Jeff's Sticky 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

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

The Sticker Mobile Is Born – Now That’s a Promotional Vehicle!

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Take a look at our new Freely Creative/Websticker.com company car. We’re “adding fun to the fun” by creating the ultimate “promotional vehicle”. To kick things off, we applied almost 300 stickers produced for clients this last year, to the Sticker Mobile hood. Then we went to the back bumper and trunk and added 200 more. The roof is next!.
In past years we have mailed Thank You Postcards to our clients highlighting the best stickers from the previous year. After over 15 years it seemed time to reach beyond a limited postcard mailing list and showcase our stickers to our community and beyond. We don’t just design and produce promotional stickers, we’re making them part of a larger work of art, creating a buzz and having a great time doing it.
If you’re not a client of Websticker.com, it’s easy to join in the fun and harness the promotional power of stickers. Just contact Websticker with any sticker related questions, for comparative pricing, or if you need help designing/developing a powerful sticker campaign. Remember, any ideas (or businesses) worth spreading are stickers worth making! And, as an added benefit we will feature them on The Sticker Mobile.
Let’s keep those stickers rolling and promoting! Have a great end to your summer. Want to keep up with news, stories and the development of the Sticker Mobile? Or follow us on Facebook and subscribe to this Blog.

Charity and Non-Profit Promotional Stickers – For Free

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Business Card Sticker with Websticker.com logo

For over 15 years Websticker.com has been helping design and produce custom stickers for non-profits, charitable organizations, schools, fundraising efforts, and many personal causes and efforts all over the world. For all these organizations we offer free design and exceptional quality stickers for the best possible price.

In 2008 we also formally started an additional charitable sticker program to give back to worthy clients who might need financial help with a run of promotional stickers. We call it the “Sticking With You” program and offer one organization per month their sticker design and production at no charge. Times are tough for many non-profit organizations and for the dedicated staff at Websticker.com this is a call to offer more help, not less.

We’ve printed free custom stickers for Climbing for Spina Bifida, 350.org, 911 Police Aid Foundation, Reading is FUNdamental, UGA Heros and many more. Visit the Charity Stickers Page at our website and see a list of organizations who have received promotional stickers from us at no cost.

Do you have a worthy cause that can benefit from promotional stickers? Simply follow the application details on the Charity Sticker Page and submit a request to us. Although we can’t produce free sticker jobs for everyone, we can offer free design and special discounts to all worthy causes that apply for the program. We hope we can be of help and are impressed and amazed at the amount of great selfless work being done around the country and world. Stick with it!

By Jeff Nicholson

 

Five Questions For Brian – Sticker Designer at Websticker

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Brian Neilson is the head of Graphic Design for Websticker.com. Every day he works back and forth with people creating effective sticker layouts and optimizing and improving existing artwork. I asked him a few questions so customers and visitors can get to know him a bit better.

1) What’s the best part of your job at Websticker.com?

The best part of my job is getting to use Illustrator all day. I get to design new ideas, improve existing ones and I am always learning new shortcuts and tricks that this incredibly powerful program has to offer. I also really enjoy talking with people from all walks of life, from all over the country.

More important than enjoying my daily tasks, is the work environment that Websticker provides. Flexible hours, great benefits and working with people that are more like family than co-workers make it an ideal place to work.

2) You design a lot of stickers, everyday – do you like stickers?

I have always liked stickers. My friend’s parents owned a ski shop and would always come back from ski shows with hundreds of stickers for us to pick through. That is where my sticker collection started. The thing with me and stickers was that I would need to find the perfect place for a sticker, because after it was applied to something, I could no longer include it in my collection. I still have most of the stickers from my original collection because of this quirkiness.

Since I started working at Websticker I have set aside the stickers I find most relevant and appealing which has significantly increased my collection. I think it may be time to finally start putting my sticker collection to use and create a collage to compliment the other sticker montages in the Websticker office.

3) Have you seen stickers you’ve designed or Websticker has printed out in the world?

