Friday, September 6, 2019

Use Themed Calendars as a Strategic Marketing Asset

In a digital world cluttered with text messages, pop-up ads, and spam, sometimes paper products hit the sweet spot when it comes to organization.


As the end of the year approaches, client and employee gifts may be on your to-do list. Themed calendars are a clever marketing asset that can serve as a unique token of gratitude.


Calendars are practical for everyone, offering branded staying power while conveying your business goals in a way that's customized to the interests of your audience.


Looking for a few creative ideas? Here are three strategies to capture unique calendar themes.


1. Identify Your Goals.


Each company has its own high-profile days.


Whether you run a real estate company, a chiropractic clinic, or a financial consulting firm, there is a calendar theme that can be tailored to your needs. Start your design by identifying your goals. Do you want to generate more end-of-year orders? Keep employees on track for milestone deadlines? Sell more gym memberships?


Specify concrete goals you want to achieve and tie them to graphics or promotional themes that will build momentum for your business.


2. Schedule Your Promotions.


Did you know one of the busiest days for Papa Murphy's Take-and-Bake pizzas is Valentine's Day?


Each year on February 14, the company generates tons of sales from heart-shaped pizzas and s'more dessert delights. The key? Combining deliberate calendar planning with irresistible product promotions.


Every business has crazy seasons and slow seasons, and planning ahead can provide strategic opportunity to offset these challenges. Do you traditionally see a slump or spike in your business during critical months? Call these out in your calendar by placing special promotions in the calendar, or prepping team members with personalized perks or reminders within your calendar design.


Whether it's the biggest sales day for local bakeries or the top period when shipping companies miss their delivery guarantees, highlighting seasonal trends can set you up for success.


3. Combine Calendars with Loyalty Incentives.


Rewards programs, freebies, and giveaways always make customers feel special.


Did you know eight out of 10 U.S. consumers own at least one giveaway item, and 60 percent of people who receive a promotional gift keep it for up to two years? Consider coordinating your calendars with themed swag or surprise incentives to keep loyalty levels high while generating significant growth.


According to the 2018 Trust Barometer report, over time, returning clients spend 67% more than new customers. Research estimates that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company's profitability by 75%!


365 Days of Exposure


Calendars come in many formats: desktop, magnet, peel and stick, or even posters.


Want to find just the right product for your needs? From triangular desk calendars to transparent covers, we are happy to help you design the perfect promotional calendar. Keep your audience engaged with 365 days of exposure for your business!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

4 Nonverbal Communication Hacks to Streamline Your Success

"Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say." 
- Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes


Do you appreciate it when you are telling a story and your listener sneaks a peek at their watch? How about when you ask your child for help with a chore and they mumble a begrudging "yes" while dramatically rolling their eyes?


Communication is a nuanced endeavor.


Whether you're using hundreds of words or simply standing in silence, you are in constant communication with those around you. Experts estimate that a minimal amount of communication happens through the exchange of words, while up to 93% occurs through tone, expression, and gestures.


Nonverbal interactions are our primary mode of communication (coming so naturally, even the smallest child has it mastered), and it is difficult to "fake." Nonverbals usually tell the truth, even when our words are lies.


Be a Better Communicator in Your Professional Environment


Here are four interesting strategies to use nonverbal communication to your advantage.


1. Break the Tension


In moments of high tension, people feel more defensive when they sense you are trying to "win."


Nodding your head during a conversation communicates that you are listening and making an active attempt to understand an opposing point. Nodding can also win people over to your viewpoint, as people subconsciously mirror the body language of those around them. When you nod while speaking, it adds authenticity to your words and makes people more likely to compromise with you in heated situations.


2. Understand the Relational Bonds in the Room


Sometimes the quickest way to grow trust in a group is to figure out where loyalties lie.


One trick is to watch for eye contact. When a group of people laughs, members of the group can't help but make eye contact with the people they feel close to.


