Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Finish in Fine Form with Beautiful Varnish Coatings

Have you ever judged a book by its cover?


You’re not alone! First impressions are essential to how people judge a person, a product, or a business. And when you’re going for visual impact, research suggests visitors will form an impression in as little as 50 milliseconds!


Once you’ve invested all the hard work and planning into your print marketing materials, it is important to go the extra mile on quality.


Want a simple technique that beautifully enhances your impact and appeal? For a budget-friendly bonus, try adding a varnish!


Know Your Options


Just as varnish on a dresser or table protects the wood and gives it a nice finished look, the varnish used on printed pieces enhances their look and durability.


Adding a print varnish brings a transparent coating to your printed page. Varnish can add a unique, creative element to get that five-star appearance, so make sure you choose the one that best fits with the look and tone you’re trying to communicate.


Here are a few options to consider:


Dull


Also known as matte, this is very different from a varnish-like gloss.


A matte finish is best suited if your design contains a lot of text, as it will deflect light and glare. Using a dull varnish can be an excellent tool for improving readability on pages containing text. Although called dull, matte finishes scream sophistication. These varnish coatings are never overdone but carry a simple and stylish vibe.


Gloss


As its name indicates, this varnish is the diva of the bunch and gives a glossy type of appearance.


Gloss varnish makes colors look more saturated, and your design elements look crisper and sharper. It is perfect for printed pages containing items like photographs and graphics, adding a glare or shine to bring extra attention to the areas where it is applied. An overall gloss varnish will protect areas with heavy coverage from rubbing off and will keep your piece from scuffing.


Satin


Looking to strike a compromise?


Satin varnish is created by mixing gloss and matte varnishes and offers a moderate amount of shine. This option is ideal if you have a lot of photo and text combination pieces.


Spot Varnish


Want to highlight a certain section of your piece, so it leaps off the page?


Spot varnishes are a great way to maximize the contrast between matte and gloss surfaces. This technique allows you to apply varnish to an individual image or graphic on your printed piece (such as a logo or photo) while leaving the rest of the piece unvarnished.


Aqueous Coating


The most popular coating for printed material is aqueous coating.


Aqueous is a clear, water-based coating that is environmentally friendly. Since it is water-based, it is best used on papers with a text weight of 80# or heavier, so you do not end up with curling or wrinkles. Aqueous coating dries quicker than varnishes and makes it ideal for running inline on the press.


UV Varnish


A UV varnish is applied off-line and is cured with ultraviolet light.


This process gives the surface an exceptional gloss and rub resistance. A great example of the glossiness of UV Coating is sports trading cards. These have a UV coating on the photo side but no coating on the stat side. This coating is cured by passing under an ultraviolet light that quickly dries and hardens the coating, creating a high-level sheen but the greatest possible protection. UV coated elements in your piece will take center stage.


Want to add excitement and durability to your next print product? Give us a call to talk about varnish options today!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Add Spice to Your Print Ads with Distinct, Arresting Images

In a world where digital advertising screams for attention, print ads need a little extra spice to compete.


Ads that evoke emotion, add humor, or spark curiosity have extra impact. Need inspiration? Here are three imaginative print campaigns to consider.


Opel: A Road Safety Campaign


Opel, a German automobile manufacturer, wanted to draw attention to the danger of texting while driving.  


Opel’s message is distinct because it uses nothing more than the black background and a short line of text that packs a big punch:


“Your typjng whille you drive is asbad as your drivinh whilr yoou typr.”


Sharp, memorable, and humorous, this ad immediately shows why texting driving is a bad idea. Opel paired this with gigantic black and white sidewalk banners of a person pushing a 7-meter-long baby stroller. The banners included this caption, highlighted in yellow:


“1 second on your phone are 7 meters on the street. Don’t text and drive.”


Vodol: Smelly and Simple


Did you know the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words?


With a picture, you convey much more than you can with words. In some cases, it can take a thousand words to describe what is displayed in one picture!


