Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

Diverse colleagues talking sitting together at office deskLisa Price describes herself as “the accidental entrepreneur.”

She got her start in her mother’s Brooklyn kitchen, creating body butter and selling it at the flea market at her mother’s church. Customers would stop by, smell a few things, and ask one inevitable question: “Do you have anything for hair?”

Price made this her top priority and never looked back. “Carol’s Daughter,” Price’s ridiculously popular natural hair care and beauty brand, eventually became a multimillion-dollar business that sold to L’Oreal in 2014. Price says the ability to spot innovation, create something, and sell herself have been several keys to her success.

Negotiating Well and Staying True to Yourself

How do you sell yourself without selling out?

Price was committed to finding healthy ways for African-American women to care for their hair. She stayed true to this mission (though her customer base eventually included Caucasian women as well). While touting natural products in place of highly popular chemical relaxers used in salons, Price presented herself as a simple girl with simple solutions.

Her product popularity coincided with stints on the Home Shopping Network and the rise of YouTube. Price could offer product demos, educate young women looking for solutions, and bring affordable alternatives to young markets. In 2009, “Good Hair” (a documentary produced and narrated by Chris Rock) showed a can of Coca-Cola dissolving in a chemical relaxer, and momentum spiked: women using relaxers in their hair dropped from 89 percent to 36 percent in just two years.

“The Internet makes everything democratic,” said Price. “Larger companies got left behind.”

Along the way, Price grew comfortable negotiating for her company and fighting for herself without folding under pressure.

Want to emulate her experience?

While you may not feel very powerful before signing a new deal, career coaches say you have the greatest negotiating power during the short time between being offered a job (or a contract) and formally agreeing to take it.

Negotiating in these situations can increase your earning potential and ensure you’re properly compensated both now and in the future. So prepare well before coming to the table! This may include researching market averages, calculating your value (or your product value), and preparing your talking points in advance (i.e., years of experience, sales goals achieved, or unique benefits your product can bring).

Rehearsing with a friend, asking for more than your target number, and communicating with confidence can bring significant gains when you sit down to negotiate. And don’t worry about offending. Forty-three percent of job recruiters say it doesn’t impact their view of a candidate if one negotiates for salary, and 19 percent said it has a positive impact.

Price shared her advice for when an acquisition or initial salary offer isn’t right. Her script went something like this:

“I appreciate everything about this deal and am so excited, but if I have to live with this particular offer, it might be hard for me to be fully there and present. I don’t want to be distracted and thinking about other opportunities, so . . . ” Here, Price would lean in, give a specific ask, and let the chips fall. (It worked; she got more money.) When it came time to sell her company in 2014, Price said that outside of her marriage and children, this was the proudest moment of her life.

Negotiating is incredibly important because when you stand up for yourself, you tap into your skills to ask for more. This ultimately sends a message that you deserve it – which means you’re more likely to receive that request!

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Exert Influence While You’re Stuck in the Middle

Are you stuck in the middle when it comes to your job?

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Perhaps you supervise many, but you still answer to a few. Or maybe you frequently advise a superior who seems less competent than you. Leading from the middle is tough. But managers who influence from the middle are often in a perfect position to collaborate with others, solve problems, and have significant organizational impact.

Want to make the most of your time in the middle? Here are three ways to hone upward influence in this transitional season:

Honor Decisions You Disagree With

People who lead from the middle are sometimes forced to settle for less than the ideal.

In your position, often you’ll receive instructions you don’t like or decisions you disagree with. In frustrating moments, you may be tempted to badmouth the decision or the organization. In a meeting you may say something like, “I would have done it differently, but . . .” Or during office chit-chat, you may casually question your leader’s judgment.

Real leaders make the best of a situation and honor decisions in healthy, unifying ways. If you want to be respected by those around you, speak with integrity and uphold the reputation of others. This builds trust, which gives you more influence when it’s time to speak up or offer solutions.

Be Intentional

One challenge for mid-level employees is knowing when or how to speak.

When you are strategic and consistent in sharing, your perspective can make a more significant impact. What is the best way for you to communicate? Consider a short, weekly e-mail update to your boss. Highlight 2-minute success stories in meetings to put a face on your “win.” Or use printed presentation notes when sharing needs or asking for additional resources. This demonstrates thoughtful preparation and makes your request more memorable.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, take a serious interest in the organization as a whole.

Don’t just focus on your department. Instead, look for ways to lend a hand to those above, below, and around you. When your supervisor sees that you care about the whole company, you may be surprised how quickly your influence grows.

This may bring friction. Working from the middle gives you a great vantage point to see the big picture, to recognize patterns or uncertainties, and highlight tension within the organization. When you bump into turbulence, remember that trying to please everyone is impossible.

Global Portfolio Management Director Michelle Maloy, says it’s easy to doubt yourself when you’re always trying to please:

“[This balancing act] requires self-control and clarity. You need to have understanding and empathy for others, but you can’t let everybody’s ‘stuff’ allow you to lose focus.”

It’s All About Perspective

While there are times that leading from the middle is difficult, you are often ideally positioned to collaborate with others to generate new ideas and solve problems.

This allows you to gain experience, be involved in meaningful work, and affect large scale change. It is possible to successfully lead from your position while developing skills that serve you throughout your career.

Three Fantastic Print Ads (and how to make yours more memorable)

GettyImages-543217912.jpgDoes your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that’s probably due to information overload.

According to ad agency Red Crow Marketing, the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads make a lasting impression).

Want to increase exposure and impact for your marketing messages?

To stick with viewers, your print ads need to be creative and clear! Here are three compelling print ad examples, with a few insights into what makes them so great.

A Better Job is Waiting

Created by Joe Public United, this print campaign for a job portal aims to motivate people to stop slogging it out in a job they don’t like. Smartly retouched photos show bored workers at their desks, workers who sat still for so long that mold started growing on their bodies.

Need the motivation to break out of your slump? There’s nothing like spiders building webs in your hair (while you play computer solitaire) to kick your complacent butt into gear.

The Secret to Success: This ad is powerful because it resonates with the job portal’s target customers in a way that elicits extreme emotion (i.e., dismay or disgust). Move your prospects forward with messages that ring true and deliver a message that is personally meaningful to your viewers.

You Eat What You Touch

Love dogs? You might feel a little less inclined after viewing this ad.

This unconventional ad shaped a pet Pug into a perfect replica of a loaf of bread on a cutting board to stress the importance of using soap. Something about fuzzy bread just makes a viewer shudder (while immediately taking action with good hygiene).

The Secret to Success: This ad is impossible to ignore because the visual is surprising and memorable. Viewers have to look twice to find the Pug on the cutting board, and once the image hits home, the message does too. Humor is linked to higher recall and increased sharing, and funny brands are seen as more relatable, human, and trustworthy. Have fun and make people laugh with your surprising, memorable print ads!

Neighbors

In 2010, FedEx wanted to display the accessibility of its global shipping options.

A rustic map of North and South America showed a man reaching out of a window near Florida to hand a Fed Ex box across the ocean to a woman reaching out her window in Brazil. DDB Brazil used a simple visual to convince viewers that sending a package to another country takes as little time as it would to place it in the hands of a neighbor.

The Secret to Success: By using a map of Brazil as well as an easy-to-understand visual concept, DDB was able to tap into the needs and desires of its local market. When crafting your ad, look to clearly communicate how your product or service fits into consumers’ lives or work, and how it can make them better, happier, and more fulfilled.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear. Increasing print engagement will help your advertising break through the clutter of not only the hundreds of ads people see each day but the thousands of brands that are competing for your customer’s attention.

How Chick-fil-A’s Customer Service Continues to Dominate

Crazy cow sticking out of his tongue isolated on white backgroundIn 1995, a renegade cow painted three words on a Texas billboard: “EAT MOR CHIKIN.”

From that day forward, Chick-fil-A transformed the fast-food landscape. When founder Truett Carlson began in the restaurant industry during the mid-forties, he was inspired by many customers who took chicken and wrapped it in a bun to eat. Today, Chick-Fil-A (and its cows) have reached millions through ads in television, print, and even the occasional water tower.

But Chick-fil-A is about more than great food.

Closed on Sundays so employees can rest and worship, the establishment recognizes the well-being of the people on both sides of the counter.

“We should be about more than just selling chicken,” Carlson famously said. “We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities we serve.”

Unfailing Hospitality

As the restaurant seeks to bring value, it has grown in net worth.

In 2018, Chick-fil-A made more per restaurant than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway combined. In June 2019, the franchise grabbed the best customer satisfaction score in the fast-food industry, claiming the No. 1 spot on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for the fourth year in a row.

Outranking establishments like Panera and Chipotle, Chick-fil-A’s fans rave about its excellent service, polite employees, and consistent cleanliness. Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowki says Chick-fil-A’s unfailing hospitality is a huge part of the chain’s success:

“Little things like being told ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – it feels like you’re appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A,” Kalinowski said. “And especially in today’s very complex world, it’s just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated.”

Manners Matter

Humans are highly social creatures, and rudeness signals a form of rejection that cuts deep, whether we admit it or not.

Recent polling in France showed that one of the primary causes of stress was the behavior of others. Good manners increase the presence of the neurochemical oxytocin, causing people to demonstrate kindness and generosity while experiencing greater pleasure. This fuels not only connection but greater prosperity.

What might this look like during a typical day at Chick-Fil-A?

  • Often if you say ‘thank you’ to an employee, they might respond with: ‘my pleasure.’
  • Some Chick-Fil-A operators offer expired nuggets to pet owners (while the chicken is still good).
  • Others offer a “Mom’s Valet” where young families can order at the drive-through and ask employees to set the table (including the correct number of high chairs and drinks) so when they enter the restaurant, kid chaos is eliminated.

According to Davide Farmer, vice-president of restaurant experience, part of the company’s service philosophy is to empower employees:

“There are all kinds of scenarios that pop up that you don’t necessarily train for,” said Farmer. “We try to teach the principles of what it is to care for somebody so that a team member can kind of act on their own when they see an opportunity.”

Danny Cadra experienced this firsthand when he walked into his local Chick-fil-A in Lubbock, Texas. After sitting down, he was surprised when a longtime employee handed him an envelope and said, “Hey, you left your money here a while ago.”

In the envelope was three dollars Cadra left at a drive-through almost a month before. The employee tucked away the cash and looked to return it at the first opportunity.

“I was just floored,” Cadra said. “I went a whole month not knowing there was a guy at Chick-fil-A who remembered me every day, [who] brought that money every single day until he saw me.”

Customer service like that is what we all should aspire to, and we’d love to have a chance to showcase ours to you!

The Way I See It

kirkOne day, a man called his sons around him to give them some advice. He took out a large, tied bundle of sticks and said to his oldest son, “Here, son, take this bundle of sticks and break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts, he was unable to break the bundle of sticks. One by one, the other sons also tried, but none of them were successful.

Then the father said, “Now untie the bundle, and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he said: “Now, break them,” and each stick was easily broken.

Here’s the way I see it: Thomas Paine once said it best, “Not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.” If you’d like help collaborating on a successful marketing campaign, our team is here to help!

5 Tips to Keep Your Design Project On Time and Under Budget

Time is MoneyReady to launch out with a new ad campaign but nervous about keeping the project below budget?

Not all projects are smooth sailing. Sometimes things go wrong, and your expenses can spiral out of control quickly.

Here are five tips to keep your next project on track and on budget:

1. Ask Questions Upfront

When partnering with a design professional, be sure to clarify the contract up front.

Will you be paying a project fee or an hourly rate? What services are included in this fee? Clarify how long the project will take, how often you’ll get to review the work, and how many revisions are allowed in this agreement.

2. Plot Your Course Early

Involve your design professional in your brainstorming as early as possible.

Designing one piece can have a quick turnaround, but re-branding or crafting large-scale exhibit pieces can take months, especially if there is confusion about the parameters or design presets for a particular project.

One costly mistake is to change directions midstream, so start conversations early to help your design professional take a big-picture run at your project to manage it in the most efficient, cost-effective way.

3. Assemble All the Elements

Attend to the precise details of copy, timeline, and photography at the get-go, and be sure these elements have been given a green light by those in authority before the project commences.

Your project will involve many pieces, and when they are aligned from the start it will allow your design dollars to be maximized with fewer delays. While you may not have precise details ironed out, clarifying project parameters is key in finishing on time and on budget!

4. Schedule Regular Updates

It’s imperative that both the client and the design professionals are tracking with the same timeline as a project progresses.

Who will handle this communication and how often will it take place? Will you use e-mail, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Ongoing communication is essential for success.

5. Allow For Margin

To keep a project on budget, it’s essential to create margin so deadlines don’t get tight.

