Friday, March 27, 2020

Why Custom Notepads are a Perfect Promotional Tool

Want to give your business a gift that keeps giving?


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


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


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


Making the Most of Your Custom Notepads


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


Define Your Key Concept


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


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


Strive for Consistent Branding


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


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


Put Them to Work Yourself


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


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


Consider Custom Photo Options


What is more memorable than a photo?


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


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


Keep Your Name at Their Fingertips


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


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

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

How to Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Care

Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes admitting them.


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


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


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


Overcoming “Survival Mode” Mentality


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


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


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


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


1. Inform Customers About Your Mistakes Immediately


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


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


2. Offer Self-Help Customer Service Channels


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


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


3. Build 5-Star Service into Your Company Culture


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


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


Build Your Brand by Fortifying Customer Confidence


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


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

Friday, March 20, 2020

How to Build Trust and Unity Through a Strong Company Culture

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


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


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


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


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


Company Culture is Beyond “Perks”


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


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


5 Keys to An Enhanced Company Culture


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


1. Build From the Bottom


Start by defining your mission, vision, and values.


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


2. Identify Cultural Ambassadors


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


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


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


3. “Mandate” Fun


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


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


4. Assign Culture Captains


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


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


5. Encourage Anonymous Feedback


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


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


Your Greatest Asset


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


 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Spark Creative Solutions with Four Ideation Strategies

Creativity.


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


The good news?


It doesn’t have to be that way.


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


4 Ideation Strategies to Spark Creativity


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


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


1. Green Lighting


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


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


2. Mind Mapping


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


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


3. The “Anti-Problem” Exercise


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


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


4. Mindset Spacing


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


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


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


Collectively We are Genius


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


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

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Find More Enjoyment in Life Through Strategic Energy Management

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


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


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


A Better Way


Proponents of energy management say there is a better way.


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


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


How to Conduct an “Energy Audit”


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



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

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


With this perspective, evaluate your schedule in three ways:


1. Rate your daily tasks


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


2. Delegate, automate, and designate


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


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


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


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


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


  • Sitting down to eat breakfast

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

  • Checking e-mail only twice a day

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

  • Taking deep abdominal breaths in stressful moments

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

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

  • Writing gratitude notes to others once a week

  • Disconnecting from work calls 15 minutes before reaching your driveway

  • Putting a hobby that you love on your calendar

Unlock Potential and Create Lasting Change


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


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

Friday, February 28, 2020

Demystifying the Paper Selection Process

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


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


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


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Paper


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


2. Why does the paper “weight” matter?


The higher the weight, the heavier the paper.


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


3. When is lighter weight helpful?


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


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


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


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


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


5. What finishing options are available for my project?


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


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


How to Choose the Right Paper for Your Next Printing


Print is beautiful, tactile, and memorable.


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


Want to chat more? Give us a call to see some paper examples or discuss your options today!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Attract Clients You Love with Consistent, Stylish Marketing

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


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


What does that look like in real life?


3 Examples of Brand-Building Marketing


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


1. Charity: Water


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


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


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


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


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


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


2. FedEx


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


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


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


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


3. Target


Do people see Target as a discount store?


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


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


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


An Artful Tapestry


The heart of consistent marketing is your brand message.


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