Archive | September, 2019

4 Ways to Maximize Impact with Pictures

27 Sep

They say a picture paints a thousand words, but pictures go beyond just that. Sometimes they force an emotional response.

Consider the Snake Campaign from Playland, an amusement park in Vancouver.

This print ad features a horrified man on a background split between two scenes: on the left, a jungle landscape, on the right, an outdoor amusement park.

In front of the amusement park scene, the man clutches the handle of his roller coaster safety bar as he seems to be hurtling from a high drop on the ride. In front of the jungle scene, the man’s hand is nearly clutching an enormous snake that has slithered itself over his neck and waist. The snake and safety bar are precisely symmetrical, harnessing the man in for a ride he wishes he hadn’t taken, while playing on people’s nightmarish aversion to snakes.

The message? Playland is a place to scream yourself silly: “Fear Made Fun.”

For the Love of Imagery

People like pictures. A lot.

Why? For one thing, pictures help our brains process and retain information.

According to John Medina, author of Brain Rules, people can often remember more than 2,500 pictures with at least 90 percent accuracy several days after seeing them. When comparing pictures to oral presentations, researchers found that people listening to an oral presentation could only recall around 10 percent of the details. But when an image was added, recall rose to 65 percent!

The brain also processes images faster than any other form of communication. A team of neuroscientists from MIT found that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds. So whether you’re writing a report, brainstorming ads, or creating handouts for a seminar, be sure to prioritize pictures!

Bring Your Content to Life with Pictures

Here are several ways to incorporate images in your next project:

Show, Don’t Tell

Since pictures are so efficient, an image almost always exceeds an explanation.

A diagram of a machine, a blueprint of a building, or a map of your facility will do much better conveying a concept than paragraphs of text.

Overlay Text

An image can be a great way to introduce a chapter or a section of your presentation.

To add clarity, try placing text on top of an image (like a magazine cover, which features a signature photo with overlaid text) to create a nice header. Many online editor tools exist to help you with this, or even basic tutorials from Photoshop.

Color Code

Since colors are a form of imaging, using color coding in brochures, catalogs, or store displays can help viewers make sense of your information.

Color-code sections of a binder with predominantly red images in one section and green in another section to delineate subjects. Color code inventory or training manuals to keep people and products organized, or use colors to organize workflow boards to convey urgent tasks versus those that are on-going.

Turn Bullet Points Into Icons

Looking to spice up a flyer or brochure?

Lots of text is distracting to an audience. Instead, try replacing bullet points with a photo or icon that represents the message you want to share. A yellow triangle with an exclamation point works for highlighting caution areas. A speedometer can be used for acceleration. A bulls-eye can be used for sales targets. Be creative and have fun with icons!

Like any campaign, consistency in tone and photo content will naturally boost the message you bring. Adding thoughtful, seamless photography can help you maximize the impact, clarity, and beauty of each piece you produce.

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Best of Script Fonts: 3 User Tips and 12 Fan Favorites

24 Sep

Fonts are fun, and today many spectacular fonts are just a few clicks away.

But, it can be tricky to use decorative fonts well, especially script (or cursive style lettering) fonts. Script fonts can be challenging to read, size, or space, so frequently designers shy away from using them at all.

Have no fear!

Script fonts are beautiful typefaces that can appear elegant, informal, or even downright playful. These decorative delights can be managed well with three basic tips:

1. Read Between the Lines

When using a script font, pay attention to the design elements between individual characters.

If a script font looks crowded (or too condensed), you can adjust the font kerning. This will give the eye more breathing room by adding spacing between each letter. But if you adjust the tracking, you may disrupt the flow or connection between letters. If you loosen your kerning, be sure to double-check that each letter is still correctly flowing to the next.

2. Be a Minimalist

Many script fonts have exaggerated ascenders or descenders (letters that go above or below the main text line) which may require greater space between lines.

Typically, script fonts are best when used for one line only (like a quote or a tagline). If you do need to create space between lines, adjust the leading of your font to make it more reader-friendly.

