Are Checks Still Relevant?




Once upon a time, a transfer of money involved bags of heavy coins. Which proved unwieldy especially as commerce picked up. Here’s a brief history of how checks became the preferred method of exchange:

  • The first idea of a check shows up in ancient Rome in the 1st century BCE
  • In the 1200’s, bills of exchange began to be used for international commerce
  • In the early 1500’s in the Dutch Republic, ‘cashiers’ began to hold money for people for a fee and would cash notes written on that deposit
  • In the 1600’s, bills of exchange were introduced in England and by 1717 the Bank of England used a special form printed on “cheque paper” to prevent fraud
  • In 1770, clerks from all the banks in London would meet daily at a tavern to exchange checks and settle balances
  • In America, the Bank of New York, established by Alexander Hamilton in 1784, began issuing checks
  • In 1831, the Bank of Scotland was the first to personalize checks with customers’ names
  • In 1959, the standard for machine readable characters was established

Check volume increased steadily through the 1980’s and into the mid-1990’s when debit cards and other means of electronic transactions began.

But now there are people who believe we are seeing the end of the paper check and everything will be digital shortly…and others who say that is premature. Many countries in Europe no longer use checks, opting for a system called giro (wire transfers) or even doing transfers through an ATM. Finland stopped issuing checks in 1993! The nice thing about that system is the payer initiates the paying process rather than waiting for the payee to start the check cashing process.

The US is still dependent on checks with billions being written annually. New technologies are making it easier for small businesses to process credit cards, but there are still merchants who do not and most landlords require checks for rent payments.

Despite the statistics of one million forged checks per day, there is no evidence that digital is more secure than checks. Data breaches happen all the time and can affect tens of millions in one fell swoop. Because they are paper-based, checks are most costly to process and require more steps. Banks interested in lowering costs and increasing efficiency will continue to come up with alternate forms of payment and no doubt checks will one day be a thing of the past.

Solutions: Calendar Stickers

calendar-stickerSometimes the simplest looking things have the potential to pack a very big punch. These calendar stickers are a great example. At the size of a business card, these removable stickers are perfect for sticking to the back of smart phones, on refrigerators, wallets, folders, walls…wherever you want to be able to quickly glance to check a date.

I don’t know about you, but ever since I stopped carrying around a checkbook with the register books that came printed with calendars, I’ve been a bit lost calendar-wise. Seeing all of the dates right there makes for an easy reference, and there’s still room for your branding. It’s an inexpensive and very helpful promotion that will keep you in front of your customers year round!


Make Your Business Card Work for YOU

business-card-guyWhy a Business Card is More Than Just a Business Card

On the surface, a business card provides you with a fast and convenient way to provide your contact information to potential clients, colleagues, and others you meet over the course of a day. However, business cards can also provide you with much more than this basic function. Let’s take a closer look.

Add a QR Code

A QR Code – or quick response code – is the (usually) square grid of different sized squares you’ll see on advertisements and billboards. It is increasingly common for business professionals to add a QR code to the back of a business card. The QR code is scannable by your phone with a special app. Embedded into the QR code is the location you want the scanner to be taken – whether it’s your website, a particular page on the site, a potential purchase, a PDF, your contact information, a video, and more.

This is a fast and easy way to turn a little business card into an extraordinary opportunity to tell customers and clients about your business activities.

Think About the Paper

There are so many paper options available, you’ll do well to give this some consideration. There is nothing wrong with the generally used coated card stock, and there is definitely an argument to use it in some instances. However, the sense of touch is very powerful and can add a lot to your message. Explore different weights and textures. Some textures work better on digital machines and some better on offset. Heavier card stock – or sometimes even more than one piece sandwiched together – can add a lot of legitimacy to your business and also make it harder for people to ignore or discard.

Get Graphic!

Don’t be afraid to let your card be an expression of who you are and what your business stands for. There are some protocols to stay within for certain industries – you won’t be seeing a corporate lawyer with anything too wild and crazy, it just doesn’t befit the industry – but there is a lot of room for creative expression, color, design, fonts, etc. You want to be easily recognizable and remembered – while staying connected to your branding and your message.

Include a Link to Your Website

It’s common practice to add a website on a business card. This allows you to pass along additional contact information, a location map and driving directions to get to your place of business, a link to your email address or other ways to contact you, a full write-up of your products and services and much more. Your website may be a complete portal to your company, and the more comprehensive the website is, the more important it is to include a link to your website on the business card.

