Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How to Ask for Help at Work

Were you forced to work from home in 2020?


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


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


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


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


Examples of How to Ask for Help


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


Keep it Simple


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


Be Specific


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


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


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


Give the “Why” Behind Your Request


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


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


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


Use Examples of Effectiveness


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


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


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


Begin with a Question


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


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


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


Say Thanks in Advance


Gratitude is always a powerful way to appeal to others.


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


Together is Better


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


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


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

Friday, October 16, 2020

Command Results with These 4 Direct Mail Brochure Formats

Ready to open doors and grab leads for your business?


Direct mail brochures are a great piece of any marketing plan and are especially useful in building consumer confidence. According to the Direct Mail Association, 56 percent of consumers consider print marketing the most trustworthy form of advertising, and 65 percent of consumers have bought something from a direct-mail piece.


When considering your next direct mail campaign, here are some reasons brochures might be best:


Clear Comprehension


The human brain is designed to understand more when something looks “real.”


As a time-tested commodity, brochures offer an easy-to-follow layout that builds instant connections with all types of people. Brochures also connect well with memory because they engage people’s spatial memory networks.


Increased Brain Response


In this busy age of low attention spans, physical materials increase the brain response of every viewer.


There’s something blissful in physical opening print pieces: the smell of the ink, the texture of a product. And that sensory stimulation has big benefits – people continue reading longer from a physical page and retain information better from print than from digital media.  


Enduring Presence


Direct mail brochures are ideal for customers who weigh a decision because people can read them many times or store them for future reference.


Brochures offer an attractive, compact option to get your advertising read or handed around to others. Every time someone new picks up your brochure, your message makes an impression. And brochures are far more likely to be saved or filed when someone needs more time to consider.


Bring Your Message to Life


When you’re building a concept for your next direct mail brochure, here are a few schematic options to consider:


1. Product/Benefit Layout


When you want to share more information about your business or its benefits, brochures provide a clean, logical layout.


Your brochure panels might tout your firm’s professional capabilities, your product’s unique selling points, or the practical advantages of your services.


2. Testimonial Brochure


Personal endorsements are extremely valuable, as prospects value others’ opinions more than any direct claims you make.


Use your brochure panels to feature pull quotes, before and after success stories, or reviews from real people (featuring names, photos, or dates). Best fit customers are influencers that prompt your readers to think, “I can relate to this person, and I trust their opinion.”


3. Question/Answer Format


Similar to a testimonial design, the Q/A format is very versatile.


Use it to address target customers’ felt needs, disarm suspicion, or present interviews with key company executives. Answering questions reduces buyer tension and creates an immediate bond with readers.


4. Fold-over Mailer with Postcard


Want to double your impact?


Try a fold-over mailer with a postcard inside. Fold-over mailers serve as both a brochure and a mini-poster and allow for heightened reader engagement as postcards are removed. Either piece can be passed to others or posted for later reference, allowing flexibility in concept and design.


Hook, Story, Offer


No matter what format you use, every direct mail piece needs a strong hook.


Most people will scan your external copy looking for a reason to read (or toss!) your brochure. State significant benefits upfront, or ask a question that must be answered. Start headlines with active verbs and keep this big question central: “What’s in it for me?”


Lead with this perspective, and you’ll entice them every time!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

How to Use Normalization to Change Behavior

If you grew up in the early eighties, you’re probably familiar with the “Mikey likes it” Life cereal campaign.


This capstone commercial centered on three young brothers eating breakfast. Before them sits a heaping bowl of Life. Two brothers question each other about it, noting that it is supposed to be healthy. Neither has any desire to taste it (“I’m not gonna try it—you try it”), so they test it on their brother (“Let’s get Mikey . . . he won’t eat it, he hates everything!”).


Mikey briefly stares at the bowl, then starts devouring the cereal, as his brothers excitedly exclaim, “He likes it!” 


Strategically Shaping the Internal Narrative


If you are a professional marketer, your job exists to do one key thing: to make change happen.


Finding an agent to trigger change – like Mikey demonstrating healthy cereal is delicious – is the key to persuasion. But this can be harder than it sounds because all people act in accordance with their internal narrative. You can’t get someone to do what they don’t want to do! And most of the time, the action a person takes is one that reinforces their internal narrative.


In sales, your fundamental goal is to tap into someone’s internal narrative and strategically shape it. Some people have a narrative that makes them open to changing their behavior (e.g., Martin Lloyd votes for various individual candidates, not a specific political party), while others are very resistant.


But for most people, behavior change is driven by a desire to fit in (people like us do things like this) and perception of status (affiliation or dominance). People don’t make decisions in a vacuum – instead, they base them on the perceptions of their cohort.


Actions are primarily driven by one question: “Do people like me do things like ____?” For example:



  • People like me don’t speed in residential neighborhoods.

  • People like me avoid debt.

  • People like me love funky accessories.

  • People like me buy organic.

Normalization creates culture, and culture drives choices, which leads to more normalization.


So marketers can prompt change by normalizing new behaviors among a specific cohort of people. In the “people like us do ____” paradigm, the “us” matters. The more specific you can be about who “us” is, the better.


Here are three steps toward normalizing new ideas:


1. Map and understand the worldview of the cohort you seek to change.


2. Focus all your energy on this group. Ignore everyone outside this persona and build stories that will resonate with your target (soccer moms, granola hippies, techie teens, etc.).


3. Within this subculture, build an exclusive cohort. Exclusive is an internal measure (us versus them, insiders versus outsiders) that members resonate with. Exclusive organizations thrive when members are clearly identified, and inclusion is perceived as valuable or beneficial. People love to belong and to gain status as they link up with others “like us.” And when you market to “we” or “us” cohorts, your message carries much greater weight.


Case Study: The Blue Ribbon School District


Ready to see normalization in action? Here’s one example from marketer Seth Godin:


My little town had a problem. Despite having extraordinary schools (our elementary school won the national Blue Ribbon School designation), there was a schism over the upcoming budget vote. Many were upset about rising school taxes and, for the first time in memory, the first school budget failed.


Before the final budget vote, school proponents stopped trying to defend budget numbers and took a new tack: they tied one hundred blue ribbons to a big tree in front of the middle school in the center of town. Within days, the idea spread. In the week before the election, dozens of trees around town had blue ribbons hanging from them. Thousands of blue ribbons hung by dozens of families.


The message was simple – “people like us, people in this Blue Ribbon district, support our schools.”


The budget passed two to one.


When you target the smallest viable market, you maximize your chance of changing behavior. This subset of people, enriched and connected by the change you promote, can then organically share the word with the next layer of the market.


That is the power or people like us.

Friday, October 9, 2020

3 Companies with a Killer Brand Identity

Trust builds confidence.


That is why a strong corporate brand identity can make or break a business. Brand identity is more than key values or approved color palettes; it is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer.


When a company has a strong brand, it is easily recognized, which grows people’s trust. Trust builds confidence, and confidence begets loyalty. When a business has built superiority in a particular niche, repeat customers are more willing to buy in other areas. When you have loyalty from your base, you have space to increase prices or ask for bigger commitments. 


Want to craft a style that is timely and relevant to your audience? Here are three inspiring examples of brands who have nailed it:


Tesla


Tesla is an electric vehicle and clean energy company with long-range, eco-friendly electric cars. 


