Experiment With Your Marketing

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Picture your marketing strategy 10 years ago. It probably looked a lot different than your strategy of today. Now imagine you were still using the same marketing content and tactics from 10 years ago. Do you think you’d be successful?

Probably not. Marketing is constantly changing, as new technologies are introduced, new trends appear, and younger generations enter the market. To be effective, your business must change, too.

Recognizing the need to change your strategy is the first step. But change isn’t always easy. How do you know what to change? And how do you make it happen?

Experiment for Excellence

One of the best ways to enact change is to experiment with your content marketing. You can’t know which strategies will best fit your business without some testing.

Experimenting can be a fairly simple process, but it’s important. By now, you likely have routines you’re comfortable with when it comes to marketing. But sticking with a long-standing strategy that’s no longer performing, while it may be easier, can only hurt you in the long run.

Doing a major overhaul of your marketing can be expensive and may be impossible to coordinate. The good news is, you can improve marketing success with smaller, incremental changes, just as much as with big ones. In fact, smaller changes can be the key to significant growth.

Data Driven

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So, you’re ready to experiment. Great! Before you get too far, it’s essential that you examine your data. You cannot effectively improve your marketing if you don’t know where you’re starting from. To truly measure the success of a campaign, you need to have a goal. And not a vague goal either, but a specific, numerical goal that you can strive for.

We’re all working to achieve a 100% response rate and double our sales, right? Marketing success can be astronomical, but usually it takes longer periods of time to show steady, significant growth. You want to set goals that are achievable for your business. If you’re seeing a 12% open rate on your emails, work to consistently have 15%, then 20%. Don’t be afraid to try something new, but always keep an eye on data and metrics.

However you go about collecting and reviewing your data, your analysis will likely reveal areas in which you want to improve. These areas are where you can start some experimenting.

Making One Core Change

You’ve identified a marketing goal. Now, it’s time get to work. It’s possible to run experiments across a variety of platforms. But what you change, and how much, is of key importance.

When it comes to improving your marketing, you’re trying to understand what resonates with your specific audience. There may be times when a sweeping change is necessary and welcome, whether you’re unveiling a new website design or new application for your business. But on a day to day scale, experimentation is all about making small tweaks to fine tune your strategy.

Here’s a core tip: change only one element per medium at a time. Let’s take email again as an example. If you’re incorporating a new template, adding a CTA button, and drastically changing up your subject lines, you may start to see some change in open and click through rates. Hopefully those rates are increasing—they could decrease instead. Either way, it will be impossible to pinpoint exactly what caused that change if you make several changes at one time.

However, say you change one element of your email marketing—replacing a hyperlink in your email template with a bright, eye-catching button. If you start to see an increase in the click-through rates of your campaigns, you can attribute that change directly to the addition of the button. Once you’ve established the button as a consistent part of your emails, and are seeing a consistent click-through rate, you can adjust another email element to continue improving.

A/B Testing

digital artwork two open laptopsA/B Testing is one of the most popular forms of experimenting. An A/B test involves creating two versions of a piece of content that differ in just one element. For email marketing, A/B testing is frequently used to test subject lines. The entire body content of the email will remain the same, but you’ll create two different subject lines. Split your email list in half, so half receive the email with subject line A, and half with subject line B. Whichever email is opened more has the best performing subject line. Read here for what makes a compelling subject line.

When it comes to email marketing, you can also test:

  • Imagery
  • Button Use/ Button Color
  • Time of day/ day of the week you send the emails
  • Who the email is sent from (a company vs. an individual)

While popular for email, A/B tests can also be implemented throughout marketing, on landing pages and in direct mail campaigns. It’s important to remember that you’re focusing in on what your audience responds to. Certain words or tactics that work for some audiences may not resonate as strongly with others, so it may take some testing to determine what your recipients favor.

Time is of the Essence

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Think back to your science classes. Often, an experiment would be run for a set amount of time, whether several minutes or several days. You should run your marketing experiments on the same principle.

Let’s look at an example. Say you want to add a banner to your website’s homepage using a Call to Action (CTA), with the goal of increasing conversions through the site. To measure the effect of the banner, take a set period, like one month. Place the element on your homepage at the beginning of the month. At the end of the month, examine how conversions varied from the month before.

And, don’t change anything else on the page until your experimentation period is over. This is important, because any other changes you make during that time will make data regarding the effectiveness of the CTA void. Was it the CTA or another element that brought in those leads?

Analysis

The results are in! Whatever you discovered from your campaign, take note of how the process went, what you learned from it, and what the data tells you. Analyzing your results is key to determine the effectiveness of your experiment and to plan your next steps, as you continue to improve your marketing and increase sales.

How Inbound Marketing Generates Leads

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Imagine a marketing system that works in the background of your business or organization attracting leads to your door. Imagine this same process not only attracting leads, but building a fan-base of prospects who are both enthusiastic and qualified leads, the best kind of lead!

Have you heard of inbound marketing? Do you know how it differs from traditional marketing? If it’s all a bit fuzzy to you, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing is a core strategy for generating leads through content creation. Here’s what you need to know to start using inbound marketing for your business.

Outbound vs. Inbound

For many companies, marketing has long been about using strategies to reach out to potential customers in hope of a response. Termed “outbound marketing,” these methods include direct mail, email marketing, cold calls, TV and online ads, and event attendance. In these instances, marketers are actively bringing their brand to the prospect, whether by paying for an ad to appear on a webpage or mailing a postcard directly to the recipient’s front door.

