Tips From Photoshop World, Pt.1

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A couple of us Emma designers recently trekked up to Boston for the Photoshop World Conference and boy, did we come back with some goodies. Yes, we received our fair share of totebags and light-up pens, however, the best souvenir of all was the wealth of everyday Photoshop knowledge we acquired. Considering our design team spends a large percentage of the day working in this program, we couldn't wait to get back to Nashville and try out some of these new methods with our email stationery design. We quickly realized that implementing our new found knowledge would make for a faster, easier workflow and email template designs that were down-right more stylish.

Sharing what we learned with the rest of our team was a given, but why stop there? Heck, let's go ahead and share with the entire design community. (My kindergarten teacher would be so proud.)

In an effort to keep this information digestible and shorter than the actual Photoshop World Guidebook itself, we've picked out 6 topics that we think you'll really like. And to start it off, this first one is short & sweet:

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One: The very first session I attended at the conference really started the week off with a bang. It was called 'Painting with Photoshop' by Bert Monroy. Bert creates these amazing paintings in Photoshop that one would be tempted to call 'photo-realistic.' However, Bert's pieces are considerably more detailed than any photograph ever could be. That's because his paintings are created at an extremely high resolution and are actually made up of many different files. Use a zooming function on one of his paintings and you will only find more details; whereas in a photo you would quickly find pixels.

Since most of us aren't sitting in front of our computers creating a thousand layer, hyper-realistic photoshop painting, you might wonder 'what's the take away, here?' Well, the most inspiring thing about Bert's presentation was that he focused more on his philosophy and thought process rather than on steps to simply copy what he was doing. I really enjoyed the fact that he mostly wanted to share his mentality and then challenged the crowd to apply that to what it is they do.

The funny thing about Bert's mentality is that while he calls his work 'paintings,' he uses the 'paintbrush tool' a lot less often than you'd think. Perhaps the reason for this is because he is too busy using almost every other function available in Photoshop. Here are three simple, yet oh-so-useful tips that Bert had to share:

outer glow example
1 – Ignore the actual names of certain tools, effects & functions. They can be used for so much more than they like to claim. For example, the 'Outer Glow' layer style sounds pretty self-explanatory, but really, what's in a name? Who says you couldn't use this to apply a drop shadow that may or may not be better than the actual 'Drop Shadow' effect itself?

To do this:
- simply apply an 'Outer Glow'
- change the blend mode from 'screen' to 'multiply'
- change your color to a darker shade of your choice

It's also useful to adjust the size, spread, and opacity. The result is a nice even shadow, whereas the 'Drop Shadow' option is usually heavier on certain sides.

2 – Push all the buttons. There are certain features in Photoshop I assume are of no use to me and tend to avoid altogether. But as Bert knows, you can be pleasantly surprised by these neglected tools. So just go ahead and push it.

3 – Slide the scale from one extreme to another. If you are experimenting with a tool or adjustment, make sure to test the way it looks at every setting from -100 to +100. This can sometimes result in perfection.

These tips may be simple, but as Bert's work has so gracefully reminded us, the possibilities with Photoshop really are endless…if you let them be.

Stay tuned for 5 more installments of Photoshop World goodness in the coming weeks!

The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Where in the World is Emma this Quarter? Pt. 2

You may remember when I posted recently on where Emma will be in Q2 and thought to yourself "Gee, are there any other events coming up where I could meet the Emma crew?" or "I hope I didn't miss an opportunity to get an Emma bag tag." If you've asked yourself these questions and wondered how to grow your bag tag collection, here are a few other events coming up that you might be interested in:

Marketing Jam 09

Austin AMA Marketing Jam '09
May 12 :: Austin, TX

Join us at the Austin AMA Marketing Jam and hear our very own Jim Hitch & Annie Williams explain how email's role is changing with the emergence of social networks and what you can do to maximize all the tools in your marketing toolkit. If you are interested in learning more about the event or want to join the Austin AMA, click here.

RMDMA DM Day
May 13 :: Denver, CO

The Rocky Mountain Direct Marketing Association is having their annual Direct Marketing Day on May 13th. The event will be filled with workshops & seminars focused on providing insight to new marketing strategies. As an exhibitor, we can invite guests to attend the keynote address featuring Patrick Snow
and the networking event for half price, just $25. If you are interested in registering for this offer, click here and choose "Exhibitor Special." Be sure to use access code: dmd09exh025 and you will be all set.

