Subtle and Effective: Printing with Emboss or Deboss

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

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

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

What is Emboss?

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

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

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

What is Deboss?

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

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

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

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

Subtlety of Debossing with Promo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finding Graphic “Arts” Again with Engraving

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

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

Engraving

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

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

Watch engraving in action in this video:

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

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

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

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Choose the Right Paper for Your Brand

samples of textured stock in a variety of colors
A selection of color choices for textured stock.

What does “printing” mean to you? The first thought that may come to mind is sending a document to a home or office printer and receiving a print-out on white 8.5 x 11 paper.

But this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the capabilities of print. Standard printer paper works great for everyday documents. But when it comes to marketing your business, it’s important to consider the qualities of the paper you’ll be using, including:

  • Color
  • Coating
  • Texture
  • Weight

Not all paper is created equal, and different paper stocks have different roles to play. When it comes to paper, consider: what impression are you looking to create? Also, who is your audience? What message are you communicating? The paper you choose can influence the perception of your business, as well as the look and feel of your finished pieces. Even if a piece looks nice on a certain stock, if that stock isn’t aligned with your brand, you may not make the right impact.

The added dimension of paper is what makes print differ so much from digital. When you create something digitally, it generally appears the same across all platforms. But with print, your artwork can have a vastly different look depending on which stock it is printed on. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to consider which paper you’ll use: you don’t want to spend time creating a winning design but print it on mismatched paper.

Which Stocks?

At Paw Print, our clients generally choose stocks from these 3 categories:

Coated

Coated stocks have a smooth finish and a shine to them. They are ideal for image-focused print jobs, like brochures, posters, postcards or booklet covers. If you plan to include large photographs that you want to pop and impress your audience, a coated stock is the right choice.

The coating can be composed of a variety of compounds, but it essentially works as a sealant to the paper. Since the stock is less porous, inks will stay close to the surface of the page rather than being absorbed, referred to as ink holdout. This provides you with greater color contrast, vibrancy, and sharpness.

Glossy stocks can have a glare, but there are varying levels of brightness to choose from. If you want the look and feel of coated stock without a heavy shine, you can go with a duller coating.

boys and girls club annual report cover with young girl smiling in front of purple background
A recent job we printed on coated stock for the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington. Note the shine and vibrancy of the colors.

When considering a glossy stock, it’s important to think about the end use of your print job. Coated stocks are not a good choice if you want to be able to write on the product. You can use stocks that are coated on one side (C1S) but not on the other, which works well for greeting cards—your artwork will stand out on the front, and you’ll still be able to write on the inside.

The coating gives the paper more weight, so it will feel heavier and of higher quality than an uncoated stock. Though coated stocks can be more expensive than uncoated, they give an upgraded look to your print job. Coated stocks are usually white.

Uncoated

Uncoated stocks have a smooth, soft finish, but without the shine, giving you a more matte look. Since it has not been coated, the paper is more porous. It will absorb the inks differently than a coated stock.

This style has a wider range of applications than the coated stock. We use uncoated paper for business cards, envelopes, stationery, letterhead, and more. Uncoated stocks are ideal if you’re planning to write on the finished piece.

And, while coated stocks are generally white, uncoated paper comes in a variety of colors. Even within a neutral palette, you can go from stark white to more ivory and natural colors. Just a touch of color in the stock can help elevate the impression your piece will make.

Textured Paper

a sampling of Classic style textured paper stock
A sampling of different texture options available in uncoated stock.

While both coated and uncoated stocks have a tactile element to them, textured stocks bring a new dimension to paper choices. You can print on stocks with a linen or felt texture, or with the look and feel of a wood grain. Depending on which texture you choose, the paper can feel softer or rougher and more substantial.

Textured stocks work well for embossing and debossing and will pop when printed with metallic inks.  If you’re looking to wow potential customers with a promotional piece, textured stocks will certainly make an impression.

artistic rendering of a playing card in white and silver ink printed on a blue paper stock
An embossed design coated with metallic ink and printed on a textured stock.

What Does Paper “Weight” Mean?

