During a business expo hosted by the Maple Valley Chamber, I was flipping through a handout from a certain non-profit.
I noticed that the pamphlet I had been given contained several testimonials singing the praises of the organization.
Then an idea popped into my head.
Why not create a testimonials page for our shop’s website? We had plenty of happy customers who would surely be willing to share how glad they were to do business with us. Thankfully, I was correct.
Our Testimonials page provides a way for new customers to see what of our present clients have to say about the shop.
I’ve heard that the secret to good marketing is to study the methods of those who are doing it best and then copy them. This is how military forces the world over better themselves, the principle being equally applicable to business.
Taking a look at several nearby businesses, I saw that all of the best ones used testimonials from their clients.
One non-profit in Federal Way has a series of blog posts dedicated to relating stories of people their organization has helped. They often carry an emotional tinge to them, meant to pull heartstrings and summon the reader to action.
Elsewhere, a local car dealership has a whole page dedicated to allowing customers to share their experiences buying cars through the firm. This shows that they trust their customer base and that they’re willing to listen to them.
Having resolved to create such a page for the shop, I immediately began sending out messages to some of our most loyal clients in order to obtain testimonials from them.
This was much easier than I anticipated. Several of our clients were more than happy to provide detailed statements explaining how happy they were with our services. This was quite encouraging.
A little later, Kristin, our graphic designer, had a brand new Testimonials page up and running on our website! We plan to add to it as we get more testimonials.
In a nutshell, testimonials are a great way to hype your business because they give you credibility by bringing in a third party, like a witness in a court case, to validate your product or service.
We strongly encourage you to let your customers speak for themselves when it comes to marketing your business. Give your fans a means of communicating their happiness with you, and they’ll do the rest.
A frequent source of frustration for our design and pre-press team here are the shop is incorrect file preparation.
Often we find ourselves working with a file submitted for a job that won’t work with our printers. It gets worse if there are no bleeds on the file, or if it’s not formatted in CMYK. Sometimes it’s not even sent as a PDF!
Such things are aggravating both for us and our customers, who both just want to get the job done on time. These steps for preparing files for your printer will minimize frustration for all parties involved.
Hundreds of man-hours have been wasted (both for us and our customers) due to a file being submitted by a customer in Word or Publisher, when if should have been submitted as a PDF. Word and Publisher will not save fonts into the documents, so if you have any fun and interesting fonts it most likely won’t get to us.
The solution then is to submit files as PDFs. We ask our customers to design their files in a program such as Photoshop or InDesign, convert their files to PDF, and then submit those files to us. If you don’t have access to these Adobe programs just save your files as PDFs from whatever program you are using.
Another problem we frequently face here at the shop is a lack of bleeds on files. Bleeds are the extra space added to the edge of a file that will be cut off during production. There needs to be a buffer zone so no valuable information is cut off. For example, a letter size sheet (8.5x11) would need bleeds of 8.625x11.125. See the illustration below:
Bleeds are required on all documents that do not have all-white borders. Very rarely is there a job which does not require bleeds. Therefore, we kindly ask our customers to always include bleeds when designing their products.
The minimum bleeds space is .125 inches for paper products, but 0.5 inches for banners and signs.
Another important step that must be remembered (but is often forgotten) is formatting the file in CMYK. Kristin wrote a post on CMYK a few weeks back, so in case you want to get up-to-speed on that, please check that out. In the meantime, please remember that if your file has images or color in it, and it’s not in CMYK, we will not be able to print it correctly.
We hope that this brief guide will be of use to you. As a quick review remember to design your file in the correct program, submit it as a PDF, include bleeds on the file, and to make sure the file is formatted in CMYK. A good designer should be able to do all of these things for you. If you need assistance with any of your projects, we are more than happy to help for a setup fee.
And as always, be sure to leave a comment if you have any questions!
We at the shop are intensely invested in our community. We frequently attend chamber functions, neighborhood events, and business expos.
Concerning the last of these, I’ve often found myself missing something important at a business expo or a chamber function. My dad, being more experienced and organized, is less likely to forget anything.
1.) Business cards
I cannot remember how many times I have gone to chamber function and forgot to bring business cards. It led to many awkward moments and fizzled opportunities.
