Archive for image76

Forget Your Weight and Focus on A Healthy Business

2012 just came to an end, and the New Year brings the same old question – What is your New Year’s resolution? Let me guess… lose weight? Well have you joined a gym yet? Have you thrown out all your left over holiday cookies and cake? Good news: Don’t!

I am a health nut, so I will be the first to tell you how important it is to take care of your body. BUT weight isn’t the only factor to your health. If you ask me, I’d rather lose a few levels of stress than lose a few pounds! So let’s give ourselves a break this year, take the pressure off our guts and put our energy to good use. Now is the perfect time to reflect on your business’s progress over the past year and plan how you want it to develop. Of course we all want to increase our success, but what about the chance to enjoy the success you’ve achieved a little more?  Here are some resolutions that may help create a more healthy work-life balance and ultimately lead to a more satisfying 2013:

  1. Delegate. With so many important things to do at work, it is easy to convince yourself that you need to do them all. Then you wonder why you are so exhausted at the end of the day. Delegating does not make you lazy; it does not make you demanding. What it does is give you the freedom to pass along some tasks and free your mind and schedule.
  2. Plan and promote your business regularly. If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Take the time to create a marketing plan, set new directions and adjust old goals. A strict plan that consistently endorses your business will keep you focused and relieve stress.
  3. Learn something new. Anything, really! Ideally, it should correlate to your business; but no matter what, learning something new will always add to your skill set. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your business, it will add a new dimension of interest to your life and give you the chance to meet new people. New people can potentially turn into clients!
  4. Network. Whether it’s a business organization tailored to your type of business, a community event or even over the web, making an effort to talk to people will revitalize you and your business. It gives you a chance to make contact, discuss new ideas and refine old ones.
  5. Recharge yourself. This is the best resolution, as you get to plan time to do absolutely nothing! It is important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself. Otherwise, all work and no play will lead to a mental or even physical disaster. If you feel guilty about taking time off, think of it this way: if you won’t invest in yourself, why should others?

No matter what you decide to focus on in 2013, just remember to set realistic goals. If you make an impractical New Year’s resolution, you are only setting yourself up for failure, frustration and disappointment.  Each of these five goals are very reasonable and can be achieved. Start with number one and you will be amazed with how much more time delegating will give you!

Here’s to wishing you a happy, healthy work year! We’ll hit the weights next year!

- Kate Vasvatekis

What is Direct Mail?

For many it’s a life line for their business. For others it’s a source of recycling material. It may seem like junk mail and perhaps most of the time it is. That is until at the very moment you have a need arise and there comes a notification sent via the USPS from a local business that can satisfy your need. How did they know?

For a local business, there are many challenges to putting together a direct mail campaign. One is the Mail List: Are you mailing to current customers? Trying to reach new customers? Lapsed customers? Other?

If it’s a list of existing customers, the most important thing you can do is keep it clean. Your client list is your most powerful tool. Keep an excel spreadsheet with the list, and update it regularly. Know the steps of how to export it when the need arises. Fill in all of the blanks. While those of us in the industry do have tools to improve lists that are sent to us with missing information, there is only so much we can do. Sending a clean and updated list is the best way to ensure that you can keep in touch with your customers.

If you are looking to get new business, you have some thinking to do. What do your customers look like? No, not like that. I mean who are they? What makes them tick? Once you have determined that, you can work with a list provider to procure a list of those in your target audience.

There is a wealth of information available about consumers (meaning you!). As a list provider, I can obtain lists of those with a certain income level, those with a certain amount of assets, those who are dog owners, Ford owners, parents, and many other things. Every time you use your rewards cards at the stores, file your taxes, or register your vehicle, that information is being collected for use in many mediums, including direct mail.

How many kids do you have? How old are they? Or far worse… how old are you? When is your birthday? Are you retired? Do you workout at a gym? You don’t have to tell me. I have the data. Or at least access to it. These are just a few of the things that make you who you are. A demographic. I want to say that fortunately, for the safety of our children, lists that are purchased with data on children require some hoops to jump through, and an approval process.

Is it too much information? Maybe. But then again, it can be a good thing. Close your eyes for moment and picture this…As you are heading to retrieve your mail, you notice that your neighbor Timmy has finally finished cutting your lawn, two days late, and once again he has done a less than stellar job. As you rifle through the mail, you spot a postcard from your professional neighborhood landscaper offering a free first cut. How did they know? You call, they rush right out. You are now armed with a quote to cut your lawn, professionally and on time each week, and you realize that direct mail does work!

