Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Getting Out of Your Own Way



Brilliant author, philosopher, and speaker Alan Watts once published his autobiographical book, In My Own Way, the title of which is a play on words with alternate meanings. An extremely independent thinker, Watts clearly did things in his own inimitable way. The clever alternate meaning is probably more common for the rest of us, where we use excuses and other convenient reasons to get "in our own way" on the path toward success. As Watts pointed out, the difference lies between fulfilling yourself and obstructing yourself.

Starting a business is a bold step, not one for the timid. The list of excuses used to avoid the dangers of launching a business are many and varied, but they all resonate with the same timidity. Fear of failure is probably the most common thread among all of the excuses holding us back. It takes courage to take the plunge, and a prospective entrepreneur must be willing to take some chances or they will definitely getting in their own way.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

You are familiar with these. We have heard them all before:  I don't know enough about running a business. I don't have the skills. I don't have sufficient contacts with the right people to get started on the right foot. I can't afford it right now. The economy won't support a new business just yet. It's just not the right time.

Each of these may be a valid concern, but the bottom line is that they are nothing more than excuses holding you back from exploring your dream. THEY are not what is holding you back. YOU are what is holding you back.

There are many ways to overcome the fear of failure. One of the most common is simply out of necessity. People lose their long-held jobs and have to pay the rent. Being "forced" into business has been the best thing ever to happen to a lot of people. But whether you are forced, following your dream, or simply fall into it by chance, the opportunities are there for you to succeed. Pat Flynn's success is a good example.

Pat Flynn was laid off by an architectural firm in 2008. He set a goal of passing an architecture-related exam and created a website to gather information on the test and how to pass it. Many others were also interested in this objective and the site started generating thousands of hits daily. His internal light bulb went on and Flynn wrote an ebook study guide on how to pass that test, selling it for $19.99. Within a month, he had generated sales in excess of $7,000. He never looked back, and today is the brain trust behind SmartPassiveIncome.com, as well as numerous other revenue-generating websites. Pat Flynn got out of his own way.

Founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is an extremely successful entrepreneur. He didn't start the wave that has become social media, but his brainchild is today clearly the most popular vehicle in the genre. On his profound success, Zuckerberg said, "The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." 

You must get past that little voice in your head that says, "You can't," and find the other one in there that says, "Yes, you can." That voice is in there. You just have to find it and listen, for a change. The boldness to take the plunge depends on it. As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right."

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Judging a Book by its' Cover - How People Choose Products Based on Packaging



Kids and cats seem to have this well figured out. We've all seen or experienced first-hand the joy that kids and cats take in taking an "ordinary box" and making that product packaging into the most exciting plaything of all time. What they are instinctively telling us, without truly understanding for themselves, is this: if the packaging sparks the imagination, it almost doesn't matter what's inside.

While they may be appreciating the packaging more after the fact, this axiom still holds true when we are making our purchasing decisions. No, we're not likely looking for packaging we can turn into a rocket ship, but we are looking for something that reflects our values and distinguishes itself from the rest of the products out there. So, what does that mean for those of us who are trying desperately to gain the attention and love of consumers? Well, it means you need to know a few key things about who your consumer is and what they value. Let's break it down.

People want to buy things that reflect and confirm how they see themselves in the world. How do you as a producer know what that means? Well, you might do a lot of research, or you might already know who your demographic is because they are you! For this example, let's assume the latter. You are a 32-year-old, college-educated female living in Northern California who is passionate about organic farming, conservation, and veganism. You've designed a line of shoes using recycled materials that are vegan-friendly.

Are you going to shove these walking works of art into a plain brown cardboard box with a line drawing of the shoes and a white label showing the color and size like every other shoe out there? No, of course not!

You'll likely package the shoes in an attractive, reusable bag with your logo and an image of someone wearing your shoes prominently displayed in colors of greens and browns to evoke feelings of calm and earthiness. You'll tell a story right on the bag about how you came upon your idea for these shoes and your vision for your company and the world. You'll let people know that the shoes and the bag are handmade in a certified Fair Labor facility powered solely by the wind and the sun, using sustainable methods and responsibly-sourced materials that are animal-friendly. You'll even tell them that the ink used to print the bag and tags is made from vegetable products and not fossil fuels. Basically, you'll appeal to the sensibilities of your ideal buyer who shares your values.

