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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!
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:
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.
At Paw Print, our clients generally choose stocks from these 3 categories:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!
Provocative. Thoughtful. Forward thinking. What do these words mean to you? They’ve been used to describe the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the shade, Ultra Violet has been chosen as the most fitting color for the year ahead. We’ll likely be seeing it everywhere. But what is Pantone, and how does a color become the Color of the Year?
The Power of Color
When you think about a brand, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many consumers, it’s color. We tend to make judgments about products within 90 seconds of first seeing them. And, up to 90 percent of our decision is based on color alone.
Color is an essential piece of branding. To ensure a color is associated with your brand, you need to be consistent with it. This means that for uniformity, the exact shade must be used across marketing. The same shade of green for every Starbucks sign, the same red for each Coke bottle, and the same yellow for each imprint of McDonald’s’ golden arches. A color can even be trademarked if it is determined to be a critical distinguishing element of your brand.
The easiest way for printers to ensure color consistency is by using a color matching system. Such systems assign a unique number to each shade, tint, and hue. There are many variations of “light blue.” But with a color matching system like Pantone, any printer anywhere can recreate the exact shade of blue you’re looking for just by knowing its numerical ID.
Pantone isn’t the only system of its kind, but it is the most well-known. In the 1960s Pantone was a printing company that produced, among other things, color charts for different industries. But at that time, colors were printed based on color name, which led to reprints and inefficiency. Pantone employee Lawrence Herbert bought the company and released the first Pantone Matching System (PMS) guide in 1963, to reduce variability in color printing.
At Paw Print, we use Pantone regularly to ensure the color side of printing goes as smooth as possible. Knowing the PMS color of your logo makes it easy for us to guarantee color consistency across all your print materials. With over 1,800 colors defined for printing by Pantone, we’re sure to find the right shade for your brand.
Pantone Puts Color on Trend
Over the years, Pantone has expanded its market to provide color standards for other industries as well, including interior design and fashion. Because of this, Pantone is more tuned-in than ever to the color trends that consumers are looking for—and they’re setting trends themselves.
In 2000, they launched their first Color of the Year, a Cerulean blue. Cerulean was associated with optimism. This reflected the cultural pulse and current events of that time as we prepared to enter a new century.
With each color since, Pantone has followed the same process: paying attention to world events and gauging current emotional and cultural trends. Every December, they release their chosen color for the following year. The color is especially important to designers. It sets trends for apparel, home décor, and other consumer products that will be followed throughout the year to come.
In addition to releasing the color, Pantone produces licensed products like mugs and suitcases, which are popular with a broad market. Earlier this year, they released “Love Symbol #2,” a purple shade created to honor music icon Prince. They’ve also worked with Sephora to develop makeup palates focused on the Color of the Year, showing how important color is for personal as well as corporate branding.
What do you think of Ultra Violet? How would you use this color? Let us know!
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!
It’s the season of giving, and as you celebrate the holidays with family and friends, you may be feeling a renewed sense of generosity and goodwill. At this time of year many of us give not only to those on our gift lists, but also to those who may be struggling to feel the same good cheer that we’ve come to expect during the holiday season.
Many companies choose to give back during the holidays as well. Your business can make an impact by making charitable giving a part of your business model, not only seasonally, but year-round. This kind of altruism isn’t just good for the spirit—it has important benefits for your business as well.
How Charitable Giving Helps Businesses
Giving Motivates Your Employees
While the good vibes of giving a gift may fade after a short while, long-term involvement with a charitable organization has lasting and powerful effects on employee satisfaction. A 2017 survey by Great Place to Work found that employees who had a positive experience of giving back at their companies were:
4 times more likely to give extra to get a job done
More likely to be brand ambassadors
More likely to want to stay at their companies long-term
Another study by the Cone Cause found that employees involved in causes through their company were 28% more likely to be proud of their company’s values and 36% more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty than employees who were not involved. Philanthropy can also help employees bond as they work together for a cause, building a strong sense of teamwork and morale.
Generate Positive Vibes for Your Brand
When you make a long-term, involved commitment with a charitable organization, awareness of your brand spreads throughout the community. At the same time that you’re doing good, your community learns who your brand is and what matters to you. You’re building connections with members of your community, and your name will be talked about locally in a positive light. And, because word-of-mouth is the top way that consumers make decisions about brands and products, you’ll be generating positive conversations about your brand that will lead consumers to look to you for future needs.
