You Can Never Have Too Many Purchase Points

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The sales funnel in a business has changed dramatically in recent years, thanks in large part to how digital and print marketing have been married together. The customer experience is now a fragmented one, and if you’re only giving your audience one opportunity to buy, you could be leaving lots of money on the table. In truth, you can never have too many purchase points in today’s modern climate for a number of key reasons.

How Freedom Gave Way to Multi-Point Marketing

The internet, in particular, has naturally led purchasing decisions to become more complex over time. Because more information is now readily available than at any point in the history of consumerism, people now spend huge volumes of time researching before they make that move towards a purchase. They’re also getting their information from many different sources. Dimensional Research conducted a study that revealed 90% of people are influenced by online reviews before making a purchase. Another study revealed that 36% of people use a company website before making a purchase, another 22% rely on face-to-face interaction, and 59% even find out what their friends or family members have to say before they make a decision one way or the other.

You might think that this massive influx of information would make the sales funnel simpler, as it’s now easier than ever to find the actionable information you need to make the most informed decision with your hard-earned money. However, it’s actually had the reverse effect. Things have gotten significantly more complex as even the average consumer’s opinion is now being pulled in a number of different directions.

The 21st Century Sales Funnel

This massive shift in the way that consumers operate has created a ripple effect, changing the way businesses operate at the same time. It requires marketers, in particular, to respond in more diverse ways, starting with not just how they’ve optimized their sales funnel to take into consideration 21st-century buying practices, but how they’ve designed the funnel in the first place.

According to a piece that first appeared in Forbes, content marketing is one of the primary keys to helping address these modern day challenges. Essentially, modern businesses need to assume that EVERY point in the sales funnel is a potential purchase point and content needs to be created to match. Content marketing lets businesses created and distribute relevant, valuable, and consistent content to attract their clearly-defined audience. If you’re assuming that your audience could be ready to buy at the drop of a hat, naturally how you design that content will have to respond.

In essence, content and your larger marketing efforts must now be ready to address problems earlier in the buying cycle than ever before. The only purchase point in your sales funnel can no longer be the one at the end. Any point can now be a purchase point if you know what you’re doing. These types of techniques also give way to an added benefit of allowing marketers to take advantage of more diverse channels to attract the largest audience possible from the outset.

So, not only are you getting consumers who are ready to buy sooner than ever before, but you’re also getting a larger number of leads entering into the funnel. It may be trickier to manage, but it’s the type of situation that our marketing ancestors would have gladly killed for.

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Reputation Management: Why You Need to Keep a More Proactive Watch Over Your Most Valuable Asset

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While it’s true that your brand’s reputation will play a significant role in an essential factor like word-of-mouth, the real power of paying attention to what people are saying about you runs a bit deeper.

 

The Importance of Reputation Management: Facts and Figures

Consider the following statistics to help paint a vivid picture of the situation you’re dealing with:

  • According to one study, an incredible 74% of people now consult Yelp or a similar service when looking for some type of business or service provider – even if they plan on carrying on a relationship exclusively in “real life.”
  • The above statistic may actually be on the conservative side – another study indicated that 97% of consumers say that they read online reviews about local businesses on a regular basis before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
  • Speaking of which, a one-star rating hike on a service such as Yelp often equates to a 5% to 9% rise in overall revenue. Let that sink in for just a second.
  • Another study by the World Economic Forum revealed that on average, more than 25% of a company’s market value could be tied back directly to its reputation and general perception.
  • A massive 86% of people say that they would pay more for services if they could guarantee they were being provided by a company with higher ratings and a larger number of positive reviews.

As these and other statistics indicate, reputation management is a lot more than just doing what you can to control word of mouth. Even people who discover your brand, your products, or your services entirely independently of anyone else could still shy away from that purchase if your reputation isn’t what they were expecting.

The most alarming statistic of all, however, is the fact that 50% (!) of business owners say that they have found incorrect information on their business listings. This means that not only is this info damaging your reputation in a potentially harmful way to your bottom line, but it’s doing so needlessly as it is incorrect in the first place.

Getting a Grip on Your Reputation

The most important thing to understand about reputation management is that it is NOT something you do once and then forget about. This will require you to look online on a regular basis to see what people are saying about you, what information is getting posted, and taking advantage of any opportunities for course correction as they present themselves.

But even going beyond just correcting false information, there are a number of other essential proactive steps you can take to help strengthen your reputation as much as possible.

Send follow-up surveys to buyers to see what you did properly and, more importantly, what mistakes you made. If someone sends you an email with a legitimate issue, be sure to follow-up on that issue within 24 hours.

Never, under any circumstances, encourage people to leave “fake” or “artificial” reviews about you or a competitor. The consequences far outweigh anything you will gain. This includes offering gifts for good reviews.  If you’re caught, and you likely will be, there is no telling what damage you might sustain.

In the end, reputation management is something that you will have to do on a regular basis moving forward. It’s a large part of why many businesses hire employees with this particular job in mind. But then again, when you’re talking about what is arguably the most valuable asset your business has, it makes perfect sense that this amount of effort would be required.

Customer Care Card.

 A VERY HELPFUL AND THOUGHTFUL ADDITION TO ANY PURCHASE.

product-325Customer care cards are a very helpful and thoughtful addition to any purchase. Care cards can not only thank customers for their purchase, but they can also include convenient information on your return/exchange policy, your contact information, warranty information, signup information for exclusive discounts and promotions, re-ordering instructions, and much more. Customer care cards can be designed in any format, ranging from a simple, flat one-sided card to a folded card, or even an elaborate die-cut or foil-embossed card. As a creative alternative to a card insert, customer care statements could also be created as a sticker to affix directly on your packaging to ensure it gets noticed. Order yours today! Call us at 856.429.0715 or visit: www.sjprinter.com

3 Gems for Small Business Owners from Jack Ma

ThinkstockPhotos-637152312.jpgAt a recent business leader meeting put on by American Express, Jack Ma from the Alibaba Group was the guest celebrity speaker. The reason why was that Mr. Ma was invited to share a bit of his wisdom and advice, particularly to small businesses. American Express has been maintaining a campaign of supporting and driving sales to small businesses to help them grow nationwide.

A Little Bit of History

Jack Ma did not come from well-established roots like, for example, President Trump. Ma was born and raised in mainland China, competed against thousands of others for a rare spot in the Chinese university system, and could not find regular employment many times. Then, with a spare moment of luck, he was exposed to the internet and realized nobody had catered websites to the Chinese. From there, his success took off, most notably with Alibaba.com.

Simple Gems of Advice

In his speech, Mr. Ma focused his advice to small businesses on three points:

  1. He advised business owners and those considering the venture to find out why businesses fail. Schools typically only teach success stories, but it’s critical to know what causes some people not to succeed to avoid the same mistakes.
  2. Business owners should listen carefully to their next-door neighbors. They are, literally, average consumers who can tell a business owner a library of secrets about what a consumer actually looks for when shopping. The problem is, people tend to avoid their neighbors thinking they’re too nosy. It’s an opportunity missed.
  3. Small businesses should “fix the roof when the sun is shining.” It’s an analogy that essentially means a business owner should be making changes and additions when things are going well. When things are rough, or there’s a major challenge, it’s not the time to be spending energy and money on fixes. Get to a good point again before thinking about changing operations or adding to costs.

Get Out of the Weeds

A lot of what Mr. Ma provided in his speech may seem like common sense for small business owners, but it’s hard to focus on thinking strategically when one’s head is buried deep in just trying to make it through the day. This is why his advice is so important; it reminds business owners to take a moment once in a while to get their head out of the weeds and think in terms of running a company again instead of momentary crisis management. In Ma’s opinion, smart and successful business owners are looking, learning, and timing their decisions with the best opportunities. And, they are not ignoring the best sources of business lessons when they become available.

Printing Considerations for Envelopes

CREATE THE BEST COVER-UP

An envelope can be so much more than simply a covering of some sort for your correspondence. The right envelope can instantly convey a wealth of ideas before its intended recipient even opens it up. The next time you’re working on choosing the right envelope for your marketing, keep the following considerations in mind.
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Envelopes: The Making of…

Knowing what type of envelope will best fit your needs starts with an understanding of how they’re made. Envelopes start as flat paper and go through the envelope conversion process to become an envelope. The flat paper is cut to the right shape, an adhesive is applied to the envelope flap, and the paper is folded and glued to take the final form of the envelope. Printing the envelope after the envelope conversion process is an economical way to purchase envelopes, but limits the design options for the envelopes. Printing the envelope before the conversion process allows for the greatest amount of creativity.

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Make Your Envelopes Stand Out

Printing envelopes before the conversion process offers a fantastic way to grab your customers’ attention. Try adding some special effects to your envelopes like printing envelopes emblazoned with graphics on the outside, print on the inside of the envelope, or even simply print your envelopes in four-color. Little additions like these can make a huge impact.

Solutions for Differing Budgets

As with any order, it’s important to weigh where the cost breaks are and what techniques are more cost effective than others. Large runs of 5,000 or more envelopes could lend themselves to customizing envelopes with engraving, printing and embossing. Even though this process is both more expensive and time-consuming, its costs could fall enough so that the project falls within your budget and you’d get the benefit of an impactful first impression. For smaller runs, the benefit versus cost of customization would need to weighed, since smaller runs of customized envelopes would not be as cost effective.

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When Designing Envelopes, Keep Postal Regulations in Mind
Nothing would be worse than a beautiful envelope that the post office won’t mail! You’ll need to limit the use of both the return address information and any graphics to the envelope’s upper left corner in order to meet the regulations of the post office. Also, the envelope’s face needs to be left blank. This allows the post office to include any necessary information and provides a place to add the recipient’s address. Be sure to double check the mailing regulations or ask before ordering your envelopes.
If printing envelopes after the conversion process, one thing to keep in mind is that when designing your envelopes a clear area of 3/8-inch at the top of a pre-made envelope should be built in to provide the space needed to pull the envelope through the press when it’s being printed.
Knowing these considerations prior to making a decision can help you choose the envelope design that best meets your needs and your budget.

If You’re Not Already Blogging, Now Would Be an Excellent Time to Start

ThinkstockPhotos-626669886Many people fail to realize just how important blogs are to a successful business because they still think about what blogs used to be. In the early days of the internet, many blogs were essentially “live journals.” If you wanted to read about what a trendy high school girl was having for lunch with her friends, she probably had a Blogspot blog that would let you do just that.

But today, blogging has become much more powerful and is one of the best ways to connect with your target audience.

The Power of Blogging: Breaking It Down

It’s been said that an incredible 79% of shoppers spend half of their shopping time researching products on the internet. While it’s true that product pages, technical specifications sheets, and other resources are important, users are also gravitating towards something much more human and valuable – blogs.

