January 4, 2017

2017 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Keep a clean list: Every now and then, go through and delete contacts on your list who are no longer prospects or have outdated email addresses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 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 app 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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May 12, 2015

HOW Design Live conference recap: finding honesty, passion & kindred spirits in small business

Filed under: Creativity,Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 2:17 pm
HOW-Live-2015-recap

HOW Design celebrates 25 years; Janine Vangool speaks; Moms in Business Breakfast Roundtable; a beautiful sunny Chicago day

Last week was a whirlwind as I attended the HOW Design Live conference in Chicago, while juggling a sudden overload of work and a 3-year old’s schedule. HOW Design Live brings together print and interactive designers, as well as writers and other creatives for a week of speakers, workshops and networking.

I noticed several themes throughout this year’s HOW Design Live:

  1. Talking honestly about money: I attended several sessions which spoke honestly about money, sharing their billings, rates and/or project fees. Armin Vit of Under Consideration LLC even went so far as to detail “How to Spend $400,000 of Your $530,000 Billings” (the actual name of his session). It was refreshing to hear people talk honestly about money with their peers and encourage us to do the same.
  2. Rise above disappointments: It was also refreshing to hear design leaders such as Paula Scher of Pentagram talking about getting her ideas shot down. So, it really does happen to all of us! But it’s how you bounce back that makes all the difference. (Case in point: Pentagram’s redesign of Microsoft Windows 8, which had some bumps early on)
  3. Passion projects can pay off big: Artist Jeff Greenspan and Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh both spoke about personal projects which started off just for fun, but ended up garnering much unexpected press and success. See Jeff’s many personal projects here (Hipster Traps is my fave) and Jessica’s project, 40 Days of Dating here.
  4. You can find kindred spirits without even looking: I was looking forward to reconnecting with fellow moms in business that I knew—but I also unexpectedly met lots of new ones. What started out as small talk led to, “oh, you’re a mom too?” and a lively conversation about work or potty training. It was also exciting to meet some of my working mom heroes who were speakers: Bryony Gomez-Palacio of Under Consideration and Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE assured us that we can be moms and still follow our creative passions. Lastly, I had a great opportunity to swap stories with the “Moms in Business Breakfast Roundtable” I hosted (which included moms, a dad, and even a pet dad!)

Stay tuned for my upcoming post featuring insight from the fellow biz mamas I met at HOW Live

Want to be featured? Please email me ASAP!

April 7, 2015

F is for Friday

A to Z of being a mom in business: a daily blog series

F is for FridayF is for Friday

Or should I say, “Friday Afternoon Marketing.” Years ago, I started a tradition of setting aside specific time on Fridays for marketing my business. After having a child and realizing my time had become more limited, “Friday Afternoon Marketing” evolved into “10-Minute Marketing” (follow along with that blog series here). But the concept is still the same: setting aside dedicated time to focus on marketing.

When do you set aside time to focus on marketing?

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