Boost Your Marketing Power with Storytelling

woman reading story to young daughters in garden
People image created by Jcomp – Freepik.com

Storytelling is an essential and ancient part of human communication. Before the advent of writing, detailed stories were told orally, passed from generation to generation. Stories hold meaning for cultures, reflecting their histories, beliefs, and customs. We tell stories to learn, build relationships, and make sense of the world around us.

In fact, our brains are programmed to recognize patterns and find meaning in those patterns. A story is a kind of pattern, and stories are an effective marketing tool that you can use to build connection with your audience.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories, the ones we remember. But what makes a compelling, memorable story?

Elements of an Effective Story

1) Be Memorable with Emotion

drawing of woman laughing
Background vector created by Freepik

Facts and figures are essential to marketing—you need data to understand and relay your progress, as well as understand the state of your business. But numbers alone don’t inspire strong emotions. According to communications specialist Rob Biesenbach, 63% of people remember stories, but only 5% remember statistics.

There’s science behind this notion as well. When we are exposed to facts, two parts of our brains are activated, to take in information and to process. On the other hand, a story activates several areas across the entire brain.

And, these areas aren’t just accepting information—they’re experiencing the story. Think of the last book you read. Maybe the main character slipped into a cool lake on a scorching hot day or felt full of fear before giving an important speech. Did you feel the relief of that cool water, or find yourself growing anxious on behalf of the character? That’s the power of a good story. And it reflects the fact that when we hear a story and when we have a physical experience, the same areas of our brains are activated—the brain doesn’t differentiate between a story and an experience.

Know the Emotions of your Customer

Stories can be emotional in and of themselves, so that most of us who hear the story feel the same emotions. You can also tap into your potential customer’s emotions by telling a story you know will resonate with a specific fear or desire they are experiencing.

Say Sally has always wanted to play the piano. You’re selling a system that will help your customers learn to play the piano fast, efficiently, and well. You can tell a story with the main character flawlessly playing a piece on the piano, finishing to a round of applause. Poise your product as the solution to that specific fear or desire in the story, and potential customers will be flocking to your brand.

2) Show Your Unique Side

Unless you’re selling a never-before-seen product, you’ve got competition. And even if your business is exclusive in what you offer, you’re still competing against countless other businesses and products for a consumer’s spending dollars. Why should a potential customer choose you?

Stories help you out here. Even if your business offers the same services as several others, only yours has your unique story. Telling the story of how you founded your company, developed your product, or helped a customer shows the special, human side of your business that separates you from the crowd and helps you connect with consumers on a personal, human level.

3) Inspire Action!

cartoon of man in suit running
Business vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

When we feel positive emotions, we want to do what we can to ensure those feelings continue. And when we feel negative emotions, like anger or fear, we want to act as soon as possible to stop those feelings. Because stories can make us emotional, they can also spur us to action. If your story inspires relief in consumers—finally, here is a solution to my problem—they’ll want to act to obtain that relief as soon as possible. They may have been searching for this solution for a long time. But your story raises the stakes—act NOW and your problem will disappear.

Stories also make us more likely to act because they can increase the perceived value of a product. A study called the Significant Objects Project found that when inexpensive items were marketed along with a story, the perceived worth of the objects increased, and buyers were willing to pay more for them than the object itself was worth. In this experiment, the purchasers knew the stories weren’t true—even still, the narrative gave buyers more of a reason to purchase.

4) Connect with Values

Consumers, especially Millennials, make purchase decisions as extensions of their values and identity. If a company doesn’t align with those values, consumers are more likely than ever to look elsewhere for their needs.

When you tell your story, you have a great opportunity to highlight what is important to you, what your company stands for, and your ultimate goals. Whatever those goals may be, they’ll likely resonate with a specific audience. This makes them more likely to purchase from you and to feel a greater connection to your business.

5) Make Use of Visuals

A story is built on compelling words. But sometimes, words aren’t enough. A captivating visual can say a lot, which is why the best stories make use of words and visuals to convey a message. Whether you’re talking about a specific individual, event, or circumstance, make sure to include visuals relevant to the story.

6) Personalize

Smiling woman posing in field
Nature image created by Freepik

It helps to tell your story from a particular point of view, whether it’s your own, someone in a similar situation as your potential customer, or someone who was helped by your product. This helps to put a face to the issue. Your product may have helped thousands of consumers. But being able to put a face and truthful, personal words to it can make all the difference.

What brand stories do you remember? Let us know! And, if you need help telling the story of your business, Paw Print offers copywriting as a service.

Now, go on. Tell me a story.

