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Design Tip: Color Matching Your Photos Using Photoshop

By Scott Prindle

Keeping your advertising materials at a high caliber of professionalism can be a difficult thing to accomplish, especially when it comes to presenting new content to customers that haven’t been created/proofed by a marketer. We’ll be sharing a quick tip to help your content look more professional through the technique of color matching your photos using Adobe Photoshop.

A Trip to Share

So, let us say that we’ve had a company hike over on Mt. Baker, and wanted to share a set of photos from the adventure with our co-workers (these are taken from my own stash). Here we have our set of images for an article explaining our escapades. Not too bad since they’re all of similar landscapes, but the colors/tone are different because they were taken from different angles, locations, and time of day.
Four Photos from Skyline Divide of the Mt. Baker area.

Let’s Get Editing

The photos themselves don’t look bad, but you can definitely tell that they aren’t matching one another in tone and color. We can fix that with some simple changes in Photoshop, though. Why don’t you go ahead and open the four images in Photoshop.

Choosing a source image

Now that we’ve got the images loaded into Photoshop, you’ll want to look through them all and choose the photo that you want all the other photos to be matched to in color and tone. I went ahead and selected one of the full shots of Mt. Baker, as it has a variety of colors and with a solid balance of contrast and lightness.

The Chosen Source Image

Photoshop Match Color Tool

You’ve got your image set loaded in Photoshop, and you’ve chosen in your mind the photo that you want to match the rest of the set to. Great. Now let’s go ahead and start manipulating the photos to match the source image. Go ahead and navigate to the image you want to edit in Photoshop, and go to Image >> Adjustments >> Match Colors.

Match Color Menu Item

This will bring up a dialogue window that at first seems a little innocuous at first, but you’ll want to look for a dropdown menu labelled “Source” near the bottom of the window, and select the source image’s filename that you’ve opened from Photoshop. This will cause the image you are editing to adjust its color to the source image’s colors.

The Match Color dialogue

You’ll want to adjust the sliders according to your tastes, as settings for one photo may not work for another. There is no golden setting that will make things right, so a little play will be necessary. Anyway, after you’ve found the sweet spot, go ahead and click okay, and voila, you’ll have an edited photo that matches the color of the source image thanks to your efforts.

A single image editted to match the source

I should disclaim here that adjusting the images like this does not guarantee a great print result. You should note that the way your monitor displays an image doesn’t necessarily represent how the image will look like on paper.

After you’ve found settings to your liking, go ahead and confirm the changes, and you’ll have an image that matches the source image’s colors. Repeat this process for all the other images in the set, and you’ll have a presentation that has a level of polish that shows professionalism in your work.

Before and After comparison of editted image set

Conclusion

And there you have it, the overall effect creates an effect of cohesion between the set of images that would not have otherwise been there before. And while with the majority of this article I discuss matching these photos together, you can use it for any number of projects, whether you use it on a set of images on a brochure, your website, a technical manual for your products or a large advertisement poster. One thing I did not mention is that while this process is useful for matching images together, you’ll still want to make sure that the set of images match in some way to the color scheme of what you’ll be presenting them in.

For example, if you have a bunch of orange tinted photos, they’ll starkly contrast on a blue pallete. Basically, color theory is still ever present, but you can use this as just another tool in your toolbox to make a coherent and well designed marketing piece.

 

Let me know if this article was helpful down in the comments below or by firing me off an email at scott@printcopyfactory.com

Business Card Etiquette Tips

Business cards are an inexpensive, yet valuable way to introduce yourself and your business. Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind the next time you exchange business cards:

  • Be prepared by having business cards on you at all times, including weekends.
  • Never distribute tattered business cards that show wear from being stuffed in your wallet. Instead, use a hard business card case to keep your cards clean and crisp.
  • Offer your card during informal conversations if the person you’re talking to expresses interest in your products or services.
  • Distribute only one card to each new contact (unless more are requested), rather than expecting them to distribute your cards for you.
  • Exchange cards at the beginning of meetings to have the names and titles/rank of everyone involved readily available.
  • Show respect when receiving a business card by briefly looking it over (front and back) and placing it in a portfolio, notebook, or card case. Never fold or crumple the card, and don’t stuff it in your pocket or bag within eyesight of the card giver. Reading over or commenting on the card right away may also help you build a better association between the new contact’s name and face for future reference.
  • Be aware that foreign countries have different business card customs. If doing business in a country that speaks another language, consider translating one side of your card into their language.

