Category Archives: Print News

Marketing Tips For The Holidays

It always seems like the holidays sneak up on us faster and faster each year. They also seem to bring the best out of people — everyone is filled with cheer, gratitude, and compassion. That being said, the holidays are a perfect time to connect with family, friends, customers, and future prospects. For this reason, your company should have a killer marketing campaign, since people base their buying decisions on their emotions. Marketers can leverage these feelings to engage with their customers on an emotional level and build trust and credibility. The holidays are always a popular time to market, so it’s important to put some thought into your campaign. As you must know, there is a lot of spending during the holidays, which means you want to get your customers to spend their money with your company, and not your competitors.

Check out these four marketing tips to use during the holidays:

with content from AMA.org and pewinternet.org

Social Media Marketing

According to The Pew Research Center, more than ¾ of adults ages 18 to 49 use social media. This is an outstanding number of people with purchasing power. Why wouldn’t you want to use social media to market during the holidays? It is so important to take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels your prospective clients are on. Using social media is the perfect way to engage during the holidays, especially when you can interact and track if this is successful for your company.

Tug at Their Heartstrings

This might seem like a no-brainer, but the most memorable and successful marketing campaigns rely on “tugging on your customer’s heartstrings”. It’s all about making the customer feel something, or having a lasting impression on them. A lot of the time, if you see an emotional ad, video, blog, or story, you are more inclined share it with others because you believe it will impact them like it impacted you. This is just another benefit to “tugging on your customer’s heartstrings” because they are likely to share with their friends, family, and co-workers, which could potentially be your new clients. This also shows that your company is kind-hearted, generous, and everything else positive a customer wants during the holidays.

Consistency

Consistency is always important when marketing, but during the holidays, consistency across all channels is crucial. You want to create a consistent experience for your customers, no matter how you’re reaching them. During the holidays, people are filled with positivity and gratitude, and they will be expecting that from your company as well.

Storytelling

Storytelling still works, especially during the holidays. Storytelling sometimes is the best way for your customers to really connect with your company on a more personal level. Consumers are more likely to spend money with your company rather than your competitors when they feel they are a part of what your company is doing. This is also a way for your customers to get a firsthand account of what your company does for your employees during the holidays and prospective customers. For example, highlight a story when your company went above and beyond for a customer, just because.

Thanks for reading this week’s blog! To learn more about how to take your brand to the next level, contact us today. Happy marketing!

5 new Windows tools for creative pros

Creatives who use Windows computers, tablets and phones have traditionally complained of feeling like poor cousins to their Mac-loving counterparts. Which means we often get it in the ear: whenever we post about a new tool that’s not available for Windows, our Facebook comments are full of complaints and a general sense of abandonment.

But don’t shoot the messenger: we don’t make tools, we just write about them. And right now, we actually have some good news for users of Windows devices: in the last few weeks, there’s been a flurry of great new Windows tools to try out.

But have we missed one? If there’s another Windows tool for designers you feel we should be telling people about, please let us know in the comments!

01. Adobe XD

Adobe’s prototyping tool, XD, has landed on Windows

Adobe’s big answer to Sketch and Invision apps, the interface prototyping tool Experience Design (XD for short), finally arrived on Windows 10 this December. It’s not the exact same app, as Adobe explains in this blog post, but a new app fully customised for the capabilities of Windows hardware.

That doesn’t quite tell the whole story, though: it’s actually quite a basic version of XD rather than the full version of Mac users can enjoy, with a number of key features missing. For example, Layers Support is not yet available, you can’t share an Adobe XD file from the app, and you can’t record the Preview screen. But at least Adobe promises to catch up as soon as it can. You can read more about the new release here.

02. Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo, Serif’s low-cost rival to Photoshop, is now available to both Mac and PC users

Last month, the award-winning Mac alternative to Photoshop, Affinity Photo, finally became available for Windows to try out too. And the good news is that this Windows version has all the features of the Mac version.

This including real-time results, non-destructive editing, RAW processing and end-to-end colour management. In fact, this Windows release even includes the new features of the recent 1.5 Mac update, such as advanced HDR exposure blending, 360-degree image editing, tone mapping, and batch processing.

You can learn more about Affinity Photo for Windows here.

03. Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer quickly followed Affinity Photo onto Windows this month

Following the successful launch of Affinity Photo on Windows, makers Serif followed up this month by releasing a Windows version of its Adobe Illustrator rival, Affinity Designer.

Again, this new Windows version matches its Mac counterpart feature for feature, including a vector and pixel editing toolset, 10 million percent zoom, and non-destructive effects and adjustment layers.

As with Affinity Photo, Serif stresses that the Windows version of Affinity Designer shares exactly the same back-end as the Mac version, so you can switch assets between both tools on both platforms with confidence. You can learn more about the release here.

04. Project Felix

Adobe’s 2D and 3D compositing software Project Felix has been launched for both Mac and Windows simultaneously

First announced by Adobe at its MAX conference in San Diego this November, Project Felix is a clever new compositing tool for graphic designers. It enables you to combine 2D images with 3D assets like materials, models and lights into a single, photorealistic image; all without any knowledge of 3D software.

