Friday, October 18, 2019

Inspire Imagination with 4 Creative Design Catalysts

Do you enjoy creating?


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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

3 Ways to Help Your Team Love Mondays

In 1966, an American band called the "The Mamas and the Papas" released a song about Monday that captured the mood of millions of people regarding that dreaded first day of the workweek:


"Monday, Monday, can't trust that day.


Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way . .


Every other day, every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah . . .


But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes . . . you can find me cryin' all of the time."


How to Kick Those Monday Blues


It's true. Not many of us look forward to the start of the week.


Half of all workers will be late to their jobs on Monday mornings. The abrupt transition from a free weekend to the grind makes many people miserable. But Mondays don't have to be a drag. While you can't magically get your team excited to head back to work on Mondays, there are a few things you can do to make Mondays a bit better.


Ax Monday Meetings


How often do you say something like, "let's follow up on that first thing Monday morning?"


The start of the week may feel like the perfect time to reconnect and launch a new week. However, research shows that Monday mornings are actually a time when many people are at their most energetic and creative levels.


Rick's investment team found that, when scheduling Monday morning meetings, they unwittingly drained energy levels and decreased momentum. By giving team members several hours alone to start the day, Monday morning "jump starts" made mid-day meetings much more effective.  


Team Breakfast


Pivotal, a software company based in San Francisco, believes company breakfasts are the key to building a cohesive company culture.


They actually serve breakfast EVERY DAY of the work week!


What makes Mondays better? Breakfast! Serving food warms people's hearts and bonds your co-workers. Occasional Monday breakfasts can soften the workweek blues, build camaraderie in your team, and give people healthy fuel to launch into the routine.


A team breakfast doesn't have to be strictly social. You can also use this time to brief people on announcements, share upcoming projects, or celebrate workplace wins for your team.


Friday Fun Days


A typical five-day workweek is a given for most managers.


But, did you know that 15 percent of companies have started implementing four-day workweeks?


Reusser Design, an Indiana Web app development company, slashed their hours from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursdays. Founder Nate Reusser says that the policy motivates everyone to work faster and with greater focus, much like the way people work just before going on vacation.


"You wouldn't believe how much we get done," Reusser said.


Four-day workweeks can boost morale and increase productivity. Employees with a shorter workweek are usually more enthusiastic when returning to work, and those energy levels fuel higher outputs.


Could your business consider taking one Friday off each month, or implementing half days on summer Fridays? A happier, more productive workforce may be worth the sacrifice!


Lighten That Monday Mood


In the US, approximately 100 million full-time employees aren't engaged at work, which means a staggering 51 percent of people are slogging through their days on the payroll.


Underperformers can have a devastating effect on your company, but often a simple remedy can transform a negative work culture.


Look for ways to lighten up the Monday mood, and Mondays will lighten up on you!

Monday, October 14, 2019

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

Individual 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.  Give us a call at Print It! to help you create a Timeless Treasure - 864-882-3609.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Mastering the Psychology of Discounts to Make More Sales

What 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.

Friday, October 4, 2019

4 Mistakes that Make Your Ads Fall Flat

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


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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Practical Skills for Successful Entrepreneurs

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.

Friday, September 27, 2019

4 Ways to Maximize Impact with Pictures

They 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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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

Fonts 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.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Transform Customer Complaints into Great Reviews and Referrals

In business, problems always arise.


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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Optimize Data to Make Better Decisions

In 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.

Friday, September 13, 2019

From Ideas to Reality: The Basics of 3D Printing

3D 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!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

3 Common Management Traps (and How to Counteract Them)

Are 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.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Use Themed Calendars as a Strategic Marketing Asset

In a digital world cluttered with text messages, pop-up ads, and spam, sometimes paper products hit the sweet spot when it comes to organization.


As the end of the year approaches, client and employee gifts may be on your to-do list. Themed calendars are a clever marketing asset that can serve as a unique token of gratitude.


Calendars are practical for everyone, offering branded staying power while conveying your business goals in a way that's customized to the interests of your audience.


Looking for a few creative ideas? Here are three strategies to capture unique calendar themes.


1. Identify Your Goals.


Each company has its own high-profile days.


Whether you run a real estate company, a chiropractic clinic, or a financial consulting firm, there is a calendar theme that can be tailored to your needs. Start your design by identifying your goals. Do you want to generate more end-of-year orders? Keep employees on track for milestone deadlines? Sell more gym memberships?


