Build Trust with Education-Based Marketing

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Are you tired of sales pitches? Do you hate feeling like you’re being sold to? So do I. Like many consumers today, I want more from the companies I choose to do business with.

There are two key things you need to know about consumers today:

  • They make purchases and do business based on trust
  • Purchases are made on their own timetable, whether or not it aligns with your business

In other words, traditional marketing styles no longer have the impact they once did. Consumers are more discerning and focused on the value your company can give them rather than simply the products or services you provide. If traditional marketing is sale-based, today’s approach is education-based.

What is Education-Based Marketing?

An education-based approach to marketing means moving away from a typical sales pitch and messaging. Instead, you’re providing consumers with valuable information related to your industry or products that allow them to make confident, informed purchase decisions. By providing consumers with a wealth of information related to your market, you establish yourself as an authority in that field. You show that you are knowledgeable about what you’re selling. You know what you’re talking about, and now your customers will, too. In creating this sense of authority, you build trust with your audience.

Education-based marketing is also a long-term strategy in that it allows consumers the freedom to learn about and purchase when they want. With an education-based approach, you create content that can then live on your website, so that consumers can access it whenever they like. It allows you to have a constant pipeline of prospects accessing the information without you having to seek those prospects out.

Know Your Stuff

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To implement an education-based approach to your marketing, you’ll need to know your product and your customer well. Consider what a customer who purchases your product would want to know about the product, its uses, and any problems that often come up. Speak to their specific challenges and goals to develop a message that will resonate with your target audience.

Depending on what industry you’re in, lack of knowledge can be a significant hurdle when it comes to making a purchase. If a consumer feels overwhelmed at the thought of encountering your service, providing them with clear, concise information in various forms can help to ease that fear, making the consumer feel more comfortable with your industry. This article from Forbes outlines an effective example of using education-based marketing in the financial sector, to educate retirees.

Trust typically takes time to build up, and you won’t create trust with every consumer overnight. However, consistently providing potential customers with helpful, informed content will help to build trust faster than you may think.

How to Implement an Education-Based Approach

With any marketing campaign, you’ll need multiple touches before a consumer will engage with you. Education-based approaches are no different. Once you’ve identified your prospect and your message, put content out on all channels available to you. Make sure your message, tone, and imagery are consistent to make each touch point meaningful.

Some effective ways to provide educational content include:

  • Regular blog posts
  • White papers
  • Hosting a seminar for potential customers
  • An e-book
  • Short, informative videos
  • Webinars
  • Emails with links to relevant content

A Compelling Example: Carpet Cleaning

 

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In this podcast, business strategist Tony Robbins talks with the late Chet Holmes about the power of education-based marketing. Holmes discusses a carpet cleaning company that he worked with to increase sales using an education-based approach. In this case, the company worked to fulfill a need after they established what the problem was.

 

First, the company took research from the EPA regarding indoor air quality. The study found that in buildings where the carpets were vacuumed daily, there were still high levels of bacteria and other unwanted organisms in the carpets. When the carpets were removed from the building, people got sick 4 times more often than before. Essentially, this research concluded that carpets act as a filter to keep harmful bacteria out of our bodies. But to maintain a healthy level of bacteria, a carpet should be cleaned every 6 months.

When they presented the facts, people were pretty grossed out. The company was marketing to clients who typically had their carpets cleaned professionally once every 3 years. The company established a problem which consumers didn’t know they had, but immediately wanted to solve. Then, this company was poised to offer the solution.

By presenting the research alongside a membership plan that offered twice yearly cleaning at a better than average rate, this company, which had been around for 100 years already, found a new way to grow their business. The final tally? Business increased by 100%.

You may not see quite as dramatic growth when you add education-based marketing to your business strategy. However, over time, incorporating educational content alongside traditional marketing techniques will help to build your company’s reputation and value for current and potential customers, giving you a competitive edge.

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Direct Mail Tracking & ROI Success Indicators

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Personal. Reliable. Trustworthy. Useful. These are all words that have recently been used to describe direct mail. Direct mail is a powerful marketing and fundraising tool. A key to its success lies in tracking response and measuring results. If you have no way of knowing what a recipient does once they receive your mailer, you can’t know the true value that mailer holds for your target audience. So, what do we measure? And how do we make mail trackable and measurable? The following measurements and tracking strategies can apply to for profit businesses and nonprofit organizations alike.

