Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Postcards Drive Annual Report Readership," is a reminder that direct mail, particularly postcards, enhances the recipients' experience for-profit and non-profit organizations, especially when it comes to annual reports. We needn't remind folks that direct mail marketing as a marketing medium is on an upswing due to stay-at-home directives, trust concerns, and issues around fake news stories and other false communications. As a result, marketing concerns are rising, and even boycotts are emerging against those digital platforms that refuse to filter and delete falsehoods. As far as annual reports go, most non-profits have been using electronic communications for their distribution; however, communications using mail outperforms digital.
Our Quote of the Day: "Since the arrival of the internet, people have been predicting the death of printed publications. But, as time has shown, nothing can beat the impact of print." — Roy Carter, Emperor Design
The Importance of Annual Reports
Whether an organization is for-profit or non-profit, annual reports are a vital lifeline for the entire organization, including shareholders, stakeholders, donors, fundraisers, and a host of other targets. Annual reports represent a more in-depth look into fundraising, performance, strategic results, and basically what took place over the last year. Annual reports can accomplish the following:
Communicates the organization's achievements over the past year
Delivers mission statements to funders
Attracts new donors or investors
Reinforces that funds are being used as intended
Represents a valuable tool for any organization
That said, several organizations choose to publish their annual reports in a digital format, and some do a combination of both digital and print.
No doubt, the growth of online and mobile communications is having a substantial impact on annual reports. In the age of the pandemic, there is a shift towards creating print and online reports. According to a recent survey, a majority of organizations stated they were using both formats for their annual reports. The study found that 7% of company respondents surveyed adhered to a printed annual report for legal reasons. In comparison, 5% opted for an online-only format. The remaining respondents stated that they do a combination of print and digital, depending on their targets. However, with the online world becoming more crowded due to more folks being home-bound, digital access is overloaded. That said, while having a digital footprint is necessary, the idea of doing all digital is a mistake. Hence, we caution, "challenge the urge to invest 100% in digital." Donor Levels and Covid-19 The good news is that non-profit donations are continuing despite the pandemic. According to Fidelity Charitable, 25% of donors plan to increase contributions, while 54% plan to maintain their giving levels. Therefore, stakeholders, shareholders, and donors who have contributed during the pandemic welcome personalized mail communications, which signals to the recipients the importance of supporting the brands' fundraising activities. Further, donors that receive special thanks and notoriety via mail communications generally feel encouraged to remain active, and in some cases, become brand ambassadors.
While many organizations express concern regarding the production costs of an annual report, the investment return is well worth the spend. We know that direct mail tends to be expensive, and creating direct mail collateral is time-consuming. However, investing in direct mail helps to increase brand awareness and, ultimately, donations, which is the point. One of the most cost-efficient ways to use direct mail is the postcard. Both donors and the organization stakeholders benefit from receiving communications that direct them to digital platforms that contain video and interactive charts and graphs, online annual reports, and notifications of donor activity.
Postcards are Efficient
Postcards are the most efficient method for utilizing direct mail marketing. While it may bust some budgets to deliver the entire annual report in a printed format, postcards take up less space, size, and weight. Postcards are also quicker and easier to create and can be done in house, if necessary. Stakeholders, shareholders, donors, and administrators are far too busy to read a four or eight-page newsletter; however, snippets that focus on the report's overview are easily and quickly read.
That's not to suggest that because an organization decides to use postcards, they should print their annual reports and forgo digital altogether. There is a case to be made for one, the other, or both. Some organizations choose all-digital, and some use a hybrid, for example, having the report on a CD or placing the digital version in the cloud. Still, some are printing the annual report for specific audiences while having a digital version.
Regardless of the method an organization uses for publication and dissemination of the annual report, investing in a postcard campaign ensures that all intended targets will be driven to that destination to retrieve and read the annual report. Communication Updates
Postcards and flyers are also an excellent way to share updates with customers and donors. Infographics, oversized postcards, branded cardboard sleeves, and other printed treatments, all in vogue, help keep your target list apprised of any developments and progress throughout the year. Postcards also serve as a notice that the annual report is on its way or is available online. You can increase readership of a yearly report or any effort the brand is currently undertaking with a quick postcard.
Postcards are experiencing newfound value, especially during the pandemic. We recommend that they are placed higher on the marketing mix food chain. Engage your designer early, as they will help you plan and deliver the brand message consistently and effectively using the best media mix. Consider your targets and feel free to be creative. Lastly, it is paramount that organizations work with a full-service commercial printer. A professional fulfillment partner can provide print, mail, print-on-demand, offset, delivery verification, and more. Together, these services can save you time, resources, and money. Thanks for reading, "Postcards Drive Annual Report Readership!"
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