5 Low-Cost Customer Appreciation Strategies

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by spending his money somewhere else.” 

~ Sam Walton (Founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club)

They say every business has three types of customers.

There are price-conscious people – clients who will leave if they find a better deal. There are fence-sitters – those who like your brand but could be persuaded to go elsewhere. And there are loyalists – people who are willing to pay more to maintain a relationship.

If you move people toward loyalty, your bottom line will thrive. The success rate of selling to new customers ranges between 5-20%, while that rate soars to 60-70% for existing customers. And a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by as much as 125%.

With limited time and energy, devoting some of your marketing budget to customer appreciation makes good sense.

Here are five simple ways to build loyalty by showing customers you care:

1. Handwritten Notes

Over 70 years ago, Hallmark crafted one of the most memorable slogans in history: “When you care enough to send the very best.”

The phrase was spot on – thoughtful written communication speaks volumes. When you want to touch your most valuable customers, a handwritten note is the gold standard. Though these notes take time, they really do work.

Put this goal in your task list and pen one appreciation note per day.

2. Giveaway Contests

Sharing is caring!

There is nothing like the word “free” to grab attention and earn fans, especially when you give away something of value.

As soon as you post a giveaway contest, your popularity will soar. Try weekly email giveaways featuring business books or tutorial freebies. Onsite contest entries or selfie social media posts that tag your brand are a fun option. Or build engagement with a “caption this photo” challenge.

3. Happy Kids, Happy Parents

When you put kids first, parents will notice.

What are some ways you can honor families in your line of work? It may be countertop treats, mini water bottles, waiting room play areas, a coloring contest, or sibling discounts. Even a fish tank or a set of wooden puzzles can boost the happiness factor by ten.

Appreciate your families by welcoming their kids.

4. Learn & Share

Whether you’re building your content marketing or strengthening B2B relationships, giving away wisdom is a no-brainer.

When you find a great online resource, a quick life hack, or a useful industry resource, make a point to pass it along. Or create tip sheets and videos demonstrating beneficial ways to use your product. Helping people succeed is a smart way to build relational currency.

5. Promotional Swag

Double your marketing efforts by combining a gift and your brand.

Stick your logo on USB drives, notebooks, stadium cushions, and more. People love getting something for nothing. And they’ll be reminded of your appreciation again and again.

Show Your Appreciation Through Print

As business author Michael LeBoeuf says, “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” Give people time, words of appreciation, or gifts and turn price-conscious fence-sitters into loyal followers and friends.

In a digitally saturated generation, print materials are one of the best ways to solidify your business relationships. Want to win over customers month after month so your business will thrive? When you’re ready to talk options, we’re here to help you inspire loyalty through print.

Using Content to Win New Customers

Marketing content is a useful tool for any business trying to generate more traffic to their doorstep, either digitally or in person.

Whether your content is provided through a direct mailer or digitally, the right information catches people’s attention and attracts them to want to find out more.

And that generates valuable activity that causes sales to happen.

Yes, content is powerful and profitable, but what kind of content works? Here are valuable content tips that can make a difference for your business.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

A lot of energy, time, and resources are consumed creating new methods from scratch, whether in business or anything else.

So why go down that road when you can learn by working examples instead?

The key is to focus on companies and organizations that put out both digital and print content that is wildly successful. It doesn’t even have to be the same industry as yours.

Instead, look for methodology and strategy. What is it about these businesses that makes their content work? Find the system, learn the approach, and then apply it to your business.

Pinpoint What Attracts Customers to You

In traditional marketing, identifying viable customers is known as “defining a target market.”

Typically, a marketer would find the right type of demographics mix that makes up a target market and then aim marketing efforts towards that person, hoping for a response.

Today, however, things are easier.

Ask your current customers what they appreciate and like about your business and find more people with similar interests. Then shape your content accordingly.

Screen Your Existing Material for Easy Gems

Most likely, your company has already produced a library of information that can be used to create content for customers.

Review your existing resources, modify the material, and post or print it for them to find. Customers connect to the most amazing things; the trick is to tell a story that brings them back for more.

Don’t Brain Dump, Choose Material Wisely

Content is never an accident.

Your customer-oriented material should be part of an overall story you tell each month to audiences. Every piece should connect and integrate with the next during each content push window.

One of the best ways to do this is to shape your content for each month. Whether weekly or daily, the month’s material should be planned, summarized, and segued from one piece of the story to the next. Consider each content piece a chapter in a bigger book.

