Finish in Fine Form with Beautiful Varnish Coatings

Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

You’re not alone! First impressions are essential to how people judge a person, a product, or a business. And when you’re going for visual impact, research suggests visitors will form an impression in as little as 50 milliseconds!

Once you’ve invested all the hard work and planning into your print marketing materials, it is important to go the extra mile on quality.

Want a simple technique that beautifully enhances your impact and appeal? For a budget-friendly bonus, try adding a varnish!

Know Your Options

Just as varnish on a dresser or table protects the wood and gives it a nice finished look, the varnish used on printed pieces enhances their look and durability.

Adding a print varnish brings a transparent coating to your printed page. Varnish can add a unique, creative element to get that five-star appearance, so make sure you choose the one that best fits with the look and tone you’re trying to communicate.

Here are a few options to consider:

Dull

Also known as matte, this is very different from a varnish-like gloss.

A matte finish is best suited if your design contains a lot of text, as it will deflect light and glare. Using a dull varnish can be an excellent tool for improving readability on pages containing text. Although called dull, matte finishes scream sophistication. These varnish coatings are never overdone but carry a simple and stylish vibe.

Gloss

As its name indicates, this varnish is the diva of the bunch and gives a glossy type of appearance.

Gloss varnish makes colors look more saturated, and your design elements look crisper and sharper. It is perfect for printed pages containing items like photographs and graphics, adding a glare or shine to bring extra attention to the areas where it is applied. An overall gloss varnish will protect areas with heavy coverage from rubbing off and will keep your piece from scuffing.

Satin

Looking to strike a compromise?

Satin varnish is created by mixing gloss and matte varnishes and offers a moderate amount of shine. This option is ideal if you have a lot of photo and text combination pieces.

Spot Varnish

Want to highlight a certain section of your piece, so it leaps off the page?

Spot varnishes are a great way to maximize the contrast between matte and gloss surfaces. This technique allows you to apply varnish to an individual image or graphic on your printed piece (such as a logo or photo) while leaving the rest of the piece unvarnished.

Aqueous Coating

The most popular coating for printed material is aqueous coating.

Aqueous is a clear, water-based coating that is environmentally friendly. Since it is water-based, it is best used on papers with a text weight of 80# or heavier, so you do not end up with curling or wrinkles. Aqueous coating dries quicker than varnishes and makes it ideal for running inline on the press.

UV Varnish

A UV varnish is applied off-line and is cured with ultraviolet light.

This process gives the surface an exceptional gloss and rub resistance. A great example of the glossiness of UV Coating is sports trading cards. These have a UV coating on the photo side but no coating on the stat side. This coating is cured by passing under an ultraviolet light that quickly dries and hardens the coating, creating a high-level sheen but the greatest possible protection. UV coated elements in your piece will take center stage.

Want to add excitement and durability to your next print product? Give us a call to talk about varnish options today!

Add Spice to Your Print Ads with Distinct, Arresting Images

In a world where digital advertising screams for attention, print ads need a little extra spice to compete.

Ads that evoke emotion, add humor, or spark curiosity have extra impact. Need inspiration? Here are three imaginative print campaigns to consider.

Opel: A Road Safety Campaign

Opel, a German automobile manufacturer, wanted to draw attention to the danger of texting while driving.  

Opel’s message is distinct because it uses nothing more than the black background and a short line of text that packs a big punch:

“Your typjng whille you drive is asbad as your drivinh whilr yoou typr.”

Sharp, memorable, and humorous, this ad immediately shows why texting driving is a bad idea. Opel paired this with gigantic black and white sidewalk banners of a person pushing a 7-meter-long baby stroller. The banners included this caption, highlighted in yellow:

“1 second on your phone are 7 meters on the street. Don’t text and drive.”

Vodol: Smelly and Simple

Did you know the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words?

With a picture, you convey much more than you can with words. In some cases, it can take a thousand words to describe what is displayed in one picture!

