Tips to Make Your Brand More Memorable

GettyImages-1065446734.jpgJust Do It.

Think Different.

Have You Had Your Break Today?

You Can’t Beat the Real Thing.

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

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

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

Increase the “Stickiness” of Your Brand

Use Humor

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

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

Release Personalized Content

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

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

Create Interactive Communication Channels

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

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

Launch Giveaway Contests

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

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

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

Memorable Branding Makes Cents

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

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

The Way I See It

kirk

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

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

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

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

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

Does your brain ever feel tired?

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

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

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

Keloptic: Bringing Life Into Focus

Keloptic is an online optician that sells sunglasses and eyewear.

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

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

Jeep: See What You Want to See

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

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

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

Pedigree: Adopt

Images convey emotion in ways words never can.

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

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

Tactile, Memorable Print

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

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

 

5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Holiday Branding

Tis the season to set yourself apart!

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

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

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

Holiday Packaging Tape

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

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

Custom Stickers and Labels

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

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

Gold Foil or Frosted Bags

Want to add shine and turn heads your direction?

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

 

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

Very Merry Business Cards

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

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

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

Cheery Inner Boxes

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

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

Custom Packaging That Makes the Season Bright

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

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

Want to talk options? Give us a call today!

How T-Shirt Giveaways Led to a Cool Million

Sujan Patel likes to do things unconventionally.

Colorful clothes hang on a shelf after washing

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

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

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

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

The Exponential Power of Promotional Products

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

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

Patel said his T-shirts had three obvious benefits:

1. They initiated great business conversations.

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

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

2. They opened doors into larger companies.

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

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

3. They significantly increased brand recognition.

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

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

Add A Personal Touch with Your Giveaways

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

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

5 Elements of an Irresistible Offer

ARE YOU SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE?

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

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

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

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

1. Value

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

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

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

2. Language

What style or slang terms do your customers use?

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

3. Reasons Why

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

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

4. Payment Plans

High-ticket items carry high risk.

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

5. A Great Close

Many prospects consider buying but never pull the trigger.

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

Sell, Don’t Slack

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

The Way I See It

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

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

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

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

Bringing Your Dream to Life

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

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

Dr. Julie Silver is a giant among medical practitioners.

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

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

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

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

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

Pursue a Dream

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

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

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

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

Share a Dream

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

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

Work the Dream

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

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

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

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

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

Memo Pads

A COST-EFFECTIVE AND CREATIVE WAY TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS

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

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

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

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

 

How Multi-Tasking Can Tank Your Productivity

Man eating an hamburger and working seated his car

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

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

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

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

The Statistics on Multi-Tasking

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

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

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

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

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

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

Place Lower Priority Projects Out Sight

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

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

Use Time-Blocking

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

Turn Off Your Phone

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

Log Off Email

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

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

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

Just Say No

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

Expand Sales with Responsive Customer Surveys

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

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

Why? Here’s what Airbnb says:

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

A typical Airbnb survey invite looks something like this:

Hi ____,

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

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

Thanks,

The Airbnb Team

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

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

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

Six Tips for Building a Successful Survey

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

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

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

1. Keep it short and simple.

Concentrate on the 5-10 most important questions.

2. Avoid loaded questions.

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

3. Start with basic questions that have straightforward answers.

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

4. Avoid compounded questions.

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

5. Target the right people.

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

6. Include enough people.

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

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

A Customer-Centric Experience

Every product or service revolves around customers and their experiences.

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

Teamwork At Its Best

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

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

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

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

4 Modern Design Resources for Your Bag of Tricks

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

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

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

Quick Design

Want to learn design?

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

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

unDraw

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

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

 

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

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

UI Sources

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

Enter UI Sources.

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

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

Absurd Illustrations

What to play around a bit?

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

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

Improve Your Workflow

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

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

How to Age Gracefully at Every Stage of Life

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

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

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

A Healthful Approach

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

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

Physical Health

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

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

Social Health

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

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

Mental Health

Cognitively speaking, mental development continues into middle adulthood.

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

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

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

Be a Participant in Your Journey

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

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

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

Increase Conversions with 3 Headline Hooks

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

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

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

That’s telling.

Fool-Proof Headline Formulas

Headlines matter. A lot.

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

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

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

“The Best” List Headlines

Readers are selfish.

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

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

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

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

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

Threat-of-Loss Headlines

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

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

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

— How will acting today save them money or inconvenience?

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

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

For example:

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

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

Curiosity Headlines

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

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

Curiosity headlines use a formula like this:

What You Don’t Know About _______ Can _______

For example:

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

Write Powerful Headlines They Won’t Ignore

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

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

7 Greetings to Use in Corporate Thanksgiving Cards

Want to make the holidays happier this year?

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

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

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

Share a Simple Thank You

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

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

To encourage holiday sales

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

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

To surprise and delight clients

Customers love to associate with companies that have human qualities.

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

To build brand loyalty

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

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

7 Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Card

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

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

Get Started Today

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

5 Ways to Make Your Newsletters Shine

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

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

A Foundation to Build From

The same is true in design.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Make headlines clear and bold.

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

3. Keep alignment consistent.

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

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

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

4. Avoid Helvetica and Arial

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

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

5. Create a Compelling Call to Action

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

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

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

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

Make Them Look Forward to Your Next Newsletter

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

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

Inspire Imagination with 4 Creative Design Catalysts

Do you enjoy creating?

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

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

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

4 Design Catalysts to Inspire Your Imagination

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

 

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

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

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

Build and broaden your artistic muscle by doing icon reps.

 

Choose an icon (like a sun, heart, leaf, crest, or set of cherries) and create 25 thumbnail icons that depict its message and its meaning. If that’s too easy, try 50 or 100.

Start with basic sketches and transition into graphic design or large-scale renderings. As you build variations, try different shadings, color combinations, or typographic elements to stretch your normal design boundaries.

Takeaway: Forcing yourself to sketch the same thing in different ways can build and broaden your artistic muscle.

The next time you work on a concept, fill a full page with icon sketch versions of it before you settle on your design of choice. Begin with quantity and finish with quality!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

The Human-to-Human Connection

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

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

Which One to Invite?

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

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

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

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

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

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

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

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

Step Up Your Game with Memorable, Inspiring Print Promos

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

1. Cut it Out

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

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

2. Add Texture

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

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

3. Be Blunt

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

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

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

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

4. Go Retro

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

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

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

5. Finish Well

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

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

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

Create a Timeless Treasure

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

Mastering the Psychology of Discounts to Make More Sales

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

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

Incentives Prompt Action

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

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

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

1. Dollar or Percentage Off

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

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

2. BOGO

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

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

3. Quantity Discounts

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

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

4. Rebates

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

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

5. Free Shipping

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

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

Test Discount Variations to Find A Formula for Success

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

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

Here are some examples to consider:

Catherine’s Women’s Clothing: Private Offer

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

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

J. Crew: Flash Sale

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

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

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

4 Mistakes that Make Your Ads Fall Flat

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Fixes to Make Your Message Count

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

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

1. Too Much Copy

Too much copy is boring to read.

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

Instead, try this:

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

2. Focusing on Benefits vs. Value

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

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

Equipped with a Delay Start Feature

— OR —

Prefer Breakfast in Bed?

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

3. No Clear Call to Action

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

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

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

4. Vague Visuals

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

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

Tired of Falling Flat in print?

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

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

A Jug of Milk

A Jug of Milk

kirk

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

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

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

Practical Skills for Successful Entrepreneurs

Smiling designer in her studio

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

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

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

Adaptability

In business, things change quickly.

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

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

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

Time Management

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

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

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

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

Money Management

Nothing works if cash doesn’t flow.

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

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

A Thick Skin

Growing as a leader is an exercise in rejection.

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

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

Seize the Day

Killing it as an entrepreneur isn’t easy.

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

New Member Packets

A GREAT WAY TO WELCOME NEW MEMBERS

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

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

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

4 Ways to Maximize Impact with Pictures

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

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

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

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

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

For the Love of Imagery

People like pictures. A lot.

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

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

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

Bring Your Content to Life with Pictures

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

Show, Don’t Tell

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

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

Overlay Text

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

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

Color Code

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

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

Turn Bullet Points Into Icons

Looking to spice up a flyer or brochure?

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

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

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

SMALL IN SIZE, BIG IN RESULTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have no fear!

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

1. Read Between the Lines

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

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

2. Be a Minimalist

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

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

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

3. Be Distinct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transform Customer Complaints into Great Reviews and Referrals

In business, problems always arise.

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

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

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

3 Ways to Resolve Sticky Situations

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

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

1. Respond Quickly and Calmly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Keep Working to Ensure the Customer is Satisfied

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

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

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

A Silver Lining

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

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

The Duck Hunting Dog

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

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

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

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

Optimize Data to Make Better Decisions

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

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

Solve Problems with Data

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

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

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

Clearly Identify the Objective

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

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

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

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

Outsource the Analytics

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

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

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

Optimize Value

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

1. Sales Patterns or Emerging Trends

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

2. Internal Procedures

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

3. Project Management

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

4. Benchmarking Competition

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

Save Time, Save Money

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

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

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

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

From Ideas to Reality: The Basics of 3D Printing

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

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

Create What You Imagine

What is 3D printing?

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

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

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

A Hands OFF Process

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

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

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

3 Common Management Traps (and How to Counteract Them)

GettyImages-484355049.jpgAre you looking to be more proactive in your influence?

Here are three common management traps, with practical keys for addressing them.

3 Common Management Traps

1. Avoiding a Problem or Tense Relationship

(Instead: Nip things in the bud)

Work environments and team morale can dramatically improve when managers deal with difficult relationships.

While most people avoid confrontation like the plague, effective managers deal with negative attitudes or relationships as soon as they appear. While it’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt, issues rarely resolve themselves. The longer you delay correction, the more difficult it becomes.

Stuck on where to start?

When offering correction, be specific. Say something like, “the report you submitted was vague, lacking financial data, and contained several errors. Please give it another pass and plan to give more attention to your first drafts in the future.”

When confronting team members, focus on a specific behavior, rather than the person or their intentions. For example, “your jokes were distracting and disrespectful to the person presenting the report.”

Before speaking, check your motives. Do you honestly want to help people improve? If so, describe actions or behavior the individual can do something about, and offer tools or training to support them.

2. Delaying Decisions

(Instead: Use decision-making timelines)

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

But most failure stems from inaction, not from mistakes made in the process. And the decision not to act is often the most costly choice of all.

When you struggle with passivity, don’t keep kicking a pain point down the road. Instead, give yourself a time frame to research options and set a deadline for making a choice. Putting “deliberation dates” on the calendar transforms possibilities into reality.

3. Refusing to Delegate

(Instead: Start small and consider a mindset change)

The biggest problem most leaders face is the inability to let go of their work.

Are you micromanaging or failing to release projects someone else could handle? If so, you may be the ceiling that prevents your organization from growth.

How can you start delegating when it is painful to do so? Experts suggest starting small (with basic tasks) and gradually working your way up. Improve trust by partnering with someone to do a task together the first time. Or schedule checkpoints to review work done by your team.

Delegation can also begin with a mindset change, illustrated in this example:

When Anika realized she had become a bottleneck for her organization, she had to redefine her core responsibilities. Previously, her mandate looked like this: “I’m the one in charge of getting the job done.” This “doer” mindset consumed her time and lowered her leadership ceiling.

As Anika considered her obligation to delegate, she redefined her leadership mandate to being “involved but not essential.” The result looked like this: “I lead people, priorities, and projects – in that order – and the work gets done because the right people are focused on the right tasks.”

With a refreshed vision, Anika could review her calendar, count the hours she devoted to “doing” versus leading or empowering, and identify mismatches where she was spending too much time on low-grade priorities. Within months, Anika streamlined work, expanded her influence, and multiplied her leadership.

Simple Course Corrections

While individual management mistakes are not catastrophic, over time, they can have a crippling effect.

Be intentional about addressing these areas, and you can improve team productivity, morale, and competitiveness in your field.

Instagram Marketing Tips

POPULAR WAYS FOR BUSINESSES TO PROMOTE THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

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Instagram has become a trendy way for many businesses to promote their products and services to a targeted audience at a meager cost. Here are a few creative ways to use Instagram to promote your business:

  1. Consider posting a unique, behind-the-scenes look at your business on Instagram Stories, which can be a fun way to experiment with different types of content, such as videos, photos, live clips, and more.
  2. Offer useful tips and how-to clips that appeal to your audience.
  3. Give loyal followers an exclusive sneak peek at teaser photos or videos about exciting announcements, upcoming events, new products, or grand openings.
  4. Consider partnering with a charity or non-profit who aligns with your company’s core values and tag and mention them in fundraising campaigns.
  5. Expand your reach with hashtags. You should also create your own business hashtag and use it across Instagram and Twitter, which makes it easier for followers to find content related to your business.
  6. Measure your online success by checking your follower count, engagement, and clicks. Use these helpful tools to refine and improve your marketing strategy to see what is working or needs improvement.

If you’d like low-cost ideas of how to grow your business with print, we’d love to send you some sample ideas. Send us an email today at info@sjprinter.com!

The Way I See It

kirkA young man was enjoying his daily cup of brew while he opened a letter from his mom. His face lit up as some cash fell out of the envelope. He thought, “Wow, what a great surprise! I could use some extra money right now!”

After finishing his coffee, he noticed a homeless man outside who looked hard on his luck. He thought to himself, “That poor man could probably use this cash more than me.” He put the money back in the envelope, crossed out his address, and wrote in large letters, “PERSEVERE!” He gave the envelope to the man and smiled as he walked away.

The next day as the man stopped for his morning coffee, the homeless man tapped him on the shoulder and handed him a big wad of money. Surprised, the young man asked him what it was for. The homeless man replied, “This is your half of the winnings. ‘Persevere’ won first place at the racetrack last night!”

Here’s the way I see it: Be kind and good to others. Kindness always has a way of coming back around.

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

Diverse colleagues talking sitting together at office deskLisa Price describes herself as “the accidental entrepreneur.”

She got her start in her mother’s Brooklyn kitchen, creating body butter and selling it at the flea market at her mother’s church. Customers would stop by, smell a few things, and ask one inevitable question: “Do you have anything for hair?”

Price made this her top priority and never looked back. “Carol’s Daughter,” Price’s ridiculously popular natural hair care and beauty brand, eventually became a multimillion-dollar business that sold to L’Oreal in 2014. Price says the ability to spot innovation, create something, and sell herself have been several keys to her success.

Negotiating Well and Staying True to Yourself

How do you sell yourself without selling out?

Price was committed to finding healthy ways for African-American women to care for their hair. She stayed true to this mission (though her customer base eventually included Caucasian women as well). While touting natural products in place of highly popular chemical relaxers used in salons, Price presented herself as a simple girl with simple solutions.

Her product popularity coincided with stints on the Home Shopping Network and the rise of YouTube. Price could offer product demos, educate young women looking for solutions, and bring affordable alternatives to young markets. In 2009, “Good Hair” (a documentary produced and narrated by Chris Rock) showed a can of Coca-Cola dissolving in a chemical relaxer, and momentum spiked: women using relaxers in their hair dropped from 89 percent to 36 percent in just two years.

“The Internet makes everything democratic,” said Price. “Larger companies got left behind.”

Along the way, Price grew comfortable negotiating for her company and fighting for herself without folding under pressure.

Want to emulate her experience?

While you may not feel very powerful before signing a new deal, career coaches say you have the greatest negotiating power during the short time between being offered a job (or a contract) and formally agreeing to take it.

Negotiating in these situations can increase your earning potential and ensure you’re properly compensated both now and in the future. So prepare well before coming to the table! This may include researching market averages, calculating your value (or your product value), and preparing your talking points in advance (i.e., years of experience, sales goals achieved, or unique benefits your product can bring).

Rehearsing with a friend, asking for more than your target number, and communicating with confidence can bring significant gains when you sit down to negotiate. And don’t worry about offending. Forty-three percent of job recruiters say it doesn’t impact their view of a candidate if one negotiates for salary, and 19 percent said it has a positive impact.

Price shared her advice for when an acquisition or initial salary offer isn’t right. Her script went something like this:

“I appreciate everything about this deal and am so excited, but if I have to live with this particular offer, it might be hard for me to be fully there and present. I don’t want to be distracted and thinking about other opportunities, so . . . ” Here, Price would lean in, give a specific ask, and let the chips fall. (It worked; she got more money.) When it came time to sell her company in 2014, Price said that outside of her marriage and children, this was the proudest moment of her life.

Negotiating is incredibly important because when you stand up for yourself, you tap into your skills to ask for more. This ultimately sends a message that you deserve it – which means you’re more likely to receive that request!

Exert Influence While You’re Stuck in the Middle

Are you stuck in the middle when it comes to your job?

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Perhaps you supervise many, but you still answer to a few. Or maybe you frequently advise a superior who seems less competent than you. Leading from the middle is tough. But managers who influence from the middle are often in a perfect position to collaborate with others, solve problems, and have significant organizational impact.

Want to make the most of your time in the middle? Here are three ways to hone upward influence in this transitional season:

Honor Decisions You Disagree With

People who lead from the middle are sometimes forced to settle for less than the ideal.

In your position, often you’ll receive instructions you don’t like or decisions you disagree with. In frustrating moments, you may be tempted to badmouth the decision or the organization. In a meeting you may say something like, “I would have done it differently, but . . .” Or during office chit-chat, you may casually question your leader’s judgment.

Real leaders make the best of a situation and honor decisions in healthy, unifying ways. If you want to be respected by those around you, speak with integrity and uphold the reputation of others. This builds trust, which gives you more influence when it’s time to speak up or offer solutions.

Be Intentional

One challenge for mid-level employees is knowing when or how to speak.

When you are strategic and consistent in sharing, your perspective can make a more significant impact. What is the best way for you to communicate? Consider a short, weekly e-mail update to your boss. Highlight 2-minute success stories in meetings to put a face on your “win.” Or use printed presentation notes when sharing needs or asking for additional resources. This demonstrates thoughtful preparation and makes your request more memorable.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, take a serious interest in the organization as a whole.

Don’t just focus on your department. Instead, look for ways to lend a hand to those above, below, and around you. When your supervisor sees that you care about the whole company, you may be surprised how quickly your influence grows.

This may bring friction. Working from the middle gives you a great vantage point to see the big picture, to recognize patterns or uncertainties, and highlight tension within the organization. When you bump into turbulence, remember that trying to please everyone is impossible.

Global Portfolio Management Director Michelle Maloy, says it’s easy to doubt yourself when you’re always trying to please:

“[This balancing act] requires self-control and clarity. You need to have understanding and empathy for others, but you can’t let everybody’s ‘stuff’ allow you to lose focus.”

It’s All About Perspective

While there are times that leading from the middle is difficult, you are often ideally positioned to collaborate with others to generate new ideas and solve problems.

This allows you to gain experience, be involved in meaningful work, and affect large scale change. It is possible to successfully lead from your position while developing skills that serve you throughout your career.

Three Fantastic Print Ads (and how to make yours more memorable)

GettyImages-543217912.jpgDoes your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that’s probably due to information overload.

According to ad agency Red Crow Marketing, the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads make a lasting impression).

Want to increase exposure and impact for your marketing messages?

To stick with viewers, your print ads need to be creative and clear! Here are three compelling print ad examples, with a few insights into what makes them so great.

A Better Job is Waiting

Created by Joe Public United, this print campaign for a job portal aims to motivate people to stop slogging it out in a job they don’t like. Smartly retouched photos show bored workers at their desks, workers who sat still for so long that mold started growing on their bodies.

Need the motivation to break out of your slump? There’s nothing like spiders building webs in your hair (while you play computer solitaire) to kick your complacent butt into gear.

The Secret to Success: This ad is powerful because it resonates with the job portal’s target customers in a way that elicits extreme emotion (i.e., dismay or disgust). Move your prospects forward with messages that ring true and deliver a message that is personally meaningful to your viewers.

You Eat What You Touch

Love dogs? You might feel a little less inclined after viewing this ad.

This unconventional ad shaped a pet Pug into a perfect replica of a loaf of bread on a cutting board to stress the importance of using soap. Something about fuzzy bread just makes a viewer shudder (while immediately taking action with good hygiene).

The Secret to Success: This ad is impossible to ignore because the visual is surprising and memorable. Viewers have to look twice to find the Pug on the cutting board, and once the image hits home, the message does too. Humor is linked to higher recall and increased sharing, and funny brands are seen as more relatable, human, and trustworthy. Have fun and make people laugh with your surprising, memorable print ads!

Neighbors

In 2010, FedEx wanted to display the accessibility of its global shipping options.

A rustic map of North and South America showed a man reaching out of a window near Florida to hand a Fed Ex box across the ocean to a woman reaching out her window in Brazil. DDB Brazil used a simple visual to convince viewers that sending a package to another country takes as little time as it would to place it in the hands of a neighbor.

The Secret to Success: By using a map of Brazil as well as an easy-to-understand visual concept, DDB was able to tap into the needs and desires of its local market. When crafting your ad, look to clearly communicate how your product or service fits into consumers’ lives or work, and how it can make them better, happier, and more fulfilled.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear. Increasing print engagement will help your advertising break through the clutter of not only the hundreds of ads people see each day but the thousands of brands that are competing for your customer’s attention.

How Chick-fil-A’s Customer Service Continues to Dominate

Crazy cow sticking out of his tongue isolated on white backgroundIn 1995, a renegade cow painted three words on a Texas billboard: “EAT MOR CHIKIN.”

From that day forward, Chick-fil-A transformed the fast-food landscape. When founder Truett Carlson began in the restaurant industry during the mid-forties, he was inspired by many customers who took chicken and wrapped it in a bun to eat. Today, Chick-Fil-A (and its cows) have reached millions through ads in television, print, and even the occasional water tower.

But Chick-fil-A is about more than great food.

Closed on Sundays so employees can rest and worship, the establishment recognizes the well-being of the people on both sides of the counter.

“We should be about more than just selling chicken,” Carlson famously said. “We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities we serve.”

Unfailing Hospitality

As the restaurant seeks to bring value, it has grown in net worth.

In 2018, Chick-fil-A made more per restaurant than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway combined. In June 2019, the franchise grabbed the best customer satisfaction score in the fast-food industry, claiming the No. 1 spot on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for the fourth year in a row.

Outranking establishments like Panera and Chipotle, Chick-fil-A’s fans rave about its excellent service, polite employees, and consistent cleanliness. Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowki says Chick-fil-A’s unfailing hospitality is a huge part of the chain’s success:

“Little things like being told ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – it feels like you’re appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A,” Kalinowski said. “And especially in today’s very complex world, it’s just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated.”

Manners Matter

Humans are highly social creatures, and rudeness signals a form of rejection that cuts deep, whether we admit it or not.

Recent polling in France showed that one of the primary causes of stress was the behavior of others. Good manners increase the presence of the neurochemical oxytocin, causing people to demonstrate kindness and generosity while experiencing greater pleasure. This fuels not only connection but greater prosperity.

What might this look like during a typical day at Chick-Fil-A?

  • Often if you say ‘thank you’ to an employee, they might respond with: ‘my pleasure.’
  • Some Chick-Fil-A operators offer expired nuggets to pet owners (while the chicken is still good).
  • Others offer a “Mom’s Valet” where young families can order at the drive-through and ask employees to set the table (including the correct number of high chairs and drinks) so when they enter the restaurant, kid chaos is eliminated.

According to Davide Farmer, vice-president of restaurant experience, part of the company’s service philosophy is to empower employees:

“There are all kinds of scenarios that pop up that you don’t necessarily train for,” said Farmer. “We try to teach the principles of what it is to care for somebody so that a team member can kind of act on their own when they see an opportunity.”

Danny Cadra experienced this firsthand when he walked into his local Chick-fil-A in Lubbock, Texas. After sitting down, he was surprised when a longtime employee handed him an envelope and said, “Hey, you left your money here a while ago.”

In the envelope was three dollars Cadra left at a drive-through almost a month before. The employee tucked away the cash and looked to return it at the first opportunity.

“I was just floored,” Cadra said. “I went a whole month not knowing there was a guy at Chick-fil-A who remembered me every day, [who] brought that money every single day until he saw me.”

Customer service like that is what we all should aspire to, and we’d love to have a chance to showcase ours to you!

The Way I See It

kirkOne day, a man called his sons around him to give them some advice. He took out a large, tied bundle of sticks and said to his oldest son, “Here, son, take this bundle of sticks and break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts, he was unable to break the bundle of sticks. One by one, the other sons also tried, but none of them were successful.

Then the father said, “Now untie the bundle, and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he said: “Now, break them,” and each stick was easily broken.

Here’s the way I see it: Thomas Paine once said it best, “Not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.” If you’d like help collaborating on a successful marketing campaign, our team is here to help!

5 Tips to Keep Your Design Project On Time and Under Budget

Time is MoneyReady to launch out with a new ad campaign but nervous about keeping the project below budget?

Not all projects are smooth sailing. Sometimes things go wrong, and your expenses can spiral out of control quickly.

Here are five tips to keep your next project on track and on budget:

1. Ask Questions Upfront

When partnering with a design professional, be sure to clarify the contract up front.

Will you be paying a project fee or an hourly rate? What services are included in this fee? Clarify how long the project will take, how often you’ll get to review the work, and how many revisions are allowed in this agreement.

2. Plot Your Course Early

Involve your design professional in your brainstorming as early as possible.

Designing one piece can have a quick turnaround, but re-branding or crafting large-scale exhibit pieces can take months, especially if there is confusion about the parameters or design presets for a particular project.

One costly mistake is to change directions midstream, so start conversations early to help your design professional take a big-picture run at your project to manage it in the most efficient, cost-effective way.

3. Assemble All the Elements

Attend to the precise details of copy, timeline, and photography at the get-go, and be sure these elements have been given a green light by those in authority before the project commences.

Your project will involve many pieces, and when they are aligned from the start it will allow your design dollars to be maximized with fewer delays. While you may not have precise details ironed out, clarifying project parameters is key in finishing on time and on budget!

4. Schedule Regular Updates

It’s imperative that both the client and the design professionals are tracking with the same timeline as a project progresses.

Who will handle this communication and how often will it take place? Will you use e-mail, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Ongoing communication is essential for success.

5. Allow For Margin

To keep a project on budget, it’s essential to create margin so deadlines don’t get tight.

Every project has hiccups, so it’s best to allow a little padding as you build a realistic timeline. For example, if the printer needs eight days to deliver a piece, schedule at least 11 days so you’re guaranteed a smooth outcome.

How Much Should I Budget?

Ready to get started on your next design? Here are five basic steps for planning your budget:

  1. Estimate your monthly income
  2. List your fixed design expenses
  3. List your variable design expenses
  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses
  5. Create the budget

Online budget planners can also be helpful for estimating your costs.

Better Together

Want to save on time, labor, or unnecessary stress?

Whether its exceptional-value graphic design or full-service printing, our capable team is dedicated to providing you with prompt, knowledgeable, one-on-one service, and carefully printed materials you can be proud of. We’re here to make things flow as smoothly as possible!

A Beginner’s Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

Photography camera lens concept.Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional.

Looking for a beginner’s guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:

Go Big (But Not Too Big)

When you’re creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.

The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don’t go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.

If you’re taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always “scale down” the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.

Avoid Website Images

Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.

Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.

To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.

Zoom in or Adjust Proportions

When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.

To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.

Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image’s physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.

Resolve to Finish Well

By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.

Have any questions? Call today; we’re always happy to help!

Anniversary Marketing

IDEAS TO HELP YOU SPREAD THE WORD

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If your organization will be celebrating an important anniversary or milestone, here are a few creative marketing ideas to help you spread the word:

  • Send personalized thank you cards to show customers your appreciation for helping you get where you are today.
  • Apply corporate anniversary seals or stickers to everything you send out, including letterhead, envelopes, invoices, brochures, proposals, etc.
  • Pair your anniversary with an enticing promotion to make your milestone more memorable, such as “save 20% during our 20th-anniversary celebration.”
  • If you’re having an anniversary open house event, create custom invitations, flyers, or postcards to promote your event.
  • Highlight testimonials from loyal customers, which can help enhance and strengthen the brand identity that you’ve been building for years.
  • Post a “fact-a-day” or “did you know?” on social media about your company a few days before your celebration.

Give us a call if you’d like additional ideas on how to promote your important events!

How to Sell Your Brand Through Story

GettyImages-648215006.jpgHave you ever been introduced to an overly chatty person?

They pause briefly to learn your name, then launch into an extended monologue about their life and interests. After finally “escaping” the interlude, you realize they didn’t ask you a single question.

When you meet someone like this, does it raise a red flag?

This pushy demeanor causes you to lose trust in their entire character. The same can be true in marketing when companies spend too much time talking about themselves instead of authentically connecting with consumers. Without building adequate rapport, marketers prematurely oversell or repel prospects for good.

How can you avoid this mistake? By building connections through story.

The Human to Human Connection

Building brand stories sets buyers at ease and creates the best possible customer experience.

Today’s consumers prefer an increasingly personalized experience, and sharing your brand through story is one of the best ways to build relationships. Brand stories offer a friendly introduction to your company, building trust with a generation that craves distinct, authentic connections.

Many companies don’t think of themselves as a brand or believe they have a story to tell. And that’s just not the case! A brand story isn’t simply a chronological account of your history, it’s a portrait of who you are. Your brand story consists of:

  • What your brand says about itself
  • What your brand does in the world
  • What others believe and say about your brand
  • How people interact with your brand

Here’s an example of one business bringing their story to life:

Chipotle’s Mexican Grill is a brand known for serving “food with integrity.” Chipotle has labeled itself “as real as it gets,” using only 51 ingredients and no heat lamps, freezers, or microwaves. A recent print ad included the line: “For real foods. For real actions. For real change.”

Chipotle seeks to fulfill people’s desire for clean eating and to change the way people think about fast food. The core of this ethos includes respect for farmers, animals, and the environment, and transparent displays of ingredients and producers on every menu. Tipping toward satire, the brand’s recent 51 ingredient billboard campaign featured this phrase: The only ingredient that’s too hard to pronounce at Chipotle is “Chipotle.”

Finding Connection

On a neural level, the brain actually “feels” a story.

Story-based communication brings greater comprehension and allows your listeners to grow in confidence and receptivity because people buy in to what they trust!

To create meaningful customer connections, begin by intentionally discovering who you are talking to and deliver the message your audience wants or needs to engage with.

Build a narrative that is captivating, concise, consistent, and conversational. Then do your best to share this everywhere! Think of your brand story as a steady IV drip of content, delivered to multiple audiences, over many years, in a variety of formats.

Whether it involves large-scale displays, mounted core values, or social media content, ensure your story stays consistent across mediums. Keeping attributes simple and clear will allow consumers to recognize you in every setting and to feel at home with all that your brand stands for.

Bring Your Story to Life

Stories make life interesting because they fulfill curiosity and craving in every person.

Telling your brand story is mission-critical in forging relationships with a generation that desires to buy into more than just a product, but into a narrative that gives meaning and pleasure to their daily lives.

Flat Notecards

Product-370_001.jpgAFFORDABLE WAY TO SEND PERSONALIZED THANK YOU NOTES.

If your business is looking for an affordable way to send personalized thank you notes or other brief greetings, you may want to give flat notecards a try!

A flat notecard can be creatively designed as a self-mailing postcard, which means they are cheaper to mail and don’t require an envelope. In addition, a handwritten note on the back is sure to grab attention and get read.

Flat notecards are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from small to oversized postcard size (our printing experts can help you ensure the size you prefer is USPS approved). Flat notecards can also feature many unique finishing touches, such as foil stamping, embossing, debossing, metallic ink, die-cut edges, and much more.

If you’d like help creating a flat notecard that will get noticed and remembered, give us a call today at 856.4290715 or visit: http://www.sjprinter.com!

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How to Win Over Millennials with Effective Print Marketing

Quality control certification, checked guarantee of standard.Millennials and their Gen Z siblings are the first truly digital generations, some learning to swipe a screen before they could wipe their own faces!

Millennials are a particularly powerful bunch, currently holding more spending power than Baby Boomers. By 2020, this group will have a collective spending power of $1.4 trillion. What does this look like in a daily snapshot?

  • More than nine in ten millennials own smartphones, and 90% of millennials have at least one social media profile. Of that majority, 52% are active on 5 or more social media sites
  • Millennials make up 58% of mobile shoppers and are 2.5 times more likely than the average shopper to be influenced by a mobile app.
  • 73% of online millennials believe that internet has been mostly a good thing for society, and they certainly believe their gadgets bring personal benefits: 53% of Millennials said they would rather give up their sense of smell than their technology!
  • While young people love being online, they don’t go there to read ads. In fact, YouTube recently hit upon the idea of six-second ads as a way to try and keep fidgety viewers watching.

