Yes, We Do That

The Allied Group is New England's leading provider of Printing, Kitting, Mailing and Fulfillment services. Our blog authors have backgrounds in Sales, Marketing, IT, Production and Operations and post useful tips, trends, news and opinions in our industry and beyond. We know you'll find something you enjoy. Most of all, be sure to jump into the conversation!

Reducing “No-Shows” at Admissions Events - Part One

Getting students on campus is a well-known key to successful admissions conversion and yield programs. Few marketing communication strategies can match the yield rate for students who visit for a tour and admissions interview.  As a marketing services company that has helped colleges improve both applications and enrollment, The Allied Group is committed to finding new ways to get more students to sign up for campus visits.

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Can Technology Help You Strike while Students’ Irons are Hot?

Have you or your staff ever had an experience like this one? You have a conversation with a high school student who’s appears to be a perfect fit for your institution. He/she is responding with enthusiasm to your message. You’re certain that this student will be a member of your incoming freshman class. And then…you never hear from them again.

What happened? Did you say or do something wrong? Often, the answer is no. Everything you said and did clicked with the student. But in the time between your conversation and the time to inquire, apply or enroll, something or someone else got in the way.

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What's Trending 10

Well I've taken a little break from this deep topic because I wanted to keep everyone on their toes. Looking at beautiful women, scandalous topics and pressing political views of famous celebs is certainly riveting, but it is hard work. So here goes according to Yahoo:

Kelly Ripa: I guess filling Regis's shoes is going to be difficult. And one thing we do know now is that it won't me Mrs. Ripa's husband Mark! I guess Kelly wouldn't be able to handle that. By the way, when did Regis leave? Did anyone else know about this?

Vince Young: So here we go. A little more in my comfort zone. But I'm not actually sure why Vince is trending. The only thing I can tell is that he is set to work out for the Buffalo Bills. Not exactly earth shattering news, but I guess football has become America's game!

Paulina Gretzky: Welcome to the world of social media and celebrity children. I can't say I had ever heard of Paulina Gretzky, but looking at her last name, it didn't take me long to figure out who she was. And I guess everyone else knows who she is too after posting revealing photos of herself on Instagram.

Well, as usual, we see a lot of beautiful celebrities, sports and a little social media mixed in this time. Effective marketing communication strategies tend to include these very tactics. At The Allied Group, we work with our clients to provide the best possible solution for effective lead generation. And implementing lead generation methods that capitalize on what's going on in the world around us enable us and our clients to capitalize and put this to work for them.

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Marketing - Should it Motivate and Educate or Aggravate?

What impels advertisers to repeat the same television commercials over and over again? When you’re searching for information on the Internet, why do online ads take over your screen? Have studies shown that these tactics induce consumers to inquire, sign up, or buy? Does advertising have to be annoying to be effective?  
 
Researcher David Schumann conducted a study to discover the effect repeating the same commercial had on consumers, reported social psychologists Elliot Aronson and Anthony Pratkanis. Similar to the findings of previous research, Shumann found that repeating an advertisement as subjects watched television increased consumers’ belief in its claims and liking for the product – to a point. Those who saw the ad four times during their viewing period gave the product a higher rating. Viewers who saw it eight times gave it a poorer evaluation. Clearly, they had become annoyed.
 
Utilizing the Research
 
To combat this, advertisers began to maintain the essence of the message but vary its presentation. They changed the settings, camera angles and spokespeople. They used multi-channel marketing approaches, deploying everything from television to print to personalized direct mail and customized landing pages along with regular and mobile websites to reach consumers in different ways. It worked!
 
Upscale discounter Target, for example, employs several top advertising agencies, churning out an endless flow of entertaining commercials and clever print/online ads. All contain the same core messages the retailer wants consumers to remember. And because the ads are done well and varied to avoid wearing out viewers, consumers in one survey said they actually enjoy Target commercials. It must be working – the retailer’s sales continue to increase despite the up and down economy.
 
Pitfalls
 
Far too few advertisers have learned from Target’s success. It seems like every local evening newscast treats viewers to the same commercials presented twice – not at different times, but in succession. This increases, not belief and liking, but irritation. Popular websites have ads that completely take over the screen.  This can be incredibly annoying for consumers browsing online, especially for mobile users who need an answer on the spot. 
 
Some bloggers who work hard to produce genuinely enlightening material fall into the trap of emailing their readership several times a week.  Some do it every day.  They seemed to have missed wise King Solomon’s frank advice, “Make your foot rare at the house of your fellowman, that he may not have his sufficiency of you and certainly hate you.” In marketing, this principle helps one realize that bloggers and advertisers always walk a tightrope between getting noticed and becoming notorious.
 
