What the Success of Snapchat Means for Marketers

 

Snapchat

Content is king. It’s a phrase so overused that you may have nixed it from your digital marketing vocabulary completely. With hundreds of social media platforms sharing content at breakneck speed all over the world, how small business marketers continue to evolve and stand head and shoulders above all the chatter? The answer is content, but not just any content. Consumers are savvier, smarter and have higher expectations than ever. The content that will get you a gold crown has to be relentlessly consistent and inherently personal. If you have any doubt, look at how Snapchat has changed the face of social media with over 100 million active users and 7 billion daily video views.

Behind the Scenes Is Where It’s At

Brand consistency gets a lot of hype, and for good reason. Your audience has to feel like they can rely on the brand they love and trust. But in a fast food, first-come first-served, fight-for-your-right-to-party kind of world, consumers are now looking for more than a Coke and a smile. They want to see a brand evolve. They want to see behind the scenes. In fact, they expect it.

Snapchat is used by the masses, but it’s also used by the White House, professional sports teams, Amazon and CNN, all showing a more informal, humor-driven side. This adds dimension and relatability, which engages audiences on another level. Unlike the beautiful and professional images of Instagram and the carefully curated Facebook content planned out in advance on Hootsuite, Snapchat is instant, impermanent and truly of the moment. It’s also proof that consumers are interested in unpolished, real-life appeals.

Make It Easy and Make It Personal

Snapchat is the first social media platform to give users their own QR code as an inherent part of the user profile. While many businesses have used QR codes to drive traffic to a social media platform, website or microsite, Snapchat puts the focus on the user by giving them a code they can use to gain followers and connect with new friends. Both Elle Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar have changed their Twitter profile pictures to their Snapchat QR codes. All their followers have to do to follow them on Snap is take a screenshot of their profile picture, open Snapchat, go to add friends, tap add by Snapcode and select the screenshot. Easy, fast and no typing required.

Always Be Pushing Content

If there’s one thing to take away from the Snapchat revolution is that it’s OK to get real with your target audience. The fact of the matter is that perfectly polished content takes time and money, both of which are going into the pockets of your competitors while you’re perfecting every Instagram post and analyzing all 140 Twitter characters.

Get a cellphone with an impressive camera, like the HTC One M9, so you’re always ready to capture the moment. Get a cheap, phone-friendly tripod or camera stabilization equipment made specifically for shooting video on your cellphone for less than $30. Just don’t forget that it doesn’t have to be perfect, edited or directly related to your product to hit home with your audience. Just give them a warm and fuzzy feeling when they think about your brand.

We understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

 

 

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. 
Contact us at ImageSmith.com or call us at 828-684-4512 for quotes on all your print and marketing projects.
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5 Bright Ideas to Inspire Your Creativity

 

Scientist in lab with paper airplanes

Creative thinking is a valuable skill in any line of work. Inevitably we all have days where that creative spirit seems to be missing, or we fall into work habits that ignore the benefits and fun we experience in exploring our creative thoughts. Here are five ideas to boost and foster creative thinking and problem-solving.

Play More

Navy pilot with paper airplanePlay isn’t just for kids. According to The Leadership Guy, Peter Economy, writing for Inc., creative people revisit their inner child on daily basis, finding opportunities to play both at home and at work. A variety of research studies have shown that play has a large impact on the way we think and work creatively. One body of research dates back to 1967. In this study participants were given the task to imagine multiple uses for one object. Results showed that the participants were more likely to come up with more ideas if they were first allowed to tinker or play with the object first. For graphic designers, the process of doodling - playing around freely with ideas -  often frees the mind to wander and begin exploring the options that form the basis of a great design. If you’re looking to spark creativity, take some time to play first. And if you want to keep the creative juices flowing, you must promote and accept play as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Daydream

Clouds in a blue skyTake time from your day to let your mind wander. This act can significantly impact your creative thinking. According to Inc., research shows daydreaming can bring out the best in our creative selves, as it stimulates connections in our brains and allows us to consider ideas we may not have initially considered. Additionally, allowing your mind to wander enhances your ability to problem solve, reports Psychology Today. A study from 2009 out of the University of British Columbia found that daydreaming can help solve problems. Creativity itself is often defined as, at its core, a process of solving problems. Taking the time to relax and let your mind wander is a healthy habit, but far too often is characterized as an impediment to production. On the contrary, it can restore and re-energize.

