Tuesday, September 7, 2021

5 Print Marketing Pieces that will Woo Your Corporate Clients

Some of the most effective ways of communicating value don’t require looking up a website or downloading a mobile device teaser program.


In fact, non-digital marketing activities win over corporate clients regularly without ever needing to be plugged in. Here are five of them.


1. Business Cards


Yes, those traditional business cards are still winners.


Business cards provide critical contact information and enough detail on how to connect with an organization quickly. Whether by email, text, phone, or mail, the info on a business card is powerful.


People love business cards because they are easy to transfer, pack, save, and reference. In the corporate world, business cards still resonate.


2. Letterheads and Stationary


In a day and age when so much communication happens by email and texting, the traditional letter stands out, even in a mail pile full of folders and generic material.


Best used when conveying a personal connection, professional letterhead is loved by corporate leaders everywhere and often seen as a sign of respect to the reader.


3. Add to Your Digital Slidedeck


Digital presentations can be so commonplace that people are often bored to death by the lack of engaging multiple senses.


A quick fix? Add printed materials people can hold in their hands that support your digital presentation. A beautifully printed presentation contained in a clean and stylish folder is easy to carry and review hands-on later. Combine a print version of a presentation with a digital slidedeck, and you’re hitting a home run with both formats simultaneously.


4. Company Information Brochures


A tri-fold company brochure is a convenient marketing tool that easily fits in a jacket pocket or folder. And, like business cards and presentation folders, brochures engage multiple senses of sight, touch, and even smell. 


Unlike digital PDFs, professionally printed brochures can be visualized and held easily. They don’t get lost in files like emails and tweets. A well-done brochure with high-impact visuals gets shared with those who matter as well. They are often shown as an example of what’s possible with the right skills hired.


5. Everyone Loves Catalogs


Today, digital menus and scrolling lists have tried to replace catalogs online.


However, the traditional catalog publication stands firm because of its tremendous impact.


Sometimes, folks like to leaf through a well-designed paper catalog to relax and pass the time, which often triggers more sales.


Additionally, companies that provide catalogs are becoming more unique and a stand-out factor from the crowd. Folks do not always remember a general product, but they definitely remember who has a catalog.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Grow Your Business Through Instagram Marketing

If you're looking for a way to boost the results of your print marketing, integrate your next campaign expand your reach with Instagram!


Instagram is a cost-effective marketing tool that houses many resources to help your business grow.


As the second most accessed network behind Facebook, with 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram boasts highly engaged users, browsing an average of 53 minutes per day.


Instagram can be a handy tool if you’re trying to reach ages 18-44, as 45% of Instagram users are within this age group. 


4 Tips to Get Your Business Started on Instagram


Before initiating an Instagram business profile, it’s important to develop a marketing strategy.


1. Know Your Why.


Why do you want your business on Instagram?


For example, are you there to sell products, share portfolio content, build brand awareness, share user-generated content, and/or use Instagram’s analytic tools? When you discover your why, you’ll have a beneficial framework for moving forward.


2. Determine Your Target Market.


Think about age, location, gender, income, interests, motivations, & pain points.


If this is challenging, try looking up competitors on Instagram to see who their audience is.


3. Conduct a Competitive Analysis.


A competitive analysis is when you research your competitors to see how they are doing.


Then, using this data, you develop a plan to improve your own business. When doing this through Instagram, see what and how often your competitors are posting, what posts are getting the highest engagement, what they are using for captions, how quickly they are growing, etc.


Acquire data that can then be used as a benchmark for your business. You can also brainstorm ways you can stand out from your competitors.


4. Create an Editorial Calendar.


An editorial calendar is a visual representation of your workflow.


You can develop a plan for when, what, and how often to post on both your main Instagram feed and Instagram stories.


5 Tips for Gaining Instagram Followers


Now that your marketing strategy is in place, you can get on Instagram to grow your follower base and engagement. Here are some tips to get you started.


1. Create a Business Account.


Perhaps obvious, but make sure your business is under a business account.


Go to your profile page, click the three horizontal lines at the top, click settings, account, then scroll down.


If it says, “Switch back to Personal Account,” then you have a business account. If it says, “Switch to Professional Account,” your business is under a personal account.


No worries! Just click “Switch to Professional Account,” follow the prompts, and now you have a business account. This is important because it will give you access to useful features, including analytic tools, promoted posts, and a contact button.


Instagram’s analytic tools allow you to see who (age and gender), when, and where you generate the most engagement. You can also see data for follower growth. 


2. Make Sure Your Instagram Bio is Strong.


Your bio is your potential client’s first impression.


Add all the necessary information and use keywords that will draw in your target audience. 


Your bio is also the area where you'll put your call-to-action URLs. Because Instagram is image-based, URLs don't work well on each post. Instead, update your bio URL to correspond with anything unique you're posting.


3. Create a High-Quality Instagram Feed.


Ensure that your Instagram feed flows nicely by choosing consistent editing styles and adding filler photos.


Filler photos are posts that serve to improve your Instagram feed’s aesthetic. They are important because Instagram is such a visual app. Space out busy photos with minimalistic ones. You can even try posting six to nine photos in a row to create one large picture on your feed.


4. Don’t Forget to Use Your Stories.


Because Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours, they’re a great way to post various content and drive engagement.


Plus, thanks to Instagram’s stickers, you can create quick polls to drive follower engagement while simultaneously receiving follower feedback.


5. Add Instagram to Your Networking Cards.


Networking cards are business cards that highlight your social media presence. They are a great way to increase your follower base and sales.


Instagram is a wonderful tool to grow your business. Apply the above advice, so you can stand out and increase sales.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Create Connections and Build Your Business Through Networking

Networking is an invaluable, inexpensive, and effective tool for building your business.


Despite the digital age, people prefer doing business with companies they know and trust. Networking provides potential clients the connection and trust they need to later make a purchase.


According to Oxford Economics USA, 80% of professionals find networking essential to their career success. Because of this, 41% want to network more often. Networking may seem daunting, especially for those not naturally inclined to talk with others, but a little uncomfortableness outweighs the benefits.


A First and Lasting Impression


Before getting started, it’s important to look the part.


First impressions are important. After all, people are constantly judging and forming opinions of others. Once the initial opinion is made, it can be challenging to alter it.


Before networking, practice creating a good impression. This means focusing on a professional style of dress, creating good posture, practicing a firm handshake, and focusing on professional mannerisms. These all may seem insignificant on their own, but they add up to how others view you. Be professional, but be sure to remain confident and trust yourself.


Search Out Events


Next, find events where you can network, such as business seminars, networking groups, professional associations, and community events.


  • Business seminars are commercial programs that deliver information or training about a specific topic to the attendees.

  • Networking groups are a great way to exchange business information, share ideas, and offer support.

  • Professional associations are made up of members who are within the same industry. It’s a great area to network with others in your field and receive and share the most current methods and ideas.

  • Community events enable you to meet local people who care about their community.

At any event, it’s important to make connections first and worry about the potential profit later.


People don’t want to be seen as money. However, people do like to talk about themselves. That’s why some of the best connections are made when you hardly say a word. Instead, ask lots of questions and let them do the talking.


Business Cards: The Ultimate Networking Tool


Business cards are an invaluable marketing tool to always carry around with you.


It’s an affordable way to promote your business by providing the potential client with something tangible they can hold onto and view later. Plus, the size is optimal for its ease of use and display.


Business cards are convenient for carrying around in your pocket and sharing at networking events. Best of all, business cards create a lasting professional impression and provide the most important information to the potential client.


Networking may take a lot of time, work, and effort, but the business it provides is worth it!

Friday, August 27, 2021

7 Steps to Overcoming Decision Fatigue

Just like any muscle in the body, the brain can also get tired.


