Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Seven Sizzling Summer Promotions

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


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


But, sometimes the biggest barrier to distributing great products is finding the right idea.


Looking for affordable and effective items to catch the attention of your prospects? Here are seven promo products to bring heat to your marketing mix this summer:


1. Zip-Front Drawstring Bags


Want your brand to travel with people as they go?


High-quality, colorful, customized drawstring bags will get your message circulating! Sturdy but lightweight, these comfortable, machine washable bags are great for goodie bags, thank you gifts, and life on the go.


Zipper pouches make the bags more convenient, accessible, and fun. Add coupons or gift incentives to bring more traffic your way.


2. Clip & Go Hand Sanitizers


Try a squeaky-clean message on promotional hand sanitizer!


Travel-size hand sanitizers can be stashed in totes, diaper bags, backpacks, and purses for a little germ-fighting squirt before meals, after handling animals, or when spending time in public.


Hand sanitizer promotional products are effective message-bearers for restaurants, doctors' offices and health clinics, independent contractors, and more.


3. Customized Lip Balms


From flavorful scents to serious sun protection, promotional lip balm is affordable, enjoyable, and always in style.


Perfect for health professionals, dental promotions, and all of your trade show needs, customized balms can give their lips some serious love.


4. Water Bottles & Tumblers


Promotional water bottles are a smart giveaway item that boosts your branding efforts at racing events, school activities, corporate outings, trade shows, or anywhere thirsty patrons travel.


Choose shapes, sizes, or lid styles from any variety of materials, including stainless steel tumblers, water bags with attachable carabiners, vacuum insulated copper travelers, and so much more.


5. Absorbent Snap Cooling Tool


Lightweight and refreshing, cooling towels bring a consistent cooling effect that lasts for hours.


Wet it, wring it, and snap to activate. Great for the gym, in the field, or on the go, this high-performance product will stand the test of time.


6. Pocket Notebooks


Want to keep your name at their fingertips?


Handy mini-pocket notebooks are sure to stick around. Try eco-friendly custom recycled notebooks, custom debossed mini journals, or jotter pads with attached pens. Make your product useful and your name will be a companion and stays close at hand.


7. Stadium Cushions


Want to switch it up and get more than just your logo noticed?


Stadium cushions offer a soft place to land for customers who will love you immensely when enjoying this gift. From traditional cushions to amusing shapes, stadium cushions make your logo pop against a minimalist background. From law firms and insurance agencies to VIP customer or employee picnic giveaways, this giveaway will be their grab-and-go for outdoor concerts and sporting events of every kind.


Want to know more? We're here to simplify your shopping experience and bring your brand to life! Give us a call at Print It! today to learn more - 864-882-3609.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Keep Things Real with Four Animated Design Tricks

While you may not be able to launch a 3D billboard and party-train campaign, you can to stop traffic with 3D elements and hot design trends from 2019.


Here are four animated styles with practical examples to try in your next printed piece.


Three-Dimensional Designs


3D works seem to be everywhere right now: entire compositions that have so much depth, you can't help but reach out and touch them.


Examples include 3D typography (that works with any kind of font rendering), metallic 3D pipes pulsing with neon electricity, or effervescent 3D poster compositions that jump off the page and make it impossible to look elsewhere.


Asymmetrical Layouts


While rigid designs have been standard for several years, layouts that break free from the predictable grid are now soaring in popularity.


Asymmetrical balance results from using unequal visual weight on each side of your page. For example, one side might contain a dominant element, which is balanced by lesser focal points or light elements on the other.


Asymmetrical balance is more dynamic and interesting. It evokes feelings of modernism, movement, vitality, and curiosity as viewers pause to peruse the design. Box elements within a page, stepped or tabbed layering, or the powerful use of negative space are all strategies for creating products that feel more customized and alive.


Open Compositions


Ready to throw off decaying designs of the past?


For years, illustrators have put frames around design elements, encasing them in boxes, frames, and in strict order. Today, viewers crave open, airy designs which seem to offer only part of the whole picture.


Allow your layouts to embrace white space with elements that feel loosely connected or even chaotic. Play with composition to make each part look like it's continuing off the page to infinity. This allows viewers to engage with your image, using their imagination to wonder what else is out there.


Duotones and Gradients


In the 90s, gradients were a popular way to add color and depth to designs.


They came back in a big way in 2018, enhancing flat designs, adding color overlays to photos, and adding texture to backgrounds of all kinds. Gradients, or "color transitions," are a gradual blending from one color to two or three others, blending similar colors (like different shades of blue) or completing contrasting colors (like purple and red). Gradients can be bold or subtle, modern or rustic, the focal point or the background. They can be used in logos, packaging, business cards, or photo overlays.


Find your favorite color schemes and go to town, because the energy of these stunning color transitions can elevate the vivacity of any design.


It's an exciting time for design, especially when technology continues to allow us to push the limits. Have fun experimenting and make 2019 a year to look your best in print!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Avoid These 3 Management Blunders (with Four Teamwork Tweaks)

Want to liven up your next dinner party?


Just ask people for their "worst boss" stories. Here are some painful (anonymous) stories from those who've lived to share:


"When I was an intern at a PR firm, my manager would make me run her personal errands (pick up dry cleaning, ship things, drive her and her friends to SXSW events, etc.). She would get my attention by calling me 'Intern.' Needless to say, when they asked me to stay on full-time, I politely declined."


"I once had a boss who multi-tasked in meetings by being on her phone and present in the meeting. In both 1:1's and in group settings she would shift her attention constantly from the speaker to her phone—back and forth, back and forth . . . At first, I just thought she was extremely busy, and it was the only way for her to get everything done—until one day, I caught her doing crossword puzzles on her phone while doing a check-in with me."


"I once had a boss who, while I was replying to a question addressed to me by their boss in a meeting, actually put their hand less than an inch in front of my face to silence me so that they could answer instead."


Whether you're the CEO, an intern, or a new manager, working with others is a key part of success in every job. But managing well while empowering others requires a delicate balance.


Beyond learning the names of your interns, here are four tweaks you can make in your leadership.


Listen


Good listening is essential to management, and it begins long before you start a meeting.


Keys to listening well include generating questions in advance, keeping an open mind, and not jumping to conclusions before or during conversations. Don't assume you know what someone is thinking; instead, listen with the intent of understanding before "solving." And give your team conversational breathing room by personally checking in for "no good reason" on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You may be surprised by what they share!


Pair Criticism with Compliments


The Harvard Business Review says a good rule of thumb is to give more praise than criticism, but surveys show that 40% of respondents claim they never gave positive reinforcement.


People need a balance of both praise and criticism in order to thrive. Top performing teams typically give five positive comments for every critique.


Distinguish Between Personal and Organizational Issues


Employees will have challenges, and it's your job to address them.


But workplace problems are typically either personal or organizational and treating them differently can be hugely helpful. Personal problems should be handled with compassion and accountability. But organizational issues may involve hiring, restructuring, or strategic planning. Don't confuse bad attitudes with bad workflow policies!


Finish Meetings with a Question


Want to boost communication in your team?


Conclude every meeting with this question: is there anything else? Whatever is top of mind (concerns, challenges, excitement) will bubble to the surface quickly. This question signals you care and gives people permission to share things that aren't explicitly on the agenda. Try it and see what happens!


From mediating personality clashes to enabling great leaders, your management skills are the key to growing great teams. Keep the conversations flowing as you encourage others, and your business will flourish.

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Successful Coupon Campaigns

Want to get more people to pull the trigger on a purchase?


