Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Optimize Data to Make Better Decisions

September 17, 2019

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 Analytic

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.

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4 Nonverbal Communication Hacks to Streamline Your Success

August 27, 2019

“Few realize how loud their expressions really are. Be kind with what you wordlessly say.”
– Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

Do you appreciate it when you are telling a story and your listener sneaks a peek at their watch? How about when you ask your child for help with a chore and they mumble a begrudging “yes” while dramatically rolling their eyes?

Communication is a nuanced endeavor.

Whether you’re using hundreds of words or simply standing in silence, you are in constant communication with those around you. Experts estimate that a minimal amount of communication happens through the exchange of words, while up to 93% occurs through tone, expression, and gestures.

Nonverbal interactions are our primary mode of communication (coming so naturally, even the smallest child has it mastered), and it is difficult to “fake.” Nonverbals usually tell the truth, even when our words are lies.

Be a Better Communicator in Your Professional Environment

Here are four interesting strategies to use nonverbal communication to your advantage.

1. Break the Tension

In moments of high tension, people feel more defensive when they sense you are trying to “win.”

Nodding your head during a conversation communicates that you are listening and making an active attempt to understand an opposing point. Nodding can also win people over to your viewpoint, as people subconsciously mirror the body language of those around them. When you nod while speaking, it adds authenticity to your words and makes people more likely to compromise with you in heated situations.

2. Understand the Relational Bonds in the Room

Sometimes the quickest way to grow trust in a group is to figure out where loyalties lie.

One trick is to watch for eye contact. When a group of people laughs, members of the group can’t help but make eye contact with the people they feel close to.

Another clue is the direction of a person’s feet. In group conversations, if the feet of the listener are pointed at the person speaking, it conveys interest and respect. If the listener’s feet are pointed away, it often shows they are disinterested or disconnected.

3. Communicate Confidence Even When You are Nervous

If projecting confidence can determine the outcome of your conversation, how can you add weight to your nonverbals?

Confidence is something you can practice before you enter a room. Research shows that the use of “power poses” (placing your hands on your hips, standing tall with your chin raised, or raising your fists above your head), can trick your brain into feeling more confident. Do this for 30 seconds before a meeting, and you’ll walk into a room with more natural confidence, resulting in a smoother conversation and a more poised disposition.

4. Increase Influence Without Saying a Word

Sometimes the biggest distractions in a conversation are the fillers.

To establish trust while listening, avoid needless “noise” like pacing, tapping your foot, or fidgeting with your hands or pen. When you ask a question, and someone is slow to respond, resist the urge to jump back in. Remain silent for a few extra beats to show you respect this person’s thought process and that you’re confident in moments of negotiation. Quieting your impulses also helps you come across as competent and in control.

A Springboard for Success

These tips won’t make you a communication ninja, but streamlining these natural cues can help you better understand the relationships of those around you.

Intentionally sharpen your nonverbal skills, and you will build your network and streamline a path to success!

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

August 20, 2019

Lisa Price describes herself as “the accidental entrepreneur.”

She got her start in her mother’s Brooklyn kitchen, creating body butter and selling it at the flea market at her mother’s church. Customers would stop by, smell a few things, and ask one inevitable question: “Do you have anything for hair?”

Price made this her top priority and never looked back. “Carol’s Daughter,” Price’s ridiculously popular natural hair care and beauty brand, eventually became a multimillion-dollar business that sold to L’Oreal in 2014. Price says the ability to spot innovation, create something, and sell herself have been several keys to her success.

Negotiating Well and Staying True to Yourself

How do you sell yourself without selling out?

Price was committed to finding healthy ways for African-American women to care for their hair. She stayed true to this mission (though her customer base eventually included Caucasian women as well). While touting natural products in place of highly popular chemical relaxers used in salons, Price presented herself as a simple girl with simple solutions.

Her product popularity coincided with stints on the Home Shopping Network and the rise of YouTube. Price could offer product demos, educate young women looking for solutions, and bring affordable alternatives to young markets. In 2009, “Good Hair” (a documentary produced and narrated by Chris Rock) showed a can of Coca-Cola dissolving in a chemical relaxer, and momentum spiked: women using relaxers in their hair dropped from 89 percent to 36 percent in just two years.

“The Internet makes everything democratic,” said Price. “Larger companies got left behind.”

Along the way, Price grew comfortable negotiating for her company and fighting for herself without folding under pressure.

Want to emulate her experience?

While you may not feel very powerful before signing a new deal, career coaches say you have the greatest negotiating power during the short time between being offered a job (or a contract) and formally agreeing to take it.

