Direct Mail Newsletters – worth sending (again)

Direct-Mail-is-PersonalI met with one of my nonprofit clients today for our annual first quarter review of the fundraising production services we performed for this organization in 2016, and also to get an idea of the results of their fundraising efforts.

The Executive Director announced with much pride and a big smile that 2016 was a very successful year for their fundraising efforts; generously exceeding the goal they set at the beginning of the year! Music to my ears!

What’s the secret sauce?

When asked what they attributed to their success, her response was being in front of their constituency on a regular basis. For the past four years, in addition to the various digital marketing channels they employ, this organization committed to printing and mailing 3-4 newsletter-style publications per year to tell their stories and engage with their clients and donors.

Slow and steady wins the race

Similarly, two of my longest running for-profit clients in Paw Prints’ 26 years so far, continue to print and mail their monthly newsletters without fail; for the past 20+ years and running.

Why do these and other organizations and businesses elect to print and mail a newsletter instead of relying solely on email? Because direct mail works for their business model and client base.

While good for some, is a direct mail newsletter right for your business or organization? Like many marketing strategies, the answer is it depends. It depends on who your ideal client/donor is.

Describe your target audience?

  • What are the demographics of your target audience? Criteria such as: age, income, education, occupation, lifestyle, client buying/donor giving history
  • What is your product or service? Small or low-priced consumer item? Large ticket item? Discretionary income item?
  • What is the lifetime value of a client?
  • Do you sell a value-added product or service, or a commodity?
  • Is the product space you’re in subject to constant and/or rapid change? Or subject to nuanced consistency?
  • What percentage of your revenue is derived from what percentage of your client base?

Looking at these criteria:

  • If you derive 80% of your revenue from 20% of your clients/donors
  • If you sell a high-value product or service
  • If the lifetime value of acquiring and retaining a client is relatively high
  • If your offering or organizational mission is somehow unique, technical, progressive, personalized, and subject to changes in the marketplace
  • If 80% of your target audience fits within a content-engaged demographic profile
  • If your target audience is engaged with the story you have to tell

… Then adding a direct mail newsletter to your marketing or fundraising mix is something to consider. Yes, you can handle all this with an email newsletter, and you should, but including a printed and mailed newsletter as part of a multi-channel approach is arguably a most effective strategy.

Quick reads for busy people

I’m a sucker for good content on the internet; for all the things I’m interested in and wish to accomplish in my personal and professional life. And, there is no lack of amazing content on every conceivable subject from smart people all over the globe.

So I subscribe, and subscribe again, and subscribe some more thinking that “it’s only a short read” and that I’ll get to every one of them. But reality and practicality is a different story! Even my most relevant and desirable eNewsletters get readily deleted when I’m crunched with work and projects – which is pretty much most of the time. When I’m staring at a constantly replenished list of emails in my inbox every day, I find my delete button gets quite a workout. Herein lies the bane of email marketing’s existence – along with overzealous spam filters.

People spend 30 minutes reading their mail

If a potential customer spends a few minutes on your website, that’s considered a good amount of time. What if we told you that they spend 10x more time with their mail?

According to the USPS, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. When it comes to magazines, they spend 45 minutes turning the pages.

Email newsletters are inexpensive to publish but increasingly challenging to be read. With a direct mail newsletter, the recipient has to physically lay their hands and eyes on the piece before deciding to read it or not, typically initiated with a quick “skim” of the content. With a captive and relevant design and headlines in place, the benefit of a physical piece is that it can be saved to be read at the recipient’s discretion and time-frame, away from the competition, clutter and chatter of all our digital media.

Physical mail leaves an imprint in the brain

Millward Brown, a research agency, found that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media did. If people can touch and see a piece of direct mail, they’re likely to be more engaged with it.

A printed newsletter is tactile, triggering more of the 5 senses: touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (ink on paper is classic) that email simply can’t evoke. eNewsletters do the have the advantage of including links, videos, social network connections, etc., which is what makes email so powerful, but on its own, is easily lost or discarded.

People feel that direct mail is more personal than the internet

There’s something about receiving an email that can feel impersonal. It can take a long time for images to load, or they won’t load at all. With so many messages coming into your inbox, it’s hard to feel like any of them are special.

