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Dream Killer

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Fear and self-doubt are two of the biggest dream killers in most of us. Success often comes down to what we’re willing to do about it.

Will you take some risks and do something different than what you’ve always done?

Many of us are so afraid of failing that sadly we’ll never take the leap of faith required to do anything worthwhile in this life.

Whether the dream is about starting a business, getting an advancement at work, or simply finishing a major project, something seems to hold us back.

It’s tempting to use the excuse that something external has forced us to procrastinate, but most of the time that something is really inner self-sabotage.

That inner voice does its best to derail and destroy our dreams. So we fail before we even start. And that pattern repeats itself, over and over again, like a bad nightmare.

To stop and crush that sequence we have to do one thing: take action without regard to possible failure in the ultimate outcome.

Yes, we should be prudent in researching, reflecting, and consulting beforehand. But if all signs point to moving forward, we shouldn’t hesitate. Instead, we need to put one foot in front of the other and take action.

Success comes from taking imperfect action. Why? Because the day everything’s perfect enough will never come.

So take imperfect action starting today. Your dreams will thank you.

Think Small!

For many years, “think big” has been the theme for many businesses, as they try to compete in a sea of retail giants. However, the tables are turning, and large organizations realize that their audience is looking for more personalized, customer-focused attention, causing businesses to “think small.” Here are a few ways to leverage your natural small business advantages in your marketing efforts:

    • Personal attention. Small businesses are more likely to recognize their customers and provide sincere, personal attention, without customers feeling like they’re just another number in the company’s statistics.
    • Industry experts. Many small businesses develop a narrow market focus and develop a premium reputation for serving that niche market effectively.
    • The power to change. While large companies generally take several months to change company policies, small businesses usually have the ability to make decisions on the spot and implement changes quickly when they feel it is appropriate.
    • Flexibility. Small businesses are more willing to work with customers and do whatever it takes to earn their business, including filling customized requests at a moment’s notice.
    • Customer satisfaction. Because it takes more effort for a small business to build a strong customer base, they also work harder to keep their current customers happy.

When it comes to marketing, don’t hide the fact that you are a small business. Instead, take the opportunity to promote it proudly and show customers the many advantages of thinking small.

Sometimes Less Really is More

“There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your mother probably admonished you as a youngster: “You need to finish that plate of food because there are children in Africa starving right now.” So we have been conditioned to eat even when our stomach is full or even if we don’t really like the taste of the food. The negative side effects surround us everywhere.

Living in this age of access to unprecedented amounts of information, we must be careful not to overindulge there, too. Just as it is harmful to overeat, it is perhaps even more detrimental to consume the incessant amount of unrelated and useless information that fills the web, the airwaves (TV and radio), and print. Just because it’s free to access doesn’t mean it comes without another kind of cost.

This type of cost is more precious than the monetary kind. It’s your valuable time. Unlike money, time can’t be replaced once it’s gone. Like the youngster who becomes conditioned to eat too much, we are becoming conditioned to consume too much information, most of it the useless variety. Many of us need to go on an information diet! How many minutes and hours are wasted daily on email, Facebook, and various news/entertainment websites? Too many.

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” -Albert Einstein

Not all reading or information is harmful, of course. But it is time to stop reading negative and time-consuming information that is not helping you advance toward your goals. If you start reading an article that turns out to be less useful than you thought, no need to keep reading it. Do you have to constantly check your email? Not really. Start taking your time back by going on an information diet today. You will be much more productive and will like the new you the next time you look in the mirror.

Create a SWOT Marketing Campaign

It’s important to understand how your business compares to your competition, especially when marketing your products or services. By creating a SWOT analysis, you can gain helpful insight to your business success.

A SWOT analysis focuses on your company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats that may impact your business. By recognizing both positive and negative factors that affect your business, you can take an objective look at your business and use the results to improve your marketing messages.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when creating your SWOT analysis:
Strengths refer to what your company does well. List all positive attributes and advantages you have over your competition, such as an industry-leading warranty, in-house support staff, outstanding reputation, or established customer base.

