Nonprofit Promo Enhances Fundraising

Promotional products have been around for a long time. And they’re becoming ever more prevalent and desired. 80% of us have at least one promotional product, and over half will use that item at least once per week. Promo is a sure-fire way to enhance marketing strategy, helping nonprofits to achieve goals and generate more fundraising dollars.

4 Reasons Promo Benefits Nonprofits

1) Increase Brand Awareness

A major function of promotional products is to make prospective donors aware of your brand. Any item with your logo or message printed on it is a chance to increase awareness and recognition of your nonprofit’s brand and mission. High-visibility items like bags, apparel, or bumper stickers allow your donors to show their support for your organization. At the same time, individuals who aren’t associated with your nonprofit may begin to see your brand more frequently, inspiring them to learn more about your mission.

promotional product statistics

2) Generate Revenue

Promotional products make effective and attractive giveaways. They are also a potential source of revenue for your organization. If your nonprofit has a popular motif or tagline, you can sell items to individuals who are passionate about your mission and want to represent you in their day to day activities.

3) Incentivize

Sometimes it may be appropriate to incorporate promotional items into the gifting process. For instance, you can set up a tier of gifting, so that each donor who gives up to a certain amount receives a certain item, like a mug. From there, donors who give up to the next tier receive a larger item, like a shirt. Many of your donors may choose to give regardless. However, the promo item gives a further incentive to do so while thanking them with a nice gift they can use to further promote your brand.

4) Recognize and Thank Donors

Your donors give because your organization has special meaning for them. They’re the lifeblood of your nonprofit, making it possible for you to continue your good work and further your mission. You can use promotional products to show your appreciation for your donors and recognize the importance of their contribution. Via direct mail, you can send your top donors a thank you gift, like a stainless-steel tumbler or a fleece jacket. Include a handwritten note to make it extra personal, or explore variable data printing to customize the item with the donor’s name.

Promo Tips

A study by ASI, the Advertising Specialty Institute, found that the average cost per impression for a TV advertisement was 2.5 cents. In contrast, the average cost per impression for promotional products was just 0.7 cents. The financial benefits of promotional products are clear. But there are a few things you should consider before investing in promo for your nonprofit.

First, ask yourself why you are using promo. What are your goals? As with any marketing strategy, to understand the effectiveness of using promotional products, it’s essential to know where you are starting and where you hope to be.

Also, does the promo item match your mission? Is it aligned with your brand? You’ll want to use the same logo and color scheme currently associated with your nonprofit. That way, there is a clear relationship between the item and your organization.

And, ensure that the product will be useful for your specific audience and speak to their needs. Items that work well for one demographic may not be ideal or make sense for another group.

Promotional products are a marketing tool, and like any marketing device, they reflect your brand. This not only refers to the content you imprint on the items, but also the items themselves. It can be tempting to order a high quantity of an inexpensive promotional item, and there are several economical options available. However, just remember that any item you put out there branded with your logo reflects your brand as a whole. If you’re promoting your organization with an item that is flimsy or the decoration does not hold up, potential leads will associate that with your nonprofit’s abilities, even if you’re doing good work. How your organization is perceived—even subconsciously—is the foundation for all you do.

6 Nonprofit Promo Ideas

Need some ideas for your nonprofit’s next promo campaign? Check out these 6:

Tote Bags

branded tote bagIt’s estimated that promotional bags generate an average of nearly 6,000 impressions during their lifetime. That’s more than any other promo product. With eco-friendly alternatives being popular and sought after, branded reusable bags are a solid choice to give to donors. They’re an inexpensive option that’s sure to be used and seen.

Branded Apparel

Shirts, jackets, vests, hats, socks…the list of apparel items available for branding with your logo is nearly endless. Like bags, clothing items are highly visible. Branded t-shirts make great giveaways, and nicer jackets are perfect as thank you gifts for top donors.

Desk Items

It’s always important to know your audience. Promo is no exception. If you know that many of your donors work in a corporate setting, desk items can be a way to create promo donors will see and use every day. Popular items include, journals, padfolios, mousepads, water bottles, and tech gear, like phone stands and power banks.

Drinkware

branded patterned water bottles

Water bottles are useful in the office and on the trail. Drinkware, like water bottles, thermoses, tumblers, and insulated mugs are ideal promotional items. They’re functional in a variety of settings, and they travel with you. Whether your donors are going on a hike or heading into a meeting, they can carry your branded drinkware with them.