Since the priority of your text is readability, script fonts should be used sparingly. They are best used for headers or call-outs, and a good rule of thumb is to use them for script sections that are seven words or less.

3. Be Distinct

The purpose of script fonts is to add a personal, handmade feel to your message.

When you use an overly formal font, it can come across as snobbish or condescending. Instead, go for script fonts with a more personal feel (like your best friend’s handwriting).

While some cursive fonts can be unprofessional, some of the best fonts are those that aren’t too calligraphic or too casual. Look for something right in between that makes your reader feel right at home!

Need some suggestions? Here are 12 fan favorites for fonts, many of which are FREE:

  • Alex Brush
  • Pacifico
  • Great Vibes
  • Lobster
  • Allura
  • Grand Hotel
  • Windsong
  • Black Jack
  • Arizona
  • Euphoria Script
  • Italianno
  • Qwigley

Want to view a few script fonts in action? Here are 35 script fonts on display for your enjoyment!

Looking to bring more warmth or friendliness to your message? Script fonts are a beautiful way to add authenticity and humanity to your visual brand, but they do come with unique design challenges. Keeping these tips in mind will help you use the script and cursive lettering in a way that brings a simple, sophisticated touch.

Transform Customer Complaints into Great Reviews and Referrals

20 Sep

In business, problems always arise.

Things malfunction, customers get frustrated, or miscommunication causes delays. However annoying, big problems are still a gateway for better interaction. Consider this example from Toyota:

The year was 2013, and Webin Manzana noticed the dashboard of his 2008 Camry was melting due to the sweltering weather in the Philippines. Because the warranty on his vehicle had long since lapsed, Toyota Motors Philippines refused to get involved.

Manzana, frustrated with the inherent defect in the dashboard material, decided to fax a letter directly to the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. To his shock and delight, the next day he received a call from Toyota Motors Philippines, arranging to pick up the Camry and replace the dashboard immediately.

3 Ways to Resolve Sticky Situations

When handled poorly, customer complaints can deal a heavy blow to your business.

Here are three ways to resolve sticky situations while improving relationships with your clients.

1. Respond Quickly and Calmly

Whether you respond through e-mail or in a more personal way, time is essential in handling complaints.

Even if you can’t immediately fix a problem, remember that the thing your customer wants most is an acknowledgment of the issue and an affirmation of the frustration they feel. Listening patiently can diffuse many situations, especially if you actively sympathize and ask clarifying questions.

Put out fires quickly, and remain calm by reminding yourself the customer is not necessarily upset with you, but with the situation.

2. Tell the Customer How You Plan to Address the Problem (in detail with a specific time frame)

Once you understand why the customer is upset, you can begin to work on solutions.

If customer oversight was the only issue, a specific reparation (like partial refunds, replacements, or credits on future orders) might quickly mend the hard feelings. If you want to go a step farther, consider offering the customer not only a full refund or replacement but also a bonus item. If you are replacing a T-shirt, could you send them a second T-shirt to give away to a friend?

Every day, brand trust diminishes because of negative customer service experiences. Therefore, the psychology of offering a resolution cannot be understated.

In some situations, it may be best to ask the customer what he feels should be done to best resolve the issue. This allows a person to feel they have won (or that they were correct), and that your organization is willing to go the extra mile to make things right.

3. Keep Working to Ensure the Customer is Satisfied

After a problem is resolved, what steps will you take to follow up on your client again?

Can you call a week later, or send a follow-up e-mail after three days? Circling back gives you the chance to find out if you handled the issue thoroughly, whether a solution was effective, or if the customer had other questions.

Most people will be impressed that you take this extra step to solicit their opinion or ensure their satisfaction.

A Silver Lining

Though handling complaints can be tough, over time, it gives you greater insight into your products, your services, or into the minds of your clients.

Effective complaint management not only resolves problems, but it can transform people into advocates for your brand and sources for future referrals.