Travel Often

Suitcase with worldwide travel stickersExperts say that if you want a more creative brain, the answer can be found in traveling more often. Experiencing the world can open the mind to new ways of thinking, reports The Atlantic. Both psychologists and neuroscientists believe that traveling can affect a mental change, changing and revitalizing the way our brains are wired, opening up our minds and allowing us to think creatively. All of this comes from sights, sounds, even smells of the places we travel, which spark different synapses in our brains. Whether you take up residence in Washington D.C. or travel across the globe, you’re likely to come back more creative than ever before.

Take up a Hobby

Painting on a canvasWhile work is important, it’s equally important to have a hobby or activity that you’re fond of outside of the office. Whether you prefer painting on canvas, posting a blog or cooking in the kitchen, having a way to express your creative side through a hobby or side project can impact your everyday creativity. Fast Company reports that having a hobby can make us better at many aspects of our lives. Still skeptical? When Google began its 20 percent rule, which allowed employees to spend 20 percent of their time exploring creative side projects, they were surprised to see an 80 percent increase in both productivity and creativity at work.

Be a Risk Taker

pair of dice showing 7Being creative and taking risks go hand-in-hand, as most creative thinkers are big, big risk takers. To envision a product, bring the product to life and then put it out there for the world to see is quite risky. But the rewards are plentiful. Imagine, where would we be if nobody ever took a risk?

 

Also – be sure to regularly take time to check out the creativity of others. In every field, people are continually pushing the boundaries in unique ways. Admiring what others have created will often nurture your own creative spirit with new ideas and excitement.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeap.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Creativity, Design, Graphic Design, Psychology, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Print Housecleaning: Stirring Up the Digital Divide

 

Office cleaning

The turn of a new year is always time for some housecleaning here at ImageSmith. And, as usual, amid the dust, paperwork and clutter that accumulates in any production environment we always find a few surprising reminders of how quickly and drastically times have changed.

The print and marketing world found itself on the cutting edge of change very early in the desktop computer revolution of the 70s and 80s. As prepress and print digitized – altering the methods of how print had been produced for centuries – the ensuing communications revolution altered the very core processes of how businesses function and market themselves. The speed of that change, in hindsight, is truly astounding.

Zip Disks stored digital print jobsZip Disks: remember these? From the iOmega company in 1994, Zip disks were a removable, read and write storage device – the successor to the floppy and the short-lived Syquest disk – that held 100MB of data. Print jobs were still in the process of becoming all digital (no longer relying on physical photography, paste-up, or typesetting for plate-making), and the resulting were increasing rapidly as computer graphics software grew more sophisticated. Floppies were no longer big enough to hold even one job. You needed an external (or for a time, built in) Zip disk and drive. iOmega was proud to tout the drag-and-drop storage capability: “Share large files with co-workers, friends and clients” and “Consolidate 70 floppies onto a single Zip disk.” Before CDs, DVDs, zip drives and cloud storage, we gladly adopted the Zip disk as a storage device, and it was common for customers to bring in their work on a Zip disk. (Just remember, they wanted it back.) They also fit neatly into a CD holder.

Dynamic Graphics magazine and CDs, circa 2000Before online subscription services and Google searches could bring you almost any image or artwork imaginable, Dynamic Graphics brought art departments out of the days of clunky clip art to a more modern world of increasingly sophisticated digital graphics and stock photography. In the 90s, that process happened through the US mail – with a monthly CD of artwork, and a printed catalog/index that showed you what the CD contained. Without an online search function, how else were you going to find the right photo to use on your ad layout? Flip through the monthly magazines searching for your keyword – think manual, and time-consuming, Google search. The photo to the right is of the January 2000 cover from Dynamic Graphics publication Concepts & Designs. 2000 doesn’t seem that long ago but the dated layout and imagery in this cover design reveal how quickly styles and the times have changed.

Finally, we found our company Christmas card from 1996. No digital version existed – it was tossed out in the great floppy disk purge of a few years ago or possibly during this year’s Zip disk purge. But one lonely print copy remained. Santa at his Mac (the Power Macintosh 8500) is checking our old America Online email address under the heading “High Tech Solutions.”  For the inside of the card, we used PhotoShop (version 4.0 had just come out) to impose our Christmas card message onto Asheville illustrator and artist Orrin Lundgren’s original elves-on-the-press artwork – a very high-tech maneuver for us at the time.ImageSmith christmas card, circa 1996

Can’t help but wonder how quickly and how far out of date our email, mobile app and online communications will appear after the next fifteen years. Back to housecleaning.

