Archive | July, 2018

Getting Creative at Work May Be the Best Use of Your Time Today

31 Jul

Better. Faster. Cheaper.

Those are the siren calls of managers today — always on the lookout for ways to make their workers more productive.

What if you discovered that your teams would actually gain productivity by taking the time out of their day to be creative? While carving out time for creativity may feel like a waste of time upfront, you may be surprised to find that the results of making this space will be far-reaching. The daily grind and immediate needs of others don’t leave a lot of time for thinking outside the box, but you’ll see that scheduling time for creativity is a critical ingredient for high-performing individuals and teams.

Small Investment, Big Rewards

Getting creative doesn’t mean you need to pull out the fingerpaints and scissors in your common room.

It just means that you should offer your team members a variety of ways to choose their own path when it comes to specific tasks, brainstorm new ideas (and implement them!) or look for ways to help others. Taking as little as 90 minutes every week two weeks gives people the time and space to unleash their great ideas and helps them work smarter — not harder. This small investment can pay off with big rewards. Even if you don’t implement every idea, your team will be excited to get together and share their thoughts and suggestions and know that they’re being actively listened to.

Creativity Takes Many Forms

Brainstorming is an easy way to build camaraderie within a team and also generate some amazing ideas, but what are some other ways to bring creativity into the workplace?

These tips can help you get started on a productive time together.

  • Create effective work groups. It’s important to ensure that your teams are well-balanced when creativity is your goal. If you have one individual who tends to overpower the conversation, it can be tough for others to join in on the fun.
  • Make it challenging. Consider asking your teams to solve a unique challenge — maybe one that’s not even related to your current situation, but designed to help people come together around a common goal.
  • Give them space. Not physical space, mental space! If individuals are so concerned about daily tasks that they’re unable to devote the mental capacity to the project, you’re not going to reap the benefit you might expect.
  • Allow freedom to choose. If you’re offering a specific work opportunity that needs to be overcome, don’t get too tied down in the details of how it needs to happen. Ask that teams consider the "Blue Sky" approach, where there are no boundaries, no limitations (systems or individuals) and just go for it. The sky’s the limit!

Perhaps the most important thing to remind your teams going into a creative space is that all judgment should be suspended.

There are no bad ideas. Every individual deserves to have their idea or direction fully listened to. Don’t evaluate ideas before their time or you will interrupt the flow of information that is what brings true creativity to light. After a few sessions, you may be surprised to find that your teams are excited — and not reluctant — to join in on the fun.

With luck, this openness, creativity, and conversation will begin to flow throughout your teams on a more regular basis. As people come to realize that others will listen, they are more likely to share without fear. Let your creativity free and reap the rewards!

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Labels Are a Promotion that “Sticks” With Your Customers

30 Jul

Customers can be a difficult and fickle lot.

They’re always shopping around for the "Next Big Thing," surfing your competitor’s websites, and price-checking on their phones. With all the different business options available today, it can be tough to keep your business in their mind without spending thousands of dollars on local and digital advertising.

There’s a smarter way to keep your customers engaged with your brand’s identity without breaking the bank — labels!

Labels are the ideal way to turn a basic and ho-hum bag or box into a full-color masterpiece that is interesting and fun. See how you can leverage labels to create a promotion that truly sticks with your customers.

Adding Excitement to Your Packaging

Basic white or kraft boxes and bags are simple, inexpensive packaging for your products, but they don’t do anything for your brand identity.

When Maggie, a bakery owner, recently visited her local print shop, she was looking for a logo that could be printed on her various sizes of packaging. What she learned was that each size of packaging would require different setups to print the logo, and full-color printing on non-standard size items could get add up. After speaking with the sales team at the print shop, Maggie realized that there was a better option that would reduce the overall costs of using different packaging for her products.

Full-Color Labels in Any Size or Shape

Part of the challenge of running a bakery is that you’re selling all different sizes and shapes of goods.

You may need a small bag for a donut or bagel, a nearly-square box for layer cakes, and a large rectangle for sheet cakes or a dozen baked goods. Creating a single logo for packaging that would look good on all of these sizes and shapes would be difficult. However, labels are so easy to create that you can utilize a variety of labels to make a custom-printed look that features a stunning full-color image.

Add Promotions When You Need Them

Labels are an incredibly versatile promotional tool.

You can add them to a package or leave them off to create a different mood or message for your customers. If you’d like to offer a coupon on a particular type of order — for instance, a dozen donuts — then you can utilize a label to attach a printed coupon to draw added attention to the offer. The label itself could become the offer, too. You could have a batch of labels printed offering "10% Off, Tomorrow Only" and then be able to pull out this promotion anytime sales are experiencing a bit of a slump.

Operational Labels

You can also use labels within your business to classify items at a glance.

