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

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

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

Let the Employee Be Your Guide

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

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

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

The Larger Implications of Communication

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

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

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

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

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

Communicate Faster

AN IMPORTANT SKILL FOR SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATIONS

Marketing-322.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does Back to School Begin?

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

How Early is Too Early?

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

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

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

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

Make Back to School Time Count for your Brand

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

http://www.sjprinter.com

Broken

kirk

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

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

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

Foiled-Pressed Cards

ADD CLASS AND HIGHLIGHT THE IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY MARKETING PIECE

Product-321_001.jpg

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

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

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

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

Indra Nooyi: A Story in Being Yourself and Persistence

ThinkstockPhotos-500841556.jpg

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

Some Compelling Advice

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

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

What Makes A Person Successful?

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

A Better Choice

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

Creative Folding

STAND APART FROM THE COMPETITION

Marketing-321.jpg

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

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

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

Nourish Creativity with a Visual Diary

NOURISH YOUR CREATIVITY

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

Steps to Succeeding with a Visual Diary

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

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

visualDiary-SketchPad2

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

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

 

visualDiary-SketchPad1.jpg

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

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

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

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

 

Social Media and Your Marketing Strategy

ThinkstockPhotos-516823778.jpg

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

Do You Have Followers on Your Facebook Page?

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

Utilizing an Opt-In Texting Campaign

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

Consider Trying Twitter

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

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

5 Tips for Effective Direct Mail

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

1. Set Your Goals

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

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

2. The Mailing List

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

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

3. The Demographic

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

4. Clarity Rules

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

5. From Direct Mail to Online

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

The Right Ingredients

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

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

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

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

Tips to Create a Zap-Free Zone

REDUCE STATIC ELECTRICITY IN YOUR HOME OR OFFICE

Tech-320-v2.jpg

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

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

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

Playing Cards

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

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

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

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

Why Wikipedia Matters for Your Business

IMPROVE YOUR REPUTATION AND CREDIBILITY

Marketing-320_001

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

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

Lessons We Can Learn From Great Business Minds of Yesteryear

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

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

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

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

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

Preflighting: The Perfect Launch

COME FLY WITH ME

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

preflight-versus.jpg

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

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

preflight-errors

 

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

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

    preflight-okay

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

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

 

Top Five Ways to Work Less and Enjoy Life More

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

1. Make Changes at Work

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

2. Pick Your Battles

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

3. Stop Multitasking

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

4. Automate Your Savings

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

5. Get Motivated

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

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

The Tattered Sack

kirk

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

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

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

7 Ways to Screenshot in Windows 10

ADDITIONAL WAYS TO SCREENSHOT

Tech-319.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personalization in Marketing: By the Numbers

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

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

It’s About “Walking the Walk”

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

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

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

The Power of Facebook Apps

A GREAT WAY TO CUSTOMIZE AND ENHANCE YOUR BUSINESS PAGE

Marketing-319-v3.jpg

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

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

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

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

1) Learn How to Travel Productively

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

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

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

2) Hold Better Meetings

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

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

3) Get Organized and Stay That Way

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

Report Covers

A POLISHED, FINISHING TOUCH

Product-319

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

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

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

The Importance of Appreciation For Morale

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

The Data Proves The Importance of Appreciation

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

What Appreciation is Not

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

What Authentic Appreciation Looks Like

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

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

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

5 Ways to Toot Your Own Horn

ONE, TWO, THREE, LOOK AT ME!

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

Rules of the Road

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

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

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

2017-04-toot-your-horn-spread.jpg

Types of Promotions

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

Self-Promotion

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

Brag Promotions

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

2017-04-toot-your-horn-multi-page-flyer.jpg

 

Capabilities Promotions

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

Invitations

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

“Just Because”

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

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

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

ThinkstockPhotos-519738836.jpg

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

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

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

The Power of Testimonials: Facts and Figures

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

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

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

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

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

Who Doesn’t Love Free Ice Cream?

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

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

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

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

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

The Long-Term Benefits of Making Leisure Time a Priority

ThinkstockPhotos-639000942

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

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

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

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

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

Other Benefits Besides Increased Productivity

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

Do Americans Get it Right?

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

Why It’s so Difficult For Americans to Relax

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

Veterans Use the Internet to Expand Skill Set and Boost Income

ThinkstockPhotos-476519673.jpgAs a war veteran, Shane Thomason knows firsthand what it feels like to experience victory in battle. After being home for nearly ten years from the Iraqi War, Thomason now spends his time giving back to the community and expanding his occupational skill set via the internet. Owning more than 250 websites, including RandomVeteran.com, Thomason enjoys working from home and has found much success in being able to sell unique t-shirts and other novelty items online.

Thomason isn’t the only veteran taking advantage of the internet to boost his annual income. There are veterans located all across the globe who sell items and services online as a way to supplement their earnings, and for many of them, they simply do this for the same reason Thomason does — to pass the time and keep their minds occupied.

A former civil engineer for the US Navy, Zachary Scheel, says, “Veterans are comfortable operating in high-pressure environments that are changing rapidly, where they’re constantly forced to make decisions with incomplete information.” And while many common internet users may not think of the online world as being high-pressure, Thomason is sure to tell you different. From selling websites at exactly the right moment to creating content on a consistent basis, operating businesses and sites online is a full-time job that requires much attention, and more so, much intelligence.

There are many skills learned through the military and overseas that can be used in business. Six of the most valuable skills veterans can carry over from the battlefield are integrity, dependability, sharp decision-making, the initiative to go above and beyond, tenacity, and adaptability. The capability to take advantage of technology is also another skill that veterans are familiar with, making them all the more apt to find success. Whether it be learning new software or performing website coding, veterans often have a knack for training themselves.

Thomason wrote articles for his local newspaper, the Grayson County News Gazette, while serving in Iraq, which greatly improved his ability to write and has translated into an exceptional skill for being able to create web content, including home pages and product descriptions, which he uses to sell t-shirts and other items on RandomVeteran.com.

One of Thomason’s most valuable pieces of advice to other veterans who are considering using their skills for work is not to become a recluse. Thomason says, “helping the community by being actively involved is the primary way I am able to sustain peace in my life. Sure, working from home is great, but getting out in the community and working with the children and other veterans is what keeps me moving forward from one day to the next.” Thomason is the Commander of American Legion Post 81 and spends a great deal of time giving back to his community when he is not working.

Generating business is simple when veterans take advantage of the existing skill set that they acquired while serving in the military. Veterans can also find an abundance of resources available to them. From online training courses to website builders, many of these resources are available free of charge because they have served in the military.

The “Foot in the Door” Technique

ThinkstockPhotos-483027322.jpg

Nobody questions the value of getting “a foot in the door.” We all strive at one point or another to get a foot in the door with an employer, an institution of higher learning, or even a romantic relationship.

As a marketer, however, your interest in getting a foot in the door is more likely with your customers and a hopeful precursor to a big sale! A salesman who gets a foot in the door by getting customers to agree to a small initial request will undoubtedly find greater success with larger requests (think major sales $$!) down the line.

Freedman and Fraser’s Compliance Experiment

One of the first studies to scientifically investigate the “foot in the door” phenomenon was the 1966 compliance experiment by Jonathan L. Freedman and Scott C. Fraser. This experiment took place in two independent phases that used different approaches and test subjects. Because these studies were conducted on weekdays during the more conservative 1960s, the vast majority of test subjects were housewives.

The first Freedman and Fraser study divided 156 subjects into two basic groups. Both of these groups were telephoned by researchers who pretended to be from the consumer goods industry. One of the groups was contacted only once with a relatively large request. The other group was contacted twice, first with an initial small request and then with the much larger second request. In this case, the small request was to simply answer a few questions about kitchen products while the larger request, which came three days after the small request, was to allow someone to come into the home and catalog the contents of all their cabinets.

The second study essentially followed the same template as the first, but used the posting of a small and discrete window sign as its small request and the installation of a large and unattractive yard billboard as its large request.

The Effectiveness of the “Foot in the Door” Technique

The results of the Freedman and Fraser experiment were quite revealing. In the kitchen products study, subjects who agreed to the small first request were more than twice as likely to comply with the large second request. The results of second study backed up those of the first with significantly more people agreeing to place an eyesore of a billboard in their yard after previously agreeing to place a small sign in the window of their home or automobile. Perhaps most surprising, it did not even seem to matter that the promotional social message of the small sign (keeping California clean) was entirely different from that of the gaudy billboard (driving safely).

Modern Marketing Implications

The use of the phrase “a foot in the door” usually conjures images of the old fashioned door-to-door salesman who manages to wedge his wingtips against the doorjamb of your entryway after you answer your doorbell. And we all know that after he gets his foot in the door (or gets you to agree to a small initial request), he will undoubtedly try to make his way into your house (or get you to agree to a much larger second request).

But how does this sales technique work in the modern marketing landscape? In short, it’s all about calls-to-action (CTAs).

Call Them into Action

If you are distributing printed material that ends with a CTA, you may want to consider how far to push your customer base with your initial request. Don’t scare away a potential sale by asking too much too soon.

You can wait a bit for that big sale if it means building a comfortable and lasting rapport with your customers. Consider closing your marketing materials with a modest request or CTA and gain compliance for a big future payday!

Why You Should Never Cut Corners in the World of Print Marketing

ThinkstockPhotos-513818336

In business, to say that you should make every dollar count is an understatement. When dealing with uncertain economic times, budgeting decisions matter a great deal. Improving your profit margins and increasing your bottom line is always a top priority, which is why the instinct to try to cut corners to save a few dollars here and there is a natural one.

It’s also an instinct that you would do well to fight, especially when it comes to your print marketing.

Marketing is About Communication and Communication Matters

People who feel like it’s okay to cut corners with their print marketing are probably not understanding what their marketing collateral is supposed to do. If you look at a flyer or another piece of print material as only an information exchange, things like paper stock and print quality probably aren’t going to be high on your list of priorities.

However, those things should make the top of the list because print marketing is about more than just an information exchange. It’s about opening up a line of communication with your audience that will be mutually beneficial to everyone involved. It’s about creating a meaningful experience with a person, one that doesn’t just inform them about your product or service but that also gives you a competitive advantage.

As a “top-of-the-funnel” medium, print is important because it guarantees you the nearly undivided attention of your readers – the same attention they often give to magazine and newspaper content, as per the American Marketing Association. Why, then, do you think it’s a good idea to get someone to focus their attention on something that isn’t the best quality it can be? Is that the impression you really want to make?

That’s precisely the decision you make when you try to cut corners when talking about something as mission-critical as print marketing. If you can only make one first impression, it serves you well to make it the best one you can. Nothing makes a worse first impression than a low quality, easily ignorable piece of print marketing making their way into someone’s mailbox (or worse – your store window).

How to Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality

Instead of cutting corners across the proverbial marketing board, consider cutting out certain elements wholesale if you’re trying to stretch your budget as far as it can go. Take a look at your existing marketing channels and see what is working and what isn’t. Cut anything at the bottom of the list and funnel some of those funds back into your marketing so that you can double down on the print materials that are striking a chord with your target audience.

Not only will you still be able to save a little money, but the remaining print collateral that you’re using will come out all the better for it. Even one incredible piece of print collateral is more effective (and more important) than ten low-quality ones.

