Using MagCloud to Market Your Real Estate Business

Today we want to speak to the real estate agents and agencies of the world. If you’re spending time and money printing up fact sheets, flyers, listing catalogs and brochures every month or even once a week, our service can help make the process easier. We know in the world of real estate, things are constantly changing. You sell a house and have to remove it from your list catalog. A new unit goes on the market and you’re turning around a new fact sheet in a few hours.

Just browse our site and you’ll see that MagCloud is already a popular tool for real estate agents. MagClouders are branching out beyond property listings; they’re including tips for first-time homeowners, agent profiles and ads for local businesses that home buyers might find useful. Photographers are in on the real estate market too as they sell annuity, using MagCloud to show how hiring a professional photographer can make your properties stand out as an agent. (And we couldn’t agree more!) MagCloud’s Flyer product is popular for any prints that don’t require binding. Full-color fliers with images of your listings will make your sales sheets pop and your competitors green with envy.

MagCloud’s services can also help you be more nimble as a business, keeping you a step ahead of that other agency or agent. Think about it. We offer a print-on-demand service which means no more bulk orders of brochures. With MagCloud, you order what you need as you need it and you’ll receive your prints in as little as three days. Go further with your publication by offering an iPad or PDF-friendly version as well. Your clients will appreciate a paperless version when they’re juggling fact sheets and flyers for so many different properties.

Beyond its true cost-saving and waste-reducing advantages, HP’s top-notch print quality is the No. 1 reason MagCloud customers keep coming back. Don’t just take our word for it, hear from a satisfied real estate agent who’s been using MagCloud to promote his realty business with 4-page flyers and community Buyers Guides. Also, check out other resources on our site like the Product Spotlight: Flyer for Business and tips on how to attract an audience with great content.

Now we want to hear from you. As a real estate agent, how have you incorporated MagCloud as a tool to promote your business? Feel free to share your tips and success stories with us in the comments section below.

367 Addison Avenue: Go Beyond Printing to the Heart of Your Business

Small businesses are finding more and more ways to use online resources to help their business grow and be successful. For example, HP MagCloud has helped thousands of businesses and independent publishers engage with their audiences, but did you know that HP has other small business resources available to help owners grow far beyond their communication and publishing needs?

A great resource is www.367AddisonAvenue.com. This HP small business blog features tips and tricks on basic business technology, how-to’s to grow your business, advice from leading experts on trends and upcoming small business technology, and stories about small businesses across the U.S. that are practicing technology innovation.

To all the small business owners and independent publishers out there who are trying to get your businesses off the ground, we encourage you to visit this blog to learn more on topics including:

You can also join the conversation or be the one to start it at HP’s Small Biz Nation community.


How to Personalize Your MagCloud Page

If you’re using MagCloud to create collateral for your business, portfolios for photography, catalogs for your retail store, a unique magazine, or other content to promote your brand, then shouldn’t your MagCloud page reinforce your brand too?

It’s easy to make your MagCloud profile and publication pages work for you by taking a few minutes to flesh out your publisher profile and create header images that reinforce your brand throughout your pages.

Your Publisher Page

No matter what sort of business you’re into, when customers discover your content on MagCloud, you want them to be able to connect with you directly. Your profile page includes an option to link directly to a website of your choosing, and with some simple html you can also include hyperlinks, images and emphasize text within your profile description.

To get started, you’ll need to log into your account and go to your publisher profile editor.


Link to a website: <a href=”URL”>link</a>

In our Jane Doe example, we used some of MagCloud’s allowed HTML tags to include more links in Jane’s profile. To add a link to your website without having to include the whole website URL, you can simply insert a block of text like below:

Curious about more recent work, or what I’m up to?
Check out my <a href=”http://yourwebaddress.com”>blog</a&gt;.

It will show up in your profile like this:

Bold Text: <b>text</b>

To create bold text, you just need to add <b> before your selection and </b> after. We did this with our Jane example like this:

Hi! I’m Jane, and here on MagCloud you can find all of my portfolios, pricing guides, photography workbooks and collateral for my photography business <b>NotYourAverageJane</b>.

