Author: MrContent

Unbeatable Packaging Ideas for 2021

Want to sharpen your appearance in 2021?

Great packaging gets buyers pumped about your product before they even open it. It’s one of the first touchpoints of a prospect and helps you stand out from the competition.

Ready to go? Here are just a few creative (yet functional!) designs to consider this year.

Packaging with a Story

Consumers want more than a product.

They want to be part of a story. Studies have revealed that people are impacted by emotions rather than information when making brand decisions, so sharpen your narrative and weave compelling stories into your designs.

Consider the example of Paper Boat, a brand of traditional Indian beverages headquartered in Bengaluru. This brand seeks to evoke tradition and memory with a product that’s more than a beverage – but something with “nostalgia in every sip.”

In a sea of similar tetra pack cartons, Paper Boat packaging leaps off the shelf with its pear-shaped flexible pouch. The design evokes a bright, unconventional theme with bold, playful fonts. This heart-warming vibe is paired with a creative one-liner on the bottom of the pack, bringing a quirky personalization builds a strong connection with customers and keeps them coming back.

Name-Centric Labels

When you want your brand to stick, why not put the name front and center?

Instead of making an illustration or logo the packaging’s focal point, many designers choose to make a product’s name the star of their designs. These concepts have lots of fun with lettering, allowing the featured name to leave a confident, edgy impression.

Each name feels like an artwork, bringing a stand-alone sophistication that speaks for itself.

Beautiful Boxes

Today’s customers are starved for new experiences, and a clever unboxing experience can provide the fun factor people want.

‘Unboxing’ is just what it sounds like: the action of taking something out of a box. But it’s also much more than that. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be 1.6 million videos on YouTube devoted to it, with popular channels drawing in as many as 2.4 billion views. It might be odd-sounding, but it’s a fantastic niche that’s growing by 57% per year!

A stellar unboxing experience will boost your content marketing efforts, drive engagement, increase sales, and enhance customers’ opinions of your product. Need ideas? Check out companies like Birchbox or Thrive Market to inspire your next masterpiece.

Limited Edition or Collectible Series

If you want products to fly off the shelves, try packaging them as a gorgeous collection.

Good Flower Farm, which specializes in organic, plant-based skincare products, does this masterfully. Richly-colored earthy labels adorn each item, and combinations (in a design series) make a beautiful decoration for the bathroom, yoga studio, or vanity of your favorite tree-hugger. The deodorant set features jewel-toned packaging for lavender tea tree, pine cedarwood, or charcoal citrus. Why choose just one when you could have all three?

To stimulate impulse buying, change up your labels series each year. These quirky and attractive limited editions trigger spontaneous collectors and an urgency to buy.

They WILL Judge a Book by its Cover

As tempting as it is to think ourselves rational, logical individuals, the truth is that human beings make snap judgments when it comes to packaging.

If you want to increase the emotional attachments customers have with your business, start with pristine packaging. From a dash of color on your envelope to a gorgeous label on your containers, exterior branding can be part of any business budget.

Need some fresh ideas? Contact us today to get started!

Grow Your Influence with the 10 Most “Likeable” Personality Traits (Part 2)

Certain horrible habits drive others away.

If you want to win friends and influence people, it’s important to spend time evaluating your personality from time to time. Do others gravitate toward you or subtly slink away when you leave the room?

Influential leaders know how to gain respect and bring out the best in others.

Move in the Opposite Spirit: Traits 6-10

In last week’s blog, we shared five traits to avoid and how to replace them with better habits.

Here are several more from the “notorious” top ten, with five essential qualities to emulate instead:

6. Pessimistic

If people are always telling you to look on the bright side, it’s likely that you are the “Debbie Downer” in the room.

While it’s ok to be a realist, melancholy people are perceived as whiny, impossible to please, and a drain on everyone around them.

How can you fix this? Do your best to avoid talking about things that bum you out. When you’re tempted to complain, choose something upbeat or beautiful to focus on instead. If you have a headache or a car problem, consider asking someone else about their day instead of talking about yours.

Change the atmosphere, and you’ll change EVERYONE’S mood – and your reputation.

7. Arrogant

Arrogant people come across as prideful, rude, or long-winded in conversation.

If you find that you regularly turn conversations back to you – or you make yourself the hero of every story – you might be repelling those you’d like to attract.

To grow in humility, remember this phrase: “collectively, we are genius.” Don’t try to be the expert at all times. Encourage the value in people through active listening, empathy, and a friendly spirit. Admit your own mistakes and apologize. Affirm others when you’re tempted to make much of yourself.

