Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

GettyImages-511916360.jpgEver feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? “It’s impossible,” you say. “I just don’t have an eye for design.”

There’s hope for even you!

In today’s generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you’re creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.

1) Proximity

The main purpose of proximity is to organize.

When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.

When you’re thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relationship, so items not related to each other should be spaced apart, while elements you want to connect should be grouped.

Don’t be afraid of white space! Sprawling elements throughout a page to avoid white space will make a piece more visually challenging for your viewer to comprehend.

What to Avoid: Too many separate elements on a page, grouping unrelated items in proximity, sticking things in the corners or the middle to avoid empty space.

2) Contrast

Contrast is one of the best ways to add visual interest in your page.

Contrast excites the atmosphere, draws the eye, and clarifies communication. Contrast is nothing if not bold, so one goal of contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If fonts, colors, or outline borders are not the same, then make them extremely different: white on black, 24-point font above 12-point font, or neon shapes near pastel text boxes.

What to Avoid: Being wimpy, using similar typefaces, highlighting a non-focal element, creating unnecessary chaos on a page.

3) Alignment

Alignment unifies a page and creates flow and personality.

Nothing should be placed on your page haphazardly. Every element you use should connect with other elements to create a clean, sophisticated look.  When items are aligned, the result is a stronger cohesive unit. Be conscious of where you place elements and align pieces in a page even when the two objects are physically far apart (like a top headline with the bottom footnote).

What to Avoid: Using multiple alignment styles (i.e. some center, others left) on one page or always defaulting to centered alignment.

4) Repetition

Repeating visual elements of design throughout a piece will bring consistency and strengthen the unity of your projects.

Repetition can be used with colors, fonts, bullets, graphics, borders, subheadings elements, or anything a reader will visually recognize. Repetition is a conscious effort to unify all parts of a design: elements repeating through various pages, colors displaying patterns, drop caps in lead paragraphs or sidebars in successive layouts.

What to Avoid: Making repetitive elements too subtle or infrequent, being haphazard rather than intentional, or repeating an element so often it breaks the flow or the document as a whole.

While design may not come naturally to you, everyone has room to grow. By using these four principles, your work will look more professional, unified, and interesting. And you will have more fun creating!

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Love Your Planet with Eco-Friendly Print Practices

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As technology has progressed, so has the need to reduce waste.

Sustainable solutions are not new to our industry, and environmentally-friendly practices are something to greatly value. Design, first and foremost, is concerned with solving problems, and that includes the way we partner with you to create sustainable print solutions for the future.

Here are a few real-life of examples of how you can reduce your environmental impact with your print project:

1. Paper Preferences

Want to reduce your personal or corporate waste? The range of paper options has substantially increased in recent years. From recycled wood pulp to “tree-free” papers (made from bamboo, sugarcane, and mango, to name a few), you can now choose from an array of possibilities. If you are interested in knowing more about recycled paper options, we’d be happy to share them with you.

2. Ink Selection

As companies have worked to create eco-friendly products, printing processes and types of ink have been part of that experiment. Non-toxic toners and both soy and vegetable-based inks have matured in quality, continuing to improve in saturation, density, and brilliance. A 2005 Earth Day ad perfectly demonstrated this message, speaking out against chlorine-processed paper on an exceptional-quality poster that employed soy-based inks and recycled paper.

3. Products and Packaging

Environmental improvements in print also include finishes and packaging techniques. Consider simple options for reducing waste, increasing the longevity of a product, or using organic materials to reduce your footprint.

For example, adhesive labels offer you an efficient method for delivering product information without coating an entire packaging surface. Hangtags (versus boxes or containers) significantly reduce the quantity of disposed material you produce. Biodegradable or 100 percent recycled materials can be used for boxes, bags, and more. Even the choice to print a fold-over flyer (versus traditional letter and envelope format) can reduce unnecessary waste.

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Keep the Creativity Flowing

While we don’t know for sure what the future holds, everyday choices can make a collective impact. Remember, you can make a difference, even in your design and print decisions!

Running A Successful Giveaway

Flat line design word content concept of content digital marketing TIPS FOR CREATING A SUCCESSFUL GIVEAWAY CONTEST

 

Giveaway contests can be a fun way to increase audience engagement, boost online traffic, and gain new customers. Here are a few tips for creating a successful giveaway contest:

  • Determine your goal, such as increasing your Twitter followers by 10 percent.
  • Make your contest simple for your audience to complete and simple for you to track the results.
  • Promote your contest frequently across multiple platforms. Mention it in your social media, newsletter, blog, direct mailings, handouts, and other email blasts. Also, ask employees to share social content to their followers so your exposure can grow exponentially.
  • Consider an easy online tool such as Gleam or Rafflecopter, which encourages your audience to fulfill multiple objectives, including social engagement, link traffic, and sharing your contest with others.
  • Offer reminders during the giveaway timeline so people won’t forget to enter.
  • Consider submitting your giveaway to sites that promote giveaways and contests, such as The Balance Everyday Sweepstakes, Contest Girl, Blog Giveaways, Sweepstakes Lovers, and more.

If you’d like help creating posters, postcards, or other print materials to promote your giveaway, we’d love to help! Give us a call today at 856.429.0715

Four Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content

GettyImages-538481794.jpgAndi Bell, the World Memory Champion of 2002, appears to have memory superpowers.

He can memorize the order of several decks of cards and recall them on the spot. How does he do it? Bell uses a location-based memory strategy, like this:

Bell picks a route through London and walks it repeatedly until it is fixed in his mind. As he walks, he associates cards of the deck with a character (like a bear or a pineapple), then connects each character and card with a site along his route: the bear becomes the House of Parliament, the pineapple becomes Buckingham Palace, etc. In this way, the deck transforms from a string of facts to a story to share. Each deck has roles that come to life mentally as Bell “walks the plot” of his route in London.

Make Your Words More Memorable

While you may not have memory superpowers, we all recognize the power of retention and its impact on marketing.

When you share memorable content, it shapes people’s perceptions and positively disposes them toward business with your company.

Do you want to bring your brand story to life and make your marketing messages more memorable?

This is harder than it used to be. In a recent study, Microsoft found our average attention span has decreased from 12 seconds (in 2000) to about eight seconds today, with viewers exposed to up to 5,000 ads daily.

Audiences are bombarded by content, so yours needs to be memorable! Here are four principles to keep your communication as “sticky” as possible:

1. Follow the Rule of Seven

Sales are more than transactions; they involve a journey of decision.

People can’t buy from you if they don’t know you exist, and they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. Typically, people need to see your message at least seven times before they consider your offer. Don’t expect people to respond immediately. Offer different methods to replicate your story to increase the odds that they’ll respond.

2. Use Powerful Headlines

Advertising guru David Oglivy estimated that, because four out of five people only read the headlines, when you write a good headline, “you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Since we encounter volumes of content each day, we can’t possibly read it all. Great headlines come in many forms. Some are short, others are newsworthy, and many feature a strong product benefit. The best headlines are specific. Which of the following impacts you more?

“How to Improve Production Yields This Season”

OR:

“This Little Mistake Cost One Farmer $3,000 a year”

3. Be Funny

The most memorable messages make you laugh.

When Clutch Media interviewed consumers to find what kind of ads they prefer, people overwhelmingly chose ads that made them want to eat or laugh!

Humor is key to making content memorable, especially when messages are specifically tailored to your audience. Data showed that 53 percent of consumers are likely to remember content that is humorous!

4. Use Detailed, Personalized Stories

Which is more memorable: A stroke response fact sheet or a heart-wrenching brochure about a woman who dismissed her husband’s fatal symptoms when he said he was “just tired?”

Stories share messages in solid, emotionally moving, unforgettable ways. The more people connect with a story, the more they’ll remember it, so use stories that are specific, personal, and relatable to the clients you want to reach.

Package It With Perfection

In the end, HOW you share is just as important as WHAT you share.

Looking to package your content with noteworthy style? From stunning sell sheets to dynamic postcards and brochures, we’ll bring superior craftsmanship that is guaranteed to add impact!

Announcement Cards

BREAK THROUGH THE CLUTTER OF ONLINE COMMUNICATION

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If you have a special event coming up, custom printed announcement cards are a great way to spread the word. Not only are they a classy way to ensure your announcement gets noticed and remembered, but a printed card can also break through the clutter of online communications.

Many people think of announcement cards for exciting life events, such as engagements or the birth of a baby. However, announcement cards are also a great marketing tool for corporate celebrations, such as grand openings, anniversaries, and retirements.

Our creative experts can help you design an announcement card that is perfect for your event and budget. Whether you’d like a standard flat card or a folded card with die-cut edging or decorative embossing, the creative options are truly endless. Stop by to see samples or give us a call to order your announcement cards today!

Swallow vs. Crow

Here is an interesting little story about a swallow and a crow.

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One day, a proud swallow was sitting in a majestic tree admiring his colorful feathers and his long tail. He happened to see a crow and thought, “Wow, look at how dull that bird is. All of his feathers are black.” Just then, the crow flew up and sat on the same branch as the swallow. The swallow immediately started talking down to the crow, saying, “You are such a boring looking bird. All of your features are black, and your tail is so short. I bet you wish you looked more like me,” as he spread his wings to show off his pretty blue feathers.

Without getting upset, the crow calmly replied, “It’s true, you have colorful feathers and a long tail, but only in the summer. Your beautiful feathers fall off and cannot keep you warm when the weather turns cold. While you shiver, my feathers stay the same year-round and keep me warm in the winter.”

Here’s the way I see it: Simon Sinek said it best, “Confidence is believing in yourself. Arrogance is telling others you are better than they are. Confidence inspires. Arrogance destroys.” When you trust our print shop with your important projects, we guarantee our printing will give your business a boost of confidence.

Use Powerful Visualizations to Make Your Message Clear

GettyImages-905819004.jpgCommunication is the key to human connection.

But adequately sharing information can be more difficult than you may think. George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has taken place!

Experts estimate that 65 percent of people are visual learners, so one of the easiest ways to communicate with people is with pictures. A well-structured chart, graph, or data visualization can do wonders for sharing your insights with customers, team members, or your superiors. And with easily accessible tools you can use illustrations to:

  • Get your message across quickly
  • Make complex data accessible to many
  • Make your report or presentation more visually appealing
  • Create a more memorable, lasting impression

Whether you’re reporting the household budget or spicing up slides for a presentation, stretch yourself to try one of these options this month.

Vertical Bar Charts

This is a simple option for comparing data grouped by distinct categories. Vertical bar charts are better when sharing 10 groups of data or less.

Horizontal Bar Charts

Typically, horizontal bar charts are effective when you have more than 10 groups of data or if you have long category labels to share.

This format makes labels easier to read because they are displayed in the proper orientation. Vertical and bar charts are excellent for comparing any sort of numeric value, including group sizes, inventories, ratings, and survey responses.

Pie Charts

Pie charts are fun to look at and helpful for understanding parts of a whole.

Remember to order the pieces of your pie according to size and to ensure the total of your pieces adds up to 100%.

Line Chart

Line charts are used to show data relative to a continuous variable: calendar months, years, budget allocations, etc.

Plotting data variables on line graphs makes it easier for readers to identify useful trends or to evaluate comparable products or challenges.

Bullet Chart

Bullet charts are typically used to display performance data relative to a goal.

A bullet graph reveals progress toward a goal, compares this to another measure, and provides context in the form of a rating or performance.

Flow Charts

Following the proper process is something that can make or break an organization or its employees.

Flow charts are used typically in medical, educational, or manufacturing fields to bring quality control and to ensure procedures are uniformly followed.

Pictographs

Here images and symbols are used to illustrate data.

For example, a basic pictograph might use a frowny face to signify sick days and a happy face to symbolize healthy days. Because images hold more emotional power than raw data, pictograms are often used to present medical data. An illustration that shades five out of 20 people has a much more significant impact in sharing a 20-percent death rate.