These traditional marketing strategies have been practiced for years. And in many cases, they do work. But in a crowded marketing climate, it’s easy for your message to get lost among the flood of content vying for your prospect’s attention.

That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound strategies focus on creating content that “attracts” leads to your business in a non-intrusive way. While you are still putting content out, you are doing so to attract leads to come to you, rather than you directly contacting them. Customers can engage with you at their point of need, placing you at the forefront of their minds as having the answers to their needs.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

According to HubSpot, an inbound marketing application developer, there are four main stages of inbound marketing: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Simply put, this means that your inbound marketing strategies have the goal of:

  • attracting visitors to your website,
  • using various methods to convert them to leads,
  • closing the sale,
  • and turning one-time customers into repeat customers and brand ambassadors.
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A major reason that inbound strategies work is based on the type of content you generate at each of these stages. While each step requires different content, it should all have value for the potential customer. The main way to draw visitors to your website is by generating valuable, informative content. An advertisement is meant to draw attention, but a well-written blog post is meant to inform. It’s the way you can break out from the crowd. Provide consistent, helpful content, and you’ll keep qualified leads coming back to you for more.

Attract

To start the inbound marketing pipeline, you must be generating content that shows leads you know what you’re doing and can help them solve problems. The bulk of this work should be done through blogging, with help from social media. Leads can find your content two key ways: through seeing social media posts, and due to online searches. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also key to invest in, so that when an individual searches for a topic you’ve written about, your posts will appear higher up on the list of search results, making them more likely to be read.

Convert

Getting visitors to your website is essential, but it’s just the first step. Make it an easy transition for a visitor to contact you or share their info. Try including a sign-up form, using live chat tools, tracking site visitors, and making your contact information visible on every page of your site.

Close

When you have a group of qualified leads, now it’s time to close a sale. Part of this step requires you to stay relevant. Determine which pages or topics on your site are attracting the most interest, so you can continue creating content around those themes. Then, you can incorporate outbound methods like direct mail and email to provide those leads with content that is relevant to their interests and stage in the buying cycle. Segmenting your contact lists can be helpful here, as you target specific groups with specific messages. Again, try to keep your content focused on value.

Delight

Successful marketing isn’t about attracting a high volume of one-time buyers. It’s about creating a positive customer experience and getting to know each customer, so that they’ll continue looking to you to solve their problems and meet their needs. Respond to any questions or concerns with timely, helpful content. And craft content meant for each stage of the customer journey. Different customers require different calls to action. Keep track of who your customers are, what they are purchasing from you, and how often they are doing so, so that you can provide the right content at the right time.

Importance of Tracking

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As mentioned above, it’s important to keep track of data regarding your customers. It’s impossible to truly understand the direction of your marketing if you don’t know where you are and where you want to be. And, you can provide your customers and leads with more relevant, timely information if you know certain metrics. Consider which pages are most visited on your site, the number of unique visitors, and time spent on your site.

This applies to social media as well. When you know which content is your best performing content, you can modify your strategy to include more of it. Tracking also allows you to follow each customer’s journey. That way, you can better serve your client base and determine which strategy converts best.

With the world of content available on the internet, consumers are becoming better educated and changing the way they make purchase decisions. To stay top of mind with consumers, marketers must adapt to focus their strategies toward relevant content generation and providing value for the customer. In doing so, your brand will build trust and a sense of authority, helping to grow your business and turn more leads into repeat customers.

Interested in trying or strengthening your inbound marketing? At Paw Print, we offer content marketing and copywriting as a service, to help you on your way to generating more leads. Give us a call when you’re ready to take your content to the next level.

What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About Blogging

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If you’re regularly on the internet, you’re probably encountering blogs on a daily basis. Blogs are everywhere—some people even blog for a living. Content development has become an established piece of marketing and fundraising strategy. It’s important that both for profit and not for profit organizations can give their audience value and information, and blogs are a popular way to do that.

Blogging is an effective way to stay in touch with your donors in a format that is informative and engaging. Whether you have an established blog for your nonprofit or you’ve never written a blog post in your life, these ideas can help you create a top-notch nonprofit blog page so your organization will stand out from the crowd.

1) To Blog or Not to Blog?

It’s important to consider a few things before you get down to blogging:

  • What host will you use? WordPress is a popular website tool, but there are other options.
  • Do you have a goal or goals for your blog? Have key members of your organization sit together and come up with some concrete guidelines for what you hope to get out of blogging. Maybe you’re trying to attract volunteers. Over time, you can measure whether your blog is succeeding based on the numbers of new volunteers you’re seeing.
  • Who will be in charge of posting? Maybe one person is always in charge of blogging, or duties are shared throughout your nonprofit. Whatever you decide, ensure everyone knows their role and the publishing timeline.
  • Does your organization have the time and resources for a blog? You can read more about this below. But if you know upfront that regular blogging is not a feasible possibility for your nonprofit, it’s best to focus on other projects. Having no blog is better than having a lackluster one.
  • Who is your audience, and what questions will they have? Different causes appeal to different groups of people. You know your donors, and you’ll want to consider what language/tone you should use to speak to them in your blog, as well as what they want to know about your organization.
  • How will you promote your blog? You can share your blog on social media, include a link to it in an email newsletter, feature it on your website’s homepage…think about what channels you have a following on, and use them to your advantage.

