Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

Lisa Price describes herself as "the accidental entrepreneur."


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


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


Negotiating Well and Staying True to Yourself


How do you sell yourself without selling out?


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


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


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


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


Want to emulate her experience?


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


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


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


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


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


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

Friday, August 16, 2019

Exert Influence While You're Stuck in the Middle

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


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


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


Honor Decisions You Disagree With


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


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


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


Be Intentional


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


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


Keep the Big Picture in Mind


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


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


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


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


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


It's All About Perspective


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


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

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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

Does your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that's probably due to information overload.


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


Want to increase exposure and impact for your marketing messages?


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


A Better Job is Waiting


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


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


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


You Eat What You Touch


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


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


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


Neighbors


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


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


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


Tactile, Memorable Print


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

Monday, August 12, 2019

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

In 1995, a renegade cow painted three words on a Texas billboard: "EAT MOR CHIKIN."


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


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


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


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


Unfailing Hospitality


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


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


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


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


Manners Matter


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


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


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


  • Often if you say 'thank you' to an employee, they might respond with: 'my pleasure.'

  • Some Chick-Fil-A operators offer expired nuggets to pet owners (while the chicken is still good).

  • Others offer a "Mom's Valet" where young families can order at the drive-through and ask employees to set the table (including the correct number of high chairs and drinks) so when they enter the restaurant, kid chaos is eliminated.  

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


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


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


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


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


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

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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

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


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


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


1. Ask Questions Upfront


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


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


2. Plot Your Course Early


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


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


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


3. Assemble All the Elements


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


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


4. Schedule Regular Updates


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


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


5. Allow For Margin


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


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


How Much Should I Budget?


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



  1. Estimate your monthly income

  2. List your fixed design expenses

  3. List your variable design expenses

  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses 

  5. Create the budget


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


Better Together


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


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

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

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


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


Go Big (But Not Too Big)


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


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


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


Avoid Website Images


Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.


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


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


Zoom in or Adjust Proportions


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


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


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


Resolve to Finish Well


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


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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How to Sell Your Brand Through Story

Have you ever been introduced to an overly chatty person?


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


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


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


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


The Human to Human Connection


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


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


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


  • What your brand says about itself

  • What your brand does in the world

  • What others believe and say about your brand

  • How people interact with your brand

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


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


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


Finding Connection


On a neural level, the brain actually "feels" a story.


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


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


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


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


Bring Your Story to Life


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


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

Friday, July 26, 2019

How to Win Over Millennials with Effective Print Marketing

Millennials and their Gen Z siblings are the first truly digital generations, some learning to swipe a screen before they could wipe their own faces!


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



  • More than nine in ten millennials own smartphones, and 90% of millennials have at least one social media profile. Of that majority, 52% are active on 5 or more social media sites

  • Millennials make up 58% of mobile shoppers and are 2.5 times more likely than the average shopper to be influenced by a mobile app.

  • 73% of online millennials believe that internet has been mostly a good thing for society, and they certainly believe their gadgets bring personal benefits: 53% of Millennials said they would rather give up their sense of smell than their technology! 

  • While young people love being online, they don't go there to read ads. In fact, YouTube recently hit upon the idea of six-second ads as a way to try and keep fidgety viewers watching.

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


  • 92% are influenced to make a purchase by direct mail.

  • 90% said they would prefer direct mail over email.

  • 90% think direct mail advertising is reliable.

  • 73% use direct mail coupons when making purchases. 

  • 63% responded to a direct mail piece to make a purchase. 

Corner Younger Markets


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


1. Keep it short and sweet.


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


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


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


2. Use social proof.


Need an accurate answer?


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


3. Make it tech-friendly.


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


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


Print to Win


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


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


 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Increase Sales Through Authentic Marketing

Authenticity is a hot word in business.


Today's consumers don't want to be told how to think or what to do. Instead, they want businesses that inspire them, and customers are demanding greater purity and consistency in the products, messages, and values a company represents.


What is Authenticity?


Some define authenticity as being consistent in word and deed or having a fundamental character that doesn't change based on circumstance.