Make Sure Your Writer is Passionate

If your content is just a chore for whoever gets assigned the task, it will show in the writing.

Make sure your writer actually has a passion for your topic, and the difference will come out naturally. It will also be far more attractive to your customers, who will find the content genuine and natural.

Avoid Hard Calls to Action

Remember, your content’s goal is to generate an audience for your business.

Hard messaging stands out awkwardly in genuine content. Instead, the material should be informative, helpful, and useful. The body of the content will do its work and attract customers, who will then seek your business on their own and connect it with your business. Their interest will do the rest on the natural. This is why content generation is so powerful.

Lastly, make your content human and personal. Put a face to it if possible. Customers connect far more to a person than generic information.

5 Print Marketing Pieces that will Woo Your Corporate Clients

Some of the most effective ways of communicating value don’t require looking up a website or downloading a mobile device teaser program.

In fact, non-digital marketing activities win over corporate clients regularly without ever needing to be plugged in. Here are five of them.

1. Business Cards

Yes, those traditional business cards are still winners.

Business cards provide critical contact information and enough detail on how to connect with an organization quickly. Whether by email, text, phone, or mail, the info on a business card is powerful.

People love business cards because they are easy to transfer, pack, save, and reference. In the corporate world, business cards still resonate.

2. Letterheads and Stationary

In a day and age when so much communication happens by email and texting, the traditional letter stands out, even in a mail pile full of folders and generic material.

Best used when conveying a personal connection, professional letterhead is loved by corporate leaders everywhere and often seen as a sign of respect to the reader.

3. Add to Your Digital Slidedeck

Digital presentations can be so commonplace that people are often bored to death by the lack of engaging multiple senses.

A quick fix? Add printed materials people can hold in their hands that support your digital presentation. A beautifully printed presentation contained in a clean and stylish folder is easy to carry and review hands-on later. Combine a print version of a presentation with a digital slidedeck, and you’re hitting a home run with both formats simultaneously.

4. Company Information Brochures

A tri-fold company brochure is a convenient marketing tool that easily fits in a jacket pocket or folder. And, like business cards and presentation folders, brochures engage multiple senses of sight, touch, and even smell. 

Unlike digital PDFs, professionally printed brochures can be visualized and held easily. They don’t get lost in files like emails and tweets. A well-done brochure with high-impact visuals gets shared with those who matter as well. They are often shown as an example of what’s possible with the right skills hired.

5. Everyone Loves Catalogs

Today, digital menus and scrolling lists have tried to replace catalogs online.

However, the traditional catalog publication stands firm because of its tremendous impact.

Sometimes, folks like to leaf through a well-designed paper catalog to relax and pass the time, which often triggers more sales.

Additionally, companies that provide catalogs are becoming more unique and a stand-out factor from the crowd. Folks do not always remember a general product, but they definitely remember who has a catalog.

Grow Your Business Through Instagram Marketing

If you’re looking for a way to boost the results of your print marketing, integrate your next campaign expand your reach with Instagram!

Instagram is a cost-effective marketing tool that houses many resources to help your business grow.

As the second most accessed network behind Facebook, with 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram boasts highly engaged users, browsing an average of 53 minutes per day.

Instagram can be a handy tool if you’re trying to reach ages 18-44, as 45% of Instagram users are within this age group. 

4 Tips to Get Your Business Started on Instagram

Before initiating an Instagram business profile, it’s important to develop a marketing strategy.

1. Know Your Why.

Why do you want your business on Instagram?

For example, are you there to sell products, share portfolio content, build brand awareness, share user-generated content, and/or use Instagram’s analytic tools? When you discover your why, you’ll have a beneficial framework for moving forward.

2. Determine Your Target Market.

Think about age, location, gender, income, interests, motivations, & pain points.

If this is challenging, try looking up competitors on Instagram to see who their audience is.

3. Conduct a Competitive Analysis.

A competitive analysis is when you research your competitors to see how they are doing.

Then, using this data, you develop a plan to improve your own business. When doing this through Instagram, see what and how often your competitors are posting, what posts are getting the highest engagement, what they are using for captions, how quickly they are growing, etc.

Acquire data that can then be used as a benchmark for your business. You can also brainstorm ways you can stand out from your competitors.

4. Create an Editorial Calendar.

An editorial calendar is a visual representation of your workflow.

You can develop a plan for when, what, and how often to post on both your main Instagram feed and Instagram stories.

