Friday, December 6, 2019

Tips to Make Your Brand More Memorable

Just Do It.


Think Different.


Have You Had Your Break Today?


You Can’t Beat the Real Thing.


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


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


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


Increase the “Stickiness” of Your Brand


Use Humor


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


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


Release Personalized Content


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


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


Create Interactive Communication Channels


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


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


Launch Giveaway Contests


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


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


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


Memorable Branding Makes Cents


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


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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

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

Does your brain ever feel tired?


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


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


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


Keloptic: Bringing Life Into Focus


Keloptic is an online optician that sells sunglasses and eyewear. 


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


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


Jeep: See What You Want to See


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


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


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


Pedigree: Adopt


Images convey emotion in ways words never can.


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


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


Tactile, Memorable Print


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


Have fun, and make your message stick! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How T-Shirt Giveaways Led to a Cool Million

Sujan Patel likes to do things unconventionally.


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


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


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


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


The Exponential Power of Promotional Products


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


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


Patel said his T-shirts had three obvious benefits:


1. They initiated great business conversations.


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


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


2. They opened doors into larger companies.


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


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


3. They significantly increased brand recognition.


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


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


Add A Personal Touch with Your Giveaways


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


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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Eliminate Waste with a Lean Business Model

"The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize." 


– Shigeo Shingo


When you think of "running lean," what comes to mind?


For many entrepreneurs, running lean means producing great results on a shoestring budget. Traditionally, being "lean" has meant doing more with less. Lean business models are all the rage, especially for start-ups or for small regional firms. But recently, the concept has expanded.


Today, a lean business model is a strategy that uses continuous planning and streamlined processes to address customer needs rapidly. Here is one working definition:


A lean business model is a business strategy that strives to eliminate waste in products and processes while satisfying customer wants. In doing so, the business will receive more positive customer returns (like increased sales and goodwill) while expanding profit margins.


Lean businesses are those that recognize inefficiencies, adapt quickly, and continually prototype new options to accommodate shifts in demand.


Lean Business Practices in Action


One real-life example of a lean business strategy comes from the automotive industry.


In the 1990s and 2000s, Japanese companies dominated American auto sales by becoming more customer-oriented. Responding to market demand, Japan produced several high-quality, low-cost vehicles that were assembled in the U.S. This appealed to a niche in the market while significantly reducing development time and operating costs. Sales boomed, and it took the better part of a decade for American manufacturers to regain this lost market share.


It's easy to recognize the results of a winning approach, but what does a lean business model look like in practice? Here are three parameters to guide your thinking:


1. Make strategy the heart of your plan


Lean businesses are flexible, fast, and efficient.


Adaptable companies are those that can change tactics while keeping their strategy consistent. What (or why) does your unique business connect with your target markets? Keep this strategic focus consistent with staying intimately connected to your preferred buyers.


2. Track progress and focus on what works


Since lean business models respond quickly to shifting demand, your company must have an accurate pulse on what is working.


This may involve fast cycles of surveying customers, with corresponding numbers that are specific and measurable.


The most important part of tweaking a business model plan is your data. This includes regularly updated sales projections, detailed performance tasks, or timebound concept developments.


Lean businesses often find that monthly projections are essential, but trajectories beyond one year are usually a waste of time. The goal is not guessing "right," but to generate probable results and to make course corrections as you go.


3. Revise and Review


Managing a lean business model isn't something you do once, or even once a year. Like calorie counting, the key to staying lean is regular repetition over time.


In business, this means revising and tweaking your plan consistently, including a commitment to reward experimentation and to prioritize ideas based on their output. This can be painful. It may mean abandoning concepts you championed, or sacking projects you've invested months into. But isn't that better than losing time and money in the long run?


Whether you like it or not, the only constant thing in life is change. Running a lean business requires an agile mindset, a humble attitude, and a willingness to learn as you go.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bringing Your Dream to Life

"Someone is sitting in the shade today


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


Dr. Julie Silver is a giant among medical practitioners.


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


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


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


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


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


Pursue a Dream


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


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


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


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


Share a Dream


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


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


Work the Dream


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


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


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


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


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

Friday, November 15, 2019

5 Fantastic Color Combinations for Your Next Design

Feeling blue?


Maybe it's the color of the room you're sitting in.


