Customize Printed Mailings to Maximize Your Impact

Coupon ticket card. Element template for design. Vector illustration.

One of the best ways that brands can engage their customers is by making people feel valued and unique.

Brands that are able to provide their customers with this feeling of connection are going to be one step closer to creating true advocates for their brand. Perhaps one of the best ways that modern organizations can offer a customized experience is through meaningful personalization — far beyond the “Dear Friend” found in some mass mailings.

See how businesses are using personalization in their printed materials to create an experience that customers will appreciate and remember.

Tailored Offers Drive Traffic

Grocery stores are able to effectively track a massive number of items and customers, including when and where they purchased specific products.

While your business may not be quite that complex, you can certainly track in a more simplistic way in order to offer timely and meaningful coupons to your customers. For instance, offering a discount card tied to someone’s phone number allows you to discover which days of the week they are coming to see you and how often. Upsell your services by providing discounts on off-days when they may not visit or to shorten the time between services. This strategy works especially well for service-based businesses such as hair and nail salons.

Treating People Like Family

If you are able to capture additional information about your customers such as the age of children, this allows you a greater opportunity to customize your message.

Knowing the general age of your customers or whether they’re empty-nesters, young parents, or an older retired couple provides you with the information that you need to create offers that are more compelling. One example would be a restaurant whose tables are nearly empty on a Wednesday night. Sending information to young families that Kids Eat Free on Wednesdays is likely to bring in a wealth of new business on that evening and keep your tables full.

Move-In Special

There are many businesses that thrive on new families moving into the area — from retail establishments to grocery stores and everything in between.

Consider working with a few complimentary businesses in your region to create a move-in special: a package of offerings that can be mailed to families just as they move into the area. These hot new potential customers have not yet formed an opinion of the area and will need to create new shopping patterns. If your offer comes at the perfect time as they’re moving in and purchasing new products for their home, they are likely to continue visiting your establishment over the years.

There are many different ways that your business can take advantage of a compelling, personalized offer in print.

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3 Keys to Build Better Workplace Morale

Two colleagues giving high five during meeting

 

Did you know October 7 is “Worldwide Smile Day?”

Smile day is celebrated on the first Friday of October, dedicating twenty-four hours to smiling and acts of community kindness. Why? In a “bad news” world, a little dose of joy goes a long way. Gretchen Rubin certainly believes this.

From outside perspectives, Rubin lived a marvelously successful life. She had a good marriage, a thriving writing career (formerly a Yale graduate clerk to Sandra Day O’Connor), a warm relationship with in-laws, and two lovely daughters. But in 2006, Rubin realized something was missing. She had a mild case of “the blues,” a below-the-surface irritableness she couldn’t shake. While she was generally happy, Rubin struggled to enjoy happiness each day.

“Did I have a heart to be contented? No, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please . . . (It was) easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied.”

Driven by curiosity, Rubin threw herself into a soul-searching experiment resulting in the best-seller, “The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.” Rubin chose monthly themes, like “energy,” “love,” “work,” and test-drove happiness theories. In the end, this created an entire cottage industry (blogs, videos, starter kits), driving people to aggressively pursue happiness. Rubin found a commitment to simple daily habits (like making the bed) brought a drastically cheerful increase:

“This is about ordinary happiness,” Rubin said. “I wanted to change my life without making major changes. I wanted to show that you don’t have to do something radical.”

Lighten the Mood, Lighten Their Load

Work is life, and life is work. As hard as you try to separate them, work affects your personal life, and vice-versa.

So, what if you could increase happiness at work? What would increased “ordinary” happiness do for an entire company? Statistics say employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days, and 36% of employees say they would give up $5000 a year to be happier at work. Happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales and “happy companies” outperform the competition by 20%!

The Keys to Building Morale

Your brain works efficiently when you’re in a good mood. Forward-thinking businesses connect these dots, believing a better “company mood” brings a stronger bottom line. Here are three ways to build better workplace morale:

1. Cozier Spaces. The office layout, lighting, and aesthetics are a major part of employee satisfaction. Have discouraging cubicles or ugly paint? Throw a little money at this problem and harvest new energy from your team each day.

2. Parties and Perks. Whether its chair massages, goofy competitions, or summer snowcone festivals, everyone benefits from fun at work. Professional growth opportunities are also significant: in a 2013 poll, 84% of employees claimed the opportunity for advancement was very important. Encourage people to attend conferences, practice peer-to-peer training, or try workshops for growing specific skills.

3. Improved Communication. As you mobilize teams, tap into the foundational reasons people give their best, like self-improvement, societal impact, or ability to reach challenging goals. When Sandra Day O’Connor was asked what she thought made a happy life her response was simple: Work worth doing.

As you lead, give your team regular feedback. Without guidance, people feel deflated or unmotivated. Personal improvement areas should be private and actionable: explain to employees where to improve and give examples of change. Author Scott Halford says positive feedback is vital:

“Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, leaving the recipient open to new direction. Meanwhile, negative feedback indicates that an adjustment needs to be made and the threat response turns on and defensiveness sets in. You don’t need to avoid corrective feedback altogether. Just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or outcome.”

The Enduring Impact of Print

Digital technology is overrated

The 1960s gave us many iconic classic cars, but perhaps none is more legendary than the Aston Martin driven by James Bond (Sean Connery) in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.

A long list of tricks made it one of the most beloved movie cars of all time: machine guns, an ejector seat, smoke screens, and a futuristic onboard navigational system. Bond’s reputation as a suave man of action and a smart connoisseur of fine things rocketed Aston Martin to popularity as one of the most desirable automobile brands in the world. The car was so beloved it was later stolen from a Florida airport hanger and is reportedly worth nearly 10 million today.

Vintage. Classic. Irreplaceable.

Those are some of the words we associate with things that are original, things that set the “status quo,” and that just can’t be shattered or ignored. Today’s generation is manifesting a hunger for the authentic, and a desire for craftsmanship is at the forefront. In an age of identity theft, cheap counterfeits, and digital dominance, Carhartt clothing coined the call for craftsmanship as the “road home from a throwaway world.”

The Original Design Format

Local printers believe in the beauty and craftsmanship of their trade, and in the hard-hitting, precise, flawless quality that hard copy printing can bring. As the original format for marketing impact, we believe print design is as essential as the ABCs – in ways as basic as these:

A = Attracting New Customers

Print is essential for attracting new customers in ways digital advertising never can.

Print products allow you to uniquely target the right customers by placing your work directly in before their eyes and in their hands. While digital ads are quickly forgotten, print offers a sense of credibility and real-time professionalism that engage consumers with an immediate, tangible impact. Printed pieces also have a greater opportunity to arouse passive audiences (like those viewing a banner, poster, or printed advertisement), to keep reader attention longer, to improve reading comprehension, and to improve the top-of-mind awareness your business desires.

B = Building Traffic Online

Online content requires a combination of above- and below-the-line marketing support to drive traffic online and increase profits across the board.

Hard copy print products can increase online engagement through a variety of marketing initiatives. Consider on-page ads with online coupon options. Feature your online calendar or offer VIP discounts for those who refer a friend or add social bookmarks to your business. Use printed inserts or brochures placed at the point of sale for invitations to educational blogs, webinars, or freebie giveaways you feature only online.

As you connect your online and conventional marketing strategies, aggressively seek customer feedback and look to solidify your niche in the collective conversation. Inspire professionalism, reliability, and consistency in everything you publish, both digitally and in print. Better integrated communication will bring more consistent, profitable results!

C = Cementing Brands Offline

Often, we overlook the power of print products to cement our brand in consumers’ minds.

A 2015 neuromarketing study revealed that direct mail simulated a 70% higher brand recall3, a dramatically more persuasive element than digital media.

And don’t underestimate the poignant response physical print brings.

Consider the emotions you experience when you see your favorite coffee logo adorning a steaming mug, or how you feel when a co-worker walks into the room wearing a T-shirt of your favorite podcast or band. Print products bring a palpable, concrete response that digital advertising just can’t match!

Whether it’s yard signs, car window adhesives, banner advertising, or just good old-fashioned swag, claim some real-estate for your image and you’ll find your brand developing staying power with a lasting return. Call us at 410-574-0780.

Plug In to the Power of Personal Reflection

Power of mind concept.

Sometimes life is like a treadmill.

Occasionally you’re on a calm jog and the belt speed never outpaces your strides. Sometimes, you push yourself to the limit but find the challenge ideal. But in certain seasons, the treadmill is moving too fast to handle. You long to step back from the grind, but this seems like an impossible luxury.

It’s ok to press pause. It’s actually GREAT to press pause. Often in our battle for success, we never stop to address broken systems in our home, health, or careers. Simple adjustments might bring substantially better output, but we rarely prioritize personal maintenance. The decision is yours: will you make time to reflect and adjust or continue relentlessly until life dumps you in a heap?

Take Time to Press Pause.

Once you’ve slowed down (yes, really slowed down!) what should you do?

Perhaps you should begin with a simple pleasure (a walk, coffee treat, or nap?) to allow your mind to unwind. Then consider an intentional approach to reflection.

