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1-Minute Workshop: Holiday Ribbon

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Create a Holiday Ribbon Using Adobe Illustrator

Step 1

In this workshop, you’re going to create a quick and easy ribbon in Adobe Illustrator. Begin by creating two rectangular columns, each with a different color. These will form the structure of your ribbon. Open Symbols under Window in the menu bar. Then drag the two rectangular shapes to the Symbols palette and make sure the Type is set to Graphic, then click OK.

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Step 2

The bulk of this effect is handled through the 3D tool. Begin by creating another rectangular shape like Example 1. Select this shape and go to Effect>3D>Revolve. Click the Map Art button on the right side. You are going to map the ribbon symbol you created onto this rectangle (which will be a 3D cylinder after you apply the effect). To map the symbol, first go to Surface and click the arrows until you are on Surface 3. This is the surface where you will map your ribbon. Now click the Symbol tab in the upper left-hand corner and select the ribbon symbol. Then rotate the ribbon until it is in the same position as shown. Click Invisible Geometry at the bottom of the window. Click OK and then OK on the 3D window to apply the effect.

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Step 3

The result should look like the ribbon below. To adjust or edit the ribbon, select it and go to Object>Flatten>Transparency. With the shapes still selected, go to Object>Clipping Mask>Release. The shapes are now editable. Experiment with different shapes and settings in the 3D palette to create different types of ribbons in a snap!

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4 Tips for a Successful Social Media Holiday Campaign

Are you looking for ideas to improve your social media marketing over the holiday season? A recent MarketLive survey shows social media will influence half of holiday shoppers this season! According to the survey, customers take part in several online social activities such as looking up reviews for products, searching for gift ideas and seeking product referrals from friends. Use the following tips to help start up your holiday social media campaign and watch your social media interaction soar!

1. Update your headers.

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Change your Twitter and Facebook cover photos to something winter or holiday themed to get people in the holiday spirit. Think of your headers as billboards to promote the information that’s most important for your business during the holiday season. Use the cover photo to direct your fans to a holiday contest, showcase your holiday products, promote seasonal deals or encourage interaction on your page.

2. Make a holiday hashtag.

Hashtags are a popular way to share information and discover topics on social networks. They allow us to target users interested in a specific topic, make posts easier to find and can increase overall brand awareness.

Come up with your own company hashtag to use throughout the holiday season to get people to talk about your brand in their social media posts. This can be especially helpful if you’re holding various holiday contests because you can search the hashtag to see who has entered it. Make sure to use it consistently on all your social channels. Some examples of successful holiday hashtags that companies have used are:

#MacysBelieve – This hashtag was used by Macy’s for three consecutive holiday seasons and it encouraged kids to send letters to Santa at their stores. For every letter received, one dollar was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Macy’s used the hashtag across all of their social channels to drive awareness.

#MyKindOfHoliday- Target used this hashtag to encourage fans to share their holiday traditions on social media. Macy’s also used the hashtag to run weekly challenges on Instagram and offer last-minute shopping tips via Twitter. The campaign’s gift-giving photos and videos helped last-minute shoppers who needed a little inspiration on what to buy.

#SweaterGenerator- Coke Zero encouraged fans to design a festive sweater on their website and share with friends using this hashtag. Sharing was profitable for followers because the 100 most popular sweaters were made for their creators to use for Christmas.

2. Tie holiday offers to social sharing.

According to WebbedFeet, 92% of consumers report that they trust recommendations from people they know such as friends, family and co-workers. Thus, try offering an incentive for fans who refer their friends. For example, you could host a holiday contest and give a discount code that can be used online for in-store for anyone who enters. For a chance to win a larger discount or prize, specify that users must share the contest with friends on their various social media profiles. This way, your brand will spread quickly and will be on consumers’ minds when they make holiday purchase decisions.

