Friday, March 27, 2020

Why Custom Notepads are a Perfect Promotional Tool

Want to give your business a gift that keeps giving?


You can do this by giving gifts to other people. According to the ACI 2019 Impressions study, promotional products bring some of the highest rates of return on advertising, trumping all other forms of media. Consumers surveyed said they were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a favorable opinion of promotional products compared to online advertising, and consumers under 55 preferred a promotional product message over EVERY other advertising medium (including print, online, or traditional mass media).


Data shows the average household in the U.S. owns 30 promotional items, which means if there are 120 million households in America, over three billion company logos are floating around at any moment!


Looking for a fun but practical promo gift for your clients and prospects? Custom printed notepads are a great, economical option. Notepads are designed for utility and flexibility, meaning people can take them anywhere and will certainly use them. Since notepads are durable and easy to distribute, they’re great for trade show giveaways, sales rep gifts, presentation folder inserts, or fridge magnet marketing.


Making the Most of Your Custom Notepads


When you are ready to maximize the ad potential of a custom notepad, here are some ideas for making the most of your design:


Define Your Key Concept


Not every notepad is created equal, so you should decide upfront what your design concept will be.


Do you want a stand-alone desk pad with a hilarious 3D appearance (like this hilarious “hair thinning” tearaway Pantogar notepad)? Perhaps a vintage cover or a sparkly flip pad? Whether you want simple sticky notes or an artistic journal, defining your concept will clarify details about paper selection, line guides, and binding.


Strive for Consistent Branding


Because clients will use your notepad over and over, this is a very tangible way to build brand awareness.


Consistent color schemes, fonts, and logos all build your brand and strengthen the associations people have with your business. While you may be tempted to stray from your standard branding guidelines for a promotional pad, this can be unwise.


Put Them to Work Yourself


While many professionals give away notebooks, many fail to use notepads for their own needs.


Notepads can leave lasting impressions on your associates. Not only can they be used for notetaking or strategizing, but they are great for casual correspondence too. Think about how often you jot notes to send internally or externally. Why not do this with your own customized marketing tool? Notebooks offer a subtle strategy for increasing brand credibility.


Consider Custom Photo Options


What is more memorable than a photo?


When you want to add extra personalization, consider a photo banner on top or a transparent full-page photo backdrop for each page. People resonate with pictures, and when they connect to an image, they’re engaging with your business.


Overcome the ordinary and try something unique with image-oriented notepads!


Keep Your Name at Their Fingertips


When you want to grab hold of customers, make it easy for them to grab hold of YOU with a pocket-sized promotional notepad.


Notepads are economical, memorable, practical, and fun. Build on-going exposure as you keep your name at their fingertips with this helpful, handy tool. Contact us to learn more today!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Care

Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes admitting them.


If we’re honest, business professionals hate owning up to mistakes because of pride, embarrassment, or fear that customers will leave. But denying weaknesses only magnifies awkward situations and hurts your company’s reputation. Dealing proactively with problems will strengthen credibility and spark improvements that benefit your brand.


When Micheal Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey founded Barefoot Cellars, they started in a laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse. Knowing next to nothing, they made many mistakes. In one instance, they discovered a barcode error that led a shipment to ring up for less than it should, which lost the distributor money.


When he caught the mistake, Houlihan showed up personally at the store’s corporate office with a check for the loss, including an added bonus for the distributor’s time and expense. Houlihan described to the manager how Barefoot Cellars was shifting internal processes to make sure the problem never happened again. Because Houlihan owned the mistake and informed the distributor in person, the orders kept coming, and a potential complaint became a memorable learning experience.


Overcoming “Survival Mode” Mentality


For many companies, the default approach is to respond to problems as they arise.


This survival mode mentality may work temporarily, but long-term success is built as your brand is able to impress and delight customers in a more proactive, personalized way.


Future forecasters predict that by 2023 businesses will transition into a season of “continuous service” through artificial intelligence. But in the meantime, customers still need care, and the best strategy is upfront intervention.


Looking to sharpen your systems? Here are three ways to be more proactive:


1. Inform Customers About Your Mistakes Immediately


It’s always better for customers to hear about a problem directly from you instead of discovering it themselves.


If your company identifies a problem upfront, you can avoid costly damages and harmful publicity. As you identify errors, take responsibility for the mistake, offer refunds or future discounts, explain how you are remedying the problem, and let people know who to contact for assistance.


2. Offer Self-Help Customer Service Channels


One reason service can be so frustrating is the wait time and red tape it involves.


Many customers prefer to find answers themselves, so generate accessible content that addresses common complaints. This may include a FAQ page, live chat software, webinar tutorials, or a customer care focus in your print newsletter. Not sure where to start? Review customer service call and email logs or use survey data from clients and customer service representatives. 


3. Build 5-Star Service into Your Company Culture


For proactive service to work, it must be embedded into your company culture.


Here employees are trained to deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. This means everyone (not just the people on the front line) must understand and desire a 5-star service. Teach employees to anticipate what a client MIGHT need and have a solution ready before they ask.


Build Your Brand by Fortifying Customer Confidence


One of the most effective ways to stoke customer confidence is to do things for your customers before they know they need it.


Like a vase on a pottery wheel, proactive service means continually molding and reshaping the interactions customers have with your business. As you preemptively address sore spots, you’ll confirm the customer made the right decision to do business with your company.

Friday, March 20, 2020

How to Build Trust and Unity Through a Strong Company Culture

When it comes to company culture, Zoom is off the charts.


Zoom is a California communications company that provides remote conferencing services for online video meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.


Zoom’s mission is to develop a people-centric cloud service that unifies meeting experiences while improving the quality of communications forever. Zoom is passionate about connecting not only customers but employees.


The company sports its own “happiness crew,” a team committed to maintaining company values through wacky celebrations, community involvement, and volunteering. Happiness crews coordinate team serving opportunities like Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, and more, allowing employees to give back, to enjoy co-workers from other teams, and to make a difference for causes they care about.


Whether it’s arranging a “Bring Your Parent to Work Day” or decorating desks with rubber ducks, this passionate team culture has helped Zoom to grow and thrive.


Company Culture is Beyond “Perks”


Company culture is more than just great coffee or vacation incentives; it goes to the heart of how people treat one another and the values of the company itself.


Deliberately defining and communicating your culture makes it easier to determine who you’re looking for and why certain individuals are a fit for your team. It defines success for employees and encourages people to practice values that are important for your business. And deeper than just perks or parties, company culture unifies people and makes work more meaningful and enjoyable. As you design company culture today, you build trust, responsibility, and vulnerability for tomorrow.


5 Keys to An Enhanced Company Culture


What might an enhanced culture look like for your business? Here are a few keys.


1. Build From the Bottom


Start by defining your mission, vision, and values.


Create language or catchphrases that celebrate a “win,” so values come off the wall and into everyday life. When you center your culture around how you want people to be treated, company culture will fall into place.


2. Identify Cultural Ambassadors


Every company has team members who are passionate about company identity.


These people love the organization and serve as cheerleaders who breathe life into the workplace. Once you identify ambassadors, ask them what they like or dislike about the current atmosphere and what improvements they would suggest.


Ambassadors offer a buffer between the boss and the team and have immense power to sway opinion. Lean on them and be open to change!


3. “Mandate” Fun


A strong work culture requires that everyone gets together, whether it’s a mid-day splurge or an after-work activity.


Offer timed conversation prompts or get people competing to fuel momentum. Looking for ideas? From breakroom cooking competitions to a hilarious round of “Eat Poop, You Cat,” online hacks are endless.


4. Assign Culture Captains


Maybe you can’t afford a happiness crew, but every employee can assist you in connecting with changing personalities.