For instance, a tiny sticker that denotes which day of the week a particular item was baked, or showing a ‘Sell by’ date. Write-on labels and waterproof labels are available based on your particular needs and are a great way to keep your business organized and running smoothly.

In this particular instance, Maggie was inspired to create a series of labels for each day of the week to indicate freshness to her customers. She also worked with a designer to envision a new look for her packaging that included a single-color package and full-color labels that added a pop of color and plenty of personality to her baked goods. Since people "eat with their eyes" it made good business sense for the packaging to be as appealing as possible!

Ready to revamp the look of your products or rev up your organizational skills?

Print is Alive and Well

24 Jul

Is Your Phone a Part of Your Body?

This may not be far from the truth! Recent research found that the average person reaches for their smartphone 150 times a day, including e-mails, calls, photos, messaging, or checking the time.

This begs a crucial question. In terms of modern day marketing, does this rise in digital dominance erase the power of print? Not a chance!

Hard Copy Rules

Naomi Baron, author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, surveyed university students worldwide and came to a profound conclusion: young people have a near-universal preference for print.

When given a choice of various media – including hard copy, phones, tablets, or laptops – 92 percent said they could concentrate best on hard copy.

Respondents said drawbacks of digital media included distraction, eye strain, physical discomfort, while hard copy benefits included stronger visual memory, an increased desire to “re-read,” and sensory connection enabling one to touch, experience, and “keep” printed materials. Baron said that in the Slovakian respondent data, one out of TEN mentioned smell. “There really is a physical, tactile, kinesthetic component to reading.”

Don’t Forget the Fun

Looking to draw attention back to print marketing but need some inspiration to get you started?

Print comes alive through color and texture, but also through humor. Here are a few spunky print ads that helped restore our faith in the creativity of the medium in 2017:

Snowbird Ski Resorts.

Snowbird was looking to overcome its ho-hum ski magazine campaign with something different. Cloaking its sales pitch in sarcasm, Snowbird featured one-star reviews from complaining customers.

“Too advanced,” read one review. “I’d heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!”

Snowbird’s agency hand-picked reviews that would tantalize hardcore athletes to give the resort a try. “We’re known for our steep terrain, long runs, and deep snow,” said Snowbird marketing director David Amirault. “Beginner skiers and snowboarders . . . often find this a challenge. However, for our core guest, it’s what makes them come back year after year.”

Creative campaigns like this will definitely keep print marketing fans coming back as well!

Burger King.

One audacious print campaign was Burger King’s “Burning Stores,” which showed actual BK restaurants on fire with the headline “Flame grilled since 1954.”

Showcasing one of its worst moments was ridiculously brave, tying BK’s “flame-grilling” service near a flame-grilled franchise in a shocking, hilarious graphic. “Burning Stores” reminded us that engaging modern audiences includes a willingness to be vulnerable. Grey Africa’s Fran Luckin, chair of the Print & Publishing jury at Cannes, called “Burning Stores” the ideal print ads for a social media age:

“We’ve got a brand being brave enough to be authentic,” she said. “It’s a move away from having every single piece of print communication be so carefully crafted and put out there as an official announcement. There’s a sense here of being more playful, more authentic, a sense that you can be a little bit more edgy in your communication.”

Luckin reminded content producers that it’s ok for companies to laugh:

“I once heard a Coca-Cola executive use the work ‘flawsome,’ which I loved. In the social media age, where people can find out information about your brand quite easily, you have to be a little bit more real. You embrace your imperfections. You have more of a sense of humor about your corporate image. [Burger King] is a brand that’s brave enough to stick its tongue in its cheek and be a little bit young again.”

Printed Banners Work Wonders for Upcoming Events

20 Jul

Promoting your event in your community without a large budget can feel like an overwhelming task.

While there are plenty of things that you can do with unlimited budgets such as billboards, printed mailings or even postcards, the larger items can be costly and mailings take a bit longer than you may have to publicize your upcoming event.

As a community events coordinator for the local YMCA, Danny L. knew that he needed suggestions for his frequent activities that would bring in additional funds for local groups without breaking the bank.

Raising Awareness (and Dollars!)

From fundraisers for local families experiencing medical challenges to Daddy/Daughter dances at the "Y", there is no end to the number of events in the community on a monthly basis.

The YMCA has a long history of supporting the community by offering reduced-cost monthly fees and other support mechanisms. However, they are not able to financially support the needs of these worthy groups for promotion in any meaningful way. Instead, any promotional dollars would need to come from the group — and they are generally running on an incredibly tight budget that makes advertising difficult. The tremendous good that is done on a daily and weekly basis through community walks or 5k runs, pancake breakfasts and other fundraisers is significant, but without publicity, the scope of these events is very limited.

