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Consistency Is the Key to Good Marketing

by Kevin Ackerman, Staples® Contributing Writer

Despite your business’s best efforts to stay on point, your marketing will change over time — and it should. For instance, maybe your customer-facing voice and tone will evolve. Maybe the fonts and colors you used to build your business’s identity will vary. Or, as you’ve adapted to trends in the ever-changing world of social media, maybe you’ll forget your message altogether.

Stay on topic and maintain your voice and identity across various marketing channels with these four tips aimed at creating and reinforcing consistency.

Create Marketing Checklists

One way to make sure you have everything covered is to create a checklist that includes both assets and messaging, and periodically tick off the items. This will help ensure you include key elements in a particular campaign or marketing piece and that the materials you use in your ongoing offline marketing efforts, like business cards and envelopes, are up to date.

A marketing materials checklist can double as both an inventory sheet and insurance that your collateral won’t run adrift in its design or production. And by creating or updating all your pieces at the same time and place — like at a Staples® Copy & Print Services location — you can be certain everything will have the same look and feel.

Think Ahead

Netrepid, a networking communications company in Enola, PA, thought ahead when auditing its marketing assets. “The collateral we had was too statistic heavy and not focused enough on answering the ‘why’ of our marketing messaging,” says marketing manager Jonathan Benz. “Short term, we needed to reinvent the brochures and print materials. Long term, we wanted to save money, because our message is capable of withstanding major technological shifts.”

The business decided to create materials now that it wouldn’t need until the future, so they would match the printed pieces needed today. Netrepid produced custom banners for trade shows and custom posters for its office and data centers, ensuring the message would be consistent whenever the assets are needed.

Apply the Same Marketing Best Practices Online

Offline consistency is one thing, but how do you maintain a consistent marketing program on the Web, especially if it’s unfamiliar territory? You could follow the Kipling Group’s example. The business recently integrated social media into its marketing mix. "We’re going against tradition by partaking in these activities," explains marketing coordinator Sarah Walker. "Although all of these techniques have become common practice for most businesses, this is not true for the commercial real estate industry.”

To help the Toronto-based company manage its online presence, Kipling Group applied the tried-and-true best practices that serve it well offline. For example, just like it tries to weed out-of-date customers from its postal mailing lists, it periodically trims the fat from its email marketing efforts. Walker suggests other businesses make sure their email lists are current. It helps ensure messages are only going to people who want to receive them, and keeps costs down too (most email service providers charge by the number of addresses on your list).

Keep Customers in the Loop

If you’re changing with the times, it’s important your marketing efforts do too. For example, over the past 10 years, Surety Solutions, in Salem, OR, evolved from a specialty insurance agency to an industry software developer. Before this changeover, its marketing was minimal. “A few postcards here, a random email campaign there,” says Duke Revard, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. Now the company promotes its new services through a coordinated  postcard and email campaign that alerts existing customers to its online marketing efforts.

But despite the changes, Surety has kept customers in the loop, assuring them Surety is still the same company they know and trust. To that end, Surety always includes its Web site address and ways to reach the company via social media on every piece of print collateral so customers can get in touch when they need to.

Be Loud & Clear

Whether it’s online or offline, aimed at businesses or consumers, your company’s marketing needs to be both loud and clear — otherwise it’ll get drowned out. And the key to making those messages resonate is consistency. By continuing to monitor your marketing through regular check-ins and audits, your efforts will stay on track.

Kevin Ackerman is passionate about technology and helping small businesses make the most of their resources. When he’s not writing, Kevin enjoys traveling, introducing people to his hometown of Portland, OR, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox. You can connect with him on Google+.

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