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April 2016

Giving Back to Lansing Start Ups


This month on our social media posts we have been having fun with fonts and typography.
Do people other than designers care about fonts? Of course they do!

The 3 logo concepts on the right are a good example of how non-designers are affected by font choice. Recently Connection Group volunteered graphic design services to Michigan Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneurs Academy. I worked with a high school student who created a business called Victory Backpacks. The business concept is to help increase positive energy by adding inspiration quotes to student attire. (Don’t you love it?!)

When we proposed the three logos to the entrepreneur, the discussion was primarily around fonts. Just look at how a script font, as compared to a serif, or sans serif font changes the feeling behind each of the concepts.

Need some help with font choices, design or image creation? Contact us this month and receive 15% off graphic design services.

Which one do you think was chosen? Vote on Facebook.

On The Blog:
Which is Better Brochure or Sales Sheet?


Your company website is live, you have business cards in hand, and now your’e ready for some leave behind print marketing materials. Small businesses often start with a standard, every-company-has-to-have-one-trifold, and others use sales sheets. Whether you are a start-up company or second stage business, when choosing between a brochure….read more

Taking Care of Business:
8 Strategies to Get Likes on Facebook

  • Set goals – this give you something to measure progress with
  • Complete your Page – fill in every part of the “About Us ‘ section
  • Increase the visibility of your Page – include a Facebook link on all promos and email signature
  • Be creative – Add content viewers will enjoy and share. Don’t sell all the time.
  • Be Engaged – Respond to page posts quickly
  • Develop campaigns – Organize shareable content, create contests. Add a user generated content (UGC) approach to campaigns.
  • Use Facebook Ads: If increases likes is your goal, choose ads that gain page likes.
  • Review analytics: Who is visiting, and when helps you know what and when to post.

    Get Social:
    Are You Fluent in Graphic Design?


    Posted to Connection Group Facebook page earlier, this traveller T-shirt with 40 icons lets you communicate in any country even if you don’t speak its language.

    Want more fun ideas and cleverness? Like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter – we’ll keep them coming…

 

8 Strategies for Getting More Likes on Facebook

  • Set goals – this give you something to measure progress with
  • Complete your Page – fill in every part of the “About Us ‘ section
  • Increase the visibility of your Page – include a Facebook page link on all your promos and in your email signature
  • Be creative – Add content viewers will enjoy and share. Nobody wants to feel like they are being sold to all the time.
  • Be Engaged – Respond to page posts quickly
  • Develop campaigns – Organize shareable content, create contests. Generate more interaction by added a user generated content (UGC) approach to a campaign.
  • Use Facebook Ads: You can choose ads that will gain page likes. Try this if increases likes are your main interest.
  • Review analytics: Find out who is visiting, and when they are visiting to know what and when to post.

March 2016

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Marketing automation can help you turn website visits into contacts and ultimately sales.

Do you think you should be getting more calls or inquiries from you website? It makes sense visitors come to your site because they’re interested in your product or service. Marketing automation tools can help. Give us a call today, we can get you set up, provide monthly management or if you prefer, we can turn over the management to your staff and your cost will be limited to set up and monthly application fee.

Benefits of Marketing Automation:

  • increase your customer database
  • identify what pages / products and services are attracting visitors to your site
  • capture visitor / prospect contact information
  • create drip email campaigns to build and strengthen client relationships
  • targeted emails to individual customers or groups
  • increase leads to feed to sales
  • identify who is on your website and what they’re interested in

Let us know if you’re ready to have your website drive leads your way. Call today and remember to mention the March 2016 discount of 15%.