Giveaways

If your organization is hosting or attending events regularly, having promotional items to give away is an effective lead generation tool. Depending on your audience, your items may differ. Some popular choices include pens, key chains, note pads, lip balms, and stress balls.

High-End Gifts

While your giveaways may be high quantity and low priced, the promo market also includes higher quality items that you can reserve for special donors or board members. When you want to say thank you in a special way, look to gift sets, ball point pens, embroidered jackets, or a debossed journal.

Wear Your Mission on Your Sleeve… Literally

nonprofit promo slogan tshirts

Apparel is often used in a nonprofit context to outfit volunteers working on your behalf, as staff clothing or donor gifts, and to sell at events and on your website. When it comes to adding branded apparel to an organization’s marketing mix, a thoughtful approach to the personal side of apparel and how you decorate your shirts, hats, scarves, etc. is an opportunity to make a lasting visual impression.

Our preferences in what we wear is a very personal choice.  When considering an investment in branded apparel, metaphorically try taking your organizational hat off and putting your personal hat on. Ask yourself, what would I want to wear if I was given a shirt or hat from this organization?

Having your logo on a garment means something different to you, as a staff member of your organization, than it does to a donor, volunteer, or consumer. To you, it’s a uniform of sorts; you ARE the logo on the shirt. And while a donor, volunteer, and consumer may relate similarly to wearing your organization’s logo, there is still a fine distinction between you and them about the meaning of wearing your brand.

So what to do? Consider adding your slogan, tag line, or value proposition statement to the garment. Doing so bridges the gap between staff and constituent with a common theme that starts conversations and elicits emotion and identity for your cause. Doing so puts the emphasis on the statement more than the organization. Your statement is the “why” people identify with your organization, volunteer, and give money.

It also helps to keep the statement or slogan short and sweet. Humor or levity help when it’s appropriate. Applying a unique artistic branding element to the slogan helps build awareness and alignment for when it’s used in various ways and mediums. Bold creative can work, but big and gaudy may not depending on the demographics of your constituency.

At the end of the day, if you’re spending hard-earned money on apparel, think it through and design it so people will actually wear it… and wear it happily.

Promotional products can be a major way to increase fundraising dollars and make more potential donors aware of your brand. If you want to make promo a part of your campaigns, Paw Print can help! Explore our online catalog, or give us a call at 865-2872 to start the conversation.

Scorpion Marketing 101

scorpion on white background
Get your prospect’s attention with a Scorpion Marketing Strategy!

Ever feel like you’re beating your head against a wall trying to sell to the unsellable, qualify the unqualified, or get responses from the unresponsive?

You are not alone. As a sales professional and/or a business owner, much of the anxiety, frustration and weariness that happens in growing sales and a business is directly related to these activities.

Are you comfortable, if not jazzed, to have conversations with clients and prospects but discouraged with how difficult it is to get people to engage?
What if you could increase the ROI on your sales and prospecting efforts with a non-intrusive strategy to engage and generate more leads?

Consider Scorpion Marketing

If you walked up to your desk and found a scorpion looking up at you, would that get your attention?! Probably safe to say you might even jump back… whoa!!!

There are certain things that happen in life – and in business – that GRAB our FULL attention and cause us to act on the situation at hand.

Scorpion Marketing is an ACTION designed to get a REACTION. It’s a tactic that’s guaranteed to get your intended audience’s attentions despite the competing forces vying for those persons’ attention.

Putting People First

Growing a successful business is all about seeking and establishing relationships with people who have a need for your product. Virtually all sales and marketing investments and efforts are born with the intent of generating leads. Leads are the spark of opportunity for prospects to build familiarity and trust with you, your company, and your product. Generating a viable lead is the cornerstone toward meeting a prospect’s need and converting a sale.

But sales and prospecting is tough work! You may have the best product and service to meet someone’s need. But until they fully understand and experience your offering, you’re just one of the pack. And even before that, until you get face-to-face with a prospect to fully understand the problem they are trying to solve, you’re at a loss as to how and even if your value proposition is relevant to them.

All of this brings us back to the importance of generating a qualified lead to trigger your business development process. That’s where Scorpion Marketing comes in.

How Does Scorpion Marketing Work?