4 Key Measurements

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As with any marketing strategy, it’s best to begin your direct mail campaign by defining your goals. In a general sense, you’re likely looking to increase business or generate leads. But it’s important to be specific when targeting the message of your direct mail piece. Do you want to increase traffic to your physical storefront? Are you looking to drive recipients to a landing page on your website? Or, are you working to encourage event attendance?

Say you send out a direct mail campaign advertising your company as a service provider. Soon after, you start to see an uptick in business. This is the result you want, right? But it may be impossible to tell what effect your mail campaign had on growth of business or if the piece accomplished what you wanted it to.

And, if you don’t know how successful or unsuccessful your direct mail campaign was, it’s impossible to plan or improve your strategy in the future.

Once you know what you want to achieve, the following indicators can be used to calculate the results of your mail campaign.

Response Rate

This refers to the percentage of recipients who responded to your mail piece. Simply divide number of responses by number of mail pieces sent to get the response rate.

Conversion Rate

This is the next level up from Response Rate. More people are likely to respond to the mailer than those who eventually convert to customers (or donors.) Depending on what you’re selling, the conversion rate may be low, or it may take a longer period of time to achieve a conversion from your mailing. Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of actual orders you receive by the number of responses you got.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

CPA refers to the amount it cost you to obtain each new customer. Divide your campaign cost by the number of orders you received to determine CPA. You may find it helpful to compare the CPA for your direct mail campaign with that of your other marketing endeavors, as it will allow you to understand which channel achieves the most business for your market.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is the baseline for your campaign—how financially successful was this mailing? ROI is calculated by subtracting the cost of your campaign from the revenue generated and then dividing by the campaign cost.

As you get deeper into the measurement process, there are several other metrics you may want to measure.

6 Tracking Techniques

Now that you know what you’re measuring and how you’ll use your data, let’s look at 6 ways you can implement tracking into a mail piece.

1) Coupons

direct mail postcard hair cut couponsEveryone loves to feel that they’re getting a good deal. Depending on the nature of your business, a coupon offer can entice prospects who may not otherwise have visited you. I can think of several occasions when food coupons I received in the mail led me to a restaurant, sometimes one I was familiar with and often somewhere completely new. Your mailing could be a single coupon, or it could include several offers, allowing you to see which resonates most with your mail list.

If your business has several locations, it may be helpful to include a coupon code so that each location can process the coupons the same way, and you’ll accurately collect data for that mailing. Codes also make online purchases and purchases through apps easier to implement and track for coupons.

2) The Mail

Like coupons, where the recipient could bring the physical coupon in to your business, you could require recipients to bring in the mailer itself to receive the offer. For instance, you may be offering a free consultation. The recipient can only receive that free consultation when they bring the postcard along on their visit. That way, you’ll know exactly who responded to the campaign, since they’ll be handing over the addressed piece.

3) URLs

If you want to drive traffic to your website, you can create a landing page and URL specific to the mail campaign on your company’s site. Then, print that URL prominently on your direct mail piece. Visitors will come to the page directly from the mailing, so you can accurately track how effective the mail piece was at achieving your goal.

Personalized URLs (PURLs) are another option to explore. PURLs are customized to each recipient on your mail list. For example, for a contractor, a PURL could look like this: www.contractors.com/jane-doe. The content Jane would see if she goes to her PURL would be customized to her, with her name and offers specific to her needs and interests.

4) QR Codes

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You can use a QR code in the same way as a URL. Print a QR code on your mailer that, when scanned, brings recipients to a landing page customized to the mailing. When you track how many people visited that landing page, you’ll know how many people responded to your mailing.

5) Customized Phone Number

It’s also possible to create a custom phone number for your mailing campaign, if you’d prefer recipients call in to talk to someone at your business regarding the mailing offer. You can make it a point to track when a call comes in regarding the mailer. However, you’re likely receiving several calls throughout the day regarding all aspects of your business. To make it easier, you can set up a number separate from your regular business number that will forward to a separate line. Then, you’ll know any calls coming through that line are specific to your mailing campaign.

6) A/B Split

digital artwork two open laptopsIf you’re looking to track what resonates with your recipients, an A/B split can be helpful. Design your mail piece, then create a second version that differs by just one element, such as the headline, image, or language in the call to action. Split your mailing list in half, mailing version A to the first half and version B to the rest. You’ll need a way to track responses to determine which version that respondent received. This strategy can give you a sense of what language, offers, message, etc. connects with your audience, allowing you to plan and execute better targeted campaigns.

Tracking and measuring data from marketing campaigns provides you with invaluable information about your marketing strategy, your prospect list, and your prospect’s response to your product/service offerings. Sometimes an offer you thought would be a home run falls flat, while a mailer you weren’t expecting to stand out receives an overwhelming response. Any relevant and legitimate data that you collect from measuring will help you to better reach your audience with more personalized, compelling offers in the future.

Ready to step up your direct mail campaigns? From list work and design to printing and mail fulfillment, think Paw Print. Give us a call at 802-865-2872…we make it easy!

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.

Scorpion Marketing 101

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Get your prospect’s attention with a Scorpion Marketing Strategy!

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

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

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

Consider Scorpion Marketing

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

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

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

Putting People First

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

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

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

How Does Scorpion Marketing Work?

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

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

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

Want More Sales? Ensure Good Word of Mouth

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Recently, I enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant celebrating with a friend. Despite seeing advertisements for this establishment, I had never been. But lately in conversation several people mentioned to me what an exceptional experience they had dining there.

After that, I couldn’t stay away. Recommendations from friends and colleagues spoke to me in a way that ads never had. I stopped in for a bite and was not disappointed.

While a conversation may seem like just another part of each day, in this case it functioned as a marketing device. Word of Mouth Marketing (sometimes referred to as WOMM or WOM), is a crucial tool in any business’ marketing kit. Consciously or unconsciously, you’re likely participating in WOMM frequently. Anytime you recommend a product, restaurant, establishment, service, or destination, you’re influencing whether another person decides to patronize that business or purchase that product.

You may be asking, is this really marketing? The conversations we have from day to day aren’t scripted and approved by a company’s marketing department. But they have just as much, if not more, power than traditional marketing channels to make or break your business.

Word of Mouth Marketing: The Numbers

Would it surprise you to learn that 42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago? As sincere as your advertising may be (maybe you really do offer the best auto service in town) your audience is less trusting than ever of your message.

However, 90% of consumers are more likely to trust and purchase from a brand that has been recommended by a friend. And WOM impressions result in 5 times more sales than a paid media impression. In the nonprofit sector, the numbers still apply: 65% of donors learn about the causes they give to from friends and family.

While consumers place more trust in recommendations from people they know, word of mouth marketing is also bolstered by user generated content (UGC). This often takes the form of reviews from customers that are posted on a company’s social media page, web page, a Google review, or on a personal blog page.

UGC is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. 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.

With so many digital resources at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to chime in with our opinions about products and services. And, WOM doesn’t stop with just one conversation—that first recommendation sets off a chain of conversations that can reach more people in more personal ways than many traditional advertising strategies.

Using Word of Mouth for Your Business

Word of Mouth is essentially free marketing. However, it’s not something you should take for granted. Because of its power and potential reach, WOM can significantly impact your business. Positive experiences lead to positive recommendations. So it’s important to do your part to make each customer’s impression of you as favorable as possible.

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Be Creative

If you invest in a creative, smaller-scale marketing campaign, you’re going to impress a group of people who will tell others about it. Something that is fun and memorable will keep you at the top of a potential customer’s mind, and they’re more likely to share their experience and partake of your product or service.

Deliver Value for Your Customers

When marketing any business, it’s important to know and sell your unique value proposition. A major way to get someone talking about you in a positive way is to simply provide value for them. Whether it’s the personal attention you show to each customer, the ease with which you handle their projects, the special blend of creativity and knowledge you bring to the table, or your unique product offerings, if you are a valuable resource for your customers, they’ll be sure to tell others about you.

Up Your Emotion

Go to any reviews page, and you’re likely to see a similar trend. There will be a wealth of very negative and very positive reviews, with few falling in between. That’s because we tend to share stories that provoked some intense emotion in us. If my dining experience is just ok, I probably won’t tell anyone about it. But if I have a meal that knocks all the other meals I’ve had recently out of the park, I’m going to talk about it. And, I’m going to go back for another meal. Focus on creating experiences that inspire powerful emotional reactions from your customers.

Encourage User Generated Content

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As stated above, UGC has a profound influence on consumers’ decision-making. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback on social media, your website, or in some other way. Ensure that that feedback is visible to a wide audience, and don’t separate the bad reviews from the good. A negative comment is a chance for your business to show its human side. You can convey that you are listening to customers and prepared to work hard to improve their experiences.

Share Testimonials

Testimonials from customers and clients is an effective way to make use of UGC in your marketing materials. You can add these to case studies, your website, or printed brochures, to name a few places. Hearing a genuine comment from an actual customer that speaks to a need or desire many of your customers share can be a powerful reason for prospects to keep reading.

Create an Incentive/Referral Program

You can also encourage customers to talk about your business by giving them an incentive to review you or refer your company to someone else. This helps to build goodwill by showing appreciation and working to turn a visitor into a regular, recurring customer.

You can’t control exactly what customers say about your business. But being aware of the power of WOMM means that you can take steps with your marketing toward creating positive and memorable experiences for each customer, so that they’ll be eager to tell others about you.

Ready to create a marketing campaign that will get people talking? Paw Print & Mail can provide you with the design, print, mail, and promotional product components to develop a truly memorable marketing experience. Contact us today!

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Understand Your Audience for Marketing Success

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How well do you know your audience?

It’s a question that marketers and fundraisers regularly ask themselves. You may have a general idea of the types of people who are purchasing your products or giving to your cause. But crafting compelling messages requires a deeper knowledge of what resonates with your constituents. The most effective campaigns are those that reach people on a relevant, personal level.

To create content that an audience connects and engages with, you need to understand what motivates them to act. Look beyond basic demographics, like age, gender, location, and income (though those are important to know). Think about what your typical customer needs—what will help them achieve a desire or resolve a fear? And, what are those desires and fears?

Once you know what drives your customers, current and potential, you can craft marketing messages that speak to and resonate with them. To learn what those messages are, you can consider specifics about what you’re offering. Why would someone buy this item? What are they hoping to achieve? Or, why would someone give to my organization? What outcomes are they hoping to achieve or be a part of?

The best way to understand what your audience wants and what matters to them is to talk to them. Send an email campaign asking your list what topics or offers they’d like to see more from you. Reach out on social media, encouraging people to share their opinions on blog posts and hot topics. Better yet, sit down face to face with a top client and talk about their needs and experiences, and how you can help them get where they want to be. This kind of information is invaluable as you work to better reach your customers and enhance their trust in you.

How Does Your Audience Consume Content?

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One piece of knowing your audience is understanding how they consume media and access your content. Your current marketing strategy may consist of a blog, email list, and a social media page or two. You’re proud of the content you produce, both visually and for the quality of the information.

But it’s important to remember that marketing is a constantly changing playing field. By sticking with methods you’ve used for a long time without understanding their effectiveness, you may be investing time and money into a channel or strategy that just isn’t performing.

It’s not to say that your current strategy isn’t working. It’s just important to make sure that it is, and to be aware of which channels have the greatest reach with your audience.

Take a good look at your marketing channels and ask yourself questions. How are people finding your blog? Are they going directly to your blog page, clicking an email link, or finding the post on social media? Are recipients opening your emails? How are people engaging with you?

Also think about your target audience. Are they using email? Are they on Facebook? If you want to connect with older folks, for instance, focusing on Facebook might not be as effective as direct mail.

Your current audience could also be different than the audience you’re looking to reach. Maybe your customer base largely consists of an older demographic, and you want to reach more millennials. If so, it’s important to recognize that a strategy that worked for one group may not work as well with another and to determine, over time, what channels to invest in to ensure you’re reaching your intended audience.

And, you may be surprised by what people are consuming and how they do so. Millennials, for instance, consistently open direct mail and report that they enjoy reading mail, more so than older generations.

Measure for Marketing Success

You want to gain a better understanding of what your audience finds compelling. But where to start?

Before you take on any new marketing strategies, you need to know what’s currently working for you and what isn’t. Tracking your marketing is essential for improving response rates and achieving new goals.

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Depending on the marketing channels you use, there are different ways to track effectiveness. On social media, it’s relatively easy to see what types of posts are performing best with your followers. What content is getting the most shares and comments? Those are the types of posts you want to share more often.

If you’re using email automation software, there are usually metrics available that track data. These include open and click-through rates, unsubscribes, and bounces. For your website, you can use an application like Google Analytics to understand how many visitors are coming to your page, how they get there, and what pages/links they go to on your site.

Direct mail can also be very trackable. Include a coupon or return envelope that the recipient will have to return to you. Or try using a code that must be entered online to receive the offer. When you know how many pieces of mail led to an action, you can determine what content generates a response.