Sharpen Your Image

When finalizing your data visualization, here are ways to bring your best to the table:

Less is More.

When creating illustrations, consider which gridlines, borders, or numbers can be removed to make the essential parts speak for themselves.

Let White Space Shout.

Minimalist designs like this Congressional gender chart can highlight areas where a gross imbalance exists.

Interpret Data for Readers.

Viewers can understand data more easily when you offer compelling titles and well-placed labels.

Use a Call to Action.

To move your readers, encourage them to take action and make changes.

A great example of this comes from Sebastian Soto, who built a single-color pictograph about the decline of Zambian malaria. Using quotes from key research and health ministry directors on the poster, he closed the graphic with this phrase: “Let’s Collaborate. againstmalaria.com.”

If you need help creating visualizations for your next print project, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

GettyImages-817471696.jpgFrom Tarzan’s treehouse to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Disney’s creative team has spent decades constructing fantasy lands depicted in Disney movies.

Bringing dreams to life is Disney’s business, and its empire spans 11 theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of hotels, and many waterparks and restaurants that help guests experience the happiest place on Earth.

The dreamers, or “Imagineers” at Disney are the brains behind the vision. Peter Rummell, who served as chairman of the Imagineers for 12 years, said creativity doesn’t just happen. It has to be engineered:

“It is a process and if you don’t understand that and if you sit around and wait for the lightning bolt, you’re not going to be very productive.”

Walt Disney himself was a master of creative thinking and brainstorming. Not only was he talented in discovering ideas, he knew how to convert possibilities into reality. One associate said this about Disney:

“There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming to the meeting.”

Disney’s Strategic Brainstorming Techniques

Over time, Walt’s team used his own attributes for guiding thoughts to build parallel thinking in groups, while at the same time generating concepts, critiquing ideas, and solving problems.

NLP expert Robert Dilts helped bring the technique to life, like this:

  • Four parts of a room were set up for different thinking methods: imagining, planning, critiquing, and for stepping outside the concept. Arranging a physical space for each mindset prepared teams to switch from one thinking mode to another.
  • Teams gathered with a target objective: an innovation to brainstorm, a problem to solve, or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced unhindered green light thinking, planners used red light critiques to define the how, the timeline, or the plan.
  • Meanwhile, critics and the concept overseers analyzed weaknesses of the plan, defining missing elements, gaps in the process, or obstacles to address.

Rotating between spaces allowed teams to transition from unhindered passion to logical plans. Impossible ideas weren’t immediately squashed. And through this defined creative process, teams could generate solid creative ideas with an action plan to apply it.

Unlock Creativity in Your Team

Though Peter Rummell has since moved on from the Imagineers, he says his time at Disney taught him three valuable lessons for guiding teams in creative thinking:

1. Entertain ideas from everyone.

“I think one of the major lessons I learned was that despite the hierarchy of an organization, an idea can come from anywhere.”

Top leaders should be willing to listen and younger team members should be encouraged that everyone has a voice.

2. Build an eclectic team.

“An accountant sitting next to a poet is a really good idea,” Rummell said.

High IQs are not pre-requisites to creative success. When teams are full of variety, often the least likely people can generate the best concepts. Varying skill sets help to energize the best ideas and to round out gaps in the plan.

3. Vet even the strangest ideas.

When Rummell’s team was brainstorming waterpark ideas, they were totally stalled.

“We didn’t want to do another Pirates of the Caribbean or some Caribbean island,” Rummell said. “We were trying to figure out what would be fun or different.”

Everything sounded silly until someone left for the bathroom and walked by a cubicle decorated in snowstorms. Though the idea of a freak Florida snowstorm sounded ridiculous, eventually the idea became “Blizzard Beach,” the theme of an entire waterpark in Orlando.

Creativity doesn’t just happen, so get resourceful and create some new brainstorming processes of your own. When you’re ready to roll out new concepts, we’ll help you bring them to life in print!

Increase Brand Awareness

ENSURE YOUR BRAND GETS NOTICED AND REMEMBERED

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In today’s competitive business world, it’s becoming more challenging to ensure your brand gets noticed and remembered. Here are a few creative ways to increase your brand awareness:

    • Position your business as an expert by creating useful content, such as blog posts, infographics, and white papers. You can also build credibility and trust by writing articles for well-known industry and trade publications.
    • Increase your direct mail campaigns and ensure they complement your other marketing efforts.
    • Industry events are the perfect place to introduce your organization to new customers, show off unique products, provide samples, and gather a qualified prospect list.
    • Encourage your customers to do the selling for you by rewarding customer referrals.
    • Consistently post quality information and engaging content on social media.
    • Make an effort to interact with your customers on social media. If someone asks a question, answer it. If they have a problem, solve it.
    • Update your marketing portfolio. For example, consider creative business card options, such as a vertical card, a personalized photo card, label business card, folded business card, tear-away card, die-cut shape, UV spot color, and much more.
    • Consider partnering with other (larger) brands on events, product giveaways, or products.
    • Communicate on a more personal level by sending customer birthday or anniversary cards, a handwritten thank you note, or an exclusive coupon as a thank you for being a loyal customer.

Give us a call if you’d like more ideas on how to boost your brand awareness in print!

Go Off the Grid with Transparent or Overlay Design Options

GettyImages-177268547.jpgWant to stretch your designs or look your very best in print?

Consider the bold, creative flair overprinting or transparent layering can bring.

Typically, when you generate multi-layer designs your design software will cause one element to cover the artwork below it. Graphics obscure backgrounds, fonts cover image details, or text wraps around focal points as you format it to your preference. This layering process organizes your piece and prevents the muddy look that can occur when colors bleed together.

Overprinting allows you to use one color on top of another in a way that blends two colors to make a third. This is especially useful if you’re working with a limited selection of Pantone colors or to create a unique, funky feel when two pieces of artwork overlap.

Overprinting is an element that can be turned on and previewed in the attributes panel with your design software, and flattened (or exported) in the print settings.

Want to try it? Here are some basic examples to experiment with:

1. Blend text over images.

Start with a simple, uncomplicated photo like three bright citrus oranges.

Choose a photo with fewer details so your design isn’t too busy. Add text over the image in either a lighter shade of the same citrus hue or a totally contrasting color (white font on orange fruit, for example). Blending the words and image will create a new, third color where the font overlays the fruit.

2. Apply a typographic hierarchy.

Create order in the way your design is read by adjusting font transparency levels throughout the image.

For example, try a textured wood background but allow it to peek through your text by adding transparency to your type. Primary headlines should be less transparent for a bold, commanding presence. Secondary heads or copy text down the page can increase in transparency for a more faded, mysterious feel.

3. Overlay a graphic with a solid color.

Use color to make a statement with a solid color overlay over the whole page.

This means that you cover an image or page with a semi-transparent colored box. The effect can add meaning to an image, bring attention to a design, or help you get creative with limited image options. Another option is to use gradients or filters to fade a background image or bring a bright hue to give a boring image some spark. A neutral color or sepia overlay can add a rustic flavor, then be paired with a bright or transparent font that really pops out.

Transparent Layering in Print

Transparency is also a great layering option that can also be used in all kinds of designs to bring exquisite elegance or unforgettable flair.

Curious? Feel free to visit with us about outstanding options like these:

  • Clear frosted business cards
  • Arresting posters printed on translucent stock
  • Frosted tote bags with artwork or logos foil-stamped on the surface
  • Translucent vellum paper used in formal invitations
  • Oversized translucent stickers for windowfronts, clever displays, or sharp packaging
  • Catalogs or booklets featuring bold text overlaid by a simple, transparent cover

Transparency can be a great way to reveal what’s inside your package or under the project cover, letting the product inside sell itself! Use transparency and overlay techniques to give your project more depth, structure, or sophistication.

Use Game-Based Learning to Train Your Employees

Teamwork of partners. Concept of integration and startup with puzzle pieces. double exposureEthel Merman thought people should lighten up to really live, crooning these lyrics in 1931:

“Life is just a bowl of cherries: don’t take it serious, it’s too mysterious . . .

Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all!”

Is life all fun and games? Definitely not.

But leadership experts are finding that one of the best ways to train people is by helping them laugh and compete as they learn through play.

United States… Gaming?

Recently, the US Army employed “serious gaming” to address challenges in their leadership training.

While soldiers were very capable in weapons and war strategies, the Army found its forces need to grow in their soft skills by increasing familiarity with the values, norms, and cultures where they were deployed.

First Person Cultural Trainer, a gaming simulation, was developed specifically to help junior leaders understand the consequences of their speech, body language, temperaments, and choices. Trainees used a 3D avatar to interact and work with individuals in a foreign community and to gain feedback on how their choices affected their ability to build rapport. Students progressed through four levels of gaming to build communication, interpersonal, and intelligence gathering skills.

Games for the Win

Advances in game-training strategies have steered many organizations toward a more recreational focus in their corporate cultures.

Games and stories are a fundamental part of human life: according to one study done by Essential Facts, in 2016 more than 60% of households in America had someone playing video games regularly. Humans excel in games because we love reward-based challenges, especially when objectives become progressively harder or more addictive!

To embed gaming in their corporate training culture Cisco used a “LiveOps” call center to challenge competing agents, ultimately reducing call time by 15% and improving sales by an average of 10%.

A Colorado restaurant gamified its objective to increase sales of specific menu items. When they sold a 4-pack of cinnamon rolls, staff could play online “point-yielding games,” and reward points were redeemable for a branded debit card. One study estimated this restaurant realized a 66.2% ROI due to the increase in sales productivity.

Why do games work? Game training is effective because it:

Motivates employees to surpass expectations or to complete training exercises

  • Allows people to fail and try again without negative repercussions
  • Makes time for real-time reflection and feedback sessions
  • Grows individual confidence in carrying out tasks (as people practice, break challenges into micro-learning segments, and accurately perceive their ability to succeed)

Game Options of Your Own

Want to improve productivity or increase the cost-effectiveness of your team training?

Games offer hands-on, motivating opportunities that can be used over and over. Purchase simulations like GameLearn training platforms, or consider three hands-on options of your own:

  1. New Hire Scavenger Hunt.

Whether it’s a physical or online hunt for facts, facilities, or people, get people competing and moving and calm their nerves in the process.

  1. Product Knowledge Mix and Match.

Employees take turns being introduced to a variety of customers (including purchasing needs, budget, or personal background).

Players then compete to match the best product to each customer while negotiating a deal or completing the sale.

  1. “What If” Training Simulations.

These games give teams the opportunity to explore hypothetical situations.

If they made XX decision, what would happen? Assign real-life tasks and challenges, allow teams to collaborate and present options, and process together about the benefits or consequences of the strategies they chose. Added bonus: supervisors learn alongside employees and gain hands-on experience in leading their teams!

The Best Form of Marketing is YOU

Portrait of young white woman in a busy modern workplace

If you could harness the most accessible, inexpensive form of marketing for your business, would you want it?

Everyone has it, but it’s easy to overlook.

The most authentic sales tool is one that’s always with you: yourself.

You are the face of your business. Marketing doesn’t sell, people sell! You are the vessel that carries your business brand to every prospect you meet. Are you making the most of own potential?

Being cheerful, confident, and courteous can go a long way toward making a stellar first impression.

Be Cheerful

People want to do business with people they enjoy, and a cheerful attitude can give you a winning edge in many situations.

Whether you are outgoing or more reserved, seek to be:

  • Positive: be optimistic and look on the bright side of life. Be a “green light” thinker and keep an open mind to new ideas.
  • Polite: whether you’re running errands or talking on the phone: be polite. You never know who’s listening.
  • Persistent: when things don’t succeed, don’t give up. Be intentional to build relationships or follow up on leads. Make the first move and don’t take rejection personally. As millionaire businessman Bo Bennett says, “A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.”