Stand Out from the Crowd
Since not all companies are going to incorporate charitable giving, doing so differentiates you from your competition. The Cone Cause found that in the last year, 41% of Americans bought products because those items were associated with an issue or cause. Consumers, especially millennials, are more willing to purchase products or services from companies that support causes. There is an added sense of trust and of humanity that is present when a brand’s values align with those of consumers—which leads to increased customer loyalty.
Sometimes donations of funds, items, and some volunteer expenses can be deducted from your taxes. Ask your accountant for more specific information on how you might do this.
Walk the Talk
First, consider why you are giving back and what cause you will give to. The more personal your causes and reasons for giving are, the more genuine you will come across. And, the easier it will be to share your story. Maybe you or a loved one was helped by a cause, and you want to support others experiencing similar situations. Or maybe you recognize certain opportunities or advantages you’ve had and want others to have those same opportunities. It’s not the size of the gift but the sincerity of your giving that matters most.
Also think about how your chosen cause ties in with your company. If you sell pet food and supplies, you could support local pet shelters. At the same time you’re helping animals find loving homes, you’re creating potential customers for your business who will need to shop for their new pet. Or if you sell women’s clothing, you could sponsor a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Many of your customers may have had experience with cancer or know someone who has, so you’ll be deepening the connections you have with them.
Other Ways to Give
Have a portion of overall profits or overall proceeds from a certain product or service go to a charity.
Design a product or service specifically for the cause you want to support. You don’t have to give 100% of profits to the charity. But you can market the product as created with the intention of supporting a specific group or cause.
Market products as buy one, give one—consumers know each item they buy will be matched and given to someone in need.
Set up scholarships to help students succeed. If you’re a tech company, you could support a scholarship that allows students access to special opportunities like coding classes or workshops.
Whichever strategy you decide to use, it’s essential that you are consistent in what you give and when you give. Maybe you decide to give quarterly. You can tell your customers that in the last 3 months you were able to give a specific amount with their support.
Contributing financially to a charity is admirable. However, giving money alone will not have the same impact on your employees or your community as getting involved. Encourage employees to participate in events, serve food at a food shelf, or personally drop off donations. Some companies incorporate days into their annual schedule that employees can take off to volunteer. Consider closing the office for a day and being present to support your cause at a big event.
Being more deeply involved increases your company’s connection to your community, is more meaningful and enjoyable for employees, and helps build your story. Your contributions to an organization are more meaningful and impactful if they grow and evolve over time. And, if you personally interact with your cause, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who your cause is helping and how they are benefitting from its services. The deeper that understanding, the better you’ll be able to share your story and gain more support for the organization and for your business.
These days, we can pretty much find anything we’re looking for on the internet. We shop, research, and connect with others in the digital realm. And it’s where most marketers are being coached to put their resources.
It’s true that digital is here to stay, and it’s opened up a world of possibilities for marketers. However, print still holds a place of prominence in the marketing world. Print has a 70% higher recall than digital,and about 80% of direct mail is opened. With fewer marketers investing in print, it represents an opportunity to give your marketing strategy a unique touch.
A lot of different items go through our doors at Paw Print, but our most popular item consistently continues to be business cards. Often a business card is one of the first things a customer or potential client will receive from you. A well-designed business card can go a long way towards creating a favorable impression of your business, as well as generating engaging conversations between you and your customers.
Why Should You Print Business Cards?
The traditional function of a business card is to provide customers and professional colleagues with contact information, like your phone number, address, and website. While business cards today tend to offer variations of this content, the truth is that this information is easy to find on the web. Having it in a physical form is helpful, but is not as essential as it was in the past.
The key role of a business card today is to make an impression. Your card needs to say something about your brand that goes beyond how to contact you. To be the most effective, you need a card that recipients will want to hang on to, so that you will stay top of mind and clients will keep coming back to you for their needs.
Business Card Design Tips
1) Aligned with Your Branding
Consumers today access content from numerous sources, and they expect to be able to move across platforms seamlessly. This includes print, and it means that all of your marketing platforms should consistently utilize the same visual design elements, like color, layout, font, and images. You will want your business cards to contain these same elements because your card is a reflection of your brand. If your card doesn’t accurately reflect who your company is and what customers can expect from you, it will lead to confusion.