Every project has hiccups, so it’s best to allow a little padding as you build a realistic timeline. For example, if the printer needs eight days to deliver a piece, schedule at least 11 days so you’re guaranteed a smooth outcome.

How Much Should I Budget?

Ready to get started on your next design? Here are five basic steps for planning your budget:

  1. Estimate your monthly income
  2. List your fixed design expenses
  3. List your variable design expenses
  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses
  5. Create the budget

Online budget planners can also be helpful for estimating your costs.

Better Together

Want to save on time, labor, or unnecessary stress?

Whether its exceptional-value graphic design or full-service printing, our capable team is dedicated to providing you with prompt, knowledgeable, one-on-one service, and carefully printed materials you can be proud of. We’re here to make things flow as smoothly as possible!

A Beginner’s Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

Photography camera lens concept.Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional.

Looking for a beginner’s guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:

Go Big (But Not Too Big)

When you’re creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.

The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don’t go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.

If you’re taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always “scale down” the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.

Avoid Website Images

Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.

Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.

To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.

Zoom in or Adjust Proportions

When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.

To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.

Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image’s physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.

Resolve to Finish Well

By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.

Have any questions? Call today; we’re always happy to help!

Anniversary Marketing

IDEAS TO HELP YOU SPREAD THE WORD

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If your organization will be celebrating an important anniversary or milestone, here are a few creative marketing ideas to help you spread the word:

  • Send personalized thank you cards to show customers your appreciation for helping you get where you are today.
  • Apply corporate anniversary seals or stickers to everything you send out, including letterhead, envelopes, invoices, brochures, proposals, etc.
  • Pair your anniversary with an enticing promotion to make your milestone more memorable, such as “save 20% during our 20th-anniversary celebration.”
  • If you’re having an anniversary open house event, create custom invitations, flyers, or postcards to promote your event.
  • Highlight testimonials from loyal customers, which can help enhance and strengthen the brand identity that you’ve been building for years.
  • Post a “fact-a-day” or “did you know?” on social media about your company a few days before your celebration.

Give us a call if you’d like additional ideas on how to promote your important events!

How to Sell Your Brand Through Story

GettyImages-648215006.jpgHave you ever been introduced to an overly chatty person?

They pause briefly to learn your name, then launch into an extended monologue about their life and interests. After finally “escaping” the interlude, you realize they didn’t ask you a single question.

When you meet someone like this, does it raise a red flag?

This pushy demeanor causes you to lose trust in their entire character. The same can be true in marketing when companies spend too much time talking about themselves instead of authentically connecting with consumers. Without building adequate rapport, marketers prematurely oversell or repel prospects for good.

How can you avoid this mistake? By building connections through story.

The Human to Human Connection

Building brand stories sets buyers at ease and creates the best possible customer experience.

Today’s consumers prefer an increasingly personalized experience, and sharing your brand through story is one of the best ways to build relationships. Brand stories offer a friendly introduction to your company, building trust with a generation that craves distinct, authentic connections.

Many companies don’t think of themselves as a brand or believe they have a story to tell. And that’s just not the case! A brand story isn’t simply a chronological account of your history, it’s a portrait of who you are. Your brand story consists of:

  • What your brand says about itself
  • What your brand does in the world
  • What others believe and say about your brand
  • How people interact with your brand

Here’s an example of one business bringing their story to life:

Chipotle’s Mexican Grill is a brand known for serving “food with integrity.” Chipotle has labeled itself “as real as it gets,” using only 51 ingredients and no heat lamps, freezers, or microwaves. A recent print ad included the line: “For real foods. For real actions. For real change.”

Chipotle seeks to fulfill people’s desire for clean eating and to change the way people think about fast food. The core of this ethos includes respect for farmers, animals, and the environment, and transparent displays of ingredients and producers on every menu. Tipping toward satire, the brand’s recent 51 ingredient billboard campaign featured this phrase: The only ingredient that’s too hard to pronounce at Chipotle is “Chipotle.”

Finding Connection

On a neural level, the brain actually “feels” a story.

Story-based communication brings greater comprehension and allows your listeners to grow in confidence and receptivity because people buy in to what they trust!

To create meaningful customer connections, begin by intentionally discovering who you are talking to and deliver the message your audience wants or needs to engage with.

Build a narrative that is captivating, concise, consistent, and conversational. Then do your best to share this everywhere! Think of your brand story as a steady IV drip of content, delivered to multiple audiences, over many years, in a variety of formats.

Whether it involves large-scale displays, mounted core values, or social media content, ensure your story stays consistent across mediums. Keeping attributes simple and clear will allow consumers to recognize you in every setting and to feel at home with all that your brand stands for.

Bring Your Story to Life

Stories make life interesting because they fulfill curiosity and craving in every person.

Telling your brand story is mission-critical in forging relationships with a generation that desires to buy into more than just a product, but into a narrative that gives meaning and pleasure to their daily lives.

Flat Notecards

Product-370_001.jpgAFFORDABLE WAY TO SEND PERSONALIZED THANK YOU NOTES.

If your business is looking for an affordable way to send personalized thank you notes or other brief greetings, you may want to give flat notecards a try!

A flat notecard can be creatively designed as a self-mailing postcard, which means they are cheaper to mail and don’t require an envelope. In addition, a handwritten note on the back is sure to grab attention and get read.

Flat notecards are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from small to oversized postcard size (our printing experts can help you ensure the size you prefer is USPS approved). Flat notecards can also feature many unique finishing touches, such as foil stamping, embossing, debossing, metallic ink, die-cut edges, and much more.

If you’d like help creating a flat notecard that will get noticed and remembered, give us a call today at 856.4290715 or visit: http://www.sjprinter.com!

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How to Win Over Millennials with Effective Print Marketing

Quality control certification, checked guarantee of standard.Millennials and their Gen Z siblings are the first truly digital generations, some learning to swipe a screen before they could wipe their own faces!

Millennials are a particularly powerful bunch, currently holding more spending power than Baby Boomers. By 2020, this group will have a collective spending power of $1.4 trillion. What does this look like in a daily snapshot?

  • More than nine in ten millennials own smartphones, and 90% of millennials have at least one social media profile. Of that majority, 52% are active on 5 or more social media sites
  • Millennials make up 58% of mobile shoppers and are 2.5 times more likely than the average shopper to be influenced by a mobile app.
  • 73% of online millennials believe that internet has been mostly a good thing for society, and they certainly believe their gadgets bring personal benefits: 53% of Millennials said they would rather give up their sense of smell than their technology!
  • While young people love being online, they don’t go there to read ads. In fact, YouTube recently hit upon the idea of six-second ads as a way to try and keep fidgety viewers watching.

While online presence can build your brand and increase your web traffic, businesses are finding their digital marketing campaigns are easily lost in the shuffle of online noise. Print is gaining influence each year, with direct mail alone showing strong results among millennials:

  • 92% are influenced to make a purchase by direct mail.
  • 90% said they would prefer direct mail over email.
  • 90% think direct mail advertising is reliable.
  • 73% use direct mail coupons when making purchases.
  • 63% responded to a direct mail piece to make a purchase.

Corner Younger Markets

When you want to reach new generations through print marketing, here are three ways to make your message more effective.

1. Keep it short and sweet.

Young people want answers fast, so keep ads quick and to the point.

Avoid long advertisements, and think about ways to increase visibility. Here’s one inspiring example:

Reddit currently has over 1 billion unique visitors per month, but at its conception, the company only had a small advertising budget of $500. Faced with limited options, its founders turned to stickers. Everywhere they traveled, they put stickers on posts and signs. They even gave them out to people with the request to “please sticker responsibly.” The sticker campaign paid off and later led to other grassroots campaigns that helped make Reddit enormously successful.

2. Use social proof.

Need an accurate answer?

Phone a friend or poll the audience! Millennials and teens trust friends, family, and testimonies more than the company they’re buying from, so incorporate reviews and user content in your ads to demonstrate why other others love your product. Use quotes, pictures, or user benefits others have realized, and you will easily gain influence.

3. Make it tech-friendly.

Use your company website in all print advertising, and consider adding QR codes and scannable coupons to increase digital and offline connections.

Use pictures of people using your products with links to unique online landing pages so you can better track your results. Make it easy for people to access your company online, and your sales will see an immediate boost.

Print to Win

In an ever-changing world, effective companies must learn to translate their products and values to a new demographic.

Be intentional through print, and you will cut through the clutter today.

Get Ahead at Work by Busting These Bad Habits

GettyImages-924381676.jpgWork and sleep are two of the most time-consuming things we do.

The average American will spend nearly 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, so the way you approach your job can have a huge impact on your quality of being. As Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Do you want your experience at work to be as happy and anxiety free as possible? If so, perhaps it’s time to put the scalpel to some of your less-than-desirable work habits.

Here are just a few ways bad choices might make your life more difficult at work.

Habits that Hurt You Personally

Skipping Breaks

Sometimes we think we’re too busy to take breaks or grab some fresh air.

But this simply isn’t true. Research shows productivity is highest when people work in “sprints” with frequent breaks (around 90 minutes with 15-minute rests).

Winging it on Mondays

Do you struggle to get down to business at the start of each week?

Devote part of Fridays to making a “start here” list for the following week so you can hit the ground running on Mondays.

Negative Attitudes

A recent CareerBuilder survey showed that 62% of employers say they are less likely to promote employees with a pessimistic attitude.

Avoid complaining (which comes across as unprofessional) or responding to suggestions with negative comments like “that won’t work,” or “I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Even when things go wrong, focus your energy on what you’ve learned rather than despising your situation.

Habits that Annoy Others

Eating Smelly or Loud Foods

While a small snack may be fine, avoid eating foods that are messy, noisy, or smelly to protect your reputation with co-workers. Top stink generators include reheated fish, raw onions, tuna, smelly cheese, and hard-boiled eggs.

Grooming at Your Desk

When you are distracted, do you tend to chew your nails, play with your hair, pick at your face, or pull food out of your teeth? What if the co-worker next to you did this? Yuck. Enough said!

Interrupting or Asking Too Many Questions

While a willingness to contribute can be great, often you may be repeatedly cutting off others without realizing it.

Interrupting is rude and shows a lack of self-control. Similarly, asking an abundance of abrupt questions can be draining or annoying to others. When you need further information, gather a list of questions and pose them in an organized, positive way so you are respectful of others’ time.

Habits that Harm Your Reputation

Using Work Time Improperly

Be honest: while at work, how often are you handling texts, personal e-mails, or private phone calls?

If you think others don’t notice, you’re wrong. While co-workers may tolerate this behavior, it will certainly hinder the respect or opportunities you receive in the future. Keep your personal life out of sight (perhaps tucking the phone away or on silent) and you will be more efficient and more valued.

Distraction or Delays

Why is texting while driving illegal?

Because it’s impossible to concentrate fully on two things at once. If you are jotting personal notes, sending e-mails, or galloping through the fields of your imagination during meetings, it sends an inconsiderate message and communicates a lack of integrity. Come to appointments on time and ready to focus.

Being Nosy or Political

While small talk goes a long way to build rapport with others, avoid uninvited personal inquiries or incessant curiosity that won’t let things go.

And remember, if certain topics are divisive in politics, they’ll be divisive at work. Keep conversations focused on work-related issues to avoid insulting others, hurting your professional image, or causing rifts in your company.

The Value of a Smile

kirkI passed a stranger who smiled at me the other day, and it got me thinking about “The Value of a Smile,” written by Frank Irving Fletcher. Whether or not you’ve read this before, I hope this puts a smile on your face.

“The Value of a Smile”
It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits. It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away. And if in the last-minute rush of the business-day, some of our colleagues should be too tired to give a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours? For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

Here’s the way I see it: There is always a reason to smile. You just have to find it. We promise that if you give our print shop a try, you’ll leave with a smile. See you soon!

Easy Ideas to Boost Your Social Media Standing

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Social media is an increasingly popular way for brands to connect with consumers. Almost 60% of Americans engage with brands on social media between 1 and 3 times daily.

But pinpointing the right strategy for your business can be a challenge. Need inspiration?

Here are three practical examples of entrepreneurs who are jumping off the screen to convert and keep customers through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Edge Body Boot Camp

Edge Body Boot Camp (EBBC) uses both Instagram and Facebook to create a vibrant, friendly social media presence.

EBBC uses social media to create a sense of community by incorporating members into their content. Using photos of individuals holding “I survived” chalkboards, personalized posts congratulate people for things like finishing their first workout, completing a 30-day fitness challenge, or achieving a specific goal over time (pounds lost, miles run, etc).

Takeaways: EBBC uses social media to create brand loyalty and inspire repeat customers. Since pictures on Facebook receive 53% more likes than an average post, this is especially effective for boosting engagement. Add hashtags to your photos and they can be used as clickable links on Facebook or you can link all public posts that have the same hashtag (like EBBC’s #isurvived).