Color psychology is something that has fascinated people for decades. Artists and interior designers have long believed that colors can dramatically affect moods and emotions, and color marketing has become a hot topic in marketing, art, design, and print. As Pablo Picasso once remarked, "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions."


Color is a powerful communication tool, so understanding it can help you signal action, sway the mood, and even influence psychological reactions. Want to give it a try? Here is a quick snapshot of color harmonies, including color combinations to try in your next poster, banner, or custom label.


The Best Ways to Create Balance


The color wheel consists of three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), three secondary colors (colors created when primary colors are mixed: green, orange, purple), and six tertiary colors (colors made from primary and secondary colors, such as blue-green or red-violet).


When you draw a line directly through the center of the color wheel, you will separate the warm colors from the cool colors.


Warm colors (reds, yellows, and oranges) are vivid and bold in nature and tend to advance forward when viewed. They communicate energy, brightness, and action. Cool colors (blues, greens, and purples) appear soothing by nature and typically make a space seem larger. Cool colors are often associated with nature, calmness, peace, or serenity.


When choosing your next color combination, remember that complementary colors (those opposite on the color wheel) provide sharp contrasts. This can make your imagery really pop, but are best when used sparingly.


To avoid overdoing things, remember complementary colors do not need to exist in equal parts. If you want to use purple and yellow, allow one color to dominate and add only a tiny bit of the other.


For a more subtle approach, use triadic colors in your design (those that are evenly spaced around the color wheel). Or use analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel). Here one color will dominate, and the other will provide a sophisticated accent.


Set the Mood with Five Gorgeous Blends


Ready to get started? Check out these gorgeous blends:


For a friendly, playful feel:


Try magenta, goldenrod, turquoise, and brick. This four-color combination brings zest, personality, and a friendly, exciting tone.


For a sophisticated yet energetic feel:


Try gold, charcoal, and grey. This perfect combination of sunshine and somberness offers a cheerful tone with a grounded, mature accent.


For an aged, natural tone:


Try tan, deep turquoise, and black. Against the more neutral base, turquoise leaps to the forefront to evoke creativity, life, and freedom. For a more serious feel, use turquoise sparingly and add touches of brown or deep orange.


For a contemporary, chic tone:


Try mauve, sapphire, and powder blue. The baby blue brings a gentleness, while the rich pink and deep blue highlights scream femininity.


For an invigorating, rustic feel:


Try pine green, burnt orange, and light peach. When you want to set your design apart, orange is guaranteed to stop traffic. Burnt orange offers a more distinguished feel than a pumpkin or neon orange hue, but it still gets the job done. The rich green offers a warm, natural accent, and light peach ties everything together perfectly.


Colors That Connect


Want to set the mood or connect with your core customers?


Whether you lean toward simple and sophisticated or edgy and eccentric, colors build emotional bridges like nothing else can. Bring that wow factor to your professional printings through beautiful, unforgettable color combinations.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How Multi-Tasking Can Tank Your Productivity

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


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


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


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


The Statistics on Multi-Tasking


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


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


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


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


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


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


Place Lower Priority Projects Out Sight


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


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


Use Time-Blocking


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


Turn Off Your Phone


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


Log Off Email


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


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


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


Just Say No


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

Friday, November 8, 2019

Expand Sales with Responsive Customer Surveys

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


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


Why? Here's what Airbnb says:


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


A typical Airbnb survey invite looks something like this:


Hi ____,


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


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


Thanks,


The Airbnb Team


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


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



  • Grow new sales opportunities

  • Recognize and help dissatisfied clients before they leave

  • Create deeper relationships with VIP customers

  • Build competitive advantages for a business

Six Tips for Building a Successful Survey


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


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


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


1. Keep it short and simple.


Concentrate on the 5-10 most important questions.


2. Avoid loaded questions.


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


3. Start with basic questions that have straightforward answers.


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


4. Avoid compounded questions.


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


5. Target the right people.


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


6. Include enough people.


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


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


A Customer-Centric Experience


Every product or service revolves around customers and their experiences.


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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

4 Modern Design Resources for Your Bag of Tricks

Looking for a few hacks to sharpen your designs?


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


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


Quick Design


Want to learn design?


