18 Apr 2017 Leave a Comment
Not so long ago, color photographs were developed and printed in a darkroom. Colors were adjusted using chemicals, graduated color filters, and hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. The process of developing and printing photographs was long and grueling. Fortunately, today, things are different. Film photography has become a fine art, and digital photography has taken the helm because of its quick and efficient turnaround.
In the digital world, images can be edited, re-edited, and manipulated before they go to print. Instead of the enlargers and chemical baths found in traditional darkrooms, we now have the technology that gives us the post-processing power to tweak and change photographs to enhance them, sort of like a digital darkroom.
Adobe Lightroom is an inexpensive post-processing program used by amateur and professional photographers across the globe to edit and refine images. It includes many great features, one of which is a powerful White Balance tool that allows you to make color-tint adjustments that will help normalize the color tones you just couldn’t land in-camera.
What Is White Balance And Why Does It Matter?
White Balance, which is measured in Kelvins, represents the temperature of light (cool or warm) recorded by your camera. Kelvins range from 1,500K (very warm) to 15,000K (very cool). It’s important to stay aware of your White Balance setting as it could save you hours of editing time later. Most cameras today have pre-programmed presets such as Tungsten, Shade, Flash, Florescent, and Cloudy that all record temperature differently and help you capture colors as accurately as possible.
How Can I Make White Balance Changes In Lightroom?
When things aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, and you need to make adjustments, there are three ways you can adjust White Balance in Lightroom:
1) Eyedropper tool
Select the eyedropper tool from the Basics Panel and find an area in your image with light gray or neutral tones. Click that spot with the eyedropper tool and let Lightroom calculate the White Balance for you.
2) White Balance presets (RAW images only)
If your image is in RAW format, you’ll have a list of White Balance presets available to you through the Basics Panel. Using the White Balance drop down menu, select an option that best describes the lighting conditions you shot in.
3) White Balance temperature and tint sliders
The temperature and tint sliders are an advanced setting that allows you to manually adjust how warm or cool an image is, in addition to adjusting the tint between green and magenta. This setting is the most powerful option of the three.
Go ahead and test the waters, and don’t worry if you’ve made a mistake with your settings. Lightroom is a non-destructive editing program, so you can always get back to square one if you’ve made changes that just don’t work well. Simply use the Reset button to remove all adjustments and return your settings to what they were when the image was captured, and you can start again.
28 Mar 2017 Comments Off on The Best Marketing Solves a Problem
The Best Marketing Solves a Problem
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right? Unfortunately, not always. After learning about some of the poor working conditions and high levels of violence associated with most diamonds on the market, many girls (and guys) have decided that a conventional diamond is not the ideal expression of their love. While some have turned to vintage pieces or alternate stones, one Los Angeles entrepreneur has provided a third option: high-quality jewels grown in a lab instead of under the ground.
Vanessa Stofenmacher did not know much about the jewelry business when she started VOW, her line of engagement, wedding, and promise rings. To cope with the limitations of current diamond-tracking laws, she opted to have the stones for her jewelry line made by Diamond Foundry, a laboratory that makes diamonds in California.
In her market research, she found that women in their twenties were likely to be concerned about the source of their diamonds. They typically did not mind wearing lab-grown stones as long as they looked as good as natural ones. This research made her line a success; the company, beginning with $8,000 in seed money, was valued at $3 million in 2016.
Don’t Be Afraid to Live Your Values
Many of us feel that, in business, our personal convictions should stop outside the doors. However, if we do not create products and marketing campaigns that align with our own values, the chances are good that they will not hit the mark with anyone else.
By choosing a product that she felt strongly about, Stofenmacher found the characteristic that makes her product line different from every other one out there.
Millennials, in particular, are happy to do business with companies that take an ethical stand. By doing something about your beliefs, you can increase connection and engagement.
Think Like Your Customer
The other thing that Stofenmacher did right was seizing an idea that had been troubling many people in the market for diamond rings.
Is there an issue in your industry that you are in a position to address? It does not have to be an ethical concern. It can be a common pain point, such as:
- the amount of waste currently associated with a product.
- the inconvenience of current ordering practices.
- a lack of educational materials about your product and others like it.
- an area where prices are out of line with consumer expectations.
By looking at what your customer cares about most, you can increase the chances of creating a product and a marketing campaign that will resonate with them.
Listen to Your Customers
How can you find out what people want? Just listen. Stofenmacher learned about the desire for ethical lab-grown stones by perusing Instagram. You can set up social listening on platforms that include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to see what people are talking about in your industry. Many brands also use customer surveys in front of gated content to learn more.