Give them a push with perfectly placed coupons! Coupons have a built-in visual appeal and an innate call to action. A coupon with a limited time offer adds a sense of urgency in a customer's mind for two reasons:


1. If they plan to buy something, they want the best possible price.


2. If they don't buy now, it might be out of stock (or full price again) later.  


Why should you use coupons? Many reasons!


Coupon offers can make the difference between someone who's browsing and a purchasing customer.


Coupon offers are also a major incentive to drive traffic to your website. Besides stimulating sales of existing stock, coupons also generate cross sales between products and can energize your brand.


Building a successful coupon campaign may take some trial and error. Here are several action steps get you started:


Start Small


The first step in coupon marketing is to track the performance of every campaign you launch.


If you run a small business, start by choosing one product and run 3-4 coupon specials from time to time. Feature the same product but vary the discount types, values, duration, and distribution methods. Experiment to see what works best for your business. From here you can carefully track and implement promotions that are consistent with your budget and are strategically aligned with your marketing strategy.


Set Goals


Set goals with your coupons.


Do you want to entice first-time buyers, increase purchase volumes, or get more traffic in stores? Without a clear strategy, you can't measure your effectiveness or tailor your promotions.


For example: when appealing to new customers, an open return policy can prompt more people to buy. When upselling current clients, offering companion discounts (like buy one, get one 50% off) can be especially tempting. 


Highlight Cross Promotions


Almost every business has a niche, and coupons can help you expand influence in your corner of the market.


For example, camping outfitters that specialize in lightweight tents have customers who need compression sacks to carry them and portable camp chairs to accessorize. Having a coupon combo on all three items may entice shoppers to purchase more than one type of product.


Place Coupons Where Customers Will Find Them


How will you tempt shoppers to purchase: through direct mail, in your newsletter, or with an on-site purchase incentive?


Here are a few strategies for getting coupons in their hands:



  • Offer a $15 onsite coupon if a customer buys at least three products.
    Mail a $5 gift card that can be used if a customer purchases two items this month (spending a minimum of $50).

  • Offer an additional 20% off if a customer buys anything from the same product category within the next two weeks.

  • When a customer purchases an item for the first time, offer a 25% off coupon for those who leave a review or give their personal information. 43% of consumers will exchange their personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts, or deals!

Remember, people buy with their eyes, so your promotion needs to catch attention. Need ideas? Our design specialists can help you generate a coupon that screams "use me!"


Spread the Love


Coupons can help almost every business type and size if you are intentional and consistent.


Coupons are highly visible and shareable, creating urgency and brand awareness. Best of all, everyone loves a deal, so a smart offer can go a long way in creating satisfied customers!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Find Language to Express Your Ideal Design

Design involves a special kind of communication.


First, creators must have an idea or concept in mind. Second, they need to articulate their ideas in ways graphic designers can bring to life on a page. This requires a common language, and sometimes graphic designers are known for having a vocabulary all their own.


If you're working on a design concept, knowing the right terminology will help you communicate to produce the results you envision.


Here are some design adjectives that can help you articulate the concepts you'd like to see in your next print project:


Cool vs. Warm


On the color wheel, warm colors range from yellow to red-purple.


Those colors that are reminiscent of fire or the sun are called warm colors. These hues are reds, oranges, yellows, and pinks. Warm colors communicate energy, playfulness, happiness, sociability, and optimism.


Cool colors include blue, greens, and purple. These colors typically stand for sky, space, water, and nature, and communicate a calming or relaxing tone. Cool colors imply dependability, trust, growth, beauty, confidence, and power.


Minimalist vs. Maximalist


Minimalism is a style or technique that is characterized by cleanness, simplicity, and expressing the most essential ideas.


Minimalist designs use a small number of colors, simple lines, flat designs, or plenty of negative space.


Maximalist or baroque designs are lavish, highly decorative, or triumphant (think ornate wedding invitations). Minimalist designs are sparse and clean, while maximalist designs are exotic or busy.


Feminine vs. Masculine


Feminine designs are usually characterized by details such as soft color palettes, florals, and cursive writing. They may employ fluid, flowing fonts, pastel colors, facial close-ups or silhouettes, or feminine associations such as love, curves, fashion, or beauty.


Masculine designs are typically more rugged, monochromatic, or modern (think IKEA kitchen layouts). They may feature gritty images, thick fonts, hard edges, and darker color schemes.


Playful vs. Professional


Playful design styles are fun, giving an informal (rather than rigid) vibe.


Playful tones may be colorful, fantastical, non-realistic, or cartoon/caricature focused. Often these concepts focus around animals, mascots, illustrations, and impish font pairings.


Professional designs are usually characterized by muted colors and minimal details that represent conservative ideas. Formal tones are communicated with straight, classic font types, simple shapes or objects, minimalist and geometric use of line art, and cool colors (think college diplomas).


Abstract vs. Literal


Abstract designs shape images that are unhindered by what these objects might actually look in real life.


Abstract designs (like this Starbucks water bottle) are imaginative and varied, including ambiguous shapes, contemporary color palettes, curves and splatters, geometric patterns, or blurred images. Abstract art utilizes pure colors, shapes, and forms to express meaning (without getting bogged down in the storylines carried by objects and scenery). Abstract art can touch the emotions in a raw and powerfully direct way.


Literal designs are just the opposite, with concrete, objective ideas. Literal designs use sharp images, bold and simple fonts, and clearly defined limits.


Vintage vs. Modern


Vintage or retro (short for "retrospective") is a style derived from trends of the recent past.


These designs incorporate rustic, nostalgic elements, including visual clues such as old letterpress, hand-drawn typefaces, ornate ribbons, sepia-filtered photos.


Modern designs are just the opposite, often changing in style. In 2019, modern graphic design trends include 3D design and typography, duotones and gradients, warm or moody color palettes for photos, and asymmetrical layouts.


One of the easiest ways to have a better client-designer working relationship is to align your project's design style. Use this guide to get you started as a handy reference to communicate your ideas from start to print!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Three Video Content Tips to Humanize Your Brand

Block that spam.


This describes the attitudes of today's consumers. 80% of consumers say they mistrust half of all advertising, wearied by the half-truths and junk ads assaulting them daily.


Today's marketing, sometimes called "The End of Control," marks a revolt against technology-driven ads and marketing messages. People block them from inboxes, browsers, and social media feeds. They've disconnected landlines and screened robo-calls, rejecting nearly all that's left.


The answer?


Humanized marketing that adds human-to-human (H2H) elements across all touch points a customer has with your business.


People crave inspiring experiences and authentic interactions with others.


You know that establishment in your neighborhood where people greet you by name, know your favorite special, ask about your hobbies, or offer amenities that make your day? That's H2H at its best.


While you can't touch everyone physically, video is one of your next best options. Globally, according to 2018 survey, 54% of consumers say they prefer to see video from a brand or business they support over other types of content. Through video, you can increase H2H contact and continually reimagine your business, demonstrating expertise, and sharing a vision in consistent, personable ways.


Intel harnessed this influence during a five-part "Meet the Makers" series, highlighting relatable stories of people around the world who used Intel products to create amazing experiences and new technology.


In one video, a 13-year-old named Shubham Banerjee shared how he used the technology to prototype and build an affordable braille printer to help blind people learn to read. By exposing viewers to inspirational technology stories, Intel sparked interest in a way product-centric advertising never could.


Want to grow your video presence and put humanized marketing in front of your viewers? YouTube strategist Trena Little has several content tips to help you grow your video niche:


Just Get Started.


Most people think they can't do videos.