They are also very expensive. To build customer confidence, Tesla leaves price out of their branding and focuses on combining its fun personality combined with its incredible quality. CEO Elon Musk has built himself up as a Tony Stark-like character, and the brand promotes its uniqueness through ads and quirky features (like Super Cars with a “Ludicrous Mode”).


Tesla also relies on communities to tell its story, and passionate ambassadors have sprouted up worldwide to shout their love for the brand. Spain’s Tesla Club on Facebook has more than 7,300 members, and user-generated content is some of the most effective marketing in Tesla’s toolbox.


Dollar Shave Club


When you see this name, what comes to mind? Probably value.


At its core, Dollar Shave Club (DSC) is an everyman’s brand with a simple proposition: name-brand razors cost too much, but DSC offers quality alternatives at a rock-bottom price.


The brand bills itself as smart and stylish, conforming perfectly to customer needs. Each month, customers receive beautifully branded boxes with playful welcome notes and dapper products. When you join DSC, you’re not just subscribing to low-cost products; you’re investing in the monthly delight that comes with them! 


To reinforce this tone, the brand snubs highbrow marketing and pursues a cheeky, casual vibe. While other shaving brands go for a sleek image (with men who look like actors and models), Dollar Shave Club features average looking people across a wide age range. 


Parkinson’s Foundation


For many nonprofits, design can be an afterthought. 


But the Parkinson’s Foundation has created a fresh visual identity that reflects the exciting, dynamic organization it is. A unique logo resembles a brain in a head, a subtle nod to the neurological disorder. The bright blue is a vibrant hue, communicating excitement and zest for life and the promise of “Better Lives. Together.” 


The brand’s fundraising hinges on a promise of hope and progress and designs highlight this sense of cooperation. Custom imagery features a wide range of real individuals from throughout the Parkinson’s community—doctors, caregivers, donors, and people living with Parkinson’s — united by a single bright blue color that symbolizes their optimistic approach to fighting the disease.


In a spirit of community, the foundation logo is specifically designed as a platform for community expression, offering an open space (like a speech bubble) for individuals to handwrite messages or personalize materials (like, “For Dad”). Parkinson’s supporters love customizing it to share their own messages on social media and engage others in the fight.


A Voice All Your Own


Corporate branding has the power to attract, engage, and communicate just what you want with your clients. 


But you can only do this by connecting with customers where they are. Strong brands succeed because they resonate with a portion of their market better than anyone else.


When you’re working to shape designs, use a voice that resonates with your audience. If your brand was a person, how would it communicate? Be consistent, confident, and unique, and your voice will shine through on every occasion!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Shout Your Brand Identity with Strategic, Clever Imagery

If a picture paints a thousand words, then brand imagery is one of the most dynamic means for communicating with your customers.


From stained-glass church windows to the world-renowned Nike swoosh, images add immediacy, power, and clarity to your ideas, with a transformative effect on a brand’s overall impact. Colors and graphic metaphors have surprising staying power, so it’s important to consider every element you include in your brand imagery.


Brand Identity vs. Brand Imagery


So, what is the difference between brand identity and brand imagery?


Brand identity is the image or character of your business as people relate to it. For example, the BMW image of elite luxury has grown naturally from customers’ repeated exposure to BMW’s ads, endorsements, and products.


Brand imagery is the aesthetic appearance of your brand’s core identity and messaging. This is a result of all the visuals that represent your brand’s identity. These visuals may include anything from billboards to print ads or website banners to product packaging. Great imagery goes beyond simple appearance; the idea is to connect the right messages with your target audience so that they will have strong feelings that prompt a response.


Choosing brand imagery isn’t rocket science, but it takes some careful planning. Before you start slapping images on the page, think about these foundational elements:


Consistent Photography


How do the best brands convey their identity? They use graphics consistent with their brand character.


Burt’s Bees, an international personal-care company, has focused its products on nature from day one. Whether it’s their infamous lip balms or their newer makeup line, Burt’s always sticks to this mantra: “Providing customers with the best nature has to offer.”


From their “Whoa, Natural” print ads to their “unfiltered” social media posts, every image they use has an element of nature. Sometimes it’s through an eye shadow pencil held against a background of trees, while in others, it’s a little bit of honey accompanying a facial scrub.


On-Brand Colors


While colors offer a great deal of flexibility, it helps to define larger color palettes that encompass your brand.


Since colors carry psychological weight, selecting color patterns in advance can help you convey the right emotions or moods. Start with identifying a base, accent, and neutral blend. Cohesive color schemes should be woven into your logo, store design, advertisements, and even uniforms, so choose carefully and have fun!


Viewer Perspective


The GoPro technology company is all about taking their cameras everywhere you go, no matter the journey.


GoPro photos scream adventure, with deep, natural blues or stunning orange reflections. But beyond the colors, many brand photos are taken from the perspective of the camera operator. For example, perhaps a landscape with bike handlebars in the perimeter or a shot of a pair of feet on the high dive as a viewer gazes down into an Olympic pool.


When you want to generate intense emotions, set your viewers in the driver’s seat as you put them behind the lens of the delightful experience you’re offering.


Authentic Messaging


Finally, it’s essential to ask whether your images are truthful.


Can you deliver on the experience you promise in your advertising? Aesthetic is important, but it’s not enough to win over an audience on its own. Brand loyalists will only arise when they see your brand imagery as authentic to the experience your business can bring.


Compelling Images Create Community


Successful brand imagery can build an internal narrative and external community, prompting customers not just to “buy” your product but to “buy into” to your brand image.


Finding images that perfectly represents your brand is more than a strategy, it’s an essential part of your identity. Spark consumer confidence and generational loyalty as you mobilize fantastic images to shout your identity in unique, inspiring ways.

Friday, October 2, 2020

4 Reasons People Don't Buy from You (and quick-fix solutions that can help!)

Your product is perfectly aligned to meet customer needs.


Your doors are open, the sales team is ready, and your marketing is top-notch. Your employees believe in your mission and are passionate about coming to work each day, but . . . sales still seem a bit sluggish. Why? When people aren’t buying, you could have a range of possible problems.


Here are four potential snags with tweaks that could make the difference:


Problem: They Think the Price is Too High


Solution: Sell the Value


Is the price of your product too high?


This is a subjective opinion. An item is only worth the price someone is willing to pay for it, and if some people are willing to pay your price, there must be a good reason.


If you don’t make the cheapest product on the market, it’s your job to figure out why it is worth more. Do your homework. Find out in advance what your competitors’ prices are like, and what advantages your company brings. Instead of focusing on price, draw attention to the benefits of your service compared to competitors. Your product quality or customer service may be the major differentiator that cannot be replicated!


Whether it’s convenience, bundled service options, or incredible durability, price-sensitive shoppers are willing to pay more if they just know WHY.  


Problem: Decision Paralysis


Solution: Simplify the Process


Some people never master good decision-making skills.


Marketers often assume that the more choices they offer, the more likely customers will find just the right thing. However, research shows that there can be too much choice. When there is, consumers are less likely to buy anything at all (and if they do buy, they are less satisfied with their selection!).


Decision fatigue is real, and it causes many consumers to give up on purchasing. To circumvent this problem, list customer “favorites” on your website, combine items into a small number of “value-bundled” packages, or have customer service representatives walk people through decisions so they can make suggestions on the most suitable products.