8. Focused on External Factors

Many years ago, Dale Miller conducted a study that compared two groups of executives.

One group was identified as highly effective and ready for a promotion, while the second group was eventually deemed unready or unsuited for the role.

The difference? A willingness to accept responsibility for the results of a task or team.

Unaccountable people are seen as unreliable, quick to blame others, or as embodying a victim-based mentality. In contrast, leaders are seen as “get it done” people – those who are willing to reject passivity and accept responsibility.

To grow in personal responsibility, embrace the mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen.” Take ownership for a task, accept criticism for mistakes, and apologize for outcomes that fall short of the goal.

9. Impulsive

In the movies, it’s cool to be spontaneous.

In real life, it’s often a disaster. Impulsive team members can be reckless, imprudent, arrogant, and oblivious to the feelings of others. They are often wrong – but never in doubt!

The annoyance factor here comes after the fact – when your decisions have hurt the people you care about. To avoid this tendency, delay big decisions at least 24 hours. Ask wise colleagues to give input or play the devil’s advocate to help you see all sides of a situation. And brainstorm other possibilities without assuming your instincts are correct.

10. Unbearably Sensitive

Overly sensitive people seem to have low self-esteem; they come across as weak, emotionally needy, passive-aggressive, selfish, or fearful of confrontation.

Have you ever been with someone who sucked the air out of the room or made every situation about THEM? If you have, you know why people will run away screaming if you do this.

To avoid this pitfall, let things go, strive to believe the best about others, and smile when you’d rather cry. And express your true feelings only after considering the best place and method to do so.

Change Your Words, Change Your Outlook

Do you see yourself in any of the traits from this list?

The first step is recognizing it. From here, you can pay attention to bad habits and make productive changes for the future.

Grow Your Influence with the 10 Most “Likeable” Personality Traits (Part 1)

Annoying people are everywhere.

They are on your phone, in the cubicle next to you, and maybe . . . (just maybe) . . . they are in your family!

Whether they have bad breath and questionable hygiene or they obnoxiously overreact on social media, aggravating people are easy to dislike. Want to avoid being “that person” yourself?

It’s not as hard as you think.

Moving in the Opposite Spirit: Traits 1-5

To grow in likeability and self-awareness, first, you should know what to avoid. Certain personality types get under others’ skin more than any others.

Here are traits commonly listed as the most distasteful and five key qualities to emulate instead!

1. Overly Nice

While everyone loves nice people, someone who never stops smiling can be perceived as fake, insincere, or exasperatingly cheerful.

Instead, people gravitate toward authenticity – those less-than-perfect people who enjoy the weaknesses and foibles of others. To grow this quality, ask genuine questions, listen patiently, and share your own concerns and burdens from time to time.

2. Unpleasant

No one enjoys a grump, and sometimes task-oriented people come across as harsh, critical, stubborn, or just plain mean.

If this is you, work to smile and look people in the eye, say thank you more often, and affirm people for the things they’ve done right. When correction is needed, try prefacing it with a question, like: “Can I make a design suggestion?”

3. Impatient

Does your caffeine consumption make you irritable?

Fast-paced people may appear rude, demanding, or quick-tempered, making others nervous or unwilling to share. In contrast, patient leaders build stronger teams, increase productivity, and build a reputation of trustworthiness.

When you are tempted to be abrupt, you trend toward a “fight or flight” physiological response. But experts say you can slow yourself down by simply taking a few deep breaths:

“The relaxation response is controlled by another set of nerves — the main nerve being the Vagus nerve,” said physician Esther Sternberg. “Think of a car throttling down the highway at 120 miles an hour. That’s the stress response, and the Vagus nerve is the brake. When you are stressed, you have your foot on the gas, pedal to the floor. When you take slow, deep breaths, that is what is engaging the brake.”

4. Irresponsible

While carefree people can be fun, this spontaneity has limits.

Are you consistently late, lazy, messy, or unreliable? Grow the respect of others by keeping your commitments and being more dependable each day. Set alerts in your phone, answer emails promptly, and say NO more frequently. The most consistent way to keep your word is to avoid overextending yourself in the first place.

5. Passive

Are you naturally low-key?

While relaxed people are easy to be around, they can also come across as slow, indecisive, irresponsible, or unmotivated.

In contrast, people who own their feelings and aren’t afraid to communicate them will earn the respect and admiration of others. If you shy away from assertiveness, push yourself to speak simply and directly. Use I statements (like “I think” and “I feel”), take occasional risks, and to volunteer for projects before you are asked.

