Solutions: Eye Catching Mailer

We were so excited about this mailer – it’s fun and eye catching and who wouldn’t open it to find out what’s inside….and then once they open it and are pulling the horse out ahead of the others. Sure to bring a smile and a response.

The envelope is just as important as what’s inside of it – and in some ways more important. You want to use every means to attract attention and encourage and entice the recipient to open up the envelope and find out what’s inside.

Don’t miss out on the chance to use this ‘real estate’ to your advantage!

Digital Cost to the Environment

Computer devices. Mobile phone, laptop, printer, camera and tablWho hasn’t gotten an email that says something like ‘think before you print’ in the footer? The paper industry has been an easy scapegoat for environmentally concerned folks needing to point the finger somewhere. It’s true…producing paper generally involves chopping down a tree. But is printing that email harming or potentially helping the environment?

Let’s look at that email for a moment. The energy you use at your desk sending an email is only a small part of the energy required for that email to reach its destination: Energy used by computers, servers, routers, cellular networks, and data centers around the world; energy to view, store, forward, and delete messages; energy used to produce those digital devices.

That energy comes from somewhere! Digital media is in large part dependent on coal powered electricity. Mountaintop removal coal mining is decimating forests – entire mountains – in Appalachia, destroying woodland habitats, burying headwaters, and releasing toxins and dust into the air.

Computers, cellular networks, and data centers use a tremendous amount of electricity. Cloud storage sounds light and ephemeral, but are actually huge data centers that require energy to power – in climate controlled spaces. Annual global data center energy usage is 1.5 times the yearly energy usage of New York City!

Now let’s talk about paper. It is the most recycled material in use in the U.S. Up to 65% of the energy used in pulp and paper mills is generated from renewable sources. Much of the wood used for paper in the U.S. comes from privately owned tree farms where trees are sustainably grown and harvested.

Almost every component of the tree is used – the bark and branches are burned providing a renewable energy source, the ash is used for construction materials, pulping and paper-making produces turpentine and adhesives, and the residual fibers are used for mulch and animal bedding.

Neither industry is good or bad – both have work to do to improve sustainability.

How China’s New Green Policies Impact Your Life

republic-lv-recycling-facility-workersHave you ever wondered where our recyclables end up? Until the first of January 2018, the answer by and large was China. Nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables left U.S. ports EVERY DAY. And those same ships returned to the U.S. filled with consumer products made in China.

In 2017, China announced their ‘National Sword’ policy as part of a larger Green initiative to lower pollution levels. The new policy, effective January 1, 2018, bans 24 types of solid waste including certain plastics and unsorted mixed papers.

Since we’re a printing company, we’re mostly interested in what China’s been doing with all that paper. The answer is, they’ve been cleaning it and sending it back to the U.S. as paper pulp that is then turned back into graphic paper and cardboard.

U.S. mills are not set up for processing unsorted mixed paper and recyclers are scrambling to find other markets to partner with including Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and South Korea. None of those countries is interested in the same level of import, creating a global supply-demand imbalance which has driven down prices to recyclers – plummeting to $5 from $97.50 a ton in recent months.

Part of the problem is the contamination levels of this waste – including the grease on pizza boxes and food and chemical residue left in bottles (note to self – rinse and dry those bottles and cans before putting them in recycling!). Recycling facilities in the U.S. sort through recyclables to eliminate as much contamination as possible, but the level they can achieve is no longer acceptable. And so, this waste is piling up with nowhere to go.

What does this mean for us? With less paper pulp coming from recycled waste, we are anticipating both a paper shortage and an increase in the price of paper. We are working with our suppliers to make sure we have enough paper on hand and they, in turn, have asked us to help them by anticipating our paper needs and putting requests in as far in advance as possible. As your printing partner, we’ll be doing all we can to minimize impacts by working with you to plan your projects with an eye to availability and price. We’ll keep you posted as the situation unfolds!

