Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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

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


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


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


1. Ask Questions Upfront


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


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


2. Plot Your Course Early


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


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


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


3. Assemble All the Elements


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


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


4. Schedule Regular Updates


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


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


5. Allow For Margin


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


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


How Much Should I Budget?


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



  1. Estimate your monthly income

  2. List your fixed design expenses

  3. List your variable design expenses

  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses 

  5. Create the budget


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


Better Together


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


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

Saturday, July 27, 2019

How to Win Over Millennials with Effective Print Marketing

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


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



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

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

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

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

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


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

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

  • 90% think direct mail advertising is reliable.

  • 73% use direct mail coupons when making purchases. 

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

Corner Younger Markets


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


1. Keep it short and sweet.


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


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


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


2. Use social proof.


Need an accurate answer?


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


3. Make it tech-friendly.


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


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


Print to Win


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


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


 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Get Ahead at Work by Busting These Bad Habits

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


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


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


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


Habits that Hurt You Personally


Skipping Breaks


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


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


Winging it on Mondays


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


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


Negative Attitudes


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


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


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


Habits that Annoy Others


Eating Smelly or Loud Foods


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


Grooming at Your Desk


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


Interrupting or Asking Too Many Questions


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


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


Habits that Harm Your Reputation


Using Work Time Improperly


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


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


Distraction or Delays


Why is texting while driving illegal?


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


Being Nosy or Political


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


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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Easy Ideas to Boost Your Social Media Standing

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


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


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


Edge Body Boot Camp


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


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


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


Eileen Lanza Realty


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


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


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


See Jane Work


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


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


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


Keep Your Name Current


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


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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How to Build Trust in Your Team

Once there was a businessman on a routine domestic flight.


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


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


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


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


Weather the Storms


Does your team trust that you are taking them home?


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


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


1. Show your vulnerabilities.


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


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


2. Regularly delegate authority.


Give trust to get trust.


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


3. Be transparent about money.


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


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


4. Operate from a visible set of values.


If your firm lacks clear values, define them.


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


5. Don't let difficult issues linger.


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


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


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


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

Thursday, June 27, 2019

How to Grow When Sales are Slow

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


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


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


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


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


Fast-Track Productivity in Unconventional Ways


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


3. Stretch your team's skills.


When activity wanes, morale often follows.


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


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


4. Network or collaborate with other professionals.


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


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


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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Effortless: Three Tips to Boost the "Cool" Factor of Your Designs

Fashionable. Admirable. Timeless.


If you were to define cool, what words would you use?


Cool is just . . . cool.


In some sense, even describing what makes something cool can diminish its appeal. But in print and design, nothing is more appealing than cool.


What Makes a Brand Cool?


How do you add this edge to set your products apart?


To find out, marketing scholars Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell carried out six experiments comparing consumer products, coolness ratings, and participant reactions.


In their research, Warren and Campbell discovered a relationship between the qualities of coolness and autonomy, finding designs perceived as cool were those that radiated autonomy in a socially acceptable way. Cool things tend to go a step beyond "stylish" things, so cool designs often push the boundaries of style. Think normative styles like jeans – but add excessive grunge rips. Or ordinary 1950s T-shirts – but add packs of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve.


Coolness is not an inherent quality, but rather a social construct. If coolness comes from stretching limits, one of the keys to cool designs is knowing your niche and understanding what customers perceive to be unconventional. As Warren & Campbell conclude: "objects and people are cool only to the extent that others consider them cool."


Bringing Coolness to Life


Looking to push the boundaries in a way that's meaningful to your customers? Here are three ways to set your designs apart:


1. Define the Gap in Your Market.


Look beyond your design to the people you are designing for.


What brands, social values, or fashion cues motivate them? Look at products your customers typically buy and find the "gap" between current designs and those that are too intense or extreme.


To design in the gap, add a bold twist to the colors, fonts, or ideas that might typically interest them. Wrapping paper company Gift Couture saw a gap in the market for wrapping paper "sets," so they created a series of themed papers that coordinated together, like the Cheeseburger set (bun, meat, lettuce, and tomato wrapping papers) the steak set (raw meat and cutting board style designs), and the pizza set (pizza paper with a coordinating pizza box).


2. Bring Magic to the Mundane.


Cool people or concepts have a flow, grace, or character all their own.


Cool things often appear effortless (though they rarely are), so how do you add this sense of simplicity to your work?


Seek authenticity that focuses more on a core concept or idea than on the perfected final outcome. For a photographer, this might mean focusing on the moment, not the shot. For an advertiser, this might mean expressing character irrespective of the norms, beliefs, or expectations of others. For a designer, this might mean using minimalist designs, stark angles, or unfiltered photos one might generally reject.  


3. Re-purpose the Old.


Sometimes the best designs are a twist on history.


Awaken inspiration for what WILL be cool by looking to what HAS been cool! From refinished wood to vintage art deco backdrops, sometimes the coolest things to come around are those that have been around.


Designs nodding to the past evoke nostalgia and spark a profound emotional response. And cool designs don't just reproduce old styles; they recreate them in arresting new ways.


Find the Sweet Spot


Cool designs understand their consumers' tastes and hit the sweet spot between the ordinary and the unconventional.


From the unique to the unexpected, when you appear effortless, incorporate the past, and design one step beyond the norm, it will give you an edge an set your products apart.