You should never let yourself fall into that kind of situation. Business cards, even in today’s wired world, are a vital tool for networking. Everything you need to know about a prospect can be summed up on a three-inch long piece of cardstock.
I always make sure to carry some business cards in my pocket, another bunch in my wallet, and another bunch in the box full of the other stuff you bring to an expo.
You should always have some kind of brochure or pamphlet that you can give to visitors at your booth. It gives more info than a business card but is also a great way to plant the seed of interest in case someone decides they want to learn more.
Small, tri-fold brochures are generally the best. Big, 8.5x11 brochures are inconvenient to carry around, especially if your potential customer doesn’t have a complimentary tote-bag from some other booth. Better to play it safe and stay small. That alone could pay big dividends.
3.) A Banner
You need to make your table stand out from across a crowded exposition hall. The best way to do that is to have a big banner behind your booth, proudly proclaiming your company’s name, tagline, and website in big letters that are visible from a far off distance.
While the nitty-gritty of designing your banner is a different subject, here’s a pro-tip: Make sure that whatever information you put on your banner isn’t going to change any time soon, like numbers or dates. That way you can recycle your banner for future occasions.
Doubtless there are dozens more things that you could bring to a business expo (just look at the picture above!), but that's for another day. Until then, forget these things at your own peril!
Bonus Tip: Banners are also good to have in the background when you take a picture of the people manning the booth. We did exactly this for a Maple Valley trade show several years ago, before posting the above picture on our Facebook page for #ThrowbackThursday. Score!
This post could not have come at a more timely date. I had been meaning to write a post about how a desk with all sorts of junk on it couldn’t be good for the mind, when something incredible happened.
When I entered my office this afternoon, the desk, and the office, were clean.
As you can see from the above picture, the desk is largely free of clutter. Just last Friday there were notes and papers strewn across the surface of the desk, almost entirely obscuring the calendar that sat on there.
The notepads and sticky-note blocks were not organized in a neat stack as they are now, but were placed in any place where they could fit. It is a marked and improved contrast.
The reason for this newfound tidiness? My father, having been meaning to do so for a long time, finally cleaned up the office. It doubles as the accounting office, where it was previously used by my dear grandmother. I began using it mere weeks ago. My father knew exactly what needed to be done.
There are two lessons here: First, cleaning your desk regularly will help you to feel refreshed at your desk job. That’s how it felt for me!
Second, having a boss who cares about his workplace being clean and neat is incredibly gratifying. Not only does it show that he cares, but it motivates his employees to care too.
So thank you, dad, for teaching me to keep my desk clean!
You’ve probably never expected to read a blog about printing. I don’t know, maybe you have, maybe you haven’t.
But I work in a print shop, and such a thing has never occurred to me. Until now, that is.
Of course, now I’ve decided to read every blog about printing I can find, now that I’m officially the Chief Gruntwork Officer (and Marketing Guy).
What little I’ve found is so far quite enlightening. Indeed, the less you know, the more you think you know. I’m fairly certain the opposite is also true.
You probably know me, if you know me at all, as that random guy darting around in the background desperately trying to look busy while my father, Rich Sweeney, tries to work out the particulars of the printing you wanted done.
If you’re one of the few, unlucky souls who walked into the shop while my dad was out and about and I was manning the desk, you know me as someone else.
You know me as the guy who mumbled politely, tried to sound like he knew what he was doing, and was unable to help you in anyway whatsoever because he honestly doesn’t know a darn thing about production or quotes or cardstock. He barely knows enough jargon to sound even barely competent.
Well, guess what? That guy, yours truly, is now in charge of marketing at the Renton Printery!
I am the guy who, despite being practically raised in the shop, has no idea how to do anything remotely useful other than play on the internet for a few hours a day.
This means that I now have the pleasure of bumbling and mumbling my way through every networking function, social media exchange, and business card trade-off that anyone wishing (or not wishing) to associate with the Renton Printery will be forced to endure... or else!
Also, I write this blog.
Man, this is going to be a blast!
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing advice on print-buying and business, along with notes on the state of the shop.