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 NonprofitMarketingGuide.com. 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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Teach Before You Sell to Fill the Funnel

WebLong before they become active customers or donors, prospects are in the market for information. That’s a unique opportunity to earn their trust by using publicity (what an objective third party says about you) and content marketing (creating or curating and then distributing your own information), to teach instead of sell, priming the flow of future leads to your sales or donation funnel. Both can play a role in your promotional marketing mix.

Before you start, set clear goals to keep the messaging on track and help measure success. Then create a detailed audience profile to capture their interests and preferences, so you can define the information you’ll share and the ways and places you’ll share it.

1. Select your spokesperson. Small and mid-sized companies have multiple individuals with unique perspectives on the business and its customers. However, not all can translate their knowledge to the written word or be tapped to teach at live events.

2. Create quality content. The golden rule of content marketing: it’s not about what you can sell, it’s about what your audience wants to know. Business prospects are generally looking for ways to do their jobs more efficiently or cheaply.  Prospective donors might be asking, “How can I make a bigger difference or direct my giving more effectively?” For consumers, it’s often how to save time, increase convenience or balance their personal or family budgets.

3. Vary content format. Prospects may have different attention spans or reading preferences, so tailor messages accordingly. Long-form white papers demonstrate a firm grasp of subject matter to those who are ready to become deeply immersed. Deliver brief excerpts in Tweets, blog posts, forums or on social pages to capture the fleeting attention of busy readers.

4. Make it visual, too. Successful content cuts through clutter, so think beyond just words. Use videos, slide presentations, infographics and other rich media to attract interest and share your information in a visually entertaining way.

There are many ways to teach. Let us help!

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Enter the Mighty Pen . . . and More Killer Promo Items

Sales promotions typically take shape as contests, prizes and product samples that are used for a defined period to stimulate interest and purchase. Do you need an effective, affordable and flexible way to keep attention alive long after your promotion ends?

Enter the mighty pen . . . and thousands of other logoed items.

According to a recent global study of more than 7,000 consumers in 21 cities conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), a promotional product is kept by the recipient for an average of more than six months; some even longer, up to nine months.

This allows the advertiser who provided the item a unique opportunity to have their brand reinforced with the consumer on an ongoing basis in a strongly-engaged manner.

Far from campaign throwaways, promotional items are kept because they’re useful or given to someone else, meaning advertisers’ messages often go beyond the initial target.

Consumers can’t pass along a radio or television advertisement that doesn’t appeal to them. But they can, and do, with promotional products. Nearly two-thirds of consumers who receive promotional products they don’t want give them to someone else.

Advertiser recall among recipients is especially high, with more than 8 out of 10 indicating they remember the source of their promotional item. One of the key objectives to providing consumers promotional products is to make them more likely to buy from the advertiser.

To this end, more than one-third of consumers who received an item from a company they hadn’t previously done business with reported that they are more likely to do business with them in the future.

For selection, service and support, contact us to help you find the right spots for your company logo.

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Marketing That Pays Off? Consider Events

Event marketing is made to order for small to mid-sized businesses, nonprofits and other organizations with aggressive goals but limited sales resources. Participating in the right local, regional, national or international events allow you to present your sales story to many prospects in one place within a short period of time. Individual sales calling can’t match it for efficiency.

Experiences and events positively improve brand perception. According to Event Marketing Institute’s EventTrack 2014 report, 74% of participants have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted following an event.

Event marketing also adds a personal contact dimension to the less personal, technology-driven engagement that defines so much of the marketing and sales conversations today. It creates face-to-face opportunities to meet important prospects and the chance to reinforce your relationships with current customers.

Here are five quick tips for a show-stopping display:

1.  Location, location, location. Try to reserve prime real estate in a high-traffic location so your booth will be seen by as many prospects as possible.

2.  Plan your display graphics and messages to stop visitors in their tracks. Express your value proposition powerfully, and keep messaging clear and concise. Don’t make visitors guess what you are selling.

3. Use freestanding posters or roll-up banner stands to reinforce key messages and offers or to promote special demonstrations, educational sessions and other “events within the event.”

4.  Schedule presentations or demonstrations in your booth, and promote the times and dates. You’ll boost attendance and allow your experts to “wow” entire groups of visitors at one time.

 5. Stream live or recorded video footage of presentations or demonstrations to your event website and post to your YouTube channel. Email or use Twitter to alert non-attendees that they can experience your content remotely.

Need help with your event? We can help with displays, signage, handouts, apparel, giveaways and more.

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A Letter, a Phone Call and Pair of Well-worn Shoes

Long before the term “cross-media” found its way into common usage, successful salespeople and the companies that employed them relied on a three-pronged strategy to reach their prospective customers and to sell their products.

First, a letter was mailed to the prospect introducing the salesperson, the company and the product being offered. An appointment with the prospect was requested, and a return envelope was provided to allow a convenient way to respond.

A few days later, a follow-up phone call was placed to remind the prospect of the letter and the benefits of learning more about the product or service being offered. The sales call itself concluded the process where product or service features, advantages and benefits were spelled out. Hopefully, the final result was a sale and a new customer.

The effectiveness and timelessness of this approach is well-established and widely-used. If you think about it, the time-honored sales process has many similarities to the basics of direct marketing:

1. Focus. Just one message directed to one individual at a time.

2. Personalization/Relevance. The content of the message is relevant to the particular needs and wants of the receiver.

3. Media Integration. The particular strengths of each medium – the letter, the phone call, the sales presentation – are integrated and used to maximize effectiveness. When combined, the precision targeting, high readership and personalization of direct mail, the immediacy and connectivity of a phone call and the interactive nature of a personal sales meeting create the ideal opportunity to gain the attention, stimulate the interest, build the desire and motivate the buyer to action.

4. Interactivity. Enabling two-way communication between the salesperson and the customer makes it possible to better understand the customer’s needs and to reveal potential obstacles in the sales process. As a result, the sales presentation can be more specific and relevant, and obstacles can be uncovered and addressed.

Have a different take on direct marketing or the sales process? Let us know.

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