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Small Business Marketing – The Essential UTM Creator

If your responsibilities as a marketer include managing your company’s email or newsletter, then you know how important it is to also track the results from those campaigns using UTMs* – and a handy UTM creator will make your life easier. You may have links to several articles in your newsletter, or you may be using a call-to-action (CTA) to connect readers to your Facebook page or Instagram feed. Either way, you’ll want to track each CTA with unique UTM parameters, so that you know which items are of most interest in engaging your audience. (For you data-driven marketers out there, a UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) is simply a tag appended to the end of a link, which allows you to track specific campaigns and traffic sources in your Google Analytics account.) Many of you may already be creating UTMs, but struggle with building and keeping track of them in an organized way – at Cardphile, we sure did until now. We’ve just recently discovered this genius little UTM Creator and wanted to share it with you! You can even hook it up to your bit.ly account and it automatically generates and saves your new shortlinks to a spreadsheet.

Step 1: Visit effinamazing.com, click on “Get it” and follow the steps in the great instructional videos for a free trial (no affiliate marketing for us – we just like the tool). If you like it, it’s only $5/month or $50 for a whole year of unlimited use. That’s a bargain in our book.UTM creator tool for marketers

Step 2: Watch the videos, sign up and connect a gmail account (see our tips below), then grab the Effin Amazing UTM Builder extension from the Chrome Web Store and add to your Chrome toolbar. utm creator setup videos and support

Step 3: Connect it to your bit.ly account, set your presets and you’re off to the races!the essential UTM creator tool for marketers

A couple tips that have worked for us:

  1. Create a shared gmail account if you want multiple team members to have access to the same tool and saved google docs sheet.
  2. Consider re-using your shiny new UTMs for recurring items – like your logo header in a monthly newsletter for example.

*If you’re new to using UTMs – you’ll find a very thorough explanation about what they are, and how to use them to accurately track your referral traffic, by downloading this free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to UTMs, written by the folks at effinamazing.com (yeah, funny name but super helpful people).

We hope you’ll enjoy this great little time-saving tool. Let us know what you think!

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Does Your Millennial Understand the Art of Mailing a Thank You Card?

Once again, we’re going to wax nostalgic about the (almost) lost art of letter-writing; or in this case, thank you card writing. It’s an art suitable for all occasions, both personal and professional.

Professional Thank You Card Green Flourish
This would be especially nice if you’ve just interviewed with an interior design firm.

By all appearances, there’s a group of folks entering the workforce today who may not know how to address an envelope (see below), or business correspondence. My own 27-year-old nephew recently had what is usually described as a ‘senior moment’ when he momentarily blanked on how to fill out a check. With options like email and Venmo, these skills simply aren’t needed as often as they once were. With all that said, I’ve also noticed that Millennials (they HATE that label, by the way… probably as much as they hate being broad-brushed) will, on occasion, embrace the analog life experience—sometimes when they think no one is looking, and other times when they want to appear quirky and hip. (I’ll bet they also don’t like to be analyzed) However it happens, the result will be a generation who will get the most out of multiple communication technologies, choosing the best of both.

Assuming I haven’t ‘clicked off’ any and all readers under the age of 30, I’d like to share the finer points of thank you note writing for those young job seekers, because it’s useful not only in personal communication, but in the business world as well.

Most recruiters and job coaching consultants will tell you that sending a note after an interview can put a candidate at the top of the heap Click To Tweet and assuming it’s done right, you have nothing to lose by expressing gratitude for the interviewer’s time. This is a good list of tips for making the right impression with your thank-you card. A few of the points are specific to emailed notes, but for the same reason we encourage printed cards in these matters, the advice that’s laid out for sending a physical card is spot-on.

Points to remember, especially when sending a thank you card or note after a job interview:

  • Quality (ink) pen – blue or black. No, not pink.
  • Perfect spelling, grammar, & punctuation.
  • Penmanship – practice your note on a piece of paper and edit it until you know it will fit on the thank you card.
  • Hand address the envelope – see our handy little diagram if you haven’t done this before!
  • Mention something specific to remind your interviewer about your meeting. (She may be interviewing many candidates, and your hand written thank you note will certainly help you stand out from the crowd.)
  • Don’t dawdle, your thank you card should be mailed the day of or the day after your interview.
  • By all means, send a thank you email too, shortly after the interview.

Obviously, you’ll use a good quality ink pen and excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation when you fill out the card, and you’ll tailor your message to your recipient. Keep it short, but mention something specific that you discussed with your interviewer (as noted in this post on Forbes).

