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.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Keep Things Real with Four Animated Design Tricks

While you may not be able to launch a 3D billboard and party-train campaign, you can to stop traffic with 3D elements and hot design trends from 2019.


Here are four animated styles with practical examples to try in your next printed piece.


Three-Dimensional Designs


3D works seem to be everywhere right now: entire compositions that have so much depth, you can't help but reach out and touch them.


Examples include 3D typography (that works with any kind of font rendering), metallic 3D pipes pulsing with neon electricity, or effervescent 3D poster compositions that jump off the page and make it impossible to look elsewhere.


Asymmetrical Layouts


While rigid designs have been standard for several years, layouts that break free from the predictable grid are now soaring in popularity.


Asymmetrical balance results from using unequal visual weight on each side of your page. For example, one side might contain a dominant element, which is balanced by lesser focal points or light elements on the other.


Asymmetrical balance is more dynamic and interesting. It evokes feelings of modernism, movement, vitality, and curiosity as viewers pause to peruse the design. Box elements within a page, stepped or tabbed layering, or the powerful use of negative space are all strategies for creating products that feel more customized and alive.


Open Compositions


Ready to throw off decaying designs of the past?


For years, illustrators have put frames around design elements, encasing them in boxes, frames, and in strict order. Today, viewers crave open, airy designs which seem to offer only part of the whole picture.


Allow your layouts to embrace white space with elements that feel loosely connected or even chaotic. Play with composition to make each part look like it's continuing off the page to infinity. This allows viewers to engage with your image, using their imagination to wonder what else is out there.


Duotones and Gradients


In the 90s, gradients were a popular way to add color and depth to designs.


They came back in a big way in 2018, enhancing flat designs, adding color overlays to photos, and adding texture to backgrounds of all kinds. Gradients, or "color transitions," are a gradual blending from one color to two or three others, blending similar colors (like different shades of blue) or completing contrasting colors (like purple and red). Gradients can be bold or subtle, modern or rustic, the focal point or the background. They can be used in logos, packaging, business cards, or photo overlays.


Find your favorite color schemes and go to town, because the energy of these stunning color transitions can elevate the vivacity of any design.


It's an exciting time for design, especially when technology continues to allow us to push the limits. Have fun experimenting and make 2019 a year to look your best in print!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Successful Coupon Campaigns

Want to get more people to pull the trigger on a purchase?


Give them a push with perfectly placed coupons! Coupons have a built-in visual appeal and an innate call to action. A coupon with a limited time offer adds a sense of urgency in a customer's mind for two reasons:


1. If they plan to buy something, they want the best possible price.


2. If they don't buy now, it might be out of stock (or full price again) later.  


Why should you use coupons? Many reasons!


Coupon offers can make the difference between someone who's browsing and a purchasing customer.


Coupon offers are also a major incentive to drive traffic to your website. Besides stimulating sales of existing stock, coupons also generate cross sales between products and can energize your brand.


Building a successful coupon campaign may take some trial and error. Here are several action steps get you started:


Start Small


The first step in coupon marketing is to track the performance of every campaign you launch.


If you run a small business, start by choosing one product and run 3-4 coupon specials from time to time. Feature the same product but vary the discount types, values, duration, and distribution methods. Experiment to see what works best for your business. From here you can carefully track and implement promotions that are consistent with your budget and are strategically aligned with your marketing strategy.


Set Goals


Set goals with your coupons.


Do you want to entice first-time buyers, increase purchase volumes, or get more traffic in stores? Without a clear strategy, you can't measure your effectiveness or tailor your promotions.


For example: when appealing to new customers, an open return policy can prompt more people to buy. When upselling current clients, offering companion discounts (like buy one, get one 50% off) can be especially tempting. 


Highlight Cross Promotions


Almost every business has a niche, and coupons can help you expand influence in your corner of the market.


For example, camping outfitters that specialize in lightweight tents have customers who need compression sacks to carry them and portable camp chairs to accessorize. Having a coupon combo on all three items may entice shoppers to purchase more than one type of product.


Place Coupons Where Customers Will Find Them


How will you tempt shoppers to purchase: through direct mail, in your newsletter, or with an on-site purchase incentive?


Here are a few strategies for getting coupons in their hands:



  • Offer a $15 onsite coupon if a customer buys at least three products.
    Mail a $5 gift card that can be used if a customer purchases two items this month (spending a minimum of $50).

  • Offer an additional 20% off if a customer buys anything from the same product category within the next two weeks.

  • When a customer purchases an item for the first time, offer a 25% off coupon for those who leave a review or give their personal information. 43% of consumers will exchange their personal data with companies to save money through personalized promotions, discounts, or deals!

