Storm-Tweeting, and 5 Other Twitterbombs for Small Business to Avoid

Twitterbombs to avoid for small business

As a marketing tool, Twitter has proven to be a real gift for small business. Through an active Twitter account, you can reach customers locally or globally, establish your expertise and leadership in your field, promote your business and brand, drive traffic to your website or link your marketing efforts on and offline… and best of all, it’s FREE! However, certain pitfalls seem specific to the small business owner who is overworked, overscheduled and struggling to take advantage of all the digital revolution can provide. Avoid dropping the following Twitterbombs, most being related to time management, that can derail your social media success:

1: Twitter is my soapbox.

Twitter is a conversation, not a monologue. Well, it can be a monologue but people both online and in daily relationships do not enjoy being preached at and quickly tune out. You have a forum to announce your information, but also a great opening to learn what your potential customers are thinking. You want to encourage people to read your posts AND to respond to them. As in any conversation, the process demands both the ability to listen and a commitment of time (a precious commodity for a small business owner). Which leads to the next point…

2: I don’t have time to talk to everyone.

Answer all Replys and DMs (Direct Messages). Ignoring someone’s comment, or forgetting to thank them for a Retweet, is a sure way to generate ill will on Twitter. Check for DMs regularly and browse the @Connect feed, which will give you a history of Retweets and followers. You can respond briefly when appropriate and thank them for their interest even if you don’t agree with their comment! Oh, and remember to wear a thick skin and take the high road… social media communications can often be brutal.

3: I am not here to follow.

For myself, the most damaging signal I see for a business account on Twitter is when they have a number of Followers, but are themselves following no one. This clearly says “I want no contact, I only want people to listen to me.” Again, Twitter is a conversation, not a one-way forum. Follow potential customers, local buisnesses, experts in your field, everyone who has contact with you! They have valuable information to provide you as well.

4: Storm-Tweeting

This habit really irritates many on Twitter: you don’t have a lot of time, so when you get online you tweet multiple times in a row – sometimes dozens! – then disappear until the next day. The timeline of your followers fills up with you avatar over and over. Irritated and feeling ambushed, your followers will at best not read all of that flurry of information, and at worst, Unfollow you. Often it is a time management problem, and for many the solution is a free dashboard application such as Tweetdeck that allows you to monitor, schedule and manage your tweets and replies on your own time. If you find yourself Storm-tweeting, this may be worth checking out.

5: My account is dead.

The worst. If you build up a following on Twitter, you should commit to using and contributing to it DAILY (you can slide on weekends if you must). If you leave it inactive, you have essentially made a public announcement that your business is, well, sort of dead! You’ve left a Twitter-corpse lying in the public domain. If you abandon your Twitter account, by all means deactivate it.

6: TMI, or “Did you really just say that?”

Up front, you should take some time to decide what voice you want to speak with on Twitter. You can be a completely business-like entity, unlinked to any individual person. You can be a parody account, the voice of your brand or a brand mascot, or a multi-faceted voice of many employees all tweeting under the same name. But whatever you choose, set some guidelines for your approach in terms of what topics to cover and how to handle various interactions. Revealing some personal details or day to day events in your company will interest followers and humanize your brand. If taken too far, this can also work to alienate followers or create an impression that is unprofessional or unpleasant. In other words, while it is not productive for a small business to have a completely robotic, non-human voice on Twitter, it is probably worse to use your brand’s account to announce pet peeves, physical ailments, or “I just ousted @SoandSo as the Mayor of Lolita’s Bar and Grill.” Be aware of the tone and voice you cultivate publicly. And never, ever engage in spats or arguments, no matter how tempting!

If you have been guilty of a few of these, don’t feel bad. There is real social media learning curve for us all and the “rules” are generally in flux as times and technology change. Remember that your Twitter account is a public representation of your self, your company, your brand… have fun and expand your knowledge and contacts as well as seek to gain a solid ROI. If you enjoy the interaction, your followers will as well. Your online presence will be more fully rounded and attractive to your audience, and you will also discover a great deal that you would never have been privy to otherwise. Following people and businesses in your own town and your own field will keep you better informed than any news outlet or nosey neighbor ever could. Being better informed makes you better equipped to effectively market your business.

