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As a marketer from the pre-blog era, this question seems ridiculously easy to answer… and once upon a time it was. Now, not so much. Not in a time when blogs, discussion boards, email group lists, Facebook, Twitter, and all other such tools create an open, ongoing forum for your product or service to be honestly and candidly discussed. In fact, the assertion, “your brand is no longer yours” is truer than some PR and marketing types want to admit.

Reality is, however, that viral and social media outlets just might be saying more about your company than you are – positively or negatively. To those who spend a healthy share of time and money on branding, this concept might just cause a little heartburn.

Perhaps it’s time to face this issue and make the conscience decision to choose the path most taken. Face it; working tirelessly at reclaiming control over your brand probably isn’t working anyway. Why not focus instead on something that you CAN control – quality of product or service, and all other forms of your marketing package, such as: print collateral, advertisements, promotional goods, and so forth.

This decision to leave the social and viral world to free court play takes confidence – confidence in yourself, your product, your employees and your entire company. This doesn’t imply, however, that you leave the chatter unmonitored – that would be insane! Besides, the chatter might be fodder for your next tag line!

So in addition to monitoring and being keenly aware of social chatter, look to your print materials to not only drive traffic to positive web based support material, but also to consistently communicate to your markets.

With consistency being achieved in very few mediums, use print collateral to create a solid message/image. Research and interview your print shop – this relationship should be open, candid, informative, and reciprocal. Let’s put it this way, at the very least, you should be receiving holiday cards and monthly “What’s Up” phone calls!

If your print shop isn’t a one-stop shop that can supply all your marketing needs from design to fulfillment and record keeping, keep looking! Ask around, check with your colleagues – and ask the difficult questions:

“Does he/she call you back in a timely manner?”

“Was production on time?”

“Do they stay within budget?”

“How is the print quality?”
“Do they use recycled materials?”

“Do you get holiday cards?” (Okay, maybe this one can slide…)

You get the point – in a web-based world where EVERYONE talks about EVERYTHING, 24/7, don’t miss your opportunity to take control on at least one thing – your print campaign.

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BY PRISMAApril 9, 2010

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