Whenever possible, use pictures that share concepts in striking, unusual ways. Vodol, one of Brazil’s best-known brands for preventing athlete’s foot and odor issues, nailed this strategy. Its print ad featured a foot with normal toes and arches, while a rounded nose took the place of the heel’s natural curve. The nostril – mashed into the ground – was accompanied by this caption:


“Protect your feet. And our noses.”


French Ministry of Health: Offend Others or Let a Bland Message “Melt” Away?


Print ads in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers who already have connections with that print advertising channel.


Looking to address childhood obesity and target behavior change, the French Ministry of Health created a print ad where a flesh-colored, triple-scoop ice cream cone was melting into the shape of a very large belly.


This arresting image, accompanied by the caption “obesity starts at a young age,” caused people everywhere to think twice about daily food choices. Sometimes a stark image is needed to grab attention, and in this case – with the number of obese people doubling in recent years – France was serious about getting its message across.


Strategic Design is Key


While each of these print ads each hold some shock value, they also carry a distinct, easy-to-understand message.


To create effective print ads, thoughtful design is essential. Because of its tactile nature and sensory impact, print offers a more curated approach than digital media. Use highly targeted content and distinct, powerful images to grab attention and compel engagement from your viewers.


And, as these ads demonstrate, simplicity is powerful. To go for more, sometimes what you really need is less.


 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

How to Restart the Conversation When a Lead Has Gone Cold

Adding new customers to your sales funnel is essential for growth, and lead generation is vital.


For many industries, generating a lead can cost anywhere from $25 to $300. So, after you’ve made an initial contact or pushed for a commitment, what should you do when prospects disengage?


Don’t give up! When leads stop responding, hope is not lost. Smart entrepreneurs can use many strategies to rekindle interest. Here are a few options to consider:


Prime the Pump


Leads go cold for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them.


According to Jim Obermayer, author of Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, 56% of people who indicated they might like to buy a product are still in play six months later, and 35% percent are still in the market after one year.


“Leads do not go cold as much as it is not yet their time to buy in the one-year cycle,” Obermayer said. “A rep may approach them before they are ready.”


Though it’s challenging to follow up after a long window of time, Obermayer suggests priming the pump, using an email first, followed by a personal call.


Ask One Key Question


Don’t start a conversation without a strategy or direction.


When you reconnect, remind the prospect of the last time you spoke, the level of interest they expressed, and any questions you discussed.


If they weren’t initially ready to buy, tell them you’re following up to gauge interest or update them on what’s changed since the last interaction (like a revamped product or updated subscription options). If they still seem non-committal, don’t be afraid to ask this question:


“Should I close your file?”


Differentiate Your Approach


If leads have been ignoring your outreach attempts, try adding value, or shifting your approach.


Consider a direct text message campaign, an email with a link to a freebie, or a direct mail invitation to a special event. Custom videos can also provide a non-threatening way to break the ice. Call prospects by name, refer to your previous conversation, and send an encouraging message to show you care about them personally.


You may be surprised by what a kind word can do!


Send a Break-Up Email


If you’ve followed up with someone multiple times and your prospects seem bleak, it’s ok to send a farewell message.


In fact, a last chance email can elicit a 76% response rate. Used in a friendly, conversational way, giving final notice can jolt someone out of complacency and get them moving.


Here’s one example:


Hi Tina,


After several attempts to reconnect, it seems your interest in _____ may have waned. That’s totally fine, but I’m just wondering if we should keep trying or find a better time?


To keep things simple, I’d appreciate if you could respond with a simple keystroke (reply with either A, B, C, D, or E) to indicate your level of interest:


  • A. Stop emailing me with attempts to connect but continue to send event invitations.

  • B. Please remove me from your list.

  • C. I may need your help, but the timing isn’t right. Please keep trying!

  • D. I want to schedule a time to talk – could you please send your availability?

  • E. I forgot who you are. Can you refresh my memory?

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!


Think of Reconnecting as an Opportunity


One of the best ways to revive a cold lead is to stay positive.


