Build Trust with Education-Based Marketing

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Are you tired of sales pitches? Do you hate feeling like you’re being sold to? So do I. Like many consumers today, I want more from the companies I choose to do business with.

There are two key things you need to know about consumers today:

  • They make purchases and do business based on trust
  • Purchases are made on their own timetable, whether or not it aligns with your business

In other words, traditional marketing styles no longer have the impact they once did. Consumers are more discerning and focused on the value your company can give them rather than simply the products or services you provide. If traditional marketing is sale-based, today’s approach is education-based.

What is Education-Based Marketing?

An education-based approach to marketing means moving away from a typical sales pitch and messaging. Instead, you’re providing consumers with valuable information related to your industry or products that allow them to make confident, informed purchase decisions. By providing consumers with a wealth of information related to your market, you establish yourself as an authority in that field. You show that you are knowledgeable about what you’re selling. You know what you’re talking about, and now your customers will, too. In creating this sense of authority, you build trust with your audience.

Education-based marketing is also a long-term strategy in that it allows consumers the freedom to learn about and purchase when they want. With an education-based approach, you create content that can then live on your website, so that consumers can access it whenever they like. It allows you to have a constant pipeline of prospects accessing the information without you having to seek those prospects out.

Know Your Stuff

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To implement an education-based approach to your marketing, you’ll need to know your product and your customer well. Consider what a customer who purchases your product would want to know about the product, its uses, and any problems that often come up. Speak to their specific challenges and goals to develop a message that will resonate with your target audience.

Depending on what industry you’re in, lack of knowledge can be a significant hurdle when it comes to making a purchase. If a consumer feels overwhelmed at the thought of encountering your service, providing them with clear, concise information in various forms can help to ease that fear, making the consumer feel more comfortable with your industry. This article from Forbes outlines an effective example of using education-based marketing in the financial sector, to educate retirees.

Trust typically takes time to build up, and you won’t create trust with every consumer overnight. However, consistently providing potential customers with helpful, informed content will help to build trust faster than you may think.

How to Implement an Education-Based Approach

With any marketing campaign, you’ll need multiple touches before a consumer will engage with you. Education-based approaches are no different. Once you’ve identified your prospect and your message, put content out on all channels available to you. Make sure your message, tone, and imagery are consistent to make each touch point meaningful.

Some effective ways to provide educational content include:

  • Regular blog posts
  • White papers
  • Hosting a seminar for potential customers
  • An e-book
  • Short, informative videos
  • Webinars
  • Emails with links to relevant content

A Compelling Example: Carpet Cleaning

 

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In this podcast, business strategist Tony Robbins talks with the late Chet Holmes about the power of education-based marketing. Holmes discusses a carpet cleaning company that he worked with to increase sales using an education-based approach. In this case, the company worked to fulfill a need after they established what the problem was.

 

First, the company took research from the EPA regarding indoor air quality. The study found that in buildings where the carpets were vacuumed daily, there were still high levels of bacteria and other unwanted organisms in the carpets. When the carpets were removed from the building, people got sick 4 times more often than before. Essentially, this research concluded that carpets act as a filter to keep harmful bacteria out of our bodies. But to maintain a healthy level of bacteria, a carpet should be cleaned every 6 months.

When they presented the facts, people were pretty grossed out. The company was marketing to clients who typically had their carpets cleaned professionally once every 3 years. The company established a problem which consumers didn’t know they had, but immediately wanted to solve. Then, this company was poised to offer the solution.

By presenting the research alongside a membership plan that offered twice yearly cleaning at a better than average rate, this company, which had been around for 100 years already, found a new way to grow their business. The final tally? Business increased by 100%.

You may not see quite as dramatic growth when you add education-based marketing to your business strategy. However, over time, incorporating educational content alongside traditional marketing techniques will help to build your company’s reputation and value for current and potential customers, giving you a competitive edge.

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Boost Your Marketing Power with Storytelling

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Storytelling is an essential and ancient part of human communication. Before the advent of writing, detailed stories were told orally, passed from generation to generation. Stories hold meaning for cultures, reflecting their histories, beliefs, and customs. We tell stories to learn, build relationships, and make sense of the world around us.

In fact, our brains are programmed to recognize patterns and find meaning in those patterns. A story is a kind of pattern, and stories are an effective marketing tool that you can use to build connection with your audience.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories, the ones we remember. But what makes a compelling, memorable story?