According to Medical News Today, a human’s ability to make decisions can worsen after making many decisions, as their brain will be more fatigued. This can lead to an emerging phenomenon called decision fatigue, which can cause mental fatigue, increasingly worse decision making, impulse buying, procrastination, decision avoidance, lack of focus, pessimism, and lapses in judgment.


And it could be the reason you find it hard to get stuff done. It’s not your fault. It’s just your brain’s natural defense mechanism.


When the brain becomes depleted, it shuts down non-essential services, including the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for complex decision-making.


Unfortunately, entrepreneurs can be affected by decision fatigue because they make many decisions throughout the day, feel greatly affected by the decisions they make, and make stressful and complex decisions.


Luckily, there are steps that you can take to alleviate the mental toll of constant decision-making.


7 Steps to Overcoming Decision Fatigue


1. Simplify


Find ways to reduce the number of decisions you have to make in a day by simplifying your life and creating habits.


For example, create a minimalistic wardrobe. Food prep or form consistent meal plans. Develop habits, so you no longer have to decide whether or not to do something. You start to do it automatically.


2. Plan Ahead


Plan the night before for the day ahead.


This will limit the number of decisions you’ll need to make during the day. You’ll no longer have to decide if you should do this or that. It’s prewritten. You just need to follow the script. Much easier.


3. Hard First, Easy Second


Tackle the hard stuff first when your brain is the most energized.


Some may find it tempting to take on the easy tasks first in order to ease into the day. But, when you reach the more challenging items, it will be much harder to complete because your brain is already depleted. You’re not doing yourself any favors.


4. Take Breaks


Small breaks energize your mind and make you able to continue working optimally for longer.


These breaks could include a meditation (focus on breathing for a set period of time), a short walk, or even a power nap. You’ll come back energized and ready to conquer the rest of the day!


5. Self-Care Matters


Take care of yourself.


Your brain and physical body function optimally when you are eating right, sleeping well, and not overworking yourself.


6. Don't Go It Alone: Outsource


Reduce the number of decisions you must make by outsourcing them.


For example, hire virtual assistants to cover the simple business decisions or hire extra employees to tackle more complex decisions.


7. Stand Firm


Once a decision is made, stick to it!


You already spent quite a lot of energy making that decision. There’s no need to go back, spend more energy, and change decisions. You’re just increasing your workload and decreasing your mental energy.


It's Start with Your Mindset


Interestingly, it could be beneficial to change your view on how mental energy is used.


A study was conducted comparing Westerners and Indians. The Indian participants believed that exerting willpower was energizing, while the Western participants believed that exerting willpower was draining. The Indians performed better. Therefore, perhaps just changing your mindset regarding the brain’s energy could affect your energy levels.


A world full of decisions can be draining, but luckily there are multiple strategies to help you combat decision fatigue.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Increase Customer Engagement with Out-of-the-Box QR Codes

Not long ago, scanning books or groceries by a rectangle barcode seemed quite novel.


It was fast, convenient, and just a little fun. But as society’s pace accelerated, so did our need to read barcodes efficiently. In 1994, Japanese auto-makers adopted “Quick Read” QR codes (square matrix barcodes that could be scanned from any direction) that stored a hundred times more information than conventional barcodes.


Enter QR Creativity


In this micro-attention age, QR codes can catch the fleeting attention of your audience by adding both efficiency and quirkiness to your designs.


Today’s customers love to actively participate – not just passively consume – so why not take people on a “digital scavenger hunt” you’ve created by leading them to a URL for your landing page, a direct link to your social media page, or to retrieve personalized texts from your team?


While many QR codes are bland, they don’t have to be. Here are just a few out-of-the-box ways businesses are using printed QR codes to build bridges with clients:


WiFi Network Sharing


Want to make your network accessible and convenient for your guests?


Simplify this step by building a QR code that allows them to connect to your WiFi with just one scan. Instantly connect users to the network and make their lives more simple and stress-free.


Surprise Gifts


Gifts are a treat, but surprise gifts are even better.


When you want to thank a VIP customer or impress a first-time client, offer them a printed thank you postcard with an unexpected giveaway they can access by scanning the QR code. This builds emotional engagement by adding both participation and a greater level of surprise.


Menus


Try replacing bulky tri-folds with simple table tents or bookmarks when you want to keep your menus crisp and current.


Customers can scan the QR code to read the full menu, view seasonal or daily specials, or even pay after completing the order.


Invoice Surveys


When you ship goods to your client, offer a discount if they complete a quick survey after scanning your QR code.


Happy clients are more willing participants. Grab them on the spot as they unbox their new purchases!


Die Cut Overlays


If you use plain brown gift bags or simple white boxes, you can add color and charm with die-cut labels that double as a funky patterned QR code (like this playful QR valentine).


Who says beauty and functionality can’t co-exist? Have some fun taking people on “the code less traveled.”


Captivating Colors


Why live in the monochromatic when you can design in color?


Modern QR code generators allow you to add zest to your QR code based on your aim, style, and brand theme. Some software even allows you to choose patterns, build logos or faces into your code, or add sophisticated gradients.


Bridge the Gap Between Print & Digital


Nielson found about 56% of consumers rely on printed matter for sales information, specifically when seeking information on a purchasing decision.


Print is seen as a concrete, reliable source, especially for prospects nearing a decision. By including QR codes in print marketing, you increase the potential for landing a valuable client. Consider using QR codes for:



  • Product packaging, invoice stuffers

  • Printed menus, business cards, or rack cards

  • Store promotions with discounts available at checkout

  • Promotional games, puzzles, or scavenger hunts

  • Stickers for merchandise, packaging, displays, or cards

Increase your conversion rates while coaxing prospects further down the sales funnel in a fun, effortless manner.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Rise and Shine with Big, Breathtaking Displays

Ready to stop traffic with eye-catching displays?


Spectacular banners and backdrops ensure a competitive edge. Researchers estimate it takes only one-fifth of a second to evaluate a brand image, and 94% of that is design related. If you want to get all eyes on you, large-scale displays bring a big statement with a smashing style.


Here are four fun possibilities to consider for your next conference, sidewalk display, or community event.


1. Rigid Signs


When you want to provide classy directional signage or a beautiful lobby accent, rigid signs offer many versatile options.


Consider rigid metal, acrylic, or plastic signs to post store hours, prominently display your logo, or spruce up your welcome space. Rigid signs can be displayed using wall clamps, bolt spacers, and easels, or fitted to a steel plate base that uses hook and loop connections to make graphic changes quick and simple.


Try shapes like an arrow, beveled oval, or a contour customized to your logo.  


2. Full Height Tension Fabric Displays


It takes the right piece to communicate the right message, and nothing says proficiency like an oversized stretch banner.


Full height fabric displays are lightweight, easy to set up, and impressive. Stretch fabric mounts to an economy aluminum frame, making this option portable and easy to assemble. Carry bags and wheeled frames add to the efficiency.


Simply attach the graphic, pop and expand the frame, and enjoy the limelight!


3. Campaign Counters


When you want an outdoor pop-up solution or a point-of-purchase kiosk, a campaign counter booth might be just right.


Like a ticket station on the go, a campaign counter offers a conversational space for you to engage prospects or post table-top displays. Featuring quick assembly and colorful panels, a campaign counter is perfect for retail promotion and use in trade show and event environments.


Take it on the road or pack it away for later because these pop-up booths can be easily disassembled and stored in a convenient carry bag.


4. Incline Stands


Do you like to wander through home and garden shows or visit the street fair?


Part of the draw is the creative three-dimensional displays you find in these spaces, so why not bring some of this creativity into your atmosphere? Incline stands can add depth and character to any lobby, sidewalk marketing, or high-traffic event space. Built as A-frame easels or an inverted “V” foldout, incline stands range in height from an oversized chalkboard menu to a 7-foot welcome sign.


Incline stands are a nice way to provide ambiance and information in any professional setting, with a laid back, classy design that puts customers at ease.