Be Confident

When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, your confidence is high and you are more likely to perform well.

Your mindset has incredible power to shape your circumstances and help you achieve your goals, so start each day on your toes:

Take care of yourself: Brush your teeth, get regular haircuts, and keep your clothes and accessories in good condition.

Dress professionally: When you dress well, people will respect you. Put time and thought into your choices to communicate that you care about what you do.

Respect your culture: Every company has different expectations for appropriate dress. While you may have the freedom to choose, it’s best to lean on the simple, conservative side with accessories, necklines, or fit of your clothing.

Dress “Up”: If you are attending an important event or meeting, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A polished look lets people know you are serious and capable. If you feel overly formal when you arrive, you can always roll up your sleeves, ditch your blazer, or loosen your collar.

Be Courteous

Mark Twain said that action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.

People will judge you by your behavior, not by your good intentions! How consistently do your actions reveal a positive view of your character or business? Challenge yourself to:

  1. Reach out to others. Be the first to say thank you, congratulate others, or start a conversation with someone who is standing alone. Be proactive, intentional, and kind. Do nice things at unexpected moments.
  2. Live consistently. What are the mission and the brand values of your company? Do you represent these in both your professional and personal life? If your company exalts community investment, seek to volunteer and invest during your personal life as well.
  3. Be prepared for anything. Rehearse your personal introduction and have conversational icebreakers ready for unexpected moments. Have a product testimonial in your back pocket. Keep breath mints, business cards, or a portable phone charger ready. Think of yourself as a friendly, roaming billboard. Everywhere you go you can sell yourself and market your business.

Finally, remember to smile: a friendly smile makes everyone more inclined to like – and do business – with you.

If you need help marketing yourself on paper, give us a call at 856.429.0715 and we’ll make you look your best.

Vertical Business Cards

STAND OUT IN A SEA OF BUSINESS CARDS

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If your organization is looking for a way to add a new twist on an old favorite, you may want to consider giving your business cards a 90-degree turn with a vertical design. Because the layout is unconventional, it will be more memorable and demand attention, and likely encourage recipients to take a second look at your business card.

While the design aspect may be more challenging on a vertical card, the challenge is often worth the effort. Perhaps you have a long list of products or services that work nicely on a vertical card. Or maybe you have a vertical logo you would like to highlight. Even though you are changing the layout, the traditional 3.5” x 2” business card dimensions still fit easily into your client’s wallet or Rolodex.

 

If you’re looking for unique ideas for vertical designs, our creative team would love to help! Visit our website or give us a call today at 856.429.0715

How Emotions Win Customers

Diverse people holding emoticonCassell’s Hamburgers is something of a Cinderella story.

Founder Al Cassell launched the iconic lunch counter in Los Angeles in 1948. Famous for grinding beef daily, Al’s passion for great burgers and homemade mayonnaise lived for years. But by 2012, struggling owners decided to sell off Cassell’s rights, recipes, and equipment. It seems there was no magic touch that could save this beauty.

Jingbo Lou had other ideas.

As a Chinese exchange student, Lou came to the U.S. to study at the University of Southern California and developed a passion for architectural restoration that grew out curiosity for American culture:

“As an immigrant to this country, my very big task is to learn the culture,” Lou says. “I really fell in love with the history.”

J Lou put this love to work bringing Cassell’s back to life in a salvaged, crumbling 1920s inn called the Hotel Normandie. J Lou recognized a hotel/restaurant combo was a chance to cater to the nostalgia of many Californians.

And he was spot on.

Since Cassell’s reopening in 2014, the business has topped many “best of” lists and expanded into Downtown LA and a LAX location in Terminal 1.

Why such phenomenal success? Because emotions sell.

Emotions Win Customers

Brands build loyalty because emotions win customers!

While you may believe your decisions are rational, most choices are actually controlled by your intuitive (emotional) mind. Studies show that people rely on the heart, rather than on logic, to make decisions. Douglass Van Praet, author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing, says this:

“The most startling truth is we don’t even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don’t hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they’re made!”

Brands put emotional marketing in play by focusing more on the needs and passions of customers instead of on the unique product benefits their products bring.

For example, Pampers exalts healthy, well-rested infants instead of dry baby bottoms. Nike inspires people to overcome limitations instead of highlighting superior shoe quality. Harley sells people freedom without limits rather than offering a mode of transportation. And Cassell’s Hamburgers offers people a return to simpler days, including original chairs, tables, signage, and original menus hanging on the wall.

Want to enhance the emotional message your brand brings? Brand marketers suggest starting with steps like these:

  • Treat prospects as people rather than buyers
  • Give people multiple chances or channels to try or become familiar with your products
  • Use ads with identity messages that motivate or move people
  • Create a shared community among purchasers
  • Inspire users to have dreams
  • Offer messages that give people an experience, not just information

Create stories that allow your company to be part of people’s lives and appeal to every aspect of your customers’ personalities: their ego, needs, dreams, or general emotional state.

These connections can happen through music, artworks, logos, signage, slogans, sport, or anything that really ‘speaks to your customers.

Above all, emotional branding seeks to build lifelong partnerships between a business and its customers. Once someone is emotionally captured by a brand, they are more likely to stay loyal for decades.

Expert Advice for Classy Custom Labels

In today’s visually-oriented market, brand persona is everything.

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Strong, simple visuals go a long way toward giving you a rock-solid image to stand tall above competitors and to capture customer attention.

While companies work hard to shape outbound marketing, they can easily overlook options for the packaging and presentation of their products. Even simple tweaks can go a long way in making your brand shine!

Custom printed labels can offer a durable, stunning accent to your product or printing. But there are many variables when it comes to printing labels. From the right materials to laminate finishing, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Here are a few tricks we’ve learned over the years to help you craft labels to heighten brand appeal.

Less is More.

When it comes to labels, it’s important for your message to connect immediately.

When a label has complex fonts or busy designs, it can be difficult for readers to engage with your product. Keep your designs, images, and borders clean and simple for maximum user experience. If you post nutrition facts, make them as concise and reader-friendly as possible. Non-standard shapes or labels that match your package size are a great way to bring precision and flair.

Color is King.

Want to stop them in their tracks?

Colors command attention and make your message sing.

Try splashes of color against neutral backgrounds, or complementary colors that bring depth and warmth. If your label intends to communicate flavors, seek to pair colors that carry these natural associates (like greens for lime or orange for citrus).

As you design label colors, your goal is to help users find or associate with your product more easily. If you already have a branded color scheme, use this as your prominent theme. Colors help customers recognize your product and feel secure when they purchase in the future.

Fonts Rule.

Nothing says sleek like a perfectly sketched font.

Work to find the right balance of clean and clever. If a font is too generic, it will be easily missed. If it’s too wild, it may be hard to read or seem silly. Stick to a font you’ve branded your company with, or use two fonts (max) to keep your label coherent and easy to read.

Experiment with font pairings: consider a headline that’s bold and condensed with a copy that’s light or vertically stretched. Or try an all-caps serif with an italicized sans serif to compliment. Test your font pairings on volunteers or gather feedback from artistic friends before finalizing a design.

Consistency Counts.

Labels help you build a personality.

What message will you send? What ideas do you hope to convey?

Keep your labels consistent with your brand identity, looking for distinct features you can highlight or graphics that illustrate your story. 19 Crimes Wines uses an interactive “Living Labels” app to allow each wine to unveil a mystery. Fieldwork Brewing uses blown up oceanside photos for its Island Time Sour Ales. Fit Buns High Protein Bread comes in a box that makes the pastries look like a ripped dude’s abdominal “6-pack.” The label also conveniently features a free fitness center coupon inside. Also, remember to keep your contact information accessible so customers can visit your website or contact you with feedback.

Let’s face it: in the marketplace, beauty is often skin deep.

Your label is a representation of the things you’ve worked hard to build, so go the distance to make your brand stick. Need ideas to get you started? From hangtags to custom adhesives, we’re your one-stop shop for creative label options!

The Way I See It

kirkOne sunny day, a mother and her son were outside flying a kite. The son loved watching the kite glide through the sky and cheered as it flew higher and higher. Eventually, the kite reached the end of its string and could not go any higher. After pleading with his mom to break the string, she finally agreed and cut the string to release the kite. Shortly after, a gust of wind made the kite spiral uncontrollably, and it crashed to the ground.

As the son looked very sad and disappointed, the mother explained, “Just like the kite, we may reach a certain level in life and feel like things may be holding us back, such as friends, family, or rules. We feel the desire to become free from those strings, but it’s important to remember that those strings will help us remain stable and fly higher than we can without them.”

Here’s the way I see it: Dan Pearce once said it best, “Who do you want to surround yourself with? People who can pull you up to their level of greatness? Or people who will happily pull you down to theirs?”

Four Ways to Market Smarter in 2019

Looking to energize your base or drum up new leads?

2019 creativity inspiration concepts with lightbulb on pastel color background.Business solution,planning ideas

A new year is a great time to refresh your marketing matrix. Whether you’ve been in business for two months or for 20 years, creating awareness and interest is always a current challenge. Here are four areas to tweak as you build a competitive edge this year.

1. Know Your Audience.

Who are your ideal customers? What are their challenges or the goals you can help them achieve?

Revisit your buyer persona regularly and make sure you’re still clear on who you want to reach. These profiles can be used to segment your list and to personalize your latest pitch.

Knowing your audience also means examining whether you’re hitting your target. Are you sharing information that your prospects are actually hearing? Re-examine your media strategy and conduct regular database purging.

If you’ve been neglecting your database, your communication will be skewed as well. Successful marketing relies on data-driven decisions, so ensure your contacts are current.

2. Employ User-Centric Content.

In an increasingly individualized market, blanket sales pitches have lost momentum.

If you want to gain trust from your network, make it your goal to reach people in a more personal way.

How?

Position yourself as a giver, a helper, or an equipper in your print marketing. Use content that is insightful, entertaining, and easy for your prospects to apply.

3. Move From Keyboard to Camera.

Hubspot recently found 72% of people prefer video when they want to learn about a product or service.

With the dominance of YouTube and social media, the explosion of visual content is bound to continue. Our brain processes images 60 times faster than words, and humans are naturally drawn to narratives and stories.

Why not share more of your story through video?

Whether it’s quick bursts (think Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Live) or a professionally edited piece for your website, video content will keep you connecting in ways that are real and relevant to this generation.

As you grow, look to connect your online and offline presence. One example: ask a leading question on your direct mailer and have them scan a QR code or use a personalized landing page (PURL).

4. Lighten Your Load Through Marketing Automation.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t do it all.

A great deal of effort can be saved through automation software, which expands your reach and boosts your efficiency.

Marketing automation allows you to identify warm leads and nurture prospects with highly personalized content that meets users at every stage of their customer journey. This can lighten your administrative load, provide an excellent return on your investment, and generate significant new revenue.

Automation software is especially effective in transforming traffic to leads and prospects to customers. Automated content is tailored to consumers based on how they interact with your company, growing their trust in you and making them much more likely to buy.

A recent Salesforce study found that 67% of marketing leaders use marketing automation of some kind, and this number is expected to grow significantly in years to come.

Keep in Shape

Your customers will change and evolve, and so will your business.

As people change, your job is to understand how your customers want to buy and to make it easy for them to do it!

Keep your marketing in high gear as you find new ways to streamline data, boost engagement, and improve the customer experience of each person you serve.

Loyalty Stamp/Punch Cards

LET CUSTOMERS KNOW HOW MUCH YOU VALUE THEIR BUSINESS

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Loyalty stamp cards or punch cards are an affordable and creative way to boost sales. Not only do stamp/punch cards encourage first-time buyers, but they also increase repeat business from loyal customers, and are a great way to let customers know how much you value their business.

