Dave Bowers

Dave’s time at work is divided up between his roles as technical production and project manager for our clients. Dave writes about technical systems, production, traffic and how to make good things happen in a mission-driven marketing communications firm.

Recent Posts

Wake Up Communicators: You need a GDPR checklist and guide

 

Later this month, on May 25, the GDPR data protection and privacy law goes into effect. GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is a set of rules protecting citizens and residents of the European Union and governs how companies handle their personal data. Email marketing and marketing automation activities are clearly affected. But many small businesses and nonprofits are not aware that you also need to be sensitive to GDPR if you collect personally identifiable information in any way, including contact us forms and website analytics. There's a forest of GDPR information out there so my goal is to highlight key landmarks for you.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 5/10/18 11:00 AM

Useful Environmental Paper Certification or Greenwash?

If you’re not alert, it’s easier than ever to be snookered these days. You are trying to reduce your environmental impact and so you specify your new brochure should be on certified “green” paper. Environmental certifications on paper products are helpful because they can reassure us that we’re making sound purchasing decisions. But not all certifications are equal.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 3/22/18 10:10 AM

What You Need to Know About Contests & Sweepstakes

Contests and sweepstakes are great ways of generating interest and expanding your reach to a target audience. If you want to increase web traffic, reward customers, and gain some new leads to add to your marketing efforts, then you might want to consider having a contest or sweepstakes give-away.

Many people use terms “contests” and “sweepstakes” as if they were the same. Technically, however, sweepstakes are prize giveaways where the winners are chosen by luck. Prizes can range from stickers and t-shirts to houses, cars, and enormous cash wins.

Contests, on the other hand, draw a winner based on some merit. The person with the funniest pick-up line, most moving essay, most beautiful photograph, tastiest recipe, or whatever will be chosen as the winner.

(Lotteries are prize drawings where people must pay money to buy a chance to win. Lotteries are highly regulated, and are usually only legal if they are run by the government.)

A sweepstakes or contest can promote your products and company, expand your current customer base, and gather contact information of potential customers for future marketing. The premise is simple – offer a prize that will entice your preferred target audience to give you their contact information and allow you to communicate with them. I say preferred target audience because sweepstakes and contests also attract people that may not be your target.

I recently entered a sweepstakes for a $100 gas card. I was willing to give my name, address, and email address for the chance to win. The rules stated, “The sweepstakes is open to residents of the United States and Canada, age 18 and over” and “Only entries received via the official web entry form will be included in the drawings.”

This sweepstakes followed good form with the rules easy to find and read, and allowed me to “opt-out” of future offers. (Although an email confirmation of my entry with the current offer is acceptable.)

The sweepstakes was clearly aimed to increase new visits to an attraction by people some distance away, and encourage them to choose this attraction over others with the incentive. However, I am not a target customer. I already visit the attraction regularly, and I will not be purchasing over-night accommodations. It was by accident that I found the sweepstakes when searching for something else. But, this is still a success because it engaged me and delivered the message about week-end and overnight accommodations available.

Designing your own contest or sweepstake

When you choose to conduct a sweepstakes or contest you will have many choices to make and will need to follow some basic rules.

  • You must define who can participate and who can not.
  • What is your prize?
  • What time period will your promotion run?
  • Will you use game pieces?
  • Who are you targeting?
  • What information will you gather?
  • And, have you met all the legal requirements?

Rules

In the United States, every state establishes their own set of rules for contests and sweepstakes. Most states have the same basic rules, so most national give-away promotions are valid.

In Vermont it is not legal to require a contestant to provide a self-addressed-stamped-envelope (SASE) to receive a game piece or prize. According to Vermont’s Consumer Fraud Act – Rule 109, games of skill, contests, sweepstakes or give-away promotions cannot require you to purchase something or to pay an entry fee or service charge in order to enter or to remain eligible. Putting postage on your SASE is considered an entry fee or service charge.

Rhode Island is unique because the state law actually requires the company to file a legal statement before it can run a contest in that state. The statute reads:

“Any person, firm, or corporation proposing to engage in any game, contest, or other promotion or advertising scheme or plan in which a retail establishment offers the opportunity to receive gifts, prizes, or gratuities, as determined by chance, in order to promote its retail business, where the total announced value of the prizes offered to the general public is in excess of five hundred dollars ($500), must file a statement with the secretary of state.”

Other states have their own rules about what sort of contests or sweeps are legal. This is where the “void where prohibited” clause comes in. The statement gives the company blanket protection against running an illegal contest, without having to research the law in each particular state.

Additionally, there are Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules about collecting information from children. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) limits and restricts information that may be gathered and how it may be used. “If you operate a commercial Web site or an online service directed to children under 13 that collects personal information from children or if you operate a general audience Web site and have actual knowledge that you are collecting personal information from children, you must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.”

Posted by Dave Bowers on 3/8/18 9:58 PM

What is the cost of a stunning new website?