Eileen Lanza Realty

Eileen Lanza is a top real estate investor and realtor in the Los Angeles area.

Lanza understands the importance of real-time updates via social media, and leans heavily on Twitter to keep a steady stream of information available to clients. 92% of all user interactions on Twitter are in the form of click links, which can be formatted as a hashtag or as a link to an external website. Lanza often includes both in her tweets: a hashtag at the beginning (i.e. “Just leased in #Larchmont – Spanish style Bungalow . . .” and a second link (which readers can follow for full listings or articles) with an image like this.

Takeaways: Location or event-based hashtags help attract relevant audiences and snag new leads. Images with external web links can grab the eyes and catalyze curiosity in readers.

See Jane Work

“See Jane Work” is a company that sells stylish office and supply solutions for women who want to be successful in organizing their homes, careers, and futures.

As platforms have grown more involved in sales and marketing, revenues for social media sales have expanded quickly as well. See Jane Work uses shoppable Instagram posts (denoted with a small white shopping icon in the corner) to tag products, lead viewers to their website, and to make purchases incredibly easy for users who see something they are dying to have!

Takeaways: Use shoppable posts to showcase products in a natural way through story themes that connect to your brand. “Jane” is a fictional character that embodies everything working women are today, and often shoppable posts show versions of Jane with her own trendy styles and products that are helping her kill it each day.

Keep Your Name Current

Social media can be liberating to individual users but overwhelming to entrepreneurs.

Use these tangible examples for inspiration or plan quarterly content curating sessions with your team to generate ideas and be proactive in your posting. Need help keep your name current and your message fresh? We can help!

How to Build Trust in Your Team

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Once there was a businessman on a routine domestic flight.

Though a seasoned flyer, he felt tense when, shortly after takeoff, the pilot asked everyone to stay in their seats with belts fastened. Moments later the pilot announced there would be no beverage service due to unexpected turbulence. People looked worried, and soon some were shrieking with alarm as a storm bounced the plane erratically.

Nearby, the man saw a little girl sitting all alone, but acting totally calm. When the plane jolted she closed her eyes briefly but eventually started reading, looking out the window, or fiddling with toys until the shaking subsided.

After the flight, the girl waited quietly as others exited. When the man approached and asked how she could be so brave, she said:

“My dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home.”

Weather the Storms

Does your team trust that you are taking them home?

When the clouds form and turbulence comes, do your people trust you to guide them through? Building trust may not be on your regular “to do” list, but it can cement a foundation so you can build high and strong.

Here are five tips to increase trust in your workplace or family today:

1. Show your vulnerabilities.

Great leaders are connected leaders, and people relate more with your weaknesses than your strength.

To truly connect with people you serve, it’s important to share not just strengths and victories but struggles and setbacks. Admit your mistakes. Apologize. Be proactive about gathering negative feedback. And use your own errors to teach or encourage others.

2. Regularly delegate authority.

Give trust to get trust.

If you run a regular staff meeting, occasionally have others develop the agenda or lead the discussion. No one enjoys a micromanager who constantly takes credit or dominates others. Step back into the shadows and you will build a wealth of relational currency.

3. Be transparent about money.

Sharing financial information can be a huge boon to the bottom line.

However, a 2016 study found that only 25 percent of privately held companies were sharing financial information with all of their employees. Whether your firm is publicly-traded or privately-held, the time you spend explaining and talking about results will allow team members to feel they are a valuable, integral part of your circle. And it helps people understand how they can positively impact the financial performance of the business as a whole.

4. Operate from a visible set of values.

If your firm lacks clear values, define them.

Mount them on walls, design strategic symbols to communicate them, or put a face on them by sharing testimonies of team members who are living the values. People thrive when they have context for their work and its importance to the bigger picture.

5. Don’t let difficult issues linger.

When times get tough, the clock on your credibility starts ticking.

Don’t allow difficult situations to corner you – instead confront them head-on and get your team involved too. The formation of problem-solving groups can energize your staff and provide opportunities to reward creativity and individual contributions. Groups can be tasked with brainstorming strategies or exploring new models.

If your “difficult issue” is a person, be intentional about heading off conflicts immediately. Be hard on the problem and soft on the person. Be assertive but courteous, addressing specific complaints and providing clear expectations about the response and timeframe needed to resolve them.

Trust is built through daily interactions and intentional gestures. You have many opportunities to gain trust each day. Work hard in the small things and you’ll weather storms with confidence!

Custom Window Envelopes

ENSURE YOUR ENVELOPE GETS OPENED

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Custom window envelopes are a great way not only to ensure your envelope gets noticed in a pile of mail but also ensure your envelope gets opened.

Window envelopes can be customized to meet the needs of any document or mailing. Whether you want to increase the visibility of inserts, grab attention with an unusual window shape, or create an oversized window that allows your imagery to shine through, we can help you create the perfect envelope for any need. Envelopes can also be designed with a full view window or multiple windows on the front or back to demand extra attention.

If you’d like help designing the perfect custom window envelope for your next project, stop by or give us a call today at 856.429.0715 or visit: http://www.sjprinter.com!

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing

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When you call someone on the phone, are you glad when they pick up? If you had to pay for each call, would you be especially glad when they picked up?

Marketing is essentially a call to your customers, a financial investment you make in hopes that people will “pick up.”

And print is one of the best mediums for engaging your audience.

Direct mail response rates for print are much higher than e-mail response rates (4.4% versus 0.12%). 60% of consumers said receiving and handling tangible objects leaves a lasting mental impression on them. And 57% of people say they feel more valued when they receive print marketing from brands.

When you place a call, are your customers picking up?

When you send advertising through print, you’ll have a better estimate if you are tracking responses. Every business using print marketing needs an effective testing system. Tracking your marketing will help you answer two questions:

  • Are your marketing dollars resulting in leads or conversions?
  • What specific parts of your marketing are responsible for prospect visits or sales revenue?

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing

Here are four ways to find out:

  1. Unique Promo Codes

Promo codes are like hashtags, but better.

They are fun, expressive, and they bring tangible savings to your clients. Offer distinct coupon codes in print pieces you want to test, and be sure the call to action is strong and clear (e.g., “Get 25% off patio decor by presenting this card in stores or using the code ‘LOVE25PATIO’). If your customer uses the code, you’ll know they’ve responded.

  1. QR Codes

How do you build bridges between digital and print advertising?

One easy technique is to include a QR code to drive traffic to your landing page. By adding these handy tools to your flyers, postcards, or brochures, you can track relevant info while storing data, location, and text. You can also experiment with social media hashtags to track success and increase online engagement.

  1. Distinct Online Landing Pages

Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).

While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page:

  • Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources
  • Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action
  • Stays focused on a single topic or offer
  • Omits or downplays site navigation options

Beyond narrow landing pages, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.

  1. Asking Customers

Want to know what’s on their mind? Ask them!

While you may not be able to connect with every customer, take time to ask new clients how they heard about your business. Speak with people face-to-face and you may gain insight into their motivations, frustrations, or preferred benefits.

Also consider adding a drop-down element to your website to ask how customers were introduced to your business (direct mail, word-of-mouth, social media, etc). Finally, including a unique “point of contact” email address or phone number (specific to the campaign) on your print materials to make response tracking easier.

Record and Recalibrate

From big business to small firms, every business using print should track and recalibrate based on results.

Print ads are more compelling when they use clear calls to action and high-quality pieces. Ready to set up a campaign with distinct tracking points? We’re happy to help if you have questions!

When the Sun Rises

kirkI really enjoyed this short, but sweet, comparison about a deer and a lion, and I hope you like it, too:

Every morning in Africa, when the sun rises, a deer awakens, knowing it has to outrun the fastest lion or be hunted to death.

Every morning in Africa, when the sun rises, a lion awakens, knowing it has to outrun the slowest deer or be starved to death.

Here’s the way I see it: It does not matter whether you are the deer or the lion. When the sun rises, you’d better be running at your best. And remember, our print shop can help your business look its best in print every day. Let us know how we can help!

Perseverance: How to Know If It’s Time to Quit

Woman looking up into light

Over the last two years, there has been a great buzz about 37-year-old tennis phenom Serena Williams.

Williams has 23 Grand Slam titles and a dominant career, ranked number one for 319 weeks over 15 years. In 2017, Williams gave birth to her first daughter. Many wondered how motherhood would affect her career. Would she return with the same fight? Would she return at all?

Williams roared back to the semi-final of the 2018 U.S. Open and quickly regained top 10 rankings. Fans worldwide were inspired by her courage and moved by her transparency about her struggles.

Faced with a Crossroads

In life, you will face discouragement, wondering, “Is it time to quit? Should I alter my path or press on through resistance?”

On one hand, redirecting can be wise, helping you avoid harm or consider better alternatives. Conversely, quitting might weaken your character or prevent you from realizing an achievement that’s closer than you think.

Walter Mallory, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison, was expressing regret that the first nine thousand experiments with a battery yielded few results. Edison had a different perspective:

“Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I have found several thousand things that won’t work!”

To Fish or Cut Bait?

Politician Newt Gingrich said, “perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”

Pressing on in a project can build character, enhance your skill set, and build confidence that can only come through trial. The best leaders are those who’ve been tested.

When tempted to quit, ask yourself whether other alternatives seem tangible or rewarding. Does a change seem realistic? Could you tweak certain variables to make a situation more bearable? Perhaps your moments of greatest discouragement are those when you’re actually closest to breakthrough!

But whoever said “quitters never win” may have been wrong. Quitting is scary, but sometimes continuing is worse. Stubbornness can destroy important relationships, blind you to better alternatives, or make you oblivious to your destruction. It might be time to quit when:

  • Continuing will destroy friendships, family, health, or your character
  • Despite loads of effort, you don’t see results
  • You find yourself growing numb to red flags
  • Proceeding may eliminate other options
  • You’ve lost all joy or energy

In 2010, Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa shocked fans when she retired at 28. At that time, she was ranked number one in the world, a winner of two major championships and millions in prize money.

An impulsive decision? Ochoa says no. From early in her career, Ochoa wanted to marry and raise a family without golf, projecting about 10 years on the tour.

“ . . . For me, getting married and having a family, that was more important,” Ochoa said. “Now that I’m a mother, I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world and I feel blessed. I’m really, really happy that I made the decision at the right time and now I can enjoy 100% this second stage of my life.”

Looking back, Ochoa said knowing there was a definite “end” actually helped her game:

“When I was in a difficult position and I was either upset or tired or angry or disappointed, I keep saying, ‘OK, y’know I have three or four years left. I’m going to do it and continue and I’m going to put everything into it’ . . . When I look back and I see what I did, I just feel even luckier because I made the right decision at the perfect time.”

Ochoa’s courage may inspire you to think of it this way: perhaps it’s time to quit when saying no to the good means you can say YES to the best.

How to Grow When Sales are Slow

Slow money transfer.

Nothing was going right at the plate for Dave Concepcion, the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.

About a month into the 1976 season, he was suffering a hitting slump, a plague of physical and mental anguish that had frittered away his batting average to around .150. The Reds were in Chicago, where the Cubs had a large industrial gas-operated clothes dryer in the stadium. Feeling goofy, Concepcion hopped in the dryer and called to his teammates. “Hey! Maybe this will help me get hot.”

Going along with the gag, Pat Zachry, the pitcher, hit the side of the switch, pretending to turn on the machine. With a puff of smoke, sparks flew, the machine whirred and began to rotate with Concepcion inside.

”I’ll never forget it,” said Zachry. ”Davey started spinning, and I froze with my eyes bugging out. Oh, it was terrible. Then I banged the side of the switch again. And the machine stopped.

”Davey went out that day and got four for five,” said Zachry. “And for weeks it was almost impossible to get him out. I tell him now that I made him the player he is today.”

Fast-Track Productivity in Unconventional Ways

No one in baseball or business is certain how slumps happen, but it’s helpful to know how to react when they do. Especially if you see trends that repeat each year.

Here are four creative options to fast track productivity if your momentum is slow this summer:

1. Engage in pro bono opportunities that enhance your products, services, and relationships.

In slowdown seasons, invest company time in something that will pay off.

Who are your target customers or VIP account holders? Approach these contributors and offer to host a free training event or professional engagement that will put your products and people in the limelight. Another alternative is to select core clients and offer to enhance your services for them for no cost.

2. Do non-profit work for your best customer’s charity of choice.

Slow periods are an ideal time to invest people equity in causes that matter.

During your down times, partner with agencies that your clients value and offer volunteer hours, free professional services, or mentoring that can make these organizations stronger.

3. Stretch your team’s skills.

When activity wanes, morale often follows.

