The Art and Science of Storytelling

Telling your story through direct mail

First impressions are important.

The visual and verbal impact of ongoing marketing communications should create a series of memorable impressions.  You also want them to generate a lasting impression.  Most importantly, they should generate the desired call to action (CTA).

When creating engaging content for your audience, you must do your research to understand them.  Among the many questions to consider:

  • Are they Customers or Prospects? Long term, one-timers or nevers?
  • Do you know their buying habits? And when they occur?
  • What are their emotional triggers during the buy cycle?
  • Who is your competition and what is their approach?

Once audience understanding is in place, it is time for words and pictures.

Content writing is more than putting words together for someone to read and (fingers crossed) relate to your message. Rather, content writing is the art of telling a story by using the right mix of knowledge, approach, and style to speak to a particular audience in a way they feel comfortable. This will go a long way toward generating that lasting impression.

Without question, imagery also plays an important role in telling your story. Visuals should be more than just look-good, feel-good design – it’s cleverly communicating your brand and value proposition with relevant and personalized imagery. .

Content and visuals are strategically used together, and connected to the audience segments, to attract attention, and more importantly, create a sense of urgency toward the call to action.  DME has developed three types of communications that speak to audience segments:

  • Inspire communications should create a growing feeling of customer value to the cause. They should express how important their support is to current initiatives and the organizational goals.
  • Advocate concentrates on year-round “stewardship” messaging that keep customers aware of special events, occasions, and important milestones. These messages reinforce the value that their support does make a difference.
  • Motivate serves to strengthen the relationship with existing customers through a suite of communications supporting various stewardship activities – leading to the next promotion or “ask.”

An integrated marketing approach is beyond required in today’s world. Mail, email, mobile, social etc., all offer opportunity to modify communications to best fit the delivery platform.  It is important that marketing messaging be adjusted across delivery platforms to what the consumer would expect on a given outlet.  These will increase the likelihood they remember your message, and increase the odds of your CTA being achieved.

During an ongoing campaign, or throughout your career, often times you will find huge success. Then there are other times when you miss the mark.  Either way, generating customer feedback via surveys and other response mechanisms will go a long, long way towards ongoing success, or righting the ship after a misstep.

Also be sure to test, test, and test some more.

A/B testing is critical for you to better understand audience behavior. Ongoing testing and applying learned results going forward is crucial to ongoing success.

Storytelling is not meant to be used only as a selling tool, but as a technique to foster stronger relationships with customers, eventually turning them into loyalists and evangelists. Each story identifies your mission and CTA and also serves as the basis for future content development.

Alumni, Athletic and Academic Fundraising

Donor Retention & Acquisition for colleges and universities

Understanding The Challenges

Every not-for-profit organization is challenged with building and maintaining a strong donor base. Stewardship, as it relates to higher education, is similar to acquisition, retention and loyalty type programs in the world of traditional marketing. It isn’t so similar, however, that the same processes and methodologies can be applied.

PPI Loyalty specializes in alumni, athletic and academic fundraising using our proprietary, and proven, methodology.

Stewardship

Inspire. Advocate. Motivate.

Our fundraising programs are designed to add new donors, and at the same time nurture and cultivate existing donors.

Our proven solutions will grow your donor database by…

  • Renewing the Loyal
  • Re-capturing the Lost
  • Convincing the Nevers

Solutions

INSPIRE: It’s Vital to Add new Life to your Donor BaseNew donors must feel emotionally connected and that they truly can make a difference.  Managing expectations is key to showing prospective donors they will be valued.  We know it is absolutely more difficult to convince a donor to join, or re-join the cause, than it is to renew a current one.  And we know adding to your base is an equally important part of your stewardship goals.

Inspire communications should create a growing feeling of their value to the cause. They should express how important their contributions support current initiatives and the organizational goals.

ADVOCATE: Empower your Donors to become your EvangelistsUnderstanding why your donor base continues to support your mission is a major key.  For many, it’s as simple as wanting to know how their support is helping.  If they are made to feel that they are a big part of your successes, if they feel there is an emotional connection, they are more likely to stay involved.  Regularly engaging your current donors, to the point they feel evangelized, can grow your message exponentially. Your cause becomes their cause.

Advocate concentrates on year-round, post-donation “stewardship” messaging that keep donors aware of special events, occasions, and important milestones.  These messages reinforce the value that their donations do indeed make a difference.

MOTIVATE: Tie heart String to Purse Strings… Planting the seeds for growth is key to keeping your donor base engaged.  We know it is easier to retain current supporters than it is to generate new ones.  By showing your appreciation in every communication, it serves to preserve, and strengthen, your relationship.  As your relationship grows, it increases your chance of ongoing success.

Motivate serves to strengthen the relationship with existing donors through a suite of communications supporting various stewardship activities – leading to the next “ask.”