 

Because filling a stamp/punch card typically results in a valuable reward (such as buy ten pizzas, get one free), they also have a higher perceived value than a traditional paper coupon. You can easily double the impact of your card by printing your business card on the backside or use the space to promote an upcoming promotion or new product.

Unlike more complicated digital rewards programs, punch or stamp card loyalty programs are easy to teach to your staff. They merely need to know which purchases earn a punch, how many punches a card should include to get the free item or discount, and what the item or discount is. You can also create a special incentive, such as “Two Punch Tuesdays” to boost the popularity of your loyalty card on specific days.

If you need help creating the perfect stamp/punch card your customers are sure to love, remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close!

Engage Your Audience with Direct Mail

AN EFFECTIVE AND ENGAGING WAY TO REACH YOUR AUDIENCE

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While electronic marketing often steals the spotlight in today’s digital world, print marketing continues to be an effective and engaging way to reach your audience. Here are a few examples to grab attention with direct mail.

    • Make your audience feel special by sending exclusive invites or coupons to your top customers.
    • Use creative packaging such as oversized boxes, translucent envelopes, preview windows, or lumpy mailers to ensure your direct mail piece is opened amongst a pile of flat envelopes.
    • Consider unique papers, such as a shimmery or velvety finish, waterproof options, or even a seed paper that your recipient can plant.
    • Use direct mail to make an announcement, such as an exciting new product or service. Use your direct mail piece as a teaser that piques interest and follows up with a conversation to answer any questions.
    • Ensure your direct mail piece is useful by incorporating a list of handy resources, a calendar, or a map, to extend the life of your mailer.
    • Consider an oversized postcard newsletter filled with expert tips, tricks, and other relative industry information that will leave your audience asking for more.
    • Address your mail by hand. A simple yet authentic handwritten gesture not only grabs attention but can help you connect with your audience on a personal level.
    • Mail exclusive coupons, discounts, and other promotions that customers look forward to receiving.
    • Double your impact by teaming print and electronic marketing together, such as sending a postcard to grab attention that directs recipients to a coordinating landing page with additional information and links to your contact information.

If you need ideas for the perfect direct mail piece that can help boost sales and awareness, our creative team would love to help. Give us a call today at 856.429.05.15!

8 Office Printer Hacks – Save Money on Your Daily Print Projects

Imagine running out of an ink cartridge right in the middle of printing your concert tickets or boarding passes.
Then you realized you forgot to order a new cartridge.

Happened to you before?
Watch our “Printer Hacks” video and don’t be left stranded.

Toner Hack is the best, saved our lives on may occasions.

 

 

What the Amazon Effect Means for Your Small Business

GettyImages-926365844.jpgWhen Josh Silverman took over Etsy (an e-commerce website focused on handmade and vintage items), he faced immense pressure to revive the company financially.

He didn’t disappoint. While shedding jobs and increasing holiday promotions, Etsy swung from a $29.9 million loss (in 2016) to an $81.8 million net income in 2017.

Managing this feat in the face of Amazon’s competition was impressive. Amazon notched $51 billion in net sales in the first quarter of 2018, recently confirming it has exceeded 100 million Prime members globally. In contrast, Etsy has 1.9 active sellers and 33.4 million active buyers.

Amazon is everywhere: delivering groceries, storing music, and putting items at your doorstep in two days or less. Amazon has been so present that it has become a verb: as in, “I Amazoned it.” While Amazon brings smiles to many, it brings tremors to some small businesses. Many are outraged at the demise of mom-and-pop shops, and even large-scale retailers have taken hits.

What It Means For Small Business

The Amazon effect is a catchphrase used to describe how Amazon has influenced our interactions with other businesses.

Because so many people are Amazon subscribers, this platform has raised expectations for shopping experiences. As writer Corey Pemberton notes,

“Because the vast majority of us use Amazon regularly, we’re well aware of a new kind of customer experience. We used to drive to the shopping mall, painstakingly search for items, and wait in long lines with little complaint. But now that we’ve experienced the joy of picking out things in our pajamas and clicking to have them shipped straight to us, the alternative seems substantially less desirable.”

Subsequently, expectations of all businesses have increased.

How Your Business Can Adapt

Here are four ways small businesses can adapt in the wake of Amazon’s influence.

  1. Work to develop distinct, personalized products.

Part of what makes your business irreplaceable is the individual products only you can produce.

While resellers can undercut some sales, a small business with a unique, quality product can’t easily be replicated.

  1. Partner with e-commerce platforms.

A recent Insureon insurance company poll of 2,400 business owners showed 68 percent of businesses surveyed said that online retailers had a positive impact on their business:

“[Online retailers] have forced small businesses to embrace e-commerce as a critical route to reach their consumers and revenue source,” said Jeff Somers, president of Insureon.

Businesses that don’t sell online will struggle to stay relevant in the modern age, but e-commerce doesn’t just mean partnering with Amazon. Typically, a small business’s website is the most common place to sell.

  1. Feature customer ratings and reviews.

When buying online, people need extra input to tip toward commitment.

When you’re looking to buy, who do you trust more: a long-time neighbor or a sophisticated salesperson? Obviously, humans are biased toward “ordinary people.” One of Amazon’s best features in their abundance of ratings and reviews. Capitalize on this yourself and allow the words of others to convince your prospects.

  1. Become a destination.

Amazon is convenient, so make your business an experience, not just an errand. Change your product mix regularly and make it enjoyable for people to physically “discover.” Add entertainment with lessons, parties, samples, or anything to engage families. Tell your story and give people pride in doing business with you.

An Enhanced Customer Experience

Amazon isn’t killing small business, but it is changing the way we buy and sell.

Payoneer e-commerce manager Iain McNicoll says Amazon has given entrepreneurs a chance to create customer experiences they might have otherwise been overlooked:

“People see Amazon as crushing small business,” McNicoll said. “Really, I think it opens up a door for small business, allowing them to now reach new customers that they wouldn’t have been able to reach in the past.”

Four Exercises to Fuel Your Design Innovation

GettyImages-869440688.jpgEven the most brilliant creators need new fuel from time to time.

If you’re feeling stifled or uninspired (or you just want to have fun!) consider some of these creative “sparks” from designer Jim Krause to ignite fresh perspective in your monthly routine.

Exercise: Make a puddle of ink. Blow the ink around using a straw. Consider layering different colors of ink and using different kinds of paper. To mix things up, repeat this exercise but start the puddle of ink on an existing picture—a landscape, a silhouette, a cultural icon.

Takeaway: Creating things that create themselves reminds us that art is fun and beauty can arise from unexpected places.

Exercise: Choose a subject and create 25 thumbnail icons that depict its message and its meaning. If that’s too easy, try 50 or 100. Start with basic sketches and transition into graphic design or photos. Consider different line weights, shaded and filled areas, or combinations of geometric shapes.

Takeaway: Forcing yourself to sketch the same thing in different ways can build and broaden your artistic muscle. The next time you work on a concept, fill a full page with icon sketch versions of it before you settle on your design of choice.

Exercise: When was the last time you took out a paintbrush? Still-life portraits are a tangible way to sharpen your skills, especially when you combine objects of various shapes and textures in interesting arrangements (think eggs in a bowl surrounded by glass spice bottles on a bustled cloth napkin).

Takeaway: Still-life paintings are like eating your carrots: they’re good for you and increase your appreciation of texture. Painting helps you learn to see forms and colors, which makes you a more effective artist in any field.

Exercise: Begin with a blank piece of paper. Make a mark using the media of your choice (India ink, acrylic paint, and toothbrush, sketching pencils, chalk). The next mark you make will be a reaction to the first mark. This can be a new mark, a line, shading, fillers, or finishes. The goal here is not to “plan” what you’re going to draw but to practice progressive art by following one element to another (like a group of people taking turns adding sentences to a narrative). Your goal is not to create a thing of beauty, but simply to flow. If the results are pleasing, that’s fine. If not, that’ s ok too.

Takeaway: This exercise teaches the artist to rely on instinct: to react or flow rather than to plan and control. The best art can be born out of spontaneity.

Tend Your Roots

Creating is like breathing: it brings energy and life! If you only create what you’re “told” to do, you will stagnate. Tend your roots by cultivating the passions and interests that nourish your artistic core. As you pursue creative expressions outside your job or career, originality will flow in your profession as well.

Now that your designs are really singing, find high impact print options that won’t shock your budget. Want to talk cost-effective wow factors like thermography, high shine coatings, or alternative bleed options? Give us a call at 856.429.0715!

Team Collaboration Transforms Customer Service

GettyImages-925689844.jpgT-Mobile touts itself as “America’s Fastest Unlimited Network.”

In a fiercely competitive market, T-Mobile knows one of its most crucial responsibilities is to bring pleasurable customer support to the millions who call their helpline each month. While traditionally its call service center resembled a factory floor (cubicles brimming with reps donning headsets), T-Mobile has dedicated the past decade to reinventing its service sector.

Today when you enter a T-Mobile contact center, you’ll find reps sitting together in shared pods as they collaborate to solve customer issues as a “Team of Experts,” or TEX. TEX teams include cross-functional groups of 47 people who serve named customer accounts in a specific market. Each team has a point leader, four coaches, and eight technology specialists. Customers no longer wade through a “call tree” but have immediate access to a dedicated, reliable team. Teams are so connected to their service region that they follow the daily news in this area and decorate their pods accordingly (like a Lego replica of the Golden Gate bridge).

“We’re constantly talking about what’s happening there,” said a senior rep whose team serves San Diego. “I’ve never been to San Diego, but I know what’s going on in the local news, where the best place is for fish tacos, and what the surf report looks like for the next few days.”

Now a team in Chattanooga is responsible for 120,000 customers in Detroit, and a Charleston team responds to suburban Philadelphia. This collaboration allows each service team to operate like a small business, with members laboring together to increase performance. As a result, employee turnover has decreased by 48%. T-Mobile now boasts its lowest “cost to serve” ratio in company history (down 13% since 2016) and has been ranked the number one wireless company for service by Nielsen for the past 24 months.

Together Everyone Achieves More

Team collaboration fuels innovation and provides consistent service for your customers.

Does your team have a sense of enthusiasm or shared DNA that brings measurable results? T-Mobile started with four questions:

  • Are our customers happier?
  • Are they staying with us longer?
  • Are we deepening our relationship with them?
  • Are we making their service experience low-effort?

Embracing a team-service focus brings your clients more effective answers. Reps develop more authentic relationships with clients, which means they can improve their everyday service functions. And this ultimately enhances the product or service you offer. A superior output prompts higher customer loyalty, increased sales, and better word-of-mouth for your business.

Here are three tips to help you improve customer service teamwork:

Clearly State the Team Objectives

Teams can’t move fluidly until everyone knows what the “win” is.

Highlight Team Performance

Regularly communicate achievements, challenges, and specific goals. As progress is celebrated, motivation and unity increases.

Create a Sense of Belonging

While T-Mobile’s traditional customer-service managers only measured individual performance, today compensation is variably weighted according to both individual and team performance.

Teams use collaboration software to resolve calls and alert each other of escalating issues (like regional power outages). From this ownership mindset to a wholesale transformation of the factory floor, customer care vice president Callie Field says team unity has empowered everyone to do more:

“If all you ask people to do is bring down their handle time, they can do that. But if you empower them to do more—to think like a small-business owner who is focused on the customer’s happiness and the strategic management of their P&L—they can do that too. And they’ll do it really well if you give them the tools and get out of their way.”

Dream-A-Book Sketchbooks – Illustrate, Draw, Sketch, Write a Story, Start a Diary or Travel Journal

Dream-A-Book Sketchbooks – Illustrate, Draw, Sketch, Write a Story, Start a Diary or Travel Journal

IMG_7491.jpgSJ Printer proudly presents the new product line…

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…

Dream—A-Book Sketchbooks!

