The Communication of Change Keys to Meaningful Change

Hand flip wooden cube with word "change" to "chance", Personal development and career growth or change yourself conceptThe oil crises of the 1970s rocked many industry giants, including the transportation industry.

In 1981, British Airways was reeling from massive financial losses and a reputation for terrible service. Nearing meltdown, the airline brought on a new chairperson, Lord King, who quickly spotlighted three areas where the company was operating inefficiently: careless spending, disorganized staffing, and inadequate communication. King’s leadership quickly produced results. After only ten years, the company became the largest airline in the UK, reporting the highest profits in its industry ($284 million, to be exact!).

What was the key to this turnaround?

Large-scale organizational change. King made major structure changes, including a reduced workforce (from 59,000 to 39,000), elimination of unprofitable routes, modernization of the existing fleet, and marketing upgrades to revamp the airline’s image.

Did King make these massive changes by crossing his fingers and wishing for the best? Hardly. British Airlines combined accurate research with a clear strategy that informed their decisions and overcame resistance.

Discontentment: The Shadow Side of Success

One thing King had in his favor was discontentment, which was at an all-time high.

While many of us believe contentment is key to a happy life, sometimes pain (including frustration with “business as usual”), is a gateway to greater fulfillment. Experts find that a shadow side of successful people is this common personality trait: they struggle with perpetual discontentment. Forbes columnist Brianna Weist says this:

“There is a difference between people who are content and people who are successful, and it is because the latter push themselves whereas the former tries to sustain the status quo. Without a certain measure of growth or expansion, the human mind gets bored, or tired. This will, eventually, lead to a tipping point at which the content person becomes discontent… and then change is made.”

Change as a Formula

Pain moves us: to make radical shifts, to take risks we wouldn’t otherwise consider, and to get the full potential out of life.

Dissatisfaction, combined with a skill set and action plan, can be the most essential agent for change. But far-reaching change can be tricky to maneuver, requiring precise timing and a thoughtful strategy.

Organizational change experts David Gleicher and Kathie Dannemiller coached change strategists with a model that looks something like this:

  • If change were a formula, it is this: “D * V * PF > R” (Dissatisfaction * Vision * Preferred Future > Resistance)
  • Dissatisfaction paired with a vision for a preferred future motivates people to overcome resistance to change.
  • To catalyze change, an idea or product must possess a clear path for a breakthrough while fanning the flame of frustration with the current state of being. If the product of those three factors is greater than the existing resistance, change will occur.

What This Means For Your Business

It means you can relax, even when people are unhappy!

Intentionally listen to your employees and customers and consider rising frustration as the first step to positive change. Use the change model to evaluate whether the time is right to communicate early steps towards meaningful shifts. Find healthy networks or professional development opportunities where you can reflect on industry trends, process leadership ideas, and analyze competitors to identify areas of opportunity.

Finally, cut yourself some slack if you feel irritated with your own areas of personal frustration. Great futures can come from great pain, so allow your dissatisfaction to chart a course toward exciting new destinations. You’ve got this!

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Takeout Menus: Functional and Promotional

GettyImages-86508173.jpgMost restaurant owners know that their menu is one of their top selling tools.

While this may surprise the average consumer, restaurant managers often use their menu to upsell pricey items such as appetizers, drinks, and side items. The placement of each item within the menu is of the utmost importance, and even small changes can cause a jump in sales of ten percent or greater — or a similar-sized drop in sales if item placement doesn’t work for buyers!

Printed takeout menus are still one of the best printed promotional tools that restaurants can use. Consumers are more interested in ordering food ahead of time for takeout, and having a menu visible when hunger hits really boosts your brand to the top of your consumer’s mind. See how takeout menus are one of the most functional and valuable tools for your restaurant business.

Strategically Situated Items

Restaurant menus are highly tailored, and often tweaked multiple times a year by consultants or managers to ensure that consumers are selecting items that are the most profitable and pleasing to their tastes.

If a menu isn’t easy to read, consumers can become confused and take additional time before placing their order, which may lead them to look elsewhere.  Guests are easily confused and overwhelmed when there are too many choices presented. Restaurants often try to limit their choices to a maximum of seven options per food segment to reduce the chance that people will default to a known option that may be less expensive.

Shifting Consumer Habits

Rachel V. noticed that her restaurant was gaining significantly higher dollars from takeout orders than at any time in the past.

In order to capitalize on this trend, Rachel decided to work with her local print shop to create a friendly takeout menu that highlighted a variety of their in-house favorites that were less likely to lose quality if they were boxed and transported elsewhere.

While customers were welcome to order anything on the main restaurant’s menu for takeout, the items the team added to the takeout menu were the “recommended” options. Rachel decided that not only could she use the menu as a functional piece that listed their phone number to call ahead for orders and the appetizers and entrees that they offered, but also as a promotional vehicle to offer seasonal discounts and special deals.

Smart Menu Design

Rachel knew that creating a takeout menu with enough food variety to interest her clientele was important.

With the limited amount of space available on the printed takeout menu, Rachel decided to leverage the space by putting visual cues around the most expensive items. This served to set these foods apart and draw the eye with small pockets of negative space.

She also decided to get a little creative with the descriptions of the food that she added to the menu. Oddly enough, she soon noticed that these menus were drawing in new customers — customers who were purchasing some of the higher-priced options that her traditional visitors were not necessarily drawn to.

As time went on, Rachel continued playing with the options that were on her restaurant’s takeout menu. Seasonal favorites were added, coupons made an appearance, and special items were a high point for returning customers who valued the convenience of being able to order their food ahead of time. The small print runs offered by her local print shop allowed her the flexibility that she needed to test, adjust and test again!

Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content

GettyImages-685165732.jpgIn the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But no matter how glamorous the graphics, they simply cannot stand alone. (Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, right?) Today, we’re looking at this question: How do you write exceptional copy? Content that commands attention, arouses interest, or compels people to action? Last week, we discussed slogans and sensory appeal. Today we’ll consider one final, fun technique.

Jaw-Dropping Surprises

Remember the “no way!” stunner at the end of The Usual Suspects? Kevin Spacey shakes off his signature limp and strides to freedom as his police interrogator gradually realizes Spacey is a mastermind killer who lied brilliantly for hours. Or remember how your jaw dropped when Darth Vader revealed he was Luke’s father? While these movie plots were phenomenal, the surprise factor was what drove them home.

That same principle applies in writing. As Chip and Dan Heath discuss in their book “Made to Stick,” our brains filter out consistency to focus on differences. Marketing “surprises” may include splashy headlines, shocking graphics that bring your message to life, or a story that encapsulates a core message.

In 2009, copywriter James Chartrand of a prominent website design company “Men with Pens,” dropped a bombshell on the writing world with this plot twist:

“Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants.”

Chartrand went on to reveal that SHE was actually a (literal) woman, a woman who had previously struggled as a freelance writer and single mom. As she labored to gain credibility, she decided to experiment with a male pseudonym, and quickly found her blog in Micheal Stelzner’s list of the Top Ten Blogs for Writers. Chartrand’s biography post was brilliant, authentic, and fun. But the surprise factor (that “he” was really a “she”) was the kicker that kept people talking about the company for years.

While you may not be able to drop a bombshell in all your copy, you can upend reader expectations in three other ways:

First, break the norm whenever you can. Offer unconventional advice, provide simple techniques or little-known shortcuts, or use angles you would normally avoid (like blatant typos in upscale literary magazines like we mentioned in part one). In life, and especially in art, people crave the unexpected. Surprise people consistently and you will be rewarded!

Second, defy expectations. Writers can do this is with odd pairings or disrupted patterns. For example, serene words like spa, relax, and peace can be disrupted by words like devastate or scandalize. Avoid traditional clichés (knight in shining armor, white as snow) in favor of words that overhaul expectations. A spa ad could feature odd word combinations like scandalizing serenity, gluttonous, self-gratification, or services that are devastatingly delicious. Surprise them as you shatter clichés or use tonal dissonance that is abrasive to the ears.

Finally, build a logical flow and then intentionally disrupt it. Check out these “surprise factor” car advertisements that perfectly illustrate the point. A romance spoiled. A hero thwarted. Ridiculous ideas grab us as things are placed out of context (like dogs driving a car). As you watch these clips, consider what you thought was going to happen versus what actually happened. Pay attention to the emotion you experienced when the surprise was unveiled. Did you enjoy it? Of course you did! And you’ll remember it longer as a result.

Whether it’s a plot twist, shattered clichés, or unexpected humor, readers crave fresh content and they will thank you for providing it. Now go create some surprises of your own!

An Honest Smuggler

kirkLong ago, James the smuggler was leading a donkey with large bundles of straw on its back. An experienced border inspector spotted James coming toward the border. “Stop, sir. What is your business here?” he asked James. “I am an honest smuggler,” James replied with a smile. “Well, I need to search those straw bundles. If I find something, you are required to pay a border fee,” the border agent said. “No problem,” James replied. “You won’t find anything in those bundles.”

The inspector searched the straw thoroughly but couldn’t find anything. He was suspicious, yet he let James pass the border. The next day, James came to the border again with his straw-carrying donkey. The border agent thought “I’ll get him for sure this time,” as he thoroughly searched the straw, James’ clothing, and the donkey’s harness. But once again he came up empty-handed and let James pass. This happened again and again for many years.

After the border inspector retired, he ran into James and asked, “It’s been driving me crazy for years… I must know what you were smuggling across the border!” James simply smiled at him and said, “donkeys.”

Here’s the way I see it: The only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability. Give us a call if you’d like help ensuring your marketing efforts don’t feel like marketing.

Change Your Scenery, Change Your Outlook

GettyImages-673592950.jpgOn the sixth floor of a Boston office building, a sprawling Art Deco lounge gives way to a row of small, glass-walled offices. While the offices seem identical, the residents are not. As you stroll down the hall, you’ll encounter data scientists developing smart-home technology, tech rooms packed with drones and virtual reality headsets, a venture capital start-up, or even employees of Amazon, General Electric, or Liberty Mutual insurance. What do they have in common? A desire to change scenery and synergy through shared office space.

“Moving out of the corporate office empowered us to think and work differently,” said Adam L’Italien, Liberty Mutual’s director of innovation.

While Liberty wasn’t short on space, three years ago the company moved its Boston-based innovation center to a rent-by-the-month office space called “WeWork.” WeWork is one player in a co-working explosion in Boston. Since the start of 2017, co-working operators have leased 1.3 million square feet of office space for collaborative bullpens that attract smart young workers. Collaborative spaces offer employees the flexibility to work remotely, ease in moving around the city (versus locking into a longer lease), and the creative energy co-working can bring. Ann Smarty of Entreprenuer says this:

“Co-working allows you the opportunity to network and collaborate with a wide range of bright minds. Proximity gives you the chance to ‘pick the brains’ of professionals in your own line of work as well as those in related fields. Working across the desk from someone with a completely different skill set can help you discover a new source of ideas . . . (and) you might find your brain is starting to work in different ways, too! Taking the risk to invite others to work alongside you breathes new life into the creation process and shows in the finished product.”

Relationships: Our Most Valuable Resource

Whether it’s networking or collaborating, we know that together we can achieve things we never would alone. Business is constantly changing, and collaboration can shape insightful new perspectives. So where does meaningful networking fall in your list of professional priorities?

A recent LinkedIn study revealed that 70 percent of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a previous connection. But while 80 percent of professionals consider networking to be important to career success, 38 percent said they find it hard to stay in touch with their network.

What is one natural, rewarding way to overcome this obstacle? Doing business locally.

While it can be difficult to plug into regular networks or co-working opportunities, connected local communities are a great avenue for inspiration, feedback, and opened doors in the future. And vibrant local business relationships are a refreshing antidote to the isolation of the daily grind!

The Best Business is Born From Relationships

They say your “net worth” is only as good as your “network”. Local business partnerships foster a thriving business community that empowers us to grow in our goals, to collaborate on custom solutions, and to connect with important relationships and resources. It is our privilege to serve you, building a trusted partnership so that your print experience is better every time.

As you print here at home, we guarantee timely, best quality work from a printer who personally knows your product preferences, your past print specs, and the tailor services you’ve come to enjoy. As a bonus, staying networked with local businesses is thought-provoking, energy-boosting, and empowering! We enjoy our clients and look forward to great conversations with you this year. Thank you for your business.

Printed Reminders Keep Sales on Track

GettyImages-683737016.jpgRemembering to go to the doctor or dentist’s office was much simpler back in the day when nearly everyone had a printed calendar. You would go home after a visit and immediately add your next visit to your calendar. The complexities of life today means that it can be tough to keep track of everything, even if you’re putting follow-up visits in your smartphone. The cost of a missed office visit can really add up over time, causing professionals to lose thousands of dollars per year. The tiny cost of creating a simple printed reminder that can be saved to your patients’ fridge provides an extra touch point for busy individuals.

