How to connect with new donors

Charities are in a challenging time. They continue to see a rise in demand for their services but experience uncertainty in their funding streams, from government cutbacks and in smaller donations from their individual donor bases. As they focus on new fundraising strategy, Charlotte Pearce, CEO and Founder of Inkpact, offers suggestions on how charities can capture the attention of new, potential donors.

 

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Since the credit crunch in 2008, PwC, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group have collaborated on a yearly survey, “Managing the New Normal”, to assess the impact that the economic downturn and slow-growth recovery have had on the UK charities sector. The survey notes the ways charities have adapted to meeting increased demand for services as their financial support changes. 

In March 2015, 70% of charities said they experienced an increase in demand for services in the previous 12 months, but nearly one-third (30%) felt their charities had insufficient resources to meet this demand.

With resources stretched to the limit and more uncertainty around existing funding sources, charities now have their fundraising strategy and tactics clearly in focus:

  • 75% of respondents in the survey said they plan to explore new fundraising options in the next 12 months
  • Over half said they expect to increase fundraising in current areas of focus, and almost 40% said that they had started fundraising in new areas
  • Challenges to fundraising success come from a limited pool of potential donors and changes in donor behaviour; but the biggest challenge comes from competition from other charities
  • Respondents intend to improve funding by moving away from individual committed giving programmes towards major donor, trust, legacy and corporate funders as they improve investment programmes

 

How does a charity make a successful transition in their fundraising efforts, when they need to open doors to new sources of financial support?

Successful brands make connections with their customers by establishing an emotional connection with them. Charities who are successful in fundraising do this, too. Everything they do works towards building trust  with donors. Some charities build connections in their programmes for individual donors but it also is an important strategy to employ as charities reach out to major donors, trust, legacy and corporate funders. However, charities must research their target audience and use this insight to determine how they can best make and build these connections.

These new donor groups are potentially harder to reach than individual donors and they require more “high-touch” management. Whilst charities should expect a bigger reward for their efforts, they need to treat these new, potential fundraising sources as high-value contacts, much like a high-value retailer would treat a good customer or a business would treat their best clients.

 

How do charities make the best impression without overstretching their budgets?

It is especially hard to open doors in new relationships, posing additional challenges to charities on stretched resources.

In an article on Thirdsector.co.uk from 9 September 2014, Esther Foreman, the founding director of the Social Change Agency, recommended that charities “think of a human angle and build it into the campaign.” She also urged charities to bring back handwritten letters to communicate with MPs. “MPs are more impressed by one handwritten letter,” she said. 

MPs aren’t the only people to be impressed by handwritten letters. Using handwritten letters and notes is an effective tactic that works equally well with the public as it does in business communication and, now, in fundraising. Handwritten letters make an effective way for charities to introduce themselves to new potential donors, whether they are major donors (for individual major and legacy gifts), trusts or corporates.

 

Anonymous, bland emails don’t catch anyone’s attention.

A handwritten letter is rarely ignored. Everyone is always curious what it has to say, so it is always opened and the message is always read. The same can’t be said about emails, where open rates vary from 12% on up, nor can it be said about standard direct mail, which has an open rate of about 44% in the most recent research from Royal Mail. Whilst a handwritten letter conveys much – including the investment in time and care that it has taken to write the letter – it isn’t costly to produce so it makes a very smart addition to fundraising campaigns. Whilst a handwritten letter can’t guarantee that the charity will get the meeting with the potential donor, it will almost always mean that the donor will have read the message and be ready to speak when the charity calls to follow-up.

Handwritten letters can be used throughout the relationship with donors as good communication vehicles to follow up meetings and say thanks for financial or in-kind support. Handwritten letters are simple and cost-effective yet extremely powerful, helping to bolster reputation and reflect positively on the charity.

Why not give handwritten letters a try the next time you need to reach out to a new potential donor and see what happens?

 

Creating strong relationships with new donors are the essence of fundraising campaigns. Please do get in touch with us if you’d like more information on how our handwritten notes and letters might help you achieve new goals. 

