Using Bitmojis in Business

A PERSONALIZED CARTOON AVATAR OF YOURSELF

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

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

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

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

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

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Craft First-Class Flyers with 5 Quick Tricks

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

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

1. Magnetic Focal Point

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

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

2. Logical Design Flow

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

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

3. Strategic Repetition

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

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

4. Cohesive Alignment

Choose one alignment for the entire flyer.

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

5. Appropriate Content

What should you include in a flyer?

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

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

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

Build a Culture of Success Through Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

Kindness is Contagious

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

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

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

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

Giving Back to the Community

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

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

Offer Employee Autonomy

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

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

Build Personal Ownership

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

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

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

The Way I See It

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

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

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

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

How to Succeed in Remote Working Environments

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

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

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

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

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

Productive Virtual Relationships

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

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

Establish Rules of Engagement

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

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

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

Build Trust

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

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

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

Demonstrate Competence

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

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

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

Office Printer Hacks

SAVE MONEY ON YOUR DAILY PRINT JOBS

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

Custom Printed Gift Tags

A GREAT ADDITION FOR ANY OCCASION

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

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

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

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

Digital + Print = Success

A BLEND OF PRINT AND DIGITAL MARKETING

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

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

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

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

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

A Guide to Embossing and Debossing

BE ‘BOSSY! STAND ABOVE THE REST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fox Fable

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

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

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

Gain the Mouth-Watering, Competitive Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

Find Your Competitive Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

Cost Competitive Advantage

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

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

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

Product Differentiation

 

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

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

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

Service Differentiation

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

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

Event Printing

MAKE A POSITIVE IMPRESSION AT YOUR NEXT EVENT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simplicity

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

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

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

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

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

Personalized Print Pieces

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

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

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

Color

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

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

What if you want to reach a diverse crowd?

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

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

Storytelling

Storytelling is not just for YouTube.

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

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

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

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

The Monkey and the Apple

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

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

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

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

Tis the season to be gifting!

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

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

Favorite Flavors

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

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

Touchscreen Gloves

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

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

Cord Organizer

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

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

Charity of Choice

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

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

Portable Power Bank

Today’s generation is on the run constantly.

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

Bubble Umbrellas

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

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

Coupon of the Month Club

Want to offer a unique twist this year?

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

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

Smartphone Tricks

TRICKS YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR PHONE.

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

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

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

Employ Printed QR Codes for a Rapid Response

YOUR SECRET CODE FOR SALES

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

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

Use InDesign to Create and Modify Your Own QR Codes

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

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

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

Bridge the Gap Between Print & Digital

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

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

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

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

 

Connection Cards

A CREATIVE WAY TO CONNECT WITH VISITORS

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

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

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

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

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

How to Use Customization to Gain Customers

CUSTOM MADE text on screenCoca-Cola is a brand built on scenes of enjoying life together.

Coke has worked tirelessly to promote not only its product, but the message behind it: that sharing, or gathering family and friends together, brings happiness. “Enjoying a coke” is the message in every ad, every culture, and every medium Coke communicates through.

The company’s 2014 “Share a Coke” campaign was one of its memorable marketing initiatives in history. That summer, Coca-Cola removed its iconic logo on 20-ounce bottles and replaced them with 250 of the country’s most popular names. Consumers were encouraged to find bottles with names that held personal meaning and to share them with others or post photos online with the hashtag #ShareaCoke. Within the first year, more than 500,000 photos were posted. Consumers ordered over six million virtual Coke bottles, and Coca-Cola gained roughly 25 million Facebook followers.

A Distinctly Personal Experience

What did Coke tap into that prompted this momentous reaction?

In part, it was the desire for a personal experience. For teens and millennials, personalization is not just a fad, but a way of life. Today’s consumers place a high value on self-expression, individual storytelling, and staying connected. Coke powerfully aligned playfulness, fun handheld products, and customization in a campaign for the ages.

In today’s global economy, consumers are more aware of product options and of what other people are buying. Subsequently, they’ve become more demanding about the products they purchase. Deloitte Global found that 36 percent of consumers expressed interest in purchasing personalized products or services and one in five were willing to pay 20 percent more for these options. Customization gives companies an edge in cosmetics, clothing, food prep, and toys, to name a few.

Personalized offerings add costs to the manufacturer but frequently result in higher profits because of:

  • A price premium associated with the benefits
  • More loyal, satisfied customers
  • Greater word of mouth because of the increased satisfaction and the “surprise factor” associated with an unexpected range of options
  • Enhanced customer experience via creativity and individual expression
  • Precise taste matching and less need to compromise

How About You?

Do your customers value experience and self-expression? How could you offer this more in your products or services?

It may be as simple as engraving someone’s name in a glasses case or upgrading products with matching accessories. French cosmetics brand Guerlain started offering customizable lipsticks by allowing clients to choose their own combination of case and lipstick color. Customization allows brands to grow consumer engagement and solidify brand loyalty, which is especially powerful in younger markets.

Forbes offers several talking points for firms considering customization:

  • What are the incremental costs associated with the customization options and how will they impact profitability?
  • How many options are necessary and what’s the incremental benefit as the number increases? What price premium will consumers be willing to pay?
  • Which customization options will be the most incremental to maximize sales? A research tool called a TURF (Test of Unduplicated Reach & Frequency) Analysis can help you assess.
  • What level of logistical, operational, and labor complexity will this involve? How often should customization options be updated?

Charlie Gu, CEO and co-founder of marketing agency Kollective Influence, says one budget-friendly customization strategy is the “module” approach. Instead of creating a product from scratch, businesses can offer several component options that can be mass-produced and easily assembled:

“Give customers choices, and then let them choose—customization within a framework,” he advises. “It doesn’t actually require any customization of the actual product. The consumers are essentially just picking their own color, but to them, it feels totally customized.”

How to Use a Clear Call to Action to Convert Customers

Acronym CTA as Call To Action“The maxim ‘Nothing avails but perfection’ may be spelt shorter: ‘Paralysis.'”

(Winston Churchill)

Have you ever wondered how lion tamers keep wild cats nearly three times their size at bay?

While methods have evolved over the years, traditionally lions were subdued by three tools: a whip, a stool, and a handful of tasty snacks. While the whip or snacks make sense, perhaps you wonder why a stool was used (instead of a sword or a flame, for example)?

How can a small piece of furniture intimidate the king of all cats?

The truth is, the lion is not afraid of the chair, he’s confused by the multiple points on its legs. Cats are single-minded creatures, and the bobbing points of the chair legs confuse the lion into a less focused state. When the lion loses its train of thought, it is distracted from the instinct to pounce on a weaker opponent.

Muddled Communication Can Paralyze Your Prospects

Ever try to rush your kids through breakfast and get stuck at the cereal cupboard?

As they browse a shelf of eight boxes, they slump and groan: “There’s nothing to eat!” What started as a hurry-up turns into a traffic jam. You vow that next time, you’ll only offer toast and Cheerios.

When we don’t give customers a simple, singular call to action, they may also fall into decision fatigue.

Does your website or your print materials overwhelm customers with possibilities?

Psychologist Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School, co-authored a study that showed significantly more conversions happened when shoppers had fewer options. In her example, shoppers had to choose from a display with six different flavors of jam versus a display with 24 different flavors of jam. How did they compare? The conversion rate for the six-flavor table was 30%, while the 24-flavor table was only 3%.

Analysis can lead to paralysis!

What about your method for calling prospects to action? Does your advertisement ask them to commit to a 30-day trial AND use a customer discount code DURING a selected 14-day window? Does your podcast ask people to share with a friend, AND subscribe, AND download previous episodes (all in one breath)?

Perhaps you need to take a step back and use these three evaluation tools:

1. Know Your Main Goal

When you ask people to do several tasks at once (like visiting your website and joining your e-mail list), you’ve probably overshadowed your main goal with several smaller goals.

Focus on one main goal for customer conversion, and use customer loyalty programs down the road to call customers to greater steps of engagement or loyalty.

2. Test Action Statements in Advance

If your communication is a mist in the office, it’s probably a fog on the streets. To determine which CTAs are crystal clear, run some A/B tests with sample customers and find out which ones are generating momentum.

3. Pack Some Punch

Start call to action statements with a strong command verb, like buy, shop, order, subscribe, or win.

Use concise phrases that build enthusiasm. Which of these CTA statements excites you more?

“Consider many of our 200 exciting destination possibilities,” or

“Plan your dream vacation today!”

Keep things sweet, simple, and customer-focused. Once they take the bait you can always present them with more!

The 99 Club

kirkI heard a story about a very wealthy king who lived long ago. Even though his life was filled with luxuries, he was not happy or content. One day the king met a poor man who was very happy and joyous. The king asked, “You appear to be a very poor man… how are you so happy?” The poor man said, “Your majesty, my family and I don’t need much. We have enough food to fill our bellies, a roof over our heads, and each other to keep us happy.”

The king was not satisfied with the man’s answer, so later that day he sought advice from one of his trusted advisors. The advisor said, “It’s obvious that man has not become part of the 99 Club.” The king asked, “What is the 99 Club?” The advisor replied, “To understand it, just place 99 gold coins in a bag and leave it on the man’s doorstep.”

After a long day in the fields, the man saw the bag on his doorstep. He took it inside and let out a great shout of joy when he discovered the bag was filled with gold coins. After counting it several times, he wondered, “What could’ve happened to the last gold coin? Who would leave just 99 coins!” After becoming exhausted looking everywhere for the last coin, he decided to work harder than ever to earn a gold coin to complete his collection. From that day on, the man’s life was changed. He became overworked and grumpy. He was upset with his family for not helping him achieve his goal to earn the one-hundredth gold coin. All he could think about was the coin he longed for.

After witnessing the dramatic transformation, the king’s advisor said, “Your majesty, the man is now part of the 99 Club, which is made of people who have more than enough, but are never content, because they’re always striving for the one extra thing that will make them happy.”

Here’s the way I see it: Charles Spurgeon said it best, “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

Creative Packaging Ideas

UNIQUE PACKAGING IDEAS TO CONSIDER

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Packaging is a crucial component of your company’s identity. However, creative packaging solutions don’t have to break the bank. Here are a few unique packaging ideas to consider:

    • Custom printed packaging sleeves not only 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 or bundle.
    • Hang tags can be the perfect way to add a finishing touch to your product and gift packaging. Hangtags can be used to promote selling features, give directions (such as if products have multiple uses), explain your product guarantee, suggestions for care, etc. You may also consider turning your business card into a folded hang tag that allows you to not only provide a personalized message but also incorporate your contact information.
    • Custom printed bag toppers offer an economical way to brand and package a variety of products. Branded bag toppers can be used by directly placing your product in a poly bag and attaching a fold-over header card using staples, tape, or glue.
    • Corporate anniversary seals or warranty seals are a great way to add a distinctive finishing touch on your packages and increase brand recognition.
    • Packaging and die-cut logo labels can not only reinforce your brand image and create recognition, but also enable you to customize your shipping packages easily.
    • Creative envelopes are an easy way to package many items. Whether you create a full color promotional printed envelope, preview window envelope, or translucent envelope, we can help you with the perfect solution. Call us today at 856.429.0715.

How to Make Your Idea Stick

IDEAS THAT STICK

Have you ever shared an idea with someone and seen it immediately take flight in their eyes?

Their mind is churning a thousand miles per minute, and you can tell that they grasp the consequence of what you have shared and how it could be implemented to solve their problem.

Alternatively, we have all seen the glazed look that comes over someone when what you are telling them is either common knowledge or has no impact on their daily life.

How is it that some people can share their ideas in a way that resonates so well with their audience, while others can drop a great idea that falls completely flat?

If you want to avoid your print marketing falling flat, there is an excellent communication framework that you can use that will help you relate your ideas to your audience in a way that they can actively understand – and take action!

Creating the Framework

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When you sit down to write content for your next sales flyer, business card or banner, remember these five key steps for communication that will engage and delight your listeners.

For your content to stick, be useful, and long-lasting, run it through these five questions.

Does your content make your audience:

✔ Pay attention?
✔ Understand and remember it?
✔ Agree/Believe?
✔ Care?
✔ Be able to act on it?

No One Cares About Your Ideas

Here’s the reality. Just because you care passionately and deeply about an idea – even one that hits you to your very core – that doesn’t mean that your audience will share your excitement.

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You have to frame your thoughts in such a way that they become personal and relatable to your listeners. This could mean unique messaging for different people in your audience, as it’s unlikely that a young adult will react in the same way to a pitch on health insurance as would someone close to retirement age.

Bringing in Emotion

Emotion is more than a simple feeling: warm, cold, tired, excited. Emotion is empathy, being able to put yourself in the place of someone else and feel their pain or desires. When you’re able to evoke those feelings in individuals, it causes a deeper level of connection and commitment to your ideas.

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You’ll want people to understand and remember the idea – so it’s essential to make it feel more concrete, or specific. If someone cares about your idea, then they are one step closer to buying into your overall concept, and your idea becomes more “sticky.”

Ultimately, the goal of a communications framework is to make an idea actionable, which is the final step and requires telling a story. The story could be about the benefits that you should expect to receive from pursuing the product or idea.

Stories can take a variety of shapes, from written newsletters to marketing collateral to personal conversations and even text messages that reinforce your point and continue to create a credible and emotional bond with your audience.

If you need help sharing your next great idea through print, contact us today at 856-429-0715!

How to Use Your Competition for Strategic Expansion

GettyImages-643956820.jpgIn 2006, Aviva Weiss was struggling to help her daughter cope with a sensory-processing disorder.

As an occupational therapist who worked with children on the autism spectrum, Weiss knew how overwhelming life could be for families like hers. When she ordered her daughter a weighted vest (an item that helps overstimulated children stay focused), she was horrified when it arrived. “It was super ugly,” she said. “I thought, ‘there’s no reason that special-needs products should make kids stand out even more.’”

Weiss sensed a market opportunity and seized it, founding Fun and Function to create more attractive versions of existing products like chewable necklaces, noise-reduction headphones, or clothing that soothes children with sensory issues. Items were showcased in the company’s catalog, which was designed to put parents at ease, cutting through technical jargon to connect with families on a more authentic level.

By 2010, the company had grown sevenfold and was considering a major market expansion: targeting institutions like schools and hospitals. While these clients accounted for about 38 percent of existing sales, executive Ilana Danneman believed the number could be much higher, especially as institutional clients place recurring orders in larger quantities. Weiss was uneasy about shifting from a colloquial to a more clinical focus but she trusted Danneman’s expertise, especially since Danneman had previously worked for one of the company’s chief competitors. “We never saw a need to change anything,” Weiss says. “But we could not in good conscience ignore her.”

The shift brought incredible expansion ($6.2 million in six years) and a 50 percent growth spurt between 2015 and 2016. Weiss went on to launch the Active Mind School Partnership, a program geared to empower and educate teachers who work with neurologically distressed kids. This partnership brought the largest growth to date, reminding its founders that the company mission was never about building profits but about helping people.

Competition Fuels Innovation

Competition is healthy for businesses – forcing you to innovate and consider opportunities or markets you might otherwise ignore.

Success comes from examining the marketplace, doing something in a unique or superior way, and from crafting a plan to better serve customers.

Whether you’ve plateaued or continue to expand, it’s important to keep an eye on the competition. What are they doing that’s different? How could you serve part of their client base in a better way? Does it make sense to expand your target area?

Healthy leaders take time to plan for expansion several strategic ways:

Understanding the Competition

Take a hard look at the market.

What opportunities are your competitors filling that you may be ignoring? What do they do well that you could do better? What aren’t they doing that you could do instead?

Highlighting the Difference

Do you have cheaper prices? Customizable service options? A local connection or more ethical sourcing for products?

Find an angle in your company’s story and communicate it like crazy.

Targeting New Markets

When you have one market locked down, push to grow your boundaries.

As Fun and Function discovered, new markets lead to faster and better growth. Initially, Weiss thought a market expansion might alienate existing customers but instead she found that equipping teachers and therapists contributed to better quality of life for every sensory-challenged child.

Using Branding to Reinforces the Message

Accurate branding contributes to a clearer message and builds stability with customers.

As you adapt or expand, be sure your motive and message remains distinct. When Fun and Function expanded its market, the ethos of the brand never wavered:

“The message,” said Weiss, “is that being different is normal.”

Tips for Replying to Happy Customers

BUILD A LOYAL FOLLOWING AND A POWERFUL REFERRAL NETWORK

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Responding to happy customers on social media platforms often remains sidelined as businesses tend to focus on damage control for customer complaints. However, communicating with customers who already enjoy your products or services is the perfect way to build a loyal following and a robust referral network.

Here are a few tips to consider when responding to happy customers on social media:

    • Say thanks! While this seems obvious, many companies overlook positive comments and focus on fixing negative comments. If your resources are slim, at least “like” or “favorite” happy comments to show customers that you’ve seen their comment.
    • If you receive a great comment, take the opportunity to praise a specific worker. It will make other readers want to check his or her skills for themselves!
    • Engage with the customer and ask them questions about their experience.
    • Reinforce the positive by mentioning the behind-the-scenes reasons they had a great experience. For example, if they comment on your delicious burgers, you could say “Thank you for your comment! Did you know we only use all-natural Angus beef with no antibiotics or hormones?”
  • Share or retweet positive comments, which not only shows recognition for your customer but also offers customer-centric feedback about your business.

Small Businesses Have a Big Reach

GettyImages-938927116.jpgA tiny, Ohio-based Vita-Mix corporation has been grinding and blending for 70 years.

Known for its high-powered, durable blending machines, “Vita-Mix” was coined with an emphasis on “vita,” meaning “life.” The company was born in 1921 when founder William Barnard, after helping a friend through a significant illness, realized the tremendous impact whole-food nutrition had on health. Simple Vitamix products evolved to industrial strength mixers that could puree raw foods, blend hot soup, grind grain, or knead bread dough.

Vitamix rarely sold products internationally before the late 1990s. But as sales slowed in the U.S., the third generation of Barnard family owners decided to go global. After hiring international sales manager James Smith, exports soared to 20 percent of yearly profits, growing hundreds of new jobs in the outskirts of Cleveland. “Exporting is the salvation of our standard of living and the security of our workers,” said Smith. “It makes me proud as heck.”

A Growing Reach

Vitamix is just one small business with a large global reach.

According to 2017 statistics from the Small Business Association, nearly all of U.S. exporters are small businesses. Small businesses exported $440 billion in 2015, from nearly 288,000 firms representing 97.6 percent of all exporting firms in America. Forty-eight percent of businesses said it took them just a few months of research before they started exporting, while 36 percent said it took them a month or several months to get started.

Small businesses that export report increased sales, diversified markets, and increased long-term stability. Vitamix CEO Jodi Berg said Vitamix now exports at award-winning levels to Europe, Asia, and Australia. But before that could happen her team had to disrupt a stable business plan with a new, global vision. Does she see herself as an entrepreneur who took risks?

“I don’t,” Berg said. “To make big things happen, you have to make big moves. But big moves don’t have to be risky. If you describe a risk taker as someone who takes big moves, I’ll be that. But we did our homework.

Four Remarkable Small Business Facts

While big business often dominates headlines, small businesses play a vital role in exporting products, creating jobs, and producing wealth for thousands of families.

Here are four remarkable facts about the big impact of small businesses:

1. Nearly all are small.

Small businesses make up the vast majority of companies in America, comprising 99.9 percent of all firms. Out of 29.6 million businesses, all but 19,000 are small!

2. Half are home-based.

A home-based business may have activity outside of the home, but it is operated primarily from the home.

Industries where home-based businesses dominate include information (70 percent), construction (68.2 percent), and professional, scientific, and technical services (65.3 percent).

3. Involve family and personal financing.

About one in five small businesses are family-owned, and 21.9 percent of small firms have used personal or family savings (versus business or banking loans) to resource expansion.

4. Durable.

The one-year survival rate for businesses hit 79.9 percent in 2016, the highest level since 2006.

About half of small businesses survive five years or longer, and one-third survive 10 years or more. The longer a company is in business, the more likely it is to stay in business.

According to the National Association of Small Businesses, entrepreneurs say economic uncertainty, health insurance costs, and a decline in customer spending or cash flow are the biggest challenges they face. Still, most business owners are fairly optimistic: 75 percent say they’re confident in their own business and its future.

The Way I See It

kirkI came across an inspirational segment by Ram Dass that I thought you would also enjoy…

“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree, and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”

Here’s the way I see it: Wayne Dyer once said, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” When it comes to printing, we’ll help you create materials you’ll look forward to being judged by others. And remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close.

Booklet Envelopes

IDEAL FOR SENDING LARGE OR UNIQUELY SIZED BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS.

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Booklet envelopes are ideal for sending large or uniquely-sized business communications. Many booklet envelopes feature the flap on the long side of the envelope, as an easy way to insert and remove documents, including booklets, catalogs, folders, brochures, and more.

Booklet envelopes are available in a variety of colors and sizes, with many of the most popular sizes measuring 6”x9”, 9”x12”, or 10”x13”. Many booklet envelopes also feature heavier papers and stocks to protect important documents. Booklet envelopes can feature one to full-color promotional printing on both sides, or can even be designed as a unique translucent envelope which provides a sneak peek of the contents.

Because booklet envelopes are typically larger in size, they offer a large amount of marketing real estate that can be used as a teaser promotion for the envelope’s contents, or simply a promotional message about your business, website, upcoming sales, or much more.

If you’d like help creating the perfect booklet envelope for your essential documents, give us a call today! And remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close.

Four Reasons Great Promotional Products Work

GettyImages-1046622928.jpgBranded products are everywhere: featured in movies, professional sports, and even on your favorite jacket or thumb drive.

These products bring pleasure and familiarity while sending a message of brand support to friends and casual observers. And these ideas carry substantial weight.

Another Washington First

The first known example of distributing promotional products was in 1789.

Commemorative buttons, created to celebrate George Washington’s inauguration, featured a crisp, stamped profile of Washington and the Latin phrase “Pater Patriæ,” meaning “Father of his Country.”

Sported by patriotic Americans, the buttons celebrated American democracy and support for the first president. The passion behind this message continues to live on: in February of 2018, one of the inaugural buttons was auctioned for $225,000!

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Washington’s buttons fueled momentum, and your customers are wired to respond to promotional products too.

Eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years! If those stats don’t speak for themselves, here are four reasons that branded merchandise will work for businesses of any size:

1. Free Stuff Grabs Attention.

Like candy at a parade, free stuff draws people.

Promotional gifts catch their eye and make them wonder what the hype is about. When you give gifts, people are attracted to you. Whether its curiosity, playful interest, or eye-catching designs, giveaways generate interest and ignite conversation.

2. Product Giveaways Pave Pathways for Loyalty.

Once you have their attention, you open the door for further interaction.

This happens, in part, as new customers warm in their perception of your brand. According to Tourism Consumer Insights, 52% of those who receive your product are more likely to think highly of both you and your business. As affinity increases, so does their interest in your business, because it’s human nature to want to give back to someone who has given to us.

In a Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) study, 85% of consumers who received a promo product said they ultimately did business with the advertiser.

3. Brand Recognition Peaks Through Repeat Exposure.

What is the ultimate goal of branded products? To engage and influence buyers.

Tangible, useful products offer your business endless opportunities to distinguish itself and to do it repeatedly! According to PPAI, 73 percent of those who receive a promo product said they used it at least once a week.

Offering free items to consumers is an incredible marketing tactic that will keep your company on their minds anytime your product is in use.

4. Giveaways Extend the Life of your Message.

How long does it take you to forget a text message or delete an e-mail? Seconds.

But tangible products (especially stylish or fun items) are much harder to toss aside. As you weigh your best product option, consider the interests and needs of your target customers and create the kind of products they’ll actually want. If 75% of your prospects use public transportation, tasteful branded umbrellas might become a constant companion during their morning commute.

People love stuff. It’s just a fact. And while only 28 percent of people are able to recall a TV ad, 57 percent are typically able to recall an advertiser on a mug.

While promotional pieces bring upfront expense, the longevity and brand recognition they create is an investment that keeps on giving.

Reel in Prospects by Adding Print to Your Content Marketing

Content is king in advertising and communication concept, colorful arrows pointing to the word CONTENT at the center with chess king on black cement wall, creativity of brand website and social mediaResearchers estimate that in 1984 a person saw an average of 2,000 ads per day.

By 2014, they saw about 5,000. With the explosion in spam and social media ads, that number increases daily. But consumers are fed up with in-your-face advertising that seems disruptive or manipulative. Instead, they’re attracted to authenticity and friendliness in a brand.

How can you build that kind of culture in your business?

It’s All About Content

Narratives and content marketing can bring fresh life to your marketing mix!

Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. It shifts your team away from a “message” focus to a more optimal “people focus,” building trust and driving more profitable consumer action.

Content marketing generates stronger leads, increases sales, and enhances customer loyalty. Consider these facts:

  • 77% of internet users read blogs
  • Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without blogs
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times the leads
  • A 2014 Brandshare survey found that the majority of consumers are suspicious of brands’ intentions, but 87% said they would like a more meaningful relationship with their preferred brands

Why Print + Content Marketing = Success

When people consider content marketing, they typically think of digital media.

However, true diversification means thinking bigger. The Content Marketing Institute suggests two out of three marketers don’t include print in their content marketing, but there is strategic value to including printed content elements.

Why?

1. The Information Factor

Nielson found about 56% of consumers rely on printed matter for sales information, and:

  • 56% preferred mailed or delivered circulars
  • 52% relied on newspaper circulars
  • 37% relied on in-store printed pieces or store-generated e-mails
  • 27% relied on store websites

Print is seen as a concrete, reliable source, especially by prospects nearing a decision. If you neglect printed content marketing you may minimize your chance of landing a valuable client.

2. The Trust Factor

With today’s “fake news” paranoia, trust in digital media has decreased.

A 2017 study showed that printed news magazines are the most trusted news source (72% rated them positively) while only 33% believed social media provided honest information.

Even print versions of national newspapers were regarded as more trustworthy than the websites of that exact same publication!

Because of the physical nature of the medium, print is naturally viewed as more informative and trustworthy than digital media.

So how can you add print to your content marketing strategies?

  1. Use embedded QR codes in game-style promotions or in-store displays. Check some inspiring examples here or here.
  2. Look for ways to get your business or product featured in magazine or newspaper articles.
  3. Employ printed “how to” postcards or maintenance checklists with online coupon discounts included in the text.
  4. Print inserts for invoices or point-of-sale kiosks that highlight an excerpt of your blog to lead them online.
  5. Consider generating your own quarterly or bi-annual niche publication.
  6. Print custom thank-you notes with a snippet of your brand story or the first paragraph of your blog on the back.

Printed content marketing should be used as “bait” to generate nibbles from your potential customers.

If you don’t have a place to reel them in (like a “get started today” link) or a way to keep them in the net (a defined sales funnel or a customer retention program), all your time and energy will be useless. So be strategic, be customer-focused, and get out there and fish!

Out-of-Office Messages with Personality

Market-353For many people, taking time away from work can be difficult, but setting up your out of office (OOO) message is one of the first steps that can help you disconnect and feel less stressed when you are away from work.

Many people are hesitant to disconnect entirely from their email, even when on vacation, and fear an OOO could lead to missed opportunities. However, OOO messages can be a creative way to create emotional connections with prospects, clients, and coworkers.

Regardless of why you are out of the office, your message can help recipients feel more connected to you socially and can even serve as a conversation starter the next time you speak.

For example, you could say “Hi, I’m away from the office celebrating our 20th Anniversary with my beautiful wife. I’m hoping to perfect my sailing skills, and if I’m lucky, I will have a story to tell you about catching a few great fish! I won’t be checking my emails until (date), but if you need something urgent, please contact (add name and email).”

Another creative OOO that you can customize for contacts already in your address book could include sharing a helpful resource, such as saying, “I’m out of the office at a conference until (date), but in the meantime, I wanted to share this article featuring 20 great tips for XX. Enjoy!”

Not only can a well-crafted OOO give you the separation you need from your business emails, but it can also give you the opportunity to connect with your contacts more deeply upon your return.

The Power of Teamwork

kirkSurely you’ve heard of “The Avengers”… a group of superheroes who, despite their differences, work together towards a common purpose. Regardless if you are a comic fan, “The Avengers” offer an important lesson about teamwork and, more importantly, the value of teams.

“The Avengers” teach a valuable lesson that the power of one (team) is better than one person. A successful team becomes a genuinely cohesive unit that functions with a single purpose, giving them the power to accomplish wonders. Becoming a team can be challenging and requires all members to put their egos aside and trust one another. Team members respect and trust one another despite their disagreements, and see the value that each member brings to the table. Every member of a team serves a different purpose, but no one member is more important than another.

Here’s the way I see it: A wise man once said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Give us a call the next time you need help on an important printing project. We’d love to become an extension of your dream team!

Leaving a Legacy with Your Small Business

In the 1950s, a young boy named John was enthralled by every chance to visit his best friend.

This family owned a soda pop bottling plant, which sparked a lifelong love for exotic flavors in John Nese. Years later, Nese brought soda to his family’s Italian grocery store in Los Angeles, known today for its 600 soda and beer flavors from around the world.

The variety wasn’t always this broad. Nese said the change came 20 years ago when independent grocers were being squeezed out by chains. One soda dealer offered a profit of $30 a pallet if Nese would streamline shelves and eliminate variety. Nese wouldn’t bite:

“Nuts to that,” he said. “A light bulb went off (and I said), ‘You know, John, you should be happy you own your shelf space, and Pepsi doesn’t, and you can sell anything you want.’ So I went out and found 25 brands of little sodas.”

Nese says this “freedom of choice” philosophy defines his family and his business, and customers can even make flavors of their own at the store. Rows of cane sugar syrups line the wall, along with bottles, caps, and carbonated water dispensers. “Whatever you think of, you can make!” Nese exclaimed.

This passion has fueled the Galcos’ grocery for over a century, and the Galcos plan to continue this legacy.

Successfully Passing Down Your Business

Small businesses make up around 99 percent of U.S. companies and 20 percent of these are family owned.

These businesses play a crucial role in creating jobs, exporting products, and generating wealth. As Baby Boomers reach retirement, 4 million of them will be handing off their privately-owned small businesses; in the next 15 years, we will see the largest transfer ever of private business to the next generation!

What are the keys to successfully navigating these transitions?

Preparation and communication are essential. Here are a few steps businesses are taking to pave the way for a smooth handoff:

Think decades in advance.

Small business owners often wait too long to start planning a transition, and typically only half of those planning to retire have identified a successor.

Justin Goodbread, a certified financial planner and exit planning advisor says the process is especially weighty for families:

“Families will most likely also have to cope with emotional and psychological issues that surface during a generational transaction. I believe a 10-year period is needed to successfully navigate a family business transaction.”

Sketch out clear successors and exit strategies.

A strong mission statement and business plan, a clear exit strategy for senior leaders, and an early commitment from successors are important hallmarks to longevity.

Build the right team.

Many businesses believe they can manage their transition independently, but this assumption is costly.

Healthy handoffs will require input from lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, business valuation experts, and a family business planner to shepherd the process. Though senior leaders may wish to gift the business ownership, experts believe financial buy-ins allow successors to get some “skin in the game,” as they emotionally double-down in commitment, maturity, and vision.

Be flexible as you exchange roles and responsibilities over time.