Colorado Business Marketplace
May 21 :: Denver, CO

Colorado Business MarketPlace is a mini tradeshow and networking event put on by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. The event is free to all Chamber members so if you would like to learn more about attending, or if you are interested in joining the Chamber, please click here.

Bike for Branches

May 30 :: Nashville, TN

Pro-Earth charity, Soundforest has put together really great bike-riding event that will start from Sevier Park and finish up at the 12 South Taproom with an Outdoor Music Festival in which Emma is the stage sponsor. As a sponsor for this event, we are offering 5 coupons each worth 20% off registration. To take advantage of this special offer, click here and use the special code"emmatrees" at checkout.

Healthcamp Nash
May 30 :: Nashville, TN

HealthCamp Nash is a free one-day event happening at Lipscomb University's College of Pharmacy. If you are interested at all in the healthcare industry, this event is definitely for you. Learn more at http://www.healthcampnash.com/.

 

Making Media Connections

Making Media Connections '09
June 10-11 :: Chicago, IL

Emma will be back in Chicago as a sponsor for the Making Media Connections '09 non-profit event. Not only will Emma be an exhibitor at this event, but our very own Annie Williams will also be speaking on a panel entitled Words on Web: Learn from experts and your peers how they are using texting, e-newsletters, blogging and more to spread the word on the Web about their work. If you are interested in attending this event, you can register here.

Now students in Wisconsin can sharpen their pencils - and their minds

During this year's SXSWi, Emma asked participants to help decide which 40 classrooms to help through DonorsChoose.org, an organization that helps fund classroom projects that fall outside public school budgets.

One such request came from Ms. F., who teaches math, science and reading to 44 sixth-graders in Wisconsin. In her classroom, there are two pencil sharpeners, one of which doesn't work well, the other of which just doesn't work. It takes two students to sharpen a pencil here, as one holds the broken sharpener steady while the other turns the crank.

Ms. F. appealed to DonorsChoose.org, asking for a pencil sharpener. Her students, she wrote, have great potential despite many obstacles: they've run out of glue for science fair boards, they don't have enough graph paper to practice graphs in math and have no poster paper for group presentations. Plus, they share a limited number of pencils.

"The truth is, I teach in a rough neighborhood," wrote Ms. F. "My students put up with more disappointment than they should have to and I would love to provide everything for them but, unfortunately, that is not possible. What we're asking for is a working pencil sharpener and a few other basic supplies that will make our day run just a little bit more smoothly."

Emma and others helped fulfilled her $276 request. Here's what she wrote in response:

"Thank you SO much for funding my project! These resources are going to greatly enhance the learning in my classroom. Not having to send students to other rooms to sharpen their pencils or try, desperately, to manipulate our broken pencil sharpener is going to be wonderful. You don't realize how amazing a working pencil sharpener is until you don't have one. smile

"People like you who are so willing to help out students in need truly amaze me. There are so many people in these students' communities and lives who are not even willing to support them and here you are, strangers to them, and more than willing to put their needs in front of your own. I hope you know how much your generosity is appreciated."

Working with DonorsChoose.org is just one of the ways Emma gives back. Click here to learn more. See the full list of classrooms we helped fund here. And learn how you can sponsor your *own* classroom project here.

Two fabulous notes from the Emma community, post Arbor Day

Last week, we had a little fun on Arbor Day, crafting, um, totally fake notes from a few of the 28,000 trees the Emma community has helped plant this year. In reply, a few of our (always stylish) customers let us know of a few great tree-related programs in their *own* worlds, and we thought we'd share a couple of them with you now:

From Meryl Dorey at Fountain of Beauty Cosmetics in Bangalow, Australia:

Dear Emma folk,

This is not a support request – just a thank you! When I signed up for Emma (only a few days ago), I had no idea of your involvement with planting trees – but what a lucky coincidence. My husband is editor of the Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare newsletter and has spent the last 20 years planting about 15,000 rainforest trees native to the far North Coast of NSW where we are (the Big Scrub). I thank you for what you do to help the environment of North America – my home for the first 30 years of my life – and am very glad to have joined an organisation that cares for nature as well as providing such good service.