When you talk about paper in a general sense, you may say “I want a thicker paper.” In the printing world, we refer to paper in terms of its weight. The basis weight of paper is measured by the ream, in pounds per 500 uncut sheets of the stock. If we’re talking about 70 lb. text, it means that 500 sheets of that paper weighs 70 lbs. If we go up to a 120 lb. text, it means 500 sheets of that paper weighs 120 lbs. Thus it is a heavier, thicker paper than the 70 lb.

Another way to refer to different stock weights is by “text” and “cover.” Text stock is like the pages of a book, while cover stocks are heavier, like cardstock. An 80 lb. text stock is lighter than an 80 lb. cover. Cover stocks are best for covers of booklets, business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc., while text stock is best for inside pages of books or notepads.

If this all seems confusing, it can be—you’re not alone. At Paw Print, we know paper, and we’re here to answer all your stock questions. If you’re ready for a new print job but don’t know where to start, stop in and explore our stock sample library, while we guide you through the options.

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Color Trends: The History of Pantone

smoky purple background with white text color of the year 2018 pantone ultra violet

Provocative. Thoughtful. Forward thinking. What do these words mean to you? They’ve been used to describe the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the shade, Ultra Violet has been chosen as the most fitting color for the year ahead, and we’ll likely be seeing it everywhere. But what is Pantone, and how does a color become the Color of the Year?

The Power of Color

When you think about a brand, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many consumers, it’s color. We tend to make judgments about products within 90 seconds of first seeing them. And, up to 90 percent of our decision is based on color alone.white head with colorful arrows pointing outwards

Color is an essential piece of branding. To ensure a color is associated with your brand, you need to be consistent with it. This means that for uniformity, the exact shade must be used across marketing: the same shade of green for every Starbucks sign, the same red for each Coke bottle, and the same yellow for each imprint of McDonald’s’ golden arches. A color can even be trademarked if it is determined to be a critical distinguishing element of your brand.

The easiest way for printers to ensure color consistency is by using a color matching system, where each shade, tint, and hue is assigned a unique number. There are many variations of “light blue.” But with a color matching system like Pantone, any printer anywhere can recreate the exact shade of blue you’re looking for just by knowing its numerical ID.pantone color wheel

Pantone isn’t the only system of its kind, but it is the most well-known. In the 1960s Pantone was a printing company that produced, among other things, color charts for different industries. But at that time, colors were printed based on color name, which led to reprints and inefficiency. Pantone employee Lawrence Herbert bought the company and released the first Pantone Matching System (PMS) guide in 1963, to reduce variability in color printing.

At Paw Print, we use Pantone regularly to ensure the color side of the printing process goes as smooth as possible. Knowing the PMS color of your logo makes it easy for us to guarantee color consistency across all your print materials. With over 1,800 colors defined for printing by Pantone, we’re sure to find the right shade for your brand.

Color on Trend

Over the years, Pantone has expanded its market to provide color standards for other industries as well, including interior design and fashion. Because of this, Pantone is more tuned-in than ever to the color trends that consumers are looking for—and they’re setting trends themselves.

In 2000, they launched their first Color of the Year, a Cerulean blue. Cerulean was associated with optimism, which reflected the cultural pulse and current events of that time as we prepared to enter a new century.

With each color since, Pantone has followed the same process: paying attention to world events and gauging current emotional and cultural trends. Every December, they release their chosen color for the following year. The color is especially important to designers, as it sets trends for apparel, home décor, and other consumer products that will be followed throughout the year to come.four mugs printed with pantone colors

In addition to releasing the color, Pantone produces licensed products like mugs and suitcases, which are popular with a broad market. Earlier this year, they released “Love Symbol #2,” a purple shade created to honor music icon Prince. They’ve also worked with Sephora to develop makeup palates focused on the Color of the Year, showing how important color is for personal as well as corporate branding.

What do you think of Ultra Violet? How would you use this color? Let us know!

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8 Steps to an Effective Business Card

woman pointing at business card
Logo psd created by Freepik

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

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

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

Why Should You Print Business Cards?