2) Focus on Quality
One of the benefits of print is that there are many paper stocks to choose from. This leads to a wide range of variations in the color, thickness, and feel of paper. It’s important to remember that your business card functions to create a favorable impression of your business, so don’t skimp on quality. A heavier stock has a superior feel and speaks confidence and quality. Your customers will be able to tell and feel the difference.
3) Ensure Readability
It’s important to remember that digital files look different than a final printed product will. Just because you can read something when it’s blown up on a computer screen does not mean it will be as easy to read when printed. Make sure your text is both large enough to read and clear, so that it is not obscured by complicated font or design elements.
4) Talk to Your Printer
Sometimes text or borders can get cut off if they aren’t far enough from the edge of the card. Ask your printer where to place information so it won’t be lost when printed and trimmed.
5) Don’t Forget the Back!
Many business cards are only printed on one side, leaving an empty side you could be using to make more of an impression. While you don’t want both sides to be the same, you can use the back of the card to include another design element or more details about your services. It gives the impression that you offer a well-rounded product or service.
6) Get Creative & Design for Impact
A business card doesn’t have to be a flat, simple rectangle. Printing options today allow for many variations on texture and shape. You could do a deboss on a card to achieve a 3D effect, or use cutouts for a creative touch. Other “wow” enhancements include engraving, foil stamping, thermography (raised ink), die cut shapes, and spot coatings.
7) Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity
Consider the bare essentials that you must include on your card. If you really want to drive traffic to digital resources, for instance, don’t include a physical address on the card. Trying to cram too much information and too many design elements onto a small card could make it memorable for the wrong reasons. Simplicity portrays professionalism and the sense that you make things easy for your customers.
8) Convey an Emotion
A big piece of the marketing pie is that people buy on emotion. Consider what emotion you want recipients of your card to experience. This requires a bit more thought, as you have to know who your clients are and what solution or sense of fulfillment they are looking for from your business. How can you portray what you will offer your clients? Try to capture the enthusiasm you have for your business in the card you hand out.
Print has stuck around because of its tactile power. Being able to hold something in your hands improves recall and sends a more personal message than a digital communication. If you’d like to add business cards to your marketing strategy, or feel your current card needs some love, contact Paw Print & Mail today to start the discussion.
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!
Each morning as I prepare for work, I gather up the essentials: keys, phone, lunch, and travel mug. Whether I’m in the mood for coffee or tea, starting my day with a hot beverage is part of my routine, and it’s probably part of yours too. My mug gets a lot of use, but it’s not only functional—it also makes a statement. With a bright colored body and bold logo, my mug shows that I’m a proud graduate of my college. I’m not just drinking coffee; I’ve become a brand ambassador for my school.
While I could use any mug, I chose one that makes a statement with bold branding because the connection to my school is an important part of who I am. However, such branding is not the right fit for every product or every customer. Sometimes a subtler branding approach may lead to more engagement from a prospective customer—and more sales and leads for your business.
Why Use Promotional Products?
Branded promotional items are everywhere these days. It’s likely you have several yourself. Promo marketing includes the basics, like branded apparel, mugs, and pens, and also things like golf balls, kitchen items, and car accessories. You could even get a branded toaster, if you wanted. Your options for promotional products are nearly unlimited. But what is the real benefit to using them?
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.
Including promotional products in your larger marketing strategy increases the effectiveness of your other marketing methods by 44%. And a study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 52% of survey respondents did business with a company after receiving a promotional product from them. Promotional product marketing increases brand awareness and gives your company an edge over the competition.
Where Do I Start?
The key to effective promotional products is that they must be useful to your audience. An item like a pen will get widespread use. But to make the most of promo marketing, you have to think deeper about your customers. You may create a quality product. But if your target audience doesn’t regularly use that item, your marketing will not be as effective.
So, if you have a fitness center, you could have branded water bottles or t-shirts. Or, if you’re in the technology field, try mousepads or USB drives. If your customers not only use the products, but use them when they’re making decisions related to the products or services you offer, you’ll stay at the top of their minds.
Functionality is essential, but another factor to consider is the branding itself. Sticking your logo all over an item may not always be the answer. How much branding is too much branding?
The Subtle Branding Approach
There are a number of ways to include promo products in your marketing. You can give them away at events, or sell them. You can wear them. And you can include them in a mailing package to reach out to prospects or to thank current customers.
Each of these approaches connects you with a different audience. One way you can differentiate is to choose a level of branding that corresponds to your audience’s level of brand awareness.
