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New Design: Hipster Holiday Greeting Cards for Architects

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.

Hipster Seasonal Greeting for Architects
3019 Retro Metro Perspective Order
  • 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.

Real, personalized holiday cards for business are a great way for architects (or anyone) to show their appreciation – seriously, you wouldn’t send an ecard to demonstrate your appreciation for a major commission would you?

There, we said it.

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Cardphile Trades Engineering Holiday Cards for Structural Review

Books Floor to Ceiling
Stacked a Little Bit Too High… Image credit: Krypto

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.

Here’s what we found:

  • Fire extinguishers? Check
  • First aid and medical kits? Check
  • 100% Windpower for all production? Check
  • Lunchroom fridge cleaned regularly? um… Action Item ;(
  • 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:

  1.  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!
  2. Add “drag struts” to the top levels of shelving. Another inexpensive, but highly effective technique to reduce potential damage and injuries.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Make sure your workplace is safe too. You can find a licensed engineer by checking in with the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Holiday Greeting Cards for Engineers and Architects
3018 Golden Gates Rust

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!

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Presentation Tips – What’s on Your Checklist?

Short and sweet, here it is: Cardphile’s list of Top 10 Favorite Presentation Tips.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Interact.
    Ask questions of your audience and, above all, listen!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to our earlier post on presentation tips for small business marketing and proposals where you’ll find additional information and links to some of the real experts in the field of presentation.

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Presentation Tips For Any Field: Create Great Architecture Proposals

Be Prepared for the Unexpected Image Credit: iskir
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Image Credit: iskir

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.
  1. Follow the Rule of Three – in writing & speaking
  2. Follow the Rule of Thirds – in design
  3. Be Simple, Be Clear, Be Brief!

Printed-Presentation-Materials

  • 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.

A couple of our favorite resources:

  1. Organize and Prepare
  2. Top 10 Delivery Tips
  3. Top 10 Slide Design Tips

Or follow Garr Reynolds online (No, we’re not related to Garr, we just think he does a great job!): http://presentationzen.blogs.com/

@presentationzen

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.

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Custom Business Note Cards—Why Didn’t We Think of That?

Custom-Business-Holiday-CardsOne of Cardphile’s best selling business holiday cards this past year allowed you to share your holiday wishes while showing clients who you are and what you do.

Our Office Triptych design allows you to customize the design with three of your own photographs – and many of you went to town. Some of you included team photos, and some of you went for product photos, or pictures of your office. From there, Cardphile did the color correction, coordinated border colors based on photo color, added little seasonal touches & logos on request, and—Voila! Great, custom business holiday cards ensued that helped you promote your brand while spreading holiday cheer.

Well, from the category of “Why didn’t we think of that?” came a great request from Jennifer W. a couple of weeks ago:

Could we modify their custom Christmas cards by removing the seasonal design elements and text, so they could use it for business thank you cards and congratulation notes all year long?Well, of course we could – and what a smart idea for a couple of reasons:

First, they had already invested a little bit of time and money in finding photos and setting up the original design, and we were more than happy to make the minor design changes that Jennifer was requesting for no charge at all.

Customizable Thank You Cards for Your Business Communications
Your Photos, Your Personalization

Second, keeping the original photos, while modifying other elements of the design, allowed them to continue to spotlight their brand and find ways to re-connect with clients and prospects throughout the year.

Developing a consistent brand image for all your business greetings is a great idea, and Jennifer gets the credit for this one! (We have a little thank you gift headed your way, Jennifer – hope you enjoy 😉

What have you learned from your customers so far this year?

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What is a QR Code and Why Do I Need One? 5 Things You Need to Know

  1. My QR Code is bigger than your Barcode.
    QR Codes are 2D—and carry data in both directions. So they can hold up to several 100 times the data held by an old fashioned barcode. They can contain all types of data too: alpha and numeric characters, language characters (Kana, Kanji, etc.), as well as symbols, binary and control codes.QR Codes Contain Layers of Data
  2. Beam me up, Scotty!
    Think of a QR Code as a way to “physically hyperlink” – to whatever you want. A quick scan with a smart phone and you connect offline print to mobile & online. A QR Code printed on your business card, tri-fold brochure, product tag or marketing postcard can initiate a call to your mobile phone, link to a special offer, website product page, online survey, or even your Twitter or Facebook account – the choice is yours!
  3. Give your printed business collateral some real muscle.
    QRCodeKidNot everyone is sitting at a desk or in front of a computer when reading a magazine or newspaper, but by scanning the QR Code in your ad with a mobile phone camera, readers can immediately find out more. Print QR Codes on business cards, brochures or product sheets – and you’ve built an instant bridge to guide visitors to any page on the web, where you can provide more detailed product information, offer a pdf download to their mobile device, show video demonstrations, testimonials or offer special promotions.
  4. Why are QR Codes important to you?
    Because your customers are on the move, and mobile marketing is the way to reach them. (According to this article last month in The Motley Fool, the Smartphone market is projected to grow 56% in 2011, an even faster rate than in 2010.
    Your customers are increasingly using mobile devices to learn what they need to know, at the moment they become interested—and QR Codes eliminate the need to type in a long or difficult web address or phone number. A quick scan and—zap! Your phone is ringing or your client is immediately learning more about what you want them to know.SmartPhoneGraph
  5. Strange but true.
    Although used primarily in printed marketing materials, a QR code can be scanned on your computer screen. Try it now – the QR codes in this article work – just scan them on your screen!