At Paw Print & Mail, we’ll design a strategy utilizing an attractive and relevant direct marketing package and follow up process that’s guaranteed to get the attention of your key prospect or client. Like reacting to the scorpion on your desk, our Scorpion Marketing process will set you apart from your competition and exponentially increase your ability to directly connect with your prospects and begin the relationship building process.

Above all… Scorpion Marketing spurs the engaging activity that leads to sales. Scorpion Marketing is prospecting on steroids, which is more fun and rewarding than the typical prospecting you’ve done (and dreaded doing) in the past.

To learn more about our Scorpion Marketing service, contact Tom at tbrassard@paw-prints.com or call Paw Print & Mail at 802.865.2872.

Key Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs Branding

Chalk board with branding and marketing words

When you consider the word “branding,” what comes to mind? You may think of well-known companies like Apple or Target, that advertise on a large scale and whose characteristics are immediately recognizable to most of us, who come into frequent contact with them.

But the concept of branding is just as important for small businesses as it is for large companies. And, it’s an essential piece of increasing awareness for nonprofits as well.

The obvious reason for nonprofit organizations to spread awareness of their brand is to increase donations and build a reliable donor base. However, according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are stepping up their brand management in order “to explore the wider, strategic roles that brands can play: driving broad long-term social goals, while strengthening internal identity, cohesion, and capacity.”

Why Should You Build a Brand?

Like any other entity, your nonprofit has a unique set of goals, characteristics, and stories. When you bring these together to form a recognizable and repeatable persona, you have a brand. The first thing most people think of when they hear the word brand or branding, is an entity’s logo. While this is one branding element, it’s only the beginning. The style, graphics, and words your organization uses to communicate all convey your brand.

But what can branding do for your nonprofit?

Differentiate

Creating a brand around your nonprofit allows you to separate yourself from the crowd. There are a lot of nonprofits out there (over 4,000 in VT alone!) and invariably there are other organizations with the same general mission as yours. To make a connection with donors and bring precious fundraising dollars your way, you must tell a story that illustrates the unique mission of your nonprofit.

Illustrate Your Goals

black and yellow dart board with multicolored darts
Business image created by Waewkidja – Freepik.com

Helping donors to understand the specific goals your organization is working to achieve is a critical reason for developing a brand. Branding allows you to project your mission as an indelible piece of your organization. Potential donors can recognize these goals as the core of your brand, helping to reinforce your purpose.

Establish Authority

Nonprofits follow the same sales and marketing rules as businesses—it’s going to take multiple touches before a potential donor will make a gift. They will have to encounter your organization several times until it becomes familiar to them. Having a brand allows you to create one cohesive image that you can present to the world. The more a potential donor sees that image, the more recognizable you become, and the more likely they are to engage with you. Branding can also give you a professional image, increasing your sense of authority.

Strengthen Internal Identity

man and woman volunteers posing
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

The Stanford publication referred to branding as a way to reinforce internal identity. While your brand works to become familiar to potential donors, establishing a brand also helps to give your employees, volunteers, and board members something to rally around. They will feel like part of a team, helping to strengthen internal bonds.

Importance of Consistent Branding

A key piece of developing a brand is consistency. By constantly presenting your nonprofit using the same language, imagery, and message, you’re helping to build awareness and create a reliable image for your audience.

You should update all your marketing and fundraising materials to reflect your branding. Your social media content should echo what a visitor to your website or a recipient of your postcard will see. Consistency helps to establish the notion that you have clear, defined goals, and the experience and authority to achieve them.

Consistency can also apply to the frequency of your communications. You may have more activity leading up to an event, but work to stay in regular contact with your audience without being overwhelming. For instance, you could send one mailing per month, rather than several mailings during your campaign period and none the rest of the year.

The Power of Print

Like many nonprofits, you may be using direct mail for your fundraising campaigns. If so, you know that direct mail is an effective way to spread awareness and increase gifts. In part, this is due to the physical nature of a mail piece in our digitally saturated world. It reflects the power of print to connect with an audience—print boasts a 70% higher recall than digital.

In addition to direct mail, do you have other print collateral, such as business cards, brochures, banners/signs, or letterhead? These are all elements that contribute to the building of your brand. Where do you source these from?

By collaborating with a single source for all your printing, you can ensure that the donor experience is consistent. Each print piece can be consistent in terms of color, paper stock, and the overall look and feel.

