10 Essential Outdoor Promotional Products

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Summer has arrived, with Vermonters trading winter coats and skis for flip flops and camping gear. This season is especially hot for outdoor promotional products, with a variety of items available for branding that emphasize being active and enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer.

Here are 10 of our favorite picks for branded outdoor promotional products.

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8 Steps to an Effective Business Card

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The business card is an old dog that’s learned quite a few new tricks.

A lot of different print work comes through our doors at Paw Print, but business cards consistently remain the most popular order. Business cards trace their roots back to 15th century China, when visitors left “visiting cards” at the homes of businessmen they hoped to meet with. Over the centuries these cards evolved to convey a variety of information, but one thing remained constant: they were designed to make an impression.

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?

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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.

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4 Essential Copy Tips for Connecting with Prospects

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Lead generation is an important piece of marketing any business. And writing compelling copy is essential for connecting with prospects. The right copy with the right message behind it will give your marketing campaigns a significant edge over your competition.

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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?

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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. Continue reading “5 Steps for Attracting More Qualified Leads”

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?

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The #1 Factor in Email Marketing Success

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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. Continue reading “The #1 Factor in Email Marketing Success”

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.