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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Business image created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

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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Why You Should Add Philanthropy to Your Business

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

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

How Charitable Giving Helps Businesses

Giving Motivates Your Employees

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

  •  4 times more likely to give extra to get a job done
  • More likely to be brand ambassadors
  • More likely to want to stay at their companies long-term
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Business image created by Freepik

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

Generate Positive Vibes for Your Brand

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

Stand Out from the Crowd

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

Tax Deductions

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

Walk the Talk

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

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

Other Ways to Give

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

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

Take Action

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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

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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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5 Steps to Writing Compelling Web Copy

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When you write something good, you feel proud. You want to share it with the world, and you hope everyone will read it.

In a business environment, compelling copy is critical, as is a well-built website. When you combine the two, you create an effective lead generation tool that will increase your company’s sales.

But how much of your copy is actually being read? According to Hinge Marketing, visitors only read an average of 28% of the words on a web page.

The good news is, this is an average, and won’t be true for every website. While some websites aren’t user-friendly, your site doesn’t have to be one of them. You can increase the percentage of words read on your site, generate more traffic, and drive more sales using these 5 tips.

1) Know your SEO

Driving traffic to your web page is the first step, and it’s an important one. In order for this to happen you’ll want to know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO involves implementing strategies on your website so that it will appear higher up on a list of search results. It’s based on how search engines like Google use words on a web page to locate the content you’re searching for.

Some places to implement SEO are:

  • Title Tag: Text that appears in the tab when a page is open in a web browser.
  • Meta Title: This is the clickable link that appears in a search result.
  • Meta Description: Text that appears under the meta title in a web search.
  • Page headlines
  • Keywords sprinkled throughout the page

Check out this site for some helpful tips to better understand SEO.

You can also use software like Google Analytics to track the number of visitors to your site. Analytics can tell you what pages visitors are looking at, what links they are clicking on, and how long they are spending on your web page. And you can test out different title tags, headlines, etc. to see if it affects the traffic being driven to your page.

2) Concise Content Converts

Next time you’re on a webpage, consider how you’re reading it. It’s highly likely that you’re skimming the content, looking for key words and important points.

The reality is, most web users skim. They are generally not going to read dense paragraphs of text, as it is time consuming and they are eager to get at the facts.

The layout of your page is key for ensuring the content is read. Too many words and not enough spacing will give you low read and response rates.

Strong copy relies on brevity. Make your web copy concise, removing unnecessary words and breaking it up into short paragraphs. Start with a solid lead, the most compelling and interesting sentence, so that readers will want to continue down the rest of the page.

You should use headings and bullet points to make it easy for visitors to find the information they’re looking for as they’re skimming. And present key terms you know your audience is looking for in bold so they will stand out.

Also include links to other pages on your site that offer in-depth information. While you help grab a visitor’s attention with short copy, they will eventually want more information about a product or service you’re offering. Links will bring them directly to what they want to know. External links are also helpful, as they can bring credibility to your claims.

3) Speak to the “Experience”

Copywriting is all about selling an experience, and that’s critical to your web copy, too. You may be tempted to write copy that focuses on the intricacies of your company and its products/services, because it’s what you’re dealing with every day. However, your website should have an outward focus rather than an inward focus.

Why? Web users take between 10 and 20 seconds to decide whether or not to stay on a webpage. That means you have to communicate value to them fast. Your prospect is searching for an answer to the question, “how will this site help me?” If they’re not finding answers right away, they’re going to look to another website, and another company, to solve their problem.

Make your copy about the prospect and the experience they are going to get from your product or service. Simply listing the features offered is not going to keep the reader’s attention in the same way as showing the value the product offers, how it will give the prospect what they want.

This is a great place to include a link to a separate page with more details about the features and benefits of the product. Once you’ve emotionally hooked the reader with your initial copy, they’ll be looking for more information to rationalize why your product is a good buy.

4) Know Your Audience

Any copy you write needs to be understood by your audience. Your website is no exception. When you know your prospects and can visualize who will be visiting your website, you can write web content with that demographic in mind. What words are they using? What ideas/concepts are important to them? And why are they searching for your product or service?

