Add Color and Charm with 3 Unique Banner Options

Vertical banner designAs a small business owner, you need ways to cultivate curiosity and look your best, and business signage is your foremost advertising tool.

Grab attention and set your business apart with gorgeous custom banners!

Banners are an inexpensive substitute for a permanent sign, allowing you the flexibility to change and move your materials as needed. Plus, banners are eye-catching, sophisticated, and fun.

Distinct Banner Options to Get All Eyes on You

Whether you want to highlight a promotion, organize your sales floor, or increase foot traffic at a trade show, consider some of these imaginative banner options for your next display.

1. Pole Banners

Pole Banners are vertical banners made from sturdy vinyl material and can affix to almost any type of light pole, street post, or sidewall mounting.

Pole banner advertising offers an excellent medium to market to pedestrians or drivers in locations with heavy traffic. Because they are located at or above eye level, they are easily noticed from a distance and offer an excellent way to strengthen your brand.

Use pole banners to display school colors, mount core values in your department, or promote community events. Enjoy easy, breezy visibility with this durable, colorful signage.

2. Tabletop Banners

Think banners have to be huge to be effective? Think again!

Tabletop banners are a compact, portable option that can easily travel with you to any trade show or event. With retractable stands included, tabletop banners stretch anywhere from eight to 17 inches in height, which is perfectly formatted to dress up any presentation with minimal hassle. Use them for conventions, boutiques, banks, restaurant tables, point-of-purchase displays, and more. Though small, tabletop banners can make a big impact for your business!

3. Step and Repeat Banners

Looking for a fun way to build a social media presence for your business?

Try step and repeat banners and offer people a creative photo op they can hashtag!

Step and repeat banners are a publicity backdrop used primarily for event photography. They are printed with a repeating pattern or branding design that makes its design very visible in the photographs of the individuals standing in front of it. From red carpet events and concerts to galas and company parties, step and repeat banners give a “celebrity-like” experience for your guests to engage with.

For every picture taken in front of the banner, you can count on more people to see your logo once the photos are released to the press and social media. This builds word-of-mouth marketing and spreads your image far and wide!

Flex Some Marketing Muscle with Extraordinary Custom Banners

Whether you go big and beautiful or nifty and portable, banners are a superb marketing tool that can help attract more customers to your business.

Want to talk options? No matter the display size or budget, we’ll help you find the perfect banner for your business. Contact us today about promoting your business professionally and elegantly, so you stand out!

The Power of One

I came across this inspirational message and thought you would also enjoy it:

One tree can start a forest,
One smile can begin a friendship,
One hand can lift a soul,
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One act can inspire a movement,
One candle can wipe out darkness,
One laugh can conquer gloom,
One hope can raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care,
One voice can wake up everybody,
One person can make the difference.
Be that one today.

Here’s the way I see it: Gavin Armstrong said it best, “I’m a big believer in the power of one, that one person, one action, can have a ripple effect that can make a difference.”

Design Trends to Look Forward to in 2020

2019 was a year where taking risks in design was considered normal.

2020 trend concept. Hand flip wood cube change year 2019 to 2020

What design trends can you look forward to this year? As we round the corner into a new decade, we may see a softening of some of 2019’s more abrasive trends and a shift toward simplified contrasts when designers want to be bold.

Here’s a sneak peek at five design trends to watch for in 2020:

1. Beautiful Flowing Shapes & Lines

The last few years have brought an abundance of geometric, rigid, proper shapes.

In the new year, these designs will be replaced by more flowing shapes, patterns, and lines. Flowing shapes can convey a natural, abstract, peaceful feel on a page. Whether you use a soft speech bubble to surround text or place images overflowing water or lava currents in your backgrounds, this shift toward flowing lines brings a down-to-earth, creative, and authentic tone.

2. Neutral, Natural-Looking Stock Photos

Several years ago, bright, colorful stock images were all the rage.

Graphic artists were boosting saturating and enriching color contrasts, to the point that some photos didn’t even look real. But as color trends have relaxed, audiences are embracing more muted palates, colors similar to what you might find in a soft sunset, a misty morning, or the corner of a woodworker’s craft shop.

As stock photos follow, this year, you can expect to see more muted, genuine, and neutral stock photos. This includes a focus on candid faces, shadowed silhouettes, and seemingly unfiltered photos. A step back from air-brushed perfection, look to use stock photos that seem more reserved, harmonious, and real.

3. Textured Bevels and Chisels

While designers seek to bring a more authentic vibe in 2020, one way they can do this is through texture.

By creating 3-D forms like buttons, icons, or coins, bevels and chisels create a 3-D effect on a 2-D (flat) surface. Typically, this is done with tight layering, shadowing, and some degree of opacity. Look for beveled knock-offs of real-life objects. The result will be a flat image that looks tantalizingly real enough to touch.

4. Creative Typography

Creativity is just not limited to vibrant designs and unusual color combinations.

Font choices also play a prominent role in the tone and personality of every design.

Whether it is a paper coffee cup, a wild banner, or a funky poster, sometimes creative typography is all it takes to drive home your message. And while typography can stand alone as its own design (like this), it can also be woven into the image itself to give unique expression to the artwork (like this). With great font selection, sometimes the words are the graphic, and just a small amount of creativity can truly spice up the project.

5. Bold, Clean Colors

Finally, with a move toward expediency, simple, bold colors are taking the stage once again.

We’re not talking about 80’s neon vaporwave, but dreamy, vibrant, full colors like enchanting blues, tomato reds, and radiating purples. Colors are a key driver of attractive designs, and 2020 will see an emphasis on gradient blends replaced with things like filled color canvases with no white space between hues.

As you play with bold shades in your graphics, avoid using too many bright colors that make designs hard to read. Instead, use bright, energetic colors with simple, clean design to create contrast.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Ready to kickstart the year with a new style?

To do so, it’s helpful to reflect on the past and decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Stay ahead of the curve with these design trends and let us know if we can help you infuse your designs with a fresh look in the months to come!

4 Small Adjustments that Bring 5-Star Customer Service

Feedback and rating conceptDid you know it only takes seven seconds to make a lasting impression on new people that you meet?

If this is true in personal relationships, how significant are the impressions your business makes with customers? Great entrepreneurs know that if you want long-lasting, loyal clients (who spend AND who voluntarily advertise your excellent service by word of mouth), then you must prioritize customer relationships and consistently offer superior service.

Going From Good to Great

What does five-star service look like from a patron’s perspective?

Here is a snapshot of where a business moves from average to above-average:

3 — Service is average, fair, “the usual” satisfactory, expected, etc.

4 — Customer is very satisfied. Service is average, above average, exceeded expectations, etc.

5 — The client is delighted and amazed. Service is extraordinary because employees “walk on water” for customers.

To elevate your customer experience, you have to be proactive, not reactive. Five-star customer service gives extra attention to the smallest of details and does this with an authentic care for each individual you serve.

Here are four areas of focus to grow a culture of excellent service in your team:

1. Be Visible

Whether you respond to clients through e-mail, phone, or live service, be accessible and prompt in every response.

Let clients know they can always reach out to you and where you can be reached if they need anything. Never break communication – whether clients are pleased, waiting, or upset, don’t leave any attempt to communicate unanswered. Acknowledge the feelings behind the communication, and – in difficult situations – offer creative customer reparations (refunds, replacements, bonus items, etc.) if possible.

2. Anticipate Unexpressed Needs

Five-star service providers seek to surprise and delight their clients.

Here employees deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. When you check in with a client, what do you expect they MIGHT need (i.e., help navigating your new software)? Can you have the solution ready before they ask (i.e., a tutorial video attached to your check-in e-mail)? Seek to bring solutions, even if the client is at fault, and your business will be more memorable and responsive.

Anticipating needs is a way you tangibly care for people, and when you do this, it touches emotions. One general manager with five-star hotel experience put it perfectly:

“It is the small, simple, special moments that we create through personal engagement with each guest that they will recall when they return home. To accomplish this type of sustainability, we carefully and methodically select our employees, and then continuously train. It’s not about the tactical as much as it is about speaking the language of the guest.”

3. Train Your Team to Employ Creative Problem-Solving Skills

Five-star service includes the ability to think outside the box and create unique solutions to problems.

Customer service is primarily about problem-solving, so train your team to embrace problems rather than dreading them, and you will shift the culture in your business. A great team member isn’t afraid to come up with creative solutions. Give them the authority to do this and see what happens!

Publicly commend employees who do, and you’ll reinforce this attitude for everyone.

4. Use the Feedback You Receive

Five-star teams are never satisfied with the status quo.

Teams that excel in service are ruthless about gathering feedback and doing something with it. Do you collect customer comments? If so, how do you review it and identify areas for improvement? Companies that make specific changes in response to feedback are strategic, dynamic, and are genuinely customer-focused.

Build “Every Day” Excellence

Excellent service is something that happens consistently, so challenge your team to create memorable experiences that are repeatable every day.

Be visible, creative, and proactive, and challenge everyone on your team to take ownership as they follow through on guest requests every time.

Build a Lasting Legacy Through Thought Leadership in Your Industry

GettyImages-1090216744.jpgLooking to increase your strategic visibility, gain exposure for your ideas, and change the world in meaningful ways?

Everyone is following someone. Maybe it’s time to engage others, so they follow you!

Facebook GROWs with Print

What does thought leadership look like from an industry perspective? Here’s one example:

In 2018, Facebook launched a thought leadership campaign (GROW) to help leaders grow businesses and networks while challenging the status quo. To communicate complex ideas, the social media empire developed a quarterly print magazine and marketing program aimed at business owners in the United Kingdom and Northern Europe. GROW is sent directly to marketing clients and distributed at select airports and train business lounges to reach top professionals:

“We know that business leaders have limited time for long reads at work, so we’ve also created a physical version with journeys in mind,” said Leila Woodington, Facebook’s head of business marketing in northern Europe.

Facebook’s goal is to position itself as a dominant thought leader among corporate executives or government leaders to grow marketing influence. Facebook understands that combining hard-hitting print with a steady drip of digital content is an especially effective strategy.

People Influencing People

The term “thought leader” is more than a buzzword; it’s a dynamic reality.

People influence people, and thought leaders are those that others respect and follow. Do you want to shape trends, spark movements, or voice unique ideas? Informed individuals can add tremendous value to their field of expertise!

Your ability to shape perspectives will grow as you show yourself to be relatable, engaging, and consistent in three specific ways:

1. Building Connections

Build your engagement quality by cultivating regular contact with close friends and family, with current and former colleagues, or with analysts, writers, or industry leaders.

Engage and follow others through face-to-face networking, regional training opportunities, social media, or online discussion groups. Gain traction as you contribute, follow, share, or add your own commentary to material relevant to your industry. And – as often as you can – share your picture with printed pieces or online content. Matching a face with your voice makes you more memorable, credible, and real.

2. Growing Your Name and Niche

Thought leaders are people who fully immerse themselves in the needs and concerns of their audience. ­­

To stand out from the crowd, concentrate on a niche market or seek to communicate with a specialized group of people. Write, speak, share, and comment on the things most relevant to this area. Think of yourself as a translator (explaining the concerns at hand and interpreting their meaning) or a tour guide (predicting trends, forecasting effects, or helping people interpret what they see). Here you’ll maximize impact, giving people “Aha” moments, or making them think, “Wow, I never thought of it like that!”

Grow your influence by writing articles for publications, requesting to share on panels or policy boards, publishing via social media and printed newsletters, or inquiring about opportunities to speak at events.

Once you establish credibility, you’ll naturally become part of bigger and better opportunities.

3. Educating and Empowering Others

Leaders who inspire loyalty are those who empower others.

Thought leaders don’t just impress people by how “smart” they are – they teach others to produce fruitful results as well. Your focus may be building educational tools, helping people with decision making, or establishing yourself as a one-stop resource with scalable models that bring answers people need.

As you grow your influence, you will advance your career, access new industry opportunities, and create top-of-mind awareness for your business.

How Successful Entrepreneurs Overcome Self-Doubt Each Day

GettyImages-1190572650.jpgDiane von Furstenberg is a Belgian fashion designer who has built her namesake company into one of the most recognizable in the world.

Furstenberg has been listed as the world’s 68th most powerful, received an honorary doctorate, and been president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America for years.

Confidence should come easily to someone like this, wouldn’t you think?

But Furstenberg does not see herself this simply. She believes she’s a constant work in progress and says successful people (like herself) probably feel like losers at least once a week.

Furstenberg said she feels self-doubt continually. What does that look like in her life?

“Oh, just, you know. You feel like a loser, you wake up and you doubt. So my trick is, I look in the mirror and say, “If you doubt your power, then you give power to your doubts.”

Squash Doubt to Bring Your Best Work to Life

Can you relate to Furstenberg?

You’re not alone. Even successful business owners grapple with self-doubt. Sometimes this can be a good thing, keeping you humble and helping you soberly evaluate limitations.

But for the most part, self-doubt is a form of sabotage that keeps you from fulfilling your potential. Successful people aren’t immune to uncertainty, but they refuse to let it derail their goals. Want to overcome doubt and achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish?

Here are several ways to combat that accusing voice:

1. Stop and Reset

When inner doubts creep in, deal with them immediately.

Don’t let paranoia spin out of control or imagine worst-case scenarios. Talk back to that doubtful voice with phrases like these:

“No. Stop. I’m not listening to this.”

 “I know where this train of thought leads, and I’m not getting on!”

“I’ve been successful in the past, and I will be again.”