Inspire Confidence with a Five-Star Appearance


Store displays and large events offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect and build influence, so come ready with your A-game.


Your exhibits set the tone for your entire brand, so don’t skimp. From pop-up booths to backlit fabric stretch banners, start conversations that turn curious bystanders into your next customers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Shape Crystal Clear Lead Generators with Three Building Blocks

Presidential campaigns are a time when passions run high and candidates jostle for the spotlight.


Avid supporters of each candidate put signs in their yards, wear buttons, or put stickers on their bumpers. Politicians who use simple, repeatable slogans have a higher success rate and a longer shelf life in the public square. Can you finish any of these popular mantras?


  • Tippacanoe and __________ (Tyler Too/William Henry Harrison)

  • A Chicken in Every Pot and __________ (A Car in Every Garage/Herbert Hoover)

  • Happy Days are ________ (Here Again/Franklin Roosevelt)

  • I Like ____ (Ike, Dwight D. Eisenhower)

  • Make America ________ (Great Again/Donald Trump)

A good presidential campaign slogan is memorable, meaningful, and highly quotable. More than a phrase, it builds a heart connection with the dreams and needs of listeners.


And it is often a candidate’s key to victory.


Why Confusion Scares People


Voters and prospective customers aren’t so different.


Both are weighing decisions and navigating information overload, so strong messages should be short and sweet. Customers will not progress when in a fog because no one likes being confused. If you are confused about the rules of the road, you could smash your car. If you are confused about a medication's dosage, you could poison yourself. Feeling uncertain about an idea leaves people feeling vulnerable.


The human brain is designed to experience delight when it understands something and resistance or fear when it doesn’t. This is a basic survival mechanism and a way to logically categorize information. When someone feels uncertain, they naturally move away from situations that confuse them and toward places they feel more in control.


Many companies miss this point and underestimate the emotional weight of precise, repeatable messaging. They overcommunicate, bury the lead, or complicate the storyline.


Lift the Fog and Move Prospects Toward Action


Want to eliminate uncertainty and move your prospects toward action?


From a direct mail postcard to an email drip campaign, here are three basics that every lead generator should include:


1. Pique Curiosity


In the header of your brochure or the beginning of your proposal, pique curiosity with a poignant phrase, like:


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

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

  • Increase your ACT score by 4 points in 4 months

  • Own your own little piece of paradise

Strong hooks work to draw people in, press the pain point, paint a compelling future vision, or appeal to the selfish desires of key customers.


2. Preview a Solution


After the hook comes your pitch.


If your lead statement draws them in, the next idea you communicate should answer the “but how?” question.


Like this:


  • Save $500 a month and buy your next car with cash . . . with our Freedom Finder Debt Consolidation plan

  • Increase your ACT score by 4 points in 4 months . . . with one-to-one Varsity Tutoring

  • Own your own little piece of paradise . . . Unlock the world with thousands of hassle-free timeshares

3. Offer a Next Step


Businesses are meant to be transactional, and it’s not pushy to ask for a sale.


Having a “Buy Now” or “Schedule a Call” button on your sell sheet or website helps your customer understand the kind of relationship you are inviting them into. Make your next step to put prospects in the driver’s seat.


By adding clarity to your lead generators, you’ll build customer confidence, make your brand more memorable, and ultimately close more deals.  The better your hooks are, the more successful your sales will be!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Use Collaborative Design Blasts to Craft Show-Stopping Ideas

It happens.


The design deadline looms, your mind is adrift, and your page is blank. How can you generate creativity and move out of this slump? Two resources to leverage are your time and your team


Often the longer you spend on an idea, the less productive you become. Especially if you are working alone. With an open concept and no firm timeline, designers may sit at their desks for weeks, spinning endless variations of a vague concept or completely losing sight of the project goals. This is a dead end that can drive everyone mad.


Instead, apply a simple process to prompt stunning ideas efficiently:


1. Gather a team


Everyone has good ideas, not just designers.


Who could you pull – account assistants, content writers, a family member – to brainstorm for a brief stretch of time? Use a pen and paper and spend time thinking aloud together about names, word pictures, or image ideas. Keep it short and sweet but have fun!


2. Review the design brief and project goals 


Amidst the flurry of creativity, stay focused on your target.


When you gather the team for an initial brainstorming session, always review the project requirements. Be sure you understand what the client wants, the project parameters, and the goals for final outcome. This task review and initial brainstorming should last for no more than 10-15 minutes.


3. Launch a 60-minute development blast


Time to send the troops into battle!


If you are the sole designer, it’s all you. If not, send a small batch of people to work for one hour. The group has 60 minutes to come up with ideas. No more! The abbreviated timeframe forces your brain into green light thinking, prompting more spontaneous creativity. Typically pencil, pen, and paper are best for stretching ideas without inhibitions.


After an hour, meet again to chat. Give comments or suggestions to develop the full potential of the best ideas. Usually, a handful of ideas emerge as the best candidates. Now a final concept can be clarified, assigned for full development, and kicked into the digital realm.


If you can’t decide which idea is best, pick the top three and draw scamps to a higher level of finish. Pin them to the wall, talk about the pros and cons of each, and see what the collaborative process brings. Just a little team mojo can make a mediocre idea magical.


4. Keep early and rejected work


Often when you pitch ideas to clients, some of the best ideas get cut.


This is unfortunate, but not all is lost. All good designers will build up a collection or rejected work. Whether it’s an early stage scribble or a fully developed logo, keep a printout of every piece of work. Scan sketches and scamps and clearly label them, so they are accessible later and easy to find.


You invest lots of time shaping a concept, so don’t let an initial rejection close the door on your idea forever. Down the road, these ideas may be a catalyst for an even better spinoff design!

Friday, July 30, 2021

How to Build Trust and Rapport in New Business Relationships

When Brendan Kane scheduled a Fox Business interview, he never planned to bag a presidential candidate.


Kane, a social media influencer strategist, thought his Kennedy show interview was simply another media spot. Until he landed in the green room with Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney. Kane later admitted he didn’t even know who Delaney was – he just wanted to have a good conversation. But as they visited about their lives and interests, Delaney was quickly drawn to Kane’s magnetic, genuine personality.


One warm conversation bloomed into a partnership. Before the day was over, Delaney asked Kane to help him with his political social media campaign.


Sell Yourself, Then Sell Your Products


Do you want to create a rapport that quickly builds trust with others?


This starts with meeting people organically and connecting with them authentically. Brendan Kane never tried to sell John Delaney anything; he just took an interest in his life and story. It was Delaney who eventually pitched himself to Kane!


Great business relationships start with rich personal interactions, including conversations that flow from an authentic, nonthreatening place. Are you looking to sell yourself so you can then sell your brand or product? Here are three tips to get you started:


1. Offer non-judgmental validation


People feel heard and valued when you seek their opinions and input without judging them.


Seek the other person’s opinions and thoughts without jumping to conclusions. While you don’t have to agree with what they say, adopting an attitude of acceptance means respecting a person’s feelings or values as valid, even if they are different from your own.


If this is difficult for you, taking time to imagine yourself in the other person’s place can help you be more open and empathetic.


2. Listen with your full presence


Do you ever talk to someone who seems distracted? Even as this person listens, you can see a thousand thoughts racing through his head, as if he can’t wait to cut in and speak his mind.


One of the best gifts you can give someone is your full presence and attention – to truly listen. Beneath all the swagger or struggles, everyone has a story to tell. People are longing to be seen and heard, and when you ask questions and actually hear the answers, you’ll be amazed how quickly connections are built.


3. Establish a time constraint early in the conversation


Have you ever been sitting in an airport or your office chair when someone unexpectedly approaches you to start a conversation?


This scenario can be unsettling for many people because no one wants to feel trapped in an awkward, unplanned discussion (especially with someone they don’t fully trust). To quickly set an associate at ease, preview the end of a conversation before it starts.


