January 11, 2017

How to make the most out of working with a graphic designer

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

8 ways to get the most out of your graphic designer

Having a graphic designer partner can make a huge difference for an organization. Since your branding is probably the first thing a potential client or partner notices about you, investing in a well-designed logo and other marketing materials is one of the keys to success.

I recently shared my top 8 tips for working with a graphic designer on the Keyword Marketing Blog:

  1. Let us know what your goals are for the project (aka the “who, what and why”): This includes WHO you are trying to reach, WHAT you are trying to accomplish, and WHY you chose this type of marketing piece. The more we know about your project and your goals, the better the end result will be.
  2. Send us copy that is complete and well-organized: This will cut down on the number of potential edits (saving you time and money). Let us know if you need referrals for a copywriter or editor. Or ask us for help editing your content to fit your message.
  3. Provide graphics that are high-resolution and in usable file formats: Please, no graphics pulled from the web! Also let us know of any potential copyright issues—if you are unsure about using an image, we can help you investigate or find appropriate images.
  4. Inform us of deadlines and crucial project milestones: It helps us create a working production schedule—and we are happy to keep you on track if necessary!
  5. Let us know how and where your project will be used: If you need print materials, a website, online advertising, social media profiles or graphics, promotional or staff apparel, etc., we want to know about it.
  6. Provide samples: If you have existing marketing materials or branding, please provide samples at the start of the project so we can keep everything consistent.
  7. Bring up any concerns as they arise: Please let us know as soon as possible of any concerns you have during the design process. Frequent and honest communication is appreciated and will help both of us stay on the same page.

  8. Bonus points – if you have Brand Guidelines, please send them: This helps us keep our designs on-brand (And if you don’t have brand guidelines, we are happy to create them for you)

Above all, know that we are here to help. If you have any questions as we go along, please ask. Remember, our job is to make your business look good so the more we communicate, the better your business branding—and our relationship—will be.

Do you need a graphic design partner? I would love to chat with you!

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January 4, 2017

My word for the year: priorities

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Time Management — lidia @ 10:00 am

word for the year_priorities

Starting back in 2014, I’ve chosen a word to set the tone for the upcoming year. 2016’s word was REGROUP. In 2015, my second child arrived 7 weeks early (requiring a 3-week hospital stay) so my priorities understandably shifted to my new baby. Once I was back to work, I felt that I needed to regroup and focus on my business again. I also joined an accountability group and used my word regroup to guide my goals progress.

I like to choose a word that applies both to my personal and work life, so this year’s word is PRIORITIES. My creative brain tends to jump from project to project as inspiration strikes. Now that my work hours are dictated by my kids’ schedules, setting strict priorities and staying on task each day is crucial.

I also want to set my priorities at home, for example making after-school time more focused on my kiddos (my 15-month old literally cries when I open my laptop and try to finish up work!)

What is your word for 2017?

August 3, 2016

7 tips for getting email marketing right

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

7 ways to do email marketing the right way

I’m amazed by the amount of spam I receive, specifically email lists I’m added to without my permission by someone who I don’t know. (I use a different email address on my website contact form so I can easily identity when this happens. I know, sneaky…) Today, I got another one of these emails and said to myself: something must be done!

Email marketing is a great way to reach qualified prospects—the key here being the word qualified. Adding people indiscriminately to your mailing list in the hopes of making your list bigger can backfire: your messages will get marked as spam, eventually leading to your account getting closed down.

So, what’s the right way to approach email marketing? Focusing on quality, not quantity is my approach. My list is small but very targeted, so every email newsletter I send results in a reconnection, conversation or new project.

7 tips for getting email marketing right

  1. Keep a clean list: Every now and then, go through and delete contacts on your list who are no longer prospects or have outdated email addresses
  2. Be very careful when adding names: Only add people who have specifically given permission to be added to your list (see #4 & 5 below) or with whom you have worked in the past.
  3. Write for your audience: Make sure your email content is tailored to your list or they may unsubscribe
  4. Have an opt-in freebie on your website: Create a freebie (report, eBook, tipsheet, etc.) for prospects to download in exchange for their email address
  5. Send a cold email: If there is someone you really want to connect with, send them a friendly introductory email with a request to join your list (make sure they will find it useful, see #3)
  6. Give them an out: Make sure your messages always include an easy way to opt-out or unsubscribe
  7. Focus on quality, not quantity: Yes, a huge mailing list sounds tempting, but it only takes one successful connection to generate results, so focus on adding good, qualified prospects rather than increasing your numbers

Are you breaking any of the “rules?” By focusing on quality not quantity, you will quickly see the benefit of having a well-managed email list.