Involve employees by selecting rotating “Culture Captains” who are in charge of shaping ideas for the month. From Funky Friday costume days to a buffet of the month (with a merit-based giveaway item), getting people involved in planning means everyone will have more fun!


5. Encourage Anonymous Feedback


No one likes criticism, but if you don’t welcome feedback, culture “cancers” can grow.


Send a yearly survey to all employees so everyone can share how they’re feeling and provide anonymous feedback. Allowing an avenue for processing can prompt a wealth of new ideas. Sometimes your team has the solutions you need, and you don’t even know it!


Your Greatest Asset


In a world where great employees are like gold, treating your work atmosphere as an afterthought is a huge missed opportunity. Wise entrepreneurs will design company culture as intentionally as they design the products they sell.


 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Spark Creative Solutions with Four Ideation Strategies

Creativity.


It’s something we long to unleash. Some seem to do this effortlessly, with work that carries a distinct, resounding voice. Others labor tirelessly and produce merely a weak echo. Where some of us once flourished, now we flounder.


The good news?


It doesn’t have to be that way.


What does it take to beat back the ordinary and to release fresh, gripping, or exciting ideas continually?


4 Ideation Strategies to Spark Creativity


When you want to break out of creative ruts, ideation strategies offer a useful tool for challenging your habitual (a.k.a. BORING) ways of thinking.


Want to give it a try? Here are four exercises to enhance imagination for yourself or your team.


1. Green Lighting


Green lighting (or free-flow brainstorming) is often used in creative strategy sessions because the lack of censorship allows participants to generate a high quantity of ideas in a short, synergized session.


During a green light session, any wild or wacky ideas are welcome to be jotted on a group think board. Participants restrain from analyzing or critiquing options and instead try to build momentum by generating a large quantity of ideas or by collectively building on others’ ideas.  Green-light thinking sparks solutions you might otherwise overlook, releasing your team to much higher levels of creativity and productivity.


2. Mind Mapping


Mind mapping is a graphical technique used to build a web of relationships.


Begin by writing a problem statement or a key phrase in the center of the page. Now encourage people to say solutions or ideas that come to their minds next. As new ideas are put on the board, participants connect their keyword “branches” by curves, lines, or vectors. Mind mapping transforms dull or tedious information into colorful, memorable patterns that can help flush out ideas, articulate hidden options, or generate collective solutions.


3. The “Anti-Problem” Exercise


Sometimes looking directly at a problem makes it harder to solve.


This ideation strategy encourages teams to turn the tables by defining an “anti-problem,” or a challenge that is the opposite of the real problem at hand. After articulating this concept, teams work together for a set amount of time to solve the anti-problem. Here teams may find inspiration by generating ideas still relating to the problem space, solutions than can then be “re-flipped” to bring them back into the realm of the true problem.


4. Mindset Spacing


Sometimes using physical space to reflect different thinking methods can propel your team to breakthrough.


For example, Disney’s creative team used to label four parts of a room for separate mindsets: imagining, planning, critiquing, and stepping outside a concept. Teams then gathered in each space with one target objective: perhaps an innovation to brainstorm or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced green-light thinking, planners tried to define the specs, timeline, etc. Meanwhile, critics and concept overseers analyzed weaknesses, defined missing elements, or addressed obstacles.


Challenge your team members to physically rotate between these “mindset” spaces and see if it brings new ideas to light!


Collectively We are Genius


Time to teach an old dog new tricks? They say that “collectively, we are genius,” so try out ideation techniques with your team and awaken imagination today!


Ideation strategies allow you to flow in a life-giving, streamlined environment, releasing ideas that are imaginative, strategy-driven, and smart. Need help with coming up with your next great idea in print? Reach out to us today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Embrace Originality with 4 Unique Marketing Options

Want to sculpt an eye-catching identity and bring your print projects to life?


You dream it; we’ll print it! With today’s technology, you can print concepts as varied as your ideas and as rich as your imagination. Ready to toss the template and try something a little different? Here are a few ideas to push the boundaries in your next design.


Foil Postcards


Time to rise and sparkle!


Raised gold or silver foil will take any printing to the next level. With a tactile, metallic shine, foil postcards bring a “wow” factor that can’t be matched. Foil can be added to logos, lettering, die-cut shapes, outlines, borders, and more. You can foil on one of both sides of your postcard, or combine your foil with velvety coated paper to make your product shine.


Whether you want eye-grabbing handouts or incredible invitations, foil postcards are guaranteed to make a stunning impression.


Pearlescent Flyers


Looking for a quality that suits your style?


Add an extravagant touch with metallic, pearlized, and pearlescent papers for your next flyer. With a smooth feel and a glittery finish, pearlescent print pieces bring a modern, pristine look your customers can’t miss. Thick, shiny, and metallic, these paper stocks offer a gorgeous option for announcements, service menus, invites, and more.


For a rich, warm finish, go for antique gold, champagne cream, copper, or flaming reds and oranges. Or, for a refreshing and royal tone, try aqua tropics, blue vistas, botanical greens, and deep violets. And remember, pearlescent and metallic coatings require larger fonts and extra white space in your design.


Super Business Cards


Looking for something super impressive and super fun?


Super business cards are for you! Cut from premium paper that’s durable (yet lightweight), these non-bendy business cards bring a bold impression that LASTS. Customize them to your preferences, with round corners, shiny finishes, raised spot gloss lettering, and more.


Whether you want a muted matte feel or a sleek sparkly vibe, super business cards are guaranteed to be as unique as you.


Creative Rip Cards


Want to keep them thinking of you after they walk away?


With posters or publicly displayed marketing materials, prospects may quickly see you . . . and forget you. Rip card printing offers an effective tool for marketing that sticks.


Did you know you can attach rip cards to posters, flyers, and mounted displays? Like a long-lasting calling card, rip cards offer your clients a point of contact they can follow up with later. Many businesses combine rip cards with discounts and incentives, whether it’s a “Buy One Get One” offer or a 10 percent discount on an upcoming service or treatment.


Whether you attach rip cards to rack cards, displays, or door hangers, this creative option ensures you’ll be seen, remembered, and contacted.


The One and Only You


You’re not like anyone else, so brand yourself with a unique voice and creative marketing options.


When you print locally, design and print come to life in ways that can’t be matched elsewhere. Ready to own YOUR niche through our collaborative design process? Visit our website to get started today at www.PrintitinColor.com!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Find More Enjoyment in Life Through Strategic Energy Management

Steve Wanner is a highly respected 37-year-old partner at Ernst & Young, married with four young children.


When Wanner started working with “The Energy Project,” a consulting company focused on sustainable performance, he was working 12- to 14-hour days. Wanner was overweight, perpetually exhausted, and felt guilty about his family life. He was distracted, slept poorly, and made no time to exercise. Like many professionals, daily demands were pushing him to the limit.


Time is a limited resource, and often people recognize that better time management could make a huge difference. Many leaders think they can excel by working harder or being more organized, but simply working harder almost always leads to anxiety and a difficulty disconnecting at night.


A Better Way


Proponents of energy management say there is a better way.


Energy management is a science and an art. Most people understand the science: if you exercise, eat, and sleep well, you’re likely to create more energy. But energy management is also an art. What energizes one person may not energize another. Conversely, what sucks the life out of someone might be a motivator for another.


While time is unrenewable, energy is not. When we are more energized we are more creative, efficient, and powerful. That’s why it is imperative to practice strategic energy management.


How to Conduct an “Energy Audit”


As you conduct an “energy audit” on your life, here are two questions to consider:



  1. What drains me? (What am I “bad at” or miserable doing? What sucks large amounts of energy and leaves me feeling lifeless?)