Use it as an opportunity to show off a bit of your writing skill, they’ve already seen your résumé and know you’re good with technical communication, now give them a sample of your more creative, less formal writing style. Put the same care and attention into the envelope; use an appropriate stamp, address it neatly, put your return address and maybe a seal on it, and off it goes to represent you in the best possible way!

I love this BusinessNewsDaily blog post about thank-you cards because it addresses (pun intended) the excuses we use for not writing notes first thing, and POOF! they’re gone! Then it goes into the wonderfulness of the thank-you card, not the least of which is the magic power of a few kind words to cancel out a whole lotta rudeness.

how to address a thank you card
It’s always nice to find something that’s hand-addressed among the bills and junk mail

As life goes on, there will be a great many reasons to skillfully deploy a thank you note; weddings, graduations, fundraising thank yous, attendance of charity events, pulling you out of a burning car—basically any time someone does something nice for you or goes out of their way on your behalf. But for now, mastering the art for job-seeking or even advanced academic pursuits is a great start.

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There’s Nothing Worse Than Bad Business Cards.

Need Professional Business Cards, Click Here
Professional looking business cards are a marketing must.

There are many things you can learn about a company by their business cards; identity, clarity and corporate image to name a few.

Nothing says you mean business more than an awesome business card. Cards that really work are the ones which need no introduction. The recipient knows what the company does before they are introduced and a lasting impression has been successfully set.

As a member of the design profession, I have a personal interest in how firms and individuals handle this. I’m not obsessed, but close. I have two groups of cards that I have been collecting—the great, well designed & printed business cards and the… not so great. Within a small circle, my collection has become known as my reference library, my house of cards! When the opportunity arises, I also like to track the progress a company is making over time. Although business cards are just a small piece of paper, they also seem to function as a corporate weather vane.

High quality business cards represent your firm when you’re no longer in the room – don’t let them say the wrong things about you!

Generally speaking, when times are tough, a lot of companies seem to cut back in the wrong areas. Nothing screams that your business is in trouble like cutting back on the quality of your business cards. That’s the equivalent of telling your staff that every day is casual Friday.

Recently, I had a meeting with representatives of a large corporation. The interesting thing about the meeting was that not only had they scaled back on their business card printing quality but on the paper quality as well since the last time we met. This struck me as odd, because “quality” was part of  their core mission statement. One could assume that this was probably a good example of someone within the organization looking for places to cut costs and thinking that targeting the business cards was a good option. Shortly after the meeting, the company publicly announced that they were in the middle of a reorganization and cut-backs. Because of their size, the cost “savings” realized by choosing flimsier business card stock and cheaper printing probably amounted to a somewhat substantial savings on one level. However, on another level, it telegraphed trouble and probably wasn’t the impression their front line sales people wanted to leave with their clients.

For fun, I’ve compiled a list of the Bottom 10, painfully obvious, business card infractions.

 Each one on the list has been well represented in my pile of memorable business cards – but for the wrong reasons.

1. Dog eared.
2. Thin paper.
3. Dirty.
4. Raised thermal printing—usually in black ink.
5. Your name written on someone else’s card.
6. More fonts used than on a ransom note.
7. Cliché clip art.
8. More text and contact information than a phone book—if you’re old enough to remember them.
9. Not using the second side for clear branding.
10. Random graphics that don’t support your brand or type of business.

So don’t do any of that. Send your business card files to Cardphile and we’ll make sure you end up with high quality, printed business cards that look great at a price that won’t hurt. (Online business card ordering available here in April.)

What are your business card pet peeves? Let us know what you like – we listen!

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Design Tip: Converting to Black and White in Photoshop

I love discovering new design tools and techniques. And sometimes, when I do, I like to share them. For a while, I thought there were only two or three ways to convert to black and white, and that one of those ways was pretty much, everyone agreed, totally lame. Turns out, there’s at least eight. Here are four.

For the purpose of these tips, I’m assuming you’re an intuitive beginner at Photoshop and have already sorted out the layers panel. I’m also guessing you have a fairly recent version—CS3 or better.

Black and White adjustment layer i n Photoshop
I got the side-by-side effect by deleting a selection from the adjustment layer.

My favorite method is the Black and White adjustment. Add a B&W adjustment layer (either from the layer menu up top, or the row of icons at the bottom of the layers panel [the half moon]) above your color image, and start setting those six sliders where you want them. You have tons of control here, you can get some nice effects. But beware, you can also get some weird, blown-out details, and graininess. The red and blue on this plane’s wing were of particular focus for me as I made my adjustments.

This photo was taken at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon
This photo was taken at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.