While online presence can build your brand and increase your web traffic, businesses are finding their digital marketing campaigns are easily lost in the shuffle of online noise. Print is gaining influence each year, with direct mail alone showing strong results among millennials:

  • 92% are influenced to make a purchase by direct mail.
  • 90% said they would prefer direct mail over email.
  • 90% think direct mail advertising is reliable.
  • 73% use direct mail coupons when making purchases.
  • 63% responded to a direct mail piece to make a purchase.

Corner Younger Markets

When you want to reach new generations through print marketing, here are three ways to make your message more effective.

1. Keep it short and sweet.

Young people want answers fast, so keep ads quick and to the point.

Avoid long advertisements, and think about ways to increase visibility. Here’s one inspiring example:

Reddit currently has over 1 billion unique visitors per month, but at its conception, the company only had a small advertising budget of $500. Faced with limited options, its founders turned to stickers. Everywhere they traveled, they put stickers on posts and signs. They even gave them out to people with the request to “please sticker responsibly.” The sticker campaign paid off and later led to other grassroots campaigns that helped make Reddit enormously successful.

2. Use social proof.

Need an accurate answer?

Phone a friend or poll the audience! Millennials and teens trust friends, family, and testimonies more than the company they’re buying from, so incorporate reviews and user content in your ads to demonstrate why other others love your product. Use quotes, pictures, or user benefits others have realized, and you will easily gain influence.

3. Make it tech-friendly.

Use your company website in all print advertising, and consider adding QR codes and scannable coupons to increase digital and offline connections.

Use pictures of people using your products with links to unique online landing pages so you can better track your results. Make it easy for people to access your company online, and your sales will see an immediate boost.

Print to Win

In an ever-changing world, effective companies must learn to translate their products and values to a new demographic.

Be intentional through print, and you will cut through the clutter today.

Get Ahead at Work by Busting These Bad Habits

GettyImages-924381676.jpgWork and sleep are two of the most time-consuming things we do.

The average American will spend nearly 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, so the way you approach your job can have a huge impact on your quality of being. As Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Do you want your experience at work to be as happy and anxiety free as possible? If so, perhaps it’s time to put the scalpel to some of your less-than-desirable work habits.

Here are just a few ways bad choices might make your life more difficult at work.

Habits that Hurt You Personally

Skipping Breaks

Sometimes we think we’re too busy to take breaks or grab some fresh air.

But this simply isn’t true. Research shows productivity is highest when people work in “sprints” with frequent breaks (around 90 minutes with 15-minute rests).

Winging it on Mondays

Do you struggle to get down to business at the start of each week?

Devote part of Fridays to making a “start here” list for the following week so you can hit the ground running on Mondays.

Negative Attitudes

A recent CareerBuilder survey showed that 62% of employers say they are less likely to promote employees with a pessimistic attitude.

Avoid complaining (which comes across as unprofessional) or responding to suggestions with negative comments like “that won’t work,” or “I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Even when things go wrong, focus your energy on what you’ve learned rather than despising your situation.

Habits that Annoy Others

Eating Smelly or Loud Foods

While a small snack may be fine, avoid eating foods that are messy, noisy, or smelly to protect your reputation with co-workers. Top stink generators include reheated fish, raw onions, tuna, smelly cheese, and hard-boiled eggs.

Grooming at Your Desk

When you are distracted, do you tend to chew your nails, play with your hair, pick at your face, or pull food out of your teeth? What if the co-worker next to you did this? Yuck. Enough said!

Interrupting or Asking Too Many Questions

While a willingness to contribute can be great, often you may be repeatedly cutting off others without realizing it.

Interrupting is rude and shows a lack of self-control. Similarly, asking an abundance of abrupt questions can be draining or annoying to others. When you need further information, gather a list of questions and pose them in an organized, positive way so you are respectful of others’ time.

Habits that Harm Your Reputation

Using Work Time Improperly

Be honest: while at work, how often are you handling texts, personal e-mails, or private phone calls?

If you think others don’t notice, you’re wrong. While co-workers may tolerate this behavior, it will certainly hinder the respect or opportunities you receive in the future. Keep your personal life out of sight (perhaps tucking the phone away or on silent) and you will be more efficient and more valued.

Distraction or Delays

Why is texting while driving illegal?

Because it’s impossible to concentrate fully on two things at once. If you are jotting personal notes, sending e-mails, or galloping through the fields of your imagination during meetings, it sends an inconsiderate message and communicates a lack of integrity. Come to appointments on time and ready to focus.

Being Nosy or Political

While small talk goes a long way to build rapport with others, avoid uninvited personal inquiries or incessant curiosity that won’t let things go.

And remember, if certain topics are divisive in politics, they’ll be divisive at work. Keep conversations focused on work-related issues to avoid insulting others, hurting your professional image, or causing rifts in your company.

The Value of a Smile

kirkI passed a stranger who smiled at me the other day, and it got me thinking about “The Value of a Smile,” written by Frank Irving Fletcher. Whether or not you’ve read this before, I hope this puts a smile on your face.

“The Value of a Smile”
It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash, and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits. It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and Nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is no earthly good to anybody till it is given away. And if in the last-minute rush of the business-day, some of our colleagues should be too tired to give a smile, may we ask you to leave one of yours? For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give!

Here’s the way I see it: There is always a reason to smile. You just have to find it. We promise that if you give our print shop a try, you’ll leave with a smile. See you soon!

Easy Ideas to Boost Your Social Media Standing

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Social media is an increasingly popular way for brands to connect with consumers. Almost 60% of Americans engage with brands on social media between 1 and 3 times daily.

But pinpointing the right strategy for your business can be a challenge. Need inspiration?

Here are three practical examples of entrepreneurs who are jumping off the screen to convert and keep customers through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Edge Body Boot Camp

Edge Body Boot Camp (EBBC) uses both Instagram and Facebook to create a vibrant, friendly social media presence.

EBBC uses social media to create a sense of community by incorporating members into their content. Using photos of individuals holding “I survived” chalkboards, personalized posts congratulate people for things like finishing their first workout, completing a 30-day fitness challenge, or achieving a specific goal over time (pounds lost, miles run, etc).

Takeaways: EBBC uses social media to create brand loyalty and inspire repeat customers. Since pictures on Facebook receive 53% more likes than an average post, this is especially effective for boosting engagement. Add hashtags to your photos and they can be used as clickable links on Facebook or you can link all public posts that have the same hashtag (like EBBC’s #isurvived).

Eileen Lanza Realty

Eileen Lanza is a top real estate investor and realtor in the Los Angeles area.

Lanza understands the importance of real-time updates via social media, and leans heavily on Twitter to keep a steady stream of information available to clients. 92% of all user interactions on Twitter are in the form of click links, which can be formatted as a hashtag or as a link to an external website. Lanza often includes both in her tweets: a hashtag at the beginning (i.e. “Just leased in #Larchmont – Spanish style Bungalow . . .” and a second link (which readers can follow for full listings or articles) with an image like this.

Takeaways: Location or event-based hashtags help attract relevant audiences and snag new leads. Images with external web links can grab the eyes and catalyze curiosity in readers.

See Jane Work

“See Jane Work” is a company that sells stylish office and supply solutions for women who want to be successful in organizing their homes, careers, and futures.

As platforms have grown more involved in sales and marketing, revenues for social media sales have expanded quickly as well. See Jane Work uses shoppable Instagram posts (denoted with a small white shopping icon in the corner) to tag products, lead viewers to their website, and to make purchases incredibly easy for users who see something they are dying to have!

Takeaways: Use shoppable posts to showcase products in a natural way through story themes that connect to your brand. “Jane” is a fictional character that embodies everything working women are today, and often shoppable posts show versions of Jane with her own trendy styles and products that are helping her kill it each day.

Keep Your Name Current

Social media can be liberating to individual users but overwhelming to entrepreneurs.

Use these tangible examples for inspiration or plan quarterly content curating sessions with your team to generate ideas and be proactive in your posting. Need help keep your name current and your message fresh? We can help!

How to Build Trust in Your Team

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Once there was a businessman on a routine domestic flight.

Though a seasoned flyer, he felt tense when, shortly after takeoff, the pilot asked everyone to stay in their seats with belts fastened. Moments later the pilot announced there would be no beverage service due to unexpected turbulence. People looked worried, and soon some were shrieking with alarm as a storm bounced the plane erratically.

Nearby, the man saw a little girl sitting all alone, but acting totally calm. When the plane jolted she closed her eyes briefly but eventually started reading, looking out the window, or fiddling with toys until the shaking subsided.

After the flight, the girl waited quietly as others exited. When the man approached and asked how she could be so brave, she said:

“My dad is the pilot, and he is taking me home.”

Weather the Storms

Does your team trust that you are taking them home?

When the clouds form and turbulence comes, do your people trust you to guide them through? Building trust may not be on your regular “to do” list, but it can cement a foundation so you can build high and strong.

Here are five tips to increase trust in your workplace or family today:

1. Show your vulnerabilities.

Great leaders are connected leaders, and people relate more with your weaknesses than your strength.

To truly connect with people you serve, it’s important to share not just strengths and victories but struggles and setbacks. Admit your mistakes. Apologize. Be proactive about gathering negative feedback. And use your own errors to teach or encourage others.

2. Regularly delegate authority.

Give trust to get trust.

If you run a regular staff meeting, occasionally have others develop the agenda or lead the discussion. No one enjoys a micromanager who constantly takes credit or dominates others. Step back into the shadows and you will build a wealth of relational currency.

3. Be transparent about money.

Sharing financial information can be a huge boon to the bottom line.

However, a 2016 study found that only 25 percent of privately held companies were sharing financial information with all of their employees. Whether your firm is publicly-traded or privately-held, the time you spend explaining and talking about results will allow team members to feel they are a valuable, integral part of your circle. And it helps people understand how they can positively impact the financial performance of the business as a whole.

4. Operate from a visible set of values.

If your firm lacks clear values, define them.

Mount them on walls, design strategic symbols to communicate them, or put a face on them by sharing testimonies of team members who are living the values. People thrive when they have context for their work and its importance to the bigger picture.

5. Don’t let difficult issues linger.

When times get tough, the clock on your credibility starts ticking.

Don’t allow difficult situations to corner you – instead confront them head-on and get your team involved too. The formation of problem-solving groups can energize your staff and provide opportunities to reward creativity and individual contributions. Groups can be tasked with brainstorming strategies or exploring new models.

If your “difficult issue” is a person, be intentional about heading off conflicts immediately. Be hard on the problem and soft on the person. Be assertive but courteous, addressing specific complaints and providing clear expectations about the response and timeframe needed to resolve them.

Trust is built through daily interactions and intentional gestures. You have many opportunities to gain trust each day. Work hard in the small things and you’ll weather storms with confidence!