Specify concrete goals you want to achieve and tie them to graphics or promotional themes that will build momentum for your business.


2. Schedule Your Promotions.


Did you know one of the busiest days for Papa Murphy's Take-and-Bake pizzas is Valentine's Day?


Each year on February 14, the company generates tons of sales from heart-shaped pizzas and s'more dessert delights. The key? Combining deliberate calendar planning with irresistible product promotions.


Every business has crazy seasons and slow seasons, and planning ahead can provide strategic opportunity to offset these challenges. Do you traditionally see a slump or spike in your business during critical months? Call these out in your calendar by placing special promotions in the calendar, or prepping team members with personalized perks or reminders within your calendar design.


Whether it's the biggest sales day for local bakeries or the top period when shipping companies miss their delivery guarantees, highlighting seasonal trends can set you up for success.


3. Combine Calendars with Loyalty Incentives.


Rewards programs, freebies, and giveaways always make customers feel special.


Did you know eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years? Consider coordinating your calendars with themed swag or surprise incentives to keep loyalty levels high while generating significant growth.


According to the 2018 Trust Barometer report, over time, returning clients spend 67% more than new customers. Research estimates that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company's profitability by 75%!


365 Days of Exposure


Calendars come in many formats: desktop, magnet, peel and stick, or even posters.


Want to find just the right product for your needs? From triangular desk calendars to transparent covers, we are happy to help you design the perfect promotional calendar. Give us a call at Print It! at 864-882-3609.  We can help you keep your audience engaged with 365 days of exposure for your business!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

How to Build Unity in Your Team on Three Critical Levels

They are the most exceptional basketball team there ever was, or ever will be.


The 1992 Olympic Basketball Dream Team, made up of legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Scottie Pippen, dominated the Olympics, winning by an average of 40 points each game. The team seemed invincible, except for the day it wasn't.


The game was a 20-minute scrimmage, which took place in June of 1992, in San Diego, California. The shocked victors were a star-studded college line-up. The reported margin was around eight points, with a final score of 62-54 (though coach Chuck Daly cleared the scoreboard before media were allowed in afterward). How could a powerhouse lose to amateurs? The answer was simple. Individual stars could not work together as a team. The talent was not enough to compensate for the lack of unity in the team.


Acceptance, Agreement, and Alignment


Without a unified team, the mission of your organization is lost.


Unity refers to the synergy of individuals working together to make a larger vision happen. This means each contributor to the team must be wholeheartedly focused on the same outcome to create consistency and achieve success.


What builds unity in business settings?


Generally, if people trust their leader and believe they have a voice at the table, they feel aligned with the greater purpose of an organization.


But the responsibility for building alignment lies with the leader, and includes three levels of unity:


Acceptance


Most companies already have this first (and lowest) level of unity, appointing a formal leader with team members who agree on this hierarchy.


At this level, people go along with the status quo because if they happen to object, they perceive the cost of speaking up as too great.


Agreement


At this level of unity, people agree with a team's direction and generally support it.


Unfortunately, they are not necessarily invested in the leader's ideas or committed to making them happen. While leaders may not experience outright resistance, at this level, teams lack momentum and can't seem to make things happen.


Alignment


Here leaders find that people are not just with them, but fully behind them.


They're committed to making the shared vision a reality and give tremendous effort to making it happen. They voice support in public and aren't afraid to share concerns in private.


Move People Forward with Brave Communication


What happens if your team is stuck at level one or two? Leaders can take several steps to build unity in practical ways:



  • Discuss the levels of unity with your team, asking people to speak honestly about where things are at or share sensitive feedback in private.

  • Clearly articulate your vision, strategy, or your reason WHY. People can't get on board with a vision if they don't understand it. Be consistent in sharing the vision. The gravitational pull is always toward individual roles rather than team vision, and it's your job to keep the end goal in sight.

  • Encourage debate and deliberation by positioning yourself as a learner. When weighing decisions, gather as much input as possible, then share why you decided on a particular direction.

  • Ask for buy-in. When you sense underlying tension, consider addressing it directly. Ask people who disagree with you to get on board anyway. On dicey decisions, it may be important to ask people (publicly, one by one, during a meeting) this question: "_____, can you align with this decision?"

