“But I’m not ready for you to see my website!”

Cat with smily face placed over his mouth
Just fix it already

“I don’t like my website, I’m going to redo it soon” [like a year from now].

Does this sound familiar? Or how about “I’m going to invest in social media when I am ready for large orders.” But you aren’t ready for large orders because of several reasons, including not having a proper website for clients to view and/or place orders.

It’s 2017 and 39% of small business owners don’t have a website, and many that do are unhappy with the way it performs or looks. While there are several reasons that a website can do a poor job at generating leads, there are a few reasons that are unashamedly staring us all in the face.

Continue reading “But I’m not ready for you to see my website!”

10 Ways Show, Not Just Tell

Show and Tell
Sometimes you have to get creative. We lifted this gif from 1001postcards.org.

We’ve all had Show-and-Tell at school before. I know it was a long time ago, but go ahead and just remember the most engaging things that you saw at Show-and-Tell. Did you learn anything, or do you just remember that one time when Becky tripped and fell while handling her Baking Soda volcano? Chances are it’s something like that. Or something else really creative and fun. Audiences like something new and engaging, and kids understand that best! Most often the best thing is an action or visual paired with some short, concise words. When I was a kid I didn’t do a lot of talking, so showing people what I could do was easy. But it was also easy to get overlooked, so with much grumbling, I learned to pair the two.

Don’t just tell people you have great service, or the best gadget in town. Show them too! Here are some ways to start showing and telling people how your business stands out: Continue reading 10 Ways Show, Not Just Tell

Groundhog Day for Businesses

Sunny with a chance of shadows: groundhog out of his holeIt doesn’t take much to predict the weather better than a groundhog, but even a groundhog gets out of his comfort zone to check things out—which is something that many business owners don’t do often enough.

If you are doing just fine, then don’t sweat it. If you need a little help to stay afloat, it’s time to change things up.

As a country we are catapulting into polarized politics and our comfort zones are already being broken down. People are becoming accustomed to dramatic messages and won’t be swayed as easily as they were a few years ago. The competition to get your business seen above others, and above the rest of the things on people’s minds, will be even greater as the year progresses. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and provide a little boost to your clients. Maybe you have a revolutionary new idea, or maybe you provide a sense of security in a volatile sea of unsteady choices.

Whatever it is you have to offer, we can help you stand out above the others in your market. Just give us a call and we can set you up with a free marketing consultation. This is the Year of Standing Out! Make it count. 888.282.8764

A little background on Groundhog Day:

Groundhog Day (Canadian French: Jour de la Marmotte; Pennsylvania German: Grundsaudaag, Murmeltiertag) is a traditional holiday celebrated on February 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, some time before the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

Modern customs of the holiday involve early morning celebrations to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow.

Protect Your Images from Decay and Bad Prints

In last month’s post we went over knowing the specs of what is being purchased/designed before getting too involved in a project. Those topics included: trim size, margins/safety zones, spot colors, kind of paper, printing process or special processes, and why the kinds of mailers matter. This month, in Vol. 2 and 3: Designing For Print, I’ll discuss how to work with all the images and objects that go into the printed piece and help start the design process to ensure success. 

Image Resolution

Image quality is surprisingly often overlooked in design process. An ideal image for print is 200-300 ppi (pixels per inch) at the size it will be printed and CMYK. A tiff file is best.

popular image sizes and a visual of the equation in the text

Continue reading Protect Your Images from Decay and Bad Prints

Get Inside The Brain

When we meet someone for the first time, subliminally we get a sense of who and what they are. This is how parts of the brain work. We see anger, fear, self-confidence, worry and a host of other emotions. pearlgirlSo where does this show up in your marketing? Every feeling that you see in person you can also see with print or on the web. So naturally, subliminal senses should be part of your collateral evaluation before it prints or goes live. In reality this is not happening enough, it’s discarded as a luxury, or “it doesn’t make much difference”. One of the most interesting posts that I have read recently is from Roger Dooley who is the author of Brainfluence:


It contains several subtle ideas on how to convey the desired feeling when it comes to how your portrait or pictures of people work in your collateral.

There are so many simple improvements that can be made to boost your results. Colors, shapes, facial expressions, these all trigger an emotion in the viewer. Make sure you choose the right triggers.

Steps to Success That Every Print Designer Should Know, Vol. 2


Images and color: cameras deal with the colors of light, which are RGB (red, green and blue). If you were to take three flashlights with red, green and blue lenses and overlap them, you would create several other colors. CMYK deals with pigments, or ink. When crossed, pigments behave differently than the colored flashlight lenses. It takes four colors to make as many color combinations. Because CMYK is a representation trying to mimic the colors of light, it will never be quite the same as viewing your image on a computer screen (also RGB) or as when you were actually there taking the picture. Nevertheless, we are stuck with CMYK for most prints, and in order to keep your expectations from growing wild about color, please convert your images that go into documents and publications, posters, etc. to CMYK. To the trained eye, they will appear a little less brilliant but the color space conversion is more important.

chart describing RGB vs CMYK
Check out this graphic from PDW Global. It helps visualize how the two color systems work.

