Thursday, November 3, 2011

Setting the Total Promotion Budget

Are you struggling with your advertising budget (or lack thereof)? Many businesses all over the country have the same problem: They aren’t taking any risks! There are several models that one can follow to create their advertising budget, and the one that is most commonly used in small businesses is the one that is hurting them the most. I am referring to the Affordable Method.

The Affordable Method occurs when the business owner sets the promotion budget based on what they think they can afford, which often isn’t much. The problem with this model is that it places advertising last in priority and “completely ignores the effects of promotion on sales.” (Kotler and Armstrong 415) In some situations, advertising may be critical to the success of a company, and as I have personally witnessed, doing without it can be the company’s greatest downfall. The Affordable Method also makes it difficult to create a long range marketing plan because it is such an uncertain annual promotion budget.

Many businesses are unaware of other methods to setting their budget, but there are a few other methods that have proven more successful. The percentage of sales method has its advantages, as does the Competitve Parity Method. But none is as thorough and defined as the Objective-and-Task Method.

The Percentage of Sales Method bases the budget on a specified percentage of current or projected sales, or unit sales price. The advantage here is that it is simple to use and “helps management think about the relationship between promotion spending, selling price and profit per unit.” (Kotler and Armstrong  416) However, this method also wrongly views sales as the cause of spending, instead of its result.

The Competitive Parity Method requires extensive evaluation of your biggest competitor’s promotion budget, and setting your company budget to match the competing outlay. This method requires management to watch competitors constantly, get estimates and base the promotional budget on an industry average. This often prevents promotion wars by spending the same as competitors. The disadvantage here is that neither company in this scenario knows any better than the other what they should be spending on promotion.

The most logical method for setting the total promotional budget is the Objective-and-Task Method. In this model, the promotion budget is based on what the company wants to accomplish with the promotion. First, management must define the promotion objective. Second, they must determine what tasks are needed to achieve these objectives. Finally, one must estimate the cost of performing the defined tasks. The reason this model is so much more effective is because it forces management to outline the specifics of its assumptions about the relationship between cost and results (Kotler and Armstrong 416).

Although it is most logical, this method is also very difficult to use because it can be hard to define what tasks will achieve the stated goals. For example: A Moving Company wants 80% brand recognition during their first year of business. What kind of message and communication methods would they use to obtain this objective? This question must be considered, even though it is difficult to answer.

A Final Advertising Tip: Promotions should occur when sales are up, not when sales are down!

References: The Principles of Marketing by Phillip Kotler and Gary Armstrong. Find your own copy here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Presentation is everything

This summer, I was approached by a young groom who wanted to do something special for the upcoming union between himself and his fiancĂ©e. The two wanted a romantic wedding, that highlighted their love for the fairy tale wonderland of Alice. For those who may remember the story, Alice is prompted what to do next by notes and tags and other hints. In keeping with this interactive feel, we created each piece of the ensemble to include such details. 

These amazing petalfolds feature an ornate laser cut design (by Storkie). The invitations are inserted into the petal folds, featuring images of Alice and the Madhatter. The ensemble is fastened with an enclosure prompting each guest to "Read Me," while the invitation reminds them of the importance of not being late. 

This theme is carried through the remaining inserts, including the directions, which continue to playfully direct guests to "Follow Them" once they have returned their replies in the envelope marked "Return Me."

The couple purchased these petal folds from, along with their corresponding pearl lined envelopes, only. Since Storkie limits the amount of customization, they were unable to meet such a personalized request. For this reason, the interior cards and envelopes, as well as favor tags reading "Eat Me," and "Drink Me" were customized with digital printing by King Designs at Gossett Printing, Inc. The inserts were printed on a Recycled Esse Cover in a beautiful champaign tone. 

The Alice in Wonderland theme is presented in every detail of the event. The programs for the event were a simple 3 piece layered design, tied with a black ribbon at the bottom to double as elegant hand fans. Using a light robin egg blue I created a soft, antique background to feature the artwork, and continue the fairy tale theme.