Let us know if we can help you print customized business cards that will make a lasting impression with every exchange.

We Miss You!

Years ago, many companies lived by a “once a customer, always a customer” philosophy. However, in today’s competitive business world full of endless choices and tempting opportunities, customers can be easily lured to a competitor even if they’re happy with your products or services.

Here are a few tips to help you show inactive customers they’re missed and invite them back:

  • Create a postcard, self-mailer, or email with a message such as “we haven’t seen you around lately, and we miss you!” Be sure to thank customers for their previous business and include an apology for falling out of touch.
  • Consider having the owner or president of your company reach out, showing the customer’s importance to your business.
  • Provide an attractive offer, such as an X dollar off coupon, free shipping, BOGO (buy one get one), a value-added bonus, or a percentage discount to help make their decision to return easier.
  • Provide a quick reminder of why customers purchased from you in the first place by highlighting the features that help your business stand apart from the competition. Include an updated list of products and services.
  • Survey old customers by asking what it would take to have them return. Even if your customer won’t return, you can find out how to fix flaws before they affect other customers.

Let us know if you need help creating unique marketing materials to stay in touch with your customers, such as newsletters, postcards, and coupons that will keep them coming back month after month.

Overwhelmed by Your Marketing Efforts?

Marketing your business can be a nonstop, exhausting task. Over the years we have many conversations with our customers about the struggles of doing it all.  in 2008, I decided to help with this, and came up with a marketing booklet and scheduled some marketing classes to review the booklet and help business owners be powerful about their marketing plan.  The whole goal, is to help it not be an overwhelming task.  Here are a few ways to avoid feeling overwhelmed and get the most out of your marketing efforts:

    • Create a SWOT analysis, which is a strategic planning method to evaluate your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By identifying and understanding these four areas of your business, you can more easily create a strategy that will distinguish your company from the competition, so you can compete successfully in your market.  I have created this chart, that we personally used in the shop with our employees. It helps them become a part of the process and are eyes where we may not see.
    • Establish your Unique Value Proposition, which pulls you away from your competition. So many business owners think that what they sell is what people want, however, there are others selling the same thing. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Craft the right message, that speaks into the listening of your prospects and clients.
    • Create a wish list of marketing initiatives, as well as a list of necessary projects with realistic deadlines. Schedule a weekly or bi-monthly meeting to review your progress, identify issues that are holding you back, and reassign tasks or projects.  I also suggest a calendar, so you can put themes, deadlines, and plan ahead, saving you time and money from rush charges. It also keeps you from flying by the seat of your pants!
    • Learn from others. Collect examples of marketing materials or creative ideas that caught your attention, and organize them in an ideas binder. Combine your favorite traits from each into marketing ideas that are customized for your business.  I have a box of samples of direct mail pieces and marketing ideas that we collect, and it really helps me come up with some nice looking pieces without too much struggle!
    • Communicate with other departments in your business to gather new marketing ideas. For example, your production crew may suggest highlighting a new product feature, while your sales team may receive suggestions from customers about requested promotional ideas.
    • Find a marketing intern. Interns can provide a lot of value… if you let them. Interns are best utilized to help you reach business goals. For example, consider assigning interns to manage social media accounts, write articles and other blogs to increase your web presence, develop creative campaign ideas, etc. Interns can help relieve capacity issues and “test” new hires before making them official.

