Get More Productive: Celebrate International Day of Forests

green, leafy office plantThere are so many benefits to having forests and trees not only in our rural areas, but in our cities as well.

  1. Forests and trees store carbon, which helps lower the impact of climate change.
  2. Trees help improve the local climate by removing harmful pollutants and providing shade.
  3. Trees reduce noise pollution.
  4. Forests help filter and regulate water.
  5. Studies show that just being around plants can improve your mood and concentration.

Want to know more about International Day of Forests?

So why do we care about this day and why should you care as a company?

If just being around plants can improve your mood and concentration, why wouldn’t we want out employees to enjoy these benefits? Engaged employees increase productivity. This year for International Day of Forests, we will be giving each employee their very own office plant and we will have our lunch outdoors!

Check out this article for how and why to incorporate plants into your office and home:

What are your plans? You could win that Money Plant in the photo.

Post pictures of your favorite forest areas to social media, use the hashtag #IDOF_APIM, 
and tag us! Drawing will be done 03/22/18, submission must be made on or before 03/21/18.

The 5 Stages of Awareness that can make or break your campaign

People don’t buy products, they buy a better version of themselves.

A better parent, a better friend, a better marketer, a better business owner…Think about it; you might buy a seat for a webinar, on how to increase your profits using social media, because you want to be a business owner or marketer with a more profitable business.

It’s so obvious that it can sometimes be hard to figure out the next step in your marketing plan to reach the people that want or need what you are selling in order for them to feel fulfilled. Sometimes you just have to talk to somebody who has been there before. That’s what we sent our designer/marketer-in-the-making out to do. She found a great resource in Talia Wolf’s messages about reaching people where they are in the stages of awareness. The whole time she was reading or listening to the webinars, she realized that she was also in a sales funnel—Talia’s sales funnel. And she was OK with that because what she was getting out of the experience made her want to go all the way to the end. She recommends that you, the reader, check this person out here: and you will not be disappointed.

Before we go further, let’s examine the difference between marketing and sales.

They go hand in hand and cannot survive without each other. What makes them different is the order in which they are used, and how they are used. The marketing department’s job is to do the research, plan product launches and campaigns, and provide collateral for the sales people. The sales department needs to get educated by the marketing department on what they are selling, get familiar with it, and then go out and well…solve problems! Both departments have a role in the typical sales process.

There are 5 stages of client awareness during the sales process and it is up to marketers and their sales people to nudge potential clients through the stages. The end goal is to solve the person or company’s pain. Don’t sell to them, solve their pain.

cool fox shows the 5 stages of awareness5 stages of awareness:

  1. Unaware. These people don’t know they have a pain that needs solving quite yet, but they ARE going through the pain. They need to be shown that there is pain and that they have it.
  2. Pain Aware. These people know they have a pain. Let them see that you know and understand their pain. This is where you can show them some DIY solutions and push them to Solution Aware. Don’t show your products yet; you are still letting them get to know you.
  3. Solution Aware. They know there are solutions, services, platforms that can solve their pain but don’t know what is right for their particular circumstances. Talk about different solutions and how your solution solves their pain. Do NOT talk about features of your product yet. Focus on solving pain first. Pushes them into the product aware phase.
  4. Product Aware. They know you, your competitors, etc., and are just not convinced you are the right one. Now you can talk feature, services, prices, etc. You’ve already shown them that they have a pain, you understand their pain, there are solutions and yours is one, now show them how yours is better than the other solutions. It’s important that you wait until this stage to do this. Skipping the other steps is a good way to lose people. You have go to hold their hand a little so they know that you care about solving their pain.
  5. Most aware. People decide to convert but they need a buy button, a call to action. If you did a good job on the other 4 steps, you get the opportunity to make a difference in their professional or personal lives. If you have failed to make your case in the other 4 steps, you will lose them here.