4. Share your customer’s holiday photos. TwoBoysHoldingPlatterOfChristmasCookies87667282_S_72_C_R_png

Everyone knows that sharing photos on social media increases engagement, but sharing authentic photos taken by your customers is even better! Ask consumers to take a picture enjoying the holiday season with your product or service. You can also ask users to use your company’s holiday hashtag. Increase engagement by offering a special prize for the best photo and give it recognition by using it as your brand’s cover photo.

Social media marketing can be a driving force behind holiday sales. It’s time to get serious and leverage your social networks to drive more holiday sales.

Design Collaboration and Overcoming Your Ego

If you’re a designer who primarily works alone, you may find it difficult seeing eye-to-eye with another designer.  However, creative collaboration is essential in enhancing your design skill. When executed successfully, collaborations can lead to something far greater than you could complete individually. Here are a few strategies to keeping your relationship with your creative counterpart civil and constructive.

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Establish goals and define roles.

Knowing what skills each of you excel in helps to figure out which responsibility will be assigned to whom. Communication is key. Sit down with your team and discuss what each party needs to do to complete the task efficiently. Talk about your creative strengths and what you need to improve on. Once you’ve figured out how to divide the work, create a list of goals for yourselves. Defining these roles can help prevent designer do-it-all’s from doing what they love to do, which is everything.

Have brief, frequent meetings.

Set up meetings a few times a week to keep everybody on the same page. Present where you are at with your work to see what needs improvements. This allows everyone to feel included in the design process while providing opportunities for constructive criticism. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table and bouncing ideas off of each other can bring light to ideas that you may not have considered yourself. Be open to new viewpoints by asking questions to clarify.

Avoid battles of ego.

Whether you’ve accepted it or not, all creatives have egos (yes, I’m looking at you). Disagreements may be inevitable, but ditching the “my way or the highway” attitude is important for moving forward in your work. If you prefer a different font over their font choice, talk it out and find a middle ground. Discussing why you think one design works better than another gets you on the same page and allows you to distance yourself from your work and view it with fresh eyes.

If you still can’t find agreement, make a decision by testing a design to see how it fares in the long run. Remember that reluctance to cooperate can lead to flawed, unworthy design work. Refusing to make necessary changes can cause your project to lose its cohesiveness if you’re both trying to go in your own direction.  It’s okay to plead your case, but know when you need to swallow your pride and accept when you’re wrong, especially if the project starts to lose its unity.

Seize the opportunity for personal and professional growth.

The benefits are endless when collaborating as a team, and this is the best opportunity to see your work through different eyes and grow professionally. Know that no design team is perfect. Sometimes you’ll work with personalities that clash with your own, but part of collaborating is to force you to challenge each other to think in a different way. Learning the best way to work with designers unlike yourself prepares you for challenges in the future.

 

 

Sell More Ads with American Heart Month

With all the Valentines Day ads spreading the love in February, it can be hard for other ads to compete. While most of us enjoy the warm fuzzies all this love talk brings, we also need to break it up a bit. Let’s not forget that February is also a time to celebrate American Heart Month. Break things up a bit by incorporating heart health awareness into your ads. Encourage people to take some time to love themselves this February with the following American Heart Month advertising ideas:

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Gyms: Place ads that highlight free gym passes for members who wear red during the month of February. Encourage new memberships by announcing free 30-minute “heart-healthy” training sessions that focus on strengthening your heart.

Retail Stores:  Pitch an “everything red” theme and get retailers to spread the word about a sale on everything red. Explain that for the month of February, customers can receive 15% off on all red items which can include garments, housewares, bedding, shoes, etc. This is also the perfect time for a co-op advertisement with the American Heart Association (AHA). Perhaps 50% of profits or proceeds of red clothing can be donated to the non-profit organization.

Grocery Stores:  Grocery stores should promote heart-healthy foods by sampling them and including a recipe with each sample. Encourage the stores to advertise what days the sampling will take place.

