Are QR Codes Your Best Fundraising Tool?

Okay, QR Codes probably aren’t your best fundraising tool, but they certainly can be a critical part of the mix. Adding QR Codes to your fundraising letters, in-store displays, and other fundraising materials can increase your donations significantly. Why? QR Codes make donating easy and immediate. They take advantage of the spontaneous desire to give.

According to the Razoo Foundation, an IRS-recognized public charity that manages donations for other charities, scanning QR Codes is one of the most popular ways to donate money. Razoo recommends four ways for donors to “scan to give.”

1. QR Code links to PayPal. By using PayPal, donors don’t have to manually enter their credit card information. PayPal is simple, secure, and a known quantity. By posting QR Codes at the registers of its stores, for example, Cinnabon was able to raise $3,800 for Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger organization.

2) QR Code links to a merchant account. The donor scans a QR Code and enters his or her credit card information. Anyone with a credit card can make a donation immediately.

3) Text-to-Give. Donors scan a QR Code and charge the donation to their cellphone account. Most cellphone users are familiar with this method of payment and have a comfort level with it.

4) QR Code triggers a cash or in-kind donation. Instead of donating money, individuals can support the organization by scanning a QR Code on printed pieces or in-store displays. For each QR Code scanned, participating businesses will donate cash or product to the nonprofit. For example, Heinz ran a fundraising campaign in which diners were invited to scan bottles of Heinz ketchup. For each scan, Heinz donated $1 to the Wounded Warriors Project.

There are multiple ways to use QR Codes to tap into spontaneous generosity. Which one will work best for you? Give us a call and let us make it easy for people to support your cause.

Follow the (Typesetting) Rules

There are many details of print design that separate the professional from the amateur. Understanding the rules of type is one of them. While headings, graphics, and logos can push the boundaries, body copy should follow some basic rules. Let’s look at five of them.

1. Eliminate widows and orphans.

Widows and orphans are when small words or parts of words fall by themselves on their own line. These should be eliminated through editing or tracking.

2. Fix floating lines.

Every paragraph should have at least three lines. If a column or page break divides a paragraph so that only one or two lines fall on the next column or page, adjust the spacing.

3. Don’t stack words or hyphens.

Sometimes strange things happen in paragraphs. Hyphen will occasionally fall at the end of the line, and even more occasionally, this will happen on two lines in a row. The result is visually uncomfortable. (Designers often call this “pig bristles.”) A similar thing can occur when two identical words fall at the end of a line right above and below one another. When these anomalies happen, tweak the spacing to shift things around.

4. Fix rivers and loose lines.

Justified spacing works well in most cases, but occasionally, it creates giant gaps and awkward spaces in the middle of lines. “Rivers” are visual gaps that run down a paragraph of text as a result of these gaps. “Loose lines” are individual lines containing poorly spaced elements.

5. Pretty up the rags.

When you have left aligned text, the right-hand margin of the paragraph will have uneven line spacing that can either be visually attractive or highly unappealing. You want the rag pattern to be attractive to the eye, but not with giant differences between line lengths, sloping alignment of lines, or with rags that create diagonal shapes.

These typography no-nos can be fixed using simple tracking, light editing, or resizing of elements. When you take the extra time and effort, it can make the difference between a piece that looks professional and one that doesn’t.

Getting Tri-Fold Documents Right

Tri-fold brochures and other printed documents contain several traps for the unwary. Let’s look at how to avoid common folding pitfalls and create documents that look and fold perfectly.

1. Set up all folding documents (z-folds, gatefolds, c-folds and so on) as two pages the exact width and height of the unfolded document.

The most common size for a three-fold brochure is letter, so let’s use it for our example. Create a new letter-sized document with landscape orientation. On the pasteboard, put the text “front” next to the first page and “back” next to the second page.

2. Tri-fold the paper and mark the front.

On the front page, the front panel is on the right. The right and middle panels are the same width, while the left panel is shorter. Turn the brochure around and you will see that on the back page, the left and middle panels are the same width and the right one is shorter.

3. Make page guides to reflect the correct panels.

There are two ways to do this:

1) Have us make a folding dummy, then you can measure each side and set up your page guides based on the dummy. This will always work perfectly.

2) Make both of the wider panels 3.7” wide and the narrow one 3.6” wide. This works well in most cases.

If you use our rule of thumb, on the “front” page, the left panel would be 3.6” wide and the middle and right ones would each be 3.7” wide. On the “back” page, the left and middle panels would be 3.7” wide and the right panel would be 3.6” wide. Once you have set up the panels, give each one the same margin. This centers your text within each panel.

To make a tri-fold brochure or any folded document work properly, remember that the inside panel must be a little bit (between 1/16” and 1/32”) shorter than the ones around it.

Need help? Just ask!