Scorpion Marketing 101

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

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

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

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

Consider Scorpion Marketing

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

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

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

Putting People First

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

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

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

How Does Scorpion Marketing Work?

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

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

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

Finding Graphic “Arts” Again with Engraving

sample engraving, the beauty of engraving

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

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

Engraving

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

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

Watch the process in action in this video:

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

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

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

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Hot Branded Products for 2018

2018 written with sparklers
donorlynk.com

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

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

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

Stainless Steel Water Bottles:

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

What’s a better alternative? Metal.

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

Other benefits of stainless steel bottles include:

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

two promotional metal water bottles

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Doohickey:

silver and black carabiner tools

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

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

Promotional Socks:

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

colorful promotional sock on foot depicting corporate logo

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

two striped socks embroidered with business logos on cuff

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

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

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Why You Should Add Philanthropy to Your Business

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

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

How Charitable Giving Helps Businesses

Giving Motivates Your Employees

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

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

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

Generate Positive Vibes for Your Brand

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

Stand Out from the Crowd

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

Tax Deductions

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

Walk the Talk

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

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

Other Ways to Give

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

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

Take Action

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

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

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

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

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5 Steps for Attracting More Qualified Leads

illustration of ways to generate leads
Background vector created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

In a perfect world, there would always be people seeking out your business, in need of the services you provide. You’d have so much business that you’d never have to worry about generating new leads.

Real life is rarely like that. Even if you’ve got a solid client or donor base and your services are in demand, it is a good idea to have a focus on generating leads as part of your marketing strategy.

If you want to increase sales or fundraising for your business or organization, as well as engage new people in what you have to offer, you’ll have to develop a strategy to connect with those who know little to nothing about your company. And while your efforts may seem unsuccessful at first, time and practice will help your business to grow.

In 5 Steps to Growing Sales Automatically, I outline a five-step process for enhancing your marketing strategy, steps I have put into practice to enhance my own business, that work! A recent way I’ve successfully connected with new prospects is by developing a mailing packet to send to a particular vertical market.

Generate Leads in 5 Steps

Step One:

In order to increase growth in your business, you need to have a solid understanding of where your current sales are coming from. Did you know that 5 percent of your customer base can provide over 50 percent of your sales? Often there is a trend among these customers that you can focus on when marketing. It may be where they are located, the size of the business, or age of the consumer. Whether you are a B2B business or a B2C business, there are ways you can find your “perfect customer” to better tailor your marketing efforts. When you’re ready to upgrade your marketing strategy, we can help you find your perfect customer.

Developing our marketing packet began with examining our customer base to determine who is utilizing our services the most. Examine your sales from the past year to find out who is making up that top 5 percent. Then, define those customers. Since we work from a B2B perspective, we asked questions about company size, location, annual revenue, and market niche, to create a picture of the perfect customer. Once you have that definition, you can better determine your sales focus, with a clear picture of which leads you should specifically market to.

Step Two:

Once we determined that we wanted to reach out to more of these particular customers, we identified what kinds of services they need from us—what we can provide them with to best match their goals and objectives. To do this, focus on why current customers that fit the perfect customer niche are using your company. Ask them what services they are happy with, as well as what they may need more of from you. This can benefit your current client base, too. Their answers can help you to reach out to new customers. And, you can improve the experience clients are having with your company, which will in turn boost revenue.

Knowing the kinds of services our current niche clients utilized, we wanted to provide prospective clients with marketing materials that would highlight how we could best meet their needs and help them to meet and grow beyond their expectations.

Step Three:

You know who your perfect customer is and, in general, what they will want from you. Now, you have to figure out the best way to find and connect with them. There are many marketing channels to choose from. The ones you ultimately use will depend on the demographics of your target audience. Using multiple channels, with a consistent message across the board, can be an effective method.

We made use of data channels in order to find perfect customers to market to. We were able to take the criteria that make up the perfect customer, and find businesses which fit those categories.

Step Four:

Increasing sales can seem complex, but can be broken down into a formula:

The perfect customer + a targeted message + the right marketing media = more qualified leads

One way to bring all of these elements together is through the use of direct mail. Since Paw Print & Mail is a printing company, using direct mail and including examples of what we could offer potential customers was how we chose to reach out to new prospects for our particular campaign. 56 percent of direct mail recipients feel value from a piece of direct mail, and showing potential customers both that you can offer them value and that you value them is a major factor in turning a prospect into a client.

Our direct mail piece makes use of personalization to show value. The packet consists of a padded folder holding a pad of graph paper personalized with the company’s logo and contact information. There is also a letter addressed directly to the prospective client, an insert detailing our services, and a business card so they can contact us for more information.