Don’t worry about annoying a prospect; the only way you’ll know if someone’s interested is by asking! While you don’t want to be pushy, it’s better to error on the side of optimism. In reality, only 10% to 25% of all leads are followed up on. By following up, you stand a chance of standing out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

How to Keep Your Cool in Pressure-Packed Situations

In July of 2020, more than four million people savored the chance to watch live Major League Baseball on the opening night of a historic 60 game series.


Due to the intensity of the abbreviated coronavirus season, each game matters immensely. By winning the first game, a team instantly has nearly a 3-game lead over the team that it beats. With the number of season games shrinking by half, every homerun and strikeout is intensified. Only those teams that can perform well under pressure can pull out a short season victory.


Many people in the business world are facing a similar pressure. 


Corporate teams have been forced to adopt tighter timelines, operate with a slimmer margin, or do more with fewer teammates. How will you respond to that pressure? And how can you encourage those around you to avoid panic or stress?


Here are three tips to guide you through moments of high intensity:


1. Create a Prioritization Strategy


Make a list of monthly tasks and then assess each item. 


Ask questions like: is this item important to me? Will it relieve pressure or clear space in my day? Does it move our team forward? If not, look at delegating, postponing, or eliminating this task. 


2. Focus on the Fundamentals


You never really become better in the moment. 


In moments of immense stress, it is easy to make foolish decisions or go for the "Hail Mary" option. With so much uncertainty, playing a wild card can be a costly mistake. Instead of looking for a magic bullet, focus more on the most basic, time-tested strategies for success. Whether this is following up on prospects, or just a willingness to make the high-percentage "predictable" move again and again, stick with strategies that have historically brought success. 


3. Change How You Think About Pressure


"Pressure is a privilege."


Tennis great Billie Jean King has been credited with this quote, and there is a reason it hits home for so many.


One of the most daunting parts about working in tense conditions is the temptation to psyche yourself out. Sports psychologists help athletes overcome this by using visualization of positive outcomes. Before a match or competition, top players coin short phrases describing who they are at their best: "I am consistent, I am intimidating, and I never give up without a fight." When stressful moments come, athletes don't focus on the worst ("don't strike out, don't strike out") but consciously visualize success. When confidence flows, players are more likely to rise to their potential.


Another way to visualize success is by breaking a mammoth task into manageable pieces so you can actually "see" how the work could be completed. Best-selling author and business coach Dave Anderson says people can face overwhelming situations by breaking their response into manageable pieces:  


"More often than not, we worry about some imaginary catastrophe that never happens, and that tends to render us powerless," Anderson said. "Focus on one aspect of the task at a time, instead of looking at it in its totality. If you make a list of every step and use a "paint-by-numbers" approach, you'll be fine."


Resistance Training Builds Strength


Whether it is demands from your boss or supply chain obstructions, every person has obstacles that threaten to derail them from success.


But ultimately, stressful situations can push your performance to levels you could never reach otherwise. As University of Tulsa psychologist Jennifer Ragsdale says, "without challenge comes boredom. A life with zero stress is not a life worth living."

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Target the Right Customers with Your Next Direct Mail Piece

You wouldn’t spend $100 million on a new national advertising campaign without carefully set goals and objectives.


But when it comes to direct mail, marketers often spray out postcards or fliers without a great deal of thought. In direct mail marketing, careful planning is vital to your success. While the average direct mail response rate is around five percent, strategic targeting can drive that number to nine percent for house lists and as high as 16 percent for personalized mail.


To simplify your targeting, start with these questions:



  • Who is the audience?

  • Who is the prospective buyer?

  • Who will receive, read, and hopefully respond to this mailing?

The beauty of direct mail is that you can use it to reach only those people who are potential buyers for your product or service.


This is called target marketing, and it means that during the development stage, you can use multiple criteria for selecting recipients.


Demographics may include age, income, gender, geography, home value, marital status, vehicle driven, occupation, hobbies, and more. Selections for B2B mailing lists can also vary, including the company’s industry, type of product, annual sales, number of employees, locations, etc.


