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.

Lead generation and brand building with a printed Newsletter

Hanson Doremus NewsletterTalk about consistency and discipline, Hanson & Doremus Investment Management in Burlington, Vermont has not missed publishing and mailing their monthly investment newsletter Thoughts to their clients and key prospects since 1995. I know this because Paw Print & Mail has had the privilege of being their printing company since that time.

When asked why founder Eric Hanson persists mailing his newsletter all these years, particularly in a digital age, he knows there’s no substitute for disseminating the valuable work that goes into producing such a document, while reinforcing his brand, than putting it right in someone’s hands. Says Hanson, “It’s far too easy for people to pass over or delete an email in a crowded inbox. We still believe in mail because it’s tactile, it has shelf life, and because mail has become more unique and impressionable than email. We make the digital version available on our website, but the printed version gets more readership.”

A newsletter is a cost-effective medium for building and maintaining regular contact with customers and prospects. In its 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends study, the Content Marketing Institute found that 78 percent of respondents used newsletters. Research firm Nielsen Norman Group asked respondents how they preferred to receive company updates, and 90 percent cited newsletters, compared to 10 percent for social media.

Developing a newsletter program with a solid audience will prove to be a very important marketing asset for the duration of your company. Think about how on any given website you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of a visitor before they are potentially gone forever.

Developing a strategy to attract new customers and retaining existing clients is crucial to successful marketing. Maintaining a company blog is a great way to get your personal message out to many viewers. But a blog is a passive effort, meaning a user must navigate to it in order to get the message. Transforming a passive blog into a pro-active newsletter program is a logical ancillary step.

Build Awareness:
Publishing a newsletter gives you the opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of your company and its products and services. Customers and prospects may have a limited perspective of what your company can offer if they only view your advertisements or receive promotional email. Newsletter content builds a broader picture. To encourage readers to find out more, add a call-to-action to encourage action and include links to more detailed information on your website.

Demonstrate your Expertise:
A newsletter can demonstrate your expertise and build confidence in your company as a potential supplier. Marketing consultancy PR20/20 notes that newsletter content that provides valuable information to customers and prospects helps to establish a company as an industry leader. To establish leadership, include articles that cover important issues in your market sector or share information on industry research. Provide details of any conferences where your company is making a presentation.

Promote your Business or Organization:
You can use newsletters to promote products and services or launch new products. Including information on special offers helps reinforce the effect of your advertising and promotional campaigns. Running special offers exclusive to readers enhances the value to the newsletter. You can integrate newsletter content with other elements of a new product launch by including announcements and articles related to the product.

Connect with Your Clients and Prospects:
Issuing newsletters at regular intervals – weekly, monthly or quarterly – helps you maintain contact with customers and prospects between purchases or sales calls. If you face a decision-making process that is long and complex, for example, you can use newsletters to communicate with all decision makers throughout the process. If customers buy your products or services infrequently, you can maintain contact between purchases so you build a strong relationship before the next sales opportunity.

Expand your Marketing Footprint:
Newsletters can help you increase the coverage of your target audience. By placing information about the newsletter on your website, you can capture contact details of new prospects by asking visitors to subscribe. Issuing newsletters by email to all of your customers and prospects is a low-cost method of communication, leaving more in your market budget for advertising or other promotional activities. Newsletters are therefore an extremely valuable marketing tool used by ourselves as well as by our customers. If you don’t have a newsletter, here are twelve reasons you should:

1. To increase awareness. Your newsletter should give enough information to create awareness about what you are offering your customers. People should get a good idea of how it would be to deal with you, or to buy your products, so that when they leave, they will feel compelled to find out more.

2. Position your brand. You should create the best first impression about your products or services on your newsletter. Customers tend to use your marketing and communication tools to form an impression of your business. Newsletters are an extremely strong marketing tool to differentiate businesses from one another.

3. To get more business from current clients. A newsletter is an effective way to let clients know about your other services and show them how they can benefit from those services, without being “pushy”.

4. To get repeat business from former clients. People who used your services or bought your products once will purchase again–when they’re ready. A newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with them until they are.

5. To educate prospects. A newsletter that provides prospective clients with valuable information helps them make better decisions, allows you to demonstrate your expertise, and provides a mechanism for staying in touch with them until they are ready to hire you.

6. To generate word-of-mouth referrals. Newsletters have pass-along value. A good newsletter will be shared with an average of three other people, even more online.

7. To build your contact list. You can offer visitors to your website a subscription to your newsletter in return for providing their email (and other contact information). When speaking or networking, you can offer to send your newsletter to people who provide you with their business card.

8. To establish expertise and credibility. Your writing helps prospects, publishers, reporters, meeting planners, and referral sources see you as the expert you are.

9. To provide content for, and traffic to, your web site. Your newsletter can drive traffic to your website or blog. Your newsletter content can be re-used as content on your web site or blog, generating additional traffic from search engines and social media.

10. To shorten the sales process. People who respond to your newsletter are better informed about what you do and pre-sold on your ability to do it, in contrast to people who come to you via advertising.

11. To serve as a networking tool. Your newsletter is a tool to reach out to other professionals. You can interview them for an article, conduct a survey, ask them to write an article, or ask permission to put them on your mailing list.

12. To add value to your services. A newsletter can provide an added benefit for clients. Give clients “subscriptions” or added value to current services or discounts on products. Put a price tag on the newsletter but send it free to current clients.
A newsletter requires an investment of time, and possibly some capital, but the return on that investment can be substantial. If you want to grow your business, a newsletter is one of the most highly leveraged marketing activities you can do.

Since 1990, Paw Print & Mail has been the reliable and expert source for printing and mailing newsletters, nonprofit appeal campaigns, and B2B printed communications of all kinds for hundreds of businesses and organizations. Read our reviews or contact us to plan or produce your next project.