Think about the things that the right blog allows you to accomplish. First, it lets you dive deeper into certain topics, products, and services more than you ever could on a traditional product page.

Blogging is also a great way to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, regardless of what that industry happens to be. It’s a chance for you to show that you really can walk the walk in addition to talking the talk, which ultimately helps build brand loyalty over the long-term.

Blogging, in general, also has a number of clear advantages over other forms of communication when it comes to engaging with your audience, as illustrated by these stats:

An Easy Way to Expand Your Reach

Remember, your blog is not a silo. The content that begins on your blog will ultimately make its way across social media as your users begin to share it, thus bringing more people back to your website over time.

Blogging can also help tremendously with SEO and search engine visibility. One of the factors that Google’s algorithm looks for when determining rankings comes down to how often a website is updated. If you publish one high-quality piece of content to your site every day, guess what? That counts.

Nobody is saying that blogging is the ONLY technique you should be using to connect with your audience. In truth, your long-term success will come down to you employing as many techniques as you can in order to further your quest of reaching the right people at the right point in their purchasing journey.

Buried Treasure

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An old man buried a large amount of gold in a secret spot in his garden. Every day he went to the spot, dug up his treasure, and counted every piece to make sure it was all still there. One day a thief was passing by and noticed the old man secretly burying something in his garden. He waited until nightfall and quietly dug up the treasure and left with it.

The next day when the man discovered his loss, he was overcome with grief and despair. He cried and screamed until his neighbor came over to check on him and asked what had happened. “My gold! My gold!” cried the old man wildly. “Someone has robbed me!”

“Your gold was buried in your garden? Why didn’t you keep it in the house where you could easily access it when you wanted to buy things?”

“Buy things?!” the old man asked in disbelief. “Why, I would never buy things with the gold. I couldn’t think of spending any of it.” The stranger picked up a few large rocks and threw it into the hole. “If that is the case,” he said, “cover up those stones. They are worth just as much to you as the treasure you lost!”

Here’s the way I see it: Sometimes the things you own end up owning you. A possession is worth no more than the use we make of it.

If you’d like help with your printing projects so you can focus on the more important things in life, we’re here to help!

Why Patience is One of the Most Important Qualities a Leader Can Have

ThinkstockPhotos-624713098.jpgThe chasm between a leader and a great leader is a deep one. It is one that is often filled with qualities like clarity, decisiveness, courage, passion, and a healthy amount of humility given the circumstances.

But one of the major qualities that is essential to leadership that people don’t talk about nearly enough is patience. When patience is practiced wisely, it can have a dramatic effect on your entire organization from the top down.

The Ripple Effect of Patience

In general, patience is more important than just being willing to wait for results. Yes, all people are different and employees need to be given room to move at their own pace for the sake of quality. But, the true benefit of patience runs much deeper.

First and foremost, patience shows respect in a way that also encourages productivity at the same time. If you’re the type of leader who delegates responsibility but then spends hours each day telling people to “hurry up” or to “get things moving,” ultimately all you’re really doing is creating frustration or fear in an environment where you can afford neither.

Being willing to wait for someone to work at their own pace shows an employee that you value their overall contribution to the larger organization. You didn’t just choose any person for this job; you chose the right person for the right job. Sometimes, that takes a little more time than you’d like, but that is perfectly fine. Patience is also an important acknowledgment that every person progresses at a different pace. If you’re up in arms every time someone takes a little more time to complete a task, what you’re doing is communicating that they’re not as good as someone else when given the same responsibility.

Patience Also Says a Lot About You, Too

Being patient with others isn’t just about your employees – it also speaks volumes about you. When you’re constantly working from a place of “I needed this yesterday,” all you’re doing is artificially inflating the stakes of the business you’re trying to run. You’re not making considerate decisions; you’re making ones fueled by little more than raw emotion and a ticking clock.

Patience shows that you’re the type of leader willing to stop and let things breathe for a moment. It shows that you’re willing to listen and consider all variables before making a thoughtful judgment about what to do next. It shows that you’re not the type of person to make snap decisions that you’ll later regret and that your employees shouldn’t be willing to settle for that, either.

These are just a few of the many reasons why patience is one of the most important qualities a leader can have. It’s also important to remember that you need to be patient with yourself. Patience is a virtue, yes, but it’s also something of a discipline. You’ll need to acknowledge the importance of patience and the role it plays in your business so that you can grow into the type of leader who no longer has to make an effort to be patient with others. Instead, it will become an afterthought.

It’s Time to Get Social

A CREATIVE WAY TO INCREASE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS

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Is your business looking for a creative way to increase customer social interactions? Consider sending a direct mail piece with an oversized logo sticker, die-cut card, or other type of promotional piece that your customers can take photos with and then post them online. For every tagged image with your hashtag, your customer/prospect will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a gift card or free product.

Since you are mailing your audience something to physically take photos with, be sure to include a brief info card or flyer in your mailing with simple directions that encourage a call to action.

If you’d like help creating a direct mail piece that will get your audience talking, give us a call today! Our creative team would love to help.

Legal Printing

PUT YOUR LEGAL PRINT PROJECTS IN HANDS YOU CAN TRUST – OURS

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We take quality seriously, especially when it comes to the legal industry. We know that your printing projects require confidentiality, discretion, meticulous detail, and tight deadlines. Our experienced print team can handle even the toughest legal project requests with a smile, including last minute changes and rush jobs.

 

We provide a wide variety of legal services, including:

  • color and/or black and white printing and copying
  • brochures and flyers
  • booklets
  • posters
  • custom tabs
  • over-sized mounted courtroom graphics and exhibit displays
  • secure online document ordering
  • Bates numbering
  • scanning to disc/email
  • binders with tabs
  • bindery services

…and so much more!

Whether you are working on a court case, deposition, or daily activity, put your legal print projects in hands you can trust – ours. And remember, other printers may be nearby, but no one comes close.

What’s Your Password?

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Have you ever thought that something as simple as a password could change your life? Surely you’ve experienced that cringe-worthy moment when you receive the dreaded “your password has expired” message. Chances are, creating a new password has never really been a big deal, until recently. Now, you’re required to use one uppercase character, one lowercase character, one symbol, one number, no less than eight characters, and you can’t use the same password you’ve used before!

My password expired the other day, and just as I started ranting about how I dislike creating new passwords, my coworker said, “try using a password that will change your life.” After thinking about it, I typed a password: gratitude#1. My password reminded me to be thankful several times a day when logging into my computer for the next 30 days.

Here’s the way I see it: Positive thinking can turn any moment of despair into an opportunity for inspiration.

Wish You Were More Productive? Try These 3 Tips!

ThinkstockPhotos-502922626.jpgBeing productive means making room for the things you really want and uncovering new and innovative ways to work smarter, not harder. Thankfully, it’s a lot easier than you probably think it is. If you want to become more productive, here are a few key traits you should focus on.

Take Frequent Breaks to Recharge Yourself

Although this may seem a bit on the counterintuitive side, studies have shown that taking frequent breaks throughout the day help to recharge yourself. Our “biological clock” has two basic forms that are dictated by our natural twenty-four (circadian) rhythms and our shorter than a day, but longer than an hour (ultradian) rhythms. Our ultradian rhythms essentially function in 90-minute intervals. This is why it’s so easy to go from “firing all cylinders” to “boy I need a nap” and back again throughout the course of your work day.

Remember that managing your time and managing your energy are not mutually exclusive. Taking breaks will help get you over the hump and allow you to come back better and stronger than ever.

The Results Are All That Matters

In a piece originally published by Forbes on how to be a more productive manager, it stated how one of the key traits to focus on is leaning into the results, not the process. One of the reasons why we often feel overwhelmed at work is because we’re just not getting the results we’re after with a particular task. This causes our productivity (and as a result, our morale) to take a nosedive.

Because of this, it’s important to make your number one priority a high-quality, consistent, and reliable output, rather than simply trying to do as many things at the same time as possible.

Discipline, Discipline, Discipline

According to the experts at PsychCentral.com, one of the essential things that you can do to become more productive at work is to maintain a strict sense of self-discipline at all times. Highly productive people aren’t just able to eliminate tasks that are ultimately time-wasters – they also have a high degree of personal responsibility and are constantly looking for ways to improve themselves, both of which fall back under the distinct umbrella of discipline.

Hitting goals, meeting deadlines, fulfilling promises – these are the true goals behind that task you’re trying to find the time to accomplish. Maintaining focus on these through strict self-discipline is the perfect way to suddenly find more time in each day.

These are just a few of the key traits that you can focus on to instantly become more productive at work. This was the good news – the better news is that gains like these in your professional life will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on your personal life, too. You’ll be happier at home, and you’ll have more time to spend with your loved ones. It really is a win-win situation.

Your Willingness to Accept Feedback Will Affect All Areas Of Your Business

ThinkstockPhotos-637152194.jpgMany people make the mistake of assuming that feedback automatically equates to complaining. After all, people tend to not speak up about issues unless the topic reaches a boiling point, right? In reality, feedback doesn’t have to be like this at all. When given properly, feedback is constructive and can help to both reinforce what you’re doing right and pinpoint what you may be doing wrong.

No one is immune from the concept of feedback because no one is perfect. When you learn to accept feedback (regardless of where it is coming from or how positive or negative it may be) it will have a dramatic effect on all areas of your business.

Accepting Feedback Helps Employees Feel Engaged

A willingness to accept feedback has a direct relationship with something all business leaders should be concerned about: employee engagement. Feedback goes beyond open and honest communication and enters into a realm where employees are free to speak their minds when they feel it is necessary to do so.

If employees don’t feel like they can come to you with issues they see as essential, it can have a negative effect on your entire business. According to one study conducted by Execu-Search, 42 percent of all employees feel like company leadership does NOT contribute to a positive company culture. This goes a long way towards explaining why, according to a Gallup study, 51 percent of the U.S. workforce is not engaged.

The most alarming statistic of all is that these types of disengaged employees cost businesses between $450 billion and $550 billion annually. As a leader, this is the type of situation that you’re creating for yourself by being unwilling to accept feedback from those around you. Even if you don’t agree with something that an employee has to say, just the fact that you’re willing to listen to them goes a long way towards keeping morale (and company culture) as strong as it can be.

Feedback Acknowledges the Importance of Continued Learning

Feedback is also critical to the modern business for the simple reason that it sets the tone for everything that comes next. It’s less about your willingness to listen and more about showing that you’re always looking for ways to improve, to do better, to make stronger decisions, and to increase your performance.

Luckily, it isn’t hard to accept feedback at all, and you get can plenty of practice because it’s around us all the time. Every time you’re talking to an employee, or a customer, or a vendor, you’re getting feedback. Going out of your way to hear it can help make employees feel more valued, which in turn motivates them to work harder. It can also make your customers feel more valued, which strengthens your long-term relationships.