 

Here’s a link to some helpful tips on how to properly dispose of old computer equipment and other e-waste from the National Resources Defense Council. If you live in our local Asheville area, here is a link to Asheville Greenworks schedule for Hard-to-Recycle events in 2016.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
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Print Surprise: Optical Illusions at the Press

 

 

Optical illusions – where the perceived reality of a viewed object is different than the actual physical attributes being viewed – are interesting phenomena. Occasionally an unintended illusion will pop up in the print work here at our shop, and it usually takes a little convincing to prove to our press operators and art department that the problem is in the viewing…not a mistake in the print files or print process itself.

Gradients Can Trick the Eye

Optical illusion on press sheets

Above is the press sheet layout for a 4-up printed card which will later be cut out and folded in half. However, coming off the press, the 4-up sheets appear like the left side is darker than the right, especially on the outer side of the card. (In person, the effect was even more dramatic than it shows up here onscreen as it was printing on a metallic paper.) We were stumped at first as to what could cause this – the pdf file was preflighted, all the images were rendering correctly. We wondered about a problem with the press, the imagesetter, the layers within the pdf file. Finally, it took cutting a finished sheet apart by the crop marks to see that once separated, the gradients looked fine. Placed next to each other, the light to dark gradient tricked the eye into thinking one side of the press sheet was darker.

Gradient optical illusion

 

 

 

Repeating Patterns and Distortion

repeating pattern optical illusion

The 2-up sheets printed above have a decorative border with a repeating pattern that flows in one direction to the halfway point and then reverses its orientation for the second half on all four sides. If you let your eye wander slowly along the borders, especially the longer vertical sides, it appears that the borders are bent and not a perfect square shape overall. The eagle eyes of our press operator noticed the subtle “bend” in the lines and decided that either the file or the imaging plate itself was somehow warped. Placing a ruler or straight edge on the press sheet reveals that, despite what your eyes are telling you, the line is perfectly straight across all four sides of the paper.

Optical illusion of a square decorative border

You can read more about optical illusions and view galleries of them at a surprisingly great number of websites as many people find the tricks our eyes can play on us to be a fascinating topic.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Design, Graphic Design, Paper, Prepress, Print, Psychology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Making the Most of Your First Trade Show: 5 Essential Tips for Success

Trade Show Image

 

One out of every two trade show attendees is planning to buy at least one product exhibited as a result of attending trade shows, according to Exhibit Surveys. Attending a trade show can connect you with eager buyers, give your business a boost and turn your product into a household name. But finding the right trade show and earning success takes careful planning and a winning strategy.

Find the right trade show

Going to the trade show as an attendee is the fastest and most insightful way to figure out if the show is right for you. It’s not enough to simply book a trade show and arrive with your booth and supplies in hand. The ultimate goal is to raise brand awareness and nail the sale, but not every trade show is created equal. Showing up with a complex, high-end kitchen gadget to a trade show exhibiting economical and simple dinner tools will only lead to failure and make you stick out like a sore thumb.

Use an online resource like Trade Show News Network to narrow down your trade show options. Look for your target audience, as well as the cost of the show. Forking over several thousand dollars for a deposit for a trade show that just doesn’t fit your product or goals is a waste of everyone’s time and your money. A trade show also can’t give you much return if you’re going into the red to pay for the event. Set aside some extra money in advance to pay for marketing your booth and travel expenses.

Take networking to a new level

It’s a no-brainer to talk to as many people as possible at your trade show and carry extra business cards with you at all times. But there are other ways to network than just chatting up a prospective buyer. Take advantage of a captive audience and use this as an opportunity to meet as many new people as you can. Follow the lead of o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber, who attended the MedTech World’s Medical Device & Manufacturing West Expo earlier this year. They sourced an entire list of exhibitors before heading to the show’s host city in Anaheim to see who was coming and what ideas to share, as well as downloaded the trade show’s app to keep up to date with news and events from the show.

Apple Rubber also took advantage of the first annual Anaheim Booth Crawl for attendees, which served as a great opportunity to meet exhibitors while enjoying free food and drink. The event gave attendees an excuse to mingle longer without skipping out to eat and helped break the ice.

Trade show pop up booths and equipmdent

Make the Right Visual Impact for Your Brand

Trade show booths, graphics, displays and materials have never been more affordable or easier to brand with your logo, colors, and message. Talk to your printer about the huge array of designs and styles in easy to carry or ship, set up and reuse trade show booths and hardware. From pop-up display systems and retractable banners to table cloths, signage, printwear for employees, collateral handouts and promotional items, make your booth stand out from the crowd with you own unified look.

Devour constructive criticism

Learning how to embrace constructive criticism as a means to refine your product is essential for any trade show attendee, but especially for a first timer. Retail buyers and sales reps know what sells and why. This feedback can provide valuable insight about your product you won’t get anywhere else. A good trade show will draw in hundreds or thousands of experienced industry insiders. Rebuking their advice is a missed opportunity to devour high-level feedback and compile more market research data.