Problem: Lack of Reviews


Solution: Ask Existing Clients for Testimonials


According to Nielsen research, 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.


People depend on reviews, and companies that publish testimonials dramatically increase the quality and quantity of their leads. Reviews not only help buyers make purchasing decisions, they also grow traffic and boost conversions.


To gather (and print) great testimonials, it’s important to ask clients for reviews directly, especially if you can do it face to face. People are easier to engage when they feel their opinion is valued. Instead of asking directly for a review, start with an open-ended, conversational approach. Try questions like, “what was it like before you had our product/service?” or, “what has exceeded your expectations since working with our company?” Testimonials will naturally flow from here.


Problem: Stopping Short a Sale


Solution: Ask for a Clear Commitment


When surveyed after non-sales situations, a high percentage of prospects say they were never asked to buy.


After pitching your product’s vision, benefits, or value, it’s time to take that ball to the hoop. Ask for a commitment. Clearly, concisely, and directly ask for their order, their money, or their business.


No matter what phrase is right for your business, the bottom line is this: you must ASK!


Simplify for Success


In a world that’s rife with competition, it’s crucial to pinpoint areas where your sales process is breaking down. Make the process from discovery to purchase as simple as possible, and don’t be afraid to close the sale.


In life and sales, sometimes you’ll only get what you dare to ask for!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Customer Trust: The Backbone of Your Business

It’s a small world, after all.


Though global population continues to expand, our connectivity is growing even faster. In 2019, the number of internet users worldwide stood at 4.13 billion, which means more than half of the global population is connected to the world wide web. The percentage of US adults who use social media increased from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019. And experts estimate most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day.


While the internet is a lifeline, it has also exposed the misbehavior and greed of many of the pillars we count on, leading to a unique paradox: today, more people are connected and fewer are trusted.


The Benefits of Trust


In this vacuum of mistrust, marketers find themselves on one of three paths:


1 -- Ignored


2 -- Sneaking around


3 -- Trusted


If you’re ignored, you can’t get far because you won’t earn much attention OR trust.


If you’re sneaky, you may gain followers, but not for long.


The third path – trust – is the only one that brings long-term benefits.


A trusted marketer earns loyalty by making promises, keeping them, and earning more loyalty. When the circumstances are right, that loyalty can become word-of-mouth recommendations or even tribal affiliation to your product or brand.


In a world that scans instead of reads, the best way to earn trust is through action. People remember what you did long after they forget what you said. When asked for a refund on a defective product, what do you do? When it comes to marketing, do your products hold up to the claims you make about them? When overloaded with new clients, do you put loyal customers on the back burner?


In a world of impersonal connections, you need to spend less time talking and more time doing: serving one customer at a time, day by day. Want to grow the currency of trust in your business? Consider options like these:


Improve Your Security


Make sure your customers feel safe when they shop with you.


Even if you aren’t selling your products online, customers will still visit your website, and the amount of safety they feel can play a significant role in how much they trust your brand.


Have a Strong Social Presence


People live online, and today many consumers equate a strong social media presence with relational authority.


The more active your brand’s social media pages are, the more likely it is that new customers will trust you. Equip your pages with striking images, company bio and contact info, and interactive content that meets customer needs. The higher your engagement, the deeper your relational roots will grow.


Under-promise and Over-deliver


Any time a customer feels deceived or manipulated, they’re likely to abandon your brand.


Don’t overestimate your capabilities! If it takes you a week to ship a product, tell your customers it takes two. If a product will last for 10 years, claim it will last eight. Happy customers are loyal customers; surprise them by going above and beyond what you’ve promised.


Make Your Brand More Personal


Treat your brand like it’s your business’s personality, giving it character and life. 


Don’t use scripts and formulaic responses; instead, encourage employees to speak from the heart, engaging customers like real people. This small change makes your brand seem more human than corporate, and can drastically influence positive impressions.


Always Be Available


Make sure your customers have multiple lines of contact for you at all times -- and if you have a dedicated account representative, give your clients that person's cell phone number in case of an emergency.


Finally, be consistent. The more consistent you are with your service and your brand, the more loyal your customers will be – and the stronger your reputation will grow.  

Friday, September 25, 2020

Build Enthusiasm with Gorgeous Print Catalogs

Do you have a favorite catalog?


In days past, the Sears Christmas edition or the Lana Lobell fashion catalogs were the birthplace of many shopping addictions.


But though these nostalgic beauties hold a special place in many hearts, catalogs certainly haven’t disappeared from today’s marketing landscape. Companies like L.L. Bean, Ikea, J. Crew, and Athleta continue to dominate sales through the distribution of printed catalogs.


And people enjoy reading them. According to USPS, 47% of people set aside catalogs to read later, and 84% of consumers said they genuinely enjoyed receiving unexpected catalogs from places they had previously shopped. Enthusiasm has soared – response rates from catalogs has increased 170% from 2004 to 2018! 


Using Hard Copy Catalogs in Your Omnichannel Marketing


With a decrease in printed mail, today’s paper catalog is primarily a marketing tool – one of maximum potential during the holiday season.


The most sophisticated retailers are continuously working to build a seamless omnichannel operation, and companies that integrate catalogs, websites, and physical stores can simplify the shopping experience while closing more sales.


Print advertising is a great compliment to your online sales platforms, because print marketing often prompts greater follow-through. BRAND United reports that 86% of shoppers bought an item online after seeing it in a printed catalog.


Want to weave together catalogs and online purchasing? Here’s one inspiring example of a killer omnichannel strategy.


Quadratic: Selling the Adventure


For 30 years, Quadratic has prided itself on providing Jeep enthusiasts with the best parts and accessories for their customers.


From Antenna kits to light bars, Quadratic is committed to providing parts and accessories for daily on- and off-road needs.


Today millions of people receive Quadratec’s printed catalog in the mail. Even though there are more products on the company’s website than in their catalog, Quadratec uses printed catalogs to demonstrate it is an authoritative brand leader. Jeep enthusiasts love “jeeping,” and there’s just something about a giant catalog that gets that adventurer’s heart pumping!


In combination with its print success, Quadratec has elevated digital marketing efforts. By creating a corresponding mobile app, Quadratec allows customers to scan each product in the catalog with a mobile device. Scanned items bring customers to that item’s specific page on the website, so customers can easily tag it for a wish list, add it to their shopping cart, or purchase it from their phone.


Is this effective? Absolutely. Since launching its first AR-enabled catalog, Quadratec has experienced a three percent sales boost, and its mobile app is used an average of 200,000 times each month.


A One-Two Punch


Direct mail meets customers where they live, and catalogs are a long-standing customer favorite.


Data shows 44 percent of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving direct mail marketing, which is 10 percent more than people who visit landing pages after receiving an email. And because catalogs are extremely engaging, people feel more confident about purchasing when they receive one.


David Naumann, vice president of marketing for BRP, noted studies that have shown people can spend upward of 20 minutes looking at catalogs compared to the seconds they might spend looking at product images displayed online:


"When you have that physical catalog, customers might ponder it longer, even write notes on it," he said. "It’s something you really can’t replicate in other media."


Want to explore catalog marketing options for your business? Visit us online today for a free quote!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Unique Fold Options for Your Marketing Masterpiece

Looking to add some finishing flair to your next marketing piece?


