Subtle and Effective: Printing with Emboss or Deboss

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

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

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

What is Emboss?

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

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

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

What is Deboss?

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

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

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

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

Subtlety of Debossing with Promo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finding Graphic “Arts” Again with Engraving

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

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

Engraving

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

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

Watch engraving in action in this video:

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

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

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

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Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Speak Volumes

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

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

Vegan Leather

black backpack made of vegan leather labeled with gravity logo in white ink
Several vegan leather products can be found, including bags, wallets, luggage tags, tablet covers and portfolios.

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

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

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

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

 

 

Biodegradable and Recycled Pens

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

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

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

A Shirt Made from Soda Bottles

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

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

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

Refillable Portfolios

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

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

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

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

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Hot Branded Products for 2018

2018 written with sparklers
donorlynk.com

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

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

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

Stainless Steel Water Bottles:

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

What’s a better alternative? Metal.

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

Other benefits of stainless steel bottles include:

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

two metal water bottles gray with blue and white logo and copper with white logo

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Doohickey:

silver and black carabiner tools

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

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

Socks:

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

colorful sock on foot depicting corporate logo

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

two striped socks embroidered with business logos on cuff

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

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

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Why You Should Add Philanthropy to Your Business

gift box wrapped with dollar bills and red bowIt’s the season of giving, and as you celebrate the holidays with family and friends, you may be feeling a renewed sense of generosity and goodwill. At this time of year many of us give not only to those on our gift lists, but also to those who may be struggling to feel the same good cheer that we’ve come to expect during the holiday season.

Many companies choose to give back during the holidays as well. Your business can make an impact by making charitable giving a part of your business model, not only seasonally, but year-round. This kind of altruism isn’t just good for the spirit—it has important benefits for your business as well.

How Charitable Giving Helps Businesses

Giving Motivates Your Employees

While the good vibes of giving a gift may fade after a short while, long-term involvement with a charitable organization has lasting and powerful effects on employee satisfaction. A survey earlier this year by Great Place to Work found that employees who had a positive experience of giving back at their companies were 4 times more likely to give extra to get a job done, more likely to be brand ambassadors, and more likely to want to stay at their companies long-term.

business people seated on couch surrounding open laptop
Business image created by Freepik

Another study by the Cone Cause found that employees involved in causes through their company were 28% more likely to be proud of their company’s values and 36% more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty than employees who were not involved. Philanthropy can also help employees bond as they work together for a cause, building a strong sense of teamwork and morale.

Generate Positive Vibes for Your Brand

When you make a long-term, involved commitment with a charitable organization, awareness of your brand spreads throughout the community. At the same time that you’re doing good, your community is learning who your brand is and what matters to you. You’re building connections with members of your community, and your name will be talked about in the community in a positive light. And, because word-of-mouth is the top way that consumers make decisions about brands and products, you’ll be generating positive conversations about your brand that will lead consumers to look to you for future needs.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Since not all companies are going to incorporate charitable giving, doing so differentiates you from your competition. The Cone Cause found that in the last year, 41% of Americans bought products because those items were associated with an issue or cause. Consumers, especially millennials, are more willing to purchase products or services from companies that support causes. There is an added sense of trust and of humanity that is present when a brand’s values align with those of consumers—which leads to increased customer loyalty.

Tax Deductions

Sometimes donations of funds, items, and some volunteer expenses can be deducted from your taxes. Ask your accountant for more specific information on how you might do this.

Walk the Talk

First, consider why you are giving back and what cause you will give to. The more personal your causes and reasons for giving are, the more genuine you will come across and the easier it will be to share your story. Maybe you or a loved one was helped by a cause, and you want to support others experiencing similar situations. Or maybe you recognize certain opportunities or advantages you’ve had and want others to have those same opportunities. It’s not the size of the gift but the sincerity of your giving that matters most.

Also think about how your chosen cause ties in with your company. If you sell pet food and supplies, you could support local pet shelters. At the same time you’re helping animals find loving homes, you’re creating potential customers for your business who will need to shop for their new pet. Or if you sell women’s clothing, you could sponsor a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Many of your customers may have had experience with cancer or know someone who has, so you’ll be deepening the connections you have with them.