And from John Spady at Countrywide Community Forums in Seattle, WA:

I wanted to draw attention to a project that my 86-year-old father has been managing for over 10 years! The "Plant a Tree for Citizenship" project is sponsored by the Bellevue Overlake Rotary Club in District 5030. Here is a short blurb about it from their club site:

One of the most memorable and impacting hands-on project that is ongoing is our Plant a Tree For Citizenship program led by Dick Spady. Plant a tree involves elementary students growing evergreen trees from seeds and conducting a tree planting ceremony a year later.

Just another good story from an Arbor Day / Earth Day perspective!

Fun editorial note: Dick Spady, the man who started the program (also, John's dad), is the same Dick Spady who started Dick's Drive-In, the famous restaurant chain in the Seattle area. Burgers *and* trees. Clearly our kind of guy.

Thanks to Meryl & John for sharing their stories (and lives) with us, and here's to all the great work being done around the world on behalf of our tall, leafy friends. Cheers!

Where in the World is Emma this Quarter? Pt. 1

You may ask yourself on occasion, I wonder what the folks at Emma are up to this month? or I wonder if any of them will be in my town soon? or perhaps, I wonder what they're having for lunch today? Well, if you are one of those people who ask these questions, or one that talks to themselves, this is for you, question-asking-friend.

If we are coming to your town or you are traveling to one of the events we are sponsoring, please come by and say hello. You may even walk away with some sweet Emma flair (or chotchkies). Below is a list of events that Emma will be sponsoring in May and June with special offers that might help your decision on whether to attend. We will be posting another blog the first week of May for the events that are less time sensitive for registration.

BarCamp Portland
May 1 :: Portland, OR

Barcamp Portland is an unconference put together by folks in the Portland technology community that offers demos, group discussions & networking opportunities with peers. To learn more about how you can get involved with BarCamp Portland, you can click here for more information.

NAMA's AIM Awards
May 6 :: Nashville, TN

The Nashville American Marketing Association is holding their Stand By Your Brand Awards event at the Wildhorse Saloon in Downtown Nashville. If you are interested in learning more about some of Nashville's most successful marketing campaigns, click here.

National Restaurant Association Show

May 16-19 :: Chicago, IL

We will be located at booth #5961 on Level 3 of McCormick Place North Hall, so please swing by and say hello.

We also have the opportunity to give away two event registrations that will give attendees access to the exhibit hall and educational sessions. Please contact us to inquire about the special offer.

MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum
June 8-9 :: Boston, MA

The theme of June's event is to re:charge, re:invent, re:engage and that is exactly what we hope everyone in attendance will do. As a sponsor of the B2B forum, we are able to pass along a $200 discount to anyone interested in attending.

If you are going to be in Boston and want to take advantage of this discount, click here and make sure to remember to use the discount code is ESPN7.

Open Source Bridge
June 17-19 :: Portland, OR

If you are a developer interested in open source technologies and plan on being in Portland June 17-19, this event may be right up your alley (literally).

As a sponsor, we can offer a special discount of $100 off of the $250 conference price. Register here and use the code osbemma.

HOW Design Conference¨
June 24-27 :: Austin, TX

We are heading over to Austin at the end of June for the HOW Design Conference. Be sure to join Jim Hitch, Emma's Agency Relations Manager on Thursday the 25th at 3:45 to learn how email design and strategy can have a significant impact on boosting your company's and/or client's success.

If you are interested in attending the HOW Conference, please remember that you can save $100 by registering here before May 1st.

Happy Arbor Day from Emma!

In honor of National Arbor Day, we decided to send an email campaign to the stylish Emma community highlighting all the trees they've helped us plant through our 5 Trees program. (We plant five trees for every new customer who chooses Emma as their email marketing service.)

Since the program began back in December 2007, we've planted more than 28,000 trees. And we decided to feature thank-you notes from 5 of those trees. Here's an example:

The Ash
Water Ash deciduous, produces medicinal bark, really into early-80s Bowie

"Hello, everybody, it's me, Ash. I just wanted to say thanks. By helping trees, you're supporting our efforts with photosynthesis, converting harmful carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen. But did you know that you're also supporting our efforts with photosynthesizers, converting lifeless keyboard melodies into catchy jazz flute renditions of bossa nova riffs? It's just nice to know you're making a difference."

See how pine, hackberry, apple and cypress trees say thanks, too. The full campaign is online here.