Whenever possible, use pictures that share concepts in striking, unusual ways. Vodol, one of Brazil’s best-known brands for preventing athlete’s foot and odor issues, nailed this strategy. Its print ad featured a foot with normal toes and arches, while a rounded nose took the place of the heel’s natural curve. The nostril – mashed into the ground – was accompanied by this caption:

“Protect your feet. And our noses.”

French Ministry of Health: Offend Others or Let a Bland Message “Melt” Away?

Print ads in magazines, newspapers, and catalogs are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers who already have connections with that print advertising channel.

Looking to address childhood obesity and target behavior change, the French Ministry of Health created a print ad where a flesh-colored, triple-scoop ice cream cone was melting into the shape of a very large belly.

This arresting image, accompanied by the caption “obesity starts at a young age,” caused people everywhere to think twice about daily food choices. Sometimes a stark image is needed to grab attention, and in this case – with the number of obese people doubling in recent years – France was serious about getting its message across.

Strategic Design is Key

While each of these print ads each hold some shock value, they also carry a distinct, easy-to-understand message.

To create effective print ads, thoughtful design is essential. Because of its tactile nature and sensory impact, print offers a more curated approach than digital media. Use highly targeted content and distinct, powerful images to grab attention and compel engagement from your viewers.

And, as these ads demonstrate, simplicity is powerful. To go for more, sometimes what you really need is less.

 

How to Restart the Conversation When a Lead Has Gone Cold

Adding new customers to your sales funnel is essential for growth, and lead generation is vital.

For many industries, generating a lead can cost anywhere from $25 to $300. So, after you’ve made an initial contact or pushed for a commitment, what should you do when prospects disengage?

Don’t give up! When leads stop responding, hope is not lost. Smart entrepreneurs can use many strategies to rekindle interest. Here are a few options to consider:

Prime the Pump

Leads go cold for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon them.

According to Jim Obermayer, author of Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, 56% of people who indicated they might like to buy a product are still in play six months later, and 35% percent are still in the market after one year.

“Leads do not go cold as much as it is not yet their time to buy in the one-year cycle,” Obermayer said. “A rep may approach them before they are ready.”

Though it’s challenging to follow up after a long window of time, Obermayer suggests priming the pump, using an email first, followed by a personal call.

Ask One Key Question

Don’t start a conversation without a strategy or direction.

When you reconnect, remind the prospect of the last time you spoke, the level of interest they expressed, and any questions you discussed.

If they weren’t initially ready to buy, tell them you’re following up to gauge interest or update them on what’s changed since the last interaction (like a revamped product or updated subscription options). If they still seem non-committal, don’t be afraid to ask this question:

“Should I close your file?”

Differentiate Your Approach

If leads have been ignoring your outreach attempts, try adding value, or shifting your approach.

Consider a direct text message campaign, an email with a link to a freebie, or a direct mail invitation to a special event. Custom videos can also provide a non-threatening way to break the ice. Call prospects by name, refer to your previous conversation, and send an encouraging message to show you care about them personally.

You may be surprised by what a kind word can do!

Send a Break-Up Email

If you’ve followed up with someone multiple times and your prospects seem bleak, it’s ok to send a farewell message.

In fact, a last chance email can elicit a 76% response rate. Used in a friendly, conversational way, giving final notice can jolt someone out of complacency and get them moving.

Here’s one example:

Hi Tina,

After several attempts to reconnect, it seems your interest in _____ may have waned. That’s totally fine, but I’m just wondering if we should keep trying or find a better time?

To keep things simple, I’d appreciate if you could respond with a simple keystroke (reply with either A, B, C, D, or E) to indicate your level of interest:

  • A. Stop emailing me with attempts to connect but continue to send event invitations.
  • B. Please remove me from your list.
  • C. I may need your help, but the timing isn’t right. Please keep trying!
  • D. I want to schedule a time to talk – could you please send your availability?
  • E. I forgot who you are. Can you refresh my memory?

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Think of Reconnecting as an Opportunity

One of the best ways to revive a cold lead is to stay positive.