Also, when you work closely with a source for something as important as fundraising, that source truly comes to know your organization, and can suggest avenues to explore that will accurately and effectively reflect your organization.

Want to talk about building your brand? Paw Print can assist with all your printing, mailing, design and promotional product needs. Contact us today!

 

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

cartoon of businessman riding rocket toward space
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

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

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

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

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

First Impression Is Everything

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

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

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

It’s All About Perception

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

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

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

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

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

Focus On Brand Excellence

cartoon businessmen building target to improve brand perception
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

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

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

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

Your Print Collateral

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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Boost Your Fundraising with Celebrity Status Donors

illustration of small man talking through large megaphone
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

$44 million. That’s how much was raised during a telethon last September hosted to support victims of Hurricane Harvey. Oprah and Beyoncé joined a cast of celebrities encouraging people to give and fielding calls from donors.

And remember those sad ASPCA commercials starring Sarah McLachlan? The ASPCA raised $30 million in just the first two years of that campaign.

These numbers are admittedly larger than many nonprofits can expect to see from any one campaign. But they show the effectiveness of influencer marketing. It’s an increasingly popular marketing trend, where companies partner with well-known celebrities, politicians, and business people to promote their products. And, it’s an effective sales tool—in 2016, revenue generated from influencer marketing on Instagram alone topped $570 million.

You’ve probably seen countless celebrities starring in commercials as a spokesperson for one product or another. But influencer marketing can be much more involved, with influencers sharing their personal stories and placing themselves behind brands.

As we can see from the examples above, having influential people spread the word about a company or product isn’t limited to marketing. It is also an effective fundraising tool that many nonprofits have made use of.

Consumers trust word-of-mouth much more than any advertisement. Fundraising is similar. According to The Georgetown Digital Persuasion Survey, 65% of donors learn about causes from friends and family. Even if potential donors don’t know an influencer personally, seeing a friendly face creates a connection. This often leads to greater awareness of and engagement with that organization.

And, as we know, compelling a donor to give requires making a connection with them. If you’re struggling to do just that, influencers can be helpful, because their stories come across as personal, legitimate, and real.

What Constitutes an Influencer?

Sometimes influential people will discover your organization on their own, organically sharing and promoting your mission. Often, however, it’s up to you to cultivate a relationship with individuals you believe have significant influential power to impact your nonprofit.

So, who will you reach out to? Just because a person is influential does not mean they are a good fit to promote your organization. You’ll want to consider how this person and the audience they influence are connected to you and your mission.

First, define your audience. Who are you trying to reach? If your nonprofit works on a local level, consider regional politicians or local celebrities as influencers. And if your work covers a wider area, look for individuals recognizable nationally or internationally.

Also look at demographics. Maybe you’re hoping to increase the number of millennial donors, as your donor base is aging. Reach out to younger influencers who know how to communicate with that demographic. They’ll understand how to best connect your mission with outcomes millennials are looking to achieve.

Lastly, does this influencer embody your mission? If you’re promoting environmental advocacy, it makes sense to connect with individuals known for supporting this cause. Whatever your goals, make sure your influencer makes sense for what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach.

Influencers don’t necessarily have to be known to a wide variety of people. If they are influential within their field or niche, and the field or niche you’re looking to reach, you can create a successful partnership.

The Power of Social Media

One place that influencers have power is on social media. They often have a large, established base of followers that look forward to hearing from them. By generating compelling content that’s tied to the message or mission of a nonprofit, social media mavens can attract a lot of attention for your organization. They’ll make a wider audience of people aware of you and compel them to give.

illustration reading influencer of social media post with man holding magnet attracting likes
Design vector created by Freepik

The Georgetown Digital Persuasion Survey found that 68% of donors decide to give after interacting with a cause through social media. Donors may first encounter one of your social pages. Or, their first contact with you may be from an influencer’s post.

Think of the viral ice bucket challenge from a few years back. Many people became aware of the cause and chose to donate from seeing celebrities and friends completing the challenge, rather than engaging with an official page from the ALS Association.

You can identify potential influencers by examining engagement with your social posts. There are likely certain individuals who frequently share or comment on your content. Social media influencers can have a larger or more modest following, popular on a national or regional scale. Adding a few of these individuals as influencers can have a larger impact than you might think.