On the Blog:

Get Onboard With Marketing Automation 

Marketing automation services are essentially an expansion of digital in-bound marketing tactics. A customer expresses an interest in your product or service, they come to your website for more information and marketing automation tools spin creative webs to capture the prospect. From pop-ups, to forms, to email buy-ins, automated marketing is created to capture your virtual visitor…Read More…

Don’t Be Reeled In By Phishing  

Tips to keep your emails and data safe:

 

  • Be wary – Urgent calls to action, too good to be true offers, poor grammar, odd spacing, blurry logos, in emails should be red flags.
  • Protect your computer – Keep your OS and other software up to date.
  • Don’t click the link – If you are suspicious of emails or social media requests form people you don’t know (and often new follow/friend requests that you are already following) don’t click the links.
  • Check the URL – Scammers often alter a popular domain slightly. Hover over links before clicking, often times you will see the actually links are a completely different URL address.
  • Heed warnings – While online if a security certificate on a secure site (starting with https🙂 doesn’t match, read the pop-up warning and make a call instead – don’t just click through anyway

If you’re in the mid-Michigan area learn more from Nicole Rackov, Vice President with Fraud Services at Comerica Bank at the March 16, 2016 WISE event, RSVP here. You don’t need to be a member to attend.

February 2016

Who is on Your Website Right Now?

In 2015 we began tracking visitors to our website. At the risk of sounding like Big Brother, our tracking doesn’t provide individual names. Since we serve businesses, being able to track companies who visit by their own IP addresses allows us to see who is interested in our products. We can see the name of the company who  visited, what pages they viewed, for how long, etc.

Full disclosure, review of the results has been bittersweet. Reports indicated we were doing a good job driving prospects to our website. Sadly, the percentage of visits spurring communication or sales conversion was disproportionate.

We’ve responded by incorporating more inbound marketing practices. We’ve added opt-in forms, pop-ups, and calls to action on our most popular pages to engage visitors. Creating free content and incorporating easy ways to contact us and capturing their contact information helps us connect.

Would your product or service oriented company website benefit from knowing large companies who visit your site and the pages they visit. Connect with us today to hear how we can help you capture more leads from your website. Find out more information here.


On the Blog:

How to Rid the World of Outdated Website Designs

We are designers and marketers to the core. Bringing  outdated website designs into a fully functioning attractive website design gets our hearts pumping.  We know design, we know code, we know CSS, PHP and  java script and a few other web language tricks. What we are not are high priced write-from-scratch-mathematic-genius- coding-geeks.  Thank goodness, the majority of small business websites no longer need us to be code crunchers. Read more…


Taking Care of Business 

10 Tips for Professional Business Card Design
A business card should clearly communicate who you are and what you do.

  1. Be Clear – Choose a font that is clearly legible.
  2. Keep It Clean – A business card should not replace your brochure or website.
  3. Stand Out  – Nothing helps build a brand quicker than a custom logo design.
  4. Cover It – It’s important to include all points of contact.
  5. Hold On – Compare the weight of the paper from business cards you have received. Choose card stock, preferably 100+ cover .
  6. Finish Strong – A gloss or UV-coated stock is more durable than an uncoated sheet
  7. Add Value – Include a coupon, a calendar, or dates to remember, to encourage the recipient to hold on to your card.
  8. Look Closely – Whether you do it yourself or outsource design, make sure someone who hasn’t been a part of the design process proofs it before printing.
  9. Show Off – Photos are a custom touch to business cards. Realtors, consultants coaches and speakers benefit greatly by including personal images.
  10. Convey Class  – A business card from your desktop printer screams low standards. Full color business cards printed on quality stock are very economical and present your business professionally.

10 Tips for Professional Business Card Design

A business card should clearly communicate who you are and what you do.

  1. Be Clear – Choose a font that is clearly legible.
  2. Keep It Clean – A business card should not replace your brochure or website.
  3. Stand Out  – Nothing helps build a brand quicker than a custom logo design.
  4. Cover It – It’s important to include all points of contact.
  5. Hold On – Compare the weight of the paper from business cards you have received. Choose card stock, preferably 100+ cover .
  6. Finish Strong – A gloss or UV-coated stock is more durable than an uncoated sheet
  7. Add Value – Include a coupon, a calendar, or dates to remember, to encourage the recipient to hold on to your card.
  8. Look Closely – Whether you do it yourself or outsource design, make sure someone who hasn’t been a part of the design process proofs it before printing.
  9. Show Off – Photos are a custom touch to business cards. Realtors, consultants coaches and speakers benefit greatly by including personal images.
  10. Convey Class  – A business card from your desktop printer screams low standards. Full color business cards printed on quality stock are very economical and present your business professionally.

