Pretty, Professional, & Powerful: Printing with Foil

white folder with red text in metallic ink
The artwork on this folder was produced using an emboss covered with a red metallic foil.

Need something to make your printing pop? Create an eye-catching piece that will get your business noticed and remembered by adding a foil stamp to business cards, invitations, stationery, and other promotional materials

What is Foil Stamping?

Using foil to decorate printed materials has a long tradition. It ties back to the process of gilding, where items like picture frames or furniture are covered with a layer of gold leaf. Historically, manuscripts and books were also decorated with gold leaf and metallic foils.

Brochure imprinted with ink and silver foil
Metallic foils mimic the shine of a diamond on this brochure.

Today, decorating with metallic foil is certainly more common than gold leaf. With a range of materials and objects available for foil imprints, you can affordably add a touch of elegance to your promotional materials.

The Foil Process

The beginning of the process is similar to engraving or debossing. First, a metal die is etched with your design. The die goes into a stamping machine that feeds foil through a set of rollers. Three layers come together: the heated die on one side, foil in the middle, and paper on the other end. In one fluid motion, the die trims the foil to your design, then imprints it into the paper.

Watch foil stamping in action in this video:

Foil can be applied to the even surface of the paper, or it can be combined with other processes like embossing, where a die raises your design off the paper for a dimensional look.

Using Foil for your Business

Green folder with gold foil imprint
This presentation folder was printed with a gold foil.

Foil stamping has a wide range of applications and can be used for just about any project. Some popular uses include:

  • Business Cards: A business card is often a potential customer’s first point of contact with your business. Adding foil to your design will really wow a recipient.
  • Stationery: Create an eye catching and memorable look for your stationery and envelopes by printing them with foils.
  • Presentation Folders: Whether you’re hosting an event or want to organize your marketing materials into one package, presentation folders are an effective solution. And, they look especially striking when printed with metallic foils.
  • Promotional Materials & Packaging: A touch of foil on a booklet, brochure, gift bag, or custom box adds excitement to your products and offerings.
  • Invitations: Wedding and event invitations are one of the most popular places to use foils. Make your occasion even more special by printing an unforgettable invitation with foil stamping.

What’s the impact and benefit of adding foil stamping, embossing, or engraving to your printed image pieces? You’ll instantly make a remarkable and memorable impression. Hand someone a document with any of these finishes and then watch their hands and fingers sweep over the surface, like someone reading braille. This makes your effort “more” than just print. Your print is now making a physical and emotional connection. The power of print.

At Paw Print, we offer foil stamped, engraved, embossed and debossed products. Stop in today to explore our samples and foil choices, and see how foil stamping can help your brand make a positive and powerful impression.

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Understand Your Audience for Marketing Success

diverse audience of people facing forward
Background vector created by Freepik

How well do you know your audience?

It’s a question that marketers and fundraisers regularly ask themselves. You may have a general idea of the types of people who are purchasing your products or giving to your cause. But crafting compelling messages requires a deeper knowledge of what resonates with your constituents. The most effective campaigns are those that reach people on a relevant, personal level.

To create content that an audience connects and engages with, you need to understand what motivates them to act. Look beyond basic demographics, like age, gender, location, and income (though those are important to know). Think about what your typical customer needs—what will help them achieve a desire or resolve a fear? And, what are those desires and fears?

Once you know what drives your customers, current and potential, you can craft marketing messages that speak to and resonate with them. To learn what those messages are, you can consider specifics about what you’re offering. Why would someone buy this item? What are they hoping to achieve? Or, why would someone give to my organization? What outcomes are they hoping to achieve or be a part of?

The best way to understand what your audience wants and what matters to them is to talk to them. Send an email campaign asking your list what topics or offers they’d like to see more from you. Reach out on social media, encouraging people to share their opinions on blog posts and hot topics. Better yet, sit down face to face with a top client and talk about their needs and experiences, and how you can help them get where they want to be. This kind of information is invaluable as you work to better reach your customers and enhance their trust in you.

How Does Your Audience Consume Content?

young woman seated in cross legged position on floor using white tablet
People image created by Nensuria – Freepik.com

One piece of knowing your audience is understanding how they consume media and access your content. Your current marketing strategy may consist of a blog, email list, and a social media page or two. You’re proud of the content you produce, both visually and for the quality of the information.