Vet/Pet Stores:  Encourage pet shops and veterinarians to educate pet owners about heart health for their pets by passing out a flyer or brochure about how to ensure a healthy heart for their pets. Include a coupon in these items for heart-worm pills.

Doctor’s Offices:  New or small doctors offices in the area might be interested in placing an ad to encourage people to sign up as a new client by giving free check-ups on specific days during the month.

Jewelry Stores:  Advertisers can try offering discounts on heart-shaped items, rubies and other red jewelry. This is also a great opportunity to establish a co-op relationship with the American Heart Association and donate a portion of the proceeds to them.

Who’s In The Spotlight? VP of Product Development at MultiAd

Meet Brian Dickerson, MultiAd’s VP of product development for art and ad services. We’ve been lucky to have him for the past 17 years! He’s managed MultiAd’s Builder division which includes Creative Outlet (formerly Ad-Builder), Creator Professional and Recas.

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Brian Dickerson, VP of product development

What new and exciting things are you currently working on?

On a day-to-day basis, I work with internal IT staff on development of features for the Creative Outlet website, our new iPad app and Creator Professional. We’re always looking for new technology that we can implement and make the products the best they can be. We’re currently developing another iPad app for the real estate market that will be the first of its kind. It will allow real estate professionals to manage their entire marketing plan from beginning to end.

This will include Keynote® presentations, Pages® templates (including sell sheets and post cards), and iMovie® templates for creating videos to submit to YouTube. The app will also include features to help with social media. We are going to provide users with cover photos for Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+ that will match the rest of the marketing material templates that we are providing them. This will give them a consistent look for selling themselves and listings they have. 

What’s your favorite part about your job?

I like coming up with new products and services that keep us current on new technology. I also enjoy traveling and meeting with clients to hear what they like or dislike about our products. It gives me a better idea of how people use our products so that I can continue to improve them.

What is your most memorable experience working at MultiAd?

I spent a year and a half doing sales for MultiAd when I was 24. My territory was from Northern California to Alaska, over to North Dakota and Nebraska. Growing up in Peoria, IL and also going to college here, that was a truly memorable time in my life. It makes you realize just how different our country is from place to place. Some strange occurrences include times like not bringing a coat with me to Washington and having to drive through the mountains in a snow storm, and seeing extra stacks of towels laid out to clean your hunting rifle in hotels.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

I’d say that launching AdBuilder.com back in 2000 was my greatest professional achievement. It was the first time we were putting all of our content online. This was a huge change from where AdBuilder started – when we sent large books that people would cut and paste artwork out of.

What other jobs have you had in your field?

To make my way through college, I cleaned artificial kidneys at a hospital. This has nothing to do with my current field, but it’s still a fun story to share. I went straight from that to managing a marketing department for a real estate company. I handled design and media placement of all of our advertising. It really gave me an understanding of the newspaper industry and how their production departments work.

What life experiences have helped you develop in your job/field?

I think my love of being a geek and embracing all things technology has really helped. I’m always wanting to try new things and use them for our products. I’m grateful that I found a job that allows me to do that.

What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?

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Brian and his son, Sean

I like playing video games and watching football with my son. At least this year I have Notre Dame football because my Bears are making it tough right now. I also enjoy working on my house and learning how to do it. I recently finished my basement and built a bar. It’s amazing what you can figure out how to do with YouTube.

What are some of your personal and professional goals in the next year?

I think next year will be the time I finally do a half marathon. I’ve been talking about it but will make it my goal to work on throughout the winter. Professionally, I want to get Creative Outlet Real Estate up and going. This is an entirely new area for us and we want to make it the best it can be.

What are the different places you have lived?

The only other place from Peoria is Sacramento, CA. I really enjoyed being out there and being so close to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. It was hard to move back, but gave me the opportunity to launch AdBuilder.com.

Get Fast Results with Outbound Marketing

What is outbound marketing?