Remember, people buy with their eyes, so your promotion needs to catch attention. Need ideas? Our design specialists can help you generate a coupon that screams "use me!"


Spread the Love


Coupons can help almost every business type and size if you are intentional and consistent.


Coupons are highly visible and shareable, creating urgency and brand awareness. Best of all, everyone loves a deal, so a smart offer can go a long way in creating satisfied customers!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Find Language to Express Your Ideal Design

Design involves a special kind of communication.


First, creators must have an idea or concept in mind. Second, they need to articulate their ideas in ways graphic designers can bring to life on a page. This requires a common language, and sometimes graphic designers are known for having a vocabulary all their own.


If you're working on a design concept, knowing the right terminology will help you communicate to produce the results you envision.


Here are some design adjectives that can help you articulate the concepts you'd like to see in your next print project:


Cool vs. Warm


On the color wheel, warm colors range from yellow to red-purple.


Those colors that are reminiscent of fire or the sun are called warm colors. These hues are reds, oranges, yellows, and pinks. Warm colors communicate energy, playfulness, happiness, sociability, and optimism.


Cool colors include blue, greens, and purple. These colors typically stand for sky, space, water, and nature, and communicate a calming or relaxing tone. Cool colors imply dependability, trust, growth, beauty, confidence, and power.


Minimalist vs. Maximalist


Minimalism is a style or technique that is characterized by cleanness, simplicity, and expressing the most essential ideas.


Minimalist designs use a small number of colors, simple lines, flat designs, or plenty of negative space.


Maximalist or baroque designs are lavish, highly decorative, or triumphant (think ornate wedding invitations). Minimalist designs are sparse and clean, while maximalist designs are exotic or busy.


Feminine vs. Masculine


Feminine designs are usually characterized by details such as soft color palettes, florals, and cursive writing. They may employ fluid, flowing fonts, pastel colors, facial close-ups or silhouettes, or feminine associations such as love, curves, fashion, or beauty.


Masculine designs are typically more rugged, monochromatic, or modern (think IKEA kitchen layouts). They may feature gritty images, thick fonts, hard edges, and darker color schemes.


Playful vs. Professional


Playful design styles are fun, giving an informal (rather than rigid) vibe.


Playful tones may be colorful, fantastical, non-realistic, or cartoon/caricature focused. Often these concepts focus around animals, mascots, illustrations, and impish font pairings.


Professional designs are usually characterized by muted colors and minimal details that represent conservative ideas. Formal tones are communicated with straight, classic font types, simple shapes or objects, minimalist and geometric use of line art, and cool colors (think college diplomas).


Abstract vs. Literal


Abstract designs shape images that are unhindered by what these objects might actually look in real life.


Abstract designs (like this Starbucks water bottle) are imaginative and varied, including ambiguous shapes, contemporary color palettes, curves and splatters, geometric patterns, or blurred images. Abstract art utilizes pure colors, shapes, and forms to express meaning (without getting bogged down in the storylines carried by objects and scenery). Abstract art can touch the emotions in a raw and powerfully direct way.


Literal designs are just the opposite, with concrete, objective ideas. Literal designs use sharp images, bold and simple fonts, and clearly defined limits.


Vintage vs. Modern


Vintage or retro (short for "retrospective") is a style derived from trends of the recent past.


These designs incorporate rustic, nostalgic elements, including visual clues such as old letterpress, hand-drawn typefaces, ornate ribbons, sepia-filtered photos.


Modern designs are just the opposite, often changing in style. In 2019, modern graphic design trends include 3D design and typography, duotones and gradients, warm or moody color palettes for photos, and asymmetrical layouts.


One of the easiest ways to have a better client-designer working relationship is to align your project's design style. Use this guide to get you started as a handy reference to communicate your ideas from start to print!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?


Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.


Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!


1. Take part in local events.


Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.


Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!


2. Create customized stickers or labels.


It's not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!


Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.


3. Start a simple rewards system.


One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offering current customers a loyalty incentive.


If you have repeat customers or need subscription/service renewals to succeed, you can print loyalty punch cards, start a digital point-tracking system, or mail coupons to customers who make a baseline purchase with your business.


4. Offer demonstrations.


Life is more fun when you try new things.


If you wanted to learn yoga, woodworking, or the violin, would you learn by watching or by trying? Participation is an essential way to engage the body, mind, and emotions of your prospects.


Brainstorm ways you can combine learning and doing through presentations. Whether it's giving samples, making online teaching videos, or offering live demonstrations at an industry event, engage your customers by getting them involved.


5. Launch cross promotions.


Is there some way you can build rapport between your business and another firm?


