Letter vs. Card Appeal – Which is Best for Fundraising?

Fundraising_Appeal_Paw_Print_And_MailAs much as we wish warm weather would stick around, summer is winding down, vacations have been taken, and a new school year is about to begin. If you’re involved in fundraising for a nonprofit, you’re probably looking ahead to the next few months as you prepare fundraising campaigns to meet end of the year deadlines. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving happens in the holiday month of December, so year-end appeals are critical for achieving fundraising goals. It’s never too early to plan your holiday fundraising strategy, and one of the most basic questions to ask is, what format should I be using?

Fundraising at its core is like any other marketing effort, in that it relies upon making a connection with your donors. Since 70% of Americans find direct mail communication more personal than digital forms of communication, a personalized mailer is an obvious choice for achieving maximum donor impact. Millennials like direct mail too, with over 90% considering it a reliable source of information, so you can be sure a direct mail appeal will allow you to reach a wide audience.

Printing has evolved considerably over the last few years, giving you many format and personalization options. Two of the most popular forms of direct mail fundraisers are appeal letters and greeting cards. Which one should you use for your campaign?

Fundraising “Letter” Campaign

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Created by Freepik

Though the days of hand-writing detailed, personal letters to communicate with personal and professional contacts is long gone, there are still times when sending letters can be effective. One of those occasions is when sending direct mail nonprofit appeals. Letters are still viewed as a personal form of communication, and they offer a chance to speak to your donors in a candid and enthusiastic way.

Letter Tips:

  1. Appeal letters are most effective for continuing your relationship with established donors. Since they have given previously to your organization, they are more likely to read an appeal letter. They have shown their interest in your nonprofit and made an investment, and will want to learn about the developments you’ve made and the goals you plan to achieve with their contribution.
  1. Your best audience for an appeal letter is the group who you expect will make a contribution, likely a significant one. Regular donors can usually be counted upon to give the same amount from year to year, and are more likely to increase their gift than to decrease it. Giving this group a more extensive explanation of your campaign provides them with information upfront that would impact their decision to donate and shows the value of continuing to support your cause.
  1. Letter mailings are flexible. While a minimum mailing includes an envelope and letter, you can include other pieces of content to contribute to your campaign success. The letter can guide your donors through the rest of the mail piece, which could include images, a pamphlet or brochure, remittance envelope or a reply card with a return envelope. You’ll want to tailor your content to what your donor base expects and has worked well in the past, what they would find most useful, and what makes it easy for donors to give. Personalizing any part of the mailing with each donor’s name and address is easily done with today’s print technology.
  1. Appeal mailing frequency. Your donors, especially your consistently loyal donors, enjoy hearing from you throughout the year. There’s a reason these people support your organization—you represent a part of them that feels needed and appreciated at the same time. People love to help and support causes that are meaningful and close to them. Mid-October through December is the signature holiday fundraising season, accounting for more than 30% of annual charitable giving. However, 2-3 additional appeals throughout the year, (for example, one per quarter), increase your ability to stay top-of-mind with your donors and reach your annual fundraising goals. 70% of people believe they receive too many emails, but when it comes to direct mail donor correspondence, including appeals for virtually every touch, you cannot mail too often.

Fundraising Greeting Cards

Nonproft-GreetingCard

A personalized appeal letter is an effective fundraising tool, but it’s not the only format for a direct mail appeal campaign. A greeting card style appeal can be effective by triggering more visual cues when compared to a letter. Greeting cards allow you to connect with donors by reminding them of your organization while emphasizing the importance of each donor’s individual impact in a more visual way.