Your Own Image

It might make you a bit uncomfortable initially, but adding your own image to your card can make you more recognizable and make your clients feel more connected to you. This is a great way to humanize you and add a charming touch of personalization to your cards.

As you can see, a business card that is well-thought-out may be much more than a basic business card that transfers contact information to another person. By putting a bit of thought, creativity, and possibly pushing through your comfort zone, you can more easily maximize the benefit that your business card can provide.

Don’t Forget the Envelope!

porath-envelopesDirect mail pieces are a design challenge in and of themselves. Often, they are postcards or self-mailers (larger pieces that are folded down with an integrated mailing panel) which are designed to be eye-catching and convey information and stand out in the pile of mail in the box. They have the advantage of being ‘naked’ – seen and processed on some level even if being recycled.

Direct mail that is inserted into envelopes poses the additional design challenge of encouraging recipients to open the envelope to see what is inside. Depending on what you are sending, sometimes the best answer is to keep it simple and simply have the address and return address on the envelope – maybe with your logo above the return address. This is especially true if you are sending to an office or somewhere there may be intermediaries who are tasked with tossing anything that looks like a solicitation!

But more often, you’re going to want to take advantage of all that print real estate to entice the receiver to open the envelope to find out what’s inside or to reinforce the message that is awaiting them inside.

Here are a few things to think about to integrate your envelope into your mailing:

1.       Add a ‘teaser’ message – use words that will pique the reader’s interest and make them think you’re addressing them directly “Exclusive offer for bowlers inside” and if you have enclosed something in the envelope, tell them! “Two free passes, just for you!”

2.       Tell them what you want them to do – use words like “see inside,” “look inside,” or “open immediately.”

3.       Use graphics or pictures to really get their attention. If you have a product you are selling, a picture of what you are offering with the deal – “free” “25% off” etc. will be sure to grab their attention.

4.       Add a deadline. “Reply by…” lends urgency to your message making it more likely that the envelope will be opened rather than set aside for later. Make sure it’s a real deadline so the reader doesn’t feel duped once they open the envelope.

5.       Don’t try to trick people with “official” looking envelopes. If you’re making it look like an invoice or an official notice of some sort as part of your design strategy that’s one thing. If you are doing it to trick them into opening, you will not get the desired response.

Whatever you do, the important thing is that you give the envelope as much thought as you give the piece going inside the envelope.

Benefits of Branded Apparel

porath-fleeceBranded apparel can be as simple as your company name embroidered on a dress shirt and as complex as a full color logo, graphics, and text printed from seam to seam. It’s a great marketing tool that is advertising your company while not being interpreted as advertising. People see it, it has a positive psychological effect on their perception of your company, and it reinforces your brand. At the same time, your employees feel more connected to your company and see themselves as brand ambassadors and experts in the field. Every company and organization can benefit from branded apparel. Here are a few reasons you might want to order them for your business or organization.

Corporate Culture

Branded apparel gives a sense of community among employees. It establishes a corporate dress code that is professional and comfortable. Often the apparel can be a bit more casual, as the uniformity adds a bit more formality. The sense of community can positively effect employees’ sense of pride in their company, leading to a better work ethic and higher job satisfaction.

Branded apparel is effective outside of the work environment as well. Every time your business’ name and branding is seen it reinforces your place in people’s minds and increases your legitimacy. Fun and comfortable shirts and baseball caps will encourage your employees to passively promote your business by wearing them on the weekend and at local events.

It may be that branded apparel is not what you want on a daily basis in your company – instead you may want to designate certain days as ‘wear to work’ days. They are also perfect to promote special events your company is participating in or sponsoring – groundbreakings, fun runs, charity events, anniversaries, etc.

Corporate Image

Customers tend to associate employees wearing branded apparel with large, well-established businesses. It gives them a sense of confidence and security in their decision to use your services. People associate branded items with higher quality – and wearing branded apparel taps into that psychology.

Customers also see employees wearing branded apparel as more authoritative and have more confidence in their expertise. And wearing that branded apparel may give your employees a stronger sense of confidence in their own expertise and may increase their dedication to providing excellent customer service as they see themselves as a company ambassador.

Customers like getting special gifts, and branded apparel is always a favorite. Let your customers be your brand ambassadors! Depending on your company, you can also have your branded apparel for sale – and if you are an organization, having branded apparel for sale can be a great fundraiser.