Follow us! @maryimagesmith (Print, Design, Technology, Sustainability – Asheville & Western North Carolina)


Rely on your printer for advice and direction in design, print and integrated marketing. They should be able to guide you through the latest changes and introduce new technology to help get your message out… if they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Get On Your Mark: Crop Marks, Bleed Marks, Registration Marks Explained

Marks, bleeds, crops, slug

Our prepress department sees a lot of files from a lot of sources. One of the most common confusions over a fairly simple issue concerns the inclusion of crop and bleed marks and defining the bleed and slug areas of a digital print file. While it’s usually an easy fix, you can save yourself time – and additional prepress charges – by working with a clear understanding of what those little marks mean, which to use and how important their position and function can be.

When you produce a pdf file from your page layout or design program such as InDesign in the Adobe Creative Suite, you will see options on how to control the bleed area and marks on your final file. If your file is to be used on a webpage or other digital output, you generally want the file to include no marks or bleed area, naturally. But for printing, either digital or offset, if any graphic elements extend to the edge of the finished piece, you must design them to continue off the “page” and then include an extra border area to accommodate some trim. Presses and digital printers cannot truly print all the way to the edge of a finished sheet reliably over a run; the piece must be printed on larger paper and then trimmed down for a good finished product. Understanding the following terms will make it clear which boxes you need to tic on the “Marks and Bleeds” window when creating your pdf.

Defining bleed and slug areas, registration marks, crop marks

Crop Marks: are small lines offset from the edge of the finished piece that instruct where to cut or trim the final page to a finished size. These will not appear on the finished piece. You definitely need to click these on. There will be some default settings that decide how these marks look… their stroke weight and offset distance. As a general rule, do not change these defaults unless you know a specific reason to do so. Adding crop marks at this stage WILL INCREASE the dimension of your pdf – ie, you have to have extra real estate on which to place the marks. It is helpful to stay aware of the final dimensions of your pdf.

Bleed Marks: They look just like crop marks, but instead of defining the finished cut size, they define the alloted bleed area of the document. The bleed area these marks define is itself part of the printed area. Note that just like adding crop marks, they increase the dimension of your eventual pdf even further, as it now must accommodate both the bleed area and the offset bleed marks. With each set of marks you add, the dimension of the pdf increases.

Registration Marks (and Color Bars): These sit outside the printed area and are used to correlate the different colors or plates used in offset lithography. Every type of printing uses a different, or many different, versions of the registration mark. This alone is a good reason not to add it on yourself when making the pdf. My advice is to not include these marks or color bars unless your print provider prefers that you do. Your service provider will add onto their press sheet the type of mark they need in the location they need it.

Bleed area and crop marks

Bleed Area: the space you define outside the finished edge to hold the printed bleed. When you first set up your document, you can define the bleed area, but again when making the pdf you have the chance to either use or override that original definition. Many printers require at least 1/8 of an inch (.125″) minimum of ink coverage for a suitable bleed, however the defined bleed area itself can be wider. We always ask for 1/2 inch bleed area (not necessarily ink coverage, but area – meaning you do not have to fill this entire .5″ with color or images, these can stop at the 1/8″ minimum). The reason is this will accommodate the necessary bleed, the standard crop marks AND make the pdf size be a nice, easy-to-manipulate number. This can be a great time-saver. For example, a design that has an 8.5″ x 11″ finished size with .5″ bleed on all sides will create a pdf that is 9.5″ x 12″; where if you just let Acrobat put on crop marks and don’t specify a bleed area, it will render a file that is 9.08″ x 11.58″ – just enough to hold the crop marks, and to make your math difficult if you want to impose onto a larger size sheet for printing! Even worse, when creating a small size pdf such as an individual business card, and you add registration marks and page information, the resulting pdf will not only be an irregular size, it will also be off-center as it tries to make extra room at the bottom for the page info. Keep the math simple – add .5″ as a bleed area. It will hold all marks, information, and the bleed with room to spare.

Slug Area: Slug area is EVERYTHING outside the finished edge – this includes the defined bleed area and beyond. Crop marks and bleed area both live within the Slug area. You can define a larger slug area that will include the registration marks, color bars, and any other information you might want the printer to see, but that will be cut off from the finished piece. If you do not define a slug area, Acrobat will simply add on the space needed to hold the marks and instructions you have already specified, or it will use the bleed area you defined as your slug area.