Inauthentic companies may come across as artificial, timid, fake, or gimmicky, while words associated with professional authenticity might include transparent, original, boldly unapologetic, legitimate, or truthful.


Authentic brands are those that stay true to who they are, what they do, and who they serve. This means that, in an age of unprecedented consumer empowerment, understanding your customers and what they expect from you is critical.


But in crafting authenticity in marketing, entrepreneurs should understand that the meaning of the word authenticity can vary based on customer expectations.


Authenticity Translated: Two Interpretations


Consider the restaurant industry in New York.


Two fan favorites in this scene include DiFara's Pizza in Brooklyn and Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. Both are lauded as "authentic." DiFara's reviewers rave that this pizzeria is as "authentic as they come," while Blue Hill at Stone Barn is hailed as "an authentic Hudson Valley culinary experience."


What does this actually mean?


Translation 1: In this genre of authentic companies, a product or brand perfectly conforms to the original.


DiFara's matches the expectations a customer might have for a "classic" Italian pizzeria experience. The pizzaiolo at DiFara's, Domenic DeMarco, immigrated to the U.S. from a small town near Naples and has been making traditional thin-crust pizzas in Brooklyn since 1964.


Translation 2: Blue Hill offers farm-to-table ingredients with a focus on creating sustainable food systems.


Here authenticity is assigned to a company that offers products or experiences that adhere to the core beliefs or values of the customer served, whether the value is for transparent leadership, unpolluted products, or a desire for excellence. (Think the Honest Company, Apple, or Yeti, for example.)


Which Strategy Should You Pursue?


According to four studies reported by the Harvard Business Review, authentically conforming to a category (see Translation 1) might lead to higher social evaluations (like 5-star ratings) but might not increase a consumer's willingness to pay more.


This can bring tangible benefits: research shows that even a 1-star increase in Yelp reviews may bring a 5-9% increase in revenues.


On the other hand, authenticity adhering to customer core beliefs (see Translation 2) might persuade consumers to pay more for those products.


How does this affect your business? Researchers said this:


"Managers should consider these patterns as they attempt to appeal to customers. Rather than assuming that any mention of authenticity leads to a better reputation or more revenue (or both), managers might do well to think carefully about what kind of authenticity their organization expresses. For organizations that convey authenticity because they exemplify a specific category or genre, they might focus on generating value by winning higher star ratings – which can increase sales traffic – rather than attempting to charge more for products or services . . . Organizations that evoke authenticity by adhering to their core beliefs might benefit more from charging a premium for products and services to a more selective set of customers."


Want to win at authenticity? You will be wise to choose the best way to meet customer expectations, ensuring each message you send is genuine and in line with your brand principles.


Don't just claim to be authentic, choose a strategy to pursue it. Then live up to this vision by giving your very best!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Get Ahead at Work by Busting These Bad Habits

Work and sleep are two of the most time-consuming things we do.


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


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


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


Habits that Hurt You Personally


Skipping Breaks


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


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


Winging it on Mondays


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


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


Negative Attitudes


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


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


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


Habits that Annoy Others


Eating Smelly or Loud Foods


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


Grooming at Your Desk


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


Interrupting or Asking Too Many Questions


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


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


Habits that Harm Your Reputation


Using Work Time Improperly


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


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


Distraction or Delays


Why is texting while driving illegal?


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


Being Nosy or Political


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


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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Easy Ideas to Boost Your Social Media Standing

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


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


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


Edge Body Boot Camp


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


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


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


Eileen Lanza Realty


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


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


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


See Jane Work


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


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


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


Keep Your Name Current


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


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

Friday, July 12, 2019

Build Rapport with Readers Using Concrete Customer Personas

What is the value of print in an increasingly paperless world?


An international 2017 study revealed print brought readers greater enjoyment, deeper understanding of a product, and more willing engagement.


  • 68% of people say they do not pay attention to online ads

  • 57% do their best to avoid them.

  • Conversely, 52% prefer to read product catalogs in print

  • 45% of consumers said they like receiving personally addressed advertising or leaflets

  • 46% said they would be more likely to respond after seeing a newspaper or magazine ad (versus viewing the same copy online).