Elements of an Effective Story

1) Be Memorable with Emotion

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Facts and figures are essential to marketing—you need data to understand and relay your progress, as well as understand the state of your business. But numbers alone don’t inspire strong emotions. According to communications specialist Rob Biesenbach, 63% of people remember stories, but only 5% remember statistics.

There’s science behind this notion as well. When we are exposed to facts, two parts of our brains are activated, to take in information and to process. On the other hand, a story activates several areas across the entire brain.

And, these areas aren’t just accepting information—they’re experiencing the story. Think of the last book you read. Maybe the main character slipped into a cool lake on a scorching hot day or felt full of fear before giving an important speech. Did you feel the relief of that cool water, or find yourself growing anxious on behalf of the character? That’s the power of a good story. And it reflects the fact that when we hear a story and when we have a physical experience, the same areas of our brains are activated—the brain doesn’t differentiate between a story and an experience.

Know the Emotions of your Customer

Stories can be emotional in and of themselves, so that most of us who hear the story feel the same emotions. You can also tap into your potential customer’s emotions by telling a story you know will resonate with a specific fear or desire they are experiencing.

Say Sally has always wanted to play the piano. You’re selling a system that will help your customers learn to play the piano fast, efficiently, and well. You can tell a story with the main character flawlessly playing a piece on the piano, finishing to a round of applause. Poise your product as the solution to that specific fear or desire in the story, and potential customers will be flocking to your brand.

2) Show Your Unique Side

Unless you’re selling a never-before-seen product, you’ve got competition. And even if your business is exclusive in what you offer, you’re still competing against countless other businesses and products for a consumer’s spending dollars. Why should a potential customer choose you?

Stories help you out here. Even if your business offers the same services as several others, only yours has your unique story. Telling the story of how you founded your company, developed your product, or helped a customer shows the special, human side of your business that separates you from the crowd and helps you connect with consumers on a personal, human level.

3) Inspire Action!

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When we feel positive emotions, we want to do what we can to ensure those feelings continue. And when we feel negative emotions, like anger or fear, we want to act as soon as possible to stop those feelings. Because stories can make us emotional, they can also spur us to action. If your story inspires relief in consumers—finally, here is a solution to my problem—they’ll want to act to obtain that relief as soon as possible. They may have been searching for this solution for a long time. But your story raises the stakes—act NOW and your problem will disappear.

Stories also make us more likely to act because they can increase the perceived value of a product. A study called the Significant Objects Project found that when inexpensive items were marketed along with a story, the perceived worth of the objects increased, and buyers were willing to pay more for them than the object itself was worth. In this experiment, the purchasers knew the stories weren’t true—even still, the narrative gave buyers more of a reason to purchase.

4) Connect with Values

Consumers, especially Millennials, make purchase decisions as extensions of their values and identity. If a company doesn’t align with those values, consumers are more likely than ever to look elsewhere for their needs.

When you tell your story, you have a great opportunity to highlight what is important to you, what your company stands for, and your ultimate goals. Whatever those goals may be, they’ll likely resonate with a specific audience. This makes them more likely to purchase from you and to feel a greater connection to your business.

5) Make Use of Visuals

A story is built on compelling words. But sometimes, words aren’t enough. A captivating visual can say a lot, which is why the best stories make use of words and visuals to convey a message. Whether you’re talking about a specific individual, event, or circumstance, make sure to include visuals relevant to the story.

6) Personalize

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It helps to tell your story from a particular point of view, whether it’s your own, someone in a similar situation as your potential customer, or someone who was helped by your product. This helps to put a face to the issue. Your product may have helped thousands of consumers. But being able to put a face and truthful, personal words to it can make all the difference.

What brand stories do you remember? Let us know! And, if you need help telling the story of your business, Paw Print offers copywriting as a service.

Now, go on. Tell me a story.

Experiment With Your Marketing

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Picture your marketing strategy 10 years ago. It probably looked a lot different than your strategy of today. Now imagine you were still using the same marketing content and tactics from 10 years ago. Do you think you’d be successful?

Probably not. Marketing is constantly changing, as new technologies are introduced, new trends appear, and younger generations enter the market. To be effective, your business must change, too.

Recognizing the need to change your strategy is the first step. But change isn’t always easy. How do you know what to change? And how do you make it happen?

Experiment for Excellence

One of the best ways to enact change is to experiment with your content marketing. You can’t know which strategies will best fit your business without some testing.

