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6 Rules to Make Anyone Better at Writing Content

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content

 

general-copywriters-warning

  1. Focus on the customer

When potential customers read content, in the back of their mind a little voice is asking, “What’s in it for me?” Always be answering that question with your copy.

 

Wondering how you can talk about your business and your customers at the same time? It’s simple—tie it back to them. Pair statements about your company with why the reader should care. See below for examples of content that is self-serving, versus content that focuses on the customer:

 

Bad: We offer flexible hours of service and custom package pricing.

Good: We offer flexible hours to fit your schedule, and custom pricing for your unique needs.

 

See what I did there? I mentioned a fact about my hypothetical business, but it’s a fact that adds real value. Which leads me to my next point:

 

  1. Keep it benefit focused

Most businesses tend to be feature focused. But if you stay benefit-focused, you’ll set your company apart. This is how you answer the “What’s in it for me?” question. An easy way to do this is to think of a feature first, and then ask what benefit that feature brings to your customers.

 

Let’s say you’re a formal menswear retailer with fashion experts and tailors on hand at all times. The benefit is that your customers have access to the expertise they need to get the perfect product. Emphasize the latter.

 

  1. Be human

Whether you market to consumers or other businesses, you’ve got to make a connection with the reader. Do this by being human. It doesn’t mean you have to be super casual, funny or over the top. It simply means dropping the industry jargon and being relatable. People buy from those they trust. If you sound like a cyborg, you won’t fall into that category.

 

  1. Keep it short and sweet

Don’t say in ten words what you can in four. Don’t drone on forever.

 

  1. Have a strong Call to Action

Calls to Action are what you ask the reader to do. Want them to call? Email? Sign Up? You’ve got to tell them. Leaving them without a CTA is like ushering them out the door.

 

  1. Engage, engage, engage

Engagement means creating a dialog between you and your customers. Whether on social media, blog posts, or your website, dialog give you real time insights into how customers are feeling and builds relationships with them.

 

Rules for good engagement are similar to that of good small talk. Don’t ask questions that bring your conversation to a screeching halt (this largely means avoiding “yes or no” questions).

 

Let’s say you’re a campaign manager for a local politician running for office, and you’ve just written a blog. Below are an example of good vs. bad engagement.

 

Bad: Were you happy with the last Mayor’s term?

Good: What did you like the most about the last Mayor’s term? What would you like to see done differently?

Note: If you’re going to ask people to engage, be ready to follow up when they do.

 

 

Want more resources on writing content for your business? Check out this blog post to see what kind of content turns prospects into customers, and customers into lifelong advocates.

What questions do you have about content that we may have skipped over? Ask us in the comments below!

Understanding Font Types

When creating type in applications designed for print—for example, Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop—there are three types of fonts that you can use:

PostScript Type 1. This is the font format developed originally by Adobe as a proprietary format but now published. PostScript Type 1 fonts are stored as two files: The scalable outlines are stored in one, and fixed-size bitmaps for the screen and metric information in the other. This format is an older format used by graphics professionals and is available from all font developers. In the illustration below, a font family, Adobe Caslon, has four styles—regular, italic, semibold and semibold italic. The bitmaps are stored in the FFIL file; the outlines are labeled LWFN.

TrueType. This font format is most popular with general computer users and is also available from all font makers. The font outlines and metrics are stored in a single file.

OpenType. This is the newest font format, which overcomes some of the limitations of PostScript and TrueType fonts. Adobe and Microsoft developed this format originally, but OpenType fonts are now being released by virtually all font vendors.

The font family shown below are OpenType fonts (hence, the extension is .otf). In an OpenType font, one font file stores all the information for the font. One of the advantages of the OpenType format is that it can be used cross-platform. That is, the same file works on both Macintosh and Windows computers.

Font Types 2

When fonts are viewed in the Adobe Creative Suite applications designed for print the applications display a font menu which gives the option of previewing the appearance of the font. In Adobe InDesign, you can also see what the font type is. In the illustration below, “O” indicates an OpenType font; “TT” is a TrueType font; and “a” is a PostScript Type 1 font. The sample of the font is shown on the right.