Greeting Card Tips:

  1. Cards have strong visual potential. While an appeal letter can include visuals, an image is a main component of a greeting card, and the first element a donor will see. Choosing a strong visual will grab the reader’s attention immediately. Recipients are going to spend time looking at it, and if the image sticks in their mind, your organization will be remembered also. A card is also a great place to feature images of or artwork created by individuals who benefit from your organization’s services.
  1. Make it extra personal. As with letter mailings, today’s digital printing technology allows a greeting card style mailing to be personalized as well – from a salutation to start the message, to variable text in key messaging locations, and even using variable imaging.
  1. Treating your major donors extra special. Often, 80% of donations come from 20% of the donors – your major donors. Crafting a card, hand writing a short sentence or two, and signing your name can go a long way towards making a positive impression on your donors. You could have your staff all sign the card, or send it from an individual rather than the organization to add even more of a personal touch. Sending a more personal card to fewer donors can have more of an impact than sending to a larger audience.
  1. Greeting cards appeal to leads and current donors. Greeting cards can cost less to produce than an appeal letter depending on the project specifications. Because they can be personalized for each individual, you can use them to connect with a donor who is at any stage in the giving process. A generous message thanking a lead who has shown interest in your organization but hasn’t yet given could be just what is needed to ensure a gift is made. And it never hurts to thank those who have given for the difference they’ve been able to make.
  1. Keep your message concise. Engaged donors will read the more specific details and story of an appeal letter, while greeting cards may more readily grab the interest of a donor who’s scanning the mail piece. Again, no one format is necessarily the most read for any given donor, so it is worth experimenting with different methods.
  1. Stand out from the crowd. Many nonprofits send holiday cards, and it’s likely your donors will receive more than one this holiday season. The month of December is the most popular time to send holiday cards. Try sending a card during the Thanksgiving or New Year’s period to make your message stand out. You could even send a card during a different time of year, like Valentine’s Day, when nonprofits aren’t regularly mailing cards.

So which is more effective, a letter or a greeting card appeal mailing? As with all marketing and fundraising efforts, it depends, and there is no silver bullet. There’s more than one way to tell your story and both formats possess their respective strengths for making a connection with donors. What IS recommended is experimenting with nuances on each campaign to build your own database of knowledge and measuring results.  Your best choice may be to mix it up and try both, measure and compare the results, and use the newfound data to plan future campaigns.

If you’re looking to incorporate direct mail pieces as a way to enhance your fundraising strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail today.

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Enhance Your Sales With Marketing Automation

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Be more effective with your marketing. Image created by Freepik.

As a business owner, staying in touch with your customers is the key to solidifying those vital relationships and growing your business. You want to be able to have a conversation and convey your brand so they’ll return to you for their needs, rather than go to your competitors. But penning a personal message to a customer (and being able to anticipate when you might need to) can consume a lot of time.

Marketing is a core function of any business or nonprofit organization and it should be high on the list of your resource investments. But that doesn’t mean it has to consume all of your work time. An effective way to keep communication open while consuming less time is through the use of marketing automation.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Wikipedia defines it as the use of an automation platform to streamline sales and marketing efforts by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. Essentially marketers can do more in less time, with greater efficiency, allowing them to focus on high gain activities while the technology delivers effective marketing results. Most marketing automation solutions today are cloud-based applications that enable marketing professionals to seamlessly integrate off and online media, such as Direct Mail, Email, Web, SMS (text messaging), Social Media, and Mobile, to create highly personalized and unified experiences across multiple channels.

With an automation campaign, you develop content that the application sends to your customers when it is most effective to do so. The technology allows you to give your messages a human touch and make them as personal as you’d like them to be, so your customers will feel connected to your brand.

The components inherently built into a typical automated marketing campaign include:

  • A trigger, most often an email, direct mail piece, or both.
  • A campaign-branded landing page, with one to a few qualifying questions, either with or without a download deliverable like an eBook, white paper, or other offer of value.
  • Thank You or follow up touch(es) to continue the conversation or close the loop. Throughout the entire process, personalization is employed to greet and engage.