This idea was inspired by my favorite childhood movie “NeverEnding Story”. Although, the movie was made in 1984, way before screens took over our lives, it is even more relative today than ever before. Several months ago I read an article about the imagination crisis. In Europe, educators are desperately looking for new ways to develop creativity. Now they are placing kids in rooms with absolutely white walls to get their imagination going.

With our new line of clean, “ready to create” hardcover sketchbooks or colorfully illustrated softcover you don’t need to go to such drastic measures. Just use our books on a long drives or while you wait for your food in the restaurant. These sketch albums are great for writing, sketching, doodling or drawing. Bring out that long hidden creativity and imagination.

Stop by our shop in Cherry Hill, call or e-mail, place an order and receive 30% OFF on all our Amazon items.

Please visit our amazon store to see current selections. We add products daily: http://www.amazon.com/shops/sjprinter

Here is our video presentation:hqdefault

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG3ONuYOzTY

 

The Way I See It

kirkThe Way I See It

You’ve likely heard this story before, but it’s one of my favorites, so I wanted to share again…

One day, a wealthy man, of a rather wealthy family, took his son on a trip to the country to show his son how poor people can be. On their way home, the father asked his son, “Did you learn anything from this trip?”

“I sure did,” said the son. “We have one dog, and they have four. We have a small pool in our backyard, and they have a creek that has no end. We have lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. We have a small piece of land, and they have endless fields. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, and they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless. Then the boy said, “Thanks, dad, for showing me how poor we are.”

Here’s the way I see it: The world changes when we change our perspective. If you’d like help creating beautiful print materials that will ensure a great first impression, give us a call today!

Target Local Consumers with Event Sponsorship

GettyImages-837692166.jpgCorporate sponsorship is one of the most effective marketing channels, but most businesses haven’t tried it.

What is event sponsorship and why should you consider it? From a 5K road race to a good old-fashioned neighborhood picnic, companies that get outside their walls can make a huge splash in the community.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Businesses that rely on local support understand that their company will grow primarily through the support of its neighbors.

How do you engage your neighbors?

By being a good neighbor! Put a face on your business by sponsoring a baseball league, hosting community events on your lawn, or by mobilizing your city to benefit a beloved charity.

Community development events show you are invested in your region and you enjoy its people. Here are some fun examples of how firms have made this a reality:

  • Budweiser helps sponsor the annual “duck” tape festival in Avon, Ohio. With music, brews, fashion shows, and family-friendly movies, the three-day event draws more than 60,000 people from around the world to see taped parade floats and a playful tapestry of taped costume creations.
  • McDonald’s and Pizza Hut sponsor “the Chicken Show” in Wayne, Nebraska, which features a “national cluck-off” and the world’s largest chicken dance celebration.
  • In 2016 Pretty Pampers Beauty Essex hosted a charity event that offered affordable and luxurious experiences while raising money for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Local spas teamed up to provide steeply discounted services like massages and facials so donors could relax and unwind. Between sessions, guests could shop boutique vendor stalls featuring local clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, and home decor.

Hosting or sponsoring an event can help your business demonstrate its commitment to community involvement, philanthropy, and family fun. Of those local businesses who get involved in a community event, 80% said they were satisfied with the results and many reaped tangible benefits like features in local newspapers, tags in citywide blogs, promotional newsletter highlights, and social media selfies!

Events spread your name in print through T-shirts, prizes, water bottles, and giant displays, and photos of real people in action. This prompts word-of-mouth marketing that simply can’t be captured elsewhere. In 2016-2017, companies who used local events saw sales increase by an average of 14 percent.

Use Corporate Events to Spread the Love

How can your business get started in spreading some cheer?

Sponsor a charity event or contest, host a sales or promo booth at a community festival, promote an on-site event, or allow your customers to nominate recipients of a “give-back” incentive you sponsor for your city. Sponsorship doesn’t always have to be monetary: you can also look for ways to volunteer branded items, free service from your company, or concessions donations for a city-wide festival.

Want to multiply your marketing dollars and make a lasting impact? A micro-market event focus can bring better results and spread the love. When companies support issues they care about, they gain greater trust and loyalty from patrons. And that investment is sure to yield great returns!

How to Persuade Prospects to Say Yes

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As social creatures, relationships and community have a tremendous influence on a person’s willingness to buy. Keep these six principles of social influence in mind when you’re looking to persuade prospects.

  1. Reciprocation: People say yes when they receive something first.

This is why stores give out free samples. Featured products get a sales lift as people feel obligated to reciprocate by purchasing the product. When a New Jersey waitress offered diners a free piece of chocolate, her tips went up by 3.3 percent, but when she returned and offered them a second (unexpected) chocolate, her tips rose by 21.3 percent!

»To delight your customers, include a small extra with your next printing piece or customize an accessory with a name or meaningful label.

  1. Liking: People say yes to those who are like them.

This may be as simple as a shared nationality or common hobbies, but it can be as nuanced as a salesperson mirroring the gestures, posture, or body language of a potential customer.

» Affirm your customers by highlighting similarities or lavishing authentic compliments, and you will see a measurable impact. Prospects want to feel you like them!

  1. Social Proof: People say yes when they believe others are saying yes.

For example, by merely labeling certain dishes “most popular menu items,” a restaurant in Beijing found these dishes sold 13-20 percent more frequently! When people believe others have responded similarly, a pending purchase seems more sensible.

»To activate this persuasive tactic, share glowing testimonials or data on the number of customers who have recently purchased.

  1. Scarcity: People say yes when supply is limited.

Because people have an aversion to missing out, they want more of something they might get less of. For example, automobile manufacturers who limit production of a new model are able to charge substantially higher rates.

»Employ scarcity by using time-limited offers or constrain buyers to “x” number of products and you will increase the worth of what you offer.

  1. Consistency: People say yes when they’ve taken small steps first.

Work towards personal alignment that will stimulate customers to follow through on new commitments.

»Woo your prospects toward a sale by reminding them how your product or offer corresponds with something they’ve already said they value (family, safety, saving money, health).

  1. Authority: People say yes to authoritative or “trustworthy” communicators, especially when listeners are uncertain.

Communicators are perceived as trustworthy when they are highly qualified, when they are honest about weaknesses or mistakes, or when they say something positive about the competition.

»Use brand story pieces to share how your company is seeking to improve or use highly respected community members to endorse your product.

Etiquette Training for a New Generation

GettyImages-847330938.jpgEtiquette Training for a New Generation

Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post has a bone to pick with millennials and their bad manners. Consider one technology-related example:

“Last week I watched in horror as a 20-something girl carefully snapped a photo of a basket of onions,” said Oleksinski. “But we weren’t at a serene farm or the Marché d’Aligre in Paris — we were crammed into the Columbus Circle Whole Foods. Thousands of customers were streaming through the aisle trying to grab some garlic for their dinners, and Little Miss Annie Leibovitz was blocking traffic to get some artsy snaps of nightshades. Will she print out these photos? Nope. A pile of white spheres under fluorescent light is even too dull for Instagram. Next time, Annie, take a breath and think about where you are . . . Pay for your brie wrap and vamoose.”

Etiquette is Part of Your Brand

Oleksinski isn’t alone. Modern professionals are finding a suffocating relationship with technology has left them oblivious to social basics their elders took for granted.

Presentation, both personal and professional, is a key to showing who you are. And etiquette training of all kinds is making a resurgence for millennials.

“Etiquette is so much a part of your brand,” said Rachel Isgar, a Phoenix-based etiquette coach and author. “Just a few improvements can help your career.”

People respond to people, and poor manners may mean a hindered partnership, a missed promotion, or a collapsed deal. Companies like Beaumont Etiquette, which runs a marquee “finishing program” in the Plaza Hotel of Manhattan, have recognized a unique need for social training in the modern generation.

For $125, a participant can take part in a two-hour group session that teaches courtesy gestures, personal hygiene, and a range of soft skills conducive to successful socializing.

“Even if it was not something you were taught as a child, anyone can learn to have good etiquette, and it’s up to you to teach yourself,” founder Myka Meiers said. “I think, sadly, people become very self-involved . . . and forget about others. What I wish these people could learn is that by spending just a little time each day making someone else happy and spreading kindness, even the smallest gesture, their lives could be so much more fulfilled.”

Meiers says honoring others includes everything from table manners to Twitter posts. Just as we once taught people to “think before you speak,” how much more crucial should it be to “think before you post?”

“If you don’t want your grandmother or your boss to read it, don’t post it,” Meiers said. “Once it’s on the web, it’s out there for good.”

Want to curb your own bad behavior? Consider ten smartphone tips for starters:

  1. Never ignore those you’re with to make a call or text.
  2. Apologize to your guest if you need to respond to an important message.
  3. Never leave your ringer on in quiet places.
  4. Never use offensive language while using your phone in public.
  5. Don’t post work-related complaints on social media.
  6. Don’t photograph everything.
  7. Never post on social media while you’re under the influence.
  8. Don’t place your phone on the table during meetings.
  9. Don’t text people about work outside of normal office hours.
  10. Don’t dehumanize cashiers by using your phone while someone serves you.

Daniel Post-Senning, co-author of the 19th edition of “Emily Post’s Etiquette: Manners for Today,” says ultimately good manners are about putting others first, whether that’s online or at a dinner party. While social customs change, manners are timeless:

“Manners are really reflections of core principles,” Daniel says. “Consideration, respect and honesty.”

Tips to Become a More Decisive Leader

GettyImages-943960736.jpgEach January, people set New Year’s resolutions, embrace a visionary attitude for the year, or dream about possibilities for the future.

Some people thrive due to this natural “reset,” but others ignore it altogether. And some people just feel stuck. They wrestle with questions like these:

  •    “I’d like to write a book, but where would I start?”
  •    “I want to be more organized, but what is the best scheduling system?”
  •    “I want to quit my job, but what would I do next?”

Do you feel stuck as a leader?

Twenty years from now, you won’t remember how many loads of laundry you did or which Netflix series you binge-watched in 2019. What will matter is the relationships you cherished and the challenges you overcame. You’ll feel pride when you look back at goals you achieved or significant contributions you made. And this begins with action!

Your habits compound over time to shape your identity and to impact others. But this starts with an action-oriented, decisive mindset.

Here are several catalysts to help you become a more decisive leader.

The worst decision is no decision.

Many times, people postpone decisions for fear of failing or making a poor choice.

But most failure stems from inaction, not from mistakes we make in the process. Though some decisions matter more than others, often the decision not to act is the most costly choice of all. Don’t worry about doing the wrong thing or obsess over details. Make up your mind to be an action-oriented person and to learn from both your success and your missteps.

Action trumps the “perfect” plan.

It’s easier to steer a car that is moving than one that is parked.

Often, we over-prepare or over-think things, which is really just a form of procrastination. Taking action may mean prioritizing undesirable tasks above all others, or refusing to do things you enjoy until you solve a stalled problem. Momentum is powerful, so pick one area to begin and get started!

Narrow the field.

Sometimes the hardest part of a decision is the plethora of options before you.

It takes time to evaluate the pros and cons of every choice, so pare down choices (or have your team do this for you) until you have only a handful of options to consider. It’s easier to select one choice from two options than it is to select two options from 200!

Set deadlines.

When you struggle with passivity in a certain area, don’t keep kicking this pain point down the road.

Instead, give yourself a time frame to research options and set a deadline for making a choice. Putting “deliberation dates” on the calendar transforms possibilities into realities.

Delegate more.

As you start a new season, challenge yourself to stop doing just one thing, and to empower just one person.

Step back to evaluate your schedule or ask someone to help you do this. What is sucking unnecessary time or energy? Could you purge this or share more of your load with your team?

Delegate authority to a trusted staff member and empower leaders around you by training and trusting them. And don’t micromanage people, even if their style is different than your own. This discourages others because it suggests you don’t trust them or you desire control more than you want growth!

Failure to make a decision or take quick action can sometimes hurt your business more than miscalculations along the way. Improve your decision-making capabilities and make this your most productive year yet!