5 Fundraising Ideas to Consider

checkbook5 Fundraising Ideas to Consider

Fundraising is one of the most important aspects of managing a non-profit — if not the most important. Nevertheless, donors can become fatigued, especially if they are constantly being solicited. Creating unique, fun, and friendly fundraising ideas is the best way to keep your community engaged so the money keeps coming in and your services can continue to be provided. Here are just a few unique fundraising ideas — don’t be afraid to get creative!

1. Create a Multi-Level Fundraiser

Multi-level marketing is nearly always a terrible idea, but a multi-level fundraiser can be a great way to grow your fan base. Encourage your volunteers and employees to “recruit” others under them and reward them appropriately for the money they raise. Turn it into a contest: the person who is able to make the most money for the non-profit and get the most people underneath them wins a prize. Multi-level fundraisers encourage everyone to participate, even though they may not be able to donate much, as they may be able to win simply by signing others up for the program rather than having to donate themselves. Even having donors pledging a dollar a month gets them in your database and keeps your organization front of mind. You never know where it might lead.

2. Have Volunteers Sell a Service

Send your volunteers out to mow lawns, wash cars, or perform other services in the name of your non-profit. This is a great way to invigorate the community, do something memorable, and raise money — especially for specific projects. Try to tie in your services to the project you’re fund raising for; for instance, you might do laundry in order to help get clothes for kids. You can even involve local businesses if you need equipment or space. Have your volunteers wear branded t-shirts to give more visibility to your organization!

3. Get Involved With Social Media

Many non-profits today are building up their donations through YouTube channels and other social media accounts. Connect with your community by building up media that is directly related to the social work that your organization does and its results. Not only will this cause engagement, but you may actually be able to fund raise through these social media channels themselves. Social media platforms such as YouTube let you monetize your channels, so you make money every time your videos are viewed.

4. Offer Your Community a Paid Experience

Need more volunteers? Instead of simply putting a call out for volunteers, ask donors to pay for the experience of working with your non-profit. Of course, everyone will know that it’s really a donation; but there are certain things that people truly never do experience, such as working with shelter animals or cleaning up a river. Many people would love to pay for a unique experience that they can also then write off as a charitable donation. Getting this type of emotional connection between your donors and your organization’s work is priceless. Make sure to capture lots of photos and testimonials – and make sure donors leave with remembrances of the day and your organization. T-shirts and other promotional products can’t be beat as take-homes. They will be great reminders of the fun day and the great work your organization does.

5. Host a Low Rent Event

Is your non-profit constantly hosting gala after gala? Take the fundraising down a notch by hosting a decidedly informal and affordable event. Casual dress paired with something a bit offbeat such as an afternoon tea, a hot dog roast, or Oreo cookie flavor sampling will give your donors something unique to talk about – and more money will go to your cause.

Fundraising is both an art and a science and requires a lot of creativity and innovation to be effective. Thinking a bit out of the box when it comes to ideas will breathe life into your efforts and keep attention focused on what’s really important – the good work you are doing. We love talking with our customers about different ideas and the best way to get the word out. Give us a call!

Promotional Products – a history

pensDid you ever wonder how it all began? All these promotional products? There is speculation that cave paintings may have been advertisements and cave people may have inscribed identifying information on their tools – but chances are they were not walking around with freebies emblazoned with logos and tag lines!

It was the 1800’s that saw the development of what we generally think of as promotional products or advertising specialties (although George Washington’s campaign buttons in 1789 are often cited as the first promotional product in the US). It was the Industrial Revolution with its rise in manufacturing and business that made it possible.