This process gives marketers keen insight into the level of interest and/or stage in the buying cycle the customer or prospect is at. The qualifying information gathered forms a higher level lead for your sales team to evaluate and act on. This saves companies and nonprofits time and money by focusing on leads that have a higher probability of advancing in the sales or donor cycle. Whatever goals you have for your business, marketing automation can help you meet them through the development of targeted campaigns that will get you results.

Marketing automation is also a means of scaling your marketing outreach by being able to reach all or segmented parts of your contact list at once in a highly personalized fashion. This allows you to accomplish your objectives of building brand awareness, educating your customers, prospecting for leads, asking for referrals, and client nurturing.

Marketing automation is an effective tool that you can use as part of your marketing mix to not only generate leads, but generate QUALIFIED leads… and this is an important distinction to understand. Since the number one goal of most marketers is demand generation for their sales organization, one of the key opportunities of investing in marketing automation is to be able to develop well-executed lead nurturing programs. The added capability to create rule-based multi-touch drip marketing campaigns, leading to improved results, is one of the reasons why marketers embrace the solution.

Employing this strategy, the marketer is able to deliver “Sales Ready” leads to sales for immediate follow-up, while the remaining prospects are nurtured until they move to the “Sales Ready” category. This approach leads to significantly improved revenue results and marketing ROI. In fact, Forrester Research reports that companies leveraging this approach generate 50% more sales-ready leads (key revenue producing opportunities), at 33% less marketing cost.

4 Essential Benefits of Marketing Automation

While automation is a complex and layered process, here are four main reasons to invest in it.

  1. Do More in Less Time: While setting up your automation software takes time upfront, once you have developed your content, you’re saving time in the long run. Rather than crafting emails individually, the software contacts customers and leads for you, leaving you with more time to focus on high-gain activities and develop new areas to market and grow your business. You’ll be able to generate more revenue, from increasing the number of leads who convert to customers as well as the extra time you’ll have to enhance your marketing strategy. 
  1. Target Leads More Specifically: Customers and prospects will receive content in a timely manner that is targeted to their needs, interests, and content preferences. You can reduce the quantity of cold calls by generating a supply of qualified leads. 
  1. Increase Action: Since content is specific to where each customer is in the sales process, it increases the likelihood of that person taking the intended action. 
  1. Enhance Communication: Being in contact with your customers more often and more specifically increases your connection with them and can help to create more of a dialogue, as you learn customer preferences, needs, and behaviors.

Marketing automation is essentially using applications software to automate your marketing efforts. It is a digital tool that executes a predefined marketing campaign that, once the launch button is pressed, so to speak, delivers your marketing message in a systematic, consistent, and timely fashion.

While not all automated marketing campaign applications are created equal, the more robust applications, like those employed as a service here at Paw Print & Mail, are capable of effectively using cross-channel touches, like email and direct mail, working in harmony to put your message in front of your customers and prospects in an orchestrated fashion. Contact us to get started on marketing automation for your business.

 

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5 Essential Parts of a Capital Campaign Brochure

Capital Campaigns: The Basics

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Working for a nonprofit, you want to do as much good as possible. One of the most effective ways for nonprofits to achieve larger development goals is with a capital campaign. A capital campaign is a period of heavy fundraising efforts, when nonprofit organizations work to raise a significant amount of money within a specified period of time. Often this kind of campaign is used in order to raise funds to acquire, build, or expand a facility, or to set up an endowment. A large-scale campaign like this can be the only way for an organization to achieve goals that are vital to its efforts.

In order to ensure you meet your goals within the time period specified, targeting your efforts is essential. Unlike more general fundraising efforts, capital campaigns are specific, and require defined target benchmarks as you move through the campaign timeline. Capital campaigns give your supporters a specific, concrete goal that their dollars will go directly towards funding.

 A Key to Capital Campaign Success

Running a capital campaign requires numerous steps and committed individuals, and one piece of the puzzle is awareness. When looking to raise a significant amount of funds, it’s critical to develop an awareness campaign that will be compelling and impactful for the duration of your fundraising.

