Getting Creative at Work May Be the Best Use of Your Time Today

Getting Creative at Work May Be the Best Use of Your Time TodayBetter. Faster. Cheaper.

Those are the siren calls of managers today — always on the lookout for ways to make their workers more productive.

What if you discovered that your teams would actually gain productivity by taking the time out of their day to be creative? While carving out time for creativity may feel like a waste of time upfront, you may be surprised to find that the results of making this space will be far-reaching. The daily grind and immediate needs of others don’t leave a lot of time for thinking outside the box, but you’ll see that scheduling time for creativity is a critical ingredient for high-performing individuals and teams.

Small Investment, Big Rewards

Getting creative doesn’t mean you need to pull out the fingerpaints and scissors in your common room.

It just means that you should offer your team members a variety of ways to choose their own path when it comes to specific tasks, brainstorm new ideas (and implement them!) or look for ways to help others. Taking as little as 90 minutes every week two weeks gives people the time and space to unleash their great ideas and helps them work smarter — not harder. This small investment can pay off with big rewards. Even if you don’t implement every idea, your team will be excited to get together and share their thoughts and suggestions and know that they’re being actively listened to.

Creativity Takes Many Forms

Brainstorming is an easy way to build camaraderie within a team and also generate some amazing ideas, but what are some other ways to bring creativity into the workplace?

These tips can help you get started on a productive time together.

  • Create effective work groups. It’s important to ensure that your teams are well-balanced when creativity is your goal. If you have one individual who tends to overpower the conversation, it can be tough for others to join in on the fun.
  • Make it challenging. Consider asking your teams to solve a unique challenge — maybe one that’s not even related to your current situation, but designed to help people come together around a common goal.
  • Give them space. Not physical space, mental space! If individuals are so concerned about daily tasks that they’re unable to devote the mental capacity to the project, you’re not going to reap the benefit you might expect.
  • Allow freedom to choose. If you’re offering a specific work opportunity that needs to be overcome, don’t get too tied down in the details of how it needs to happen. Ask that teams consider the “Blue Sky” approach, where there are no boundaries, no limitations (systems or individuals) and just go for it. The sky’s the limit!

Perhaps the most important thing to remind your teams going into a creative space is that all judgment should be suspended.

There are no bad ideas. Every individual deserves to have their idea or direction fully listened to. Don’t evaluate ideas before their time or you will interrupt the flow of information that is what brings true creativity to light. After a few sessions, you may be surprised to find that your teams are excited — and not reluctant — to join in on the fun.

With luck, this openness, creativity, and conversation will begin to flow throughout your teams on a more regular basis. As people come to realize that others will listen, they are more likely to share without fear. Let your creativity free and reap the rewards!

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Print is Alive and Well

Is Your Phone a Part of Your Body?

This may not be far from the truth! Recent research found that the average person reaches for their smartphone 150 times a day, including e-mails, calls, photos, messaging, or checking the time.

This begs a crucial question. In terms of modern day marketing, does this rise in digital dominance erase the power of print? Not a chance!

Hard Copy Rules

Naomi Baron, author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, surveyed university students worldwide and came to a profound conclusion: young people have a near-universal preference for print.

When given a choice of various media – including hard copy, phones, tablets, or laptops – 92 percent said they could concentrate best on hard copy.

Respondents said drawbacks of digital media included distraction, eye strain, physical discomfort, while hard copy benefits included stronger visual memory, an increased desire to “re-read,” and sensory connection enabling one to touch, experience, and “keep” printed materials. Baron said that in the Slovakian respondent data, one out of TEN mentioned smell. “There really is a physical, tactile, kinesthetic component to reading.”

Don’t Forget the Fun

Looking to draw attention back to print marketing but need some inspiration to get you started?

Print comes alive through color and texture, but also through humor. Here are a few spunky print ads that helped restore our faith in the creativity of the medium in 2017:

Snowbird Ski Resorts.

Snowbird was looking to overcome its ho-hum ski magazine campaign with something different. Cloaking its sales pitch in sarcasm, Snowbird featured one-star reviews from complaining customers.

