USA Print Broker, Inc.

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There were times in my life when I believed there could be potential power gained by being invisible. I could have come and gone without asking my parents’ permission. I could have seen any number of movies without paying the price of admission. No one would have known whether I sat through the whole chemistry lecture or not. I was pretty sure it would be cool to be unseen.

Of course I am now all grown up and am very clear that invisibility is not the way to go. I now know that being visible is what gives me power. In fact, the more visible I am, the more I can change my life and the situations in which I find myself. I can tell my story, sing my song, make my point clear…I can make myself as visible as I have to in order to be heard.

How are you seen? How do people know where you are? What you sell? What you have to offer?

Don’t be invisible…it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

When I hear those words sung, I am immediately transported back in time. I am young… and in love for the first time. There seems to be no possible way to express the feeling I’m experiencing. I want to shout it to the mountaintops, but I can’t find the words. So I paint a picture, or sing a song, or make a sculpture in hopes that someone will be able to translate my meaning and understand the depth of emotion there.

There are many ways to say “I love you.” There are many ways to demonstrate “I’m sorry.” There is no end to the number of ways we communicate our joys and our pains.

If the people who need to know aren’t able to hear or understand…try another way of getting the word out.

Your statistics are impressive. Your pie charts and diagrams are stunning. Your slide presentation is quite pretty.

But it is your story that I take home with me. How did what you offer to the market work for one of your clients? How was their level of comfort elevated? How was their ability to accomplish their tasks made simpler? Tell me that story.

Numbers are important, but they are not the whole story. In fact, they aren’t the story at all.

The banquet is prepared, the centerpieces are beautifully displayed, the doors are open, the entertainment is warming up…yet no guests have arrived.

It seems that the menu was chosen, the program was planned, and the hall was made ready. But someone forgot to put out the word: “We’re having a party!”

Sometimes we get caught up in all the behind the scenes work that needs to be done. We have our procedures in place, our workers hired, our materials purchased and our project in the works. Doesn’t the world know what we’re up to? Don’t people realize that we have great things to offer them? Isn’t it obvious?

Let’s invite people to our “banquets.” There is so much to be shared if we just put out the word!

I don’t mind eating in a restaurant alone.

I don’t mind taking a long drive by myself.

I always prefer shopping for swimming suits in solitude. And there are days when I long for a few minutes to wind down and chill out…all alone.

But when the times are tough…there is nothing like having a friend beside me.

Economic times are tough. Sales can be hard to come by. Business owners seem nervous about parting with every penny. There are times when we feel like it’s us against the world.

Yet when we join hands and begin to work together…with and for each other…our situations look totally different.

When it comes to the world, I’d rather you and I would greet it together.

Do you ever feel invisible?

Have you ever put on your best Sunday dress, slipped on your high-heeled black patent leather shoes, styled your hair and taken extra pains to make sure your makeup was flawless…only to realize that no one even knew you were in the room?

Sometimes what we perceive as our best look just isn’t enough to get the attention we need. Every one of us can put on our best suit and tie, shine our shoes and put on a happy face, but none of those efforts guarantees visibility…especially when everyone around us is dressed the same way.

What sets us apart from the crowd? Why should people choose to do business with us instead of our competitors? What will it take for us to be “seen?”

Start asking your best customers what got their attention…and starting dressing for that kind of success. Whatever it takes…visibility beats invisibility every day of the  year.

Maybe it was because I was on vacation and was enjoying the long stretches of silence in my days. Maybe it was because I have an aversion to being bombarded with an over-abundance of words. Maybe it was because I caught the deer in the headlights look of the person across the room from me. Whatever the case, I was reminded again of the need for white space.

I was sitting at a table alone, waiting for my meal to be served. At a table about 20 feet from me, there were two people discussing business over lunch. Discussing is a generous term in this case, because the truth is that one of the two people was talking and gesturing with such a fervor that the other guy didn’t have a chance to get a word in edgewise. The subject matter isn’t really important to know here, but suffice it to say that it was a heavy duty sales pitch that I was witnessing. The pitch-er was in the middle of his wind-up and was really laying it on thick. The pitch-ee looked like he wanted to be anywhere but at that table.