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


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


unDraw


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


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



  • Browse or search to find illustrations you want to use for your design

  • Change the color to match your palette or through your asset colors later

  • Download the image to your clipboard and paste it wherever you want

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


UI Sources


Inspiration regarding design "flow" can be hard to find.


Enter UI Sources.


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


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


Absurd Illustrations


What to play around a bit?


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


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


Improve Your Workflow


Each designer has their own personal list of "aha" tools.


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

Friday, November 1, 2019

How to Age Gracefully at Every Stage of Life

If people can age with class, Harlene Goodrich should be considered a maestro of maturity.


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


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


A Healthful Approach


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


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


Physical Health


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


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


Social Health


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


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


Mental Health


Cognitively speaking, mental development continues into middle adulthood.


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


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


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


Be a Participant in Your Journey


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


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


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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Increase Conversions with 3 Headline Hooks

Do you ever wander through a library aisle you would normally avoid?


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


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


That's telling.


Fool-Proof Headline Formulas


Headlines matter. A lot.


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


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


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


"The Best" List Headlines


Readers are selfish.


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


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


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


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



  • The 20 Best Ways to Make Money on a Side Hustle

  • The 12 Best Ways to Make the Most of Your Commute

  • The 8 Best Ways to Give a Non-Threatening Sales Pitch

Threat-of-Loss Headlines


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


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


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


     -- How will acting today save them money or inconvenience?


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


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


For example:



  • You'll Kick Yourself if You Miss This Early Registration Discount

  • Your Wife Will Be Stranded if You Cut Corners on Seasonal Auto Maintenance

  • You'll Lose $200 if You Delay Your Renewal

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


Curiosity Headlines


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


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


Curiosity headlines use a formula like this: What You Don't Know About _______ Can _______


For example:



  • Here's What You Don't Know About Electric Cars That Could Bust Your Budget

  • Here's What You Don't Know About SEO That Could Harm Your Business

  • Here's How Grain-Free Dog Food Can Increase Canine Heart Disease

Write Powerful Headlines They Won't Ignore


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


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

Friday, October 25, 2019

7 Greetings to Use in Corporate Thanksgiving Cards

Want to make the holidays happier this year?


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


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


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


Share a Simple Thank You


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


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


To encourage holiday sales


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


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


To surprise and delight clients


Customers love to associate with companies that have human qualities.


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


To build brand loyalty


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


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


7 Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Card


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


1. May your table be filled with family and gratitude this season. Happy Thanksgiving!


2. All year long, but especially during this season, we're grateful for incredible customers like you.


3. Though we're thankful for all of our customers, you're especially high on our list. Thank you for being a great customer and Happy Thanksgiving!


4. With appreciation for your business and your loyalty throughout the year. Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!


5. It's the perfect time of year to send our sincere thanks for your business. Happy Thanksgiving from our business to your home!


6. Sometimes in the rush of the day, we fail to say THANKS loud enough. So today – and this holiday season – we want to express our gratitude. Thank you for your patronage, partnership, and your commitment to crafting vibrant industries here in ____________.


7. At ____, we believe that relationships are our most valuable resource, and a vibrant local business community is something worth celebrating. Thank you for the privilege of doing business with you this year!


Get Started Today


Ready to get started? This season, we've got you covered at Print It! when it comes to customer engagement. Call us today at 864-882-3609 to discuss a custom holiday card or to get your design up and running!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

5 Ways to Make Your Newsletters Shine

What's so great about vacation? It's a chance to cut loose and take a break from the ordinary!


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


A Foundation to Build From


The same is true in design.


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


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


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


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


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


2. Make headlines clear and bold.


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


3. Keep alignment consistent.


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


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


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


4. Avoid Helvetica and Arial


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


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


5. Create a Compelling Call to Action


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


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


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



  • Subscribe Now!

  • Sign Me Up!

  • Activate _____ Today!

  • Find Out How!

  • Claim Your Discount!

  • Try it Yourself!

  • Schedule (or Book) __________!

  • Register Now!

  • Call for a Free Estimate!

Make Them Look Forward to Your Next Newsletter


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


To make the most of this unique privilege, build a strong design grid with a few spectacular deviations. Need help writing?  We offer off-the-shelf articles and stories to make your job quicker and easier. Give us a call at 864-882-3609 to see how we can help! Create visually engaging publications with helpful takeaways, and your newsletters will be something your audience looks forward to reading!

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.