How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

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

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

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

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

First Impression Is Everything

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

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

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

It’s All About Perception

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

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

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

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

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

Focus On Brand Excellence

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

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

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

Your Print Collateral

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

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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8 Steps to an Effective Business Card

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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.

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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

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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

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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 Essential Copy Tips for Connecting with Prospects

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

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

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

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

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

1. Get to Know Your Prospect

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Prospects

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Story + Transition = Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Speak to Your Prospect

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

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

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

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

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

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Write Marketing Copy to Inspire and Motivate

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We are surrounded by words. They are spoken to and by us, written to persuade us, intrigue us, and inform us. Words are a major way that we communicate. Putting words together in creative and compelling ways is a big part of what marketing is all about.

But not all words are created equal. It takes time to come up with just the right copy to convey the value your brand or organization has to offer and make the case for why you are the perfect fit for your audience. Words have power. When you find the right combination, your marketing strategy can shine.

So, what do you need to know to make your copy more compelling and ensure it is read?

1) A Personal Touch

Try addressing your marketing copy from one individual to one individual. If you’re writing a direct mail letter or sending a marketing email, you can send that piece from a specific member of your organization. This makes it more personal. Addressing your copy to an individual member of your audience will grab their attention and give a sense of added importance to the piece. The recipient will feel that the piece was intended for them specifically, rather than as one of many. They will be more likely to read your copy, get the message you want them to receive, and, hopefully, act on that message.

2) Place Your Audience at the Center

When crafting a piece of marketing content, you want your recipient to be at the center of the letter, not your business. This seems counter-intuitive, right? Isn’t the point of marketing to show the value of your company?

Yes…but you want to show your audience that you know who they are, that their individual needs and contributions are important, and that you can provide a relevant solution for them. This shows the value you have for your customers and gives them a reason to value you. Use words like “you” and “your” in your marketing material. Avoid using “we,” as it can work to separate your audience from you. Instead of “we improve children’s lives” try “you can improve children’s lives.” Which one encourages you to act?

Compelling copy will show your audience that you understand their needs and emotions and can address and solve those needs with your products or services. It may take more time to consider things from your customers’ standpoint. But it will pay off in the end when you’re able to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Nonprofit copy shows the value of this. When it comes to communicating with donors, you want to empower them so that they feel their support is making a positive impact, and that their continued help will allow that positivity to continue. Using “you” gives them an active role in your mission, making them feel more connected and powerful. Show them they’re the superhero that’s saving your cause, and you’ll help to ensure their continued support.

When you give your recipients a sense that they can make a difference, you’re tapping into their emotions. Maybe your copy makes them laugh, feel sad enough to want to change something, or relieved that you can provide a long-awaited solution. The use of emotion is a powerful marketing tool. Whether you are looking for someone to donate to or purchase from you, they are compelled to act due to the emotional response your marketing gives them.

3) Grabbing Attention with Marketing Copy

Effective marketing copy stands out. Maybe it causes your audience to see things in a different light, or cites a surprising fact. It may seem like writing copy in the same way as everyone else is a safe bet for maintaining a conflict-free relationship with your audience. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to be edgy or striking in your marketing campaigns. You want your marketing, and by extension your business, to be remembered.

The best place to kick-start your unique copy style is in the headline. Media company Upworthy found that readership of an article can vary by 500 percent just from changing the headline. The first sentence of a piece is where you are going to either lose your reader or pique their interest, keeping them reading on. Your message will not be received if you don’t hook your reader in the headline.

4) Keeping it Simple

Interesting doesn’t have to mean long-winded. It certainly means cutting out exaggeration, overused words, or excessive business lingo.  Don’t feel like you have to make your company or product sound extra impressive, using cliched words like “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking.” If you understand the needs of your audience and can speak to them using the same language they’re using to describe your business, you’ll be more effective. Choose the fewest words that are truly going to say the most, so that every word counts.

5) Style Choice

We all want to believe that our marketing copy is going to be read from beginning to end. But that is not often the case, at least at first. You should assume that pieces like your newsletters will only be scanned by recipients. This doesn’t mean your message will be lost. It means you have to make the most important information you want to convey the easiest to find. Recipients are most likely going to scan the headline, any photo captions, pull quotes, and bold or bulleted information. If you can make these parts intriguing, readers will go back and read more in order to dive into the context.

The most important takeaway about writing good copy? Make it count. The copy you produce is your main way of communicating with customers, both current and potential. If you want to be a successful marketer, you can’t afford to have bad copy.