Unique, eye-catching folds offer so much room to flex your creativity! When creating your next masterpiece, here are some fun print folds to consider:


Sliding Message Sleeve Mailers


To fuel engagement with your prospects, try a die-cut envelope that peaks through to a sleeve mailer inside.


Upon first glance, readers see one message or image. But when they slip the inner card out of the envelope, a brilliant reveal appears from the back panel.  


Accordion Folds


Accordion folds are great because they fold down small but hold a great deal of information.


Accordion folds resemble the letter “Z” and zig-zag back and forth, dividing a page into thirds (or even sixths!). Use them for brochures, mini-booklets, or sticker-sealed mailers. The average accordion-folded sheet includes two folds and six panels of design space (front and back). Make the most of your real estate with this flexible, engaging design.


Poster Folds with a Zip Strip


Looking to send something large in a pocket-sized package?


Try a zip strip opener with an inner package that unfolds to a unique shape or size. Whether the folded section is wide and narrow or opens as an iron-cross brochure, this small package blooms bright for a big, memorable impact.


Roll Folds


Rolls folds consist of four or more panels that roll into each other.


Also known as a barrel fold, this option is perfect when you have a considerable amount of content but you need to keep the finished product as compact as possible. Roll folds also spark curiosity and depth as you reveal a new message or theme with each opening panel.


Exotic Folds


Like intricate origami, exotic folds are non-standard, completely unique folds created to a designer’s specifications.


Though they can be expensive, exotic folds allow you to stretch the limits in unforgettable ways. From a flower-petaled postcard to a custom-printed folding box, these highly tailored pieces will give your media a fancy, luxurious edge.


Pop-up Folds


When you want to add extra dimension to your booklet or brochure, go 3D with a die-cut and fold technique that creates a pop-up feature from within.


Pop-up pieces should instantly pique customer interest with a direct focus on the product or service you are promoting. Examples might include:



  • A performing arts invitation that reveals a pop-out “stage” once the card is unfolded

  • A fold-over mailer or brochure designed to look like a briefcase, which springs open to deliver your unforgettable offer

  • An architect’s brochure that brings to life a 3D city skyline, with revitalized storefronts in the center

A Shape That Tells Your Story


No matter what fold or design you choose, remember your story should play the starring role.


Choose a focused narrative and weave it through your imagery, tabs, pullouts, pop-up text, or brochure copy. From fun folds to creative exterior packaging, great designs will blend all these elements to share your clever, cohesive story. 


Want to go a cut above the competition? Leverage your printed piece’s shape to add character or dimension people just won’t forget!


 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Share Your Brand Story to Create Distinct, Authentic Connections

In a noisy marketplace, businesses must work smarter to grab prospects and lock in loyalty.


But the desire for relationship is mutual. According to Cheetah Mobile marketing director Josh Ong, customers don’t just want to buy, they want to buy into something:


“Millennials are more likely than any other demographic to be brand loyal. But millennials don’t choose which brand to be loyal to at random, instead, they are highly attuned to the story that a brand tells, as well as the values that brand exhibits.”


No one can resist a good story! Need proof? Here’s a fun brand story from eyewear retailer Warby Parker:


Warby was founded as a rebellious upstart to tackle the problem of expensive eyewear because of a frustrating personal experience. During a backpacking trip, one of Warby’s founders lost his glasses. Since he was a broke grad student, he couldn’t afford to replace them, and he spent the rest of the semester squinting.


By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, Warby now provides higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price. The company believes buying glasses should be easy, fun, and should leave money in your pocket. Warby also believes everyone has a right to see, and they partner with nonprofits like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.


Warby sums up its brand story in this simple phrase: good eyewear, good outcome.  


4 Traits of Captivating Brand Stories


A brand story is a valuable marketing asset.


It sharpens your values, shapes your message, and guides your sales. Here are common traits of brands with especially effective stories:


1. Start with Problems


From the beginning, successful brands have identified market needs or specific injustices.


Sharing their journey in confronting or solving these issues builds a very compelling narrative. The founder often retains an active role and holds a starring role in the company’s ever-evolving story.


2. Embrace Underdog Status


Everyone loves an underdog.


Brands that are (or were) on the outsider are considered disruptors. Their adventures in confronting the establishment make them easy to love and fun to listen to.


3. Foster Niche Lifestyle Communities


Brands that have a clear identity and purpose can to form more meaningful connections that result in truly devoted fans.


Make your brand integral to the lifestyle your prospects covet. When emotional attachments to brands are built, this connection often starts with a shared conviction or a particular life vision.


4. Stand for Something Specific


Most people aren’t particularly loyal to a company; instead, they are loyal to what that company stands for.


A recent study published by the Harvard Business Review showed that, of those consumers that had a strong relationship with a brand or business, 64 percent cited “shared values” as the primary reason. Companies that stand for more than just dollar signs will forge emotional connections with their customers.


Whether its fostering sustainability or giving back to specific communities, a commitment to social good can make your brand story more authentic and memorable.


Share Your Story Today


What is your brand story?


You may believe you don’t have a story to tell, but that’s just not true! Every firm can share a portrait of who they are and why they exist. This may include your mission, inspiration, or goals and it can be shared through direct mail, photography, banners, blogs, and any medium that authentically touches people.


Stories create something your clients want to be part of, building confidence and receptivity. People buy into what they trust, so find your story and share it today!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Snag Younger Customers: How to Build Connections with Generation Z

With the oldest of Generation Z graduating and entering the workforce, it’s time to set your sights on this powerful consumer demographic.


Who are these Gen Z individuals, and what is the most effective way to reach them? While many media companies have written them off as “screen addicts,” Gen Z is actually very nimble, engaged, and unique.


Here are a few facts to consider:



  • As of 2020, Gen Z makes up more than 40% of U.S. consumers.

  • Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote.

  • Generation Z represents the leading edge of the country’s changing racial and ethnic makeup. 52% are non-Hispanic white, 25% are Hispanic, 14% are black, 6% are Asian.

  • Gen Z logs on to social media for roughly two hours and 55 minutes each day. This is almost an hour longer than the average millennial.

Want to engage younger prospects? Here are five tips to consider:


1. Diverse images are extremely impactful


Gen Z has a natural awareness of how diversity is depicted (or overlooked) in your media.


Whether it’s custom photography or variety in your testimonials, it will seem strange (or even offensive) if your media is too homogenized.


2. Gen Z loves a good deal


Estimated at having $4 billion in discretionary spending, the buying power of Gen Z is significant.


But having grown up during the 2008 recession, Gen Z has an innate appreciation for a bargain. Gen Z will hunt for value in two ways: buying from inexpensive brands or purchasing expensive items with durability guarantees. Generous warranties and engaging in-store experiences are also a way to offer them more bang for their buck.


3. Gen Z was born social


Over 91% of Gen Z kids have a digital footprint, and Gen Z spends more time on mobile devices than Millennials.


Gen’s Z’s favorite sites are YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Because they are so visual, whenever possible you should “show,” not just “tell.” Image-based advertising and short-videos are especially effective!


4. Real is best


Gen Z people seek uniqueness in all walks of life, and particularly through the brands they buy from.