When that person chooses your product, it's because it confirms their beliefs in themselves, that they are passionate about protecting the environment and they despise oppressive and exploitative labor. Not only will the shoes become a part of their identity, but so will the bag that they will use every day to carry their groceries and other items. They will take pride in knowing that they did not place another shoebox and extraneous paper products into the great landfills of the world.

This bag among the sea of sameness will be what gets your customers' attention. The story you tell on that packaging will make them love your product. Don't let your packaging be an afterthought, make it an integral part of your product.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Typography and Your Brand: How the Way Your Message Looks Affects the Way It Feels




As a marketer, a huge amount of your time is spent crafting the perfect message to really grab hold of the attention of your target audience in a way that they will be unable to break away from. The words that you're using are so important that many people fail to pay enough attention to another element that is just as necessary: typography. Simply put, the way that your message looks can ultimately affect everything from the way the reader digests it to how it is interpreted in a number of different ways.

What Your Typography Says About You

The term typography does not refer to any one particular type of font, but rather an entire family of fonts. Serif and Sans Serif are two different fonts, for example, but they both belong to the same family. Serif and Times New Roman, on the other hand, are two completely different font families.

Simple typography selection can actually be a great way to make a particular impression on your reader even before they've had a chance to digest what your marketing materials are saying. Serif fonts tend to invoke a feeling of professionalism or traditionalism, for example, while fonts designed to mimic handwriting tend to come off as much more casual and approachable. Script fonts tend to be perceived as more formal. As a result, when crafting your buyer personas you should be thinking about not only what they want you to say, but how they want you to say it. An older target audience would likely respond more to Serif typography, whereas a younger audience may prefer the additional friendliness that handwriting-style typography conveys.

Brand Consistency

One of the major benefits of making strong typography choices in your marketing materials feeds back into the larger idea of brand consistency. Take the typography of your corporate logo as just one example. By making a strong typeface decision early in the designing process and using the same overarching idea across all mediums, you can make all of your communications feel like they're coming from the same place. If your print flier uses the same basic typography selection as your website, for example, they suddenly feel like they're coming from one place even though they're being digested via two incredibly different forms of communication.

Controlling Pace with Typography

Typography can also be a great, subtle way to dictate the speed at which certain marketing materials can be read. Say you have a 500-word print flier that you can't edit to be shorter, but also are afraid may be overwhelming to the reader. By using a different typography selection to highlight certain key points, you're immediately commanding the reader to stop and pay attention to those lines. All of the information is still there, but if their eye is naturally drawn to the contrasting typography (as it likely will be), they can skim the entire flier if they want and still walk away with the message you wanted them to receive.

These are just a few of the ways that typography ultimately feeds into how successfully your message is received by your target audience. By taking a deeper level of control over typography, in addition to crafting the specific message you're trying to convey based on word-choice, your brand stands a much better chance of making the type of positive and meaningful impact on your target audience that you were after in the first place.



To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ways to Recharge for Successful Entrepreneurs



Entrepreneurs are a different lot. It takes a certain type of person to hang out there on the edge and take calculated (and sometimes not so calculated) risks.  The rush of adrenaline that keeps tycoons in the sweet spot of success can wear a person out, though.  The hard-charging, always-ready attitude is a unique quality that has its own set of rules when it comes to taking a little downtime without losing precious time and opportunities.  The following are excellent strategies for how to recharge for moguls of business.

Contemplation

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to sit quietly for a few minutes a day.  Taking the time to think and contemplate things is a real game changer. It teaches you to quiet your mind and gives that big brain of yours time to rest.  That's all it is. Give it a try.  Take 20 minutes and sit quietly.  Let your thoughts come in and gently focus on them one at a time, allowing yourself to sit in silence.  Over time, the effects build and offer a calmer mind and body, heightened focus, more patience, and greater productivity.

Movement

Your doctor and Jillian Michaels are right.  Exercise is especially critical for entrepreneurs.  You may feel like you are going 100 MPH on any given day and do not need "additional" activity, but get outside and take a brisk walk.  You can even take the time to think at the same time. It's a twofer for the multi-tasking magnate in you.

Experience the Outdoors

Great Scott!  Throw nature in the mix and it's a "three-fer" (it's a real word - scout's honor).  The outdoors can spark relaxation, creativity, and help stave off burnout.  Daily exposure to natural surroundings will give you the fuel to get back in the office and power through your day. Relax by taking a book or magazine to a park or a beach.

