Print Communications: Smart Ways to Reduce Waste

shutterstock nuture plantHappy Earth Day! April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of what the Earth Day Network calls “the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.” Each year, it brings into focus issues of the day, builds community activism around the world and causes us to think about the impact of our own habits.

As a business communicator, you have many marketing channels available to you and important goals to reach. You can choose print communications to be part of your mix . . . and feel good about it.

What can you do to make a difference? Here are three quick ideas:

1. Cleanse your mailing list. Save money and eliminate waste by managing your mailing list carefully, deleting duplicates (John A. Jones and Mr. John Jones) and the non-deliverables. Track and measure your response rates to trim lists even more.

2. Be a smart prospector. Today’s small and mid-sized business marketers can easily and affordably leverage the power of highly-targeted data to reach a very specific audience. Using one of the premier list sources, there are 25,000 business-to-business buyer lists and more than 38,000 business-to-consumer lists – many highly targeted by demographic and lifestyle characteristics. Why spend money mailing to people who will not be receptive to your message, or worse – those who may want to hear your message but who have moved and won’t receive your mail?

3. Print on demand. On-demand digital printing uses computer-generated text and images instead of traditional printing plates. Turnaround is 50 to 70% faster than traditional printing and offers an economical way to produce quantities as low as 50 without sacrificing quality. The ability of digital printing to produce small batches of reports, newsletters, brochures and other printed materials not only reduces waste due to obsolescence  but also limits inventories.

Want more ideas to help you reduce, reuse and recycle your print communications? Let us know!

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The Case for Case Studies

shutterstock_231340918When you’re ready to make a purchase, especially when it’s a big one, you don’t jump in without doing some research first.

Today, most of us ask the opinions of others and spend some quality screen time researching our options. In our connected world, nine out of 10 people look for product information, including reviews, social posts and comparative product information, before making a purchase decision.

And while buyers are looking for opinions, they aren’t looking for your opinion of your product or service. Instead, they want to hear from people who’ve used what you offer. They want to know that someone who is similar to them had a positive experience and felt their time and money were well spent.

Case studies, when done well, are a great way to provide this information. They illustrate the real-world results that customers want to see in a compelling and engaging way.

The challenge is creating a case study that gets and keeps people’s attention by telling a powerful story.  As you get started, here are some important case study to-dos:

  1. Understand your goals and audience. What are you trying to accomplish? What’s your message? Who are you trying to share it with? And what do you want them to do once they’ve read it?
  2. Have a strong story to tell. Is your customer’s story relatable? Is it realistic? Do you have strong facts and figures? Will readers see themselves in the story you’re telling?
  3. Secure customer participation. Make sure the potential subject for your case study is all in. Are they comfortable sharing ROI facts and figures? And is their legal department? If they can’t share the full story, then it probably isn’t the right story to tell.
  4. Write from the customer’s perspective. Focus on the customer’s success story instead of your marketing message. This is about them, not you.
  5. Think: action and engagement. Make the story readable and relatable. Address the customer’s challenges. Talk about the solutions provided and how they met the customer’s need. Then show off their results.
  6. Share, share, share. Publicize your case study’s availability. Post it on your website. Share it on social channels. Include it in your email marketing efforts and newsletters. Blog about it. Create videos from your case studies. And share the stories with your sales team.

Need help with your case studies or other content marketing tactics? Let us know.