Charlotte Pearce Continue reading…

Fundraising outside of the box

Fundraising outside the box

Charities have been and still are experiencing challenging times. To support the rise in demand for their services at a time when their funding streams are more uncertain than ever, charities are looking for new, innovative ways to reach out to new donor prospects. Charlotte Pearce, CEO and Founder of Inkpact, shares inventive ideas for fundraising to help charities get their creative ideas flowing.

Since the credit crunch in 2008, PwC, the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group have collaborated on an annual survey to assess the impact that the economic downturn and slow-growth recovery have had on the UK charities sector. The findings, delivered in a yearly report, “Managing in the New Normal”, capture the ways that charities have adapted to meet increased demand for services with their financial support in flux.

Fundraising outside of the box

The report from March 2015 offered evidence that charities feel that their resources are stretched and more uncertain, putting fundraising strategy and tactics at the forefront to help increase funding to meet this increase in demand:

  • Charities now place signification value in looking for new/innovative solutions
  • 75% of respondents in the survey said they plan to explore new fundraising options in the next 12 months


What do some of the innovative fundraising ideas look like?

The branch of Cornwall Hospice Care in Helston, Cornwall, for example, has taken advantage of an underused resource – the shop’s basement. The branch turned the basement into an art exhibition space and now holds fortnightly exhibitions of paintings, glass and ceramics. Proceeds from the sales go to supporting the Hospice. As the space is already paid for, there are no additional overheads, so all proceeds go straight to the charity.

Innovative programmes with corporates who are committed to giving back also offer opportunity to raise funds from new sources. Paypal’s Giving Fund is one example. It launched in 2006 as Mission Fish and now has three platforms where charities can raise funds through Paypal’s 100 million+ customers … in other words, opening up each charities’ world to 100 million+ new, potential supporters. Paypal’s three initiatives cover online, direct donation and online purchases with proceeds going to charities, on three different sites – Paypal, eBay and Humble Bundle:

  • Donors can make monetary gifts through Paypal and Paypal helps donors find charities on the site. Throughout its customer experience, Paypal has embedded giving opportunities and enhances these everyday efforts with seasonal campaigns and promotions that provide additional opportunities for charitable giving. Charities are not charged a transaction fee so 100% of the donation goes to the charity.
  • eBay for Charity offers online stores to charities where an individual volunteer can sell donated goods, meaning the whole world of eBay members are potential buyers. At checkout, eBay adds options where buyers can donate a portion of their sales, add donations to purchases or buy an item that supports the cause. eBay has special features to help a charity’s items stand out and rewards charitable sellers for their generosity with eBay fee credits, in proportion with the amount donated. eBay for Charity seller Lynn Beckett sells donated items through her site supporting the Midlands Air Ambulance. She’s raised £100,000 selling donated goods, never knowing what’s in the bags and boxes delivered to her living room until she opens them, making her part of the process a true online retail adventure.
  • Humble Bundle is a leading retailer of digital games and e-books. It offers its customers the opportunity to support a charity with every purchase they make. Through an innovative “pay what you want” pricing model, customers can choose not only what they want to pay but also what portion of that purchase is donated through the PayPal Giving Fund to charities featured on the site.

Paypal estimates that £37 is raised every minute for UK charities. Collectively, the PayPal Giving Fund has raised about £19 million a year.

Saying “thank you” to donors and volunteers is a highly-inspirational tactic to use to make supporters of every charity feel valued and part of a bigger movement that is truly making a difference in the world. Charities have found some original ways to say “thanks”:

  • Charity: water’s use of simple tech and creativity to recognise each of their fundraisers, donors and sponsors is a great example of a new, modern way acknowledge support. To mark the charity’s fifth anniversary, it created over 250 personalised video “thank you” messages and shared them through a special channel on YouTube. These messages were not just for their big donors. The videos featured staff members who expressed eloquently and with feeling the love they have for the people who share the organisation’s mission.
  • For the Boy Scouts, Chief Scout and celebrity adventurer, Bear Grylls, paid a personal visit to young Scouts and adult volunteers in London and the South East to thank them for their time, commitment and support. Inspirational, motivational and engaging all at the same time.

