Exert Influence While You’re Stuck in the Middle

Are you stuck in the middle when it comes to your job?

Perhaps you supervise many, but you still answer to a few. Or maybe you frequently advise a superior who seems less competent than you. Leading from the middle is tough. But managers who influence from the middle are often in a perfect position to collaborate with others, solve problems, and have significant organizational impact.

Want to make the most of your time in the middle? Here are three ways to hone upward influence in this transitional season:

Honor Decisions You Disagree With

People who lead from the middle are sometimes forced to settle for less than the ideal.

In your position, often you’ll receive instructions you don’t like or decisions you disagree with. In frustrating moments, you may be tempted to badmouth the decision or the organization. In a meeting you may say something like, “I would have done it differently, but . . .” Or during office chit-chat, you may casually question your leader’s judgment.

Real leaders make the best of a situation and honor decisions in healthy, unifying ways. If you want to be respected by those around you, speak with integrity and uphold the reputation of others. This builds trust, which gives you more influence when it’s time to speak up or offer solutions.

Be Intentional

One challenge for mid-level employees is knowing when or how to speak.

When you are strategic and consistent in sharing, your perspective can make a more significant impact. What is the best way for you to communicate? Consider a short, weekly e-mail update to your boss. Highlight 2-minute success stories in meetings to put a face on your “win.” Or use printed presentation notes when sharing needs or asking for additional resources. This demonstrates thoughtful preparation and makes your request more memorable.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

If you want to be taken seriously as a leader, take a serious interest in the organization as a whole.

Don’t just focus on your department. Instead, look for ways to lend a hand to those above, below, and around you. When your supervisor sees that you care about the whole company, you may be surprised how quickly your influence grows.

This may bring friction. Working from the middle gives you a great vantage point to see the big picture, to recognize patterns or uncertainties, and highlight tension within the organization. When you bump into turbulence, remember that trying to please everyone is impossible.

Global Portfolio Management Director Michelle Maloy, says it’s easy to doubt yourself when you’re always trying to please:

“[This balancing act] requires self-control and clarity. You need to have understanding and empathy for others, but you can’t let everybody’s ‘stuff’ allow you to lose focus.”

It’s All About Perspective

While there are times that leading from the middle is difficult, you are often ideally positioned to collaborate with others to generate new ideas and solve problems.

This allows you to gain experience, be involved in meaningful work, and affect large scale change. It is possible to successfully lead from your position while developing skills that serve you throughout your career.

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Three Fantastic Print Ads (and how to make yours more memorable)

Does your brain ever feel tired? Some days, that’s probably due to information overload.

According to ad agency Red Crow Marketing, the average person living in the city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today, experts estimate we are exposed to over 5,000 brands per day (though research suggests only three percent of ads make a lasting impression).

Want to increase exposure and impact for your marketing messages?

To stick with viewers, your print ads need to be creative and clear! Here are three compelling print ad examples, with a few insights into what makes them so great.

A Better Job is Waiting

Created by Joe Public United, this print campaign for a job portal aims to motivate people to stop slogging it out in a job they don’t like. Smartly retouched photos show bored workers at their desks, workers who sat still for so long that mold started growing on their bodies.

Need the motivation to break out of your slump? There’s nothing like spiders building webs in your hair (while you play computer solitaire) to kick your complacent butt into gear.

The Secret to Success: This ad is powerful because it resonates with the job portal’s target customers in a way that elicits extreme emotion (i.e., dismay or disgust). Move your prospects forward with messages that ring true and deliver a message that is personally meaningful to your viewers.

You Eat What You Touch

Love dogs? You might feel a little less inclined after viewing this ad.

This unconventional ad shaped a pet Pug into a perfect replica of a loaf of bread on a cutting board to stress the importance of using soap. Something about fuzzy bread just makes a viewer shudder (while immediately taking action with good hygiene).

The Secret to Success: This ad is impossible to ignore because the visual is surprising and memorable. Viewers have to look twice to find the Pug on the cutting board, and once the image hits home, the message does too. Humor is linked to higher recall and increased sharing, and funny brands are seen as more relatable, human, and trustworthy. Have fun and make people laugh with your surprising, memorable print ads!

Neighbors

In 2010, FedEx wanted to display the accessibility of its global shipping options.

A rustic map of North and South America showed a man reaching out of a window near Florida to hand a Fed Ex box across the ocean to a woman reaching out her window in Brazil. DDB Brazil used a simple visual to convince viewers that sending a package to another country takes as little time as it would to place it in the hands of a neighbor.

The Secret to Success: By using a map of Brazil as well as an easy-to-understand visual concept, DDB was able to tap into the needs and desires of its local market. When crafting your ad, look to clearly communicate how your product or service fits into consumers’ lives or work, and how it can make them better, happier, and more fulfilled.