Don’t worry about annoying a prospect; the only way you’ll know if someone’s interested is by asking! While you don’t want to be pushy, it’s better to error on the side of optimism. In reality, only 10% to 25% of all leads are followed up on. By following up, you stand a chance of standing out.

Build Enthusiasm with Gorgeous Print Catalogs

Do you have a favorite catalog?

In days past, the Sears Christmas edition or the Lana Lobell fashion catalogs were the birthplace of many shopping addictions.

But though these nostalgic beauties hold a special place in many hearts, catalogs certainly haven’t disappeared from today’s marketing landscape. Companies like L.L. Bean, Ikea, J. Crew, and Athleta continue to dominate sales through the distribution of printed catalogs.

And people enjoy reading them. According to USPS, 47% of people set aside catalogs to read later, and 84% of consumers said they genuinely enjoyed receiving unexpected catalogs from places they had previously shopped. Enthusiasm has soared – response rates from catalogs has increased 170% from 2004 to 2018! 

Using Hard Copy Catalogs in Your Omnichannel Marketing

With a decrease in printed mail, today’s paper catalog is primarily a marketing tool – one of maximum potential during the holiday season.

The most sophisticated retailers are continuously working to build a seamless omnichannel operation, and companies that integrate catalogs, websites, and physical stores can simplify the shopping experience while closing more sales.

Print advertising is a great compliment to your online sales platforms, because print marketing often prompts greater follow-through. BRAND United reports that 86% of shoppers bought an item online after seeing it in a printed catalog.

Want to weave together catalogs and online purchasing? Here’s one inspiring example of a killer omnichannel strategy.

Quadratic: Selling the Adventure

For 30 years, Quadratic has prided itself on providing Jeep enthusiasts with the best parts and accessories for their customers.

From Antenna kits to light bars, Quadratic is committed to providing parts and accessories for daily on- and off-road needs.

Today millions of people receive Quadratec’s printed catalog in the mail. Even though there are more products on the company’s website than in their catalog, Quadratec uses printed catalogs to demonstrate it is an authoritative brand leader. Jeep enthusiasts love “jeeping,” and there’s just something about a giant catalog that gets that adventurer’s heart pumping!

In combination with its print success, Quadratec has elevated digital marketing efforts. By creating a corresponding mobile app, Quadratec allows customers to scan each product in the catalog with a mobile device. Scanned items bring customers to that item’s specific page on the website, so customers can easily tag it for a wish list, add it to their shopping cart, or purchase it from their phone.

Is this effective? Absolutely. Since launching its first AR-enabled catalog, Quadratec has experienced a three percent sales boost, and its mobile app is used an average of 200,000 times each month.

A One-Two Punch

Direct mail meets customers where they live, and catalogs are a long-standing customer favorite.

Data shows 44 percent of customers visit a brand’s website after receiving direct mail marketing, which is 10 percent more than people who visit landing pages after receiving an email. And because catalogs are extremely engaging, people feel more confident about purchasing when they receive one.

David Naumann, vice president of marketing for BRP, noted studies that have shown people can spend upward of 20 minutes looking at catalogs compared to the seconds they might spend looking at product images displayed online:

“When you have that physical catalog, customers might ponder it longer, even write notes on it,” he said. “It’s something you really can’t replicate in other media.”

Want to explore catalog marketing options for your business? Visit us online today for a free quote!

Why Direct Mail Postcards are Worth Every Penny

Although postcards are one of today’s beloved print pieces, they had a humble beginning.

The earliest postcard dates back to 1840 when an English man named Theodore Hook sent one to himself. By 1861, the US Congress allowed privately printed cards, weighing one ounce or under, to be sent through the mail. That year, John P. Charlton copyrighted the first postcard, and by 1901 postcards were a regular part of mailed communication.

Generate Huge Exposure with Just One Mailing

Fast forward a century. 

Postcards are now an essential marketing option for many businesses, and with good reason. These versatile tools represent a huge opportunity for companies that do it right.

