Thursday, February 23, 2012

7 Reasons why Print isn’t Dead

Yes, it’s true. Despite what the social media and content marketing gurus tell us, print isn’t dead.

I still get tons of direct mail, lots of junk mail and my newspapers (yeah I know I’m a dinosaur) are still overflowing with inserts and flyers.

What’s more interesting is that many of our clients report that customers are still asking for printed material. Even some independent schools that are targeting a younger demographic say that prospective parents are asking to have a kit mailed to them.

On top of that, I just read a really interesting and persuasive piece on the virtues of printed annual reports by Tom Ahearn - who is a true expert in nonprofit communication. He demonstrates that print accounted for a $10.7 billion dollar investment by Warren Buffett and a small fortune left to the Rhode Island Foundation.

So now that we have determined that news of print’s death has been greatly exaggerated, the question is - where does print fit into a marketing mix?

For starters, you should be using print differently than you use online marketing. Don’t just replicate in print what exists on your website. By the way, the corollary of that is that your online content should be more than a series of print pieces rendered as pdfs.

Print can deliver user experiences that online content cannot. Take advantage of them. Here are some of the unique properties of print and seven reasons that print is still alive and kicking.

1. Think big. A large print piece provides more real estate and potential visual impact than even the largest monitor. The brochure that folds out into something larger than life or a well-designed poster has an incredible wow factor.

2. And small. A small teaser piece can, in the right setting, deliver more impact, more quickly than any smartphone. Whether it’s being put in the hands of pedestrians or comes with your mail or is included with a purchase, small print pieces make an impression.

3. Texture. You cannot provide texture on an electronic device. This can refer to traditional linen or laid finishes or rougher “recycled” finishes. It also encompasses smooth or high gloss finishes. The thickness (or thin-ness) of a piece also contributes to the experience. The feel of a printed piece delivers unique sensations that make a distinctive statement about a product or organization.

4. Shape. Paper can be cut into a range of configurations that is limited only by the imagination. Think about pop-up greeting cards or print pieces with windows that reveal something on the other side or a business card with rounded corners. Even something as simple as a presentation folder can only be rendered in print. Consider the myriad possibilities for saying something unique about your company.

5. Colour. Admittedly, a monitor delivers incredibly vivid images but the web is limited to 256 colours. Print can incorporate an almost infinite array of colour that, combined with great design, will yield pieces that are beautiful and eye catching – and stand out.

6. Fonts. Same issue as colour. If you want your online copy to be indexed by search engines and readable on most computers, your choice of fonts is quite limited. There are tens of thousands of available fonts and print allows you to use them to their fullest potential.

7. Personalization. Everyone loves to see his or her name in print (even if they won’t admit it). Technology, like variable printing, has made personalization in print painless. Whether its something as simple as a personalized letter or a more impressive personalized book or proposal, printing someone’s name will increase affinity and better get their attention.

So there you have it. The strategic use of print is still an effective way to distinguish your organization from your competitors and that is the reason that print is not dead.

There are many other unique properties to print. Please comment and tell me about how you have used them in your marketing mix.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Forget about Viral. Think Strategic.

If you want to create online content that will propel your business or organization, stop thinking viral and start thinking strategic.

First, let's be clear about something. Online content refers to videos, case studies, white papers, photos, blog posts, tweets, and anything else you post online (on your website or elsewhere) to market your business, school or organization.

Part of the inspiration for this post has been John Moore’s Talkable Brand video series. It’s really well done - informative, entertaining and inspiring. If you have any responsibility for marketing in your organization, you should watch it.

The third video in the series makes the case that Talkable is Bankable - if people are talking about your brand, they will consider buying your product. That’s pretty hard to disagree with.

But in the process of proving the effectiveness of word of mouth, I believe he has dispelled any promise that marketers may hold out for their content going viral. Citing a variety of sources, John presents the following data:
  • The maximum number of people with whom we can have stable relationships with is 150
  • 80% of our conversations are with the same 5 to 10 people.
  • 62% of our conversations are with our strongest ties – spouses, family and close friends
  • 80% of cell phone calls are with the same 4 people
  • The average Facebook user has 130 friends and the typical Facebook user directly communicates with just 4 friends each week
What I see in those statistics is that people communicate in small circles. While this deals primarily with personal communication, my sense is that business communication isn’t much different. Our network of trusted sources is fairly small. The only hope then for any online content going viral is in the overlap between these circles of influence and I wouldn’t bet on that happening very often.