Gen Z-ers prefer brands that are authentic: 82% said they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, and 72% said they're more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. Product quality, positive reviews, and customer service are the top three characteristics that fortify their trust in a brand.


5. Give them a voice or a role


Given how socially aware this generation is, remember Gen Z-ers love opportunities to contribute, create, lead, and learn.


Whether you allow them to personalize your product or you prioritize ethical marketing (like partnering with nonprofits or standing for a cause), Gen Z appreciates buying from brands that give them a role in the journey.


Help Them Live in Person


Finally, remember that Gen Z longs to engage, and this doesn’t have to be online. 


A new A.T. Kearney study reports that 81% of Gen Z respondents prefer to purchase in stores, 73% like to discover new products in stores, and 58% browse in-store selections to disconnect from social media and live in the moment.


From gorgeous window banners to sharp point-of-purchase displays, sensory impact plays a principal role in creating the right mood for an impulse purchase.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Envelopes: The Humble Hero of Direct Mail

Who doesn’t love a good party? 


As we move toward year-end holiday gatherings, many of us look forward to gathering with friends and family. However, a party is only successful if people actually COME, and most people attend for one primary reason -- they were invited!


Attractive Envelopes Invite People to “Come on In” 


The same principle is true in business. 


A mailing is only as effective as its response rate, and an envelope serves as a great invitation to dig deeper. Custom envelopes are a simple tool that dramatically increases reader response. In a world of distraction, envelopes serve as a soft introduction, inviting people to “come on in” and experience more of what you have to offer. Thoughtful, creative envelopes will entice people to dial into (and not discard!) the message you have carefully crafted.


Do you want to expand your business by reaching new prospects? Current direct mail statistics are exciting! The 2018 Direct Mail Association Response Rate Report revealed household list response rates are around nine percent, significantly up from 2017, when it was 5.1%. The prospect list response rate was 4.9%, also showing a significant increase compared to the 2.9% the previous year.


What’s contributing to this spike? Technology. Thanks to technological advancements, mail marketers are gathering more data about consumer behavior. On average, response rates increase by 30% when direct mail is paired with digital targeting. 


When you send mail to people who actually look forward to it, you’ll prompt much greater interest! 


4 Keys to Getting Your Envelopes Opened


When you’re ready to create your custom envelope, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Oversized envelopes have the highest response rate


Larger envelopes prompt a reader response rate of around five percent, the highest of any direct mail format.


When you break from the norm, people will notice. Experiment with a wide variety of shapes and sizes, colors, and textures (linen, cockle, matte, coated, glossy, or metallic). Make your envelope stand out from the other envelopes people receive every day!


Follow the three-second rule


When designing your mailing, remember the envelope has about three seconds to engage readers.


Grab attention with enticing product photos or short teaser prompts (like, “your free gift is here!”). You pay for the whole envelope, so why not use it? Use every inch for impact by including your logo, taglines, or back-flap branding.


Experiment with the “extras”


There are so many ways to build curiosity with your envelope.


Have fun with options like these: 



  • Try a peek-through window featuring a color photograph of your product, a membership card, or contest entry form.

  • Embellish your envelopes with foil stamping or embossing to feature an anniversary or warranty seal. 

  • Drive engagement by using a zip-strip opener, a peel-off sticker, or a pull-off repositionable note to encourage reader retention and reaction. The longer your prospects engage with your envelope, the more likely they will be to open it. 

Put the reader First


When crafting a sales pitch, many marketers focus more on the product than its audience.


But readers are not primarily concerned with how slick your idea is, they are concerned with how great it will make their lives. Envelope taglines or images should concisely present a key benefit your product brings to consumers.


Packaging Matters


Great packaging can increase response rates and enhance emotional connections with your clients. 


Are your envelopes offering people your best? In a world of visual clutter, excellent envelopes are a vital component of every marketing mix. Be sure your envelopes carry a message that’s classy and confident, just like you. Interested in envelopes for your next project - https://www.printitincolor.com/printing/envelopes/ 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Why Direct Mail Postcards are Worth Every Penny

Although postcards are one of today’s beloved print pieces, they had a humble beginning.


The earliest postcard dates back to 1840 when an English man named Theodore Hook sent one to himself. By 1861, the US Congress allowed privately printed cards, weighing one ounce or under, to be sent through the mail. That year, John P. Charlton copyrighted the first postcard, and by 1901 postcards were a regular part of mailed communication.


Generate Huge Exposure with Just One Mailing


Fast forward a century. 


Postcards are now an essential marketing option for many businesses, and with good reason. These versatile tools represent a huge opportunity for companies that do it right.


And the results are compelling. One real estate agent makes $5,000 to $20,000 in commissions every time she runs a direct mail campaign. A Texas dentist added six figures in new revenue thanks to one mailing. And a financial services firm spent a few thousand dollars to net dozens of new clients with an average value of $1,500 each.


Why are postcards so effective?


According to UnitedMail, 79 percent of people act on direct mail immediately (while only 45 percent do so for email). More than two-thirds of consumers open all of their mail, even easily recognizable junk. And this is especially true for young people! According to the U.S. Postal Service, 36 percent of people under age 30 look forward to checking their mail, and 37 percent of the coveted 25- to 35-year-old demographic immediately read their mail.


Since postcards are so visually accessible, they are read frequently and generate huge exposure. When businesses target specific audiences and link to tailored landing pages on their website, they can spark considerable revenue with just one mailing.


Postcards generate fast results, and they work for any business. As long as you have a clear marketing strategy and great graphic design, postcards will work for you!


4 Keys for Designs that Deliver


When you are ready to launch your direct mail postcard, here are four keys for generating compelling, actionable designs:


1. Design with Your Audience in Mind


If there’s one mistake common to most marketers, it is this: assuming your audience knows the terminology of your industry.


Whether you’re a financial advisor or a chiropractor, frame your ideas in words that would make sense to anyone. 


2. Paint a Picture of the Problem You Can Solve


People won’t read every word you share, so don’t bury the lead.


Immediately communicate the problem your business can fix. Center your writing around how your product can make people’s lives easier or better.


3. Use Simple, Crisp Graphics


The image on your postcard should be instantly recognizable.


While it may be fun to try something clever, this often confuses the audience. Since you have mere seconds to communicate an idea, your image should reinforce the concept in a strong, obvious way.


4. Add Bulleted Lists and Distinct Next Steps


Readers won’t engage with longer text, so shoot for punchy subheadings or bulleted items that clarify value.


People want more than just a phone number or a web link. Be specific with CTAs like, “subscribe to ___ for ______” or “call today for your free consultation!” 


Let Our Team Mail for You


Ready to expand your reach with a focused direct mail campaign?


Save on stress and expense by consolidating your creative processes. Our full-service design specialists can provide the artwork, the printing, and even the mailing services. To get a quote, go to www.PrintitinColor.com or give us a call at 864-882-3609 today! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Generate Innovative Solutions with Strategic Design Thinking

Several years ago, a truck driver tried to pass under a low bridge.


Underestimating the truck height, the driver became firmly lodged under the bridge, unable to move his vehicle forward or backward. Emergency workers and city engineers gathered onsite, debating whether they should dismantle the truck or chip away parts of the bridge. Each proposed a solution most aligned with their area of expertise.


Just then, a boy walked by, observed the intense debate, and made a casual comment. “Why not just let the air out of the tires?”