Over time, you will find that your customers respond best when you directly address an unmet need. The marketing campaigns based on this concept will get higher levels of engagement, a better conversion rate, and will help you build long-lasting relationships that are good for you and your customers.
23 Mar 2017 Comments Off on Winner of the 2016 Whatcom Business Alliance – Small Business of the Year!
Small Business of the Year Finalist – Print & Copy Factory
Print shop evolved into a full-service digital marketing force
By Mary Louise Van Dyke
Peering into a crystal ball might have given Becky and Larry Raney interesting insights into the evolution of the print business when launching Print & Copy Factory LLC in 1992. At that time that industry was focused primarily on paper solutions.
Click here to see rest of article!
13 Jan 2017 Comments Off on Cover Versus Text: What Paper Thickness Means For You
Cover Versus Text: What Paper Thickness Means For You
If you’ve ever stepped foot into a print shop or ordered a print job online, you’ve most likely been faced with what can be a daunting question: What kind of paper do you want? Then, that feeling of panic sets in, much like when you’re faced with the paper or plastic question in the checkout line. Your mind races to quickly analyze “the most eco-friendly option” while the customers behind you silently judge you.
Fear not! This crash course in paper weights will make you a paper expert in no time at all.
What Does Paper Weight Refer To?
Without getting into too much talk about the technicalities of certain paper types and offset weights, the answer is really pretty simple. Paper is generally measured in pounds per 500 sheets (a.k.a. one ream) of the standard sheet size assigned to the papers in that category.
Example: Bond paper has a standard sheet size of 17” x 22” (also called “basis size”). If 500 sheets of bond paper weigh 20 pounds, that paper is classified as 20 lb. bond. You might also see this represented as 20# bond.
There are paper stocks that are heavier or lighter than the above example, so you will sometimes see 16# or 24# stock as well.
What Do The Different Paper Stocks Mean?
In commercial printing, you’ll generally see four categories of paper stock:
1. Bond Paper
Bond stock is most commonly used for letterhead, copier paper, and laser printer paper. Similar to bond stock is writing stock. Writing stock is typically pricier than bond. It has shorter fibers, making it softer. It can be used for company stationery and sometimes contains a distinctive watermark. Writing stock can also be made with a variety of finishes.
Standard weights for bond/writing stock are 16#, 20#, 24# and 32#, with 20# being the most commonly used for in-house applications. Use 32# stock for resumes or competitive business documents to really impress!
2. Book Paper
Book stock can come in coated and uncoated varieties. Their weights vary from 30# Bible stock to 115# book stock. Bible stock is very thin paper, so named because it is usually used to print Bibles. Other book stock uses include magazines, catalogs, posters, and booklets.
The basis size for book stock is 25” x 38”, so 500 sheets of 30# Bible stock will weigh…you guessed it – 30#!
3. Text Paper
Text stock is a higher grade of paper used in projects requiring a better quality paper. It’s a bit thicker than your standard bond copy paper. Text paper is often used for brochures and flyers, some magazines, and thin posters. Text paper weights range from 60# to 100#.
The basis size for text stock is 25” x 38”, so 500 sheets of 60# text stock will weigh…you got it – 60#! (You’re picking this up amazingly fast!)
4. Cover Paper
Cover paper (also called “card stock”) is heavy paper used for projects like business cards, postcards, and rack cards. Like text paper, weights range from 60# to 100#.
Because cover paper is a thicker stock, it has a smaller basis size (24” x 36”) than text and bond papers. The equation is the same, though – 500 sheets of 80# cover stock is going to weigh 80#.
Paper Choice and Quality
As you may have guessed it, the heavier the paper, the pricier it will be. Some people may have the tendency to skimp on paper weights because they don’t think it’s that important. Psychologically, when people feel a lighter weight paper used on something they instinctively feel should be heavier, they make a value judgment about your company, product or service. Clearly, this is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Next time the paper choice question comes up, you can relax with the comfort of knowing that you are now a paper pro!
10 Jan 2017 Comments Off on How to Put Apps and Social Media to Work for You as a Business
How to Put Apps and Social Media to Work for You as a Business
Running a successful business today means putting social media to work for your company. Regardless of industry, a strong social media presence allows you to maximize your reach, while at the same time generate sales from other sources aside from local consumers. Whether you are launching a startup or looking to expand a current business, utilizing social media and various applications that are beneficial to teams and industry leaders is a way to stay one step ahead of the competition while reaching a much wider audience.
