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.

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: http://www.api-marketing.com/our-services/design-services/

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.

Why Business Thank You Notes Are Important

TY NOTE

Growing up we were always told saying thank you was important; writing a thank you note was even better. The art of sending a Thank You Note has faded a bit but there are still a lot of people that send them and for good reason. Not only does it show you are appreciative for an item, an action, or just a relationship, but in the business world you are giving your perspective customer or current customer another reason to see your name, your business name and just another “touch” in a world that likes to be noticed.

Sometimes we get busy, sometimes we just plain forget, but making sure to send a thank you is a GREAT thing when trying to make someone feel the warm and fuzzy. It requires very little effort, it doesn’t have to be a novel, just a quick jot of words will do. A proper thank you note contains just a few things; generous, specific, prompt, concise and personal. Even if you are late to write the note, don’t let that hold you back, late is better than not at all.

Writing a Thank You note will set you apart from your competitor. Like I said before, Thank You Notes are fading a lot from what they were in the past, so sending a handwritten thank you sets you apart from the other company that has been trying to get their business. When you send a thank you note, the receiver is more likely to see your worth and value your appreciation than just a quick email or social media post. Studies have shown the great power of saying thank you. When you send a Thank You to your customers they in turn spend more, they tell their friends about you and your service delivery.  This drives profit, margin and success.

Project Management: The Have, Need, How Method

Imagine you are moving along in your project and planning your next campaign when five other projects are dumped on your desk. A few minutes later, somebody peeks around the corner and says “Hey, that one there is a rush, can you get it to me ASAP?”

Sure. You set down your stuff and move it aside. You pick up the ASAP project and find out it’s not in a state that should be sent to you quite yet. So you send it back to the service rep. It’ll come back to you within the hour, so you think you should work on some other stuff for a bit so you don’t get interrupted again. An hour later the ASAP project comes back and so do 3 other projects. Now you have 7 projects plus the ASAP and the campaign. But you haven’t counted them yet; you just see lots and lots of paperwork. Emails, phone calls, special requests, break time. You come back from break and all projects you sent out have come back with changes. You work on those, put out some theoretical fires in the office, and before you know it, you have to go home.

Get your mind back on track
Is the image on the left what your mind feels like halfway through the day?

What have you even done today? Are you feeling a little lost and overwhelmed?

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regards to campaign or project organization is what I call the Have, Need, How method. This was a little something I gleaned from Gwen Amos at CSUS  while she prepared us for the onslaught of projects we encountered. In addition to getting analytical people to think creatively, she was tasked with getting a bunch of creative people to use their analytical side even if for a short time, and she did both quite well. Could you have asked her a question if you hadn’t considered the things on your Have, Need, How list? Yes, but you might just be told to make one such list as her answer.

I file her advice on this list with other gems like: “Get it out of your head and on paper or it doesn’t exist,” “Don’t vomit on paper, you would all be fired if this were a job,” “Even if you don’t have everything I asked for, at least have something new,” “This is good paper, it makes colors pop; everyone look at this paper,” and “I’m going to show you all something, but only once.”  It was tough making the Have, Need, How list at first, but not as tough as complete writer’s block. This method at least asks you a question you can most likely answer about what you have done, helps you list what needs to get done, and start thinking about how you are going to accomplish those needed items. If you need to make your list specific to each project that is OK, but you can go broader if you want, and go over your schedule for the day or week. Keep this list where you can see it.

You need 3 sections: Have, Need, and How.

What do you have? In this section write down all the things/pieces of the project(s) you have available or have done already. You will feel a little better about yourself as you write this because it forces you to acknowledge that you actually did do something.

What do you need? You’re not done with your project yet, and you’ve got to address the missing pieces at some point. So write down all the things you need to accomplish or need to acquire for the project.

How will you accomplish the items on your need list? This is perhaps one of the most important steps for people who need a little help to get moving. Let’s say you need a new Facebook banner but you don’t know the size. In order to get the correct size you can find the specs on Facebook’s website. Then of course it’s design time. So your action item, or your “how”, on “make new Facebook Banner” will be “1. look up size for Facebook Banner on their website. Here is the size___________. 2. Using our current campaign theme, current fonts, colors and images from style guide (on the book shelf), make banner.” This can go on for some time depending on your position in the company, but it’s usually 1-5 tasks.

list example
Here are some items I would like to get done

This method basically gives you a sense of where you are in a project, and no excuse to not start working on something. Plus you get a handy list that you can check off as you go. Now that you know exactly where you are in a project all day long, you can at least know where you left off if you get distracted.

It’s a good idea to start one of these lists at the beginning or end of the day so that you can get a fresh start. But if you are ever feeling overwhelmed and you don’t have one of these lists to go by, I can almost guarantee that if you take a few minutes to make one, you’ll be more productive (and feel more productive!).

Join me next time for Are You Sure You Read That?—3 ways to make sure you comprehend what you just read.

5 Ways to Encourage Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer has affect nearly every circle of family and friends in some way. It is so prevalent that it also seeps into workplace circles, which is why a business may feel the need to reach out and show its support.

Many people think of Susan B. Komen when they think of Breast Cancer awareness. They do for a good reason; the foundation has a well-marketed campaign each year and some very clear goals of helping women get informed, screened, treated, and alive! But what can you do in your own community that helps people on a local level?

Your business has many opportunities to promote awareness. Here are just a few:

  1. Provide information to your employees and clients alike on breast cancer. Get the most recent facts and figures from the American Cancer Society. You can chose many ways to display this information: brochures, white papers, flyers, posters, booklets, etc.
  2. Promotional products for givaways. There are a ton of promotional products that can contribute to awareness. People have come to recognize the color pink as being associated with breast cancer awareness, but perhaps you can take it a step further and put an important, recognizable fact or hashtag on the promo product as well.
  3. Participate in or organize a walk, marathon, and/or fundraiser as a company. If the event is during the week, it may mean you’ll need to give your employees some paid time so they can afford to join you.
  4. Update your social media and website to reflect your support. This could be as simple as putting a pink ribbon next to your logo.
  5. Team up with an organization in your community dedicated to preventing, and provide support during, breast cancer. This October we’ve decided to contribute $10 of every order ($50 if a new client!) to Placer Breast Cancer Foundation. The Foundation is a volunteer based group that includes breast cancer survivors and community activists dedicated to raising monies in order to fund research, education and outreach throughout our five county region. Just mention the foundation when placing your order. For more info on PBCF, visit their website: www.placerbreastcancerfoundation.org