8 Star Wars Inspired Employee Recognition Awards

Star Wars Inspired Employee Recognition

Are you dreading the annual employee recognition program? Spice things up! Plan a themed awards ceremony to celebrate the upcoming December 2015 release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Here’s eight awards the staff will brag about long after the presentation.

The Leia Leadership Award

Is there an outstanding, well-respected lady in the office? Give her with The Leia Leadership Award in honor of Princess Leia, the strong leader of The Rebel Alliance.

The Luke Skywalker Progress Award

Give a shout out to an employee who has shown significant improvement and progress in the past year with The Luke Skywalker Progress Award. They don’t have to be a farm boy turned Jedi fighter, but rather an employee who reaches goals consistently.

The C3PO Interpretation Award

We all know that co-worker who can take a stack of indecipherable reports and somehow translate it into something useful. They’re a great candidate for The C3PO Interpretation Award, since this Star Wars icon is known for translating languages and being detail-oriented.

The R2D2 Self-Starter Award

Perpetually motivated, go-getters deserve to be given a pat on the back. The R2D2 Self-Starter Award celebrates those employees who dig deep into projects without much guidance.

The Yoda Coaching Award

The there a supervisor who has a knack for teaching others new processes and strategies at work? Present them with The Yoda Coaching Award, a homage to the great teacher, Yoda. Cherish the award, they will!

The Chewbacca Congeniality Award

You know that employee who always gets people laughing at a boring meeting or brings doughnuts to the office for your birthday? They deserve The Chewbacca Congeniality Award since they’re incredibly loyal and likable, just like Chewy.

The Stormtrooper Team Player Award

Velocity Certificate by PaperDirectIs there a department or team in the company that consistently follows comes out on top? Each member of the group deserves The Stormtrooper Team Player Award for their compliant, resourceful nature.

The Han Solo Charisma Award

Every workplace has that one person who everyone wants to partner with on projects. This helpful, friendly employee deserves The Han Solo Charisma Award.

Are you ready to print your Star Wars themed awards? Paper Direct offers everything from award certificates and folders to engraved plaques and trophies to make your awards recognition program truly out of this world!

 

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5 New & Bright Themed Work Celebrations

Collaboration Casual Invitations by PaperDirectEveryone expects a Christmas or New Year’s party. While holiday parties are fun, it can be even more fun (and effective) to have unexpected and off-season themed work celebrations. For most adults, the office is where they spend a huge portion of their life. Interacting with the same people in the same environment day after day can cause even the most dedicated employee to get a bit bored or discouraged. One of the best ways to keep employee motivation high and the workplace interesting is by shaking things up with a masterfully themed office party.

Themed work celebrations are more than just a way to have fun. They are a way to build relationships and create an unbeatable team. Office celebrations are not just effective in breaking up the monotony of our jobs, but celebrating the company culture that binds the team together.

Break out the streamers and recognition awards! Here are our five top choices for themed workplace celebrations.

Dweeby Alter Ego Party

Deep down (or maybe not so deep!) we all want to get our geek on.  Why not let everyone unleash the geek with the Dweeby Alter Ego themed party? Break out the pocket protectors and geek themed awards (like Star Wars). This is one party everyone is sure to remember for years to come.

Surprise PartySurprise Invitations by PaperDirect

Get everyone in the office for a mandatory meeting and then surprise the team with an incredible party. While everyone is behind closed doors, have the food, entertainment and decorating team show up, flash mob style and transform the office into a fabulous, never-to-be-forgotten party.

Mystery Themed Party, With a Twist

A murder mystery party is already fun, but one with a twist can make it even more memorable. While you promote a murder mystery party, what you actually have in store is a Scooby Doo themed mystery party! Jinkies! Don’t forget the ascot!

All the Theme Parties are Taken, so This is a Party about Nothing

Think Seinfeld, NY, Cosmo Kramer, George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and the Soup Nazi.  Serve take out soup, black and white cookies, and have a blast with a “nothing” theme. It worked for nine years on NBC.

Great Gatsby Party

Debonaire Specialty Invitations by PaperDirectThe 1920’s can be a great theme, especially for an after-hours party. Think totally glamorous, dark, speakeasy feel and you have this covered.

Office parties do not have to be boring or cliché if you infuse the expected with the wacky and unexpected!