Our Inspire, Advocate and Motivate campaigns drive fundraising revenue, build a strong foundation of pride donations and further cultivate existing donors who will support the program for years to come.

Based on our more than 30 years of direct marketing experience, we understand the challenges and road blocks the collegiate world will inevitably experience when planning and launching donor campaigns. With over 150 collegiate clients, PPI Loyalty is your perfect partner for all your fundraising efforts.

Contact us to learn more about how we can grow your donor base.

 

DME Delivers Explores 3D Printing

DME Delivers has a history of exploring the cutting edge of technology. 3D printing is no exception. As 3D printing continues to evolve, we believe it has great potential for DME’s future.

DME is currently experimenting in the 3D figurine market for business and consumer use.

Other potential use may be found in the industries such as photography, gaming, fashion, medical, fitness, merchandising, and architectural design.

Architectural design and build is heading to a whole new level. Apis Cor recently printed an entire house utilizing concrete and if that isn’t amazing enough, they did it in just 24 hours.

DME has invested in Cobra, a full body scanner designed specifically to deliver superior studio and event experiences. Our machine can capture every expression, and feature, in seconds. This ‘photography studio’ has 128 Canon DSLRs and 7 strobes which allows us to capture photos for a 360-degree rendering of any person, family or pet, or a group of willing subjects!

With very short scan times, we can service an astonishing approximately 450 people in an 8-hour period. We are now exploring off-site events where we can transport a portable Cobra. This is ideal for trade shows, sporting events and other high traffic events.

3D Printing Body Scanner and figurines

Figurines range from 4-14 inches in height, and themes include action figurines, holiday ornaments, wedding cake toppers, game avatars and so much more. We understand every wedding is different so if the bride and groom prefer not to see each other dressed in your wedding attire until wedding day, we have you covered. We can take photos of you individually and then Photoshop both of you together.

All our products are photo-realistic, high resolution, and hand finished, ensuring you receive the highest quality. This is just the beginning for DME Delivers and 3D printing. In the future, we will expand and scale our 3D solutions.

If you are going to NACDA. in Orlando in June, look for our booth which will feature a mobile 3D printer!

The Main Type Of Organic Searches That Are Performed

Local Search, Broad Search

In this blog I am going to cover the different types of searches that are performed on Google. Keyword & phrase searches can be broken into three main categories and they are the following:

Broad
Auto repair, auto shop, car service

City + Niche (Local)
Your city + transmission repair, brake service, car engine repair

Long-tail Keywords (City + Specifics)
City + fast break repair, quick oil change, best auto shop for brake service

Broad keywords are typically searched when people don’t really know what they are looking for. This is important to know because that means they are not ready to buy a product or service. When someone searches for broad keywords it typically means they are in the research stage.

Local searches (City + Niche) are ideal keywords phrases to optimize your website for.  The people performing local searches typically know what they want and are more willing to buy a product or service.

When you rank for these keywords you will also rank for very broad terms as long as Google knows where the person performing the search is located.  Which Google almost always does because they know everything.

The only down side in targeting local keywords is they are more difficult to rank for because there are a ton of people competing for the same keywords. When targeting these keywords just know it will take some time before you begin appearing higher in the search.

Long-tail keywords are searched when people know exactly what they are looking for, or at least they think they do.  People who find you using these types of searches will take up less of your time, be a stronger lead, and be more willing to purchase your services.

Even better, the more specific you are the faster and easier it will be to rank for those keywords. Many businesses ignore these keywords which make them ideal for anyone who is launching a new website.

This doesn’t mean you should target “Yodeling Orlando car mechanic” because you likely won’t get any business.  You need to target profitable keywords so put serious thought into them. When in doubt refer to the google keyword tool.

Now that you know the basics I need to warn you. Make sure you abide by Google’s polices. This means no keyword stuffing, no unethical link building, and do not over optimize your site. Remember when I said Google knows everything? They have things called robots that crawl your website periodically and they will know if you are trying to cheat the system. If you are caught, they will penalize your website.

Setting Up Meta Titles & Descriptions

Direct mail company setting up meta titles and descriptions.One of the most important aspects of SEO is setting up your page meta titles and meta descriptions. Here are some questions to ask yourself before starting the keyword research. For this blog I am going to use a small direct mail firm as an example. Write down the answers and please do not skip this step.  It will help you decide on which keywords to target.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your area of expertise?
  • What cities in your area do you want to target?
  • What do you think people type into Google to find a direct mail company in your area?

After you have answered the above questions head over to the keyword tool in Google Adwords. Click on “search for keywords using a phrase, website or category”. Enter a list of keywords/phrases into the product or service field. Then select 2 cities from the targeting section and hit “Get ideas”. This will show you important information, including the search volume and how competitive the keywords are. Select the appropriate ones and head over to your SEO settings in your website control panel.

Depending on which web design platform you are using will determine where it’s located. It’s typically located in the settings portion of your site.

Keep in mind most search engines will only consider a maximum of 60 characters for the meta title and 160 characters for the meta description. However, recent case studies on SEO have shown the sweet spot for Google is 50 or less characters for the title, and 150 or less for the description. If your title and description are less than the maximum don’t worry about it, just try not to exceed the limit. Otherwise Google will cut your description short and you don’t want to lose out on valuable information your potential clients will see when displayed on Google.

The general rule of thumb is to target 2-3 profitable keywords.  The first keyword is the main target keyword.  For us, it would be “direct marketing agency”.  It’s followed by another profitable keyword, “direct marketing company”.  The last one is our brand name, “DME Delivers”.  You don’t need to place three within in your title but try to use 2 keywords in your title if possible.

Try the template below for your website.

Recipe For Title: Your Competitive Keyword | Less Competitive Keyword… or you can use your Competitive Keyword | Brand Name.

Recipe For Meta Description: Your city + competitive keyword specializing in less competitive keyword, then blurb.  Do not use your brand name in the meta description because it would be a waste for SEO purposes. An important note, make sure both your title and meta description accurately represent your business.

 

 

Importance Of Blogging For SEO

MarketingI’m sure many of you have heard of SEO (search engine optimization).  Maybe your business was as slow as grass growing so you decided to cruise the internet to look for ways to get more leads.  Then you landed on a page talking about SERPS, back-links, meta title, meta description, alt attributes, trust flow, citation flow, page authority, domain authority, black-hat seo, white-hat seo blah, blah.  So, you left the page after you realized it was all Greek.

Well I’m here to help demystify SEO mumbo jumbo and to do this I’m going to leave many details out that you really don’t need to know when you’re just beginning your SEO journey.  It’s important to know that no matter what industry you specialize in what I’m about to share with you can be applied to your business to generate more leads.

I say leads because no matter how high you rank on Google, your website, customer service, and your work must sell your services.

The thing is, even if you’re the best at what you do in your industry, how much of it really matters if people aren’t seeing your work and know what you’re offering? There is a saying in marketing, “It doesn’t matter if you are giving away free gold, if people don’t know you are giving it away you’re going to be stuck with it all.”

Content, Content, Content!

You need relevant and interesting content. One of the best things you can do for yourself is get in the habit of blogging and not be afraid to put content on your main pages.  If your website only contains images and a short blurb on your bio page or investment page, you’re not doing yourself any favors with Google.

Without written content, Google is going to send its little robots to your website and come back with very little information on how to rank your site.

There are some people out there that have been misled to believe blogging is no longer helpful when it comes to ranking your website.  They couldn’t be more wrong.  Blogging is an excellent way to get noticed by Google, and rather quickly.  Remember those little robots?  One of their main purposes is to find stellar content on web pages just like yours.  This doesn’t mean you should find some awesome blog and copy their work. The content needs to be your own!

When you’re blogging on a consistent basis, sharing the links on social media and having people interact with your site, it’s like sending out an SOS to Google.  “Help me you guys, I’m on page 20 of the search results and I’m writing fresh relevant content.”

When you couple blogging with proper SEO, you will begin building trust with Google.  Trust turns into a loving relationship with all the benefits, including moving up in Google’s search results.  If you hate writing, it’s going to be a little painful for you in the beginning but I promise it gets easier.  Next week I will explain the best way to optimize your website.

Keeping the Passion for Graphic Design

Finally, I get it.

As graphic designers, we chose graphic design because we love aesthetics and visual arts. We love color, line and form. When we were kids in elementary school, many of us lived for two, one-hour art classes a week where we could lose ourselves in the creative process. We loved to push rules aside to create beautiful pictures (so we thought). We dreamed some day of being the next Salvador Dali, or even the next Leonardo (not Dicaprio), though we likely at the time had never heard of them.

Life happens and we make choices. We give up the aspirations of our youth to pursue success, or at least, an ability to feed our stomachs in lieu of feeding our souls. We strive to be successful based on societal norms and definitions, and hope to find a place where our talents can earn a living for ourselves, and if we are lucky enough, our families (if we chose that path). Compromises are made and some of us give up vocational art all together and pursue professional paths like sales, medicine or something even less exciting to pursue a living.

If you are like me, you may have even spent four (ahem, yeah right), years at a university only to discover you have no passion for your chosen field of study. You finish, and instead of pursuing a career congruent with your formal education, your career chooses you, and you find your way back into visual art through graphic design.

With the hope to contribute with my passion, I began my first career job as an entry-level graphic designer for a trade magazine in Santa Ana, California. From there I worked at a consumer lifestyle magazine in Laguna Beach, California, an ad agency in Costa Mesa, a marketing agency in Carlsbad, a web development company in San Clemente, self employed in Palm Coast, Florida and now again at a marketing/production agency in Daytona Beach, Florida. I have now been in the field of marketing and graphic design for… oh man (ugh)… 27 years.