The packet itself is eye-catching, due to its size and originality. In constructing it, we put together our knowledge of what we know these companies need. The folder itself is a useful and relevant tool for this audience, as is the personalized pad. The pad, business card, and insert show that we know what clients in that line of work need. These items also demonstrate the quality of the work we produce here.

Even if it seems like direct mail is not the right method for your business, don’t discount it. No less than digital giants Google and Amazon are two of the top users of direct mail!

Step Five:

The culmination of all this work is a contact follow up plan. If you are inconsistent about when and how you follow up with prospective clients, it’s hard to know if your strategy is effective or not. We have developed a strategy and schedule for mailing and contacting our potential clients. It’s important that your business or organization make a plan and have everyone on board before you begin your campaign.

Our campaign has gotten a positive response, because we tailored the value proposition to what these clients need and understand. It takes more time, work, and money up front to develop and implement a campaign like this. But you can greatly increase your response rate and ROI while making a strong first impression on potential clients.

Contact us to make an appointment to discuss and strategize a plan to generate more leads for your business or organization.

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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.

Direct Mail Newsletters – worth sending (again)

Direct-Mail-is-PersonalI met with one of my nonprofit clients today for our annual first quarter review of the fundraising production services we performed for this organization in 2016, and also to get an idea of the results of their fundraising efforts.

The Executive Director announced with much pride and a big smile that 2016 was a very successful year for their fundraising efforts; generously exceeding the goal they set at the beginning of the year! Music to my ears!

What’s the secret sauce?

When asked what they attributed to their success, her response was being in front of their constituency on a regular basis. For the past four years, in addition to the various digital marketing channels they employ, this organization committed to printing and mailing 3-4 newsletter-style publications per year to tell their stories and engage with their clients and donors.

Slow and steady wins the race

Similarly, two of my longest running for-profit clients in Paw Prints’ 26 years so far, continue to print and mail their monthly newsletters without fail; for the past 20+ years and running.

Why do these and other organizations and businesses elect to print and mail a newsletter instead of relying solely on email? Because direct mail works for their business model and client base.

While good for some, is a direct mail newsletter right for your business or organization? Like many marketing strategies, the answer is it depends. It depends on who your ideal client/donor is.

Describe your target audience?

  • What are the demographics of your target audience? Criteria such as: age, income, education, occupation, lifestyle, client buying/donor giving history
  • What is your product or service? Small or low-priced consumer item? Large ticket item? Discretionary income item?
  • What is the lifetime value of a client?
  • Do you sell a value-added product or service, or a commodity?
  • Is the product space you’re in subject to constant and/or rapid change? Or subject to nuanced consistency?
  • What percentage of your revenue is derived from what percentage of your client base?

Looking at these criteria:

  • If you derive 80% of your revenue from 20% of your clients/donors
  • If you sell a high-value product or service
  • If the lifetime value of acquiring and retaining a client is relatively high
  • If your offering or organizational mission is somehow unique, technical, progressive, personalized, and subject to changes in the marketplace
  • If 80% of your target audience fits within a content-engaged demographic profile
  • If your target audience is engaged with the story you have to tell

… Then adding a direct mail newsletter to your marketing or fundraising mix is something to consider. Yes, you can handle all this with an email newsletter, and you should, but including a printed and mailed newsletter as part of a multi-channel approach is arguably a most effective strategy.

Quick reads for busy people

I’m a sucker for good content on the internet; for all the things I’m interested in and wish to accomplish in my personal and professional life. And, there is no lack of amazing content on every conceivable subject from smart people all over the globe.

So I subscribe, and subscribe again, and subscribe some more thinking that “it’s only a short read” and that I’ll get to every one of them. But reality and practicality is a different story! Even my most relevant and desirable eNewsletters get readily deleted when I’m crunched with work and projects – which is pretty much most of the time. When I’m staring at a constantly replenished list of emails in my inbox every day, I find my delete button gets quite a workout. Herein lies the bane of email marketing’s existence – along with overzealous spam filters.

People spend 30 minutes reading their mail

If a potential customer spends a few minutes on your website, that’s considered a good amount of time. What if we told you that they spend 10x more time with their mail?

According to the USPS, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. When it comes to magazines, they spend 45 minutes turning the pages.