Released this month for both Mac and Windows, the tool uses advanced machine learning algorithms to adjust things like lighting automatically to create a realistic looking composite. It also automatically links up to Adobe Stock to allow you to purchase and import assets directly from within the software. You can learn more about the release here.

05. 3D Builder

Just launched for Windows 10 Mobile, 3D Builder helps non-techies get started with 3D printing

Already available for Windows PC and Windows Holographic, 3D Builder was released this month for Windows 10 Mobile and XBox too. So what is it?

Quite simply, it’s a Microsoft app aimed at making 3D printing easy for non-techies. It lets you scan, view, personalize and print 3D models, as well as harnessing your phone’s camera in order to create digital 3D models from real objects.

You don’t even need to have a 3D printer of your own; you can just send your files to Microsoft’s preferred 3D printing service, i.materialise.com, from within the app.

20 Top New Tools For Freelancers

CREDIT: 

Freelancing looks idyllic from the outside. Working with the best clients, choosing fun projects, determining your own hours and working from home or wherever you like. But there’s a lot that happens under the hood to keep the momentum going.

Doing the actual freelance work for your clients never takes up 100 per cent of your time. Soon you’ll be swamped with paperwork and admin – writing proposals, drawing up contracts, sending invoices, writing down tasks and managing your workflow.

To accommodate that, we’ve seen an abundance of new tools spring into the market to assist freelancers. You can now write proposals and send them directly to the client without ever opening up your email client. Instantly glance at your revenue for the month and compare it to last year’s. Check how much time you spent on that new project last week.

To help find the best, I’ve broken down the tools into the following categories: proposals, finance, legal, time management and workflow. Let’s begin!

Proposals

The value of a great proposal shouldn’t be underestimated – they can be the key to winning or losing a project. I’ve tried out a number of different proposal tools and even used InDesign CC to make my own custom template. These tools aim to make things simpler by providing templates and customisation features. Many also enable the user to send the proposal smoothly to the client and track its progress – a feature that I’m a big fan of.

01. Prospero

From The nuSchool, this stripped-back proposal tool will also help you price your project

Currently in a private beta, Prospero not only helps you create a proposal but also helps you price the project. From the founders of The nuSchool, Prospero is a completely stripped-back proposal tool. There are no dashboards or even account settings; its strength lies in helping you create a proposal, rather than just letting you fly blind. It promises ‘More client, more money, less headache’.

When you create a proposal, Prospero asks you some brief questions, such as your rate, the time it will take you to complete the project, and the type of work you’re doing (Prospero covers print and branding proposals as well as web and app design). It then smartly generates a proposal based on your answers, which you can edit. There’s no design customisation (only text-editing options), but the default design isn’t bad. When you’re finished with the proposal, you can download it as a PDF or send it directly to the client.

02. Nusii 

The proposal editing in this tool is attractive and simple, and once completed you can send it straight to the client

Nusii’s dashboard not only lets you create proposals, it also lets you glance over your sales revenue or proposal acceptance rate. I commend this tool on using the available data in a useful way so users can keep track of how proposals are progressing. The ‘send to client’ experience is smooth, and you’re notified when a client views the proposal.

The proposal-editing process in Nusii is attractive and simple. However, visual customisation is limited and you can’t insert tables – an odd decision considering freelancers often like to include a breakdown of deliverables and expenses in a table. A nice touch is that the tool supports a range of currencies and languages, so you can use it almost anywhere.

03. Proposify

Select a proposal template to get started with this WYSIWYG option

A true WYSIWYG tool, Proposify comes with a range of templates. Though pretty bland, the templates give you a nice place to start if you’re new to writing proposals, and the editor includes a range of customisable features (and even some basic drawing tools). However, it is quite like a word processor – you don’t get that beautiful proposal writing experience that I personally prefer.

One of the benefits of Proposify is that you can embed videos and images. It also lets you create content snippets to drop into your proposals and re-use, which is a great time-saver.

Finance

Keeping track of the money coming in and out is essential to the sustainability of any business. If you’re looking to get better insights into your earnings, try one of the following finance tools.

04. Invoiced

This tool lets you work with whichever payment method you prefer

Invoiced was co-founded by a freelance web developer, and inspired by his own personal struggles. This tool makes it nice and easy to create and send invoices to your clients. The specific payment method is up to you – Invoiced integrates with Stripe so you can set up online payments via credit card, Bitcoin, PayPal, or even offline.

The smarts of Invoiced are in its ability to track your collections efficiency, how long it takes on average for you to get paid, and any monthly recurring revenue (useful for clients on a retainer). If you’re using an accounting tool to keep track of finances, Invoiced integrates with both Xero and QuickBooks.

05. Zipbooks

This new and free accounting tool lets you track all your financial information

ZipBooks is a new accounting tool that is not only free, but also beautifully designed and simple to use. You can use it to create invoices, track your time, manage payments and clients, track your expenses, and more. Once you’re logged in you’ll see a nice dashboard that displays your billings versus collections, revenue in the last 12 months, average collection period and more. Handily, you can set up late payment reminders for those clients that need them.