This type of actionable information is crucial for you to make stronger, more informed decisions in your position moving forward. Going out of your way to get constant, honest, and (yes, sometimes) raw feedback helps make sure that your actions are aligned with the goals of your business.

The Unexpected Benefits of Returns

A STRATEGIC RETURN APPROACH CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS THRIVE.

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Can a return policy boost sales? The answer is yes! While it may sound counterproductive, a stellar return policy can increase customer loyalty and also boost additional sales after returns are made. This is because the majority of shoppers who return or exchange an item will make another purchase if the return experience was positive.

While returns are a growing issue for many businesses, a strategic return approach can help your business thrive. Here are a few tips to create a return policy that can help boost sales:

  • Create a simple policy with clearly outlined rules (for example, must return with receipt within 60 days from original purchase date).
  • Make it easy to find your return policy. Consider printing your return policy on your receipts, including a return policy card with all purchases, and ensure your return policy is easily available on your website.
  • If you are an e-commerce business, offer free return shipping, which will boost your customer’s confidence and encourage future purchases.
  • Promote your return policy on social media and in product advertising. For example, “free shipping on purchases and returns” can be a tremendous selling point.

If you’d like help promoting a return policy that will build customer loyalty, our creative team would love to help! Stop by or give us a call today at 856.429.0715

The Rise and Fall of Nate Silver: A Lesson in Risk Communication

ThinkstockPhotos-543817436.jpgPolitical prognosticator and analytics guru Nate Silver rose to national fame by correctly predicting elections. But in 2016, Silver joined almost every other analyst by projecting a victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Was Silver’s good luck over?

Cognitive Bias and the “Failure” of Data

Actually, Silver’s estimate for the 2016 election was closer to correct than almost anyone else’s. He saw Clinton as a heavy favorite, but still gave Donald Trump a roughly one-in-three shot of winning. But the world didn’t remember that part of the projection once the election results came in. They just remembered the part Silver got wrong.  Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman has an explanation: cognitive bias.

Kahneman studied how people make decisions and judgments, and he quickly discovered that they don’t make any sense. People like to think of themselves as logical and rational, but they mostly use logic to justify believing whatever they want to believe anyway. And one thing people absolutely love to believe is that the future is certain. Human minds loathe uncertainty. Uncertainty breeds anxiety and fear—sometimes paralyzing fear. So when given a number like “one in three” or “ninety percent,” they subconsciously convert the odds to “yes” or “no.”

This cognitive bias is often very useful. You probably never consider the statistical chance that you’ll be run over by a bus because if you did, you might never leave the house. It’s far easier, and probably mentally healthier, to treat the risk of bus accidents as a 0. But the tendency to round probabilities up or down can be disastrous in the business world.

Communicating Risk

Have you told your boss that there’s a 90% chance you’ll make the sale? If the deal didn’t go through, you were probably in a bit of hot water. Has a supplier ever told you her product’s failure rate was less than 1%? You’d probably be pretty mad if your order was a dud. The problem with both of those statements of probability is that they do a poor job of communicating risk. They invite the mind’s cognitive bias to take over and convert the estimate into a certainty. When that certainty turns out not to be so certain, it feels like a broken promise.

That’s why the world decided Nate Silver was wrong. They had rounded up the probability of a Clinton victory to a guarantee. When Trump won, it felt like Silver had broken his word. His failure wasn’t in the data—it was in the way he communicated the risk.

The lesson here is that quoting numbers won’t save you. Don’t just toss out percentages—put them in context. Visualizations are one useful technique. If a product will fail one time in a hundred, a graphic with 99 white shapes and one black shape gets the message across far more effectively than the numbers. Analogies are also effective. A 90% probability? That’s about the same as the chance that an NFL kicker will make a 32-yard field goal. Anchoring the numbers to a familiar context creates a lasting impression. It forces the mind to acknowledge uncertainty.

In business and life, people care about honesty. But if your goal is to be trustworthy, it’s not enough to state the facts. You have to make those facts sink into others’ minds. When it comes to probabilities and risks, that task is taller than it looks.

The Risk of Over Designing

IN GRAPHIC DESIGN, LESS REALLY IS MORE

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Simplicity is often seen, but it’s a concept that is not easily explained. For some graphic designers, it’s second nature. For others, it involves much forethought. Today’s designers are trending toward more simple, clutter-free designs, as they return to simplicity. Here are some examples of how the traditional theme of less is more is used:

Advertising
Not only can simple ads grab attention, but their short and to the point messages are also easier to comprehend. The concept of “less is more” is especially effective when writing ad copy.

Catalogs and Brochures
Catalogs and brochures are expected to be a vast source of information, yet readers appreciate when they are simplified, organized, and easy to read and comprehend. Simplicity is often its own reward since it encourages increased use.

Packaging
Like a poster, a package needs to attract the eye within seconds of its initial viewing. In recent years, shelves have been jammed with products whose designers have attempted to out-design one another. This gives simple package designs featuring primary colors, bold copy, white space, and clean design the ability to effectively break through the clutter.

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Identity
Not only do logos convey the personality of a company, but they also offer a memorable impression. Simple designs that incorporate a company’s complex ideas are the root of a logo’s power.

One of the perks of being a designer is the ability to develop a personality or character for a company or product. For designers, simplicity means a return to basics, but not at the expense of creative design.

The Art of Time-Blocking: A Simple Tip to Revolutionize Your Productivity

ThinkstockPhotos-610773854.jpgMost people just aren’t that good at multitasking. Trying to remain focused (and organized) is one of the most significant time wasters, especially in the life of a business professional. When you try to do too many things at the same time, you become a “Jack of all Trades, Master of None.” Just when you’re trying to get work done on that big project, another email comes in that you have to respond to. You hop over to your email client and suddenly the phone is ringing, or you realize that you have to proof a new design before it heads out the door. It’s maddening.

Thankfully, there is a better way. By adopting the fine art of time-blocking, you may have just found the simple, yet effective technique you’ve been looking for to unlock a bold new era of productivity in both your personal and professional life.

What is Time-Blocking?

At its core, time-blocking is the idea that you should segment your day into clearly defined (and strictly adhered to) blocks of productivity. Organize the tasks you need to complete by category and set aside a specific amount of time for those categories each day.

If you feel like you’re spending an unfortunate amount of time responding to emails every day at the expense of everything else, set aside 9:00 am to 10:00 am every morning to just focus on emails. Devote every ounce of your attention to this one task and when it’s over, move onto the next one. Outside of the occasional emergency, don’t respond to emails for the rest of the day. Get it done, and then move on.

The Benefits

The beauty of time-blocking falls into two distinct categories. First, it’s an incredibly effective way to eliminate distraction. Instead of trying to divide your attention between ten little tasks, it’s almost like you’re tackling just one big one (i.e. emails, and nothing more). Not only do you get those initial tasks done faster, but the ultimate quality of your output is also much higher because you’re no longer trying to do too many things at once.

Next, time-blocking is also an excellent way to build up a strong sense of momentum that will carry you through the rest of your day. As you begin to move from block to block, you’ll constantly be surprised by just how much you’re getting done. This wave of productivity (not to mention the wave of euphoria) builds on itself, driving things home towards the finish line (and the end of the work day).

Success Comes When You Look Ahead

Another one of the keys to success regarding time-blocking is a little bit of forward thinking. This isn’t something you can make up on the fly. You need to consider the types of tasks you need to do each day and what you have to get done by week’s end. Look ahead a little bit and make a list of your top priorities. Then, separate those into categories and get down to business.

Remember, it’s important to be honest with yourself. Time-blocking won’t suddenly create an extra hour in your day, but it will help you make better use of the hours you already have. If you try to add too many things to your list to the point where it becomes unrealistic, you’ll end up working against your goal and not towards it. You’ll quickly begin to feel overwhelmed, which is something that you do not want.

An Attitude of Gratitude

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An inexperienced hunter wandered deep into the woods and became lost in unfamiliar territory. After a few days without food, he was ecstatic to find an apple tree. As he ate the first apple, he felt incredibly grateful and blessed. He fell to his knees and thanked God for his life and the delicious food.

As he continued eating more and more apples, he started feeling less and less grateful, and his gratitude diminished drastically. He didn’t even enjoy eating the tenth apple. While the tenth apple was just as sweet as the first, the abundance of apples on the tree made him take their nourishment for granted.

Here’s the way I see it: Always appreciate what you have before it turns into what you had. If you’d like help creating thank you cards or other ways to show appreciation to your loyal customers, give us a call today!

The Quarterly Audit: Why It’s Always Good to Give Your Print Collateral a Once-Over a Few Times a Year

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An opportunity that far too many people don’t take advantage of is the idea of a quarterly audit. Don’t worry; it has nothing to do with your taxes. Instead, it’s a process that you should go through a few times a year that provides you a chance to re-assess and re-evaluate. It’s a time where you force yourself to stop and think “This print mailer was designed in January, and it worked great in January. It’s April, now. What needs to change?”

Stop and Smell the Roses

When performing an audit of your print marketing materials, make a list of everything that has changed since the last time you had the chance to re-evaluate things. How have your business goals shifted in the last few months? Have you accomplished more or less than you thought you were going to at this point? What does your average customer look like today, as opposed to three months ago? How have your campaigns been performing?

If you can provide business-specific answers to questions like these, you create for yourself a valuable context that you can then use to make the right, actionable decisions regarding things like design and distribution moving forward. What you’re doing is taking a process typically completed at the end of the year, looking backward and seeing what worked and what didn’t, and then forcing yourself to do it as often as you can.

Trends and Best Practices

Another reason why the idea of the quarterly audit is so important is that, by and large, the world of print marketing is changing rapidly. New technologies, techniques, tips and best practices are emerging all the time. Taking the time to go back over everything you’ve done so far a few times a year gives you a chance to incorporate all of this into your workflow as soon as you can.

Think about it this way: maybe you designed new buyer personas in January with an aim towards attracting a different type of customer. You’ve produced everything with those buyer personas in mind, trying to maintain a consistent voice across all collateral. If things aren’t working quite right and need some tweaking, would you rather know in April or wait until December?

In the end, what you’re doing is strengthening your foundation. Many people use January 1 as a great chance for a “fresh start.” It’s a time where you stop and think about where you are, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. If you do this multiple times per year, however, it puts you in a much better position to be responsive to both internal and external changing factors. Above all else, it’s an opportunity to make sure that you’re still headed down the path that was important to you on January 1, if that path is still important to you at all.

Product Cards

CONCISE, AT-A-GLANCE INFORMATION

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Product cards are an excellent way to highlight new or uncommon products with concise, at-a-glance information and attractive photos.