As Steven Pressfield says in Do The Work! Overcome Resistance And Get Out Of Your Own Way,

“The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”

2. Deal with Anxiety Triggers

One way to squash doubt is to deal with it straight on.

What personal deficits or situations trigger your insecurity? If it’s a lack of skill, seek specific training. If it’s uncertainty about a decision, get counsel from other experts in your field. If it’s fear of the unknown, find coaches or mentors to walk you through this stage of uncertainty.

3. Avoid Comparisons

If you compare yourself to others, you will usually lose.

In today’s connected generation, usually your perspective of others is only the highlight reel, and certainly not the struggle or discipline it took to build success. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to YOU. Look at how far you’ve come, the progress you’ve made toward current goals, or how you’ve overcome obstacles in spite of hardship.

4. Don’t Depend on Validation

While the input of others can be helpful, confident leaders trust their own instincts.

We all like a pat on the back, but in seeking continual validation, you erode vision and weaken faith in yourself. When tackling a big project, get input initially, then trust your gut and make decisions that feel right to you.

Move Forward With Confidence

Having confidence in yourself is the best way to sharpen your unique voice.

Say no to accusation, confront anxiety triggers, and avoid putting too much weight in others’ opinions. Overpower doubt so you can maximize your potential.

The Way I See It

kirkHere is one of my favorite poems, “Don’t Quit” by John Greenleaf Whittier. Whether this is the first or fiftieth time you’ve read this, it’s a good reminder for all of us:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Here’s the way I see it: The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places. Pull over to rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

How Innovative Print Partnerships Save You Time and Money

GettyImages-922780438.jpgAlmost every business needs paper products (like brochures, letterhead, and large-scale marketing) to build and strengthen their brand.

Between graphic design, production presets, and regular re-orders, keeping things organized can be a challenge. Consistently partnering with the same printer can make things much more efficient and convenient.

Creative, Collaborative Marketing

Since each company has its own unique needs, a professional printer can work with you on an individual basis to design and print materials that are just right for your business.

Beyond commercial printing, today’s print professionals can make a huge difference through graphic design services, brand building creative elements (like logo and packaging design options), or through securing “extra” promotional products (like magnets, notebooks, or water bottles). Innovative printers serve as true marketing partners, often costing less than you would pay to individually produce or order these items yourself.

Most businesses don’t have the capacity to produce and develop high-quality marketing on their own, so it is vital to consider a collaborative partnership with a print and design company. A professional printer can easily adapt your designs or logos to work for professional booklets and brochures, banners and flags, letterhead and business cards, presentation folders and flyers, and more.

And craftsmanship is paramount in printing, which ensures your projects receive meticulous attention to detail, seamless color matching, and superior finishes. Collaborative printers stand behind their products as they combine an experienced eye, a skillful touch, and unrivaled personal service.

Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Professional Print Partnership

To be successful with graphic print production you need a close working relationship with a quality provider. How do you find the right printer? Here are six questions to consider:

1. What Level of Competence and Quality is Needed?

Competence and quality are often the most important factors in weighing commercial print options.

Although it can be difficult to evaluate skill levels before you’ve worked with someone, there are several indicators to look for. Request to see samples of jobs done for other customers. Inquire about areas of specialization and if bundled pricing or services are included. Also, ask your printer what work steps they see as critical for obtaining good results. If you know in advance how they prefer to manage projects, it helps ensure good workflow and communication along the way.

2. Does This Printer Have a Large Personnel or Production Capacity?

How large is the printing staff? If you need substantial output in a short time, does the printer have the equipment or workforce to handle this?

3. How Will We Optimize Communication?

Is there a key contact person you will always correspond with? What is the preferred method of communication?

4. Does This Printer Offer Concrete Delivery Times or Guarantees?

How dependable is the printer and how quickly can projects be delivered? Is there a timeframe guarantee?

5. What is the Level of Environmental Consciousness?

Is your printer committed to eco-friendly standards or procedures? Some companies may have special requirements in regard to environmental impact issues, and this may influence the printing practices they are able to approve.

6. Are Proximity and Availability Important to Me?

How geographically close do you want your printer to be? If high-quality service and fast delivery times are important, proximity may be more of an issue.

A Wise Long-Term Investment

Your time is valuable, so making wise choices is of utmost importance. Taking time to enter a print partnership that maximizes your investment is well worth your consideration. Often, choosing the right printer means you are beginning a relationship that will last for years.

How Re-Purposed Malls Can Teach Entrepreneurs a Lesson

Have you been to a dying mall lately?

interior of modern hallway

It can be pretty depressing. Empty storefronts litter the hallways like missing teeth in a hockey player’s mouth. Dim lighting seems to permeate each corner, and mall walkers bring more energy than any hint of retail activity. What was booming 30 years ago now feels like a bust.

With consumers shifting more of their shopping from physical to online spaces, young generations have a different perspective on what a buying experience should bring. This explains why some malls are dying, while others are thriving. What’s the difference?

In Maryland, one mall is renting space to a theater company while, in Michigan, one mall is now home to a cultural association that sponsors Chinese festivals. Some malls have transformed parts of their space to offer thriving art schools for walk-in shoppers. Others have created customer-centric experiences, like combining fashion consultants with on-site purchasing options.

Like most other sales venues, there is still a future for brick-and-mortar businesses. But this requires companies to sell strategically to young generations through methods that resonate.

What lessons can we learn from our friends in the mall?

Engaging, Experiential Shopping

There are numerous definitions of experiential purchasing.

Generally, this idea refers to stores where “extra” things happen in addition to selling, and where shoppers do more than just buying. As an entrepreneur, how can you offer people a chance to buy an experience or a memory rather than just an object or service? This may include massage chairs at the gym, in-store skills classes, or lifestyle opportunities (like art galleries in malls) that can be combined with a shopping experience.

Added Online Convenience

If you want people to visit your business, can you ease their journey by adding online convenience?

Like store pickups for pre-ordered groceries, merchants that simplify the purchasing experience will have more success. One business took orders for online samples then had three options ready and waiting when the customer came to preview them in the store.

Digital Campaigns with On-Site Flash Sales

One benefit of physical stores is strengthening emotional connections between consumers and brands.

While it is nice to order things online, sometimes swooping in to nab a deal brings a huge adrenaline rush (think Black Friday!). Can your business combine timely print or digital ads to promote 24-hour flash sales on the hottest items in your store? This creates the opportunity to lock in a client while potentially up-selling other products when people visit in person.

Lively, Professional Environments

People don’t just crave convenience; they crave connections.

When asked why people choose physical stores over online retailers, the number one response was a “need to see, touch, feel, and try out items.” How can you offer people better opportunities to interact directly with your products? When you do this, the physical shopping experience provides a tactile experience that simply can’t be matched online.

Your displays are a huge part of this. From oversized banners and full-panel window displays to music, lighting, and even scents, the environment you create must be better than ever. And with today’s print and digital technology, everything can be customized to immerse your clients in the most authentic brand experience possible!

The Definition of Success

While online shopping has re-written the rules of purchasing, buyers still crave experiences that can only be delivered in person. Remember, a successful space is one that people want to visit, so give people a reason to be there.

When they’re spending their time somewhere, they’re more likely to spend their money as well.

Custom Dividers

AN EASY AND FUN ORGANIZE YOUR IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

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Whether you prefer three-ring binders, boxes, or folders, index tab dividers and cut sheets offer an easy and fun way to organize your important documents.

While many people are familiar with index tab dividers, cut sheets are a similar variation without the tab extension. Cut sheets make it easy to navigate through your documents and are used just like tab dividers to separate the different sections of your content.

Tab dividers and cut sheets are a great way to introduce and provide an overview for each section of content. They are a popular addition for product catalogs, instruction manuals, employee handbooks, and medical guides.

Tab dividers and cut sheets can be printed on both sides, and have many customization options, such as three-hold drilling, lamination and custom finishes, metallic ink, embossing, and much more. They are a professional way to boost the organization of your documents.

If you’d like to learn more about custom divider options or need a quote, our team is here to help! Remember, other printers may be nearby, but no one comes close. Visit us today at http://www.sjprinter.com or our amazon store: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sjprinter&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

Social Media Dimensions

DIMENSIONS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN POSTING SOCIAL CONTENT

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It can be challenging to remember the correct image sizes for each social platform. Here are a few popular dimensions to keep in mind when posting social content:

Facebook

    • Profile photo: 180 x 180 px
    • Cover photo: 820 x 312 px
    • Shared image: 1200 x 630 px (Note: these are the images that appear in your timeline and news feeds)
    • Event image: 1920 x 1080 px

Twitter

    • Profile photo: 400 x 400 px
    • Header photo: 1500 x 500 px
    • In-stream photo: 440 x 220 px (Note: these photos will appear in your followers’ streams and the streams of their followers, if retweeted).

Instagram

    • Profile photo: 110 x 110 px
    • Photo thumbnails: 161 x 161 px
    • Photo size: 1080 x 1080 px

 

LinkedIn

    • Personal profile image: 400 x 400 px
    • Personal background image: 1584 x 396 px
    • Company logo: 300 x 300 px
    • Company cover Image: 1536 x 768 px
    • Shared image: 1104 x 736 px

If your business would like help promoting your brand in print, remember our creative experts are here to help! Give us a call today at 856.429.0715

Ensure Staying Power for Your Business with Great Local Marketing

GettyImages-1145054296.jpgEarlier this year, Gerrit Curran and Emily Wessner opened a Jersey Mike’s Subs in Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania.

To gain traction in their township of 20,000, these entrepreneurs knew that their new business must be intricately tied to a community connection. Curran and Wessner chose to use print as their primary marketing channel. The Jersey Mike’s staff distributed nearly 7,500 sandwich coupons throughout the community, encouraging patrons to enjoy a free sub and also to donate the cost of that sandwich to the Muhlenberg Township Athletic Association.

In the end, the promotion helped raise over $15,000, and the franchise gained an admirable reputation as a devoted community partner.

Stand Out in Your Community

Print marketing can be especially effective in creating a local marketing presence, especially when combined with integrated campaign efforts.

Smart business owners know that catering to a local market can be a point of power. But how do you leverage this connection? Here are several ways to connect your on- and off-line presence in compelling ways.

Demonstrate Community Connection

Integrate your business into local festivals, sponsorship opportunities, and regional traditions.

Does your community host a lobster festival? Find fun ways to weave this crustacean into your flyers or sales. Share pictures or postcards about your brand participating in local fundraisers, theme weeks, or service drives. Start conversations on things that are happening locally and, whenever possible, relate them to your business.

Personalize Advertisements

When advertising for your business, highlight testimonies or quotes from real, local customers. Try before and after pictures, photos of your customers in well-loved parks, or advertisements featuring your content in front of an area mascot.

Another option is to tailor your ads to regional events. Is your city sponsoring a music festival? Offer helpful content like advice on cheap parking, a schedule of places where kids eat for a discount, or print coupons that correspond to a felt need of these visitors. Creating ads with local content will connect with your audience on a very personal level.

Invent Reasons to Make a Difference

Too often, organizations focus on community involvement with a selfish perspective: more profits, more marketing, etc.

Instead, take a “community in the front, business in the rear” approach. Whether you build a nature center with other businesses or create a contest for local charities, genuinely help people, and the benefits will follow. Plus, employees and volunteers will love submitting their photos to your company newsletter or your social media pages.

Tell Your Story

If you’re from the area you’re targeting, do your best to tell the story of how your business came to life.

Make a video, print inserts for your bags or envelopes, or have a brand story display onsite. Customers love to support local businesses, especially those founded or run by a hard-working local resident.

Find, Engage, Repeat

While your brand may serve customers beyond your region, an enormous 85% of business owners depend on word-of-mouth referrals, so it is vital to actively influence your friends and neighbors!

When satisfied local customers are committed to your success, your business can do more with less while continuing to succeed.

Need help giving your brand an extra boost in the community? We’d be happy to help with your local marketing needs. Contact us today to find out more!

The Triple Filter Test

kirkAncient folklore says that Socrates was visited by an acquaintance who was eager to share some juicy gossip about another friend. Before the man was able to share his news, Socrates asked if the news could pass the “Triple Filter Test.”

Socrates then explained, “The first filter is truth. Have you made sure what you’re about to say is true?” The man shook his head and said, “No, I just heard about it and…”

Socrates cut him off, and said, “If you don’t know that the news is true, then is it good or kind?” Again the man shook his head and said, “No, actually it’s the opposite. You see…”

Socrates cut him off again and said, “So you aren’t sure if it’s true, and it isn’t good or kind. One filter remains – is this information useful or necessary to me?” The man was a little defeated and said, “No, not really.” And Socrates said, “Well, if what you want to say is neither true, nor good or kind, nor useful or necessary, please don’t say anything at all.”

Here’s the way I see it: Imagine how different the world would be if we only chose to share or listen to information that was true, good, or useful. Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

How This Successful Entrepreneur Keeps Inspiration Flowing

When you were a kid, what did you love to build?

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When Frank Yang was eight, he dreamed of building all kinds of things. One of his first creative concepts was a dog food dispenser with a timer that could feed house pets on demand. Yang used to tell people he wanted to be an inventor, but the adults in his life said he should be an accountant or an attorney instead.

Today, Yang is the founder and CEO of Simplehuman, a privately-owned company that designs and manufactures kitchen, bath, and beauty tools. Simplehuman is devoted to finding ways to streamline daily tasks for efficient living, including touch-free soap pumps, sensor-activated vanity mirrors, and automated trash cans.

Last year Yang’s love for building practical “problem solvers” grew Simplehuman’s revenues by $15% to more than $200 million. Yang says he continues to find joy in the dreaming:

“Even though I’m the CEO of Simplehuman, I spend about 60% of my time on [Research and Development], because that’s what I love – I think about it all day,” said Yang.