Psychologist Robert Taibbi (author of “Boot Camp Therapy: Action Oriented Brief Approaches to Anxiety, Anger and Depression”) suggests you begin by defining a problem area as concretely as possible. Avoid being vague or grouping several problems under one umbrella (i.e. “this house is a disaster!”). Instead, identify specific areas of struggle (“this coat closet is overcrowded”) and decide on a personal plan of action.

Don’t be overwhelmed by what you CAN’T do, instead focus on manageable steps that will move you forward (“lower coat hooks would be better”). Begin with a positive spirit and an intentional ownership of the solution. Make a plan, ask for help, or take action as soon as possible. As you make even tiny strides, you will be empowered to continue.

Find Tools for Growth.

Sometimes a perspective shift requires greater insight than we have on our own.

Consider some coaching, mentorship, or tools like workbooks or discussion groups. Clinical psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson has been fascinated by the therapeutic effects of writing for decades. Experiments dating back for decades show that writing can reduce depression, increase productivity, and even cut down on doctor visits.

Peterson and his team have recently rolled out several tools for self-reflection, including virtues and faults analysis, past and future writing exercises, or a full “self-authoring” suite that allows people to locate and resolve problem areas so they can better dream and achieve in the future. “The act of writing is more powerful than people think,” Peterson says. The decisive results of Peterson’s research prompted NPR to dub his reflection tool the “writing assignment that changes lives.”

Make a Plan.

They say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

What part of your week do you devote to reflecting on your goals or challenges? Do you take mini-retreats to refocus? What if you set this as a top priority and allowed your reflection time to dictate your schedule priorities in a given week, month, or year?

Look for natural cues in your seasonal schedule (i.e. Daylight Savings changes, pre-scheduled auto maintenance, your half birthday) and seek to align some intentional reflection with these cues. Add smaller goals (like a monthly “plan of action”) to put wheels on your long-term vision. Find a friend or mentor to keep you accountable or schedule regular check-ins (alone or with others) to get yourself back on track after a derailment.

Just as professional performance reviews are a priority, how much more essential is self-review? Make regular deposits into your own well-being and soon your bank account will grow!

How to Mobilize People Through Powerful Writing

Businessman Writing in Planner at Cafe Window

“Darkest Hour,” a 2017 war drama film, devotes its narrative to the early days of British prime minister Winston Churchill, who rallied a nation against the merciless Nazi onslaught of World War II.

The film chronicles Churchill’s authentic, soul-stirring speeches and the Shakespearean gusto with which he delivered words like these: “Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”

Though the world still heralds Churchill’s heroic statements, few people knew that Churchill overcame a lisp in his childhood by practicing his enunciation. Churchill understood the power of words early in life, and historians estimated that he spent one hour working on each individual minute of a speech he gave! Churchill sought to portray England’s struggle in a larger historical context: good outlasting evil, hope to overshadow the impossible, and perseverance overcoming persecution.

The result?

The entire fate of world history shifted through the hearts and hands of the people he inspired. President John F. Kennedy summed up Churchill’s influence like this: “In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone — and most men… despaired of England’s life — he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

Writing: The Building Block of Success

What can we learn from Winston Churchill?

While not all of us have oratory giftings, be encouraged that Churchill was also a student of language, and he overcame his limitations with study, practice, and passion!

Would you like to be more successful in your personal and professional impact?

Writing is the foundation of modern education and fundamental to all business success. Whether you’re penning a quarterly report, crafting an in-house memo, giving a congratulatory speech, or even dashing a quick e-mail, here are some tips for writing in a professional, persuasive manner:

1. Grab them early.
Great writing doesn’t allow readers to look away! Use punchy headlines, riveting stories, or gripping questions to draw them in immediately.

2. Get to the point.
After you use that “luring” intro, don’t let them linger! Get to the point quickly and efficiently, without “burying the lead” too deep in the text. Eliminate unnecessary words and use language that is clear and efficient. An energetic, fast-paced tone will assure them that reading to the end is worth their time.

3. Be convincing but not too clever. Persuade your readers with clarity but also with logic and facts. Providing evidence (or examples) for your premise will build momentum and increase authority. As you write, keep a personal tone that is warm but convincing. Ask yourself, “would this make sense if I was sharing it with a friend over coffee?” Phrases with an awkward, artificial ring should probably get the ax!

4. Keep it moving. As you lead readers toward a closing statement or action step, take a broad glance at the entire piece. Does it flow smoothly with a directional movement that builds toward a thoughtful climax? Does it read well on the page with adequate breaks and subheadings? Consider adding skim layers or reducing the size of a document if you sense people will be bogged down in your thoughts.