For the same reasons as explained above, color for print will be more accurate if you start the document as CMYK. Printers use percentages of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and K (black) pigments or dies. If you have ever had a case where you’ve tried to make a color 100% black and as soon as you save the document it changes to a different percentage of black, you may want to check how the document is set up. When this problem occurs, it is usually because the document is RGB and is overriding your attempts to use CMYK color swatches.

Check if your document is CMYK:

From Indesign click on File, Document Setup. Make sure that Print is selected from the Intent dropdown menu. Use only CMYK swatches and images and you’ll be fine.

From Illustrator click on File, Document Color Mode, and ensure that CMYK is checked. Use only CMYK swatches and images and you’ll be fine.

From Photoshop click on Image, Mode and make sure CMYK is checked. If it is not checked (RGB is default), go ahead and click on it. Photoshop may ask you if you want to flatten the layers because changing color modes will likely have unexpected results in some kinds of layers. Personally, I would save a copy of my file and flatten that one.

If you use Microsoft Publisher go here to get a great comprehensive tutorial: http://www.bestprintingonline.com/mspublisher.htm

For Quark Express see this: https://www.edwardsbrothersmalloy.com/blog/creating-print-quality-pdf-documents-quark-express-8-0/

Microsoft Word doesn’t retain CMYK values reliably. If it is the only tool you have available and you’re on a budget, just be advised that in some cases you printer (that’s us, not your desktop printer) may convert the file to CMYK but the conversion could produce results that you did not intend. For example, when we use Adobe Preflight to convert files for digital printing, an occasional red tone will insert itself into the images. Red faces are no fun! Additionally, if you get a digitally printed proof using RGB images, but the job will be printed on the offset press, the color will be very different.

About the Color Black

Black is great. It’s sophisticated and professional. Getting the best black prints require some finesse and it depends largely on what your document contains. There are two kinds of black: %100 Black (C0, M0, Y0, K100) and Rich Black (a combination of CMYK to make black). 100% black can be a bit dull in large surface areas (unless you are printing on a laser printer), and Rich Black can be, well, rich! It is velvety, or can have a slight hue of any color you like.

This is why it’s important to communicate to designers how many colors are needed and likewise, designers need to tell clients how many colors are used. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and K (black) are all colors and if you use a rich black, you will likely be charged to use all four of those colors.

In projects with color images (you’re using all four anyway) it’s recommended to use rich black in large areas with no text to get a deep black color. Our favorite Rich Black build is C40,M30,Y20,K100.

For text, whether it’s black or reversed out of a black background, we recommend %100 Black (C0, M0, Y0, K100). If you use Rich Black ,the text will be a little fuzzy from lining up all four layers on top of eachother.

graphic showing 100 black and rich black
As you can see, black is not always just black.

Watch out for images that look black but are really a build of all four colors. If you are making a document that prints only in black, be sure to convert that image to greyscale.

Steps to Success That Every Print Designer Should Know

Design. Seems simple, right? A message, an audience and some graphics. Well it’s not really that simple, and even the best visual people sometimes have limited to no knowledge of the printing process. In this post I use the terms “designer” and “client” loosely, because there can also be a designer/boss or perhaps a client/printer relationship. I’ve compiled a list of the most import tips and tricks for getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to print material. In this segment, Vol. 1, I will go over some basic groundwork for starting a project for print so that you know what to expect.

info illustrating how specs are used

Know the specs of what is being purchased/designed before getting too involved in a project. There is often a disconnect between designers and their clients when it comes to what the end product will do. Being upfront about some things will not only make your printer happy, but will make your project less costly and avoid unnecessary miscommunications between designers and clients. Make sure you/your designer know and communicate: Continue reading Steps to Success That Every Print Designer Should Know

Open Type Fonts Have More Fun

Apple and PC dancing
Think of all the great things Mac and PC can accomplish together with Open Type fonts!

For about 12 years now, Windows (PCs) and Apple (Macs) have ended support for Type 1 and True type fonts in favor of Open Type fonts. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still buy a True Type font or that they won’t ever work, but it does mean that you are walking on thin ice. Systems and software are no longer developed with these old fonts in mind, with the exception of Adobe who allows you to put the font in the library of the software using it. Even then, you may still encounter problems. So why switch to Open Type fonts? Why should you give up thousands of dollars worth (if you are an agency) of licenses for fonts?

Continue reading Open Type Fonts Have More Fun

9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing

“What kind of return on investment will I get?” “I tried social media and got no customers!” These are the kinds of questions and responses I hear daily in my conversations about social media. Often I tell folks to set and manage expectations correctly. From these conversations I’ve come up with a set of nine laws of social media to provide all marketers with proper expectations. Continue reading 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing