Custom donor publications still relevant in digital age

You’ve probably been told that printed, custom newsletters or magazines targeted to your donors are old school.  Or maybe your governing board wants to save money and encourages the use of Facebook or e-newsletters as your mode of communication instead. After all, they’re free, so why not?

The first step before creating any marketing materials or custom publications is defining your audience. Who do you want to reach? What action do you want them to take after reading?  Depending on your target audience, Facebook or an e-newsletter might be an appropriate part of your mix but keep in mind that social media is often most popular among young audiences whose pockets might not yet be very deep. If that’s your target audience, go for it. Otherwise, you might want to consider a more traditional mode of delivery, like a donor publication.

The Value of Donor Publications

Donor publications are in fact not dead and if done right, they can provide an ongoing mechanism to:

  • Recognize donor gifts
  • Profile key donors and why they give
  • Recognize sponsors and special event participants
  • Announce upcoming events
  • Educate donors about your organization
  • Supplement your “ask” materials for new donor meetings
  • Tell stories of how donations make a difference in people’s lives
  • Introduce and recognize employees and staff
  • Provide a regular reminder or vehicle to encourage gifts
  • Recognize board members to help with retention and recruitment
  • Provide a sense of community among your donors

 

A current client of ours recently sent out an e-newsletter to thousands of donors. Nearly 75% went unopened. The same client sends out a quarterly custom publication and inevitably gets a good response with remittance envelopes. That’s not to say one is better than the other, but for this client, custom publications are their sweet spot. The downside may be the cost of the investment, but you might find that the return on investment is well worth it.

A past client explains it this way:

“Through our custom donor publication we are able to keep 10,000 of our supporters informed about critical advancements each month.  This continued outreach has recently resulted in a $300,000 gift from a former patient. While this is one of our larger gifts, each quarter many supporters contribute funds ranging from several dollars to thousands of dollars. This outreach effort has resulted in a better informed, more engaged and knowledgeable community, which in turn continually increases their financial support.”

Consider outsourcing for good results

Maybe you have the talent to create a publication in house, maybe not. Oftentimes, newsletters are tacked on to someone’s job. The boss says, “Hey, you’re pretty good with computers, why don’t you be in charge of newsletter?” The end result is often more amateur than professional. It’s not that the staff member has poor intentions; it’s that they already have a primary role in the organization.

Worse yet, if the newsletter looks unprofessional and disorganized, it projects that image of your organization to your donors. The last thing you want is for them to view you as not having things together. After all, they might think, “If they are disorganized and unprofessional, will they be able to handle my money well?”

Maybe your primary organization’s internal marketing or communications staff could help?  Yes, they certainly have the talent; but again, is it their priority to help the foundation’s mission? Usually their

first priority is the key organization and your work falls to the bottom of the list. The quality and timeliness of your publication is the first to be bumped when more important projects present themselves. Then you are back to where you started — a publication that is no longer timely or effective.

It is vital that your custom publication be interesting, relevant, professional, timely and in alignment with your organization’s brand.

To do it right, consider outsourcing to a marketing firm or syndicated publisher. While you could go with the latter to purchase a canned publication, where part of your contract is a customized cover and perhaps interior spread, you’ll sacrifice it feeling “custom” for your audience. For example, you might end up with photos of the Florida coastline when your organization resides in the mountains of Colorado.

A better route would be to hire a marketing firm that can create custom content, produce relevant images, and establish a consistent, professional look-and-feel for your publication on a set (and honored) schedule.  A firm like this is usually very motivated to keep you on task and will provide a turnkey product that has an impact with your donors.

If you’re intrigued, give us a call. Creating custom publications for foundations is something we do regularly, with good results.

 

3Lynn Nichols, Content Manager

Lynn enjoys the challenge of creating custom publications that create results and engage donors. 


Wrangling your reputation when things go awry 

You’ve likely heard of reputation management, or its virtual cousin, online reputation management or ORM. Reputation management aims to limit the amount of damage caused by an unfortunate incident by taking active steps to avoid a foreseeable problem. Or, to cool a situation down once it occurs. The hope, of course, is that your reputation will not sustain lasting damage. And it won’t, if you do it right.

How a business or organization responds to controversy tells a lot about their brand. Think about your business as a person. If you get it wrong, are criticized, or make a public error, do you get defensive and deny it or ignore that it’s happening? Or do you show your human side, and:

  1. Own it
  2. Apologize for it
  3. Tell why it won’t happen again

At Jet, we believe in taking the human approach to rep management. While people might still be upset, they’ll appreciate that you took the high road and owned your mistake and are willing to change, thereby keeping your integrity—and your reputation—intact.

Here’s a real live example of this playing out. Jackie, our beloved leader, recently ordered a dress for a special occasion from Nordstrom Rack. While usually prompt, this time things went wrong. Here’s the email she received. They followed Jet’s 3 rep management steps to a T:

I am truly sorry, Jackie. Why you are seeing what you are seeing is that we are experiencing some delays in our shipping. (1. Own it) I fully understand your pain and frustration with the delay, this was a very embarrassing situation for us to be in. (2. Apologize for it) Because of this embarrassment, we are directing all of our resources to repair the current backlog, as well as make sure that we are planning better for the future. We want to make sure that you will never have to worry about our ability to ship your orders in a timely fashion again. (3. Tell why it won’t happen again)

Our 3 steps apply mostly to errors and problems, so we employ other rep management techniques—such as being up front, honest and inclusive, responding quickly, and softening the blow with good prep work—in other situations.