It may seem intimidating to ask a well-known person to promote your organization. But it doesn’t have to be. Not every influencer has to be a VIP. Start small, whether by reaching out to people with a smaller circle of influence or just by asking for a minor commitment to start. You could invite a potential influencer to attend or speak at an event, or to volunteer with you for one day. Over time, it will feel natural to increase the influencer role as your relationship with that individual deepens.

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Hot Branded Products for 2018

2018 written with sparklers
donorlynk.com

What will 2018 be for you? At Paw Print, we’re looking ahead to a year of adventure, movement, and being outdoors. It’s no coincidence that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018, Ultra Violet, is described as a “thoughtful” and “forward-thinking” hue.

Expect this theme to carry over into promotional products this year. There are many items on the market encouraging exploration, environmental advocacy, and activity. You can ensure these descriptions come to define your business by incorporating related promotional products into your marketing strategy.

A key rule of an effective promotional product: it must be something your audience will use. Here are some items consumers will want to use, again and again.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles:

Let’s face it—we live in a world run by plastic. So many of the items we encounter daily are composed partly or entirely of plastic.

What’s a better alternative? Metal.

Metal water bottles give a sense of quality and class—this is not your average drink ware. Expect to see a preference for metal and glass bottles to continue through 2018. Metal water bottles, specifically those composed of stainless steel, are long lasting, durable, healthier and travel well. They’re at home at your office meeting or on top of a mountain.

Other benefits of stainless steel bottles include:

  • Don’t retain flavors: ensure a fresh taste with every drink
  • Toxin free: even BPA-free plastic can leach other toxins into your drinks
  • Keeps drinks colder and hotter for longer periods
  • Money saver: over time, using a reusable metal bottle versus disposable plastic will save consumers a significant chunk of change
  • Environmental benefits: most disposable plastic water bottles are not recycled, and require a lot of energy and fossil fuels to manufacture and distribute

two promotional metal water bottles

 

A popular style on the market today, this 17 oz bottle can be ordered in a variety of finishes and colors. Composed entirely of stainless steel, the bottle includes copper vacuum insulation to keep your beverages cool or hot throughout the day. With a sleek design and quality materials, stainless steel bottles are sure to be popular with your customers and employees.

 

glass water bottle with steel lid decorated with orange and pink dunkin donuts logo

 

If glass is a better fit for you, this 20 oz option includes a steel cap and full glass body. Though perhaps not the best choice for more strenuous adventures, glass still offers an environmentally friendly solution and is a great branding opportunity. You can imprint all water bottles with the logo of your choice.

 

Doohickey:

silver and black carabiner tools

Have you ever looked at an unidentifiable item and wondered, what’s this doohickey? The official doohicKey brings many doohickeys into one. You can measure, cut, tighten hardware, and open bottles, all with one tool.

I can think of several occasions where I knew exactly what item I needed, but just didn’t have it. You’ve probably been in similar situations, as have your customers. The doohicKey is a multi-functional tool for on-the-spot action. It’s made of stainless steel, so it’s sure to last.  You’ll stay top of mind with your audience when you engrave the doohicKey with your logo. They’ll be prepared for anything!

Promotional Socks:

When you get dressed in the morning, there’s a pretty good chance socks are included in your outfit for the day. If you work in a corporate position, there may be a dress code that makes it hard for you to express your personality. But you can add a bit of character to your outfit with fun socks.

colorful promotional sock on foot depicting corporate logo

Now you can give your company some extra personality with socks branded with your logo. Create a fun and functional promotional giveaway with both full color print and embroidery options.

two striped socks embroidered with business logos on cuff

When I was a kid, socks were a bit of a disappointing gift; but now, I always look forward to receiving a fun new pair for my collection. Fans of your brand will be eager to wear your socks wherever life takes them.

Want to add energy and excitement to your branding? Incorporating fun promotional items like these into your marketing strategy is sure to turn some heads. At Paw Print & Mail, we can help you find just the right promotional products to promote your company. Stay tuned next week for our top picks for apparel in 2018!

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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. 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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Why You Should Add Philanthropy to Your Business

gift box wrapped with dollar bills and red bowIt’s the season of giving, and as you celebrate the holidays with family and friends, you may be feeling a renewed sense of generosity and goodwill. At this time of year many of us give not only to those on our gift lists, but also to those who may be struggling to feel the same good cheer that we’ve come to expect during the holiday season.

