5 Ways to Care for Our Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Asheville Skyline Working Together to face COVID-19

Here in Asheville and around the nation, we are still in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to understand its impact on our community. Times are stressful to say the least. One of the best ways to alleviate anxiety during uncertain times is to look for ways to be of help and service to others. Many people and businesses in our local community will be heavily impacted by this disease in the weeks to come – here are 5 quick ideas how we can all easily help out right now:

BUY LOCAL – more than ever, community businesses and their employees will need our support to stay open. Shop local, and consider buying gift cards for later use from your favorite shops.

ORDER TAKE OUT – local restuarants have been hit first and hardest in this new world of “social distancing.” If you want to help your favorites and their employees, order take out and let them know you’re on their side.

CHECK ON YOUR NEIGHBOR – the elderly and others at high risk are espcially vulnerable now. Offer to do shopping or run errands for those you know who may fear being in public.

Severe Blood ShortageBE GENEROUS – donate to food banks, churches, animal shelters, or your favorite charity. The needs they work to meet are more critical now than ever. Donating blood is also safe and urgently needed.

POST POSITIVE – we are all inundated with frightening facts and negative speculation about the future. Help others to remember that we will get through this together – your words online can be just what someone else needs to feel stronger!

Of course, follow all the advice from the CDC and your health professionals about how to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during this time. The official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website is here. For an easy recap, the White House and CDC have released official Coronavirus Guidelines for America as of March 18, 2020, which you can see below.

Official Coronavirus Guidelines for America

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication, design, and teamwork. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

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

What the Success of Snapchat Means for Marketers

 

Snapchat

Content is king. It’s a phrase so overused that you may have nixed it from your digital marketing vocabulary completely. With hundreds of social media platforms sharing content at breakneck speed all over the world, how small business marketers continue to evolve and stand head and shoulders above all the chatter? The answer is content, but not just any content. Consumers are savvier, smarter and have higher expectations than ever. The content that will get you a gold crown has to be relentlessly consistent and inherently personal. If you have any doubt, look at how Snapchat has changed the face of social media with over 100 million active users and 7 billion daily video views.

Behind the Scenes Is Where It’s At

Brand consistency gets a lot of hype, and for good reason. Your audience has to feel like they can rely on the brand they love and trust. But in a fast food, first-come first-served, fight-for-your-right-to-party kind of world, consumers are now looking for more than a Coke and a smile. They want to see a brand evolve. They want to see behind the scenes. In fact, they expect it.

Snapchat is used by the masses, but it’s also used by the White House, professional sports teams, Amazon and CNN, all showing a more informal, humor-driven side. This adds dimension and relatability, which engages audiences on another level. Unlike the beautiful and professional images of Instagram and the carefully curated Facebook content planned out in advance on Hootsuite, Snapchat is instant, impermanent and truly of the moment. It’s also proof that consumers are interested in unpolished, real-life appeals.

Make It Easy and Make It Personal

Snapchat is the first social media platform to give users their own QR code as an inherent part of the user profile. While many businesses have used QR codes to drive traffic to a social media platform, website or microsite, Snapchat puts the focus on the user by giving them a code they can use to gain followers and connect with new friends. Both Elle Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar have changed their Twitter profile pictures to their Snapchat QR codes. All their followers have to do to follow them on Snap is take a screenshot of their profile picture, open Snapchat, go to add friends, tap add by Snapcode and select the screenshot. Easy, fast and no typing required.

Always Be Pushing Content

If there’s one thing to take away from the Snapchat revolution is that it’s OK to get real with your target audience. The fact of the matter is that perfectly polished content takes time and money, both of which are going into the pockets of your competitors while you’re perfecting every Instagram post and analyzing all 140 Twitter characters.

Get a cellphone with an impressive camera, like the HTC One M9, so you’re always ready to capture the moment. Get a cheap, phone-friendly tripod or camera stabilization equipment made specifically for shooting video on your cellphone for less than $30. Just don’t forget that it doesn’t have to be perfect, edited or directly related to your product to hit home with your audience. Just give them a warm and fuzzy feeling when they think about your brand.

We understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. 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.com or call us at 828-684-4512 for quotes on all your print and marketing projects.

5 Bright Ideas to Inspire Your Creativity

 

Scientist in lab with paper airplanes

Creative thinking is a valuable skill in any line of work. Inevitably we all have days where that creative spirit seems to be missing, or we fall into work habits that ignore the benefits and fun we experience in exploring our creative thoughts. Here are five ideas to boost and foster creative thinking and problem-solving.

Play More

Navy pilot with paper airplanePlay isn’t just for kids. According to The Leadership Guy, Peter Economy, writing for Inc., creative people revisit their inner child on daily basis, finding opportunities to play both at home and at work. A variety of research studies have shown that play has a large impact on the way we think and work creatively. One body of research dates back to 1967. In this study participants were given the task to imagine multiple uses for one object. Results showed that the participants were more likely to come up with more ideas if they were first allowed to tinker or play with the object first. For graphic designers, the process of doodling – playing around freely with ideas –  often frees the mind to wander and begin exploring the options that form the basis of a great design. If you’re looking to spark creativity, take some time to play first. And if you want to keep the creative juices flowing, you must promote and accept play as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Daydream

Clouds in a blue skyTake time from your day to let your mind wander. This act can significantly impact your creative thinking. According to Inc., research shows daydreaming can bring out the best in our creative selves, as it stimulates connections in our brains and allows us to consider ideas we may not have initially considered. Additionally, allowing your mind to wander enhances your ability to problem solve, reports Psychology Today. A study from 2009 out of the University of British Columbia found that daydreaming can help solve problems. Creativity itself is often defined as, at its core, a process of solving problems. Taking the time to relax and let your mind wander is a healthy habit, but far too often is characterized as an impediment to production. On the contrary, it can restore and re-energize.

Travel Often

Suitcase with worldwide travel stickersExperts say that if you want a more creative brain, the answer can be found in traveling more often. Experiencing the world can open the mind to new ways of thinking, reports The Atlantic. Both psychologists and neuroscientists believe that traveling can affect a mental change, changing and revitalizing the way our brains are wired, opening up our minds and allowing us to think creatively. All of this comes from sights, sounds, even smells of the places we travel, which spark different synapses in our brains. Whether you take up residence in Washington D.C. or travel across the globe, you’re likely to come back more creative than ever before.

Take up a Hobby

Painting on a canvasWhile work is important, it’s equally important to have a hobby or activity that you’re fond of outside of the office. Whether you prefer painting on canvas, posting a blog or cooking in the kitchen, having a way to express your creative side through a hobby or side project can impact your everyday creativity. Fast Company reports that having a hobby can make us better at many aspects of our lives. Still skeptical? When Google began its 20 percent rule, which allowed employees to spend 20 percent of their time exploring creative side projects, they were surprised to see an 80 percent increase in both productivity and creativity at work.

Be a Risk Taker

pair of dice showing 7Being creative and taking risks go hand-in-hand, as most creative thinkers are big, big risk takers. To envision a product, bring the product to life and then put it out there for the world to see is quite risky. But the rewards are plentiful. Imagine, where would we be if nobody ever took a risk?

 

Also – be sure to regularly take time to check out the creativity of others. In every field, people are continually pushing the boundaries in unique ways. Admiring what others have created will often nurture your own creative spirit with new ideas and excitement.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeap.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Making the Most of Your First Trade Show: 5 Essential Tips for Success

Trade Show Image

 

One out of every two trade show attendees is planning to buy at least one product exhibited as a result of attending trade shows, according to Exhibit Surveys. Attending a trade show can connect you with eager buyers, give your business a boost and turn your product into a household name. But finding the right trade show and earning success takes careful planning and a winning strategy.

Find the right trade show

Going to the trade show as an attendee is the fastest and most insightful way to figure out if the show is right for you. It’s not enough to simply book a trade show and arrive with your booth and supplies in hand. The ultimate goal is to raise brand awareness and nail the sale, but not every trade show is created equal. Showing up with a complex, high-end kitchen gadget to a trade show exhibiting economical and simple dinner tools will only lead to failure and make you stick out like a sore thumb.