In the example of my mug, I want to be a brand ambassador and use a product that promotes and reminds me of my college. That level of branding appeals to me in this instance, but it won’t appeal to everyone. It may seem that placing your logo on an item your audience regularly uses would be a win-win—they’ll use the item, and your business will be promoted. But if you go overboard with branding, it could be too much for people who aren’t already affiliated with you, and you run the risk of your item not being used at all.
The more personal and/or professional a promotional product is, and depending on how, when, or by whom it may be used, the subtler your branding on that item can be. For example, a journal or portfolio binder are items a professional may enjoy receiving. But, will they tend to use it if your logo is splashed all over it? Such an item is more “yours” than “theirs,” so consider this when designing and purchasing certain types of promotional products.
You could choose to keep your branding, but tone it down. Maybe you convert your colorful logo to a neutral black or gray. You still include it on a promotional item. But, make it smaller and place it on a sleek, quality product that will impress your audience.
Another way to be subtle is to include branding that is not specific to your company. You can position the promotional item to elicit a concept or best practice that your audience can relate to. Say you’re a company focused on energy efficiency. You could have promo items like an eco-friendly water bottle or journal decorated with an image, phrase, or artwork that your customer base (environmental advocates who support clean, efficient energy practices) will relate to. It represents your company more subtly than a basic logo.
If I were a long-time customer of your energy company, I may be likely to use a product branded with just your logo. I support what you do, and I want other people to understand your mission and utilize your services. But if I were a prospective customer who was just learning about you, a product emblazoned with your logo is more likely to end up collecting dust. If you can connect with your audience based on a concept they relate to, you’re taking a step towards making them customers and brand ambassadors.
What’s your take—should companies use more or less branding on a promotional product? What branded products have you received and love to use? Let us know!
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!
If you’re regularly on the internet, you’re probably encountering blogs on a daily basis. Blogs are everywhere—some people even blog for a living. Content development has become an established piece of marketing and fundraising strategy. It’s important that both for profit and not for profit organizations can give their audience value and information, and blogs are a popular way to do that.
Blogging is an effective way to stay in touch with your donors in a format that is informative and engaging. Whether you have an established blog for your nonprofit or you’ve never written a blog post in your life, these ideas can help you create a top-notch nonprofit blog page so your organization will stand out from the crowd.
1) To Blog or Not to Blog?
It’s important to consider a few things before you get down to blogging:
What host will you use? WordPress is a popular website tool, but there are other options.
Do you have a goal or goals for your blog? Have key members of your organization sit together and come up with some concrete guidelines for what you hope to get out of blogging. Maybe you’re trying to attract volunteers. Over time, you can measure whether your blog is succeeding based on the numbers of new volunteers you’re seeing.
Who will be in charge of posting? Maybe one person is always in charge of blogging, or duties are shared throughout your nonprofit. Whatever you decide, ensure everyone knows their role and the publishing timeline.
Does your organization have the time and resources for a blog? You can read more about this below. But if you know upfront that regular blogging is not a feasible possibility for your nonprofit, it’s best to focus on other projects. Having no blog is better than having a lackluster one.
Who is your audience, and what questions will they have? Different causes appeal to different groups of people. You know your donors, and you’ll want to consider what language/tone you should use to speak to them in your blog, as well as what they want to know about your organization.
How will you promote your blog? You can share your blog on social media, include a link to it in an email newsletter, feature it on your website’s homepage…think about what channels you have a following on, and use them to your advantage.
2) Consistency is Key in Blogging
Blogging requires frequent updates of fresh content to keep followers engaged. If you’re going to start blogging for your nonprofit, make sure you have the time to regularly devote to it.
Part of being consistent is publishing content on a regular schedule. It could be once a week, twice a week, a few times per month—whatever timeline you feel you can keep up with. When you update on a regular basis, say, every Wednesday, your audience will come to expect your posts on Wednesdays and will be more likely to come back to your site looking for them. A blog that is only sporadically updated is not going to receive that kind of attention. Readers won’t view it as a reliable, regular source of content.
You’ll also want to be consistent in the feel of your blog. You want your readers to come to see your blog as a friendly and trusted resource. Keep your tone of voice and the look of your blog similar from post to post. For instance, if many of your posts start with an image, make sure to include an image at the beginning of every post.