Which then looks like this:

Emphasize/italicize Text: <em>emphasis</em>

To add the title of Jane’s autobiography in italics we used the code for emphasis. Simply put <em> before the text you want italicized and </em> after the text to close the emphasis:

Want to find out more about me, and my life behind the lens? Be sure to check out my 200-page autobiography <em>Don’t Call Me Jane</em> available for purchase here on MagCloud.

Which will appear like this:

Image Link: <img src=”URL”>

You can also insert images or logos into your profile by linking to the image within the text using <img src=”URL”>. This requires that the image is the size you want it to appear in the profile, and that it already has an associated URL. It’s best if this image is pulled from your own website (like your logo) or if you have loaded a special sized image onto your own flickr or other photo host that allows linking directly to the image. If you link to a resource that you don’t control, you might run into broken links if the image is ever moved. For Jane’s example we linked the social media icons that she already had on her blog. This example actually includes two pieces of html, one for the icon image, and then the following text which links to the associated LinkedIn URL:

You can also find me on
<img src=”http://notyouraveragejane/images/LinkedIn_IN_Icon_25px.jpg&#8221; />
<a href=”http://linkedin.com”>LinkedIn</a&gt;

Which will appear like this:

Your Collection Page

For every group of documents you create, you get to have a “collection page” which can have it’s own branded banner and unique URL. This is great if you have a selection of related documents that you want to be able to promote as a group. A great example of this is MagCloud publisher, Golfweek, which has created collections of Souvenir Golf Programs and Golfweek Special Editions. Each collection reinforces the Golfweek brand and furthers their messaging but keeps relevant content together. Check out their banners below:

Customizing with Banners

Want to create your own branded banners? To setup the custom banner for a collection, you must first create the graphic that you plan to use. The banner specs require an image with a maximum size of 790 x 90px, in either JPG, GIF, or PNG formats. You can create this image in any software application of your choosing that can output to one of these formats. You can also upload a smaller image–it’s up to you.

Uploading Your Banner

Once you have your image ready to go, you’ll want to navigate to your collection page. You can get here by visiting your profile page (yourusername.magcloud.com) or by going to one of your publications via magcloud.com/publish. On the right-hand side of the page, you will see an “Add a Custom Banner Image” button.

Once you have clicked the button, you will be prompted to find the image file on your harddrive, and upload it to MagCloud.

The image you upload will be visible on the associated collection page,

and on each of the individual publication pages within that collection.

Have you used custom banners or any of these HTML tricks in your publisher/publication descriptions?
If so, please share them below in the comments section to inspire others.

Extending Your Brand With a Magazine

Your brand collateral is the most important opportunity to talk about your product or service. But getting your target audience to read your brochure, or catalog cover-to-cover isn’t always easy.

That’s why so many businesses have found that branded magazines are a unique way to pique audiences interest with relevant content and information, while reinforcing their brand message. It keeps them top of mind in a format that gets to their customers or target audience more frequently—be it annually, quarterly or monthly. What’s better—it’s in a form-factor that is both familiar and comfortable for the reader.

Many businesses have found that they can better engage with potential customers and increase brand loyalty by publishing a magazine of their own. According to a study conducted by the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA Advantage Study, 2007) on branded magazines (or as they call them, “customer magazines,”) – customers spend 25 minutes on average with such a publication, compared with a TV ad (30 seconds) and an internet ad (0.5 seconds). That’s 25 minutes immersed with a brand.  And while in-house magazines were once considered glorified advertorials, today the use of subtle branding and genuine editorial content helps many successful businesses tactfully promote themselves. *Want to read more about the study? You can download the executive summary as a PDF here.

How does it work? Well, by presenting your business in a more editorial format you can:

  • develop prospective customers and foster increased loyalty
  • establish your organization or company as current on issues and trends
  • position yourself as an expert in your field
  • be a resource for information that is relevant to your audience
  • reinforce your style and voice
  • give depth and relevance to your brand in an environment you can control

Finding Inspiration

Take for example a few major brands that publish their own magazines: British fashion label Asos’ self-titled magazine includes advertising for products that appeal to their demographic, such as cosmetics, high-end watches and perfumes. They also balance the promotion of their own products by pairing them with complimentary pieces and accessories that work with their customer’s style.

Coscto has it’s very own The Costco Connection, which combines information about what’s new at Costco with a mix of lifestyle and small business articles.