And the results are compelling. One real estate agent makes $5,000 to $20,000 in commissions every time she runs a direct mail campaign. A Texas dentist added six figures in new revenue thanks to one mailing. And a financial services firm spent a few thousand dollars to net dozens of new clients with an average value of $1,500 each.

Why are postcards so effective?

According to UnitedMail, 79 percent of people act on direct mail immediately (while only 45 percent do so for email). More than two-thirds of consumers open all of their mail, even easily recognizable junk. And this is especially true for young people! According to the U.S. Postal Service, 36 percent of people under age 30 look forward to checking their mail, and 37 percent of the coveted 25- to 35-year-old demographic immediately read their mail.

Since postcards are so visually accessible, they are read frequently and generate huge exposure. When businesses target specific audiences and link to tailored landing pages on their website, they can spark considerable revenue with just one mailing.

Postcards generate fast results, and they work for any business. As long as you have a clear marketing strategy and great graphic design, postcards will work for you!

4 Keys for Designs that Deliver

When you are ready to launch your direct mail postcard, here are four keys for generating compelling, actionable designs:

1. Design with Your Audience in Mind

If there’s one mistake common to most marketers, it is this: assuming your audience knows the terminology of your industry.

Whether you’re a financial advisor or a chiropractor, frame your ideas in words that would make sense to anyone. 

2. Paint a Picture of the Problem You Can Solve

People won’t read every word you share, so don’t bury the lead.

Immediately communicate the problem your business can fix. Center your writing around how your product can make people’s lives easier or better.

3. Use Simple, Crisp Graphics

The image on your postcard should be instantly recognizable.

While it may be fun to try something clever, this often confuses the audience. Since you have mere seconds to communicate an idea, your image should reinforce the concept in a strong, obvious way.

4. Add Bulleted Lists and Distinct Next Steps

Readers won’t engage with longer text, so shoot for punchy subheadings or bulleted items that clarify value.

People want more than just a phone number or a web link. Be specific with CTAs like, “subscribe to ___ for ______” or “call today for your free consultation!” 

Let Our Team Mail for You

Ready to expand your reach with a focused direct mail campaign?

Save on stress and expense by consolidating your creative processes. Our full-service design specialists can provide the artwork, the printing, and even the mailing services. To get a quote, visit our website today! 

Snag Younger Customers: How to Build Connections with Generation Z

With the oldest of Generation Z graduating and entering the workforce, it’s time to set your sights on this powerful consumer demographic.

Who are these Gen Z individuals, and what is the most effective way to reach them? While many media companies have written them off as “screen addicts,” Gen Z is actually very nimble, engaged, and unique.

Here are a few facts to consider:

  • As of 2020, Gen Z makes up more than 40% of U.S. consumers.
  • Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote.
  • Generation Z represents the leading edge of the country’s changing racial and ethnic makeup. 52% are non-Hispanic white, 25% are Hispanic, 14% are black, 6% are Asian.
  • Gen Z logs on to social media for roughly two hours and 55 minutes each day. This is almost an hour longer than the average millennial.

Want to engage younger prospects? Here are five tips to consider:

1. Diverse images are extremely impactful

Gen Z has a natural awareness of how diversity is depicted (or overlooked) in your media.

Whether it’s custom photography or variety in your testimonials, it will seem strange (or even offensive) if your media is too homogenized.

2. Gen Z loves a good deal

Estimated at having $4 billion in discretionary spending, the buying power of Gen Z is significant.

But having grown up during the 2008 recession, Gen Z has an innate appreciation for a bargain. Gen Z will hunt for value in two ways: buying from inexpensive brands or purchasing expensive items with durability guarantees. Generous warranties and engaging in-store experiences are also a way to offer them more bang for their buck.

3. Gen Z was born social

Over 91% of Gen Z kids have a digital footprint, and Gen Z spends more time on mobile devices than Millennials.

Gen’s Z’s favorite sites are YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Because they are so visual, whenever possible you should “show,” not just “tell.” Image-based advertising and short-videos are especially effective!

4. Real is best

Gen Z people seek uniqueness in all walks of life, and particularly through the brands they buy from.