Optimize Data to Make Better Decisions

17 Sep

In 2015, data and analytics guru Bernard Marr said, “I firmly believe that big data and its implications will affect every single business—from Fortune 500 enterprises to mom and pop companies—and change how we do business, inside and out.”

That was four years ago, and today Marr’s statement could not be more true.

Solve Problems with Data

Likes, clicks, counts, views . . . you dream it, and the technology can track it.

In a world of limitless measurement, data is helping companies solve problems, see performance, and scrutinize the market. And while it’s easier than ever to collect stats, knowing how to use this data can be a challenge.

Here are several markers to help you distinguish the forest from the trees.

Clearly Identify the Objective

Data seeks to support your business goals, so the best way to use data is to be precise in these objectives. For example:

  • A retail business seeking to grow revenue will measure which products are selling most quickly and if they are understocked in this area.
  • A sports team seeking to win more will use stats from individual players to analyze weaknesses.
  • A marketing executive seeking to generate greater return will analyze conversions to find which ad placements are generating the best response.

To set clear, data-driven goals, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to accomplish this quarter?
  • What are the weak areas the business needs to address?
  • What do I hope to achieve by gathering this data?

Outsource the Analytics

For many people, data shortage isn’t the problem. It’s time and expertise that are lacking.

Because it can be challenging to make sense of the data you’ve captured, sometimes the best option is to outsource. Perhaps there is someone on your team who can read, analyze, or interpret data for you. Maybe a team manager or an account representative could take ownership over their areas of expertise, and present information to your leadership in a simple, understandable way.

Your company may also benefit from third-party data providers like SAS, ClearStory Data, or Kissmetrics. Companies like these can work to combine your business’s internal data with publicly available information to help you make better business decisions.

Optimize Value

After assessing your data, you’ll want to identify the information that will increase value in your day-to-day operations. Areas to consider include:

1. Sales Patterns or Emerging Trends

What is selling the best? What is selling the worst? What product categories are growing fastest?

2. Internal Procedures

How long does each task take, and how can it be done better? Who is driving output? Can we trust high performers with more responsibility?

3. Project Management

Are we on time? Which projects or areas should we prioritize?

4. Benchmarking Competition

What is my competitor’s pricing? How do they market? Where do we fall short?

Save Time, Save Money

The market research firm IDC found that inefficiencies cost companies anywhere from 20-30% of their revenue each year.

Would you like 20% more money to use toward your business goals?

Armed with clear objectives and actionable data, your business can more efficiently market to customers, improve pain points, or streamline operations. The collection of actionable information is certainly worth your investment.

As they say, it’s never a waste of time to stop and sharpen the ax.

From Ideas to Reality: The Basics of 3D Printing

13 Sep

3D print capabilities are growing substantially, and soon, they will be a regular part of our ever-changing industry.

While relatively new to the market, 3D printing is here to stay. In 1984, Charles Hull developed the technology for printing physical 3D objects from digital data. As the industry advanced, so did the popularity and affordability of this technology. Today, 3D printing is taking business by storm: growth in this field is expected to expand by 31% each year (to a projected $21 billion market in 2020!).

Create What You Imagine

What is 3D printing?

A 3D printer is a manufacturing tool used to create three-dimensional objects that have been designed on a computer. Once an object is designed, it can be imported into software specific to the printer in use, which will slice the parts and send the printer a list of paths and directions to create the item. 3D printers have a wide range of shapes, sizes, and types, but all of them lay down (or “cure”) materials layer by layer, fusing them to create a three-dimensional object.

In today’s competitive business environment, marketing that brings individuality can certainly hit home. 3D print marketing campaigns are distinct, original, and a whole lot of fun. Here are three examples of companies that have gone the extra mile with 3D print:

  • Coca-Cola invited consumers to create mini versions of themselves in a gamified mobile app to promote its mini coke bottles. Photographs of users were transformed into images for a 3D model and sculpted into tiny statue keepsakes made of colored sandstone.
  • Nokia made a 3D printing kit available for its customers, enabling them to print customized covers for its Lumia 820 (later surprising several bloggers during the Mobile World Congress with a 3D-printed case showing their blog’s Twitter avatars).
  • In 2014, BelVita breakfast biscuits decided to turn tweets into action with its #MorningWin campaign. Fans who tweeted their morning success stories were eligible to win a 3D-printed trophy depicting their tweet in action. BelVita also turned submissions into a series of funny videos. Overall, #MorningWin generated 80 million social media impressions and over 11,000 new Twitter followers. Sales increased by 104% in one year!