Maximize Mental Energy Through Your Weekly Routine

What fuels your inspiration?

Though your job may be full of many “ordinary” tasks, how can you keep creativity alive each day?

Some experts believe grounding yourself in daily rituals can be a foundation for success. In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey writes about the habits, routines, and rituals of hundreds of artists, including Frederic Chopin, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, and Ernest Hemingway. Even though their routines varied wildly, each individual had steps they followed to put them in an optimal state of mind. Currey came to this conclusion:

“In the right hands, [a routine] can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.”

Rituals you might include to fuel your creativity could consist of things like:

  • Rising early
  • Making coffee or making your bed
  • Morning runs or daily stretching
  • Prayer, breathing exercises, personal affirmations, or journaling
  • Lunchtime yoga or sports commitments
  • 10 minutes of browsing Pinterest or your favorite design publications
  • Accessible scratch pads in your car, office, or house (for random idea bursts)
  • Regular times spent visualizing success, writing goals, or brainstorming for future projects
  • Weekly lunch gatherings with friends who inspire you
  • Writing tomorrow’s goals at the end of each workday
  • Wind-down routines like space tidying, piano playing, evening walks, light reading, or “brain dumps” in a journal

Finding Solutions in Unlikely Places

Yang says that, though he has many responsibilities as CEO, he likes to stay focused on his primary passion, which is creating and developing.

And when he’s stuck in a rut, he goes back to simple pleasures:

“I really believe that my mind and body work together. We have a basketball court in the office, and if there’s a problem my team and I can’t solve, we’ll go there and shoot around . . . I [also] love cycling. I have three bikes in my office, and when I need a break, I ride around the parking lot for 15 minutes. I get this sense of freedom when I ride, but I also love the mechanical aspect of bikes, the way the gears shift, the way the frame is made, the geometry of the design. That inspires me.”

What is the “bicycle” in your life? Sometimes taking your mind in a different direction can help you find solutions when you are stuck!

Warranty Documents

WARRANTY DOCUMENTS BENEFIT BOTH YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR CUSTOMER

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Warranty documents benefit both your business and your customers in resolving problems quickly and efficiently. Warranty documents should clarify the warranty terms and conditions and include the warranty period and any other relevant information.

Here are a few different types of warranty documents to consider:

    • Warranty registration cards can be an essential way for manufacturers to track purchases and distribute any follow-up product information.
    • Warranty postcards can be mailed after the purchase, and are a great way to thank a customer for their purchase, as well as provide your contact information should any issues arise.
    • Warranty stickers or seals can be affixed directly on products or packaging, such as an embossed “5-Year Warranty” seal.
    • Warranty certificates are often created as unique documents that are required to claim repairs.
    • Warranty flyers, brochures, and manuals are a great way to offer detailed information. Details should include what product parts and issues the warranty covers, as well as what it does NOT cover. Also, explain how your business will correct warranty issues, such as fixing parts or providing a replacement.

If you need help creating the perfect warranty documents that will highlight the quality of your products and services, give us a call today at 856.429.0715.

Ways to Promote Content

USE YOUR EXISTING CONTENT TO TARGET NEW AUDIENCES

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Content promotion helps you work smarter, not harder. It enables you to use your existing content for retargeting new audiences or repurposing it for new channels, without having to create new content each time.

Here are just a few creative ways to promote your content:

    • Get creative when sharing on social media. You can share directly to your page or a to someone else’s page, in groups that you are in, or target specific people or brands whenever possible with mentions and tagging.
    • Create a referral marketing program where you reward loyal customers for sharing your content and promotions. According to a study by Nielsen, 84 percent of people trust recommendations from people they know, making them the most influential form of advertising.
    • Consider social marketing tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you schedule content to post at later dates. When cross-posting, try to change up the message slightly for each platform.
    • Create a blog as a content host on your website. Blog posts not only boost SEO rankings, but they are a great place to house product announcements, newsletters, upcoming events or promotions, white pages, industry content, and more. Remember to add social sharing buttons to all blog posts.
    • There is nothing wrong with recycling old content, but be sure to update it with new sources, statistics, and a fresh outlook.
    • Share content links in your email signature, and change them frequently. If recipients are reading your email, chances are they will notice your signature as well.
    • Share your content on relevant subreddits. Find a Subreddit for your industry or niche and then share your content there.

5 Keys to a Simple Design Update

GettyImages-807016930.jpgThe United States Open Tennis Championships is a professional tennis tournament that takes place in New York City around Labor Day each summer.

The US Open draws fans from around the world to watch players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams compete. The 2019 US Open set an all-time attendance record with 737,872 fans coming to the National Tennis Center, with the largest stadium (Arthur Ashe) selling out 23 of 24 sessions.

In 2018, the United States Tennis Association announced it was introducing a new logo for the tournament. This featured a speeding tennis ball with an updated font while dispensing with several elements of the old logo. The previous icon (a flaming ball with a red swoosh) was a dated image that presented challenges in digital media and failed to represent the US Open as a premium sporting brand.

By keeping elements of the original logo, the USTA was able to redesign in a way that captured the excitement and movement of their world-class event. The entire Tennis Center (including grounds, merchandise, and courts) received a surge of energy as the logo came to life at the tournament.

How to Overcome Frumpy Designs

Are your designs starting to fade with age?

After many years in business, your branding may not feel as contemporary as it should. Your 1990’s neon-colored bubble letters could certainly use a fresh take, or maybe your mascot (or your photos) look like they need plastic surgery. Some companies may require a total design overhaul, while others need to freshen up a logo, a catalog, or point of purchase display.

No matter the scope of your project, here are five steps to guide you through graphic re-designs:

1. Start with the focal point

Decide what it is you want viewers to see first.

Unless you have a very symmetrical, consistent design, be sure your focal point leaps out by providing strong contrasts in font size, color, typeface, etc.

2. Organize information into logical groupings

If items are related to each other, group them into closer proximity (like a title with a subtitle or an address with a phone number).

The most important groupings should be the focal point of the page. Create generous visual space between the focal point groupings and less prominent pairings.

3. Build and maintain strong alignments

If you see a strong edge (such as a photograph or vertical line), strengthen this edge by aligning it with other texts or objects within the design.

4. Create repetition

Brainstorm ways that specific colors, symbols, or fonts can be repeated in a design.

In multi-page pieces (like a brochure), create connection through the repetition of bold typeface, spatial arrangements, or unique bullet or list icons. In a simple logo, repetition can be used by highlighting key letters or adding shadows or overlaid shapes for depth.

5. Use bold contrasts

Contrast is everything because the eye is irresistibly attracted to distinct differences.

For example: if all your elements are bold and flashy, nothing will stand out. Contrast a logo with a graphic, a bold typeface with a script font, a dark sidebar with a white text box, or a rigid graphic with a free-flowing tagline.

A Visual Identity That Better Carries Your Brand

When announcing its logo update, the USTA said the new design “better captures and expresses the dynamism of the US Open,” with a visual identity that will confidently carry the tournament forward in years to come.

What about your image? By refreshing your look in five simple steps, you can transform your look from one that drags to one that excites!

The Ultimate Sizing and Concept Guide for Your Next Flyer or Brochure

brochure-flyer-blog.pngWant to generate interest or keep the conversation going with your most promising leads?

Brochures and flyers are two of the easiest ways to generate the momentum you need. But what appears to be a straightforward design can sometimes be more complicated. After all, isn’t a flyer the same thing as a brochure? Is there a substantial price difference? And when would it be best to distribute a brochure instead of a flyer?

From folds to sizing, to finishes, finding the right promotional piece can be a little trickier than it first appears. Here are a few design basics to shape a print piece that does exactly what you need.

Flyers

A flyer is usually a single, unfolded print piece used to draw attention.

Flyers can quickly convey small bursts of information and are great for highlighting sales, new locations, upcoming events, or coupons. Because they are easy to print, flyers can contain very targeted, time-bound information, or messages that are specific to a particular audience, neighborhood, etc.

Standard flyer sizes typically fall into these categories:

  • Letter size: 8.5” x 11” or A4: 8.3” x 11.7”
  • A5: 8.3” x 5.8”
  • A6: 5.8” x 4.1”
  • DL (dimension lengthwise): 8.3” x 3.9” or one-third of A4

Because flyers are meant to grab attention, they should be colorful, easy to read, and contain a clear call to action. Whether you distribute them on car windows or through the mail, flyers an effective tool for at-a-glance marketing. Need inspiration? Here are 100 stellar flyer examples to get you started!

Brochures

The main difference between a flyer and brochure is this: a fold.

While brochures can also be straightforward and simple, brochures use strategic content panels to guide the reader through the piece. Brochure layouts are limitless (and lots of fun, too!), but here are several commonly used fold types:

  • Tri-fold
  • Half-fold
  • Gatefold
  • Double gatefold
  • Parallel fold
  • Z-fold
  • Accordion fold
  • Roll fold

Because the paper quality and content of brochures are typically richer, brochures are best used for dates and details that don’t expire quickly.

Brochures can be distributed to qualified leads, to showcase products on the floor, and to help customers make purchasing decisions. Because brochures give a more comprehensive scale of information, they are seen as trustworthy, credible, and worth reading. They are also (typically) more expensive.

Where Do I Begin?

When designing a flyer, brochure, or even a sell sheet, remember that the product’s purpose should determine the size or format you select.

Ask yourself,

“Do I want to share multiple images or one basic message?”

Or:

“Where does this print piece strategically fit in terms of my sales funnel?”

Starting with the size and content in focus will lead you to the best size, shape, and material for your next work of art!

Want to chat more? We’re happy to share samples, give estimates, or take the lead with our full-service graphic design specialists. Give us a call to talk options: 856.429.0715!

http://www.sjprinter.com

Tips to Make Your Brand More Memorable

GettyImages-1065446734.jpgJust Do It.

Think Different.

Have You Had Your Break Today?

You Can’t Beat the Real Thing.

The 1990s brought us many of the world’s most iconic slogans, but certain companies have a corner on memorable branding.

For example, a 2015 survey of 3,000 people in the U.S. and the United Kingdom were shown logos of 100 top global brands, then asked to name and describe those they found most memorable. Nike was at the top (16% of respondents cited it), followed by Apple (at 15.6%), McDonald’s (at 11.1%), and Coca-Cola (at 9.7%).

But aside from logo design or slogan, what makes a brand stick? Experts say it’s a combination of things: some which are inspired, some unusual, and some packaged in the form of contagious stories. The volume of exposure can also increase the likelihood that a brand will stand out, but not many businesses can afford to plaster their logo all over the world.

Increase the “Stickiness” of Your Brand

Use Humor

Don’t be afraid to use humor to promote your brand because humor has staying power and innate personal appeal.

Consider the Super Bowl. This event is as much about the ads as the game, and today people can remember Super Bowl ads from years ago (though they have no idea who competed or won that particular contest).

Release Personalized Content

Who writes your blogs, posts your Facebook notices, or takes your social media photos?

Technology and stock photos make content production easy, but automating the process leaves a bland taste in people’s mouths. Use personalized content whenever possible, and sign the names or signature photos of your staff to the pieces you write. Share examples of personal failures, company celebrations, or hometown references to anchor your content with a more authentic voice.

Create Interactive Communication Channels

Can your customers reach you as easily as you can reach them?

Creating an online brand community enables communication and engages your client. Whether you stick to social media pages or go for a full “gated” membership sites, online brand communities create space for Q&As, meaningful discussions, or offer valuable content that can be accessed by subscribers. This can lead to engaged customer communities, lowered service costs, and greater repeat purchasing.

Launch Giveaway Contests

Giveaways contests are a fast and effective way to build momentum.

Giveaways trigger excitement, anticipation, and a spirit of competition. Any time you can arouse emotion, you’ve been successful! Use giveaways to spark social media sharing, to boost customer engagement, to capture customer testimonials, and to enlarge your e-mail subscriber list.

On-site giveaways also offer a great chance to build excitement through banners, point-of-purchase displays, or oversized decorations. Everyone loves a party!

Memorable Branding Makes Cents

Standing out is a challenge, and small businesses need to work hard to make their voices distinct.

But memorable brands can do more advertising with a small budget because strong branding drives sales and increases customer engagement. Be interactive and have fun, and your customers will too.

The Way I See It

kirk

A man walked into his psychiatrist’s office and said, “Doc, every time I see nickels, dimes, and quarters, I have a panic attack! What’s my problem?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” the doctor answered. “You’re just afraid of change.”

Here’s the way I see it: Tony Robbins said it best, “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited of what could go right.”

If your print materials could use some updating, our team is here to make the process of change painless! And remember, other printers may be nearby, but no one comes close.

Three Show-Stopping Print Ads (and How to Make Yours More Memorable)

Does your brain ever feel tired?

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Some days, that’s probably due to information overload. It’s been said that the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads actually make a lasting impression).

But amidst the explosion of digital advertising, industry reports remind us that print holds steady. 70% of Americans prefer to read on paper, and 67% prefer printed materials over email. Additionally, 55% of consumers say they trust print marketing more than any other advertising messages.

Want to evoke emotions with your next print masterpiece? Draw from three creative examples of print ads that recently stole the show.

Keloptic: Bringing Life Into Focus

Keloptic is an online optician that sells sunglasses and eyewear.