Schedule Your Time

Keep a single calendar that gives you mandated time each day to walk away from your desk, your phone, and your email.  Maybe a couple of 10-15 minute breaks that give you time to stretch your legs, interact on a social level, grab a (healthy) snack or call a loved one.  This single calendar will house business related obligations and personal outings and priorities.  Seeing all of your obligations in one place helps eliminate the over-scheduled executive trap and gives you the opportunity to see, in black and white, how you are spending your time.  In addition to your breaks, dedicate some time to your meal periods.  Maybe you do not want to allocate an hour per day for lunch.  At the very least, turn off your electronic world for 15-20 minutes and give your food your full attention.  Think of it as "eating meditation."

Unplug

Unplugging from all electronics, while a little frightening at first, can help alleviate a ton of stress. Think about it; all of those dings and beeps and buzzes that are always pulling at every last ounce of concentration you have. There's only so much a person can take.  Every tweet, poke, Instagram, Snapchat, email and reminder activates responses in you that eventually lead to mental and emotional breakdowns. It's a daunting prospect, but consider taking an hour away from all electronics and build from there.  Who knows, maybe you could allocate an entire electronics-free day or evening.  Your creativity and your soul will thank you.

These few tips can help avoid burnout and create the optimal environment for the successful entrepreneur in you.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing

Thursday, August 4, 2016

5 Psychological Triggers To Convert Prospects To Clients



Any marketer worth anything will tell you that the key to increasing sales is to use A/B testing to determine which sales tactic is more successful than another. If you're not familiar with it, A/B testing (sometimes called split testing) is comparing two versions of something to see which one performs better. With that in mind, have you ever wondered why some tactics are more successful than others?

Logically, we think that if we appeal to the rational brain, we will convince people that our product is the best possible product for their needs.  However, if that were the case, would anyone ever buy Croc Accessories or Pet Rocks? Nope. 

Unless you're selling to Mr. Spock, there's a much simpler way of convincing people to buy what you're selling. The key to turning prospects into clients is tapping into the deeply embedded emotions inside each one of them.

By identifying these emotions and learning how to trigger them, you can increase your revenue faster than you can say "Chia Pet."  Here are the top 5 psychological triggers you can start using immediately to boost your bottom line.

1. Increasing Pleasure and Avoiding Pain

Avoiding pain and increasing pleasure are the driving forces of all human activity.  This idea is the most fundamental reason we have a nervous system.  If something hurts, we find a way to stop it. If something feels pleasurable, we do it more.

Translating this into your marketing strategy, you must first identify what your clients associate with pain and pleasure. Once you've figured that out, the rest is easy. Draft your marketing message in a way that shows your customers how your product or service will get them as close as possible to their pleasure trigger and away from their pain trigger.

2. Simplifying Life

For most of us, life is complicated. Too complicated. It takes 47 steps to get us from the comfort of our beds and out the door prepared to work.  We don't need another product or service that will add more steps (obstacles) to our day.

Take a good, hard look at what you're selling. Does it add or remove barriers from people's lives? If it's not easy and fast to use, consider making a few tweaks that will take all of the "no's" out of the equation.

3. Creating Novelty

New and shiny are what we love. In fact, it has been scientifically shown that exposure to something novel increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, that chemical that makes us all tingly and excited. 

If you've ever heard someone complaining about the lack of significant changes in the latest iPhone, but still stand in line for hours to get one in their hot, little hands on release day, you've witnessed the power of novelty.

You can easily create innovation with your products by making a few simple changes and give your prospects that shot of dopamine they've been craving. Think googly-eyes on the pet rock.

4. Telling a Story

Humans have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years by telling stories. It's how we share our experiences.  The best storytellers invoke all of the senses to put their audience directly into the action.

You can infuse even the most mundane products with the magic of a good story. Try updating your copy to tell a story about your product that transports your prospects to a happier, more memorable place. They'll buy just to keep the story alive.

5. Building Anticipation

We've all turned 16 at some point in our lives. Remember the anticipation we felt as the day drew nearer and the prospect of being able to drive around without an adult sat winking at us in the distance? It made life a little more sparkly, didn't it?

If you've got a new product or service in the works, don't just plunk it down on the counter when it's all done. Start building some buzz while you're still working on it. Send out emails to your current customers and prospects. Create a series of videos giving out little bits of information at a time. Get people in that "I can't wait" mode and your launch day will be more profitable than you can imagine.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MPM as a Marketing Tool: What is it?



Simply put, marketing performance measurement and management, or MPM, is a means of monitoring and adjusting marketing campaigns on the fly. Any good marketing campaign is a fluid campaign, accommodating changes and adjustments as they become needed. Large corporations spend thousands of dollars on gaining a command of MPM, but that doesn't mean that small businesses cannot benefit from trying to master the same tools.

