Friday, November 20, 2020

How to Kickstart Your Noodle During a Creative Block

"Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated." (Paul Rand, graphic designer)


Never does a page seem so bleak as when you experience a creative rut in design.


Design ruts are the graphic artist’s equivalent of writer’s block. And everyone has been there! The world’s most imaginative people have experienced this obstacle and found a way to battle through.


One benefit of getting stuck is that you’re forced to rediscover your own creativity! Need help getting started? Here are some different ways to break out of stagnation when you’re stuck on a design:


1. Think laterally


Designs are ultimately problems waiting to be solved.


When you are stymied by the project at hand, come at the problem from a different angle, no matter how extreme it might seem.


One way to do this is to temporarily focus your thinking around individual parts of a message, like why a client might need your product or what pictures might best communicate its benefits.


2. Concentrate on your market


What are your target customers used to seeing, and what would make them lean forward and take note?


Maybe you need to challenge existing assumptions and go for something bolder. For example, in the financial world, materials tend to be produced in very corporate colors, like navy blue and grey. How could a fresh design upend traditional concepts in a way that is appealing and energizing?


3. Try the “what if” or the “why” game


When designs don’t seem to flow, start with questions instead. Like this:


What if questions:



  • What if I only use illustrations?

  • What if I only use type?

  • What if the type made the illustration?

  • What if I draw it with my eyes closed?

Why questions:



  • Why do I need to focus on this particular product feature?

  • Why is this feature important to prospects?

  • Why is this something that will impact their life in a significant way?

  • Why is this something they need to think about now versus later?

4. Take a Quick Tutorial


While it can be tempting to rip off a design from someone else, one of the best ways to build your original muscle is to go back to the drawing board.


An easy way to do this is to jump into an online tutorial. Though traditionally intended to educate, tutorials can be a rich source of design inspiration. Don’t merely skim the tutorial and glance at the result, go through the tutorial step by step with the author.


Doing this will force you to think like another person as you try to understand the implementation of methods that aren’t your own. This can energize you to think about new possibilities.


Don’t Force a Solution


When you feel overwhelmed by your lack of inspiration, remember that feeling stuck is just another step in the creative process.


If all else fails, embrace the moment and give it some time. What seems like a rut now might be an important step on your creative journey. Be patient, learn from it, and trust that you’ll come out on the other side.


Need help with your design idea? We can help!

Friday, November 6, 2020

Add Spice to Your Print Ads with Distinct, Arresting Images

In a world where digital advertising screams for attention, print ads need a little extra spice to compete.


Ads that evoke emotion, add humor, or spark curiosity have extra impact. Need inspiration? Here are three imaginative print campaigns to consider.


Opel: A Road Safety Campaign


Opel, a German automobile manufacturer, wanted to draw attention to the danger of texting while driving.  


Opel’s message is distinct because it uses nothing more than the black background and a short line of text that packs a big punch:


“Your typjng whille you drive is asbad as your drivinh whilr yoou typr.”


Sharp, memorable, and humorous, this ad immediately shows why texting driving is a bad idea. Opel paired this with gigantic black and white sidewalk banners of a person pushing a 7-meter-long baby stroller. The banners included this caption, highlighted in yellow:


“1 second on your phone are 7 meters on the street. Don’t text and drive.”


Vodol: Smelly and Simple


Did you know the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words?


With a picture, you convey much more than you can with words. In some cases, it can take a thousand words to describe what is displayed in one picture!


Whenever possible, use pictures that share concepts in striking, unusual ways. Vodol, one of Brazil’s best-known brands for preventing athlete’s foot and odor issues, nailed this strategy. Its print ad featured a foot with normal toes and arches, while a rounded nose took the place of the heel’s natural curve. The nostril – mashed into the ground – was accompanied by this caption:


“Protect your feet. And our noses.”


French Ministry of Health: Offend Others or Let a Bland Message “Melt” Away?


Print ads in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers who already have connections with that print advertising channel.


Looking to address childhood obesity and target behavior change, the French Ministry of Health created a print ad where a flesh-colored, triple-scoop ice cream cone was melting into the shape of a very large belly.


This arresting image, accompanied by the caption “obesity starts at a young age,” caused people everywhere to think twice about daily food choices. Sometimes a stark image is needed to grab attention, and in this case – with the number of obese people doubling in recent years – France was serious about getting its message across.


Strategic Design is Key


While each of these print ads each hold some shock value, they also carry a distinct, easy-to-understand message.


To create effective print ads, thoughtful design is essential. Because of its tactile nature and sensory impact, print offers a more curated approach than digital media. Use highly targeted content and distinct, powerful images to grab attention and compel engagement from your viewers.


And, as these ads demonstrate, simplicity is powerful. To go for more, sometimes what you really need is less.


 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

How to Restart the Conversation When a Lead Has Gone Cold

Adding new customers to your sales funnel is essential for growth, and lead generation is vital.


For many industries, generating a lead can cost anywhere from $25 to $300. So, after you’ve made an initial contact or pushed for a commitment, what should you do when prospects disengage?


Don’t give up! When leads stop responding, hope is not lost. Smart entrepreneurs can use many strategies to rekindle interest. Here are a few options to consider:


Prime the Pump


Leads go cold for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them.


According to Jim Obermayer, author of Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, 56% of people who indicated they might like to buy a product are still in play six months later, and 35% percent are still in the market after one year.


“Leads do not go cold as much as it is not yet their time to buy in the one-year cycle,” Obermayer said. “A rep may approach them before they are ready.”


Though it’s challenging to follow up after a long window of time, Obermayer suggests priming the pump, using an email first, followed by a personal call.


Ask One Key Question


Don’t start a conversation without a strategy or direction.


When you reconnect, remind the prospect of the last time you spoke, the level of interest they expressed, and any questions you discussed.


If they weren’t initially ready to buy, tell them you’re following up to gauge interest or update them on what’s changed since the last interaction (like a revamped product or updated subscription options). If they still seem non-committal, don’t be afraid to ask this question:


“Should I close your file?”


Differentiate Your Approach


If leads have been ignoring your outreach attempts, try adding value, or shifting your approach.


Consider a direct text message campaign, an email with a link to a freebie, or a direct mail invitation to a special event. Custom videos can also provide a non-threatening way to break the ice. Call prospects by name, refer to your previous conversation, and send an encouraging message to show you care about them personally.


You may be surprised by what a kind word can do!


Send a Break-Up Email


If you’ve followed up with someone multiple times and your prospects seem bleak, it’s ok to send a farewell message.


In fact, a last chance email can elicit a 76% response rate. Used in a friendly, conversational way, giving final notice can jolt someone out of complacency and get them moving.


Here’s one example:


Hi Tina,


After several attempts to reconnect, it seems your interest in _____ may have waned. That’s totally fine, but I’m just wondering if we should keep trying or find a better time?


To keep things simple, I’d appreciate if you could respond with a simple keystroke (reply with either A, B, C, D, or E) to indicate your level of interest:


  • A. Stop emailing me with attempts to connect but continue to send event invitations.

  • B. Please remove me from your list.

  • C. I may need your help, but the timing isn’t right. Please keep trying!

  • D. I want to schedule a time to talk – could you please send your availability?

  • E. I forgot who you are. Can you refresh my memory?

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Think of Reconnecting as an Opportunity


One of the best ways to revive a cold lead is to stay positive.


Don’t worry about annoying a prospect; the only way you’ll know if someone’s interested is by asking! While you don’t want to be pushy, it’s better to error on the side of optimism. In reality, only 10% to 25% of all leads are followed up on. By following up, you stand a chance of standing out.

Friday, October 30, 2020

How to Lead with a Level Head in Stressful Situations

On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 ascended from LaGuardia Airport and had a chance encounter with an unexpected adversary.


Shortly after take-off, the Airbus struck a flock of Canadian geese. Flames exploded before an eerie silence, and an odor of fuel filled the cabin. Both engines had shut down, and Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his team tried unsuccessfully to restart them. After turning back toward LaGuardia, the pilots quickly realized their only option was an emergency water landing in the Hudson River.


As they passed less than 900 feet above the George Washington Bride, Sullenberger radioed the coast guard for assistance and barked “brace for impact!” Ninety seconds later, the plane crashed into the water with no bounce, followed by a gradual deceleration and a speedy deboarding. All 150 passengers were saved, and Sullenberger was the last to deplane after walking the cabin twice to ensure it was empty.


Later, the crew was presented with “keys to the city” by mayor Micheal Bloomberg, and the incident was dubbed “the miracle on the Hudson.”


Four Tips to Steady Your Nerve


Have you ever had a “falling-through-the-floor feeling” moment like this in your leadership?


Maybe it wasn’t a life or death experience, but most seasoned leaders regularly experience pressure. While these moments may tempt you to lash out in anger or duck and run, level-headed leaders make decisions that are rational, consistent, and upbeat.


Want to stay calm in the heat of the moment? Here are four steps to consider:


1. Conduct a Threat Assessment


When the alarm signals start to flash, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of “what if” statements: What if X? What if XYZ? 


Instead, step away from this panic-mode mentality and ask a simple question: “what kind of problem is this?” Here you can discern if something needs an immediate reaction, a team-based response, or a strategic, long-term plan.


2. Leverage Prior Experience


While you may not have faced this particular challenge before, you’ve probably been in a similar situation. 


Ask yourself, “When ____ happened before, how did we resolve it?” Even if you’ve only faced this scenario in training, tell yourself, “this is just a different version of a problem I’ve solved before.” Leveraging past experiences (and those of your close colleagues) can help you size up a challenge and rationally consider the threats at hand.


3. Focus on What You Can Control


When things get tough, it isn’t easy to stay positive. 


But an upbeat attitude is more than a rosy perspective; it’s actually a lifeline to breakthrough. One Navy-trained explosive specialist shared a story of a time he was defusing a mine underwater and got trapped, unable to move his hands or his feet. 


How did he move forward? With positive thinking: “I’m still breathing, so that’s good,” he told himself. “What else do I have that’s going for me?” 


The specialist realized that even if he could do one little thing to make something better, this was better than no control at all:


“If you can do another thing and then another thing, then you can have cascading positivity as opposed to spiraling negativity,” he said. “It’s really only an emergency if I can’t find a better solution.”


4. Plan Your Next Step


Even if you can’t see a way out, you can probably take one step forward. 


When you don’t have a solution, the secret to staying calm is to decide on a next step. This prevents an anxious gap from opening, where worry and speculation can flourish.  


Think in technical terms, ask for help, and take a baby step forward wherever possible. Focus on the process, not the outcome, and you’ll stay sharp in moments of crisis.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Shout Your News with Stylish Printed Announcements

Have you recently won an award, reached a milestone, or done something pretty incredible?


Whether you’re launching a product or expanding to a new market, your business or organization can share the news far and wide with printed announcement cards. In a world of digital noise, the medium is just as important as the message, so why not opt for something more personal and pristine with gorgeous custom announcements?


Share Something Special and Significant


Announcement cards offer a wonderful way to market your events, products, achievements, or stay in touch with your clients. These stylish notes are more than just fluff; they denote something of significance that boosts your brand and business.


Want to put your news at their fingertips? Here are just a few catchy headers:



  • Launching SOON

  • Coming to a neighborhood near you

  • We’re Hiring

  • The Future is HERE

  • You asked, we answered . . .

  • Save 20% more time with _____!

  • We’re growing. Find us at our new location __________

  • The best in the business: presenting our award winning ___________

  • Your new investment expert: welcoming MBA Edwin Harris to our endowment team

Want to have some fun with your announcements? Try one of these energetic theme ideas:


Take a photo of your team holding a sign announcing the news. Add colored party hats, streamers, or sparkling confetti.


Try peel-to-win cards or scratch-off tickets. Everyone loves a surprise, so include peel-to-win promotions (for example: 20-50-75 percent off or an exclusive 10 grand prize winners) as part of your announcement card.


Post a picture of a new location or featured team member using eye-catching props (like pulling a $100 bill from a magician’s hat or posing with a llama that is wearing a birthday hat).


Print a customized puzzle and send it in an envelope, so recipients have to put together the pieces to learn about your exciting news.


Do a mailing to your key referral contacts (or top clients) with a note and gift relating to the announcement. You may use a simple postcard for the majority of customers but add an incentive for others. For example, when announcing your new GOLD status, send bags of gold chocolate coins or gold-dusted chocolate strawberries to your VIP clients.


Keep Readers Curious


Remember, while announcements involve your news, readers will enjoy them more when you make it about THEM.


In all your messaging, focus on how your news translates into value for your friends and customers. Reiterate a special offer, a time-bound coupon, or a free sample for clients who attend your event. Use powerful action calls or “you” statements that convey benefits for the user. Whether you are a political candidate or a neighborhood business, reader-focused messaging gets the best results.


For example:


Measure Strain Without Stress


Make the Most Out of Your ________


Advancing our Community Together


Save $100 on Your Subscription When You Bundle _________ and __________


Something to Write Home About


Printable announcement cards make it easy to send exciting news to your friends and associates without breaking the bank.


From elegantly embossed envelopes to oversized foil-stamped postcards, ensure your message shines strong as you share events, grand openings, sales announcements, and more.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Drive Exponential Growth Through Omnichannel Marketing

The more technology advances, the more it is integrated into our daily lives.


From customized print ads to apps that help you find the kitchen section in your favorite IKEA store, customers are no longer confined to a single channel or platform as they interact with a brand. And as entrepreneurs become increasingly responsive to individual customers' needs, the lines between what we do on- and offline will continue to blur.


Omnichannel Marketing in Action


An omnichannel experience is a multichannel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers that unifies many mediums to work together.


Here your print marketing, onsite displays, mobile marketing, and testimonials all tell a consistent story while providing an integrated shopping experience. The focus is on building a stronger relationship between consumers and the brand by smoothing the customer experience, generating consistent content, and multiplying conversions.


What might this look like? The possibilities are as varied as your imagination! Here’s just one example from Coca-Cola:


According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, Romania ranks amongst the top 10 unhappiest countries in Europe.


