Helpful Phrases for Starting and Developing a Professional Letter

Are you looking to entice a new lead or persuade a big client?

Business letters are an especially persuasive medium, especially printed letters. In this era, when digital communication is so prevalent, people sometimes forget the power of a traditional letter. When you want to pitch a sale, resolve a dispute, or propose a new partnership, a letter shows you are serious and sincere.

In many transactions, a letter is an official record, but it can be challenging to strike the right tone in your correspondence. The way you start or end a letter can make all the difference in how you come across.

Need some ideas to get you started? Here are a few helpful phrases:

Salutations

  • Dear Mr. Smith
  • Dear Doctor Ernst
  • Dear Sir or Madam
  • Dear [Job Title Here] – e.g., Claims Adjustor, Recruiter, Account Supervisor
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • To our Valued ______
  • Hello David
  • Hello from Phoenix!

Inquiries and Introductory Phrases

  • It is our pleasure to inform you that
  • I am writing to confirm/request/inquire about . . .
  • Having seen your advertisement in . . .
  • I was recently reading about ______ and wanted to know _________
  • I received your contact from ______ and I would like to ___________
  • I recently heard ___________ and I was hoping to connect with you about ____________
  • Have you ever wondered about/needed/wanted to know ______________?

Enclosures

  • Please find enclosed  . . .
  • In this letter I am including a ___________ (estimate, catalog, proposal, brochure)
  • I would love to introduce you to ____, and I am including _____ for your review

Offering Future Assistance

  • If you require more information, please let us know
  • Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any further assistance
  • We would be happy to provide a consult on _____________
  • I would love the opportunity to introduce you to _________

Referring to Future Contact

  • I am looking forward to hearing from you soon!
  • Thank you for your consideration!
  • We would appreciate your reply at your earliest convenience
  • I appreciate your immediate attention to this matter
  • We are looking forward to meeting you on January 21 in ______________
  • I will call on ______ to schedule a _________

Closers

  • Sincerely Yours
  • All the Best
  • Kind Regards
  • Respectfully
  • Yours in _____ (refer to industry)
  • We Appreciate Your Consideration
  • Thank You for Your Time

Pro Tip: Whether your letter is casual or formal, all introductory or sales letters should follow the AIDA principle (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). When you write a professional letter, your aim is to grab attention, compel people to keep reading, increase their desire to respond, and prompt them to action. 

Tell and Sale with This Winning Combination

If you want to grab attention with a powerful, relevant, engaging mailing, professionally printed enclosures can seal the deal.

There is an old saying in direct mail: the letter sells, but the brochure tells. In any direct mailing, combining a letter and brochure (or catalog) can be an especially potent combination.

Ready to get started? Save time and trouble by partnering with our experienced team! When it’s time to move forward, we’ll help you create stunning pieces that make your message shine. We’ll lighten your load by streamlining the entire process from initial formatting to direct mail packaging and delivery.

Contact us today for details!

5 Simple Marketing Strategies for the 2020 Holiday Season

If you are like many people, you may be wondering about the best way to celebrate the holidays this season.

As the world grapples with COVID-19, everyone will be making adjustments. This includes families, businesses, and even brands.

What will the 2020 holidays look like? And how will you adjust your sales and marketing plans accordingly? Agile marketing requires you to anticipate customer needs now and pivot to the demands of this new season.

Need inspiration? Here are just a few ideas about how to market your business this year.

1. Spread Out the Sales

Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the holiday season, is seeing the biggest change this year, with many major retailers like Target Corp., Walmart Inc., Macy’s Inc., and others instead hosting month-long sales and online initiatives to offer their customers safer ways to shop.

In particular, Target’s “Black Friday Now” initiative offers four weeklong sales, starting with a focus on electronics, then kitchen items and floor care, then electronics apparel and beauty, and then ending with deals on toys, kitchen items, floor care and electronics. The deals also qualify for the retailer’s Price Match Guarantee, where shoppers can request a price adjustment on any item between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24.

2. Push Local Pleasures

Since people are traveling less, consider how you can offer a hometown experience that is both safe and special.

In some communities, local businesses are banding together to compile curated boxes tailored to specific buyer personas. For example, a coffee box might feature a mug, a book, a pair of cozy socks, and several specialty roasts from 3-4 local businesses. A foodie gift box might include a few baked goodies with several gift cards for specialized, private dining experiences in your neighborhood.

Whether you offer a retail item or an unforgettable outing, today is a great time to put your community on a pedestal!

3. Offer Early Shopping Incentives

When people want to avoid the rush, offering freebies can tip them toward your business.