3) Blogs Give Your Nonprofit Authority and Build Trust
There are a lot of nonprofits out there—1.5 million in the U.S., in fact. And it’s likely there are other organizations with goals and missions that are similar to yours. Blogging is a way that you can showcase your unique story, while also establishing your knowledge of your field.
You can use a blog to inform your audience on topics centered around your nonprofit’s mission. By showing you have an extensive knowledge of the issue and topics surrounding it, you present yourself to donors as an authority in your field. This helps to give your organization credibility, and donors will feel that you have the experience to put funds to best use and truly solve problems.
By showing your knowledge, along with proof of the work you are doing, you build trust with your audience as well. It’s important to think of your donors as friends, individuals you’re building a long and sociable relationship with. Typically, we trust our friends. Blogging is a way to deepen that trusting relationship by showing that you’re listening to what your donors have to say and are actively working to achieve goals they’re looking to you to solve.
Consistency helps build trust as well. If you are consistent in your efforts and consistent in your blogging, your audience will rely on you to provide them with regular information that they want to know about your organization and its work.
4) Engage your Audience with Blogging
Enhancing donor loyalty requires you to think of your donors as friends and develop relationships with them. One of the best ways to do that is to create opportunities for donors to engage with you and share their thoughts.
Blogging is an effective way to enhance your engagement with a wide audience. People can comment on your blog, contact you based on a post they found interesting, attend an event or volunteer after reading a post, sign up for your email list, and share your content on social media. Sharing is huge for blogs. It allows people to see your blog and learn about your organization who might not come across you otherwise.
Engagement is truly one of the main goals of blogging, and while everything you post won’t lead directly to a donation, giving people exposure to your organization and getting people talking about it is going to have an impact.
5) Blogs Tell Your Story
Stories are a compelling way to give your nonprofit personality and heart. You may have stories that you regularly use in fundraising and marketing materials. But there are all kinds of stories you can tell about your employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of your nonprofit that make for great blog posts.
Event coverage is an effective blog topic. You can show who is involved, how you’re working to make an impact, and what you achieved. Your events may not get a lot of coverage from external media groups, so covering them yourself ensures people will see the good work you’re doing.
Talking about the stories and goings-on at your nonprofit shows your audience that you are actively working to achieve your mission and that your efforts are effective at doing so. Being able to communicate that you are active and making a difference is important to donors, because they can be sure their donations will be making an impact for good.
6) Blogs Convey Your Purpose
Your nonprofit is up against a lot of competition. Your blog is a place for you to separate yourself from the pack and convey not just the story of your organization, but also its purpose. Why does your specific nonprofit need to exist? How is it going to provide something different than organizations with similar goals? What is your blog’s purpose? How will it work to contribute to your mission and the betterment of your community?
7) What Types of Content?
You want to achieve consistency in the look and feel of your blog. At the same time, you’ll need a variety of content to keep your blog interesting. Sometimes you may want to share an interesting article you find, or you’ll be writing your own. Some posts will be more text-heavy, but visuals are helpful for readers to visualize what you’re writing about. Take lots of pictures and videos of different events and happenings you’re involved in. That way, you’ll have a lot of content to draw from.
You may also want to feature a guest blogger occasionally. A board member or a volunteer could write about their experience with your organization and why they’re so passionate about helping you to achieve your mission. Or an expert in the field related to your nonprofit can contribute a post to help further educate donors about the issues you’re working to solve.
Another great post idea is to address frequently asked questions about your organization. If it’s content that people are regularly looking for, a blog post can pull double duty. While contributing to your regular posting schedule, it will also provide evergreen content that can regularly be referred to.
And as we know a thank you is always welcome, your blog is another way to show gratitude and appreciation for your donors. Make a fun video with volunteers, employees, and beneficiaries saying thank you, and weave a tone of thankfulness throughout all your communications.
Do you receive a lot of emails? Too many? I know I do. The average American receives 88 emails per day, with office workers seeing over 120. Even if an email is full of worthy content, it can be hard for it to stand out from the rest.
What about direct mail? Some days, my household doesn’t receive any. So, when I do find something in my mailbox, I tend to remember it, and I certainly notice it.
Direct Mail Works for You
In our increasingly digital world, direct mail is often seen as an outdated and ineffective marketing strategy. But there are many statistics in its favor:
About 80% of direct mail is opened
70% of Americans believe mail is more personal than digital communications
56% of consumers have tried a new business, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses, after receiving direct mail from them
And that just begins to scratch the surface of the powerhouse that direct mail can be for your business. It’s even more effective when used as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. Direct mail is also a versatile medium, allowing you to be extremely personal with your audience and adding interest with a range of colors, textures, and shapes.