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“Reply to All” and Other Business Email Woes

reply button For years now, emails have been the go-to mode of communication in office and business settings. It’s fast, easy and a great way to keep a virtual paper trail.

However, email can have the unfortunate effect of being a little too informal at times. There are certain things most of us would never dream of doing in a formal company letter that slip into emails far too often.

Some of these tendencies can make the sender (or the responder) look unprofessional at best or just plain clueless at worst.

So the next time you type up an email to your boss or a customer, remember these tips before you hit “send.”

Ask yourself if you really need to “reply to all.”

Anyone who has ever worked in a corporate office for any length of time has likely been trapped by the vicious “reply to all” cycle. It takes just one person to start it and suddenly, your inbox is inundated with emails you probably care nothing about, forcing you into constant “delete” mode lest a really important email get lost.

Be considerate of others by not replying to all unless you’re absolutely sure everyone needs the information. And if you’re the one sending out an email to a long list, keep this from happening in the first place by putting your email address in the “To” field and blind copying everyone else.

Don’t! Get! Carried! Away! With! Punctuation!

The well-placed exclamation point is a great way to express enthusiasm. For instance, closing an email with “Thank you!” lets the recipient know that you really are appreciative. But too many exclamation points can seem disingenuous. On the other hand, finishing every sentence with a period can come across as abrupt and unfriendly. The key, as with most things, is to strike the right balance.

Caps lock. Just…no.

Luckily, it seems that fewer and fewer people are doing this these days. But if you’re one of them, it’s time to get acquainted the shift key. Typing in all caps not only makes your emails hard to read, it has the effect of making the recipient feel as if they’re being yelled at.

In other words, PLEASE STOP.

Eject the emoticons.

emoticonLike exclamation points, emoticons (you know, those little sideways smiley or frowny faces) have their place. They can help lighten the mood or let a coworker that you’re joking.

However, using them in emails to your boss or, worse yet, a customer can make you seem silly or unprofessional.

Emails and texts aren’t the same thing.

In the fast back-and-forth of texting, especially on a touch screen, it’s sometimes necessary and more efficient to take spelling shortcuts. However, business emails simply are not the place to use “UR” instead of “you are.” Taking the time to properly spell out words and use correct grammar shows the recipient that you’re someone they can trust to not take shortcuts in your job. To that end, be sure to run spell check or quickly proofread your email before sending it off.

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How to Start an Employee of the Month Program in 2015

With the new year comes new opportunities for your business. No doubt, gearing up with fresh ideas, promotions and marketing tactics. So why not include a brand new program to recognize and reward your most valuable asset: your employees!

Employee of the Month

Keeping employees happy is an important part creating and running a successful business. In fact, research conducted by the University of Warwick found that happiness increased productivity by 12 percent.

Professor Andrew Oswald, one of the lead researchers on the study, noted that, Employee of the Month Kit by PaperDirect“Companies like Google have invested more in employee support, and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%.”

In other words, says Professor Oswald, “Making workers happier really pays off.”

And the best news? Just a little bit of effort on the part of the employer goes a long way. Even small gestures can reap big rewards.

Wondering where to begin? Consider implementing an Employee of the Month program. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Form a committee

While this is not an absolute necessity, it’s helpful to have more than one person in charge of selection. Ask for volunteers and make sure they’re from different levels and departments (managers, administrative, creative, etc.).

Decide on selection criteria

What types of traits, attributes or accomplishments will the committee consider? Some ideas are teamwork, outstanding customer service, innovation, money or time-saving ideas, etc. Ask the committee to discuss and decide upon the criteria that makes the most sense for your company.

Establish eligibility

Employee of the Month Plaque by PaperDirectIt’s important to make it clear who is eligible for the award and how often. Will every employee be eligible for the award every month? Or will winners be excluded from winning again for a period of time? Will managers and executive staff be considered or is it just for those “in the trenches”?

Define the nomination process

Decide how nominations will be determined and/or accepted. Will the selection committee come up with the nominees? Or will the names be submitted by managers only or open to the entire staff? Establish a monthly or quarterly deadline and create a short nomination form.

Determine what the winner will receive

2015 award Depending on your budget and resources, the options are almost limitless. You could reward your Employee of the Month with a gift certificate to a local restaurant, paid time off or a parking place close to the door. And of course, an elegant award certificate that they can display in their work space is always appreciated.