Avoid the Pitfalls of Lifetime Customer Value

Over the last several years, much has been written about the benefits of measuring lifetime customer value (LCV). The theory is that if you can determine the revenue potential of all of your customers, you can direct your marketing resources to the accounts that have the highest potential yield and thereby maximize the ROI of your marketing dollars.

Understanding LCV can yield some great benefits. However, there are limitations to this practice that, if not avoided, can produce negative results.

Perhaps the biggest danger is over-investing in programs and initiatives that seek to capture profits only or primarily from the most active, highest spending customers. This ignores opportunities from customers with growth potential and from prospects and former customers who represent attractive profits if they can be cultivated into active customers.

It is said that companies will lose 50% of their customers in any given five-year span. Consequently, the need to focus your marketing efforts on new customer acquisition cannot be ignored. While using an LCV model will lead to an increase in profits from high-value customers, over-reliance on LCV can lead to a steady decrease in your pool of customers and overall profit if not balanced with customer acquisition.

It’s important to communicate with a wide variety of customers through all the various stages of the prospect/customer lifecycle. Having a range of marketing materials targeting different segments can significantly increase the ROI of your marketing efforts. With today’s database and print technologies, it’s never been easier.

Need ideas for creating the right target segments? Give us a call!


Do Your Finishing Options Take the Cake?

You wouldn’t bake a cake without finishing it off with icing, would you? Neither should you create a printed piece without considering how to finish it off with one of the many decorative and protective finishing options available.

At the most basic level are varnishes or coatings.

  • Traditional varnishes and coatings can be solvent or aqueous and are available in a variety of gloss levels.
  • Spot coating is available if you want to highlight a certain element, such as a particular image or bit of text.
  • UV coatings add greater levels of sheen and protection than traditional coatings.
  • Try using a spot matte coating over a high gloss piece for that unexpected effect.

More elaborate finishing techniques can make your printed piece even more eye-catching.

  • Embossing uses dies to create raised (or “relief”) areas that make images or text literally pop.
  • Foils and specialty inks can be added to embossed regions for an even greater special effect.
  • Debossing creates eye-catching effects by depressing portions of a printed piece.
  • Foil stamping applies metallic foils like gold or silver to the substrate, also going a long way toward highlighting text and images.

Regardless of the finishing technique used, it should be appropriate to—and work in concert with—the content or message of the piece itself. The style and substance should never work at cross-purposes.

Need ideas for the perfect finishing touch? Give us a call!

Is Print Personalization a Gimmick?

Print personalization — you hear about it everywhere. Use printed pieces to talk directly to recipients based on name, gender, past purchase history, or other information to achieve higher response rates and better return on investment (ROI). Is this really a smart marketing approach? Or is it just a gimmick to get you to buy more print?

Consider the way you are being marketed to. When you shop online, cookies follow your every move so that when you return to the page, the view is customized to your preferences. At the grocery store, your receipt is printed with coupons based on the items you just purchased. When you receive mail from your financial services provider, it contains information only on those funds in which you have invested.

Personalization has become so ingrained in our consumer experience that it’s just become our default expectation. If you aren’t incorporating 1:1 print into your print marketing, you are out of step with the overall trend in marketing.

What about cost? Today, every marketing cost is increasingly scrutinized. Although marketers tend to think of 1:1 printing as a high-cost luxury, when handled properly, the opposite is true.

  • 1:1 printing optimizes your marketing investment by not mailing irrelevant information to the wrong people. It makes every record count.
  • 1:1 printing provides provable ROI so you can compare its value against other marketing methods and justify your spending based on real numbers.
  • By generating higher response rates and per-order values from targeted customer segments, you can spend less and bring in more revenues.
  • More relevant communications (including newsletters, bills and other correspondence) help companies improve customer retention and reduce turnover. This has a direct impact on the bottom line.

From this perspective, 1:1 printing seems less like a luxury and more like a business necessity.

Why Paperless Is Not a Smart Move

All around us, we hear about the benefits of going paperless. When it comes to marketing, that may not be the best move. In a world of social media saturation and clogged inboxes, direct mail has more power than ever. In fact, a recent Brand Science Study showed a 62% lift for digital campaigns that include direct mail. Even 100% digital companies like Google and Uber are using direct mail to advertise their businesses.

Now is not the time to give up print. But savvy marketers are making their print contacts even more powerful. Let’s take a look at a few ideas.

1. Focus on recent customers. These customers already like your products and have a relationship with your brand. To get them to purchase again, you may just need to send a simple reminder, such as a postcard or sell sheet, to nudge them into action. If you’re looking to stretch your marketing dollars, focus on recent customers first.

2. Know your top customers. Pay particular attention to retaining customers with the highest profit margin. These may be customers who shop with you most frequently or who purchase the highest volume. If you are prospecting, develop a profile of these customers and target new customers just like them. If you don’t know who your top customers are, a proactive investment in data analysis can reap big returns.