This custom order left no detail neglected. The presentation of these elements whisks guests away down the rabbit hole, and entices curiosity. The blending of smooth vellum textures with metallic paper stocks sets the tone, indicating a high level of formality to your guests. When choosing the best presentation for your invitations and stationery, it is very important to consider the message you want to convey to your guests.

With King Designs, the possibilities are endless. I don't limit you to certain paper stocks or colors, or themes. I have the skills to create anything you can imagine, and I combine this with my years of experience in printing to provide you with the best solutions. Not only was I able to work with the couple's request for customization, but I was also able to save them hundreds of dollars by using cost-efficient processes. Visit my website for more details on how I can help you create the wedding stationery you have been dreaming of. 

4 Simple Steps to Choose Your Save the Date

Adrienne & Niel - Postcard by King Designs

A Save the Date is a simple and personal way to announce your engagement. It can be very elegant and formal, feature your photo, or a semi-formal announcement. It can be fun and show your personality or “couple style.” There is a wide variety of items out there to announce this once-in-a-lifetime occasion to your friends and family.

The first step in choosing your Save the Dates is determining whether or not you need one. A Save the Date is used to inform your guests of the event if it is a destination wedding, or planned during peak travel times. Common examples include Holiday Weddings, Summer Weddings and events that require a large amount of guests traveling long distances. It can be beneficial to include lodging and travel information for large groups of out of town guests. Your event may require reserving a block of hotel rooms to accommodate your guests.

The next step is determining how many you will need. This number is not based on the number of guests you intend to invite; rather it is based on the number of households you will be mailing your information to. A Save the Date is a promise of invitation. It may be perceived as rude to send a Save the Date to any friends or relatives who you do not intend to invite to the wedding. For those relatives, an announcement can be sent, either informing them of your engagement, or more traditionally, you may send a formal announcement to all who were unable to attend following the wedding.

When choosing your Save the Dates, it is extremely important to use full names. Many designs have been rendered to include only the couple’s first names, which is fine if a photo is featured. If no photo is included, your guests may not be sure who is getting married.

The date should be featured prominently. Some announcements feature a calendar of the month with the day circled or highlighted with a personal touch. For out of town guests, it is helpful to include the city and state in which your ceremony will be held. It is also important to include what is to come, by using the phrase “Invitation to follow.” Your Save the Dates should be mailed within 6-8 months of your event date. However, it is important to make sure your venue deposit is paid and confirmed, before having anything printed or published.
Custom Seal and Send by King Designs
Some popular Save the Date ideas include Magnets, Tickets, and Postcards featuring engagement photos. Some couples are planning ahead with their photographers, and holding unique signs reading their date, the phrase “Save the Date,” or wearing their favorite jerseys that make up the numbers of their wedding date. (This idea can also be used for your Thank You Notes).
Ticket to Love by Carlson Craft
Magnetic Photo Save-the-Date by Stylart
Monograms can be used, however it is best to either use your first initials only, or first names with an ampersand between them. Traditionally, you should hold off on using your new married name until after the ceremony.
Your Save the Date is an expression of who you are as a couple. It is very important that you find the best way to express both of your individual styles, and how they blend to create a unique combination, which resembles your love for each other. One of the most important details of your wedding is your photography, and this can be a truly unique way to capture your style in your stationery and announcements.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ordering Wedding Invitations

When it comes to formal stationery, there are a few things to consider before you are ready to place your order. First you must consider your wording, as well as any ink colors and the quantity you will need. There are many different styles of verses to choose from, or you may choose to write your own. The following are suggestions on how to modify the traditional rules of etiquette to suit your modern style.
Writing Your Verse
The first line of the invitation indicates who is hosting. Traditionally the bride’s parents are listed first, but such traditions must be modified when situations require something different. Sometimes the groom’s parents are hosting, other times it is a sibling or the couple themselves. You may include poems or scriptures. Your verse selection should be clear who is doing the inviting, and who is getting married, even if they are one in the same. 
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter

John and Kathryn Smith
request the pleasure of your company
at the ceremony uniting their daughter

Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
cordially invite
Thomas and Sonya Williams
to share in their joy
at the marriage of their daughter

Alternative for couple hosting:
Together with their parents
Karen Anne Simpson
Christopher William Jones
cordially invite
Thomas and Sonya Williams
to celebrate their union
as they exchange marriage vows
The couple to be married should use at least their full first and last names, middle names, initials or surnames may be included. Any title or suffix, such as Jr., III, or Dr. should be included on formal invitations.