As you craft print messages, how can you build rapport with readers?


A 2014 Edelman Brandshare survey found that the majority of consumers are suspicious of brands' intentions (only 30% believed companies had a sincere commitment to customers). With this in mind, your marketing should focus less on giving information and more on building trust.


Make Your Marketing All About Your Customers


To create the best possible experience so your prospects are ready to buy, begin with a deliberate focus on the audience (not the company) and invest intentional energy to discover who you are actually talking to.


How do you do this?


By detailing exactly who your target markets are: chronicling their pain points, struggles, or aspirations, and articulating how you can provide a delightful solution or experience for them.


3 Steps for Building Customer Personas


Here are three steps for building customer personas:


1. Ask the Right Questions


Building accurate personas means identifying what your ideal customers have in common, how you can address their desires, and how your products or content can solve their problems.


Ask questions like:



  • What do my ideal customers desire? What do they need help with?

  • What is our target demographic? What are their hobbies or interests? What risks or decisions are they navigating?

  • What professional, personal, or family challenges are they facing? What stirs their emotions (like fear, excitement, or pride)?

Focusing on identity keys makes it easier to develop high-level content that set a relevant tone and cuts to the heart.


2. Talk to People


Once you craft sample personas, go directly to current clients (via calls, e-mail, online chats, or through your sales reps) and find out as much as you can.


Test your assumptions, look for common threads, and write down individual phrases or stories people share. Fill in the gaps and gather as much information as possible.


3. Condense and Consolidate


Once you've gathered data, comb through and collate.


Look for common themes like concerns, hopes, desires, challenges. At this stage, craft a rough draft of several marketing personas (at least three to start with).


Brainstorm attributes for each persona, make a succinct list of identity keys, and list connection points your brand can make with these people. Name each persona (i.e. Sarah Student, Soccer Mom Sally, Broker Bill) or add images to make them come alive.


Finding Common Ground


Ultimately, humanized marketing is about delivering the type of messages your audience wants to engage with in mediums they trust the most.


Personas also give you a launchpad for asking the right questions and giving them the power to "win" as they choose for themselves.


In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible:


"People don't like to be sold to, but they love to buy."

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

How to Build Trust in Your Team

Once there was a businessman on a routine domestic flight.


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


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


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


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


Weather the Storms


Does your team trust that you are taking them home?


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


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


1. Show your vulnerabilities.


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


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


2. Regularly delegate authority.


Give trust to get trust.


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


3. Be transparent about money.


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


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


4. Operate from a visible set of values.


If your firm lacks clear values, define them.


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


5. Don't let difficult issues linger.


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


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


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


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

Monday, July 8, 2019

Use Emotional Marketing to Win Customers

In 2014, an animated film titled "Super Amma" was created to teach mothers in rural India the importance of consistent hand-washing.


Because families had no running water (and typically only used soap when dirt was visible), changing mindsets was a daunting task. The solution? Health officials put together an inspirational animated film starring "Super Amma," a mother who loved and cared for her son, eventually helping him grow up to become a doctor.


Dubbed "an extraordinary tale of an ordinary mother," Super Amma used the powerful appeal of a nurturing mother to forge an emotional connection between regular handwashing and a mom's desire to care for her children. Initially rolled out in 14 villages, the results were better than expected. Six months after the first campaign, 37% of families were regularly washing their hands with soap.


Emotional Connection Rules All


All of us understand the power of emotions.


They drive us to pursue dreams, keep us from making destructive choices, and can easily nudge us in a particular direction when we make decisions.


Marketers can use emotions like vital arrows when advertising a particular product or service. But to build an emotional connection with your audience, you need to understand what's motivating your buyers. What are they hoping to achieve? What feelings are they searching for with your product or service?


According to MEG research, there are three key motivators that affect most buyers: trust, confidence, and empathy. How could you use one or two of these emotional triggers to move your core buyers?


Emotional Trigger: Trust.


Move Customer to Believe: "Acme Company is a company I can depend on. I trust that they'll do what I say."