Can you build a unique stocking stuffer to go with each purchase? Or offer a fun experience with grab bags or surprise items they can purchase at a discounted rate for unwrapping at home? From BOGO specials to free shipping, make it worth their while to buy early!

4. Make Returns a Snap

With so much uncertainty this year, people will be craving extra assurance.

How do you publicize your return policy? Make things as simple as possible and spread the word far and wide. If you have a retail space, post it on your wall, your front counter, your cash register, or on customer receipts or purchase inserts. On your website, spell it out on a page and make sure that links to that page are visible on the home page. Add it to your flyers, social media pages, or anywhere you can assure clients you’ve got their back. 

5. Add Custom Packaging to Brighten the Mood

Whether it’s getting the mail each day or unwrapping a customer appreciation gift, the ”unboxing” process has become a critical part of the customer experience.

Around 45% of surveyed people say they were more excited about receiving their order when it included customized wrapping. Be creative and colorful to make this season merry and bright!

Tis the Season to Set Yourself Apart

Want to increase the emotional attachment customers have to your business?

From a dash of color on your envelope to a custom print piece, holiday pizazz can be a part of any business budget. If you’d like to chat about options, give us a call!

Color Outside the Margins with Gorgeous Full Bleed Printing

When you want your color print project to dazzle and delight, you may want to use a bleed technique in your printing.

Sound strange? Well, the result is beautiful! Here’s what you need to know about this option.

What is a Bleed?

A bleed is a printing technique where your design is printed bigger than the final product’s finished size and then cut down to size, eliminating any unwanted white space or borders around the edge of your design.

Typically, bleeds refer to the extra 1/8” (.125 in) of an image or background color that extends beyond the trim area you’d like to feature. A bleed project is printed on an oversized sheet that is then cut down to size, giving the impression that the image is “bleeding” off the paper’s edge.

When Can a Bleed be Used?

Bleeds work well if your design has a full-colored background and can be used for any project where you want your design to extend to the edge of the sheet.

Bleeds can improve the precision of any print project. Why? Because without a bleed, you’ll see a tiny bit of white on even the most carefully arranged and cropped document. When you print “outside the margins” with a document bleed, then there’s no room for error. The final product will be perfectly cut with a crisp, immaculate appearance.

When you are printing a booklet or something that will be folded, you’ll probably want to use bleeds on the interior borders so it doesn’t look as though the project is unfinished. Work to have colors meet in the middle, so your design flows effortlessly from one page to the next.

Where or How Can I Add Bleeds to My Design?

Each design program addresses bleeds differently, but here are some basics to get you started:

InDesign: InDesign is best suited for print. You can set up both bleed and margins in the “Document Setup” box when creating a new document. Simply bring your bleeds and margins up to 0.125 inches for the top, bottom, inside, and outside. Your document will have visible lines for you upon creation.

Illustrator: In the initial “Document Setup” window, set your bleeds to 0.125 inches for both top, bottom, inside, and outside. You cannot set up margins in Illustrator, so you will have to use guides once your document is open.

Photoshop: This one is a bit complex. In Photoshop, you will have to add ¼ inch (.25) to your final document size to account for the bleed margin you need. For example, if your document is 8.5” x 11”, you will need to set the document up in Photoshop to be 8.75” x 11.25”. Extend all bleeding images and graphics to the edge of your page and then use the design rulers to create guides for your trim and safety margins.

Publisher: Publisher is similar to Photoshop. To set your document up to bleed, simply add .25” to your document size in the Page Setup window and use design rulers accordingly.

Word: Unfortunately, you cannot set up a full bleeding document in Word. 

Still feeling uncertain? There are many online helps (like this quick InDesign bleed tutorial) that can get you started. Or leave the heavy lifting to our creative design team! We’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re creating a template or need start-to-finish graphic design, we’re here to consult, create, and bring your best ideas to life. Give us a call!

How to Kickstart Your Noodle During a Creative Block

“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.” (Paul Rand, graphic designer)

Never does a page seem so bleak as when you experience a creative rut in design.

Design ruts are the graphic artist’s equivalent of writer’s block. And everyone has been there! The world’s most imaginative people have experienced this obstacle and found a way to battle through.

One benefit of getting stuck is that you’re forced to rediscover your own creativity! Need help getting started? Here are some different ways to break out of stagnation when you’re stuck on a design:

1. Think laterally

Designs are ultimately problems waiting to be solved.

When you are stymied by the project at hand, come at the problem from a different angle, no matter how extreme it might seem.

One way to do this is to temporarily focus your thinking around individual parts of a message, like why a client might need your product or what pictures might best communicate its benefits.