Printed materials like brochures are an effective way to educate your donor base about your campaign. Making use of official printed materials helps to give donors a sense that your campaign is structured and professional. A well-designed brochure can give you the confidence that your campaign is being presented in the best light, and gives your campaign goals a greater chance of being met.

A brochure helps to tell the story, including who is involved, the mission of your organization, the details of the project (including costs and intended outcomes), and how to give. With a brochure, as with all of your campaign materials, you’ll want to focus your message on the benefits your campaign goal will have for the community that you serve, rather than just on the building or item itself that you’re looking to raise funds for.

Capital Campaign Brochure Outline

Part 1: The Introduction

While you probably have a lot to say about the needs and deeds of your organization, you’ll want to keep your brochure’s introduction brief. This is a good rule of thumb to follow throughout the brochure. Your copy should be clear, concise, and written in an enthusiastic tone that speaks to your donors and helps them become excited about your mission and the positive outcomes that will result from their contribution to reaching your capital campaign goals.

Readers may have extensive knowledge of your nonprofit, or they may know very little. To make your brochure accessible to everyone, you’ll want to include a short overview of your organization, including who you serve and the types of programs you provide. This can help to give your nonprofit credibility as you guide donors throughout the specifics of your campaign.

Part 2: Your Mission

Somewhere in your brochure, preferably towards the beginning, you’ll want to include a concise version of your nonprofit’s mission statement.  Alongside your mission, it’s important to show donors the current impact of your organization. Include specific facts/figures to reiterate to donors the good work that you do and show them why they should contribute to your growth. This section is a good place to include an impactful quote from someone that has benefited from your organization’s services.

Part 3: The Capital Campaign

Once you’ve shown donors who you are and the good you do, giving them a reason to support you, it’s time to outline the details of your capital campaign.

This is the meat of your brochure. Start with describing your need, and make sure to be specific. You want to show donors that this campaign is well thought out, both in terms of your needs and the intended outcomes. Donors will want to know specifically what their contribution will be funding. Having a concise description of your vision, proposed outcomes/solutions, and how exactly the funds you raise are to be used will give your campaign credibility.

Part 4: Why Now?

It’s important to ground your capital campaign in relevance. While you’ve already described the needs of your organization and how you hope to resolve them, here is your chance to show the larger community impact and the timeliness of your campaign. It’s likely that your nonprofit works to meet the needs of individuals as well as the larger community in which you live, and showing how you fit into the bigger picture can be an effective way to compel your donors to contribute.

 Part 5: Where Do You Fit In?

When developing your brochure, put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Anticipate the kinds of questions your donors will have, and answer the major ones in your brochure. Then, your donors will see your materials as a credible resource for understanding the issue or cause you work to aid, and give them confidence in the necessity and success of your campaign’s mission. Draw the donor in and make it personal with context that makes them part of the solution by leading with something like, “this is where you come in….” You want your donors to feel that their contribution is vital to your campaign’s success and to show how the larger issue may be affecting their lives. You can also use this section to thank your donors in advance for their support.

Design Tips:
  • Strong visuals are crucial to ensure that donors can visualize the intended outcome of the campaign that their dollars are going to fund, as well as the people who are going to benefit from this development.

 

  • Focus on being visually cohesive. Bring design elements from your nonprofit’s website or other printed materials into your brochure, so readers will be quick to associate your campaign with your organization. If you have a logo or design aesthetic in use for other campaign materials, be sure to use them consistently across the board. Consistency and a unified message will enhance the credibility of your capital campaign.

 

  • Leave a generous about of negative space to help the most important information stand out and make it easier for readers to process. Try to keep your information simple, but as effective as possible, with a clear call to action.

 

  • Adopt a multi-channel approach. A brochure can help drive traffic to a website, where donors can learn more about your organization and make donations. Include the essentials in your brochure and integrate it with your digital marketing, making it easy for your donors to donate, contact you, and find your digital resources.