Email and direct mail are also effective for A/B testing. This involves creating two versions of a campaign that differ by one element. For email, it could be two different subject lines, or two different offers or images for direct mail. Try sending out each version in equal quantities. Then, you can track which email is opened more or which imagery or words lead to more gifts from donors.

In addition to reaching more people more effectively, tracking makes it easier to work toward and achieve marketing goals. Setting specific goals for your business or organization is important. Say you want to increase customer retention rates by 15%. Tracking customer data allows you to monitor exactly who is purchasing from you and how certain content or offers are affecting return business.

Now that you know the importance of tracking, you can take on new campaigns with measurement in mind.

 Targeting

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A benefit of having more knowledge is being able to better target your audience. As you get to know your constituents, you’ll likely find several different groups within the larger group of your customer base. Rather than sending a generic message to your whole list, you can now craft multiple messages around what will motivate each group. Sending more targeted, relevant messages to your audience will increase response rates and engagement with you.

Targeting is possible across marketing channels. With direct mail, you can segment your mailing list into groups. Instead of a single mailing, you can create multiple versions of your mail piece with different wording, imagery, or offers, sending a different version to each group based on their needs and interests. You could also send a mailing to just one group if you have something specific for them.

Email is similar. Lists can be segmented based on how often recipients want to receive content from you, the types of content they want to receive, whether they are part of a customer loyalty program, etc. On your blog, you can create content for a variety of categories based on customer interests. At Paw Print, we write blog posts that are B2B and B2C related, and other posts with information specific to our nonprofit clients.

While social media posts appear to all your followers, you can target any ads that appear on social media sites. Today’s algorithms allow targeted ads that will appear to very specific audiences, such as women between 35 and 50 who are interested in travel.

Need help reaching your audience? At Paw Print & Mail, we’re prepared to assist you with developing marketing strategies that are targeted for your intended audience. From direct mail to copywriting to promotional products and content marketing, we have the tools to make your message heard. Contact us today!

Boost Your Fundraising with Celebrity Status Donors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Constitutes an Influencer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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?

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Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

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

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

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

The Subtle Branding Approach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Have You Gone to the Mailbox Today?

Rethink Direct Mail

smiling woman opening direct mailThink about the last purchase you made. What did it take to bring you from prospective customer to committed buyer?

Prospects typically need multiple touches before they commit to a purchase—over 7, according to the Online Marketing Institute. While it’s relatively easy to send out lots of emails or post on social media, we’re in an age where many of us are experiencing digital overload. (The average office worker receives 121 emails per day!) In such a crowded digital space, it’s hard to make your voice heard. If you’re not getting the kind of response you’d like from your marketing campaigns, it may be time to add direct mail to the mix.

Direct mail consistently rates as being more trustworthy, more memorable, and read more often than email. It provides a personal touch and the kind of experience digital just can’t deliver.

Direct mail may seem limiting if you have limited experience with it. However, printing has advanced considerably, giving you a wide range of options for texture, color, shape, design, and personalization.

As with any marketing communication, direct mail works best when it is relevant to the recipient and tailored to your audience. Just like digital communications, you can automate your direct mail to make the process more efficient.

What is Marketing Automation?

The basic idea of marketing automation is to use software to replace repetitive manual processes with automated actions. You can find, target, and contact prospects effectively and efficiently. The automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists and target specific audiences with tailored messages, leading to increased sales for your business. Automation delivers you more qualified leads and makes your marketing more efficient, so that you can focus on high-gain sales activities for your company.

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

Automation often relies on a trigger system. When a prospect completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list, it triggers your software to send an email to them. Automation is regularly used for digital marketing processes. The benefit of digital automation is that you can reach prospects instantaneously, increasing the chances of a sale. However, direct mail can be automated too, and it gives recipients something more: a physical and personal experience that stands out from a cluttered email inbox.

Some examples of direct mail automation campaigns include:

  • Seasonal promotions
  • Exclusive offers based on past purchase history
  • Mailings to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or to thank
  • Promotional packages, featuring branded products

Case Study: A Real-Life Campaign

profiles of prospective customers
Background vector created by Iconicbestiary – Freepik.com

An essential factor of any automated campaign is to know your audience. Automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists to find the best audience for your campaign. You can define your best customers and the key demographic and psychographic factors they have in common.

If you’re working in a B2B context, you may find that a certain industry uses your services more frequently than others. It makes sense that you’ll want to engage with similar businesses to find more customers that are like your best customers.

