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. 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. Such systems assign a unique number to each shade, tint, and hue. 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 printing  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.

Pantone Puts 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. This 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. 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

smiling woman opening direct 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.

chalkboard with drawn envelopes mailing
Business image created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com

Automation often relies on a trigger system. When a prospect completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list, it triggers your software to send an email to them. Automation is regularly used for digital marketing processes. 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

profiles of prospective customers
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. 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. Personalized to the recipient, the package showed our knowledge of their industry and reached them on a personal level. The message–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
  • A description of our services specific to that audience
  • Contents 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. Then, we followed 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. It stood out among 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

Sampling of Paw Print postcardsDo 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.

Direct Mail Works for You

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. 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. 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. This increases the reach of your message and generates 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?

smiling woman opening 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. A year-end appeal is critical for achieving fundraising goals. It’s never too early to plan your holiday fundraising strategy. 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. 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

illustration of mailbox with envelopes
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. They offer a chance to speak to your donors in a candid and enthusiastic way.

Letter Tips:

1) Appeal To Established Donors

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. Now, they’ll want to learn about the developments you’ve made and the goals you plan to achieve with their contribution.

2) Encourage Larger Gifts

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. They are also 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.

3) Letter Mailings are Flexible

A minimum mailing includes an envelope and letter. But 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.

4) What’s Your 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

nonprofit appeal thank you cards

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) 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. If the image sticks in their mind, your organization will also be remembered. A card is also a great place to feature images of or artwork created by individuals who benefit from your organization’s services.

2) 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.

3) Special Treatment for Major Donors

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.

4)  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.

5) Keep Your Message Concise

Engaged donors will read the more specific details and story of an appeal letter. 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.

6) 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. 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

customized direct mail personalization letter and envelope
Personalizing our direct mail letters and envelopes shows potential clients you 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” may not seem like it fits in with our technology-driven world. 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. There is 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. It can be placed in the salutation (i.e., Dear Bob) and throughout the piece. 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. However, it gives 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. At the very lest, you can 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. The mailing included coupons based on customer 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. Have that person 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. 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. Your envelope has to be enticing enough for the recipient to become curious about what’s inside. A teaser could include your logo. It should suggest what is inside without revealing too much. And, never falsely represent 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 gives 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. This gives 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?

Brand colors on cork boardMaking an Impression

When you buy a new car, sweater, or sofa, you consider a number of factors: durability, comfort, 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. 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. Color can be an impactful way to do so.

But Which Colors?

There are many theories about the emotions different colors evoke. However, 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, 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. Brown was only the favorite color of 3 percent of participants in the color survey. But 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. 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

Want to design a brand-new logo or re-evaluate your existing logo? 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. Color association is imprecise. But, there are some colors that have culturally been assigned to certain things. (Think red and green at Christmastime.) If you’re going to market your brand globally, make sure you know your audience. 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 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.

Direct Mail Marketing, Alpha Romeo Style

Alfa-Romeo-mailing-panelWhat’s the most powerful and effective way to engage your clients and prospects in your marketing message? Speak to them one-on-one. Communicate in such a way that each person you mail to knows, or better yet feels that they are special to you; that you have something to say that they’ll be eager and enthusiastic to hear about.

One of the best ways to do so is by using one simple word… “You”.

The following real-life example and images are used to illustrate just how valuable it is to speak to your target audience when conveying your brand in your sales and marketing messaging.

And by “brand”, I don’t mean just the logo, which is only one graphical representation of your brand; but your BRAND – that special something about your company or organization that defines who you are, what you do, and how you do it. It’s what attracts customers to your company, converts them to customers, and prompts them to spread the word.

I’m a car guy. I am a big fan of sports and performance cars, both vintage and new. Back in the day, I drove a bright yellow 1973 Triumph Spitfire; one of those teeny-tiny British 2-seat roadsters that helped define the classic wind in your hair (when I used to have some) description of top-down motoring. To this day I’m still an enthusiast and enjoy driving cars for more than mere transportation. My current Audi has a manual transmission with a stick shift that for me, is simply fun!

So when this mailer arrived in my mailbox from Berlin City, the local Alfa Romeo dealership for this Italian car manufacturer’s reintroduction into the US market, they had done their homework by identifying me as a member of their target audience – someone with an interest in fun sporty cars.

Let’s breakdown this mailer… Alfa-Romeo-mailing-panel

First, the iconic Alfa logo and branding is front and center on the outside of the mail piece. They don’t design logos like this much anymore.

 

Alfa-Romeao-Greeting-Paw-Print-and-MailI turn the piece over to find the headline at the top that reads:

YOU ARE INVITED TO EXPERIENCE THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA.

This could have easily been written to read: CHECK OUT THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA INSIDE; and while I still would have been curious, the actual headline speaks to me by using the word “YOU”.

They also used another very powerful word in this headline… EXPERIENCE. Let’s face it, the fundamental function of a car is transportation; carrying people and things from point A to point B. Any car can do that and for many people, that’s all they need, want, or expect out of a car. But for the driver of a hot Italian red car like this, the point, or more aptly the unique selling proposition, shifts from utility to emotion, and the experience you see, hear, and feel when behind the wheel of this automobile.