Investing in Marketing is an Investment in Your Business

A solid piece of print marketing collateral will not just get someone down off the fence and turn them from “potential buyer” to “customer.” Nurturing that line of communication at the right time can turn someone from “one-time customer” into “brand advocate” and beyond, too.

But that’s not going to happen if you cut corners on something this important. According to Quickbooks, inadequate marketing has been proven to stunt your business’ growth. Is that a chance worth taking, all in the name of saving a few bucks in the short-term? We certainly don’t think so.

Save the Date Statement Stuffers

CREATE EXCITEMENT AND INCREASE ATTENDANCE

Product-318-v2

Save the date statement stuffers are a great way to create excitement and increase attendance. And because they can be slipped into existing mailings, they don’t require extra postage!

Save the date stuffers are perfect for businesses and can be used to announce an upcoming open house, holiday party, seminar or training event, corporate event, or other celebration.

If you need extra promotional space, consider a folded statement stuffer for double the marketing real estate. Another great way to ensure the staying power of your statement stuffer is to design it as a bookmark, which can be referred to again and again. You may also add personalized photos or a timeline to increase its memorability. Don’t forget to add contact information and a link for additional details.

Give us a call today if you’d like help ordering creative save the date statement stuffers today!

A Leadership Ethics Lesson Courtesy of a Leeson

ThinkstockPhotos-169277326.jpg

Although ethical behavior in business is often touted, it can be hard to attain in practice. That’s because ethical behavior has to be practiced by every individual, every day. It’s not the sort of thing that can be decided upon and implemented en masse. Leaders are often under particular pressure to be practical over ethical. The reasoning is often because hard decisions require frequent compromise, and ethics often come across as black-and-white perspectives that don’t match the reality facing a decision-maker.

A Virtue You Can’t Afford to Ignore

However, ignoring ethics can be a dangerous path. Nick Leeson provides a very vivid example of this. His name is well known in financial circles as the man who single-handedly put the Singapore financial markets into a panic and brought down one of Britain’s most famous banks.

Leeson got his start early in banking as a clerk in 1985. At first, Leeson seemed to be a success. However, he began quickly playing outside the rules, and because he was bringing in big profits, Barings Bank ignored the risks.

By 1992, trades started going bad. Leeson packed the losses into a technical account originally designed as a dummy account for accounting errors. No one noticed, so he continued on his unethical path of hiding losses repeatedly. The tipping point came in January 1995 when Leeson placed a big trade between the Singapore and Japanese markets. Not expecting a major earthquake in Japan to throw both markets into a tailspin, Leeson realized the gig was up and went into hiding. Barings Bank folded a few weeks later owing £827 million in losses, and eventually, Leeson went to prison.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Interestingly, following good ethics not only avoids situations like Leeson’s, but it also works as a defense for a business leader. The adage, “actions speak louder than words” is true for ethics as well. Ethical behavior not only keeps employees behaving on the right side of the law, but it also gives managers and leaders incentive to work for more than just the bottom line. Ethics can incorporate greater goodwill for the community a business operates in, safety protection of employees and customers, market protection from unscrupulous players, and far better interaction with the government and regulators. All of which, in turn, help a company see a larger bottom line.

No question, the ethical path isn’t always the easiest. However, leaders of companies and organizations need to remember that good ethics involve more than just an individual perspective; by the very nature of their role, top managers affect all of the organization and set an example for staff to follow and the community to model after. Good ethics can be far more than just a set of rules; it can be a powerful marketing/communication tool positively setting a business apart in the market from competitors and creating the long-term foundation for customer retention.

Smart Companies Get People Talking

YAKETY-YAK, GO TALK BACK

Growing your brand and business takes work. When you take advantage of the right tools it can help you become more visible, gain the trust of others, and increase your bottom line. Although technology is a helpful way to enhance your marketing strategy, sometimes, going back to the basics can also be one of the best things you can do.

What is the one tactic that has always worked?

smart-companies-word-of-mouth

You can’t buy this type of advertising, and when people recommend your business, others listen. Knowing the five Ts of word-of-mouth marketing and how it can work for you is key. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Talkers

Who will tell their friends about you? Be tuned in to who will tell others about your business. Think about what you can do to get them talking and take it from there. If you’re offering specials, these are the people you give the exclusive deal to first, and then tell them to tell others. Make them an ambassador of sorts by giving others a discount when they mention that person’s name.

smart-companies-talk.jpg

2. Topics

What will they talk about? Is your business very accommodating? How is your customer service? What does your website look like? Can they place an order online? All of these make a difference and helps the talkers sing your praise.

3. Tools

How can you help the message travel? Be proactive. Have the talkers link you to their social media. Have you ever had a social session at your place of business? Get the radio station down there, have some freebies and discounts, and make it a community event.

4. Taking Part

How should you join the conversation? Have you partnered with the schools to do something for free, or have you volunteered to speak about what you do? Meet the neighboring businesses. Join the Chamber of Commerce and network. Engage with your audience on social media. Not to sell anything, but to have a real conversation. All of this makes a difference and gives the talkers something to talk about. When you join the conversation in a non-selling way, you welcome a better response for other channels of marketing later, like a targeted direct-mail campaign.

5. Tracking

How will you know what people are saying about you? Once you have implemented tools like savings discounts and specials, and have partnered with the community, you will get the feedback you are seeking. If your customer base is growing, you will know people are talking. Get people to add a review or two online, so others who are searching for your services will be able to read first-hand reviews

smart-companies-arrow

Use these five Ts of word-of-mouth marketing and watch how impactful it can be. Integrating the old with the new can be effective and produce amazing results now and in the future.

 

AR, VR, and Other Ways to Use Technology in a Print Campaign

ThinkstockPhotos-525689337From the affordable headsets that take users into another setting or world via virtual reality to games like Pokémon Go and even children’s coloring pages, technology is impacting the way we live and seek out entertainment. It may seem like virtual or augmented reality is firmly fixed in the digital world (and therefore of no interest to those who create and use printed pieces), but a surprising amount of technology can be incorporated into printed media.

Augmented Reality and Printing

Augmented reality technology provides an overly to the “real world” you can see via your phone’s camera, adding digital elements to the space around you. Pokémon GO is the best recent example of AR in action, and retailers like IKEA also use it to allow you to see what furniture pieces would look like in your own home.

Adding AR elements to your printed pieces gives people a whole new way to interact with your postcards, business cards, catalogs, and more. It also adds an element of fun and makes it more likely that the recipient of the piece will want to hang onto it and even show it off.

While not everyone will “get” AR right away, recent hits like Pokémon Go show that AR can be accepted by a wide group of ages and demographics. From including an interactive game in your materials (as Toys R Us did in a recent catalog) to using a playful mascot or other element, creative use of AR can help your printed piece make a splash in the real world.

QR Codes

Those little square barcodes are an ideal match for printed pieces and can bring visitors to your site. Since QR codes are designed to be read with a smartphone, you give the person holding your printed material the ability to visit your site in an instant. Use a QR code on your printed piece to link to a special offer, unlock content, or even provide additional information. QR codes are small and won’t take up much space on your printed materials, and incorporating one allows your prospects and recipients to interact with your business in a whole new way.

QR Codes and Virtual Reality

Immerse your reader in your printed materials by providing a QR code that links the viewer to a virtual reality experience or unlocks additional content. If you already have a VR showroom, game, or content, then making it easy for users to access it by simply scanning a QR code ensures you get plenty of extra traffic, without taking up space on your materials.

Variable Data Printing

This type of technology won’t change the look of your printed pieces, but it can help personalize the materials you create. Your customer won’t notice anything special about the printing, but they will think you’re really in tune with what they want and need.

The ability to create on-demand pieces that match your customer’s preferences boosts the likelihood that your offer will resonate with them. Used primarily in direct mail, but adaptable to other pieces, variable data printing allows you to target the elements used in a specific piece to the intended recipient. This technology is particularly useful for targeted marketing campaigns with a personal touch.

Adding a dash of high tech to your printed materials gives you additional ways to connect with customers and helps you get the most from your printing investment. Your pieces are also more likely to start a conversation, grab attention, and even be saved by the recipient, boosting their long-term value and ensuring your brand is remembered when your prospect needs something.

The Two Neighbors

kirkThere once lived two neighbors in a small village. One was a very poor farmer, and the other was a very wealthy man. The farmer worked very hard, yet he was always very relaxed and happy, had lots of company visiting his home, and he never locked his doors or windows. Although he was poor, he lived a very happy, peaceful life.

The wealthy man, on the other hand, was always very tense and worried. He never invited company over and always had his house locked up tight day and night. He didn’t sleep very well in fear that someone would break in and steal all his money. He envied the peaceful life the farmer lived without worrying about his possessions, so one day he brought the farmer a very large amount of cash and said, “I am blessed with wealth and want you to live in prosperity as I do.”

The farmer was thrilled with this gift but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. He went home and turned away visitors, and locked up his house with his new fortune. That night he couldn’t sleep, in fear that someone would steal his money. He paced back and forth in his home, worrying about how to protect his money. Early the next morning, he brought the cash back to the wealthy man and said, “I appreciate your gift, but this money took away peace and happiness from me, so I need to give it back.”

Here’s the way I see it: Mandy Hale once said it best, “Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and enjoying it for everything that it is.”

What You Need to Know About Color in Design

ThinkstockPhotos-486540002.jpg

In a recent study conducted by KissMetrics.com, visual appearance and color ranked more important to consumers than just about everything else when viewing marketing materials. In fact, ninety-three percent of people who responded to the survey said that visual appearance (which color is a part of) was the most important factor they used when making a purchasing decision. Only six percent said texture, while on percent placed a heavy value on sound and smell.

Color and Marketing: Breaking it Down

Along these same lines, an incredible eighty-five percent of consumers said that color was THE primary reason why they chose to buy a particular product or service. It goes without saying that the right color design is the perfect place to start with your marketing materials.

In terms of your long-term success, one of the most valuable resources that you have available to you is and will always be your brand. It’s something that lives on long after a purchase is made. It’s the narrative and the set of strong, relatable values that are at the heart of your business. Additional studies have shown that the careful use of color can increase brand recognition by up to eighty percent, which, in turn, goes a long way towards increasing consumer confidence at the same time.

But What Do Colors Mean?

However, none of this is to say that your marketing materials should be jam-packed with as many colors as possible. Quite the contrary, in fact. Different colors have all been known to affect people on an emotional and psychological level in a variety of ways. Consider the following:

  • Yellow is often associated with optimism and youthful enthusiasm. This is why it’s often used to grab the attention of people like window shoppers.
  • Red is almost always associated with a sense of energy and excitement. In fact, red is a great way to create a sense of urgency in your readers (and when used right can even increase their heart rate, too!)
  • Black is considered to be very powerful and very sleek, which is why it is usually used to market luxury products.
  • Green is normally associated with wealth – which makes perfect sense because money is green. It also happens to be the easiest color for the human eyes to process, which is why green is often used to underline important information in marketing copy.

To that end, it’s important to use different colors depending on exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Are you trying to highlight an upcoming clearance sale and want to create a sense of urgency? Make sure those fliers and posters have as much red on them as possible. Are you trying to attract the attention of a more sophisticated level of clientele, or do you want to positively influence the overall impression that people get when they see your products? Try using as much black as you can.

Color is a powerful tool when used correctly, but it’s important to remember that it is just one of many. But, provided your use of color matches up with both your audience and your long-term objectives, you’ll find that it can be a terrific way to put your campaigns over the top and start generating the types of results you deserve.

Awesome Keyboard Shortcuts

A GREAT WAY TO STAY FOCUSED AND INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY

Tech-317.png

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to stay focused and increase productivity. Here are a few of the most popular shortcuts that we recommend you memorize if you haven’t already.

Windows:
Ctrl + A will select all
Ctrl + C will copy
Ctrl + X will cut/remove (rather than copying it)
Ctrl + V will paste the text or object stored in the clipboard
Ctrl + Z will undo changes
Ctrl + Y will redo changes
Ctrl + F opens the find field
Alt + Tab switches between open programs
Ctrl + Tab switches between browser tabs
Ctrl + S saves your file
Ctrl + Home moves the cursor to the beginning of the document
Ctrl + End moves the cursor to the end of the document
Ctrl + P provides a print preview

Apple:
Command + A wills select all
Command + C will copy
Command + X will cut/remove (rather than copying it)
Command + V will paste the text or object stored in the clipboard
Command + Z will undo changes
Command + Shift + Z will redo changes
Command + F opens the find field
Command + Tab will switch to most recently used open app
Command + N opens a new window or document
Command + O opens a selected item
Command + P prints the current document
Command + S saves the current document.
Command + W closes the front window
Command+Option+W closes all windows of an app¬

While using the internet, spacebar (or the “pg dn” key) moves the scrollbar down a page, Shift + spacebar (or “pg up” key) moves the scrollbar up a page.

Business Cards: Why They’re Still an Important Marketing Tool in the Digital World

ThinkstockPhotos-86489551

With all of the talk about the importance of properly marketing your product or service, it’s important not to overlook the most valuable commodity of all: yourself. As much as that beautiful-looking flyer attracts the right type of attention for your product, a business card is designed to do the same for both your professional image and your career as a whole.

But do business cards still have a place in a digital world? In an era where finding someone is easier than ever thanks to tools like social media, do people still need to go through designing, printing, and handing out a business card? The answer is one that might surprise you.

Business Cards: By the Numbers

Just going off of statistics, it’s easy to see that the answer to the question “are business cards still an important tool in a digital world?” is a resounding YES. According to one study, there are about 10 billion(!) business cards printed in the United States each year – or roughly 27 million each day.

But diving deeper, it’s clear that business cards perform a function that goes far beyond just handing out contact information. They actually serve an important role in your business at large, too. For every 2,000 business cards that you pass out, you can expect your sales to increase by an average of 2.5%. Business cards do everything from show someone you’re serious to increase personal brand recognition and awareness.

One of the major strengths of print marketing and the use of business card is that they’re physical. They’re something tangible that people can hold in their hand and, most importantly, share with friends and other family members. In an era where people are getting bombarded by more digital messages than ever and emails can be deleted in seconds (and people can be muted on social networking sites like Twitter), never underestimate how essential this simple fact really is.

The Power of the First Impression

Just because business cards still serve a purpose does not mean that all business cards are created equally. There are a number of design tips that you can use to make the RIGHT kind of first impression the next time you hand out your card to a customer or at that next big networking event.

StatisticBrain estimates that prospective clients will hold onto a color-filled business card a full ten times longer than they will a standard white card. Color also increases the impact of engagement on a person’s ability to follow simple directions; this is an advantage too powerful to ignore.

Approximately seventy-two percent of people say that they judge the company or brand that a person works for based on the quality of their business card. Likewise, thirty-nine percent of those who responded to a survey said that they would choose NOT to do business with someone if they had a “cheap-looking” business card.

Business cards are still essential in a digital world, and that means you need to devote the time to doing them well.

Customer Loyalty Printing

KEEP CUSTOMERS COMING BACK TO YOUR BUSINESS AGAIN AND AGAIN

Product-317-v4_001

 

Printed customer loyalty materials can be a great incentive to keep customers coming back to your business again and again. Here are a few fun ways to create loyalty pieces your customers will look forward to using:

 

 

  • Customer loyalty pieces can be distributed in an endless variety of ways, including the traditional loyalty punch card (such as purchase five pizzas, get one free), a statement stuffer tear-away, a postcard or self-mailer with a tear-away loyalty promo, a door hanger with a perforated loyalty card, a business card that doubles as a punch card, and much more!
  • Provide loyalty club members special coupons for free upgrades, such as “upgrade to a premium deluxe XYZ for the same price as our standard XYZ.”
  • Reward customers who buy ahead, such as buying a year-long package of house cleanings for a discounted rate. Not only will the customer be happy to save money, but you can ensure the customer will return to your business all year round.
  • Show your loyalty to your customers by sending “thank you” campaigns with exclusive discounts or promotions.
  • Consider creating customer referral cards loyal customers can give to friends and family, enabling them to help do the selling for you.
  • Consider special promotions and incentives for return customers, such as free shipping, monthly discounts, free upgrades, etc.
  • Develop a monthly reward booklet that provides specific discounts each month. For example, save 20% on oil changes in April, save 20% on new tires in May, free car wash in June, etc.
  • Mail special upgrades or special discounts to your loyalty club on a regular basis.

If you’d like help creating the perfect loyalty pieces for your business, give us a call today! Remember, other printers may be nearby, but nobody comes close.

