5 Tips to Make Your Next Trade Show a Success

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across the country, large events like trade shows are quickly filling up businesses’ schedules. Trade shows offer you the opportunity to get the word out about your business and connect with prospective customers who are already interested in your industry.

Of course, trade shows are also a significant investment, and you want to see results to make the effort worthwhile. Part of what makes an exhibitor successful is their ability to stand out from the crowd and make a great impression on attendees. This means creating powerful marketing materials to deploy before, during and after the show.

Follow these five tips to make the most of your business’s next trade show.

1. Prepare in advance

Advance preparation is one of the key things that can make or break a trade show exhibitor’s success. Take the time to think through all of the details, from how you’ll promote your booth to getting your materials in order.

Use the trade show’s focus and target audience to inform what you’ll feature at your booth. Determine which products or services are most relevant to showcase and build your marketing messages off of those.

Within a few weeks of the show, get the attendee list from the trade show hosts and send out an email blast or a printed mailer advertising your business’s attendance. Entice attendees to visit your booth by teasing a special offer or exclusive show deal they won’t want to miss.

Capitalize on any trade show marketing campaigns, such as show-specific social media hashtags or contests leading up to the event. You might be able to participate by sponsoring a gift or simply sharing the contest info. Offer attendees a free gift or discount if they follow your social media profiles and continue to drum up excitement for the show in the days leading up to the event.

2. Draw attention to your booth

Once the trade show starts, competition will be stiff. You’ll want your booth to stand out so you don’t get lost in a sea of your competitors.

Make your booth eye-catching by utilizing a creative combination of graphics and signage. Retractable banners, backdrops, signs and table displays are a must, but consider adding some more unique elements like floor graphics, branded tablecloths and kiosks to catch attention from all angles.

Every element of your booth should leverage design to capture attendees’ attention. Use vivid colors and imagery that are consistent with your branding, and make sure your logo and business name are front and center. Prominently incorporate short, easy to read text explaining your product or service, focusing on key differentiators. Most importantly, use your booth space efficiently. Avoid clutter and highlight only your best-selling products so that you don’t overwhelm your visitors.

3. Provide an interactive experience

Interactive experiences encourage attendees to not only stop by your booth, but also to stick around and learn more. Consider setting up a carnival-type game with the chance to win branded promotional products, or hold an exciting giveaway to get people to engage.

Demonstrating your top products and services is another great way to get people to stop, watch and ask questions. If attendees can interact with or try out the product themselves, use clear signage to encourage them and explain how.

For a positive experience, make sure you’re designing your booth with interactivity in mind. Ensure you have the space for attendees to navigate easily and watch or participate in demonstrations.

4. Make a lasting impression

When the trade show is over, you want your business to remain at the top of prospective clients’ minds. Help them remember you by giving them something to take away.

Branded promotional items are a fun and useful way to keep your company name front and center when attendees return to the office. Informative collateral like brochures, look books, pamphlets and sale sheets allow customers to ponder their decision to buy and discuss with their team. Providing exclusive offers for trade show attendees can sweeten the deal.

You also want to make sure that it’s easy for attendees to find you again. Well-designed business cards ensure that they’ll have the information they need to get in touch when they’re ready to place an order. You can simplify the process even more by including QR codes on giveaway items to connect with you online, and by adding simple and direct calls to action on your printed materials.

5. Follow up after the show

It’s easy for trade show attendees to be overwhelmed by information and new contacts after the event is over. Make sure they remember your business by reaching out to them after the show.

Use mailing addresses or emails from the show’s attendee list to send a follow-up via email or direct mail. Because some members of this audience may not have interacted with your booth, make sure your messages are broader and provide a more general overview or introduction to your brand.

For those who visited your booth, you should take an even stronger approach. Plan a multi-step marketing effort like an email drip campaign to more closely target people who demonstrated an interest in your products. As part of this campaign, earn trust by sharing valuable content like an eBook, how-to guide or case study. Make sure to reiterate the main points you included on your display to remind them of your product’s value.

Start preparing your trade show materials today

Businesses experience the most success with trade shows when they plan their materials early on — from their booth displays down to their business cards. If you have an event on the schedule, don’t delay in designing and printing your collateral.

Working with a print and marketing partner like AlphaGraphics Middleton can ensure that your trade show signage, print collateral, and marketing materials send a consistent message about your brand. Reach out to AlphaGraphics Middleton to get started.

How to Create a Brand Experience Using Print and Signs

Print and signs are all around us. They are an inherent part of our day-to-day lives, from the products we consume to the ways that we get from point A to point B. We see and interact with printed materials and signage routinely, sometimes without even realizing it.

For businesses, print and signs are central to the customer experience. Whether it’s the printed menu at a bakery or the window sign advertising a new patient special at a dentist’s office, print and signs play a role in how people perceive, interact with, and experience your brand.

When used appropriately, print and signs facilitate the experiences that make a brand memorable. Here’s how to leverage your print materials and signage to forge deeper connections and create immersive experiences for your customers.