Continue reading The 5 Stages of Awareness that can make or break your campaign

3 Million chances to convert with direct mail

In 2017, almost 3 million pieces of direct mail passed through our building. That’s a lot of mail! Among them were catalogs, oversized postcards, standard mail, letter sets, etc. That’s three million chances for businesses to get their potential clients to take action. How well will it work? Let’s take a look.

As a business owner, you may have heard that direct mail made a comeback after the recession slump. Well, it never really left as a viable option; the recession just reduced the competition!

direct mail has much higher response rates than other marketing channelsDirect mail is doing well today with or without recovery. Check out these stats from the Data and Marketing Association Response Report that we gleaned from Compu-Mail:

  1. Direct mail household response rate is 5.1% (compared to .6% email, .6% paid search, .2 online display, .4% social media). This is the highest response rate the DMA has ever reported, since coming out with the Response Rate Report in 2003.
  2. At 6.6%, oversized envelopes have the greatest household response rates over other mediums (followed by postcards at 5.7% and letter-sized envelopes at 4.3%).
  3. At 37%, oversized envelopes have the greatest household return on investment over other mediums (followed by postcards and letter-sized envelopes at 29%).
  4. The response rate for direct mail among people aged 18-21 years old is 12.4%.
    The top response rate tracking methods are online tracking such as PURLs (61%), call center or telephone (53%), and code or coupon (42%).

So, what if you aren’t getting the responses for your direct mail that you see in these stats?

It all comes down to two things: 1. Foot-in-mouth problems 2. Attention to your target market and where they are in the 5 stages of awareness. This dictates copy (words), design, and timing of your mail piece.
Continue reading 3 Million chances to convert with direct mail

The Death of Flash and Why it’s Important for Your Business

Flash dissapearing
We got this image from an e-learning website article about the changeover to HTML5. Click on the image to see the article.

We have been getting a few clients asking us about enabling Flash on their browser. Why do you need to do this just to see what you want to see? Flash is going away. It is dying a slow death, and as with many tech deaths, it is taking people by surprise.

What is Flash?

I had to get a simple breakdown from our tech guy and well, here is my attempt to put it into un-techy language: Flash is a kind of “computery” language that enables computers and browsers to play back videos, animations, interactive media, advertisements, etc.

Why is it going away?

  1. It’s not very secure
    More than a few Zero Days have occurred last year in which hackers could target your computer. According to Norton Antivirus, “The term ‘zero-day’ refers to a software vulnerability that the developer is newly aware of, and thus an official patch or update to fix the issue has not been released. Essentially, ‘zero-day’ refers to the fact that the developers have “zero days” to fix the problem that has just been exposed—and perhaps already exploited by hackers.”
    This has led many users and many browsers to disable Flash automatically.
  2. It’s obsolete
    Developers have moved on already to HTML5, JavaScript, etc.
  3. It’s being dumped
    All major browsers block Flash by default. Firefox began blocking Flash in 2015 followed soon by Safari, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. Internet Explorer is the only Flash enabled browser right now. That will soon be gone too, as IE is planning to disable Flash by 2019.
  4. …But there will be stragglers
    Just like obsolete font types are still being used, nobody can stop developers from using Flash. But it won’t be supported by browsers anymore, just like old fonts are not supported by new operating systems. It’s ability to work will be patchy without support.

What this means for your business

  •  Your websites will need to be updated to avoid using Flash by the drop dead year of 2020, though support in browsers will end before then.
  • Your animations using Flash can only be used on a computer with a compatible operating system that has Flash installed.
  • If you have interactive learning sites or proofing tools, you will need to make sure they have an HTML version.

What we are doing about it

  • We have already updated our website to not include Flash.
  • We are still going to use ProofHQ as our client proofing tool because they are developing an HTML version of the website that goes live in the next couple weeks. Currently, they have a beta version available. If you want to test out this platform right now, click this text in the bottom left hand side of your proof. It looks different but proofs still show accurately, and that is the important part to us and our clients. Of course, because it is in beta right now, you must have Flash enabled to access the button (go figure, right?).
    You can preview HTML on our proofing tool
    While you are in ProofHQ looking at your next proof from us, try out this feature.