January 2016

2016 Bargain – Two for the Price of None!

Last year we created the e-workbook Mastering the Art of Marketing. It is a compilation of marketing and design strategies your small business can implement right away. It’s in a monthly format  and January is an ideal time to explore in monthly bite size chunks. You can also skip around the book and choose the practices that are most important to your business right now.

In December 2015 we released Mastering the Art of Print Marketing.
The new ebook covers tips on print marketing for small businesses. Printing has different rules than digital or web design. Not knowing file preparation can result in costly mistakes. Whether you’re producing your own print marketing pieces or preparing items to turn over to us, the tips in this book can save you time and money.

For the month of January we are allowing downloads of both books for our e-news subscribers. I hope they’re helpful. We’re hear with any questions on all that is design, print, marketing and web design! Please share this link to people in business who may benefit from the content. Download your free ebooks here.


On the Blog:

Regular WordPress Website Maintenance

connectivity enews graphics

Responsive WordPress website designs are an affordable, versatile  solution for small businesses seeking a new or updated website they can update themselves. Those who already have a WordPress website know that WordPress works great on many levels. The biggest concern with choosing a WordPress website and managing it yourself is that the… Read More…


Taking Care of Business 

Print File Preparation

Some things to look for:
  1. Proofread it
  2. Have someone else proofread it
  3. Check with your printer about pricing options
  4. Make sure document is created in the correct size (consider proportions)
  5. Quote any original text (cite author)
  6. Use only photos and graphics you have permission to use
  7. Photos and images must be in cmyk format or a specified Pantone® ink or black (no RGB)
  8. Images must be 300dpi resolution at 100%
  9. Print your file on a desktop printer check color, layout, flow of information
  10. Check the fold. Are the copy and images formatted in the panels as intended?
  11. Save the file as a high-resolution print quality pdf (Adobe Acrobat file)
  12. Send to print vendor

Print File Preparation

Some things to look for:

  1. Proofread it
  2. Have someone else proofread it
  3. Check with your printer about pricing options
  4. Make sure document is created in the correct size (consider proportions)
  5. Quote any original text (cite author)
  6. Use only photos and graphics you have permission to use
  7. Photos and images must be in cmyk format or a specified Pantone® ink or black (no RGB)
  8. Images must be 300dpi resolution at 100%
  9. Print your file on a desktop printer check color, layout, flow of information
  10. Check the fold. Are the copy and images formatted in the panels as intended?
  11. Save the file as a high-resolution print quality pdf (Adobe Acrobat file)
  12. Send to print vendor

December 2015

Mastering the Art of Print Marketing

Our new ebook covers tips on print marketing for small businesses. Printing has different rules than digital or web design. Over the years we have received countless questions on preparing items for print. Whether you are producing your own print marketing pieces or preparing items to turn over to us the tips in this book can save you time and money.

Some of the topics covered:

  • Color Modes
    (RGB, CMYK, Pantone…)
  • Graphic File Formats
  • Print Resolution Graphics
  • Proofreading Marks
  • Postcard Design, Brochures and Direct Mail

    On the Blog:

    How to [Be Your Own] Brand Consultant – It’s Not Just About Brand Visuals

    connectivity enews graphics

    Many people confuse branding with company logos, corporate identities and websites. It’s true, consistent brand visuals are important to establish a brand identity. The company brand though begins with the intangible elements a company is built on.