Say something like, “I’d like to visit with you about ____, can I grab 10 minutes of your time?” or, “I’m on my way out, but before I left, I wanted to ask you _______.”


Enlarge Your Influence


Building rapport is critical for nurturing strong relationships and amplifying your influence on others.


When you build relational bridges, you will engage people on a human level, foster transparency, and fuel a culture of innovation, loyalty, and collaboration.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

How to Keep Brand Value

Your brand is everything.


It’s what makes potential buyers and customers recognize you and helps set you apart from competitors.


It’s important to maintain the value of your brand in order to make the most of your business marketing. Keeping brand focus and consistency is key. If customers know what your brand stands for, they’ll end up appreciating it more, and you’ll gain more organic traffic.


A strong brand value helps tell your company’s story, creating awareness, loyalty, and excitement for the consumer.


Sales and marketing trends will continually change over time. However, building the power of your company’s brand is an investment that pays for years to come.


3 Ways to Keep Your Brand Value


1. Business Visuals


Your logo is at the forefront of your company.


Anyone who knows your business knows what your logo looks like, including the color palette, typography, imagery, and graphic elements. These brand visuals are most important to maintain throughout your business advertising.


When marketing for your business, continue to use these same characteristics of your logo throughout. Over time, after creating enough brand awareness, you should simplify your logo, and people will still know exactly who you are. For example, the Chevrolet logo doesn’t need the word “Chevrolet” next to it for people to know who they are. They’ve been around long enough and created a strong brand value to be able to pull that off.


2. Business Values and/or Mission


Brand values and/or the mission of your business are just as important to show and maintain as the logo characteristics.


Use your values to strengthen your advertising, show what you stand for, and create awareness. When people see an advertisement, they should be able to tell what company it’s for before even showing a logo or a name.


3. Business Style


Your company’s style fits in with your brand value and is important to maintain across all marketing consistently.


Does your building’s interior design use a modern appeal or more of a rustic look? Does your website use a white and clean look or a dark and textured theme? Use this style as a part of your print marketing and other advertising. 


The Ultimate Marketing Combination


All of these things; your logo, values, and style all play an important role in maintaining brand value.


Used often and strategically, these brand elements will help strengthen your brand so that your business is better known, and you’ll gain more traffic online and in person.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Make Ideas Fly Before They Die

When facing a life or death decision, do you think the opinions of others would affect your behavior?


Social proof is a powerful phenomenon. People constantly look to the opinions of others to help them live wisely and navigate uncertainty. The behavior and preferences of your peers can shape every choice you make – from the vehicles you drive to the candidates you vote for. But surely some of that superficiality would fade in more critical situations, right?


Not necessarily.


More than 40,000 people in the United States experience end-stage kidney failure every year, with bodies that cannot filter toxins and adequately remove waste products from their blood. These people are dependent on dialysis treatments as they wait desperately for a kidney transplant. Often more than  100,000 patients are eagerly waiting for a new organ.


Surprisingly, research shows that 97.1 percent of kidney offers are refused, and nearly 1 in 10 transplant candidates refuse a kidney in error. How could this happen? The research of MIT professor Juanjuan Zhang points to social proof. Say you are the one-hundredth person on a transplant list. If the first 99 people turned down a viable kidney, often people lower on the list conclude the organ must not be very good (“if someone else doesn’t want it, then neither do I”). They infer it is low in quality and wait for a “better offer.”


Zhang found this psychological trigger – a follow the crowd mentality – prompts thousands of patients to turn down kidneys they should have accepted.


If Something is Built to Show, It’s Built to Grow


Do you want to sell more products, grow attendance in your community group, or get momentum for your idea?


The more public a product or service, the more it triggers people to act. Visibility boosts word-of-mouth advertising, and this informal person-to-person marketing has a significant impact on others. People rely on peers to help them decide what movies to see, which vet to use for their pet, or the best software to buy. For example, recent studies show that more than half of adults under age 50 consult online reviews before making a purchase decision, and 88% of people read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.


Reviews and testimonials are powerful, but you can also build influential triggers into small things like your product packaging, stickers, and more. Social influence is stronger when behavior is more observable.


Here are just a few ways outward symbols have made personal choices more public:


--Polling places that distribute an “I voted” sticker to those who cast a ballot


--Devices that attach a mini advertisement to every email (like the classic “sent using BlackBerry” tagline)


--TV shows that used canned laugh tracks to prompt more emotional buy-in from viewers


--Bumper stickers or yard signs sharing political ideas or coffee preferences


--VIP purchases that convince participants to wear conspicuous wristbands instead of using a paper ticket


--Fitness trackers that automatically post progress to a person’s social media page


--Grocery stores that distribute beautiful branded reusable bags


Monkey See, Monkey Do


It has been said that when people are free to do what they please, they typically imitate others.


How can you build more social currency into your marketing? Whether you choose recognizable product colors to selfie photo booths at your events, make it easy for people to share your brand through social media or when they’re just “doing life” in the public square.


When something is built to show, it’s built to grow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Add Depth and Drama to Your Page with 4 Riveting Techniques

Tension. There’s just nothing like it to prompt emotion in relationships, film, and art.


Steven Spielberg demonstrated this masterfully in the classic 1993 film Jurassic Park. While young siblings Tim and Lex hide in an industrial kitchen, two raptors creep inside and begin prowling and sniffing the perimeter. As the children silently crawl on their knees and cower under stainless steel countertops, the toenails of the raptors click . . . click . . . click . . . along the floor behind them.


Though some would classify Jurassic Park as a children’s film, you can be sure the tension of this scene had every adult breathless as the raptors prepared to pounce.


Create Rhythm and Release in Your Page


As plot twists are to a story, visual tension is to design.


Visual tension is an aspect of composition that uses unexpected color, shape, or scale to create energy. While visual tension can be used to evoke anxiety, typically it is used to add depth and create a more dynamic viewer experience. This pattern of building and releasing tension is one of the most ingrained patterns of human experience.


Here are four ways to weave visual tension into your next design:


1. Go Off the Grid


Most shapes or pages have a sort of “structural skeleton” running through them.


In a square, the axis points would form a letter X through the center of the page. Elements placed along any major axis (or in the center) will appear more stable. Objects placed outside these major grid points will carry a greater sense of tension. If you place a logo underneath the invisible X of a square page, your design will feel a bit more exciting.


2. Use Jarring Color Combinations


While monochromatic or complementary colors are soothing, dissimilar or bold combinations create a unique energy in your designs.


The possibilities here are endless! Try gray suede and cheetah print mixed with white and gold. Or electric orange interspersed with neon pink. A rule of thumb is to favor one color over another (like using a dominant color for the background and the secondary color for accents). To tone it down a bit, use both colors for accents against a neutral shade.


3. Try Something Unexpected


Is the sky always blue?


It doesn’t have to be! Designs spur emotion when you do something unexpected, like adding a hot pink filter to a nature landscape. Try something surprising, like placing a giant head on a tiny body, coloring a chicken blue, or creating a visual puzzle (using concepts from the Gestalt principle) within your logo design.


4. Employ the Spatial Properties of Color


Colors create movement and affect the way we perceive an image.


Did you know that warm tones appear to advance in three-dimensional space? If you want to highlight a focal point in your image, you can increase the size of this object or also use a warm color such as red, orange, or yellow to bring it forward. If you want to reverse this effect, use a cool color (like blue or purple) on the closer, larger object and a warm color like red on a distant, smaller object. Viola! Tension created.


Engaging, Irresistible Images


Balance and tension are at the heart of every creative endeavor. Build hierarchy, focal points, and flow as you create a visual tension that makes your image irresistible!

Friday, July 16, 2021

3 Non-Negotiables for Stellar Customer Service

Want to build connections that bring benefits?