Trust is a powerful motivator! Share hard facts, testimonials, stories, and convincing benefits to show prospects that placing their confidence in you is a worthwhile decision.


Slogan example: "You're in good hands with Allstate."


 


Emotional Trigger: Confidence.


Move Customer to Believe: "I have confidence that Acme Company has the expertise to meet my needs and the tools to do it with excellence."


When seeking to sell a product or service, your goal is to convince buyers that your marketing claim is credible and so is your company. Move prospects from believing that your product brings results to believing it can bring results for THEM.


Slogan example: "Stronger hair, stronger you. For hair that shines with all its strength." (Garnier)


 


Emotional Trigger: Empathy.


Move Customer to Believe: "Acme Company understands my present situation, and is there to walk me through purchasing decisions and service support after I make a commitment."


It's not about you, it's about THEM. To make lasting emotional connections with customers, show that you understand where they are coming from and demonstrate how what you offer solves their problem.


Slogan example: "Make quitting suck less." (Nicorette nicotine replacement therapy products.)


Use Print to Get to the Heart


Statistics show that emotional marketing campaigns are nearly twice as effective as those that have a rational focus, and print ads that generate an emotional response outperform other ads by a factor of 2-to-1.


When you recognize the key motivators of your audience, identify similarities among those who respond to your brand and speak to their desired emotional benefit.


By getting to the heart of your audience (causing prospects to buy-in to more than just the logical "result" of your product) you go from simply conveying a message to evoking a response.

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing

When you call someone on the phone, are you glad when they pick up? If you had to pay for each call, would you be especially glad when they picked up?


Marketing is essentially a call to your customers, a financial investment you make in hopes that people will "pick up."


And print is one of the best mediums for engaging your audience.


Direct mail response rates for print are much higher than e-mail response rates (4.4% versus 0.12%). 60% of consumers said receiving and handling tangible objects leaves a lasting mental impression on them. And 57% of people say they feel more valued when they receive print marketing from brands.


When you place a call, are your customers picking up?


When you send advertising through print, you'll have a better estimate if you are tracking responses. Every business using print marketing needs an effective testing system. Tracking your marketing will help you answer two questions:


  • Are your marketing dollars resulting in leads or conversions?

  • What specific parts of your marketing are responsible for prospect visits or sales revenue?

Four Ways to Track Your Print Marketing


Here are four ways to find out:


1. Unique Promo Codes


Promo codes are like hashtags, but better.


They are fun, expressive, and they bring tangible savings to your clients. Offer distinct coupon codes in print pieces you want to test, and be sure the call to action is strong and clear (e.g., "Get 25% off patio decor by presenting this card in stores or using the code 'LOVE25PATIO'). If your customer uses the code, you'll know they've responded.


2. QR Codes


How do you build bridges between digital and print advertising?


One easy technique is to include a QR code to drive traffic to your landing page. By adding these handy tools to your flyers, postcards, or brochures, you can track relevant info while storing data, location, and text. You can also experiment with social media hashtags to track success and increase online engagement.


3. Distinct Online Landing Pages


Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber's landing page targeting new riders here).


While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page:



  • Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources

  • Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action

  • Stays focused on a single topic or offer

  • Omits or downplays site navigation options

Beyond narrow landing pages, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad's effectiveness.


4. Asking Customers


Want to know what's on their mind? Ask them!


While you may not be able to connect with every customer, take time to ask new clients how they heard about your business. Speak with people face-to-face and you may gain insight into their motivations, frustrations, or preferred benefits.


Also consider adding a drop-down element to your website to ask how customers were introduced to your business (direct mail, word-of-mouth, social media, etc). Finally, including a unique "point of contact" email address or phone number (specific to the campaign) on your print materials to make response tracking easier.


Record and Recalibrate


From big business to small firms, every business using print should track and recalibrate based on results.


Print ads are more compelling when they use clear calls to action and high-quality pieces. Ready to set up a campaign with distinct tracking points? We're happy to help if you have questions!  Just give us a call at Print It! at 864-882-3609. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Perseverance: How to Know If It's Time to Quit

Over the last two years, there has been a great buzz about 37-year-old tennis phenom Serena Williams.