Step 1: Download and install a QR Code reader on your smartphone (see below).

Step 2: Use the camera on your smartphone to scan any 2D QR Code. The software will take whatever action has been programmed into the particular code.

Step 3: Have fun scanning QR Codes and discovering things. 

Resources and take-aways:

  • Most QR Code readers are completely free, and you can find a QR Code Reader here for just about any device. (iPhone users can just go to the app store.)
  • A word of caution. This is about mobile, so make sure that wherever your QR code leads—you’ve optimized the experience for mobile devices. Use applications such as Mobify or MoFuse to convert your existing site to mobile.

Ways to Use QR Codes:

  • Print a QR code on your product literature—link to a trade show demo or instruction manual.
  • Print QR Codes on your business cards—link to your LinkedIn page or website.
  • Print a QR Code on your next marketing postcard to announce a new staff member—and launch a webpage describing the skills she’ll bring to your firm.
  • Mail a Christmas card with a QR Code—and link to a video of the partners singing Jingle Bells!
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3 Tips for Business Thank You Cards—Good Manners Still Count!

Remember when Mom used to nag you to mail that thank you card after someone helped you out? Well, if your mother was a slacker in the manners department, we’re here to take her place! The world can always use a little more nice, and the business world is no exception. So don’t forget—sometimes it’s the little things that bring you the business.

3 Tips for Business Thank You Cards:

1. Don’t Type!

Your business thank you card should always be hand-written, hand-signed and hand-addressed. Since you care enough to say thank you in the first place, take the extra effort to select professional quality thank you cards, and then write your note by hand. Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and remembered in a world where many have forgotten their manners! (Here’s an earlier article if you want to learn more about how printed paper communications build a stronger connection than digital.)

2. Keep a Supply on Hand!

Save time and money by keeping a supply of thank you cards on hand, along with the stamps to mail them. It’s just like eating your veggies; you’re more likely to do it if they’re washed and ready to go. While you’re at it, have your return address printed on your envelopes—it’s elegant and appropriate for both business and personal use. One of our favorite tools for business use is Cardphile’s corporate logo, custom notecards. Personalized with your own logo, just the right size and suitable for any occasion, they’re an elegant way to promote your brand in business communications.

Evernote to Keep Track of Business Thank You Notes3. Keep Track!

Want to keep track of what you said? Evernote is a terrific tool for keeping a digital record of your handwritten thank you cards. The best part? Handwritten notes are searchable in Evernote—it’s magic! Just download the Evernote app to your smartphone, take a picture of what you wrote in your note, and email or upload the image to your free Evernote account – you’ll never have to worry about remembering what you said! For example, here’s a screen shot from my Evernote account: I could find this note in my account not only by searching for its label or tag, but even for whatever I can remember of the handwritten content – like “product pages” — how cool is that?!

Got a Suggestion for #4?

We’d love to hear how & when you use personal thank you cards to keep in touch with clients and business associates. Just let us know in the comments below and we’ll enter you in our monthly drawing for a free pack of Cardphile’s all purpose note cards with personalized envelopes to match.

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Corporate Holiday Greeting Cards and Small Business Marketing 2011

Holy moly – it’s 2011!

Cardphile-Customer-Service We do have to apologize for being out of the picture for a few weeks, blog-wise, but to be perfectly honest – the fur flies around here for the last 2 months of the year. Every single one of us pitches in wherever needed to make sure that your custom, personalized holiday greeting card designs from Cardphile are printed with care, quality checked, folded, strapped and shipped to you on time – so your business Holiday and Christmas cards look fantastic!

Customer service is also hugely important to us: one of the few rules at Cardphile is to respond to you quickly, and in person – whether you prefer phone or email. It doesn’t matter whether you only need a quick call or require specialized support in creating the perfect corporate holiday card, we make it a priority to keep in touch with you. Customer service at Cardphile is not just about keeping our sales promise; it’s also about making friends with you, answering all of your questions, and even tweaking your artwork or logos if that pesky designer who created it is nowhere to be found!

Our team is rested and excited to be back and kicking into gear on some great new ideas for marketing your small business in 2011; we’ll have newly designed greeting cards for architects, engineers, and all kinds of manufacturing and small business markets.

Stay tuned for more to follow on Cardphile’s print marketing and graphic design services for small and midsized business. And be on the lookout for a little competition we have coming up – you could win a chance to work with a Cardphile Greeting Card Expert to customize your 2011 holiday greeting card for free!

2011 is off to a great start, and we’re excited to help you freshen up your print marketing materials so your business will shine. Tell us what you need!

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Holiday Greeting Cards for Architects + Wind Turbines?

twelve_west-Portland
Photo © Tim Hursley

At Cardphile Greeting Cards, we have some cool stuff designed and built in our own backyard. Like this recently completed green building in Portland, designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects (ZGF) with lots of eco-bling!

We love the Skystream turbine array on top – apparently it’s not that easy to put wind turbines on a building and not drive the occupants crazy, but Skystream has figured it out – nicely designed too.

And not that we’re bragging, but Cardphile began sourcing windpower for our design and production studios many years ago. You can rest assured that all the custom corporate holiday cards for architects and personalized engineering holiday cards you’ve been sending to your clients have been sustainably designed and printed with the highest recycled paper content available.

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Cardphile Delivers Your Greeting Cards Through Wind, Ice & Snow!

Ever tried driving on ice in Oregon?

And did we mention that we have a lot of steep hills around here?

A bit like a nice layered cake, here’s what happens in Portland when you attempt to move a car on top of:

  1. Cold asphalt
  2. Warmish rain
  3. Colder rain
  4. Slushy ice
  5. + Snow on top – it’s so exciting! Take a peek at driving on icy hills in Portland.

We do have a winter storm headed our way before Thanksgiving, but never fear: at Cardphile, neither snow, sleet, ice nor Oobleck will keep us from getting your holiday greeting cards shipped out in time for the holidays!

 

portland ice and snow
Find Free Pictures at bigfoto.com
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4 Client Communication Tools That Work

The Professional Services Management Journal, PSMJ, can be a great resource for professional firms and their marketers. In particular, of course, we appreciated their mention of the value of the “two-minute” touch (including a hand written note to your clients).

In a nutshell:

  1. Schedule weekly calls for active projects.
  2. Assign one primary contact to pursue feedback.
  3. Ensure your project manager is keeping a to do list and checking things off.
  4. Make frequent “touches” – and a hand written note card is the perfect vehicle.

Goldilocks would approve—Cardphile has the perfect solution for your note card dilemma. Our custom, corporate logo note cards sport your own full color logo on the front, and are just the right size for a short note of thanks, appreciation or congratulation. We call them client communication tools, but you might call them business thank you cards.

Client Communication Materials

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5 Reasons to Send Real Paper Greeting Cards to Clients

Printed Cards Instead of E-Cards
Printed Holiday Cards Make a More Substantial Impression Than E-Cards
  1. e-Cards are known virus carriers and therefore filtered by most business email servers—they don’t even reach the inbox of many of your customers and vendors.
  2. When was the last time you “deleted” a real greeting card you received in the mail, without even opening it?
  3. Contrast: While your competition may be sending ” e-Greeting Cards” to express their appreciation… your traditional, personalized holiday greeting cards clearly demonstrate the greater value you place on the relationship.
  4. Deeper personal connections lead to stronger business relationships; and Paper leaves a deeper emotional footprint than digital. (see the data below)
  5. Cardphile’s Corporate Holiday Cards are designed and printed in the US, using only FSC certified papers and recycled content up to 100%. We also made the choice, well over 6 years ago, to source all of the power for our design & production facilities from 100% clean wind power farms in Oregon—we’ve been “green” since before it was fashionable!

The Details:

One of our long time customers, a mid sized architectural design build firm, asked us recently whether they should try sending e-Cards to their clients in place of real paper holiday greeting cards, and whether Cardphile could supply them.

So we were completely thrilled to be able to share this great article we just discovered: Paper leaves a deeper emotional footprint than digital.

It includes a link to an interesting case study by Millward Brown, a UK marketing firm, detailing their research. Guess what?  “real” printed media generates more emotion than virtual, thereby leading to more positive brand association.

So if you’re really serious about building good relationships with your clients, vendors, and prospects, don’t fill their in boxes with more emails to file. Instead, create a lasting, and enjoyable, impression by mailing them a high quality, unique, and personalized holiday greeting card.

Whether you’re looking for construction law greeting cards, holiday cards for architects, or just really interesting custom Christmas cards for business, we love to help your message stand out.

At Cardphile, every single design we make can be personalized with your thoughtfully written holiday greeting for free. Create even more of a lasting impression when you include your full color logo or printed signatures. And if you’re looking for custom holiday cards, we do that too!

Your overall marketing program should include personalized corporate holiday cards for your clients and vendors. Cardphile has 100’s of unique & non-denominational holiday greeting card designs, suitable for recipients of any faith, so you can express your best wishes to all.

People remember, paper—not pixels!