06. Momenteo

With a travel expense feature built in, Momenteo is perfect for freelancers who like to roam

With its travel expense feature built in, Momenteo is great for freelance digital nomads. Momenteo will also turn approved estimates into invoices without any additional work. Refreshingly, unlike many other tools, Momenteo just has one pricing plan, with the option to pay monthly or annually. You’ll get access to all features and unlimited use of the tool during your subscription.

07. Bonsai

Send contracts, create invoices and collect payments, all via a seamless UX

Still in beta, Bonsai gives freelancers the ability to send contracts and collect payments. When creating a contract, Bonsai will ask you what type of work you’re doing, to help it tailor the contract to your project.

You’ll be asked a few questions, including your basic info, project brief, rate, when you’d like to be paid and so on. The tool will then provide an editable contract on your behalf that you can send to the client straight from the tool. Once signed, Bonsai generates an invoice for you to issue. You can also set the invoices to be recurring – handy.

Not only is the functionality of Bonsai great, but the design and user experience is seamless. The tool is easy and enjoyable to use, omitting any unnecessary clutter.

08. Wave

This tool contains all the bare bones of accounting software without the unnecessary extras

Wave is another popular, free option. This straightforward tool has all the bare bones you’d expect from accounting software, but without the unnecessary bells and whistles.

Its invoice flow moves through visual steps, making it easy to keep track of where a project is up to in the payment process. A nice touch is that you can create free, unlimited invoices on the go via the iOS app.

It’s easy enough to send a receipt, set up a Stripe integration and connect your own bank account. Payroll features do exist, but are currently limited to the US and Canada only. You’re probably going to want to invite your accountant in to take care of the reporting features, like balance sheets and income statements.

Legal

Not the most fun category, but definitely one of the most important. Contracts don’t have to be as scary as they sound – they’re good for you and your client. While these tools are helpful and often include templates, if you’re unsure about the laws in your country I recommend consulting a professional.

09. Termsfeed

TermsFeed has a range of free terms templates for you to use

Selling products online? Chances are you’re going to need some legal documentation, such as a returns policy. TermsFeed has a range of free terms templates for you to use, including Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service. There’s also a generator that asks you a range of questions and then builds a contract best suited to your use.

10. Shake Law

Need a contract? Choose from a range of templates and get expert advice

A very basic contracting tool, Shake Law lets you choose from a range of contract templates. A nice addition is that you can choose a contract template for an assignment-based or licensing project.

Once you’ve created your contract, you can get it reviewed by a lawyer. While this sounds generous at first, Shake Law actually redirects you to a law firm, which requires an additional fee.

The features of Shake Law themselves are pretty limited. For example, you can’t send the contract to the client (only download a PDF), and there’s no way to visually edit the plain contract. As a designer, the design and consistency of all my collateral is pretty important as I consider it a reflection of my skills and professionalism. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my clients something so plain.

Time Management

It’s the one thing we all wish we had more of: time. Unfortunately we can’t make more time, but we can choose how to spend it. Covering everything from time tracking to scheduling to estimation, time management tools are useful for any freelancer, even those who don’t bill based on time (like me).

11. Cushion

Rather than tracking time, Cushion lets you schedule your hours for work and time off

Rather than tracking time, Cushion helps you schedule your time – and not just at work. You can schedule time spent on projects, as well as time off. It highlights when you’ve overbooked yourself, to help you avoid burnout and encourage you to manage your time better. Easy to set up, Cushion also lets you display a badge on your website to show when you’re available, which is helpful for those interested in working with you.

12. Timely

A feature letting you compare your planned and logged hours helps you plan your time better

Elegantly simple time tracking software, Timely greets you with a calendar view the first time you log in. There’s no timer – rather, Timely encourages you to fill in the hours you worked on a particular project. You can view the history of a project and gain a good overview of time spent across all areas of the business.

This tool lets you enter both your planned and logged hours so you can see the difference in your estimations. A nice way to teach you to estimate your time better if you’re always getting it wrong! Timely works in the cloud, or you can choose to access it from your browser.

13. Harpoon

Create projects, track time, allocate invoices and record expenses

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, once you’ve spent a little time with Harpoon and oriented yourself, you’ll see it is a powerful tool. Harpoon lets you create projects, from which you can then track your time and add invoices and expenses.

It prides itself on not just helping you invoice, but aiding you in your decision making and helping you plan better. You can quickly glance at your average revenue per project (or per month, day or hour, if you prefer) or check your outstanding invoices. There’s also an event revenue forecast, with spaces where you can set yourself goals and define your work habits (for example, how many hours or days per week you work). This makes it a great place to encourage you to plan ahead and keep track of your goals.

Harpoon is almost like an all-in-one tool, with smart reporting and dashboard features. The only things it lacks are contracts and proposals.