Branding Your Company’s Social Media Presence
Before setting up social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, it’s important to consider the audience you want to reach regarding demographics and age groups. How do you want to present your company? What voice do you want to implement when showcasing products or services? Are you planning to share graphics, videos, or humorous updates to potential customers? Carefully consider the voice, tone, and style you want to use to represent your brand based on the audience you plan on reaching (with paid or organically grown content).
Social Media Tips for Business
When creating social media pages for your business, using the same handle and username for all options is highly advisable. Steer clear of confusing names or characters that may leave users lost or unsure of your page’s authenticity. Consider the flow of your posts and the type of content you produce to streamline your pages and keep users coming back for more. Share real stories and content from relevant industry professionals, helping to build brand loyalty and authority. Consistent updating is the key to maintaining relevancy while also keeping potential customers engaged in hearing what you have to say.
Slack is known throughout both the startup world as well as large-scale companies to help teams and employees better communicate with one another. As a free app download available for both Android and iOS phones, Slack allows individuals within a company to create selective "channels" for marketing, general chat, social media, and any other customized channel that is fitting for your business. Sending messages to an entire team simultaneously allows employees to work more efficiently while also staying on topic with unlimited channels available. Sending images, graphics, and documents is also a possibility with Slack, making it extremely useful when completing everything from print projects, marketing material outlines, to setting goals for an upcoming week or month.
One application that is growing fast within business markets is an app that was originally designed for college students and a younger demographic altogether. The Houseparty App is free and available on Android and iOS phones, allowing users to create private or public "rooms" to video chat with one another "on the fly." Although Skype is an alternative, along with GoToMeeting, Houseparty is entirely free and allows up to 8 users in one room simultaneously. Chatting with team members or employees who work remotely will help everyone to catch up on projects and plans quickly regardless of location.
Evernote is a classic app that is useful for saving documents, photos, and even print materials you want to share with your entire team or specific employees with ease. The free version of Evernote allows users to upload 60 megabytes of data each month, with premium versions available for large-scale companies. Using Evernote is a quick and easy method of showcasing updates, saving and pinning websites to share, and collectively engaging in one another’s finds online (without pesky bookmarks and browsing).
Take time to consider your company’s needs regarding finance, communication, and time management to assess which type of apps work best for your teams. Find the voice and branding of your business to appeal to potential consumers without sounding robotic or "too corporate," while still resonating with those who are interested in your products or services. The more you truly understand the needs of your consumers, the easier it becomes to relate to them, helping to boost sales, loyalty, and interest in any industry.
06 Jan 2017 Comments Off on Qualities That Brands With Longevity Share
Qualities That Brands With Longevity Share
In the world of business, there is perhaps no commodity more precious than longevity. Getting a brand up and off the ground is one thing – keeping it around for the long-term is something else entirely. Creating longevity will rely in large part on your marketing, although this is only one small part of a much greater whole. The best marketing campaign in the world can’t create a long-standing, successful brand if a few qualities aren’t underneath it all just waiting to be communicated to the widest possible audience.
They Trigger an Emotional Response
One of the biggest traits that all brands with serious longevity share is the fact that they’re able to trigger an emotional response with their target audience, creating a loyal army of followers. This is true both with the way they market AND the way that response integrates into the service they provide.
Apple is a great example of this based on their image as the "hip, trendy" electronics company. People see a sleek, sophisticated Apple product in an equally compelling ad and they can’t help but think, "That looks really cool; I want that." The same goes for a company like Amazon.com, albeit from a different angle. The way that Amazon has embraced personal marketing, both regarding the advertising it creates and with regards to the personalized recommendations that each user enjoys, makes them think, "I like Amazon; they get me." That type of emotional connection is something you just can’t put a price on.
They Live Up to What They Promise
All of the best brands with serious longevity share the fact that they live up to the promises they make in their marketing materials. This comes from a deeper understanding of not just the people they’re trying to attract, but who those people are and what they want. These brands know how to communicate with their target audience and, as a result, don’t just live up to their promises, but they know how NOT to make a promise they can’t keep.
Take FedEx, for example. Entrepreneur.com recently cited FedEx as a brand with an incredibly strong corporate identity, owed largely to the fact that it’s operations are so incredibly efficient. FedEx is a brand built on trust, and the road to trust is paved with promises that have been kept in the past. FedEx is seen as an incredibly reliable service, and people in need of shipping rank FedEx favorably in that regard. This creates something of a self-fulfilling prophecy – a symbiotic relationship that only strengthens over time specifically because FedEx knows what its audience wants and it knows how precisely to give it to them every time.