Break through the Noise and Create a Connection

We see thousands of messages every day. As a brand, you want your messages to be the ones that stand out and drive customers to take your desired action. How can you break through the noise with print and signs?

The key is to appeal directly to the customer. In order to grab—and hold—their attention, you must understand who you are talking to. What do they value? What challenges do they face? By including targeted messaging on your print pieces and signs, you open the door to creating a more meaningful connection.

Consider a busy sandwich shop in an urban location. The owner knows her average customer has only a 30-minute lunch break. So, she uses sidewalk signs, window graphics, and fliers to advertise hot sandwiches made fresh in less than five minutes. It’s an example of a can’t-miss message with a value proposition that makes the shop’s target customer pay attention.

Bridge the Gap from Message to Experience

The beauty of print and signs as a marketing medium is that they go a step beyond relaying the right message. They also set the tone for an immersive brand experience.

Take a coffee shop as an example. You spot a large storefront sign on a local coffee house you’ve never visited before. You decide to stop in, so you follow the signs to the designated parking area. When you walk in, the “line begins here” sign prompts you to wait behind fellow customers. You read the large menu on the wall behind the counter; then, you see a floor graphic advertising a new hazelnut caramel mocha and decide to order it. The “tap to pay” decal on the counter makes it easy to check out, and you wait by the “pick up here” sign while your drink is being made. You pick up your coffee in a branded cardboard sleeve and snag a rewards punch card off the counter before you leave.

Immersive experiences aren’t only for retail-based businesses. Consider this if you are a consultant or a service provider, such as a real estate agent. You want to ramp up your marketing efforts, so you send a direct mail postcard about an open house to a targeted list of prospective buyers. The day of the open house, you park your custom-wrapped vehicle outside and set up a big “for sale” sign in the front yard, complete with a feather flag to attract attention. Every guest gets two things when they walk in the door: a brochure of the property and a branded pocket folder containing the listing information and your business card. You get the winning offer, and you send the new homeowners an agBox—a branded gift box filled with swag and goodies—to celebrate.

Bring Your Brand to Life in Meaningful Ways

Consider the role your printed materials and signage play in creating your brand’s unique customer experience. Are your messages aligned with your customers’ needs? Are you utilizing all of the print and signs tools at your disposal to create that immersive experience?

At AlphaGraphics Middleton, we’re here to help guide you through your choices and find the right print and signs to reach your goals. Contact AlphaGraphics Middleton to get started.

Why You Should Keep Your Branding Consistent Across the Customer Journey

Building a loyal customer base is essential for any business’s success. Loyal customers are often advocates for your brand, referring you to friends and family and helping to grow your customer base even more. But in order to build and maintain a following of loyal customers, you need to ensure you’re delivering a positive customer experience.

Every interaction a customer has with your brand needs to be a positive one. To help you achieve that, you should focus on consistent branding throughout the entire customer journey. Strong branding helps customers feel confident in what your business has to offer and solidifies that trust and loyalty you work so hard to build.

To make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, consider how your brand appears at each stage of the customer journey.

What is a customer journey?

While every business is slightly different, most customers follow a basic framework when they’re deciding whether to make a purchase or do business with a company. The roadmap of experiences that leads them to their purchase decision is called the customer journey.

In other words, the customer journey includes all the experiences someone has with your brand—from first becoming aware of your company to purchasing from you regularly.

The main stages of the customer journey are:

  • Awareness: The potential customer has a need and becomes aware of your brand.
  • Discovery: The potential customer researches your brand to see if you can fill that need. They might compare you to other companies and their offerings.
  • Purchasing decision: The customer decides whether or not to purchase your product.
  • Retention: Your brand continues to engage the customer so that they return to purchase again and again.
  • Advocacy: The customer is loyal to your brand and encourages other customers to shop with you.

Why is consistent branding important?

In general, it takes 6-8 interactions for a customer to even consider purchasing from your brand. Keeping your branding consistent through every touchpoint bolsters your marketing efforts in multiple ways.

Most importantly, it creates an overall positive experience. It ensures that customers aren’t confused by inconsistent branding or messaging in the early stages of their journey, so they build more recognition and trust for your business. This helps you move them closer to a purchasing decision. After the customer has made a purchase, consistent branding will keep them coming back, because you’re a brand they know and trust.

How to build consistent branding

Follow these steps to ensure your branding is consistent across every step of the customer journey.

Awareness

A customer might initially hear about your brand through an advertisement online, on TV, or in print. At every advertising touchpoint, you use, make sure your branding is clear. Establish who you are and what you have to offer.

Include your business name and logo prominently on these ads, and display a clear brand promise. To entice the buyer, use customer-centric messaging that aligns with your brand’s voice and style.

Discovery

Potential customers will likely research your company online to learn more once they’ve heard about you. You’ll want to maintain a consistent design—including color palette, set of fonts, imagery, and logos—across all digital channels, including your website, blog, and social media.