5 Tips for Gaining Instagram Followers

Now that your marketing strategy is in place, you can get on Instagram to grow your follower base and engagement. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Create a Business Account.

Perhaps obvious, but make sure your business is under a business account.

Go to your profile page, click the three horizontal lines at the top, click settings, account, then scroll down.

If it says, “Switch back to Personal Account,” then you have a business account. If it says, “Switch to Professional Account,” your business is under a personal account.

No worries! Just click “Switch to Professional Account,” follow the prompts, and now you have a business account. This is important because it will give you access to useful features, including analytic tools, promoted posts, and a contact button.

Instagram’s analytic tools allow you to see who (age and gender), when, and where you generate the most engagement. You can also see data for follower growth. 

2. Make Sure Your Instagram Bio is Strong.

Your bio is your potential client’s first impression.

Add all the necessary information and use keywords that will draw in your target audience. 

Your bio is also the area where you’ll put your call-to-action URLs. Because Instagram is image-based, URLs don’t work well on each post. Instead, update your bio URL to correspond with anything unique you’re posting.

3. Create a High-Quality Instagram Feed.

Ensure that your Instagram feed flows nicely by choosing consistent editing styles and adding filler photos.

Filler photos are posts that serve to improve your Instagram feed’s aesthetic. They are important because Instagram is such a visual app. Space out busy photos with minimalistic ones. You can even try posting six to nine photos in a row to create one large picture on your feed.

4. Don’t Forget to Use Your Stories.

Because Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours, they’re a great way to post various content and drive engagement.

Plus, thanks to Instagram’s stickers, you can create quick polls to drive follower engagement while simultaneously receiving follower feedback.

5. Add Instagram to Your Networking Cards.

Networking cards are business cards that highlight your social media presence. They are a great way to increase your follower base and sales.

Instagram is a wonderful tool to grow your business. Apply the above advice, so you can stand out and increase sales.

Create Connections and Build Your Business Through Networking

Networking is an invaluable, inexpensive, and effective tool for building your business.

Despite the digital age, people prefer doing business with companies they know and trust. Networking provides potential clients the connection and trust they need to later make a purchase.

According to Oxford Economics USA, 80% of professionals find networking essential to their career success. Because of this, 41% want to network more often. Networking may seem daunting, especially for those not naturally inclined to talk with others, but a little uncomfortableness outweighs the benefits.

A First and Lasting Impression

Before getting started, it’s important to look the part.

First impressions are important. After all, people are constantly judging and forming opinions of others. Once the initial opinion is made, it can be challenging to alter it.

Before networking, practice creating a good impression. This means focusing on a professional style of dress, creating good posture, practicing a firm handshake, and focusing on professional mannerisms. These all may seem insignificant on their own, but they add up to how others view you. Be professional, but be sure to remain confident and trust yourself.

Search Out Events

Next, find events where you can network, such as business seminars, networking groups, professional associations, and community events.

  • Business seminars are commercial programs that deliver information or training about a specific topic to the attendees.
  • Networking groups are a great way to exchange business information, share ideas, and offer support.
  • Professional associations are made up of members who are within the same industry. It’s a great area to network with others in your field and receive and share the most current methods and ideas.
  • Community events enable you to meet local people who care about their community.

At any event, it’s important to make connections first and worry about the potential profit later.

People don’t want to be seen as money. However, people do like to talk about themselves. That’s why some of the best connections are made when you hardly say a word. Instead, ask lots of questions and let them do the talking.

Business Cards: The Ultimate Networking Tool

Business cards are an invaluable marketing tool to always carry around with you.

It’s an affordable way to promote your business by providing the potential client with something tangible they can hold onto and view later. Plus, the size is optimal for its ease of use and display.

Business cards are convenient for carrying around in your pocket and sharing at networking events. Best of all, business cards create a lasting professional impression and provide the most important information to the potential client.

Networking may take a lot of time, work, and effort, but the business it provides is worth it!

7 Steps to Overcoming Decision Fatigue

Just like any muscle in the body, the brain can also get tired.

According to Medical News Today, a human’s ability to make decisions can worsen after making many decisions, as their brain will be more fatigued. This can lead to an emerging phenomenon called decision fatigue, which can cause mental fatigue, increasingly worse decision making, impulse buying, procrastination, decision avoidance, lack of focus, pessimism, and lapses in judgment.

And it could be the reason you find it hard to get stuff done. It’s not your fault. It’s just your brain’s natural defense mechanism.

When the brain becomes depleted, it shuts down non-essential services, including the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for complex decision-making.