Negotiating in these situations can increase your earning potential and ensure you’re properly compensated both now and in the future. So prepare well before coming to the table! This may include researching market averages, calculating your value (or your product value), and preparing your talking points in advance (i.e., years of experience, sales goals achieved, or unique benefits your product can bring).

Rehearsing with a friend, asking for more than your target number, and communicating with confidence can bring significant gains when you sit down to negotiate. And don’t worry about offending. Forty-three percent of job recruiters say it doesn’t impact their view of a candidate if one negotiates for salary, and 19 percent said it has a positive impact.

Price shared her advice for when an acquisition or initial salary offer isn’t right. Her script went something like this:

“I appreciate everything about this deal and am so excited, but if I have to live with this particular offer, it might be hard for me to be fully there and present. I don’t want to be distracted and thinking about other opportunities, so . . . ” Here, Price would lean in, give a specific ask, and let the chips fall. (It worked; she got more money.) When it came time to sell her company in 2014, Price said that outside of her marriage and children, this was the proudest moment of her life.

Negotiating is incredibly important because when you stand up for yourself, you tap into your skills to ask for more. This ultimately sends a message that you deserve it – which means you’re more likely to receive that request!

Three Fantastic Print Ads (and how to make yours more memorable)

August 14, 2019

Does your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that’s probably due to information overload.

According to ad agency Red Crow Marketing, the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads make a lasting impression).

Want to increase exposure and impact for your marketing messages?

To stick with viewers, your print ads need to be creative and clear! Here are three compelling print ad examples, with a few insights into what makes them so great.

A Better Job is Waiting

Created by Joe Public United, this print campaign for a job portal aims to motivate people to stop slogging it out in a job they don’t like. Smartly retouched photos show bored workers at their desks, workers who sat still for so long that mold started growing on their bodies.

Need the motivation to break out of your slump? There’s nothing like spiders building webs in your hair (while you play computer solitaire) to kick your complacent butt into gear.

The Secret to Success: This ad is powerful because it resonates with the job portal’s target customers in a way that elicits extreme emotion (i.e., dismay or disgust). Move your prospects forward with messages that ring true and deliver a message that is personally meaningful to your viewers.

You Eat What You Touch

Love dogs? You might feel a little less inclined after viewing this ad.

This unconventional ad shaped a pet Pug into a perfect replica of a loaf of bread on a cutting board to stress the importance of using soap. Something about fuzzy bread just makes a viewer shudder (while immediately taking action with good hygiene).

The Secret to Success: This ad is impossible to ignore because the visual is surprising and memorable. Viewers have to look twice to find the Pug on the cutting board, and once the image hits home, the message does too. Humor is linked to higher recall and increased sharing, and funny brands are seen as more relatable, human, and trustworthy. Have fun and make people laugh with your surprising, memorable print ads!

Neighbors

In 2010, FedEx wanted to display the accessibility of its global shipping options.

A rustic map of North and South America showed a man reaching out of a window near Florida to hand a Fed Ex box across the ocean to a woman reaching out her window in Brazil. DDB Brazil used a simple visual to convince viewers that sending a package to another country takes as little time as it would to place it in the hands of a neighbor.

The Secret to Success: By using a map of Brazil as well as an easy-to-understand visual concept, DDB was able to tap into the needs and desires of its local market. When crafting your ad, look to clearly communicate how your product or service fits into consumers’ lives or work, and how it can make them better, happier, and more fulfilled.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear. Increasing print engagement will help your advertising break through the clutter of not only the hundreds of ads people see each day but the thousands of brands that are competing for your customer’s attention.

5 Tips to Keep Your Design Project On Time and Under Budget

August 6, 2019

Ready to launch out with a new ad campaign but nervous about keeping the project below budget?

Not all projects are smooth sailing. Sometimes things go wrong, and your expenses can spiral out of control quickly.

Here are five tips to keep your next project on track and on budget:

1. Ask Questions Upfront

When partnering with a design professional, be sure to clarify the contract up front.

Will you be paying a project fee or an hourly rate? What services are included in this fee? Clarify how long the project will take, how often you’ll get to review the work, and how many revisions are allowed in this agreement.

2. Plot Your Course Early

Involve your design professional in your brainstorming as early as possible.

Designing one piece can have a quick turnaround, but re-branding or crafting large-scale exhibit pieces can take months, especially if there is confusion about the parameters or design presets for a particular project.

One costly mistake is to change directions midstream, so start conversations early to help your design professional take a big-picture run at your project to manage it in the most efficient, cost-effective way.