Perhaps they think they don't have the right equipment, or don't have a video strategy, "figured out." Little says you don't have to be an expert: "What people really connect with is when someone is just two or three steps ahead of them," she said.


Remember, even when you know a little, it's more than someone who knows next to nothing about a topic. Also, perfect backgrounds or cameras are non-essentials. "Just start posting videos!" Little says. After all, you have to start somewhere to get data to build on.


Mix it Up.


There are three main types of videos you can use: discoverable content (like tutorials and how-to videos), sales videos (featuring products, solutions, or directions to your landing page), and community videos (which connect with your audience even through things that don't directly involve your business.


Remember, your goal isn't primarily to sell products. Your "win" is establishing credibility and building relationships. Check out Android's "Friends Furever" video for inspiration – this was the most shared video ad of 2015!


Hone Your Hook.


People don't want to buy your product; they want to buy your solutions!


And they want to watch stories of people who understand their challenges. Little says it's critically important to start videos strong. If you don't address someone's pain point or drive curiosity in the first 10 seconds, people will move on. Unpredictable story outcomes keep people engaged, as do value pitches and emotional words like "secrets" and "hacks." Content that empowers the consumer is some of the most effective marketing you can generate.


Want to personalize your message and make your brand more human? You don't have to be an expert in video to try combining it with your print marketing strategy. Stretch yourself today and give video content a try!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Effortless: Three Tips to Boost the "Cool" Factor of Your Designs

Fashionable. Admirable. Timeless.


If you were to define cool, what words would you use?


Cool is just . . . cool.


In some sense, even describing what makes something cool can diminish its appeal. But in print and design, nothing is more appealing than cool.


What Makes a Brand Cool?


How do you add this edge to set your products apart?


To find out, marketing scholars Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell carried out six experiments comparing consumer products, coolness ratings, and participant reactions.


In their research, Warren and Campbell discovered a relationship between the qualities of coolness and autonomy, finding designs perceived as cool were those that radiated autonomy in a socially acceptable way. Cool things tend to go a step beyond "stylish" things, so cool designs often push the boundaries of style. Think normative styles like jeans – but add excessive grunge rips. Or ordinary 1950s T-shirts – but add packs of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve.


Coolness is not an inherent quality, but rather a social construct. If coolness comes from stretching limits, one of the keys to cool designs is knowing your niche and understanding what customers perceive to be unconventional. As Warren & Campbell conclude: "objects and people are cool only to the extent that others consider them cool."


Bringing Coolness to Life


Looking to push the boundaries in a way that's meaningful to your customers? Here are three ways to set your designs apart:


1. Define the Gap in Your Market.


Look beyond your design to the people you are designing for.


What brands, social values, or fashion cues motivate them? Look at products your customers typically buy and find the "gap" between current designs and those that are too intense or extreme.


To design in the gap, add a bold twist to the colors, fonts, or ideas that might typically interest them. Wrapping paper company Gift Couture saw a gap in the market for wrapping paper "sets," so they created a series of themed papers that coordinated together, like the Cheeseburger set (bun, meat, lettuce, and tomato wrapping papers) the steak set (raw meat and cutting board style designs), and the pizza set (pizza paper with a coordinating pizza box).


2. Bring Magic to the Mundane.


Cool people or concepts have a flow, grace, or character all their own.


Cool things often appear effortless (though they rarely are), so how do you add this sense of simplicity to your work?


Seek authenticity that focuses more on a core concept or idea than on the perfected final outcome. For a photographer, this might mean focusing on the moment, not the shot. For an advertiser, this might mean expressing character irrespective of the norms, beliefs, or expectations of others. For a designer, this might mean using minimalist designs, stark angles, or unfiltered photos one might generally reject.  


3. Re-purpose the Old.


Sometimes the best designs are a twist on history.


Awaken inspiration for what WILL be cool by looking to what HAS been cool! From refinished wood to vintage art deco backdrops, sometimes the coolest things to come around are those that have been around.


Designs nodding to the past evoke nostalgia and spark a profound emotional response. And cool designs don't just reproduce old styles; they recreate them in arresting new ways.


Find the Sweet Spot


Cool designs understand their consumers' tastes and hit the sweet spot between the ordinary and the unconventional.


From the unique to the unexpected, when you appear effortless, incorporate the past, and design one step beyond the norm, it will give you an edge an set your products apart.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Inspire Consumers Through Action-Oriented Catalogs

In the late '90s, Scott Kerslake was working at an infotech company in California, while passionately surfing and cycling on the side.


During long bike rides with friends, Kerslake noticed a trend: women complaining about a lack of fashionable female sportswear. Women wanted durable athletic wear that also looked cute on everyday outings.


Kerslake didn't hesitate. He quit his job, raised $700,000 in capital, and started a women's athletic clothing company called Athleta. By early 2018, Athleta had been purchased by Gap and its sales grew more than 25 percent every year since 2012.


Athleta attributes this success to a thriving online and catalog-based business model: as early as 2007, Athleta was shipping out 21 million catalogs with $37 million in sales.


Catalogs may seem like an outdated way to grab shoppers, but Athleta has maintained retail footing by using action-packed spreads (ladies trekking up mountains, paddle boarding across bays, and demonstrating impressive flexibility in yoga pants) and by focusing on racial and generational diversity to inspire a wide range of women:


"We're not like, 'Oh, it's all about millennials.' We aren't chasing them," says Nancy Green, Athleta's CEO. "We inspire [women] to keep living this full, healthy, active, rich life, no matter what her body type is, no matter her age."


In the catalogs, this looks like leggings, swimsuits, hoodies, and capri pants. In sales, it looks like $1 billion in annual sales in 2018.


Why Catalogs Still Work


Ready to give catalogs or booklets a second look for your marketing mix?


You should.


Studies from the Data & Marketing Association have shown that the response rate for catalogs has increased in recent years partially because millennials enjoy catalogs:


"Millennials stand out a bit higher than other generations in terms of engaging with mail," said Neil O'Keefe, the association's senior vice president of marketing and content. "It's unique to the generation that hasn't experienced the amount of mail of past generations."


O'Keefe says this curiosity drives a higher level of curiosity and sales than digital marketing.


"Millennials are very engaged by imagery, and the catalog really allows that to stand out. So, the response rate there is very different than what you would experience with a display ad, even an email. The response rate for a printed piece has been on the rise."


Millennials may be particularly interested in catalogs, but they're not alone. Hamilton Davison, president of the American Catalog Mailers Association, said half of all Americans order from catalogs even if they don't immediately flip through them. U.S. Postal Service studies found that, after periodicals and bills, catalogs attract the most eyeballs, getting as much attention as personal correspondence.


"Catalogs come uninvited in the home, and yet they're welcome," Davison said.


To maximize your catalog impact, here are a few tips to consider:


Go Visual


The best catalogs are highly visual.


Environmental photography, imagery of products in real-life settings, and photos of people using your products are the most effective.


Organize for Sales


Place top-selling products on the outside edges of the page as readers typically start at the top right corner and sweep back toward the left.


Cross-sell between products with callouts, copy, or by putting products together on a page with companion discounts.


Simplify Ordering


Catalogs should give several options for purchasing, including toll-free numbers, websites, and even mail-in order forms that make it easier for customers to track preferences as they shop.


Highlight ordering options on every spread and make it easy for your customers to buy.


Catalog shoppers are often more valuable because they become brand enthusiasts that tend to spend more overall. Want to talk options? Give us a call at 864-882-3609 or visit our website at www.PrintitinColor.com to get started!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?


Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.


Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!


1. Take part in local events.


Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.


Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!


2. Create customized stickers or labels.


It's not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!


Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.


3. Start a simple rewards system.


One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offering current customers a loyalty incentive.


If you have repeat customers or need subscription/service renewals to succeed, you can print loyalty punch cards, start a digital point-tracking system, or mail coupons to customers who make a baseline purchase with your business.


4. Offer demonstrations.


Life is more fun when you try new things.


If you wanted to learn yoga, woodworking, or the violin, would you learn by watching or by trying? Participation is an essential way to engage the body, mind, and emotions of your prospects.


Brainstorm ways you can combine learning and doing through presentations. Whether it's giving samples, making online teaching videos, or offering live demonstrations at an industry event, engage your customers by getting them involved.


5. Launch cross promotions.


Is there some way you can build rapport between your business and another firm?


Work with another entrepreneur to offer giveaways, contests, or product discounts. During one holiday, GameStop and PayLess shoes partnered on a cross-promotional campaign. Shoppers at the video game retailer received register coupons for the shoe store, while shoppers at PayLess got discount coupons for GameStop. Because many of their stores are in close proximity, it was a winning strategy for both retailers. Cross promotions can include joint mailings, coupon partnerships, shared booth space, or promoting each other through social media. 


6. Spread the word.


Got flyers? Door hangers and sell sheets? Looking to share the love? Go classic and canvas your area.


Pound the pavement and leave your print materials on porches, doorknobs, windows, cars, and more. Leave your business cards on restaurant tables, at coffee shops, in libraries, or even on mirrors. If you're feeling brave, do some cold calling after you canvas and ask if you can share some follow up info.


7. Perfect your pitch.


What do you sell? What problem can you solve? If you can't explain yourself in a single sentence, then you have a problem.


Like a great campaign slogan, an elevator pitch should summarize your business, product, or service in a concise, convincing fashion. YOU are your best advertisement, so have a short, convincing statement ready to introduce your business to new customers or colleagues any moment the opportunity is at hand!


A Building Block for the Future


Most of these tactics are inexpensive, but they do take time and effort.


Remember, results won't come immediately, but boosting your name now can increase your revenue and enable you to cast a larger net in the future. Give us a call at 864-882-3609 or visit our website at www.PrintitinColor.com to chat about affordable printed resources you can add to your offline marketing arsenal today.  

Friday, May 17, 2019

5 Customer Service Phrases to Avoid (and What to Say Instead)

In May of 2018, Barbara Carroll ordered three cartons of toilet paper from Amazon. The order total: $88.17. The shipping charges? $7,455.


Carroll wasn't overly concerned, as Amazon typically takes great care of its customers. But in this case, Carroll complained to Amazon six times and even wrote a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos. After every complaint, she received a form letter explaining a refund was impossible because the delivery arrived on time and undamaged. It wasn't until Carroll notified a local television station (and the story went viral) that Amazon took action. Months later, she was finally reimbursed.


While this case is extreme, every company has its share of customer service flops. In some situations, the problem is no communication. In other cases, it's inconsiderate attitudes.


Want to steer your team toward positivity? Here are five customer services phrases to avoid.


1. "No" (or) "I can't help you with that."


Even if a customer makes an impossible request, it's your responsibility to care for them and to steer them toward a solution.


Alternatives to try:


"This feels like an issue which might be out of my control, but let me double check . . ."


"That's not my area of expertise, but I want to connect you with someone who can help."


2. "I don't know" (or) "You need to check with someone else."


If you can't solve a problem, be as helpful as possible. Rather than abandoning someone mid-stream, work with them to find an answer.


Alternatives to try:


"I don't know, but I'll find out."


"I'm not sure, but I'd be happy to look into that."


3. "Ok, calm down."


When diffusing a tense situation, telling someone to calm down usually frustrates them more. Instead, communicate empathy and turn the focus from the problem to the solution.


Alternatives to try:


"I understand how this must have upset you, and I'll get on it immediately."


"That would frustrate me too."


"I'm sorry for this inconvenience. Let me help you with that right away."


4. "I don't understand the issue."


People who are upset find uncertainty even more frustrating. If you're struggling to connect, clarify the issue or soften your request.


Alternatives to try:


"OK, so let me clarify…"


"What I'm hearing is [ISSUE], is that correct?


"If it's not too much of a problem, I would ask you to be a bit more specific…"


5. "I'm going to put you on hold."


Time is valuable, so don't assume you can extend a service call without asking permission. If you do have someone hold, check back with a status update if they've waited longer than two minutes.


Alternatives to try:


"I understand your issue and if it's ok, I'm going to ask you to hold on while I check on a solution."


"The problem you're describing is rather peculiar, so if you have a minute, I'd like to put you on hold while I check with my supervisor."


"I'll get right on it. If it's ok, I'd like to look into this today and call back to you once I resolve this."


Ultimately, customer service is not about the right words but the right attitudes. Remember, the biggest customer service frustration question is "why isn't this as important to you as it is to me?" As you handle issues, address the person behind the problem. Communicate with compassion, empathy, and enthusiasm, and you will find your way through many sticky situations.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

3 Reasons Direct Mail is Still Effective

Long before television and online marketing, direct mail ruled.


One of the most popular examples of direct mailing can be traced back to Sears in 1888. The company sent a printed mailer to potential customers advertising watches and jewelry. Not long after, the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog became extremely popular nationwide.


Today direct mail has received a bit of a bad rap. The term "junk mail" isn't exactly a compliment! Some refer to direct mail as an "old" form of advertising, thinking of direct mail as antiquated or off-target.


But is that really the case?


The fact is, many companies do use direct marketing. According to a 2015 study by the Data & Marketing Association, 57 percent of total mail volume was comprised of direct mail pieces.


Response to direct mail continues to be strong every year, generating leads for businesses across a range of industries. Consider customer response rates from these common marketing methods:


  • 0.9% -- Online Displays

  • 0.6% -- Social Media

  • 0.5% -- Paid Search

  • 0.45% -- E-mail Marketing

  • 6.0% -- Direct Mail to Household

Why is Direct Mail Effective?


Direct mail is easy.


Direct mail marketing is helpful because it's easy to process.


In an age of digital noise, the tactile presence of a physical mailing is refreshing! One study found it takes 21% less cognitive effort to process physical mail, so your audience can digest it quickly and easily.


Direct mail is interesting.


The USPS found that 47% of Millennials check their physical mailbox each day, and many consider perusing mail a leisurely activity.


According to the Data & Marketing Association and the USPS, 18-21 year-olds' response rates to direct mail are as high as 12.4%. If you have a new business or are willing to offer coupon discounts, millennials are quite likely to respond!


Direct mail is memorable.


People who spend time with physical ads have a stronger emotional response and a better memory of this material.


Of course, a clever message goes a long way too! If you send direct mail, do your best to create colorful, memorable messages, like this:


IKEA wanted to feature the simplicity of its inexpensive furniture so they engineered a 3D postcard. When customers "opened" the postcard, this flat mailing turned into a replica of the LACK side table, available for under $10 at IKEA.


The postcard perfectly demonstrated one of IKEA's clever design concepts – minimalist furniture that ships flat but pops to life upon arrival. IKEA's postcard allowed users to experience the simple assembly of the LACK table, which left a deep, memorable impression.


Go Face-to-Face Through Distinct Direct Mail


Whether you send mass e-mails, many people will toss your message without reading it.