At Jet, we help our clients with rep management on an ongoing basis. We’ve helped troubleshoot data breaches, cool down public outcry on dollars spent, unify employees around new names and logos, instill confidence after past errors, and prepare neighbors for new development projects.

Here are three examples:

New look, simplified

One of our clients had the same logo and look & feel since they opened in the 80s. Leaders were hesitant to make a change for fear the public or employees of this small town wouldn’t like it or see it as necessary. We helped them succeed by including employees in planning the public open house that unveiled the new look, and by holding a pre-event for employees—with special gifts bearing the new logo—before the public open house began. At the employee event, we included a FAQ on why the new look was needed, how it better reflected who they were today, and how it was paid for out of the general budget. We also included a talking points sheet for employees to use with the public to explain the change. This meant the message would be consistent. By being upfront about the need for the change and softening the blow by including employees in the process, the transition was not only smooth, but fun. Giving out teddy bears to the first 100 kids who came didn’t hurt, either.

Videos pave the way

One of our larger hospitals is located in an area where the economy is down. With many people out of work, it seemed a bad time for the hospital to spend money on renovations, but

they were sorely needed. The patient rooms had not been updated for 30 years and were small, outdated and ill-equipped. At the same time, hospital leaders were receiving feedback from surveys that the hospital spent money unnecessarily. To shift that reputation, and to bring home the need for the renovations, the hospital included patients and employees in the design of the new rooms. We proposed creating videos to run on their website, at events, and also as clips on social media sites that showed employees and patients explaining the need. Doing so created buy in by showing the human side of the project—hearing friends and neighbors tell how the renovations improved care and comfort for patients.

Data breach, bettered

Another client experienced a data breach which became public. We got the call after hours, but we were able to talk through our 3 steps, and provided language to use in response to social media posts—recommending they respond to each and every email received. We also recommended a temporary hotline for people to call and ask questions and talk through concerns.

Hopefully you won’t find yourself in need for rep management anytime soon, but if you do, apply Jet’s 3 steps or give us a call for help.

 

 


3Lynn Nichols, Copywriter, Publication Specialist

Lynn once sent her ‘out of office’ message to everyone on her email list by mistake. She managed this error with a red face, a follow-up apology, a sleepless night and a vow to never set an ‘out of office’ message again.


The “always” in customer satisfaction

Being from Northern Colorado, I love the Human Bean coffee shop. Here’s why:

  • Their coffee drinks are consistently good
  • The staff is always friendly
  • They have drive-up service
  • I get a chocolate covered espresso bean on top, every time
  • They back up this goodness by donating generously to community causes

My Human Bean visits are a consistently positive experience. As marketers, we know that brand consistency builds brand loyalty. I’d add that brand sincerity does, too.

What do I mean by brand sincerity? They walk their talk. They don’t promise one thing and do another. They don’t fake a smile when they hand you your coffee to hide the stress they feel when cars are piling up behind you. They don’t give to various local causes simply to boost their marketing efforts. They don’t forget to make you feel special by placing that bonus bean on top.

Brand sincerity is a tricky thing, because you have to leave a positive impression every time you touch a customer, from the front door to the final transaction. The 17586583_1659281251047525_2502153972765163520_noutcome–that great cup of coffee–is most important, but customers decide who you are every step of the way. If you hit the mark each time, they’re yours to keep.

If you are in healthcare like many of our clients at Jet Marketing, you know consistency can be hard to achieve when a patient experiences 10 to 20 interactions in just one visit. Consider how many chances you have to be less than perfect: A patient sets an appointment, walks through the door, is greeted, sees a nurse or medical technician, sees a doctor, gets lab tests or imaging scans, gets a treatment plan, receives care instructions, checks out, receives a follow up call with results…and that’s all from one doctor visit. Imagine a hospital stay.

One grumpy interaction with staff or missed step along the way can result in a “usually” rather than an “always” on the HCAHPS patient satisfaction survey where healthcare customers rank their satisfaction on a scale of never, sometimes, usually and always. The only answer that generates full federal reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare for hospitals and clinics is “always,” the most desired box to check on the survey–hence, hospitals thrive or nosedive by their Top Box results.

How can a hospital that has dozens of outlying clinics and a long list of services deliver top care consistently? How can they maintain brand sincerity when so many fingers are in the patient pie? Here are some ideas:

  1. Choose a motto and give it meaning with action.

    For example, our client Campbell County Health in Gillette, Wyoming chose “Excellence Every Day” which they’ve integrated into their daily team huddles and process improvement efforts.

    Provide scripting for front-end staff, technicians and nurses.