These channels should also include a clear value proposition and deliver on the brand promises you made in your ads. Demonstrate how you fulfill that promise using imagery and storytelling.

Don’t forget about your customer service channels, either! Your customer service team should be answering questions in a way that’s on-brand. You should be responding to both positive and negative customer reviews in your standard voice, as well.

Purchasing decision

Once a customer decides to purchase from you, it’s your job to make them feel confident in that decision.

Carry your branding through to your in-store experience to minimize confusion when customers transition from digital to physical channels. You want customers to recognize that your store delivers on the same brand promise you have on your website. The overall design of your signage and décor should match your digital channels’, as should your messages and value proposition. Outside, use sidewalk signs, banners, flags, and window graphics to share those messages. Inside, make sure your wall and floor graphics, product displays, point-of-sale signage, business cards, and brochures match, too.

Packaging should also become part of your brand experience. Pay attention to the colors and designs of shipping boxes, product boxes, printed materials, bags, and even tape or ribbons to ensure they match your branding.

Additionally, ensure your sales team is using fresh, up-to-date, and consistently branded collateral. Your brochures, postcards, catalogs, look books, and stationery should feature similar elements to your digital channels and advertisements.

Retention

You’ve won the customer, but their journey is not over! If a customer has a negative or inconsistent experience with your brand during or after the purchasing process, they’re less likely to return.

Pay close attention to any follow-up communications you send customers and ensure you maintain that consistent logo, color palette, and design. All your marketing emails, direct mailers, social media posts, and retargeting ads should use those same elements to reinforce the customer’s understanding of your brand.

Great customer experiences start with strong branding

The importance of branding cannot be understated when it comes to building and reinforcing positive customer experiences. The more your customers come to understand and trust your brand, the more likely they will be to advocate for you. Don’t neglect any part of the customer journey—even after they purchase—to ensure you build a loyal customer base for the foreseeable future.

Does Your Print Collateral Need a Refresh? Here’s How to Tell

Printed marketing and sales collateral plays a crucial role in securing customers for your business. Unfortunately, all too many businesses use the “set it and forget it” method of creating collateral. While some pieces can be used for a while without trouble, others might quickly become outdated. It’s smart for businesses to get in the habit of auditing their printed materials and refreshing them regularly.

Why should you audit your collateral?

Using fresh, up-to-date marketing and sales collateral ensures that you accurately represent your brand to customers. These materials should speak to your brand, demonstrate what your business does, and showcase your current offerings.

If your collateral is out of date or irrelevant, it can cause confusion or frustration among buyers. Depending on how much your branding or your business has changed, the materials might not even be effective for your target market at all! If your goal is to persuade customers to make a purchase, you want to ensure your messaging is both accurate and fresh.

When should you do a collateral audit?

You’ll want to conduct a routine audit of your sales and marketing collateral. A good rule of thumb is to revisit these materials every three months, or once a season. Not only will this help your team catch necessary updates, but it also allows you to capitalize on seasonal promotions and align with seasonal trends in your industry.

There are a few other critical times to audit and update your collateral:

  • Any time you launch a new product or change your product line
  • Any time you rebrand or update your logo
  • Before every industry event or trade show where you’ll hand out printed materials
  • Any time your contact information or physical location (such as your address, phone number, and website) changes

Right now is also a great time to audit and refresh your marketing materials! Consider how your printed collateral can best support your sales team as they begin scheduling in-person meetings.

How to tell when your collateral needs a refresh

As you conduct your audit, there are a few important things you should look for to determine whether your marketing and sales materials require any updates.

Are they consistent with your branding?

All marketing and sales materials should be consistent with your current branding and align with the style of your other marketing efforts. Ensure that each piece fits in seamlessly with your visuals on other channels, including your website, emails, and social media. Customers should easily be able to identify the materials as belonging to your business. If you find discrepancies or outdated imagery, refresh and modernize the design.

Do they speak to your target audience?

Every piece of collateral should use customer-centric messaging to make a strong point. Align your message with what your audience cares about—their needs and desires, challenges they face, and questions they ask. Also double-check your imagery and ensure that any photos of people reflect who your customers are. Consider things like age, race and ethnicity, gender, marital and family status, and lifestyle to ensure your customers feel represented.

Do they have a clear call to action?

No marketing materials are effective without pointing customers in the right direction. Whether it’s “Visit our website,” “Call today,” or “Redeem this coupon at checkout,” make sure you have a prominent and clear call to action on every piece. Use trackable coupon codes, custom landing pages, or other tools to gain insight on whether your CTAs work to drive customers to take your desired action.

Do they reflect your current offerings?

Businesses are constantly evolving, and your company’s offerings might not be the same as they were six months or a year ago. Ensure that every piece of sales and marketing collateral reflects what your business offers right now. Make changes to feature your newest or most popular products, and remove any products or services you no longer offer. It’s also smart to switch out seasonal products or services to keep your collateral as fresh as possible.

Do they include your contact information?

Remember to provide customers with a way to reach you by including your website, social media handles, phone number, email, and/or physical address on every piece.

Don’t let your collateral fall behind

As you go through the process of updating your collateral, don’t forget to involve your key stakeholders! A material audit and refresh is the perfect opportunity to consult with your sales team and ask what collateral they need to do their jobs better. Find out what messages and calls to action they’ve found successful and integrate them.

It’s also a good idea to survey your customers. This helps you learn more about their needs, so you can speak those needs in your messaging. In doing so, you’ll help answer their questions and demonstrate how your business can solve their problems.

Keeping your sales and marketing collateral up to date is essential for effectively communicating with customers and putting your best foot forward as a business. If you haven’t revisited your collateral in a while, take the opportunity to do so now and make a plan to do a regular audit and refresh going forward.

5 Tips for Welcoming Employees Back to the Office

After more than a year of working from home, many businesses are looking ahead at the possibility of returning to the office later this year. This is an exciting prospect for many. However, in the same way, working from home required a transition, returning to the office will, too.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do now to prepare your office for reopening and build excitement among your employees as they get ready to come back. These five tips can help you freshen up your space and welcome employees back in a positive way.

1. Redecorate Your Workspace

One of the simplest things you can do before your employees return is redecorate to create an inviting environment. Giving your space an upgrade will build anticipation for your office reopening since the “big reveal” will give everyone something to look forward to.

Redecorating doesn’t require a major overhaul. Simple things like window, wall, and floor graphics can go a long way in making your space feel brand new. Vinyl graphics can be applied just about anywhere—not only on windows, walls, and floors, but also on doors, furniture, appliances, and even ceilings.

Use specially designed and branded graphics to create an immersive experience and build brand pride among your teams. For example, apply a floor-to-ceiling graphic in a prominent area to create a statement wall and an office focal point. It could display your company’s mission or vision to remind employees why you do business.

2. Revamp Visitor Areas

Reopening your office doesn’t only mean your employees are coming back—it also signals the return of in-person meetings with clients. Extend your redecorating efforts to common areas and visitor spaces like your lobby, waiting areas, and meeting rooms to further solidify your brand experience.

Just like your employee-facing workspaces, outfit these areas with new graphics that display who your brand is and what you stand for. You want visitors to have a positive experience with your brand in order to strengthen those relationships—especially after a year of distance.

3. Consider Different Comfort Levels

Even when it’s safe for employees to return to work, everyone is going to have different comfort levels for in-person interactions. During your transition back to the office, be mindful of these varying preferences and adapt to meet individual needs.

One way to do this is to utilize social distancing signage while redecorating your space. Employ floor decals in common areas, as well as signs on tables and chairs in meeting rooms, to remind people to keep a safe distance. You could also implement directional signage to indicate one-way pathways where necessary.

Another way to improve the comfort of your office is to provide employees with tools to express their preferences nonverbally. This could take the form of desk signage, chair decals, stickers, wristbands, lanyards, or other visual indicators that use a color system to alert coworkers about what types of interactions are appropriate. For example, a red sign could mean no physical contact, while yellow means elbow bumps are okay, and a green indicates handshakes, hugs, and high-fives are welcome.

4. Build the Excitement

Many people will be excited to see their coworkers face-to-face again and any changes you’ve made to your office. Build on this excitement and boost morale by making the return to the office a momentous occasion!

Invite employees back with a “welcome back” box packed with branded gifts, new materials, and goodies. This type of gesture will help your employees reconnect and feel like they are a valued members of the team.

You can put almost anything in the box—branded or otherwise—but some ideas include: essential office supplies, important information about new guidelines, comfort level indicators, and an assortment of fun items. This could be electronics, such as headphones or mini Bluetooth speakers, self-care and relaxation kits, branded apparel, and more!

5. Stay Positive

After working from home for so long, transitioning back to the office will be more challenging for some employees than others. Make sure your team members know you’re there to support them every step of the way.

Keep your overall messaging positive to remind people of the many good things that returning to the office can offer. Focus on the benefits, such as enhanced collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving, as well as team unity.

In addition, find ways to celebrate together. Maintain positivity by celebrating being back together as a team and recognizing special occasions, individual accomplishments, team wins, goals achieved, and more. These celebrations can help employees get back in the groove while also fostering a more positive workplace.

Bringing your teams back to the office will no doubt require a period of transition. However, by planning ahead, finding ways to engage employees, and working to make their return as positive as possible, you’ll be able to forge ahead as a stronger, more unified company.

4 Ways to Boost Your Marketing Using Social Distancing Signage

Social distancing and safety signage isn’t going away anytime soon. While your business needs to adhere to those mandates a while longer, customers are tired of seeing the same generic signs everywhere they go. What’s even worse are the handwritten signs and the peeling tape that’s spread along the floor. Having worn, outdated, or dirty signage could be sending the wrong message about your brand.

Now is the time to refresh and replace your COVID-19 signage. But beyond that, it’s time to rethink how you do safety signage altogether! Your signs can—and should—be used as a tool to reinforce your brand messages and boost your marketing efforts.

