Subtle and Effective: Printing with Emboss or Deboss

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

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

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

What is Emboss?

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

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

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

What is Deboss?

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

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

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

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

Subtlety of Debossing with Promo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finding Graphic “Arts” Again with Engraving

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

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

Engraving

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

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

Watch engraving in action in this video:

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

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

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

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Eco-Friendly Promotional Products Speak Volumes

What does it mean to you to be a Vermonter? One thing that has always been a piece of the Vermont brand, and that’s a part of my philosophy, is minimizing our environmental impact. Vermont is overflowing with locally produced items that breathe quality and sustainability. It’s an essential part of who we are as a community.

In the business world, it’s crucial that you can back up your claims.  You want your marketing, including promotional products, to accurately reflect your brand and its core beliefs. If your company has an eco-friendly focus and you’re looking to market your brand with promotional products, there are several options available produced with sustainability in mind.

Vegan Leather

black backpack made of vegan leather labeled with gravity logo in white ink
Several vegan leather products can be found, including bags, wallets, luggage tags, tablet covers and portfolios.

While leather has long been a base material for many apparel and accessory products, there are concerns regarding its ethical and environmental costs. Many consumers today are choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle, not only in what they eat, but also regarding the physical products they wear and use. Even those who aren’t committed vegans see the leather production process as problematic, for the animals, the environment, and the individuals who tan and cure the leather.

Vegan leather is essentially another term for faux leather. Non-leather alternatives have been on the market for a while, but vegan leather is now taking the accessories market by storm. Bags, watch bands, journals and many more vegan leather products are in high demand. Another factor in its favor is the cost—it’s more affordable than true leather options.

black purse vegan leather with tassel on left
The fashion industry has long been aware of vegan leather, ensuring the availability of several stylish products.

While vegan leather is a synthetic product, the apparel industry is getting smarter and pickier about the materials used to compose their vegan leather. This ensures that consumers can confidently purchase leather alternatives, knowing they are making an eco-friendly choice.

 

 

Biodegradable and Recycled Pens

black gold and blue pens made of paper and biodegradable plastic
These pens are made of recycled paper and a biodegradable plastic-like material made of corn.

Pens are a staple promotional product, for good reason. They’re inexpensive, useful, and great to give away. However, pens do have a short lifespan compared to other promotional products and are generally not reusable.

The good news is, the pen market is robust, and many vendors are concerned about the impact their products have on the environment. Several options are composed of either recycled paper, a corn-based plastic, or a combination of both. In addition to being composed of natural and recycled material, these pens are also biodegradable, and have a unique look and feel.

A Shirt Made from Soda Bottles

red haired woman wearing red t shirt and jeans
These blended tees are partially made with recycled plastic bottles.

Recycled options aren’t limited to promotional accessories—there are also eco-conscious options when it comes to apparel. Though only a small portion of textiles are currently recycled, we can expect that number to grow as more consumers are actively calling for greater sustainability in the apparel market.

Several vendors are producing clothing using a portion of recycled materials, including plastic bottles and fibers from other garments. These items maintain the quality of new fiber while giving consumers added peace of mind.

Refillable Portfolios

We may live in a digital world, but there are always times when we need to hand write notes.  A popular trend this year is the reusable portfolio. These items typically consist of a durable outer cover with removable and replaceable inner notepads.

vinyl portfolios three standing upright and two laying open on a table with a pen
These vinyl portfolios have a unique look and feel, and are composed of 100% recycled materials.

Composed of high-quality leather, faux leather, or recycled vinyl, these portfolios are a nice branding opportunity that consumers are sure to use again and again. They are perfect for debossing, which gives the piece a professional look and feel.

Are you interested in marketing with promotional products? We have a wide variety of items, including eco-friendly options, available in our online catalog. Contact us and start a conversation about how promo can help your business today.

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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 metal water bottles gray with blue and white logo and copper with white logo

 

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. And it can be engraved with your logo, so you’ll stay top of mind with your audience. They’ll be prepared for anything!

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 often add a bit of character to your outfit with fun socks.

colorful 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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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 survey earlier this year 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, and 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 is learning 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 in the community 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, so 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 posing
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. Even if you create a quality product, 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, you can 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, because I support what you do and 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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Reaching the Elusive Millennial

Who Are Millennials?

What goes through your mind when you hear the term “millennial”? It’s a word that seems to be everywhere these days. But who are millennials? What makes them tick and drives their decisions? And how can you communicate with them?

Millennial_Marketing_Paw_Print_and_Mail
Created by Javi_indy – Freepik.com

Understanding what a millennial is and how exactly you can reach them is an elusive concept, one that is often frustrating to marketers who are trying to connect with this generation. You may have experienced this yourself, and I have both good and bad news for you. Since they are a very diverse group, no single marketing strategy is going to allow you to reach every millennial.

But the good news is, there are several approaches proven to resonate with millennials, and they’re not as hard to grasp as you may think.