Oh, and Happy Arbor Day!

How surveys helped Lightning 100 add 5,000 email addresses to its list.

The folks at Nashville independent radio station Lightning 100 showcased 32 of Music City's artists on the verge of making it big, and at the same time they highlighted their own indie brand in a success story we just had to share.

Lightning 100's Music City Mayhem promotion
The idea was to get 32 great Nashville-area bands, play their songs on the radio and have their friends and fans register and vote for them on Lightning 100′s website. The promotion was called "Music City Mayhem," which happily coincided with the NCAA "March Madness" basketball tournaments.

By using Emma's signup screens for registering voters and Emma's surveys for counting the votes, Lightning 100 added more than 5,000 email addresses to its database while providing a ton of exposure to the 32 artists who participated, said Brian Waters, the New Media Content Coordinator for Lightning 100 (also known as WRLT-FM, if you happen to work

April Fools, email style.

Last week, we asked our community of Twitter followers to tell us the ways they saw companies using email to play their April Fools jokes. It's always refreshing to see companies injecting personality into their marketing campaigns, and this year's f-f-f-foolin'* was no exception. Here are two we heard about from our Twitter friends:

Scentiments

Scentiments.com email campaign
(click the icon for a close-up)

With this email campaign, the online perfume retailer launched, ahem, Scratch and Sniff technology. When you click through to the landing page, you get the promo code for the discount – GOTCHA09. Even if the technology was fake, at least the discount wasn't a joke.

Thanks to @PrecociousJewel for the tip!

Whole Foods

Whole Foods email campaign
(click the icon for a close-up)

Whole Foods took a more subtle approach in their weekly "Whole Deal" newsletter, featuring one banner ad for "Organic Air" as their Sure Deal of the week alongside regular products and promotions – the "deal" being paying $6.99 for .02 ounces of air. The landing page adds a few more jokes to the mix, including a picture of local penguins lining up for their new Antarctica store.

Kudos to @StephanieKern for letting us know about this one.

And of course, there were a few other popular ones – Gmail's a perennial favorite (thanks, @NDPtweets), and the Guardian fooled a few folks into thinking they were going to be publishing all their news in Twitter format going forward (thanks, @moragbrand). I completely fell for Under Consideration's fake rebranding of Verizon and felt equally as stupid as I did disappointed when I figured out it wasn't real.

What about you? Did you get a particularly clever or convincing April Fools campaign? How do you and your team find ways to add a little personality to your campaigns during the other 364 days of the year?

*Come on. A blog post without a gratuitous Def Leppard reference isn't really a blog post at all, is it?

[tags]email marketing, april fools, myemma.com, scentiments.com, whole foods[/tags]

Give your contacts more control over their email delivery

Thinking about one of our recent posts, Smarter email marketing in a recession, it's a good time to consider how you can get even more personal and timely with your email communication. And what better way to do this than to give your contacts the option of what content they receive and how frequently they receive it.

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Take The Onion, for example. Not only do they allow folks to sign up for their emails, but they're giving them the option of how frequently they'd like to receive emails and in what format: text, video or both. By allowing new subscribers to choose what they receive and when they receive it, The Onion ensures that their messages are exactly what subscribers have asked for.

Now it's time for you to think about what content you're sending and its frequency. Try asking if folks signing up would like to receive emails weekly, monthly or quarterly. And ask what type of information they would like to learn more about. Is it your monthly sale items, seasonal promotions or a weekly update from the company sports team (Go Cougars!)?

You can even add surveys into your mix to gauge your current subscribers' preferences about your emails. By allowing the recipient to choose, you will soon be reaching them on the most personal level: their own terms.

Making the most of surveys and forms (part four)

Part four in a four-part series (read parts one, two, and three)

4. Survey your team
+ Send an employee satisfaction survey
+ Create a company suggestion form
+ Publish a quick staff-wide poll

As you're seeing how email and surveys can help you stay in touch with your customers, don't forget the same tools can help you get to know your employees better, too. A survey helps you gauge employee satisfaction, and you can even collect responses anonymously to protect your staffers' privacy.

You might also send a survey to get employee feedback on simple but meaningful things around the office. If you've got a monthly charitable budget, poll your people to see which non-profit they'd most like to support. Find out which after-hours social destination is most popular. Or send a survey about the all-important break room snack options. The people, they want the Funyuns.