 

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit fundraising appeal production, including capital campaign brochures. Contact us for assistance with materials for your next fundraising campaign.

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6 Key Statistics: The Stickiness of Promotional Products

Branded_Promotional_Products_Paw_Print_And_MailAs I waited in line at an event this weekend, my gaze settled on the back of a man standing a bit ahead of me. His black shirt featured the intriguing name and logo of a brewing company I hadn’t heard of before, and I was instantly curious—what’s the story here?

While I lost track of the logo-clad individual in the crowd, his shirt stuck with me, leading to a Google search and a plan to bring along some of this beer next time I get together with friends. Without any commercials, traditional advertisements, or over-the-top marketing campaigns, this brewery earned itself a customer.

If you look around your desk right now, it’s likely you’ll find at least one item printed with the logo of an organization you support or company you do business with. These promotional products may be a part of your daily routine: the coffee mug you carry to work with you, the pen you write notes with, or the shirt you wear to the gym.

The use of promotional products is an increasingly popular method of growing brand awareness. As the brewery shirt story shows, putting branded promotional products out into the world can help your fans become brand ambassadors, creating more fans (and paying customers) for your business.

Investing in Promotional Products for Your Business

You’re probably using more traditional forms of advertising to market your business, and those efforts are vital to maintaining your sales strategy. Combining those methods with promotional product advertising can help to take your marketing to the next level. According to the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), advertising with promotional products directly correlates with improved brand recognition and increased sales. It’s also been shown to have a higher return on investment than other marketing strategies.

A major reason for investing in promotional products is to create increased brand awareness, especially in ways that resonate with your customers.

Want some compelling statistics?

  1. A study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 76.2% of people who received a promotional product in the past two years could remember the product, the company it came from, and the message behind the item.
  2. 80% of consumers own at least one promotional product, and over half of them use a promotional product at least once per week
  3. 60% of consumers keep promotional products for up to two years
  4. Including promotional products in advertising increases the effectiveness of other marketing by 44%
  5. In the PPAI survey, 52% of respondents did business with an advertiser after receiving a promotional product
  6. Promotional products create a more positive impression of the advertiser 53% of the time

Targeting Your Customers

Consumers like to receive promotional products, and as the numbers show, these products can have a big impact on spreading brand awareness and bringing in customers. But how can you ensure that your promotional products will do the same?

Think usefulness. You could come up with a fantastic idea for a promotional product, but if consumers don’t make use of it on a regular basis, its potential impact diminishes. It’s also important to consider the longevity of the product you’ll give away. If it can be used up within a month or two, it’s probably not the best choice for making a significant long-term impact.

Make yourself familiar with the term environmental targeting. This simply means giving away items to be used in an environment where your company’s services would be required. For instance, one of the items most popular with consumers is the USB stick, and if you’re a tech or software company, it makes sense to give away USBs branded with your logo. When consumers are using your USB at their computers, they’ll be reminded of your company, and since they’re working in an environment in which your services would be called upon, they are more likely to make the decision to invest in your business.

If possible, it’s helpful to give your customers a choice between a few different promotional items, to ensure that the items will actually be used. A survey by BPMA found the top four categories of promotional items were: the USB stick, electronic items, writing instruments, and mugs. Another way to speak to your customers is to give them an item personalized with their name or business, rather than just your logo.

Extend Your Advertising Reach

Promotional products can reach across time and space in ways that other forms of advertising can’t. Because consumers tend to keep promotional products around for long periods of time, there is the potential for many more impressions of your brand to be made than would come from a one-time newspaper or digital advertisement. A customer could wear your shirt while traveling somewhere outside of your advertising area, giving a new audience exposure to your brand.

And it’s also a good thing if consumers give away promotional items. Here’s a bonus statistic: 63% of consumers will pass along promo items they no longer want rather than throwing them away, creating more opportunities for new people to be exposed to your brand and, hopefully, become customers.