Weaknesses include areas you need to improve in order to better compete. Examples might include high pricing, inferior products, limited resources, poor location, and so forth. An outside viewpoint of your company’s weaknesses can be very valuable, since company perceptions lack the customer perspective.

Opportunities refer to external chances for your business to grow and prosper. Opportunities typically occur when markets grow, demand for products increases, or you’re able to provide new solutions to a common problem.

Threats include external factors beyond your control, such as consumer trends, technological developments, business mergers, government regulations, political decisions, economic downturns, the like. While many things could threaten your business, give most consideration to items with a greater probability of occurring.

We also would like to invite you to attend our marketing class, it is a 3 hour course for $69 and you can RSVP on line.  The course is available on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

In this marketing class, we will chart and discuss your business SWOT, and help you understand why this puzzle piece of the marketing puzzle is so important, along with the rest of the puzzle pieces, the puzzle is not complete.

 

What if?

Do you ever find yourself playing the “what if” game? What if you had made a different choice with something in your past, whether a life decision or in business?

Sure you have. We all do.
When you’re evaluating these “what if” scenarios in your head, do you ever wonder how close you came to achieving some of the goals you set but for whatever reason never did?

It’s true that we shouldn’t dwell on the past, but it’s also worth mentioning that we all want to live a life that leaves little regret at the end of the day. So learning from our past mistakes (and victories) is an important part of our growth process.

When you want to reach anything worthwhile, you set goals. You put some effort into reaching your target. The higher the target and bigger the goal, the more effort it takes to reach it.

Simple concept, right? 1 + 2 = 3

Then if it’s so simple, why is it that we sometimes don’t reach the goals we set for ourselves?

On the surface, there’s a relatively simple answer. Effort. The amount of effort we needed to put in just wasn’t there. Why? Sometimes the reasons are external and beyond our control, but most often we allow internal issues to block us from reaching our goals.

Even more frustrating is the realization that we were probably much closer to reaching our goal than we ever realized. Water is really hot when it’s heated to 211 degrees. But it’s not until it reaches 212 degrees that water creates steam. Steam is what generates the power to move a locomotive, not warm water.

Whether you’re working on personal goals or business ones, the lesson here is that you’re probably tantalizingly close to reaching the top. Probably one tiny degree away.

Watch this short video to get a little inspiration to start making that one degree difference today.

Appreciation Marketing

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. That’s especially true when it comes to your customers. Appreciation marketing can help you develop lasting relationships and make customers think of you the next time they’re ready to purchase.

Print & Copy Factory Thank yous and that'a boys

Here are a few ways to show customers your appreciation:

  • Send a hand-written thank you card every time someone does business with you.  Larry and I remember purchasing a suitcase at a smaller store in the mall years ago, and they sent us a thank you card, for a suitcase no less!  We thought that was pretty darn cool, so Print & Copy Factory started sending thank you cards to our customers.
  • Reward repeat customers with special deals, exclusive discounts, and coupons. You should be tracking what your customers are purchasing from you, and use this to sell add-on services or products as a form of up-selling.
  • Send holiday (we have a large selection), birthday, or anniversary cards. These simple, pressure-free greetings will help increase top-of-mind awareness throughout the year.
  • Offer useful information and helpful tips to educate customers and promote your expertise via blogs, newsletters, social media, and the like.
  • Invite customers to an exclusive appreciation event designed for existing customers.
  • Collaborate with non-competitive local businesses to create a coupon book or discount program across a range of industries – check with the local chambers, some of them have welcome packets that they give to new members that include your marketing items – I know the Ferndale Chamber has one).
  • Create a customer loyalty program, such as a loyalty punch card, upgrade offers, or cash rewards after reaching a specific purchase level.
  • Respond quickly to customer questions or requests, and follow-up to be sure all questions were thoroughly answered.
  • Ask for customer feedback in the form of surveys and response cards. (we also do this, using a pre-paid postcard, encouraging the correspondence)
  • Send out a voucher or postcard for a free gift, redeemable at your business.
  • Send out re-order cards.
  • Send discounts and coupons “just because” to thank customers for their business.
  • Include statement stuffer coupons with bills not only as a thank you but also to encourage customers to make additional future purchases.
  • Give away free-bees, such as coffee mugs, pens or even hats with your logo on them, they stay with the customer longer and help you advertise too!