Tactile, Memorable Print

Print is tactile. Use this to your advantage by creating ads that are relatable, memorable, and clear. Increasing print engagement will help your advertising break through the clutter of not only the hundreds of ads people see each day but the thousands of brands that are competing for your customer’s attention.

5 Tips to Keep Your Design Project On Time and Under Budget

Ready to launch out with a new ad campaign but nervous about keeping the project below budget?

Not all projects are smooth sailing. Sometimes things go wrong, and your expenses can spiral out of control quickly.

Here are five tips to keep your next project on track and on budget:

1. Ask Questions Upfront

When partnering with a design professional, be sure to clarify the contract up front.

Will you be paying a project fee or an hourly rate? What services are included in this fee? Clarify how long the project will take, how often you’ll get to review the work, and how many revisions are allowed in this agreement.

2. Plot Your Course Early

Involve your design professional in your brainstorming as early as possible.

Designing one piece can have a quick turnaround, but re-branding or crafting large-scale exhibit pieces can take months, especially if there is confusion about the parameters or design presets for a particular project.

One costly mistake is to change directions midstream, so start conversations early to help your design professional take a big-picture run at your project to manage it in the most efficient, cost-effective way.

3. Assemble All the Elements

Attend to the precise details of copy, timeline, and photography at the get-go, and be sure these elements have been given a green light by those in authority before the project commences.

Your project will involve many pieces, and when they are aligned from the start it will allow your design dollars to be maximized with fewer delays. While you may not have precise details ironed out, clarifying project parameters is key in finishing on time and on budget!

4. Schedule Regular Updates

It’s imperative that both the client and the design professionals are tracking with the same timeline as a project progresses.

Who will handle this communication and how often will it take place? Will you use e-mail, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? Ongoing communication is essential for success.

5. Allow For Margin

To keep a project on budget, it’s essential to create margin so deadlines don’t get tight.

Every project has hiccups, so it’s best to allow a little padding as you build a realistic timeline. For example, if the printer needs eight days to deliver a piece, schedule at least 11 days so you’re guaranteed a smooth outcome.

How Much Should I Budget?

Ready to get started on your next design? Here are five basic steps for planning your budget:

  1. Estimate your monthly income
  2. List your fixed design expenses
  3. List your variable design expenses
  4. Anticipate your one-time design expenses 
  5. Create the budget

Online budget planners can also be helpful for estimating your costs.

Better Together

Want to save on time, labor, or unnecessary stress?

Whether its exceptional-value graphic design or full-service printing, our capable team is dedicated to providing you with prompt, knowledgeable, one-on-one service, and carefully printed materials you can be proud of. We’re here to make things flow as smoothly as possible!

A Beginner’s Guide to Correct Printing Resolution

Design resolution refers to the sharpness and detail of images, and print resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch. Quite simply, the more dots of ink that are printed per inch, the higher the resolution, sharpness, and quality you will find in an image. High-quality images are stunning, seeming to leap off the page, while low-quality images look fuzzy, indistinct, and very unprofessional. 

Looking for a beginner’s guide to get the best possible outcome in your design and print? Here are a few basics on proper print resolution:

Go Big (But Not Too Big)

When you’re creating your source image (the image you want to be printed), make sure it has a suitable resolution.

The higher the DPI, the better the image quality. But don’t go too big – higher resolution images can create larger file sizes. For printed pieces, the ideal resolution is 300 DPI for images at the final printed size.

If you’re taking pictures from a digital camera for your project, its best to set your camera to the highest resolution setting. You can always “scale down” the resolution on an image later (but you can never scale a poor resolution up). Also, remember that a large file size does not necessarily mean the file itself has a high resolution. The best way to be sure your file is at least 300 DPI is to go into the image information and double check.

Avoid Website Images

Web images are created digitally from electronic pixels.

Pixels are box-shaped units of colors that join to create visually recognizable images. The resolution of web images is usually around 72 PPI (pixels per inch), which works well digitally since these images take less storage space and load quickly on screens. However, this lack of detail causes images to look jagged or blurry when printed on commercial presses.

To get the best quality design for print, make sure source photos are coming in at 300 DPI, and use design programs like Adobe InDesign or Illustrator to handle text and create vector logos and other design elements.

Zoom in or Adjust Proportions

When working with your design, remember your screen resolution may not accurately reflect your image resolution because monitor displays usually have about 72 to 116 pixels per inch.

To accurately view the print resolution of your image, zoom in to 300-400%, and observe the quality of your project.

Also, image resolution is directly and inversely proportional to an image’s physical size. When you increase the resolution of an image, it reduces in physical size. When you physically enlarge an image, it lowers in resolution. This means you cannot make a 72 DPI image 300 DPI by dragging it up in size.

Resolve to Finish Well

By understanding the basics of print resolution, you can avoid unnecessary headaches and ensure your job is done on time and looks great.

Have any questions? Call today; we’re always happy to help!