But if you send direct mail, some will offer you one-on-one attention they wouldn't give to any other medium. Paul Entin, owner of New York City-based EPR marketing, said he uses direct mail because it stands tall in a digital generation:


"Except for the many catalogs that clog our mailboxes between Halloween and Christmas, most of us receive very little snail mail, certainly far less than in years past," Entin said. "This means your direct mailer has a far greater chance to stand out from the rest of the mail and get noticed."


If you need help creating the perfect direct mail piece that will stand out, we can help you every step of the way.  Give us a call at 864-882-3609!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Test Your Brand Messages to Maximize Impact

Donald Miller is an author, speaker, and CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps businesses clarify their message.


StoryBrand helps hundreds of brands to eliminate confusion, connect with customers, and grow sales. Miller says many brands struggle to break through because they don't test their brand messages before sharing:


"We have a mantra at StoryBrand: If you confuse, you lose," said Miller. "The answer to confusion is always 'no'. When people are so close to what they offer, they tend to be either really vague or they speak inside language. I'm amazed."


"I'll actually say to somebody, 'Do you think on a scale of 1-10 that your message is really clear, from 1-10 with ten being clear?' They will say they are a 10. I will tell them to come up in front of the group [and] ask them to tell me what they offer. They will say, 'Nutritional packages that allow equestrian products to flourish.'"


Clear as mud, right? Miller says professionals often fail to use simple phrases people can easily understand:


"Here's the thing, test it at Starbucks. You're standing in line . . . there are strangers all around. Say, 'I'm so sorry to bother you, but I'm actually starting a business. Can I tell you what I offer and then ask you if you understand?'"


Does Your Message Resonate?


Companies allocate enormous resources to hone their message.


A brand message, communicated to your target audience, describes what you do, the value you bring, or how you're different. Your brand message should resonate with the needs, wants, or luxuries of your niche, sometimes with simple slogans like these:


     Eat Fresh.


     Designed for Driving Pleasure.


     Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.


Strong brand messages are memorable, stir an emotional response, and distinguish a brand from its competitors. But when companies hone their identity, they sometimes miss a key element: relevance to their customers. What's important to your company may not be the thing that matters to your customers. Consider these questions to clarify:



  • Why does my brand matter? Why does it matter to our customers?

  • What does our brand stand for? How will this affect our customers?

  • How are we different than competitors? Why does this matter to our customers?

When you don't speak to customers on their terms, you are probably falling short. Be clear on what your customers care about and how you can address their situation. Use language that is authentic and messages that align with your clients' desires or purchasing plans.


Also, consider testing brand messages before publicizing them. This doesn't have to be complicated. Start by simply reading your copy out loud to yourself. Does it sound conversational and real? Then test it out on others. Poll your friends and family, create anonymous surveys for staff and clients, run focus groups with target audience members, or do a website trial with a third-party testing tool. As you move forward, consider logging the impact of:


   Product descriptions


   E-mail subject lines


   Print ads, graphics, or layout options


   Call to action statements


   Packaging colors or logo designs


   Slogans/taglines


   Online landing pages


   Advertising campaign concepts


   Time or location an ad is presented


While testing takes work, business leaders agree it is worth the effort: 72% of advertising professionals said it's important to test an ad before it's launched, and 85% of product-focused managers said testing is vital to their success at work. Testing content can sharpen your focus, make your message more relevant, and boost the response to your marketing pieces.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Drive Fresh Traffic for Your Business

A new era in business is bringing fresh flavor to Kohl's.


As traditional retailers struggle to keep their doors open, Kohl's executives are trying something radically different: a grocery partnership with Aldi. In March of 2018, the department store announced it would team up with Aldi to offer grocery sales in 10 of its locations.


"The key priority we have as a company is to drive traffic," Kevin Mansell, the chief executive of Kohl's said in a Thursday earnings call. "We're focused on traffic-driving retailers: Groceries, supermarket chains, they drive a lot of traffic. We're finally on a path where we're getting more [shoppers]."


In an age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar businesses have to hustle to make their company more relevant to consumers. Kohl's has experimented with lighter inventory, smaller stores, and more streamlined partnerships with companies like Under Armour and Amazon. Other retail giants have focused on adding communal spaces, demonstration areas, and workshops to encourage shoppers to linger.


Feed Your Funnel with New Customers


Ultimately, every successful business has to draw new business and keep customers coming back.


In your niche, there are probably several complementary businesses that don't compete directly with your product or service. Many of these companies have a base that could easily feed your sales funnel.


What are the mutually beneficial relationships you could build with other businesses?


While Aldi and Kohl's may seem like an unlikely match, their differences balance each other in a unique way, allowing Kohl's to gain additional foot traffic and offering Aldi to expand their market reach. For Aldi, renting space within Kohl's stores is cheaper than building stand-alone stores, and the partnership creates exposure for the lesser known German grocery chain.


As you consider new partnerships, it's also healthy to keep an eye on the competition, because an ideal way to grow your client base is to capture users who are already in need of services like yours! Examine the market tactics of businesses you compete with. What product are they offering? What are they doing that their customers like or dislike? How could you do it in a better, more personalized way?


Actively monitor what your competitors are doing in web design, service packages, or marketing techniques to feed your creativity or to counter punch with your own sales strategies. Looking to woo some of your competitor's customers? Tools like Mention or Reddit can help you monitor customer sentiment. Online reviews of your competitors are also a great place to see how your rivals are succeeding or where you can do better.


Position Yourself as the Answer


Whether you're wooing new customers or generating leads, it's important to give potential clients a good reason to try your services.


Think about what makes your ideal customer happy, sad, scared, or excited, and position yourself to bring the answers they need. "Identify those places where they are likely to be found (media, online, offline, mail, etc.) and then create messages for them," says Jeff Motter, CEO and chief marketing officer of Easy Bay Marketing Group. This may mean creating content via webinars or printed newsletters or physically networking through community events or industry conferences.


And don't forget to close the loop.


After your efforts to bring in business, remember to intentionally follow up with calls, e-mails, or samples. Many prospects and great conversations fall by the wayside because you fail to execute after a lead shows interest. As real estate sales guru Michelle Moore says, "Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

How to Use Silence to Strengthen Your Leadership Presence

Jack Reacher is a fictional character in a series of crime thriller novels by British author Lee Child.


In the 1997 novel Killing Floor, Reacher randomly exits a Greyhound bus in Georgia and is later arrested in a local diner for a murder he did not commit. While questioned in custody, Reacher wields the power of silence to maintain his personal advantage:


"Long experience had taught me that absolute silence is the best way. Say something, and it can be misheard. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. It can get you convicted. It can get you killed. Silence upsets the arresting officer. He has to tell you silence is your right but he hates it if you exercise that right. I was being arrested for murder. But I said nothing."


Communicate Authority with Silence


Silence holds immense power, especially in situations that involve negotiation.


As inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence." Dynamic leaders often use silence to their benefit. When handled with intention and purpose, silence is what some leaders call "a communication superpower."


Do you tend to interrupt, dominate conversations, or explain your perspective from multiple angles in order to sway opinion? If silence is an overlooked resource in your communication toolkit, you might need to change strategies.


Silence can increase your authority and grow your influence in at least four powerful ways.


Silence Builds Trust


According to best-selling author Bryant H. McGill, "one of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say."


If you want to develop effective relationships, you must build trust. And trust begins with listening. Unfortunately, most people don't listen with the intent to hear, they listen with the intent to reply. When people realize you are truly listening to them, they are much more likely to buy into your ideas.


Silence Can Emphasize Your Point


When you have something important to say, state it briefly and allow a long pause for your words to sink in.