And most of all, consider outsourcing projects if you or your team doesn’t have the time or resources to complete an important project. Print & Copy Factory has a wonderful team of designers and marketing plans that can also be a great solution to keeping up the pace without hiring permanent staff.  As an outside party, we often ask those sensitive questions to help pull you out of the slump.  Also note, sometimes doing it yourself, puts out the wrong message, looking cheap and not well thought out.  Hiring us, also, may seem more expensive up front, however, we hear people designing brochures for weeks using Microsoft Word, and it looks terrible, while we could have something done in a few hours, looking professional.

Whatever you do, just realize that hiring a professional, can really help with putting the finishing touch on your marketing efforts. Print & Copy Factory can offer helpful advice, creative ideas, meet tight deadlines, and provide a quality product you will be proud to distribute. We’re here anytime your business needs help putting your best foot forward.

Stand Out and Get Noticed With Folded Business Cards

Everyone knows that business cards are an essential marketing tool for exchanging contact information, so why not double your marketing effort with a folded business card?

Folded business cards not only provide your standard contact information, but can also provide your audience with something useful to them, such as an events schedule, appointment card, coupon, map, menu, frequent customer discount, punch card, or response card.

The extra space can also be used as a mini-billboard, provide a list of your products or services, highlight helpful tips or industry resources, and much more.

Creative options are endless, including designs, paper and ink choices, diecut shapes, finishing touches, and even the placement of the fold. Folds can made along the top edge, short side, or even offset, where part of the card is shorter, revealing information on the panel below.

Check out your options for folded business cards next time you want to make a lasting impression and ensure your prospects and customers keep your business card on hand.

Hot Summer Marketing Ideas to Think About This Spring

For many businesses, the weather may heat up, but sales cool off in the summer. While summer may be a few months away, it’s never too early to start thinking about a summer marketing plan. Here are a few creative ways to stay on the minds of your customers this summer:
Plan a customer appreciation lunch or ice cream social to stay in touch with customers and prospects during your slow season. Fire up the grill, set up some tents, and get ready to greet some new and familiar faces.

Encourage customers to sign up to win something related to summer fun (ranging from something as simple as a large cooler filled with goodies for a picnic to something as extravagant as a boat or paid getaway to a fun summer destination).
summer??
Offer value add-ons to summer purchases, such as “Receive XYZ free with a $40+ purchase!”

Surprise loyal customers with a summer-related lumpy mailer campaign that includes a promotional gift such as a sleeve of branded golf balls, a reusable water bottle, a frisbee, sunscreen, lip balm, or a can coolie with a creative note.

Plan a sidewalk sale to draw attention to your storefront and encourage people to check out your sales.

Keep in touch with social media. Offer prizes and discounts for customers who provide input, participate in quizzes, or sign up for contests.

Organize a community-driven goodwill event, such as hosting a toy drive, a blood drive, etc.

Create a forum for customers to share their favorite summer recipes or grilling tips.

Offer free lemonade and cookies daily during the month of July to those who visit your store.

What Do Your Business Cards Say About You?

The design of business cards is always  a hot topic of conversation among start up businesses, we are always asked as a marketing specialists, what is our opinion.  Of course it depends on the type of business and your budget and what your business goals are. At any networking event, encounter of a prospect, you want to make a great impression and lasting impression.  Even in the digital age, despite of all of the technology, business cards will probably be the only tangible evidence of an encounter and the presentation of a card still represents the initial contact for many influential businesses. So don’t cheapen or miss-represent your company, the format, coloring and size of business cards can help to turn a brief encounter into a lasting first impression.

1. Make sure the card is great quality.
Good-quality cards are available on an economy of scale; unlike the long waiting times and expense of pressing traditional cards, the modern digital process is swift, economical and can result in superbly memorable designs. Thick, soft card with rounded corners can make a favorable impression.

