Author Archives: Marcia Brooks

5 Tips to Save Direct Mail Dollars

We all know the old adage that you need to spend money to make WIB Blog Savedollarsmoney. Spending money on marketing or appeals is necessary but can be a bit risky especially for a struggling business or small non-profit. Rather than skip or even skimp on your next direct mail campaign, use these tips to stretch your budget and positively impact your bottom line.

1. List Scrub

 Chances are you have a relatively large list. Take the time to clean it up before your next campaign is set to drop. Segmenting it is a task well worth the investment of time. This will allow you to target specific types of donors – those that haven’t given in a while, large donors, etc. Using your existing list is a great way to encourage repeat donors. You can then send out a targeted campaign to a smaller group, thus saving you plenty of dollars.

2. Partner Up

 Talk to your sponsors or partners and consider creating a complementary campaign that includes both parties. You can split the costs associated with getting the campaign out and both get your message to their mail list. Seeing something about your company or organization from a trusted brand will help you to cultivate new clients and donors. If it is successful, reciprocate soon by partnering again and mailing to your list. The dollars saved are sure to be a much welcomed bonus for both parties.

3. Right Rate

 This one may sounds obvious, but trust us when we tell you how many 501c3 organizations don’t take advantage of non-profit mailing rates. Applying to use the rate won’t cost your organization any dollars but can certainly save you lots. Learn more about these special rates in our previous post, Non-Profit Mailing 101. The process does take some time, so get the application started and submitted before you are ready to drop your next direct mail campaign.

4. Standard Sizing

 We’re big believers in making your direct mail piece stand out. While a creative size or shape is one way to make that happen, it is a costly option. We recommend you keep your piece rectangular and no larger than 6”x11” so you can take advantage of standard mail rates. Get creative with fonts and graphics to get your direct mail piece noticed and save yourself from busting your budget.

5. Go Black

 Color is great and does look sharp on direct mail pieces but costs significantly more to print than black. Stay on budget by sticking to just the 1 color. If you have the funds, consider splurging a little on textured paper. Let your designer know that you want to print in just black and if you will be printing on textured paper. Sharing this information ahead of time will allow them to create something eye-catching within your parameters.

 

Direct Mail is an effective strategy for growing clients, donors and brand awareness. With a little strategizing and planning, you can create a successful campaign well within your budget.

 

Tracking Your Direct Mail Campaign

Putting together a direct mail campaign is easy — tracking its success is a whole other ballgame.  It should, however, be a part of your marketing plan. After all, you want to know whether or not the time and costs invested in it were well spent.

WIB Blog TrackSuccess

 

To truly understand the success of your campaign, you need to have clearly defined goals. Are you looking to increase sales/donors, drive more traffic to your website/landing page or build your email list? Whatever the desired outcome is, be sure the team understands it and is working together to achieve it. Planning ahead how you will measure this key.

 

Here are some tried and true strategies you can implement to help you see the value of your next direct mail campaign.

 

Seed Your List

Whether you are preparing a 200 or 2,000,000 piece direct mail campaign, you are sure to want it to arrive at the intended recipient’s address in a timely manner and in good condition.

To ensure this is happening, add a few addresses to your mail list. Include colleagues, family members or friends that you trust will provide you with honest feedback. The additional recipients should be in the same geographical area as your target. Adding a seed address located in California doesn’t do you any good if the rest of your target is located in Florida.  Have your seeds take photos of any damage that may be evident to the mailer and request they let you know immediately when it is received.

If the direct mail piece is arriving later than planned, it could shorten the lifespan if an expiration date is included as part of the campaign.

 

Specialty CTA Links

No doubt your direct mail campaign includes a clear Call To Action (CTA).  You’ll want to track the driving force behind making your target act on the CTA and move through your sales funnel.  Sure, you can ask the customer or donor how they heard about your organization or the specific promotion at the point of sale, but chances are, they won’t recall or they will simply select the first option. Rather than leave it to chance, set up an automated mechanism to help you. Here are a few suggestions.