“Too advanced,” read one review. “I’d heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!”

Snowbird’s agency hand-picked reviews that would tantalize hardcore athletes to give the resort a try. “We’re known for our steep terrain, long runs, and deep snow,” said Snowbird marketing director David Amirault. “Beginner skiers and snowboarders . . . often find this a challenge. However, for our core guest, it’s what makes them come back year after year.”

Creative campaigns like this will definitely keep print marketing fans coming back as well!

Burger King.

One audacious print campaign was Burger King’s “Burning Stores,” which showed actual BK restaurants on fire with the headline “Flame grilled since 1954.”

Showcasing one of its worst moments was ridiculously brave, tying BK’s “flame-grilling” service near a flame-grilled franchise in a shocking, hilarious graphic. “Burning Stores” reminded us that engaging modern audiences includes a willingness to be vulnerable. Grey Africa’s Fran Luckin, chair of the Print & Publishing jury at Cannes, called “Burning Stores” the ideal print ads for a social media age:

“We’ve got a brand being brave enough to be authentic,” she said. “It’s a move away from having every single piece of print communication be so carefully crafted and put out there as an official announcement. There’s a sense here of being more playful, more authentic, a sense that you can be a little bit more edgy in your communication.”

Luckin reminded content producers that it’s ok for companies to laugh:

“I once heard a Coca-Cola executive use the work ‘flawsome,’ which I loved. In the social media age, where people can find out information about your brand quite easily, you have to be a little bit more real. You embrace your imperfections. You have more of a sense of humor about your corporate image. [Burger King] is a brand that’s brave enough to stick its tongue in its cheek and be a little bit young again.”

Our Website Has Changed to Serve You Better!

The next time you visit our website, you might think you’ve gone to the wrong place! But don’t let our fresh, new look fool you: we’re still the same Print Odyssey you’ve grown to trust for your printing projects.


FROM DESIGN TO DELIVERY, WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED

We’ve updated our website to help us continue to meet your needs, better than you’re already accustomed to! We’ve also added or improved the following features to make your print-buying experiences more convenient, from design to delivery:

  • Review and comment on proofs day or night
  • Send files at any time with our secure file transfer tools, with no size restrictions. Add them to an existing order or send the file to get a new order started.
  • Create and edit accounts for everybody in your organization, group them by department, and even set up an order approval process to help your managers protect their budgets
  • We can rebrand our website to fit in with your company’s intranet, so your employees can order business cards and stationery and feel right at home
  • Get a complete price for your order, including shipping and taxes, and even pay for it on the spot.
  • Skip estimating altogether with a collection of products exclusively for your organization, designed to specification and ready to order
  • Ensure accuracy with our specialized documents that produce your proof AS YOU TYPE!
  • Catch formatting errors in your source files right away and prevent production delays using our new FastTrack utility
  • Start your project with the correct dimensions, including the correct crops and bleeds, with our helpful templates
  • Produce professional-quality business cards, letterhead, and more with our massive collection of live templates. No design experience required!
  • Get answers to all of the most common questions our customers have, at any time. Our Help Center is always open!


A WEALTH OF RESOURCES

Our new website also has general-purpose content that can help you be more effective at work and home, with helpful tips on marketing, technology, and the printing industry. Check these out:


We hope you’re as excited as we are about all of the benefits you’ll get from working with our new website. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know, and be sure to visit us at positiveprinters.com  

Printed Banners Work Wonders for Upcoming Events

Promoting your event in your community without a large budget can feel like an overwhelming task.

While there are plenty of things that you can do with unlimited budgets such as billboards, printed mailings or even postcards, the larger items can be costly and mailings take a bit longer than you may have to publicize your upcoming event.

As a community events coordinator for the local YMCA, Danny L. knew that he needed suggestions for his frequent activities that would bring in additional funds for local groups without breaking the bank.

Raising Awareness (and Dollars!)

From fundraisers for local families experiencing medical challenges to Daddy/Daughter dances at the “Y”, there is no end to the number of events in the community on a monthly basis.

