail will be the same from 1 ounce to 3.5 ounces, with rates as low as .373 for letters presorted into a five-digit tray. Additionally, the price of Postcards, International Letters and First-Class Letter additional ounces will also stay the same.

There will also be an average 3.9 percent increase on Priority Mail and an average increase of 3.3 percent in Priority Mail Retail prices, which means about a 20-50 cent increase depending on the item. Automated commercial marketing mail will only be increased by one price up to 3.9 ounces.

The new prices do not include any Shipping Services price increases for First-Class Package International Service, Priority Mail Express International and Priority Mail International. The changes do benefit PC Postage and postage meter users with a .5 cent savings.

The USPS is rebranding Standard Mail which will now be known as USPS Marketing Mail. The only immediate impact of this name change is the name listed on USPS forms and postage statements. As always, we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

In anticipation of the increase, now might be a good time to clean up your mailing lists, look at bad address reports and add an Address Service Requested line to your mailings if you don’t already include one.

If you have any questions about this upcoming change, please don’t hesitate to contact an OSG account manager.

You Can Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again – when we’re all in optimistic moods and positive cheer in the midst of the holiday season – to plan our resolutions for the upcoming year. Not only do we want to make ourselves into better people, but also into better workers and co-workers. So let’s make a list of achievable goals that can help with our job satisfaction and the satisfaction of those working around us:

Clean out your email inbox.

Email is great, but the inbox needs some maintaining or the emails just pile up and overload your mind. Start off the new year by organizing and cleaning out junk emails. Make folders for the “must respond by tomorrow” emails and emails that you only need to read when you have time. An organized inbox reflects an organized you.

Commit to personal development and learning.

Let’s admit it; even the best professionals have room for improvement in their field. Today’s business world moves fast. Keep up with the latest technology and most relevant topics in your field by taking an online course or going to your local community college. Even reading blogs, books and visiting websites on a regular basis about your industry can be beneficial.

Realize you’re only human. 

We all make mistakes. Even the best of us. So if you do make a mistake at work, acknowledge it, do what you can to rectify the situation and then, to quote “Frozen,” let it go. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t have the need for a resolutions list…

Say “thank you” more often.

Whether it’s your customers or co-workers make a commitment to thank people for all they do. Has someone at work made your life easier, been pleasant to deal with or has a customer or vendor gone out of their way to help you? Remember to say thank you. Emails, a personal note or doing something special not only shows people you appreciate them but also makes you feel good too.

Happy New Year from your friends at OSG!

 

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