USAA’s USAA Magazine focuses on advice for becoming financially secure, with articles that appeal to it’s wide audience–young and old.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG Quarterly—delivers compelling profiles and medically stoked articles in a publication that hopes to bolster the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s efforts to ‘make cancer a global priority.’

Each of these do a great job of combining editorial content with promotional content for their products, services, mission or cause. One great thing you will notice about all of them too? They each reinforce their brand through styling and voice, but without seeming like pushy sales collateral.

Getting Started

So how do you even get started creating a brand magazine? Well there are a number of things to consider, the first of which is the actual branding. Much like traditional collateral, a brand magazine should be in line with your  brand’s style and voice, but it where it differs is that a branded magazine needs to be subtle and controlled in how and when you promote your brand. A branded magazine should be designed with the customer’s tastes, interests, style and wants at the forefront; and weave in brand, product or service messaging where it actually enhances editorial and design.

Brand magazines can help you achieve your desired positioning in the minds of your stakeholders and customers. Whether your brand is edgy, luxurious, down to earth, straight to the point, or fun and whimsical, you want that same feeling to come across through your magazine. For most businesses, when you established your branding, you probably came up with words to describe your mission, voice, style and audience.

Put it Down on Paper

Now is the time to grab a piece of paper and start defining the sort of message you want to give to your customer. How do you want to establish your brand? What sort of content will you include, and how should you style it to be in line with your voice, mission and style? Use words to describe your brand and you customer– are they fashion-forward, politically-minded, edgy, traditional, mostly men or women, older, youthful etc?

These are your design principles and the list should be short and sweet. In as few words as possible, make clear the vision for the publication and any keywords people should keep in mind while designing.

Keep this list. Pin it to your wall. It will make for a great litmus test as you move forward and start creating. Every once and awhile go back to the list and be sure you are appealing to your audience and staying true to your brand.

Deciding on Color

This seems like a no-brainer, but coming up with colors that are true to your brand, that you use consistently throughout your magazine, is tougher that it seems. You may find sites like COLOURlovers helpful for exploring colors that work well with your logo or brand colors. Create a palette and save it. Then as you publish new issues, the consistent use of color will also reinforce your brand.

Typography

Now it’s time to define the typefaces to use: sizes, line height, spacing before and after, colors, headline versus body font, etc. With editorial content there is some flexibility in this, but defining a consistent style sheet will maintain the integrity of your publication and brand throughout the publication. Use fancy fonts sparingly, so that they maintain their impact and legibility on the page.

Create a Mock-up Magazine

This will eventually be your style guide, but at first it is a way to flesh out all of the style choices that you will want to make so that you can stay true to your brand. This will also help you keep a visual consistency not only throughout each publication, but also from publication to publication over time. Save this file and use it to start creating your magazine, then keep that original as a starting point for each subsequent issue–it will save you a lot of time!

Now Get Your Brand Out There

Now, you’re ready to publish. If you’re looking for more advice for designing your file, or templates to get you started, remember you can always check out our other Tips & Tricks!

How do you get your brand out there? Have you come up with other unique ways to keep you brand top-of-mind with your customers? Does your organization or company have a branded magazine? Tell us about it below in the comments section!

Design Tips to Help You Get Your Message Out

MagCloud offers a lot of options to help you communicate with members of your organization. Not only can you offer members the choice of a print or digital version through the MagCloud website, but you can also use our Ship to Group feature to mail a print copy to each one of them or use our Guest Pass feature to allow members-only access to unlisted publications via email.

Whether your group is focused on a shared interest or a shared alma mater, keeping members informed is an important part of maintaining any membership organization. At MagCloud we’ve seen membership communications take many forms, including newsletters, annual reports, member directories, and even calendars.

While the content of member communications varies greatly depending on the type of organization and the form of publication being created, here are a couple of design tips that are always good to keep in mind:

1. Keep your message clear. This doesn’t just pertain to what you are writing, but also to how you present your message on the page. Make sure that the information that is most important to your members is placed front and center, and anything additional is cleanly laid out in an organized and easy to follow fashion. Doing so will allow members to easily navigate through the publication and better ensure that they receive the messages you are hoping to deliver. This is particularly important when creating a member directory, which by nature contains a large amount of content. You don’t want to hinder the delivery of this content by having a disorderly layout that is difficult to find your way through.