Email newsletters are inexpensive to publish but increasingly challenging to be read. With a direct mail newsletter, the recipient has to physically lay their hands and eyes on the piece before deciding to read it or not, typically initiated with a quick “skim” of the content. With a captive and relevant design and headlines in place, the benefit of a physical piece is that it can be saved to be read at the recipient’s discretion and time-frame, away from the competition, clutter and chatter of all our digital media.

Physical mail leaves an imprint in the brain

Millward Brown, a research agency, found that physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain than digital media did. If people can touch and see a piece of direct mail, they’re likely to be more engaged with it.

A printed newsletter is tactile, triggering more of the 5 senses: touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (ink on paper is classic) that email simply can’t evoke. eNewsletters do the have the advantage of including links, videos, social network connections, etc., which is what makes email so powerful, but on its own, is easily lost or discarded.

People feel that direct mail is more personal than the internet

There’s something about receiving an email that can feel impersonal. It can take a long time for images to load, or they won’t load at all. With so many messages coming into your inbox, it’s hard to feel like any of them are special.

Direct mail, on the other hand, feels personal. According to USPS, 69% of people feel that mail is more personal than the internet. You’re receiving something tangible–like a ‘thank you’ card vs. a ‘thank you’ email.

Today’s digital print technology is impressive in its ability to personalize a document using variable data printing (VDP) applications. Here at Paw Print & Mail, we’ve employed sophisticated levels of VDP for many years, from simple mail-merge to personal URLs (PURLs) that integrate print and digital automation into a campaign that arguably rivals any multi-channel campaign.

Roughly 66% of people have bought something because of direct mail

According to the Direct Mail Association (DMA), nearly two-thirds of people have bought something because of a direct mail piece. Additionally, 70% of customers have re-started a relationship because of direct mail.

So what’s the justification and value proposition for considering direct mail for your newsletter marketing? I’ll bring it back to my nonprofit client’s comment at the beginning of this article… being in front of your constituency on a regular basis. The more ways and the more often you can share your brand and value proposition in a creative and relevant manner to your target audience, the more leads you will generate, deals you’ll convert, and money you will raise. Period. Slow and steady wins the race.

Care to talk more about your particular needs and challenges? Contact us at Paw Print & Mail for a chat.

Key Components of Successful Marketing Videos

marketing-video-statisticWhen it comes to marketing, staying current on the latest trends has a vital impact on successful lead generation. Whether it involves a new social media app, a trending topic or an online marketing campaign, a business grows when it stays up-to-date.

Video marketing continues to grow exponentially for online in particular. There are more video posts online now than ever before, and video shares are only expected to increase. If your business wants to stay current on the latest marketing trends, put video to good use.

Interested in getting started? Check out these five key components of how to make a strategic video script which will set your marketing campaign apart and boost lead generation.

1. Get ‘Em Hooked
Like most aspects of marketing, the initial hook of a video script should catch viewers’ attention and draw them in. Let the audience know you are talking to them specifically by addressing them directly. Identify the target audience and brainstorm how you would want to be addressed from their perspective. By giving your video script a strong, attention-grabbing intro, it will draw viewers and set the tone for the rest of a successful marketing video.

2. Connect Emotionally
After hooking the viewer’s attention, establish a personal connection with them. An emotional connection makes viewers feel your company cares for them and the community, thus encouraging them to take immediate action after viewing. As human beings, strong feelings impact our decisions, logic and mindsets; your business can take advantage by connecting with consumers on a deep personal level.

3. Tell a Story
Once you’ve grabbed the viewer’s interest and connected with them, get down to the point. Every successful video marketing campaign should tell a story—the company’s story, the service’s story and benefits or a customer’s story. Use the time to expand and go in-depth on the narrative’s focal points. The goal should be to gain the viewer’s trust and empathy, but take time to give details surrounding the story and lead viewers into the next big point.

4. Share Your Values
When you’ve established a story basis, the time has come to drop a value bomb for viewers. This is the most important part of a marketing video and should be restrained to one short, concise sentence. Until this point, the entire video should be leading up to this moment. The value statement is the main takeaway viewers should get. Keep it values-driven, short and powerful to gain viewers’ attention and make them remember your product or service.

After your business has established its value statement, wrap up with an influential outro. The goal of a video close involves viewers doing something after watching—a call to action. Depending upon the video’s focus, the call to action could be centered on buying a specific product, trying a service or just stopping in to take a look. Be sure to include information for a website, social media or any upcoming events.

Video marketing is a current and useful option to take advantage of for your business. A strong video script consists of five key components, each one with a specific purpose, working together to produce a video and generate successful leads.

By utilizing these component strategies, your company can create engaging, successful marketing videos, which will help promote your product or service. Try it out and see how your business grows.