14. Freelancy

If you bill by the hour, Freelancy will turn your tracked time into invoices; no maths required

Freelancy lets you turn time tracked into invoices, quickly and easily upon project completion. I personally don’t bill this way, so it would not work for me. However, for those who do bill per hour, I can see this being useful, as it saves you from having to do the maths to work out your fee.

Freelancy’s reporting feature gives you a calendar overview of when you split your time. Here, you can easily see how much time you’ve spent and on which projects. You can filter by dates or by project, making it easy to see what your time was spent on and when. The reports are exportable, meaning you can download CSVs and charts for yourself or your clients.

While automatically creating invoices from your time tracked is handy, you can also create invoices manually if you prefer. Perhaps you’re only tracking your time for internal reasons, or maybe it’s irrelevant to the client.

15. Toggl 

Track the time you spend on projects and view summary reports

I’ve been using Toggl ever since I started freelancing. While I don’t bill my clients per hour or day, tracking time informs me about how and where I spend my time. After tracking the time you’ve spent on certain projects, Toggl uses that data to generate reports. The desktop app reminds me to track my time and lets me do so without having to log in to the web app.

Toggle also lets you create private and team-wide workspaces. So I can manage my personal time, but I could also invite a developer into a workspace if I wanted to track not only my time, but all the time spent on the project.

Workflow

Workflow tools can often take a little more effort to get your head around as they can be complex, yet powerful. I personally use my trusty paper-and-pen to-do list, but I can definitely see the benefits of having a digital workflow tool, especially when it comes to organising bigger projects.

16. Flow

In this tool, you can set up tasks to work on privately before sharing them with your team

At its core, Flow lets you create workspaces and tasks so you can keep on top of your projects. Like many workflow tools, Flow lets you collaborate with team members through task assignment and in-built chat. I tried using the chat feature with my developer and it worked fine, but there’s nothing quite as smooth as Slack. There’s also a ‘focus mode’ that turns off notifications temporarily and lets your team know when you’ll next be available.

Users create a selection of tasks to be completed, which are then organised into projects. Not all tasks can be seen by the whole team; Flow lets you create private tasks that you can share with your team members later. This is helpful if you have something you’d like to work on privately before sharing it with others.

The calendar view gives you a nice overview of what’s coming up soon, and you can filter to see just your own tasks or everyone’s. And if you find yourself with a bit of free time on your hands you can navigate to the ‘unassigned’ section. Here, you’ll see all the unassigned tasks ready to be picked up.

17. Azendoo

Filter tasks, check the calendar overview, create repeating tasks and more

Azendoo is a powerful workflow tool with a beautiful design and user experience. View analytics, attach documents, and group and organise your tasks into subjects.

The whole experience has been thought through; you can filter on tasks, see a calendar overview, create repeating tasks, set due dates and add checklists. You can also broadcast messages, send direct messages to team members (if you have any) and view notifications. A great tool for keeping you on top of things.

Bonus tools

There’s more to freelancing than just finance, time management and proposals; sometimes freelance life can throw up more unexpected challenges. I’ve rounded up three bonus tools to help you boost your creativity, get paid on time (without the stress) and prototype your ideas quickly and easily.

18. Just Tell Julie

Got a client that won’t pay? Just call in Julie Elster to get your money in the bank

Stuck in a situation where the client isn’t paying? Julie Elster offers to work as your accounts receivable virtual assistant to help retrieve absent payments; she works by calling your client on the phone and being ‘thermonuclear nice’. She has a proven track record, and is highly rated within the freelance industry.

19. Briefbox

Pick from a diverse range of hypothetical briefs to get your creative juices flowing

Briefbox is a collection of hypothetical briefs to help keep your creative juices flowing when you’re between projects. The team at Briefbox write a range of imaginative briefs – everything from designing local currency to creating branding for a painter – you just need to pick one and get designing. Once you’re done, you can upload your work to the site and get feedback from the community.

The team has just launched its Pro accounts. These offer tips from trade professionals, and constructive criticism on every submission.

20. Atomic

Prototypes are a great way to get ideas across, and Atomic offers a quick way to build and share them

Create and share prototypes with your client with Atomic, the fastest way to design beautiful interactions. Import an existing design from Sketch or Photoshop (or design in the tool itself), then link the pages together and fine-tune the transitions to create your prototype.

Once finished, you can easily share your prototype with the client by sending them a link. The client can then add any comments or feedback on your design.

Full disclosure: Femke van Schoonhoven works in marketing and design for Atomic.

Get started

That’s it! This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of new freelancing tools popping up every year, so I encourage you to keep an eye out and see what’s improving over time. Remember, when it comes to freelancing there’s no one-size-fits-all. Each tool has its own strengths and feature set so it might take some time before you find the best ones for your toolkit.

6 Hot Illustration Trends of 2016

When it comes to illustration, everyone has their own personal style. And across your career, developing that style and making it more representative of your own ‘inner voice’ should of course be your main priority, rather than slavishly following trends.

But that said, it’s still fascinating to see what’s happening in the wider world of illustration, and what kind of work is actually getting commissioned. So in this post, we round up 6 hot trends in illustration we’ve noticed spring up over the last 12 months.

