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Metrics are Your Benchmarks for Success

Metrics are Your Benchmarks for Success

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Every success is based on the achievement of expectations, whether it’s exceeding a goal, meeting requirements or delivering a finished product that’s well-received by a customer. And, in order to truly chalk up successes when they occur, it’s important to understand and define your expectations at the very beginning.

Metrics play an integral role in the pursuit of success because they do so much to facilitate the end result. Without a benchmark for what needs to be achieved or a method for evaluating the process from conception to fruition, you might not truly understand what it is you’re shooting for and what it takes to get there. Because of this, every first step on the road towards success needs to start with well-defined metrics.

What are metrics?

Simply put, metrics are facts, figures and data that illustrate progress, goals, and even setbacks in regard to a specific aspect of business. You might have metrics that are used specifically for a project—like a budget, timeline and deliverable materials—while other, broader metrics may be used to define larger models of success—such as measuring revenue in a fiscal year, manpower hours and client retention.

Metrics are put into place to clearly define exactly where you stand in terms of your goals. If you’re meeting the benchmarks defined by your metrics, you know you’re on track for success; if you’re not, you’ll be alerted to the need for improvement and reevaluation of your processes and goals.

How do you create the right metrics?

Creating metrics to gauge your successes isn’t about picking goals out of the air and working towards them—it’s about evaluating your resources, abilities and potential to ensure that you’re setting standards that are attainable, yet push the boundaries for positive growth.

Metrics should always be straightforward and clearly designed. Good metrics will tell you three things: 1) your goal, 2) where you stand concerning your goal, and 3) areas that are surpassing or falling short of your expectations.

Why are metrics important?

Metrics are important because they give insight into all facets of business—even those that are not specifically defined within the metrics that you set down. Let’s take a look at a basic example:

Your company has defined metrics for annual revenue and new client acquisition, which specify goals of $1.2 million in total revenue and 120 new clients over the fiscal year. After the first quarter of the year (three months), you evaluate your metrics to find that you’ve obtained $250,000 in revenue and have secured 35 new clients so far. By overlaying these figures with your metrics, you’re able to see that while you’re exceeding your projections for new client acquisition, you’re falling a bit short on your revenue goal.

Using the example above, we’re able to glean a significant amount of data about business operations and how the metrics are being affected by these operations. For example, exceeding a client acquisition goal but falling short on a revenue goal could mean that the value of new client contracts isn’t keeping up with revenue needs. It could also mean that the pricing model for specific services is too low to be sustainable. Finally, it might also suggest that the business is marketing to the wrong types of clients and is undervaluing its potential for securing high-revenue customers.

Metrics are the gateway to understanding your business in all of its facets and knowing your strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and pitfalls, no matter where they might be occurring. And while setting goals and creating metrics are crucially important for any business, it’s equally important to evaluate these metrics consistently, to proactively act and react to shortcomings before they create problems and disruptions that become immediate issues for business.

The strive for continued improvement

Metrics are by no means concrete and, in fact, they should evolve and be revisited constantly by a business. Simply “setting and forgetting” metrics does nothing to solidify their purpose. Constantly benchmarking your business against its many metrics is a sound way to make the necessary changes to your operations that will grow the business continually and sustainably. Metrics create accountability that will help your business succeed in both the short and long term.

August 19 / 2015
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Five Reasons Every Vehicle Fleet Needs to be Outfitted with Vehicle Wraps

Five Reasons Every Vehicle Fleet Needs to be Outfitted with Vehicle Wraps

Alphagraphics vehicle wrap

If you’re a business that has a fleet of vehicles behind it—whether your fleet is five trucks strong or encompasses a hundred different vehicles—it’s essential to bear in mind the impact vehicle wraps can have on your ability to brand yourself. By placing your company name onto the side of a vehicle, sprawling it across an entire auto or just applying a few window clings, you can turn just about any vehicle into a moving billboard that spreads brand awareness further than just about any other form of marketing.