Use an online resource like Trade Show News Network to narrow down your trade show options. Look for your target audience, as well as the cost of the show. Forking over several thousand dollars for a deposit for a trade show that just doesn’t fit your product or goals is a waste of everyone’s time and your money. A trade show also can’t give you much return if you’re going into the red to pay for the event. Set aside some extra money in advance to pay for marketing your booth and travel expenses.

Take networking to a new level

It’s a no-brainer to talk to as many people as possible at your trade show and carry extra business cards with you at all times. But there are other ways to network than just chatting up a prospective buyer. Take advantage of a captive audience and use this as an opportunity to meet as many new people as you can. Follow the lead of o-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber, who attended the MedTech World’s Medical Device & Manufacturing West Expo earlier this year. They sourced an entire list of exhibitors before heading to the show’s host city in Anaheim to see who was coming and what ideas to share, as well as downloaded the trade show’s app to keep up to date with news and events from the show.

Apple Rubber also took advantage of the first annual Anaheim Booth Crawl for attendees, which served as a great opportunity to meet exhibitors while enjoying free food and drink. The event gave attendees an excuse to mingle longer without skipping out to eat and helped break the ice.

Trade show pop up booths and equipmdent

Make the Right Visual Impact for Your Brand

Trade show booths, graphics, displays and materials have never been more affordable or easier to brand with your logo, colors, and message. Talk to your printer about the huge array of designs and styles in easy to carry or ship, set up and reuse trade show booths and hardware. From pop-up display systems and retractable banners to table cloths, signage, printwear for employees, collateral handouts and promotional items, make your booth stand out from the crowd with you own unified look.

Devour constructive criticism

Learning how to embrace constructive criticism as a means to refine your product is essential for any trade show attendee, but especially for a first timer. Retail buyers and sales reps know what sells and why. This feedback can provide valuable insight about your product you won’t get anywhere else. A good trade show will draw in hundreds or thousands of experienced industry insiders. Rebuking their advice is a missed opportunity to devour high-level feedback and compile more market research data.

Nail your pitch

Master your elevator pitch. Highlight your product’s benefits, features and a short and sweet explanation of how it works. But to really stand-out from the crowd, you need to wow the attendees with what your product can do to solve their problem.

AquaPodKit experienced this first hand at a recent trade show. Entrepreneur reports that AquaPodKit saw their booth failing to attract attention at a hurricane preparedness trade show, so they went to buy a bathtub at Home Depot, put their product in it and filled it with water to show how much it could really hold for a family of four. Soon attendees were lined up to get a closer look at exactly what AquaPodKit could do.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

NCOALink and CASS Processing: Get Your Data Back After Each Direct Mailing

Man receiving mail

Direct mail marketing works. It is a powerful driver of sales and success for businesses large and small. Yet because postal rules are confusing and the procedures are time consuming to follow, we normally pay a professional – often our printer – to handle all those mail headaches. What we overlook is the very important step of getting our “corrected” mail list back from the service provider! Your data, in order to qualify for bulk mail discounts, has been “corrected” – improved, standardized, updated – complete with additional reports on the remaining faulty addresses. After each mailing, you will want to reintegrate this corrected data into your database – otherwise you continue to pay for postage and printing that never reaches your target.

Some Eye-Opening Stats on UAA Mail

UAA: Undeliverable As Addressed – for mailers, this equates to throwing money down the drain. Mail lists generally contain many errors and misinformation that make an address undeliverable – typos, nonstandard abbreviations, redundant and incomplete address information, data entered into the wrong fields, even just plain incorrect delivery addresses. Also, people and businesses frequently move, leaving mailers with out of date contact info. Consider the following stats:

  • As much as 25% of your database will deteriorate after one year, according to HubSpot. People move, change email addresses, change jobs….and if you are still trying to reach them with the old contact information in your database, you are wasting money.
  • In 2013, 6.8 billion mailpieces (or 4.3% of those processed by the USPS) were deemed UAA. (source: Mailing Systems Techonology)
  • UAA mail costs direct mail marketers over $6 billion each year. (source: Mailing Systems Techonology)

The Easy Fix… and You’ve Already Paid For It!