Helpful Hints for Compiling a Mailing List


If targeted mail is so crucial, how do you find a list filled with these “perfect” customers? 


If you haven’t compiled your own mailing list (of current customers, qualified leads, or streamlined prospects), there are two basic types of mailing lists: compiled lists and response lists. 


Compiled lists are those assembled from a variety of sources (think association members, graduates of specialty programs, qualified purchasers, etc.). For example, a list might include dentists from Boston or Lutheran youth pastors. Compiled lists are more complete and can work well for driving people to a specific online landing page you’ve designed specifically for your direct mail campaign. You can usually get a compiled mailing list in one business day.


Purchasing a compiled list might work best when you:


  --Have a limited marketing geography
  --Want to reach all households or businesses in an area
  --Want to reach all homes or businesses that fit specific demographic criteria
  --Are on a limited budget
  --Want to mail fewer than 5,000 pieces
  --Want to make telemarketing follow-up calls before or after your mailing


Response lists consist of prospects who have inquired about or responded to other marketers’ offers, like purchasing a swimsuit through a catalog or by participating in a nonprofit fundraiser. Typical response list sources are magazines, membership clubs, catalogs, warranty cards, etc. Response lists are more expensive than compiled lists because they are more targeted, and you have more assurances about the buyers’ behaviors. You can usually get a response mailing list in 3-5 business days.


Response lists might be best if your product has a high price point or your target customer is very narrowly defined. The list cost will be higher, but your ROI will increase as well. Response lists are also not always current, so make sure you ask when the list was last updated before purchasing.


We’re Here to Help


Feel overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be.


For a simpler option, Every Day Direct Mail lists can be compiled using the EDDM Online Tool available through the United States Postal Service. Here you can target customers by demographics like age, household size, income, zip code, etc. Not sure where to start? We can help! Give us a call.


Most experts agree that selecting the right mailing list is the most important factor in your mailing’s success. The more information you can collect and refine, the better your response rate will be!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Responsible Marketing During COVID-19

Fear. Stress. Helplessness.


Whether you’re caring for elderly parents or homeschooling your kids, people across the globe are struggling with big emotions during the COVID-19 situation.


How do you lead well in times like these? While daily leadership is essential for your business, crisis moments reveal the quality of your vision like nothing else. And while you may be exhausted or overwhelmed, now is not the time to push pause on your leadership. What are the “next best steps” you can take in this hour of uncertainty?


1. Increase the Frequency of Communication


During hard times, the frequency of communication should go through the roof.


Even if you have bad news, it’s important to acknowledge this ASAP. While you may not have all the details, a prompt announcement can minimize speculation, reassure panicked contacts, and let people know that you are proactively addressing each challenge.


2. Be Authentic


Now, more than ever, people are craving connection.


Since many of your customers and subscribers are working from the kitchen table, this is an important chance to re-tool your communication. Get in touch with your own feeling of isolation and use this to inform your messaging. From email communication to print mailings, review all your messages through the lens of people who are stuck at home. Ditch the corporate-speak and seek a more human tone for your brand, and use this framework to empower empathy while focusing on others’ needs.


3. Break Up the Depressive Mindset


All of us need a break from 24/7 bad news. So, how can you bring positivity in this hour?


Noting the deluge of video-conferencing, Audi of America recently launched a series of specially curated images to serve as a glamorous backdrop in virtual meeting rooms. Now enthusiasts can bring their favorite Audi with them to their next conference call or virtual happy hour, and Audi plans to release new images weekly. Simple pleasures make a big difference in tough moments!


Now, make it personal. How can you sound a note of joy or generosity today? Could you post a funny video, release a helpful blog, highlight hero stories, or offer incentives that benefit customers or people on the front lines?


Or look at your own product mix and ask: “what could I change to help my customers?” Do you have a paid or premium service that you could offer for free to help people get by over the next few months?


4. Sow Seeds of Honor


When you look at your schedule today, things seem rather quiet and eerie.


Companies of all sizes have sent people home, and every distraction has been silenced. While the coronavirus has ushered in strange times for all, good leaders won’t just hunker down. Instead, it’s time to push back with a different spirit.