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Survey Says: 5 Key Findings Impact Nonprofit Marketing

Nearly 17,000 charitable donors in the U.S. responded to a recent survey conducted by Cygnus Applied Research and compiled by Penelope Burk. Among its findings, the research revealed:

  1. Donors plan to maintain level of giving. While the majority (55%) expected to give about the same over the previous year, the ratio is 4:1 for donors who planned to give more than less. Among those intending to give more, 67% cited personal financial ability while 31% referenced satisfaction with the organization they support.
  2. Givers are changing the ways in which they donate. Sponsoring participants in athletic-type fundraising events, like walk-a-thons, is increasing in popularity, as are online, monthly and social media giving. Direct mail remains the favorite form of gift transaction, although longer-term trends show it to be decreasing in popularity.
  3. Contributors are becoming more selective. More than half (57%) of respondents said they spend more time researching nonprofits before they give for the first time or renew their support. Their main source of information by far? Websites. Donors also value measurable results; 69% said they are likely to favor organizations that report on what is being achieved with donor gifts.
  4. Donor recognition garners greater results. Contributors were asked if they would give again and more generously the next time to a nonprofit that acknowledged their first gift promptly and reported their progress in measurable terms before asking for another gift. Nearly seven out 10 said they would definitely or probably renew, half would make a larger gift, and 67% would continue to give indefinitely – assuming they received these considerations on each occasion.
  5. Many have more to give. Fully 40% of survey participants said they still could have contributed more – including half of donors under the age of 35.

Need help in applying these and other research findings to marketing your nonprofit? Let us know.

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5 Dos and Don’ts of Donor Recognition

Donors According to the 2014 Burk Donor Survey by Cygnus Applied Research, donor recognition can be a tricky thing. A carefully considered gift or event invitation can strengthen a relationship, while something frivolous or connected to yet another appeal for cash can be alienating. Here are five tips on what – and what not – to do:

1. Don’t publish the names of your contributors. Nine out of 10 donors say this form of recognition neither influences them to stay loyal longer nor inspires them to give more generously, according to the Cygnus survey.

2. Do hold donor recognition events… and be sure to offer attendees the opportunity to learn, first-hand, what their gifts are achieving. Most donors (87%) who attended a recognition event say it positively influenced their decision to give again.

3. Don’t present plaques or certificates. Or at least think twice before you do. More than half of survey respondents are unhappy when nonprofits defer a portion of their gifts to recognition that they don’t want. An additional 14% say certificates and plaques are simply unappealing.

4. Do recognize donors with thoughtful gifts. People say they like to receive poems or paintings from participants in educational or artistically oriented nonprofits; cards with a personal note of thanks; or photo albums of the good works a charity was able to accomplish thanks to contributions.

5. Do skip “token” gifts. Per the Cygnus data, some donors perceive them as evidence that fundraisers are unaware of what motivates them to give, and tokens may suggest unnecessary additional costs to fundraising.

One more “do?” If you need assistance in marketing your nonprofit, let us know.

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Face Time: How to Network With the Best of ‘Em

shutterstock_153117176Don’t we all know someone who is a natural networker? He walks into a crowded room, completely uninhibited. She puts every person she meets at ease with comfortable, effortless rapport.

For most, face-to-face networking presents a bit more of a personal challenge. Yet it’s so important – even in a day and age when we’ve all grown accustomed to counting (and monetizing!) our friends, fans or followers. How quickly we can forget the intrinsic value of looking someone in the eyes and shaking their hand.

No doubt about it; it’s an investment in energy and time. Professional conferences, company-sponsored events, expos and bona fide networking groups all provide fertile ground for making important business contacts that can result in new partnerships, new sales or new employment opportunities. Here are five ways to make the most of it:

1. Break the ice. If small talk doesn’t come naturally to you, a surefire way to spark conversation is to divert attention to someone else. Ask open-ended questions to take the focus off of you – and relieve your unease. (“What brings you here?” “What did you think about the last speaker?”)

2. Be prepared. When attention does turn to you, be ready with your 30-second “elevator” speech. It’s a brief synopsis of your company that you can tell quickly. For others to care, it should address a want, need or desire of your customers.

3. Pack your business cards. Digital world? Sure. And yet a tried-and-true staple like a business card remains an essential. Distribute them freely.

4. Go multi-channel. Go the next step with the business cards you collect, and reach via social networks, like LinkedIn. Skip the standard default message, and remind your contacts where and when you met in the invitation.