2. Concentrate on your market

What are your target customers used to seeing, and what would make them lean forward and take note?

Maybe you need to challenge existing assumptions and go for something bolder. For example, in the financial world, materials tend to be produced in very corporate colors, like navy blue and grey. How could a fresh design upend traditional concepts in a way that is appealing and energizing?

3. Try the “what if” or the “why” game

When designs don’t seem to flow, start with questions instead. Like this:

What if questions:

  • What if I only use illustrations?
  • What if I only use type?
  • What if the type made the illustration?
  • What if I draw it with my eyes closed?

Why questions:

  • Why do I need to focus on this particular product feature?
  • Why is this feature important to prospects?
  • Why is this something that will impact their life in a significant way?
  • Why is this something they need to think about now versus later?

4. Take a Quick Tutorial

While it can be tempting to rip off a design from someone else, one of the best ways to build your original muscle is to go back to the drawing board.

An easy way to do this is to jump into an online tutorial. Though traditionally intended to educate, tutorials can be a rich source of design inspiration. Don’t merely skim the tutorial and glance at the result, go through the tutorial step by step with the author.

Doing this will force you to think like another person as you try to understand the implementation of methods that aren’t your own. This can energize you to think about new possibilities.

Don’t Force a Solution

When you feel overwhelmed by your lack of inspiration, remember that feeling stuck is just another step in the creative process.

If all else fails, embrace the moment and give it some time. What seems like a rut now might be an important step on your creative journey. Be patient, learn from it, and trust that you’ll come out on the other side.

Need help with your design idea? We can help!

The Flexibility and Significance of Today’s Small Businesses

Greg Goetzman, 58, isn’t much of a gambler, but when COVID-19 sent people home in March, he placed his odds on a new small business model: assigning half his staff to work from home permanently.

With nearly 100 employees, this was a huge shift for the California-based financial consulting firm. Goetzman realized that success would hinge on his ability to carefully outfit employees with equipment and systems to seamlessly communicate. Team members appreciated the flexibility, and this large-scale investment is paying off:

“I haven’t seen a drop in work quality,” Goetzman said, “We are fortunate that our consultants are flexible and accustomed to working from different locations, therefore, they were prepared and there were no issues transitioning to working remotely.”

The novel coronavirus forced strategic business pivots and rapid innovation for many companies, but small businesses have certainly been forced to improvise. And that may be a good thing. Goetzman says that, while revenue is down slightly for the year, the overall workload is increasing. And the new business model will be tweaked as they go:

“We are changing the way we do business,” he said. “It’s going to be some blend of working from home and work from the office. We maybe had 20% of our employees working remotely before COVID. It’s closer to 100% now. I think we will end up somewhere in the middle of that.”

Four Remarkable Small Business Facts

While big business often dominates headlines, small businesses play a vital role in exporting products, creating jobs, and producing wealth for thousands of families.

Here are four remarkable facts about the big impact of small businesses:

1. Nearly all are small

Small businesses make up the vast majority of companies in America, comprising 99.9 percent of all firms.

Out of 32.5 million businesses, over 30 million are small!

2. Half are home-based

A home-based business may have activity outside of the home, but it is operated primarily from the home.

According to the SBA statistics, 50% of small businesses are home-based, including 60.1% of firms without paid employees. The most common type of these businesses is sole proprietorship.

3. Small Businesses are nimble

Small business stats show that most businesses in America have fewer than 500 employees.

Those businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 98.2 percent, and those with fewer than 20 employees account for 89 percent of all businesses in the country.

This flexibility certainly helps the economy – according to the small business association, small companies create 1.5 million jobs annually and account for 64 percent of new jobs created each year.   

4. Many are greatly impacted by uncertainty

Small businesses are more vulnerable to change, especially when they are young.

Only 50% of small businesses last beyond five years, and during the pandemic, small firms have been hit particularly hard. Nearly 31% of small businesses in the U.S. are currently not operational, and 28 percent of small business owners say cash flow will be their biggest upcoming challenge.

Making People the Priority

This is a hard season to be an entrepreneur.

According to the National Association of Independent Business, more than half of small businesses could be in danger of failing if coronavirus-related restrictions continue, and more government aid isn’t forthcoming.

That’s one reason it is so important to prioritize individual connections and communication that takes place “off the screen.”

Goetzman says COVID-19 has prompted him to return to an old habit, writing appreciative letters to clients in longhand:

“It gets a personal message across in a way that an email or a phone call or a message may not,” he said. “It’s you taking the time to really give some deeper thought to the business relationship and what it means to you.”