Other Ways to Give

  • Have a portion of overall profits or overall proceeds from a certain product or service go to a charity.
  • Design a product or service specifically for the cause you want to support. You don’t have to give 100% of profits to the charity, but you can market the product as created with the intention of supporting a specific group or cause.
  • Market products as buy one, give one—consumers know each item they buy will be matched and given to someone in need.
  • Set up scholarships to help students succeed. If you’re a tech company, you could support a scholarship that allows students access to special opportunities like coding classes or workshops.

Whichever strategy you decide to use, it’s essential that you are consistent in what you give and when you give. Maybe you decide to give quarterly, so you can tell your customers that in the last 3 months you were able to give a specific amount with their support.

Take Action

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

Contributing financially to a charity is admirable. However, giving money alone will not have the same impact on your employees or your community as getting involved. Encourage employees to participate in events, serve food at a food shelf, or personally drop off donations. Some companies incorporate days into their annual schedule that employees can take off to volunteer. Consider closing the office for a day and being present to support your cause at a big event.

Being more deeply involved increases your company’s connection to your community, is more meaningful and enjoyable for employees, and helps build your story. Your contributions to an organization are more meaningful and impactful if they grow and evolve over time, and if you personally interact with your cause, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who your cause is helping and how they are benefitting from its services. The deeper that understanding, the better you’ll be able to share your story and gain more support for the organization and for your business.

So, let’s put this subject into action! For every like on this article, Paw Print & Mail will donate $2 to the local Meals on Wheels program at Age Well, up to $100. Thank you for your support.

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8 Steps to an Effective Business Card

woman pointing at business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

These days, we can pretty much find anything we’re looking for on the internet. We shop, research, and connect with others in the digital realm, and it’s where most marketers are being coached to put their resources.

It’s true that digital is here to stay, and it’s opened up a world of possibilities for marketers. However, print still holds a place of prominence in the marketing world. Print has a 70% higher recall than digital, and about 80% of direct mail is opened. With fewer marketers investing in print, it represents an opportunity to give your marketing strategy a unique touch.

A lot of different items go through our doors at Paw Print, but our most popular item consistently continues to be business cards. Often a business card is one of the first things a customer or potential client will receive from you. A well-designed business card can go a long way towards creating a favorable impression of your business, as well as generating engaging conversations between you and your customers.

Why Should You Print Business Cards?

The traditional function of a business card is to provide customers and professional colleagues with contact information, like your phone number, address, and website. While business cards today tend to offer variations of this content, the truth is that this information is easy to find on the web. Having it in a physical form is helpful, but is not as essential as it was in the past.

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

The key role of a business card today is to make an impression. Your card needs to say something about your brand that goes beyond how to contact you. To be the most effective, you need a card that recipients will want to hang on to, so that you will stay top of mind and clients will keep coming back to you for their needs.

Business Card Design Tips

1) Aligned with Your Branding

floral printed business cards on pink background
Logo psd created by Freepik

Consumers today access content from numerous sources, and they expect to be able to move across platforms seamlessly. This includes print, and it means that all of your marketing platforms should consistently utilize the same visual design elements, like color, layout, font, and images.  You will want your business cards to contain these same elements because your card is a reflection of your brand. If your card doesn’t accurately reflect who your company is and what customers can expect from you, it will lead to confusion.

2) Focus on Quality

One of the benefits of print is that there are many paper stocks to choose from. This leads to a wide range of variations in the color, thickness, and feel of paper. It’s important to remember that your business card functions to create a favorable impression of your business, so don’t skimp on quality. A heavier stock has a superior feel and speaks confidence and quality. Your customers will be able to tell and feel the difference.

3) Ensure Readability

It’s important to remember that digital files look different than a final printed product will. Just because you can read something when it’s blown up on a computer screen does not mean it will be as easy to read when printed. Make sure your text is both large enough to read and clear, so that it is not obscured by complicated font or design elements.

4) Talk to Your Printer

Sometimes text or borders can get cut off if they aren’t far enough from the edge of the card. Ask your printer where to place information so it won’t be lost when printed and trimmed.

5) Don’t Forget the Back!

Many business cards are only printed on one side, leaving an empty side you could be using to make more of an impression. While you don’t want both sides to be the same, you can use the back of the card to include another design element or more details about your services. It gives the impression that you offer a well-rounded product or service.