Invigorate employees by offering on-going education opportunities, professional mentoring within your team, or innovation labs that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals.

Take time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, and involve your team in designing these pieces. Here you’ll strengthen your products, catalyze creative thinking, or upgrade inefficient systems.

4. Network or collaborate with other professionals.

Finally, as your business weathers change, remember that other entrepreneurs may be in the same boat.

Find like-minded friends and cook up a multi-site promotion to bring people back. Network and learn from people in your community or industry while you have extra time. Or trade services and train one another in ways that are mutually beneficial.

Want to make the most of each day? By reaching out, stretching your team, or collaborating with others, you’ll sharpen your skills and fortify your very best relationships.

A Finish that Won’t Fade

Race track finish line racing on nightDid you use Play-doh as a child?

Ever inadvertently leave your simple shapes to harden in the open air? Though your brittle pieces later crumbled, a simple finishing process would have sustained them for centuries. Ceramic firing transforms malleable clay into a rock-hard, durable substance. The additions of underglaze, luster, and around 930 degrees Fahrenheit can vitrify clay creations from goo to gorgeous, glass-like pieces that are impervious to water and time.

In ceramics and in print, the finishing process is nearly as important as the design itself. Finishing refers to the services applied to your print piece after the ink hits the paper. These can be added before or after the paper comes off the press, and examples of finishing services include aqueous or UV protection coatings, binding or collating, trimming or folding, stamping, laminating, perforating, mounting, or coatings like matte or satin varnishes.

Fabulous Finishing Techniques in Design and Print

In the past, many of the rock-star finishing options were impossible for the budget-conscious customer.

Things like die-cutting, embossing, or foil stamping options were saved for the fanciest invitations or a “lifestyles of the rich and famous” print run. Today, however, technology has transformed ordinary printing, decreasing the time and expense it takes to create textured, fabulous pieces.

Ready to take your work up a notch but not sure what your options include? Here is a basic menu of finishing services accessible to you today:

Trimming or Die-Cutting

Trims can be used to shear or reduce a printed piece along crop lines, page borders, or into a unique or fun shape that expresses your brand (like business cards in the shape of a coffee cup).

Foil Stamps or Blocking

This process is creating by pressing metal dies (or colored foil) onto a surface with a heated die. This process is used mostly to enhance typography and logos.

Embossing or Debossing

This allows you to press an image into a paper or card to create a three-dimensional design.

Embossing results in a raised surface while debossing brings a depressed (indented) surface. This is a great way to give your design impressive dimension and texture.

Perforation or Unique Folds

Perforating creates a series of fine holes to allow a portion of the printed piece to be easily detached (think coupons, ID cards, RSVP slips, or ticketing items).

Non-traditional fold options include everything from accordion and zig-zag styles to overlapping or tapered die-cuts that create wonderful visual texture. Looking for inspiration? A quick conversation with our design team will undoubtedly spark creativity!

Laminating or Binding

Laminating binds clear plastic film onto printed matter to improve durability and protect it against smudges, wrinkles, or tears.

Binding options include anything from a simple staple or comb binding to saddle stitching, screw binding, combs, spirals, and more.

Varnish and Coating Options

Commercial print applications (like brochures, business cards, and packaging options) typically apply a protective coat that seal the ink and enhance visual appeal.

Coatings range from basic machine and aqueous varnishes to UV coatings and high build varnishes that have the appearance of water or wax. Confusing? No problem. Our experts can guide you through the best varnish or coating options for your particular project.

Ready to turn heads with a resounding finish? Go big and bold to make your next printing soar.

The Way I See It

kirkLong ago, a king announced a grand prize to see who could paint the best picture depicting peace. Many artists excitedly submitted their best work. One of the public’s favorite paintings was a calm lake with a clear blue sky, perfectly mirroring snow-capped mountains. As the crowd gathered and talked, everyone thought this painting would win.

But when the king announced the painting he chose as the winner, everyone was shocked. The painting had rugged and bare mountains, and the sky looked very angry and was full of lightning. Many thought the artist mistakenly submitted a painting depicting a storm rather than of peace.

The king explained that if people looked closely at the painting, they could see a small bush growing in the cracks of a rock. In that bush, a mother bird had built her nest. Amid her stressful surroundings, the mother proudly sat on her nest with peace.

Here’s the way I see it: True peace is a state of mind, not the state of your surroundings. We’re here to help with your print projects, so you can focus on things that bring you joy and peace.

Seven Sizzling Summer Promotions

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Businesses need promotional items to help reach out to potential customers and clients – it’s just a fact.

Promotional products allow people to see your brand and remember you, drawing a whopping 500% more referrals from customers who are satisfied with the gift. Like a business card with a bang, clever promotional products build goodwill, name recognition, and expanded brand exposure.

But, sometimes the biggest barrier to distributing great products is finding the right idea.

Looking for affordable and effective items to catch the attention of your prospects? Here are seven promo products to bring heat to your marketing mix this summer:

1. Zip-Front Drawstring Bags

Want your brand to travel with people as they go?

High-quality, colorful, customized drawstring bags will get your message circulating! Sturdy but lightweight, these comfortable, machine washable bags are great for goodie bags, thank you gifts, and life on the go.

Zipper pouches make the bags more convenient, accessible, and fun. Add coupons or gift incentives to bring more traffic your way.

2. Clip & Go Hand Sanitizers

Try a squeaky-clean message on promotional hand sanitizer!

Travel-size hand sanitizers can be stashed in totes, diaper bags, backpacks, and purses for a little germ-fighting squirt before meals, after handling animals, or when spending time in public.

Hand sanitizer promotional products are effective message-bearers for restaurants, doctors’ offices and health clinics, independent contractors, and more.

3. Customized Lip Balms

From flavorful scents to serious sun protection, promotional lip balm is affordable, enjoyable, and always in style.

Perfect for health professionals, dental promotions, and all of your trade show needs, customized balms can give their lips some serious love.

4. Water Bottles & Tumblers

Promotional water bottles are a smart giveaway item that boosts your branding efforts at racing events, school activities, corporate outings, trade shows, or anywhere thirsty patrons travel.

Choose shapes, sizes, or lid styles from any variety of materials, including stainless steel tumblers, water bags with attachable carabiners, vacuum insulated copper travelers, and so much more.

5. Absorbent Snap Cooling Tool

Lightweight and refreshing, cooling towels bring a consistent cooling effect that lasts for hours.

Wet it, wring it, and snap to activate. Great for the gym, in the field, or on the go, this high-performance product will stand the test of time.

6. Pocket Notebooks

Want to keep your name at their fingertips?

Handy mini-pocket notebooks are sure to stick around. Try eco-friendly custom recycled notebooks, custom debossed mini journals, or jotter pads with attached pens. Make your product useful and your name will be a companion and stays close at hand.

7. Stadium Cushions

Want to switch it up and get more than just your logo noticed?

Stadium cushions offer a soft place to land for customers who will love you immensely when enjoying this gift. From traditional cushions to amusing shapes, stadium cushions make your logo pop against a minimalist background. From law firms and insurance agencies to VIP customer or employee picnic giveaways, this giveaway will be their grab-and-go for outdoor concerts and sporting events of every kind.

Want to know more? We’re here to simplify your shopping experience and bring your brand to life! Give us a call today to learn more.

Keep Things Real with Four Animated Design Tricks

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While you may not be able to launch a 3D billboard and party-train campaign, you can to stop traffic with 3D elements and hot design trends from 2019.

Here are four animated styles with practical examples to try in your next printed piece.

Three-Dimensional Designs

3D works seem to be everywhere right now: entire compositions that have so much depth, you can’t help but reach out and touch them.

Examples include 3D typography (that works with any kind of font rendering), metallic 3D pipes pulsing with neon electricity, or effervescent 3D poster compositions that jump off the page and make it impossible to look elsewhere.

Asymmetrical Layouts

While rigid designs have been standard for several years, layouts that break free from the predictable grid are now soaring in popularity.

Asymmetrical balance results from using unequal visual weight on each side of your page. For example, one side might contain a dominant element, which is balanced by lesser focal points or light elements on the other.

Asymmetrical balance is more dynamic and interesting. It evokes feelings of modernism, movement, vitality, and curiosity as viewers pause to peruse the design. Box elements within a page, stepped or tabbed layering, or the powerful use of negative space are all strategies for creating products that feel more customized and alive.

Open Compositions

Ready to throw off decaying designs of the past?

For years, illustrators have put frames around design elements, encasing them in boxes, frames, and in strict order. Today, viewers crave open, airy designs which seem to offer only part of the whole picture.

Allow your layouts to embrace white space with elements that feel loosely connected or even chaotic. Play with composition to make each part look like it’s continuing off the page to infinity. This allows viewers to engage with your image, using their imagination to wonder what else is out there.

Duotones and Gradients

In the 90s, gradients were a popular way to add color and depth to designs.

They came back in a big way in 2018, enhancing flat designs, adding color overlays to photos, and adding texture to backgrounds of all kinds. Gradients, or “color transitions,” are a gradual blending from one color to two or three others, blending similar colors (like different shades of blue) or completing contrasting colors (like purple and red). Gradients can be bold or subtle, modern or rustic, the focal point or the background. They can be used in logos, packaging, business cards, or photo overlays.

Find your favorite color schemes and go to town, because the energy of these stunning color transitions can elevate the vivacity of any design.

It’s an exciting time for design, especially when technology continues to allow us to push the limits. Have fun experimenting and make 2019 a year to look your best in print!

Avoid These 3 Management Blunders (with Four Teamwork Tweaks)

Want to liven up your next dinner party?

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Just ask people for their “worst boss” stories. Here are some painful (anonymous) stories from those who’ve lived to share:

“When I was an intern at a PR firm, my manager would make me run her personal errands (pick up dry cleaning, ship things, drive her and her friends to SXSW events, etc.). She would get my attention by calling me ‘Intern.’ Needless to say, when they asked me to stay on full-time, I politely declined.”

“I once had a boss who multi-tasked in meetings by being on her phone and present in the meeting. In both 1:1’s and in group settings she would shift her attention constantly from the speaker to her phone—back and forth, back and forth . . . At first, I just thought she was extremely busy, and it was the only way for her to get everything done—until one day, I caught her doing crossword puzzles on her phone while doing a check-in with me.”

“I once had a boss who, while I was replying to a question addressed to me by their boss in a meeting, actually put their hand less than an inch in front of my face to silence me so that they could answer instead.”

Whether you’re the CEO, an intern, or a new manager, working with others is a key part of success in every job. But managing well while empowering others requires a delicate balance.

Beyond learning the names of your interns, here are four tweaks you can make in your leadership.

Listen

Good listening is essential to management, and it begins long before you start a meeting.

Keys to listening well include generating questions in advance, keeping an open mind, and not jumping to conclusions before or during conversations. Don’t assume you know what someone is thinking; instead, listen with the intent of understanding before “solving.” And give your team conversational breathing room by personally checking in for “no good reason” on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You may be surprised by what they share!

Pair Criticism with Compliments

The Harvard Business Review says a good rule of thumb is to give more praise than criticism, but surveys show that 40% of respondents claim they never gave positive reinforcement.

People need a balance of both praise and criticism in order to thrive. Top performing teams typically give five positive comments for every critique.

Distinguish Between Personal and Organizational Issues

Employees will have challenges, and it’s your job to address them.

But workplace problems are typically either personal or organizational and treating them differently can be hugely helpful. Personal problems should be handled with compassion and accountability. But organizational issues may involve hiring, restructuring, or strategic planning. Don’t confuse bad attitudes with bad workflow policies!

Finish Meetings with a Question

Want to boost communication in your team?

Conclude every meeting with this question: is there anything else? Whatever is top of mind (concerns, challenges, excitement) will bubble to the surface quickly. This question signals you care and gives people permission to share things that aren’t explicitly on the agenda. Try it and see what happens!

From mediating personality clashes to enabling great leaders, your management skills are the key to growing great teams. Keep the conversations flowing as you encourage others, and your business will flourish.

The Bamboo Tree

kirk

Years ago, a man felt defeated by the failures in his life and decided to spend time alone in the woods. There he met a hermit. The man expressed his failures with the hermit, who then pointed to two plants and asked the man, “Do you see the fern and bamboo plants over there?” The man nodded yes.

The hermit continued, “When I planted the fern and bamboo seeds, I took excellent care of them both. Within a short time, the fern grew quickly, but the bamboo didn’t grow at all in the first year. But, I didn’t give up on the bamboo seed, and I continued to nurture it. Although it took a few years for the bamboo plant to sprout, when it was ready, it quickly grew a hundred feet tall.