We’ve all been approached by people who, for some reason, believe that the louder and faster they talk, the more likely they are to convince their audience that they are experts on any given subject. My response to people like that is to run screaming from the building! I have the same response to marketing materials that are too wordy or too complex in their design. I want to call up the people who write this stuff and say, “Give me a chance to breathe! Give me some white space!’”

White space is that visual resting place that allows one’s message the time and space to be heard or read and absorbed by a reader. If every possible inch of an ad space is filled with information, the reader’s mind will be unable to focus on any one message…and they will likely walk away without remembering the most important things that were said.

Keep it simple! Let your reader breathe! Let your customer enjoy the white space!

The lack of transparency in the printing industry drove me nuts when I began my role as the president of USA Printing and Promotions. As a print broker, I constantly ran into problems when trying to provide my customers with consistent pricing. Vendors never seemed to quote jobs the same way twice. I would end up with identical printing projects with very different price quotes. So my first endeavor was to create transparency in our pricing model. We set about creating a list of our standard products and their prices, including cost to deliver anywhere in the continental U.S.

Although “set” pricing in this industry is not my creation, applying this model to my business was a herculean undertaking.  I finished the task with the help of my wonderful employees and my then 14 year old daughter, who could do the math. Once the math was done, there were three issues we had to tackle to establish the “set” pricing: development of our in-house software, coordination with our printing and promotional item vendors and development of a process that guaranteed fulfillment of the orders on a national basis.

First, as I have discussed in previous blogs, I developed workflow architecture to manage and streamline our processes. Set pricing dovetails with that process.  We maintain our pricing in databases associated with specific products, so that the pricing, once set, is consistent and our employees are not tasked with entering the data. This method of organization leads to a consistent result.  Second, our vendors were used to the quotation system. In developing our pricing, I had to work with many smaller printers to build their own “set” pricing models. This was important to me, because I like to make sure that even the “little guys” get to compete for our vendor dollars. The last step was to ensure that our pricing reflected national delivery and fulfillment, on a consistent scale, to all 48 states.  It sounds a lot easier than it is.  But our finished set pricing literally “delivers.”

We finished our initial pricing model 4 years ago, but it will never be completed.  Now that the architecture is in place, we are able to bring you revised pricing the moment a vendor drops their prices. It is my belief that set transparent pricing is one of the best “products” we sell.

Sincerely,

David K. Brown

A common problem we have is figuring out what font was used in artwork we are trying to match. When I started in graphic design this was a fairly simple task. Today there are thousands of fonts on the internet. The task of finding out which particular font is used is nearly impossible without help.

Thankfully, the good folks at My Fonts have created a tool called “What the Font” to assist you in figuring out what fonts you need to get.

Simply upload an image with your with the unknown font in it and “What The Font” looks through its database and tries to find a match. This tip has saved us countless man hours, so give it a try and hopefully it will save you!

http://new.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/

A common practice among printers is to dictate what file formats they can accept. They typically want a “press quality” PDF file or a document from one of the Adobe products (i.e., InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.). Like all printers, we prefer those formats, but we can handle just about anything you can throw at us.

Instead of turning down orders not in our preferred file formats, we try to be as accommodating as possible. We have no issue with the following file formats:

  • Microsord Word/Excel
  • Powerpoint
  • Publisher
  • Corel Draw
  • Word Perfect
  • Visio

In addition, we can assist our customers who aren’t used to designing for the press by helping them to navigate these programs. We use remote desktop software which allows us to export documents that will result in the highest possible print quality. To top it off, we send the customer a proof of the converted artwork, just to be sure our work is accurate.

Don’t let your choice in software prevent you from printing! Use a printer willing to help! Call us at 502-454-6800 or email us at sales@usaprintbroker.com.


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