3. Be relevant. Do you know where your customers’ pain points are? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Don’t assume that all buyer motivations are the same. Get to know your customers and engage in sincere dialogue about what they want and why. This will pay off in more relevant communications and better results.

Print marketing is evolving. Success is no longer based on trying to get a static “same to all” message in front of as many people as possible. It’s about marketing smart and marketing relevant and using the tangible, confidence-building channel of print to its maximum advantage.

Make Your Direct Mail Stand Out

Every day, postcards, flyers, and other direct pieces and other printed material bombard us. How do you ensure that yours stands out in the crowd? Here are four highly effective methods for designing printed material.

1. Grab Their Eyes: People can’t read your message if they don’t see it. The first thing you must do is grab their attention. There are two complimentary techniques for doing this:

  • Pick the perfect images. People are hard-wired to respond to images. Bright, vibrant, compelling imagery will hook your audience every time.
  • Tweak the design to appeal to your specific audience. For example, if the audience is young and hip, give them a more edgy typeface that angles off the page. If they are more upscale and sophisticated, let white space and elegance be your guide.

2. Change the Shape: Interesting shapes stand out and make people want to touch your design. Shape the piece to convey your message or intrigue your audience. Shapes that follow the contours of an image or that contain different angles make your piece more appealing.

3. Add Texture: Choose paper that includes a texture, add an emboss or deboss to your design, or try a contrasting spot varnish. If the piece is on glossy paper, use a matte finish or vice versa. These tricks add both texture and visual appeal.

4. Fold It: An innovative panel or a fold that goes in the “wrong” direction adds mystery and interest to your piece. Try adding slotted folding panels or multiple folds to increase the uniqueness of your design.

Ask Us

We have other ideas and examples to show you, and we can help you build your file to accommodate these tricks easily. Intrigued? Give us a call!

The Reply Card: Art or Afterthought?

The sales letter, lift letter, and brochure tucked inside your direct mail package all share one purpose – to compel the reader to complete and return the reply card. While most cards may never be returned, every card that is returned represents an interested prospect. The value far outweighs the cost of printing and insertion. When you look at it this way, you begin to view this thin, rectangular piece not as an afterthought, but as an integral component of your direct mail strategy.

Creating an effective reply card is an art. Within the defined space of a few inches, you must capture interest and summarize your selling proposition while leaving room for the respondent’s contact information, your return address, and postage. Graphics should be subtle to avoid confusing or distracting the reader. Coated cardstock won’t work because the respondent needs to write on the piece.

Well-conceived reply cards have several things in common:

  • They get straight to the point about what is being offered and what the reader needs to do.
  • Checkboxes are included with a positive call to action and often an incentive as well: “YES! I accept your free trial offer!”
  • Additional avenues for responding are featured prominently, such as a toll-free telephone number, QR Code, and links to social media.
  • An expiration date is included to create a sense of urgency.

Studies have shown that response rates can be greatly increased when response devices are personalized. In this age of identity theft, however, you must be sensitive to the amount of information that is traveling through the mail on a postcard. If your business requires personal data like date of birth or a credit card number, be sure to include a reply envelope. Whatever approach you take, make sure your piece meets U.S. Postal Service standards for cost-effective processing.

A reply card is arguably the most important piece inside your direct mail package. Rethink the role this seemingly simple piece plays in your overall direct mail plan.


Don’t Skimp on Print (Here’s Why)

Tempted to shift marketing dollars to electronic media because it is less expensive? Think before you switch. While electronic media, including email, can be an important part of the mix, print remains the bedrock of an effective long-term campaign. Let’s look at five reasons you can’t afford to skimp on print.

1. Cut through the clutter. With less postal mail in the mailbox, your printed pieces get noticed right away. Let the competition fight it out in the inbox. You have prospect’s attention the moment they open the mailbox door.

2. Add instant credibility. During a time when any company can create professional-looking email, print tells the reader that you are the real deal. If you put it in print, consumers trust that you’re going to stand by your word.

3. Stay connected. More and more, people are tiring of 24/7 electronic connectivity. Make sure the prospect has your information at his fingertips when he unplugs from digital devices. Print never runs out of power.

4. Print makes sense. Print appeals to all five senses. It appeals to the eye, with rich colors and textures beyond what we can get on screen. As we reach out to experience the texture of special papers and finishes, it appeals to the touch. It appeals to our sense of smell, which is handled by the same part of the brain that handles memory and emotion. It appeals to our sense of hearing too, as the pages crinkle and slide. There is no better way to get prospects to taste your product than by mailing a sample.

5. You can’t hide from print. The same developers who introduced the electronic platforms are developing technologies to empower consumers to avoid them. Think TiVo and spam filters. The mail carrier, on the other hand, always delivers your mail

Print versus e-marketing isn’t an either/or choice. Increasingly, marketers are using both together for a one-two punch. But some information just needs the pace and benefits of print, and it has never been easier or less expensive to get high-quality printed materials in the hands of your target audience.