Staring at the large bamboo tree in disbelief, the man asked why it took so long to grow. The hermit smiled and answered, “The bamboo tree was growing underground, developing a root system. Had it not developed a strong foundation, it wouldn’t be able to grow upward.”

Here’s the way I see it: Elbert Hubbard said it best, “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

Find Language to Express Your Ideal Design

Design involves a special kind of communication.

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First, creators must have an idea or concept in mind. Second, they need to articulate their ideas in ways graphic designers can bring to life on a page. This requires a common language, and sometimes graphic designers are known for having a vocabulary all their own.

If you’re working on a design concept, knowing the right terminology will help you communicate to produce the results you envision.

Here are some design adjectives that can help you articulate the concepts you’d like to see in your next print project:

Cool vs. Warm

On the color wheel, warm colors range from yellow to red-purple.

Those colors that are reminiscent of fire or the sun are called warm colors. These hues are reds, oranges, yellows, and pinks. Warm colors communicate energy, playfulness, happiness, sociability, and optimism.

Cool colors include blue, greens, and purple. These colors typically stand for sky, space, water, and nature, and communicate a calming or relaxing tone. Cool colors imply dependability, trust, growth, beauty, confidence, and power.

Minimalist vs. Maximalist

Minimalism is a style or technique that is characterized by cleanness, simplicity, and expressing the most essential ideas.

Minimalist designs use a small number of colors, simple lines, flat designs, or plenty of negative space.

Maximalist or baroque designs are lavish, highly decorative, or triumphant (think ornate wedding invitations). Minimalist designs are sparse and clean, while maximalist designs are exotic or busy.

Feminine vs. Masculine

Feminine designs are usually characterized by details such as soft color palettes, florals, and cursive writing. They may employ fluid, flowing fonts, pastel colors, facial close-ups or silhouettes, or feminine associations such as love, curves, fashion, or beauty.

Masculine designs are typically more rugged, monochromatic, or modern (think IKEA kitchen layouts). They may feature gritty images, thick fonts, hard edges, and darker color schemes.

Playful vs. Professional

Playful design styles are fun, giving an informal (rather than rigid) vibe.

Playful tones may be colorful, fantastical, non-realistic, or cartoon/caricature focused. Often these concepts focus around animals, mascots, illustrations, and impish font pairings.

Professional designs are usually characterized by muted colors and minimal details that represent conservative ideas. Formal tones are communicated with straight, classic font types, simple shapes or objects, minimalist and geometric use of line art, and cool colors (think college diplomas).

Abstract vs. Literal

Abstract designs shape images that are unhindered by what these objects might actually look in real life.

Abstract designs (like this Starbucks water bottle) are imaginative and varied, including ambiguous shapes, contemporary color palettes, curves and splatters, geometric patterns, or blurred images. Abstract art utilizes pure colors, shapes, and forms to express meaning (without getting bogged down in the storylines carried by objects and scenery). Abstract art can touch the emotions in a raw and powerfully direct way.

Literal designs are just the opposite, with concrete, objective ideas. Literal designs use sharp images, bold and simple fonts, and clearly defined limits.

Vintage vs. Modern

Vintage or retro (short for “retrospective”) is a style derived from trends of the recent past.

These designs incorporate rustic, nostalgic elements, including visual clues such as old letterpress, hand-drawn typefaces, ornate ribbons, sepia-filtered photos.

Modern designs are just the opposite, often changing in style. In 2019, modern graphic design trends include 3D design and typography, duotones and gradients, warm or moody color palettes for photos, and asymmetrical layouts.

One of the easiest ways to have a better client-designer working relationship is to align your project’s design style. Use this guide to get you started as a handy reference to communicate your ideas from start to print!

Hanging Business Cards

Hanging Business Cards. A CREATIVE WAY TO PROVIDE CONTACT

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INFORMATION. Hanging business cards, or swing cards, provide a great way to dress up and personalize business gifts, products, or promotional items that are uniquely shaped, or won’t accommodate a sticker or label. Hanging business cards are also a creative way to provide contact information on sponsorship donations, product giveaways, craft shows, and much more.

Just like traditional business cards, hanging cards are available in an endless variety of sizes, creative shapes, and styles. Fun customization examples could include die-cut shapes or edging, a square or narrow design, or even a folded business card. You can also spice up your business card by adding a tear-away coupon, save-the-date card, or promote your website or social media information.

Hanging business cards come perfectly punched, so they are ready to use immediately. If you’d like help creating the perfect hanging business card, our creative team would love to help! Contact us today at 856-429-0715 or visit http://www.sjprinter.com

#customprinting #business #digitalprint #printshop #digitalprinting #printing #marketing #printdesign

Three Video Content Tips to Humanize Your Brand

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Block that spam.

This describes the attitudes of today’s consumers. 80% of consumers say they mistrust half of all advertising, wearied by the half-truths and junk ads assaulting them daily.

Today’s marketing, sometimes called “The End of Control,” marks a revolt against technology-driven ads and marketing messages. People block them from inboxes, browsers, and social media feeds. They’ve disconnected landlines and screened robo-calls, rejecting nearly all that’s left.

The answer?

Humanized marketing that adds human-to-human (H2H) elements across all touch points a customer has with your business.

People crave inspiring experiences and authentic interactions with others.

You know that establishment in your neighborhood where people greet you by name, know your favorite special, ask about your hobbies, or offer amenities that make your day? That’s H2H at its best.

While you can’t touch everyone physically, video is one of your next best options. Globally, according to 2018 survey, 54% of consumers say they prefer to see video from a brand or business they support over other types of content. Through video, you can increase H2H contact and continually reimagine your business, demonstrating expertise, and sharing a vision in consistent, personable ways.

Intel harnessed this influence during a five-part “Meet the Makers” series, highlighting relatable stories of people around the world who used Intel products to create amazing experiences and new technology.

In one video, a 13-year-old named Shubham Banerjee shared how he used the technology to prototype and build an affordable braille printer to help blind people learn to read. By exposing viewers to inspirational technology stories, Intel sparked interest in a way product-centric advertising never could.

Want to grow your video presence and put humanized marketing in front of your viewers? YouTube strategist Trena Little has several content tips to help you grow your video niche:

Just Get Started.

Most people think they can’t do videos.

Perhaps they think they don’t have the right equipment, or don’t have a video strategy, “figured out.” Little says you don’t have to be an expert: “What people really connect with is when someone is just two or three steps ahead of them,” she said.

Remember, even when you know a little, it’s more than someone who knows next to nothing about a topic. Also, perfect backgrounds or cameras are non-essentials. “Just start posting videos!” Little says. After all, you have to start somewhere to get data to build on.

Mix it Up.

There are three main types of videos you can use: discoverable content (like tutorials and how-to videos), sales videos (featuring products, solutions, or directions to your landing page), and community videos (which connect with your audience even through things that don’t directly involve your business.

Remember, your goal isn’t primarily to sell products. Your “win” is establishing credibility and building relationships. Check out Android’s “Friends Furever” video for inspiration – this was the most shared video ad of 2015!

Hone Your Hook.

People don’t want to buy your product; they want to buy your solutions!

And they want to watch stories of people who understand their challenges. Little says it’s critically important to start videos strong. If you don’t address someone’s pain point or drive curiosity in the first 10 seconds, people will move on. Unpredictable story outcomes keep people engaged, as do value pitches and emotional words like “secrets” and “hacks.” Content that empowers the consumer is some of the most effective marketing you can generate.

Want to personalize your message and make your brand more human? You don’t have to be an expert in video to try combining it with your print marketing strategy. Stretch yourself today and give video content a try!

The Way I See It

kirk I thought you might enjoy this story about a young boy who learns to see the world in a new way.

Jack loved playing outside in the trees next to his backyard. One day, he noticed something glittering out of the corner of his eye. He discovered a pair of small, round glasses. Intrigued, he placed them on his face and couldn’t believe how everything looked differently through the lenses of the glasses. The trees were taller, their leaves were fuller, colors were more vibrant, and the world was brighter and more beautiful than he could’ve imagined!

Jack wore the glasses on the playground the next day where he noticed a boy crying by the monkey bars. The boy was new to the school and didn’t have any friends. Jack comforted him and gave his glasses to the boy, who immediately smiled ear to ear as he saw how beautiful everything looked. As Jack watched the boy, he realized that everything still looked beautiful even without the glasses. His experience wearing the glasses had changed the way he saw the world, and he knew that he would never be the same again.

Here’s the way I see it: Henry David Thoreau once said it best, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” We’d love to help you approach your print marketing ideas with a new perspective! Ask how we can help today!

Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?

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Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.

Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!

1. Take part in local events.

Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.

Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!

2. Create customized stickers or labels.

It’s not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!

Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.

3. Start a simple rewards system.

One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offering current customers a loyalty incentive.

If you have repeat customers or need subscription/service renewals to succeed, you can print loyalty punch cards, start a digital point-tracking system, or mail coupons to customers who make a baseline purchase with your business.

4. Offer demonstrations.

Life is more fun when you try new things.

If you wanted to learn yoga, woodworking, or the violin, would you learn by watching or by trying? Participation is an essential way to engage the body, mind, and emotions of your prospects.

Brainstorm ways you can combine learning and doing through presentations. Whether it’s giving samples, making online teaching videos, or offering live demonstrations at an industry event, engage your customers by getting them involved.

5. Launch cross promotions.

Is there some way you can build rapport between your business and another firm?

Work with another entrepreneur to offer giveaways, contests, or product discounts. During one holiday, GameStop and PayLess shoes partnered on a cross-promotional campaign. Shoppers at the video game retailer received register coupons for the shoe store, while shoppers at PayLess got discount coupons for GameStop. Because many of their stores are in close proximity, it was a winning strategy for both retailers. Cross promotions can include joint mailings, coupon partnerships, shared booth space, or promoting each other through social media.

6. Spread the word.

Got flyers? Door hangers and sell sheets? Looking to share the love? Go classic and canvas your area.

Pound the pavement and leave your print materials on porches, doorknobs, windows, cars, and more. Leave your business cards on restaurant tables, at coffee shops, in libraries, or even on mirrors. If you’re feeling brave, do some cold calling after you canvas and ask if you can share some follow up info.

7. Perfect your pitch.

What do you sell? What problem can you solve? If you can’t explain yourself in a single sentence, then you have a problem.

Like a great campaign slogan, an elevator pitch should summarize your business, product, or service in a concise, convincing fashion. YOU are your best advertisement, so have a short, convincing statement ready to introduce your business to new customers or colleagues any moment the opportunity is at hand!

A Building Block for the Future

Most of these tactics are inexpensive, but they do take time and effort.

Remember, results won’t come immediately, but boosting your name now can increase your revenue and enable you to cast a larger net in the future. Give us a call or visit our website to chat about affordable printed resources you can add to your offline marketing arsenal today.

Paper Shifts Color: Orange is the New Red

SO MANY ACRONYMS, SO LITTLE TIME

Have you ever been to a restaurant and all you wanted was a simple breakfast? Just when you thought you had your order all planned out, your waitress hits you with a rambling of options. Would you care for white, wheat, rye, or pumpernickel bread? Do you want those eggs fried, scrambled, poached, green, with a side of ham? Sometimes, the choices seem endless.

When it comes to printing, sometimes your options can feel a little like that, too. Take spot colors, for instance. Any colors that fall outside of the normal range of CMYK inks are commonly called “spot colors.” Where CMYK colors use a blend of four specific inks – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to create a wide range of color, spot colors are actually pre-mixed using a unique formula to create one, specific color. As you start to learn more about spot colors, one of the things you’ll notice is that just like your breakfast options, there are a number of different acronyms and options that you’re somehow supposed to be able to keep track of. Would you like coated, uncoated, or matte? Huh? Thankfully, they have pretty straightforward explanations.

C vs. U and Beyond

The acronyms C and U refer to “coated” and “uncoated.” The key thing to remember here is that when used in reference to spot colors, they’re actually talking about the paper and not the ink. Ink is made up of pigment (the color) and the carrier, which is usually oil. The oil part of the ink soaks into the paper and dries. The pigment sits up on top of the mineral or clay coating with coated papers, but soaks into the fibers with uncoated papers. Because the type of paper you’re using can have a pretty significant impact on the way the ink color appears in real life, it’s something you’ll want to try and keep track of.

Here’s an example of what coated versus uncoated paper would look like. You can see how the coated paper provides some extra “shine.”

 

That “shine” will affect how spot colors are displayed, so keep that in mind when making your paper choice.

Furthermore, if you were to compare the colors PANTONE 185C and PANTONE 185U side-by-side, for example, one of the first things you would notice is that PANTONE 185C looks a little brighter and a little more saturated than the PANTONE 185U version. You’re still talking about literally the exact same ink, but the difference between coated and uncoated stock changes the way that ink ultimately looks when printed. Pretty fascinating, and pretty important to remember when making your decisions!