In an age of mocking and disdain, today is a great day to show respect and gratitude. Whether personally or professionally, use this forced pause to repair a strained relationship, to say thank you, or to serve others. Make that difficult phone call. Donate blood or serve at your local food pantry. Show public or private appreciation for your leaders. And appreciate people who don’t deserve it (despite their inadequacies).


As you honor people, they will honor others. Perhaps this is a chance to shift the atmosphere and proactively build honor into the fabric of your network. As a leader, you WILL set the pace for others.


Connection is the New Currency


Though today’s challenges are extreme, it’s important to remember they’re only temporary.


It may not be easy, but many of us will come out of this stronger. Though it may feel that the waves are continuing to rise, take heart. Prioritize connection, and the uncharted waters can be parted in order to lead you toward a prosperous future and a newfound hope. 

Add Drama and Depth with Custom White Balance

Have you ever struggled to take a classy (yet natural) family picture?


Or photographed an incredible wilderness scene, only to be sorely disappointed by flat results? If the world has so much wonder, why is capturing that majesty so tricky?


Many photos are simply too dark or too light, with awkward shadows, blinding background rays, or glaring reflections (think Grandma’s glasses!). The color can seem artificial or just washed out. But photos with proper lighting come alive, creating a drama and depth that resonates with viewers on a heart-stirring level.


Whether you adjust your camera on the front end or edit the photo later, here are some tricks to getting the photo balance just right!


Adjusting Your Digital Camera Settings


Different sources of light have varying color hues, so a picture taken with a normal white balance under artificial lighting conditions transmits low heat to the camera’s sensor, resulting in dull yellow or orange shades in the photo.


Though human eyes can automatically adjust lights and color temperatures to “sense” the right color, a camera needs to be adjusted to different lights for accurate color reproduction. By adjusting the white balance setting of your digital camera before you start shooting, you can produce the most accurate colors in your image.


Most upscale digital cameras include presets like these:


Tungsten: Best for indoor shoots under a little light bulb.


Fluorescent: Grabs brighter, warmer shots while compensating for cool fluorescent tones.


Cloudy: Warms up a subject and its surroundings when natural light is limited.


Shade: Useful for warming up the surroundings that have a cooler, bluer tone.


You can also adjust your camera manually by setting a white object as the reference point.


To manually set the white balance in your image, take a photo of something white in the same location (and under the same light) you intend to shoot. Then go to your camera’s shooting menu, choose white balance settings, and select the image you just photographed by pressing the “set” or “Ok” button. This will enable you to customize a white balance setting for your next round of photos, resulting in more neutral, natural shades and less post-production editing.


Mastering Post-Production Tints and Temps


Suppose you get the perfect photo, but the colors aren’t quite right.


Adobe Lightroom can help!


Adobe Lightroom is an inexpensive post-processing program used by designers worldwide. In the past, developing exquisite images required excellent photos, nuanced darkroom abilities, and expensive equipment. In contrast, Lightroom allows even beginners to normalize light tones they weren’t able to land in-camera.


When you’re ready to edit the balance in a photo, here are three methods:


Option 1: In Adobe Lightroom, adjust white balance with the eyedropper tool or use the preset menu that best describes the lighting conditions you shot in.


Option 2: Using the white balance drop-down list, manually drag the “temp” and “tint” sliders in the WB panel to adjust how warm or cool your image is.


Option 3: Select the “White Balance Selector” tool in the White Balance Panel (or for a shortcut, press “W” and scan across your image to locate an area that has a neutral grey color to serve as a reference point). Once you click this grey or neutral area, the appropriate white balance settings will be applied to the entire image.


If you don’t like the result, simply use the reset button to remove all adjustments.


In the Eye of the Beholder


Sound tricky?


Don’t sweat it. There is really no “perfect” white balance because the best contrast is what looks pleasing to YOUR eye. In the end, learning and experimenting is half the fun! Reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about adding the perfect white balance to your next piece.