Ready to make this your most amicable year ever? Join us for Part 2 of this blog next week!

Brand Messages that Spark Sales: Why Authenticity is More Important Than Ever

As pandemic patience wanes, consumers are getting restless.

Many people are ready to get back to “real life,” to return to a routine, go on vacation, or be less conservative in their spending. This means this is a great season to kickstart a new marketing campaign!

Striking the right tone can be a challenge. Are you looking for relevance and timely messaging? In this sensitive cultural moment, it can be hard to say just the right thing. But bland clichés don’t sell products. Today, many brands are tempted to offer platitudes centered around themes of unity, healing, and getting along. Businesses are falling over themselves as they promise to be “here for you,” or remind us that, “in these uncertain times, we care about your needs.”

Skip the Platitudes

There is a better alternative, and it starts with authenticity.

Authentic marketing means the heart of your business connects directly and deeply to the core of your audience. It’s now time to stop hiding behind cheesy messages about how we’re “all in this together.” Instead, be bold and straightforward about matching the products you offer with the needs people have.

Today’s consumers can smell artificial ads a mile away, and it is a major turnoff. According to one survey, 84 percent of millennials stated that they don’t like advertising, and the increasingly fake tone of today’s campaigns certainly won’t help. When you want to inspire action, start with your own unique brand voice, and build messages that inspire action.

What might that look like? Rick Maynard, senior manager of public relations for Kentucky Fried Chicken, explains the authenticity of KFC’s brand voice like this:

“KFC’s social purpose is to celebrate ‘real.’ To us, being real means being honest, inclusive, boldly unapologetic, refreshingly to the point, insightful and occasionally, a little edgy. We steer clear of being artificial, judgmental, insecure, full of hot air, timid or gimmicky. We try to celebrate our real fans, engage in real talk and encourage real consumer-generated content. We prefer ‘man on the street’ images over staged food shots. That’s what being authentic means to our brand. And the great thing about being real is it’s also really easy. It’s much more difficult to try to be something you’re not.”

To avoid a hollow, insincere tone, be as conversational as possible. This may be friendly, direct or daring, but it dials down on what you have to offer and why someone should respond.

Activate Consumer Instincts

What will drive people’s instincts to spend, make purchases that they’ve put on hold, and resume more normal customer behavior patterns? And how can you trigger those instincts?

First, your advertising should validate consumers’ need for preservation. Reflect an understanding of their natural desire to feel safe – like a prevention focus.

A Prevention Focus frames marketing messages around the problems a product can avert. Prevention themes are excellent for identifying problems and advocating for safety, personal health, long-term solvency, crisis aversion, etc. 

Authentic advertising should also help edge consumers more toward the perseverance or benefit side – like a gain focus.

A Gain Focus frames marketing messages around the benefits a product can provide. Benefit/gain themes are essential for brands selling security, reliability, peace, and comfort.

Reboot Your Image

Most consumers believe that most brands are not creating authentic content that meets them where they are at.

If you want to restart your sales engine, focus on what marketing can do best: reach people’s innermost mental processes and trigger their instincts to buy. Use a genuine voice, connect with your customers’ benefit or prevention needs, and get straight to the point.

Print Perfection: Achieve Foolproof Production with this Pre-Printing Checklist

Have you ever rushed out the door and slipped on an icy sidewalk?

Or made a hasty decision in traffic that cost you loads of energy in the long run?

Accidents happen when we hurry, and that’s true in both life and work. In project management, sometimes people fail to allow adequate time for extra details or unexpected delays. As you draw close to a marketing deadline, errors are made, and important details are overlooked.

According to large-volume print production expert Allen Glazer, marketers should allocate 25-75% of a design project’s budget for printing costs. And if you don’t catch a mistake in prepress, it will be much more costly to fix down the line.

Do you want to be proud of your next print project while smoothly transitioning from design to print? Use this handy preflight checklist to help you eliminate chaos when a deadline is near.

Thoroughly Proof Your Piece

Scour your document for typographical, punctuation, margin, or grammatical errors.

Have one or two other people proof as well. Mistakes are easy to miss but embarrassing to everyone. To slow yourself down, trying reading your document out loud or read your text backward.

Include Correct File Formats and Crop Marks

It is crucial for you to send the correct file formats (like InDesign, PDFs, etc.) for your project.

This includes support files — such as original images, artwork, and fonts — in clearly labeled files. If you have to convert files, check for any corruption or formatting errors.