Most businesses use internal, industry-specific language to refer to their products and processes on a regular basis. It may be easy for you to talk and write about your company this way. But technical terms mean little to your audience. Think about the search terms your prospects will use to find your page.  Incorporate that kind of language into your copy, rather than writing jargon-filled sentences that are likely to confuse and lose visitors.

You also connect with your audience better when you write like you talk. While keywords are an essential piece of driving traffic to your site, overusing them or using them in a manner that reads awkwardly will make prospects stop reading.

5) Always Include a Call to Action

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While some of your web pages, like blog posts or an About Us section, are meant to inform, your website’s main function is to generate leads and sales. Every page that includes a product or service you are selling should include a call to action (CTA). You don’t want your prospects to read your web page passively. Instead, you want copy that intrigues them and language that compels them to take action and make a purchase.

You should also make it easy for the prospect to take the desired action. Create a button in a contrasting color with text like “Order Now” or “Learn More.” You can make the CTA more compelling by adding value—try “Order Now to save 20%” or “Get Your Sample in 24 Hours.” A CTA becomes stronger when your webpage includes testimonials and reviews, guarantees, and/or generates a sense of urgency (buy now or miss out!)

Well-written copy is essential for your website, but it’s challenging to find the time to give writing the attention it deserves. Paw Print & Mail offers professional copywriting services, so contact us when you’re ready to give your writing a boost.

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4 Essential Copy Tips for Connecting with Prospects

businesswoman holding "wanted: more leads" cardLead generation is an important piece of marketing any business. If you’re reading this blog, cultivating leads is probably a topic that’s on your mind.

Writing compelling copy is essential for lead generation. The right copy with the right message behind it will give your marketing campaigns a significant edge over your competition.

When you’re selling a product, you may think that hyping up the product and describing all of its desirable features is the best way to market it. This information certainly has a place. But when you adopt this approach, you may be surprised that sales aren’t coming in the way you thought they would.

Why might this be happening? The most important factor in copywriting is not you, your business, or your product—it’s the prospect. If you want your prospects to engage with you, you must have a deep understanding of who they are and what matters most to them, and make that information critical to your copywriting process.

Here are 4 key tips for ensuring your copy will make the right connection with prospects.

1. Get to Know Your Prospect

Cartoon searching for prospects
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

One of the most important things to remember is that what is right for one prospect or product is not right for another. Your copy may be well-written and your message effective for a certain audience. But if it’s not the audience your product is meant for, your product is not going to sell.

That’s why it truly pays to take the time to identify and understand your prospect. Key demographics like age, gender, average income, and location are important. But for a truly effective sales message, these categories aren’t enough. You’ll also want to ask yourself, what are my prospect’s interests and worries? And go even deeper: what are their core beliefs and desires?

Develop a system or form that you can use to chart out information about your prospect, from the most basic to the most personal. When you get to the core of what really matters to your prospect, you can better target your message. And, you will be making a deeper connection with your audience, leading to increased sales.

How do you find information about your prospect? While you may have a basic idea of who is purchasing from you, there are a few resources you can use to help get to the core of who your prospect is and what matters to them:

  • Read customer reviews, testimonials, and surveys
  • Get to know the product well and test it out yourself
  • Look at past promotions to see what was and was not effective
  • Talk to the individuals who developed the product—why did they create it?

Remember that each product you sell may have a different audience. Or, you may have multiple audience segments for just one of your products or services. Personalization techniques allow you to segment your audience, communicating a unique message to each group.

2. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Prospects

Think about a time when you went into a store to make a purchase. Maybe you encountered a pushy salesperson, who kept up a constant spiel of details about the product you were looking at, pressuring you to buy.

How did that make you feel? Did you just want to walk out of the store?

If you did, you’ve experienced a feeling many consumers have: prospects don’t like the idea of being sold.

So, how are you going to get any sales? You need to create an emotional connection with your prospects. Your product or service may have great features. Yet the features alone are not compelling enough to a prospect.

Instead, consider the benefits. This is where knowing the struggles and desires of your prospects will be extremely helpful. If you can show how your product provides a benefit you know your audience is looking for, or how it will help them to achieve a goal or solve a problem, you will create a deeper connection with them.

