The hidden opportunity in your PDF downloads

Posted on August 12th, 2009 by | Filed under: Integrated Marketing, Investor Relations, Marketing News, Soap Box

If your company is like most these days, you have numerous PDFs on your Web site available for download. With this cost effective and user friendly tactic, many companies are missing the opportunity to let the PDF help close the sale.

Newsletter PDF Download (Toyota Material Handling)

PDF Newsletter (Toyota Material Handling)

Too often, the downloadable PDF is not professionally designed because you’re not investing in offset printing. Such treatment can lead to missed opportunities. When uploading documents in PDF format to your Web site, ask yourself, “What does my audience do with those documents, and are my PDFs doing their job?”

From investor relations to sales collateral, your PDF downloads provide a convenient means for potential buyers and investors to collect the information they seek.  But do those documents rise to the level of your corporate identity? Do they enhance your brand? Do they build your image? Do they sell?

When researching a vendor, product or service, buyers commonly collect downloaded PDFs and spit them out of the office printer for later analysis. Product information, whitepapers, spec sheets, company fact sheets, annual reports – they’re all being downloaded and printed as we speak. While offset printing volumes are being reduced, the office printer is alive and well.

So treat the office printer like another media channel. When your company’s material comes out looking superior to the others in the prospect’s collection, you’ve just jumped to the top of the stack.

Mad Men, Web geeks and the SEC

Posted on November 7th, 2008 by | Filed under: Investor Relations

Your next annual report must have marketability, usability and compliance

The three worlds of advertising, Web site usability, and the Securities and Exchange Commission have collided. The result is a puzzle, and the public companies who can successfully fit the pieces together in 2009 will capture prospective investors while living up to the spirit of new SEC rules.

Award-winning Annual Report designed by Ervin | Bell

Award-winning Annual Report designed by Ervin | Bell

The high-end printed annual report is poised to become more focused as a long-term shareholder retention tool, and is increasingly valuable as a sales tool as well. Promoting your company to potential investors and analysts, however, necessitates not just any HTML annual report, but a well-executed one. Because the prospective investor has a low level of motivation, you have a very short period of time to provide what they’re looking for, link them strategically along your IR site and collect their email address.

The shared story below, Reflections on 2008 Annual Report Season, renders a verdict on the failure of companies over the past season to execute annual reports that reflect modern models of investor relations. It was filed by blogger Dominic Jones of IR Web Report.

read more | digg story

Corporate branding should improve the bottom line, not dent it

Posted on October 1st, 2008 by | Filed under: Soap Box

(By Michael Ervin, published in Orange County Business Journal)

Throughout the past decade, the focus on corporate branding has led to a heightened awareness of the critical role a branding campaign plays in the communications mix. We know that effective promotion of a brand helps customers, employees and shareholders better understand a company and its offerings. It enhances the confidence that stakeholders have in that business and its activities. It differentiates the company from its competition. And, we now see that all of these attributes can have a positive effect on a company’s fiscal health.

Unfortunately, the last decade also found those who believed that companies could “out brand” their competition simply by outspending them. Often, corporate branding campaigns offered high hopes at a hefty price. There were those who thought that the more money spent to “invent” a company’s brand, the more powerful it would become. But now, more than ever, we know that smart—not necessarily costly—branding is effective and essential. And smart branding is based on a company’s current, definable practices, activities, philosophies and personality.

Brand is an asset that affects your bottom line
Branding Is Everything: A strong brand provides the power of premium pricing.

A truly effective marketing communications program will uncover the strongest brand identity for a company when it is based on reality. By showcasing a company’s greatest strengths—hopefully those that also differentiate it in the marketplace—a company can build valuable credibility that resonates with its customers, employees and shareholders. Since a corporate brand is a reflection of what is true about a company, no amount of money thrown at “inventing” a brand will be successful—the company must walk the talk of the brand image it promotes. A well-researched, efficiently crafted, reality-based branding communications effort, therefore, need not be a multi-million-dollar proposition.

Not only is branding based on facts essential for enhancing a company’s goodwill, it has also become a necessary business practice to fortify balance sheets. Recent studies show that a brand’s power accounts for a whopping five percent of those things that contribute to whether the stock price will go up or down. When you consider the fact that a company’s “financial strength” factored in at only six percent—a mere percentage point difference—you can see how much power a brand wields.

Of course, stock price or shareholder confidence is one thing. A strong brand can also impact a company’s bottom line by affecting its ability to retain employees, attract customers and, ultimately, reduce costs by building momentum on its marketing dollars.

Gone are the days when branding efforts were optional. In today’s competitive marketplace, building corporate brand identity is critical to gaining ground on competitors. And while it shouldn’t place a heavy financial burden on a company, branding is simply something we can’t afford not to do.