Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Are You the Best Leader You Can Be? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Are you a new manager? Or an old pro? Or somewhere in between? It really doesn’t matter because there’s always room for sharpening your edge as a leader.


Here are ten things you should ask yourself to determine if your leadership needs to be honed.


10 Leadership Questions to Ask Yourself


1. Do I treat my employees like friends or employees?


When it comes to employees, you may have once been a part of their team, but as a manager, you are a part of the management team.


This means you should not treat your employees as friends in an informal way. You can have fun with them, but maintain your leadership role and keep things professional.


2. Do I use situational leadership?


There is no cookie-cutter answer for dealing with people.


Employees need to be handled individually. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses, and your leadership should involve a tailor-made interaction with each of them. You will need to coach some people in one area, and other people may be strong in that area, and vice versa.


3. How well do I know my employees?


Do you know how many children your employees have? Do you know what their career goals are? Do you know what they do for fun?


Getting to know them on a personal level will make all the difference. Make sure you do this for all employees, so that there’s no favoritism. Take time to truly know them as people because it will build loyalty and trust.


4. Am I an active listener?


When employees come to you with a problem, whether it’s work-related or personal, do you truly listen? Or do you try to give advice without hearing the whole story?


Practice actively listening to your employees. This could be the most important attribute of a great leader.


5. Do I focus on the big picture?


Sometimes it’s hard for a leader, or manager, to step back from the daily tasks at hand.


Rather than trying to do a job for your employees, focus on their improvements and overall accomplishments. Sometimes the details of how a job gets done are not as important as the fact that it gets done. Your employees may have a different way of accomplishing a task that is even better than the original way they were taught.


6. Do I deal with problems right away?


Even if the former boss was used to ignoring issues in hopes they would disappear, your job as an effective leader requires you to deal with issues as they come up.


If there are performance issues, you need to address them with that employee and work on steps to improve.


7. Do I ask employees for their opinions?


Sometimes the best way to help an employee is to encourage them to take ownership of a situation.


If they constantly come to you with issues, ask them, “What do you think?” This is a great tool for an effective leader. Get the employees to think for themselves and provide solutions. Then, empower them to make some changes if it’s appropriate.


8. Do I spend time with other leaders?


As a manager, you will benefit from spending time with other managers.


These relationships are just as important as managing your employees. Take time to meet with other managers, whether in your building or a business network situation. Build friendships, and ask for advice. Give advice as well, if it’s requested.


9. Am I available?


Do I hide in my office, or am I accessible?


Be visible to employees, so they know you are around to help should they need it. It also allows employees to feel like they are a part of something larger and are important, and it builds morale.


10. Do I schedule individual meetings as well as group meetings?


We all have a busy schedule filled with things that need to get done right away.


But don’t forget that meeting with individuals is just as important as holding group meetings. Employees need to know how to improve, and they need to know what you expect of them. Meet one-on-one with them on a monthly basis if possible, or at least on a regular schedule, so they have a deadline to use as a guide for improvement.


No matter if you manage like a well-oiled machine or you need to tweak a few things, remember that no one is perfect. There’s always room for improvement. Being a good leader takes practice and is hard work.


A Better Leader


And being a leader in the business world takes practice and teamwork too.


That’s why our printing firm is ready to answer your questions on how to make sure you stand out as a leader in the sea of businesses in town. We offer graphic design and high-quality printing that will help you lead the way to success. Call or stop in today. We’re here to help.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Business Writing Made Easy

When it comes to business writing overall, how do you measure up?  


Overall, businesses spend $3.1 billion on remedial writing training for their employees annually. We’re not offering a class, but we have compiled a list of professional writing tips to aid you in your business communication.


Even if English wasn’t your favorite subject in school, using these tips will make you look like a pro.


Writing Like a Pro with These Tips


Know your audience.


Think about who you are writing to.


Is it a customer? A potential customer? A coworker? Your boss? There are different ways to communicate with all of these people. Keep the audience in the forefront of your mind when you start your composition.


Think about your tone.


Think about how formal you want to appear.


Do you want to sound like a corporate store or a friend? Do you want to be lighthearted or more serious? Think about this as you write; then, keep your tone consistent.


Watch your punctuation and grammar.


Some people in your audience care a lot about grammar and punctuation.


If you make a lot of mistakes, it will cost you your professionalism, causing your audience not to trust you. Use spellcheck for sure, even if you won all the spelling bees in school. Sometimes when we write quickly, we make tiny mistakes.


If you’re not sure about grammar, there are programs that will help you with this, too. If you are lucky enough to have a trusted coworker who is good at writing, have them look it over for you. They might find something you missed. 


Focus on your point.