Gen Z-ers prefer brands that are authentic: 82% said they trust a company more if it uses images of real customers in its advertising, and 72% said they’re more likely to buy from a company that contributes to social causes. Product quality, positive reviews, and customer service are the top three characteristics that fortify their trust in a brand.

5. Give them a voice or a role

Given how socially aware this generation is, remember Gen Z-ers love opportunities to contribute, create, lead, and learn.

Whether you allow them to personalize your product or you prioritize ethical marketing (like partnering with nonprofits or standing for a cause), Gen Z appreciates buying from brands that give them a role in the journey.

Help Them Live in Person

Finally, remember that Gen Z longs to engage, and this doesn’t have to be online. 

A new A.T. Kearney study reports that 81% of Gen Z respondents prefer to purchase in stores, 73% like to discover new products in stores, and 58% browse in-store selections to disconnect from social media and live in the moment.

From gorgeous window banners to sharp point-of-purchase displays, sensory impact plays a principal role in creating the right mood for an impulse purchase.

Expand Your Influence by Growing in Self-Awareness

Have you exited a bathroom without realizing there was toilet paper on your shoe?

Or awkwardly tried to make conversation with someone who had food on their face? Whether someone is clumsy in conversation or they have really bad breath, a lack of self-awareness can profoundly hinder their reputation or influence.

Success Starts in Relationships

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness involves being aware of different aspects of the self: including traits, behaviors, appearance, and feelings. Researchers find two areas of self-awareness to be especially important in leadership:

Internal self-awareness: This represents how clearly you see your values, passions, aspirations, fit with your environment, reactions (including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses), and impact on others.

Internal self-awareness is associated with higher job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, and happiness. It is negatively related to anxiety, stress, and depression.

External self-awareness: Understanding how other people view you can make you more responsive as a team member and more skilled at showing empathy or taking others’ perspectives. 

When you more clearly see yourself as others do, you will have better relationships with your team, and they will view you as a more effective leader. 

If success starts in relationships, self-awareness is arguably the most important capability for leaders to develop. The numbers reflect this. In a study of the stock performance of 486 publicly traded companies, Korn/Ferry International found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness than poorly performing companies.

Know Yourself to Empower Better Choices

Do you want to grow in self-awareness? Here are a few areas to focus on:

1- Strengths and weaknesses

Each of us has strengths and weaknesses that can hinder us or help us reach our goals.

Take ownership over these regularly, and compensate for shortcomings through personal development, honest acknowledgement of your struggles, or by delegating weak areas to someone with greater expertise.  

2- Triggers

Identify what factors, triggers, or indicators – both negative and positive – prompt others’ behaviors toward you.

Think about questions like: why do you do the things you do, and how do others respond? How do you respond in turn, and why do you react the way you do? What is the impact of culture on your perspective and others’ perceptions?

3- Moods

Try not to make decisions when you’re in a bad mood.

Whether you’re feeling depressed or just “hangry,” bad moods can make you lose sight of your hope or your values. Emotionally aware people can push pause, allowing trying situations to simmer down before they respond.

4- Personal Curiosity

Leaders are learners, and curious people are nimble amidst challenges.

While you can’t control your circumstances, you can take responsibility for who you become. Stay curious, respect others’ opinions, and don’t stop seeking to grow and change.

Commit to Continual Growth

Emotional intelligence empowers you to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and to proactively manage your relationships in healthier ways.  

Leaders who focus on building self-awareness will seek honest feedback from others and examine why they succeed or fail in different circumstances. And this can be fun! Remember, no matter how much progress you make, there’s always more to learn. That’s one of the things that makes personal growth so exciting. 

Sell Yourself with a Winning Elevator Pitch

Can you introduce yourself or your business in a brief, compelling way?

An elevator pitch does precisely that. While the origins of this term are debated, the name reflects the idea of a quick speech that could be given in the span of an elevator ride (thirty seconds to two minutes).

An elevator pitch is a short description of an idea, product, or company that explains the concept in a way that any listener could understand. This engaging summary could be used to entice an investor, to explain an idea, or to sell your services. Done right, your pitch can help you land a job or connect with prospective customers.