Here’s an example. Say you’re writing copy about a new car model you are selling. Rather than structuring your message around the materials or technical features, you can focus on the notion of safety. Maybe your car is a sedan or SUV you plan to market to families, who are rightly concerned about getting everyone safely from one place to another. If you know your prospect, you’ll know that safety, comfort, and being good parents are important ideas for them. You can then market your product accordingly.

3. Story + Transition = Sales

One of the best ways to bring emotion to your marketing copy is by telling a story. Stories are an engaging way to show the benefits of your product or service.

An effective story could run like this: start in the middle of the story, describing an instance of a fear or desire you know your prospects have experienced to draw them in. Then, go on to show how your product will benefit the prospect by solving the fear or allowing them to achieve the desire.

You want the prospect to see themselves in the story. Use the story to bring to life the benefits your prospects want. Then you can demonstrate how purchasing your product will directly lead to those benefits.

Something to keep in mind when writing copy or a story is to market a transition. As a part of defining your prospect, you’ll want to think about where they are now as well as where they want to be.

We can use the example of the car to illustrate this. The prospect may be anxious about driving their current car because they feel it isn’t safe enough to protect their family in an accident. Where they want to be, and where your story can show them ending up, is in a place where they are able to relax and enjoy driving again because they know they’ve chosen the best car for their family to travel safely.

You want your copy to illustrate this transition is possible and will bring the desired benefits—but only if the prospect purchases your product.

4. Speak to Your Prospect

Cartoon of two businessmen in conversation
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Language is an essential piece of copywriting. Even a compelling, emotional story will not be successful if you don’t write in the language of the prospect.

Formal and technical writing is not your friend here. This style certainly has its place, but marketing copy works best when you write the way you talk. It requires you to use words and phrases your prospects regularly use, written in a conversational, one-on-one tone.

In general, copy should be made up of short sentences and commonly used words, and free of jargon. The individuals who developed your product or service probably speak about it in technical terms, which may have little to no meaning for your prospects. It may seem like using these kinds of technical words will give your prospects the impression that your product is well-developed or backed by science and technology. However, there is a greater chance you’ll end up confusing them.

Certain words will have certain meaning for certain groups, so, again, you want to be specific about who you’re marketing to. In a B2B context you may have more flexibility with technical terms that are commonly used in the industry of your audience, so some jargon may be appropriate.

Copywriting is an essential piece of the marketing process. We know it can be hard to find the time to write copy that hits just the right note with your prospects. At Paw Print & Mail, we have the copywriting (and content writing) experience to help you reach your audience, so contact us today to get started on your next marketing campaign.

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Make Your Marketing Powerful With Humor

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Key Benefits of Humorous Marketing Content

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

two people laughing and drinking wine
People image created by Freepik

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, to recap—3 benefits of humor are:

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

Your Sense of Humor = Your Brand

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

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

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

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

So, how can you be funny?

Keep it Casual

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

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

Just for Fun

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

Rock the Boat

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

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

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Write Marketing Copy to Inspire and Motivate

Copywriting_Paw_Print_And_Mail
Business image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

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

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

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

1) A Personal Touch

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

2) Place Your Audience at the Center

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

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

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

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

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

3) Grabbing Attention

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

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

4) Keeping it Simple

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

5) Style Choice

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

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

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

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Direct Mail Marketing, Alpha Romeo Style

Alfa-Romeo-mailing-panelWhat’s the most powerful and effective way to engage your clients and prospects in your marketing message? Speak to them one-on-one. Communicate in such a way that each person you mail to knows, or better yet feels that they are special to you; that you have something to say that they’ll be eager and enthusiastic to hear about.

One of the best ways to do so is by using one simple word… “You”.

The following real-life example and images are used to illustrate just how valuable it is to speak to your target audience when conveying your brand in your sales and marketing messaging.

And by “brand”, I don’t mean just the logo, which is only one graphical representation of your brand; but your BRAND – that special something about your company or organization that defines who you are, what you do, and how you do it. It’s what attracts customers to your company, converts them to customers, and prompts them to spread the word.