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“M” stands for matte. Matte coated or dull coated papers are still coated with a mineral coating, so the ink colors typically look closer to the C or coated version, but keep in mind that these papers are not as bright and tend to make the color ink look a little more subdued.

Pretty simple, right?

Two other acronyms that you might encounter are CVU and CVC. The “CV” letters stand for “computer video” and are largely used to reproduce colors on a computer screen. Adding a “U” for uncoated or “C” for coated indicates which paper type is being simulated on the computer screen.

Hopefully, by now you’ve realized that your options aren’t nearly as hard to work with as you thought they were. Remember that these options, even though they’re used in conjunction with the ink are actually talking about the paper. The ink, for the most part, is the ink is the ink, but the paper is a whole different story. Select your swatches in any way you see fit, but remember, ultimately the type of paper you choose can make something darker, less saturated, more saturated or something else entirely.

Survey Subject Line Tips

CREATIVE SUBJECT LINES TO CONSIDER

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Did you know that nearly half of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line? Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a subject line for your next customer survey:

    • Offer an incentive, such as giving something away to the first XX people who respond, or entering responders into an exciting giveaway drawing.
    • Create a personalized survey to segmented lists and solicit feedback for services and products you know they have experienced, such as recently ordering room service in a hotel.
    • Consider timeliness and be sure to request feedback shortly after their experience.
    • Use compelling language to invoke a sense of urgency, and encourage the recipient to read your email and take the survey as soon as possible.

Here are a few subject line examples:

    • We can’t wait to hear if you enjoyed your massage today?
    • We’re offering a special gift for telling us about your experience!
    • We value your opinion, {Name}! Click here to review our services.
    • Tell us about your experience for a XX% off coupon off your next visit!

Printed survey cards can also be a great way to gather feedback from customers during their visit. Let us know if you’d like help creating a survey card that your customers will enjoy filling out.

5 Customer Service Phrases to Avoid (and What to Say Instead)

GettyImages-956959400.jpgIn May of 2018, Barbara Carroll ordered three cartons of toilet paper from Amazon. The order total: $88.17. The shipping charges? $7,455.

Carroll wasn’t overly concerned, as Amazon typically takes great care of its customers. But in this case, Carroll complained to Amazon six times and even wrote a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos. After every complaint, she received a form letter explaining a refund was impossible because the delivery arrived on time and undamaged. It wasn’t until Carroll notified a local television station (and the story went viral) that Amazon took action. Months later, she was finally reimbursed.

While this case is extreme, every company has its share of customer service flops. In some situations, the problem is no communication. In other cases, it’s inconsiderate attitudes.

Want to steer your team toward positivity? Here are five customer services phrases to avoid.

1. “No” (or) “I can’t help you with that.”

Even if a customer makes an impossible request, it’s your responsibility to care for them and to steer them toward a solution.

Alternatives to try:

“This feels like an issue which might be out of my control, but let me double check . . .”

“That’s not my area of expertise, but I want to connect you with someone who can help.”

2. “I don’t know” (or) “You need to check with someone else.”

If you can’t solve a problem, be as helpful as possible. Rather than abandoning someone mid-stream, work with them to find an answer.

Alternatives to try:

“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

“I’m not sure, but I’d be happy to look into that.”

3. “Ok, calm down.”

When diffusing a tense situation, telling someone to calm down usually frustrates them more. Instead, communicate empathy and turn the focus from the problem to the solution.

Alternatives to try:

“I understand how this must have upset you, and I’ll get on it immediately.”

“That would frustrate me too.”

“I’m sorry for this inconvenience. Let me help you with that right away.”

4. “I don’t understand the issue.”

People who are upset find uncertainty even more frustrating. If you’re struggling to connect, clarify the issue or soften your request.

Alternatives to try:

“OK, so let me clarify…”

“What I’m hearing is [ISSUE], is that correct?

“If it’s not too much of a problem, I would ask you to be a bit more specific…”

5. “I’m going to put you on hold.”

Time is valuable, so don’t assume you can extend a service call without asking permission. If you do have someone hold, check back with a status update if they’ve waited longer than two minutes.

Alternatives to try:

“I understand your issue and if it’s ok, I’m going to ask you to hold on while I check on a solution.”

“The problem you’re describing is rather peculiar, so if you have a minute, I’d like to put you on hold while I check with my supervisor.”

“I’ll get right on it. If it’s ok, I’d like to look into this today and call back to you once I resolve this.”

Ultimately, customer service is not about the right words but the right attitudes. Remember, the biggest customer service frustration question is “why isn’t this as important to you as it is to me?” As you handle issues, address the person behind the problem. Communicate with compassion, empathy, and enthusiasm, and you will find your way through many sticky situations.

Training Manuals

A GREAT WAY TO EDUCATE AND INFORM YOUR AUDIENCE

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Training manuals are a great way to educate and inform your audience. Whether you need sales training manuals, technical training manuals, employee training manuals, management training manuals, safety training manuals, or customer service training manuals, we can help!

Professionally printed training manuals and materials will help your audience get up to speed faster and thoroughly learn and understand your processes and procedures.

Training manuals can be bound in a variety of ways, such as comb binding, saddle stitch, perfect binding, wire-o binding, custom three-ring binders, and corner stapling. We can provide custom printed or color-coded tabs to help organize your information. We also offer short-run orders, which enable you to make updates and changes as new developments occur, and help you avoid having obsolete or outdated content.

In addition to training manuals, we can also help you create corresponding training materials like booklets and pamphlets, posters, flashcards, tests, and quizzes.

If you’d like help creating training manuals for your team, our professional print team would love to help. And remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close.

3 Reasons Direct Mail is Still Effective

Long before television and online marketing, direct mail ruled.

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One of the most popular examples of direct mailing can be traced back to Sears in 1888. The company sent a printed mailer to potential customers advertising watches and jewelry. Not long after, the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog became extremely popular nationwide.

Today direct mail has received a bit of a bad rap. The term “junk mail” isn’t exactly a compliment! Some refer to direct mail as an “old” form of advertising, thinking of direct mail as antiquated or off-target.

But is that really the case?

The fact is, many companies do use direct marketing. According to a 2015 study by the Data & Marketing Association, 57 percent of total mail volume was comprised of direct mail pieces.

Response to direct mail continues to be strong every year, generating leads for businesses across a range of industries. Consider customer response rates from these common marketing methods:

  • 0.9% — Online Displays
  • 0.6% — Social Media
  • 0.5% — Paid Search
  • 0.45% — E-mail Marketing
  • 6.0% — Direct Mail to Household

Why is Direct Mail Effective?

Direct mail is easy.

Direct mail marketing is helpful because it’s easy to process.

In an age of digital noise, the tactile presence of a physical mailing is refreshing! One study found it takes 21% less cognitive effort to process physical mail, so your audience can digest it quickly and easily.

Direct mail is interesting.

The USPS found that 47% of Millennials check their physical mailbox each day, and many consider perusing mail a leisurely activity.

According to the Data & Marketing Association and the USPS, 18-21 year-olds’ response rates to direct mail are as high as 12.4%. If you have a new business or are willing to offer coupon discounts, millennials are quite likely to respond!

Direct mail is memorable.

People who spend time with physical ads have a stronger emotional response and a better memory of this material.

Of course, a clever message goes a long way too! If you send direct mail, do your best to create colorful, memorable messages, like this:

IKEA wanted to feature the simplicity of its inexpensive furniture so they engineered a 3D postcard. When customers “opened” the postcard, this flat mailing turned into a replica of the LACK side table, available for under $10 at IKEA.

The postcard perfectly demonstrated one of IKEA’s clever design concepts – minimalist furniture that ships flat but pops to life upon arrival. IKEA’s postcard allowed users to experience the simple assembly of the LACK table, which left a deep, memorable impression.

Go Face-to-Face Through Distinct Direct Mail

Whether you send mass e-mails, many people will toss your message without reading it.

But if you send direct mail, some will offer you one-on-one attention they wouldn’t give to any other medium. Paul Entin, owner of New York City-based EPR marketing, said he uses direct mail because it stands tall in a digital generation:

“Except for the many catalogs that clog our mailboxes between Halloween and Christmas, most of us receive very little snail mail, certainly far less than in years past,” Entin said. “This means your direct mailer has a far greater chance to stand out from the rest of the mail and get noticed.”

If you need help creating the perfect direct mail piece that will stand out, we can help you every step of the way.

Grow Adaptability in the Midst of Change

Aspirations Concept“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” (John F. Kennedy)

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Change is inevitable, and the more we resist it, the tougher life becomes. The world changes dramatically each day, so adaptability is a necessary life skill and a critical leadership imperative. In his book Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts, Dr. Guy Winch describes how even the youngest among us illustrate adaptability:

Three toddlers are given a difficult task to do. Each handles the challenge in his or her own unique way: one cries and gives up immediately, one tries the same strategy over and over, and one tries different methods until he finds one that eventually works. Clearly, the third toddler has a higher level of adaptability. His resilience gives him both the strength to persevere and the wisdom to overcome. But this raises one question: is adaptability something you’re born with, or can you learn it? Even young children show that grit is not necessarily an inborn trait.

Flexibility or Versatility?

In their book, “The Platinum Rule,” Tony Alessandra and Michael O’Connor describe adaptability in two components: flexibility and versatility.

Flexibility deals with attitude: can you roll with the punches? Will you stop forcing a round peg in a square hole and try something new? Versatility deals with ability: are you capable of change? Do you have a propensity to adapt? While versatility may be an inborn trait, each of us can pursue flexibility.

Shifting Mindsets

Neuroscience demonstrates that our brains are moldable – meaning the paths, or neural networks of our minds, can be re-formed through our choices.

In neuroplasticity, the pathways of our minds (which determine our thoughts, choices, and actions) can be formed or reformed. This moldable quality remains even into our elderly years, so when we determine to change our attitudes, we can actually reform our brains.

Adaptable people do more than just cope, they embrace change daily. Adaptable people ask the hardest questions, hone strategies for dealing with the unknown, and make intentional shifts to address challenges. This requires honesty and authenticity. Ask your team to point out blind spots or glaring inaccuracies in your business. Address and enact change regularly, and your old neural pathways will lose their potency.

Shifting Behaviors

Choices become behavior and behaviors become habits.

Some habits are great, but others create deep ruts that are hard to escape. To grow adaptability, force yourself to experiment with new choices: join activities, meet new people, and listen to podcasts you completely disagree with. Write a list of five hard things and then go do them. Have teammates teach you a new skill or allow younger people to lead meetings you would normally facilitate. Immerse yourself in new environments so you are more comfortable with change as a lifestyle. You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself and others!

Shifting Destinations

Some of the greatest things in life were born from imagination.

Satisfying curiosity releases dopamine in your brain, so give yourself permission to dream, wonder, and wander. Dr. Todd Kashdan says “curious explorers” are people who see life an enjoyable quest to discover, learn, and grow. Curious explorers are people who:

  • Notice small details in the daily grind
  • Remain open to people without judging or reacting too quickly
  • Let novelty unfold while resisting the temptation to control the flow
  • Read books, build models, take classes, or start a hobby “just for fun”

Ready, set, grow! By shifting mindsets and behaviors, you can increase flexibility in a way that reforms both your habits and your brain.

Fishing Outside the Box

kirkA game warden approached a man with a bucket full of live fish as he was enjoying a beautiful morning on the lake. The game warden asked the man, “May I see your fishing license, please?” Without missing a beat, the man replied, “I would, sir, but I don’t need a fishing license. These are my pet fish.”

“Pet fish?!” the game warden replied in disbelief. “What are you talking about?” The man calmly said, “Once a week, I bring my fish down to the lake and let them swim around for a while. Then I whistle, and they swim right back in my net, and I take them home again.”

Getting annoyed, the game warden said, “I don’t think so. I’m afraid you’re under arrest.” The man quickly replied, “It’s the truth – we do it all the time. Just let me show you!” The game warded agreed, “OK, fine. PROVE it.”

The man released the fish into the lake and stood and waited. After a few minutes, the warden said, “Well, when are you going to call them back?” The man replied, “Call who back?”

Here’s the way I see it: If you’re looking for a printer who will always be upfront and honest, look no further! We can help you create custom printing pieces you’ll love and within your budget. Give us a call today.

Test Your Brand Messages to Maximize Impact

GettyImages-971373744.jpgDonald Miller is an author, speaker, and CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps businesses clarify their message.

StoryBrand helps hundreds of brands to eliminate confusion, connect with customers, and grow sales. Miller says many brands struggle to break through because they don’t test their brand messages before sharing:

“We have a mantra at StoryBrand: If you confuse, you lose,” said Miller. “The answer to confusion is always ‘no’. When people are so close to what they offer, they tend to be either really vague or they speak inside language. I’m amazed.”