6) Get Creative & Design for Impact

A business card doesn’t have to be a flat, simple rectangle. Printing options today allow for many variations on texture and shape. You could do a deboss on a card to achieve a 3D effect, or use cutouts for a creative touch. Other “wow” enhancements include engraving, foil stamping, thermography (raised ink), die cut shapes, and spot coatings.

7) Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

hand holding black business card with simple white and yellow design
Logo psd created by Freepik

Consider the bare essentials that you must include on your card. If you really want to drive traffic to digital resources, for instance, don’t include a physical address on the card. Trying to cram too much information and too many design elements onto a small card could make it memorable for the wrong reasons. Simplicity portrays professionalism and the sense that you make things easy for your customers.

8) Convey an Emotion

A big piece of the marketing pie is that people buy on emotion. Consider what emotion you want recipients of your card to experience. This requires a bit more thought, as you have to know who your clients are and what solution or sense of fulfillment they are looking for from your business. How can you portray what you will offer your clients? Try to capture the enthusiasm you have for your business in the card you hand out.

Print has stuck around because of its tactile power—being able to hold something in your hands improves recall and sends a more personal message than a digital communication. If you’d like to add business cards to your marketing strategy, or feel your current card needs some love, contact Paw Print & Mail today to start the discussion.

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4 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

digital marketing text with light bulb graphic
Business vector created by Freepik

It’s hard to believe the holiday season has arrived once again, and before we know it we’ll be ringing in 2018. After a busy holiday season, a new year is an opportunity to refresh your marketing priorities. Marketing objectives and strategies are constantly evolving, and certain approaches that worked last year may no longer be best practice today. Here are 4 things you should know about marketing for 2018.

1) Amazon is King:

White-Amazon-LogoWhen you have a question about something, what do you do? Usually without thinking, I turn to Google.

So, would it surprise you to learn that Google is surpassed by another search engine? Currently, Amazon holds the crown as the most used product search engine, with 59% of product searches happening on their site. And they’re not only a resource for products—Amazon also offers a wide range of services, including AmazonFresh grocery delivery, web cloud storage, and TV, movie, and music streaming. It’s even possible that Amazon will be offering prescription medications in the near future.

But as a business owner, you should know about Amazon Services. It essentially works as an Amazon search engine for professional services. Whether you’re an electrician, computer repair person, or pool cleaner, your customers can search for, purchase, and review your services, all through Amazon. This is already taking off in larger cities across the U.S., and will likely be popular in our region in just a year or two. If you want to get ahead of the game, it could pay off to claim your spot on Amazon today.

2) Website Accessibility:

Have you heard about the Web Content Accessibility Guideline? If you plan to have a website in 2018, listen up. While there are no standardized rules for what a website must have to be considered “accessible,” the web has been labeled as a “place of public accommodation.” Essentially, you could run into legal trouble if your site isn’t accessible or functional for people who use assistive technologies, like browser reading software, when on the web. You’ll probably want to refer to your website provider for specifics on how to adjust your page for accessibility, but some things to start with include:

  • Ensuring all your images have alternative text
  • Including subtitles for your videos and/or a link to the video’s transcript
  • Creating obvious links to your home and site map pages for easy navigation
  • Give every page a primary title (H1) and as you move down the page present headlines in ascending order (H2, H3, etc.) without skipping any (i.e., don’t go from H1 to H3)
  • Make link text descriptive (Learn about SEO on our Web Tips page rather than Click here for SEO tips)

3) SEO Factors: 

oversized laptop surrounded by people on laptops with skyline background
Background vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the fastest changing aspects of marketing. It is always evolving, and your website must evolve with it or be left behind. Focus on these factors:

  • Improve Site Speed: A load time between 2 and 3 seconds is considered excellent. The average webpage loads in between 5 and 7 seconds. Nearly 1/3 of web users will leave a site if it takes 7 seconds or more to load, and that number increases for every second longer it takes to open your page. There are number of free web tools you can use to determine the speed/loading issues of your page.
  • Relevance > Key Words: Search engines have gotten smarter at being able to determine the intent of your page. This means that the heavy use of keywords isn’t as critical as it used to be. In fact, 35% of top search results don’t include any keywords in the title of the page or article. You can focus more on being readable to your human audience rather than including keyword-heavy titles and anchor text.
  • Keep Using Meta Data: Title tags and meta tags are still effective SEO tools. A title tag should be no longer than 70 characters, while meta tags shouldn’t go over 175 characters. Alt tags are essential too, not just for accessibility, but also for improving search rankings.
  • Social Doesn’t Improve SEO: Social media is an effective marketing tool, but having a strong social strategy won’t improve your search rankings. However, don’t neglect it all together; it’s a great tool for building trust with prospects and current customers.
  • Be Clear and Concise: Just as web users expect your page to load fast, they expect to find what they need on the page quickly, too. Make your page navigation simple and straightforward. And, if your web page will be answering a question, make sure you answer that question in the first three sentences of text, or you risk losing the reader’s attention.

4) Facebook Ads: 

If you haven’t started advertising on Facebook, get ready to jump right in. There are over 200 million active Facebook users in the U.S., active for an average of 50 minutes per day. That represents a significant number of opportunities for you to connect with your audience.

Facebook ad targeting strategies have become more specific than ever. You can air different advertisements based on your goals, whether it’s to increase brand awareness, traffic, lead generation, or conversion rates. You can segment your ads to only be seen on mobile devices, and even to reach an audience based on life events. If an individual puts their location information on Facebook, its algorithm can tell that he or she moved from Florida to Vermont, and ads will appear to them for things they’re likely to need, such as snow removal services, winter tires, or cold weather gear.

What marketing trends are you noticing or trying, and how do these trends relate? If you’re looking to enhance your marketing strategy for 2018, contact Paw Print & Mail to start the conversation.

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Consider the Subtle Branding Approach

Branding-paw-print-and-mailEach morning as I prepare for work, I gather up the essentials: keys, phone, lunch, and travel mug. Whether I’m in the mood for coffee or tea, starting my day with a hot beverage is part of my routine, and it’s probably part of yours too. My mug gets a lot of use, but it’s not only functional—it also makes a statement. With a bright colored body and bold logo, my mug shows that I’m a proud graduate of my college. I’m not just drinking coffee; I’ve become a brand ambassador for my school.

While I could use any mug, I chose one that makes a statement with bold branding because the connection to my school is an important part of who I am. However, such branding is not the right fit for every product or every customer. Sometimes a subtler branding approach may lead to more engagement from a prospective customer—and more sales and leads for your business.

Why Use Promotional Products?

Branded promotional items are everywhere these days. It’s likely you have several yourself. Promo marketing includes the basics, like branded apparel, mugs, and pens, and also things like golf balls, kitchen items, and car accessories. You could even get a branded toaster, if you wanted. Your options for promotional products are nearly unlimited. But what is the real benefit to using them?

According to the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), advertising with promotional products directly correlates with improved brand recognition and increased sales. It’s also been shown to have a higher return on investment than other marketing strategies.

Including promotional products in your larger marketing strategy increases the effectiveness of your other marketing methods by 44%. And a study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 52% of survey respondents did business with a company after receiving a promotional product from them. Promotional product marketing increases brand awareness and gives your company an edge over the competition.

Where Do I Start?

Target-Branding-Paw-Print-And-Mail
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

The key to effective promotional products is that they must be useful to your audience. An item like a pen will get widespread use, but to make the most of promo marketing, you have to think deeper about your customers. Even if you create a quality product, if your target audience doesn’t regularly use that item, your marketing will not be as effective.

So, if you have a fitness center, you could have branded water bottles or t-shirts. Or, if you’re in the technology field, try mousepads or USB drives. If your customers not only use the products, but use them when they’re making decisions related to the products or services you offer, you’ll stay at the top of their minds.

Functionality is essential, but another factor to consider is the branding itself. Sticking your logo all over an item may not always be the answer. How much branding is too much branding?

The Subtle Branding Approach

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There are a number of ways to include promo products in your marketing. You can give them away at events, you can sell them, you can wear them, and you can include them in a mailing package to reach out to prospects or to thank current customers.

Each of these approaches connects you with a different audience. One way you can differentiate is to choose a level of branding that corresponds to your audience’s level of brand awareness.