Looking for a clever way to express value, Keloptic took classic impressionistic paintings and added clarity. In one example, viewers gaze at Van Gogh’s post-impressionistic self-portrait through the lens of an overlaid pair of glasses. The portrait, known for its abstract brush strokes and blurry color scheme, leaps into view as the glasses bring Vincent’s face into focus. His eyes penetrate from the page while the whiskers of his beard bring a sense of dramatic 3D texture. In contrast, Van Gogh’s body (appearing outside the eyeglass lenses) remains dull and fuzzy.

Add Your Twist: By allowing viewers to experience the difference Keloptics glasses make, the optician taps into the needs and emotions of its viewers. When crafting your ad, look to clearly reveal how your service can change a bad situation into a better one.

Jeep: See What You Want to See

Jeep is well-known for its terrain vehicles, manufacturing cars that can take you anywhere (so you can “see what you want to see”).

Jeep’s marketers used this motto to design print ads with a variety of animals shown from different viewpoints. The ad’s rugged burlap background featured taglines printed normally (but also upside down!) to alert viewers to the alternate ad angle. As the ad is rotated, vintage drawn animals morph into another species (like a giraffe transforming into a penguin, or an elephant into a tropical bird).

Add Your Twist: By matching its motto with an interactive photo, Jeep gives viewers the power to control their user experience. Play on your customer’s perceptions by using hidden pictures, adding 3D elements that leap off the page, or by using clever messages that make readers dig for deeper meaning.

Pedigree: Adopt

Images convey emotion in ways words never can.

Pedigree puts this principle to work in an ad highlighting adoption. Featuring two side-by-side photos of a man standing on an empty beach, one ad showed a man standing alone with a downcast countenance. In the next image, the man’s head is drooping for a reason: because he’s looking at his dog. The gleeful canine sports a tail in mid-wag and a big sloppy smile. The first ad contains no text, while the second says this: “A dog makes your life happier. Adopt.”

Add Your Twist: Pedigree’s ad is effective because it contrasts a need (loneliness) with a solution (a companion). Since Pedigree is selling to people WITH dogs (not those without dogs), this sentimentality directly appeals to the emotions of its best clients. When selling to the heart, use contrasting images, problem/solution narratives, and graphics that convey an immediate, obvious message.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is nothing if not tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear.

Have fun, and make your message stick! Please give us a call to discuss your next printing project, we are here to help: 856.429.0715.

 

5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Holiday Branding

Tis the season to set yourself apart!

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Year-end sales are a crucial part of many small businesses, and this year, the National Retail Federation predicts November and December sales will increase around 4% (for a national total of between $727 and $730 billion!).

With this natural uptick, year-end festivities offer a great opportunity to add extra flourishes to your brand. Clever seasonal packaging can add a homegrown feel to your products or be the deciding factor for customers choosing between your brand and a more generic option. Adding professionalism to your packaging can grab attention, personalize your products, and show that you really care about your clients.

Looking for inspiration? Here are five clever ways to spruce up your holiday messages.

Holiday Packaging Tape

Holiday-themed tape is an easy update to your year-round packaging.

Add a strip to your bubble mailers, a border to the top of your brown bags, or a smidge to seal your gift boxes. These minor updates bring a splash of colors to make your brand pop.

Custom Stickers and Labels

Whether it’s a stocking, a pumpkin pie, or a tree-topping star, custom stickers and labels can be die-cut to the exact shape you want.

Or you can keep things simple with square stickers in the shape of gift boxes. Adding stickers and labels to your envelopes or in-store displays brings a festive touch or a package-sealing alternative.

Gold Foil or Frosted Bags

Want to add shine and turn heads your direction?

Transparency can be a great way to reveal what’s inside your package or cover, with a sophisticated vellum quality that brings structure and depth. Add that frosty feel or a hint of gold in your:

 

  • Translucent window clings or hanging sign displays
  • Clear frosted business cards
  • Frosted tote bags (with optional artwork or logos foil-stamped on the surface)
  • Gold-tinted or frosted interior wrapping (or zipper bags)
  • Translucent wrapping with a gold ribbon
  • Gold foil stamped postcards, flyers, or custom envelope labels

Very Merry Business Cards

If you don’t normally add business cards to your orders, now is the time!

Using festive-themed business cards can bring a colorful element to each of your mailings. Holiday business cards can also make fun custom gift tags for larger parcels or a hangtag add-on for unique products.

Want some extra incentives? Print business cards with key holiday shipping deadlines or January re-order specials.

Cheery Inner Boxes

The holidays are the perfect time to think about inner boxes.

Rather than putting your product directly into a box or a mailer, an additional inner box allows people to gift something directly or to mail it on to others. Printed boxes also offer you a chance to add extra messaging (like under the inside lid) or to add die-cuts with bold, bright fonts.

Custom Packaging That Makes the Season Bright

Whether it’s getting the mail each day or unwrapping a customer appreciation gift, the ”unboxing” process has become a critical part of the customer experience.

Around 45% percent of surveyed people say they were more excited about receiving their order when this included customized wrapping. Want to increase the emotional attachment customers have to your business? From a dash of color on your envelope to a custom print piece, holiday pizzazz can be a part of any business budget.

Want to talk options? Give us a call today!

How T-Shirt Giveaways Led to a Cool Million

Sujan Patel likes to do things unconventionally.

Colorful clothes hang on a shelf after washing

Patel founded Single Grain, a California based digital marketing company, in 2005. With a background in SEO marketing, Patel gave himself a one-year window to gain as many clients as possible. Though he describes himself as motivated and driven, Patel says a tendency toward laziness was a key that opened the door for his marketing success:

“As soon as I started making money with Single Grain, one of the first things I did was to go out and get some T-shirts made. Not because I thought it’d be some genius marketing move, but because I knew I’d be able to wear them every day and never have to go clothes shopping again. I started out with an order of 25-30 shirts and . . .  I decided to give [several] away to friends. I posted to Facebook to see who wanted a few shirts and was surprised when I ran out just a few hours after the message.”

Patel quickly realized he was onto something bigger than a simple merchandise rush.

Patel started printing a variety of shirts and giving four or five to everyone interested. More than 500 people began wearing them around town, and eventually, Single Grain credited the T-shirts for nearly $980,000 in profits. By 2013, Single Grain had developed into a powerhouse agency with revenues above $3 million.

The Exponential Power of Promotional Products

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

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

Patel said his T-shirts had three obvious benefits:

1. They initiated great business conversations.

Since Patel wore his shirts everywhere, people would continually ask, “What is Single Grain?” Patel was ready with a 30-second elevator pitch and corresponding business cards. Patel said the opportunities this generated were astounding:

“No joke – this happened everywhere.  It happened while I was waiting for a haircut at Super Cuts, while I was working out at the gym and while I was racing at the track . . . I even landed a 50K client while I was getting a massage!  These conversations alone led to about 40% of the 500K I made through my T-shirts.”

2. They opened doors into larger companies.

Because Patel was in the Silicon Valley area, his friends often wore his shirts to work at high power companies like Apple, HP, Google, and Wells Fargo.

Co-workers and bosses were intrigued and couldn’t help asking about Single Grain. Eventually, Patel credited 30% of returns to the nibbles he got from this networking.

3. They significantly increased brand recognition.

Single Grain started with almost no marketing budget and little hope of launching massive ad campaigns.

T-shirts offered an inexpensive way to build momentum. Eventually, potential customers became much more comfortable considering Single Grain because the brand was familiar. When prospects came with questions, they were more trusting because the brand already had a life of its own.

Add A Personal Touch with Your Giveaways

While the T-shirts built momentum, Patel says the authenticity drove single Grain’s success, so when YOU give away freebies, remember it’s about the relationship, not just the merchandise:

“When I go in my bag, hand a T-shirt to someone and say “Thanks for being an awesome customer” or “I’d love you to be one of our customers,” they don’t forget that. It’s not just the T-shirt. It’s that experience, and the memory of it, that’s so powerful.”

5 Elements of an Irresistible Offer

ARE YOU SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE?

Want to take some new territory with your next marketing push?

The lifeblood of your business lies in your ability to sell your product or services, but many entrepreneurs struggle to craft a great pitch.

To shape a compelling offer, you need to know your customer, make ideas accessible, and pitch benefits that outweigh the perceived cost.

Here are five elements to include when structuring an irresistibly good offer:

1. Value

The heart of your sale lies in the value you bring.

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Before you package your message, ask yourself, “What is the most valuable thing I can do for my customer?”

How can you take your client from Point A to Point B in a way that creates a win? Sell the outcome, because this is really the crux of your offer.

2. Language

What style or slang terms do your customers use?

Every bubble has its lingo, and companies do well in using the common language of their people. Offering ski apparel? You’ll sell more if you throw in jargon like kickers, white rooms, throw downs, etc.

3. Reasons Why

Ever wondered, “what’s the catch?” or refused a deal because it seemed too good to be true?

People are so used to being short-changed that when they receive a value-filled offer, they find it hard to accept. Include a solid reason behind your offer (an overstock, warehouse relocation, or a once/year sales blowout), and clients will be more eager to engage.

4. Payment Plans

High-ticket items carry high risk.

People generally think of costs in terms of monthly expenses, so breaking a hefty price tag into segments can mean the difference between a customer balking or a prospect proceeding. Incentivize customers with payment plans, and it will make large purchases seem more realistic.

5. A Great Close

Many prospects consider buying but never pull the trigger.

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Use elements of scarcity (limited supply, time, or resources) to gain leverage. If you have a running countdown of time or available stock, spread the word to drive response. Add a bonus item (free frosting with your cake mix) or an outrageous guarantee (think 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy), and you may reverse the hesitation someone has about doing business with you.

Sell, Don’t Slack

Don’t slack when it comes to structuring an offer that sells. Before your next campaign, craft a compelling, thoughtful offer. Your conversion rate will skyrocket and so will your bottom line.

The Way I See It

kirkI heard a heartwarming story about a generous man who owned a small grocery store and enjoyed showing generosity to the underprivileged kids in the neighborhood.

One day, a ragged boy was admiring the fresh produce. “How is your day going?” the man asked the boy. “Fine, thanks. I’m just admiring those peas. They sure look good!” The man asked, “Would you like to take some home?” “No, sir, I don’t have any money.” Then, the man smiled and asked, “Do you have anything you could trade me?” The boy replied, “All I have is this prize marble.” The man held the blue marble up to the light and inspected it, saying, “She’s a dandy! But do you have a red one like this at home?” The boy nodded. The man said, “I’ll tell you what… take this bag of peas home with you, and on your next trip, let me take a look at that red marble.”

The store owner loved to bargain with the kids and would ensure they went home with food for their family. For example, when the boy came back with his red marble, the man decided he didn’t like red after all, and sent them home with a bag of produce, asking them to come back with a green marble or an orange marble on their next trip to the store. Several years later, the store owner died. At the funeral, a line of young men stood at his casket, each proudly placing an exquisitely shined red marble under his hand.

Here’s the way I see it: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Kindness is the mark we leave on the world.

Bringing Your Dream to Life

GettyImages-1130729936.jpg“Someone is sitting in the shade today

because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” (Warren Buffet)

Dr. Julie Silver is a giant among medical practitioners.

As an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Silver has published several award-winning books and is the Chief Editor of Books at Harvard Health Publications, the consumer health publishing brand of Harvard Medical School.

But Silver is known for more than her accomplishments, she’s known as an overcomer. At age 30, Silver found herself on the other side of medicine – as a patient instead of a physician – when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her story from surgery through radiation, chemo, and rehab is now the backbone of her identity.

Through cancer recovery, Silver found herself exhausted and depleted, with few resources for getting back on her feet:

“Returning to work and caring for my young children was very difficult,” Silver says of that time. “I was not given rehab care and therefore had to rehabilitate myself. If I had been a stroke survivor or been in a car accident, I would have been offered rehab treatment. But, as a cancer survivor, I was left to figure it out on my own.”

Silver says this experience, combined with loads of research touting the benefits of cancer rehab, prompted her to team up with others to reshape the recovery road. She and a team of experts created STAR (Survivorship Training and Rehab) certification programs for hospitals, group practices, and individual clinicians. STAR programs have empowered post-cancer treatment centers, improved life for thousands, and given legs to Silver’s dream.

Pursue a Dream

Do you need the courage to pursue a dream in your life?

You have to believe a dream before you can see it come true. Every great achievement begins in the heart of one individual who took a risk and asked, “what if?” As Walt Disney once said, “all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Dreamers are people who don’t let negative thinking discourage them, even when their vision is beyond their capabilities. In Silver’s case, she started with a hope for better cancer rehab. But as her journey progressed, she discovered hospitals needed much more than information. They needed an entire training system.

“I quickly realized that [my colleagues] needed a lot more information and assistance than I could offer with a simple conversation,” Silver said. “They needed to be educated about cancer rehabilitation and to implement protocols to deliver this care.”

Share a Dream

One reason dreams die is that you never share them with others.

People who genuinely want to achieve a dream must talk about it! Frequently. Why? Sharing a dream aloud helps you believe in it more and to make necessary tweaks along the way. Sharing dreams builds momentum, inspires others to collaborate, and holds you accountable to a plan. And plans break visions into actionable steps while pushing you to gather necessary resources in realistic time frames.

Work the Dream

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

After you’ve done the necessary planning, it’s time to work. When it comes down to it, cathedrals are built one brick at a time. So, the most successful dreamers aren’t just people with bold ideas; they are people who follow through in ordinary moments.

Hard work isn’t always fun, but success looks something like this:

Short-Term Tasks * Regular Follow-Through = Long-term Achievement

Sound difficult? Just remember, it can be hard to work the dream, but it can be even harder to work for someone else’s dream. Do the work today and enjoy the results tomorrow!