Once again, Apple is another example of this idea in motion. They promise products that "just work" and have historically delivered on that promise time and again. This has made them not only one of the most successful brands in the world, but also one with serious longevity in an industry where companies come and go like the weather.
These are just a few of the core qualities that all brands with longevity share. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, brands come and go all the time. Creating a brand is easy, but if you want to make sure that your brand stands the test of time, you need to focus on offering something truly unique on an ongoing basis.
29 Dec 2016 Comments Off on Content Marketing Best Practices to Double Down on in 2017
Content Marketing Best Practices to Double Down on in 2017
Marketing is an industry that is constantly changing, especially since technology does the same. If you think back to what your day looked like even five years ago, it will likely have little resemblance to the work you’ve already done today, or how you’re doing it. Despite that, there are still some best practices that are as powerful today as they ever were as far as content marketing is concerned. Along those lines, there are a few key content marketing best practices that you’re going to want to double down on as 2017 fast approaches.
Forget About SEO
In today’s digital climate, the importance of writing content for people first and search engines second cannot be overstated enough. Google has made some massive changes to its algorithm in the last year that favor quality, well-written content above all else. Google, Bing, and more have all placed a strong emphasis on making sure that content is king. As long as you create your marketing collateral with that in mind, these companies have promised to make sure that you’re taken care of regarding search engine rankings.
Focus on helping people. Try to provide insight and provoke a response. If you craft your campaigns with these simple goals in mind, everything else will fall into place.
..But Don’t Totally Forget About SEO
None of that is to say that SEO, in general, isn’t necessary. Just make sure that when it comes to content marketing, you’re not trying to stuff in as many keywords as possible. Instead, shift your SEO efforts to other areas, like making sure that you’re updating your content regularly, that it has all of your (correct) contact information, and that you’re promoting yourself through outlets like social media.
More Than Just Blogs
Remember that blogs are a powerful tool in the content marketing game, but they’re not the only tool you have to play with. Things like newsletters, eBooks, and user guides are all an excellent way to reach your target audience in fun new ways. Visual materials like infographics, charts, and even videos are also a great way to bring the visual element that you’re known for into the content marketing arena in a powerful way.
Refine Your Customer Persona
Many people use customer personas to help guide their marketing campaigns, something that is especially helpful when it comes to content marketing. Something you cannot forget to do, however, is to update these personas on a regular basis. Think about how much your business has changed in the last year and understand that your ideal customer has probably changed just as much. Use the new year as an opportunity to re-evaluate your existing buyer personas so that you can always keep your eye on the prize, so to speak.
A new year brings with it the opportunity to start fresh, but that doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Embrace new techniques, but also never lose sight of the old saying of "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it." Some content marketing best practices are certainly not broken, and those solid techniques are what you can be doubling down on in the new year.
20 Dec 2016 Comments Off on 3 Emotions That Go Along with Operating Your Own Business
3 Emotions That Go Along with Operating Your Own Business
Many emotions go along with owning your own company. From the excitement of opening your doors the first time to dealing with chaos in the office, running your business will be enjoyable sometimes and cause much frustration other times.
The Main Three
It seems that you can boil business emotions down to three that most business owners share or have experienced at one time in their business journey. They are:
Do you ever find yourself being scared that you might actually succeed? Fear is one of the most common emotions that successful business owners feel when first starting out. Being afraid of success can hold you back if you don’t properly deal with it. Operating any company requires risk, and it is because you are human that risk likely scares you.
By talking with people who have taken a risk before, you will gain a better perspective on how to balance risk with common sense. Overcome fear and risk by having an open mind, and be willing to be a lifelong learner. The more you learn, the more you know in regards to appropriately handling different issues in business.
Another common emotion tied in with running your own business is euphoria. If you have any success at all, your brain will create endorphins and cause you to feel extreme pleasure. And while euphoria is a great motivator to help you continue your success, you must remember that running a successful company requires a daily effort. Just because all of your clients are satisfied on one day does not mean they will all be satisfied the next. Be prepared to make changes as needed.
Frustration can be minimized by taking time out of each day to focus on yourself. If you’re not happy, neither will your customers. If you find yourself frustrated, take a step back and give yourself a moment to clear your mind. Clarity is essential to overcoming the frustration that is tied in with chaos and change.
Dealing with the emotions that go along with operating your own business is key to keeping your company afloat. By following the tips mentioned above, you’ll be much more likely to run a business that brings you much success and joy.