Go Where the People Are

Danny realized while looking at a yard sale sign on a busy corner one day that there was a better way to get out the word on upcoming events — banners!

He tested his theory and had an inexpensive banner printed for an upcoming event. He then asked people who attended the event how they learned about it. Surprisingly, quite a few mentioned that the banner prompted them to drop in for a few moments and make a donation! Ever since that time, Danny has been using large printed banners placed in strategic locations throughout the city to drive traffic and interest in upcoming events. He found that placing them approximately two weeks before the event worked best, as people were able to plan ahead to visit, and then also were reminded to come closer to the event.

Creating the banner was very straightforward, and involved Danny sketching out the times and dates as well as a quick call to action that described the event. He found that there was only a little information that could be placed on the banner without it becoming overwhelming for people to read. Let us help you create a banner for your upcoming event today!

The Communication of Change

17 Jul

Keys to Meaningful Change

The oil crises of the 1970s rocked many industry giants, including the transportation industry.

In 1981, British Airways was reeling from massive financial losses and a reputation for terrible service. Nearing meltdown, the airline brought on a new chairperson, Lord King, who quickly spotlighted three areas where the company was operating inefficiently: careless spending, disorganized staffing, and inadequate communication. King’s leadership quickly produced results. After only ten years, the company became the largest airline in the UK, reporting the highest profits in its industry ($284 million, to be exact!).

What was the key to this turnaround?

Large-scale organizational change. King made major structure changes, including a reduced workforce (from 59,000 to 39,000), elimination of unprofitable routes, modernization of the existing fleet, and marketing upgrades to revamp the airline’s image.

Did King make these massive changes by crossing his fingers and wishing for the best? Hardly. British Airlines combined accurate research with a clear strategy that informed their decisions and overcame resistance.

Discontentment: The Shadow Side of Success

One thing King had in his favor was discontentment, which was at an all-time high.

While many of us believe contentment is key to a happy life, sometimes pain (including frustration with “business as usual”), is a gateway to greater fulfillment. Experts find that a shadow side of successful people is this common personality trait: they struggle with perpetual discontentment. Forbes columnist Brianna Weist says this:

“There is a difference between people who are content and people who are successful, and it is because the latter push themselves whereas the former tries to sustain the status quo. Without a certain measure of growth or expansion, the human mind gets bored, or tired. This will, eventually, lead to a tipping point at which the content person becomes discontent… and then change is made.”

Change as a Formula

Pain moves us: to make radical shifts, to take risks we wouldn’t otherwise consider, and to get the full potential out of life.

Dissatisfaction, combined with a skill set and action plan, can be the most essential agent for change. But far-reaching change can be tricky to maneuver, requiring precise timing and a thoughtful strategy.

Organizational change experts David Gleicher and Kathie Dannemiller coached change strategists with a model that looks something like this:

  • If change were a formula, it is this: "D * V * PF > R" (Dissatisfaction * Vision * Preferred Future > Resistance)
  • Dissatisfaction paired with a vision for a preferred future motivates people to overcome resistance to change.
  • To catalyze change, an idea or product must possess a clear path for a breakthrough while fanning the flame of frustration with the current state of being. If the product of those three factors is greater than the existing resistance, change will occur.

What This Means For Your Business

It means you can relax, even when people are unhappy!

Intentionally listen to your employees and customers and consider rising frustration as the first step to positive change. Use the change model to evaluate whether the time is right to communicate early steps towards meaningful shifts. Find healthy networks or professional development opportunities where you can reflect on industry trends, process leadership ideas, and analyze competitors to identify areas of opportunity.

Finally, cut yourself some slack if you feel irritated with your own areas of personal frustration. Great futures can come from great pain, so allow your dissatisfaction to chart a course toward exciting new destinations. You’ve got this!

Takeout Menus: Functional and Promotional

13 Jul

Most restaurant owners know that their menu is one of their top selling tools.

While this may surprise the average consumer, restaurant managers often use their menu to upsell pricey items such as appetizers, drinks, and side items. The placement of each item within the menu is of the utmost importance, and even small changes can cause a jump in sales of ten percent or greater — or a similar-sized drop in sales if item placement doesn’t work for buyers!

Printed takeout menus are still one of the best printed promotional tools that restaurants can use. Consumers are more interested in ordering food ahead of time for takeout, and having a menu visible when hunger hits really boosts your brand to the top of your consumer’s mind. See how takeout menus are one of the most functional and valuable tools for your restaurant business.

Strategically Situated Items

Restaurant menus are highly tailored, and often tweaked multiple times a year by consultants or managers to ensure that consumers are selecting items that are the most profitable and pleasing to their tastes.