You can do this everywhere you go by using people’s names. Career Coach Joyce Russel shared a story about a friend recovering from an injury. This man was staying in a rehab hospital and was not particularly happy with his care from the therapists and staff.


Unsympathetic, his wife noted that he hadn’t treated the hospital staff with particular kindness, “Do you even know the names of the people who are helping you?” she asked him. “No, why should I learn their names?” he replied. She reminded him that just by learning and using people’s names, he might get better care.


Sure enough, it helped!


Keep Your Best Customers Coming Back


Personal attention brings powerful results.


If you want a no-fail tactic to increase your sales, one of your best strategies is to entice proven customers to buy again. Here are just a few ways to keep customers coming back:


Greet People by Name


When you want to build loyalty, learn and use the names of your customers.


There should be a distinct difference between how you interact with your consistent clients and those you meet for the first time. Even if you don’t remember someone’s name, let them know you recognize them and are happy to see them. Say something like, “Well, hello! It’s great to see you again.”


When you take a phone call, the person on the other end usually identifies themselves immediately. Use this to your advantage and try to speak their name in conversation as the call progresses. As Dale Carnegie often said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”


Keep Your Eye on the Customer (Not the Profit)


Clients want to be recognized as people, not as potential profits.


In what ways can you be helpful regardless of profit? If a VIP customer needs a minor repair or replacement part, could you offer it at no cost? If a valued partner is considering a service upgrade, could you provide a free month of benefits? Small gestures (like carrying someone’s bag to their car) cost very little, but they add up over time.


People will continue taking their business to places they feel valued, and they’ll tell their friends too.


Keep Your Commitments


Reliability is the foundation of good customer relationships.


If you make a promise, keep it. If you say, “your new grill will be delivered and assembled by Saturday,” make sure it does. Never make claims you can’t back up with certainty.


The same rule applies to client appointments, upcoming sales, deadlines, etc. Think before you speak because broken promises are a slight on your character and your business's reputation.

Friday, July 9, 2021

8 DOs and DON'Ts for Handling Difficult Employees

Have you ever managed a problematic employee?


You’re not the only one. Though we all have tricky team members, Reader’s Digest collected 15 of the most outrageous stories. Here are two examples:


The New York City Department of Health has a robust help-line for its IT department. This should be very beneficial to clients. However, one of the (twice-suspended!) help-line operators continually complicated things by answering calls while pretending to be a talking robot.


An Egyptian bus driver had an ingenious plan to beat a mandatory drug test: He used his wife’s urine. Sounds foolproof, right? Unfortunately, he failed the test, even though she was clean. He found out when his boss handed him the results and said, “Congratulations; you’re pregnant.”


How to Deal with Problematic Behavior


While it’s tempting to overlook lousy behavior, the costs of this passive approach go beyond the direct effects of one person’s actions; they spill over onto other employees. Bad behaviors affect an entire team, decreasing morale and tempting others to cheat or underperform.


Problem employees can be subtle but toxic. Here are some of the most frustrating behaviors managers experience in difficult team members:



  • Evokes Customer Complaints

  • Appears Unmotivated or Disengaged

  • Exhibits a Bad Attitude or Passive Aggressive Behavior

  • Catastrophizes Minor Problems

  • Resents Authority Figures

  • Wastes Time on the Clock

  • Violates Company Policy

  • Communicates or Behaves Dishonestly

Recognize any from this list? Maybe they’re keeping you awake at night.


If it’s time to act, here are several DO’s and DON’Ts for engaging challenging team members:


DON’T


Bad-mouth a team member. Don’t make personal character attacks or complain in a gossipy way. Instead, clearly and professionally identify the problem behavior, preserving this person’s privacy and dignity whenever possible.


Scold in public. Instead, use private conversations or involve only one other person.


Issue warnings without documentation. Regularly logging employee behavior allows you to track behavior over time and point out clear examples of a recurring problem. It also shows the employee you are serious (and not just “nagging”).


Be vague. When you want behavior change, don’t be afraid to spell out exactly what you are looking for. The most motivating conversations are built around the STAR technique: Identify the SITUATION or TASK that is problematic, the ACTION needed in response, and the RESULT or outcome you expect.


DO


Set a clear message of need and expectation. From the hiring process to regular review, clearly articulate what you expect – from dress codes to project quotas.


Avoid debatable problematic behavior. Some behaviors are unacceptable, while others are just annoying. Clearly distinguish between the two categories and only confront things that violate policy or cause consistent, noticeable dilemmas.


Follow up. Praise good work when you see change or speak promptly when you don’t see progress. Regular follow-up helps you deal proactively with challenging people and sends a clear message to other employees as well.


Involve human resources or top management. Consult your team to clarify rules and guidelines and ensure backup for your decisions.  


Confront the Mess, Reduce Stress


Dealing with a problematic person can be taxing.


But avoiding the problem can be worse. If you take a proactive, well-documented approach, you can have confidence that you’ve done your best in a trying situation.


And that may be the best stress reducer of all.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

6 Tips to Improve Your Printed Newsletters

Online ads, digital promotions, and e-newsletters bombard recipients daily.


Much of this information is being deleted or filtered out without ever being read. Because of this, printed newsletters are making a comeback, and more businesses are using them to keep their customers current with what is happening. 


Regardless of whether the company is already sending out a newsletter or debating on starting one, it is good to learn new ways to improve it. Here are some tips to help improve printed newsletters. 


6 Tips to Improve Your Printed Newsletters


1. Exclusive Information


Offering exclusive information in a newsletter or a special incentive for signing up can help increase the mailing list and encourage recipients to read it.


Information can include unique advice from the CEO, advance notice for special announcements, or information someone can only receive if they read the entire newsletter. Special incentives can include discounts for products or services, gifts, or invitations to special events. 


2. Article Focus


When writing articles for the newsletter, it is essential to make them fun to read and provide valuable information.


By offering valuable information, readers become informed about products, services, or events, which lead to future sales. Encourage employees to contribute and write articles to provide more variety in writing styles and topics. 


3. Add Personalized Content


Create newsletter articles for the individual needs of specific groups.


Writing for targeted groups may require multiple newsletters to achieve; however, it may be worth the investment if a business targets multiple groups of people. For example, a major real estate company may want to create two newsletters, one for those who need real estate information to buy or sell homes and then a second newsletter for real estate agents. 


4. Use Color


Color attracts the eye and draws people in, encouraging them to continue reading.


Color animates everything, and one of the most popular newspapers — USA Today — implements lots of color in its papers. Use color to complement the article topics and other images within the newsletter. 


5. Placement of Images


In addition to using color to attract readers, the placement and use of images and photos will help draw readers.


Many will look at images and read their captions first before reading the article. Use photos and images that help better explain an article and be visually attractive for newsletter skimmers. One tip to keep in mind is to use the dollar bill test. It should be possible to place a dollar bill anywhere on the newsletter, and it should be touching an image.  


6. Offer an Online Option


Though having a printed newsletter to read in hand is preferred by many, some still want access to the same information online.


Create a section on the website to include links to PDF files or online versions of the newsletter. For example, The Disney Company has printed The Mickey Monitor for years to send out quarterly to annual pass holders to its theme parks. However, the newsletter is also accessible online. 


Nonprofits and groups are also offering printed newsletters online as a virtual reference. When signing up for the newsletter from Widowed Persons Service, recipients can select to receive a printed newsletter or one via their email. 


When done correctly, a printed newsletter can attract attention and be an excellent tool for a company. Regardless of the newsletter's purpose — boost sales, attract new clients, or educate employees — there is sure to be a return on the investment associated with the costs of printing the newsletter.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Add Zest to Summer Designs with 10 Hot Color Combos

It has been said that color is a power that directly influences our soul.


A common obstacle for designers is choosing colors. And you should not take this choice lightly! There is great energy in certain combinations – a good color palette will be unique, seductive, and harmonious.