Expressions of thanks don’t always need to be as elaborate. A simple thank you note, handwritten and sent in the post, goes a long way to demonstrating to the supporter their importance to the organisation. As the “Thank You Diva” says, “Thank you has something truly magic about it. Thank you shows our appreciation and conveys our gratitude. But it is more than that, it’s a sign of respect to the person who has helped you or given something. It is an indication that you do not take them for granted, and an acknowledgment that they matter.”

Thank you’s speak volumes and build strong connections and are always a good place to start any new effort to increase support through fundraising.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Do get in touch if you would like to know more about how Inkpact can help you make your thank-yous unforgettable.

Charlotte Pearce

The power of a handwritten letter

We’re always keen to showcase our writer community, who have an amazing range of talents between them. This post has been guest written by Radhika Narayan, a Digital Health Research Analyst by day and expert handwriter by night. 

This story tracks back to 2013 when a close friend of mine, Gracy, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma. Despite living in the same city and staying in touch via WhatsApp and Facebook we hardly ever met. During her palliative care I sent her encouraging messages via various apps, but not once did I contact her personally, least of all with a letter.

Unfortunately, Gracy is no more, and I regret to this day never putting pen to paper to write her during her illness. I know I can’t change the outcome but reading my letters would have shown her how special she was to me. Fast forward a few years to last month when I happened to stumble across Inkpact, where the true importance of real, personal connection suddenly hit me with full force following my own experience with Gracy.

Writing a letter to a loved one

In the end-of-life stage, a patient needs psychological support more than ever. Why not provide this boost in the form of a handwritten letter? A get well soon card or an encouraging letter can mean the world. For many patients a stay in the hospital can run into several weeks; letters from friends and family can really boost mood and distract from the pain. According to research, receiving a handwritten letter expressing love or gratitude can increase happiness levels and reduce stress in patients.

This got me thinking about how great it would be if I wrote a letter to everyone who supported me during my own time of illness. A well-crafted letter can enrich someone’s day and support mental resilience during a difficult time. Maybe it’s time we disconnect from our smartphones and tablets and put pen to paper instead? Technology may have made us more productive but it can never replace the warmth and humanity of the handwritten.

Don’t wait – reconnect with the ones you love. Thank the people who’ve always been there for you now. Say it with a letter.

This post was originally published here

Meet our new writer-in-residence, Grace Holliday

Introducing our writer-in-residence, Grace Holliday

 

We’re delighted to welcome RCA alumnus, illustrator and mark-maker, Grace Holliday, as our newGRACE HOLLIDAY ILLUSTRATOR writer-in-residence. Over the next few months Grace will be helping the team, Wayra’s Open Future 2016 start-ups, and our community of writers and partners get creative through a series of taster sessions and workshops spanning typography, mark-making and illustration.

Grace’s practice as a hand-drawn illustrator and mark-maker has a wonderful synergy with Inkpact’s genuinely handwritten communications. There is something effortful about the hand-written and the hand-drawn that makes a communication meaningful.

As Ogilvy Associate, Rory Sutherland, so beautifully puts it – “[that effort lies] either in its cost of transmission, means of creation or inherent creativity. These things show we have put thought into the message. Its value lies directly in its difficulty.”

We live in an ever more digital age where the practice of putting pen to paper has almost been lost. We’re time-poor and productivity driven, and yet a simple daily act like writing a letter can help to sharpen the mind and refocus priorities.

A core focus of Grace’s work is creating meaningful interactions with materials and making the creative process open to all. She’ll be documenting her residency at Inkpact with a weekly blog, so stay tuned to follow her adventures with pen and paper.

Misty view of an old victorian lamppost and the Palace of Westminster, London with the iconic Houses of Parliament and Big Ben clock tower

The 5 key things for getting the most from TechCrunch Disrupt

Excitement is building in the Inkpact office as we prepare for our visit to TechCrunch Disrupt next week. We are looking forward to seeing new, revolutionary ideas, learning about game-changing technologies and hearing from the tech industry’s key innovators.