In the example of my mug, I want to be a brand ambassador and use a product that promotes and reminds me of my college. That level of branding appeals to me in this instance, but it won’t appeal to everyone. It may seem that placing your logo on an item your audience regularly uses would be a win-win—they’ll use the item, and your business will be promoted. But if you go overboard with branding, it could be too much for people who aren’t already affiliated with you, and you run the risk of your item not being used at all.

The more personal and/or professional a promotional product is, and depending on how, when, or by whom it may be used, the subtler your branding on that item can be. For example, a journal or portfolio binder are items a professional may enjoy receiving. But, will they tend to use it if your logo is splashed all over it? Such an item is more “yours” than “theirs,” so consider this when designing and purchasing certain types of promotional products.

You could choose to keep your branding, but tone it down. Maybe you convert your colorful logo to a neutral black or gray. You still include it on a promotional item, but make it smaller and place it on a sleek, quality product that will impress your audience.

Another way to be subtle is to include branding that is not specific to your company. You can position the promotional item to elicit a concept or best practice that your audience can relate to. Say you’re a company focused on energy efficiency. You could have promo items like an eco-friendly water bottle or journal decorated with an image, phrase, or artwork that your customer base (environmental advocates who support clean, efficient energy practices) will relate to. It represents your company more subtly than a basic logo.

If I were a long-time customer of your energy company, I may be likely to use a product branded with just your logo, because I support what you do and want other people to understand your mission and utilize your services. But if I were a prospective customer who was just learning about you, a product emblazoned with your logo is more likely to end up collecting dust. If you can connect with your audience based on a concept they relate to, you’re taking a step towards making them customers and brand ambassadors.

What’s your take—should companies use more or less branding on a promotional product? What branded products have you received and love to use? Let us know!

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Have You Gone to the Mailbox Today?

Rethink Direct Mail

Mail_Automation_Paw_Print_And_MailThink about the last purchase you made. What did it take to bring you from prospective customer to committed buyer?

Prospects typically need multiple touches before they commit to a purchase—over 7, according to the Online Marketing Institute. While it’s relatively easy to send out lots of emails or post on social media, we’re in an age where many of us are experiencing digital overload. (The average office worker receives 121 emails per day!) In such a crowded digital space, it’s hard to make your voice heard. If you’re not getting the kind of response you’d like from your marketing campaigns, it may be time to add direct mail to the mix.

Direct mail consistently rates as being more trustworthy, more memorable, and read more often than email. It provides a personal touch and the kind of experience digital just can’t deliver.

Direct mail may seem limiting if you have limited experience with it. However, printing has advanced considerably, giving you a wide range of options for texture, color, shape, design, and personalization.

As with any marketing communication, direct mail works best when it is relevant to the recipient and tailored to your audience. Just like digital communications, you can automate your direct mail to make the process more efficient.

What is Marketing Automation?

The basic idea of marketing automation is to use software to replace repetitive manual processes with automated actions. You can find, target, and contact prospects effectively and efficiently. The automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists and target specific audiences with tailored messages, leading to increased sales for your business. Automation delivers you more qualified leads and makes your marketing more efficient, so that you can focus on high-gain sales activities for your company.

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Business image created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com

Automation often relies on a trigger system, where a prospect completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list, that triggers your software to send an email to them. Automation is regularly used for digital marketing processes, and the benefit of digital automation is that you can reach prospects instantaneously, increasing the chances of a sale. However, direct mail can be automated too, and it gives recipients something more: a physical and personal experience that stands out from a cluttered email inbox.

Some examples of direct mail automation campaigns include:

  • Seasonal promotions
  • Exclusive offers based on past purchase history
  • Mailings to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or to thank
  • Promotional packages, featuring branded products

Case Study: A Real-Life Campaign

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Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

An essential factor of any automated campaign is to know your audience. Automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists to find the best audience for your campaign. You can define your best customers and the key demographic and psychographic factors they have in common.

If you’re working in a B2B context, you may find that a certain industry uses your services more frequently than others. If this is so, it makes sense that you’ll want to engage with similar businesses to find more customers that are like your best customers.