The next line indicates the event and invitation, most often worded as “request the honor of your presence.” This wording is accepted traditionally as indicating the event to be held in a church or religious sanctuary. When the ceremony is to be held outdoors or in any other building such as a resort, hotel, or gazebo, the phrase “request the pleasure of your company” is more common.
The next lines include the date and time, which should be spelled out, for example:
the twenty-fifth of April
Two thousand and eleven
at three o’clock in the afternoon
Half-hours may be written as “four-thirty” or “half past four,” omitting the “o’clock,” which indicates an event happening on the hour.
The last section presents the location, with the complete name and address of the venue spelled out, for example:
First Baptist Church
101 Park Avenue
Springfield, Illinois
Reception information should be included on a separate insert card when it being held at a separate location, or at a later time in the day. If your reception is in the same location as your wedding and is scheduled to begin upon commencement of the ceremony, you may include an extra line that states "Reception immediately following ceremony" at the bottom or in the corner of your invitation, avoid the additional cost of a separate insert card.

If your reception requires a head count, then you need a respond card. When meal choices are an option, you need a custom respond card that enables your guests to choose from your menu options. The respond card must also provide space for guests to write in food allergies, when applicable. In order to keep your reception moving smoothly, you may also need to order guest place cards and seating charts. At King Designs, all of these items can be created and produced in the final weeks before your event.
Many brides-to-be are so full of excitement, they often overlook minor mistakes when submitting their order information. The most common mistake I see when placing print orders for formal stationery is the inclusion of the zip code. You do not need to include this on the invitation, as it is for mailing purposes only.
The second most common mistake I see is failure to review the information. Proofread a printed copy of your verse and any inserted information prior to submitting it for printing. It is also important to have someone else review it as well. Check the addresses of the locations listed, and any other information.
Check the dates. Many people ordering printing at the end of the year for an event being held in the following year, often write the date incorrectly upon submitting their information to be printed. It is a habit to write the current year, so many December 2011 print orders will come in with dates listed as January 29, 2011, or February 14, 2011, despite the fact these dates have long been passed. 
Many print services will not provide a sample of your actual invitation. At King Designs, you have the opportunity to review your actual proof, prior to printing the entire order. We mail your sample invitation to you, exactly as it will be received by your guests, which also ensures your postage rate before finalizing your design.

ng stationery, there is often little time to reprint. Such situations often result in further delay while waiting on replacement stocks and materials.
Personal service is an extremely important aspect to placing your print order. If you are placing your order from an online print service, there may not be anyone to prevent small mistakes from being caught before printing. When it comes to weddi

Addressing Your Wedding Invitations
Once you have selected the ensemble that suits your event, next you must address them.
Formal invitations come with inner and outer envelope sets.  The inner envelope is sometimes lined, and is used to personalize each invitation with the first names of the individuals you wish to invite. Children over the age of 16, still living with their parents should receive separate invitations. The outer envelope is addressed formally:
The rules of etiquette vary depending on who you ask, so these are merely guidelines for you to modify to suit your individual needs:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, [married couple]
Mr. John Smith and Ms. Carol Jones, [unmarried couple]
The Smith Family, [married with children]