Need help writing good marketing copy? Paw Print & Mail writes copy as a service! Click here to learn more, or contact Sarah Haselton to discuss your needs.

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5 Steps for Attracting More Qualified Leads

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In a perfect world, there would always be people seeking out your business, in need of the services you provide. You’d have so much business that you’d never have to worry about generating new leads.

Real life is rarely like that. Even if you’ve got a solid client or donor base and your services are in demand, it is a good idea to have a focus on generating leads as part of your marketing strategy.

If you want to increase sales or fundraising for your business or organization, as well as engage new people in what you have to offer, you’ll have to develop a strategy to connect with those who know little to nothing about your company. And while your efforts may seem unsuccessful at first, time and practice will help your business to grow.

In 5 Steps to Growing Sales Automatically, I outline a five-step process for enhancing your marketing strategy, steps I have put into practice to enhance my own business, that work! A recent way I’ve successfully connected with new prospects is by developing a mailing packet to send to a particular vertical market.

Generate Leads in 5 Steps

Step One:

In order to increase growth in your business, you need to have a solid understanding of where your current sales are coming from. Did you know that 5 percent of your customer base can provide over 50 percent of your sales? Often there is a trend among these customers that you can focus on when marketing. It may be where they are located, the size of the business, or age of the consumer. Whether you are a B2B business or a B2C business, there are ways you can find your “perfect customer” to better tailor your marketing efforts. When you’re ready to upgrade your marketing strategy, we can help you find your perfect customer.

Developing our marketing packet began with examining our customer base to determine who is utilizing our services the most. Examine your sales from the past year to find out who is making up that top 5 percent. Then, define those customers. Since we work from a B2B perspective, we asked questions about company size, location, annual revenue, and market niche, to create a picture of the perfect customer. Once you have that definition, you can better determine your sales focus, with a clear picture of which leads you should specifically market to.

Step Two:

Once we determined that we wanted to reach out to more of these particular customers, we identified what kinds of services they need from us—what we can provide them with to best match their goals and objectives. To do this, focus on why current customers that fit the perfect customer niche are using your company. Ask them what services they are happy with, as well as what they may need more of from you. This can benefit your current client base, too. Their answers can help you to reach out to new customers. And, you can improve the experience clients are having with your company, which will in turn boost revenue.

Knowing the kinds of services our current niche clients utilized, we wanted to provide prospective clients with marketing materials that would highlight how we could best meet their needs and help them to meet and grow beyond their expectations.

Step Three:

You know who your perfect customer is and, in general, what they will want from you. Now, you have to figure out the best way to find and connect with them. There are many marketing channels to choose from. The ones you ultimately use will depend on the demographics of your target audience. Using multiple channels, with a consistent message across the board, can be an effective method.

We made use of data channels in order to find perfect customers to market to. We were able to take the criteria that make up the perfect customer, and find businesses which fit those categories.

Step Four:

Increasing sales can seem complex, but can be broken down into a formula:

The perfect customer + a targeted message + the right marketing media = more qualified leads

One way to bring all of these elements together is through the use of direct mail. Since Paw Print & Mail is a printing company, using direct mail and including examples of what we could offer potential customers was how we chose to reach out to new prospects for our particular campaign. 56 percent of direct mail recipients feel value from a piece of direct mail, and showing potential customers both that you can offer them value and that you value them is a major factor in turning a prospect into a client.

Our direct mail piece makes use of personalization to show value. The packet consists of a padded folder holding a pad of graph paper personalized with the company’s logo and contact information. There is also a letter addressed directly to the prospective client, an insert detailing our services, and a business card so they can contact us for more information.

The packet itself is eye-catching, due to its size and originality. In constructing it, we put together our knowledge of what we know these companies need. The folder itself is a useful and relevant tool for this audience, as is the personalized pad. The pad, business card, and insert show that we know what clients in that line of work need. These items also demonstrate the quality of the work we produce here.

Even if it seems like direct mail is not the right method for your business, don’t discount it. No less than digital giants Google and Amazon are two of the top users of direct mail!

Step Five:

The culmination of all this work is a contact follow up plan. If you are inconsistent about when and how you follow up with prospective clients, it’s hard to know if your strategy is effective or not. We have developed a strategy and schedule for mailing and contacting our potential clients. It’s important that your business or organization make a plan and have everyone on board before you begin your campaign.

Our campaign has gotten a positive response, because we tailored the value proposition to what these clients need and understand. It takes more time, work, and money up front to develop and implement a campaign like this. But you can greatly increase your response rate and ROI while making a strong first impression on potential clients.