Depending on how much information you want to provide, product cards can vary from a simple single or double-sided card to folded or die-cut designs. Product cards can be mailed as a postcard, inserted into existing mailings or purchases, displayed on your front counter, or given out at trade shows and industry events.

Product cards are most successful when they include a combination of product features with correlating benefits. For example, in addition to listing the fancy features of a new oven (such as racks, timers, heat settings, clocks, etc.), the benefits can help sell your product. In other words: A self-cleaning, energy efficient oven saves time and money so that you can spend it on more important things in life.

If you’d like help creating the perfect product card to help boost sales, our creative professionals would love to help. Give us a call today at 856.429.0715.

The One-Trick Pony Syndrome

Have you ever heard the phrase, “a one-trick pony?”

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Researchers believe the “one-trick pony” phrase comes from an entertainment background. According to research, the earliest reference was associated with circus ponies used to perform a trick or feat that impressed audiences. The ponies involved could do an amazing act, such as walking on their hind feet, but that was all they could do. Eventually, the audiences got bored with the show. In one version of the story, a pony had a dog partner that would ride on it. While the audience got sick of seeing the pony do the same thing every time the circus was in town, the dog gained fame because it learned and began to perform new tricks. In time, the dog became the star, and the pony was relegated to hauling circus carts.

Is Your Business A One-Trick Pony?

The moral of the story here is not to allow your business to get stuck on only one good thing. It’s tempting to think that if you have something good going, why ruin it? Well, over time that good thing will become less and less popular. The number of customers who want it will diminish and the business will have to start cutting prices to keep it attractive. Eventually, the product or service won’t sell at all.

Palm PDAs and Blackberry were both perfect examples of the one-trick pony mistake. They both had a really good product for a while, but both companies failed to upgrade and develop new products. Eventually, someone else did, and their customer base walked away. Those text screens on a Blackberry and similarly on a Palm PDA simply looked old and obsolete versus smartphones like the original Apple iPhone. The world had changed.

It’s Time to Diversify

Is your business riding the wave right now of a star pony? If so, now is the time to be looking for and generating a new path. Diversify into a new product or new service. Not only does it protect your business’ longevity, but multiple revenue streams from different customers will eventually offset each other when one of them starts to weaken.

Companies that map out their product/service life cycle and plan for eventual loss with replacement “ponies” are the firms that survive and grow. Don’t let all your energy, money, time, and effort go down the drain with a one-trick pony. Instead, use the initial success to be your springboard for the next one.

Take a Lesson from Disney

BE OUR GUEST

If you visit any one of the Disney Corporation’s facilities, you have experienced a phenomenon they call “Onstage and Backstage.” It’s quite a simple concept, and one that Disney has definitely perfected. The “Onstage” area refers to anywhere that guests may roam freely, while “Backstage” is where the cast members (employees) travel from one part of the park to another, take “Disney-free” breaks, and get into costume. For Disney, the separation between onstage and backstage is essential in maintaining the magical feel of their facilities.

Your company most likely has a similar onstage (customer area) and backstage (production area) structure. And while your employees may not use your “backstage” area to don their Mickey or Minnie Mouse costumes, there are things that go on behind the scenes that most of your customers are not privileged to see.

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That is, of course, unless you offer to take your customers on a tour of your facility. At most Disney facilities, visitors can take a ride backstage to see some of the inner workings of the magical world. The same can be done at your business. Allowing your customers a peek at the inner workings of your company and introducing them to your staff will improve your relationship with them. And, showing them any impressive machinery or workflow systems you have in place will increase their confidence in the work you do for them.

Take a lesson from the Disney Corporation and see what kind of response you get from offering backstage tours of your company. You may be surprised to see how many people would be interested in getting to know your company better, and the effect their knowledge can have on furthering your relationship with them.

Learn How to Communicate on a Case-by-Case Basis for Better Results

_ThinkstockPhotos-76756624.jpgTo say that communication is important in the workplace is an understatement. This is true regardless of the type of business you’re running or even the industry you’re operating in. One study from McKinsey Global Institute found that not only does active communication bring people closer together in the workplace but in these types of situations productivity tends to improve between 20% and 25% on average.

At the same time, there is no “silver bullet” method to communication that will instantly get everyone on the same page. Only by looking to your employees as individuals, and playing to their own individual strengths and preferences, will you finally be able to see the communication gains that you so richly deserve.

Let the Employee Be Your Guide

Perhaps the most important thing for you to understand is that communication no longer means face-to-face conversations, -or at least it doesn’t exclusively. This is particularly the case regarding introverted employees, a staple at any organization.

Just because Ryan from Accounting doesn’t like to speak up in meetings doesn’t mean that he lacks communication skills. It just means that speaking in front of a group isn’t necessarily his forte. Instead of trying to force Ryan to adapt to your wishes, consider how Ryan would prefer to communicate.

Emails, memos, texting, one-on-one meetings, phone calls: these are all viable options regarding getting ideas across in the modern era. As a business leader, it’s not your job to get everyone to communicate the way you want to just because you prefer looking someone in the eyes when you tell them what they need to do next. It’s your job to make a note of the conditions that a person excels under and then do whatever you can to facilitate those needs whenever possible.

The Larger Implications of Communication

Consider the fact that according to one survey, an incredible 46% of employees said that they “rarely, if ever” leave a meeting knowing exactly what they’re supposed to do next. This is the danger of a “one size fits all” approach to communication. You end up becoming something of a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

One study revealed that 26% of employees think email is a major productivity killer. But when you reverse that, it means that 74% of employees think email is just fine. But it’s important not to create an “either/or” situation where one doesn’t have to exist. If you know that Robert is going to get the information he needs from an email, send away. If you know that Brenda is the type of employee who needs to sit down and talk out her next objective in person, be sure you make time for her in your schedule.

It’s up to you to find the right communication method that works for the individual so that everyone can be on the same page when it comes to contributing to the whole. 

It’s important to remember that according to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of employees in the United States said that they just weren’t engaged in work anymore. Creating an environment of open and honest communication is one of the keys to combating this issue head on. But you must also remember that no two employees are created equally.  An approach that works great for getting one employee to open up and become engaged in their work may be woefully inadequate for the next.

Only by making an effort to communicate on a case-by-case basis will you be able to generate a workplace where success is no longer a question of “if” but “when.”

Communicate Faster

AN IMPORTANT SKILL FOR SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

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Keyboarding has become an important skill for social and professional communications. The faster and more accurately you can type, the better you can communicate with your audience.

If you’re not feeling up to speed on a keyboard, here are a few ways to improve your typing skills:

  • Place your hands properly on the keyboard. Your fingers on your left hand should be on A, S, D, and F. The fingers on your right hand should be on H, J, K, and L.
  • Once you are comfortable knowing key placement, avoid looking at the keyboard. This prevents you from editing your copy in real-time, which means more mistakes and wasted time editing later.
  • Chat with family or friends to have fun while learning to type. Programs such as Skype can help you not only keep in contact with others but also help fine tune your typing skills.
  • Check out free online typing resources, such as www.typing.com. It is a great learning tool for all ages and levels.
  • Consider online typing games that make learning more manageable. While many popular resources are designed for children, they can be used for any age to learn typing skills one step at a time. Qwerty Warriors is a fun example.
  • Once you have become more comfortable in your typing skills, test yourself often to improve the speed of your communication. Check out this free tool on Live Chat.

As with everything, practice makes perfect. The more you type, the more familiar you will become with the position of the keys. If you’d like help creating a newsletter or other marketing materials to increase communications with your audience, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

What Happened to Summer? Back-to-School Marketing Starts Earlier Than Ever

ThinkstockPhotos-669986094.jpgThe temperature is soaring, steaks sizzle on the grill, and kids play in the pool, but not everyone is thinking summer. Back to school season is starting earlier than ever for big retailers and the impact trickles over into all aspects of marketing. Both Office Depot and Land’s End launch back to school campaigns at the start of summer – in some cases before school even ended in some parts of the country.

This is a change even from last year; according to AdAge, 2016 saw back to school marketing head into full swing around the middle of July. Time magazine cites the need for retailers to make as many revenues as possible during the highest spending periods as the reason Black Friday, Halloween, and Back to School promotions are being scheduled earlier than ever before.

When does Back to School Begin?

Big retailers working on the premise that earlier is better have begun pushing back-to-school marketing back each year. Back to school is big business for retailers, since it is worth about 78 billion; it is second only to the major holidays for revenues, according to AdAge.

How Early is Too Early?

Office Depot’s back-to-school advertising rolled out June 25 of this year, a full three weeks earlier than 2016’s July launch. Other retailers are following suit, but there is some consumer backlash against the early push. Lands’ End received public criticism on social media when their back-to-school catalog dropped while kids in many parts of the country were still in school.

“We got your #backtoschool catalog in the mail. Our kids still have two weeks of school left this year! #fail #marketing,” tweeted Greg Magin.

@GregMagin helpfully tagged his rant with #fail, #backtoschool and #Marketing, so it was seen by far more than just his followers. This backlash from consumers shows that a too-early launch can backfire. Right now, the sweet spot for back-to-school marketing seems to be right after the 4th of July through the end of the month.

Back-to-school marketing is all about timing. Being aware of this pitfall, and of the enormous potential of this busy season, can help you make the most of Back to School season for your brand and ensure your organization has a visible presence during this often overlooked marketing opportunity.

Make Back to School Time Count for your Brand

Positioning your Back to School promotions in July and working to build not only sales but also awareness can help place you in front of consumers when they’re ready to outfit the kids for the next school year. Since most consumers begin searching online well before they part with actual money, building awareness ahead of this busy season can help you get the results you want without irritating consumers.

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Broken

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The next time you’re feeling broken or in despair, remember this.

In Japanese culture, when an object is broken it is often repaired by bonding the pieces back together with gold. The flaw then becomes a unique part of the piece’s past that only adds to its beautiful story. The broken pieces of your life make you who you are. And that is more valuable than anything in the world.

Here’s the way I see it: Elizabeth Edwards said it best, “She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.”

Foiled-Pressed Cards

ADD CLASS AND HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY MARKETING PIECE

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Foil stamping is a creative and affordable way to add class and highlight the important parts of any marketing piece, including business cards, invitations, postcards, greeting cards, envelopes, pocket folders, and much more.

A popular way to accent your piece is to print your company logo or focal message in foil. Foil options include a variety of colors and finishes, including glossy or matte versions of gold, silver, red, green, blue, black, and hologram.

For best results with foiling, be sure to rasterize your text (convert all text to outlines) and ensure the foiling area is no smaller than a 7-point font to ensure that details are not lost. The foil design should layer over a flat color or image since incorporating a copy of the foil into a printed design does not guarantee the desired appearance as the stamp may shift in process.