5. Have a follow-up plan. Just like your personal relationships, business connections grow and evolve over time . . . but not without effort. Reach out regularly and share relevant information – links to articles of interest, for example – with those whom you’d like to know better. And keep the conversation going.

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How to Reach Donors With Direct Mail: 6 Best Practices

shutterstock_communityWith all of the fundraising options available to charitable organizations today, direct mail remains the dominant channel for new donor acquisitions, reports The 2014 Burk Donor Survey by Cygnus Applied Research.

So, how best to make the most of your fundraising opportunities with direct marketing? Here are six quick tips:

  1. Make your appeals as compelling as possible. Be sure to note how contributions are making a positive difference by supporting your appeals with success stories, updates or photographs. In fact, 69% of the Cygnus survey respondents said they are more likely today than five years ago to support organizations that provide measurable results on what is being achieved with donors’ gifts.
  2. Match your gift requests to specific needs. Most donors like to know what their money is going toward.Nearly half said they would have given more if they had been asked to support a specific program.
  3. Mail as often as your audience allows. Granted, this may require judgment, experimentation or even research, but appeal as often as you can, since donors who most recently gave are the ones who are most likely to give again. A word of caution here: Irritation with over-solicitation continues to rise, as 64% of respondents said they now stop giving or give less to those that over-solicit, up from 41% when Cygnus first began asking the question over a decade ago.
  4. “Tier” your direct mail contributors. Give your top donors the VIP treatment – perhaps employing variable data printing to acknowledge past generosity, using finer stationery or even going so far as making hand-written appeals. Alternately, there may be some who wish to receive solicitations only once or twice a year. Honor their requests and, in your communications to them, be sure to note that you have done so.
  5. Give donors a choice on how to give. Sponsoring participants in athletic-type fundraising events like walk-a-thons or run-a-thons as well as other non-athletic events is increasing in popularity. Also on the rise are online giving, recurring (monthly) giving and social media.
  6. Grow your own mailing list. It’s acknowledged that 50% of a mail campaign’s success is dependent on the list of people to whom you make your appeal. And those on your “house list” are five to 10 times more likely to respond to your campaign than those on any other list you purchase or lease. So make the most of every opportunity to add to your internal database with names you’ve collected from information requests, website registrations, event sign-up forms and more.

Need help with direct mail marketing for your nonprofit? Let us know.


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Supersize it! Nonprofits Stand Out with Signage

Happy face stands out in a crowdOne of the top calls to action for nonprofit direct mail appeals in 2015 is to register for an event, according to Often challenged with modest promotional budgets, nonprofits have to make a big impact with their events – and one of the most cost-efficient ways to do so is with large format printing.

What is large format printing? It’s really anything that is printed to be oversized, like posters and banners; wall, window and floor graphics; backdrops and displays, even vehicle decals and wraps.

New technologies have made it possible to affordably print on a wide range of materials. For temporary or single-use banners whether used indoors or out, you’ll probably specify a heavy weight paper, canvas or foam board. And for outdoor or longer-lasting applications, your choices can include acrylic, aluminum, composites, corrugated plastics, fabrics, glass, plywood, PVC, vinyl and much more.

The next time you need to convey an idea, teach a concept, increase awareness or attract new supporters in a crowded environment, remember that big signs don’t mean big money.

For help with printed promotional materials on any type small or large, please call on us.




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Writer’s Block? 8 Quick Ideas for Your Next Newsletter

For regular planned outreach, the tried-and-true newsletter remains an affordable and preferred way to deliver information, drive engagement and build relationships with customers, donors or employees.

