Earth Friendly Printing

How To Practice Earth-Friendly Printing?

5 tips for sustainable print that go beyond recycled paper


We all want to be friendly to the earth, but what is the best strategy for doing so? Often, our first thought is to use recycled paper, and this is an important step. Yet there are other ways to make earth-friendly decisions when designing and ordering print materials. Let’s look at five simple ways beyond recycled paper to make your print more sustainable


1. Spec paper with virgin fiber.


While this might seem counterintuitive, virgin fiber is an important aspect of the sustainable print lifecycle. Sixty percent of forests in the United States are privately owned. Demand for pulp-based products keeps our forests a viable source of income for forest owners, making them a valuable asset. If private forests don’t provide revenue, they risk being sold for other revenue-generating opportunities.


Virgin fiber is also a vital component of the recycling stream. Paper fibers can only be recycled five to seven times before they are no longer usable. To maintain a strong, high-quality pool of recycled paper, virgin fiber must be flowing into the system.


2. Look for environmental certifications.


When purchasing any type of paper, whether with virgin fiber, recycled fiber, or both, look for paper that has been certified by environmental organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). While each certification is slightly different, all signify that the paper you purchase is coming from sustainably managed forests and is harvested in ethical and ecologically sound ways.


3. Ask for environmentally friendly inks and coatings.


While solvent-based inks and coatings have many benefits, including extremely high scuff-resistance, their use in the print production process emits toxic fumes, and the resulting products cannot be recycled. Water-based inks and coatings, on the other hand, have high performance qualities and do not emit toxic VOCs. Many coatings allow the paper to be repulped and recycled, as well.


4. Avoid lamination.


If you’re specing packaging, try to avoid designs that require lamination. Once plastic film is laminated to paper, that paper becomes much more difficult for mills to depulp and reuse.


5. Clean and de-dupe your mailing list.


Nothing says “waste” like undeliverable mail. For the lowest environmental footprint, keep your mailing list accurate, up to date, and free of duplicates.


Any one of these steps will improve the sustainability of your print projects. Do all five and you’re a sustainability hero!


5 Fun Stats to Inform Your Fundraising

5 Fun Stats to Inform Your Fundraising


As a nonprofit, you know the importance of personalized direct mail. Most likely, you are already personalizing your mailers by the donor’s name, giving history, and often household income. But are there other data points that could help? Here are some exciting statistics that, while they may not all apply to your organization, illustrate how important it is to know as much as possible about your donors. You never know what data might be vital to increasing their support.


Should you be targeting Millennials?


Not necessarily. Millennials (those born 1981–1995) are more socially-minded than older generations, but does this mean they are a fundraising gold mine? Actually, no. According to Blackbaud, Millennials aren’t significant givers. On average, they give $481 per year, compared to $732 for Generation X and $1,212 for Boomers.


Mac users are more generous.


On average, Mac users give $182 per donation, while PC users give $137. This reminds us that correlations related to giving can be found in the most unexpected places, so dig deep!


Add video.


According to Olgive, 57% of people who watch a nonprofit video will ultimately donate. Use print-to-mobile tools like QR Codes and augmented reality to enable donors to feel more personally connected to your cause.


Be mobile-friendly.


According to Nonprofits Source, 51% of people visit nonprofit websites on mobile devices. Even if you send your appeals through the mail, make sure your website is optimized to look fantastic regardless of what device people use to access it.


Don’t overlook lower-income households.


If you think the more money someone has, the more likely they will reach into their pockets, you’d be wrong. In one survey, households making $25,000 per year gave an average of 12.8% of their annual income to charity. This is the highest percentage (and nearly double that) of any other income demographic.


All of this points to the need for more and better data. Every nonprofit’s donor base will look and act differently, so before mailing out that appeal, invest the time to understand yours.


“Do You Really Know Me?” From: Your Customer

To create genuinely personal communications, you need to know your customers. This requires more than knowing basics like name, address, and gender. It requires knowing more about who your customers are.


Let’s take an example from the world of sports. For example, when we think of hockey fans, we might think of demographics such as age, gender, and region of the country in which a fan lives. But did you know that National Hockey League (NHL) fans are the most affluent sports fans in the country? (Out of all major league sports, the NHL has the highest percentage of fans earning more than $100,000 per year.) Or that half of Major League Baseball fans are retirees? Or that 40% of NASCAR fans are women?