Watch this video to get a clearer idea of who millennials are and what’s important to them:

Millennials have a different world-view, and need to be marketed to differently. They are a demographic that, in sheer numbers alone, is more populous than the baby boomers, giving millennials significant purchasing and decision-making power, a power that continues to grow annually.

Since millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020, it’s important that marketers understand the best way to reach this demographic. Though they cannot be defined by income, career choice, or marital status, there are a few generalities that can be made:

  • It is largely agreed that individuals born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s are millennials.
  • As the first generation to grow up in the online era, they are used to digital communications and having more choices than previous generations.
  • Millennials are the most educated generation, though they also have more student debt.
  • Meaning, experiences, and causes are all important topics/ideas for them.

So, how can you successfully market to millennials?

1. Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Millennials are used to receiving information from many channels, and they tend to be multitaskers, plugged in across devices and sharing content across media. Consistency across platforms is key for engaging millennials with your marketing. Having a constant message and representation of your brand helps them to connect with your company.

Since so many millennials are accessing content on smartphones and tablets, you need to adopt a multi-channel strategy focused on mobile optimization. That may mean reworking your website into a responsive template, making it accessible and easily readable across devices of any screen size.

Millennials spend 48% more time watching video than the average online user, and 60% of them upload their own video, images, and blog content to the web. According to Hubspot, millennials are 247% more likely to be influenced by digital resources like blogs and social networking sites than previous generations.

That’s huge! And, it means that connecting with millennials requires you to develop a social strategy. Find the social media sites that work best for you and make them a part of your daily marketing plan. Adding a YouTube account or creating your own video content for Facebook or your website can also be effective. Millennials want to see helpful, informative content that they can engage with, so make sure your digital strategy offers them more than just what you’re trying to sell.

2. Embrace User Generated Content

The Baby Boomer generation relied on traditional forms of advertising, like radio and television ads. Marketers could expect that running an ad on TV would lead to many new sales and customers. Millennials, however, are much less likely to make a purchase decision from such an ad. What do they like? Brand interaction.

User generated content is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. They want to read honest reviews from customers who have purchased a company’s products or utilized their services. A study by Bazaarvoice found that 84% of millennials are influenced by user generated content when making purchase decisions, and 73% believe it is important to read others’ opinions before making a purchase.

If traditional ads are all about getting consumers to pay attention, making use of user generated content in your business is about building trust, which is high on the list of what millennials want from businesses. They like to do business with brands that are authentic and human. And they want to be able to interact and have a conversation with those companies.

What does this mean for you? Make it as easy as possible for public discussions about your brand to happen. Whether it’s on your website, a blog page, or your social media sites, get customers talking about your brand.

Facebook gives you the option of allowing reviews on your page, and this can be a great place to showcase what people are saying about your business. They might not always have good things to say, but a public forum is a place where you can show your willingness to resolve issues and take customer suggestions. Potential customers will see this, and it will help you to appear more human in their eyes.

Millenial_Review_Marketing_Paw_Print_and_Mail
Business image created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Customers that love your brand will want to say so, and they will become brand ambassadors by talking to their friends and family about their experience. This group is more likely to respond to a peer review than a pop-up ad. You can also invest in influencer marketing, essentially building relationships with individuals that have influence over your customer base and can reach them through mediums like social media, in ways that your brand may not be able to.

Try giving customers a chance to bring their personality to your brand and be a part of brand decisions. For instance, Lays has given customers the ability to choose the next chip flavor, and Coca-Cola ran a campaign asking fans to get creative and interpret what the brand means to them in an artistic medium of their choice.

3. Personalize Direct Mail for Millennials

Millennials are used to digital marketing channels, and they rely heavily on what their community has to say about a brand. However, this does not mean that online methods are the only way to reach your millennial audience. US Presort, a direct marketing company based in New York City, conducted a surprising study about millennials and direct mail. Check out some results:

  • 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email.
  • 50% of millennials ignore digital ads, while only 15% ignore direct mail.
  • 90% of people between 25 and 34 believe direct mail is reliable.
  • 77% pay attention to advertising through direct mail, and over half have made a purchase from a direct mail offer.

Those are some pretty compelling statistics in favor of using direct mail to market to millennials. As we learned above, millennials like to hear personal stories when considering a brand, and one of the reasons direct mail is so popular is that it can be extremely personalized based on categories like purchase history, interests, and geographic region. Printing technology is also considerably advanced, so you can add to the tactile benefit of direct mail by incorporating creative folds, colors, and textures that will make your mail memorable.

4. Increase Engagement & Market an Experience

Millennials feel trust when a brand’s values align with their own, and those values often include a desire to support a cause or charitable mission. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in. Philanthropy adds to the human side of your brand that is so important for millennials. If your business supports a cause, make sure people know about it.

Being able to give back while conducting business with your company changes the brand experience, and for millennials, experience carries more weight than a physical purchase. 78% of millennials prefer spending money on experiences rather than purchasing an item, and over half are spending more on events and experiences now than they ever have.