One of my favorite things to do on road trips is to pay attention to all of the stickers on cars. I see a lot of stickers that we have produced. A lot of ski areas, such as Sunday River, Alta, Stowe, Jay Peak, Wachusett, and the list goes on.
“No Farms, No Food” has been showing up a lot recently. Chris Bucci who owns heartsticker.com out in Portland, Oregon has a sticker that is die cut to the shape of Oregon with a green heart in the middle. I have started to see those on cars right here in Stowe, at the other end of the country. Others I see frequently are Flylow Gear, Innova Champion Discs, Skier Shop, Turtle Fur, iRide, and hundreds of various Euro stickers that we have produced.

4) You’re in Stowe, Vermont. What’s the place all about?

I was born and raised in Stowe and am very fortunate to have grown up in such a wonderful town/community. I still play hockey at the rink I grew up playing on and ski on the slopes I learned to ski on. There is something very special about that. The majority of the people I grew up with, have moved on to cities and other states across the country, but whenever they come back to visit, it is evident how much they miss their hometown. Stowe is a unique community full of support and great, active people.

5) Any final thoughts custom stickers.

It’s amazing how prevalent stickers are in our society. I never made this realization until I started working here at Websticker, but stickers are everywhere… and with good reason. From bands to large corporations and everything in between, stickers are an integral part of getting your name, brand and website in front of as many people as possible. It is amazing how a piece of vinyl with adhesive can be so powerful. Whether it is used to get an unknown name in front of a large audience, to revolutionize the way people think, or to just make someone laugh or smile, stickers are limitless in their ability to grab people’s attention. It is exciting being part of the promotional sticker world and knowing what can be achieved from helping create an effective sticker.

 

Sticker Testing and Outdoor Durability

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Websticker.com just completed some extensive sticker testing using Accelerated Weather Testing Equipment at our factory. We compared flexographic printing, offset printing and screen printing durability. We also compared different sticker companies products. We’re still sorting through results but it became apparent that the comparative photos and data just aren’t that exciting. So, we came up with an idea to do a series of random, unscientific, durability tests.

Check out this video of my son Eric set loose with a screen printed vinyl sticker on his shoe. It’s very doubtful that anyone would ever need a sticker for this purpose but it was much more fun and quick to test in this random manner. Frankly I was amazed it stayed stuck to the flexible, rough surface of his shoe.

Why are some outdoor sticker products 3-5 year outdoor durability when others may begin to fade after a year? Why won’t an over laminated paper label hold up outside? Why will fluorescent inks begin to fade in direct sunlight after just 30 days? These are all good questions and we answer them all the time. It is important for consumers to know details of print methods, materials and the projected (or guaranteed) life span of any custom sticker product you may be considering. I talked a bit about the top questions that should be asked by a sticker printer or sticker distributor in a previous video – What is the sticker being used for? Where will it ideally be applied? How long does it need to last? The bottom line for Websticker.com -We want to produce the most effective and economical sticker possible for your specific needs.
Websticker.com welcomes your questions, ideas for further random durability tests, and samples are always available for testing your own desired applications.

 By Jeff Nicholson

Stickers Made in The U.S.A. – 100%

Websticker.com is headquartered in Stowe, Vermont (Check out the view in our backyard). Our production facilities are in the Midwestern US. And all materials used in the production of our custom stickers, labels, decals and magnets are made and purchased in the USA.

Aerial picture of a sticker, decal, label factory in the midwest USAWe’re encouraged to buy local whenever possible. If we can’t keep business within our own town and state we do everything we can to support the U.S. economy by keeping business in the country.

We certainly are not the only sticker company 100% U.S. based and US consumers are lucky to have many great local printing options. We hope our dedication to customer service and the pleasure we take in where we live and what we do shines through.

3 sizes of outdoor quality vinyl American flag stickers and decals from Websticker.comAs a reminder, Websticker.com also sells (and gives away free) high quality U.S. flag stickers and decals. You can get 250 outdoor flag decals for just $58. Smaller packages are available as well as high quantity discounts.

 

By Jeff Nicholson