When the solution was tested, the truck squeezed forward with ease, suffering only slight damage to his cab. The specialists were amazed at the solution and also by the fact that they were initially blind to an answer a child could easily recognize. 


A Human-Centric Way of Thinking


This story symbolizes the struggles we face when the most obvious solutions are hard to recognize.


That’s just one reason strategic design thinking has become so prevalent in business. Design thinking is a solution-based, human-centric approach to solving problems, one that embodies both a particular way of thinking and a collection of hands-on methods. In business, design thinking allows you to look at things through your customers’ eyes while devising meaningful, profitable solutions. 


Design thinking can be helpful because it pushes you to challenge existing assumptions, redefine problems, and uncover options. It is especially useful for creatively devising alternatives and prototypes with a team. While there can be three to seven phases in this process, many people find five modes to be particularly helpful. These stages do not have to follow any specific order and can occur in parallel or repeat iteratively.


5 Stages to Shaping Nimble, Profitable Ideas


Here’s how to implement the five-stage process of design thinking with your team.


1. Observe with Empathy


The first step in design thinking is to empathize with your clients and partners, investing in conversations, and identifying hidden needs by living the customer experience


During the 2020 pandemic, one design-build storage company noticed a significant uptick in interest for luxury storage sheds (can you say “man cave?”). Before pumping out products, team leaders spent considerable time with prospects, architects, and manufacturers. By looking at things from the customers’ perspective, the storage specialists became intimately acquainted with changing markets and how demand should drive innovation.


2. Define the Problem


Once you genuinely live and understand your customers’ needs, you can redefine the problem and approach it from different angles.


Through conversations with many families, designers from the storage company realized that a post-pandemic need was not for increased storage but for alternate living spaces that were affordable, durable, and even portable.


3. Ideate with Your Team


The next step is to develop solutions by involving all internal and external team members.


The wider your base, the more imaginative you can be. Creative sessions led our Midwest storage specialists to develop prefabricated backyard offices, “granny” pods, and even elegant miniature lake cabins that could be delivered and assembled on site.


4. Prototype Rapidly


After quickly building and releasing designs, it is important to make your ideas as nimble and customizable as possible.


Whether you add a “Most Popular Items” section to your website or you give customers access to “build it yourself” 3D configurator software, speed and wide-ranging accessibility are key.


5. Test and Validate 


Design thinking is an adaptable process.


Results from prototype tests may show that you’ve misinterpreted customer behaviors and needs in steps one and two. That’s ok! From here, you can return to previous steps and tweak solutions so they are best tailored for current needs. View every blueprint as a living document, and keep working to capture the right opportunities in the right way. 


As you test solutions with your team, you will unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve the end product.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Why Carbonless Forms Make a Great Tech-Free Solution

When you “cc” someone on an email, do you ever think about what this abbreviation actually means?


In 1801, Pellegrino Turri invented carbon paper to provide ink for his mechanical typing machine, which was one of the first typewriters. Five years later, carbon paper was patented and released to the general public. Carbon paper soon became a primary method for rapidly reproducing documents or booklets, and today its legacy has remained in the header of emails. The “cc” abbreviation stands for “carbon copies,” or copies intended for recipients other than the principal addressee.


Since Turri’s day, carbonless forms have largely replaced their early ancestor. Carbonless copy paper has micro-encapsulated dye or ink on the back side of the top sheet, and a clay coating on the front side of the bottom sheet. When pressure is applied (from writing or impact printing), the dye capsules rupture and react with the clay to form a permanent mark duplicating the markings made to the top sheet. In the span of seconds, intermediary layers act as multipart stationery, adding flexibility and convenience to any business exchange.


Simplify and Save


In many industries, carbonless forms work better than electronic documents, and they may be a perfect fit for your business.


Carbonless forms offer a speedy solution that is ideal for capturing handwritten signatures or personal notes taken during an order or appointment. Want to ditch the unnecessary equipment or the headaches of expensive tech repairs? These forms are especially handy for team members who are frequently in the field, when you’re working face-to-face with clients, or when time and accuracy are essential.


Where can you put carbonless forms to work? The possibilities abound! Try these sensible custom pads for:



  • Invoices or inventory tracking

  • Design drafts or sales estimates

  • Onsite service calls

  • Patient intake forms

  • Inspections, permits, or delivery confirmations

  • As a customizable receipt for your small business

Carbonless forms are used in a wide range of industries, including mechanical, agriculture, funeral services, transportation, home improvement, auctions, and more. They are great for any situation where you want a simple business solution or a quick reproduction of up to four simultaneous copies.


And just because these forms are practical doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Experiment with bold graphics, two colors of ink, custom finishes, or three-hole drilling to allow for archiving in binders or booklets. Sequential numbering will enable you to easily track your transactions, or you can also send varying designs to print multiple for types in the same size and finish.


Get Your Forms ASAP


Ready to get started? Go carbonless with this convenient, budget-friendly option. Craft smart, rapid-return designs that will hold up for years.


Give us a call at Print It! for your free estimate at 864-882-3609 or browse to www.PrintitinColor.com!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

How to Keep Your Cool in Pressure-Packed Situations

In July of 2020, more than four million people savored the chance to watch live Major League Baseball on the opening night of a historic 60 game series.


Due to the intensity of the abbreviated coronavirus season, each game matters immensely. By winning the first game, a team instantly has nearly a 3-game lead over the team that it beats. With the number of season games shrinking by half, every homerun and strikeout is intensified. Only those teams that can perform well under pressure can pull out a short season victory.


Many people in the business world are facing a similar pressure. 


Corporate teams have been forced to adopt tighter timelines, operate with a slimmer margin, or do more with fewer teammates. How will you respond to that pressure? And how can you encourage those around you to avoid panic or stress?


Here are three tips to guide you through moments of high intensity:


1. Create a Prioritization Strategy


Make a list of monthly tasks and then assess each item. 


Ask questions like: is this item important to me? Will it relieve pressure or clear space in my day? Does it move our team forward? If not, look at delegating, postponing, or eliminating this task. 


2. Focus on the Fundamentals


You never really become better in the moment. 


In moments of immense stress, it is easy to make foolish decisions or go for the "Hail Mary" option. With so much uncertainty, playing a wild card can be a costly mistake. Instead of looking for a magic bullet, focus more on the most basic, time-tested strategies for success. Whether this is following up on prospects, or just a willingness to make the high-percentage "predictable" move again and again, stick with strategies that have historically brought success. 


3. Change How You Think About Pressure


"Pressure is a privilege."


Tennis great Billie Jean King has been credited with this quote, and there is a reason it hits home for so many.


One of the most daunting parts about working in tense conditions is the temptation to psyche yourself out. Sports psychologists help athletes overcome this by using visualization of positive outcomes. Before a match or competition, top players coin short phrases describing who they are at their best: "I am consistent, I am intimidating, and I never give up without a fight." When stressful moments come, athletes don't focus on the worst ("don't strike out, don't strike out") but consciously visualize success. When confidence flows, players are more likely to rise to their potential.


Another way to visualize success is by breaking a mammoth task into manageable pieces so you can actually "see" how the work could be completed. Best-selling author and business coach Dave Anderson says people can face overwhelming situations by breaking their response into manageable pieces:  


"More often than not, we worry about some imaginary catastrophe that never happens, and that tends to render us powerless," Anderson said. "Focus on one aspect of the task at a time, instead of looking at it in its totality. If you make a list of every step and use a "paint-by-numbers" approach, you'll be fine."