Special Event Programs

A MEMORABLE AND INFORMATIVE ADDITION TO MANY TYPES OF EVENTS

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Event programs can be a memorable and informative addition to fundraisers, workshops, corporate celebrations, annual meetings, conferences, and much more.

Event programs can range from a simple one-sided handout to a multi-page booklet with speaker profiles, a schedule, maps, and other detailed information. Depending on the type of event, programs can also be used to generate revenue by selling advertising.

To extend the life of your program, consider including contact information, social media handles, color photos, background information, a helpful FAQ, a calendar of upcoming events, or web links to useful resources.

If you’d like help creating the perfect event program your recipients will enjoy, give us a call today at 856.429.0715. Our team of creative experts would love to help!

Boost Online Reviews to Drive Profitable Consumer Action

GettyImages-961676776.jpgHow do you grab a lifeline on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

You ask the audience!

While experts tend to get a trivia question right two-thirds of the time, the audience gets that answer right 91 percent of the time. Why? Because individually we are limited, but collectively we are genius.

In today’s global economy, buyers understand the importance of collective intelligence. People rely on other consumers to help them decide what movies to see, which vet to use for their pets, or the best software to buy.

Recent studies show more than half of adults under age 50 consult online reviews before making a purchase decision. People trust and rely on these reviews, and products or companies that receive positive reviews increase the quality and quantity of their website traffic.

Gather and Manage Your Own Online Reviews

Customer reviews are an incredibly valuable asset in today’s world, and businesses have more power over these reviews than they may think.

Don’t leave your reputation in the hands of third-party sites like Google, Facebook, or Yelp! As you seek to generate leads and engage prospects, work to:

  • Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews. Can you interview a brand loyalist personally? Have you launched an e-mail campaign to ask customers for reviews on recent purchases? Have you tried incentives to prompt greater response?
  • Get notified of new customer reviews and efficiently respond. Reply directly online or send a personal message to the reviewer to express gratitude or interest in their concern.
  • Aggregate and embed reviews on your business website. This increases the chance of positive reviews showing up in online searches by interested prospects.
  • Learn from reviews and improve service. Even negative feedback can signal customer engagement. The more you listen and respond to your customers, the more relevant and successful you will be.

As you flush out and manage reviews, don’t assume that search engines and review sites aren’t important. According to Mike Bluementhal, online marketing co-founder of GatherUp, Google is crucial:

“We advise small businesses to think of Google as your new Home page. Your Google brand result is one of your most important pages on the internet. That is not to say it can replace your website. It can’t. But your Google presence should reflect the best your business has to offer. People searching will see how you appear in Google and make immediate judgments.”

A Winning Formula

Bluemental says that 70 percent of new leads start at Google.

While traditionally word-of-mouth marketing the most powerful referral option, online reviews now hold tremendous influence. From phone calls, driving directions, or contact form fills, Google is the number one spot for new users to take action to connect with a business. And this behavior is strongly influenced by the customer reviews Google posts from the business website or social media pages.

In other words, manage your content and take great care of your customers! Care about what they think and streamline your service to their needs. Encourage them to share compliments. And when they do, give that content a boost so it appears far and wide online. Bluementhal says this will help entrepreneurs to improve weak areas while simultaneously growing areas of strength:

“It’s a winning formula in today’s landscape.”

Using Bitmojis in Business

A PERSONALIZED CARTOON AVATAR OF YOURSELF

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Bitmojis are becoming a favorite way for companies to connect and communicate with their followers. A Bitmoji is essentially a personalized cartoon avatar of yourself. Once creating a bitmoji, your avatar will automatically be created with a variety of moods and stickers.

Bitmojis are specifically appealing to the millennial market, who already use them in everyday conversations. Bitmojis have made communication between users simultaneously more personal while still being extremely informal. A simple Bitmoji can help communication, ranging from a serious message to a hilarious response without having to type anything.

Bitmojis have become a key player in the social media marketing world, helping to increase brand awareness and build relationships with customers. Bitmojis can be used to add a fun and energetic face to a name, allowing you to connect with customers and prospects. They can also be a great way to grab attention and announce promos and contests.

To create your own Bitmoji, go to https://www.bitmoji.com/ or download the app on your smartphone. Follow the steps to create your avatar and share it across other social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.). Bitmojis can also be used in print media, such as postcards, business cards, brochures, and much more.

If you’re looking for unique ways to add Bitmojis to your marketing piece, our creative team would love to help! Contact us today at 856.4290715.

Craft First-Class Flyers with 5 Quick Tricks

GettyImages-881134420.jpgWant to grab attention for your event, promotion, or group?

Flyers are a low-cost form of mass communication that can be personally delivered, distributed through mail, posted in public places, or sent via e-mail. Flyers are fun to create and provide a great place to experiment with unusual images or layouts. As you explore the possibilities, here are five areas to sharpen your design:

1. Magnetic Focal Point

When you begin your design, clearly identify the theme of your message.

Look for an image or headline that best communicates this, and build your entire design around it. Every flyer should have one thing on the page that is huge, dominant, or captivating. If you catch their eye with this focal point, they are more likely to read the rest of your text.

2. Logical Design Flow

After the focal point, your flyer design should have a sensible layout that intentionally leads the reader through the page.

Strong subheads should allow viewers to quickly scan the flyer. If the skim layers don’t interest them, people won’t read the copy. Designs should include engaging color and graphic contrast. If everything is large, nothing can really grab a reader’s attention. Sequence a logical flow: left to right, top to bottom, or using visual cues like numbers, arrows, or a “map” of dashed lines.

3. Strategic Repetition

Whether your headline uses a playful typeface, script style, or an ordinary font with unusual colors, consider bringing a little of that font into the body of the text for repetition.

This may mean using one letter or one word in that typeface or highlighting key words or phrases in each section of the design to make them pop. A strong contrast of typefaces will add interest to your flyer, but intentional design repetition will bring a sense of integrity and solidarity to your piece.

4. Cohesive Alignment

Choose one alignment for the entire flyer.

Don’t center the headline then set the body copy flush left. Don’t center everything on the page but also squish extra elements in the bottom corners. Be confident in your layouts: try all flush left or flush right. Your design should feel brave and bold!

5. Appropriate Content

What should you include in a flyer?

While brochures or foldable flyers come in a variety of formats, a basic rule of thumb is this: the “where” determines the “what.” The delivery of your publication has everything to do with its content. If your piece arrives in the mail to someone on your mailing list, you can include much more on it. If it is to been seen on a display board as people stroll by, your main feature must be readable at a glance.

Flyers are fun to create because they allow you to abandon restraint.

Your flyer will often go head-to-head with dozens of competing pages, so grab their attention and really go wild. Anything out of the ordinary will make people stop and look, and that is 90 percent of your goal.

Build a Culture of Success Through Kindness

_GettyImages-853185816.jpgStephen Cannon became president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz in 2012. Though he was convinced about the quality of his cars, he recognized the success of his brand was rooted in the kindness of his people.

Cannon understood that the company, the true essence of Mercedes-Benz, was embodied by the people who sold and serviced the cars, including how generously they behaved.

“Every encounter with the brand must be as extraordinary as the machine itself,” Cannon said.

Cannon believed almost every touchpoint of the brand involved a personal encounter with a human being in a dealership. Representatives could act in ways that were memorable and honoring, or repetitive and dismissive. This was a grand vision, but how could Cannon impart a culture of connection and compassion to 23,000 employees at dealerships nationwide?

“There is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary,” Cannon said. “The only way you get there is to educate people, excite them, incite them. Give them permission to rise to the occasion when the occasion to do something arises. This is not about following instructions. It’s about taking a leap of faith.”

Kindness is Contagious

In this leap of faith, Cannon challenged dealers and employees to perpetuate a grassroots movement that scattered kindness like a contagion.

This included spontaneous acts of generosity, like a dealer who noticed a buyer’s birthday on his closing documents and included a personalized cake when the customer came for the car. Or for a woman who panicked over a flat tire on the way to her son’s graduation. When mechanics could not locate a replacement tire for her model, the service manager jacked up the showroom model, removed one of its tires, and sent this mom on her way in a flash.

“We have so many stories like this,” Cannon says. “They’re about people going out of their way because they care enough to do something special.”

Beyond encouraging “extra mile” efforts, companies can build a culture of kindness in three areas:

Giving Back to the Community

Businesses that sponsor volunteer days enjoy team building, civic pride, and a more personal investment in their neighbors.

Today a growing number of companies participate in a one-for-one model: for every product sold, they give one matching item (or dollar amount) to a person in need. Or for every hour an employee volunteers, a matching dollar donation can be given as well. For example, Microsoft employees serving as Boy Scout leaders can simultaneously “bank” corporate dollars into scout scholarship accounts for those in need.

Offer Employee Autonomy

If you want generous employees, healthy working conditions are essential.

Younger people especially enjoy working for companies that allow flex scheduling, remote working options, or some ability to shape their physical environment. When employees feel empowered, they generate better results. When you convey a sense of trust in your employees, they’ll perform beyond expectations.

Build Personal Ownership

It is more natural for employees to show kindness if they are motivated by pride in what they do.

When Mercedes-Benz realized that nearly 70 percent of its front-line employees had never driven a car out of the dealership, the company put 800 new cars in the field, offering 48 hours of fun to each staff member. People drove their daughters for sweet 16 parties, chaperoned grandma on her 90th birthday, and snapped selfies to chronicle the adventure.

“The reactions were out of this world,” said general manager Harry Hynekamp said. “Sure, people got to know the cars very well. But the biggest piece was the pride piece.”

The Way I See It

kirkA wise woman was traveling in the mountains when she found a beautiful, rare sparkling stone in a stream. She was mesmerized by the stone’s beauty and put it in her bag for safe keeping.

The next day the wise woman met a traveler who looked hungry and down on his luck. The wise woman opened her bag to share her food and said the traveler could pick anything he wanted. The hungry traveler’s eyes got large as he saw the precious stone, and asked if he could have the stone instead. The woman agreed without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But it wasn’t long until the traveler came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

The traveler said, “I’ve been thinking… I know how valuable the stone is, but I want to give it back to you in hopes that you can give me something even more precious. Please give me whatever it is you have within you that enabled you to give me your most valuable possession.”

Here’s the way I see it: Pablo Picasso once said it best: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

How to Succeed in Remote Working Environments

GettyImages-494814218.jpgIn the past, ideas of “virtual work” might have included colleagues from a different country or visions of mysterious IT specialists who hacked your computer by day and only crept out at night.

Today, virtual work is woven into the fabric of our experience. Remote working is essentially using technology to conduct business, often with nearby colleagues. This may include:

  • Using e-mail or IM to conduct business with nearby colleagues (in your city or down your hallway)
  • Multi-site meetings involving video-conferencing or simulcast options
  • Flex-scheduling that allows employees to work part of the week from home

Virtual work is on the rise: a 2017 Gallup report found 43% percent of Americans work remotely to some degree. Fifty-six percent of software startups worldwide have outsourced their work (contributing to the demand for remote workers) and, according to research by Gartner, organizations that embrace remote working will increase employee retention rates by 10%.

While there are many advantages to enhanced technology, there are unique difficulties to overcome. Whether you’re keeping a team accountable or sharing instructions (but can’t point at someone’s computer screen over their shoulder), the demand for good communication has significantly increased!

Productive Virtual Relationships

What communication skills will you need to succeed in remote working relationships?

Whether you’re e-mailing your colleague across the table or uploading blueprints to a design specialist in another time zone, here are some guidelines to grow your skills:

Establish Rules of Engagement

When working face-to-face, the style of communication evolves naturally.