The YMCA has a long history of supporting the community by offering reduced-cost monthly fees and other support mechanisms. However, they are not able to financially support the needs of these worthy groups for promotion in any meaningful way. Instead, any promotional dollars would need to come from the group — and they are generally running on an incredibly tight budget that makes advertising difficult. The tremendous good that is done on a daily and weekly basis through community walks or 5k runs, pancake breakfasts and other fundraisers is significant, but without publicity, the scope of these events is very limited.

Go Where the People Are

Danny realized while looking at a yard sale sign on a busy corner one day that there was a better way to get out the word on upcoming events — banners!

He tested his theory and had an inexpensive banner printed for an upcoming event. He then asked people who attended the event how they learned about it. Surprisingly, quite a few mentioned that the banner prompted them to drop in for a few moments and make a donation! Ever since that time, Danny has been using large printed banners placed in strategic locations throughout the city to drive traffic and interest in upcoming events. He found that placing them approximately two weeks before the event worked best, as people were able to plan ahead to visit, and then also were reminded to come closer to the event.

Creating the banner was very straightforward, and involved Danny sketching out the times and dates as well as a quick call to action that described the event. He found that there was only a little information that could be placed on the banner without it becoming overwhelming for people to read. Let us help you create a banner for your upcoming event today!

The Communication of Change

Keys to Meaningful Change

The oil crises of the 1970s rocked many industry giants, including the transportation industry.

In 1981, British Airways was reeling from massive financial losses and a reputation for terrible service. Nearing meltdown, the airline brought on a new chairperson, Lord King, who quickly spotlighted three areas where the company was operating inefficiently: careless spending, disorganized staffing, and inadequate communication. King’s leadership quickly produced results. After only ten years, the company became the largest airline in the UK, reporting the highest profits in its industry ($284 million, to be exact!).

What was the key to this turnaround?

Large-scale organizational change. King made major structure changes, including a reduced workforce (from 59,000 to 39,000), elimination of unprofitable routes, modernization of the existing fleet, and marketing upgrades to revamp the airline’s image.

Did King make these massive changes by crossing his fingers and wishing for the best? Hardly. British Airlines combined accurate research with a clear strategy that informed their decisions and overcame resistance.

Discontentment: The Shadow Side of Success

One thing King had in his favor was discontentment, which was at an all-time high.

While many of us believe contentment is key to a happy life, sometimes pain (including frustration with “business as usual”), is a gateway to greater fulfillment. Experts find that a shadow side of successful people is this common personality trait: they struggle with perpetual discontentment. Forbes columnist Brianna Weist says this:

“There is a difference between people who are content and people who are successful, and it is because the latter push themselves whereas the former tries to sustain the status quo. Without a certain measure of growth or expansion, the human mind gets bored, or tired. This will, eventually, lead to a tipping point at which the content person becomes discontent… and then change is made.”

Change as a Formula

Pain moves us: to make radical shifts, to take risks we wouldn’t otherwise consider, and to get the full potential out of life.

Dissatisfaction, combined with a skill set and action plan, can be the most essential agent for change. But far-reaching change can be tricky to maneuver, requiring precise timing and a thoughtful strategy.

Organizational change experts David Gleicher and Kathie Dannemiller coached change strategists with a model that looks something like this:

  • If change were a formula, it is this: “D * V * PF > R” (Dissatisfaction * Vision * Preferred Future > Resistance)
  • Dissatisfaction paired with a vision for a preferred future motivates people to overcome resistance to change.
  • To catalyze change, an idea or product must possess a clear path for a breakthrough while fanning the flame of frustration with the current state of being. If the product of those three factors is greater than the existing resistance, change will occur.

What This Means For Your Business

It means you can relax, even when people are unhappy!

Intentionally listen to your employees and customers and consider rising frustration as the first step to positive change. Use the change model to evaluate whether the time is right to communicate early steps towards meaningful shifts. Find healthy networks or professional development opportunities where you can reflect on industry trends, process leadership ideas, and analyze competitors to identify areas of opportunity.

Finally, cut yourself some slack if you feel irritated with your own areas of personal frustration. Great futures can come from great pain, so allow your dissatisfaction to chart a course toward exciting new destinations. You’ve got this!

