April 10, 2012 Leave a comment
Tips for Marketing and Design
April 10, 2012 Leave a comment
March 2, 2012 2 Comments
Our business relies pretty heavily on two tools built by our teams: IDEA (Interactive Digital Entry Assistant) and AESB (Affinity Express Service Bureau). AESB is used by many of our news publisher and retailer clients to order print design, while IDEA is currently used by everyone else and for all other services. (We have written about IDEA here.)
Our tech team is working on a big revamp of AESB that will make it smarter and cooler and way more amazing than before. Hearing our people rave about how our cloud-based tool will revolutionize the business and make our clients’ lives easier made me think of all the awesome online tools that are already in use in other industries. I, personally, rely heavily on these seven. They have all the usual advantages of web tools—they are fast and can be accessed from anywhere. (Also, most of them are free or have free versions, except Constant Contact.) But more than that, they are easy to use and fairly intuitive and they serve my needs awesomely.
March 4, 2011 Leave a comment
This last post covers just four basic tips you can use to prevent an email you sent from coming back and hitting you with embarrassment.
Many of us are connected most of the time. We check emails on our phone when we’re not attached to the computer. We want fast results. And with the volume of email everyone gets, issues can sometimes get buried under the pile. For all these reasons, it’s a good idea to reply to emails (that have you in the “To” box) promptly. If you will take some time to work on the issue mentioned in the email, say so, so that the other person knows when to expect a resolution.
How basic, right? Yet you’d be surprised at how often people ignore this rule. I do too, sometimes, when I’m in a hurry—and almost always, when I’ve hit send before reading through what I’ve written, I look at that email later and cringe. Even when it’s a basic one-line email to your co-workers, it helps to spend a few seconds to read it through. And if it’s a message to a new client—read it over twice, and then ask your colleague who sits next to you to come over and take a look too. Read more of this post
February 25, 2011 2 Comments
Every means of communication has its own strengths, and sometimes the medium is part of the message. Email is particularly tricky to get right, because unlike a face-to-face meeting or a phone call, you don’t have the aid of gestures or tone of voice. Unlike online chat, it’s more formal and often referenced later. Yet, if you work closely with colleagues or clients in remote offices, email often is the default mode of communication.
So here are 20 tips on how to craft your message.
Use the right word (hint: use a dictionary or a thesaurus when you aren’t sure) and not merely an approximate one. Use simple and direct language, and get straight to the point.
For busy recipients, your subject line will decide whether the email is read immediately or shelved to be looked at later (or forgotten). Make sure your subject line accurately represents what’s in the message (e.g., “Newsletter Draft: Please Review” instead of “Urgent” or worse, “Hello”).
If you’re sending a document or picture from within the application, remember to edit the automatically-inserted subject.
Never put the entire email content in the subject line. Read more of this post
February 11, 2011 3 Comments
My last post on business communication was well-received, so I thought I’d expand upon a crucial aspect of communication. There are tons of articles on the subject, but here is what I have learned personally. Some of these were suggestions from bosses or co-workers, and some I’ve picked up through observation or the hard way – by making mistakes.
This is long, so I’m breaking this up into three parts: the “who” (addressing the email), the “what” (drafting the message) and the “how” (sending the email). First, I’ll cover the “who”, or what to keep in mind about your recipients.
How do you know what’s correct? How do you know whether to write to Kelly Glass starting with a formal “Dear Ms. Glass” or with a breezy “Hey, Kelly!” Here are the tips I follow: Read more of this post
February 7, 2011 2 Comments
Google predicts the display ad market is set to go through an “amazing revolution” in the coming years, estimating the market will be worth $50 billion worldwide in 2015. In addition to the growth in volumes, there is a plethora of formats with 18 different “standard” display unit sizes in the AIB guidelines. That’s before you count the multitude of options for video and rich media. In a survey of major brands, 56% have rich media, video or interactive features in their ads.
At the same time, the use of simple static banners is not disappearing, contrary to all dire predictions. Just take a look at Facebook’s use of simple and small formats, which is helping to keep traditional display ads alive.
This tremendous growth in volume and variety of display ad formats begs the question: how is this creative production, and for that matter versioning and online ad maintenance, going to get done quickly and economically? And if it is being created by an internal team or an outside third-party agency, I have to ask at what cost to the advertiser?
January 24, 2011 6 Comments
When I first heard about the Click Asia Summit, I immediately wanted to go. Not only was I likely to learn a lot from the scheduled sessions on SEO and social media marketing, but much of the discussion was also likely to be relevant to our business as a provider of interactive advertising and marketing production.
So I was really glad to be able to go, and have an experience that lived up to my expectations and more! Here are some of my highlights from the event: some sessions I loved, some things I learned, some people I met. Read more of this post
December 3, 2010 91 Comments
I have been marketing to U.S. customers for the last few years. Nothing unusual in that, except that I live in India. And for the most part, my bosses and many of the other people I work with have been based in the U.S.
With the increasingly flat world we live in, many people (especially those of us who work in the outsourcing industry) work with clients, teams or managers who are based in different offices and often different continents. This brings a whole different set of challenges to working in close proximity to your team with your boss sitting in the next room.
The biggest disadvantage of not communicating face-to-face is that you lose out on the non-verbal cues in a conversation. The same statement, without the context of tone or body language can be interpreted as an earnest suggestion or sarcasm, an honest apology or a defensive excuse.
Here are a few suggestions I have for how those of us in such a situation can communicate and work effectively. These are by no means exhaustive, and I’d love to know what you would add to the list. Read more of this post
November 10, 2010 5 Comments
We all fancy ourselves creative folks here at Affinity Express, yet if you hear us talking about some “idea”, you might be surprised. The “idea” in question is less likely to be a creative concept and more likely to be the Interactive Digital Entry Assistant, our online ordering system that many of our clients use.
All you need to use IDEA is your log-in details (and you can register for free!). Clients use IDEA not just for placing orders but also to submit quote requests, pick up finished work, store important customer files, check the status of their orders and communicate with the design team.
IDEA was developed way back in 2004, as a better way of sharing files, instructions, order status and other communications between clients and our teams. The use of IDEA served to dramatically improve communication and efficiency. It enabled clients to upload or access projects anytime from anywhere. Last week, the one millionth order was uploaded to IDEA! (By the way, we do have other workflows like the Affinity Express Service Bureau and also work in client systems–so we passed our one millionth order years ago.) Read more of this post
July 21, 2010 2 Comments
“It may well be the saving of the newspaper industry,” publisher Rupert Murdoch proclaimed. His reasoning was that it would make it cheaper to distribute content to a broader audience, including driving down costs such as paper, ink, printing and trucks.
“It has all of the visual impact of paper, enhanced by interactive elements like video and animated graphics,” Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired said. “We can offer you a history of Mars landings that lets you explore the red planet yourself. We can take you inside Trent Reznor’s recording studio and let you listen to snippets of his work in progress. And we can show you exactly how Pixar crafted each frame of its new movie, Toy Story 3.”
With three million units sold in less than three months, and who knows how many since, it is safe to say the iPad is here to stay! For many it is the second coming, as if the printed word never existed before. Still others joke about how they fit the oversized iPhone in their pocket. One thing that is clear is the impact of the iPad on the publishing industry, even in its initial stages. Industry leaders are quoted left and right that the evolution has begun.
Other major players are following Apple into this format quickly (e.g., the Android-based Slate). This leads to an interesting question the publishing industry faces: who designs these new publications? Read more of this post