Work with another entrepreneur to offer giveaways, contests, or product discounts. During one holiday, GameStop and PayLess shoes partnered on a cross-promotional campaign. Shoppers at the video game retailer received register coupons for the shoe store, while shoppers at PayLess got discount coupons for GameStop. Because many of their stores are in close proximity, it was a winning strategy for both retailers. Cross promotions can include joint mailings, coupon partnerships, shared booth space, or promoting each other through social media. 


6. Spread the word.


Got flyers? Door hangers and sell sheets? Looking to share the love? Go classic and canvas your area.


Pound the pavement and leave your print materials on porches, doorknobs, windows, cars, and more. Leave your business cards on restaurant tables, at coffee shops, in libraries, or even on mirrors. If you're feeling brave, do some cold calling after you canvas and ask if you can share some follow up info.


7. Perfect your pitch.


What do you sell? What problem can you solve? If you can't explain yourself in a single sentence, then you have a problem.


Like a great campaign slogan, an elevator pitch should summarize your business, product, or service in a concise, convincing fashion. YOU are your best advertisement, so have a short, convincing statement ready to introduce your business to new customers or colleagues any moment the opportunity is at hand!


A Building Block for the Future


Most of these tactics are inexpensive, but they do take time and effort.


Remember, results won't come immediately, but boosting your name now can increase your revenue and enable you to cast a larger net in the future. Give us a call or visit our website to chat about affordable printed resources you can add to your offline marketing arsenal today.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

3 Reasons Direct Mail is Still Effective

Long before television and online marketing, direct mail ruled.


One of the most popular examples of direct mailing can be traced back to Sears in 1888. The company sent a printed mailer to potential customers advertising watches and jewelry. Not long after, the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog became extremely popular nationwide.


Today direct mail has received a bit of a bad rap. The term "junk mail" isn't exactly a compliment! Some refer to direct mail as an "old" form of advertising, thinking of direct mail as antiquated or off-target.


But is that really the case?


The fact is, many companies do use direct marketing. According to a 2015 study by the Data & Marketing Association, 57 percent of total mail volume was comprised of direct mail pieces.


Response to direct mail continues to be strong every year, generating leads for businesses across a range of industries. Consider customer response rates from these common marketing methods:


  • 0.9% -- Online Displays

  • 0.6% -- Social Media

  • 0.5% -- Paid Search

  • 0.45% -- E-mail Marketing

  • 6.0% -- Direct Mail to Household

Why is Direct Mail Effective?


Direct mail is easy.


Direct mail marketing is helpful because it's easy to process.


In an age of digital noise, the tactile presence of a physical mailing is refreshing! One study found it takes 21% less cognitive effort to process physical mail, so your audience can digest it quickly and easily.


Direct mail is interesting.


The USPS found that 47% of Millennials check their physical mailbox each day, and many consider perusing mail a leisurely activity.


According to the Data & Marketing Association and the USPS, 18-21 year-olds' response rates to direct mail are as high as 12.4%. If you have a new business or are willing to offer coupon discounts, millennials are quite likely to respond!


Direct mail is memorable.


People who spend time with physical ads have a stronger emotional response and a better memory of this material.


Of course, a clever message goes a long way too! If you send direct mail, do your best to create colorful, memorable messages, like this:


IKEA wanted to feature the simplicity of its inexpensive furniture so they engineered a 3D postcard. When customers "opened" the postcard, this flat mailing turned into a replica of the LACK side table, available for under $10 at IKEA.


The postcard perfectly demonstrated one of IKEA's clever design concepts – minimalist furniture that ships flat but pops to life upon arrival. IKEA's postcard allowed users to experience the simple assembly of the LACK table, which left a deep, memorable impression.


Go Face-to-Face Through Distinct Direct Mail


Whether you send mass e-mails, many people will toss your message without reading it.


But if you send direct mail, some will offer you one-on-one attention they wouldn't give to any other medium. Paul Entin, owner of New York City-based EPR marketing, said he uses direct mail because it stands tall in a digital generation:


"Except for the many catalogs that clog our mailboxes between Halloween and Christmas, most of us receive very little snail mail, certainly far less than in years past," Entin said. "This means your direct mailer has a far greater chance to stand out from the rest of the mail and get noticed."


If you need help creating the perfect direct mail piece that will stand out, we can help you every step of the way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Drive Fresh Traffic for Your Business

A new era in business is bringing fresh flavor to Kohl's.


As traditional retailers struggle to keep their doors open, Kohl's executives are trying something radically different: a grocery partnership with Aldi. In March of 2018, the department store announced it would team up with Aldi to offer grocery sales in 10 of its locations.


"The key priority we have as a company is to drive traffic," Kevin Mansell, the chief executive of Kohl's said in a Thursday earnings call. "We're focused on traffic-driving retailers: Groceries, supermarket chains, they drive a lot of traffic. We're finally on a path where we're getting more [shoppers]."