Communication is more than the words we speak, it involves the energy we transmit. When you give room for a lengthy pause, you show people you aren't scrambling to convince them. And as your words fully land with others, you don't need to talk as much because silence creates room for people to understand and connect to what you are saying.


Silence Communicates Credibility


Have you ever sat through a meeting where several people squabbled while one person stayed silent?


Eventually, everyone felt tension and curiosity about what the quiet party was thinking. When a silent observer finally interjects an opinion, it speaks louder than the clamor and carries a more memorable quality. "She is so wise," people think, because sometimes there is a credibility that can only be communicated through silence.


Also, it never hurts to take a lengthy period of time to think before commenting. Abraham Lincoln has been credited with this quote: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."


Silence Increases Negotiating Power


A primary negotiation tactic involves asking a question and letting the other person answer first.


Silence when negotiating can give you the advantage because its "deafening" weight can prompt others to speak first. For example, when the other party offers a salary figure or point of compromise, don't answer immediately. Instead, pause and let the discomfort of silence flush out a bit more detail. Maybe they will offer more or show their own hand.


Leaders know how to use silence as a tactic to communicate authority and influence. Experiment with silence during your conversations and observe the impact it can make.

Friday, April 19, 2019

7 Banner Options to Raise Your Bottom Line

As a small business owner, you need ways to grab attention and look your best, and business signage is your foremost advertising tool.


For high-traffic areas custom printed vinyl banners are an excellent investment. In terms of cost, a vinyl banner is one of the most inexpensive, most high-impact marketing tools.


Vinyl banners are also versatile, great for large exteriors, point-of-sale kiosks, welcome centers, or interior displays.


Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business' profits. Pole banners can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.


Banner Inspiration


Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Here are several types of banners that can give you a killer first impression.


Ceiling Banners


Get your customers looking up by taking advantage of your unused ceiling space!


Use ceiling banners for event signage, special events, product features, or welcome messages. Suspended banners or circular hanging signs are eye-catching, easy to install, and extremely impressive.


Personalized Retractable Banners


Great for special events or pop-up displays, roll-up retractable banners include accompanying stand and carrying case for mobility.


Economical retractable banners are sleek, lightweight, and easy to transport.


Seasonal Business Banners


A fresh look conveys momentum and energy.


Print seasonal business banners to spice up any seasonal promotion, window display, or an exterior signpost.


Feather Flags


Want to get the job done with a contemporary edge?


Feather or teardrop flags are especially effective when you have limited space or want to enhance your exterior advertising.


The average storefront sign is seen 50-60 times per month by anyone living within five miles of your location. This could be responsible for as much as 85% of your monthly walk-in sales!


For street and sidewalk advertising, festivals, trade shows, and more, feather flags or waving swooper flags will catch attention and make your message shine.


Text or Graphic Only Banners


Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most effective, especially when you want to send a straightforward message that can be understood at a glance.


Try monochromatic backgrounds, all caps letters, or sharp contrasts between the images and elements in your banner.


Welcome Banners


Whether it's a grand opening, a sidewalk greeting, or a hallway banner, welcome banners are an appealing option to add a professional, hospitable touch.


Bright colors and branded designs are ideal for putting your best foot forward.


Sale Banners


When surveyed, 50% of in-store shoppers named "on-premise signage" as the reason for their visit or purchase.


People are always hunting for a deal, so shout it loud with banners that can't be overlooked.


Want to stretch your budget? Print generic banners (think "20% Off," "Free Shipping," "Featured Item," or "New Collection Clearance") so you can use them repeatedly. 


Banners can attract attention, create brand association, and set the tone for your business. Capitalize on this simple marketing tool and let us help you accelerate your sales today!  Give us a call at Print It! at 864-882-3609 to get started.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Increase Conversions with Great Closing Techniques

The most expensive deal in baseball history was finalized this February in a casino.


The Phillies pursued outfielder Bryce Harper for months, introducing him to some of Philadelphia's finest, sweet talking him in the high-backed gold leather booths of the ARIA resort in Las Vegas, and ultimately offering him the most expensive deal in baseball history ($330 million over 13 years).


At age 26, Harper signed the longest contract in baseball history. In a casino that radiates the fragrance of mid-century Hollywood, the showmanship of the atmosphere embodied the glamour of the agreement. It was an epic conversion.


Just Sign on the Dotted Line


Sale-closing conversations can be nerve-wracking and nuanced.


No matter how impressed people seem during your presentation, there's no telling whether they will postpone or look elsewhere. After wooing your customer, it's time to take the plunge and ask for a commitment.


Here are a few keys to make this step easier.


Identify the Decision Maker


To close a deal, be sure you're actually talking to the person in the driver's seat.


In some cases, supervisors send scouts in to assess the options, but they do not have decision-making authority. In this case, be sure to customize your pitch to the decision maker or do whatever you can to arrange a meeting or phone call with this individual.


Offer a Solution


Sales can seem pushy if they center around your product or package.


When working with a prospect, do your best to provide a holistic solution that meets their business needs. If a consulting relationship would be better than a particular product, consider how you can flex options or offer a better fit.


Solutions-focused conversations include re-stating customer concerns, asking clarifying questions, overcoming stated objections, or possibly returning later with more information.


Be genuine and assure clients that you care about their business (and not just the sale).


Attach a Deadline


No decision is, in itself, a decision.


It's human nature to shy away from commitment, and your job is to help people overcome this inertia. Offer incentives to commit: a discount, a free add-on, or a trial subscription to start.


Incentives give your prospects a reason to make the decision NOW, giving them confidence that they have the upper hand in negotiation.


Ask for Next Steps


After any customer call or completed action item, ask your prospect how they would like to proceed.


If they are uncertain, make suggestions or ask pointed, closing questions.


Here are some options to get you started:


  • Why don't you give us a try?

  • Ready to move forward?

  • Why don't I send over the proposal now?

  • It seems like this is a good fit for your company. What do you think?

  • If we throw in ____, will you sign the contract today?

  • If we could find a way to deal with _____, would you sign the contract by ________?

  • You're interested in X and Y options, right? If we get started today, you'll be up and running by ___.

  • Unless you have any other questions, I think we're ready to move forward!

  • When should we begin your _________?

  • What are your next steps?

  • Why don't I leave you with ____ and follow up ______?

Being a courageous, tactful closer is one of the most important techniques you can master.


Use incentives, closing questions, and solutions-based options to move your prospects to action. Superior networking tools will only strengthen your ask, so visit with us today about printed pieces that can help you seal the deal!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Four Ways to Disagree with Tact

Life is compromise.


If you want to work successfully in teams, at some point you will face conflict. In one instance, you may be the manager correcting a team member. In other cases, you may need to "lead up" by disagreeing with a superior.


Either way, successful communication includes the ability to navigate conflict while putting people before the problem.


Here are four ways to prioritize relationship while politely disagreeing.


1. Don't Blurt


When you hear an incorrect statement, do you immediately or forcefully disagree?


How's that working for you?


Before you speak, consider how important it is to voice your opinion. Weigh the risks of speaking out versus the risks of staying silent. If you feel compelled to share, consider when and where is best. What context would be most appropriate or what channel would provide the least threatening avenue for your listener? Discussing issues privately (face-to-face) is ideal for minimizing tension or preserving dignity.


2. Prepare Your Listener


Sometimes the best way to dissent is by prefacing your idea.


Ask permission to comment by saying something like this: "I'm not sure I share your opinion, may I make a comment?" Or, "I know the deadline is pressing, but I'm concerned about this approach. Can I run some thoughts by you?"