Warmer seasonal temps offer a great chance to color outside the lines with playful, lavish options. Need inspiration? Here are a few feisty blends for your summer design toolbox:


10 Feisty Blends for Your Summer Design Toolbox


1. Cool Gray – Neon Orange – Plum Purple


These call-to-action colors bring a sense of health and vibrancy, with an air of sophistication and an invitation to adventure.


2. Magenta – Vibrant Turquoise – Black


Fire up confidence with bright shades that bring flavor and fun!


3. Sapphire Blue – Shadow Gray – Neon Yellow


Like a bright peacock feather, this gorgeous blue-green combination brings a royal, confident air to any page.


4. Bright Green – Dark Violet – Lava Gray


Like a sunset dip in the Caribbean, these rich colors satisfy the soul in a lush, confident array.


5. Flaming Fuchsia – Black – Sandy Tan


Want to steal the stage with your design? The bold contrasts in this palette exude vibrance, feminine strength, and a rugged road for the journey.


6. Solar Yellow – Electric Blue – Charcoal


When you want to add punch to your page, the rich extremes of this triad bring a fluorescent finish that is fierce yet fun!


7. Pearl Aqua – Cyber Grape – Daisy Yellow


These colors bring a burst of energy with bright hues and an interesting, sophisticated contrast.


8. Lime Punch – Cool Gray – Tangerine


Heat up appetites with this tropical, zesty arrangement that will compel people to give your business a try!


9. Terra Firma Green – Magenta – Sunlight Yellow


Like interwoven threads of a tribal mosaic, the sharp contrasts in this palette bring a sense of depth, mystery, and variety.


10. Carnation – Dark Lilac – Peachy Rose


Like a seashell deposited on a white-washed beach, this royal blend awakens a sense of purity and opulence, projecting an air of poise and splendor.


Find Your Favorites in Nature


Still looking for just the right blend? The natural world is a great place to look.


-- The sunset is not just orange; it is apricot, bronze, mauve, and amber.


-- A tropical beach is not just blue; it is turquoise, coral, tan, and chartreuse.


-- A poplar tree is not just green; it is a mix of jungle green, lime, silver-green, light brown, cool gray, and white.


When you find a natural image that inspires you, snap a photo and take it to the drawing board. Sample distinct colors from different parts of the photo and examine which hues move you the most. Most compelling swaths from nature include a system of colors ranging from dark to light and intense to soft. Find what is unique and powerful about these grand images and replicate them in your own seasonal designs.


The psychological association of a color can often be more potent than a visual impression. So be intentional (but brave!) with your summer palettes, and let these blends sell for you!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Why 2021 Direct Mail Marketing Still Matters for Retail Food Businesses

While people are finally able to obtain a vaccine for COVID-19 and the ability to travel, move around, shop, and dine out is increasing, restaurants have a long hill ahead of them before getting back to a business “normality.”


In fact, entire behavior patterns have changed in people after a year of completely living at home and avoiding regular work presence, school, commuting, and traffic. And that means businesses have to work extra hard in diversifying how they produce income and revenue channels to stay viable.


Many restaurants realized early the only way they were going to stay in business was to boost their ability to handle delivery, ordering out, pick up, and other forms of fresh-cooked food transfer to customers who could no longer dine in.


While people generally tried producing their food regularly at home, overall, Americans are used to picking up and eating out. So, the demand never actually left; it was stifled by COVID restrictions.


However, even now, many communities are still maintaining social restrictions to prevent new COVID infections until vaccinations are fully in place at every age level. That means restaurants and food preparation businesses have to continue leveraging direct mail to be heard, seen, connect and remain on the attention radar of customers.


4 Reasons Direct Mail Works


1. Direct mail is almost always local.


The most likely customers that can and will visit a restaurant from the surrounding area are the primary target for print mails.


2. Direct mail is significantly lower in cost than other marketing channels.


This is a key factor for food businesses that are already strapped and trying to stay in breakeven with the loss of income thanks to COVID.


3. Direct mail has a higher return on investment.


The return on investment of a simple print card mailer can be thousands upon thousands of dollars when a customer responds to an included call to action.


Add in the additional benefit of discounting, and that same customer is likely to buy even more, increasing a business's revenue and cash flow per sale.


4. Direct mailers should be designed to be re-used.


Customers love the ability to use a marketing tool or coupon repeatedly.


And that creates both business retention and a greater amount of income stream for a restaurant or food business, again the primary goal of the effort in the first place.


Now is the Time


Restaurants and food businesses that rely on retail traffic shouldn’t be waiting for social restrictions to lift further.


Marketing takes time to have a positive effect, which is why direct mail efforts need to be sent out on a cyclical basis, pushing and reminding folks of a restaurant’s presence and availability.


As people keep being reminded, especially as they start commuting to work again, the food business will become viable and convenient for a warm meal, even if it is still takeout or delivery. Card stock direct mailers can help tremendously. So don’t wait for the market to reappear. Get out there and chase it now!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Go Print When a Presentation Matters Most

Given the restrictions of 2020 thanks to COVID, the term "slidedeck" has probably entered everyone's vocabulary far more than they care to know.


With nearly everyone spending at least three hours a day online in digital meetings, digital slide presentations have become commonplace. However, that doesn't mean going digital is the best choice for those decision-making events.


The Tangibility of Print


The standard for a powerful presentation has been and continues to be the professionally printed presentation package.


Why? In a word - tangibility.


People are tactile creatures, especially when making big decisions that have significant ramifications. Print presentations finished in high-quality stock and graphics meet that innate drive to have something physical in hand before making a big commitment.


3 Reasons Digital Falls Short on Presentations


Going digital with your presentation with a digital slidedeck doesn't have the same effect on people as print. Here are three reasons digital falls short in this way.


1. Digital Overload


Most audiences are now suffering from digital overload.


You don't have to go far to hear the constant complaining about having to chew through 50 to 300 emails a day, thanks to an over-reliance on digital communication.


What kind of attention are your presentation attendees going to have left to click open and read through another digital presentation, no matter how well done? 


2. Easily Manipulated Digital Content


Digital files can be easily manipulated, especially if they are going through multiple hands to get to the presentation party.


Many assume that by converting a slidedeck to a PDF format, the file will be protected and its integrity kept the same. This is a false hope. Without a fully encrypted form protection, the file can be tampered with. And when a presentation matters, the sender should make sure the content isn't tampered with from the version sent to the version being presented.


3. The One-and-Done Digital Dilemma


What happens when a digital presentation is complete?


Does the recipient in a meeting save the digital slidedeck for future reference? It's unlikely.


Most people just hit the delete button, hoping someone else has a copy if they actually need it again down the line, or hope that it was saved in their email folder. The likelihood of someone reopening a digital slidedeck to read its content completely is highly unlikely given the digital blur most people are under today.


Capture Attention with Print Presentations


A print presentation on high-quality stock makes a huge difference in all of these situations.


People have something tangible to read and hold that isn't a computer screen. In fact, a professionally finished presentation in print is probably unique and an immediate stand-out in 2021.


And, the presentation can't be faked, fudged, or tampered with without ruining the package in total. The same can't be said for a digital file.


Finally, people do actually look at print material repeatedly after seeing it for the first time. If the document isn't discarded right away, most folks will reread the package before deciding whether to file it, scan it, or recycle it. And that means your message sink in even deeper. 


When a presentation matters, deliver it in print!

Friday, May 28, 2021

4 Straightforward Ways to Strengthen Workplace Communication

In March of 1977, conditions at Spain’s Los Rodeos Airport were chaotic.


Due to a nearby terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Aiport, many flights were diverted to Los Rodeos. The airport quickly grew congested with parked airplanes blocking the only taxiway. This forced departing aircraft to taxi on the runway instead. Patches of thick fog drifted across the airfield, greatly reducing visibility for pilots and the control tower.