Contact us to make an appointment to discuss and strategize a plan to generate more leads for your business or organization.

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What’s All the Buzz About Data?

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We live in a world where technology is advancing faster than ever. Making use of technology has allowed information to spread and be gathered on a previously unseen level. Though info has long been collected for many reasons and across many industries, “data” is now a buzzword that has taken on new meaning. We worry about protecting data and recovering from leaks, analyzing data and paying to access it. Data has become a cornerstone of economics. 40 percent of companies around the world are using big data analytics in their marketing strategy. We create data with every web search, every phone call and every purchase.

But what does data mean for business owners? And how can all this information be used to make a business more successful?

Where Does Data Come From?

According to Falon Fatemi, CEO of data intelligence company Node, “without data intelligence to prescribe the right prospects, creatives and number crunchers are stuck in separate worlds.” However, bringing data into the equation can create “a powerful revenue machine.”

Data has strong potential to strengthen your current marketing strategy. Having this information to work from can be an integral part of finding your target audience and increasing ROI.

One way to help target your marketing campaigns is to directly reach out to your audience. Allowing those you’ve already built a relationship with to determine their preferences for the type and amount of content they receive from you can be a way to strengthen the relationship and ensure their continued interest in your company. This data can be used to target specific content to more specific audiences.

It is also possible to develop a database based on information you already have about your clientele. Keeping track of what services or products your consumers are utilizing can be valuable data. It allows you to more deeply consider who may be interested in what, as well as how your services could be altered and improved to generate more interest.

Making use of data for direct mail and email campaigns can lead to a higher response rate. By using it, you are focusing on an important term: relevance. Data can tell you which recipients will likely be more interested in your particular campaign, based on how relevant it is to their situation. By streamlining your campaigns, sending to fewer, more receptive members of your audience, you can save money by not sending to uninterested clients. And, you can increase response rate and potential results, as you market to those who most need or want your services.

Business is also about generating leads. There are external sources from which you can gain access to data. You can pay certain companies for access to lists containing information about consumers and businesses that can be used to find new prospects and areas into which to expand. All of these techniques allow you to segment your marketing content into variables like interest level, gender, and geographic location. You can even separate businesses by size, annual revenue, and trade.

Data has power when it comes to marketing, and it has power under the law, too. Issues related to privacy go hand in hand with data. It’s important to respect both the laws surrounding how you can use data and the promises you make to your customers about how their information will be used. Do keep in mind that, according to a BlueVenn study, 81 percent of marketers only collect strictly necessary data. But 61 percent of consumers would be willing to give up some of their privacy in exchange for better products and services.

How Else Can You Use Data?

There is an obvious benefit to using data to increase campaign response rates and better connect with your audience. But it can also have benefits when it comes to the internal workings of your company. It is possible to collect data about almost anything to do with your business, and this is a valuable tool.

However, it is just as important to know how that information can be used as it is to collect it. Depending on your industry, different information will be gathered about different things. But according to a study by BARC, the Business Application Research Center,  there are four main benefits of data analysis. These include being able to make better strategic decisions, improving control over operation processes, understanding customers better, and reducing costs.

Once you know what the data is telling you, it is important to consider it in light of how the information will improve your business, and what you are going to do with it. You may want to use software that can better help you to visualize the data you are collecting and determine how internal data can be used with external, client-centered data to strengthen your company as a whole.

The BlueVenn report found that 64 percent of marketers in the US and the UK believed they should collect customer data, but shouldn’t analyze it on a daily basis. 51 percent of marketers felt data analysis took too much time away from the more creative aspects of marketing. Just as it is important to find a balance between how much personal information you divulge and make use of, it is important to find the right balance between analyzing your data and implementing the knowledge you have gained from your analysis. If you’re looking to make data analysis a larger part of your business, consider hiring an expert or training your staff to make the most of the information available to you.

Data collection and analysis can be implemented across any industry and any size company for a variety of purposes. It will continue to add value to your company as tools and processes become more streamlined.

The #1 Factor in Email Marketing Success

Drowning in EmailEmail_Subject_Lines_Paw_Print_And_Mail

It’s Monday morning, and you’ve just opened your email inbox. A slew of new messages awaits you, from organizations you follow, stores you have shopped at and accounts you have signed up for.

Chances are, you’ve got a lot to read and little time to do so. With 83 percent of B2B marketers using email in their content marketing strategy, that amounts to a lot of content reaching each consumer. Because of this, 70 percent of email users feel they receive too many emails.