Improved Experiences

Improving the experience of patients in today’s competitive environment may mean the difference between a growing and robust practice and one that dwindles away over the years. One physician’s office saw the benefits firsthand when Dr. Marcus L. decided to implement small printed reminders for his patients. As a family health practitioner, Dr. Marcus would often require follow-up visits with patients after their blood work was returned to review their results. Many patients would forget about this check-point, costing his staff time and money due to blank spots in their schedules with no billable time.

Boosting Revenue

Dr. Marcus was already working with a local print shop on some flyers for an upcoming health fair, and his account manager heard his woes and recommended a short-term test of some printed reminders. Dr. Marcus agreed and printed up a 3 month supply of the small reminders for his staff to pass out to patients. What he discovered after that test period was quite surprising! His staff helped track the number of empty slots. He discovered that there were 25% fewer empty slots on his schedule due to the reminders!

Printed reminders help keep patients and staff on track with follow-up visits for doctors and dentists — and could benefit many other professional offices as well! Think hairdressers, aestheticians . . . the list is endless!

How to Bring in Trade Show Traffic

GettyImages-887680492.jpgPicture this: it’s three weeks before your next trade show, and you’re no closer to formulating a plan of attack. Last year, the public milling about your booth was polite but lackluster. Your IT business may not be the most exciting one at the trade show, but you know you can do better. The good news is that you can. Here are some unique things you can combine with your print marketing efforts for maximum trade show results:

Look for Ways to Be Different

A company in Los Angeles called Finders Key Purse found they got the notice they wanted at trade shows by thinking slightly outside the box. Their product was aimed to make it easier for women to find their keys in their overflowing purses. Because they wanted to market their product primarily to college women, they decided to dress up as cheerleaders to make their booth both themed and identifiable.

The tactic had nothing to do with looking like a group of sorority sisters. The actual staff of the company was mostly composed of older women. With tennis shoes and silly outfits, they looked fun, friendly, and focused. You certainly don’t have to dress up as cheerleaders to gain attention to your IT booth. But you may want to come up with a way to give your company a fresh makeover when it comes to your trade shows. Clothing is one major way that you can set your company apart, but it’s certainly not the only way.

Stock Up on Freebies

Trade show freebies are some of the best parts of going to a trade show. Practically every company is giving out some type of gadget or item with their name splayed all over it. These are a great way to get noticed because it provides immediate gratification and keeps your company name front and center.

And of course, you’re going to need a friendly staff and excellent printed materials. Once you hook people in with a little gimmick, you have the opportunity to introduce your business and give people an idea of how you can really help them get where they’re going.

Thinking Like a Child

kirkOne Sunday morning, a class of first graders was learning a lesson on the plan of salvation. The teacher was testing her class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven, and asked the class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale, and gave all my money to the church, would I get into heaven?”

“No!” all the children exclaimed.

The teacher asked again, “What if I went to church every Sunday, helped clean the church every week, and mowed their yard; then would I get into heaven?”

Again, the students exclaimed, “No!”

Feeling proud of their answers, the teacher smiled and asked her students, “Then, how can I get to heaven?”

One boy confidently answered, “You’ve gotta be dead!”

Here’s the way I see it: There is joy and wonder everywhere when you see the world through the eyes of a child. Give us a call if we can help with your next printing project so that you can focus on more important things in life.

Coupons that Count Persuasive Promotions Can Transform Browsers to Buyers

GettyImages-92235929.jpgAre you the child of a parent who meticulously clipped coupons to pinch pennies?

As the pace of life has accelerated, the frequency of in-store couponing has decreased, in part because online coupon codes and apps have blossomed.

But coupon promotions are not a thing of the past!

According to the 2017 Holiday Shopper Report, 92 percent of consumers say promotions influence their holiday purchasing decisions. And coupons can be the catalyst that converts people from browsing to buying.

So which types of promotions do your clients want, and how can you use them most effectively? Here are a few tips to sharpen your focus.

Keep it Simple and Straightforward

Have you ever tried to use a coupon only to find the fine print disqualifies almost every purchase? This “fake sale” frustration can turn off clients from your company for good. Keep your coupons and discounts simple – avoid the fine print and honor the effort consumers have made to connect with your business. The same goes for referral campaigns – if a customer provides a valuable referral, honor their effort with a quick, valuable, and personal token of thanks.

Try to keep things simple with your product presentation as well. Remember, an overload of options can lead to “analysis paralysis,” or situations where a customer finds it too difficult to decide which product or promotion is best. When it comes to numbers and features, promotions should be clear and compelling enough to comprehend at a glance.

Push the Freebies

Shoppers often value freebies more than they value discounts.

Whether you offer a “buy one, get one free” or you include a complimentary gift with a particular purchase, often a free item is more psychologically compelling than a percent discount that actually brings greater savings. Free stuff also warms the heart and builds goodwill with loyal customers. If a free product is too great a stretch, consider offering limited time offers for free shipping, gift wrapping, refills, or deliveries.

Price it Right

In his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, marketing professor Jonah Berger explains how our perception of numbers affects how we understand a discount price.

He called this theory, “The Rule of 100.” Berger’s research highlights two pricing cues:

  • A percentage discount off an item under $100 off will always look larger than the dollar discount. For example, 25% off of $75 appears larger than $18.75 off of $75.
  • A dollar discount on an item over $100 dollars will always look larger than a percentage discount. For example, $93.75 off of $375 appears larger than 25% off of $375.

Offer Tipping Points to Incite Action

A tipping point can be anything that creates urgency or builds customer confidence to the point they’re willing to pull the trigger.

As you craft coupons or print promotions, remember to highlight time-bound flash sales, limited product quantities, or how your promotion is most relevant to your customer’s calendar or budget cycle.

Alternatively, the right emphasis on product quality can also move prospects to bite because your item is “worth it” or because they “deserve it.” Discounts are great, but sometimes value is even better!

Make Your Move

Ready to transform your browsers to buyers? Printed inserts and coupons are a great way to make your offers leap off the page! We’ll help you craft clear, compelling, visually stimulating promotions that reel in prospects and keep your loyal customers coming back again and again!

How Building Effective Teams Can Supercharge Your Business

GettyImages-881068442.jpgTeam building can be an overused cliche in business circles, but there is something truly magical about what a cohesive team can create together. Individuals working alone are able to contribute specific tasks towards a goal, but a team working together adds energy and power to push their achievements higher. This is one of the reasons there are so many books and manuals focused on building effective teams. If you have never seen this in action you may not believe the synergy that can be attained — it is almost like a force of nature. See how building effective teams will maximize employee productivity and happiness as well as helping you retain your hardest workers.

Effective Teams Bring Their “A” Game

A Gallup article from a few years ago stated that up to 70% of employees are showing up to work disengaged, costing the American economy billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. When you find ways for these individuals to connect to one another, they become invested in seeing each other become successful. Engaged, enthusiastic employees are ones who are constantly looking for ways to innovate and exceed expectations. If you could move the needle on even 20% of your mediocre performers, the impact to your bottom line would be significant.

Effective Teams Provide Diverse Ideas

The age-old saying that ‘two heads are better than one’ is extremely valid in today’s business world. The complexity of ideas and interconnectedness of our systems means that it is difficult for any one person to have the knowledge needed to innovate and excel. Bringing together your team in a safe space allows for the free flowing of ideas between members — and the ability to synthesize these great ideas into something actionable for leadership.

Effective Teams Blow Through Restraints

Where one person working alone may be worried about going down a specific — and potentially risky — path, a cohesive team has the bravery to take the leap. These leaps are what drive lasting change in an organization. Without this shared risk-taking and an ability to literally blow through restraints, your business can become stuck in the rut of doing things the way they’ve always been done.

Effective Teams Inspire Others

Let’s face it, everyone wants to be a part of a winning team. When you see one team that seems to get all the awards, recognition and respect, you want to see what makes them special. Many times, it’s their ability to work effectively together and collaborate to achieve a shared vision and goals. When one team in your organization is able to attain this level of cohesiveness, it will inspire and motivate others to do the same. This breeds a more positive working environment for all.

Effective Teams Have Fun Together

When work ceases to be work and becomes something that you enjoy doing during the day, you are able to devote your heart more fully to the tasks at hand. This joyful passion shines through in everything that you do. Ineffective teams can cause this light to dim, but having fun together can create a bond where individuals connect at a deeper level.

There are so many ways that effective teams create a sum that is greater than the individual parts. When the team truly works together as a single unit, the strengths of each person are multiplied allowing for an oversized impact on your organization’s effectiveness. Bring your teams together if you want to truly supercharge your business!

Get Proactive With These Summer Marketing Ideas for Outdoor Events

Family Relaxing At Outdoor Summer EventWith school ending and summer starting, adults and children alike will be spending as much time as possible outdoors at home and community events. In most locations, summer weekends are chock full of local and regional events that attract a wide array of people. Some events attract local residents of a community or region, while larger events can bring tourists into an area for a few hours, day or an entire weekend.

Summertime creates both opportunities and challenges for marketing to clients. While you may have more opportunities to provide products and materials for events, getting customers to walk in your front door is more difficult. Customers who like to participate in summer activities spend as much time as possible out of doors including taking vacations, days off and leaving early. So how do you take advantage of summertime doings instead of having them take advantage of you?

Opportunities

Let’s start with the opportunities. Since people are out and about during summer at farmer’s markets, fairs and concerts, you may run into clients in one or more of these casual setting simply by participating in them yourself. You should always be ready to hand out marketing materials everywhere you go, especially if most of your clients are local. Fill a pouch or tote with apropos marketing handouts for people you meet when out. Handouts should be family-friendly and summer appropriate such as:

  • Water bottles
  • Water toys
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Visors
  • Hats

If you give out marketing items that people actually will use in the summer, they will love getting them which puts your contact information in front of them for at least that day. Parents will also love anything that you hand out to occupy their children’s time such as foam fingers or other toys.

Beat the Heat

If handing out materials isn’t appropriate for an event, another idea is setting up a mister tent to help people beat the heat. In fact, handheld fans, water bottles (with water in them), squirt guns and other products that help people cool off will always be appreciated by prospects. Just be sure that your logo and contact information is big and bold. Misters are so delightful during hot summer events that they are very popular with all ages. To engage prospects, hand them small towels with your logo and information to dry off after they get wet.

Keeping Drinks Cool

For food events, cup or can holders that insulate are a fantastic handout. Arrange with food vendors to give them to every customer that gets a drink. Or create event promotional materials such as cups that have a coupon imprinted on them. The ultimate goal is to invite people into your brick-and-mortar business or visit your website, so a coupon offer for a free or discounted service is ideal for giveaways.

Challenges

The biggest challenge for marketers during summertime is to drive customers indoors to your business. People are inclined to spend time outside during warm weather. Additionally, customers may be out of the office for a significant number of days and can’t be reached. Therefore, it is important to think outside the box creatively to find prospects and offer them an incentive that will overcome their reluctance to come in. Every locale has one or more special events unique to that area. Go out of your office to where you will find crowds of people and offer them something that they can’t wait to use.

Branding Equity: What It Is and How to Build It

GettyImages-849106564.jpgCarl is a business owner who is experiencing firsthand just how much the internet has revolutionized the consumer buying process. It used to be that a simple look at your products’ features was enough to sway consumers to make a purchase. But now, it’s all about the brand. In fact, Carl’s brand has become his most valuable asset. That is why he is doing all that he can to build his brand equity and distinguish himself from his competition.

What is brand equity?

Brand equity is what your business is worth without its inventory. Or, more simply stated, it’s about how valuable your brand is in the eyes of consumers and the relationships that you have with your customers.

To build brand equity, you must leave a lasting, positive impression regarding your brand in the minds of consumers. Your products and services and their demand and usefulness, of course, play a role in how well you can satisfy your customers, but they alone do not generate brand equity.

Top Tips for Using Marketing to Build Brand Equity

The steps outlined below are not in any particular order. They are three examples of essential steps that Carl has used to build brand equity, and each of them is an ongoing process. You don’t build brand equity overnight, and then suddenly get to take a vacation. You must work at creating this type of equity on a daily basis just like Carl has done.

  1. Release Information About a New Product

You can have a quality product that you know consumers will want to purchase, but they have to know about it first. This is why you should always distribute information about your products. Whether it be creating a product brochure or a how-to guide that goes into the packaging of a new product, you will want to provide as much detail as possible. In fact, Carl has found that the more in-depth and more detailed his brochures and how-to guides are, the more engaged his customers are.