Around 6:00 PM, a Boeing 747 KLM flight initiated its takeoff run while a PanAm 747 was still on the runway. When the planes collided, the KLM plane lifted off briefly, then stalled, rolled, and burst into a fireball upon striking the ground. The PanAm plane was also ripped apart and destroyed by the collision, resulting in a total loss of 583 fatalities. It was the deadliest accident in aviation history.


Unfortunately, the tragedy was entirely avoidable but it occurred in a moment of confusion. The pilot believed he had received clearance for takeoff. He did not.


Avoid Your Next Communication Breakdown


While your communication breakdowns probably aren’t quite this serious, they do account for lost time, efficiency, or depletion of team morale.


Good communication is essential for the success of personal and professional relationships. But often, this skill is assumed rather than carefully honed and evaluated. And failed communication has consequences.


According to statistics, 28% of employees mention poor communication as their primary reason for failing to perform tasks on time. One survey of 400 large companies reported an average loss (per company) of $62.4 million per year due to inadequate communication to and between employees.


Poor communication skills make it difficult to build trustworthy relationships with your clients, investors, and suppliers. Here are a few bad habits to eliminate and strategies to try instead:


Assuming Rather Than Clarifying


In work relationships, people tend to swap opinions and stories rather than asking questions.


Managers who take a coach approach to conversations will dig in with simple questions like, “tell me more.” Clarifying questions help to build trust and strengthen accountability.


Being Indirect Versus Intentional


If you desire prompt responses to outstanding questions, don’t just sit back and hope for the best.


Instead, use direct outreach strategies including a follow-up inquiry within 24 hours. To keep the communication cycle moving, reach out and “tap back” over the next day or so. Most of the time you can move the ball with just a simple inquiry like, “thoughts?”


Hoping Things Will Get Better Instead of Speaking Up Immediately


Many people avoid tricky conversations, but this rarely ends well.


When you delay after sensing a red flag, you may be enabling things to get worse. Don’t wait to speak up when something isn’t working. If a team can adapt or innovate early on, this benefits everyone.


Sending Rather Than Scheduling an Email


Everyone loves to scratch items off the to-do list.


But if you really want to optimize communication, perhaps you should delay on hitting the “Send” button. What if you prioritized your communication around the days and times that are most convenient for others?


When people read with full attention, your message will carry much greater weight. Try using the “schedule send” feature in your platform to send more effective, timely messages.


Foundational Skills Bring Long Term Value


With so much at stake in your business, communication is a foundational skill every person can improve. When you grow your communication skills, you instantly add value to your firm and your team.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Touch is Everything: Choosing the Perfect Paper for Printing

There’s nothing better than the feel of a well-constructed catalog, brochure, or invite.


After all, no one wants to be handed a pamphlet that crumples because the paper quality is not up to par. This is why choosing the right paper for your print marketing projects is more important than you might think.


Choosing Your Paper Type


There are many different kinds of paper to choose from for your print projects. These vary in composition, design, weight, and thickness.


Gloss vs. Matte


Choosing whether to use gloss or matte paper is one of the most common choices when picking out paper.


Gloss paper has an incredibly high shine that enhances color. Matte, on the other hand, has a muted surface that refracts light and reduces glare. It has a textured, soft feel compared to a gloss, which has a sleek and almost sticky feel.


Uncoated vs. Coated


If you’re looking to achieve enhanced colors and a matte or glossy finish, coated paper would be a paper choice for you.


Coated paper is also more resistant to everyday wear and tear, such as dirt and water that may come in contact with it. Uncoated paper is not as durable but is the perfect choice for items that may need to be written on. Some examples of projects that should use uncoated paper are brochures, envelopes, and letterheads.


Silk Coated


When thinking of silk paper, think more of a fabric feel rather than your traditional paper.


It’s more of a luxurious feel to touch. It’s somewhat between a matte and glossy finish. The colors will remain vibrant yet reduce shininess. Magazines and catalogs are the most common projects to use silk-coated paper for the inside text pages. These items are regularly picked up by individuals and quickly flipped through. These hands-on projects will be best suited with silk-coated paper.


Paper Weights


Paper comes in all types of weights that can seem like another language when deciding which is best to use for your printing project.


The weight of paper is determined by the weight of 500 sheets of a paper size in its uncut form. For example, an uncut sheet of bond paper is 17 x 22 inches before it’s cut to letter size. If a stack of 500 of these sheets weighs 20 lbs, then the paper is labeled “20 lb.” 


Traditionally, paper weights are split into categories, including bond, book, cover, index, tag, and text paper. In each of these categories, there are varying weights that are available. If you’re looking for a heavier cover for a catalog, you might want to choose a 100-lb. cover rather than a 60-lb cover. Along with that, you may prefer lighter inside pages, so you may want to choose a 60-lb. text paper rather than 100-lb. text paper. 


If you'd like to get a better idea of the touch and feel of the paper for your next printing project, ask us for paper samples today. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

6 Winning Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail offers results that other channels just can't match.


According to a recent study, direct mail has a response rate as high as 9%. However, there are always ways to engage your audience better and improve your mailers' effectiveness. These methods below catch your recipents' attention and increase the chances that they'll read and respond to your direct mail piece. 


6 Winning Direct Mail Campaigns


1. Instill Curiosity with a Quiz


Do you worry your direct mail envelopes are going in the trash unread?


Take a page from Harvard Medical School's playbook. In a recent mailing to woo subscribers for their Harvard Heart Letter newsletter, they put a heart health quiz on the front. The answers to the three-question quiz were inside the mailer, giving recipients a reason to open.


2. Benefits, Not Features


As marketers, it's so easy to get caught up in promoting all the neat features of your product.


Your readers, however, don't care about that. They care about how your product can be of benefit to them.


HelloFresh hit the mark with a February 2020 mailer that highlighted three big benefits to ordering their kits. At a glance, readers could see that the service could save them time, save them money, and offer more variety.


3. Leverage Testimonials


Research shows that a recommendation, whether from a friend or a stranger, has a lot of sway on reader opinions.


In fact, 70% of people will trust a recommendation even when it comes from someone who they don't know. 


Florida Gulf Coast University used the power of testimonials by putting recommendations from past students right on their mailing postcard. Having names, faces, and a glowing recommendation from current students helped convince potential attendees that the school is a good choice. 


4. Use the Magic Word


No, not "please." The powerful word that gets your mailer a second look instead of a quick trip to the recycle bin is "free." 


A March 2020 mailer from Estee Lauder catches attention with bright coloration and a prominent offer for a free gift when people visit their counter inside Macy's. Offering a gift is a way to get people inside your brick-and-mortar location, where there is an increased chance that they'll take the opportunity to buy.


5. Catch the Eye with Familiar Forms and Images


When Nestle was promoting their Kit Kat Chunky bar in the UK, they used a familiar image -- a Royal Mail card about an undeliverable package.


However, instead of the normal reasons for failure to deliver, recipients learn that the free chocolate bar Nestle intended to send them was "too chunky" to fit through their mail slot. The mailer served as a coupon to get a free bar to try from the store.


6. Invite Recipients to Interact with Your Mail Piece


To raise awareness for World Water Day in Belgium, the organization demonstrated the importance of water in an innovative way.


They sent a postcard that could only be read after the reader held it under running water. This tactile trick increased engagement and also got the group a viral bump on social media.


No matter what your business, it's possible to catch readers' eyes and attention with your direct mail pieces. Think about how to evoke your recipient's curiosity, which can lead to engagement and conversion.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Thrive Over Time by Making Self-Care a Priority

One day, a hare was making fun of the tortoise for being so slow.


“Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.


“Yes,” replied the tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race to prove it.”


With great amusement, the hare agreed. The hare took off like a shot and was soon out of sight. Meanwhile, the tortoise plugged away diligently. Soon, the hare grew distracted with the race and lay down for a nap. While he slept, the tortoise slowly passed him and plodded on. The hare woke with a start and ran swiftly to the finish line, but he could not overtake the tortoise in time.