The story is that Jasper Meek of Coshocton, OH owned a weekly newspaper and was looking for extra work for his presses. One day in 1886 he watched a school child drop their books in the mud and had an idea. He proposed to a local shoe store that they give out burlap book bags printed with the store’s logo with every shoe purchase. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Other early promotional products include beautifully illustrated bookmarks during the Victorian Era with ads on the back for a wide variety of products; Adolphus Busch sent his beer salespeople out with branded corkscrews and pocket knives; and though the first bobblehead dates back to 1842, it was not until the 1920’s that the New York Knicks had the idea to turn it into a promotional product. The bobblehead may have heralded the era of less utilitarian promotional products…

Today there are over 25,000 products to choose from – and we are here to help you navigate through the process. There quite literally is something for everyone and every price point.

Solutions: Lapel pins

They might be called lapel pins, but these pins can also be affixed to bags, ties, caps, straps, backpacks, lapels and more. They come in a wide variety of sizes and materials – soft and hard enamel, metallic and non-metallic coatings, 3D, embellished, and more! Even though historically lapel pins are made with, well, pins, they also come with magnets so they can be used on delicate fabrics.

Pins like this are a great way to show support for a cause, identify employees, express personalities, and more. They also make great collectors items!

Get more for your mailings

We are big fans of direct mail – obviously! Even apart from being printers, we’re big fans of direct mail. More than ever, direct mail is the best way to get attention to your message.

It’s true that e-mail marketing is ‘free’ – no printing and no postage, which admittedly do cost money. All of the research points to the fact that if you want your message to be received, having something on paper that your audience is touching, posting on their fridge, and passing on to friends is the way to go. Don’t stop your digital efforts, but make sure print and direct mail are in the mix.

Here are a few tricks to get the most from your mailing dollars:

  • Make sure your mailing is eye catching. Use graphics, images, and color to catch attention and highlight your message.
  • Consider adding texture or 3D. Anything that engages the senses is going to increase the chances of your mailing piece getting looked at, and who can resist the curiosity of finding out what’s in a lumpy envelope?!
  • Have a clear message and call to action. Minimize text to what’s absolutely necessary to get your message across – and repeat it more than once! Also, make sure to tell the reader what you want them to do – whether it’s to call you, check out your website, save 25% using this code, buy this item, etc.
  • Make sure you have a good list. One of the things that makes direct mail so effective is how specifically you can target to the demographic that is right for your business. We can help you create a great list!
  • Clean up your list. Don’t waste paper and postage sending to people who are no longer at the address in your list. We have software that updates mailing addresses and even checks the spelling and makes sure the address is in the best format to USPS delivery.
  • Size and weight determines postage. Maximize your size within the parameters for a letter size mailing  – 6″ x 10.5″. Larger than that could double your postage costs. Also, keep in mind that there are also restrictions on weight and thickness that will affect costs.

Bring us in early in your planning. We’re mailing experts and will help you get the best results possible for your mailing.

 

2018 Postage Increase

chart-increasingWhenever the USPS announces a rate increase, the first reaction inevitably is furor. How dare they!? It seems like every time we turn around they are increasing postage rates. Once the furor settles, our rational brains can understand that the beleaguered post office is dealing with increasing costs and decreasing revenue which may or may not be within their control.

This one seems like a big one, even though it’s a one cent increase, as it breaks a psychological barrier crossing over to 50 cents for a first class Forever stamp. There are also increases in metered letters, postcards, and packages.


Credit: USPS

The USPS has a number of things to point to as reasons for the rate hike. Increases in vehicle energy costs, decreases in first class usage, and increases in health care costs are some of the issues.

Interestingly, China, with one of the lowest postage rates in the world (18 cents in 2011), may hold some responsibility for the USPS woes and thus the rate hike. If you’ve ever wondered how sellers in China can be selling items on eBay and Amazon for 88 cents with free shipping, it starts with a quirk in an international treaty.

There is an international treaty overseen by an agency of the United Nations that allows for countries to be compensated for their leg of an international letter or package’s journey. For example, an individual in Morocco will pay their post office to send a package from Casablanca to Cleveland. The Moroccan postal authority gets it to the US and then the USPS takes over and gets the item to Cleveland.