But it’s important to remember that marketing is a constantly changing playing field. By sticking with methods you’ve used for a long time without understanding their effectiveness, you may be investing time and money into a channel or strategy that just isn’t performing.

It’s not to say that your current strategy isn’t working. It’s just important to make sure that it is, and to be aware of which channels have the greatest reach with your audience.

Take a good look at your marketing channels and ask yourself questions. How are people finding your blog? Are they going directly to your blog page, clicking an email link, or finding the post on social media? Are recipients opening your emails? How are people engaging with you?

Also think about your target audience. Are they using email? Are they on Facebook? If you want to connect with older folks, for instance, focusing on Facebook might not be as effective as direct mail.

Your current audience could also be different than the audience you’re looking to reach. Maybe your customer base largely consists of an older demographic, and you want to reach more millennials. If so, it’s important to recognize that a strategy that worked for one group may not work as well with another and to determine, over time, what channels to invest in to ensure you’re reaching your intended audience.

And, you may be surprised by what people are consuming and how they do so. Millennials, for instance, consistently open direct mail and report that they enjoy reading mail, more so than older generations.

Measure for Marketing Success

You want to gain a better understanding of what your audience finds compelling. But where to start?

Before you take on any new marketing strategies, you need to know what’s currently working for you and what isn’t. Tracking your marketing is essential for improving response rates and achieving new goals.

drawing of hand holding magnifying glass over line graph
Infographic vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Depending on the marketing channels you use, there are different ways to track effectiveness. On social media, it’s relatively easy to see what types of posts are performing best with your followers. What content is getting the most shares and comments? Those are the types of posts you want to share more often.

If you’re using email automation software, there are usually metrics available that track data. These include open and click-through rates, unsubscribes, and bounces. For your website, you can use an application like Google Analytics to understand how many visitors are coming to your page, how they get there, and what pages/links they go to on your site.

Direct mail can also be very trackable. Include a coupon or return envelope that the recipient will have to return to you. Or try using a code that must be entered online to receive the offer. When you know how many pieces of mail led to an action, you can determine what content generates a response.

Email and direct mail are also effective for A/B testing. This involves creating two versions of a campaign that differ by one element. For email, it could be two different subject lines, or two different offers or images for direct mail. Try sending out each version in equal quantities. Then, you can track which email is opened more or which imagery or words lead to more gifts from donors.

In addition to reaching more people more effectively, tracking makes it easier to work toward and achieve marketing goals. Setting specific goals for your business or organization is important. Say you want to increase customer retention rates by 15%. Tracking customer data allows you to monitor exactly who is purchasing from you and how certain content or offers are affecting return business.

Now that you know the importance of tracking, you can take on new campaigns with measurement in mind.

 Targeting

target with arrow in center surrounded by graphic representations of marketing elements
Background vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

A benefit of having more knowledge is being able to better target your audience. As you get to know your constituents, you’ll likely find several different groups within the larger group of your customer base. Rather than sending a generic message to your whole list, you can now craft multiple messages around what will motivate each group. Sending more targeted, relevant messages to your audience will increase response rates and engagement with you.

Targeting is possible across marketing channels. With direct mail, you can segment your mailing list into groups. Instead of a single mailing, you can create multiple versions of your mail piece with different wording, imagery, or offers, sending a different version to each group based on their needs and interests. You could also send a mailing to just one group if you have something specific for them.

Email is similar. Lists can be segmented based on how often recipients want to receive content from you, the types of content they want to receive, whether they are part of a customer loyalty program, etc. On your blog, you can create content for a variety of categories based on customer interests. At Paw Print, we write blog posts that are B2B and B2C related, and other posts with information specific to our nonprofit clients.

While social media posts appear to all your followers, you can target any ads that appear on social media sites. Today’s algorithms allow targeted ads that will appear to very specific audiences, such as women between 35 and 50 who are interested in travel.

Need help reaching your audience? At Paw Print & Mail, we’re prepared to assist you with developing marketing strategies that are targeted for your intended audience. From direct mail to copywriting to promotional products and content marketing, we have the tools to make your message heard. Contact us today!

