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Chatter Matters

When you choose a new book or movie, what influences your decision.

According to Nielsen, one of the most persuasive elements is a recommendation from your family and friends. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that, beyond the availability of a show or movie, the endorsement of others was the second biggest factor in their personal media selection.

Create Catalysts for Conversation

As social creatures, we trust the opinions of others. But did you know word-of-mouth marketing drives $6 trillion of annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales? That’s why word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is vital to your business success.

Traditionally, WOMM was spread from one person to another based on recommendations. But today, WOMM describes both targeted efforts and naturally occurring instances where users share their satisfaction with a brand. This means anything from print testimonials and oversized displays to live events and social media sharing can be used to get good gossip flowing.

But beyond great products and strong service, sometimes you need an extra catalyst to get people sharing. Unless a friend asks them for a recommendation, why would someone go out of their way to talk about your business? Because you made it so easy for them to do this! To be more intentional about sparking conversations, brainstorm how your brand can set up word-of-mouth “triggers.”

What is a Talk Trigger?

A talk trigger is a benefit, articulated with a story, that people will talk about when together. This means giving your customers something memorable, like an experience, thought, or feeling they rarely find elsewhere. Now people are almost forced to talk about you to others.

For the Cheesecake Factory, the talk trigger is its massive menu, which has hundreds of items and almost 6,000 words to describe them all. The menu didn’t just happen—it’s a strategic choice by the Cheesecake Factory that gets people talking. Marketing research shows that, due to the novelty of this product, 38% of Cheesecake Factory customers talked about the menu afterward being asked. The bizarre menu is a simple thing that encourages conversation and makes customers advocate for the brand.

Hosting an event? Don’t let opportunities for talk triggers pass you by! Perhaps you can host a “Meet the Speakers” reception, where featured guests also sign books, pose for selfies, and answer questions. Nothing is more “shareable” than an experience where guests are front-row participants.

Want to surprise and delight customers? When they register for an event or product, make the last question you ask something like, “what is your favorite kind of treat?” Give customers options like chocolate, flavored popcorn, or snack mixes and surprise them with a personalized, complimentary goodie when they come in for a service or an event.

Original, Unexpected, or Uniquely You

Every company can create a talk trigger – something remarkable, relevant to customers, and repeatable – so it can be offered consistently over time.

Need inspiration for creating your own talk triggers? Start by mapping the customer journey and identifying potential touchpoints or places for triggers. Then interview new customers and long-time loyalists to get their perspective on your brand. From here, have fun brainstorming! Create something original, unexpected, or uniquely you. What can you do that your clients don’t see coming? That’s how you get them talking

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Add Spice to Your Print Ads with Distinct, Arresting Images

In a world where digital advertising screams for attention, print ads need a little extra spice to compete.

Ads that evoke emotion, add humor, or spark curiosity have extra impact. Need inspiration? Here are three imaginative print campaigns to consider.

Opel: A Road Safety Campaign

Opel, a German automobile manufacturer, wanted to draw attention to the danger of texting while driving.  

Opel’s message is distinct because it uses nothing more than the black background and a short line of text that packs a big punch:

“Your typjng whille you drive is asbad as your drivinh whilr yoou typr.”

Sharp, memorable, and humorous, this ad immediately shows why texting driving is a bad idea. Opel paired this with gigantic black and white sidewalk banners of a person pushing a 7-meter-long baby stroller. The banners included this caption, highlighted in yellow:

“1 second on your phone are 7 meters on the street. Don’t text and drive.”

Vodol: Smelly and Simple

Did you know the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words?

With a picture, you convey much more than you can with words. In some cases, it can take a thousand words to describe what is displayed in one picture!

Whenever possible, use pictures that share concepts in striking, unusual ways. Vodol, one of Brazil’s best-known brands for preventing athlete’s foot and odor issues, nailed this strategy. Its print ad featured a foot with normal toes and arches, while a rounded nose took the place of the heel’s natural curve. The nostril – mashed into the ground – was accompanied by this caption:

“Protect your feet. And our noses.”