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

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

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

Business Card Design Tips

1) Aligned with Your Branding

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

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

2) Focus on Quality

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

3) Ensure Readability

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

4) Talk to Your Printer

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

5) Don’t Forget the Back!

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

6) Get Creative & Design for Impact

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

7) Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity

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

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

8) Convey an Emotion

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

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

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Have You Gone to the Mailbox Today?

Rethink Direct Mail

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

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

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

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

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

What is Marketing Automation?

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

Direct_Mail_Automation_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Business image created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com

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

Some examples of direct mail automation campaigns include:

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

Case Study: A Real-Life Campaign

Prospects_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7 Reasons You Should Be Mailing Postcards

Direct Mail Works for You

Postcards_Paw_Print_And_MailDo you receive a lot of emails? Too many? I know I do. The average American receives 88 emails per day, with office workers seeing over 120. Even if an email is full of worthy content, it can be hard for it to stand out from the rest.

What about direct mail? Some days, my household doesn’t receive any. So, when I do find something in my mailbox, I tend to remember it, and I certainly notice it.

In our increasingly digital world, direct mail is often seen as an outdated and ineffective marketing strategy. But there are many statistics in its favor:

  • About 80% of direct mail is opened
  • 70% of Americans believe mail is more personal than digital communications
  • 56% of consumers have tried a new business, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses, after receiving direct mail from them

And that just begins to scratch the surface of the powerhouse that direct mail can be for your business. It’s even more effective when used as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. Direct mail is also a versatile medium, allowing you to be extremely personal with your audience and adding interest with a range of colors, textures, and shapes.

One of the most popular direct mail formats is the postcard. 56% of postcards are read by direct mail recipients, the most read of any direct mail piece. If you haven’t included postcards in your marketing strategy, here are 7 reasons you should consider doing so.

1. Strong Visual Potential

Postcards are attention-grabbers, standing out among the typically white envelopes that fill our mailboxes. A challenge of direct mail is enticing recipients to open an envelope, but with postcards, everything is immediately visible. Your message is right in front of the reader, increasing the chance that your audience will read your content and follow through on a call to action (CTA). It’s an opportunity for you to get creative, with exciting visuals, colors, and shapes.

2. Concise Content for Consumers

There are many media and marketing messages competing for our attentions on a daily basis. Consumers are short on time, and must be selective in the content they read and watch. Postcards don’t offer a lot of room to get technical, so they require you to be concise with your message. Short, compelling copy combined with attractive visuals effectively gets a message across to your reader, striking their interest and leaving them wanting more.

3. Postcards Save Time and Money

Direct mail is a versatile medium, and each type of mailing has its purpose. More costly mailings can be very effective, but postcards are an affordable option that allows you to cut down on costs while still delivering a compelling marketing message. Postcards are also faster to produce than other mailings. They require no folding or envelope stuffing, and you can eliminate the need for labels by printing the address right on the card.

4. Craft Targeted Campaigns

Other traditional forms of advertising, like television or print ads, allow you to reach a wide ranging but not highly targeted audience. With direct mail, you know exactly who will receive your message, and you can craft that message accordingly. Since postcards are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, you can create different versions to send to segmented audiences based on demographics like location or past purchase history. Messages that are more targeted toward the recipient are more likely to be acted upon.

5. Pursue More Leads

Additionally, postcards are a better direct mail format for pursuing leads. Current customers are likely to be more receptive to receiving in-depth communications from you. But if a recipient doesn’t currently have a relationship with your company, you have to work harder to pique their interest. Since postcards are inexpensive and visually engaging, they can be used to introduce a prospective customer to your company in a visually compelling way, and encourage them to connect with you.

6. Measure Mail Effectiveness

Direct mail campaigns are more meaningful when you measure how effective they are at compelling your audience to act. A postcard with a concise CTA is easier to measure, especially when your CTA includes a coupon or special offer. As recipients use the coupon or take you up on your offer, you’re able to see whether your mailing had the result you were hoping for, or whether it fell flat. You can easily adjust your postcards to do an A/B test, sending multiple versions at one time to find the offer that most effectively converts your customers.