Please note select paper types give a different appearance to the foil. If you have questions or would like to see foil printed samples, please give us a call or stop by today!

Indra Nooyi: A Story in Being Yourself and Persistence

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Have you ever heard of Indra Nooyi? Maybe not, but you’ve probably bought her product at one time or another in the past year. Ms. Nooyi is the CEO of Pepsi-Co., the makers of the popular and well-known Pepsi soda brand. However, her position at Pepsi is not necessarily what is the most amazing fact of her story. Granted, reaching the status of being a Fortune 500 company CEO is huge and significant, but how Ms. Nooyi got her start is the real story. That’s because she risked everything with no safety net to fall back on.

Some Compelling Advice

Indra Nooyi came to the U.S. like so many other great minds, arriving as a student immigrant. Ms. Nooyi jumped to a slot in Harvard’s master’s degree program in business. However, graduating wasn’t her biggest challenge. It was translating her academic success into a result:  getting a job. Ms. Nooyi’s first real interview was total failure – no connection, no rhythm, no job. However, she received a piece of advice from a professor that Ms. Nooyi has carried forward since then to her role as a CEO. She was told to simply “be herself.”

Ms. Nooyi clearly took the advice she received to heart. Not only has she been herself as intelligent, smart, persistent, and daring, she has also scored an enviable position of 75 percent plus support by her own employees worldwide. See if you can find a politician with as much support even when winning a national election.

What Makes A Person Successful?

For business owners and leaders, the lesson from Ms. Nooyi is to never forget what really makes a person successful. It’s not the suit, it’s not the past laurels, and it’s not the school degree. What makes the difference that catches people’s attention and gets their support is one’s personal confidence and persistence. Ms. Nooyi gambled everything with not just coming to the U.S. to succeed but to also establish herself in a highly competitive arena: business consulting. Had she failed, Ms. Nooyi would have had to return back to India and likely would have disappeared into a vast number of IT companies there; everything for her was on the line. But she persisted. And Ms. Nooyi, with her new advice on being herself, was quickly hired. That in turn became her path to eventually becoming Pepsi-Co.’s latest CEO.

A Better Choice

Business leaders trying to keep a company going will at some point face a challenge where everything has to be put on the line to get to the next level. Many don’t take that leap. It’s too risky, it’s too costly, or it’s too unknown. Yet from Ms. Nooyi’s example, the last thing anyone should be doing is trying hard to fake their way through the issue. Be yourself. Trust your skills and trust your gut to make the right the decision. That’s what got a person to a leadership role in the first place, so why should he or she be any different at the moment that counts the most? Risk, responsibilities, fears of what-if can all combine to make someone think behaving differently may be the best path forward. Clearly, from Ms. Nooyi’s example, there’s a better choice.

Creative Folding

STAND APART FROM THE COMPETITION

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Creative folding techniques not only demand attention but can also entice the reader to open and read your marketing piece. While most people think about the common half-fold and tri-fold techniques used on brochures and pamphlets, we have many creative folding options available that can help your marketing piece stand apart from the competition. Here are a few of our favorite creative folding options:

  • A single-gate fold means the paper is folded inwards on both sides, meeting in the middle, to create six panels (three panels on the front and three panels on the back).
  • A double-gate fold involves folding the paper inwards on the left and right side, meeting in the middle, and then folding it again at the center, creating eight panels (four panels on the front and four panels on the back).
  • A Z-fold involves folding the paper in thirds, in a zig-zag pattern. A brochure with a Z-fold will open like an accordion in the shape of the letter Z.
  • A double-parallel fold means the paper is folded in half twice, in the same (parallel) direction, which creates eight panels (four in the front and four in the back).
  • Accordion folds can be ideal for brochures, making each section a different width as “tabs” for product names or services.

If you have questions about which folding technique is right for your project, our team of experts would love to help. Give us a call or stop by to see some folding samples today!

Nourish Creativity with a Visual Diary

NOURISH YOUR CREATIVITY

Long, drawn-out projects with endless stages and countless revisions can be emotionally and creatively draining. Recharge your creative stores by taking a bit of time every day for pure, no-external-obligation artistic and design endeavors. A visual diary keeps you creative by making a space where you design something new each day that’s just for you. Just as a written diary captures your thoughts in words, a visual diary is a place to record your thoughts in a graphical format. It provides a welcome break from your regular work routine and a place for inspiration.

Steps to Succeeding with a Visual Diary

It’s easier to begin if you set some parameters. Will you create something daily for a month? Do you prefer to have a theme or to free associate to create? Will you create a paper journal or put your work in a digital format?

Different mediums can inspire different results. For instance, some designers find that working in a graph paper composition book allows them to create well-proportioned designs.

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Whether you wish to do a small project a day or to dedicate time to your visual journal on three pre-set days a week, sticking to your commitment is important. Regularity is the key. Even 15 minutes a day freely creating can energize you for more in-depth and restricting projects.

Build daily entries into a series. When a subject, medium, or process excites you, explore it further in future entries. You may find that you create an impressive work over time. For instance, you can experiment with different ways to create motion in a graphic or make a typographical piece of art each day.

 

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Keep energized by sharing what you’re doing. Feedback feeds the creative soul. If you’re doing a paper journal, take it with you to gatherings to show friends what you’re working on. If your medium for the visual diary is digital, you can share it online through Facebook, Flickr, deviantART, or your own blog.

If you miss a day or two, don’t feel tempted to give up on the project altogether. Just pick up where you left off. Don’t feel you need to do extra entries to “catch up.” The idea is to make this a pleasant commitment.

When the month is over, look over what you’ve created and store the ideas for later. Your design journals can be a great source of inspiration. When it comes time to start a new design project for work, you may find a solution to design problems in your daily visual journal.

Making visual works for no purpose other than to create can help break up the tedium and stress of a professional creative life. Give yourself permission to create just for you for a short time each day. You’ll feel more engaged and better prepared in your professional work.

 

Social Media and Your Marketing Strategy

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When you are trying to reach a wide demographic for your business, you must get on social media. By developing a following on social media and learning how to use text messaging to get customers interested in your brand, you’ll be on your way to building up a solid customer base.

Do You Have Followers on Your Facebook Page?

Most businesses use their Facebook page to post links to informative blog posts on their website or to share relevant news about their industry in general. To gain followers, you will need to get people to share the posts that you create and to gain interest by advertising your page. You can also gain followers by creating printed marketing materials that provide information on how to find you on Facebook. Almost all of your printed marketing products should contain information on all of your social media accounts to encourage customers to sign up.

Utilizing an Opt-In Texting Campaign

Think about how you currently communicate with your customers. In any business, the ability to ask questions and to get those questions answered quickly is important. When you create an opt-in texting campaign, you build a list of subscribers that you can send marketing materials to through text messages. You can grow this list of subscribers by creating a short code and printing it on your marketing postcards. For example, “To learn more about our business, text the word SHOP to 12345.” You can send text messages that point people to your social media pages and share links to your social media accounts that will allow them to sign up for your campaign.

Consider Trying Twitter

Twitter can be a very useful platform for your industry once you can gain an audience and you learn how to strategize hashtag phrases. If you’ve ever seen a person write a status on Facebook such as “I love my dog, #labsrule, #dogsarethebest, #familypet,” these hashtags do more than confuse people who don’t know what they are. Hashtag use started on Twitter, and this is one way people follow industry news. People can search hashtags on Twitter. Anyone that types in “#labsrule,” or any of the other hashtags written, will see the post written by the Twitter user that wrote the hashtag after their post.

Try to engage your customers by asking questions or sharing interesting news either through social media links or text messages. If customers start commenting on posts, keep the conversation going by responding. The more you can get your customers interested in your brand on social media, the larger the following you will create.

5 Tips for Effective Direct Mail

ThinkstockPhotos-LS019313.jpgEvery day but Sunday, the mailbox delivers surprises. Of course, much of what arrives in the mail is expected, but that element of surprise never wanes. The mail might contain a card from a loved one, a check you didn’t expect, or a great offer from a local company, via direct marketing. Successful direct marketing campaigns don’t happen by accident, but a small business doesn’t need to pour substantial amounts of money into such an endeavor to achieve a good result. That means rather than mass marketing, modern direct mail campaigns concentrate on targeted marketing. When businesses use effective direct mail marketing, they not only boost their bottom line, but add excitement to the routine of picking up the mail.

1. Set Your Goals

As a business, what do you expect this mailing to accomplish? Have a firm plan in mind ahead of time. What is your budget for this mailing? What kind of ROI do you think you’ll receive? Crunch the numbers before embarking on a direct mail campaign.

Have a projected number of new customers in mind. For small businesses doing much of the work on their own, one of the best measures is sending out a mailer-only coupon for a percentage off a purchase or free item with purchase. Ensure that keeping track of the number of people who redeemed the coupon, including new customers, is quite simple.

2. The Mailing List

When it comes to an effective direct marketing campaign, nothing is as crucial as the mailing list. That seems obvious, but too many companies waste time and money sending direct mail to people with little interest in their product or service. You want a “Goldilocks” mailing list – not sending too many or too few mailers, but just the right amount.

While you will need to purchase some lists, focus on your own lists of previous customers. In fact, if you don’t have a solid database of customer names and addresses as well as strong prospects, avoid direct marketing until you do.

3. The Demographic

Who are your customers? What is their primary age and income level? Where do they live? This information is essential for a small business conducting a direct marketing campaign. You’re looking for your ideal customer, whether that person is a senior citizen, millennial, parent of young children, individuals with X amount of disposal income – that’s necessary  information before you start your campaign. The more personally you can delineate the target, the better the response rate. You can then consider the type of mailing list you want to purchase.

4. Clarity Rules

No matter what type of mailing format you decide to go with, the potential customer must instantly “get” what you offer. All the fancy graphics in the world won’t make up for a confusing message. That doesn’t mean your direct mail has to be boring – far from it. You only have a few seconds for the recipient to decide whether your offer is one worth saving or throwing in the trash. Funny, clever copy can help get the message across, but it must be absolutely clear. The person must instantly recognize they can get a special deal on your product or service and understand exactly what they must to do to take advantage of the offer. For best results, repeat that call-to-action a few times.

5. From Direct Mail to Online

Social media and direct mail marketing are not mutually exclusive. A direct mail campaign is a good way to get customers to follow you online.  The cheapest form of direct mail, the postcard, can get you more online customers and followers. You want to drive traffic to your website, and direct mail is a useful vehicle. A coupon code on the postcard for online sales or some other promotion can gain you the customer info that you can then follow up on via an email or social media marketing campaign.