When you pay your service provider to mail your marketing pieces, you are paying them to check and correct your data against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database, and – as far as is possible – to standardize and “fix” any errors in the addresses. In order to receive discounted bulk mail rates, this must be done and certified within 180 days of the mail date (90 days for Carrier Route discounts). The USPS doesn’t want undeliverable mail in their system any more than you want to pay for postage that yields no return.

Sample of Corrected AddressIf you do not receive your “corrected” data back from your service provider after all this work, your database retains all the original errors and the process gets repeated on your next mailing – only now the addresses are older and more likely to have already been dropped from the NCOA resource. With each repetition, more addresses “deteriorate” and become UAA, costing you more money and a decreased response rate. Why pay for this mail list “cleaning” and they toss it away after one use?

NCOAlink and CASS processing will standardize all abbreviations, misspellings and update any registered Change of Address moves on file with the USPS. For the addresses still identified as UAA, NCOA processing will provide reports detailing the reason each address was rejected, as well as a listing of all changes that were made. You can use this information to research and correct your UAA entries, or just delete them entirely. The key is to reintegrate the newly corrected data back into your system.

 

What happens to the database you hand your mailer?

Below is some more general information about the details of NCOA processing. This is the part most of us are glad to pay someone else to handle.

Your data, when creating a VDP or variable data printed mailing, may include many fields of information in addition to those necessary for mailing: age, email, income brackets, customer numbers, amounts due, subscription information, and on and on. That data – necessary for the VDP mailpiece – travels along untouched with your mail list during NCOALink certification. In order to receive discounted bulk mail rates, your mailer processes your data through NCOALink (which includes CASS, DPV, LACSLink, and SuiteLink).

National Change of Address (NCOALink) is the database of everyone in the US who has filed a Change of Address with the US postal service. Access to it is licensed to service providers and made available to mailers so they can keep up with individuals and companies at their permanent addresses. If your best customer moved from New York to Los Angeles, this is how you stay in touch with them without interruption. The NCOALink process also includes:

USPS CASS Report Form 3553CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) processing will correct and standardize addresses. It will also add missing address information, such as ZIP codes, cities, and states to ensure the address is complete. Starting with 2007 Cycle L, CASS software will also perform delivery point validation to verify whether or not an address is a deliverable address and check against the USPS Locatable Address Conversion System to update addresses that have been renamed or renumbered. Also, Error codes are offered to help you understand what might be missing or incorrect with your addresses that do not + 4 code.

DSF2 processing relays delivery point information received from mail carriers. It includes DPV® (Delivery Point Validation), LACSLink® (Locatable Address Conversion System), and SuiteLink® processing.  Together, these identify vacant, residential, business or seasonal address information, increasing the deliverability of your mailpieces and allowing mailers to more accurately target who receives a mailpiece.

Your service provider will be happy to return your NCOALink and CASS certified mail list to you as either a DBF or Excel compatible text file for reintegration into your database. Many of the newly created fields in your data are necessary for USPS processing and Intelligent Mail Barcode creation – these can be deleted by you without any problem, or you can request that your service provider return to you a file with only the fields you originally exported in your mail list.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Turn to Your Printer for Multimedia Marketing Support

Embroidery, wide format printing, and more

 

Printing businesses have expanded their services far beyond just printing on paper. Product lines include design services, integrated marketing and direct mail, promotional products and the production of marketing materials as diverse as wide format signage and embroidered or screen printed clothing. In other words, your printer is now your marketing specialist.

Printers Deliver Customer-Friendly Online Tools

Original Apple Computer Co. logoDigital technology arrived early in the print world with desktop publishing, photo editing, and graphics technology revolutionizing the business throughout the ’80s and ’90s. Back in the early days of email, printers were among the first to seize upon that technology to deliver goods (in this case, printing proofs) to customers as soon as they were available. No more driving downtown, finding parking, and hoping the client was available to look over proofs so the job could go ahead.