Effective marketing communication strategies center on the feelings and beliefs of the target audience. As a marketing communications company striving to achieve recognition as a top direct marketing firm, The Allied Group continually considers our clients’ goals/culture and, most importantly, their customer’s communication preferences. This knowledge combined with insight into consumer psychology and effective, tailored design for each chosen communication channel can synergize to produce a fruitful campaign.
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Hazing – Why it’s So Hard to get College Fraternities to Stop

The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday that five BU students were found in the basement of a house in Allston occupied by members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. The students, all men, were taped together, clad only in underwear and covered in condiments like fish sauce, hot sauce and mustard as part of, police believe, a hazing ritual.

This fraternity is not affiliated with Boston University, but, according to the Globe, BU recently suspended the Sigma Delta Tau sorority after underage women were allegedly forced to drink liquor until several required hospitalization. Alpha Epsilon Pi members were also allegedly involved.

Hazing, outlawed in Massachusetts, is by no means confined to BU. Other prestigious institutions continue to wrestle with the problem. Despite the strong anti-hazing stand taken by many institutions this practice just won’t go away.

Why hazing remains so popular

Working at The Allied Group, a higher education marketing firm, I realize that, abuses like hazing aside, fraternities and sororities can play an important role in developing tomorrow’s leaders. Forbes magazine stated, “The social skills that help students gain admittance into the Greek system are the same aptitudes that can later give them a leg-up in corporate climbing. Plus, once they've graduated, they can tap into the network of past fraternity brothers or sisters who litter all tiers of corporate America.” American presidents and many corporate CEOs are fraternity members.

Hazing is the dark site of Greek life, causing cases of physical and emotional injury, even death. So why do fraternities and sororities keep doing it? A classic study by renowned psychology researcher Dr. Elliot Aronson and Judson Mills, PhD reveals the answer.

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Avoid Marketing’s Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle conjures up images of mystery, danger and disaster. All too often, marketing gives the same feelings to those who don’t understand it or have failed at it.

Just as three points always make up a triangle, these 3 marketing and sales support mistakes create an area where profits and progress can be swallowed in a “perfect storm” of sales prevention.

1. We know who our customers are. Living in deeply parochial New England, we all too often hear something along the lines of the familiar refrain, “But we’ve always done it that way”. This promotion of the ostrich method of marketing (and/or management by sticking your head in the sand) when it comes to progress and the acknowledgment of changes in technology, styles or buying behavior is extremely dangerous. Or the conversely but equally effective business killer, “everyone is our customer”. Though I’ve seen some Mercedes and BMW’s on my trips to the local Wal-Mart, I’m pretty sure that even they do not expect to have everyone as their customer. In an era of ever-increasing specialization, the need to define your target audience is no longer a nice-to-have but an absolutely need-to-have requirement.

2. We don’t need (or can’t afford) marketing. No less an authority than the late business guru Peter Drucker said that all businesses had only two priorities, innovation and marketing. He also commented “the goal of marketing was to know and understand the customer so well as to make selling superfluous.” Sounds not only important but mission critical to me. Yet the corporate marketing services budget is often the first thing to be cut (if it exists at all) in a down turn or when companies feel the need to reduce costs. How dumb is that?

3. Engaging in “pixie dust” marketing. The other reaction in a downturn is to say something like, “quick, let’s do some marketing to get sales up”. The recent commercials advocating that Yellow Book advertising is the “cure all” to a bad sales month or quarter only serves to reinforce this type of thinking. But rarely if ever does a one-hit marketing effort drive results and even if it does in the short term, it’s highly unlikely to do so over the long run. Marketing is not an event.

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Marketing Madness? Not So Much . . .

For college basketball fans, this weekend is the Final Four, the culmination of March Madness. This is a sporting event that involves the 68 best college basketball teams playing each other in a single-elimination format that generates a lot of passion and exciting games. Fans travel the country following their favorite school as teams are eliminated until the Final Four teams and ultimately one champion is left. The common theme of this event is "survive and advance" to the next round; this survivor mentality makes the entire month a very tense time for players, coaches and fans alike.

Fortunately your own marketing strategy does not have to be so tense; we have many chances to establish a successful marketing program. Unlike the March Madness tournament, marketing is not a "one and done" exercise; when one marketing strategy "loses," you don't go home, but you get the opportunity to try something else.