Marketers across the board agree that producing good content and doing it consistently are ongoing challenges. When you sit down to write your printed or electronic newsletter, think in terms of articles and graphics that are educational rather than sales-driven with the goal of providing information that your readers would deem valuable. Here are a few idea-starters:

  1. Awards and recognition – For employee or donor recognition, putting faces to your news is a tangible demonstration of appreciation showing you value those who are important to your organizational mission.
  2. Case studies and success stories – Present the benefits of your products or services by letting your customers or those helped by your organization make the case for you.
  3. Behind-the-scenes and how-to articles – Do you have an unusual production process? Source materials in a far-off place? Have alternative uses for a standard product? Share your stories creatively to increase brand awareness and connect on a deeper level with buyers.
  4. Interviews – Customers, donors, company executives and employees have unique perspectives that are a natural fit for a Q & A format.
  5. New product or service launch – Give detailed information about complex products or services in a narrative that complements manuals or expands upon short-form advertising.
  6. Opinions and analysis – New regulations impacting your industry? Consider an opinion piece that delves deeper into potential implications that might affect your target audiences.
  7. Quizzes and contests – Quiz questions and trivia contests are light and fun for readers.
  8. Running late? Curate! – Subscribe to news feeds or digests, and save links to online content that you would feel good about sharing. Be sure to credit the original source of information that you pass along.

Let us know if you’re ready to get started with newsletters. We can help!


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Ready, Set, Print! Must-have Materials for Your Next Event

shutterstock_127914380Well before you host a special event or exhibit at a trade show, consider your printing needs and build a comprehensive list. You’ll not only save yourself hours of effort later, but also ensure that you’ve touched all the bases of a successful event marketer!

Banners, Posters & Other Signage: Outdoors, these might include flags and pennants. Indoors, you might opt for posters, roll-up banners and fabric graphics where your display is set up or to direct visitors to you.

Business Cards: Do you have enough? And for all the team? Also, consider if your card’s design and information is up-to-date. Remember, this is first-impression time!

Direct Mail: Reach out to all those on your internal database with an invitation or letter package. To increase attendance, work with your marketing services provider to identify those who fit your target profile, and have them recommend a rental list of names that match.

Handouts: Don’t let visitors leave empty handed. Distribute a flyer or trifold brochure summarizing your key selling points – and including contact information on how prospects can seek more information or make a purchase at a later date.

Postcards: They’re a cost-efficient way to distribute event reminders or save-the-date communications.

Programs: For a multi-day conference, create a program with session times, locations and topics.

Sales Brochures: Reserve high-quality sales brochures for those who express a genuine interest. To strengthen relationships with promising prospects, consider mailing the brochure to them or, even better, delivering it in person post-event.

What Else? You might also need place cards, contest or drawing entry forms, event or raffle tickets and name tags. Giveaways that are imprinted with your company name and logo are also a great way your company or organization can stay top of mind once everyone heads home.

Contact us for assistance with printed materials including promotional items for your next special event.

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Social Media for Nonprofits: 5 Tips to Get Started

shutterstock_social mediaFacebook, Twitter and other social media sites hold many advantages for marketing your nonprofit. On the pages you’ll post and maintain, you can communicate with donors regularly. You’ll grow your membership by urging followers to “share” your content with their like-minded friends. And, beyond the time you’ll put in to establish your presence and create new content, your participation is free.

Here are some tips on beginning your efforts, if you’re new to the game:

  1. Start small, with one or two social networks. Begin by evaluating the efforts of others you admire. Then resist the pressure to post your pages everywhere; there’s no need to conquer the entire virtual world all at once.
  2. Tap into the talent at hand. If you’re not up to speed on social media, draw on the expertise of a staff member, intern or volunteer to assist in your initial efforts.
  3. Make a good first impression. Upload a great photo and other interesting content to your social media page or pages, and use a title that will get noticed.
  4. “Jump start” your efforts. Send your current members an email inviting them to become your friend, join your group, or like your social media page. Follow up by incorporating links to your social media in all of your communications such as e-newsletters and your website.
  5. “Activate” your audience. Sooner or later, you’ll want to turn your followers into donors, members or volunteers. So give them every opportunity to do so – beginning by incorporating contribution or membership sign-up opportunities in your social pages.

Need help with social media or other aspects of marketing your nonprofit? We’ll provide the assistance you need.


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