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.

Does Your Multichannel Strategy Need an Update?

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When was the last time your print marketing strategy was freshened up? When was the last time you looked at your creative approach, value proposition, and media mix with fresh eyes? If it’s been a while, maybe now is the time.  Here are three areas to consider to improve your multi-channel strategy.

1) Does Each Tactic Prove its Worth?

Technology is cool, but don’t throw new things into the mix just for the sake of doing it. Test, evaluate, and incorporate new components in ways that create results.

Say you make your first contact with a customized postcard, direct mail letter, or self-mailer that drives the reader to a personalized URL.  Offer the option of connecting to the site by either entering a web address or scanning a QR Code.  Track your metrics to see which channel recipients do and do not respond to.

No matter which response mechanisms you use, be sure to look at more than top-line numbers. You might think that a response rate is “low” until you discover that it gets the most responses from a segment of your target audience that is particularly important to you.

2) Go Further with Demographics

It may be tempting to base your marketing efforts on the most readily available information, such as gender, age, and income. For the best results, however, take it a step further. Seek to understand what your prospects care about. Today’s consumer wants to be an individual, not a segment.

3) Track and Measure Your Results

Which elements of the campaign do you track? How do you determine a “response rate”? Is it a click or a scan? Is it the completion of a form or a purchase? Connect your marketing goals with clear metrics, so you know which of your marketing efforts are working and which are not.

Marketing is about results, and consumers often respond to different tools and tactics at different times. Track, test, and measure so you can keep up.

Ready to create a marketing campaign that will get people talking? Paw Print & Mail can provide you with the design, print, mail, and promotional product components to develop a truly memorable marketing experience. Contact us today!

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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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Infographic vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

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!

Scorpion Marketing 101

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Get your prospect’s attention with a Scorpion Marketing Strategy!

Ever feel like you’re beating your head against a wall trying to sell to the unsellable, qualify the unqualified, or get responses from the unresponsive?

You are not alone. As a sales professional and/or a business owner, much of the anxiety, frustration and weariness that happens in growing sales and a business is directly related to these activities.

Are you comfortable, if not jazzed, to have conversations with clients and prospects but discouraged with how difficult it is to get people to engage?
What if you could increase the ROI on your sales and prospecting efforts with a non-intrusive strategy to engage and generate more leads?

Consider Scorpion Marketing

If you walked up to your desk and found a scorpion looking up at you, would that get your attention?! Probably safe to say you might even jump back… whoa!!!

There are certain things that happen in life – and in business – that GRAB our FULL attention and cause us to act on the situation at hand.

Scorpion Marketing is an ACTION designed to get a REACTION. It’s a tactic that’s guaranteed to get your intended audience’s attentions despite the competing forces vying for those persons’ attention.

Putting People First

Growing a successful business is all about seeking and establishing relationships with people who have a need for your product. Virtually all sales and marketing investments and efforts are born with the intent of generating leads. Leads are the spark of opportunity for prospects to build familiarity and trust with you, your company, and your product. Generating a viable lead is the cornerstone toward meeting a prospect’s need and converting a sale.

But sales and prospecting is tough work! You may have the best product and service to meet someone’s need. But until they fully understand and experience your offering, you’re just one of the pack. And even before that, until you get face-to-face with a prospect to fully understand the problem they are trying to solve, you’re at a loss as to how and even if your value proposition is relevant to them.

All of this brings us back to the importance of generating a qualified lead to trigger your business development process. That’s where Scorpion Marketing comes in.

How Does Scorpion Marketing Work?

At Paw Print & Mail, we’ll design a strategy utilizing an attractive and relevant direct marketing package and follow up process that’s guaranteed to get the attention of your key prospect or client. Like reacting to the scorpion on your desk, our Scorpion Marketing process will set you apart from your competition and exponentially increase your ability to directly connect with your prospects and begin the relationship building process.

Above all… Scorpion Marketing spurs the engaging activity that leads to sales. Scorpion Marketing is prospecting on steroids, which is more fun and rewarding than the typical prospecting you’ve done (and dreaded doing) in the past.

To learn more about our Scorpion Marketing service, contact Tom at tbrassard@paw-prints.com or call Paw Print & Mail at 802.865.2872.

Envelope Creativity Boosts Response Rates

Entrepreneur opening a padded envelopeOne of the biggest hurdles of direct mail? Getting people to open the envelope.

Postcards and self-mailers have the advantage of standalone, eye catching content. The graphics are immediately visible, compelling the recipient to read on.

But for many mail pieces, an envelope is essential. Using an envelope doesn’t have to be limiting, however. In fact, today’s printing technology allows envelopes to be more personalized and attractive than ever before. Customization turns envelopes from basic commodities to effective direct marketing tools.

Why Direct Mail?

cartoon envelope with megaphone

In our digitally saturated world, direct mail stands out:

Creative & Customized Envelopes: Reach More of Your Audience

Basic return address printed envelopes have long been a standard for many businesses. While they get the job done, inkjet technology has made it possible to completely customize envelopes, making your campaigns more personal, relevant, and compelling for your audience.

