Jeff's Sticker & Marketing Muse

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Jeff Nicholson standing in front of lockers covered with promotional stickers

Jeff Nicholson, owner of Freely Creative, Inc. attempts to write weekly about stickers... news, design tips, resources, common questions and small business marketing.





Archive for the ‘Websticker News / Updates’ Category

Behind The Scene At Websticker.com – Kristen’s Review

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Hello sticker enthusiasts, sticker lovers, and sticker needers!  My name is Kristen, and I’m a 28-year-old extrovert that has not been able to settle down in one place, well, ever.  A little background ->   As a kid I spent a lot of time back and forth between mom and dad, New Jersey to St. Louis and back.  Once I hit college, I was a free spirited artist in Philadelphia who loved spontaneous trips to where ever the money in my pocket would take me.  I spent time with so many different kinds of people and kept an open mind about life in general.  I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and no desire to grow up just yet.  I spend the next 5 years hopping to different locations all over the country; Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont again, Teton Valley, Idaho, and surprisingly enough, Vermont…again (do you see the trend here?)

On my most recent move to Vermont, I reached a point in my life (I’m almost 30, I better be reaching that point) where I finally felt like I wanted to settle down.  I wanted to get a good full time job and finally have a place to call home again.  I came across an ad in the newspaper for this sticker company looking for a customer service and quoting manager.  First of all, I LOVE stickers, second, I love people.  Customer service comes second nature to me.  Needless to say, I e-mailed over my resume and the next day was called to schedule an interview.  From what I understand, there was some tough competition, but I was offered the job!  (Awesome, right?!)

So here I am, two full months in, and LOVING it!  I work with some of the friendliest, most laid back people I have ever met.  Not to mention the love of stickers that we have in common.  In this short amount of time, I feel as though I have been welcomed into this family with open arms.  What a tight knit group of people to work with.  We have our ringleader, Jeff, handling everything from our awesome StickerMobile project, to rebuilding the website, to you name it and he can do it.  Then we have Chris (ringleader number 2) who is such a caring, friendly person.  She handles orders, re-orders, quotes, and whatever else is passed her way.  John, who happens to be Chris’ husband, who also has great taste in music (his Pandora almost always plays classic rock hits…which is awesome); is one of the designers here at Websticker.  He’s also our in house I.T. guy and has an answer for just about every question I’ve had about my computer.  He’s working on rebuilding our website and he puts together some of the videos that you see on websticker.com as well.  Every once in a while, our sense of humor is on the exact same sentence of the exact same page.  So cool.  Brian is our head sticker designer here.   He’s your regular, laid back, Phish loving, yoga practicing, sticker loving, super friendly guy.  He always gives a heads up on easier and better ways to get tasks done, and is really understanding about any situation with stickers.  He’s the “go-to” guy for most of my questions.

I can’t understand why somebody WOULDN’T want this company to produce their stickers.  I feel like we are the most thorough and helpful group.  If you ever have a question, we will explain the answer until it makes perfect sense to you.  If you ever have a problem with your stickers, we 100% guarantee them and will take care of it.  If you don’t have a high quality file or a rough design for your sticker, we can help you out with the design process, and most of the time, it’s free!

I think my favorite part of the job so far is being able to see the sticker designs first (you guys are so creative)!  That, and being able to see some of the designs go through the process and become an actual sticker.  I’m so proud to be a part of the process and to see the outcome.  Driving around town and seeing a sticker that you had a part in making is AWESOME!

I think its safe to say, I’m more then happy to settle down and finally be able to call Vermont, “Home”.

This is definitely on the top end of my list of coolest jobs ever.  So go ahead, give me a call or drop me an e-mail!  I’d be happy to give you a quote on any sticker you’d like to have made!  Give us a buzz and say hi!  Ask how the weather is in Stowe, Vermont today (I have a window seat, I’ll be able to tell you first hand)!  I can’t wait to hear from ya!

 

By Kristen Condit

Are You On The Sticker Mobile?

Plenty of room for more custom stickers!

When you print over 16 million custom stickers (at Websticker.com) a year there are bound to be a few cool stickers lying around. I like to use choice stickers to cover stuff – I’ve got a sticker tie, sticker hat, sticker vanity in the bathroom, sticker scooter helmet, sticker collage on my wall, sticker suitcase, etc. But a fully covered sticker car is my ultimate dream. We’re getting there with the Sticker Mobile.

 

Charity, Stickers and Ice Cream

I wrote recently about our efforts at Websticker.com to help good causes with free custom stickers each month. Another great Vermont company that knows a lot about giving back to the community is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. One of their factories is right down the road from our Stowe office and recently they stopped by local businesses to help raise money for the local Senior Class. They were dishing out the ice cream while we were dishing out the stickers (managed a few placements on the B&J Truck) and visiting our neighbors on a beautiful Vermont afternoon. Stickers and ice cream go well together – hopefully we’ll meet again soon for business… or pleasure. As the bumper sticker on the back of the truck says; “Question Business as Usual”.


Free Custom Stickers For Non Profits and Worthy Causes

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"It goes beyond extensive knowledge of custom promotional stickers. Websticker has a genuine, generous service-based attitude that truly helps clients market more effectively and succeed"Many years ago we set up a program at Websticker.com to do a free custom sticker printing job each month to a worthy organization or non profit. This charity program, which we call the “Sticking With You Program”, has been very successful and supplied over fifty organizations with hundreds of thousands of custom printed stickers. The only problem… picking just one worthy cause each month – there are so many great projects worthy of our help and for which stickers can raise awareness and raise money.

Over the last few years we’ve helped raise awareness and money with stickers for Cancer organizations, school groups, fire departments, farms, animal shelters, groups fighting poverty… fighting hunger and so many more (review a full list here). Because we limit the free sticker production offer to one per month we inevitable end up offering further substantial discounts to many other causes. Whether custom promotional stickers are free, discounted, or at our regular prices we firmly believe that custom stickers and magnets are the best ways to fundraise and maximize exposure.

I don’t think any other sticker printing company is as focused on giving back. And it’s not just about our Sticking With You Program, we offer personal service, consulting and design to every client that comes our way. We’ve built Websticker.com’s success on exceptional customer service and repeat business. The economy will always fluctuate and search engine rankings go up and down but helping people get the most powerfully designed and cost effective sticker product to meet their specific needs is our top priority. Our success allows us to offer free printing and discounts to whoever we can.

This month we are helping raise awareness of Vermont’s endangered Brown Bats, supporting Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and raising awareness of their move to a new location, and raising awareness about human trafficking and offering help numbers to potential victims. That is just a sample of the many worthy causes we hear from each month that we hope to support with custom stickers. If you believe stickers can help your organization raise awareness and money, by all means contact us and let us know the details of your possible sticker campaign. I hope we can be of help – We’d love to put the power of stickers to work for you.

 

By Jeff Nicholson

Thoughts On PR – It’s Not About Me, It’s About Stickers

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Jeff Nicholson, owner of Websticker.com admires hi tie made from custom stickers they have designed and printedI was interviewed for a “Think Quick” feature in the Innovate Section of the Burlington Free Press. I guess all press is good press, right? Well, it could be better… here are some quick thoughts and lessons learned from that recent PR about Freely Creative, Inc. – The Sticker Company.

• First of all I was reminded not to try and get press on my own. This interview would not have happened without help. It takes time, money and connections, and a good PR firm is always going to be able to better focus those efforts. We’ve been very pleased with PMG in Burlington, VT. They understand PR – we understand stickers.

• If given the questions for an interview in advance, by all means, write out all the answers in advance. Any thing that can be done to direct and control the final written piece should be taken advantage of. Any information you can submit in writing is always going to improve accuracy and better reflect your identity and goals. If that doesn’t look like how the publication usually operates, it never hurts to ask if questions and answers can be done in writing.

• Always remember why you are doing the interview in the first place. In my case it should not have been about me at all, but about our custom sticker business and the new on line sticker community and sticker design contest we started this year and for which we are trying to raise awareness.

• If there is no way to review interview questions and write answers in advance there is still a need to limit verbal responses and not get caught up over-spewing or riffing off topic. Remember, the more notes the writer has to sort through, the greater chance that points can be confused, misquoted, or focus on the wrong core theme.

• Make sure the most important questions have been asked. If they aren’t on a list of questions, ask if they can be added. In the case of the Free Press, Think Quick interview the most important question of all was missing; “What does your business do?”. That was the point of getting PR in the first place and I would think the main question on a readers mind to put the other questions and answers in context.

• If the interview or article is to be published on line make sure there will be links to your website(s) or to further information. What good is press about a web based business with no easy way to go and take a look, make contact or get more information?

In summary, have a list of key points and questions you would like to answer outlined before the interview, answer anything you can in writing, and make sure you communicate how you can be reached or your website found. Determine in advance why you are doing the interview and keep all your answers focused around that theme.

So, I might not have nailed my first sit down with the Free Press or effectively educated the public on the business of stickers and their strength as a promotional tool or works for art and social change. But, in business, we live, we learn and we find the best help we can. No promotional effort is ever going to be perfect but we’ve got to keep trying, testing, learning and moving forward.

For the record, Websticker.com is a company focused on custom stickers and printing of promotional stickers, labels, and decals. Our focus has always been on customer service and getting businesses, non-profits and individuals into the best quality, custom sticker product to meet their needs – with the strongest possible layout/design and at the best price available.

If you need any further info about stickers in general  please don’t hesitate to call me.

 

By Jeff Nicholson

 

 

I’m no salesperson… or am I?

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Cold calling? Don’t want to do it. Travel? Trade shows?… No thanks. Follow up calls? sales person graphic with red circle and line through it Networking?… Not really my style. Let’s face it – I am not a salesman. But wait a minute… I am part of a successful, growing business and in order for that to happen “sales” obviously must be made.

“It must be your staff”, you may say. If there are functions of your business for which you are not strong, hire people that fill those, right?. That makes sense, but again, we appear to have an organization with no sales people at all – no cold calls, no pounding the pavement, no up selling, no commissions, no prodding people to “act now!”.

But, here’s my thought; perhaps active “selling” is just a part of what may make a good salesperson. Knowing the product, believing in the product, wanting to help all customers as much as possible – this is the other side of selling where as long as there are existing customers and a few new prospects coming in the door, outstanding customer service and high quality products can take care of necessary sales goals.

At Websticker.com we have a great, tried and true staff and there is NOT much thought put into “selling” people. What keeps us interested, motivated and the company profitable is actively “helping” people. Yes, we still need to put money and efforts into marketing, attracting new clients and communicating with existing clients, but, we let our service and products ‘seal the deal’, not a sales person. To me (and I think my whole staff), it’s about serving, not selling.

This isn’t to say selling and sales don’t have their place and there are certainly exceptional and effective sales people. We just seem to do alright without traditional salespeople and have a small business where justifying another salary would  require more added sales than we necessarily want to inject into our systems. We like being small. We like spending time working personally with each customer. We like where we live and work. We believe in and have fun with the sticker products we design and sell.

Can we sell more and sell better? Sure, there’s always room for improvement. But, perhaps, for right now me and my staff are the perfect salespeople for meeting our company goals and, more importantly, meeting the sticker, decal and label needs of our existing clients and some of the people that find us on-line or hear about us from other happy customers.

 

By Jeff Nicholson

State Of The Sticker, 2012 – from Jeff Nicholson

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Jeff Nicholson, owner of Websticker.comI started the year with a trip to the PPAI Show, the big Promotional Products Tradeshow for distributors, and followed that with a trip to several of the largest sticker production factories in the U.S. I jotted down a few thoughts about our sticker focused business and the state of the sticker world as I traveled.
I was reminded at the PPAI Show in Las Vegas that “stickers” really are a different animal from other promotional products.  Most promotional products are used to make an impression on one recipient. Pens, mugs, gift baskets of food, luggage, etc. are items meant to make an impression and be held onto by the individual user. Stickers and labels on the other hand are used as signs and labeling, to “brand” unbranded items and to be stuck in places that make impressions and encourage word-of-mouth to thousands of viewers/users.
Most changes and improvements in the sticker realm involve digital printing. The quality and vividness of outdoor, digitally printed sticker and decals has made huge strides in the last few years. This progress affects the quality and options in regard to short runs, variable data work, and full color (4CP) printing on outdoor quality stickers and decals.
In 2012 there are many more options for custom stickers – more printing methods and more businesses hanging out their “custom sticker” shingle. So, it is more important than ever for buyers to communicate with suppliers what their stickers are being used for and how long they need to last. While outdoor digital printing has come a long way it still doesn’t compare with the quality and long-term durability of screen printing. “Digital printing” is also a fairly ambiguous term covering everything from label sheets run through your desktop printer to the latest industrial, top of the line presses being used by a select few factories. Getting sticker samples, comparing prices, factoring in future needs and being well informed is more important than ever.
At Websticker.com we are refocusing our efforts on customer service and quality this year. With all the options available to businesses and consumers looking for “custom stickers” I believe it is more important than ever to communicate more information and personally consult with our clients to assure the best sticker/decal/label product for their needs at the best possible price. We may no longer be at the top of the search engines for certain keywords but we do still have an exceptional customer service team, vast knowledge base of designing, producing and marketing with stickers, and the very best production resources available in the U.S.
I’ve taken a close look at the “latest and greatest” printing methods, and though they may be the best options on some sticker projects, often the high quality of older tried and true methods are still superior. The same can be said, I think, of websites and businesses selling stickers – just because there are more options to automate connections and the buying process with clients does not mean this is an improvement on getting customers exactly what they need at the best price. Old school customer service can go a long way. And that, in fact, is how Websticker continues to grow despite a poor economy and increased competition.
Promotional stickers themselves are a marketing medium that is “old school” but still tried and true. There may be nifty new technologies to stay in front of, connect and communicate with prospects but a basic bumper sticker was social media before there was “social media”. Promotional stickers are “posted” by fans, build identity, and start conversations – sound familiar?
I’ll be discussing maximizing the promotional power of your stickers, new digital printing options, and thoughts on stickers as “social media” in future blog posts, but till then… “When you want your name to stick”,  I hope we can be of help.
By Jeff Nicholson

Two Websticker Employees Arrested

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Last year one of our Websticker.com employees was hauled away to “jail” and this year two employees did time. The offense… “Having a big heart”.

John DeRienzo and Brian Neilson took part in the local MDA Lock-Up to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Between the two of them they raised over $1130. for Jerry’s Kids that will support ongoing research and sending kids to a special summer camp.

There were Warrant’s for their arrest as well as these great shots of John and Brian behind bars. The only thing missing was a bumper sticker saying “I Did Time For Jerry’s Kids”. Maybe next year.

At Websticker.com we support many important causes and continue to offer free custom promotional stickers to a worthy cause every month through our Sticking With You Program.

Though John and Brian are now out of jail, and back at their desks working hard to make stickers the best they can be, they’d love to have a few more donations go to MDA.

Stickers for Vermont Flood Recovery

Most people have heard that Vermont was hit hard by the rainy remains of Hurricane Irene. The outpouring of support, benefit shows, cleanup labor, and people opening their homes, hearts, and wallets has been inspiring. There is still a lot of work to do. If you are interested in helping there is a guide to what you can do Here.

I’d like to thank all the Websticker.com clients and customers who called to see how we got through the disaster. We were lucky in Stowe and had limited flooding and damage. I’d especially like to thanks Chris Bucci at HeartSticker.com for literally giving back. We print stickers for Heartsticker and when Chris heard about the troubles in VT he packed a box with stickers, t-shirts and pins and sent them back to us to sell for flood relief fundraising and giving to volunteers. We handed the materials on to a local FEMA office. Check out Heartsticker.com – Chris is someone who’s heart really is in the right place and he’s got a lot of great products for you to show where your heart is.

At Websticker.com we have tried to do our part in the best way we know how, making custom stickers. We are producing any stickers that benefit flood recovery or any farmers or businesses effected by the floods at our cost as well as some sticker jobs for free through our Sticking With You Program. Stickers are making a difference! Let us know if we can help you in any way and thanks for your support of Vermont and everyone effected by natural disasters.

 

 

Do You Want Fries With That Custom Sticker?

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We often assume that when you hire an “expert” in a certain field that the work will come at a premium price. After all they are the best at what they do, they have specialized equipment, they are in demand… they must cost more. In some cases this is true but often it is far from the truth.

We recently bid out a project at my house – we needed a fence built, trees removed, some driveway work, some wood cut and moved and other assorted groundskeeping tasks. I was very tempted to hire a capable friends business who could do all of these projects with his hard working crew. But out of interest for other opinions (and frugality) I got separate estimates from a fence builder, a professional tree service, and a gravel road contractor. All the prices from the specialized services came in well below my friend’s estimates for the different tasks needed.

The fence done by Gallup Brook is now complete (and is awesome), and came in below the estimate, despite them taking down a few trees along the way themselves. When the tree service comes in that project will be easier or can be expanded to include some additional work. The thing we often forget about specialized services is how much more focused and efficient they can be. No need to rent equipment or figure out how to use something. No down time coordinating extra workers – just attacking the job that you do every day and getting it done well.

In our sticker business we often get asked; “do you guys do t-shirts?” or “can you do my business cards?”. Our reply is usually “unless it’s a sticker business card or a sticker with a t-shirt on it, no” and we’ll try to direct them to someone else that can help. At Websticker.com we focus on things that stick (stickers, decals, magnets, labels). Over the last 20 years we have been able to focus on improving our systems, our design and the value of our finished products. We have had opportunities to sell other promotional items and other design services but we’ve made the choice to stay focussed and do one thing (stickers) extremely well. Does dealing with the sticker experts cost more? No. Just like the fence maker who cranked out a beautiful fence on our property, we add value-added services (like design and marketing), work efficiently with the best factories and equipment, and use our years of experience to get the best product for our customer’s needs at the best value.

So, remember, you don’t always get what you pay for and often the best value is in using the most experienced and niche focussed expert for a given job. Of course reputation, recommendations and reviews are always important as there are many self proclaimed “experts” and “specialists” that may cause more damage than just being a bad value. Do your homework, check your references but don’t be afraid to spend money with the most reputable and knowledgeable experts – that is probably your best value over the long run.

 

By Jeff Nicholson