The starting point for any targeted or personalized campaign is knowing the make-up of your audience. If you don’t have this information, make it one of your goals to find out. Send a direct mail or email survey or conduct a focus group. Add survey forms on your website or purchase additional data to fill in the gaps.


Don’t stop there. Ask yourself what else you might not know about your target audience that would be helpful. When the NHL started personalizing its fan communications, for example, it asked them to fill out a survey that indicated where they lived and their favorite hockey team. The NHL discovered that 40% of its fan base lives outside their favorite team’s home market. Imagine the marketing opportunities for the league!


Know your customers from the inside, too.


Consider investing in fundamental database analysis. Identify your top 10% of customers by frequency, volume, and revenue.
What do those customers “look” like? Create a set of customer profiles.

What does each profile have in common (age, income, marital status, purchase habits)? In a B2B environment, you might look at the vertical market, employee size, and annual revenues.

Get to know your bottom 10%, too. What do they look like? Are they customers you can woo back?

There is an infinite number of questions you can ask, but they all start with knowing who your customers are in the first place.

Lessons Learned from Real-Life Split Testing

If you want to know what’s working, test it. Is this recipe better than that one? Is this pair of shoes more comfortable than those? Marketing is no different. By taking a portion of your list and testing one element at a time, you can find out what works best. Even if you’ve done testing in the past, things change. It’s essential to keep testing to make sure you know what is working now.


Unbounce, a service that allows marketers to build, publish, and test landing pages, has described the impact of testing on three different companies and the lessons learned from each. Let’s take a brief look at each one.


Test #1: Great ads can get better. SafeSoft Solutions had a slick, professional ad that was doing well. The headline promoted productivity and efficiency. It used attention-grabbing, easy-to-read bullet points to outline the benefits of its services. But the ad did not contain pricing information. SafeSoft decided to test the addition of a green starburst with its pricing inside. The result? A 100% increase in conversions.


Test #2: Not all trial offers are created equal. For some companies, a seven-day offer might be perfect. For others, customers might need a more extended test-out period. When HubSpot split tested its trial offer, it found that prospects required more time to make a decision. By testing a 30-day trial over a seven-day trial, it was found that it could boost conversions by 110%.


Test #3: Location matters. Does the placement of the CTA make a difference? Inbound Strategy wanted to find out. It tweaked its site’s landing page, added more information, and played with the location of the CTA. The results? When the CTA was moved from the right-hand side of the page to the left, there was a 217% increase in conversions compared to the control.


These examples have lessons for us, as well. Whether you are working with print, email, landing pages, or any other channel, you’re missing opportunities if you’re not doing split testing regularly. What insights and higher conversion rates might you be missing?


Be Authentic and Connect with Customers

Increasingly, marketers understand the power of emotions. Product features and benefits are essential, but someone’s need, fear, or desire often motivates the actual purchase. Just look at some of the most iconic brands on the market. Johnson & Johnson doesn’t sell Band-Aids based on their adhesive properties. It shows a crying child being soothed by a loving parent. Nike doesn’t sell shoes based on the resilience of its soles. It shows athletes overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness.


Here are three ways you can tap into emotion in your marketing.


1. Think “simple” or “complex.”


Simple sales are those for which people can make quick, easy decisions based on numbers: This product is 10% cheaper than that one. That product offers 25% more longevity than the one I have. However, with complex decisions like financial, insurance, and medical products, emotion plays a much more significant role.


What makes me feel safe? How can I best protect my family long-term? When writing your product copy, think about which category your products fall into.


2. Be authentic.


Nobody likes a phony. That includes customers. Honesty makes consumers feel connected and creates trust and respect for the brand. Consider Allstate Insurance. In its 30-second slice-of-life commercials, homeowners fall prey to their humanness by opening car doors into oncoming traffic or crashing into parking lot barriers because they’re looking at their children’s birthday balloons in the rearview mirror. We’ve all done it. It feels natural and familiar. Be honest, and make your brand something people can relate to.


3. Think beyond the sale.


Show an interest in your customers and prospects beyond the sale. Drop them tips and tricks that help them with everyday problems. Create emotional engagement that transcends the immediate need. Stanley Steemer does this well. It sends a high number of direct mail pieces and emails every year. While some of these pieces are designed to sell, cross-sell, and upsell, the majority are tips for various household cleaning projects. This is information people can use whether they end up purchasing Stanley Steemer services or not.