I still enjoy the business, but I have learned a few things:

  1. YOUR design is not important. Good design is.
    • Let your manager, your peer or your subordinate take the glory if it is better, or even on par. “My way or the highway” is for buttheads.
    • If you think your idea is better, let it be known and why. But don’t get so passionate that it comes out as anger.
  2. Always be humble. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your marketing goals.
  3. Design should ALWAYS aim at achieving marketing goals.
    • Don’t be gratuitous with your graphics (even if they are really freakin’ cool).
  4. Feel free to let your visual inspiration direct copy if it works.
    • Copywriters often try to dictate concept without thinking about the graphical implications. This can be a dead end if the graphical goals are too expensive or unachievable.
  5. The simple solution is often the better solution.
    • Overthinking the design often ends in clutter, roadblocks and lost messages. When in doubt, go clean and simple.

It did not take me long to realize that I am not always the best at everything, or anything, I do. I have peaks of inspirations between expansive valleys of “just doing my job”, and that is OK. Learning to see inspiration and passion in others has become as important more important than stroking my own ego. I actually enjoy the success of others more than my own at times. At my best, I can go home and spend time with my family knowing that they are more important to me than my ego at work.

The Best Posts for Each Social Media Account

It’s a well-known fact that social media has become a crucial part of modern marketing. I don’t need to waste your time preaching this to you. We are constantly reading and hearing about the importance of being engaged on Facebook and Twitter to build our brand. Nobody, however, seems to have an answer for how exactly we should engage on these social networks.

“Make sure you are active on social media and post engaging content!” Okay great, but how exactly do I do this? After doing our own research on what works and what doesn’t when posting to social media, we have discovered the best ways to use each unique platform. The best way to get your page noticed and improve your fan engagement is to stand out. Post what others aren’t posting. People are always mindlessly scrolling through their feeds until they see something worthy of stopping and looking. Here are the best ways to accomplish this with each platform.

Facebook

For the average Facebook user, much of their News Feed will consist of status updates that feature just text with an occasional photo or video. To compete with these posts, it is important to be as visual as possible. Promoting a holiday sale or new offer should not just be a simple sentence. Create a nice visual like a photo or graphic that can go along with your text. The same goes for linking to an article or blog. Just including the URL link will not draw in a lot of eyes. Be sure the link includes a clickable image that users’ eyes will be drawn to.

LinkedIn

Typically, your LinkedIn feed will be filled with notifications that people have new connections, skills or jobs. If you follow “influencers” you are likely to see a large number of links to articles and maybe some infographics. Posting content similar to what your influencers post won’t nearly be enough. Mix it up! Throw in an update with just text to stand out from the rest. In our experience, updates with just text received the most attention of any other post type on LinkedIn. It’s possible that this is because too many links and articles can appear spammy. A post that is honest advice without being clickbait is refreshing to many LinkedIn users. Being visual is great but sometimes it’s necessary to change things up.

Twitter

For a business on Twitter, you must not lose sight of why people followed you in the first place. Most likely it was to learn more and not to be advertised to. Tweeting out informative bits like statistics or industry advice is a great way to earn favorites and retweets. Like all social networks, Twitter is flooded with links to try and earn click-throughs. Keep your followers guessing by posting different types of content on a regular basis. Links to your blog will be great for driving web traffic, but it will be the interesting and informative tweets that earn the most retweets and boost your visibility.

Check out our last post on product launches.

The Newest Penguin is in Town…and it’s Epic!

After nearly a two year wait, the newest penguin is in town! Google has updated their Penguin algorithm with its Penguin 4.0 release. Outside of the four main SEO concepts, Penguin plays a huge factor  in determining your page rankings.

This Penguin is Bigger and Better

Much like past versions, Penguin remains a unique, premium filter to punish sites that appear spammy. However, Penguin 4.0 now runs in real-time, which means the Penguin filter assesses the pages that Google recrawls and reindexes. Continue reading “The Newest Penguin is in Town…and it’s Epic!”

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is a challenge for any business.  It carries a high-risk, high-reward outcome. The high risks can result in damage control from an offended population (see the Miracle Mattress advertisement).  There have been some brilliant, high rewarding and inexpensive ideas that gained the attention of media, created views and helped brand resonation within its customer base.

All for Guerrilla Marketing, and Guerrilla Marketing for All?

Guerrilla marketing helps with:

  • Cost advantages – Typically, guerrilla marketing has low costs, which makes it appealing
  • Builds brand equity – Being recognized across different channels for a creative marketing campaign is always a plus
  • Lasting impressions – People appreciate unique and dynamic; it resonates your story and brand

Continue reading “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Guerrilla Marketing”