7. Encourage A Conversation

Postcards are a great format for promoting events, as you want lots of visuals and color to encourage people to attend. And, though postcards can be personalized, the format encourages them to be shared in a way that a letter wouldn’t be. A postcard may be viewed by multiple members in one household, increasing the reach of your message and generating a conversation.

At Paw Print & Mail, we’re specialists in direct mail marketing strategies and fulfillment. Contact us today to enhance your direct mail marketing strategy.

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Letter vs. Card Appeal – Which is Best for Fundraising?

Fundraising_Appeal_Paw_Print_And_MailAs much as we wish warm weather would stick around, summer is winding down, vacations have been taken, and a new school year is about to begin. If you’re involved in fundraising for a nonprofit, you’re probably looking ahead to the next few months as you prepare fundraising campaigns to meet end of the year deadlines. Nearly 1/3 of annual giving happens in the holiday month of December, so year-end appeals are critical for achieving fundraising goals. It’s never too early to plan your holiday fundraising strategy, and one of the most basic questions to ask is, what format should I be using?

Fundraising at its core is like any other marketing effort, in that it relies upon making a connection with your donors. Since 70% of Americans find direct mail communication more personal than digital forms of communication, a personalized mailer is an obvious choice for achieving maximum donor impact. Millennials like direct mail too, with over 90% considering it a reliable source of information, so you can be sure a direct mail appeal will allow you to reach a wide audience.

Printing has evolved considerably over the last few years, giving you many format and personalization options. Two of the most popular forms of direct mail fundraisers are appeal letters and greeting cards. Which one should you use for your campaign?

Fundraising “Letter” Campaign

Paw_Print_Mailbox
Created by Freepik

Though the days of hand-writing detailed, personal letters to communicate with personal and professional contacts is long gone, there are still times when sending letters can be effective. One of those occasions is when sending direct mail nonprofit appeals. Letters are still viewed as a personal form of communication, and they offer a chance to speak to your donors in a candid and enthusiastic way.

Letter Tips:

  1. Appeal letters are most effective for continuing your relationship with established donors. Since they have given previously to your organization, they are more likely to read an appeal letter. They have shown their interest in your nonprofit and made an investment, and will want to learn about the developments you’ve made and the goals you plan to achieve with their contribution.
  1. Your best audience for an appeal letter is the group who you expect will make a contribution, likely a significant one. Regular donors can usually be counted upon to give the same amount from year to year, and are more likely to increase their gift than to decrease it. Giving this group a more extensive explanation of your campaign provides them with information upfront that would impact their decision to donate and shows the value of continuing to support your cause.
  1. Letter mailings are flexible. While a minimum mailing includes an envelope and letter, you can include other pieces of content to contribute to your campaign success. The letter can guide your donors through the rest of the mail piece, which could include images, a pamphlet or brochure, remittance envelope or a reply card with a return envelope. You’ll want to tailor your content to what your donor base expects and has worked well in the past, what they would find most useful, and what makes it easy for donors to give. Personalizing any part of the mailing with each donor’s name and address is easily done with today’s print technology.
  1. Appeal mailing frequency. Your donors, especially your consistently loyal donors, enjoy hearing from you throughout the year. There’s a reason these people support your organization—you represent a part of them that feels needed and appreciated at the same time. People love to help and support causes that are meaningful and close to them. Mid-October through December is the signature holiday fundraising season, accounting for more than 30% of annual charitable giving. However, 2-3 additional appeals throughout the year, (for example, one per quarter), increase your ability to stay top-of-mind with your donors and reach your annual fundraising goals. 70% of people believe they receive too many emails, but when it comes to direct mail donor correspondence, including appeals for virtually every touch, you cannot mail too often.

Fundraising Greeting Cards

Nonproft-GreetingCard

A personalized appeal letter is an effective fundraising tool, but it’s not the only format for a direct mail appeal campaign. A greeting card style appeal can be effective by triggering more visual cues when compared to a letter. Greeting cards allow you to connect with donors by reminding them of your organization while emphasizing the importance of each donor’s individual impact in a more visual way.