There are literally hundreds of different styles of corporate apparel available – shirts, tanks, oxfords, fleece, jackets, pants, hats, and more – in different materials and colors. There is one that is right for your business, whether your employees wear them every day or only occasionally. The benefit to your company will be positive.

Solutions: Branded Shirts and Fleeces

Branded shirts and fleeces (corporate apparel) offer a lot of benefits to a business or organization. On the employee side, other than the ease of dressing in the morning, wearing corporate apparel gives a stronger identity with the company’s values, mission, and goals. On the customer side, employees wearing corporate apparel appear as both brand ambassadors and experts in their field. This increases the customer’s confidence in the employee and the company.

With our new colorful logo, we decided that we wanted the uniformity of shirt style but gave each employee the option of which colors they wanted. The result is a diverse unity that fits our company well.

There are literally hundreds of shirt and fleece styles available. We can help you choose the right option for you.

How Effective is Your Non-Profit Marketing?

Our very own Rachel Gordon was highlighted as a Grow Your Business – Cleveland expert. Click on the video below to get some great tips on how to make your non-profit marketing as effective as possible. Visit their website at to see more!

Solutions: Fans!

Summer and hot weather is right around the corner. Yes, there is air conditioning – but not everywhere and not always effective. Think about any event leading people to congregate and you’re looking at an event that could use a fan…with your branding on it! And branding doesn’t necessarily mean corporate – these fans are perfect for weddings, church services, and funerals, as well as fun runs, town meetings, beer gardens, festivals, fairs and more.

These fans come in a variety of shapes – with or without sticks – with one or two-sided printing – one color or full color. There are so many options you’ll just have to let us know what your situation is and we will help you find the perfect fan!


What’s In It For Me? Does Your Direct Mail Campaign Answer This?

Targeted mailingGetting the Best Response to Direct Mailings

Every industry these days faces stiff competition. It’s crucial to utilize every available marketing channel to promote products and services to potential customers. Online strategies can be both complex and effective, but printed materials still provide a medium that can reach out to more consumers in a way that’s easier to understand and appreciate. Here are some important tactics to ensure you get the most from your direct mail campaigns.

Targeted customers

You need to know who your market is and how to engage them with your message. Your targeted customers will be those most likely to respond to your message. This increases your chances of a response while minimizing wasted time and materials. Your best prospects are past customers who are familiar with your company and product. But it’s vital to reach out to new prospects. Doing this with the most efficiency requires building up a demographic profile or persona of who your ideal customer is and matching prospects with this profile. This requires gathering data through feedback and prior sales into a database where it can be organized to reveal consistent customer traits. You can then get direct mailing lists that target each of your specific customer types.

Professional quality

Quality printing and distribution systems are important. Professional-looking materials are memorable and create interest and trust. It’s also important to your brand to use your logo and colors consistently so consumers will become familiar and comfortable with it. Depending on your needs, you will want a variety of formats, such as booklets, brochures, flyers, envelopes, and more. More permanent and eye-catching designs might include printed magnets, pop-up displays, ad specialties, and posters.

Meaningful messages

How you present your message is important in any ad copy, particularly direct mailing. You want to capture your reader’s attention at a glance, keep them interested in the material, and convey the product’s value to them. Be sure to have a clear offer and call to action, so they aren’t guessing as to what this mailing is all about. Design your message to reflect the interests and concerns of your target market. Females 20 to 30 will have very different lifestyle habits and interests than males 45 to 55. Incorporate images and topics that are popular with the target market segment.

Direct mail campaigns can employ postcards, newsletters, catalogues, and more. The design options are basically unlimited and should be given serious consideration. Every piece of mail should be designed to draw the interest of new customers. The best offer won’t mean a thing without being packaged in an eye-catching, graphically interesting and easily understandable format. There are so many things you can do with print to add more interest – different folds, finishes, textures, shapes, graphics, just to name a few.

If you’re looking for optimal results from your next mailing campaign, all these elements need to be a part of planning and executing it.

Solutions: Building Signs

There are so many things involved in building signs – size, placement, design, permits, installation, and more. We had a monument sign (those are the ones that stand alone with the information closer to ground level) with our old logo, but decided with our new logo to add a sign to the building as well as replace the face of the old monument sign.

No matter where around your building you need signs – inside, outside, directional, etc – we can help!