As we began our preparations, we realised it would be easy for us to thoroughly enjoy ourselves during the two days, but end up walking away without achieving much to push our business forward. So, we’ve put together a plan, and thought it might be useful to share our planning framework with you.

  1. Know your goals

Identify what you want to get out your time during TechCrunch Disrupt. Write them down – on your smartphone or on a piece of paper to fit in your pocket, so that you can take them out and review them throughout to keep you focused and on track, when there are so many bright things that could easily distract you. We recommend no more than three. These should be the absolute top three things that you want to have accomplished when you leave TechCrunch on Tuesday night.

Your goals should be measurable and clear, so at the end you can easily review your progress. For example, your goals could include:

  • Number of companies you’d like to sign up to beta your product
  • Number of investors you’d like to meet
  • Number of bloggers you want to get to know
  • Number of trials you are willing to offer
  • Number of contacts you want to make with potential customers

 

  1. Stand out

Your start-up is going to be on display amidst a sea of others, so to get noticed and seen, do your best to stand out from the crowd. You can do this easily and creatively, but also be sure that what you do is in line with your brand standards. By that, we mean, don’t compromise on your company’s image for the sake of visibility. But do try to go beyond the typical pull-up banner and a stack of leaflets. We’re working on a clever idea that will showcase Inkpact’s distinctive character that brings online and offline together.

Think about what you can:

  • Offer at the show in return for a business card, like a special show price or access to something users wouldn’t get through the usual market routes.
  • Wear that unites your team, supports your brand image and helps you stand out. Lots of start-ups wear tee shirts which are easy to take up a notch with a creative design.
  • Pass out to people who visit your stand – we’ve thought about printing a sticker to put on everyone who visits our stand which will make Inkpact visible throughout the day and perhaps encourage the curious to look us up.
  • Have on your stand for an activity – that isn’t the typical draw for an iPad. This is better if it directly relates to your brand but we heard of a great idea where a company offered turns to fly a remote helicopter that landed on a branded helipad.
  1. Practicalities

Here’s our checklist for things that help you through the day with comfort, efficiency, and competence:

  • Plan for comfort not style – wear shoes that you can stand in … all day long …
  • Take extra clothes with you, like a good shirt, in case you need to change for a meeting
  • Keep your breath fresh; keep a tin of mints in your pocket and pop them throughout the day, especially after you’ve had a cup of coffee or a tuna fish sandwich
  • Don’t rely on your brain to remember every conversation … take a notebook and a stapler … staple each business card into the notebook and write next to it exactly what you need to do for follow up with that prospect … start your follow-up immediately when you get back to the office, or sooner … don’t give any lead any time to forget you
  • Research who is there in advance; use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to get their background; then put your hit list together

 

  1. Pitch

Our first rule of pitching is … practice, practice, practice. Know your pitch and be able to speak it through in a good, conversational tone, as if you were talking one-to-one to your friend at the pub. Prepare versions – short (30 seconds), medium (60 seconds) and long (5 minutes) so you’re ready to go, for every situation. Tailor your pitch for your audience, so if you aren’t sure about the background of the person you’re talking to, ask a few good questions about them before you start, and then target your pitch to meet their needs.

This is your big chance to really exhibit the beauty of your idea so make your pitch clear, easy to understand and inspirational.

Think about having an alternative way for visitors at your stand to hear your pitch, if you’re busy. We’ve heard one good idea where the business recorded a product video and showed it on iPads with earphones.

  1. Buzz

There’s going to be lots of tweeting going on and you should make the best use of it. Your best friend will be the TechCrunch Disrupt hashtag. Appoint your team back at the office, or a couple of friends, to tweet messages through the day. First, you should prepare your key messages that you want to get out during the day in advance. Next, your team should monitor the hashtag and re-tweet relevant messages. Also consider tweeting directly to people whom you know are there to make sure you connect.  

 

TechCrunch Disrupt has also prepared a guide. Read it here:

http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/04/a-users-guide-to-disrupt-london-2015/

 

We’re looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday at TechCrunch Disrupt London. Please do drop by our stand. We expect to be standing out from the crowd so we’ll be easy to spot. Email andrew@inkpact.com to let us know to look out for you.