Alfa-Romeo-Direct-Mail-Paw-Print-and-MailNext, I open the mailer and the very first thing I notice are the letters VIP – with the “V” creatively crafted using the V-shape of the Giulia’s classic signature Alfa Romeo front grille.

We’ve been trained through language and marketing to put a high value on the letters VIP, and it works every time. Then, right below the VIP is the coupes de grace… the Call-to-ActionSchedule your personal Test Drive Experience, employing an equally influencial derivative of the word “you”… “your”.

Alfa-Romeao-OfferPaw-Print-and-MailYes, there’s more throughout the mailer that visually shows off the car, along with an attractive lease offer, but the REAL call-to-action is the invitation to experience driving this car; because Alfa Romeo and the dealership are pretty confident that once driven, the sales process gets much easier from there.

People buy on emotion

So THIS is a great example of the power and attraction that direct mail has and will continue to have so long as marketers know how to use it and apply direct mail marketing’s three fundamental best practices:

  1. Know your target audience and focus your time and budget on them
  2. Include a compelling offer that speaks to the person and evokes emotion
  3. Design the mail piece to be relevant and attractive to the target audience; integrating personalization and the word “you” whenever appropriate.

For the best experience and results for your direct marketing projects, Contact Paw Print & Mail to discuss your objectives and needs with us.

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.

Top 7 Ways to Grow your Business on a Small Marketing Budget

Paw-Print-Mail-MarketingI don’t know what it’s like in your business or organization, but here at Paw Print & Mail, summertime is our slower season. The pace will pick up soon as people come off vacations, schools ramp back up, and businesses and nonprofits in general return to the mindset and realization that “as the 4th quarter approaches, it’s time for that final drive downfield to end the year with a score!”

Quite often, the first thing to go when times get slow or get tough, is the marketing budget. But that’s a mistake as marketing your business or organization is essential, especially during the slow times and tough times, to maintain brand awareness and being “top-of-mind” when your customers are ready to buy.

Try these seven low or no-cost tips to create a “buzz” and generate leads when your marketing budget is small.

Social Media. Devote time to setting up or improving your Social Media footprint. It requires little in terms of financial investment but does require a time commitment in providing high-value content and frequent updates.

So, what’s “high-value content”? This depends on who your customers are and what products or services they sell or provide; but some of the most valuable and high-ROI content you can generate is simply paying attention to what’s happening in your customers’ worlds and promoting them.

The sweetest sound to anyone’s ears is the sound of their name, including their business name. By simply devoting 30 minutes a day or every other day towards seeking and finding tidbits of information on your clients’ world, and posting a “shout out” on your Social Media site to mention their event, storewide sale, awards, accomplishments, and achievements, to express thanks for the project you and your team just completed for them, or kudos to them for how well they took care of you as their customer – goes a long ways towards building goodwill and strengthening your relationships.

Public Relations. Getting PR for your business does not require paying a PR firm. Check out local journalist gatherings or contact media directly. Get to know your contacts and help them learn about your business and how you provide value to your clients. Come up with your own questions and answers to make their jobs easier too.

Network. Expanding your circle of professional contacts can help drum up more business. Consider bartering your services for services you need but do not have adequate skills to perform.

Another effective form of networking is to invite your clients’ out for a cup of coffee. Asking a client or prospect to lunch can sometimes feel like too much too soon depending on where you are in the sales and marketing “dating” process, whereas a coffee visit is a more casual outreach towards building client relationship. If this sounds more palatable, give it a try; who isn’t game for a coffee break on some of those more hectic days?

Increase Your Community Involvement. Being involved in your community, whether on a nonprofit board, as an organizer or participant in fundraising or civic events, as an advocate or ambassador for an organization, by donating your products or services to a local charity, or on some level that finds you working with others towards a common goal or cause, can result in building your personal and professional brand, and social capital.

The key point here is to be involved for the love and benefit of the cause and not for self-promotion. By doing so, not only will you meet new people to strike up new relationships while making a positive difference, but the exposure and involvement can be good for business as a side benefit as well!

Try Direct Mail. Direct mail has been producing solid returns for years. If you haven’t sent a mailed piece to your list in a while, it might be time to consider sending a campaign via mail to help support what you are doing online as well.

To optimize your direct mail budget, thoughtfully construct your mailing list to include true target audience recipients to avoid wasting printing and postage dollars on mailing to those who are less likely to buy what you sell. At Paw Print & Mail, we’re experts at direct mail marketing and helping our clients optimize their mailing dollars.

Ask for referrals. This often overlooked function feeds off the most powerful form of marketing there is – word of mouth – to produce faster results than most any other type of approach.

Testimonials. Similar to referrals, ask your clients for testimonials and begin adding them as positive reinforcement content on your website, brochures, direct mailings, and Social Media sites.

At Paw Print & Mail, we contract with online survey specialist, Survey Advantage, to collect post-sale customer satisfaction data that we then post on our Paw Print & Mail Reviews page to not only inform visitors, but to optimize our SEO strength.

So you see, when you focus on “relationship”, it doesn’t necessarily take a large advertising and marketing budget to pull together some very powerful, organic, meaningful, and sustainable tactics to get your business or organization through the slow times, and beyond.