Subtle and Effective: Printing with Emboss or Deboss

Embossing with gold foil reading Golden Blacksmith
Embossing gives your printing a unique look and feel. Ribbon vector created by Freepik.

When you think about printing you may be thinking of a printed sheet as a flat, 2D product. But in fact, what makes print such a compelling and effective medium is its physicality. Holding a printed item in your hand, whether it’s a brochure, postcard, or envelope, is shown to increase marketing success. Print boasts a 70% higher recall over digital, is trusted 34% more than digital, and is easier to process—92% of individuals ages 18-23 find it easier to concentrate on and process printed content.

Print has power. And when you’re able to get your printing in front of potential lead, you’ve got to make it count. You can make your printing more powerful by using artistic techniques like embossing and debossing.

What is Emboss?

Red folder decorated with embossing reading Cathedral Square Corporation in white
This folder was decorated using both a blind emboss (background image) and a one color emboss (text).

Embossing produces a raised, 3D effect on the printed item. It is visible on both sides of the piece: as a raised surface on the front, and an indention on the back side. Two dies, or metal plates, are used, one for the front and one for the back. The paper is sandwiched between the plates at high pressure to create the emboss.

You can use what is called a “blind emboss” where the raised surface is the same color as the paper. Or, you can apply ink or foils to make the emboss really pop.

What is Deboss?

Consider debossing as the opposite of embossing. Rather than creating a raised surface, debossing uses a die to imprint your logo or image into the surface material, giving an indented or depressed look. As with embossing, the debossed area can be filled with ink or foil, though a blind deboss is also a common choice.

debossed journal reading Behind the Barrel, Wild Turkey
Debossing is able to capture your artwork in fine detail.

While both embossing and debossing have been a part of the print industry for many years, you won’t see this method decorating just any product. Adding an emboss or deboss to your printing can give your items something extra, that’s sure to get noticed.

When you hand someone a business card that’s embossed or debossed, it’s guaranteed that they’ll pause and feel the textures, creating an instant “wow” impression. The same is true when receiving a letter on letterhead that’s embossed/debossed. If you want to make an impression, this method will do it!

Subtlety of Debossing with Promo

brown leather journal with white stitching and debossed artwork
Leather and faux leather materials are ideal surfaces for debossing.

Another area in which debossing has found popularity is with promotional products. Debossing looks impressive on paper. And it’s especially striking on items made of leather, faux leather, or vinyl. Journals, portfolios, and luggage tags are popular items on today’s promotional products market. Imprinting these products with a deboss rather than a screen print will create a very different look.

When deciding how to brand promo products, a common question is, how much branding? It’s always important when marketing with promo to know who your audience is and how they will be using your items. What you choose to imprint and how you do so are big pieces of that decision.

Often, branding is most effective when it is subtle. A potential customer may not want to use a journal with your logo imprinted in bold colors across the front. If they are just starting to work with your company, they probably aren’t ready for that level of brand engagement.

This is where a deboss can be the perfect solution. Blind debossing can create a more sophisticated look without being flashy. A smaller, debossed logo may be more impressive to a potential client than a large printed one. And, if they are more excited about the item, they’re more likely to start using it.

At Paw Print, we offer embossed, debossed, engraved, and foil stamped products. Stop in today to explore our samples and see how embossing and debossing can be excellent choices for your brand.

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A Special Way To Thank Major Donors

woman in white t-shirt holding thank you gift box
Ribbon image created by Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com

One of the most important pieces of the nonprofit fundraising puzzle is discovering new and creative ways to thank your donors. Promotional products are an increasingly popular way to say thank you to donors while also spreading awareness of your organization.

When you add promo to your fundraising strategy, you may want to do so by developing a gift program. Presenting your top donors with a special gift in the form of a promotional product can solidify your relationship with them. And, when you provide a donor with a quality item they’ll be using frequently, you’re helping to spread the word about your organization even further.