  1. Monitor Trends and Perform a Competitive Analysis

Building brand equity means you can adapt to changes as they occur, especially changes related to new trends that hit the marketplace. The best way to monitor trends is to keep a close eye on Google searches. You will also want to perform a competitive analysis to see how your competitors are keeping up with the latest trends. Chances are, you can benefit from employing many of the same tactics your competitors are using. Carl, for example, performed a competitive analysis and discovered three of his competitors were enjoying an increase in sales by offering seasonal discounts. Carl then went to a local print shop and had 1,000 business cards printed with a discount code on the back. Over the period of six months, the discount generated an eight percent increase in his sales.

  1. Collect, Use and Distribute Customer Feedback

Lastly, since brand equity is all about how you appear in the eyes and minds of consumers, you will want to use their feedback and respond to it appropriately. Carl publishes his customers’ feedback in the brochures and how-to guides he creates. Customer testimonials have been proven to be a huge asset in generating sales.

The Company You Keep

kirkHere’s a little story I thought you might enjoy about the company you keep.

A family of parrots had a large, cozy nest in a tree. One morning, when the parents were gone to gather food, a hunter took the two young birds from their nest. One of the birds managed to escape and flew away from the hunter. The bird who escaped joined a loving family and grew up listening to kind words and compassion. The bird who was caught was put into a small cage and heard nothing but harsh, angry words from the hunter.

One day, a passing traveler stopped to rest outside the hunter’s shack. Sensing that someone was outside the window, the parrot exclaimed, “Fool, what are you doing here? Leave, or I’ll cut your throat!” Scared for his life, the traveler continued on his journey and wound up at the farm where the other parrot was. The parrot gently said, “We welcome you, traveler! You are free to stay here as long as you’d like.”

Surprised at his kindness, the traveler told the kind parrot about the mean parrot he encountered down the road. “How is he so cruel and harsh, and you are so kind?” the traveler asked. The parrot explained, “That must be my brother. While I was lucky enough to find a loving family who taught me their ways, sadly, he was taught by the hunter.”

Here’s the way I see it: We are the company we keep. Dr. Steve Maraboli said it best, “If you hang out with chickens, you’re going to cluck; and if you hang out with eagles, you’re going to fly.”

Please consider us for a quote on your next printing project. We promise to help make your sales soar!

Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen The Courage to Connect

GettyImages-952769054.jpgWhen research professor Brené Brown opened up to a TedxHouston audience about shame, vulnerability, and courage, she had no idea her message would become one of the most wildly popular TEDx talks of all time (with over 24 million views). Brown has spent the last ten years studying the power of authenticity and empathy, and poses wonderful questions like these:

  • How do we embrace vulnerabilities and imperfections so we can live from a place of authenticity and worthiness?
  • How can we engage people in a way that makes them feel worthwhile, brave, and willing to commit to something bigger than just a project or deadline?
  • How can we choose courage over comfort, stretching our team to connect in ways that powerfully motivate everyone?

Every Extrovert Can Learn to Listen

Brown’s work hits home in the hearts of many who long for authentic relationships and want to see this come alive in their workplace. While there are many hindrances to open communication, one of the greatest barriers is simply our personality differences. Over half the population are considered introverts, but research shows that introverts make up only two percent of senior executives. Which gives extroverts a great opportunity to do lots of talking. But studies show that business leaders who prioritize listening are perceived as considerably more effective than those who dominate the conversation.

Invite Them to Engage

We all have room to grow, and great interactions begin with intentional listening. Here are three ways to quiet your mouth and open your ears as you seek to engage others in meaningful ways:

  1. Start every meeting with a question.

Imagine yourself standing before your team with an invitation instead of a megaphone.

Seek to motivate conversation rather than charging into a meeting with a tight-fisted agenda. Opening your gatherings with dialogue can shake out the nerves and cobwebs of the entire team, sparking creativity and building interpersonal collateral. Increasing dialogue can catalyze more “green light” brainstorming and bring a fresh, life-giving dynamic to your entire company. When you formulate meeting agendas, push yourself to start with a prompt and to leave more tangible space for discussion.

  1. Listen with action.

How can you show your teammates their insights really matter?

Often people are tentative about sharing constructive criticism, fearing negative repercussions or believing “nothing will really change.” Great leaders surround themselves with those who will give honest feedback, and they intentionally close the “listening loop” by following up with some sort of action. Close a meeting by thanking your team for their honesty, or sending personal e-mails telling them you valued their input. Make a list of things to look into, review, or change, and add timelines to these goals so your ideas aren’t lost in the weekly grind. Even if you can’t implement suggestions, make a point to tell people they are valuable and you have actually heard what they are saying.

  1. Embrace vulnerability as a step toward courageous communication.

What do you do when someone asks you a question you can’t answer? Saying, ‘I don’t know” can be the most significant reply of all.

When you acknowledge your limitations, it opens the door for your teammates to step in and shine or to admit their own uncertainties or frustrations. Vulnerability can grow powerful partnerships and prompt growth in areas you hadn’t previously targeted. Ultimately, vulnerability builds engagement, which grows teams and enriches the atmosphere. Push yourself toward bold, transparent communication, and you may be surprised at the results. Brene Brown says it like this:

“Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s the most accurate measurement of courage.”

Ready to open a new pipeline of thoughtful teamwork and open communication? Be brave, be intentional, and sometimes . . . just be quiet.

Everyone Is Looking to Save a Dollar: How Discounts can Improve Your Sales Revenue

GettyImages-809095240.jpgMany businesses look at offering discounts as a method for losing money. But, what they don’t realize is discounts actually generate revenue and improve their brand equity. Let’s take a closer look at how discounts increase sales and can put you a step ahead of your competitors.

Improve Sales Revenue

First and foremost, discounts, whether they come in the form of online codes or paper coupons, will draw the attention of consumers to your business. They increase traffic and, most times, lead to a sale. Even better is that while customers are using their discounts codes on your website or in your store, they tend to look around at other products and services you have for sale, which can further boost your sales.

Spread Brand Awareness

By offering discounts, you are putting your company’s brand name into the minds of consumers. Even if consumers don’t come to your store to use a discount, your brand name will at least be implanted into their minds. Also, if they don’t take advantage of a discount, they may know someone who can and offer to let them use their discount code, which only expands your brand awareness even more.

Increase Social Media Fans and Followers

Everyone is out to save a dollar. When they come across companies that offer great discounts, they tend to look them up on social media and either hit the Like or Follow buttons. And if you’ve ever used social media, then you know that when one of your friends hits the Like or Follow button, it shows up in your newsfeed. When you offer discounts, you have the potential to greatly increase your social media fans and followers.

Build a Strong Reputation

Consumers really love purchasing products and services from companies that offer regular discounts, like military and senior citizen discounts. As you continue to offer these discounts on a regular basis, you will build a strong reputation for your company and showcase to the public that you are a socially responsible organization.

Clear Out Space for New Inventory

Have you ever wanted to bring in new products to sell but you didn’t have room because you had too much old inventory sitting around? One of the best ways to clear out this old inventory is by offering discounts. Having a weekend sale where you offer a 20% discount on the products you are trying to clear is an excellent way to:

  • Free up space
  • Increase sales
  • Spread brand awareness
  • Increase traffic to your store
  • Establish Loyal Customers

Your customers deserve a discount, especially if they do business with you on a frequent basis. This is why creating a loyalty reward program that offers returning customers a discount is essential to establishing long-term relationships with your existing customer base.

Meet Your Sales Goals

You know that to maintain a profit, you must meet your sales goals. Offering discounts may decrease profit margins for a bit, but they can most definitely help you meet sales goals to ensure you keep maintaining a profit. End of the season or end of the quarter discounts should be offered at least four times a year.

The Takeaway

Don’t be fooled into thinking that offering discounts are going to hurt revenue. It likely will do the exact opposite as well as bring several other advantages, like expanded brand awareness and the establishment of loyal customers

Top 5 Ways to Create an Eco-Friendly Workplace

Many organizations today are looking for ways to become more sustainable. While there are some pretty out-there options for going green, most businesses can find more moderate ways to reduce their overall impact on the environment. Improving the energy efficiency of your office is really only the first step as there are plenty of options such as rescheduling offsite meetings as a conference call and more. See how these eco-friendly workplace initiatives not only tell a great story for the public but also benefit your employees and other stakeholders.

1. Limit Disposables

Many offices have a shared kitchen or break room, and you might find them stocked with a multitude of plastic cutlery and plates. One quick way to make your office more eco-friendly is to limit the number of disposables that you use in the office. You can easily encourage staff to use coffee mugs instead of foam or paper coffee cups, spoons instead of stir sticks, and real silverware instead of disposable options. Getting everything washed up only takes a few seconds, but this small measure can have a dramatic impact in terms of saving our environment.

2. Ditch Bottled Water

One of the perks available in many offices is bottled water or other drinks. Water bottles are one of the key issues with overfilled landfills, and swapping from individual bottles to a filtered water system or larger bottles can make a significant difference in the long-term quality of life on the planet.

3. Use Recycled Materials

Whether you are updating some of your office’s interior or moving into a new place, look for ways to incorporate recycled materials in your office scheme. Using recycled materials allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and show your customers your commitment to doing something nice for the environment. Look for opportunities to recycle in all corners of your office — from using recycled paper for your business cards to upcycling older office chairs and furnishings.

4. Adjust Your Thermostat

Did you know that a single degree adjustment can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year based on the size of your office? Your employees are unlikely to even notice a small change of only a degree or two. You might be surprised to find that many of your staff actually appreciate not freezing in the summer and sweating bullets in the winter!

5. Update Your Appliances and Light Bulbs

Your appliances and light bulbs could be costing you money! That little red standby light that you can see on many electronics means that there’s actually a trickle of electricity pumping through at all times. Turning items completely off will save you energy.  Swapping traditional light bulbs for low-energy fluorescents is another eco-smart change!

Have you gained some inspiration for ways to make your office more eco-friendly? These easy tips are ones that — once you get in the habit — you’re unlikely even to notice are there. Some of the changes may even benefit your staff, and all will help make the world a better place to live both now and in the future.

Why Your Marketing Should Be Actionable Above All Else

GettyImages-819013660.jpgOne of the traps that even seasoned marketing veterans often fall into involves crafting collateral that has far too much information for its own good. Marketing messages start out simple enough, but as brands continue to grow and evolve, the marketing messages do the same until it can be difficult to remember what that short, sweet, actionable idea was in the first place.

And if you think your marketing has lost focus, just imagine how your audience members probably feel.

When your marketing starts to suffer from a lack of direction, it starts to become much too passive. Thankfully, the solution is simple – strip away the noise and focus on the action of it all. This, of course, requires you to keep a few key things in mind.

What is Actionable Marketing?

Think about your marketing the same way you would something like a call-to-action. A CTA is effective because it’s clear and concise. It tells your readers exactly what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and most importantly, what they’re going to get in return.

It’s a way for them to take the experience they’ve already had and elevate it to the next level by continuing their relationship with your people or your brand.

Passive marketing, on the other hand, does the exact opposite. People may see one of your flyers and become aware that your brand exists, but they’re not motivated to do much with that information. They certainly don’t know why they should care or what you can do for them that nobody else can. Passive collateral just… is. That, most definitely, is a problem.

To put it another way, every element of your collateral – from the color design of a flyer to every last word on a brochure – needs to be building towards the eventual action that you want someone to take. It’s like a CTA on a larger scale and rest assured, it pays dividends.

The Byproducts of Actionable Marketing

Actionable marketing requires you to target your audience. You need to know who people are, what demographics they fall into, what they like, and what they don’t like. You then have to address a specific need that they have and direct them to take your desired action.

If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because these are the types of things you should already be doing. Making action a priority simply allows you to double down on these efforts, allowing them to rise to the surface.

The real benefit of actionable marketing is precisely that – it creates its own momentum. It has an energy that passive content just can’t match. You can use that energy to create new opportunities for yourself, not only in terms of up-selling or cross-selling your products but also with regards to increasing the overall lifetime value of your customers.

Simply put, if your marketing content is active your customers will be, too, and that’s the type of opportunity you do not want to overlook.

5 Ways to Find the Strength to Try One More Time

GettyImages-698056614.jpgHave you ever wondered what it takes to become an Olympic athlete, a NASA astronaut, or a leader in a major organization?

The one trait that all of these individuals likely possess is persistence: the ability to get back up, dust themselves off after a fall, and keep trying. No matter your talent, regardless of your genius and irrespective of your education, persistence is often the trait that sets people apart from their peers in terms of their level of success.

Succeeding at anything in life requires a great deal of effort over a period of time — very few people simply decide to be the best at their craft and are able to do it without a battle. How do these individuals find the strength to try one more time . . . repeatedly?

1. Be Prepared

Planning for success helps you think through all of the reasons why someone would disagree with your ideas, and also gives you the bulletproof mentality that you’re prepared for any question that comes your way. Think of all the reasons why something won’t be successful, and then consider arguments against that point. Become your own devil’s advocate, and it will be that much easier to find a positive response and an open door for your next request.

2. Be Adaptable

Being adaptable provides you with the mental agility to not hide in a corner when you’re kicked to the curb. As Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle Corporation states:

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for people telling you that you are nuts.”  

You have to be willing to adapt your thinking and your processes and find a way to create change while not straying from your core ideas. You can’t listen to every naysayer, but you can look for the nuggets of wisdom that they share and use that information to your advantage the next time you try to move forward.

3. Be Confident

You may be surprised that confidence is not the first attribute we consider, but the reality is, you need to have a plan in place that you can trust and support before confidence will help you through to success. Confidence in yourself, your family, and your ideas — as well as a burning passion to make a change in the world — are what can help you continue on even when it feels as though there’s no path forward.

4. Do the Work

Unfortunately, there are few things in life that can replace hard work. Whether that hard work is from an athlete completing the same moves repeatedly for months or even years or a business leader who is told “No” more times than they can count, the ability to simply buckle down and execute on your vision is critical to long-term success.

5. Inspire Others

Perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do with your life is to inspire others to be their best. Take the time throughout your life to inspire others. When you realize how many people you have impacted and how many are watching your success, it’s a lot easier to find the strength to try again in difficult times.

Finally, in the words of Thomas Edison: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Shouldn’t you give it one more shot?

6 Steps To Customer-Centric Writing

LISTEN. SOLVE. REPEAT.

Most business owners come ingrained with a laser-like focus on their business. They’ll swell with pride and “shout it from the rooftops” to tell you about their newest, exciting product or service. However, like the majority of people in business, they tend to take a business-focused approach, focusing on promoting the features or specs of the product and making sure that you know how this new product or service is the best of the best.

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Herein lies the rub, as they say. While shouting it from the rooftops might seem like a good approach, customers don’t necessarily want to hear about your business. Instead, they want to hear about how your company will help THEM. They are more concerned that you understand their need and are offering a solution to address it.

Here’s where customer-centric writing and promotion comes in. Instead of writing with the focus on you and your business, you can stand out from the crowd by thinking about how your new product or service will benefit your customers. Writing with your client in mind demonstrates that you understand their needs and want to help them achieve their goals. Writing with empathy creates better connections, improved communication, and happier outcomes. Happy customers become your business’s greatest fans.

Here are six steps to help you shift your perspective to be more customer-centric:

  1. List at least three to five main features of your business.
  2. Arrange the list beginning with the most important feature.
  3. Now look at the list, select the first feature, and dig down to what that feature means to your customer. For example, if you are in the tire business and one of the features is that you’re within walking distance of a mall, then you might put “location” on your list.
  4. Step into your customer’s mindset. What does your location mean for them? How will it solve their problem? The benefit is they can drop off their car, shop, have lunch, or meet a friend instead of sitting in a dull waiting room.
  5. Take the next feature you listed and then go through the same process. Rinse and repeat with the rest of the features.

If you’ve never looked at your business this way before, it’s likely that you might not be sure of what your customers do want and need. How can you find out? That’s where tip #6 comes in. Even if you’ve been in business for a while and think you know the needs of your customers, it’s good to refresh your viewpoint.

6. Pay attention to the questions they have and ask them for more information about what they’re trying to do. Don’t assume you know what they want, find out by talking to them.

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Your customers are individuals, with goals and dreams unique to them. They come to you for help to make these happen. What does your company do for them? That’s the direction your marketing writing needs to take.

When you practice customer-centric marketing, you not only differentiate yourself from competitors, you establish the basis for customer loyalty, repeat business, and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Print Marketing Is About Selling Value, Not Services

GettyImages-826040844.jpgThere’s a common misconception that far too many marketers have that needs to be put to rest once and for all.

A lot of people still seem to think that if you’re really going to carve out a stronger competitive advantage for yourself in an increasingly crowded marketplace, you need to make your services appear objectively better than everyone else’s. You need to talk about how your products are better, stronger, faster, longer-lasting, more cost-efficient, etc. All this to steal as much attention away from your competition as you can.

In truth, that is a myth. You shouldn’t be selling services at all. You should be selling the value that those services provide. In other words, the thesis at the heart of your print marketing campaign shouldn’t be “here’s what I can do that nobody else can,” but rather “here’s what I can do for you.” Mastering this approach requires you to keep a few key things in mind.

Everything Begins and Ends With Your Customer

The art of selling value instead of services is one of those situations where buyer personas come in handy.

When you begin to come up with a buyer persona for your ideal customer, you try to add as much information about that person as possible. But once your persona has been completed, you shouldn’t be asking yourself, “Okay, what do I need to tell this person in order to convince them to give me money?” Instead, you need to get answers to questions like:

  • What problem does this customer have and how do my services solve it for them?
  • In what ways will that person’s life be easier after their purchase than it was before?
  • What does that person want to accomplish, and how can I help make that happen?

Then, you work your way back to the products and services that you’re trying to sell, thinking about the problem and positioning yourself as the solution.

A Whole New Approach

This is one of those areas where specificity will carry you far. Think about the individual portions of your sales funnel and what someone needs to hear at each one to move from one end to the other. Use this “value-centric” approach not to convince someone that the time is right to make a purchase, but to give them the actionable information they need to arrive at that conclusion on their own.

In the end, there are probably a lot of other companies in your industry who do what you do – but nobody does it in quite the same way. That key thing that differentiates you from so many others is the value that only you can offer and what should be at the heart of all of your marketing messages.

The Way I See It

kirkA kindergarten teacher was helping a boy with a math question and she asked, “If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?” The boy confidently answered, “Four.” Surprised, thinking the boy didn’t listen properly, the teacher asked again, “Listen closely this time… If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?” Seeing the look of disappointment on her face, the boy hesitantly replied, “Four.”

Assuming maybe the boy didn’t like apples, she asked, “If I give you one strawberry and one strawberry and one strawberry, then how many you will have?” He replied, “Three.” The teacher smiled victoriously and asked one more time, “Now, if I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?” Without missing a beat, the boy again replied, “Four.”

Confused and becoming slightly annoyed, the teacher asked how that could be possible. The boy smiled and replied, “Because I already have one apple in my bag.”

Here’s the way I see it: When someone gives you an answer that is different from what you expect to hear, don’t always assume they are wrong. If you’d like answers to all of your printing questions, we’re here to help!

Connecting Your Online and Offline Marketing Campaigns

GettyImages-674565164.jpgNo matter the industry your business operates in, it is imperative to connect online and offline marketing techniques. Many entrepreneurs have found that the better they market themselves offline, the more well-known they become online, and vice versa. For now, let’s take a closer look at how you can connect your online and offline marketing campaigns to improve lead generation and increase your sales revenue.

Tracking URLs Is a Must

Many website development service providers provide a variety of automated analytics that are simple to use and easy to understand. When you market yourself offline through print advertising, it’s a good idea to make sure to use unique tracking URLs for the links you provide in your ads and direct mail. In doing this, your web analytics can track how many people are coming to your site via the URLs on your offline marketing. You’ll love being able to see how well your offline marketing efforts are paying off, and these unique tracking URLs enable you to do this.

Promoting Yourself Online to Attract Offline Customers

Tom is a freelance writer and the majority of his clients connect with him online. They perform a search for freelance writers, and they hire him through his website or one of the content creation platforms he is featured on. Still, there are several clients that he has secured via offline tactics, including direct mail, trade shows, and conferences. To boost prospective clients’ awareness that he is going to be present at these events, he uses social media. Posting on social media can educate your prospects about the reasons they should connect with you at an offline event.

Use Your Social Media Profiles to Boost Brand Awareness

Any offline marketing materials you distribute should include your unique social media profile URLs. When a person connects with you via social media profiles, this shows up in their news feed, which is viewable by their friends and followers. Tom has had numerous clients tell him they became aware of his services due to a friend following him on one of his social media profiles. When advertising your presence on social media on your printing materials, make sure to include an actual URL to each of your profiles. If you only include a social media logo, this doesn’t help them find you on each platform.

Provide Coupons In Person to be Used Online

When marketing yourself offline, such as through direct mail, or at a tradeshow or conference, make sure you include printed coupon codes. There’s a good chance the people you give them to will stuff in them their wallets or lay them on their desks once they get back to the office. Either of these places is a great place for your coupon code to be because it will give them a reminder of your brand and the services you offer. More so, it will entice them to hop online and visit your site to make a purchase using the discount code you gave them.

The Takeaway

No matter the industry you are operating in, connecting your offline and online marketing efforts is crucial. As your business grows, you will quickly see how the two of these interconnect with one another. More importantly, the more you integrate the two together, the quicker you will become an industry leader.

Create Your Own Vanity URL

A SHORT VANITY URL THAT IS SPECIFIC TO YOUR COMPANY

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While many people use popular URL shorteners (like bit.ly or goo.gl), did you know you can create a short vanity URL that is specific to your company or product name?

A custom vanity URL provides consistent branding, no matter where your content is shared. It also creates link trust, meaning readers will feel more confident sharing your content from a source they trust. Examples of vanity URLs include: nyti.ms (The New York Times) or huff.to (The Huffington Post).

Here are steps to create your own vanity URL:

  • Choose a vanity URL that resembles your regular domain name and is less than 8 to 10 characters. Consider abbreviating your company name, removing vowels, or using initials. Domai.nr is a popular domain suggestion tool if you need ideas.
  • Choose a hosting service, such as Bit.ly – which offers very detailed stats about link sharing, clicks, and more.
  • Buy your vanity URL using any domain registration site, such as GoDaddy or iPage. For convenience, consider purchasing your vanity URL from the same place your website is hosted.
  • Set up the shortener. If you are using Bit.ly, go to “Account Settings” and then “Advanced.” Select either ‘Personal’ or ‘Business’ under the “Custom Short Domain” header and enter the vanity URL you purchased.
  • Create a DNS record for your new vanity domain. If you need help with this step, consider asking your domain registrar.
  • Verify your tracking domain to ensure all click traffic will appear on your dashboard. To set up your tracking domain in Bit.ly, go to the “Advanced” tab in Settings. Enter the domain name you want to track (your site’s long domain name) and verify that you own the domain.
  • Share! As long as you are logged into your Bit.ly account, any URLs from your long domain will be automatically custom-shortened.

If you’d like ideas or samples for creative print marketing tips, contact us today. We’d love to help.

The Difference Between CMYK and PMS Colors

PASS WITH FLYING COLORS

The complexity involved in color and how big of a difference various color profiles can make on your print project is something you’ll want to pay attention to. Is there a specific shade of orange or blue that is included in your logo? Depending on who created your logo, your color scheme may include CMYK colors, PMS colors, or both!

CMYK Colors

The term CMYK refers to the four ink colors that make up the schema: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, which is considered the key color. This particular model mixes together the three primary colors and includes black to produce darker shades. To create an image, printers define four separate plates that make up a full image. One plate is used for each of the four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) and is designed to lay down a very specific amount of pigment on the image. While this may sound like a simple way to print, it has worked effectively for hundreds of years.

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PMS Colors

PMS (or Pantone Matching System) colors are slightly different than CMYK colors because they are mixed before they are applied to a surface. The pure spot color, or PMS color, is a mixed ink that allows for a wider range of reproduced colors than the CMYK spectrum. Each PMS color contains a unique hue, which can be matched by a number that is associated with the Pantone Matching System of swatches. PMS inks are not laid in a dot pattern but can be screened in a halftone to produce a variety of shades

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Viewing Colors

Viewing either PMS or CMYK colors on a computer screen is a challenge due to lighting changes and the display variation. Fortunately, Pantone LLC provides a printed color chart for PMS colors that allows anyone to see the exact color that will be printed on your project. A unique set of numbers allows printers and customers to communicate effectively about what can be a challenging and variable subject: color. What looks like magenta to one person could easily be described as a red-purple by someone else — making it tough to describe specific colors without the common language available with PMS standards.

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Ready to get started on your next printing project? Our color professionals are experts at matching current color schemes or helping you find just the right shade to communicate your brand. Contact us today to learn more and get started on your next project!

How Has the Internet Changed Lead Generation?

GettyImages-536026639.jpgThere is no denying that technology has greatly revolutionized lead generation, especially in regard to the internet. Gone are the days of having to cold call prospects and knock on their doors. Sure, these tactics still work, but business owners are continually finding ways for lead generation to be more cost-efficient and effective. For now, let’s take a quick look at how the internet has changed lead generation and the many reasons you need to be taking advantage of technology to expand your customer base.

Artificial Intelligence Technology Enhances Lead Generation

Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence technology, you can engage with leads online like never before. In fact, you don’t even have to be the one engaging with them. An AI software program can do the engaging for you. Take, for example, if your website offers a chat feature. Before connecting the customer with an actual representative, artificial intelligence software can engage them in a natural-sounding conversation to determine which department the customer needs to be directed to.

Targeting Leads Has Become Incredibly Simple

When you distribute content, whether through direct mail print marketing or online, you need to have a specific target audience in mind. This target audience, of course, needs to represent people who are likely to be interested in the product/service you are selling. Thanks to the internet, it is now easier than ever to target leads.

It’s All About the Analytics

If you aren’t using analytics to track website visitors, you need to be. An easy-to-use tracking platform that is excellent for determining which pages on your site are performing the best is Google Analytics. There is a good chance the service provider that is hosting your site also provides some type of analytics to take advantage of. Regardless of the tracking tools you use, though, analyzing data on page performance can help you pinpoint which pages need to be further optimized and which ones need to be left alone. This enables you to improve time management because you can focus your attention on the pages that need improvement rather than wasting time on the ones that are already attracting quality leads.

Automated Email Sequencing

You want your emails to be as personable as possible to improve the odds of turning a cold lead into a warm lead, but you can’t accomplish this through a single email. Instead, you need to create an email sequence that is automated; this will engage your leads in a systemized manner and it allows you to warm them up to an offer.

The Takeaway

Your existing customers deserve your attention, but at the same time, you need to be focusing some of your operations on lead generation. Thanks to advancements in technology and the internet, it is now easier than ever to generate leads in a timely and cost-efficient manner. By deploying the four tips outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to capturing leads and improving customer satisfaction at the same time.

6 Over the Top Things to Look for in Business in the Future

ThinkstockPhotos-502868039.jpgBusiness isn’t going anywhere. In fact, here’s where the most probable types of market exchange will happen with customers according to famous futurists:

  • Remember those Star Trek episodes where people used a transporter to go from place to place? In the future, it’s likely that business will use something similar to deliver goods, from your printed materials to food to durable products delivered right into a person’s room as ordered, bought, and sent from a business electronically.
  • Michio Kaku sees a technology-driven convergence of thinking, consciousness, and the internet. Instead of thinking of the internet as a tool, people will become the Net by connecting their brain to it for full immersion and interaction, as well as contributing to real-time synergies in information generation and use. Business, no surprise, will become far more intangible as a result, adapting to the mind-environment to keep pace with where the new demand exists.
  • Personal augmentation with technology will be commonplace. Just being a regular, average human being won’t be good enough. Instead, people will carry their technology within them. Not to be confused with “on” them, but tech actually integrated with their bodies. We won’t need a computer to design what we want to print; the idea will come straight from a digital connection to our minds translated to electronics and then produced by a vendor as we desired.
  • James Canton sees robots and artificial intelligence giving human-led business a run for its money due to the fact that robots and AI will be able to easily grind millions of bits of statistical data and produce probabilities of what consumers want well before any humans can realize that want or need on their own.
  • Some folks don’t even look at business in typical environments. Instead, Jason Silva sees cars becoming so advanced, our need to drive will be replaced by our need to get lots done in a car while it dries itself. And that includes business, generating new ideas, printing and producing inside a car, and getting work and life done while traveling from point A to point B every day. Business services will tailor themselves to people working remotely all over the place, delivering what they need where they are, and when they need it.
  • Finally, our bodies won’t necessarily want to live longer just because our technology advances. So instead of relying on a failing system, the medical community will embrace body part production and printing, creating organ replacements designed by computer to work specifically with an individual patient. The term “batch order” printing replacement organs will take on a whole new meaning in hospitals.

    Long story short, business will likely still be around years from now, but how it delivers goods and services to consumers will change dramatically.

A Bag of Tomatoes

kirkOne day, a school teacher asked each of her students to bring a plastic bag of tomatoes to school with the number of tomatoes equaling the number of people each child dislikes. Some children brought a bag of two or three tomatoes, while others had up to 20 tomatoes.

The teacher then told the children they had to carry the bag of tomatoes with them everywhere they went for two weeks. As the days passed, the children started to complain about the awful smell of the tomatoes, and some also complained about the heavy weight of the bag.

The teacher explained, “This is similar to what you carry in your heart when you dislike people. It makes your heart bitter, and the effects of negative feelings get heavier and stronger every day.”

Here’s the way I see it: Every time you let go of negativity in your life, you make room for positivity. Let us know if we can help with any upcoming printing projects so you can focus on the more important things in life.

Is Your Advertising Take You Up or Down?

ThinkstockPhotos-825180460.jpgMarketing and advertising can be quite costly. However, marketing can attract customers and earn you money. So, you need to be asking yourself “is your advertising taking you up or down?”

Let’s take a quick look at three of the best ways to make sure your marketing efforts are boosting your sales revenue instead of draining your budget for nothing.

1) Keep An Eye On Frequency Rates When Online

Advertising online can an effective way to reach a targeted audience. What you want to avoid, though, is blasting your ads multiple times to the same people. The more times the same consumer sees your ad, the more they will become annoyed by it. In fact, when the same person sees the same ad twice, the click-through-rate decreases by 8.91 percent. Seeing the same ad five times decreases the click-through-rate by 30 percent. And once they see the same ad nine times or more, the click-through-rate is cut in half. More important, the cost-per-click rate increases each time the ad is seen multiple times. This is why you need to check ad frequency  and mix up your marketing mix using other effective channels like print.

2) Switch Up the Background

Both your online and offline marketing campaigns can benefit from switching up ad background colors. Did you know that ads with the color blue tend to make consumers feel calm? Green brings about a sense of peace, while yellow ignites a feeling of happiness and optimism. With this in mind, you need to integrate these colors into your ads based on the feelings you are trying to invoke. For example, if you are advertising massage services, then you will, of course, want your background color to be blue or green to portray a sense of peace and calm. If you’re advertising a theme park or vacation services, then using yellow in your background to bring forth feelings of happiness and excitement will be effective.

3) Run Your Own Blog

One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to market your business is by running your own blog. Your blog can touch on a variety of topics, including articles discussing products you sell, tips for your using products, how to get good deals on your products, and how your products can be used to make your life simpler. The important thing is to make sure you are providing content to your readers that has value.

Once readers see that you are genuinely trying to make their lives better, they will come back to read your future blog postings. More importantly, they will be enticed to share your postings with other consumers, which is an excellent way to attract and secure new customers. Even better is that running your own blog is very affordable. In fact, if you’re a decent writer, you can write your own blog postings for free. If you don’t write, you can always hire a content creator to create the content for you.

5 Meeting Rules You’ll Actually Want to Adopt

GettyImages-861164910.jpgAre meetings something that you would consider magical at your organization? No? Why not? Aren’t meetings a place to collaborate, share ideas, dream big dreams and then make things happen?

Few business people would describe meetings using terms like actionable, positive, critical and focused . . . yet those are the terms that help define success in moving the organization forward.

Communication methods are imperfect as a whole. While you can create a business plan via a series of emails, it’s inefficient and the plan will often lack creativity. The same goes for one-on-one meetings. Team meetings are the ideal way to build energy and enthusiasm for a new idea and generate actionable outcomes, but without the proper structure, even these meetings can be considered wasted time.

Here are 5 rules that will help keep your meetings on pace, on target, and provide you with the successful outcomes that you need from your time together.

1. Start With An Agenda

No, you shouldn’t begin with ‘What will it take to fill an hour of team meeting time this week?’, because if that’s your first thought then you’re already sunk. Request that team members send agenda items at least 24 hours before the meeting time and consolidate them to form your agenda. Keep in mind the flow of topics, and be sure you’re leaving time for strategic conversations. Leave items that may fall into deep tactical minutiae to the end of your agenda.

2. Plan for Takeaways

Consider the consensus that you’re attempting to build with your meeting, or what your takeaway should be. Perhaps you need someone to volunteer for a new project, or you just need to inform a group about a direction that will impact their work. If you feel that there may be some pushback to your ideas within the room, look for a partner who will be in the meeting who can help support your point. If an item that was on your agenda doesn’t have a clear actionable, add it to a parking lot for a later date.

3. Keep Time Sacred

Time is money, and never is that more true than when you have 3-15 individuals in a room together meeting without a timeline or agenda. Based on your agenda, break down how long each portion of the conversation should take and allot time accordingly. If your meeting should only need 23 minutes, then schedule that much time — perhaps plus a few minutes extra. Be a stickler about keeping conversations in check and moving the agenda along to hit key points in your list.

4. Consider a Drive-By

Just need to chat with a few people about a simple topic? Instead of finding space and time for a full-fledged meeting, consider a 5-minute drive-by or stand up meeting. Grab a few people and huddle around a desk or common area, hash through your questions or concerns and let everyone get back to their day. In the same amount of time that you might take to walk and get a cup of coffee, you’ve made a decision, kept others updated on important points, and reduced the overall inefficiency of the day. The time for small talk can be over lunch; use these drive-bys to distill your ideas into the length of an elevator pitch. This may be uncomfortable for some people as it requires checking your ego at the door, but teams that are able to adopt these policies can become much more agile.

5. Keep it Moving

Always focus on the end result and what you need to keep your projects moving. This could be anything from an approval by a superior, someone agreeing to take on a task, or even consensus that you’re heading in the right direction. Capture takeaways and next steps, and most importantly — the name of the responsible party and when the result should be delivered. This will keep your meetings on task and team focused.

The word ‘meeting’ doesn’t have to be a negative concept. Instead, use these 5 meeting rules to adopt a culture of forward motion, positivity, and respect within the organization that will drive success both now and in the future. This isn’t a one-time change to how you approach meetings, but an organization-wide initiative to take back your time and productivity.

Repurposing Marketing Content

BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO YOUR BEST MARKETING CONTENT

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Why reinvent the wheel if you have great content available at your fingertips? You don’t have to create new content every day. Rather, you just have to get your existing content into the hands of more people. Here are some tips to breathe new life into your best marketing content:

 

  • Transform points from an article or blog into an infographic or chart that can be used on more visual social media platforms, like Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Consider converting your most popular blogs or newsletter posts into a podcast with a personalized, conversational spin.
  • Expand your reach by submitting your blog posts to content syndication networks.
  • Consider using infographics for slide decks for workshops, presentations, and seminars. The short bits of information are great for creating an outline and can easily be expanded on when talking.
  • Sprinkle customer quotes and testimonials throughout your website as a way to increase customer trust.
  • Repost your most popular previous posts across different social platforms. The shelf life of a given photo or video is short, so reposting actionable content every few months can be a great way to reach new audiences.
  • Replace purchased stock photos on your blog or website with photos taken during company events to make your website more personalized and friendly.
  • Convert webinars into video tutorials to educate your audience on their own time.
  • Turn frequently asked questions into a blog post. Chances are, if a few customers are asking questions, there are a lot of customers interested in the answers.
  • Creating bite-sized video clips that act as teasers to full videos is a simple way of reusing your already created video content.
  • Break up longer articles or posts into a themed series. A series will build up anticipation for your audience and helps to spread the ideas out over time.

If you’d like awesome ideas for how to reuse your marketing content creatively in print, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

4 Ways to Stop Your Team from Falling Apart

GettyImages-649346048.jpgThere are times in every supervisor’s work life that you can feel everything going off the rails — projects don’t sync up as they should, laughter feels forced within your team, and the energy levels are low.

While it may feel like everything is falling apart at the seams, and you’re not sure what you can do, don’t give up! There are ways to bring teamwork back to your team, but it will take some work to rebuild trust between team members and realign your focus to the future.

Even the most high-performing teams have moments of doubt that can be introduced by stress or fear. These negative emotions could overtake a team or its leader, but the first step is re-imagining the future and then casting that vision to your team.

Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

While it may be too late if your team has already entered a downward spiral, preventing negativity from happening is always the best alternative to a team that’s coming apart at the seams. Getting to know your team, understanding their motivations and stressors, and working hard when you need to will help you become a trusted member of your team — and not just the leader.

Spending time together bonding in good times will help sustain your relationship during times of difficulty, both with each individual team member and the team as a whole. This trust doesn’t come overnight but is worth the time spent building it in the long run.

Slowing the Negativity

Perhaps your team has just begun showing signs of stress, such as team members being unwilling to contribute in meetings, leaving early, or losing energy early in the day. If you look up in the afternoon and everyone is wandering around looking aimless instead of focused on work or building relationships, it’s past time to get more involved in your team’s dynamics.

Start by talking to someone on your team, either the person who is seemingly the most stressed or one with whom you have the most trust built up. See if you can determine what the root cause of the uncertainty is, and look for potential options for resolution together.

Returning from the Brink

If your team is truly on the brink of collapse, with your best and brightest team members disengaged and actively looking for other opportunities, it’s time to take more drastic measures. Consider asking your human resources department if they’re hearing any rumors about what’s happening, or pull the team together as a whole in an offsite meeting to add to their comfort level.

Request that they be open and honest with you about challenges that they’re encountering — either within the team, outside the team or even outside the organization.