One of the most popular direct mail formats is the postcard. 56% of postcards are read by direct mail recipients, the most read of any direct mail piece. If you haven’t included postcards in your marketing strategy, here are 7 reasons you should consider doing so.
1. Strong Visual Potential
Postcards are attention-grabbers, standing out among the typically white envelopes that fill our mailboxes. A challenge of direct mail is enticing recipients to open an envelope, but with postcards, everything is immediately visible. Your message is right in front of the reader, increasing the chance that your audience will read your content and follow through on a call to action (CTA). It’s an opportunity for you to get creative, with exciting visuals, colors, and shapes.
2. Concise Content for Consumers
There are many media and marketing messages competing for our attentions on a daily basis. Consumers are short on time, and must be selective in the content they read and watch. Postcards don’t offer a lot of room to get technical, so they require you to be concise with your message. Short, compelling copy combined with attractive visuals effectively gets a message across to your reader, striking their interest and leaving them wanting more.
3. Postcards Save Time and Money
Direct mail is a versatile medium, and each type of mailing has its purpose. More costly mailings can be very effective. But postcards are an affordable option that allows you to cut down on costs while still delivering a compelling marketing message. Postcards are also faster to produce than other mailings. They require no folding or envelope stuffing. You can eliminate the need for labels by printing the address right on the card.
4. Craft Targeted Campaigns
Other traditional forms of advertising, like television or print ads, allow you to reach a wide ranging but not highly targeted audience. With direct mail, you know exactly who will receive your message, and you can craft that message accordingly. Since postcards are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, you can create different versions to send to segmented audiences based on demographics like location or past purchase history. Messages that are more targeted toward the recipient are more likely to be acted upon.
5. Pursue More Leads
Additionally, postcards are a better direct mail format for pursuing leads. Current customers are likely to be more receptive to receiving in-depth communications from you. If a recipient doesn’t currently have a relationship with your company, you have to work harder to pique their interest. Since postcards are inexpensive and visually engaging, they can be used to introduce a prospective customer to your company in a visually compelling way, and encourage them to connect with you.
6. Measure Mail Effectiveness
Direct mail campaigns are more meaningful when you measure how effective they are at compelling your audience to act. A postcard with a concise CTA is easier to measure, especially when your CTA includes a coupon or special offer. As recipients use the coupon or take you up on your offer, you’re able to see whether your mailing had the result you were hoping for, or whether it fell flat. You can easily adjust your postcards to do an A/B test, sending multiple versions at one time to find the offer that most effectively converts your customers.
7. Encourage A Conversation
Postcards are a great format for promoting events, as you want lots of visuals and color to encourage people to attend. And, though postcards can be personalized, the format encourages them to be shared in a way that a letter wouldn’t be. A postcard may be viewed by multiple members in one household. This increases the reach of your message and generates a conversation.
What goes through your mind when you hear the term “millennial”? It’s a word that seems to be everywhere these days. But who are millennials? What makes them tick and drives their decisions? And how can you communicate with them?
Understanding what a millennial is and how exactly you can reach them is an elusive concept. It’s one that is often frustrating to marketers who are trying to connect with this generation. You may have experienced this yourself. If so, I have both good and bad news for you. Since they are a very diverse group, no single marketing strategy is going to allow you to reach every millennial.
But the good news is, there are several approaches proven to resonate with millennials. And they’re not as hard to grasp as you may think.
Watch this video to get a clearer idea of who millennials are and what’s important to them:
Millennials have a different world-view, and need to be marketed to differently. They are a demographic that, in sheer numbers alone, is more populous than the baby boomers. This gives the millennial generation significant purchasing and decision-making power, a power that continues to grow annually.
Since millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020, it’s important that marketers understand the best way to reach this demographic. Though they cannot be defined by income, career choice, or marital status, there are a few generalities that can be made:
An individual born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is a millennial.
As the first generation to grow up in the online era, they are used to digital communications and having more choices than previous generations.
Millennials are the most educated generation, though they also have more student debt.
Meaning, experiences, and causes are all important topics/ideas for them.
So, how can you successfully market to millennials?
1. Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Millennials are used to receiving information from many channels. They tend to be multitaskers, plugged in across devices and sharing content across media. Consistency across platforms is key for engaging millennial consumers with your marketing. Having a constant message and representation of your brand helps them to connect with your company.
Since so many millennials are accessing content on smartphones and tablets, you need to adopt a multi-channel strategy focused on mobile optimization. That may mean reworking your website into a responsive template. This will make it accessible and easily readable across devices of any screen size.
That’s huge! And, it means that connecting with millennials requires you to develop a social strategy. Find the social media sites that work best for you and make them a part of your daily marketing plan. Adding a YouTube account or creating your own video content for Facebook or your website can also be effective. Millennials want to see helpful, informative content that they can engage with. Make sure your digital strategy offers them more than just what you’re trying to sell.
2. Embrace User Generated Content
The Baby Boomer generation relied on traditional forms of advertising, like radio and television ads. Marketers could expect that running an ad on TV would lead to many new sales and customers. Millennials, however, are much less likely to make a purchase decision from such an ad. What do they like? Brand interaction.
User generated content is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. They want to read honest reviews from customers who have purchased a company’s products or utilized their services. A study by Bazaarvoice found that 84% of millennials are influenced by user generated content when making purchase decisions. And 73% believe it is important to read others’ opinions before making a purchase.
Traditional ads are all about getting consumers to pay attention. Utilizing user generated content in your business is about building trust, which is high on the list of what millennials want from businesses. They like to do business with brands that are authentic and human. And they want to be able to interact and have a conversation with those companies.
What does this mean for you? Make it as easy as possible for public discussions about your brand to happen. Whether it’s on your website, a blog page, or your social media sites, get customers talking about your brand.
Facebook gives you the option of allowing reviews on your page, and this can be a great place to showcase what people are saying about your business. They might not always have good things to say. But a public forum is a place where you can show your willingness to resolve issues and take customer suggestions. Potential customers will see this, and it will help you to appear more human in their eyes.
Customers that love your brand will want to say so. They will become brand ambassadors by talking to their friends and family about their experience. This group is more likely to respond to a peer review than a pop-up ad. You can also invest in influencer marketing, essentially building relationships with individuals that have influence over your customer base and can reach them through mediums like social media, in ways that your brand may not be able to.
Try giving customers a chance to bring their personality to your brand and be a part of brand decisions. For instance, Lays has given customers the ability to choose the next chip flavor. Coca-Cola ran a campaign asking fans to get creative and interpret what the brand means to them in an artistic medium of their choice.
3. Personalize Direct Mail for Millennials
Millennials are used to digital marketing channels, and they rely heavily on what their community has to say about a brand. However, this does not mean that online methods are the only way to reach your millennial audience. US Presort, a direct marketing company based in New York City, conducted a surprising study about millennials and direct mail. Check out some results:
84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email.
50% of millennials ignore digital ads, while only 15% ignore direct mail.
90% of people between 25 and 34 believe direct mail is reliable.
77% pay attention to advertising through direct mail, and over half have made a purchase from a direct mail offer.
Those are some pretty compelling statistics in favor of using direct mail to market to millennials. As we learned above, millennials like to hear personal stories when considering a brand. One of the reasons direct mail is so popular is that it can be extremely personalized based on categories like purchase history, interests, and geographic region. Printing technology is also considerably advanced. You can add to the tactile benefit of direct mail by incorporating creative folds, colors, and textures that will make your mail memorable.
4. Increase Millennial Engagement & Market an Experience
Being able to give back while conducting business with your company changes the brand experience. For millennials, experience carries more weight than a physical purchase. 78% of millennials prefer spending money on experiences rather than purchasing an item. Over half are spending more on events and experiences now than they ever have.
This may seem hard to work with if you’re in the business of selling a product. But it’s all about how you market it. Millennials are very receptive to storytelling in advertisements, and you can use that to your advantage. If you sell tents, for instance, make your ad about the experience of camping, how it allows you to relax, have fun, and connect with friends and family, rather than focusing on the physical and monetary benefits of the product.
You can also hold an event to get prospective customers more excited about the buying process. Attending the event heightens the experience of shopping, It’s also a great opportunity for millennials to connect to the personality and human face of your business.
We recognize that crafting a marketing plan can be a challenge. Contact Paw Print & Mail and let us help you find the right strategy to market your business to millennials, or any demographic you are trying to reach.
Subscribe to our email list so you never miss a post from Paw Print!