Resistance Training Builds Strength


Whether it is demands from your boss or supply chain obstructions, every person has obstacles that threaten to derail them from success.


But ultimately, stressful situations can push your performance to levels you could never reach otherwise. As University of Tulsa psychologist Jennifer Ragsdale says, "without challenge comes boredom. A life with zero stress is not a life worth living."

Friday, August 21, 2020

Use Content Marketing to Bring Fresh Life to Your Marketing Mix

Armstrong Garden Supply was eager to grow name recognition and pump up spring specials. 


Hoping to grow their reputation as a year-round "solutions specialist" for lawn and landscape, they generated a list of common customer questions and set out to proactively answer them. Typically, clients were uncertain about things like when to water, types of fertilizer, pot sizing, and best planting practices. 


Armed with this information, Armstrong's generated an oversized postcard featuring spring specials on one side and a plant care infographic on the other. This brought relevant advice to attract a very engaged target market: customers who were curious!


It's All About THEM


Content marketing can bring fresh life to your business! 


This "you-centered" form of communication shifts your marketing from a message focus to a people focus, building trust and driving profitable consumer action. While social media and videos are popular forms of content marketing, often businesses overlook the opportunity to bring valuable content through print. Want to get started? Consider clever infographics, how-to postcards, or a printed snippet of your blog to lead them online as regular subscribers. 


Or to expand your options, here are five other possibilities:


1. Printed Checklists or Magnets


Checklists are a simple way to tailor content for specific customer groups.


For example, one HVAC specialist provided area homeowners with an efficient tool for making smart decisions about airflow service issues. This seasonal checklist, divided into quarterly task charts, served as a worksheet for customers to stay current on changing filters, cleaning coils, and scheduling maintenance.


Checklists like these can serve as a handy magnet, a tearaway calendar, or a sales folder supplement.


2. Point-of-Purchase Bookmarks or Inserts


Grab-and-go options like bookmarks are easy to include in any envelope, package, or display.


When content is tailored to customer needs, it immediately sparks curiosity, so highlight benefits like savings (of time, money, or hassle) or increases (in health, comfort, or convenience). Customized solutions give people the confidence to try out your business!


3. Magazines


People are naturally image-oriented, and sleek full-color magazines are hard to resist.


If your content is specific enough, you can build a passionate subscription base. Even if you have a core of 200 people, if they are enthusiastic and loyal, they are definitely worth the investment.


4. Booklets


Not ready for an entire magazine?


A booklet is a flexible alternative. People are attracted to content that educates or equips them with a skill, and booklets are a simple way to extend value and practical help. Whether it's financial counseling, vacation planning, home improvement tutorials, or product-focused cookbooks, a booklet might be just the ticket for engaging your audience. 


5. Newsletters


When you want to grow your prospect list or stay connected to your clients, nothing will "glue" customers to your company like a dynamic, consistently mailed newsletter.


Newsletters are fun to read and naturally customer-focused. From a "Did You Know?" educational element to a coupon that offers a legitimate incentive, newsletters build credibility and rapport that will never get lost in their inbox.


Pro-Tip: No matter what kind of print content you use, include a visible invitation that calls them to act as they finish reading. Try phrases like "Activate ____ Today," "Claim Your Discount," or "Call for a Free Estimate!"


Print Builds Long-Lasting Partnerships


Ready to spring ahead with your marketing mix? 


Show customers that their relationship with your business is not merely transactional, but exists as a partnership that extends beyond the sale. Serve them with great content, and they will return the favor with their wallet and their loyalty!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sell Yourself with a Winning Elevator Pitch

Can you introduce yourself or your business in a brief, compelling way?


An elevator pitch does precisely that. While the origins of this term are debated, the name reflects the idea of a quick speech that could be given in the span of an elevator ride (thirty seconds to two minutes).


An elevator pitch is a short description of an idea, product, or company that explains the concept in a way that any listener could understand. This engaging summary could be used to entice an investor, to explain an idea, or to sell your services. Done right, your pitch can help you land a job or connect with prospective customers.


It can take time to solidify your pitch, but here are four tips that can help:


1. Build a Connection


The start of a conversation is a perfect time to establish a relationship.


Begin by introducing yourself and, if possible, build off a previous connection or shared experience. As you share, try to reference your credentials, training, or something that differentiates you from competitors.


Here are a few engaging openers:


--How does your organization recruit new employees?


--Can I tell you about the best mobile tools for training your staff remotely?


--Let me tell you about the time I took our products all the way to South America for ___.


2. Introduce Your Company or Career Goals


To move the conversation forward, draft a one-sentence story that answers the question, “what do you/your business do?”


Since listeners are inherently self-focused, make sure your account highlights what you can do for your prospect, including the value you can deliver or the problems your business can solve.


If you’re selling yourself, remember to outline your big picture vision. Say something like, “I’m looking to land a role in marketing,” or “I’m hoping to relocate to ___ for _____.” When a person understands your role or goals, they are in a better position to help to connect you to someone who can.


3. Highlight Your Unique Value or Achievements


After establishing who you are, now it’s time to shine.


Point to any unique selling points or personal achievements that make you (or your business) stand out. Back this up with evidence or testimonials from satisfied customers. Anticipate potential skepticism ad head this off with facts, examples, or trustworthy referrals.


4. Ask a Question


As you close your introduction, be sure to ask an open-ended question.


This can help engage the person in a longer conversation or open the door for you to trade business cards or follow up with a company brochure or a personal resume. 


Here are a few compelling closers:


“Here is my contact information, can I get your email and follow up with you later?”


“Could you connect me with your business manager so I can share more about what I could offer your team?”


“If you have time, I would love to meet again to chat more.”


Practice Makes Perfect


It takes time to grow confidence, so hone and refine your speech over time.


Most people will go through multiple drafts before settling on the words that are just right. And depending on your audience, your pitch may be slightly different each time. Remember, the most potent conversations are those whose subject matter is highly relevant to the listener.


­­Be upbeat and flexible and you’ll make connections like a pro!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Embrace Conflict and Diversity to Grow the Strongest Possible Teams

2020 has been a time of unrest, listening, and re-evaluating priorities.


Businesses have been particularly challenged to examine their own biases and to proactively seek the well-being of all people. While topics of diversity and inclusion can be difficult to navigate, strong leaders recognize that a variety of opinions and backgrounds bring a better result.


At P&G, this mindset drives leaders to embrace conflicting opinions. To create an inclusive environment, supervisors try not to shy away from disagreements or heated discussions:


“Accessing diverse points of view is vital in creating optimum strategies and plans,” said Geraldine Huse, CEO & chairman of the board. “An inclusive leader creates an environment where disagreement is viewed positively. I have learned from experience that the more diverse the team, the more debate and disagreement we have and the better the outcome . . . Listening to people, understanding and solving problems collectively, taking advantage of all the diverse experience – this is what makes an inclusive leader successful.”


Leadership is Influence


No factor plays a bigger role in creating a company’s culture than its leadership. 