Takeout Menus: Functional and Promotional

Most restaurant owners know that their menu is one of their top selling tools.

While this may surprise the average consumer, restaurant managers often use their menu to upsell pricey items such as appetizers, drinks, and side items. The placement of each item within the menu is of the utmost importance, and even small changes can cause a jump in sales of ten percent or greater — or a similar-sized drop in sales if item placement doesn’t work for buyers!

Printed takeout menus are still one of the best printed promotional tools that restaurants can use. Consumers are more interested in ordering food ahead of time for takeout, and having a menu visible when hunger hits really boosts your brand to the top of your consumer’s mind. See how takeout menus are one of the most functional and valuable tools for your restaurant business.

Strategically Situated Items

Restaurant menus are highly tailored, and often tweaked multiple times a year by consultants or managers to ensure that consumers are selecting items that are the most profitable and pleasing to their tastes.

If a menu isn’t easy to read, consumers can become confused and take additional time before placing their order, which may lead them to look elsewhere. Guests are easily confused and overwhelmed when there are too many choices presented. Restaurants often try to limit their choices to a maximum of seven options per food segment to reduce the chance that people will default to a known option that may be less expensive.

Shifting Consumer Habits

Rachel V. noticed that her restaurant was gaining significantly higher dollars from takeout orders than at any time in the past.

In order to capitalize on this trend, Rachel decided to work with her local print shop to create a friendly takeout menu that highlighted a variety of their in-house favorites that were less likely to lose quality if they were boxed and transported elsewhere.

While customers were welcome to order anything on the main restaurant’s menu for takeout, the items the team added to the takeout menu were the “recommended” options. Rachel decided that not only could she use the menu as a functional piece that listed their phone number to call ahead for orders and the appetizers and entrees that they offered, but also as a promotional vehicle to offer seasonal discounts and special deals.

Smart Menu Design

Rachel knew that creating a takeout menu with enough food variety to interest her clientele was important.

With the limited amount of space available on the printed takeout menu, Rachel decided to leverage the space by putting visual cues around the most expensive items. This served to set these foods apart and draw the eye with small pockets of negative space.

She also decided to get a little creative with the descriptions of the food that she added to the menu. Oddly enough, she soon noticed that these menus were drawing in new customers — customers who were purchasing some of the higher-priced options that her traditional visitors were not necessarily drawn to.

As time went on, Rachel continued playing with the options that were on her restaurant’s takeout menu. Seasonal favorites were added, coupons made an appearance, and special items were a high point for returning customers who valued the convenience of being able to order their food ahead of time. The small print runs offered by her local print shop allowed her the flexibility that she needed to test, adjust and test again!

Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 3)

In the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But no matter how glamorous the graphics, they simply cannot stand alone. (Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto, right?) Today, we’re looking at part three of this question: How do you write exceptional copy? Content that commands attention, arouses interest, or compels people to action? Last week, we discussed slogans and sensory appeal. Today we’ll consider one final, fun technique.

4. Jaw-Dropping Surprises

Remember the “no way!” stunner at the end of The Usual Suspects? Kevin Spacey shakes off his signature limp and strides to freedom as his police interrogator gradually realizes Spacey is a mastermind killer who lied brilliantly for hours. Or remember how your jaw dropped when Darth Vader revealed he was Luke’s father? While these movie plots were phenomenal, the surprise factor was what drove them home.

That same principle applies in writing. As Chip and Dan Heath discuss in their book “Made to Stick,” our brains filter out consistency to focus on differences. Marketing “surprises” may include splashy headlines, shocking graphics that bring your message to life, or a story that encapsulates a core message.

In 2009, copywriter James Chartrand of a prominent website design company “Men with Pens,” dropped a bombshell on the writing world with this plot twist:

“Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants.”

Chartrand went on to reveal that SHE was actually a (literal) woman, a woman who had previously struggled as a freelance writer and single mom. As she labored to gain credibility, she decided to experiment with a male pseudonym, and quickly found her blog in Micheal Stelzner’s list of the Top Ten Blogs for Writers. Chartrand’s biography post was brilliant, authentic, and fun. But the surprise factor (that “he” was really a “she”) was the kicker that kept people talking about the company for years.