    Questions included below…  Read More…


    Taking Care of Business 

    Choosing Web Hosting

    Some things to look for: 

    1. Adequate Space – Some hosting companies only allow so much space per website, be sure there is enough for your needs, also consider whether you plan on uploading lots of photos as these can add up over time.
    2. Advertising – Most all free hosting and some less expensive hosting plans are only able offer plans at these rates because they place there ads on your website. They place a large ad on your site to cover hosting, but you can get hosting for $10/month, They are getting very cheap advertising out of you.
    3. Bandwidth – This is a limit on the amount of traffic to your website. Some companies impose a limit on how often your site is loaded by visitors. If it surpasses the limit for the month, they can disable the website or send you a bill for the amount of the overage. Check the bandwidth limit of your web hosting company and what happens if you go over. Then you’ll want to track your usage to see if need to move to a more advanced plan.

    If you specific hosting needs and would like us to help you in determining a solution, contact us.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

thanksgiving-card

May peace and gratitude fill your homes this holiday and everyday. Connection Group will be closed November 26 and 27th for the Thanksgiving holiday. You may find us on our social pages though, stop in and say hello!


On the Blog:

Designing a Small Business Logo – Tell Your Story Authentically

connectivity enews graphics

The logo is a visual symbol of the brand personality and message. It is often the markets’ first impression of a business or product. If your’e designing a small business logo, here are a few tips to consider.  Read More…


Taking Care of Business 

Year end ritual: Reflect and ring in the new year with conscious intention

Before each new year: 
  1. Schedule an hour or more of uninterrupted time.
  2. If you documented business goals at the beginning of 2015 review now.
  3. Note your 2015 achievements.
  4. Consider how they came to pass and how each has affected your business?
  5.  Who helped you meet your goals?
  6.  What did you do differently this year that helped you reach these achievements?
  7. Have your achievements affected other areas of your life? Spiritual, home, family, social, health?
  8. Now, set ten new business intentions for 2016.
  9. If you you have time make lists for other the areas of your life too – remember everything is connected!
  10. Now review your 2015 achievement list again. Feel the gratitude and satisfaction of hard work rewarded.

Those of us who are goal driven are good about making lists and crossing items off. Once the list is complete, we start another list. Stopping for a moment to enjoy successes (and expressing gratitude for all who have helped) lightens disappointments and energizes growth.

October 2015 Free Printable 2016 Calendars

Spotlight – Free Printable 2016 Calendars

Have you started your 2016 Planning?

Each year we print and snail mail calendars to customers who are interested in staying connected throughout the year. The printed 2016 calendars are sold in our Etsy shop and local retail. However our customers and e-news recipients can receive one free. Please be sure to send us your snail mail address if you would like one mailed to you.

The 2016 print calendars are underway. For those already setting appointments into 2016, get a jump start with free printable 2016 calendars to download and use. Choose from a variety of designs. Each month is on a letter size sheet for ease in printing to a desktop printer. Share the link with friends and on social media!

Looking for a custom client give away?
Let us design a print or downloadable calendar that will include your logo and contact information. 

Give us a call today and get in the schedule.  Receive a 15% discount on calendar designs ordered by November 30 , 2015. Be sure to mention the discount when you order!


On the Blog:

How much do you LOVE those pop up forms when you land on a Website?

connectivity enews graphics

How about pop up video advertisements you are forced to watch before getting to the website content you really want to view?

They’re everywhere. At first they were an occasional annoyance as we traveled around the internet. Then national brands and publishers began forcing pop up advertisements to play before they let you see the web content you want. Don’t they know we don’t like it? Haven’t they joined friends for coffee or a beer and heard the moans and groans about the ‘stupid pop up’?  Read More…


Taking Care of Business

Business owners and managers can always benefit to take some time to look at core elements of business. Last month we talked about the appearance of your workplace or shop. This month let’s take a look at your email etiquette:

E-Mail Etiquette:
1. Include a clear, direct subject line.
2. Use a professional email address
3. Respond promptly
4. You don’t always have to ‘reply all’
5. Use professional salutations

That’s not all, find 10 more email etiquette tips and details here.