Let’s talk color and connected paper

In design news, every January unveils the color of the year. For the first time, Pantone® introduced two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as their Color of the Year 2016. (FYI: Pantone is the standard language for color communication. It gives designers, printers, and clients a way to discuss color and have an accurate description. If you have heard me say “What’s your ‘PMS’ color?” that is referring to Pantone’s color system. I explain color breakdown here.) But how does the color of the year affect your organization? Do you need to incorporate new colors into your marketing? The short answer is “No.” You definitely want to stay on brand with your corporate colors. But it’s nice to know what is trending for the year. The color of the year represents more than color, it’s the mood of consumers and that in itself is helpful for your marketing. For example, Pantone suggests that “Consumers are seeking mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent.” Knowing this, you might choose a different premium to offer in your next direct mail package or giving campaign. Or with that in mind, the food and music at your next gala will reflect this vibe. So whether or not you agree with Pantone for the colors they awarded 2016, it does make you stop and think. Last Fall Moo.com launched Business Cards+. It’s pretty cool, it has an NFC chip embedded in it that enables NFC chip reading mobile devices, currently Android and Windows phones, the ability to tap the card and bring up content. What content? Anything from donation pages and signup forms from your website to videos and music. This isn’t just a business card. I see this as a way to increase donor engagement. Imagine having a place card for each guest at your gala? They tap the card with their phone and it shows them a video of your mission or perhaps you want them to land on a survey. The possibilities are limitless, check out their video. What do you...

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Thank you, here is a handy little branding guide…

Most of the year we are focused on serving and growing the missions of our various businesses and organizations. And while we are still wrapping up year-end content, there is time to reflect and connect with the people we work with. Whether you celebrate Chanukah or Christmas, I want to say, thank you and wish you a wonderful holiday season! In case you missed it, here is a link to my “Visual Identity Guide for nonprofits”. I created this back in the spring, it’s a helpful resource for...

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Size matters, so does your lighting…

This month I want to talk sizes and the importance of knowing if everything can fit in your envelope. I was working on an end-of-year appeal and the client wanted to add an extra insert. Their printer said to go with 9.5″x5″. As you know, everyone mistypes from time to time, and nobody is perfect (including me). Obviously, a 9.5″ wide insert will not fit in an A-10 envelope which is also 9.5″ wide. The max your insert should be is 9.25″ wide, and most printers would prefer the insert be 9″ wide so there’s a .5″ clearance. If I hadn’t checked, we would have created an insert that needed resizing before it prints. Not the end of the world, but it’s more time and work – and it’s often a tight deadline. That’s why attention to details as well as great design matter. Another topic that comes to mind is photographing premiums. It was in an Instagram class with my colleague, Evi Abeler, food photographer extraordinaire, that I learned about a cool, little tool called Foldio. It’s perfect to use for all those premiums that you promote in your donor campaigns. Often new premiums arrive without a photo and you quickly shoot it with your phone. Right? But the lighting is never right, the background is too busy, and silhouetting takes time. Sure, Photoshop can work wonders, but everything takes longer (and is more difficult) than planned. That’s why I’ll be buying a Foldio. You can buy it and stash it in your office or send the premium my way and I’ll shoot it in mine. It will really make the product...

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5 tips to help non-profits navigate social media