  2. Regardless of what facility your patients call, they get the same greeting and warm response. Some of our hospitals have employed the acronym AIDIT, which stands for Acknowledge (by looking in their eyes, calling them by name), Introduce (say your name and what you will be doing for them), Duration (if there is a wait, tell them how long), Explanation (explain the procedure) and Thank you (for choosing us, for calling).
  3. Enlist volunteers to greet your patients at the front door and offer to walk them to their destination.

    Our client Montrose Memorial Hospital did this with excellence on our first visit–complete with a charming older gentlemen who linked arms with us and walked us to the marketing director’s door.Always Blog graphic

  4. Educate patients they will be receiving a patient satisfaction survey and ask them to fill it out.

    While you can’t ask patients to respond with an “always,” you can let them know you want to hear their feedback, and that it helps you improve and makes a difference with federal funding. With that said, don’t let the HCAHPs survey be the end-all goal. Patients are savvy. They recognize when staff are insincerely nice just to get good scores. At the end of the day, an “always” is achieved by consistent, genuine and positive experiences that create loyal customers who are convinced you are great and expect nothing less. In other words, they trust you to deliver that delicious bean on top.

 

3Lynn Nichols, Copywriter, Publication Specialist

Around the office, our copywriter has earned the facetious nickname of “Dr. Lynn” for her off-the-cuff diagnoses of team ailments from her years of healthcare writing.


Heat things up with great headlines

Nothing cranks the heat up like being asked to write an ad headline, tagline or new campaign slogan. Essentially, you’re being asked to deliver your client’s brand message in 5 words or less–and make it something that motivates people to want to read on and take action, please. Just thinking about it makes my face flush.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the challenge. But I don’t take the words of David Ogilvy, hailed as the “father of advertising,” lightly when he says: “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Now you understand the rising blood pressure and red face. To make it easier, I follow a few rules and apply a trick or two. If my headline doesn’t fulfill at least one of these, I know my coffee break has to wait.

1. Does it make an instant impact?

The best headlines, slogans & taglines show personality. They’re clever and maybe even shock or surprise. Take the healthy, real fruit drink alternative, Bai. When launched in 2014 the ad agency went to town creating slogans that were so racy they even had articles written about them. Billboards in Time Square simply showed a picture of the bottle with the following slogan:

Tell your taste buds to stop sexting us

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.17.20 PM

Other headlines included:

Flavor that goes all the way on the first date,” and, “Wet. Juicy. Ready. But not in that way,” and, “Naturally sweet. Unlike most men.”

The one that survived the test of time and is on their products today, is:

“Flavor so fresh you want to slap it”.

Talk about instant impact.

2. Does it make your brain do a flip?

A great technique for writing clever headlines is to simply take a cliché and turn it on its head, or apply it to a new situation. The July 2016 issue of O Magazine has some good examples. In an article on no-cook summer recipes, they use the following subheads:

Grain and Simple

Sandwich Generation

Salad Swap Meet

Fit to a Tea

3. Does it make you want to read on?

Not all topics are easy to promote. For example, colonoscopies can be a hard sell. A good trick here is to play on words but also get across the expertise of your client, as in:

Our cardiologists never miss a beat

Or you can go for shock combined with a message of “we care” as the Gastroenterology Associates of Colorado Springs recently did with:

Up Yours, and we mean that sincerely”

Now maybe it’s your face that’s turning red.


3Lynn U. Nichols, Copywriter/Publications Specialist at Jet Marketing

In her spare time, Lynn enjoys reading, running, kayaking and staying young by hanging out with her teenage boys.

 


Lessons learned on my bike: How to create a great marketing campaign

When developing content for a new campaign, it’s easy to want to jump into the juicy stuff right away–writing headlines that reach out and grab and picking graphics that delight and pop. But it’s best to step back and consider the big picture. Who’s your audience? What are your goals for the campaign? What messaging will you use to carry it through? What calls to action will you make to measure your success? This may sound like basic good sense, but it’s something those of us who have been in marketing for a while can forget to formally do.

It is a little like mountain biking, something I love to do. Sure, I can hop on my bike and lose myself in the immediate–dodging rocks and taking curves that lay right in front of me–but I’m a better biker when I look ahead and see where the trail is going and figure out how to maneuver not just the first hurdle but the next and the next after that. That way when I get there, it’s a smoother ride.

Imagine what I can do when I pull out a map of the entire trail. When I do that, I know when to save my energy for an upcoming big climb, or where I can expect to get wet crossing a stream. Knowing the challenges of the ride are like identifying the components of a marketing campaign–what tools will you use to make it a smooth ride? Will print ads, web banners, social media posts, lobby posters, testimonials, billboards or radio and television ads be a part of the campaign, and to what capacity? How will you tie them all together to support your client’s brand message? Finally, how can you best repurpose content to save your client money?

Now that the plan is figured, and my boss makes it official by putting it all in SmartSheets and sharing it with the client, I’m ready to ride. Give me that blank screen and let me gaze off into the distance. I’m about to write some copy that will hopefully make my clients feel like they are riding an epic single-track downhill–complete with yips and shouts and a little bit of air.

3Lynn U. Nichols, Copywriter/Publications Specialist at Jet Marketing

Lynn came to CSU for a Master’s in Fine Arts 20 years ago and never left. Access to great mountain biking trails is one reason why.