19 Dec 2016 Comments Off on A Creative Life Improves Creative Buying Processes
A Creative Life Improves Creative Buying Processes
There are more than a few steps involved in the buying process. When you integrate creativity into this process, this can lead to amazing business opportunities.
Incorporating creativity into the buying process means human experience should play a core role. Businesses prefer to partner with businesses they can relate to; ones they have a common goal with. This is why the human experience should always be shared when creating or redefining a company’s brand. The more relation a company can share with a distributor or manufacturer, the stronger the business-to-business and business-to-customer relationships will be.
So, how does a business owner go about integrating creativity into his or her lifestyle to improve the creative buying process? Fortunately, there are many ways company owners can embody creativity into their everyday life. Here is a close look at three of them.
1: Go on vacations
When a business owner does not have time to go on a vacation, this probably means he or she is working too hard. Operating a successful business involves all aspects of the company being conducted in a healthy manner, including its employees and owner(s). Going on a vacation allows the owner to indulge in his or her passions, which increases endorphins and serotonin and leads to the enhancement of creativity in the mind. Business owners often find their most genius ideas come to them while away from work.
2: Take chances
Business owners don’t become successful out of fear. Instead, they are willing to take risks. You’ll never know if a creative idea is going to work unless you try it. If you’re fearful about trying out a new creative idea, you can always turn to the support of your friends, family, coworkers, and any people you consider mentors. If you steer clear of taking chances, this is a sure way to kill the creativity in your life, which means creative buying processes will be at an extreme minimum.
3: Share your experience
The number one way to blend creativity into your lifestyle as a business owner is to share your experience with others who are striving to achieve the same goals you are. In doing this, you will receive valuable feedback that can help you steer clear of costly mistakes while at the same time learn about successful creative buying processes others are using that you can take advantage of.
Make sure you keep in mind the three tips mentioned above as you continue on your journey as a business owner. Creative buying processes are an essential part of managing any type of business, and as these processes improve, you will notice a substantial change in your capability to expand the services you offer to a wider range of customers because you will have more time and energy to focus on meeting your customers’ needs.
13 Dec 2016 Comments Off on The Power of A/B Testing: The Difference Small Changes Can Make for Your Marketing
The Power of A/B Testing: The Difference Small Changes Can Make for Your Marketing
Marketing is a decision-based world. At any given moment, you’ve got a variety of options floating in front of you. Which of those two headlines should you use in your next e-mail? Which of those three font choices looks the best on your print flyer? Which of the three graphics will ultimately reflect your brand in the best way?
If you’re wondering how small changes will affect the greater success of your marketing campaign in the eyes of your users, why don’t you just ask them? That, in a nutshell, is what A/B testing is all about.
What Is A/B Testing?
Sometimes referred to as split testing, A/B testing involves comparing two or more versions of something to see which one is more effective. In marketing terms, it’s easy to see the value of this approach almost immediately. Do you have two similar, yet different, versions of an e-mail subject line and are wondering which one might be the most effective? Get an e-mail list of 100 of your average customers together and try both at the same time. Send one version to a group of fifty customers and the second version to the other fifty. See which one performed better (and why) before making the decision of which one to use for your whole campaign.
A/B Testing Statistics
Don’t just take our word for it – there is a wide range of statistics that prove just how valuable A/B testing can be. According to a study conducted by Steelhouse, A/B testing is THE most used method for improving conversion rates in marketing campaigns. It isn’t just marketing companies that are getting in on the action, either. During his re-election campaign, President Obama was able to raise an additional $60 million dollars through a carefully designed, calculated A/B testing regimen.
The important thing to understand is that you can (and should) use and A/B test on every portion of your campaign before you bring it in front of the eyes of the widest possible audience. Take your website, for example. As the "welcome mat" of your virtual identity, A/B testing your website is the perfect way to see which of those two designs you’re thinking of is better. This is incredibly common – in fact, Pardot research revealed that Google ran more than 7,000 A/B tests on its own interface in 2011 alone.
But again: it doesn’t actually matter what you’re A/B testing, just that you are. In print marketing, this concept can be just as effective. The key is that you’re not taking anything for granted. You’re getting your collateral in front of the eyes of real people, seeing how they respond, and then using that as the basis of actionable decisions that you make moving forward.
In the world of marketing, it’s important to remember the old saying of "you can only make one first impression, so you’d better be sure that you’re making a good one." Launching a campaign before it’s ready means you can potentially shoot yourself in the foot before you’ve even had a chance to begin. Investing in A/B testing is one way to avoid exactly that type of problem for now and for all time.