Many companies choose to give back during the holidays as well. Your business can make an impact by making charitable giving a part of your business model, not only seasonally, but year-round. This kind of altruism isn’t just good for the spirit—it has important benefits for your business as well.

How Charitable Giving Helps Businesses

Giving Motivates Your Employees

While the good vibes of giving a gift may fade after a short while, long-term involvement with a charitable organization has lasting and powerful effects on employee satisfaction. A 2017 survey by Great Place to Work found that employees who had a positive experience of giving back at their companies were:

  •  4 times more likely to give extra to get a job done
  • More likely to be brand ambassadors
  • More likely to want to stay at their companies long-term
business people seated on couch surrounding open laptop
Business image created by Freepik

Another study by the Cone Cause found that employees involved in causes through their company were 28% more likely to be proud of their company’s values and 36% more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty than employees who were not involved. Philanthropy can also help employees bond as they work together for a cause, building a strong sense of teamwork and morale.

Generate Positive Vibes for Your Brand

When you make a long-term, involved commitment with a charitable organization, awareness of your brand spreads throughout the community. At the same time that you’re doing good, your community learns who your brand is and what matters to you. You’re building connections with members of your community, and your name will be talked about locally in a positive light. And, because word-of-mouth is the top way that consumers make decisions about brands and products, you’ll be generating positive conversations about your brand that will lead consumers to look to you for future needs.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Since not all companies are going to incorporate charitable giving, doing so differentiates you from your competition. The Cone Cause found that in the last year, 41% of Americans bought products because those items were associated with an issue or cause. Consumers, especially millennials, are more willing to purchase products or services from companies that support causes. There is an added sense of trust and of humanity that is present when a brand’s values align with those of consumers—which leads to increased customer loyalty.

Tax Deductions

Sometimes donations of funds, items, and some volunteer expenses can be deducted from your taxes. Ask your accountant for more specific information on how you might do this.

Walk the Talk

First, consider why you are giving back and what cause you will give to. The more personal your causes and reasons for giving are, the more genuine you will come across. And, the easier it will be to share your story. Maybe you or a loved one was helped by a cause, and you want to support others experiencing similar situations. Or maybe you recognize certain opportunities or advantages you’ve had and want others to have those same opportunities. It’s not the size of the gift but the sincerity of your giving that matters most.

Also think about how your chosen cause ties in with your company. If you sell pet food and supplies, you could support local pet shelters. At the same time you’re helping animals find loving homes, you’re creating potential customers for your business who will need to shop for their new pet. Or if you sell women’s clothing, you could sponsor a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Many of your customers may have had experience with cancer or know someone who has, so you’ll be deepening the connections you have with them.

Other Ways to Give

  • Have a portion of overall profits or overall proceeds from a certain product or service go to a charity.
  • Design a product or service specifically for the cause you want to support. You don’t have to give 100% of profits to the charity. But you can market the product as created with the intention of supporting a specific group or cause.
  • Market products as buy one, give one—consumers know each item they buy will be matched and given to someone in need.
  • Set up scholarships to help students succeed. If you’re a tech company, you could support a scholarship that allows students access to special opportunities like coding classes or workshops.

Whichever strategy you decide to use, it’s essential that you are consistent in what you give and when you give. Maybe you decide to give quarterly. You can tell your customers that in the last 3 months you were able to give a specific amount with their support.

Take Action

man and woman volunteers giving back
Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

Contributing financially to a charity is admirable. However, giving money alone will not have the same impact on your employees or your community as getting involved. Encourage employees to participate in events, serve food at a food shelf, or personally drop off donations. Some companies incorporate days into their annual schedule that employees can take off to volunteer. Consider closing the office for a day and being present to support your cause at a big event.

Being more deeply involved increases your company’s connection to your community, is more meaningful and enjoyable for employees, and helps build your story. Your contributions to an organization are more meaningful and impactful if they grow and evolve over time. And, if you personally interact with your cause, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who your cause is helping and how they are benefitting from its services. The deeper that understanding, the better you’ll be able to share your story and gain more support for the organization and for your business.

So, let’s put this subject into action! For every like on this article, Paw Print & Mail will donate $2 to the local Meals on Wheels program at Age Well, up to $100. Thank you for your support.