Consider these four ways to maximize your marketing with social distancing signage.

1. Align with Your Branding

At this point, everyone knows the guidelines for social distancing in public. Signs mainly serve as reminders to ensure customers follow those practices within your building. For this reason, consider changing those generic neon or bright red signs to something that more closely aligns with your brand.

You can tell the story of your business by redesigning your social distancing signage to match your branding and décor. Incorporate elements of your brand identity, such as colors, fonts, shapes, and images—or even your brand mascot or character—to make signs unique to your business. Doing so will increase brand awareness and create a more pleasant experience for customers while reinforcing safety standards.

2. Advertise Your Products

Your social distancing signage isn’t only good for branding—it can also help promote what your business has to offer! Try incorporating product messaging and imagery into your signs in place of the usual social distancing symbols and language.

For example, if you own a car dealership, you can promote the vehicles you sell by encouraging customers to stand a “Camry” or a “Jetta” length apart. Alternatively, if you run a burger joint, you could redesign your floor graphics to feature a different delicious-looking burger every six feet.

This clever advertising strategy also provides opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, particularly when it’s used near the point of sale or where customers will be waiting in line.

3. Get Creative

Few people would call the average health and safety sign “fun,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be! Social distancing signage doesn’t need to have one standard look for every business. You have the opportunity to mix it up and be creative.

There are tons of ways to “wow” customers with your creativity. Signage can be aligned with holidays, major events, or the seasons—think snowflakes in the winter or flip-flops in the summer. You can also tie industry information into your signs. For example, gyms might include a quick health fact on every graphic, while a wine shop might theme its social distancing signs around different varietals.

The more creative you are with your signage, the more you’ll surprise your customers. This leads to a more memorable visit to your business and leaves them with a positive impression of your brand. Plus, creative signs are more eye-catching, meaning people are more likely to pay attention and adhere to what they say.

4. Generate Leads

Safety signage doesn’t have to be a static experience that only enforces healthy behaviors inside your business. It can also be used as a powerful lead generation tool that encourages customers to engage with your brand long after they’ve visited your physical location.

This is easily achieved by adding QR codes to your signs. With a quick scan, customers are directed to a webpage where they can sign up for a loyalty program, subscribe to your marketing emails or newsletter, download your app, or receive a discount code!

These lead generation tactics help draw customers’ attention to your signage and provide an added incentive for them. In the end, this helps you build long-term relationships with your audience across multiple platforms.

Create Strategic Signage That Works for Your Brand

Social distancing signage doesn’t have to be standard. You can turn something necessary for public health and safety into a unique opportunity for business marketing and branding!

If it’s time for your business to update your signage, partner with AlphaGraphics Middleton to replace your worn or outdated signs with something brand new. We can help you create customized designs that get noticed and bolster your marketing efforts, so you can put your best foot forward.

How to Leverage Signage for Marketing Your Business

It’s impossible to walk or drive through an urban environment today and not see signage. Every business has signage, largely because it’s the simplest, most accessible form of advertising. Storefront signs say, “My business operates here.” Flags and banners say, “We’re having a sale right now.” Big window clings say, “Look at the products I sell.”

Not only is this type of signage all around us, but it’s a ubiquitous part of how we interact with the world as consumers. The types of signage we’re exposed to and the messages we see cause us to act and react with the brands delivering them. This is all to say that, from a business standpoint, having the right signage is very important for success!

Why Signage Is Important for Any Business

Signage plays many different roles for a business. Your signage is never just an advertisement or a piece of branded collateral. It’s a powerful and multifaceted marketing tool.

Here are some of the ways to think about signage, beyond the means to sell:

  • Inform, direct, or entice a customer to take a desired action
  • Attract attention, create intrigue, and promote interest
  • Expose people to and educate them about your brand
  • Strengthen your brand’s awareness and customer recognition
  • Stand out from the competition

Above all, signage is a tangible, visible representation of your brand. When consumers look at it, they draw conclusions about your business based on how it looks and what the message says. They’ll make assumptions—warranted or otherwise—based on how your signage comes off to them.

If your signage sends a good message and creates a positive emotion, there’s a good chance your brand will benefit in some way. A customer might decide to step inside your business and buy something or develop a positive association with your brand that leads them to recommend you to a friend. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Poor signage will spark a lackluster response and may even lower people’s expectations or perceptions of your business. In a world where perception is reality, good signage is vital and important!

Make Signage Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Signage is one of the best ways to interact with people in the physical world. Consumers can’t send a sign to spam or unsubscribe from your signage. It’s always there, always visible, always prevalent. In the age of digital marketing, nothing comes close to the staying power of physical signage.

For these reasons, signage is a great addition to your marketing strategy. It provides an opportunity to capture an audience that you may not normally reach on other channels, and it reinforces your messaging to build loyalty with existing customers. Where, when and how you display signage gives it an almost infinite range of possibilities to build awareness, drive traffic, and spark more sales.

