The Benefit of Freelance Emlpoyees

In our daily effort at PIP Triad to help our local business community succeed, we want to be sure to include our community of freelancers as well. Not only do we lend a hand to local entrepreneurs to aid their efforts, we also want to point out to small, local businesses just how helpful these independent workers can be! Check out this great article from Business New Daily on the benefits of Freelance employees.

Small Businesses Can Benefit from Freelancers Too

Need new talent, but don’t have the resources or desire to take on a full-time employee? Hiring a freelancer is the answer. And with freelance hiring on the rise, you’ll just be one of the numerous businesses jumping on the freelance bandwagon.

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Today’s hiring climate is going through a major shift, one in which increased competition will lead a growing number of businesses to invest in freelance talent, predicts The Plato Group, an outsourced sales and marketing firm that provides opportunities and training for freelancers. This “freelance revolution” will be the driving force in the emerging freelance economy, where more and more businesses will be hiring from the freelance marketplace over the next few years, the company points out.

Study after study has shown that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well among freelancers, and many more are increasingly leaving full-time jobs to take the plunge, The Plato Group revealed. Research has also shown that one-third of Americans — roughly 42 million — are freelancers, with experts forecasting freelancers to make up 50% of the full-time workforce by 2020.

The primary benefits of hiring a freelancer are the flexibility and money savings, said Steve Dongo, managing director at The Plato Group. Freelancers not only can work on demand as needed, but businesses also can pick and choose work-ready talents with specific skills, such that training will not be required. Moreover, with payroll being a huge chunk of fixed costs for businesses, hiring freelancers lets businesses convert them into variable costs.

“As a business owner I can speak from experience when I say business demands can suddenly decrease or increase, often depending on external factors we cannot always influence, such as the success or setback of competitors or a client,” Dongo said in a statement.

This means that freelance workers can help companies quickly adjust to current staffing and business needs, as opposed to never having enough or having too many hires on board at inopportune times.

Furthermore, because freelancers run a business themselves, they typically share the same values as business owners. “We love working with freelancers. They are absolutely motivated and passionate about what they do,” Dongo said.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

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PIP Triad Provides New Signage for Greensboro Spa

photo 4A popular Greensboro spa, formerly known as Spalutions Massage Therapy, has recently reopened as A to Zen Massage at 523 State Street, Suite B in Greensboro, NC.

In addition to massage therapy, the spa now offers salt therapy, yoga classes, tai chi classes, wellness coaching and skin care. With multiple entrances to accommodate this variety of services, owner Felicia came to PIP Triad in need of signage. Our design and production team created and installed a few sleek signs with the new A to Zen logo, website and entrance label. These were printed on self-adhesive vinyl vehicle wrap substrate and applied to the existing plaque-like signs already in place – with the exception of one being applied directly to the brick! This material is long-lasting through inclement weather and oh so versatile!

Felicia has such an incredible story as a business owner and member of Greensboro’s community. and we were happy to help her with our signage solutions! Visit A to Zen Massage online to read her story and perhaps schedule a session with her team!!

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PIP Triad Will Be Hosting Tech Thursday Next Month

Join us at the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning, August 21st from 8:30am to 10:30am for Twitter 101, 201 and More…

PIP Triad Marketing Director, Jessica Byerly, will be discussing the basics of Twitter and beyond – what makes Twitter great for business! Find out how to effectively use Twitter to market your business and reach more customers. We will cover the Twitter Rules of the Road, from setting up an account, to how to tweet, to how to grow your search engine optimization using Twitter!

Admission is FREE, but registration is required.

Give PIP Triad a call or go online to sign up today! We look forward to seeing you!!

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Greensboro Chamber of Commerce | 342 N. Elm Street, Greensboro NC

Sponsored by: BEM, Microsoft, GTCC Small Business Center, Secure Designs, Inc., PIP Triad, Photobiz

Multi-Channel Marketing

We recently discussed the impact of using a combination of marketing media in each strategy, that now channel should be used along. Direct mail often works best in junction with email ads; social media posts tend to grab more attention when connected to a blog post. The experts at InterlinkONE have outlined a short, straight-forward list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to multi-channel marketing and we’d love to share…

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The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing

Originally published by INTERLINKONE | GROWSOCIALLY

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is a bit like making a cake. For the recipe to be a success, you need to add all of the right ingredients. In order to help you do so, let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts for executing multi-channel campaigns that will keep your clients and their customers happy.

DO: Know Your Audience 

It sounds simple, but knowing your target market and where you will find them is key to implementing a successful multi-channel campaign. Does the campaign speak to those of a certain age, for example? Rigorous market research and planning is a best practice that will ensure your campaigns are targeted and relevant.

Take L’Oreal’s Yves St Laurent campaign during New York Fashion week. Taxis were outfitted with QR codes that lead to relevant videos. L’Oreal knew where their target audience was going to be; by tapping in to that captive audience, they gained a 7% conversion rate, plus an 80% increase in consumers downloading the related app.
 
DO: Use robust testing and market research to understand your audience.
DON’T: Roll out campaigns that lack a specific target and focus.
 
DON’T: Miss Your Chance
 
The importance of a good landing page is often underestimated. The flashiest multi-channel campaign won’t provide good value to your customers if it doesn’t include a specific, defined call to action. Knowing what action you want customers to take is vital to crafting a multi-channel campaign. 
 
Automobile manufacturer Buick rolled out an impressive QR code campaign that linked consumers to a video about their latest model. Unfortunately, the video was shouting in a vacuum – there was no call to action, no purchase link, and no clear path for the consumer to follow next.
 
DO: Ensure that every part of every campaign has a defined purpose and outcome.
DON’T: Include cross channel media “just because” with no defined aim.
 
DO: Know How You’ll Measure Your Results
As you may know, it’s vital that you use the results of a campaign to plan the next stage. A multi-channel campaign can quickly get messy in terms of results, thanks to the need to track statistics across multiple channels. Knowing how you are going to gather and analyze results is a vital practice for any campaign.
 
Restaurant chain Red Robin combined gaining statistics on who visited them, with an engaging QR code campaign. Customers were given a scannable flyer with their bill, offering entry into a daily $1000 prize drawer in return for sharing their feedback. The result? Valuable insights that the brand could use to review its business strategy, gathered in a straightforward and easy to understand way.
 
DO: Plan what data you are going to collect, and how you’re going to collect it across all channels.
DON’T: Rely solely on conversation rates or Facebook likes – you need all the statistics together for an overall picture.
 
DON’T: Neglect Planning
 
It’s a good best practice to look at each element of your multi-channel campaign and make sure all the resources are in place to carry it out. Attention to detail is vital, whether that means training all staff on how to use the campaign “voice” when tweeting, or making sure every link does what it should.
 
Don’t let a lack of planning create a bad PR nightmare for your clients. When Timothy’s Coffee decided to use social media to offer a free sample, a lack of planning meant demand far exceeded supply, leading to many disgruntled customers.  
 
DO: Go over all the details of your plan and make sure every element of your campaign works.
DON’T: Skip over anything – one little mistake can reflect badly on your client’s brand.
 
DO: Keep an Eye on New Technology
 
Keeping an eye on the latest technology can make a world of difference to sales and visibility. The world of marketing is fast paced and ever changing, and as a print provider it’s vital that you keep up, and find appropriate ways to integrate print with other technologies. 
 
When Topps found their baseball trading card sales were dropping, they embraced augmented reality technology to produce 3D baseball cards. The cards grabbed customers’ attention and got them talking about Topps once more.
 
DO: Make keeping on top of emerging technology and evaluating its usefulness for each client part of your best practice. 
DON’T: Dismiss new technologies in favor of sticking rigidly to old methods.
 
Planning, executing, and measuring a multi-channel campaign takes dedication and forethought. Formulating and sticking to your own best practices will increase the chances of success for both you and your clients.
 
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Did You Know… Direct Mail is Still a Preferred Marketing Strategy

That’s right… Despite the explosion of digital marketing channels, such as email ads and newsletters, social media and websites, direct mail still proves to deliver better business results.

qp_jul_2014_coverThis month’s issue of Quick Printing Magazine features an uplifting article on the power direct mail still has today. The Direct Mail Association reported that direct mail has a 4.4% response rate compared to the 0.12% rate from email marketing. “The main reason is all of us are bombarded by marketing messages, an average of 3,000 times a day, majority through email…” says Shelley Sweeney, VP and GM of Xerox Data Processing Service Bureau. “We only rememeber a few of those messages. Direct mail is permanent, you get it out of your mailbox; it has physicality and longevity. Direct mail works because people use data and make direct mail relevant. It delivers business results.”