Experimenting can be a fairly simple process, but it’s important. By now, you likely have routines you’re comfortable with when it comes to marketing. But sticking with a long-standing strategy that’s no longer performing, while it may be easier, can only hurt you in the long run.

Doing a major overhaul of your marketing can be expensive and may be impossible to coordinate. The good news is, you can improve marketing success with smaller, incremental changes, just as much as with big ones. In fact, smaller changes can be the key to significant growth.

Data Driven

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So, you’re ready to experiment. Great! Before you get too far, it’s essential that you examine your data. You cannot effectively improve your marketing if you don’t know where you’re starting from. To truly measure the success of a campaign, you need to have a goal. And not a vague goal either, but a specific, numerical goal that you can strive for.

We’re all working to achieve a 100% response rate and double our sales, right? Marketing success can be astronomical, but usually it takes longer periods of time to show steady, significant growth. You want to set goals that are achievable for your business. If you’re seeing a 12% open rate on your emails, work to consistently have 15%, then 20%. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but always keep an eye on data and metrics.

However you go about collecting and reviewing your data, your analysis will likely reveal areas in which you want to improve. These areas are where you can start some experimenting.

Making One Core Change

You’ve identified a marketing goal. Now, it’s time get to work. It’s possible to run experiments across a variety of platforms. But what you change, and how much, is of key importance.

When it comes to improving your marketing, you’re trying to understand what resonates with your specific audience. There may be times when a sweeping change is necessary and welcome, whether you’re unveiling a new website design or new application for your business. But on a day to day scale, experimentation is all about making small tweaks to fine tune your strategy.

Here’s a core tip: change only one element per medium at a time. Let’s take email again as an example. If you’re incorporating a new template, adding a CTA button, and drastically changing up your subject lines, you may start to see some change in open and click through rates. Hopefully those rates are increasing—they could decrease instead. Either way, it will be impossible to pinpoint exactly what caused that change if you make several changes at one time.

However, say you change one element of your email marketing—replacing a hyperlink in your email template with a bright, eye-catching button. If you start to see an increase in the click-through rates of your campaigns, you can attribute that change directly to the addition of the button. Once you’ve established the button as a consistent part of your emails, and are seeing a consistent click-through rate, you can adjust another email element to continue improving.

A/B Testing

digital artwork two open laptopsA/B Testing is one of the most popular forms of experimenting. An A/B test involves creating two versions of a piece of content that differ in just one element. For email marketing, A/B testing is frequently used to test subject lines. The entire body content of the email will remain the same, but you’ll create two different subject lines. Split your email list in half, so half receive the email with subject line A, and half with subject line B. Whichever email is opened more has the best performing subject line. Read here for what makes a compelling subject line.

When it comes to email marketing, you can also test:

  • Imagery
  • Button Use/ Button Color
  • Time of day/ day of the week you send the emails
  • Who the email is sent from (a company vs. an individual)

While popular for email, A/B tests can also be implemented throughout marketing, on landing pages and in direct mail campaigns. It’s important to remember that you’re focusing in on what your audience responds to. Certain words or tactics that work for some audiences may not resonate as strongly with others, so it may take some testing to determine what your recipients favor.

Time is of the Essence

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Think back to your science classes. Often, an experiment would be run for a set amount of time, whether several minutes or several days. You should run your marketing experiments on the same principle.

Let’s look at an example. Say you want to add a banner to your website’s homepage using a Call to Action (CTA), with the goal of increasing conversions through the site. To measure the effect of the banner, take a set period, like one month. Place the element on your homepage at the beginning of the month. At the end of the month, examine how conversions varied from the month before.

And, don’t change anything else on the page until your experimentation period is over. This is important, because any other changes you make during that time will make data regarding the effectiveness of the CTA void. Was it the CTA or another element that brought in those leads?

Analysis

The results are in! Whatever you discovered from your campaign, take note of how the process went, what you learned from it, and what the data tells you. Analyzing your results is key to determine the effectiveness of your experiment and to plan your next steps, as you continue to improve your marketing and increase sales.

How Inbound Marketing Generates Leads

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Imagine a marketing system that works in the background of your business or organization attracting leads to your door. Imagine this same process not only attracting leads, but building a fan-base of prospects who are both enthusiastic and qualified leads, the best kind of lead!

Have you heard of inbound marketing? Do you know how it differs from traditional marketing? If it’s all a bit fuzzy to you, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing is a core strategy for generating leads through content creation. Here’s what you need to know to start using inbound marketing for your business.

Outbound vs. Inbound

For many companies, marketing has long been about using strategies to reach out to potential customers in hope of a response. Termed “outbound marketing,” these methods include direct mail, email marketing, cold calls, TV and online ads, and event attendance. In these instances, marketers are actively bringing their brand to the prospect, whether by paying for an ad to appear on a webpage or mailing a postcard directly to the recipient’s front door.

These traditional marketing strategies have been practiced for years. And in many cases, they do work. But in a crowded marketing climate, it’s easy for your message to get lost among the flood of content vying for your prospect’s attention.

That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound strategies focus on creating content that “attracts” leads to your business in a non-intrusive way. While you are still putting content out, you are doing so to attract leads to come to you, rather than you directly contacting them. Customers can engage with you at their point of need, placing you at the forefront of their minds as having the answers to their needs.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

According to HubSpot, an inbound marketing application developer, there are four main stages of inbound marketing: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Simply put, this means that your inbound marketing strategies have the goal of:

  • attracting visitors to your website,
  • using various methods to convert them to leads,
  • closing the sale,
  • and turning one-time customers into repeat customers and brand ambassadors.
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A major reason that inbound strategies work is based on the type of content you generate at each of these stages. While each step requires different content, it should all have value for the potential customer. The main way to draw visitors to your website is by generating valuable, informative content. An advertisement is meant to draw attention, but a well-written blog post is meant to inform. It’s the way you can break out from the crowd. Provide consistent, helpful content, and you’ll keep qualified leads coming back to you for more.

Attract

To start the inbound marketing pipeline, you must be generating content that shows leads you know what you’re doing and can help them solve problems. The bulk of this work should be done through blogging, with help from social media. Leads can find your content two key ways: through seeing social media posts, and due to online searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also key to invest in, so that when an individual searches for a topic you’ve written about, your posts will appear higher up on the list of search results, making them more likely to be read.

Convert

Getting visitors to your website is essential, but it’s just the first step. Make it an easy transition for a visitor to contact you or share their info. Try including a sign-up form, using live chat tools, tracking site visitors, and making your contact information visible on every page of your site.

Close

When you have a group of qualified leads, now it’s time to close a sale. Part of this step requires you to stay relevant. Determine which pages or topics on your site are attracting the most interest, so you can continue creating content around those themes. Then, you can incorporate outbound methods like direct mail and email to provide those leads with content that is relevant to their interests and stage in the buying cycle. Segmenting your contact lists can be helpful here, as you target specific groups with specific messages. Again, try to keep your content focused on value.

Delight

Successful marketing isn’t about attracting a high volume of one-time buyers. It’s about creating a positive customer experience and getting to know each customer, so that they’ll continue looking to you to solve their problems and meet their needs. Respond to any questions or concerns with timely, helpful content. And craft content meant for each stage of the customer journey. Different customers require different calls to action. Keep track of who your customers are, what they are purchasing from you, and how often they are doing so, so that you can provide the right content at the right time.

Importance of Tracking

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As mentioned above, it’s important to keep track of data regarding your customers. It’s impossible to truly understand the direction of your marketing if you don’t know where you are and where you want to be. And, you can provide your customers and leads with more relevant, timely information if you know certain metrics. Consider which pages are most visited on your site, the number of unique visitors, and time spent on your site.

This applies to social media as well. When you know which content is your best performing content, you can modify your strategy to include more of it. Tracking also allows you to follow each customer’s journey. That way, you can better serve your client base and determine which strategy converts best.

With the world of content available on the internet, consumers are becoming better educated and changing the way they make purchase decisions. To stay top of mind with consumers, marketers must adapt to focus their strategies toward relevant content generation and providing value for the customer. In doing so, your brand will build trust and a sense of authority, helping to grow your business and turn more leads into repeat customers.

Interested in trying or strengthening your inbound marketing? At Paw Print, we offer content marketing and copywriting as a service, to help you on your way to generating more leads. Give us a call when you’re ready to take your content to the next level.

Is Social Media Print’s New Best Friend?

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While print and social media may compete for your marketing dollars, they don’t have to compete for your customers. In fact, using them together can make your marketing more effective. Let’s look at five ways print and social media can work together.

1. Print Drives Traffic to Social Media

How do you drive traffic to your social media sites? Often, it’s with print. Whether it is through direct mail, store signage, or company invoices, print is often your customer’s first exposure to your social media presence.

