Alphagraphics blog

No, Thank You!

A Small Gesture Goes a Long Way!

Certainly you carefully mind your manners every day by saying the magic words “Please” and “Thank You”. And there is no question that you frequently send out notes of gratitude to your customers and clients. Wait… you didn’t think that was necessary? Okay, take a seat… it is time to go to school. You already know that it is easier and more cost efficient to keep your current collection of clients than it is to scour around for new ones. But what you’ve missed is that a simple hand-written, yes, HAND-WRITTEN, note will help to keep them tied to you. A memorable note card that sports your logo and company colors in a great design created by the New Bern AlphaGraphics team is all you need. Add a colorful envelope with your return address tastefully printed on the front and you’ve got something special. These little note cards are powerful tools that push you and your company to top of mind with your clients and customers. The inside is blank so that you can enter your heart felt sentiment. Start with the date, and then the greeting and the person’s name (check the spelling), add about two or three lines that say THANKS! Thank you for the introduction, the referral, the recent order, the opportunity to work with you, the chance to solve your problem, for your understanding about the delayed delivery, for your patronage over the years, for attending our grand opening, for just being a nice person to work with. You get the idea. Sign it off by repeating your thanks and sign your name. Hand-address the envelope, slap a stamp on it, drop it in the mail box, and in a day or two someone will be pleasantly surprised. Class dismissed.

April 17 / 2015
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Got Mail?

Monday through Saturday the United States Post Office delivers the mail to billions of homes and business across the US; sometimes placing it right on the desk of the intended recipient for less than a buck a person in postage. It’s an amazing system.

Sent!

Yeah, you’re thinking hard copy mail is so last century, but it’s actually a very personal way to reach out to your target audience. Whether you are sending out announcements for your grand opening or your wedding invitations, AlphaGraphics of New Bern can make something memorable for you. And even better, they can do the mailing!

Give them your mailing list and they will address and post your precious mailing. If you don’t have a list, AlphaGraphics can get one for you.

Let’s say you own a science day camp, and you have three neighborhoods that you want to target because of their demographics (income, age of household members) and their proximity to your business. AlphaGraphics can pull you a list of hundreds of pre-qualified people with kids that need something exciting to do this summer. This means you’ve just discovered the perfect formula to fill your camp!

And those wedding invitations; lots of pieces and lots of stuffing, not to mention the careful inscribing of each address on every single one of those 300 envelopes. You’re getting writer’s cramp just thinking about it. While Miss Manners says, “…hand addressed is best!” if your handwriting looks like spaghetti no one will be able to read it and it won’t get delivered. Let AlphaGraphics help.

AlphaGraphics is ready to create that memorable mailing then address it, stamp it, and get it to the post office so all you have to do is answer the phone and say, “Glad you called, how can I help?”

April 17 / 2015
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Get Some Standards

Everybody has standards and if you don’t you should have. We’re not talking about ethics. No, we’re talking about Brand Standards to ensure your company image is consistent on all your marketing and communications tools from your business cards and letterhead, to your website and brochures.

Think of Pepsi; it’s always recognizable – logo, color, font.  By the way, you don’t need to be a big company to have standards; micro-businesses and even solo-entrepreneurs need to have consistent branding.

If you don’t have any standards, don’t worry – the designers at Alphagraphics in New Bern can build them for you. Then you’ll have a neat little digital file with all the different versions of your logo – eps, jpg, tiff, png – so that they can be easily manipulated for your purposes, plus your company colors identified, and your font styles selected.

For instance, the logo on your business card should look exactly the same when it is enlarged for the side of your truck or plastered on a billboard. If you have brand standards it won’t become misshapen and unrecognizable when you change the size.

And the colors will be spot on because the Alphagraphics team will nail down those weird CMYK and Pantone codes, rather than just guessing if that blue is your true blue.

Fonts (the style of typeface you use) need to be consistent, too. You might always use a sans-serif font like Arial for your company but if someone switched it to a fussy Garamond it may confuse your message. Brand Standards avoid a lot of problems.

Let Alphagraphics create your Brand Standards so you’ll always have your logo scaled precisely, your company colors the exact hue, and your font styles consistently correct.  And then you can tell people you have very good standards.

March 09 / 2015
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Let’s Have a Party!

You can celebrate anything – a grand opening, a birthday or anniversary, a home coming, any personal or business milestone you choose can be something special with creative collateral. Collateral is the stuff that supports your event – from the invitations to the thank you notes. So let’s walk through an imaginary event and identify some of the ways the graphic designers at AlphaGraphics in New Bern can make it memorable. We’ll call it the Big Event.

PartyCupWe’ll start with the invitations to the Big Event that not only tell your guests when, where, and why to show up but also display your logo or theme. If you’re not the toss ‘em in the mailbox type, no worries, Alphagraphics can create an online template for you that will snag their attention and get those RSVP’s back to you in no time flat. In response you can send out custom tickets for the Big Event and even have raffle tickets printed for your fundraiser.