Another clue is the direction of a person's feet. In group conversations, if the feet of the listener are pointed at the person speaking, it conveys interest and respect. If the listener's feet are pointed away, it often shows they are disinterested or disconnected.


3. Communicate Confidence Even When You are Nervous


If projecting confidence can determine the outcome of your conversation, how can you add weight to your nonverbals?


Confidence is something you can practice before you enter a room. Research shows that the use of "power poses" (placing your hands on your hips, standing tall with your chin raised, or raising your fists above your head), can trick your brain into feeling more confident. Do this for 30 seconds before a meeting, and you'll walk into a room with more natural confidence, resulting in a smoother conversation and a more poised disposition.  


4. Increase Influence Without Saying a Word


Sometimes the biggest distractions in a conversation are the fillers.


To establish trust while listening, avoid needless "noise" like pacing, tapping your foot, or fidgeting with your hands or pen. When you ask a question, and someone is slow to respond, resist the urge to jump back in. Remain silent for a few extra beats to show you respect this person's thought process and that you're confident in moments of negotiation. Quieting your impulses also helps you come across as competent and in control.


A Springboard for Success


These tips won't make you a communication ninja, but streamlining these natural cues can help you better understand the relationships of those around you.


Intentionally sharpen your nonverbal skills, and you will build your network and streamline a path to success!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Exert Influence While You're Stuck in the Middle

Are you stuck in the middle when it comes to your job?


Perhaps you supervise many, but you still answer to a few. Or maybe you frequently advise a superior who seems less competent than you. Leading from the middle is tough. But managers who influence from the middle are often in a perfect position to collaborate with others, solve problems, and have significant organizational impact.


Want to make the most of your time in the middle? Here are three ways to hone upward influence in this transitional season:


Honor Decisions You Disagree With


People who lead from the middle are sometimes forced to settle for less than the ideal.


In your position, often you'll receive instructions you don't like or decisions you disagree with. In frustrating moments, you may be tempted to badmouth the decision or the organization. In a meeting you may say something like, "I would have done it differently, but . . ." Or during office chit-chat, you may casually question your leader's judgment.


Real leaders make the best of a situation and honor decisions in healthy, unifying ways. If you want to be respected by those around you, speak with integrity and uphold the reputation of others. This builds trust, which gives you more influence when it's time to speak up or offer solutions.


Be Intentional


One challenge for mid-level employees is knowing when or how to speak.


When you are strategic and consistent in sharing, your perspective can make a more significant impact. What is the best way for you to communicate? Consider a short, weekly e-mail update to your boss. Highlight 2-minute success stories in meetings to put a face on your "win." Or use printed presentation notes when sharing needs or asking for additional resources. This demonstrates thoughtful preparation and makes your request more memorable.


Keep the Big Picture in Mind


If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, take a serious interest in the organization as a whole.


Don't just focus on your department. Instead, look for ways to lend a hand to those above, below, and around you. When your supervisor sees that you care about the whole company, you may be surprised how quickly your influence grows.


This may bring friction. Working from the middle gives you a great vantage point to see the big picture, to recognize patterns or uncertainties, and highlight tension within the organization. When you bump into turbulence, remember that trying to please everyone is impossible.


Global Portfolio Management Director Michelle Maloy, says it's easy to doubt yourself when you're always trying to please:


"[This balancing act] requires self-control and clarity. You need to have understanding and empathy for others, but you can't let everybody's 'stuff' allow you to lose focus."


It's All About Perspective


While there are times that leading from the middle is difficult, you are often ideally positioned to collaborate with others to generate new ideas and solve problems.


This allows you to gain experience, be involved in meaningful work, and affect large scale change. It is possible to successfully lead from your position while developing skills that serve you throughout your career.

Monday, August 12, 2019

How Chick-fil-A's Customer Service Continues to Dominate

In 1995, a renegade cow painted three words on a Texas billboard: "EAT MOR CHIKIN."