It can take time to solidify your pitch, but here are four tips that can help:

1. Build a Connection

The start of a conversation is a perfect time to establish a relationship.

Begin by introducing yourself and, if possible, build off a previous connection or shared experience. As you share, try to reference your credentials, training, or something that differentiates you from competitors.

Here are a few engaging openers:

–How does your organization recruit new employees?

–Can I tell you about the best mobile tools for training your staff remotely?

–Let me tell you about the time I took our products all the way to South America for ___.

2. Introduce Your Company or Career Goals

To move the conversation forward, draft a one-sentence story that answers the question, “what do you/your business do?”

Since listeners are inherently self-focused, make sure your account highlights what you can do for your prospect, including the value you can deliver or the problems your business can solve.

If you’re selling yourself, remember to outline your big picture vision. Say something like, “I’m looking to land a role in marketing,” or “I’m hoping to relocate to ___ for _____.” When a person understands your role or goals, they are in a better position to help to connect you to someone who can.

3. Highlight Your Unique Value or Achievements

After establishing who you are, now it’s time to shine.

Point to any unique selling points or personal achievements that make you (or your business) stand out. Back this up with evidence or testimonials from satisfied customers. Anticipate potential skepticism ad head this off with facts, examples, or trustworthy referrals.

4. Ask a Question

As you close your introduction, be sure to ask an open-ended question.

This can help engage the person in a longer conversation or open the door for you to trade business cards or follow up with a company brochure or a personal resume. 

Here are a few compelling closers:

“Here is my contact information, can I get your email and follow up with you later?”

“Could you connect me with your business manager so I can share more about what I could offer your team?”

“If you have time, I would love to meet again to chat more.”

Practice Makes Perfect

It takes time to grow confidence, so hone and refine your speech over time.

Most people will go through multiple drafts before settling on the words that are just right. And depending on your audience, your pitch may be slightly different each time. Remember, the most potent conversations are those whose subject matter is highly relevant to the listener.

­­Be upbeat and flexible and you’ll make connections like a pro!

How to Keep Your Cool in Pressure-Packed Situations

In July of 2020, more than four million people savored the chance to watch live Major League Baseball on the opening night of a historic 60 game series.

Due to the intensity of the abbreviated coronavirus season, each game matters immensely. By winning the first game, a team instantly has nearly a 3-game lead over the team that it beats. With the number of season games shrinking by half, every homerun and strikeout is intensified. Only those teams that can perform well under pressure can pull out a short season victory.

Many people in the business world are facing a similar pressure. 

Corporate teams have been forced to adopt tighter timelines, operate with a slimmer margin, or do more with fewer teammates. How will you respond to that pressure? And how can you encourage those around you to avoid panic or stress?

Here are three tips to guide you through moments of high intensity:

1. Create a Prioritization Strategy

Make a list of monthly tasks and then assess each item. 

Ask questions like: is this item important to me? Will it relieve pressure or clear space in my day? Does it move our team forward? If not, look at delegating, postponing, or eliminating this task. 

2. Focus on the Fundamentals

You never really become better in the moment. 

In moments of immense stress, it is easy to make foolish decisions or go for the “Hail Mary” option. With so much uncertainty, playing a wild card can be a costly mistake. Instead of looking for a magic bullet, focus more on the most basic, time-tested strategies for success. Whether this is following up on prospects, or just a willingness to make the high-percentage “predictable” move again and again, stick with strategies that have historically brought success. 

3. Change How You Think About Pressure

“Pressure is a privilege.”

Tennis great Billie Jean King has been credited with this quote, and there is a reason it hits home for so many.

One of the most daunting parts about working in tense conditions is the temptation to psyche yourself out. Sports psychologists help athletes overcome this by using visualization of positive outcomes. Before a match or competition, top players coin short phrases describing who they are at their best: “I am consistent, I am intimidating, and I never give up without a fight.” When stressful moments come, athletes don’t focus on the worst (“don’t strike out, don’t strike out”) but consciously visualize success. When confidence flows, players are more likely to rise to their potential.