A recent mailing campaign we did followed this model. We identified an industry we frequently worked with, and set out to create a campaign to attract more leads from this group. Having worked with this demographic before, we were able to anticipate common pain points, needs, and desires they face, and create content with those factors in mind.

Before contacting anyone, we put together a compelling direct mail marketing package. Personalized to the recipient, the package showed our knowledge of their industry and reached them on a personal level. The message–we know your problems and desires, and we can help you to solve and achieve them.

The packets included:

  • A letter personalized with the name, address, and institution of the recipient
  • A functional portfolio folder featuring content customized for the recipient’s business
  • A description of our services specific to that audience
  • Contents packaged in a custom envelope

While we were able to create a personal touch with our content, automation allowed us to find and connect with these prospects in a timely, scheduled manner. We purchased data lists that we then compared to our current customer list to exclude our customers from receiving a prospecting packet. Once we identified a qualified list of recipients, we automated the mailing by consistently sending out 10 packets per week. Then, we followed up with a structured phone and email schedule.

We created a personalized and industry-specific mailing and used automation to identify, mail to, and follow up with qualified recipients. We were able to generate business by creating an impression with our direct mail package. It stood out among the myriad marketing messages these businesses received on a daily basis.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in direct mail marketing. Let us help you design, print, and automate your next direct mail campaign, so you can generate qualified leads for your business.

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6 Strategies for Engaging Millennial Donors

young woman holding binoculars
People image created by Freepik.

What does the term “millennial” mean to you?

For many fundraisers, it means a struggle to find ways to connect with a diverse generation that has different expectations than those established by their parents and grandparents.

But millennials don’t have to mean a struggle, and they can mean the future of your organization. Millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population, and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020. It’s essential that you’re able to reach this generation with your fundraising efforts. It represents a significant number of potential donors that may be interested in giving now, and for many years to come.

More so than previous generations, millennials are very receptive to cause marketing and fundraising. 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.

Millennials’ desire to do good makes them qualified potential donors for your organization. But to reach them effectively, you may have to adopt some new practices.

1) Invest in Digital Marketing

Millennials grew up using computers, and they’re quick to adopt new forms of technology. If you want to make millennials aware of your nonprofit, you have to be tech savvy, too. You can:

  • Be active on social media by sharing, posting, commenting, and responding to any actions on your page.
  • Ensure your website is updated regularly, easy to navigate, and optimized for mobile devices.
  • Set up search engine optimization (SEO) for your nonprofit’s website.
  • Try using or creating a mobile app so that it’s easy for potential donors to give at any time (millennials tend to be impulse donors).
  • Develop consistency across marketing channels so that potential donors will have a seamless experience.

2) Millennials Like Direct Mail

Though millennials are digitally focused, they place value and trust in direct mail. 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email. Part of the reason is that direct mail can be extremely personalized for the recipient. Personal touches give your nonprofit a human, friendly side that millennials will connect with.

3) Be Approachable

Present your organization as approachable and encourage potential donors to engage in frequent conversations with you, whether on a blog page, social media site, in an email, or in person.

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Business image created by Peoplecreations – Freepik.com

By connecting with millennial donors now, you are beginning a long-term relationship with them, that will hopefully transition to a regular gift. Many younger people may not be in a position to make a financial gift, but are still passionate about helping. Encouraging them to volunteer with you keeps them involved while creating a deeper bond between them and your organization.

4) Think Global, Act Local

Millennials have a global consciousness, and they want to feel they’re contributing to a larger cause. If you can, connect your mission to a larger issue, and show how an action in your community can relate and support a global need.

5) Enhance Trust

42% of Americans believe brands are less trustworthy than they were 20 years ago. A good practice for reaching donors of any generation is to be transparent. Millennials want clear and specific information on the impact their individual contribution will have.

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Business card image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

Building trust also means staying in touch with donors on a regular basis. Since millennials value the relationships they build with organizations, it’s essential for you to communicate with them for more than just an ask. Reiterate the good you’re doing with regular updates on the impact you’re having.

6) Step Up Storytelling

Millennials tend to feel connected to causes rather than individual organizations. But you can use stories to show the impact, importance, and personal side of your nonprofit, helping millennials to build a stronger connection to you. It gives your organization a human side, and potential donors can see and hear from specific individuals they’ll be helping. Use a lot of images and videos in your fundraising materials to help your stories make an impact.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in nonprofit fundraising appeal production. Contact Paw Print today to enhance your nonprofit’s fundraising approach.

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