In an age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar businesses have to hustle to make their company more relevant to consumers. Kohl's has experimented with lighter inventory, smaller stores, and more streamlined partnerships with companies like Under Armour and Amazon. Other retail giants have focused on adding communal spaces, demonstration areas, and workshops to encourage shoppers to linger.


Feed Your Funnel with New Customers


Ultimately, every successful business has to draw new business and keep customers coming back.


In your niche, there are probably several complementary businesses that don't compete directly with your product or service. Many of these companies have a base that could easily feed your sales funnel.


What are the mutually beneficial relationships you could build with other businesses?


While Aldi and Kohl's may seem like an unlikely match, their differences balance each other in a unique way, allowing Kohl's to gain additional foot traffic and offering Aldi to expand their market reach. For Aldi, renting space within Kohl's stores is cheaper than building stand-alone stores, and the partnership creates exposure for the lesser known German grocery chain.


As you consider new partnerships, it's also healthy to keep an eye on the competition, because an ideal way to grow your client base is to capture users who are already in need of services like yours! Examine the market tactics of businesses you compete with. What product are they offering? What are they doing that their customers like or dislike? How could you do it in a better, more personalized way?


Actively monitor what your competitors are doing in web design, service packages, or marketing techniques to feed your creativity or to counter punch with your own sales strategies. Looking to woo some of your competitor's customers? Tools like Mention or Reddit can help you monitor customer sentiment. Online reviews of your competitors are also a great place to see how your rivals are succeeding or where you can do better.


Position Yourself as the Answer


Whether you're wooing new customers or generating leads, it's important to give potential clients a good reason to try your services.


Think about what makes your ideal customer happy, sad, scared, or excited, and position yourself to bring the answers they need. "Identify those places where they are likely to be found (media, online, offline, mail, etc.) and then create messages for them," says Jeff Motter, CEO and chief marketing officer of Easy Bay Marketing Group. This may mean creating content via webinars or printed newsletters or physically networking through community events or industry conferences.


And don't forget to close the loop.


After your efforts to bring in business, remember to intentionally follow up with calls, e-mails, or samples. Many prospects and great conversations fall by the wayside because you fail to execute after a lead shows interest. As real estate sales guru Michelle Moore says, "Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

7 Banner Options to Raise Your Bottom Line

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


For high-traffic areas custom printed vinyl banners are an excellent investment. In terms of cost, a vinyl banner is one of the most inexpensive, most high-impact marketing tools.


Vinyl banners are also versatile, great for large exteriors, point-of-sale kiosks, welcome centers, or interior displays.


Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business' profits. Pole banners can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.


Banner Inspiration


Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Here are several types of banners that can give you a killer first impression.


Ceiling Banners


Get your customers looking up by taking advantage of your unused ceiling space!


Use ceiling banners for event signage, special events, product features, or welcome messages. Suspended banners or circular hanging signs are eye-catching, easy to install, and extremely impressive.


Personalized Retractable Banners


Great for special events or pop-up displays, roll-up retractable banners include accompanying stand and carrying case for mobility.


Economical retractable banners are sleek, lightweight, and easy to transport.


Seasonal Business Banners


A fresh look conveys momentum and energy.


Print seasonal business banners to spice up any seasonal promotion, window display, or an exterior signpost.


Feather Flags


Want to get the job done with a contemporary edge?


Feather or teardrop flags are especially effective when you have limited space or want to enhance your exterior advertising.


The average storefront sign is seen 50-60 times per month by anyone living within five miles of your location. This could be responsible for as much as 85% of your monthly walk-in sales!


For street and sidewalk advertising, festivals, trade shows, and more, feather flags or waving swooper flags will catch attention and make your message shine.


Text or Graphic Only Banners


Sometimes, the simplest designs are the most effective, especially when you want to send a straightforward message that can be understood at a glance.


Try monochromatic backgrounds, all caps letters, or sharp contrasts between the images and elements in your banner.


Welcome Banners


Whether it's a grand opening, a sidewalk greeting, or a hallway banner, welcome banners are an appealing option to add a professional, hospitable touch.


Bright colors and branded designs are ideal for putting your best foot forward.


Sale Banners


When surveyed, 50% of in-store shoppers named "on-premise signage" as the reason for their visit or purchase.


People are always hunting for a deal, so shout it loud with banners that can't be overlooked.


Want to stretch your budget? Print generic banners (think "20% Off," "Free Shipping," "Featured Item," or "New Collection Clearance") so you can use them repeatedly. 


Banners can attract attention, create brand association, and set the tone for your business. Capitalize on this simple marketing tool and accelerate your sales today!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Small Business Twitter Tips for 2019

If you're a small business owner, you know time is limited.