Alternatively, follow us on Twitter @inkpact, like us on Facebook and link into us on LinkedIn.

photograph courtesy of http://photoeverywhere.co.uk

christmas cards

The Great Debate – to send or not to send a holiday message to your business contacts this year

What position are you taking in this debate?

  • Are they a waste of time and money?

  • Do you see it as a box-ticking exercise? Or,

  • Does it present a prime opportunity to build relationships?

 

At Inkpact, we think there is no better time than the holidays to communicate with your key clients, customers, prospects, vendors and business partners. It’s the only time of year when you have the opportunity to focus your message directly and solely at positively cultivating relationships.

The rest of the year is “business as usual”. You may be chasing sales, working on the terms of a new deal or setting out expectations. At holiday time, it’s all about goodwill. Your message is a tangible gesture of the importance you place on the connection because you’re investing time and effort to nurture the relationship. Your message at holiday time gets your audience thinking and talking about you.

What should you send? An email, a digital e-card or a card through the post?

The most important factor in this decision has to be your brand – you want your message to be communicated in a way that reinforces your brand values. So if your business is digital, then your main message should be delivered digitally but, if you send an email or e-card, think about adding a bit of follow-up to be sure that your message doesn’t get caught by the spam filter or doesn’t get deleted and forgotten too quickly.

In print and digital, your holiday message works harder for you if you take the time to personalise your message. Personalisation takes effort but your investment returns a solid reward as a personalised message helps differentiate yours from the others received this time of year and increases the value of your communication – people spend longer with your message as you’re speaking directly to them and it means more. Also, when you transform your message from a generic one to one that’s personalised, you are rewarded for the extra time and thought through increased trust as you know, when someone takes the time to address you on a personal level, the degree of connection increases.

But holiday cards sent through the post have a permanence that a digital card cannot match. Physical holiday cards are kept and put on display, so your message becomes a physical reminder throughout the season. A physical card is more likely to help you magnify your presence across an organisation as when it is on display it helps you get known to others and expand out from your initial contact in that organisation.

Handwriting your message and hand-addressing the envelope maximises the impact your card can have. Handwriting makes your message even more visible and distinguished and reinforces your personalised message. Joe Girard, who is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s greatest sales person, used to send a handwritten note to all his clients once a month. Handwritten messages get noticed and remembered.

Relationships are the lifeblood of business. People like doing business with people they like. Emmet Murphy and Mark Murphy, in their book Leading on the Edge of Chaos, said that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%. Cards at holiday time, to wish “Happy Christmas”, “Happy New Year” or “Happy Hanukkah” give you the opportunity to focus attentively on the relationship. Demonstrating genuine, personal thoughtfulness in a way that positively differentiates you and your company moves this from a “nice to have” to an important tactic for your business relationship initiatives.

Inkpact can help you send handwritten, personalised Christmas cards to your important clients, customers, partners, vendors and stakeholders. See our 2015 collection of cards featuring illustrations by up-and-coming British artists –www.inkpact.com/christmas or contact me directly.

Unopened-letter

WHY THE WORLD NEEDS THE HANDWRITTEN

Ted Hughes once wrote “it is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words to unlock the doors of all those many mansions inside the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us”.

Whilst for Hughes, as a poet, those moments were perhaps not so brief, how often do we each harness this transient capacity to scribble down the noise inside our own heads?

Living in the 21st Century means existing in a strange paradox; constantly connected, engaged with one another via the plethora of social media platforms, yet on the other hand drowning in the digital, with our methods of communication often devoid of the personal touch. If we’re moving at the pace of technological innovation, are we at risk of forgetting how to really speak to one another? Just how possible is it to engage with Hughes’ wisdom via Whatsapp, or Viber, or Twitter?

And whilst none of us are expecting any sort of ground-breaking self-expression on requesting the Wi-Fi password to snapchat our way through a coffee shop pit-stop cappuccino, technology makes it all too easy to get lazy. And pretty much gone are the days of hoping that somewhere amongst the scattered bank statements, advertisements and bills landing on the welcome mat each morning is something we’ll remember, treasure or keep.