Memo Pads

A COST-EFFECTIVE AND CREATIVE WAY TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS

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Custom printed memo pads are a cost-effective and creative way to promote your business. Unlike many promotional items, memo pads are a welcomed, useful item that your audience will enjoy receiving. They are also a great way to keep your contact information at their fingertips day after day, so when they are ready to make a purchase, they will think of your company first.

Memo pads can be created in any size or shape, and commonly have 25, 50, or 100 sheets per pad. While you can customize the design by adding lines, graphics, and contact information, the most popular memo pads downplay advertising and maximize usability.

Memo pads can be distributed at tradeshows and other events, be made available at your checkout counter, and even mailed to your customers and prospects as a lumpy mailer.

If you’d like help creating the perfect memo pad to promote your business, visit us online or give us a call today at 856-429-0715!

 

How Multi-Tasking Can Tank Your Productivity

Man eating an hamburger and working seated his car

For more than a decade, Dr. Daniel Simons and his colleagues studied a form of invisibility known as inattentional blindness.

In the best-known demonstration, Simons showed a video and asked people to count how many times basketball players in white shirts passed a ball. After 30 seconds, a woman in a gorilla suit sauntered into the scene, faced the camera, thumped her chest and walked away. Half the viewers missed her. In fact, some people looked right at the gorilla and did not see it.

That video was a sensation, so a 2010 sequel again featured the gorilla (as expected). This time, viewers were so focused on watching for the gorilla that they overlooked other unexpected events like the changing background color.

How could they miss something right before their eyes? Inattentional blindness. Humans consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when we focus on one thing, we overlook others.

The Statistics on Multi-Tasking

Most people are unaware of the limits of their attention, which can cause dangerous situations (like texting and driving).

What about multi-tasking at work? A majority of people spend time bouncing between calls, e-mails, and creative tasks, believing that this plate-spinning approach makes them more efficient.

But studies suggest that multi-tasking is a problem, not an asset. Data shows that multi-tasking causes you to make more mistakes, retain less information, and fragment brain function. Here’s why.

Any time you need to pay attention, the prefrontal cortex of your brain begins working. Focusing on a single task means both sides of your prefrontal cortex are working together in harmony, but adding secondary tasks forces the left and right sides of the brain to operate independently. Scientists from the Paris Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) found that this “brain split” caused subjects to forget details and to make three times more mistakes.

Another study found that participants who multi-tasked during cognitive tasks experienced an IQ score decline similar to those who have stayed up all night. Some of the multi-tasking men had their IQ drop 15 points, leaving them with the average IQ of an 8-year-old child. That’s some jaw-dropping data!

So how can you avoid the multi-tasking “trap?” Here are four suggestions:

Place Lower Priority Projects Out Sight

When juggling assignments at work, intentionally stop and place lower priority projects out of sight.

Mute notifications from your e-mail or phone, send calls to voicemail, or put a sign on your door saying you will not be available for the next __ minutes. Give full attention to one project at a time and your creativity and efficiency will increase.

Use Time-Blocking

Rather than bouncing between tasks, map out chunks of time for each project. Twenty-minute blocks are a great way to schedule your most valuable time slots.

Turn Off Your Phone

Keep your phone off the table during meetings and turned off during peak productivity sessions.

Log Off Email

Studies show that the average professional spends about 23 percent of their day in e-mail.

But an Irvine study found when employees were cut off from e-mail for five days, heart tracking monitors revealed a decrease in stress and an increase in mental endurance. Employees who switch screens less often minimize multi-tasking and work more efficiently.

Consider limiting availability with automatic-reply settings like this: “I am not available at this time but will be checking messages again at 2 p.m. For immediate assistance, contact ________.”

Just Say No

The next time you’re tempted to multi-task, just say NO! You may think you’re getting more done, but you’re probably wrong

Expand Sales with Responsive Customer Surveys

GettyImages-1061305892.jpgAirbnb is one of the most iconic names for startup success in our generation, quickly becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing companies with over 80 million reservations booked per year through their service.

A considerable part of Airbnb’s marketing strategy includes its responsiveness to both customers and hosts. The company regularly surveys hosts and guests and makes this a priority in their business.

Why? Here’s what Airbnb says:

“At the center of everything we do is community. Our community of hosts is what delivers magical travel to our community of guests. For more than ten years, we have worked to build this community, which now includes hosts in nearly 100,000 cities.”

A typical Airbnb survey invite looks something like this:

Hi ____,

Thanks for using Airbnb. We really appreciate you choosing Airbnb for your travel plans.

To help us improve, we’d like to ask you a few questions about your experience so far. It only takes 3 minutes, and your answers will help us make Airbnb even better for you and other guests.

Thanks,

The Airbnb Team

Airbnb politely asks for customers’ opinions after their stay, giving them the space to decide whether they want to share their feedback or not. In fact, Airbnb has increased the number of bookings by 25% with their referral program alone.

Companies like Airbnb recognize that surveys are a powerful way to:

  • Grow new sales opportunities
  • Recognize and help dissatisfied clients before they leave
  • Create deeper relationships with VIP customers
  • Build competitive advantages for a business

Six Tips for Building a Successful Survey

When it comes to customer success and satisfaction, your team must collect feedback about your product or service.

As you assess customer needs, you increase value for your company and validate strategic decisions that your leaders make.

Want to build more sustainability and growth into your business? Here are six tips for building a successful survey.

1. Keep it short and simple.

Concentrate on the 5-10 most important questions.

2. Avoid loaded questions.

Leading questions taint your survey because you tempt people to give answers they THINK you want to hear.

3. Start with basic questions that have straightforward answers.

This increases the confidence of the customer and encourages them to continue the survey (rather than abandoning the process). If open-ended questions are important to you, use them at the end of the questionnaire.

4. Avoid compounded questions.

Avoid grouping multiple questions together in one line, like: “Did you understand what the product did? Why or why not?” This increases your likelihood of gathering unclear data.

5. Target the right people.

Don’t waste your time on people who are not prospects or target customers. The RIGHT data is much more important than a plethora of unhelpful feedback!

6. Include enough people.

To know how many people to send surveys to, take your sample size (how many responses you’d like to receive) and divide it by your estimated response rate.

For example, if you want a sample of 100 customers at an estimated response rate of 10%, you would divide 100 by .10 to find that your survey should be sent to 1000 customers.

A Customer-Centric Experience

Every product or service revolves around customers and their experiences.

Well-structured survey campaigns are well worth the time and expense they involve because they allow you to assess customer needs, provide effective solutions, and increase client retention. Start with the basics and build from there. Your business will thank you later!

Teamwork At Its Best

kirkSurely, you’ve heard the old saying, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Well, this sentiment is also true when it comes to members of The Rolling Stones band. While they have been playing together for more than 50 years, The Rolling Stones still know there is no substitute for the hard work and importance of practicing together and being cohesive as a team.

Before every tour, The Stones commit two months to rehearsals before heading back on the road. They appreciate the opportunity to work together as a team of professionals honing their craft. Rehearsals allow them to re-familiarize themselves with the music and each other, developing a nearly telepathic communication.

Richards says that he knows exactly what’s happening on stage by merely watching Watts’ left hand. If the tempo ever drags, one glance from Richards to Wood speaks volumes. Together they will then step up the pace. While there are many members in the band, they perform together as a unified unit.

Here’s the way I see it: There is no substitute for the ongoing commitment and deliberate practice required to build better teams. Let us know anytime you need help creating print projects that will make your business shine!

4 Modern Design Resources for Your Bag of Tricks

Graphic designer at work. Color samples.Looking for a few hacks to sharpen your designs?

By adding a few extra resources, the force of your talent can expand exponentially! And with new design tools being released regularly, the possibilities are limitless.

Everyone needs a few handy helps in their bag of trips. Check out these four modern design resources and up your game today!

Quick Design

Want to learn design?

Quick Design is a platform that lists free design courses available online. From 3D and animation to things like cryptocurrency and “ethical hacking,” you can select free courses for design based on your skill as either a beginner or an expert. Step-by-step practical resources are available to a wide range of 3D, CAD software, and other industry-oriented specialists.

As an additional benefit, you can follow other designers of your interest, which can help in networking or creative brainstorming.

unDraw

For quality illustrations that you can embed in your design on a moment’s notice, check out unDraw.

unDraw is an MIT licensed collection of quality open license images that can be dropped directly into your favorite design tool. These thoughtful, elegant, and functional SVG images can be downloaded and customized in three easy steps:

 

  • Browse or search to find illustrations you want to use for your design
  • Change the color to match your palette or through your asset colors later
  • Download the image to your clipboard and paste it wherever you want

unDraw images can be used for free in commercial or personal projects without worries, so drop some into your print pieces, mobile apps, or whatever you can create!

UI Sources

Inspiration regarding design “flow” can be hard to find.

Enter UI Sources.

Launched in 2018, UI Sources is a curated repository of motion design. To date, UI Sources catalogs around 500 interactions from apps that bring inspiration and strategic navigation options in everything from augmented reality, chatbots, in-app purchasing, and more.

UI Sources can help you with your own projects, giving you tools to analyze product flows and features and to get real design inspiration for your apps, web designs, or even big-picture schematic print designs. This resource is extensive and can be used by designers, developers, product packaging specialists, and entrepreneurs of all kinds.

Absurd Illustrations

What to play around a bit?

In a digital era, sometimes, we need to interact with something more human to make us appreciate both the beauty and the imperfection of something made by hand. Absurd.design is a project that comes with a set of downloadable, surrealist illustrations for articles, landing pages, marketing materials, and more.

High-quality images are available in a variety of formats. From here, you can craft a truly distinctive message with an illustration that’s available only to you.

Improve Your Workflow

Each designer has their own personal list of “aha” tools.

Check out these four goodies and share the love with your colleagues too. You’ll enjoy using them to increase efficiency and to dazzle your best clients!

How to Age Gracefully at Every Stage of Life

GettyImages-855430236.jpgIf people can age with class, Harlene Goodrich should be considered a maestro of maturity.

Goodrich, age 81, is a former schoolteacher who lives in Seal Beach, CA. Goodrich returned to school at age 50 to get her master’s degree and has since published a children’s book and won several playwriting contests. Despite serious back and knee surgery in the past decade, Goodrich didn’t shrink back from traveling to Washington, D.C., at age 79 to participate in a national protest march.

Goodrich says that aging well means proactively beginning the process while you’re still young by engaging with stimulating people and activities. This includes a healthy dose of humor. Recently, Goodrich gathered friends ages 65 to 83 and heard them complaining about aches and pains. She stopped the discussion and suggested they go around the table to give each woman five minutes to complain. That’s when everyone broke out laughing.

A Healthful Approach

No one can stop time, so it’s important to remember that aging isn’t something to be avoided. Instead, aging healthfully should be your goal.

This includes taking stock of your physical, social, and mental wellness, and prioritizing health as you would invest in your vehicle maintenance. Want to age healthfully? Here are some checkpoints in each category.

Physical Health

Early identification of health problems makes them easier to manage, so prioritize regular check-ups and complete the recommended health screenings for your age group. Here is a medical schedule to help you best navigate these guidelines.

Exercise is also vital. It’s estimated that physical functioning peaks around age 30, and at this point, you begin to lose muscle mass and function. Sedentary individuals can lose as much as 5% of their muscle mass each decade! However, you can maintain muscle through regular exercise, specifically strength or resistance training. Resistance training also strengthens bones and helps prevent osteoporosis.

Social Health

Aging can sometimes feel lonely, so it’s important to make new friends and widen your social circles.

How can you do this? Consider new hobbies, volunteer opportunities, or even classes at a nearby college. You can also expand connections by proactively befriending younger people. Intergenerational relationships can open doors for powerful mentoring opportunities while decreasing depression and helping you navigate changes in technology and culture.

Mental Health

Cognitively speaking, mental development continues into middle adulthood.

Later in life, your cognitive processing speeds may slow, but wisdom and experience-based problem solving will continue to increase.

It’s important to feed your mind and your soul to stay sharp mentally. This includes consistent sleep patterns, building new connections, and cultivating a sense of purpose. Practical steps may consist of caring for others (to maintain a positive outward focus), tackling puzzles or strategy games, using mental arithmetic instead of defaulting to a calculator, playing an instrument, and surrounding yourself with upbeat people.

Research shows that smiling, even a fake smile, can boost your mood. When you catch your reflection in the mirror or a window, smile at yourself, and you may be surprised at how it lifts your spirits. Smile at others, too; you might make their day!

Be a Participant in Your Journey

One of the essential things about aging is to do it proactively.

Often as people age, they feel isolated or embarrassed. And in today’s connected generation, there’s just no reason to shrink back from others. Aging healthfully means making a plan, asking for help, and being an active participant (versus a spectator) in your own life. That’s Harlene’s outlook:

“No one suddenly gets old,” Goodrich said. “I think we’re all on the path of life. I may be old in years, but I’m the same person who’s been living the same life. The key is to participate in each stage along the way.”

Increase Conversions with 3 Headline Hooks

GettyImages-458899957.jpgDo you ever wander through a library aisle you would normally avoid?

Perhaps you’re a fiction reader who ambles into the autobiography section. Surprisingly, a cover grabs your attention and you check out a book you’ve never heard of.

What was it that caused you to act? Just one short glimpse at the title.

That’s telling.

Fool-Proof Headline Formulas

Headlines matter. A lot.

Researchers estimate that in today’s content-saturated culture, only 8 out of 10 readers make it past the headline of most pieces. In 2016, an academic study of bit.ly links to BBC, CNN, Fox News, New York Times, and Huffington Post articles found that 59 percent of the links were never clicked.