President of Multi-Craft, Debbie Simpson, shared a study by Banger University on how the brain processes direct mail verses digital communication. “Direct mail generated a deeper processing than the digital messaging, because the brain sees the physical matter as more real”. This study also reported that 69% of surveyed consumers prefer direct mail as business communication.

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Unlike the vague, impersonal messages going out in the past, recent technology has enabled highly targeted and personalized campaigns. “Advances in big-data acquisition and variable data print have had a huge impact towards enabling this evolution”, insists Judy Berlin, Marketing VP at XMPie. And things like Quick Response (QR Codes) and Near Field Communications have really helped businesses interact and track consumers.

Today, marketers can monitor, analyze results and modify their strategies, “turning a one-sided announcement into a two-way conversation.” But the most successful realize that these direct mail campaigns work best in combination with some other marketing channel, like email. “76% of small-mid size businesses report their ideal marketing strategy is to employ print and online together”, says Sweeney.

As you learn more about your customers and prospects, and are able to utilize that information effectively throughout each communication effort and across a variety of media channels, you can really transform your customer acquaintances into loyal, long-term relationships.

With our integrated direct marketing services at PIP Triad, we can help create and execute your communications across many different formats and media. You get the strength of direct mail combined with variable printing and personalized URLs, merged with the Internet and email to give you a powerful new way to reach your prospects and customers.

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Our direct marketing services include:

  • Direct mail design, production and response tracking
  • One to one marketing (personalized marketing)
  • Email marketing
  • Integrated direct marketing using personalized URLs and website landing pages
  • Variable data printed materials
  • Personal Web pages
  • Trackable 800 numbers
  • Business reply cards
  • Mail list acquisition
  • Data management

Call us today to see how PIP Triad can help you create your own direct marketing program. It could be the best thing you ever do for your business!

 

 

Entrepreneurs Changing the Rules of Business

Entrepreneurs are nothing if not a trailblazing bunch, and they know firsthand that many rules were made to be broken. From hiring to time management, email etiquette to funding, today’s business owners are tossing the guidebooks. More and more businesses these days are even breaking the (former) cardinal rule of business — don’t start a venture with friends — and seeing success.

A team from Mashable spoke with a handful of entrepreneurs about their approach to business — and the rules they broke along the way…

Entrepreneurs

1. Hire outside the box

“I have learned over the past eight years that it is better not to hire someone with ‘industry experience,’ particularly when your product and business model is a disruptor. People with industry experience have been trained to approach growing a brand, going to market, and selling in the same way that all big incumbents have. When you are a disruptor, you purposefully need to think and act differently — to see the opportunity where others haven’t looked. It is true in how you talk with your consumer, how you make your product and how you go to market. I have found that people from the industry have a very difficult time thinking another way.” — Kara Goldin, founder and CEO, Hint

2. Timeshift your team

“Of a Kind HQ doesn’t officially open for business until 10:30 a.m., and we made the decision to have a late start-time in order to protect our mornings. We realized quickly when launching the company that our nights were almost always packed with commitments (drinks meetings! events! dinners!), and that if we didn’t do things like exercise and drop-off dry-cleaning in the morning, we would never have that personal time. This way you can come into the office feeling like you’ve got your sh*t together, which sets the tone for the day ahead.” —Erica Cerulo, cofounder, Of a Kind

3. Do a little bit of everything — even the dirty jobs

“In the very early days we did everything ourselves to save cash (cleaning toilets is not below us!). But this was really instrumental in helping us understand how to operate the most efficiently, and it has generated enormous respect from our employees. When they see us doing everything and working our butts off, it helps motivate them to do the same.” —Chelsea Kocis, cofounder and COO, Swerve Fitness

4. Tune out

“Disconnect and take time away from your ‘baby.’ When first starting a business, you most likely play the role of the CEO, COO, CFO, CMO and Director of HR. This leads to long hours and very little separation between work and home. Set aside time to shut off your phone and take time to disconnect. You will be a better entrepreneur and a better human being by doing so.” — Tracey Noonan, owner, Wicked Good Cupcakes