Clients, too, loved the new email services. So it was no surprise that once the web took off, printers quickly created websites to serve their customers even more quickly. Now they can upload files to print, preview them and place the order. By 2007, an industry report from First Research predicted that by 2010, 30 percent of all print jobs would have to be completed within a day. Short run, digital printing now fills that demand.

Today, printers offer online tools to help customers create and order their own marketing. Many offer professional design services or templates customers can use to create their projects. Customers can review the designs, approve and send them to production right away — all in a single online visit. (They can also save their work for later review.) Local printers will deliver the goods directly to the doorstep or business office, as well as providing technical and marketing advice for planning an overall marketing strategy for businesses both large and small. According to the Xerox blog, printers whose businesses grew by 10 percent or more in 2013 attributed some of it to web-based services.

Eco-Friendly Printing Pays

Printers have embraced green technology and sustainable business practices. The print industry has long been a leader in recycling and sustainable business practices. Soy ink (long a requirement for many federal government contract bids), water solvent inks, and the use of paper products endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and other agencies give customers the satisfaction of knowing their print marketing is eco-friendly. Many customers choose to brand their print with this commitment to environmental stewardship as a part of their marketing outreach. In turn they can promote their good corporate citizenship through social media on outlets like LinkedIn, a leading site for business marketing and information. LinkedIn is a great place to post important business news and updates for clients and your industry, as exemplified by LifeLock.

More Products Than Ever Can Be Print-Personalized

It used to be that printing T-shirts was an expensive undertaking that required a minimum number of shirts to print. Digital technology makes it possible to affordably print even a single T-shirt. While the technology may not quite be the same quality as a silk-screened shirt, it’s pretty darn close and with proper laundering, digitally printed images can last nearly as long as a silk screen.

Custom EmbroideryEmbroidery is a great way to create custom branded clothing, uniforms, hats, bags, and many other items that will put your name and logo directly into people’s lives. Outfit your staff with branded print wear, or create items to sell or even give away to clients. They will become your own team of mobile advertising!

Mugs and other personal gift items are also fair game for personalization thanks to sublimation dye printing, a great way full service printers have diversified their printing businesses, says the industry news site MyPrintResource.com. A sublimation printer can print on anything made from a polymer base or polyester, which covers a lot of ground from Christmas ornaments to sports equipment to phone cases. The selection is huge, and you can browse an online catalog to find exactly the right promotional product to brand for your unique marketing plan.

Graphic Display BannersWide-format printing creates posters, banners, POP displays, bus signs, indoor and outdoor signage, trade show booths, and other large printed material.  Your printer will help you design and customize these items with your own logo, colors, photography and graphics for exactly the impact you want. Xerox predicts wide format printing will grow 65 percent each year through 2017.

Years of experience also empower a full service printer to advise you on ideas that work and that meet your individual budget. Best of all – this marketing expertise is yours FREE OF CHARGE! Where else can you find that kind of deal? If you have the right printer, you already have a highly trained marketing consultant who knows print, branding, direct mail, web strategies, social media and has years of experience in both high and low tech marketing approaches that work for businesses just like yours. The most assuring part of this partnership for you is that the print/communications company only succeeds when your marketing succeeds! Start taking advantage of this asset – the print industry itself has had to reinvent itself in this new high tech economy. They know what works. Meet with a printer today to find one who can offer you the full range of marketing options that today’s competitive and creative markets demand.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Event Marketing for Small Business Owners

Bullhorn announcing Event

There are millions of small businesses competing against each other with websites, advertisements and marketing campaigns vying for the attention of consumers. It is difficult to stand out from the crowd in such an environment, but event marketing puts your brand right in front of consumers in a way that other forms of marketing can’t.

Events are a tried and true method of marketing, and lots of businesses large and small use them to engage potential customers. Live Marketing reports that companies spend $24 billion on exhibiting at events every year. Here’s a look at some of the tenets to help you take advantage of the vast opportunities available to you in event marketing:

Host Events

The quickest way to have people notice you is to invite them over. Hosting an event gives you a chance to market your product to consumers while networking with other businesses. As a small business owner, your event may not be a huge convention, but this gives your brand a chance to stand center stage and make a big impression.