If you’re interested in any of the above print marketing ideas or need help brainstorming the perfect promo to show customers your appreciation, our creative team here at Print & Copy Factory is eager to help. Give us a call today!

Information Overload?

Information Overload?

Information Overload?

The amount of information (images, videos, blogs, etc.) available to businesspeople is increasing at dizzying speeds. This can be a problem. A big and messy problem.

You see, there’s a lot of junk out there. Yet amid that trash valuable information exists that can help you and your customers achieve exactly what you’re looking for.

As with any problem, there are opportunities to be had.

Can you become the go to source for your top customers to help them find the gold? If you can manage that, you’ll become their trusted ally and vendor of choice.

That in essence is what “content curation” is all about.

You can send your customers and prospects copies of articles and links to important information — basically any resource you think will help them grow in their personal and business life.

Some think that content curation is a brand-new concept, but it’s been around for many years. Where the information comes from has evolved, but the essence has not changed.

Zig Ziglar said it best: “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

You can’t go wrong with that kind of philosophy.

How to Get More Done with the Elimination Technique

Most of us are familiar with the infamous “to do” list.

We dutifully populate the list with task after task that needs to get done. But we’re never sure where to start. There are only so many hours in a day, and all the tasks need to get done. We can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, and even if we stayed awake 24 hours, we wouldn’t be able to finish all the tasks on our list.

When faced with this dilemma, most of us are ready to tear up the task list and just wing it. A better option might be to use the Elimination Technique instead. What is the Elimination Technique? It’s a method to help narrow your focus. It starts with a series of questions to ask to begin eliminating options to get to what is most important.

Take a look at your current task list and ask the following questions:

  • What tasks take more time than I have available?
  • Are there tasks that don’t have to be done today?
  • Are there tasks that can be automated?
  • What tasks can be delegated to someone else?

Your task list should now be shortened. Reduce your list further by asking these questions:

  • What tasks are most important for this day to be considered a success?
  • What tasks don’t generate results that move you along your major goals?
  • What tasks are required to move forward with a project?
  • What tasks don’t facilitate some sort of growth, profit, or sales?

Your goal is to eliminate as many of the non-essential tasks as possible. Remember that the goal is to narrow your focus into a laser beam. By asking these questions, you should begin to see which tasks are truly important and must be prioritized and which tasks can be pushed down the list or better yet simply eliminated from your day. Less is more in this case.

For some, eliminating tasks may feel painful. We live in a society that seems to be constantly on the go. A long to do list must equal someone of substance. But having lots of activity doesn’t necessarily lead to fulfillment. Some struggle with the concept of elimination because there may be a sense of loss. (If I don’t do it, it will never get done.) But if all that extra non-essential activity gets in the way of doing what is most important, wouldn’t it be better for it to be eliminated?

Start today by ruthlessly eliminating tasks so you can reveal to yourself the truly important things in your life. With elimination comes focus. With focus comes efficiency. Efficiency leads to doing more while actually working less. Working less allows you to enjoy more freedom to accomplish what gives you real fulfillment and happiness in life.

Four Tips to STOP Wasting Time

Productivity and time management go hand in hand. If you’re feeling inefficient, STOP and give this quick four-step method a try.
See your objectives clearly. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you possibly know the best way to get there? Take a few minutes to identify your goal and the steps you must take to reach it.

Target the issues you’re facing and the reasons behind what you’re doing. Analyze your current course of action to determine if it’s the most efficient and effective way to reach your goal.

Organize your options. Ask yourself if there are any faster but equally effective ways you could be doing what you’re doing. Even seemingly small things can make a big impact on your efficiency.

Plan your work — and work your plan. Start to put the things you uncovered in the previous steps into action. You might be surprised just how much more productive — and happy — you feel.

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.

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