Direct mail, on the other hand, feels personal. According to USPS, 69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet. You’re receiving something tangible–like a ‘thank you’ card vs. a ‘thank you’ email.

Today’s digital print technology is impressive in its ability to personalize a document using variable data printing (VDP) applications. Here at Paw Print & Mail, we’ve employed sophisticated levels of VDP for many years, from simple mail-merge to personal URLs (PURLs) that integrate print and digital automation into a campaign that arguably rivals any multi-channel campaign.

Roughly 66% of people have bought something because of direct mail

According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA), nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.

So what’s the justification and value proposition for considering direct mail for your newsletter marketing? I’ll bring it back to my nonprofit client’s comment at the beginning of this article… being in front of your constituency on a regular basis. The more ways and the more often you can share your brand and value proposition in a creative and relevant manner to your target audience, the more leads you will generate, deals you’ll convert, and money you will raise. Period. Slow and steady wins the race.

Care to talk more about your particular needs and challenges? Contact us at Paw Print & Mail for a chat.

How to Find More Clients like Your Best Clients

If you could attract and retain more major clients or donors, would that be of interest to you? If you had a way to quantify the traits and preferences of your top clients or donors in a way that helped you find more of the same, would you want to learn more? I suspect your answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes!”

Target prospects with the most potential

You’ve heard it said, when it comes to direct marketing or fundraising, data is king. Some would argue that “content” is king, and while content is the stuff that brands are made of, if you’re not speaking to the right audience in the first place, your otherwise engagingly great content is falling on deaf ears.

The success of your marketing or fundraising campaign depends in large part on your ability to understand who your current clients or donors are. The Pareto Principle, best known as the 80/20 Rule, tells us that 80% of our sales or donations typically come from 20% of our clients or donors. If this rings true for your company or organization, does it stand to reason that if you could somehow clone your biggest and best clients or donors you’d increase revenue? The more you can zero in on prospects based on what you already know about our current clients, the better the return on your marketing or fundraising campaign investment.

Be smart about profiling your clients

So how do you go about increasing your knowledge of your existing clients or donors to improve your ability to target new prospects? Using the latest in intelligent data mining technology, one of the best methods is to apply a Demographic Overlay on your database or mailing list.

Working in partnership with Paw Print & Mail and our experienced list broker, and applying their standard Demographic Overlay package, we can append up to 21 demographic elements to your mailing list/database records. This information allows us to create a profile of your best clients. You are then able to leverage this information when making marketing decisions or procuring a new prospect or acquisition list rental for your next direct mail and direct response marketing or fundraising campaigns. Using a profile to target your list selections can result in increased response rates, and decreased mailing costs.

Benefits:

  • Get insight into common demographic characteristics of your clients and prospects
  • Identify traits of your best clients
  • Flexibility – append individual or multiple demographic selects and choose to match your files on name and address, or address alone

Some common demographic elements include: Date of Birth (Month and Year), estimated age (in ranges), current home value, dwelling type, fundraising contributor, gender, owner/renter, estimated household income, length of residence, mail order buyers, marital status, median income, children in home, pet owners, gardeners, outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, etc. Typical match rates range from 50 to 70 percent; however this varies based on the quality and accuracy of your house mailing list. Additional elements are also available. Please contact us to discuss your specific project.

Increase your Campaign ROI

Our response-based modeling will deliver reports on your prospects that have the highest probability to make purchases or respond. This intelligent system can compare two groups of data, such as responders and non-responders, renewals and cancels, donors or lapsed donors, or paid and unpaid. By profiling two unique groups, our modeling solutions uncover the highest probability responders, thus dramatically increasing ROI.

Acting on your client preferences

Understanding what makes your clients unique on a key activity like response, renewal, or payment can give your company or organization a competitive advantage. Our comprehensive report helps you learn what motivates your clients or donors and our consultative session gives you insight on how to increase response rates.

Contact us anytime to learn more or to take the next step toward improving your direct marketing results.

Being Face-to-Face With Your Customers

Truism #1 – the more things change the more they stay the same

You’ve probably come across this truism at one time or another. I have found this phrase to be true on many occasions, which I suppose is what makes a truism, a truism.

Specifically here, this truism refers to a circling back to the fundamental practice of person-to-person sales and marketing. That is, growing your business or nonprofit organization by getting in front of your customers or donors by putting people first and making the relationship the central theme of your efforts; all day, every day.

Pretty obvious right? But in reality, how many sales and fundraising professionals are consistently in front of their customers or donors?And make no mistake, whether a for-profit customer or a nonprofit donor, both are considered a customer because in either case you are selling something – your product, service, or mission – to somebody for money, time, or both.

Whether you’re a B2B business, a nonprofit organization relying on donations, or a B2C business that sells bigger ticket items or only occasional purchases, your success relies on a higher level of engagement with your customer when compared to more consumer-based businesses where the one with the biggest ad budget and lowest prices usually lead.

More accurately, you live or die by how you view and respect the customer; because at the end of the day, the customer is in charge. With more ways to solve problems and vendor options to fix them than ever before, the customer is in the driver’s seat when deciding who to buy from – whether from you or your competitor.

Though dated, I recall this 1990 United Airlines TV ad that speaks to this very topic and is as true today as it was then. Take a look…

Truism #2 – Everything old is new again

While it’s foreign to imagine a time without our digital channels, before there was email, social media, and text messaging, and even before faxing and television, by-and-large, people did business face-to-face; a channel that require the buyer and the seller to be in the same space together telling stories, asking questions, sharing ideas, handling objections, negotiating, and ultimately shaking hands. In direct selling, the relationship is integral and unavoidable, whether positive or negative, and remains to this day, the most effective way to grow your sales, your business, or your brand in a meaningful and sustainable manner.

And you know, or should know, that if you aren’t in your customers’ space, somebody else is or will be. It’s just a matter of time; and in that space and time, your customer will gather information, draw their conclusions, and make their decision. Being the first one they think of is a by-product of making this the year of your customer.

And when you spend dedicated and interested time with your customers, you come to know more about them and their needs. When you can do this at a level that even anticipates their needs and makes their job so much easier as a result, not only do you get the sale, but you build upon the lifetime value of a customer or donor. It’s magical.

It takes effort, but it’s magical.

To this point, check out the following 2016 SalesForce Research data from their Second Annual State of Sales report:

Pulling from the immutable 80/20 Rule, to the 20% that comprise the sales and fundraising leaders in any given sector, they know the importance of the customer connection and are in front of their key customers on a regular business. But for the other 80%, personal contact with key customers tends to be less consistent because it’s so easy to become distracted – by technology, by time management, by the next shiny thing that appears in front of us, by trying the proverbial silver bullet, and by simply becoming complacent.

The leaders in sales, fundraising, and any other occupation – the 20 percenters – attain their success by always focusing on the fundamentals; doing the basic and often boring things that, when consistently applied and repeated over time, yield the desired results. And that thing is focusing on the customer in personal and meaningful ways.

So, I’m not advocating dropping your email marketing or blogging or the social media posts you use to build your brand and awareness, but reminding you (as I do for myself) that everyone else is doing some or all of these things too, because it’s convenient and current with the times. But those who make the extra effort to be in front of their customers this year, will the 20 percenters at end.

4 Content Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business

Paw-Print-and-Mail-lead-generationThe future of marketing is all about content. Consumers want to see exactly what your business has to offer and how it can benefit their lives in a real way.

But what, exactly, does content marketing mean? Literally speaking, content marketing can be defined as a strategic marketing approach which focuses on creating consistent content materials to drive customer and lead generation.

So how can your business get involved with content marketing? Here are four big ideas to get you started.

1. Start a blog
Without a doubt, my Paw Print & Mail blog is my most prolific lead generation machine. Every published blog article adds a new page to my website which increases the number of pages indexed by the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. This strengthens my website’s SEO (search engine optimization) which helps Paw Print & Mail rank higher and more readily when people search for the types of products and services I sell.

But, simply publishing articles isn’t enough, the articles must be written with the reader in mind – providing content of value that informs and helps solve problems. A consistent and well-written blog hosted by your small business or nonprofit organization builds your online authority in your field of expertise and gives you the opportunity to relate to both clients and potential customers at the same time.

A blog is an excellent opportunity for your business to show clients its relatability. Write about topics such as how your product or service can improve lives, testimonials about people you’ve served or why your business is a better option than competition. You can even get personal and write about daily news topics or expert tips from your field.

By far the biggest challenge of adopting a blog as a marketing strategy is consistently devoting the time necessary for it to be effective. If you can arrange it, dedicate an employee to posting one blog article a week through your website, then share the article via your business’ social media accounts or email marketing.

2. Give a guided tour
Your small business can also utilize technology to record and share a guided tour of your facilities, complete with employee interviews and surprise interactions. Some consumers may feel uncertain about working with a business if they don’t know what’s “behind the curtain,” so make them feel comfortable by opening up with approachable content.

Record a video while touring your facilities and show clients the inner-workings of your business. Afterwards, you can share this video as part of your content marketing plan. Customers will feel engaged and attended-to, while also gaining a sense of trust for your small business.

3. Host a webinar
Right alongside a guided video tour is a webinar. While these may sound difficult, they offer a huge opportunity for potential customers to see your business and its expertise in the field. Develop a webinar on instructing clients how to use a specific product or service, offer hands-on training and real-life examples.

The most important part of hosting a webinar is offering real value to people. If consumers feel like your business has something important to offer them, the webinar will be more successful and generate more leads. Once you’ve given the webinar a try, see about making it a weekly or even monthly part of your business’s marketing strategy.

4. Develop a (blank) of the week
If your business is active on social media, create a content marketing strategy based on what you post. One easy method is developing a (blank) of the week… product, service, employee, board member, you name it. This type of content marketing allows consumers to get to know your business better and gives them something to look forward to every week.

One specific example is promoting a Question of the Week. Allow customers to write in via email, social media or snail mail with questions for your business, then answer them every week. This shows your organization’s transparency and eagerness to work with clients on a personal and relatable level.

When it comes to content marketing for your small business, jump on board with these main ideas. The more content you provide, the more involved your customers will feel, and your lead generation will skyrocket. So give it a try, and give it some content.

Marketing 101: What to Avoid

reinvigorate-your-marketing

When marketing for your small business, there’s a number of things you should do. You should hire a designer to do graphic work, you should define your own brand, you should develop a campaign plan and so on and so forth. However, you’re not often told what you shouldn’t do.

The truth is, when it comes to marketing savviness, there’s a variety of practices to definitely avoid. These can be common mistakes or specific scenarios, but they all fall into the category of Marketing 101: WHAT NOT TO DO. If you’re still unsure about what you should avoid while marketing for your small business, check out these top categories.

Lack of Self-Promotion
The idea “My small business doesn’t need any marketing” is a long and archaic concept which should be erased from your brain database indefinitely. The fact is any business wanting to make money should have a marketing and promotion strategy.

You may believe your product or service can speak for itself, and people will naturally come through word of mouth. While this may be partially true, nothing is going to bring in customers more than your own promotion. In other words, your business should sell your business.

Undefined Target Audience
Consider your ideal customer. Someone who fits your business values perfectly, who loves every single product and who would be willing to spend quite a bit of money with your organization. What do they look like? How do they act? How would you define them?

If you’re not sure who your target audience is, develop a plan as soon as possible. An undefined target audience can make your marketing campaigns appear scattered and uncertain, leaving your business looking unorganized and unreliable.

This is particularly applicable to direct mail marketing which carries the investment in graphic design, printing & mailing production services, and postage. Direct mail can be very effective as part of a multi-channel marketing mix when mailing to a targeted audience.

Social Media Ignorance
There’s no way around it: social media is here to stay. That means if you want your business to stay, then social media marketing needs to be a staple. Help your organization out by avoiding social media ignorance.

This means creating a Facebook page for your business, and depending on your target audience, a Twitter or Instagram as well. Not only will you be meeting your customers on a more personal level, but you gain free promotion and increased search engine rankings.

Aggressive Email Blasts
If your small business utilizes email marketing, wonderful. Keep it up! According to Entrepreneur.com, email marketing for mid-size businesses offers a 246% return on investment. However, make sure to be careful about how the emails go out.

An unregulated email blast to all of your subscribers can leave customers feeling more isolated than engaged, and before you know it you have consumers leaving your list. Practice audience segmentation of topics and avoid overdoing timely emails.

False Promises
Above all, when marketing for your small business, avoid making any false promises to customers or clients. False promises can negatively affect your company’s response rate by clients and brand affinity.