I wrote about this last in 2010 when unemployment was near ten percent and competition for work was fierce and cutthroat. And while a lot has changed in the past eight years, the components to consider when you want to create a successful new website for your business or non-profit have not.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 1/25/18 10:00 AM

How to Use a Creative Brief for Effective Collaboration

Marketing, like many other worthwhile activities, is a team venture. And every effective team needs a coach, rules of the game, and a common goal. Think of your creative brief as a team playbook with a description of the goal, objectives and rules for a specific marketing project that involves more than one person. Maximizing the talents and expertise of your marketing project team will be much easier with a collaboration built on a shared understanding of the rules and a common goal. 

Posted by Dave Bowers on 11/30/17 10:30 AM

Google Demands HTTPS Security: Is your site ready?

 

If you have a website without the HTTPS protocol, you should have received an email recently telling you that Google Chrome will show a security warning to your site visitors starting in October. Uh-oh, and now what do you do?

Posted by Dave Bowers on 9/7/17 10:00 AM

Why you can't just use the image you just found

 

We build websites. It’s not all we do, but it is a big part of the services we offer to clients large and small. Often during the process we complete a review of what content a client already has, what they need, and how to get what’s missing.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 8/18/17 10:00 AM

Why your nonprofit website and CRM want to be integrated

 

Relying on spreadsheets to keep track of your organization's donors, volunteers, and other contacts gets tiresome and ineffective quickly. But many nonprofit managers with strong websites shy away from integrating tools like CRMs (Customer, or Constituent, Relationship Management) software that are designed to help you manage contact lists or databases of members, volunteers, donors or subscribers. Why?

Posted by Dave Bowers on 8/3/17 10:00 AM

Quick Tips for Effective Landing Pages

 

What is a landing page?

A landing page is simply the website page where your visitors land after they type in or click a link. The link can be on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) or from an article or from an advertisement. The purpose of any landing page on your website is specifically to prompt a certain action or result. Here are a few quick tips for effective landing pages to keep in mind.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 6/8/17 10:30 AM

Prepress File Preparation: Your Print Production Checklist

 

Good prepress file preparation takes time. In the era of digital design, prepress work looks deceptively easy, but making sure your files are print ready takes time to do well. Integrated marketing campaigns that combine traditional and digital materials can be ruined during their launch by poor quality print work or an error. Unlike a digital design, your sloppy printed piece is time consuming and costly to correct, reprint and ship back out for distribution.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 5/11/17 10:00 AM

Image Resolution and Quality: What you need to know.

 

Why do you need to know about image resolution? If you are ever going to print something, put a graphic on the web, or create a PowerPoint presentation yourself, you want to know about resolution and why it matters for quality.

If you are partnering with graphic design or website development professionals, you need to know what resolution is needed from your digital asset library so your deliverables can be top quality.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 3/30/17 10:00 AM

Your Buyer Knows More Than You Do

 

The sales dynamic continues to change, and today's buyers are better informed and further along in their decision process before they first reach out to a company or sales person. With information so readily available to buyers in every industry, your buyer is often 50% or more through their journey before you even know they exist. Your buyer knows more than you do about their journey at that point — putting your sales team at a disadvantage. If you want to change the situation, inbound marketing offers a solution by proactively attracting and nurturing prospects at every stage in their journey. 

Posted by Dave Bowers on 3/2/17 10:00 AM

Can your website audience hear you now?

 

You know your business or organization needs a website. And, you probably have one (or maybe more than one). But does your website reach your audience? So now you’re probably thinking, “But, we have more than one audience.” Your website needs to speak to all of them. 

Posted by Dave Bowers on 2/2/17 3:30 PM

How to fail at email marketing (or not)

 

You know email can be an effective marketing tool. Email marketing averages an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. (DMA National Client Email Report 2015) And you've heard auto-response and other marketing automation tools can make email marketing easier and increase success. Then again, you see a lot of lousy email messages in your inbox. Successful email campaigns require strategy and consistent planning. (Lousy email campaigns don't.) Let's look at the differences.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 10/27/16 10:00 AM

Why You Want Both Advertising AND Conversation

 

Ok, I’m a big fan of advertising. When used correctly advertising is a good way to promote your brand, service, or product. But advertising can’t do it all. 

This is the age of always-connected, ever-searching, information at your fingertips. Companies (and yes, nonprofits too) need to do more than just throw messages out there. You need to engage your prospects, clients, and influential audiences in active conversation. Content marketing is what you need.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 8/25/16 11:00 AM

Top Secret: You Get Results with Strategic Advertising

 

Advertising works. Businesses get results with strategic advertising. Why else would so many businesses spend so much money if it didn’t? And big businesses have the proof it works. They track everything from views, clicks, calls, mentions (social media), and especially sales. Using this data, advertising messages and channels are honed, tuned, tested, retested, and refined.

Posted by Dave Bowers on 7/28/16 11:00 AM

Understanding the Creative Production Process

Every business or non-profit needs smooth orderly processes to be successful. Lean manufacturers make a science of refining every process. The big chain businesses work on their processes all the time – training employees to provide consistent and predictable service or to move goods in an efficient, predictable manner. It is widely recognized that the more critical a process is to the organization’s success, the more important it is that the process work well and contain quality control checks.
Posted by Dave Bowers on 6/27/16 10:00 AM

For the love of social media: How to optimize your photos

 

You’ve got the photo you want, so just post it – right? Not so fast!

Posted by Dave Bowers on 6/23/16 11:00 AM