I’m a car guy. I am a big fan of sports and performance cars, both vintage and new. Back in the day, I drove a bright yellow 1973 Triumph Spitfire; one of those teeny-tiny British 2-seat roadsters that helped define the classic wind in your hair (when I used to have some) description of top-down motoring. To this day I’m still an enthusiast and enjoy driving cars for more than mere transportation. My current Audi has a manual transmission with a stick shift that for me, is simply fun!

So when this mailer arrived in my mailbox from Berlin City, the local Alfa Romeo dealership for this Italian car manufacturer’s reintroduction into the US market, they had done their homework by identifying me as a member of their target audience – someone with an interest in fun sporty cars.

Let’s breakdown this mailer… Alfa-Romeo-mailing-panel

First, the iconic Alfa logo and branding is front and center on the outside of the mail piece. They don’t design logos like this much anymore.

 

Alfa-Romeao-Greeting-Paw-Print-and-MailI turn the piece over to find the headline at the top that reads:

YOU ARE INVITED TO EXPERIENCE THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA.

This could have easily been written to read: CHECK OUT THE ALL NEW 2017 ALFA ROMEO GIULIA INSIDE; and while I still would have been curious, the actual headline speaks to me by using the word “YOU”.

They also used another very powerful word in this headline… EXPERIENCE. Let’s face it, the fundamental function of a car is transportation; carrying people and things from point A to point B. Any car can do that and for many people, that’s all they need, want, or expect out of a car. But for the driver of a hot Italian red car like this, the point, or more aptly the unique selling proposition, shifts from utility to emotion, and the experience you see, hear, and feel when behind the wheel of this automobile.

Alfa-Romeo-Direct-Mail-Paw-Print-and-MailNext, I open the mailer and the very first thing I notice are the letters VIP – with the “V” creatively crafted using the V-shape of the Giulia’s classic signature Alfa Romeo front grille.

We’ve been trained through language and marketing to put a high value on the letters VIP, and it works every time. Then, right below the VIP is the coupes de grace… the Call-to-ActionSchedule your personal Test Drive Experience, employing an equally influencial derivative of the word “you”… “your”.

Alfa-Romeao-OfferPaw-Print-and-MailYes, there’s more throughout the mailer that visually shows off the car, along with an attractive lease offer, but the REAL call-to-action is the invitation to experience driving this car; because Alfa Romeo and the dealership are pretty confident that once driven, the sales process gets much easier from there.

People buy on emotion

So THIS is a great example of the power and attraction that direct mail has and will continue to have so long as marketers know how to use it and apply direct mail marketing’s three fundamental best practices:

  1. Know your target audience and focus your time and budget on them
  2. Include a compelling offer that speaks to the person and evokes emotion
  3. Design the mail piece to be relevant and attractive to the target audience; integrating personalization and the word “you” whenever appropriate.

For the best experience and results for your direct marketing projects, Contact Paw Print & Mail to discuss your objectives and needs with us.

Online Reviews – 50 revealing stats for your business

online-reviews-business-strategy

So you’re eager and ready buy that new range for your kitchen. Or hire a photographer for your wedding. Or you’re in the market for a new SUV. Or want to know where the best Thai food in town is. If you’re like most people, what’s one of the steps you take before plunking down your hard-earned cash?

Read a review

As a consumer, when looking to buy something your decision is most likely influenced by reading reviews, especially as the price tag rises.  EBay was one of the pioneers to implement an online review-based transaction process that turned out to be brilliant yet simple, and the foundation to their sustainability after all these years. Maintaining a positive review score encourages the buyer to give preference to those that rate high, while motivating the seller to do what’s necessary to please the buyer and earn a positive review. Simple, efficient, and generally very reliable.

How often do we see and hear the word value or phrase delivering value when reading or discussing what makes a business successful, success that’s not differentiated solely on price. It’s easy for a seller to “say” they deliver value, because it’s one of the right things to say when in front of a potential customer, but it’s quite another to actually deliver value, which can be measured in so many different ways. What’s perceived as value to one may not be considered value to another. In today’s marketplace, where the customer possesses virtually all the power, especially in an online marketplace, identifying and delivering value to a wide array of customers can be tricky and perplexing.

Enter the review

Customer reviews are the great equalizer in the marketplace. For the buyer they build confidence in the purchase decision, provide peer feedback data, and move them along the buying cycle. For the seller, reviews help get inside the customers’ head, they can (should) cause a business to level-up their game, and they can help to define what value means to the customer. Reviews can also result in a learning, if not humbling, experience.

About five years ago I was introduced to a simple and easy to use automated online survey service for Paw Print & Mail made available to me through one of my trade groups. The service, provided by Survey Advantage, has turned out to be one of the most valuable tools I’ve ever implemented over my 26 years in business. Not only has this tool influenced my sales and marketing efforts, but also my customer service standards; which in turn comes back around to influence sales. Do good work, earn good reviews, and build more sales. Repeat, then repeat again, and again. I call it the circle of business life!

But if you choose to solicit reviews, be prepared for a little surprise, if not disappointment, now and then. Sorry to break the news but life isn’t perfect and sooner or later, no matter how hard you try to please, a sour review will come along. Maybe you really screwed up an order, or maybe it’s not a screw up at all but a miscommunication or perception that has influenced the bad review; but that’s the checks-and-balance part of the equation and the part that makes you better, if you care and pay attention.

The key to handling a poor review is to respond immediately, clearly understand the nature of the complaint, ask what it would take to fix the problem, then do the right thing.

Reviews keep sellers honest and on their A-game when done well and implemented as part of a strategic marketing plan. Great for SEO ranking too!

Looking to grow and generate more leads for your business? Take a look at the following statistics to better understand the full potential of making and managing reviews for your business or organization.

50 stats that show the importance of online reviews

  1. 92% of consumers now read online reviews vs. 88% in 2014
  2. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just one to three reviews vs. 29% in 2014
  3. Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
  4. 44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant.This highlights the importance of recency in reviews!
  5. 68% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more vs. 72% in 2014
  6. 43% of consumers search a business by reviews at least one time per month vs. 38% in 2014
  7. 60% of consumers have searched a business at least six times per year vs. 56% in 2014
  8. There has been a considerable decrease in those that “never” search for a local business online, down from 22% to 9%, and an increase in those that search for a local business every day, up from 7% to 14%
  9. 73% have read online reviews on a desktop
  10. 29% have read reviews on a tablet
  11. 33% believe all local businesses should have websites designed for mobile vs. 25% in 2013
  12. 61% are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile optimized site
  13. 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading one to three reviews, vs. 29% in 2014
  14. 73% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to six reviews ,vs. 64% in 2014
  15. 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews vs. 84% in 2014. This means it’s important to have a large body of reviews, as customers are reading more reviews now than in all years past.
  16. Only 12% are prepared to read more than 10 reviews vs. 16% in 2014
  17. 26% of consumers say it’s important that a local business responds to its reviews
  18. Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two star rating
  19. 57% of consumers would use a business with a three star rating
  20. 94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating
  21. 51% of consumers will select a local business if it has positive reviews
  22. 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
  23. 48% will visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews
  24. 23% will visit the business premises directly after reading positive reviews
  25. 9% of consumers will phone a business after reading positive reviews
  26. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores
  27. Reliability (27%), expertise (21%) and professionalism (18%) remain the most important attributes to consumers
  28. More consumers are interested in “good value” than before, while less are concerned about the “expertise” of a business
  29. Word of mouth is still the most popular method of recommendation for consumers despite a 2% drop year over year
  30. On average, a consumer will look at over 10 information sources before making a purchase
  31. Over half of young people aged 18 to 34 say they trust online reviews more than the opinions of friends and family
  32. 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision
  33. Consumers who read reviews on a smartphone are 127% more likely to buy than those who read reviews on desktops
  34. Reviews are especially important for local searches as they influence up to 10% of the ranking
  35. Only reviews from friends and family are trusted more than online reviews. Reviews from experts and celebrity endorsements are less trusted than online reviews
  36. 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews
  37. The three online platforms dedicated to reviews with the most global traffic are: yelp, tripadvisor, foursquare
  38. 58% of consumers said they have recently (within the past five years) began leaving more and more online reviews based upon customer service
  39. 100% of customers who make over $150,000 annually claim to leave reviews when it comes to a poor customer service experience
  40. Reviews of 50 or more, per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates
  41. 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews
  42. 105% customers are more likely to purchase while visiting, when site visitors interact with both reviews and customer questions and answers, and spend 11% more than visitors who don’t interact
  43. Reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales
  44. 64% of consumers would read online reviews when purchasing technology items
  45. 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores
  46. Between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter the majority (67%) of shoppers from purchasing a product or service
  47. 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews
  48. Number of reviews posted every minute by Yelp users is 26,380
  49. If a business resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers returns back to your business
  50. 38% have read online reviews on mobile internet vs 24% on a mobile app