  • If you are offering a discount, use a specific coupon code that can be tracked back to this direct mail campaign.
  • Set up a special toll-free number that is only shared via this direct mail campaign.
  • Include a personalized url – commonly referred to as a purl – within the direct mail piece. BONUS! This is a great way to personalize your direct mail campaign.
  • Create a landing page and include the unique link as part of your CTA.

Whichever strategy you choose to utilize, planning ahead and implementing it before the direct mail campaign is printed and dropped is necessary.

 

A/B Testing

If you are torn between two designs or two different CTA’s – go ahead and try them both. You may find that in a certain region your target responds differently than in another.

Take a look at the results of each at the end of your campaign to determine which had greater effectiveness. Using this data will help you create future direct mail campaigns that are successful.

 

Outcome Tracking

Use historical data to compare sales from a previous year to the same time period of your direct mail campaign.  By subtracting the historical data from the current sales/donations, you can see the resulting increase from your current direct mail campaign efforts.

 

What strategies do you use to track your Direct Mail Campaign success?

 

NonProfit Mailing 101

Costs for mailing appeals, thank you notes and newsletters can be really put a strain on a non-profit’s budget. Fortunately, the United States Postal Service (USPS) offers special non-profit pricing that is lower than regular mail rates.  However, not every nonprofit is eligible to use these rates. To qualify, an organization must be authorized by the USPS and even then, not all mail is subject to the special rates.

WIB Blog NonProfitMailing2

 

We get it….it can be confusing. We’ve outlined the basics of what you need to know to help determine whether or not your organization is eligible and if it is what to do next.

 

Qualifying Organizations

Only specific types of organizations or clubs will be authorized by the USPS to take advantage of the lower postal rates. The types of organizations eligible include those formed to serve an agricultural, educational, philanthropic, religious, scientific or veteran purpose.  Some political committees are also eligible.  Organizations such as Chambers of Commerce are not eligible.

 

NonProfit Application

Nonprofit organizations must submit an Application to Mail at Nonprofit Standard Mail Rates with the USPS office that will be used for their mailings. On the form, nonprofits will have to state their organization’s purpose and confirm their profits are for the organization and not an individual. Supporting documents, including the IRS Exemption form which deems an organization is a 501(c)(3) must be included with the application. Once approved, the rates may continue to be used provided a bulk mailing is sent out at least one time every two years.

 

Bulk Mailing Application

Nonprofits wanting to send bulk mail will have to apply for a bulk mail permit and pay an annual fee. The fee varies depending on the mailing method the organization plans to use. The 3 mailing methods are postage meter, pre-cancelled stamps and permit imprint.  

 

  • Postage Meter – The meter must be purchased by the organization and allows nonprofits to print the postage directly on their direct mail pieces. The benefit of this method is the ability to track daily postage expenditures.
  • Pre-Cancelled Stamps – These stamps look like normal stamps but sell at a lower rate to organizations holding a bulk mail permit. Using pre-cancelled stamps makes the mail appear to have been sent via First Class which many nonprofits find a benefit.
  • Permit Imprint – This is the most popular method as it is the most cost effective. No special equipment is required and postage can be printed right on the the envelope from any printer. The Post Office will subtract the amount used from the nonprofit’s account.  The downside to this method is the annual fee is higher than the other two.

 

 

Eligible Mailings

Although now armed with a permit, there are still requirements a nonprofit must follow. Failure to do so can result in civil or criminal fines being assessed. All mailings must truly be for the approved organization and not another nor an individual.  Advertising for other organizations is strictly prohibited. Each mailing must be a minimum of 200 pieces or 50 pounds to be eligible for the bulk mail rates.

 

Preparing a Mailing

Before bringing the mailing to the post office, the non-profit organization must prepare it. The organization’s name must be on every envelope as well as within the mailing. Nonprofits should utilize a certification program to ensure that all addresses are correct. Additionally, the mailing must be presorted by zip code before it is delivered to the post office for mailing.

 

Obtaining a nonprofit permit and using bulk mail rates can be a process, but the reward is worth the time investment.

4 Steps to Non-Profit Data Management

You probably don’t even realize the amount of data you have on your donors and contributors let alone how useful it can be to your non-profit organization.  Having a clear process to collect and put the data to use can not only help your organization to operate more efficiently, but can also lead to increased donations and donor retention.

Ready to get started? In 4 easy steps you will be well on your way!WIB_Blog_datamgmt

1. Collection

Chances are you already have a lot of great information on your donors including names, addresses as well as donation amounts and dates received. Determine what other information you would find helpful. Consider things like birthday, anniversary, relationship to the organization or maybe even why they chose your organization to contribute to.

Once you know what you want, you need to devise a plan to get it. You may want to send a subsequent survey to your donors as part of your thank you process or set up an online form to have them complete the next time they donate. Personal calls are another way to collect this information if you have the staff or volunteer base.

As you collect the data, it is good practice to manage the quality of the information you are receiving to ensure that your staff/volunteers are following protocol and that your processes are effective.

2. Analysis

Now that you have the data, what are you going to do with it? This is the hard part and will require you to put on your thinking cap and maybe even put your HS math skills to use.

You should be able to see the trends and patterns in your donations. Maybe there is a spike in the winter or you find most of your donors are women. Create reports and run them on a regular basis to see if the trends discovered continue.

3. Implementation

It’s time to put the information you have collected and analyzed to work for you.  With a basic understanding of your donors’ habits, you can use that data to help plan your next appeal…and watch the success of it rise!

You can also use the data collected as part of your content. Donors want real information – give it to them!

4. Reassess

Understand that the likelihood of the trends first noticed will shift as time passes so it is critical that you continue to run and analyze reports.  If they fluctuate, it is your cue to adjust your asks.

 

The process of managing data may be time consuming to get going at your organization but the reward of growth is worth the time investment. Want to give it a try but don’t have the staff to? Outsourcing could be the answer!

 

Rev Up Your Response Rates

It’s true, more and more people are turning to online media tools to market their businesses and non-profit organizations. These people are missing out on the power of direct mail. Chances are they abandoned this timeless marketing strategy because they weren’t getting the response rate they wanted.WIBGraphic_RevUpResponse

Studies consistently show that when executed properly, direct mail delivers great returns and a high response rate. Before making the mistake of leaving potential business on the table, brush up on your direct mail basics to rev up the response rates of your next direct mail campaign.

Get Personal

The last thing you want is to have your direct mail piece look like it could apply to just about anyone. Sure, you can personalize it with the intended recipient’s name – people have been doing that for years. But why stop there? Thanks to technological advances, you can now do so much more. Through the use of variable printing technology, you can include unique content, personalized visuals and even buyer/donor history. This is sure to get the recipient to stop and take notice.

Point out the Benefits

It’s easy to focus the piece on your organization, product or service offering…but don’t! Instead, clearly point out what they will do for them. Identify your target market’s pain point and show how your business can help solve their dilemma. Stress how they will be positively impacted by purchasing your product or donating to your organization.

Eye-Catching Design

The design of your direct mail piece is as, if not more, important as the content. A plain envelope or ho-hum visuals are sure to turn a reader off. You want to strive to create a piece of direct mail that will catch the recipients eye. This isn’t as hard as you may think. Simply using a padded envelope implies value and fun fonts draw a reader in. Experiment with color — on envelopes, paper and fonts! Have fun designing and your reader will enjoy receiving it.

Compelling Call to Action (CTA)

Whether you are selling a new product, offering a service or searching for new donors, you want to ensure it is crystal clear to the reader HOW they can take advantage of your offer. To begin with you want your offer to be remarkable – something they won’t quickly forget and can’t pass up. Let readers know the urgency of responding timely by setting an expiration date or limiting the quantity available at the special price. Speaking of price – let the reader know the value of the offer (and make sure it is a good value). Spell it out — Receive $300 off a service of $1000 or more is enticing and sure to garner a great response rate.

Prove Yourself

Let’s face it, people are skeptics. If they haven’t ever heard of you, they may toss your offer no matter how enticing it is, directly into the trash can. You want to be taken seriously by your recipients and not be mistaken for a fly by night company. Show your credibility by including testimonials, listing awards won, affiliations and recognizable client/donor names. You don’t want to brag, but rather show that others put their trust in you and they should as well.