Unfortunately, entrepreneurs can be affected by decision fatigue because they make many decisions throughout the day, feel greatly affected by the decisions they make, and make stressful and complex decisions.

Luckily, there are steps that you can take to alleviate the mental toll of constant decision-making.

7 Steps to Overcoming Decision Fatigue

1. Simplify

Find ways to reduce the number of decisions you have to make in a day by simplifying your life and creating habits.

For example, create a minimalistic wardrobe. Food prep or form consistent meal plans. Develop habits, so you no longer have to decide whether or not to do something. You start to do it automatically.

2. Plan Ahead

Plan the night before for the day ahead.

This will limit the number of decisions you’ll need to make during the day. You’ll no longer have to decide if you should do this or that. It’s prewritten. You just need to follow the script. Much easier.

3. Hard First, Easy Second

Tackle the hard stuff first when your brain is the most energized.

Some may find it tempting to take on the easy tasks first in order to ease into the day. But, when you reach the more challenging items, it will be much harder to complete because your brain is already depleted. You’re not doing yourself any favors.

4. Take Breaks

Small breaks energize your mind and make you able to continue working optimally for longer.

These breaks could include a meditation (focus on breathing for a set period of time), a short walk, or even a power nap. You’ll come back energized and ready to conquer the rest of the day!

5. Self-Care Matters

Take care of yourself.

Your brain and physical body function optimally when you are eating right, sleeping well, and not overworking yourself.

6. Don’t Go It Alone: Outsource

Reduce the number of decisions you must make by outsourcing them.

For example, hire virtual assistants to cover the simple business decisions or hire extra employees to tackle more complex decisions.

7. Stand Firm

Once a decision is made, stick to it!

You already spent quite a lot of energy making that decision. There’s no need to go back, spend more energy, and change decisions. You’re just increasing your workload and decreasing your mental energy.

It’s Start with Your Mindset

Interestingly, it could be beneficial to change your view on how mental energy is used.

A study was conducted comparing Westerners and Indians. The Indian participants believed that exerting willpower was energizing, while the Western participants believed that exerting willpower was draining. The Indians performed better. Therefore, perhaps just changing your mindset regarding the brain’s energy could affect your energy levels.

A world full of decisions can be draining, but luckily there are multiple strategies to help you combat decision fatigue.

Increase Customer Engagement with Out-of-the-Box QR Codes

Not long ago, scanning books or groceries by a rectangle barcode seemed quite novel.

It was fast, convenient, and just a little fun. But as society’s pace accelerated, so did our need to read barcodes efficiently. In 1994, Japanese auto-makers adopted “Quick Read” QR codes (square matrix barcodes that could be scanned from any direction) that stored a hundred times more information than conventional barcodes.

Enter QR Creativity

In this micro-attention age, QR codes can catch the fleeting attention of your audience by adding both efficiency and quirkiness to your designs.

Today’s customers love to actively participate – not just passively consume – so why not take people on a “digital scavenger hunt” you’ve created by leading them to a URL for your landing page, a direct link to your social media page, or to retrieve personalized texts from your team?

While many QR codes are bland, they don’t have to be. Here are just a few out-of-the-box ways businesses are using printed QR codes to build bridges with clients:

WiFi Network Sharing

Want to make your network accessible and convenient for your guests?

Simplify this step by building a QR code that allows them to connect to your WiFi with just one scan. Instantly connect users to the network and make their lives more simple and stress-free.

Surprise Gifts

Gifts are a treat, but surprise gifts are even better.

When you want to thank a VIP customer or impress a first-time client, offer them a printed thank you postcard with an unexpected giveaway they can access by scanning the QR code. This builds emotional engagement by adding both participation and a greater level of surprise.

Menus

Try replacing bulky tri-folds with simple table tents or bookmarks when you want to keep your menus crisp and current.

Customers can scan the QR code to read the full menu, view seasonal or daily specials, or even pay after completing the order.

Invoice Surveys

When you ship goods to your client, offer a discount if they complete a quick survey after scanning your QR code.

Happy clients are more willing participants. Grab them on the spot as they unbox their new purchases!

Die Cut Overlays

If you use plain brown gift bags or simple white boxes, you can add color and charm with die-cut labels that double as a funky patterned QR code (like this playful QR valentine).

Who says beauty and functionality can’t co-exist? Have some fun taking people on “the code less traveled.”

Captivating Colors

Why live in the monochromatic when you can design in color?