- Dan Sawyer

Take a Look at Your (Business) Wardrobe

Take a look in your closet. Most likely it’s full of different types of clothing that coordinate with each other. Shirts, pants, dresses,  shoes and maybe even some jewelry, all meant to complement each other. When we get dressed each day we combine the appropriate pieces that coordinate well and if we’ve done it right, give ourselves a polished, professional look. Whether we are heading into the office, or meeting with a client, it’s important for us to look great and project a certain image. When it’s done right, we feel confident and we are more successful.

It’s the same way with marketing. I’ll bet you have never thought of your business as having a Marketing Wardrobe. But that’s exactly what it is. All the components of your marketing, including your website, your business cards, your social media pages, the postcards or mailers you send out, and even your office space, need to coordinate. It’s great to have a fabulous website, and fabulous full color business cards. But if they aren’t consistent in their design, the message can be lost and leave your business looking sloppy.

Just like building a great clothing wardrobe, it takes time to get your Business Marketing Wardrobe just right. Focus on one piece at a time, and make sure it matches with what you already have. If it doesn’t, change it or get rid of it.

If you have an in house design department, you may already be well on your way to having a great business wardrobe. Most likely the same people have worked on your logo, your business card and brochure design, and your website and social media pages. They are probably already taking the right steps: looking at the other pieces before starting a new marketing project, and making sure that your business is projecting a cohesive and consistent image. It’s like having your own Tommy Hilfiger.

If you don’t have an in house design or marketing department, your business wardrobe may need a little work. Many small businesses decide they need a website, so they hire a web company to develop one. Then they need a business card, so they go to print company for one. Then they want to send out postcards to prospective clients and the mailing company throws something together for them. The business owner, thinking only of the current project, approves it and the project is on its way. However, if a prospective client sits down and looks at all of these pieces, often times the pieces are not cohesive. It’s like you are wearing one purple sock and one orange sock, yellow pants, a blue shirt and green hat. Who wants to do business with that?

The good news is that, just like your regular wardrobe, a business wardrobe is always a work in progress, and one great piece can sometimes bring it all together. With a vision of what you want to look like, and a couple of great pieces, you can look well put together all the time, with little effort.

So I invite you to take a look inside your business’ closet. Do you like the uniform that your business is wearing?

- Nancy Sawyer

Connecting on Social Media

Yesterday I was greeted in my office by a warm smile and great big hand shake. It was my high school graphic arts instructor. My wife, Nancy, had contacted Jack Condon on LinkedIn and secretly arranged the meeting of Jack and myself. This was her birthday gift to me. I hadn’t seen “Mr. Condon” since I had just recently started my printing company.

Jack credits me for saving his job. That’s a much longer story about his first heart attack while teaching and when I, as a student, kept the presses rolling for the school department in his absence. I don’t know if it’s true about saving his job, but I do know that I would not be where I am today if it were not for Jack. Jack was responsible for introducing me to this business and to my first employer in the printing industry.

After catching up on old times and giving Jack the tour of the plant, he had to go and when we parted ways and with another big hand shake, he said “I’m proud of you”. This coming from him somehow validates these years. Catching up was nice and it caused me to reflect on the last 25 plus years of my life. Specifically with regard to where I am now and how far I have come since I’ve known Jack.

I remembered what it was like starting a business, as a kid with absolutely nothing, and fast forwarding through the next twenty five years of my life.

I suppose it was because Nancy found Jack through LinkedIn that I started thinking how twenty five years ago we did not have electronic media and LinkedIn. No email. No Facebook. No Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or the thousands of other social media outlets we have today competing for our time and attention. Twenty five years ago we did not have computers at our disposal that were of any use to our daily lives. If someone said Blog, can you imagine the confused looks they would have gotten?

Today, social media is transforming and touching the lives of almost every one of every age virtually everywhere. It cannot and, dare I say, probably should not be avoided, but rather used sensibly in conjunction with more personal marketing pieces that people can still touch and feel. Yes. Absolutely embrace the present and all of its technology, but don’t let go of the past. Even if I had found and connected with Jack myself through LinkedIn or other social media, nothing beats a solid hand shake and a face to face “Hello!” It’s something so simple, yet it makes this world come back around to a place that is still personal, a little smaller and a little more connected.

- Dan Sawyer

You Can’t Afford Not To

Think you can’t afford a graphic designer? Think again!