A recent mailing campaign we did followed this model. We identified an industry we frequently worked with, and set out to create a campaign to attract more leads from this group. Having worked with this demographic before, we were able to anticipate common pain points, needs, and desires they face, and create content with those factors in mind.

Before contacting anyone, we put together a compelling direct mail marketing package that was personalized to the recipient, showing our knowledge of their industry and reaching them on a personal level—we know your problems and desires, and we can help you to solve and achieve them.

The packets included a letter personalized with the name, address, and institution of the recipient, a functional portfolio folder featuring content customized for the recipient’s business, and a description of our services specific to that audience, all packaged in a custom envelope.

While we were able to create a personal touch with our content, automation allowed us to find and connect with these prospects in a timely, scheduled manner. We purchased data lists that we then compared to our current customer list to exclude our customers from receiving a prospecting packet. Once we identified a qualified list of recipients, we automated the mailing by consistently sending out 10 packets per week and following up with a structured phone and email schedule.

We created a personalized and industry-specific mailing and used automation to identify, mail to, and follow up with qualified recipients. We were able to generate business by creating an impression with our direct mail package, so that it stood out amongst the myriad marketing messages these businesses received on a daily basis.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in direct mail marketing. Let us help you design, print, and automate your next direct mail campaign, so you can generate qualified leads for your business.

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6 Strategies for Engaging Millennial Donors

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People image created by Freepik.

What does the term “millennial” mean to you?

For many fundraisers, it means a struggle to find ways to connect with a diverse generation that has different expectations than those established by their parents and grandparents.

But millennials don’t have to mean a struggle, and they can mean the future of your organization. Millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population, and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020. It’s essential that you’re able to reach this generation with your fundraising efforts, as it represents a significant number of potential donors that may be interested in giving now, and for many years to come.

More so than previous generations, millennials are very receptive to cause marketing and fundraising. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in.

Millennials’ desire to do good makes them qualified potential donors for your organization. But to reach them effectively, you may have to adopt some new practices.

1) Be Digitally Invested: Millennials grew up using computers, and they’re quick to adopt new forms of technology. If you want to make millennials aware of your nonprofit, you have to be tech savvy, too. You can:

  • Be active on social media by sharing, posting, commenting, and responding to any actions on your page.
  • Ensure your website is updated regularly, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile devices.
  • Set up search engine optimization (SEO) for your nonprofit’s website.
  • Try using or creating a mobile app so that it’s easy for potential donors to give at any time (millennials tend to be impulse donors).
  • Develop consistency across marketing channels so that potential donors will have a seamless experience.

2) Millennials Like Direct Mail: Though millennials are digitally focused, they place value and trust in direct mail. 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email. Part of the reason for this is that direct mail can be extremely personalized for the recipient. Personal touches give your nonprofit a human, friendly side that millennials will connect with.

3) Be Approachable: Present your organization as approachable and encourage potential donors to engage in frequent conversations with you, whether on a blog page, social media site, in an email, or in person.

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Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

By connecting with millennial donors now, you are beginning a long-term relationship with them, that will hopefully transition to a regular gift. Many younger people may not be in a position to make a financial gift, but are still passionate about helping. Encouraging them to volunteer with you keeps them involved while creating a deeper bond between them and your organization.

4) Think Global, Act Local: Millennials have a global consciousness, and they want to feel they’re contributing to a larger cause. If you can, connect your mission to a larger issue, and show how an action in your community can relate and support a global need.

5) Enhance Trust: 42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago. A good practice for reaching donors of any generation is to be transparent. Millennials want clear and specific information on the impact their individual contribution will have.

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Business card image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

Building trust also means staying in touch with donors on a regular basis. Since millennials value the relationships they build with organizations, it’s essential for you to communicate with them for more than just an ask, reiterating the good you’re doing with regular updates on the impact you’re having.

6) Step Up Storytelling: Millennials tend to feel connected to causes rather than individual organizations. But you can use stories to show the impact, importance, and personal side of your nonprofit, helping millennials to build a stronger connection to you. It gives your organization a human side, and potential donors can see and hear from specific individuals they’ll be helping. Use a lot of images and videos in your fundraising materials to help your stories make an impact.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal production. Contact Paw Print today to enhance your nonprofit’s fundraising approach.

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