To turn the Romanian’s attention to the country's overlooked positive news, Coca-Cola Romania launched an inspiring campaign with the hashtag #halffull and an innovative package.


The special bottle, full from the half up, displays positive news about Romania, and urges people to share their “half full story.” Two hundred bottles were sent to Romanian influencers, and the campaign appeared in contextual outdoor displays, social media videos, and websites.


Marketing manager Luliana Nedelcu said this:


“Optimism and positivity are the heart of the Coca-Cola brand, and what better way to launch a conversation about seeing the half full side than through Coca-Cola’s most iconic asset, the glass bottle? We believe this idea has the power to make a true impact, and the reactions and engagement with the campaign so far are a testament of its success.”


Customers on the Move


Why is omnichannel marketing so important?


Because today’s consumers are always on the move! For example:



  • 98% of Americans switch between devices on the same day

  • 71% of shoppers who use smartphones for research in-store say this has become an important part of their shopping experience

  • Today’s consumers average six touchpoints with a business before making a purchase, with nearly 50% regularly using more than four communication channels

The difference between multichannel and omnichannel marketing is small, but mastering omnichannel marketing can work wonders for your bottom line. 


Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t. And companies with robust omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, combined with a 7.5% decrease in cost per contact.


Why Print Prompts Action


Weaving your print and digital marketing together is an integral part of the omnichannel approach.


Print continues as a catalyst to drive online research and buying practices, and it can spark interest at crucial points in your sales funnel. Data shows that 44 percent of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving direct mail marketing (10 percent more than people who visit landing pages after receiving an email). While under half of all consumers act on an email immediately, almost four out of every five customers will act on direct mail right away. And half of all consumers hold on to print marketing materials for future reference.


Ready to expand the role of print in your omnichannel marketing? We’re here to help you integrate the “moving parts” of your campaigns and point customers to their next best action!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How to Ask for Help at Work

Were you forced to work from home in 2020?


What were your biggest challenges? Perhaps it was learning the necessary technology – or teaching it to others. Maybe it was forming a new business plan. Or perhaps you struggled to meet the workday demands while homeschooling your kids.


If you weren’t stretched this year, you were probably in the minority! And as you reached the end of your abilities, you probably faced a question most people prefer to avoid:


“How can I ask for help without looking weak?”


Though an independent attitude is great, at some point, everyone needs to lean on others. And sometimes, a can-do spirit can push you to take on more than you can reasonably handle, leading to failure or burnout. According to a 2018 Gallup study, 23% of full-time workers reported feeling burned out at work very often or always. And one major reason for this burnout was an unmanageable workload.


Examples of How to Ask for Help


Do you need more help but struggle to verbalize this? If so, having a script to start from can be a push in the right direction. Here are some principles and example “asks” that might be helpful:


Keep it Simple


When you beat around the bush, people sometimes feel manipulated or deceived. Instead, lead with a simple phrase like, “I’m stuck,” or “Can you please help me?”


Be Specific


When you want a clear answer, lead with a specific request.


For example: “Are you free Wednesday morning? I need feedback on my sales report and would greatly value your input.”


Or: “Can you give me a warm intro to Russ Colton? He’s your head of marketing, and I would love to collaborate with him.”


Give the “Why” Behind Your Request


People are much more likely to help you out when they know why your request is important. Try leading with a need, like this:


"I'm awful at design, and my slides look terrible. Could you help me tweak this presentation?”


Or: “This project needs to be done by Friday, and I have no idea how that will happen. We are juggling three proposals, and I can only manage two projects this week.”


Use Examples of Effectiveness


When you compliment someone during your request, they realize you truly value their input.


Try leading with a specific example of their competency, like:


“Would you please review this before I send it to XYZ? Your input really helped my previous pitch to ABC succeed.”


Begin with a Question


When you want to ask for help, start your request with a discussion and a clarifying question.


For example: “I’m still learning the ropes on this – could you give me an idea of how long this task should take me?”


From here, you can follow up with natural questions, press into another’s expertise, or pose a specific request about where you need assistance.


Say Thanks in Advance


Gratitude is always a powerful way to appeal to others.


A recent study of 350,000 e-mail exchanges found that sign-offs like “thanks in advance” and “thanks” yielded average response rates from 63-66%, compared with 51-54% for other popular options (including “best,” “regards,” and “cheers”). Even expressed preemptively, gratitude can keep people invested in helping you, as long as you focus more on their generosity and selflessness—and what that says about them as people—than on how you’ll personally benefit.


Together is Better


Finally, remember that when you need help, it’s best to be as honest as possible.


Being authentic and truthful makes people trust you and increases their desire to pitch in. And when you ask for help, you increase your team’s likelihood of succeeding and thriving.


Teamwork benefits everyone – so don’t be afraid to ask!