2) Consistency is Key in Blogging

Blogging requires frequent updates of fresh content to keep followers engaged. If you’re going to start blogging for your nonprofit, make sure you have the time to regularly devote to it.

Part of being consistent is publishing content on a regular schedule. It could be once a week, twice a week, a few times per month—whatever timeline you feel you can keep up with. When you update on a regular basis, say, every Wednesday, your audience will come to expect your posts on Wednesdays and will be more likely to come back to your site looking for them. A blog that is only sporadically updated is not going to receive that kind of attention. Readers won’t view it as a reliable, regular source of content.

You’ll also want to be consistent in the feel of your blog. You want your readers to come to see your blog as a friendly and trusted resource. Keep your tone of voice and the look of your blog similar from post to post. For instance, if many of your posts start with an image, make sure to include an image at the beginning of every post.

3) Blogs Give Your Nonprofit Authority and Build Trust

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There are a lot of nonprofits out there—1.5 million in the U.S., in fact. And it’s likely there are other organizations with goals and missions that are similar to yours. Blogging is a way that you can showcase your unique story, while also establishing your knowledge of your field.

You can use a blog to inform your audience on topics centered around your nonprofit’s mission. By showing you have an extensive knowledge of the issue and topics surrounding it, you present yourself to donors as an authority in your field. This helps to give your organization credibility, and donors will feel that you have the experience to put funds to best use and truly solve problems.

By showing your knowledge, along with proof of the work you are doing, you build trust with your audience as well. It’s important to think of your donors as friends, individuals you’re building a long and sociable relationship with. Typically, we trust our friends. Blogging is a way to deepen that trusting relationship by showing that you’re listening to what your donors have to say and are actively working to achieve goals they’re looking to you to solve.

Consistency helps build trust as well. If you are consistent in your efforts and consistent in your blogging, your audience will rely on you to provide them with regular information that they want to know about your organization and its work.

4) Engage your Audience with Blogging

Enhancing donor loyalty requires you to think of your donors as friends and develop relationships with them. One of the best ways to do that is to create opportunities for donors to engage with you and share their thoughts.

Blogging is an effective way to enhance your engagement with a wide audience. People can comment on your blog, contact you based on a post they found interesting, attend an event or volunteer after reading a post, sign up for your email list, and share your content on social media. Sharing is huge for blogs. It allows people to see your blog and learn about your organization who might not come across you otherwise.

Engagement is truly one of the main goals of blogging, and while everything you post won’t lead directly to a donation, giving people exposure to your organization and getting people talking about it is going to have an impact.

5) Blogs Tell Your Story

Stories are a compelling way to give your nonprofit personality and heart. You may have stories that you regularly use in fundraising and marketing materials. But there are all kinds of stories you can tell about your employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of your nonprofit that make for great blog posts.

Event coverage is an effective blog topic. You can show who is involved, how you’re working to make an impact, and what you achieved. Your events may not get a lot of coverage from external media groups, so covering them yourself ensures people will see the good work you’re doing.

Talking about the stories and goings-on at your nonprofit shows your audience that you are actively working to achieve your mission and that your efforts are effective at doing so. Being able to communicate that you are active and making a difference is important to donors, because they can be sure their donations will be making an impact for good.

6) Blogs Convey Your Purpose

Your nonprofit is up against a lot of competition. Your blog is a place for you to separate yourself from the pack and convey not just the story of your organization, but also its purpose. Why does your specific nonprofit need to exist? How is it going to provide something different than organizations with similar goals? What is your blog’s purpose? How will it work to contribute to your mission and the betterment of your community?

7) What Types of Content?

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You want to achieve consistency in the look and feel of your blog. At the same time, you’ll need a variety of content to keep your blog interesting. Sometimes you may want to share an interesting article you find, or you’ll be writing your own. Some posts will be more text-heavy, but visuals are helpful for readers to visualize what you’re writing about. Take lots of pictures and videos of different events and happenings you’re involved in. That way, you’ll have a lot of content to draw from.

You may also want to feature a guest blogger occasionally. A board member or a volunteer could write about their experience with your organization and why they’re so passionate about helping you to achieve your mission. Or an expert in the field related to your nonprofit can contribute a post to help further educate donors about the issues you’re working to solve.

Another great post idea is to address frequently asked questions about your organization. If it’s content that people are regularly looking for, a blog post can pull double duty.  While contributing to your regular posting schedule, it will also provide evergreen content that can regularly be referred to.

And as we know a thank you is always welcome, your blog is another way to show gratitude and appreciation for your donors. Make a fun video with volunteers, employees, and beneficiaries saying thank you, and weave a tone of thankfulness throughout all your communications.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit appeal production services and copywriting and content marketing, including ghost blogging services. If you need assistance with your nonprofit appeal strategy, contact Paw Print today.

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Copywriting vs. Content Writing

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Think about the last ad you saw, watched, or heard. Maybe it was a radio jingle that’s now stuck in your head. It’s catchy, right? And it was likely written by a copywriter.

Often the words “copywriting” and “content writing” are used interchangeably. But they’re actually quite different approaches to marketing, requiring different techniques to be successful. Though they function differently, copywriting and content writing ultimately have the same end goal: to generate leads that convert into sales. And both are essential tools of a well-rounded and successful marketing strategy.

So, what’s the difference? How can you make use of both to jumpstart your marketing?