And even if you do get readers past the front door, you still need to bring them to a point of purchase.

Which headlines best engage readers and maximize response? Here are three headline formulas to increase your conversions:

“The Best” List Headlines

Readers are selfish.

When they engage with content, they want something of value.

Think about it from your own perspective. What kind of “hacks” grab your attention? Weight loss? Easy savings? Life management tricks? Most people wish to avoid sifting through information, so “best” headlines offer fast and easy value.

Best list headlines use a formula like this: The __ Best Ways to Get ______

The trick to this headline is to be concrete in your wording and to ensure corresponding content backs up your claim. Here are three examples:

  • The 20 Best Ways to Make Money on a Side Hustle
  • The 12 Best Ways to Make the Most of Your Commute
  • The 8 Best Ways to Give a Non-Threatening Sales Pitch

Threat-of-Loss Headlines

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is real. Just think of how tempting some phony clickbait ads can be!

FOMO headlines are a compelling motivator because they are time-sensitive and prompt vulnerability in the reader. As an entrepreneur, ask yourself these questions when crafting a threat-of-loss headline:

— What damage or cost can my service help people avoid?

— How will acting today save them money or inconvenience?

— If they forget to respond, who might they disappoint?

FOMO headlines use this formula: You’ll Be _______ if You _____________

For example:

  • You’ll Kick Yourself if You Miss This Early Registration Discount
  • Your Wife Will Be Stranded if You Cut Corners on Seasonal Auto Maintenance
  • You’ll Lose $200 if You Delay Your Renewal

You can use threat-of-loss headlines for both serious and light-hearted topics, so have fun and be specific!

Curiosity Headlines

One of the best ways to grab readers is to engage curiosity to affect change.

People are painfully aware of their shortcomings, so arouse their need to educate themselves so they can avoid danger or uncertainty. Tell them how they’re wasting time, losing money, missing out on helpful technology, or unintentionally hurting someone.

Curiosity headlines use a formula like this:

What You Don’t Know About _______ Can _______

For example:

  • Here’s What You Don’t Know About Electric Cars That Could Bust Your Budget
  • Here’s What You Don’t Know About SEO That Could Harm Your Business
  • Here’s How Grain-Free Dog Food Can Increase Canine Heart Disease

Write Powerful Headlines They Won’t Ignore

Dull headlines tell consumers your content will be just as lifeless.

Do you want to elevate your headlines from mediocre to marvelous? Use the threat of loss, curiosity, or sneak peeks at the “best” options to boost curiosity, grab readers, and move people to purchase.

7 Greetings to Use in Corporate Thanksgiving Cards

Want to make the holidays happier this year?

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Showing gratitude through your year-end greetings takes some creativity and planning. Maybe this would be a good time for your business to break the mold when it comes to year-end tidings!

In 2016, Mayville Engineering Company, Inc (MEC) decided to amplify appreciation through an employee-empowered kindness campaign. In lieu of traditional greeting cards, MEC created a series of fun in-house GIFs for their employees to get them smiling.

In tandem, MEC sent “acts of kindness” prompts to spur a contagious rash of goodwill. These 25 acts of kindness included both personal and professional ideas, such as, “compliment someone to their boss,” or “donate a piece of clothing for every present you receive.” Employees were encouraged to share the love in and beyond the company and to share photos on its social channels using the hashtag #MECKindness.

Share a Simple Thank You

While you may not start a company-wide campaign, perhaps you could launch appreciation in action through corporate Thanksgiving cards.

A simple thank you goes a long way, and Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to say it. Why should you consider Thanksgiving greetings instead of a more traditional Christmas card? Here are three reasons:

To encourage holiday sales

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a peak season (or planning for an upcoming business calendar) for many people.

While showing your gratitude in November, you’ll also strategically position your name at a time that customers are ready to buy. While expressing appreciation, your brand and products will receive top-of-mind awareness in a strategic season.

To surprise and delight clients

Customers love to associate with companies that have human qualities.

Thanksgiving greeting cards will bring an element of human contact that is intensified by this unexpected November gesture. Appreciation cards sent any time outside of Christmas are especially memorable, so avoid the December mailbox clutter and be the first to wish them well this season.

To build brand loyalty

When you care for your customers, not only do you improve the likelihood of repeat business, you create advocates who are loyal to your brand and determined to spread the goodwill about your service.

Take advantage of the concentrated attention you’ll receive outside the holiday rush and highlight reasons your brand is worth every penny!

7 Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Card

Need a little prose for your Thanksgiving cards? Here are seven phrases to inspire your designs:

  1. May your table be filled with family and gratitude this season. Happy Thanksgiving!
  2. All year long, but especially during this season, we’re grateful for incredible customers like you.
  3. Though we’re thankful for all of our customers, you’re especially high on our list. Thank you for being a great customer and Happy Thanksgiving!
  4. With appreciation for your business and your loyalty throughout the year. Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!
  5. It’s the perfect time of year to send our sincere thanks for your business. Happy Thanksgiving from our business to your home!
  6. Sometimes in the rush of the day, we fail to say THANKS loud enough. So today – and this holiday season – we want to express our gratitude. Thank you for your patronage, partnership, and your commitment to crafting vibrant industries here in ____________.
  7. At ____, we believe that relationships are our most valuable resource, and a vibrant local business community is something worth celebrating. Thank you for the privilege of doing business with you this year!

Get Started Today

Ready to get started? This season, we’ve got you covered when it comes to customer engagement. Call today to discuss a custom holiday card or to get your design up and running!

5 Ways to Make Your Newsletters Shine

newsletter-blog.jpgWhat’s so great about vacation? It’s a chance to cut loose and take a break from the ordinary!

But vacation just wouldn’t be as fun if it wasn’t anchored to the sense of consistent routine in our lives. In order to vacate, you have to have a place or a routine to break AWAY from.

A Foundation to Build From

The same is true in design.

To have the freedom to challenge the norm, some type of coherent foundation must first be established. This is particularly true in multi-page publications like newsletters. One of the most important features of multi-page publications is consistency. So, before you go rogue in design, first you need to ensure each page looks like it belongs to the whole.

How can you create this sense of cohesion? With repeating colors, icons, fonts, bulleted lists that repeat a formatting style, matching pull-out quotes, and more.

Here are five strategies for organizing your next newsletter so you compel viewers to read and respond:

1. Avoid a different typeface or formatting arrangement for every article.

Instead, create a strong, consistent structure throughout the pages and add flair with boxed photos, pull-out quotes, or just ONE free-flowing graphic per page.

2. Make headlines clear and bold.

Most people skim newsletters, so headline text should be straightforward and easy to read. Use leading questions or creative subheadings to build suspense and entice the viewer to read more.

3. Keep alignment consistent.

To build an organized page, choose an alignment and stick with it.

If everything is left-aligned, photos should be cropped to this sharp margin as well.

Does this mean you can’t ever break the rules of the system you’ve created? No! A firm set of columns actually creates MORE space to break out of the grid. But when you do this, do it with gusto! Items that are just a smidge out of the normal alignment will look like a mistake.

4. Avoid Helvetica and Arial

If your newsletter seems drab, juice it up with heavy sans serif typefaces that create a strong visual hierarchy.

Often people default to Helvetica or Arial, but these just aren’t bold enough to create a strong contrast. Instead, invest in a sans serif family that includes a heavy bold version as well as a light subheading complement (such as Eurostile, Formata, Syntax, Frutiger, or Myriad). You’ll be amazed at the difference this contrast makes.

5. Create a Compelling Call to Action

Printed newsletters are a great way to build goodwill and reinforce brand awareness, but at the end of the day, you want readers to take action.

When scripting your text, ask yourself, “if the reader was going to act on the content in this newsletter, what would I want them to DO?” Brainstorm many call-to-action phrases and places they can be used in your design, and make this journey easy for the eyes to follow.

Ideally, there should be a call to action on each page with one very prominent “next step” CTA near the end of your piece. Here are a handful examples:

  • Subscribe Now!
  • Sign Me Up!
  • Activate _____ Today!
  • Find Out How!
  • Claim Your Discount!
  • Try it Yourself!
  • Schedule (or Book) __________!
  • Register Now!
  • Call for a Free Estimate!

Make Them Look Forward to Your Next Newsletter

Time is a precious commodity, and the moments people invest in reading your newsletter are important.

To make the most of this unique privilege, build a strong design grid with a few spectacular deviations. Create visually engaging publications with helpful takeaways, and your newsletters will be something your audience looks forward to reading!

Inspire Imagination with 4 Creative Design Catalysts

Do you enjoy creating?

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Are you an illustrator, a graphic design specialist, or a photographer who loves to see ideas come to life?

If so, you’ve probably experienced a few slumps. Even the most innovative people need new inspiration from time to time. Ready to ignite a fresh perspective for your projects?

Here are some creative exercises that may spark your next fantastic idea.

4 Design Catalysts to Inspire Your Imagination

Loosen your turtleneck pullover and host an art night with friends.

 

If you create for a living, what better way to connect with your inner muse than to host a no-holds-barred, imaginative free-for-all with your best pals?

Tell guests to dress for a mess and drag out your paints, beads, clay, stamps, ink, and more. Remind people to leave the perfectionist self at home and have fun with the process. After all, some of the best art is spontaneous.

Takeaway: Creating things with friends reminds us that art is fun, and beauty can arise from unexpected sources.

Build and broaden your artistic muscle by doing icon reps.

 

Choose an icon (like a sun, heart, leaf, crest, or set of cherries) 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 large-scale renderings. As you build variations, try different shadings, color combinations, or typographic elements to stretch your normal design boundaries.

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. Begin with quantity and finish with quality!

Identify your core audience and ask yourself what subject would best connect with these viewers.

 

Then, brainstorm ways to feature the perfect person doing the ideal activity in perfect circumstances.

How can you best capture the age, gender, or appearance of this “perfect” individual? Experiment with collages, photos, silhouettes, stick figures, or only body parts (such as the hand, eye, or mouth).

Takeaway: Featuring the wrong people in your piece (or possibly the right people in the wrong atmosphere) can tank your design.

In contrast, a piece that features the right people in the right way can befriend viewers and make them extremely receptive to your product or message.

Tend your roots by asking yourself: “Why did I become a Creative in the first place?”

 

Make a list of passions and interests that led you to this stage in your journey. Then, cultivate these roots through revisiting some of the places or people who inspired you in the past.

Takeaway: Neglecting your creative soul apart from your professional commitments puts your growth as a person at risk. Nurture your nature, and momentum will freely flow in all that you do.

The Human-to-Human Connection

While many designers have a free spirit, often professionals end up spending a great deal of time alone.

However, much of our success in design is rooted in human-to-human connections. The connections you make will have a massive impact on how you see the world and what you create in response. So connect with others, connect with yourself, and have fun with your next best design.

Which One to Invite?

kirkHere’s a little fable that got me thinking, and I thought you would also enjoy it.

One day, a husband and wife noticed three old men with long white beards sitting in their front yard. The couple went over to them and invited them to come in and eat with them.

“We do not go into a house together,” they replied. “Why is that?” the wife asked. One of the old men explained, “His name is Wealth,” he said, pointing to one of his friends. Then, pointing to the other man, he said, “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added, “Take a moment to discuss which one of us you’d like to invite in your home.”

Perplexed, the couple went back inside, and the husband said, “Let’s invite Wealth. It would be great if he could fill our home with wealth!” The wife disagreed and said, “I think we should invite Success.” Meanwhile, their daughter was listening, and jumped in with her suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love? How wonderful to have our home filled with even more love!”

The family agreed, and they went outside and asked, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” All three men started walking toward the house. Surprised, the wife said, “But I only invited Love?” The old men replied, “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love,wherever he goes, we get to go with him.”

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

GettyImages-1012821318.jpgIndividual design elements are the building blocks of today’s best marketing pieces, and with today’s technology, almost anything is possible when it comes to print.

Print products can vary in texture, color, shape, and finish, bringing a staying power that allows your company to shine strong among competitors.

Step Up Your Game with Memorable, Inspiring Print Promos

Here are five simple and impressive print techniques that can drastically improve the appearance of your materials.

1. Cut it Out

Whether it’s brochures, business cards, or door hangers, printed pieces aren’t limited to square or rectangular shapes.

Consider reshaping your invitation to match your logo, or creating a custom label in the shape of your most popular product. For brochures or folders, you can add custom-shaped pockets, a peek-through window, or die cuts that accentuate the featured product.

2. Add Texture

While embossing was originally known for its use in personalized stationery, today raised elements can be used in envelope flaps, business cards, hang tags, and more.

Embossing elevates your design from the background, providing a raised, textured effect. It can be used to create geometric patterns, add borders, or add a custom seal to product packaging.

3. Be Blunt

Adding contrast is one of the most effective ways to add spark to your print piece.

Contrast helps organize your design and establish a hierarchy, guiding viewers to the most important parts of your design.

Add contrast by mixing dark and light colors (like white fonts on deep, rich backgrounds), by using opposite hues in close proximity, or by mixing organic, fluid shapes with angled, geometric elements.

Contrast texture in your font pairings, graphic sizing, or in disrupted patterns like these.

4. Go Retro

Though the eye loves symmetry, the heart connects with the imperfect.

From scary scars to burned edging, imperfections in design can humanize your creations and strengthen the bond between a brand and its user.

Add retro elements by making things look dirty or ragged. Degrade pristine images with vintage photo filters, add blur or gradients to your designs, or add artifact images that scream authenticity.

