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Showing posts from 2019

How to Make Performance Reviews More Effective and Enjoyable

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Performance reviews don’t have to be something to sweat about. These conversations offer a valuable feedback loop for people to ask questions, identify needs, and drive professional growth. Building Conversations that Count Whether you’re conducting or participating in a review, here are a few strategies to make the most of your next review: Share Facts and Document Goals Before a review, make sure you are clear about what is expected. Review job descriptions and jot down ways success has been achieved or where one person is being overloaded. Include measurable data (i.e., project output, sales goals achieved, etc.) that is understood by all participants. Link any examples (like improvement strategies or success stories) to the facts. Then, conclude by recording time-sensitive, measurable goals that are linked to the objectives discussed in the review. Questions to Consider: What’s working? What’s not working? What has been your greatest accomplishment or challenge

Ensure Staying Power for Your Business with Great Local Marketing

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Earlier this year, Gerrit Curran and Emily Wessner opened a Jersey Mike’s Subs in Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania. To gain traction in their township of 20,000, these entrepreneurs knew that their new business must be intricately tied to a community connection. Curran and Wessner chose to use print as their primary marketing channel. The Jersey Mike’s staff distributed nearly 7,500 sandwich coupons throughout the community, encouraging patrons to enjoy a free sub and also to donate the cost of that sandwich to the Muhlenberg Township Athletic Association. In the end, the promotion helped raise over $15,000, and the franchise gained an admirable reputation as a devoted community partner. Stand Out in Your Community Print marketing can be especially effective in creating a local marketing presence, especially when combined with integrated campaign efforts. Smart business owners know that catering to a local market can be a point of power. But how do you leverage this connect

How This Successful Entrepreneur Keeps Inspiration Flowing

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When you were a kid, what did you love to build? When Frank Yang was eight, he dreamt of building all kinds of things . One of his first creative concepts was a dog food dispenser with a timer that could feed house pets on demand. Yang used to tell people he wanted to be an inventor, but the adults in his life said he should be an accountant or an attorney instead. Today, Yang is the founder and CEO of Simplehuman , a privately-owned company that designs and manufactures kitchen, bath, and beauty tools. Simplehuman is devoted to finding ways to streamline daily tasks for efficient living, including touch-free soap pumps, sensor-activated vanity mirrors, and automated trash cans. Last year Yang’s love for building practical “problem solvers” grew Simplehuman’s revenues by $15% to more than $200 million. Yang says he continues to find joy in the dreaming: “Even though I’m the CEO of Simplehuman, I spend about 60% of my time on [Research and Development], because that’s what I lov

5 Keys to a Simple Design Update

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The United States Open Tennis Championships is a professional tennis tournament that takes place in New York City around Labor Day each summer. The US Open draws fans from around the world to watch players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams compete. The 2019 US Open set an all-time attendance record with 737,872 fans coming to the National Tennis Center, with the largest stadium (Arthur Ashe) selling out 23 of 24 sessions. In 2018, the United States Tennis Association announced it was introducing a new logo for the tournament. This featured a speeding tennis ball with an updated font while dispensing with several elements of the old logo. The previous icon (a flaming ball with a red swoosh) was a dated image that presented challenges in digital media and failed to represent the US Open as a premium sporting brand. By keeping elements of the original logo , the USTA was able to redesign in a way that captured the excitement and movement of their world-class even

The Ultimate Sizing and Concept Guide for Your Next Flyer or Brochure

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Want to generate interest or keep the conversation going with your most promising leads? Brochures and flyers are two of the easiest ways to generate the momentum you need. But what appears to be a straightforward design can sometimes be more complicated. After all, isn’t a flyer the same thing as a brochure? Is there a substantial price difference? And when would it be best to distribute a brochure instead of a flyer? From folds to sizing, to finishes, finding the right promotional piece can be a little trickier than it first appears. Here are a few design basics to shape a print piece that does exactly what you need. Flyers A flyer is usually a single, unfolded print piece used to draw attention. Flyers can quickly convey small bursts of information and are great for highlighting sales, new locations, upcoming events, or coupons. Because they are easy to print, flyers can contain very targeted, time-bound information, or messages that are specific to a particular audience,