Usually, your task list far outweighs your capacity for meeting your goals. When identifying social media objectives, you have to be clear on the what, why, and where you will engage.


How Can Twitter be a Valuable Resource for You?


Stats show that Twitter is still an effective way to connect with a broad range of customers.


Forty-seven percent of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit that company's website, and 75% of companies with an online presence are now using Twitter for marketing. Twitter's own study found that Twitter users, compared to the general online population, were more likely to discover or try new things and were more receptive of change. Twitter can help you reach broader audiences and engage with a generation that values interaction and experience.


As you evaluate your Twitter marketing in 2019, be clear about your goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Offer customer support or increase online sales? Also, evaluate what kind of Twitter voice you want to have. Some Twitter accounts exist to respond to customer complaints while others seek a playful or promotional tone. Find a persona and stick with it to build trust and continuity with readers.


Twitter Metrics That Matter


Next, take a peek at these performance metrics as you consider how to engage:


Post Native Media


Twitter favors posts that are uploaded to its own platform more than sharing from another platform, so it's always better to upload something directly.


Uploaded photos and videos will receive a larger preview treatment than external links.


Use Video Frequently


Video Tweets are six times more likely to be Retweeted than photos and three times more likely to be Retweeted than GIFs.


Studies found that regardless of length, in-feed video ads were effective in introducing products, creating buzz, or communicating a brand message.


Get Eyes on You


Want people to Tweet more about your brand or product?


Add a branded generic business hashtag to your bio and share it in all your print and digital marketing. Pin upcoming events to the top of your page, tag other businesses or customers when you post, or consider giving people discounts when they make a reservation or win a special trivia challenge through your feed.


Play With Words


Part of Twitter's appeal is that it's short and sweet.


Marketing hashtags are a punchy way to launch a campaign or to connect all other Tweets about your company or product (classics include #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin or the #WantAnR8" driving surprise days by Audi).


Hashtags give your Tweets context and give conversations longevity and momentum. Hashtags aren't case sensitive, but adding capital letters can make them easier to read, like "GoForGold" versus "goforgold." Short, distinct hashtags are more likely to get used. During recruitment season, colleges on Twitter may use the hashtag "#NSD2019" instead of this, "#NationalSigningDay2019."


Refresh and Repeat


Many users are on Twitter for quick bursts of time so even daily posts can be missed.


Don't be afraid to resource your material and Retweet the same material several times. You can change photos, captions, or the featured media but attach the same content several times over the course of your marketing schedule.


As you grow on Twitter, be sure to listen! Twitter offers a great platform to hear what customers are saying, to keep a pulse on industry opinion, or to network with other businesses. Some of these people may end up being your most valued customers or your next project partner!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

Ever feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? "It's impossible," you say. "I just don't have an eye for design."


There's hope for even you!


In today's generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you're creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.


1) Proximity


The main purpose of proximity is to organize.


When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.


When you're thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relationship, so items not related to each other should be spaced apart, while elements you want to connect should be grouped.


Don't be afraid of white space! Sprawling elements throughout a page to avoid white space will make a piece more visually challenging for your viewer to comprehend.


What to Avoid: Too many separate elements on a page, grouping unrelated items in proximity, sticking things in the corners or the middle to avoid empty space.


2) Contrast


Contrast is one of the best ways to add visual interest in your page.


Contrast excites the atmosphere, draws the eye, and clarifies communication. Contrast is nothing if not bold, so one goal of contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. If fonts, colors, or outline borders are not the same, then make them extremely different: white on black, 24-point font above 12-point font, or neon shapes near pastel text boxes.


What to Avoid: Being wimpy, using similar typefaces, highlighting a non-focal element, creating unnecessary chaos on a page. 


3) Alignment


Alignment unifies a page and creates flow and personality.


Nothing should be placed on your page haphazardly. Every element you use should connect with other elements to create a clean, sophisticated look.  When items are aligned, the result is a stronger cohesive unit. Be conscious of where you place elements and align pieces in a page even when the two objects are physically far apart (like a top headline with the bottom footnote).


What to Avoid: Using multiple alignment styles (i.e. some center, others left) on one page or always defaulting to centered alignment.


4) Repetition


Repeating visual elements of design throughout a piece will bring consistency and strengthen the unity of your projects.


Repetition can be used with colors, fonts, bullets, graphics, borders, subheadings elements, or anything a reader will visually recognize. Repetition is a conscious effort to unify all parts of a design: elements repeating through various pages, colors displaying patterns, drop caps in lead paragraphs or sidebars in successive layouts.


What to Avoid: Making repetitive elements too subtle or infrequent, being haphazard rather than intentional, or repeating an element so often it breaks the flow or the document as a whole.