If there’s a trend you think we’ve missed, though, please let us know in the comments below!

01. VR

Simon Silsbury finds out what new technology can do for illustrators

2016 has truly been the year of VR, and even illustrators have got in on the game, with the likes of Simon Silsbury sketching on a wall and then hopping straight into a HTC Vive headset to recreate the same live illustration (see the results in this video). We also saw Christoph Nieman transformed his cover illustration for The New Yorker magazine into a 360 degree VR animation, while new software such as Quill for the Oculus Rift provided a way for digital illustrators everywhere to conjure up new worlds by drawing and painting in mid-air.

02. Abstract

Chris Harman’s illustration for Hamburg design studio Hort

In many ways, the world of 2016 felt a little darker and disjointed, and this was reflected in a clear trend towards abstraction, subtraction and the surreal in the cutting edge corners of the illustration world. Examples of the trend can be seen in the weirdly disjointed and freeform work of Chris Harman (above); the blocky, lopsided cartoon characters of Joel Plosz; the ink and watercolour-based soft forms of Eleni Kalorkoti, and the beautifully trashy abstractions of Anna Beil.

03. Lo-fi

Working predominantly as a fashion illustrator, Zoë Taylor’s first book Joyride was published in 2016

Another way to view abstraction is to take a deliberately lo-fi approach to your illustration. And we’ve seen a fair bit of that about this year, from Zoë Taylor’s book Joyride, published by Breakdown Press (above) to Paula Bulling’s gloriously childlike colour-pencil drawings for Leibniz Magazine, the moody monoprints of Yann Kebbi and Marcus Oakley’s illustrated Instagram experiments.

04. Political

Mark Leibovich’s celebrated illustration for the New York Times Magazine

2016 has been a year dominated by political upheaval, and illustrators have responded in full voice. Mark Leibovich’s illustration for the New York Times Magazine feature “Will Trump Swallow the G.O.P Whole?” was among those getting the most attention (you can read more about how that was put together here).

But there were countless others, with Bob Staake’s brick wall illustration for The New Yorker following Trump’s victory; an anti-Brexit poster campaign from a range of top illustrators, Eva Bee’s evocative illustrations for The Guardian, and Oliver Kugler’s heartbreaking illustrated tales of Syrian refugees leading the way.

05. Collage

Taku Bannai’s collages are constructed with beautiful simplicity

Inventive and eye-catching collages seem to be proving an increasingly popular way for illustrators to raise attention for themselves on Instagram. We’ve particularly enjoyed the simple but artful work of Taku Bannai (above); the collage comics of Samplerman, the lo-fi creations of Jean Philippe Calver, and the gorgeously handcrafted work of Carlin Diaz.

06. Naughtiness

Brooklyn illustrator Cute Brute’s rude illustrations have garnered him a cult following

A new generation is emerging for whom hardcore porn and obscene pics on social media are more likely to evoke a shrug than shock. So it’s not surprising that illustration that veers towards to the saucy and scatalogical is abounding. Examples of the trend can be seen in the work of Brooklyn illustrator Cute Brute (above), Joe Schlaud’s seedy Karma Sutra gifs, Teresa Orazio’s Moonmambo series, Jade Shulz’s collection of Video Vixen drop caps and Josh McKenna’s global warming campaign for Mother London.

SOURCE: Tom May

Why you need to be selling print, WITHOUT selling print

There has always been a propensity to sell print based on price. Yet we recognize that we also need to sell quality. And service. And value. A quick google search on the term: how to sell print, showed 136 million results. There is clearly no lack of information available on the topic.

But we’re still selling. To the tune of 136 million results. Printers are still being referred to as vendors; while we all know that the preference is to be referred to as print providers.

print _ sales-_-print-media-centr

So why is that? I started thinking about how many times I’ve been pitched based on price. Or heard the phrase “Give us a chance to quote”. “What was the winning bid? Let’s sharpen our pencils.”

The way I see it, a print vendor is someone who sells print.

But what if we stopped selling? What if we focused on knowledge-sharing instead? And by sharing knowledge, we develop relationships. And with those relationships come business. Now I know some of you may be rolling your eyes thinking, “Relationship selling has been around forever. This is nothing new.”

I recently took a survey, and one of the questions focused on what qualities you look for when choosing a print provider. You had to rank, from one to 5, what criteria you value most (like price, customer service, etc.). The problem is, you weren’t allowed to repeat a rank. That means I had to really think about what was most important to me when it comes to selecting a print vendor. And it made me realize that as much as I will always compare costs, it’s value FOR my dollar that matters most to me. Not just the pure dollar.

So I started to think about all the printers I’ve either worked for, or purchased from. I thought about the types of jobs I’d award to each. What character traits do I believe give me the most value for my dollar? Now imagine, as I said, how truly difficult it was for me to rank each unique trait. And choosing the least important was just as difficult as choosing the most.

As printers, how in the world are you supposed to know how to sell, if you don’t understand your customer’s needs? If THEY have difficulty pinpointing their own needs?