While you may not be able to drop a bombshell in all your copy, you can upend reader expectations in three other ways:

First, break the norm whenever you can. Offer unconventional advice, provide simple techniques or little-known shortcuts, or use angles you would normally avoid (like blatant typos in upscale literary magazines like we mentioned in part one). In life, and especially in art, people crave the unexpected. Surprise people consistently and you will be rewarded!

Second, defy expectations. Writers can do this is with odd pairings or disrupted patterns. For example, serene words like spa, relax, and peace can be disrupted by words like devastate or scandalize. Avoid traditional clichés (knight in shining armor, white as snow) in favor of words that overhaul expectations. A spa ad could feature odd word combinations like scandalizing serenity, gluttonous, self-gratification, or services that are devastatingly delicious. Surprise them as you shatter clichés or use tonal dissonance that is abrasive to the ears.

Finally, build a logical flow and then intentionally disrupt it. Check out these “surprise factor” car advertisements that perfectly illustrate the point. A romance spoiled. A hero thwarted. Ridiculous ideas grab us as things are placed out of context (like dogs driving a car). As you watch these clips, consider what you thought was going to happen versus what actually happened. Pay attention to the emotion you experienced when the surprise was unveiled. Did you enjoy it? Of course you did! And you’ll remember it longer as a result.

Whether it’s a plot twist, shattered clichés, or unexpected humor, readers crave fresh content and they will thank you for providing it. Now go create some surprises of your own!

4 Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 1)

In the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But where would vibrant graphics or sensational social media campaigns be without dynamic copy? Nowhere! Like Batman without Robin, like brawn with no brains, hard copy is fundamental to your success.

So, how do you write content that commands attention? How do you write copy that moves a reader and compels them to action? In this three-part series, you’ll discover four practical strategies for writing fun, dynamic, and memorable content.

1. Matching the Media and the Message

L.L. Bean is an outdoor clothing and recreational equipment retailer with this brand message: the outside is in everything we make. L.L. Bean believes the more time spent outside together the better, and they design products to enhance that experience. In one of 2017’s most intriguing print campaigns, L.L. Bean brought its “Outsider” concept to life with a print ad that could only be read outdoors. The copy, if read indoors, appeared almost blank except for these words sprinkled across the page: “Just bring this outside.” Readers who complied saw the full text emerge (thanks to photochromic ink, which changes color after exposure to sunlight) to reveal a full ad looking something like this:

“Welcome to the outside

Where there are no strangers

Where days have names like beach, snow, and bluebird

Where the smell of the campfire means you’re in the right place

You don’t need a passport to come here, an invitation to play here, or a membership to belong here

Just step outside your door and you’ve arrived . . .

It doesn’t matter where you come from

Only that you come here often

Wherever you are, join us

Because on the inside, we’re all outsiders

And if it’s outside, we’re in.”

The text concluded with an L.L. Bean logo emblazoned across the bottom, and the “Outside” brand experience was one a reader could never forget!

Another memorable media and message combo was produced by Kentucky for Kentucky, the organization that unofficially promotes the state of Kentucky. This group placed a hilarious full-page adin Oxford American with a brazen typo at the top:

“We speak you’re language.”

The accompanying copy explained: “We know. It’s ‘your’ not ‘you’re.’ We just figured that a typo would be the best way for our ad to stand out in a fine publication like Oxford American magazine. But nice catch anyway, William Faulkner.”

Oxford American, a quarterly literary magazine dedicated to featuring the best of Southern writing, was an iconic medium for this downhome message. Kentucky for Kentucky’s brand identity (irreverence and a commitment to upending traditional Kentucky stereotypes) preached volumes through this boorish grammar breach, drawing attention like a straight-up ad never would. Kentucky for Kentucky partner Whit Hiler was pleased with the result: “I think typos can be a good thing . . . It’s so perfect for that particular magazine.”

Looking for more inspiration to up your creativity quotient? Join us again soon for examples, tricks, and tips to kick your content into high gear.