2. More Channels Help You Reach More People

Even in today’s tech-driven world, not everyone uses social media or uses it on a regular basis. Use print to ensure that you are reaching the largest swath of your audience as possible. As the old adage goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

3. Say it Again . . . and Again

Consistently, studies show that reinforcing your message through multiple channels increases brand awareness, heightens engagement, and boosts response rates. The combination of print and social media, along with other traditional and digital media, is more effective than any single channel alone.

4. Boost Credibility

Survey after survey shows that consumers still trust print more than they trust online media. A survey conducted by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design in coordination with ExactTarget found that even Millennials are more likely to be influenced to make purchase decisions based on communications they receive by email and direct mail rather than through social media advertising.

5. Print Has Staying Power

Your message on social media might stay for a few hours before getting buried under the avalanche of other messaging. Print has staying power. Your direct mail piece might live on someone’s desk or bulletin board for weeks or months.

Using print and social media isn’t an “either or” proposition. Understanding when and where to use each channel is the key to getting the best results. If you’re ready to add printing or direct mail to your marketing strategy, contact Paw Print!

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

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The place: a recent introductory meeting with the newly-hired Marketing Director of a local established and respected mid-sized company.

The topic: the state of the company’s marketing collateral.

This is a good-sized business selling big ticket services that regularly invoice in the $100,000 to $1M range. Yet, you would never perceive this when handed one of their business cards or company brochures.

The firm was seemingly still holding on to their start days, when print collateral was designed in-house using Microsoft Word, then printed on the company copier. That may have been appropriate and practical then. But given the size and capabilities of the company now, the state of their print collateral imparts a huge perception gap on the brand.  This company was attempting to continue to grow business and generate leads. However, the amateurism of their branded handouts did not match the professionalism of their work.

First Impression Is Everything

Have you ever heard the phrase “how you do anything is how you do everything”?

The way you handle one situation in your life tends to reflect how you handle every situation. If you tend to be a detail-oriented individual in your personal life, it’s highly likely you are detail-oriented in your professional life as well.

Contemplating the phrase “how you do anything is how you do everything” may incite introspection on many levels. For the context of this article on marketing tips, how you convey your brand can have deep implications for the success of your company or organization.

It’s All About Perception

Returning to the detail-orientated example. Say your car needs service. When you walk into the service center, does the cleanliness and orderliness of the facility and perceived expertise of the staff affect your level of confidence in the work to be done? Do these traits impart a perception on you as to how well you and your car will be taken care of?

Either consciously or subconsciously, your perception and confidence are affected. If the waiting area is clean and organized, and the service writer clearly explains the work to be done, what it will cost, and how long it will take, then you’re more likely to feel confident that the mechanical work will follow suit. Your level of confidence and willingness to refer this business will likely be lower if these details are missing.

This is the power and impact of the statement “how you do anything is how you do everything”! To your current and potential customers, the implications of this statement influence their perception of your entire brand.

This is why it’s so important for every business leader to take time on a regular basis to step back from the daily work routine and ask – how do my customers experience my business in relation to how I’d like them to experience it?

If there’s a disconnect between how you want your business to be perceived and how you actually conduct business, it’s time to take a critical look at potential gaps and make the necessary changes to bring intent and reality into alignment. Your business’ success depends on it.

Focus On Brand Excellence

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You are expert at what you do. Your knowledge of your field is extensive and well-versed. But is this reflected in how you present and market your business? Do your actions backup your claims?

You may have just one opportunity to show you have the skills to get the job done, and done right. Whether it’s the manner in which you and your staff answer the phone, the quality and professionalism of your business card and company brochure, your website, asking important qualifying questions, or handling an unforeseen issue…all of these have the potential to generate new business or lose a potential customer forever.

And, just because “we’ve always done it this way”, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to continue if there’s any doubt as to how your brand is perceived. The systems you have in place may function. But to generate consistent, profitable business, you need to be more than functional. You must align all areas of your business to present the same cohesive image and delivery of service.

Your Print Collateral

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Let’s concentrate on print. Say you’re a construction company that regularly builds impressive structures that are made to last, that exceed your clients’ expectations and are always completed on time. You offer a great product, delivered with reliable and excellent service.

To get the word out, you likely have print collateral, like business cards and brochures that you hand out or send to potential clients. Now try this – pick them up, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes, and ask yourself: How do these look?” How do these feel?” Do they show quality and professionalism, or not so much?