You don’t barge through a door when it is shut or get offended if someone pauses after you ask a question. But since we lose non-verbal cues in remote working, it’s important to establish connection guidelines. Your team should discuss what technology you will use, how often to correspond, and the preferred method of communication. If one person enjoys e-mail but another sends 10 texts per hour, tension can build quickly. A multi-tasking supervisor may prefer to connect once a day, while a project manager might want hourly updates. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask your team:

  •    What time of the day is best to catch you?
  •    What times are off limits?
  •    Is it ever ok to send a text message?
  •    What is the best way to share files?
  •    How should we connect offline if confusion arises?
  •    How will we eliminate lost or duplicated work?

Build Trust

Before starting a project, it’s important for colleagues to establish a foundation.

To build relational trust, have one face-to-face (or video-conference) meeting to gain confidence in each other. Include simple social elements (questions that are sincere but not overly personal), share some of your own interests and career aspirations, and let a friendship develop naturally.

When colleagues work remotely, they’re not as confident that you are looking out for their best interests. Seek to affirm good work or have a little fun, even just light-hearted online banter.

Demonstrate Competence

Take the initiative in giving regular progress updates, completing projects on time, or voicing questions and concerns before they spiral out of control.

Without nonverbal cues, silence can be damaging, so respond to e-mails quickly and honestly, even if you need more time to resolve an issue. Restate questions in your own words to ensure you are understanding any problems and be honest if you feel someone is hindering the workflow of your team.

Maintaining strong, productive virtual relationships takes extra tact and attention, but these contacts can lead to years of fruitfulness. Sow seeds of intentionality now and enjoy a high yield in years to come.

Office Printer Hacks

SAVE MONEY ON YOUR DAILY PRINT JOBS

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While we hope you look to us for all your professional printing needs, here are a few helpful tips to save money on your daily print jobs:

 

 

  • Choose your fonts wisely. According to data from Printer.com, different fonts use different amounts of ink to print. Here’s a tip: Century Gothic delivered a 31 percent savings in your inkjet and toner cartridge printing costs over Arial.
  • Print your documents in grayscale (black and white) to ensure your document is printed using the black cartridge only and not your color cartridges. Your document will print faster with nearly half the ink.
  • Always use print preview to save time and avoid annoying reprints. If you have issues with line breaks, page breaks, placement of graphics, etc., convert your document to a PDF file and print from Acrobat.
  • Change your default resolution setting. Most high-quality printers default to 600DPI or higher, which can waste a lot of ink. Lower your settings to save on ink and printing speed.
  • When you get a low toner alert, remove it and shake it over a garbage can to loosen up the powder and extend the life of your cartridge.
  • Beware of buying cheap bargain paper, which is often not cut evenly, and can cause printer jams and has a lot of dust which can build up and create issues with your printer.
  • Never let a printer (or ink cartridge) sit in a hot or cold car all day. If you must transport them long distances, take your ink cartridges out and store them in a sealed bag.
  • Clean and dust your printer often and keep out of direct sunlight. Also keep them away from heat sources like a furnace or radiator. You may also consider using a humidifier in the room with the printer if your home or office has low humidity.

If you let us help with your important printing projects, we’ll guarantee quality that is sure to make your office printer jealous.

 

 

Custom Printed Gift Tags

A GREAT ADDITION FOR ANY OCCASION

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While custom printed gift tags are most popular during the holiday season, they are a great addition for any occasion.

Gift tags can be a great way to offer a heartfelt thank you message or other greetings for special occasions, such as corporate anniversaries, birthdays, open houses, and other celebrations.

Gift tags can be designed as a hang tag that can be attached via ribbon or string, or a label that can be applied on your gift or card. Gift tags can be customized in any shape (including die-cut shapes) and colors, and can also feature unique finishes, such as an embossed logo or raised UV spot print.

If your organization would like help creating the perfect gift tag for an upcoming special occasion or event, give us a call today. And remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close!

Digital + Print = Success

A BLEND OF PRINT AND DIGITAL MARKETING

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If your business is struggling to find the perfect mix to stay in touch with your customers, you may want to consider a blend of print and digital marketing.

Chances are you are already using digital marketing to promote your business, whether it be your website, online ads, or social media. While digital media is essential, print is also a powerful marketing tool that is universal, credible, durable, and portable.

Many people still prefer looking at print materials at their leisure without being connected to a computer. The chances of a customer flipping through more pages in a print catalog are much higher than randomly clicking through various pages on your website, increasing exposure to a wider variety of products. In addition, print materials can easily be shared with others and offer an enduring message that can be seen again and again.

By joining your print and digital marketing efforts, you can create a powerful campaign that gets noticed and remembered. For example, your print marketing can direct traffic to your website, and your emails can remind customers to keep an eye out for a catalog or exclusive coupon in their mailbox. You can also use campaign hashtags on print to funnel traffic to social media.

If you’d like ideas or help to create the perfect print campaign to complement your digital efforts, our team would love to help! Stop by or give us a call today at 856.4290715.

A Guide to Embossing and Debossing

BE ‘BOSSY! STAND ABOVE THE REST

Beautiful paper and elaborate letterheads may entertain the eye, but they only operate on one dimension. If you’re looking for more depth and variety on your pages, consider embossing or debossing them.

Embossing a page involves putting focused pressure on a target area. It begins by printing ink onto the paper and then pressing the printed area with a die, causing the ink to protrude up from the page. Debossing is the same as embossing except that the die is pressed downwards, causing the image to recede rather than to rise up.

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Embossing and debossing can be performed on most types of paper and cardstock, but the thickness of the sheet determines how detailed the embossing job can be. Thinner sheets allow you to impress more detailed designs, but they also run the risk of breaking under the pressure of the die. On the other hand, thick sheets are unlikely to break, but they can only have simple designs printed on them.

Through embossing and debossing, you can differentiate the information on your documents, providing an alternative to the italics and bold print that most companies use to set words apart. By embossing certain words and giving them a special effect, you can guide your readers’ eyes towards the key information you want to stand out.

Besides ink, you can also emboss and deboss metallic foil into your documents, giving your pages a bright, colorful sheen that ordinary paper can’t offer. Foil embossing and debossing, also known as combination stamping, can be used to place emphasis on words, to create more varied illustrations, or simply to decorate the margins of the page.

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Another decorative option is blind embossing and debossing, which involves putting pressure on blank sections of paper. Whereas ink and foil methods call attention to the image they’re impressing, blind methods give your paper more subtle distinctions. If you want to include a corporate logo on your document, blind embossing is the method of choice, as it puts the image in your reader’s mind without seeming obvious or out of place. You can also use these methods to add a terrain to your paper, giving readers a more varied tactile experience than ordinary paper and cardstock can offer.

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Whether you seek to make your documents easier to understand, insert subtle information, or simply add beauty and distinction to your pages, embossing and debossing add a new range of ways to distinguish your prints. Give us a call today to discuss your next printing project at 856.429.0715.

The Fox Fable

kirkOne day, a hungry fox spotted a big bunch of grapes hanging from the vine of a tree. The grapes looked large and juicy, and the fox’s mouth watered as he gazed at the grapes.

The grapes were very high on the tree, so the fox had to jump for them. He made several attempts, and even backed way up and took a running leap at the grapes, only to fall short. He tried again and again until he was exhausted and disgusted. After working for hours to reach the unattainable grapes, the fox walked away scornfully, muttering to himself, “I don’t want them anyway… they’re probably sour.”

Here’s the way I see it: It’s easy to despise what you can’t have. If you need help creating the perfect print materials to outshine your competition, we’re here to help! Give us a call today at 856.429.0715

Gain the Mouth-Watering, Competitive Advantage

GettyImages-937862188.jpgIn 2011, Matt Salzberg was a restless associate at a Silicon Valley investment firm. He and his friend Ilia Papas wanted to create a business and were intrigued by food.

“We both loved food,” Salzberg said. “We liked trying new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, but we found it really inaccessible to cook at home. It was expensive, time-consuming and difficult to find recipes that we trusted.”

The duo tried a few ideas before landing on the one that became Blue Apron: give people an easy way to make dinner using chef-recommended recipes and the fresh, precisely measured ingredients they’d need. With 20 friends beta-testing the product, Salzberg immediately realized they had a winner. Beyond rave reviews and contagious social media sharing, they had undeniable momentum:

“Pretty much from day one we’ve had steady exponential customer growth. I think the moment we did our first week of deliveries we sort of knew that we had a business that we thought would be really successful.”

By August 2012 the team was shipping recipes to early testers, and three years later Blue Apron was delivering millions of meals to monthly subscribers, the company valued at a whopping $2 billion!

Find Your Competitive Advantage

Initially, some scoffed at the thought of paying restaurant prices for something you labored to cook at home.

But they overlooked Blue Apron’s unique advantage: appealing to “foodies” who loved high-end meals but relished the opportunity to cook them. Blue Apron found a niche in the market that catapulted them to exponential growth and national exposure.

Competitive advantage is that “special something” that draws customers and keeps them coming back.

Why do you buy a Ford versus Chevy? Why do you spend $80 on a certain brand of jeans? The answer lies in the competitive advantage, the unique set of features a product has that makes it superior in the eyes of a target audience.

Competitive advantages include niche strategies (like Blue Apron), cost advantages, and product or service differentiation. Consider these examples:

Cost Competitive Advantage

Companies can grab an edge when they control costs and efficiency in ways that create maximum value for consumers.

Walmart uses this advantage by providing a large selection combined with low prices through its retail size and strength. Some companies draw from years of experience, overseas production, or streamlined workflows to minimize expense.

As you brainstorm cost advantages for your customers, consider how you can improve productivity from your team, if your technology or equipment is cost-efficient or needs upgrading, or where you can give customers a cost break via delivery options, locked-in service rates, or freebies that come as a bonus for specific orders.

Product Differentiation

 

Another way to gain a competitive advantage is through product differentiation.

As you distinguish yourself in the marketplace, focus on the value you offer through your unique products. What makes your toothbrush one of a kind? How is your technology superior to other market options? How does your farmer’s market produce outclass the bounty of your competitors?

People love getting the best product for their penny, so work hard to highlight your advantage and shout it loud through print and digital pieces that spotlight your strengths.

Service Differentiation

While cost or product advantages can quickly disappear (or be duplicated), every company can offer one-of-a-kind service advantages.

Whether its bundled subscriptions, outstanding customer care, or unrivaled warranties, build a benefit that is exclusively yours. Consider bonus delivery features, apps that are user-friendly and easy to learn, terms that are simple and risk-free, or energizing ambiance (like funky décor or stellar store atmospheres). Make customers so spoiled they’d never consider your competitors!

Event Printing

MAKE A POSITIVE IMPRESSION AT YOUR NEXT EVENT.

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Here are a few creative yet affordable print marketing ideas to make a positive impression at your next event or trade show:

    • Conference and event booklets are a great way to provide a detailed schedule, information on keynote speakers, workshops, map, and more.
    • Posters and banners can be placed anywhere you want to grab attention.
    • Table tents are a creative way to turn any table or counter at your event into a marketing opportunity to promote your products and services.
    • Labels and stickers are a great conference giveaway and can enhance your marketing materials, add a distinctive finishing touch, and get your branding and messaging in front of your audience.
    • Conference journals or lined notepads are an ideal giveaway during conferences, seminars, and business meetings.
    • Presentation folders are perfect for organizing sales packets, business proposals, promotional materials, free samples, press kits, and more!
    • Flyers are a very flexible, cost-effective, and efficient way to promote an endless variety of products and services or educate your audience.
    • Membership directories are a favorite industry resource which also offers advertisers continuous exposure throughout the year.
    • Post-show mailers are a great way to follow-up after an event. Prepare your post-show mailer in advance, so it’s ready to go soon after the show is over and your business is still fresh in your attendee’s memories. By creating a similar look as your pre-show message and your booth materials, you can increase brand recognition.

Give us a call if we can help create the perfect print materials for your next event.

4 Print Marketing Trends to Inspire You in the Year to Come

GettyImages-144188300.jpgPrint marketing is compelling, memorable, and engaging.

As people touch, hold, and even smell paper, they respond in a profoundly personal way.

While digital communication is booming, this has only enhanced the unique voice that print brings for any business. Millennials and Gen Z are very difficult crowds to reach digitally, with 63 percent using AdBlocker and 82 percent ignoring online banner ads. This trend toward tactile is stirring potential for many exciting creative opportunities.

Today, we’ll highlight four print marketing trends from 2018 to inspire you in the year to come.

Simplicity

The world is filled with chaos, and fundamentally, viewers long for a return to simplicity.

Minimalist designs offer the respite people crave. Minimalist designs include images with a clear, elegant purpose, maximizing white space and using layouts that are clean and authentic. Uncluttered visuals bring an honest, compelling point into focus in a quick and arresting way.

For years, TBWA Paris has been on a mission to advertise McDonald’s in the most minimalist ways possible. This started in 2013 with extreme close-up photos of food and followed with computer-icon-style pictograms featuring McDonald’s menu items reduced down to very spare illustrations. Many of these ads used no branding whatsoever: the point was that the food was so recognizable it didn’t need a label.

By 2017, McDonald’s had the food disappearing altogether, featuring top sellers like fries, McNuggets, or Big Mac cartons that were completely empty (apart from a few crumbs), because the food had already been devoured by famished customers.

Effective? Absolutely. These simple ads bypass the brain and go straight to the stomach.

Personalized Print Pieces

Print is already a highly personal medium, but advances in technology allow businesses to enjoy increased access to personalized posters, flyers, direct mail, and more.

If you want to impress, try gathering online data about customer preferences and include that in print.

Branding even the simplest products has also allowed companies to gain a more personal touch. For example, a local auto garage printed customized labels for its water bottles and offered complimentary water to customers while they waited.

Color

If you’ve ever painted a room, you know the significance even a slightly darker hue can bring. Color experts Pantone released color trends for 2018 with this advice:

  • If you want to look resourceful, employ blue and orange hues
  • If you want a playful tone, choose yellow
  • If you’re looking for something discreet, try pink
  • If you want more sophistication, choose gold

What if you want to reach a diverse crowd?

According to Pantone, rosy tones bring a palette that “reaches out and embraces many different cultures.” Pantone said in 2018, print marketing was trending away from pastels and toward bright, bold colors:

“Intense colors seem to be a natural application of our intense lifestyles and thought processes these days.”

Storytelling

Storytelling is not just for YouTube.

Print that tells a story can alleviate suspicion and make instant connections, especially with younger audiences.

A Spanish lollipop grabbed this edge with its “ant aversion” ad for Chupa Chups lollipops. While normally a company might bore viewers with guilt trips for sugar-free products, Chupa Chups chose a “visual story” to make their point.

In the print ad, a sticky sucker had been discarded on a rock slab near the lawn. Meanwhile, a triple-wide line of ants detoured around the candy, heading toward the grass. The headline, “It’s Sugar Free,” brought a resounding finale to this playful story.

Chupa Chups reminds us that print is at its best when it is used as an art. Use vibrant colors, minimalist designs, and personalized print pieces to grab their attention and tell your story this year.

The Monkey and the Apple

kirkA happy, free-spirited monkey grew up in a beautiful jungle and enjoyed his time climbing trees, eating delicious fruit, and resting in the sunshine. One day he wandered to a nearby village and peeked in the window of a house. He noticed a bowl of shiny red apples sitting on a table, and couldn’t resist them. He grabbed one in each hand and ran back into the jungle. After catching his breath, he sniffed the apples but smelled nothing. He then tried to eat them, but they were hard and hurt his teeth. The apples were made of wood, but they still looked beautiful, so he kept them.

When the other monkeys in the jungle noticed his apples, he started avoiding his friends and held on to the apples even tighter. He proudly admired his new possessions as he wandered the jungle alone. He started to become hungry and came across ripe bananas, but he was too afraid to lose his valuable treasures that he couldn’t set them down to eat anything else. He became exhausted, hungry, lonely, and couldn’t climb trees or collect fruit with his hands full. After a few days, he finally dropped the wooden apples and reached for some fresh fruit, and he was happy to rejoin his friends again.

Here’s the way I see it: Sometimes we hold on to things that seem too valuable to let go. We become so focused on our image, pride, possessions, and wealth that we forget to enjoy the most important things in life: love, compassion, family, and friends. Let us know if we can help with your next printing project so you can focus on more important things in life.

7 Gifts that Delight (But Won’t Break the Bank)

Tis the season to be gifting!

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What is a gift? A gift is not comprised merely of what is given, but of the thoughtfulness or care that is behind it. A gift is appreciation on wheels.

December is a great time to show your appreciation. Whether it’s seasonal incentives, end of the year bonuses, or a just a friendly reminder that you care, here are seven unique (but inexpensive) gifts that your customers or employees will love:

Favorite Flavors

If you have a small staff or a handful of VIP clients, dig up info on the hobby or flavor of their choice (coffee, chocolate, classical guitar) and personalize a basket to their delight.

Or if you know your friends enjoy golf, assemble a kit including items like towels, ball markers, balls, and tees. Use a stylish bag that can clip easily onto their golf bag. Or assemble a sports tote full of goodies featuring a college or professional team of their choice.

Touchscreen Gloves

Gloves are both a necessity and a perk, especially in the touchscreen generation.

Cold weather commutes can be significantly brightened by cozy, oh-so-convenient touchscreen gloves. Your friends can text, browse online, or shuffle music while enjoying this thoughtful gift.

Cord Organizer

Nothing is more frustrating than a stuck zipper. Or a knotted shoe.

Scratch that: nothing is worse than tangled earbuds that take forever to unwind! A branded cord organizer can keep their earbuds (and their sanity!) intact. Choose from a range of colors or upgrade with a set of customized earbuds as well.

Charity of Choice

They say people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Offer a gift that’s close to their heart! Ask what your client’s most cherished organization or non-profit is, and make a financial gift to this organization on their behalf.

Portable Power Bank

Today’s generation is on the run constantly.

Portable power banks allow users to store electrical energy and use it later, charging almost any USB connectable device (cameras, phones, portable speakers, tablets, and more). Great for airports, commuting, or hours “off the grid,” power banks are truly a gift that keeps on giving!

Bubble Umbrellas

Whether you walk to work or enjoy singing in the rain, bubble umbrellas are just plain fun!

Give a unique umbrella to protect your friends from rain and wind, covering their face but allowing them to see clearly as they stroll.

Coupon of the Month Club

Want to offer a unique twist this year?

Buy 12 gift card sleeves and label them with the months of the year. Whether you print custom coupons for your business or purchase a variety of gift cards from the community, there is no end to your creative options.

If you are gifting employees, consider paring coffee or restaurant gift cards with workday incentives (i.e. redeem for a half day off work one Friday this month, enjoy in-office chair massages on a staff reward day of the boss’s choice). Recipients can decide whether they’ll open all 12 envelopes immediately or enjoy a surprise per month in 2019.

Smartphone Tricks

TRICKS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR PHONE.

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Here are a few useful things you can do with your smartphone:

    • iPhone users can download the Night Eyes Lite – Night Camera to turn your phone’s camera into night vision goggles to help you see in the dark.
    • Android users can use the Gmote app to avoid storage issues by streaming music from your PC to your phone using Wi-Fi and the app.
    • You can turn your smartphone into a remote desktop device by installing VNC Viewer Remote Desktop from Google Play on your phone and the computer you want to have access to. You can reach any Mac, Windows, or Linux device and use your phone to control the mouse and keyboard.
    • iPhone or Android users can download the Bubble Level app for an easy-to-use level for hanging photos.
    • iPhone users can use the buttons on your headphones to take pictures (they should be standard wired headphones with actual buttons and not sliders). Just tap the volume up button to take pictures.
    • Use the TimeLapse app for iPhone or Lapse It for Android to create amazing time-lapse videos without buying expensive, high-tech equipment.
    • Android users can use the Google Lens app to get information on photos, your surroundings, and image searches. To access the feature on your iOS device, launch the Google Photos app, select a photo, then tap on the Google Lens icon.
    • iPhone 8.0 (and later) users can use Surveillance App to turn your smartphone into a wireless surveillance CCTV system. Simply buy a cheap, off-contract phone, connect to Wi-Fi, and plug it in, so it doesn’t die. You can set up both video and sound alerts that allow the device to notify you and start streaming video to your guardian phone if there is any motion or noise near the surveying phone.

If you need fun tips for your next important printing project, our team of experts is full of creative print tips and ideas and would love to help! Call us today at 856-429-0715!

Employ Printed QR Codes for a Rapid Response

YOUR SECRET CODE FOR SALES

Not long ago, scanning books or groceries using a rectangle barcode seemed quite novel. It was fast, convenient, and just a little fun. But as society’s pace accelerated, so did our need to read barcodes efficiently. In 1994, Japanese auto-makers adopted “Quick Read” QR codes (square matrix barcodes that could be scanned from any direction) that stored a hundred times more information than conventional barcodes.

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QR codes have a unique look, encouraging customers to get involved by scanning the code and following the “digital scavenger hunt” you’ve created to lead them to a URL for your website, social media page, or to retrieve personalized communication from you (like texts or e-mails). QR codes are a fantastic advertising strategy as they allow users to engage with a brand in convenient, personalized ways. QR codes increase conversion rates while coaxing prospects further down the sales funnel effortlessly.

Use InDesign to Create and Modify Your Own QR Codes

Did you know you can use InDesign to create and modify your own QR code? InDesign treats QR codes as graphics, so you can scale and modify them like other artwork in your documents.

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Follow these simple steps to add a QR code to your designs:

  1. Click and drag the Rectangle Frame tool on the page to create an empty frame.
  2. With this frame selected, choose Object/Generate QR Code.
  3. Select what type of data to encode using the Type menu. The content area below this menu will allow you to choose a web URL, plain text, a text message or e-mail option, or even a business card. Enter your preference and continue the corresponding steps to enter appropriate data.
  4. Click the Color tab and choose a color swatch. You can modify the color by changing the “Fill and Stroke” attributes or leave your QR code black and white.
  5. Click OK for your code to be added to the selected frame.

Bridge the Gap Between Print & Digital

Nielson found about 56% of consumers rely on printed materials for sales information, specifically when seeking information on a purchasing decision. Print is seen as a concrete, reliable source, especially for prospects nearing a decision.

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By including QR codes in print marketing, you increase the potential for landing a valuable client. Consider using QR codes for:

  • Product packaging, invoice stuffers
  • Printed menus, business cards, or rack cards
  • Store promotions with discounts available at checkout
  • Promotional games, puzzles, or scavenger hunts
  • Stickers for merchandise, packaging, displays, or cards

Print is naturally viewed as informative and trustworthy, and QR codes are a perfect tool to bridge the gap between your print and online media!

 

Connection Cards

A CREATIVE WAY TO CONNECT WITH VISITORS

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Connection cards are an excellent tool for those who are looking for a creative way to connect with visitors.

Many churches and other organizations are challenged with attracting new visitors. Once new visitors come through your doors, it’s important to capture their information so you can thank them for coming and stay in touch.

When creating a connection card, beware of asking for too much information. Also, be sure to ask the visitor their preferred communication method. For example, an older audience may prefer direct mail or phone calls, whereas millennials would prefer text messages, email, or social media communication.

When encouraging new visitors to complete your connection card, it’s essential to communicate clearly. For example, instead of asking visitors to “fill out a connection card” – which they may not understand, you can simply ask them to “fill out a yellow card,” which eliminates confusion.

Connection cards can be a tremendous welcoming tool that shows your audience that their visit is appreciated and you look forward to seeing them again. You can also show off your organization’s personality in your verbiage and card design. If you’d like help creating a connection card your visitors will enjoy, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!