Email_Marketing_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Despite this, email is an important part of marketing strategy, and is particularly effective when used as part of a multi-channel approach, incorporating your message through direct mail, social media and other outlets.  A PEW research study found that 92 percent of adults who are online use email, most on a daily basis.

But when faced with a full inbox, it’s easy for messages to get lost in the shuffle. How do you decide what merits reading?

On the flip side, if you are using email as part of your organization’s marketing campaign, how can you best ensure your content will be read?

The answer to both of these questions is the same: write a compelling subject line.

A strong subject line is critical. It can make the difference between your email being opened and read or ignored. When you’ve put effort into something, you want to share it with your audience. And, you want your message to come across as intended. Even if you work hard to craft the marketing emails you send, neglecting to add a captivating subject line can mean your efforts were for naught.

What Makes a Strong Subject Line?

Length

You’re limited to one line to make your pitch. It’s essential you make it well. Generally, lines with 30 to 50 characters are ideal. The prevalence of email access through mobile devices means that your message will first be seen on a mobile device 40 percent of the time. Smaller screens mean less room for your subject line to be read in its entirety. Also, 50 characters or less results in a 12 percent higher open rate and a 75 percent higher click-through rate.

Personality

Many emails, including spam, come from a generic company email. For consumers, this is impersonal and results in a lower open rate. An email from [company name] suggests a robot. Connecting your audience with a real person by sending your emails from an actual person’s account is important, as 68 percent of Americans decide to open an email based on who it is from.

Including each recipient’s name or location in the subject line adds another layer of personalization that can increase the open rate. Using the words “you” and “your” can also draw readers in and make the subject line more compelling.

Keywords

It should be easy to understand what your email is about. You can use words that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity. If it is the “last chance” the recipient will have to donate or purchase, they are more likely to act immediately than if they do not feel they have limited time. There is a 22 percent higher open rate for subject lines that incorporate urgency and exclusivity. The use of action verbs at the beginning of the line brings that sense of urgency, asking recipients to envision themselves answering your call to act.

Incentive

Your subject line is the incentive to open the email. You want recipients to find value in what you are offering. Convince them that your email will in some way be an improvement in their lives or their business.

Trust

Never use language in the subject line that will mislead your audience. Email can be a way to build consumer confidence in your brand. Any kind of false promises will only lead recipients to unsubscribe and retain a negative vibe from your organization. And always check for typos!

Email Marketing Style Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to use humor, as long as it is inoffensive and will be understood by your audience.
  • Never use all caps, or excessive exclamation points—nothing points to spam quite like those.
  • Using numbers shows the specific benefits your email is offering. Try “increase donor retention by 50 percent” versus “how to increase donor retention.”
  • Phrasing your line in the form of a question leads recipients to want to answer that question, and open the email to see how they compare.

A last tip is to test your subject lines. Depending on what your company or organization has to offer, some strategies will be more effective than others. Tracking the response rates of your different subject lines will reveal which methods work best for reaching your audience.

Email can be incorporated into any marketing strategy. And it’s proven its effectiveness. 47 percent of recipients will open an email based solely on the subject. A strong subject line is an essential part of ensuring your email marketing is communicating your message.

Online Reviews – 50 revealing stats for your business

online-reviews-business-strategy

So you’re eager and ready buy that new range for your kitchen. Or hire a photographer for your wedding. Or you’re in the market for a new SUV. Or want to know where the best Thai food in town is. If you’re like most people, what’s one of the steps you take before plunking down your hard-earned cash?

Read a review

As a consumer, when looking to buy something your decision is most likely influenced by reading reviews, especially as the price tag rises.  EBay was one of the pioneers to implement an online review-based transaction process that turned out to be brilliant yet simple, and the foundation to their sustainability after all these years. Maintaining a positive review score encourages the buyer to give preference to those that rate high, while motivating the seller to do what’s necessary to please the buyer and earn a positive review. Simple, efficient, and generally very reliable.

How often do we see and hear the word value or phrase delivering value when reading or discussing what makes a business successful, success that’s not differentiated solely on price. It’s easy for a seller to “say” they deliver value, because it’s one of the right things to say when in front of a potential customer, but it’s quite another to actually deliver value, which can be measured in so many different ways. What’s perceived as value to one may not be considered value to another. In today’s marketplace, where the customer possesses virtually all the power, especially in an online marketplace, identifying and delivering value to a wide array of customers can be tricky and perplexing.

Enter the review

Customer reviews are the great equalizer in the marketplace. For the buyer they build confidence in the purchase decision, provide peer feedback data, and move them along the buying cycle. For the seller, reviews help get inside the customers’ head, they can (should) cause a business to level-up their game, and they can help to define what value means to the customer. Reviews can also result in a learning, if not humbling, experience.