The Right Ingredients

kirkOne day, a girl came home from school and started pouring her heart out to her mom about how everything was going wrong in her life. She was getting poor grades in math, her boyfriend broke up with her, and her best friend was moving away. During the conversation, her mom, who was mixing up ingredients to make a cake, asked her daughter if she’d like a snack. The girl replied, “Yes, I love your baking! It always makes me feel better.”

“Here you go,” her mom said and offered her daughter some cooking oil. “Yuck,” her daughter replied. “Then how about a few eggs?” she asked as she started cracking them into the bowl. “Gross, Mom!” her daughter replied. “OK, maybe some flour would help?” the mom asked with a smile. Finally, the girl said, “Mom, those are all gross, what would I do with them?!”

The mom simply replied, “Yes, the ingredients all seem bad by themselves, but when they are combined, they make a wonderfully delicious cake. Our lives are the same way. Many times we are discouraged by challenges in our lives, but we have to trust that we can create the perfect mix of ingredients to make something wonderful.”

Here’s the way I see it: Henry Ford once said it best, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” If you need ideas to get started, our team of experts is available to help you create a marketing masterpiece your customers will love. Give us a call today!

Tips to Create a Zap-Free Zone

REDUCE STATIC ELECTRICITY IN YOUR HOME OR OFFICE

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While the chances of you being injured from static electricity while using electronics (such as a computer, phone, or other office equipment) are very low, static discharge is not only shocking, but it could damage or shorten the life of your electronics. Here are a few tips to reduce static electricity in your home or office:

  • Climate control is important. If you do not have a humidification unit built into your HVAC system, consider using a humidifier to increase indoor humidity, especially during colder months.
  • Try an anti-static carpet spray, which essentially adds tiny particulates and conductive substances to carpet fibers to help in dissipating static charges.
  • Consider placing anti-static mats in places with high static, such as carpeted work areas.
  • Plug your devices into surge protectors, which limit the voltage supplied to an electric device by either blocking or shorting to ground any unwanted voltages above a safe threshold.

If you’re looking for creative marketing ideas that are sure to shock your competitors, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

Playing Cards

Product-320-v2.jpgIf your business or organization is looking for a unique giveaway item that won’t get thrown away, you may want to consider custom printed playing cards.

Playing cards can be customized for any industry, such as retail, education, food and beverage, hotels, and much more. Custom playing cards are a fun keepsake that can be given away at corporate anniversaries, casino night theme parties, giveaways at industry tradeshows, and much more.

Our creative team can help you customize the design on the front and back, and choose from a variety of sizes, such as mini cards, bridge size, and oversized cards.

In addition to shrink wrapping each bundle of cards, we offer custom packaging sleeves (or belly bands) which can feature an extra promotional message wrapped around your cards. Give us a call to order your custom playing cards today at 856.429.0715!

Why Wikipedia Matters for Your Business

IMPROVE YOUR REPUTATION AND CREDIBILITY

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Using Wikipedia for business can enhance your online visibility and help bring you to the top of organic searches on Google. A Wikipedia page can also improve your reputation and credibility. If you are new to creating a Wikipedia page, here are a few ways to avoid page deletion and ensure sure your Wikipedia page sticks:

  • Before starting, be sure to read Wikipedia’s guidelines for organizations. Because Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, you should use neutral language with facts only and no advertising.
  • Your Wikipedia page content needs to be substantial and thorough. A lacking page suggests you’re either not notable or have something to hide. Start by creating an outline offline and include at least three or four sections, with several paragraphs in each. You will need several citations to back up your information.
  • Ensure you have several credible sources (media coverage, press releases, books, or any other kind of public highlight outside of your own control), that specifically talk about your business or your topic. Also, note traditional media trumps online media within Wikipedia.
  • Avoid using resources or articles that appear to be biased toward your company. For example, if your vice president is on the advisory board for a magazine, and that magazine runs a feature story on your business, the article will appear biased.
  • When using photos, ensure that you have written permission from photographers.
  • If you don’t create a Wikipedia entry, be aware that someone may do it for you. There are thousands of bloggers online that document information. Make sure you take the initiative to create a Wikipedia page that represents your organization in the best way possible.
  • Because Wikipedia wants to have a neutral point of view on all subjects, be aware that anyone can edit your Wikipedia page. Therefore, you will want to assign someone at your business to regularly monitor your page for accuracy, adding citations where appropriate, and stopping any potential vandalism.

Lessons We Can Learn From Great Business Minds of Yesteryear

ThinkstockPhotos-87751432.jpgBusiness leaders of yesteryear can teach us lessons even today. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who dominated shipping and railroads, John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan, who built a financial empire on investments and banking, Mary Kay Ash, who founded the exceptionally successful company Mary Kay Cosmetics, and John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard Oil as was America’s very first billionaire are all worthy of admiration and have lessons they can teach us. Today, though, let’s look at one businessman, in particular, Henry Ford.

Who Was Henry Ford And How Did He Make An Impact in The Country?

Henry Ford, born in 1863, was a U.S. Industrialist who revolutionized automobile production, which allowed his company to mass produce cars, thus bringing the price down. This, in turn, allowed more regular folks to purchase cars and led to Ford Motors becoming hugely successful. In essence, Ford did more than creating a successful company; he revolutionized the entire transportation industry. Before his changes were implemented, most people were unable to afford such a luxury. Therefore, he took a product that was not widespread and made it applicable for the average consumer, thus changing the entire landscape of the country in several ways. Ford was able to achieve this success thanks to a few methods he applied within his business. These ideas are applicable to any type of business and can teach us as business professionals and entrepreneurs lessons on success even today:

  • Innovation is Everything:  When it comes to innovation, Henry most certainly knew what he was doing. He utilized an assembly line technique that forever altered the way automobiles were produced. It’s worth noting that he was not the inventor of said assembly line. He only created an innovative way to implement the technique within his business. This is a great lesson we can learn from him today. You don’t have to come up with the idea or product in order to figure out a new way to utilize it.
  • Don’t be Afraid to Specialize And Offer Solutions to Undiscovered Problems: Henry Ford understood his market and specialized in it. He understood that it’s hard to find success when remaining too generic. He also understood his customer base better than they understood themselves. He was able to offer a product as a solution to a problem that his customer base didn’t even realize they had. He once stated, “If I had simply asked people what they wanted, they would have asked me for faster horses.”
  • Efficiency is Vital: Ford was such a believer in efficiency that he is credited with the creation of “Fordism.” This term basically describes a system of mass production that is both standardized and efficient.  He understood the importance of keeping his workers productive and achieving a maximum output. He was able to do this, in part, by providing incentives. These incentives, which included a reduced workweek and better wages, resulted in worker loyalty and efficiency.
  • Don’t be Afraid to Learn Something New: Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Henry Ford was personally committed to learning. He was never content to learn all he could about a subject and just stay there. He didn’t want to just “be,” he wanted to grow. This is likely how he was able to come up with such innovative ideas because he never got stuck thinking or acting a certain way. Instead, Ford was always up for a new challenge. We would do well to emulate this in our own professional lives.

There are countless other lessons we can glean from Henry Ford and other businessmen and women like him who revolutionized their industries and achieved amazing success. The important point to remember is that they all stepped out, took a risk, and believed in their goals. That is the foundation for any great success.

Preflighting: The Perfect Launch

COME FLY WITH ME

NASA has always understood the importance of a preflight checklist to ensure all systems are functional prior to launching its multi-billion dollar space missions. One small glitch can cost them more than they bargained for. The concept is similar with your printing projects. While your document may look snazzy on screen, you may not be able to see small issues with your fonts, colors, and images that can at worst, ruin your print project, or at least, make our production crew pull their hair out. For example, if a graphic has enough resolution to look great on screen, but not enough resolution to look as great in print, you might end up with something that looks more like the first image in the comparison below

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The best way to save our production crew’s hair and to come off looking like a pro is to preflight your documents and files before you hand them over. This will ensure there are no output issues. Luckily, Adobe InDesign has a built-in feature that allows you to preflight while you work by importing any required production rules (a.k.a. Profiles) and doing a few simple, quality checks.

To access the Preflight panel in InDesign, select Choose Window > Output > Preflight and make sure that “On” is selected and that your designated Profile is chosen. Equipped with super-hero powers, our team can help you come up with the perfect Preflight Profile for your work. This will allow you to check for output errors while you’re working. If you’ve already started working on your document, you may see a red light indicating one or more errors are present. At this point, you have 30 seconds to find them before your document self-destructs…kidding.

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What the error message indicates is that InDesign has just checked your document against the Preflight Profile and has noted some issues that need to be addressed so that your print project looks as fabulous on paper as it does on your screen. Some issues that the Preflight Basic Profile will check for include:

  • Missing fonts
  • Overset text
  • Missing graphics files
  • Low-resolution graphics

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    However, as we said before, you can import custom Profiles that will scan your document for customized issues that need to be addressed, like only using CMYK colors. Basically, anything that is specified in the Preflight Profile will be cross-checked against your document, allowing you to address output issues on the spot.

    We’d be happy to help you build the perfect Preflight Profiles that match our production workflow. Handing over a perfect and pristine file will not only keep your costs down and ensure a successful project; it will also make you a star in the eyes of our team.

 

Top Five Ways to Work Less and Enjoy Life More

ThinkstockPhotos-200317523-001.jpgEverything today is about “more”: more money, more time, more pressure, and ultimately, more stress. However, does this rat-race life leave you feeling flat and defeated and constantly chasing an ideal you’re no longer sure exists? If this sounds like you, it’s probably time to downshift and find ways to work less and truly enjoy your life more. Working less sounds like a scary prospect, but once you see how achievable it is and how much peace it will return to your life, you will be sold!

1. Make Changes at Work

We often get caught up in the tidal wave of rushing to get to the next level at work. So caught up, in fact, that we don’t realize we are no longer enjoying the work that we do and aren’t even sure that we’re adding value. How do you make an honest shift towards happiness while not letting down your co-workers or your boss, and continuing to pay your bills? Fortunately, there are more options available than ever before. There are simple steps that you can take such as walking at lunch as a way to get away from your desk or more drastic options such as requesting a lower-stress (and likely lower-paid) position. However, there are some great middle ground opportunities at businesses today as long as you get creative. Have you ever considered flex time? More than ever, organizations are allowing their employees to work one day a week from home or create a more flexible schedule that doesn’t inconvenience office mates or negatively impact work.

2. Pick Your Battles

Think of everything that you need or want to accomplish in the next five years. Maybe it’s saving up for a big trip, or getting that huge promotion you’ve had your heart set on. Physically write down what is most important to you in the short-term and the long-term, and those are the things that you don’t want to compromise on. Everything else is up for negotiation. If a short jaunt with friends comes up that will require you to skip a vacation day with family later in the year, just say no! The same goes for things like eating out on a weekly basis. The costs associated with feeding a family of three or four outside the home can really mount up, and keep you from reaching longer-term goals for a short-term convenience. This trade-off may not be worth it and may cause you to have to work overtime to support your fast-food habits.