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Outbound marketing is a more traditional and direct means of marketing that includes initiating a conversation and sending messages out to audiences.  The approach can be extremely broad, such as television advertising,  personal means (face-to-face meetings), or “impersonally personal” (cold-calling or blanket emails). Through each outbound method, sales leads are generated and then followed up on by sales representatives.

What are the benefits?

The main benefit of outbound marketing is that it can generate immediate results and feedback from consumers, while inbound marketing takes some time to see and measure results. You can quickly see whether your tactics are working or not, and compare cost to sales. If you send out an email to your subscribers about a sale and more people come to your business as a result, you’ll know that it’s working. If something is not working, you can take steps to improve the strategy before a lot of time and money is invested or wasted.

How can you use outbound marketing?

If you want fast results from outbound marketing, then you need to understand what the target audience wants and then deliver it to them in the right way and at the right time. Monitor your target audience’ behavior and make note of the mediums that make the most sense for your audience. For example, if your target audience is between the ages of 10 and 18, T.V. and radio ads might be a better medium to use than sending an email. Figure out what stations are popular among those age groups (& gender) and place advertisements during a high-traffic viewing/listening time. Then leave a strong impression with compelling, humorous or memorable content. Keep track of the air date and any notable increases in sales. You might even ask new customers to fill out a short survey that explains how they heard of you.

Another common outbound marketing method is email marketing. Studies show that emails are effective for most adults, including seniors 65+, 89% of whom have a personal email and use it regularly. With an enticing subject line, great content and a clear call-to-action, this can be a very effective way to get your business to stand out. Try to have a call-to-action that conveys a sense of urgency without being pushy. Check out this email from Uncommon Goods for example. This email succeeds in creating a sense of urgency because it focuses on the value of acting now without sounding pushy by asking a question.

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This email from Uncommon Goods shows a great call-to-action by asking a question. Image found on HubSpot.

With a little common sense and some digging, outbound marketing is still a very effective way to entice your audience and increase sales. Combine outbound and inbound marketing, and you’ll be a marketing superstar!

Have you used an outbound method that has given you success? Share it with us in the comments below and we’ll give you a free image download!

 

 

Free Thankful Graphic

You’re always thankful for your customers and their business. Now is the perfect time to show them with this free thankful graphic from Creative Outlet!

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FREE DOWNLOAD: (300dpi RGB jpg) (300dpi CMYK jpg)

Only available for free from November 10th, 2014 through November 17th, 2014.

Miss this free graphic? Search for it on Creative Outlet!

How to Promote Yourself as a Freelance Designer

Create a design blog to find clients.

The first step to promote yourself as a freelance designer is creating a design blog with rich content that your clients could benefit from. Try to blog about topics that interest them with terms they search for. Similarly, some of the best topics you should blog about are questions your clients might ask such as “what makes a good logo?” or “how do I make a business card?”.

Connect your portfolio and your blog.

After getting clients to visit your blog, it’s important that a link to your portfolio is visible in it.  Your portfolio could be on Behance or Weebly if you don’t have your own domain.

Experiment with social media.

Actively use your social media accounts. Sharing useful links and conversing with others online can help build your following. This is also a good opportunity to promote your blog posts. Using a website like Hootsuite can schedule your social media posts with links to your blog.

With your online accounts up and running, try experimenting a bit with your followers by asking questions, sharing industry-relevant content and sharing what you’re currently working on. Social media is one of the best free marketing platforms that freelancers can use, so why not take advantage of it?

Perpetuate word-of-mouth.BusinessMeetingHC1408_S_72_C_R

People will talk to other people about their positive and negative experiences. Nothing is more effective than a family member, friend or client personally recommending your name and services. Don’t forget to let your family and friends know what you’re doing and that you’re available for work!

Create an e-newsletter.

If you can build an email list of willing recipients, you can update people on your design projects.  You can also link to your social media, blog and/or website. Share tips, tools, digital goodies and personal stories.