How to Handle your Guests' Reponses

The respond envelopes or postcards should be sent in your invitations with postage paid and the return address provided. When you begin receiving your responses, put them in a specific place, like a shoebox, basket or drawer in order to keep them all together and organized. Keep your guest list in a binder or excel spreadsheet where you can mark the responses for each guest. Allow another week from the response deadline for the mail to be processed. Then, begin calling any guests you have not received responses from.
There are many details to finish in the final weeks before your wedding. If this task proves to be too much for you, you may want to consider utilizing our complete personalization package. We personalize every invitation and corresponding reply card to ease the stress of planning. If you have a planner or coordinator assisting you in planning, you can have your responses addressed directly to your wedding professional. King Desings can also track your responses and generate your guests' place cards for you. Then, we provide you with your final counts and list for your vendors. This option is only available with the complete personalization option.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Choosing Your Wedding Invitations

When it comes to the most anticipated event in your life, there are many different types of formal stationery to choose from. Due to the variety of printing techniques, there are literally thousands of styles and layouts to choose from. The cost of invitations, programs and other fine stationery is directly relevant to the time spent designing the item, the paper stock it is printed on and how it is printed. Also reflected in the cost is the type of equipment and the techniques used, as well as how it is trimmed and folded and the level of experience of the individual producing them. Many engaged couples and their parents are shocked to see the cost of some of the designs available. So how do you know what designs will fit your budget? An experienced printer will be able to provide information about the types of items they have to offer.
Custom Digital Invitation featuring layered pull out design with detachable reply card. All these pieces are tucked neatly in place by the custom printed pocket.
The exquisite designs available from album dealers such as Carlson Craft, Birchcraft, McPherson’s and Stylart include selections that are produced using thermography (raised ink) offset lithography, (flat ink) and letterpress techniques. They also produce many products that are embossed, including blind, foil and pearl embossing. All of these methods require ink and chemical clean up, as well as metal plates, some of which are very deeply and ornately engraved. Another distinguishable characteristic of wedding invitations are the cut designs. Round corners, ornate edges, angled cuts and die cuts (shapes cut out of the invitation) add to the cost of the invitation. Pocket invitations and petal folds are also more costly due to their construction.
Digital printing is the least expensive form of production for wedding invitations. It is cost-effective for smaller quantities, while it also enables them to be completely personalized. This process provides full color or grayscale printing that is comparable to traditional offset lithography. Using heat, wax and organic pigment toners, this process is efficient and environmentally friendly. King Designs currently uses a Konica Minolta C5501, an EnergyStar digital printer. This process does not require the use of chemicals or metal plates, but can provide the same beautiful results. King Designs has produced a line of Eco-Friendly Ensembles that are created just for each couple, using the least amount of waste. There are a variety of styles and layouts to choose from. All of these products come with customizable options for complete personalization.
So how do you know what fits your budget?
The first thing to consider is your guest list. How many invitations do you need 50? 150? 550? The guest list, along with the formality of the event determines how your invitation should be ordered.
Custom Photo Save the Date Seal-n-Send.

Is it formal, semi-formal or informal? Are you having a reception with dinner or a backyard barbecue or just a brief cocktail hour with desserts? These details impact your stationery needs If you need to have guests seated for the reception, you may need escort or place cards, table numbers menu cards or seating charts. Are blocks of rooms being reserved at a hotel? Your guests will need Accommodations Cards to assist them in receiving the group discount. Is it a destination wedding? Your guests may need passports and make travel arrangements.   If many of your guests are coming from out of town, you may need Direction Cards or Save the Dates. Save the Dates are also suggested when your wedding falls near or on a major holiday or travel season.
If you are having a reception with meal choices, you will need a customizable response card for this. If you are having a small buffet, you may not even need a reply card. If you are having over 100 guests, or have limited seating available, your event requires a response card. Chances are, you won’t be able to handle 300 RSVPs by email and phone and still keep them organized.
Invitation features personalized verse and meal option response cards.
This level of personalization is completely stress free.

If the guest list is extensive, you need responses to be handled with an even more personalized method. King Designs offers a complete personalization process in which we print the individual names of your guests onto the invitations and matching respond cards for you. The ensembles are printed together, keeping the sets in list order. You will be able to easily assemble your sets in order, and track your responses without any stress. Now that you know how to find the perfect wedding invitation to suit your style and budget, you can browse with confidence. Just like your fiancĂ© and the dress, you will know “the one” when you find it!