Modern QR code generators allow you to add zest to your QR code based on your aim, style, and brand theme. Some software even allows you to choose patterns, build logos or faces into your code, or add sophisticated gradients.

Bridge the Gap Between Print & Digital

Nielson found about 56% of consumers rely on printed matter for sales information, specifically when seeking information on a purchasing decision.

Print is seen as a concrete, reliable source, especially for prospects nearing a decision. By including QR codes in print marketing, you increase the potential for landing a valuable client. Consider using QR codes for:

  • Product packaging, invoice stuffers
  • Printed menus, business cards, or rack cards
  • Store promotions with discounts available at checkout
  • Promotional games, puzzles, or scavenger hunts
  • Stickers for merchandise, packaging, displays, or cards

Increase your conversion rates while coaxing prospects further down the sales funnel in a fun, effortless manner.

Rise and Shine with Big, Breathtaking Displays

Ready to stop traffic with eye-catching displays?

Spectacular banners and backdrops ensure a competitive edge. Researchers estimate it takes only one-fifth of a second to evaluate a brand image, and 94% of that is design related. If you want to get all eyes on you, large-scale displays bring a big statement with a smashing style.

Here are four fun possibilities to consider for your next conference, sidewalk display, or community event.

1. Rigid Signs

When you want to provide classy directional signage or a beautiful lobby accent, rigid signs offer many versatile options.

Consider rigid metal, acrylic, or plastic signs to post store hours, prominently display your logo, or spruce up your welcome space. Rigid signs can be displayed using wall clamps, bolt spacers, and easels, or fitted to a steel plate base that uses hook and loop connections to make graphic changes quick and simple.

Try shapes like an arrow, beveled oval, or a contour customized to your logo.  

2. Full Height Tension Fabric Displays

It takes the right piece to communicate the right message, and nothing says proficiency like an oversized stretch banner.

Full height fabric displays are lightweight, easy to set up, and impressive. Stretch fabric mounts to an economy aluminum frame, making this option portable and easy to assemble. Carry bags and wheeled frames add to the efficiency.

Simply attach the graphic, pop and expand the frame, and enjoy the limelight!

3. Campaign Counters

When you want an outdoor pop-up solution or a point-of-purchase kiosk, a campaign counter booth might be just right.

Like a ticket station on the go, a campaign counter offers a conversational space for you to engage prospects or post table-top displays. Featuring quick assembly and colorful panels, a campaign counter is perfect for retail promotion and use in trade show and event environments.

Take it on the road or pack it away for later because these pop-up booths can be easily disassembled and stored in a convenient carry bag.

4. Incline Stands

Do you like to wander through home and garden shows or visit the street fair?

Part of the draw is the creative three-dimensional displays you find in these spaces, so why not bring some of this creativity into your atmosphere? Incline stands can add depth and character to any lobby, sidewalk marketing, or high-traffic event space. Built as A-frame easels or an inverted “V” foldout, incline stands range in height from an oversized chalkboard menu to a 7-foot welcome sign.

Incline stands are a nice way to provide ambiance and information in any professional setting, with a laid back, classy design that puts customers at ease.

Inspire Confidence with a Five-Star Appearance

Store displays and large events offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect and build influence, so come ready with your A-game.

Your exhibits set the tone for your entire brand, so don’t skimp. From pop-up booths to backlit fabric stretch banners, start conversations that turn curious bystanders into your next customers.

Shape Crystal Clear Lead Generators with Three Building Blocks

Presidential campaigns are a time when passions run high and candidates jostle for the spotlight.

Avid supporters of each candidate put signs in their yards, wear buttons, or put stickers on their bumpers. Politicians who use simple, repeatable slogans have a higher success rate and a longer shelf life in the public square. Can you finish any of these popular mantras?

  • Tippacanoe and __________ (Tyler Too/William Henry Harrison)
  • A Chicken in Every Pot and __________ (A Car in Every Garage/Herbert Hoover)
  • Happy Days are ________ (Here Again/Franklin Roosevelt)
  • I Like ____ (Ike, Dwight D. Eisenhower)
  • Make America ________ (Great Again/Donald Trump)

A good presidential campaign slogan is memorable, meaningful, and highly quotable. More than a phrase, it builds a heart connection with the dreams and needs of listeners.

And it is often a candidate’s key to victory.

Why Confusion Scares People

Voters and prospective customers aren’t so different.

Both are weighing decisions and navigating information overload, so strong messages should be short and sweet. Customers will not progress when in a fog because no one likes being confused. If you are confused about the rules of the road, you could smash your car. If you are confused about a medication’s dosage, you could poison yourself. Feeling uncertain about an idea leaves people feeling vulnerable.

The human brain is designed to experience delight when it understands something and resistance or fear when it doesn’t. This is a basic survival mechanism and a way to logically categorize information. When someone feels uncertain, they naturally move away from situations that confuse them and toward places they feel more in control.

Many companies miss this point and underestimate the emotional weight of precise, repeatable messaging. They overcommunicate, bury the lead, or complicate the storyline.

Lift the Fog and Move Prospects Toward Action

Want to eliminate uncertainty and move your prospects toward action?

From a direct mail postcard to an email drip campaign, here are three basics that every lead generator should include:

1. Pique Curiosity

In the header of your brochure or the beginning of your proposal, pique curiosity with a poignant phrase, like:

  • Save $500 a month and buy your next car with cash
  • Put a stop to this before it puts a stop to YOU
  • Increase your ACT score by 4 points in 4 months
  • Own your own little piece of paradise

Strong hooks work to draw people in, press the pain point, paint a compelling future vision, or appeal to the selfish desires of key customers.

2. Preview a Solution

After the hook comes your pitch.

If your lead statement draws them in, the next idea you communicate should answer the “but how?” question.

Like this:

  • Save $500 a month and buy your next car with cash . . . with our Freedom Finder Debt Consolidation plan
  • Increase your ACT score by 4 points in 4 months . . . with one-to-one Varsity Tutoring
  • Own your own little piece of paradise . . . Unlock the world with thousands of hassle-free timeshares

3. Offer a Next Step

Businesses are meant to be transactional, and it’s not pushy to ask for a sale.

Having a “Buy Now” or “Schedule a Call” button on your sell sheet or website helps your customer understand the kind of relationship you are inviting them into. Make your next step to put prospects in the driver’s seat.

By adding clarity to your lead generators, you’ll build customer confidence, make your brand more memorable, and ultimately close more deals.  The better your hooks are, the more successful your sales will be!

Use Collaborative Design Blasts to Craft Show-Stopping Ideas

It happens.

The design deadline looms, your mind is adrift, and your page is blank. How can you generate creativity and move out of this slump? Two resources to leverage are your time and your team

Often the longer you spend on an idea, the less productive you become. Especially if you are working alone. With an open concept and no firm timeline, designers may sit at their desks for weeks, spinning endless variations of a vague concept or completely losing sight of the project goals. This is a dead end that can drive everyone mad.

Instead, apply a simple process to prompt stunning ideas efficiently:

1. Gather a team

Everyone has good ideas, not just designers.

Who could you pull – account assistants, content writers, a family member – to brainstorm for a brief stretch of time? Use a pen and paper and spend time thinking aloud together about names, word pictures, or image ideas. Keep it short and sweet but have fun!

2. Review the design brief and project goals 

Amidst the flurry of creativity, stay focused on your target.

When you gather the team for an initial brainstorming session, always review the project requirements. Be sure you understand what the client wants, the project parameters, and the goals for final outcome. This task review and initial brainstorming should last for no more than 10-15 minutes.

3. Launch a 60-minute development blast

Time to send the troops into battle!

If you are the sole designer, it’s all you. If not, send a small batch of people to work for one hour. The group has 60 minutes to come up with ideas. No more! The abbreviated timeframe forces your brain into green light thinking, prompting more spontaneous creativity. Typically pencil, pen, and paper are best for stretching ideas without inhibitions.

After an hour, meet again to chat. Give comments or suggestions to develop the full potential of the best ideas. Usually, a handful of ideas emerge as the best candidates. Now a final concept can be clarified, assigned for full development, and kicked into the digital realm.

If you can’t decide which idea is best, pick the top three and draw scamps to a higher level of finish. Pin them to the wall, talk about the pros and cons of each, and see what the collaborative process brings. Just a little team mojo can make a mediocre idea magical.

4. Keep early and rejected work

Often when you pitch ideas to clients, some of the best ideas get cut.

This is unfortunate, but not all is lost. All good designers will build up a collection or rejected work. Whether it’s an early stage scribble or a fully developed logo, keep a printout of every piece of work. Scan sketches and scamps and clearly label them, so they are accessible later and easy to find.

You invest lots of time shaping a concept, so don’t let an initial rejection close the door on your idea forever. Down the road, these ideas may be a catalyst for an even better spinoff design!