Nail your pitch

Master your elevator pitch. Highlight your product’s benefits, features and a short and sweet explanation of how it works. But to really stand-out from the crowd, you need to wow the attendees with what your product can do to solve their problem.

AquaPodKit experienced this first hand at a recent trade show. Entrepreneur reports that AquaPodKit saw their booth failing to attract attention at a hurricane preparedness trade show, so they went to buy a bathtub at Home Depot, put their product in it and filled it with water to show how much it could really hold for a family of four. Soon attendees were lined up to get a closer look at exactly what AquaPodKit could do.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Integrated Marketing, Paper, Print, Promotional Products, Signs, Small Business, Trade Shows | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Making Print Social: Interactive Media and Integrated Marketing

 

info graphics and interactive media

Infographics have become wildly popular both online and in print. Graphic designers create visually inventive ways to convey otherwise confusing, unclear or tedious information that work well in print layouts and also draw readers online. The graphic-as-step-by-step-explanation trend is almost cliché – so much that The Atlantic was able to explore the trend with its article “The Rise of ‘In One Chart’ In One Chart.”

This doesn’t mean you should run away from infographics, though. They rose to ubiquity because they work: people enjoy them and they help explain complex topics quickly and succinctly. But infographics are inherently a one-way street. The designer and client are communicating with their audience, but the audience cannot talk back. This is why interactive media is a great new frontier for marketing. Users often spend more time with interactive media and they remember its message better afterwords. The following are some great examples of ways to take advantage of interactive media within any marketing campaign:

Quizzes

Dish Network has a Netflix quiz that is close to its television-addicted audience’s heart. With a series of questions, it helps determine what type of Netflix binger you are. Test takers answer some of the questions with responses like “I occasionally skip work to finish a season” or “I lost track of days somewhere between starting “Breaking Bad” and finishing “Mad Men.” Similarly, SnapApp created a quiz entitled “DDI: Common Leadership Styles,” and has reported great results with this as well as with many other quizzes it has put together.

This type of content is fun for users, it encourages them to stay on the website for an extended period of time and it prompts them to share the results with their friends on various social platforms. THIS IS GOLD. Quizzes are good investments to get users interested in looking at your content and promoting it for you – for free.

Contests

New York’s premier hip hop radio station, Hot 97, has remade itself for the digital era. One recent advancement is a contest to find up-and-coming artists called “Who’s Next.” For this contest, the station identifies local amateurs with potential, and each person or band creates a profile page to upload his or her songs to attract positive votes from listeners. A community has developed around the contest, and now the station has a small army of loyal fans who come to the site regularly to check for new music, watch videos and read the bios of those who hope to be the next big star.

Running contests encourages followers to check your site regularly, which gives you the opportunity to promote your product or services to them.

Visual Storytelling

One of the most beautiful examples of compelling visual storytelling comes from the New York Times. It’s story, “Snow Fall” tells the tale of a skier trapped in an avalanche on the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. From maps and video interviews to incredible photos and informative animations, this story has it all.

Although most companies don’t have anything this poignant to tell, the process helps turn all kinds of stories into captivating content. For example, McDonald’s put together an interactive site for user-generated “100 McDonald’s Moments.” This is designed to “remind people why they love the McDonald’s brand experience and core products,” explains Razorfish. The idea proved to be a success since the collection grew from 20 moments to 100 over a month of marketing. Razorfish also notes that the average visitor spent more than seven minutes on the website.

Stories enable visitors to spend more time on your site and engage with the content. Find or create a story that relates to your target market, and encourage visitors to look around for more interactive content.

 

Of course, all of this is part of the strategy of integrated marketing – using all the avenues of connection between you and the public in concert to boost the power of your marketing. Print, website, social media, face to face – it just makes sense to coordinate across all these interactions for greater results. For example, here’s a quick link to a story about how Traveler Beer uses social media to drive interest in their new Shandy drinks. Or this link about how Coca-Cola has generated huge buzz with their VDP marketing of personalized drink bottles.

We can all learn some creative ideas from how the big players use integrated marketing to create powerful returns. But the benefits are in no way limited to huge budgets or huge corporations. Even the smaller companies can coordinate their social media, blog and website with their print and direct mail to generate greater results in their marketing. In short, any content that makes your marketing “social” will be more successful for you and more engaging for the people you reach.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Branding, Graphic Design, Integrated Marketing, Print, Promotional Products, Promotions, Social Media, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment