Category Archives: Marketing

Finding Hidden Data to Understand Your Audience Better

When we consider personalized print marketing, we consider the name, address, gender, household income, and other simple variables. But is that enough to create highly targeted, relevant campaigns? There are times when you want a richer data set. Before purchasing third-party data, however, take a deeper look in-house. You may have more data than you think.

Let’s look at some of the often underutilized data types.

Transactional data: This data typically includes purchase orders, sales receipts, invoices, payment records, and other financial transactions. Analyzing transactional data can help identify trends, popular products or services, customer buying behavior, and potential upselling opportunities.

Submissions through web contact forms: Web contact forms collect valuable information from customers and website visitors. This data includes inquiries, feedback, support requests, and other messages that provide insights into customer needs, pain points, and preferences.

Business reply cards: Business reply cards (BRCs) are often used in direct mail marketing campaigns, allowing customers to respond to offers, request information, and provide feedback. Analyzing the responses from BRCs can provide insights into the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and the interests of specific customer segments.

Text messaging: Companies that engage in text marketing might need to realize the wealth of data they have. This data includes phone numbers, response rates, and communication preferences. Analyzing text marketing data can help companies optimize their messaging, timing, and targeting for better engagement and conversions.

Responses to email campaigns: Email campaigns contain a wealth of information, such as opens and click-through rates. Analyzing these metrics can help you understand customer engagement levels and interests. Once incorporated back into your marketing database, this information can be used to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing and overall marketing.

Trade shows/events: When companies participate in trade shows or events, they gather a wealth of helpful data. This includes leads generated, customer interactions, survey responses, and attendee feedback. This can help you assess the success of their participation, identify potential clients, and tailor future event strategies.

Customer and Prospect Surveys: Conducting surveys can be a powerful way to gather feedback and insights from customers and prospects. Surveys provide direct information on customer satisfaction, preferences, pain points, and suggestions for improvement.

In conclusion, these data types might sometimes be overlooked but hold valuable insights. Do you have marketing gold right under your feet? Get out your digging tools and find out!

The Power of Gratitude: Saying “Thank You” to Your Donors

As a nonprofit, you know that donors are the lifeblood of your mission. That’s why saying “thank you” is not just courteous. It is vital. It strengthens relationships, encourages future giving, and helps you and your mission thrive. Let’s look at five ways to say “thank you” to your donors, not just during special events but at all times of the year.  

1. Give donors the credit. Give donors credit for the excellent work you are doing. Instead of saying, “Your gift will help our organizationfeed hungry children,” for example, say, “Your gift will feed hungry children.” This subtle shift may be the most powerful thing you can do in your “thank you” letters.  

2. Tell stories. When you share the impact of donors’ gifts through the eyes of changed lives, this speaks more loudly than a mere “thank you” alone. Tell mission-impact stories using an informal, friendly tone and incorporate powerful storytelling images. Keep it short. Hit the highlights so even busy donors see their impact loud and clear.  

3. Show them that they have made a wise investment. Share specifically how the gifts will be used: “Your gift will go directly to…” When possible, include a personal message from someone who directly benefited from the gift.  

4. Be accurate in the details. Ensure the donor’s name is correct—and there are no spelling or grammatical errors. When possible, have someone higher up in the organization, such as the executive director or director of development, sign the letter. (Remember that you are just saying, “Thank you.” Don’t use this as an opportunity to ask for another gift.)  

5. Open the door to a more extensive engagement process. Although you are thanking donors, you are nurturing them, too. So keep it up! Send them ongoing impact reports and personal letters written by those benefitting from your work. Invite them to donor celebrations like cookouts or tours.  

Sending a great thank you letter is the first and most crucial step of the donor engagement process. It increases donor retention and creates a sustainable base of highly engaged supporters who renew their gifts year after year and feel so connected to your mission that they are likely to share it with others.

Want to Boost Your Fundraising Success? Send Donor Surveys

More than any other factor, a donor’s relationship with the organization determines their likelihood of donating. Print and emailed surveys can go a long way toward achieving this goal. What are the keys to sending effective donor surveys?

1. Clarify your goals and objectives. What specific information do you want to gather? Are you looking to understand donor motivations, preferred communication channels, or demographic information? Clearly defining your objectives will guide the design of the survey.

2. Keep it concise. Respect your donors’ time and ensure the survey is brief and focused. Long, complex surveys may discourage participation. Stick to the most essential questions that align with your objectives.

3. Mix question types. Use a mix of question types to gather different kinds of information. Include multiple-choice questions, rating scales, and open-ended questions. This variety helps to provide a well-rounded understanding of donor opinions and preferences.

4. Segment and personalize. Include the donor’s name, reference previous interactions, and acknowledge their contributions. If your donor base is diverse, segment the survey based on different donor personas or giving levels. This helps each donor to feel valued and allows you to gather more targeted insights.

5. Offer non-monetary incentives. Encourage survey participation by offering non-monetary incentives that align with your mission and appeal to donors’ interests. For example, provide exclusive content, previews of new projects, or links to activity behind the scenes.

6. Test before sending. Before launching the survey widely, conduct a pilot test with a small group of donors or staff members. This allows you to identify any issues or areas for improvement before rolling it out to a larger audience.

7. Respect privacy. Assure donors that their responses will be kept confidential. Communicate how the data will be used and reassure donors that their feedback will be used only to improve the organization’s impact.

8. Follow up and say “thank you.” After the survey, express gratitude for their participation. Share key findings or insights from the survey, demonstrating that their input has been valuable. This helps foster a sense of involvement and strengthens the donor-organization relationship.

Ready to send a survey to learn more about your donors? Let’s get started!

5 Takeaways from the 2023 ‘Ad Impressions Study’­

Every year, the Advertising Specialties Institute’s “Ad Impressions Study” provides a fascinating look into the power and effectiveness of branded promotional products. The study is always a must-read, from how many impressions a product receives to which ones are kept the longest. What are some of the highlights from the 2023 study?

  1. Consumers love branded swag. First and most importantly, consumers prefer branded promotional products over all other forms of advertising. Whether men or women, young or old, or whether they live in the Midwest, the South, or one of the coasts, consumers universally prefer branded promotional products over radio, newspaper, magazine, mobile, television, and Internet advertising.
  2. Made in the USA wins again. More than half of men (52%) and half of women (56%) say they would feel more favorably toward an advertiser who gave them swag made in the USA. Of the different age groups, the older the consumer, the more preference they gave to such products.
  3. Consumers want branded products that are environmentally friendly. Nearly half (46%) of consumers say they would feel more favorably toward an advertiser that gave them an environmentally friendly product. This rises to 49% of women. Of the different age groups? Those 55-65 and 65+ were most likely to say they would feel more favorably toward such advertisers — 49% for both groups. This is somewhat of a surprise since we associate the most significant environmental concern with younger buyers. Yet among those aged 25-34, only 39% gave this answer!
  4. Drinkware has the most staying power. Which branded promotional product are consumers likely to keep and use the longest? Drinkware! Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consumers would keep and use promotional drinkware for one year or longer. Promotional calendars and polo shirts came in second, with 62% saying they would keep and use them for one year or longer.
  5. Outerwear is the top show-off. Which promotional products get the most impressions? Outerwear/fleeces, with 7,856 impressions. This is followed by headwear at 3,380 impressions.

Want to learn more about the value of promotional products and which products to choose for your target audience? Give us a call, and let’s talk about it!

5 Ways Color Benefits Your Marketing

When it comes to using color, many people tend to think exclusively in terms of images. However, marketers increasingly recognize the value of color in text and other messaging areas. For instance, color can highlight phone numbers, payment information, discounts, and critical points in marketing materials that make them more impactful and actionable. Let’s look at five practical ways to add color to your text and messaging areas to improve your marketing.

1. Improved Recall

Studies have consistently shown that using color in messaging and images can significantly increase recall. One study found that people are 40% more likely to read and select materials that are presented in color. Another found that using color increases recall rates by up to 80%. Use color in your sales letters to highlight important details you don’t want readers to miss.

2. Greater comprehension

Using colored text and backgrounds can increase readers’ understanding and retention of information. Add colorful images, graphics, and charts to your next sales presentation.

3. Ease of Locating Key Information

Using color can help readers locate information more easily. This is particularly useful in lengthy documents like insurance policies and contracts.

4. Reduces Errors

Highlighting important information, such as instructions or account details, reduces errors and helps readers get things right the first time.

5. Reduces payment time

Because using color helps readers better understand their statements and invoices, this can lead to faster payments and better cash flow for you. Try highlighting the amount owed and the due date with color, and watch your invoices get paid faster!

Ultimately, color is a critical aspect of marketing materials that are beautiful and highly practical. But don’t just throw color around anywhere. It should be utilized strategically to maximize its effectiveness. If you’re unsure where to start, ask for suggestions on incorporating color into your direct mail efforts.

Customers: “Give Me a (Digital) Break! Use Print!”

Communicating with customers using formats they love makes them more likely to pay attention. When it comes to marketing materials, that means sending more print.

Over the years, there have been dozens of studies on the impact of print on human comprehension and learning. Information read in print is embedded more deeply in the brain, is more easily recalled, and is recalled more accurately. But buyers don’t love print simply because they remember things better. They love it because it makes them feel good.

For example:

  • Consumers find hard-copy versions of books, magazines, and newspapers more enjoyable than electronic alternatives.
  • Consumers see print as more relaxing to read than computer screens, e-readers, and (yes, even) smartphones.
  • Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of (and concerned about) the health effects of spending too much time on electronic devices. 

Health concerns about the over-use of digital media are growing, and that concern is increasing the “feel good” factor of traditional printed materials, whether books, magazines, or direct mail.

One study from Two Sides/Toluna found that, even several years ago, consumers were already starting to show signs of concern. The study found that consumers…

  • believed they spend too much time on electronic devices,
  • were concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, and
  • believed in the importance of “switching off” and reading more in print.

These feelings have only been amplified since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the time children spend staring at their screens up 52%. As the number of news reports on the impact of over-digitalization on our culture rises, more and more consumers ask themselves, “Am I spending too much time on my screen, too?”

The takeaway? If you love your customers, then love what they love. Digital communications have their place in the multichannel mix, but when it comes to “feeling the love,” it’s still very much about print.

Marketing Giving Lemons? Make Lemonade!

According to a recent survey, 73% of marketers see difficult or uncertain economic times as an opportunity to grow their businesses.[1] Why? During times of uncertainty, competitors pull back on their marketing. This creates a vacuum that you can exploit. When competitors show weakness, you show strength. When competitors are silent, get in their customers’ ears! This can have huge payoffs in the immediate term and down the road.

Here are three ways to invest in your print, digital, and cross-media marketing right now.

1. Think “growth.” The easiest time to build your market share is when your competitors pull back. Think of it as like buying stocks in a down market. You buy down-market stocks cheaply, and their value grows exponentially when the market bounces back. That’s true of market share, too. Don’t just think about selling more products. Think about going after new customers. Where are your competitors weak? Where are they missing the mark? Create a plan to go after the customers your competitors are ignoring.

2. Invest in your “growth engine.” Highly effective marketing is data-driven marketing, so invest in what will give you the biggest bang for your buck: your database. Dig in and get to know your customers—really get to know them. Who buys most frequently? Who buys the most at once? Who buys the most over time? What are the common characteristics of each group? Use this information to refine and better target your messaging. Like market share, this research will pay off both now and in the long term.

3. Market from a position of positivity. When things are uncertain, positive messaging (“we are here to help”) will often have longer-term benefits than the messaging of fear. If you are a fashion retailer, offer ways to put together new looks with items your customers already have. If you’re a coffee shop, suggest easy-to-make cookies or breakfast bakes that pair perfectly with your gourmet coffee blends. Be a thought leader, a partner, and a trusted vendor who isn’t just looking to make a sale but who has their best interest in mind.

Down markets can be challenging, but they don’t last forever. Use this time to invest in your business and your customers for the long haul. You will be better positioned when the market rebounds, with a higher market share and even more loyal customers.

[1] “The Optichannel Opportunity” (RRD, 2023)

What Does an Award-Winning Campaign Look Like?

What does an award-winning marketing campaign look like? Sometimes it’s stunning imagery. Other times, it’s the application of a specific technique. Most often, however, it’s not one thing or the other. It’s how the company understands its audience and creates innovative, captivating content that is specific to that audience in a truly memorable way. Let’s look at four components of such campaigns.

1. An innovative strategy that breaks away from the traditional marketing approach. Award-winning campaigns use the “same old, same old” techniques to engage viewers in surprising ways. Think unusual folds, die-cuts, and dimensional inks and coatings. One award winner used a vertical gatefold tipped onto the cover of a magazine to catch attention. Imagine using personalized teasers in your marketing to get recipients to open a tip-on, then exposing them to a customized message underneath!

2. Captivating content that engages readers and leaves a lasting impression. Award-winning campaigns leave you thinking about them long after exposing you to the initial message.  It’s a headline you can’t stop thinking about or an image you can’t get out of your mind. For example, one award-winning book cover, Lyrics for Rock Stars, features a picture of a guitar spread out like a highway leading toward a city skyline. It tells a powerful story without a single word.