Giving away a promotional item can be a great way to break the ice with a potential customer in a way that a cold call could never do. And, a gift often creates an unspoken obligation on the part of the customer to do business with you; some consumers are even willing to switch to a different brand to receive a promotional gift. The relatively small investment you make in creating the product could lead to a valued relationship and a lot of sales from that customer down the road.

Promotional products are a great way to increase the impact of your advertising, and we’re here to help. Contact Paw Print & Mail today to start increasing your brand awareness, or visit our promotional products and branded apparel online store to shop ideas for your company.

 

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Wearing Your Brand Awareness

Corporate_Apparel_Paw_Print_And_MailIncorporating Brand Awareness in Your Business Strategy

As a business owner or manager, you have a lot on your plate. Every day, you have multiple people and projects competing for your attention. You have to ensure customer and employee satisfaction, generate new business, fulfill client needs, and consider potential business and marketing ventures. From the small details to the major decisions, you have a hand in each and every part of what makes your company run smoothly.

An essential piece of marketing your business that you’ll want to consider is creating brand awareness. In addition to ensuring customers know your company exists and the kinds of services and products you offer, brand awareness also includes consciousness about who your company is beyond the basics. The image your business portrays includes the quality of your services, the way you handle customer inquiries, and your company’s personality. Are you a start-up technology company focused on youth and innovation, an established construction business proud of time-tested methods and your connection to the community, or something in between?

Owning or managing a business comes with a plethora of responsibilities and considerations. When you think about incorporating brand awareness on top of all the things your company has to consider on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, it can seem overwhelming, right?

The impression you develop for your business can go a long way toward helping you to build a customer base and make a lasting connection with clients. And it’s easier than you may think to bring an effective brand awareness strategy to your business.

The Impact of Branded Corporate Apparel

Making an impression is all about perception, and a proven way to improve the perception of your business is to incorporate branded apparel into your marketing strategy.

Branded apparel is a cost-effective and relatively inexpensive way to increase brand awareness. While other forms of marketing are certainly necessary and successful, investing in branded apparel for your employees usually requires less of a financial investment than many of these strategies. And, the long-term impact of branded apparel is big, as it will be repeatedly seen by customers and the general public and continuously deliver you a return on investment.

Though it is relatively inexpensive, branded apparel can make a big impact. One of the strengths of branded apparel lies in its possibility to alter your relationships with customers, both current and potential.

It may seem like a relatively small change putting your logo on a shirt, coat, or hat, but having your employees wear these items becomes part of the personality of your company. In the minds of customers, branded corporate apparel is often associated with businesses that are well-established, large, and successful.

So, even if your company is relatively new to the marketplace, you can use branded apparel to convey to your intended audience that you are a professional in your field and have extensive knowledge of the products and services you offer. Your customers will have more confidence in choosing to purchase from your company, feeling that they are working with capable employees who are experts in their field.

When your employees wear branded apparel, they are acting as brand ambassadors for your company. And when customers see employees wearing clothing with your company logo, not only does it give the employees a sense of authority, it also conveys to the customer that the employees are proud of the company they work for and confident representatives of the product or service their company provides. If your employees consistently provide positive service for your customers, seeing the logo repeatedly on employee clothing is a reminder to customers that your company is reliable and has been good to them, making them more likely to continue to work with your business in the future.

Customers also equate branded products with quality, viewing a branded item as superior to an equal, unbranded product. Including your logo on employee clothing works from this idea, giving customers the impression that your business provides high-quality products, services, and customer care.

Need a compelling reason to incorporate branded apparel into your company culture? Consider these words:

  • Professional
  • Knowledgeable
  • Expert
  • Well-established
  • Authority
  • Reliable
  • High-quality

If you want your company to embody words like these, consider investing in branded apparel to increase the success of your brand awareness. Contact Paw Print & Mail today and inquire about our branded apparel services to find the perfect fit for your business.

 

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