Are you a “Slack-er”?

If your office is large, or working from multiple locations, you may already be “Slacking”.  Slack is a mobile and desktop text-message-style communication tool that has become commonplace for co-workers. It almost completely replaces inter-office email and serves as the new “water cooler” for social chit-chat among team members.

However, Slack isn’t appropriate in all situations. There are a few times where good old email may be the best communication tool:


Are you a “Slack-er”?2020-03-03T17:35:03+00:00

Hiring A Virtual Assistant

In a world of Siri and Alexa it’s no surprise that the virtual assistant field is booming. Companies like Upwork and allow you to contract individuals to work remotely. These individuals are typically self-employed independent contractors who work from home, and have backgrounds in anything from professional administration to technical or creative fields. Assistants communicate with clients primarily via email, but Skype, phone calls, or Google Voice calls are also standard. Work is arranged on a contractual basis.

Deciding which tasks to delegate can be tough,  especially when you’re just building a relationship (and trust!) with your new virtual assistant. Here are some ideas for tasks you can easily outsource:

  • Scheduling – Digital tools make it easy for a virtual assistant to handle your schedule remotely.
  • Bookkeeping – Your assistant can follow up on outstanding invoices or unpaid bills.
  • Data Entry – Hire an assistant to enter sales lead contact information or project report data.
  • Proofing – Even if you’re a strong writer, get peace of mind by having your publication professionally proofed.
  • Research – A virtual assistant can conduct leads research, or report on industry or market trends.
  • Travel Coordination – Find the best deals and accommodations with the help of an expert.

Hire someone for a few hours or a few months. It’s up to you. The key is, you don’t have to — indeed, shouldn’t — try to do everything yourself. Chances are your time is better spent following up with prospects than it is typing in those email addresses after your last trade show.

So don’t do what you can hire someone else to do, especially when it’s so easy to hire someone remote.

Hiring A Virtual Assistant2018-05-07T21:01:49+00:00

Conversations with Computers – What You Need To Know About Chatbots

Common marketing wisdom says go where customers are hanging out. More and more, consumers spend time in messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

In fact, research shows consumers are using messenger apps even more than social media, with more users on messaging apps than on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Capitalizing on this fact, conversational marketing has popped up in the form of chat bots. A quick chat with a bot provides a really easy way for users to order a pizza or find the perfect shade of lipstick.

Chat bots are programmable computer software that can have a conversation. Bots are primarily used for customer service or information searches, and are widely in use. Brands like Sephora, Disney, Domino’s, AirBnB, H&M, and Spotify have all made chatbots part of their marketing mix.

Of course, there are limits to what chat bots can do. Chat bots can’t completely replace the need for human interaction:

“Bots cannot feel or think or intuit in the same way as people do. They can’t think creatively or display emotional intelligence….the purpose of AI assistants and bots is to enhance the human experience, not replace it.” – ETIENNE MÉRINEAU, Venture Beat

Still, chat bots provide an opportunity to engage with customers, and are a major cost savings. Setting up a call center with real people to operate chat sessions isn’t affordable for most businesses. Chatbots are cheaper than hiring real people, and can be used for routine customer service conversations.

Interested in developing your own chat bot?

Custom bot development costs vary based on how many bots you need and the anticipated number of interactions. Costs to create a simple bot start at $5,000 (plus ongoing monthly maintenance fees), while a more robust bot can cost more than $100,000. Or, you can create your own chatbot with tools like Bot Framework from Microsoft, the bot developer tool from Facebook, or Chatfuel.

So, do you need to invest in building a chat bot right away? No, but it’s definitely something to consider in your long-term marketing planning. By 2020, 80% of businesses want to use chatbots.

Conversations with Computers – What You Need To Know About Chatbots2018-05-07T21:09:47+00:00

Where Small Budgets Die

We get a lot of clients who see a really cool die cut, fold or finish in their mailbox or at a tradeshow, and want to include something similar in a project.

Special finishes can add big impact, but they require extra production time and quite a bit more budget than you may expect. To avoid sticker shock (especially if you tend to print small quantities like many of our clients), read on to learn more about what it takes to make some of our favorite fancy finishes happen, and when to consider finding the budget for that extra pop.

Die Cutting

Photo Source

For the most part, those cool edges, shapes and folds you see require a printer’s ‘die’. The metal edge cuts the paper; the rest is padding that pushes the cut sheet back off the edge. Dies range in size from huge (for pocket folders), to small (for a few business cards), and if you create one custom for your company or project, your printer stores them for use when you reprint. You can also request to use dies your printer already has on hand. Most printers or finishing houses have stock dies for things like envelopes, pocket folders, and divider tabs. These kinds of dies are also used to create custom edges, fold-ins, windows, patterns, etc.

Simple die cuts are easy to incorporate even in smaller print runs of 250-500 for business cards, brochures and more. The die is a one-time investment of a few hundred dollars, and only adds a day or two to your turnaround time.

Things get trickier when you use die cuts for direct mail. Non-standard and even non-solid shapes are mailable, but the surcharges are something you’ll want to keep in mind for your budget if you don’t plan on putting your piece in an outer envelope.


Photo Source


Photo Source

Embossing & Foil Stamping

Foil stamping and embossing require a printer’s die also, and are a great way to add depth and dimension to artwork, or bold text on a cover, pocket folder, invitation, or business card. Here are some examples:

Photo Source

Multilevel dies will cost you more than single level, and you’ll want to invest in a heavy, quality sheet of paper — thick enough to handle the depth of the emboss. Cost and process to emboss and/or foil stamp is similar to die cutting in that a die must be created. There’s usually some back and forth between the designer and the finishing house to get the artwork in just the right level of detail for the size and substrate. Simple embossing can be affordable even for smaller quantities, but the sky is the limit. For example, 500 business cards like these will run you $1500 just for the printing.

Photo Source

If you want the look of embossing, but don’t have the budget, you can get hand embossers to add a simple seal. They’re usually best used on text weight paper.

Other Finishes

Other cool finishes to explore include spot varnish (pictured), scratch offs, or scratch and sniffs.

Photo Source

General Rules of Thumb

Intrigued? Here are some words of advice before you decide to add a special finish to your next project:

Add a week (or more!) to your schedule.

Special processes like these take more time, but are worth the wait. Designers need extra time to come up with that cool die cut and make sure the folds work just right. Then the printer has to have a die made. Then once the project is printed, it often has to go to another press specifically to be die cut or embossed, and sometimes to another facility. Plan ahead, and allow for extra time and budget for design, production, and printing. Cool things come to those willing to wait.

Consider your quantity.

Special finishes can double, triple, or quadruple your per-piece cost on small quantities. If you only need 50, 100, or even 250 of an item, you have to weigh whether or not the impact per recipient is worth it. Is it possible to increase the quantity and use those brochures or binders for something else down the road? Or is the event you’re hosting a fancy affair that’s worth the extra cost per invitation for the foil and the multilevel die?

Consider your message.

Does this piece need to help you stand out? Are you offering a high-end product or service? If you’re looking to have a conversation about attention to detail or being the best of the best, detailed finishes provide a wow factor that can be well-worth the price tag.

Where Small Budgets Die2018-05-07T21:52:33+00:00
Go to Top