  2. What sustains me? (What am I good at or fills me with pleasure, adrenaline, or a can-do spirit?)


With this perspective, evaluate your schedule in three ways:


1. Rate your daily tasks


As you list regular responsibilities and decisions, assign negative number values (-1 or -2) to things that drain you, and positive values (+1 or +2) to things that motivate you.


2. Delegate, automate, and designate


When possible, delegate or automate things that consume energy, and designate more time for things that give you energy.


Schedule your days so that energy-draining tasks are followed by mini “resets,” or by tasks that you enjoy. Pay attention to the times of the day or week that you have the least energy, and plan positive value tasks (+1 or +2) for those time periods.


3. Address energy-depleting habits in your professional and personal life


Whether it is a lack of sleep, eating at your desk, or not enough solitude, ask yourself where “joy suckers” could be changed into solutions.


Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, gives several examples of options for proactive energy management:


  • Sitting down to eat breakfast

  • Leaving your desk for 5-10 minutes every 90 minutes

  • Checking e-mail only twice a day

  • Prioritizing energy-draining tasks early in the day, or working on them in a different physical space than your normal office

  • Taking deep abdominal breaths in stressful moments

  • Recruiting a gifted team member for tasks you find mentally exhausting

  • Requesting to do more of what you’re “good” at

  • Writing gratitude notes to others once a week

  • Disconnecting from work calls 15 minutes before reaching your driveway

  • Putting a hobby that you love on your calendar

Unlock Potential and Create Lasting Change


After Steve Wanner took a hard look at his habits, he began drinking less, going to bed earlier, taking short afternoon walks, and leaving his desk frequently. Wanner lost 15 pounds and says he feels more relaxed and connected to his family.


By creating and managing your energy budget, you will be better equipped to create change, make a difference and get results. Give it a try!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Demystifying the Paper Selection Process

Paper is essential in the design and cost of your publications.


And while paper seems like a basic element, often the print terminology and project specs can be confusing. That’s ok! You don’t have to be an expert to make smart decisions, because we’re here to guide you.


Perhaps a peek at these frequently asked questions can help you understand materials, compare costs, and weigh options for your next project.


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Paper


1. How does the “grade” of a paper affect its appearance?


Coated paper is categorized by grade levels, with a premium being at the top. Grade levels are determined by brightness, and here are several basic grades (or types) of commercial printing papers:


BOND OR WRITING = Typically used for letterheads, business forms, and copiers. Typical base weights are 16# for forms, 20# for copying, and 24# for stationery.


BOOK = The most commonly used coated and uncoated papers for printing. Ranging between 30#-110# depending on coatings.


TEXT = High-quality sheets in a variety of surfaces and colors. Used for quality printings with a lot of surface texture.


COVER = Used when greater bulk/thickness is required, such as book covers, postcards, business cards, or inserts. Available in a wide variety of surfaces and colors, typically ranging from 60# to 100#.


TAG, BRISTOL, AND INDEX = Smooth surface papers mostly uncoated, except for bristols. Often used for displays, file folders, and tickets.


Remember, paper products come with three specifications: brightness, gloss, and opacity. Typically, the higher the grade level, the higher the brightness and gloss will be.


2. Why does the paper “weight” matter?


The higher the weight, the heavier the paper.


In general, heavier papers are bulkier and sturdier, allowing fewer pages per inch. They also have greater opacity (i.e., less show-through), which offers a higher quality but also an increased mailing expense.  


3. When is lighter weight helpful?


Publications with larger page count (like magazines, booklets, or projects using a significant amount of paper) can use lightweight stocks to reduce bulk, weight, and cost.


Lighter weights can also bring a more playful, casual feel to your brochure or booklet.


4. What is the difference between coated and uncoated paper?


Uncoated paper is porous, cost-effective, and is typically used for such applications as newspaper print and basic black-and-white copying.


Coated stock paper, by contrast, is made of higher-quality paper with a smooth, glossy finish. Coated paper works well for reproducing sharp text and vivid colors. 


5. What finishing options are available for my project?


A paper’s finish can have a considerable impact on the final appearance of your printing.


Gloss finishes are sophisticated and eye-catching, with a smooth surface that allows for more precise reproduction. Matte (or dull) papers have a softer, subtle feel, and can be easier to read. Spot or foil varnishes are also available if you want to highlight some aspects on your page.


How to Choose the Right Paper for Your Next Printing


Print is beautiful, tactile, and memorable.


More than just ink on a page, the weight, texture, and sheen of your printing can tell an emotional story. Paper plays a significant role in the tone you want to communicate, but also in your bottom line. When you increase the grade or weight, you will improve quality but increase expense, so choosing between paper selections is a delicate balance between image, functionality, and cost.


Want to chat more? Give us a call at Print It! to see some paper examples or discuss your options today!  864-882-3609

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Avoid "Grammatical Embarrassment" by Sidestepping 3 Common Errors

Can you spot the mistakes in this paragraph?


Melissa was excited about her son’s swimming ability. This fall, she asked, “Would you like to join the swim team”? Sammy was thrilled about the idea, accept for one thing: the tight swimsuits. “Why do I have to wear spandex”, he complained, “I’m all ready the fastest swimmer in the pool”!


Grammar can be painful.


Make A Fresh Start


Even after years of writing, there are grammatical errors that impede us all. For some, it’s punctuation. For others, it’s word selection. And when you repeat the same mistakes, bad habits get harder to break.


This year, make a mental note to dodge those potholes! Here are three mistakes to avoid in your writing:


1. Incorrect Apostrophes


Apostrophes indicate possession for nouns and letter omissions in contractions.


Generally, singular possessive apostrophes come before the ‘s’ and plural possessives apostrophes come afterward, like this:


Singular Possessive: Jim’s hat or Mike’s coat


Plural Possessive: Several years’ work or many students’ books


Apostrophes do not indicate possession for personal pronouns, so it is incorrect to add an apostrophe to “it” or “who” when designating ownership.


  • Incorrect: Who’s bike is this?

  • Correct: Whose bike is this?

  • Incorrect: The flower lost it’s petals

  • Correct: The flower lost its petals

When contractions are used, apostrophes replace the missing letters. For example:


  • Correct: “It’s looking like great weather for planting flowers.”

  • Incorrect: “Its looking like great weather for planting flowers.”

  • Correct: “Who’s going to help me prep the soil?”

  • Incorrect: “Whose going to help me prep the soil?”

Punctuation and Quotation Marks


Do punctuation marks go inside or outside quotation marks?


This one can be tricky because British and American English have different rules (which is why you sometimes see discrepancies). Here are two basic American guidelines:


1. Sentence-ending commas and periods always go inside quotation marks.


Remember, if you are INSIDE the U.S., commas and periods go INSIDE the quotation marks. Like this:


  •  “I fell asleep,” Paul said.

  • Paul awoke and complained, “I had a bad dream.”

2. Question marks and exclamation marks can vary.


If they apply to the quoted material, these marks belong inside the quotation marks. If they apply to the whole sentence, they go outside.


Each of these sentences is correct:


  • Mary asked them, “Where should we eat?”

  • Do you think Mary is hungry enough for the “Impossible Whopper”?

  • Chandra texted Michael, “Should I bring dinner?”

  • Chandra looked in her purse and exclaimed, “I have a $50 gift card!”

  • The dog leaped off the couch when he heard Chandra say, “I’m bringing pizza”!

Words That Are Easily Confused


Words that are commonly misused include these pairs:


Affect/Effect


Rule of Thumb: “Effect” is usually a noun, while “affect” is typically a verb.


  • Incorrect: The text had a negative affect on my mood.

  • Correct: The test had a positive effect on my grade. This positively affected my mood!