Most people assume that hiring a graphic designer is just one more expense they don’t need. They think they just can’t afford to hire a designer in today’s economy. Yet realistically, your business can’t afford NOT to hire a graphic designer. Below are 6 reasons why.

Professional graphic designers…

We’ve all seen (and cringed at) marketing materials that were prepared and printed at home – be it business cards with the rough, perforated edges or brochures that are printed crooked, sloppily folded or seem to have run out of ink on the inside panel. Either way, it’s obvious they were not created by a professional and they leave a bad, lasting impression. People rely heavily on visual elements. A customer instantly forms an impression of your organization, the quality of your business and what it would be like work with you based on your printed materials. A great design adds a level of professionalism and elevates your business’ image to a higher level.

We are constantly bombarded with thousands of advertisements that all vie for our attention. A great design is the best way to ensure that your company is noticed first and foremost. Professional designers know how to manipulate colors, fonts and images to convey an eye-catching design that your customers can relate to, trust, and most importantly, remember.

Sometimes you can be so close to a job or idea that it is hard to accurately convey your message. It can be difficult to see your faults, and/strengths, when you are so involved in your business. A graphic designer can remain objective. They can help you organize your thoughts, illustrate your ideas and successfully communicate your concept.

Some people believe they can do anything with Photoshop. The truth is,  you can do anything with Photoshop… poorly. No single program has all the necessary tools to create a quality product for every type of job. A designer knows what programs to use for what jobs, ensuring the best results every time.

You’re an expert in your business. You know your job and you do it well. Likewise, a graphic designer is an expert in design. They know how to attract your target audience while visually conveying your image, product or service. By turning your ideas into reality, a graphic designer saves you time and leaves you free to do what you enjoy most.

I’ve saved the best for last…

Logically, it makes sense that doing something yourself will save you money. Unfortunately, in the world of printing that sometimes isn’t the case. Do you know everything there is to know about bleeds, traps, kerning, tracking, type-safety, imposition, etc? If no, don’t worry because a graphic designer eats and breathes these things so you don’t have to. Unless you know how to prepare your file precisely the way it needs to be formatted for printing, you may find it costs more to fix than it would to simply hire a designer from the start. Not only can you avoid the hassle of reformatting and the extra art charges incurred to fix the file; but you could have had a professional, result-driven design from the start.

- Kate Vasvatekis

A Well Deserved Vacation

It’s like this every June. With graduation ceremonies, fundraising walks, summer camps starting and the tourist season beginning, business is… well, crazy good. We’re the printers, and it’s our job to make sure all orders get out on time so our customers don’t miss their window for business, miss marking those important milestones or miss that opportunity to raise money for their cause.

We get it. We are the ones who have to make up for time lost by committees delaying projects in the reviewing process. For the great new coworker that was hired, but didn’t know to order the business cards right away. For the late registrants in your fundraising walk who didn’t get their application and requested t-shirt size in the mail in time.

June is always like this. And we always pull it off. We make you look great and make sure you don’t miss your deadlines.

Our dedication runs right through to all of our employees. From Kate driving to Dorchester to deliver last minute graduation invites to a client, to Jeff H staying until 8 PM to be sure all the shirts are printed. From Hank putting in extra hours to insert all the appeal mailings, to Jeff P coming in 5 nights in a row to work a second shift on the offset press. And let’s not forget Christine coming in on her day off for a staff meeting that had to be rescheduled due to client deadlines. Thanks to our amazing employees who always chip in wherever necessary, we can be sure everything gets done for our clients.

It’s now the last day of the month. Whew! And because every June is like this, we take the first week of July off every year. A well-deserved vacation to recharge our batteries and get ready for all the new deadlines we’ll have to meet.

Enjoy your week and the 4th of July Holiday. Image76 will be celebrating right alongside you! See you on July 9th, when we reopen.

- Nancy Sawyer

Going the Extra Mile (or 60…)

The importance of networking, nurturing relationships and following through…

One evening, not so long ago, I was traveling from Cape Cod to Boston for a new studio opening of one of our clients, Callaway Photo, and it was raining… raining buckets… and there was traffic… Boston traffic… enough said.

We had printed new business cards, envelopes, notecards and notepads for this event and were invited to celebrate the accomplishment of our client. I could have turned around. We had shipped most of the job early so she would have plenty of time to inspect and display her new business cards and notepads. The notecards I was bringing wouldn’t be needed for a few more days. They could be shipped. Would I really be missed? Would anyone even show up in this weather?