3. Stop Multitasking

Taking the time to focus on one topic at a time truly does pay off. While multitasking feels efficient, a recent study at Stanford University showed how productivity can plummet when your brain attempts to focus on more than one thing at the same time. Instead, be intentional about what you need to accomplish — focus, complete the task, and then move on.

4. Automate Your Savings

Ever find it difficult to get enough money together at the end of each month for savings? If so, it’s time to outsmart yourself! Even if it’s only ten to twenty dollars per week, start sending a small chunk of change from each paycheck to a savings account that you can’t easily access, and do it automatically. The theory being that if you never see the money, you’ll never miss it. Before you know it, you’ll be able to buy something you’ve really wanted without having to work overtime or take on extra shifts to make it happen.

5. Get Motivated

Sometimes, the way to do your best work is simply to have fun! When you are energized and enjoying what you do, work just comes more naturally. Creative juices flow, relationships with co-workers have more synergy, and life is good. When you’re at work, look for ways to enjoy it! The positive mood will spill over into your personal life, and you’ll find yourself enjoying life more every day.

These are just a few of the ways you can find more peace and joy in your daily life, simply by finding the balance between hard work and hard play. Multitask less, focus more, and bring fun to everything you do!

The Tattered Sack

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A young man was walking along a path when he noticed an old man sitting in the dirt, muttering to himself and tossing rocks around. He approached the old man in the dirt and asked, “What’s wrong, mister?” The man held up an old tattered bag and moaned, “Everything I own in this world barely fills this miserable, wretched old sack.”

“Wow, I’m really sorry to hear that,” the young man said, as he snatched the sack from the man’s hand and ran down the path with it. Having lost everything, the old man burst into tears and miserably started walking down the path. Meanwhile, the young man placed the tattered bag in the middle of the road a short distance away. When the old man stumbled upon his bag, he laughed with joy and hugged his bag, shouting, “My dear beloved sack! I thought I’d lost you!”

Here’s the way I see it: Gratitude is the best attitude. If you’d like help creating the perfect print piece to show customers your gratitude, our creative team would love to help! Give us a call today at 856.429.0715.

7 Ways to Screenshot in Windows 10

ADDITIONAL WAYS TO SCREENSHOT

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While anyone can take a screenshot by pressing the Print Screen (prt sc) button, did you know that Windows 10 offers additional ways to screenshot, which may better suit your needs? Here are a few alternate ways to take screenshots using Windows 10:

  • Alt + Print Screen captures only the active window. This is a great way to capture only the content you want to show when using multiple monitors with several windows open.
  • Win + Print Screen not only takes a screenshot of your screen, but it saves it directly to your drive in the Pictures library, in the Screenshots folder, as PNG files.
  • Win + H not only takes a screenshot of your active app, but it also brings up a sharing panel to easily insert and share the screenshot in other apps, including email.
  • Win + Volume Down is ideal for tablet users, and will take a screenshot of your entire screen and save it to the Screenshot folder (similar to Win + Print Screen)
  • The Snipping Tool provides flexibility to choose what is captured in the screenshot and allows you to make notes on or highlight content using the built-in tools.
  • To create a Snipping Tool hotkey (keyboard shortcut), navigate to Start > All apps > Windows Accessories, right-click on Snipping Tool entry, click More, and then click Open file location to open Windows Accessories folder. Right-click on Snipping Tool shortcut, click Properties. Under Shortcut tab, click the field next to Shortcut key, and then enter a keyboard shortcut that you would like to use. Note that Windows automatically adds Ctrl + Alt as a prefix, but you can certainly go with something as easy as F7.

Our print team can offer you a lot of creative tips when it comes to your important printing projects, too. Remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close!

Personalization Matters: Why Going the Extra Mile is Always Worth It

_ThinkstockPhotos-508197435.jpgWhen people talk about the decline of “mom and pop” businesses in favor of the giant, national retailers, one of the things they bring up is that it’s hard to find a store that you can walk into these days where the person behind the counter actually takes the time to learn your name. You can’t walk into a national brand and expect someone to go “Hey, Phil – how did that new garden hose you bought last week work out for you? I’ve been thinking about you, and I thought you might like this other new product, too.”

But the fact of the matter is that these days are not over – not by a long shot and especially not in the world of marketing. You absolutely can inject this much more intimate, fulfilling level of personalization into your marketing collateral – provided that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

Personalization in Marketing: By the Numbers

If you ever wanted a clear cut example of why “going the extra mile” is an investment that pays off in more ways than one, look no further than the following statistics:

  • According to a recent study from Digital Trends, an incredible seventy-three percent of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to help create more enriching, more relevant shopping experiences.
  • According to a completely separate study from Infosys, eighty-six percent of consumers said that the level of personalization (or the lack thereof) absolutely plays a role in their purchasing decisions.
  • If you think that personalization is only a game for digital and internet-centric businesses, think again: direct mail success rates are continuing to trend upwards because, you guessed it, people find actual mail that they can hold in their hand much more personal and rewarding than something that is easily ignored like an email.

It’s About “Walking the Walk”

The major benefits of personalization in marketing extend far beyond just statistics like these, however. It all comes back to the values that your brand represents and the promise that you’re making to each and every one of your customers. Simply put, it’s one thing to say that you care about all of your customers – it’s another thing entirely to do the types of things that turn this from catchphrase into irrefutable fact.

Put yourself in their shoes. If you get two pieces of marketing collateral in the mail – one of which is addressed “Dear Sir or Madame” and another that has your name and maybe even specific information about past purchases that you’ve made – which one are you going to put more faith in? Which one would you bet cares about you more? Which one would you believe has a vested interest in making your life better?

Your customers have made their opinion loud and clear – they don’t just want you to sell to them. It isn’t just enough to have a product or service that is objectively better than anyone else’s. They want to be a part of something larger than a single purchase. They want something that they’re not going to get anywhere else – a true relationship with the people they give their hard-earned money to. Personalization and going the extra mile are just among the many, many ways that you can now do that in the modern era.

The Power of Facebook Apps

A GREAT WAY TO CUSTOMIZE AND ENHANCE YOUR BUSINESS PAGE

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Facebook apps are a great way to customize and enhance your business page. While there are an endless variety of Facebook apps available, here are a few of the most popular Facebook app options:

  • If you are a MailChimp user, you can integrate Mailchimp with your Facebook page to grow your email list and share your campaigns.
  • Pagemodo enables you to create custom tabs for your Facebook page, such as creating a welcome page, offering coupons, or featuring your products.
  • Polldaddy allows you to run surveys, quizzes, and polls through your Facebook page, with results available in your Polldaddy dashboard.
  • LiveChat offers an integration for your Facebook Page so that you can easily chat with your customers while they are using Facebook.
  • The YouTube Tab displays your latest YouTube channels’ videos in a tab on your Facebook Page.
  • Heyo allows you to easily create contests and campaigns for Facebook with customizable templates.
  • Facebook Shop enables you to sell products directly on your Facebook page and allows customers to go through the complete checkout process without ever leaving Facebook.
  • Livestream allows you to stream live videos from your Facebook Page in real time and track their performance.
  • Page Yourself allows you to customize, drag, and drop elements on your Facebook Pages, so it looks similar to your blog.

3 Easy Time Management Tips: How to Create More Hours in a Day

ThinkstockPhotos-517866414The one natural resource there never seems to be enough of is time. There are only so many hours in a day. You don’t need to wish that tomorrow will suddenly be a 35-hour day to get all of your work done. Instead, you need to start using a few small, yet critical, time management tips today to work smarter, not harder, with the hours that you DO have available to you. Here are three tips to get you started.

1) Learn How to Travel Productively

These days, a significant portion of your work probably isn’t taking place within the confines of your office. Whether it’s meetings with clients or unexpected personal issues, you likely find yourself stepping away from your desk more and more. The key to time management isn’t learning how to keep up with your obligations in spite of these sudden duties. It’s learning how to fit in work time around them.

Even if you don’t have a mobile tablet that you carry around with you wherever you go, it’s still easier than ever to work remotely. If you’re not already using a cloud-based file sharing service like Dropbox or iCloud, you need to start. Changing a document on your work computer makes those adjustments instantly available to every other device you have. Likewise, services like Dropbox for Business allow for real-time collaboration on files, letting people get together to work on a project even when they don’t have the time to literally “get together” at all.

Remember, the smartphone that you likely carry around with you is more powerful than the technology that NASA used to send men to the moon in the 1960s. There are hundreds of thousands of apps that are available in the iTunes and Google Play app stores right now for you to use to customize that device in any way you see fit. Stop thinking about it like a device that you merely use to send and receive calls and start looking at it as your office on-the-go.

2) Hold Better Meetings

Meetings are just a fact of life. But one of the many reasons why people tend to dread that weekly “catch-up” gathering is because they’re huge drains of productivity. The answer to this problem isn’t to stop holding meetings altogether; it’s to start holding better meetings.

Think long and hard about why you’re having a meeting. If it’s just to convey information, you could probably save everyone a lot of time and just send a lengthy email or inter-office memo instead. A meeting should always justify its existence. If it doesn’t, it needs to drop off the schedule. Likewise, plan out an agenda for your meeting ahead of time and stick with it. Make sure everyone who needs to contribute knows what is expected of them before you all walk into a room, giving everyone a chance to be as prepared as they need to be.

3) Get Organized and Stay That Way

Again, time management isn’t about finding more hours in a day; it’s about working smarter, not harder with the hours you already have. One study estimates that as much as thirty percent of our working time each day is spent looking for misplaced items. It stands to reason that if you never feel like you have enough time to get things done, the true issue might just be that you need to take a look around and organize your life more effectively.

Report Covers

A POLISHED, FINISHING TOUCH

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If you’re looking for a great way to add a polished, finishing touch to important business reports, custom-printed report covers are a great solution! In addition to serving as a professional branding tool, report covers provide document organization and privacy. 

Report covers are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, with many custom options available, including custom pocket folders, document pouches, foil stamping, and much more. 

If you’d like help creating the perfect report cover for your upcoming project, our creative team would love to help. Give us a call today at 856.429.0715 or visit: http://www.sjprinter.com!

The Importance of Appreciation For Morale

ThinkstockPhotos-476092520.jpgAs a hard worker, you want to be appreciated. This is simply human nature. We all want to feel our hard work is noticed and appreciated. After all, it only seems fair to be at least appreciated for giving your blood, sweat, and tears to make a profit for your employer. As an employer, you need to understand the importance appreciation has when it comes to the morale of your workplace. Appreciation is a huge aspect of a healthy, thriving workplace environment.