Emotion and brand connection sell. Maybe not right away, but over time. So be honest, be relatable, and invest in your customers long-term. It takes more effort, but it pays off in the long run.

Paper Companies

Paper Companies Invest in Doing Good

There’s more to loving paper than what it does for your marketing. Did you know that many paper companies are regularly involved in sustainability and community initiatives that make a difference in the world around us?


Here are five examples of the types of initiatives paper companies are involved in every day.


1. International Paper, The Navigator Company, and Stora Enso support Forests Forward. These forward-thinking paper companies, along with other industry giants such as IKEA and Lowe’s, are working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on an initiative called Forests Forward, whose mission is to deliver “science-driven strategies to benefit nature, the climate, and people.” Among Forest Forward’s goals are to stop deforestation and forest degradation and protect biodiversity while promoting sustainable livelihoods.


2. Domtar supports biodiversity. Domtar Paper is partnering with the American Forest Foundation (AFF) to support biodiversity conservation. AFF initiatives are designed to help protect at-risk or endangered wildlife, especially in the Southeastern United States. AFF’s biodiversity conservation program began with a pilot project in Alabama that focused on managing the longleaf pine, home to more than 800 plant and animal species.


3. Neenah Paper provides supplies to the homeless. Neenah is making a difference for the homeless in Fox Valley, GA. The papermaker recently donated 80 cases of toilet paper and paper towels to area crisis facilities.


4. WestRock donates land for environmental protection. WestRock has donated 64 acres of land to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC). This beautiful stretch of land situated just west of the Hudson River in the town of Bethlehem, NY, is described as “a rarity,” considering the development that has rapidly claimed many of the river valley’s natural spaces. WestRock’s generous donation will ensure that this tract of land will be protected for generations to come.


5. International Paper supports a local elementary school. When Richland Upper Elementary School (Richland, MS) struggled to ensure that all of its students had enough school supplies, International Paper’s Jackson, MS box plant stepped in to ensure that they had everything from paper to pencils. Not only did the students benefit, but so did the teachers, who otherwise would have had to buy those supplies with money from their own pockets.


Just a few more reasons to love paper! Need help? Talk to us about our services ☎713.956.8555


Do Self-Mailers Have Benefits Over Direct Mail Envelopes? You Bet!

Do Self-Mailers Have Benefits Over Direct Mail Envelopes? You Bet!

For many businesses, direct mail letters are their “go-to.” They are inexpensive to produce, can include BREs and other inserts, and depending on the design, can seem more personal than self-mailers. Still, the popularity of self mailers is growing. They, too, are inexpensive and have many benefits.

Self-mailers are created when a single piece of paper is folded to create a self-contained mailing format. Depending on the size of the sheet, self-mailers can be folded into two or more panels. They can be sealed using glue lines, wafer seals, or glue spots along the edge. SEO tools

Let’s take a look at some of their benefits:

  • Because they require no envelope, self-mailers have no envelope or inserting costs. This makes them a great option for tight budgets.
  • When unfolded, self-mailers provide lots of real estate for graphics and messaging.
  • Even on digital presses, self mailers can be printed on a wide variety of substrates, including heavier substrates.
  • While we tend to think of self-mailers as simple, folded formats, their substrate flexibility allows them to include pockets and interior panels into which you can insert gift cards, reply cards, or small samples.
  • Because self-mailers can be digitally printed, they can be fully personalized like any other mailer.

Self-mailers are readily identifiable as marketing mail, so they can have lower response rates. For this reason, some businesses use them for mailing to people with whom they already have a relationship—loyal customers who will open them simply because of their relationship with the brand. Others use them for campaigns in which people want promotional mail. Examples include promotions around clearance sales, new store openings with discounts, and free samples. We see them heavily used around college recruiting, as well.

In the end, choosing the correct format depends on your target audience and the goals of the campaign. Testing will be critical in helping you identify when and where each format will work best for you.

Business Marketing

In 2021, Business Are Marketing Smarter, Not Harder

In 2021, Business Are Marketing Smarter, Not Harder

With the U.S. economy starting to re-open following the height of the coronavirus pandemic, what does this mean for marketing? Are companies continuing to hunker down? Or are they getting back to business? This is important to know both as a benchmark and for competitive insight. If your competitors are back to marketing full steam, you don’t want to give them an edge because you’re still sitting on the sidelines.


A strategic brief from the CMO Council, “Getting It Done in 2021,” gives us some critical insight. The survey found that, despite a challenging year in 2020, nearly two-thirds of CMOs plan to increase their marketing spend this year.


But they aren’t just throwing their budgets any old which way. They are being strategic.


According to the CMO Council, marketers are focusing their budgets on the following areas:


• Customer journey, acquisition, and conversion (50%)
• Planning around digital growth strategies (36%)
• Campaign execution and measurement (35%)
• Demand generation and pipeline (32%)
• Taking action on customer data insights (26%)


In other words, they are marketing smarter, not harder.


Want to stay competitive? Do the same. Focus your efforts on understanding your customers. What priorities, needs, and fears are driving their purchase decisions? How do they make those decisions and what types of content (and which channels) do they use along the way? Spending money on your marketing database may not seem as important as getting those direct mail pieces and emails out there, but it just might be the most important investment you make this year.


Need help? Talk to us about our services ☎ 713.956.8555

Customer Retention

Customer Retention Ideas That Don’t Involve Price

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have faced challenges due to the growing instability in brand relationships. Especially during the early days of the pandemic, buyers often switched brands due to changes in availability, logistics, and their own economic situations. This quickly challenged businesses’ assumptions about their customers’ loyalty and spotlighted their customer retention efforts.


While “Customer Retention” often brings to mind discounts and deals, this doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, you want to retain your customers based on more than price alone.


Here are five suggestions for keeping customers engaged that don’t involve the cost.


1. Be mission-minded. Increasingly, consumers, especially younger ones like GenX and Millennials, want to be good global citizens. Feature content about where and how your company invests in things they care about, such as community service, social justice, and environmental initiatives.


2. Offer an exclusive. Sure, customers love discounts, but they love having exclusive access, too. Engage customers in new product development. Give them virtual tours of how you make your products. Give top customers exclusive gifts that make them feel valued and special.


3. Go the extra mile. Have you ever received a card in the mail that you didn’t expect? A special gift “just because”? It makes you feel good and want to continue to engage with the company or person who sent it to you. Do the same for your customers! Create a special mailing (maybe with one of those awesome three-dimensional pop-up cards) with the message: “We just wanted to say thank you for being a great customer. Visit us within the next 10 days and get a free gift—just because.”


4. Teach them something. Come up with a newsletter, webinar, or mobile video teaching customers how to do something related to your company or brand. For example, if you sell crafting supplies, send them a personalized invitation to an in-store crafting class. If you make kitchen gadgets, offer an online tutorial on preparing gourmet meals… using your products, of course.


5. Ask their opinion. Everyone loves to be heard. So ask your customers’ opinions! Send a high-quality direct mail piece with a reply card, an email link, or a personalized URL. Ask their opinion on everything from their favorite products to your in-store displays to how they are treated by your customer service reps. Follow up to let them know how you implemented what you learned. This feedback is meaningful and lets them know you are listening. When they feel you are listening, this translates into deeper customer loyalty and, ultimately, higher sales.


Want more ideas? Let’s talk!

Is Brand Awareness Worth the Investment?

We all want to sell more products and services, and for decades, brand awareness has been the subject of research and study. Is this a good investment of your marketing dollars? To what extent does brand awareness truly influence the final purchase decision? As it turns out, quite a lot.


Here are the results from one fascinating study:


  • In a blind study by the University of Newcastle and the University of South Australia, 85.5% of subjects chose the familiar brand in the first trial, even if they preferred a less familiar brand.


  • Even when testing brands during an initial trial, consumers were more likely to purchase the product from a familiar brand name, even if they preferred the taste (or, by extension, the look, smell, or function) of an unfamiliar brand.


  • Consumers were not only likely to choose the more familiar brand but were more likely to make the decision more quickly — 9.8 seconds faster.


What does this mean for you? Get to the consumer early. Stay in front of them and don’t quit! Repetition is critical. One statistic we regularly run across is that the average person remembers three to five brands per category. To get in there, you have to push someone else out and then stay there.


This is where consistent drips of brand messaging can pay off in a big way. Send a direct mailer and follow up with an email. Invest in retargeting with social media ads for visitors to your website. Create constant reminders of who you are and what your brand offers.


Creating brand awareness is not always about getting someone to buy right now. It’s about staying top of mind—and keeping your competitors out in the cold—so that when your target audience is ready to buy, they think of you.