French Ministry of Health: Offend Others or Let a Bland Message “Melt” Away?

Print ads in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers who already have connections with that print advertising channel.

Looking to address childhood obesity and target behavior change, the French Ministry of Health created a print ad where a flesh-colored, triple-scoop ice cream cone was melting into the shape of a very large belly.

This arresting image, accompanied by the caption “obesity starts at a young age,” caused people everywhere to think twice about daily food choices. Sometimes a stark image is needed to grab attention, and in this case – with the number of obese people doubling in recent years – France was serious about getting its message across.

Strategic Design is Key

While each of these print ads each hold some shock value, they also carry a distinct, easy-to-understand message.

To create effective print ads, thoughtful design is essential. Because of its tactile nature and sensory impact, print offers a more curated approach than digital media. Use highly targeted content and distinct, powerful images to grab attention and compel engagement from your viewers.

And, as these ads demonstrate, simplicity is powerful. To go for more, sometimes what you really need is less.

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Customer Trust: The Backbone of Your Business

It’s a small world, after all.

Though global population continues to expand, our connectivity is growing even faster. In 2019, the number of internet users worldwide stood at 4.13 billion, which means more than half of the global population is connected to the world wide web. The percentage of US adults who use social media increased from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019. And experts estimate most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day.

While the internet is a lifeline, it has also exposed the misbehavior and greed of many of the pillars we count on, leading to a unique paradox: today, more people are connected and fewer are trusted.

The Benefits of Trust

In this vacuum of mistrust, marketers find themselves on one of three paths:

1 — Ignored

2 — Sneaking around

3 — Trusted

If you’re ignored, you can’t get far because you won’t earn much attention OR trust.

If you’re sneaky, you may gain followers, but not for long.

The third path – trust – is the only one that brings long-term benefits.

A trusted marketer earns loyalty by making promises, keeping them, and earning more loyalty. When the circumstances are right, that loyalty can become word-of-mouth recommendations or even tribal affiliation to your product or brand.

In a world that scans instead of reads, the best way to earn trust is through action. People remember what you did long after they forget what you said. When asked for a refund on a defective product, what do you do? When it comes to marketing, do your products hold up to the claims you make about them? When overloaded with new clients, do you put loyal customers on the back burner?

In a world of impersonal connections, you need to spend less time talking and more time doing: serving one customer at a time, day by day. Want to grow the currency of trust in your business? Consider options like these:

Improve Your Security

Make sure your customers feel safe when they shop with you.

Even if you aren’t selling your products online, customers will still visit your website, and the amount of safety they feel can play a significant role in how much they trust your brand.

Have a Strong Social Presence

People live online, and today many consumers equate a strong social media presence with relational authority.

The more active your brand’s social media pages are, the more likely it is that new customers will trust you. Equip your pages with striking images, company bio and contact info, and interactive content that meets customer needs. The higher your engagement, the deeper your relational roots will grow.

Under-promise and Over-deliver

Any time a customer feels deceived or manipulated, they’re likely to abandon your brand.

Don’t overestimate your capabilities! If it takes you a week to ship a product, tell your customers it takes two. If a product will last for 10 years, claim it will last eight. Happy customers are loyal customers; surprise them by going above and beyond what you’ve promised.

Make Your Brand More Personal

Treat your brand like it’s your business’s personality, giving it character and life. 

Don’t use scripts and formulaic responses; instead, encourage employees to speak from the heart, engaging customers like real people. This small change makes your brand seem more human than corporate, and can drastically influence positive impressions.

Always Be Available

Make sure your customers have multiple lines of contact for you at all times — and if you have a dedicated account representative, give your clients that person’s cell phone number in case of an emergency.

Finally, be consistent. The more consistent you are with your service and your brand, the more loyal your customers will be – and the stronger your reputation will grow.  

