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Eric Schwarz

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To grow sales, first build relationships. And sending business holiday cards is one of the best ways to build relationships. They connect you personally to your customer and express thanks and well wishes for the holiday season. This is marketing at its best. It puts your brand in front of your customer, and your customer appreciates the gesture and feels good about working with your company. More than a smart marketing item, business holiday cards can also grow sales.

Show you care by making it personal

2 important elements make up business holiday cards. The design or graphic on the front and the message written inside. It's best to use a custom design that resonates with your customer or relates to your business. This shows that you put some thought into your business holiday card and makes it more memorable. Secondly, individualize the message. The ultimate personal message is the hand-written note. It's also OK to add a personal message to a printed inside greeting. By taking the time to hand write a message you show your customer that they are important to you.

Include a gift

Including a gift or discount with your business holiday card separates it from your competition. You've shown that this person is important to you by sending the card in the first place, a gift or discount goes above and beyond to cement your relationship. The gift can be related to your product or service, but it doesn't have to be. Giving a golf enthusiast a golf related gift builds a stronger relationship and increases future sales even if there's no immediate sales opportunity.

Follow up

Sending your business holiday card is one touch point. Following up with an email, phone call or visit is another touch point with a built-in excuse: checking to see if they received and enjoyed the gift or discount. This is a simple contact to say "Hello," wish them happy holidays, and confirm the business holiday card was received.

When done correctly, holiday marketing is one of the most personal and feel-good opportunities to connect with your customers. Combining a custom designed, professionally printed business holiday card with a small gift and the right follow up is the first step to building stronger relationships and growing your sales.

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A professionally designed, cohesive store front is the key to driving foot traffic on the street into paying customers. A store front is the most important investment a retail business can make. Whether a business is moving into a new space or updating an existing look here is a before and after guide to refreshing a retail store front.

While each of the elements can be purchased separately, it's usually best to plan out the desired look and feel before running out and buying items haphazardly. Is the look and feel going to be sleek and modern or warm and welcoming? In the below example, it was important to convey a friendly, welcoming and casual environment.


In this case, the store is actually open, but there is no way a customer could tell that they've even arrived at the right location, let alone what the store sells and why the customer should stop there. To fix that problem, the store front was completely redone with new signs, window graphics and accessories.



There are five key elements to the redesigned store front:


1. Flat mounted sign. This is the key piece of signage for the entire design. It tells the customer what type of business it is, what it sells, and that they've arrived at the right location.

2. The blade sign. The second key piece is the blade sign. A blade sign, mounted to an iron bracket, sticks out from the wall of the building so it is visible up and down the street to approaching foot traffic. Many times in the flow of walking down a street, a potential customer is already on their way past the store's door when they realize the store even exists. The blade sign gives the customer a heads up so they know what's coming and makes the store easier to find.

3. Window graphics. After the main signs catch the customer's eye, window graphics provide more specific information including items and pricing. The RTA, cut vinyl decals give a quick summary of what this market sells including wine, beer, breads, meats, coffee and fruits.

4. Window signs. In addition to the cut vinyl window graphics, the window sign provides further details regarding items and pricing. The goal of each of these elements is to work in concert with the others to pique the customers interest, communicate that the store is a credible establishment, and provide more information to build trust and entice the customer to try the store.

5. Accessories. Lastly, the final details really bring the look together. The rewritable chalk board graphics and custom awning provide small but important touches of comfort and friendliness. Together they create a warm inviting scene to draw the customer in.

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At ISS, Inc. all of our printing services use high resolution pdfs. For a variety of reasons, all printed products, everything from business cards to brochures to vinyl banners can look different than they appear on a computer screen. Here are some key ways to create a print ready file. And even after following these guidelines, we offer free proofs to ensure the printed item looks perfectly accurate.

File type: High resolution pdf. A print ready, high resolution pdf has four main attributes: Resolution, color mode, fonts and layers. In order for a file to print most accurately, the file should be saved at 300 DPI, be exported in CMYK color mode, have all fonts embedded or outlined, and have all layers flattened.

Bleeds: Many designs include graphics that extend right to the edge of a printed item. In order to print to the edge, the digital file must extend that graphic an extra 1/8th inch (0.125") beyond the edge of the piece. That extra 1/8th inch gets cut off to create an image that extends right the edge of the paper.