What to Remember

A good practice to follow when gifting promotional products is to use the gift as a surprise. Depending on what the item is, you can present it before the donation is made or after. However, you want to avoid presenting the item in a transactional way, as in, give $50 to receive this mug. A study conducted at Yale found that we feel positive about giving when it instills a sense of altruism in us, a feeling that we’ve selflessly done something to help others. We’re giving to get that feeling. But, when we know that our contribution will be rewarded in some way (my dollars for this mug) we tend to feel selfish rather than selfless, leading us to give less.

Instead, presenting a potential donor with a gift before a donation is made instills a sense of reciprocity. And surprising donors with something special after they’ve selflessly given helps build a positive feeling for your organization.

In addition to when you present the gift, consider how you will present it. The language you use is important. Donors will feel more positive about the gift if you present it as a tool to further your mission. You can tell the donor how their use of the item will help to spread awareness of your organization, increasing their engagement with you and making them eager to use the gift you’ve given.

Top Gifts to Thank Top Donors

brown leather journal with tie laying on wooden boards
These debossed leather refillable journals have a soft feel and a high-end look donors will love.

While you may have varying levels of gifts to thank all your donors, your top donors deserve something special. These are the individuals who consistently make game-changing contributions to your organization. This often means financially, but it may also be someone who invests their time and expertise into helping your organization to grow and its beneficiaries to shine.

Whomever you are looking to thank, here are some gifts your donors will appreciate:

Branded Journal

Journals and portfolios are a popular item on today’s promo market. With a range of sizes and styles, it’s easy to find an item that fits with your brand and your message. Decorating a journal with a deboss or hot foil stamp is a subtle and professional way to brand, giving the item added texture and depth.

Etched Pen

There’s no getting around it—we spend a lot of time in front of screens. However, there are still times when only a hand-written note will do. You can make the writing experience enjoyable for your donors by presenting them with a higher-end metal or hardwood pen. Decorating the pen with an etching will give it a classy look.

black metal pen etched with Panasonic logo

Apparel Item

young woman wearing red fleece jacket and khaki pantsA high-quality apparel item embroidered with your logo is something many donors would love to receive, and to wear. Apparel is the most popular group of items in the promo industry. And it represents a major way to spread awareness about your organization. You could present your top donors with an embroidered jacket, vest, hat, scarf or socks. They’ll be sure to wear the item throughout the day, bringing your name with them to everyone they meet.

red metal hydroflask water bottle imprinted with white CSI logoDrinkware Items

I use a water bottle and a travel mug nearly every day. It’s likely many of your donors do as well. It’s important to me that these items are durable and functional, and that they are representative of myself and the things that matter to me. Presenting your top donors with a stainless steel etched tumbler or water bottle is sure to make an impression, both on your donors and their friends, families, and coworkers.black coffee mug with Fenton Construction Logo

Want to make your gift even more personal? Some products can be decorated using variable data printing methods. This means that in addition to including your nonprofit’s logo or tagline on the gift, you can personalize each item with the name or initials of the donor. If you want to wow your donors with a unique gift, this is the way to go.

Paw Print & Mail offers a wide variety of promotional products, and we’re ready assist you with finding the right promo for your donors. Explore our online catalog, or contact us today and start promoting your nonprofit with promotional products.

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Finding Graphic “Arts” Again with Engraving

sample engraving, the beauty of engraving

It’s no secret that digital printing revolutionized the print industry. It has allowed commercial printers to print more, faster, while maintaining quality and consistency across a print job.

And those are all good things. However, the beauty of printing lies in its versatility. While sometimes a short turnaround time is needed, there are occasions when producing a piece using more traditional and artistic techniques is better suited for your brand or message. These so called “old school” processes aren’t as commonly seen these days, but the impression they leave is one of quality, craftsmanship, and class.

Engraving

One such technique is engraving, a printing process that’s been around since the mid-15th century. In fact, there is evidence of humans etching on shells as far back as 500,000 years ago. Engraving has a long history. It’s a time honored tradition that creates not just a finished product, but a piece of art.

To engrave, copper or zinc plates are first etched by hand or by machine. The etched plates are then coated with ink and passed through a printing press under high pressure. This gives the piece a raised look and unique, textured feel.

Watch the process in action in this video:

The Beauty of Engraving by I DO Films from Beauty of Engraving on Vimeo.