Williams has 23 Grand Slam titles and a dominant career, ranked number one for 319 weeks over 15 years. In 2017, Williams gave birth to her first daughter. Many wondered how motherhood would affect her career. Would she return with the same fight? Would she return at all?


Williams roared back to the semi-final of the 2018 U.S. Open and quickly regained top 10 rankings. Fans worldwide were inspired by her courage and moved by her transparency about her struggles.


Faced with a Crossroads


In life, you will face discouragement, wondering, "Is it time to quit? Should I alter my path or press on through resistance?"


On one hand, redirecting can be wise, helping you avoid harm or consider better alternatives. Conversely, quitting might weaken your character or prevent you from realizing an achievement that's closer than you think.


Walter Mallory, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison, was expressing regret that the first nine thousand experiments with a battery yielded few results. Edison had a different perspective:


"Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I have found several thousand things that won't work!"


To Fish or Cut Bait?


Politician Newt Gingrich said, "perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."


Pressing on in a project can build character, enhance your skill set, and build confidence that can only come through trial. The best leaders are those who've been tested.


When tempted to quit, ask yourself whether other alternatives seem tangible or rewarding. Does a change seem realistic? Could you tweak certain variables to make a situation more bearable? Perhaps your moments of greatest discouragement are those when you're actually closest to breakthrough!


But whoever said "quitters never win" may have been wrong. Quitting is scary, but sometimes continuing is worse. Stubbornness can destroy important relationships, blind you to better alternatives, or make you oblivious to your destruction. It might be time to quit when:



  • Continuing will destroy friendships, family, health, or your character

  • Despite loads of effort, you don't see results

  • You find yourself growing numb to red flags

  • Proceeding may eliminate other options

  • You've lost all joy or energy

In 2010, Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa shocked fans when she retired at 28. At that time, she was ranked number one in the world, a winner of two major championships and millions in prize money.


An impulsive decision? Ochoa says no. From early in her career, Ochoa wanted to marry and raise a family without golf, projecting about 10 years on the tour.


" . . . For me, getting married and having a family, that was more important," Ochoa said. "Now that I'm a mother, I wouldn't change that for anything in the world and I feel blessed. I'm really, really happy that I made the decision at the right time and now I can enjoy 100% this second stage of my life.''


Looking back, Ochoa said knowing there was a definite "end" actually helped her game:


"When I was in a difficult position and I was either upset or tired or angry or disappointed, I keep saying, 'OK, y'know I have three or four years left. I'm going to do it and continue and I'm going to put everything into it' . . . When I look back and I see what I did, I just feel even luckier because I made the right decision at the perfect time."


Ochoa's courage may inspire you to think of it this way: perhaps it's time to quit when saying no to the good means you can say YES to the best.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

How to Grow When Sales are Slow

Nothing was going right at the plate for Dave Concepcion, the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.


About a month into the 1976 season, he was suffering a hitting slump, a plague of physical and mental anguish that had frittered away his batting average to around .150. The Reds were in Chicago, where the Cubs had a large industrial gas-operated clothes dryer in the stadium. Feeling goofy, Concepcion hopped in the dryer and called to his teammates. "Hey! Maybe this will help me get hot."


Going along with the gag, Pat Zachry, the pitcher, hit the side of the switch, pretending to turn on the machine. With a puff of smoke, sparks flew, the machine whirred and began to rotate with Concepcion inside.


''I'll never forget it,'' said Zachry. ''Davey started spinning, and I froze with my eyes bugging out. Oh, it was terrible. Then I banged the side of the switch again. And the machine stopped.


''Davey went out that day and got four for five," said Zachry. "And for weeks it was almost impossible to get him out. I tell him now that I made him the player he is today.''


Fast-Track Productivity in Unconventional Ways


No one in baseball or business is certain how slumps happen, but it's helpful to know how to react when they do. Especially if you see trends that repeat each year.


Here are four creative options to fast track productivity if your momentum is slow this summer:


1. Engage in pro bono opportunities that enhance your products, services, and relationships.


In slowdown seasons, invest company time in something that will pay off.