I didn’t turn around though, and after a stressful hour (or two) I arrived and was glad to have done so. The new studio looked amazing and the turnout was great! It was wonderful to see how many people turned out to support Callaway Photo and recognized the opportunity to network for their own businesses.

Honestly, it was my friendship with Ellen Callaway that drove me to follow through; but it was only to my benefit and the benefit of Image76. I handed out and received a bunch of business cards and had the opportunity to discuss design, marketing and printing with many of Callaway Photo’s colleagues.

I knew making it to the event would strengthen my working relationship with Callaway Photo but I had underestimated the value of networking with potential clients. I met some great people and made some valuable business contacts. With that, and the delicious appetizers from Bakers’ Best Catering and desserts by Sweet Solutions, I happily made the drive home.

- Christine Halunen

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We hope you enjoy the tips, tricks and thoughts of our team here at Image76!

Can a Large Company Have Good Character?

Is it possible to be a large company and have good character? I think so, but it seems to be rare. I’m not sure if it’s the size of the company that matters so much as a commitment from the top down towards quality and excellence.

There have been a few things recently that have me thinking about this. Here is one example and I won’t mention the organization, but when I was trying to mail a letter with my seven year old daughter, we needed a stamp. We drove to a local branch office of the super-mega-I’m-too-big-to-care-about-you-conglomerate and we were evidently one minute too late. I know this because a women in a blue uniform told us, “You’re one minute too late”, while tapping her wrist as if there was a watch there, pulling the door closed and locking it in one motion. I’m thinking she’s done this before. At a minute past closing, we were cut off from buying a single stamp and the excitement of dropping a very special letter into the mystical mail slot and being robbed, at least temporarily, of the joy and wonder of that new experience.

I’m not necessarily saying that it was wrong for them to shut and lock the door in our faces. They have their rules and I respect them. I’m sure they have their reasons for being the way they are. I just can’t imagine doing this myself. Not as a business and not as a person. If it were stamps that I was selling, I would open the doors and take out the whole lot of them. I would lay them out on the table for our customers to take their time to look through and let them pick out the one that is just right for them. And if you know me, you know I’m not exaggerating. My staff would do the same thing and not because I make them or tell them too, but because this is what good, decent people with respect for themselves and others do. As businesses…neighbors… friends… as people. In my world, this is what we do.

Incidentally, there was a very kind elderly woman that dug deep down into her purse to offer up her only stamp so that the dreams of a little girl would live on. This woman made our day and provided a happy ending to a life lesson that I hope will make an imprint on my daughter that she will someday aspire to live up to.

- Dan Sawyer

An Inside Look at Improving Your Education

Expanding Your Knowledge Base

Has your business participated in any events, conferences or training seminars recently?

While some people may have been celebrating their Irish roots on the 17th, Nancy, Christine and I spent the day engulfed in the ever-evolving technical world. Along with hundreds of other women, and even a few brave men, we attended the Geek Girl Cape Cod Conference. We anticipated the day to be a success from the mere fact that we would be engaging with other technically savvy women. Yet more so, we jumped at the chance to learn new skills and become more efficient, both individually and as a company. In today’s competitive economy, we know how important it is to stay current with technology.

The conference accommodated anyone from the “beginner newbie who needs hand-holding on all things computer, to the intermediate self-starter entrepreneur who needs some new tools, to entirely tuned-in code toads”. It was refreshing to see the amount of women, at vastly different career stages, willing and eager to learn. Each person was there to better themselves… to better their companies. I for one was excited to be a part of the day and thankful to be a part of a great business that embraces current trends. But really, how could any company afford not to?

Companies that are reluctant to change and do not value the importance of maintaining business trends can only produce an unmotivated staff with stagnant skills. Keeping employees up-to-date regarding logistical methods, software applications, social media, and strategies to improve efficiency are all necessary in keeping your business competitive. After all, a company is only as good as those running it.

As an employee, I can also attest that training is an excellent way to retain the best workers. People respond positively to the opportunity to improve their job skills, which results in greater job satisfaction, and ultimately more productivity. A well-trained staff with good morale is an enormous asset to any company.

So although we may have missed out on drinking green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, the ladies from Image76 are proud to have been Geek Girls for the day. We walked away from the conference with greater knowledge in our specialized fields, with the encouragement and networking power of countless women, and the assurance that we will never stop improving ourselves. We walked away from the event as a better company.

- Kate Vasvatekis