What is Copywriting?

Advertisements are everywhere in our lives. We see them in print and on the web, hear them on the radio, and watch them on TV. Experts estimate that each of us is exposed to an average of 5,000 marketing messages per day.

Of course, our minds don’t register all of these messages, though many slip through our subconscious. We may only consciously register a handful of the ads that we see. And it may take multiple impressions before an ad sticks in our mind.

With so much competition out there, it’s critical that your message stands out and leaves an impression. That’s why good copy is so important. Think about slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It” or “I’m Lovin’ It” from McDonald’s. Hearing these phrases triggers an immediate association with the brand, and they have inspired brand loyalty.

These slogans are an example of good copywriting, and illustrate the basic idea of what copywriting is: short-form content written with the intent to drive sales. We can define copywriting as writing meant to persuade the reader to take an action, typically to purchase a product or service.

Copywriting appears on any kind of advertising content you can think of, including a direct mail piece, a website landing page, a digital or print advertisement, and a sales email. All these pieces function as channels to increase company sales. While copywriting is not branding, it works to fuse your products/services and your company personality together to create a brand identity.

It’s important to be concise with copy. You have a limited amount of time to gain someone’s attention. Your copy must be short enough to be consumed in one glance (think “Just Do It”) or compelling enough that readers will be intrigued and eager to read more. You can think of copywriting as a three-step process:

  1. Create an emotional connection with your prospects by identifying a major pain point or desire
  2. Cultivate need by showing that escaping pain or achieving desire is possible for the prospect
  3. And position your product/service as the solution (with a call to action)

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is written to inform. It should also be engaging, if not entertaining, and it must align with your brand’s personality and voice. Though it still functions to increase sales, content writing does so in a less blatant way than copywriting.

Offer your customers informational content to help them solve problems in your area of expertise. This could be in the form of a blog, video, ebook, or whitepaper. Customers will often do a great amount of research before committing to a purchase. If you position yourself as an expert in your field, it will attract more sales in the long term. You can provide your customers with answers to questions before they even have to ask.

Through consuming your content over time, you will build trust with your audience, eventually converting them to customers. Content writing leads to sales by information and examples, rather than a snappy sales pitch. Since content writing doesn’t have to be as concise as copywriting, you can expand upon your topic and really show your knowledge.

It also has the added step of requiring search engine optimization (SEO). Keep key words and SEO in mind when writing to ensure that your content is found on the web. Web searchers can ultimately become clients—but only if they can find your content. Content writing pieces are also the type of marketing content your customers will share, often on social media.

What Can Content and Copywriting Do for You?

Here’s how to think of the difference between copywriting and content writing, using the example of Nike. Through copywriting we can learn that Nike is a fitness apparel company focused on being trendy and active, as well as advocating customers to achieve their fitness goals. This is their brand. With their content writing, Nike can establish themselves as qualified activewear providers by creating content to inform their audience on topics related to fitness, athletic footwear, and health/wellness goals.

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Want even more of a comparison? Check out this conversation between a professional copywriter and a content marketer.

The important thing is that neither copywriting nor content marketing works very well without the other. Including both copywriting and content writing in your marketing strategy is critical for development of a well-rounded marketing plan. Businesses need a concise sales pitch to drive sales and increase brand awareness. And long-form content is becoming more and more crucial to development of a brand’s story and credibility.

Both types of writing offer value to the customer, whether by showing them ways you can solve their problems or by providing them with high-quality information that they’ll find useful. They can be used in conjunction to turn leads into return customers and ambassadors for your brand.

Though each type of writing requires a different thought process, both must be well-written, and require the writer to be in the mindset of the audience. The prospect is the most important person in the copywriting process. You have to speak to them in ways they can understand and relate to. If you aren’t reaching your prospective audience, your marketing efforts will be for naught.

While writing is an essential piece of the marketing process, we know it’s challenging to find time to give your written content the attention it deserves. At Paw Print & Mail, we offer copywriting and content writing services that will help enhance your marketing strategy. Contact us today to get started on your next marketing project.

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Make Your Marketing Powerful With Humor

Quick! Stop what you’re doing and watch this video!

Did it make you laugh? Every time I see this commercial, it makes me smile.

It’s probably true that all of us can use a good laugh. Humor is a big component of what makes many advertisements successful. It can strongly affect the way we connect with and respond to marketing messages.

A key concept of marketing today is to not just provide your customers with products or services, but to also serve as a knowledgeable source of information about anything and everything related to what your company does. When you provide customers with helpful info, it builds trust in your relationship with them and gives you greater credibility.

That seems great, right? So much so that you probably want to focus the bulk of your content development efforts on generating information that will be the most useful to readers and help them to best achieve whatever it is that they are trying to achieve with your guidance.

But helpful information isn’t the only way you can build trust in your brand. Humor is an extremely effective piece of content marketing. And if you aren’t making use of it, you should be.

3 Key Benefits of Humorous Marketing Content

Think of the person you know who’s most likely to be the class clown. Is it sometimes hard to take them seriously? Probably. One of the arguments against using humor in marketing is that it can cause you to lose credibility and seriousness in the eyes of your audience. If you lose those, your brand is in bad shape.

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But guess what? This isn’t true, at least most of the time. Humor is not just a laugh as we skim through funny cat videos. Rather, humor creates a human connection.