3. Knowing your audience. Award-winning marketers know their audiences. Award winners know precisely who their audiences are and how they behave—and why. An image that captivates and enthralls one audience may not captivate another. A combination of marketing channels that breaks through for one demographic may be ignored by another. Truly and profoundly knowing your audience requires more than demographics. It requires behavioral and psychographic data, as well.

4. Tracking and measuring goals and results. Award winners carefully track and monitor their results. That’s how they know what works! When you see what works, you can build on what’s effective and ditch what isn’t. This gives you the freedom to innovate and maximize your profits . . . and maybe even win an award or two along the way.

Need help designing a marketing campaign worthy of attention that gets results? Let us help!

Pantone Color Libraries Will No Longer Be Included in Adobe Apps: Now What?

If you’re a designer, chances are you’re familiar with the Pantone Color Libraries. These libraries have been included as part of Adobe applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for years. But now, Pantone and Adobe have agreed to part ways, and Adobe is removing many of the standardized pre-loaded color libraries from its Creative Cloud apps. What does this mean for designers?

First, it’s essential to understand that this is not necessarily bad. The Pantone colors included with Adobe Creative Cloud haven’t been updated since 2019. Pantone points designers to options that use the most recent and updated colors by removing the old libraries. Second, removing the Pantone Color Libraries doesn’t mean you can no longer use your favorite Pantone colors. It means you’ll have to put in a bit more effort to do so.

Ultimately, designers have three primary options:

1. Pay for the Pantone Color Connect extension.

Pantone color libraries will still be accessible through Pantone’s Color Connect extension. There is both a free and a paid version. If you want all of the Pantone color libraries accessible from within your applications, you can use the paid version for $7.99 per month. This gives you access to the Pantone colors, both now and in the future.

2. Create your libraries based on screen grabs.

The second option is to create your own custom libraries using a workaround. Open the free version of Pantone Color Connect. Choose your desired color, take a screen grab, then paste it onto your clipboard. Create a new swatch and save it as a spot color. Rename it with the Pantone color.

These swatches will be approximations. Since every screen shows the color a little differently, the swatches will be based on the colors showing on your screen. In your printed project, however, the color will be the official Pantone color since the printer will match it based on the Pantone book.

This does not violate Pantone’s license as long as the color in your swatch book is not represented to others as the actual Pantone color.

If you want all the colors in your favorite Pantone libraries, not just some of them, you can select the entire library (by holding the shift key) and choose “add to swatches.” This might slow your computer down slightly because of the volume, but it adds the entire library to your swatch panel. Then you can save that swatch library as “ASE” and add it to your Adobe swatches folder on your computer.

3. Use Pantone’s free “approximation” version.

The third option is to use Pantone’s free version of Connect, which lets users download color swatches based on Pantone’s sRGB approximations.

Ultimately, removing the Pantone Color Libraries from Adobe Creative Cloud apps sounds scarier than it is. Designers will have to do a little more legwork, but with the extra effort, you can still access and use your favorite Pantone colors just fine.

The Power of Simple Graphic Design

In marketing, a well-designed logo or website can differentiate between a successful campaign and one that falls flat. But what makes for good design? Often, it’s simplicity. The most straightforward designs can be the most effective. Here’s a look at how simplicity can generate trust and credibility.

The Role of Color

Color is one of the most critical elements of any design, and it can be used to great effect in simple designs. When choosing colors, it’s essential to remember both the psychological effects of color and the brand identity you’re trying to create. For example, blue is often used in designs intended to convey trustworthiness and reliability, while green is associated with growth and harmony. By carefully selecting your colors, you can create a subliminal message that resonates with your audience.

Less Is More

In general, simpler designs are more effective than complex ones. This is because they’re easier for viewers to understand at a glance. When someone sees a busy or cluttered design, their first instinct is often to look away. On the other hand, a clean and simple design is more likely to hold their attention. Simplicity also conveys confidence. A complex design can make it seem like you’re trying too hard to impress viewers. At the same time, a simple one signifies that you’re confident communicating your message without needing bells and whistles.

Repetition Works Wonders

Another way to create a simple yet effective design is to use repetition. This could mean repeating some aspects throughout the piece or reinforcing points made in the text using visuals. Repetition helps create visual stability, which in turn, makes your design more credible. Additionally, by repeating elements such as color or shape, you can create an instant sense of cohesiveness, something that viewers will subconsciously respond positively to.

When it comes to graphic design, simplicity should be your watchword. From choosing the right colors to removing clutter to tapping into the power of repetition, there are many ways to create a design that says “trustworthy” and “credible” and resonates with your audience. Keep these tips in mind the next time you sit down to brainstorm the design of your postcard, brochure, or web page!