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Why Carbonless Forms Make a Great Tech-Free Solution

Why Carbonless Forms Make a Great Tech-Free Solution The Happy printers 8-31When you “cc” someone on an email, do you ever think about what this abbreviation actually means?

In 1801, Pellegrino Turri invented carbon paper to provide ink for his mechanical typing machine, which was one of the first typewriters. Five years later, carbon paper was patented and released to the general public. Carbon paper soon became a primary method for rapidly reproducing documents or booklets, and today its legacy has remained in the header of emails. The “cc” abbreviation stands for “carbon copies,” or copies intended for recipients other than the principal addressee.

Since Turri’s day, carbonless forms have largely replaced their early ancestor. Carbonless copy paper has micro-encapsulated dye or ink on the back side of the top sheet, and a clay coating on the front side of the bottom sheet. When pressure is applied (from writing or impact printing), the dye capsules rupture and react with the clay to form a permanent mark duplicating the markings made to the top sheet. In the span of seconds, intermediary layers act as multipart stationery, adding flexibility and convenience to any business exchange.

Simplify and Save

In many industries, carbonless forms work better than electronic documents, and they may be a perfect fit for your business.

Carbonless forms offer a speedy solution that is ideal for capturing handwritten signatures or personal notes taken during an order or appointment. Want to ditch the unnecessary equipment or the headaches of expensive tech repairs? These forms are especially handy for team members who are frequently in the field, when you’re working face-to-face with clients, or when time and accuracy are essential.

Where can you put carbonless forms to work? The possibilities abound! Try these sensible custom pads for:

  • Invoices or inventory tracking
  • Design drafts or sales estimates
  • Onsite service calls
  • Patient intake forms
  • Inspections, permits, or delivery confirmations
  • As a customizable receipt for your small business

Carbonless forms are used in a wide range of industries, including mechanical, agriculture, funeral services, transportation, home improvement, auctions, and more. They are great for any situation where you want a simple business solution or a quick reproduction of up to four simultaneous copies.

And just because these forms are practical doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Experiment with bold graphics, two colors of ink, custom finishes, or three-hole drilling to allow for archiving in binders or booklets. Sequential numbering will enable you to easily track your transactions, or you can also send varying designs to print multiple for types in the same size and finish.

Get Your Forms ASAP

Ready to get started? Go carbonless with this convenient, budget-friendly option. Craft smart, rapid-return designs that will hold up for years.

Send an inquiry today for your free estimate!

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Sell the Story, Not Just the Product

Sell the Story, Not Just the Product The happy printersWhen it comes to marketing, one detail people often overlook is how pricing comes in to play.

If you think pricing is an insignificant part of your messaging, you should think again. Pricing is a marketing tool, not simply a way to get money. And while marketing may change your pricing, the opposite is also true – pricing should change your marketing.

Stories That Sell

In any sales transaction, countless stories are being told, including the stories we tell ourselves and the image we convey to those around us.

The exorbitant price of a brand name basketball shoe communicates an obvious story to the people who see you wearing it. And the rock bottom pricing at a clearance closeout tells your internal budget coach a story about what a fool you’d be to overlook this sale!

As a marketer, price determines what your business stands for, who you’re designing for, and the story you tell customers. How might that play out? Here’s a practical example.

Consider a baker who wants to adjust prices and marketing accordingly. This entrepreneur might take one of four approaches.

1. A Free Baking Blog with Helpful Recipes and Webinars

 

If a business wants to make money, it can’t afford to give away freebies, right?

Wrong.

A free idea is far more likely to spread than an idea that’s tethered to money. When a chef gives away her recipes or leads an online seminar, she’s distributing ideas for free, but building popularity and leverage for her name.

While you can reproduce her baguettes at home, enjoying a pricey, oven-fresh roll in her bistro is even better. This allows her generous compensation while building awareness, trust, and a larger platform to sell her products.