About five years ago I was introduced to a simple and easy to use automated online survey service for Paw Print & Mail made available to me through one of my trade groups. The service, provided by Survey Advantage, has turned out to be one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever implemented over my 26 years in business. Not only has this tool influenced my sales and marketing efforts, but also my customer service standards; which in turn comes back around to influence sales. Do good work, earn good reviews, and build more sales. Repeat, then repeat again, and again. I call it the circle of business life!

But if you choose to solicit reviews, be prepared for a little surprise, if not disappointment, now and then. Sorry to break the news but life isn’t perfect and sooner or later, no matter how hard you try to please, a sour review will come along. Maybe you really screwed up an order, or maybe it’s not a screw up at all but a miscommunication or perception that has influenced the bad review; but that’s the checks-and-balance part of the equation and the part that makes you better, if you care and pay attention.

The key to handling a poor review is to respond immediately, clearly understand the nature of the complaint, ask what it would take to fix the problem, then do the right thing.

Reviews keep sellers honest and on their A-game when done well and implemented as part of a strategic marketing plan. Great for SEO ranking too!

Looking to grow and generate more leads for your business? Take a look at the following statistics to better understand the full potential of making and managing reviews for your business or organization.

50 stats that show the importance of online reviews

  1. 92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014
  2. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews vs. 29% in 2014
  3. Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
  4. 44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant.This highlights the importance of recency in reviews!
  5. 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more vs. 72% in 2014
  6. 43% of consumers search a business by reviews at least one time per month vs. 38% in 2014
  7. 60% of consumers have searched a business at least six times per year vs. 56% in 2014
  8. There has been a considerable decrease in those that “never” search for a local business online, down from 22% to 9%, and an increase in those that search for a local business every day, up from 7% to 14%
  9. 73% have read online reviews on a desktop
  10. 29% have read reviews on a tablet
  11. 33% believe all local businesses should have websites designed for mobile vs. 25% in 2013
  12. 61% are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site
  13. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, vs. 29% in 2014
  14. 73% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to six reviews ,vs. 64% in 2014
  15. 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews vs. 84% in 2014. This means it’s important to have a large body of reviews, as customers are reading more reviews now than in all years past.
  16. Only 12% are prepared to read more than 10 reviews vs. 16% in 2014
  17. 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
  18. Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two star rating
  19. 57% of consumers would use a business with a three star rating
  20. 94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating
  21. 51% of consumers will select a local business if it has positive reviews
  22. 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
  23. 48% will visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews
  24. 23% will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews
  25. 9% of consumers will phone a business after reading positive reviews
  26. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores
  27. Reliability (27%), expertise (21%) and professionalism (18%) remain the most important attributes to consumers
  28. More consumers are interested in “good value” than before, while less are concerned about the “expertise” of a business
  29. Word of mouth is still the most popular method of recommendation for consumers despite a 2% drop year over year
  30. On average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase
  31. Over half of young people aged 18 to 34 say they trust online reviews more than the opinions of friends and family
  32. 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision
  33. Consumers who read reviews on a smartphone are 127% more likely to buy than those who read reviews on desktops
  34. Reviews are especially important for local searches as they influence up to 10% of the ranking
  35. Only reviews from friends and family are trusted more than online reviews. Reviews from experts and celebrity endorsements are less trusted than online reviews
  36. 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews
  37. The three online platforms dedicated to reviews with the most global traffic are: yelp, tripadvisor, foursquare
  38. 58% of consumers said they have recently (within the past five years) began leaving more and more online reviews based upon customer service
  39. 100% of customers who make over $150,000 annually claim to leave reviews when it comes to a poor customer service experience
  40. Reviews of 50 or more, per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates
  41. 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews
  42. 105% customers are more likely to purchase while visiting, when site visitors interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers, and spend 11% more than visitors who don’t interact
  43. Reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales
  44. 64% of consumers would read online reviews when purchasing technology items
  45. 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores
  46. Between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter the majority (67%) of shoppers from purchasing a product or service
  47. 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews
  48. Number of reviews posted every minute by Yelp users is 26,380
  49. If a business resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers returns back to your business
  50. 38% have read online reviews on mobile internet vs 24% on a mobile app

All stats sourced from 

BrightLocal,  Business2community,  Bazaarvoice,  webrepublic,  reprevive,  Econsultancy, business2community, Reevoo and Social Media Today.

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.