I’ve also used the Channel Mixer, though you don’t have quite as much control over the tones—there’s only three sliders. Again, it’s a new adjustment layer, and when the box comes up, you’ll tick the ‘monochrome’ check box, and make sure your three values are always adding up to 100% as you fiddle with the sliders. This will do in a pinch, especially if you just don’t have time to make fine adjustments.

Gradient Map in Photoshop
Gradient maps are useful for more than just black and white.

The Gradient Map is fun to work with, and can be used with any two colors, not just black and white. In the image of the bi-plane, it’s slightly sepia-toned. And, of course, you’ll find it in the usual place, as an adjustment layer. When the box pops open, you can find additional gradients by clicking on the small down arrow at the right end of the sample of the current gradient, then clicking on the gear icon and choosing from the alphabetical list at the bottom.

Black and white adjustments in Photoshop
Trying out different tonalities with dual Hue/Sat adjustments.

Another common technique is the Hue/Saturation adjustment, but here’s the cool part—instead of one adjustment layer, you’ll use two, since a single layer wouldn’t be much more exciting than simply converting the file’s color mode to greyscale. Get the two layers in there in the usual way, name them if you want to. Your topmost Hue/Sat layer is simply adjusted so the saturation is -100 (all the way to the left). The layer under that, the one that’s right above the image, has one special element to it—the layer’s blending mode is set to ‘color.’ The blending mode selector, in case you haven’t worked with that yet, is above your list of layers right next to the opacity selector. Its default is ‘normal.’ Once you’ve set that, you can move the Hue slider on that middle layer around and experiment with the tonality. You can adjust the saturation and lightness, too, but the magic is in the hue adjustment.

The good thing about all four of these methods is that the adjustments are all completely tweak-able until you flatten or save for web. Of course you’ll always exercise due diligence and talk to the folks who will be printing the piece to find out what kind of files they need. Any design is only as good as how well it prints. The good news is, they’re just as committed to the quality of the printed piece as you are, and will mostly be quite helpful.

Try some of these techniques on your next design project – perhaps a gorgeous custom corporate holiday card design that we can turn into a beautiful printed piece for you here at Cardphile (complete with envelopes so all you have to worry about is the design!)

Have questions about this or any of our other designs tips? Post them here and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.

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Design Tip: Avoiding Glare on Eyeglasses in Group Photos

We often print staff photos in our customized business holiday cards, and it’s not uncommon to end up with glare on the lenses of subjects’ eyewear. It may not seem like a big deal, but at the very least, it can make a great picture not so great, and at worst can make the person appear… otherworldly, for lack of a better term. In a large portrait of just one or two people, it’s easier to control the lighting, and to edit any anomalies. With a smaller group photo, one person with blanked-out eyes can ruin the picture—and editing efforts can make it worse. Imagine your eight-person office staff in matching Santa hats in a fun snapshot, but with Regional Manager Ed’s eyes hidden behind an eerie pale glow. His clients will never trust him again! Okay, maybe it’s not that dire, but it is distracting, and perfectly preventable.

Lighting is the first and most obvious preventative measure. Assuming you don’t want to hire a professional photographer, (and honestly, you probably don’t have to) you can capture your image in an area with non-harsh lighting coming from multiple angles. Ideally you can use a blend of natural and indoor light sources. You may also be able to employ some semi-opaque plastic sheeting to diffuse light; and have a ‘spotter’ directing your very patient subjects. This is obviously the non-spontaneous way to capture your image, and can yield fantastic results, depending on circumstances.

If you don’t need your subjects to look posed, you can try out the rapid fire setting on your camera, like those fancy fashion photogs in the movies. Take twenty or so shots in succession as they’re belting out a holiday song or adjusting their Santa hats and giggling at each other—something like that. Tell them a knock-knock joke, or give them alcohol if you have to. Or both.

Back to seriousness, an oft-used technique for ensuring glare-free lenses, one that is appreciated by design departments far and wide, is two back-to-back shots—one of the bespectacled folks with glasses on, and one with them off. If you have a composition, props, and lighting conditions that you really like, this is a good way to ensure your custom photo holiday cards will look their best. Send both images in with your order, and we’ll have the extra shot as a back-up for any editing needs. Of course, you could get lucky and get a perfect pic the first time. But if you’re like the rest of us, and/or if you have trouble getting a dozen near-sighted engineers to sit still, it’s probably a good idea to take that extra step.

In case none of the above work out for you, our design department has some pretty cool tricks. More likely than not, we can make it work. It’s what we do.

Designer Tips for fixing reflections from eyeglasses in photoshop
Don’t let one bad reflection spoil your image!