This may seem hard to work with if you’re in the business of selling a product, but it’s all about how you market it. Millennials are very receptive to storytelling in advertisements, and you can use that to your advantage. If you sell tents, for instance, make your ad about the experience of camping, how it allows you to relax, have fun, and connect with friends and family, rather than focusing on the physical and monetary benefits of the product.

You can also hold an event to get prospective customers more excited about the buying process. Attending the event heightens the experience of shopping, and it is a great opportunity for millennials to connect to the personality and human face of your business.

 

We recognize that crafting a marketing plan can be a challenge. Contact Paw Print & Mail and let us help you find the right strategy to market your business to millennials, or any demographic you are trying to reach.

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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, and 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—and if you lose those, your brand is in bad shape.

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, and 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, but 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, and 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 will 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, and 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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6 Key Statistics: The Stickiness of Promotional Products

Branded_Promotional_Products_Paw_Print_And_MailAs I waited in line at an event this weekend, my gaze settled on the back of a man standing a bit ahead of me. His black shirt featured the intriguing name and logo of a brewing company I hadn’t heard of before, and I was instantly curious—what’s the story here?

While I lost track of the logo-clad individual in the crowd, his shirt stuck with me, leading to a Google search and a plan to bring along some of this beer next time I get together with friends. Without any commercials, traditional advertisements, or over-the-top marketing campaigns, this brewery earned itself a customer.

If you look around your desk right now, it’s likely you’ll find at least one item printed with the logo of an organization you support or company you do business with. These promotional products may be a part of your daily routine: the coffee mug you carry to work with you, the pen you write notes with, or the shirt you wear to the gym.

The use of promotional products is an increasingly popular method of growing brand awareness. As the brewery shirt story shows, putting branded promotional products out into the world can help your fans become brand ambassadors, creating more fans (and paying customers) for your business.

Investing in Promotional Products for Your Business

You’re probably using more traditional forms of advertising to market your business, and those efforts are vital to maintaining your sales strategy. Combining those methods with promotional product advertising can help to take your marketing to the next level. 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.

A major reason for investing in promotional products is to create increased brand awareness, especially in ways that resonate with your customers.

Want some compelling statistics?

  1. A study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 76.2% of people who received a promotional product in the past two years could remember the product, the company it came from, and the message behind the item.
  2. 80% of consumers own at least one promotional product, and over half of them use a promotional product at least once per week
  3. 60% of consumers keep promotional products for up to two years
  4. Including promotional products in advertising increases the effectiveness of other marketing by 44%
  5. In the PPAI survey, 52% of respondents did business with an advertiser after receiving a promotional product
  6. Promotional products create a more positive impression of the advertiser 53% of the time

Targeting Your Customers

Consumers like to receive promotional products, and as the numbers show, these products can have a big impact on spreading brand awareness and bringing in customers. But how can you ensure that your promotional products will do the same?

Think usefulness. You could come up with a fantastic idea for a promotional product, but if consumers don’t make use of it on a regular basis, its potential impact diminishes. It’s also important to consider the longevity of the product you’ll give away. If it can be used up within a month or two, it’s probably not the best choice for making a significant long-term impact.

Make yourself familiar with the term environmental targeting. This simply means giving away items to be used in an environment where your company’s services would be required. For instance, one of the items most popular with consumers is the USB stick, and if you’re a tech or software company, it makes sense to give away USBs branded with your logo. When consumers are using your USB at their computers, they’ll be reminded of your company, and since they’re working in an environment in which your services would be called upon, they are more likely to make the decision to invest in your business.

If possible, it’s helpful to give your customers a choice between a few different promotional items, to ensure that the items will actually be used. A survey by BPMA found the top four categories of promotional items were: the USB stick, electronic items, writing instruments, and mugs. Another way to speak to your customers is to give them an item personalized with their name or business, rather than just your logo.

Extend Your Advertising Reach

Promotional products can reach across time and space in ways that other forms of advertising can’t. Because consumers tend to keep promotional products around for long periods of time, there is the potential for many more impressions of your brand to be made than would come from a one-time newspaper or digital advertisement. A customer could wear your shirt while traveling somewhere outside of your advertising area, giving a new audience exposure to your brand.

And it’s also a good thing if consumers give away promotional items. Here’s a bonus statistic: 63% of consumers will pass along promo items they no longer want rather than throwing them away, creating more opportunities for new people to be exposed to your brand and, hopefully, become customers.

Giving away a promotional item can be a great way to break the ice with a potential customer in a way that a cold call could never do. And, a gift often creates an unspoken obligation on the part of the customer to do business with you; some consumers are even willing to switch to a different brand to receive a promotional gift. The relatively small investment you make in creating the product could lead to a valued relationship and a lot of sales from that customer down the road.

Promotional products are a great way to increase the impact of your advertising, and we’re here to help. Contact Paw Print & Mail today to start increasing your brand awareness, or visit our promotional products and branded apparel online store to shop ideas for your company.

 

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