Another way to visualize success is by breaking a mammoth task into manageable pieces so you can actually “see” how the work could be completed. Best-selling author and business coach Dave Anderson says people can face overwhelming situations by breaking their response into manageable pieces:  

“More often than not, we worry about some imaginary catastrophe that never happens, and that tends to render us powerless,” Anderson said. “Focus on one aspect of the task at a time, instead of looking at it in its totality. If you make a list of every step and use a “paint-by-numbers” approach, you’ll be fine.”

Resistance Training Builds Strength

Whether it is demands from your boss or supply chain obstructions, every person has obstacles that threaten to derail them from success.

But ultimately, stressful situations can push your performance to levels you could never reach otherwise. As University of Tulsa psychologist Jennifer Ragsdale says, “without challenge comes boredom. A life with zero stress is not a life worth living.”

Embrace Conflict and Diversity to Grow the Strongest Possible Teams

2020 has been a time of unrest, listening, and re-evaluating priorities.

Businesses have been particularly challenged to examine their own biases and to proactively seek the well-being of all people. While topics of diversity and inclusion can be difficult to navigate, strong leaders recognize that a variety of opinions and backgrounds bring a better result.

At P&G, this mindset drives leaders to embrace conflicting opinions. To create an inclusive environment, supervisors try not to shy away from disagreements or heated discussions:

“Accessing diverse points of view is vital in creating optimum strategies and plans,” said Geraldine Huse, CEO & chairman of the board. “An inclusive leader creates an environment where disagreement is viewed positively. I have learned from experience that the more diverse the team, the more debate and disagreement we have and the better the outcome . . . Listening to people, understanding and solving problems collectively, taking advantage of all the diverse experience – this is what makes an inclusive leader successful.”

Leadership is Influence

No factor plays a bigger role in creating a company’s culture than its leadership. 

Many people think of leadership as a top-down, closed circle of directors. But real leadership is influence, so scientists describe leadership differently. Specifically, leaders are people who can navigate a psychological process that enables individuals to improve collective actions. The best teams are comprised of people who set aside individual, selfish agendas to work as a cohesive unit. Here, groups achieve something powerful they could never accomplish alone.

If you want to develop effective, influential leaders, collaboration is key. While there is no simple method for building an inclusive corporate culture, here are three traits you can encourage in yourself and others.

Humility

Being in charge doesn’t mean you are right.

Read that sentence again, because we all need to hear it! One of the primary reasons you’ll fail to grow as a leader is your temptation toward pride. Just because you feel confident about something doesn’t mean you couldn’t be wrong. Humble leaders are willing to listen to others, to admit weakness, and to change their minds.

Courage

People who influence others are those who drive change.

But this can be very uncomfortable! While it is rarely convenient to challenge the status quo, innovation and diversity can’t flourish in static environments. In particular, courageous leaders are clear on their values and principles, but they are brave enough to do things differently. As Dr. Carol Dweck once said, the word FAIL means “First Attempt In Learning.”

Courageous leaders can walk away from unproductive situations, and they view diversity as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

Curiosity

Leaders are learners, and no trait is as foundational for growth as curiosity.

Curious leaders are interested in other people and don’t shy away from those different than them. They are eager to understand why people think the way they do, and they aren’t afraid to engage with those who disagree.

To be a curious learner, ask a lot of questions (even dumb questions!). Work to suspend your embedded attitudes, experiences, or assumptions, and lean into a mental or emotional state where things “might” fail. Allow people to explore imaginary outcomes with phrases like, “could it be?” or “what if?” Then listen without judgment to learn.

Fuel Synergy From Diversity

Do you want to build a culture where everyone can thrive?

Leaders who can create a strong synergy out of diverse (or even opposite!) individual elements will embrace conflict and welcome different perspectives. By reducing the homogeneity of groupthink, you will maximize collaboration, encourage personal and corporate well-being, and keep your decision-making biases in check.