For decorations the Big Event needs a giant photo print of the guest of honor, the winning team, or the new product. Imagine banners to welcome people and to display your heartfelt sentiment. And it is smart to put up signage to guide people through the event for parking, registration, and to the activities.

Nametags and a printed icebreaker game will get everyone talking. Plus place cards will ensure they all get to their assigned seats. Gift bags printed with your colors, theme, and logo can be used for the Big Event prizes; or to send each guest home happily with a little bit of customized swag from your soiree like a pen, notepad, and mug emblazoned with your party theme.

Now you’re thinking it’s time to party! If you don’t have a reason to celebrate, make one up.

Time to Throw a Party!

Time to Throw a Party!

February 25 / 2015
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Rolling Billboard

You drive, right? You’ve got a car, or a truck, or even a fleet of vehicles that get you and your products where they have to go. But they are only doing half the job. Those autos should be telling people about your business and getting you some top of mind awareness while they are out cruising around Craven County.

Alphagraphics of New Bern has a number of ways to double the effectiveness of your ride by taking it from being just a method of transportation to making it a means of communication – a rolling billboard.

Car magnets are the Honda Civic of mobile advertising; dependable, easy to use, and cost effective. You bring your logo and contact information to our designers and they’ll create a magnetic sign that you can slap on your vehicle and be ready for business in no time. Multiple enterprises or seasonal services? Change out the signs to suit your needs.

Window Perforations are not computer programs. They are eye catching window covers that give people something to look at without blocking your view of the traffic. Let the Alphagraphics designers add your logo and info to a stunning break-checking graphic and people will be reaching out to you at the next light.

Window Perf

Car wraps totally transform your vehicle. A partial wrap lets that clear coat finish shine through your design. But just imagine your scruffy little jalopy covered from hood to trunk with a brilliant full wrap featuring your company colors and logo. Your car will get new respect and everyone who sees you driving by will know what you do and how to contact you.

Take your pick; get your wheels to speak for you while you’re on the road. There’s an idea, a talking car!

zaxbysHabitat Trailer Wrap

Confidential Records Lettering

February 20 / 2015
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Insanity Redefined: Use Templates to Increase Efficiency

Last century, if you wanted to layout a newsletter it required double sided tape and razor blade to get your copy to fit on the sheet. Now, you cut and paste with a couple of clicks, but to make your end product look professional and consistent, use a template.

Templates are preset graphic designs with the vital stuff permanently built in and with spaces for you to add copy, graphics, and photos. The email marketing systems like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp offer an odd collection of templates through their programs which are good, but remember, someone else could be using your same template for an entirely different reason. Let the designers at Alphagraphics in New Bern create one that is customized to your needs and distinctively yours.

Your logo, your color scheme, your corporate vibe (plus vital information) is compounded into the template so that all you have to do is add the copy and send it along. You can also get a template designed for a digital letterhead so that every document you send is a branded reminder of your company. You can even get a template for your signature line of your emails. How cool is that?

You will be branding royalty by using templates to consistently represent your business to your customers and clients. Imagine everyone in your company will be using the same logo and color scheme for letters, invoices, newsletters and again, their email signatures.
Consider this: Albert Einstein defined Insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If that’s true then intellectual brilliance is doing the same thing over and over again and getting consistent results. Which means: templates are a smart way to reinforce your brand and keep your message consistent.

January 29 / 2015

Everyone Is Unique: Planning Your Next Project

What do you envision for your next project?

What do you envision for your next project?

Anthropologist Margaret Mead is noted for saying, “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Printing is like that, too.  While the basics are the same, each project is unique.

If you think of your printing or design project as building a little creature, that would be weird, but it can also help you get all the pieces in place so that you get the product you want.

For instance, what is the medium for this character? Are you having it pop out on a screen or passed out in a meeting? If you’ve chosen a hard copy think of its purpose. A lovely delicate vellum piece will entice people to your soiree while a sturdy card stock can bellow your next clearance sale in their mail box. The color of the paper will have an impact on your message, too. Think about it… pink slip, red envelope, yellow card… they all have meaning.

Your little creature doesn’t need a big vocabulary, you can enhance its image with photos you supply, stock shots that can be bought, or graphic elements designed just for you.

You want your critter to have legs, to be able to stand up to scrutiny and carry your message so it must have a balance of white (blank) space with the visuals and verbiage.  Knowing how to do this is an art form and the graphics team at AlphaGraphics in New Bern can help you with that.

As a matter of fact, they can carefully walk you through the process of taking your message from scrawl to stellar in just minutes. They will match your paper to your purpose, find the font that fits, and deliver a design that sings for you.  No, seriously, you can add audio to just about anything. Wouldn’t that be unique?


Print Ready or Not: Preparing Graphics for Print

We’ve all had those moments in our overbooked day when you’ve forgotten something important.  Like the car keys after you’ve locked up the house to go on vacation, or whose turn it was to pick up the kids from the sitter’s. Yeah, those things are embarrassing, but fortunately they can be resolved and usually forgotten.