Returning to the phrase how you do anything is how you do everything, if your business card is printed on thin, flimsy paper and not squarely trimmed, or your company brochure is not professionally designed, printed on office copy paper, and irregularly folded (yes… we still see this all too often), what does that say about your company? What would you think about a company if you received something like this from them?

Odds are, you’d toss that business card and brochure and look to another company to meet your needs. If a business card doesn’t hold up to the barest scrutiny, it leaves the impression that your product will also come up short.

Take an objective look at your marketing materials, strategies, and policies. Put yourself in the place of the customer. If you’re unimpressed with what you’re seeing, start taking steps to consistently present your business in the best light.

The Takeaway

Not everyone you come across is going to come to you for their needs. But by consistently presenting quality marketing collateral, you can ensure you’ll stay top of mind with customers. They’ll hold on to your business cards, and they’ll think of you before calling anyone else.

Want to revamp your marketing strategy, but aren’t sure where to begin? At Paw Print, we have the knowledge and tools to assist you with all your print, direct mail, and branded promotional product needs. Contact us to start improving your branding today!

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What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About Blogging

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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

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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?

smiling woman blogging on laptop
Background image created by Senivpetro – Freepik.com

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.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit appeal production services and copywriting and content marketing, including ghost blogging services. If you need assistance with your nonprofit appeal strategy, contact Paw Print today.

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7 Reasons You Should Be Mailing Postcards

Sampling of Paw Print postcardsDo 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.

At Paw Print & Mail, we’re specialists in direct mail marketing strategies and fulfillment. Contact us today to enhance your direct mail marketing strategy.

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Step Up Your Website’s SEO

Search Engine Optimization key words

I don’t know about you, but when I think about buying something, I like to do my research. It’s important to me to know a bit about the company I’m doing business with, and to see if their product or service is truly the best option. And with a world of information available just a click away on the internet, it’s easier than ever to find the information I’m looking for.

According to HubSpot, 81% of consumers do online research before making a purchase, especially for larger investments. And, 64% of web traffic comes from organic searches, rather than ad clicks. It’s critical that consumers are able to find your website during a web search. You can drive more traffic to your site using search engine optimization (SEO).

What is SEO?

SEO involves strategies to ensure your website will be visible in search engine results. It’s usually possible to find the information you’re looking for in the first page or two of search results. Consumers aren’t going to go through multiple pages of results if they don’t have to. Sites that appear higher up in a search are going to have the most visitors. How do companies get their sites to appear first? They’ve implemented SEO.

You can also increase SEO value with paid advertisements and by sharing content on social media. But today we’re going to talk about how you can make changes on your website to achieve a higher SEO ranking. You’ll start generating more traffic and more leads organically, without the expense of a paid search.

1) Track Web Visitors

To get the most value out of optimizing your site, you’ll want to keep track of the numbers. You can use software like Google Analytics to determine how many web users visit your website, how long they stay on the site, as well as what pages they visit the most. If you know before making any adjustments to your SEO what kind of traffic your page sees, it is easier to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, and test different words and phrases to get better results.

2) Use Title Tags

SEO title tag descriptions

The title tag appears in two places. In a search result, it’s the headline text that you see and can click on. Once you click on the link, the title tag also appears in the tab at the top of the web browser.

A title tag should be a concise and accurate description of what the webpage is about. For instance, our website’s homepage title tag is “Printing & Mailing Services, South Burlington, Vermont | Paw Print & Mail.” The title tag picks up on key words that a prospect is likely to put into the web search bar.  If someone were to search “printing services Burlington Vermont” the search platform would pick out those words from our title tag, and our website would appear higher in the search results.

When creating a title tag, you’ll want to keep it under 60 characters so that it is easy and quick to read. Also make it readable, as if you’re speaking or asking a person a question—a list of keywords won’t do. Instead of “SEO title tag keywords web search,” or something along those lines, try “How to Optimize SEO with a Title Tag – ABC Company.” Web users may be looking for information related to the terms in the first example. But it isn’t user friendly and doesn’t tell you what the web page is actually about or who created it.

Another important tip is to give each of the pages on your website a unique title tag. This increases the phrases and keywords associated with your site and the chance that your site will appear in search results.

3) Write Meta Descriptions

This is the text that appears below a title tag in a web search. It’s usually a sentence or two that gives users an idea of what they’ll find on your site, so keywords are important here too.