Many people ramble on about things that are not pertinent to their goal in writing.


Think about if you want to sell something, tell your customers about a new technology you have, or promote a particular service. Then, focus on that. Review your writing when you are done so that you can edit out unnecessary information that doesn’t directly relate to your point.


Don’t use jargon or buzzwords.


Your audience may not be familiar with jargon or buzzwords.


Make sure you use clear language that anyone can understand. Don’t assume they understand what you are saying. Make it clear, and leave nothing to chance.


Be organized.


If it helps, outline your business writing before sitting down with pen and paper (or finger and computer).


If you can organize your thoughts in an outline, you will be more effective in your composition. Then be sure to stick to your outline by referring to it constantly.


Watch your font usage.


You may think it’s fun to experiment with fonts, and it can be.


But when you are writing a business letter or advertising copy, make sure not to use too many different fonts. Stick with one or two.


Be concise.


Some people think that by adding a lot of words to their writing, it makes them appear more educated.


Actually, the contrary is true. A good writer can edit their copy so that it’s concise and to the point. This will help your audience remember what your point is.


Wait a day to proofread if possible.


If you can, give yourself a day to proofread. By waiting a day, you will catch more mistakes.


Research the competition.


If you are writing advertising copy, or a letter to promote an event or product at your business, be sure to research what the competition is offering.


You shouldn’t mention the competition, but keep it in mind so that your offer stands out. Be sure you have a better offer or are offering something totally different that will be even more appealing to your audience.


Perfecting Your Writing


No matter how much you write, these are great tips to refer to when writing business correspondence.


Even expert writers need to be reminded of these simple steps from time to time. Since it’s easy to ramble on, we all need a reminder to edit ourselves. Not only will these tips help you improve your writing, but they will position you as a leader in your field.


At our printing firm, we want to help you be number one. That’s why we offer professional layout and design services with high-quality paper to help you finish off your perfect marketing materials. Call us today or stop in to see how we can help.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Boost Your Productivity in 10 Steps

Employees lose an average of 581 hours a year to distractions, such as cell phones, emails, and other social media, to name a few.


This is over 14 weeks, per person, spent not actually working. You might be wondering if there is anything you can do to become more focused. We’ve compiled a list of 10 steps you can take to ensure you’re working smarter, not harder.


10 Steps to Boost Your Productivity


1. Limit how often you check your email. 


According to The Economist Intelligence Unit report In Search of Lost Focus, 70% of critical-thinking employees disrupt their own progress in order to check email at least once an hour.


And 18% check their email every few minutes.


Try to use email as a reward for accomplishing a large task. Set a time limit so that you don’t get caught up in social media. Then, go ahead and turn it off until your task is done.  


2. Get up and move around. 


Getting a little exercise is shown to improve concentration.


So, get up and make a cup of coffee or get a glass of water. However, use this as a break after you’ve finished a task. 


3. Quit multi-tasking.


Research shows that productivity can be reduced by as much as 40% by the mental blocks created when people switch tasks.


Try to finish one task before starting something else, which can take discipline.


4. Make a to-do list at night. 


Not only will this will help you relax and be able to sleep better, but it will help you get right to work in the morning without having to figure out where to start the day.


A word of caution, though, is to make sure your list isn’t overwhelming. Make sure it’s attainable. Cross off items on your list that are repetitive and don’t need to be done tomorrow.


5. Delegate tasks to capable people. 


If you micromanage, you will waste more of your valuable time because you will be watching over the other person’s shoulder.


However, if you truly delegate, you will free up your time. Pick someone you trust, then let them handle the task.


6.  Plan your phone calls.


Even if you don’t have a secretary to hold your calls, you do have the ability to turn off your ringer.


Set aside a certain time each day in which you will make your phone calls. It’s okay to use voice mail as long as you return those calls later during your scheduled time.


7. Get enough sleep at night. 


It may sound crazy, but 70% of Americans admitted to sleeping on the job in a survey done by William A. Anthony, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and director of Boston University’s Center for Psychological Rehabilitation.


It should go without saying, but make sure you get enough sleep at night to be more productive during the day. Set a schedule for bedtime and stick to it, then your body will get used to it.


A lack of sleep decreases your concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity, and logical reasoning. Shoot for seven to nine hours of sleep per night for ages 27 to 64, according to the National Sleep Foundation.


8. Decorate your office area with aesthetically pleasing elements. 


Grab some plants, candles, pictures, and anything else that puts you at ease.


By doing this, it can increase productivity by up to 15 %. It will help put you in a positive mood, which helps boost productivity.


9. Minimize interruptions as much as possible. 


It may seem trivial, but when coworkers pop their heads into your office to chat, it takes away from your productivity.