As you can see, this is a hands-on process involving many steps. And it’s worth the extra effort. Engraving catches fine details that may be lost during digital printing, creating a finished piece with a look and feel that stands out from the crowd. Want to make a good first impression with your stationery? Engraving will hit the mark.

Like what you see? At Paw Print, we offer engraved, embossed, debossed, and foil stamped products. Stop in today to explore our samples and see how engraving can be an excellent choice for your brand.

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Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Speak Volumes

What does it mean to you to be a Vermonter? One thing that has always been a piece of the Vermont brand, and that’s a part of my philosophy, is minimizing our environmental impact. Vermont is overflowing with locally produced items that breathe quality and sustainability. It’s an essential part of who we are as a community.

In the business world, it’s crucial that you can back up your claims.  You want your marketing, including promotional products, to accurately reflect your brand and its core beliefs. If your company has an eco-friendly focus and you’re looking to market your brand with promotional products, there are several options available produced with sustainability in mind.

Vegan Leather

black backpack made of vegan leather labeled with gravity logo in white ink
There are several vegan leather products available. Products include bags, wallets, luggage tags, tablet covers and portfolios.

While leather has long been a base material for many apparel and accessory products, there are concerns regarding its ethical and environmental costs. Many consumers today are choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle, not only in what they eat, but also regarding the physical products they wear and use. Even those who aren’t committed vegans find issue with the leather production process. It’s problematic for the animals, the environment, and the individuals who tan and cure the leather.

Vegan leather is essentially another term for faux leather. Non-leather alternatives have been on the market for a while, but vegan leather is now taking the accessories market by storm. Bags, watch bands, journals and many more vegan leather products are in high demand. Another factor in its favor is the cost—it’s more affordable than true leather options.

black purse vegan leather with tassel on left
The fashion industry has long been aware of vegan leather, ensuring the availability of several stylish products.

While vegan leather is a synthetic product, the apparel industry is getting smarter and pickier about the materials used to compose their vegan leather. This ensures that consumers can confidently purchase leather alternatives, knowing they are making an eco-friendly choice.

 

 

Biodegradable and Recycled Pens

black, gold and blue eco-friendly pens made of paper and biodegradable plastic
These pens are made of recycled paper and a biodegradable plastic-like material made of corn.

Pens are a staple promotional product, for good reason. They’re inexpensive, useful, and great to give away. However, pens do have a short lifespan compared to other promotional products and are generally not reusable.

The good news is, the pen market is robust, and many vendors are concerned about the impact their products have on the environment. Several options are composed of recycled paper, a corn-based plastic, or a combination of both. In addition to being composed of natural and recycled material, these pens are biodegradable, and have a unique look and feel.

A Shirt Made from Soda Bottles

red haired woman wearing red t shirt and jeans
These blended tees are partially made with recycled plastic bottles.

Recycled options aren’t limited to promotional accessories—there are also eco-conscious options when it comes to apparel. Only a small portion of textiles are currently recycled. But we can expect that number to grow as more consumers are actively calling for greater sustainability in the apparel market.

Several vendors are producing clothing using a portion of recycled materials, including plastic bottles and fibers from other garments. These items maintain the quality of new fiber while giving consumers added peace of mind.

Refillable Portfolios

We may live in a digital world, but there are always times when we need to hand write notes.  A popular trend this year is the reusable portfolio. These items typically consist of a durable outer cover with removable and replaceable inner notepads.

eco-friendly vinyl portfolios three standing upright and two laying open on a table with a pen
These vinyl portfolios have a unique look and feel, and are composed of 100% recycled materials.

Composed of high-quality leather, faux leather, or recycled vinyl, these portfolios are a nice branding opportunity that consumers are sure to use again and again. They are perfect for debossing, which gives the piece a professional look and feel.

Are you interested in marketing with promotional products? We have a wide variety of items, including eco-friendly options, available in our online catalog. Contact us and start a conversation about how promo can help your business today.

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Choose the Right Paper for Your Brand

samples of textured stock in a variety of colors
A selection of color choices for textured stock.

What does “printing” mean to you? The first thought that may come to mind is sending a document to a home or office printer and receiving a print-out on white 8.5″ x 11″ paper.