List Review

Before you can send out your perfectly crafted direct mailing, you will need to have a good list. If you are targeting folks in a certain demographic or zip code, you can easily check your list to ensure it is being sent to the target audience. This step can be cumbersome, but the time invested now will pay off in the long run/

Take these into consideration as you create your next direct mailing and watch your response SOAR!

New Year’s Resolutions for Non-Profits

The New Year is just around the corner! While making personal resolutions, why not set some for your non-profit as well. Set the tone for the upcoming year with a list of resolutions that will enhance the success of your non-profit organization in 2017!

December was likely a good month for your non-profit as donations tend to be highest toward year end. Ring in the new year with the excitement of December behind you and keep the momentum going. There really isn’t a better time to redefine your brand and voice.

Don’t get overwhelmed! It’s easier than you think to set achievable resolutions for your organization. Here are some suggestions to top your resolution list.

A New “Thank-You”

While everyone appreciates hearing (or reading) those words, chances are there will be repeat donors, supporters and volunteers this year. Take the time now to redesign and order new notes of appreciation. Revamping the way you express your gratitude will be noticed and appreciated by the recipients.

Fresh Faces

The new year is the perfect time to add a new Board of Director member. New “blood” is bound to come with fresh ideas and a new outlook on the organization. Perhaps there is a volunteer or donor that has shown interest in becoming more involved. Tap them and invite them to roll up their sleeves and dive in. Enthusiasm and excitement typically follow when you make a change like this, so go for it!

Rule Review

By-laws are created to ensure your organization operates as efficiently as possible. Are they still working? Take advantage of the lull in activity most non-profits experience during the month of January and review them. Look to see if there are processes you are no longer following that you should be or ones that need to be updated.

Website

We all know (and if you don’t, you should!) the importance your digital presence is. Take a look at your website and freshen it up a bit. Archive old content (DON’T DELETE, just move it to a less prominent location) and update your copy, stats and of course, visuals.  It’s also the perfect time to optimize your SEO so your site will be seen more often.

Plan for 2017

Gather your team and openly discuss what your organization accomplished this year and  wants to achieve in the upcoming year. Once you’ve determined this, create a plan to help you get there. Be sure everyone is on board and knows what they can do to reach those goals during the next 12 months. Put everything in writing so people can be held accountable and plan to meet at least quarterly to ensure you are track!

Here’s to the New Year!

Give your non-profit a fresh start with the arrival of the new year by allotting the time to make resolutions now! What resolutions are you making for your non-profit organization?

Giving Tuesday Follow-Up Guide

The biggest donation day of the year, aka Giving Tuesday, has come and gone. Your non-profit has grown its revenue, attracted new donors and increased awareness of the organization and mission. So, now what?

Don’t just sit back and float by!wib-blog_givingtuesdayfu

Capitalize on the influx of activity generated by the hard work put into the development and execution of your Giving Tuesday campaign. Consider these 4 tips your inspiration to planning a post Giving Tuesday campaign!

1. Show your #GivingTuesday donors the LOVE!

Thanking your donors should be FIRST PRIORITY! An appreciated donor is more likely to become a repeat donor.  There are plenty of ways to express your gratitude.

Get creative and have a little fun with it. Here are  some ideas to get you started:

• Prepare a direct mail campaign inviting local donors to come tour your facility or even join the volunteer ranks.  

• Create shareable content on your social media platforms. Photos of your staff holding “Thank You” signs or even a video make great visual aids and will garner the best engagement.

• Prepare a “Donor Honor Roll” on your website and share the link on your social media platforms and upcoming newsletters

As you write your copy, be sure to use the word “YOU” as often as possible. You want to clearly convey to readers that the donors are the true hero of your Giving Tuesday story.

2. Share the Impact of your #GivingTuesday campaign with the world

 

When you set out on your Giving Tuesday campaign, you had a plan for the funds raised, right? Whether it was to fund research to find a cure for childhood cancer or help rebuild homes lost in the wake of catastrophe, you now have the capital to begin working on this mission. Let donors know EXACTLY how their contribution is being utilized and the SPECIFIC impact it will have.

How do you share? The possibilities are endless. Here’s a little inspiration to get your going:

• Create an eye catching infographic clearly depicting where Giving Tuesday proceeds will be directed. Post it on your social media platforms, print it out and mail it to donors and/or include in your next newsletter.

• Share “before” pictures and “after” renderings with a promise to share actual photographs once significant progress has been made.

• Collect testimonials from the people that will be directly impacted by the work your organization is doing with Giving Tuesday contributions. A quote from the Doctor that will be working on the research or the owner of the home being rebuild. These heartfelt comments will resonate with readers and keep them engaged.

3. Prep Donors for a future ask

 

It goes without saying that you should not put out an ask again following Giving Tuesday. However, you can certainly prime donors and keep them motivated and engaged so they will be more receptive when you do ask again.

In your “Thank You” note, invite donors to follow you on your social channels and opt in to your quarterly newsletters. This will keep your organization in the forefront of their min.

4. Review (and then, review again) campaign results

 

Months and months ago, when you and your team sat down and began designing your Giving Tuesday campaign, you likely set overall goals and developed metrics in which to measure your success by. Now that Giving Tuesday has past, it’s time to analyze the outcome of your efforts.  It’s especially important to take a look at the donor profiles of those that participated and see how they differ from what you had originally anticipated. Take a look at what worked and what didn’t work so you can better plan for next year.

Congratulations on your #GivingTuesday success! Keep the momentum going into the new year!

Advantages to Outsourcing Receivables

Whether you run a Fortune 500 company or a local non-profit organization, time and resources are always in short supply and high demand. Leaders are always on the lookout for process improvements that will save both and increase their bottom line. Outsourcing tasks that aren’t mission critical is common practice. By doing so, it frees up your team to focus to on mission critical tasks such as marketing, research and development.

Outsourcing accounting tasks has become commonplace among companies of all sizes as well as non-profit organizations. Although there is a cost associated with outsourcing, the benefit far outweighs it.  wib-blog_outsourcingreceive

Refocus Priorities

Accounting needs to happen every single day. By removing it off of your staff’s plate, their time will be freed up. That time can be spend on working on growth specific tasks that will ultimately grow your organization.

Greater Efficiency

Crunching numbers isn’t as easy as it may sound. Often times organizations, especially small business or charities, use someone with limited experience in this capacity. A reputable agency that is staffed with a fully trained, experienced team, is focused only on handling receivables and not pulled in multiple directions. This allows them opportunities to improve business processes and help you collect your receivables in a timely, efficient manner with a lower risk of error.

Reduction in Staff

The agency that handles your receivables will need to be paid for their time and services which is likely less than the person you are paying to manage it in house. Not only are you saving the salary of this staff member, but also soft costs such as technology, office space and benefits. You may find there is a need for this staff member in another area of your business, otherwise, it is one less person needed on your payroll.

Checks & Balances

The company you outsource to will provide you with data you likely didn’t have access to before. Using this information gives you greater insight into your financial picture. This will improve the cashflow at your organization which for any, is a good thing!

Many companies have reservation about outsourcing this task for fear they are going to lose control. While this is a valid concern, it is one that, with research, can easily be put to bed. Openly ask potential companies what type of reporting they offer, how often it is updated and what level of access you will have if they are awarded your business. Establishing these expectations from the start will make for a smoother transition.

Since every organization is different, you will also want to look for a partner company that offers a customized approach and not just a cookie cutter solution. A company that is willing to invest their time in getting to your know your business model is one to definitely add to your short list of potential partners.

Outsourcing these functions can be a positive change for a company and could ultimately lead to increased client/donor satisfaction. Isn’t that what every business has as their number 1 goal?

 

Recruiting Non-Profit Volunteers

Volunteers are an indispensable resource to any non-profit organization. These people give of their time and expertise to help organizations achieve their mission. Help your organization find and retain enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers with these tried and true suggestions.

Start Spreading the Wordwib-blog_recruitingnonprofit

Current volunteers are a great source for helping find new ones. However, casting a larger net will yield you a greater variety of volunteers. There are plenty of free and low cost options to help you advertise your need. Here are our favorite 5.