2. Products Priced for a Quick Sale

 

If the ingredients and overhead associated with a loaf of bread cost our baker $1.95, selling loaves for $2.00 may allow the baker to move a lot of product, and fast.

In this case, the marketing storyline should match the budget-conscious shopper’s mindset, using phrases like “your bargain bakery favorites” or “first-class French bread at no-frills prices!”

3. Mid-Level Markups

 

Say the baker decides to sell loaves at $3.00 apiece.

Now she makes more than a dollar a loaf, or more than twenty times she made at the previous level. If she kept prices a dollar lower, she would have to sell 21 loaves for every loaf sold at $3.00, which might mean the difference between a few customers an hour versus a line out the door.

To sell her story at the $3.00 level, the savvy baker might invest in a sparkling clean shop, a new sign in the window, and taglines like “artistry in every bite” or “you deserve something delicious.”

4. Majoring on Luxury

 

Here the baker prices loaves at $6.00 apiece, choosing to sell not just a product, but also a full-scale experience.

Loaves are nestled snugly in custom burlap bags and paired with a small spread of the customer’s choice. Elegant café seating allows customers to enjoy savory soups and decadent desserts onsite. Everything about the bakery screams indulgence, and marketing is based around taglines like this: “Heaven on Earth is here.”

Intentionally Shape Their Experience

As you price your products, craft marketing narratives that correspond to the story people will experience.

And remember, when people are heavily invested in a bigger financial commitment, they need narratives that justify this expense. Work hard to set their conscience at ease, and you will be rewarded with loyalty and sales.

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5 Best-Value Print Products to Increase Your Sales

5 Best-Value Print Products to Increase Your Sales The Happy printers 7-31-20Advertising dollars are sometimes in short supply, and it can be hard to know where to invest yours.

Print marketing is alive and strong, but if your budget is limited, you may need to focus on a few thoughtfully-crafted items. Here are five pieces that can stretch your dollar the farthest.

1. Business Cards

First impressions can make or break your business, and a positive experience can create long-lasting relationships.

Despite our online connections, business cards continue as a staple of every industry, because of their role in the branding experience. These cards hold more than just contact details: smart strategists view them as a glance into a company’s quality, personality, or services.

While they are inexpensive to print, their impact is significant!

2. Targeted Postcards

A physical object in their hands gives your message palpable weight.

And recent stats bring news of impressive direct mail response rates. In 2018, postcards sent to generic prospect lists generated a 4.9% response rate, while targeted household mailing lists generated 9%. Thanks to technological advancements, today you can send content-tailored mail to people who actually look forward to it, prompting a higher response!

Want to step it up a notch? Today’s printing capabilities allow you to dream and DO almost anything with sizing, shapes, or finishes. Think outside the rectangle with tri-fold layouts, square promo cards, or coupons with detachable referral slips that people can give a friend.

3. Presentation Folders

Want a tasteful way to share your message?

Presentation folders allow you to distribute information in a convenient, memorable package. Offering people a stack of papers is a good way to have your marketing thrown away quickly, while packaging pricing information, brochures, and contracts in a folder is a great way to keep documents safe and front-of-mind. Containing anything from USB flash drives to stepped insert flyers, even smaller folders can offer the business solution you need. Here are two examples:

Use a 3 * 7-inch promo (including a business card, personal introductory flyer, and coupon incentive) to share during informal introductions or social gatherings.

Try a 4 * 9-inch pocketed folder (including a business card cutout slot, stacked product promos, and customized question/answer flyer) to use during client meetings or referral contacts.

4. Retractable Banners

Want to put your message front and center?

Gain exposure for your brand with classy custom banners! Retractable banners radiate excellence, and can be used for retail spaces, special events, trade shows, and more. Portable and cost-effective, retractable banners are well-suited for changing out banner prints, ensuring your message stands tall in the busiest pedestrian spaces.

5. Catalogs

Ready to give catalogs or booklets some consideration?

