A Functional Business Card (aka Bookmark)

People are still reading. A lot. The New York Times still has a best-seller list; sales on Amazon are doing great; children’s books have increased in sales; and NPR has TV programs about their favorite books each year. What does that mean to you? That promoting your endeavors with a bookmark is still a great idea. Think of it as a functional business card.

It goes without saying that authors, whether traditionally or self-published, can use this valuable promotional tool and keep themselves in the public’s eye. Laurie Wallmark, author of numerous picture books whose focus is women in STEM, has had the great fortune to have her stories illustrated by some excellent artists. Her most recently published book is Numbers in Motion about the mathematician Sophie Kowalevski, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg. I am the lucky person who designs Laurie’s bookmarks, and this one was a real treat because I am just enamored of the art.

I chose vignettes from two of Yevgenia’s  illustrations plus Laurie’s web presence for one side, and all of her published books to date, including the book cover slightly larger, on the reverse. The result is a visually pleasing collection of beautiful illustrations, an invitation to learn about this book, and the others as well. You can do the same at Laurie’s website.

But what if you’re not an author? Is there something you do that you want to promote?

An example here is my own shop on Etsy which focuses on a growing collection of cards and other items for the French Bulldog. Any books? Not a one. But does every sold item I send out have a promotional bookmark tucked in? You bet!

And I’m hoping that buyers from my Etsy Frenchie art shop may use and enjoy that bookmark and come back and visit, even if just to check and see what’s new in cute Frenchie stuff.

One of the beauty of bookmarks? They are not terribly expensive and can be produced by any number of reputable online printers.

Another wonderful use for a bookmark is for your organization. In this regard, I’m thinking particularly of non-profits, but if the design is appealing and provides the recipient with the information and inspiration to check out a company’s website and/or social media, then it’s worth it!

Pictured here is a bookmark I designed for the Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park Refuge here In NJ. It was part of a larger fundraising appeal I created and I do believe that this lovely bookmark had something to do with the results being much better than the year prior. Who can resist a (shelter) dog putting his paw in your hand? Or one of the refuge tigers napping on a sunny rock?

Here’s the bottom line. Although we live in a very digital world, people are still reading. There are also some programs available for the “lay person” to create their own promotional materials. I have seen some excellent examples from some talented people, and some that are truly cringeworthy. The thing is … you want to be remembered positively. If beautifully done graphic design is not your area of expertise, don’t put out something half-baked.

Get great results with a pro … and here I am! Just contact me – I’m happy to help!

 

Direct Mail Campaigns

One of the advantages of direct mail is that you can land something absolutely stunning right into someone’s hands, tailored to their interests. You can write something meaningful – informative, heartwarming, or heartbreaking (maybe all three) – that speaks to that person, and, as an option, you can enclose a premium that they will want to keep or use. And you can give them the opportunity of sitting with your piece on the sofa, at their desk, or dining room table, away from the incessant demands of their computer or phones, if they so wish.

Contrary to the assertions of some digitally-oriented naysayers, direct mail is alive and well, but its success depends on at least two things – one, know the audience you need to reach to insure a positive response, and two, send an attention-getting package that matches up with the recipients’ interests.

Featured in this post are the components of a fundraising package I created (wrote and designed from start to finish) for the Associated Humane Societies, a humane society I’ve been working with for 30+ years. They are a hard-working organization dedicated to taking in the animals that society has discarded and giving them a brand new, loving future. I’d say their donor base falls in between the hard left humane organizations which don’t hesitate to show you the most brutal images of animal cruelty and the soft right which focuses more on cute puppies and kittens. So the pieces I work on with them have to be honest, but not so raw that people want to throw the piece away without really looking at it. If you don’t get the recipient to open the envelope, you’ve lost the donation. This particular package is mailed to their regular donor list, but with minor adjustments, could be easily used in a cold mailing.

There are 5 components:  a 4-color, 5″x 7″ card with photos and an appeal letter written up inside which tells the story of these two animals, an outer envelope, a BRE, a response document, and a premium. We’ve done labels successfully in the past as our premium, but people are on label overload nowadays, so we featured, for the second year in a row, a flower seed packet. The custom designed packet (below) is glue-tipped to the back of the card so it shows through a window on the back of the outer envelope.

The theme of the piece is “UNWANTED”, and tells the story of a senior dog, left horribly neglected and sick, then abandoned on the street, and a 5 month-old kitten, put out on the fire escape in the dead of winter as punishment by an angry owner. The outer envelope and card front show Emily (the dog) and Christopher (the kitten) as they looked when they arrived at the humane society. The interior of the card (above) details what the humane society did for these two, how they took care of all their medical needs, and best of all, found them loving  homes. The back of the card shows the dog’s happy adoption day photo. In addition, the recipient received a packet of Thumbelina Zinnia seeds, encouraging the donor to enjoy planting and  growing them as they can help the organization grow and help more animals like these. The response document and BRE, continue the theme of these two animals and images of the zinnias.

This is just one of an endless variety of possibilities and formats in fundraising campaigns. These donors seem to really like this format, as it’s been used with great success, but in reality, they are responding to the outstanding work of the organization, and the presentation that moved them – written from a heartfelt perspective and in a visually attractive package.  (I’ll take the credit for that part.) Let me also mention that I work with a wonderful printing outfit, the Ballantine Company,  who takes the utmost care in every aspect of the package’s printing and mailing.

Can I bring my talents to your organization and help you make a difference? I’d be happy to, so feel free to contact me with any questions.

p.s. And just to add a little happy ending for you graphics readers, here is a photo of that sweet senior dog, Emily, after the humane society restored her to the best health she had probably known in years.