Moorestown Rowing The Moorestown Rowing Club’s annual publication offers a great example of a large amount of content that has been laid out in an orderly fashion. Using bold titles and a consistent two-spread layout they are able to present their team rosters in a way that is easy to navigate and understand.

2. Use colors, fonts and imagery that are familiar. Although you may not think of it this way, your organization is a brand, and it’s important to take advantage of brand recognition in the communications you send to your members. The easiest way to do this is through the colors, fonts and imagery you use, matching those in your publication with ones that are used elsewhere on your group’s website or blog. By maintaining a consistent look and feel, you’ll help ensure that members make the association with your organization instantly when the printed piece lands on their doorstep.

American Glass GuildThe American Glass Guild does a great job of establishing a brand with their MagCloud-published newsletter. They not only keep a consistent look and feel with each issue but also using colors, fonts and imagery in their publications that is similar to those found on their website.

3. Balance your content. As with the other publication types we’ve discussed in recent weeks, it’s good to keep your readers engaged in your content, regardless of what the intent of the publication is. A big part of this is visual – when a reader encounters a page full of text, they may feel somewhat daunted by the amount of content they are being presented with. Rather than just giving your readers a lot of text to consume, balance the layout of your member communications with supporting images and related infographics. Even just breaking up a page of text with some white space can help make your message easier on the eyes. The easier your message is to consume, the more likely it is that your members will receive it.

Perception MagazineThe Canadian Council on Social Development’s Perception magazine is a great example of a membership publication with a balanced layout. Each of the longer text pieces in the magazine are accompanied by images, call-out quotes, and colored text boxes of related information. Not only does this makes the pages of the publication more visually appealing than they if they were just filled with solid blocks of text, but the added content also makes them more interesting to read.

Has your club or organization used MagCloud to communicate with its members? Tell us how in the comments below.

When it Comes to Catalogs, Content is King

Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared tips and templates to help design your catalog for MagCloud. Today we discuss catalog content, and a few best practices to keep in mind when selecting your content.

First up, images. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and you want the images you select for your catalog to speak highly of your products and services. Therefore, make sure you select high quality images for your publication (we recommend 300 dpi for printed publications), and that each image highlights the product or service you’re hoping to sell. Mixing up stand-alone product images with lifestyle imagery is a great way to offer more visual interest for the reader, just be sure that the products remain the focus regardless of the image style you select.

And where are images more prominent than on your catalog cover.  Catalog covers are critical in quickly grabbing your customer’s attention and getting them to open your publication.  MultiChannel Merchant recently published a great article discussing the key strategies in designing an effective catalog cover, which include relevance, emotion, drama and differentiaton.

Next, let’s talk about text. If you look at a lot of mainstream catalogs, you’ll notice that text is used only for detailed descriptions of the products and services being featured, but also as brief call out quotes and titles. Using text features like this help attract the reader’s attention and interest, and can be a great way to encourage the reader to linger over your catalog longer. It’s also a great opportunity to call out more marketable features of the products and services you are hoping to sell.

Similarly, smaller paragraphs of text are great for providing descriptions of your products and services, just be sure you don’t overwhelm your reader with too much text. You will want to include enough text to get your point across, but not so much that your customer loses interest halfway though.

Finally, just as important as the text and image content is how it is arranged. Since catalogs are complex by nature, it’s important to keep your content organized and clean. Having a table of contents and creating sections in your catalog can be a great way to break up a large amount of content. Also, as we’ve discussed before, using white space to break up your content is a great way to keep the focus on the products and services you’re hoping to highlight.

If you’re looking for more ideas and inspiration, check out Slodive’s 25 Best Catalog Design Inspirations.

Have any other tips to share from your own catalog creation experience? Share them in the comments below!

New Catalog Template

Looking for ways to showcase your growing line of products or services?  We have added a new catalog template to our free template collection.

This multi-page template is for Adobe InDesign users and is perfect for product or service brochures.  We’ve created a sample publication using this template to show you how easy it is to make a great looking catalog that is MagCloud-ready.

If you are new to using Adobe InDesign to create MagCloud-ready publications make sure to download our Adobe InDesign Getting Started Guide for tips on settings for trim, bleeds, image resolution and more.

Let us know what you think of the new template in our comments section below.