Safety margins: All text and graphics that don't bleed need to be at least 1/8th inch from the edge of the piece. Important information like contact details are frequently positioned at the bottom of a brochure and need to be at least 1/8th inch from the bottom of the product to prevent it from being cut off.

Borders: When a design includes a border, that border needs to be an 1/8th inch thick. There can be slight shifting during the printing process, and at least an 1/8th inch border ensures that the border doesn't appear off center.

Transparencies: Design programs are very good at creating complex design elements by combining many different effects in layers upon each other. Unfortunately, that complexity can lead to problems when the file is printed. To ensure there aren't any problems with transparencies, which include drop shadows, glows, and other effects, never place a transparency over a spot color. Always convert the file to CMYK and flatten the layers before sending it to print.

A helpful guide to laying out a print ready file can be found here.


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Independence day is just a few days away, and all across America we'll be celebrating the red white and blue of the American flag. So here's a printing tip to make sure that blue on the American flag doesn't look purple.

Whether you're printing business marketing material like business cards, brochures and booklets or wide format graphics like banners and trade show displays, having your blues print a true blue is very important. In four color printing, blue is created by mixing two of the four colors, Cyan and Magenta. To prevent a color that looks blue on your screen from looking purple on the printed sheet, it's important to keep the Cyan and Magenta values at least 30 points apart. For instance a blue that has the color values Cyan - 100, Magenta 70, Yellow 10, Black 10 will appear as a real blue when printed. However, if the values were Cyan 100, Magenta 100, Yellow 10, Black 10, then the printed color could look more purple than blue, even if it appears blue on your computer screen.

Happy 4th of July and may your blues always stay blue!

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Over 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. So when communicating with clients it is extremely important to hand them something visual that is memorable and easy to understand. Printed marketing material, everything from business cards to brochures to banners and outdoor signs, needs to have an impact. And the key to creating an impact is white space.

What is white space?

White space is the area of a design that your eye perceives as emptiness. The space might actually be black, but your eyes think of that area as empty or background. The more white space in a design, the easier it is for the mind to find and focus on what's important. Designs with a lot of white space are described as clean and bold, while designs with little white space are described as cluttered and confusing.

How to use white space

White space should be used to indicate importance to the viewer. Your logo, product or whatever is most important should be surrounded by white space. When Apple launched the Apple Watch, it did so by placing 12 advertisements in Vogue Magazine. The ads just a picture of the watch, or sometimes just the watch band on a white background. There are no big words. They don't explain any features or benefits. There's no price. There's not even information on how to buy it. These ads communicate that this is a sleek, sophisticated, luxury item. If you want and can afford something like that, you don't really care about the price and the assumption is that you'll figure out where to buy it.

Compare that to a Walmart flyer. The flyer from Walmart is completely filled with product images and text including prices, dates, and product names. They know their customers are very price conscious and are looking for a deal.

There isn't anything wrong or even worse about the Walmart approach. It is totally in line with their brand and their target customer. It would be incongruous and even confusing if Walmart ran an add like the one for the Apple Watch with a picture of laundry detergent.

The thing is, most companies don't compete and win on price as successfully as Walmart. Most businesses compete on value. Customers need to know that a business is trustworthy and provides real value, not just the best price. So when you want to communicate that you provide value, even if it's not a luxury item like the Apple Watch, you need to incorporate white space into the designs for your business cards, brochures, banners and signs. Crisp, clean designs communicate more effectively than words that your product or service is high quality and provides real value.


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The importance of a good business card cannot be overlooked. This simple piece of 3.5"x2" sturdy cover stock is the best way to share contact information with another professional. Business is about building relationships, and the first step towards a creating a valuable relationship is a good first impression and second is the  ability to maintain communication with that professional in an ongoing basis. The business card accomplishes both. Swapping business cards is more polite, faster and more efficient than trying to type somebody's contact information into a database on your phone or making them type yours as they are talking to you and trying to carry on a conversation.

The focus in all good relationships is on the other person. Carrying a high quality business card is a great way to make life easier for the other person. The business card is technology agnostic, so your contact can always read your physical card regardless of the type of phone or computer or tablet the other person uses. Additionally, the other person can retrieve the information later and add you to their contacts when it is more convenient for them.

Nasir Mehmood, a senior marketing executive for MechTechnologies says that for sales and marketing professionals (and we'd add all professionals), "the best thing to carry and give out is a business card." He notes that a business card reflects who the person or company is and communicates the capabilities of the product or service offered.