3. Assemble All the Elements

Attend to the precise details of copy, timeline, and photography at the get-go, and be sure these elements have been given a green light by those in authority before the project commences.

Your project will involve many pieces, and when they are aligned from the start it will allow your design dollars to be maximized with fewer delays. While you may not have precise details ironed out, clarifying project parameters is key in finishing on time and on budget!

4. Schedule Regular Updates

It’s imperative that both the client and the design professionals are tracking with the same timeline as a project progresses.

Who will handle this communication and how often will it take place? Will you use e-mail, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Ongoing communication is essential for success.

5. Allow For Margin

To keep a project on budget, it’s essential to create margin so deadlines don’t get tight.

Every project has hiccups, so it’s best to allow a little padding as you build a realistic timeline. For example, if the printer needs eight days to deliver a piece, schedule at least 11 days so you’re guaranteed a smooth outcome.

How Much Should I Budget?

Ready to get started on your next design? Here are five basic steps for planning your budget:

  1. Estimate your monthly income
  2. List your fixed design expenses
  3. List your variable design expenses
  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses
  5. Create the budget

Online budget planners can also be helpful for estimating your costs.

Better Together

Want to save on time, labor, or unnecessary stress?

Whether its exceptional-value graphic design or full-service printing, our capable team is dedicated to providing you with prompt, knowledgeable, one-on-one service, and carefully printed materials you can be proud of. We’re here to make things flow as smoothly as possible!

A Beginner’s Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

August 2, 2019

Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional.

Looking for a beginner’s guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:

Go Big (But Not Too Big)

When you’re creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.

The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don’t go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.

If you’re taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always “scale down” the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.

Avoid Website Images

Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.

Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.

To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.

Zoom in or Adjust Proportions

When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.

To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.

Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image’s physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.

Resolve to Finish Well

By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.

Have any questions? Call today; we’re always happy to help!

How to Sell Your Brand Through Story

July 30, 2019

Have you ever been introduced to an overly chatty person From?

They pause briefly to learn your name, then launch into an extended monologue about their life and interests. After finally “escaping” the interlude, you realize they didn’t ask you a single question.

When you meet someone like this, does it raise a red flag?

This pushy demeanor causes you to lose trust in their entire character. The same can be true in marketing when companies spend too much time talking about themselves instead of authentically connecting with consumers. Without building adequate rapport, marketers prematurely oversell or repel prospects for good.

How can you avoid this mistake? By building connections through story.

The Human to Human Connection

Building brand stories sets buyers at ease and creates the best possible customer experience.

Today’s consumers prefer an increasingly personalized experience, and sharing your brand through story is one of the best ways to build relationships. Brand stories offer a friendly introduction to your company, building trust with a generation that craves distinct, authentic connections.

Many companies don’t think of themselves as a brand or believe they have a story to tell. And that’s just not the case! A brand story isn’t simply a chronological account of your history, it’s a portrait of who you are. Your brand story consists of:

  • What your brand says about itself
  • What your brand does in the world
  • What others believe and say about your brand
  • How people interact with your brand

Here’s an example of one business bringing their story to life:

Chipotle’s Mexican Grill is a brand known for serving “food with integrity.” Chipotle has labeled itself “as real as it gets,” using only 51 ingredients and no heat lamps, freezers, or microwaves. A recent print ad included the line: “For real foods. For real actions. For real change.”

Chipotle seeks to fulfill people’s desire for clean eating and to change the way people think about fast food. The core of this ethos includes respect for farmers, animals, and the environment, and transparent displays of ingredients and producers on every menu. Tipping toward satire, the brand’s recent 51 ingredient billboard campaign featured this phrase: The only ingredient that’s too hard to pronounce at Chipotle is “Chipotle.”

Finding Connection

On a neural level, the brain actually “feels” a story.

Story-based communication brings greater comprehension and allows your listeners to grow in confidence and receptivity because people buy in to what they trust!

To create meaningful customer connections, begin by intentionally discovering who you are talking to and deliver the message your audience wants or needs to engage with.

Build a narrative that is captivating, concise, consistent, and conversational. Then do your best to share this everywhere! Think of your brand story as a steady IV drip of content, delivered to multiple audiences, over many years, in a variety of formats.

Whether it involves large-scale displays, mounted core values, or social media content, ensure your story stays consistent across mediums. Keeping attributes simple and clear will allow consumers to recognize you in every setting and to feel at home with all that your brand stands for.

Bring Your Story to Life

Stories make life interesting because they fulfill curiosity and craving in every person.

Telling your brand story is mission-critical in forging relationships with a generation that desires to buy into more than just a product, but into a narrative that gives meaning and pleasure to their daily lives.