To maintain your design’s integrity, it is important to link all aspects (images, artwork, and fonts) into a high-resolution PDF. This includes crop marks for bleeds displaying the exact size of your trimmed and finished piece.

Use Correct Resolution

The resolution of image files needs to be higher for print: a jpeg file needs a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (Dots per inch).

If your file does not meet that standard, the quality will not be as sharp or distinct. Also, be sure to clean up distracting resizing or conversion artifacts and lighten any images that may require an ink density too high for the type of paper being used.

Use Consistent Page Layouts

Clean layouts communicate professionalism and make documents easier to read.

Proof your design (especially multi-page documents) to ensure margins are consistent on every page, including booklet covers or pages that feature charts or infographics.

Convert Image Formats to CMYK

RGB JPEG is the default image format for photographs from many cameras, cell phones, and mobile devices.

Screen images on TVs, computers, and cameras use red, green, and blue in varying percentages, but commercial printers typically separate artwork into four-color plates (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).

Most design software will allow you to convert or save a file in CMYK easily, or there are several free online file conversion tools available.

Provide a Printed Proof

A surefire way to ensure a quality product is to generate a poof and discuss it with your printer before the final printing.

It’s also important to discuss turnaround times so you can plan your milestones accordingly and allow for multiple print runs (if necessary).

Nervous? Don’t worry. With local printing, you get the benefit of a work-in-progress partnership. While it’s helpful to have a preflight checklist, the trained eye of a professional is even better! Our goal is to increase your productivity, reduce your stress, and save you time and money as your prep and proof your prints.

How to Double Your Sales with Successful Catalog Marketing

Do printed catalogs still work?

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) worked with a U.S. based specialty jewelry company to find out.

This e-commerce retailer (which had no physical store presence) typically generated an annual operating profit of $12 million, with a database of approximately 28,000 customers. This company partnered with HBR to study the impacts of bi-monthly print catalogs through field experiments involving 30% of its customers over a span of six months.

Of those customers, 5% received neither email nor catalogs, 55% received a weekly marketing email, and 40% received the new bi-monthly catalogs in addition to the weekly email marketing. Over 90% of photos and product descriptions were the same between emails and catalogs to control the content’s effects.

The results were impressive. Compared to the Control group, the “Email + catalog” group experienced a 49% lift in sales and a 125% lift in inquiries. In comparison, the “Email-only” group only had a 28% increase in sales and a 77% lift in inquiries over the control group; the sales and inquiry lifts from catalogs almost doubled those generated by email marketing!

Furthermore, of those customers that received the catalogs and made inquiries, 90% said they had browsed through the catalogs and kept them for an average of seven days.

Using Hard Copy Catalogs in Your Omnichannel Marketing

Catalogs are here to stay, and companies like L.L. Bean, Ikea, J. Crew, and Athleta continue to dominate sales by distributing printed catalogs.

The simple fact of the matter is that buyers don’t want to connect with brands exclusively online. Yes, the stats show that the number of people researching and shopping online versus in-store continues to grow.

But many buyers purchase online because they’ve seen something marketed through a printed medium. According to BRAND United, around 86% of shoppers buy an item online after looking at it in a printed catalog first.

5 Ways to Keep Your Campaign on Track

If you are considering catalog marketing, here are some suggestions to get you started.

1. Conduct Market Research

Study your current customers and make a note of gender, geographic location, and the strategic personas you’d like to target.

Match the items you want to sell with the target audience you want to reach.

2. Create Campaign Goals

These goals should be measurable, clear, and realistic – like driving customers to a retail location, increasing “product of the month” sales online, or growing your subscription base.

3. Develop Your Story

Catalogs don’t share information; they sell stories!

Your piece should invite prospects into a story that helps them visualize their “ideal self.” And remember, when people are heavily invested in a bigger financial commitment, they need narratives that justify this expense (like, “you deserve something delectable”). Work hard to set their conscience at ease, and you will be rewarded with loyalty and sales.

4. Stay Focused

Continue to send your catalog to existing customers to reinforce the idea that you have the products they want.

In addition, mail your catalog to individuals who fit the description of your target customer.

5. Connect Timelines and Expectations

Create a schedule and execute the campaign.

By using a schedule, you can see if you are achieving the benchmarks you’ve articulated. You can measure the outcome by having customers refer to catalog codes, measuring the number of new accounts generated, or conducting surveys.

A One-Two Punch

Direct mail meets customers where they live, and catalogs are a long-standing customer favorite.

Want to explore catalog marketing options for your business? Give us a call today or hop online for a free estimate!