Sunday, December 5, 2010

Invitation ettiquette

Sending invitations is a tradition that has continued from early civilization. Throughout the years, it has been customary to send some form of paper to each other to mark an important event. To find out more about the history of invitations, click here.

Your invitations should set the tone for your event. It's purpose is to provide the details of what to expect at the party. Is it a small backyard barbecue, an intimate black tie gathering, or a business expo for 1,000? WIll there be a meal prepared, or should your guests eat before they come to the party?

Custom invitations make it easy to set the tone for any event. The example shown is for a baby shower for an expecting mother of a baby girl. The white linen pocket with pink accents was designed to match the baby's bedroom, which is decorated with Piccadilly Bedding and Accessories by JC Penney.

Technological advancements are modifying our traditions, and since the inception of e-greeting and e-invites, this process has been made even simpler. Although these forms of communication are more modern, they can still be an informal way to make a statement about your upcoming event.

Some social media networks, such as Facebook, have also made it easier to notify guests and receive responses regarding informal events. The downside to using such social media is that this information is limited to those within your group. Friends and relatives who do not have accounts with social networking sites are often left out of the loop, and should be supplemented with printed invitations. Read more about text messaging etiquette here.




Although communications services have improved vastly over the last decade, Text messaging is one format that should be avoided for communicating plans for important events.  These forms of communication are casual, and should not be used for anything formal, such as an invitation or initial contact. 


What to include in your invitations:

THE PURPOSE
Is it a baby shower, bridal shower, graduation, birthday or holiday party?

THE HONOREE(S)
Sometimes there is more than one person to be honored, or perhaps the party is a surprise. Either way, your guests need to be informed of who they are celebrating.

THE DAY AND DATE
the date should always include the day of the week, the numerical date and the year in order to alleviate any confusion.

NAME OF PLACE AND ITS LOCATION
The address is very important to ensure your guests arrive at the right spot for your event. 

NAME OF HOST(S)
It is best to indicate who is hosting the party, in order to allow for responses or communication regarding the party.

APPROPRIATE ATTIRE, WHEN APPLICABLE.
Event attire can include, but is not limited to costumes, formal wear, swimming and other sports that require rackets, clubs, cleats or other gear.

It is good to have someone else look over your final draft before printing, to double check any mistakes or missing information. It is best to send your event invitations at least 8 weeks prior to the date of the event. This provides your guests the right amount of time to plan to attend, respond and make travel arrangements. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Promotional Tips: Submitting Photos for Print Media

Some of the most popular and effective promotional materials are designs that feature photos of staff or products. There are many details to consider when planning an order featuring photography. When quality is your main concern, then it is best to use a professional photographer. This is costly, but the one-time expense of having a professional shoot your entire line of products or staff can be a huge benefit to your business in the long run. You must also consider the licensing aspect of utilizing professional work to promote your company or its products.

However, I acknowledge that there are many situations where it is not possible to use a professional, and many business owners must rely on their own photography skills to get the job done. Sometimes its an issue of time, other times it is not in the budget for your project. The most important thing to remember is that it is also costly to pay your graphic designer to edit poorly taken photos. The beauty of digital technology enables you to take hundreds of shots, and keep the best of them. The most important thing to consider when submitting photos is flexibility.

For the most flexibility in using photos on a variety of promotional items, it is best to consider the final product when taking the picture:

Problem #1: Poor Lighting

Solution: Evaluate the background and lighting. 

Choose an area with a pleasant background suitable for your photo. If the lighting is coming in from behind the object you are photographing, the object will look dark or appear to be in the shade. You want your lighting to come in from above and to the front of the object or individual you are photographing.  Outdoor photos are best, as natural sunlight provides the best lighting during the hours before noon and after 2:00 p.m.

Problem #2: Cropped too close

Solution: Step backward or zoom out!

Don't crop your photos to the size you think you will want them. Leaving extra background around your object or individual provides many more opportunities and uses for the photos you are taking. You need to have extra space above and around a person's face in order to get the best type of promotional shot. This gives the designer a better option, and control over how the image will appear. Cropping can take place as needed for use on a variety of items.

Problem #3: Only One Shot

Solution: Supply more than one choice

The beauty of digital photography is that you can take hundreds of photos at a time and select only the best to keep. Giving your graphic designer options for your promotional photography can benefit your business and your products. If your designer has more photos to choose from, they can make better selections depending on the promotional item you are having produced, as well as emphasize the advertisement's message in a variety of ways.

Problem #4: Blur

Solution: Change your setting

If your photos are blurry, you may need to use a tripod. Steadying the camera works wonders for the sharpness of the image.  If you do not have a tripod, try setting the camera on any level surface while taking your photographs.

You may also need to increase your camera's pixel settings.  If your photos are low resolution, this setting can be changed easily on your camera. Printed photographs must be at least 300 resolution or higher for a clean, clear print quality. If you are unsure which setting to use, choose the highest resolution setting your camera has available. 


Monday, October 11, 2010

King Designs Receives Reviewed on OneWed 2010 Award

Top Wedding Planning Website Distributes Reviewed on OneWed 2010 Awards to Wedding Professionals
Chicago, IL - [October 11, 2010] OneWed.com, the wedding planning website with the largest online directory of local wedding vendors and the only  wedding planning social network, WeddingPreParty.com, is pleased to announce the
 Reviewed on OneWed 2010 program! 

Today, brides and grooms seek advice from their peers and place a high priority on recommendations from those who have wed before them.  The 
Reviewed on OneWed program was created specifically to help couples find the most exceptional wedding professionals for their wedding day among the 225,000 on OneWed.
 
"In today's world of user-generated content, brides seek out ratings and reviews of those wedding professionals they are considering using," says Jennifer Napier, CEO of OneWed.  "Seeing what other brides thought gives them confidence in the decisions they ultimately make when selecting wedding professionals. We are thrilled to recognize those wedding professionals who have earned the trust of brides and grooms."

Understanding that a one-size-fits-all review system does not provide the depth of responses desired by brides and grooms, OneWed reviews are tailored to each of 23 specific vendor categories, from florists to caterers to reception venues. As such, engaged couples flock to OneWed for detailed ratings, valuable answers to their most crucial questions, and robust descriptions of past clients' experiences.
 
OneWed reviews also serve as a marketing differentiator among wedding professionals within the OneWed Vendor Network. "Business listings with reviews are viewed 35 times more often than those without reviews-showing the power of reviews and a tailored rating system in the wedding industry" remarked Napier. 
 
Find the wedding professional you desire for your wedding day from the over 225,000 local wedding vendors on
www.OneWed.com
 
About OneWed
OneWed is the ultimate online source for the truth in wedding planning, providing couples with a wealth of tips, advice, and creative suggestions to help personalize their wedding experience. The site's newest platform, 
WeddingPreParty.com, is a virtual way for couples to start the celebration early and keep in contact with guests through a social wedding planning network. OneWed boasts the largest searchable directory of local wedding vendors with over 225,000 vendors nationwide with honest ratings and reviews. Additionally, the site features OneWed's Savvy Scoop Wedding Blogonline wedding checklistfree wedding websites and ideas for everything from engagement rings to wedding dresses, to honeymoon planningOneWed can be found online at OneWed.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Holiday Greetings





It’s that time of year again, and Thanksgiving is one of the best seasons to send out a greeting card.  It is not a religious holiday, so your customers, friends and relatives find little offense in receiving a non-denominational greeting. Our latest collection of holiday greetings provide a variety of beautiful selections.  

This is the season to reach out with warmth to those you appreciate, and with the right phrasing, your message can encompass the entire holiday season. When Thanksgiving greetings are sent out in the early part of November, they create a warm surprise that will be treasured and displayed throughout the fall, and into the winter months.

Visit our website at www.kingdesignsonline.net to browse the selections offered from Carlson Craft, McPherson’s and Stylart. Right now you can save up to 35% OFF your order from our DFS collection, if you wish to browse sale items. Our custom stationery services also offer completely personalized choices. Simply bring in or email us a photo, or collection of photos, and King Designs will create a stunning collage or portrait greeting. You may also choose from stock art to create a custom greeting for your business or your family. Show your appreciation with style this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

IWF Scholarship Winning Essay: The Fair Trade Trend

Fair trade is a growing concern among consumers.  The goals of the fair trade movement are to assist marginalized producers to become more economically stable and to promote sustainable production and development.  Fair trade also aims to protect the environment and improve women’s wages.  On the surface, the values of the movement are a step in a positive direction for developing countries.  The fair trade movement has expanded the growth of industries into these countries, thus helping the poor and disadvantaged by providing better jobs, eliminating slave labor and exploitative labor practices.  While these motives are noble, the fair trade movement may not be helping as much as its goals intend.
Although fair trade is an attempt to enable the disadvantaged producers to become more self-sufficient, international standards were established.  Fair trade “certified” farmers receive higher prices for their products, making it more difficult for non-certified farmers to compete.  This puts the non-certified farmer at the disadvantage, limiting competition from developing countries.  The standards established by the fair trade movement can also create an impurity due to the fact that the certified farmer could be purchasing his products from another non-fair trade producer at a lower cost.  This makes it hard to say if our “fair trade” products are truly produced in the manner that the movement is trying to achieve.
Fair trade has also helped farmers by providing credit avenues and more sustainable methods for their production.  The challenge begins when consumers are willing to pay more for a particular product, for example, coffee, simply because it is labeled as “fair trade.”  This creates an artificial swell of prices, which creates incentives that can have a negative effect on our economy.  These incentives give producers a good reason to join the movement and can create an oversupply of certain products, which results in a price crash.  If all farms become fair trade certified, competition among products will become obsolete.
Free trade is not fair trade.  Free trade is based on the theory that a country should produce what it makes most efficiently at the least cost and should trade its products with other countries for those it is less able to produce.  This way of economic thinking derives from Robert Torrens’ and David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage.  A free market allows the exchange of goods or commerce without restrictions such as import duties or licenses, domestic production subsidies, trade quotas or export bounties.  Free trade and market maintains economic balance.  Nations which can produce quality goods efficiently may succeed, while those who cannot must find a new product to produce.
Many people argue that the signing of NAFTA in the early ’90s was the beginning of the export of American jobs to Mexico and that it has caused unemployment rates in our own country to climb.  The opposite perspective is to look to the jobs that have been created in the United States as a result of the increase of imports from those countries.  While consumers want “fair trade” products, in most cases, the farmers may only grow or manufacture the products and sell them back to the United States for the remaining value-added production jobs – processing, packaging and distribution.  NAFTA was originally established in order to remove tariffs and to eliminate the barrier of cross-border investments and the transportation of goods between the endorsed countries.
Although, on the surface, fair trade appears to be a positive movement, it is merely a trend.  The intentions are notable; however, the free market is still the most reliable economic position.  Developing nations tend to gain more in terms of eliminating poverty and see a higher rate of social progress when they exchange goods freely.  Free trade is the most efficient way of satisfying global supply to demand, providing prosperity for all parties.  Although the fair trade trend has value, the market is more balanced without interference.  Once consumers have discovered a more interesting product, the fair trade fad will fade.

This essay was written by Kelly J. King in competition for the Independent Women's Forum Scholarship Essay.  The topic was "Is Fair Trade the same as Free Trade?" This essay won an honorable mention in the competition. Thank you IWF!  To make a donation, please visit www.iwf.org.

Getting the Most out of Custom Forms

To better your forms and improve the response rate of surveys, consider the following:
Should it be a detachable item or separate piece?
Studies show that response forms may work better as a standalone form. It gets attention faster, and does not require detachment. In other cases, when the amount of information being gathered is minimal, a detachable card reduces paper waste and conveys ecological responsibility. 
Your form should be simple to complete
The way a form is designed can have a strong impact on the information you receive. It should be clear where to respond to each question, and allow enough space for responses. It should also present a logical order.
It should be clear how to respond
If there is a provided envelope, the form should instruct the reader to use it. Highlight the phone number if you prefer responses by phone. If you accept credit cards for placing orders, use the images or logos of the credit cards you accept.
Feature your guarantee
Some consumers hesitate at the final moments of making major purchases. Your form can provide reassurance that you stand behind your product or services, and remind them that the transaction is risk-free.
Ask respondents to “Please Print”
Sales can become difficult when the order form is illegible. Adding the phrase “Please print in ink” above the area where respondednts are to fill out information can provide you with clearer results.
Complete forms provide complete information
The form should be able to stand alone and answer any questions the consumer may have about the offer. If the form is detachable, or separate from the rest of the offer, include the offer, response options, payment methods, expiration date or any other necessary information.
Protect carbonless forms with binding
If you need to carry your forms, or provide on-the-go services, you should consider having your forms bound with a protective cover. This keeps numbered forms intact and in order, as well as provides a writable surface for the completion of the forms.