No offense, but your selfie is probably not a great image to use for your business card!

No offense, but your selfie is probably not a great image to use for your business card!

When you are putting a package together to deliver to your printer, be sure you’ve included all your elements in the correct formats, thus avoiding any embarrassment and creating a memorable product.

Photographs that are going to be duplicated and enlarged need to be high resolution – 600 or 1200 PPI (pixels per inch) is best.  And try using TIFs whenever possible, they haven’t been compressed and provide the best resolution. Which means that newspaper print of Great Aunt Dazie’s photo from her Ziegfeld days will not reproduce very well as a wall poster.  Just remember – More pixels, better pictures.

Business cards are meant to be given away like mints, but they make lousy resources

for graphics. When you need to print your logo, provide the files your graphic artist gave you which could be a PDF or an EPS. Both of these file types can be manipulated by people in the know, like the designers at AlphaGraphics, and will look crisp and clear when printed.

The note you scrawled on that cocktail napkin might not be so easy to read in the daylight, so dress up your thoughts on a clean blank sheet. Copy or text provided digitally can easily be duplicated and enhanced which will speed your printing process along.

And keep your deadline in mind. The more lead time you have for your printed project the better, but we also do well with magically quick turnarounds when the need arises.  You bring us the package and we’ll provide you with the goods.

October 12 / 2014

Id Awl Adz Up: Proof, Proof, PROOF!

We are complex creatures that sometimes miss the details. You see, our brains arebusy little things managing our bodily functions, thinking about the sleep we didn’t get the night before, and looking at whatever shiny thing is flying by our visual field at the moment.

Proofread for Perfect Printing!

Proofread for Perfect Printing!

Because of that, spellcheck is one of the greatest gifts to mankind; women don’t need it as much… just kidding.  We all need it.  Really, you don’t know how to spell THEIR, but the computer does and it instantly corrects it for you.  However, if you typed in their but meant to use there or they’re, spellcheck won’t necessarily catch that and your message will be missed.

That’s where proofing comes in handy; it confirms your message and makes sure that you look smart. When you bring your flyer, poster, invitation, newsletter, or whatever to AlphaGraphics of New Bern to be designed or printed they will offer to send you a proof for your review. Always … ALWAYS get the proof and look it over.  Start by reading the text aloud – you are much more likely to spot the eras errors. While you’re at it, ask someone else to look it over, too.

Next double check the dates. Your computer accepts Saturday, October 31, 2014 as the right day/date combination on your invitation. But it’s not. That mistake can lead to lots of calls, texts, and emails to ensure your ghoulish guests show up on the right night.

Confirm you’ve got your desired graphic selections in the correct locations. Check your tag lines; you don’t want Mr. Jones’ promotion noted under the picture of the puppy needing a new home or vice versa. And inspect your colors.

The computer doesn’t know the shade differences between The Duke Blue Devils and The UNC Tarheels, but you do.

Proofing: It all adds up to perfect printing.

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Side Note: In case our title didn’t make sense, here are a few definitions that may help!

Id:   In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, it is the part of the psyche that is unconscious and the source of primitive instinctive impulses and drives.

Awl:   A tool consisting of a handle and a slim metal shaft with a sharp point, used for punching small holes in leather or wood.

Adz:   A tool similar to an ax, with an arched blade set at right angles to the handle. Use: trimming and shaping wood.

September 14 / 2014

Let’s Get Personal With Variable Data: Personalized Customer Outreach

There is nothing in your life that can’t be personalized. Your license plates can shout about your favorite team or pastime. Your phone may have started out sleekly functional but now it is brightly funky since you wrapped it in a protective and personally selected case. This personalization means that it belongs to you and just you.

Now imagine you want to get your customer’s attention. You want to grab him by the shirt collar and tell him something really important. You will not get that kind of attention by sending out a mailing addressed to “Resident”. That one gets round filed.

You will have a better chance of at least a cursory glance when you specifically address it to your intended target.  But if you really want to make eye contact and start a conversation – because that is what direct mail does; it starts the conversation, then you want to use a technique called Variable Data Printing.

Variable Data is printable information that is personalized for each individual client. Look at the pizza below. When Christopher gets the mail and sees his name spelled out in olives you can bet that he will be in awe! He’ll look at, show it off to other people, and the conversation will have started. He will be thinking about you and talking about you and deciding to do business with you; because it is personalized. Because you took the time to show him that she matters to you.

Personal Pizza. No, really!

Personal Pizza. No, really!

So let’s get personal.  Put Variable Data Printing into your next mailing.  AlphaGraphics of New Bern can design and print a delicious mail campaign with Variable Data that will captivate your market.  We’ll help you deliver a message with meaning that will sell your story while capturing a second look from your customers and prospects. Variable Data Printing: personalization with results.