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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Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

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

Is your website ADA Compliant? Did you know it should be? If not, you aren’t alone. ADA compliance marks a major change to the digital marketing world. It’s important to know how your website stacks up.

What is ADA Compliance?

Years ago, we didn’t have designated parking spots for those with disabilities, or ramps to allow wheelchairs easy access to buildings. Today, it’s common to see these, which is due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law was enacted to ensure that all individuals have equal access to a business’s goods and services.

Under the law, a business is considered a place of public accommodation, and must remove any barriers that would keep a disabled individual from accessing that business’s offerings. While this has long referred to physical barriers, in 2010 there was a request from the US Department of Justice to amend the law to include the digital realm, namely websites.

Currently there are no strict guidelines that legally require websites to be accessible for people with disabilities. However, lawsuits have been successfully made against companies that lack accessibility features.

What do you need to know? Don’t be caught off guard. Until recently, most marketers didn’t know about ADA compliance. This gave them no way to prevent lawsuits, because they lacked the knowledge that there even might be a problem.

The ADA status on websites was expected to be finalized this past January. While that fell through, the courts continue to step in and file lawsuits against companies whose websites are found to violate current ADA guidelines. Be proactive by making changes to your website now. Besides potential legal issues, it’s good business practice to make your site as accessible and easy to navigate as possible for all your customers.

Make Your Website ADA Compliant

drawing of man building a websiteThe best way to understand how your website stacks up against compliance standards is to do a comprehensive assessment of your site. You may want to contact your website service provider for more specific information, and to make changes you’re unsure how to enact. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 give a comprehensive overview of what is required for different levels/standards of compliance.

Some common adjustments you can make to your site include:

Alternative Text

Each image you include on your site should have an alt text description. Visitors to your site may be unable to see images, or the images themselves may not render on all devices. Alternate text will fill in the blanks, allowing visitors to understand the content presented in the image and what information you are trying to convey. Website builders like WordPress clearly identify where to place the alt text when adding an image. The words you use in your alt text descriptions are also important–learn how to write effective alt tags. Effective alt text labels also serve to help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Audio & Video Transcripts

For every video or audio clip you include on your site, it’s helpful to include a link to a page with the content transcribed into text, for those who can’t hear the audio or who cannot view the video properly on their device. Also include captions on the video itself.

Contrasting Text

Your website will be more functional for all visitors if text is at a high contrast to the background, making it easier to read. If the background color of your “Products” page button is too close to the text color, it will be difficult for visitors to read the text and understand where that button would take them.

Keyboard Navigation

Some people must use a keyboard rather than a mouse to navigate on the web. So, your website must be fully navigable using only a keyboard. Some websites are set up so that just by pressing the “Tab” key, a visitor can move across the heading and sub heading categories of your site, easily finding which page they want. To make this function easier, it’s important to have consistent navigation throughout the site. All headers and footers should appear the same on each page, with the same buttons linking to the same pages.

Links

Include clear links to your home page as well as to a site map page. From the site map, visitors can easily find the page they’re looking for without navigating through your entire site. Don’t underline text that is not an actual link. And, do not include redundant links to the same content on the same page.

Page Titles

Ensure your page titles clearly and accurately describe what is found on that page. Also, your pages will be read better by screen reading software if you give different weight to your titles and move in ascending order as you go down the page. For example, the title of the page should be designated as H1. Your major subheadings should be H2, and secondary headers should be H3.

Forms

Forms must be clearly labeled and readable by screen reader software. Make form submission buttons specific; rather than “Submit” try, “Place an Order” “Contact Us” “Sign Me Up” etc. This ensures clarity as to what process that form is completing.

Developing a website that is easy to navigate for all visitors creates a win-win situation. When potential customers have a pleasant experience visiting your website, they’re likely to stay on your site for longer periods of time and come back to you when they’re searching for something new. More traffic means more business, and more happy customers.

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5 Considerations for Creating Standout Mail Pieces

Woman reading direct mail piece

When we think about great direct mail results, we tend to think about the list, the message, and the call to action. However, things like the size, shape, and texture of the piece play a key role, too. Let’s look at five considerations for creating standout mail pieces.

1) Trim Size:

If you want the lowest possible postage cost, go with a standard 3.5” x 5” postcard. Choosing a non-standard size will cost more in postage, but it will make your postcard stand out. “Why is that one different?” the recipient wants to know. It might even be the first piece they pick up. What’s that worth?

2) Weight:

Consumers tend to associate the weight of the stock used in the mailing with the quality of the brand and, by extension, the product being marketed. Heavier weight stocks command respect and attention. Learn more about choosing the right paper for your brand.

3) Texture:

In a sea of smooth envelopes, mailers with textured finishes get noticed. From high gloss and spot varnish to specialty processes, there are lots of options to choose from.

a sampling of Classic style textured paper stock
Printing on textured stocks gives your printing a unique look and feel.

4) Direct Mail Personalization:

Even the use of someone’s name on the front of a post card will engage the recipient more than a static card. This engagement might only last for an extra fraction of a second, but sometimes that is all you need.

5) Color:

Why use a standard white background when you can pick from a range of vibrant colors? Use knock out type, graphics, and images on dynamic backgrounds to get your mailer to jump out of the box. If your mailbox is a sea of white envelopes and one bright red one, which one would you pick out first?

There are lots of ways to get your direct mailer to stand out from all of the others. Why not try something you have not tried before?  You just might love the results!

At Paw Print, we’re poised to assist you with all the design, printing, and mailing services you need for your next direct mail campaign. Contact us to start marketing with direct mail!

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Understand Your Audience for Marketing Success

diverse audience of people facing forward
Background vector created by Freepik

How well do you know your audience?

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

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

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

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

How Does Your Audience Consume Content?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measure for Marketing Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Targeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subtle and Effective: Printing with Emboss or Deboss

Emboss 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 an emboss 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 deboss 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

sample engraving, the beauty of engraving

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

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

Engraving

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

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

Watch the process in action in this video:

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

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

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

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Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Speak Volumes

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

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

Vegan Leather

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Biodegradable and Recycled Pens

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

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

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

A Shirt Made from Soda Bottles

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

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

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

Refillable Portfolios

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

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

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

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

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Hot Branded Products for 2018

2018 written with sparklers
donorlynk.com

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

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

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

Stainless Steel Water Bottles:

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

What’s a better alternative? Metal.

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

Other benefits of stainless steel bottles include:

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

two promotional metal water bottles

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Doohickey:

silver and black carabiner tools

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

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

Promotional Socks:

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

colorful promotional sock on foot depicting corporate logo

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

two striped socks embroidered with business logos on cuff

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

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

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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 2017 survey by Great Place to Work found that employees who had a positive experience of giving back at their companies were:

  •  4 times more likely to give extra to get a job done
  • More likely to be brand ambassadors
  • More likely to want to stay at their companies long-term
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 learns who your brand is and what matters to you. You’re building connections with members of your community, and your name will be talked about locally in a positive light. And, because word-of-mouth is the top way that consumers make decisions about brands and products, you’ll be generating positive conversations about your brand that will lead consumers to look to you for future needs.

Stand Out from the Crowd

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

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. 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 giving back
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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