Font Types 3

Boost Your Small Business Marketing by Repurposing Your Website

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As a small business owner, time is one thing you don’t have just laying around. You need all the secrets to saving resources and money you can get, especially when it comes to important but time consuming aspects like content.

Great content can change the way customers perceive your brand, engage with you, and purchase. But for many small business owners this seems overwhelming. That’s why we’ve pulled together some of our best secrets for repurposing content you already have to better market your business. In this article, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create reusable content
  • Repurpose website content for blogs, emails, direct mail and more
  • Get multiple social posts out of one piece of content
  • Drive customer engagement with content across multiple channels

Learn more about repurposing your content.

Missing Fonts in Adobe Applications

We began a discussion of fonts for printing with this blog posting, where we talked about the different kinds of fonts that can be used for printing.

Most experienced creative professionals would probably agree that working with fonts could be one of the most problematic issues in working with graphics applications. There are a couple reasons for this:

• It’s common to have multiple fonts with similar names, which can get mixed up or be open simultaneously. If you choose the wrong font, type can reflow, or an incorrect character can appear.

• Until the advent of OpenType fonts, the file formats and character sets of Macintosh and Windows fonts differed. This would cause problems if you wanted to share your file with someone working on the other platform.

When fonts are discovered to be missing when an Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator is opening, you’ll get a dialog (this is the one from Adobe InDesign).

You are given the opportunity to open the correct font on your computer and the problem will be resolved. If you’re not sure what font is missing, both InDesign and Illustrator have Find Font dialog boxes that give you more information and let you choose a substitute font.

Missing fonts 2

Adobe InDesign gives you the best information. It tells you what type of font is missing. If you click the More Info button (bottom right in the dialog), you can get more information about the font. If you use the Find First, Change, Change All and Change/Find buttons you can either observe the missing font and/or replace it.

InDesign also highlight,ts missing fonts by showing them with a pink background to make it easier to see where they are in your text.

Measuring Marketing Success for a Small Business

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Measuring_Marketing_Success_HEADER_11022016Small businesses depend on marketing just as much as large businesses, maybe even more – even when they’ve become a household name in their local area. How do you track marketing success? How do you get insight from marketing failures? This is a challenge for every business, but it can especially daunting for a small business that can’t afford to hire marketing specialists.

Here are some tips for getting small businesses marketing plans running smoothly, and providing you with real metrics that drive results.

Learn What to Calculate and Why

Before you can dig into figuring out how to grade your marketing performance, you have to know what to measure and why. At the end of the day, the only number that matters is cash – how much sweet, sweet revenue did you make? But marketing metrics can tell you a lot more about the health of your business, and sometimes the numbers aren’t as straightforward as you think. Dive into this alphabet soup and see what you should be monitoring.

LTV. Life time value – this is how much money you earn from an average customer over the course of their entire business cycle with you. Do you have repeat customers? Ongoing subscription plans? How long do these customers, on average, keeping coming back? Crunch the numbers and figure out how much you make from a customer over their lifetime.

CAC. Customer Acquisition Cost – or CAC – is one of the most important metrics to track. It is easy to calculate too, just add up all of your marketing expenses over a time period including salaries and overhead, and divide it by how many new customers you acquired. Compare your CAC to your LTV – the LTV should be at least 3x higher for successful marketing. For example, if you spend $100 to acquire a customer, but on average they spend $500 with you – that’s some great marketing.

NPS. Net promoter score – this is a measure of how willing your customers are to talk about and promote your business. This number can be negative – that’s really terrible. If your NPS is above 50% you are doing an amazing job. Most companies have an NPS score of around 25-30%. Here is some advice on calculating your NPS score.

Digital Engagement. This category covers different scores such as time on page (how long a customer stays on your page), to email open rates, to clicks on paid click ads. This is an easy way to measure if people are using your website, opening your email, or clicking your offers. If you are doing digital marketing (and you should!) the tools you use should provide ways to monitor digital engagement.

Attribution. Attribution measures how much a specific touch, ad, email or direct mail send moved the customer closer to buying. Attribution is incredibly hard to measure and everyone seems to have a different opinion on how it works. Despite that, it is important that you try to calculate it because even the attempt at figuring out your attribution will help you. Soon you’ll be thinking about your marketing efforts in different terms. Here is some info on measuring first and last touch marketing attribution.