What benefits do vehicle wraps bring to the table and how can you leverage them for optimal brand awareness and advertising success? Here are five reasons every company with a vehicle fleet needs to invest in wraps:

  • Your vehicle is mobile and if it’s wrapped in branding that embodies your company, it means your advertising is mobile as well! Stationary signage, billboards or even something as mind-boggling as skywriting can’t compare to the type of exposure you’re going to see from a single vehicle wrap. For every mile your fleet vehicle traverses, your message reaches more and more people!
  • With the mobility of a vehicle comes the opportunity to reach new demographics like never before. While you may be drawing the attention of more people with every mile travelled, you might also be turning the heads of potential customers and clients who you could never have reached previously. Whether you’re sending a vehicle to the next town or your fleet is mobilized all across the country, you can bet you’re reaching a new audience each and every day.
  • The return on investment for vehicle wraps is enormous! For what you’ll pay for a vehicle wrap, that cost will quickly recoup itself in saved advertising dollars and new customer acquisitions. Compare the cost of having your fleet wrapped to the cost of buying a radio spot, television ad, magazine placement or some other form of traditional advertising and you’ll quickly see where your marketing dollars are best spent—on a vehicle wrap!
  • There’s a certain sense of uniformity and cohesion that vehicle wraps inspire when people look at them that can say a lot about your company and its ability to project itself. Customers and clients want to know that a company is organized, attentive to detail, invested in itself and proud of its work—all characteristics that can be seen in a prim and proper fleet vehicle outfitted with a branded vehicle wrap.
  • Finally, vehicle wraps are truly an investment in and of themselves. They’ll work for you day in and day out, in rain or shine, no matter the season or year; simply put, they’re timeless. Other marketing materials serve their purpose and are discarded in favor of the next big thing, while vehicle wraps remain relevant for as long as you use them. If you have a fleet of vehicles, take the time to consider the above five factors that are attributed to vehicle wraps. Making the decision to brand your vehicles could just be the best thing you do for your business this year!

  • Signs, Posters and Banners: the Large Format Print Trifecta

    Signs, Posters and Banners: the Large Format Print Trifecta

    alphagraphics san francisco banners signs posters

    Large format printing has been a cornerstone of business since the inception of public advertising. The phrase “the bigger the better” tends to ring true when it comes to large format print advertising. Often size is a precursor to attention, meaning when something is big enough to see, it’s likely going to attract an audience.

    But size isn’t the only factor that makes large format printed products like signs, posters and banners effective. When crafted with the right application and audience in mind, this trifecta of advertising staples is enough to create commotion in your marketing campaign.

    What makes the three work so well together? And how can they fill different niches when deployed? Here are the roles they’re destined to play in any successful campaign:

    Signs

    Alphagraphics San Francisco restaurant marketing Full Color Sidewalk Sign

    What comes to mind when you think of a sign? Chances are, it’s the idyllic piece of advertising that defines the business associated with it—the big red Target Bullseye, the block letters and the mermaid on every Starbucks store cup, the apple outline that graces every Apple Store, etc. Signs are an essential piece of branding that help form the foundation of your business image.

    Alphagraphics San Francisco custom wall graphic 3-D channel lettering

    Whether you’re projecting a symbol, your company name, a brief message or some other hook, the purpose of a sign is simple: to make your business memorable. Your sign could very well be the first thing a customer sees, whether it’s displayed in huge channel letters across a building or it’s hanging in the window of your shop. Make it something they will remember and you’ll have a sign that does its job.

    Alphagraphics San Francisco canvas sign on pole pockets

    Posters

    Alphagraphics San Francisco in office signage

    Posters are your attention-grabber, your “here’s what’s happening” message and your way to tell customers, clients and the general public what’s important for them to know. When people look at a poster, they’re expecting to learn something that entices them and they expect to be pleased with what they read. If they’re not enticed or excited, a poster is just another piece of clutter in their crowded field of vision.