While design may not come naturally to you, everyone has room to grow. By using these four principles, your work will look more professional, unified, and interesting. And you will have more fun creating!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Grow Creativity with the Brainstorming Strategies of Walt Disney

From Tarzan's treehouse to the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Disney's creative team has spent decades constructing fantasy lands depicted in Disney movies.


Bringing dreams to life is Disney's business, and its empire spans 11 theme parks, a town, four cruise ships, dozens of hotels, and many waterparks and restaurants that help guests experience the happiest place on Earth.


The dreamers, or "Imagineers" at Disney are the brains behind the vision. Peter Rummell, who served as chairman of the Imagineers for 12 years, said creativity doesn't just happen. It has to be engineered:


"It is a process and if you don't understand that and if you sit around and wait for the lightning bolt, you're not going to be very productive."


Walt Disney himself was a master of creative thinking and brainstorming. Not only was he talented in discovering ideas, he knew how to convert possibilities into reality. One associate said this about Disney:


"There were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler. You never knew which one was coming to the meeting."


Disney's Strategic Brainstorming Techniques


Over time, Walt's team used his own attributes for guiding thoughts to build parallel thinking in groups, while at the same time generating concepts, critiquing ideas, and solving problems.


NLP expert Robert Dilts helped bring the technique to life, like this:


  • Four parts of a room were set up for different thinking methods: imagining, planning, critiquing, and for stepping outside the concept. Arranging a physical space for each mindset prepared teams to switch from one thinking mode to another.

  • Teams gathered with a target objective: an innovation to brainstorm, a problem to solve, or a process to improve. While dreamers practiced unhindered green light thinking, planners used red light critiques to define the how, the timeline, or the plan.

  • Meanwhile, critics and the concept overseers analyzed weaknesses of the plan, defining missing elements, gaps in the process, or obstacles to address.

Rotating between spaces allowed teams to transition from unhindered passion to logical plans. Impossible ideas weren't immediately squashed. And through this defined creative process, teams could generate solid creative ideas with an action plan to apply it. 


Unlock Creativity in Your Team


Though Peter Rummell has since moved on from the Imagineers, he says his time at Disney taught him three valuable lessons for guiding teams in creative thinking:


1. Entertain ideas from everyone.


"I think one of the major lessons I learned was that despite the hierarchy of an organization, an idea can come from anywhere."


Top leaders should be willing to listen and younger team members should be encouraged that everyone has a voice.


2. Build an eclectic team.


"An accountant sitting next to a poet is a really good idea," Rummell said.


High IQs are not pre-requisites to creative success. When teams are full of variety, often the least likely people can generate the best concepts. Varying skill sets help to energize the best ideas and to round out gaps in the plan.


3. Vet even the strangest ideas.


When Rummell's team was brainstorming waterpark ideas, they were totally stalled.


"We didn't want to do another Pirates of the Caribbean or some Caribbean island," Rummell said. "We were trying to figure out what would be fun or different."


Everything sounded silly until someone left for the bathroom and walked by a cubicle decorated in snowstorms. Though the idea of a freak Florida snowstorm sounded ridiculous, eventually the idea became "Blizzard Beach," the theme of an entire waterpark in Orlando.


Creativity doesn't just happen, so get resourceful and create some new brainstorming processes of your own. When you're ready to roll out new concepts, we'll help you bring them to life in print!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How Emotions Win Customers

Cassell's Hamburgers is something of a Cinderella story.


Founder Al Cassell launched the iconic lunch counter in Los Angeles in 1948. Famous for grinding beef daily, Al's passion for great burgers and homemade mayonnaise lived for years. But by 2012, struggling owners decided to sell off Cassell's rights, recipes, and equipment. It seems there was no magic touch that could save this beauty.


Jingbo Lou had other ideas.


As a Chinese exchange student, Lou came to the U.S. to study at the University of Southern California and developed a passion for architectural restoration that grew out curiosity for American culture:


"As an immigrant to this country, my very big task is to learn the culture," Lou says. "I really fell in love with the history."


J Lou put this love to work bringing Cassell's back to life in a salvaged, crumbling 1920s inn called the Hotel Normandie. J Lou recognized a hotel/restaurant combo was a chance to cater to the nostalgia of many Californians.


And he was spot on.


Since Cassell's reopening in 2014, the business has topped many "best of" lists and expanded into Downtown LA and a LAX location in Terminal 1.


Why such phenomenal success? Because emotions sell.


Emotions Win Customers


Brands build loyalty because emotions win customers!