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When designing for print it's important to keep in mind that not all blacks appear the same on paper. Digital printers use combinations of only four colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to create the entire spectrum of colors available, and these four colors can also be combined to create different shades of black. Andrew Kelsall, a professional designer at AK Design & Inspiration, created a comprehensive list of different blacks, and we're going to highlight a few of them here.

Flat Black


Flat black is composed of simply dots of black toner. There are no other colors mixed in, so it's color profile is C-0, M-0, Y-0, and K-100. This black is also known as standard black and is mostly used for text. When designers use this black for large areas of coverage in a logo or graphic it can appear washed out and almost grey. To solve this problem the other colors can be added to the mixture to create a deeper, richer black that appears as a true black on paper.


PhotoShop® Black


PhotoShop® Black is the default black in Adobe's Photoshop. This black includes a combination of all four toners and has a color profile of roughly C-85, M-85, Y-80, K-100. Since this shade of black uses all four colors, it's also known as a process black. By adding in the additional colors, this shade of black takes on a richer, deeper appearance, and provides a much more satisfactory result for areas of full black coverage.


The final shade of black we're going to highlight is Designer Black.


Designer Black is a process black like Photoshop Black, but has a slightly different color profile and is one of the shades of black most commonly used by professional designers. Designer black is composed of the color profile C-70, M-50, Y-30, and K-100. This shade creates a very deep, rich black that is very flexible and prints well on many different papers. This color profile can also be adjusted based on the designer's needs. By adding magenta and yellow the black takes on a warmer feel, while adding more cyan makes the black appear cooler.

For Andrew's complete list of blacks and how to use them see his post here.







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Posted by on in ISS Blog Articles

Booklets are one of the most versatile products businesses can use. Booklets, any bound document with more than four pages, can be used for everything from expanded brochures, to catalogs, manuals, newsletters, and even calendars are technically booklets. Booklets provide a professional presentation of information with high quality covers and full color graphics. Here are five basic tips for high impact booklets.

1. Have the right number of pages.


The page count in a booklet must be a multiple of four. Booklets are made by folding full sheets into four pages. For instance, three sheets of 8.5"x11" paper folded in half and stapled together create twelve individual 5.5"x8.5" pages. Therefore, every booklet must contain a page count including the cover, inside cover, inside back cover and back cover that is divisible by four. If your document only has thirty one pages, then a blank page needs to be added, usually an extra blank page in the front or back, to reach thirty two pages which is a multiple of four.

2. Number your pages correctly. Numbering the pages in a booklet is a little detail that is important to get right and easy to miss.  If you are printing a newsletter, directory or manual with page numbers it is important to follow convention with your page numbering. Page one is on the right. So, a typical booklet would have a cover, an inside cover and then page one. If you don't have anything designed for the inside cover, then it is simply left blank rather than moving page one to the inside cover.

3. Choose between full color and black and white inside pages. The decision to use color or black and white printing is mostly determined by the end use of the booklet. For marketing related material like expanded brochures or presentations, full color printing delivers the most impact and a more professional look. For more text heavy documents including manuals, newsletters, and directories, basic black and white inside pages are perfectly fine. You can always choose to add a full color cover with black and white inside pages to add a little visual interest to your booklet.

4. Pick the right cover. There are four types of booklet covers. Self covers use the same paper as the inside pages (self cover). A standard cover is on thick cover stock to add some heft and differentiate it from the inside pages. You can also use a clear front cover with a leatherette back cover, or have covers inserted into the front of a three ring binder. Expanded brochures, playbills, programs, and newsletters can have a self cover or standard cover. Thick covers are used for manuals, directories, catalogs and presentations. Presentations and manuals could also use clear front covers with leatherette backs or three ring binders.

5. Use an appropriate binding option.


Binding options for booklets include saddle stitch, perfect binding, wire binding, or a three ring binder. Saddle stitch binding uses two staples along the spine of the booklet, perfect binding is the process of gluing the pages to the spine of the cover like a paperback book, wire binding uses a metal "comb" to hold the pages together. Most booklets are saddle stitched. This is a great option for booklets with less than forty pages and for self cover booklets. For booklets with more pages or if you want a clear cover with leatherette back then wire binding is the best option. Wire binding is also good for notebooks or workbooks, since you can flip the pages all the way around to the back. Lastly, for very large booklets, such as manuals or presentations with a hundred or more pages, three ring binders or perfect binding is most appropriate.