    Alphagraphics San Francisco poster

    To this end, it’s best to make the most of your limited opportunity by creating a poster that has it all: an eye-catching approach, a worthwhile statement and a takeaway that will leave people thinking. Whether it’s “50% off of Sale Products!” or “Coming This Sunday: Your Favorite Band on a Local Stage,” a poster is going to be your most comprehensive weapon in the war of information communication, so use it wisely.

    Banners

    Alphagraphics San Francisco Banners

    We like to picture banners as sprawling messages that are unrolled at trade shows or hung up in the event of a sale. And while these types of applications may be correct, it’s important to realize that the size of a banner isn’t the only thing that makes it different from signs and posters.

    Alphagraphics San Francisco Oversized Banner

    Banners serve a vital role in expanding your marketing message and are best used when you’ve got something BIG to say! Calling attention to your company at a trade show, announcing the arrival of a new product in your store, celebrating a grand opening or something similar definitely merits a banner, and your efforts will be rewarded by the attention it’ll attract. People have trained their brains to look for the message a banner displays, so make sure they don’t have to work too hard to see what you’ve got to say!

    alphagraphics large format banner stands

    It’s plain to see that while each is a pure compliment of the others, signs, posters and banners individually serve a vital, distinguishable role in your ability to advertise to the masses. Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, targeted or open for any demographic to see, having large format print as a facet of your advertising is the first step towards a game-winning marketing approach that simply can’t be ignored!

    To see more of our product work samples, please visit our Work Sample Page! 


    Five Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

    Five Surefire Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

    Alphagraphics San Francisco email marketing

    Email marketing can be one of the most beneficial and direct ways to market to specific groups and demographics. However it can also be one of the most fruitless if done incorrectly. There’s a fine line between great email marketing and an email that’s going to be kicked into the trash, or worse, one that doesn’t even make it past the spam filter. Take a look at five ways you can make sure your email marketing campaign is treading on the side of success rather than floundering when it hits a customer’s inbox:

  • Personalize your messages: Through the use of integration tags and other snippets of code, you can create tailored emails that are completely unique to the different customers you’re sending to. This will ensure that your recipients feel appreciated, rather than just a marketing target. Some personalization tips include designating the customer’s name, rather than their email address in the “To:” section, inserting their name in the greeting of the email and integrating other known information throughout the email, such as past account activities on a certain website.
  • Get to the point: The last thing people want to see when they open up their email is a huge wall of text—nothing is going to put your email in the trash faster. Instead, get to the point of what you’re trying to say and make sure that your clear selling points or important objectives are laid out in a way that’s quickly recognized by your reader. If you’re offering a percentage of the price of an item for sale, make that clear; if you’re hosting an event, make sure that the details are front and center; and if you’re introducing something brand new to a select few email recipients, let your reader know how important they are! Graphics and images go a long way in these scenarios and staying close to the main point is always a good idea.
  • Filter your mailing lists: The quickest way to get someone to unsubscribe from your email list is to inundate them with emails. So how are you supposed to send weekly emails, monthly newsletters, sporadic special emails and other company communications without overloading your customers? Easy: let people pick and choose what they want to get from you. Some people might love getting everything you have to send them, while others might only be interested in your monthly newsletter recap—whatever the case, you’ll retain that customer and be able to market to them in a way that they’re comfortable.
  • Make your emails worth reading: Along the same lines as points #2 and #3 above, be sure that the email you’re sending is full of information or opportunities that people actually care about! You need to look at your email through the eyes of your customers and consider the value that they’re going to get from it. If it’s a memo about your company’s new partnership with another organization, customers might not be all too interested. On the other hand, if it’s an email about a blowout sale you’re having and all of the great deals you have to offer, it’s much easier to see the value in this message!
  • Time your emails: The time of day you send your emails can greatly dictate the likelihood that they’re opened and read, as well as responded to in some way, shape or form. For example, sending an email at 2 a.m. would generally mean that your message is going to sit around in an inbox until the prospect opens it the next morning. By this time, your email might be buried under other morning communications and it might be disregarded as a result. On the other hand, if you send your email at 12 p.m., it might be just in time for someone to get it while they’re setting up for lunch, where they’ll be able to leisurely read what you have to say and potentially respond. Timing is everything—figure out when your customers are most active with their emails and plan around this time to send your communications.
  • By researching, practicing and implementing these five tips for your email campaigns, you’re bound to see better traction and higher return rates from your digital marketing campaigns. Spend a little time considering how your existing email campaigns can be improved by the factors listed above and you’re sure to see a higher return on your investment of time and effort!


    ABC’s of Social Media

    Are You Marketing to Your Major Social Media Channels the Right Way?

    Alphagraphics San Francisco social media marketing

    Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and to a lesser extent now, Google+, have all become staples in our everyday lives—whether we’re enthralled in our own experience or we’re creating content for others. If you’re a social media marketer or are looking to delve into the world of social media marketing to any degree of proficiency, this is a lot to handle. Between creating posts, finding good content, facilitating shares and likes and retweets, gaining followers and becoming a trendsetter, it can be absolutely daunting to say the least.

    The best way to tackle the seemingly insurmountable task of creating good content for your social media channels is to understand the dynamics that each presents—how people use each channel, what type of content is best received on which platform and how to present your content for optimal visibility. Take a look at some of the more intricate facets of each of the major social media channels:

    Facebook

    With no cap on character counts and built-in previews that give your audience a taste of what you’re posting without them ever clicking on it, Facebook is absolutely the platform for messages with more depth. Share pictures, videos and more with ease, knowing full well that even if your post isn’t clicked on by someone, they’re still seeing what you have to offer while scrolling through their news feed. Facebook is the leader for social media these days, so never be afraid to get visual with your posts.

    Twitter

    Twitter is the definition of prolific when it comes to generated content each day and if you’re going to get a word in edgewise amongst the billions of tweets, you’re going to have to get someone’s attention in 140 characters or less. This means having a good hook—say something intriguing, witty, astounding or even argumentative in your 140 characters and follow up with a link to bigger and better content. The key to getting the most exposure, however, is maneuvering and manipulating hash tags—choose your relevant keywords wisely and be sure to make a splash with your hash tags to get the full effect of your Twitter experience.

    Tumblr

    Tumblr is where original content is born these days and 90 percent of it is visual in nature. Don’t be afraid to create original imagery on your Tumblr account and repurpose it elsewhere on the web for full effect. Like Twitter, Tumblr is defined by its hash tag categories, so be sure to create something that will gain traction with those who are looking for similar things by keyword. Also, don’t miss your opportunity to network on Tumblr!

    Instagram

    Utilizing Instagram means connecting with your audience on a personal level. Instagram isn’t the place to churn out the same old content as everyone else: it’s a place to snap some candid pictures, take a few funny photos and show your audience that there’s more than just a brand behind the camera. Genuine photos are going to be your power play on Instagram and if you’re pairing them with the right hash tags, you’re going to see your photos being liked with a tenacity that’s unprecedented on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

    Google+

    It’s no secret these days: Google+ is dying and dying fast. But, that doesn’t mean you can ignore it—in fact, there’s a good chance it will be repurposed, meaning that now is your chance to make something of it, to prepare yourself and your brand for what the future holds. It’s looking more and more like Google+ is going to become a professional repository and a networking platform, much like LinkedIn, so keep your content professional, insightful and on-topic for best results. Also, this is a great place to repurpose your blogs and author intriguing content that can be originally attributed to you.

    There are new social media platforms cropping up every day and dark horses that suddenly become relevant in the world of social connections. Whether it’s one of the above social platforms or something else, like Pinterest, LinkedIn or even YouTube, get to know what kind of content is most suited for that platform, how to present it and how to facilitate it and you’ll put yourself on the path to social media relevance.


    Increase Engagement By Creating Shareable Content

    According to studies, engaging with Facebook creates pleasure signals in the brain. If you can create content that is shareable, you can create a deeper emotional connection with your readers.

    Why We Like, Comment, and Share on Facebook Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

    E-commerce Websites: Your 24/7 Sales Rep

    Whatever your business, no matter how large or small, an E-Commerce Website can help your bottom line. E-commerce websites are online shopping sites. When you set up an online shopping website, you are leveraging your sales power to become a 24/7 sales machine.

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    E-commerce sites are perfect for any business. Why?

    1. Increased Customers – Websites allow you to increase your reach to a more people in your local market and expand into a global market.
    2. Expanded Marketing Reach – Diversify who sees your marketing, as well as gain new marketing tools unique to e-commerce.
    3. Automated Sales Tools – Your e-commerce site is your 24/7 sales rep without the extra salary.
    4. Open 24/7 – An e-commerce store is your 24/7 store front.
    5. Increased Bottom Line – Add up the benefits of increased customers, expanded marketing, automated sales tools, niche market, and 24/7 store front, and you can see how your bottom line will grow.
    6. Create Niche Markets – e-commerce is perfect for niche markets.  Identify a trend, and market your product or service to that niche market.

    The Ideal E-Commerce Site

    1.  Mobile and Tablet Responsive – Over 70% of all online purchases are made from a mobile device.  When creating a new site, make sure it’s mobile responsive. If you have an existing site, get it updated to be mobile friendly!

    2.  Make sure it’s visually appealing and modern – Think about the sites that you buy from. I bet they have that “Love at first site” feeling. Good design and layout are extremely important to making sales and creating loyal buyers.

    3.  Make sure products can be found quickly – If buyers have to search to much, they will leave and move on to the next e-commerce site.

    4. Include product descriptions – Give the buyer vital information. The size, materials, and other pertinent information will help close the sale.

    5. Use high quality product photos.  Great photos=more sales. Simple!

    6. Offer deals, coupons, and discounts.  They are great motivators to close the sale and pull in buyers that are on the fence about making a purchase.

    7. Offer Social Sharing – People love to get input from their tribe and share products they love.

    Check out our gallery of awesome e-commerce sites that are doing it right: #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */






    Alphagraphics San Francisco can help you create the perfect website with all the right elements to be a money making machine.  We can guide you in decisions around:

    • Niche Markets
    • Vertical Markets
    • # of Products and Categories
    • Inventory Management
    • Shipping Options
    • Charging Tax
    • Merchant Accounts
    • Special Needs
    Call us today to get started:

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on California Street:  (415) 986-4091

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on Montgomery Street:  (415) 781-4910

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on 2nd Street:  (415) 882-9390


    Elevate Your Marketing With Custom Presentation Folders

    Custom Presentation folders are the Rolls Royce of print marketing materials. They are elegant, make a stunning first impression, and the recipiant can’t wait to see what’s inside.  For your business, they are an impressive symbol of your organization and brand.

    Presentation Folders – Multi-Purpose Marketing Powerhouse

    Alphagraphics San Francisco RDI cover

    Sales and Marketing Calls

    Custom presentation folders are one of the best ways to make a positive impression at any sales call.   Put together a powerful sales kit and lead your potential customer through a well-thought out presentation.

    Alphagraphics San Francisco RDI interior

    Leave Behinds

    Trying to get that big meeting?  Use a custom presentation folder to create a memorable leave behind packet that will make them pick up the phone. Since customer folders come with a slot for your business card, it will stay attached to your sales materials instead of being tossed on the pile.

    Internal Communication

    It’s not only people outside your company that you may want to impress. You can use your branded presentation folders when you on-board new employees, to give our awards and recognition.

    You can use custom folders for:
    • Brochures
    • Promotional Materials
    • Logo Folder/Branding
    • Media Kit
    • Event invitation and information
    • Include business cards and DVDs
    • Tradeshows and Conferences
    • Cross Media Marketing Campaigns

    Call Alphagraphics San Francisco today so we can help you create the perfect custom folder that exactly fits your needs!

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on California Street:  (415) 986-4091

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on Montgomery Street:  (415) 781-4910

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on 2nd Street:  (415) 882-9390


    Alphagraphics San Francisco Basic Print Requirements

    We’ve prepared a handy guide sheet for submitting digital print files to Alphagraphics. Submitting the right files in the right format can save you time and money, and have a major impact on turn around times.

    ALPHAGRAPHICS SAN FRANCISCO accepted file formats

    BASIC PRINT REQUIREMENTS WHEN WORKING WITH AG SF

    •  File resolution must be at least 300 DPI (dots per inch)
    •  Image resolution must also be 300 DPI
    •  Files must be CMYK (photos can be RGB)
    •  Text must be outlined, or fonts provided as OTF or TTF
    •  Images must be embedded or provided in a package
    •  Printed items extending the page size must have a bleed area on all sides
    •  Documents must have a .125” safety from every edge of the page if not using a bleed

    FILE FORMATS WE ACCEPT

    •  PDF
    •  JPG (if there’s no text-image only)
    •  TIFF (if there’s no text-image only)
    •  Illustrator (outlined fonts, and embedded images)
    •  InDesign (with links and fonts)
    •  Word Documents (with fonts)

    BLEED REQUIREMENTS

    •   Note:  If artwork runs off the page (on any side), please provide an 1/8th inch (.125) bleed
    on all sides
    •   Working in Illustrator or InDesign: save the artboard size as the final cut size, and add the
    .125 inch bleed to the artboard in document settings.

    For example:  If the page is 5.5 x 8.5 inches, please save the artboard as 5.5 x 8.5
    inches, and add a .125 inch bleed to the artboard, so the bleed file size is 5.75 x
    8.75 inches once exported to PDF.

    SAVING A PDF

    In InDesign:  Under the File tab, select “Adobe PDF settings,” and choose “PDF/x-1a.” Once the file is named, hit “save,” then another dialog box will appear. Once inside, under “marks and bleeds,” select “use document bleed settings.” This setting will automatically save it at 300 pixels per inch. Then select “Export,” and the file will save in the chosen destination.
    In Illustrator:   After selecting File-Save, choose PDF, and hit “save.” It will then prompt you to a dialog box for exporting. In the “Adobe PDF Preset” drop-down, select “PDF/x-1a,” then under ”marks and bleeds” select “trim marks” and “use document bleed settings.” Then hit “Save PDF,” and it saves in the location you chose ready for print.

    DIE CUT ITEMS

    All items that are being die cut must be provided in a vector format. We can only accept editable Adobe Illustrator PDF’s and .Ai files. In this case, save the PDF as the “Illustrator default” in PDF settings. Fonts must be outlined in your file. When preparing your file, please include your die cut shape as a top layer, and as a MAGENTA STROKE only, no fills. Please see the images below for reference. Any printed color must be provided on a separate layer, below the magenta die line.

    Alphagraphics San Francisco die cut samples
    Left: This is what your top layer should look like for vinyl cut lettering
    Right: This is what your decal will look like when cut out

    Questions? Call us today to get started:

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on California Street:  (415) 986-4091

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on Montgomery Street:  (415) 781-4910

    Alphagraphics San Francisco on 2nd Street:  (415) 882-9390


    Changing Lives With Print

    The lives of laborers in Dubai are being changed through education, utilizing the power of print. Project Akshar (Alphabets) uses visual learning techniques through a combination of print, signage, and digital distribution to turn labor sites into learning sites, making an English education possible for any laborer despite the a lack of the main resources of time and money. When laborers learn to speak English, they can significantly raise their incomes.

    While technology marches on, sometimes there is no substitute for the classics!

     

    “Project Akshar has graduated more than 5,000 students in twelve months. Alumni have earned promotions, acquired new jobs, higher salaries, started businesses and stepped outside of the cycle of poverty.”

    Read more here:  http://www.commarts.com/exhibit/project-akshar-video

    June 17 / 2015