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.
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!
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!
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!
Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to keep in touch with clients without feeling pushy. That’s where our corporate logo note cards come in. These little business thank you notes are the perfect vehicle for your handwritten note of appreciation—elegant, well-traveled and worldly!
We’ve designed them just right too—not too big (so you don’t have to write a novella) and not too small (so they disappear in the mail room). Send us your logo and we’ll do all the work, customizing your cards to help you build brand identity.
Here are some excuses, if you need them, for building business relationships:
Spent weeks putting together a big proposal? Don’t forget to thank everyone on the team; staff, vendors, and the guy who runs the copy machine.
Stay in touch
Business relationship anniversary
Your corporate thank you cards should always be hand-written, by the way, and we think that it’s worth the trouble to find a pen with real ink—ball point pens are so yuk. We also suggest practicing your thank you note on another piece of paper first—you’ll waste fewer cards that way and ensure that your note looks professional and your signature doesn’t fall off the edge of the card.
It’s OK to have your return address printed on the back of the envelope, but you should always hand write the recipients’ address on the front—no stickers here.
And remember, back away from the postage meter and use real stamps!
At Cardphile, we’re big enough to get the job done right, but not so big we can’t listen and respond quickly to your feedback. Read our latest tale from the business holiday card front lines:
One of our early construction holiday card designs (I-Beam Happy) is a perennial favorite among those of you who have been ordering construction Christmas cards from Cardphile for many years. Strangely, it had disappeared from our website for awhile and when some of you complained about its absence and asked if it was still available, we popped it back onto the site. (If you have a favorite that you don’t see, by the way, just give us a call, it may still be available.)
It wasn’t long before a brand new customer called, in distress.
Their team really loved the design and felt it was the perfect construction greeting card to represent their company, BUT our hook was not OSHA compliant—OH NO!
Customer Service immediately sprinted to the art department (OK it’s only about 25 feet away), to see if we could fix the problem.
Our original, archived art files were quickly opened and reviewed.
OSHA Compliant safety hooks were researched.
Art Department people high-tailed it back to Customer Service:
Voila! We now offer what we believe is the very first, OSHA Compliant Construction Holiday Greeting Card for Architects, Engineers and Construction companies: AEC 3102 – OSHA Compliant I-Beam Happy! Or do you think we should call it, “I-Beam Happier?”
At Cardphile, “Safety is #1!” Well, right after listening to all of you, of course.
So, if you want to be sure your business Christmas cards are OSHA Compliant, just give us a call. We’re not only safe, but we use recycled and FSC certified papers, and our production facilities are 100% wind-powered!
Simply put, the annual SMPS Build Business Conference is a must for today’s AEC marketing professional—and it’s (almost) never too late to register to attend this year’s SMPS conference. They are generally held in August, and in different cities each year. It’s a great way to learn from your peers, network, and see the sights.
These days, chances are good that everyone in your organization or firm has been called up to assist in finding leads, assembling proposals and pitching in where they can in your marketing program. It’s no secret that the current business economy is recovering at a very slow rate. The question is, “Can we afford to grow at the same rate as the economy, or do we need to implement measures to accelerate our own growth?”
Most will agree, it’s an unqualified “yes” to the latter. And the Build Business conference, hosted by the SMPS (Society for Marketing Professional Services) is the place to get the tools you need to grow your business.
Held annually, the SMPS Build Business Conference provides marketers in the A/E/C industry with multiple opportunities to learn more about addressing the challenges they face. The conference is broken up into multiple tracks, each focusing on a specific area of marketing and skill levels.
Learn from dynamic keynote speakers and take advantage of unparalleled networking opportunities to bring home the business!
Attendees can choose from over 30 learning sessions and more than 15 hours of continuing education.
Learn about new marketing methods of the future and become reacquainted with the traditional methods that still work.
Discover how to identify new business opportunities in hot local, regional and global markets, as well as how to position your firm to compete in those markets.
Learn to better differentiate your firm from the competition.
Network with some of the savviest Architectural, Engineering and Construction marketers in the country and exchange ideas.
Oh, and wind it all up with what looks like one heck of a party – the SMPS Awards Gala is open to all conference attendees.
Cardphile has a long-standing relationship with the SMPS, and a great appreciation for their support of the markets we both serve. We offer assistance with SMPS’ print collateral whenever possible because we believe in the importance of good marketing programs, and support the efforts of the SMPS in keeping the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industries current and healthy. If you, or someone in your firm, are not already a member of SMPS – put that at the top of your marketing to do list this year!