A Hands OFF Process

3D printing allows designers to go straight from concepts to physical models while bringing ideas to life in a very short time.

3D printers employ a variety of materials, including plastics, polymers, steel, titanium, gold, and ceramic. This versatility means 3D printed models can be used for everything from artistic sculptures to personalized jewelry or even custom prosthetics and airplane components. Even 3D scans of individual people can be printed and modified to suit the end recipient.

As this technology progresses, entrepreneurs will find that their products may be as distinct as each client, and as wild as their ability to imagine. With 3D print, almost anything will be possible to dream, to draft, and to do!

3 Common Management Traps (and How to Counteract Them)

10 Sep

Are you looking to be more proactive in your influence?

Here are three common management traps, with practical keys for addressing them.

3 Common Management Traps

1. Avoiding a Problem or Tense Relationship

(Instead: Nip things in the bud)

Work environments and team morale can dramatically improve when managers deal with difficult relationships.

While most people avoid confrontation like the plague, effective managers deal with negative attitudes or relationships as soon as they appear. While it’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt, issues rarely resolve themselves. The longer you delay correction, the more difficult it becomes.

Stuck on where to start?

When offering correction, be specific. Say something like, “the report you submitted was vague, lacking financial data, and contained several errors. Please give it another pass and plan to give more attention to your first drafts in the future.”

When confronting team members, focus on a specific behavior, rather than the person or their intentions. For example, “your jokes were distracting and disrespectful to the person presenting the report."

Before speaking, check your motives. Do you honestly want to help people improve? If so, describe actions or behavior the individual can do something about, and offer tools or training to support them.

2. Delaying Decisions

(Instead: Use decision-making timelines)

Many times, people postpone decisions for fear of failing or making a poor choice.

But most failure stems from inaction, not from mistakes made in the process. And the decision not to act is often the most costly choice of all.

When you struggle with passivity, don’t keep kicking a pain point down the road. Instead, give yourself a time frame to research options and set a deadline for making a choice. Putting “deliberation dates” on the calendar transforms possibilities into reality.

3. Refusing to Delegate

(Instead: Start small and consider a mindset change)

The biggest problem most leaders face is the inability to let go of their work.

Are you micromanaging or failing to release projects someone else could handle? If so, you may be the ceiling that prevents your organization from growth.

How can you start delegating when it is painful to do so? Experts suggest starting small (with basic tasks) and gradually working your way up. Improve trust by partnering with someone to do a task together the first time. Or schedule checkpoints to review work done by your team.

Delegation can also begin with a mindset change, illustrated in this example:

When Anika realized she had become a bottleneck for her organization, she had to redefine her core responsibilities. Previously, her mandate looked like this: “I’m the one in charge of getting the job done.” This “doer” mindset consumed her time and lowered her leadership ceiling.

As Anika considered her obligation to delegate, she redefined her leadership mandate to being “involved but not essential.” The result looked like this: “I lead people, priorities, and projects – in that order – and the work gets done because the right people are focused on the right tasks.”

With a refreshed vision, Anika could review her calendar, count the hours she devoted to “doing” versus leading or empowering, and identify mismatches where she was spending too much time on low-grade priorities. Within months, Anika streamlined work, expanded her influence, and multiplied her leadership.

Simple Course Corrections

While individual management mistakes are not catastrophic, over time, they can have a crippling effect.

Be intentional about addressing these areas, and you can improve team productivity, morale, and competitiveness in your field.

Use Themed Calendars as a Strategic Marketing Asset

6 Sep

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!