Keep your office door shut when you are working on an important project. If that’s not an option, choose to work at home until you are finished.


10. Set a timer. 


Research says that only around 17% of people can accurately estimate the passage of time.


With this said, you should set a timer for about 25 minutes up to 90 minutes maximum, with a 5-minute break afterward. This should help keep you on track and be more productive.


Saving Time Matters


Saving time is important when it comes to business.


And we want to see you succeed. That’s why we offer so many services to take projects off your plate. Our professional staff understands that your time is precious, and we make it easy to get your printing done right the first time. Call us today so we can help boost your productivity. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Key Components of a Good Brand Strategy

Developing a strong brand isn’t as easy as others think.


It’s no secret that consumers purchase based on trust, but how can businesses develop that trust if no one knows who you are? That’s the power of a brand strategy. If you don’t have a strategy in place, it’s like driving on the road with no destination.


The ultimate goal should be getting customers to connect with you, not your logo, not the website, and not the name (even if it’s catchy). A good brand strategy works behind the scenes, providing value that continues after they buy.


Key Components of a Good Brand Strategy


Purpose


What is the promise to the customer? Why are we in business? Why is it important to us?


These are the driving factors that set businesses apart. Thinking of it in terms of monetary and also non-monetary makes the difference.


Emotion


While it may sound weird, it’s true.


Customers are emotional about the brands they support because those brands can fully engage with like-minded audiences who believe in their purpose.


When brands connect beyond trying to sell a product or service, they win.


Consistency


Staying consistent when promoting the brand is vital in getting the audience to remember you.


It doesn’t matter what platform the brand is on; consistency creates harmony, and harmony creates trust.


Adaptability


Brands must be flexible and adaptable to succeed.


There’s power in the pivot. When something isn’t working, being able to quickly adjust and adapt while maintaining consistency can help solidify a brand’s place in the market and create a new customer base.


Involvement From Employees


Brands that take the time to listen to their employees and work in one accord in how the brand is presented go a long way.


If the brand is upbeat, customer service and every employee in the office should follow suit. Again, consistency, consistency, consistency.


Loyalty


When customers are loyal to your brand, you should be just as loyal.


Take the time to create incentives for them to come back. Whether it’s a coupon off or something more elaborate, your appreciation helps those people appreciate you too! A little thanks goes a long way.


Awareness of the Competition


It should go without saying, but sometimes this mindset needs to be reinforced.


You should be learning from the competition. Your goal – offer a better experience in every way.


These are the best ways to create a brand strategy that has longevity and goals you can achieve from the beginning while refining along the way. This is a functional, working part of your marketing strategy that helps you communicate better while attracting and retaining customers.


Every business goes through growing pains, but not having a brand strategy can seriously hurt your chances of making your mark on the industry. With so many ways to connect with different types of customers, the best thing you can do is give yourself a competitive advantage. Your brand strategy can help with that.


So, do you have a brand strategy in place, and is it working?

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

How-To Tips for Pain-Free Print Ordering

When you're ready to bring your creative ideas to life in print, these tips will ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. 


Always Include High-Resolution Images


If you have specific images you want to be included in your print marketing, you need to use high-quality photos. If the images are not clear enough, they will not turn out well when printing. A few tips to keep in mind include:


  • Stay away from random images you find on the internet, as these usually do not show up clearly on the final print.

  • Use JPEG or TIFF files for your prints because these are easy and familiar file formats for the professional service.

  • Take advantage of preflight tools that can help you catch issues with your images before you submit them.

If you use high-resolution images, you place your order in the best position possible to be successful. 


Do Not Drag Logos Off of Your Website


If you are ordering branded content, you need to think carefully about where your logo comes from.


Ideally, you should use a high-resolution image or a preferable vector version of your logo. When you submit this image, try to avoid scanning your letterhead. Do not drag the logo off of your email signature or your website. Otherwise, this is not going to produce a high-quality image.


If you have questions about how to include the correct vector version of your logo, reach out to us ahead of time. 


Make Sure the Files Have Been Packaged in an Organized Way


When submitting a folder full of files to be printed, make sure they are organized clearly.


Go through the folder ahead of time, making sure you remove any old versions that should not be printed. If you include multiple versions of the same file, it will be more challenging to determine which one you want to use. 


If you have specialty fonts you want to be included, make sure you specify them. Ideally, the files you submit should already contain the fonts you want to use. This will ensure you are happy with the finished product. 


Ask Questions


When it comes to ordering professional print products, there is no such thing as a stupid question.


You need to know what you are ordering. If something is not clear to you, or if you do not understand specific jargon, make sure to ask. That way, you are not blindsided by the final product. If you think we need to know something before we start your order, make us aware. We want you to be delighted with the result.


Ready to get started? Give us a call today!

Friday, October 1, 2021

How to Conduct a Competitive Analysis

Whether you’re starting a business, you’ve been around for 100+ years, or you’re somewhere in between, it’s important to conduct a competitive analysis.


A competitive analysis allows you to see gaps within the market that you can take advantage of. You can find ways to improve your business, create a better marketing strategy, and ultimately produce a stronger business.


Although time-consuming, breaking down the process into steps will make it more manageable. 


Tips to Help You Analyze the Competition


Find Businesses


Find businesses similar to your own.


These competitors will help you learn valuable information. When scoping out the competition, try using such tools as web searches, social media, and websites specifically geared to help answer your questions about other businesses. 


When looking for competitors, keep in mind that they can be divided into two categories: direct and indirect.


  • Direct competitors sell the same products as you to a similar customer base.

  • Indirect competitors sell similar products to a different customer sector.

Research the Business 


Now, it’s time to collect data on the businesses you've found.


Look at their online presence. Is their website consumer-friendly? Do they have social media accounts? How often do they interact with their customers? Research how happy their customers are.


Look up online reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Google, and Instagram. Try reaching out to the customers who left negative reviews to learn more about their experience and direct them to your own business. Throughout this process, try to brainstorm ways your business could do better. 


Follow the SWOT framework 


SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.


This is an invaluable framework to keep in mind as you research businesses. SWOT is fairly straightforward:


  • Strengths are factors that set the business apart from others.

  • Weaknesses are areas the business falters in.

  • Opportunities are external factors that give the business a competitive advantage.

  • Threats are external factors that could potentially harm businesses.

Conduct a SWOT analysis on the businesses you are researching and your own. Then compare. Can you make their strengths your strengths? Can you benefit from their weaknesses? What external opportunities are available to you? Is there anything threatening other businesses that perhaps doesn’t affect you? 


Print Can Help You Beat the Competition


Print can be the tool your businesses can use to succeed.


Perhaps you’ve noticed that other businesses may not be utilizing print advertising. They are losing out on the advantages that print provides: enhanced customer respect, greater visibility, better customer attention and retention, and much more. You can turn their weakness into your strength to draw in a larger customer base. 


Create a Competitive Analysis Report


Simplify and organize your data into a competitive analysis report.


Your report should include your business’s target market, how your product(s) compared to your competitors, current and projected market share, sales, and revenues, pricing models comparison, marketing strategy and social media strategy analysis, and an overview of customer ratings.


Improve your business


You’ve acquired all the data; now it’s time to use it.


Your competitive analysis will have unsurfaced countless ways your business can improve and beat out the competition. Take action and create a better business! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Improve Your Business Through Atomic Habits

James Clear’s widely successful book Atomic Habits breaks down habits into four parts: the cue, craving, response, and reward.


This method shows readers how they can also form habits. Luckily, Clear’s formula can be applied to business.


4 Habits That Will Improve Your Business


The Cue


When developing a habit, Clear suggests making the cue as evident as possible.


A cue is an outside stimulus that reminds you of the habit you wish to form. Therefore, your goal is to make your business as obvious as possible.


With your advertising, you want your prospects and customers to see your ads and then associate them with the habit of buying from you.


To do this, make your ads big, bright, and hard to miss. Use large banners to capture attention with design that pops.


The Craving


After your customer has seen the cue, they then need to want your product or service.


Therefore make it as attractive as possible. Clear writes, “Every behavior is preceded by a prediction… every purchase is preceded by a prediction. The customer does not buy your product; they buy the prediction it creates in their mind.”


It’s your job to make that prediction as ideal as possible. Explain the benefits in a clear and compelling way. If possible, personalize the message to your client, sneak in some bandwagon advice (e.g., John Doe is doing/using it!), and use effective framing techniques.


The Response


“Great businesses remove every point of friction they can think of to make the desired behavior as easy as possible,” Clear says.


Break down the process into steps. Then try to eliminate or simplify the process. The easier it is to purchase from you, the more likely the customer is to do it.


The Reward


Make sure your customers feel instant happiness and success after their purchase. Your quality product and services should take care of the rest.


Interestingly, this reward is inversely related to the craving. If you make your product or service seem too good, then the customer’s expectations will not be met, and they will leave disappointed.


You may have secured one purchase, but another one is unlikely. If you make your product or service seem less attractive, then the customer’s expectations will be exceeded. That is if they even buy it. Finding the balance is key.


Your business will certainly improve if you use Clear’s formula. Simple, small changes can make big results!