They/Their


Rule of Thumb: “There” refers to a place, while “their” indicates possession.


Example: We’re going to love it there—I heard their breadsticks are the best!


Accept/Except


Rule of Thumb: “Accept” typically includes, while “except” usually excludes.


Example: I was proud to accept an award (though everyone except the dog received one).


Assure/Ensure


Rule of Thumb: To “assure” is to make someone confident of something; to “ensure” is to guarantee that something actually happens.


Example: Though Mike assured me that the dog would not escape, I locked Scout’s kennel to ensure he stayed put.


Farther/Further


Rule of Thumb: “Farther” refers to physical distance and “further” denotes metaphorical (or figurative) lengths or advancement.


Example: I want to run farther next time, but need to progress further in my training to grow my endurance.


While grammar debates can make your head spin, hopefully, these tips can alleviate confusion. Do small things with excellence, and you’ll make big strides!

Friday, February 21, 2020

4 Irresistible Hooks for Your Next Ad

Want to catch a fish?


Then use the right bait!


If landing a sale is your ultimate goal, first, you must entice people to take a closer look. Effective marketing strategies often involve a “hook,” which is a short phrase, jingle, or attention-grabbing device.


Sales hooks bridge the gap between prospects and customers as they focus people’s attention on your message, set the tone of your presentation, and provide something of value. Whether it’s a special offer or an amusing tagline, hooks should arouse interest in your product or service while encouraging further interaction between the customer and the company.  


Looking to start your presentation on a strong note? Here are four ingredients you might add to your next ad:


1. Paint an Incredible Vision


Human beings are selfish, and they are never satisfied with their present situation.


Anything that offers people an appealing future is intriguing and attractive. When you want them to give your product a second look, paint a vision of how it can change their experience for the better.


Here are a few samples:


  •    Save $500 a month and buy your next car with cash

  •    Own your own little piece of paradise

  •    Rock that bikini this July

2. Press the Pain Point


It’s true. People make buying decisions based on emotions.


Whether you elicit alarm or compassion, appealing to people’s fears, insecurities, or guilt is a great way to pique interest.


How do these examples impact you?


  •    Three million children die of hunger each year. Be part of a simple solution.

  •    You can never outrun your fork. We have a better way.

  •    Put a stop to this before it puts a stop to YOU.

3. Demand a Response


Sometimes the best approach in sales is an aggressive stance.


Short, clear commands can allow you to be blunt, relay a benefit, or convey an authoritative tone. This dictatorial tone helps resolve urgent situations or address a problem that needs immediate attention. Here are a few bossy lines to consider:


  •    Hackers steal 75 records every second. Build a security wall around your future!

  •    Stop wasting money on hearing aids that STINK.

  •    Recycle. Because there is no “Planet B.”

4. Let Others Brag About You


A testimonial headline is one of the best ways to grab attention.


Testimonials are appealing because people connect through stories, and they trust the opinions of others. Pictures of real people are irresistible, so a great photo combined with a stellar review is a surefire win.


Here are some easy taglines to plug into your print and photo testimonials:


   My money’s on _______________


   My ________________ guarantee


   I was there when ____________


   I’m obsessed with my new ________________


   I chose _____________ because _____________


   I discovered _____________ that _______________


   I made an extra _________________ because _______________


   Here’s how I ______________ in just ________________


   They laughed when ________________. Until I _______________


   Here’s what it feels like to __________________


   Here’s how I beat _______________ by _____________


Appeal to Their Unique Interests


When you want to connect with your target audience, appealing to their unique interests is key.


Formats give your ad a structure, but a hook gives it character! Bring your ads to life with emotions, commands, testimonials, or a compelling vision, and you will arouse interest and drive demand.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Attract Clients You Love with Consistent, Stylish Marketing

In building brand awareness, a sales pitch is the hook, and consistent marketing is the “glue” that pulls your visuals and words together in a relatable way.


Marketing is about building relationships, and people commit to brands that seem dependable and trustworthy. Companies lure you in with witty slogans or incredible offers, but it’s a brand’s reliability that keeps you coming back. Customers stay loyal to brands when they feel comfortable and “in sync” with them, and the key to building that dependability is consistent, stylish marketing.


What does that look like in real life?


3 Examples of Brand-Building Marketing


Here are three organizations that do brand consistency well, and some take-home tips you can grab from their examples.


1. Charity: Water


Charity: Water” is a non-profit organization that provides drinking water to people in developing nations.


As of 2019, the organization has raised $370 million, funding 44,000 water projects in 28 countries.


Charity: Water gives 100% of its donations to building water wells in Africa where women and children use yellow jerry cans to carry water back to their villages. The organization’s logo is a goldfinch jerry can that keeps the branding present across all platforms and keeps the charity’s focus top of mind.


Charity: Water has mastered the art of getting people to form personal connections with their brand, including online fundraising campaigns where people can link to personal events like birthdays, marathons, or life milestones. Their highly sharable content always connects incredible impact stories and graphics, including the jerry can logo.


Whether launching a campaign or publishing an annual report, Charity: Water is always on brand.


Takeaways: Build powerful connections with people through relatable stories, engaging participatory campaigns, and on-brand imaging in all you print and share.


2. FedEx


When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight . . . count on FedEx.


FedEx provides people worldwide with transportation, e-commerce, and business services. Offering “The World On Time,” FedEx has created a strong corporate identity for its professionalism and efficiency.


In addition to reliable service, the brand garnered trust through its “We Understand” campaign, which communicates the pricelessness of people’s treasures, livelihoods, and futures. Packages mean a lot to people, and FedEx hammers this home through story-based marketing, reward programs, and regular social media interactions.


Takeaways: Find slogans and campaigns that get to the heart of what people truly desire: to be heard, understood, and valued. When you think of people as a person – not just a number – they respond.


3. Target


Do people see Target as a discount store?


Probably not. With trendy campaigns and high-end designers, Target delivers more than just products, but an experience.


Beyond quality merchandise at reasonable prices, Target offers easy-to-maneuver layouts, stunning branded displays, and contemporary styles aimed directly at a specific customer persona (higher-income shoppers ages 55 and younger). Target customers appreciate the brand’s sophisticated, affordable merchandise, including an ever-changing array of trendy clothing and home accessories.


Takeaways: Solidify customer personas and identify key themes that bring a fresh, consistent viewpoint through your products and marketing. Match the theme of your marketing with the personal experience people have doing business with you.


An Artful Tapestry


The heart of consistent marketing is your brand message.


Identify personable, engaging themes, and share them through your products, in-store displays, and print pieces. Weave these elements into a beautiful tapestry, and the benefits will last well beyond any savvy marketing campaign!

Friday, February 14, 2020

4 Ways to Cultivate Talent in Your Teams

AT&T helps millions of customers connect with entertainment, mobile, high-speed Internet, and voice services.


Employing nearly 300,000 people worldwide, AT&T is committed to both hiring and shaping talent. AT&T University, an executive-taught leadership development program in the company’s Dallas headquarters, trains emerging leaders through in-house and satellite campuses across the U.S.


But AT&T needs more than just training; it needs innovation. So, in partnership with Georgia Tech and Udacity, Inc., AT&T created the first-ever Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree and self-paced, fast-track technical credentials called Nanodegrees across web and mobile development, data analytics, and tech entrepreneurship.


“We can’t depend on just hiring and the traditional educational system as sources for retooling or finding new talent,” said corporate communications manager Marty Richter. “We’re focused on aligning company leaders to strategic business innovation and results, skilling and re-skilling our 280,000 employees and inspiring a culture of continuous learning.”