Many people think of leadership as a top-down, closed circle of directors. But real leadership is influence, so scientists describe leadership differently. Specifically, leaders are people who can navigate a psychological process that enables individuals to improve collective actions. The best teams are comprised of people who set aside individual, selfish agendas to work as a cohesive unit. Here, groups achieve something powerful they could never accomplish alone.


If you want to develop effective, influential leaders, collaboration is key. While there is no simple method for building an inclusive corporate culture, here are three traits you can encourage in yourself and others.


Humility


Being in charge doesn’t mean you are right.


Read that sentence again, because we all need to hear it! One of the primary reasons you’ll fail to grow as a leader is your temptation toward pride. Just because you feel confident about something doesn’t mean you couldn’t be wrong. Humble leaders are willing to listen to others, to admit weakness, and to change their minds.


Courage


People who influence others are those who drive change.


But this can be very uncomfortable! While it is rarely convenient to challenge the status quo, innovation and diversity can’t flourish in static environments. In particular, courageous leaders are clear on their values and principles, but they are brave enough to do things differently. As Dr. Carol Dweck once said, the word FAIL means “First Attempt In Learning.”


Courageous leaders can walk away from unproductive situations, and they view diversity as an opportunity rather than a challenge.


Curiosity


Leaders are learners, and no trait is as foundational for growth as curiosity.


Curious leaders are interested in other people and don’t shy away from those different than them. They are eager to understand why people think the way they do, and they aren’t afraid to engage with those who disagree.


To be a curious learner, ask a lot of questions (even dumb questions!). Work to suspend your embedded attitudes, experiences, or assumptions, and lean into a mental or emotional state where things “might” fail. Allow people to explore imaginary outcomes with phrases like, “could it be?” or “what if?” Then listen without judgment to learn.


Fuel Synergy From Diversity


Do you want to build a culture where everyone can thrive?


Leaders who can create a strong synergy out of diverse (or even opposite!) individual elements will embrace conflict and welcome different perspectives. By reducing the homogeneity of groupthink, you will maximize collaboration, encourage personal and corporate well-being, and keep your decision-making biases in check.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Communicate Excellence with Vibrant Printed Posters and Signs

One glance is truly all it takes, and recent eye-tracking studies demonstrate how quickly first impressions happen.


Dr. Hong Sheng, assistant professor of technology at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, employed eye-tracking software to analyze and scan response patterns as students viewed website screenshots. Subjects averaged merely 180 milliseconds on a particular section before moving on. (For a reference, 185 milliseconds is about the time it takes for a helicopter rotor to make one full rotation).


Sheng also found it took people less than two-tenths of a second to form first impressions that significantly affected outcomes:


“The longer the participants stayed on the page, the more favorable their impressions were,” Sheng said. “First impressions are important and . . . [these impressions] can determine whether that user forms a favorable or unfavorable view of that organization.”


Big Statements Win Business


If a website glance can have such an impact, how much more will a large-scale display? 


Research shows that people are 70% more likely to remember a brand advertised in print as opposed to online, and large-scale posters and signs are a logical, cost-effective way to spark interest. No matter what product or service you are promoting, a perfectly placed sign can stop people in their tracks. Thanks to their size and bold colors, there’s no doubt that your vivid images will meet people where they are and naturally stick in viewers’ minds.


Printed posters and signs demonstrate that you are vibrant and capable. Signs that appear in public places radiate confidence, making your business seem more creative and trustworthy. For example, one Health and Information study showed that posters were among the best ways to increase knowledge, change attitudes, and alter behaviors. A well-designed poster shows you do things with excellence, and people are in good hands with you!


And signs aren’t just static. Large scale displays can be customized to include a coupon or a quick-response (QR) code, leading your prospects to your website, landing page, or even a creative video advertisement. From explaining complicated processes to posing a question that someone absolutely MUST find the answer for, interactive graphics are a great way to engage bystanders or snag curious prospects.


Whether you exhibit one poster or sign or display a whole row, big displays get big results!


A Fast Track to Success


Ready to get started?


Check out our online ordering options! Here you can design online, re-order from your existing products library, or submit a custom design. Plug into creative concepts like these:


--Use big color posters as art reproductions, event features, service menus, or promotional collectibles


--Create patterns of simple posters to build a striking, geometric display


--Add frames, cardboard or foam backing, or swivel display mounting for stability  


--Extend your poster’s lifespan by adding a durable laminate coating


Need a jump start? Contact us at Print It! today about full-service graphic design - 864-882-3609 or www.PrintitinColor.com/services/#graphic-design  We’ll work hard, so you don’t have to!

Friday, August 7, 2020

What to Do When You're Tempted to Give Up on Your Business

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”


- NFL Coach Vince Lombardi


 


Should I give up?


It’s the question that hits every aspiring leader at some point. It’s a seed of doubt rooted deep in our emotions and our identities as humans.


As an entrepreneur, you will continuously face discouragement that threatens to cheat you out of hope and possibility. When you are tempted to quit on your business, what should you do?


Rest is Best


While there are many things you can do to combat discouragement, one of the best things is also the simplest: REST.


Making decisions when you are fatigued or depressed can have long-lasting consequences. A pessimistic outlook can shape the trajectory of a decision, leading to poor outcomes down the road. And weariness has real effects: one study found that U.S. clinicians were 26% more likely to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics to patients during the fourth hour of work on a typical day.


When you feel beat down or uncertain, get a few good nights of sleep, take a vacation, or focus on a different aspect of a challenging project for a bit. Taking time to replenish your emotional and mental resources is one of the best decisions you can make.


Look for Opportunities


When you only focus on problems, the result is restlessness, anxiety, and ulcers.


Instead, push yourself to look for opportunities. In the COVID-19 season, that’s what many businesses are doing.


Sugarbird Sweets and Tea, a California-based scone specialist, grounded their business in selling sweets and teas wholesale to restaurants and hotels. But once stay-at-home orders were issued, these catering orders dried up and clients disappeared:


“Within three weeks, we were down 95 percent of our revenue,” said Kei Okumura, founder and owner of Los Angeles-based Sugarbird Sweets. “We had to quickly pivot to support and provide our services to consumers, direct.”


Sugarbird made an intentional shift from catering to individual online orders. This meant upgrading their platforms and shipping logistics to better serve current and future customers. Okumera says that, though this has been challenging, she sees the rapid increase in online presence as a push toward growth: 


“I think it’s a good thing—I think it’s a great thing,” Okumura said about going online. “If I could ship this nationwide with hubs across the nation, so I can do two-day shipping to New York or to the Midwest, that would be fantastic.”


While this season is demanding, it can push every entrepreneur to tighten their business plan and drop any distractions.


Reconnect with Your Why


People are most tempted to quit when their business isn’t making money, or it’s just not fun anymore.


A business won’t survive long if enjoyment or profit are the only things driving you. So, when you’re feeling weary, re-examine the greater meaning that motivates you. Get with other trusted friends and talk through questions like these:



  • What do we love to do?

  • What was the difference we set out to make in people’s lives through this business?

  • How does our company or idea bring distinct value, comfort, or joy?

  • Why is our company unique?

The Heart of Every Entrepreneur


While ideas come and go, entrepreneurship is an identity.


To be an entrepreneur is to declare that your mission is to create extraordinary value in the world. Businesses are just vehicles for that value creation, so while the outward form of your business may change, your heart as an entrepreneur will not.