The Data Proves The Importance of Appreciation

A Chicago Tribune survey asked 30,000 employees who enjoyed their job why they loved their work. The most common reason cited by these employees was, “I feel genuinely appreciated at this company.” This data shows what we have been talking about, showing appreciation matters. Making people feel like their efforts at work make a difference is important. The next step is learning how to communicate genuine appreciation without it coming across as fake.

What Appreciation is Not

Just because your goal is to show your employees the appreciation they deserve doesn’t mean you will automatically know how to go about this. There are a few clear ways not to go about showing appreciation, though. For example, don’t just depend on your employee recognition program to do the job. Appreciation at Work found that around thirty to thirty-five percent of employees don’t want to go up in front of a large group and accept an appreciation award anyway. Therefore, even though an event created to show appreciation is well intentioned, it can backfire and create an adverse outcome. Often, even if a person doesn’t mind going up in front and receiving such an award, the certificate or gift they receive feels impersonal. Generic, group-based awards don’t feel genuine in many cases, so employees don’t find this as motivating as true appreciation. Besides, saying one positive thing about an employee in front of a group hardly makes up for an entire year ignoring all the extra work an employee is doing.

What Authentic Appreciation Looks Like

Of course, money always talks, so giving out bonuses, gift cards, or other monetary rewards is an excellent way to show appreciation. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that your employees only want to receive financial rewards. They also want to hear how appreciated they are on a regular basis. Keep in mind that appreciation doesn’t have to be something you say, it can be something you don’t say. For example, if your employee works extra hours all the time and they have to take off to handle a personal situation, don’t give them a hard time because they are out of the office for one day. This only makes them resent being at work and in turn, makes them a less productive employee who will eventually start looking for work elsewhere.

Remember, don’t act like your reward for their hard work or their paycheck is a gift. You aren’t giving them a gift. You are simply paying them what they are owed. Look at bonuses the same way. It might seem like “extra” to you, but to your employee, they feel they have worked hard to “earn” that money by working extra hours or taking on additional responsibilities.

Creating a workplace that shows appreciation is necessary to keep employees happy and loyal. The saying, “an employee who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected” says it all. Although your employees are getting paid for services rendered, they are people who want to feel like their efforts matter to the company. This is a crucial piece towards creating healthy morale in the workplace.

5 Ways to Toot Your Own Horn

ONE, TWO, THREE, LOOK AT ME!

With the rise of email and digital marketing, you might be under the impression that print promotions are “dead,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Reach your interested customers who are staggering under the weight of spam emails and poorly-targeted digital advertising with an impactful and beautifully designed print promotion.

Rules of the Road

Whether you’re looking for a quick response to a particular promotion or your goal is to build interest over time with advertising, these key design rules will ensure that your message has the desired impact for your next project.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition Sending out just one mailing piece will not provide you with the results that you would like. Instead, design a series of staggered, targeted promotions.

Make an Impact There’s no need for subtlety in advertising. Insert a clear call to action, or next step, for your customers within the design.

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Types of Promotions

No matter the promotion type, execution is critical. Poorly-presented type or design could ruin an otherwise clever idea — taking it from eye-popping to eye-rolling in a moment. Below are five common promotion design types depending on your goal:

Self-Promotion

Is your business the best at what it does? Say so! Create a booklet that details your specific offerings or a simple postcard that drives people to a web-based landing page or to give you a call.

Brag Promotions

Brag promotions are the ideal way of letting your audience know that you’ve done something impressive. Win an award recently or get recognized within your community? Create a brag promotion as part of a larger project and include messaging about how the award will benefit your customers.

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Capabilities Promotions

Want to let your clients know how many options you have available at their fingertips? Capabilities promotions are a great way to explain the breadth or depth of services that you offer.

Invitations

Let your customers know you have a special event coming up soon. Host an open house, a business gala, or a community fundraiser, and use a creatively designed and printed invitation to spread the word.

“Just Because”

There is never a bad time to say “Thanks” or celebrate a special occasion. Send a printed and well-designed note to your customers for corporate anniversaries, holidays, or after a large order.

Ready to design and create print promotions and advertising that makes people take action? Give us a call, and we’ll help you craft the perfect promotional piece that will get you noticed!

“Take It From Me”- Why Testimonials Are So Effective

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Marketing is all about giving your customers the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision. Everything you do – from the copy you craft to the images you choose – is built around that simple purpose in mind.

But marketing itself has evolved over the years, away from the heavy reliance on the spec sheets of yesteryear. It’s essentially become an open line of communication between you and the people you’re trying to serve. People don’t want to be “sold to” anymore – or at least, not in the way they used to.

This is why customer testimonials are so important. Instead of “taking your word” for it that your product or service is going to impact their lives positively, it lets real customers hear from other real customers why the decision they’re about to make is a good one.

The Power of Testimonials: Facts and Figures

In addition to communicating with your audience, another essential goal of your marketing materials should involve building as much trust and credibility as you can. Your customers don’t just want to know that you can solve their problem – they want to know that you can do it better than anyone else. To that end, customer testimonials are incredibly effective – particularly in the world of print.

Part of the reason why testimonials are so important is that they help create a deeper, more emotional appeal for your branding. Consider the following statistics:

  • According to one study, the regular use of customer testimonials can help you generate roughly sixty-two percent more revenue not only from every customer but from every time they visit your brand.
  • Ninety-two percent of people said that they read testimonials when considering a purchase.
  • A further eighty-eight percent of consumers said that they trusted these reviews just as much as personal recommendations, according to the same study.
  • To top it off, seventy-two percent of those who responded to the survey in question said that positive reviews and testimonials helped them trust a business significantly more.

Simply put, customer testimonials create something of a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding your connection with your target audience. Someone enjoys your product or service, so you encourage them to leave a positive review or testimonial. Consumers naturally trust each other more than they trust just marketing collateral, so that testimonial adds more weight to the decision they’re trying to make. Those initial happy customers, therefore, encourage more purchases, which creates more happy customers, etc.

When you combine customer testimonials with other effective marketing tactics – like a heavy reliance on not just print but on print techniques that help your collateral stand out and make a unique impression – suddenly your message is being amplified in the best possible way. You’re giving an opportunity to let regular customers become brand advocates, which does more in terms of building trust, credibility, and emotion than you could ever do on your own. You’re also creating more brand advocates in the process, which is always a good thing.

Who Doesn’t Love Free Ice Cream?

kirkHere’s a humorous little story I thought you would enjoy:

Every day on his way home from school, a young boy stops into a local barbershop to say hello. As he enters the shop, the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the most foolish kid I’ve ever met. Watch this while I prove it to you…”

The barber puts a one dollar bill in one hand, and a five dollar bill in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?” The boy takes the one dollar bill and skips away with a big smile. “What did I tell you?” said the barber to his customer. “We play this game every day, and that kid never seems to learn!”

As the customer is leaving the barbershop, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store next door. “Hey, kiddo! May I ask you a question? Why did you take one dollar instead of five dollars?” The boy licked his ice cream cone and replied, “Because the day I take the five dollar bill, the game is over!”

Here’s the way I see it: Being underestimated is one of the biggest competitive advantages you can have. Embrace it. If you’d like help creating print materials that will impress your competition, give us a call today!

The Long-Term Benefits of Making Leisure Time a Priority

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Listening to the waves as they cascade against the sand, feeling the warm breeze against your face, understanding that all is right with the world, at least for that moment, that is what vacation is for most people. Perhaps you would trade the ocean waves for the sound of an eagle soaring through resplendent mountaintops covered in evergreens or snowcaps. The idea, though, is that you are away from your everyday world. You stop clocking in. You aren’t dealing with the stress that encompasses so much of your everyday existence. You are on vacation.

What do you think about this vacation time? Is it well deserved for your hard labor? Is it perhaps frivolous? Do you wonder if you will ever get to realize this dream, this break from your life? Well, read on to learn why vacation is not only an excellent way to rejuvenate your body; it has also been proven to be something you shouldn’t put off:

You Can’t Possibly Get More Done After a Break: Or Can You?

In essence, yes, you are more apt to be productive when you take the time to rejuvenate your body, soul, and mind. A report by the New York Times showed that your body “needs” the break vacation provides. There is even evidence that you become more productive once you get back from your vacation than you would have had you simply skipped your break. The Times reported the following about this aspect of the study findings:

“The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.”

Other Benefits Besides Increased Productivity

In addition to being more productive and focused when you return from vacation, there is also evidence that you will garner a whole new perspective on things once you get a break. A CNN report stated that workers who took a break from their jobs enjoyed a new perspective on their lives when they were away from the stresses and problems of their daily existence. Family relationships are also strengthened when vacation is made a priority as family members are able to spend large amounts of non-distracted time together when away from their regular responsibilities.

Do Americans Get it Right?

In most cases, Americans don’t get vacation right at all. In fact, other countries handle this issue much better. The average French worker, for instance, takes more than twice the vacation time of an American worker. Americans typically use only sixteen of their eighteen vacation days according to a 2010 study. An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S. report revealed an average of 3.2 paid days off left unused by workers, amounting to around 429 million unused vacation days.

Why It’s so Difficult For Americans to Relax

There are many studies just like the ones listed above that show vacation as a way to improve employee morale, increase productivity, and create a healthier working class, so why don’t Americans make vacation a priority? Most of those who were asked simply said they felt they had too much work to do to take time off. Do we as American workers really feel that our European counterparts aren’t also busy? No. Instead, we feel the world will fall apart if we don’t keep it spinning. Workers in other countries simply don’t have this belief. Therefore, if we as Americans want to make our lives better overall, we have to begin to understand that we don’t personally keep the world in orbit. We can leave for a few days here and there, or a week once in a while. Our country, workplaces, and families will not only survive, but they’ll be the better for it.

Wide-Format Printing

When you want your brand to stand out, consider going big! Really big! Wide-format printing allows us to create larger-than-life projects for you to fit almost any occasion.

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New Product
Launching a new product? Use a high-quality banner to announce your new items and promotions. Banners are not just for outdoor use. Get creative! Hang them in lobbies, from balconies, or your entryway ceiling.
POP Displays
Point-of-purchase displays of a grand design are an easy task with wide-format printing. Create life-size images on heavy foam core to bring dimension and attention to your products.

Unique Folds
Imagine their surprise when a customer unfolds your brochure only to have it unfold again and again as it accordions out to reveal an extra-long page of beautifully colored information.

Posters
Feature your products as framed works of art or hang them on your walls as large color posters.
From vehicle magnets to a life-size cutout of your employee of the year, there are endless uses for wide format print technology.