Great managers are organized, courageous, and encouraging. But to maximize the team potential, they need another critical skill: finding and developing talent.


Strategy, Soft Skills, and Coaching


The ability to see and unlock talent is crucial to running a top-notch team.


But growing talent is not always easy. It may fly in the face of traditional hiring practices or may require you to go against your gut when evaluating current employees.


As you look to maximize the impact of your team, here are four steps to consider:


1. Plan Strategically


While individual employees are often asked where they see themselves in five years, few leaders project how they’d like to build their team in that same time-frame.


Most leaders are good at recognizing potential, but they rarely think ahead on long-term staffing. If you know the areas of your organization that need the most help, focus efforts on strategic long-term staffing to make it happen.


What skills, abilities, or experiences will your next employees need? Dream it today so you can hire it tomorrow!


2. Focus on Soft Skills, Not Expertise


Did you know that the World Economic Forum predicts 65% of today’s jobs will no longer exist in 15 years?


Often when people look for talent (either in or outside our company), they put too much emphasis on performance or expertise. But since we can’t know what tomorrow’s challenges will be, the most important skills aren’t technical abilities. Emotional intelligence, a passion for learning, and the ability to relate with others are essential traits for future success.


3. Develop Talent Through Coaching


Good managers are invested coaches.


No matter how skilled your team is, continually look for ways to help them grow. This may mean offering on-going training opportunities, mentorships, or “baby steps” toward leadership. Do your leaders delegate parts of their job to younger professionals so people can learn side-by-side? Hands-on leadership training can increase employee engagement while infusing passion into your organizational DNA.


4. Evaluate as You Go


Often managers are the cap that reduces growth and creativity.


Does this sound like you? If so, why?


Perhaps you’re not sharing the load or challenging team members to grow. Provide employees with tools to assess professional goals and offer critical feedback to address poor performance or new responsibilities. Meet with other managers to assess progress regarding developing talent. And keep the dialogue flowing about business strategies and people’s individual roles within this vision.


Become the Chief Talent Agent


Great managers are also great talent agents.


The most important factor in your company's future is your ability to recognize and develop potential. No other factor will make such a significant impact in shaping high performing teams!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tackle Big-Picture Projects Using a Cost-Benefit Analysis

Start at the bottom.


That’s what legendary basketball coach John Wooden did every year. Wooden did not start with layups or defensive strategy – he started with shoelaces.


Coach Wooden, who won 10 championships in 12 years with U.C.L.A., had a reputation for fortifying the fundamentals before moving forward. Before his athletes played, they had to practice pulling up their socks, leaving no loose flaps in the sneakers, and pull laces tight to avoid ankle sprains.


 “He didn’t want blisters,” said former player Rich Levin. “I mean, that’s not a serious illness, but you could miss a game or two.”


Whether you’re a new business owner or a seasoned veteran, sometimes we all need to start at the bottom.


Have you refreshed the fundamentals of your business plan lately? Managing finances is essential to success, and one tool of the trade is a cost-benefit analysis. Whether you’re considering a new venture or weighing a staffing decision, a cost-benefit analysis can help you decide which projects to tackle and what resources are needed.


The Basics of a Cost-Benefit Analysis


When you perform a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), you make a comparative assessment of all the benefits you anticipate from your project and all the costs needed to implement and support the changes this brings.


Here are four steps to account for revenue and expenses in your CBA:


1. Prepare a Balance Sheet


Begin by carefully examining your costs and expenses (or money-in, money-out).


After you categorize expenses in your balance sheet, you are ready to weigh upcoming business decisions with a rubric that puts potential benefits and costs in context.


2. Give Dollar Values to Anticipated Costs & Benefits


A CBA, in a nutshell, means adding money in benefits plus money in costs over a set period of time.


A functional CBA seeks to express benefits and costs in monetary equivalents. Some CBA’s are easy to quantify. For example, adding new seating to your restaurant might incur a one-time expense of $60,000, but result in $7,000 of extra sales each month.


Clearly, those benefits outweigh the costs. 


Some CBAs are more complex. Perhaps hiring a team member will cost $40,000, but the increased sales and productivity are hard to estimate. In this case, do your best to express benefits and costs in monetary terms to facilitate the assessment of a project’s net value.


3. Weigh Future Values or Expenses


As you build your CBA, remember to make projections for all phases of the project.


Some of your costs may occur only once (like capital investment, equipment purchases, etc.), and others will be recurring (like staffing, maintenance, or increased utility bills). The farther into the future you look, the more important it is to convert the net value (of benefits over costs) into today’s dollars. As you refine your CBA, consider inflation, interest rates, and even opportunity costs (the potential benefits that might be lost by passing on a different project in favor of this one).


Here you may want to run a sensitivity analysis, which is a “what if” analysis that goes back to your CBA and plays around with assumptions. For example, if you had uncertainty about sales projections, you could vary projections by several percentage points before re-running the analysis.


4. Make an Informed Decision


Now it’s time to compare total costs to total benefits and make a decision.


Do benefits outweigh costs? Do they do so significantly? In this case, you should green-light the project. If more capital is needed, you’ll need to rethink your goals or form a new strategy.


No matter what the decision, a CBA can be critical to the success of any project, allowing you to make non-critical choices and keep your business running smoothly!

Friday, February 7, 2020

3 of the Coolest Sticker Marketing Campaigns EVER

For many decades, stickers and labels have been helping to establish brands, elect politicians, spark micro-marketing engagement, and build social proof.


Stickers and labels are more popular than ever. Just sit in a coffee shop for 20 minutes and look at the water bottles, laptops, or notebooks of young people. Stickers are not only inexpensive and enduring, but they are also fun for users!


Build an Enduring Brand with Custom Stickers and Labels


Looking for creative inspiration? Here are three examples of sticker marketing campaigns that left a tangible impression with every single viewer:


1. Cillit Bang: Destroying Dirt Wherever You Find It


Cillit Bang is a household cleaner.


To build credibility and marketing momentum, the company placed transparent stickers on coins that were halfway cleaned by the product, highlighting the contrast between the filthy and the clean. Coins were then given as change to customers, demonstrating that people could “bank on” Cillit’s ability to get the job done.


This simple sticker drove home the obvious brand message: Cillit Bang destroys dirt wherever you find it.


The effect was simple, surprising, and successful. The company saw a sales lift of 337% in markets where the campaign was implemented.


2. Gillette: The “Ouch” Factor


Could your business use stickers to supplement the materials you already have?


That’s what one razor company did.


Gillette launched a strategic marketing campaign using stickers smaller than a palm. Instead of paying for extra outdoor ads and signs in Manhattan, Gillette enhanced signs it was already using. Everywhere Gillette had an outdoor sign; they simply added a small custom sticker that looked like a bloody tissue. Stuck on the faces of the men in their ads, the stickers made it appear as if the person had nicked themselves shaving.


Gillette turned heads citywide and got people talking!


3. Le Cactus: Screaming Hot Wings


How can you pair a sticker with people’s senses?


Le Cactus answered this brilliantly with their spicy wings campaign. To build appeal for their spicy wing specials, Le Cactus put a sticker of a man screaming on the back of taxis throughout the city.  


If that wasn’t visible enough, they took things a step farther, lining up stickers so that the man’s tongue precisely laid over the cars’ brake lights. Every time the brakes were touched the tongue looked like it was burning.


At the end of the campaign, the restaurant reported increased customer visits, high-level brand recognition, and (best of all!) tingling tongues.


Any Message, Anywhere


The beautiful thing about adhesive products is that they can take any form and can be used to adapt to any existing product.