Like all your marketing, you want to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message. With signage, you have the benefit of choosing the location it’s displayed. Consider the context of that location, and cater your messaging accordingly. For example, a sign in the window of a business will prompt more immediate action and can lead to a purchase, whereas an advertisement in an airport will be more informational.

Use Signs to Grab Attention

Also consider your audience. Your message should be relevant and meaningful to the type of person you’re trying to attract—including copy, visuals, tone, branding, and the call to action. Use language and images that will resonate with them and give them a reason to do something other than just look at your sign. Push them to act!

The possibilities for signage are virtually endless. Businesses can create signs in any size, shape, color, or material and display them just about anywhere. Really, you’re only limited by your imagination, but there are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Keep your message simple. No more than seven words is a common rule of thumb.
  • Make the text big enough that it’s easy to read from afar.
  • Choose a compelling color scheme—one that’s on brand, yet easy on the eyes.
  • Provide contrast between text and colors or backgrounds to ensure legibility.
  • Keep it consistent with your brand identity, including copy, images, and CTA.

Want to really kick your signage up a notch? Consider placing it where and when your audience least expects it, but where it’s poised to make a big impression. These are generally places where immediate action isn’t possible (like in a bathroom or on a billboard), but where the unexpectedness of the sign will imprint its message in a more meaningful way.

You can also take a creative approach to get people intrigued by your signage. Ever follow arrows on the ground or footprints in a store? That’s creative signage at its finest!

What Signs are Best for Your Business?

The type of signs you select will depend heavily on their intent. Below are some of the most common types of commercial signage and their benefits.

Banners, Flags, and Large-scale Signage

There’s no ignoring banners, flags, and other large-scale signage outside of a storefront! These can’t-miss signs are best for general attention-getting and communicating one clear objective to attract passersby and draw them in.

Wall and Floor Graphics

Great for indoor and outdoor applications alike, wall and floor graphics give direction, boost brand awareness, and promote clear actions for customers.

Use wall graphics to showcase your brand and reiterate your brand values. One way to think about it is as a statement wall, but instead of paint it’s a branded wall graphic! Floor graphics are great for wayfinding but can be useful for delivering brand messages, too. Today, many businesses are using floor graphics as a way to enforce social distancing.

Digital Signage

Digital signage blends the benefits and broad possibilities of digital technology with the proven efficacy of physical signage. The result is highly-customizable, always-relevant signage.

Digital signs are a good option for those who want greater flexibility and personalization. They allow you to easily adjust your message for different audiences or at different times of the day. They offer variety in media types, such as videos, GIFs, and animations in place of static imagery. And in some cases, they even encourage the consumer to interact with your brand, as with touchscreens and digital wayfinding signs.

Vinyl Wraps

Not just for vehicles, vinyl wraps can turn windows, kiosks, furniture, cornhole boards, and anything else with a smooth surface into a curated advertisement with a clear, concise message.

With vinyl wraps, you have the ability to provide information about your business or advertise in non-traditional places. Additional benefits include: resilience against weather and wear over time; full customization across shapes, sizes, styles, and colors; and reusability when printed with the right materials.

The options for signage don’t end there, and neither do the possibilities for attracting and engaging your audience. Talk to a signage expert at AlphaGraphics to learn more about the many types of signage and the infinite customization options available, so you can bring your message to life in the most effective way.

6 Sides of the agBox That Will Elevate Your Marketing

At AlphaGraphics, we develop custom, innovative solutions and use the latest technology to take brands to the next level. Our newest innovation is agBox, a way for businesses to build and share unique branded experiences for virtually any occasion.

agBox can be infinitely customized to your brand and whatever initiative you want to enhance. Here we share some of the ideas we are most excited about¾the ones that build outstanding experiences from the moment they arrive! Consider these as a starting point as you decide which agBox to build for your audience!

The following examples are designed with an eye toward remote work and play, but the concepts can be applied to any comprehensive marketing strategy or business initiative.

1. eventBox

Galas, fun runs, and trade shows are just a few of the events that have gone virtual for the time being. But how best to engage virtual participants? New circumstances call for new innovations—enter the event in a box.

Event in a box supplies participants with promotional items that keep the event top-of-mind and in the public eye. Bracelets? T-shirts? Perhaps even yard signs, if the event calls for grassroots fundraising? Encourage participants to go the extra mile by supplying them with a small pack of stickers, flyers, and buttons, giving them the tools to turn this year’s virtual fundraiser into the most successful event yet.

2. salesBox

Sales pitches are even more daunting in an age of remote conferencing. Distractibility makes it difficult to connect and raises the likelihood that contracts will go unsigned. But what if you could command the attention of your potential customer?

A sales box brings any pitch to the forefront of the prospect’s attention. Flat graphs and presentations are no substitute for tangible earnings reports or sales decks. Of course, you could opt for a flashier array of gifts to accompany those well-printed documents. At the very least, the sales box represents your company’s willingness to go the extra mile—a gesture that will surely be noted when decisions are being made.