2018 USPS Rate Increase

mail dogThe U.S. Postal Service once again raising rates. Here are some details of the 2018 postage rate increase. This increase takes effect on Sunday January 21st.

First-Class Mail

First-Class Mail Letter rates are slated to increase from their current 49 cent rate to 50 cents.  Now is a good time to buy Forever stamps, before the price goes up!
The postcard rate, which applies to individually mailed postcards measuring 4.25 x 6 or smaller, increases from 34 to 35 cents. The additional ounces charge for first class letters will remain at 21 cents, and international letters also hold steady at $1.15.

If you use metered postage in your office the rate also increases by one cent, from 46 cents to 47 cents.

Marketing Mail

Marketing mail (also known as standard mail) rates are slated to increase by an average of 1.94 percent. Included in this category are presort standard as well as the nonprofit rate. Presort Standard automated letters increase slightly less than the rest at only 1%, which is less than 1 cent increase. First Class Presort automated letters also see an estimated 1 cent per piece increase, from 40 to 41. Nonprofit automated letters hold at approximately 17 cents per piece.
The largest postage increases in this category target Flats, going up about 1.5% across the board.

Every Door Direct Mail

The USPS’s very successful Every Door Direct Mail program is also scheduled for a small increase from 15.6 cents to 15.7 cents on DDU shipments. The other categories also went up 1/10 cent each.

Shipping Services

As in previous years, the main focus of the rate increase is on Shipping Services, which sees an average increase for Priority Mail of 3.9 percent, including a 5 cent increase on most Flat Rate shipping charges.

If  you have any question or want to have your next mailing project quoted in advance please contact one our mail design experts.

Need the price chart?

Click here to download the PDF: 2018postage_prices

Net Neutrality: Not Neutral Anymore

Net neutralityIf you aren’t familiar with net neutrality, you are not alone. Most Internet users don’t realize what it is or how they can be effected. Below is a quick overview.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality legislation was put into place to prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against or showing favoritism toward certain websites. Let’s say you use your local cable and Internet comp for streaming video; without Net Neutrality they could now intentionally slow down the stream of competing services such as Netflix, giving themselves an unfair advantage.

How Will It Impact You?

Broadband providers will be able to charge consumers and companies varying rates. You could be charged more for a package that allows unrestricted access to streaming sites than someone else who only uses their Internet for email and reading newspapers.

What Does This Mean for Web Searches?

Currently, websites all have an equal opportunity to be found and visited. Without legislation in place to keep it that way, the stage is being set for large, established companies to be able to push out the little guy much like with current TV stations.

In a pay to play environment, large companies could put their websites in an express lane of searches. This is of course bad for smaller or new companies and bad for us as consumers, because our freedom to evaluate two services on a level playing field is restricted. This gives larger payers an advantage over smaller, similar services.

Specific to SEO, without net neutrality, it could mean that sites that rank high may not get the traffic or customers they did in the past. Also consider how highly Google values website speed; sites that are paying for speed will have access to their sites, a clear advantage based on money not merit.

The Internet has become a very integral part of our everyday lives. Even though recent legislation protecting Internet equality has been killed, it will take months if not years to see the full impact of an unregulated Internet.
If you are a small business owner with a websites or and online store, don’t completely overhaul everything just yet, the SEO industry isn’t going away for quite some time.

And the Future Will Be?

Web searches as we know them will be changing in the next couple years. But changes and evolution are just part of the game, good changes will evolve and bad ones will disappear. Help keep the internet equal for everyone:


Why am I Santa?