Giving people a chance to "opt-in" will increase their willingness to listen.


3. Keep Language Neutral


As you unwrap your idea, alleviate tension by keeping your tone steady and your language neutral.


Start by identifying a common goal and frame your opinion as one way the team can work together for a higher purpose.


Holly Weeks, author of Failure to Communicate, says contextualizing your statements will allow the discussion to become "more like a chess game than a boxing match."


If you need to critique another idea, re-articulate that concept first and build comments from there. This will eliminate confusion and show a good faith effort to understand others.


When you disagree directly, make your focus the problem or flaw at hand, not the people or personalities behind them.


4. Be Humble


No one appreciates prideful people.


When you speak, do your best to be relatable and kind. Emphasize that you are sharing an opinion and leave room for dialogue. This may include phrases like, "I'm just thinking out loud here," or "this is just my opinion, but . . ."


Polite, clarifying questions may also help. Say, "can you tell me more about ____," or "can you define what you mean by ____, because maybe I'm defining that differently?"


Speak humbly by inviting the critique of others and by publicly respecting their opinions.


Still struggling for words? Business Management Daily offers several prompts to open the door:


  • "I see what you're saying but…"

  • "May I make a comment?"

  • "I'm sorry but I disagree with you about this."

  • "Tell me if I'm off-base here, but…"

  • "I understand where you're coming from, but…"

  • "That's a valid point, but…"

  • "I don't think I share your opinion."

  • "If I'm not mistaken..."

Agree to Disagree


Finally, there may be times it's best to agree to disagree.


It's ok to break a stalemate by acknowledging that you will never agree about an idea. By doing this you can affirm the person (or their authority) without selling out to their idea or opinion.


Everyone gets things wrong sometimes, and if you're committed a relationship, you'll give people more grace to experiment or to grow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Use Short Deadlines to Get Lasting Results

In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, scholars found that longer deadlines can be a detriment to workers.


The study asked volunteers at a local community center to answer a short survey about retirement planning. One group was given seven days to access the online survey, while another group had 14 days to respond. Results showed that, though the 14-day group gave more thoughtful responses, they were more likely to procrastinate or skip the assignment.


A second study revealed longer deadlines affected outcomes on tax filings. In this research, a short deadline group received their "lost" W-2 tax form later (closer to the filing deadline) and had less time to complete their taxes. Despite the setback, the short-deadline group spent less money than their peers to get the same job done via tax professionals or self-help software.


Beat Those "Last Mile" Blues


Do you struggle to take projects across the finish line in an efficient manner?


There's a reason! Parkinson's law states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."


Longer deadlines lead people to set easier goals and decrease effort, costing more time and stress overall. Researchers also found that longer deadlines sometimes make workers think an assignment is harder than it is. When people commit more resources to a difficult task, they procrastinate and are more prone to quit.


For managers and workers alike, it is important to set achievable goals and appropriate time limits using four simple strategies.


Think Small


Procrastinators who avoid finishing struggle to break projects into manageable tasks.


To overcome this barrier, psychology professor Joseph Ferrari (author of Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done) recommends a narrow focus. "People who have trouble finishing a project don't have problems seeing the big picture," Ferrari said. "It's how to break it into manageable tasks that can be paralyzing. Just do something now. Start something and get going."


Starting small breaks your fear of failure and shortcuts perfectionistic hang-ups.


Stay Disciplined


Sometimes when the finish line is in sight people accelerate the pace but lose focus.


Discipline slips, which can lead to delays. Overriding budgetary constraints, ignoring quality control checks, or fast-tracking publications can bring painful consequences. Instead, stay on track with small deadlines to ensure work on larger projects is done in a timely, precise manner.  


Call in the Closers


Burnout and fatigue are genuine risks near the end of a project, and high-value contributors are often needed to airlift the next big project.


Consider deliberately structuring your team so starters take a project to 90 percent, while fresh eyes step in for the final spit-and-polish.


Use Incentives


When deadlines are distant, shift attention to everyday outcomes.


"Can you get that to me by the end of the day?" isn't a request many people like to hear. But quick turnarounds can actually boost morale because lethargy breeds inertia but accomplishment spurs accomplishment.


From cash incentives to extra work-day coffee breaks, consider attaching small perks to fast-action deadlines. Self-starter rewards can work for yourself too. When writing her thesis, one grad student filled a glass jar with tantalizing chocolates. Throughout a year of writing, she rewarded herself with one truffle per week as she stayed on schedule. Progress was visible, and the rewards were sweet. When the jar was empty, the project was done!


Short turnarounds on urgent tasks elicit attention and improve outcomes. Whether you're managing yourself or others, consider adding incentives, bringing in closers, or breaking large projects into daily deadlines to achieve better results.

Friday, April 5, 2019

5 Elements of Stunning Letterhead Design

Personalized mail is a special commodity these days, especially something that looks smart or sophisticated.


And everyone agrees that there's a huge difference between a typed letter on a bland white page and one aligned smartly on a beautifully designed letterhead.


While many view letterhead as an afterthought, it's time to raise the standard!


A sharp letterhead can communicate proficiency, increase response rates, and make your communication more memorable. As you craft a unique, professional look, here are some elements to help you cement your image without overplaying your hand:


1. Embrace Simplicity


One of the guiding principles of letterhead design is to make it flow simply.


While it's important that your letterhead looks and feels great in the hand, it should still play second fiddle to the communication itself. If designs are too bold, you run the risk of competing with the page content to demand reader attention. When in doubt, simple is best.


2. Represent Your Brand


Letterheads present companies with a great opportunity to represent a brand with sharp fonts, crisp logos, and subtle borders or shading.


Look for ways to draw the designs of your website, envelopes, and letterhead into a more cohesive unit and add some extra depth to your marketing mix. When trying out size contrasts, try to balance the shape of your images with the offset to create a connected design.


3. Don't Be Afraid of White Space


Like silence between musical notes, a break between elements communicates elegance and ensures a quality user experience.


White space is not "wasted" space, instead, it balances elements, organizes content, and creates spatial proximity so your readers can digest information quickly and simply. Use generous amounts of white space between a large heading and a block of subtext. Or experiment all text flush left or flush right to create more white space between margins.


4. Use Colors Wisely


On printed letterhead, nothing communicates like color.


Use color strategically to draw attention to specific areas of your letterhead, or to add subtle shading to a more grayscale design. If your brand features bright and bold colors, it may be best to use color sparingly in the letterhead but more prominently in your envelope design or packaging. Color can make or break the success of your design, so tread lightly.


5. Don't Overlook Details


The most critical information to communicate in letterhead is your contact info.


Who is writing the letter, a company or an individual? Decide which pieces of information are critical and build your design around this hierarchy. Keep key information obvious and reduce print size for lower priority info. If you are updating designs or re-ordering, take a fresh look at your materials. If the company you are sending to no longer utilizes a fax machine, perhaps it is best to omit this number. If your organization is larger, consider tailoring several letterhead designs to specific departments.


Letterheads remain an integral part of a brand's marketing mix. Inject new energy into your designs with thoughtful layouts, creative contrasts, or complementary envelopes that keep your messages stand out in a crowd! If you need help with a redesign of your letterhead - give us a call at Print It! 864-882-3609.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

3 Simple Resets to Squash Stress at Work

32-year-old Amy Alabaster had recently been named VP in her company as a successful New York sales executive.


She had friends, a wonderful marriage, and many professional accomplishments. But one day, the weight of her responsibilities came roaring in as she awoke on a bench outside a West Village restaurant.