Of course there are a lot more metrics you can target but these will get you started.

Start With Digital Marketing

Digital marketing includes a range of tactics, from posting to your blog to advertising on Facebook. Though each of these options are very different, they all make tracking real-time engagement easy.

There is a giant pile of tools, solutions, and apps out there that can help a small business track marketing efforts. For a small business just getting started with tracking their marketing, digital channels make it easy to dive in and start doing the math. Start with these tools:

  • Mailchimp is the gold standard in free and low-cost email marketing platforms. They offer easy to use reporting tools for email campaigns and great technical support, how-to guides, and forums.
  • Google Analytics is used by just about every company with a website to track every possible metric for a website. Large marketing teams will have specialists dedicated just to this program, but you can still learn how to use its basic features and they will be enough to give you insights into digital marketing.
  • Hubspot has great, free resources for all things marketing related, check out their Excel templates for tracking marketing metrics.
  • Built in tools for social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite and more offer ways to monitor your clicks, tweets,

Keep Records Updated

Keep your records accurate. Update all of your metrics at least once a month and if you can, use a tool to help you automate your marketing reports. Enterprise level marketing automation programs may be out of your reach, but with some clever spreadsheets and elbow grease, you can keep accurate data throughout the year.

Compare your results to your marketing plan, but don’t be afraid to change your idea of success. Maybe you’re falling behind on revenue goals, obviously that isn’t good. But what if you find social media efforts are paying off and you’re adding new followers? Should you stop putting money and effort into Twitter? It may make more sense to test ways to make Twitter a revenue generator.

Keeping accurate, timely records won’t just show you where you’re failing, but where you’re succeeding behind your own back.

Weight and Score Your Touches

In a typical campaign you may send a customer an email, a coupon in the mail, and then send them a Facebook ad if they’ve followed you. You should weight and score each of these send. How you do this is more art than science, and will change as you do more and more marketing. In this example, you could weight the email as being cheap, fast, and easy to duplicate.

If people are responding it it really well, clicking through and reading the site you direct them to, then you can score it highly. The direct mail coupon is going to be expensive compared to the email, but maybe not as expensive a Facebook ad. Measure these differences and give yourself a scoring system that works.

End with a Digital Strategy

There is a whole world of marketing outside of digital channels, and they’re often way more expensive than sending an email or paying for a Facebook ad. They’re also harder to track, but driving customers back online leverages the power of digital reporting. Big companies pay big bucks for special software to get this sort of functionality, but you can mimic these tools by making your calls to action point back online.

If you use a printed piece to advertise your business, make the call to action feature your URL. If you send coupons, make them redeemable online. Use unique coupon codes to tag and track where your customers are coming from.

There are plenty of online resources to help you learn more about marketing, reporting, and metrics. They’re complimented by tools that can help you build reports. They can give you clear, actionable insight into your marketing. They help you learn from success and failure.

Printing at the Right Size from a PDF File

A common complaint when printing from Adobe Reader or Acrobat is that the page is not the right size. Often you find that when you print your pages to your desktop printer they have gotten smaller.

This is an easy problem to solve. You just need to look closely at the choices in the Print dialog of Adobe Reader or Acrobat.

The dialog boxes will look different depending on what version of Reader or Acrobat you’re using. Here is how the Print dialog (File > Print) looks in the current version of Reader 10.1.3 (as of July 2012). Notice that it defaults to Shrink to Page. You just need to switch to Actual Size.

The dialog looks different in Acrobat or Reader 9. Here you need to choose None (meaning “no scaling”) if you want to print at actual size. It defaults to Shrink to Printable Area.

3 Tips for Creating a Stellar Menu

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Menu_header_11152016 (2)

A menu is the only form of advertising that is guaranteed to be seen by your customers. If you’re reading this, you aren’t willing to settle for any ordinary menu. And why should you? With a large variety of paper stocks and custom printing effects available, you don’t have to succumb to standard ink and paper.  Take charge of your menu.  Create a memorable and impactful piece that grabs your customer’s attention. Interested?  Check out our insider’s tips below.