MPM is a way of systematically managing and coordinating your marketing assets for the improvement of the overall strategic marketing of your products or services.

Really, MPM is more like a fine-tuning mechanism that allows you to tailor your best marketing assets to do their best work for you and informs you of those marketing channels that are not performing as you had hoped or planned.

MPM is About Timing and Comparison

Timing has to do with when you release specific marketing channels. If you released them all around the same time, you would never be able to evaluate which ones were the most productive for you. Staggering their release provides the necessary criteria for effective evaluation of each one's individual value to your marketing scheme. That way the channels can be compared for their effectiveness. A spike in sales can result from any marketing channel, but if they are all released at the same time, you cannot easily determine which ones are successful and which ones are not.

Once you can establish which channels are the most successful, you can emphasize those channels, modifying them accordingly to increase their effectiveness.

The metrics tell the story. The analytics, that is, the collection of data, permit you the luxury of creating new strategies based on the success of earlier efforts. With this information, you can not only improve existing campaigns, but you can also more aptly tailor future ad campaigns. Fully strategic thinking involves planning ahead, and the analytics from MPM give you the information to do that more effectively.

There are five pillars to MPM. Each has its own value and must be addressed. 

The first is alignment. Align your marketing efforts to your desired results. Target those results and adjust your campaign according to the success of initial strategies.

Second is accountability. This is simply a statement of how well any specific marketing channel delivers the desired results based on the metrics you have before you.

Third is the analytics themselves. This is the data that drives your campaign and complements and improves it with its needed modifications.

Fourth are the alliances. You form these naturally in the process of marketing, but using them is an important part of successfully employing an MPM strategy. Use your network partners, such as content providers and the agencies that locate them, as well as other assets to emphasize your successful marketing channels.

Finally, there is the assessment. This is the natural outcome of the process, the data that is compared and contrasted for their relative benefits. The strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated in real time as each campaign develops, permitting adjustments and allowing growth in the campaign, itself.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Innovation: What Living Outside the Box Really Means in Terms of Your Career



Gone are the days where to really make an impact in your career, you had to prove yourself to be the best little worker bee out there. While having a strong work ethic and the determination to accomplish any task that you're given are always important regardless of the business you're talking about, they have been superseded in recent years by something much more important: innovation.

According to a study conducted by Fast Company.com, employers are increasingly looking not at the surface-level work histories of applicants when hiring new employees, but at their history of innovation. Employers want critical thinkers because critical thinkers don't just get the job done - they flip the job on its head and do it in a way better than anyone ever has before.

If you really want to use this idea to your advantage and lay the foundation for positive growth in terms of your career, it isn't good enough to just think outside the box. "Outside the box" just officially became your new home.

Innovation and Your Career: A Match Made in Heaven

Life is full of unpredictability. The major benefit of making an effort to not only think outside the box but to make it your permanent home comes down to metamorphosis. Emphasizing innovation throughout all aspects of your life doesn't just make you more adept at dealing with change - it allows you to embrace change. It allows you to go beneath the surface of a situation and take anything you find, good or bad, and turn it into something that can help propel you forward.

If you've developed a reputation as an innovator, you instantly make yourself more valuable in most businesses because "innovation" and "saving money" are synonyms. Being an innovator means that you can use limited resources combined with your passion, your drive, and the sheer force of your creativity to not just solve a problem, but to accomplish something.

Innovation: Bringing it All Back Together Again

Innovators bring true value to a situation or environment. They're not followers. They're leaders. If you can truly train yourself to think with an eye towards innovation in everything you do, you're creating the type of situation in your career where the definition of "success" doesn't matter, as it will always be well within arm's reach.

These are just a few of the reasons why making a constant effort to live "outside the box" is so important. In the short-term, it makes you a much more valuable employee who is able to solve challenges, and allows you to come up with creative solutions that allow a business to stand apart from the competition and more. In the long-term, it makes YOU a much more valuable commodity. It doesn't just teach you how to naturally overcome any curve ball that your career goals may throw at you. By creating a situation where innovation is built into your very instincts, it teaches you how to naturally use ANYTHING that life may throw at you to your advantage.

To contact Chuck Gherman for more information about how Printing Arts Press helps organizations with their Marketing and Human Resource needs through print communications please visit www.printingartspress.com.


#print #directmailmarketing #printmarketing