All stats sourced from 

BrightLocal,  Business2community,  Bazaarvoice,  webrepublic,  reprevive,  Econsultancy, business2community, Reevoo and Social Media Today.

Being Face-to-Face With Your Customers

Truism #1 – the more things change the more they stay the same

You’ve probably come across this truism at one time or another. I have found this phrase to be true on many occasions, which I suppose is what makes a truism, a truism.

Specifically here, this truism refers to a circling back to the fundamental practice of person-to-person sales and marketing. That is, growing your business or nonprofit organization by getting in front of your customers or donors by putting people first and making the relationship the central theme of your efforts; all day, every day.

Pretty obvious right? But in reality, how many sales and fundraising professionals are consistently in front of their customers or donors?And make no mistake, whether a for-profit customer or a nonprofit donor, both are considered a customer because in either case you are selling something – your product, service, or mission – to somebody for money, time, or both.

Whether you’re a B2B business, a nonprofit organization relying on donations, or a B2C business that sells bigger ticket items or only occasional purchases, your success relies on a higher level of engagement with your customer when compared to more consumer-based businesses where the one with the biggest ad budget and lowest prices usually lead.

More accurately, you live or die by how you view and respect the customer; because at the end of the day, the customer is in charge. With more ways to solve problems and vendor options to fix them than ever before, the customer is in the driver’s seat when deciding who to buy from – whether from you or your competitor.

Though dated, I recall this 1990 United Airlines TV ad that speaks to this very topic and is as true today as it was then. Take a look…

Truism #2 – Everything old is new again

While it’s foreign to imagine a time without our digital channels, before there was email, social media, and text messaging, and even before faxing and television, by-and-large, people did business face-to-face; a channel that require the buyer and the seller to be in the same space together telling stories, asking questions, sharing ideas, handling objections, negotiating, and ultimately shaking hands. In direct selling, the relationship is integral and unavoidable, whether positive or negative, and remains to this day, the most effective way to grow your sales, your business, or your brand in a meaningful and sustainable manner.

And you know, or should know, that if you aren’t in your customers’ space, somebody else is or will be. It’s just a matter of time; and in that space and time, your customer will gather information, draw their conclusions, and make their decision. Being the first one they think of is a by-product of making this the year of your customer.

And when you spend dedicated and interested time with your customers, you come to know more about them and their needs. When you can do this at a level that even anticipates their needs and makes their job so much easier as a result, not only do you get the sale, but you build upon the lifetime value of a customer or donor. It’s magical.

It takes effort, but it’s magical.

To this point, check out the following 2016 SalesForce Research data from their Second Annual State of Sales report:

Pulling from the immutable 80/20 Rule, to the 20% that comprise the sales and fundraising leaders in any given sector, they know the importance of the customer connection and are in front of their key customers on a regular business. But for the other 80%, personal contact with key customers tends to be less consistent because it’s so easy to become distracted – by technology, by time management, by the next shiny thing that appears in front of us, by trying the proverbial silver bullet, and by simply becoming complacent.

The leaders in sales, fundraising, and any other occupation – the 20 percenters – attain their success by always focusing on the fundamentals; doing the basic and often boring things that, when consistently applied and repeated over time, yield the desired results. And that thing is focusing on the customer in personal and meaningful ways.

So, I’m not advocating dropping your email marketing or blogging or the social media posts you use to build your brand and awareness, but reminding you (as I do for myself) that everyone else is doing some or all of these things too, because it’s convenient and current with the times. But those who make the extra effort to be in front of their customers this year, will the 20 percenters at end.