Know How to Fold Your Menu

Seriously? Fold my menu? Is this really your tip? Yes! Folding your menu is actually important! It reduces the size of a menu without compromising the space for messaging. Physically smaller menus are easier to maneuver in crowded restaurants. Folds create small sub-sections within your general menu. Creating a separate panel for appetizers, entrees and desserts draws attention to the fact that your customer may want a starter, main dish and after dinner treat. Folds can be used to steer your customer’s attention in the direction you want. A compact, well designed menu helps your customer navigate through your offerings.

Expert Advice:  Consider the placement of your text and photos when you are designing your menu template. Don’t place text or entrée images over a fold because they will be hard to read.

Standard Folding Options

Half-Fold Menus

A half-fold is a single sheet menu printed on both sides and folded into half. Perfect for menus with two categories such as appetizers and entrées.  You can easily separate your menu into two sections while keeping a front and back cover for your company logo and information.

Half_Fold (2)

Tri-Fold Menus

A tri-fold menu is a single sheet of paper printed on both sides and folded into thirds. They are perfect for a large menu or a menu that offers variety. Tri-folds allow several panels for multiple categories such as breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

Tri-Fold (1)

Don’t Forget Custom Printing Effects

Special Effects encourage your customers to interact with your menu.  They draw your customer in and leave them with a lasting impression about your premium establishment and menu options. Wondering what effect will give your menu the biggest impact? The answer depends what you’re trying to achieve.

Here’s the Skinny:

  Spot UV

  • Use Spot UV to draw your customers attention to a particular item on your menu such as your world famous cheesecake.
  • Gives an image or text contrast so it pops off the paper.  Text or images with Spot UV catch your eye when a menu is tipped back and forth.

  Foil Stamping

  • Adds shimmer and texture to help highlight a specific word or image.
  • For an example, make your business logo stand out with foil stamping.

  Metallic Inks

  •  Special inks with reflective metallic particles.  Metallic inks create a subtle shine and luster you won’t see with standard inks.
  •  Use metallic inks to highlight your company name.  Make menu text pop by using silver ink on a black paper stock.

 Embossing

  •  Creates a raised, three dimensional image.
  •  Use embossing on your company logo to convey your premium market position.

  Die Cut

  •  Allows you to create a unique shape for your menu (Ex. wine bottle, hamburger or surfboard).
  •  A die cut can create a cut out, layered look or special image design on your menu.
  •  For an example, embossing a triangle with an image of a pizza slice helps customers make the unconcious connection between a shape (triangle) and your renowned deep dish pie.

Use SmartFlex® Paper For Tough Menus

Yes, it is a thing and yes, it does exist!  SmartFlex® synthetic paper is water, tear, stain and heat resistant.  It is durable and can withstand spills.   With SmartFlex® you will save time and money because you won’t have to keep printing your menu over and over.

SmartFlex looks and feels much better than lamination AND lasts much longer.

Sound amazing?  Well, it is!

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Keep Your Type Sharp

The power of your printed piece is usually conveyed most strongly through your type. If your type is sharp, it best communicates whatever message you want to send to your audience. Here are a few tips to make sure that your type remains crisp and sharp.

First, make sure you’re using the Type tool in whatever program you’re working in. If you are sending your applications files to your printer, use the Package feature (InDesign) or Collect for Output feature (QuarkXPress) if it’s available, to send your original fonts.

Don’t inadvertently rasterize (turn into pixels) the type. This softens the type, and it loses its crispness. The stair-stepping on the left letter indicates it has been rasterized.


If want to place type you’ve created in Photoshop into a program like InDesign, save it as a Photoshop PDF file. Unlike Photoshop PSD format, this keeps the sharp edges.

If you’re creating a PDF file, be sure to embed your fonts. If you’re using an Adobe application, or using a Macintosh, this usually happens automatically. If you’re using an older version of Microsoft products, you may need to look for the option to embed fonts.

If the fonts are not embedded, they may be substituted. The original font, Stone Sans, is shown above, and the substituted font, Adobe Serif MM, is shown below.