“I’ll actually say to somebody, ‘Do you think on a scale of 1-10 that your message is really clear, from 1-10 with ten being clear?’ They will say they are a 10. I will tell them to come up in front of the group [and] ask them to tell me what they offer. They will say, ‘Nutritional packages that allow equestrian products to flourish.’”

Clear as mud, right? Miller says professionals often fail to use simple phrases people can easily understand:

“Here’s the thing, test it at Starbucks. You’re standing in line . . . there are strangers all around. Say, ‘I’m so sorry to bother you, but I’m actually starting a business. Can I tell you what I offer and then ask you if you understand?’”

Does Your Message Resonate?

Companies allocate enormous resources to hone their message.

A brand message, communicated to your target audience, describes what you do, the value you bring, or how you’re different. Your brand message should resonate with the needs, wants, or luxuries of your niche, sometimes with simple slogans like these:

Eat Fresh.

Designed for Driving Pleasure.

Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.

Strong brand messages are memorable, stir an emotional response, and distinguish a brand from its competitors. But when companies hone their identity, they sometimes miss a key element: relevance to their customers. What’s important to your company may not be the thing that matters to your customers. Consider these questions to clarify:

  • Why does my brand matter? Why does it matter to our customers?
  • What does our brand stand for? How will this affect our customers?
  • How are we different than competitors? Why does this matter to our customers?

When you don’t speak to customers on their terms, you are probably falling short. Be clear on what your customers care about and how you can address their situation. Use language that is authentic and messages that align with your clients’ desires or purchasing plans.

Also, consider testing brand messages before publicizing them. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by simply reading your copy out loud to yourself. Does it sound conversational and real? Then test it out on others. Poll your friends and family, create anonymous surveys for staff and clients, run focus groups with target audience members, or do a website trial with a third-party testing tool. As you move forward, consider logging the impact of:

Product descriptions

E-mail subject lines

Print ads, graphics, or layout options

Call to action statements

Packaging colors or logo designs

Slogans/taglines

Online landing pages

Advertising campaign concepts

Time or location an ad is presented

While testing takes work, business leaders agree it is worth the effort: 72% of advertising professionals said it’s important to test an ad before it’s launched, and 85% of product-focused managers said testing is vital to their success at work. Testing content can sharpen your focus, make your message more relevant, and boost the response to your marketing pieces.

Use Color Contrast to Trick the Brain

LEND COLOR TO YOUR DESIGN

What would you say is the primary organ used for your sense of sight?
While many would quickly answer that question with “the eye,” it’s actually your brain. Why?

Because while your eyes do collect visual information, your brain is the mastermind behind it that interprets the data in a way that is meaningful to you.

You can manipulate the brain to your advantage in your designs by merely adjusting the hue, value, and saturation of different colors.

Color Theory Basics

As you get started with your next design, revisiting some basics of color theory can be helpful.

Did you know that the human eye adjusts when focusing on colors of different wavelengths? This is why colors with longer wavelengths appear closer while those with shorter wavelengths seem more distant.

Cool colors (blue, green, purple) seem to recede, while warm colors (red, yellow, and orange) seem to close in or advance. In multicolor compositions, contrasting colors can create all kinds of movement.

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Here are some other brain-manipulating techniques you can experiment with on your next print project.

1. Create More Contrast
The greater the difference between a figure and its backdrop, the more sharply defined (or near) a figure will appear to be. A dark figure will come forward (toward the viewer) on a light background, while a light object will possess more depth when placed on a dark background.

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2. Experiment with Different Hues
On a dark blue brochure, a light blue subheading will advance slightly, but a bright yellow headline will leap forward. If your background and foreground are similar in hue (like a hot pink background with yellow font), the yellow will read much cooler than it does on dark blue.

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3. Use Dull, Neutral Backgrounds
Using backgrounds like tan or grey when you want to draw attention or create a primary focus in your design. Dropping nearly any color on these muted shades can make your focal point sing!

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4. Influence the Way Viewers Perceive Size
Did you know an object in a lighter seems larger than an equally-sized object in a darker color?

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Here’s a more real-world example: a political advertisement contrasting two people may use a photo of the opposing candidate wearing a blue shirt positioned in front of a cool green background. Next to this photo, the favored candidate wears a gleaming white shirt while placed before a dark blue background. Though the portraits are equal in size, the white to blue contrast exerts a visual force on the eye that makes the favored candidate seem larger. This gives “the good guy” a substantial, energetic persona that dominates the page!

Every element in your design exerts a visual force that attracts a viewer’s eye. Use color contrasts to make your products advance, to increase the weight of your focal point, and to stir an emotional response in your audience.

Savvy Tips for the Best Stock Photo Selection

Image is everything.

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Statistically speaking, compelling images average 94 percent more views, are three times more likely to be shared online, and significantly increase your likelihood of capturing new leads. Professional photos are a fantastic way to boost the impact of your brochure, booklet, or mailing. But if you’re planning to use a stock image, here’s some interesting info to consider.

A few years ago, the Marketing Experiments tested the performance of stock versus custom photos. They found that, when swapping a generic stock image of a woman with a photo of the ACTUAL founder (and a caption naming him), they saw a 35% increase in conversions. Later, the Nielsen Norman Group eye-tracking studies found that, when photos of “real” people were compared with stock photos, the stock photos were largely ignored. The conclusion? When it comes to design perception, humans seem to have a sixth sense for authenticity.

Unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have time to arrange for custom photos, and stock photos are the most convenient and cost-effective option.

How can you make stock photos more personal or effective in your publications? With the right eye and a few helpful tips, you can select stock photos that look more natural, professional and unique.

1. Use all your senses to evaluate photos.

What has a more powerful impact on you – a steaming plate of stir fry or a generic picture of a grocery aisle?

Texture and sensory cues in photos can whet appetites, evoke emotions, or awaken desire in your clients. When designing an event flyer or business brochure, look for photos with strong visual cues: a cuddly bathrobe, a sun-drenched field, a sinful piece of chocolate, or a brilliant vase of fresh flowers, for example. Sidestep photos that seem generic, dated, or bland to the senses.

2. Avoid clichés.

Since the eye tends to ignore stock photos, search for images that are more personal and specific in focus. Some of the most over-used symbolic clichés include piggy banks (savings), plain light bulbs (ideas), crossroads (decisions), high fives (teamwork), or handshakes (business partnerships). Instead choose photos that show real action, stark color contrasts, facial close-ups, stunning landscapes, playful pets, or generational diversity.

3. Add extra search filters.

When searching for images, enter multiple keywords to narrow your focus.

The more personal your photo is, the more effective it will be, so make search tags as specific as possible. This can include anything from image orientation and aspect ratio to the number or people pictured and the activity they’re involved in. When setting search filters, try geographical landscapes, types of food, sports activities, board game names, alphabet letters, times of day, emotions, temperatures, and more. Long-tailed searches with multiple keywords can help you find images that scream authenticity.

4. Finish well.

Always choose the highest resolution available on the stock photos you purchase.

This will give you many options for zooming in or altering an image. Sometimes a single image can be cropped in unique ways to give you multiple photos while maintaining a cohesive theme for your layout. Resolutions higher than 300 PPI are essential for professional printings, though large-scale printings may vary. If you have questions on a specific question, just give us a call!

Images work best when they don’t look like stock photos, so work hard to avoid clichés, to arouse the senses, and to personalize your selections. Keep it creative and keep it real, and your designs are sure to stick!

Drive Fresh Traffic for Your Business

A new era in business is bringing fresh flavor to Kohl’s.

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As traditional retailers struggle to keep their doors open, Kohl’s executives are trying something radically different: a grocery partnership with Aldi. In March of 2018, the department store announced it would team up with Aldi to offer grocery sales in 10 of its locations.

“The key priority we have as a company is to drive traffic,” Kevin Mansell, the chief executive of Kohl’s said in a Thursday earnings call. “We’re focused on traffic-driving retailers: Groceries, supermarket chains, they drive a lot of traffic. We’re finally on a path where we’re getting more [shoppers].”

In an age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar businesses have to hustle to make their company more relevant to consumers. Kohl’s has experimented with lighter inventory, smaller stores, and more streamlined partnerships with companies like Under Armour and Amazon. Other retail giants have focused on adding communal spaces, demonstration areas, and workshops to encourage shoppers to linger.

Feed Your Funnel with New Customers

Ultimately, every successful business has to draw new business and keep customers coming back.

In your niche, there are probably several complementary businesses that don’t compete directly with your product or service. Many of these companies have a base that could easily feed your sales funnel.

What are the mutually beneficial relationships you could build with other businesses?

While Aldi and Kohl’s may seem like an unlikely match, their differences balance each other in a unique way, allowing Kohl’s to gain additional foot traffic and offering Aldi to expand their market reach. For Aldi, renting space within Kohl’s stores is cheaper than building stand-alone stores, and the partnership creates exposure for the lesser known German grocery chain.

As you consider new partnerships, it’s also healthy to keep an eye on the competition, because an ideal way to grow your client base is to capture users who are already in need of services like yours! Examine the market tactics of businesses you compete with. What product are they offering? What are they doing that their customers like or dislike? How could you do it in a better, more personalized way?

Actively monitor what your competitors are doing in web design, service packages, or marketing techniques to feed your creativity or to counter punch with your own sales strategies. Looking to woo some of your competitor’s customers? Tools like Mention or Reddit can help you monitor customer sentiment. Online reviews of your competitors are also a great place to see how your rivals are succeeding or where you can do better.

Position Yourself as the Answer

Whether you’re wooing new customers or generating leads, it’s important to give potential clients a good reason to try your services.

Think about what makes your ideal customer happy, sad, scared, or excited, and position yourself to bring the answers they need. “Identify those places where they are likely to be found (media, online, offline, mail, etc.) and then create messages for them,” says Jeff Motter, CEO and chief marketing officer of Easy Bay Marketing Group. This may mean creating content via webinars or printed newsletters or physically networking through community events or industry conferences.

And don’t forget to close the loop.

After your efforts to bring in business, remember to intentionally follow up with calls, e-mails, or samples. Many prospects and great conversations fall by the wayside because you fail to execute after a lead shows interest. As real estate sales guru Michelle Moore says, “Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.”

Printed Newsletters

INCREASE THE IMPACT OF YOUR NEWSLETTER

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If you’re looking for a creative way to strengthen your relationship with your audience and increase customer engagement, printed newsletters are a win-win solution! Here are a few tips to increase the impact of your newsletter:

Include a variety of content to educate, inform, and entertain, using short stories, bulleted information, and lists. A great rule for newsletters is 40 percent company/product information, 40 percent industry related, and 20 percent general interest.

Consider a reoccurring segment, such as a fun quiz, contest, or top 10 list.

Think outside the box and consider designing your newsletter as a placemat, oversized or folded postcard, or even a statement stuffer or door hanger.

In addition to mailing your newsletter, consider handing them out at trade shows or at sales calls or providing them at your front desk.

Become a source of information on upcoming industry events such as speakers, tradeshows, etc.

Consider an “Ask an Expert” section where readers can submit questions and an industry expert will provide an answer in an open forum for all to see.

Don’t forget a call to action to request more information, place an order, or stop by to redeem a coupon or learn more about a product offer.

If you need help creating a newsletter your audience will look forward to reading, our creative team has lots of great ideas. Give us a call or stop by today!

 

How to Keep Your Business Focused Through the Subtle Danger of Mission Drift

Life is full of good opportunities.

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Good books to read, good events to attend, good projects to pioneer. But good things can knock us off track in pursuing the very best.

What does “the best” look like in your leadership?

It means doing what you are uniquely called to do in the style that is distinct to your personality, position, and organizational DNA. Living “the best” in leadership means that your most important job isn’t to manage the budget, to develop new products, or even to lead your team.

Your most important task is to continually cast vision.

The subtle tension every leader will face is the reality of mission drift. Mission drift happens when we are pulled off of our message or our mission, whether intentionally or accidentally. This can be an irresistible force that results in loss of momentum or a crisis of identity, so strategic leaders build in measures to continually recalibrate. If you don’t prioritize vision casting, you may end up navigating a ship that’s going in an entirely different direction than you intended.

How can you build strategic safeguards to keep your organization focused? Here are a few steps.

One Key Leader

Begin by enlisting one board member or key staff person who is committed to alignment.

Be sure they buy into your team’s mission and charge them with safeguarding its integrity. When opportunities arise that may detract from the mission, it’s great to have someone speaking up (perhaps against the majority!) or analyzing decisions from a broader perspective.

A Focused Core Team

Do everything you can to focus your core team around the mission.