It is not because I enjoy putting my Santa outfit on. I usually get a small room that isn’t heated with no place to sit or set-up. I go through the steps and pull on the big red pants over the bigger blubbery belly. I use my boot hooks to pull on my heavy black boots. Then comes the itchy beard & white gloves & glasses. The final step is a visual inspection so nothing is out of place. Now I am Santa. One thing that I noticed about being Santa, I never need to get in the mood. It just happens when I walk into a room or up on a fire truck. The magic of being Santa just happens. All of this is for other people to see Santa and enjoy the winter magic of Christmas. But I get much more than that. . .

When I walk into a room and kids of all ages run to see me for a handshake, a high five, a fist bump, and most importantly a big Santa bear hug it makes all the work and scratchy beard melt away like spring snow. Then the child’s eyes hook onto Santa’s and it lights me up inside as much as the excitement and wonderment lights up the children.

So I take my seat and prepare for “naughty & nice” of all ages. I always have a few stories to tell when I get up from my big red chair. One small girl about 6 years old couldn’t say out loud when I asked her what she wanted for Christmas; she had to whisper in my ear “I want my mommy to be happy”. Even Santa gets choked up on that one. Then there is always a situation of 2 brothers being a year or so apart. They can’t wait to be the first to tell me what they want, sometimes it becomes “tug of war” for my attention.

Continue reading Why am I Santa?

Are You Sure You Read That?

5 ways to make sure you comprehend what you just read.

We’ve all been there. Your co-worker handed you an article this morning, and when he asked you about it an hour later, you couldn’t remember the important points the article made. Sometimes what we read flows into our head and then just…dissipates! True, some authors could be better at formatting their work, but that’s no excuse, make sure you know what you just read.

I had a teacher that would tell a class of 20 to 40-year-olds that we didn’t know how to read. Or how to listen. Or how to…well you get the picture. It was Monday. But she somehow masterfully taught us how to do all those things. Again. Below are her instructions for reading and comprehending, and I have to admit they work pretty well (yes teacher, you were right). It’s so simple but not done very often. Give it a try next time!

First of all, take a deep breath and let it out.

Continue reading Are You Sure You Read That?

On a budget and tight deadline? Browse our Idea Book

It’s a given that in most industries you can have only two of these three things at any time: low price, good quality, and quick service. What if you just want a smidgen of all three? Purdy please?

You’re not exactly Mr. Monopoly, you don’t want to just plop some text on a brochure and call it good, and you need it yesterday. Yes, yes, you should have a budget for this, you should have been prepared far enough in advance to hire a good designer, and you knew this was coming —but sometimes not. Or sometimes you just need a little mercy!

So, here is a smidgen of luck for you. We can make you a custom piece, but we can also use some pre-made templates to get you started. Call it an idea generation tool if you will. Just go here, download our catalog, and reference which one you want to use. We have the same catalog in our office (of course) so we know which one you are talking about.

Browse the idea book by going here and clicking on the image of the book:

Raising Money for a Good Cause

This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation’s Faith and Fantasy Ball. It was so great to see all the wonderful supporters of our town’s great Hospital!

For the past five years I have personally been a party of the committee that helps put the event together. I have always helped with the decoration and loved every moment of it. We have done themes such as: There’s No Place Like Home (Wizard of Oz), Hollywood on the Hill, Paris, Into the Wild, Golden Masquerade and this year Around the World. The decorations are always exquisite and elaborate. The last few years I have been lucky enough to attend as well and this event is like none other. People are dressed in tuxedos, ball gowns, and depending on the theme, some are dressed to match. It is always great fun to see friends that you see regularly dressed in their absolute best with diamonds around their necks and their hair and make-up made to perfection.

As much fun and glamour as there is involved in these events there is always a reason for raising the funds. Whether it is to raise money for a new piece of machinery needed for the hospital, a new Cardiac Rehab Center or to Cancer Care, there is always a great need for the funds that are raised. This year was very beneficial to the Hospital as they raised over $160,000 through sponsorships (such as ours), silent auction, live auction and attendance.

Sutter Logo

It is such a great event that we as a company and I personally am very happy to be a part of.