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One of the most important aspects of a print ready file is the safety margin. The safety margin is the 0.125 inches (1/8th in.) closest to the edge of the finished piece on all four sides. A sheet of paper can shift slightly when going through the printing process. While this doesn't always happen, it can happen, which is why it's important to keep all important text and graphics more than 1/8th of an inch away from the edge. To ensure nothing gets cut off during the printing process, please keep important text and graphics inside the safety margin of the piece.


Safety Margin in printing_Problem File


Safety Magin in Printing_good file



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Everybody knows that sending personal holiday cards to clients, colleagues, friends and family is an affordable and fantastic way to keep in touch and send warm wishes to the important people in your life. There are many options when designing unique cards, and one of the first choices you need to consider is whether you want your card to be folded or flat.


Photo by Everything Little Miss

Let’s start with flat holiday cards. Flat cards are much simpler to execute than folded cards. There are only two panels to design and many times they can be sent without an envelope, like a postcard. This can save you time and money. Flat cards are also more modern and can be effective without writing a long note. Additionally, if you’re worried that your card will get lost in the wave of mail your audience is receiving, a flat card without an envelope is visible immediately in the mailbox. Therefore, you don’t have to worry if the recipient opened the envelope.

Folded Card Example

Photo by Everything Little Miss

Folded holiday cards are your more traditional option and are great for writing longer personal notes. Folded cards provide extra design space to really let your creative ideas shine, and they naturally allow small gifts to be included such as coupons, gift cards and checks . Folded cards also require an envelope, and that means you can incorporate a fancy envelope design to add even more importance to your card.

While there are a few practical differences between the two styles, deciding between flat or folded holiday cards is mostly about personal preference. You can’t go wrong either way, and the most important thing is remembering to send meaningful holiday cards in the first place and let everybody know that you’re thinking of them.

You can find another take on flat vs folded cards here.

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ISS, Inc. does not have a minimum order size for our printing services or our CD/DVD/USB duplication services. We can produce a single copy if that's all you want. And, in case you were wondering, we do not have a maximum either! We have done orders from 1 to over 4 million units.





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Posted by on in ISS Blog Articles

Corporate promotional calendars are a fabulous marketing tool for every business. They are a functional gift that can save your customers the hassle and cost of buying one themselves. Calendars also put your company in front of your customer every day of the year.

Here's an example from Dunkin' Donuts:


The first key for a proper promotional calendar is to make it fun, attractive, and relevant enough that your customer will put it up on the wall and use it. It’s even better if they like it enough to request multiple copies for their friends and coworkers. You should choose a theme that is both relevant to your business and your customer and design it to be an attractive addition to their office space.

Secondly, include branding on every page. The ultimate goal of a corporate promotional calendar is to promote your business. In order to do that, make sure your company logo or other branding is featured on every page of the calendar. It doesn’t have to hit your customer over the head like the example above, but you want your company to be in the front of your customer’s mind when he is ready to buy.

Third, add some tips and deals. To help make your calendar even more valuable, include tips and deals related to your company for each month. For retail businesses these can be coupons or product specials. For service businesses these can be professional tips or advice related to your service.

Fourth, it’s important to distribute before the holidays. The great thing about a calendar is that it will remain in your customer’s workspace for the entire year. You don't want to lose that spot to your competition. It’s important to send out your calendars before the first of the year, so your customers have it in hand and ready to use when the New Year starts.

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The holiday season is a great time to connect with customers. Holiday cards and corporate calendars are easy and affordable ways to strengthen your relationship with your customers and make them feel appreciated. These small tokens of gratitude help develop long term relationships and repeat sales. They are a personal and friendly way to say thanks and keep your company in the front of your customer’s mind.

Remember to say “Thanks”


 The end of the year is a natural time to reflect on the success from the past year, and all of that success is due to your loyal customers. When sending out your holiday cards, it’s important to remember to thank your customers and let them know that you’re proud to be their supplier or service provider. You understand that they have a choice of who they use, and you want to acknowledge their trust in choosing you.


Give a gift


In addition to mailing holiday cards, it doesn’t hurt to send along a small gift. This can be chocolate, fruit or another treat, a gift card, or something more extravagant for your best customers. No matter what, a small gift will elevate your status in the mind of your customer and help earn long term customer loyalty.