I don’t mean the printing needs. I mean the selection criteria needs. How can we go charging in on price, or service, or turnaround time, or whatever other characteristic we’re selling, if we simply don’t know what the buyer is buying? Of course if you are entering an RFP and know the decision comes down to price, then you know for a fact, price is what you are selling.

There are so many ways to share knowledge and develop professional relationships these days, particularly with social media. I learn a great deal about the people I work with on social media. Not just their professional LinkedIn profiles, but from the groups and communities they engage in. #printchat is an excellent example of how the personality of the community shines. Relationships have developed outside the tweetup to more personal platforms, like Facebook and Instagram. From there…well I think you get the point.

Sell when you know for a fact you are selling on price. The rest of the time? Be a Print Provider. Sell print. Without selling print.

-by

5 Top Branding Trends of 2016

In many ways, the fundamental process of branding is timeless and unchanging. Research your market, come up with a strong idea, generate content that conveys that idea, and then find ways to get those designs in front of the right audience.

But in 2016, finding that audience was becoming increasingly challenging. Big changes in technology, content creation and culture meant anyone working in branding had to keep a close eye on developments to avoid outdated strategies that would miss the mark.

In this post, we sum up what we see as the 5 biggest trends influencing branding in 2016 and going into 2017.

01. Audiences shift to mobile, and advertising shifts to Facebook

Ezra Firestone, co-founder of Boom! by Cindy Joseph, sees Facebook’s self-serve advert interface as “better than any other advert platform on the market”

To build a brand that connects with your audience, you have to go where that audience is. And 2016 will be remembered as the year the digital audience shifted from desktop to mobile in a big way.

This June, Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report revealed that consumers were now spending 25 percent of their time on mobile, compared with 22 per cent on desktop computers, and that mobile’s ad revenue had grown by more than 66 per cent, far outpacing desktop-based ad revenue, which was up a measly five percent.

At the same time, brands have been struggling to engage the attention of online audiences, due to the rise of ad-blocking technologies. This has led, for example to a shift from traditional display ads to sponsored content and branded content.

The two platforms that were most successful at making mobile ads work were Facebook and Google, who together controlled 76 percent of internet advertising growth in 2016. With Zenith’s Mobile Advertising Forecasts in October predicting the mobile proportion of internet use will hit 79 per cent by 2018, other content providers need to follow their lead, and fast.

02. Snapchat takes centre stage

Taco Bell got 224 million views in one day for its Snapchat Lens, which turned users’ heads into a giant taco shell to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

While Facebook may have dominated digital advertising in 2016, there was a new kid in town generating a whole heap of attention from big brands.

Snapchat is an image sharing social network with a difference. The content you share on Snapchat doesn’t live forever, like on Instagram. Instead, it disappears after a short time, imbuing it with a sense of urgency and excitement. Snapchat is also known for its filters, which people can use to transform their selfies in amusing ways.

The social network become astonishingly popular with the young: according to Nielsen, it reaches 41 per cent of all Americans aged 18-34 on any given day. And unsurprisingly, brands have beaten a path to its door, paying huge fees for custom-made filters (known as Snapchat Lenses) for one-off campaigns.

So, L’Oreal offered users a Snapchat Lens that showed what they’d look like wearing L’Oreal makeup. Gatorade released a video Snapchat lens during the Super Bowl that showed users being drenched in a Gatorade bath. Taco Bell had one that turned your face into, you guessed it, a Taco Bell.

None of this is particularly sophisticated stuff, but it does seem to work. The Gatorade Super Bowl campaign, for example, cost PepsiCo a whopping £750,000, but was reportedly viewed more than 100 million times.

03. Chatbots become part of the branding mix

Pizza Hut now lets you order takeaways using its Facebook and Twitter chatbots

If Snapchat was the new, cool company in 2016, the coolest new technology was chatbots. Intelligent software that talks with people via text or voice, in a way that closely resembles a real human, chatbots truly arrived this April with Facebook’s new Messenger platform.

In brief, Facebook Messenger makes it easier for businesses to deliver automated customer support, ecommerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through chatbots. Twitter has followed suit earlier this month with its own chatbot service, and there are plenty of other competitors in this growing space.

Examples of chatbot tech use by brands include Pizza Hut letting customers to order takeaways via its Facebook and Twitter chatbots; Sephora’s chatbot for messaging app Klik, which lets you to buy products that are referenced in your conversations without ever leaving Kik; and HealthTap, which connects users with more than 100,000 real doctors, but first carries out an initial consultation using a chatbot.

It’s early days yet, but chatbots have the potential to revolutionise how we buy things online. Right now, we have to laboriously slog around an ecommerce site trying to find the thing we want. Soon, though, we may be guided by our own virtual personal shopper, who asks pertinent questions about what we’re looking for, then finds us the perfect item in an instant. Watch this space…

04. Facebook Live reinvigorates video streaming

Buzzfeed exploded a watermelon, and attracted 800K+ viewers

If Snapchat brought a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) to image sharing, then the launch of live streaming platform Facebook Live in April did the same for video. And brands have been quick to jump on board.