It also tells me that I may have 500+ Linked In contacts and over 1000 Facebook friends but the number of people who are going to really take action based on what I say or post is relatively small.

Add to the mix some research that was posted last month by Emarketer that showed most most consumers don’t mention brands on Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps even more surprising is that most internet users say they first learn about new brands, products and services from offline print media or word of mouth. Only 24% said they most frequently or often hear about them on Facebook or Twitter.

All of these stats say the same thing to me – don’t even think about content going viral. It’s not going to happen.

Instead concentrate on creating content that is strategic. Your content should be:
  • Targeted – speak to the needs and interests of the segments most likely to buy your product
  • Valuable – give users something (perspectives, information, creativity) that they can’t get anywhere else
  • Original – your content should distinguish you from your competitors
  • Believable – it’s got to be a genuine reflection of your organization and make promises that are deliverable 
  • Brand aligned – content must enhance the experience you want users/customers to have when they interact with your company
  • On message – make sure the language and positioning inherent in your online content is consistent with what’s on your website and in offline material.
If that’s not enough, my colleague Ruth Zive has 67 Content Strategies for you to consider in her new e-book. It's a great resource.

In the end, the promise of a million hits may be sensational, but the results driven by strategic content are far more attainable and ultimately more valuable.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fundraising and the 4 P’s of Marketing

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about chewing gum or feeding the hungry; the principles of good marketing remain the same. But how you apply those principles to the fundraising arena will affect results.

One of the fundamentals of traditional marketing is the four P’s – Product, Place, Price and Promotion. In very simple terms - develop the right product for the right target; develop the location that will be most conducive to sales; price it effectively; promote it strategically and presto, you have marketing success. More importantly, the combination of how each of these is applied represents an opportunity to truly stand out from your competitors.

Applying the four P’s to the world of fundraising requires some consideration. Here’s my take.

Product – First you have to understand that the product you are marketing is not the cause, the institution or the organization for which funds are being raised.  The product is the impact fundraised dollars will have. The product is what the donor will feel when she or he makes a contribution. The product is the relationship that will ensue. If you are marketing a fundraising opportunity, you are selling a dream, a vision, a sense of satisfaction, and the ability for an individual to make a difference. There’s no question that the credibility and capacity of the organization are key ingredients in your ability to deliver that product. But your focus is the exchange with the donor and the unique opportunity that it can provide.

Place – You want to think about where the donor will be when making a giving decision. For new donors, that may be in their home or their office. Is it reading a letter or looking at something online? Put yourself in the shoes of a donor - in that place - and think about what would make you give. If you’re using an email or mobile campaign, you have to consider the possibility that prospective donors are on a subway, in their car or walking down the street. That’s going to take a quick and powerful pitch to promote action.  Another approach is to use images and video to transport the donor from wherever they are to where you need them to be.

Price – The way in which a product is priced makes a huge statement about that product. A $1000 a plate gala invitation makes a very different statement than a $5 point of sale opportunity. You want to make sure you have the right giving options for the right target. Think about who your donors are  – whether that’s for the whole organization or a particular campaign – and make sure the giving levels are aligned. This also means the array of options should be different online than it is for direct mail and even different for different segments. The most important consideration is what will your donor feel when he or she sees the giving level being requested.

Promotion – Your website, print collateral, letters and advertising have to take all that is unique in the points above and tell donors the stories that set you apart. Your material cannot not look or sound like the stuff from every other organization. Find the essence of what makes you different and transform it into something that is not only easily communicated but that is talkable – so that people can easily talk, tweet and email about it. This could be a great thank you video or a unique website design or an effective tagline. You can search the web and will find lots of examples. But remember your aim is not to copy what others have done but rather be inspired to find the means of effectively distinguishing your giving opportunity.

Whether you’re a marketing specialist, a fundraiser or a volunteer solicitor, using the four P’s effectively will improve results.

That’s my interpretation of how to apply the four P’s to fundraising but I’m sure others have different opinions. Please share yours by commenting below.