SEO meta description examples

While not as closely tied to a search result ranking as a title tag, the meta description allows a web user to determine if your site is relevant to what they’re searching for. It can be the factor that leads someone to click on your site, or not. Using action oriented words and phrases in the meta description will help compel a web user to go to your site and take action.

Google allows meta descriptions to be up to 320 characters long. But you may find a shorter description conveys your point more concisely. Like the title tag, meta descriptions should be different for each page on your site. A generic meta description for every page on your site decreases the relevance for web searchers, as it is not descriptive enough.

4) Add Internal Links

Internal linking means including links on each of your pages to other pages on your website. You can include them in the main navigation bar and throughout the copy. Your home page has the most SEO value of any page on your site. When your content can be easily reached through links on the homepage, it has greater value in a search result.SEO spider

Think of it like a spider crawling through your site. A web search sends out spiders to every search result. The spiders are happy when they can easily crawl to the bulk of your site’s content just by accessing the home page—like a well-designed web! The happier the spider, the more search value your site will have.

Make it easy to navigate your site, too. Clear headers in your navigation bar and a consistent layout on each page will allow visitors to quickly find the information they’re looking for. When your website is easy to navigate, spiders will like it, and so will your prospective customers.

5) External Links

These are links that go to any site or domain other than your own. Search engines place greater value on links that lead to separate sites than internal links to your own site. External links add to the authority of your site, especially when you link to a reputable source, and add to the relevancy of your content in the search engine’s eyes.

Linking to another site can also help you to develop a relationship with that site. By sharing their content, you make them aware of your webpage, and hopefully they will see you as a source to link to for the future.

External links are enhanced when you focus on the words you are using to hyperlink, the anchor text. Rather than hyperlinking the words “click here,” make your anchor text descriptive. If you’re linking to a source about increasing SEO value, your anchor text could be “top ways you can increase SEO value.” These are the kinds of keywords people will use to search for information about the topic, and it helps give a sense what the link is about.

6) Generate Fresh Content

The marketing climate today demands that companies be producing fresh content on a regular basis. In addition to supplementing your overall marketing strategy, new content can help to increase traffic to your webpage. One of the best ways to do this is by regularly publishing a blog. Writing about topics that your audience is interested in and searching for will allow you to appear in a wider range of search results, giving web users greater exposure to your brand. Blogging also builds your authority as an expert in your field or industry.

7) Include Image Descriptions

Images are a key part of a website’s content, but a web search looks for text only. “Alt” tags are a way to add SEO value to the images on your site. Including a tag for each image can help increase the search ranking of your site, especially when you write it with SEO in mind. The alt tag should be specific and include key words but, like the title tag, should be a readable/conversational phrase. Alt tags are also a critical piece of website accessibility, as they ensure visitors who can’t view the images can still understand what your content is about.

8) Test Your Loading Time

While not directly related to search results, the time it takes for your website to load can also be a factor in the level of traffic you’re seeing. 40% of people will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.  And the longer the site takes to load, the higher that percentage gets. Make sure that your prospects can not only find your site, but can get to it as well. Try some of these strategies to speed up loading times.

9) Create Search Friendly URLS

Create a standard system for naming your page URLS. Often when a page is generated, it will be a random mix of letters, numbers, and symbols that are not attractive to a search engine. If you sell apparel, for example, a friendly URL could be “www.apparelcompany.com/women/tshirts.” The search engine will put that site high in the search results when someone looks for women’s t-shirts.

Writing compelling web copy isn’t easy, and Paw Print & Mail is here to help! Contact us today and ask about our professional copywriting services.

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4 Essential Copy Tips for Connecting with Prospects

businesswoman holding "wanted: more leads" cardLead generation is an important piece of marketing any business. If you’re reading this blog, cultivating leads is probably a topic that’s on your mind.

Writing compelling copy is essential for lead generation. The right copy with the right message behind it will give your marketing campaigns a significant edge over your competition.

When you’re selling a product, you may think that hyping up the product and describing all of its desirable features is the best way to market it. This information certainly has a place. But when you adopt this approach, you may be surprised that sales aren’t coming in the way you thought they would.

Why might this be happening? The most important factor in copywriting is not you, your business, or your product—it’s the prospect. If you want your prospects to engage with you, you must have a deep understanding of who they are and what matters most to them, and make that information critical to your copywriting process.

Here are 4 key tips for ensuring your copy will make the right connection with prospects.

1. Get to Know Your Prospect

Cartoon searching for prospects
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

One of the most important things to remember is that what is right for one prospect or product is not right for another. Your copy may be well-written and your message effective for a certain audience. But if it’s not the audience your product is meant for, your product is not going to sell.