Set times to swap stories about where you recently saw the “mission win” and publicly acknowledge those who are keeping the main thing the main thing. Exit or discipline people who don’t, even if they perform well in other areas. If your core team is sold out to the mission, it will pay bigger dividends in the long run.

A Culture of Mission

Your mission should be more than a vague concept on your website, but a regular part of the professional experience.

Use stories and symbols to embed purpose in your culture so people encounter it daily:

  • Mount core values on the walls. Use them as a guide for decisions and a platform for sharing new initiatives.
  • Design strategic symbols (racetracks, funnels, etc.) to communicate process. 65 percent of people are visual learners, and concepts become memorable when they’re connected with an image.
  • Put a face on success by sharing testimonials (in person or through letters) from people who have been positively affected by the vision. Illustrations exemplify goals and make heroes of people who are living the mission.
  • Use slogans to cement conviction. Ritz-Carlton hotels use the motto, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen” to exemplify the anticipatory service provided by all staff members. Simple slogans, shared repeatedly with conviction, can motivate people to do things they would normally never do.

Make Your Mission Specific and Measurable

When coaching your team, provide concrete actions that explain how you’ll achieve your vision.

Use results-oriented descriptions (like, “you’ll know you’ve done a good job when _____.”) Outline action steps to take and celebrate mile markers achieved. Enlist creative people who can help you celebrate daily victories.

Wandering is natural. If you don’t strategically refocus people around a singular vision, your organization will fail to thrive. Lean on these strategies and safeguard your team from the dangerous drift that every leader will face.

How to Use Silence to Strengthen Your Leadership Presence

Market-364 (1)Jack Reacher is a fictional character in a series of crime thriller novels by British author Lee Child.

In the 1997 novel Killing Floor, Reacher randomly exits a Greyhound bus in Georgia and is later arrested in a local diner for a murder he did not commit. While questioned in custody, Reacher wields the power of silence to maintain his personal advantage:

“Long experience had taught me that absolute silence is the best way. Say something, and it can be misheard. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. It can get you convicted. It can get you killed. Silence upsets the arresting officer. He has to tell you silence is your right but he hates it if you exercise that right. I was being arrested for murder. But I said nothing.”

Communicate Authority with Silence

Silence holds immense power, especially in situations that involve negotiation.

As inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci said, “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” Dynamic leaders often use silence to their benefit. When handled with intention and purpose, silence is what some leaders call “a communication superpower.”

Do you tend to interrupt, dominate conversations, or explain your perspective from multiple angles in order to sway opinion? If silence is an overlooked resource in your communication toolkit, you might need to change strategies.

Silence can increase your authority and grow your influence in at least four powerful ways.

Silence Builds Trust

 

According to best-selling author Bryant H. McGill, “one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

If you want to develop effective relationships, you must build trust. And trust begins with listening. Unfortunately, most people don’t listen with the intent to hear, they listen with the intent to reply. When people realize you are truly listening to them, they are much more likely to buy into your ideas.

Silence Can Emphasize Your Point

When you have something important to say, state it briefly and allow a long pause for your words to sink in.

Communication is more than the words we speak, it involves the energy we transmit. When you give room for a lengthy pause, you show people you aren’t scrambling to convince them. And as your words fully land with others, you don’t need to talk as much because silence creates room for people to understand and connect to what you are saying.

Silence Communicates Credibility

Have you ever sat through a meeting where several people squabbled while one person stayed silent?

Eventually, everyone felt tension and curiosity about what the quiet party was thinking. When a silent observer finally interjects an opinion, it speaks louder than the clamor and carries a more memorable quality. “She is so wise,” people think, because sometimes there is a credibility that can only be communicated through silence.

Also, it never hurts to take a lengthy period of time to think before commenting. Abraham Lincoln has been credited with this quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Silence Increases Negotiating Power

A primary negotiation tactic involves asking a question and letting the other person answer first.

Silence when negotiating can give you the advantage because its “deafening” weight can prompt others to speak first. For example, when the other party offers a salary figure or point of compromise, don’t answer immediately. Instead, pause and let the discomfort of silence flush out a bit more detail. Maybe they will offer more or show their own hand.

Leaders know how to use silence as a tactic to communicate authority and influence. Experiment with silence during your conversations and observe the impact it can make.

Tips to Remember Names

TIPS TO HELP YOU REMEMBER SOMEONE’S NAME

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Remembering other people’s names is very important when building personal and professional relationships. By recognizing a person by name, you make them feel like they are important to you and have a connection to you. As Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Here are a few tips to help you remember someone’s name:

  • When meeting someone, immediately repeat their name by responding, “Nice to meet you, Mark. I’m John.”
  • When you part ways, use their name again, “It was great talking to you, Mark.”
  • Make a connection between the person you’re talking to, and someone else you know with the same name, for example, “Andy, like my uncle.”
  • Don’t call people by abbreviated names or nicknames unless that is how they introduce themselves. For example, someone named Gabrielle may not want to be called Gabby or Gabs.
  • Ask the person to repeat or spell unique names to ensure you can say it correctly. It will also help you remember their name, and the other person will appreciate you making an effort to pronounce their name correctly.
  • Ask the person if they have a business card or contact card. Seeing their name in writing will help you remember it.

If you’d like help creating a personalized business card or contact card, we have lots of creative ideas to ensure you make a memorable connection. Ask us to see card examples today!

The Pencil’s Tale

Here is an inspiring little story about a pencil that I thought you would enjoy:

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One day, a pencil master was about to pack a brand-new pencil into a box and said to it, “There are five things you need to know before I send you out into the world. Always remember these five rules – never forget them – and you will become the best pencil you can be!”

  1. Remember, you will be able to do many great things, but only if you put yourself in someone else’s hands.
  2. From time to time you will experience a painful sharpening, but remember that this will make you a better pencil.
  3. Don’t forget that you will be able to correct any mistakes you might make along the way.
  4. The most important part of you is what’s on the inside.
  5. And remember, upon every surface you are used, you must leave your mark.

Here’s the way I see it: A wise man once said, “Live your life on purpose.” If you’d like help refreshing the purpose of your essential marketing materials, we’d love to help!

7 Banner Options to Raise Your Bottom Line

GettyImages-1129342683.jpgAs a small business owner, you need ways to grab attention and look your best, and business signage is your foremost advertising tool.

For high-traffic areas custom printed vinyl banners are an excellent investment. In terms of cost, a vinyl banner is one of the most inexpensive, most high-impact marketing tools.

Vinyl banners are also versatile, great for large exteriors, point-of-sale kiosks, welcome centers, or interior displays.

Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business’ profits. Pole banners can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.

Banner Inspiration

Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Here are several types of banners that can give you a killer first impression.

Ceiling Banners

Get your customers looking up by taking advantage of your unused ceiling space!

Use ceiling banners for event signage, special events, product features, or welcome messages. Suspended banners or circular hanging signs are eye-catching, easy to install, and extremely impressive.

Personalized Retractable Banners

Great for special events or pop-up displays, roll-up retractable banners include accompanying stand and carrying case for mobility.

Economical retractable banners are sleek, lightweight, and easy to transport.

Seasonal Business Banners

A fresh look conveys momentum and energy.

Print seasonal business banners to spice up any seasonal promotion, window display, or an exterior signpost.

Feather Flags

Want to get the job done with a contemporary edge?

Feather or teardrop flags are especially effective when you have limited space or want to enhance your exterior advertising.

The average storefront sign is seen 50-60 times per month by anyone living within five miles of your location. This could be responsible for as much as 85% of your monthly walk-in sales!

For street and sidewalk advertising, festivals, trade shows, and more, feather flags or waving swooper flags will catch attention and make your message shine.

Text or Graphic Only Banners

Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most effective, especially when you want to send a straightforward message that can be understood at a glance.

Try monochromatic backgrounds, all caps letters, or sharp contrasts between the images and elements in your banner.

Welcome Banners

Whether it’s a grand opening, a sidewalk greeting, or a hallway banner, welcome banners are an appealing option to add a professional, hospitable touch.

Bright colors and branded designs are ideal for putting your best foot forward.

Sale Banners

When surveyed, 50% of in-store shoppers named “on-premise signage” as the reason for their visit or purchase.

People are always hunting for a deal, so shout it loud with banners that can’t be overlooked.

Want to stretch your budget? Print generic banners (think “20% Off,” “Free Shipping,” “Featured Item,” or “New Collection Clearance”) so you can use them repeatedly.

Banners can attract attention, create brand association, and set the tone for your business. Capitalize on this simple marketing tool and accelerate your sales today!

Increase Conversions with Great Closing Techniques

GettyImages-177303145.jpgThe most expensive deal in baseball history was finalized this February in a casino.

The Phillies pursued outfielder Bryce Harper for months, introducing him to some of Philadelphia’s finest, sweet talking him in the high-backed gold leather booths of the ARIA resort in Las Vegas, and ultimately offering him the most expensive deal in baseball history ($330 million over 13 years).

At age 26, Harper signed the longest contract in baseball history. In a casino that radiates the fragrance of mid-century Hollywood, the showmanship of the atmosphere embodied the glamour of the agreement. It was an epic conversion.

Just Sign on the Dotted Line

Sale-closing conversations can be nerve-wracking and nuanced.

No matter how impressed people seem during your presentation, there’s no telling whether they will postpone or look elsewhere. After wooing your customer, it’s time to take the plunge and ask for a commitment.

Here are a few keys to make this step easier.

Identify the Decision Maker

To close a deal, be sure you’re actually talking to the person in the driver’s seat.

In some cases, supervisors send scouts in to assess the options, but they do not have decision-making authority. In this case, be sure to customize your pitch to the decision maker or do whatever you can to arrange a meeting or phone call with this individual.

Offer a Solution

Sales can seem pushy if they center around your product or package.

When working with a prospect, do your best to provide a holistic solution that meets their business needs. If a consulting relationship would be better than a particular product, consider how you can flex options or offer a better fit.

Solutions-focused conversations include re-stating customer concerns, asking clarifying questions, overcoming stated objections, or possibly returning later with more information.

Be genuine and assure clients that you care about their business (and not just the sale).

Attach a Deadline

No decision is, in itself, a decision.

It’s human nature to shy away from commitment, and your job is to help people overcome this inertia. Offer incentives to commit: a discount, a free add-on, or a trial subscription to start.

Incentives give your prospects a reason to make the decision NOW, giving them confidence that they have the upper hand in negotiation.

Ask for Next Steps

After any customer call or completed action item, ask your prospect how they would like to proceed.

If they are uncertain, make suggestions or ask pointed, closing questions.

Here are some options to get you started:

  • Why don’t you give us a try?
  • Ready to move forward?
  • Why don’t I send over the proposal now?
  • It seems like this is a good fit for your company. What do you think?
  • If we throw in ____, will you sign the contract today?
  • If we could find a way to deal with _____, would you sign the contract by ________?
  • You’re interested in X and Y options, right? If we get started today, you’ll be up and running by ___.
  • Unless you have any other questions, I think we’re ready to move forward!
  • When should we begin your _________?
  • What are your next steps?
  • Why don’t I leave you with ____ and follow up ______?

Being a courageous, tactful closer is one of the most important techniques you can master.

Use incentives, closing questions, and solutions-based options to move your prospects to action. Superior networking tools will only strengthen your ask, so visit with us today about printed pieces that can help you seal the deal!

Sharing Photos with Family and Friends

SHARE PHOTOS PRIVATELY

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While it’s fun to share photos across social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, sometimes you want to share photos privately with individuals or a select group of people. Rather than sending multiple emails with large attachments, here are a few easy solutions:

    • If you and your friends/family are already avid Facebook users, create a private group on Facebook. Click groups on the left side of the page, then choose “Create Group” and set your privacy setting to “Secret Group.” This option is great for families and friends sharing photos of special occasions, such as weddings, babies, parties, and more. It’s also ideal for groups that enjoy leaving comments you may not want to be shared publicly.
    • Amazon Prime Photos is a photo-storage site for Amazon Prime members. It lets you store and share unlimited photos on your desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Users can invite up to five friends or family members to receive unlimited photo storage and collect photos in a Family Vault, and you can show pictures on Echo Show or Fire TV.
    • If you already use cloud-storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Photos, or Microsoft OneDrive, you can simply use these programs to create shared folders. The people you invite will have exclusive access to view and add photos in these folders.
    • Apple’s iCloud service integrates with its own Apple Photos software on Macs and iOS devices, although you can use the basic features on a Windows PC. You can upload photos to the free 5GB of space and share them in an online photo stream that can be viewed in Apple Photos or as a web page. Photos can be tagged with names and locations, and other iCloud users can also add their photos.

No matter which platform you use to share photos, always remember to use your best judgment, since someone else can always reshare it without your permission.