Take Charge of Results

You also must face the possibility that you as the leader are the problem, which can be painful and difficult to accept. However, you must first look to make changes in your own leadership style in order to help salvage your team’s success.

Take responsibility for finding a solution, and don’t be afraid to claim accountability when things aren’t going as you had planned. Too often, leaders find themselves in a situation that feels hopeless and attempt to look externally to find the problem.

If there is truly someone on your team who is causing the excessive negativity, know when it’s time to make the difficult decision and make a change in personnel. Sometimes, all it takes is removing a negative influence or underperformer to bring your team back to center.

Today’s organizations are moving quickly and chasing many different initiatives at once. Managing people is always a balancing act: creating a culture of learning and accountability while allowing people the space they need to take appropriate chances. Fortunately, nearly every team can be brought back from a downward spiral with time, effort, and loads of positive energy from its leader.

Post-Show Followup Techniques You Will Want to “Borrow”

ThinkstockPhotos-857037440.jpgTrade shows are one of the most exhausting, yet exhilarating, ways to spend your marketing dollars. You not only get to meet with your customers face-to-face, but you can also see what your competitors are up to, get great ideas for the future, and generally feed off the energy on the show floor. However, if you’re not using the time after you return to the office effectively, you may be wasting much of the goodwill that you created at the show. Here are some great tips and techniques from marketers that will help you knock your post-show communication out of the park.

Capture Contacts Logically

Before you even start to pull together samples and brochures for your event, you need to determine the best way to capture contacts for later follow-up. This could be anything from a name badge scanner provided by the event coordinators to the low-tech solution of a giveaway fishbowl where contacts drop in their business cards. Simply gathering the information isn’t enough, you need a solid plan in place of how you’re going to get these new names and their requests into an actionable marketing database.

Create a Specific CTA

Your call to action is just that: a way to encourage your audience to take a specific action that leads to your desired result. Starting with the end in mind allows you to craft a campaign where each step builds towards the logical conclusion — your customer placing an order or asking for a demo. The first step may be a quick email, while the next step could include mailing a sample with a custom printed letter. A final step of a phone call or postcard a few weeks after the show proves to your audience that you’re committed to meeting (and exceeding!) their expectations.

Sort and Assign Leads

If you’re using an automated solution for capturing leads, you may wish to begin immediately by sending an email as soon as you return from the show. If this isn’t possible due to volume, go through your lists and segment your leads into hot, warm, and cold. If you’re able to immediately assign the hot leads to a team member to call and can convert them to customers, great! Most people spend a day or two regrouping after a show, so timing is everything. Call too soon, and you’re likely to get a voicemail recording which is generally a dead end. Call too long after the show, and people have forgotten all about you. This is one of the reasons that a branded, high-quality print piece is a fantastic followup. If you start your print project quickly, your materials can be there soon after your prospects are back in the office.

Nurture Your Prospects

Create a formal and ongoing communication strategy that allows you to continue the conversation with your various audiences. Some people may be very interested in your products or services, but perhaps they don’t have the budget to start a project immediately. Others may be lukewarm in their interest levels, but you can see how you’re adding value to their organization. What’s important is that you tailor your messaging to your audience to convert as many as possible into customers.

Now that you know the basics of trade show and event follow-up, you’re ready to hit the road. You will see the true benefits of growing your audience and communicating effectively with all the new customers and sales coming your way!

A Team Attitude

kirkI heard a comical story about a man who got lost while driving through the countryside. While trying to navigate a narrow country road in heavy rainfall, he accidentally drove off the road into a deep, muddy ditch. While he wasn’t injured, his car was stuck in the mud, so he walked to the nearest farm.

He asked the farmer if he could help him pull his car out of the ditch. The farmer nodded and replied, “Yep, Warwick can get you out of that ditch,” as he pointed to an old mule standing in the pasture. The man looked at the small, old mule and had his doubts, but he figured he had nothing to lose.

The two men walked Warwick back to the ditch where his car was stuck. The farmer hitched the mule to the car and hollered, “Pull, Fred! Pull, Jack! Pull, Ted! Pull Warwick!” And just like that, the mule pulled the car from the ditch with very little effort.

The man watched in amazement, but asked the farmer, “Why did you call out all those other names when Warwick was the only one pulling?” The farmer chuckled and said, “Old Warwick is blind, but as long as he believes he is part of a team, he doesn’t mind pulling.”

Here’s the way I see it: Emily Voyles once said it best, “It doesn’t take strength to win. It takes the true heart of the team to win.”

How to Turn Negativity into Inspiration

ThinkstockPhotos-663352750.jpgIt’s easy to look at successful business people and feel jealous of what they’ve accomplished. They make it look so easy that you wonder why you’re not having the same level of success in your life and career. However, what you may not see is the hundreds of times they’ve had their ideas shot down, been passed over for a promotion, and just generally rejected in their lives. No one is immune to the soul-crushing feeling of harsh criticisms, but how you react to these situations is what makes the difference. From taking a leap into the unknown to dealing with difficult situations, these stories of overcoming negative situations will inspire you to achieve more than you could possibly imagine.

Stirring Generations of Moviegoers

George Lucas tried to sell his Star Wars script with studios for nearly five years before he finally received his first chance. It’s almost unimaginable that without one 20th Century Fox executive who believed in his vision, generations of children and adults alike would have never been introduced to that vast galaxy that lives far, far away. Today, this franchise is worth over $30 billion and continues to expand. His thoughts about always pushing forward through rejection and failure? “You use the information that you’ve gotten, which is experience . . . Failure is another word for experience.”

Apprentice Yourself in Failure

Henry Ford’s story tells how he spent his life working on every conceivable type of device, but it wasn’t until he tried his hand at creating a horseless carriage that he truly began — to fail. He started multiple companies with various partners, each time attempting to find the secret sauce that would allow him to produce his automobile efficiently and cost-effectively. Throughout his journey, he faced setbacks and people who didn’t believe that he could be successful. Finally, he found the ideal financial backer who allowed him to realize his true vision of an inexpensive yet reliable vehicle that could be mass-produced. By never giving up, he not only made Ford a household name but also created innovative production methods that jump-started the American economy.

Demoted, Fired . . . President of the United States

There are few Cinderella stories more inspirational than that of Abraham Lincoln. From his birth in a one-room log cabin to a sketchy education, Abraham Lincoln went on to become one of the most influential leaders in American history. Not only was he demoted during his stint in the Army, not only did he work through several failed businesses, but he also suffered defeat through multiple elections before rising to the country’s highest position. Abraham Lincoln’s inspiring story shows that failure is truly never an option.

The Right Job for Enough Money

Not everyone equates becoming rich and famous with being successful. In fact, Professor Jeffrey Sachs feels that the key to inspiration is finding the right job for enough money. Being inspired, and inspiring others, often comes towards the middle or end of a long career that can include negativity, stress, poor bosses, and apathetic co-workers. While it’s practically impossible to know upfront whether a particular job will become what inspires you, the only way to reach that higher plane is through overcoming negativity. Work-life balance and true happiness come through the inspiration to excel wherever life finds you.

Life is difficult, and few people will hand you an opportunity on a silver platter. Turning negativity into inspiration may be one of the toughest things that you will ever do, but the payoff is everything! Take a moment each day to inspire and uplift others. You never know when your kind words could encourage someone to keep pushing towards their dreams.

Custom Printed Box Bands

A CREATIVE YET AFFORDABLE WAY TO BRAND YOUR PRODUCTS

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Packaging is a key component of your companyБ─≥s identity. Custom printed box bands are a creative yet affordable way to brand your products. Not only do packaging sleeves improve the shelf-appeal of your product, but they also provide branding and product identification and enable you to provide more information about what is in the box.

The creative options for custom printed box bands are endless and can vary from a narrow belly band to a full band that fits the width of your box to everything in between.

Box bands can also feature die-cut edging or cut-out shapes, as well as foil stamping, embossed or debossed logos, metallic ink, and much more to enhance the appearance. They can be designed to close with peel and seal closure, glue, double-sided tape, or a customized label, such as a corporate anniversary seal.

If youБ─≥d like help creating unique box bands to help brand your product and ensure it gets noticed, stop by or give us a call today!

The Dignity of Work – Down But Not Out

ThinkstockPhotos-832112086Albert Serur was just a young man when he passed out cold in his client’s office. Only four months into his job, a previously undiagnosed heart condition might have sidelined him permanently. But Serur didn’t go down without a fight. Rather than recovering from emergency surgery at home, he hired a driver so he could sleep in the car between sales calls.

“Adversity helps you deal with who you are,” he says. “If you can start preparing for things proactively both personally and professionally, you’re going to be ready, and you’re going to be a better leader.”

“Will-Set” that Trumps a Skill Set

At 28, Serur is the youngest state director at American Income Life and chief executive of its Wilmington subsidiary. Serur Agencies brings weekly employee training sessions that focus less on technical abilities and more on workplace camaraderie, helping people develop a “will-set” with emotional tools to handle challenging situations. These offerings are a timely response to a felt need; in a recent Society of Human Resource Management report, “respectful treatment” was a top priority of the workers, even above pay.

“I’ve seen many people who have more God-given talent than I have, but if they have one difficult relationship issue, they just fold,” says Serur.

Valuing the “Dignity of Work”

Workforce prioritization was how Starbucks recently explained the “fairly flat” performance of its stock. While a recent reduction of corporate-tax rates made the company hundreds of millions of dollars, Starbucks chose to re-invest this money in its workforce rather than funneling profits back to shareholders. Priorities included closing gender pay equity gaps worldwide, offering stock grants of $2,000 for managers and $500 for employees, expanded paid parental leave, and even access to critical illness insurance for parents of employees. Executive chairman Howard Schultz says people are an enduring priority:

“We’re trying to make long-term decisions,” Schultz said. “We’re trying to value the dignity of work. We’re trying to do everything we possibly can to demonstrate to the world … that the better way is not a zero-sum game where you leave your people behind.”

Microsoft has also seen a shift toward creating workplace wins. Several of Microsoft’s former employees have returned to the company after CEO Satya Nadella took over. These “boomerangs” say workplace culture has changed significantly under Nadella’s emphasis on “One Microsoft,” a collaborative environment that hasn’t existed in the past. Nadella has shifted reviews toward solidarity and teamwork, where employees are rewarded not just for their own work but how well they’re able to make use of others’ contributions. Boomerangs say this step away from the “smartest person in the room,” intimidation tactic has brought a more conversational, empowering environment. Microsoft has emphasized patience before perfection, incentives for developing others, and teaching staff to diffuse tension after disagreeable meetings.

Bonds that Last

Some companies use humor to grow unity. The Improv Asylum comedy troupe teaches communications skills at organizations like Google and Intel. This troupe’s mantra is that one person must always accept the premise given and then expand on the idea. “The sink is going to start spraying pink paint, you say?” “Well, yes, AND . . . lucky for us, we’re hosting the abstract art seminar this weekend!”

As it turns out, this is also a great workplace communication technique:

(The phrase) “‘Yes, but’ is prevalent in the corporate culture, and that shuts ideas down,” says Bob Melley, director of corporate training at the Boston theater company. “‘Yes, and’ encourages everyone on the team to offer ideas. It creates a bond and establishes trust.”

Stay in the Game – Finding the Off Switch

ThinkstockPhotos-78288882Do you ever lay awake at night feeling restless about work? Do you take projects home each evening or over the weekend? When the day is over, is it difficult for you to quiet your racing thoughts?

You work hard. And you enjoy it. But in this mobile generation, devices meant to create freedom have tethered us to the desk as we toe the line between productivity and workaholism. A study of 3,000 UK workers showed that 69 percent regularly work outside their office hours, and the average worker fails to use six days of paid leave each year. In the midst of an overwork epidemic, are you preserving your own well-being?

Digging Your Own Grave

While our parents said “hard work never killed anyone,” research says otherwise. Men who are unable to mentally relax after work nearly triple their risk of heart disease and psychologist Mark Cropley, studying health and stress at the University of Surrey, says an inability to detach brings disastrous consequences:

“Inadequate psychological recovery, or poor disengagement from work, is associated with a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease, fatigue, negative mood and sleep disturbance,” Cropley said.

What is the difference between an industrious person and a workaholic? Experts say the industrious can push past typical office hours but remain emotionally present for others, enjoying fulfilling relationships and intentionally scheduling time for things they love. Hard workers experience short bursts of stress for a deadline but follow this with a purposeful schedule reduction (like comp days or shortened office hours) to restore depleted energy.

Workaholics struggle to find this off switch. The troubling feelings or facts accompanying their lifestyle stress fails to curb their unrealistic performance ideals. Workaholics are obsessed with work and the adrenaline rush it brings; often they walk fast, talk fast, eat fast, and struggle to delegate for fear others will not do “as good a job.” While appearing externally healthy, their internal overdrive brings physical distress: panic attacks, claustrophobia, depression, decreased immune function, sleep disturbances, or an inability to enjoy life’s pleasures. Workaholics have an increased risk for metabolic syndrome, a higher need for recovery, and struggle with cynicism and emotional fatigue; when your biological systems keep working around elevated set points, you have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and even death.