Yet when I was 14, I was put in touch with a French pen pal prior to a weeklong exchange trip to Toulouse. When my first letter fell through the letterbox, complete with hand-drawn pictures of her pets, hobbies, and a roughly sketched French flag on the envelope, sealed with an oh-so-French Asterix sticker, I couldn’t wait to scrawl my own response and run to the post box to hastily get it across the channel. There was something about the physical journey the words she’d written had taken that justified its place in my memory box. And it’s still there, 10 years on.

Through the ages, many a literary figure has brought to life this undefinable quality in the handwritten as a way to forge a meaningful personal connection. Literary, and often romantically involved pen pals, aren’t too hard to come by. A quick google search could keep anyone with a particular penchant for words occupied indeterminately. The following brief extracts are taken from one of my favourite letters by Henry Miller, addressed to Anais Nin:
“Anais, I only thought I loved you before; it was nothing like this certainty that’s in me now. Was all this so wonderful only because it was brief and stolen […] when and where would the drab moments begin?
I study you so much to discover the possible flaws, the weak points, the danger zones. I don’t find them – not any
…being anchored always in no matter what storm. Home wherever we are.”

Other notable examples worth delving into a little deeper are the exchanges between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Vladimir Nabokov and Vera, or Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera. Each exchange leaves a complex, humbling, and permanent mark on the literary landscape; each letter saturated with sentiment; crafted specifically for its recipient; an inky mark of appreciation.

And if a step back towards these more traditional communicative tools can make all the difference in a personal capacity, so can they in a professional. In a world where customer retention is key to business success, companies harnessing this back-to-basics approach to client communication can demonstrate appreciation and convey value in a way email simply does not allow. Never soon-to-be junk mail, and always read, handwritten letters are a sure-fire way for a company to go against the grain; to get themselves noticed; to ‘look backwards’ in moving forwards. Expression unites us, and draws us together under the umbrella of shared human experience. It’s so important we don’t forget how to do it properly.

Why we need handwritten communication in our personal lives too

An article in The Huffington Post discussing the importance of the handwritten letter, includes Emily Dickinson’s quote; ‘A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend’. In short, it’s a little token of our imagination; a part of ourselves we give away; a way to connect.

Yet the way we connect on a bigger scale is changing. In 2014, 76% of adults in Great Britain used the internet on a daily basis (that’s around 38 million of us), with internet connection via mobile device doubling between 2010 and 2014. As such, relationships today are initiated, maintained, and even strengthened by the plethora of online mediums through which we exchange ideas, express our identities, and ultimately, communicate. In fact, in 2015, internet users in the UK are spending a pretty substantial daily average of 2 hours and 13 minutes using their social media accounts. We can all be reached directly and instantly, regardless of our location.

Commercially speaking, this is ideal.  With cleverly targeted online ads, the chance that a marketing campaign will fall upon the right eyes and ears increases dramatically. Companies can harness our fondness for social media platforms, ensuring their messages flow through the right channels to the correct demographic. And this is where handwritten business communications come in. Personalised and powerful, they’re an excellent way for a company to go offline and against the grain, convey appreciation, and demonstrate a client’s value. Yet there’s a place for handwritten letters in our personal lives too, and it’s important we recognise it.

If we’re constantly moving at the pace of technological innovation, are we at risk of losing touch with the more traditional tools of communication of the past? With slower communication comes, implicitly, a more gathered thought process. Entrenched in the written exchanges between some of the literary greats of the past (Henry Nin and Anais Miller for example), is a sense of depth and complexity impossible to rival even with face to face communication. Letters are a way to attain a level of intimacy the digital age is at risk of eradicating. No text speak, no emojis, no auto-pilot communication. The act of writing itself eliminates the ingrained passivity resulting from the 21st Century ease of connection. It re-engages the mind and forces us to abandon technology, even if only for the time it takes to craft our message on the letter or postcard.