3. conferenceBox

With conferences and meetings moving online, it’s difficult to get the same level of engagement as you would at a traditional in-person event. A conference in a box can take your virtual event to a whole new level.

A conference in a box full of branded giveaways creates a tangible, immersive experience to accompany your virtual event. Pens, flash drives, key chains, tumblers, totes, stationery, and printed conference materials are just a few of the items that really shine in this type of box—but the sky is the limit! Go above and beyond your attendees’ expectations and leave them feeling invigorated long after the event has ended.

4. partyBox

Celebration and connection are crucial components of any corporate culture, and the party in a box helps deliver just that. Whether you’re celebrating birthdays, reveling in the acquisition of new business, or just attending virtual happy hours with colleagues you haven’t seen in months, a party delivered to your doorstep raises everyone’s spirits.

For less than the cost of lunch, your business has the ability to reward your high-functioning teams for their continued success. Want to show your appreciation for your rising stars with branded sunglasses? How about glassware to toast during happy hour? The choices for your personalized party in a box are virtually limitless.

5. new hireBox

Getting new team members up-to-speed in a remote work environment is a challenge for any business. However, remote working provides an opportunity for creative onboarding. Immerse new team members in your corporate culture before their first day on the job with a new hire box!

Consider what knowledge is vital to the continued health and growth of your business, then consolidate those findings into quick-hit reference sheets to be included in the box. Add in all the supplies a remote worker needs, from day planners to corporate swag, and voila! Your new employee feels like part of the team from day one.

6. holidayBox

The holidays provide the perfect backdrop to make your employees feel a sense of togetherness, and we can all attest to how important that will be this year. Take the time to express your thanks and gratitude to your hard-working teams with a holiday in a box.

If your business is planning a virtual holiday party, this is the ideal opportunity to make sure everyone receives their due appreciation. A well-timed holiday in a box ensures your virtual holiday party is one to remember by creating a sense of anticipation and excitement leading up to the event. Take it one step further by tagging your boxes with a note, “Do Not Open Until MM/DD!” The joy of an entire team unwrapping their gifts in unison will connect even the most remote workers and set the tone for a successful year ahead.

Think Inside the Box

As you can see, the options for an agBox are truly limitless. If it fits in a box, there’s a good chance we can deliver it to your target audience to provide a unique, immersive, and unforgettable experience!

If you feel inspired to send an agBox to your customers, prospective clients, or colleagues, get started today by contacting one of our marketing and print service centers near you to schedule a free consultation.

We’re excited to see what kind of “inside the box” creations you come up with!

8 Ways to Engage Local Customers Each and Every Day

Local small businesses live and die by their reputation among customers in a well-defined geographic area. If your local customers love your business and identify with your brand, a business can boom quickly and grow steadily. If they’re turned off by your brand identity, you’re likely to suffer at the hands of your only consumer base.

Getting into and staying in the good graces of local customers means not only presenting a business model and brand that’s appealing, but continuing to present that image. Forgetting about your business is almost as bad for your bottom line as disagreeing with it!

Staying in front of your local customers without becoming an annoyance can be tricky. Luckily, there are a few surefire ways to tread that line with impunity, keeping your business a local fan-favorite:

Explore Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a subtle, yet powerful way to stay on the local radar. If you’re a restaurant, invite local business reps to bring their lunch meetings to you. If you’re a print shop, volunteer your services for a local nonprofit. Influencer marketing is all about grassroots reputation building. Find people who will talk about your brand, and give them a reason to say positive things!

Get Involved In Your Community

If people see you as a fixture in the community, they’re going to support your business. Attend local events, donate to local groups and maintain your standing at the local level. Remember, every local impression you make is absorbed by your potential customer base.

Respond To Reviews

Whether positive or negative, it’s important to show your local customers you’re engaged. Responding on social platforms to reviews is a great way to stay in their world. Customers who take the time to leave a review or ask a question give you permission to engage them—capitalize on this in a simple, positive way and others will take note of it.

Advertise As A Service, Not Interruption

This is the essence of passive marketing. Display your daily specials on a chalkboard, leave your door open with a sales flyer at the entrance or offer a punch card for customer loyalty. These are all ways you can reach customers daily, without interrupting.

Improve Your Exterior Signage

As a local brick and mortar establishment, your exterior signage is going to do more for you than any digital ad. Make sure you’re making an investment in your primary storefront signage—it’ll translate into daily impressions that serve to keep you relevant within the local consumer class.

Consider Sponsorship

There are numerous opportunities for sponsorship with a community. From 5k runs to bike races, little league teams to car shows and more, these events need support. You’ll showcase the vested interest you have in local events and gain the respect of brand advocates who sing your praises. Moreover, if things like shirts or bumper stickers are part of the sponsorship, these items will continue to market for you long after the event has passed.