Remember, we’re here to help your small business succeed. Reach out to us today to get your personal message out to your audience through print.

Chatter Matters: Use Talk Triggers to Spark Word of Mouth Marketing

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.

Finish in Fine Form with Beautiful Varnish Coatings

Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

You’re not alone! First impressions are essential to how people judge a person, a product, or a business. And when you’re going for visual impact, research suggests visitors will form an impression in as little as 50 milliseconds!

Once you’ve invested all the hard work and planning into your print marketing materials, it is important to go the extra mile on quality.

Want a simple technique that beautifully enhances your impact and appeal? For a budget-friendly bonus, try adding a varnish!

Know Your Options

Just as varnish on a dresser or table protects the wood and gives it a nice finished look, the varnish used on printed pieces enhances their look and durability.

Adding a print varnish brings a transparent coating to your printed page. Varnish can add a unique, creative element to get that five-star appearance, so make sure you choose the one that best fits with the look and tone you’re trying to communicate.

Here are a few options to consider:

Dull

Also known as matte, this is very different from a varnish-like gloss.

A matte finish is best suited if your design contains a lot of text, as it will deflect light and glare. Using a dull varnish can be an excellent tool for improving readability on pages containing text. Although called dull, matte finishes scream sophistication. These varnish coatings are never overdone but carry a simple and stylish vibe.

Gloss

As its name indicates, this varnish is the diva of the bunch and gives a glossy type of appearance.

Gloss varnish makes colors look more saturated, and your design elements look crisper and sharper. It is perfect for printed pages containing items like photographs and graphics, adding a glare or shine to bring extra attention to the areas where it is applied. An overall gloss varnish will protect areas with heavy coverage from rubbing off and will keep your piece from scuffing.

Satin

Looking to strike a compromise?

Satin varnish is created by mixing gloss and matte varnishes and offers a moderate amount of shine. This option is ideal if you have a lot of photo and text combination pieces.

Spot Varnish

Want to highlight a certain section of your piece, so it leaps off the page?

Spot varnishes are a great way to maximize the contrast between matte and gloss surfaces. This technique allows you to apply varnish to an individual image or graphic on your printed piece (such as a logo or photo) while leaving the rest of the piece unvarnished.

Aqueous Coating

The most popular coating for printed material is aqueous coating.

Aqueous is a clear, water-based coating that is environmentally friendly. Since it is water-based, it is best used on papers with a text weight of 80# or heavier, so you do not end up with curling or wrinkles. Aqueous coating dries quicker than varnishes and makes it ideal for running inline on the press.

UV Varnish

A UV varnish is applied off-line and is cured with ultraviolet light.

This process gives the surface an exceptional gloss and rub resistance. A great example of the glossiness of UV Coating is sports trading cards. These have a UV coating on the photo side but no coating on the stat side. This coating is cured by passing under an ultraviolet light that quickly dries and hardens the coating, creating a high-level sheen but the greatest possible protection. UV coated elements in your piece will take center stage.

Want to add excitement and durability to your next print product? Give us a call to talk about varnish options today!

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.

 

How to Restart the Conversation When a Lead Has Gone Cold

Adding new customers to your sales funnel is essential for growth, and lead generation is vital.

For many industries, generating a lead can cost anywhere from $25 to $300. So, after you’ve made an initial contact or pushed for a commitment, what should you do when prospects disengage?

Don’t give up! When leads stop responding, hope is not lost. Smart entrepreneurs can use many strategies to rekindle interest. Here are a few options to consider:

Prime the Pump

Leads go cold for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them.

According to Jim Obermayer, author of Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, 56% of people who indicated they might like to buy a product are still in play six months later, and 35% percent are still in the market after one year.

“Leads do not go cold as much as it is not yet their time to buy in the one-year cycle,” Obermayer said. “A rep may approach them before they are ready.”

Though it’s challenging to follow up after a long window of time, Obermayer suggests priming the pump, using an email first, followed by a personal call.

Ask One Key Question

Don’t start a conversation without a strategy or direction.

When you reconnect, remind the prospect of the last time you spoke, the level of interest they expressed, and any questions you discussed.

If they weren’t initially ready to buy, tell them you’re following up to gauge interest or update them on what’s changed since the last interaction (like a revamped product or updated subscription options). If they still seem non-committal, don’t be afraid to ask this question:

“Should I close your file?”

Differentiate Your Approach

If leads have been ignoring your outreach attempts, try adding value, or shifting your approach.

Consider a direct text message campaign, an email with a link to a freebie, or a direct mail invitation to a special event. Custom videos can also provide a non-threatening way to break the ice. Call prospects by name, refer to your previous conversation, and send an encouraging message to show you care about them personally.

You may be surprised by what a kind word can do!

Send a Break-Up Email

If you’ve followed up with someone multiple times and your prospects seem bleak, it’s ok to send a farewell message.

In fact, a last chance email can elicit a 76% response rate. Used in a friendly, conversational way, giving final notice can jolt someone out of complacency and get them moving.

Here’s one example:

Hi Tina,

After several attempts to reconnect, it seems your interest in _____ may have waned. That’s totally fine, but I’m just wondering if we should keep trying or find a better time?

To keep things simple, I’d appreciate if you could respond with a simple keystroke (reply with either A, B, C, D, or E) to indicate your level of interest:

  • A. Stop emailing me with attempts to connect but continue to send event invitations.
  • B. Please remove me from your list.
  • C. I may need your help, but the timing isn’t right. Please keep trying!
  • D. I want to schedule a time to talk – could you please send your availability?
  • E. I forgot who you are. Can you refresh my memory?

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Think of Reconnecting as an Opportunity

One of the best ways to revive a cold lead is to stay positive.

Don’t worry about annoying a prospect; the only way you’ll know if someone’s interested is by asking! While you don’t want to be pushy, it’s better to error on the side of optimism. In reality, only 10% to 25% of all leads are followed up on. By following up, you stand a chance of standing out.

How to Lead with a Level Head in Stressful Situations

On January 15, 2009, US Airways flight 1549 ascended from LaGuardia Airport and had a chance encounter with an unexpected adversary.

Shortly after take-off, the Airbus struck a flock of Canadian geese. Flames exploded before an eerie silence, and an odor of fuel filled the cabin. Both engines had shut down, and Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his team tried unsuccessfully to restart them. After turning back toward LaGuardia, the pilots quickly realized their only option was an emergency water landing in the Hudson River.

As they passed less than 900 feet above the George Washington Bride, Sullenberger radioed the coast guard for assistance and barked “brace for impact!” Ninety seconds later, the plane crashed into the water with no bounce, followed by a gradual deceleration and a speedy deboarding. All 150 passengers were saved, and Sullenberger was the last to deplane after walking the cabin twice to ensure it was empty.

Later, the crew was presented with “keys to the city” by mayor Micheal Bloomberg, and the incident was dubbed “the miracle on the Hudson.”

Four Tips to Steady Your Nerve

Have you ever had a “falling-through-the-floor feeling” moment like this in your leadership?

Maybe it wasn’t a life or death experience, but most seasoned leaders regularly experience pressure. While these moments may tempt you to lash out in anger or duck and run, level-headed leaders make decisions that are rational, consistent, and upbeat.

Want to stay calm in the heat of the moment? Here are four steps to consider:

1. Conduct a Threat Assessment

When the alarm signals start to flash, it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of “what if” statements: What if X? What if XYZ? 

Instead, step away from this panic-mode mentality and ask a simple question: “what kind of problem is this?” Here you can discern if something needs an immediate reaction, a team-based response, or a strategic, long-term plan.

2. Leverage Prior Experience

While you may not have faced this particular challenge before, you’ve probably been in a similar situation. 

Ask yourself, “When ____ happened before, how did we resolve it?” Even if you’ve only faced this scenario in training, tell yourself, “this is just a different version of a problem I’ve solved before.” Leveraging past experiences (and those of your close colleagues) can help you size up a challenge and rationally consider the threats at hand.

3. Focus on What You Can Control

When things get tough, it isn’t easy to stay positive. 

But an upbeat attitude is more than a rosy perspective; it’s actually a lifeline to breakthrough. One Navy-trained explosive specialist shared a story of a time he was defusing a mine underwater and got trapped, unable to move his hands or his feet. 

How did he move forward? With positive thinking: “I’m still breathing, so that’s good,” he told himself. “What else do I have that’s going for me?” 

The specialist realized that even if he could do one little thing to make something better, this was better than no control at all:

“If you can do another thing and then another thing, then you can have cascading positivity as opposed to spiraling negativity,” he said. “It’s really only an emergency if I can’t find a better solution.”

4. Plan Your Next Step

Even if you can’t see a way out, you can probably take one step forward. 

When you don’t have a solution, the secret to staying calm is to decide on a next step. This prevents an anxious gap from opening, where worry and speculation can flourish.  

Think in technical terms, ask for help, and take a baby step forward wherever possible. Focus on the process, not the outcome, and you’ll stay sharp in moments of crisis.