Need help developing your next email marketing campaign? I can help with design and strategy, as well as managing your campaign. Let’s chat!

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March 2, 2016

Package design is not just for stores

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 12:11 pm

Package design is not just for retail products. Nonprofits or associations can use it for a variety of promotional purposes. You may want to create a product to honor your most-active members or supporters, give away at a conference, or promote a fundraising event to your top donors.

Here are three great websites for package design and format inspiration:

  1. The Dieline
  2. Lovely Package
  3. Package Inspiration

Are you thinking about creating a promotional product for your organization? Take a peek at my packaging design samples and then let’s get started on your project!

February 1, 2016

My day as a judge at the IAPD/IPRA Conference

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — lidia @ 3:38 pm

IMG_6668

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to be a judge in the Agency Showcase Awards at the IAPD/IPRA Conference.

The Agency Showcase Awards feature the best communication and marketing materials at park and recreation agencies. My category was email communications (one of my current design passions) and I judged the entries on four points: overall design, copy and grammar, strategy, and results.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different approaches each agency took with their email communications and I was pleased to see the useful content they are sharing regularly with their readers and neighbors.

Best of luck to the winners!

Need help with your next email campaign? Send me a note and let’s chat.

 

October 22, 2015

5 ways to get your nonprofit organization noticed on #ILGive day

Filed under: Community Outreach,Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 10:00 am

ILGive-Logo-site--300x298#ILGive is coming up on Tuesday, December 1st. It’s a movement—in partnership with the national #GivingTuesday campaign—to support nonprofit communities in Illinois and encourage individual giving and philanthropy.

Is your organization participating? Great! Do you have a plan to promote your participation? No? Well, here are a few tips.

5 ways to get your nonprofit organization noticed on #ILGive day

  1. Create engaging and shareable social media graphics to promote the event and encourage likes and shares. Here are some ideas.
  2. Add a custom graphic and short blurb about #ILGive to your home page. See their Resources page for shareable info.
  3. Use the #ILGive hashtag and consider creating a custom hashtag for your organization, ie #GiveMyOrg.
  4. Add an #ILGive graphic to your email footer
  5. Feature #ILGive in your next email newsletter. See a sample email template here.
  6. Create an #ILGive flyer and include in mailings, brochures distributed at events, etc.
  7. Write an #ILGive-themed blog post

Need help engaging your supporters and expanding your reach? We can help design social media and newsletter graphics that will get noticed. Send me an email or call me to get started.

Here’s to a great #ILGive day!

August 31, 2015

How smart is your social media branding?

Filed under: Branding,Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 10:00 am

How smart is your social medai branding

Social media is a smart way to promote and increase awareness for your organization or nonprofit. In fact, social media might be the first place someone learns about you. Are you using your social media branding wisely?

What is social media branding?

Social media branding is how your organization is perceived on social media. This encompasses both visual (logo, imagery) and verbal (writing, voice) but for now, we will be focusing on the visual aspect.

Keep it consistent

One of the first steps to social media success is having well-designed and consistent branding throughout. You want people to easily recognize your organization or nonprofit on social media

Design a smart social media brand

The first step is to claim your page on all the major social media channels (even if you’re not using it yet): LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest. Ideally, you should choose the same username for all channels.

Then, you need to upload the required images, which includes:

  • Profile
  • Header
  • Cover
  • Background

You can use the same or similar images for each social media channel, but be aware of the different sizes and specifications required by each. Whatever you do: DON’T just drop in your logo or stretch it to fit!

TIP: Sprout Social has a great “always-up-to-date” social media image size reference here.

Have some fun with it…

With some of my clients, I will create a custom version of their logo for social media purposes. Since you are not limited by paper size or ink colors, you can get creative with it.

Bring more awareness to your events or programs

You can also create social media headers or cover images to promote special events or programs. Your social media branding can—and should be—constantly evolving.

See some of my social media branding design examples here. And stay tuned for more posts on designing smart social media branding.

I know it can be overwhelming keeping up with ever-changing social media specifications and the myriad required images for each channel. Let us help! Check out the social media branding we’ve designed and then give us a call.

 

 

August 27, 2015

How to design bad direct mail for your organization

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 10:00 am

How to design bad direct mail

Direct mail has been declining in popularity—which means it’s a great time for your organization to take advantage of it (your piece is sure to stand out).

Being a marketing designer, I can’t help but analyze the direct mail that hits my mailbox. Below are some of my “don’ts”—and ways to make your direct mail more successful.

Direct mail DON’Ts, i.e. pieces that go straight to my recycling bin:

  1. No return address: Who is this coming from? Why should I open it?
  2. Generic content: How does this relate to me? Why would I buy this?
  3. Poor design: This seems like a no-brainer to a designer such as myself, but trust me: good design sells.
  4. Cheap paper: If you’re spending the money on printing, please use a nice, heavyweight paper*—especially if your piece is targeted to creative people (we’re a finicky bunch!)
  5. No design: I’ve received direct mail that resembles an office memo, 2 pages typed and stapled together. If you are reaching out to me, at least make it interesting to read.
  6. Too many mailings: A weekly postcard is not necessary. Save your dollars and send to a small, targeted list.

*No neon shades of copy paper, please!

Direct mail DOs, i.e. pieces that encourage me to take action:

  1. Simple yet eye-catching design and layout
  2. Well-written content that I can relate to
  3. A multi-channel campaign: a postcard followed up with a corresponding email
  4. Unique format or size: i.e. an interesting fold, square or oversized**
  5. An offer I can relate to or take advantage of
  6. A personal note or handwritten message that conveys a personal touch

**Make sure to check postal requirements

Don’t have an in-house team to give your direct mail the love it deserves? We would love to help your next direct mail campaign achieve results!

August 19, 2015

Winding down…

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Time Management — lidia @ 2:47 pm
chicago summer skies

Chicago summer skies…

Back-to-school photos are all over my Facebook feed (and probably yours too). Though I’m a bit out of the “back to school” loop (my little one is only 4 years old), I am starting to feel like things are “winding down” as summer nears to an end—and I start to plan and prepare for my upcoming maternity leave.

How am I winding down?

I’m wrapping up client projects, kicking off new projects (that will hopefully be completed by the time my leave starts in October!), doing last-minute prospect follow-up, and clearing the clutter in my office.

There is something about a new season—whether it’s back-to-school or fall—that creates the inspiration to wrap thing up and start fresh.

READ MORE: Are you a fellow expecting mom preparing for maternity leave? Read my tips for preparing your business for baby on the HOW Design Creative Freelancer Blog.

How are you winding down to prepare for a new season?

July 22, 2015

6 tips for an engaging organization newsletter

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

6 tips for an engaging organization newsletter

One of my favorite ways to keep in touch is through my newsletter. Every time I send one, I inevitably hear back from a client or prospect that has been “reminded” of me.

Would you like to have this same effect with your organization’s newsletter? Read on for my tips for a more engaging newsletter.

  1. Write for your target audience: The first thing to consider when writing a newsletter is: what do your members or supporters want to hear about? What are their questions, pain points or interests?
  2. Keep it short: The days of long newsletters are gone. There’s more inbox clutter nowadays, so you have to keep your message short and to the point.
  3. Create a simple and flexible email template: I highly recommend using one of the online email newsletter services (I personally use and love MailChimp). This allows you to create a template that can be easily adapted for each issue.
  4. Develop a basic editorial calendar: Having a schedule for your newsletter not only helps you stay on-track, but your readers will begin to expect to hear from you (out of sight really does become out of mind!) It can be a simple as an Excel file with monthly send dates and newsletter topics. Hint: make things ever easier and plan topics a few months in advance. See an example editorial calendar.
  5. Keep a file of topic ideas: One of the biggest blogging complaints I hear is: I have nothing to write about. Once you’ve considered your target audience (see #1), the ideas should start to come easier. Now, create a file where you can store all these great ideas (I use the application Evernote).
  6. Send it consistently: Readers tend to engage more with a newsletter that is familiar to them rather than one that is infrequent. I send mine monthly, however depending on your organization (say, if you host weekly events) you may need a more frequent schedule.

So there you have it… you’re on your way to a more engaging newsletter.

Have you put any of these tips in practice? Let me know, I would love to know how it works out for you!

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