The gap between generations requires effective communication and an organized structure for each person involved.

This should be reviewed regularly to adjust the roles or time commitment of each team member. Goodbread recommends younger successors earn more responsibility on a day-to-day basis:

“It has to be earned or merited,” he says. “The problems start when a junior takes over a senior’s position in the company without earning it or wanting the position.”

Use Great Body Language to Speak with Success

Communication conceptRamona Smith, a 31-year-old Houston teacher, has faced many challenges, including coaxing her son through cancer and struggling through a divorce.

But Smith believes life is about more than what knocks you down, it’s about the lifelines people offer to help you back up.

One of Smith’s lifelines was the mentorship she found in Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership. In her 2018 speech, “Still Standing,” Smith posed as a fighter on stage and talked about surviving round after round with life but bouncing back again. Her accomplishments include dropping out of college four times (before graduating at the top of her class) and, most recently, being crowned the Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking in Chicago.

Smith outlasted 30,000 other competitors over six months of competition before being named the champion in August. Her success comes not only from her will to fight but from one speaking technique that helped her connect:

“If my hands are open to the audience, and my fists are not closed, and my arms are not too tight toward my body, it just makes the audience feel more connected, like I’m really open,” Smith said. “I’m vulnerable, and I want to give you all of me. And it makes me look relaxed and comfortable.”

Dananjaya Hettiarchchi, a human-resources specialist who won the Toastmasters competition in 2014, broke down the effectiveness of this technique:

“If you really concentrate, when you look at the inside of your palm, your eye relaxes,” Hettiarchchi said. “And a lot of great speakers, they open their palms towards the audience, showing more openness. And that allows the audience to connect with the speaker better, as opposed to showing the back of your hand.”

Best Body Language for Effective Presentations

If a simple gesture can have such an impact, what other nonverbal communication can increase our impact? Check out these tips from some of the world’s most personable communicators to increase your own credibility.

DO:

  • Open your hands toward the audience to relax and connect.
  • Use facial expressions with purpose. Sometimes when we’re nervous our face freezes up. If you don’t have an expressive face, work with a mirror to see how your expressions reinforce your message. Give your entire talk silently (while forming each word) and let your face do the communicating!
  • Maintain intentional eye contact. Leaders who speak over people’s heads or get buried in their notes seem impersonal or insincere. When you speak, move from face to face, making eye contact with one person at a time to ensure your audience is engaged. When answering a question, use extended eye contact to convey sincerity.

DON’T:

  • Hide, clasp, or fidget with your hands. This implies you don’t believe what you’re saying, or shows meekness that fails to command attention. Instead, keep your arms forward in an open manner. Use your hands to explain your point through confident, concise movements.
  • Plan your gestures in advance. Physical expression in presentations should arise spontaneously. Though body language is important, planned movements will seem awkward or inauthentic. Instead, plan key moments where you might take a different position in the room or how you will use visual aids to keep communication transparent.
  • Roam aimlessly or exhibit poor posture. Body language communicates a lot about your character, so pacing can make you seem jumpy or slumped shoulders may convey discouragement and apathy. Instead, move with purpose in your presentations. Aim for a neutral position, sitting or standing tall like a string is connecting your head to the ceiling.

Remember, the most important visual you can show your audience is yourself! Sharpen non-verbal communication skills and reap the benefits of credibility and respect!

Easy Apps for Visual Storytelling

Tech-352.jpgCREATE SHORT AND ENGAGING VIDEO SNIPPETS

Here are a few apps that make it easy to create short and engaging video snippets for social media and marketing content:

    • Adobe Spark is a free online and mobile graphic design app which allows you to create beautiful images, videos, and web pages easily.
    • Lively enables you to convert live photos to GIFs and video.
    • Canva Animations adds animation to simple design. Just create your design, go to “Download,” and select “Animated GIF/Movie” from the drop-down menu. From there, you can choose an animation style and download it as a GIF or movie. Note: the app works best with the simple Canva templates. If your design is too complicated, Canva may not offer the option to animate it.
    • Ripl can be used to create animated, eye-catching posts and short video snippets. Choose from 200+ animated designs to easily create posts that fit your unique brand. You can add your photo(s) and text, choose a design template, customize the post for your business, and share in one tap to your social media accounts.
    • Apple Clips (available on iOS only) is a basic video tool for making short videos with added text, effects, graphics, and more.
    • Quick is Go Pro’s super simple video creation tool which allows you to create cool videos quickly.
    • Videorama makes editing video easy and will enable you to add transitions, use stock videos and images, edit the video length, add transitions, add music, slow or speed up video, and more.
    • Boomerang is a short video snippet that repeats.
    • Rewind is an app that shows your video content in reverse.

If you’d like help creating stunning print marketing materials to complement your social efforts, give us a call today at 856-429-0715!

Four Tips for Authentic Photography in Marketing

GettyImages-834741464.jpgIn a digitally saturated generation, today’s marketer’s need great stories and striking, memorable images.

Regardless of your business or your market niche, powerful visuals can make all the difference! Consider these statistics:

  • Articles with relevant images average 94 percent more views than text alone and a press release with photos increases online views by 15 percent.
  • Sixty percent of consumers who use online searches prefer to contact a business whose listing includes an image.
  • 70 percent of e-commerce shoppers say the product image is very important for purchasing decisions.

Your viewers crave expressive images, so photography is crucial in marketing. Photography offers a slice of life view that communicates authenticity and value to your customers. How well do your images translate the nature of your business? Are you using drab photos or bland stock selections? Three benchmarks to evaluate your images are:

Engagement and Emotional Response

What emotions do your photos evoke?

How does the atmosphere of the photo connect with your viewer’s passion or life experience? Does it compel viewers to lean in or linger?

Brand Story and Context

What is the bigger brand story you want to tell?

Excellent photography adds credibility to this message because visuals increase the detail you bring to your message. Do your images hammer home your story?

Momentum and Shareability

Photographs can send numbers skyrocketing because people love to share captivating images!

As you employ vibrant photos, you increase your chance of people passing along your name, chatting about your product, or returning for a purchase. How much momentum do your images create?

4 Tips From Photography DIY-ers

What if you want to use more realistic photos but can’t afford to hire a professional?

By pairing modern technology with a few photography guidelines, even an amateur shutterbug can make photos pop! Here are four tips from the pros to get you started:

Rule #1: Avoid Low-Resolution Shots from Your Phone

While a casual snapshot can work for social media, if you are planning to share photos regularly, invest in a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) and check out an online tutorial. Even small investments will ensure the quality of your photos reflects the excellence of your business.

Rule #2: Use the Rule of Thirds

Most DSLR cameras can display their grid, which includes nine even squares. If your subject is directly in the center of the grid, the image will be more static because the eye is drawn to the image but has nowhere to travel from there. When your subject is positioned closer to the edges, the eye is forced to track toward it or be “drawn in” to the bigger message.

Rule #3: Think Slice of Life

What do you want to tell your clients about your business? Say it in photos! If social media or reality TV have taught us anything, it’s that people love following the ordinary activities of others. Casual photos of your team doing business are perfect for showing off your identity and featuring your unique competitive advantage.

Rule #4: Make Use of Natural Lighting

Ever think you’ve captured the perfect photo only to find the sun has wrecked it? On a sunny day, most photos will be compromised by shadows or overexposure. Overcast hues are better because the light is softer and more diffused. For best results, place your camera in a position where the light is coming from behind you and shining directly on your subject.

Marketing is all about communicating value to your clients. For more tips on putting photography to grow momentum and authenticity, give us a call at 856-429-0715!

Promote it with a Postcard

A VERSATILE AND AFFORDABLE MARKETING TOOL

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Postcards are a versatile and affordable marketing tool that can boost recognition and sales. Because postcard coupons don’t have an exterior envelope, they grab attention with a bold message and get to the point quickly. Here are a few creative postcard ideas to consider for your next marketing campaign:

    • Express your gratitude by sending a postcard with a handwritten thank you note.
    • Design your postcard as a coupon to help increase sales.
    • Use postcards as a tradeshow pre-mailer, with a convenient tearaway portion to drop at your booth for a chance to win door prizes or other giveaways.
    • Demand attention with a folded or oversized postcard, which also has more room for information.
    • Extend the life of your mailing with a tearaway reply card, information request form, or business card.
    • Save on postage and envelope costs by designing your newsletter, brochure, or catalog as an oversized postcard.
    • Create a “we’ve missed you” or product reorder reminder campaign to help reactivate old customers and boost sales.
    • Consider adding a magnet to the back of “save the date” postcards to increase their staying power.
    • Create a monthly product spotlight postcard campaign that highlights various products or services you offer, and includes a coupon discount.

If you need help creating the perfect postcard your customers will love, let us know today!

Start Mouth-Watering Conversations Through Word-of-Mouth Marketing

GettyImages-472581106.jpgKaren Weber-Mendham was a part-time librarian and mother of three when she turned her family’s propensity for garlic cheesy bread into a cool million.

This northern Wisconsin family often ordered cheesy bread while waiting on pizza. Weber-Mendham said the kids’ appetizer passion was so strong “they would arm-wrestle each other for a piece!”

Cheesy fever inspired the family to enter the 2013 Lay’s potato chip competition, “Do Us a Flavor,” challenging customers to create a new chip flavor to hit store shelves that year. Lays was swamped with 3.8 million submissions as the contest winner was given the better of two options: $1 million or 1% of the flavor’s net sales over a year. Beyond fame and fortune, Weber-Mendham was given the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and was flown to Los Angeles for the big reveal with Lay’s endorsement celebrity Eva Longoria.

“Eva was so genuine and happy for me when I won,” Weber-Mendham said. And yes, “She’s as beautiful in person as she looks on TV.”

Catalysts for a Great Conversation

What was Lays up to in this fun-loving campaign?

Were they desperate for creative ideas? Hungry for the inspiration only average citizens could bring? Or did they strike gold by tapping into a conversation with everyday Americans?

Word-of-mouth promotion has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing, tagged “the original social media.” According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, and trusted referrals are most likely to drive sales for your company. But in an American Marketing Association survey, 64% of marketing executives say that, though they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing, only 6% have mastered it.

As you seek to generate good gossip about your company, here are three action points to keep in mind:

Engage

Make a commitment to listen.

What would that truly look like in your context? Allow your customers’ space to be heard and to contribute to the company as a whole. Engage with clients through e-mail surveys, online question and answer boards, social media service options, or by highlighting customer success in your printed newsletters. When customers are heard, they feel connected and valued.

Encourage

Allow people reasons or avenues to talk to each other or to talk about you.

Like a common chalkboard with a fun question in your favorite coffee shop, invite clients into the conversation and give them tools to chat. Encourage people to talk about your services and products with you and with others by creating helpful, shareable content, including icons to your favorite apps that will make it easy for your fans to spread your name around!

Equip

Give your fan base tools to become brand advocates.

Let them know their opinions are important and look for fun ways to spread the word. To create buzz around the Ford Fiesta, Ford gave away a number of cars and asked ambassador “influencers” to test drive and share their experiences.

During “Do Us a Flavor,” Lays received over 1.4 million Facebook and Twitter votes, one of its biggest marketing campaigns ever. While you may not give away a car, give away tools to get your fans advocating: ask clients to pass coupons to five of their friends, to give you an online review, or be part of a fun selfie or Snapchat contest to boost your reputation.

Get the conversation started and pave the way for new growth!

Rethink Your Business Cards

Product-352.jpgA NEW TWIST ON AN OLD CLASSIC

Who says business cards have to be boring? If you’d like to put a new twist on an old classic, why not try turning your business card into a label or a magnet? Label or magnet business cards offer alternative ways to creatively distribute your contact information.

When printed on a label, you can easily affix your business card and ensure it won’t get lost or misplaced on product samples, literature, packages, booklets, quotes, envelopes, etc.

When printed on a magnet, you provide a convenient way for your contact information to be readily available and ensure front-of-mind awareness.

If you’re interested in label or magnet business cards but aren’t sure how often you would use them, try ordering a small run of 50 to 100 using the same template as your conventional business cards. It will be fun to get customer feedback and will be less expensive to see if this creative idea is something you’ll stick with!

The Snake and the Saw

kirkOne night a curious snake was out looking for food and entered a carpenter’s workshop. The carpenter, who was not very organized, left several tools lying on the floor. One of the tools was a sharp saw. As the snake was snooping around the shop, he climbed over the saw and got a small cut. Assuming that something was attacking him, the snaked turned around and bit the saw so hard that he cut his mouth. This made him angry and he coiled his body around it and attacked again and again and again until the saw was covered in blood and appear to be dead. The snake died from his own wounds.

Here’s the way I see it: Sometimes when we are focused on trying to hurt others, we only wind up hurting ourselves. We’d love the opportunity to work on your next important printing project… with happiness guaranteed!

The Power of Store Ambiance and Sensory Cues Unmistakable Ambiance

GettyImages-854010066.jpgAs viewers enter the Richard Mille watch boutique in Paris, their senses are inundated with beauty. Large glass panels are etched with details of the emblematic RM tourbillon, giving viewers the sensation that they might be entering the heart of the watch itself. Extreme elegance buoys buyers through the store, with black leather chairs, Macassar ebony, and brushed steel accents. The impact is palpable.

As a primary showcase of the watches, these interior design elements are vital. The Paris boutique offers a theatrical look with a touch of femininity. “I wanted to go against the traditional macho design, with its dark materials, cold metals, and dark atmosphere,” said Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, the watchmaker’s creative director. “I thought we needed to open the shops, give light and add lighter colors.”

Treton-Monceyron says she’s stirred by functional spaces like hotels, airports, and factories, rather than drawing inspiration from typical retail designs. The space itself is her muse: “I was a choreographer and dancer before,” she said, “so I look at a shop from a stage design vantage point and move inside the space — using my own body to sense the space left and right and position everything from the watch displays to sofas to walls.”

Increased Personalization Through Sensory Impact

As today’s merchants seek to grow online sales, businesses are also showcasing more personalized experiences in their stores.

The ambiance is imperative: 1 in 5 consumers said they choose to shop in person because of an enjoyable atmosphere. From convenience stores to car showrooms, merchants hope to connect their product with its people through environmental elements that generate sales. Sensory impact plays a principal role:

“Advertisers are increasingly aware of the influence sensory cues can play,” said Ryan Elder, associate professor of marketing at Bringham Young University. “Our research dives into which specific sensory experiences will be most effective in an advertisement, and why.” Data found that people caught in sensory experiences (like taste or touch) were more likely to buy at an earlier time, and suggested consumer behavior can be influenced by both actual and imagined sensory experiences like sounds and smells. Even online reviews that articulated these features were ranked higher in terms of how useful they were to others.

Drive Sales for Ambivalent Customers

With 37% of U.S. consumers saying that being in the “right mood” spurs impulse purchases, here are some elements that can drive sales for ambivalent customers:

Music and Scent: What are the first things people hear or smell when they enter your establishment? Does the “first impression” profile you display match the brand message you want to project? Like songs or smells adjusted to the holidays or festive events, details create emotional connections with clients, giving brick-and-mortar shops an advantage e-tailers simply can’t match.

Décor: From colorful artwork to oversized custom posters, match your décor with your target patrons. Build an ambiance that will encourage customers to linger. And don’t underestimate an uncluttered, tidy environment: a 1997 study showed customer satisfaction was greater in “pleasant” (versus disorganized) furniture stores. Customers in pleasant stores spontaneously spent more money on articles they simply “liked.”

Spacial Layouts: What does your store blueprint or interior signage communicate? Are you looking for a consistent, orderly flow or a casual, flexible feel? For Richard Mille, directional (yet conversational) spaces were key. Trenton-Monceyron says she designs open spaces to admire and dialogue because the brand believes watch shops are about more than just sales:

“They are like the salon of conversation of Marguerite de Navarre during the 16th century; a place where you can come just for visit, discuss and exchange a point of view.”

Keys for Change: Small Businesses Making a Big Impact (Part 2)

GettyImages-869281580.jpgConnor’s Collision Center of Richmond, Virginia, was looking for a way to build a charitable culture in their business, so they launched the “Recycled Rides” program and began donating rehabbed vehicles to individuals nominated by the community.

In part 1 of this series, we explored the story of one changed life (Georgette Carter) and the way businesses are strengthened through innovative corporate giving.

What about your business?

Maybe you can’t rehab cars, but every company can give back in some way! That starts with a desire to grow in generosity and a plan to carry that out. Unfortunately, some business owners pull back from giving because they find themselves strained by the number of needs or a plethora of last-minute requests. To grow in giving, they need a narrowed support focus to help them move ahead.

Identify Brand-Extending Areas of Support

Smaller companies may find it helpful to develop target giving priorities that relate to their mission or their brand.

These funding priorities can be publicized through an application process which sifts out casual candidates and allows employees managing requests to process them in a scheduled, thoughtful manner. As you narrow your giving focus (i.e. schools, sustainable community solutions), key in on priorities that are close at heart and well-suited for both your brand and your community.

Greg O’Neill, co-owner of four Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine shops in Chicago, said this strategic giving shift was key for their company:

“Small businesses get inundated [with requests] and it’s really hard to say no. We’re a bulls-eye for anyone and everyone looking for donation, sponsorship, philanthropy and giving of any kind. A lot of businesses say yes, yes, yes and give until it hurts.”

O’Neill’s team implemented an application process, identified sustainable agriculture and feeding programs as a funding priority, and scheduled key deadlines for recipients. As a result, the number of requests declined and the number of meaningful partnerships increased.

“We tend to do fewer one-off donations now,” O’Neill says, “and instead we create more relationships.”

If your company chooses to donate to causes outside key funding priorities, there are additional strategies to make your contribution stretch farther than the gift itself:

  • Offer coupons for high-dollar products or services that don’t cost much to your company
  • Consider in-kind gifts and allow employees to use workday hours to participate
  • Rather than just giving cash, reach out to your best sales rep. Buy a case of one good item from them and donate it to the event or cause
  • Host a yearly contest where your community or employees can submit nominations for someone needing a hand. Document the results and include them in your newsletter or company Christmas card to spread the holiday cheer!

As you seek to give strategically, here are four questions to consider:

  1. What brand extending areas will you support?
  2. How can you publicize your giving priorities in a way that structures the giving process and streamlines requests?
  3. How can you affirm employees who go the extra mile to give beyond the walls of your office?
  4. How can your compassion be print-recognized (i.e. banners or photo murals) to make it a more mutually beneficial partnership?

Your charitable efforts may be humble, but they are unique to you and they make a tangible difference in your community. While generosity begins in the heart, often innovative community support begins with your business!

Custom Candy Bar Bands

MAKE YOUR SWEETS LOOK EVEN SWEETER

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Custom printed candy bar bands make your sweets look even sweeter with custom packaging. They are a great way to promote your brand and custom message for fundraisers, special events and celebrations, and much more!

Candy bar bands are available in a variety of papers, shapes, and sizes, and can be enhanced with unique effects like die cutting, embossing, and foil stamping. They can be designed to close with peel and seal closure, glue, double-sided tape, or a customized label, such as a monogram symbol or corporate anniversary seal.

If you’d like help creating unique candy bar sleeves for your next event or fundraiser, stop by or give us a call today at 856-429-0715!

Keys for Change: Small Businesses Making a Big Impact

GettyImages-853185816.jpgThe winter of 2013 was a hard one for Georgette Carter.

As a single mom raising two young boys while she cared for a father with dementia, money was very tight. Then, she totaled her car and found her resources – and her hope – were nearly gone. That is, until a 1996 blue Ford Contour arrived from the Connor Brother Collisions “Recycled Rides” program.

Conner Brothers of Richmond, VA, overhauls donated cars and awards them to people who have been nominated by community members. Carter said her heart was rehabilitated almost more than the car she received:

“It turned my life around. I can get to my job on time, and I don’t have to maneuver to get my child out of daycare. I’ll never take that for granted again.”

Getting Others Involved

Small businesses like Conner Brothers are creating innovative giving models that not only impact people but strengthen the business and the character of the companies themselves.

Kevin Conner said his company donated its first car and was looking to extend the “Recycled Rides” program to three other locations, but they had some pushback in the process. Some objected to giving away freebies when they were working so hard to earn a living themselves. But Conner says this mentality changed when employees got physically involved because compassion comes from being part of an experience instead of merely giving a donation:

“I got them involved in actually giving the cars away, handing over the keys,” Conner says. “Now the guys at the shop call me and ask, ‘When is our next car?’ It would be easy to give money or a service here or there, but it’s the teamwork behind the program that creates an amazing atmosphere for a successful company.”

The car giveaways have become such a cornerstone for Conner Brothers that the program helps define the type of employees the company wants.

“Giving back is a huge part of our company,” Conner says. “I challenge the guys every day to give back in some way, to give customers more than they expect. People remember that.”

Giving That “Changes” Lives

Another giving strategy comes from literal pocket change, as givers round up or down for charity.

For example, the ridesharing company Lyft recently launched an initiative allowing customers to round up their fare to the nearest dollar for military appreciation and human rights campaigns. More than 40,000 passengers donated over $100,000 in the first two months!

Grocery stores, mass merchandisers, and retailers have also invited customers to donate change to worthy causes. As technology and digital platforms make such giving easier, small businesses have challenged staff members to round down their net pay to the nearest dollar (or tenth dollar) and give the difference to charity. While painless or even unnoticed, these small donations add up to a collective impact with heartfelt results.

Whether your employees give financially, volunteer together, or embrace a community partnership project, innovative giving helps your business to:

  • Stand out from competitors or set itself apart in the community
  • Make matching donations alongside employee giving to multiply impact
  • Use positive feedback from supported causes to provide content for print and digital marketing
  • Increase team unity as employees give toward a common cause

While generosity begins in the heart, often innovative giving strategies begin with small business. Join us for part two of this series to gain more inspiration for a culture of charity that will strengthen your business.

Printed Gifts Are Perfect Any Time of Year

GettyImages-517492290.jpgProviding your customers with a small memento of your business is one of the best ways to keep your brand top-of-mind.

However, many business owners struggle with ideas about what they can use as gifts that are cost-effective, memorable, and useful to their clients. There are plenty of options on the market today in terms of promotional products, but a thoughtful printed gift may be the ideal option for your business.

Here are some of the ways that businesses are making themselves memorable in print!

The Gift of Humor

Knock knock. Who’s there? Etch. Etch who? Bless you, friend.

There are few things that will put a smile on someone’s face more quickly than a corny knock-knock joke. You know they are terrible, but you still have to smile! Your customers will feel the same way, so why not gift them with a little light and laughter in their life? A small printed joke book is the perfect way to let your customers know you’re thinking about them. Humor has been shown to build trust and inspire creative thinking — what better gifts could you provide to your best customers?

Giving Notes

Many organizations are clear and consistent with their message of helping others, so why not extend this concept?

A simple printed postcard or notecard showing your clients that you contributed to a specific charity on their behalf is a terrific way of showing your commitment to giving back to the community and the world. Prefer to have a more lasting memory for your customers? Printed magnets or labels will also help you share the message of generosity.

Office Supplies

Who “borrowed” my notepad this time?!?

Offices throughout the country hear this cry on a regular basis, so why not take away some of this pain? Printed pop-up notes or notepads are an inexpensive gift that will be appreciated for weeks — or even months. Plus, you can add your brand in a way that not only are you sharing your message with the individual sending the note, but the recipient will also have a positive association with your brand, too. Instead of doing a simple blank note, why not print inspirational statements on them or create bold “Thank You” messages on the notepad? Your customers will love being able to share them with friends at work.

Desktop Prints

Motivational posters or prints are always a welcome gift, as they help clients stay encouraged even when they’re going through a rough patch.

A simple mini-print is ideal for this situation, and you can even upgrade to a small matted display for your best customers. Help customers see how much they mean to you by sharing a heartfelt note that brings together your brand promise and shows how far above and beyond you are willing to go to provide top-notch service.

These are only a few of the ways you can share the appreciation that you feel for your clients on a daily basis. How do you show appreciation for your clients?

Employee Newsletters

Market-351While many companies use newsletters to build relationships with their customers, many overlook the team building potential that an internal newsletter could have on their own employees. An employee newsletter is a great way to boost employee morale and focus on their successes.

Here are a few tips for creating an employee newsletter your team will love:

    • Include “Employee Spotlight” articles as a fun way for employees to get to know each other. The info could range from the employee’s position within your company to their hobbies, interests, family photos, etc.
    • Acknowledge employee birthdays, corporate anniversaries, new hires, promotions, team successes, and more.
    • Keep your team informed with customer survey results, customer compliments, and thank you notes from appreciative customers.
    • Assign a few teams to specific parts of the newsletter each month, such as pulling company stats (sales volume, tradeshow outcomes, etc.), taking photos at company events, etc.
    • Create an ideas library. Stockpile various ideas, photos, jokes, quotes, seasonal graphics, etc. to save time down the road.

Our creative team would love to offer ideas if you need help creating or getting started on a newsletter. Give us a call at 856-429-0715 or stop by today.

Memory is Like Salt

kirkA friend told me a story about two men who happen to run into each other at their favorite spot every day – on a bench located near the beach. The one man said to the other, “You look miles away… what are you thinking about?” The other man replied, “Every day, I dream about how I was sitting on this same bench 25 years ago with my wife. She always loved to get up and dance on the beach like no one was watching. Now I come here daily to try to relive the memories.”

The first man replied, “That’s great to enjoy your memories, but don’t forget that memory is like salt. The right amount brings out the flavor in food, and too much ruins it. If you live in the past all the time, you’ll find yourself with no present to remember.”

Here’s the way I see it: Dr. Seuss said it best, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” And remember, we’re here to help with your important printing so you can focus on the more important things in life.

Color Combinations that Tax the Brain Easy on the Eye

GettyImages-616121574.jpgHumans are creative beings, and one of our favorite ways to express ourselves is through words.

Words can bring sweetness to the soul, arouse dormant hunger, or give voice to beauty in the world.

That’s why names are such serious business. How much thought do we give to naming a pet? Or a child? Beautiful names can bring a charming nostalgia or an air of sophistication to the bearer.

But while some names are sweet on the ear, they don’t translate well for the eye, causing potentially years of frustration for your grade-schooler (or your veterinarian!).

Here are five names that are fun for the ear but a nightmare for the eye:

Eulalia (Yu-LAY-Lia), like the mayor’s wife in The Music Man

Azaiah (Az-EYE-ah), which has rocketed in popularity since 2000

Grigoriy (Grig-OR-y), a Russian variant of Gregory, meaning “vigilant or watchful”

Bludeuwedd (Bloo-da-e-wedd), referenced in Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, a Welsh name meaning “face of flowers”

Aelwen (Eisel-wen), originating in England, with versions of the name in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literature

Color Combinations that Tax the Brain

Some things are beautiful in concept but difficult in reality.

Similarly, certain images or color combinations are challenging for your eyes as well!

Have you ever seen a website that seems to chafe your eyeballs? A fabric pattern that makes you intrinsically recoil? This is actually not just a “tacky” color combination, it is a brain hijack: your brain gets misled into viewing these colors in 3D. Some colors appear to recede, while others float forward.

For example, the combination of blue and red can be very difficult for the eye to process. One color may jump out while the other appears buried or muted. This effect, referred to as chromostereopsis, was first noted by Goethe in his Farbenlehre (Theory of Colours).

Goethe recognized blue as a receding color and yellow/red as a protruding or dominant force, arguing that, “like we see the high sky, the faraway mountains, as blue, in the same way, a blue field (also) seems to recede.” This phenomenon explains the visual science behind how we perceive colors and objects and is extremely important when you consider layouts and color combinations for print.

Some Important Color Takeaways

As you choose color combinations, here are some chromostereopsis design takeaways to consider:

  • Avoid putting blue and red (or green and red) near each other on a page or screen.
  • Avoid putting blue or green text on a red background (or red/green text on a blue background).
  • If the color combinations you’re using seem obnoxious, adjust the hue or filters to mute more jarring pure tones.
  • Separate contrasting colors, either spatially or semantically (like using lines or charts to divide them). This will prevent viewers from having to pay attention to items of both colors at the same time.
  • If you want to use chromostereopsis to your advantage, try using a jarring color combination in the background with a contrasting color on top (like white text on a black and red background, as we see here).

When the dynamics of good design are utilized, viewers will look at your images longer and perceive your ideas more clearly. So, stretch your designs but don’t strain their brains!

Tips to Push the Envelope

ENSURE YOUR ENVELOPES GET NOTICED AND OPENED

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Envelopes are just as important as the marketing materials inside them. If your audience doesn’t open your envelope, your entire effort is a loss. Here are a few ways to ensure your envelopes get noticed and opened:

    • Plan your envelope design early – it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Design your envelope with the contents in mind, including a teaser, deadline, photo, or description of what’s inside.
    • Consider a variety of colors and textures (linen, cockle, matte, translucent, coated, glossy, metallic, etc.).
    • Include a hook message that piques the curiosity of your reader, such as “Open immediately to see your savings!”
    • Consider an oversized envelope that will stand apart in a stack of mail.
    • Address the reverse side of an envelope (the side with the flap) and reserve the full front as a mini-billboard for your marketing message.
    • Take advantage of your marketing real estate by printing on both sides of the envelope.
    • Consider adding stickers to add emphasis, such as anniversary seals, product guarantee labels, or a warranty sticker.

Do you need help getting your creative juices flowing? Ask us for some promotional envelope samples today!

 

Customize Printed Mailings to Maximize Your Impact

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One of the best ways that brands can engage their customers is by making people feel valued and unique.

Brands that are able to provide their customers with this feeling of connection are going to be one step closer to creating true advocates for their brand. Perhaps one of the best ways that modern organizations can offer a customized experience is through meaningful personalization — far beyond the “Dear Friend” found in some mass mailings.

See how businesses are using personalization in their printed materials to create an experience that customers will appreciate and remember.

Tailored Offers Drive Traffic

Grocery stores are able to effectively track a massive number of items and customers, including when and where they purchased specific products.

While your business may not be quite that complex, you can certainly track in a more simplistic way in order to offer timely and meaningful coupons to your customers. For instance, offering a discount card tied to someone’s phone number allows you to discover which days of the week they are coming to see you and how often. Upsell your services by providing discounts on off-days when they may not visit or to shorten the time between services. This strategy works especially well for service-based businesses such as hair and nail salons.

Treating People Like Family

If you are able to capture additional information about your customers such as the age of children, this allows you a greater opportunity to customize your message.

Knowing the general age of your customers or whether they’re empty-nesters, young parents, or an older retired couple provides you with the information that you need to create offers that are more compelling. One example would be a restaurant whose tables are nearly empty on a Wednesday night. Sending information to young families that Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays is likely to bring in a wealth of new business on that evening and keep your tables full.

Move-In Special

There are many businesses that thrive on new families moving into the area — from retail establishments to grocery stores and everything in between.

Consider working with a few complimentary businesses in your region to create a move-in special: a package of offerings that can be mailed to families just as they move into the area. These hot new potential customers have not yet formed an opinion of the area and will need to create new shopping patterns. If your offer comes at the perfect time as they’re moving in and purchasing new products for their home, they are likely to continue visiting your establishment over the years.

There are many different ways that your business can take advantage of a compelling, personalized offer in print. Contact us today to discuss your next printing project: 856-429-0715 or visit http://www.sjprinter.com.