Greeting Card Tips:

  1. Cards have strong visual potential. While an appeal letter can include visuals, an image is a main component of a greeting card, and the first element a donor will see. Choosing a strong visual will grab the reader’s attention immediately. Recipients are going to spend time looking at it, and if the image sticks in their mind, your organization will be remembered also. A card is also a great place to feature images of or artwork created by individuals who benefit from your organization’s services.
  1. Make it extra personal. As with letter mailings, today’s digital printing technology allows a greeting card style mailing to be personalized as well – from a salutation to start the message, to variable text in key messaging locations, and even using variable imaging.
  1. Treating your major donors extra special. Often, 80% of donations come from 20% of the donors – your major donors. Crafting a card, hand writing a short sentence or two, and signing your name can go a long way towards making a positive impression on your donors. You could have your staff all sign the card, or send it from an individual rather than the organization to add even more of a personal touch. Sending a more personal card to fewer donors can have more of an impact than sending to a larger audience.
  1. Greeting cards appeal to leads and current donors. Greeting cards can cost less to produce than an appeal letter depending on the project specifications. Because they can be personalized for each individual, you can use them to connect with a donor who is at any stage in the giving process. A generous message thanking a lead who has shown interest in your organization but hasn’t yet given could be just what is needed to ensure a gift is made. And it never hurts to thank those who have given for the difference they’ve been able to make.
  1. Keep your message concise. Engaged donors will read the more specific details and story of an appeal letter, while greeting cards may more readily grab the interest of a donor who’s scanning the mail piece. Again, no one format is necessarily the most read for any given donor, so it is worth experimenting with different methods.
  1. Stand out from the crowd. Many nonprofits send holiday cards, and it’s likely your donors will receive more than one this holiday season. The month of December is the most popular time to send holiday cards. Try sending a card during the Thanksgiving or New Year’s period to make your message stand out. You could even send a card during a different time of year, like Valentine’s Day, when nonprofits aren’t regularly mailing cards.

So which is more effective, a letter or a greeting card appeal mailing? As with all marketing and fundraising efforts, it depends, and there is no silver bullet. There’s more than one way to tell your story and both formats possess their respective strengths for making a connection with donors. What IS recommended is experimenting with nuances on each campaign to build your own database of knowledge and measuring results.  Your best choice may be to mix it up and try both, measure and compare the results, and use the newfound data to plan future campaigns.

If you’re looking to incorporate direct mail pieces as a way to enhance your fundraising strategy, contact Paw Print & Mail today.

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The Best Way to Add Value to Your Direct Mail

Direct_Mail_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Personalizing our direct mail letters and envelopes shows potential clients we have experience working with experts in their field.

Direct Mail [Still] Works

When you reflect on the different ways to get your message in front of your intended audience, you may be thinking about marketing emails, social media strategy, or hosting an event. All of these are essential to a well-rounded marketing plan, but a piece is missing. You’re forgetting direct mail.

“Snail mail,” as it’s often called, may not seem like it fits in with the technology-driven world of the internet in which many of us communicate. But direct mail has proven itself as a vital piece of any marketing strategy. Consider the following statistics:

  • 56 percent of consumers believe print is the most trustworthy form of marketing
  • 59 percent of U.S. consumers like to get mail from brands regarding new products
  • 40 percent of consumers will try a new business after receiving a direct mail piece

While direct mail is most effective as part of a multi-channel marketing approach, it holds real potential for boosting your business. One thing that helps direct mail stand out is the personal touch it can bring. Here’s another statistic: 70 percent of Americans believe that mail is more personal than the internet. With so much competition for consumers’ attentions, you need a way to show consumers that you value them as distinct individuals and can satisfy their individual needs.

Personalizing your mail changes the emphasis of your campaigns from what your company does to who the consumer is and how your company can fulfill the consumer’s needs. Your goal is to make a connection with the recipient, whether you are contacting them for the first time or are maintaining an existing relationship.