Some reasons to personalize envelopes for your business or organization include:

Increase Visibility

Generally, envelopes have the information necessary to get the mail piece to the recipient. But there’s a lot of white space left over that can be used to include a compelling call to action. You may not always open envelopes, but you’re sure to look at the outside to see who the mail piece is from. An envelope is a highly visible space available to tee-up the theme or message of your campaign.

Improve Open & Response Rates

Creative envelopes not only enhance visibility. They also raise curiosity, making recipients more likely to open and respond to your message. You can use the envelope to create a sense of urgency, letting recipients know there is a limited amount of time in which to respond.

Send a Timely Message

Customized envelopes have the advantage of timeliness. You can print for a specific theme, referencing your current campaign or a seasonal or time sensitive offer.

Stand Out from the Crowd

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Giving a unique touch to your mailings separates you from your competition. In a mailbox of white envelopes, an envelope with color and interesting graphics stands out, making you more memorable than your competitors.

Segment, Budget, Personalize

The ability to customize means that you can create envelope designs that are more personal to the recipient. Maybe your mailing is targeted to past customers, or to your top donors. Whoever your target audience may be, you can make your envelopes specific to that group and the goals you have for them. With Variable Data Printing, you can even print each individual’s name on the envelope as part of the call to action.

No Overstock or Rush

When you print custom envelopes at the time of production, your printer can produce just enough for your mailing. That way, you won’t have to worry about storing overstock, or having a pile of extra envelopes specific to a campaign that you won’t be able to use again. On the flip side, you won’t have to stress about coming up short and placing a rush order. If the printer needs a few extras to finish the job, they can print more at no added cost to you.

The creativity of your imagination is the only limit when it comes to printing envelopes. Custom sizes, stocks, and colors are all available, making it easy to create a stand out envelope for your next campaign.

Ready to step up your direct mail? At Paw Print, we can assist you every step of the way, from designing your mail piece to printing to mailing fulfillment. Contact us today to get started!

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Want More Sales? Ensure Good Word of Mouth

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Recently, I enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant celebrating with a friend. Despite seeing advertisements for this establishment, I had never been. But lately in conversation several people mentioned to me what an exceptional experience they had dining there.

After that, I couldn’t stay away. Recommendations from friends and colleagues spoke to me in a way that ads never had. I stopped in for a bite and was not disappointed.

While a conversation may seem like just another part of each day, in this case it functioned as a marketing device. Word of Mouth Marketing (sometimes referred to as WOMM or WOM), is a crucial tool in any business’ marketing kit. Consciously or unconsciously, you’re likely participating in WOMM frequently. Anytime you recommend a product, restaurant, establishment, service, or destination, you’re influencing whether another person decides to patronize that business or purchase that product.

You may be asking, is this really marketing? The conversations we have from day to day aren’t scripted and approved by a company’s marketing department. But they have just as much, if not more, power than traditional marketing channels to make or break your business.

Word of Mouth Marketing: The Numbers

Would it surprise you to learn that 42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago? As sincere as your advertising may be (maybe you really do offer the best auto service in town) your audience is less trusting than ever of your message.

However, 90% of consumers are more likely to trust and purchase from a brand that has been recommended by a friend. And WOM impressions result in 5 times more sales than a paid media impression. In the nonprofit sector, the numbers still apply: 65% of donors learn about the causes they give to from friends and family.

While consumers place more trust in recommendations from people they know, word of mouth marketing is also bolstered by user generated content (UGC). This often takes the form of reviews from customers that are posted on a company’s social media page, web page, a Google review, or on a personal blog page.

UGC is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. 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.

With so many digital resources at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to chime in with our opinions about products and services. And, WOM doesn’t stop with just one conversation—that first recommendation sets off a chain of conversations that can reach more people in more personal ways than many traditional advertising strategies.

Using Word of Mouth for Your Business

Word of Mouth is essentially free marketing. However, it’s not something you should take for granted. Because of its power and potential reach, WOM can significantly impact your business. Positive experiences lead to positive recommendations. So it’s important to do your part to make each customer’s impression of you as favorable as possible.

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Be Creative

If you invest in a creative, smaller-scale marketing campaign, you’re going to impress a group of people who will tell others about it. Something that is fun and memorable will keep you at the top of a potential customer’s mind, and they’re more likely to share their experience and partake of your product or service.

Deliver Value for Your Customers

When marketing any business, it’s important to know and sell your unique value proposition. A major way to get someone talking about you in a positive way is to simply provide value for them. Whether it’s the personal attention you show to each customer, the ease with which you handle their projects, the special blend of creativity and knowledge you bring to the table, or your unique product offerings, if you are a valuable resource for your customers, they’ll be sure to tell others about you.

Up Your Emotion

Go to any reviews page, and you’re likely to see a similar trend. There will be a wealth of very negative and very positive reviews, with few falling in between. That’s because we tend to share stories that provoked some intense emotion in us. If my dining experience is just ok, I probably won’t tell anyone about it. But if I have a meal that knocks all the other meals I’ve had recently out of the park, I’m going to talk about it. And, I’m going to go back for another meal. Focus on creating experiences that inspire powerful emotional reactions from your customers.