Feel free to get creative and have fun. An employee recognition program doesn’t require a lot of time or money to have a big impact on your staff and your bottom line!

Shop PaperDirect today for all your certificate, trophy and plaque needs and show your employees how much they matter to your

 

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5 Easy Ways to Write a Great Headline

David Ogilvy, widely considered the father of modern advertising, once said,

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your [marketing] dollar.”

Obviously, headlines are important.

Without a good headline, customers may never become interested enough to learn more about your product or service. And yet, many companies overlook them when writing marketing copy, blog posts or other forms of advertising.

Writing a successful headline is deceptively difficult. It should speak (directly or indirectly) to the reader, pique curiosity, and address a problem or promise a benefit without giving the whole thing away. To top it off, it must do all these things in only a few words.

Is it any wonder that professional copywriters spend so much time perfecting this aspect of their craft?

Presumably, though, you don’t have years to invest in the art of writing a headline. So here are five quick and proven hacks to help get you started.

1. How to…

This headline works so well because people love to learn how to do new things. And even if we already know how to do something, we want to find out if there’s a better way of doing it. This type of headline may also help you in search engines because those two words are how individuals often begin their searches.

2. The secret to…

It’s true. These headlines seem to be everywhere. But that’s because they work! The fact is, it’s human nature to want to be in on a secret, and get the inside scoop that no one else knows.

3. Numbered lists

There’s a reason that list sites like Buzzfeed are so popular. Numbered lists are easy to read and easy to consume. They practically guarantee we won’t have to spend a lot of time wading through an article to find out what we need or want to know.

4. Do you make these mistakes?

As humans, most of us hate to make mistakes, and we certainly want to learn how we can avoid making them in the first place. So when we see a headline like this, it can be almost impossible to resist finding out if we’re doing something wrong and if so, how to fix it.

5. The surprising way to…

This is another one of those headlines that seems to be used a lot because it’s so effective. Most of us enjoy being surprised (in a good way). For instance, we hate logging on to Facebook and seeing a spoiler posted about our favorite TV show or a movie we were looking forward to seeing. So just the promise of a surprise is often enough to get a reader to click through.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to headline writing, try one of these out the next time you get ready to publish a blog post or send out an email. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results!

 

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How to Structure Your Online Content So That It Converts

If you’re like many small business owners, you juggle many different duties and responsibilities. You’re salesman, bookkeeper, order fulfillment, marketer and janitor. It can be difficult to keep all the balls in the air, especially when people keep throwing new ones at you.

While we can’t help you with the janitorial duties (sorry!), we can help you with one aspect of your marketing, namely copywriting.

For decades, successful marketers and copywriters have used a simple formula that goes by the acronym of AIDA. The letters stand for:

aida

A = Attention
I = Interest
D = Desire
A = Action

Okay, let’s break each of those down.

Attention

This is arguably the most important piece of this framework. When writing, it’s vital to capture your reader’s attention. If you don’t, they may never open your email or read more about your product.

Make sure your headline is strong and that the opening paragraph addresses your prospect directly by using the words “you” or “your.” (Both of these words have been proven to quickly get attention.) Talk about a compelling problem or need they have that your product or service can solve for them.

Interest

Once you’ve gotten their attention, it’s time to start discussing your product or service. Begin to build your argument by conveying that you understand their problem and know how they feel. Show them how and why your solution is the best one for them.

Desire

Build upon the interest you’ve generated up to this point by including additional proof that your product or service will solve their problem. Feel free to include statistics or other facts here that support your previous arguments. Even better are testimonials or real-life success stories that other customers have had.

Action

call-to-actionIf you’ve done your job by getting their attention, generating interest and building desire for your product or service, they should be ready for the next step. First, decide what action you want them to take (sign up for your newsletter, purchase a product, etc.). Then craft a simple and clear call to action to encourage them to do just that.

Finally, when you’re ready to distribute your content, don’t forget the little details that make you look like a trustworthy professional. Include your logo and contact info if you’re sending out an email. Or if you’re opting for a direct mail campaign, be sure to have it printed on sophisticated business stationery from PaperDirect!

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How to Communicate More Effectively with Your Customers

You know you have a great product or service. Your customers rave about how much they love it….once they finally buy. But you’re finding that it takes them awhile to make the purchase, and you can’t figure out why. Some days you even think about going back to the drawing board, revamping your product or rebranding your service.

But the problem may be more simple than that. The problem may lie with how you’re communicating to your target market.

Ask yourself: do you really know who your target market is? Sure, you may know that they’re married men between the ages of 20 and 55. But if that’s as far as you’ve gotten, you have more work to do.

The fact is that your customer (or potential customer) isn’t a demographic or a statistic. They’re individuals. If, in your business communications, you speak to them as individuals, you’ll be more likely to get their attention and their business.

To make it easier, start by creating an avatar (or persona) of your ideal client. This may be based on an actual client or the type of client you most enjoy doing business with.

Try to get specific by answering questions like:

  • What is their name, gender, age and marital status?
  • How much education do they have?
  • What is their profession and title?
  • What is their household income?
  • How many children and/or pets do they have?
  • What are their personal qualities and what do they value?
  • What do they do in their spare time?
  • What is their greatest pain or need that your product/service can solve?

Remember, the more detail you can come up with, the better. You might even consider finding a stock photo that best represents what you imagine this person to look like.

By going through this exercise, you’ll no longer be communicating with a vague idea of your ideal customer. You’ll be speaking to and about a “real” person.

Okay, you may be thinking, but how does that help me get more sales?

Once you have a solid grasp of who your ideal customer is, you’ll be able to more effectively address their problems (and how you can help them) in all your business communications. The avatar you create will help you put yourself in his or her shoes and empathize with the challenges they’re facing.

By showing your customers and potential customers that you understand what they’re facing and want to help them, you build trust and credibility. And that, in turn, will help attract new customers, shorten your sales cycle and all but ensure repeat business.

 

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Beautiful and Affordable Weddings: How to Save on Flowers

How to save on Wedding Flowers

Weddings are momentous occasions and of course you want them to be beautiful. Beautiful does not have to break the bank though.  With a little effort and some savvy wedding planning, you can have the wedding of your dreams.

One of the biggest expenses in any wedding is wedding flowers. Even in small weddings, the cost of bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, and a multitude of other ways to incorporate floral touches can add up quickly. Save where you can with ideas like these 15 ways to save money on wedding flowers.

Use in-season Flowers

Flowers that are in-season are considerably more affordable.

Choose Locally Grown Flowers

Local flowers are usually more affordable because they do not have not be trucked or flown in.

Shop Small Floral Shopswedding flowers 1

Bigger, fancier shops have a larger overhead which is passed on to the consumer.

Plus, they might be able to point you to their partner’s which could end up saving you money on the cake, dress or rental pieces.

Choose Cheaper Flowers

Exotic flowers are often delicate, harder to grow, or only able to be grown in a few places. All of this makes them more expensive.

Ubabys breathse Expensive Flowers Paired with Affordable Choices

Common and more affordable flowers can help highlight a few really special choices.

Something as common and inexpensive as baby’s breath can really hold its own for the centerpieces.

Then you have more budget to make the bouquet spectacular.

Create your own Arrangements

Doing it yourself can save a lot of money. If all of the flowers would be too much of a job, consider doing just part, like table arrangements.

Consider Alternative Sources

Florists are not the only place to buy flowers. Check grocery stores, flower markets, farmer’s markets, and swamp meets as well.

Use Homegrown Flowers

If you have friends or family that love to garden, enlist their help in growing flowers for your celebration.

wedding flowers

Use Fewer Flowers

Choose less expensive  non-floral options for centerpieces, use more greenery in arrangements

Order ready-made arrangements.

Some big-box retailers and online floral shops provide ready-made wedding collections that can save a considerable amount of money.

Use Flower Alternatives

If you are crafty, consider some of the fabulous DIY wedding projects.

Use Faux Flowers

We know. What is a wedding without real flowers?  But not all of them have to be real. Where possible, choose realistic faux flowers and save a ton. And there are some advantages to them, as well. Choosing faux flowers for your bouquet means they will stay wedding-day beautiful forever.

Have an Outdoor Wedding

Choose a natural venue with flowers already blooming and save spending on additional flowers. Don’t worry if it rains- you’re covered.

Consider the Holidays

The holidays can either help or hurt you. Around some holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the price of flowers goes up. However, some venues may already be decorated for holidays which could save buying extra flowers.

Share the Costs

Pristine Gold Wedding Invitations by PaperDirectPartner with another couple using the same venue the same venue the same day and see if sharing the cost of flowers is a possibility.