Personalization Techniques

In an InfoTrends Growth Survey, 55 percent of respondents said personalization of a mail piece increases the likelihood that they will open it. If your goal is to get your message in front of more consumers, your strategy should include personalization. While it takes time to segment your mailing list and create more specific content, you’re going to see an increased rate of recipients opening and acting on your mail piece—a significant return on investment.

One of the most basic ways to personalize a direct mail piece is to use each recipient’s name, in the salutation (i.e., Dear Bob) and throughout the piece. This is a good start, and names should certainly be used over addresses such as “Dear Friend” or “Dear Supporter.” These aren’t wrong, but the less personalized your mail piece is, the less likely the consumer will be to open and to act on it. General terms like “friend” are inclusive, but in the sense that the recipient is one of many, rather than a specific individual that you wanted to reach out to.

Depending on how much you know about the members of your mailing list, you can customize your mail pieces to be as specific as you want. For prospective customers, the information you have will vary based on what you’ve managed to gather, but you can at least segment your list by geographic location.

If you’re mailing to current customers, you can draw from information such as past purchases or how long it’s been since they’ve placed an order. This will affect both the type of mail you send to them as well as the wording and content of the mail piece. In one example, Target sent personalized direct mail to a group of customers who had spent over a certain amount on their Target credit card and included coupons based on their purchase history. Target saw a 50 percent increase in response over non-personalized campaigns they had run in the past. Having the data to be able to identify distinct groups to target can have a big advantage for your marketing strategy and generate more sales.

The end of a direct mail piece offers a final way to personalize the piece. Thinking in terms of a letter format, have the letter be from an individual at your company, and have them sign the letters for a personal touch.

P.S.

Research shows that one of the most important parts of a sales or fundraising letter is the P.S. Very often people will look at the opening of the piece, then turn to the back to see what the offer is. If there’s a P.S. there, they’ll often read it before anything else.

So make sure you always put an appealing P.S. that reiterates the most important points of your sales pitch. Remember, you want every part of your piece to work hard for you. Make sure your P.S. is doing everything it can to convert the sale.

Envelope Tips

Another way to bring personalization into your mailing is to hand address envelopes. This may be ineffective for bulk mailings, but if you have a smaller mailing and can take the time, hand written envelopes could be the personal touch that encourages a consumer to open your mail piece.

Envelopes are important to consider for any mailing, and you may want to give some thought to the appearance of your envelopes if you are using them for your direct mail piece. Traditionally, window envelopes have been used for mail like bills. Using them for your marketing mail can have different effects: because they appear like a bill, these pieces are almost guaranteed to be opened; however, the recipient may be unhappy if they perceive your use of the envelope as a deception.

You can also make your direct mail more interesting by creating a teaser, an image or phrase to print on your envelopes. The hard work you’ve done to personalize your direct mail piece will be lost if the mail is unopened, so your envelope has to be enticing enough for the recipient to become curious about what’s inside. A teaser could include your logo, and it should suggest what is inside without revealing too much or falsely representing what the recipient will find if they open the envelope.

As with any marketing strategy, you’ll want to test different approaches to personalizing your direct mail campaigns. The basic tenet of incorporating personalization in your direct mail pieces is to show value. Including aspects that are personal to a recipient will give them the sense that you value them as a unique customer.  By using your direct mail to speak to consumers’ individual needs, you are also helping to show the value your business can hold for the consumer, giving them a reason to look for you for their next investment in goods or services.

Direct mail services are a big part of what we do at Paw Print & Mail. Contact us today to make your next direct mail piece the best yet.

 

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Do Your Company Colors Match Your Personality?

Color_Branding_Paw_Print_And_MailMaking an Impression

When you buy a new car, sweater, or sofa, you consider a number of factors, like durability, comfort, and ease of use. These are, of course, important qualities. But the initial appeal of the product, what draws you to it, may depend on one thing—the color.

So when evaluating and strategizing your company branding, how does color play into the mix?

Items like sofas and sweaters have the advantage of coming in multiple colors, so if you don’t like one, there may be another that fits your needs. But when it comes to your company’s brand, there can only be one color combination to consider—the one with the best chance of making a good first impression.

