From websites to direct mail

This month I want to talk about my creative services to you. I’ve had a couple of people recently ask if I create websites and even invitations. The answer is YES!  Don’t let my size fool you. I am a smart, nimble, creative services contractor. I size according to the scope of the project. That means when you just need a designer, you pay for me. If the project requires something more, say a developer, writer, or illustrator, I tailor fit a package to work for the scope of your project and fit within your budget. I love working with both development and marketing departments. I understand maintaining a brand. I understand print and digital. Not all designers have that skill set. They may be able to design a beautiful piece but will it work in the intended space? You get beautiful design and a vast knowledge base working with me. I am efficient and deadline conscious. If your in-house graphics is swamped, it’s nice to have an existing relationship with a designer you trust who is able to turn things around quickly. Below is a list of things I can help with but if you have something I may not have listed, please call me, 516-707-2330, and ask. Also, download my handy one sheet of services for reference. Print and digital specialties: ads • annual reports • direct mail packages • eBlasts • ebooks • invitations • media kits • newsletters • posters • privilege packages • programs signage • tickets • tour books • WordPress websites • white...

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Please do not use MS Word to design for print

Greetings! This month I want to talk about quality. Designing in MS Word is not ideal for going on press. I bring this up because I was called in to rescue a job created this way. Quality matters. I can’t stress this enough. Why would you pay a lot of money to print books with hard covers and design the job in MS Word? I can’t believe how often I come across well-meaning clients trying to save some money by creating something in MS Word only to find out their efforts were in vain. The project is unprintable. Now, the printer has to redo the files at a cost to the client or (if it will even print) it will be pixelated garbage. Am I being too harsh? Maybe, but I think that if you’re going to spend the money to professionally print it, it should be the best quality possible. That doesn’t happen without some print knowledge. It’s not just about having a nice design, there are other factors to be considered. Are you placing photos?  Images need to be hi-res (300dpi) for print as well as in “CMYK”, not “RGB”. And, tiffs trump jpgs when printing. Is it a multi-page book? Saddle-stitched or perfect binding? You need to consider page counts differently for each, saddle-stitched is divisible by 4. These are just a couple of things to consider when creating a file to be professionally printed. Look, MS Word has its place in the office. It’s great for meeting agendas and letters that you are printing on your copier. Anything going to a real printer, do not use it. Leave it to the pros using design software set up to reproduce beautifully. Your printer will thank you and your project will look polished and professional. Below are links for file formats from some past blogs, they help sort through some of the formats I mention above. Check them out:  Making Sense of Logo File Formats: Learning What’s What How to tell if you have high- or lo-resolution art or photos and will it print...

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3 Takeaways from a Growth Hacking Brit

Last week I was at an event which discussed growth hacking. What’s that? Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. ~ wikipedia.org Vincent Dignan, who is very good at this, came to NYC from London to share some tips. My top takeaways from the meeting may surprise you. While there are some great tools and apps I learned about (and will share), three things stuck most. This hardworking, social media expert is doing speaking engagements andnetworking. He finds them extremely valuable. He said, “it’s underrated.” How does this relate to non-profits? Getting in front of your audience and letting them know your story helps build trust. Don’t hide behind your computer and hope to go viral with just social media. Speaking at a conference gets you in front of a large audience at once. Networking consistently or even hustling every night for two weeks could grow your audience by 500. Another goodie, pick up the phone, (love this 😍). When everyone relies on email and social media, sometimes you just need to dial. People have a much harder time saying no over the phone. While social media can get you more page views and build your list, continue your email marketing. Showing up in people’s inboxes is powerful. “Email is 40x as effective as Facebook and Twitter combined.” Do you really need another reason? Vincent also shared some really great apps which I will be testing over the next few months and will let you know what I’m finding successful. One I’m particularly excited about is Optimizely. They have a free version and it allows you to A/B test areas on your website. Sumome is another. It allows you to add useful tools to your website easily and helps grow your website’s traffic. Check them out and give me a call if you want to discuss a strategy on how to utilize these apps best. He also mentioned strategies for handling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and several other social media platforms. The best advice regarding them is to start with one and do it consistently. Yes, there are tools out there to schedule posts, tweets, etc. but unless you have a dedicated staff person to handle all your social or you hire out, it’s best to stick with one channel and work it. Of course, if you want to hire social out, I know several great people to handle that for you and am happy to make the introduction. This was one of the better events I’ve been to and there was an incredible amount of information passed on. Check out Vincent’s video when you have 30...

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Let’s talk color and connected paper

In design news, every January unveils the color of the year. For the first time, Pantone® introduced two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as their Color of the Year 2016. (FYI: Pantone is the standard language for color communication. It gives designers, printers, and clients a way to discuss color and have an accurate description. If you have heard me say “What’s your ‘PMS’ color?” that is referring to Pantone’s color system. I explain color breakdown here.) But how does the color of the year affect your organization? Do you need to incorporate new colors into your marketing? The short answer is “No.” You definitely want to stay on brand with your corporate colors. But it’s nice to know what is trending for the year. The color of the year represents more than color, it’s the mood of consumers and that in itself is helpful for your marketing. For example, Pantone suggests that “Consumers are seeking mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent.” Knowing this, you might choose a different premium to offer in your next direct mail package or giving campaign. Or with that in mind, the food and music at your next gala will reflect this vibe. So whether or not you agree with Pantone for the colors they awarded 2016, it does make you stop and think. Last Fall Moo.com launched Business Cards+. It’s pretty cool, it has an NFC chip embedded in it that enables NFC chip reading mobile devices, currently Android and Windows phones, the ability to tap the card and bring up content. What content? Anything from donation pages and signup forms from your website to videos and music. This isn’t just a business card. I see this as a way to increase donor engagement. Imagine having a place card for each guest at your gala? They tap the card with their phone and it shows them a video of your mission or perhaps you want them to land on a survey. The possibilities are limitless, check out their video. What do you...

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Thank you, here is a handy little branding guide…

Most of the year we are focused on serving and growing the missions of our various businesses and organizations. And while we are still wrapping up year-end content, there is time to reflect and connect with the people we work with. Whether you celebrate Chanukah or Christmas, I want to say, thank you and wish you a wonderful holiday season! In case you missed it, here is a link to my “Visual Identity Guide for nonprofits”. I created this back in the spring, it’s a helpful resource for...

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