 

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Thank-You Cards and the Magical Power of Stamps

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”
—Mark Twain

That’s what thank-you cards do, they brighten someone’s day. The little bit of effort that goes into choosing an image and sentiment, and signing your name, then dropping it in a box for delivery by a real, live person—that act of putting a paper card in someone’s hand is always appreciated. And postage stamps get them there. A simple sticker—a little work of art—sends your card or letter along its journey to your recipient. Think about it. For just a few cents, your personally written holiday greeting card or thank you card can travel up to thousands of miles until it settles nicely into the hand of your recipient. And all that without any extra baggage fees. There’s a reason this method of communication has been around for centuries.

Here and now in the digital age, we’ve noticed that the elements of a mailed greeting card can be made that much more special with just a small amount of effort:

Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night...
It’s not a white owl, but it works just as well.
  • Stamps come in many designs and genres—from historical, to whimsical, to literary—even inspiring.
  • Hand addressing your envelope with a quality ink pen gives it an elegant touch.
  • You can have fun with the return address, using those pre-printed labels we all get from our insurance companies, or a rubber stamp—and you can return address it on the back or the front, depending on your personal preference.
  • Envelope seals are also a nice addition, and they work equally well with pointy-flapped envelopes as well as square flap announcement style envelopes.
  • Of course, this is all before you even get to the card itself!
Envelope seals for that final touch of class
Seals also look nice on a straight flap.

Whose day will you make today? At Cardphile, we think it’s time to make business personal again. So we’re now shipping all corporate holiday card orders with a beautiful thank you card printed on our elegant “ART” cardstock. It comes with a stamped envelope, ready to go—to make someone, somewhere feel appreciated. Join the movement – make someone’s day better, and be sure to tell us how you used it!

Read our earlier post for 3 tips on writing business thank you notes. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you looking professional. Oh, and don’t forget the seal!

Coming soon: teaching your millennial the art of mailing a letter. (we know it sounds like satire, but it’s not)

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Charity Christmas Cards to Support Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation

Cards for Kids is a collection of artwork from patients of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and their siblings with the help of professional artists and the Friends of Doernbecher volunteers. The art is produced as classic greeting cards available for purchase year-round.

1907DPK-Ornaments
Color and whimsey sure to make the hum-buggiest of them crack a smile

We can personalize the lovely little art pieces for your holiday cards. Click here to find out how.

Of course, in addition to these gorgeous cards, you can always make a direct donation to the Doernbecher Foundation and the Cards for Kids program.

Or call 800-800-9583 to be directed to staff able to accept donations.

We’ve been in this business for over 25 years, producing creative greetings with the simple goal of just brightening someone’s day. But it wasn’t until a couple years ago, when we started working with the Doernbecher Foundation that we realized that we’d only just ‘completed’ our product line. We first featured the Cards for Kids collection in 2013, and now we can’t imagine these fantastic designs not being a part of our workday. We’ll keep producing the art as long as the kiddos will have us!

Please spread the word to your friends and business associates by sharing this page (or bookmark and visit again to be the first to see new Doernbecher cards). Let them know they can send high quality business holiday cards while making a significant contribution to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation at the same time. We also have individual holiday card packages available for your personal Christmas cards – with Donation Cards for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s day coming soon!

It’s another way to Do Well by Doing Good—for kids all across the country.

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Cardphile Holiday Cards—A True Customer Tale

Richard, a Cardphile customer since 1994, called up a few days ago to order his business holiday cards for 2013, and shared a great story with us.

Richard’s story:

After mailing my Cardphile holiday cards out one year, a customer called up and gave me three huge jobs that I was so thankful for. At the end of the conversation, I asked why he chose our firm for the jobs? My customer then replied, “Because you mailed me a holiday card.

TRUE STORY from Richard, in Glenview, Illinois! So when was the last time you invested $1.20 in your marketing budget to get a $5 million return?

customizable business holiday cards for engineers and architects
Customizable: for Architects & Engineers

We’ve heard this more than once from our customers, and when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When was the last time receiving an e-card made you feel special? (Right, we didn’t think so.)

At Cardphile, we love designing and printing customized business holiday cards for architects and engineers. And we’re thrilled when we hear that they not only spread good cheer, but that they help your business’ bottom line too.

Thank you, Richard!

Do you have a Cardphile story to share?

 

 

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Architecture Christmas Cards—Cardphile Makes Them Yours!

Picky, picky, picky… That’s what you architects are. But at Cardphile, we don’t mind, because we are too!

And we do love designing Christmas cards for architects – after all, that’s where we started way back in 1989 (with the first six cards).

Some of you say “That card is perfect just the way it is.”  And we’re pretty happy when that happens.