Alabaster later learned that she had fainted on a flight of stairs and her blood pressure was so low EMTs could hardly move her. Though she considered herself happy and healthy, doctors uncovered her problem with one simple question: "Would you say that you deal with a lot of stress?" Amy said this unraveled the real issue:


"I had never been asked this question before. Like so many other companies, mine had downsized after the economic pitfalls of 2008 and I had absorbed many responsibilities after the layoffs. I thought incessantly about work. I talked about it all the time. I couldn't turn off, ever. I checked emails and my blackberry constantly. I even dreamed about work, sometimes confusing what was real and what had manifested in my slumber. The last vacation I had taken was stressful because I was so uncomfortable with what could be happening without my oversight and control . . . My doctor said that almost every health-related issue could inevitably be drawn back to stress."


How to Self-Regulate When Your Tank is Low


What about you?


Does your job cause low-grade stress that never quits? While many people enjoy their jobs, all of us can benefit from a daily internal inventory. When you are running on empty, medical experts offer several tips to self-regulate.


Reset Yourself Internally


Intermittently, close your eyes, lean back, and take three full, deep breaths.


When you feel stressed, force yourself to speak more slowly. This will clear your thoughts and allow you to act more reasonably in challenging situations. When you find something upsetting you, make a tangible choice to let it go. Refuse to show emotion and quickly unclench your teeth (or fists!) and move on. Effective anger management is a tried and true stress reducer!


Reset Yourself Physically


When we get busy, we forget ourselves.


Make it a priority to drink plenty of water, to move around, or to eat small snacks during the day. Take short walks outside or do a few jumping jacks or stairs. Continually adjust your posture to avoid muscle tension or a slumped emotional state. Try these exercises:



  • Shoulder Rolls. With arms hanging freely, breathe deeply and exaggerate rolling both shoulders forward then backward 10 times.

  • Chin Tucks: Place one hand on your chin and the other behind your head, gently pushing your chin toward your Adam's apple for 10 seconds to relieve tension at the base of your skull.

  • Pectoralis Stretches: Clasp hands behind your back and lift up as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold ten seconds and repeat three times. This is especially effective for those hunched over a keyboard.

Reward Yourself Regularly


Plan something enjoyable for the end of the day and build key relationships or hobbies into your routine.


Leave a few chores undone and care for yourself! This will refresh your body and sharpen your mind for creative solutions tomorrow. Alabaster says she now prioritizes eight hours of sleep each night, locks her phone in the safe during vacation, and she finds small ways to increase joy each week:


"Professional achievements still mean a lot to me. Success, however, is in the process of being re-defined. Prioritizing my well-being is the lesson I'll be learning for the rest of my life. After all, what is success worth if we're not fully present to enjoy it?"

Friday, March 29, 2019

Small Business Twitter Tips for 2019

If you're a small business owner, you know time is limited.


Usually, your task list far outweighs your capacity for meeting your goals. When identifying social media objectives, you have to be clear on the what, why, and where you will engage.


How Can Twitter be a Valuable Resource for You?


Stats show that Twitter is still an effective way to connect with a broad range of customers.


Forty-seven percent of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit that company's website, and 75% of companies with an online presence are now using Twitter for marketing. Twitter's own study found that Twitter users, compared to the general online population, were more likely to discover or try new things and were more receptive of change. Twitter can help you reach broader audiences and engage with a generation that values interaction and experience.


As you evaluate your Twitter marketing in 2019, be clear about your goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Offer customer support or increase online sales? Also, evaluate what kind of Twitter voice you want to have. Some Twitter accounts exist to respond to customer complaints while others seek a playful or promotional tone. Find a persona and stick with it to build trust and continuity with readers.


Twitter Metrics That Matter


Next, take a peek at these performance metrics as you consider how to engage:


Post Native Media


Twitter favors posts that are uploaded to its own platform more than sharing from another platform, so it's always better to upload something directly.


Uploaded photos and videos will receive a larger preview treatment than external links.


Use Video Frequently


Video Tweets are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos and three times more likely to be Retweeted than GIFs.


Studies found that regardless of length, in-feed video ads were effective in introducing products, creating buzz, or communicating a brand message.


Get Eyes on You


Want people to Tweet more about your brand or product?


Add a branded generic business hashtag to your bio and share it in all your print and digital marketing. Pin upcoming events to the top of your page, tag other businesses or customers when you post, or consider giving people discounts when they make a reservation or win a special trivia challenge through your feed.


Play With Words


Part of Twitter's appeal is that it's short and sweet.


Marketing hashtags are a punchy way to launch a campaign or to connect all other Tweets about your company or product (classics include #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin or the #WantAnR8" driving surprise days by Audi).


Hashtags give your Tweets context and give conversations longevity and momentum. Hashtags aren't case sensitive, but adding capital letters can make them easier to read, like "GoForGold" versus "goforgold." Short, distinct hashtags are more likely to get used. During recruitment season, colleges on Twitter may use the hashtag "#NSD2019" instead of this, "#NationalSigningDay2019."


Refresh and Repeat


Many users are on Twitter for quick bursts of time so even daily posts can be missed.


Don't be afraid to resource your material and Retweet the same material several times. You can change photos, captions, or the featured media but attach the same content several times over the course of your marketing schedule.


As you grow on Twitter, be sure to listen! Twitter offers a great platform to hear what customers are saying, to keep a pulse on industry opinion, or to network with other businesses. Some of these people may end up being your most valued customers or your next project partner!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

Ever feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? "It's impossible," you say. "I just don't have an eye for design."


There's hope for even you!


In today's generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you're creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.


1) Proximity


The main purpose of proximity is to organize.


When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.


When you're thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relationship, so items not related to each other should be spaced apart, while elements you want to connect should be grouped.


Don't be afraid of white space! Sprawling elements throughout a page to avoid white space will make a piece more visually challenging for your viewer to comprehend.


What to Avoid: Too many separate elements on a page, grouping unrelated items in proximity, sticking things in the corners or the middle to avoid empty space.


2) Contrast


Contrast is one of the best ways to add visual interest in your page.


Contrast excites the atmosphere, draws the eye, and clarifies communication. Contrast is nothing if not bold, so one goal of contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If fonts, colors, or outline borders are not the same, then make them extremely different: white on black, 24-point font above 12-point font, or neon shapes near pastel text boxes.


What to Avoid: Being wimpy, using similar typefaces, highlighting a non-focal element, creating unnecessary chaos on a page. 


3) Alignment


Alignment unifies a page and creates flow and personality.


Nothing should be placed on your page haphazardly. Every element you use should connect with other elements to create a clean, sophisticated look.  When items are aligned, the result is a stronger cohesive unit. Be conscious of where you place elements and align pieces in a page even when the two objects are physically far apart (like a top headline with the bottom footnote).


What to Avoid: Using multiple alignment styles (i.e. some center, others left) on one page or always defaulting to centered alignment.


4) Repetition


Repeating visual elements of design throughout a piece will bring consistency and strengthen the unity of your projects.


Repetition can be used with colors, fonts, bullets, graphics, borders, subheadings elements, or anything a reader will visually recognize. Repetition is a conscious effort to unify all parts of a design: elements repeating through various pages, colors displaying patterns, drop caps in lead paragraphs or sidebars in successive layouts.


What to Avoid: Making repetitive elements too subtle or infrequent, being haphazard rather than intentional, or repeating an element so often it breaks the flow or the document as a whole.


While design may not come naturally to you, everyone has room to grow. By using these four principles, your work will look more professional, unified, and interesting. And you will have more fun creating!