Rely on your printer for advice and direction when creating your files. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

On the Psychology of Marketing: Fear, Anxiety, Profit?

The psychology behind marketing and sales

Whether a flyer for your local restaurant or a million dollar Madison Avenue campaign, marketing succeeds by stimulating triggers in your psychological make-up. “Save money.” “Feel better about yourself.” “Eat.” Often the flashpoint marketers want to reach in order to get you to act is found in your anxiety and fears – fear of being left behind, not being “good” enough, not being a part of what everyone else is doing. Whether this is ultimately good or bad is debatable, but as consumers we should be aware of how and why we spend our money. Caveat emptor. It is also something to consider when you as a marketer of your own business are shaping your brand and business culture. An essential question is do you want to meet the needs of consumers by playing off of their insecurity, anxiety or fear of the future?

The latest crop of television ads, mostly for smartphones or tech gadgets, portray people hopelessly outdated and behind the times because they don’t have constant access to pics or information that happened only seconds before. They sit sadly in the dull past of a few moments ago while their friends gloat and brag about their knowing the latest thing. AT&T’s 4G network bases their new campaign on the slogan “Don’t be left behind” – ine commercial even plays off the punchline: “That’s so 2 seconds ago.” Samsung and others are using the same approach. The fear these companies are targeting is the current, media-fed, universal concern that we are overwhelmed in a sea of quickly changing technological advancements and must struggle to stay on top of the latest trends. It is an impossible task – one that over time we will come to terms with by realizing no one can or should be on top of EVERY tech innovation. But that time has not arrived yet… we have an emotional reaction to each new app, social media site, or tech gadget that we PERCEIVE to have been adopted by all the folks on the cutting edge, therefore meaning we have failed to stay current. We’ve always tried to keep up with the Joneses, but the pace of change has made that more and more difficult.

Now the flip side of this argument is that these companies are offering you the chance to make your life easier, to stay current – rather than putting you down for not having their timesaving invention they are offering you the chance to join their team, to be part of the in-crowd. Yet the tool being used to push your emotional buttons and incite you to action is an assault on your sense of security, an attempt to speak to your fear of being left behind.

You can see this tactic throughout advertising – sometimes subtely but frequently in an unapologetic effort to make consumers feel less than whole. Are you young enough, pretty enough, thin enough? Do you dress well, have fresh breath, a clear complexion? Don’t be overweight, bald, depressed, tired, hungry, uneducated, out of touch, out of fashion. Compare yourself to these young, rich, sexy, carefree, overachieving images – feel inferior, and then react by consuming.

Not all advertising works through this channel. Marketing can appeal to the more noble aspects of the consumer and can be the basis for providing people with information they need to improve their lives, health, and self concept. Truly believing in your product or service is a great home base for starting your marketing message. A great example of a well-known campaigns that begins with this starting point is L’Oreal – “because you’re worth it,” currently celebrating its 40th year. Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty campaign featuring “non-traditional” or more full figured models and sought to reach women by encouraging their self esteem rather than playing to their insecurities. The first few years saw an increase in sales, but eventually the campaign tanked and critics noted Dove did not stay true to it’s insistence on the “realness” of beauty! Note that self-esteem seems to be an enemy of cosmetic and beauty supply sales!

Much marketing seeks to meet the very real needs of consumers with an appeal to logic and financial sense rather than an emotional appeal. Whenever a store offers a coupon, sale or merchandising discount, they are offering a benefit to the consumer which will save them money. It is an encouragement to make a rational decision in your own best interest which also benefits the seller. In a competitive marketplace however, marketers have learned the power a psychological approach.

The psychological component of successful marketing is a rich and interesting field. As you seek to market your own business, service or online venture, give yourself the time to consider the “voice” of your brand, the conversation you will be having with your public. Playing to fear and anxiety has proven a successful marketing strategy, but it is also not the only successful one. Many times humor is used to let us laugh at ourselves rather than feel criticized. It is essential that you be aware of the voice you give your brand. Something to consider!


Rely on your printer for advice and direction in shaping your brand and bringing it to life. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement all the way to the complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.