Be brave in your communication, and you will cut to the core of disunity in your team. Remember, people can't authentically buy-in until they've voluntarily committed first.

Friday, August 30, 2019

5 Smart Strategies for Fantastic Font Selection

Want to win in print? Let's talk text.


While fonts are a crucial part of one's design, often fonts are given merely a passing thought. However, good typography expresses personality, increases readability, and displays professionalism, ensuring your print ad delivers the right message in just the right tone.


Fonts can mark a clear difference between a piece that is awkward and amateur versus one that is sleek and professional. Don't fast-forward through this crucial element in your project design!


Increase the Impact of Your Print Piece with the Right Font


Here are five things marketers should take into consideration when choosing the right font.


1. Readability


The most critical factor in font selection is readability.


If people struggle to read your text, they'll probably pass on your business. Remember, script or decorative fonts are usually more challenging to read, especially in large blocks. Increasing font size and spacing between lines increases readability, whether you use simple or decorative fonts. If you aren't sure of the best format, try several drafts and poll friends to get an objective viewpoint.


2. Instant Impact


Design, including fonts, is key to a consumer's brand assessment.


Did you know that 72% of consumers say packaging design definitively influences their purchases? Using multiple fonts can enhance your message and captivate consumers, but don't get carried away.


Choose fonts that compliment rather than compete with each other. Try a decorative font for a logo and a traditional font for the body copy. Or try a large, bold headline with a subtle script tagline. Logo fonts should act as an accent piece to reflect your company's personality but use these fonts sparingly in other copy.


3. Emotional Connection


The height, curves, or angles of lines can resonate with consumers in ways you might not expect.


Take the New York Times, for example. This media giant has tried several times since 2003 to change its font and modernize its image. Each time, the paper received backlash from readers who felt upended at the deviation from what they had known and loved.


Over time, your font can become as much a part of your brand as your tagline or logo. Make an enduring, sustainable choice, and you may be surprised how it takes on a life of its own!


4. Target Demographic


To really hit home, remember your font should immediately click with your target audience.


For example, a stodgy, narrow font may work well for a cigar box but would seem clumsy for a children's playground carnival. When beginning a project, ask yourself, "where and how will consumers read this information?" Aim for the customer, and you'll find greater success.


5. Brand Goals


What is the overall image you want to project? Fun and playful or sleek and simple?


If you're looking for something traditional, formal, or elegant, a serif font is usually best. If you're aiming for a modern, sharp, or minimalist look, try sans-serifs. 


From Font to Fantastic


Fonts choices have a subconscious impact on how customers process and receive your message.


Push yourself to think contextually when it comes to fonts, seeking out those that will best connect to the culture, age, or the location of people you are trying to reach. Carefully attending to these details can make a difference that lasts for decades!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

4 Nonverbal Communication Hacks to Streamline Your Success

"Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say." 
- Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes


Do you appreciate it when you are telling a story and your listener sneaks a peek at their watch? How about when you ask your child for help with a chore and they mumble a begrudging "yes" while dramatically rolling their eyes?


Communication is a nuanced endeavor.


Whether you're using hundreds of words or simply standing in silence, you are in constant communication with those around you. Experts estimate that a minimal amount of communication happens through the exchange of words, while up to 93% occurs through tone, expression, and gestures.


Nonverbal interactions are our primary mode of communication (coming so naturally, even the smallest child has it mastered), and it is difficult to "fake." Nonverbals usually tell the truth, even when our words are lies.


Be a Better Communicator in Your Professional Environment


Here are four interesting strategies to use nonverbal communication to your advantage.


1. Break the Tension


In moments of high tension, people feel more defensive when they sense you are trying to "win."


Nodding your head during a conversation communicates that you are listening and making an active attempt to understand an opposing point. Nodding can also win people over to your viewpoint, as people subconsciously mirror the body language of those around them. When you nod while speaking, it adds authenticity to your words and makes people more likely to compromise with you in heated situations.


2. Understand the Relational Bonds in the Room


Sometimes the quickest way to grow trust in a group is to figure out where loyalties lie.


One trick is to watch for eye contact. When a group of people laughs, members of the group can't help but make eye contact with the people they feel close to.


Another clue is the direction of a person's feet. In group conversations, if the feet of the listener are pointed at the person speaking, it conveys interest and respect. If the listener's feet are pointed away, it often shows they are disinterested or disconnected.