Personalize it


Whenever possible, personalize your holiday cards. The ultimate personal message is the hand written note. Many people forgo the hand written holiday card, and that just means yours will stand out even more. If you have too many customers to hand write each card, make sure that at least the address is specific to them (not “Current Resident”) and choosing a font that look likes handwriting is a good substitute for the real thing.

 Holiday themed offer

The primary purpose of your holiday cards is simply to express gratitude and build relationships. However, it may be appropriate to also extend a special, holiday-themed offer to your best customers. Customers always appreciate a little VIP treatment, and special deal really can’t hurt.

 Have Fun

Throughout the year it’s typical to think of Company X as your customer, but it’s an individual or group of people at that company who are really your customers. It’s important to remember to have a little fun with your holiday cards. It’s about two people connecting during a special time of year to appreciate a good working relationship and look forward to the coming year.

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At ISS, Inc. our standard turn time for printing services and CD/DVD duplication services is three business days. That means your order placed on Monday is ready to ship or be picked up on Thursday.

In addition to printing and duplication, some orders require extra finishing. This can include sorting and delivering postcards for a direct mailing, laminating posters, or binding wire bound booklets. Finishing work requires an extra two business days. That means your direct mailing ordered on Monday can be delivered to the post office in just a week!

Not only is our standard turn time quick, but we offer rush services when you find yourself under a deadline. We offer Expedited (2nd Business Day), Rush (Next Business Day), and Super Rush (Same Day) service, and we can always ship overnight with UPS Next Day Air to anywhere you require.




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Posted by on in ISS Blog Articles

Free Proofs

Did you know that ISS, Inc. offers free proofs with all our high quality printing services? Well, we do! Here’s what you need to know.

What is a proof?

A proof is a sample of the product for you to review before we go to production, and ISS provides three types of proofs.

Physical Proof: A physical proof is a production quality printed sample of the item. A physical proof is ideal for checking the color of the print, the weight and feel of the paper, and even the precise placement of folds on a brochure or newsletter. A physical proof is the most accurate proof and the only way to guarantee color matching.

Digital Proof: We can send a digital proof via email, which can save you time instead of waiting for a physical proof. A digital proof is a PDF file of the product to be printed. This is great for checking spelling, layout, and the overall feel of the item. A digital proof is most commonly used when ISS has provided graphic design services and we want to confirm all the little details with you.

Photo Proof: We can also send a digital photograph of a physical proof. This will show the printed colors more accurately than a PDF and can be faster than waiting for a physical proof to be shipped.

Why get a proof?

The reason to get a proof is to ensure the final printed piece is exactly how you want it to be. The most common reason for requesting a proof is to see the actual colors printed on paper. Computer screens use Red, Green, and Blue pixels (RGB) to display color. Our printers blend Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black toners (CMYK) to create those same colors and there can be slight variations when converting RGB to CMYK.




Computer screens can also be calibrated differently, be set at different brightness levels, and look different in different lighting environments, so what appears on your screen may look different on our screen. The only way to guarantee the color of a printed item is to see a physical proof.




We encourage you to see a free printed sample when ordering any of our high quality printing services. We do this to make it as easy as possible for you to be proud of the product you receive. We want you to be 100% satisfied with the results, and providing a free printed sample is the best way to ensure your peace of mind.

Tagged in: FAQs Print services
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10 years ago, in January 2004, Jeff Schwarz bought ISS. Since then he has transformed ISS into one of the leading printing companies in central Massachusetts by leading a team dedicated to dazzling our customers through service. Over the years, Jeff has personified that commitment to service by working many late nights and weekends, personally making deliveries to help a customer meet a deadline, and talking one on one with customers to help them through a complicated project. This dedication has grown ISS from 32 customers in 2004 to over 650 active customers today, including 4 Fortune 1,000 companies.

Jeff has ensured that, in addition to doing well, ISS is committed to doing good in the community. He has donated his time by sitting on the boards of several local non-profit organizations, and each year ISS donates our services by providing brochures, programs and other printed material needed by local organizations committed to a good cause. Jeff's commitment to doing good has been an integral part of the success of ISS.

So, from the team here as ISS: 

Congratulations, Jeff, on 10 wonderful years!!! Here's to many more to come.


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