You should. Studies from the Data & Marketing Association show that the response rate for catalogs is increasing, partially because younger people enjoy catalogs:

“Millennials stand out a bit higher than other generations in terms of engaging with mail,” said Neil O’Keefe, the association’s senior vice president of marketing and content. “Millennials are very engaged by imagery, and the catalog really allows that to stand out. So, the response rate there is very different than what you would experience with a display ad, even an email. The response rate for a printed piece has been on the rise.”

The return rate on catalogs can be especially effective when you reach the right audience at the right time. According to CNBC, catalogs sent to key customers at strategic times yield an average return of $3 for every $1 invested – and up to $9 for every $1 invested when sent to the very best customers.

Look Your Best in Print

Print marketing is an effective way to generate leads, make sales, and solidify customer loyalty.

Ready to start your next masterpiece? From first-glance flyers to head-turning portfolio pieces, we’ll resource you with compelling pieces that make your reputation shine.

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Why Direct Mail Marketing is a Brilliant Investment

Why Direct Mail Marketing is a Brilliant Investment teh happy printers 6-10When email marketing began around 1978, its low cost, speedy delivery, and great response rates made marketers wonder if direct mail would disappear forever.

Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. An overload of digital messages has caused open and click-through rates to decline substantially, and many spam filters and firewalls block emails altogether.

At the same time, a volume decrease in traditional mail has allowed direct mail marketing to rise to the top of the mailbox, being noticed, read, and responded to more frequently.

Need proof? Here are some stats to consider:

  • According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2017 Response Rate Report, direct mail offered a 5.1 percent response to house lists and a 2.9 percent response to rented lists across all direct mail formats. (In comparison, the 2017 response rate for all digital channels combined was 2 percent.)
  • Eighty-five percent of consumers will open a piece of mail that catches their attention, and more than 40 percent of recipients read the entire piece.
  • Ninety-two percent of Millennials are persuaded to make a purchase decision based on direct mail as opposed to 78 percent who are influenced to purchase through email marketing. Sixty-three percent of these direct mail responders said they had made a purchase in the last three months.
  • Consumers of all ages are 22 percent more likely to purchase products promoted through direct mail than they are products advertised through email.
  • Eighty-two percent of Millennials say they read direct mail they get from retail brands, and 54 percent said they enjoy looking through print catalogs they receive in the mail.
  • Forty-nine percent of Millennials use print coupons at retail stores, with three out of four making use of grocery inserts found in direct mail or the newspaper.
  • Branded products, on average, get a 1,300 percent ROI from direct mail.
  • Direct-mail packages generate 78 percent of all donations made to nonprofits.

Direct Mail’s Superior Advantage

If digital marketing is easy and inexpensive, why does print marketing continue to dominate?

Studies show that the physicality of print creates a “deeper footprint” in the brain: an enduring emotional connection for those who connect with it. In fact, MRI imaging showed a higher rate of brain stimulation for those reading content on paper, which shows our minds automatically perceive physical materials to be more genuine. One advertising study found that consumers recalled print ads better than digital ads and had more emotional responses to print as well. Heightened emotion leads to higher perceived values, increased product desirability, and greater follow through when it comes to inquiries and purchases.

Are you ready to craft the right message, for the right people, at just the right time? When you want to make strong connections with your prospects, an ink-on-paper sales letter or direct-mail package will help you spark interest, generate leads, and boost response rates.

Streamline the Process

Maybe you want to try direct mail but you’re not sure where to start. When you’re ready to move ahead, we’ll help you create stunning pieces that make your message shine. From initial formatting and to final ordering and delivery, we’ll do the heavy lifting and streamline the entire process.

Overcome barriers today with memorable, actionable mailings!

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Pack Extra Meaning into Your Message with Strategic Color Combinations

Pack Extra Meaning into Your Message with Strategic Color Combinations The Happy printersOf all the elements of design, color is probably the most challenging to understand.

Color originates from a light source that is viewed directly or seen as reflected light. While colors can be displayed in spectrums, prisms, or contrasts, the power of colors is not only in their arrangement, but in the way we perceive them.