  • Postcards. Direct mail is a great way to share your need for volunteers and postcards are an inexpensive option. You can send them out to past donors or purchase a list that includes those close to your physical location. This is the time to find volunteers, so resist the urge to ask for donations.
  • Public Service Announcements. Get in touch with local newspapers, radio stations and tv networks and ask them to do a PSA on behalf of your organization.  
  • Flyers. Coffee shops, gyms, preschools…all of these places have community bulletin boards and welcome flyers. Take advantage. Print out your flyers in black ink (the least expensive color!) on brightly colored paper so you catch the eye of potential volunteers. You can put up several copies so people aren’t shy about taking one. Keep a stack in your car, too — you just never know when you might run into someone that may be a good fit for your organization.
  • Business Cards. Inexpensively print information about your organization and the need for volunteers on a business card. Ask current volunteers, friends and other supporters to take a stack and hand them out. You can also leave a few at locations your ideal volunteer may frequent.  
  • Social Media. Place a call for volunteers on all of your social pages — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and SnapChat! Those that are following you already know how wonderful your organization is and may be ready to get more involved. Post eye catching graphics to draw potential volunteers attention to it and include a link to your website page that has more information about available volunteer opportunities.

 

Welcome Wagon

Now that you have a group of new volunteers ready to help your organization it’s time to welcome them.  Schedule an orientation before you have them roll up their sleeves and get involved.

At the orientation, you will want to clearly set expectations.  Sharing formal policies, scheduling and giving volunteers specific direction will make it a better experience for everyone. Volunteers want the experience to be rewarding.  Showing them specifically how their efforts will impact others will get them excited to work with you. Keep in mind, they are volunteers and though they aren’t looking for monetary compensation, they want to be shown their efforts are appreciated. Saying “Thank you” often is important. Incentives such as swag, volunteer perks or even a free meal are motivators and should be offered as often as possible.

How does your organization recruit and retain volunteers? Share your creative efforts with us!

5 Essential Elements of a Direct Mail Piece

It’s been decided…you’re going to craft a direct mail piece as part of your overall marketing strategy. Good decision! Just like a car that can’t operate efficiently without each of its parts, a direct mail piece must also have specific elements to be effective and yield your organization the greatest ROI.

Whether you are creating a postcard or a 4 page color booklet, it needs to include these 5 elements.

 

wib-blog_directmailpieceMemorable Headline

It’s the first impression and we all know how important that is. Use this opportunity to capture the reader’s attention so they want to continue reading. This is your chance to imply value to your target audience. While this may be the shortest part of your direct mail piece, as one of the most impactful, it may take you longer to prepare than the others. Don’t rush it…it could make or break the success of your campaign.

Impact Information

While a direct mail piece is essentially a sales tool, the copy written needs to focus on the benefits the product/service being advertised will have on the reader, aka, the potential purchaser or donor. Rather than share the information about the product/service and its features, let the reader know how it will impact them and their lives. This should be done throughout the direct mail piece.

Specific Call to Action

Let’s face it, if you don’t ask, you won’t get! Be sure you have a specific call to action in your direct mail piece. Maybe it’s to call a toll free number, visit your website or complete a form and send it back to you. Whatever it is, be specific in your ask. Create a sense of urgency so the reader does it right then otherwise the likelihood of their putting the direct mail piece down and forgetting about it increases. You can do this by offering something extra or a discount to those that respond in a specified amount of time.  Everyone likes a deal, right?

Communication Channels    

Your call to action needs to include a way for the reader to act. You want to make this is as easy as possible. If it is too much work, the reader may not follow through. If you want them to call you, provide a toll-free number (a vanity number that is memorable is even better) or if you are looking for them to visit your website, consider a QR code or easy to input url. There is no need to list this information more than once in your communication After all, you don’t want to waste valuable real estate on your direct mail piece.

Post Scriptum

The Post Scriptum is better known as the P.S. Studies have shown that many people jump right to the end of a letter (or will even flip over a 2-sided note) to see if there is a P.S. and read that before determining if they want to read the whole thing or not. Knowing this, it is a good idea to include one in your next direct mail piece. It doesn’t need to be overly wordy. A simple reiteration of the main points of your mailer and a reminder that time is of the essence are perfect content for this section! 

P.S. – Have fun with this section!         

Keep in mind that direct mail is part of an overall marketing strategy. Follow up pieces and inclusion of other media sources, such as email, social media and blogging, will increase your overall results!