From that day forward, Chick-fil-A transformed the fast-food landscape. When founder Truett Carlson began in the restaurant industry during the mid-forties, he was inspired by many customers who took chicken and wrapped it in a bun to eat. Today, Chick-Fil-A (and its cows) have reached millions through ads in television, print, and even the occasional water tower.


But Chick-fil-A is about more than great food.


Closed on Sundays so employees can rest and worship, the establishment recognizes the well-being of the people on both sides of the counter.


"We should be about more than just selling chicken," Carlson famously said. "We should be a part of our customers' lives and the communities we serve."


Unfailing Hospitality


As the restaurant seeks to bring value, it has grown in net worth.


In 2018, Chick-fil-A made more per restaurant than McDonald's, Starbucks, and Subway combined. In June 2019, the franchise grabbed the best customer satisfaction score in the fast-food industry, claiming the No. 1 spot on the American Customer Satisfaction Index for the fourth year in a row.


Outranking establishments like Panera and Chipotle, Chick-fil-A's fans rave about its excellent service, polite employees, and consistent cleanliness. Kalinowski Equity Research founder Mark Kalinowki says Chick-fil-A's unfailing hospitality is a huge part of the chain's success:


"Little things like being told 'please' and 'thank you' - it feels like you're appreciated as a customer and a human being at Chick-fil-A," Kalinowski said. "And especially in today's very complex world, it's just very nice to be able to go to a place where you feel appreciated."


Manners Matter


Humans are highly social creatures, and rudeness signals a form of rejection that cuts deep, whether we admit it or not.


Recent polling in France showed that one of the primary causes of stress was the behavior of others. Good manners increase the presence of the neurochemical oxytocin, causing people to demonstrate kindness and generosity while experiencing greater pleasure. This fuels not only connection but greater prosperity.


What might this look like during a typical day at Chick-Fil-A?


  • Often if you say 'thank you' to an employee, they might respond with: 'my pleasure.'

  • Some Chick-Fil-A operators offer expired nuggets to pet owners (while the chicken is still good).

  • Others offer a "Mom's Valet" where young families can order at the drive-through and ask employees to set the table (including the correct number of high chairs and drinks) so when they enter the restaurant, kid chaos is eliminated.

According to Davide Farmer, vice-president of restaurant experience, part of the company's service philosophy is to empower employees:


"There are all kinds of scenarios that pop up that you don't necessarily train for," said Farmer. "We try to teach the principles of what it is to care for somebody so that a team member can kind of act on their own when they see an opportunity."


Danny Cadra experienced this firsthand when he walked into his local Chick-fil-A in Lubbock, Texas. After sitting down, he was surprised when a longtime employee handed him an envelope and said, "Hey, you left your money here a while ago."


In the envelope was three dollars Cadra left at a drive-through almost a month before. The employee tucked away the cash and looked to return it at the first opportunity.


"I was just floored," Cadra said. "I went a whole month not knowing there was a guy at Chick-fil-A who remembered me every day, [who] brought that money every single day until he saw me."


Customer service like that is what we all should aspire to, and we'd love to have a chance to showcase ours to you!

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!

Monday, August 5, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional. 


Looking for a beginner's guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:


Go Big (But Not Too Big)


When you're creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.


The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don't go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.


If you're taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always "scale down" the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.


Avoid Website Images


Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.


Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.


To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.


Zoom in or Adjust Proportions


When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.


To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.


Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image's physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.


Resolve to Finish Well


By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.


Have any questions? Call today; we're always happy to help!

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional. 


Looking for a beginner's guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:


Go Big (But Not Too Big)


When you're creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.


The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don't go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.


If you're taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always "scale down" the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.


Avoid Website Images


Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.


Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.


To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.


Zoom in or Adjust Proportions


When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.


To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.


Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image's physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.


Resolve to Finish Well


By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.


Have any questions? Call today; we're always happy to help!