Tips to Make Your Brand More Memorable

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Just Do It. Think Different. Have You Had Your Break Today? You Can’t Beat the Real Thing. The 1990s brought us many of the world’s most iconic slogans, but certain companies have a corner on memorable branding. For example, a 2015 survey of 3,000 people in the U.S. and the United Kingdom were shown logos of 100 top global brands, then asked to name and describe those they found most memorable. Nike was at the top (16% of respondents cited it), followed by Apple (at 15.6%), McDonald's (at 11.1%), and Coca-Cola (at 9.7%). But aside from logo design or slogan, what makes a brand stick? Experts say it’s a combination of things: some which are inspired, some unusual, and some packaged in the form of contagious stories. The volume of exposure can also increase the likelihood that a brand will stand out, but not many businesses can afford to plaster their logo all over the world. Increase the “Stickiness” of Your Brand Use Humor Don’t be afraid to use humor to promote

Three Show-Stopping Print Ads (and How to Make Yours More Memorable)

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Does your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that’s probably due to information overload. It's been said that 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 actually make a lasting impression). But amidst the explosion of digital advertising, industry reports remind us that print holds steady. 70% of Americans prefer to read on paper, and 67% prefer printed materials over email. Additionally, 55% of consumers say they trust print marketing more than any other advertising messages. Want to evoke emotions with your next print masterpiece? Draw from three creative examples of print ads that recently stole the show. Keloptic: Bringing Life Into Focus Keloptic is an online optician that sells sunglasses and eyewear.  Looking for a clever way to express value, Keloptic took classic impressionistic paintings and added cla

5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Holiday Branding

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Tis the season to set yourself apart! Year-end sales are a crucial part of many small businesses, and this year, the National Retail Federation predicts November and December sales will increase around 4% (for a national total of between $727 and $730 billion!). With this natural uptick, year-end festivities offer a great opportunity to add extra flourishes to your brand. Clever seasonal packaging can add a homegrown feel to your products or be the deciding factor for customers choosing between your brand and a more generic option. Adding professionalism to your packaging can grab attention, personalize your products, and show that you really care about your clients. Looking for inspiration? Here are five clever ways to spruce up your holiday messages. Holiday Packaging Tape Holiday-themed tape is an easy update to your year-round packaging. Add a strip to your bubble mailers, a border to the top of your brown bags, or a smidge to seal your gift boxes. These minor updates

How T-Shirt Giveaways Led to a Cool Million

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Sujan Patel likes to do things unconventionally. Patel founded Single Grain, a California based digital marketing company, in 2005. With a background in SEO marketing, Patel gave himself a one-year window to gain as many clients as possible. Though he describes himself as motivated and driven, Patel says a tendency toward laziness was a key that opened the door for his marketing success: "As soon as I started making money with Single Grain, one of the first things I did was to go out and get some T-shirts made. Not because I thought it'd be some genius marketing move, but because I knew I'd be able to wear them every day and never have to go clothes shopping again. I started out with an order of 25-30 shirts and . . .  I decided to give [several] away to friends. I posted to Facebook to see who wanted a few shirts and was surprised when I ran out just a few hours after the message." Patel quickly realized he was onto something bigger than a simple me

Eliminate Waste with a Lean Business Model

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"The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize."  – Shigeo Shingo When you think of "running lean," what comes to mind? For many entrepreneurs, running lean means producing great results on a shoestring budget. Traditionally, being "lean" has meant doing more with less. Lean business models are all the rage, especially for start-ups or for small regional firms. But recently, the concept has expanded. Today, a lean business model is a strategy that uses continuous planning and streamlined processes to address customer needs rapidly. Here is one working definition: A lean business model is a business strategy that strives to eliminate waste in products and processes while satisfying customer wants. In doing so, the business will receive more positive customer returns (like increased sales and goodwill) while expanding profit margins. Lean businesses are those that recognize inefficiencies, adapt quickly, and co

Bringing Your Dream to Life

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"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." (Warren Buffet) Dr. Julie Silver is a giant among medical practitioners. As an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Silver has published several award-winning books and is the Chief Editor of Books at Harvard Health Publications, the consumer health publishing brand of Harvard Medical School. But Silver is known for more than her accomplishments, she's known as an overcomer . At age 30, Silver found herself on the other side of medicine – as a patient instead of a physician – when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her story from surgery through radiation, chemo, and rehab is now the backbone of her identity. Through cancer recovery, Silver found herself exhausted and depleted, with few resources for getting back on her feet: "Returning to work and caring for my young children was very difficult," Silver says of that time. "I wa