3. Communicate Confidence Even When You are Nervous


If projecting confidence can determine the outcome of your conversation, how can you add weight to your nonverbals?


Confidence is something you can practice before you enter a room. Research shows that the use of "power poses" (placing your hands on your hips, standing tall with your chin raised, or raising your fists above your head), can trick your brain into feeling more confident. Do this for 30 seconds before a meeting, and you'll walk into a room with more natural confidence, resulting in a smoother conversation and a more poised disposition.  


4. Increase Influence Without Saying a Word


Sometimes the biggest distractions in a conversation are the fillers.


To establish trust while listening, avoid needless "noise" like pacing, tapping your foot, or fidgeting with your hands or pen. When you ask a question, and someone is slow to respond, resist the urge to jump back in. Remain silent for a few extra beats to show you respect this person's thought process and that you're confident in moments of negotiation. Quieting your impulses also helps you come across as competent and in control.


A Springboard for Success


These tips won't make you a communication ninja, but streamlining these natural cues can help you better understand the relationships of those around you.


Intentionally sharpen your nonverbal skills, and you will build your network and streamline a path to success!

Friday, August 23, 2019

How to Effectively Guide Your Customers Through the Journey of Decision

Do you want to be more intentional and effective in your marketing?


Maybe it's time to refocus on the journey you want customers to take. As a map is to a road trip, a sales funnel can serve as a guide for your prospects.


Sales are more than just transactions; they involve several stages of decision. Push too hard, and people run. Keep it too casual, and they delay. What is the ideal balance? Creating a sales funnel (or a content path for prospects to follow) can engage people every step of the way.


People can't buy from you if they don't know you exist, and they won't buy from you if they don't trust you.


Here are five stages to consider as you seek to move them from a posture of spectating to the point of final sale.


1. Awareness


In this step, prospects learn about your existence.


Just like dating, before you can introduce yourself to someone, you need to catch their eye. As you consider this stage of communication, ask yourself, "what will drive traffic in our direction? What will spark curiosity or attract interest?" Combining excellent print and digital marketing will put a memorable face on your business.  


2. Interest


Now that you've got their attention, be sure to keep it!


Here, prospects move beyond general awareness to intentional engagement. Ask yourself "what will engage them enough that they won't drift away?" Seek to grow a top-of-mind presence while you showcase your skills and build their trust.


3. Consideration


Beyond just flirting, now two parties consider a match.


Your prospect evaluates your product or services, and you work hard to gain their commitment. Ask yourself, "what information do they need to make a decision?" Identify what is holding them back and outline unique selling points or benefits.


4. Action


Now it's time for the big ask.


What irresistible offer or personal touch can you use to tip them toward action? Use incentives, bonus products, or hints of urgency to close the sale.


5. Retention


Did you know that the probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20 percent, while the chances of selling to an existing customer are estimated at 60-70 percent?


Perhaps the most essential part of your funnel is convincing current customers to keep coming back! After closing the deal ask yourself, "what messages of gratitude or additional incentives can I offer? How can I invite feedback, involve customers in an on-going conversation, or upsell the clients I already have?" The best part of a working funnel is turning one purchase into 10, or 10 sales into 100.


Begin with the End in Mind


To build a successful funnel, you need to start at the bottom. What is your ideal outcome? Define how many subscribers you want or how many products you hope to sell. Quantify the goal, then work backward to plan your marketing. Here's one example:


The Apple Blossom boutique noticed that when they sent a printed direct mail teaser, about 20% of recipients visited a specific Apple Blossom URL that was created as an online landing page. Of these online visitors, 10% of browsers made a purchase. Using this data, Apple Blossom started at the bottom of the funnel to work backward for their marketing goals. The boutique wanted to make 100 sales for its spring promotion. If 10% of URL visitors would ultimately purchase, Apple Blossom knew they needed to bring around 1,000 people to this online landing page. If only 20% of direct mail recipients would visit them online, the boutique needed to send printed mail teasers to 5,000 individuals.


The Backbone of Customer Relationships


Sales funnels are the backbone of your customer relationships, helping you focus on the right customers and honing these relationships for maximum potential.


Offer people value at every stage and customers will put their trust in you with their wallets and their loyalty.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

Lisa 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!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Exert Influence While You're Stuck in the Middle

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


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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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

Does 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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

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

In 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!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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

Ready 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!

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

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!