Encourage User Generated Content

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As stated above, UGC has a profound influence on consumers’ decision-making. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback on social media, your website, or in some other way. Ensure that that feedback is visible to a wide audience, and don’t separate the bad reviews from the good. A negative comment is a chance for your business to show its human side. You can convey that you are listening to customers and prepared to work hard to improve their experiences.

Share Testimonials

Testimonials from customers and clients is an effective way to make use of UGC in your marketing materials. You can add these to case studies, your website, or printed brochures, to name a few places. Hearing a genuine comment from an actual customer that speaks to a need or desire many of your customers share can be a powerful reason for prospects to keep reading.

Create an Incentive/Referral Program

You can also encourage customers to talk about your business by giving them an incentive to review you or refer your company to someone else. This helps to build goodwill by showing appreciation and working to turn a visitor into a regular, recurring customer.

You can’t control exactly what customers say about your business. But being aware of the power of WOMM means that you can take steps with your marketing toward creating positive and memorable experiences for each customer, so that they’ll be eager to tell others about you.

Ready to create a marketing campaign that will get people talking? Paw Print & Mail can provide you with the design, print, mail, and promotional product components to develop a truly memorable marketing experience. Contact us today!

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Key Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs Branding

Chalk board with branding and marketing words

When you consider the word “branding,” what comes to mind? You may think of well-known companies like Apple or Target, that advertise on a large scale and whose characteristics are immediately recognizable to most of us, who come into frequent contact with them.

But the concept of branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for large companies. And, it’s an essential piece of increasing awareness for nonprofits as well.

The obvious reason for nonprofit organizations to spread awareness of their brand is to increase donations and build a reliable donor base. However, according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are stepping up their brand management in order “to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play: driving broad long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.”

Why Should You Build a Brand?

Like any other entity, your nonprofit has a unique set of goals, characteristics, and stories. When you bring these together to form a recognizable and repeatable persona, you have a brand. The first thing most people think of when they hear the word brand or branding, is an entity’s logo. While this is one branding element, it’s only the beginning. The style, graphics, and words your organization uses to communicate all convey your brand.

But what can branding do for your nonprofit?

Differentiate

Creating a brand around your nonprofit allows you to separate yourself from the crowd. There are a lot of nonprofits out there (over 4,000 in VT alone!) and invariably there are other organizations with the same general mission as yours. To make a connection with donors and bring precious fundraising dollars your way, you must tell a story that illustrates the unique mission of your nonprofit.

Illustrate Your Goals

black and yellow dart board with multicolored darts
Business image created by Waewkidja – Freepik.com

Helping donors to understand the specific goals your organization is working to achieve is a critical reason for developing a brand. Branding allows you to project your mission as an indelible piece of your organization. Potential donors can recognize these goals as the core of your brand, helping to reinforce your purpose.

Establish Authority

Nonprofits follow the same sales and marketing rules as businesses—it’s going to take multiple touches before a potential donor will make a gift. They will have to encounter your organization several times until it becomes familiar to them. Having a brand allows you to create one cohesive image that you can present to the world. The more a potential donor sees that image, the more recognizable you become, and the more likely they are to engage with you. Branding can also give you a professional image, increasing your sense of authority.

Strengthen Internal Identity

man and woman volunteers posing
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

The Stanford publication referred to branding as a way to reinforce internal identity. While your brand works to become familiar to potential donors, establishing a brand also helps to give your employees, volunteers, and board members something to rally around. They will feel like part of a team, helping to strengthen internal bonds.

Importance of Consistent Branding

A key piece of developing a brand is consistency. By constantly presenting your nonprofit using the same language, imagery, and message, you’re helping to build awareness and create a reliable image for your audience.

You should update all your marketing and fundraising materials to reflect your branding. Your social media content should echo what a visitor to your website or a recipient of your postcard will see. Consistency helps to establish the notion that you have clear, defined goals, and the experience and authority to achieve them.

Consistency can also apply to the frequency of your communications. You may have more activity leading up to an event, but work to stay in regular contact with your audience without being overwhelming. For instance, you could send one mailing per month, rather than several mailings during your campaign period and none the rest of the year.

The Power of Print

Like many nonprofits, you may be using direct mail for your fundraising campaigns. If so, you know that direct mail is an effective way to spread awareness and increase gifts. In part, this is due to the physical nature of a mail piece in our digitally saturated world. It reflects the power of print to connect with an audience—print boasts a 70% higher recall than digital.

In addition to direct mail, do you have other print collateral, such as business cards, brochures, banners/signs, or letterhead? These are all elements that contribute to the building of your brand. Where do you source these from?

By collaborating with a single source for all your printing, you can ensure that the donor experience is consistent. Each print piece can be consistent in terms of color, paper stock, and the overall look and feel.

Also, when you work closely with a source for something as important as fundraising, that source truly comes to know your organization, and can suggest avenues to explore that will accurately and effectively reflect your organization.

Want to talk about building your brand? Paw Print can assist with all your printing, mailing, design and promotional product needs. Contact us today!

 

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

cartoon of businessman riding rocket toward space
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

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

cartoon businessmen building target to improve brand perception
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

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

businessman smiling and holding out business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

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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