The AEC industry is one of our favorites, and Cardphile has been designing and manufacturing customized calendars, personalized note cards and holiday greeting cards for architects,engineers and construction professionals since 1989. If you received one of this year’s Build Business Conference Awards Gala invitations last week, that’s some of our handiwork! Cardphile has always used recycled paper and sustainably sourced papers from managed forests—that’s why we printed this year’s gala awards invitation and envelopes on environmentally friendly, FSC certified, pearlescent paper using our 100% wind powered printing processes.
We have many “off the shelf” solutions available if you’re looking for business holiday cards, recycled greeting cards and other printed marketing collateral, and you should definitely give us a call if you’re looking for a more custom project. We work with many companies across the country to deliver their own branded printing projects, from custom Christmas cards and corporate Thanksgiving cards to project completion photobooks and AEC presentation materials – Call us to discuss your ideas! (1.800.774.5857)
You’ve been asking, so we did the research: How to write a professional business thank you card. We’ll tell you what to include, what to avoid, and then go on to the specifics of salutations and closings.
Now, before you get too worried, keep in mind that the fact that you are even bothering to send a business note of appreciation at all will set you apart from the crowd. And while there’s almost no way to go wrong when you are saying “thank you”, here are some general guidelines to keep you on the right track.
Your tone in writing a business thank you note should be friendly and professional. Do not use slang or be overly familiar (especially if your note is to follow up on a job interview), unless the relationship is long-standing and familiar.
Your business thank you cards should always be hand written.
Use a pen with real ink. Felt tips or liquid ink are fine and it is perfectly OK to choose a pen that complements your handwriting. Do not use pencil, and avoid ballpoint pens.
Be reasonable when choosing the color of your pen. Pink may be fun, but does that really convey a business-like impression?
Check your speling! (heh). Seriously, spelling counts and there’s no excuse for misspelled words in a hand-written corporate thank you card. Just write a quick rough draft in any word processing application and spell check first. You can even use the spell check function in gmail or most mail clients to eliminate spelling errors.
Writing up a quick rough draft of your thank you card will also save you from having to toss out thank you cards with mistakes or those that “just don’t sound quite right” once you’ve written them.
Now on to the Nitty-Gritty-Miss-Manners part of writing proper thank you cards for business:
Salutation: Address the recipient as “Dear [Name],”. In general, it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose the more formal path: “Dear Mr. Smith,”. It is also acceptable to say “Hello Mr. Smith,”. This is not the place to say “Hey Bob,”.
Express your gratitude: A simple, one line sentence expressing your thanks for the event/meeting/ feedback, etc.
Continue with something specific about your conversation or meeting: Be sincere, and clearly express your appreciation for the giver’s time and effort by describing how it helped you.
Closing: You have a few choices here.
For someone you don’t know well (an interviewer for example), “Sincerely,” or “Yours Sincerely,” is the most appropriate.
“Many Thanks,” or “Best Wishes,” is perfectly appropriate for someone with whom you are more familiar (a manager or co-worker).
Save the “Love from,” for friends and family!
Are you a job seeker? Pay close attention:
An employer we read about recently, said that following up with an appropriate business thank you card is almost mandatory these days, and careerbuilder.com even lists sending a prompt thank you card as an important part of your post-interview strategy (see item #5 and #10 in their list of “10 things to do after the interview“). A well-written (hand-written, of course) business thank you note sent to your potential employer will demonstrate your maturity, responsibility, and ability to follow through with the important details. It’s also something many of your peers will neglect to do—what better way to stand out from the crowd? (We hope it goes without saying that you should be careful not to sound like you already have the job?)
And always be sure to write a thank you note to anyone who has provided you with a letter of reference.
Do you have questions or your own suggestions for writing business thank you notes? Enter them in the comments (or just send us an email) and we’ll do our best to include the answers and share your tips in Part 4 of the series.
Next up: Part 4 – Answering your questions + a list of great opportunities for sending thank you cards and business note cards to nurture relationships with the customers you serve.
It’s time to make business personal again—learn what one of our engineering customers discovered about nurturing relationships during a long term project:
Proper care of your customer doesn’t end when you get the contract—it’s almost more important to nurture your business relationship during the project than it is upon completion, especially in the case of long term and complex collaborations. We all know that you usually get more of what you reward, so be sure to recognize and “reward” client behavior.
One of our larger engineering customers kept re-ordering a custom engineering thank you card we had designed for them using their logo, and they were ordering to the tune of about 100 of them each month! Needless to say, that’s a few more than most firms usually order and we were curious. It turns out that they were using these mighty little business note cards to thank (“reward”) client team members at all levels for their timely follow up to questions, meetings, and requests for information.