5 Fantastic Color Combinations for Your Next Design

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Feeling blue? Maybe it's the color of the room you're sitting in. Color psychology is something that has fascinated people for decades. Artists and interior designers have long believed that colors can dramatically affect moods and emotions, and color marketing has become a hot topic in marketing, art, design, and print. As Pablo Picasso once remarked, "Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions." Color is a powerful communication tool, so understanding it can help you signal action, sway the mood, and even influence psychological reactions. Want to give it a try? Here is a quick snapshot of color harmonies, including color combinations to try in your next poster, banner, or custom label. The Best Ways to Create Balance The color wheel consists of three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), three secondary colors (colors created when primary colors are mixed: green, orange, purple), and six tertiary colors (colors made from primar

How Multi-Tasking Can Tank Your Productivity

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For more than a decade, Dr. Daniel Simons and his colleagues studied a form of invisibility known as inattentional blindness. In the best-known demonstration, Simons showed a video and asked people to count how many times basketball players in white shirts passed a ball. After 30 seconds, a woman in a gorilla suit sauntered into the scene, faced the camera, thumped her chest and walked away. Half the viewers missed her. In fact, some people looked right at the gorilla and did not see it. That video was a sensation, so a 2010 sequel again featured the gorilla (as expected). This time, viewers were so focused on watching for the gorilla that they overlooked other unexpected events like the changing background color. How could they miss something right before their eyes? Inattentional blindness. Humans consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when we focus on one thing, we overlook others. The Statistics on Multi-Tasking Most people are unaware

Expand Sales with Responsive Customer Surveys

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Airbnb is one of the most iconic names for startup success in our generation, quickly becoming one of the world's fastest-growing companies with over 80 million reservations booked per year through their service. A considerable part of Airbnb's marketing strategy includes its responsiveness to both customers and hosts. The company regularly surveys hosts and guests and makes this a priority in their business. Why? Here's what Airbnb says : "At the center of everything we do is community. Our community of hosts is what delivers magical travel to our community of guests. For more than ten years, we have worked to build this community, which now includes hosts in nearly 100,000 cities." A typical Airbnb survey invite looks something like this: Hi ____, Thanks for using Airbnb. We really appreciate you choosing Airbnb for your travel plans. To help us improve, we'd like to ask you a few questions about your experience so far. It only

4 Modern Design Resources for Your Bag of Tricks

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Looking for a few hacks to sharpen your designs? By adding a few extra resources, the force of your talent can expand exponentially! And with new design tools being released regularly, the possibilities are limitless. Everyone needs a few handy helps in their bag of trips. Check out these four modern design resources and up your game today! Quick Design Want to learn design? Quick Design is a platform that lists free design courses available online. From 3D and animation to things like cryptocurrency and "ethical hacking," you can select free courses for design based on your skill as either a beginner or an expert. Step-by-step practical resources are available to a wide range of 3D, CAD software, and other industry-oriented specialists. As an additional benefit, you can follow other designers of your interest, which can help in networking or creative brainstorming. unDraw For quality illustrations that you can embed in your design on a mome

How to Age Gracefully at Every Stage of Life

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If people can age with class, Harlene Goodrich should be considered a maestro of maturity. Goodrich, age 81, is a former schoolteacher who lives in Seal Beach, CA. Goodrich returned to school at age 50 to get her master's degree and has since published a children's book and won several playwriting contests. Despite serious back and knee surgery in the past decade, Goodrich didn't shrink back from traveling to Washington, D.C., at age 79 to participate in a national protest march. Goodrich says that aging well means proactively beginning the process while you're still young by engaging with stimulating people and activities. This includes a healthy dose of humor. Recently, Goodrich gathered friends ages 65 to 83 and heard them complaining about aches and pains. She stopped the discussion and suggested they go around the table to give each woman five minutes to complain. That's when everyone broke out laughing. A Healthful Approach No one can st

Increase Conversions with 3 Headline Hooks

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Do you ever wander through a library aisle you would normally avoid? Perhaps you're a fiction reader who ambles into the autobiography section. Surprisingly, a cover grabs your attention and you check out a book you've never heard of. What was it that caused you to act? Just one short glimpse at the title. That's telling. Fool-Proof Headline Formulas Headlines matter. A lot. Researchers estimate that in today's content-saturated culture, only 8 out of 10 readers make it past the headline of most pieces. In 2016, an academic study of bit.ly links to BBC, CNN, Fox News, New York Times, and Huffington Post articles found that 59 percent of the links were never clicked. And even if you do get readers past the front door, you still need to bring them to a point of purchase. Which headlines best engage readers and maximize response? Here are three headline formulas to increase your conversions: "The Best" List Headlines