2.Contact information should be 100% correct.
The correct name, address, phone numbers, email address and website address are essential to allow your contacts to reconnect with you long after your initial meeting. The important facts should still be prominent and easy to read.

3.Think of a card as a vehicle for your branding.
When spending money on marketing materials, you can get more value of your marketing dollar if you use consistent branding and image. From stationery to your website, to your inside of your business, branding is who your business is, what people remember, and the perception that is created.  Your card should not be limited to just you; it needs to tell people about what makes your company so unique and exciting. It could be that the logo isn’t very exciting, or the purpose of your company isn’t apparent. Take a look at your card and ask; what’s missing?

4. Card sizes vary greatly.
In the United States, business cards are normally set at 3.5″ wide x 2″ tall.  You can consider various sizes, to stand out, but be aware, if it is a functional size for your customer base.  Massage therapist for example can get away with a fun size such as 2.25″ x 2.25″ square, whereas a law firm should stick to the professional size.

5. Font, Spacing, color and style.
The font should be elegant but legible; Gothic script can be difficult to read, and Comic Sans suggests that you don’t take yourself seriously, let alone your business. Think about sizing and spacing of letters to ensure that the script does not conflict with the color pattern of the card.  Non-confrontation colors, can be an indication of the comfortable image that your company is trying to project. Cards in full color with custom logos are great for sticking in people’s memories.

6. Stock & Printing style Choices.
There are oodles of different papers and print methods that can create a card just for you.  Consider a textured paper such as linens, with a foil stamp, or a blind embossing.  Thermography, is a raised lettering technique that was really popular in the 70’s and is finding its way back into the design arena.  We also are creating business cards with different quality of lamination and Ultrakoting processes. If you are trying to convey as much information as possible, you can have a set of CD business cards made, with multimedia content, but ensure that your investment will cover its costs- these are expensive unless you commission a batch of several hundred.

7. Consider your photo or photo of your product on the card.
The new marketing is to create relationships, and people tend to first remember how they look and maybe not their name. So a photo on the card is very important.

8. Consider putting a QR Code and social media icons.
Consider the fact that social media is here to stay, well for the moment anyways. Might as well take advantage of this vehicle for what it is worth! It is not for every business, however, for ways of keeping on top of the mind of your customer, this is a great way to do it. You can create fun games and loyalty with all of the great technology advances social media offers.

9. Water run-resistance.
I have seen so many people try to print their business cards on their home ink jet printers. This ink is not water proof. And it looks very unprofessional – not to mention the sloppy quality of the graphics and fonts it generates.  The print and paper of your card should be crisp and the text unable to be obliterated by just a few rain drops. Accidents happen, and an occasional spilled glass of wine should not ruin an opportunity. Ink jet printers-produced cards do not use waterproof ink and leave a very unprofessional impression, no matter how small your business is and your budget. Business cards are your number one marketing tool in your tool box, do not short change it!

10. And lastly, Keep them in a decent case.
If you regularly produce dog-eared cards from fluff-infested pockets, consider the impression that this gives prospective clients about your business. Produce cards one at a time from a case with a lid and exchange them with care. The care you take over your card shows the concern you have for your business.

Take a look at your card and ask; what’s missing?

 

The More You Tell, the More You Sell!

In order to satisfy today’s information-hungry audience, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple sweetie) doesn’t always apply. Prospects and customers are looking for detailed information to help them make informed decisions. Here are a few tips to help you educate your audience about the products and services you sell:

  • Make your marketing materials more educational. Include a product history, list benefits from a customer perspective, explain how it works, and provide comparisons of why your product is better than the competition.
  • Provide customized information packets neatly organized in a pocket folder full of detailed information for customers interested in a specific product or service.
  • Show confidence in your products by providing free samples, free product evaluations, or a discounted, no-obligation trial for customers to try your products or services firsthand and learn more about them before making a decision to buy.
  • Take advantages of opportunities to be viewed as an expert in your field. Write guest columns in industry publications, speak at a trade show or on a radio feature, and post your own blog.
  • Provide a Q&A section on your website that offers convenient answers to potential questions.
  • Offer educational product videos that show product highlights, key features, and tips.
  • Create customer forums that allow customers to discuss your products openly and educate each other.
  • Provide free hands-on training or presentations at your business, during trade shows, or on-site for customers to see and learn the benefits of your products firsthand.
  • Offer webinars, e-learning, or how-to seminars that offer educational tips and interesting information not only about your products, but your industry as a whole.
  • Publish a regular newsletter as a marketing tool to build relationships and offer information about your business, team, products, and industry.
  • Invite customers “behind the scenes.” Give them a tour of your building, and introduce them to your team. Show them a “day in the life” of your company. Let them view how products are made and learn more about your quality-control standards and guides.
  • Remember that educating your customers shouldn’t stop at the sale. By staying front-of mind and continuing to offer helpful information and tips, your customers will look to you first when they are ready to purchase again in the future.

Business Lessons from a Pinewood Car

Every year, Cub Scout packs across the U.S. hold pinewood derby races. In Canada, Cub Scouts take part in a similar event, known as the kub kar rally. In both events (and others like them), the idea is simple. Participants are given a block of wood, four plastic wheels, and four small nails to use as axles. They can fashion their cars pretty much any way they want, as long as they meet the guidelines for the race. Weights are added, and the cars are raced down a track, with gravity as the only source of power.

Lessons learned from a pine wood racing car

Lessons learned from a pine wood racing car

As you might imagine, designs and color schemes run the gamut. Some scouts will create traditional-looking race cars, while others will add their own creative flair. As racers line up, it’s hard to imagine that all those cars started out exactly alike, as simple blocks of wood.

In business, many companies start out with similar sets of raw materials or similar product lines. Some focus on creating flashy or innovative designs and marketing campaigns that help them stand out from the crowd. Others focus on the basics, like making sure the axles and wheels are sanded smooth and properly lubricated with graphite, to ensure an optimal ride. Still others strive to distribute the weight properly, to maximize efficiency and make sure the right people are doing the right jobs that best suit their skills.

And the best companies? You guessed it. They do all three.

So, while the business world may not always run on a nice, smooth track — and the playing field is not always level — with the right preparation and some good, old-fashioned hard work, your company can win the day.

The Surprising Significance of Insignificant Things

Have you ever thought about the tremendous impact one small change can have on an outcome or meaning? Consider the words hail and fail, for example, or the words hire and fire. In both cases, just a single letter (“h” versus “f”) separates their spelling, yet each is worlds apart in meaning.

Make a brilliant decision or positive impression, and you’re likely to get hired and hailed. Make a lousy decision or negative impression, and you could just as easily find yourself fired and labeled as having failed.

The idea of small, seemingly insignificant events affecting much larger outcomes is hardly new. The whole notion of the butterfly effect is based on just that premise. The flapping of a single butterfly’s wings, the theory holds, can affect a hurricane’s formation. That tiny, barely noticeable breeze, coupled with the right conditions, can build and grow, like a snowball rolling downhill in a Looney Tunes adventure. And if you aren’t careful, you could end up like Daffy Duck or whichever other unfortunate character finds themselves at the bottom of that hill.

As you look back on your life, career, or business, what moments stand out to you? Oftentimes, it’s something so small it goes by unnoticed when it happens. Your decision to take a certain class in college, for example, that led you to a teacher who became a mentor in your life. Or the decision to bypass your usual coffee shop one morning, which led to a chance encounter with a potential client or now dear friend. In hindsight, we can point out the significance of such moments, but at the time, they often seem small and unimportant.

So the next time you’re facing a decision or looking for a change in perspective, think about the little things. And remember that even the most seemingly insignificant change you make right now can have a big impact on your life or business somewhere down the line.

Print & Copy Factory loves butterflies

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