The engineering firm calculated that this simple technique alone had saved massive amounts of “aggracost”, headed off potential misunderstandings, and helped them to meet milestones on time or early—all while building a much richer relationship with their client. They didn’t replace the standard project communications, but these little corporate note cards served to build a collaborative relationship with their client that was profitable for both.
And guess which engineering firm now regularly receives referrals from that same client?
Things to keep in mind:
If you are writing a business thank you card on behalf of your organization, have good quality custom, corporate logo note cards printed and keep a supply on hand. Suitable for many different occasions, professional logo note cards build and reinforce your brand, and are just as important as good quality business letterhead and business cards.
Keep a book of stamps handy—nothing stops the mail, or you, like the lack of a stamp.
Remember, clients and customers are not transactions, so don’t treat them as if they are. It’s time to make business personal again—like it used to be.
What methods have you found to nurture your business relationships?
In spite of the fact that Americans seem to take fewer vacations than the rest of the world, many of us still face the challenge of how to connect regularly with clients, especially over the summer. It seems to be even more difficult to make regular contact when we’re distracted by the heat, the kids, and the sun.
Face it, your contacts are busy. Very busy.
Emails bounce or get buried in the inbox.
A phone call may be an unwelcome interruption.
Let’s say you need to keep in touch with your client, the administrator of a hospital or other large organization. You’ve done business in the past, and you want to be sure your firm is considered for any new projects. How will you know if your contact moves on to another position within the organization or even to another firm?
Make professional, business thank you cards an important part of your business marketing collateral.
One easy (and effective) way to stay in touch and keep contact information current is to mail business greeting cards. For the amazing price of a 44 cent stamp, the post office will transport your business note card across town, or across the country, and deliver it into the real, personal mail box of your recipient. Not only that, but they’ll even send it all the way back to you if the address you have on file is no longer correct. And if it’s a recent move, they’ll provide you with the new address. Now that’s good value!
Suppose you discover that your client has moved on—what a perfect opportunity to reach out and connect again. Learn more about what’s going on in their world and how your firm might help. Maybe a business note of congratulations is in order, or perhaps it will be more appropriate to thank them for their previous business and wish them well in the new position. Either way, you’ve established fresh contact without being a nuisance, and you’ve demonstrated that you actually value the relationship enough to go to a little extra trouble to keep in touch. Who do you think will come (favorably) to mind next time your services are needed for a referral – you or the guy who robo-calls every other Tuesday?
Remember, reaching clients and customers in multiple ways is important, and you’ll be amazed how your real paper “object” (a hand written, corporate logo note card or elegant business thank you note) arriving in the mail stands apart from the digital clutter to connect you again with your client. And if high quality products or service are an important aspect of your business, be sure that you take the time to select high quality thank you cards for business that will represent your brand well. Better yet, keep custom corporate logo note cards on hand—they are perfect for a wide range of messages and will help to build your brand identity each and every time you use them.
Have a look at one of our new architectural holiday cards – “Retro Metro Perspective Order!” (AEC 3019).
Actually, you don’t even have to be in the architectural profession to have fun sending out this holiday greeting card for your business—you just have to be a little adventurous.
We can even incorporate the printing of your company name on the front of this card for a highly personalized, business greeting card at no extra charge.
Step it up a notch with your full color logo on the signature line inside, along with your own custom verse or greeting – heck, we’ll let you write a book if it fits!
Cardphile’s graphic designers do all the work to lay out your personalized greeting and we even provide you with a free proof for your review prior to printing your business Christmas cards, so you never have to worry. Not too big, not too small, your corporate holiday cards will look just right.
The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan got us to thinking. First of all, if you haven’t hugged your structural engineer lately, you should probably do that now. While their jobs aren’t the most glamorous, their work in Japan, along with some pretty stringent building codes, clearly saved many lives. And since Cardphile’s holiday greeting card design and printing facility in Portland shares a similar earthquake risk zone, we took some notes and decided it was time to take a good look at our warehouse.
Stock shelves all strapped down and secured? …Oops!
So we called up one of our local engineering friends and arranged for a review.
Turns out, while most of our warehouse was in pretty good shape, there were definitely a few places that needed some attention. Although it was well within code, he saw a few things stacked just a little bit too high….
Other items he suggested:
Additional rack anchors. This was suggested because the thickness of the base plates and concrete floor are adequate to support it. Again it was going beyond code for our area, but cheap insurance. Good Idea!