Humor is a natural part of conversation. It has an impact on our emotions, bodies, and brains. When you use humor in your marketing, it gives your business a human side. You’re not just a faceless source of information. You’re a real person who understands the emotions and problems of your customers and can help to solve them.

Because humor is so impactful, it has significant influential power. We watch funny videos of cats or ridiculous comedy movies because they are an emotional distraction, helping us to reduce stress. Humor inspires a feel-good reaction. When you can make your customers laugh, it creates a connection between you and them. If you can make your audience feel less stressed, you are giving them the impression that your business can help to relieve their stress in relation to whatever services your company offers. You create a bond with them that makes your business more relatable.

Humor is also memorable and enhances learning. A study by Chegg, a textbook rental service, found that nearly 80% of college students remember ads that make them laugh. The basic purpose of an advertisement is to tell your audience who you are and what you do, while inspiring them to purchase your products or services. If your ad is memorable, it will stick in people’s minds. Though their brain is remembering the amusement they felt from viewing your ad, they will also remember what you’re offering. And they’ll be more likely to go to you for their future needs.

Think about the above Volkswagen video, or the last piece of funny content you saw. After you laughed at it, what did you want to do? Since humor is such a key part of our conversations, it’s likely that you wanted to share the laughs with someone.

Humor has been cited as the key reason why content goes viral. When your audience shares your content, they are increasing your brand awareness as well as the positive emotions they associate with your business. Humor can also catch people off guard, lowering their defenses and making them more receptive to your message.

So, to recap—3 benefits of humor are:

  1. It creates a human connection between you and your audience.
  2. Humor makes your advertisements and content more memorable.
  3. Funny content is more likely to be shared, leading to greater brand awareness.

Your Sense of Humor = Your Brand

There are also three reasons why marketers are afraid to make humor a part of their content development strategy:

  1. That fear of not being taken seriously
  2. The humor could fall flat, and no one will find it funny
  3. Humor can be offensive

While these are all valid concerns, instead of focusing on if you should use humor, consider how you will use it. Humor is a spectrum. No single tone or joke is going to be appropriate for all businesses and audiences. This is where you need to know your brand—the level of humor you use should align with your brand values. If you make use of humor that is visible and shocking but ultimately offensive to your audience, you are more likely to lose customers than to gain them.

Your demographic is key to determining what kind of humor fits your business. Funny content is more likely to be shared, but if you are sacrificing your reputation to reach a larger audience, you’re alienating the customers that feel loyalty to your brand.

So, how can you be funny?

Keep it Casual

You can adopt conversational humor by sprinkling it into your content in small doses. Maybe you use some irony or exaggeration in your blog post, or add a funny component to your next advertisement. I like this ad from Amazon:

Amazon has become a popular online retailer for a wide demographic. This ad is heartwarming and made me smile. And, you don’t lose sight of the ad’s message, which is the ease and speed of ordering from Amazon. At the same time, Amazon comes across as a fun company to do business with.

Just for Fun

Separate your more serious content with posts created just for laughs. Share a meme or video with the sole intent of putting a smile on your customer’s faces. You can relate them to your brand in some way, or they can be totally random.

Rock the Boat

Some brands have the flexibility to be edgy in their marketing, while others need to stick to tamer content. If you feel confident your audience would respond favorably to shocking content, go for it. Create an ad campaign that makes you stand out from competitors in your industry, and will get your audience talking.

The most important thing to remember with humor is to keep it simple. If your audience has to think too much about what you’re saying, they won’t be laughing, and you’ll lose the chance to make that powerful connection. But if you can get it right, a touch of humor could be just what your business needs to increase marketing success and develop a stronger relationship with your audience.

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5 Essential Parts of a Capital Campaign Brochure

Capital Campaigns: The Basics

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Working for a nonprofit, you want to do as much good as possible. One of the most effective ways for nonprofits to achieve larger development goals is with a capital campaign. A capital campaign is a period of heavy fundraising efforts. Nonprofit organizations work to raise a significant amount of money within a specified period of time. Often this kind of campaign is used in order to raise funds to acquire, build, or expand a facility, or to set up an endowment. A large-scale campaign like this can be the only way for an organization to achieve goals that are vital to its efforts.

Targeting your efforts is essential to ensure you meet your goals within the time period specified. Unlike more general fundraising efforts, capital campaigns are specific. They require defined target benchmarks as you move through the campaign timeline. Capital campaigns give your supporters a specific, concrete goal that their dollars will go directly towards funding.

A Key to Capital Campaign Success

Running a capital campaign requires numerous steps and committed individuals. One piece of the puzzle is awareness. When looking to raise a significant amount of funds, it’s critical to develop an awareness campaign that will be compelling and impactful for the duration of your fundraising.

Printed materials like brochures are an effective way to educate your donor base about your campaign. Making use of official printed materials helps to give donors a sense that your campaign is structured and professional. A well-designed brochure can give you the confidence that your campaign is being presented in the best light. It also gives your campaign goals a greater chance of being met.

A brochure helps to tell the story. Mention who is involved, the mission of your organization, the details of the project (including costs and intended outcomes), and how to give. With a brochure, as with all of your campaign materials, you’ll want to focus your message on the benefits your campaign goal will have for the community that you serve, rather than just on the building or item itself that you’re looking to raise funds for.