5. Be transparent — even in HR

“Every new employee joins us on a 45-day trial. At the end of that trial, the entire company gets to have input on whether that person should join the team — kind of like Survivor, where the person can be voted off if there isn’t a fit. Cultural fit is so key to an early-stage company that spending this extra time in hiring is key — about 60% of candidates successfully make it through the trial. We also don’t have many of the traditional recruiting levers at our disposal. With all salaries banded and transparent to the rest of the organization, it isn’t possible just to get a potential employee to sign up by slipping a few extra thousand dollars. Negotiation really doesn’t exist in the salary component, which changes a lot from the normal process.” — Dane Atkinson, CEO, SumAll

6. Enforce a hard stop

“My company is distributed, with most of us working from home most of the time in different time zones. Our rule: No email on weekends or after 7 p.m. in whatever time zone you’re in. You can work any hours you want, but you have to use Boomerang for overnight email. (We make exemptions for urgent business and in the time before a big event.) It helps everyone stay conscious about working too long and ensures that we have meaningful breaks from each other. Plus general sanity.” — Sarah Milstein, CEO and cofounder, Lean Startup Productions

7. Don’t think in annual terms

“It took the experience of running five companies before I was able to slap some sense into myself and convince myself I could bootstrap it out of cash flow and sales. Many times it’s not until you begin to lose money in business that you cut back on marketing and customer service, which is a vicious cycle. It’s foolish to cut costs in the business to the detriment of the delivery of your product or service. Simply getting rid of staff or resources that adversely affect great customer service or quality of your product will only serve to end up costing you more in the long run. [In the beginning, you should] seek better supply chain deals to reduce cost of goods and bonus staff on performance so your salary and wage costs reflect a sales result or improvement of revenue in the business. [Also], monitor your P&L monthly, not annually — a business is typically going broke 12 months before it does, so an annual review is too little too late. Spend time managing the money you’ve made, not just on making more money. — Troy Hazard, former global president of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, founder and owner of 11 businesses and author of Future-Proofing Your Business

8. Splurge on things that are often overlooked 

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“Many ecommerce companies make the mistake of only thinking about the customer experience in relation to the website experience. There are a series of touchpoints that customers will have with your brand, and the shipping experience is a huge opportunity to improve your customer’s overall brand experience. Many companies only think about how to make shipping as cheap as possible, and as a result, the items you spent your hard-earned money on arrive in plain, dirty packaging. We made a point not to skimp on shipping, instead investing in beautiful branded boxes, tape and tissue paper. Our warehouse team puts an incredible amount of care into packaging each Fix so when it arrives, it’s an exciting and engaging experience for our clients, like opening a gift. As a result it’s one of the most inherently sharable parts of our service, and beautiful packaging has become synonymous with the Stitch Fix experience.” — Katrina Lake, founder and CEO, Stitch Fix

9. Toss out the projections — your business is you

“The new rules of business say that a voluminous business plan is no longer necessary to get in the game. Friends and family, angel investors and VCs care deeply about who you are as a business owner, what you bring to the table, your experience, your likability, your drive, your horse sense. Everyone knows your financial projections for a startup are best used to wrap fish. There’s no formula based on silly projections — you have to show you know your offering and your market in a way you never did before. While you don’t need a big fancy business plan anymore, you need even more clarity and direction than you’d find in that plan. Under the new rules of business, no longer is your business something you do, it’s something you are.” — Emily Chase Smith, Esq., attorney and author of the new book, The Financially Savvy Entrepreneur: Navigate the Money Maze of Running a Business

10. Embrace a hybrid model

“We started our menswear brand on Kickstarter last year to test our market affordably, and since launching we’ve adopted a hybrid model. Half of our line is direct to consumer and exclusive to our online store. The other half, we do the traditional wholesale/retail way. We also make a point of keeping our prices affordable and our items eco-friendly while still manufacturing small-batch goods in the U.S.A. Our hybrid business model straddles the traditional and direct to consumer pricing strategies. By offering online exclusives, we’re able to sell some items at a lower (D2C) price point while still expanding the brand’s reach through retail accounts. It doesn’t pigeonhole us into only using one method. It allows us to test things out and we can pivot at any time.” — Josey Orr, cofounder, Dyer and Jenkins