Add “drag struts” to the top levels of shelving. Another inexpensive, but highly effective technique to reduce potential damage and injuries.
Other suggestions were to add diagonal bracing or rigid frames. However, since this was going to be quite a bit more expensive, and exceed the structural integrity of the building shell, we decided it would be more logical to just restrict the storage height.
Identify safe zones for everyone to go which have few overhead or large items. Even items like overhead lighting, ceiling tiles, bookshelves, filing cabinets and yes, even our lunch room fridge can become a hazard during a significant earthquake.
Define a central place for everyone to gather after an earthquake so all can quickly be accounted for. Keep in mind that it should also be free of overhead obstacles.
We were surprised to discover that it doesn’t have to be expensive: a few simple changes can help you protect staff and make your work environment a lot safer.
We’re as likely as anyone else on the Pacific West Coast to avoid preparing for “the big one,” but seeing how our Japanese neighbors benefited from their rigorous building codes gave us pause for thought.
In much better shape now, we’ll have lots to talk about at the next office meeting.
The American Institute of Architects is also a great place to find an architect to help you with a review of your own workspace. Or, you could even give us a call – chances are pretty good that we’ll know a registered architect in your area!
(Oh, and here’s the engineering holiday card design our engineering friend picked out to send to his clients this Thanksgiving!)
Let us know if we missed anything – we’d love to hear your suggestions for how we can all make our offices safer places to work!
Short and sweet, here it is: Cardphile’s list of Top 10 Favorite Presentation Tips.
Why am I here? Align your goals with audience expectations. Like most things in life, your audience is almost always more interested in their own problems than in yours. This concept should guide your entire presentation.
Get to the point. Introduce the topic without too much talk about you.It’s just like your high school English teacher told you: Introduce your story, tell your story, conclude with a recap of the story. Beginning – Middle – End.
It’s Art + Science. Organize your content. Follow the Rule of Three to engage your audience. Design slides and choose props in creative, unexpected ways—avoid clutter. Deliver the message—be genuine and let your voice shine through—move around.
Do your homework. If you’re not the expert, you’ll need to become one. Make sure your understanding of the presentation material is comprehensive. Be organized and concise.
You’re the Boss. Don’t let your presentation software boss you around. Images convey concepts more quickly than text. Use good design and striking images to reinforce concepts—only use necessary text.
Practice. Find someone to listen and critique your presentation. Make changes based on their feedback, and then present again. Smooth presentations elevate the message, and are the result of organization and practice. Practice reduces anxiety.
Emergency plan. Know what you’ll do if the projector fails, your handouts are missing, the venue changes or, our personal favorite, you have the equivalent of a screaming baby in the front row.
Interact. Ask questions of your audience and, above all, listen!
Death by Handouts. High quality handouts and supplemental materials reinforce your message to attendees—but may be distracting if you hand them out before your presentation.
Leave before they kick you out!
We don’t claim to be the experts, but we’ve learned a lot from our customers over the years and we always try to share anything that might be useful.
A recent request from one of our architecture customers prompted a little research into creating successful presentations and proposals—and we thought we’d share what we learned in the process.
Brenda, partner in a consulting firm, is a long time customer of Cardphile’s corporate holiday cards. She gave us a call, initially just seeking a source for high quality printing of her presentation materials. After chatting about the project a bit, it turned out that she wasn’t entirely happy with the new brochure layout she had created.
One thing led to another, and we ended up working with Brenda’s marketing people on the design as well as the printing of a number of presentation materials for a project proposal. While we certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers, we came across some great resources and presentation tips during our research that we wanted to share with you.
Whatever your product or service, good design matters and sells—if you don’t think so, take another look at apple products.
Be genuine. Avoid canned slides and use color for emphasis—not decoration.
3 is a big deal—in graphic design and in written and verbal presentations.
Engage your audience in unexpected ways: Include an element of surprise. Why not use QR codes to engage your audience at the end of the proposal, and connect them to additional content. (Not sure what a QR code is? Learn more about QR Codes here.)
Be a boy scout: Yes, prepare for the unexpected and have options in place if the projector doesn’t work or there’s a screaming baby in the audience.
Practice, Practice, Practice. (Note the rule of 3 applied again here!)
End with high quality, printed presentation materials that will serve as a visual, tactile reminder for those attending the presentation—and provide the right reference information for those who did not. Product description sheets and proposal booklets are a great way to reinforce your message.
Too busy to check the resources? Just subscribe to our blog via email (top right) or check back later in the week—we’ve pulled more of them together for you in free a downloadable pdf – Cardphile’s Top Ten Presentation Tips.