Whether your sticker or label is a stand-alone promotion or something you add to presentation folders or brochures, any brand name, slogan, or image can be used for your sticker. From window clings and car decals to logo stickers and custom product or packaging labels, well-designed stickers generate low-cost exposure, make lasting impressions, and build word-of-mouth marketing for your business.


When done right, promotional stickers can do more than promote your brand; they can become profitable products on their own.


Want to chat about adhesive marketing options? Contact us today at Print It! to brainstorm - call 864-882-3609 or go to www.PrintitinColor.com!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

4 Keys for Bringing Your Professional Goals to Life

If you were given a magic formula for reducing stress or frustration, would you use it?


Many of us set New Year’s resolutions on something we “wish” would happen instead of giving thought to what caused us tension or joy in previous years. As you consider new business goals for the future, first you need to know where you’ve been.


Before you look ahead, it’s important to look back.


Build Business Goals from Self-Reflection


When business coach Darlene Hawley first started her company, she was laser-focused on the future, visualizing where she wanted to be ten years down the road.


“I wasn’t spending the time looking at what went really well for the year I was just finishing,” Hawley says.


Hawley later realized that spending more time debriefing the past could better position and motivate her for the future.


“Adding that [past reflection] to the strategic planning process was huge, because we need to celebrate,” Hawley says. “When we celebrate those wins, that’s what inspires us to take action going forward.”


Hawley is doing this herself as she prepares for a new year:


“Right now, I’m looking at what 2019 looked like—what went well, what didn’t go so great . . . what would I change to make it better for 2020?” she said.


As you consider a new year and a new decade, do you want to see measurable progress in your professional life? Here are four strategies for building that momentum.


1. Set Goals that Motivate You


As you work from reflection, build goals based on what was most rewarding or painful last year.


Goals should have meaningful outcomes because 93 percent of people struggle to turn goals into tangible action steps if the destination is not personally motivating.


Start with goals that are high on your priority list. Then, break your master list into the top 3-5 overall objectives. Write down why goals are important to you, how you will measure progress, and what strategies you will use to achieve them.


2. Put A Plan in Action


Once you’ve planned the work, it’s time to work the plan.


Sometimes we get so focused on outcomes that we forget the individual steps in the process. When drafting long-term goals, assign specific, time-bound “mini-wins” to achieve along the way. This is your road map to executing a plan as smoothly as possible.


3. Empower a Support Team


Whether it’s a book club or a cardio-training group, humans are much more likely to achieve goals in community.


Working toward professional goals in isolation lowers accountability and drains your energy. It’s important to share your goals with others, to find a mentor or peer group to meet with frequently, or to give everyone on your team a blueprint so you can track progress collectively.


Tell people why your goals are personally motivating and look for opportunities to solicit the feedback, advice, or encouragement of others.


4. Visualize Success


Finally, while you are looking back, take time to visualize what it would be like to succeed in the future.


What pain point would you like to alleviate? What benefits would you enjoy with your family, your finances, or in achieving a life-long dream?


Whether you put pictures of vacation destinations in your closet or select a “splurge item” you would buy if you hit a sales goal, visualizing positive outcomes can raise energy levels and build your confidence.


In fact, numerous sports studies have shown that mental practice (through visualization) can be as effective as real practice. In other words, you can develop and reinforce real skills by visualizing yourself practicing them!


2020 is a year of possibilities. With reflection, teamwork, and visualization, you can be motivated by creative solutions and do the work necessary to bring your professional goals to life!

Friday, January 31, 2020

6 Ways to Speed Up Your Next Print Project

Do you have a print deadline that needs the fastest possible turn-around time?


If speed is of utmost importance, here are several ways you can improve efficiency as you take your project to print:


1. Plot Your Course and Communicate Early


Early planning and communication are vital when starting a print project.


When possible, get your printer’s input early regarding design, project checkpoints, and final editing. Setting a schedule with your printer regarding design, estimated turnaround, and print presets can directly impact the speed with which your project is finished.


As soon as you coordinate these details, you’ll establish a timely framework that both parties can stick to.


2. Ask Questions Upfront


When partnering with a design professional, be sure to clarify the contract at the get-go.


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 review the work, and how many revisions are allowed in this agreement.


3. Allow for More Margin on Larger Projects


Professional printers are very efficient, but big projects still take time.


Designing one piece can be quick, but re-branding or crafting large-scale exhibit pieces can take a significant amount of time, especially if there is confusion about the parameters or design presets for a particular project. One costly mistake can disrupt an entire campaign, so allow extra time for big projects, and both parties will have leeway to handle hiccups in the most efficient, cost-effective way.


4. Assemble All the Elements


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


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 to finishing on time and on budget!


5. Err on the Side of Simplicity


Creativity is cool, but if swiftness is your goal, you should keep designs simple.


Don't go overboard. If you're short on time, design something that is easy on the eyes and uses very basic graphics, fonts, and materials. If you have templates on hand (from previous projects), consider whether you can adapt or edit these for the fastest possible output.


If you are pressed for time, consider using an online design tool. Or your professional print specialist may be willing to combine a pre-ordered template with the custom design you want. This may be the simplest (and cheapest!) way for everyone to get a project across the finish line.


6. Avoid Alterations Once a Design Has Been Sent


Check your design before sending it to the printer.


Proof everything with multiple editors before it leaves your office. Every alteration or edit can cost you valuable time. Once the design has already been received by the printing company, there should be no need to make changes unless it is vital to do so.


Better Together


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


Whether you need high-level graphic design or full-service printing, our capable team is dedicated to providing you with prompt, knowledgeable, one-on-one service, and bringing you carefully printed materials you can be proud of.


We’re here to make things flow as smoothly as possible!  Give us a call at Print It! at 864-882-3609!


 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Beyond Fitness: 5 Ways to Foster Well-Being in Your Workplace

According to the World Health Organization, health is central to human happiness and well-being.


Healthy populations live longer, are more productive, save resources, and make important contributions to sustainability, a better world, and economic progress.


But well-being involves more than just fitness. It includes physical comfort, mental stability, and emotional connectivity. In short, well-being is the “feel-good factor.”


5 Workplace Well-Being Factors


Companies that prioritize safety, work environment, and the emotional well-being of employees will improve morale, reduce absenteeism, and be more productive in the long run.


Aside from fitness incentives, here are five factors that contribute to well-being in the workplace.


1. Physical Comfort and Safety


Do you do your best work when you are shivering or dripping with sweat?


The physical comfort of employees has a significant effect on company outputs each year. The design and “unwritten rules” of a workspace are key factors in meeting employees’ most basic needs – including everything from temperature control, air quality, access to daylight, ergonomics, noise control, and safety risks.


Allowing for discussions about problem areas and individual control for the adjustment of conditions can be critical to overall well-being.


2. Autonomy


Difficult co-workers are hard, but micro-managing bosses can be harder.


When managers are too controlling, employees fail to excel in their collaborative environments. This disengagement has high costs over time: studies show that apathetic workers have rates of absenteeism 37% higher than average, and they work with a dampened sense of creativity. Strategic leaders need to keep a close eye on how company managers are encouraging or squashing employee morale.


3. Remote Work Options


When autonomy is given full expression, there is a permissiveness for working off-site.


This may seem insignificant, but allowing employees to flex their schedule, work around a sick child, or extend family vacations with remote work days can do wonders to keep people motivated. When there is a greater balance between office and domestic life, conflict is reduced, and productivity grows.


4. Positive Culture


Do you work well when you’re having more fun?


Workplace well-being spikes when social connections are strong. The Harvard Business Review found this so necessary that they identified six characteristics of a supportive work culture:



  1. Caring for colleagues as you would friends

  2. Providing support and compassion

  3. Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes

  4. Inspiring one another

  5. Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work

  6. Instilling trust, integrity, and gratitude across all levels of the organization.


Whether it’s monthly lunch cookouts or goofy employee awards, strong companies prioritize transparent relationships from the top down.