Early on, they used it to live-stream ‘traditional’ publicity events, such as General Motors’ launch of its Chevy Volt EV at CES. Then things got more imaginative. Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, constructed a doughnut wedding cake live from their test kitchen, while Buzzfeed had more than 800,000 people watching as its employees stretched rubber bands over a watermelon until it burst (in case you’re wondering, it took just over 40 minutes).

Elsewhere, Land Rover live-streamed test drives of its vehicles in on- and off-road environments via Facebook Live and Periscope, then took questions about their capabilities from viewers on social media. Airbnb partnered with Disney, providing them with a specially-built ‘treehouse’ from which to live-stream red-carpet interviews on Facebook Live during the premiere of the new Jungle Book movie. Even broadcasters have been getting in on the act, with UFC, Sky’s Soccer AM and the BBC’s Match of the Day all using Facebook Live to put out teaser content.

The technology behind Facebook Live is nothing new, but by making it free and easy to use, and connecting it with its huge global audience, the service is likely to continue to attract big brands for some time to come.

05. Augmented reality makes a comeback

The Pair app lets you try before you buy using augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that’s also known as hybrid reality or mixed reality. But whatever you call it, it refers to the merging of physical and virtual worlds, to allow physical and digital objects to interact in real time via smartphone screens and other devices.

AR itself is nothing new, but this year’s Pokemon Go craze meant that millions of consumers started interacting with AR for the first time. Nintendo quickly grasped the commercial potential of its free geolocation game, charging physical stores and eateries to become hotspots for the virtual pocket monsters players were trying to catch.

Other brands were also finding new ways to use AR to engage with customers. For instance, fashion retailer New Look has just launched augmented-reality photobooths in its stores; McDonald’s launched a new AR-driven Monopoly game for diners in Australia; and the AR catalog platform Pair enables you to see what furniture sold by the likes of Ikea, Herman Miller and Blu Dot would look like in your home.

As AR shifts from smartphones to new devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens computerised glasses, we can only expect this trend to continue in 2017.

Is Offshore Printing A Good Idea?

[Local Printing VS Offshore Printing]

We’ve noticed over the past several years that some of our clients have tried the offshore printing gig (like in China, for example.)

As far as we can tell, they have all come back to buy locally with someone they can trust, have a face to face conversation with, and avoid experiencing any of the challenging cultural differences.

If you’ve ever been in doubt, this link is for you

Print Marketing – What Was Once Old is Now New Again

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Recently, a prospective client said they wanted to get customers’ attention through non-traditional marketing using printed products. Who knew that in 2016, the printed word would be considered “non-traditional?” Non-traditional? We’re saying this about a medium that was developed back in the 1400’s by Johannes Gutenberg! While Webster’s (of dictionary fame) mind might be little blown by this reference, when you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense.

For the past two decades, digital media has been rapidly replacing many of our formerly traditional ways of doing things, from watching television, reading the newspaper, to yes…print marketing. With the democratization of information that the internet has brought, more and more people are consuming this information digitally. Social media and search engine algorithms target our interests and bombard us with advertisements directed at those interests, to the point that we’ve become immune to the ancillary advertising “noise” that surrounds the article that we are reading online. Ad-ridden blogs and online media are now considered traditional.

Getting Attention With Quality Print Marketing Materials

A well-designed print marketing device can effectively break through the noise and grab your customers’ attention. Print marketing can take on many forms, including:

oBusiness Cards: Different shapes, sizes, die cuts, and formats grab people’s attention and make for some great talking points that help build relationships.
oInvitations: Having a grand opening or special occasion? Send out printed invitations and make people feel they are connected.
oPostcards: Whether for direct mail purposes or periodic sales or coupons, postcards can bring in a surprising amount of business.
oMenus of Services or Products: Printed on high-quality paper with excellent design and copy, these types of marketing products add personality to your business.

Poke Your Customers Periodically to Keep Yourself on Their Minds

Marketing doesn’t end when the sale is made. Customer retention is a key part of a successful marketing plan. Following up with the customer can increase retention and build loyalty. Sure, you could send them an email, but really, email is where messages come to die. Consider instead a few timed mailings to keep them engaged, such as:

oThank You Cards: Sending out a card thanking them for their purchase and providing a time-limited discount on their next purchase makes customers feel appreciated and welcome.
oSeasonal Postcards: Consider seasonal postcards with loyalty discounts on relevant seasonal items.
oReferral Cards: Create loyalty and more business by sending out referral cards to encourage your customers to spread the word. You could also offer a discount to both the existing customer and the new customer they bring in.
oStickers: Put your logo, tag line or a branded and relevant inspirational quote on a sticker to put on cars, computers, water bottles, and other personal gear.

Obtain Thought-Leader Status With Print Magazines or Newsletters

While many of the more traditional news magazines are transitioning to digital-only formats, the fact of the matter is, 80% of individuals who read newspapers read them in print. People actually trust written content more than they trust online content. This is true of both information and of advertising. So, depending on your industry, it may be a good idea to create a periodical print magazine or newsletter to give your customers or prospects informative and entertaining news and information that they will be excited to get each month, quarter or year.