Others, and you know who you are, say “Could you move that… line up just a smidge? Hmmm, how about down 1.5 millimeters… That’s good. Now, could you show it to us in a slightly more persimmony color? I have this paint chip I can send you, could you match this paint chip from our wall? Yes? Fantastic! I’ll overnight it to you so you’ll have it first thing in the morning.”

“And you know those little red and blue houses on the front of that card? Could you make them a nice, rich umber color and put our initials on them?”

Followed by… “It looks great now but, um, could you change that font back to Gill Sans after all?”

So if you’re looking for unusual and modern holiday cards for architects, give us a call and talk to a Cardphilean! Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll give you solid advice on the most cost effective ways to customize our greetings and make them your own.

Not too hot. Not too cold… Just right!

mmmModernist 3501

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Construction Christmas Cards with a Cardphile Twist

Structural Steel Holiday Lift 3106
3106 Structural Steel Lift (customizable)

Is this your task today?

Shop for a construction holiday card that reflects your company’s industry and culture without breaking the bank.

If that’s the case, we’d love to help. And we might have a few ideas to help you send a unique holiday greeting card to clients you value—without blasting through the marketing budget.

Step 1: Find a greeting card company small enough to listen to your needs, and big enough to craft top quality greetings. (Ahem, if you’re reading this, you’ve already discovered that Cardphile greeting cards are the perfect solution to Step 1—our greeting cards never look like they came out of your office inkjet or photocopier…)

Step 2: Browse our construction Christmas cards and choose a design. Many of our holiday cards allow you to incorporate your company name and logo on the card front for no additional charge. And if you find one you’d like to modify, just do what this client focused, Miami engineering firm, m2e Consulting Engineers, did!

Step 3: Call Cardphile and say, “Hey, can you put our logo in that little red square thing on the front of card 3106?” For a few extra bucks, our designers will do all the work to incorporate your full color logo, AND send you a proof, AND send you another proof if you want to see it in a different color or scale…. until you’re thrilled with the results.

Step 4: Ta-Da! You’ve got yourself a unique holiday greeting card that will stand out from all the rest. Now do the right thing, and make the time to sign them and maybe even write a note near the imprinted verse to let your clients know your message is genuine – it makes a difference!

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Industry Specific Business Holiday Cards For Engineers

What’s your industry? At Cardphile, we love a challenge and the more unusual the better. One of our long time customers, Robert, is in the acoustical engineering field. While he’s enjoyed sending Cardphile’s engineering themed Christmas cards to his clients for years, he had been bugging us a bit to design a new holiday card specifically for his industry. And when you ask nicely, we can’t resist.

Christmas card design for acoustical engineering
Keeping it Below 80dB

Although Robert had already placed his order early this year (to take advantage of our early bird holiday card discounts, by the way), one of our customer service specialists familiar with Robert’s plight collared a designer and asked him to come up with something special.

Voila, “Keeping it Below 80dB” was born! Robert was very happy with the results and so were we. And he’s now the first kid on his block with Cardphile’s new engineering holiday card for acoustical engineers! Robert inspired us and we certainly enjoyed the challenge of coming up with something memorable for such an important engineering specialty, and one which provides great environmental benefits for us all. “Have a Quiet Day,” as Robert likes to say!

What do you think? Do you have a niche industry in need of creative holiday greeting cards? Tell us what you need and we’ll do our best to deliver.

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The Higgs Boson Corporate Holiday Card… We Couldn’t Resist

But now we have a Higgs Boson Particle Dilemma.

Now that we know it exists, our designers were determined to make it visible to the rest of the world – so we told them to have a go at it. We’re not sure what those crazy astrophysicists at CERN will be up to next, but for Cardphile the next big hurdle is to determine the accent color to be used on our latest design—the new Higgs Boson holiday greeting card!

Higgs Boson holiday greeting card for architects and engineers—classic design
Higgs Boson Classic
Higgs Boson holiday greeting card for architects and engineers—sporty
Higgs Boson Sporty

The boson particle is playfully depicted in a galaxy of electronic ångströmic matter and framed with an atomic scale along both the x and y axis… (You’re right, we really don’t know what we’re talking about here, but we were inspired by the discovery – and we think this might be the perfect business Christmas card for the nerdy firms among you!)
The problem is, our greeting card designers came up with two versions, and we’re having a little trouble deciding which one should make it into the Cardphile Fall 2012 Holiday Greeting Card Catalog – will you help us decide?

Option one is set in a classic white frame, while option #2 is a bit more racy with its bright red accents.

Please help us out and Vote Now to break the stalemate!