Want to add depth to your message? The colors you choose can add an extra layer of meaning.

Colors Prompt a Specific Response

According to Sally Augustin from Psychology Today, research shows that particular colors can prompt measurable responses.

Here are the impacts of five particular colors, and how you can use them to your advantage:

Green

Seeing the color green has been linked to more creative thinking—so greens are good options for pieces featuring innovation, creativity, artistic specialties, or proactive growth.

Red

People featured in front of red backgrounds are generally seen as more attractive when silhouetted against other colors, so reds are great for photo backdrops, booklet covers, headshots, and more.

Having a red surface in view also gives people a burst of strength, so reds are good choices for concepts related to fitness, acceleration, competition, and courage.

Violet

People tend to link greyish violet with sophistication, so these hues can be a good selection for places where you’re trying to make a stylish impression.

Try subtle violet/grey hues in designs for home apparel, personal products, product labels, and more.

Yellow

Yellow is associated with joy, happiness, optimism, and energy.

This color stimulates mental activity and generates muscle energy. Yellows are great for stimulating appetite, implying freshness, or for conveying warmth. Yellow also screams for attention, so you can use it to grab interest. Avoid overdoing it by adding yellow in contrast with another color.

Blue

Did you know that people are more likely to tell you that blue is their favorite color than any other shade?

Blue is a great choice for design, especially with so many shades to choose from! Nature-themed blues can call forth feelings of calmness or serenity, and are perfect for striking a tranquil tone. Turquoise or royal blues can project stability and reliability, which is strategic for brands that want to communicate productivity or security.

One caution about blue: it is not very appetizing. In the world of cuisine, humans are geared toward avoiding blue as it is often a sign of poison or spoilage. Some weight loss plans even recommend eating your food off a blue plate to squelch hunger!

Color Your Communication

Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, sway emotions, and even influence physiological reactions.

The right use of colors can play an important role in conveying information, creating moods, and influencing the decisions people make. Be strategic and add extra meaning to your message with dynamic, powerful color combinations.

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Selling the Vision: The Passion Behind the Product

Selling the Vision The Passion Behind the Product the happy printer and marketerIn 1948, Richard Stack started Dick’s Bait and Tackle with three hundred dollars borrowed from his grandmother.

As the store expanded into sports and retail, Richard and his son Ed learned many lessons. Ed says one impactful memory came during a moment that tested his father.

One day a little kid walked in the store and wandered over to the baseball section, then grabbed a glove and bolted toward the door. An employee nabbed him as he reached the parking lot and dragged him back inside. The employee was yelling at the child when Richard Stack intervened. He looked the little boy up and down and laid a hand lightly on his shoulder. From his ragged clothing, it was clear that this child came from a family with limited resources.

“Why’d you steal the glove?” Stack asked.

Tears streamed down the child’s face as he squeaked, “I just want to play baseball.”

Stack nodded. “You can’t steal,” he said. “No matter how bad you want something, you cannot steal it. I want you to promise me you’re not going to do this again.”

“Yes, sir,” the kid said.

“Ok,” said Stack.

Then he walked over to the baseball section of the store and had the boy pick out a ball and a bat to go with the glove.

“You go play baseball,” Stack said, “and stay out of trouble.”

Because Richard recognized the value of his own youth sports experiences, his business was always a major proponent of individual kids and youth sports initiatives. In the early 1960s, Richard went on to expand the Binghamton, NY Little League program from 60 kids to 240. And eventually, Dick’s Sporting Goods began donating over $20 million a year to school sports programs nationwide.

Casting Customers in the Starring Role

Every kid dreams.

Ed Stack says this is something Dick’s keeps in mind through all their business decisions today. When a parent comes in to buy his or her kid a baseball glove or soccer cleats, they are buying more than equipment; they’re buying a dream of joy or greatness for their child. And Dick’s expands that vision to entire communities, leading a “Sports Matters” giving campaign with this storyline: “Every Kid Deserves a Chance to Play.”