This Trick Will Make Your Print Marketing More Effective

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Personalize your print with Variable Data Printing

Marketing feels impossible in a world of infinite choices. Customers control the conversation, and even small and medium-sized businesses have to recognize and adapt to this new landscape. One thing remains constant, however, and smart marketing takes notice: everyone wants the VIP treatment. Creating relevant messages for targeted audiences is the crux of marketing, but without the proper toolkit, it can be a daunting task.

Spray and pray marketing is a waste. Sure, digital technology makes it easier to spray more and pray harder, but what’s the point? You want quality results from your marketing dollar (are you making at least $3 for every $1 you spend?) and customers don’t want to sift through junk. Maybe the answer is going old-school.

We love direct mail, and studies show that we aren’t alone. According to the USPS, 47% of Millennials happily check their mailbox each day. But they don’t want junk mail that goes into the garbage, 95% of them want the feel-good effect of getting personalized direct mail. If it appeals directly to you, it isn’t junk. Millennials are commanding a growing slice of US dollars and already control $600 billion a year in spending power. Here are some tips to get the message out to Millennials:

Personalize Your Print Marketing

Millennials value individuality. Personalization in direct mail is not a new concept, but it is an initiative that bears many unexplored possibilities. With services such as Variable Data Printing, businesses can intelligently personalize marketing with a startling amount of variables. Want to send different offers to people with blue eyes and brown eyes? Done. Want to change images on your print based on demographics? Easy. As long as there is data for it, anything can be changed with variable data.

Bridge the Gap Between Digital and Physical Channels

Of course, we’re fans of physical marketing, but we know digital marketing isn’t going anywhere. It offers ease of insight, it is nimble enough to react to changes in your market, and it is incredibly affordable. Closing the gap between digital and physical channels makes both more effective. In fact, you can bank on seeing a 7.9% lift in engagement when you bridge this gap. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Send a postcard with a coupon for items in an abandoned shopping cart
  • Send a mailer that includes only items the customer is likely to buy, based on their past buying behavior
  • Welcome kits tailored for specific customers
  • Send a gift card honoring a customer’s birthday, anniversary, etc.

Make Print Marketing Scream Quality

One thing that print does better than digital is delivering real, tangible quality. We’re paper, packaging, ink and color experts. We can tell the difference between 30# and 40# paper by sight, but even if you’re not a print expert, you know quality when you feel it. A high-end smartphone box feels expensive, well-made and flawless. Imagine the disconnect if your $1,000 smartphone came in a flimsy tissue paper box! That’s the power of print!

You don’t need the budget of a multi-billion dollar company to use personalized, targeted printing. At PFL, we use an innovative process to lower the cost of VDP so it is affordable for the rest of us. Give us a call, and we’ll help you find a solution that fits your budget, timeline, and goals.

Give us a call and see how we can bring extreme personalization to your print.



 

Troubleshooting Adobe Applications

A common problem in Adobe applications used for production (InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop) is when the program starts to behave strangely (for example, when panels disappear or don’t work correctly). There is a simple troubleshooting method that often solves the problem. It either involves holding down computer keys as you’re launching the program or deleting a file or folder.

Warning: You must be quick holding down the keys, and you will lose some application customizations you have made.

Here are some instructions for using this technique with each of these applications:

InDesign:

Quit the application. Launch InDesign and IMMEDIATELY hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift (Windows) or Command + Ctrl + Option + Shift (Macintosh). You’ll receive the prompt below. Choose Yes.

Alternatively, quit the program and search for and delete the “InDesign Defaults” and “InDesign Saved Data” files.

Illustrator:

Quit the application. Launch Illustrator and IMMEDIATELY hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift (Windows) or Command + Option + Shift (Macintosh). You’ll receive no prompt, and the program will open as usual.

Alternatively, quit the program and search for the “Adobe Illustrator [version] Settings” folder and delete it. Insert the version (for example, CS5) in the search string.

Photoshop:

Quit the application. Launch Photoshop and IMMEDIATELY hold down Ctrl + Alt + Shift (Windows) or Command + Option + Shift (Macintosh). You’ll receive the prompt below. Choose Yes.

Alternatively, quit the program and search for and delete the “Adobe Photoshop [version] Settings folder. Insert the version (for example, CS5) in the search string.

 

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