But this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the capabilities of print. Standard printer paper works great for everyday documents. But when it comes to marketing your business, it’s important to consider the qualities of the paper you’ll be using, including:

  • Color
  • Coating
  • Texture
  • Weight

Not all paper is created equal, and different stocks have different roles to play. When it comes to paper, consider: what impression are you looking to create? Also, who is your audience? What message are you communicating? The paper you choose can influence the perception of your business, as well as the look and feel of your finished pieces. Even if a piece looks nice on a certain stock, if that stock isn’t aligned with your brand, you may not make the right impact.

The added dimension of paper is what makes print differ so much from digital. When you create something digitally, it generally appears the same across all platforms. But with print, your artwork can have a vastly different look depending on which stock it is printed on. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to consider which paper you’ll use: you don’t want to spend time creating a winning design but print it on mismatched paper.

Which Stocks?

At Paw Print, our clients generally choose stocks from these 3 categories:

Coated

Coated stocks have a smooth finish and a shine to them. They are ideal for image-focused print jobs, like brochures, posters, postcards or booklet covers. If you plan to include large photographs that you want to pop and impress your audience, a coated stock is the right choice.

The coating can be composed of a variety of compounds, but it essentially works as a sealant to the paper. Since the stock is less porous, inks will stay close to the surface of the page rather than being absorbed, referred to as ink holdout. This provides you with greater color contrast, vibrancy, and sharpness.

Glossy stocks can have a glare, but there are varying levels of brightness to choose from. If you want the look and feel of coated stock without a heavy shine, you can go with a duller coating.

boys and girls club annual report cover with young girl smiling in front of purple background
A recent job we printed on coated stock for the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington. Note the shine and vibrancy of the colors.

When considering a glossy stock, it’s important to think about the end use of your print job. Coated stocks are not a good choice if you want to be able to write on the product. You can use stocks that are coated on one side (C1S) but not on the other. This works well for greeting cards—your artwork will stand out on the front, and you’ll still be able to write on the inside.

The coating gives the paper more weight, so it will feel heavier and of higher quality than an uncoated stock. Though coated stocks can be more expensive than uncoated, they give an upgraded look to your print job. Coated stocks are usually white.

Uncoated

Uncoated stocks have a smooth, soft finish, but without the shine, giving you a more matte look. Since it has not been coated, the paper is more porous. It will absorb the inks differently than a coated stock.

This style has a wider range of applications than the coated stock. We use uncoated paper for business cards, envelopes, stationery, letterhead, and more. Uncoated stocks are ideal if you’re planning to write on the finished piece.

And, while coated stocks are generally white, uncoated paper comes in a variety of colors. Even within a neutral palette, you can go from stark white to more ivory and natural colors. Just a touch of color in the stock can help elevate the impression your piece will make.

Textured Paper

a sampling of Classic style textured paper stock
A sampling of different texture options available in uncoated stock.

While both coated and uncoated stocks have a tactile element to them, textured stocks bring a new dimension to paper choices. You can print on stocks with a linen or felt texture, or with the look and feel of a wood grain. Depending on which texture you choose, the paper can feel softer or rougher and more substantial.

Textured stocks work well for embossing and debossing and will pop when printed with metallic inks.  If you’re looking to wow potential customers with a promotional piece, textured stocks will certainly make an impression.

artistic rendering of a playing card in white and silver ink printed on a blue paper stock
An embossed design coated with metallic ink and printed on a textured stock.

What Does Paper “Weight” Mean?

When you talk about paper in a general sense, you may say “I want a thicker paper.” In the printing world, we refer to paper in terms of its weight. The basis weight of paper is measured by the ream, in pounds per 500 uncut sheets of the stock. If we’re talking about 70 lb. text, it means that 500 sheets of that paper weighs 70 lbs. If we go up to a 120 lb. text, it means 500 sheets of that paper weighs 120 lbs. Thus it is a heavier, thicker paper than the 70 lb.

Another way to refer to different stock weights is by “text” and “cover.” Text stock is like the pages of a book, while cover stocks are heavier, like cardstock. An 80 lb. text stock is lighter than an 80 lb. cover. Cover stocks are best for covers of booklets, business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc., while text stock is best for inside pages of books or notepads.

If this all seems confusing, it can be—you’re not alone. At Paw Print, we know paper, and we’re here to answer all your stock questions. If you’re ready for a new print job but don’t know where to start, stop in and explore our stock sample library, while we guide you through the options.

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Boost Your Fundraising with Celebrity Status Donors

illustration of small man talking through large megaphone
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

$44 million. That’s how much was raised during a telethon last September hosted to support victims of Hurricane Harvey. Oprah and Beyoncé joined a cast of celebrities encouraging people to give and fielding calls from donors.

And remember those sad ASPCA commercials starring Sarah McLachlan? The ASPCA raised $30 million in just the first two years of that campaign.

These numbers are admittedly larger than many nonprofits can expect to see from any one campaign. But they show the effectiveness of influencer marketing. It’s an increasingly popular marketing trend, where companies partner with well-known celebrities, politicians, and business people to promote their products. And, it’s an effective sales tool—in 2016, revenue generated from influencer marketing on Instagram alone topped $570 million.

You’ve probably seen countless celebrities starring in commercials as a spokesperson for one product or another. But influencer marketing can be much more involved, with influencers sharing their personal stories and placing themselves behind brands.

As we can see from the examples above, having influential people spread the word about a company or product isn’t limited to marketing. It is also an effective fundraising tool that many nonprofits have made use of.

Consumers trust word-of-mouth much more than any advertisement. Fundraising is similar. According to The Georgetown Digital Persuasion Survey, 65% of donors learn about causes from friends and family. Even if potential donors don’t know an influencer personally, seeing a friendly face creates a connection, often leading to greater awareness of and engagement with that organization.

And, as we know, compelling a donor to give requires making a connection with them. If you’re struggling to do just that, influencers can be helpful, because their stories come across as personal, legitimate, and real.

What Constitutes an Influencer?

Sometimes influential people will discover your organization on their own, organically sharing and promoting your mission. Often, however, it’s up to you to cultivate a relationship with individuals you believe have significant influential power to impact your nonprofit.

So, who will you reach out to? Just because a person is influential does not mean they are a good fit to promote your organization. You’ll want to consider how this person and the audience they influence are connected to you and your mission.

First, define your audience. Who are you trying to reach? If your nonprofit works on a local level, consider regional politicians or local celebrities as influencers. And if your work covers a wider area, look for individuals recognizable nationally or internationally.

Also look at demographics. Maybe you’re hoping to increase the number of millennial donors, as your donor base is aging. Reach out to younger influencers who know how to communicate with that demographic. They’ll understand how to best connect your mission with outcomes millennials are looking to achieve.

Lastly, does this influencer embody your mission? If you’re promoting environmental advocacy, it makes sense to connect with individuals known for supporting this cause. Whatever your goals, make sure your influencer makes sense for what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach.

Influencers don’t necessarily have to be known to a wide variety of people. If they are influential within their field or niche, and the field or niche you’re looking to reach, you can create a successful partnership.

The Power of Social Media

One place that influencers have power is on social media. They often have a large, established base of followers that look forward to hearing from them. By generating compelling content that’s tied to the message or mission of a nonprofit, social media mavens can attract a lot of attention for your organization, making a wider audience of people aware of you and compelling them to give.

illustration reading influencer of social media post with man holding magnet attracting likes
Design vector created by Freepik

The Georgetown Digital Persuasion Survey found that 68% of donors decide to give after interacting with a cause through social media. While donors may first encounter one of your social pages, their first contact with you may be from an influencer’s post.

Think of the viral ice bucket challenge from a few years back. Many people became aware of the cause and chose to donate from seeing celebrities and friends completing the challenge, rather than engaging with an official page from the ALS Association.

You can identify potential influencers by examining engagement with your social posts. There are likely certain individuals who frequently share or comment on your content. As with any influencer, social media influencers can have a larger or more modest following, popular on a national or regional scale. Adding a few of these individuals as influencers can have a larger impact than you might think.

It may seem intimidating to ask a well-known person to promote your organization. But it doesn’t have to be. Not every influencer has to be a VIP. Start small, whether by reaching out to people with a smaller circle of influence or just by asking for a minor commitment to start. You could invite a potential influencer to attend or speak at an event, or to volunteer with you for one day. Over time, it will feel natural to increase the influencer role as your relationship with that individual deepens.

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What Makes Donors Tick?

Making a personal connection with potential donors is a critical piece of the giving process. But how much should you really know about your donors?

In this video from Movie Mondays, Brent Hafele from NewDay Nonprofit Solutions discusses how understanding the passion that compels a donor to give can lead to deeper relationships and larger, more meaningful gifts.

What do you think of Brent’s experience? What insights do you have about what makes donors tick? Comment and let us know.

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Hot Branded Products for 2018

2018 written with sparklers
donorlynk.com

What will 2018 be for you? At Paw Print, we’re looking ahead to a year of adventure, movement, and being outdoors. It’s no coincidence that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018, Ultra Violet, is described as a “thoughtful” and “forward-thinking” hue.

Expect this theme to carry over into promotional products this year. There are many items on the market encouraging exploration, environmental advocacy, and activity. You can ensure these descriptions come to define your business by incorporating related promotional products into your marketing strategy.

A key rule of an effective promotional product: it must be something your audience will use. Here are some items consumers will want to use, again and again.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles:

Let’s face it—we live in a world run by plastic. So many of the items we encounter daily are composed partly or entirely of plastic.

What’s a better alternative? Metal.

Metal water bottles give a sense of quality and class—this is not your average drink ware. Expect to see a preference for metal and glass bottles to continue through 2018. Metal water bottles, specifically those composed of stainless steel, are long lasting, durable, healthier and travel well. They’re at home at your office meeting or on top of a mountain.

Other benefits of stainless steel bottles include:

  • Don’t retain flavors: ensure a fresh taste with every drink
  • Toxin free: even BPA-free plastic can leach other toxins into your drinks
  • Keeps drinks colder and hotter for longer periods
  • Money saver: over time, using a reusable metal bottle versus disposable plastic will save consumers a significant chunk of change
  • Environmental benefits: most disposable plastic water bottles are not recycled, and require a lot of energy and fossil fuels to manufacture and distribute

two promotional metal water bottles

 

A popular style on the market today, this 17 oz bottle can be ordered in a variety of finishes and colors. Composed entirely of stainless steel, the bottle includes copper vacuum insulation to keep your beverages cool or hot throughout the day. With a sleek design and quality materials, stainless steel bottles are sure to be popular with your customers and employees.

 

glass water bottle with steel lid decorated with orange and pink dunkin donuts logo

 

If glass is a better fit for you, this 20 oz option includes a steel cap and full glass body. Though perhaps not the best choice for more strenuous adventures, glass still offers an environmentally friendly solution and is a great branding opportunity. You can imprint all water bottles with the logo of your choice.

 

Doohickey:

silver and black carabiner tools

Have you ever looked at an unidentifiable item and wondered, what’s this doohickey? The official doohicKey brings many doohickeys into one. You can measure, cut, tighten hardware, and open bottles, all with one tool.

I can think of several occasions where I knew exactly what item I needed, but just didn’t have it. You’ve probably been in similar situations, as have your customers. The doohicKey is a multi-functional tool for on-the-spot action. It’s made of stainless steel, so it’s sure to last.  You’ll stay top of mind with your audience when you engrave the doohicKey with your logo. They’ll be prepared for anything!

Promotional Socks:

When you get dressed in the morning, there’s a pretty good chance socks are included in your outfit for the day. If you work in a corporate position, there may be a dress code that makes it hard for you to express your personality. But you can add a bit of character to your outfit with fun socks.

colorful promotional sock on foot depicting corporate logo

Now you can give your company some extra personality with socks branded with your logo. Create a fun and functional promotional giveaway with both full color print and embroidery options.

two striped socks embroidered with business logos on cuff

When I was a kid, socks were a bit of a disappointing gift; but now, I always look forward to receiving a fun new pair for my collection. Fans of your brand will be eager to wear your socks wherever life takes them.

Want to add energy and excitement to your branding? Incorporating fun promotional items like these into your marketing strategy is sure to turn some heads. At Paw Print & Mail, we can help you find just the right promotional products to promote your company. Stay tuned next week for our top picks for apparel in 2018!

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