Regardless of what type of print marketing you use, telling people a good story or giving them useful and entertaining information will make them loyal customers.

Emotion in Print Marketing: What it Means and How to Do It Properly

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In some ways, the most important goal of any piece of print marketing isn’t merely to act as an educational tool for your target audience. While conveying the message of what your product or service does and why they need it is integral to the success of your campaign, it is only one small part of a much larger goal. One of the major keys to success in advertising involves evoking an emotional response from people, which is something that print marketing as a medium can do quite well – if you approach it from the right angle.

What Does “Emotion” In Print Marketing Actually Mean?

To boil it down to its essentials, invoking an emotional response from a person who views a print marketing material means that you’ve gotten them to think more than just “I understand what this product does” at the end of a piece. You don’t necessarily want to leave a person with the idea of “This particular product will help solve my problem” per say – you want to leave them with a sense of “Not only will this product help solve my problem, but it will also make me happier at the same time.” You want them to long for the emotion every bit as much as they do for the product, which is where the real success of this technique rests.

Nostalgia is the Key to the Emotional Response

One of the single best ways to inject emotion into your print marketing is through good, old-fashioned nostalgia. Even if your message is framed in a way as simple of “Things used to be great, but now you have a problem. With X product or service, they can be great again,” you’re going a long way towards tying your particular product or service to emotional past experiences that the customer has had. This lets them both acknowledge that they long for the days where things were much simpler and gets them to realize that with what you’re offering, they may just get there again.

In the AMC television show “Mad Men,” set against the backdrop of the 1950s print advertising industry, Don Draper at one point early on creates an astounding pitch for the Carousel from Kodak. For those unfamiliar, the Carousel was a slide projector that made it easier than ever to enjoy all of the wonderful photographs that you’ve taken over the years on a much larger scale than ever before.

Don didn’t just zero in on this functionality, however – in an impassioned speech to the Kodak board, he talked about how the Carousel was much more than just a slide projector – it was a time machine. It was a doorway into the past, allowing someone to relieve those wonderful Christmas mornings when their kids were still small, or that family trip that they took to the Grand Canyon that they’re still thinking about – all in the type of stunning detail that customers wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.

What made Don’s pitch so successful is that he tied the product to a noble emotional response – something that people are actively looking for in what they consume, be it their favorite movie or the products they buy and everything in between.

It is inside that emotional response where most of your success in print marketing will reside. If you can tie a positive (and hopefully intense) emotional response to your product or service through marketing, you’ll create a loyal army of customers who can’t wait to buy what you’re selling because what you have to offer is so much more powerful than any one product or service: you’re offering them their own emotions.

The Millennials: How to Use Print to Capture the Attention of the Technology-Driven Generation

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Officially, a person is a millennial if they reached young adulthood sometime around the year 2000. Also commonly referred to as Generation Y, these are people who are just now becoming the age where they matter most — at least as far as marketing demographics are concerned. They’re starting to break out on their own, live their own lives, and spend a great deal of money. Historically, they’ve also been the most difficult to market to for one simple reason: technology.

Chances are, if you happen to see a young person who can’t be bothered to look up from their smartphone or tablet for a single second to take a look at the world around them, you’re looking at a millennial — or at least a stereotypical one. In reality, it’s actually pretty straightforward to market to millennials, as long as you go about it in the right way.

Be Relevant

By far, the absolute best way to market to millennials is the same way you market to anyone — by being as relevant as possible. Go out of your way to understand Generation Y. Discover how they think and — more importantly — what they’re looking for. You can try all the flashy gimmicks you want or sink a huge amount of time and effort into social networking and similar bits of technology in an attempt to gain a foothold in this ever-important market, but none of it will mean a thing if your message is completely irrelevant to the people you’re after.

It’s Print’s Time to Thrive

Print marketing is actually one of the most powerful techniques you can use to attract the attention of the millennial generation for a very simple reason: it’s difficult to ignore. Whereas baby boomers have decades of experience sifting through direct mail and advertisements in general, it’s still something unique to the younger generation. This makes it more impactful, giving you a competitive advantage over those who forgo this route.

You can also make your print and digital campaigns work together. Use a QR code on your direct mailers, for example, to give millennials the opportunity to begin the conversation in print and finish it online where they feel most comfortable.

Personality Talks

Each new generation tends to be a little more informal than the one before it, but not necessarily in the way you might think. What this trend really means is that each new generation embraces a true sense of personality more than the one before it. Millennials are after a sense of fun and a company that represents a hipper image that they want to be part of. While injecting as much personality as possible into your mailers might not work for that 50-year-old housewife, it will absolutely capture the attention of a millennial.

With each passing year, the millennial generation becomes more and more important. They’re already poised to overtake the baby boomer generation in spending, sooner rather than later. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. By going after the millennial generation now, you’ll begin to amass an army of loyal followers ready to spend money on your products or services for decades to come.