While you may believe your decisions are rational, most choices are actually controlled by your intuitive (emotional) mind. Studies show that people rely on the heart, rather than on logic, to make decisions. Douglass Van Praet, author of Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing, says this:


"The most startling truth is we don't even think our way to logical solutions. We feel our way to reason. Emotions are the substrate, the base layer of neural circuitry underpinning even rational deliberation. Emotions don't hinder decisions. They constitute the foundation on which they're made!"


Brands put emotional marketing in play by focusing more on the needs and passions of customers instead of on the unique product benefits their products bring.


For example, Pampers exalts healthy, well-rested infants instead of dry baby bottoms. Nike inspires people to overcome limitations instead of highlighting superior shoe quality. Harley sells people freedom without limits rather than offering a mode of transportation. And Cassell's Hamburgers offers people a return to simpler days, including original chairs, tables, signage, and original menus hanging on the wall.


Want to enhance the emotional message your brand brings? Brand marketers suggest starting with steps like these:


  • Treat prospects as people rather than buyers

  • Give people multiple chances or channels to try or become familiar with your products

  • Use ads with identity messages that motivate or move people

  • Create a shared community among purchasers

  • Inspire users to have dreams

  • Offer messages that give people an experience, not just information

Create stories that allow your company to be part of people's lives and appeal to every aspect of your customers' personalities: their ego, needs, dreams, or general emotional state.


These connections can happen through music, artworks, logos, signage, slogans, sport, or anything that really 'speaks to your customers.


Above all, emotional branding seeks to build lifelong partnerships between a business and its customers. Once someone is emotionally captured by a brand, they are more likely to stay loyal for decades.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Target Local Consumers with Event Sponsorship

Corporate sponsorship is one of the most effective marketing channels, but most businesses haven't tried it.


What is event sponsorship and why should you consider it? From a 5K road race to a good old-fashioned neighborhood picnic, companies that get outside their walls can make a huge splash in the community.


Won't You Be My Neighbor?


Businesses that rely on local support understand that their company will grow primarily through the support of its neighbors.


How do you engage your neighbors?


By being a good neighbor! Put a face on your business by sponsoring a baseball league, hosting community events on your lawn, or by mobilizing your city to benefit a beloved charity.


Community development events show you are invested in your region and you enjoy its people. Here are some fun examples of how firms have made this a reality:



  • Budweiser helps sponsor the annual "duck" tape festival in Avon, Ohio. With music, brews, fashion shows, and family-friendly movies, the three-day event draws more than 60,000 people from around the world to see taped parade floats and a playful tapestry of taped costume creations.   

  • McDonald's and Pizza Hut sponsor "the Chicken Show" in Wayne, Nebraska, which features a "national cluck-off" and the world's largest chicken dance celebration.

  • In 2016 Pretty Pampers Beauty Essex hosted a charity event that offered affordable and luxurious experiences while raising money for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Local spas teamed up to provide steeply discounted services like massages and facials so donors could relax and unwind. Between sessions, guests could shop boutique vendor stalls featuring local clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, and home decor.

Hosting or sponsoring an event can help your business demonstrate its commitment to community involvement, philanthropy, and family fun. Of those local businesses who get involved in a community event, 80% said they were satisfied with the results and many reaped tangible benefits like features in local newspapers, tags in citywide blogs, promotional newsletter highlights, and social media selfies!


Events spread your name in print through T-shirts, prizes, water bottles, and giant displays, and photos of real people in action. This prompts word-of-mouth marketing that simply can't be captured elsewhere. In 2016-2017, companies who used local events saw sales increase by an average of 14 percent.


Use Corporate Events to Spread the Love


How can your business get started in spreading some cheer?


Sponsor a charity event or contest, host a sales or promo booth at a community festival, promote an on-site event, or allow your customers to nominate recipients of a "give-back" incentive you sponsor for your city. Sponsorship doesn't always have to be monetary: you can also look for ways to volunteer branded items, free service from your company, or concessions donations for a city-wide festival.


Want to multiply your marketing dollars and make a lasting impact? A micro-market event focus can bring better results and spread the love. When companies support issues they care about, they gain greater trust and loyalty from patrons. And that investment is sure to yield great returns!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Craft First-Class Flyers with 5 Quick Tricks

Want to grab attention for your event, promotion, or group?


Flyers are a low-cost form of mass communication that can be personally delivered, distributed through mail, posted in public places, or sent via e-mail. Flyers are fun to create and provide a great place to experiment with unusual images or layouts. As you explore the possibilities, here are five areas to sharpen your design:


1. Magnetic Focal Point


When you begin your design, clearly identify the theme of your message.


Look for an image or headline that best communicates this, and build your entire design around it. Every flyer should have one thing on the page that is huge, dominant, or captivating. If you catch their eye with this focal point, they are more likely to read the rest of your text. 


2. Logical Design Flow


After the focal point, your flyer design should have a sensible layout that intentionally leads the reader through the page.


Strong subheads should allow viewers to quickly scan the flyer. If the skim layers don't interest them, people won't read the copy. Designs should include engaging color and graphic contrast. If everything is large, nothing can really grab a reader's attention. Sequence a logical flow: left to right, top to bottom, or using visual cues like numbers, arrows, or a "map" of dashed lines.


3. Strategic Repetition


Whether your headline uses a playful typeface, script style, or an ordinary font with unusual colors, consider bringing a little of that font into the body of the text for repetition.


This may mean using one letter or one word in that typeface or highlighting key words or phrases in each section of the design to make them pop. A strong contrast of typefaces will add interest to your flyer, but intentional design repetition will bring a sense of integrity and solidarity to your piece.


4. Cohesive Alignment


Choose one alignment for the entire flyer.


Don't center the headline then set the body copy flush left. Don't center everything on the page but also squish extra elements in the bottom corners. Be confident in your layouts: try all flush left or flush right. Your design should feel brave and bold!


5. Appropriate Content


What should you include in a flyer?


While brochures or foldable flyers come in a variety of formats, a basic rule of thumb is this: the "where" determines the "what." The delivery of your publication has everything to do with its content. If your piece arrives in the mail to someone on your mailing list, you can include much more on it. If it is to been seen on a display board as people stroll by, your main feature must be readable at a glance.


Flyers are fun to create because they allow you to abandon restraint.


Your flyer will often go head-to-head with dozens of competing pages, so grab their attention and really go wild. Anything out of the ordinary will make people stop and look, and that is 90 percent of your goal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Build Momentum with Contests that Make Your Customers Smile

Boston was overjoyed again as their darling RedSox capped off a 5-1 series victory over the Dodgers to take the 2018 World Series title.


The championship was well deserved, as Boston won a record 119 games, more victories than any World Series champion except the 1998 Yankees. "Now we deserve to be known as the greatest Red Sox team of all time," said infielder Brock Holt.


If the RedSox are not the greatest, they are certainly the most loved. According to numbers crunched by Bundle, Boston fans are "America's most obsessed baseball fans." Bundle's stats include money spent on tickets, food, and merchandise, including neighborhood restaurants and bars. From May of 2003 to April 2013, the Red Sox sold out every home-game seat – a total of 820 games for a major professional sports record!


The "Perfect Game" Promotion


One Boston retailer recognized this passion and tapped into the momentum.


In 2013, Jordan's Furniture held a "Perfect Game" promotion with one simple premise: any fan buying furniture or merchandise before May 5 would receive the furniture for free if a Red Sox pitcher threw a perfect game between July 17 and October 1. While that perfect game never materialized, the contest was certainly a home run. In 2014, Jordan's offered a new promotion: if the Sox could repeat their 2013 World Series victory, everyone who bought furniture between before May 18, 2014, would get a full rebate on their purchase!


Jordan's grabbed local excitement and used it as fuel for sales. And why not? A wonderful way to build brand loyalty is by making your customers smile. Like a "kiss a pig" contest generates giving, you can grow marketing engagement with an entertaining contest of your own. Here are three examples to get your creative juices flowing:


1. Get Them Snapping. 


People love to snap and share photos, especially of themselves.


Capitalize on that obsession with personalized photo contests! Any photo contest can begin with these words: "Show us your _____." Contestants then take photos that demonstrate their best, their worst, their ugliest, their cutest, etc.


Perhaps the winner of the ugliest couch gets a free upgrade from your showroom. Maybe the cutest baby picture nets a year of free diapers. The craziest bedhead gets a free cut and style from your salon. Get them sharing and enjoy the results!


2. Get Them to Go Wild. 


In this scenario, customers capture shots of themselves using your product "in the wild."


This contest could include video or traditional photo categories and might also be used as a monthly or bi-annual promotion. Winners receive a prize, a service credit, or a gift card.


When you publicize the contest, include questions that might draw fun testimonials as well. Feature results in your newsletters, social media posts, or in hilarious product reviews!


3. Get Them Celebrating


What food do you adore? Do others love it too?


Get their taste buds tingling by building contests around minor secular observances like national doughnut day, coffee day, s'more day, etc. (Run a quick internet search of "national food days" for inspiration!)


Seasonal contests allow you to foster anticipation every year, especially during your off seasons. Ask people to vote on their favorite pie flavor then serve samples. Ask contestants to guess the number of Ghiradelli chocolates in your vase on National Chocolate Day. Ask for sweetest first date stories and give away a Valentine's Day package at a local restaurant or hotel.


 Make customers smile and keep your name front and center all year!