Worried you may be digging an early grave? Here are a few checks to flag your workaholic tendencies:

  • Your work eats into meal times
  • You are often first to arrive and last to leave
  • You are always on your phone or computer
  • You appear relationally distracted and find little time for leisure activities
  • You experience anxiety or irritation when interrupted or kept from work
  • You feel guilty when you’re not working and find it difficult to relax at night

Quality Trumps Quantity

Beyond improved health, accounting firm Ernst & Young found that for every additional 10 hours of time off taken, employees’ annual performance ratings improved by eight percent. How can you make productive changes if you are stretched too thin?

  • Reflect on reasons for compulsive work
  • Ask for help from your team and intentionally delegate
  • Set clear rules for how many hours you will work each day, quitting several hours before bed
  • Replace workaholic tendencies with positive habits: cultivating hobbies, building a skill you don’t use at work, and pro-actively scheduling time with friends
  • Resolve to save 25 percent of your energy to bring home at night. Put a fence around weekends to avoid temptation

Self-care keeps you on top of your game and ensures you STAY in the game. And that’s a win for us all!

When to Post on Social Media

Market-339THE BEST TIMES TO POST

Managing multiple social media networks can be challenging, and so can knowing the best times to post. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer since every type of business has varying audiences, here are the most suggested time frames and a few things to consider when posting on social media:

Facebook

  • Early afternoons on Thursday is the most recommended day to post on Facebook.
  • Early mornings and late nights are the least optimal time to post.
  • Video posts are among the most popular.

The less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook.

Tool to consider: Fanpage Karma. It not only analyzes your profiles and those of the competition but also manages all your customer conversations in one tool – even composing, planning, and publishing posts.

Twitter

  • Thursday around Noon is the most recommended time to post on Twitter for business-to-business audiences.
  • Weekends and Wednesdays are most popular for business-to-consumer.
  • Noon and 6 p.m. have the highest click-through rate when people are on lunch breaks or commuting home.

Tweets that are engaging and build trust in your brand are more effective than those that are purely promotional.

Tool to consider: Followerwonk helps you dig deeper into Twitter analytics and see who your followers are, where they are located, and what they tweet.

Instagram

  • Monday through Friday are the best days to post, with Mondays typically having the most engagement.
  • Avoid posting around 3 p.m. each day, since that has the lowest engagement.

Build your audience with the 80/20 rule – which means 80% of content should be educational and engaging, while 20% is self-promotional.

Tool to consider: Over is an app that lets you apply overlayed text and graphics onto your photos and is great for sharing tips, inspirational quotes, or adding a creative twist.

LinkedIn

  • The best times to post are between Noon and 5 p.m. from Tuesday through Thursday.
  • The worst times to post are Monday and Friday.
    Encourage your employees to share your company’s content.

Tool to consider: LeadFuze allows you to quickly create a list of leads and target accounts through a simple search.

Pinterest

  • Most Pinterest users are female and are more active in the evenings, with activity peaking at 9 p.m.
  • The most popular time to pin is Saturday between 8-11 p.m. or 2-4 a.m., although the best time for fashion & retail is Fridays at 3 p.m.

Tool to consider: Buffer can help you find great images to Pin from any website and immediately add to your Pinterest schedule with the Buffer browser extension.

If you need help promoting your social accounts in print, give us a call. We’d love to share our ideas!

Here’s Why Visual Communication Works

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According to a recent study, the average person gets distracted in just eight seconds – although, for some people, just 2.8 seconds is enough. When you operate predominantly in the print-based marketing world, you’ve already got something of an advantage over most people: print is something tangible. It exists in the real world. People can hold a flyer in their hands or share it with friends and family members if they’d like to, and it’s already something that’s harder to get distracted from than a computer screen. One way to take the benefit of print and extend it even further involves using the full power of visual communication to your advantage.

Visual Marketing: Breaking It Down

Human beings are visual learners – they always have been, they always will be. It’s not necessarily a sign of intelligence but about how the human brain operates. By making sure that all of your collateral includes a healthy blend of both text AND visual elements, you can absolutely make this idea work to your advantage.

Consider the fact that when a person hears a piece of information, they’re only likely to remember roughly 10% of it about three days later. These aren’t exactly good odds if you’re trying to prime a member of your audience to make a sale. When that same piece of information is paired with a relevant image, however, people retain a significantly higher 65% of that same information over the same period of time.

This, in essence, is the power of visual communication at play. In terms of your marketing content, when you make an effort to include relevant images that really help tell a larger story when paired with the text, people will spend more time looking at those images than they do the text on a page. This is why images alone aren’t important, but relevant images are the key to your long-term success.

Show, Don’t Tell

Basically, you need to focus on the age-old idea of “show, don’t tell.” The next time you sit down to design a piece of collateral, try to convey the major idea in a sentence or two. Whether you’re trying to sell a product or service or inform someone about an upcoming event or something else entirely doesn’t matter – just figure out what the essence is of what you’re trying to say.

Then, think about what parts of that story can be told via images instead of text. What is the bare minimum amount of text that you can get away with that will still include all the relevant information (like dates and times)?

This is the type of approach that you need to take when you sit down to create any piece of print marketing collateral that will eventually be consumed by your audience. Marketing is nothing more than convincing someone to follow directions – you’re trying to give a consumer the information they need to reach out to you and make a purchase, for example. Well, when you consider that people literally follow directions 323% better with the combination of both text and illustrations than they do with just text alone, you begin to get an idea of why visual communication is one of the most valuable tools that you have in your print marketer’s toolbox today.

The Way I See It

kirkHere is a story that made me chuckle. It made me think about the challenges many businesses face when trying to keep some customers happy.

One day, a hardworking waiter asked a frequent customer how he had enjoyed his meal. The customer replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The waiter agreed, and the next time when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him two slices instead of one. However, the man still complained. So, the waiter gave him even more bread on his next visit still without success.

On the fourth visit, the waiter was determined to make the man happy, so he gave the customer a full loaf of bread. The waiter could barely wait for the man’s reaction. After the meal, the man looked up and said with a smile, “The meal was good as always, but I see you’re back to giving only one piece of bread.”

Here’s the way I see it: Be thankful for customers who complain because you still have the opportunity to make them happy. If there is anything we can do differently for you, we’d love to hear about it!

Small Business Marketing Ideas

CREATIVE AND COST-EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MARKET A SMALL BUSINESS

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Here are a few creative and cost-effective ways to market a small business:

  • Consider a door hanger or recurring postcard campaign to all residents in an X-mile radius of your business. Consider highlighting lesser-known products, offering an exclusive discount, or inviting them to a free hands-on training event.
  • Build relationships and get involved in your community through charity events, sponsoring local sports teams, volunteering at fundraisers, or donating your time or services to local non-profits.
  • Develop a customer loyalty program with a variety of special promotions and incentives that would appeal to your particular customer base, such as birthday discounts, a reward punch card, free shipping, monthly discounts, free upgrades, and more.
  • Engage with your audience on social media. Post information on new products, link to interesting industry news bits, and encourage customer conversations.
  • Become an industry expert. Create a blog or newsletter with a customer Q&A section and offer helpful tips and tricks that will make people think of you next time they are ready to purchase.
  • Create a monthly contest. For example, encourage visitors to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar for a chance to win a [fill in the blank].
  • Create a customer referral program. For example, provide custom-printed referral cards that provide an exclusive discount to new customers. Also, reward existing customers based on how many new customers they recruit.
  • Build your customer testimonials and reviews. Request customer reviews, and make sure you respond to all reviews, positive or negative.

If you’d like help creating marketing materials to grow your business, give us a call or visit us online today at http://www.sjprinter.com!

3 Opportunities for Better Customer Follow-up

ThinkstockPhotos-843169968Have you ever considered an online purchase but been put off by taxes or shipping costs? That’s what a Reddit user (Doug D.) experienced when he fell in love with a sweatshirt from Archrival Clothing. Doug, a UK resident, added the item to his cart, but was disappointed to find he couldn’t get Archrival’s alluringly low shipping prices since the company was based in the US.

Winning Follow-up

Game over? Not quite. Someone from Archrival took note of Doug’s abandoned “Shopping Cart” and realized the shipping prices were probably to blame. This resourceful employee immediately e-mailed Doug, offering several alternatives to ship the order for less, including a FedEx International Economy option, Delayed First Class Overseas Mail (on the company’s dime), or European purchasing options.

Doug’s reaction? Rave online reviews for the company itself:

“Wow. My mind is blown. This is potentially the best customer service I have ever experienced. You definitely deserve a purchase just for this e-mail.” Doug and his girlfriend bought several items, ordering more than originally intended, all due to proactive customer care.

Leaky Buckets Bring Lost Opportunities

Business is all about relationships, and good relationships are built on great communication. In today’s wired world, we communicate constantly, yet connections are frequently missed. Author Dan Kennedy describes these botched follow-ups as the “hole” in our buckets. If business is the bucket where we pour energy, ideas, and money, the “holes” are wasted time, money, or failed follow up. This may include failing to track contact information, not rescuing lost customers, or belated follow-up with prospects.

What impact does correspondence have? According to Harvard Business Review, the most frequent customer complaint is poor follow-up. Fifty-six percent complain that they need to re-explain their issue when calling back. Sixty-two percent need to repeatedly contact the company to get issues resolved. As a result, 65% are likely to speak poorly about the company and 48% go on to tell 10 or more people about their bad experience. Poor communication can influence not only your customer but spill over into the public as well.

Show Them the Love!

Sometimes we fail to communicate because we are forgetful, have full schedules, or we fear looking pushy. But consistent follow-up builds sturdy bridges, and any step toward better communication will bear long-term fruit. Consider these opportunities for better follow up:

  1. Always acknowledge a message from a customer: with gratitude, with further questions, or with a confirmation of the request
  2. Give a brief status update of the issue at hand
  3. Respond via the customer’s preferred method of communication (e-mail, website, phone call). If uncertain, reciprocate with the method the customer initiated with

Use stronger written follow-up communication to:

  • Make a calendar request or recap a meeting
  • Ensure your last message was received or inquire about further questions or concerns
  • Express gratitude for an introduction or appreciation for their business
  • Congratulate clients on a recent accomplishment
  • Wish customers luck on an upcoming project or personal endeavor
  • Solicit feedback on a future project or decision
  • Send helpful information or resources (pertinent to your previous conversations)
  • Make people personally aware of upcoming incentives or promotions

To make good intentions a reality, consider adding correspondence goals to your schedule (placing reminders in your phone or calendar or sending unique printed thank you notes on a bi-annual basis) and chart a new course of consistency to ensure your relationships receive the optimal care they deserve.

Thank You Labels

LABELS MAY BE SMALL, BUT THEY’RE BIG FOR BUSINESS

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Labels may be small, but they are big for business, especially when you use them to say thanks and show customers they are appreciated.

Thank you labels are a great way to show your appreciation with all outgoing envelopes, invoices, packages, postcards, receipts, and more.

Thank you labels can easily serve a dual purpose. For example, in addition to a thank you message, you may also consider offering a promo code for a discount on their next purchase. Or, thank you labels can be designed to thank customers for their loyalty and remind them of an upcoming customer appreciation event.

The creative design options for thank you labels are endless. They are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and finishes, such as an embossed logo, foil finish, creative die-cut shape, or more.

The simple act of saying thanks can leave a valuable, lasting impression that helps customers remember you for future business. Order thank you labels today!

Break the Rules; It’s Okay as a Market Disruptor

ThinkstockPhotos-638949820.jpgWho are the folks who really define a market these days? It’s definitely not those companies who follow the market rules and play nice with everyone. More often than not, the key players and new leaders of the pack are the ones who are writing their own rules on how to operate, sell, and grow – the market disruptors.

Being a disruptor is not to be confused with being an anarchist. Unlike the political zealot, the disruptor is not fixated on tearing things down. Instead, this is a company that wants to redesign the stage to work in its favor, not the existing market.

More Than Traditional

Take the example of Growup Urban Farms. In the food business, the idea is to produce food or distribute food products from producers. This assumes that one is either a traditional manufacturer as a grower or making a profit on someone else’s work either growing plants in soil or raising animals on a farm. But what happens when someone decides to create food in an unorthodox method that doesn’t require the traditional resources of soil and land? That’s the case with Growup Urban Farms.

A Company Redefined

The company has found a way to mass market food production of vegetables and fish without the large land outlay or ocean harvesting. While the traditional model requires a rural setting, the disruptive aspect of Growup is that it can literally be operated in the most urban of settings, using physical stacking and space efficiency inside artificial walls and city streets. Their product is natural but created in warehouses. It uses natural methods of growth but there is no soil, ocean or land consumption involved.