John Coleman put it beautifully in his piece for the Harvard Business Review, in which he suggests that ‘in a world where so much communication is merely utilitarian, these simple acts of investment, remembrance, gratitude and appreciation can show the people who matter to your life and business that they are important to you’. In short, Coleman agrees: handwritten communication takes us back to the physical, leaving its recipient with something permanent; a way to remember the sender; something to treasure.

thankyougift

Why Loyalty is perfect for your business

In recent years there has been a trend towards setting enticing initial offers, particularly by banks and credit companies to lure customers away from competition and make the service seem more appealing, however often they then fall off after a year and the customer moves on. As a result it has become a favourable option to follow suit, so maybe it is more important to focus on keeping customers as a way to stand out against competition.

Why is it important to focus on customer retention?

Showing you value those customers and clients which you work with every day of the year is the best way to say Thank you for choosing them, and people will only respect that and are more likely to choose you over competition. Big brands can be difficult to compete against so for smaller companies there is no better way to keep a personal side to differentiate against them. It can even be a case of implementing ongoing strategies from big brands for example Costa Coffee and many others use a loyalty card for repeated purchase and there is no reason smaller shops can’t do the same, that way the company can sell its own unique feel rather than being beaten by enticing offers.

Perhaps you may think that keeping customers requires lots of incentives and therefore it must cost the business a lot more, but this is not the case in fact studies have shown that it costs only 10% of obtaining a new customer would. By retaining customers you avoid the admin costs of setting a customer up with your service as well as other initial costs which are normally imposed on the businesses. It only gets better as customers have reduced maintenance costs over time as long as they stay loyal making it even cheaper to support your community.

Creating brand ambassadors is the best way to develop and expand your customer base with very little investment needed, valued customers will spread the word of how good your business is and get their friends to join in. Loyal customers are more willing to spend more on a purchase and will be less opposing to price rises, repeat customers are willing to pay 67% more for a purchase. Giving these customers a thank you for the help they are providing and support for the company is a great way to keep them on board.

There are many benefits of implementing loyalty schemes and loyal customers add lots of value to a business trying to differentiate itself, and it is only becoming more accessible and easier to ensure that this is included in your business.

scribble

Understanding ourselves via our scribbles

The moment we were all upgraded from pencil to pen in primary school is sure to be a lifetime milestone in many peoples’ minds. The teacher handing us the pen signified trust; the mastering of the writing skills we’d spent years refining with pencil scribbles and drawings.

Yet, despite copying letter after letter with careful pressure, emulating the exact shape and spacing of the words written in chalk on the blackboard, each of us eventually developed our own unique style of handwriting. Graphology is the study of these variations; the science and art behind the way we all structure our letters, centred on the idea that this is linked to the personalities and the people behind the pens. A piece on the site for the British Institute of Graphology described our handwriting as the ‘pattern in symbolic form of a writer’s whole psychological profile’.

So, first, confidence. Can we really gather information about an individual’s level of self-confidence from their handwriting or their signature? A clear, coherent and legible signature is apparently reflective of high levels of self-assuredness, and somebody with little to hide. On the other hand, a barely-there scrawl could indicate that somebody is particularly private or tricky to comprehend. In terms of handwriting in general, variations range from the way letters are slanted, to the size of the loops, to the way we dot our Is and cross our Ts, with the spacing between our words reportedly also speaking volumes. Fans of freedom are said to enjoy wider spacing, with narrower spaces favoured by those who dislike being alone.

Meaning has even been ascribed to the pressure we apply to the paper whilst we write. Heavy pressure is said to paint a picture of an individual who regularly commits to things. Too much pressure however, enough to cause the ink to show through to the other side, and you’re not great at accepting criticism. An extensive analysis of the different characteristics of our scribbles can be found here.  

But just how useful, or indeed reliable, is all of this information? Whilst sometimes put to use as part of recruitment processes in the professional world, as a cheaper alternative to extensive psychometric testing and interviews, or as part of criminal investigations, the validity of handwriting analysis can never really be fully confirmed, and so, perhaps, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Though, if you’ve been writing subconsciously, not realising that your scrawl could be seen as an unlikely window to your soul; get out the magnifying glass and get analysing.