5. Finish Well

Like dolloping whipped cream on your pie, adding a stock coating in your designs can bring a delicious finishing touch.

In addition to providing extra protection to your marketing materials, coatings can draw attention to key elements by adding texture and shine. Add sophistication with a glossy UV coating, shimmer with pearlescent glitter coatings, accents with spot varnishes, or coarse texture with grit coatings.

Coatings add class and show that you approach business with pride, which can make customers more comfortable working with you.

Create a Timeless Treasure

While new trends take shape every day, you can make a modern design statement with existing techniques that give your print materials a sleek twist. Great designs mix the old and the new to create timeless print pieces your clients will love.

Mastering the Psychology of Discounts to Make More Sales

price reduction 3D render illustrationWhat is the right strategy when it comes to discount marketing: presenting strong visuals, mystery offers, or the word “free” in your print ads?

Everyone is attracted to a deal, no matter the size. By using coupons or discounts, you appeal to shoppers in a unique way.

Incentives Prompt Action

When shoppers feel like they’re getting a good deal, they are excited and more willing to purchase.

Incentives also create urgency, build goodwill with clients, and dissuade people from looking for other offers.

Want to move more products? Experiment with discount tactics like these:

1. Dollar or Percentage Off

This discount type is the most widely used, simply offering a reduction on the original price, such as $50 savings or 40% off.

Discounts can be placed on specific products or applied to an entire order.

2. BOGO

Short for, “Buy One, Get One,” this discount type prompts customers to purchase additional items.

Examples of BOGO include, “Buy One, Get One Free” or “Buy One, Get 50% Off the Next Item.”

3. Quantity Discounts

Quantity discounts encourage shoppers to increase their order value to receive a discount.

For example, “Purchase two items and get the third free,” or, “Receive 30% off your $100 purchase.”

4. Rebates

A rebate is an amount that’s returned or refunded to customers after their initial purchase.

Often used for large-ticket items, the most common is a mail-in rebate. One example? Listing a price as, “$499 after rebate.”

5. Free Shipping

Increasingly popular among online business owners, this removes the shipping cost associated with any order.

Many merchants offer free shipping for a specific order amount, such as “Free shipping when you spend $25 or more.”

Test Discount Variations to Find A Formula for Success

Since there are so many ways to frame discounts, it can be helpful to test multiple variations of a discount to see which are most impactful.

For example, you could offer a segment of your VIP customers a percentage discount and another segment a dollar-off discount to test which discount best appeals to core customers. Or you can experiment with varying communication channels, length of promotions, or discount “add-ons” (like free shipping or store credit for a future purchase).

Here are some examples to consider:

Catherine’s Women’s Clothing: Private Offer

In an ad pitching swimwear specials, Catherine’s framed a gleaming yellow swim ring afloat a dreamy blue pool.

The overlaid text offered one of two choices: a “Buy 1 Get 1 Free Clearance Item,” or “Private Offer Up To $100 Off.” Catherine’s used imagery that transports viewers to a place they want to be, evoking an emotional fondness for swimwear. The bright floaty draws eyes to the deal, and the company wisely gave two sale options to accommodate the price points of individual customers.

J. Crew: Flash Sale

In a spread featuring outdoor apparel, J Crew positioned a yellow sailboat cruising the waves of a dark blue backdrop, using this pitch: “Smooth seas and clear skies – perfect conditions for a flash sale. Extra 30% Off & Free Shipping, Use Code: SetSale.”

For this flash sale, J. Crew took advantage of good sailing weather to create urgency and nostalgia that tied to real life. Because this ad catered to unique preferences and behaviors of a particular market segment, the piece moved beyond a sale into the emotional story of its readers. This, combined with a compelling offer (and clever coupon code), brings a winning combination.

Once you have a better understanding of your most effective offers, you’ll be a great position to mix up your campaigns and boost customer engagement.

4 Mistakes that Make Your Ads Fall Flat

Have you ever seen someone make a pitch without clearly selling their product?

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In business, sometimes we get so close to our product that it’s easy to assume every reader “gets it.” Marketers spend big bucks to grab attention but fail to craft a message that truly connects. Take this example:

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is a technology company offering innovative computing and graphic solutions for work, home, and play. AMD has begun partnering with a famous auto company to significantly reduce design time on new electric vehicles.

AMD recently ran a 2-page BusinessWeek ad with this headline: “AMD Makes It Possible.” The problem? People have no idea what AMD is. So what would cause people to keep reading?

In this ad’s copy section, AMD mentioned that they were able to cut design time on electric cars by over eight months. By burying this information under an obscure headline, AMD confused the reader and probably lost many sales. A better, more specific headline might have said this: “How AMD Cut Design Time From 12 Months to 10 Weeks.”

Quick Fixes to Make Your Message Count

When you use print advertising, you have approximately three seconds before your prospect moves on.

You need to make your message count! Here are four things to avoid in your next ad or direct mail campaign:

1. Too Much Copy

Too much copy is boring to read.

Often direct mail buries the lead under volumes of copy, hoping to save the best for last. This assumes people are interested in your content and that they’ll read to the very end. Even if you’re lucky, only a handful will.

Instead, try this:

  • Use loads of white space.
  • Keep things short.
  • Use sizzling adjectives and action-packed verbs.
  • Put your main benefits in your headlines and other prominent places.
  • Do all you can to make your offer leap out when people scan the page.

2. Focusing on Benefits vs. Value

The service you sell has its benefits, but sharing those features isn’t enough.

Customers want to know more than “what’s in it?” they want to know, “what’s in it for ME?” If your coffee pot has a delay start option, don’t just share this perk, describe the value it brings. Which statement do you find more compelling?

Equipped with a Delay Start Feature

— OR —

Prefer Breakfast in Bed?

Delay Start Brings Piping Hot Coffee as Your Feet Hit the Floor!

3. No Clear Call to Action

One of the primary reasons print ads fail is a lack of clarity.

Does your piece contain a clear, single call to action? Is this call large, memorable, and easy to follow through with?

In today’s market, it’s not enough to give people a reason to buy your product. You must also show them why they need to act now. Don’t leave an offer open-ended – put a deadline on it (like, “Shop today! Sale ends on Monday!”) Or use a personalized URL, QR code, or concrete numbers to grab attention. Try something like: “Book today! 15% off your next visit,” or “order by Sunday for 1-day shipping!”

4. Vague Visuals

When designing an ad, ask yourself, “who is my target market?”

If it is 17-28 year-olds, be sure your images reflect this demographic. When possible, use photos of your target customers putting your product or service to use. When prospects wonder WHO your ad is for, your images should show “WHO” with a “when, how, or why.”

Tired of Falling Flat in print?

We all make mistakes from time to time, but using these tips will ensure you don’t keep repeating those errors.

Be clear, be brief, and offer value and your print ads will undoubtedly hit the mark.

A Jug of Milk

A Jug of Milk

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I heard an interesting story about a small village who was expecting a visit from a great leader. One of the village members suggested that they have a grand feast upon the leader’s arrival, and asked each of the villagers to bring a bucket of milk, and pour it into a big container at the village center.

After this request, each of the villagers returned with a bucket and quickly filled the large container. That afternoon during the feast, the villagers began filling their glasses from the container, but to their surprise, the liquid they poured was water instead of milk. When asked what happened, the villagers all admitted they thought no one would notice if they added water instead of milk.

Here’s the way I see it: A wise man once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” When you choose to work with our print shop, you can rest assured that we will meet or beat your expectations.

Practical Skills for Successful Entrepreneurs

Smiling designer in her studio

It’s not easy to start (or run!) a business.

Many factors compete for your time and attention. Unexpected storms dampen passion or erode your resiliency. And then there are your competitors, who often have a jump on your best ideas.

The best entrepreneurs master a broad set of skills to manage obstacles that arise each day. While you need expertise and focus to succeed in your business, you’ll also need to nurture these four practical skills:

Adaptability

In business, things change quickly.

The smartest people in business are those who grow and evolve. What works today might not work tomorrow, so to stay competitive, you need to keep a few steps ahead in the game. Be flexible and be willing to change your strategy. This requires ambition, strategic planning, and creativity.

How do you keep those a priority? By embracing change!

If you always do the same thing, you won’t enjoy greater results. Be proactive about enriching your life with new experiences, expanded networks, and unique learning experiences. This may be as simple as talking to customers, delegating your areas of weakness, or signing up for a community course. Each experience can open doors to opportunities, or open your eyes to possibilities you hadn’t previously considered.

Time Management

If you don’t manage your time, your time will manage you.

Time management is the art of telling your minutes where you want them to go, and this requires two things: self-reflection, and the ability to say no. When you’re the leader of a business, there will be many demands on your time. People will constantly ask you for input, attendance, or leadership in areas that can overwhelm and distract.

How can you manage time well? Block out calendar segments where you can’t be interrupted or double-booked.

Hold firm boundaries: end meetings on time, set timers during phone calls, and refuse to multitask (when possible). Define your priorities, give focus to individual tasks, and use laser focus on accomplishing the very next thing, and you will be one step closer to achieving your big-picture goals.

Money Management

Nothing works if cash doesn’t flow.

No matter how solid the idea, success is doomed without the ability to raise, manage, and generate money.

As a business owner, you must create (and stick with) a budget, keep up on bills and expenses, and effectively invest in the right areas. If this seems overwhelming, consider taking a class, finding a professional mentor, or hiring an accountant to keep you on track. This is a small investment that can save you a load of sweat (and cash) while you’re growing your business.

A Thick Skin

Growing as a leader is an exercise in rejection.

Investors will pass, people will criticize, and team members will leave. To be the best in your field, you’ll have to learn from mistakes – and from criticism. If you let failures get you down, your business will never succeed.

Instead, view each disappointment as a chance to learn about people or to grow your courage. Be kind to yourself when others aren’t, and remember, you’ve only truly failed if you decide to quit! You can’t succeed without a few risks.

Seize the Day

Killing it as an entrepreneur isn’t easy.

But when you are flexible, courageous, and intentional, the odds tilt in your favor! Start with small improvements so you can seize the day and get the job done.

New Member Packets

A GREAT WAY TO WELCOME NEW MEMBERS

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New member packets are a great way to welcome members and provide helpful information about your organization or group. Here are a few things to consider including in a new member packet:

    • A customized pocket folder can be a great way to organize the content of your new member packet.
    • Include a personalized, signed welcome letter that shows your appreciation and thanks members for joining.
    • A printed booklet or guide that provides an overview of your organization, team members to contact, helpful tips and tricks, and other relevant information.
    • A schedule of upcoming events, meetings, or other opportunities for members to be involved.
    • A list of membership resources, benefits, or perks. This could include a membership card, rewards program, coupon book, parking pass, contact information, webinars, training, or more.
    • Depending on the type of organization, you may also consider guest passes, which your members can give out to others at their discretion. Guest passes also give you the opportunity to grow your membership program.
    • Consider including a free gift, such as a pen, keychain, custom notepad, or stickers.

If you’d like more ideas or need help creating a new member packet that your members will enjoy receiving, our printing experts can help. Give us a call today at 856-429-0715!

4 Ways to Maximize Impact with Pictures

script-blogThey say a picture paints a thousand words, but pictures go beyond just that. Sometimes they force an emotional response.

Consider the Snake Campaign from Playland, an amusement park in Vancouver.

This print ad features a horrified man on a background split between two scenes: on the left, a jungle landscape, on the right, an outdoor amusement park.

In front of the amusement park scene, the man clutches the handle of his roller coaster safety bar as he seems to be hurtling from a high drop on the ride. In front of the jungle scene, the man’s hand is nearly clutching an enormous snake that has slithered itself over his neck and waist. The snake and safety bar are precisely symmetrical, harnessing the man in for a ride he wishes he hadn’t taken, while playing on people’s nightmarish aversion to snakes.

The message? Playland is a place to scream yourself silly: “Fear Made Fun.”

For the Love of Imagery

People like pictures. A lot.

Why? For one thing, pictures help our brains process and retain information.

According to John Medina, author of Brain Rules, people can often remember more than 2,500 pictures with at least 90 percent accuracy several days after seeing them. When comparing pictures to oral presentations, researchers found that people listening to an oral presentation could only recall around 10 percent of the details. But when an image was added, recall rose to 65 percent!

The brain also processes images faster than any other form of communication. A team of neuroscientists from MIT found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds.  So whether you’re writing a report, brainstorming ads, or creating handouts for a seminar, be sure to prioritize pictures!

Bring Your Content to Life with Pictures

Here are several ways to incorporate images in your next project:

Show, Don’t Tell

Since pictures are so efficient, an image almost always exceeds an explanation.

A diagram of a machine, a blueprint of a building, or a map of your facility will do much better conveying a concept than paragraphs of text.

Overlay Text

An image can be a great way to introduce a chapter or a section of your presentation.

To add clarity, try placing text on top of an image (like a magazine cover, which features a signature photo with overlaid text) to create a nice header. Many online editor tools exist to help you with this, or even basic tutorials from Photoshop.

Color Code

Since colors are a form of imaging, using color coding in brochures, catalogs, or store displays can help viewers make sense of your information.

Color-code sections of a binder with predominantly red images in one section and green in another section to delineate subjects. Color code inventory or training manuals to keep people and products organized, or use colors to organize workflow boards to convey urgent tasks versus those that are on-going.

Turn Bullet Points Into Icons

Looking to spice up a flyer or brochure?

Lots of text is distracting to an audience. Instead, try replacing bullet points with a photo or icon that represents the message you want to share. A yellow triangle with an exclamation point works for highlighting caution areas. A speedometer can be used for acceleration. A bulls-eye can be used for sales targets. Be creative and have fun with icons!