If a menu isn’t easy to read, consumers can become confused and take additional time before placing their order, which may lead them to look elsewhere. Guests are easily confused and overwhelmed when there are too many choices presented. Restaurants often try to limit their choices to a maximum of seven options per food segment to reduce the chance that people will default to a known option that may be less expensive.

Shifting Consumer Habits

Rachel V. noticed that her restaurant was gaining significantly higher dollars from takeout orders than at any time in the past.

In order to capitalize on this trend, Rachel decided to work with her local print shop to create a friendly takeout menu that highlighted a variety of their in-house favorites that were less likely to lose quality if they were boxed and transported elsewhere.

While customers were welcome to order anything on the main restaurant’s menu for takeout, the items the team added to the takeout menu were the "recommended" options. Rachel decided that not only could she use the menu as a functional piece that listed their phone number to call ahead for orders and the appetizers and entrees that they offered, but also as a promotional vehicle to offer seasonal discounts and special deals.

Smart Menu Design

Rachel knew that creating a takeout menu with enough food variety to interest her clientele was important.

With the limited amount of space available on the printed takeout menu, Rachel decided to leverage the space by putting visual cues around the most expensive items. This served to set these foods apart and draw the eye with small pockets of negative space.

She also decided to get a little creative with the descriptions of the food that she added to the menu. Oddly enough, she soon noticed that these menus were drawing in new customers — customers who were purchasing some of the higher-priced options that her traditional visitors were not necessarily drawn to.

As time went on, Rachel continued playing with the options that were on her restaurant’s takeout menu. Seasonal favorites were added, coupons made an appearance, and special items were a high point for returning customers who valued the convenience of being able to order their food ahead of time. The small print runs offered by her local print shop allowed her the flexibility that she needed to test, adjust and test again!

Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 2)

6 Jul

Have you hit a slow spot in your print or online marketing? Need a boost to garner fresh vision? In this three-part series, we’ll examine hands-on tools to enliven imagination. Today, we’ll focus on part two of this question: How do you write content that commands attention or sticks with people for months to come? Last week, we discussed “matching the media and the message.” Today we’ll consider two more simple strategies.

2. Saturate the Senses

One way to arouse interest is appealing to the senses. Strive to write content that paints a strong scene in your reader’s mind. Make your message easy to pull from memory by tying it to a taste, sight, smell, sound, story, or a triggering word association.

KIT KAT chocolate bars nailed this in 2007, celebrating the simple delights of candy and coffee. Known for its “break me off a piece of the KIT KAT bar” slogan, the company paired an image of coffee, a KIT KAT, and these words: “A break’s best friend.” Ad copy extolled the joy of life’s small rewards, so blending coffee and KIT KATs was like “getting two breaks in one.”

KIT KAT radio ads were perfectly timed during the listener’s morning commute or lunch breaks, and the word association of coffee breaks and chocolate made mouths water. After twelve months, KIT KAT experienced a double-digit sales growth and received national recognition for years to come.

McDonald’s awakened appetites through a short message paired with romantic, artful visuals. During summer months when nightlife blossoms, the company wanted to remind customers that late night is a great time for a snack, and McDonald’s was now open past midnight. Ads featured blurred, out-of-focus points of light, glowing together to depict a Big Mac, sundae, and crispy fries. Like a dreamy Eiffel Tower scene, the images reinforced two simple words: “Open Late.”

As you look to saturate their senses with your own hard-hitting content, here are some tips to consider:

  • Use words that show, don’t tell. Be as vivid and descriptive as possible, allowing them to vicariously experience your product or its benefits, rather than just “hearing” about these advantages.
  • Paint a picture. Use adjectives that include savory details of sights, smells, and sounds to draw them in.
  • Give specific, concrete advice. Move from vague concepts to helpful takeaways.
  • Wrap any message you can in an upbeat, moving, or suspenseful story.

3. Coin a Contagious Catchphrase

“Just do it.”

“Breakfast of champions.”

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

“Finger-lickin’ good.”

Like that jingle that rattles around your brain for months, a sticky slogan is a powerful way to influence customers. Why do great slogans matter? Because taglines are memorable, they differentiate the brand, and they stay relevant over a long period of time. Slogans offer a concise phrase or idea people will immediately associate with your product.

As you shape your own contagious catchphrase, consider questions like this:

  • What is your product about?
  • Can you encapsulate your message into a memorable phrase or title?
  • What unique perspective or technique does your brand offer?
  • What need or concern can you address? What real-life problem can your product solve?
  • Is there a “Eureka” factor you can highlight? What hard-hitting verbs, colorful adjectives, or real-life situations best capture these “Aha!” insights?

Once you’ve settled on a memorable phrase, feature it prominently, consistently, and with fantastic visuals to bring it to life!

Looking for more motivation to keep your copy fresh? Join us again soon as we discuss tips and tricks for producing content that counts.