Capital Campaign Brochure Outline

Part 1: The Introduction

You probably have a lot to say about the needs and deeds of your organization. But you’ll want to keep your brochure’s introduction brief. This is a good rule of thumb to follow throughout the brochure. Your copy should be clear and concise. Write in an enthusiastic tone that speaks to your donors. Help them become excited about your mission and the positive outcomes that will result from their contribution to reaching your capital campaign goals.

Readers may have extensive knowledge of your nonprofit, or they may know very little. To make your brochure accessible to everyone, you’ll want to include a short overview of your organization. Include who you serve and the types of programs you provide. This can help to give your nonprofit credibility as you guide donors throughout the specifics of your campaign.

Part 2: Your Mission

Towards the beginning of the brochure, you’ll want to include a concise version of your nonprofit’s mission statement.  It’s also important to show donors the current impact of your organization. Incorporate specific facts/figures to reiterate to donors the good work that you do and show them why they should contribute to your growth. This section is a good place to include an impactful quote from someone that has benefited from your organization’s services.

Part 3: The Capital Campaign

You’ve shown donors who you are and the good you do, giving them a reason to support you. Now it’s time to outline the details of your capital campaign.

This is the meat of your brochure. Start with describing your need, and make sure to be specific. Show donors that this campaign is well thought out, both in terms of your needs and the intended outcomes. Donors will want to know specifically what their contribution will be funding. Having a concise description of your vision, proposed outcomes/solutions, and how exactly the funds you raise are to be used will give your campaign credibility.

Part 4: Why Now?

It’s important to ground your capital campaign in relevance. You’ve already described the needs of your organization and how you hope to resolve them. Here is your chance to show the larger community impact and the timeliness of your campaign. It’s likely that your nonprofit works to meet the needs of individuals as well as the larger community in which you live. Showing how you fit into the bigger picture can be an effective way to compel your donors to contribute.

 Part 5: Where Do You Fit In?

When developing your brochure, put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Anticipate the kinds of questions your donors will have, and answer the major ones in your brochure. Then, your donors will see your materials as a credible resource for understanding the issue or cause you work to aid. You’ll give them confidence in the necessity and success of your campaign’s mission. Draw the donor in and make it personal with context that makes them part of the solution. Lead with something like, “this is where you come in….” You want your donors to feel that their contribution is vital to your campaign’s success and to show how the larger issue may be affecting their lives. You can also use this section to thank your donors in advance for their support.

Design Tips

  • Strong visuals are crucial to ensure that donors can visualize the intended outcome of the campaign that their dollars are going to fund, as well as the people who are going to benefit from this development.

 

  • Focus on being visually cohesive. Bring design elements from your nonprofit’s website or other printed materials into your brochure, so readers will be quick to associate your campaign with your organization. If you have a logo or design aesthetic in use for other campaign materials, be sure to use them consistently across the board. Consistency and a unified message will enhance the credibility of your capital campaign.

 

  • Leave a generous about of negative space to help the most important information stand out and make it easier for readers to process. Try to keep your information simple, but as effective as possible, with a clear call to action.

 

  • Adopt a multi-channel approach. A brochure can help drive traffic to a website, where donors can learn more about your organization and make donations. Include the essentials in your brochure and integrate it with your digital marketing, making it easy for your donors to donate, contact you, and find your digital resources.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit fundraising appeal production, including capital campaign brochures. Contact us for assistance with materials for your next fundraising campaign.

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Boost Your Marketing During the Slow Season

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Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

The dog days of summer may inspire you to do little more than stretch out in the sun with a cool drink and a good book. Blue skies and warm breezes have you running to the beach, not to the office.

The hottest time of year weather-wise can often be the coolest time of year business-wise. Whether your slow season falls during the summer months, the colder season, or somewhere in between, extra time on your hands can be a great opportunity to invest in your business. Less business may seem like a bad thing. In fact, slower times are a welcome chance to revisit and revise parts of your company, like your marketing strategy, to ensure busy times will come around again.

Reach Out to Your Customers

One of the most important things to remember, especially during slow times, is to create consistent content. If your business is only open certain months of the year, don’t market your business only during those months. Your goal is to keep your company relevant and in people’s minds, so that when you open for business again, customers are excited about it.

Get into the habit of creating and sharing content on a schedule, that is consistent during busy and slower times. Social media is always in season. Keeping up with social media accounts ensures that your followers regularly receive content from your brand. Your content is likely to change  throughout the year. Yet the most important function of social media is to engage with your clients and customers, regardless of how busy your company is.

One way to utilize social media is to share content you create, like marketing offers or blog posts. If you can find a way to translate your content across seasons, you can show the relevance your product or service holds at all times. What interests your audience? Work to carry that interest throughout the year.

Producing content consistently ensures that you can be seen not only as a source for products and services, but as a source of knowledge. Providing your customers with relevant, helpful information means that consumers will be more likely to look to you when making a purchase.

Reconnect with Clients

When you’re so busy working with clients that you barely have time to take a breath, it can be hard to find the time to follow up on potential leads. During a busy period, you’re focused on all of the opportunities that are coming in to you, and not thinking as much about lead generation. When slower times do come, they are a great chance to connect with leads. Look to individuals that have expressed interest in your products or services, but were previously not ready to follow through with a purchase. Having allowed some time to elapse, these leads may now be in a position to work with you. And, you’re able to devote more time to making their experience with you the best it can be.

Evaluate your client list as well, and get in touch with clients you haven’t heard from in a while. These customers could be in the process of creating new business for you. In reaching out to them you can show how you value the relationship you have with them, and help ensure they follow through with their purchase.

Slower times for your business could mean taking the time to develop materials for reaching out to a new niche market, in order to generate fresh leads. If you’ve seen a trend of a certain industry or demographic that frequently uses your services, you can create a campaign to generate more leads from that niche.

Another way to utilize slower periods is to organize and host an open house or an off-season sale. You’ll create a chance to talk and connect with your customer base. Everyone loves a sale! Your past customers will be drawn back by the quality and deals they’ve come to expect from your business. An event also attracts new business from those who are interested in your company but would welcome the chance to learn more.

Reinvent Your Marketing Plan

Slow business is a good time to rethink your marketing strategy. The marketing goals you set a year ago may have been surpassed. Or, they may no longer fit the direction of your business. Now, you have the opportunity to set new, relevant goals.

These goals could include developing a plan that makes marketing easier when you have a lot on your plate, so your strategy can stay consistently strong. This may involve implementing a marketing automation campaign. That way you can develop compelling content now to be used as business picks up.

Consider any new projects or systems you want to bring to your marketing strategy now:

  • Want an upgrade to your website? Research new templates or services to make your site more appealing.
  • Are there broken links or a lack of pertinent information available to your customers? Clean up your web pages and make your content clear and accessible.
  • Can potential customers find your site easily? Adjust your language to increase the SEO value of your web page. That way, potential customers will be more likely to find you.
  • Do your print campaigns need a boost? Consider giving your direct mail, posters, business cards, and more a redesign to keep things fresh.
  • Thinking about adding promotional products to your marketing? Explore your options for creative promo campaigns.

While assessing your marketing plan, you may find that tactics you once relied on have simply become dead ends. Eliminating them now will allow you to focus your efforts on more lucrative enterprises.

A slow time for sales doesn’t have to mean a slow time for your business. Make the most of the down time to evaluate your business strategy. Develop new approaches to marketing so your busy period becomes even busier!

Whether you’re going through a slow time or a busy one, Paw Print & Mail can help you find the printing, mailing, and promotional product solutions to enhance your marketing strategy.

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Write Marketing Copy to Inspire and Motivate

woman typing marketing copy at laptop
Business image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

We are surrounded by words. They are spoken to and by us, written to persuade us, intrigue us, and inform us. Words are a major way that we communicate. Putting words together in creative and compelling ways is a big part of what marketing is all about.

But not all words are created equal. It takes time to come up with just the right copy to convey the value your brand or organization has to offer and make the case for why you are the perfect fit for your audience. Words have power. When you find the right combination, your marketing strategy can shine.

So, what do you need to know to make your copy more compelling and ensure it is read?

1) A Personal Touch

Try addressing your marketing copy from one individual to one individual. If you’re writing a direct mail letter or sending a marketing email, you can send that piece from a specific member of your organization. This makes it more personal. Addressing your copy to an individual member of your audience will grab their attention and give a sense of added importance to the piece. The recipient will feel that the piece was intended for them specifically, rather than as one of many. They will be more likely to read your copy, get the message you want them to receive, and, hopefully, act on that message.

2) Place Your Audience at the Center

When crafting a piece of marketing content, you want your recipient to be at the center of the letter, not your business. This seems counter-intuitive, right? Isn’t the point of marketing to show the value of your company?

Yes…but you want to show your audience that you know who they are, that their individual needs and contributions are important, and that you can provide a relevant solution for them. This shows the value you have for your customers and gives them a reason to value you. Use words like “you” and “your” in your marketing material. Avoid using “we,” as it can work to separate your audience from you. Instead of “we improve children’s lives” try “you can improve children’s lives.” Which one encourages you to act?

Compelling copy will show your audience that you understand their needs and emotions and can address and solve those needs with your products or services. It may take more time to consider things from your customers’ standpoint. But it will pay off in the end when you’re able to connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Nonprofit copy shows the value of this. When it comes to communicating with donors, you want to empower them so that they feel their support is making a positive impact, and that their continued help will allow that positivity to continue. Using “you” gives them an active role in your mission, making them feel more connected and powerful. Show them they’re the superhero that’s saving your cause, and you’ll help to ensure their continued support.

When you give your recipients a sense that they can make a difference, you’re tapping into their emotions. Maybe your copy makes them laugh, feel sad enough to want to change something, or relieved that you can provide a long-awaited solution. The use of emotion is a powerful marketing tool. Whether you are looking for someone to donate to or purchase from you, they are compelled to act due to the emotional response your marketing gives them.

3) Grabbing Attention with Marketing Copy

Effective marketing copy stands out. Maybe it causes your audience to see things in a different light, or cites a surprising fact. It may seem like writing copy in the same way as everyone else is a safe bet for maintaining a conflict-free relationship with your audience. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to be edgy or striking in your marketing campaigns. You want your marketing, and by extension your business, to be remembered.

The best place to kick-start your unique copy style is in the headline. Media company Upworthy found that readership of an article can vary by 500 percent just from changing the headline. The first sentence of a piece is where you are going to either lose your reader or pique their interest, keeping them reading on. Your message will not be received if you don’t hook your reader in the headline.

4) Keeping it Simple

Interesting doesn’t have to mean long-winded. It certainly means cutting out exaggeration, overused words, or excessive business lingo.  Don’t feel like you have to make your company or product sound extra impressive, using cliched words like “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking.” If you understand the needs of your audience and can speak to them using the same language they’re using to describe your business, you’ll be more effective. Choose the fewest words that are truly going to say the most, so that every word counts.