Think about what kind of event is right for your business. If you run a bookstore, host an event where your staff reads books to children. Or, if you run a print shop, host an educational event for other small business owners about creating marketing material. Be sure to brand your event with custom signage displaying your logo, colors, and message. Items such as pop-up banner stands and wide-format posters are affordable, portable and can be reused for other marketing opportunities.

Trade Information

Whether you host an event or attend one, be sure to put your contact information into the hands of anyone who seems interested. You can do this by creating an email sign-up sheet or by offering incentives for people who visit your site and log in right then and there at the event. Also stock your event with flyers, brochures and any other print collateral and work to put it into the hands of your event visitors. Your primary goal should be to get as much information from potential consumers as possible as well as giving them the tools to research your business after the event is over.

Asheville Area B2B Trade Show Event, 2015
Asheville Area B2B Small Business Expo

Document Everything

We live in a media-centric world, and if you don’t take pictures, it may as well not have happened. Additionally, social media gives you a chronology of people who interacted with your brand that you can broadcast to engage your followers and drive business. Playing photographer and social media guru can be a challenge, but with an up-to-date smartphone like the HTC One M9, you can handle all that and more from the palm of your hand. Take pictures of yourself and your customers, and share them on social media to link yourself to the community around you.  Include print and promotional products with QR codes to help drive traffic to your online marketing – it’s all about using every opportunity to take advantage of multichannel marketing.

Give It Away

Branded trade show promotional products
Branded promotional products as giveaways put your name in your prospects hands.

Promotional items are a cross between gift and marketing material, and they are always a hit at events. Convention-goers often get excited about all the free swag they can receive, and you can leverage this to get the crowd to advertise for you. By giving away small promotional items, such as keychains, T-shirts and hats, you can make potential customers happy and have them advertising for you wherever they go. Furthermore, promotional items drive business — Epromos reports that 85 percent of consumers do business with a company after receiving a free promotional item.

Publicize

Heading to an event won’t help you if no one knows you are there. This means you need to get the word out. Post on your website about the event and take to social media to let your followers know where you will be. Reach out to bloggers in your industry and local news outlets to let them know about the event and your role in it, so you can get some press before the event even begins.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Color, Balance and Emphasis: An Infographic on How Graphics Work

Any size business can take advantage of custom infographics to better communicate and attract interest. Any process or idea you would like to explain to potential customers can be illustrated with eye-catching graphics. Talk to your printer about creating your own custom infographics for your blog, website, signage or print collateral and you’ll get excited about the potential and creativity of illustrating your business.

Infographic on how Graphics work

This infographic was provided courtesy of Bigstock Photo.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

 

Creative Backdrops for Your At-Home Photography Studio

Creative backdrops for at-home photography studio

Operating an at-home photography business or taking photos to use in your graphic design work can be convenient, efficient and enjoyable. It also can be expensive. If you can be as creative with do-it-yourself projects as you are with your camera, you will find that you can afford and create several creative and eye-catching backdrops in your own home.

Get the Foundation Right

If you are new to the at-home photography business, there are a few steps you should follow. First, dedicate a room that has plenty of space to be your studio. Make sure it has good lighting and a neutral color on the walls. Any greens, reds or blues will kill your color balance, so stick to whites or grays. You also might want to lay down a tarp to avoid any colors bouncing off from the floor.

Once you have the room set up, install a backdrop holder. Using a half-inch galvanized pipe, plates and some conduit, you can screw in a backdrop holder either onto the wall or from the ceiling.

Now, you can begin making backdrops. Amazon offers basic backdrops for as much as $40. However, consider adding colorful, elegant drapes to the windows to give off a homey feeling. Custom drapes can be found online from retailers like The Shade Store.

Use Chicken Wire

Chicken wire is a fun, creative tool that you can use over and over again. To make a custom heart background, you’ll need:

  • Staple gun
  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Spray paint
  • 3 pieces of one-inch by two-inch wood, six feet in length
  • Color material to create your effect.

Then, red napkins can be stuffed into the chicken wire to make a heart shape. With the chicken wire frame up, plot the points of your heart with napkins, and make the outline. Then you only need to fill in the outline.