How to Live Your Passion in Any Profession

ThinkstockPhotos-530750278

We all want to live a purposeful life. Some individuals are lucky enough to be in a professional role that allows them to live out their passion through their profession. Even if you aren’t able to make money while at the same time living your passion, you can still integrate your passion in your current profession. After all, “Often finding meaning in life is not about doing things differently; it is about seeing familiar things in new ways,” says author Rachel Naomi Remen. More on this below:

Understand You Don’t Have to Change Careers:

No matter what your current profession might be, you have the propensity to make a difference and live your passion. This means, living your passion doesn’t have to include a career move. Not everyone can get a job that embodies their passion. That’s why it’s good to “bloom where you’re planted” so to speak. Whatever your profession, find ways to live your passion within it. The following are a few ways to do that:

Treat People Like They Matter:

To live a life of purpose, you should treat those around you like they matter. For example, a cafeteria worker might feel her job doesn’t matter. Yet, what if while doing her job, she gives kids the only kind words and the most genuine smile they will get each day? Doesn’t that make her job of serving food more purposeful? Another example could include a handyman that takes the time to talk to the widow whose house he is repairing. It might not seem like much to the man, but to the lonely widow who was yearning for company, it can make a great difference. In the service industry, each customer served is another opportunity to make a difference.

Volunteer Your Time To Causes You Believe In:

If your nine to five job isn’t world-changing, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make a difference and live out your passion. Find organizations that are addressing the areas you feel need attention. Join their cause through volunteering your time. If possible, you can find ways to combine your day job with your volunteer efforts. For example, let’s say you work in an office and you want to give back to kids who have cancer. Ask your co-workers to make donations along with you. Organize a visit to a local hospital and take gifts to the kids. Make baked goods, sell them to your co-workers, and then give the proceeds to the organization. You could also take part in a run that benefits the cause and ask your co-workers to join in. The main thing to remember is you don’t have to keep your passion and your profession separate. In fact, many businesses are more than willing to give back to worthy organizations. It’s good PR, and they can write it off on their taxes.

Don’t Give Up:

Above all else, to live a life of passion and purpose, you can’t give up. Even if things haven’t worked out exactly as you would have planned, you can still live a life that changes the world. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to remain in the same career, but you shouldn’t feel the only way to live a life of passion is to change your profession.

Maximize the Power of Testimonials

GREAT OPPORTUNITIES TO ENCOURAGE CUSTOMERS TO TAKE ACTION

Marketing-317-v3

Many businesses add customer testimonials on their website and expect them to increase sales. If this is the only place you are posting testimonials, you are missing out on lots of great opportunities to encourage customers to take action! In addition to posting them on your website, here are a few creative ways to maximize the power of your customer testimonials:

  • Add them to your email signature. Update them weekly or monthly to ensure fresh information.
  • Include a powerful quote on your business card to reiterate the benefits of choosing your company.
  • Add relevant testimonials on your product pages that speak to the benefits of specific products.
  • Sprinkle brief testimonials throughout your newsletter.
  • Design artistic quotes and images for Facebook posts or ads.
  • Add a pop-out quote in your email campaigns.
  • Create a testimonials statement stuffer campaign which features a different success story with every mailing.
  • Feature testimonials on your telephone advertising on-hold messages.
  • Highlight success stories on your blogs to promote products or services.
  • Consider adding a great quote on your promotional swag, such as cups, pens, t-shirts or magnets.

When it comes to selling your products and services with testimonials, the options are endless. If you’d like more creative ideas for how to market your business, give us a call today at 856.429.0715!

Avoid These Common Print Marketing Mistakes for Visually Compelling Content

SM4P.jpgCompelling images are the perfect way to attract attention and create an emotional connection with your customers and prospects. Avoid these common mistakes as you design newer and richer content moving forward.

Mistake #1: You Didn’t Keep It Simple

Why do you think audiences have gravitated towards visual print marketing content over the last few years? If you thought “because people are bombarded with information these days from nearly every angle,” you’d be right! From the moment people wake up in the morning, their smartphones are sending them emails and push notifications. They’re wading through dozens of blog posts. They’re reading massive reports at work all day long. Information is everywhere, and it can often feel overwhelming.

Solution: Make your print marketing visually impactful, and easy to read and interpret.

Visual print marketing is an excellent way to relieve people from these stresses – or at least; it’s supposed to be. It can allow you to take your message and wrap it up in a way that is easy to understand and a refreshing change of pace from everything else.

Think about it in terms of infographics. Infographics are an incredibly popular form of visual content because they take complicated ideas and break them down to just what you need to know and nothing more. Apply this same concept to your print marketing designs.

Mistake #2: You Failed to Account For Light

When you’re leaning so heavily on your visuals, you MUST account for the number one factor that can destroy the feeling you were going for – light.

How that gorgeous new flyer or banner you’re creating looks on a computer screen and how it looks in a store window in your neighborhood can be very, very different depending on the lighting quality of the area, the direction of the sun, and more.

Solution: Ask yourself how light will affect every decision you make, from the richness of the colors you’re choosing to the specific type of paper (and finish) you’ll be using.

Accounting for these simple mistakes will put you ahead of the game and on your way to stunning and compelling visual print marketing.

6 Ways to Settle the Score

THE PERFECT SCORE

To score or not to score? This question faces anyone creating a printed piece that must be folded before mailing, display, or delivery. While in some cases folding without scoring will be sufficient, in others, scoring eliminates any color cracking on the fold and can make all the difference in producing an elegant final result.

The top consideration in whether or not to score a printed piece is the thickness of the paper being used for the project. As a general rule, paper that is 100 lbs. or heavier should be scored before folding. Other instances where scoring the paper is recommended would include:

2017-03-settle-the-score-checkbox

Budget cuts typically mean that scoring is the first to go, but you may seriously want to reconsider. The risk of not scoring a folded piece includes unsightly creases and buckling around the folded area.

You have a number of options when it comes to scoring a printed piece. The highest quality scoring process is called the Letterpress Score, but here are six other scoring options commonly available as well:

1) Letterpress Score

A steel rule is formed in the desired shape and braced in wood affixed to a metal frame. Paper is then pushed between the steel form and the press.

2017-03-settle-the-score-scored-vs-unscored.jpg

2) Rotary Score

This process utilizes a pressurized roller system to make the score.

3) Litho Score

Also known as a “press score,” a metal rule with a heated back is attached to the impression cylinder, and a scoring rule makes the crease as the paper runs underneath it.

4) Heat Score

This technique is most effective on heavier coated paper stocks and involves heating a copper die to around 350 degrees.

5) Wet Score

A directed stream of water moistens the area where a fold is required. (Not recommended on coated papers.)

6) Impact Score (Electronic Knife)

A knife with a fixed-width steel rule strikes the sheet within a channel to create the score and crease.

We’re here to help you settle the score! You might want to know about different scoring options, but you certainly don’t need to worry about the best way to get the perfect score. That’s our job. If you have questions about whether scoring your printed project is the best option, give us a call. You’ll receive guidance on the best options for your folded piece so that you can create a result you and your customers will love!

Bad Habits

kirk

An elderly scholar got a request from a wealthy man to help wean his son of bad habits. The scholar agreed to visit his son. The old man took the boy for a stroll through some nearby gardens. Suddenly, the man stopped and asked the boy to pull out some small weeds. The boy reached down and effortlessly pulled the weed from the ground. They walked a little further, and the man asked the boy to pull out a larger weed. The boy pulled harder, and the plant came out with its roots attached. “Now pull that one,” the man said as he pointed to a small bush. The boy pulled with considerable effort, and the bush finally came out.

“Lastly, I’d like to pull out that tree,” he said as he pointed to a large established tree. The boy grabbed the trunk and pulled with all his might for several minutes, but it wouldn’t budge. “It’s impossible,” the boy replied. “So it is with bad habits,” the scholar replied. “When they are young, it’s easy to pull them out, but once they take hold, it’s very difficult to uproot them.”

Here the way I see it: Don’t wait for bad habits to grow into a big problem. Drop them while you can still manage them, or they will take control of you.

Learning to Listen: The Hard Way

ThinkstockPhotos-517989376

In the 70s, Italian aid worker Ernesto Serelli learned to listen to clients the hard way. His amusing tale of how he “helped” a village in Africa grow tomatoes, only to see the harvest consumed in a single night by the local hippos, is a powerful and popular TED talk. While you won’t want to miss this dynamic speaker, some key takeaways are outlined below:

Hippos and Tomatoes 

Italian aid worker Ernesto Serelli tells the tale of one of his first experiences working in famine-plagued Africa in the 1970s. Bustling with good intentions and plenty of energy, he and his team arrived in the village they were to help and promptly began planting familiar varieties of vegetables in the fertile soil.

The local residents watched the process and despite efforts to engage and teach, did not take the aid workers agriculture lessons seriously or commit to growing. As the plants blossomed and bore amazing fruit, the workers celebrated the harvest and looked forward to showing the native people how much agriculture could do for them.

The night before the harvest, a herd of hippos swept ashore and ate every plant that had been so lovingly cultivated. The locals then revealed to the aid team that hippos had always eaten the crops planted in the verdant, riverside soil. When asked why they had not given the aid team this information weeks before, the answer was “No one asked us.”

By rushing ahead and putting a plan in motion that they thought would solve the villager’s problem instead of asking questions and discovering what had been tried in the past, the well-meaning aid workers totally missed the point. They also wasted weeks of time and plenty of resources that could have been dedicated elsewhere.

The Power of Listening

You may not be helping a hungry village in Africa, but the lesson of asking your prospect or clients the right questions to truly meet their needs applies to every interaction you have.  Learning to listen is an important component for anyone in business. Fail to ask the right questions, and you could face a disaster.

Take the time to remember the hippos and tomatoes next time you speak with a new client about their needs, and make sure you take the time to ask the right questions before you charge ahead.

This TED Talk is an enduring favorite and an excellent reminder of why we need to stop and listen to what our clients are saying and why we need to take the time to understand what they’ve tried and what they need.

Make Customer Loyalty a Bigger Part of Your Marketing Efforts

ThinkstockPhotos-488497402.jpgIn the early days of your business, the goal of your marketing program was essentially a singular one: you tried to get your product or service in front of as many eyes as you possibly could. Once you’ve established yourself, however, it’s time to switch gears a little. According to most studies, it’s between five and twenty-five times more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to keep one of your existing ones. This means that if you’re not already making customer loyalty a significant part of your marketing efforts, it’s about time to get going on it.

What a Difference Customer Loyalty Makes

According to a study conducted in 2014, seventy-three percent of consumers said that loyalty programs should be the way that brands show loyalty to their existing customers. Regardless of which way you choose to look at it, even instituting a modest customer loyalty program can have significant benefits across your entire organization. It can help make your marketing more appealing to new customers, as well as lead to higher levels of engagement with existing ones. That engagement breeds retention, which research suggests creates a situation where your average customer will be up to five times more likely to only buy from you in the future.

Also, remember that increasing customer retention (which these types of loyalty programs are great at doing) by just five percent can boost your profits anywhere from twenty-five to ninety-five percent, according to Bain & Co. Let that sink in for a second.

Building a Customer Loyalty Program

When you begin to institute a customer loyalty program for your business, the biggest mistake you should avoid is one of perspective. Remember that what you’re trying to do is show loyalty to your customers, period. Far too many businesses make the mistake of assuming that this is a way for customers to show loyalty to a brand, which leads to the type of ill-advised thinking that generates bad customer service and only ends up with a program few people want to take advantage of.

Assuming that you’re “giving your customer the opportunity” to show loyalty to your business is how you end up in a situation where forty-three percent of consumers say that rewards programs require too much spending to reach the next level, or where points expire before they can be used, or where points are worthless because of all the restrictions they come with. Build a program that lets you say an emotional “thank you” to the people who got you where you are, NOT the other way around.

If you are going to make customer loyalty a bigger part of your marketing efforts, however, always remember the old saying that “variety is the spice of life.” In a survey conducted by Collinson Latitude, sixty-three percent of respondents said that having a wide range of rewards and offers was the single most important aspect that decided whether or not they would sign up for a loyalty program. So the occasional coupon isn’t necessarily going to cut it (pun absolutely intended).

Again, making customer loyalty a bigger part of your marketing efforts is, and will always be, about giving back to the people who helped build your brand. If you make every decision with this one simple perspective in mind, all of the other benefits – from increasing the value of each customer to engagement and long-term loyalty – will happen as a happy byproduct.

Place Cards & Tent Cards

A USEFUL TOOL FOR CORPORATE OR BUSINESS EVENTS

Product-316-v2

While place cards, also known as tent cards, are often used for weddings, they are also a useful tool for corporate or business events. Place cards increase organization by letting attendees know which space has been reserved for them and can also increase feelings of inclusion if guests are unfamiliar with other guests.

At events where guests may not know one another, printing the guest’s name on both sides of the tent card (so it faces both the guest and others at the table) is a great way to encourage networking.

Place cards can be used to help guests get to know one another, designate the guest’s food choices, or even include surprise details or clues about a game or contest on the backside.

In addition to being used to reserve place settings and make guests feel welcome, tent cards can also be used to label food choices in a buffet line, snack bars, and much more.

If you need help designing the perfect place card or tent card for your next corporate event, give us a call today! Our creative team would love to help.

Don’t Fear Your Marketing Competitors. Learn From Them

ThinkstockPhotos-513552966.jpg

Regardless of the products you’re trying to market, the audience you’re trying to cater to, or the industry you happen to be operating in, all businesses face competition. This is just a fact of life. But it’s important to realize that a competitor isn’t just another company that is trying to go after the same pool of customers that you are. Competitors are invaluable learning opportunities that are just waiting to be taken advantage of, provided you approach things from the right angle. 

Learn About Your Audience

One of the most important lessons that you can learn by taking a closer look at your marketing competitors has nothing to do with your competition itself and everything to do with the shared audience you’re both going after. For the sake of argument, let’s say that your number one competitor offers products or services that are very similar to yours.

How is your competition marketing those products and services to that audience? What types of print materials are they designing? What tone do they use when speaking to them directly? What prices do they charge, and why do they feel like the market can sustain that? What values do they choose to single in on when representing their brand?

All of these choices, along with the public reaction to them, can tell you a great deal about what your audience is looking for. Marketing is all about making a connection, and if you can pick up something through observation that you can adapt and make your own to strengthen that connection, you should absolutely take that opportunity.

Learn About the Competitors Themselves

The second lesson you can learn by taking a closer look at your marketing competitors comes down to how they choose to run a business that is very similar to yours in many ways. This goes beyond just the products or services they provide. Look at how they choose to distribute and deliver those products. Look at the steps they take to enhance customer value or build loyalty. Have they recently instituted a rewards program with great success? If you were thinking about doing one yourself, congratulations, someone else just did your trial run for you.

Perhaps the most important thing you should be watching out for when it comes to your marketing competitors is how they react when they make a mistake. These days, everything is essentially an extension of your marketing arm – from the print collateral you’re putting out into the world to customer service interactions on a site like Facebook. Everything is taking place in the public space, which means that other customers (and you and your associates) can all see everything go down in real-time.

Did your biggest competitor have a particularly nasty public interaction with a customer? What factors caused it to occur in the first place? How did the customer react? How did the business react? What did the rest of the audience have to say at the end of the day? Remember that mistakes are only a bad thing if you choose not to learn from them. If you can get someone else to make a mistake and arrive at the same lesson, you come out all the better for it.

Competition in the world of business (and especially regarding marketing) isn’t going away anytime soon. However, it’s not something you should let get you down. Instead, look at it for what it is: an incredible ongoing education into your market, your industry, and even your own business that someone else is paying for.

Managing Your Business Reputation

ENHANCE YOUR CUSTOMER INTERACTIONS AND SALES

Marketing-316.jpg

A good business reputation will not only enhance customer interactions and sales but can also increase your overall revenue and profit. Here are some excellent tips to manage your business reputation:

  • Commit to providing timely responses to all inquiries, comments, complaints or requests on social media, emails, phone calls, letters, and those left with customer service reps.
  • Handle negative feedback and comments politely and constructively, and use feedback as goals for improvement.
  • Promote customer testimonials, success stories, and customer references on your website and print promotional materials.
  • Create a customer referral program that encourages happy customers to spread the word and invite their friends and family to try your products or services. Also, encourage happy customers to write reviews about their experience online.
  • Actively use social media to interact and engage with the customers by answering questions, asking questions, or replying back to positive or negative comments.
  • Create newsletters, blogs, and vlogs to keep customers informed about new products or services, industry news, and other helpful tips or resources.
  • Set up social management tools and Google alerts so you can track and respond to brand mentions on the web.
  • Create branded hashtags, which can help your brand stand out, help you track mentions, and enable readers to easily mention you when they share your posts.
  • Set up a BBB (Better Business Bureau) profile so consumers can check your credibility.
  • Create customer appreciation events that are focused on thanking your customers for their loyal business.
  • Sponsor local organizations and teams, or donate time, money, or services to a charity to show your community support.
  • Create customer surveys and offer a valuable coupon in exchange for your customer’s time.

If you’d like help creating print materials that enhance your business’ reputation, our creative team is eager to help. Call us today at 856.429.0715!