Once you are done saving on the flowers, be sure to save on wedding invitations with beautiful and elegant do-it -yourself options at PaperDirect.
[photo via] 

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Let it Rain! How to Plan for Rain on Your Wedding Day

rainy day

Outdoor weddings are becoming more and more popular every year.  Perhaps it is because an outdoor wedding offers elements of freedom and chance which are lost in the certainty of an indoor space.

However, with that freedom comes the necessity of dealing with the unexpected elements, such as rain.

Rain might seem disastrous when it comes to the most important day of your life but, with a few genius tips and a back-up plan, it doesn’t have to ruin the event.

Plan for Rain, Don’t Hope it Won’t

If your wedding falls in a month with any chance of rain, plan as if rain is a certainty.   If it does rain, you’ll be able to act with certainty instead of wasting time trying to figure out what to do in the moment or collapsing in tears.

Have Tents Available

Even if you want to do without tents or canopies if possible, have them available just in case. While they may not be ideal in some cases, it is important to think of the comfort of your guests.  Another great option is to plan to have the reception under tents that way you can move to the space quickly if necessary.

Choose Water Proof

Another way to rain-proof your big day is to rain-proof it! Choose a hair style that will look great wet or dry, bridesmaid dresses that can withstand elements, umbrellas that worth with your colors, and bring in some stepping stones for the aisle if needed.

Keep Them Warm

Remember to keep your guests warm. Consider serving warm drinks and having fire pits.

Make Rain Prep Camera Ready

Rain or no rain—you can still have stellar wedding pictures.  In fact, you can even make rain part of the pictures with fabulous results! Think of rain gear as props and get cute matching umbrellas and fun rain boots to add visual interest.

With the right planning, rain can not only not be a problem, but be a beautifully romantic addition to your special day.

Looking for wedding invites to include in your wedding? Rain or shine, PaperDirect has what you need. 

Pristine Blue Wedding Invitations by PaperDirect

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10 Business Books You Should Have on Your Shelf Right Now

With the new year comes fresh opportunities to grow your business. Depending on what your goals are for 2015, you may need to learn something entirely new or just expand your knowledge.

A great place to start, of course, is by reading a book (or two) on the subject. But a quick glance at Amazon and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Sure, you could look through all the reviews to find the best ones, but that would take precious time you simply don’t have.

So to make it easier for you, we’ve narrowed the list down to 10 of our absolute favorites (in no particular order):

business books to read now

Book Yourself Solid, Michael Port

Self-promotion is critical to success, but it can often be uncomfortable. Through written and verbal exercises, Port helps business owners discover the keys to developing a strong marketing plan and brand image.

Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch

One of the most popular business books of all time for a reason, Duct Tape Marketing is a collection of proven tools and tactics that shows small business owners exactly what to do to market and grow their businesses.

Launch, Jeff Walker

Whether you’re ready to introduce a new product, service or a whole new business, a successful launch is imperative. Jeff Walker changed the way things were sold online and he takes the reader through the wildly successful process he created.

The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk

No longer are businesses and advertisers in control. We are now in a full-fledged consumer economy. Vaynerchuk explains how businesses can succeed by embracing a corporate culture of personal, one-on-one customer attention.

Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty? Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

Purple Cow, Seth Godin

Cows never catch our attention. But a purple cow definitely would. Godin uses the analogy of the purple cow to describe something phenomenal, counterintuitive and exciting. And he urges businesses to “purple cow” everything they build.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath

Why do so many of us fear change? Why is it so hard to make a lasting change? The Heath brothers examine these questions and provide a blueprint for altering our mindset and using change to our advantage.

The Obstacle Is the Way, Ryan Holiday

This quick, inspirational read will help you if you feel like you’re in a rut or need a little push. The book centers around three disciplines: perception, action and will. Holiday uses anecdotes from historical figures to illustrate how obstacles don’t hinder success…they create it.

The Secret of Selling Anything, Harry Browne

The word “selling” can have a negative connotation, evoking images of a sleazy car salesman. Browne argues that it doesn’t have to be this way, and you don’t have to change your personality to be successful.

Trust Agents, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Everyone says that you should be using social media. But do you really know how to use it? Or why? Social media veterans Brogan and Smith show you how to tap into the power of social networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and, of course, profits.

 

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