Who are your target customers or VIP account holders? Approach these contributors and offer to host a free training event or professional engagement that will put your products and people in the limelight. Another alternative is to select core clients and offer to enhance your services for them for no cost.


2. Do non-profit work for your best customer's charity of choice.


Slow periods are an ideal time to invest people equity in causes that matter.


During your down times, partner with agencies that your clients value and offer volunteer hours, free professional services, or mentoring that can make these organizations stronger.


3. Stretch your team's skills.


When activity wanes, morale often follows.


Invigorate employees by offering on-going education opportunities, professional mentoring within your team, or innovation labs that mobilize groups to tackle some of your most ambitious goals.


Take time to refresh decor, business cards, or your website, and involve your team in designing these pieces. Here you'll strengthen your products, catalyze creative thinking, or upgrade inefficient systems.


4. Network or collaborate with other professionals.


Finally, as your business weathers change, remember that other entrepreneurs may be in the same boat.


Find like-minded friends and cook up a multi-site promotion to bring people back. Network and learn from people in your community or industry while you have extra time. Or trade services and train one another in ways that are mutually beneficial.


Want to make the most of each day? By reaching out, stretching your team, or collaborating with others, you'll sharpen your skills and fortify your very best relationships.

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Finish that Won't Fade

Did you use Play-doh as a child?


Ever inadvertently leave your simple shapes to harden in the open air? Though your brittle pieces later crumbled, a simple finishing process would have sustained them for centuries. Ceramic firing transforms malleable clay into a rock-hard, durable substance. The additions of underglaze, luster, and around 930 degrees Fahrenheit can vitrify clay creations from goo to gorgeous, glass-like pieces that are impervious to water and time.


In ceramics and in print, the finishing process is nearly as important as the design itself. Finishing refers to the services applied to your print piece after the ink hits the paper. These can be added before or after the paper comes off the press, and examples of finishing services include aqueous or UV protection coatings, binding or collating, trimming or folding, stamping, laminating, perforating, mounting, or coatings like matte or satin varnishes.


Fabulous Finishing Techniques in Design and Print


In the past, many of the rock-star finishing options were impossible for the budget-conscious customer.


Things like die-cutting, embossing, or foil stamping options were saved for the fanciest invitations or a "lifestyles of the rich and famous" print run. Today, however, technology has transformed ordinary printing, decreasing the time and expense it takes to create textured, fabulous pieces.


Ready to take your work up a notch but not sure what your options include? Here is a basic menu of finishing services accessible to you today:


Trimming or Die-Cutting


Trims can be used to shear or reduce a printed piece along crop lines, page borders, or into a unique or fun shape that expresses your brand (like business cards in the shape of a coffee cup).


Foil Stamps or Blocking


This process is creating by pressing metal dies (or colored foil) onto a surface with a heated die. This process is used mostly to enhance typography and logos.


Embossing or Debossing


This allows you to press an image into a paper or card to create a three-dimensional design.


Embossing results in a raised surface while debossing brings a depressed (indented) surface. This is a great way to give your design impressive dimension and texture.


Perforation or Unique Folds


Perforating creates a series of fine holes to allow a portion of the printed piece to be easily detached (think coupons, ID cards, RSVP slips, or ticketing items).


Non-traditional fold options include everything from accordion and zig-zag styles to overlapping or tapered die-cuts that create wonderful visual texture. Looking for inspiration? A quick conversation with our design team will undoubtedly spark creativity!


Laminating or Binding


Laminating binds clear plastic film onto printed matter to improve durability and protect it against smudges, wrinkles, or tears.


Binding options include anything from a simple staple or comb binding to saddle stitching, screw binding, combs, spirals, and more.


Varnish and Coating Options


Commercial print applications (like brochures, business cards, and packaging options) typically apply a protective coat that seal the ink and enhance visual appeal.


Coatings range from basic machine and aqueous varnishes to UV coatings and high build varnishes that have the appearance of water or wax. Confusing? No problem. Our experts can guide you through the best varnish or coating options for your particular project.


Ready to turn heads with a resounding finish? Go big and bold to make your next printing soar.

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!