And that impression is almost instantaneous. You may not realize it, but you’ve made up your mind about a product in 90 seconds or less from your first interaction with it. In that unconscious moment, your assessment is based 60 to 90 percent on color alone.

Studies show that 93 percent of consumers consider visual appearance of a logo and other branded materials before deciding whether or not to purchase. No matter how compelling your company’s services may be, or how well they are performed, your brand is only as strong as its presentation.

It is critical, then, to make a strong first impression, and color can be an impactful way to do so.

But Which Color?

There are many theories about the emotions different colors evoke, but the guidelines of color association are imprecise. An important reason for this is personal preference. People prefer certain colors over others and associate different things with the same color. Any meaning a color may have comes in infinite variations. Thus, choosing the color yellow for your brand will not automatically make consumers associate your brand with happiness.

This is not to say that color does not have an effect on how your brand is marketed. Rather than attempting to have the color of your logo speak for itself in terms of meaning, you can make sure that the color is appropriate for your brand.

What does this mean? Essentially, you want the color of your logo to represent your brand’s personality. The context of personality is necessary to make color choice important –otherwise, you could use any color.

Content creator network Dashburst found that 80 percent of clients believe color is the primary way to recognize a brand. A common example is Apple, which uses white as its main color. White can represent simplicity and cleanliness, and Apple is aligned with that. Their products are promoted as easy to use with a simple appearance, focusing on clean lines and a basic design. Apple is such a well-known company that the color of the product alone can trigger an immediate association.

Color Speaks to Your Customers

Consumers generally see white as an appropriate color for Apple’s brand. That feeling of appropriateness is important. Choosing a color that a majority of people favor is not as important as choosing a color that customers believe appropriately reflects your brand and what it represents. Though one study found that blue is the favored color of 1/3 of women and over 1/2 of men, blue should not necessarily be used in every logo or advertisement.

By this logic, even an unpopular color can be used to sell a product or brand well if it fits the product. Though brown is only the favorite color of 3 percent of participants in the color survey, it can be used effectively if it is aligned with what the brand does. If you are a woodworker or own a gardening company, shades of brown would be perfectly appropriate to include in your advertising, as it is representative of what you do.

Sometimes it is less about individual colors and more about color schemes. Similar base and background colors with a contrasting accent color help to accentuate the importance of the information presented in the accent color. If your background colors are mostly whites and grays, using red or green in small amounts will direct customers to those parts of your advertisement or website that you most want them to see.

Which Pulls Better, A or B?

It is also important to test different color schemes when you can and track how those different campaigns compare to see what resonates best with your audience. In the Button Color Test, the website of Performable created two pages that looked the same, except for the color of the “Get Started Now” button. On one page, the button was green to align with the accent color scheme. On the second page, the button was red, the only place that color was used on the page.

The result? There was a 21 percent higher conversion rate with the red button page over the green button page. Many sites have such a button, whether it reads “Join Today” or “Donate Now.” You don’t want anyone viewing your site to have to search for these links; having a color scheme that flows throughout the site and a high-contrast button can make aligning with your brand easy.

Other Color Considerations

Whether designing a brand-new logo or re-evaluating your existing logo, before you get too far down the road, here are some additional nuances to consider before you release your brand to the world.

  • Know your competition. If your logo looks a lot like Company X’s, consumers may be confused. Making your brand colors different from your main competitors will help your company to differentiate itself.
  • Keep culture in mind. Different countries and cultures have associations with colors that can vary widely. Though color association is imprecise, there are some colors that have culturally been assigned to certain things, like red and green at Christmastime. If you’re going to market your brand globally, make sure you know your audience and consider how the logo may need to be adapted or changed in different areas to avoid cultural gaffes.
  • Men like shades, while women prefer tints. Depending on which gender you are marketing more strongly towards, you may want to try using colors more appealing to that gender.

Using color is only effective if you choose the right color, one that fits with what you want your brand to say to the world. Ensuring the appropriateness of the color you choose can increase your potential of making a positive and lasting impression on your intended audience.

Whether you have an established color scheme or are looking to start fresh, contact Paw Print & Mail for all your printing needs.