For example, if you advertise fast and effective service but fail to treat customers in the same way, potential clients will be unconvinced your business can come through for them. When developing a marketing plan, be clear and concise, while avoiding any confusion or falsity.

Marketing is an important part of any small business plan, so make sure to take it under careful consideration. Decide on what your marketing strategy should consist of, but be reminded of what it shouldn’t as well. Then you can be certain of your business success.

Key Components of Successful Marketing Videos

marketing-video-statisticWhen it comes to marketing, staying current on the latest trends has a vital impact on successful lead generation. Whether it involves a new social media app, a trending topic or an online marketing campaign, a business grows when it stays up-to-date.

Video marketing continues to grow exponentially for online in particular. There are more video posts online now than ever before, and video shares are only expected to increase. If your business wants to stay current on the latest marketing trends, put video to good use.

Interested in getting started? Check out these five key components of how to make a strategic video script which will set your marketing campaign apart and boost lead generation.

1. Get ‘Em Hooked
Like most aspects of marketing, the initial hook of a video script should catch viewers’ attention and draw them in. Let the audience know you are talking to them specifically by addressing them directly. Identify the target audience and brainstorm how you would want to be addressed from their perspective. By giving your video script a strong, attention-grabbing intro, it will draw viewers and set the tone for the rest of a successful marketing video.

2. Connect Emotionally
After hooking the viewer’s attention, establish a personal connection with them. An emotional connection makes viewers feel your company cares for them and the community, thus encouraging them to take immediate action after viewing. As human beings, strong feelings impact our decisions, logic and mindsets; your business can take advantage by connecting with consumers on a deep personal level.

3. Tell a Story
Once you’ve grabbed the viewer’s interest and connected with them, get down to the point. Every successful video marketing campaign should tell a story—the company’s story, the service’s story and benefits or a customer’s story. Use the time to expand and go in-depth on the narrative’s focal points. The goal should be to gain the viewer’s trust and empathy, but take time to give details surrounding the story and lead viewers into the next big point.

4. Share Your Values
When you’ve established a story basis, the time has come to drop a value bomb for viewers. This is the most important part of a marketing video and should be restrained to one short, concise sentence. Until this point, the entire video should be leading up to this moment. The value statement is the main takeaway viewers should get. Keep it values-driven, short and powerful to gain viewers’ attention and make them remember your product or service.

After your business has established its value statement, wrap up with an influential outro. The goal of a video close involves viewers doing something after watching—a call to action. Depending upon the video’s focus, the call to action could be centered on buying a specific product, trying a service or just stopping in to take a look. Be sure to include information for a website, social media or any upcoming events.

Video marketing is a current and useful option to take advantage of for your business. A strong video script consists of five key components, each one with a specific purpose, working together to produce a video and generate successful leads.

By utilizing these component strategies, your company can create engaging, successful marketing videos, which will help promote your product or service. Try it out and see how your business grows.

Put the “why” in your marketing

In a 2009 TED Talk, leadership expert Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

Do you know your company’s “why”? (Hint: It’s not to make money). Think about the core purpose of your business, and then think about how you market your products or services. Are they aligned? As Sinek has found by studying successful companies like Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Patagonia, having loyal customers is all about attracting the people who share your fundamental beliefs.

In each of these companies, and other similarly focused companies and organizations, leadership has flipped the typical business model upside down. Instead of leading a company’s marketing with the “what” of the company – the products and services they sell – followed by the “how” a company does what it does, companies that enjoy the strongest brand loyalty, which tends to translate into profit, lead with clarity on “why” they are in business and “why” they do what they do.

Ideally every product, service, and cause should exist to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Who would buy it or why do it, otherwise? What’s a positive difference? That depends on a person’s need; from making someone smile, to saving someone’s life and everything in between. At the end of the day, the “why” is your most powerful value proposition and not your product.

Your “why” sets you and your business or organization apart from your competition. Your “why” resonates and imprints on your customers’ psyche and emotions which helps shield your “what” from competing solely on price.

It’s your “why” that gets people talking about you and spreading your brand.

Once you are clear on your “why”, share it with your customers and your staff, and sprinkle it into all your marketing efforts. While you may have the best product or service on the market, sharing your “why” will help potential customers understand how working with you will benefit them.

Curious to hear more about what Sinek had to say? Join the over 27 million other viewers and watch his TED talk here.

Sinek-TED-Talk