Today's business owner has many option when it comes to both managing and marketing their business. Whatever the business you are in, many vendors specialize in those fields and finding a compatible business partner can help a business in many ways.

Colleges are able to hire a higher education marketing firm. Large companies are able to hire outside help for business process outsourcing solutions. Non-profit companies are able to partner with a post card mailing service. These are all ways that the business owner -- small or large -- can utilize to maximize their company's ROI.

The Allied Group works with their clients to help them understand what they need. We work to assess your situation and offer a solution to help you meet your needs. We understand that marketing and business management is not a "one and done" deal so take advantage of the options that are available to you.

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The Rumor Mill’s Power to Help or Harm Your Business

Whether good or bad, rumors can have a big effect on an organization. Stories about a company’s positive results can send its stock price soaring. Negative gossip about a firm can seriously hurt sales. 

Rumors don’t have to be true to have impact.  In the 1980s the “Leaflet of Villejuif” began circulating in France. This plain typewritten pamphlet exhorted parents to boycott popular soft drink brands like Coca-Cola, Schweppes and Canada Dry, charging they contained dangerous chemicals that could harm children. 

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Build a Realistic Marketing Pipeline

In the opening sequence of the classic television show, The Beverly Hillbillies, the character of Uncle Jed (played by the actor Buddy Epsen) is chasing a rabbit and fires his rifle - missing the rabbit and only ends up taking a big chunk of dirt out of the ground. But, miraculously, “up from the ground comes the bubblin’ crude”. He and his family had struck it rich with a single random shot from the old trusty family hunting rifle.

In our “hunt” for anew business leads to help create sales however, it’s likely going to take considerably more effort than one or even a few random shots to create a steady stream of prospects. Only with both sustained and intentional effort can we generate the ability to acquire the correct prospecting targets initially and, the right customers eventually.

For many years now, the funnel has been used as a diagram in countless sales and prospecting discussions. Sales training has often focused on bringing prospects through the “sales funnel”. But that is absolutely the wrong picture to have in our heads. In building a sales (marketing and sales support) list of qualified prospects, the proper image should be one of a pipeline. Something that has a continuous flow of prospects, not a voluminous, unqualified top end.

Your revenue pipeline is likely going to take more time, energy, and resources than you may hope for or be comfortable with. But there are rarely any shortcuts to building a process that will deliver a steady stream of prospects in the long run. Though the tactics will change depending on your business, industry and circumstances, consider implementing the following 3 concepts when building your pipeline.

Identify. For each of your particular products or services – find those customers most likely to buy. Spend some effort profiling your existing best customers. What are the common characteristics? In all probability, similar people or businesses exist who share the same needs and values and would make ideal prospects. And therefore, are more likely buyers of your services.

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Years of Marketing Bliss

My wife and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past weekend. We have a lot of "give and take" that makes our relationship work: We enjoy being out together and being with our kids but we support each other's individual interests. She goes away with girlfriends each year; I go away to a Patriots game with some buddies. She goes to a yoga class 2-3 times a week; I run 2-3 times a week. She meets with a regular book club; I play basketball one night a week. As is the case in other successful relationships, each side understands the others' goals and aspirations and encourages those things.

Your relationship with your marketing partner should work the same way. The relationship between a business owner and their marketing partner should be as "open" as any successful relationship you might have in your life. Think of any successful relationship you have  - spouse? friend? neighbor? What makes it successful? Certainly we don't need all the details of your personal relationship but chances are the overriding theme is that you have an  understanding and expectation of what you expect from that person. You might not be the "best friend" to the next door neighbor but if you have a mutual understanding of each other, it works!

The Allied Group works closely with clients so we have a clear understanding of our role in the relationship. For some clients, we are their main resource and serve as the role of their marketing department, assisting on just about everything from lead generation to promotional printed products to redesigning their website. For other clients, they may have their own marketing resources but they need Allied to "fill in the cracks" of what they cannot do internally.

When you are not clear on roles and expectations, like other relationships, your relationship with a top direct marketing agency could be headed for trouble. If your client expects one service and you expect something else, this creates the confusion that generally leads to bad feelings and frustration -- on both sides!

We suggest you sit and meet with the client on a regular basis to discuss goals and aspirations. Our formal Client Retention Program mandates that regular meetings occur with all of our larger clients so that we always are aware of what they want, what they expect and lastly, how they perceive our value to them. On our side, these regular meetings keep us aware of their constantly evolving needs, allowing us to react to those needs.

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