7 Greetings to Use in Corporate Thanksgiving Cards

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Want to make the holidays happier this year? Showing gratitude through your year-end greetings takes some creativity and planning. Maybe this would be a good time for your business to break the mold when it comes to year-end tidings! In 2016, Mayville Engineering Company, Inc (MEC) decided to amplify appreciation through an employee-empowered kindness campaign. In lieu of traditional greeting cards, MEC created a series of fun in-house GIFs for their employees to get them smiling. In tandem, MEC sent "acts of kindness" prompts to spur a contagious rash of goodwill. These 25 acts of kindness included both personal and professional ideas, such as, "compliment someone to their boss," or "donate a piece of clothing for every present you receive." Employees were encouraged to share the love in and beyond the company and to share photos on its social channels using the hashtag #MECKindness. Share a Simple Thank You While you may not start a

5 Ways to Make Your Newsletters Shine

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What's so great about vacation? It's a chance to cut loose and take a break from the ordinary! But vacation just wouldn't be as fun if it wasn't anchored to the sense of consistent routine in our lives. In order to vacate, you have to have a place or a routine to break AWAY from. A Foundation to Build From The same is true in design. To have the freedom to challenge the norm, some type of coherent foundation must first be established. This is particularly true in multi-page publications like newsletters. One of the most important features of multi-page publications is consistency. So, before you go rogue in design, first you need to ensure each page looks like it belongs to the whole. How can you create this sense of cohesion? With repeating colors, icons, fonts, bulleted lists that repeat a formatting style, matching pull-out quotes, and more. Here are five strategies for organizing your next newsletter so you compel viewers to read and respon

Inspire Imagination with 4 Creative Design Catalysts

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Do you enjoy creating? Are you an illustrator, a graphic design specialist, or a photographer who loves to see ideas come to life? If so, you've probably experienced a few slumps. Even the most innovative people need new inspiration from time to time. Ready to ignite a fresh perspective for your projects? Here are some creative exercises that may spark your next fantastic idea. 4 Design Catalysts to Inspire Your Imagination Loosen your turtleneck pullover and host an art night with friends. If you create for a living, what better way to connect with your inner muse than to host a no-holds-barred, imaginative free-for-all with your best pals? Tell guests to dress for a mess and drag out your paints, beads, clay, stamps, ink, and more. Remind people to leave the perfectionist self at home and have fun with the process. After all, some of the best art is spontaneous. Takeaway: Creating things with friends reminds us that art is fun, and beauty can aris

3 Ways to Help Your Team Love Mondays

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In 1966, an American band called the "The Mamas and the Papas" released a song about Monday that captured the mood of millions of people regarding that dreaded first day of the workweek: "Monday, Monday, can't trust that day. Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way . . Every other day, every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah . . . B ut whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes . . . you can find me cryin' all of the time." How to Kick Those Monday Blues It's true. Not many of us look forward to the start of the week. Half of all workers will be late to their jobs on Monday mornings. The abrupt transition from a free weekend to the grind makes many people miserable. But Mondays don't have to be a drag. While you can't magically get your team excited to head back to work on Mondays, there are a few things you can do to make Mondays a bit better. Ax Monday Meetings How of

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

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Individual design elements are the building blocks of today's best marketing pieces, and with today's technology, almost anything is possible when it comes to print. Print products can vary in texture, color, shape, and finish, bringing a staying power that allows your company to shine strong among competitors. Step Up Your Game with Memorable, Inspiring Print Promos Here are five simple and impressive print techniques that can drastically improve the appearance of your materials. 1. Cut it Out Whether it's brochures, business cards, or door hangers, printed pieces aren't limited to square or rectangular shapes. Consider reshaping your invitation to match your logo, or creating a custom label in the shape of your most popular product. For brochures or folders, you can add custom-shaped pockets, a peek-through window, or die cuts that accentuate the featured product. 2. Add Texture While embossing was originally known for its use in person

5 Simple and Impressive Print Techniques to Strengthen Your Marketing Materials

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Individual design elements are the building blocks of today's best marketing pieces, and with today's technology, almost anything is possible when it comes to print. Print products can vary in texture, color, shape, and finish, bringing a staying power that allows your company to shine strong among competitors. Step Up Your Game with Memorable, Inspiring Print Promos Here are five simple and impressive print techniques that can drastically improve the appearance of your materials. 1. Cut it Out Whether it's brochures, business cards, or door hangers, printed pieces aren't limited to square or rectangular shapes. Consider reshaping your invitation to match your logo, or creating a custom label in the shape of your most popular product. For brochures or folders, you can add custom-shaped pockets, a peek-through window, or die cuts that accentuate the featured product. 2. Add Texture While embossing was originally known for its use in person