5. Add depth and dimension. As you seek to add that extravagant bow to your smartly wrapped package, review your piece and look for ways you can really make it “sing.” Consider colorful vocabulary, punchy alliteration, or rich rhythms as you vary the length of your paragraphs. As French writer Charles Baudelaire once said, “always be a poet, even in prose.”

Pure Happiness: How to Reduce the Impact of Negative People in Your Life

Smiling woman posing in glasses

It is practically impossible to completely cut negative people from your life, but there are some steps that you can take to help mitigate the damage that they can do.

When you’re constantly surrounded by individuals who would rather see a glass half empty, it can begin to take a toll on even the most optimistic of souls. Over time, this wearing down of your positive exterior can grow and spread — until you find that you’re the one who has a negativity problem!

Fortunately, there are ways that you can reduce the impact that gloomy people have over your life and simply choose happiness.

Identifying Negative People

Some negative people exude a black cloud, while others may be a bit more subtle in their darkness.

The first step towards culling negativity from your life is by identifying those individuals who are causing your life to be less-than-happy. Stay on the lookout for people with these traits:

  • Constant worrying and fretting, often for no reason
  • Enjoy secrecy or spreading rumors
  • Always seem to be stuck in neutral — no steps forward, nothing outside their comfort zone
  • Even the most exciting projects receive a “Blah” reaction
  • Every positive statement contains a “but”, turning it right into a negative

Protect Your Time

Have you noticed that some people like to wander from place to place in an office or workplace setting, spreading gloom and doom wherever they go?

They truly seem to enjoy bringing others down to their level of bad attitude. Don’t be afraid to block your calendars for 15 or even 5 minutes to recharge and meditate after an interaction with one of these individuals. It will help you reset your mood from down in the dumps to feeling like there’s a more positive future on the horizon.

Focus on Your Goals

When you have a laser focus on accomplishing your goals, no one can stand in your way!

Isolate yourself from toxic relationships and find a way to work with people who nourish you mentally by challenging your thoughts in a way that helps you take leaps forward in cognition — not those who make you want to hide in a corner and nurse your wounds. Few supervisors will notice that you’re changing the subject if you take them towards a topic that is close to their heart, especially if you choose one that’s going exceptionally well.

Choose to Behave Productively

While you may be stuck in the rut of listening to negativity simply out of a need to be polite, keep in mind that you have a choice.

When someone starts going down that same old road towards negativity, gently let them know that you are focusing on the positive aspects. You appreciate their viewpoint, but you don’t feel it is productive. This can be a bit dicey if the individual sharing the negative elements in their life is your superior, but find a way to wrap the conversation back to a positive — and productive — bent.

Don’t allow these energy vampires to suck the happiness from your life. Combat the negativity by staying relentlessly positive, and always finding a way to compliment others and help them see the brighter side of every situation. When you make these decisions, you are automatically reducing the impact of negativity in your life, and opening up a whole new avenue for happiness.

Magnets Remind Customers You Care

Spring toy car

Keeping your business top of mind for your customers requires creativity and constant reminders that your goods and services are available.

If you’ve exhausted your ideas, why not try something that’s worked great for pizza and fast food restaurants for years? Sheila M., a local car dealership office manager, decided to leverage printed magnets to drive interest in her business.

Focus on Community

Keeping the public’s interest when there are lots of other businesses attempting to gain attention as well is difficult, to say the least.

Local car dealerships are always looking for a tactic that will place them above the competition in the view of the public. When you show that you care about your audience, you will subconsciously encourage people who view your marketing and advertising to think about your brand in a positive light. As part of her job as office manager, Sheila received a lot of questions about car seats and found herself often helping new parents understand the specific requirements in her state.

Sheila’s Light Bulb Moment

When her sales manager asked Sheila for suggestions on what type of promotional product would be good to help promote their business, she immediately thought about the way so many customers asked her about car seat safety.

She would print off the car seat rules from the internet and send them home with families with young children, and she decided this was a great opportunity to expand that relationship into the community. Sheila visited her local print shop and worked with them to design a refrigerator magnet that included quick tips on car seat safety, such as the legal age for moving from rear-facing car seats to forward-facing car seats. Sheila also included the local number for the Sheriff’s department in case parents had any questions. Once she added her car dealership’s branding and contact information, she knew she had a winner!

Immediate Results

Passing out these refrigerator magnets in the community had an immediate impact on sales.

Sheila and her sales manager decided to do a wider mailing within their zip code and a few surrounding areas once they realized that the magnets were incredibly well-received. The dealership received calls thanking them for caring about the community, and several new customers came in the first week mentioning the magnets.

When you are ready to promote your business in a way that will resonate with your key audiences, give us a call! We will work closely with you to define the ideal printed items that will support your business goals.