The moral of the story? “Plain plodding people, we often shall find, will leave hasty confident people behind.”


The Strain of 2020


The nature of many people is to go fast and hard for as long as possible.


But this approach to life can (quite literally!) be a killer. As Aesop’s fable reminds us, enduring over the long haul brings fruitful, sometimes unexpected results. But approaching life as a distance race takes intentional self-care, often a busy person’s lowest priority.


The time to change this trend couldn’t be more important. Gallup recently found that 2020 was officially the most stressful year in recent history, with a record-high 40% of adults worldwide saying they experienced a lot of stress the previous day. This five-percentage-point jump from 2019 represents 190 million more people globally who experienced a lot of stress. Over 75% of U.S. adults report physical or emotional stress symptoms (such as headaches, tiredness, and changed sleeping patterns). And work-related stress costs $190 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs!


Where Stress Meets Rest


Do you need to make time for “me” time?


Initially, this involves focused thought to define what you need. Do you desire more quality relationships? Better sleep? More time for worship or outdoor exercise? Perhaps music or meaningful hobbies need more space in your life.


Next, you must consciously push back on stressors and make time for self-care. Here are some practical examples:


-- Combine a workout and soul-care by setting up regular walks with a friend


-- Set a “get ready for bed alarm” to remind yourself sleep is a priority


-- Book tangible times for prayer, family, and stillness


-- Plan “paper plate days” or easy “mental health” meals to grab a break from kitchen duty


-- Detox frequently in the tub or sauna


-- Block one day each month to plan and reflect on your personal life and calendar


-- Next time you go out with friends, plan an experience (like a cooking class) to give yourself a shot of creativity and growth


The Blessing of Boundaries


One of the best ways to fight stress is to say NO.


Set boundaries on your time, on overspending, and even your commitments at work. If you continually receive last-minute work orders from co-workers and clients, outline your expectations for better communication. Re-negotiate deadlines when unforeseen circumstances make Plan A seem impossible. And when people make requests that set off an internal alarm signal, ask for time to think about the situation before responding. This can give you the wisdom to say no, rearrange your schedule, or possibly find a more workable solution.


Remember, every time you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else. Refuse to cheat on the things that matter most! Your health, your relationships, and your joy are things you should fight to protect; they’ll help you triumph against all odds.


Slow and steady wins the race!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Add Order and Finesse with Versatile Binding Solutions

Your home wouldn’t be complete without the paint, and print projects also come alive when you add beautiful finishes.


Binding is a necessary step for compiling multi-page documents, and you have many options to work with. Here is a quick reference guide of several formats that might be a good fit for your project.


Case Binding


Case binding attaches a hardboard book cover to a bound set of pages.


Case binding is timeless, classy, and typically requires around 60 pages (approximately 1/8 inch) of content. Since the hardcover makes the binding so sturdy, case binding is ideal for documents that will be handled frequently and need to hold up over time. While this method offers immense durability, it is usually the most time-consuming and expensive process.


In case binding, using an adhesively bound – or hinged – cover with a flexible joint can allow your book to open without breaking the spine. (Hinged covers are scored 1/8 inch from the spine, so books can open more easily.) 


Coil Binding


Coil binding uses a piece of spiraled plastic or wire (looped through a series of punched holes) to hold the finished book together.


Also called spiral binding, this format allows a book to be laid flat when opened or even folded over onto itself. This is a wonderful binding option for reports, instruction manuals, cookbooks, calendars, and other items that need both flexibility and the ability to stay open. Spiraled binding comes in over 60 different colors that can be matched to your cover art or brand colors, so the project really pops.


Alternatives include wire-o binding (which uses a double set of wire loops instead of a single spiral) or even several gorgeous fabric options, like those used in Japanese ribbon binding.


Perfect Binding


Perfect binds secure papers together at the spine using glue that attaches them to a wraparound cover.


This is the preferred binding method for most paperback books because perfect binding is a lightweight, cost-effective option for large volume booklets. A variation is lay-flat binding, which allows publications to open completely flat across a centerfold, so images can run across both halves of the spread with minimal disruption.


Plastic Comb Binding


Plastic comb binding is the most common of the punch and bind styles.


Comb-bound documents are cost-efficient and easy to edit and can be reused as many times as you need. Combs come in many different colors and are capable of binding even very thick documents. And they can be customized! Add your document title, company name, or quick reference handle to the comb spine to make your binding more professional.


If resilience is a priority, remember the teeth of a plastic comb tend to break over time.


Post Binding


This mechanical binding process inserts metal or plastic posts through punched or drilled holes in pages to hold them together.


One advantage of post binding is it allows pages to be added (and the post extended) as the size of a publication increases. And the screws or spikes used bring a sleek, polished feel to your piece. 


An alternative to post binding is Velo binding, which applies heat to two plastic binding strips, so the spine cannot be opened and re-closed without a Velobind machine. Velo binding cannot be tampered with or easily photocopied, so this is an excellent option for sensitive legal or financial documents.


Binding methods vary and can be uniquely tailored to the design specifications of your project. Add order and finesse with this beautiful finishing touch.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

3 Ways to Create Pictures that Pop

Have you ever heard the expression, “a picture paints a thousand words?”


It’s true. While words can limit our ability to effectively communicate ideas, even a split-second glance at an image can convey volumes of information. Whether you’re a marketer or design specialist, it is important to employ tactics that add power and clarity to your communication.


Creating Dynamic Images with a Singular Focus


Experienced graphic artists have many tricks of the trade. Some like to blur the background of an image to draw central focus to one element. Others add texture to flat graphics by adding bevels, text shadows, or blended layers.


But on an even more conceptual level, you can communicate boldly and clearly with signs and symbols. Looking to simplify – while adding complexity? Here three techniques you can experiment with in print marketing to amplify your visual messages:


Signs


On a basic level, signs are the combination of a word and a picture to create meaning.


What comes to your mind when you see a bright yellow triangle, an image of a dog with a slash through it, or a photo of a distressed person clutching their neck with two hands? Signs convey simple, universal ideas that viewers can understand immediately. Even colors themselves can have inherent meaning!


Like a cross and skull poison symbol, signs can stop people in their tracks. Signs are especially helpful when communicating with mass audiences at a glance.


Typograms


A typogram refers to the deliberate use of typography to express an idea visually.


For example, the word “half” displayed with only the top half of each letter showing might imply an eraser effect. The word “volleyball” with the “o” popping out above the text brings a playful, spirited message. Want inspiration? Check out this 365-day challenge, where Daniel Carlmatz created a typographic logo for every day of the year!


Typograms use basic visual enforcement to add subtext to the words you display. Logos, taglines, or custom envelopes are a great place to put typograms to work.


Symbolic Imagery


While signs communicate a very straightforward message, many images have connotative meanings with far more complexity.


While a house denotes a place where you live, a home has far greater connotations (like family, security, and love). A subject, the objects surrounding it, and the editing techniques we use can all play a role in the cognitive messages we bring. Consider these examples:



  • Cropping a woman’s face to only the eye can make viewers wonder what she is thinking

  • Cropping a man’s body to only his head and shoulders may suggest he’s leaning in to hear more

  • Inverting colors may insinuate a flashback scene or a memory

  • Increasing contrast between the back and foregrounds might suggest the object behind a person is about to surprise them

  • Larger contrasts or color saturation can elicit feelings or arousal or cheerfulness

  • Increased sepia tones can give an aged or vintage look (like a photo carried in wallet)

Add Clarity and Complexity to Communicate on Many Different Levels


While language can limit our ideas, an image communicates on many different levels. Proficient designers know the more clarity or complexity you bring to your print pieces, the greater impact you will have on your target audience.


Use signs, typograms, and symbolic imagery to add emotional weight, to increase the efficiency of your communication, and achieve a greater return from your marketing dollars.