5) Style Choice

We all want to believe that our marketing copy is going to be read from beginning to end. But that is not often the case, at least at first. You should assume that pieces like your newsletters will only be scanned by recipients. This doesn’t mean your message will be lost. It means you have to make the most important information you want to convey the easiest to find. Recipients are most likely going to scan the headline, any photo captions, pull quotes, and bold or bulleted information. If you can make these parts intriguing, readers will go back and read more in order to dive into the context.

The most important takeaway about writing good copy? Make it count. The copy you produce is your main way of communicating with customers, both current and potential. If you want to be a successful marketer, you can’t afford to have bad copy.

Need help writing good marketing copy? Paw Print & Mail writes copy as a service! Click here to learn more, or contact Sarah Haselton to discuss your needs.

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Direct mail works for Amazon too

Amazon-Envelope-direct-mail-paw-print-and-mail-vt

I had an unexpected surprise in my mailbox a couple of days ago. Included in my personal mail was an envelope addressed to me from Amazon. I have to admit that this got my immediate attention, putting aside the other mail pieces, curious to see why Amazon was mailing me.

I found myself wondering why this elicited such a strong response. Curiously enough, I think it’s because of the relationship I have built with Amazon that gives their brand a seat at my table. I mean, who hasn’t purchased something on Amazon.com – the quintessential online retailer of “everything”. And, for anyone who’s an Amazon Prime member (that be me), I’m continually impressed by how easy they’ve made buying stuff; to the point where I don’t think much about it; quick search, 1-click checkout, arrival at my door 2 days later.

So notwithstanding Amazon’s association as the quintessential online transaction experience, I’m now holding a piece of mail from the largest digital presence in the universe. And, I suppose, therein lies the power of this particular piece of mail.

  • It’s unexpected
  • It stands out
  • It’s physically in my hands – I’m touching it, inspecting it, and ultimately opening it; something digital cannot do

Amazon-direct-mail-enclosure-Paw-Print-MailI open the envelope and pull out the piece inside that’s a folded enclosure with a little heft to it. On the outside cover of the enclosure is a phrase “Expect more smiles…” I’m intrigued. What could be inside that will bring a smile to my face?

I open the envelope and on the inside of the flap is the phrase Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-Mail-VT…in unexpected places.

So, not only am I looking forward to something that will make me smile, but it contains something I’m not expecting; in other words… I’m about to experience a nice surprise!

I quickly see that this mailing is about my Amazon Rewards Visa card. THUD!! All this buildup for a credit card solicitation? Yes and no. Yes, it’s about my credit card, but no, it’s not a solicitation but rather an announcement of expanded benefits. Whew… all good!

Amazon-direct-mail-Paw-Print-VermontThe next thing I see is the cover letter which quickly grabs my attention and keeps this mailing from crashing and burning by succinctly and clearly announcing to me the special benefits and rewards upgrades to my Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card. AND, because I’m an Amazon Prime member, these additional benefits are automatic… no action required!! (these words evoke a similar pleasure to the word FREE!)

Shuffling through the balance of the enclosures, I find a colorful travel benefits brochure, a handy FAQ sheet, and lastly, a sheet of legalese about the Amazon Rewards Program (this IS a financial services notice after all).

What are some of the key takeaways here that you and I, as a business owner/manager and marketer, might apply in our own efforts?

1. Relationship is everything. Over the past few years, I’ve established a consumer, business, and lifestyle relationship with Amazon. (along with AMEX, Audible, South Burlington Audi, Skirack, Pandora, Target Marketing and Road & Track Magazines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Nespresso, Motley Fool, and the local nonprofits I support – to name a few) I’ve become part of these brands’ target market so that when they knock on my door, I open it. Huge.

2. Identify, connect with, and nurture your target audience. Again… relationship. Your target audience and client base is your most valuable asset .

3. Approach your target audience how they prefer to be reached. In this example, it’s direct mail. What I’m real curious about for this campaign is what other channels, if any, Amazon used to connect with the various age ranges of their target audience.

  • Was this entirely a direct mail campaign or were other channels employed?
  • Did I receive this by mail because of my age? (let’s just say I watched the Beatles United States debut on the Ed Sullivan show in real time)
  • Did their millennial members receive the same mail piece or contacted digitally?

I don’t know, but I do know direct mail works for me and others similar to me in their target audience.

As for younger folks, ongoing studies and data reveal that Millennial’s are surprisingly responsive to direct mail as well. InfoTrends research found that:

  • 63% of Millennial’s who responded to a direct mail piece within a three month period actually made a purchase
  • 25% of 25-34 year olds say they opened direct mail because of the print and image quality
  • 25% of Millennial’s consider reading direct mail a leisure activity

4. Looks count. The look and feel of the mail piece can make or break a direct marketing campaign. Relevance, interest, and clarity of design are essential to make the instant connection that’s needed for success.

5. Content is the Holy Grail. You’ve only got a brief moment to engage the recipient or not. The focus of the content must to:

  • Tell the recipient what you do or why you’re contacting them – be specific and clear
  • Sell benefits not features and why the benefits are important to them
  • Provide an action device or call-to-action

Paw Print & Mail specializes in direct mail marketing and nonprofit appeal campaign production. Contact us to discuss your next project to maximize your response rate and ROI.

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.