Selling a vision is very different than selling a product, and it’s much easier. A vision is about a customer who sees themselves as the main character of your narrative. Here customers see what they could achieve through the vision you create. This starts by highlighting the challenges or problems of their current situation: potential they could tap into, dreams they want to achieve, or opportunities they may be missing.

Inspiring brands always lead their messages with an idea. For Dick’s, a core idea is that sports make a huge difference in the life of a child. Whether your idea is a belief to change the world or to encourage social responsibilities, your core belief will draw like-minded people to your brand. And when this vision engages the customer, they begin to own it for themselves.

Selling the vision isn’t about functions or features; it’s about showcasing the possibilities. Instead of selling rain boots, sell a world without soggy feet. Instead of selling coffee subscription services, sell the aroma of blissfully fresh beans at the doorstep each month. Instead of selling bats and gloves, sell the dream of children who have a place to belong.

Paint a picture of the desired reality and offer a road map for achieving it.

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Escape the Productivity Pit by Taking Control of Your Email

Escape the Productivity Pit by Taking Control of Your Email May 4 the Happy printersAre you starting to feel trapped in a “productivity pit?”

While your mobile phone is supposed to make you more accessible and productive, it can also complicate your day, leaving you frazzled and weary. While the world is adjusting to new work-from-home scenarios, the increasing emphasis on new technology can often make workdays worse, not better.

While you may not be able to change your current working situation, you can take control of something that dominates the daily landscape: your email. DMA data from 2019 shows that the average number of email addresses owned by consumers is 2.5. Researchers estimate 132 billion business emails are sent daily, and American workers will receive an average of 126 emails every 24 hours!

5 Tips to Beat Back Your Email

Many people are drowning in digital messages, and it is not uncommon to find accounts that contain 50,000 messages. How can you beat back the tidal wave? Here are five tips to get started.

1. Change Your Mindset

Inbox overload is not just a traffic issue; it’s a priority issue.

Did you know that 84% of people keep their inboxes open all day, and 70% of emails are opened within six seconds? Many people claim to check their email and chat apps every six minutes or less. If that doesn’t stress our minds, it will undoubtedly tax our emotions.

To avoid digital overload, start with this truth: email can be a distraction that limits effectiveness.

2. Set Response Time Expectations

Because 63.5% of people say they expect an email response in one hour, reducing your email check-ins could cause unexpected conflict.

To set boundaries around email use, try using your “out of office” reply feature to let people know you will be away from the screen and when (or if!) they should expect a response. This can alleviate tension and also decrease the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that sparks you to check in so often.

3. Use Labels to Prioritize

 

Sometimes people feel pressured to deal with messages immediately, so they don’t get overwhelmed.

A better option is to use labels and a separate inbox to separate important from non-urgent messages. Scan your account once or twice a day and add the label @processing to any messages that need attention. Then collapse your regular inbox so you can’t see incoming messages.

Focusing on the priority list will heighten efficiency and decrease stress.

4. Draft Template Responses

Since it’s impossible to ignore or file each message, sometimes it is helpful to create a template of canned responses.

This may include apology notes, responses that hand off a request to your team, promises to follow up, or soft redirects to your website or FAQ page.

5. Pair Your Calendar with Your Follow-Up

Because some emails might require more than a simple reply, consider filing mail needing follow up in subfolders dated at the start of each week.

Then add the corresponding task to your calendar and include the folder location and date to remind you when a response is required. Dated weekly folders help clear your inbox and make for quick reference when you need to recover a task or a conversation. Dated folders can also allow you to delete timed out messages as a group, rather than deleting them one by one.

Redeem the Time

Email is many things, but a timesaver it is not.

If you work 260 days per year, AOL Jobs estimates you will spend 73 days doing nothing but staring at your inbox.

There is a better way! Set boundaries around your email so you can live with less stress and more freedom each day.