11. Ditch the HQ, go BYOD

“Formerly a part of a large agency, we’re working to provide the same quality of service with much lower overhead expenses. We have reduced real estate overhead through telecommuting, allowing our employees to work wherever they are most effective, while bringing each other together for necessary meetings. Along with this, we have implemented a BYOD (bring your own device) to work policy, again cutting down on infrastructure costs. We use cloud-based networking and CRM and CMS tools in cost-saving ways. Additionally, there are many free and freemium tools that we use to further cut down on overhead.” —Katie Mayberry, principal, Spyglass Digital

12. Nix ineffective meetings

“We don’t like meetings. We have weekly staff meetings that last 30 minutes or less, but otherwise we do not schedule and plan lengthy or otherwise repetitive meeting dates. Meetings don’t accomplish what we want and often waste the time of the parties involved. [Similarly,] we don’t feel the need to involve every single person in all our tasks; we prefer getting things done versus just talking about getting things done.” — Luke Knowles, CEO,Kinoli Inc.

13. Use CC to replace your old “status update” meeting

“Claire and I are CC superfans. We CC each other on most everything — we ask our employees to do the same — and it gives us peace of mind. Yes, it means you have a ton of emails in your inbox, but you don’t have to actually read them all: They’re there for reference when you wake up in the middle of the night and think, “Dear god, did so-and-so ever do that thing?” And, because Claire and I have a general sense of what the other’s working on, we can spend our meetings together thinking about bigger-picture projects and can be better brainstorm partners — it eliminates the need for the endless stream of status meetings.” —Erica Cerulo, cofounder, Of a Kind

14. Go on and ask for things

“Don’t be shy to ask for favors. When you’re building something valuable, you’ll be amazed by how many people are genuinely excited to pitch in and help.” — Trina Chiasson, CEO and cofounder, Infoactive

15. Don’t charge for status — price your goods fairly

“We evaluated the retail landscape and saw the majority of brands abiding by antiquated norms. Businesses that incur massive distribution costs and rely on high-priced marketing campaigns have less to invest in their product. At American Giant, we decided to forego those norms in order to build a business we believe resonates with consumers. By selling direct-to-consumer, online only, we avoid the costly practice of opening, maintaining and marketing brick-and-mortar retail stores. Represent something your customers care about by focusing on building quality product and selling it at a fair price. We believe this is what resonates with consumers and what ultimately drives word-of-mouth marketing and brand awareness, as opposed to spending on expensive traditional marketing campaigns and materials.” — Bayard Winthrop, founder and CEO, American Giant

16. Be the human face of your company

“You are your brand and your company. Social media has changed everything! People expect transparency and — to a certain extent — an element of publicity. Be aware that everything you do and say on the Internet can and will be connected to your company. Use this to your advantage! Share your personal story. When people feel attached to you, they feel attached to your company. Tweet about your company from your personal social media accounts. Include pictures of you and your team in your company blog posts. You and your brand and your company are one.” — Jody Porowski, CEO and founder, Avelist

Originally published June 9, 2014 by Lauren Drell of Mashable.com

Did You Know PIP Triad Offers Social Media Training?

More and more businesses are making social media a priority in their marketing strategy. This is great as online networks are one of the most powerful ad tools right now, however, there’s a right way and many, many wrong ways to go about managing your company’s social media. PIP Triad can help make sure your efforts are paying off.

Social Media Training will empower you and your employees to be more confident & effective in what’s being shared. We want to help you avoid social media disasters and show your team members that using social media can be a valuable business tool (hopefully increasing their performance and productivity).  Too often do social marketers lose sight of standard rules of engagement, developing a blind-spot for inappropriate behavior. We want you and your employees to understand how to properly use the company’s internal social network. 

Whether you already have one or more social media accounts set up for your business or you need some help getting started, our marketing team at PIP Triad will set up a customized workshop tailored to your industry and level of involvement. We will help you understand the basics of each media platform and learn how to better connect and measure the value of each network. We have plenty of tips on how to write content and create integrated programs to directly engage your brand with the market. We we also teach you how to analyze your strategies and how to constanatly adjust to keep efforts on a successful growth pattern.

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Our Social Media Training sessions are one-on-one with a member from our Marketing Department and whomever you would like to be involved from your company. Each session requires a 2-Hour Booking Fee. We try our best to make these workshops fun and educational with hopes of leaving you comfortable handling your company’s social media strategies. We’ve recently sat down with Always Best Care Senior Services and Smart Socks to help improve their efforts. Call PIP Triad today to schedule your training!