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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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Consider the Subtle Branding Approach

Branding-paw-print-and-mailEach morning as I prepare for work, I gather up the essentials: keys, phone, lunch, and travel mug. Whether I’m in the mood for coffee or tea, starting my day with a hot beverage is part of my routine, and it’s probably part of yours too. My mug gets a lot of use, but it’s not only functional—it also makes a statement. With a bright colored body and bold logo, my mug shows that I’m a proud graduate of my college. I’m not just drinking coffee; I’ve become a brand ambassador for my school.

While I could use any mug, I chose one that makes a statement with bold branding because the connection to my school is an important part of who I am. However, such branding is not the right fit for every product or every customer. Sometimes a subtler branding approach may lead to more engagement from a prospective customer—and more sales and leads for your business.

Why Use Promotional Products?

Branded promotional items are everywhere these days. It’s likely you have several yourself. Promo marketing includes the basics, like branded apparel, mugs, and pens, and also things like golf balls, kitchen items, and car accessories. You could even get a branded toaster, if you wanted. Your options for promotional products are nearly unlimited. But what is the real benefit to using them?

According to the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), advertising with promotional products directly correlates with improved brand recognition and increased sales. It’s also been shown to have a higher return on investment than other marketing strategies.

Including promotional products in your larger marketing strategy increases the effectiveness of your other marketing methods by 44%. And a study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 52% of survey respondents did business with a company after receiving a promotional product from them. Promotional product marketing increases brand awareness and gives your company an edge over the competition.

Where Do I Start?

Target-Branding-Paw-Print-And-Mail
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

The key to effective promotional products is that they must be useful to your audience. An item like a pen will get widespread use. But to make the most of promo marketing, you have to think deeper about your customers. You may create a quality product. But if your target audience doesn’t regularly use that item, your marketing will not be as effective.

So, if you have a fitness center, you could have branded water bottles or t-shirts. Or, if you’re in the technology field, try mousepads or USB drives. If your customers not only use the products, but use them when they’re making decisions related to the products or services you offer, you’ll stay at the top of their minds.

Functionality is essential, but another factor to consider is the branding itself. Sticking your logo all over an item may not always be the answer. How much branding is too much branding?

The Subtle Branding Approach

Promo-product-stat-paw-print-and-mail

There are a number of ways to include promo products in your marketing. You can give them away at events, or sell them. You can wear them. And you can include them in a mailing package to reach out to prospects or to thank current customers.

Each of these approaches connects you with a different audience. One way you can differentiate is to choose a level of branding that corresponds to your audience’s level of brand awareness.

In the example of my mug, I want to be a brand ambassador and use a product that promotes and reminds me of my college. That level of branding appeals to me in this instance, but it won’t appeal to everyone. It may seem that placing your logo on an item your audience regularly uses would be a win-win—they’ll use the item, and your business will be promoted. But if you go overboard with branding, it could be too much for people who aren’t already affiliated with you, and you run the risk of your item not being used at all.

The more personal and/or professional a promotional product is, and depending on how, when, or by whom it may be used, the subtler your branding on that item can be. For example, a journal or portfolio binder are items a professional may enjoy receiving. But, will they tend to use it if your logo is splashed all over it? Such an item is more “yours” than “theirs,” so consider this when designing and purchasing certain types of promotional products.

You could choose to keep your branding, but tone it down. Maybe you convert your colorful logo to a neutral black or gray. You still include it on a promotional item. But, make it smaller and place it on a sleek, quality product that will impress your audience.

Another way to be subtle is to include branding that is not specific to your company. You can position the promotional item to elicit a concept or best practice that your audience can relate to. Say you’re a company focused on energy efficiency. You could have promo items like an eco-friendly water bottle or journal decorated with an image, phrase, or artwork that your customer base (environmental advocates who support clean, efficient energy practices) will relate to. It represents your company more subtly than a basic logo.

If I were a long-time customer of your energy company, I may be likely to use a product branded with just your logo. I support what you do, and I want other people to understand your mission and utilize your services. But if I were a prospective customer who was just learning about you, a product emblazoned with your logo is more likely to end up collecting dust. If you can connect with your audience based on a concept they relate to, you’re taking a step towards making them customers and brand ambassadors.

What’s your take—should companies use more or less branding on a promotional product? What branded products have you received and love to use? Let us know!

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