5. Collaborative Competition


Why are shows like The Amazing Race or Dancing with the Stars so engaging?


Maybe it’s because watching teams work toward a common goal fosters community – even between reality TV stars and their audience!


When companies encourage supportive competition, it can build bridges between employees, generate untapped creativity, and spark engagement or support that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Whether you post department “step counting” challenges or have people compete for the best new marketing hook, collaborative competition is one of the easiest ways to boost the physical, mental, and social environment at work.


The Long View of Well-Being


The core of every strong well-being program is behavior change.


If you launch a well-being initiative, identify a long-term impact that you are targeting as well. The best programs are good at helping people adopt AND maintain healthy behaviors, including how they feel about work, and if they’re giving their best each day.


Addressing all levels of well-being optimizing company potential and allows each individual to be personally fulfilled.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Add Color and Charm with 3 Unique Banner Options

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


Grab attention and set your business apart with gorgeous custom banners!


Banners are an inexpensive substitute for a permanent sign, allowing you the flexibility to change and move your materials as needed. Plus, banners are eye-catching, sophisticated, and fun.


Distinct Banner Options to Get All Eyes on You


Whether you want to highlight a promotion, organize your sales floor, or increase foot traffic at a trade show, consider some of these imaginative banner options for your next display.


1. Pole Banners


Pole Banners are vertical banners made from sturdy vinyl material and can affix to almost any type of light pole, street post, or sidewall mounting.


Pole banner advertising offers an excellent medium to market to pedestrians or drivers in locations with heavy traffic. Because they are located at or above eye level, they are easily noticed from a distance and offer an excellent way to strengthen your brand.


Use pole banners to display school colors, mount core values in your department, or promote community events. Enjoy easy, breezy visibility with this durable, colorful signage.


2. Tabletop Banners


Think banners have to be huge to be effective? Think again!


Tabletop banners are a compact, portable option that can easily travel with you to any trade show or event. With retractable stands included, tabletop banners stretch anywhere from eight to 17 inches in height, which is perfectly formatted to dress up any presentation with minimal hassle. Use them for conventions, boutiques, banks, restaurant tables, point-of-purchase displays, and more. Though small, tabletop banners can make a big impact for your business!


3. Step and Repeat Banners


Looking for a fun way to build a social media presence for your business?


Try step and repeat banners and offer people a creative photo op they can hashtag!


Step and repeat banners are a publicity backdrop used primarily for event photography. They are printed with a repeating pattern or branding design that makes its design very visible in the photographs of the individuals standing in front of it. From red carpet events and concerts to galas and company parties, step and repeat banners give a “celebrity-like” experience for your guests to engage with.


For every picture taken in front of the banner, you can count on more people to see your logo once the photos are released to the press and social media. This builds word-of-mouth marketing and spreads your image far and wide!


Flex Some Marketing Muscle with Extraordinary Custom Banners


Whether you go big and beautiful or nifty and portable, banners are a superb marketing tool that can help attract more customers to your business.


Want to talk options? No matter the display size or budget, we’ll help you find the perfect banner for your business. Contact us today at Print It! about promoting your business professionally and elegantly, so you stand out!  864-882-3609

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Design Trends to Look Forward to in 2020

2019 was a year where taking risks in design was considered normal.


What design trends can you look forward to this year? As we round the corner into a new decade, we may see a softening of some of 2019’s more abrasive trends and a shift toward simplified contrasts when designers want to be bold.


Here’s a sneak peek at five design trends to watch for in 2020:


1. Beautiful Flowing Shapes & Lines


The last few years have brought an abundance of geometric, rigid, proper shapes.


In the new year, these designs will be replaced by more flowing shapes, patterns, and lines. Flowing shapes can convey a natural, abstract, peaceful feel on a page. Whether you use a soft speech bubble to surround text or place images overflowing water or lava currents in your backgrounds, this shift toward flowing lines brings a down-to-earth, creative, and authentic tone.


2. Neutral, Natural-Looking Stock Photos


Several years ago, bright, colorful stock images were all the rage.


Graphic artists were boosting saturating and enriching color contrasts, to the point that some photos didn’t even look real. But as color trends have relaxed, audiences are embracing more muted palates, colors similar to what you might find in a soft sunset, a misty morning, or the corner of a woodworker's craft shop.


As stock photos follow, this year, you can expect to see more muted, genuine, and neutral stock photos. This includes a focus on candid faces, shadowed silhouettes, and seemingly unfiltered photos. A step back from air-brushed perfection, look to use stock photos that seem more reserved, harmonious, and real.


3. Textured Bevels and Chisels


While designers seek to bring a more authentic vibe in 2020, one way they can do this is through texture.


By creating 3-D forms like buttons, icons, or coins, bevels and chisels create a 3-D effect on a 2-D (flat) surface. Typically, this is done with tight layering, shadowing, and some degree of opacity. Look for beveled knock-offs of real-life objects. The result will be a flat image that looks tantalizingly real enough to touch.


4. Creative Typography


Creativity is just not limited to vibrant designs and unusual color combinations.


Font choices also play a prominent role in the tone and personality of every design. 


Whether it is a paper coffee cup, a wild banner, or a funky poster, sometimes creative typography is all it takes to drive home your message. And while typography can stand alone as its own design (like this), it can also be woven into the image itself to give unique expression to the artwork (like this). With great font selection, sometimes the words are the graphic, and just a small amount of creativity can truly spice up the project.


5. Bold, Clean Colors


Finally, with a move toward expediency, simple, bold colors are taking the stage once again.


We’re not talking about 80’s neon vaporwave, but dreamy, vibrant, full colors like enchanting blues, tomato reds, and radiating purples. Colors are a key driver of attractive designs, and 2020 will see an emphasis on gradient blends replaced with things like filled color canvases with no white space between hues.


As you play with bold shades in your graphics, avoid using too many bright colors that make designs hard to read. Instead, use bright, energetic colors with simple, clean design to create contrast.


Stay Ahead of the Curve


Ready to kickstart the year with a new style?


To do so, it’s helpful to reflect on the past and decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Stay ahead of the curve with these design trends and let us know if we can help you infuse your designs with a fresh look in the months to come!  Give us a call at Print It! at 864-882-3609.

Monday, January 20, 2020

4 Small Adjustments that Bring 5-Star Customer Service

Did you know it only takes seven seconds to make a lasting impression on new people that you meet?


If this is true in personal relationships, how significant are the impressions your business makes with customers? Great entrepreneurs know that if you want long-lasting, loyal clients (who spend AND who voluntarily advertise your excellent service by word of mouth), then you must prioritize customer relationships and consistently offer superior service.


Going From Good to Great


What does five-star service look like from a patron’s perspective?


Here is a snapshot of where a business moves from average to above-average:


   3 -- Service is average, fair, "the usual" satisfactory, expected, etc.


   4 -- Customer is very satisfied. Service is average, above average, exceeded expectations, etc.


   5 -- The client is delighted and amazed. Service is extraordinary because employees "walk on water" for customers.


To elevate your customer experience, you have to be proactive, not reactive. Five-star customer service gives extra attention to the smallest of details and does this with an authentic care for each individual you serve.


Here are four areas of focus to grow a culture of excellent service in your team:


1. Be Visible


Whether you respond to clients through e-mail, phone, or live service, be accessible and prompt in every response.


Let clients know they can always reach out to you and where you can be reached if they need anything. Never break communication – whether clients are pleased, waiting, or upset, don’t leave any attempt to communicate unanswered. Acknowledge the feelings behind the communication, and – in difficult situations – offer creative customer reparations (refunds, replacements, bonus items, etc.) if possible. 