The founders of the company, Kate Hudson and Tom Webster, have redefined what it is to be a modern farmer. And that has the potential to redefine how food is produced and where. The old rules don’t apply anymore that farms must be rural and need soil, or that fish can only be harvested from ocean stock. Growup disrupts the food market and not just with its cost model. The company also redefines placement of farm fresh food, eliminating the need for long-distance transportation into cities. Instead, the farm is literally in the city just blocks from the businesses it feeds with the product.

Go Where No One Else Does

The idea of being a market disruptor is not some trendy new 21st-century concept; every major market inventor or new breakout leader was essentially following the path of a disruptor by going down a path nobody else was considering at the time. Whether it was Nikola Tesla or Google’s founders, every breakout has been driven by a unique prospect that seemed rogue or maverick to the mainstream.

So if you want your company to get beyond just surviving and breaking even, then you have to find that spot that differentiates everything about you. Don’t follow existing models, create a new one that has its own rules for success.

Five Ways to Provide Mind-Blowing Customer Service

ThinkstockPhotos-640147624.jpgDid you know that surprising and delighting your customers is something that starts before they are truly aware of your business and brand? Each interaction throughout the customer lifecycle is an opportunity to provide mind-blowing customer service that people simply must share with their friends. Creating true advocates for your business should be your goal, and that only happens when customers are over-the-top excited about your product and service offerings. How do you inspire that type of loyalty in what can be a fickle audience? These tips will get you started down the path to lifelong devotion from your fans.

1. Treat Employees Like Gold

Your most important asset when it comes to ensuring long-term customer loyalty is closer than you may realize — your staff! When your employees are empowered to react quickly to negative situations and provide proactive support to ward off challenges, your customers will feel the difference. Employees who feel as though they’re simply showing up to punch a clock are lacking something, and that will show up in their interactions with customers. Employees who are regularly rewarded for going above and beyond expectations will continue that trend.

2. Foster a Culture of Possibilities

When you foster a culture of possibilities for your staff, they will be much more likely to take exceptional care of your customers. Why? Because employees take more ownership, and “your” customers become “their” customers . . . and friends. Good customer service is expected (and even demanded) by today’s customers. Going the next step to completely blowing your customers’ mind takes extra effort to provide unexpected benefits. This could mean providing free custom proofs to clients, adding in 10% overages “just because” or delivering earlier than expected. On time and on budget are expectations — you have to raise the bar to blow their minds.

3. Create an Easy Button

There will always be customers who are looking for the fastest and cheapest items. However, the customers you really want to cultivate are those who are willing to pay a premium for truly exceptional service and delivery times. The majority of people in America today have severely limited time, and when you’re able to show customers that you respect their needs and move quickly, they will be surprised and delighted. Optimize each process, remove unnecessary clicks from your website and apps and generally think through the user experience at every turn.

4. Focus on What’s Important

Customer-facing organizations are often looking for ways to reduce the amount of time required to interact with the public on each transaction. While this can result in efficiency for customers and staff alike, it can also cause a measure of frustration when poorly implemented. Forget the long list of meaningless metrics that don’t impact service levels or profitability. Look for measurements that directly impact customer satisfaction such as the number of calls required to resolve a return, for instance.

5. Stand Out from the Crowd

Are your competitors sending out postcards? Take their concept and go bigger: send a unique mailer that is truly attention-grabbing. There are rumors going around that “direct mail is dead”, but nothing could be further from the truth! As fewer competitors rely on print, customers are more likely to be engaged with the unique and interesting pieces that do hit their mailboxes. Have fun with your promotions and your customers will reward you richly.

The reality for businesses today is that customer retention is much less expensive than attempting to find and recruit new customers. Sure, you’re always on the lookout for new customers, but shouldn’t you also look for ways to create an over-the-top excellent service culture that keeps people returning for more?

Why Establishing Your Brand as an Authority is a Top Goal

ThinkstockPhotos-809785742With every piece of marketing collateral you create, you’re essentially trying to accomplish two key goals. Yes, you’re always trying to inform members of your audience about the products or services that you offer – or the ones that you’re about to launch. But at the same time, you need to do something much more powerful. Something that, if executed correctly, can help guarantee that yours is a brand with the ability to stand the test of time.

You need to establish your brand as an authority – not just in the context of what you have to offer, but within the larger sense of the industry that you’re operating in. If this isn’t already one of your top goals, it should be for a number of essential reasons.

The Power of Brand Authority

To better understand the importance of brand authority, consider the following two statistics. According to one study, 45% of your brand’s image (meaning what people think and feel when they encounter it) can ultimately be attributed to both what you say and how you say it. More importantly, the same study revealed that 54% of people don’t trust brands at all.

The most critical thing to understand about this is that brand authority is not something that you can give yourself. The majority of people who don’t trust brands don’t do so because the brands told them not to – it’s because those brands failed to live up to their promises one too many times. It’s because they didn’t have anything to offer beyond a sales pitch. It’s because those brands weren’t able to connect with their audience in an emotional, raw, and ultimately genuine way.

Because those brands failed to understand that brand authority really has to do with your larger reputation – it’s that kernel of trust that you don’t give yourself, but that others give to you.

It’s also not something that you’re going to be able to build in a day. It’s less the product of one major move and more about a series of smaller ones. It’s something that grows slowly, every time you choose to partner with a charity on community outreach or make your presence known at some type of local event. It’s something that grows inside your audience every time they see a piece of collateral that isn’t just a product spec sheet, but that offers true insight and information in a way that helps them even if they don’t make a sale.

When built properly over time, it’s also something that makes it easier than ever to not only keep the customers you already have satisfied but to bring new ones into the fold as well. This will invariably translate into a sense of “when the time comes and I do choose to make a purchase with this particular brand, I can rest easy knowing that it is money well spent.”

In the End

Ultimately, establishing your brand as an authority should be a top goal because it allows you to become more than just the products you sell or the services you provide. When your customers have a question, they come to you for the answer. When they want to learn more about a related topic, their first thought is to go to you for the education they seek. When you do launch a new product or service, they’re interested in what you have to offer because there is a level of trust that exists between you that they don’t have in other relationships.

This is why brand authority is so important – because it lets you become more than “just another company” and provides you with a level of authenticity that can take a standard audience and turn them into a loyal army of passionate advocates before you know it.

A Frog’s Plan

The Way I See It  A Frog’s Plan

kirk

A persuasive old frog asked two geese to carry him south with them. At first, the geese said no because they didn’t believe it could be done. After great consideration, the frog suggested that the two geese hold a stick in their beaks, and the frog would hold onto the stick with his mouth. The plan worked great, and the three-some flew over the countryside, gathering a lot of admiration for this unbelievable demonstration of creative teamwork.

Suddenly, they overheard a bystander say, “Wow! What a creative way to travel! I wonder who came up with that idea?” Without being able to help himself, the frog opened his mouth and exclaimed, “It was meeee!” as he plummeted to the ground.

Here’s the way I see it: Harry S. Truman once said it best: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Got an important project coming up? We’d love to help you create beautiful print materials that you can take all the credit for!

 

The Magic of Dialogue

ThinkstockPhotos-584853270.jpgWho doesn’t love a great conversation? There’s something compelling about swapping stories, sharing hurts, and multiplying joys as we connect together each day. Companies are finding the catalyst to true connection often comes through listening.

Marketing and editorial strategists Michelle Horowitz and Kendall Meade believed so strongly in conversation that they launched an entire online platform called InTELLects to grow real-life interactions that promote conversation, creativity, and community:

“I’m energized by making connections and asking people deeper questions,” says Michelle. “It’s how I learn, and it’s how I grow.”

InTELLects features notable leaders, thinkers, and change agents, building a community of mentors and offering users the chance to ask questions – any questions – to grow the collective conversation. The co-founders believe authentic discussions pave pathways to clarity, grow existing communities, and instigate this new universal truth: “ask, and you shall succeed.” InTELLects is promoting a paradigm shift that’s moving companies away from “shoving a sales pitch” and toward authentic customer engagement.

The Critical Surfing “Slow Down”

 

In today’s complex ecosystem, marketers are realizing that consumer engagement (or return on EXPERIENCE) is a long-term, holistic measure of a customer’s encounter with a brand. Engagement includes any action a customer takes to connect with a company: downloading an app, participating in a forum, or referring products to friends. Engagement brings significantly greater return than website traffic, as researchers report that attention span in “surfing” is typically less than nine seconds per page.

How can we slow people down? Horowitz says asking questions is a wonderful place to start.

“True engagement stems from building a place where people can honestly learn, share, and engage,” she said. InTELLects believes that real conversations transcend the noise and forge emotional connections.

Through digital channels, today’s entrepreneurs have powerful tools to create highly personalized relationships. While community forums have been around for ages, expanding social networks like LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities offer a chance to connect with customers and ask questions that can build emotional connections that last. Recent data shows that 68 percent of audiences spent more than 15 percent of their time reading the comments section of a story – revealing the allure of dialogue to build powerful community connection.

Growing the Conversation

 

As you seek to build your own “conversational opportunities,” here are a few questions to consider:

  1. What does your target audience connect with?
  2. What questions do they have about your product?
  3. What is their favorite feature of your business?
  4. Where can you proactively predict what they want to stay ahead of the design curve?
  5. What educational or training gaps could your company offer on their behalf?
  6. What are some practical questions you could pose to gain insights in these areas?

Need ideas to get you started? Grab your team and brainstorm how you might:

  • Host a contest
  • Promote customer achievements on your own social media page
  • Allow your VIP customers to co-create content
  • Host webinars or events
  • Make someone your “brand ambassador” for the month
  • Allow users to have fun, like the Reddit community did in its season-long Fat Tire experience

As technology barrels ahead, one of our own goals is to keep people at the forefront. Whether it’s online forums, beautifully handcrafted printing, or just the face-to-face interactions we have with you every day, we believe nothing trumps relationships. We enjoy hearing about your own questions and ideas, and we look forward to serving you this year. Let’s keep talking!

Women Leadership Matters in Business

ThinkstockPhotos-614875172There are plenty of lists in business and the news. However, they frequently only represent one half of the human race with men. The fact is, women can be just as tremendous as business leaders, and they are showing their capability daily. Here are five women we all can take a lesson from in how they function and perform as leaders and would provide great case studies if the higher education system would recognize them:

1. Mary Barra

General Motors has been in the heat of regulatory and litigious battle over faulty car ignitions that were known by its management to exist but were allegedly tolerated for cost savings. However, it has been Mary Barra who has been at the helm of the company leading it back on the correct path. And Barra is no stranger to the car world. She worked her way up from the bottom through engineering and then through administrative management as an insider. She is the most powerful American car company CEO yet most American drivers know nothing about her.

2. Ginni Rometti

If your name is on a government file somewhere, there’s a good chance Rometti’s company product has touched it. As the CEO of IBM, Rometti’s products and services have the widest reach and are used worldwide. Ginni Rometti was also an insider, starting with IBM as a system engineer in 1981 and then working upward into management. Today, her decisions impact every big company and government that relies on large database systems and related hardware, but many in the tech field would be hard-pressed to remember her name on a test.

3. Meg Whitman

Probably one of the most recognizable of women business leaders due to her run for Governor of California in 2010, Whitman today is the in-charge CEO of HPE (formerly Hewlett-Packard). Whitman first gained fame as hard-charging CEO of eBay, launching its massive growth in the 2000s, but she was already on the executive track well before. Although she resigned in February 2018, Whitman continues to redefine her role as one of the longest-lasting CEO role models for women in business. And many wonder what Whitman’s next step will be in 2018 as the leader has reincarnated herself multiple times.

4. Marillyn Hewson

Another insider who worked her way up the ranks, Hewson started with Lockheed-Martin in 1983. In her earlier executive capacity, Hewson has held key roles in operational leadership in a company that competes with the biggest brass for top aviation contracts from the government, military, and industry. Since 2015, she has been aggressive on the military market, reading the tea leaves for a resurgence in military spending. Her strategy was correct, especially after the latest Presidential election results. Most would not expect to see Hewson next to generals in photo ops, but she is the face of Lockheed-Martin on Capitol Hill.

5. Debra Crew

When people think of a cigarette company CEO, they visualize an older man with thinning hair and a cigar. They don’t think of Debra Crew. Yet this CEO has cut her teeth in PepsiCo, Dreyers, and as a veteran intelligence officer prior to her executive days. Crew’s challenge is huge, making a company work in a world where smoking seems to be a dying market. And since her start as CEO the company has grown in capitalized market value by 16 percent.

These five women are not models, actresses, or famous wives. They are battle-hardened CEOs worth their title and with billions in market investment at their fingertips.