Countries used to do this ‘forwarding’ for free, until 1969 when a treaty was put in place calling for small fees to be charged to the originating postal authority. These fees are less than what US postal customers are being charged (in 2014, the USPS was charging about $1.50 for a one pound package which costs a US postal customer a minimum of $7).

In 2010, the USPS entered into a deal with China’s postal service to increase their presence in Asia and get in on the e-commerce train. The service is called ePacket and offers tracking (required for e-commerce) at a reduced rate as well as the already reduced postage. US businesses involved in e-commerce simply can’t compete with these prices. Between 2011 and 2012, China nearly tripled the number of packages sent to the US, from 9.5 million to 26.8 million.

According to a 2014 report by the Postal Service’s Inspector General’s office, the USPS lost $29.4 million in 2012 alone due to the cost of delivering ePacket mail at these reduced rates. And the kicker is that it doesn’t work in the opposite direction, which is part of how Chinese businesses are benefiting. In order to get a refund on that malfunctioning item you received for $2.99 or $7.99 or $14.99 with free shipping, you’d have to pay $30 or more to send it back.

Of course, we could be living in Norway where a first class domestic stamp cost $1.46 in 2011.

Solutions – gift fulfillment

Whether you are sending gifts to a list of 15, 150, or more, we can take all of the logistics off your plate and make the process as smooth as possible. We’ve put together gift packages of everything from specially branded wine bottles to tiny bottles of Tabasco to different ad specialties.

This particular customer wanted to send candles as a holiday gift. Once we knew the size of the candle, we were able to design a box to ship it in which would both highlight the candle and keep it safe as it travels through the mail system.

Add in labels and greeting cards as well as all of the steps involved in preparing a mailing – our team put the packages all together, allowing our client to do what they do best… run their business.

Best Business Card Advice

business-card-handingBusiness cards. People were predicting they were going to be long gone with the advent of smartphone apps that store contact information at a tap of the finger. But they were wrong. Business cards are still a key way of sharing your contact information – and often provide that super important first impression. Here are some tips to get the most out of this marketing tool:

Have someone else look at them before you print. Typos are easy to miss when you are looking at information that is second nature to you – we tend to just assume it’s correct. It’s also easy to overlook some key information. Having someone you know to be detail oriented is your best bet – and someone who won’t have a problem saying something like “are you sure you don’t want your phone number on your card!”

Make sure the graphics are eye catching and, even more importantly, in focus! For this you’re going to need to make a printout so you can see if the logo or other graphics are fuzzy. This is a good idea regardless, since it’s easy to miss something when you are looking at it on a screen.

Don’t make it too crowded. Our eyes like open/white space. It makes it easier to see and take in the information that is there. Get their attention with a small amount of information well presented – and then you can fill in the rest when you meet for coffee.
Be careful with your fonts. You want to make sure the text is big enough to read. You also want to make sure it’s readable. Even though script fonts are fun, use them wisely!

Make it a bit unusual. Remember this is often the first impression someone gets of you and your business or organization (unless, of course, you are the one handing it to them!). There are easy ways to make them a bit more noticeable.

  • Change the orientation. Most cards are designed horizontally. It’s not the law! A vertical orientation can be just the difference that helps your card stand out.
  • Add a texture. Touch is an important sense in creating connection – and connection is what you are after. There are many different textures available, you’re sure to find one that feels just right to you.
  • Add color! Printing on colored paper can be very effective as can flooding the paper with color. You don’t want to use too many colors, but using a color or two that either ties in with your logo or makes your logo really stand out can really make a difference.

Use both sides of the card. Since you have the paper, we recommend you have it work for you. It’s a good idea to have the most important information together on one side – but the second side can be used to complement and continue your message. Your logo and tag line is a simple but very effective addition.

These are a few things to keep in mind to have your business card work for you. Don’t be afraid to stand out a bit. You want people to remember you – and putting a bit of extra thought into your business card will truly pay off.  We’re always happy to look over what you have and give our suggestions.