2. Anticipate Unexpressed Needs


Five-star service providers seek to surprise and delight their clients.


Here employees deliver not only “at” the level expected, but above and beyond what is promised. When you check in with a client, what do you expect they MIGHT need (i.e., help navigating your new software)? Can you have the solution ready before they ask (i.e., a tutorial video attached to your check-in e-mail)? Seek to bring solutions, even if the client is at fault, and your business will be more memorable and responsive.


Anticipating needs is a way you tangibly care for people, and when you do this, it touches emotions. One general manager with five-star hotel experience put it perfectly:


“It is the small, simple, special moments that we create through personal engagement with each guest that they will recall when they return home. To accomplish this type of sustainability, we carefully and methodically select our employees, and then continuously train. It’s not about the tactical as much as it is about speaking the language of the guest.”


3. Train Your Team to Employ Creative Problem-Solving Skills


Five-star service includes the ability to think outside the box and create unique solutions to problems.


Customer service is primarily about problem-solving, so train your team to embrace problems rather than dreading them, and you will shift the culture in your business. A great team member isn’t afraid to come up with creative solutions. Give them the authority to do this and see what happens!


Publicly commend employees who do, and you’ll reinforce this attitude for everyone.


4. Use the Feedback You Receive


Five-star teams are never satisfied with the status quo.


Teams that excel in service are ruthless about gathering feedback and doing something with it. Do you collect customer comments? If so, how do you review it and identify areas for improvement? Companies that make specific changes in response to feedback are strategic, dynamic, and are genuinely customer-focused.


Build “Every Day” Excellence


Excellent service is something that happens consistently, so challenge your team to create memorable experiences that are repeatable every day.


Be visible, creative, and proactive, and challenge everyone on your team to take ownership as they follow through on guest requests every time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Build a Lasting Legacy Through Thought Leadership in Your Industry

Looking to increase your strategic visibility, gain exposure for your ideas, and change the world in meaningful ways?


Everyone is following someone. Maybe it’s time to engage others, so they follow you!


Facebook GROWs with Print


What does thought leadership look like from an industry perspective? Here’s one example:


In 2018, Facebook launched a thought leadership campaign (GROW) to help leaders grow businesses and networks while challenging the status quo. To communicate complex ideas, the social media empire developed a quarterly print magazine and marketing program aimed at business owners in the United Kingdom and Northern Europe. GROW is sent directly to marketing clients and distributed at select airports and train business lounges to reach top professionals:


“We know that business leaders have limited time for long reads at work, so we’ve also created a physical version with journeys in mind,” said Leila Woodington, Facebook’s head of business marketing in northern Europe.


Facebook’s goal is to position itself as a dominant thought leader among corporate executives or government leaders to grow marketing influence. Facebook understands that combining hard-hitting print with a steady drip of digital content is an especially effective strategy.


People Influencing People


The term “thought leader” is more than a buzzword; it’s a dynamic reality.


People influence people, and thought leaders are those that others respect and follow. Do you want to shape trends, spark movements, or voice unique ideas? Informed individuals can add tremendous value to their field of expertise!


Your ability to shape perspectives will grow as you show yourself to be relatable, engaging, and consistent in three specific ways:


1. Building Connections


Build your engagement quality by cultivating regular contact with close friends and family, with current and former colleagues, or with analysts, writers, or industry leaders.


Engage and follow others through face-to-face networking, regional training opportunities, social media, or online discussion groups. Gain traction as you contribute, follow, share, or add your own commentary to material relevant to your industry. And – as often as you can – share your picture with printed pieces or online content. Matching a face with your voice makes you more memorable, credible, and real.


2. Growing Your Name and Niche


Thought leaders are people who fully immerse themselves in the needs and concerns of their audience. ­­


To stand out from the crowd, concentrate on a niche market or seek to communicate with a specialized group of people. Write, speak, share, and comment on the things most relevant to this area. Think of yourself as a translator (explaining the concerns at hand and interpreting their meaning) or a tour guide (predicting trends, forecasting effects, or helping people interpret what they see). Here you’ll maximize impact, giving people “Aha” moments, or making them think, “Wow, I never thought of it like that!”


Grow your influence by writing articles for publications, requesting to share on panels or policy boards, publishing via social media and printed newsletters, or inquiring about opportunities to speak at events.


Once you establish credibility, you’ll naturally become part of bigger and better opportunities.


3. Educating and Empowering Others


Leaders who inspire loyalty are those who empower others.


Thought leaders don’t just impress people by how “smart” they are – they teach others to produce fruitful results as well. Your focus may be building educational tools, helping people with decision making, or establishing yourself as a one-stop resource with scalable models that bring answers people need.


As you grow your influence, you will advance your career, access new industry opportunities, and create top-of-mind awareness for your business.

Friday, January 3, 2020

How Re-Purposed Malls Can Teach Entrepreneurs a Lesson

Have you been to a dying mall lately?


It can be pretty depressing. Empty storefronts litter the hallways like missing teeth in a hockey player’s mouth. Dim lighting seems to permeate each corner, and mall walkers bring more energy than any hint of retail activity. What was booming 30 years ago now feels like a bust.


With consumers shifting more of their shopping from physical to online spaces, young generations have a different perspective on what a buying experience should bring. This explains why some malls are dying, while others are thriving. What’s the difference?


In Maryland, one mall is renting space to a theater company while, in Michigan, one mall is now home to a cultural association that sponsors Chinese festivals. Some malls have transformed parts of their space to offer thriving art schools for walk-in shoppers. Others have created customer-centric experiences, like combining fashion consultants with on-site purchasing options.


Like most other sales venues, there is still a future for brick-and-mortar businesses. But this requires companies to sell strategically to young generations through methods that resonate.


What lessons can we learn from our friends in the mall?


Engaging, Experiential Shopping


There are numerous definitions of experiential purchasing.


Generally, this idea refers to stores where “extra” things happen in addition to selling, and where shoppers do more than just buying. As an entrepreneur, how can you offer people a chance to buy an experience or a memory rather than just an object or service? This may include massage chairs at the gym, in-store skills classes, or lifestyle opportunities (like art galleries in malls) that can be combined with a shopping experience.


Added Online Convenience


If you want people to visit your business, can you ease their journey by adding online convenience?


Like store pickups for pre-ordered groceries, merchants that simplify the purchasing experience will have more success. One business took orders for online samples then had three options ready and waiting when the customer came to preview them in the store.


Digital Campaigns with On-Site Flash Sales


One benefit of physical stores is strengthening emotional connections between consumers and brands.


While it is nice to order things online, sometimes swooping in to nab a deal brings a huge adrenaline rush (think Black Friday!). Can your business combine timely print or digital ads to promote 24-hour flash sales on the hottest items in your store? This creates the opportunity to lock in a client while potentially up-selling other products when people visit in person.


Lively, Professional Environments


People don’t just crave convenience; they crave connections.


When asked why people choose physical stores over online retailers, the number one response was a “need to see, touch, feel, and try out items.” How can you offer people better opportunities to interact directly with your products? When you do this, the physical shopping experience provides a tactile experience that simply can’t be matched online.


Your displays are a huge part of this. From oversized banners and full-panel window displays to music, lighting, and even scents, the environment you create must be better than ever. And with today’s print and digital technology, everything can be customized to immerse your clients in the most authentic brand experience possible!


The Definition of Success


While online shopping has re-written the rules of purchasing, buyers still crave experiences that can only be delivered in person. Remember, a successful space is one that people want to visit, so give people a reason to be there.


When they’re spending their time somewhere, they’re more likely to spend their money as well.