This month I was speaking with my colleague, Andrea Bonilla, who works as a Social Media Strategist and Trainer. She helps non-profit organizations steer through the realm of social media and determines how to best apply it for their needs. It can be tough navigating which platform to use and without a dedicated staff person, overwhelming. I asked her if she had some insights she could share and Andrea happily delivered. Know your audience. Parents? Women in the 24-40 age range? Grandparents? Knowing who your audience is allows you to pick what network(s) you should focus on (and will improve your overall marketing efforts). Then use your target audience to determine what social media networks you should focus on.  Create a focus. Unless you have one or more staff members solely dedicated to social media, you should focus on one or two social networks and do those well. Create consistency that your audience will want to keep coming back to. Don’t try to experiment and then be inconsistent. Plan, plan, plan. Social media can be time-consuming yet there are many tools that allow you to schedule it (Hootsuite, Buffer, Tweetdeck, SproutSocial to name a few). Research those tools and utilize them. Schedule the majority of your posts and then you’ll need minimal time on a daily basis to check in and/or post last minute newsworthy items. Be visual. Social media is VISUAL. Utilize images and videos that will keep your audience engaged. **Note: please respect copyright laws. Ask for help. Social media is changing every day. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and/or research online as you try to navigate the ropes to best adapt it for your business or...

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Paper Inspires

What’s missing from digital? Touch, that’s where paper makes the difference. This month I was researching paper stocks for an upcoming project. The paper mills have beautiful examples on how to use their product line. Plenty of inspiration using foil stamping, die-cutting, embossing, and spot varnishes. These techniques are beautiful and if your budget allows, add a special wow factor, but you don’t need them to make an impact. Short runs (under 2,500) using textured stocks can showcase your event in a sophisticated way without breaking the bank. I called Neenah Papers to see how well they print on digital presses, which are often the most cost-effective on short runs. The good news is they run well and you can use different finishes or textures within one piece and have it really stand out. Why print? A well-designed mailing or invitation engages your audience. It feels special, literally. Touch is the added sense you miss out on with digital and web-based content. While perusing the paper samples, I was delighted. It got me thinking how nice it is to get a card in the mail, a beautiful hang tag on a t-shirt or beautiful packaging from a delivery. A note from my colleague, Maralyn Dolan, of Integrated Printing & Graphics was fabulous, especially her last line: “What’s old is new again – want to get noticed? Think print…” I couldn’t agree...

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Why Do Nonprofits Need PR?

I asked my colleague, Julie Livingston, President of Livingston PR (livingstonpr.com) to guest blog this month. I wanted you to better understand another piece of the marketing puzzle. She graciously agreed. Thanks Julie! When I started my public relations consultancy – which serves nonprofits, associations, and business – people would ask, “why do nonprofits and associations need PR?” Nonprofits, like other organizations, must raise visibility for their groups by positioning themselves as leaders in their field. They must consistently and strategically engage key stakeholders, such as donors or sponsors, the media, partners, government groups and others in a way that keeps them top of mind, particularly to fuel their fundraising efforts. A well-executed, strategic public relations program can make the difference in how a nonprofit achieves their goals or falls desperately short due to lack of awareness, positive recognition, and support. Race to Stand Out Although it seems odd to talk about the competitiveness of the nonprofit sector – because nonprofits pride themselves on collaboration – the fact is that today nonprofits are competing heavily for media attention, grants, and importantly, donor support. There are thousands of worthy nonprofits, but how will yours get the attention it deserves? These days, nonprofits must think more like for-profit businesses. Identifying their unique selling points, aggressively recognizing and staying abreast of the competition and communicating regularly. As much as we might wish it were less cutthroat, in this world, there are just not enough resources to go around. When implemented properly, public relations are a highly effective marketing tool that emphasizes a nonprofit’s mission, organizational goals and success stories. Donor Halo Although nonprofit donors may come from a place of wanting to “do good” they also want the halo effect that comes from giving to an organization that is positively portrayed and visible in the public eye. Through PR, organizations can showcase the good things they are doing, and connect to supporters with like-minded missions without being self-serving as in advertising. Strategy Drives Success Unfortunately, all too often, nonprofits conduct a series of loosely connected – or unconnected – communications activities to drive immediate goals. Proactively executing an overarching communications strategy that maintains consistent messaging at every touch point is far more effective in achieving long-term objectives and creating a distinctive, enduring reputation for an organization. A coordinated public relations effort will not only help to define and promote a nonprofits’ unique story and value to the communities it serves, it will drive the awareness and financial support it needs to survive and...

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