Use Strings

This tasty idea can give you a 3-D effect by using stringed marshmallows. If you hang strings of marshmallows from the ceiling, it will give your backdrop a snowing effect. If you don’t have marshmallows, cotton balls or Christmas tree bulbs can be used instead.

Colorful yarn also can be an interesting tool. You can mix and match colors that can blend with your object or be in contrast to it. The yarn needs only to hang from your backdrop frame. However you choose to make it, you have a variety of colors and patterns to choose from, and the only thing you need is yarn, scissors and a creative mind.

Find Miscellaneous Items

Believe it or not, you may have the ultimate backdrop material already in your home. Here are just a few examples:

  • Using your neutral-colored wall, you can use colored tissue paper from your gift-wrapping arsenal to create a paper flower backdrop. The DIY website Lovely Indeed demonstrates how to make the flowers step by step.
  • If making paper flowers is too time-consuming, then book pages might be easier. Strategically place book pages onto a canvas to give your backdrop a unique, elegant and fun look.
  • Or, if you’re in a pinch, line blown-up balloons together to bring out some color in your shots. These can be really versatile because there are so many kinds, colors and sizes, giving you an infinite number of ways to set them up.
  • Finally, keep it simple by using gift-wrapping paper. This is easy to use, inexpensive and full of unique patterns. This is especially great for baby photos. And, all you need is some tape and scissors before your backdrop is ready to go.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Decking Out Your New Office Space

Steaming Coffee Cup in an Office

 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 543,000 new businesses started every month. A vast majority of these are single-employee ventures. But there are also those that christen a new office space and prepare to fill it with all the necessary people and equipment to turn a profit.

Those echoes you hear in that empty office are the sounds of opportunity. Now it’s just a matter finding the right furnishings and tools to create the type of work environment that breeds long-term success. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money doing so.

Government Liquidation

One of the best-kept of secrets of the corporate world is the Government Liquidation (GL) website. It is the official auction and sales hub for surplus and used assets the Pentagon either no longer needs or has too much of. GL houses this equipment in several warehouses on various military bases in the U.S.

New business owners with empty office space can purchase, among other things, computers, desks, cubicles, chairs and printers in bulk at a fraction of the price they’d pay a retailer. Simply register your company with the website and it instantly gives you access to its entire inventory. One caveat is that you may have to pick the items up yourself from a warehouse that is far away from your office. You may also want to find someone in the area to inspect the equipment before purchasing.

Network and Software

The first matter of business to address with your computer network is the choice of an in-house server or cloud-based services. The previous gives you complete control of your data and network because the server is physically on the premises. They are also very expensive and will require you to cool the room so the system doesn’t overheat. Scalability, lower costs and easy set-up are the advantages of the cloud.

There is no right or wrong direction to go. But a 2013 study by Colmar Brunton, an international marketing agency based in Australia, found that only 16 percent of small business used cloud services. The study also found the businesses that do embrace the cloud were 106 percent more likely to see revenue increases from 2012 to 2013.

Finally review different software for pipeline management and sales forecasting. Again, this will ultimately come down to personal preference. Read objective reviews of all software you may be considering and ask other business managers what they use for suggestions.

Floor Graphics, Wide Format Print

Brand Your Workspace

Especially if your office or workspace is also a retail environment or reception area for customers, you will want to brand your work area with your own color scheme and imagery. With wide format graphics, banners, and removable murals for walls, windows and flooring, the cost of creating a unique, branded workspace is within every budget. These products are removable, repositionable, durable and fade resistant. You can inspire your staff or clientele with a visually stunning workspace with just a few well-chosen and affordable graphics.

Amenities

Some office buildings have cafeterias with cooks who make fresh food for employees. That option can be expensive, so the alternative is vending machines. Aramark and Vending Solutions are two of the more common names for soda and snack machines. Health-conscious business owners can check out HealthyVending.com and FreshVending.com for machines stocked with fruits, smoothies and other things that do the body good.

 

Strive to buy your print locally! A community printer will understand communication and design, with a special emphasis on your local market. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.