A Sound Investment
Flesh Co offers sample kits specific to nonprofits as a way to help distributors understand the different print opportunities. For a more educational approach, distributors are encouraged to take advantage of the company’s blog and online training tools, like webinars. “Distributors wishing [for] more in-depth discussion can [also] request an onsite lunch-and-learn session with one of our sales managers,” Buck added.
Buck said that while distributors can expect to see some changes in the nonprofit sector this year, Flesh Co anticipates “more of the same.” He explained that there are generally two primary components to a nonprofit campaign: the donation request and the donor thank you. “The request may utilize pre-addressed address labels as a gift to the donor to drive response rates,” he mentioned. “Integrated cards are a large part of the market as most groups reply to a donation with some printed form of ‘supporting member’ identification.
“It may be for the support to a zoo, theater or college alumni,” Buck continued. “This would follow the donor request stage and can also include other items, such as parking decals, hang tags or other supporter identification.”
The Selling Process
When asked how the selling process differs for the nonprofit sector compared to other major verticals, Buck stressed the importance of understanding the client’s goals. The distributor should also understand that some of the goals may have related pain points. “Campaign control costs, increasing response rate and raising donations are all critical areas for a nonprofit,” Buck said. “Understanding where the group is today and where it wants to be needs to be in the first conversation.”
This means asking thoughtful questions. Find out about the prospect’s past efforts. Did it work for the organization—why or why not? “It’s not unlike dealing with any sales-driven (donor, in this case) organization,” Buck said. “The client will be keen to costs of campaign, lead (donor) generation, response rate and lifetime customer (donor) value.”
While there may be trade show opportunities that call for booth graphics and promotional items, mailings are the norm. This is where distributors can impress with their design skills in order to help nonprofits deliver effective messaging to the right audience. Buck explained that distributors can assist in segmenting the current donor base into demographics, including gender, age and household income. Those findings can then be applied to any prospecting database acquired on behalf of the nonprofit. Distributors can use this same information to tailor the request message, graphics and donor request amount to ensure the most relevant request reaches the most appropriate targets, Buck said.
He offered an example. “If the nonprofit’s past donor records showed women donate more than men, and especially women with children, then any mailing directed at a female should have images of kids and a higher donation request,” Buck insisted. “This request may show amounts of $25, $50 or $100, while a donation-request letter sent to a single male might show $15, $25 or $50, as the records showed men donate less. The database analytics, list acquisition, message and graphic development are all areas where distributors can charge for the value they are bringing to the table.”
Distributors also can help nonprofits control print costs by offering integrated cards and labels. “Many groups issue thick plastic cards to members and, when you think about it, most of the cards may rarely get presented and are replaced annually,” Buck said. “So, these are ideal applications for integrated card designs.”
It’s no secret that financial institutions have had to work extra hard to repair their tainted public personas from recessionary fallout. With budget heads giving the green light for extra spending, organizations have been returning to tried-and-true promotional items, like pens and squeeze balls, as a way to increase customer loyalty and gain extra exposure. “Fewer and fewer entities in this marketplace means spending needs to be sharper and more focused than ever before,” remarked Bill Mahre, president of ADG Promotional Products, Hugo, Minn. “It doesn’t have to be large-dollar items or the latest and greatest thing, but it does have to enhance their branding position and message.”
ADG Promotional Products offers a variety of financial market staples—from writing instruments and planners to travel mugs and key chains. In addition, the company website is home to actual distributor presentations for the financial sector, along with other key verticals for the curious reseller.
Professionals in the financial sector may be more sensitive to an item’s return on investment, but they also understand that solid marketing efforts come with a handsome reward. Huntington Bank is a perfect example. In November, Promo Marketing, the sister publication of Print+Promo, reported on the success of the Columbus, Ohio-based bank’s 2010 rebranding campaign. Hoping to create a “welcoming” image, the bank’s strategy involved unchaining and giving away its pens. As a result of that decision, Huntington Bank estimated that it has given away nearly 32 million Huntington Bank pens to date. Mary Navarro, Huntington Bank’s senior executive vice president and retail and business banking director, even has spotted the bank’s green and black pens as far as Spain and Costa Rica.
From a demand standpoint, Mahre said that blue ink stylus pens will continue to enjoy success in 2016. “Blue ink [is] needed for financial document signings and [these are] easy marketing tools that are very cost-effective,” he noted. “The ability to personalize items also is very important since financial institutions don’t just want generic items, but the opportunity to target down to a specific person or company.”
The Selling Process
There are certain things distributors should know before calling upon financial prospects. Mahre said that even the largest institutions have significant marketing budgets on a local and/or regional basis. “Mostly due to differing laws and regulations by state, many of the decisions are made by local people trying to integrate themselves in each respective community,” he mentioned. “... The key is still to find the major decision-makers and ask questions as to what is important, what message is critical to be positioned with their client base and what type of events are they supporting in the community.”
Also, be prepared to answer questions. According to Mahre, these professionals want to know more than the item’s cost; they expect distributors to communicate the entire project’s cost. “Their financial acumen allows them to understand that having a low-priced item might not be ideal if shipping, rush charges, set-up fees and other miscellaneous costs add significantly to the bottom line,” Mahre said.
Finally, help them solve problems. Mahre cited inconsistent branding as a common challenge. Distributors can use this as an opportunity to shine. “We have seen a number of financial institutions that use similar brand layouts and messages on writing instruments, planners, calendars, etc.,” he said. “Simple, but very cost-effective when you constantly deliver the same look from a brand and message standpoint.”