That’s why it truly pays to take the time to identify and understand your prospect. Key demographics like age, gender, average income, and location are important. But for a truly effective sales message, these categories aren’t enough. You’ll also want to ask yourself, what are my prospect’s interests and worries? And go even deeper: what are their core beliefs and desires?

Develop a system or form that you can use to chart out information about your prospect, from the most basic to the most personal. When you get to the core of what really matters to your prospect, you can better target your message. And, you will be making a deeper connection with your audience, leading to increased sales.

How do you find information about your prospect? While you may have a basic idea of who is purchasing from you, there are a few resources you can use to help get to the core of who your prospect is and what matters to them:

  • Read customer reviews, testimonials, and surveys
  • Get to know the product well and test it out yourself
  • Look at past promotions to see what was and was not effective
  • Talk to the individuals who developed the product—why did they create it?

Remember that each product you sell may have a different audience. Or, you may have multiple audience segments for just one of your products or services. Personalization techniques allow you to segment your audience, communicating a unique message to each group.

2. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Prospects

Think about a time when you went into a store to make a purchase. Maybe you encountered a pushy salesperson, who kept up a constant spiel of details about the product you were looking at, pressuring you to buy.

How did that make you feel? Did you just want to walk out of the store?

If you did, you’ve experienced a feeling many consumers have: prospects don’t like the idea of being sold.

So, how are you going to get any sales? You need to create an emotional connection with your prospects. Your product or service may have great features. Yet the features alone are not compelling enough to a prospect.

Instead, consider the benefits. This is where knowing the struggles and desires of your prospects will be extremely helpful. If you can show how your product provides a benefit you know your audience is looking for, or how it will help them to achieve a goal or solve a problem, you will create a deeper connection with them.

Here’s an example. Say you’re writing copy about a new car model you are selling. Rather than structuring your message around the materials or technical features, you can focus on the notion of safety. Maybe your car is a sedan or SUV you plan to market to families, who are rightly concerned about getting everyone safely from one place to another. If you know your prospect, you’ll know that safety, comfort, and being good parents are important ideas for them. You can then market your product accordingly.

3. Story + Transition = Sales

One of the best ways to bring emotion to your marketing copy is by telling a story. Stories are an engaging way to show the benefits of your product or service.

An effective story could run like this: start in the middle of the story, describing an instance of a fear or desire you know your prospects have experienced to draw them in. Then, go on to show how your product will benefit the prospect by solving the fear or allowing them to achieve the desire.

You want the prospect to see themselves in the story. Use the story to bring to life the benefits your prospects want. Then you can demonstrate how purchasing your product will directly lead to those benefits.

Something to keep in mind when writing copy or a story is to market a transition. As a part of defining your prospect, you’ll want to think about where they are now as well as where they want to be.

We can use the example of the car to illustrate this. The prospect may be anxious about driving their current car because they feel it isn’t safe enough to protect their family in an accident. Where they want to be, and where your story can show them ending up, is in a place where they are able to relax and enjoy driving again because they know they’ve chosen the best car for their family to travel safely.

You want your copy to illustrate this transition is possible and will bring the desired benefits—but only if the prospect purchases your product.

4. Speak to Your Prospect

Cartoon of two businessmen in conversation
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Language is an essential piece of copywriting. Even a compelling, emotional story will not be successful if you don’t write in the language of the prospect.

Formal and technical writing is not your friend here. This style certainly has its place, but marketing copy works best when you write the way you talk. It requires you to use words and phrases your prospects regularly use, written in a conversational, one-on-one tone.

In general, copy should be made up of short sentences and commonly used words, and free of jargon. The individuals who developed your product or service probably speak about it in technical terms, which may have little to no meaning for your prospects. It may seem like using these kinds of technical words will give your prospects the impression that your product is well-developed or backed by science and technology. However, there is a greater chance you’ll end up confusing them.

Certain words will have certain meaning for certain groups, so, again, you want to be specific about who you’re marketing to. In a B2B context you may have more flexibility with technical terms that are commonly used in the industry of your audience, so some jargon may be appropriate.

Copywriting is an essential piece of the marketing process. We know it can be hard to find the time to write copy that hits just the right note with your prospects. At Paw Print & Mail, we have the copywriting (and content writing) experience to help you reach your audience, so contact us today to get started on your next marketing campaign.

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