Like any campaign, consistency in tone and photo content will naturally boost the message you bring. Adding thoughtful, seamless photography can help you maximize the impact, clarity, and beauty of each piece you produce.

Tips for Unleashing the Amazing Sales and Marketing Power of Business Cards

SMALL IN SIZE, BIG IN RESULTS

Business cards may be small, but their impact is huge. A business card plays an important part in making a lasting impression upon those you do business with.

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When choosing a business card, don’t be cheap. (If you’re on a limited budget, try to save elsewhere.) Experienced sales reps know how important it is to make a good impression on their prospects. They buy nice clothes, drive nice cars, and wine and dine prospects and clients – only to give them a 5¢ business card?!? Why not consider a business card that would really wow a customer and adds to the overall good impression?

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  1. Feature your company name prominently, with your name and title smaller. Using your company logo is important because it will help people associate your name with the product you are selling.
  2. Don’t take up too much space listing all the ways you can be contacted. It’s best to list your phone, email address, and website.
  3. Full-color printing can add a dramatic impact to the look of your business card. If your budget doesn’t support full color, there are a lot of creative possibilities using two colors of ink combined with a third color of paper.
  4. Don’t overlook the backside of your business card. It is a great place to add more sales and marketing information, your mission statement, a map and location, or photos of your products.
  5. It’s worth the time! Business cards are one of the most important tools for business today. The time and effort you spend creating and printing excellent business cards will pay future dividends.

If you’d like help designing a perfect business card, we’d love to help! Ask us for ideas today: 856-429-0715 or visit: http://www.sjprinter.com.

Best of Script Fonts: 3 User Tips and 12 Fan Favorites

script-blogFonts are fun, and today many spectacular fonts are just a few clicks away.

But, it can be tricky to use decorative fonts well, especially script (or cursive style lettering) fonts. Script fonts can be challenging to read, size, or space, so frequently designers shy away from using them at all.

Have no fear!

Script fonts are beautiful typefaces that can appear elegant, informal, or even downright playful. These decorative delights can be managed well with three basic tips:

1. Read Between the Lines

When using a script font, pay attention to the design elements between individual characters.

If a script font looks crowded (or too condensed), you can adjust the font kerning. This will give the eye more breathing room by adding spacing between each letter. But if you adjust the tracking, you may disrupt the flow or connection between letters. If you loosen your kerning, be sure to double-check that each letter is still correctly flowing to the next.

2. Be a Minimalist

Many script fonts have exaggerated ascenders or descenders (letters that go above or below the main text line) which may require greater space between lines.

Typically, script fonts are best when used for one line only (like a quote or a tagline). If you do need to create space between lines, adjust the leading of your font to make it more reader-friendly.

Since the priority of your text is readability, script fonts should be used sparingly. They are best used for headers or call-outs, and a good rule of thumb is to use them for script sections that are seven words or less.

3. Be Distinct

The purpose of script fonts is to add a personal, handmade feel to your message.

When you use an overly formal font, it can come across as snobbish or condescending. Instead, go for script fonts with a more personal feel (like your best friend’s handwriting).

While some cursive fonts can be unprofessional, some of the best fonts are those that aren’t too calligraphic or too casual. Look for something right in between that makes your reader feel right at home!

Need some suggestions? Here are 12 fan favorites for fonts, many of which are FREE:

  • Alex Brush
  • Pacifico
  • Great Vibes
  • Lobster
  • Allura
  • Grand Hotel
  • Windsong
  • Black Jack
  • Arizona
  • Euphoria Script
  • Italianno
  • Qwigley

Want to view a few script fonts in action? Here are 35 script fonts on display for your enjoyment!

Looking to bring more warmth or friendliness to your message? Script fonts are a beautiful way to add authenticity and humanity to your visual brand, but they do come with unique design challenges. Keeping these tips in mind will help you use the script and cursive lettering in a way that brings a simple, sophisticated touch.

Transform Customer Complaints into Great Reviews and Referrals

In business, problems always arise.

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Things malfunction, customers get frustrated, or miscommunication causes delays. However annoying, big problems are still a gateway for better interaction. Consider this example from Toyota:

The year was 2013, and Webin Manzana noticed the dashboard of his 2008 Camry was melting due to the sweltering weather in the Philippines. Because the warranty on his vehicle had long since lapsed, Toyota Motors Philippines refused to get involved.

Manzana, frustrated with the inherent defect in the dashboard material, decided to fax a letter directly to the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. To his shock and delight, the next day he received a call from Toyota Motors Philippines, arranging to pick up the Camry and replace the dashboard immediately.

3 Ways to Resolve Sticky Situations

When handled poorly, customer complaints can deal a heavy blow to your business.

Here are three ways to resolve sticky situations while improving relationships with your clients.

1. Respond Quickly and Calmly

Whether you respond through e-mail or in a more personal way, time is essential in handling complaints.

Even if you can’t immediately fix a problem, remember that the thing your customer wants most is an acknowledgment of the issue and an affirmation of the frustration they feel. Listening patiently can diffuse many situations, especially if you actively sympathize and ask clarifying questions.

Put out fires quickly, and remain calm by reminding yourself the customer is not necessarily upset with you, but with the situation.

2. Tell the Customer How You Plan to Address the Problem (in detail with a specific time frame)

Once you understand why the customer is upset, you can begin to work on solutions.

If customer oversight was the only issue, a specific reparation (like partial refunds, replacements, or credits on future orders) might quickly mend the hard feelings. If you want to go a step farther, consider offering the customer not only a full refund or replacement but also a bonus item. If you are replacing a T-shirt, could you send them a second T-shirt to give away to a friend?

Every day, brand trust diminishes because of negative customer service experiences. Therefore, the psychology of offering a resolution cannot be understated.

In some situations, it may be best to ask the customer what he feels should be done to best resolve the issue. This allows a person to feel they have won (or that they were correct), and that your organization is willing to go the extra mile to make things right.

3. Keep Working to Ensure the Customer is Satisfied

After a problem is resolved, what steps will you take to follow up on your client again?

Can you call a week later, or send a follow-up e-mail after three days? Circling back gives you the chance to find out if you handled the issue thoroughly, whether a solution was effective, or if the customer had other questions.

Most people will be impressed that you take this extra step to solicit their opinion or ensure their satisfaction.

A Silver Lining

Though handling complaints can be tough, over time, it gives you greater insight into your products, your services, or into the minds of your clients.

Effective complaint management not only resolves problems, but it can transform people into advocates for your brand and sources for future referrals.

The Duck Hunting Dog

kirkA boy and his and dog spent hours at a nearby pond practicing retrieving and getting ready for duck hunting season. The dog enjoyed the outings just as much as the boy and was a speedy learner.

On the first day of duck hunting season, the boy shot a duck and instructed his dog to retrieve it. Instead of swimming, as he did in numerous practice sessions, the dog ran out on the surface of the water, picked up the duck, and ran back on top of the water. The boy was amazed and bewildered and knew no one else would believe that his dog could do such a fantastic trick. He ran to his neighbor’s house and invited the old farmer to join them.

After returning to the pond, the boy shot another duck. The dog again walked on top of the water, retrieved the duck, and walked back quickly with the duck in its mouth. Barely able to contain himself, the boy excitedly said, “Did you see that?!” To which the farmer replied, “Well, I didn’t want to say anything, but your dog doesn’t know how to swim.”

Here’s the way I see it: Sometimes, it is easy to be critical and focus on the day-to-day realities in life and miss the extraordinary events happening around us. If you trust our team with your next printing project, we’d be happy to show you our “near-superhero” abilities, including super-fast printing!

Optimize Data to Make Better Decisions

Coworkers working with analytics in the officeIn 2015, data and analytics guru Bernard Marr said, “I firmly believe that big data and its implications will affect every single business—from Fortune 500 enterprises to mom and pop companies—and change how we do business, inside and out.”

That was four years ago, and today Marr’s statement could not be more true.

Solve Problems with Data

Likes, clicks, counts, views . . . you dream it, and the technology can track it.

In a world of limitless measurement, data is helping companies solve problems, see performance, and scrutinize the market. And while it’s easier than ever to collect stats, knowing how to use this data can be a challenge.

Here are several markers to help you distinguish the forest from the trees.

Clearly Identify the Objective

Data seeks to support your business goals, so the best way to use data is to be precise in these objectives. For example:

  • A retail business seeking to grow revenue will measure which products are selling most quickly and if they are understocked in this area.
  • A sports team seeking to win more will use stats from individual players to analyze weaknesses.
  • A marketing executive seeking to generate greater return will analyze conversions to find which ad placements are generating the best response.

To set clear, data-driven goals, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to accomplish this quarter?
  • What are the weak areas the business needs to address?
  • What do I hope to achieve by gathering this data?

Outsource the Analytics

For many people, data shortage isn’t the problem. It’s time and expertise that are lacking.

Because it can be challenging to make sense of the data you’ve captured, sometimes the best option is to outsource. Perhaps there is someone on your team who can read, analyze, or interpret data for you. Maybe a team manager or an account representative could take ownership over their areas of expertise, and present information to your leadership in a simple, understandable way.

Your company may also benefit from third-party data providers like SAS, ClearStory Data, or Kissmetrics. Companies like these can work to combine your business’s internal data with publicly available information to help you make better business decisions.

Optimize Value

After assessing your data, you’ll want to identify the information that will increase value in your day-to-day operations. Areas to consider include:

1. Sales Patterns or Emerging Trends

What is selling the best? What is selling the worst? What product categories are growing fastest?

2. Internal Procedures

How long does each task take, and how can it be done better? Who is driving output? Can we trust high performers with more responsibility?

3. Project Management

Are we on time? Which projects or areas should we prioritize?

4. Benchmarking Competition

What is my competitor’s pricing? How do they market? Where do we fall short?

Save Time, Save Money

The market research firm IDC found that inefficiencies cost companies anywhere from 20-30% of their revenue each year.

Would you like 20% more money to use toward your business goals?

Armed with clear objectives and actionable data, your business can more efficiently market to customers, improve pain points, or streamline operations. The collection of actionable information is certainly worth your investment.

As they say, it’s never a waste of time to stop and sharpen the ax.

From Ideas to Reality: The Basics of 3D Printing

3D Printing Machine3D print capabilities are growing substantially, and soon, they will be a regular part of our ever-changing industry.

While relatively new to the market, 3D printing is here to stay. In 1984, Charles Hull developed the technology for printing physical 3D objects from digital data. As the industry advanced, so did the popularity and affordability of this technology. Today, 3D printing is taking business by storm: growth in this field is expected to expand by 31% each year (to a projected $21 billion market in 2020!).

Create What You Imagine

What is 3D printing?

A 3D printer is a manufacturing tool used to create three-dimensional objects that have been designed on a computer. Once an object is designed, it can be imported into software specific to the printer in use, which will slice the parts and send the printer a list of paths and directions to create the item. 3D printers have a wide range of shapes, sizes, and types, but all of them lay down (or “cure”) materials layer by layer, fusing them to create a three-dimensional object.

In today’s competitive business environment, marketing that brings individuality can certainly hit home. 3D print marketing campaigns are distinct, original, and a whole lot of fun. Here are three examples of companies that have gone the extra mile with 3D print:

  • Coca-Cola invited consumers to create mini versions of themselves in a gamified mobile app to promote its mini coke bottles. Photographs of users were transformed into images for a 3D model and sculpted into tiny statue keepsakes made of colored sandstone.
  • Nokia made a 3D printing kit available for its customers, enabling them to print customized covers for its Lumia 820 (later surprising several bloggers during the Mobile World Congress with a 3D-printed case showing their blog’s Twitter avatars).
  • In 2014, BelVita breakfast biscuits decided to turn tweets into action with its #MorningWin campaign. Fans who tweeted their morning success stories were eligible to win a 3D-printed trophy depicting their tweet in action. BelVita also turned submissions into a series of funny videos. Overall, #MorningWin generated 80 million social media impressions and over 11,000 new Twitter followers. Sales increased by 104% in one year!

A Hands OFF Process

3D printing allows designers to go straight from concepts to physical models while bringing ideas to life in a very short time.

3D printers employ a variety of materials, including plastics, polymers, steel, titanium, gold, and ceramic. This versatility means 3D printed models can be used for everything from artistic sculptures to personalized jewelry or even custom prosthetics and airplane components. Even 3D scans of individual people can be printed and modified to suit the end recipient.

As this technology progresses, entrepreneurs will find that their products may be as distinct as each client, and as wild as their ability to imagine. With 3D print, almost anything will be possible to dream, to draft, and to do!

Save-the-Date Door Hangers

A GREAT WAY TO SPREAD THE WORD TO LOCAL RESIDENTS

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Save-the-date door hangers are a great way to spread the word to local residents about an upcoming community event or block party, new business announcement, upcoming sales, fundraisers, and much more.

Here are a few tips to ensure the biggest bang for your door hanger buck:

    • Consider including a label for recipients to add to their calendar as a conveniently added reminder.
    • Design your door hanger with a tear-away coupon or tear-away customer loyalty card as incentives to visit your business.
    • Increase the life of your door hanger by affixing a magnet to the back, including a calendar, or a tear-away business card with contact information on one side and event details on the other side.
    • Consider using save-the-date door hangers as a creative way to invite internal employees to a celebration. Create excitement in the office by hanging invites on each office door.
    • Consider a folded door hanger to increase your promotional space.

If you’d like help creating the perfect save the date door hanger, visit our website: http://www.sjprinter.com or call: 856-429-0715! And remember, other printers may be nearby, but no one comes close.