Support Local Radio

Local radio is a great marketing medium for your customer demographic—it spans only as far as your potential customers do! Having a radio spot here and there is a great way to get your name into the mix. Whether they’re sitting in traffic on the way home or scanning channels for something to listen to, customers are going to hear your appeal and remember it.

Experiment With Digital Ads

In the modern age of digital advertising, PPC ads can geographically targeted. Whether you’re advertising through Google or Facebook, targeting only your local crowd will make sure you’re getting face time each and every day. And, thanks to nominal costs, this blanketing method of advertising can also be the most cost-efficient.

Remember, your local customer pool is the only one you’ve got to work with: make sure you’re cultivating a brand that’s valued by them! Consider the above ways to stay relevant and popular among your local customers.

Want even more great ideas on how to get your business noticed in your local market? Come visit us, AlphaGraphics Middleton!

Maintaining Your Business’s Culture in the New Normal

Of all the factors that drive business success, culture is among the most important. People need to come to work each day and feel good about what they do—like they’re part of a team; somewhere they’re appreciated. Good culture is the secret sauce for any successful business.

A lot of what creates good culture comes from the everyday interactions people have while at work. Casual conversation around the water cooler. Meetings they sit in on. Brainstorming sessions between coworkers.

Seeing people and interacting with the physical workplace are the biggest building blocks of culture. For many businesses, those building blocks are gone for the time being. We’re working from home, social distancing, and minimizing our interaction with the workplace. It begs the question: How can you preserve your company’s positive culture in the face of these changes?

The workplace and the way we work may be changing, but a strong culture can survive these changes. To make sure your people feel appreciated, recognized, and fulfilled, you need to adapt your culture to the new norm.

Keep your culture strong while at home

Remote work is here to stay. Even if you don’t keep your team on a full-time telecommuting schedule, your culture needs to extend beyond the physical workplace. Watercooler chats become Slack channels. Weekly meetings become Zoom calls. The 9-5 workday becomes “whenever someone messages you back.”

What businesses need to realize is that while the way we do things may be changing, what we do can stay relatively the same thanks to technology. Coworkers can still crack jokes back and forth—only now, they can send memes and gifs. They can still compare notes after a meeting—they’ll just collaborate in a Google Doc, instead.

For your culture to stay strong, you need to provide employees with the means to keep things as close to normal as possible. They may be working from home, away from the workplace and the people in it, but if they can still get the same level of interaction and gratification, positive culture will persevere.

Revitalize your culture

New shifts in work habits and routines can give you a chance to revitalize parts of your culture that might be stagnant or antiquated. Use the “new normal” as a way to reinvent parts of your business that have a direct impact on culture.

Ask yourself how you can support and encourage employees—both as a group and on an individual level. Small changes and improvements can go a long way toward revitalizing your company culture and rejuvenating a workforce that might feel initially displaced.

Take care of your staff

The biggest contributor to positive culture in a time like this is taking care of your staff. Make sure their needs are met, and do what it takes to provide them with confidence and assurance. Often, this is simple:

  • Get them set up to work remotely and answer any questions they have
  • Make adjustments to policies and protocols that make telecommuting easier
  • Check in with employees individually and see that they have what they need
  • Provide a medium for feedback and take meaningful strides to support workers

It comes down to accommodating and enabling your staff. If they can ease comfortably into their new situation and feel supported doing so, they’ll make the transition just fine. Conversely, if the pressure is always on and they feel overburdened, it’ll contribute to a negative company culture.

Focus on employee wellness

For individuals telecommuting, their living space has now become their workplace. This can have big ramifications for their physical and mental health. Employers need to recognize the strain that comes with living where you work and provide outlets for alleviating some of the burdens that accompany this radical change. Some very simple examples include:

  • Employee wellness packages and offering time off or personal days
  • Flexible work schedules within a set range of hours or over a period of days
  • Encouraging relaxation breaks and wellness activities, such as yoga or even a nap
  • Wellness games and incentives, encouraging employees to stay active and healthy

Whether it’s hosting a department-wide watch party for a movie on Friday night or tallying points for employees who rack up steps on their pedometer, make employee health a priority. Positive culture can only come from a workforce that’s physically and mentally well and who feel like you value them beyond their ability to work.

Make new employees feel welcome

The workforce is always in flux, which means adding new members to your team and saying goodbye to those who find new opportunities. Maintaining culture amidst growth and turnover comes from engrained processes. How will you practice onboarding in a virtual environment without leaving new employees feeling isolated? What steps can you take to integrate them into the team in a meaningful way?

Make onboarding and team recognition core elements of your new normal. Try virtual meet-and-greets or Friday conference calls and activities. Encourage inclusion into group communication threads. The quicker people feel like they’re part of a team, the stronger your culture grows.

Welcome the new norm

We’ve all had to change the way we work—and the changes likely aren’t over. The new norm is becoming clearer by the day and, for most people, that means more time spent interacting with people from a distance. This doesn’t mean the death of your company culture! It means new opportunities to grow a positive culture in your workplace. All it takes is a little adaptation and a focus on the people responsible for your business’ success.